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Where is the self? How can dualism stand if it's just a fiction?

 
 
fresco
 
  2  
Reply Tue 12 Feb, 2013 01:51 am
@Finn dAbuzz,
Well said. A good synopsis.

Note that the problem of "the observation of observation" lies at the core of scepticism about the nature of "transcendence to selflessness". This issue has been formally explored by systems theorists such as Von Foerster who have indicated that nested systems can involve either an open or closed hierarchy of ascending levels. The closure option tends to be evoked by theists...e.g...
http://thehope.tripod.com/Bernard_Scott/Observer.html
igm
 
  1  
Reply Tue 12 Feb, 2013 06:33 am
@wandeljw,
wandeljw wrote:

I came across an interesting definition of self written by the novelist, A. S. Byatt:
“A man is the history of his breaths and thoughts, acts, atoms and wounds, love indifference and dislike, also of his race and nation, the soil that fed him and his forbears, the stones and sands of his familiar places, long-silenced battles and struggles of conscience, of the smiles of girls and the slow utterance of old women, of accidents and the gradual action of inexorable law, of all this and something else, too, a single flame which in every way obeys the laws that pertain to Fire itself, and yet is lit and put out from one moment to the next, and can never be relumed in the whole waste of time to come.”


Thanks, wandeljw ... and worth sharing.
0 Replies
 
igm
 
  1  
Reply Tue 12 Feb, 2013 06:39 am
@MattDavis,
MattDavis wrote:

igm wrote:

Berty McJock wrote:

so how can the Self exist if it's not self aware?
the oxymoron creates a paradox.

Well spotted... that is a relevant question, I'd say! Are you asking Matt? Is it referring to Matt’s recent post?

If it is in relation (to my proposed model),

Self (capital S) does require self-reference.
I don't know what you are meaning by "self-aware".
If you mean awareness of the system by the system, in the sense that the system has a representation of itself;
Then yes a system is "self-aware" (if it is a conscious one).

If you mean that the system has a representation of itself that would be 100% accurate as observed from outside the system;
Then no. The system is not "self-aware" (regardless of if it is conscious or not).
[This is a consequence of the modeling problem. A 100% accurate representation of a system requires a system larger than the one represented. To know the Self (capital S) 100% accurately you must be a system larger than yourself]

Thanks Matt, your reply and others since, both here and in my other topic about 'the word ect' is helping me to understand your ‘main post’ i.e. the one referred to above in this post and is therefore enabling me to reflect on it more clearly... thanks again for your clarification. I’ll get back to you… later.
0 Replies
 
igm
 
  1  
Reply Tue 12 Feb, 2013 06:45 am
@MattDavis,
MattDavis wrote:

igm wrote:

MattDavis wrote:

I make the ASSUMPTION that consciousness requires self-reference.

I'm still reflecting... but do you believe this 'might' be the weakness in your argument?

Perhaps,
but I think that the assumption is justified in what we observe of systems that we label with the term "conscious".
Would you feel comfortable labeling someone as being conscious if they were unable to think about that 'someone'.
My assumption is in what we are choosing to call 'conscious behaviors'.
For my model I made the assumption that at minimum they must be self-referential, in accordance to how most people would use the term "conscious".

Yes Matt, I believe this might lead us into the question of 'what is consciousness' and does it 'truly' exist? I’ll keep looking at 'it' (i.e. what you've said up to now) and try to put that aside for the moment.
0 Replies
 
igm
 
  1  
Reply Tue 12 Feb, 2013 06:55 am
@Finn dAbuzz,
Fin, that was in my opinion an excellent post! I'm not saying I agree with everything you've said but that was a post worth considering very carefully... thanks!
0 Replies
 
igm
 
  1  
Reply Tue 12 Feb, 2013 07:02 am
@fresco,
fresco wrote:

Well said. A good synopsis.

Note that the problem of "the observation of observation" lies at the core of scepticism about the nature of "transcendence to selflessness". This issue has been formally explored by systems theorists such as Von Foerster who have indicated that nested systems can involve either an open or closed hierarchy of ascending levels. The closure option tends to be evoked by theists...e.g...
http://thehope.tripod.com/Bernard_Scott/Observer.html


Thanks for pointing that out. I am aware of your stated 'problem' and I also have concerns about it... I'll read your link.

Can you summarize the likely consequences and ramifications of this ‘problem’?
0 Replies
 
igm
 
  1  
Reply Tue 12 Feb, 2013 07:10 am
@MattDavis,
MattDavis wrote:

igm wrote:
Can you put together something which shows that the existence of a 'truly existent self' is untenable based on our agreed list of characteristics that a truly existent self would need to be such a thing?

I can try.....


Model of Self that Meets the Discussed Criteria
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
I make the ASSUMPTION that consciousness requires self-reference.

Consciousness is a manifestation of certain types of interactions within a complex but structured system. Certain complex structured system (like brains) exhibit behaviors that can be labeled as being conscious behaviors. One of the requirements of such systems is an ability to "represent the system within the system". Systems can be conscious, but they do do not have consciousness as in the sense that, consciousness exists somewhere (some physical place).
Consciousness should be treated semantically as we would treat other classifications of behaviors in systems. If a system exhibits cyclical behavior, you will not get a meaningful response by asking "where is the cyclicalness in the system?" The cyclical is a characteristic of the behavior of a system.
Because consciousness is simply the characteristic of something, it follows that it has no defined physical location. To suggest that it does have a physical location would be like asking where is the roundness in a circle.

Non-physicality of Self:
Self (with a capital S) is the label that occurs in conscious behaviors of systems and is used to point references back to the system.
It is the representation of the system, by the system.
It is the tool needed for 'self-reference.'
Self (capital S) is also not properly treated as a 'thing' (having physical location). It is a label that exists only as encoded in the consciousness behavior of the system.
From this view all concepts should not be treated as 'physical things' because concepts are labels encoded within a behavior.

Autonomous-ness of Self:
Autonomous simply means self-directed.
The behaviors of a system originate from within that system.
The cylical behavior of a solar system originates from within the solar system.
Systems that exhibit conscious behavior have a 'self' label and the representation that creates is Self (capital S) within the system, so it should interpret its own system behaviors as autonomous (that is, as Self directed behavior).

Continuous-ness of Self:
The label encoded within the conscious behaviors of a system should remain relatively unchanged, or if it does change, it must change in small enough increments so as that it can still be recognized for what it refers to by the system. (Since this was presupposed as a criteria of conscious behavior.)
Regardless of whether a label does or does not change, since conscious behavior ALWAYS requires self-reference the label must always be able to be correctly interpreted within the system. For as long as the system is exhibiting conscious behaviors, there must persist a representation within the system that is Self (capital S).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
I think that this basically includes the discussed features, while staying inside the material world
and outside of metaphysics.



Matt, in the light of everything you've said after this your 'main post' and in the light of others' responses are you happy with this as it stands or does it need to be amended? There is no subtext to my post... I'm just checking.
0 Replies
 
Frank Apisa
 
  1  
Reply Tue 12 Feb, 2013 07:11 am
@igm,
Quote:
Frank, apart from this part of your quote, which doesn't follow, from my assertion, I do believe you're finally seeing what my asserted position of 'open-mindedness' really is.

Do you believe there is a 'Frank' that has 'some' autonomy over his body and actions and where are you located in your body/mind? Also, that you are singular (there's only one Frank Aspisa i.e. the one who's posting on A2k) and you continue over time in this life from birth to death?


I do not do any "believing”, igm. I do, however, have opinions...and I will share them as though you asked for my opinions rather than about "beliefs.” I am going to be blunt…but my intention is not to be nasty.

I, unlike you, truly have an open mind on this. I do not know what the REALITY is...particularly I do not know what must be included and what cannot be included and, consequently, must be excluded.

I do NOT have a default position...which is merely a rather intellectually cowardly way of asserting a guess in a way that makes it seem like open-mindedness…but actually isn’t.

I do not know if this is all an illusion…I am not sure I understand “self”, although I do process with a mind (that I may or may not share with others)…so I am as sure of “existence” as I am of anything else I can think of.

There is a person called Frank that looks back at me each time I look in a mirror. I am not positive if that is an illusion or not…and I battle people who try to get me to ACCEPT that it is…simply because they have made that blind guess.

I think I have control of this body…and apparently you think I do also, since you asked me to control it to respond to your questions…and it appears as though I have that control.

Ball in your court. Ask what you will…and I will answer. I’ll have some questions of my own in a bit…but come with yours for now.
0 Replies
 
Frank Apisa
 
  1  
Reply Tue 12 Feb, 2013 07:14 am
@Finn dAbuzz,
Finn...that was a masterful posting. This is not my thread...but I want to extend my personal thank and appreciation for it.

In fact, I wish I had written it.
JLNobody
 
  1  
Reply Tue 12 Feb, 2013 08:55 am
@Frank Apisa,
Finn, that was indeed wonderful. Thanks.
0 Replies
 
MattDavis
 
  1  
Reply Tue 12 Feb, 2013 12:16 pm
@fresco,
fresco wrote:
Note that the problem of "the observation of observation" lies at the core of scepticism about the nature of "transcendence to selflessness". This issue has been formally explored by systems theorists such as Von Foerster who have indicated that nested systems can involve either an open or closed hierarchy of ascending levels. The closure option tends to be evoked by theists...e.g...
http://thehope.tripod.com/Bernard_Scott/Observer.html

I read the article at the link:

It seems similar in a lot of regards to the model I proposed at Igm's request.

I've had a fascination with self-reference as it applies to paradox and consciousness ever since high school when I first read Gödel, Escher, Bach by Douglas Hofstadter.

fresco wrote:
This issue has been formally explored by systems theorists such as Von Foerster who have indicated that nested systems can involve either an open or closed hierarchy of ascending levels.
I didn't find an exploration of this specific topic at the article you linked to.

Is this what you are referring to?
http://thehope.tripod.com/Bernard_Scott/Observer.html wrote:
Fortunately, the circularity is not vicious, as in the statement "I am a liar". Rather, it is virtuous or, as von Foerster calls it, it is a creative circle, which allows us to "transcend into another domain".
0 Replies
 
MattDavis
 
  1  
Reply Tue 12 Feb, 2013 12:33 pm
@fresco,
Quote:
Note that the problem of "the observation of observation" lies at the core of scepticism about the nature of "transcendence to selflessness".

At the risk of seeming to nit-pick: Wink
I don't think that "transcendence to selflessness" is the goal (as I understand) of wisdom traditions (as I understand them).
I believe the goal is to transcend the self.
The goal is to transcend the categorizations of "self" and "not self"; not to deny the categorizations, but to incorporate them into a larger framework.
fresco
 
  1  
Reply Tue 12 Feb, 2013 03:17 pm
@MattDavis,
Note. According to Krishnamurti, the concept of "goal" is antithetical to a state of "enlightenment". You might re-consider your usage of the word "understand" with respect to that point.
IRFRANK
 
  1  
Reply Tue 12 Feb, 2013 04:20 pm
@Berty McJock,
Quote:
this is where i think aware is a better word...it's aware of itself, without the need to refer to anything.


awareness is a very different thing than breathing. in my opinion anyway. I see breathing as something like plants do toward the light. A conditioned response, that can probably be explained by some kind of biochemical process. awareness, or thinking is a very different phenomena.
IRFRANK
 
  1  
Reply Tue 12 Feb, 2013 04:22 pm
@MattDavis,
Quote:
I don't have enough information or evidence to decide this of dolphins or pigs.


I would agree, and I come to the conclusion that we don't have enough information to answer this about humans either. Just being one doesn't give us the knowledge to perspective to make that analysis.
Berty McJock
 
  1  
Reply Tue 12 Feb, 2013 04:33 pm
@MattDavis,
Quote:
The system does not have to be always utilizing a self-referential label. (actively thinking, thoughts that use it).
However, the label must persistently exist within the system (be accessible when thoughts that require such a label manifest).


yep i'm with you so far, no quibbles there.

it's just the word "referential" i dont like. i don't see how you can passively reference something. i think you could well be right about "aware", it's a bit vague.

tell you what, i'm basically arguing over a word lol, i'll use "self-referential" as a passive term for this thread. Razz
0 Replies
 
XXSpadeMasterXX
 
  1  
Reply Tue 12 Feb, 2013 04:35 pm
@IRFRANK,
Quote:
awareness is a very different thing than breathing. in my opinion anyway. I see breathing as something like plants do toward the light. A conditioned response, that can probably be explained by some kind of biochemical process. awareness, or thinking is a very different phenomena.

I agree. I think it takes a conscientious perceptibly to know or understand the implications of "self" or "not self" and both. In order to conceptually understand what "self" is, what "not self" is, and both, or some form of dualism in order to conceive of a rational notion as to why one would be beneficial apposed to another in ones own perspectives. Otherwise, how could anyone come to a logical understanding that one is not necessary in order for the other one to exist and be reliant on another to help formulate the conceptions that dualism is just a fiction?
Berty McJock
 
  1  
Reply Tue 12 Feb, 2013 04:38 pm
@MattDavis,
sorry, i'm such a plum.....despite your previous post, i somehow managed to completely ignore the word "label". i'll shut up before i make myself look any more stupid lol.

here...

Quote:
Thinking with a self-referential label is not the same as thinking about a self-referential label. It is also not the same as thinking about how it is that you have a self-referential label.


not sure exactly what i replaced it with, but yeah, it makes sense like that.
IRFRANK
 
  2  
Reply Tue 12 Feb, 2013 04:43 pm
@Finn dAbuzz,
I have to respond to your post. I will try to keep my emotion out of it, as I do claim and practice to be a Buddhist. I've found the practice to be very useful and my first instinct as a Buddhist is to let this go, but I will try anyway. I think you dismiss Buddhists and Buddhas a bit to lightly, but that is a common thing to find. I am not a highly intellectual Buddhist so I have trouble arguing the fine points of existence and self, but, I think I do understand the purpose of meditation and striving for selflessness. Moving from samsara to enlightenment means not participating in the samsara activity and if that means dropping the self, fine. I am sure a Buddha would find all this conversation entertaining, but would probably say - 'What's the point?'. The facts of the 4 basic truths and that our busy mind and thoughts create all of our suffering seems clear to me. If that is the self, than yes the self causes samsara and eliminating that is the goal of enlightenment. There are many Buddhas that have reached that stage. So, as it is told, it is quite possible. Eliminating that suffering does bring much happiness. The answer ' You just don't understand.' may be appropriate considering it may take a lifetime or two to reach enlightenment. Expecting it to be explainable is not enough for a dismissal. I don't understand quarks, but I think there are scientists who do. And if I wanted to be a scientist and understand that I would study under them.
Berty McJock
 
  1  
Reply Tue 12 Feb, 2013 04:49 pm
@IRFRANK,
i know it wasn't the best example, but it was just the first thing i thought of when trying to describe something we don't need to think about, still cant think of any others, apart from "conscious", but you can't use an example of the example. Razz
0 Replies
 
 

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