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Philosophy, Science, and the Unexplained


USI Calgary

J. Randall Murphy
Staff member
Not everything can be expressed or understood in the language you happen to be familiar with and comfortable in, Marduk. No wonder your thinking is so rigid.
That doesn't addresses Marduk's point and it's personally judgmental. Those are the sorts of comments that don't do anything to advance the discussion in a positive way. We were talking about schools of philosophical thought and the idea that consciousness is something fundamental. A more positive approach would be to focus on a specific issue relevant to those things and explore whether or not they might have some relevance to unexplained phenomena. Or maybe you'd like to introduce something else on a tangent. But either way, please, let's stick to the issues and only deal with personalities if it is something specific and relevant to improving communication.

Let me offer an example:


There appears to be some confusion surrounding your use of the word "thetic". At the moment I'm interpreting what you mean by it as the element of the formative content of a perceptual experience that is distinguished from the intentional or conceptual content. For example if we see a basketball, the conceptual component is that we see it as piece of sports equipment associated with a particular game, but before that, we experience its perceptual character, like it's roundness, color, texture, and size. These things are said to be the thetic content of the experience.

Are we both on the same wavelength there? If not. Is there some way that you can clarify in your own words by showing how your interpretation differs using the same point of reference. In other words, when we look at a basketball, in your view, what part of the perceptual experience is thetic? Or is that approach in a completely different context to what you're working with? After that, maybe add a reference to clarify e.g. Edmund Husserl (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

Approaching the subject in this manner will work much better than being personally critical of participants.
 
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marduk

quelling chaos since 2352BC
Not everything can be expressed or understood in the language you happen to be familiar with and comfortable in, Marduk. No wonder your thinking is so rigid.
Words have meanings. I'm sure you can tell me exactly what you're trying to say in the same language that many other luminaries of the 20th century used to convey their ideas.
 

marduk

quelling chaos since 2352BC
If we must perpetuate the computational notion of the mind/brain, we might imagine an AI that is capable of experiencing the world we live in (and in which it operates) as also able to enter into the ruminative, unfocused, open-ended prereflective states that we fall into frequently every day, in which our subconscious minds and their memories participate in and inform an open-ended day-dream that encompasses our lived past and present, and our futural ideations -- all funded in our case by the inescapability of our experienced being-in-the-world, presence to the world, that is like a vessel waiting to be filled with the real along with that which can be imagined out of it.
Maybe an AI would do that, or maybe it would function in completely different ways. I'm not sure what the point is?
 

marduk

quelling chaos since 2352BC
It's also possible for everyone to agree on something and be perfectly happy about being in agreement, but not actually be in agreement at all because they're thinking in a different contexts. Your initial statement above is one example of how we might interpret something two different ways. These unexpected sorts of ambiguities aren't always easy to spot.
I agree with this, which is why I think precision in language is so important. And why I think that if your explanation of what your idea is takes the creation of new words, or the change in meanings of words to describe, it's a pretty big red flag to me.

As is demanding reading other people's work to 'understand' what it is that you're trying to say. Which is also shifting the burden of the argument from the person making the argument to the person being argued at. Here, read this stuff endlessly, and if you still don't agree with me, go read more.

My core problem with the position I think Constance is taking however is that it's making a syntactic argument in a non-syntactic problem space. Meaning it's attempting to resolve a problem by moving words and concepts of words around in a convenient manner to come up with a conclusion. Nothing in which she is describing is testable or verifiable in any manner I understand, and quite frequently whole paragraphs do not make sense from either a grammatical or thematic narrative. Where there are gaps in logic, these gaps frequently get bridged with endless reference to other material, which quite often does not answer the gap at hand, or even make sense as a stand alone argument. Which in turn necessitates endless other references in a recursive model that endlessly pushes the problem 'down the stack' as it were, but never resolves it.

We were on a good run with her 3 step argument above. The first two made sense to me. I have no idea what the third argument is though.

But I am still attempting to listen.
 

USI Calgary

J. Randall Murphy
Staff member
Meaning it's attempting to resolve a problem by moving words and concepts of words around in a convenient manner to come up with a conclusion ... Which in turn necessitates endless other references in a recursive model that endlessly pushes the problem 'down the stack' as it were, but never resolves it ...
Yup. That's why I rarely participate often in the Consciousness thread. It's as if the point of the discussion has become all about the myriad trivia associated philosopher's names and what they have to say rather than the issue itself. That's not to say other people's ideas aren't valuable, but the point of knowing about them isn't simply for knowing about them's sake. Mentioning them should have some relevance to advancing our understanding of the subject at hand. Otherwise it's like saying you understand Lego without ever building anything from them yourself. It's not just about identifying blocks and following the instructions on the box. It's about seeing how they fit together to create something new.
 
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Constance

Paranormal Adept
My core problem with the position I think Constance is taking however is that it's making a syntactic argument in a non-syntactic problem space. Meaning it's attempting to resolve a problem by moving words and concepts of words around in a convenient manner to come up with a conclusion.
I'm still trying to understand what you mean by both of the terms you use: 'a syntactic argument' and 'a non-syntactic problem space'. Since 'argument', in philosophy and in any other research discipline, can take place/be formalized only in written texts, arguments always involve syntax and also, obviously, semantics. If philosophical and other disciplinary arguments require expression in language, how can they address 'a non-syntactic problem space'? What, precisely, is the 'non-syntactic problem space' you are referring to in what I have written in this thread? If you can clarify this for me, we might be able to make progress in the discussion of consciousness as both prereflective [pre-thetic] and reflective {the thetic evolving out of, developing from the pre-thetic ground of experience}.

Nothing in which she is describing is testable or verifiable in any manner I understand.
Correct. I think your lack of understanding of what you refer to as "the position I think Constance is taking" {which is, rather, the position and approach I am following and attempting to describe, which has been developed and deepened over more than a century of phenomenological philosophy} is the result of your total unfamiliarity with phenomenology, which, indeed, most people have not read. Both you and Randall ask me to encapsulate this century of philosophical development in a few sentences. Unfortunately that can't be done, which is why I've referred both of you to the texts written by the major phenomenological philosophers. And neither of you is willing to engage the texts in which the complexities of phenomenology are taken up and clarified. So it seems obvious that there's no point in my even mentioning phenomenology in this company.

To help you out a bit concerning the terms 'thetic' and 'pre-thetic' employed in phenomenology, here are a few clues:


"thetics
the setting forth of propositions or principles. — thetic, thetical, adj"
thetics


"Thetics: (from Gr. Thetikos) According to Kant the sum total of all affirmations." -- K.F.L.
Dictionary of Philosophy


The point I have been attempting to make in using those terms is that, long before our species began to posit propositions/hypotheses concerning the nature of 'what-is', they [like the children we bear], accrued experience in and of nature and intuited its structure, sensing the nature of the world's being and their own being as interdependent. Pre-thetic experience producing the sense of 'being-in-the-world' is the ground out of which reflective consciousness and thought develop. This is not simply an epistemological claim; its significance constitutes an existential ontology.

If either of you is seriously interested in understanding phenomenology you will take the logical next step and explore its expression and development in at least some of the major texts.

I have to come back to @marduk's last sentence in the first quoted segment of his post: ". . . Meaning it's attempting to resolve a problem by moving words and concepts of words around in a convenient manner to come up with a conclusion." It would be interesting for me to find out what particular words and concepts you have in mind here. I hope you'll try to be specific. I ask this not in the interest of continuing this discussion but in the interest of understanding your thinking.
 
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marduk

quelling chaos since 2352BC
I'm still trying to understand what you mean by both of the terms you use: 'a syntactic argument' and 'a non-syntactic problem space'. Since 'argument', in philosophy and in any other research discipline, can take place/be formalized only in written texts, arguments always involve syntax and also, obviously, semantics. If philosophical and other disciplinary arguments require expression in language, how can they address 'a non-syntactic problem space'? What, precisely, is the 'non-syntactic problem space' you are referring to in what I have written in this thread? If you can clarify this for me, we might be able to make progress in the discussion of consciousness as both prereflective [pre-thetic] and reflective {the thetic evolving out of, developing from the pre-thetic ground of experience}.

Fair enough. I think you're trying to solve this problem by playing with words and other people's papers, instead of trying to solve the problem itself. Basically, the ambiguity fallacy:
Using double meanings or ambiguities of language to mislead or misrepresent the truth.

Example: When the judge asked the defendant why he hadn't paid his parking fines, he said that he shouldn't have to pay them because the sign said 'Fine for parking here' and so he naturally presumed that it would be fine to park there.

You're also recursively demanding that I (or others) continually read articles ad nauseam in order to understand what you're trying to say. But these articles shift the burden from the one making the argument (you) to me. That's fallacy #2. They often do not actually address the gap in understanding, so in order to address that, you frequently ask that others read more, which is moving the goalposts (fallacy #3).

Ultimately, your references to other articles are appeals to authority (heidegger seems to be a favourite of yours - fallacy #4), and don't actually ever answer anything anyway. It's a recursive argument, with the answer continually pushed just out of reach.


Correct. I think your lack of understanding of what you refer to as "the position I think Constance is taking" {which is, rather, the position and approach I am following and attempting to describe, which has been developed and deepened over more than a century of phenomenological philosophy} is the result of your total unfamiliarity with phenomenology, which, indeed, most people have not read. Both you and Randall ask me to encapsulate this century of philosophical development in a few sentences. Unfortunately that can't be done, which is why I've referred both of you to the texts written by the major phenomenological philosophers. And neither of you is willing to engage the texts in which the complexities of phenomenology are taken up and clarified. So it seems obvious that there's no point in my even mentioning phenomenology in this company.

To help you out a bit concerning the terms 'thetic' and 'pre-thetic' employed in phenomenology, here are a few clues:


"thetics
the setting forth of propositions or principles. — thetic, thetical, adj"
thetics


"Thetics: (from Gr. Thetikos) According to Kant the sum total of all affirmations." -- K.F.L.
Dictionary of Philosophy
K.


The point I have been attempting to make in using those terms is that, long before our species began to posit propositions/hypotheses concerning the nature of 'what-is', they [like the children we bear], accrued experience in and of nature and intuited its structure, sensing the nature of the world's being and their own being as interdependent. Pre-thetic experience producing the sense of 'being-in-the-world' is the ground out of which reflective consciousness and thought develop. This is not simply an epistemological claim; its significance constitutes an existential ontology.
OK. So what I think you are saying is: we developed as a species accruing experiences with nature, figured out ways to organize those into patterns, and our relationship to it. We did that before we became conscious, after that we became conscious.

Is that what you're saying?

If either of you is seriously interested in understanding phenomenology you will take the logical next step and explore its expression and development in at least some of the major texts.

I have to come back to @marduk's last sentence in the first quoted segment of his post: ". . . Meaning it's attempting to resolve a problem by moving words and concepts of words around in a convenient manner to come up with a conclusion." It would be interesting for me to find out what particular words and concepts you have in mind here. I hope you'll try to be specific. I ask this not in the interest of continuing this discussion but in the interest of understanding your thinking.
I hope I was specific enough above. Pushing words and ideas around does not solve a problem. It's just pushing words and ideas around.

Come to a conclusion, and then test your conclusion.
 
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USI Calgary

J. Randall Murphy
Staff member
The point I have been attempting to make in using those terms is that, long before our species began to posit propositions/hypotheses concerning the nature of 'what-is', they [like the children we bear], accrued experience in and of nature and intuited its structure, sensing the nature of the world's being and their own being as interdependent. Pre-thetic experience producing the sense of 'being-in-the-world' is the ground out of which reflective consciousness and thought develop. This is not simply an epistemological claim; its significance constitutes an existential ontology.
Okay that's fine. Did you just want to throw that in as a statement of fact, or does it have some particular relevance for you to some particular point of the discussion, like say the fundamentalness of consciousness?
 

Constance

Paranormal Adept
Yup. That's why I rarely participate often in the Consciousness thread. It's as if the point of the discussion has become all about the myriad trivia associated philosopher's names and what they have to say rather than the issue itself. That's not to say other people's ideas aren't valuable, but the point of knowing about them isn't simply for knowing about them's sake. Mentioning them should have some relevance to advancing our understanding of the subject at hand. Otherwise it's like saying you understand Lego without ever building anything from them yourself. It's not just about identifying blocks and following the instructions on the box. It's about seeing how they fit together to create something new.
What do you take to be "the issue itself," Randall?

The 'issue' of the nature of consciousness -- of 'what consciousness is -- is not a single issue but an inquiry open to -- and in our time requiring investigation of -- multiple avenues of research and thinking leading to various hypotheses all groping toward a sufficient answer. The consciousness thread in the Paracast forums began with the unresolved question 'what is consciousness?' and proceeded through citations to and discussions of the multiple avenues of research taken up in the field of Consciousness Studies founded three decades ago. CS has developed as a complex interdisciplinary field involving analytical and phenomenological philosophy of mind, psychology and parapsychology, perception including paranormal perception, cognitive neuroscience and affective neuroscience, neurophenomenology, archaeology, communication and language, semiotics, and human expression in all its historical/cultural manifestations in known human history and prehistory. Each of these disciplines has brought its own subject matter and current perspectives to the numerous issues raised in the core question 'what is consciousness'. As interdisciplinary in scope, CS requires a complex effort by all participants to comprehend how all relevant research can be integrated to achieve a coherent and complete understanding of consciousness and what it reveals about the nature and structure of 'reality', epistemologically and ontologically.

If you'd followed the thread's multiple citations to research and our discussions of them over the last two years, you would not be asking for (actually demanding) that the phenomenology of consciousness be summarized in a sentence or two.
 

marduk

quelling chaos since 2352BC
What do you take to be "the issue itself," Randall?

The 'issue' of the nature of consciousness -- of 'what consciousness is -- is not a single issue but an inquiry open to -- and in our time requiring investigation of -- multiple avenues of research and thinking leading to various hypotheses all groping toward a sufficient answer. The consciousness thread in the Paracast forums began with the unresolved question 'what is consciousness?' and proceeded through citations to and discussions of the multiple avenues of research taken up in the field of Consciousness Studies founded three decades ago. CS has developed as a complex interdisciplinary field involving analytical and phenomenological philosophy of mind, psychology and parapsychology, perception including paranormal perception, cognitive neuroscience and affective neuroscience, neurophenomenology, archaeology, communication and language, semiotics, and human expression in all its historical/cultural manifestations in known human history and prehistory. Each of these disciplines has brought its own subject matter and current perspectives to the numerous issues raised in the core question 'what is consciousness'. As interdisciplinary in scope, CS requires a complex effort by all participants to comprehend how all relevant research can be integrated to achieve a coherent and complete understanding of consciousness and what it reveals about the nature and structure of 'reality', epistemologically and ontologically.

If you'd followed the thread's multiple citations to research and our discussions of them over the last two years, you would not be asking for (actually demanding) that the phenomenology of consciousness be summarized in a sentence or two.
Ok how would you suggest we progress?
 

Constance

Paranormal Adept
Okay that's fine. Did you just want to throw that in as a statement of fact, or does it have some particular relevance for you to some particular point of the discussion, like say the fundamentalness of consciousness?
I wrote as directly and briefly as I could a response to your and Marduk's problem in seeing the difference between prereflective {pre-thetic} consciousness and reflective {thetic} consciousness as distinguished in phenomenological philosophy. Its revelance concerns the embodied nature of consciousness as evolving from and grounded in lived experience in and of the environing world, from animals to man, involving stages of evolution and development of capacities for affectivity, awareness, protoconsciousness, and consciousness -- before our species' development of reflective consciousness, language, and categorical thinking enabled all of the philosophical, scientific, psychological, and sociological disciplines of research that now participate together in an interdisciplinary effort to understand what consciousness is.
 

USI Calgary

J. Randall Murphy
Staff member
What do you take to be "the issue itself," Randall?
By "the issue itself" I mean the core subject matter of the material being referenced as opposed to the collection of reference material itself. In other words when discussing a subject it's not sufficient for my sense of satisfaction to simply be content quoting what so-and-so has to say in response to a specific point raised, especially when what so-and-so has to say does not directly address the specific point of the discussion. That sort of response is a classic deflection away from focusing on a specific point or viewpoint about a point. I'm not suggesting that you are doing that on purpose, but the end result is still the same. Reams of third party data that is only partially relevant to the specific point being made is not an effective way to communicate what you ( Constance ) thinks.
The 'issue' of the nature of consciousness -- of 'what consciousness is -- is not a single issue but an inquiry open to -- and in our time requiring investigation of -- multiple avenues of research and thinking leading to various hypotheses all groping toward a sufficient answer. The consciousness thread in the Paracast forums began with the unresolved question 'what is consciousness?' and proceeded through citations to and discussions of the multiple avenues of research taken up in the field of Consciousness Studies founded three decades ago. CS has developed as a complex interdisciplinary field involving analytical and phenomenological philosophy of mind, psychology and parapsychology, perception including paranormal perception, cognitive neuroscience and affective neuroscience, neurophenomenology, archaeology, communication and language, semiotics, and human expression in all its historical/cultural manifestations in known human history and prehistory. Each of these disciplines has brought its own subject matter and current perspectives to the numerous issues raised in the core question 'what is consciousness'. As interdisciplinary in scope, CS requires a complex effort by all participants to comprehend how all relevant research can be integrated to achieve a coherent and complete understanding of consciousness and what it reveals about the nature and structure of 'reality', epistemologically and ontologically.
Okay. Been there. Got that.
If you'd followed the thread's multiple citations to research and our discussions of them over the last two years, you would not be asking for (actually demanding) that the phenomenology of consciousness be summarized in a sentence or two.
You were doing really well up until that last bit above. I've not made any demand that phenomenology of consciousness be summarized in a sentence or two. In fact I've pointed out more than once that anyone who makes such attempt, or is of the view that someone else's view is wrong, means it's more likely that they don't really get the idea of the phenomenology in the first place. At best we can only deal with broad generalizations that are true e.g. phenomenology is a branch of philosophy that deals with the experience of consciousness.

That allows us to place phenomenology on the philosophical map. When we do that it's rather plain that it must be a subset of the philosophy that deals with the larger issues, e.g. Metaphysics. That's because existence is independent of, makes possible, and is a prerequisite of consciousness ( at least human consciousness ). I'm not sure about other theistic notions. Such things are perhaps beyond anyone's ability to grasp.
 

Constance

Paranormal Adept
Ok how would you suggest we progress?
We? Here, in this thread? How can 'we' pursue the field of consciousness studies without reading and discussing the contributions of all of the disciplines involved in investigating the nature of consciousness? Randall has already shown himself to be unwilling to pursue that effort, and I doubt that you are. Besides, we already have a thread for that, ongoing for about two years now. Anyone interested in pursuing the study of consciousness can begin there. Or somewhere else where the complexity of this inquiry is carried forward.
 

Constance

Paranormal Adept
By "the issue itself" I mean the core subject matter of the material being referenced as opposed to the collection of reference material itself.
Sigh. The 'subject matter' of interdisciplinary consciousness studies has been developed by the authors of almost countless books and papers educated in the contributing disciplines involved in the field. Their many and various contributions need to be read and understood before they can be compared, discussed, and perhaps integrated. To engage with that field of discourse requires that one become schooled in its multiple resources. Ya really gotta love it to put forth the effort. It it bores you, let it go and engage with other subjects.
 

USI Calgary

J. Randall Murphy
Staff member
I wrote as directly and briefly as I could a response to your and Marduk's problem in seeing the difference between prereflective {pre-thetic} consciousness and reflective {thetic} consciousness as distinguished in phenomenological philosophy. Its revelance concerns the embodied nature of consciousness as evolving from and grounded in lived experience in and of the environing world, from animals to man, involving stages of evolution and development of capacities for affectivity, awareness, protoconsciousness, and consciousness -- before our species' development of reflective consciousness, language, and categorical thinking enabled all of the philosophical, scientific, psychological, and sociological disciplines of research that now participate together in an interdisciplinary effort to understand what consciousness is.
Okay, so now that we seem to have an idea of your particular interpretation of the word "thetic" as it applies to the development of consciousness, I can see how that might be relevant to the idea of both fundamentalness and the idea that for consciousness to be appreciable enough to form meaning, the physical construction of the organisms that possess it must be sufficiently evolved. Does that sound about right to you?
 
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USI Calgary

J. Randall Murphy
Staff member
Sigh. The 'subject matter' of interdisciplinary consciousness studies has been developed by the authors of almost countless books and papers educated in the contributing disciplines involved in the field. Their many and various contributions need to be read and understood before they can be compared, discussed, and perhaps integrated. To engage with that field of discourse requires that one become schooled in its multiple resources. Ya really gotta love it to put forth the effort. It it bores you, let it go and engage with other subjects.
Yes. I see your point. But it seems you're still missing mine. The point for me isn't to become schooled in what everyone else has to say. It's to understand the subject matter. Those are two distinctly different concepts. Quoting so-and-so does nothing to show one has a grasp of what so-and-so's concepts or ideas mean. I suggest you would get your ideas across better by expressing them succinctly in your own words, and then if necessary, provide a reference to resource material that helps to substantiate your position. I think you may find that you can love it just as much that way ( maybe even more ), because it will help you to relate to other people what it means to you.
We? Here, in this thread? How can 'we' pursue the field of consciousness studies without reading and discussing the contributions of all of the disciplines involved in investigating the nature of consciousness? Randall has already shown himself to be unwilling to pursue that effort, and I doubt that you are.
The dozens of posts and contributions I've made to the consciousness thread, on top of all those here and on other threads, clearly refute your assumption. I'm probably one of the few who have made a consistent effort to review the information and acquire a good grasp of what it means. I can even state it back in my own words and relate it to other ideas, which is a sign that I do indeed get it. On the other hand I see you do that very seldom, and when asked something that requires you to do that, you simply post more information from other people, ignore the question, or deflect. That is a sign of someone who might be good at information gathering, but really doesn't get the information themselves. If that is untrue of you, I suspect you would rather not be perceived that way, and therefore suggest that you try the method of interacting mentioned above.
 
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Constance

Paranormal Adept
. . . That allows us to place phenomenology on the philosophical map. When we do that it's rather plain that it must be a subset of the philosophy that deals with the larger issues, e.g. Metaphysics.
Phenomenological philosophy has been an entirely new school of philosophy begun late in the 19th century in Germany and developed in Europe, particularly in France, the U.S., Asia and Latin America, and elsewhere on the planet. It is not a 'subset' of Metaphysics, although, like all ontological thinking, it involves metaphysics.
 

USI Calgary

J. Randall Murphy
Staff member
Phenomenological philosophy has been an entirely new school of philosophy begun late in the 19th century in Germany and developed in Europe, particularly in France, the U.S., Asia and Latin America, and elsewhere on the planet. It is not a 'subset' of Metaphysics, although, like all ontological thinking, it involves metaphysics.
To restate in another manner that might help add further context: It's plain to see that something that deals with a subset of existence is therefore a subset of whatever one's metaphysical perspective might be. In other words, consciousness as we know it cannot have taken place before existence itself. This is evidenced by the fact that the universe was here long before we were, and there's no evidence to suggest that before this universe came into existence, that there was any other consciousness either. There is however, plenty of evidence to show that after existence came into being, consciousness evolved. Therefore Metaphysics logically deals with the bigger picture, of which consciousness is only a part. I hope that clarifies.
 

Constance

Paranormal Adept
Yes. I see your point. But it seems you're still missing mine. The point for me isn't to become schooled in what everyone else has to say. It's to understand the subject matter. Those are two distinctly different concepts. Quoting so-and-so does nothing to show one has a grasp of what so-and-so's concepts or ideas mean. I suggest you would get your ideas across better by expressing them succinctly in your own words, and then if necessary, provide a reference to resource material that helps to substantiate your position.


I've done that repeatedly in the consciousness thread. You likely haven't been present there on most of those occasions. Re becoming 'schooled in what everyone else has to say', it's hardly everyone; it's four or five major thinkers. Even an autodidact, such as you seem to be, has to read the texts that develop a field you wish to understand.

The dozens of posts and contributions I've made to the consciousness thread, on top of all those here and on other threads, clearly refute your assumption. I'm probably one of the few who have made a consistent effort to review the information and acquire a good grasp of what it means. I can even state it back in my own words and relate it to other ideas, which is a sign that I do indeed get it. On the other hand I see you do that very seldom, and when asked something that requires you to do that, you simply post more information from other people, ignore the question, or deflect. That is a sign of someone who might be good at information gathering, but really doesn't get the information themselves. I suspect you would rather not be perceived that way if it is untrue, and therefore suggest that you try the method of interacting mentioned above.
I know you've attempted to grok phenomenology, but your comprehension of it is, I think, still insufficient for you to be capable of understanding its implications concerning the nature of what we call 'reality' as a codependent arising of embodied consciousness and the natural world. Anyway, I'm getting tired of your preaching at me. Think I'll abandon this ship. Be well.
 

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