• unenlightened
    2.3k
    Sometimes I might use "conscious of" to include all those stories I have been told, without even questioning the truth of some of them. But other times I might use "conscious of" to refer strictly to things which I am immediately aware of through my senses.Metaphysician Undercover

    Well in this context, we want to be very general and inclusive, and that presents a problem, that we are trying to account for life the universe and everything in a way. Certainly I want to include the immediacy of the senses, but even there, they are bound up with memory. The green verticality I see over there - memory and understanding is involved in being able to say 'it is a poplar tree reflected in a lake'.

    Without memory and interpretation, the visual sensation is meaningless; it acquires meaning in relation to remembered experience, learned stories, models of world and self. I have been emphasising the sensory, because philosophy tends to neglect it's importance, and because my claim is that it is prior to what one might call the inner life, because all these stories, including the one we are building here, must enter through the senses.

    I hope my story makes sense. I've been told it is nonsense in this thread.

    It is nonsense if it does not accord with the senses. If it does not accord with other stories we might have heard, then it might be that those stories don't quite make sense. So if it is non-story, I don't mind too much, but if it is non-sense I'm in trouble. So immediately, most of my senses slot easily into a story of my familiar home my laptop, my favourite site, and my focus is on this new post that is trickling out as I type. All the background readily 'fits' the story of my life - the story makes sense of the senses. Where I have to pay attention, is to making sure if I can that the story I am telling of the nature of consciousness also makes sense of the senses.

    All day long, I'm seeing, hearing, touching, etc, and importantly, acting -typing, walking, carrying, eating, etc. At the end of the day, I seek out a place that is dark, quiet, and lie down for preference on something soft enough that I can hardly feel my own weight. And just to be on the safe side, I close my eyes. Then, if the stories don't insist on telling themselves, I go to sleep.

    And of course, that little story is told from memory, because actually, I'm still typing.

    I think that this is an over simplification now, to say "the present is consciousness". If we look back to what you were saying about modeling reality, I think that "the present" within consciousness is part of a model.Metaphysician Undercover

    This is where we get into the realm of strange loops. I'm going to stick by my story, that the immediacy of the senses is the present, and is at least the constant companion of consciousness, without which it becomes at best, weird and dreamlike. But of course I am presenting a model to you in which "the present" plays a prominent part. But "the present" is not the present. Perhaps I can illustrate this, by projecting my story forwards.

    I am still typing, but when I have finished this post, and my glass of wine, I will go to bed as described above, and sleep. I will get up tomorrow about 8AM, and have a coffee and...

    I roll the story forward into the future, based on memories of other days. The train timetable does the same thing, and when there is unforeseen snow, or a crash, or a terror alert, the timetable becomes wrong. The future is always a story that becomes true or false - later - when the senses confirm or disconfirm it. That's my story, anyway. I think the same process, non-verbally, accounts for the anticipation involved in, say, catching a ball. One learns, and gets better at it.
  • JJJJS
    206
    so what you're basically saying is thought is time?
  • unenlightened
    2.3k
    I wouldn't be the first to say that. But it is a bit misleading, as slogans tend to be. The past is recorded in rock sediments the deep past in the microwave background, so I cannot say that time is not physical in the sense that the past leaves a clear trace on the present world. And it is the same kind of trace that the past leaves in our memories and on our hard drives.

    But psychologically, it is the entrance of memory actively into present thought that gives us a sense of time. There is a peculiar, rare illness where the ability to lay down new long term memories is lost quite suddenly. In such cases psychological time stops on the day the ability is lost, and although they retain the earlier memories, and short term memory, so that they can talk, as far as they are aware, no time has passed or will ever pass. They think forever, that it is June 5th 1973, or whatever, and if you explain to them, they do not remember you or what you said five minutes later.

    So in that sense thought is time, but also geology is time regardless of thought.

    (I do hope people can make sense of the way I am playing with the different senses of 'sense' in this thread.)

    When I fall asleep, psychological time stops, but physiological time continues. When I awaken, I have to look at the clock, or where the sun is in the sky to reconnect the two times. And then there are those occasions when I'm not sure what day it is.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    3.9k
    Without memory and interpretation, the visual sensation is meaningless; it acquires meaning in relation to remembered experience, learned stories, models of world and self. I have been emphasising the sensory, because philosophy tends to neglect it's importance, and because my claim is that it is prior to what one might call the inner life, because all these stories, including the one we are building here, must enter through the senses.unenlightened

    I agree that all of the stories enter through the senses, but don't you think that there is a part of consciousness which is not a story? What about instinct and intuition? Things come to consciousness through these sources, and I don't think that this is a story, nor do I think that what comes to consciousness from intuition and instinct, comes through the senses.

    Let's go back to the difference between a simple reaction, and a creative response. If all aspects of consciousness were simply reactions to what the senses were perceiving, there'd be no creative element. So we can appeal to that inner element, instinct and intuition, to account for creativity within responses. My question is, why would you give priority to the stuff which enters through your senses, over the inner element, when the inner element must give us the capacity to make sense of what enters through the senses?

    It is nonsense if it does not accord with the senses. If it does not accord with other stories we might have heard, then it might be that those stories don't quite make sense. So if it is non-story, I don't mind too much, but if it is non-sense I'm in trouble. So immediately, most of my senses slot easily into a story of my familiar home my laptop, my favourite site, and my focus is on this new post that is trickling out as I type. All the background readily 'fits' the story of my life - the story makes sense of the senses. Where I have to pay attention, is to making sure if I can that the story I am telling of the nature of consciousness also makes sense of the senses.unenlightened

    Here is the issue, expressed in this passage here. If you could not make sense of what your senses are doing, what they're giving to you, all of your sensations would be nonsense. And it is the inner world, of instinct and intuition which allows for that making sense. Of course we find out that the more we make sense of things, the more capable we become at making sense of things, and this is very evident in "the stories", where we increasingly learn to understand the language, as we learn the language. But I think that there must first be an inner capacity to make sense of things, and this inner capacity allows us to construct things from what we perceive with the senses. That is why I would rather place the "inner" aspect of consciousness as prior to the sensing aspect.

    All day long, I'm seeing, hearing, touching, etc, and importantly, acting -typing, walking, carrying, eating, etc. At the end of the day, I seek out a place that is dark, quiet, and lie down for preference on something soft enough that I can hardly feel my own weight. And just to be on the safe side, I close my eyes. Then, if the stories don't insist on telling themselves, I go to sleep.unenlightened

    See, even here you speak of the stories "telling themselves", and this is the creative role of the inner element of consciousness. It's very evident in dreaming. This type of thing, dreaming, calls into doubt the idea of the priority of the sensory experience. Yes, it is very true that the inner element makes use of sensory input in this dreaming, but this is from memory, and the inner aspect is actively creating a world, without the active sensory input. Now dreaming itself is not actually consciousness, but the inner activity which is responsible for dreaming may be prior to the sensory activity, only producing consciousness when the two are united.

    This is all relevant to your notion of "present", and my question of where is the future. I find that I can only relate to the future through the inner element of creativity. I have no relation to the future through my sensory experience. I must be creative with my memories of sensations, in order to construct a future.
  • JJJJS
    206
    Now it is fairly uncontroversial to say that the external world - the coffee, the armchair, etc is not conscious, not the location of awareness, but only the content, the provocation.

    It is rather more radical though to claim that the internal world, memories, models, thoughts, are not conscious either, but are also only more contents and provocations.
    unenlightened

    The internal world prevents one from being awake, it is akin to dreaming.
  • JJJJS
    206
    Now dreaming itself is not actually consciousness, but the inner activity which is responsible for dreaming may be prior to the sensory activity, only producing consciousness when the two are united.Metaphysician Undercover

    Most dreaming is the result of disorder in the brain, and disorder comes from the ego
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    3.9k

    Dreaming is a disorder? I thought it was completely normal and necessary.
  • unenlightened
    2.3k
    I agree that all of the stories enter through the senses, but don't you think that there is a part of consciousness which is not a story? What about instinct and intuition? Things come to consciousness through these sources, and I don't think that this is a story, nor do I think that what comes to consciousness from intuition and instinct, comes through the senses.Metaphysician Undercover

    Well yes I do. There is a point at which I step back from scientism, and even philosophism, and resort to mysticism. One might say that the whole human, as a general form that has this connection to the world through senses and a propensity and capacity to form narratives from the interactions of memory and senses, comes from the 'static' (in relation to the individual) memory of DNA, an evolutionary memory. So the first story is written in the body and brain, and tells the story of the story-teller. That is instinct and intuition as I see them, and nothing mystical there.

    But I think that there must first be an inner capacity to make sense of things, and this inner capacity allows us to construct things from what we perceive with the senses. That is why I would rather place the "inner" aspect of consciousness as prior to the sensing aspect.Metaphysician Undercover

    It is when you use the words 'capacity', 'freedom', and 'creativity' that I start to reach my mystical singularity, where stories must end as explanations, and where they come from. Everything one can know, everything one can grasp, everything that makes sense, comes from the past, and this is the physicalist story that is all stories - almost. But we know, as part of that story, that the past is inadequate to the future; we know too that the emptiness of the vacuum is seething with activity.

    So there is a capacity, an emptiness, that is capable of originating the new at any moment, and there can be no explanation of it, because an explanation would relate it to the past and it is new, original. Not the capacity is new, it is always there, but what comes from it comes from nothing, and that is what makes it original and creative. It is not thought, not memory, not sensation, though it functions through all of these. Let's call it 'consciousness', as it appears in humans.
  • JJJJS
    206

    No the I is the nexus of disorder, dreaming is the brain's attempt at rectification of this disorder
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    3.9k
    No the I is the nexus of disorder, dreaming is the brain's attempt at rectification of this disorderJJJJS

    Aren't "nexus" and "disorder" mutually exclusive, making this statement contradictory?
  • JJJJS
    206
    I mean nexus as in the centre of something
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    3.9k

    So how would disorder have a centre?
  • JJJJS
    206

    The centre of disorder is the I
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    3.9k
    It is when you use the words 'capacity', 'freedom', and 'creativity' that I start to reach my mystical singularity, where stories must end as explanations, and where they come from. Everything one can know, everything one can grasp, everything that makes sense, comes from the past, and this is the physicalist story that is all stories - almost. But we know, as part of that story, that the past is inadequate to the future; we know too that the emptiness of the vacuum is seething with activity.

    So there is a capacity, an emptiness, that is capable of originating the new at any moment, and there can be no explanation of it, because an explanation would relate it to the past and it is new, original. Not the capacity is new, it is always there, but what comes from it comes from nothing, and that is what makes it original and creative. It is not thought, not memory, not sensation, though it functions through all of these. Let's call it 'consciousness', as it appears in humans.
    unenlightened

    Let me explore this "mystical singularity", will you? Consider the word "original". Something original, as you use the word, is something new, created, something which comes from nothing. Also, there is another sense of "original" which signifies going back to the beginning, the very first. Do you see, that despite very different meanings, there is a similarity here, because they both refer to something coming from nothing, a first.

    However, "original" in the sense that you used it isn't really something coming from nothing, because creating something new is a matter of turning to the inside, the intuition and instinct, and using that part of one's consciousness to create something new. It's what you described already, the imagination. And if it's not coming from nothing, it's coming from that evolutionary memory within, what you referred to as DNA. So this directs us back toward "original" in the sense of the very first. In a way then, to create something "original", to be productive in this way, to produce something out of nothing, is to turn toward "the original", which is the coming into being of life and DNA in the first place.

    But this idea of a first, a something coming from nothing seems rather repugnant to me. It seems unreasonable to me, to think that something could come from nothing. That's why when you described being creative, and original, as producing something from nothing, I turned to the inner instinct and intuition, imagination, to say that it didn't really come from nothing. So when I turn to the evolutionary memory, the DNA, and think about the first, the original life on earth, I don't think of this as something coming from nothing.

    The centre of disorder is the IJJJJS

    But how could there be a centre of disorder? Only specific ordered forms actually have a centre. Disorder could not have a centre, and to refer to a centre is to say that it isn't really disorder. So it would be contradictory to say that disorder has a centre because giving it a centre is to give it some order.

    Can we separate the I from the apparent "disorder" which surrounds it? The I is not part of the disorder then, it is a little piece of self-determined order in the midst of disorder. Since it is surrounded by disorder, it apprehends itself as in "the centre". But isn't this a kind of delusion, to apprehend oneself as the centre?
  • JJJJS
    206
    But isn't this a kind of delusion, to apprehend oneself as the centre?Metaphysician Undercover

    Yeah it is, hence the inherent disorder
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    3.9k

    But the disorder is not in the "I", which is the self-determined "order", it surrounds the "I". The delusion is in thinking that the I is the centre of the disorder. It is delusional to think of the I as part of the disorder, as its centre, because this is to claim that the disorder has an order (a centre).
  • JJJJS
    206
    But the disorder is not in the "I", which is the self-determined "order", it surrounds the "I".Metaphysician Undercover

    The I being self-determined sounds like a contradiction..
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    3.9k

    It's not the "I" which is self-determined, but the order is self-determined by the I. Have you never thought that the reason you are an orderly person is because you order yourself? It might be contrary to what you believe, but I don't see how that it is contradictory.
  • JJJJS
    206
    It's not myself that brings order; that would be intelligence.
  • unenlightened
    2.3k
    But this idea of a first, a something coming from nothing seems rather repugnant to me. It seems unreasonable to me, to think that something could come from nothing. That's why when you described being creative, and original, as producing something from nothing, I turned to the inner instinct and intuition, imagination, to say that it didn't really come from nothing. So when I turn to the evolutionary memory, the DNA, and think about the first, the original life on earth, I don't think of this as something coming from nothing.Metaphysician Undercover

    It is certainly an odd notion I have, but there is a logic that I find persuasive. If something 'comes from' somewhere, it is not new, but merely a rearrangement and continuation of the old; this is the dictatorship of the reasonable, and it governs much of our lives, and much of the universe. But if that is all there is, then it seems to me there can be no freedom, one is reduced to a cog in the deterministic machine. DNA arises from the shuffling of the molecular cards, man arises from the shuffling of the genetic cards, and the theory of relativity arises from the shuffling of the conceptual cards. It leaves consciousness without any function, because choice and decision has to presume freedom.

    So it seems to me that even if it is not true, the story we tell of ourselves must necessarily include our freedom, and freedom means unconditioned by the past, just as determined means determined by the past. It's curious how a discussion of consciousness involves these other philosophical strands of time and determinism...
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