Mu!

Well, I can't help it. I'm fascinated with the philosophy of the mind. In my relatively short life, I have (had) many passions ranging from trafficsigns to astronomy, from fantasy-worlds to communism and politics. and yes, a girl or two :) However, the passion of AI has brought me to what Zen Buddhism calls "Mu".

What is Mu? Here is a short description from kateigaho's Zen Teaching of Mu:

It is through the actual experience of mu — which means transcending affirmation and negation, being and nonbeing — that satori or spiritual awakening occurs and one can finally come to realize the essential spirit of Zen. Gaining some intellectual understanding is merely a first step in knowing about Zen; to enter into and deepen that understanding, one must experience mu for oneself.

and


The teaching of mu is a matter of examining the essential question of whom and what we really are, of being pure at heart, and of no longer being confused by what confronts us.

I'm not a Zen practitioner and I'm not kidding myself that I would actually know much about it. Another quote:


Being mu, the conflict between self and "other" dissolves. It is not simply freedom from duality, but freedom to respond to it.

In the search for AI, the first step is in my eyes really the search for (the state of) mu. Only by examining -and accepting- what we are can we truely be able to even have a well-balanced opinion about AI. And you, my friend, are some 50 trillion cells looking at a computer screen, possibly firing some synapses that triggers a neuron, so that you as a whole think about what's on TV tonight. But then again, that would be rather reductionalistic of me, wouldn't it? Or would that be "Mu"? :)

Some other Zen & Mu links for those interested:

- DMOZ Zen catagory
- "Has the dog Buddha nature or not?" Chao-chou said, "Mu."
- Daily Zen

The title of this website is derived from a chapter in Hofstadter' and Dennetts book The Mind's I (it's also in GEB), and is a great place to start if you want to know more about the philosophy of the mind. An interesting note is that Hofstadter doesn't use "mu" in the sense that I described above, but more in the lines of the Chao-chou answer above: The question itself, is irrelevant.

And again, I'm not going to kid myself that I actually have a clue what I'm talking about :)