Hi, Krumple, i like your response, but i apologize because there has been some confusion. The question, "what are the points originating that projection [of self]?" was inspired by your metaphor, but it wasn't really directed at you. I'd like to say that it was directed back at myself, but it was really more of a ridiculously inadequate, rhetorical flourish.
It really is simple. It comes down to how the mind functions. I actually think the best way to describe it is by removing the parts. For example if you had all of your senses damage or removed could you perceive the world or even your self? No because the senses are the only way we connect with reality, remove them and we have no way of determining anything at all.
Get rid of your eyes and you can no longer see objects. Get rid of your hearing and you can no longer hear sounds. Get rid of your sense of touch and you would not be able to feel anything from the body. Get rid of taste buds and you wouldn't be able to taste anything. Get rid of sense of smell and you wouldn't be able to smell anything. We would have no way of experiencing reality if we had lost all of these, however; we would still have the mind and the thoughts that fill the mind.
Now let's go really extreme with this. What if you were born without the five senses, no eye, no ears, no nose, no tongue, no ability to feel sensations? You would never develop an identity. You would never learn that the world even exists. You would never know your mother or father. You wouldn't know what a god was. You wouldn't even know what you are. Because it is only by our senses that we develop and learn and get conditioned for what things are that we are experiencing.
So what happens is. There is an object, which I call the sense data. Like the color red for the eyes is the sense data red. When our eyes sense the color red the data get's processed by our brains. Initially we don't see it as red yet, we just have a sense of the data, which comes in the form of a feeling or sensation within the brain. We find it pleasant, unpleasant or are indifferent to it. The sense data must exists first or else there is nothing to perceive at all. If nothing exists then your senses wouldn't even sense anything.
What comes next is perception. We perceive the color red but don't label it yet, all there is the data color in this example. What follows after perception is the impulse response to the color, these are usually habits that develop in response to the sense data interaction. At this point is where we create opinions, likes or dislikes about the sense data.
Finally we have consciousness or discernment of the sense data. This is where we solidify the sense data into something we think to be real. We label it, categorize it and store the data for future use into memory.
These five steps happen very quickly, almost too quick to actually discern but they can be examine and you can test weather or not I am right. It takes a bit of practice but it can be done.
However; after all that said, there is absolutely no where in any of this that shows there is something fundamentally under it all. All it is, is a culmination of parts. Break any one of these parts and the whole system stops. For example.
Destroy the eye and there is no eye consciousness. We would never be able to perceive the color red with destroyed eyes. The reason is because the sense data needs the sense organ to get to the brain. If it can not reach the brain the brain does not respond to the data at all.
This is true for all the senses. This is why there would be nothing if you were to remove all the senses. We wouldn't be able to determine anything. Some would try to argue that we would but it is because they haven't actually investigated the process to see and verify for themselves that this is actually how it works.
i liked your cloud metaphor, but i have omitted it from the quote, all the same, because it is not relevant to the point i want to make.
And, i'm not going to break down your post much to make individual points; it seems to consist largely of one argument. But i would like to make one nit-picky point: Sense data, and their appropriate conduits are parts of- or intrinsically linked to- the brain, not the mind. i'm not trying to argue that mind exists without brain, that seems ridiculous to me, but their relationship is not one of identity. The relationship between brain and mind is more complicated.
That being said, even the brain's functions cannot be reduced to a compiler of sensory data. Motor controls, while responding to sense-data are not the same thing as accepting or interpreting sense-date. hile a brain is an organ operating within a living being, and a living being could not exist, much less be born of other living beings, without sensory data, it is not true to say that a living being lives on sensory data. A thing without sensory data is either a dead thing or a thing un-born, but that sense-data is a tool that enables the living being to subsist. Sensory data is an enabler, not a source of nutrition.
Imagine an individual deprived of all senses but touch -- that person would still thrash around, at the very least, in an attempt to achieve more intimate contact with the origins of her only sense. More than likely, she would still be able to learn certain things (develop consciously) even were she unreachable to contemporary methods of communication -- imagine the torments of a four-year-old Helen Keller.
But the idea of a senseless organism, that is impossible. Life does not precede sense; sense is an aspect of life.
And while, of course, "life" is merely an abstraction -- it is an abstraction produced by "our" observation of living beings. That aspect of living beings that requires us to recognize their individual "livingness" is, to my mind, a similar aspect to that which recognizes their agency.
Agency does not seem to me to be a product of "consciousness", or even "self-consciousness". In other words, agency precedes consciousness/ ego. What say you?
From my previous description, there is no place for agency at all. It is a mistaken illusion that arises only because of this process. These five steps once they come together give the impression that there is agency but there is none. The reason I can say this, is because if you remove any one of the steps where is the agency? It is no where to be found at all. Not even in the smallest portion can it be found.
The steps of sensory input, data comparison, and data filing are steps in the construction of consciousness. My point is that agency is not a product of consciousness -- rather the converse.
True, the gradations you describe exclude decision making, but decisions are developed within the maturation of this process, both within and because of-. Consciousness, and its more practical aspect - decision making, are both aspects of agency -- that is, they implicate it and are implicated in it. "Decisions" are a byproduct of agency, but the means for making them are not the source of agency. Agency, like "life", precedes its observable qualities.
That's the idea, anyway. Sheesh, what a nonsensical post.