Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

The Self as a point of view

Expand Messages
  • Jim
    Hi Polly, In your conversation with Hb3g, you write to him: Your self is just an incorrect apprehension of the world. Like I said, I am not an apologist for
    Message 1 of 13 , Jan 28, 2010
    • 0 Attachment
      Hi Polly,

      In your conversation with Hb3g, you write to him:

      "Your self is just an incorrect apprehension of the world. Like I said, I am not an apologist for
      Buddhism. Hume also denies the self, from his experience. … Sartre also, in his musings on pure reflection, also acknowledges there is nothing there of self. I doubt very much whether Hume or Sartre had anything to do with Buddhism. And Buddhism doesn't own the
      copyright on the phenomenological method."

      You also quote a famous passage from Hume:

      ""There are some philosophers (e.g. Berkeley) who imagine we are every moment intimately conscious of what we call our self; that we feel its existence and its continuance in existence, and are certain of its identity and simplicity. For my part, when I enter most intimately into what I call my self, I always stumble on some particular perception or other, of heat or cold, light or shade, love or hatred, pain or pleasure, color or sound, etc. I never catch my self, distinct from some such perception."

      In this quote, I think you have added the bit "(e.g. Berkeley)". I can't recall the parentheses when I last read the passage. Please correct me if I am wrong.

      I always thought he was chiefly targeting Descartes – and attacking Cartesian Dualism.

      I think everybody here at Existlist agrees that Cartesian Dualism is false. The self is not an immaterial thing. Most here would also not want to equate the self with (just) the human body.

      My own view is that the self is (at least) a moving, embodied, point of view. There is consciousness here now at my computer, that consciousness will move to my bedroom before too long, and tomorrow the consciousness will move on a bus and a train to an office in a town called Derby, about fifteen miles from my present location.

      This point of view seems to be intimately connected with a particular physical body which it never seems to leave. Further damage to this physical body tends to be associated with painful experiences.

      Now a point of view is not a thing, but, I would suggest, it is not a nothing either.

      You may wish to argue that in meditation, the point of view, or perspective, is erased. I don't want to rule that possibility out completely, but it is not a possibility that I have experienced.

      Jim
    • Mary
      Jim, I think you express a dualism: a mind-consciousness-point of view is contained in a particular body. Our perspective may not be as exclusive to our person
      Message 2 of 13 , Jan 29, 2010
      • 0 Attachment
        Jim, I think you express a dualism: a mind-consciousness-point of view is contained in a particular body. Our perspective may not be as exclusive to our person as we assume. If that is true, what of the existentialist concept of choice? Furthermore, you can't say with certainty that your point-of-view, or anything you experience, never seems to leave your body. You can only say it seems so to you. Mary

        --- In existlist@yahoogroups.com, "Jim" <jjimstuart1@...> wrote:

        I think everybody here at Existlist agrees that Cartesian Dualism is false. The
        self is not an immaterial thing. Most here would also not want to equate the
        self with (just) the human body.

        My own view is that the self is (at least) a moving, embodied, point of view.
        There is consciousness here now at my computer, that consciousness will move to
        my bedroom before too long, and tomorrow the consciousness will move on a bus
        and a train to an office in a town called Derby, about fifteen miles from my
        present location.

        This point of view seems to be intimately connected with a particular physical
        body which it never seems to leave. Further damage to this physical body tends
        to be associated with painful experiences.

        Now a point of view is not a thing, but, I would suggest, it is not a nothing
        either.

        You may wish to argue that in meditation, the point of view, or perspective, is
        erased. I don't want to rule that possibility out completely, but it is not a
        possibility that I have experienced.
      • Jim
        Mary, You make good points. Perhaps my view has dualistic elements, but I certainly do not agree with Descartes – I don t belief in immaterial souls or
        Message 3 of 13 , Jan 29, 2010
        • 0 Attachment
          Mary,

          You make good points.

          Perhaps my view has dualistic elements, but I certainly do not agree with Descartes – I don't belief in immaterial souls or immaterial substances of any kind.

          I am a thorough-going materialist – I believe that I have my conscious point-of-view because I have a physical brain which processes incoming light rays and sound ways (vibrations of the air molecules), etc.

          It is because I am a materialist that I don't believe in "out-of-the-body" experiences. Such experiences would have to rely on an immaterial soul moving away from the brain, and I just can't see how that could happen.

          But perhaps I should not be dogmatic, and just say that my conscious point-of-view never seems to leave my body.

          I can agree with you that to some extent our perspectives overlap. If I and my friend sit next to each other at a football match, then for 90 minutes our perspectives are very similar (assuming we both watch the game and support the same team!).

          I don't know what the connection of all this is with choice. I certainly want to hold on to the existentialist idea that I am able to make genuine choices, and that I am fully responsible for those choices and my resulting actions.

          Thanks again for your stimulating comments.

          Jim



          --- In existlist@yahoogroups.com, "Mary" <josephson45r@...> wrote:
          >
          > Jim, I think you express a dualism: a mind-consciousness-point of view is contained in a particular body. Our perspective may not be as exclusive to our person as we assume. If that is true, what of the existentialist concept of choice? Furthermore, you can't say with certainty that your point-of-view, or anything you experience, never seems to leave your body. You can only say it seems so to you. Mary
          >
        • Mary
          Jim, I m a materialist also, but I consider quantum level entanglement as part of our yet to be fully explained experiences. I don t know that I would label
          Message 4 of 13 , Jan 29, 2010
          • 0 Attachment
            Jim, I'm a materialist also, but I consider quantum level entanglement as part of our yet to be fully explained experiences. I don't know that I would label such as soul or spirit. At this point, anyway, I think Polly is discussing observable, dependent interactions of people. Mary

            --- In existlist@yahoogroups.com, "Jim" <jjimstuart1@...> wrote:

            > I am a thorough-going materialist – I believe that I have my conscious point-of-view because I have a physical brain which processes incoming light rays and sound ways (vibrations of the air molecules), etc.
            >
            > It is because I am a materialist that I don't believe in "out-of-the-body" experiences. Such experiences would have to rely on an immaterial soul moving away from the brain, and I just can't see how that could happen.
          • Herman
            Hi Jim, ... I quoted the passage verbatim, from here: http://webspace.ship.edu/cgboer/humekant.html Polly
            Message 5 of 13 , Jan 29, 2010
            • 0 Attachment
              Hi Jim,

              2010/1/29 Jim <jjimstuart1@...>:
              > Hi Polly,
              >
              >
              > You also quote a famous passage from Hume:
              >
              > ""There are some philosophers (e.g. Berkeley) who imagine we are every moment intimately conscious of what we call our self; that we feel its existence and its continuance in existence, and are certain of its identity and simplicity. For my part, when I enter most intimately into what I call my self, I always stumble on some particular perception or other, of heat or cold, light or shade, love or hatred, pain or pleasure, color or sound, etc. I never catch my self, distinct from some such perception."
              >
              > In this quote, I think you have added the bit "(e.g. Berkeley)". I can't recall the parentheses when I last read the passage. Please correct me if I am wrong.

              I quoted the passage verbatim, from here:

              http://webspace.ship.edu/cgboer/humekant.html

              Polly
            • Jim
              Hi Polly, I have located the quote, or, rather quotes, you got off the internet. As I suspected Hume made no reference to Berkeley, and in fact there is a
              Message 6 of 13 , Jan 29, 2010
              • 0 Attachment
                Hi Polly,

                I have located the quote, or, rather quotes, you got off the internet.

                As I suspected Hume made no reference to Berkeley, and in fact there is a large chunk between the first section you quoted and the last section, as well as a number of paraphrases and other additions.

                The quotes are from "A Treatise of Human Nature", Book 1, Part 4, Section 6 ("Of Personal Identity". (On pages 251 and 252 of the Selby-Bigge & Nidditch Second Edition)

                Here is what Hume actually wrote:

                "There are some philosophers, who imagine we are every moment intimately conscious of what we call our self; that we feel its existence and its continuance in existence, and are certain, beyond the evidence of a demonstration, both of its perfect identity and simplicity. (p 251)

                For my part, when I enter most intimately into what I call myself, I always stumble on some particular perception or other, of heat or cold, light or shade, love or hatred, pain or pleasure. I never can catch myself at any time without a perception, and never can observe any thing but the perception." (p. 252)

                Jim




                --- In existlist@yahoogroups.com, Herman <hhofmeister@...> wrote:
                >
                > Hi Jim,
                >
                > 2010/1/29 Jim <jjimstuart1@...>:
                > > Hi Polly,
                > >
                > >
                > > You also quote a famous passage from Hume:
                > >
                > > ""There are some philosophers (e.g. Berkeley) who imagine we are every moment intimately conscious of what we call our self; that we feel its existence and its continuance in existence, and are certain of its identity and simplicity. For my part, when I enter most intimately into what I call my self, I always stumble on some particular perception or other, of heat or cold, light or shade, love or hatred, pain or pleasure, color or sound, etc. I never catch my self, distinct from some such perception."
                > >
                > > In this quote, I think you have added the bit "(e.g. Berkeley)". I can't recall the parentheses when I last read the passage. Please correct me if I am wrong.
                >
                > I quoted the passage verbatim, from here:
                >
                > http://webspace.ship.edu/cgboer/humekant.html
                >
                > Polly
                >
              • Mary
                ... Don t we need to understand what a mind is before we know what a choice is? Without that certainty can any philosophy be valid except as a preference based
                Message 7 of 13 , Jan 30, 2010
                • 0 Attachment
                  --- In existlist@yahoogroups.com, "Jim" <jjimstuart1@...> wrote:

                  > I am a thorough-going materialist – I believe that I have my conscious point-of-view because I have a physical brain which processes incoming light rays and sound ways (vibrations of the air molecules), etc.

                  > I don't know what the connection of all this is with choice. I certainly want to hold on to the existentialist idea that I am able to make genuine choices, and that I am fully responsible for those choices and my resulting actions.
                  >

                  Don't we need to understand what a mind is before we know what a choice is? Without that certainty can any philosophy be valid except as a preference based on some unknown? Mary
                • Jim
                  Mary, You write: Don t we need to understand what a mind is before we know what a choice is? Without that certainty can any philosophy be valid except as a
                  Message 8 of 13 , Jan 30, 2010
                  • 0 Attachment
                    Mary,

                    You write:

                    "Don't we need to understand what a mind is before we know what a choice is? Without that certainty can any philosophy be valid except as a preference based on some unknown?"

                    Philosophers have been trying to work out what a mind is for the last two thousand five hundred years and there is still no agreement between them.

                    I don't expect any agreement in my lifetime, and even if most of the philosophers come to agree, that still seems to fall short of `certainty'.

                    One of the themes in existentialism is that we have to act on the basis of uncertainty.

                    Given the fact that we can't know, we can't have certainty, we still have to choose how to act. As Sartre said, refusing to choose is still a choice – albeit a negative one.

                    For myself, I make a commitment to viewing myself as responsible for my attitudes, choices and actions. Further I make a commitment to viewing myself as free to choose how to act. Without the assumption of freedom of choice, responsibility does not seem to make sense, in my opinion.

                    Even without certainty, I think we can say some theories (whether scientific or philosophical) are better than others.

                    So I don't think that lack of certainty implies that all philosophies are equally valid.

                    I can't be certain that God does not exist, but I think atheism is a more rational view than theism.

                    I can't be certain Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection is true, but I think it is more likely to be true than creationism, so it is more rational to believe in evolution by natural selection than to belief in creationism.

                    Jim
                  • tom
                    Mary, I am sure we will find much more about what a mind is as our scientific knowledge expands. But often as is the case, more knowledge brings more
                    Message 9 of 13 , Jan 30, 2010
                    • 0 Attachment
                      Mary,

                      I am sure we will find much more about what a mind is as our scientific knowledge expands. But often as is the case, more knowledge brings more questions. So if not forever, at least for a long time, there will be much of the unknown that is impacting our preferences and choices. The freedom of choice we have is the freedom to do whatever seems most likely to actualize our values and desires. However, this guess on what is the most likely course is usually or at least often to a certain extent a guess[although hopefully we can progress more toward being better guessers] as well as better at executing acts to reach such goals. And of course, our values and desires themselves at least partly spring from the unknown. I have heard it said that even theoretical physicists will be drawn to one theory over another alternate scenario because they are so constituted to do so.I have even heard the theory expounded that the impact of our birth experience leaves residues that impact our choices.

                      Peace,
                      Tom

                      Peace,
                      Tom
                      ----- Original Message -----
                      From: Mary
                      To: existlist@yahoogroups.com
                      Sent: Saturday, January 30, 2010 10:35 AM
                      Subject: [existlist] self thread unraveling



                      --- In existlist@yahoogroups.com, "Jim" <jjimstuart1@...> wrote:

                      > I am a thorough-going materialist - I believe that I have my conscious point-of-view because I have a physical brain which processes incoming light rays and sound ways (vibrations of the air molecules), etc.

                      > I don't know what the connection of all this is with choice. I certainly want to hold on to the existentialist idea that I am able to make genuine choices, and that I am fully responsible for those choices and my resulting actions.
                      >

                      Don't we need to understand what a mind is before we know what a choice is? Without that certainty can any philosophy be valid except as a preference based on some unknown? Mary





                      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                    • Herman
                      Hi Jim, Mary et al, ... Philosophy of Mind is philosophy about what? It is only philosophical speculation about philosophical speculation. It is totally
                      Message 10 of 13 , Jan 30, 2010
                      • 0 Attachment
                        Hi Jim, Mary et al,

                        2010/1/31 Jim <jjimstuart1@...>:
                        > Mary,
                        >
                        > You write:
                        >
                        > "Don't we need to understand what a mind is before we know what a choice is? Without that certainty can any philosophy be valid except as a preference based on some unknown?"
                        >
                        > Philosophers have been trying to work out what a mind is for the last two thousand five hundred years and there is still no agreement between them.

                        Philosophy of Mind is philosophy about what? It is only philosophical
                        speculation about philosophical speculation. It is totally ungrounded
                        nonsense.


                        >
                        > I don't expect any agreement in my lifetime, and even if most of the philosophers come to agree, that still seems to fall short of `certainty'.

                        Discovering patterned relations of cause and effect is hardly the
                        domain of philosophy. At best, philosophy can expose hidden
                        assumptions and flawed methods used in inferring cause/effect
                        relationships. But ironically, philosophy has utterly failed to expose
                        such assumptions about how the world works. Rather the opposite is
                        true. It has been left to the scientist to exorcise the a-priori
                        demons of god, self and mind from a world-view conceived by
                        philosophers with their eyes closed.

                        Polly
                      • Mary
                        ...
                        Message 11 of 13 , Jan 31, 2010
                        • 0 Attachment
                          --- In existlist@yahoogroups.com, Herman <hhofmeister@...> wrote:

                          <Discovering patterned relations of cause and effect is hardly the
                          domain of philosophy. At best, philosophy can expose hidden
                          assumptions and flawed methods used in inferring cause/effect
                          relationships. But ironically, philosophy has utterly failed to expose
                          such assumptions about how the world works. Rather the opposite is
                          true. It has been left to the scientist to exorcise the a-priori
                          demons of god, self and mind from a world-view conceived by
                          philosophers with their eyes closed.>

                          If science and philosophy are inured to imagination or creativity, assumptions remain. If people imagined themselves as tabula rasa and* the writing finger, they might experience freedom. Others try to write and read us, but only we can edit. It requires an X-acto. Mary
                        • Jim
                          Hi Polly, You write: Philosophy of Mind is philosophy about what? It is only philosophical speculation about philosophical speculation. It is totally
                          Message 12 of 13 , Jan 31, 2010
                          • 0 Attachment
                            Hi Polly,

                            You write:

                            "Philosophy of Mind is philosophy about what? It is only philosophical speculation about philosophical speculation. It is totally ungrounded nonsense.

                            Discovering patterned relations of cause and effect is hardly the domain of philosophy. At best, philosophy can expose hidden assumptions and flawed methods used in inferring cause/effect relationships. But ironically, philosophy has utterly failed to expose such assumptions about how the world works. Rather the opposite is true. It has been left to the scientist to exorcise the a-priori demons of god, self and mind from a world-view conceived by
                            philosophers with their eyes closed."

                            I like your style and clear expression, but I disagree with your negative assessment of philosophical achievement.

                            I agree with you that philosophy can help us clarify our thinking and exposes hidden assumptions and inconsistencies in our thinking. But I think philosophy can achieve more than just this.

                            Philosophy, at its best, takes note of science, but explores those areas of existence which are not reached by science.

                            Philosophy as well as science has exorcised superstition and irrational belief down the centuries.

                            As far back as the Ancient Greeks, Democritus was arguing there were only atoms and the void, and theism was challenged from the sixteenth century onwards by such philosophers as Thomas Hobbes, David Hume and later by Friedrich Nietzsche, Bertrand Russell, Alfred Ayer and Jean-Paul Sartre.

                            Of course if you believe that all truths can be revealed by science, then your anti-philosophy stance can be justified. But scientism and atheism are both philosophical positions, so science itself cannot justify these positions.

                            I agree it is up to science to tell us how the world works at the mechanical level, but given human beings are capable of altering the world, philosophy can help us think about how the world ought to be. (IMO)

                            Jim
                          • Herman
                            Hi Jim, ... You may be right, I may be unfairly critical of philosophy. I am not sufficiently aware of THE history of philosophy (as opposed to someone s
                            Message 13 of 13 , Feb 1, 2010
                            • 0 Attachment
                              Hi Jim,

                              On 1 February 2010 07:57, Jim <jjimstuart1@...> wrote:
                              > Hi Polly,
                              >
                              > You write:
                              >
                              > "Philosophy of Mind is philosophy about what? It is only philosophical speculation about philosophical speculation. It is totally ungrounded nonsense.
                              >
                              > Discovering patterned relations of cause and effect is hardly the domain of philosophy. At best, philosophy can expose hidden assumptions and flawed methods used in inferring cause/effect relationships. But ironically, philosophy has utterly failed to expose such assumptions about how the world works. Rather the opposite is true. It has been left to the scientist to exorcise the a-priori demons of god, self and mind from a world-view conceived by
                              > philosophers with their eyes closed."
                              >
                              > I like your style and clear expression, but I disagree with your negative assessment of philosophical achievement.
                              >
                              > I agree with you that philosophy can help us clarify our thinking and exposes hidden assumptions and inconsistencies in our thinking. But I think philosophy can achieve more than just this.
                              >
                              > Philosophy, at its best, takes note of science, but explores those areas of existence which are not reached by science.
                              >
                              > Philosophy as well as science has exorcised superstition and irrational belief down the centuries.
                              >
                              > As far back as the Ancient Greeks, Democritus was arguing there were only atoms and the void, and theism was challenged from the sixteenth century onwards by such philosophers as Thomas Hobbes, David Hume and later by Friedrich Nietzsche, Bertrand >Russell, Alfred Ayer and Jean-Paul Sartre.

                              You may be right, I may be unfairly critical of philosophy. I am not
                              sufficiently aware of THE history of philosophy (as opposed to
                              someone's selective rendition of it) to know whether philosophy
                              preceded science, or vice versa, or whether it was a dialectical,
                              interdependent relationship.

                              Some thoughts arise with what you wrote. I'm not expecting you to
                              answer them, they are there only as an indication of my train of
                              thought. Was Democritus being more than just speculative about atoms?
                              What was the foundation for his views? Did the philosophical
                              challenges to theism occur prior or post to the actual observation of
                              the world as per Galileo, unimpeded as he was by the world view of the
                              classics who seemed to have had no need for eyes?


                              >
                              > Of course if you believe that all truths can be revealed by science, then your anti-philosophy stance can be justified. But scientism and atheism are both philosophical positions, so science itself cannot justify these positions.
                              >

                              I am not sure whether to agree or disagree. I am only at the point of
                              getting to know the difference between actually seeing what is there,
                              and thinking what is there; the latter only being imagined.

                              > I agree it is up to science to tell us how the world works at the mechanical level, but given human beings are capable of altering the world, philosophy can help us think about how the world ought to be. (IMO)
                              >

                              Thought is bounded only by the limits of imagination. Human reality,
                              however, is bounded by the constraints of need. An imagined better
                              world is often an unrecognised part of the real problem. Unless
                              progress applies to all, it is merely gress. We have plenty of gress
                              already, thank you.

                              Polly


                              > Jim
                              >
                            Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.