Consciousness, A Priori Reasoning and Pluralism

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Re: Consciousness, A Priori Reasoning and Pluralism

Post by AshvinP »

Richard Cox wrote: Wed Oct 06, 2021 11:47 am Hello AshvinP,

I must apologise, that was a terrible response and I’m now having to extract myself from the mess I’ve made. I’m specifically referring to having said:

‘From an idealist perspective we may say that consciousness is, but no more than that. If it’s the foundational thing we can’t get underneath it to say any more. So I suppose my answer is that we can’t understand consciousness.’

I think what I was trying to get at here is the sense that arriving at ‘consciousness is’ feels like arriving at a foundational statement. Something that is—from a perspective at least—necessarily true. We can of course then pose the question, ‘what is consciousness?’ The question is being asked in a different way from the materialist sense of looking for correlates of consciousness, rather it is asking, can we experience consciousness directly? This opens up a certain paradox, akin to a camera not being able to take a picture of itself—unless it’s pointing at a mirror (I have a poem about this I’ll put in at the bottom). Are there mirrors we can use to investigate consciousness?

What I was going for in the latter and more speculative part of the essay was to see if I could develop a rational explanation for the mystical experience—where consciousness contemplating itself leads to an experience of an infinite ocean of love.

Is this in any way akin to what you mean by ‘ Mind cognizing its own meaning’?

A Cinematic Puzzle

What’s present
In every scene
Of every film you’ve ever seen
Yet remains unseen?

Except maybe in reflections…


When we say "we can't understand consciousness", we are speaking from a specific perspective - rational intellect. From that perspective, it is true that we cannot get 'under' the essence of consciousness and come to know its essence with high resolution. The most we can do is dissolve via mystical experience into the infinite ocean of love, where we no longer identify our own spiritual activity. But there is no reason to assume that we are limited only to our current perspective, and actually every reason, philosophical and scientific, to conclude that we are not. Representational (mirroring) perspective is not the max capacity of human knowing. I just wrote a couple essays about this called "What Do 'I' Know?", available at general discussion section. Cleric has also written many posts about how Imaginative thinking transcends representational intellect in its experience of the World Content (and how we can come to know that). Here is a quote from one:

Cleric wrote:So thinking is the real point of departure for any endeavor to know. It is also the only place where we find true unity of phenomena and noumena. The perceptions of thoughts are the only perceptions that don't require explanation. For everything else we can ask "What's the meaning of this? Why I perceive this? What stands behind this?" But for our thoughts these questions are irrelevant - they are answered through the very nature of thinking. I know what they mean because it's my idea that is projected into thought perception. I know why I perceive them because I will the thoughts. I know what stands behind the thoughts - it's my own ideating activity! In this way we have found within the World content a point of contact between the phenomenon and noumenon. The former is the thought-perception, the latter is the idea that I will into the thought-form. To this may be habitually objected that it could be possible to explain thinking in other ways - neurons, energies, vibrations, etc. In other words it's suggested that the noumenon is still inaccessible and ideas are only representational phenomena, having nothing to do with the 'thing-in-itself'. Yet this is exactly how the blind-spot plays out. All of these models are still the product of our real thinking. They're like hair and nails growing and separating from my living spiritual activity and now I try to combine this dead material in the most ingenious ways and produce the living activity from them. This I can never do. And if scientists and philosophers still insist to explain thinking in such ways it's only because their true spiritual activity, which produces the dead theory, is entirely in their blind-spot of consciousness. The key is to realize that there's nothing in the given which says that the reality of thinking and ideas is only representation of a thing-in-itself. This very idea is already a product of thinking. In other words, thinking postulates its own reality to lie somewhere where by definition it can't reach. We can picture this as climbing on a tree, cutting the branch on which we sit and declaring that this branch can never know the reality of the tree (that is, the tree becomes the thing-in-itself).
“I began to understand that the goal of psychic development is the Self. There is no linear evolution; there is only a circumambulation of the Self."
- Jung
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