Note: This post has been split off from this thread. -hypnagogue ------ Your principle objection seems to be to the knowledge claims of mystics and meditators. It's a reasonable objection, and one I made for about forty years, but it does not hold up to analysis. This is because those knowledge claims are accompanied by an ontological claim. If consciousness is individuated and arises from brains then your objection would be insurmountable, and the claims of mystics could be no more than conjectures. However, these claims have to be seen in the light of the further claim that human consciousness is not ultimately individuated but arises from the same source as everything else. Thus in mysticism the nature of knowledge and the nature of Self are intimately connected issues, or, rather, the intimate connection between them is fully acknowledged rather than ignored. In this way more can be known by identity than appears ordinarily to be the case to many people, for ultimately our identity encompasses more than just our everyday 'self'. This little everyday self, which even Dennett rightly characterises as a fiction, a bowerbird's bower, is not our 'Self'. In this way 'knowledge by identity' can extend beyond the epistemic limits you assume to apply, and can include knowledge of origins, causation, the mind/matter relationship and far more. I know you'll be sceptical, but this does answer the objection about the limits to self-knowledge. In mystical practice, which is specifically the search for knowledge, there are no barriers to knowledge, paradoxes, ignoramibuses, incomprehensible miracles or the like. In this sense science and 'rational'/analytical philosophy are more mystical than mysticism. (I don't like this word 'mysticism' but it'll have to do). The insoluble mysteries of Western metaphysics are an artefact of the assumptions underlying physics, and do not arise in the nondual view. On phenomenal qualities, knowledge of redness is knowledge of how things appear, not knowledge of reality. That is, we know that we experience red, but we do not know that anything red exists. (Solpsism is unfalsifiable). But immediate knowledge of the unity between knower and known is knowledge of what is, of what we are, knowledge of our identity, which might be called ontological knowledge. This is not at all the same thing as knowing what an experience of phenomenal qualities is like, although there is an overlap. This can be seen by noting that in principle the unity of knower and known can be known even if solipsism is true, or even especially if it is true. But the existence of red objects requires that solipsism is false, so red objects cannot be shown to exist as other than mental events. If there were a distance, metaphysical or epistemic, between individuated consciousness and the rest of the world then this objection would hold. But if there is no such distance then it does not. All mystical writers say such a distance concept is false, conceptual or arbitrary, whether temporal, spatial, epistemic or metaphysical. Again, this claim might seem implausible to you, but it does meet the objection. Rosenberg's account of consciousness is theoretical. It seems quite wrong to say that a theoretical account of consciousness is more justified than a first hand knowledge. I'm not sure what 'justified' means used in this way. As to clarity, what leads you to conclude that R's account of the way in which consciousness fits into the natural world is more clear than the view I'm supporting? I find the mystical account far more clear. (I'm not having a go at Rosenberg by the way, I agree with you that what he says is an important step forward for the scientific study of consciousness). Here I must cry foul. You cannot have looked at all into the mystical account of how consciousness relates to causation if you think no account has been provided. Causation is actually a vital topic in mysticism, since in this view strict determinism holds and extends beyond the purely physical. I cannot ever demonstrate that you are wrong about mysticism, but in thousands of years nobody has ever come up with a logical or practical objection that sticks. As it happens I've nearly finished an essay on knowledge and self, addressing some of the issues you've raised here, and am wondering whether I dare ask you to read it and comment. Would you be prepared to do this if I don't chicken out?