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So if the issue is mental tension, and the underlying source of mental tension is unresolved ambiguity, then what sort of practice would we use to approach that?

It seems as if the answer is ‘get more information’, but we should be more specific about what we mean by that, since running around acquiring the information we need to resolve our various psychological/emotional/intellectual tensions is pretty much just what we all do already. Cops and accountants and stay at home parents are constantly extracting patterns from clouds of informational ambiguity, and they most likely end up being exceptionally good at that, but is that the same as being an enlightened cop, accountant, or stay at home parent? Being really good at the specific things you do, such that tension rarely arises or persists, is not the same as having found a general solution to mental tension itself.

And it doesn’t seem as if the problem is one of having too narrow a range of experiences: Getting arbitrarily better at resolving all possible situational ambiguities doesn’t seem as if it would get us closer to resolving the issue of mental tension itself. And it wouldn’t be a practical solution anyway: acquiring all the information needed to resolve every conceivable ambiguity would have to entail a godlike “view from nowhere”, that clearly isn’t accessible to finite mortal creatures such as ourselves.

So if the answer isn’t more information, it might be, rather, better information. We don’t need a greater abundance of specific information that will help us extract patterns from a greater number of particular situations, thereby defusing a greater number of possible sources of mental tension. Rather, it seems like what we’re really looking for is a kind of meta-information, regarding all possible instances of mental tension whatsoever, which means we would need to find out some very general facts about the phenomena of mental tension, as such.

At this point the astute reader will no doubt say: but we already did that. …And it’s true, we did. But now we need to look at it again, but in slightly different way.

 

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