• schopenhauer1
    2.2k
    Some people in both the idealist and the materialist camp (in much different fashions) want to claim that first person consciousness is an "illusion" of some sort. Is using the term "illusion" just another term for the "mind" and this "illusion" still has to be accounted for or can the concept of illusion have its cake and eat it too? In other words, can illusion really claim that the mind only "feels" like it exists, but does not really and that's the end of the story or does the "feels like" phenomena of illusion still have to be accounted for in some way?
  • Bitter Crank
    6.7k
    Is there any way we can determine whether the mind is an illusion or not, and is there any way to tell whether "feels like" is or is not representative of something that exists?

    I don't know whether we can determine such things, or not. If we can not, which seems to be the case so far, then it really isn't arguable. We'll just be going around in circles.

    IF it is an illusion, its an enduring and ancient trick which continues to be very convincing. It seems like there must be some organic mechanism which produces either the mind, or the illusion of the mind. It's presumably somewhere in the brain, or maybe in many places in the brain. But such speculation doesn't answer the question, "If so, where the hell is it?"

    Further research, time in other words, will tell. If in 25, 50, or 100 years we haven't found the locus of mind, then we might have to settle for illusion, or worse, what is to me totally unpalatable, that mind doesn't exist in the brain at all, but elsewhere.
  • darthbarracuda
    2.9k
    In other words, can illusion really claim that the mind only "feels" like it exists, but does not really and that's the end of the story or does the "feels like" phenomena of illusion still have to be accounted for in some way?schopenhauer1

    Yes, or so they claim. The feel-like qualia of the mind still needs to be accounted for. But I'm not entirely convinced that we can reduce qualia to something non-qualitative. For something to be non-qualitative, we need to have a concept of what a qualitative thing is. There needs to be a flaw in the very concept of qualia to be able to eliminate or reduce it to something non-qualitative

    For example, we can clearly imagine something supernatural happening. Thus, everything we see not supernatural we dub natural. But we also know of qualitative things, and to say that everything is non-qualitative would require us to ignore the very reasoning process used to come to terms with the concept of qualia, unlike in the supernatural/natural example. It would be self-defeating to say qualia is actually not qualitative at all.

    The position most familiar to me regarding the elimination/reduction of the mind would be eliminative materialism. As far as I have seen, eliminative materialists tend to be very bold and passionate, and everyone else is like "eh okay then".

    That being said:

    Some people in both the idealist and the materialist camp (in much different fashions) want to claim that first person consciousness is an "illusion" of some sort.schopenhauer1

    I would like to know who is claiming this.
  • unenlightened
    2.8k
    I'm with Descartes on this one; that one can be deceived about anything and everything, except that there is a subject of deception. That said, I would also suggest that one commonly is deceived into identifying the subject as something distinct from other 'thinking things', rather than as no-thing, having no characteristics bar emptiness, which implies that it is not individual or personal.
  • schopenhauer1
    2.2k
    I'm with Descartes on this one; that one can be deceived about anything and everything, except that there is a subject of deception. That said, I would also suggest that one commonly is deceived into identifying the subject as something distinct from other 'thinking things', rather than as no-thing, having no characteristics bar emptiness, which implies that it is not individual or personal.unenlightened

    Yeah, but you don't "get" it man..we are all one with no separate minds and you are living in an illusion. I'm not even saying this right now.

    Oh wait, at the end there it looks like you do "get" it. Here's the thing, even if consciousness is mirage-like, this mirage "exists" in some way, even if the origins of the consciousness is somehow descriptively from something else. What's funny about Dennett's position is he seems to go into painstaking detail to say he is not committing the homunculus fallacy but then does so by saying the mind is an illusion. Why? Because the illusion has to subside somewhere. Explaining the "actual" origins of the illusion, and ways in which it "we" are fooled, means that all these tricks and mirages are happening "somewhere" and that implies that there is a projector of mind where the illusion is playing out and that is the homnuclus fallacy. The illusion itself has to be accounted for as something that "feels like" it is happening.
  • unenlightened
    2.8k
    The illusion itself has to be accounted for as something that "feels like" it is happening.schopenhauer1

    Indeed! At least to the extent that one is doing the accounts. I rather think that one is better off attacking the question than trying to answer it. Much as I dislike qualia-talk as the atomic theory of consciousness, the denial thereof is even more uncomfortable.

    To ask what is consciousness is close to asking what is what-ness. One might say that consciousness is identical with its content - I am the world. And if it was something other than its content, how would one know ? But this is going to lead to foolishness too. As if what-ness is whatever one rightly answers a 'what' question with.

    But in this case, the right answer, I believe, is 'fuck off with your meaningless question'. No thing, but not nothing. But I haven't the energy today to do the full Wittgensteinian exposition.
  • schopenhauer1
    2.2k
    But in this case, the right answer, I believe, is 'fuck off with your meaningless question'. No thing, but not nothing. But I haven't the energy today to do the full Wittgensteinian exposition.unenlightened

    Please do. Tell us how the question itself in nonsense. I see it as a conundrum and a head scratcher, but meaningless, not as much. We are referring to something quite readily available to us. In fact, it can be argued the most intimate thing as it is the very "you" that all other things become some-thing.
  • unenlightened
    2.8k
    In fact, it can be argued the most intimate thing as it is the very "you" that all other things become some-thing.schopenhauer1

    Not just all other things, but 'the very "you"' itself as well. In which voice one objectifies subjectivity, making consciousness an intimate thing. (Mumbles something about beetles in boxes...).

    Or I could liken it to Kant's space and time, as a condition of talking meaningfully about thing-hood and therefore necessarily no-thing itself. One can talk of time being an illusion as well, but what is one saying?
  • csalisbury
    1.4k

    It strikes me that there's a difference between the "I" that we might speak of as a transcendental condition, and the voice that one speaks in. Neither are 'things,' but there's something earthy and forceful about one's voice (when one's speaking in one's own voice, which happens often for some, rarely for others) which, though not quite material, feels less immaterial than the cogito.
  • unenlightened
    2.8k
    It strikes me that there's a difference between the "I" that we might speak of as a transcendental condition, and the voice that one speaks in.csalisbury

    I hope I am understanding you here?

    I would say that the voice that one speaks in is a construction of thought; of identification; an earthy, forceful illusion. Consider what one's condition is when there is no thought. Perhaps one has been shocked by a particularly insightful post that blocks for a moment the train of thought. There is consciousness, but it is silent. I don't know if you have experienced it?

    There is a close connection with time again here. One might say that psychological time ends, (while physical time continues of course). No one (no-thing) is awake... Psychological time is the result of identification with the past and future, giving rise to fear and hope, suffering and pleasure. This is the sense of continuing, the stream of consciousness that is indeed the narrative voice. It is wrong perhaps to call it an illusion; it is real enough and fills one's life from day to day, yet it is a fabrication of thought endlessly reacting to itself. It is not a precondition of life.
  • csalisbury
    1.4k
    'Silent' consciousness is something I experience very rarely - but it's happened to me a handful of times. Even that handful, though, is diverse. There's a peaceful silence, and there's also the silence before the storm.

    I was perhaps too vague in talking about 'voice.' There are so many different kinds of voices. The narrative voice -the story of the self, told by the self to the self, in order to maintain the self - is certainly a construction of thought. (Though what is a 'construction of thought'? I guess the most basic sense of 'construction' is the creation of a whole out of parts, in a way that that whole serves a purpose the parts alone, scattered, could never achieve. Is the narrative voice a way of collating memories of our expedient actions in such a way that the collation, topsy-turvily, is meant to explain the actions which led to its construction? To make those actions seem less expedient or ad hoc? But what constructs here, and what's constructed, and what are the rules of construction, and what's the process of construction? It seems endlessly complicated.)

    In any case, there is another voice which seems to speak through us at the same time we speak in it. I mean voice literally here, since this usually happens when speaking to another of something important to oneself. The type of talk where you find yourself saying things you never knew you actually felt or believed, but which you recognize as having felt and believed all along. I feel most like myself when talking like this, in my own voice, but it happens very rarely for me. I'm certainly not talking in my own voice right now.

    What is that voice though? It seems so different from the cogito or the transcendental subject.
  • schopenhauer1
    2.2k
    Not just all other things, but 'the very "you"' itself as well. In which voice one objectifies subjectivity, making consciousness an intimate thing. (Mumbles something about beetles in boxes...).

    Or I could liken it to Kant's space and time, as a condition of talking meaningfully about thing-hood and therefore necessarily no-thing itself. One can talk of time being an illusion as well, but what is one saying?
    unenlightened

    Ugh, Wittgenstein. It's like code for "stop philosophizing". So what if I can't point to an actual consciousness. It is the very platform for which everything is conditioned, and thus rightly, you brought in Kant's space and time. The very fact that you say, or objectify anything, including your own consciousness is because you have one. But I think it's rhetoric to say it's "no-thing".
  • csalisbury
    1.4k
    I think Un's right to call it "no-thing." I mean, I know Schop calls will the 'thing-in-itself' but he's playing off Kant. There's no sense in which the will is a 'thing.'
  • schopenhauer1
    2.2k
    No one (no-thing) is awake... Psychological time is the result of identification with the past and future, giving rise to fear and hope, suffering and pleasure. This is the sense of continuing, the stream of consciousness that is indeed the narrative voice. It is wrong perhaps to call it an illusion; it is real enough and fills one's life from day to day, yet it is a fabrication of thought endlessly reacting to itself. It is not a precondition of life.unenlightened

    So "where" is thought endlessly reacting with itself the aether? Because your "no-thing" and "nowhere" is pretty much code for that. In what way to does calling it the "no-thing" change anything?
  • schopenhauer1
    2.2k
    I think Un's right to call it "no-thing." I mean, I know Schop calls will the 'thing-in-itself' but he's playing off Kant. There's no sense in which the will is a 'thing.'csalisbury

    If that is what he means, then I would be more sympathetic with the argument, but is that what he is getting at that no-thing is similar to the "thing-in-itself"?
  • csalisbury
    1.4k
    Well, I doubt he's taking a Schopenhaueran approach, but it seems to me that Un's "no-thing" means simply that consciousness is not a 'thing.' It's not a homunculus or a pineal gland or a super-platinum soul-gem. Its a process, a verb, something that happens. It's not nothing, because it happens, but it's certainly not a thing.
  • schopenhauer1
    2.2k
    Well, I doubt he's taking a Schopenhaueran approach, but it seems to me that Un's "no-thing" means simply that consciousness is not a 'thing.' It's not a homunculus or a pineal gland or a super-platinum soul-gem. Its a process, a verb, something that happens. It's not nothing, because it happens, but it's certainly not a thing.csalisbury

    This is where I think the Wittgenstein influence probably makes people stop at a dead end. Because it is the very process which all other processes and things arise, it should somehow be considered nonsense to discuss? Also, how does this make it an illusion because it is "no-thing"?
  • Thorongil
    3.2k
    The word mind usually connotes the brain functions that give rise to consciousness. To state that it is an illusion would be to state that one is conscious that one's own consciousness is illusory, which is absurd.
  • schopenhauer1
    2.2k
    The word mind usually connotes the brain functions that give rise to consciousness. To state that it is an illusion would be to state that one is conscious that one's own consciousness is illusory, which is absurd.Thorongil

    Agreed. But, in a way, Schopenhauer claims it is an illusion (like Maya). How can it be real if there is something "that feels like it is real" even if it is not? The actual feeling like it is real is still something. Tying this back to the other thread- that is why I claim that Representation is not secondary (it does not "come from" or "derive" or "arise") from the monistic Will, but must be simply the double-aspect of Will. To claim that the Will "does" anything to itself so as to make an illusion is to anthropomorphize Will and give some sort of Neoplatonic unwarranted superstructure that one cannot fairly posit without jumping to some wildly speculative ideas.
  • Thorongil
    3.2k
    Representation is simply the result of the will's affirmation. When it affirms itself, representation results. When it denies itself, representation disappears and so can be called illusory or at the very least contingent. As to why the will affirms itself, Schopenhauer does not venture to say, preferring merely to speak of it metaphorically as the original sin. Indeed, we are trapped by the forms of knowledge and so there can be no answer to your original conundrum since we will always apply the language of time to the issue.

    I would highly recommend the chapter called Epiphilosophy, the very last one in Vol. II.
  • schopenhauer1
    2.2k
    As to why the will affirms itself, Schopenhauer does not venture to say, preferring merely to speak of it metaphorically as the original sin.Thorongil

    Will affirming itself, seems a bit magical.. just like a bunch of biological molecules interacting with the environment "giving rise" to consciousness. There is always something missing. Also, again, I can be in agreement with the will "affirming" itself, if the affirming never takes place at any "x" point but is simply the double aspect of Will. If the affirming is "after" some more primary stage, then that is suspect as there is no causality that would have a before (primary ONLY WILL) and after (WILL AND AFFIRMING OF WILL). It would have to be there from the beginning with Will. Original sin implies there was a Garden of Eden "before" this fall into time, but that cannot be the case.
  • unenlightened
    2.8k
    In any case, there is another voice which seems to speak through us at the same time we speak in it. I mean voice literally here, since this usually happens when speaking to another of something important to one. The type of talk where you find yourself saying things you never knew you actually felt or believed, but which you recognize as having felt and believed all along. I feel most like myself when talking like this, in my own voice, but it happens very rarely for me.csalisbury

    So much selves, so little consciousness. This is getting a bit off topic perhaps, but I would say that most of the time I am performing, conforming to an image that I hold onto and from that nothing new can come. But to be 'authentic' (is that the right word?) is not to make that division for a moment but to respond from the whole of what one is, and in doing so one learns - recognises -something of the truth of what one is. Unfortunately, what tends to happen is that the same process of thought immediately makes a new image of this, and one starts performing it.
  • unenlightened
    2.8k
    So "where" is thought endlessly reacting with itself the aether?schopenhauer1

    Where is where-ness is not a better question than what is what-ness, or when is when-ness. I could point to a place in your experience where your experience happens - 'the human brain'. Or more poetically I could say 'It's behind you.' Or I could simply and more usefully say it happens in thought, which is to say that it is not an event in the world. But even this is wide open to misinterpretation, because thought is a physical process; it is however not the physical process that is the content of the thought.
  • schopenhauer1
    2.2k
    Where is where-ness is not a better question than what is what-ness, or when is when-ness. I could point to a place in your experience where your experience happens - 'the human brain'. Or more poetically I could say 'It's behind you.' Or I could simply and more usefully say it happens in thought, which is to say that it is not an event in the world. But even this is wide open to misinterpretation, because thought is a physical process; it is however not the physical process that is the content of the thought.unenlightened

    Yep I agree with all this. I know you are trying to do the Witt preciseness of language and kind of make it a linguistic tangle so we can see that a real question cannot be even asked (no what-ness, where-ness)...but cutting the bullcrap, what is your answer to this besides that it is "no-thing"?
  • Thorongil
    3.2k
    If the affirming is "after" some more primary stage, then that is suspect as there is no causality that would have a before (primary ONLY WILL) and after (WILL AND AFFIRMING OF WILL).schopenhauer1

    Right, and Schopenhauer admits as much. However, consider also that the will, being outside of time, is absolutely free; in this case, free to affirm or deny itself. We only possess and understand freedom negatively, as the absence of anything that impedes or obstructs. In other words, there is no free will in the world of representation, wherein the will appears in time. Yet in itself, the will is free in a positive sense, for nothing does or can impede or obstruct it. Seeing as we are self-conscious of ourselves as will, we know the will affirms itself, but because it is absolutely free, we know it is possible to deny it as well. What does it mean to deny the will? It's not a change in the will, for the will cannot change or be destroyed. It's rather a change in knowledge. Now, from the perspective of the affirmation of the will, we are obliged to say that the will has always affirmed itself, and thereby that the world as representation has always existed. But from the perspective of the denial of the will, we are obliged to admit that representation is illusory.

    This is simply a feature of transcendental idealist philosophy. Two seemingly opposed positions might be simultaneously true depending on what perspective we take. From the perspective of time, we cannot but apply this category to all things, but from the perspective of the non-temporal, no such category exists.
  • Thorongil
    3.2k
    I would also add that Schopenhauer calls the positive freedom of the will a mystery. We cannot adequately understand it from our current perspective.
  • schopenhauer1
    2.2k
    Now, from the perspective of the affirmation of the will, we are obliged to say that the will has always affirmed itself, and thereby that the world as representation has always existed. But from the perspective of the denial of the will, we are obliged to admit that representation is illusory.

    This is simply a feature of transcendental idealist philosophy. Two seemingly opposed positions might be simultaneously true depending on what perspective we take. From the perspective of time, we cannot but apply this category to all things, but from the perspective of the non-temporal, no such category exists.
    Thorongil

    My argument was that representation "always existing" comes with it the very odd notion that there was a representing organism that was always there as there was no "time" before "time" and "time" is only recognized in a representing organism according to Schop. However, the contradiction goes away sort of, if we interpret Schop as a panpsychist and that micro-representations are around even BEFORE the first blown conscious organism, such that micro-experiences have always been occurring in force, matter, etc. Schop does say as such when he discusses force and the like, so this can be a legitimate move.

    However, if we do not make that move.. we are stuck with an ever present organism such that representation can always be in the picture. It "seems' like time happened billions of years before this organism, but the organism itself has to always be around if that is where representation "exists".

    As far as the illusion thing and denying the Will, I can understand denying the Will as an act of symbolic rebellion but as to leading to an actual metaphysical state called Nirvana where the life-denier is in some sublime state- this might be questionable. Maybe ego-death means that one just doesn't give a shit about eating, doing, being, not being..but even if ego-death exists, one's body and object/subject is still subsisting, and such, so one is still "in" the world of representation. It seems like not ego-death, but death death probably ends representation.
  • Thorongil
    3.2k
    My argument was that representation "always existing" comes with it the very odd notion that there was a representing organism that was always there as there was no "time" before "time" and "time" is only recognized in a representing organism according to Schop.schopenhauer1

    Two things: 1) there has always been a subject, we might say, but not necessarily a representing-organism, and 2) time is not recognized but supplied by this subject.
  • unenlightened
    2.8k
    what is your answer to this besides that it is "no-thing"?schopenhauer1

    'Mind is an illusion' is not a legitimate position in philosophy of mind. Or did you mean some other question?
  • schopenhauer1
    2.2k
    1) there has always been a subject, we might say, but not necessarily a representing-organismThorongil

    I'm not sure if you agreed or not but I laid out the argument earlier that there was no "before" or after in an atemporal world. I know you used words like Will is completely free in a positive sense, but either I don't understand or I don't think it actually does answer this question of how representing can "come on" the scene AFTER pure Will is on the scene. To my mind, representation is ALWAYS there along with Will (as it's flipside double-aspect) because it cannot "arise" when "arising" implies causality. Schopenhauer seems to admit to this conundrum in Book 1 section 7, and I don't think he really explains it other than it is like the myth of Kronos. It is very much one hand writing the other writing the other writing the other.. Time cannot "exist" all of a sudden, it cannot arise, it cannot just appear at some "x" time, so it has to have been there all along, which means, there has to have been an organism all along.

    time is not recognized but supplied by this subject.Thorongil

    And this "supplying" does not happen after any original state of completeness, but has to always been there doing its supplying thing in order to not create the contradiction. And again, since organisms are the ones where this subsists (at least according to section 7 in Book 1), then it is a conundrum. Csalisbury also recognized this and is having a similar discussion in the "This Old Thing" thread.
  • schopenhauer1
    2.2k
    'Mind is an illusion' is not a legitimate position in philosophy of mind. Or did you mean some other question?unenlightened

    I agree with that answer, but I guess now it has turned to this notion (influenced by Wittgenstein) that one cannot even discuss this matter because there is no "there" there.
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