New interview with Bernardo

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AshvinP
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Re: New interview with Bernardo

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Eugene I wrote: Tue Feb 23, 2021 5:38 pm
AshvinP wrote: Tue Feb 23, 2021 3:50 pm The other issue is this - how can we say the qualitative experience is "real" and "illusory" under idealism at the same time? If the story of our "selves" navigating a world of qualitative experiences is an illusion, then everything which is experienced within that story must also be an illusion. Yet BK still maintains the idealist can confidently state that the redness of red or the brightness of light is a real quality of objective reality, whatever that is.
Let me give a simple analogy to illustrate this. Let's say we go to an art exhibition, look at one of the paintings and see a mythical Unicorn depicted on it. Now, our visual sensory experiences of the painting are absolutely real, there is no doubt about it. But in addition to the sensory experiences we recreate a mental representation of the painting with the mental image of the Unicorn and accompanying thoughts about the Unicorn. Again, such mental image and the thoughts are real to us - they are mental though forms and our experience of them is absolutely real. However, the meaning of those thoughts may not represent or reflect any realities (other than the meanings themselves). For example, the thought that "the Unicorn exists" has a meaning - the existence of the Unicorn. However, there is no "real" Unicorn in the universe other than our image and thought about it. In that sense, our image and thought about Unicorn that we experience in our consciousness are absolutely real, but the meaning of the belief-thought that the Unicorn exists independent of our imagination about it is an "illusion" (illusion meaning that it does not correspond to any reality outside of our imagination and thought about it).

Similarly, the "self", if taken as a meaning of our mental representation/reflection of the totality of our private conscious experiences, is real - we all do have an idea of self and an intuitive sense of self as some mysterious "entity" or "being". However, there is no evidence or proof that such "self-entity" is actually real and that it is anything more than only a meaning of a thought. In that sense it can be said that the "self" is an "illusion".
There are two issues here:

1) Under idealism, how can we consistently claim the Unicorn image-thought is any less "real" than a horse image-thought (both in paintings), or a horse perception-thought (not in painting)? Clearly there is a difference between all three, but does that difference reside in the essence of those things? Put another way, are they different because one is independent of our perception-cognition and the others are not?

2) The Self-representation (not to be equated with isolated ego) seems to be even more fundamental to the objective world than any perception-thoughts. Yet many idealists will still claim it is an "illusion" in the way you mention. If that is true, then what is the implication for all of the other qualitative representations experienced within the Self-representation - are they equally as "illusory"? If so, then what right does an idealist have to claim their worldview maintains qualitative experience while the materialist worldview chucks it out the window?
“Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us act, just once, with beauty and courage. Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence, something helpless that wants our love.”
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Cleric K
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Re: New interview with Bernardo

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Eugene I wrote: Tue Feb 23, 2021 5:38 pm Similarly, the "self", if taken as a meaning of our mental representation/reflection of the totality of our private conscious experiences, is real - we all do have an idea of self and an intuitive sense of self as some mysterious "entity" or "being". However, there is no evidence or proof that such "self-entity" is actually real and that it is anything more than only a meaning of a thought. In that sense it can be said that the "self" is an "illusion".
In this sense, is there any proof that any entity is real? Can we point at something and say "now that's a real entity"?
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Eugene I
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Re: New interview with Bernardo

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Cleric K wrote: Tue Feb 23, 2021 9:52 pm In this sense, is there any proof that any entity is real? Can we point at something and say "now that's a real entity"?
I don't think so. IMO, an "entity" is a mental abstraction that we use to model the reality (of our conscious experience), similar to mathematical abstractions. There is no proof that numbers are real, but as abstractions they are useful for us and help us to model and understand the patterns of reality. Similarly, we developed the ideas of "entities" by observing and trying to mentally model the patterns of conscious phenomena. We developed the mental model of reality divided into separate "subjects" and "objects" that perform "actions". In a way, it is similar to Newtonian mechanics with its "bodies" and "forces". Such models do help us in practical life, but there is no evidence or proof that they correspond to or accurately describe any actual realities. The idea of "self", IMO, is one of these abstractions.
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Cleric K
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Re: New interview with Bernardo

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Eugene I wrote: Tue Feb 23, 2021 11:25 pm I don't think so. IMO, an "entity" is a mental abstraction that we use to model the reality (of our conscious experience), similar to mathematical abstractions. There is no proof that numbers are real, but as abstractions they are useful for us and help us to model and understand the patterns of reality. Similarly, we developed the ideas of "entities" by observing and trying to mentally model the patterns of conscious phenomena. We developed the mental model of reality divided into separate "subjects" and "objects" that perform "actions". In a way, it is similar to Newtonian mechanics with its "bodies" and "forces". Such models do help us in practical life, but there is no evidence or proof that they correspond to or accurately describe any actual realities. The idea of "self", IMO, is one of these abstractions.
OK. Then dropping the notion of an entity and asking in general: how do we recognize what is real?
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Eugene I
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Re: New interview with Bernardo

Post by Eugene I »

Cleric K wrote: Wed Feb 24, 2021 12:01 am OK. Then dropping the notion of an entity and asking in general: how do we recognize what is real?
This is one of the key questions of epistemology and ontology and there is no straight answer to it. The answer depends on one's ontological/epistemological position and chosen definitions of what is considered to be real. The definition of what is real differs widely across different metaphysics.

I can share my personal understanding/definition of "real". First, all phenomena of conscious experience are absolutely real by the very fact of their direct conscious experience. The experiencing (awareness) itself is real for the same reason. That includes the thoughts since the thoughts are also conscious phenomena, but it does not include the content/meanings of the thoughts. For example, a thought "Unicorn exists" is real, but the Unicorn (as a content/meaning of that thought) is not real in the same sense that the thought itself is real. One can still argue that the Unicorn as a meaning is still "real", but its modus of reality is different from the modus of reality of the thoughts. The reality of meanings is a "secondary" reality with a different modality of existence. And finally the third modality of existence is the reality of other "things" beyond the phenomena of our direct conscious experiences (for example, material objects in materialism), but the reality of these "things" has also a different modality - their reality is hypothetical. Since we have no direct experience of them and no direct and unfalsifiable evidence of their existence, we can only infer about their reality.

So, to summarize, there are three modalities of reality:
1. The reality of the phenomena of direct conscious experience and the awareness/experiencing of them itself.
2. The reality of the meanings of thoughts.
3. The realities which modus of existence is different from 1 and 2, whatever it can be

Some questions immediately arise:
- Is there anything at all that belongs to #3? May be all there exists only belongs to #1 and #2 categories? We do not know the answer, but different metaphysics are based on different hypotheses on what are the "things" belonging to the #3.
- How the elements of #2 correspond to the elements of #1 and #3 (if any)? This is the question of establishing the truthfulness criteria. We can say that a meaning (element of #2) is true if we can establish its 1-to-1 correspondence to the elements of #1 and/or #3. For example, we can say that the (abstract) meaning "2+2=4" is true because it corresponds to the patterns of #1 elements (observed sensory phenomena of conscious experience), while the meaning "2+2=5" is not true because there is no such correspondence. In other words, the thought "2+2=5" is real in #1 sense, its meaning is also real in #2 sense, but it can be called an "illusion" or "false" because there is no direct correspondence between such meaning and the elements of #1. This is of course a primitive and rough sketch, it just gives a basic idea. In reality such correspondence can never be fully established. Similarly, we can use the same scheme for the correspondence between #2 and #3 elements, the problem is that such correspondence will always remain hypothetical because the existence/reality of the elements of #3 is itself always and only hypothetical. And of course, the "Self" belongs to #3, IMO, together with "matter", "God" and so on, the reality of which remains hypothetical and a matter of inference (if held philosophically) or faith (if held religiously).
Last edited by Eugene I on Wed Feb 24, 2021 1:51 am, edited 6 times in total.
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Eugene I
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Re: New interview with Bernardo

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AshvinP wrote: Tue Feb 23, 2021 7:45 pm There are two issues here:

1) Under idealism, how can we consistently claim the Unicorn image-thought is any less "real" than a horse image-thought (both in paintings), or a horse perception-thought (not in painting)? Clearly there is a difference between all three, but does that difference reside in the essence of those things? Put another way, are they different because one is independent of our perception-cognition and the others are not?

2) The Self-representation (not to be equated with isolated ego) seems to be even more fundamental to the objective world than any perception-thoughts. Yet many idealists will still claim it is an "illusion" in the way you mention. If that is true, then what is the implication for all of the other qualitative representations experienced within the Self-representation - are they equally as "illusory"? If so, then what right does an idealist have to claim their worldview maintains qualitative experience while the materialist worldview chucks it out the window?
Ashvin, see my answer to your first question in my response to Cleric above. I don't think the "independence of our perception-cognition" is a solid criterium that we can use to differentiate between the modalities of reality. There are many cases where such criterium does not work, like differentiation between hallucination and non-hallucination, or between a "reality" and a dream.

To your second question, the "Self-representation" that you are referring to belongs to #3 in my scheme of the modalities of existence. If Self is indeed real/existing, than it would be true that it is more fundamental to the objective and subjective worlds of phenomena. However, the existence/reality of such Self-representation is only hypothetical (that is why it belongs to #3). There are variants of idealism that are based on the inference of the reality of Self (Advaita for example), and there are variants of idealism that are not (Buddhist Yogachara/Cittamara philosophies etc). The latter variants affirm the reality of phenomena of conscious experience without inferring the more fundamental reality of Self.
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Eugene I
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Re: New interview with Bernardo

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PS: but of course, needless to say, if one's ontological position is objective (or more specifically, monotheistic) idealism, then the criteria and definitions of reality and truth would be quite different from the scheme I sketched above, so I would not be surprised if your positions, Cleric and Ashvin, would be also different.
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AshvinP
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Re: New interview with Bernardo

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Eugene I wrote: Wed Feb 24, 2021 1:17 am
AshvinP wrote: Tue Feb 23, 2021 7:45 pm There are two issues here:

1) Under idealism, how can we consistently claim the Unicorn image-thought is any less "real" than a horse image-thought (both in paintings), or a horse perception-thought (not in painting)? Clearly there is a difference between all three, but does that difference reside in the essence of those things? Put another way, are they different because one is independent of our perception-cognition and the others are not?

2) The Self-representation (not to be equated with isolated ego) seems to be even more fundamental to the objective world than any perception-thoughts. Yet many idealists will still claim it is an "illusion" in the way you mention. If that is true, then what is the implication for all of the other qualitative representations experienced within the Self-representation - are they equally as "illusory"? If so, then what right does an idealist have to claim their worldview maintains qualitative experience while the materialist worldview chucks it out the window?
Ashvin, see my answer to your first question in my response to Cleric above. I don't think the "independence of our perception-cognition" is a solid criterium that we can use to differentiate between the modalities of reality. There are many cases where such criterium does not work, like differentiation between hallucination and non-hallucination, or between a "reality" and a dream.

To your second question, the "Self-representation" that you are referring to belongs to #3 in my scheme of the modalities of existence. If Self is indeed real/existing, than it would be true that it is more fundamental to the objective and subjective worlds of phenomena. However, the existence/reality of such Self-representation is only hypothetical (that is why it belongs to #3). There are variants of idealism that are based on the inference of the reality of Self (Advaita for example), and there are variants of idealism that are not (Buddhist Yogachara/Cittamara philosophies etc). The latter variants affirm the reality of phenomena of conscious experience without inferring the more fundamental reality of Self.

I think it will help if you just provide a definition of "real" under your view. What is the reason for distinguishing three "modalities" of realness? It appears to be something akin to how 'directly' we experience the 'thing' at issue, but that would surely place a self-perception or self-conception in #1. In normal conscious state, we do not experience any phenomenon without also experiencing the self which appears to experience those phenomenon.

Keep in mind, we are trying to deal with these questions without presupposing any metaphysical positions other than the ones we all agree on, like conscious activity actually occurs and there is only conscious activity.
“Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us act, just once, with beauty and courage. Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence, something helpless that wants our love.”
findingblanks
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Re: New interview with Bernardo

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Simon, I appreciate your response but I think it leave out the part I'm failing to highlight. Bernardo's model does not claim that the mountain we see is a representation of something even similar to it outside of our alter. Sure, he absolutely believes that what is outside of our alter is phenomenal. Okay, great. But his dashboard model makes clear that the mountain can be seen as a dial that your body is using to stay alive not a picture of something even similar to it outside. In fact, the first-person experience of which the mountain is an extrinsic image (for your body) is endogenous and more like a profound thought that has yet to be captured into language of any kind.

This may sound like nitpicking, but I'm really just not sure why he sounds exasperated about the idea that materialists believe that inside our head there is an image that basically is nothign like what it corresponds to outside of it and, yet, his model has a very similar move. Again, I can't stress enough that I FULLY SHARE his mocking the fact that materialism can't even explain in principle how we can derive quality from quality.
HelenAmery
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Re: New interview with Bernardo

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Around 1 hour in Bernardo says that what Freud & Jung meant by unconscious is not the same as what analytical philosophy means by the absence of consciousness. Is that because, in the latter, an absence of consciousness would be zero phenomenal experience at all?
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