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34058RE: [existlist] The will to be rational?

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  • George Walton
    May 1, 2005
      No one knows what consciousness "actually is".

      Unless, of course, you would like to give us all a break and tell us.

      alan <equityplus@...> wrote:

      OH man, gimme me a break, Schopenhauer says nothing about what consciousness
      actually is. all these descriptions are shapeless.




      -----Original Message-----
      From: existlist@yahoogroups.com [mailto:existlist@yahoogroups.com]On Behalf
      Of George Walton
      Sent: Saturday, 30 April 2005 1:49 PM
      To: existlist@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: Re: [existlist] The will to be rational?


      From Will Durant's The Story of Philosophy:

      "Almost without exception, philosophers have placed the essense of mind in
      thought and consciousness; man was the knowing animal, the rational animal.
      'This ancient and universal radical error [says Schopenhauer] must before
      everything be set aside.' 'Consciousness [Schopenhauer continues] is the
      mere surface of our minds, of which, as of the earth, we do not know the
      inside but only the crust'. Under the conscious intellect is the conscious
      or unconscious will, a striving and persistent vital force, a spontaneous
      activity, a will of imperious desire. The intellect may seem at times to
      lead the will, but only as a guide leads his master; the will 'is the strong
      blind man who carries on his shoulders the lame man who can see.' We do not
      want a thing because we have found reasons for it, we find reasons for it
      because we want it; we even elaborate philosophies and theologies to cloak
      our desires. Hence Schopenhauer calls man the 'metaphysical animal': other
      animals desire without< BR> metaphysics. 'Nothing is more provoking, when we
      are arguing against a man with reasons and explanations, and taking all
      pains to convince him, than to discover at last that he will not
      understand...' Hence the uselessness of logic; and even logicians use logic
      only as a source of income."

      And:

      "Consider the agitated strife of men for food, mates, or children; can this
      be the work of reflection? Certainly not; the cause is the half-conscious
      will to live, and to live fully. 'Men are only apparently drawn from the
      front; in reality they are pushed from behind"; they think they are led by
      what they see, when in truth they are driven by what they feel---by
      instincts of whose operation they are half the time unconscious. Intellect
      is merely the minister of foreign affairs; 'nature has produced it for the
      service of the individual will. Therefore it is only designed to know things
      so far as they afford motives for the will, but not to fathom them or to
      comprehend their true being.'"



      The will to be rational?

      The will, however, like human consciousness itself, is not something the
      surgeon can poke around inside the brain and actually locate. She can't
      point to a spot and say, "this particular mass of cells here is the human
      will." Or, further: "you will notice how its shape, size and color is
      clearly distinguishable from the shape, size and color of the consciousness
      in which it is embedded; which is clearly distinguishable, in turn, from the
      rest of the brain".

      Thus there is no way, of course, that Schopenhauer's argument can be
      confirmed empirically or "scientifically". We can't know for certain if what
      he suggested is, in fact, true. We can only extrapolate from our sensations,
      perceptions and what our thinking minds collate into conceptions and then
      offer what some will or will not construe to be a reasonable argument.

      Does it seem reasonable to you? It certainly seems reasonable to me.
      Consider, for example, that life on earth has been evolving for literally
      millions and millions of years. And for the overwhelming preponderance of
      life-forms, metaphysics hardly ever came up at all. The human species, on
      the other hand, has evolved a brain that allows it ponder the world
      "philosophically". It is a brain that allows us to mold and manipulate the
      environment....to mold and manipulate emotional and psychological and
      "instinctive" states; to do this in a way that is literally unthinkable for
      monkeys and whales and lions and dogs and cats and muskrats and squirrels.
      But that is only a very, very recent phenomenon in the overall evolutionary
      scheme of things. We still share in common with all other mammals a
      reptilian brain that acts more as the engine rather than the caboose of the
      motivational train.

      Or just look at human history [even recent history] and ask yourself: is
      this a species propelled by Broca's brain in conducting social, political
      and economic relationship? or by more deepseated, primordial parts instead?

      Obviously a fluid [and combustible] combination of both. And it varies
      considerably from culture to culture and communtity to community and person
      to person. But how far do you suppose any of us can really go with our
      logical assessments before we bump into the parts that have less discerning
      or discriminating or sober and sound agendas?



      George



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