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51377Re: [existlist] Re: Apotheosis of Thought

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  • Herman
    Mar 31, 2010
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      Hi Jim

      On 31 March 2010 23:48, Jim <jjimstuart1@...> wrote:
      > Hi Polly,
      > Your post raises a number of questions in my mind. – Yes, these questions just "popped up" whilst I was reading your post and then reflecting on what you wrote.
      > Is the phenomenology of thoughts just popping up in my mind the same as the phenomenology of decisions? You say it is, but I'm not so sure.  Whilst I agree that I do become aware of thoughts just popping up – "Oh no, I have forgotten my brother-in-law's birthday" – I am reluctant to say my decision to visit my mother at the weekend "just popped up". I made the decision. The decision didn't just suddenly appear as already made.
      > Now perhaps I can practice stepping back – disengaging – from my own ordinary decision making and active involvement with the people and events around me. With practice I can take a second-order observational position with regard to my first-order mental activity. Such stepping back, such disengagement, is even encouraged as part of meditation courses I have attended in the past. But this eastern spiritual practice alters the phenomenology in my view. Further it can be a way of abdicating responsibility for my actions, a way of changing from actively participating in my own life, to becoming a passive observer of my own life.
      > I concede that if I do make this change of perspective, I can, with practice, attain an altered state of consciousness in which decisions do just pop up like thoughts do in the ordinary state of consciousness.
      > I think at base, each of us has to make an existential choice at this point. I can choose to be an active participant in my own life and stick with the first-order phenomenology in which I make decisions, I make promises, I make resolute commitments to living a certain way,

      This is where I see thought incarnate being rent asunder into subject
      and object, self and not-self, creator and created. Here you become
      other than your thoughts, you are external to them, you witness their
      arising, you become the independent arbiter of them and select the
      wheat from the chaff, the good from the bad. In order to become this
      existential man, you have to become God, apart from yourself.

      > or I can choose to be a passive observer of my own life and my own mental processes. I can disengage from myself, and yes, the Self as agent may well disappear in this flight to second-order observation of first-order mental events.

      Now I hope you understand why I am not sure on your position. You say
      initially that you identify fully as your body and its thoughts, but
      now also that you are external to your body and its thoughts, you are
      able to transcend the conditionality of this body and select, using
      unspecified means that are independent of conditionality, a course of
      action for this body to take. So when you say "I choose", I no longer
      know what you mean, whether you mean that this body has chosen and you
      are aware of that, or whether you are an existential self external to
      the processes of this body, that is doing the choosing for it.

      > Because the decision to disengage from one's ordinary active first-person perspective actually changes the phenomenology, I think it is correct to say that there is no fact of the matter here. Rather it is a matter of making an existential commitment – either to view myself as an active participant in life, responsible for my own decisions and actions, or to view myself as just a bundle of mental events which just pop-up, and for which I am not responsible, because these mental events are not subject to control by a subject.

      Because there are two "I"'s being freely intermixed as though they are
      identical, ie the body and its thoughts, and the subject that
      acts/thinks independently of the body, I cannot comment in a
      constructive way.


      > Jim
      > ------------------------------------
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