Topics Worth Investigating

  1. What could be meant by "killing the random self of the senses"? If there were no self, would there be any sense of personal identity? Compare David Hume's conclusion as to the nature of the self:

    For from what impression cou'd this idea be deriv'd?…It must be some one impression, that gives rise to every real idea. But self or person is not any one impression, but that to which our several impressions and ideas are suppos'd to have a reference. If any impression gives rise to the idea of self, that impression must continue invariably the same, thro' the whole course of our lives; since self is suppos'd to exist after that manner. But there is no impression constant and invariable.

    …I may venture to affirm of the rest of mankind, that they are nothing but a bundle or collection of different perceptions, which succeed each other with an inconceivable rapidity, and are in a perpetual flux and movement… The mind is a kind of theatre, where several perceptions successively make their appearance… There is no simplicity in it at any time, nor identity in different… The comparison of the theatre must not mislead us. They are the successive perceptions only, that constitute the mind…[1]

  2. Compare Siddhartha's characterization of magic with the Taoist doctrine of wu wei or the doctrine of "nonaction": being the flow of circumstance so effortlessly that one need not force anything in order to achieve a result. Compare the phenomenon of the "purpose tremor," when one " tries too hard" or is overly careful.

    Is there any pathological condition in which the patient, in trying to perform some voluntary act like picking up a pencil, overshoots the mark and goes into an uncontrollable oscillation? Dr. Rosenblueth immediately answered that there is a well-known condition, that is called purpose tremor…[2]

  3. Why is it easy for Siddhartha to obtain clothes and money? How is it that he can act "without traces" with respect to these things?



David Hume. A Treatise of Human Nature, Ed. L. A. Selby-Bigge. Oxford: Clarendon Press, (1888) 1964. I, iv, 6, 251-253.


N. Wiener. Cybernetics, or Control and Communication in the Animal and the Machine. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press, 1948. 8.