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June 11, 2009

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"Token neurophysicalism is the view that each and every mental event, each and every experience, is some physical event or other -- presumably some central-nervous-system event."

Brian, is there an example of a physical(CNS)event, within token neurophysicalism, that you could site?

Roger, what isn't a central nervous system event?

Seeing, thinking, feeling...the brain processes everything. Even when a Buddhist monk meditates, a scanner can detect signs of what the brain is doing.

This allows Flanagan to conclude, correctly, that almost certainly every human experience has a CNS correlate. This doesn't mean that experience can be reduced to physical objective mechanisms.

It just means that, so far as we know, each and every human experience has a connection with the central nervous system.

Brian,

Thanks for the reply.

Just kinda sorta confused on some of the terms in the post.

"It just means that, so far as we know, each and every human experience has a connection with the central nervous system."
---This I can understand.

however,

"This doesn't mean that experience can be reduced to physical objective mechanisms."
---What is a physical objective mechanism?

Thanks,
Roger


Roger, that term isn't terrific. Best I could come up with without a bunch of caffeine activating my brain.

What I tried to say is that a brain scanner detects objective functioning of the central nervous system. Neurons firing and all that.

The scanner can come up with those results on its own, absent a human operator.

But experience, as Flanagan said, requires an experiencer, a human (or animal) consciousness. You can be unconscious or in deep sleep and a brain scanner still will pick up neuronal activity. That's objective.

To experience something, though, you have to be aware of experiencing. So this is why experience can't be reduced to physical objective mechanisms. An experience requires the feeling of experiencing to exist.

Brian,

Thanks again,

Interesting..... I wonder, can one engage in an "experience" while in an unconscious or a state of deep sleep?

Further interesting.... How would a "feeling" of experiencing originate, to begin the initial process of experiencing to begin to exist?

I can see how one can get thrilled and fascinated with this topic.

Roger

Dear Brian and Roger,
Please forgive my intrusion. I have been reading this feed with interest.
Re your first question - can you experience while dreaming or being asleep or entirely unconscious?

If you remember your dream, certainly you are experiencing that memory. If you do not remember the dream, but you were dreaming, then something is happening neurologically, maybe even spiritually, and that also has an effect on how you interpret and experience things - just like diet, activity and environment can condition what and how you experience.

Your second question is also quite exciting - where does experience begin? This is where meditation is so very remarkable, because it allows you to separate the sensation and neurological impressions from your immediate reaction and response - you can learn to watch your own thoughts instead of blindly reacting to them. And in time you can see how they emerge, pass away, permutate - the stream of consciousness. Meditation is a tool to separate yourself, like anesthetic which allows a surgeon - in this case your own awareness - to investigate and dissect your own functioning consciousness.

Yours

Spence

Spence,

You stated,

"This is where meditation is so very remarkable, because it allows you to separate the sensation and neurological impressions from your immediate reaction and response - you can learn to watch your own thoughts instead of blindly reacting to them."

---You might want to describe, in further detail, what you mean by meditation.
---Watching my thoughts, instead of blindly reacting, sounds interesting. Again, further details, regarding how this is accomplished, would be an interesting read.

Thanks for a reply, in your own words.
Roger

β€œAre mystics justified in claiming that subjectivity is the only reality, that consciousness is the essence of the cosmos and not materiality?”

Maybe it is really just the brain, which is filtering and interpreting consciousness (mind) into our own individual reality, and in this way we understand and make sense of our experiences in the material world. We seem to be very limited by this because we all seem to hear what we want to hear, believe what we want to believe and see what we want to see. So even though it is still mysterious and can be wondrous, it can at the same time be disconcerting because we are trying to see through our own individual myths as well as the genetic evolutionary archetypes (collective consciousness) which have been passed down and are also stored in the brain to enable us to survive in this physical domain.

So we can be easily fooled by the mind and this is probably why true mystics are very rare.

Dear Roger:

Glad to oblige. I cannot promise these words are mine, because I have not invented these things. I'm a student, like you.

The best I can promise is that I am not directly copying from any particular source.

When you do any sort of meditation at all, including mere contemplation, you begin a process of psychological separation. It is very natural and happens to everyone in one way or another to a lesser degree throughout the day.

If you take a vacation and sip a pleasant drink on a porch watching the lake, you are using stimuli to draw your attention away from the issues your mind has been on, the very issues which you hope to "get away" from on your vacation.

Then when you begin to return to those issues, you do so with renewed objectivity, a better attitude and even some creative ideas. You see, after a point thinking about it did nothing to solve the problem. It got you so far and no further. You needed a break.

You had to take your conscious awareness somewhere else to get rest and return to the issue refreshed. Where did the new idea, the fresh idea come from? Somewhere in your brain? Should you take credit for it? I don't think so. Not unless you designed and created your own brain!

So much for "I".

"You" can separate your awareness from your own thinking, and to a small extent it happens for everyone every day.

Most successful people rely on it - good actors, athletes, business people, teachers and leaders do it all the time to a degree. They are watching while they are doing. You think they are watching others but they are also watching their own body, behavior and emotional reactions. They are scripting what they say and do, making course corrections of where they are putting their mind, the problems they are directing their mind to solve, to maximize their effect in the meeting, the classroom, the stage, the field. To the extent they are successful, their conclusions clearly were made with greater objectivity. But if "they" were putting their mind on this problem or that, who is the "one" above the mind doing so? Probably another level of higher brain "awareness". So they are "aware" of the problem they are working on while another part of their "awareness" is watching themselves trying to solve the problem. Interesting!

They are aware of what they are doing and calmly assessing their effectiveness, making course corrections as they go. A good actor or athlete may appear to struggle and they are struggling. But their main center of awareness is dispassionately, coldly assessing and adjusting while the body and "mind" struggle. In that way there are at least two people working together in one - the player and the observer/coach. Each of us has both and we are most effective when we can use the mind / body as the player by fully associating a significant portion of our "attention" or consciousness to the "coach / anthropologist" role.

In fact we are many. The body contains many sources of "intellect" and attention to keep it going without much of "your" conscious awareness - higher brain functioning because there is a limited amount of that "awareness".

Meditation is really an exercise to assist and further that process, like weight lifting. So, it is not something new, but capitalizes on the fact that your awareness is not a single item, but is generally divided among several tasks and thoughts. The less aware we are, the less we see all the places our thoughts are running to. But they are still running to all these things. They have to. The brain has many things to run.

In meditation you are closing out all the other stimuli and putting your full attention there in the darkness to practice this self-awareness, this observer role of your own reactions and thoughts, strengthening your ability to do this. Of coarse it is rarely dark but filled with thoughts, problems, issues. That is why in meditation there is a form of inocuous repetition. It is a self-induced stimuli, instead of external stimuli, like a vacation. Effect is much the same, if it's done right.

The more your center of attention is not "you" but the observer of "you" you can watch your mind/body/thoughts in action. And you learn a little more about how the brain / mind functions, how awareness begins and how the mind blacks out moment by moment, and you can note how you react to those things. Before you weren't aware that moment by moment you black out. Now you see it happening. You have begun to take your conscious awareness out of the drippy pool of mind and can watch your mind functioning. Of course, you are still all a part of the same system, but you see it is a system of many parts. There is not really one "you" anymore than there is only one dimension of intelligence. There are many "you"s - each a repertoire of thinking and behavior conditioned under different circumstances.

You begin to be "objective" in your "subjectivity" - a slightly more dispassionate observer of your own senses and thoughts.

Yours

Spence

Spence,

You stated,

"Glad to oblige. I cannot promise these words are mine, because I have not invented these things. I'm a student, like you."

---Well, I was hoping for a reply in "your own" words. Nothing wrong with not inventing meditation, likewise nothing wrong with being a student.

"You had to take your conscious awareness somewhere else to get rest and return to the issue refreshed. Where did the new idea, the fresh idea come from? Somewhere in your brain? Should you take credit for it? I don't think so. Not unless you designed and created your own brain!"

---I may not know where my new idea, the fresh idea came from, however, how do you know I can't take credit for it? You're just a student.

"So much for "I"."

---We are commenting in a dualistic blog, we can use an "I" if we choose.


"You" can separate your awareness from your own thinking, and to a small extent it happens for everyone every day."

---I would agree that one can embrace non-dual-ism and engage in dualistic activity, every day.


"In meditation you are closing out all the other stimuli and putting your full attention there in the darkness to practice this self-awareness, this observer role of your own reactions and thoughts, strengthening your ability to do this. Of coarse it is rarely dark but filled with thoughts, problems, issues. That is why in meditation there is a form of inocuous repetition. It is a self-induced stimuli, instead of external stimuli, like a vacation. Effect is much the same, if it's done right.

---Can this be done without meditation? However, I can see how the word "meditation" can be defined in many ways.


"The more your center of attention is not "you" but the observer of "you" you can watch your mind/body/thoughts in action. And you learn a little more about how the brain / mind functions, how awareness begins and how the mind blacks out moment by moment, and you can note how you react to those things. Before you weren't aware that moment by moment you black out."

---How the mind blacks out, moment to moment, is a new use of words for me. Spence, as a student, how do you know (directly) of these "black out" experiences?
---Again, nothing wrong with being a student, however, who is your teacher?
---Is your comment, the product of what you were taught, by a teacher?

Thanks for your continued responses,
Roger

Dear Roger:

Thanks for your comments. The discovery that consciousness operates in beats, and that the mind blacks out in very rapid intervals comes from my background in physiological psychology. The brain processes sensory information before presenting it to active consciousness, and that processing takes time. But you don't know that. You think you are aware in real time, but you are actually watching snapshots, hearing snapshots that your brain has processed.

Having learned that as a scientific fact, I also have the opportunity to witness it in meditation. When you are consciously aware between the beats of your brain's thinking, then you see that your awareness is like a sponge. The mind is a pool with different levels. You can move the sponge up and even out. From whatever level you can place your consciousness, you can look down and see more of yourself and the world around you.

The problem of "I" has to do with believing "I" am what I associate with. "I" am a wealthy businessman. "I" am a sports car enthusiast. "I" am a male. "I" am an American. etc... "I" am none of these things. They are appendages, associations. Just like the body and the brain.

So, first there is theory and research, and then practice, so you can see it for yourself. That is the most fun! All theories are dispelled in a moment of reality.

Spencer Tepper writes:

"They are appendages, associations. Just like the body and the brain."

-- How is it that you see the body and brain as being mere "appendages"? Appendages to what? Without the brain and the body, you cannot think or say or know or do anything. So how does that undeniable fact result in the bodyn and brain being mere "appendages"? I don't see that your notion is correct.

"So, first there is theory and research, and then practice, so you can see it for yourself. [...] All theories are dispelled in a moment of reality."

-- See WHAT for yourself? And what exactly is this "moment of reality" that you mention? How does your supposed 'seeing' dispell all theories?


Spence,

Thanks again for your reply,

You stated,

"The discovery that consciousness operates in beats, and that the mind blacks out in very rapid intervals comes from my background in physiological psychology. The brain processes sensory information before presenting it to active consciousness, and that processing takes time. But you don't know that. You think you are aware in real time, but you are actually watching snapshots, hearing snapshots that your brain has processed."

---Yes, I understand the concept of Sensory Cognition, and followup with Conceptual Cognition. So, the interval, between these two cognitions is the "black out" phase?


"Having learned that as a scientific fact, I also have the opportunity to witness it in meditation."

---Could you describe, in your own words in further detail, what a particular "witness" experience was? Not what you learned as a scientific fact, but what you witnessed in your meditation.

---In non-duality, I understand, there is no "I" however, in duality, I can create an "I" for me, you and others.

Thanks for your continued interest,
Roger

George,

That sounds right to me.

I like what Brian said under another topic (Buddhism and Science): "It's a matter of balance, I'd say. Plato spoke of the good, the true, and the beautiful. I agree with him that all are necessary for a satisfying life.". It seems that the satisfaction is key in the recognition of the scientific aesthetic.

Respects,

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