"Idealism and Consciousness": My Comment/Challenge to BK

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AshvinP
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"Idealism and Consciousness": My Comment/Challenge to BK

Post by AshvinP »

I just came across this interview with BK from a few months ago. There is some talk about Sam Harris around minute 30, who BK really dislikes as a public intellectual (and I can't blame him for that), and how Harris "would never debate" BK because he cares so much about his public image and he knows BK would wipe the floor with him. So here is the video and the comment I posted below the video. I am not sure how else it could be brought to BK's attention, but any ideas or efforts to do so are welcome.







Speaking of not caring about public image and just debating the ideas as they come up (30 min. into video), it would be great to get BK's take on the Schopenhauer v. [Rudolf] Steiner debate which tooks place on his forum - viewtopic.php?p=11904#p11904 - "Philosophy Unbound: Schopenhauer v. Steiner".

It is sort of like Harris (Schopenhauer) v. BK (Steiner), just in terms of current popularity and visibility. Steiner basically takes Hegel's philosophy of Spirit (Thinking) to a whole new level of phenomenological analysis, and directly challenges Schopenhauer's philosophy of universal Will in his book, "The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity (Freedom)", written in 1895. BK did actually address it briefly in a Q&A session, which was the inspiration for starting the thread linked above, but a few commenters (mostly myself and one other - "Cleric") responded to his response. To date, it has by far the most views on the forum at 13,550 (although admittedly much of that came from a pretty crazy back and forth with another commenter who claimed no one understands Schopenhauer OR Steiner). Here is a very crude summary of the argument written in one of the early posts:

"At the core of the vs. topic is the fact that for Schopenhauer the Will was in its essence blind (unconscious). Only at some stage does it attain to inner reflection. Steiner points out that the only will we know is that which is imbued with idea. The most intimate example of this is thinking. The point is that postulating the World Will (which is unconscious except within human bodies) as the foundation, is an act of thinking. It is not a given fact. Actually it can never be experienced as such (this Ashvin elaborated in his essay). We can never know that blind will exists as the foundation because in its very definition it is not consciously (knowingly) experienced. This defeats the whole purpose of trying to bridge the Kantian divide in this way. Yes, we recognize the part of the will that has become self-conscious within man so Schopenhauer was on to something when he sought the unity of reality within the will but he again brings the unknowable thing-in-itself into the picture when he says that the World Will outside the human being is unconscious. He certainly brings it closer to our experiential world but nevertheless remains forever inaccessible in the domain outside man."
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Re: "Idealism and Consciousness": My Comment/Challenge to BK

Post by Soul_of_Shu »

As you're probably aware, BK recently shared that interview on twitter and facebook. It may be more likely he's paying attention to commentary there than following youtube comments. Of course, hard to convey your message, if having to resort to a series of tweets. Btw, did you watch the interview wherein he delves into his daemon negotiations and speculations? I'd be interested in your take on that?

Here out of instinct or grace we seek
soulmates in these galleries of hieroglyph and glass,
where mutual longings and sufferings of love
are laid bare in transfigured exhibition of our hearts,
we who crave deep secrets and mysteries,
as elusive as the avatars of our dreams.
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Re: "Idealism and Consciousness": My Comment/Challenge to BK

Post by AshvinP »

Soul_of_Shu wrote: Sun Oct 03, 2021 11:35 am As you're probably aware, BK recently shared that interview on twitter and facebook. It may be more likely he's paying attention to commentary there than following youtube comments. Of course, hard to convey your message, if having to resort to a series of tweets. Btw, did you watch the interview wherein he delves into his daemon negotiations and speculations? I'd be interested in your take on that?
I have not seen this one. Is there a particular time in the video you are referencing?
“It is your presumption that freedom is something which you already possess that ensures that you will remain in chains."
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Re: "Idealism and Consciousness": My Comment/Challenge to BK

Post by AshvinP »

AshvinP wrote: Sun Oct 03, 2021 2:09 pm
Soul_of_Shu wrote: Sun Oct 03, 2021 11:35 am As you're probably aware, BK recently shared that interview on twitter and facebook. It may be more likely he's paying attention to commentary there than following youtube comments. Of course, hard to convey your message, if having to resort to a series of tweets. Btw, did you watch the interview wherein he delves into his daemon negotiations and speculations? I'd be interested in your take on that?
I have not seen this one. Is there a particular time in the video you are referencing?

So I started watching the video and can say I completely disagree with BK in the first 15 min :)

If he were to say, "I really have no idea about the structure of MAL and the Daemons, except that it is patterned activity as reflected in natural processes, and that's all I can say about it", then I would have no problem. As it is, he is going well beyond that to state the Daemon is instinctive nature which has no sense of moral value, truth, etc. as we do in our intuitions. Think about this - how can he know any such things about the entirety of MAL if we reject naive realism, i.e. we don't say the natural processes as they appear to us are the full extent of MAL and its structure? It is really an anthropormorphization of MAL - "however we understand our own agency relative to the non-human organisms we perceive around us is how it must actually be". Since we appear to be the only "meta-cognitive" animals, that means all other living organisms in existence are purely instinctive and reflect more closely the underlying Ground of existence. The same holds even more true for the plant and mineral kingdoms, according to BK.

So, according to BK, this purely instinctive MAL (which he considers equivalent with Jung's "collective unconscious", and I disagree with that) appeared to the ancients as active agencies in the world, but now we know it was actually impersonal instinctive (blind) Will as it evolves within us to manifest "meta-cognitive" capacity, which then starts to tell itself 'stories' about itself. This approach is not much different from Harris, Dawkins, etc. (the "new atheists"). It takes the materialist evolutionary account and transposes it onto idealism - mindless entities evolve into mindful entities over the course of linear time, and the latter then make up fairy tales about spritual beings who gave rise to them and the world around them. BK just says the "mindless" was not 'material stuff' but blind instictive 'mental stuff'. He also says there is clearly evolutionary advantage to meta-cognition and therefore we cannot simpy discard it. But, by taking the "illusionist" position of the essential "Ego-I", the practical result is always to ignore and discard it over time. That is why materialist atheism comes about in the first place.

But simply positing an "Ego-I" and its internal structure as spiritual reality and having blind faith also leads to that same nihilistic result. So the real message here is to take metaphysical idealism seriously, to take its critique of naive realism seriously, to reject our intellectual anthropomorphizing tendency of all aspects of Reality we do not yet experience and cognize, and to start the process of true philosophical-scientific investigation of Deep MAL and its ideational structure. In my opinion, that was Jung's deeper message as well about the 'collective subconscious', 'individuation', etc. I think BK fails to see that in Jung precisely because he keeps essential Thinking ("Ego-I") in the blind spot as Kant and Schopenhauer, which then leads to dualism of "instinctive" vs. "meta-cognitive" ideation. Jung himself may have had an ambivalent relationship with it as well, but in his later works it becomes clear that he is talking about an actual, structured spiritual reality, with intelligent and intentional spiritual beings, underlying and giving rise to the sense-world.
Last edited by AshvinP on Sun Oct 03, 2021 3:40 pm, edited 6 times in total.
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Re: "Idealism and Consciousness": My Comment/Challenge to BK

Post by Soul_of_Shu »

AshvinP wrote: Sun Oct 03, 2021 2:09 pmI have not seen this one. Is there a particular time in the video you are referencing?
No, unlike most other interviews, this one is almost all daemon focused, how he interprets what role and impact it plays in one's life, with references throughout to Jung's take on it, so no portion of it stands out as most pertinent.
Here out of instinct or grace we seek
soulmates in these galleries of hieroglyph and glass,
where mutual longings and sufferings of love
are laid bare in transfigured exhibition of our hearts,
we who crave deep secrets and mysteries,
as elusive as the avatars of our dreams.
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AshvinP
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Re: "Idealism and Consciousness": My Comment/Challenge to BK

Post by AshvinP »

Soul_of_Shu wrote: Sun Oct 03, 2021 2:46 pm
AshvinP wrote: Sun Oct 03, 2021 2:09 pmI have not seen this one. Is there a particular time in the video you are referencing?
No, unlike most other interviews, this one is almost all daemon focused, how he interprets what role and impact it plays in one's life, with references throughout to Jung's take on it, so no portion of it stands out as most pertinent.

I posted a response above, but I was quoting myself, so you may not have seen it.
“It is your presumption that freedom is something which you already possess that ensures that you will remain in chains."
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Re: "Idealism and Consciousness": My Comment/Challenge to BK

Post by Ben Iscatus »

did you watch the interview wherein he delves into his daemon negotiations and speculations
I watched it and enjoyed it. The way his daemon works, based on his own experience, is clearly true for him. As he says, others will experience their own daemons differently. My own daemon appears only occasionally these days, and inspires rather than obliges.
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Re: "Idealism and Consciousness": My Comment/Challenge to BK

Post by Soul_of_Shu »

AshvinP wrote: Sun Oct 03, 2021 3:37 pm
Soul_of_Shu wrote: Sun Oct 03, 2021 2:46 pm
AshvinP wrote: Sun Oct 03, 2021 2:09 pmI have not seen this one. Is there a particular time in the video you are referencing?
No, unlike most other interviews, this one is almost all daemon focused, how he interprets what role and impact it plays in one's life, with references throughout to Jung's take on it, so no portion of it stands out as most pertinent.

I posted a response above, but I was quoting myself, so you may not have seen it.
I did miss it ... As usual, there's some of what BK relates that I can relate to, and other aspects that I still seriously question. But then that is true of how I relate to pretty much everyone's musings of this sort. Not sure I still hope to find some definitive account, although a more thorough investigation of Jung is in order. And alas, in these interviews where he gets no challenging push-back from the interlocutors, who mostly reverently defer to his interpretation, along with his understanding of Jung, and since it seems he is disinclined to engage with those kind of challenges elsewhere, we're left with no counter challenge from him, pending your own cross-exing him. ;)
Here out of instinct or grace we seek
soulmates in these galleries of hieroglyph and glass,
where mutual longings and sufferings of love
are laid bare in transfigured exhibition of our hearts,
we who crave deep secrets and mysteries,
as elusive as the avatars of our dreams.
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AshvinP
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Re: "Idealism and Consciousness": My Comment/Challenge to BK

Post by AshvinP »

Soul_of_Shu wrote: Sun Oct 03, 2021 4:52 pm
AshvinP wrote: Sun Oct 03, 2021 3:37 pm
Soul_of_Shu wrote: Sun Oct 03, 2021 2:46 pm
No, unlike most other interviews, this one is almost all daemon focused, how he interprets what role and impact it plays in one's life, with references throughout to Jung's take on it, so no portion of it stands out as most pertinent.

I posted a response above, but I was quoting myself, so you may not have seen it.
I did miss it ... As usual, there's some of what BK relates that I can relate to, and other aspects that I still seriously question. But then that is true of how I relate to pretty much everyone's musings of this sort. Not sure I still hope to find some definitive account, although a more thorough investigation of Jung is in order. And alas, in these interviews where he gets no challenging push-back from the interlocutors, who mostly reverently defer to his interpretation, along with his understanding of Jung, and since it seems he is disinclined to engage with those kind of challenges elsewhere, we're left with no counter challenge from him, pending your own cross-exing him. ;)

Right, I doubt we will see that happen. BK may not care about his beard and tshirt in videos, but I have a feeling he does care about his intellectual philosopher image a bit more than he lets on. Just to be clear, of all public intellectuals out there speaking and writing today, I put him and JP (at least when JP is discussing philosophy and spirituality) at the very top of the list of most insightful and useful. Nevertheless... here are two more considerations to ponder.

1 - Why do we find no discussion of this infinitely self-deepening nature of Thinking activity which Steiner discusses below:
The reason why we generally overlook thinking in our consideration of things has already been given. It lies in the fact that our attention is concentrated only on the object we are thinking about, but not at the same time on the thinking itself... The observation of a table, or a tree, occurs in me as soon as these objects appear upon the horizon of my experience. Yet I do not, at the same time, observe my thinking about these things. I observe the table, and I carry out the thinking about the table, but I do not at the same moment observe this. I must first take up a standpoint outside my own activity if, in addition to observing the table, I want also to observe my thinking about the table.

This is apparent even from the way in which we express our thoughts about an object, as distinct from our feelings or acts of will. When I see an object and recognize it as a table, I do not as a rule say, “I am thinking of a table,” but, “this is a table.” On the other hand, I do say, “I am pleased with the table.” This is just the peculiar nature of thinking, that the thinker forgets his thinking while actually engaged in it. What occupies his attention is not his thinking, but the object of his thinking, which he is observing...

The reason why we do not observe the thinking that goes on in our ordinary life is none other than this, that it is due to our own activity... I am, moreover, in the same position when I enter into the exceptional state and reflect on my own thinking. I can never observe my present thinking; I can only subsequently take my experiences of my thinking process as the object of fresh thinking. If I wanted to watch my present thinking, I should have to split myself into two persons, one to think, the other to observe this thinking. But this I cannot do. There are two things which are incompatible with one another: productive activity and the simultaneous contemplation of it.

- Rudolf Steiner, The Philosophy of Freedom (1895)

2 - If we hold to an evolutionary understanding of human history and consciousness, which it seems BK does hold to, at least to some extent, then what are the implications for Socrates' experience of his inspirative daemon in 400 BC and our experience of imagination, inspiration, and intuition today? Jung clearly discerned this implication when speaking of how the 'old gods' had been submerged within the subconscious of modern man. How does that relate to our immanent Thinking activity? Frankly, these are the sorts of questions which will never be addressed by BK or others who hold similiar positions. Because, as soon as the undeniable implications are acknowledged, the entire 'game' is up. Once Thinking is admitted as the essential activity through which the individual human soul is united with the Cosmic whole, then all manner of esoteric Western spiritual Wisdom naturally unfolds from that cornerstone. And that is really where the deepest antipathies lie in these views - against anything which remotely resembles Western spiritual tradition-knowledge.
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Re: "Idealism and Consciousness": My Comment/Challenge to BK

Post by idlecuriosity »

I do find his distinction between what you yourself are responsible for and what your daemon does to be very meaningful, on the other hand. Mostly because I'm more of a technician than a 'feeling' type when it comes to indulging challenges or making decisions, so being able to exude more of a pull from my actions and outcome in acknowledging the individual ego as distinct from that helps me know what I must do to overcome my idiosyncrasies. It's comforting in a way that things typically won't be if you assume responsibility for the entire body of decisions you've made and given our susceptibility to letting other people's opinions hurt us, that's of profound utility to me and lends more elbow room not only to empathy between people but self improvement too

As far as his reluctance to become spiritual: It may just be that he finds it difficult to measure some of the more spiritual implications of what he's espousing scientifically and wants to expose the more exact overarching details as they're the ones that lend the most to the purveyance of other thought schools. Remember, to those who are entirely materialistic, unless you can literally point to a smoking gun that doesn't have a materialistic explanation which is also sufficed by his pseudo dualist outlook on matter's rules (even if not it's origin) and in the same breath overwhelmingly vindicate the utility of a spiritual understanding, it's also very difficult to convey this to people from other fields even within philosophy let alone scientists or evolutionary psychologists.

Yes, it's probably an optics game; the internet is all about ad revenue nowadays and even mundane discussions like the ones here are characteristically hallmarked by upvote/downvote scales on most sites. There's no such thing as a disembodied point left to stand on it's own and work independently of who brought it up, not anymore, which is quite tiresome. But it's also the case that unless you can illustrate something with very simple logic in a way that is falsifiable to the lion's share of popular minds then it constitutes a poor offering to the cause of convincing people to rethink an entirely materialistic world view which is a noble goal and one BK might be principally occupied with.

That's because for a lot of this to make sense you need to approach ideas from an idealistic framework to begin with and it may just be a more effective idea to first focus on exposure, wherever the scientific method might lead those who jump aboard from that point onward. It's probably why Steiner is considered by some to have grew into an 'occult madman' because most people were observing him from other ideologies where the assumed absurdity of such approaches has been normalized, rightly or not
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