Mailvox: understanding the exotic

TPB-01 postulates an inability to understand the mental exotics of Voxkind in a series of comments I have abbreviated for focus:

”I mean, sure, I see someone on the street, I have no idea whats going on in their minds. Yet there is the possibility of recognition, of understanding through communication.”

And here, ladies and gentlemen, is a common human illusion of believing they do indeed have a lot in common with a random other “human”

You see someone on the street. He has a wiring not unlike that of Bundy (naturally so), and what then ? You don’t have the benefit of understanding – you will never understand each other. If you’re lucky, you’re just a boring bit of scenery to him. If not, you’re fresh meat. You can communicate with him alright – but what possible understanding could you achieve ?

Or maybe it’s someone like Vox, living in his very own private reality which is besieged by demons (and not some fancy-shmancy metaphor demons, the real shit – supernatural evil and all that jazz). Unless you also have a worldview that includes invisible horned douchebags, what possible understanding could communication bring?

Well, *some* degree of mutual understanding is possible with distinctly inhuman agents, like say, wolves, and human “mental exotics” like Vox (We have painstakingly established that Vox’s model of reality includes exotic paranormal entities and a constant low-intensity conflict with said entities, and I am reasonably sure that Vox understands that I find such a world model, as well as agents who sincerely subscribe to it, highly comical.)

The same understanding that is possible between an individual who is aware of the existence and purpose of x-rays and one who does not. Or, to take a more extreme example, between blind and sighted individuals. Communication might be difficult, though not impossible, concerning certain matters, but that leaves the vast realm of human reason, emotion, and behavior still on the table. I have no problem understanding either your attitude or your belief system; you don’t actually have any problem understanding me, your problem is accepting the possibility of my belief system.

Which is fortunate for you. Once you find yourself in the presence of sufficiently naked evil, you will likely find yourself more open to the possibility.

Actually, I do have a problem understanding you, since your peculiar belief goes well beyond anyone’s ability to demonstrate/prove .
A sighted person could contrive numerous means to demonstrate existence of light-based detection systems to the blind (much like sighted humans have managed to build systems for detecting neutrinos, a task for which human sensory system is radically unfit).

Yes, we do have a “degree” of understanding – you “understand” that I happen to have a grievously inaccurate model of “reality” that is characterized by an absence of “demons”. I happen to “understand” that you happen to have a grievously inaccurate model of “reality” that is characterized by a presence of “demons”. Unless I invent a way to somehow “disprove” unfalsifiable entities 😉 , or you invent a demon detector I can replicate and use to go find some horned invisible doucheroos, there is no way we could advance understanding beyond this boundary.

I strongly doubt that you would bother to demonstrate a protocol that would reliably permit me to detect demons, though of course I am quite eager to listen if you do.

“Why not? Surely your imaginations are not so limited as to make it impossible for you to postulate how your thinking would be modified by personal experience of some aspect of the religious supernatural! Whereas you see Vox-kind as crazy, Vox-kind merely sees you as something akin to colorblind.”

I can totally imagine living in your Lovecraft County – after all, I called it “Cool Lovecraft county”.

Now, I doubt you can actually “argue me into your Lovecraft County” (unless there’s a demon detector in your pocket, or something) and thus there is a fundamental limit to how well I can understand your position, let alone predict your further activities.

Imagination can only go so far in modeling the behavior of someone who faces a radically divergent “reality”.

I am pretty sure both you and me would have a lot of trouble really understanding someone who sincerely believes that Republican party is actually lead by disguised space aliens hellbent on conquest, while Democrats are time-travelling cyborgs from a dystopian future.

“Actually, I do have a problem understanding you, since your peculiar belief goes well beyond anyone’s ability to demonstrate/prove.

Why? We all harbor peculiar beliefs that go well beyond anyone’s ability to demonstrate or prove. Perhaps you believe your dead grandmother loved you. Perhaps I believe my brother is the nicest person in the world. Perhaps we both believe in human equality. None of these things can be demonstrated or proved any more than the existence of demons and none of them need inhibit understanding.

You might point to a letter that your grandmother wrote. I claim that it’s a forgery. I might point to the behavior of the dead Miami face-eating cannibal. You claim “cocaine psychosis”. Repeat as needed.

In any event, your conclusion simply doesn’t follow from the premises. And the existence of a working demon-detector would not make my position more intelligible, it would make it correct. The concept is perfectly intelligible already and has been understood for thousands of years. Nor is the claim of demonic unfalsifiability correct any more than the rings of Saturn were unfalsifiable prior to the invention of the first telescope powerful enough to see them; even setting aside the fact that there is considerable evidence for the existence of demons, TPB-01 has presented a temporally limited technological argument that is intrinsically invalid from the perspective of proper Popperian falsifiability. This is hardly uncommon, as I previously pointed out the flaws of such arguments in TIA.

TPB-01 responds:

Well, I find it kind of remarkable that when you proceed to illustrate possible exchange between two agents disagreeing in regards to allegations of a poorly documented deceased person, you kind of make my point for me.

There is a distinct “understanding horizon” at work here, running along a number of allegations regarding the deceased relative, and claims related to those. Same goes for allegations regarding “human equality” (whatever the fuck that is…)

Consider the case of nice fellow who thinks that both US parties are run by “Secret Inhumans”, specifically conquest-crazy space aliens for Republicans and creepy cyborgs from the future for Democrats. We can establish *some* degree of understanding (at least, we can find out hypothetical person’s weird beliefs and establish an understanding in regards to the fact that we disagree with him and he disagrees with us), but there’s only so far we could go. When imagining ourselves in his shoes we will only muster a distorted projection reflecting neither his actual state nor our own (kind of like imagining yourself as participating in a battle and actually participating in a very real fucking battle are two different things), and same would be true for him (assuming he ever bothers to try imagining what our worldview feels like).

Same of course goes for unverifiable and unfalsifiable assertions regarding dead relatives.

Human equality… well, for starters it would be nice to define it in a way that does not summon Captain Obvious 😉 then see if anything approaching a framework for pragmatically assessing various such “claims”. I find it entirely plausible that there is as little chance of understanding between you and hypothetical “equality fellow” in regards to this vague “equality” thingamajig as between you and me in regards to the existence of supernatural intelligent forces scheming to affect the world in some manner.