How knowable is the world we experience?

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Ben Iscatus
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How knowable is the world we experience?

Post by Ben Iscatus »

Q:Hegel believed there is no thing-in-itself, no hidden essence, but that things appear as they are, which makes them intersubjectively knowable. And according to Coleridge's "primary imagination" and Barfield's "final participation", it is possible (at least in theory) to find the indwelling spirit of phenomena. So why does Analytic Idealism go with Kant and say a thing-in-itself is transcendent and unknowable?

A. There are two ways to answer this.
First, the science:

We know both from Evolutionary theory and from the laws of thermodynamics that we only have access to a representation of the world - not a transparent windscreen on to reality, but a perceptual interface - what we, as hairless monkeys in a planetary ecosystem need to survive.

The argument from evolutionary theory is demonstrated by Don Hoffman's Desktop Icon metaphor (with mathematical support). We do not see a computer file as the switches on a silicon chip, but as an icon on a desktop. This is the most we need to make use of it. Too much information about anything would slow us down and, in our planetary environment, we'd soon become extinct as a species.

The argument from physics, is given by Bernardo Kastrup's Aeroplane Dashboard metaphor - of how an instrument panel limits the information reaching our senses, because to know a full storm outside the aircraft would overwhelm us and turn us to "entropic soup". He also illustrates this by what, for epistemic convenience, we call a car. A car needs metal made in stars, air for its fuel, a road for its tyres, the Earth to support the road, gravity to give it traction, and gravity needs the whole planet. So a car is not really a bounded knowable object, it is entangled with the rest of the universe.

Second, the metaphysics:

The first thing we need to appreciate is that, for Analytic Idealism, there is really only one mind - the transpersonal mind. Mind at Large (MAL) exists beyond time and space (that's a definition of transcendent). As a singular field of subjectivity, It has no way of judging the contents of its own mind -there is no resistance, it just is what it is, and all it does is joyful self-expression. Being unbounded, Transpersonal MAL literally has no sense of perspective. It gets perspective from its own dissociated alters, personal minds bounded in time and space - immanent perspectives within its transcendent mind.

Although all phenomena are in reality entangled in the transpersonal mind so that there is no independent "thing in itself", in the context of struggle in a planetary environment, bound in time and space, we alters of MAL are capable of singling something out, a phenomenon, for epistemic convenience. So how far can any phenomeonon be known?

Let's consider an example - take the Taj Mahal. What is it? It's an icon on the screen of perception representing the mausoleum's whole history, from initial inspiration and planning to the time it becomes a crumbling ruin; its original purpose, and how that changes over the years; the atmosphere inside it; everything that ever happens inside it; and how it fits into its environment. Naturally the more we know of its history, the more we can appreciate it. But can anyone ever comprehend all of this? Of course not. We only ever grasp a partial representation, a snapshot image, of it, because, as alters, our immanent minds are bound within time and space.

Now let's consider also the archetypal ideas or transpersonal instincts originating in Mind at Large which inspired the building of the Taj Mahal.

Koranic inscriptions in the domed hall suggest (in accordance with Islamic literary convention) that all phenomena have both an exoteric, or revealed aspect (called zahir), and an esoteric, or concealed aspect (called batin); and the architectural complexity of the Taj Mahal appears to support this. A major archetypal theme is the idea of perfection: perfection in symmetry, in the paradise garden and in the idea of the Perfect Man. Does the Taj Mahal exhaust the idea of perfection (harmony, symmetry, efficiency)? No, of course not. As a phenomenon, it can only partially instantiate the idea, representing it in various ways according to the understanding of those involved in the mausoleum's planning, construction and use.

Clearly, then, we find ourselves unable to plumb the depths of the transpersonal mind, either in the phenomenon itself, or in the ideas which inform and inspire the phenomenon.

Our art, music, story, poetry, architecture, and performing arts point to, express and react to some of MAL's primal archetypal instincts. But even going beyond conceptual reasoning using intuition, empathy (emotional intelligence) and imagination, whatever we manifest artistically must be "secondary", as Coleridge said, or remain, as Plato put it, an imperfect copy of the ideas in the transpersonal mind. In Analytic Idealist terms, Plato's ideas become MAL's instincts, that is, MAL's preferred patterns of expression, the archetypal templates of MAL's mentation.

MAL's archetypal templates are actually formless (empty of any form). Human creativity merely samples their rich possibilities. That the archetypes are unfathomable and inexhaustible is vital, because it means our architecture, poetry, mythmaking and art will never lack inspiration - there will always be room and requirement for new expressions, interpretations and motifs.

But, as already indicated, that is not the whole story. A person who reflects upon the Taj Mahal, doing so from a limited, egoic perspective, might decide, for instance, that he prefers it to St Paul's Cathedral, giving his reasons. This is important, because this person's unique metacognitive perspective filters back (after death) to Mind at Large. In this way, MAL gains the added flavours of our aesthetics and the added nuances of our judgements.

Our preferences, our desire to find happiness and avoid pain, ensure that we bring meaning and value to MAL' s transcendent table. They allow MAL's archetypal instincts to be refined. Instincts which permit cruelty and suffering are weakened, while those which encourage cooperation and joy are reinforced. This is the "participation" required of us as alters within the transpersonal mind - our immanent, bounded, egoic reflections; our preferences. It is the primary reason that we exist. 1.

We are dream avatars exploring MAL's dreamed-up reality. The purpose of our existence is MAL's purpose for us. While we are bounded in time and space, we are immanent in MAL's dream and partake of or borrow MAL's subjectivity. There may be degrees of awakening for each alter, dreams within dreams for each avatar, as MAL absorbs each of our experiences ...but when we are fully awake, we once again become transcendent; we once again become Mind at Large. This is the ultimate participation.


1. A secondary purpose is to explore MAL's phenomenal nature through science: including to model other, perhaps more elegant, ways that MAL might express itself .Consider for instance supersymmetry and M theory in physics, and Professor Alice Robert's experiment to imagine the perfect human body https://www.radiotimes.com/tv/documenta ... o-science/
Starbuck
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Re: How knowable is the world we experience?

Post by Starbuck »

Ben Iscatus wrote: Fri Jan 07, 2022 1:06 pm Q:So why does Analytic Idealism go with Kant and say a thing-in-itself is transcendent and unknowable?



Hi Ben. I've never read this as a an axiom of analytic idealism. BK and Schopenhauer actually challenge Kant's dualism by invoking a 'fallen' or dissociated trick by which what is real appears unknown or unknowable. As you imply, what is not known is an artefact of the alters limitations and wonder. As you say, we will never lack that wonder and inspiration, it is the rocket fuel that drives an activity (not just arts and science) born out of restful, still emptiness. Your metaphors and phrasing beautifully capture this. Analytic idealism is just the precise stating of the perennial philosophy.

Jus a small note - if M@L is timeless , or always 'now', is it correct to say that our experiences are uploaded after death, surely this is all real time as it were?
Ben Iscatus
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Re: How knowable is the world we experience?

Post by Ben Iscatus »

Starbuck, thank you very much for this.

I agree - the point about Kant is what a questioner might assume...could your nuanced point be put in such a way as to change the question or the answer?

What you say about the connection to the Perennial Philosophy is very good.

BK has stated a few times in podcasts that memories and insights (by the way, I feel I should have used the word "insights" instead of "preferences" towards the end) are released into MAL after death - I am supposing he means from the point of view of we dissociated alters rather than MAL's point of view, which I agree, is timeless or encompassing all time.
Starbuck
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Re: How knowable is the world we experience?

Post by Starbuck »

So why does Analytic Idealism appear to go with Kant and say a thing-in-itself is transcendent and unknowable?
Ben Iscatus
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Joined: Fri Jan 15, 2021 6:15 pm

Re: How knowable is the world we experience?

Post by Ben Iscatus »

Thanks again Starbuck!

Q:Hegel believed there is no thing-in-itself, no hidden essence, but that things appear as they are, which makes them intersubjectively knowable. And according to Coleridge's "primary imagination" and Barfield's "final participation", it is possible (at least in theory) to find the indwelling spirit of phenomena. So why does Analytic Idealism appear to go with Kant and say a thing-in-itself is transcendent and unknowable?

A. There are two ways to answer this.
First, the science:

We know both from Evolutionary theory and from the laws of thermodynamics that we only have access to a representation of the world - not a transparent windscreen on to reality, but a perceptual interface - what we, as hairless monkeys in a planetary ecosystem need to survive.

The argument from evolutionary theory is demonstrated by Don Hoffman's Desktop Icon metaphor (with mathematical support). We do not see a computer file as the switches on a silicon chip, but as an icon on a desktop. This is the most we need to make use of it. Too much information about anything would slow us down and, in our planetary environment, we'd soon become extinct as a species.

The argument from physics, is given by Bernardo Kastrup's Aeroplane Dashboard metaphor - of how an instrument panel limits the information reaching our senses, because to know a full storm outside the aircraft would overwhelm us and turn us to "entropic soup". He also illustrates this by what, for epistemic convenience, we call a car. A car needs metal made in stars, air for its fuel, a road for its tyres, the Earth to support the road, gravity to give it traction, and gravity needs the whole planet. So a car is not really a bounded knowable object, it is entangled with the rest of the universe.

Second, the metaphysics:

The first thing we need to appreciate is that, for Analytic Idealism, there is really only one mind - the transpersonal mind. Mind at Large (MAL) exists beyond time and space (that's a definition of transcendent). As a singular field of subjectivity, It has no way of judging the contents of its own mind -there is no resistance, it just is what it is, and all it does is joyful self-expression. Being unbounded, Transpersonal MAL literally has no sense of perspective. It gets perspective from its own dissociated alters, personal minds bounded in time and space - immanent perspectives within its transcendent mind.

Although all phenomena are in reality entangled in the transpersonal mind so that there is no independent "thing in itself", in the context of struggle in a planetary environment, bound in time and space, we alters of MAL are capable of singling something out, a phenomenon, for epistemic convenience. So how far can any phenomeonon be known?

Let's consider an example - take the Taj Mahal. What is it? It's an icon on the screen of perception representing the mausoleum's whole history, from initial inspiration and planning to the time it becomes a crumbling ruin; its original purpose, and how that changes over the years; the atmosphere inside it; everything that ever happens inside it; and how it fits into its environment. Naturally the more we know of its history, the more we can appreciate it. But can anyone ever comprehend all of this? Of course not. We only ever grasp a partial representation, a snapshot image, of it, because, as alters, our immanent minds are bound within time and space.

Now let's consider also the archetypal ideas or transpersonal instincts originating in Mind at Large which inspired the building of the Taj Mahal.

Koranic inscriptions in the domed hall suggest (in accordance with Islamic literary convention) that all phenomena have both an exoteric, or revealed aspect (called zahir), and an esoteric, or concealed aspect (called batin); and the architectural complexity of the Taj Mahal appears to support this. A major archetypal theme is the idea of perfection: perfection in symmetry, in the paradise garden and in the idea of the Perfect Man. Does the Taj Mahal exhaust the idea of perfection (harmony, symmetry, efficiency)? No, of course not. As a phenomenon, it can only partially instantiate the idea, representing it in various ways according to the understanding of those involved in the mausoleum's planning, construction and use.

Clearly, then, we find ourselves unable to plumb the depths of the transpersonal mind, either in the phenomenon itself, or in the ideas which inform and inspire the phenomenon.

Our art, music, story, poetry, architecture, and performing arts point to, express and react to some of MAL's primal archetypal instincts. But even going beyond conceptual reasoning using intuition, empathy (emotional intelligence) and imagination, whatever we manifest artistically must be "secondary", as Coleridge said, or remain, as Plato put it, an imperfect copy of the ideas in the transpersonal mind. In Analytic Idealist terms, Plato's ideas become MAL's instincts, that is, MAL's preferred patterns of expression, the archetypal templates of MAL's mentation.

MAL's archetypal templates are actually formless (empty of any form). Human creativity merely samples their rich possibilities. That the archetypes are unfathomable and inexhaustible is vital, because it means our architecture, poetry, mythmaking and art will never lack inspiration - there will always be room and requirement for new expressions, interpretations and motifs.

But, as already indicated, that is not the whole story. A person who reflects upon the Taj Mahal, doing so from a limited, egoic perspective, might decide, for instance, that he prefers it to St Paul's Cathedral, giving his reasons. This is important, because this person's unique metacognitive perspective filters back (after death) to Mind at Large. In this way, MAL gains the added flavours of our aesthetics and the added nuances of our judgements.

Our insights, our desire to find happiness and avoid pain, ensure that we bring meaning and value to MAL' s transcendent table. They allow MAL's archetypal instincts to be refined. Instincts which permit cruelty and suffering are weakened, while those which encourage cooperation and joy are reinforced. This is the "participation" required of us as alters within the transpersonal mind - our immanent, bounded, egoic reflections; our insights. It is the primary reason that we exist. 1.

We are dream avatars exploring MAL's dreamed-up reality. The purpose of our existence is MAL's purpose for us. While we are bounded in time and space, we are immanent in MAL's dream and partake of or borrow MAL's subjectivity. There may be degrees of awakening for each alter, dreams within dreams for each avatar, as MAL absorbs each of our experiences ...but when we are fully awake, we once again become transcendent; we once again become Mind at Large. This is the ultimate participation.


1. A secondary purpose is to explore MAL's phenomenal nature through science: including to model other, perhaps more elegant, ways that MAL might express itself .Consider for instance supersymmetry and M theory in physics, and Professor Alice Robert's experiment to imagine the perfect human body https://www.radiotimes.com/tv/documenta ... o-science/
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Starbuck
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Re: How knowable is the world we experience?

Post by Starbuck »

No Problem, you are obviously a published writer - or at least should be!
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AshvinP
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Re: How knowable is the world we experience?

Post by AshvinP »

Starbuck wrote: Wed Jan 12, 2022 11:06 am So why does Analytic Idealism appear to go with Kant and say a thing-in-itself is transcendent and unknowable?

Is this section limited to answers only BK would approve of? I think I tried to answer a question on another thread and you said that was the "purpose" of this section. If so, then the answer is simple - Kant and Schopenhauer were right, and the noumenon can only be known directly as "universal Will". All ideas about "universal Will" are illusory representations (how we are able to formulate that idea with confidence, nobody knows or cares...).
"To think what is true, to sense what is beautiful and to want what is good, hereby the spirit finds purpose of a life in reason.”
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AshvinP
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Re: How knowable is the world we experience?

Post by AshvinP »

Ben Iscatus wrote: Fri Jan 07, 2022 1:06 pm Q:Hegel believed there is no thing-in-itself, no hidden essence, but that things appear as they are, which makes them intersubjectively knowable. And according to Coleridge's "primary imagination" and Barfield's "final participation", it is possible (at least in theory) to find the indwelling spirit of phenomena. So why does Analytic Idealism go with Kant and say a thing-in-itself is transcendent and unknowable?

A. There are two ways to answer this.
First, the science:

Second, the metaphysics:
Ben,

Who is the Q and who is the A?

I notice the A didn't mention Hegel, Coleridge, or Barfield or any of their ideas in the answer :)

Actually Coleridge was mentioned once, but very briefly and even that brief mention was a misrepresentation. Coleridge says:

"The primary imagination I hold to be the living power and prime agent of all human perception, and as a repetition in the finite mind of the eternal act of creation in the infinite I Am."
"To think what is true, to sense what is beautiful and to want what is good, hereby the spirit finds purpose of a life in reason.”
Ben Iscatus
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Re: How knowable is the world we experience?

Post by Ben Iscatus »

Ash wrote:Ben,

Who is the Q and who is the A?

I notice the A didn't mention Hegel, Coleridge, or Barfield or any of their ideas in the answer :)

Actually Coleridge was mentioned once, but very briefly and even that brief mention was a misrepresentation. Coleridge says:

"The primary imagination I hold to be the living power and prime agent of all human perception, and as a repetition in the finite mind of the eternal act of creation in the infinite I Am."
Ash,
The Q and A are theoretical - what I think Analytic Idealism might say in response to such a question.

My view is that Analytic Idealism accepts Coleridge's poetic secondary imagination.
My understanding of Primary Imagination (admittedly based on a lecture I attended a long time ago!) is that it contends that a person can, with effort, look through ordinary perception to the noumenal reality. The thrust of the answer I've provided here is that Analytic Idealism would dispute this.

My purpose (in keeping with the subforum's agenda) is to give my best possible interpretation of the views of Analytic Idealism. If my answer does it a disservice, then I'm happy to amend either Q or A - I'm a student, not an expert.
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AshvinP
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Re: How knowable is the world we experience?

Post by AshvinP »

Ben Iscatus wrote: Wed Jan 12, 2022 7:02 pm
Ash wrote:Ben,

Who is the Q and who is the A?

I notice the A didn't mention Hegel, Coleridge, or Barfield or any of their ideas in the answer :)

Actually Coleridge was mentioned once, but very briefly and even that brief mention was a misrepresentation. Coleridge says:

"The primary imagination I hold to be the living power and prime agent of all human perception, and as a repetition in the finite mind of the eternal act of creation in the infinite I Am."
Ash,
The Q and A are theoretical - what I think Analytic Idealism might say in response to such a question.

My view is that Analytic Idealism accepts Coleridge's poetic secondary imagination.
My understanding of Primary Imagination (admittedly based on a lecture I attended a long time ago!) is that it contends that a person can, with effort, look through ordinary perception to the noumenal reality. The thrust of the answer I've provided here is that Analytic Idealism would dispute this.

My purpose (in keeping with the subforum's agenda) is to give my best possible interpretation of the views of Analytic Idealism. If my answer does it a disservice, then I'm happy to amend either Q or A - I'm a student, not an expert.

Ah ok. The answer was very well-written so I just assumed it was a professional philosopher of some sort. I also like the idea of these Q&As.

Yes, Coleridge would side with Hegel, Steiner, Barfield, etc. Actually I hear he had a lot of back and forth with Goethe, as they were writing at the same time.

There is a discord server where people are invited to submit questions to BK here for the "AMA" on 2/9 - https://discord.gg/
"To think what is true, to sense what is beautiful and to want what is good, hereby the spirit finds purpose of a life in reason.”
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