• Blake Kelson
    11
    I've heard Harris discuss this on multiple occasions, he has stated that consciousness is not in your head but rather your head is in consciousness. What exactly is he trying to get at here?,
    Some sort of non local consciousness? Please care to explain.

  • wellwisher
    163
    One way to explain it, which may not be what he had in mind, is many people are the product of collective thinking. They react and respond in ways that are not spontaneous; internally generated, but via by collective thinking. In collective thinking, the personality is induced outside itself.

    This is easy to see in politics and media, where a daily song is written and before long everyone is singing along. To be cool and fit in you need to repeat the group chant. This is different from looking at the circumstances and deducting and inferring it on your own. This process has your consciousness more in your own head. It is sounds similar Buddhism.
  • 0 thru 9
    823
    Well, it seemed like Sam Harris explained it fairly well himself in that video. But one could imagine that it brings up other points not covered there. The Transpersonal movement in psychology covers aspects of it, especially Ken Wilber. I posted on a similar topic here. It seems to be a favorite topic of Eastern traditions. But some Western philosophical writings approach it. Like David Hume, writing about his idea of the mind: “What we call a mind, is nothing but a heap or collection of different perceptions, united together by certain relations, and suppos’d, tho’ falsely, to be endow’d with a perfect simplicity and identity.”

    Personally, I agree that there is much to gain from losing the self. Losing at least some of it anyway. Or rather maybe the word is loosing the self. Loosing up the claustrophobic self-identity. But it may be a balancing act. Too much self is solipsism. Having too little or no self can produce feelings that range from mild disorientation to terror. There is an article on the topic of depersonalization disorder here from Aeon.co. Perhaps it could be as Joseph Campbell said: 'The psychotic drowns in the same waters in which the mystic swims with delight.'
  • Bitter Crank
    7.8k
    What exactly is he trying to get at here?Blake Kelson

    The self is an illusion, and it is an illusion that you create. The reason that "self is an illusion" is that so much of what the brain does is not conscious. One of the things the not-conscious brain produces is the illusion that you are "in your head" and that "you" are running things. "You" are indeed running things -- after all, who else is making your body move around, type posts on this forum, drink coffee, smoke cigarettes, or whatever? It's you.

    So here is an example, right at hand.

    You do not experience your brain perceiving the characters and empty spaces on the screen, and interpreting all these weird squiggles and empty spaces as meaningful text. You are "just reading". Similarly, if you decide to type a post here, you won't experience anything about how your brain cooked up your response and sent instructions to the motor section of your brain to make your fingers move around on a keyboard. "YOU" composed it, and "YOU" typed it; but "YOU" did so mostly in the non-conscious parts of your brain (which is maybe all of your brain).

    The experience of the conscious self is likewise something your non-conscious brain created -- a piece of work we can be eternally thankful for, because otherwise -- look at all the stuff we would miss out on!
  • Blake Kelson
    11
    What I don't understand about this is how depersonalization is a more accurate depiction of reality? This 6:26, Consciousness is formed from various parts of the brain, correct? Although there is no central point your consciousness is emanating, it still originates from the brain not outside it.
  • 0 thru 9
    823
    What I don't understand about this is how depersonalization is a more accurate depiction of reality? Consciousness is formed from various parts of the brain, correct? not outside of it.Blake Kelson

    Thanks for the reply. Not necessarily saying that I understand it either! Well, the Buddha refused to talk about certain questions. For a good and helpful reason, one could say. One was somewhat relevant here: “Is the self identical with one’s body?” (or the brain or even one’s mind, I would possibly add). So I will label anything I say here as speculation, but of helpful intention. I find too much “personalization” to be unbalanced. It seems to overlook the impersonal and transpersonal aspects of life and the universe. The Buddha recommended the Golden Mean, seeking the balance of yin and yang. Therefore in life, one can seek a balance of self and non-self, of the personal and the non-personal.

    The self can be thought of as a “useful fiction”. For instance, the movie The Terminator is fictional, never happened... and hopefully never will. :cool: But it is an excellent movie, both exciting and thoughtful at the same time, imho. As a movie, it exists. And strangely, is more widely known than you or I, who are real people. As the koan goes... what did your face look like before your parents were born?
  • raza
    704
    What I don't understand about this is how depersonalization is a more accurate depiction of reality? This 6:26, Consciousness is formed from various parts of the brain, correct? Although there is no central point your consciousness is emanating, it still originates from the brain not outside itBlake Kelson

    The "brain" sees a tree. Is the tree "outside" of the brain?
  • Blake Kelson
    11
    Interesting, I believe so though yes, not to put words in his mouth, I think Harris would likely say the same so it's probably not the point of view he's espousing.
  • raza
    704
    The "brain" sees a tree. Is the tree "outside" of the brain?

    Interesting, I believe so though yes, I also think Harris would likely say the same so it's unlikely the world view he's espousing.Blake Kelson

    So the tree is arising WITHIN consciousness but is "outside" the brain?
  • Blake Kelson
    11
    I'm not an expert on how consciousness functions but yes I believe the outside world such as a tree exists independently from my own awareness of it.
  • raza
    704
    I'm not an expert on how consciousness functions but yes I believe the outside world such as a tree exists independently from my own awareness of it.Blake Kelson

    But the tree is "in" consciousness.

    And yet, as you stated:

    "Consciousness is formed from various parts of the brain, correct? Although there is no central point your consciousness is emanating, it still originates from the brain not outside it"

    If the tree is not "in" consciousness, then where is it?

    Is it "outside" consciousness, while given that, apparently, "it (consciousness) still originates from the brain not outside it"?
  • Blake Kelson
    11
    I think we need to get our definitions straight otherwise this will go nowhere. Like I said I'm no expert but I would go with the definition that consciousness is the ability to be aware of the external environment. That ability appears to be produced by parts of the brain. The tree is in the external environment.
  • Hanover
    4.6k
    The self is an illusion, and it is an illusion that you create.Bitter Crank

    Isn't "you" synonymous with "your self" in this sentence, making it self contradictory?
  • wellwisher
    163
    Let me give an example of the mass mind, where one's mind exist outside themselves. As an experiment, look at fashions from past eras, such as the polyester leisure suits of the disco era of the late 1970's.

    These fashions look odd and funny, yet in its day this was considered state of the art. The funny reaction you may feel looking at these pictures comes from within you. Whereas, the trend of that day was formed outside of people, until many felt the need to move with the herd, to be in style and to be on the cutting edge. If you follow the herd, it thinks for you. You are not a self, but part of something outside you. That is part of the illusion factor.

    The illusion factor is temporary and wears out with time. It needs to reboot itself. The inner self is based on natural instinct which is always the same, at least over a lifetime. It might choose classic styles that transcend generations.

    The Conservative and the Progressive differ by long standing traditions versus novelty traditions. The Conservative think in terms of self reliance; inner self, whereas the Progression thinks isn terms of its takes a village; outer self.
  • raza
    704
    I think we need to get our definitions straight otherwise this will go nowhere. Like I said I'm no expert but I would go with the definition that consciousness is the ability to be aware of the external environment. That ability appears to be produced by parts of the brain. The tree is in the external environmentBlake Kelson

    Although definitions aren’t reality. Definitions a mere symbols. Definitions are only for the convenience of speech.

    In effect there is no “external” environment. We, the process we are, arise WITHIN environment.

    And where does environment even begin or end?

    Technically “environment” has no edge therefore cannot be defined as a thingor defined area.

    Technically, therefore, “environment” is Consciousness within which every phenomena arises.

    We, our “brains”, must therefore arise WITHIN consciousness rather than being organs which PRODUCE consciousness.

    We, some electrical process, do not produce consciousness but rather merely PERCIEVES consciousness in a particular electrical manner.

    This particular human electrical process, the “brain”, is only evident as the perception that it is.
    .
  • Blake Kelson
    11
    Like I said "Otherwise this will go nowhere" yep that's correct I wanted to make this conversation more convenient, only? communication is very important on a philosophy forum.
  • Bitter Crank
    7.8k
    No, I wasn't clear. You and your self are synonymous. What is illusory is that the conscious self is an illusion created by the not conscious brain, which is also "you". The conscious self is an illusion or, or perhaps it is clearer to say the conscious mind is emergent from the non-conscious mind.

    Presumably it is the non-conscious brain which takes the advice of the Delphic Oracle to "know thy self". To the extent that the emergent conscious mind is a good representative illusion of the non-conscious mind, we can be fairly certain that the non-conscious mind doesn't know the complex self it is, unless it works at it.

    There is continuity between the non-conscious mind and the illusory conscious mind. The non-conscious mind will be as graceful, clear, and kind as the illusion it creates, and it will be as totally fucked up if that's how one's illusory self comes across.
  • 0 thru 9
    823
    While looking for more Sam Harris videos, found this movie which is in two parts. Haven’t watched it all, but looks interesting and well-made.







    And a classic nugget from Alan Watts. Always loved the title of his book “Myself: A Case of Mistaken Identity”. Toward the end of this video, he has an interesting aside about different kinds of space travel, relative to the self.
  • Blake Kelson
    11
    Thanks a lot for posting this here, interesting.
  • raza
    704
    Like I said "Otherwise this will go nowhere" yep that's correct I wanted to make this conversation more convenient, only? communication is very important on a philosophy forum.Blake Kelson

    If it is only about convenience then questioning is sort of irrelevant. One may as well just conclude what merely APPEARS to be the case.

    For convenience, therefore, one may as well conclude that our skulls are just like a building and our eyes are merely windows of the building from which we look through to see the "outside" world, and maybe even a tree.

    There. See how convenient it is just to believe only in your sensory perception? Not even any need for the inconvenience of science let alone logical thought.
  • praxis
    1.3k
    I think we need to get our definitions straight otherwise this will go nowhere. Like I said I'm no expert but I would go with the definition that consciousness is the ability to be aware of the external environment. That ability appears to be produced by parts of the brain. The tree is in the external environment.Blake Kelson

    This suggests that everything a tree is exists in the external environment, including the concept of a tree and everything that a tree means to a human being. Is that what you believe?
  • Mtherapist67
    8
    Pure non dualism..... there is no separate self that creates the illusion of a separate self. There is no self, only what is or boundless energy.
  • luckswallowsall
    46
    The best way I understand it is the self is the little mental agent that you think you can control. It's connected to the illusion of free will, for me. I stopped believing in free will for years but the illusion was still there (or, more accurately, I thought it was). But as soon as that was gone I stopped trying to control my thoughts and ever since it's felt like living my life is like watching some sort of movie. Truly feeling like there is no free will, rather than merely not believing in it is, ironically, really freeing.

    In my experience, the experience of the self and the experience of free will is the same thing. Or rather, the delusion that you experience it. There is no self to have a sense of. That's the point. You think you feel something that you don't. You might not call it that. But once the belief has gone you realize you never had it in the first place, you just thought you did.

    You won't really know what I'm talking about until you lose it, as far as I'm concerned. Once the Buddha reaches enlightenment he realizes that it feels like he had enlightenment all along except before he didn't know it and didn't see it. You gain enlightenment only when you stop craving it.

    You'll only really know what it is when you've experienced the alternative. I strongly think that losing your sense of self is basically this:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Choiceless_awareness

    Which, believe me, is much much deeper than merely intellectually recognizing that there is no free will. It's when the phenomenology matches the intellect. That's the key.

    And, by the way, I was just as confused about what Sam Harris was rattling on about as you are, until it happened. And boy is it great. Living without anxiety, basically. And not caring one iota about the past or future apart from when it helps you get through the day (I still pay my bills before their due date, I just don't worry about it anymore).

    And, from what I see of Sam Harris ... he is still struggling a lot when it comes to egolessness. Just look at his relationship to Twitter. He's an intermediate at best!
  • Fooloso4
    622
    Claims that the self is an illusion typically amount to the claim that our concepts of self are problematic, that the picture one might have of the self is wrong. If, however, consciousness is subjective and experiential then there must be someone, some subject, who experiences, that is, a self.

    One problem that I see is with the claim at the beginning of the video that consciousness is "irreducibly subjective". It may be that the subjective state of consciousness "what its like to be you" is not what it is to be conscious, but rather is itself only a part of or result of being conscious. Claiming the consciousness cannot be reduced to physiological activity, information processing, neurotransmitters, states of the brain, etc., because of "qualitative experience" stacks the deck, it creates unbridgeable gap that can only be solved by some form of dualism. The measurement of brain states is like measuring quantum events with a yardstick. We simply do not know enough about what is going on in the body to state with any certainty that consciousness is not something that is going on in the body, that is, at least in principle explicable in terms of and reproducible in a sufficiently complex physical system.
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