2009/7/29 Brent Meeker <meeke...@dslextreme.com>:

> What do you make of Hume's observation, "When I enter most intimately into 
> what
> I call myself, I always stumble on some particular perception or other, of 
> heat
> or cold, light or shade, love or hatred, pain or pleasure. I can never catch
> myself at any time without a perception, and never can observe anything but 
> the
> perception. When my perceptions are removed for any time, as by sound sleep, 
> so
> long am I insensible of myself, and may truly be said not to exist." ?

Well, we all know what he means, I think - and what wouldn't I give
for half my countryman's eloquence.  Fair enough, if you want to
restrict the sense of "I" to reflective self-consciousness, then it
indeed manifests variously and intermittently.  But actually, this is
the clue that points to the underlying ontology out of which
self-consciousness emerges. The self-conscious "I" manifests so to
speak as waves that rise out of the ocean: waves come in many shapes,
but they all need the ocean to manifest, and sometimes they're there,
other times they're not.  But whether manifested as waves or no, the
ocean remains.  This gives us the clue that the self-conscious "I" is
a particular manifestation of a permanent ontological category:
moreover, as a monist, I take pains to show that this category is the
only one we need lay claim to.

In this, I diverge from Kant's analysis that we know via appearance,
but can know nothing of the entity in itself.  Rather my view is that
we simply *are* Kant's ding an sich, in terms of the logic I've set
out.  This analysis points to the double collapse of two apparent
dichotomies: that (wrongly) implied between being and knowing, to be
resolved in the tension between global and partial states-of-being;
and that (wrongly) implied in the shift from unknowing to knowing
(i.e. 'matter' shading into 'mind') to be resolved through a
reconceived understanding of the self-reflecting organisation and
dynamics of a complexly differentiated monistic existent.

As I said in my post to Bruno, my way of pondering this is by a sort
of inhabitation of the system I'm seeking to understand.  In this
case, I intuit myself to arise in the differentiated manifestation of
a *singular*, present, self-encountering global entity: what I termed
getting-a-grip-on-Oneself.  'Self' in the sense I'm using it is
crucial in two ways. First, if one is positing a single comprehensive
entity - intrinsic to the notion of 'universe' - it can make no sense
to posit it in relation to anything else: nothing else exists.  Any
internal relations among differentiables in this context are
consequently *exclusively* reflexive, self-relating, or
self-encountering.  Second, following directly from the preceding
sense, any such entity intrinsically possesses self-intimacy: it is
reflexive in the sense of reflecting, referencing, or possessing
access to, itself.  Knowledgeable, if you like.

At first glance, this latter might appear to be a super-added
requirement to 'bare existence', but IMO this is fatally mistaken and
indeed the most deeply obscured aspect of the root existential
misconception. In point of fact, I believe virtually all the
confusions we self-inflict with respect to what might be said to
'exist' stem from not recognising existence-for-self as primary: all
other senses of exist can be seen under analysis to parasitise on this
sense; conversely, lose sight of it and 'existence' is banished
instantly to the phantom status of an abstracted Cheshire Cat's grin.

The power of this insight is that we can immediately grasp that
knowing, or epistemology, is simply a modality of being, or ontology.
Furthermore this collapse, or reduction, also explicitly collapses the
mind-matter, sense-action dichotomies of relation into a single
indivisible category.  If you're left nonetheless with the feeling
that something 'dual' remains, you're right: the irreducible duality
of whole and part, whose paradoxical nature I have previously
indicated.  But this is just to situate appropriately the mystery
ineradicable from any mortal conception.

This multi-stage reduction allows us to achieve Chalmers' holy grail
of causal closure by encapsulating it in a unified monism, thus neatly
sidestepping his so-called 'hard' problem and all the monstrosities
and zombies it foreshadows.  BTW, he is queasily aware of this, and
confesses sneaking sympathy with the panpsychists, though the idea of
outing himself as one triggers incurable philosophical nausea.
Fortunately, he has no need to barf just yet, which is just as well
because panpsychism too is implicitly dualist.  Were the epithet not
already colonised, I suppose we could simply call this position
'existentialist', once we had cleared up the misconceptions about
existence.  I suppose in a sense it's neutral monism, properly
understood.  But it's all too easy to lose one's hold on the
intrinsically present and reflexive aspects in the 'neutrality' of
that formulation.

A note on method: I don't hold with Colin McGinn that a coherent grasp
of mentality is unreachable by human powers, except, of course, in the
limit. However, I find that the problems in adequately expressing a
(moderately) non-standard view involves so many burdens of extraneous
sense attaching to nearly all the terms available to hand as to make
the task itself very taxing.  There is I suppose the option of
inventing a totally new vocabulary, but I would despair of holding
anyone's attention in the attempt (and probably not even my own).

David

>
> David Nyman wrote:
> ...
>>
>> In my various ramblings, I've tried to cut the whole Gordian knot of
>> what can coherently be said to exist, and within this the whole debate
>> on materialism, panpsychism, mind-body hard problems, causal closure
>> of the physical, etc. by a simple expediency which then struck me as
>> obviously true (how about that?).  To re-state:
>>
>> 1) Is there some logically prior requirement for anything to be said
>> to exist?  Reflect: 'something existing' necessitates presence not
>> absence.
>> 2) What is the relation between presence and "I"' as I discover
>> myself?  Reflect: "I" discover myself to be present.
>
> What do you make of Hume's observation, "When I enter most intimately into 
> what
> I call myself, I always stumble on some particular perception or other, of 
> heat
> or cold, light or shade, love or hatred, pain or pleasure. I can never catch
> myself at any time without a perception, and never can observe anything but 
> the
> perception. When my perceptions are removed for any time, as by sound sleep, 
> so
> long am I insensible of myself, and may truly be said not to exist." ?
>
> Brent
>
>
> >
>

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