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Re: [existlist] Re: Consciousness is not supported by itself

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  • eduardathome
    “Unless we have consciousness, we can t know we re conscious of our consciousness, and if we don t know we re conscious we d not have consciousness. How is
    Message 1 of 171 , Jun 29, 2013
      “Unless we have consciousness, we can't know we're conscious of our consciousness, and if we don't know we're conscious we'd not have consciousness. How is that not paradoxical??”"

      I think that’s just playing on words. And it is one of the reasons why philosophy is difficult to read. Are we really conscious of our consciousness?? If I am conscious of my consciousness then I am conscious. It’s something like that picture of a hand drawing a hand. It is only paradoxical because the play on words makes it so.

      But can you be conscious of your consciousness?? The answer is likely no. Since it is cyclical, you would have to step outside yourself to be aware that it is you over there who is conscious. Just as you have to step away from the picture of the hands in order to see what is going on. But since you can’t step away from yourself, you can’t then be conscious that you are conscious of your consciousness.

      Descartes is wrong. That he thinks doesn’t necessarily mean he exists. He might be in the dream of someone else who only imagines that Descartes asks the question.


      -----Original Message-----
      From: Mary
      Sent: Saturday, June 29, 2013 11:45 AM
      To: existlist@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: [existlist] Re: Consciousness is not supported by itself


      Yes, an idea in isolation from other ideas appears quite simple.

      For example, the idea that consciousness is the result of neural activity seems simple enough. This can be related to Sartre's being in-itself. No brain=no consciousness is similar to no objective world=no subjective reality. The physiological process of consciousness is an activity or kind of being in-itself.

      It's only when we get to the idea of consciousness as being for-itself that things get more complicated. I'm aware that I'm aware, but the awareness of my awareness is my being for-itself. I'm not awareness in it-self.

      Sartre's point about an empty consciousness which perceives objects is less about the objects (unless they are people, of course) and more about what consciousness does. Consciousness is not merely physical (in-itself) activities but our (for-itself) activities of negation and determination of it. This is what you do when you feel the need to change a mental script. It isn't the in-itself of neural activity which 'tells' you it's time to do that; you, as a for-itself, do that.

      Sartre expands and develops what is an initially simple idea, consciousness is consciousness of something, into other areas like essence, bad faith, nothingness, freedom, responsibility, for-otherness and its ethical implications. And although these are not possible without neurons, neurons in-themselves can't explain or understand these. You do/ don't.

      Without being for-itself we wouldn't know we had being in-itself, and unless being in-itself precedes being for-itself, we can't have being for-itself. Unless we have consciousness, we can't know we're conscious of our consciousness, and if we don't know we're conscious we'd not have consciousness. How is that not paradoxical???

      A human consciousness is being in-itself for-itself for-others.


      --- In existlist@yahoogroups.com, eduardathome <yeoman@...> wrote:
      > Those two little words are of significant importance. They change the entire meaning of the sentence.
      > Which was my point. That people who write this stuff don’t seem to care if the correct message is transmitted, as long as they can put something down on paper. The SparkNotes author could have put in the two words but he didn’t. In fact, he did not even have to do it twice. The sentence could have been simply ... “If for some reason we are not aware of the world, it doesn’t exist for us”.
      > But then that simplified sentence is not as dramatic as the one used. In fact, it is so obvious that a child could have said it .... “I put my hands over my eyes and the world doesn’t exist for me”. You don’t need to read Being and Nothingness to get the idea. Which is my other point; that behind all this are very simple ideas.
      > eduard
      > -----Original Message-----
      > From: Mary
      > Sent: Thursday, June 27, 2013 8:26 PM
      > To: existlist@yahoogroups.com
      > Subject: [existlist] Re: Consciousness is not supported by itself
      > eduard,
      > Your assumption of what it says, or means, is just plain wrong, which is what you'd realize if you read Sartre's text itself instead of a 'Readers Digest' version. Yet even this could not be clearer if you insert [two little words] which are implied by the surrounding text. The author is assuming that by the conclusion of Being and Nothingness, the meaning of being in-itself is understood.
      > SparkNotes: Being is complete fullness of existence, a meaningless mass of matter devoid of meaning, consciousness, and knowledge.
      > Me: This is just reiterating what being in-itself means.
      > SparkNotes: Consciousness enters the world through the for-itself and with it brings nothingness, negation, and difference to what was once a complete whole of being.
      > Me: This reiterates what the for-itself (consciousness) means and does. Being in-itself does not do anything.
      > SparkNotes: Consciousness is what allows the world to exist [for me]. Without it, there would be no objects, no trees, no rivers, and no rocks [for me]: only being.
      > Me: There would only be being in-itself of such objects, including us. We would simply be being in-self instead of having consciousness which is both for-itself and in-itself.
      > So Sartre never claims there is no objective reality of which we are conscious; he merely says that consciousness transcends itself when perceiving objects. He never says the world disappears when we aren't conscious of it; he says it exists only for the for-itself. The in-itself doesn't exist for-itself. It is only pure or absolute being. It is being without determination. We determine it, define it, give it shape and meaning.
      > Mary
      > --- In existlist@yahoogroups.com, eduardathome <yeoman@> wrote:
      > >
      > > Ok ... if I don’t see it, perhaps you do. What in the SparkNotes or even in the quote of Sartre you provided explains how consciousness is what allows the world to exist. Or you could try your own explanation without resorting to quotes.
      > > So I would ask, how is it possible for the world to not exist without consciousness?? Obviously the â€Å"consciousness” is a personal human consciousness. What the statement is saying is that if I am not aware of the outside world [perhaps I am dead] the world [I presume universe] would not exist. Yesterday I was alive and the this universe of some 95 billion light years diameter existed. Today I am dead and the whole thing disappears.
      > ------------------------------------
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      > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]


      Please support the Existential Primer... dedicated to explaining nothing!

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    • daveylee40
      It seems to me that we are limited to the qualities and capacities of humanness as supplied by the natural state of being human. Other than that, I personally
      Message 171 of 171 , Aug 25, 2013
        It seems to me that we are limited to the qualities and capacities of humanness as supplied by the natural state of being human. Other than that, I personally cannot conceive of a fixed nature or essence.

        --- In existlist@yahoogroups.com, "Mary" <josephson45r@...> wrote:
        > No congratulations from Sartre unless I understand how I am being in-itself and being for-itself. Since I'm sufficiently satisfied with my grasp of Sartre's Bad Faith, I'm now going to spend some time with how Sartre explains what he considers the 'correct' view of in-itself for being human. What for Sartre is fixed as human essence other than existence, nothing, and freedom?
        > Mary
        > --- In existlist@yahoogroups.com, eduardathome <yeoman@> wrote:
        > > Sartre could encounter the waiter whilst serving the table and ask "what are
        > > you??"
        > >
        > > "I'm a waiter"
        > >
        > > "Aha ... and obvious case of mauvais foi". "But, what are you besides a
        > > waiter??"
        > >
        > > "I'm a father of a family"
        > >
        > > "Still mauvais foi ... a sad case". "I mean, underneath, besides these
        > > particular roles??"
        > >
        > > "Of course, I am a human being".
        > >
        > > "Congratulations".
        > >
        > > eduard
        > >
        > > -----Original Message-----
        > > From: Mary
        > > Sent: Saturday, July 20, 2013 10:28 AM
        > > To: existlist@yahoogroups.com
        > > Subject: [existlist] Fixed nature
        > >
        > > We reject labels which identify us as essentially one particular thing. I am
        > > not my job, so whichever occupation I choose or find myself in and
        > > regardless of the education and training it requires, I am still not that
        > > position/role/job in-itself. It is this idea of having a fixed nature, a
        > > something in-itself, which Sartre opposes. We are being for-itself and
        > > either struggle or recoil at the thought of having the freedom of not having
        > > an identity (an in-itself) so we find ourselves in the 'project' or
        > > condition of bad faith. Sartre thinks our nature is to desire a fixed
        > > nature. But this is further complicated by the fact that others tend to
        > > label us as having a fixed nature.
        > >
        > > If I say you, eduard, are essentially a positivist or a reductionist or
        > > whatever, you reject this because you feel you are not that. If I say you
        > > are an electrical engineer, you're more likely to say this is true, but are
        > > you really only or strictly what your job entails? Aren't you first eduard,
        > > a human being who thinks and does many things besides his job? Aren't your
        > > ideas and ways of being constantly changing? To say that you perform your
        > > job/role as an electrical engineer means you are not strictly that block of
        > > identity. Even if you were to change careers, you wouldn't strictly be that
        > > new identity either. You would be free to be more than just that. Sartre
        > > means that all jobs are equal only in the sense that we still would not be
        > > identified strictly with what we do.
        > >
        > > To say I am not *that* means I am not merely a being in-itself. But it's
        > > more complicated, because if there weren't some facticity about being human,
        > > we wouldn't be able to negate it and be a being for-itself. We would merely
        > > be this block of identity. This is really what Sartre uses bad faith to
        > > explainâ€"the relationship between being in-itself and for-itself.
        > >
        > > Mary
        > >
        > > --- In existlist@yahoogroups.com, eduardathome <yeoman@> wrote:
        > > >
        > > > Mary,
        > > >
        > > > I think that part of the difficulty may be that we are dealing with
        > > > 1930’s thought. The way I see it, Sartre is describing psychology as to
        > > > mental functioning and associated behaviour. But in the 1930’s there
        > > > was very little in the way of realising that we actually used our brains
        > > > to think, so Sartre and others had to resort to labels and phraseology
        > > > which might suffice.
        > > >
        > > > But since such phraseology is disconnected from reality, it easily leads
        > > > to convoluted statements such as, "If I am a cafe waiter, this can be only
        > > > in the mode of *not being* one." That statement makes no sense, and I
        > > > can well appreciate the need for 800 pages of reading to obtain some kind
        > > > of understanding. I don’t believe that such a statement would be made
        > > > by anyone today in the 21st century.
        > > >
        > > > I read the paragraph at least 4 times now and still cannot make any sense
        > > > of it. For example, â€Å"This is the result of the fact that while I must
        > > > *play at being* a cafe waiter in order to be one, still it would be in
        > > > vain for me to play at being a diplomat or a sailor, for I would not be
        > > > one”. I think that what Sartre is saying is that a â€Å"diplomat” is a
        > > > position that requires substantial training and something to which you are
        > > > assigned. You can’t just walk into the Ministry of State building and
        > > > start acting like a diplomat as one might act as a waiter when walking
        > > > into a restaurant. But if that is the case, then Sartre weakens his
        > > > argument for mauvais foi, since the diplomat could equally confuse himself
        > > > with his role.
        > > >
        > > > I agree with your understanding of bad faith. I asked at the office, what
        > > > was the meaning of â€Å"mauvais foi”. It comes down to misrepresenting
        > > > yourself to others, as for example to have a hidden agenda. Sartre seems
        > > > to be using the term as misrepresenting yourself to yourself. In regard
        > > > to the question of whether it is possible to misrepresent yourself to
        > > > yourself, I should think that it is entirely possible. There is nothing
        > > > in the rule book of brain thinking that one has to be entirely logical and
        > > > transparent.
        > > >
        > > > I think the example of the waiter is put in the wrong sense which
        > > > compounds the difficulty. The waiter is said to be too precise and
        > > > therefore he/she has mauvais foi. But it really should be expressed the
        > > > other way around, as waiters who have mauvais foi tend to act in too
        > > > precise a manner. Not all waiters who act precisely have mauvais foi.
        > > > Neither do all beau parleurs.
        > > >
        > > > eduard
        > >
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