Stranger wrote: ↑Tue Feb 28, 2023 5:45 pm
Well, if we are still in idealism, then all these processes are only conscious experiences, whether they happen within the stream of phenomena of our individual conscious activities, or those of higher-order beings, or at the level of the Divine subjectivity. The particularities of this process is the subject of SS as far as I understand it.
As I said before, when I exercise my own willing, intuitive and imaginative abilities, I can follow phenomenologically how the willing gestures and imaginations-intuitions precipitate into more concrete forms, ideas and percepts. But I have no direct access to the process of how the idea of an "apple" in the imagination-intuition of higher-order beings (which I can intuitively access as a shared idea) precipitate into percepts within my own field of conscious phenomena. If you have any knowledge of this mechanism, I would be very interested to know about it.
We can, of course, enter into the details right away but as usual it's better to cover the groundwork first. This is what those conversations always revolve around anyway.
The first step would be not
to arbitrarily expand the form of consciousness as we know it today, to everything. Let me explain.
If we look closely, we can discover that our human imagination develops together with the development of memory. On one hand we have the immediate perceptions which are present in the now - present sense perceptions, feelings, thoughts. Memory manifests as the possibility to experience memory images of past states, as if superimposed with our present immediate state. For most people these images are of much more fleeting nature, hardly having the intensity of immediate perceptions. Imagination (in the ordinary sense) develops as our ability to move, recombine and metamorphose memory images through our spiritual activity. In this way, our imagination grows from our past experiential states and our ability to summon their memory images.
This is the first thing - to have clear phenomenological distinction between immediate perceptions and memory/imaginative images. As a side note, memory images are of similar nature as the images of our imagination, except that in the former case we seek certain lawfulness of the images (because we want to remember correctly), while in the latter we can completely loosen that lawfulness, as it is in the case of fantasy (there we don't really care if the images are lawfully connected). Thus when we remember we try to imagine something but we seek certain objective support, we seek something that goes beyond our free fantasizing activity. We can turn this into a very interesting exercise. We can try for example to remember what we had for breakfast. We imagine vividly the whole scene. Then replace in our imagination the food with something that we did not
have. So in the first case we're remembering, in the second we're fantasizing. It's very interesting to observe what we're really doing in one case and another. What makes it different when we try to imagine the actual food that we had and what when we fantasize the food. It's not that important to have a clear cut intellectual explanation but to really feel the difference, how in the case of remembering we seek something additional to the image, some quality which is not of our own making but which helps us distinguish a memory image from fantasy (this doesn't imply that this quality is absolutely reliable).
If we don't make the distinction between immediate perceptions and images we can easily fall for the first trap where we superficially call everything 'consciousness' and 'conscious contents'. Yes, in the most general sense both immediate sense perceptions and memories/fantasies of sense perceptions are conscious contents but if we don't recognize also the difference, we'll be making our further progress practically impossible.
Why is that? Because we too hastily put everything in the same general bucket which leads us to believe that our human consciousness and imagination, in the way we know them today, are already representative of the Divine Mind. In other words, we imagine something like this. We can imagine an apple (which is really lifting a memory image of an apple that we have seen through the senses). We can surely feel how through our imaginative activity we're creatively responsible for the image. We can make the apple smaller, larger, green, red, rotten, etc. (it doesn't matter if we can imagine it only very dimly). Then we extrapolate this experience and say "So reality is of the nature of images in consciousness. For some strange reason my imagination is not powerful enough to create a sensory apple and eat it but for a more powerful imagination this is how reality must be coming into form. The Divine mind is surely powerful enough to imagine an apple and eat it, so to speak."
As said, we can't go too far if we don't analyze very well what we're doing in a case like the above. We indeed extrapolate our human imagination and expect that this is how the Divine operates, except that it is more powerful. But we don't have right to extrapolate in this way. Otherwise we unknowingly already declare how reality should operate. Not because we have investigated how it really works but only because we have decided that we're already share our conscious 'geometry' with the highest Divine and thus the difference lies only in the power of our imagination.
When we do that, we act like a painter. What does a painter do when she wants to draw a cat, for example? She starts with a rough sketch, then paints the main areas, then elaborates the fine details and shades. This however has nothing to do with the way the living cat comes into form. We can paint a cat even without knowing that it has internal organs, that it has grown from a single cell and so on. We can commit the same mistake when we try to understand reality as extension of our human imagination. We inevitably reach a point where we imagine that some higher being 'painted' the cat within the Divine subjectivity and we see it and become confused by thinking that there's a real cat out there, while it is only an imagined picture of a cat floating in Divine subjectivity.
There are so many things to be said here but at this time I just wanted to point this important distinction between immediate perceptions and memory/imagined images (this is somewhat related with Federica's question from some time ago about our conception of will and the experiential will). So before we can go any further, what in your view is the relation between images in memory/imagination and immediate sensory perception? What's the difference between looking at an apple with your eyes and summoning the image of an apple later in your meditations?