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Consciousness and the Paranormal — Part 11

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Soupie

Paranormal Adept
Very interesting Tute. I've skimmed a bit of the article, and I'm anxious to read it in depth and more about relational ontology. Relational ontology is not incompatible with my approach to the MBP. My use of the term/concept panpsychism is related to my commitment to monism--that mind and body are constituted of essentially the same thing. On this view, that 'thing' would be relations.

Relations are fundamental, matter and minds emerge from them. (Consciousness-substrate is fundamental, matter and minds emerge from them.)

"In the light of such a relational process approach, reality is conceived as a continuously changing web of co-dependent relational construction processes between an ever indeterminable number of relations and relata, always transforming each other and co-evolving through different relational systems."
 

smcder

Paranormal Adept
Thanks for the references. My mentor in phenomenological philosophy recommended long ago that I read that volume and I will read it again now. Can you help me out with a link to the Ferreira work on meaning? The last few days I've been afflicted by searing headaches, episodes of whole-body shivering, exhaustion, and some kind of sleeping sickness. I think this was likely the result of some kind tick or other bite, and I'm getting better now but have missed a lot here.
I've had tick borne illness and it can be very serious!

I hope you are better now.
 

smcder

Paranormal Adept
Here's a link to the introductory chapter of Re-engineering Philosophy for Limited Beings: Piecewise Approximations to reality (2007) by William C. Wimsatt. It should be helpful to us at this juncture and is cited in the bibliography of the Santos paper that @Tute linked for us today.

Re-engineering Philosophy for Limited Beings

See the table of contents for the book as a whole here:

Re-engineering Philosophy for Limited Beings
Looks very good...here's the Notre Dame review and I seem to have found a PDF of the entire work.

Re-Engineering Philosophy for Limited Beings: Piecewise Approximations to Reality // Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews // University of Notre Dame
 

Constance

Paranormal Adept
Here is a link to a paper by David Morris entitled "From the Nature of Meaning to a Phenomenological Refiguring of Nature," which I linked in Part 7 of this thread while we were discussing efforts to 'naturalize phenomenology'. This paper fits hand in glove with both the Wimsatt and Santos works before us currently. You can read the abstract and notes here. The second link below goes to a pdf of paper as a whole.

From the Nature of Meaning to a Phenomenological Refiguring of Nature
Abstract:
"I argue that reconciling nature with human experience requires a new ontology in which nature is refigured as being in and of itself meaningful, thus reconfiguring traditional dualisms and the ‘hard problem of consciousness’. But this refiguring of nature entails a method in which nature itself can exhibit its conceptual reconfiguration—otherwise we get caught in various conceptual and methodological problems that surreptitiously reduplicate the problem we are seeking to resolve. I first introduce phenomenology as a methodology fit to this task, then show how life manifests a field in which nature in and of itself exhibits meaningfulness, such that this field can serve as a starting point for this phenomenological project. Finally, I take immunogenesis as an example in which living phenomena can guide insights into the ontology in virtue of which meaning arises in nature."

From the Nature of Meaning to a Phenomenological Refiguring of Nature | Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplements | Cambridge Core

https://spectrum.library.concordia.ca/977292/1/nature_of_meaning_published.pdf
 
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Constance

Paranormal Adept
Extract from the opening of the David Morris paper "From the Nature of Meaning to a Phenomenological Refiguring of Nature" . . . .

From the Nature of Meaning to a Phenomenological Refiguring of Nature
DAVID MORRIS

"Abstract: I argue that reconciling nature with human experience requires a new ontology in which nature is refigured as being in and of itself meaningful,thus reconfiguring traditional dualisms and the ‘hard problem of consciousness’. But this refiguring of nature entails a method in which nature itself can exhibit its conceptual reconfiguration—otherwise we get caught in various conceptual and methodological problems that surreptitiously reduplicate the problem we are seeking to resolve. I first introduce phenomenology as a methodology fit to this task, then show how life manifests a field in which nature in and of itself exhibits meaningfulness, such that this field can serve as a starting point for this phenomenological project. Finally, I take immunogenesis as an example in which living phenomena can guide insights into the ontology in virtue of which meaning arises in nature.

1. Introduction

The topic of phenomenology and naturalism raises the question whether human experience can be naturalized, that is, conceptualized as integral with nature as we understand it. A central context for this question is ongoing debates about the relation between mind and nature. My studies lead me to think that debates and problems in this area are deeply informed – and led astray – by an uncritically accepted philosophical and scientific commitment that we can trace back to Descartes at least, namely the concept of nature as a moving material system devoid of inherent meaningfulness. Mindful human experience, as meaningful, is thus at odds with nature and cannot be naturalized – hence the now classic ‘hard problem of consciousness’, the problem of qualia, and so on.1 If, on the contrary, we can show that meaning is not just ‘in the head’ but is right there and indeed arises in the very movement of nature, then we can find a way to conceptualize mindful human experience as integral with nature. My thought is that showing this entails a new ontology of nature – a new way of conceptualizing what nature is.

To further contextualize my claim, let me note that the mind-body and mind-nature debates typically take mind as the sole ontological and conceptual difficulty, as if the obvious problem is fitting a very strange thing, mind, into a body and nature that cannot harbour mind. In recent years, though, various researchers (including some in this volume 2) have argued that we must rethink our typical – in fact latently Cartesian – concepts of the body. In my terms, this rethinking of the body amounts to the revelation of the body not as a meaningless machine but as a system whose living dynamics and behaviour already exhibit cognitive and meaning-generating characteristics. Some, such as the philosopher Renaud Barbaras 3 go further, insisting that resolving the mind-body problem similarly entails a new concept and ontology of nature. The moves afoot in effect expand the field of meaning, by noticing how the dynamics of living and natural systems in fact already exhibit a kind of meaningfulness that could harbour mind. But this expansion of meaning entails new and challenging ways of conceptualizing the body and nature. This is the move I pursue here: the hard problem isn’t figuring out mind, but refiguring nature.

My pursuit of this refiguring of nature hinges on a methodological strategy that stems from phenomenology. Phenomenology is a radically empirical philosophy. It aims to begin with what shows itself in experience, and to have what shows itself educate us into the proper ways to conceptualize things. In keeping with this radical empiricism, my phenomenological strategy is to let nature itself, as empirically manifest phenomenon, educate us into properly conceiving nature, the way in which meaning is at work in it, and the ontology that makes this possible. But to do this I first need to show that experience makes available a field of nature, or more precisely, of life, that, as an empirically manifest phenomenon, can itself educate us into a new concept of nature. I call this ‘life as transcendental field’: life as manifesting a field of irreducible meaning, that, as meaningful, can orient and educate our understanding of nature. Note that I here use ‘empirical’ and ‘transcendental’ in ways that spring from the phenomenological and associated traditions, but may not be typical for all philosophical audiences. I will say more about this usage in the next section.

In saying that life is a transcendental field within experience that can educate us into a new concept of nature, I am saying something provocative vis-à-vis phenomenological method as it is typically construed. In the next section, I trace the methodological issue by briefly introducing phenomenology to those not familiar with it.4 In section three I leap into an empirical-critical study of embryogenesis, so as to describe life as a transcendental field that itself institutes irreducible meaning. This makes life phenomenologically available within experience, as a sort of lens into nature that can give us insight into a new ontology. To illustrate this strategy, in which living phenomena are studied to glean ontological insights, in the final section I suggest how immunogenesis can let us glimpse an ontological point about what is involved in there being meaning in nature. . . ."
 

USI Calgary

J. Randall Murphy
Staff member
Extract from the opening of the David Morris paper "From the Nature of Meaning to a Phenomenological Refiguring of Nature" . . . . From the Nature of Meaning to a Phenomenological Refiguring of Nature. DAVID MORRIS ... "
As usual, the problem stems from the initial premise, in this case the view that nature is. To quote, "... a moving material system devoid of inherent meaningfulness ...". If we discard this rather self-serving view and accept that fundamentally, nature and existence are indistinguishable from one another, then everything becomes a part of nature. The question then becomes one of differentiating between the various types of natural phenomena. That leads us to the concept of emergence, where complexity and seemingly new phenomena, including consciousness, arise from a combination of preexisting natural phenomena. In this context rather than using terms like natural versus unnatural, we might try using other terms like organic versus synthetic.

Something else you might find interesting:
Death, ‘Deathlessness’ & Existenz in Karl Jaspers’ Philosophy by Filiz Peach
 
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Soupie

Paranormal Adept
That leads us to the concept of emergence, where complexity and seemingly new phenomena, including consciousness, arise from a combination of preexisting natural phenomena.
Please share a model and/or theory that explains how phenomenal consciousness might emerge from preexisting, non-phenomenally conscious natural phenomena.
 

USI Calgary

J. Randall Murphy
Staff member
Please share a model and/or theory that explains how phenomenal consciousness might emerge from preexisting, non-phenomenally conscious natural phenomena.
It's already been covered in the back and forth on emergence, but If something specific seems to be missing from all that, or you feel something needs review, it would be helpful if you could be more specific as to what particular aspect you think we should focus on.
 

Soupie

Paranormal Adept
It's already been covered in the back and forth on emergence, but If something specific seems to be missing from all that, or you feel something needs review, it would be helpful if you could be more specific as to what particular aspect you think we should focus on.
I don't think I can be any more specific than asking "please share a model and/or theory." Are you implying that one has been shared?

The notion that phenomenal consciousness might emerge from non-phenomenal, natural (ie physical) phenomena is problematic. You can continue to wave your hands and say "complexity, emergence, EM waves" but thats not helpful. If it seems to fall on deaf ears here, thats why. Also your delivery. :)
 

USI Calgary

J. Randall Murphy
Staff member
I don't think I can be any more specific than asking "please share a model and/or theory." Are you implying that one has been shared?

The notion that phenomenal consciousness might emerge from non-phenomenal, natural (ie physical) phenomena is problematic. You can continue to wave your hands and say "complexity, emergence, EM waves" but thats not helpful. If it seems to fall on deaf ears here, thats why. Also your delivery. :)
Your interpretation appears to rest on the assumption that consciousness isn't natural or physical. Those are two independent claims, the first of which is only supportable if one arbitrarily limits what we mean by natural to a context that fits that belief. If on the other hand one sees nature as all that exists, then nothing is fundamentally unnatural. Things only break down into various sub-categories that are closer to or further away from what is primordial.

The second claim ( that consciousness isn't physical ) relies on a similarly self-serving definition of what we mean by physical. As has been covered in past posts, I don't equate physical with material e.g. solid like a piece of furniture. I see it as an expression of the rules of nature, and therefore although we don't yet understand the rules of nature that are responsible for the existence of consciousness, by virtue of consciousness's existence, such rules must exist, which means consciousness is in this context physical.

It may be the case that you look at these concepts very differently from me, which is of course perfectly normal. However if it seems that my perspective is at cross purposes to yours, then I would submit that it is probably more a matter of context than either one of us being either right or wrong, and I'm not sure what can be done to reconcile the disparity. I am however open to ideas.
 

Soupie

Paranormal Adept
Your interpretation appears to rest on the assumption that consciousness isn't natural or physical. Those are two independent claims, the first of which is only supportable if one arbitrarily limits what we mean by natural to a context that fits that belief. If on the other hand one sees nature as all that exists, then nothing is fundamentally unnatural. Things only break down into various sub-categories that are closer to or further away from what is primordial.

The second claim ( that consciousness isn't physical ) relies on a similarly self-serving definition of what we mean by physical. As has been covered in past posts, I don't equate physical with material e.g. solid like a piece of furniture. I see it as an expression of the rules of nature, and therefore although we don't yet understand the rules of nature that are responsible for the existence of consciousness, by virtue of consciousness's existence, such rules must exist, which means consciousness is in this context physical.

It may be the case that you look at these concepts very differently from me, which is of course perfectly normal. However if it seems that my perspective is at cross purposes to yours, then I would submit that it is probably more a matter of context than either one of us being either right or wrong, and I'm not sure what can be done to reconcile the disparity. I am however open to ideas.
Expanding the normal/mainstream definition of physicalism to include phenomenal consciousness and subjectivity does nothing to actually explain how the mind and body are related. Sure. Let's claim that p-consciousness is physical... Now what?

Yes, everything that exists is natural. Consciousness exists so it is natural. ... That gets us nowhere. We don't naturalize phenomenology by simply saying "it's natural."

It may be consciousness and mind are emergent phenomena but they will have emerged from a background different from the physicalist/materialist background as currently conceived in mainstream physics.
 

USI Calgary

J. Randall Murphy
Staff member
... It may be consciousness and mind are emergent phenomena but they will have emerged from a background different from the physicalist/materialist background as currently conceived in mainstream physics.
We're not talking "mainstream physics" ( whatever that is ). We're talking philosophy, and from what I've seen in that arena, there's no consensus as to exactly what the terms used there mean other than in the context that they're used by specific philosophers. That's why I stated the specific context in which I use them as compared to the example that came into question and pointed out why that example was self-limiting.

On whether or not that gets us any further ahead: I never claimed that it did. However on a personal level, the meanings of the terms I use provide me with a clearer sense of direction than the alternatives presented here so far. Also, having the luxury of not having to report to any particular authority gives me the freedom to explore that path as far as I like. If that doesn't impress anyone, so what? I'm fine being just another traveller along the path who is as lost as everyone else seems to be.
 
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Pharoah

Paranormal Adept
I don't think I can be any more specific than asking "please share a model and/or theory." Are you implying that one has been shared?

The notion that phenomenal consciousness might emerge from non-phenomenal, natural (ie physical) phenomena is problematic. You can continue to wave your hands and say "complexity, emergence, EM waves" but thats not helpful. If it seems to fall on deaf ears here, thats why. Also your delivery. :)
Is there any theory of consciousness that can avoid having to make an account of emergent
 
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