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Consciousness and the Paranormal — Part 9

Discussion in 'General Freewheeling Chit-Chat' started by Gene Steinberg, Feb 23, 2017.



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  1. Gene Steinberg

    Gene Steinberg Forum Super Hero Staff Member

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  2. Constance

    Constance Paranormal Adept

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    But do all those ideas have their end/find completion in Hegel? If so, why did these philosophies need to be developed? Why are we still attempting to develop an understanding of consciousness that encompasses all that we experience and reflect upon/are able to think?
     
  3. Michael Allen

    Michael Allen Paranormal Adept

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    @Constance

    I think @Soupie beat me to the punch on the answer to your question regarding Hegel's "razor."

    To further illustrate this, I will re-post--with my commentary--the "Introduction" to Phenomenology of Spirit:

    Section 73, paragraph 2:

    "It would seem, to be sure, that this evil could be remedied through an acquaintance with the way in which the instrument works; for this would enable us to eliminate from the representation of the Absolute [Kant's 'noumena'] which we have gained through it whatever is due to the instrument, and thus get the truth in its purity [my emphasis here]. But this 'improvement' would in fact only bring back to where we were before [foreshadowing Heidegger and MP here]. If we remove from a reshaped thing what the instrument has done to it [us], then the thing--here the Absolute--becomes for us exactly what it was before this [accordingly] superfluous effort. On the other hand, if the Absolute is supposed merely to be brought nearer to us through this instrument, without anything in it being altered, like a bird caught by a lime-twig, it would surely laugh our little ruse to score, if it were not WITH US [emphasis mine], in an for itself, all along, and of its own volition. For a ruse is just what cognition would be in such a case [MA: Hegel's sense of humor here, it would be a huge self-contradictory joke], since it would, with its manifold exertions, be creating merely immediate and therefore effortless relationship [MA: again here is the grand reductio ad absurdum Hegel is trying to show--no "relations" between such beings are without effort] . Or, if by testing cognition, which we conceive of as a medium, we get to know the law of its refraction, it is again useless to subtract this from the end result"

    If our knowledge of the existence of Kant's noumena prevails, why are we saying that it is completely outside our knowledge...the "effects" of it provide us all the knowledge we need. If noumena were truly inaccessible to human cognition, we'd never even know (or presume) that it existed. This is VERY important.

    Back to Hegel:

    "For it is not the refraction of the ray [MA: analogy of our instrument of cognition], but the ray itself whereby truth reaches us, that is cognition; and if this were removed, all that would be indicated would be a pure direction or BLANK SPACE [emphasis mine]"

    Section 74:

    "Meanwhile, if the fear of falling into error [MA: in our attempt to ascertain something about that which appears at first to be logically inaccessible--i.e. the "noumena"] sets up a mistrust of Science, which in the absence of such scruples gets on with the work itself [MA: if it works, why abandon the project?], and actually cognizes something, it is hard to see why we should not turn round and mistrust this very mistrust [MA: The "Razor"]. Should we not be concerned as to whether this fear of error is not just the error itself?"

    And thus the fundamentals of dividing the world into "noumena" vs "phenomena" resolves to a contradiction when the very question against such is thus turned against itself.

    "Indeed, this fear takes something--a great deal in fact--for granted as TRUTH [emphasis mine], supporting its scruples [axioms, rules, etc] and inferences on what it itself in need of prior scrutiny to see if it is true"

    Here the scruples that brought about the Kant's division break down under their own stupified weight

    "To be specific, it takes for granted certain ideas about cognition as an instrument and as a medium, an assumes that there is a difference between ourselves and this cognition [of the Absolute through the medium, etc]. Above all, it presupposes that the Absolute [i.e. Noumena] stands on one side and cognition [i.e. Phenomena] on the other, independent and separated from it, and yet is something REAL [my emphasis]; or in other worlds, it presupposes that cognition, which since it is excluded from the Absolute, is surely outside of truth as well, IS NEVERTHELESS TRUE [my emphasis], an assumption whereby what call itself fear of error reveals itself rather as fear of the truth."


    That's Hegel's Razor...memorize it.
     
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  4. Michael Allen

    Michael Allen Paranormal Adept

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    @Constance

    The reason is that Hegel is very dense and hard to read...and he gives so many examples as to tire the pragmatic reader who wants to get to the point. A very thorough reading of Hegel will help you reconstruct most of what you have already gleaned in his philosophic descendents :)
     
  5. Constance

    Constance Paranormal Adept

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    If Hegel's philosophical system is expressed and developed in the works of his philosophic descendents, why would I need to go back to read all of Hegel? In fact, it seems to me that Hegel's thought has been both extended and critiqued by later philosophers, as in this paper concerning MP's late thinking. Btw, this paper is relevant to the contemporary project of 'naturalizing phenomenology' or 'phenomenologizing nature' which we discussed at some length around the turn of the new year.

    David Storey, Spirit and/or Flesh: Merleau-Ponty's Encounter with Hegel

    http://phaenex.uwindsor.ca/ojs/leddy/index.php/phaenex/article/viewFile/604/745
     
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  6. Constance

    Constance Paranormal Adept

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  7. smcder

    smcder Paranormal Adept

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    The Archdruid Report: A Muddle of Mind and Matter

    "As he (Schopenhauer) saw it, the mind isn’t the be-all and end-all of the self, stuck somehow into the prison house of the body. Rather, the mind is a frail and unstable set of functions that surface now and then on top of other functions that are much older, stronger, and more enduring. What expresses itself through all these functions, in turn, is will: at the most basic primary level, as the will to exist; on a secondary level, as the will to live, with all the instincts and drives that unfold from that will; on a tertiary level, as the will to experience, with all the sensory and cognitive apparatus that unfolds from that will; and on a quaternary level, as the will to understand, with all the abstract concepts and relationships that unfold from that will.

    Notice that from this point of view, the structure of thought isn't the structure of the cosmos, just a set of convenient models, and thoughts about things are emphatically not more real than the things themselves. The things themselves are wills, expressing themselves through their several modes. The things as we know them are representations, and our thoughts about the things are abstract patterns we create out of memories of representations, and thus at two removes from reality."
     
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  8. Constance

    Constance Paranormal Adept

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    "So, for Merleau-Ponty 'the lived synthesis of subject and object' is 'effected every moment before our eyes' in our pre-objective experience precisely because we are a transcendence toward a world, not a pure subject. But this is also because 'the world' defies the status of pure object due to its co-constitutional role with respect to the perceived world. This primordial process is 'the very definition of existence'." Christopher Pollard, pg. 23 [link is a few posts up]

    Merleau-Ponty is referring in the above analysis to pre-reflective experience and that which is learned and understood within it before the reflective consciousness develops and provides the intellectual ground for conceptualizations and abstractions in what we in the West consider to constitute 'thought'. Pollard's paper provides a detailed comparison and contrast between the philosophies of Hegel and Merleau-Ponty.
     
  9. Constance

    Constance Paranormal Adept

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    I wish Greer would provide an abstract for the thesis he is developing or else an introduction to this series of blogs in which he raises issues and then often [in the first two blogs anyway] says 'we'll get to that later'. It would help me to forecast where he's going or what he's aiming at. It might well be that regular readers of Greer can anticipate where he's going if they are aware of his general world view, which is apparently connected to Druidism and 'Magic'. I unfortunately have no background in these subjects. Would you help me out by providing a brief characterization of his basic ideas about the nature of being and of consciousness? Thanks in advance. :)
     
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  10. Constance

    Constance Paranormal Adept

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    "Hegel holds that we do in fact have the noumena in thought."

    By contrast, Merleau-Ponty holds that we have the noumena in experienced being-in-the-world, first pre-reflectively and subsequently reflectively.
     
  11. Constance

    Constance Paranormal Adept

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    Pre-reflective lived experience is clarified in the paper linked below, which also explores the cultural consequences of what Heidegger called 'the forgetfulness of being'. I provided a lengthy extract from this paper in this post from Part 6 of this thread, where the link to the whole paper is embedded

    Consciousness and the Paranormal — Part 6

    Following here are a few extracts from the extensive quotations from the paper presented in the linked post in Part 6.

    Phenomenology of Practice
    Max van Manen, University of Alberta
    Phenomenology & Practice, Volume 1 (2007), No. 1, pp. 11 – 30.

    ". . .In his Phenomenology of Internal Time Consciousness (1964) Edmund Husserl uses the famous example of sound to illustrate how the tones of a piece of music present themselves in the instant of the now; and how the successive retention and protention of melody gives us the experience of time past, present, and future. In Husserl's epistemological language it is the primal impressional consciousness and its retentional and protentional aspects that make our lived experiences potentially available in the form of intentional objects for our reflection. On the one hand, primal impressional consciousness is prereflective and thus it manifests itself as an inexhaustible deposit of primordialities that constitute our experiential existence. On the other hand, the experiences that we live through present themselves to us as accessible to reflection and language, according to Husserl:

    "We must distinguish: the prephenomenal being of experiences, their being before we have turned toward them in reflection, and their being as phenomena. When we turn toward the experience attentively and grasp it, it takes on a new mode of being: it becomes "differentiated," "singled out." And this differentiating is precisely nothing other than the grasping; and the differentiatedness is nothing other than being-grasped, being the object of our turning-towards (Husserl 1991, p. 132)."

    So when reflection lifts up and out from the prereflective stream of consciousness the lived experiences that give shape and content to our awareness, reflection interprets what in a prereflective sense already presents itself as a primal awareness. Obviously, there are many philosophical issues associated with these distinctions. For example, is the prereflective stream of consciousness already a conscious experiential awareness? And what is the relation between the passive reflection by which consciousness becomes aware of itself as world, and the more active reflection of thinking? Is prereflective experience already experience of meaning, lived meaning? Or does meaning and intelligibility only emerge at a linguistic or more reflective level of the practice of living?

    For Husserl the ultimate source of intelligibility seems to be the primal impressional stream of preconscious life that becomes interpretatively available to our understanding as lived experience. In Husserl's words, "the term lived experience signifies givenness of internal consciousness, inward perceivedness" (Husserl, 1964, p. 177). To say that primal impression-retention-protention is preconscious does not mean that it precedes consciousness, but rather that it is conscious in a primal prereflective sense. It points to the realm that for Husserl is the source and the condition for intelligibility of the experience or practice of living.

    "Heidegger shows how with Friedrich Nietzsche's notion of the "eternally recurring will-to-power," our (post)modern sensibility of reality has become a metaphysics of nihilistic enframing that treats all entities (including human beings) instrumentally, available for our use. This last historical Western epoch of being is the declared end of metaphysics, and, according to Heidegger, it has led to a thoughtless nihilism that reduces all intelligibility to technological sensibility: viewing anything that exists as infinite, and thus without end, meaning, or purpose. However, in Heidegger's view, Nietzsche's philosophy of will-to-power is still based on a metaphysics — a metaphysics that has forgotten its own forgetfulness of being. Instead, the being of entities is pervasively viewed within a calculative rationality. Even our interest in quality and qualitative concerns tends to become reduced to and absorbed by the instrumental and quantitative preoccupations. In Thomson's words, "our technological understanding of being produces a calculative thinking that quantifies all qualitative relations, reducing entities to bivalent, programmable ‘information'" (Thomson, 2005, p. 56).

    . . . Our Nietzschean rejection of reflection on being and ground lets us forget our forgetfulness. At present it is fashionable to level the charge of "foundationalism," the supposition that we can ground our practices in something certain, unchanging or absolute. But the real danger, says Thomson, is not the search for a sense of foundation or ground, but the predicament that we forget that something has been forgotten. According to Thomson shallow antifoundationalism merely surrenders us to a thoughtless and inattentive onto-theology 'that preconceives all entities as intrinsically meaningless.'** . . . . ."
     
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  12. Soupie

    Soupie Paranormal Adept

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    Very helpful.

    This seems to imply that Kant considered noumena and phenomena to be ontologically distinct. That hadn't been my understanding. What I take the noumena/phenomena distinction to mean is simply that naive/direct Realism is false. Perception does not give us the thing in itself but only a perceptual representation of the thing in itself. (With the qualification of course that perception is constituted of the thing in itself, i.e. the noumena.)

    My interest in this distinction is in how it relates to the HP of consciousness. The noumena/phenomena distinction imo explains the HP. Why can't we explain how consciousness emerges from matter? Because it doesn't. Matter is merely a perceptual, phenomenal representation of the noumena. That is, consciousness is primary in relation to matter. We shouldn't expect the former to emerge from the latter.
     
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  13. Constance

    Constance Paranormal Adept

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    Here is something @Soupie posted in Part 6 that we might contemplate and discuss:

    "What insects can tell us about the origins of consciousness. - PubMed - NCBI

    "How, why, and when consciousness evolved remain hotly debated topics. Addressing these issues requires considering the distribution of consciousness across the animal phylogenetic tree. Here we propose that at least one invertebrate clade, the insects, has a capacity for the most basic aspect of consciousness: subjective experience. In vertebrates the capacity for subjective experience is supported by integrated structures in the midbrain that create a neural simulation of the state of the mobile animal in space. This integrated and egocentric representation of the world from the animal's perspective is sufficient for subjective experience. Structures in the insect brain perform analogous functions. Therefore, we argue the insect brain also supports a capacity for subjective experience. In both vertebrates and insects this form of behavioral control system evolved as an efficient solution to basic problems of sensory reafference and true navigation. The brain structures that support subjective experience in vertebrates and insects are very different from each other, but in both cases they are basal to each clade. Hence we propose the origins of subjective experience can be traced to the Cambrian."

    Consciousness and the Paranormal — Part 6
     
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  14. smcder

    smcder Paranormal Adept

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    Ant Intelligence Update

    "... there is increasing evidence that individual ants, bees, and termites are very intelligent, which allows for intelligent actions of the colony."
     
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  15. smcder

    smcder Paranormal Adept

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    ...and the inevitable "NAY"

    Insects cannot tell us anything about subjective experience or the origin of consciousness
     
  16. Constance

    Constance Paranormal Adept

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  17. Constance

    Constance Paranormal Adept

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    Also posted in that discussion in Part 6:

    "Soupie wrote:

    Right, so if there is an objective "real" world and a subjective "phenomenal" world overlaid on top of it, then it must be the case that each of us has a personal phenomenal world out there overtop of the real world.

    So there is the real world and billions of phenomenal worlds laying on top of it.

    If that's not the case, then it's as you say, each of us views the phenomenal world differently... But isn't that just kicking the can down the road. Shan't we just say we each view (experience) the objective, real world differently?"


    Pharoah replied:

    "The idea that there are as many phenomenal worlds as individual creatures is one way out of the RM [Reflexive Monism, Velmans] 'problems', but it does not make much sense then to say that there is "a" phenomenal world out there. As you say, it kicks the can down the road; intuitively it is a poor stance that requires an increasingly convoluted explanatory thesis. If there is a danger in a subjective approach, due to subjective presuppositions, RM may illustrate it."


    I wonder why it is so difficult for some humans to understand that there is just one natural world and that it is actual, but experienced and perceived in varying ways by different species of life. Pharoah is right in the underscored passage in his post: there is a not "a phenomenal world" separate from the actual world we exist in. And @Soupie is correct in the underscored paragraph in her post: "Shan't we just say we each view (experience) the objective, real world differently?"

    The next step in thinking about consciousness and perception is to accept that as a consequence of the above insights, the concept of 'reality' becomes coherent only with an understanding of the interpenetration and interaction of subjective and objective poles of 'what-is' constituted in and through lived experience in the 'world' in which we find ourselves existing.
     
  18. Usual Suspect

    Usual Suspect USI Calgary

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    Not really. The objective realities of the universe can be entirely "coherent" in the absence of subjectivity. In fact the universe appears to have evolved on its own for the greatest part of its existence without any subjectivity at all. This is old science ...

    The Cosmic Calendar

     
  19. Soupie

    Soupie Paranormal Adept

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    Heh.
     
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  20. smcder

    smcder Paranormal Adept

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