Meaning, Archetypes, and Consciousness

Erich Neumann was Jung’s student. The book I’m reading is “the origins and history of consciousness”. It’s more of a distillation of Jung’s ideas. It’s more of a historical development of consciousness, through the lens of myths and symbols and stories, and the cross cultural patterns that emerge from them.

There’s something intuitive about it. Very intuitive.

But the skeptical side asks if this is any different from pseudoscience, because it’s very difficult to refute and falsify.

Patterns exist. Conspiracies exist. So it’s like. How much is credible?

But when you read Jung or Neumann, it’s incredible the parallels and patterns and associations. They cluster. The words even, the origin of words, coincide. Make sense… but I’m not sure what that means.

Ego. Consciousness. Unconsciousness. Collective unconsciousness.

I wish there were a… reductionistic? Ie Scientific to verify the claims.

However, science isn’t able to provide insight on “meaning”. And meaning is all that this revolves around.

Where is meaning when you examine brain scans of neurons lighting up? All you can do is make inferences, but meaning? It’s in this… metaphysical world.

Which… seems so damn compelling. Perhaps this metaphysics is true. Perhaps there is a guiding force working on some… other plane, that allows mankind throughout time, and in the present, to transcend various stages of conscious development, from the instinctual all the way to the highest level of consciousness.

What is meaning? It seems to be essential for our survival, for reasons of interpretation.

Is competence is possible without comprehension? I think so.

When building a sentient artificial intelligence, is the comprehension of “meaning” necessary to create an artificial consciousness?

Meaning seems to be an essential function for conveying information.

It seems to be the “essence” of data, that all knowledge and words and beliefs are imbued with.

But it doesn’t exist in the world.

That’s the weird thing.

It’s metaphysical.

Words are nothing without a mind to interpret meaningfully.

We have countless manuscripts written in unknown languages. These scripts contain meaning, but it is forever inaccessible without the ability to translate and map onto other scripts we know the meaning of, ie English.

This is where understanding the origins of meaning (and hence consciousness) become a compelling study.

There are troves of archeological and historical symbols and myths across time and culture, and these symbols seem to coincide with increasingly more complex social structures, which are a reflection of the development of consciousness of the individual.

We take all this for granted, because we are enculturated and socialized from birth, within society, and these structures transpose themselves into our conscious development through the social structures and language we’re embedded within.

It’s difficult to be aware that consciousness could be any other way, just like if you never traveled to a foreign country radically different from your own, you’d have a near impossible task of imagining an alternative way of living and thinking and being, etc.

But there is a topography of meaning that exists, that is entirely metaphysical, in the sense that, they govern our relationships with eachother and the world, and it’s near impossible to quantify the value and meaning of these relationships. We try, of course, in economic terms, by measuring output and productivity of “attitudes of mind” and “social organizational principles” and “best practices”. But even then we often overlook ancillary and maybe more fundamental relationships that support their development and existence.

Are we simply self organizing social machines with data inputs and outputs that coalesce into complex organizational structures, whose sole function is self-preservation of information, our DNA, or the DNA of the tribe, or even our ideas?

Is meaning a necessary component?

Is meaning an illusion?

It seems to mediate our conscious and unconscious experience in a persistent and profound way.

Are we statistical machines that simply compute optimal outcomes for survival?

How do we know what data or information is relevant? How does the mind provide necessary context? How does it differentiate between nuance, idiosyncrasy, etc?

Perhaps these answers will always be beyond the reach of man, and man will provide all the necessary adjustments in the beginning, transposing these mental maps onto the AI machine unconsciously, implicitly, without adequately understanding their evolutionary origins and character of their nature.

And I guess you could read all this and ask… why? Why the fuck is any of this mental masturbation necessary. Why the fuck do you need to go down this rabbit hole?

I’m mostly interested in discovering unconscious assumptions, and the bias this produces. Inherent bias. Bias that leads to problems. Social problems, ie economic and political.

It’s like, you’re given a map of meaning. It’s like the map of the world. You use it to navigate your life. You assume it’s a facsimile, completely accurate. You assume, since everyone else uses this map, it’s optimal.

But a map is only a representation. There may be features of the landscape missing. Maybe geological features, topographical features, of water ways, of animals, of climate.

And it may not be accurate, or the only representation. There may be maps that are better, for me, for others.

There is wisdom in challenging the current map, and asking yourself if there is anything missing.

Is there meaning not being represented here? Is there an optimal? Or at least, something better?

You gotta challenge assumptions. You gotta explore for yourself.

Goethe said: None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free.

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