What’s truth? Many a philosopher sat at his desk, pondering “truth”. Can experience with a desk bring truth? No. Only action demonstrates truth: truth is what works.

Tilt over like an otter on her back, big gulp of air, lift the fins sky high, and the blue of the sky turns into the deep blue sea, a universe wilder than outer space, yet through which the human mammal can dive masterfully. The blue yonder is pierced by the silver and gold flashes of sunlight violently reflecting on fishes’ scaly skins amidst undulating algae. Who wants to fly? Everybody. Forget artificial wings. Flying is practiced best with fins and goggles.

A school of 200 depths’ yellowish, dinner plates sized denizens groups up, and rotates to intimidate the suspicious predator in their midst. Another fish with red stripes let me approach, simply happy to extend his impressive spiky dorsal fin. A message well received: don’t touch me there, or anywhere.

Trans-Species Cooperative Intelligence At Sea

Trans-Species Cooperative Intelligence At Sea

It has never been so easy to approach so many fishes. Either the fishes of the area are less hunted, or they learned what a spear gun looks like.

Solo deep sea diving is about the most dangerous sport imaginable. Death can happen at any moment by losing consciousness, and falling to the bottom of the sea (there is no buoyancy below 13 meters down or so, even if one started with full lungs, so one sinks).

Losing consciousness? Try to spend 56 minutes out of 60 below water. Solo deep sea diving, being the most dangerous sport, is best to test one’s philosophical ability and control. Indeed, it requires a perfect theory of truth.

A perfect dive is a perfect truth.

A logical system has two elements:

  1. The basic rules of the subjacent logic L. (“The logic”.)
  2. The semantic truth S in the engulfing universe U. (“the semantics”.)

Basically, a) says how to make well-formed propositions, and b) which ones are true.

L contains axioms, so does the semantics. Where is “TRUTH” in all this? It’s both in L and S.

Truth = L Union S

The main axis of thinking ever since civilization has prospered has been to reduce S and augment L. Why? Because S embodies factual truth, it can be enormous.

For example in animism, S is enormous: every tree, forest, spring, animal, and even cloud shape is endowed with a soul of its own. Modern science has reduced this to zero (inasmuch as it impacts their behavior).

In Elementary Particle Physics, S is disturbingly large: the so called “Standard Model is full of free parameters and mysterious symmetries (sometimes on, sometimes off, for no known reasons).

For a while in physics, it looked as if S was reducing to a few principles (such as the conservation of energy). But then the on-going main interpretation of Quantum Physics blew up the Logic to hell. Semantics became everything.

How? By claiming that even what seemed impossible has a non-zero probability of occurring. In today’s Quantum Physics, camels go through needles, it’s just a matter of time.

Nietzsche tried to reduce S, the Semantics, to the Will To Power.

That’s, of course, stupid.

The Will To Power mostly rises in social animals. Such animals defend themselves as one, mind, the mind of the leader, so determining the “best” leader (namely the meanest) is of the essence.

A better reduction of meaningful motivation in human beings, and, more generally, animals is the much more general Will To Survival. All the power most animals have, is to insure their survival.

All these fishes I was gliding by, had a theory of mine, a theory of my mind, more exactly. You could see it in their eyes, how they wobbled, and fixated, until, reassured, they went back to considering other tasks, They had deduced, from their experience (S above) and the logic L of the situation (my non-threatening behavior), that their survival was not compromised.

What dominates species out there, in the jungle or the sea, is survival. The Will To Survival. Survival is determined by what is true.

Human beings are truth machines. And so are all brainy animals.

Fishes are very brainy.

Those doubting this should see a grouper inciting a moray eel (muraena) to hunt. The grouper is good at catching fishes in the open, moray eels are supreme in cracks and holes. The grouper goes to the muraena, whose head full of large sharp teeth observes him. Then he shakes his head right and left, in a gesture simulating the motions both eels and groupers make when swimming.

It may require several attempts, but then they go hunt together, the eels below the rocks, the grouper above. Suddenly, in flash of activity, many fishes meet their demise. Both fishes are five times more efficient when hunting together.

If a fish escapes from a grouper and hides into a crack, the grouper often goes to the closest moray eel he can find. Then he entices the eel to go fishing. Then the grouper repeats the head shaking dance, more slowly, where the fish went to hide. Then the eel dives into the hole. (Groupers, who are known to be very clever fishes, also cooperate with other fishes.)

Grouper and eel eat, because they have discovered a few basic truths.

Truth is what works.

Notice that the nature of the work Moray Eels and Groupers can do is limited. Thus, so is the notion of truth they can reach. Octopuses are very intelligent, they can unscrew bottles. However they live only a few years, and have no means of cultural transmission. The drama of the Octopus is that every single individual has to reinvent everything.

Advanced life has made intelligence ubiquitous, but finding truth has been highly constrained by the nature of the work species can do. The genus Homo, though, could work in the forests, in the savannah, in the trees, on the cliffs, across streams, and even arms of the sea, or under water. Even before it became super-brainy. And that’s why it became super-brainy.

Our ape like ancestors developed vast notions of truth, because they could do all sorts of work. In turn that created an ecological niche, the superiority niche, which made intelligence a greater advantage. (Until the recent reign of vegetarians, the politically correct, and other gallant promoters of weakness and retardation at the cost of brutal logical efficiency… Or simply the crutches of advancing technology: the present Homo seems to have significantly smaller brains than late model Neanderthals.)

How does that fit the [Truth = Logic + Semantic] equation above? It’s simple: Semantics is true, when it works, and Well Formed Formulas in logic are also what works. As science progresses, Semantic Truth’s empire shrinks, while that of Logic expands. How? Ever more logic shows how, and why, the Semantic Truth is actually the work of logic.

From the physics perspective, “action”, “work” and “truth” are all the same, as the Principle of Least Action ties them up together: the truth of the trajectory, the truth of the evolution of a process, is what minimizes “work” (of/in the physical action). Wherever we look, we see it:

Truth is what works.

Patrice Ayme’

Note 1: Science Is What Works, INSTINCT IS FAST LEARNING, and TRUTH AS ENERGY contain elements of the preceding, while developing further other perspectives.

Note 2:  So what is the difference between humans and animals? The greater capability in humans to do all works, so construct all truths, including the work, and truth, of cultural transmission.

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35 Responses to “DIVING INTO TRUTH”

  1. Chris Snuggs Says:

    “Difference between humans and animals? Greater evolution in humans to do all works, construct all truths, including cultural transmission.”
    Chris Snuggs: The principal difference is the capacity of humans for evil.

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Yes, capacity for evil, the devil, thus for details. Evil is the Good Lord. That’s also why Satan is known as “Le Malin”. He was “badly born” (malignus), just as Prometheus, because he stole opportunity from fate. That had got to make him very crafty. No intelligence, no evil. A dilemma. Not to say a paradox, and certainly a warning bound to drive crazy the politically correct.

      Here I go, deep down, to put my helmet on, or at least, the Ode To Joy, real loud.

  2. Chris Snuggs Says:

    PA: “The most meaningful motivation in human beings, and, more generally, animals, is the Will To Survival. It puts Nietzsche to shame.”
    Chris Snuggs: This is true of all organisms, including companies. Why pick on humans in this respect?

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      It’s not a question of “picking on” animals (“organisms” in general have no will), but picking on Nietzsche and his most brainless followers. When I dive, I survive, I do not search for power. Although, without power, I would drown.

      So my Will To Power is slave to my Will To Survive, itself enslaved to my curiosity (Will To Know).

  3. Alexi Helligar Says:

    Truth is not only what works but also includes what does not work. Intelligence is what works.

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      I agree that non working strategies dominate the measured space of all strategies. Arguably, in some sense, working strategies have measure zero relative to those which DO NOT work. However it works that it does not work. Neurologically, in first reaction, knowing that a plant is edible does not differ from knowing it’s poisonous.

      [Thanks to Alexi Helligar, for pointing out the embarrassing typo I first made, to forget the “DO NOT” above… Details, details, are really diabolical…]

  4. red Says:

    bunch of advanced cultures died out because they grasped advanced semantics too soon, before the logic caught up amongst all human kind. Until all humans start living as one country, its probably a good idea not to focus too much on truth. Dont ditch those guns any time soon, else they will teach you new truths (and there’s plenty of truth in the world to go around for ever).

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      I agree about the necessity not to stick to semantics too soon. Actually, rigid Semantics is, arguably, what Europe is NOT about. Differently from China, which stuck to Confucianism, and Confucianism-like faiths until the 20C, Europe went through many Semantics in the last 4,000 years.
      First, after rather wiping out people such as the Basques, Celto-German civilization reigned, before getting Hellenized… Then it got Roman-Republicanized. Then Roman-imperialized, then Middle-Easternified (Jews, Syrians, Christians, and then Catholic-theocratic).
      Second, after a significant collapse, the Franks took control, implementing radical changes.
      Third, the “Renovated Rome” of the Franks degenerated in a new style local plutocracy… Actually a rebirth of the one that caused the fall of Rome…
      Then the Cathars proclaimed it was all BS.
      Fifth, the Church went nuts, while the plutocrats went national.
      And so on.
      By 1789, simultaneously, the USA and France proclaimed Republican Constitutions (although France proclaimed the Republic only in September 1792).
      There are many truths, but that of the strongest is always the best.

      • Benign Says:

        Narcosis of the deep has evidently set in.

        • Patrice Ayme Says:

          Narcosis of the deep is associated with Nitrogen, and is not noticeable generally above 100 feet. However I do apnea and don’t go that deep usually.

          However, hypoxia causes problems of mind alteration. Even worse are CO2 high levels. Now mind alteration is the friend of philosophy.

      • red Says:

        “There are many truths, but that of the strongest is always the best.”

        Tell that to africans over last 500 years, or infact any human sect that got mercilessly subjected to newer kind of “strongest truths”. Islm/jhad religion was all about this. If you asked any of those zealots occupying new countries and forcefully converting entire cultures, they would say the same as your above quote. They dont realize the bigger truth, as they are in their own shell. This is no different than saying whoever has strongest voice wins the discussion.

        Its seems you like the plutocratic version of the truth ? i know you are against plutocrats, why not apply the same logic to the topic of truth.

        The reality is that there is NO such thing “strongest truth”, only truths that delivers you from the rat race (== peace). And it requires that everything you see/perceive/conceive (==other humans, their deliverance) is delivered as well. There is no peace for the humans until they all collectively realize it. This was the path some cultures were trying (eg: tibet, its underpinnings). But unfortunately, the supposed “strongest truth” in their locality wiped it off (polluted). The rat race continues in that locality.

        • Patrice Ayme Says:

          Strongest truth is better is an ironical allusion to La Fontaine (Wolf & Lamb). Yet, that’s also the story of evolution, on the grandest scale. Those who are wrong get eaten. That plutocrats use it without restraint makes them stronger. That’s the sense of all the fund raising of Obama and the like.

          It’s predatory. Predation works, though. For the predator. It’s important to realize that rather than, as many victims try to pretend, being bad, predation is bound to fail.

          BTW the Buddhist empires (as some point, all of India) tend to be wiped out. I wrote a whole essay on that (wiping out by Genghis Khan). That means that, as a protecting device, Buddhism does not work too well: see Japan (where the ridiculous Shinto religion dominates from around the emperor, and Zen is of little influence, aside from a political submission).

          • red Says:

            circles back to my original comment “bunch of advanced cultures died out because …”

            they dying out does not mean the truths they are trying to live were wrong or “less true”. Heck, even accidents or some random luck could give some cultures physical/natural edges (nothing to do with self-worth). Like for example NKor getting nuclear wpns. Lets say they wipe off some small countries with this edge they have. Do we then advocate NKor’s ideals/culture ?

            There is dumb, and then there is wisdom. If the dumb through brute-force figured out working exterminators, do we think nature preferred them because they were able to wipe-off the wisdom (who never saw it coming). Nature is full of “never saw it coming”s.

            • Patrice Ayme Says:

              “Moral” comes etymologically and thus was en-gendered by sustainable”.

              The Aztecs had an incisive, very interesting philosophy. Yet, their entire civilization was wiped out. When its existence is obliterated, so is any concept of a culture. The same happened with Carthage.

              What I am driving at, is that a culture that is completely gone (not the case of Rome, Greece, Crete, or Old Sumer) is automatically less than inferior.

            • red Says:

              then what are we waiting for, let us secretly nuke out others and then we can claim superiority. Survival at any/all costs cant be the winner/loser measure. We dont teach this to kids for a reason, why propose it for entire species.

            • Patrice Ayme Says:

              It’s not a proposition, but an observation, that extermination primes culture.
              We don’t teach extermination, because humans can’t be without love.

            • red Says:

              before we became humans, extermination was winning big time. Early animal-human cultures trumped everything, and they became better HUMANS. Empathy, love etc.etc. are LOT more powerful evolutionary forces. In other words, cultures can and do trump all kinds of EVIL in the world.

            • Patrice Ayme Says:

              Especially when they got eradicated. To be answered in separate comment.

          • red Says:

            “as a protecting device, Buddhism does not work too well”

            Its the ultimate protector. Its problem was it was too early for the sheeple to realize it (semantics ahead of logic of general sheeple). It was meant to be a path for all humans to use as a whole.

            If some sheeple destroy the bridge of that path, we cant blame the path. You blame the sheeple. Because, truths are truths. Only the sheeple living them are fallible.

            • Patrice Ayme Says:

              Anyway, Buddhism is more varied than Xtianism (although not Islam). So it would be good to know which one we are considering.

            • red Says:

              the kind which sticks to peace, logic, reasoning. Not some propaganda. Even though buddhism is varied, its core message/ideals are the same.

            • Patrice Ayme Says:

              And that core would be? Pain avoidance? Pain mitigation?

            • red Says:

              the word “pain” is used to explain to beginners in buddhism. The rabbit hole goes much deeper. Its about developing positive inner inertias (aka bodhicitta, “the force”). Its about human evolution 2.0. There is no other “way”.

  5. Andrej Dekleva Says:

    To say ‘Truth is what works’, is an over-reach of Platonic idealism, weak and aristocratic in its harmonious utopian shit. Even grouper and eel learned that what works is not truth, but deceit and surprise… but as we all know truth is not definable with one verb, let’s let it rest as well.

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      I am pretty much anti-Platonic. I believe the structure of ideas is real and geometric (in brains). Plato really believed ideas were NOT of this world.

      Plato was also deeply involved with tyrants, including the one of Syracuse. I have kept my distance with my frienemy Obama (and broke off from all family members who got close to him, by just saying it, as it was, and is; it was very difficult for years, but now it’s getting to be the obvious thing to have done; my only regret was to get involved with Obama to start with… although it was instructive).

      It also all depends what one means by “work”. I had that problem with Alexi. Alexi was formed as a philosopher. Kant had started as an astronomer (PhD), I myself studied physics for like an eternity, before writing philosophy.

      In any case, in physics, there is the concept of “work”, just as in logic that of “well formed”. This is what I used. And that sense eel and grouper work together… And most people would agree to that.

      Eel and grouper do not use deceit and surprise as much as a traditional pincer tactic familiar to the military.

  6. Andrej Dekleva Says:

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      “Only the strong survives” is not in general true at the level of individuals, but certainly, it’s the tragedy of the genus Homo, and it has been true at the grossest evolutionary level (contemplate Homo Florensis).

      Yet, by theory of Neanderthal disappearance is not a case of the strongest surviving, but of the most prolific surviving.

  7. Chris Snuggs Says:

    “No intelligence, no evil. A dilemma. Not to say a paradox, and certainly a warning bound to drive crazy the politically correct.”

    Chris Snuggs And for dictators? No education, no rebellion – or at least none effective.

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      This is the age, not of democracy, but of dictatorships. That people do not realize this, is a testimony to the mental subjugation they thrive in.

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Lots of the revolutions, historically, were driven by the upper classes, or from the top. Rome (6C BCE), Athens (6C BCE, then Spartan intervention later), Francia (Clovis imperator, son of imperator Childeric, after 480 CE), England (1066 CE and Glorious Revolution), USA (Colonel Washington and company), France (1788 Vizille, and 1789) are examples.

  8. Patrice Ayme Says:

    Red made a number of statements lauding Buddhism, and praising “cultures” (like what? Conquistadores’ culture? USA culture? Roman Senate culture circa 146 BCE? Confederacy Culture? Putin’s culture?).

    What is this Buddhist rabbit hole theory?

    • red Says:

      “cultures” = any system that nurtures(shapes) human minds at group and individual level. If you put new born in the wild, he will grow up with no culture to speak of , and thinks “extermination” is the name of the game. He will probably beat the shit out of all modern humans if he gets his hands on them 🙂

      “mind” was the key for animal->human evolution jump, and it will be the key for next leap in evolution as well. No cultures so far focused more on mind and its inner energies/workings more so than buddhism (and its parents, children cultures). I am not talking about some voodoo stuff here, but about things that any human can examine, experience, analyze himself.

      I do not think the buddhism culture (was not a religion until westerners started calling it) was successful or a “winner”, but its core premise is a good one. I am no big fan of buddhism as a whole, infact i do not care for its name…only the ideas. Lot of buddhist outfits make it more about theology than mind, i pity them they are lost.

      Read the eightfold path, it is all about perfecting your mind. Or for in-depth rabbit-hole read nagarjuna, or shantideva’s detailed commnetary which is one of the core books for some buddhist sects. (i would study chapter 8,9 in depth ,,, its only ~20 pages). See if you can find any BS or god, or some other vague/random ramblings in there :). Its direct scripture, there are lot books on amazon if you prefer a commentary on commentary.

      If evolution is about the fittest, what better is there than perfecting human mind (for the next leap).

      from practical standpoint, its also a smart thing to do. even for short term benifits.

      • Patrice Ayme Says:

        Hello Red. Thanks for the links and detailed answers. I am not as uncultured in these matters as I make it sound perhaps. I just think that the baboon approach is often the best: straight to the source.

        I had written a longer answer to you at some point, but WordPress disappeared it.

        Among the Americans I know, two, including a close family member, there are Buddhist activists (one Tibetan, one Zen). One should even say Buddhist official in the case of my bro in law (he travels to represent his Zen “church”). They became Buddhist big time, well after meeting me. Maybe I scared them into it?

        In any case, one thing I try to do, is to express deep concise thoughts. At the risk of sounding baboon like: baboons are closer to the nature of mind, raw and hot.

        Evolution is indeed all about the mind. That’s why intelligence is ubiquitous in animals. In the case of human, the evolution is cultural. The cynics suggested we were just dogs. But it’s worse: we are baboons. All this to say that contemplating my navel won’t help. In “DIVING DEEP”, I pointed out that intelligence is activity dependent (that’s implicit in Hinduism, hence the Wheel, etc.). It’s even more true for cultural intelligence.

        As far as my theory of religion, republicanism qualifies as a religion. Some forms of Buddhism are more, namely superstitions (Tibetan Buddhism, in particular; not surprisingly some Dalai Lama’s close associates have killed each other in Darjeeling…).

        I have explained all this in detail in essays prior…

  9. Pain Is Relative, But Fishes Feel It | Patrice Ayme's Thoughts Says:

    […] https://patriceayme.wordpress.com/2014/07/27/diving-into-truth/ […]

  10. Why & How Humans Think | Patrice Ayme's Thoughts Says:

    […] “Diving Into Truth“, I pointed out that fishes known to be clever, groupers, are found to recruit […]

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