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Hacking reality - an analogy between computer systems and reality as we perceive it

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Greetings.

I hope you can indulge in the following thought experiment.

I would like to first propose an analogy.

On a computer, different programs run on different processes. A process is associated with its own virtual memory which makes the process "think" it is the only program running on the computer. For communication between different processes, there are inter-process communication protocols provided by the operating system. One can also make calls to different programs by means of shared libraries.

The details are not important, just three things bear taking note of: there exists different processes in isolation, managing resources for these processes and inter-process communication protocols is maintained by the operating system, one can "break-out" of the resources allocated for a program and write to other regions by means of exploiting vulnerabilities in the code.

Now, it seems to me that this would be a nice way to model how reality works.

We are each individual programs in the sense that we each (supposedly) have first-person privilege - I can't access the inner contents of your mind just like you can't access mine. (presumably - this can break down in the case of privilege escalation)

We are able to communicate with other programs like the air around us or rocks or butterflies or humans by means of protocols dictated by something else - we can't interact with air the way we can with people or rocks for example. They also appear to us differently.

By analogy, this means that there is some kind of operating system that is managing all of these resources. Naturally, the laws of physics would take on that role. However then, the questions which arise are the following: where and what is this computer that is running the physics engine (the OS) and all the things which exist within it (the processes) and more importantly, how do we escalate our privileges in this model? I.e., what flaw in our own process can we exploit to be able to do things that are not allowed by our "program"?

The first thought that came to mind are all the psychedelic drugs out there which seem to exploit some entity within our process such that the process interacts with areas of the computer that it's not allowed to access conventionally.

So what is the exploit that these psychedelic drugs take advantage of and how do we create more robust and varied attack vectors?

Thanks. I would greatly appreciate any thoughts on the matter.
 

Serac

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I think it makes sense to bring that analogy to the level of a single brain – i.e. how do you access regions in your own brain and thus gain a more holistic perception of things. On a general reality level? Dunno, I tend to think that modelling reality in terms of computation is misguided, because physical reality doesn't seem to be constrained by the limitations of computation (computability, computational complexity, etc)
 

Animekitty

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physical reality doesn't seem to be constrained by the limitations of computation
Computation is a way of attaining certain mathematical results.

If physical reality is not constrained by computational limitations it should be capable of attaining mathematical results beyond what computational theory allows, even quantum computers. And if we constrain physical reality to the size of Planck's length cubed, physical reality would still be able to do maths that computational theory cannot. Not being constrained to computational limitations means you are doing maths not allowed by computational theory. Pertaintelly the very act of existing has been defined as computation. The laws of causality are computation. because that is the only way mathematical results are every really attained.

The only legitimate recognized thing beyond computation is qualia. There is no mathematical way to explain what the experience of blue is like. But we can define the mathematical dynamics of an energy network that we have correlated with the experience of blue. Blue is not mathematical, it is only correlated with a certain type of mathematical system. We see it in the brain where blue happens at the same time a network lights up. We map that network with chaos maths, electromagnetic waveform analysis. Yet blue is beyond computation. Blue is an experience. An experience only exists if there is an entity behind it to know what it is like. I know what the experience of blue is like.

Physical reality is limited to computation because causality is computation. Existing causes a result to occur. Physical reality exists. Therefore results happen. Consciousness is not limited to computation. Blue is not mathematical but only correlated to it. Math can describe a network correlated with experiencing blue. But no one has explained why the experience of blue is like the way it is like. Why is Blue, Blue?

Math can produce any network from a seed program. We could use an equation to make a brain in a clone that connects in the right way that has the memories of a person that lived in a supercomplex sci-fi fantasy world. With the right maths, the seed algorithm could make a network of exactly a man from world war one. The person could be Ahab from Moby-Dick or Socrates. Or any person from any wold you could imagine. Any video game, any Book, any Movie possible.

I exist because electricity bounces the atoms around in my head. I act the way I do because where the atoms are placed things are set up to reorganize from whatever happens to me. I am me because how I change is not the same as the way others do because they are set up to reorganize differently themselves. When I am born I was first as a seed. I grew from nowhere into this place. If I go to another place I must grow into it. I must either consciously merge into the other reality, like walking into the sunset, or I must begin again as an egg. The way I change will determine how I get to the other world and the worlds after.

Reality is the computer server.
You can go to other worlds just by using your consciousness.

Enter The Spider Verse.
 

crippli

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Nice analogy. I read this as a perception variant of the fermi paradox, specifically the great filter.

As of now. Colonisation of planets seems the impossible step, and maybe a necessary step.

Psychedelic drugs I suppose is a way to open hidden doors in ones own mind. As I read this, it's more like a huge barrier that surrounds us, then hidden doors, Mental and physical. Hidden doors lead a bit further toward the barrier.

It's not clear to me, if it's along these lines you think, and what is your ambition. Hacking your way all the way through the great filter. Or just getting a better overview of the situation by hacking a few doors to get a little closer, or further.
 

Serac

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@Animekitty
I feel it's easy to come up with math problems not solvable on a computer but which are routinely done in nature. Something as simple as computing the trajectory of a planet can never be done exactly on a computer, as you would need infinite-precision number storage. Even something as simple as storing the value of pi cannot be done on a computer, since it's an irrational number with infinitely many digits. So if nature "stores" these values somewhere, it's definitely not in a place constrained by the physical law of our particular universe.

so I guess one could make the argument that our universe is computed in another universe with completely different rules, but that doesn't really change the situation for us: we'll still never be able to use computation to compute nature (is that related to Gödel's incompleteness somehow? that would take my intellectual masturbation to another level)
 

Animekitty

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we'll still never be able to use computation to compute nature
That is not what you said.

You must distinguish the difference between theory and application. First, you say the physical reality is not limited by computational theory, which means it can do things which are impossible in that theory. But now you say it is possible that physical reality could be calculated by an outside computer under different physics than ours, able to contain the resolution necessary.

You present two things that are true.

We cannot build a computer to calculate nature inside the universe.
A medium outside the universe could possibly calculate nature.

@Serac you first specifically called into question computational theory.

Computational Theory states what is and is not possible in computation.

You said that physical reality can do what is impossible according to computational theory. Because you said physical reality is not limited by it, - thus goes beyond the limits.

Given all that.

What computations is nature doing that is impossible within the theory of computation, as you claim is the case?

You need to know what the theory is to know if nature is doing something impossible in the theory. And still, if nature is breaking the theory we can incorporate it into a new theory of computation. Thus nature is limited by computation because what nature was doing that was impossible in the old theory is now the new theory. Nature has changed what we previously knew is and is not possible in computation. The theory now limits nature because the calculations nature was doing beyond the scope of the theory is now a subset of the theory. It is part of what can and cannot be done, in the theory. Nature is limited by computation theory because the theory now says what nature can and cannot compute.

---
a number of steps following logic rules producing results - that is computation

You can only change the theory is if you can change the understanding of sequentiality and logic.

That is why computing orbits is a strawman, logic and time are not engineering problems they are epistemological ones. Computational Theory is about the limits of what we can possibly know using logic and time. All possible logic, All directions of time. All possible physics. Da rules sets are infinite. We do not limit theories by scale, weight or measure but by the degree they let us know what is true.

Ask what time and logic can do and not how big your computer RAM needs to be.
 

Serac

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@Animekitty
I sort of get what you're saying, but at the same time, when we're talking about for example computationally undecidable problems, their undecidability is not necessarily defined by the inability of sequential logic to solve them, but rather that it's impossible to use sequential logic to solve them within a finite amount of time (or using finite amount of resources). So, computational theory cannot really be considered independently of the physical reality in the context of which you are planning to compute things. Hence it very much matters whether you'll need an infinite amount of RAM or not.
 

Animekitty

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@Serac

well exactly,

"Dunno, I tend to think that modelling reality in terms of computation is misguided, because physical reality doesn't seem to be constrained by the limitations of computation (computability, computational complexity, etc)"

Modeling the universe or any subset is a limitation of computational resources. Not constrained by limitations "implies" can break the principles of the theory. You must mean that the theory specifies that there will never be a computer we make that can simulate the universe because theory and physical reality are not independent. Physics prevents us from being able to make a computer to simulate reality therefore in principle simulating the universe (or specified subset thereof) is impossible.

(I am going to go breath underwater now, brb)

If a small computer cannot simulate a big computer faster than the big computer normally computes and I say this means it is impossible to simulate the big computer faster than itself, then I have made a big error.

What I get from all this.

  1. Nothing is exterior to the universe.
  2. The universe is not being computed.
  3. Small computers inside the universe cannot simulate the universe. This is a principle of computation.
  4. The limits of computation are the computations being done now and that maximally can be computed by computers inside the universe.
  5. There are maths we can never know about the universe (or specified subset thereof) because there will never be enough computer power in all the universe ever to calculate them. This is a principle of computation.
If known physics holds, then these five points remain true.

Sorry about running through all these things. I need clarity and closure in communication.
 
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Eh, I got lazy to reply.

Not really thinking about the above right now but I have another thought along the same tangent.

(Note, I may get lazy to reply again but I don't think putting this out there harms anyone.)

So the question is:
How detailed do our physical models have to be to simulate different processes to the point where additional complexity becomes redundant. (We can discuss what redundant means quantitatively in this context but for now let's say it adds less than 10^-5 percent
of additional accuracy. Too high a threshold?)

I'm talking about computationally of course.

My first stab at an answer would be how much energy is involved. Most processes probably don't require more than newtonian mechanics because the energies involved are so limited.

However, that can still be computationally substantial in the case of many-body dynamics where by many I am referring to processes like fluid simulations.

Of course, for realistic simulations, the entity's interaction with light is crucial too.

It amazes me that reality is so complicated, with so many processes going on. What sort of computer is it being run on?

And no, I choose not to go down the route of assuming the simulation of reality requires the existence of noncomputable entities or oracles.
 
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so I guess one could make the argument that our universe is computed in another universe with completely different rules, but that doesn't really change the situation for us: we'll still never be able to use computation to compute nature (is that related to Gödel's incompleteness somehow? that would take my intellectual masturbation to another level)
I prefer to think of real numbers and infinitesimals and all that shebang required for continuity and limits to be formalisms rather than actual entities.

If not, as you righty mention, we end up with an infinite regress of universes.
 

Serac

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so I guess one could make the argument that our universe is computed in another universe with completely different rules, but that doesn't really change the situation for us: we'll still never be able to use computation to compute nature (is that related to Gödel's incompleteness somehow? that would take my intellectual masturbation to another level)
I prefer to think of real numbers and infinitesimals and all that shebang required for continuity and limits to be formalisms rather than actual entities.

If not, as you righty mention, we end up with an infinite regress of universes.
Well yes, they are formalisms – which seems to the very problem for anyone who suggests the universe is computable, because a computer system would require formalism. Not only in terms of numbers, but also in terms of the process itself, namely formalizing nature as an input-ouput machine.
 

Pizzabeak

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Pizzabeak

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there exists different processes in isolation
No there doesn't. And...
one can "break-out" of the resources allocated for a program and write to other regions by means of exploiting vulnerabilities in the code.
That's what this purgatory is. So no. You are wrong, and it's already over. Everything is "one", and that "the ultimate reality" is sometimes described a party of some sort, is mostly tongue in cheek and to get your hopes up up until a point. And then, there was the disappointment when you found out it was pretty much a joke or sarcasm.

It is over. You cannot "win".

Also, don't psychedelic drugs (my phrase, stop copying me you cunt) "make you dumber"? Who started this trend wherein you're interested now? Don't they "shut down parts of the brain so you think you're going to die" via anoxia and hypoxia, which makes your brain less efficient at processing reality?

There's also G-LOC. A dream is not necessarily the same thing as an out of body experience.

Small computers inside the universe cannot simulate the universe. This is a principle of computation.
"Godel's incompleteness theorem"
so I guess one could make the argument that our universe is computed in another universe with completely different rules, but that doesn't really change the situation for us: we'll still never be able to use computation to compute nature
This is just completely irrelevant.
 
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@Serac I don't see how defining a computer system would require a formalism akin to the real numbers or something else that relies on uncomputable entities.

But at the same time, I don't get existence either. The problem is this first person privilege that I and supposedly other people I interact with possess as well. Which entities can be said to possess this sort of first person privilege and how in the world do we tie it together with the models of reality that we have.

In other words, I can define the laws governing physical processes with mathematical entities like pdes and group action representations but how do they connect to the instantiation of physical processes?

The idea of entities in the universe existing as separate processes with a set of system calls to (I assume) the laws governing physical processes is something that I think tries to address the issue of first person privilege head on in the sense that if I possess first person privilege of myself as an entity because these are all the resources I am limited to being able to access (and thus they comprise my whole world) then perhaps analogously if I were to be able to have read/write access to the resources of some other process then maybe I can have first person privilege of that process too.

In summary, look, all of this is pretty high-level, hand-wavy talk but my intent is simply to explore the interaction first person experience and objective models of reality.
 

Pizzabeak

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@Serac I don't see how defining a computer system would require a formalism akin to the real numbers or something else that relies on uncomputable entities.

But at the same time, I don't get existence either. The problem is this first person privilege that I and supposedly other people I interact with possess as well. Which entities can be said to possess this sort of first person privilege and how in the world do we tie it together with the models of reality that we have.

In other words, I can define the laws governing physical processes with mathematical entities like pdes and group action representations but how do they connect to the instantiation of physical processes?

The idea of entities in the universe existing as separate processes with a set of system calls to (I assume) the laws governing physical processes is something that I think tries to address the issue of first person privilege head on in the sense that if I possess first person privilege of myself as an entity because these are all the resources I am limited to being able to access (and thus they comprise my whole world) then perhaps analogously if I were to be able to have read/write access to the resources of some other process then maybe I can have first person privilege of that process too.

In summary, look, all of this is pretty high-level, hand-wavy talk but my intent is simply to explore the interaction first person experience and objective models of reality.
This is actually pretty stupid. There’s no “uncomputable entities”. You don’t posses anything, you could be a fake computer virtual program running in the background merely as a wave function.

You must be, once again, thinking of theosophy and not “theology”.
 
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This is actually pretty stupid. There’s no “uncomputable entities”. You don’t posses anything, you could be a fake computer virtual program running in the background merely as a wave function.

You must be, once again, thinking of theosophy and not “theology”.
I have no idea what you're going on about mate, I wish you all the best in life.
 

Pizzabeak

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I guess that means I’m smarter than you.
 

Pizzabeak

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JansenDowel

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Greetings.

I hope you can indulge in the following thought experiment.

I would like to first propose an analogy.

On a computer, different programs run on different processes. A process is associated with its own virtual memory which makes the process "think" it is the only program running on the computer. For communication between different processes, there are inter-process communication protocols provided by the operating system. One can also make calls to different programs by means of shared libraries.

The details are not important, just three things bear taking note of: there exists different processes in isolation, managing resources for these processes and inter-process communication protocols is maintained by the operating system, one can "break-out" of the resources allocated for a program and write to other regions by means of exploiting vulnerabilities in the code.

Now, it seems to me that this would be a nice way to model how reality works.

We are each individual programs in the sense that we each (supposedly) have first-person privilege - I can't access the inner contents of your mind just like you can't access mine. (presumably - this can break down in the case of privilege escalation)

We are able to communicate with other programs like the air around us or rocks or butterflies or humans by means of protocols dictated by something else - we can't interact with air the way we can with people or rocks for example. They also appear to us differently.

By analogy, this means that there is some kind of operating system that is managing all of these resources. Naturally, the laws of physics would take on that role. However then, the questions which arise are the following: where and what is this computer that is running the physics engine (the OS) and all the things which exist within it (the processes) and more importantly, how do we escalate our privileges in this model? I.e., what flaw in our own process can we exploit to be able to do things that are not allowed by our "program"?

The first thought that came to mind are all the psychedelic drugs out there which seem to exploit some entity within our process such that the process interacts with areas of the computer that it's not allowed to access conventionally.

So what is the exploit that these psychedelic drugs take advantage of and how do we create more robust and varied attack vectors?

Thanks. I would greatly appreciate any thoughts on the matter.
First, I just have to say you aren't doing INTP's any favor with you writing. I had to stop more than once to figure out what you're talking about.

Anyway, a physicst David Deutsch has explained why the "simulation in a cosmic computer" explanation doesn't make any sense in his book The Fabric of Reality. Which is more philosophy than physics. Heres his video of him explaining it.

 
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^ He's a physicist. The analogy isn't suitable for him because he's exploring the computational aspects of the laws of physics themselves.

I'm not interesting in that so much. My purpose in presenting this analogy is to highlight one aspect of computer programs, that it is possible to escalate the privileges a program has to access the resources of some other program.

And by extending this analogy to our perception of reality and our interaction with aspects of reality, we can maybe find ways to more efficiently explore or enter into alternative realities that seem to be presented by the consumption of certain psychedelic drugs.


I'm not doing science here, I'm not interested in trying to make this analogy falsifiable. You can think of it as being more similar to engineering. I'm using this model insofar as it works for the purpose I intended it for.
 

JansenDowel

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^ He's a physicist. The analogy isn't suitable for him because he's exploring the computational aspects of the laws of physics themselves.

I'm not interesting in that so much. My purpose in presenting this analogy is to highlight one aspect of computer programs, that it is possible to escalate the privileges a program has to access the resources of some other program.

And by extending this analogy to our perception of reality and our interaction with aspects of reality, we can maybe find ways to more efficiently explore or enter into alternative realities that seem to be presented by the consumption of certain psychedelic drugs.


I'm not doing science here, I'm not interested in trying to make this analogy falsifiable. You can think of it as being more similar to engineering. I'm using this model insofar as it works for the purpose I intended it for.
If you listen carefully, hes actually doing philosophy, not science. Anyway, im going to assume that when you say 'analogy', you mean it literally. In other words, you are NOT saying that reality is a computer.

Your analogy doesn't work very well. Psychedelics change your perceptions of reality much the same way that a new measuring instrument changes your perceptions of reality. There is no 'escalating privileges'.
 

Animekitty

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Space-Time and Matter is Virtual.
They have no permanence regarding location temporality or existence.
Matter is a cloud that fades in and out of existence.

It is all virtual without hardware.
Consciousness / perception / maya
There is no solidity to anything.
Solidity is an illusion.
 
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Your analogy doesn't work very well. Psychedelics change your perceptions of reality much the same way that a new measuring instrument changes your perceptions of reality. There is no 'escalating privileges'.
Well, maybe psychedelics aren't a good example of things which allows you to escalate privileges analogous to that in an OS.

But I'd like to go with the analogy anyway and see what you could make out of it. At the moment it doesn't seem like much but then again I haven't been thinking about this either.

At the end of the day I was trying to make sense of the absurdity of our existence but nowadays I've kinda made peace with it and accepted it so I don't need to think about this sort of thing anymore.

It's kind of like when you have all or most of the things that are necessary from a psychological point of view (sense of self-worth, belonging etc) these thoughts tend to disappear. It's not easy frankly to constantly go against the grain so that you can get a glimpse of things from a different perspective.

I'm rambling but I feel like doing so anyway. I think of the things that was missing for me was an outlet through which I could contribute economically, an outlet through which I knew I was creating "real world impact" for lack of a better term. It's also about control. About being responsible for something important. (back to the "real world impact" again)

Having had a taste of this, I don't think I'd want to quit any of this and head to academia again despite my previous inclinations. I'm at a position where I can do what I'm good at, where I can explore what I'm good at and other things I wanna learn and where I am responsible for the success of important stuff. To quit all of this and publish papers no one's gonna read, why would I want that?

Actually, I know why I would want that, because I'd ideally be working in pure math where it doesn't matter so much if no one read's your stuff that much but the idea of exploring some pythagorean truth becomes more appealing. But my current work does allow me to explore sophisticated math from time to time so it isn't so bad. :)
 

mr_darker

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No way to tell if we're in a simulation, nothing you can really do about it if we are, as someone's some immeasurable number of steps ahead of you and will likely fuck your day up if you go against them.

Just go about your day, do whatever you wanna do, whatever makes u happy. I know I do. resumes watching neighbor through binoculars
 

ZenRaiden

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Everything constitues some form of information. The question is if any sort of analogy helps. If you have some exact thing to study you have easier time finding proper analogy.
 

The Grey Man

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We are each individual programs in the sense that we each (supposedly) have first-person privilege - I can't access the inner contents of your mind just like you can't access mine. (presumably - this can break down in the case of privilege escalation)

We are able to communicate with other programs like the air around us or rocks or butterflies or humans by means of protocols dictated by something else - we can't interact with air the way we can with people or rocks for example. They also appear to us differently.

By analogy, this means that there is some kind of operating system that is managing all of these resources. Naturally, the laws of physics would take on that role. However then, the questions which arise are the following: where and what is this computer that is running the physics engine (the OS) and all the things which exist within it (the processes) and more importantly, how do we escalate our privileges in this model? I.e., what flaw in our own process can we exploit to be able to do things that are not allowed by our "program"?
I was just reading Russell's critique of Bishop Berkeley's idealism in The Problems of Philosophy (1912), and it seems relevant here.

Berkeley thought that the "operating system," the transcendent reality causing all our perceptions of natural things, was yet more perception, "ideas" (thoughts, feelings, and other mental acts) in the mind of God. For Berkeley, esse is percipi—to be is to be perceived.

Russell's opinion on the relation of appearances to reality is more congenial to common sense and our contemporary scientific conception of reality. According to him, perception is caused by the interactions of physical objects in space, some of which, over time, became arranged in such a way as to assume the form of a cognizant organism (presumably by way of Darwinian selection). We might say that Russell believed in the sound made a tree falling in a forest with no-one around to hear it whereas Berkeley did not, with the caveat that Russell's unheard "sound" is really a physical event that bears no resemblance to the subjective experience of hearing a tree hit the ground. Subjective events in subjective space (the private "programs" in your analogy) are in Russell's theory mere epiphenomena of the development of matter in an unseen, but publicly (albeit indirectly) accessible physical space.

I personally find both theories unsatisfactory. Berkeley's theory erroneously asserts existence to be a function of perception, while Russell's obscures one of the most important truths to have been uncovered by Western philosophy: the ideality of space, as declared by Kant.

1. Where and what is this computer that is running the physics engine?

It is nowhere, since the thing-in-itself is aspatial. What it is is a complete mystery, except insofar as it transcends ordinary human experience.

2. How do we escalate our privileges in this model?

This is what I've been asking myself more and more. How is knowledge of the transcendent reality possible? Schopenhauer and, before him, the medieval Christian mystics and neo-Platonists thought that one could achieve knowledge of the transcendent One, a union with God, by mortifying the self-will that drives ordinary human consciousness. I'm not so sure.
 
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