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

From what I can gather, the instances are what is immediately tangible and apparent from our perspective. They're an outer layer. We have tease out the next layer, the essences causing these instances, through whatever studies or disciplines have come about.

Sheer logical function could be the next layer as a metaessence from which all the more apparent causes branch out.

As for revealing an even deeper layer, we would be moving toward the One or Godward, but perhaps not 'seeing' God for many layers still. The opposite direction moves us toward dissolution and fantasy, ignorance/insanity and finally terminating at pure nothingness farthest from the ultimate cause.

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).

Here is where you are a charlatan! What shred of proof or reasoning leads you to assert the following as though it's obvious?

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Consciousness certainly exists before brains

 >:(

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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.

You are a charlatan, mate. You've never once addressed this!! I'm glossing over huge amount of what you've said because you never allow yourself to be pinned down to the point. How do non-physical entities interact with physical entites? Don't point me to a pile of books, don't tell me my knowledge of 'tradition' is lacking, either concede a hole in your 'theory' or give reasons why this is the wrong question to ask.

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.

I don't give a shit about traditionalism here! Whether these wild claims about consciousness 'obviously' existing independently of brains are traditionalist or not is not the point. So what if they are? It doesn't mean they suddenly enjoy justification. I give a shit about views you're asserting as fact that are metaphysical sweet-nothings. The intellectual equivalent to junk food: sweet but with zero substance.

What is it that recognises the physical existence of the chair?  Consciousness.  What is it that recognises the physical existence of the brain?  Consciousness.  What is it that recognises the non-physical existence of itself?  Consciousness.  What is it without which no recognition could occur?  Consciousness.

What is, if nothing else?

Consciousness.

I really can't believe you want me to explain all of this again, but I have little else to be doing for the moment : )  A linguistic argument cannot be given in support, though the truth might be inferred from language: still, language is removed from what is, being a finite method of expressing the infinity of thoughts.

The infinity within each is required to experience that infinity; experience is required before you will understand these truths.  There may be a priori arguments to support them (there could be no evidence - as previously explained, to ask for such is to misunderstand what we're talking about), but what certifies such things as true is the universality of the experience of them, that is, anyone could come to know them to be true, simply through introspection.

There is no "interaction" between the non-physical and the physical: as has been repeatedly explained, the two are One.  How can there be interaction between itself?  Even the statement is grammatically inconsistent!  I ask you to reappraise your understanding of the verb "to inform", especially in this metaphysical context.  This information is not going to happen, it has never happened; it is always happening.  I shall repeat the point, one last time: there is no separation between physical and non-physical (but that we wish that it were so!), thus no interaction; the one expresses the other.

In referring constantly to Tradition, I'm hoping that you might stop asking questions that have already been answered.  Funnily enough, it's not my job to pull you out of the mire; it has been the job of many to pull many out of the mire, and theirs are the works which you should read if you want to read anything about this subject.  However, I will eternally stress that you'll understand nothing through reading, though you may learn a lot; only experience can assure you of what is.  (Edit: experience can't tell you what isn't, by the way!)

What is it that recognises the physical existence of the chair?  Consciousness.  What is it that recognises the physical existence of the brain?  Consciousness.  What is it that recognises the non-physical existence of itself?  Consciousness.  What is it without which no recognition could occur?  Consciousness.

What is, if nothing else?

Consciousness.

What is it that 'recognises' village spirits that live in the woods and that punish you for stealing your neighbour's pig? Consciousness. What is it that 'recognises' the statement 'murder is wrong' to be an absolute truth? Consciousness. What is it that 'recognises' the visions experienced by people having psychotic dellusions? Their consciousness. What 'recognises' ghosts in your when you are a child? Consciousness.

Bloody profound reasoning for why consciousness 'must' exist before physical brains. Bloody profound!

It's no suprise you revert to downgrading the importance of argument and clear thinking when you are pursued:

I really can't believe you want me to explain all of this again, but I have little else to be doing for the moment : )  A linguistic argument cannot be given in support, though the truth might be inferred from language: still, language is removed from what is, being a finite method of expressing the infinity of thoughts.

It's all 'beyond words', man! (takes a toke).

People that look 'inward' for the Truth are intellectural solipsists and narcissists, 'discovering' what their brains put there in the first place.

Never one to stray from your own tradition, you've failed to understand the importance (or perhaps even the meaning) of the first paragraph.  There can be no enquiry without consciousness - consciousness must be the first thing into which we enquire.  How can we enquire into consciousness?  It is not a measurable, but an experiential phenomenon; empirical science cannot account for it, being the measurer of things, not the qualifier of them.  Experience of consciousness is what is required, but what exactly does this mean?

Such and such questions have been asked for thousands of years.  Deeper and more probing than any consideration of what the physical world might hold, the Ancients considered what they themselves could possibly be, surely the sole capability of humanity which separates us from animals.  These enquiries are where Tradition comes from - it's not derived from mumbo jumbo religidiocity, though it has often been encoded in wondrous layers of metaphor which people have subsequently misinterpreted as being meant literally.  Tradition has retained answers to the most fundamental questions about our own nature - not the nature of physical Man, but the nature of the experiencer, the one who watches the show (and, thus, the show itself).

Another consideration: it is the timeless nature of consciousness which shows it to be other than matter, which is essentially in time.  While all matter shifts and changes, aging, growing, coming into being and dying, consciousness itself remains unchanged throughout - there is absolutely no difference between the consciousness of a person at one moment to the next, nor between that of one entity and that of another, though the experiences may differ greatly.  You won't understand this if you haven't gone past the point of thinking "I am a sum of objects, experiences, emotions, and thoughts".

Edit: if you want to turn this discussion into a farce, feel free to continue, but I will definitely drop out before we've reached the point of total vapidity.

Edit 2: yes, it's beyond words.  Do you honestly believe that any single concept in your mind can be fully and accurately communicated to another human being in such a way that the concept enters their mind exactly as it is in your mind (and stays that way) using words?  If so, I've actually been dealing with a moron.

Never one to stray from your own tradition, you've failed to understand the importance (or perhaps even the meaning) of the first paragraph.

Perhaps (only perhaps) that's because it wasn't presented very well at all. I can't be blamed for not liking what i took to be a bad argument. I can't get inside your head, I can only gauge your thoughts from what you write. You wrote that consciousness necessarily exists before physical brains - because it recognises itself as existing before physical brains, which is a bad argument, for whatever consciousness 'recognises' is not true. Anyway, that is how i perceived it, let's move on as these issues cover what you were getting at I think:

There can be no enquiry without consciousness - consciousness must be the first thing into which we enquire.  How can we enquire into consciousness?  It is not a measurable, but an experiential phenomenon; empirical science cannot account for it, being the measurer of things, not the qualifier of them.  Experience of consciousness is what is required, but what exactly does this mean?

I agree with this. But then isn't the problem revealed in its true light as an epistemological problem and not a 'metaphysical' one? Do you think you get a metaphysical conclusion like 'consciousness must exist before physical brains' from the above considerations?

I agree that there are significant issues related to scientifically investigating consciousness, for the reasons you give here. it seems to be that this gives no support to the conclusion that consciousness does not emerge from physical brains, however (other considerations might). This supports the conclusion that it is troubling how something first person can be fully explained in terms of propositions relating to third person entities (which is an epistemological issue).

IF experience ACTUALLY DID emerge from third person entities (neurons), I can imagine that we would still not be satisfied with complete third person explanations for some qualitative experience. We would feel something has been left out. I think this is epistemological. A sophisticated computer cognitive system, IF it were conscious, would think the same thing.

...there is absolutely no difference between the consciousness of a person at one moment to the next, nor between that of one entity and that of another, though the experiences may differ greatly...

What about the glaring fact that 'my' consciousness is, in some very important and no doubt significant sense, correlated with my brain, and that your consciousness is connected with your brain?! Why not vice versa, if consciousness is undifferentiated?

Also, there is a big difference between (a) the consciousness of a person who has a normal functioning brain and (b) the consciousness of a person who has been shot in the head?

There is very glaring set of relations that non-physicalists need to deal with. The relation between consciousness and physical brains. You are not a physicalist but you say you are a monist. I don't understand this. So do you think we need to add consciousness to the fundamental constituents of reality along with quarks, strings, or whatever? If so, we need detailed laws on why the 'fundamental consciousness-stuff' DEPENDS on physical brains in a way which seems to mirror how water DEPENDS on its constituent parts.

Water DEPENDS on a certain organisation of molecules (let us please not get into the universals debate again - grant me 'depends' in whatever weak sense you want). Consciousness, everyone would admit, seems to DEPEND on physical brains in a similar way. Consciousness depends on physical brains (1) existing and (2) being in a certain (healthy, normal) state. Why?

I am very interested in these two points. I am not closed minded, obviously I have much invested in my outlook as you, but I genuinely feel nothing has addressed these points (however we are slowly moving forward, as I can increasingly get a picture on what important points we differ, which is useful for knowledge in general).

Please forgive my pre-empting here, just in case you take this line. I'm not much for accounts of telepathy, after death experiences and the like as examples of consciousness not depending on physical brains (call me dogmatic).

Why is it that my toaster, which functions by means of an electrical current, not conscious; but when there is an electrical current that interacts with neurons, that translates to consciousness experience? Why are brains the only type of matter that can produce consciousness? What kind of interface exists that translates an electrical impulse or surge of serotonin in our neurons into a conscious thought or feeling? How does one will a thought into being? I really doubt neuroscience will ever be able to fully solve the mind body problem.

Why is it that my toaster, which functions by means of an electrical current, not conscious; but when there is an electrical current that interacts with neurons, that translates to consciousness experience? Why are brains the only type of matter that can produce consciousness? What kind of interface exists that translates an electrical impulse or surge of serotonin in our neurons into a conscious thought or feeling? How does one will a thought into being? I really doubt neuroscience will ever be able to fully solve the mind body problem.

Sure. I am sympathetic to this general concern. I share it to some degree. However I bear in mind two points.

1. People probably thought the same about many biological phenomena. Even if they didn't the point is that things that were once inaccessible to 'mechanistic' knowledge become accessible. Imagine someone 'mechanistically' inclined, who didn't accept explanations in terms of the sun's agency, wondering how the sun worked 4000 years ago? Consider the gap between people wondering about the features of animals 2000 years ago and modern molecuar genetics. They would think molecular biology unfathomable, mystical, and downright impossible.
2. The incapability of science to explain experience in a way we find satisfactory might be a purely epistemological issue, not a metaphysical one, as described in my last post.

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1. People probably thought the same about many biological phenomena. Even if they didn't the point is that things that were once inaccessible to 'mechanistic' knowledge become accessible. Imagine someone 'mechanistically' inclined, who didn't accept explanations in terms of the sun's agency, wondering how the sun worked 4000 years ago? Consider the gap between people wondering about the features of animals 2000 years ago and modern molecuar genetics. They would think molecular biology unfathomable, mystical, and downright impossible.
The problem is that the fusion in the sun and the replication of cells exist in the 'external' world, ie we can observe them. Consciousness, by its very nature, is unobservable in and of itself. (unless, of course, you believe in telepathy ;) )


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2. The incapability of science to explain experience in a way we find satisfactory might be a purely epistemological issue, not a metaphysical one, as described in my last post.
I don't think I understand. How could the examination of being itself not be metaphysical?

EDIT: Ok, I get what you're saying. There's no reason to ascribe "magical" properties to something just because it cannot be explained. I agree. My reason for believing in the possibility of the 'immateriality' of consciousness is really just an intuition or feeling; it is ingrained into the way I look at the world. Cargest did a commendable job of arguing this viewpoint but it's clear he did not change your mind, as such I doubt any combination of words I could come up with will change your mind either.

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1. People probably thought the same about many biological phenomena. Even if they didn't the point is that things that were once inaccessible to 'mechanistic' knowledge become accessible. Imagine someone 'mechanistically' inclined, who didn't accept explanations in terms of the sun's agency, wondering how the sun worked 4000 years ago? Consider the gap between people wondering about the features of animals 2000 years ago and modern molecuar genetics. They would think molecular biology unfathomable, mystical, and downright impossible.
The problem is that the fusion in the sun and the replication of cells exist in the 'external' world, ie we can observe them. Consciousness, by its very nature, is unobservable in and of itself. (unless, of course, you believe in telepathy ;) )


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2. The incapability of science to explain experience in a way we find satisfactory might be a purely epistemological issue, not a metaphysical one, as described in my last post.
I don't think I understand. How could the examination of being itself not be metaphysical?

EDIT: Ok, I get what you're saying. There's no reason to ascribe "magical" properties to something just because it cannot be explained. I agree. My reason for believing in the possibility of the 'immateriality' of consciousness is really just an intuition or feeling; it is ingrained into the way I look at the world. Cargest did a commendable job of arguing this viewpoint but it's clear he did not change your mind, as such I doubt any combination of words I could come up with will change your mind either.

If these combinations of words constituted good reasons they would change my mind :). Cargest has encouraged me to consider consciousness as non-physical due to its 1st person ontology, while physical entities have a third person ontology. This is fitting.

I have speculated that there is evidence to indicate that consciousness emerges from 3rd person entities, the way something new (water) emerges from 3rd person entities. This evidence relates to the two points I raised at the end of my last post to him: I have encouraged him to consider consciousness as physical due its close correlation to particular structures of physical entities.

I am trying to be as impersonal and objective as possible. I find it unreasonable/unjustified to take consciousness as non-physical until it can be explained why consciousness behaves as if it emerges from something physical. Why does it depend so heavily upon the (1) existence of a physical structure (the brain) and (2) it's particular state?  I have, somewhat, been asking these two questions from the start, but our dialectic (which is occasionally narky) is helping us narrow the questions down.

for whatever consciousness 'recognises' is not true.

This is idiocy.  There can be no truth if it is not recognised by consciousness.  There can be nothing without consciousness.  Try to imagine something without there being consciousness!  Consciousness is a prerequisite for all existence, not just material existence; consciousness is the essence of existence.

You will not fully grapple with these words; you will be incapable of internalising their meaning, because you lack the experience(s) necessary to identify with what is being said.  This is what I meant by my second edition.

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I agree with this. But then isn't the problem revealed in its true light as an epistemological problem and not a 'metaphysical' one?

"I don't believe in the metaphysical, so let's scratch out an entire realm of human enquiry".  Do you even understand what my paragraph means?  What can be known has nothing to do with the experience of consciousness.  To bring epistemology in at this point is premature - we don't even know what it is that knows, yet!  To consider this to be a problem of knowledge and not experience is to ignore the identity of the knower and proceed straight to the identities of the known, which categorically misses the point.

Perhaps your disregard for metaphysics can be explained by your ineptitude in understanding its purpose.

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Do you think you get a metaphysical conclusion like 'consciousness must exist before physical brains' from the above considerations?

Ultimately, yes.

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I agree that there are significant issues related to scientifically investigating consciousness, for the reasons you give here. it seems to be that this gives no support to the conclusion that consciousness does not emerge from physical brains, however (other considerations might). This supports the conclusion that it is troubling how something first person can be fully explained in terms of propositions relating to third person entities (which is an epistemological issue).

IF experience ACTUALLY DID emerge from third person entities (neurons), I can imagine that we would still not be satisfied with complete third person explanations for some qualitative experience.

It's highly likely that experience does "emerge" from neurons, if you want to look at it from that direction - this says nothing about consciousness.  Consciousness exists before any experience - consciousness can exist before any neurons.

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What about the glaring fact that 'my' consciousness is, in some very important and no doubt significant sense, correlated with my brain, and that your consciousness is connected with your brain?! Why not vice versa, if consciousness is undifferentiated?

Consciousness is aware of our individual experiences - this doesn't require that it be divisible.

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Also, there is a big difference between (a) the consciousness of a person who has a normal functioning brain and (b) the consciousness of a person who has been shot in the head?

As above, no difference.  There is a difference in the form of the experience, but its essence remains the same.

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There is very glaring set of relations that non-physicalists need to deal with. The relation between consciousness and physical brains. You are not a physicalist but you say you are a monist. I don't understand this. So do you think we need to add consciousness to the fundamental constituents of reality along with quarks, strings, or whatever?

Consciousness is the monad - infinite, indefinite, indivisible, unitary, perfect, all-inclusive.

I believe the rest of your post has already been answered by the above.

Ah! Firstly, and foremost, notice that you did not address my points about the seeminly close correlation between consciousness and physical brains! I am saddened, as I was really interested in this.

This:

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Consciousness is aware of our individual experiences - this doesn't require that it be divisible.

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Please provide one shred of evidence and/or reasoning for this massive, and foundational claim.

(I can easily imagine a universe without animals, and hence (for me) without consciousness!?!)

What is it that is aware of that imagination?  What is aware of that universe?

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Please provide evidence and/or reasoning for the claim that "Consciousness exists before any experience - consciousness can exist before any neurons". You still haven't  :)

It's a necessity - before there can be any experience, there must be consciousness.  If experience is translated to neuronal activity, then there is consciousness before neurons.

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I'm glad we're agreed on the idea that experience 'emerges' from neurons.

At another level, experience informs the patterns of neurons firing.  These are equally viable ways of looking at the world, though to favour one over the other is to (again) miss the point.  I said that you could look at it in the way that experience "emerges" from neurons, but you could look at it in the way that the patterns neurons will express are "informed" by experience.

Edit: do you now understand the difference between experience and consciousness?  The former overlays the latter; the latter underlies the former.  The former is ephemeral, the latter constant; the former is finite, the latter infinite.

OK. This is good and we have perhaps narrowed down the fundamental difference between our positions.

It seems to me that your justification for claiming that consciousness comes before anything material is something like the following:

We can't be aware of anything physical without consciousness. Consciousness is therefore prior to anything physical.

This argument is not one that has deductive force and that requires any rational person to accept it. It only appeals to people already in your paradigm who already believe consciousness comes before the physical. So in other words it begs the question. It is not a good argument. You might be happy with this but i'm not.

If your a physicalist, you think experience only arrived on the scene after animals with a certain complexity evolved, so of course you're not going to think consciousness is a precondition for material existence! You're going to think your argument is purely epistemological and not metaphysical in the slightest, and you would be rationally justified in holding this.

Please read the above re: differences between consciousness and experience.  This is entry level stuff.

Please read the above re: differences between consciousness and experience.  This is entry level stuff.

I don't know what you mean, sorry. Can you expand?