Law School Discussion

Legal Reasoning

Re: Legal Reasoning
« Reply #370 on: October 07, 2008, 07:45:18 PM »
Charles Sanders Peirce (1839-1914), the founder of pragmatism, spent 4 decades on the investigation of induction and deduction, models of thinking well established in logic, and supplemented them by an inferential procedure which he called abduction. He distinguished 3 kinds of inference: deduction, induction, and abduction. The abductive form was first called hypothetical, then abductive, than retroductive, and only at a later stage abductive consistently. In a semiotic theory of cognition abduction plays a decisive role because only by abduction can we add to our knowledge of the world. Peirce introduces the new kind of inference as "reasoning a posteriori," thus setting it apart from deduction a priori, and he replaces the three classical terms, major premise, minor premise, and conclusion, by his own terms: rule, case, and result. In this way, the sequential order in which the premises and the conclusion are known may be taken into account. Thus each of the 3 statements of the classical syllogism could in principle take any of the 3 positions, whether they are rule, case, or conclusion. The minor premise (the second premise of the classical syllogism), for example, may become the inferred conclusion, as is the case in abduction. The major premise which contains the predicate may naturally also be formulated as a rule (law): All humans are mortal. If X is human, X is mortal. Here it is the most famous of all syllogisms, the Modus Barbara, the deductive model of inference of the figure, the best-known instance of which has to do with the immortal Socrates 

Major Premise (rule): All humans are mortal..................(MaP)
Minor Premise (case): Socrates is human......................(SaM)
_____________________________ _____________________________ ____
Conclusion (result): Socrates is mortal......................(SaP)

The categorical syllogism relates 3 concepts, S (subject), P (predicate), and M (middle), in 3 statements (major premise, minor premise, conclusion) in order to examine their validity. In Peirce's view, the goal of all inferential thinking is to discover something we do not know and thus enlarge our knowledge by considering something we do know.

Boxes with continuous lines contain that which is presupposed as given/true; boxes with dotted lines hypotheses that are inferred

In logic as well as in the philosophy of science a valid deduction is considered to be truth-conserving; if the premises are true, the conclusion must be true, too. The price to be paid for this necessary truth, however, is that the information content of the conclusion is already implicitly contained in the premises. The "mortality of Socrates," the conclusion supplied by Modus Barbara, is nothing new, it was completely contained in the premises. Deduction, therefore, is not synthetic (content-increasing), does not lead to new knowledge. It is analytically true (redundant) and has, therefore, been considered to be merely an "explanatory statement" in the more recent discussion. Deductive thinking proceeds from the general (the rule), through the subsumption of the singular case under the rule, to the assertion of the particular (the result), as the arrows in the figure indicate. In the case of induction the premises (the initial basis) are observational statements, and an inferred conclusion (e.g., a hypothetical rule: All M are P) is considered to be content-increasing, but not truth-conserving because the inference is only a hypothesis that cannot be proved with ultimate certainty. Induction -- the converse of deduction -- progresses from the particular to the general. Therefore the arrows point "from the bottom to the top."

For a long time, Peirce classified induction as a synthetic inference until he had an insight of the greatest relevance to the philosophy of science, namely, that a valid induction already presupposes as a hypothesis the law or the general rule (M is P) which it is supposed to infer, in the first place. For Peirce inductive inferences, must satisfy 2 conditions in order to be valid: the sample must be a random selection from the underlying totality, and the specific characteristic that is to be examined by means of the sample must have been defined before the sample is drawn. The significance of this requirement, called "pre-designation" by Peirce, for the definition of inductive inference is that the predicate P must already be known before the sample (S', S'', S''') is selected from the totality (M). If however, the property to be examined must be defined before the sample is selected, this is only possible on the basis of a conjecture that the property exists in the corresponding totality before the inductive inference is made. How else could the property be known in advance of sample selection? Valid induction, therefore, already presupposes as a hypothesis the conclusion that is to be inferred. More precisely, inductive reasoning is based on a given hypothesis (M is P) and then, by means of samples (S', s"), seeks to establish the relative frequency (p) of the property (P) in the totality (M) with regard to that hypothesis... The condition that the property to be examined must be pre-designated in advance of sample selection makes Peirce conclude explicitly that induction cannot lead to new discoveries. This could mean that the scientist is bound to know already (implicitly) what he does not, in fact, know that he knows.

As it is logically excluded that there can be knowledge before knowing, the cognizing subjects must invent hypotheses on their own before any experience or experimentation takes place. Peirce's logical analysis shows, on the one hand, that induction does not belong among the synthetic forms of inference that, in one way or another, may enlarge our knowledge of the world. On the other hand, any kind of induction is dependent upon hypotheses which must have been constructed beforehand by cognizing subjects. And this process of construction is abductive, as far as its logical form is concerned. If, however, neither induction nor deduction enlarge our knowledge of the world, then abduction as the only knowledge-generating mechanism needs to become the central focus of discussion.

Re: Legal Reasoning
« Reply #371 on: October 07, 2008, 08:01:08 PM »
The abductive mode of inference involves 2 steps: In a first step a "phenomenon" to be explained or understood is presented (1), in Peirce's terminology, a "result," which is the derived conclusion in the classical schema; then, a second step introduces an available or newly constructed hypothesis (rule/law) (2) by means of which the case (3) is abducted. For Peirce, the function of abductive inference is forming an explanatory hypothesis. It is the only logical operation which introduces a new idea. Deduction proves that something must be; induction shows that something actually is operative; abduction merely suggests that something may be. It enables us to bridge the traditional gap between the arts and the sciences because it can be used as a model both of explanation and of understanding. Presented as an inverted modus ponens the abductive schema looks like this:

As it can be seen, this form of reasoning is from consequent to antecedent, from effects to causes, a fallacy in (traditional) logic (a fallacia consequentis). The causal formulation of the explanation of the phenomenon that the road is wet would run as follows: The road is wet because it is raining (because it has rained). The rain is the cause inferred from the effect (the consequent). Abduction, i.e., inferring causes from effects, represents an explanatory principle which, though logically invalid, may still be confirmed inductively. The (potential) confirmation of such hypotheses (logical inferences or theories) says nothing about reality (ontology) in the sense of a representation or mapping but only that the hypotheses are functioning. Therefore, the structures of our logic(s) or our theories do not mirror the structures of things, nor are they derived (deduced) from them. With the primary act of the formulation of such a hypothesis a paradigm, a rule, a method of measurement is provisionally laid down by means of which we then "measure" or "compare" what we conceive of as "nature." Only in the second act arise the notions of "correct/incorrect," fitting/non-fitting, rule-conforming/rule-breaking, etc.

The actual constructive act consists in the apriori specification of a "measuring method" by the cognizing subject (the scientific community) because the world cannot determine for us directly what kind of measuring method or paradigm we must use. And just as the measuring method must be specified before measuring can take place, so induction must be directed/governed/controlled by a hypothesis that has been constructed abductively beforehand. The world, or nature, thus functions as a selection mechanism, as a constraint, which determines whether our hypotheses fit or fail. In the latter case, the scientific community is forced to change the theories, paradigms, or conceptual systems in such ways as they will allow the derivation of viable hypotheses that enlarge our knowledge of the world in the constructivist sense. Viable hypotheses, therefore, do not admit of positive statements about how the world really is, but only negative ones to the effect that other hypotheses do not work. We can, on the other hand, also draw the conclusion that, for a reality different from ours, we would need other "standards," other systems of categories, etc. to be able to orientate ourselves in it because the ones we have would not work. If an abductive inference establishes itself in the scientific community as a new paradigm (a new explanation of a certain phenomenon, like Kepler's hypothesis of the elliptical orbit of the planet Mars), then the logic of the corresponding conceptual system has changed.

An example of a medical diagnosis

Every diagnostic statement by a medical expert functions as an abductive inference.

Re: Legal Reasoning
« Reply #372 on: October 07, 2008, 08:09:37 PM »
The construction of meaning in a system of signs - Abductive inference as semiotic exegesis/interpretation

If we replace the surprising fact by the incomprehensible behavior of a person, then an abductive inference may help us to construct an intentionalist explanation through motives (reasons) that makes the behavior intelligible. All intentionalist or functionalist explanations in psychotherapy thus become interpretable as hypothetical constructions with abduction as their modus operandi.

(1) Observation: Person A shows behavior V in context K, utters x, etc.
(2) Hypothetical rule: A behavior x in context K has the meaning/function (f).
(3) Case/conclusion: A's behavior V has the meaning (f) (is motivated by f).

If we consider the mechanism in the semiotic plane, a sign is introduced as an unexplained result to which, by way of the construction of an encoding rule, or the application of a familiar encoding rule, meaning is or can be assigned (contexts, frames, etc. being of significance, too). Abduction, as a cognitive operation, creates the framework which makes it possible to attribute a singular meaning to signs. The interpretation of signs -- as the schema shows -- is always abductive, or in other words: the fundamental constructive principle of all semiotic interpretation is the finding or inventing of a hypothesis (abduction), i.e. the act of semiotic understanding on the part of a hearer can consist only in the attribution of meaning through a -- his/her -- frame of reference (encoding rule). Therefore, abductive inference is the basic principle of all hermeneutical procedures.
The construction of meaning in a semiotic system/system of signs - Abductive inference as the interpretation of signs, or as an intentionalist explanation

Peirce writes about abduction, that [...] It's only justification is that, if we are ever to understand things at all, it must be in that way." How do we proceed from seeing to knowing, from the affection of our senses to the description of our perception in languuage? Here, too, abductive procedures are at work: as soon as I describe my perception linguistically, I interpret non-verbal signs abductively and transform them into language in a rule-governed way. Against the background of abduction theory it is trivial that perceptual judgments are constructive in themselves, they are already interpretations. All perception is, therefore, in principle construction. Carrying out inferences, therefore, does not always involve conscious reflections before we reach our conclusions; frequently these inferential processes take place below our level of awareness.

Applying the theory of abduction to the brain brings out the precise logic of Maturana's theory of autopoiesis. For the observer, the brain thus becomes comprehensible as an autonomous organ of abduction which, under the control of internal "rules" (cognitive maps, memory) -- not fixed/determined by the external world -- neuronally encodes the stimuli (perturbations) impinging upon the sensory receptors (this would quite literally be "in-formare") and so generates information from those stimuli.

Abductive inferences are the kind of hypotheses that are logically invalid and must, therefore, be corroborated deductively (within conceptual systems and theoretical frameworks) as well as inductively, i.e., pragmatically, by experience. Knowledge becomes intelligible by way of its abductive incorporation into a coding system (semiotic system/system of signs) the logic of which forms the frame within which the facts (phenomena) acquire meaning by virtue of having become signs. As synthetic inferences are content-increasing only if they go beyond the information contained in the premises, and as the conclusion predicates of the subject something not available in the premises, our thinking cannot and must not remain merely deductive if we want to enlarge our knowledge. Furthermore, it is the central insight of the theory of abduction that there is no induction without a pre-existent hypothesis which has been inferred or constructed abductively. Thus the constructivist hypothesis is confirmed that knowing is a path emerging from walking, and that we can only enlarge our knowledge of the world by inventing hypotheses that prove to be viable in the process of searching for paths. The seeds of all kinds of ways of worldmaking are contained in abductive inference. In semiotic terms, an abduction functions as the incorporation of a sign into a coding system (minimal theories, hypotheses) the logic of which forms the frame within which the phenomena that have become signs acquire meaning. Abductive inference, in comparison with logical rationality, is para-logical, irrational. Still, it appears this mode of inference is the most relevant form of thinking at all.

Re: Legal Reasoning
« Reply #373 on: October 09, 2008, 10:02:40 PM »

Is Despina Vandi the woman of your avatar, gia? In her 2001 well-known video Gia?

marshallah, is this the original video - I mean, I did a simple Google search and all I found was this

As you can see the woman in black is "stolen" at the end by the man on the horse, while your link leaves the woman unmoved, so to speak, by that man. This simple fact attracted my attention because gia's avatar shows them both on the horse.

So what the deal is - I mean, is the woman in the Sultan's harem and the man on the horse takes her away? Something along these lines?

Here it is an interesting book on the subject:

"Valide" from Barbara Chase-Riboud

In "Valide," Ms. Chase-Riboud returns to those themes, this time against a drastically different backdrop. Exploration of the complex institution of slavery in another culture - the sultan's harem of the Ottoman Empire during the late 18th and early 19th centuries - has prompted some interesting changes in Ms. Chase-Riboud's thinking. Ms. Chase-Riboud's second novel makes a broader and more radical point: love is impossible in a slave society, where absolute power over other human beings poisons all personal relationships and eliminates the possibility of free choice that is at the root of all real love.

"Valide's" story concerns a young woman from Martinique who is captured by pirates in 1781 and sold into the harem of the Ottoman Sultan Abdulhamid I. Renamed Naksh-i-dil (Embroidered Tongue), she survives the mortal intrigues of harem life to become Ikbal, the favorite of the Sultan. She bears him a son and is elevated to the rank of Kadine, one of his seven official wives. When that son becomes Sultan in 1807, she gains the position of Valide, the pinnacle of power for a woman in this society: "The Ottomans accepted that a Sultan could have many wives, but he could have only one Empress. Thus the mother of the Sultan occupied the unique place of honor that nothing could alter save death. She was entrusted with the most intimate and private possessions of her son - his women. From slave, she had become master, from prisoner to jailer, from property to absolute despot." 

Those four sentences encapsulate several of Ms. Chase-Riboud's themes - maternity as a woman's principal means to power, the meaninglessness of sexuality in a society where women's bodies are men's absolute possessions, and the paradoxical nature of an empire where monarchs are the sons of slaves and one of those slaves will rise after a lifetime of subjection to rule. Unfortunately, this passage is typical of the book's stilted, unreal prose - though mercifully free of the baroque trimmings that elsewhere threaten to give an essentially serious novel the overheated sensibility of a bad romance. The language in "Valide" seldom lives up to the ideas.

Still, the ideas themselves are provocative. Particularly intriguing is Ms. Chase-Riboud's analysis of the harem, a much more vivid character than any of the book's individuals. We are in a world of sensuality, boredom and futility where women are reduced to the basic functions of sex and childbearing, but the vast majority of the Sultan's female slaves will never even sleep with him, let alone have his child. Power is gained through artifice, manipulation and murder. Slaves can no more love one another than they can their master, because each woman is an enemy in the ceaseless struggle to catch the Sultan's eye.

The rulers are no less crippled by this system than the ruled; the Sultan's sons, locked away in the Prince's Cage to protect them from poisoning, know as little of the outside world as the most ignorant harem inhabitant. Abdulhamid, Naksh-i-dil realizes, "had the mentality of a slave.... He was, as much as she, a prisoner in his own palace." The novel contrasts the self-defeating insularity of the Ottomans with the will to change found in their traditional enemy, Russia, which is shown struggling to face the challenge of the West and modernize under the leadership of Catherine the Great. Naksh-i-dil both admires and hates Catherine, as an example of what women can do with power and a reminder of her own ineffectiveness. "Valide" is so crammed with incident, especially in the second half, that we lose the heroine amid the crowds of subsidiary characters (most not nearly as interesting as their author finds them) and the rapid flow of public events. Ms. Chase-Riboud has clearly thought long and hard about slavery - what it does to the people caught up in it and, more fundamentally, what aspects of human nature its existence expresses - but these thoughts lack a successful fictional context in "Valide." Nonetheless, she has large ambitions and an important subject, both fine things for a novelist. Perhaps in her next book they will be realized more completely.

Chase-Ribaud appears to have a very good imagination. They say she gets her ideas for her books from her dreams - you know, being this queen who has a harem of 50 naked males she can choose from - stuff like that...
My aunt gave me a walkie-talkie for my birthday. She says if I'm good, she'll give me the other one next year.

Re: Legal Reasoning
« Reply #374 on: October 11, 2008, 02:45:36 PM »

Chase-Ribaud appears to have a very good imagination. They say she gets her ideas for her books from her dreams - you know, being this queen who has a harem of 50 naked males she can choose from - stuff like that...

There's nothing strange about it ... not everything written will have been true, a real event in the real world ... a lot of stuff will be fictitious, derived from the author's imagination, dreams, deja-vu, etc
Eagles may soar, but weasels don't get sucked into jet engines.

Abductive Reasoning
« Reply #375 on: October 15, 2008, 09:56:28 PM »


Abduction means determining α. It is using the postcondition and the rule to assume that the precondition could explain the postcondition (β ∧ R1 ⇒ α).


- Abduction allows inferring a as an explanation of b. Because of this, abduction allows the precondition a of "a entails b" to be inferred from the consequence b. Deduction and abduction thus differ in the direction in which a rule like "a entails b" is used for inference. As such abduction is formally equivalent to the logical fallacy affirming the consequent.

Post hoc ergo propter hoc, Latin for "after this, therefore because (on account) of this", is a logical fallacy (of the questionable cause variety) which states, "Since that event followed this one, that event must have been caused by this one." It is often shortened to simply post hoc and is also sometimes referred to as false cause, coincidental correlation or correlation not causation. It is subtly different from the fallacy cum hoc ergo propter hoc, in which the chronological ordering of a correlation is insignificant. Post hoc is a particularly tempting error because temporal sequence appears to be integral to causality. The fallacy lies in coming to a conclusion based solely on the order of events, rather than taking into account other factors that might rule out the connection. Most familiarly, many superstitious beliefs and magical thinking arise from this fallacy.


The form of the post hoc fallacy can be expressed as follows:

A occurred, then B occurred.
Therefore, A caused B.
When B is undesirable, this pattern is often extended in reverse: Avoiding A will prevent B.

Cause & Effect: Logical Reasoning

Abductive Reasoning as a Way of Worldmaking

The author deals with the operational core of logic, i.e. its diverse procedures of inference, in order to show that logically false inferences may in fact be right because -- in contrast to logical rationality -- they actually enlarge our knowledge of the world. This does not only mean that logically true inferences say nothing about the world, but also that all our inferences are invented hypotheses the adequacy of which cannot be proved within logic but only pragmatically.

In conclusion the author demonstrates, through the relationship between rule-following and rationality, that it is most irrational to want to exclude the irrational: it may, at times, be most rational to think and infer irrationally. Focussing on the operational aspects of knowing as inferring does away with the hiatus between logic and life, cognition and the world (reality) -- or whatever other dualism one wants to invoke: knowing means inferring, inferring means rule-governed interpreting, interpreting is a constructive, synthetic act, and a construction that proves adequate (viable) in the world of experience, in life, in the praxis of living, is, to the constructivist mind, knowledge.

It is the practice of living which provides the orienting standards for constructivist thinking and its judgments of viability. The question of trüth is replaced by the question of viability, and viability depends on the (right) kind of experiential fit.

"The Gods have certainty, whereas to us as men conjecture [only is possible]..."
- Alcmaion von Kroton

Here it is an interesting book related to the subject:

Making Things Happen: A Theory of Causal Explanation

Explanation of why things happen is one of humans' most important cognitive operations. Abductive inference that generates explanatory hypotheses is an inherently risky form of reasoning because of the possibility of alternative explanations. Inferring that Paul has influenza because it explains his fever, aches, and cough is risky because other diseases such as meningitis can cause the same symptoms. People should only accept an explanatory hypothesis if it is better than its competitors, a form of inference that philosophers call inference to the best explanation. A cognitive model could perform this kind of inference by taking into account 3 criteria for the best explanation: consilience, which is a measure of how much a hypothesis explains; simplicity, which is a measure of how few additional assumptions a hypothesis needs to carry out an explanation; and analogy, which favors hypotheses whose explanations are analogous to accepted ones.

Garry Kasparov playing against Deep Blue, the first machine to win a chess match against a world champion.

In AI (artificial intelligence), the term "abduction" is often used to describe inference to the best explanation as well as the generation of hypotheses. In actual systems, these two processes can be continuous, for example in the PEIRCE tool for abductive inference described by Josephson and Josephson (primarily an engineering tool rather than a cognitive model). In ordinary life and in many areas of science the relation between what is explained and what does the explaining is usually looser than deduction. An alternative conception of this relation is provided by understanding an explanation as the application of a causal schema, which is a pattern that describes the relation between causes and effects.
- "Do you do swear by Almighty God, the Searcher of all hearts, that the evidence you shall give in this issue shall be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth and as you shall answer to God on the last great day?"
- "I do."

Re: Legal Reasoning
« Reply #376 on: October 16, 2008, 10:57:11 PM »

This is all nice being able to vent our collective rage at these scumbags. Believe me I struggle against just exploding with disgust at humanity seeing these captains of industry act like satans minions and most people just lamely sucking it up as lazy, weak, lobotomized consumer clowns all caring about no one and no thing except their own ease and convenience. So what I want to know is what are we all going to do about these parasites?

All these fascist pieces of poo deserve whatever we can do to them and then some! I fantasize a global revolution somewhat like the French revolution with mobs storming the office towers and mansions of the ruthlessly rich and dragging these shitballs from their obscene cucoons of comfort and burning them or cutting their f**cking evil heads off. You can bet that then unbridled greed and rapacious business practices would not be idolized and worshipped with the same vigor that it is today by our propaganda spewing masters. I can just see people like Dickhead Cheney trying to fit in with the street people dressed in rags.

Diogenes has said, "In a rich man's home there is no place to spit but in his face."

Re: Legal Reasoning
« Reply #377 on: October 19, 2008, 01:17:25 PM »

This is all nice being able to vent our collective rage at these scumbags. Believe me I struggle against just exploding with disgust at humanity seeing these captains of industry act like satans minions and most people just lamely sucking it up as lazy, weak, lobotomized consumer clowns all caring about no one and no thing except their own ease and convenience. So what I want to know is what are we all going to do about these parasites?

All these fascist pieces of poo deserve whatever we can do to them and then some! I fantasize a global revolution somewhat like the French revolution with mobs storming the office towers and mansions of the ruthlessly rich and dragging these shitballs from their obscene cucoons of comfort and burning them or cutting their f**cking evil heads off. You can bet that then unbridled greed and rapacious business practices would not be idolized and worshipped with the same vigor that it is today by our propaganda spewing masters. I can just see people like Dickhead Cheney trying to fit in with the street people dressed in rags.

Diogenes has said, "In a rich man's home there is no place to spit but in his face."

His grave would also work. 

Re: Legal Reasoning
« Reply #378 on: October 20, 2008, 10:45:44 PM »

[...] in dealing with Koresh and his followers. [...]

Kordesh had described his early childhood as lonely, and it has been alleged that he was once raped by older boys. A poor student diagnosed with dyslexia, he dropped out of high school. Due to his poor study skills, he was nicknamed "Mister Retardo" by his classmates. By the age of 12, he had learned the New Testament by heart. When he was 19, he had a liaison with a 16-year-old girl who became pregnant; the girl left him because she considered him unfit to raise a child. He became a born-again Christian in the Southern Baptist Church and soon joined his mother's church, the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Koresh advocated polygamy for himself, and asserted that he was married to several female residents of the small community. Some former members of the cult also alleged that Koresh felt he could claim any of the females in the compound as his. Evidently he fathered at least a dozen children by the harem. His harem included girls as young as age 12. The other adults at the compound were told by Koresh not to tell anyone else about this "because they wouldn't understand."

Some journalists and scholars have pointed to Koresh's 1983 trip to Jerusalem and the Holy Land as the turning point in his life, the place where he began to believe he was divine. During that trip, Koresh began to suffer the delusion that he was a prophet. Surprisingly, this delusion is not uncommon among tourists, visitors, and pilgrims to the Holy Land. Each year, a number of people become convinced that they themselves are Jesus Christ, the Virgin Mary, King David, God, or Satan. This psychological phenomenon has been studied extensively at the Beersheva Mental Health Center where it has been dubbed the "Jerusalem Syndrome." Eliezer Witztum, professor of psychiatry, explains that the onset is sudden. According to him, it has to do with being psychologically overloaded by the historical and religious significance of the city. This usually triggers a response in people who have had a deeply religious childhood, but who may have rebelled against the faith and fallen away. According to Witztum, it is not Jerusalem's religious atmosphere alone that induces psychiatric disturbances in vulnerable individuals. The unique atmosphere couples with deeply submerged beliefs, unresolved anxieties, utopian aspirations, or inner conflicts to cause the syndrome to emerge. In some cases, these may be true mystical experiences, which result in the betterment of humankind. For the most part, they are not.

The syndrome is a false mystical experience which simply reinforces the afflicted individual's delusions and grandiosity, whereas a genuine mystical experience should deflate ego-seeking, self-centered behavior and attitudes and replace them with new humility and a desire to serve others. The true mystical experience gives the individual clarity, lucidity, and a new way of thinking. The Jerusalem Syndrome adds another layer of self-delusion and narcissism -- all of which implies that those who suffer from the Jerusalem Syndrome are ego-ridden monsters, which is not the case. They are in many cases pathetic, self-destructive and frail -- their inner conflicts have driven them to desperate psychological convolutions in order to avoid fear, pain, uncertainty, and shame.

While all of the Holy Land is conducive to the Jerusalem Syndrome, the Holy Sepulchre is the primary location where susceptible travelers' psyches react and they feel prophetic, messianic urges within themselves. The wilderness around Jerusalem is the second most frequent breakdown point. In the desert, meditation, physical discomfort, and isolation subliminally suggest Christ's 40 days in the desert and the wanderings of God's chosen people. For Koresh, who considered his wanderings in the Texas "wilderness" evidence that he was God's chosen leader, the desert near Jerusalem provided him with his own "burning bush" experience. He returned to Waco with a mission to establish his own "promised land." In the case of the Jerusalem Syndrome, the malady is usually suffered by a person who is in isolation. Hallucinations can easily accompany dehydration, fatigue, lack of sleep, and a manically elevated mood.
I was sad because I had no shoes, until I met a man who had no feet. So I said, "Got any shoes you're not using?"

Changing Belief, From Stubbed Toe to Conscious-Awareness
« Reply #379 on: October 22, 2008, 04:38:44 PM »

Zen is a complete difference in perception to the dominant Western worldview. The Western world, dominated by science, has a logical and rational view of life. Contradiction and paradox are frowned upon in this worldview.

1 + 1 = 2 and cannot be 3.

The rational perspective is only one view of life, and not necessarily the most valid. This is not to say that rationality is wrong, but rather that is limited and only one perception that has been historically and geographically prescribed.

Enlightenment as the goal of Zen Buddhism. This again is a very difficult term to describe in a sentence or two. We can understand enlightenment as knowledge of the truth; but this knowledge is not the accumulative and rational knowledge of the West. The word enlightenment is understandable and frequently used in the religions of the West. A monk went to the Zen master wanting to know more about the truth of enlightenment. When he asked this question of the Zen master, the master replied, "Do you hear the sound of that running brook." "Yes, I hear it," answered the monk. "That is the entrance to the truth" the Master replied to him. From this example a number of things should be obvious. Enlightenment is not a form of perception that is mediated by logic or even cause and effect reasoning. It is an immediate and complete clear view and understanding of the nature of reality.

The misconception of self.
One of the obstacles that stand in the way of the initiate trying to enter into Zen understanding is the concept of the self. This is one of the central reasons why Zen is so difficult for the Westerner. Western perceptions of reality are built on the foundation of the Self and the idea of the centrality of the Ego. In terms of understanding Zen, the greatest obstacle to Enlightenment is the Self. The reason for this situation is that the Self is an illusion created by the society, and by the desires and needs of the individual Ego. It is only in moving beyond the Ego that an understanding of the enlightenment can begin. There is an important difference between the terms "Self" and "ego" that must be understood in this regard. For the Eastern Mind the Self is the true self that has been released from the false self of the ego. In other words, the ego is the illusionary element that traps man into a false perception of reality. The Enlightenment is the break-through from the region of the false self into a new consciousness and awareness that is not limited by the ego.

This distinction between the Self and the false ego is not too difficult to understand in ordinary terms. The self, it is widely acknowledged by psychologists and sociologists, is a construction. In other words, the human self is built from social conventions, personal feelings and history and is, in this temporal sense, an illusion. This illusion of the self stands as a barrier between the true Self and a perception of reality. One only has to think of the false ideals like materialism and envy etc, which absorb us in our daily lives, to understand the validity of the Zen perception of no-self. This is a realization that is skirted over by many Western practitioners of Zen, mainly because of its essential difficulty. But, this is also one of the most significant areas of investigation for the Western person wanting to understand Zen. After fully understanding the illusion of the self, the journey into Zen begins. From this point onwards, we enter into the knowledge of Zen without the encumbrance of the baggage of our daily lives or the illusions of our social selves, but rather concentrating on truth as it emerges beyond both objectivity and subjectivity.

Beyond illusion.

Once the journey into Zen begins the dualistic concepts that once imprisoned the mind, fall away. The ideas of birth and death, pain and joy, no longer have any relevance. For the Westerner this is almost a non-sensical world where there seems to be nothing at all. It is precisely this concept of nothingness that is the source, for the Zen Buddhist, of all reality. It is interesting to note that modern science tends to confirm these strange notions. For example, the "Big Bang Theory" of how the universe began is currently one of the contenders for the most legitimate explanation of the start of our Universe. But this theory proposes a moment before the Big Bang where, theoretically, there was nothing. One of the greatest problems in trying to understand Zen from a Western perspective is that Zen is an intensely personal experience. Enlightenment is achieved and recognized as a personal and individual knowledge that cannot be shared in an outward logical sense. In the West, religion is formal and concentrated in the institution of churches. There is a procedure and knowledge in these institutions that must be followed in a public sense. While individual enlightenment is obviously part of institutionalized religion, it must occur within the framework of the Church and its formal arrangements. This is not the case in Zen, where there are no formal elements and the individual initiate and the master find the path to enlightenment without these restrictions and without any external validation process.

In order for us to come to grips with Zen, we often have to use metaphors and seemingly strange examples to help us to understand this attitude towards life. It is a mode of thought that is essentially non-dualistic. This means that it tends to initiate a mode of thinking that collapses distinctions between opposites. This is very difficult for the Western world that has held opposites, in language and in logic, as the central pillars of civilized thought. In order to understand Zen one must be prepared to question the very foundations of one's life and of the societal influences that affect one. The purpose of Zen is nothing less than total freedom from these dualities of life. In this way, it suggests, we are able to move into a state of mind and reality that is not troubled by anger or fear or by envy and ambition.

When people stub their toe, they gey angry, curse, and through hobbled grimace and gritted teeth, ignore the pain. How much quicker the heal and more pleasant the day, if that poor throbbing toe were held and its pain acknowledged instead. Then comforted by warm, sympathetic hands till pain eases and ends. After all, no matter the shoe, the speed, or the rocky path pointed, the toe never lets body down. If small this change in thought does seem, apply that small principle to a larger scale, and note what differences result with change of belief. When the body is sick or diseased, the prescribed policy is to view the disease with winner-loser hostility. Rather than stiffening resolve and muscle and steadying nerve to control pain, rather than declaring all-out war and focusing energy and resources on destroying the invader, flip perpectives instead. Focus light on body's plight, for it's every bit in need of caress as that stubbed toe once was. Accept the pain, validate its existence. The body system may be confused as to which is friend and which is foe. The body for allowing disease to enter or disease for daring to enter? Wars are always confusing. As peace can follow surrender in war, heal and cure can follow surrender in body disease.

In Aesop's fable, The North Wind could not, by force of cold or might of gale, remove the man's coat. But the Sun, by focus of warm smile, won the challenge with the man's willing surrender of his overcoat. The body is a living, responsive system. As toe cannot go but where body dictates, disease cannot reside without body's awareness. Healing is an inside job. If caress quickens stubbed toe's relief, would not a collective cellular-caress quicken cures if thoughts focused on healing, rather than war? Applying the simple principle further, farther, wider; how far from acceptance and cooperation ever healing is? Both come inextricably bound and wound when love visits. When children stub their toe, they cry out in acknowledgement of pain. With love in heart and hand, adults comfort and massage their sore wee toe and kiss and cuddle to ease pain. I wonder if we do not view each other as stubbed toes too-often, and too-readily in life. It seems avoidance is easier than care, anger is faster than understanding, complaint is quicker than compliment, and ignoring common, if not prevalent. When others hurt, they are generally left to fend for themselves, as stubbed toe often must do. When our children hurt, we hurt too. What's the difference? Other than pedigree and proximity, nothing.

Truth can hide behind words in language expression, but thought deception is not possible in energy communication. Evolutionary, you are the degree'd master of energy language. Belief is the sum of an individual's knowledge. Ego is belief's representative that interacts with the world in strict accordance with individual belief. If we cannot be less than, nor more than we think; you change belief from external dependence to internal mastery. Instead of looking outward for intervention and cure, you turn others' focus inward and summon the most powerful help possible, self-truth. Changing thought content and intent changes energy's message and focus. Gaining cellular cooperation, by aligning logic with innermost truth, is when healing from symptom, to source, to system occurs. When united and focused, the resulting energy vibration can alter physical matter and change reality. When applied in that fashion, this simple but powerful premise can effect change, whether applied to cell, self, care, cause, or system.