Very well said! We agree completely here, as far as I think I understand you. I particularly like your phrase, "that sees as real". In my view, it is a delusion to think that there is a real human universe and it is a delusion to think that there is a mind which sees it. What I think is really going on is that the human universe is a collection of Ideas in the Mind, which, when viewed through the extremely limiting porthole provided by the communication link between brain and Mind, gives the Mind the illusion that there is a mind that is somehow produced by the brain.Canute said:By 'mind' I mean that faculty that sees as real the mental phenomena of our human universe, the faculty that dies with the death of our brain. For our more fundamental faculty, that does not die, I'd capitalise it as 'Mind'. (Similarly I'd use 'self' and 'Self').
Your use of capitalization startled me. Just last week I thought of the same idea of capitalization to clear up a confusion which has popped up several times on PF between me and others and which always seems to get dropped without resolution. In particular, when I say something like "the essence of you is identically the same as the essence of me", people respond with something incredulous like, "Do you mean that you are me?" or "Does that make me God?" etc. To clear this up, we could use uncapitalized words like 'you', 'me', 'paul', 'her', etc. to mean the physical body/brain as in our ordinary vernacular usage, and use capitalized words like 'God', 'I', 'You', 'Him', 'Plato', etc. to mean the conscious essence of what seem to be these individuals with the realization that they are all identically the same, i.e. God=You=Me=Plato=Mind=Buddha=Athman=Brahman=... I don't know if adopting that convention will help here, but I have decided that if I ever do any serious writing on this subject, I will use it. Your use of it to distinguish between 'mind' and 'Mind' clinches my resolve.
Yes. Here again, we could distinguish between those two by saying that Consciousness is fundamental (my 'CC), and consciousness is the experience as reported by a body/brain, or any other individuated sentient being. But you bring up two interesting topics here.Canute said:By 'consciousness' I mean the usual 'what it is like,' but would include both consciousness as it appears to be to us as individuated sentient beings and also what is more fundamental (your 'CC').
First, I have always been a little bit uneasy with Nagel's 'what it is like'. It just seems that we could come up with a better characterization of what we mean, but it is also clear that nobody has done so yet. Taking the characterization literally, it says that consciousness is a metaphor. We are saying that We are conscious of A if and only if We know that A is like B (note I have begun to use the capitalization convention here.) This implies a couple of things. First, it implies that We are more or less familiar with B and less-so with A. The idea is that We can attend to A by comparing it with B with which We are already familiar. This comparison, presumably, reduces the previous uncertainty surrounding the notion of A and thus improves Our knowledge of A. The second thing implied is that the basic process going on here is that of "knowing". Being conscious of A is the process of coming to know more about A and this is done by making a comparison with something better known, such as B. It is this line of thinking which leads Me to choose "the ability to know" as the most fundamental faculty of Consciousness, and which I posit as the fundamental ontological entity.
The second idea you suggested here is the idea of an "individuated sentient being". I am impressed by Rosenberg's development of the Theory of Natural Individuals and I think it might be fruitful to try to connect that idea with Your notion of "individuated sentient beings". Of course, the obvious connection is that human beings should qualify as instantiations of both. But I think We can get more out of it by considering Rosenberg's structure and the notion we have been discussing here of clearly separating out the capitalized words from the uncapitalized words. Here's how I would interpret Rosenberg's theory:
I would say that 'receptivity' = 'the ability to know'. That makes sense to Me because knowing is essentially the reception of knowledge, and so the ability to know is simply receptivity. So when Rosenberg says (page 172) that "Receptivity itself acts as the causal connection. Nature needs no other ontological grounding for the causal connection", it seems He should be able to agree with Me that 'the ability to know' is ontologically fundamental. What I would suggest is that this fundamental receptivity is the only one in existence. But, instead of restricting the number of Natural Individuals to this single One, I would modify the definition of Natural Individual to include "vehicles" which can be remotely "operated" by this One. The vehicle appears to be capable of receptivity, but in fact, it merely relays the information back to the One where it is received by the only real Receptivity that exists. Effective properties could work similarly except in the opposite direction. The effective properties of any of the "Vehicular Natural Individuals" (i.e. all Natural Individuals excepting the One fundamental one) could be communicated somehow through a chain of Natural Individuals each "driving" one at the next level away from the originating One. In My view, this could completely account for causality, both physically and psychologically. As I see it, the mysterious "communication link" i keep talking about between Mind and brain is exactly what Rosenberg calls a "carrier". I think the only thing I would change about Rosenberg's analysis is to add the hypothesis that there is only a single consciousness, or sentience, in all of reality. Then, as I see it, everything else falls naturally into place.
With the possible exception of the word 'duality', I think We now do agree on the key definitions and I think We agree on most of the rest. And I think the only way to remove the sloppiness is to revert to mathematics and develop these ideas as formal systems. You have gotten My hopes up that Spencer-Brown has already got a start on this, but I don't know enough about his work yet to be sure. I would very much like to know more about it.Canute said:This is a bit sloppy really, and not strictly in line with the Buddhist use of the words, but as I'm not yet omniscient I'm not sure what to call the more fundamental kind of consciousness, or even whether the term 'consciousness' can be applied to it without confusion. Perhaps one should just call it Reality. I've got a feeling that if we can agree on the definitions we can probably agree on most of the rest.
Concerning the definition of 'duality', it is not really important to Me. I don't care whether people call me a dualist or not, and i don't use the term, or any connotations of it, to try to express My ideas. I feel the same way about the term 'God'. Both terms seem to have such very different meanings to different People, that unless they are carefully defined first, I think it is a mistake to use either one. So I try not to.
Concerning Buddhism, because of your suggestions i have now completed two courses covering the subject. I have been fascinated by what I learned. The net of it is that I can interpret Buddhist doctrines, or sutras, to be completely in accord with My own cosmological views. On the other hand, I can identify what you might call "sloppiness" or "confusion" in each one. I learned that these same problems were identified by later Buddhist thinkers who founded new schools that fixed the problems. To my surprise, as I learned about these "fixes", I found Myself in agreement that they were an improvement on the previous notions. It is as if my own development of these ideas followed pretty much the same path that the ideas did throughout the development of Buddhism in general. At this point, I think the only disagreement, or problem, left is that of defining terms that are meaningful. And, of course, that can't ever be fixed completely because of the circularity of language. But, with one exception, I think we can come to understand and explain everything that exists. That one exception is the problem of the ultimate origin of the ultimate ontological entity. That one, I think we have to leave open.
Yes. I agree completely. The ignorance and confusion you mention is because (lowercase) we, being so preoccupied with the noise of physicality, forget that We are really vicariously experiencing a drive in one of the bodies and that all of the physical world, bodies and all, is nothing but an elaborate structure of Ideas that We dreamed up. (Plato was right.)Canute said:You agree with George Spencer Brown then, as I've suggested earlier, who argues that the world is created by making conceptual distinctions. These distinctions may, I think, be called Ideas, or the basis of Ideas. In this view the universe becomes real by a process of ignorance and confusion, in that we forget it is really all just Ideas and mistakenly take it to be more real than that from which it emerges or emanates. (Hence Plato's argument that we have forgotten the truth and must work to rediscover it).
Yes. Indeed I do.Canute said:Do you mean that mind and body arise from consciousness (CC)? If so I agree.
Buddhists themselves don't have a single view on these things, so We can't assume that They have the "correct" view. I think We should feel as empowered as Anyone to think these things through trying to make sense of them. After all We are Brahman. If We attribute all free will to the One consciousness, and recognize that the One acts out that free will through us, then everything makes sense. It only confuses things when we think that it is us who has free will rather than Us. I agree that "Acting according to ordinary mind is to act as a machine, since ordinary mind is 'conditioned,' i.e. subject to the unrelenting laws of cause and effect." But I maintain that acting according to Mind is to act with true free will, not simply on behalf of God but actually as God (where 'God' is defined to be CC = Allah = Brahman = reality = Consciousness).Canute said:I feel the Buddhist view on these things is the correct one, but wouldn't dare attempt to expound it in any depth. When it gets to the details I'll leave it to the experts. But freewill in Buddhism is, I think, stated in metaphorical terms, accepting the will of God (CC, Allah etc), keeping in mind that God is just a convenient word and leaving it undefined here. Acting according to ordinary mind is to act as a machine, since ordinary mind is 'conditioned,' i.e. subject to the unrelenting laws of cause and effect. The personal 'freedom' so valued in materialist societies is not freedom at all in this view but slavery.
You mentioned quite some time ago in our conversations that we might disagree on the issue of freedom. Here, I can see that we do. If what you said here is a precept of Buddhism, then i would have to say that they are wrong. In My view, the personal 'freedom' so valued in materialist societies, if exercised by Mind, is the most precious and important feature in all of reality. I would agree that the personal 'freedom' exercised by mind is not freedom at all but simply slavery to passions, chemistry, laws of physics, slings and arrows, and other ignoble determinants. When we Consciously use our Mind in order to exercise free will, we are literally doing the work of God (as I defined the term earlier) and nothing in the universe, or of reality in general, can be more noble. I think it is clear from human history, that to the extent that humans think for themselves, their condition greatly improves. I'd love to discuss this further if You still disagree.Canute said:The personal 'freedom' so valued in materialist societies is not freedom at all in this view but slavery.
I think what I said went beyond the scope of this discussion, so I'll retract it. We can talk about it in a different setting if you like.Canute said:I don't get that bit I'm afraid.
In my view, all the discussions surrounding the notion of duality are nothing but sophism. I don't think anything can be learned or gained by precisely defining 'dualism' and then taking stands on implications of that definition. That is not to say that there aren't logical problems (which I think you might call metaphysical) with any proposal for cosmic origins. In fact, as i have consistently said, I maintain that each and every proposed explanation for the origin of reality, whether it is string theory, religious creationism, some mythical epic account, or any other philosophical, religious, fictional, mythical, whimsical, logical, or psychological account, will have exactly the same problem: whether reality had a beginning or not, and if so, how did it get started, and if not how can we explain its existence. In my case, explaining the origin and constitution of 'the ability to know' is no more problematic than explaining the origin and constitution of false vacuum, the Higgs field, the space-time continuum, the "seed" for the Big Bang, or any other ontologically fundamental entity. I think no cosmological theory can have an advantage over another in this respect. As you said, the concept of duality plays no part in My view of reality and I don't think it ever will.Canute said:Not quite sure yet. It may fix it, but it may be that it cannot be fully fixed until we can agree about the concept of 'nonduality'. Only with the concept of nonduality can we overcome the problems of dualism, whether of the Cartesian or cosmological kind. (Interestingly, quantum cosmologists seem to be reaching the same conclusion, with the introduction of the 'hypothesis of duality,' but that's another discussion I suppose).
At the moment this concept plays no part in your theory, and you assume that CC is not nothing. If it is not nothing then the metaphysical questions always found in dualistic cosmologies arise, such as what is it made out of, did it arise from nothing etc. You may be avoiding Cartesian mind-body dualism, but I wonder whether you have avoided 'ontological' or cosmological dualism. The answer would depend on whether your theory is, to use a term from physics, background-dependent or background-independent. If it is one or the other then it is founded on dualism. This is the problem which has led cosmologists to toy with the idea that neither answer is correct (the 'hypothesis of duality') thus at last, in one area of research at least, coming into line with the doctrine of Buddhism and the other mystical religions.
Great talking with You, Canute.