• Brett
    3k
    Edit: I just realised the title should be “Is the mind a fiction?”

    We know the brain operates the legs. And we know the brain doesn’t only function in that way, that there are other things going on. We know the mind exerts itself through the brain. But we can only comprehend the mind in abstract terms, in the same way as we try to comprehend an idea.

    Everything we know springs from the mind. Democracy is no more or less an idea, or fiction, than the idea of God and heaven. That’s what we do, create fictions. That’s what the mind does. Although in science the mind claims to work from immutable laws that work when repeated and so are not random and become what we call fact. That which doesn’t gell is cast away. The human mind takes the science/technology and applies it with ideas. So a combination of technologies is applied to the development of a mobile phone, a plane or a ship.

    Of course you could say about science that it’s just some of the fictions that fit together well. So we create and develop a mobile phone from our fictions, but do we know if that’s all we created? The phone is the sum of the fictions we put together, but we don’t know what we’ve created outside of the fictions by conjoining those fictions. In reality we might have created more than a phone. We might do that with all the fictions we throw around.

    If we apply that to bigger ideas, like democracy, a fiction made up of other fiction, then is democracy all we’ve created, or are there other aspects attached to the idea that the mind created? And if so isn’t it possible that in creating fictions that fit together we’ve created something we can’t see or conceive of, something that might even be at war with itself, that might even be to our detriment.

    In fact it’s like there’s nothing there in the human mind at all. The idea, the fiction, is not the mind it’s a creation of the mind. So even the mind is a creation of the mind, another fiction.

    What exactly is going on here?
  • Echarmion
    2.2k
    In fact it’s like there’s nothing there in the human mind at all. The idea, the fiction, is not the mind it’s a creation of the mind. So even the mind is a creation of the mind, another fiction.Brett

    Not sure how that follows from in anything written above. Even if the outside world is merely a collection of fictions that happens to fit together, the same isn't necessarily true for the inside world, the self. And the obvious question is how something can create a fiction of itself. That seems contradictory.

    Applying terms like "fiction" or "illusion" to epistemic problems is often little more than rhetoric. What does it mean for the mind to be a "fiction"? What reality are we referencing to apply that label?
  • Brett
    3k


    Even if the outside world is merely a collection of fictions that happens to fit together,Echarmion

    That’s not quite what I said. The collection of fictions refers to my thoughts on technology.

    I never used the term “illusion” which is not the same as “fiction”.

    And the obvious question is how something can create a fiction of itself.Echarmion

    That’s my point. All things we think of are fictions. What else could they be? So where is the fiction of the mind coming from?

    Edit: the idea of the mind being what it is is no more a fact than the idea of God, or democracy or equality.
  • Echarmion
    2.2k
    That’s not quite what I said. The collection of fictions refers to my thoughts on technology.Brett

    Technology is just a part of the outside world. I don't quite see the distinction.

    That’s my point. All things we think of are fictions. What else could they be?Brett

    What does that even mean? It's not enough to call it a fiction. What reality are you comparing it to? If there is fiction, there has to be fact as well.
  • Brett
    3k


    Edit: the idea of the mind being what it is is no more a fact than the idea of God, or democracy or equality.Brett

    I just added that to my previous post.

    How can technology be part of the outside world? The perception and truth of the outside world has changed with our mind’s perception of things. Technology is an idea.
  • Echarmion
    2.2k
    How can technology be part of the outside world? The perception and truth of the outside world has changed with our mind’s perception of things. Technology is an idea.Brett

    What is an idea? Is every name given to some category - tree, rock, cat, computer, an idea?
  • Brett
    3k


    Would an idea disappear if two things happened: humans disappeared, or we no longer collectively believed in the idea. So the US Constituition exists because we all agree to accept it as fact, though it is obviously not a fact. It’s an agreed upon fiction.

    An idea is a fiction.
  • fishfry
    2.6k
    In fact it’s like there’s nothing there in the human mind at all. The idea, the fiction, is not the mind it’s a creation of the mind. So even the mind is a creation of the mind, another fiction.Brett

    Very thought-provoking essay.

    I do not believe the mind can be a creation of the mind. The mind is the only thing that can NOT be a creation of the mind. I believe Descartes made that point in his Meditations of 1641. He said even if everything I experience is nothing more than an illusion created by a supremely clever Deceiver; even so, there is me, asking the question. Everything may be an illusion; but not my own self. Not my own mind.

    This is something I believe. It's fashionable these days to claim the opposite, that we're programs running in a cosmic computer that has figured out how to implement an actual mind. Something we have no idea how to do because by definition, mind is subjective and is by definition not subject to science!

    Even if I'm a brain in a vat; what is the "I" that thinks I'm typing on my laptop? I have sum suck-assed vat programmers if that's the case. "Ok, let's write the script for 2020." Thanks guys.

    The "I" remains a mystery. Nobody knows how to create an "I", or even how to know if anyone else besides them has got one.

    But that's an even worse scenario. If solipsism is true and I'm the only one here, then I'm the one who cooked up 2020. This is all my fault!

    tl;dr: I believe that the mind transcends anything and everything else. I do not believe a mind can create a mind. We don't even know what a mind is or have any idea how to study it, since technically mind lies outside the realm of science, being entirely subjective. So it's the height of nonsense to say that a mind could create a mind. A lot of people believe it, but it's a category error.

    Democracy is no more or less an idea, or fiction, than the idea of God and heaven.Brett

    I wanted to mention that Searle calls this kind of thing socially constructed reality. That is, there are things that are real only by virtue of everyone agreeing that they're real. Money, cities, laws, real estate, nations, commerce. All of civilization. The Construction of Social Reality.

    Things like real estate or political parties are real. Nobody would say they're not real. But they're not real like a brick wall is real. A brick wall is a "brute fact," as Searle calls it. Democracy is a social fact. But a fact nonetheless.
  • Brett
    3k


    I do not believe the mind can be a creation of the mind.fishfry

    Thanks for your post. I made a mistake asking if the mind is a fiction of the mind, and should have asked “Is the mind a fiction?”. And a fiction of what?

    The mind is the only thing that can NOT be a creation of the mind.fishfry

    By this I guess you’re suggesting that the mind is the source, or core, of what we are. But that doesn’t do it for me because the mind is still an idea. You equate “self” and “mind” in your quote by Descartes. Are they both the same thing?

    It's fashionable these days to claim the opposite, that we're programs running in a cosmic computer that has figured out how to implement an actual mind.fishfry

    I agree that this is hard to take. You could just as easily substitute God in there.

    Something we have no idea how to do because by definition, mind is subjective and is by definition not subject to science!fishfry

    My problem is that science is an idea, a fiction, of the mind. So many ideas coalesce that add up to science. Therefore it cannot be subject to science.

    The "I" remains a mystery. Nobody knows how to create an "I", or even how to know if anyone else besides them has got one.

    But that's an even worse scenario. If solipsism is true and I'm the only one here, then I'm the one who cooked up 2020. This is all my fault!
    fishfry

    Yes, so there cannot be an “I”, true?

    There is another angle which is that our behaviour is determined by hormones, genes and synapsis, rather than free will. So there is no “I” except the one created, the fictional “I”. But that seems as random to me as the idea that science is ideas that coalesce into accepted workable patterns. It’s just like the genes, hormones and synapsis coalescing into an acceptable pattern that is not random but consistently human.
  • Brett
    3k


    I’m pushing thoughts around here.

    Ideas must have evolved over time. What an idea is itself must have evolved.
    The origins of ideas may lie in early, primitive emotions or responses. Ideas evolve in sophistication but still carry the residue of the early emotions and responses. These make our ideas unstable. But we still review the world through that instability. When we, in that unstable state, think of the mind it’s an inherently unstable idea, but we still act on it because it springs from the mind.
    These ideas are still primitive responses and unreliable fictions. But if enough of us agree on it then it’s a truth, but a fictional, unstable truth and therefore barely workable. The idea that what we think comes from the mind helps in creating a sense of stability, but it’s neither true or stable. The mind’s reflection on itself is inherently unstable and so too the ideas as a result.
  • hwyl
    87
    I believe some researchers think that the mind is an evolutionarily useful illusion created by the brain: to deal with all the myriad stimuli a kind of a user interface has emerged and proved itself to be very useful. But in actual material fact that interface rises from the various and almost random physical brain states and is entirely secondary to them. There is no coherent "I", just momentary special effects to that effect, no continuity, no real will.

    I find this bit bleak and rather a partial view - and I am no expert on the science of cognition, but I have always found the idea quite intriguing.
  • Echarmion
    2.2k
    Would an idea disappear if two things happened: humans disappeared, or we no longer collectively believed in the idea. So the US Constituition exists because we all agree to accept it as fact, though it is obviously not a fact. It’s an agreed upon fiction.

    An idea is a fiction.
    Brett

    But then would technology disappear if all humans either disappeared or stopped believing in technology? A spear would still be a spear, at least in the latter case. A spear is technology. Does it stop being technology if we stop using the word?

    Ideas must have evolved over time. What an idea is itself must have evolved.Brett

    Must they? Isn't evolution just another idea? If all ideas are fiction, then so is evolution, and the idea that ideas evolve...

    The idea that what we think comes from the mind helps in creating a sense of stability, but it’s neither true or stable. The mind’s reflection on itself is inherently unstable and so too the ideas as a result.Brett

    Yet if what we think doesn't come from the mind, where does it come from?

    By this I guess you’re suggesting that the mind is the source, or core, of what we are. But that doesn’t do it for me because the mind is still an idea. You equate “self” and “mind” in your quote by Descartes. Are they both the same thing?Brett

    I think the self is the fiction. The self isn't stable or monolithic. But the mind is real. It's the most real thing there is, since even doubt requires the mind. That's what remains of Descartes: I think, therefore something thinks thoughts that appear as mine. That something we call "mind".
  • Brett
    3k


    Ideas must have evolved over time. What an idea is itself must have evolved.
    — Brett

    Must they? Isn't evolution just another idea? If all ideas are fiction, then so is evolution, and the idea that ideas evolve...
    Echarmion

    Yes evolution is another idea. That animals have mutated overtime is not an idea. But putting these things together such that they add up to evolution is an idea.

    You might be confused by my use of fiction. If I used concept it might help. I use fiction because it better explains the idea that ideas are agreed on to become “fact”. ‘All men are equal“ is not a fact. It’s an agreed on idea, a fiction.

    You would disagree that ideas can evolve?
  • Gnomon
    2.6k
    In fact it’s like there’s nothing there in the human mind at all. The idea, the fiction, is not the mind it’s a creation of the mind. So even the mind is a creation of the mind, another fiction.Brett
    Yes, Mind is a fiction that we take to be true. The Mind that we imagine is not a physical Thing, but the name for a metaphysical process --- it's what the brain does. And one creation of the brain is a symbolic concept (idea) to represent brain function as-if it were a tangible object --- a stable thing.

    So the Mind concept is a self-reference. And if self-reference is itself reflected in thought, it becomes a hall-of-mirrors --- a paradox. Therefore, you are literally correct that "there's nothing there", it's only an intangible mental image. Ideas are not real things, but conceptual symbols about things and their operations. Oooops! This is beginning to sound like a hall-of-mirrors. :joke:

    Aboutness : Information Philosopher on Terrence Deacon's notion of "aboutness" --- " He variously defines reference as "aboutness" or "re-presentation," the semiotic or semantic relation between a sign-vehicle and its object."
    https://informationphilosopher.com/solutions/scientists/deacon/

    The Case Against Reality : http://bothandblog6.enformationism.info/page21.html
  • Echarmion
    2.2k
    You might be confused by my use of fiction. If I used concept it might help. I use fiction because it better explains the idea that ideas are agreed on to become “fact”. ‘All men are equal“ is not a fact. It’s an agreed on idea, a fiction.Brett

    Ok, that I understand.

    You would disagree that ideas can evolve?Brett

    A difficult question. The term "evolution" is thrown around a lot, and it's not always clear what is meant. If we mean an essentially unguided process by which one idea gradually turns into another based on the circumstances the people holding the idea are exposed to, then I suppose that happens. But ideas are also often "sticky", meaning that old ideas will be re-discovered again and again.

    Yes, Mind is a fiction. The Mind that we imagine is not a physical Thing, but the name for a metaphysical process --- it's what the brain does.Gnomon

    Brains are physical. If the mind is metaphysical, then how is it "what the brain does"? Is there a metaphysical brain?

    And one creation of the brain is a symbolic concept (idea) to represent brain function as-if it were a tangible object. So the Mind concept is a self-reference. And if self-reference is itself reflected in thought, it becomes a hall-of-mirrors. Therefore, you are literally correct that "there's nothing there", it's only an intangible mental image. Ideas are not real things, but ideas about things and their operations. Oooops! This is beginning to sound like a hall-of-mirrors.Gnomon

    But isn't the brain itself just a construction of the mind? Which would mean that the mind is basic, not the brain.
  • Gnomon
    2.6k
    Brains are physical. If the mind is metaphysical, then how is it "what the brain does"? Is there a metaphysical brain?Echarmion
    In this context "metaphysical" simply means "non-physical". A process or function is not a tangible object, but a mental image of change over time. If you think of the Brain as a machine, the Mind is its product, its output. For example : a physical automobile produces non-physical Transportation. If the Brain is a physical computer, the information it produces is its function, its output, its reason for being. Ideas are not physical objects, but metaphysical symbols that represent things (nouns) and actions (verbs) that we experience in the world. So, you could say that the Mind concept is a metaphysical (unreal, ideal) brain. :nerd:

    Function : the kind of action or activity proper to a person, thing, or institution; the purpose for which something is designed or exists; role.

    Metaphysics : 4. Physics refers to the things we perceive with the eye of the body. Meta-physics refers to the things we conceive with the eye of the mind.
    http://blog-glossary.enformationism.info/page14.html

    But isn't the brain itself just a construction of the mind? Which would mean that the mind is basic, not the brain.Echarmion
    Yes. I view Metaphysics (mind, consciousness, ideas) as more fundamental than Physics (things, objects, particles). That's the point of Panpsychism (all is mind). But that's a whole other thread. :joke:

    Panpsychism : https://thephilosophyforum.com/discussion/comment/433522
  • Echarmion
    2.2k
    In this context "metaphysical" simply means "non-physical". A process or function is not a tangible object, but a mental image of change over time. If you think of the Brain as a machine, the Mind is its product, its output. For example : a physical automobile produces non-physical Transportation.Gnomon

    That's pretty odd usage of words. People don't usually refer to automobiles as "machines that produce metaphysical transportation". Really what you're doing is describing what the automobile does in terms of how it is used. What an automobile produces, in the ordinary sense of the word, is heat and energy. It's a process, but it's still physical.

    And of course the whole "brain produces mind" problem runs into the hard problem.

    If the Brain is a physical computer, the information it produces is its function, its output, its reason for being.Gnomon

    Function, Output and reason for being are very different terms. Only one refers to the phenomenon of the brain. The other two contain additional interpretation.

    Ideas are not physical objects, but metaphysical symbols that represent things (nouns) and actions (verbs) that we experience in the world. So, you could say that the Mind concept is a metaphysical (unreal, ideal) brain. :nerd:Gnomon

    What's specifically meta-physical about ideas? Aren't you just equating the terms "non-physical", "metaphysical" and "mental"?

    Metaphysics : 4. Physics refers to the things we perceive with the eye of the body. Meta-physics refers to the things we conceive with the eye of the mind.Gnomon

    I don't like this definition. It seems identical to mental. Metaphysics refers to physics and meta. The usage should reflect those component words to avoid confusion.
  • Eugen
    484
    Of course it is a fiction. Materialism is the only real thing.
  • TheMadFool
    13.9k
    In fact it’s like there’s nothing there in the human mind at all. The idea, the fiction, is not the mind it’s a creation of the mind. So even the mind is a creation of the mind, another fiction.

    What exactly is going on here?
    Brett

    I had similar thoughts on the issue of mind being some kind of fiction. Take Descartes's cogito ergo sum argument which, reportedly, proves the existence of minds: I think, therefore I am. I approached the issue from a linguistic perspective and came to the realization that a verb implies the existence of the subject to which the verb is applied to. For instance, the verb speaking means there's a subject, the speaker. This simple fact when applied to the cogito ergo sum argument reveals that the verb think bespeaks the existence of a thinker.

    Searching for a verb that doesn't imply the existence of a subject to which it's applied drew a blank. I thought of the concept of superluminal velocities - in fiction there are objects that travel faster than light and this would be an example of a verb phrase, if there's such a thing, traveling at superluminal velocities, whose subject isn't real and is pure fiction.

    However, the mind can't be fiction as such because fiction springs from the imagination and Descartes' argument would take the form: I imagine, therefore I am.
  • Brett
    3k


    It seems to me that at this point we generally reach the limits of our reason, that we have knowledge because the human mind imposes conditions that make it true, which is all Kantian. From there we chose our philosopher of choice to look into the transendental which then flies off in all sorts of directions.

    Edit: this sort of suggests that it’s the things we don’t know that are the truest.
  • Gnomon
    2.6k
    That's pretty odd usage of words. People don't usually refer to automobiles as "machines that produce metaphysical transportation". Really what you're doing is describing what the automobile does in terms of how it is used.Echarmion
    The "odd usage" is intentional, because it derives from an unconventional worldview. So it's true, that I am using the term "Metaphysical" in a sense closer to what Aristotle had in mind, not how it is commonly used today, to refer to ghosts, magic & spooky stuff. Like Information, Transportation is not a physical object, but an idea in a mind referring to the function of a thing that transports. It's like the difference between a noun and a verb.

    In Vol 1 Physics, Ari was talking about things you know via physical senses, but in Vol 2 Metaphysics he was discussing our intangible ideas about those objects and experiences. So, yes, we sometimes refer to an automobile in terms of what it does for us instead of the material it is made of. (e.g. a truck is sometimes call a "transport") You know "transportation" when you experience it, not with your senses, but with your reason.

    Metaphysical : referring to an idea, doctrine, or posited reality outside of human sense perception. In modern philosophical terminology, metaphysics refers to the studies of what cannot be reached through objective studies of material reality.
    https://www.pbs.org/faithandreason/gengloss/metaph-body.html

    Aboutness : Aboutness and function, says Deacon, is not something added on top of things, but something that emerges from constraints on matter and process.
    http://somatosphere.net/2014/terrence-deacons-incomplete-nature.html/

    And of course the whole "brain produces mind" problem runs into the hard problem.Echarmion
    Actually, my theory is intended to be a solution to the "hard problem". It's obvious that what we call "Mind" or "Thought" are functions of physical brain processes. But the functions themselves are not material objects. Instead, Mind, Body, & Brain are all various forms of "Generic Information", which I call EnFormAction. When I said that "brain produces mind", my meaning was similar to the subtitle of Terrence Deacon's book : How Mind Emerged From Matter. But Matter, in turn, emerged from "Generic Information", which is mind-stuff.

    Panpsychism : Another article in the Philosophy Now magazine attempts to find “a balance between two extreme views of consciousness. . . . Physicalism and panpsychism sit either end of a metaphysical seesaw, and when one is in the ascendancy it is only by bringing the other unduly low.” The author, Dr. Sam Coleman, proposes a different kind of stuff (essence) that is “neither mental nor physical in itself, but which possesses properties capable of generating both the mental and the physical.” The “one fundamental stuff” he's referring to is Consciousness, but for technical purposes I think that the scientific term “Information” fits the description better.

    EnFormAction : http://bothandblog2.enformationism.info/page29.html

    What's specifically meta-physical about ideas? Aren't you just equating the terms "non-physical", "metaphysical" and "mental"?Echarmion
    Yes. In the Enformationism worldview they are all metaphysical & Ideal : (Forms (ideas, concepts, definitions, designs).

    Forms : The metaphysical notion of form (eidos, morphe, Gr.; idea, forma, species, Lat.), as it emerged in the works of Plato, must be carefully distinguished from the everyday notion from which it derived, namely, the shape or outer appearance of a thing as it presents itself to the eyes.
    https://science.jrank.org/pages/7706/Form-Metaphysical-in-Ancient-Medieval-Thought.html

    I don't like this definition. It seems identical to mental. Metaphysics refers to physics and meta. The usage should reflect those component words to avoid confusion.Echarmion
    My usage does reflect both "Physics" (nature) and "Meta" (beyond). Literally, it means "super-natural". But in my theory, I try to avid the typical otherworldly connotations of that term. Instead, Metaphysics is the foundation & source of both Physics (matter, energy) and Mind (consciousness, information) as we know them in Nature. The Enformationism worldview turns the ancient incompatible worldviews of Materialism and Spiritualism into an integrated whole. If you find that hard to believe, we can explore further. :joke:

    My unconventional definition of Information : http://blog-glossary.enformationism.info/page11.html
  • fishfry
    2.6k
    By this I guess you’re suggesting that the mind is the source, or core, of what we are. But that doesn’t do it for me because the mind is still an idea. You equate “self” and “mind” in your quote by Descartes. Are they both the same thing?Brett

    I can already see that my own idea is pulling me into consequences I don't agree with. If the mind is the only thing that can NOT be simulated, the mind is the only thing that's inarguably real. Yes it must be the source. Or "It's all in my mind." In which case, what is the role of the outside world? None at all. I'm a Berkeley idealist. Which is a bit extreme.

    So I guess my belief in the primacy of mind may lead me to problems. But if the mind can be an effect, then we might all be machines after all. I find that idea distasteful which is why I always argue against it strenuously.

    This is an issue I've wondered about when people talk about simulation theory. Are they simulating my reality as in Descartes' deceiver? If so, then my "I" is still separate from my vat programmers. Do the simulationists instead mean that the computer not only creates my reality, but also somehow creates my "I"? So that my I is an illusion too? And Descartes was wrong? That's the argument for simulating a mind. That Descartes was wrong about the primacy of his I.

    I agree that this is hard to take. You could just as easily substitute God in there.Brett

    Yes, some people have noted that the trendy "singularity" theorists who are into mind uploading and such are actually expressing ancient religious ideas in a modern technological guise. We'll be uploaded into a glorious heaven with angel subroutines, and the Great Programmer will care for us.

    What happens if you have yourself uploaded by some company that hires a sadistic programmer who tortures the uploaded minds every night behind his employers' back? I'm not sure I'd want to take that chance. Like going to a bad dentist, but forever. There's a sci fi story in here.

    My problem is that science is an idea, a fiction, of the mind. So many ideas coalesce that add up to science. Therefore it cannot be subject to science.Brett

    It's a fiction inspired by nature. And it seems to work very well. At the end of the day if we are physicalists, we must admit that if humans are made of atoms and humans are conscious, then piles of atoms may be conscious. There's a lot we don't know about how this works!


    Yes, so there cannot be an “I”, true?Brett

    Well ... I have an I and you have an I. But didn't Jung talk about the collective unconscious? Many of the world's great religions see each I as a manifestation of a much larger universal I. We're all thoughts in the mind of God. Programs running in the Great Computer. Temporal manifestations of the Eteneral I, or the Eternal Eye as symbolized in occult symbology as on the familiar US dollar bill.


    There is another angle which is that our behaviour is determined by hormones, genes and synapsis, rather than free will.Brett

    In other words: A bowling ball dropped from the top of a tall building has no free will in what it does. And if not, then how could we? We're just following physical law.

    As far as hormones etc. that's just kind of a levels issue. The quarks make up the protons and neutrons which make up the atoms which make up the molecules up to the organs and hormones and complex emotional and physical regulatory mechanisms of the brain ... really it's all quite mysterious.

    I disagree with anyone who says they have a clear and certain idea about how all this works! I distrust all of the clever thinkers of the day who think they've got this nut cracked. This nut ain't cracked.

    So there is no “I” except the one created, the fictional “I”.Brett

    My I is not a fiction! But I have no proof; and if I assert the primacy of my mind then I'm halfway to idealism. I'm back with Descartes in 1641. Me and my vat programmers. Which is pretty much what I believe anyway. I think that I'm a Boltzmann brain, a momentary and highly statistically unlikely local coherence in an otherwise formless and random universe. It's just a question of time till I blink out and take the rest of you with me. Must idealism lead to solipsism? Could Descartes get out of his predicament without invoking God? Berkeley too, he invoked God as the reason we experience a coherent outside world. We moderns have no such rhetorical tactic at our disposal. We must think our way through this dilemma without God. Is that what Nietsche meant? That for modern man, God is dead. We have to figure this thing out for ourselves.
  • Brett
    3k


    Philosophy takes us to the limits of our knowledge, once there we’re alone. But then how do we comprehend the unknowable, how do we communicate with it or know it?

    Shamans, witch doctors, priests have all suggested they’ve made the connection. But none of them said they did it by adding one plus one. They did it with, among other things, dance, song, drugs and rituals. Whether they did actually achieve it we’ll never really know. Many have been conned by spiritualists and gurus who claimed to know.

    Maybe certain poetry attempts, like the symbolist poetry, or the Dadaists, to address the unknowable in such a way that it’s not actually confronted head on, not actually named, but addressed obliquely, because once our mind pounces on it then it’s defining it according to our limited knowledge. Maybe koans work like this as well.

    The only way to encounter the unknowable is to quieten the mind, to not ask the question. I can only see two ways of doing this: action, which shuts down the cognitive mind, or sleeping, when the mind ceases to think and what we get instead are dreams, almost an unconscious language, which of course we don’t understand.
  • fishfry
    2.6k
    The only way to encounter the unknowable is to quieten the mind, to not ask the question. I can only see two ways of doing this: action, which shuts down the cognitive mind, or sleeping, when the mind ceases to think and what we get instead are dreams, almost an unconscious language, which of course we don’t understand.Brett

    I have many dreams I don't understand. Plots, characters, situations, dialog, dilemmas for me (always the protagonist) to solve. I had one this morning. Perhaps it's a nonphysical realm trying to tell me something, if only I could understand.
  • Brett
    3k


    It seems to me that all of us can think our way right up to the limits of knowledge and are then forced to turn back and reconsider or reexamine things. It also seems logical that we can never know the unknowable, that once we identify it we then begin labelling and creating fictions about it, which takes us back to the beginning. But we still have this desire to find it. And we can’t use logic, or even our own minds, to find it. Why do we seek this, is it a compulsion, is it logical to want to know, do we expect something from it? And what do we suspect will come from it?

    So is this just psychology?

    Edit: but then again isn’t the “unknown” another fiction?
  • fishfry
    2.6k
    So is this just psychology?Brett

    A caterpillar has a metaphysics.
  • Brett
    3k


    A caterpillar has a metaphysics.fishfry

    What do you mean?
  • fishfry
    2.6k
    ↪fishfry

    A caterpillar has a metaphysics.
    — fishfry

    What do you mean?
    Brett

    I posted this on some other thread recently.

    There's a forest somewhere, and in that forest are trees, and one of those trees has branches and leaves, and on one of those leaves there's a caterpillar. The caterpillar knows when it's night and when it's day. It knows to go toward what it likes to eat; and away from what likes to eat it. It knows, deep in its DNA, that someday it will ascend to become a beautiful butterfly.

    In short: That caterpillar has a metaphysics.

    Meaning: That whatever level of reality or the intelligence hierarchy you're at; you have a theory about what's going on. Our nervous system supports a certain level of cognitive activity and we conceptualize reality to that level. There's no reason to believe we're nature's ultimate design. Not if you follow the news. Just as the earth turned out not to be the center of the universe; and man turned out to be one of the animals; there may well be forms of intelligence we can't conceive of.
  • Key
    45
    Escaping subjectivity is probably a lot like writing a sentence without words.
  • Brett
    3k


    I know it leads into a hall of mirrors. But what else would you expect?

    Some thoughts on knowledge/reality/the unknown.

    The unknown is another fiction. Somehow we choose to believe it’s out there. We’ve tried to find it through rituals, religion and drugs.
    There’s the idea that we need to be in another state to experience it. That state can’t be the same as our cognitive state. It’s more like a derangement of the senses, or a suspension of logical thought.

    Schizophrenia: mental instability. (Isn’t that a loss of the subjective self?).
    Sanity: mental stability by definition, which is, what, being able to function among others?

    No one would want to be schizophrenic and plenty of people went that way on drugs.

    Is there a reason for the unknown to be constructed in this way, as unreachable? Why construct a fiction about something that can’t be known? Or is it just the whole binary thing in action? Which means it just response. But what does “the known” mean, what are we responding to?

    Is it necessary to know the unknown? Is there a benefit to its fictional existence? And if it’s a fiction then why try to find it?
    Even if it’s to prove objective truths exist how is that going to work? What do we want from it?
    In fact if we crossed the abyss would be be human any longer?
  • Brett
    3k


    I have many dreams I don't understand. Plots, characters, situations, dialog, dilemmas for me (always the protagonist) to solve. I had one this morning. Perhaps it's a nonphysical realm trying to tell me something, if only I could understand.fishfry

    It’s interesting that we want to understand. Why aren’t we content with the experience? Why believe dreams refer to something? I’m not saying it’s pointless, but why do we believe there’s something there?
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