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The relationship between the mind and the observed world.


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23 hours ago, Eise said:

If e.g. observing causal relationships were just 'habit and custom', why did Newtonian mechanics work so well?

I think Newtonian mechanics is actually highly problematic when it comes to causation. If you really think about it, the notion of “force” which Newton suggested boils down to instantaneous action across arbitrarily large distances (most clearly seen with gravity), in the complete absence of any plausible causative mechanism. So I think a strong case can be made for it actually being a non-local theory based on correlations, not causation. In that sense David Hume may have made a pretty valid point - though of course that doesn’t explain why the model works so well. This immediately leads to the much more general issue of why any mathematical structure should correspond to processes in the real world.

23 hours ago, Eise said:

An important difference between Newtonian mechanics on one side, and QM and RT on the other, is that Newtonian mechanics is about objects and processes that are normally observable in daily life, and they all (seem to) exist in space and time and both are seen as a fixed framework.

They are observable by us in our daily lives - Newtonian mechanics is fundamentally about human experience, because it describes precisely that domain of the universe that is directly accessible to human perception. This is, the low energy, low velocity, classical domain, as modelled in the human mind. If the starting point was some other sentience that “lives” in a different domain - for example a hypothetical being made only of light, or gravity - would their intuition of the world be based on Newtonian mechanics? Probably not. What would it be like to exist while eternally propagating at the speed of light, without having a rest frame of any kind? I think the description of the world such a being comes up with would seem exceedingly strange to us, and may not contain any references to space and time as we know them.

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These are questions that have kept Western philosophy busy for the past few millennia, and there are as many opinions on it as there are philosophers. My own thoughts on this are (currently) that al

I thought that was the intent of all threads, on all forums, for all time.

Everything we know about the external world (including our assumption that it exists) is created by our mind. So we can't say anything about the external world other than what our mind tells us. I sup

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35 minutes ago, Markus Hanke said:

This immediately leads to the much more general issue of why any mathematical structure should correspond to processes in the real world.

There seem to be two possible approaches to that:

1. The universe is fundamentally mathematical in nature. (This contains all sorts of implicit assumptions about the existence of an external reality and that mathematics exists independently of our minds)

2. Mathematics is the tool we (our minds) use to describe our mental model of the universe and so inevitably the universe appears mathematical. (If all you have is a hammer then every problem looks like a nail. Or whatever the proverb is.)

In the latter case, we might ask why mathematics is so successful at describing the universe. Well, to some extent, because we say it is: we build models that work, so we shouldn’t be surprised when they work! But on the other hand, it isn’t very successful: our two best theories (GR and QM) can’t actually be used to solve lots of problems because the mathematics is intractable - there are no analytical solutions.

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10 hours ago, geordief said:

Is there any way to perform any  theoretical experiment to show that ,in the absence of  a mind  such a "mindless" universe could exist without any property associated with time ?

 

Could we go back in time to an epoch  where we can be certain that life (that is where "mind" is to be found, I assume) had not yet taken root?

If we were able to hypothesize  such a  scenario  how would life get established subsequently if time was not part of the scenario?

The universe would be permanently stuck in "3rd gear"  ...wouldn't  the universe need time to progress to a state where there could exist a mind that  you suggest operates on a 3+1 basis? (ie time is inherent in minds but not in the "inert" universe) 

 

 

To my taste, those are very interesting philosophical-scientific questions I don't know the answer to. +1. I know it has been speculated that intelligence/conscience could be some kind of condition that's being seeded from a distant future or perhaps auxiliary dimensions. That we are simulations running on somebody else's computers. But, to me at least, that has the flavour of anthropocentrism again, of a Ptolemaic rather than Copernican perspective. I'm more of the opinion that conscience, whatever it is physically characterized by, is a condition that every once in a while in cosmic terms, appears in the universe. That we're not all that special even in respect to that. That there may even be other kinds of conscience than ours.

So my line of thought is more along the lines of entanglement (correlated non-separability) and einselection (emergence of a special set of variables for that correlation) in quantum mechanics. For whatever reason, some physical systems become computers/register machines in relation to their environment. They "learn" to ignore the noise and develop handler variables for the environment as well as representation variables. Something like that. I hope it's clear and I hope it's not too out there.

I think for something like conscience to evolve from a nebular chaos, it must have been universally inherent in all matter all along, and then something physical must be triggering it on over and over. And then I have suggested as a possibility that this 1+3 mapping of conscience may just be a characteristic of how conscience is formed rather that an inherent quality of the physical universe itself.

But these are just speculations, admittedly. I don't know how we could do a gedanken experiment or more concrete hypothesis from that imprecise idea.

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2 hours ago, Strange said:

our two best theories (GR and QM) can’t actually be used to solve lots of problems because the mathematics is intractable - there are no analytical solutions

Don't tell that to the anti expert brigade (took me years to realize that** for GR)

Makes the physicists look like bodgers.

 

**meaning I finally asked the right question

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2 hours ago, Markus Hanke said:

I think Newtonian mechanics is actually highly problematic when it comes to causation. If you really think about it, the notion of “force” which Newton suggested boils down to instantaneous action across arbitrarily large distances (most clearly seen with gravity), in the complete absence of any plausible causative mechanism. So I think a strong case can be made for it actually being a non-local theory based on correlations, not causation. 

Hmm. Gravity has all attributes of a causal agent, even in a Newtonian view. Think about a contrafactual analysis of gravity, e.g. "Without the sun being there, earth would travel in a straight line". And 'correlation' is a more vague concept than 'causality'. Mostly, when there is a consistent correlation between 2 phenomena, there is some causality hidden there, maybe around 2 or more corners. But of course, the instantaneous action is a problem, especially for us, who know c is the maximum speed that causality can have. However, I think in a Newtonian framework, the instantaneity is not a problem. Non-locality however is, and Newton saw the problem, therefore his 'hypotheses non fingo' concerning the 'action at a distance'.

3 hours ago, Markus Hanke said:

This immediately leads to the much more general issue of why any mathematical structure should correspond to processes in the real world.

My, possibly naive, answer to this as follows: we only can recognise causality where we see regularities. (Hume would be proud of me...) And every regularity can be described mathematically. (At least that feels right to me. If it really is, I am not sure. Can somebody give an example of a real regularity (not some fantasy science fiction scenario) that cannot be described mathematically?)

3 hours ago, Markus Hanke said:

If the starting point was some other sentience that “lives” in a different domain - for example a hypothetical being made only of light, or gravity - would their intuition of the world be based on Newtonian mechanics?

Formally you are right, but it seems too far-fetched for me. It is my conviction that our consciousness arises in complex structures, and it seems very difficult to build such structures with light or gravity alone. If this is right, a conscious entity must be implemented in a complex structure, and that suggests it must have a physical size which is comparable to ours. If these speculations are correct, the the answer is 'yes'.

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“Before one studies Zen, mountains are mountains and waters are waters; after a first glimpse into the truth of Zen, mountains are no longer mountains and waters are no longer waters; after enlightenment, mountains are once again mountains and waters once again waters.”

Dōgen

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22 hours ago, Strange said:

There seem to be two possible approaches to that:

1. The universe is fundamentally mathematical in nature. (This contains all sorts of implicit assumptions about the existence of an external reality and that mathematics exists independently of our minds)

2. Mathematics is the tool we (our minds) use to describe our mental model of the universe and so inevitably the universe appears mathematical. (If all you have is a hammer then every problem looks like a nail. Or whatever the proverb is.)

Perhaps though there is a third option, which is somewhere in between these - mathematics could be a human invention/convention (a type of language), however, the structures underlying that language correspond in some sense to structures in the real world. Much like the elevation profile on a topographical map in some sense maps into terrain altitudes, or elements of natural languages map to elements of human experience.

22 hours ago, joigus said:

So my line of thought is more along the lines of entanglement (correlated non-separability) and einselection (emergence of a special set of variables for that correlation) in quantum mechanics. For whatever reason, some physical systems become computers/register machines in relation to their environment. They "learn" to ignore the noise and develop handler variables for the environment as well as representation variables. Something like that. I hope it's clear and I hope it's not too out there.

No, it’s not too far out there. I have at times speculated myself about a possible link between consciousness and entanglement, in an information-theoretic sense; the idea was that you have two complex systems, the brain and the external world (not necessarily entirely independent). If these systems were entangled somehow, then the composite system ‘world+brain’ would have to be described by a state that is non-separable, meaning you need information not just about each of the subsystems, but also about how they are related. Perhaps consciousness is somehow linked to precisely that ‘extra’ information, which would need to have a very complex structure. Of course I am referring to information-theoretic generalised entanglement here, not necessarily the narrower concept of quantum entanglement.
Again, this was just some Sunday afternoon type speculation. 

19 hours ago, Eise said:

Hmm. Gravity has all attributes of a causal agent, even in a Newtonian view. Think about a contrafactual analysis of gravity, e.g. "Without the sun being there, earth would travel in a straight line". And 'correlation' is a more vague concept than 'causality'. Mostly, when there is a consistent correlation between 2 phenomena, there is some causality hidden there, maybe around 2 or more corners. But of course, the instantaneous action is a problem, especially for us, who know c is the maximum speed that causality can have. However, I think in a Newtonian framework, the instantaneity is not a problem. Non-locality however is, and Newton saw the problem, therefore his 'hypotheses non fingo' concerning the 'action at a distance'.

Ok, I may have been going a bit too far off the rails.
Out of interest though, in philosophical terms, where is the difference between causation and correlation? Correlations come in degrees of strength, so at what point does a correlation become a causation?

19 hours ago, Eise said:

My, possibly naive, answer to this as follows: we only can recognise causality where we see regularities. (Hume would be proud of me...) And every regularity can be described mathematically.

Very interesting notion. I will need to think about this some more.

19 hours ago, Eise said:

Can somebody give an example of a real regularity (not some fantasy science fiction scenario) that cannot be described mathematically?)

Phenomenological qualia? For every conscious observer who can perceive colours, it is always like something to see ‘blue’. The subjective content of those qualia is likely slightly different for every observer, but their ontological status (i.e. the fact that qualia accompany experience) is a real regularity - that cannot be described mathematically. Or am I seeing this wrong?

20 hours ago, Eise said:

Formally you are right, but it seems too far-fetched for me. It is my conviction that our consciousness arises in complex structures, and it seems very difficult to build such structures with light or gravity alone.

You are probably right, mine was a very far-fetched speculation. Note however that such structures are possible in principle, i.e. they are compatible with the laws of physics even as we know them. Take for example the concept of gravitation geon - these are topological structures that are held together solely by their own gravitational self-interactions. So basically you’d have a completely empty vacuum region of spacetime, which nonetheless has a non-trivial geometry and topology associated with it. Something similar can be done if you combine gravity and electromagnetic field. In principle at least such structures could be arbitrarily complex; but of course I couldn’t think of any natural process that would give rise to them, so in that sense it is indeed very far-fetched.

20 hours ago, Eise said:

Dōgen

Well, in Buddhist philosophy (and in other Eastern thought systems as well) the subject-object duality that we take as being so fundamental to experience isn’t fundamental at all. Given enough practice with the right techniques, one can eventually realise the illusory nature of that duality, giving rise to the state of ‘atammayatā’, which is a state of non-dual awareness where there is no longer ‘this mind’ going out to ‘that object’. By ‘illusory’ here I don’t mean that the duality doesn’t exist, but rather that it is based on a wrong view, and is thus void of any substance, once seen through. 

Most notably, this world view is very empirical, in that it isn’t taught as a mere abstract fact to be believed, but as part of a practical path to be practiced. In other words, given enough practice and perseverance, one can go and find out for oneself what ‘atammayatā’ is like. In the East, philosophy is often based upon direct personal experience, rather than metaphysical speculation.

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43 minutes ago, Markus Hanke said:

Out of interest though, in philosophical terms, where is the difference between causation and correlation? Correlations come in degrees of strength, so at what point does a correlation become a causation?

This is difficult to answer in its generality. I tried to give a hint with my expression of 'consistent correlation': everytime we see A we also see B. And we see B only when A also occurs. If that is the case, i.e. a 100% correlation, we must assume that somehow causality is at work. Of course it can still be that C causes first A and then B, so there is no direct causal relationship, that would be 'causality around one corner'. In less than 'consistent correlation', it can be just by chance, or there are many possible causes involved in the happening of B (maybe B can even occur without A occurring). I think we can only be sure that if A causes B, then A and B are 100% correlated. But not the other way round. But I must add that both defining causality, and recognising it, are very difficult to analyse. First of course is a philosophical task, second a scientific one.

1 hour ago, Markus Hanke said:

Phenomenological qualia? For every conscious observer who can perceive colours, it is always like something to see ‘blue’. The subjective content of those qualia is likely slightly different for every observer, but their ontological status (i.e. the fact that qualia accompany experience) is a real regularity - that cannot be described mathematically. Or am I seeing this wrong?

Ow... qualia are a highly disputed concept in philosophy. In short, I would say 'qualia' is just another word for experience. Maybe you want to read this article of Daniel Dennet: A History of Qualia (pdf):

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Abstract The philosophers’ concept of qualia is an artifact of bad theorizing, and in particular, of failing to appreciate the distinction between the intentional object of a belief (for instance) and the cause(s) of that belief. Qualia, like Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny, have a history but that does not make them real. The cause of a hallucination, for instance, may not resemble the intentional object hallucinated at all, and the representation in the brain is not rendered in special subjective properties (qualia).

 

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20 hours ago, Eise said:

Ow... qualia are a highly disputed concept in philosophy. In short, I would say 'qualia' is just another word for experience. Maybe you want to read this article of Daniel Dennet: A History of Qualia (pdf):

To be honest, I do not really understand Dennet’s argument, it doesn’t make any sense to me. I can see why he would want to argue against the existence of qualia, given his overall views on the science and philosophy of mind and consciousness, but I really don’t follow his claims. It is obvious that those attributes - an apple’s redness, a pain’s unpleasantness etc - do not exist separate from the mind; in a physical sense, an apple simply reflects light of certain wavelengths, and neurons simply transmit electrochemical signals. Redness and unpleasantness aren’t properties of the ‘ding-an-sich’, in Kantian terms, and believing otherwise is of course a mistake. However, I don’t experience wavelengths of a certain kind, nor do I experience electrochemical signals - I directly experience redness, and the unpleasantness of pain. That’s the whole point. It is in fact precisely the other way around - it is the very concepts of ‘wavelengths’ and ‘electrochemical signals’ that are in some sense at least the illusory fiction here, because these are abstract ideas created by the mind, and at the same time they do not correspond to direct experience (yet they are also real as mind-objects in themselves). Even a newborn infant knows what it is like to see red, or to feel the unpleasantness of pain, though they know nothing as per yet of colours or sensations (as concepts). They experience redness, but do not know that it is ‘red’; they hurt, but do not know that it is ‘pain’. Even my cat manifestly knows what it is like to be a cat, though she does not know that she is a ‘cat’. Any parent who has ever had to console a colicky infant knows that the unpleasantness of their pain is quite real to them, and they are not shy and very vocal in letting you know! Explaining to someone suffering in a dentist’s chair that it is ‘just electrochemical signals’ isn’t likely to alleviate their suffering in any way. Even ethically, such a viewpoint as Dennet’s is very highly problematic.

That qualia are subjective (i.e. mind-generated) and possibly lack a physical correlate is obvious, but that does not make them any less real. For any observer, at any given instant, real is what they experience in that precise moment of consciousness; whether the objects of consciousness have a physical correlate or not is really quite irrelevant to that. Even if one hallucinates, and knows that is a hallucination, then both the experience of the hallucination itself and of their beliefs about it are both real. Reality is inherently subjective and observer-dependent; if it weren’t, in what sense could it be ‘reality’?  

Unfortunately I do not have the philosophical background knowledge nor vocabulary to formally refute Dennet’s claims, but they don’t ring true to me at all, and they most certainly do not correspond to my own phenomenology of experience. In fact, they sound like a cop-out - it seems he is quite desperately attempting to explain away something the existence of which poses a fundamental problem to the rest of his world view. 

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43 minutes ago, Markus Hanke said:

I can see why he would want to argue against the existence of qualia, given his overall views on the science and philosophy of mind and consciousness, but I really don’t follow his claims.

I think there might be an easy way to understand why qualia do not help a bit to understand consciousness. Take the example of the 'upside down' goggles. In experiments, people got used to them after about a week. These people function perfectly in daily life, even not being aware that everything was turned upside down. Until they take of their glasses! Then again they experience the world upside down, and they again need some time to get used to it. Now ask them: are they used to their upside down quale, or did their quale turned upside down? Is this question answerable? And if it is not, what use is the concept of qualia? Qualia are scientifically inaccessible (per definition!), and philosophically useless. Why add some concept to the concepts we already have, like consciousness, or observation?

My (and I think also Dennett's) view in the case of the upside down glasses, is that we simply get used to the 'upside down world'. After some time, we can act as before based on our (upside down?) world. In neurological terms, the neural pathways somewhere between eyes and our motoric system have changed. But that 'somewhere' is essentially vague. There is no central control in our brain where all observations come together, and from where our motoric 'commands' are initiated. So the question, is the picture in central control turned upside down, or are our commands turned upside down (the command take your arm up is changed in take your arm down) makes no sense. Qualia would be what we see on the screen, but such a screen does not exist.

1 hour ago, Markus Hanke said:

That qualia are subjective (i.e. mind-generated) and possibly lack a physical correlate is obvious, but that does not make them any less real. For any observer, at any given instant, real is what they experience in that precise moment of consciousness; whether the objects of consciousness have a physical correlate or not is really quite irrelevant to that.

To be honest, I am not aware of any qualia: I am aware of things around me, that my stomach hurts (or better, that I feel pain in my belly), etc. There simply is no way to 'access qualia'. Which means they are just theoretical constructs. And I agree with Dennett that they leave a track of stupid philosophical problems. The concept of qualia should go the same way as phlogiston, or Aristotle's concept of impetus (the agent that forces objects to move).

Do not forget, Dennett explains consciousness (of course one can discuss if his explanation is correct): what he definitely does not is explaining it away, as many critics accuse him of. And where Dennett expresses himself on topics of ethics and politics, he is highly humanistic in his views. He definitely is not an 'eliminative materialist'.

On a personal note,  I see Dennett as one of those philosophers that helps me on my Zen-path: to see through the illusion of an independently existing 'I'. Meditation is the direct experiential way to realise it; philosophies like Dennet's are the intellectual companions on that way: not essential for the way, but a nice help for intellectually inclined people. (But do not take the boat with you when you crossed the river with it...)

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22 hours ago, Eise said:

To be honest, I am not aware of any qualia: I am aware of things around me, that my stomach hurts (or better, that I feel pain in my belly), etc.

Hmm, I think I may be misunderstanding what the term ‘qualia’ is conventionally taken to mean. For me, I am aware of pain, and I am also aware of the unpleasantness of it; these two aren’t the same things at all. Pain is simply a sensation, and that is all it is; the unpleasantness of it is how the mind reacts to that sensation, and it is that which I am referring to when I say ‘qualia’. It is quite real to me. Remember the old Buddhist adage : ‘Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional’. That is precisely how I understand qualia, but perhaps that is not how the term is used in the philosophy of mind...?

22 hours ago, Eise said:

On a personal note,  I see Dennett as one of those philosophers that helps me on my Zen-path: to see through the illusion of an independently existing 'I'. Meditation is the direct experiential way to realise it; philosophies like Dennet's are the intellectual companions on that way: not essential for the way, but a nice help for intellectually inclined people. (But do not take the boat with you when you crossed the river with it...)

Well, I am also a practicing Buddhist (albeit in a different tradition) and intellectually inclined, but Dennett’s views - to the extent that I am aware of them and understand them - do not seem to resonate with me. But like I said, I am really not qualified to address them formally from within a philosophical tradition.
As mentioned above, in my own meditation practice it appears intuitively obvious to me that an object of experience (e.g. pain) is quite separate from what it is like to have that experience (unpleasant). If I was able to intuitively and immediately experience objects just for what they are (e.g. pain as being just a sensation like any other sensation, and just that, and nothing else), then there wouldn’t be an issue - the process of ‘selfing’ (as I call it myself) couldn’t happen, and thus no suffering could arise. Likewise, if the ‘unpleasantness’ was inherent in pain, rather than separate, we’d be trapped - there would be no way out of suffering. But luckily for us this is not so.
On the other hand, in some sense Dennett does have a point though, because the way the mind reacts to objects of experience is ultimately conditioned by ignorance, i.e. by wrong view, by not seeing things clearly. So in that sense the ‘unpleasantness’ of pain is illusory, because pain is just pain, it’s by nature neither pleasant, nor unpleasant - the untrained mind doesn’t see it like that simply because it doesn’t know any better, until insight into the issue eventually arises. So qualia are at the same time quite real, but also inherently empty.

I guess in Buddhist philosophy the term ‘qualia’ would encompass sañña (labelling) and sankhārā (conditional formations) within the ‘Five Aggregates’ template; we suffer because we identify with these, and fail to see that they are transient, unsatisfactory, and not-self. 

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On 7/24/2020 at 9:56 AM, Markus Hanke said:

or me, I am aware of pain, and I am also aware of the unpleasantness of it; these two aren’t the same things at all. Pain is simply a sensation, and that is all it is; the unpleasantness of it is how the mind reacts to that sensation, and it is that which I am referring to when I say ‘qualia’.

Yep, that is not what philosophers mean with 'qualia'. Those philosopher who think qualia are really something, would say that pain is already a quale. It is more or less 'the experienced'. An object can be red, but only the 'observed redness' is a quale. Where I fully agree with your citation 'Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional'. But I would prefer to explain that without using 'qualia'.

On 7/24/2020 at 9:56 AM, Markus Hanke said:

Well, I am also a practicing Buddhist (albeit in a different tradition)

I thought so. My robe is black :rolleyes:. May I ask you in which tradition?

On 7/24/2020 at 9:56 AM, Markus Hanke said:

So in that sense the ‘unpleasantness’ of pain is illusory, because pain is just pain, it’s by nature neither pleasant, nor unpleasant - the untrained mind doesn’t see it like that simply because it doesn’t know any better, until insight into the issue eventually arises. So qualia are at the same time quite real, but also inherently empty.

I think I understand what you mean, but having pain seems to me 'meant' to be unpleasant. In the end, the organism in pain should try to do everything to remove the cause of the pain. Now often, you cannot remove the cause of the pain, so then the question arises how to cope with it. In that we have a choice, exactly in line with what you say:

On 7/24/2020 at 9:56 AM, Markus Hanke said:

we suffer because we identify with these

Just another thing, I realise reading your post again:

On 7/24/2020 at 9:56 AM, Markus Hanke said:

an object of experience (e.g. pain) is quite separate from what it is like to have that experience (unpleasant)

Red things are objects, but the experiencing of redness, the 'quale' so to speak, is essentially subjective. I think with pain it is similar, but just the opposite what you say here. Pain is the (per definition subjective) 'quale', the object is some process in your body, sometimes clear (burned your finger), sometimes not (headache). Where your observation of redness can trigger some further reactions, be it value propositions, feelings ('Who is afraid of red, yellow and blue'), or actions (stop your car for the traffic light), so it is also not done with a 'pain-quale'. So my interpretation is that the separation of 'not-identifying' lies between the 'quale' and the reaction on it.

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On 7/28/2020 at 12:07 PM, Eise said:

Yep, that is not what philosophers mean with 'qualia'. Those philosopher who think qualia are really something, would say that pain is already a quale. It is more or less 'the experienced'. An object can be red, but only the 'observed redness' is a quale. Where I fully agree with your citation 'Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional'. But I would prefer to explain that without using 'qualia'.

Ah I see - I misunderstood the accepted meaning of the term so. Thanks for clarifying :) 

On 7/28/2020 at 12:07 PM, Eise said:

May I ask you in which tradition?

Sure...it’s the Theravadin Thai Forest tradition, in the lineage of Ajahn Chah. I have plans to ordain as a monk in this tradition, sometime next year.

On 7/28/2020 at 12:07 PM, Eise said:

In the end, the organism in pain should try to do everything to remove the cause of the pain.

Completely agree, that is the (very effective) evolutionary purpose of pain. Nonetheless, I do believe it is possible to relate to the experience in a way that doesn’t involve automatic suffering. Otherwise I wouldn’t be a practicing Buddhist ;)

On 7/28/2020 at 12:07 PM, Eise said:

So my interpretation is that the separation of 'not-identifying' lies between the 'quale' and the reaction on it.

Yup, sounds reasonable - though I still don’t think I fully understand the intended meaning of ‘quale’. I’ll have to do more reading on this subject.

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On 7/29/2020 at 4:49 PM, Markus Hanke said:

it’s the Theravadin Thai Forest tradition, in the lineage of Ajahn Chah.

I had never heard of it. Could one say, in a few single words, it is Buddhism 'back to the roots'?

On 7/29/2020 at 4:49 PM, Markus Hanke said:

I have plans to ordain as a monk in this tradition, sometime next year.

Pity Ireland is a bit far away to be there at the ceremony. And who knows where we are with COVID-19.

On 7/29/2020 at 4:49 PM, Markus Hanke said:

Completely agree, that is the (very effective) evolutionary purpose of pain. Nonetheless, I do believe it is possible to relate to the experience in a way that doesn’t involve automatic suffering.

Same for me. Just to add (not for you, you already know that for sure), there is of course also a lot of suffering that does not start with bodily pain, but raises from our false understanding of what and who we are.

On 7/29/2020 at 4:49 PM, Markus Hanke said:

Yup, sounds reasonable - though I still don’t think I fully understand the intended meaning of ‘quale’. I’ll have to do more reading on this subject.

I would nearly say, no need for that. It will only increase confusion, and create a lot of 'fake problems', similar to 'How many angels can dance on a pinpoint'.

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1 hour ago, Eise said:

I had never heard of it. Could one say, in a few single words, it is Buddhism 'back to the roots'?

In a way yes, in the context of Theravada. Ajahn Chah was a bit of a reformist, in that he attempted to cut through all the elaborate ritual, magic spells etc etc that tends to proliferate once any system of thought becomes a folk religion. He wanted people to go back to doing the actual practice, rather than attach themselves to form and ritual. He was very clear on that anyone can find liberation in this lifetime, given sufficient dedication, effort, and the right way of practice. He was also a simple village boy by background, so the way he taught was very down to earth and no-nonsense - in fact his style was very similar to that of the Zen masters of old.

Unfortunately, in recent years, as the Ajahn Chah lineage became more popular, it too began to ossify and ritualise again. But I suppose that's the way it goes, once anything becomes institutionalised. This where one needs to take responsibility for one's own practice, and try to focus on what actually matters. I take from the tradition what I find useful, and come up with ways to peacefully coexist with the rest.

2 hours ago, Eise said:

Pity Ireland is a bit far away to be there at the ceremony. And who knows where we are with COVID-19.

I will be relocating to Thailand for that, I have already been formally accepted into a monastery of one very well known and respected (in Thailand) teacher within the tradition. He is one of the original students of Ajahn Chah, and the Thai people consider him fully enlightened. I figured if I do this thing I might as well do it right, and learn the original form. It will be a challenge, as I do not as of yet speak any Thai, but hey...life becomes boring if it is too easy ;) So I'll be back and forth between Thailand and Ireland for a few years, but, once the 'junior monk' period is over, I am hoping to be based somewhere in Europe, as all my family is here of course.

2 hours ago, Eise said:

there is of course also a lot of suffering that does not start with bodily pain, but raises from our false understanding of what and who we are.

Absolutely. For me these are the most prominent forms of suffering, as my body is still largely cooperating; but being on the autism spectrum can be tough, and then of course you have all the other usual vicissitudes of life.

 

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2 hours ago, Eise said:

Same for me. Just to add (not for you, you already know that for sure), there is of course also a lot of suffering that does not start with bodily pain, but raises from our false understanding of what and who we are.

 

On 7/28/2020 at 1:07 PM, Eise said:

Where I fully agree with your citation 'Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional'.

Brilliant observations. +1. Count me in.

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On 7/16/2020 at 9:02 AM, geordief said:

First,is there a distinction to be made?

After all the mind is created by the external world (= is that the same as the observed world?)

There are even those who claim that the external world is a creation of our mind.

People with mental disorders like Schizophrenia can have visual and audible hallucinations. To lesser extends most people are capable of hallucinations under various conditions (fatigue, hunger, etc). The mind interprets what it can of the external world but can be wrong (what others would collectively agree is or can be measured as wrong). As such I think there is a distinction to be made. The mind interprets the external but with what degree of accuracy various person to person and moment to moment. I think we have all at one point been walking, anticipated a drop from the curb to the street, taken a step adjusting for the drop, and then stumbled off balance when there wasn't a step. In those types of moments our minds misinterpret the outside world. The mind, at least in terms of our conscious awareness of it, can be decoupled from the external observable world.

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24 minutes ago, Ten oz said:

The mind, at least in terms of our conscious awareness of it, can be decoupled from the external observable world.

Can it? After all the only way we know anything about the external observable word is through our mind. There is no way of distinguishing between the mind presenting us with a view of the external world and the mind inventing the external world.

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I recommend  thinking via "approximately multidimensional approach"  ....to respond this query

what does this mean?

in fact, the demonstration belongs to me (i.e.: there is no such thing,but I demonstrate it,follow---->>)

multidimensional is a core keyword here: means some obtained functions (e.g.: having knowledge about more than three languages (e.g. german,english,spanish,chinese) and having knowledge about more than three disciplines (e.g: maths physics chemistry biology)

I know that all these are difficult but not impossible. I used approximately ,because in fact there should be no limit regarding both disciplines and languages.

.....

 

 

Edited by ahmet
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10 minutes ago, Strange said:

Can it? After all the only way we know anything about the external observable word is through our mind. There is no way of distinguishing between the mind presenting us with a view of the external world and the mind inventing the external world.

I agree. However in the case of hallucinations there does appear to be a miss. People can see that which isn't there, hear sounds that are not present (at least not measurable), etc. While those individuals are unable to distinguish between the mind and external world in the moment we do have other means of measuring reality. Going back and listening to records, watching video, considering input from other people, etc. Can reveal to individuals that what the experienced wasn't real/external.

Of course that individual is still making that realization with their own mind which is why I referred degrees of accuracy moment to moment. This, of course, assumes our interpretation of the world is ever anything more that an illusion.

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11 hours ago, Strange said:

There is no way of distinguishing between the mind presenting us with a view of the external world and the mind inventing the external world.

This is a valid point. But I think the chief problem with a world that is purely invented is the fact that everyone shares a roughly similar ‘invented world’. How is that possible, if it is not based on some external reality? It would mean that either everyone shares the same mind (that’s all there is), and the concept of us being separate individuals is an illusion; or that the ways in which the mind can invent things is somehow intrinsically constrained, so that the end result is always similar.

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45 minutes ago, Markus Hanke said:

This is a valid point. But I think the chief problem with a world that is purely invented is the fact that everyone shares a roughly similar ‘invented world’. How is that possible, if it is not based on some external reality? It would mean that either everyone shares the same mind (that’s all there is), and the concept of us being separate individuals is an illusion; or that the ways in which the mind can invent things is somehow intrinsically constrained, so that the end result is always similar.

Our mind tells us that everyone else has a similar view of the world. 🙂 We have no independent way of establishing that.

I know this starts to sound like solipsism. But solipsism is unfalsifiable.

(I should stress that I am a "realist": I think there is a world "out there" and that it is pretty much exactly as we perceive it. But I also know that there can be no support for such a view.)

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14 hours ago, Strange said:

Can it? After all the only way we know anything about the external observable word is through our mind. There is no way of distinguishing between the mind presenting us with a view of the external world and the mind inventing the external world.

That stretches credulity. Our mind would have to be a  master conjurer extraordinaire  to invent something that wasn't there to be intimated or misinterpreted in the first place.

The distinction I had in mind in the OP   had to do with where we draw the line between the "internal" and the "external".

For example  are our eyes internal or external ? "Clearly"external ....what about the parts of the anatomy that the eye feeds into ? How far along that chain until we say "that is internal" ?

I realise the brain is uncharted territory but is there  something  that says we cannot pinpoint (because it is not there ) any interface between "external" and "internal"?

 

If there is no demarcation is there a sense they are fundamentally the same ?(two halves of the same coin perhaps) 

13 hours ago, Ten oz said:

 Going back and listening to records, watching video, considering input from other people, etc. Can reveal to individuals that what the experienced wasn't real/external.

 

Those delusional people will assume that the evidence for their delusions is false (everyone else can be in on the plot to fool them).

 

I think they may agree they have imagined episodes but only after their medical  condition has cleared up.

Edited by geordief
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5 minutes ago, geordief said:

That stretches credulity. Our mind would have to be a  master conjurer extraordinaire  to invent something that wasn't there to be intimated or misinterpreted in the first place.

That is why I don't believe it. But it is important to know that it is just a belief. There is no way of empirically testing it.

6 minutes ago, geordief said:

The distinction I had in mind in the OP   had to do with where we draw the line between the "internal" and the "external".

For example  our our eyes internal or external ? "Clearly"external ....what about the parts of the anatomy that the eye feeds into ? How far along that chain until we say "that is internal" ?

That is an interesting (and quite different) question. I saw an article recently about how the web of a spider can be considered an extension of their sensory organs, and possibly even their consciousness.

And from the psychological side, there have been studies of how people perceive the difference between internal and external (self and outside world). Some people draw a very clear boundary, others see themselves as just part of the world with no clear distinction. These views correlate with other things like religiosity, etc. (I read about that years ago, so there is no way I could find it again, unfortunately.)

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2 hours ago, Strange said:

know this starts to sound like solipsism. But solipsism is unfalsifiable.

Formally you are right. However the practical difference between solipsism and realism evaporates by the observation that also a solipsist is confronted with the fact that his influence on his virtual world is just as limited as that of the realist. Just because the sun exists in 'his imagination' only, he cannot 'think it away'. Same for the experience of his body, and the need for food. He has to see that his body is also just a projection of his mind, which must regularly be fed by projections of food. And as he shares this experience with all these other 'virtual' people doing exactly the same, he could just as well be a realist.

The only step in the direction of solipsism I see, is the idea that we cannot observe the world as it is in itself, but this is more or less common sense for modern scientists. We create the models, sure, but they have to be tested against factual observations of 'reality'. For a solipsist however this would already be funny: why can't he have a full grasp of reality, when reality is just a product of is mind? 

So I think that only under a 'methodological hammer' solipsism makes sense, or better, as you say, is not unfalsifiable. But except on this methodological playground, solipsism is an empty idea.

And  @Markus Hanke: thanks for your explanations about Theravadin Thai Forest tradition, and your path. 

Interesting enough, I also made my first steps in Zen when I was in Ireland (Galway). I lived a year there (1998-1999). Since then I go into retreats at least once a year (except this year, due to COVID-19), since 2005 with Reb Anderson, who was ordained by Suzuki.

Edited by Eise
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27 minutes ago, Strange said:

That is why I don't believe it. But it is important to know that it is just a belief. There is no way of empirically testing it.

That is an interesting (and quite different) question. I saw an article recently about how the web of a spider can be considered an extension of their sensory organs, and possibly even their consciousness.

And from the psychological side, there have been studies of how people perceive the difference between internal and external (self and outside world). Some people draw a very clear boundary, others see themselves as just part of the world with no clear distinction. These views correlate with other things like religiosity, etc. (I read about that years ago, so there is no way I could find it again, unfortunately.)

Yes the spider's web might well be  open to that interpretation .I wonder if they use each others' webs  or always make one from scratch.

 

Also wonder how people who  variously feel that the internal and external worlds  are separate or interwoven  might conduct themselves differently in their everyday activities.

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