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Do we really exist?

 
 
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Fri 5 Jan, 2007 04:05 pm
Cyracuz wrote:
Whos experience? Our experience, though it would be accurate to say experience and leave it at that.

I can't imagine why you'd want to leave it at that, since that doesn't make any sense. But let me try to break down your argument to show why it doesn't make any sense:

You say that the boundaries between the "I" and the "Not-I" are undefinable, and you state that you know that because of your experience. But if those boundaries are undefinable, then it follows that your experience of undefinability may not be your experience at all, but rather that of someone else. If that is the case, though, then how can you be confident that this experience of undefinability is reliable, since you can't determine if that experience is yours or someone else's, and you have no basis for judging the reliability of someone else's experience?

Cyracuz wrote:
And wether or not experience is reliable cannot be answered, because experience is our sole vessel of information. A variable though, is how we remember experience. There are more beneficial ways and less beneficial ways.

I could understand if someone else said that one's own experience is reliable, but since you claim that the boundaries between the "I" and the "Not-I" are undefinable, then you cannot claim to be relying on your own experience, since you can't even determine where the boundary lies between your experience and someone else's experience.

Cyracuz wrote:
But can you honestly say that you've never done things because smeone else did, or someone else told you to? Did you never make a compromise with a loved one?

Of course, but then I've never claimed that such outside influences compromised the integrity of my self. Just because I might be influenced by outside forces doesn't mean that those forces are somehow a part of my self. Just because a river's course is channelled by its banks doesn't mean that the banks and the river are indistinguishable.

Cyracuz wrote:
My existence is not owned by just me, was the point I was trying to make with the last remark.

I have no idea what "owning" one's existence means.
0 Replies
 
Cyracuz
 
  1  
Reply Fri 5 Jan, 2007 06:29 pm
Since I have not been sucsessful in determining the borders of my "I", and since I have not yet come across an adequate explanation, I am leaning towards that there are no set borders. There are borders, but they shift and break and reform continously, often without my knowing.

Still, this dynamic thing that we call experience is all we have to go by, and it is all we can rely on. Is there any aspect of our existence that falls outside experience?

joe wrote:
Just because a river's course is channelled by its banks doesn't mean that the banks and the river are indistinguishable.


No, but it does mean that the river is what gives meaning to the concept of a riverbank. They could not have come to be without eachother, and in that respect they are inseperable. And since you cannot separate them, there is little meaning in distinguishing them from one another. It is useful for the sake of understanding, but an even deeper understanding can be reached by once more unifying the concepts, removing the dualistic notions surrounding everything.

What I mean by not owning my existence is that I am not entirely myself. We say that when we feel beside ourselves, but it is actually true most of the time, if not all.

I notice that my thoughts come off sounding like facts. They may not be, they're just thoughts. :wink:
0 Replies
 
fresco
 
  1  
Reply Fri 5 Jan, 2007 07:22 pm
Cyracuz,

The river analogy is entirely appropriate at several levels.

Let those who would cling to a well defined "self" consider its "status" when they are asleep. Let them consider what their first thoughts are on waking...are they not an immediate attempt to reconstruct their familiar social role ? "Identity" implies mutual responsibilities...(and who was that weird "dream self" now fading into oblivion Smile ) ...and is not a change of "bed" (e.g. hotel/home) implicit in a change of "self" on occasion just like interrelationship between "a river" and its "bed" ?
0 Replies
 
Cyracuz
 
  1  
Reply Fri 5 Jan, 2007 07:48 pm
Interesting. But I am not sure I understand your question completely.

But you say that "identity" implies mutual responsibilities. That in turn implies relationship. So I am tempted to say that the nature of "self" is relationship.


I have an example that I think illustrates the idea that each "self" is not an entity of its own, but rather a continuous chain of "siamese selves".

Imagine that someone you love gets a serous illness. Or maybe you don't have to imagine. Even though you are not ill, you are suffering from the illness. How could that be possible if our "selves" were clearly set apart?
0 Replies
 
Chai
 
  1  
Reply Fri 5 Jan, 2007 08:24 pm
Amigo wrote:
After Candide gets dragged all over the planet with this philosopher advising him (pangloss). They finally end up old together working in there garden and pangloss starts talking to candide about philosophy and Candide looks at him and says what has become one one my faverite since coming to A2K. He says......"???????"

Read the book. Laughing




I suppose it's all for the best you didn't answer that question.
0 Replies
 
Chai
 
  1  
Reply Fri 5 Jan, 2007 08:28 pm
When you feel sad or under a curse
Your life is bad your prospects are worse
Your wife is sighing, crying and your olive tree is dying
Temples are graying and teeth are decaying
And creditors weighing your purse
Your mood and your robe are both a deep blue
You'd bet that Job had nothing on you
Don't forget that when you go to heaven you'll be blessed
Yes it's all for the best!

Some men are born to live at ease, doing what they please, richer than the bees are in honey
Never growing old, never feeling cold, pulling pots of gold from thin air
The best in every town, best at shaking down, best at making mountains of money
They can't take it with them
But what do they care?
They get the center of the meat, cushions on their seat, houses on a street where it's sunny
Summers at the sea, winters warm and free, all of this and we get the rest
But who is the land for, the sun and the sand for
You guessed it's all for the best

You guessed it's all for the - You must never be distressed
Yes, it's all for the - All your wrongs will be redressed
Yes, it's all for the - Someone's got to be oppressed!
Yes, it's all for the best
0 Replies
 
Chumly
 
  1  
Reply Fri 5 Jan, 2007 11:36 pm
fresco wrote:
Chumly,

As usual I am working from the point of view of "reality" as a "social construct". My "levels" of reality reflect different consensual interrelationships between different groups of interlocutors. Thus a "constellation" modern man might call "Orion" is an arbitrary collection of celestial objects which has "reality" by virtue of common observation of persistent spatial relations sometimes used for the purposes.of "navigation" or "astrology". Members of the set called "Orion" might well have belonged to different "constellations" for earlier social groups.

I make no distinction between "physical" and "non-physical properties" these being merely descriptions of different expectancies social groups attach to their concepts. In short all concepts whether they be rocks, electrons, gods or selves exist as interrelational social nodes for specific purposes. It is therefore futile to argue whether a concept already coined "exists" or "doesn't exist". We are really arguing about different expectancies. Existence is relative not absolute. As a card carrying atheist I cannot argue against the existence of "God"…all "things" have been "thinged" by homo-sapiens for social purposes…..I can merely argue that the concept serves no useful purpose for "me"(that was the humour :wink: )…i.e. I have a negative relationship with the concept But to take this a stage further the "I" which has these relationships is in constant flux. The "I" of today is certainly different from the "I" of childhood. Indeed the "I" of today is different from that of yesterday ! This is the ephemeral nature of "self" I referred to above. The fact that today"I" exist as a node of "culpability" for legalistic purposes belies the fact that the same "body" could be deemed to constitute an "I" whose social responsibility would be to kill others for the purposes of a future war.

To see this relativity is to transcend normal concepts of "self".
Thanks so much for your thoughtful reply, I get the gist of some, but not all, I'll sleep on it some.
0 Replies
 
fresco
 
  1  
Reply Sat 6 Jan, 2007 12:36 am
Cyracuz,

Yes..the nature of "self" IS relationship ...as is the nature of all "things".
This is the essence of "existence".
0 Replies
 
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Sat 6 Jan, 2007 07:49 am
Cyracuz wrote:
Since I have not been sucsessful in determining the borders of my "I", and since I have not yet come across an adequate explanation, I am leaning towards that there are no set borders. There are borders, but they shift and break and reform continously, often without my knowing.

Why should your lack of success in determining the borders of your "I" have any bearing on whether anyone else's "I" is undefined? Maybe you're just unique in having an undefined "I."

Cyracuz wrote:
Still, this dynamic thing that we call experience is all we have to go by, and it is all we can rely on. Is there any aspect of our existence that falls outside experience?

Well, apparently there are those aspects of experience that are potentially someone else's aspects of experience, since there's no way for you to tell whether what you experience is your experience or someone else's. Since it is pretty clear that you can't resolve that paradox, I'll assume that it is a fatal flaw in your argument.

Cyracuz wrote:
joe wrote:
Just because a river's course is channelled by its banks doesn't mean that the banks and the river are indistinguishable.


No, but it does mean that the river is what gives meaning to the concept of a riverbank.

I agree, but then that is addressing some other question. Just because a riverbank cannot exist without a river (and vice versa) doesn't mean that the two things are the same thing. To claim otherwise would be to carry a metaphor too far.

Cyracuz wrote:
They could not have come to be without eachother, and in that respect they are inseperable. And since you cannot separate them, there is little meaning in distinguishing them from one another. It is useful for the sake of understanding, but an even deeper understanding can be reached by once more unifying the concepts, removing the dualistic notions surrounding everything.

Not only are you wrong in claiming that there is little meaning in distinguishing riverbanks from rivers, but your language indicates that you don't even believe that yourself. After all, if there were little meaning in the distinction, then you wouldn't even bother to have different words for banks and rivers -- they would both be "bavers" or "rivanks."

Cyracuz wrote:
What I mean by not owning my existence is that I am not entirely myself. We say that when we feel beside ourselves, but it is actually true most of the time, if not all.

But you also have no basis for knowing that.

Cyracuz wrote:
I notice that my thoughts come off sounding like facts. They may not be, they're just thoughts. :wink:

If that.
0 Replies
 
Cyracuz
 
  1  
Reply Sat 6 Jan, 2007 08:04 am
You are right, Joe, in that my impressions make sense to me and not neccesarily anyone else. Good point about the bavers and rivanks. Smile

Still, I manitain that it gives little meaning to think of them as separate. No one really does that, even though the distinction between them is clear.

And I am not saying that the river and the bank are the same thing. I say that the "I" similarly to a river, gets it's direction from it's environment.
0 Replies
 
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Sat 6 Jan, 2007 08:18 am
Cyracuz wrote:
And I am not saying that the river and the bank are the same thing. I say that the "I" similarly to a river, gets it's direction from it's environment.

Then that's an observation that is hardly worth making.
0 Replies
 
Cyracuz
 
  1  
Reply Sat 6 Jan, 2007 08:27 am
You think so? I find it to be of some value to me. But if it doesn't fit into your understanding of things, maybe there's no reason for you to give any attention to it. :wink:
0 Replies
 
Chumly
 
  1  
Reply Sun 7 Jan, 2007 04:17 am
I like joefromchicago's posts, it's good to be challenged, carry on gentleman!
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Cyracuz
 
  1  
Reply Sun 7 Jan, 2007 07:06 am
Aye chumly, it is good to be challenged.

But I do not understand why joe thinks that the observation that the directions our lives will take is to some extent decided by external factors.

In deciding where you're going to live you must consider what you want. But your wishes are modified by what you can afford, and there may be many other practical considerations to make. Maybe you can't leave town because you have shared custody of a child. Maybe your car breaks down, and the cost of repairing it forces you to put your plans on hold.

Tons of things can happen, things that will guide us to somewhere, and not always where we wanted to be.
0 Replies
 
fresco
 
  1  
Reply Sun 7 Jan, 2007 11:47 am
Cyracuz,

Joe is correct to question the significance of the common sense notions we have of adaptation of "self". However the key issue in what you seem to have agreed with my own posts above is that there mat be no "unified coherent self" as most people would assume. My own ideas are a modification of Gurdjieff's views which I quote below.

Quote:
"Man has no permanent and unchangeable I. Every thought, every mood, every deisre, every sensation, says 'I.' And in each case it seems to be taken for granted that this I belongs o the Whole, to the whole man, and that a thought, a desire, or an aversion is expressed by this Whole. In actual fact there is no foundation whatever for this assumption. Man's every thought and desire appears and lives quite separately and independently of the Whole. And the Whole never expresses itself, for the simple reason that it exists, as such, only physically as a thing, and in the abstract as a concept. Man has no individual I. But there are, instead, hundreds and thousands of separate small I's, very often entirely unknown to one another, never coming into contact, or, on the contrary, hostile to each other, mutually exclusive and incompatible. Each minute, each moment, man is saying or thinking 'I.' And each time his I is different. Just now it was a thought, now it is a desire, now a sensation, now another thought, and so on, endlessly. Man is a plurality. Man's name is legion
0 Replies
 
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Sun 7 Jan, 2007 03:13 pm
Cyracuz wrote:
But I do not understand why joe thinks that the observation that the directions our lives will take is to some extent decided by external factors.

I don't understand your point. Isn't that what you believe too?

I have no problem accepting the notion that we are influenced by external causes. What I don't accept is that, by virtue of being influenced by external causes, we somehow share an identity with those causes.
0 Replies
 
Cyracuz
 
  1  
Reply Sun 7 Jan, 2007 05:21 pm
Joe

I am very sorry. I didn't finish that sentence you quoted. What I meant to say was:

I do not understand why joe thinks that; -the observation that the directions our lives will take is to some extent decided by external factors, is a useless observation.


But concerning your last objection, a question came to mind when I read it:

Would you say that you share an identity with your mother and father?
A person's identity is never absolute, as I see it.

fresco

You are right in that the key issue on which I agreed earlier is that there may be no "unified coherent self". That Gurdijeff is a clever fellow. :wink:
0 Replies
 
fresco
 
  1  
Reply Mon 8 Jan, 2007 12:34 am
Cyracuz,

For a more academic source of analysis of the concept of "self" try this.

http://www.univie.ac.at/constructivism/papers/2003/taverniers-self.pdf

It seems that the social reality of "self" is at the foundations of "narrative theory"(http://www.philosophy.ucf.edu/n.html). This paper also refers to second order cybernetics (the observation of observation) as an analysis framework. The conclusions of the writer support a "multi-faceted self" whose disemination is identical to (not caused by) different socialization experiences. In this sense "social reality" and "self" are indistinguishable.
0 Replies
 
Cyracuz
 
  1  
Reply Mon 8 Jan, 2007 05:17 am
Thanks fresco

I looked at it, and it seems interesting. I will save a copy of it until I have time to delve into it.
0 Replies
 
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Mon 8 Jan, 2007 09:09 am
Cyracuz wrote:
Joe

I am very sorry. I didn't finish that sentence you quoted. What I meant to say was:

I do not understand why joe thinks that; -the observation that the directions our lives will take is to some extent decided by external factors, is a useless observation.

It's useless because it is jejeune. Nobody disagrees with it.


Cyracuz wrote:
But concerning your last objection, a question came to mind when I read it:

Would you say that you share an identity with your mother and father?

Certainly not.

Cyracuz wrote:
A person's identity is never absolute, as I see it.

Evidently, you and I have vastly different ideas of what constitutes "personal identity."
0 Replies
 
 

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