Principles of Mind and Philosophy

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GrantHenderson
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Principles of Mind and Philosophy

Post by GrantHenderson »

In this essay, I hypothesize that an explanation for all experiential phenomena can be reduced to 4 basic principles of mind and philosophy. These principles of mind and philosophy are consistent with Bernardo Kastrup's philosophy of analytic idealism. What I have hopefully done here is organize Kastrup's philosophy into a set of logical deductions that sufficiently explains all experiential phenomena.

The essay can be accessed in the following link:

https://qr.ae/pGSlBs

Thank you for reading, and I hope you all find it interesting.
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AshvinP
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Re: Principles of Mind and Philosophy

Post by AshvinP »

GrantHenderson wrote: Sat Sep 25, 2021 2:23 pm In this essay, I hypothesize that an explanation for all experiential phenomena can be reduced to 4 basic principles of mind and philosophy. These principles of mind and philosophy are consistent with Bernardo Kastrup's philosophy of analytic idealism. What I have hopefully done here is organize Kastrup's philosophy into a set of logical deductions that sufficiently explains all experiential phenomena.

The essay can be accessed in the following link:

https://qr.ae/pGSlBs

Thank you for reading, and I hope you all find it interesting.
Grant,

I will take a look and try to give some feedback soon. As an initial remark, I think "sufficiently explains all experiential phenomena" is a bold claim and probably not how you meant it. That sounds like your 4 basic principles can explain the underlying causes of all phenomena and in pretty high resolution. So just something to keep in mind if you are presenting this essay elsewhere.
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Re: Principles of Mind and Philosophy

Post by GrantHenderson »

Thanks for the initial feedback. I will try to be more specific in what I hypothesize this theory explains.

Grant
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AshvinP
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Re: Principles of Mind and Philosophy

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GrantHenderson wrote: Sun Sep 26, 2021 12:49 am Thanks for the initial feedback. I will try to be more specific in what I hypothesize this theory explains.

Grant
Grant,

I have looked over the paper, and I disagree with the conclusions, although much of the reasoning seems fine. We can get into specifics, but for now I will just state the overall 'big picture' objection - you seem to be smuggling in (1) physicalist assumptions and (2) something akin to a "mind-matter" dualism, even though your principles do not explicitly state them (actually you explicitly reject both).

Grant wrote:Principle 1. A conscious entity (experience) is ontologically equal to reality.
...
Extending from the empirical fact that we experience reality is a second empirical fact that “a conscious entity observes a distinction between itself and its external environment, and the contents of its external environment."

1 - What does it mean for there to be an "entity" which is "equal" to Reality? It seems the word "entity" assumes a static 'thing' which observes all that seems 'external' to it, which then implies a dualism which we could think of as "static thing vs. evolving experiential process". The word "equal" seems to assume some sort of quantitative equivalence, even though the fundamental experiential Reality you are positing as ontological primitive is qualitative.

It's quite possible I am understanding what you mean by these words and I would like to hear your clarifications, but then at the very least I think better terms could be used.

Grant wrote:Additionally, at least 2 inferential steps are required to derive a mathematical/scientific theory from the empirical fact that we experience reality. Therefore, we are less certain that any mathematical/scientific theory is a fact of reality than we are certain that experience is a fact of reality.

2 - Related to the above, it seems you are assuming the conscious "entity" must recreate a model of seemingly 'external' experiences within itself in order to engage in explanatory science. This is basically the Kantian dualist assumption. We have written much on this particular epistemic flaw, but I don't want to go further until you confirm or clarify what your position is here.


Even more bigger picture, my assertion is that we are not going to get very far explaining phenomenal experience if we start with abstract assumptions and try to make logical deductions from them. My preferred approach is phenomenology, which starts with the givens of experience without any added assumptions (not even that the ontological primitive is experiential and there is only experiential), and actually that is the only approach which makes sense to me right now.
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GrantHenderson
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Re: Principles of Mind and Philosophy

Post by GrantHenderson »

1 - What does it mean for there to be an "entity" which is "equal" to Reality? It seems the word "entity" assumes a static 'thing' which observes all that seems 'external' to it, which then implies a dualism which we could think of as "static thing vs. evolving experiential process". The word "equal" seems to assume some sort of quantitative equivalence, even though the fundamental experiential Reality you are positing as ontological primitive is qualitative.

It's quite possible I am understanding what you mean by these words and I would like to hear your clarifications, but then at the very least I think better terms could be used.


I can see how the word “entity” throws you off. I will mend my statement to something along the lines of; consciousness as a whole = reality. So I don’t intend to imply that consciousness is “a static 'thing' which observes all that seems 'external' to it” as you have assumed. As you may have missed, I actually further clarify this towards the end of that section:

“The empirical fact and first principle of this theory which claims that mind = reality can be stated more specifically as “consciousness/reality is self contained”. Reality as a whole must be self contained – whereby that which is real enough to exist, exists contained within reality. Anything purported to exist outside of reality would by definition be a part of reality because if it is intelligible enough to express, then it is real enough to exist. Thus, anything that is real enough to exist is contained within reality. In order for reality to contain itself, it must be equal to itself because if reality were unequal to itself, it would be ontologically separate from itself and thereby constitute multiple self contained entities.”

This should have ameliorated your misunderstanding. However, I understand why you were confused regardless. Also, you do point to a legitimate flaw here. It is important to clarify the distinction between reality at large and “dissociative alters” (as Kastrup would put it). So I will discard the word “entity” and replace it with something along the lines of “mind at large”.

With this clarification in mind, claiming mind = reality as an ontologically primitive is no different than saying mind is reality. This does not assume a quantitative equivalence any more or less than it does assume a qualitative equivalence. It's just saying that mind = reality. Plain and simple.

2 - Related to the above, it seems you are assuming the conscious "entity" must recreate a model of seemingly 'external' experiences within itself in order to engage in explanatory science. This is basically the Kantian dualist assumption. We have written much on this particular epistemic flaw, but I don't want to go further until you confirm or clarify what your position is here.

What makes you assume such? All I explicitly mention here is that the mind infers an explanatory model of reality (and that this implies a cost of epistemic reduction). Not that the mind “recreates a model of seemingly 'external' experiences within itself in order to engage in explanatory science.”

You have to look farther down the post to see where I stand on how the mind forms inferences. I believe that a conscious entity (or an “alter”) self identifies as both or either reality at large, and as the internal state of that alter. The alter forms inferences when it’s internal state interacts with reality at large. So the alter is not creating models of its external environment purely within its internal state of mind.

I hope this clarifies some things for you.

It’s hard to tell whether you have really gotten to the actual idea that my theory is trying to convey however. Principles 3 and 4 are where I think things get pretty interesting. I'm interested in hearing your thoughts if you have the time.

Thanks for the feedback.
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AshvinP
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Re: Principles of Mind and Philosophy

Post by AshvinP »

GrantHenderson wrote: Sun Sep 26, 2021 3:32 am With this clarification in mind, claiming mind = reality as an ontologically primitive (OP) is no different than saying mind is reality. This does not assume a quantitative equivalence any more or less than it does assume a qualitative equivalence. It's just saying that mind = reality. Plain and simple.

Ok so Principle 1 is simply stating that the OP is "mind", which is the a priori assumption you are making? Because at the beginning you say - "By defining consciousness as an entity which experiences, 4 principles of mind can be derived which gives rise to all experiential phenomena". I don't understand how Principle 1 can be "derived" if it is an a priori assumption.

Grant wrote:
Ashvin wrote:2 - Related to the above, it seems you are assuming the conscious "entity" must recreate a model of seemingly 'external' experiences within itself in order to engage in explanatory science. This is basically the Kantian dualist assumption. We have written much on this particular epistemic flaw, but I don't want to go further until you confirm or clarify what your position is here.
What makes you assume such? All I explicitly mention here is that the mind infers an explanatory model of reality (and that this implies a cost of epistemic reduction). Not that the mind “recreates a model of seemingly 'external' experiences within itself in order to engage in explanatory science.”

You have to look farther down the post to see where I stand on how the mind forms inferences. I believe that a conscious entity (or an “alter”) self identifies as both or either reality at large, and as the internal state of that alter. The alter forms inferences when it’s internal state interacts with reality at large. So the alter is not creating models of its external environment purely within its internal state of mind.

I hope this clarifies some things for you.

It’s hard to tell whether you have really gotten to the actual idea that my theory is trying to convey however. Principles 3 and 4 are where I think things get pretty interesting. I'm interested in hearing your thoughts if you have the time.

Thanks for the feedback.

Let me just state my position up front which I felt was at odds with your conclusions - there is no principled reason that Mind cannot fully know itself, as in cognize itself in detailed resolution, without any "epistemic reduction" which necessitates limited "alters". Put another way, there are fundamentally "no limits to qualitative knowing". I understand that "limits to Mind cognizing itself" is the default position of most Western idealism, certainly in the Kantian tradition (which I consider Schopenhauer to be in and therefore BK as well). Generally this leads to the view that perceived-cognized aspects of Reality are simply 'meta-cognitive' "recursive" loops which may as well be called "illusions". And what you wrote above once again gives me the impression that you hold to this position. Furthermore, you employ an analogy to computing machines which feedback 'outputs' to 'inputs' in linear time, but I don't think linear time and linear cause-effect is applicable to a consistent monism-idealism (and I don't think our essential cognition functions as a computing machine).

But, since this argument about "limits to knowing" is the one we are almost always having on this forum within idealism, it's possible I am just reading that into your conclusions somehow. It would help if you could just state your main conclusions for me. Thanks.

PS - Once we grant that there are, in fact, fragmented perspectives of MAL, I think the way you frame the process of those perspectives acquiring knowledge (which I would associate with "integrating towards encompassing more of total Reality") is pretty unique and perhaps true in some ways, but I suspect it is an incomplete formulation of the process.
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Re: Principles of Mind and Philosophy

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Ok so Principle 1 is simply stating that the OP is "mind", which is the a priori assumption you are making? Because at the beginning you say - "By defining consciousness as an entity which experiences, 4 principles of mind can be derived which gives rise to all experiential phenomena". I don't understand how Principle 1 can be "derived" if it is an a priori assumption.
Good point. Principle 1 is not derived, but is self evidenced from the empirical fact that we experience reality. Principles 2,3 and 4 are then derived from principle 1. I’ll fix this.

Let me just state my position up front which I felt was at odds with your conclusions - there is no principled reason that Mind cannot fully know itself, as in cognize itself in detailed resolution, without any "epistemic reduction" which necessitates limited "alters". Put another way, there are fundamentally "no limits to qualitative knowing". I understand that "limits to Mind cognizing itself" is the default position of most Western idealism, certainly in the Kantian tradition (which I consider Schopenhauer to be in and therefore BK as well). Generally this leads to the view that perceived-cognized aspects of Reality are simply 'meta-cognitive' "recursive" loops which may as well be called "illusions". And what you wrote above once again gives me the impression that you hold to this position.

I believe that the mind can completely cognize itself, but that it is then void of informational properties, and therefore is not “meta conscious”. My point is that the “complete cognization” of mind cannot have informational properties, and that the cognizing of information cannot also be complete cognization. In the sense that the mind cannot be both “informational” and “completely cognized simultaneously, '' you would be correct in assuming that I am demonstrating how the mind cannot fully cognize itself. But I’m not sure if that is what you mean.

If, however, you mean that the mind can fully cognize itself and be informational simultaneously, I'm confused by how you justify your counter position to be true, since you also state that it conflicts with Kastrups and Schopenhauer's analytic idealism (I think?).

Furthermore, you employ an analogy to computing machines which feedback 'outputs' to 'inputs' in linear time, but I don't think linear time and linear cause-effect is applicable to a consistent monism-idealism (and I don't think our essential cognition functions as a computing machine).

Good point. It’s not accurate to use computing feedback loops as an analogy. I do believe it is some sort of “proto computational” feedback loop.

I concede that my formulation probably has many execution errors that need to be addressed. Also, I do believe that the 4 principles are comprehensive, but that I have not addressed all their implications. I will keep working on this.
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Re: Principles of Mind and Philosophy

Post by AshvinP »

Grant,

Thank you for considering my criticisms-feedback with an open mind.

GrantHenderson wrote: Sun Sep 26, 2021 1:22 pm
Ashvin wrote:Let me just state my position up front which I felt was at odds with your conclusions - there is no principled reason that Mind cannot fully know itself, as in cognize itself in detailed resolution, without any "epistemic reduction" which necessitates limited "alters". Put another way, there are fundamentally "no limits to qualitative knowing". I understand that "limits to Mind cognizing itself" is the default position of most Western idealism, certainly in the Kantian tradition (which I consider Schopenhauer to be in and therefore BK as well). Generally this leads to the view that perceived-cognized aspects of Reality are simply 'meta-cognitive' "recursive" loops which may as well be called "illusions". And what you wrote above once again gives me the impression that you hold to this position.
I believe that the mind can completely cognize itself, but that it is then void of informational properties, and therefore is not “meta conscious”. My point is that the “complete cognization” of mind cannot have informational properties, and that the cognizing of information cannot also be complete cognization. In the sense that the mind cannot be both “informational” and “completely cognized simultaneously, '' you would be correct in assuming that I am demonstrating how the mind cannot fully cognize itself. But I’m not sure if that is what you mean.

If, however, you mean that the mind can fully cognize itself and be informational simultaneously, I'm confused by how you justify your counter position to be true, since you also state that it conflicts with Kastrups and Schopenhauer's analytic idealism (I think?).

Furthermore, you employ an analogy to computing machines which feedback 'outputs' to 'inputs' in linear time, but I don't think linear time and linear cause-effect is applicable to a consistent monism-idealism (and I don't think our essential cognition functions as a computing machine).

Good point. It’s not accurate to use computing feedback loops as an analogy. I do believe it is some sort of “proto computational” feedback loop.

I concede that my formulation probably has many execution errors that need to be addressed. Also, I do believe that the 4 principles are comprehensive, but that I have not addressed all their implications. I will keep working on this.

Right, we disagree on this in bold. I equate "informational properties", under idealism, to qualitative meaning, and I hold the complete qualitative meaning of Reality can be cognized in principle. This view is definitely in conflict with idealism Schop and BK (and basically all of modern philosophy, whether rationalist, dualist, materialist, idealist, etc., apart from a select few thinkers). So this is why I mentioned the Kantian dualism before, because I am trying to figure out what assumption may be leading to your assertion in bold. I don't think you are starting from correct assumptions and simply reasoning poorly, because the reasoning seems fine to me (apart from that computing machine analogy). Obviously it is also possible that my position here is simply incorrect and Schop-BK idealism is correct.

One thing that jumps out is it seems you are assuming abstract intellect (which creates abstract models of sense-perceptions) is the limit of human cognition, or the only mode of cognition which can be employed in scientific knowing. That is where I would say Kant and Schop mostly go wrong as well, which is also related to internal-external dualism (mind recreates internally the total perceptual content which exists externally). Here is a post written by Cleric on Kantian-Schop epistemology, which also reflects my position, so maybe you can read and tell me how you feel about the argument. It is somewhat long but very instructive, and highlights an alternative perspective on scientific knowing to Kant's - that of Goethe. I think your own premises in the essay also support the below line of reasoning:

Cleric wrote:The Kantian split is that we assume our thinking is experienced entirely 'on our side' of reality and perceptions indirectly inform us about the 'other side'. Let's step back and consider what is really given in the riddle of existence. What is given is perceptions - colors, sounds, feelings, etc. Where is the 'real' world of which the perceptions are only representations? Where do we find it in the given? Simple - there's isn't such a thing. The idea the there should exist an inaccessible world behind the perceptions is something that we add through our thinking (quite unconsciously for most) on top of the given. This is something so simple and yet something so deep that people simply look at it and can't believe that it's a matter of deeply ingrained preconceived idea that completely shapes their feel for reality.

It is true that perceptions meet us as a mystery. We don't understand why and how they appear and disappear from the field of our consciousness. But does this require of itself that the explanations for the perceptions exist in some impenetrable world on the 'other side' of our consciousness? Not really. Such an idea can never be the result of something that we know directly from the given. Why? Because we by definition say that the 'other side' of reality can never be known directly from 'our side'. If we were to know the reality of the 'other side' through some perception this would mean that it is accessible from 'our side' and this defeats the whole purpose of the split. Actually the idea for the 'other side' of our consciousness is the most abstract idea we can conjure up. It's so abstract that it can never be confirmed through anything that we can ever perceive. It exists only as long as we support it by belief.

So the fact that we don't understand why perceptions act and move like they do doesn't require out of itself that the causes for these perceptions lie behind some impenetrable boundary (for example God's mind in contrast to our mind). The only certain thing in the given is that we experience perceptions. That's all. Any hypothesizing about the source of the perceptions is already added through thinking. In PoF we realize that there's at least one thing in the World Content where the ideal is united with the perceptual and that's thinking. Imagine what would it be if you experienced verbal thoughts only as auditory perception without any meaning. They would be the same as any other external auditory perception of unknown language. Thoughts are what they are only because we have their perceptions in unity with ideas. Thinking is where the world of perceptions is united with the world of ideas. This already gives the essential nature of what any quest for knowledge is (check Steiner's quote in Ashvin's post here). In other words, our thirst for knowledge is satisfied only when we reveal through our spiritual activity (whether thinking or higher forms of cognition) the missing ideal element that complements perceptions and reveals their complete reality. This is for example what Goethe did, admittedly still in an instinctive way, with his archetypal plant. When he contemplated the plant his soul was not satisfied only with the sensory perceptions and the most immediate patterns of growth recognizable by the intellect. He was looking at the plant only as a momentary form in the process of metamorphosis, by experiencing the whole process as the living and mobile idea of the archetypal plant. When we speak we use sentences. Every isolated word is understood properly only if it is taken as a part of the idea of the whole sentence. In a similar way Goethe experienced how the archetypal plant idea extending in time is responsible for the plant's metamorphosis, in the same way that our thinking ideas are responsible for the temporal sequence of verbal words of the sentence. Through this Goethe was already exploring in instinctive manner what today we call Imaginative consciousness.

We shouldn't confuse limitations of our perceptions and cognitive abilities with self-imposed hard boundaries to what can and can't be known. For example, in the moment I'm in my room. My perceptions are limited to the interior. But if I exercise my will and step outside, different perceptions will be presented to me. It's similar with cognition. If I look at text written in unknown to me language or if I'm staring at math problem that I can't solve, this speaks only for my own current limitations. But it'll be foolish (and quite arrogant) to declare that just because I don't understand the text or I can't solve the problem, or I'm too lazy to step outside, it follows that it is in principle impossible to do so.
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Re: Principles of Mind and Philosophy

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The manuscript you shared reflects my position well.

I think I should reaffirm that — as per my view — the mind doesn’t “recreate internally the total perceptual content which exists externally”, but falsely assumes that it does…(Hence why that anomaly has proven so deceptive ;)). And this is an important aspect of my formulation.

We still have to account for the empirical fact that we only have direct “control” over limited aspects of that which we experience (limbs, toes), and not other aspects (like the weather). While objectively there is no impenetrable boundary separating the internal from the external, it is true that mind at large must ascribe some sort of boundary, even if the nature of that ascription is logically fallacious.

I think this false identification of the mind as ontologically unequal to reality is the only reason it can perceive qualitative discernments. For example, as mentioned in the text you shared “Every isolated word is understood only if it is taken as a part of the idea of the whole sentence”. This still means that the meaning of the “isolated word” must in some way be distinguished from the meaning of all other words. If the meaning of all words were indistinguishable, there would be no way to attribute any meaning to any particular word, and therefore there would be no “isolated words” to distinguish between. In the same way, your hypothesis that the mind can be completely cognized and have informational properties simultaneously doesn’t seem to work (as far as I can tell). Could you clarify how this would work as per your framework?

P.S. Sorry for the late response. Work has been busy.
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Re: Principles of Mind and Philosophy

Post by AshvinP »

Grant,

Thanks for the response, and no worries on the timing.

GrantHenderson wrote: Thu Sep 30, 2021 10:48 pm The manuscript you shared reflects my position well.

I think I should reaffirm that — as per my view — the mind doesn’t “recreate internally the total perceptual content which exists externally”, but falsely assumes that it does…(Hence why that anomaly has proven so deceptive ;)). And this is an important aspect of my formulation.

We still have to account for the empirical fact that we only have direct “control” over limited aspects of that which we experience (limbs, toes), and not other aspects (like the weather). While objectively there is no impenetrable boundary separating the internal from the external, it is true that mind at large must ascribe some sort of boundary, even if the nature of that ascription is logically fallacious.

Yes, I agree we need to account for this empirical fact and all empirical facts. That is actually my biggest criticism of BK's idealism - it really accounts for no empirical facts. It is helpful to discern some overarching principles which make sense of the broad fact, for ex., that there is a sensory world with apparent 'boundaries' in the first place, but that is not the same as accounting for what those 'boundaries' actually are i.e. how they function in our immanent experience. I don't want to get too sidetracked into that discussion yet, though. For now, it seems your logic above makes clear that the "boundaries" are not real ones and therefore the "limited control" cannot possibly be absolute without contradicting the underlying metaphysical idealism. I think most idealists agree with that, but the main difference is that BK idealism says, "when the artificial boundaries are dissolved after physical life, there is no more structured cognition of the sort necessary for science". That is where the flawed assumptions creep in and then lead one to conclude, "Mind cannot scientifically know Itself".

When you say Mind "falsely assumes that it 'recreates internally the total perceptual content which exists externally'", are you then implying this is why Mind cannot, in principle, know itself? In other words, Mind tries to recreate the total content within its dissociated boundaries, and convinces itself that it is doing so, but it really isn't and it never can? If so, then we still disagree. My view, reflected by Cleric and Goethe in the quoted post, is that one-half of the World's perceptual content arrives to us from within by way of our inner concepts, while the other half arrives from without as [outer] sensory-perceptions. In the process of knowing we are not simply observing the phenomenal world, but we are co-creating it. Much of this happens subconsciously by way of inner intuitions and imaginations which arrive together with the sensory-perceptions, but also our normal intellectual reasoning is engaged in this co-creative process as well. When we shift to that perspective, it should become much more clear why there is no fundamental limit to what (or how) we can know of the total World Content.


Grant wrote:I think this false identification of the mind as ontologically unequal to reality is the only reason it can perceive qualitative discernments. For example, as mentioned in the text you shared “Every isolated word is understood only if it is taken as a part of the idea of the whole sentence”. This still means that the meaning of the “isolated word” must in some way be distinguished from the meaning of all other words. If the meaning of all words were indistinguishable, there would be no way to attribute any meaning to any particular word, and therefore there would be no “isolated words” to distinguish between. In the same way, your hypothesis that the mind can be completely cognized and have informational properties simultaneously doesn’t seem to work (as far as I can tell). Could you clarify how this would work as per your framework?

P.S. Sorry for the late response. Work has been busy.

Well, I think we sort of agree here, but I just wouldn't call the process of qualitative differentiation "false". I don't hold there is any reason why the Mind must cognize Itself as divided from or separate to the qualitative discernments, even though that is generally how we all cognize the world in the modern age. My position is that, in the ancient past, and also in the future, qualtiative discernments of Mind will be distinctions without divisions. The words will retain their meanings without ever being reified into meanings isolated and separate from the holistic meaning of the sentence, paragraphs, etc. they are embedded within. Again, this is all very hard to imagine from the perspective of abstract intellect, whose entire purpose (until recently) has been to reify distinctions into divisions (and that serves an integral purpose in my overall framework), but such mere intellect is really a momentary blip on the vast 'timescale' of the Cosmos.

PS - When I speak of "purpose", I am not talking about any external agent guiding the Cosmos, but rather the natural unfolding of the inner ideal logic through which the phenomenal perceptual-conceptual world is manifested.
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