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The best book on Nietszche i've come across. Nietzsche elevated alongside Plato.

Just keep in mind that doing what Cargest said... is best done relaxing in your bed

I think you are right, more than you know.

Bill, the reason you have problems with this is because you consider yourself to be your body.

Precisely! And I see no reason to reevaluate this consideration after having read widely, meditated for months, practiced zen buddhism under a sensei (not for a great period of time, but nevertheless), having broken down experience with lsd and other agents, excercising consistently, recovering in emergency rooms, etc.

You may as well tell lightening that it is having problems because it considers itself to be electrical discharge. This might disallow the acceptance of some propositions relating to 'metaphysics', but that doesn't mean it isn't true.

Lightning is electrical discharge.  Consciousness is not an organism.  I don't see how your analogy works...

It's amusing to see so many people trapped in this fantasy.  It's like a massive game of World of Warcraft, and almost everyone is that total nerd who spends more time playing the game than living in reality.

Bill, PM me with a summary of your explorations of consciousness, and I'll reciprocate - let's see where the similarities are, now that we've gone over the differences five times.

Bill, the reason you have problems with this is because you consider yourself to be your body.

Precisely! And I see no reason to reevaluate this consideration after having read widely, meditated for months, practiced zen buddhism under a sensei (not for a great period of time, but nevertheless), having broken down experience with lsd and other agents, excercising consistently, recovering in emergency rooms, etc.

You may as well tell lightening that it is having problems because it considers itself to be electrical discharge. This might disallow the acceptance of some propositions relating to 'metaphysics', but that doesn't mean it isn't true.

Lightning is electrical discharge.  Consciousness is not an organism.

This is where physicalism and dualism differ, of course. (Replace organism with organ.)

There is still room for some sort of traditional outlook here. I can still identify myself with an entity that is one step removed from my environment, which has the ability to transcend it's environment to a significant degree. It's called the the frontal cortex.

The cortex is the seat of thought.  The pineal gland is the seat of consciousness.  Even so, neither thought nor consciousness can be reduced to an organ (or a part of one).  Clearly you've never heard of the explanatory gap.  I must say, your lack of knowledge of modern philosophy is pretty interesting considering your praise of it!

Many people have suffered serious damage to their frontal cortexes while being able to retain their ability to cognise.  The most obvious case of this is Phineas Gage, who had a metal pole puncture his pre-frontal cortex.  He could function perfectly normally, except for the fact that he became a cunt (i.e. lost his moral inhibitions, which is very interesting).

An old analogy of mine: consciousness is software, the brain the hardware.  The software doesn't change - it's at version 1.0, and came out of development perfect.  The hardware, though, needs some tweaking every so often, so that it can maximise the potential of the software.  As organisms evolve, the brain evolves; thus, the manifestation of consciousness in physicality becomes more complete.

A small interjection, the pineal gland being the "seat of consciousness" is a pop-science/pseudomystical (take your pick) myth.

It's hardly "pseudomystical".  Everyone from the ancient Egyptians to Descartes knows that it's the pineal gland.  It makes sense, given its position in the body,

So then what would you expect to happen to someone who lost their pineal gland?

I'm not particularly sure of what it does, so I couldn't say : )  My main point was that it's certainly not "pseudomystical", which would suggest that the assertion of its metaphysical importance was one made only by quacks - the majority of pre-moderns have held it to have spiritual significance, either in being the seat of consciousness, or in being the focal point of divine visions etc. (there's not much of a difference...).

Alright, I can accept that, I take back the pseudomystical comment. Still, Descartes weighing in on it doesn't lend it any credence from my point of view. In these matters I tend to veer towards physicalism in the sense that I prefer using the biology to attempt opinions like this rather than using reference in previous traditions as a guide. Anyway, this is a bit of derail from your conversations so I will exit.

The cortex is the seat of thought.  The pineal gland is the seat of consciousness.  Even so, neither thought nor consciousness can be reduced to an organ (or a part of one).  Clearly you've never heard of the explanatory gap.  I must say, your lack of knowledge of modern philosophy is pretty interesting considering your praise of it!

Many people have suffered serious damage to their frontal cortexes while being able to retain their ability to cognise.  The most obvious case of this is Phineas Gage, who had a metal pole puncture his pre-frontal cortex.  He could function perfectly normally, except for the fact that he became a cunt (i.e. lost his moral inhibitions, which is very interesting).

An old analogy of mine: consciousness is software, the brain the hardware.  The software doesn't change - it's at version 1.0, and came out of development perfect.  The hardware, though, needs some tweaking every so often, so that it can maximise the potential of the software.  As organisms evolve, the brain evolves; thus, the manifestation of consciousness in physicality becomes more complete.

I've had enough of talking to you about this. You're a charlatan. You've started up the same issues again. Poke me about 'explanatory gaps' will you. I was talking in generalisations and in good humour, as I thought we were done. There are evolutionarily newer parts of the brain that give the organism some ability to control itself and not simply respond to base simuli. I would have thought these parts of the brain involve the frontal cortex area (i'm not a brain scientist). To say that 'thought can't be reduced to an organ or part of an organ' simply makes you sound like a halfwit. Sure it can't be 'reduced' yet, but there is a pool of evidence which suggests it can't NOT be reducable to the brain. Where else does thought come from? Just because someone looses a part of their brain formally associated with some 'type of thought', and re learns this type of thought, this doesn't suddenly disprove physicalism. Plasticity, rewiring, etc. When you start acknowledging the huge gaps in the dualist theory I have been rasising for weeks rather than focusing in on just gaps in the physicalist theory, maybe you will no longer be a charlatan. I know there are gaps in the physicalist theory. Consider the gaps in the theory you covet with dogmatic prejudice:

1. The direct correlation between physical brains and consciousnes (why can't thought and concsiousness exist without physical brains (or processes that mimick the connections between neurons), why does it vanish with sufficient damage to physical brains, why can't you 'tune in' and pick up my consciousness if you think consciousness is just like a signal or software). You have never given me the courtnesy of acknowleding any of this in any sort of mature fashion. You just tell me 'they are correlated'. But then you don't even attempt to answer this:
2. the mechanisms by which non physical entities might somehow interact with physical entities.

You have never attempted to respond to this:

3. The most rational way of deciding between dualism vs physicalism is via a probabilistic route where the overall pool of evidence supporting each prospective hypothesis is weighed up. It is NOT via finding a few isolated holes in side 'x' and holding this up as a victory for side 'y', in the complete absense of any positive evidence for side 'y'.

When the sciences have revealed that nearly everything we once wanted to explain has a 'mechanistic' cause, you hold fast to the other side. Sure, there are new mysteries that have popped up since (thanks to physical science revealing new questions). But you are a 'god of the gaps' person, akin to that brid of subterrenean spirit, the Ostrich, which proceeds to stick its head into the sand when it senses danger.  I submit to you that this is not justified. When a methodology has been laying waste to questions left right and centre for 200 years, I argue that it is not intellectually credible to hold fast to the gaps it cannot explain, as if one missed note invalidated the whole symphony.

'And this':

"Despite this celebrity the body of established fact about Gage and what he was like (whether before or after his accident) is remarkably small, which has allowed "the fitting of almost any theory to the small number of facts we have"[4]—Gage having been cited, over the years, by proponents of various theories of the brain wholly contradictory to one another. A survey of published accounts of Gage, including scientific ones, has found that they are almost always severely distorted—exaggerating the known facts when not directly contradicting them." (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phineas_Gage)

Phoenix

The Theory of Forms penetrates this temporal "reality" of appearences in focusing on the things which necessarily inform that temporal reality, rather than those secondary things which change, shift, die, are reborn, etc.  Surely even you can't deny that there is some quality of certain objects which we might call "chairness"?  All chairs have it, but no single chair captures it by itself; that essence is far too vast to be contained within a single physical object.  A man once made a router out of chewing gum, a rubber band, and a toothpick (or some similarly mundane items): the object he created was a functioning router, and yet it was entirely unlike any router that had ever been encountered before.  However, it could be known to be a router by its function, not by its physical form.

I would say that you have been horribly misled, if you have a belief that the world of appearences is the "world as it is".  I seem to remember that you have an interest in Buddhism; what, then, do you make of the Buddhist emphasis on the illusory nature of this physical world of anicca?

I can't attach four fucking legs onto a flat surface so I have something to sit on without be inspired by some eternal divine form? Can I think for myself?

The Theory of Forms penetrates this temporal "reality" of appearences in focusing on the things which necessarily inform that temporal reality, rather than those secondary things which change, shift, die, are reborn, etc.  Surely even you can't deny that there is some quality of certain objects which we might call "chairness"?  All chairs have it, but no single chair captures it by itself; that essence is far too vast to be contained within a single physical object.  A man once made a router out of chewing gum, a rubber band, and a toothpick (or some similarly mundane items): the object he created was a functioning router, and yet it was entirely unlike any router that had ever been encountered before.  However, it could be known to be a router by its function, not by its physical form.

I would say that you have been horribly misled, if you have a belief that the world of appearences is the "world as it is".  I seem to remember that you have an interest in Buddhism; what, then, do you make of the Buddhist emphasis on the illusory nature of this physical world of anicca?

I can't attach four fucking legs onto a flat surface so I have something to sit on without be inspired by some eternal divine form? Can I think for myself?

That's not allowed. Before your soul decided to attach itself to your quivering featus, when it was drifting around like a pig on a wing in some 'pure' level of existence, it came into contact with something called the form of a chair, naturally.

I've had enough of talking to you about this. You're a charlatan. You've started up the same issues again. Poke me about 'explanatory gaps' will you.

Yes, I will, because you clearly don't understand the concept.  How is the nature of an experience ever *reducible to a physical phenomenon?  This must be explained first before any aspect of experience can be reduced in this way, and yet it is fundamentally impossible to explain it.  Let me rephrase: due to the nature of the problem, there is no way to explain how experience can be mapped to brain activity.  The reason for this should be obvious: there is a difference in kind between an experience and a physical object; the very nature of consciousness is other than that of physical stuff.  It's all well and good to say "oh, we'll be able to work it out in the future", but that's even worse than my position, that we already worked it out in the past!  How is this so obscure to you?  Also, why are you suddenly taking things personally again?

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To say that 'thought can't be reduced to an organ or part of an organ' simply makes you sound like a halfwit.

Well then, the majority of contemporary philosophers of mind are halfwits.  I'd better tell them that they're wrong!

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When you start acknowledging the huge gaps in the dualist theory I have been rasising for weeks rather than focusing in on just gaps in the physicalist theory, maybe you will no longer be a charlatan.

I'm not a dualist.  As I have explained, I am a monist, of the most rigorous sort: in reality, there is one thing, and one thing only, that is infinite and constant.  This is clearly yet another point in which we've been talking past each other.

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1. The direct correlation between physical brains and consciousnes (why can't thought and concsiousness exist without physical brains (or processes that mimick the connections between neurons), why does it vanish with sufficient damage to physical brains, why can't you 'tune in' and pick up my consciousness if you think consciousness is just like a signal or software). You have never given me the courtnesy of acknowleding any of this in any sort of mature fashion. You just tell me 'they are correlated'

Thought and consciousness certainly exist before brains; brains of the human sort are advanced enough to manifest such non-physical phenomena in physicality.  Even "brain" exists before any one instance of brain has appeared.  If you remove the brain, you remove the mechanism of manifestation; consciousness, though, is eternal (and non-specific/non-specified).

Do you hold "exist" to mean "is corporeal", or "has reality"?  The former is restrictive to anything other than the physicalist paradigm, as you can surely tell.  Nobody could comprehend the metaphysical if they truly believed that only the physical is real.

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2. the mechanisms by which non physical entities might somehow interact with physical entities.

"The physical is informed by the metaphysical".  If you cannot understand what this means, simply accept that your knowledge is not apt to the task at hand, and wait until you have accumulated enough to make sense of this simple statement.  I'm not trying to be rude, here, but you seem to be glossing over huge amounts of what I've said, perhaps because you don't yet have the conceptual tools to understand it.

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3. The most rational way of deciding between dualism vs physicalism is via a probabilistic route where the overall pool of evidence supporting each prospective hypothesis is weighed up. It is NOT via finding a few isolated holes in side 'x' and holding this up as a victory for side 'y', in the complete absense of any positive evidence for side 'y'.

As I have mentioned above, you're mistaken in considering me to be a dualist - surely this shows, yet again, your ignorance of Tradition, for no follower of Tradition can be a dualist of any sort.  Only Monism is Real.

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When the sciences have revealed that nearly everything we once wanted to explain has a 'mechanistic' cause, you hold fast to the other side. Sure, there are new mysteries that have popped up since (thanks to physical science revealing new questions). But you are a 'god of the gaps' person, akin to that brid of subterrenean spirit, the Ostrich, which proceeds to stick its head into the sand when it senses danger.  I submit to you that this is not justified. When a methodology has been laying waste to questions left right and centre for 200 years, I argue that it is not intellectually credible to hold fast to the gaps it cannot explain, as if one missed note invalidated the whole symphony.

You can continue to levy accusations against my character, but the fact remains that, as (again) I have said before, my beliefs are based upon experience and reason, just as yours are.  I'm certain that potentially all physical phenomena have a physical cause, and yet I am also certain that there are non-physical phenomena (such as experience itself).  I am certain of this because I encounter such things daily - as does any conscious entity - and I can recognise them as such, where others seemingly attempt to fool themselves into thinking that they (both the phenomena and themselves!) don't exist.

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'And this':

"Despite this celebrity the body of established fact about Gage and what he was like (whether before or after his accident) is remarkably small, which has allowed "the fitting of almost any theory to the small number of facts we have"[4]—Gage having been cited, over the years, by proponents of various theories of the brain wholly contradictory to one another. A survey of published accounts of Gage, including scientific ones, has found that they are almost always severely distorted—exaggerating the known facts when not directly contradicting them." (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phineas_Gage)

And?

@Transcix: "thinking for yourself", and attaching those legs to that flat surface, you have created what is known in English as a "chair".  I suppose that you've reasoned that your own form is comfortable when bent at the knees, and you've surmised that a good way of achieving this is to provide some base upon which to rest your backside, that your upper body might be supported while your knees are bent.  Subsequently, you have combined a number of objects in such a way as to provide that raised base, thus imbuing those collected objects with "chairness".  This is how we call it in English; it is called by any number of other names, but its essence remains the same, across time, across cultures.  The wheel has been "invented" many times.

Bill's partially correct in suggesting that, being indistinguishable from any other form (as all forms are part of the One), we have a fundamental connection to all forms; as such, it could be said that we never "invent" things, but "remember" them.  The chair already exists, before we "create" it (I could bring Parmenides in here to provide logical proof of this and similar statements, if necessary).

A lot of this is just essence and instance. Philosophy and physics each have provisions for both.

Generally, philosophy will ground itself in the essences then sometimes prove itself by providing derived instances to show consistency.

Physics will record the instances which is all we can immediately measure, but this data may later serve to construct the essences or if we prefer, physical laws from which the measured instances are derived. We need to bear in mind the physical laws themselves cannot be measured without having several instantiated samples to measure to show consistency.

I don't understand why a multiverse consisting of essences and instances are considered dualism. On the other hand, none of this convinces me that some kindly anthromorphic deity had to have planned everything out for us prior to spacetime.

Jesus, Not again.

Some thoughts on the subjects discussed in this thread.  Firstly, from the point of view of pure metaphysics, it is clear that the physical world can be nothing more than a medium upon which certain possibilities converge under particular conditions.

The last 4 pages of this thread have been discussing the viridicalty of 'the point of view of pure metaphysics', at least related to questions of ontology or 'what there is'. Please don't simply ignore this, assume the point of view that has been called into disripute and make unjustified, sweeping statements. This is all you traditionalists seem to do. You don't enagege with the issues someone else presents, that are possibly serious musings on the human experience, just straight to the ideas that fit your concepts. Blind to everything else.

My intent was not to ignore the preceding discussion, but to clarify the traditionalist position.  Obviously I was not entirely successful.  I must admit, that what you have described is a typical reaction to traditionalist doctrine and this is because most people who are unfamiliar with traditionalist knowledge are also ignorant of the source and the possibility of this knowledge.  The fundamental claim of traditional metaphysics is this...

Quote from: Frithjof Schuon's Transcendent Unity of Religions (Preface)
...in the case of intellectual intuition, knowledge is not possessed by the individual insofar as he is an individual, but insofar as in his innermost essence he is not distinct from his Principle.  Thus metaphysical certitude is absolute because of the identity of the knower and the known in the Intellect'

Thus metaphysical knowledge proceeds, not from empirical evidence as such, but from direct identity with its object, that is to say that in pure metaphysics the duality subject-object is dissolved.  This may shed some light on the following...

Why is the following "clear"?: the physical world can be nothing more than a medium upon which certain possibilities converge under particular conditions.

You can't just say it's clear because according to 'pure' metaphysics it's clear. You have to give objective reasons why it is clear.

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The fact that our sensory inputs open directly onto the physical realm does not for that reason imply that it has any privileged status in the hierarchy of existence, or that our own existence is limited to this domain, in fact it clearly is not.  The extent to which modern man exalts physical existence above all else is simply a reflection of the fact that his ability to perceive anything other than it has diminished.

To some extent, I understand your objection, although in reality I have not actually said anything that can be objected to.  You have probably already built up a bias from your previous discussions.  Is there any reason to assume that the physical world constitutes the limit of reality?  That is simply a kind of cosmological solipsism.  The Frithjof Schuon quote tells you everything you need to know in order to understand every claim made by the traditionalists on this forum, it is up to you as to whether or not you choose to understand it, since without recourse to the Intellect or openness to the traditional wisdom found in the world's religions, there is no possibility of attaining any knowledge of spiritual realities.

A lot of this is just essence and instance. Philosophy and physics each have provisions for both.

Generally, philosophy will ground itself in the essences then sometimes prove itself by providing derived instances to show consistency.

Physics will record the instances which is all we can immediately measure, but this data may later serve to construct the essences or if we prefer, physical laws from which the measured instances are derived. We need to bear in mind the physical laws themselves cannot be measured without having several instantiated samples to measure to show consistency.

I don't understand why a multiverse consisting of essences and instances are considered dualism. On the other hand, none of this convinces me that some kindly anthromorphic deity had to have planned everything out for us prior to spacetime.

This is more or less the limit of what can be understood of metaphysics from a purely philosophical point of view.  As far as 'anthropomorphic deities' are concerned, I think it is likely that there are transcendent centers of consciousness similar to human minds, although I do not have any direct experience of such a thing.  To use the language of the Vedanta, the Supreme Brahman (Reality as such) is supra-personal, however the 'Veil of Maya' causes the Supreme Brahman to appear as Ishvara (The Divine Lord).  In other words God is the Supreme Principle insofar as it is the 'creator' of the manifested world, however God himself is only relative with regards to this Principle since the world is never actually 'outside' of it except in an illusory way.