Row, Row, Row Your Boat is a REALLY Deep Song

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05 Aug 2016 19:26 #251017 by Senan
Here's an interesting take on the meaning of Row, Row, Row Your Boat from a motivational speaker.


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05 Aug 2016 20:09 #251020 by Lykeios Little Raven
I had never thought of this simple song in such a way. Good video! Thanks for sharing.

I think he's basically correct. The song can be taken to mean something so deep. It is our thoughts that determine how we see life and how we see the world. Our interpretation of events means a lot more than the events themselves. It is up to us to decide how we will see the world whether as a place of suffering and loss or as a place of wonder and magic. I've always been more of an optimist than a pessimist. I tend to believe that things will more or less work out if we put our best foot forward and work hard. We should work hard but always remember to "go with the flow." We should never be so bogged down with work that we forget to live our lives to the fullest.

Thanks again :)

“Now I do not know whether I was then a man dreaming I was a butterfly, or whether I am now a butterfly, dreaming I am a man.” -Zhuangzi

“Though, as the crusade presses on, I find myself altogether incapable of staying here in saftey while others shed their blood for such a noble and just cause. For surely must the Almighty be with us even in the sundering of our nation. Our fight is for freedom, for liberty, and for all the principles upon which that aforementioned nation was built.” - Patrick “Madman of Galway” O'Dell
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05 Aug 2016 20:34 #251023 by Alexandre Orion
Would this be cheating ? :whistle:

Alexandre Orion wrote: The Matrix and Reality 27.08.2013

Row, row, row your boat
Gently down the stream ;
Merrily-scarily-merrily-scarily --
Life is but a dream ...

And how, from within a dream, can one tell that one is dreaming ?
If dream be private myth, and myth public dream,
should we ever 'wake up', the stories from within-without
Will sing to one another in music that suits the song ...

In the 1999 film, The Matrix, by the brothers Wachowski, we find the world gone virtual, and that which is not is desert. Artificial intelligence has taken over the Earth, most of humanity is bred and grown in pods, dreaming of other lives in other landscapes, ingesting the remains of other humans and their collective electric output are the principle power source for the machines. Those who are not part of the machine are its enemy and its prey, struggling underground to survive and fight against that which has claimed the World. One lives, has experiences – learns, works, loves – and dies all within a framework of computer generated construct, oblivious to the Desert of the Real*.

All in all, it is a good science-fiction concept, for it is very much where we find all ourselves with regard to ontological/epistemological knowledge in the World we think we live in. In other words, how do we 'know' what we think we know ?

There is no Ignorance ; there is Knowledge // Ignorance, yet Knowledge

Are we sure that what we know is real ? In Plato's parable of the cavern, everyone therein is chained before a wall upon which are cast the shadows of real things, yet all they see are the shadows. Shadows of people, events, places … No one knows they are slaves any more than they know that there is a reality above the shadows. They are born, chained to their place for life, witnessing and reacting to the shadows reflecting reality, yet lifeless. Once one’s chains break and the mouth of the cavern reached, the light of the sun, reality, is at first too much to bear. It is blinding, confusing … But one then can start to see more clearly, to perceive the reality of which only the shadow was seen before. And when one sees clearly, one desires to show the others.

Upon returning to the cavern, one tells of the reality, of things of substance of which only the shadow was known. The others, having never known anything else, are incredulous. They resist, they ridicule they notion of clarity, and they insist that the shadows are all that is real – appealing to common sense and the reason of established ‘science’. Should one continue to claim that there is anything beyond the shadow, they are branded insane, heretic, ridiculous. To protect the comfort of existence as slaves to a position of bondage, they will disgrace, dishonour and even kill one who has learnt of the Truth …

This allegory is fairly straightforward and simple to understand. Just as in the time of Plato, so even today we are slaves to what we ‘know’. It is quite rare that we stop to consider how we know what we know, or if what we know is actually true. And someone who challenges what we know is met with resistance, disapproval and, depending on the gravity of the challenge, even aggression.

René Descartes furnished us also with food for thought over what we actually know of our perceptions. Just as the people plugged into the Matrix were unaware that everything about their lives, even what they were doing with their bodies, was but very coherent dreaming, AI virtual-reality stimulated, but nevertheless all the consistency of dreaming. In his Méditations, Descartes hypothesised that should one be dreaming a very coherent dream, that there would be no way to tell from within a dream that one is effectively dreaming. If we cannot be sure that whatever we are doing right now is not a dream, then nor can we be sure that what we remember having done at any given moment in time was not just a dream as well. That is to say that anything one may perceive at any particular moment, can one be certain that it is real, or is one dreaming ? Am I Alexandre, dreaming that I’m a butterfly, or a butterfly dreaming that I’m Alexandre ? (cf. Chuang-Tzu). From within the dream, there is no way to tell.

Beyond not being able to tell that we are dreaming or not, could it not be that everything we consider real, much as the slaves in the cavern are deceived by shadows on the wall, is but all a deception ? As in the Matrix, the AI allowed the human harvest to live their lives believing that they were living in a way they thought was normal for them, interacting with one another in various ways in a world approximating that (quite closely) of the late 20th – early 21st century. They had no idea of the “desert of the Real”* and the technological menagerie that was exploiting them.

As it were then, most if not all of what we know is what we can say about what we know, which is analogous with making comparisons and connexions with other things we and others may know. And we get that from having experiences (including language acquisition). Yet, how can we know that the experiences we’re having are real ? We get our experiential – empiric – knowledge by interpreting that which arrives to us by our senses. Now, although it is unlikely (for as far as we know), we could be easily deceived by our senses into having experiences that are only personal ; which have no truth to the outside world. Descartes also used this construct of scepticism in Méditations. Whereas one would choose to believe in a god which is all-good and all-truthful, we could also concede that an omnipotent demon could be deceiving us into ‘experiencing’ the outside world – a world that contains things like tables and chairs, books and computers, cities, seas, stars and other people, but in fact, there is only you. And it could even be that not even your body is real. The only thing that you could not doubt is that you do exist. According to Descartes, as long as you can have thoughts about things, anything you think can be doubted except that you exist. Hence, his canonical (almost) phrase : “cogito ergo sum” (“I think, therefore I am”).

This is not particularly conclusive though. Just the experience of thoughts is not proof enough of existence, thinking thoughts is not proof of the existence of the thinker. According to Hume, and later Nietzsche, we could even deny the individual nature of the thoughts themselves. Suppose, if you were to take Nietzsche's approach, that there are thoughts. Some of them are thoughts which relate to a particular person thinking them, others not. Now, the thoughts do not depend on identity for their validity. Some being perhaps more true than others, even, perhaps especially than those connected to a particular thinker, can serve to eclipse the proof of one’s own existence by the possibility of thought.

For Hume, introspection could not reveal the 'self'. Looking inside, one does find many personal events : feelings, thoughts, desires, experiences (rather the memories thereof), feelings and thoughts about experiences and desires &c. but one does not find a 'self' to whom these things happen. As with Nietzsche's proposal about thoughts, these things we find upon introspection (feelings, thoughts, desires and the like) gravitate into a coherent relationship which one could call 'self' which, from lack of substance, remains only hypothetical. We theorise this self at the foundation of experience, yet all that we have to ground it are the experiences, feelings and so forth that one derives through introspection. Thus, there again, we can but believe that we exist, we cannot be certain of it. One way of looking at this is that when we are thinking a thought, say thought “P”, we can either think “P” or think about thinking “P”, but not at once. That is, we can be aware of our thoughts, or aware of our thinking … but we cannot do both at the same time. Who then is having these experiences and the relative thoughts ?

One of the last points we touch on here is the story from the inside/the story from the outside dilemma. The story from the inside is all of the experiences as we perceive participating in them, our thoughts, feelings, desires, goals, beliefs and the 'meaning-bearing' rôles we see ourselves in throughout life. We are central characters in the story from the inside – centres of signification, action and knowledge. The story from the outside is what the World is really doing. Given all of the proof that we cannot trust our perceptions and even less what we think about them, the story from the outside is largely unknowable, since to have any knowledge of it, one would have to have true knowledge getting to the inside. The differences between the stories we call absurdity, which then is also relative to perceived experience, and so forth …
How does all of this relate here ? In how we relate to the World and one another, of course. We convince ourselves that we know all sorts of things : our identities, our social statuses, our (self)worth – especially in compare/contrast mode – with what we think we know of others. We let ourselves believe things (including that we exist at all) based on thoughts, feelings, desires and essentially whatever else we're inclined to accept as Truth. We often get shocked by the absurdity – the discrepancy between what we know and what is really going on – and perceive this shock in a variety of ways.

To say : “I am John Smith,” or “I am a plumber,” or even “I am a Cambridge graduate”, these hold a signification only for the particular experiences they imply but still does not clearly indicate the self to whom these experiences occur. A name is an identity marker by which we ourselves and others (other 'selves' and different administrative agencies) refer to us all of our lives, but then the marker gets confused for the 'self' to which it refers. One's occupation/education and thus the derived socio-economic status cannot be of 'self' either, since all the perceptual models of experienced things are really only residue of past possible experiences. Yet, it is on these things that we base our expectations of/for the future and thus promote suffering (our own or that of others). We expect the future to resemble the past, and the “now” becomes only an ephemeral pivotal access point toward where we think all of our constructs are going to culminate. So, in this way, almost all of that for which we live and strive is as unreal in the “now” as the very realistic,co-extensive, AI generated perceptions seen in the Matrix.

In short, much of the way in which we perceive, conceive and symbolise Life, is unreal. Playing the Game of Black and White in relation to things, goals and ambitions to foster the ego/self is akin to being plugged into the Matrix … alike to living out a programme of 'virtual' self-image, a dramatis persona, with all of the costuming and props to support and promote it. Herewith, one can live one's multiple rôles throughout Life and never know oneself at all, always undergoing reprogramming to shelter the ego from the absurdity in the rift between what one thinks one knows, what one wants believe that one knows, and the Desert of the Real* of 'what is'.

* Jean Baudrillard, Simulacre et Simulations (1981)

Be a philosopher ; but, amidst all your philosophy, be still a man.
~ David Hume

Chaque homme a des devoirs envers l'homme en tant qu'homme.
~ Henri Bergson
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