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Re: consciousness myth

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  • Jim
    Hi Polly, Thank you for another stimulating post. You write: Polly: It is important to distinguish between what we sense and what we think. Cause and effect is
    Message 1 of 168 , Feb 2, 2010
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      Hi Polly,

      Thank you for another stimulating post.

      You write:

      Polly: It is important to distinguish between what we sense and what we think. Cause and effect is never sensed, it is thought. Likewise, we don't sense consciousness or self, we think them. We should not allow the grammatical structure of our language to blind us. We have been hammered into constructing all our sentences with a subject, object and a verb. But that does not mean that the experience of red is a product of the experience of a seer seeing the seen. That may be how we think about the world, but as I said, thinking and sensing are not the same.

      When we say we are conscious, that is just a shorthand convenience, a social convention. What is meant is that there is an experience of something, be it colour, sound, a feeling. If you experience
      consciousness as something distinct from colours, sounds etc, please describe it. To me, red, and consciousness of red, describe the same experience. Consciousness is redundant.

      As to self-consciousness, please describe it.

      Response: Aren't you just substituting the word `experience' for the word `conscious'? I'll try to put forward my view without using the words `consciousness' or `self-consciousness' and we shall see if there is still a difference between us.

      I agree that if I stare at a red book, I have an experience of a red book on the table, and there is no second-level experience of my consciousness of a red book.

      If I consider all my experiences, there is some pattern and some similarity. Apart from the odd trip to the hospital for an operation, my successive experiences never jump to different places (spatial locations). There is spatial continuity to my succession of experiences. Also my body is always present in all my experiences – if only at the edge of the experience. Sometimes I focus my attention on a body part – e.g. my aching shoulder – but even when I don't, I am dimly aware that my body is always present. I said in a previous post, that my `self' is at least an embodied, moving, point of view, so when I focus my attention on my body or on my thoughts or feelings, I would say they are examples of "experiences of self".

      Secondly, I don't think there is such a big a difference between thinking and sensing as you make out. I sense the red book on the table, and I think the red book on the table needs to be put on the book shelf.

      Unless we live in the wilderness, outside civilisation, our experiences are of a conceptualised world. Just about everything I see, hear or smell is man-made, and hence made for a purpose, and so conceptualised. Thus I experience books, chairs, tables, coffee cups, coffee, concrete, glass, etc.

      Normal experience – everyday sensing – is fully conceptualised, in my view. Now I grant that in meditation you may be trying to rediscover a non-conceptualised experience of reality – but, as you admit, you only achieve this about one percent of the time. And if you want to actually do anything, you have to return to your conceptualised mode of perception.

      Polly: Where you use the words see and feel, you are not aware that you actually mean think. Seeing is limited to colours, brightness and the like. Seeing isn't thinking. Feeling likewise has its own domain, but feeling is feeling, not thinking. This is not just verbal nitpicking, it is highlighting the great unclarity in method that allows a subject/object paradigm to be superimposed on the world as though it is there to see.

      I doubt that you or anyone anywhere is directly aware of consciousness or self. I put it to you that consciousness and self are concepts, the products of thinking.

      Response: Is the subject/object paradigm a mistake? You have given me food for thought, but I am not yet convinced by your arguments. As I have said, in my opinion, the human subject is, at least, an embodied, moving, point of view. My experiences are bundled together by spatio-temporal continuity and the continued presence of the same physical body on the periphery of the experiences. I admit my physical body is slowly changing, but the change is slow and continuous.

      To bring in a completely different point. It is probably true that I identify myself as a continually existing subject primarily because others regard me as a continually existing subject. But my own experience backs up this judgement made by others.

      I'm not sure if what I say meets all your objections, but no doubt you will highlight any weaknesses or circularities in my account.

      Jim
    • Mary
      Tom, existentialism for me involves less of the ideal and more of the practical pain/pleasure dynamic. Integration and cooperation as one s ideals do not
      Message 168 of 168 , Feb 7, 2010
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        Tom, existentialism for me involves less of the ideal and more of the practical pain/pleasure dynamic. Integration and cooperation as one's ideals do not resolve common relationship issues. You can appeal to these ideals for conflict resolution, but they never guarantee any success. Although existentialism is a discussion about alterity, it offers no ideals. Mary

        --- In existlist@yahoogroups.com, "tom" <tsmith17_midsouth1@...> wrote:
        >
        The nerd and the jock are the two stereotype extremes of thinking versus sensory motor functions.I believe the ideal is integration.
        >
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