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  May 22, 2012                  

Philosophy:  From  The Notebooks: Laughter, Play,  Imagination

"If we believe absurdities,         
  we shall commit atrocities."    

        Life is a Play
        Humans live in the imagination

Introduction: If everything works, this will be the first Nederlog that has been written completely within Linux.Ubuntu.12.04 (happened before a few times the last weeks) and uploaded from Ubuntu (which will be a first). If that works, I can do wholly without Windows 7, which will be pleasant, for me at least, for I neither like nor trust that OS nor the corporation that makes it, and never did.

It also means that I will be mostly working through Linux, though I will keep Windows installed, just in case. Besides, there are two programs, Wine and Visual Box, that allow the running of Windows within Linux, and while I havenīt tried the latter yet, which is a development by Oracle of the former, I can confirm that on my computer Wine worked quite well on the Windows-stuff I let it loose on (that I should also add was not very complicated, as yet, but even so: You donīt need to run Windows to run a sizable part of Windows, at least, and with less risk of being infected by viruses or malware).

In fact, I have earlier today verified I can do without Windows 7: I wrote a BitsAndPieces, the first in nearly 3 years, about Linux and Ubuntu that you find here:

       On - and from - Ubuntu 12.04

and that was wholly written in and uploaded by software running on Ubuntu. So it works.

This was just by way of introduction, and originally I had intended to devote the rest of this file as a commented list on the things I wrote about the DSM-5 and the APA in the last 2 years, but this involves some more work than I feel up to at the moment, so instead I provide some notes from The Notes that I mentioned 4 days ago. They are all from February 1, 1989, and you'll have to wait till tomorrow or later for the list of files I wrote that relate to the DSM: It's in the works,  and about half done.


1.II.89: Laughter

"Man is the only animal that laughs and weeps; for he is the only animal that is struck with the difference between what things are, and what they ought to be." says Hazlitt. The biologically received theory seems to be that laughter is a behaviour signalising play: It says as much as "This is not what it seems" or "I am not serious, really". (The psychiatrically received theory seems to be that it is a form of aggression, I suppose a mixture of Schadenfreude and repression.)

I think that laughter signalises playfulness is in part true, but it is not all the truth, for it doesn't explain why people laugh: It only explains why they would smile, or why they could engage in play-fighting without hurting each other (as do dogs and apes, who (which?) also know how to indicate their lack of seriousness). It doesn't explain explosive humour (with which real laughter is associated) at all, except for the recognition that it is not serious.

Hazlitt continued the above with: "We weep at what thwarts or exceeds our desires in serious matters: we laugh at what only disappoints our expectations in trifles. We shed tears from sympathy with real and necessary distress; as we burst into laughter from want of sympathy with that which is unreasonable and unnecessary, the absurdity of which provokes our spleen or mirth, rather than any serious reflections on it. To explain the nature of laughter and tears, is to account for the condition of human life (...)."

And half a page lower he explains: "Tears may be considered as the natural and involuntary resource of the mind overcome by some sudden and violent emotion, before it has had time to reconcile its feelings to the change of circumstances; while laughter may be defined to be the same sort of convulsive and involuntary movement, occasioned by mere surprise or contrast (in the absence of any more serious emotion), before it has time to reconcile its belief to contradictory appearances."

And so on (the first chapter of "English Comic Writers"). The general idea, then, is: People (not animals) laugh if (and only if?) 1. something happens contrary to their expectations while 2. they do not have violent emotions (other than being pleased) and 3. what happens does not hurt them. For without contrary expectations no laughter occurs; when there are other violent emotions (pain, anger, fear) no laughter occurs; and when people feel hurt or threatened no laughter occurs (in every case: No spontaneous laughter - mock-laughter may always be possible).

Something like an explanation goes like this: Laughter, then, is caused by pleasant surprise, or at least such surprise as does not, on balance, hurt one's self. (People laugh at themselves out of politeness - i.e. not to let on they're hurt - or only if they don't take serious what they laugh at.) As with fear and anger, some rather strong anticipation has to be shifted rapidly - and this causes the physical symptoms of laughter.

However, this presumes and entails something. It entails that only animals with farseeing expectations may laugh, and thus it explains why only humans laugh - though, and this is interesting, other animals have forms of smiling, i.e. ways of indicating (i) their pleasure and (ii) their lack of seriousness (so that smiling is not a mere suppressed laughter but something rather more different from laughter: A smile, in the mammalian sense, then, is any behaviour that indicates the actor is not serious-minded - which explains why mere overacting (buffoonery etc.) seems funny. It also suggests e.g. dogs may have something like their own comedy capers.). And it presumes that surprise has a physiological correlate: As if any surprise triggers a physiological reaction, probably connected with fight-flight-fuck (explaining the humorousness of sexual humour, by the way), so that the surprises which are rapidly seen to be without danger may be rapidly relieved - by laughter.

1.II.89: Life is a Play

seems to me a profound observation - nearly all human acts are make believe acts: They are intended to convince the onlooker and the actor; they serve to induce rather than express belief; they express the actor's belonging to his/her group and role more than they express the actor's prior beliefs. What people are is what they imagine themselves to be, restrained by their circumstances and shortcomings.

Nearly everyone nearly all the time acts out some role, i.e. knows him/herself to be someone others expect things from. And thus the reason that most things are (not) done is that they are part of what someone believes is the done thing for the sort of role he/she is playing.

The central observation here is that this is the central fact: Things are not done because they are appropriate t one's ends, or to others' ends, or to some external factual or moral standard, but because they are appropriate to one's role, as one conceives it to be. One doesn't act because one believes the act contemplated is correct, but because it is an act that fits one's role (and "therefore" it is correct). And thus SS'ers are grown; and thus every profession is made up of hypocrites.

1.II.89. Humans live in the imagination

The price paid for the capacity to reason is the capacity to fantasise. Nearly all human beings believe and have believed is elaborate and egocentric fantasy, propped up on some flimsy foundation of hearsay facts.

Here too is the reason why the human species has a short life-expectation: The individuals are too stupid and too emotional not only for their own cleverness, but especially for the accumulated results of generations of clever inventions (which, like anything that may be used, may be abused). And if they are not, their fellows will not let them be otherwise than they are: Human culture is the product of a few tenthousands of good minds, who were mostly persecuted or disdained during their life-time. [Read the confession Galileo was forced to write, sign and state by the inquisition: It contains most of the reasons of men's inhumanity to men.]

It seems to me that the human species is - pace democracy! - not equal enough or else too egoistic (or both): If there were a smaller variance in individual ability intellectual progess would have been slower or faster, but at any rate more comprehensible to most; if there were less egoism, there would be much less abuse of others.


And that was it, from 23 years ago. In so far as it is original - and I certainly don't mean to say others weren't there before, but only that I did think of it mostly myself - I guess my main inspirations here were Shakespeare, Hazlitt and Multatuli, for I do not think I'd read Goffman in 1989. I have added the links today, but otherwise changed nothing in the text of my notes since I wrote them

P.S.     Corrections, if any are necessary, have to be made later.


As to ME/CFS (that I prefer to call ME):

1.  Anthony Komaroff Ten discoveries about the biology of CFS (pdf)
3.  Hillary Johnson The Why
4.  Consensus of M.D.s Canadian Consensus Government Report on ME (pdf)
5.  Eleanor Stein Clinical Guidelines for Psychiatrists (pdf)
6.  William Clifford The Ethics of Belief
7.  Paul Lutus

Is Psychology a Science?

8.  Malcolm Hooper Magical Medicine (pdf)
 Maarten Maartensz
ME in Amsterdam - surviving in Amsterdam with ME (Dutch)
 Maarten Maartensz Myalgic Encephalomyelitis

Short descriptions of the above:                

1. Ten reasons why ME/CFS is a real disease by a professor of medicine of Harvard.
2. Long essay by a professor emeritus of medical chemistry about maltreatment of ME.
3. Explanation of what's happening around ME by an investigative journalist.
4. Report to Canadian Government on ME, by many medical experts.
5. Advice to psychiatrist by a psychiatrist who understa, but nds ME is an organic disease
6. English mathematical genius on one's responsibilities in the matter of one's beliefs:

7. A space- and computer-scientist takes a look at psychology.
8. Malcolm Hooper puts things together status 2010.
9. I tell my story of surviving (so far) in Amsterdam/ with ME.
10. The directory on my site about ME.

See also: ME -Documentation and ME - Resources
The last has many files, all on my site to keep them accessible.

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