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Coffee break

Started by Hardy Heinlin, Sat, 4 Jun 2011 16:30

Hardy Heinlin

My thoughts during the last coffee break.

Thinking about music, fashion, arts in general ... Not sure about the whole world, but in the western culture, I think, the Fifties started pretty soon after World War II, before 1950 anyway. The changeover to the Sixties was around 1960, or maybe shortly before. -- The Seventies started in 1968 already. -- Then there was a long transition between the Seventies and Eighties, but I'd say its culmination was close to 1980. The Eighties were another long era: the Nineties began only around 1994. I can't say if or when they were over though. Very unsharp era.


Shiv Mathur

Wow ... what did you add to the coffee, Hardy ?  8)

I'd be very interested to learn why you picked on these particular
years - for example. why 1968?
Sgt. Pepper's? ... the White Album - (Revolution No. 9) ?

I guess this pre-supposes that each of these decades has a certain distinct 'personality' in your mind.  Would be interested to know more.




Maybe you didn't get the memo:

No coffee breaks (or any other type of breaks) allowed. If you need coffee, get an I.V. drip installed on your forearm from now on.

Hope there are no further violations.



Hardy Heinlin

Mariano, Mariano ...! :-)

Shiv ... before I comment further, I haven't studied history of art, it was just a spontaneous impression, of course :-)

For example, recently I watched a clip of an old TV satire series and I guessed what year this was produced. The clothing included many neon pink elements, the shoulders of the jackets were extremely wide (foam), the trousers looked like balloons (pumped up with 700 litres of air). I thought that episode must've been made in the middle of the deepest Eighties. I was shocked when I read at the end of the clip the time stamp ©1993.

I think, in the mid Nineties, fashion returned to a more natural look, supporting the natural human shape, and even tattoos got a completely new social meaning.

The start of the Seventies. My impression is: they started after the first moon landing, when the haircuts got longer, guitars distorted, students on the streets, when Mick Jagger got a female make-up, when heavy wooden record players and radios were replaced by plastic design, then Stanley Kubrick's Space Odyssey ... etc. pp.


Shiv Mathur

Quote from: Hardy Heinlin... recently I watched a clip of an old TV satire series ...

My God, Mariano, he's even watching TV now!

Shiv Mathur

Quote from: Hardy HeinlinThe start of the Seventies. My impression is: they started after the first moon landing, when the haircuts got longer, guitars distorted, students on the streets, when Mick Jagger got a female make-up, when heavy wooden record players and radios were replaced by plastic design, then Stanley Kubrick's Space Odyssey ... etc. pp.


Yes ... and Woodstock.


Personal recollections of early 70's (Cambridge Mass, MIT post doc days).  Lived North of Boston, took train to work - they do exist in the US - to North Station every morning. In winter, snow falling, the North Station scene looked like a movie set for Anna Karenina.  Guys with long hair (below ears),  double breasted suits, longggg sideburns, mustaches, beards (all well-trimmed mostly), gals in maxi-skirts/maxi coats, fir (or faux-fir) hats, beautiful. Not sure any movie of the era really captured this.  These folks were all brokers, bankers and (really) students mixed together.


EDIT: Gosh I forgot the bell-bottoms (not included in Tolstoy) TVJ

Richard McDonald Woods

Your description of the snow, long coats etc. brought to mind Dr Zhivago, but I am not sure of its date. ;)
Cheers, Richard

Hardy Heinlin

Who or what has a soul?

In my last coffee break I thought, ...

... of course, the first thing is to define the word "soul". Suggestion: A soul must be something active, otherwise it would be dead. However, vice versa, anything active isn't necessarily a soul. So, what else except activity does a soul require in order to be a soul?

It must be something that supports the soul's activity. What supports activity? Activity needs at least time and space, or time and qualities. Time is essential. For if time were frozen, nothing would change. An activity is a change. A color change, a form change, a position change and so on.

If there is plenty of causality in the world, things, once kicked, keep rolling driven by causality (or whatever one interpretes as causality; causality might be just another illusion if Kant was right, but this problem doesn't affect my theory).

Is causality everything that activity needs? Probably not. Causality itself is just a condition. It keeps things rolling, but it doesn't start or stop the activity.

To get things rolling, a kick is required.

This kick itself can't be a causal event, in other words: it can't be a direct consequence of a preceeding event. Otherwise it would be just another event in the already running choice-less causal mechanism. Thus, the thing that I call kick has to be non-causal.

Such a kick may be, for example, the big bang (where was no time at that time), or a radioactive particle jumping out of an Uranium atom (at random time or random places by no exact cause but just some probability), like every event in the electronic chaotic noise inside a transistor, or inside a neuron.

Kicks are true decisions. A calculator that spits out "4" whenever "2+2" has been entered, is no decision maker; the calculator has always only one choice. If there are no multiple choices, there's no decision to make.

Without a decisive kick, an activity would never start. Thirdly, the decision must be self-reflective, self-aware in some way, in order not to destroy itself by its own kick.

I think, "soul" has something to do with all this.

To complete my definition of "soul". A soul must consist of activity, kicks and self-awareness.

Now who or what has a soul?

So, everything that remains active and is unpredictably kicking and doesn't destroy itself might have a soul. Even the entire universe as a whole might have a soul. Or that jumping electron may have a soul, during its ride, or during the change of its motion direction.

Another question: Is a soul's existence only a matter of "to be or not to be"? Or does it have a gradual intensity? Can souls grow? Or do they completely appear and disappear? I can't imagine that any prehistoric man suddenly got a soul over night. It must have been a slow process with an increasing intensity. With that in mind, many animals must have a soul as well, but perhaps not at the same intensity as homo sapiens. On the other hand, why not?


Good coffee. Back to work ...

Hardy Heinlin

P.S.: And if this theory is true, all souls together, from every non-causal particle event up to the big bang process and the universe, all these souls together construct a giantic holistic cascade of multiple souls :-) ... whereby a human soul, consequently, also consists of multiple small and very small souls ...

Forum reader, please ignore these posts if you don't like this stuff. I just had to write it down in public somewhere :-)

Richard McDonald Woods

The root of your concerns is the fact that you have used the word 'soul'. And from there you have wandered around the impossibilities surrounding the word.

I prefer to avoid consideration of the concept of a soul. Like so many imponderables, it can only lead to a form of madness (which I believe religions to be).

I prefer to think on what makes me feel a sort of responsibility to adding to the happiness of others - why, I don't know.

Cheers, R ;)
Cheers, Richard

Jeroen Hoppenbrouwers

Hardy Heinlin

Quote from: mcdonarThe root of your concerns is the fact that you have used the word 'soul'.
What if I used the word "self-awareness" instead -- and put the other properties into that? E.g. self-awareness develops at places where true decisions are made (here I consider decisions non-causal events because only these deal with multiple choices; pure causality is just a dumb one-choice mechanism). So, all things and creatures that contain chaotic elements are decision makers and that may lead to self-awareness because self-awareness supports decision making.

Speaking of madness. After 15000 hours of PSX programming with wires and relays whereever I look, I would go mad if I wouldn't relax my brain with other jazzy thoughts from time to time :-) (Not to be taken 100% serious though.)




IMHO your term self-awareness best describes the difference between living organisms and living souls (creatures)  ;)  

Isn't self-consciousness the prerequisite to see where and who I am and - vice versa - to comprehend where and who I am not?
Out of which comes the 'kick' to move (or not), to decide (or not), to change (or not).... and all of this in relation (and inter-dependence) to other souls! Wouldn't all self-consciousness in the world be useless if there weren't other souls around?

On the other hand, I like to differentiate between 'religion' and the belief in, say, a creator. They dont necessarily have much in common imho (not intending to start a religious war here ;) )

Now what if - to get back to the initial question - it's a creator (a creatoress  :)  ?) that 'kicked' and even in today's souls still 'kicks'? Is everything closely intertwined from before the big bang right up to now? It's all about information and intelligence - does everything follow a common blueprint or DNA? Has in reality nothing changed over time?

My coffe mug is empty...  :P   :D

What on earth drove me to build a flight simulator - something (somebody?)  must have kicked me  :P


P.S. Hardy beat me with his further conclusions while I was writing mine ...
Charles from Basel, Switzerland

Richard McDonald Woods

Interesting, H, that you have equated soul and self-awareness.

Soul means nothing to me at all, although I hear my friends with religious beliefs being clear that only humans have a soul.

Self-awareness, on the other hand, is a clear concept to me. At a simple level, I, chimpanzees, gorillas, orang utans appear to know themselves when looking in a mirror. Perhaps other animals would do so to. This seems to suggest that there is a gradient from the highest levels of brain function to the lowest of the concept of self-awareness. I would certainly disagree with a claim of it to only humans.

I can only say that I feel that to try to 'drill down' into concepts like soul can only lead to frustration, not enlightenment, although I am certain many would disagree. Investigation of which animals/plants show signs of what we might call self-awareness, though, could be fruitful in how we treat other sentient animals better.
Cheers, Richard

Jeroen Hoppenbrouwers

The research of Frans de Waal is exactly about this, plus the link to empathy, which he suspects is related.

Richard McDonald Woods


I am not sure whether you are agreeing with me.

I cannot find the word soul on the Frans de Waal Wikipedia page.

Cheers, Richard

Jeroen Hoppenbrouwers

Exactly -- it is all about self-awareness only.

Shiv Mathur

Gruess dich, Hardy,

I think, for most of the English speaking world,  the word "soul"  has particularly religious connections.

'Self-awareness', of course, not so.

So I wouldn't say the two terms have similiar meanings.

the mad hatter

what about "organics" do all organics have a soul? apparently a carrot when pulled from the ground screams. Also at death the body is lighter