• Wayfarer
    6k
    At that moment, quite possibly.
  • wellwisher
    76


    There is more than one way to see clearly. Say you were in the forest that is dense with trees. You can see the close things clearly, but it will be hard to see the forest because of the trees. One will need assumptions to extrapolate the nature of the forest, based on the clearly seen local flora.

    Say instead you were up on a high ridge, overlooking the same forest. Now you can clearly see the transitions in the entire forest in terms of basic flora, streams, and hills. However, you are too far away to see any particular tree. Again you may will need use assumptions to extrapolate the big picture down to the smaller picture.

    Science and most forms of knowledge are specialized, meaning they can see things clearly, that are close, but not far away. The biologists may not know what the physicists is doing nor the physicists know what the chemists is doing with the same clarity. Specialization does not allow the view on the ridge. From the ridge, one can see how all these isolated specialties, are part of a single larger clarity; forest.

    The omniscience nature of the concept of God, allows him to zoom in or zoom out to view clarity from any distance. There is no need to extrapolate with concepts. Science and human knowledge, by being specialized, can't see very far beyond its own area of specialty. However, each zone of specialty attempts to extrapolate beyond itself, where it has no clear vision.
  • wellwisher
    76
    Here is an analysis I developed a few years back to show the impact of specialization clarity, on large scale clarity.

    Picture a large puzzle the size of wall. This is symbolic of all of knowledge. What I am going to do is use a telephoto lens and zoom into the puzzle, so all I can see is one puzzle piece. This is specialization. From this close, we can examine that one piece of the puzzle and see many tiny details. Among the details, we see what appears to be the eye of a young women. There is strained anguish in her eye. We know that much with certainty, but we don't have enough data to know what the entire puzzle is about. We can only guess.

    Next, we zoom out so more pieces of the puzzle appear. We learn the ways of other adjacent specialty to gain their clarity of data. Now we can see the whole young female, and she appears to be dressed in a worn workout suit. Based on the old and new details, we extrapolate and infer that the puzzle is about a poor young woman, struggling in her humble surroundings. This is reasonable.

    Next, we zoom out even more and now we see what appears to be a gymnasium. Based on this larger picture, we decide we need to change our extrapolation, Now, the puzzle is about a young woman who is working out in the gym. Now it is not clear if she is poor or not. But she seems to be having a hard time maybe due to being out of shape.

    We zoom out even further to add more details, from more distant areas of specialty, and notice she is not alone, but there are other females in various stags of stretching and movement. Now they all appear to be dancers. Based on this even wider picture, we again need to change the extrapolation. The puzzle is now about a bunch of women trying out for a small local dance company. Our original female is still struggling. That did not change.

    We zoom out even further, by integrating the details of the most distant specialities and notice this is not just a gym, but it is the stage used by the NYC ballet. We also see the coach is directing his attention to the young female we first noticed. She is the prima ballerina, who is straining to be perfect.

    Specialization does not extrapolate reliably to the large picture. You need to be more of a generalists who is able to zoom out and take it a wider range of clarity, at the same time. From the big picture, the specialty details, can take on new meaning.
  • Pattern-chaser
    66
    "[Nietzsche] thought that love of systems was a human weakness and that the stronger one’s character, the less one would need and the less attracted one would be to a system. Nietzsche holds that if God were to exist, he would not, contrary to eighteenth-century views, be a master geometer with a universal system of the world. He would see each thing clearly as precisely that which it is and nothing else, and he would not need to use a concept to catch it and reduce it to something else he already knows. Humans are not gods, of course, and so they cannot attain this state, but that is a failing, not an advantage that they have, nor is it anything to be especially proud of or pleased with oneself for having produced." (Geuss, Changing the Subject)

    While I am no theist, I find something very beautiful about the idea of 'seeing each thing clearly as precisely that which it is', and I think it's entirely fair to say that there's a kind of divinity involved in any attempt to do just that.
    StreetlightX

    Yes, seeing 'that which is', exactly as it is, is Objectivity, I think. It is something only God can or could do. [Unless anyone knows of another being, real or imaginary, capable of perceiving 'that which is'?] The only useful part of this - and it really is useful - is that it describes clearly a shortcoming of human beings, and the way we can perceive the world. It's too easy and too tempting to pretend that we can see or understand more than we really can. Reminders such as this keep us grounded. :up: :smile:
  • Pattern-chaser
    66
    Specialization does not extrapolate reliably to the large picture. You need to be more of a generalists who is able to zoom out and take it a wider range of clarity, at the same time. From the big picture, the specialty details, can take on new meaning.wellwisher

    Although you use terms like specialisation and generalisation, aren't you just discussing abstraction here? (I mean "abstraction" in the sense that a software designer would use it.)
  • T Clark
    3k
    So the OP is balderdash in striving for some superiority of "direct perception" over "systematising conception". That is not how things work either psychologically or metaphysically.

    The general and the particular are both forms of conception used to framed our acts of perception. We don't just zero in on differences, but differences we believe make a difference. So a lack of sameness, the existence of individuation, is a judgement that depends on a prevailing generalisation about what should mostly be the case, and hence what now stands out as a significant difference, not a difference we would merely ignore.
    apokrisis

    I'm not sure to what extent humans can directly perceive the world. That certainly seems to be the goal of some philosophies. Be that as it may, it doesn't change the fact that there is a world out there that isn't systematized, where humans have not made distinctions. As you say, what matters to us in perception is differences we believe make a difference. That's a human thing, a statement of value. It doesn't say anything about the underlying nature of reality. Believing human distinctions have meaning beyond humans is not justified.

    I'm not sure if that disagrees with you or not.
  • T Clark
    3k
    You don't think that it is interesting that we use the word "see" in such a context considering that we are visual creatures that receive most of the information about the world via light and therefore tend to think that the world is the way that it appears to our eyes?Harry Hindu

    I think you're right - humans are visual. That's probably why we say "see." "See" is often used as a synonym for "understand." I don't see why you can't see that.

    What are ALL the ways that something can be experienced?Harry Hindu

    Hearing, touch, smell, taste. Any way that humans get signals from the outside world. But that input, just like the world itself, would be undifferentiated.
  • T Clark
    3k
    The omniscience nature of the concept of God, allows him to zoom in or zoom out to view clarity from any distance. There is no need to extrapolate with concepts. Science and human knowledge, by being specialized, can't see very far beyond its own area of specialty. However, each zone of specialty attempts to extrapolate beyond itself, where it has no clear vision.wellwisher

    I like the way you've formulated this discussion in this and the following posts, but what you are doing is still making distinctions, applying systems. You're still depending on conceptualization at each level.
  • T Clark
    3k
    Yes, seeing 'that which is', exactly as it is, is Objectivity, I think. It is something only God can or could do.Pattern-chaser

    I don't think it's objectivity in the way we usually use the word. Objectivity means comparing a statement to "reality." Reality and everything in it are parts of a system, a conceptualization. Mapping our words onto reality is conceptualization.
  • schopenhauer1
    1.8k

    Isn't this just "thing-in-itself"?
  • TogetherTurtle
    41
    I think that the basic flaw in this argument is assuming that a god would even perceive the world in a way we could put into words. A god is all powerful, and it can never be known how it thinks. No explanation can be correct because we simply exist on a lower level to them, similar to how we are on a higher level to our pets or insects. The only thing that will make us understand a god is evolution of our own mind. How I see it, there are two types of gods, the type that exists outside of the universe, made up of things we can't even imagine, and the type that exists inside of the universe, made of something we can identify, and not bound to the rules of the universe because it has the power to change them at a whim. The inside universe god is the only one we could truly understand eventually.
  • apokrisis
    3.9k
    I'm not sure if that disagrees with you or not.T Clark

    My point was that any perception of things inevitably requires the context of systematising thought. So to pose God as an ideal observer who would "see each thing clearly as precisely that which it is and nothing else, and he would not need to use a concept to catch it and reduce it to something else he already knows," is just a bit of silly propaganda.

    An observer is already the taking of some viewpoint. It is an inherently conceptual act in that you choose some place that sets you apart from whatever it is. Perception is thus active and not passive. The self, as a carefully positioned observer, is being constructed in a fashion to produce a distinction which is then the observed observable. A distinction is being produced by an act of framing. To see anything as individual requires this act of contextualised individuation - a positioning of the observer (physically, mentally, conceptually) in a fashion that makes it so.

    This is the point of semiosis. The mind produces the sign of the thing-in-itself to construct a "world" - an umwelt. So any reality - if the word has a useful meaning - is embodied in this triadic relation. It is observerhood - the forming of individuated points of view - that constructs a world of observables.

    This semiotic view of course seems to raise difficulties. A human conception of the world is linguistically structured. Through physics and metaphysics, we create umwelts that are even mathematically systematic. We impose an intelligible logical structure on a world of observables. We see a nature ruled by laws or principles - and it works.

    By moving up a level - away from the world as seen from the point of view of scattered individuals at a certain highly atypical moment in the Universe's history, what we would call "life on Earth" - we can construct the kind of "all seeing/objective" scientific observer that takes a universalised view of the observable. We become minds reading off the facts of reality spelt out in numbers and measurements.

    So we already know how how a more God-like perspective works. If we want to construct the objective view from nowhere - the observer that stands outside the observable which is the entirety of creation revealed - then it is going to wind up the utterly systematised view. Everything is going to be reduced to a pattern of marks, a set of symbols standing for acts of measurement, a collection of numbers read of dials.

    To speak of God seeing things as they really are is codswallop. Does He see the green of the grass like us? Or does He see the electromagnetic radiation with a certain countable frequency? What does He actually see - be specific.

    Either his perception is pseudo-human, but imagined happening everywhere at once in omniscient fashion. He can see inside our bodies to witness the redness of our pulsating heart - even though no light penetrates to illuminate the hue. Or He is a super-scientist who has the measure of every distinction.

    Somehow we imagine Him as being present everywhere to notice every distinctive event - every thermalising exchange of energy or information. And He really sees it as He - from his chosen vantage point that places him as the observer, the steady context - can record it as the mark of a difference ... that makes a difference ... to Him .... as He is the one holding steady ... and it moved, or changed, or reacted, within the systematised reference frame that He embodies.

    It doesn't work. You can't have a God with a direct and unmediated perception of His own reality. The de-systematised view. Naked distinctions can't exist. The very thing of "a view" requires the conceptual frame that is reading the world as a system of meaningful signs. An observer is an act of constructing a locus of stability - a point of view - that can then reveal surround instabilities as differences that make a difference ... to that supposedly stable point of view.

    Again, the hypothesis was: He would "see each thing clearly as precisely that which it is and nothing else, and he would not need to use a concept to catch it and reduce it to something else he already knows."

    That is a screamingly stupid sentence. It goes against everything we understand about the psychology of perception and consciousness. Why would anyone want to romanticise it as the proper way to do philosophy?

    Philosophy wants literally to lose itself in everything that is heterogeneous to it, without bringing it back to ready-made categories. It would like to nestle in close to what it isn’t ... Its aim is undiminished kenosis, self-emptying. — Adorno

    So Adorno sees that observables exist for observers. We have to construct ourselves systematically as "a point of view" to register a world as some ordered pattern of measurements, some memorable arrangement of meaningful and localised responses.

    But now this carefully constructed self wants to lose itself back in the world of things as they "just are". It wants the unreduced experience of the unsystematic observer.

    As if there are still observables without that construction of a context.

    We are back to hippies popping tabs of acid to open the doors of perception. It is that trite.
  • Janus
    5.2k
    We are back to hippies popping tabs of acid to open the doors of perception. It is that trite.apokrisis

    Ever tried it?
  • apokrisis
    3.9k
    Ever tried it?Janus
    Nope. I've avoided all mind-altering substances on the grounds my neurochemistry seems nicely functional, thank you. ;)

    I did get drunk once 40 years ago. No point doing it a second time. I drink coffee a lot. But it has zero detectable effect mostly.

    I don't say everyone has to take such a rigorous view of drug use on some kind of moral high ground. But it was a decision I had to make for myself early on - back when hippies were handing around joints and bogans were keen on getting hammered. I see it as a personal health choice. And having studied neurochemistry - of altered states indeed - LSD doesn't have any of the allure of the unknown or forbidden.

    So go ahead. Tell me what I'm missing. But I've already read all the phenomenological reports. They will do me.
  • Janus
    5.2k


    It's one thing to read about psychotropics, and another thing altogether to undergo the experience. Just saying...not recommending...
  • apokrisis
    3.9k
    You replied exactly as predicted. So you can have your sacred knowledge of the experience and I'll stick to my sacred knowledge of the cognitive neurochemistry. At the end of my life, I know which will have had more value for me personally.

    If drugs could give you greater functional clarity of mind, I might take them. But the boring conclusion is that paying attention to health and training is how you maintain any mental edge in the long term.
  • Janus
    5.2k


    You say I replied 'exactly as predicted". That is not surprising since my response is absolutely correct. Attempting to explain psychedelic experience to one who has not experienced it is like trying to describe colour to the congenitally blind. I have no doubt that undergoing such an experience could well alter, broaden or at least modify, your perspective. It can be surprising what lies unheeded in the minds of many individuals, no matter how apparently smart they might be.

    In any case, I would never recommend taking psychotropics regularly, so your objection is not really relevant. Although some people do claim that micro-dosing can give a mental and creative edge; but that is a different matter; I have no experience to speak of with that.
  • Posty McPostface
    3.5k
    In any case, I would never recommend taking psychotropics regularly, so your objection is not really relevant. Although some people do claim that micro-dosing can give a mental and creative edge; but that is a different matter; I have no experience to speak of with that.Janus

    I used to be heavily into the area of nootropics (I used to be quite active over at Longecity and the Reddit nootropic stub), and I used to micro-dose also. LSD is amazingly potent and I've researched a lot about how it affects the Default Mode Network, unlike stimulants that enhance it through altering the signal to noise ratio through phasic and tonic brain activity, think Ritalin (methylphenidate) or amphetamines. I've always preferred stimulants to microdosing LSD, due to the ego-hardening effects it has.

    It's really popular in Silicon Valley. Anyway, what I learned is that drugs don't really make you smarter or more intelligent, along with the false premise that altering one's perception itself is a benefit. It can be a benefit; but, you have to be guided and losing control over one's self for a couple of hours isn't everyone's cup of tea.

    EDIT: I also don't think that 'deconditioning' yourself is really the answer to any question, it just means a shift in perceived goals and values.
  • apokrisis
    3.9k
    Attempting to explain psychedelic experience to one who has not experienced it is like trying to describe colour to the congenitally blind.Janus

    But it works both ways. What is it like to have a mind that has never been blown? :grin:

    Or if we are talking about the advantages of things being revealed, what is it like to have a mind that understands the neurochemistry? Will you ever know what you are missing?

    We can all play these games. I say judge them on the pragmatic fruits. Which kinds of revealed truth are going to be of the most value to you over the course of a lifetime.

    And of course, I am alert to the fact that our choices of which avenues of experience to pursue are the ones that end up defining us, so shaping our feeling about the answer as to what mattered. Your drug experiences may indeed be fundamental to your resulting sense of self. They did become the invaluable part of "you being you".

    So you can't be persuaded they might be trite experiences when they are experiences integral to your ego. I respect that. It is why I say I am not making any high ground moral judgement.

    But before you came flashing out of the woodwork to defend something you hold personal and dear, I was making an argument against the romanticised story being told via conceptualisers like Adorno, who talk of shedding their systematising tendencies and romping naked and exposed in the delights of pure unanalysed nature like ... so many acid-tripping hippies.

    I still say that romanticism is as trite as can be - in the context of psychological science and pragmatic philosophy. LSD-taking is just another of those romanticised social tropes - a way to define the cool gang willing to cross the line, transcend the world as experienced by the mere normie.

    So romanticism is the general target here. Acid tripping would be a particular example of a form of perception being assimilated to the OP's romanticised conceptualisation of experiencing the world in a ... God-like! ... transcendent fashion.
  • Posty McPostface
    3.5k


    I find it rather peculiar that many college students need or want amphetamines and methylphenidate, or safer drugs like modafinil to be able to function in college settings. Do you think they actually derive benefits from those drugs given the highly competitive nature that college imposes on students or is it illusory? Sorry if this isn't the point of the thread, just was wondering.
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