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ON THE QUESTION OF CONSCIOUSNESS

 
Jehu
 
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Jehu
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27 January 2008 18:44
 
Bruce Burleson - 26 January 2008 11:17 PM

Yes. Next installment, please.

Very well, I shall take it to mean that you accept my contention that there is only being, and naught else.

It follows then that the realm of being is a continuous and unbounded realm, there being naught else (i.e., no non-being) that might act either to partition it or to delimit it; for a thing can neither partition nor delimit itself.

 
 
goodgraydrab
 
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goodgraydrab
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27 January 2008 19:03
 
johnrobert - 25 January 2008 07:13 PM

A very appealing interpretation of this perception is that of an ever lingering, hidden in the shadows, kind of inner-self. It is most tempting to conclude that awareness and observation of this ‘extra’ self, is direct evidence of the existence of an entity, separate from me, my conscious me. Doubtless, many through out history have made the leap that this additional entity must be no other than an immortal soul. Could not these concepts be at the core of theories regarding a second self that lives after death and/or is reincarnated?

It may be tempting, but delusional nonetheless ... god delusion. I never heard of the I which is aware of the I, which is aware of the I, which is aware of the I ... was considered to be the I that gets to be aware of the I, which is aware of the I, which is aware of the I ... in ‘the afterlife’.

 
 
waltercat
 
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waltercat
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27 January 2008 19:27
 
Jehu - 27 January 2008 07:08 PM

With respect to you example “The present king of France.”, the reason that it is ‘perfectly meaningful’ is that although there is no actual entity associated with this designation

Yes.  So there is no present King of France.  He does not exist. And thus it makes sense to speak of the non-existent. QED

Good.

Now, where do you think that any of this is going?

 
 
burt
 
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burt
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27 January 2008 21:06
 
Jehu - 27 January 2008 11:34 PM
burt - 27 January 2008 03:19 AM

Jehu, have you been reading Parminides?

Before continuing this line of argument I suggest that all who would participate get hold of the Encyclopedia of Philosophy and read the entry on Nothing.

I should like to make it clear here, that I do not equate the term ‘nothing’ with the terms ‘non-existent’ or ‘non-being’.

Nor did I intend to imply that.  I was just giving a reference to an enjoyable read.  But you didn’t respond to my question: your arguments are a rehash of Parminides, and I don’t think that you really get what he was saying.

 
Jehu
 
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Jehu
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28 January 2008 10:47
 
waltercat - 28 January 2008 12:27 AM

Yes.  So there is no present King of France.  He does not exist. And thus it makes sense to speak of the non-existent. QED

There is not an ‘actual’ present king of France.

Let me see if I cannot shed some light on the problem. A ‘definition’ is a declarative statement, and like all statements comprises two complementary elements, a subject and a predicate. The subject of a definition is the term or designation itself, and represent the ‘existential referent’, while the predicate is merely an expression of the essential characteristics of that referent. For example, “Elisabeth is the present queen of the British Commonwealth”. While a predicate such as “the present queen of the British Commonwealth”, may be use as a placeholder for an existential referent, when one is unable to remember the name of that referent (i.e., Elisabeth), it is not itself a referent; and employing it in such a way may lead to confusion. The reason for this is that every declarative statement carriers with it the tacit implication that the relationship between the subject and its predicate is true; and it is for this reason that we call those people who knowingly make false declarations liars.

The problem with using a predicate such as ‘the present king of France’ as a subject, is that it tacitly implies that there is an actual existential referent who ‘is’ the present king of France (who’s name we simply do not know), when there is no actual person. Nevertheless, given that all of the terms that comprise the predicate are meaningful, one can easily imagine that there might be such a person; if one is not aware that there is no longer a monarchy in France. On the other hand, if you were to make such a statement to one who knew that there was no longer a monarchy in France, that person might accuse you of speaking nonsense, or even outright lying. Hence, I still maintain that such as predicate as “the present king of France’, is only meaningful if there is an existential referent - actual or imaginary.

 
 
Jehu
 
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Jehu
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28 January 2008 10:50
 
burt - 28 January 2008 02:06 AM

... But you didn’t respond to my question: your arguments are a rehash of Parminides, and I don’t think that you really get what he was saying.

With all due respect, I do not wish to discuss the ideas of Parmenides in this thread, neither do I wish to debate whether or not my understanding of Parmenides’ work is the correct one or not. I have said that I can provide a logical demonstration that there is a self which is beyond that which is generally held to be one’s self, and I would hope that you will judge my argument upon its own merit, and not upon what you think that some other has had to say on the subject.

 
 
waltercat
 
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waltercat
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28 January 2008 12:05
 

Jehu,

Two Points:

(1)  Yes, I can grant that the Present King of France is only imaginary.  But this should not be taken to imply that there is a real existent Present King of France.  There is no Present King of France, and that is why it makes sense to say that He is imaginary.

So, you need to explain why it is that we should think that that which is imaginary is “existent” in any sense.  The more obvious interpretation is that that which is imaginary does not exist.  (and of course that which does not exist is the non-existent.)

(2) The work of prior philosophers is relevant here.  Parmenides is very pertinent as is, obviously, the work of 20th century philosophers of language such as Bertrand Russell.  If we ignore their insights, we run the risk of making very elemental errors and drawing vast (an wrong) conclusions from these errors.

 
 
burt
 
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burt
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28 January 2008 17:00
 
Jehu - 28 January 2008 03:50 PM
burt - 28 January 2008 02:06 AM

... But you didn’t respond to my question: your arguments are a rehash of Parminides, and I don’t think that you really get what he was saying.

With all due respect, I do not wish to discuss the ideas of Parmenides in this thread, neither do I wish to debate whether or not my understanding of Parmenides’ work is the correct one or not. I have said that I can provide a logical demonstration that there is a self which is beyond that which is generally held to be one’s self, and I would hope that you will judge my argument upon its own merit, and not upon what you think that some other has had to say on the subject.

But you are saying the same thing so I feel justified in pointing this out.  You are identifying the One of Parminides with a self beyond what is generally held to be our individual selves.  I’m not sure I would call that a self, but otherwise am somewhat sympathetic to the argument.

 
eucaryote
 
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eucaryote
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28 January 2008 17:19
 
Jehu - 28 January 2008 03:50 PM

I have said that I can provide a logical demonstration that there is a self which is beyond that which is generally held to be one’s self…...

So provide the “logical demonstration” already. As I’ve noted, I don’t think that one can demonstrate a self that is the same as “that which is generally held to be one’s self”.

 
 
Jehu
 
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Jehu
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28 January 2008 17:51
 
waltercat - 28 January 2008 05:05 PM

Jehu,

Two Points:

(1)  Yes, I can grant that the Present King of France is only imaginary.  But this should not be taken to imply that there is a real existent Present King of France.  There is no Present King of France, and that is why it makes sense to say that He is imaginary.

So, you need to explain why it is that we should think that that which is imaginary is “existent” in any sense.  The more obvious interpretation is that that which is imaginary does not exist.  (and of course that which does not exist is the non-existent.)

To ‘exist’ is to ‘be’, and that which ‘is’ necessarily exits. The term ‘existence’ has it origin in the Latin ‘existere’ from the root ‘stare’ meaning ‘to stand’; that is to say, to be present before the mind, as its object. Now, there are two ways that a thing may become an object of mind; either it may be given to the mind by the senses, or it may originate in that mental faculty the we call the imagination. Both sorts of objects exist (are), but the differ in the mode of their being; the one is said to exist in actuality, the other in potentiality; the former is thought to be real, and the latter, imaginary.
Consider the following definition of the term ‘real’, as draw from the current Oxford Dictionary of English, under the philosophical heading: “ having an absolute and necessary and not merely contingent existence”. Now, it is clear from this definition that there are at least two differentiable modes of existence acknowledged within the philosophical tradition: the ‘absolute’ (necessary) and the ‘relative’ (contingent), and given that actual things represent one mode, imaginary things must then represent the other.

waltercat - 28 January 2008 05:05 PM

(2) The work of prior philosophers is relevant here.  Parmenides is very pertinent as is, obviously, the work of 20th century philosophers of language such as Bertrand Russell.  If we ignore their insights, we run the risk of making very elemental errors and drawing vast (an wrong) conclusions from these errors.

I did not mean to imply that the work of other philosophers was not relevant here, for clearly it is, I simply do not want to get sidetracked by having to deal with all the various interpretations of their work. Rather, I would ask the participants to evaluate everything that I have to say for themselves, and I will happily respond to whatever concerns they may have.

 
 
Jehu
 
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Jehu
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28 January 2008 18:01
 
eucaryote - 28 January 2008 10:19 PM
Jehu - 28 January 2008 03:50 PM

I have said that I can provide a logical demonstration that there is a self which is beyond that which is generally held to be one’s self…...

So provide the “logical demonstration” already. As I’ve noted, I don’t think that one can demonstrate a self that is the same as “that which is generally held to be one’s self”.

I am attempting to do so, however, as I am taking a dialectic approach, I must address whatever concerns that the individual participants might have at each stage of the demonstration, before progressing to the next. Now, I notice that you have not yet given your consent to any of those points that I have already put forward, and neither have you said that you do not agree with them; and so I am not certain as to where I should proceed with you.

 
 
eucaryote
 
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eucaryote
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28 January 2008 20:25
 
Jehu - 28 January 2008 11:01 PM

.... and so I am not certain as to where I should proceed with you.

Well, you’re not the only one with that problem.

 
 
goodgraydrab
 
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goodgraydrab
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28 January 2008 21:50
 

I’m not up on philosophy so I won’t comment. I’d like to see where this will end. But using one’s logic and imagination, all the possibilities can be deduced, leaving only the irrational. I guess I’ll wait with eucaryote.

 
 
burt
 
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29 January 2008 08:25
 
Jehu - 28 January 2008 11:01 PM
eucaryote - 28 January 2008 10:19 PM
Jehu - 28 January 2008 03:50 PM

I have said that I can provide a logical demonstration that there is a self which is beyond that which is generally held to be one’s self…...

So provide the “logical demonstration” already. As I’ve noted, I don’t think that one can demonstrate a self that is the same as “that which is generally held to be one’s self”.

I am attempting to do so, however, as I am taking a dialectic approach, I must address whatever concerns that the individual participants might have at each stage of the demonstration, before progressing to the next. Now, I notice that you have not yet given your consent to any of those points that I have already put forward, and neither have you said that you do not agree with them; and so I am not certain as to where I should proceed with you.

 

The problem with a dialectic approach for you is that you are trying to support a positive conclusion (there is a self beyond the ordinary everyday self).  That means that you need to resolve apparent contradictions in an “upward” direction. At the same time, you are attempting to stand above the dialectic, saying in effect: “give me a problem and I will resolve it, then when you agree with my resolution we can move to the next step.”  In other words, you are assuming an external rather than cooperative position, not a good idea for a dialectical exercise.  You are placing yourself in the position of the one who is going to lead us to a predetermined conclusion that you assume is correct, and the structure of the way you intend to do it guarantees that you will end up with agreement from anybody who is foolish enough to take the bait.

Once there was a noted scholastic who challenged a sufi teacher to a debate.  The sufi agreed, and showed up at the appointed time and place with several of his students.  A large number of people attended and it was agreed that the scholar would speak first.  He began to talk, reading from copious notes on the lectern in front of him.  After a few minutes of this, the sufi stood up and pointed a finger at the scholar.  The scholar stumbled in his recitation, became agitated, and then ran from the stage. 

Later on, one of the sufis students asked: “Why did you act in this way when you could easily have refuted that man’s claims?”  The sufi replied: “That would not have been productive—he was trying to win the argument, not seeking the truth.” 

So, Jehu, are you seeking the truth, or simply trying to win the argument?

 
eucaryote
 
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eucaryote
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29 January 2008 09:41
 
burt - 29 January 2008 01:25 PM

(there is a self beyond the ordinary everyday self).

The “ordinary everyday self” is an advanced pseudo-plasmodium. There is no “beyond”.

 
 
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