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Found 8 results

  1. Cognitive Reflections After speaking with people online I have become obsessed with the way people’s beliefs, perceptions, and interpretations effect the cognitive realm. My question If a blind man makes a bowl with no clue what material it is, what does the cognitive representation look like? What color is it? What happens if he tells people in town about this beautiful purple bowl he made? What if he then brings the bright red bowl to town? The Applications What happens when this same man makes a sword from material he believes whole heartedly can store stormlight (or some other effect)? Thoughts? What could be made? What can be done with this knowledge? Thank you in advance!
  2. When Kelsier picked up Preservation, he was unable to fully control its power because Ruin was holding him in check, but also because he had his Connection to the physical realm severed when he died. When Taravangian killed Rayse and took up Odium, why did he have full access to the Shards power? Szeth had just killed his body with Nightblood, which severed his Connection. He was in the same boat as Kelsier, but he got full power? Theories, support, discussion, or criticism are all welcome.
  3. I understand things a lot more visually so I made this in order to put my personal thoughts in order in regards to how the magic system works on Roshar. Since I'm new to the Cosmere (haven't read all the related books tbh) and I'm still trying to decipher the epilogue notes from the books, I wanted to put this out here and let me in on your thoughts, in order to make things clearer. So how I've understood it so far, in order for a power to manifest in the Physical realm, it needs to exist in the Cognitive as an idea and pump Investiture from the Spiritual realm. Or to word it even more correctly, it's from the Spiritual realm that Investiture "falls" to the Cognitive, where some of it gets funneled into an idea/ideal/intent, and that idea manifests in the Physical world as a power like Heraldic powers, Surgebinding, Voidbinding, Old Magic and fabrials. I've put up on the drawing above of what I currently understand as correct, but please feel free to correct me. Interesting bits that I want to verify: - Knight Radiants drew their power (presumably) from Cultivation and Honor (and no other Shard?). So what happens now that Honor is dead? - what Shard is behind the fabrials? - when Honor died and his investiture started diminishing, the Oathpact weakened (got smaller and smaller) and that's why the Heralds might've started to go mad. I'm guessing their divine attributes were sustained by the Oathpact, and that's why they slowly started going mad? So it would make sense that Nale, who has become part of a Radiant order, has somehow started gaining Investiture from somewhere else, so his divine attributes would no longer be affected by Honor's intent anymore? - gems and gemhearts somehow override the cognitive idea? - Parshendi had gems in their hair, could that have been the reason they were available for Odium to turn them into Fused?
  4. Another in my ongoing series “A Theory of Cosmere Magic” Classification of Magic Systems Pre-Shattering Magic In the Beginning – The Cosmere’s Origin I include this topic because my views on Realmic theory underlie the over-arching cosmere magic theory. While most of my views are canon, you shouldn’t be surprised some aren’t. I changed from “Realmatic” to “Realmic” to follow Khriss in AU. I am concurrently posting “In the Beginning – The Cosmere’s Origin,” since that post provides some background to the conclusions I reach in this post. THE THREE REALMS Preservation’s Metaphor. In M:SH, Preservation metaphorically describes the Realms to Kelsier. The Spiritual Realm shines a beam of “perfect” light that the Cognitive Realm “filters” before the light “pools” on the Physical Realm’s “floor.” The Spiritual Realm is the place of perfection, of Spiritual energy (the Powers) and structure (Spiritwebs). The Cognitive Realm is the place of perception, filtering the Spiritual Realm’s perfection. The Physical Realm is the place of material existence, where perceived objects and lifeforms take shape. I use the term “Creation” to describe the sum of all Spiritwebs and their corresponding Cognitive and Physical Realm aspects. Kelsier himself calls this description a “metaphor.” (M:SH, Kindle Loc 530, Part 2-1 .) The description does not address the mechanics of magic. Brandon intends this metaphor to help us understand Realmic differences, not how the magic works. Spiritual Realm. The Spiritual Realm consists of two types of Investitures: the Powers (Spiritual energy) and “Spiritweb Investiture” (Spiritual structure). Spiritweb Investiture constitutes the Spiritual aspect of Creation (the sum of all Spiritwebs). The Spiritual Realm holds the most Investiture because of the Powers: Shards are “mostly Spiritual.” Location “isn’t particularly important” in the Spiritual Realm, only Connection. Cognitive Realm. The Cognitive Realm is the collective mind of the sentient entities on each planet (an idea Brandon expressly borrows from Carl Jung). Non-sentient objects exist in the Cognitive Realm as the perceptions of the collective mind, since such objects have no cognitive function of their own: “Whenever a planet has enough thinking life on it that's considering it a planet, it drops into Shadesmar.” The collective mind includes the conscious and the unconscious. (WoR, Kindle p. 40.) a. Correspondence to Physical Realm. Brandon describes the Cognitive Realm as relatively flat, but not two-dimensional – a plain, not a plane. He contrasts its topography with the Physical Realm’s, which is three-dimensional. The SLA maps and the Dor show there is a one-to-one correspondence between locations in the Physical and Cognitive Realms. b. Subastrals. Each collection of sentient minds has its own “subastral” – the term Hoid uses in M:SH to describe Scadrial’s Cognitive Realm. Each Shardworld with a sentient population has at least one subastral. Roshar has two subastrals: one for its Physical Realm sapient population (humans, listeners and Aimians), and a second subastral for its sapient spren. Brandon calls all sapient entities “people.” Sapient spren are ideas that have ideas. These spren have their own politics and cities. The discarded Oathbreaker chapter where Jasnah first Elsecalls shows the Rosharan spren subastral. Braize also has a subastral – Khriss says there are splinters and Cognitive Shadows there. Cognitive Realm distance is measured by thought, and the distance between subastrals compresses minds. c. Shadesmar’s Sun. I believe the “sun” in Roshar’s and Scadrial’s subastrals represents those planets’ collective perception of the afterlife – the place the spirits of dead people go. Brandon refers to these collective perceptions as “cultural.” The Cognitive Realm sun is like the “light” that Earth people see during near-death experiences. That “light” is the Cognitive Realm’s collectively perceived Connection to the Spiritual Realm. The “clouds” that trail towards the sun represent the collective mind’s perception of the souls of the dead moving towards the Spiritual Realm. Everything in the Cognitive Realm “moves towards the light,” including shadows. This movement is how the collective mind perceives entropy: “all things must pass.” Physical Realm. The Physical Realm is the material world sentient life actually experiences. It consists of the matter and energy into which the Powers convert plus the Physical Realm aspect of each planet’s Unique Investiture – one can see Stormlight, Breaths and the mists. Adonalsium’s Creations comprise most of the Physical Realm cosmere: “The effects of Adonalsium permeate everything.” SPIRITUAL REALM INVESTITURE Spiritweb Investiture. Spiritweb Investiture composes the Spiritual aspect of Creation – Creation’s “Spiritual matter.” Spiritweb Investiture gives Creation its Spiritual structure. Each use of the Powers creates new matter, energy and/or Unique Investiture. That new part of Creation either has its own Spiritweb or is part of other Spiritwebs. a. A Spiritweb consists of a soul and its Connections. Each soul has unique Spiritual DNA and unique Connections – a unique Spiritweb. b. Connections bind the cosmere together – not only between souls (“External Connections”), but also between the three Realmic aspects of each soul (“Internal Connections”). Kelsier could not return to Scadrial’s Physical Realm because his death severed his Internal Connections to that Realm. (i) Internal Connections maintain mind-body-soul unity. They “vertically” link the Realmic aspects of each attribute of a lifeform or object. The Feruchemy sections of recent Ars Arcana list many human attributes. Each attribute has an analog in all three Realms. (ii) External Connections “horizontally” link a soul to other souls. These Connections can extend between people, between objects, between a person and a planet, a person and other objects, and a person and Unique Investiture. A temporary Connection can extend between a person and the Powers – that’s how catalytic magic systems work. c. A Shardworld’s Unique Investiture is encoded into the Shardworld’s soul and is part of its Spiritual DNA. Unique Investiture is thus a form of Spiritweb Investiture. Sazed says a Shard’s Unique Investitures are its “flesh and blood.” (HoA, Chapter 14 Epigraph.) d. Connections link to different Spiritual “genes” of an entity’s Spiritual DNA. A planet’s soul includes as Spiritual “genes” each location on that planet. When Allik Neverfar in BoM uses his language-translation medallion, he Connects his soul to a different “Spiritual gene” of Scadrial’s soul – a different birthplace location on Scadrial. Allik retains his accent because his soul still knows he is Malwish. Allik explains, “My soul thinks I was raised here, in your lands, but it knows that I am Malwish by descent…so I cannot help but have an accent…” (BoM, Kindle p. 302.) e. Brandon says Connections are not “on/off” switches. They can widen or narrow over time. f. “Identity” refers to the relationship between a mortal and the Unique Investiture of his native Shardworld. Unique Investiture is “keyed” to the mortal, enabling the mortal to perform “Unique Investiture Magic” on that Shardworld: “The Spiritual self is tied to the Investiture of the world that you come from.” Identity is embedded in the mortal’s Spiritual DNA. It can develop over time as part of an adaptive, evolutionary process. Non-natives must “hack” local Unique Investiture to use it (except for Breaths, which automatically “key into” their holder’s Identity.) Non-natives’ Identity is not “keyed” to the local Unique Investiture. Feruchemists’ Unique Investiture is “internal” and personal to them. BoM shows their Identity relates to the use of their personal Unique Investiture inside their metalmind. The Powers. The Powers are the cosmere’s “Spiritual energy,” the “the energy of Shards.” Under Brandon’s “one substance” principle, the Powers are the source of everything else – they convert into all of the cosmere’s matter, energy and other Investiture. The Powers are “raw” undifferentiated Investiture awaiting a directing mind to tell them what to do. Brandon also calls this form of Spiritual Realm Investiture “true Investiture” or “raw power.” COGNITIVE REALM INVESTITURE Unlike Spiritual Realm Investiture, Cognitive Realm Investiture is different everywhere – it is a form of Unique Investiture. If the Cognitive Realm is the collective mind of a Shardworld, Cognitive Realm Investiture is the collective mind’s ideas. These ideas have a Spiritual Realm aspect with their own Spiritwebs. Shai describes how this happens in TES (Kindle p. 74). Splinters are bits of the Powers that become “self-aware.” That means a splinter (including spren) has its own Cognitive function. Bits of the Powers that become splinters convert into Cognitive Realm Investiture: splinters are “less physical, more a blend of the other two [Realms].” PHYSICAL REALM INVESTITURE Differences Between Shardworlds. Like Cognitive Realm Investiture, Physical Realm Investiture is also a form of Unique Investiture. It is different everywhere. Roshar, Nalthis and Scadrial have gaseous manifestations of Investiture: Stormlight, Breaths and the mists. Lerasium and atium differ from Autonomy’s Investiture of microflora. The Tears of Edgli differ from Devotion’s perpendicularity. Each Physical Realm manifestation of Investiture reflects the Mandate of the Investiture’s Shard plus the planet’s “inherent Investiture.” Minor Shardworlds continue with whatever Unique Investiture Adonalsium and/or a Shard left there. States of Physical Realm Investiture. Brandon says the liquid state of a Shard’s Unique Investiture (its “shardpool”) is the most “potent.” The Coppermind asserts, “the liquid essence of a Shard is said to be related to the Cognitive aspect.” The solid state of Physical Realm Investiture (metals) is the least potent, and each metal has a single function. The gaseous state of Physical Realm Investiture is somewhere between the two in potency – it can directly fuel a Connection to the Powers like the mists did for Vin. PERPENDICULARITIES Realmic Conduits. Perpendicularities are conduits between the three Realms. They permit Worldhopping. The only Worldhopping we’ve seen so far is between the Cognitive and Physical Realms. Formation. Khriss says perpendicularities arise from a Shard’s presence on a planet. (AU, Kindle p. 477.) The weight of the Shard’s Investiture punches a “spike-like” hole through the planet’s Realmic aspects, forming the conduits between Realms. Brandon states the existence of a perpendicularity means the Shard cannot easily divest itself from its Shardworld: “Once you’ve got a Perpendicularity, you are starting...That’s trouble for going other places.” Speculation: Investiture Residue. I speculate a perpendicularity is the precise spot where a Shard Invests in a planet, where its Investiture “enters" the planet’s three Realmic aspects. That’s where the Shard “is present” and why the perpendicularity is “spike-like.” Otherwise, the weight of Investiture seems like it would form multiple perpendicularities per Shard on that planet. When Investiture is complete, residual unused Investiture remains – like water dripping from a turned-off hose. These attuned “catch-basins” collect a planet’s recycling Investiture. Brandon says perpendicularities “normally” disappear when a Shard divests itself from a planet, but “there are circumstances that could prevent the shardpool from disappearing.” Since Sazed says Physical Realm Investiture (like a shardpool) is the “body” of a Shard, I speculate the Shard Vessel’s death might be one such circumstance: Aona’s shardpool didn’t “disappear” after her death. I also speculate that a Shard can choose to leave Investiture behind when it divests. (Brandon recently confirmed this speculation when he stated at least one planet has a shardpool the Shard abandoned (voluntarily or not).)
  5. I’ve seen posters rely on the following WoB (third questioner) to conclude that the Spiritual Realm is not “location-based.” By that phrase, these posters seem to mean that the Spiritual Realm is in one Cosmeric place; it is not located near the Cognitive and Physical Realm places associated with each planet. I disagree. Here’s the relevant language: Q: “Does investiture have a consistent form (regardless of magic system and its Physical form) in one of the other realms?” … A: “It's consistent in the Spiritual Realm. Location isn't particularly important there.” I think this statement means what it says – that the form of investiture is consistent only in the Spiritual Realm. This statement does not mean that location is irrelevant in the Spiritual Realm. Only that, wherever the investiture is in the Spiritual Realm, it is the same. This is unlike investiture in the Cognitive and Physical Realms. The unique physical, cultural and magical interactions on each planet create unique Cognitive and Physical Realms in relation to each planet. Magicians cognitively access the Spiritual Realm differently on each planet, and the Physical Realm effects of magic differ on each planet. These interactions apparently change the form of Cognitive and Physical Realm investiture itself planet-to-planet. Here’s the important point, though: the Spiritual Realm related to each planet IS ALSO DIFFERENT from each other planet’s Spiritual Realm. It must be, as each planet’s unique cultural and technological ideas become unique Spiritual Realm ideals. But the investiture that forms those Spiritual Realm ideals and their connections to one another is the same wherever those ideals and connections may be located. That IMO is what the quoted WoB says and means. Because Spiritual Realm investiture - "true investiture" according to MISTER Sanderson - is the same wherever located, it is not governed by any mandate (my word for "intent" based on the textual evidence from HoA). Mandates belong only to the Cognitive and Spiritual Realms. My, what implications there are from that!
  6. Like the SLA characters themselves, we often take spren for granted. I thought I’d add my own definition. (What a concept!) Shallan calls spren “living ideas” (WoR, Kindle p. 41). Jasnah describes them as the personification of some natural force or emotion. In Cosmere terms, spren are the Physical Realm manifestations of Cognitive Realm ideas. 1. A quick review of realmatic theory: Sazed, Shai and Jasnah each say that all things exist in three “forms,” three realms. These realms are the Physical, Cognitive and Spiritual – Body, Mind and Spirit. (See the “Origin of the Cosmere” post for a fuller discussion of this subject. You might also look at “Plato, Spinoza and Jung’s Contributions to Realmatic Theory” for background information.) a. I believe all things exist simultaneously in each realm. Except for what I’ll call an “inchoate idea” (defined below), there is always a one-to-one-to-one correspondence for each object or idea in each of the three realms. How an object or idea appears in each realm – its “presence” – may differ from realm to realm. But the one-to-one-to-one correspondence is always there. (Some disagree with this idea.) If there is such a thing as a “unit of investiture,” each gob of investiture would hold the same number of such units in each of the three realms regardless of how the gob appears in a realm. (Some also disagree with this idea.) An “inchoate idea” is an idea that hasn’t been sufficiently clarified in Physical Realm sentient minds to form a Spiritual Realm “ideal.” Thus, it does not yet (and may never) exist in the Spiritual Realm, though it does exist in the Physical and Cognitive Realms. b. Example: Tozbek’s boat The Wind’s Pleasure exists in the Physical Realm. It also exists in “the thoughts of the people who served on it, knew it, thought about it” – in the Cognitive Realm. (WoR, Kindle p. 119.) Because it exists in the Physical Realm, for reasons expressed in the linked post The Wind’s Pleasure also exists as a Spiritual Realm ideal, an “essence.” One object, defined by its three points of contact – Body, Mind and Spirit. c. As stated in the “Origin of the Cosmere” post, I believe all magic begins in the mind that directs it. (There is an ongoing debate whether this “rule” applies to “unconscious” magic, like healing when you’re asleep; but I think there may be agreement on the conscious exercise of power.) Cognitive investiture – the mind – is required to create Physical Realm magical effects. 2. Before spren manifest in the Physical Realm – before spren become “living” ideas – they begin as simple ideas created by the collective minds of the Physical Realm’s sentient beings. A simple idea’s Physical Realm presence is the bodies of the sentient minds that hold that idea – us. 3. “Living” ideas in the Physical Realm – spren – come in different sizes. Rainspren are smaller than riverspen are smaller than Cusicesh. These size differences reflect the different amounts of investiture comprising each spren. Shallan says lesser spren like rainspren are mindless, while riverspren and windspren are mischievous and can mimic human voices. “Powerful spren” like the Nightwatcher have greater presence and powers. In-between are the so-called “Radiant spren” – splinter-size fragments of power, Pattern says. 4. Regardless of size, spren are characterized by their “sentience” – their capacity to feel, the lowest level of consciousness. For a “pre-spren” idea to transition to the Physical Realm and attain sentience seems to require additional investiture. My analogy is the addition or subtraction of energy to cause matter state-changes. Shallan gave Stormlight to The Wind’s Pleasure to enable it to turn to water (after it first harrumphed at her over what it perceived was a bribe of the Stormlight.) 5. I speculate that the type of investiture involved in the transition is relevant. Power only invests consistent with its mandate (intent). Syl required Honor’s investiture to manifest, as Pattern and Wyndle required some combination of Cultivation’s and Honor’s. A mandate-consistent idea plus the same mandated investiture (lock and key) determines the nature of the spren manifesting. (When the investiture is Stormlight, this consideration is irrelevant. I believe Stormlight consolidates the investiture of each of the three Shards, so Stormlight by itself can animate any spren’s transition.) 6. Syl is a splinter-size fragment of Honor’s power. Syl “dangerously” enters the Physical Realm as a mere windspren, however, and only with a windspren’s “sentience.” (WoR, Kindle p. 132.) If she can’t find Kaladin, she will remain a windspren. When Syl does bond with cognitively like-minded Kaladin (i.e., whose Spirit Web reflects the Windrunners’ “Divine Attributes” of protection and leading), her mind develops further and she attains “sapience” – “wisdom,” the capacity to make judgments. 7. A bonded spren is a bit of a god's mind attached to a human mind. A bonded spren remains as cognitive investiture. The Nahel bond turns a Knight Radiant into the Shard’s avatar and enables the Knight to direct the Shard's power in the Physical Realm. That little bit of Honor’s cognitive investiture called an honorspren is what combines with Kaladin's mind to enable his direction of magical effects. That’s the Confused version of spren. See if you can straighten it out for me a little...
  7. I’m intrigued by Jasnah’s description of Shadesmar as a place where the unconscious is given expression and spren “leak out” into the Physical Realm. How does something called the Cognitive Realm (which definitionally means “Conscious” Realm) deal with the Unconscious? “Shadesmar is the way that your cognitive self – your unconscious self – experiences the world. Through your hidden senses, touching that realm, you make intuitive leaps of logic and you form hopes. It is likely through those extra senses that you, Shallan, create art.” - WoR, Kindle p. 40. This is a definitionally false statement. To be a true statement would mean Brandon simply picked a word (“cognitive”) he uses as jargon rather than its actual meaning. And that’s okay (provided we, therefore, take everything Brandon says, even textually, with suspicion…which I guess we already do.) For my personal theories, it works much better for Shadesmar to have both conscious and unconscious features, to be like a “human mind” in Cosmere truth. I received a lot of flak for my “Shattering” theory, specifically the notion that the power chose each Shard because of its “cognitive like-mindedness.” I claimed that the impulses/emotions each Shard’s mandate represents mirrored the unconscious drives of the persons who became Shards. This theory hasn’t mattered much so far, but I still think it valid. Aside [i referenced in that post the 1956 classic Sci-Fi movie The Forbidden Planet. In that movie, longtime actor Walter Pidgeon plays a scientist who discovers a massive machine built by an ancient alien civilization. He has a daughter, played by Anne Francis (later of 1960’s TV fame starring as female detective “Honey West”). They have been stranded alone for awhile, after Mommy died. A space ship arrives seeking to rescue Daddy and Daughter. Space ship captain Leslie Nielsen (yes, that Leslie Nielsen) and Daughter fall for each other. Daddy gets upset. It turns out massive alien machine has “bonded” with Daddy, turning his unconscious thoughts into “Physical Realm” power. That power kills many of the crew before Daddy realizes what he’s done and sacrifices himself to allow Daughter and Captain to escape. Does the “magic” sound familiar? BTW, this movie was the first appearance of “Robby the Robot” who went on to star in the Lost in Space TV series.] I’ve also been making a case to Kurkistan about unconscious healing. He says such healing begins as “Spiritual Realm impulses” flowing down to the Cognitive Realm. These impulses take a snapshot of a person’s self-perception (their cognitive self-image), and make the necessary adjustments to the body to effect any changes – “healing.” I posit the opposite mechanism. The body’s self-perception arises mostly in one’s unconscious – we think about it only a few times a day if that much. Changes in self-perception are themselves a series of Cognitive Realm ideas that regularly reify into new Spiritual Realm ideals/connections. Those new ideals/connections effect Physical Realm changes to one’s body – “healing.” In the Spiritual Realm, each new cognitive “idea” of a changed self-perception gets compared with the Spiritual Realm template. The Spiritual Realm only makes those changes “requested” by the Cognitive Realm idea. If the new self-perception idea doesn’t "request" a slave brand’s removal, it doesn’t happen. That’s how the Spiritual Realm deals with the self-perception issue. The significance? The unconscious mind can generate magic, just like the conscious mind can. “ALL MAGIC BEGINS IN THE COGNITIVE REALM.” (Repetition makes it true…)
  8. Much Ado About Nothing William Shakespeare, 1599 [DISCLAIMER: I did not study philosophy in school and took just one basic psych class. (On the plus side, I did sleep at Holiday Inn last night…) Please feel free to correct or refine anything (everything?) I say. And burn a prayer for used book stores!] Brandon has cited Plato, Spinoza and Jung as important influences in developing his Realmatic Theory. Despite this post’s epigraph, I really do think that understanding the Cosmere and the Shards requires some understanding of that influence. Introduction: Before embarking on this discussion, however, permit me a brief digression about the modern literary attitude toward an artist’s “philosophical influences.” If you’re not interested, just scroll down to the “Summary.” In a 1927 essay, T.S. Eliot says that the poet’s task is primarily emotional, not intellectual. He compares Dante’s The Divine Comedy – reflecting Thomas Aquinas’s highly structured philosophy – with Shakespeare’s plays, mirroring the English Renaissance’s more muddled sensibilities. Eliot argues that Dante was not greater than Shakespeare simply because the ideas of early 14th century Italy might be “greater” than the ideas of early 17th century England: “[shakespeare’s] is equally great poetry, though the philosophy behind it is not great. But the essential is, that each expresses in perfect language, some permanent human impulse.” Eliot concluded in a much-quoted statement: “The great poet, in writing himself, writes his time.” (T.S. Eliot, “Shakespeare and the Stoicism of Seneca,” reprinted in Selected Essays of T.S. Eliot, Harcourt, Brace & World, Inc.,1964, p. 117.) Our “postmodern age” is characterized (ironically) by a breakdown of belief in the efficacy of theory and “big picture” solutions. Brandon himself says he is a storyteller solving his characters’ emotional issues; the Cosmere stuff is just background. But our “times” do show up in the multiple intertwined idea systems underlying Brandon’s conception of the Cosmere. Brandon expressly acknowledges Plato’s, Spinoza’s and Jung’s contributions to his “mashed up metaphysics” (as well as Asian spirituality and other influences). And that’s why I’m talking about these dead guys… Summary: Plato fostered the concept of “dualism” – the difference between the world we see and the ideal world that “is.” Spinoza thought everything in existence is one “substance” governed by one set of rules. Jung imagined a “collective unconscious” with specific archetypes. And, if you’re still with me, I’ll highlight what appears to be a literary influence on Brandon, John Milton’s Paradise Lost. Plato: Plato’s concept of an unseen “ideal” reality underlies the whole structure of the Cosmere. That is what the Cognitive and Spiritual Realms are – alternate unseen realities. Plato’s “dualism” has dominated Western philosophy for 2,400 years and is one of the foundational pillars of Christianity (Heaven versus Earth). Plato addresses dualism in the opening passages of Book VII of The Republic, the “Parable (or Allegory) of the Cave.” People have lived their entire lives in a cave; their only knowledge of the outside world are shadows flickering on the cave wall and the echoes of distant sounds. These people have no concept of the “real world” the rest of us “know”; the shadows and echoes ARE their “reality.” Plato’s point? We cannot see beyond our own shadows to the “true,” the ideal reality. ASIDE: [if you’re not interested in philosophy, skip it.] Platonic dualism has fallen out of favor with certain American philosophers since the late 1800s. They prefer the philosophy of “Pragmatism” first espoused by men who personally witnessed the carnage of the American Civil War. These men sought a worldview that accommodated the fact that both sides to a conflict can believe with equal fervor they are right. Pragmatism was their answer. They explicitly rejected Platonic dualism, which in their view encouraged each side’s self-certitude (“God is on our side,” etc.). To a pragmatist, a belief was “true” not because it reflected an ideal established in an unseen reality. Rather, “truth” was measured by the belief’s “cash value” (William James’ phrase). Did that belief improve that person’s life – materially, emotionally, spiritually…in whatever ways matter to that person. In an uncertain world, which beliefs are useful and which are not? Pragmatism’s critics label this approach “relativism,” since (they claim) it adheres to no fixed set of ideals or values. The neo-Pragmatist Richard Rorty (who died in 2007) characterized the Pragmatic response to dualism as follows (my interpretation, not Rorty’s words): Pragmatists do not reject the possibility that something is as others believe it to be. They simply embrace the certainty that humankind will never discover the truth of it. Therefore, rather than to rely on external authority, whether labeled “God” or “Reason,” Rorty argued that humankind should decide by consensus how best to govern its behavior. As an avowed atheist who married and had children with a devout Mormon, Rorty clearly lived out his belief in human consensus (as did his wife). Plato’s theory of “forms” also appears in The Republic (first in Book V, but principally in Books VI and VII), but he continued refining this theory over his lifetime. The theory of forms is an adjunct to dualism and states that every object and idea in our world exists in ideal form in the alternate reality. All horses, for example, are based on the form or idea of “horse” existing elsewhere. Plato and his forms thus give us Brandon’s Spiritual Realm. Kurkistan has done a fantastic – and persistent – job conceptualizing the Spiritual Realm in terms of Plato’s forms. He was one of the first to point out how magic works in the Cosmere, through the manipulation of Spiritual Realm connections. Check him out, beginning with this thread. Despite my admiration for his work, I don’t agree with some of Kurkistan’s conclusions Since he wrote the linked post in 2013, I’m not sure Kurkistan himself would agree with them. As one example, he now rejects the idea that Spiritual Realm connections are the sole source of magic in the Cosmere. I also think Kurkistan himself would say that the cited post overly restricts the means by which a Spiritual Realm ideal form can be created. He states forms arise from “the massed Cognitive perceptions of large numbers of sapient…beings.” It seems to me a form can also arise from the mind of ONE sapient being. For example, the person who invented the wheel created the Spiritual essence of a wheel through the invention process. His fixed and separate “wheel” idea caused the wheel to “think of itself” as a wheel. Without Spiritual Realm connections between the wheel’s essence, the Powers of Creation (Gravitation, Friction, e.g.) and other ideal objects such as the planetary soul itself, the wheel’s inventor could never have actually made the wheel. Only after the wheel was seen and imitated by others was there a “massed Cognitive perception” of it. The same would be true of every novelty or invention, including the development of language itself. And, of course, in this post I posit that the entire Cosmere first existed as an idea in the mind of whatever “God” created it. Baruch Spinoza: Brandon has said that the Cosmere consists of everything in our universe – energy and matter – plus investiture. He’s further said that all of it is changeable from one state to another. Sazed/Harmony’s quotes in the hyperlinked post evidence Brandon’s conception of the Cosmere. These ideas come from Spinoza. Spinoza equated God and “nature,” claiming they were the same fundamental substance governed by one set of rules. Spinoza believed everything in the universe was one substance. There was no concept of matter (or energy). Everything was made from the same stuff, changeable in form and function. Brandon parts with Spinoza in some key respects. While the Cosmere contains both a Physical and Cognitive Realm, Spinoza objected to the “mind-body” dualism espoused by his near contemporary Rene Descartes (the “I think, therefore I am” guy). Because everything is one “substance,” including the mind and body, there should be no disjunction between thinking and being, as Descartes claimed. Spinoza also believed strongly in “determinism” – the idea that the future follows inexorably from the past and present with no variation. Brandon prefers the quantum mechanics approach of an uncertain future based on probabilities. Carl Jung Brandon has said Jung’s concept of the collective unconscious inspired his idea of Parshendi non-verbal communication. Presumably he meant that the spren bonded to a given Parshendi form enabled the common “chanting” and mass communication of the Parshendi. Jung, like Freud, distinguished between the conscious and unconscious minds. While Freud conceptualized the mind in terms of an id, ego and superego, many of the processes of which took place in the unconscious, Jung conceptualized the unconscious mind as consisting of two components: the personal and the collective. The personal unconscious reflects our individual experiences, but the collective unconscious is shared by the common culture. The collective unconscious is a place of “archetypes” – common cultural memes, often from myths and legends – Water, Mother, Hero, etc. Jung himself acknowledged the commonality between his “archetypes” and Plato’s “forms.” (“Archetypes of the Collective Unconscious,” reprinted in The Basic Writings of C.G. Jung, Modern Library Edition, 1995, p. 360.) While these archetypes resemble Spiritual Realm ideals, the collective unconscious itself looks like the Cognitive Realm. Sometimes I think Brandon’s metaphor for the Shattering is an emotional breakdown. Adonalsium “lost it” and his emotions went flying in all different directions. Each of the Shardworlds represents a ganglia of neurons thinly connected to one another through the Cognitive Realm. The Cosmere’s narrative is about reintegrating Adonalsium’s personality. (Not by recreating Adonalsium, but by unifying the disparate cultures the Shardworlds represent and restoring humanity’s “oneness.”) John Milton’s Paradise Lost: I may have found an unacknowledged influence on Brandon – John Milton’s Paradise Lost. It’s hard not to notice the similar language used by Brandon and Milton. Check out the following passage. (Each of the following quotations is from J. Milton, Paradise Lost, The Odyssey Press, Inc., 1935 – another cheer for used bookstores!.) “The Sulphurous Hail Shot after us in storm, o’erblown hath laid The fiery Surge, that from the Precipice Of Heav'n receiv'd us falling, and the Thunder, Wing'd with red Lightning and impetuous rage, Perhaps hath spent his shafts, and ceases now To bellow through the vast and boundless Deep. Let us not slip th’ occasion, whether scorn, Or satiate fury yield it from our Foe. Seest thou yon dreary Plain, forlorn and wild, The seat of desolation, void of light…” Book I, lines 171-181 (emphasis added). Surges, red lightning, desolations and voids? All in one passage!? It seems beyond coincidence… And then there’s how the SLA morality play superficially resembles Paradise Lost and how Odium superficially resembles Satan: Paradise Lost provides the back story to humankind’s fall from innocence and expulsion from Eden. (How’d ya like them apples, hey Adam?). SLA references humankind’s expulsion from the Tranquiline Hills and desire to return to that state of grace by fighting off Odium. As God has bound Satan to Hell in Paradise Lost, where the Fallen Angel plots his freedom and revenge, so has Honor bound Odium to Greater Roshar (I believe). Odium has already taken his revenge, by killing Tanavast and splintering Honor. His try for freedom forms SLA’s plot. ASIDE FOR Star Trek FANS -- Check out this quote: “Here at least We shall be free; th' Almighty hath not built Here for his envy, will not drive us hence: Here we may reign secure, and in my choice To reign is worth ambition though in Hell: Better to reign in Hell, than serve in Heav'n.” Ibid, lines 258-263 (emphasis added). The last line is the answer to the question Ricardo Montalban as Khan asks William Shatner as Kirk at the end of the 1967 episode “Space Seed,” the prequel to the 1982 movie The Wrath of Khan. As the Enterprise prepares to beam down Khan and his comrades to an isolated planet, Khan asks Kirk: “Do you know your Milton, Captain?” And, of course, Shatner, with his usual smugness, acknowledges he does. See you all on TED! (Not…)