« Surrender to a lower power. Or equal. Not higher. | Main | God isn't happy with deeply religious Americans »

May 31, 2012


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

"Is an astronomer more sunset-enlightened than a poet? Is the author of The Self Illusion more cognizant of how the self is illusory than a Zen master? Could we ever tell? And... who cares?"

There's a profound difference between insight and information, understanding and knowing. I can't know whether someone understands, but I know when I'm substituting knowledge for what I don't understand.

cc, I'm not sure what the difference between "insight" and "information" is. When I'm informed that the Earth goes around the Sun, rather than vice versa, now I have an insight into what happens during a "sunset."

Likewise, when I'm informed that I don't have a self, I have an insight into the nature of me that I didn't have before. Without accurate information, there is no genuine insight. Unless we want to consider subjective feelings as insights.

In that case, no facts or information is required -- just Stephen Colbert's truthiness.

I believe you have confused self with Self from the Eastern perspective.

Self (with caps) is that which is the support for all things, from which everything emerges and to which everything returns. Its names are numerous; pick the one you like.

Self (w/o) caps is that little nuisance that bedevils us. It is a brain representation of a set of parallel processes that are running.

Seeing through it doesn't necessarily change the behavior of the underlying organism. It may, it may not. What is important is that there is "no one" to worry about it in either event.

"When I'm informed that the Earth goes around the Sun, rather than vice versa, now I have an insight into what happens during a "sunset."

But is it an insight if it isn't your discovery; if you haven't ascertained the truth of the matter by your own observation?


You make a good point.

The Self (a dualistic term) could be the nonknowable, non-dualistic, non-conceptual no thing.

The self would be be the mind/ego generated illusional thing. One can play their role and get to know one's self. No big deal.

I manifest by a process of dualistic polarity, by subject/object-negative/positve, by splitting of my Mind into opposites, without which the conceptual universe would not be manifest.

So, I manifest as each object which which appears to function as an independent subject (a person for example), but I alone am subjectivity and all functioning is my objectivisation in the world of appearance which is the Consciousness that I am...I who am nowhere to be found except as my appearance via duality as objects.

So, when John Lennon says something like "I am he as you are she as she is me as we are altogether. I am the Walrus..goo goo ga joob!!" he is having a very good acid trip that has enables him to bypass conceptual thought and perceive profoundly, intuitively and directly the way things really are.

If seeing "the way things really are" means bypassing conceptual thought, it's the passing of conceptual thought that makes the seeing conscious and gives it meaning.

'the self is an illusion'
Who's illusion is it?

So who says there is no self?

A human being has their own body (their self), which includes an individual brain and an individual mind.

This organism (body and mind) is both seperate and connected. It is seperate to the extent that it thinks its own thoughts and not the thoughts of others, it cannot feel the pain of another's body. It is connected to the extent that others can influence both it in an indirect sense in being able to physical and mentally influence others.

Not only does it make sense that such an individual has developed a psychological sense of self, for survival purposes, but there is a self, the actual unique physical orgamism it-self.

So when ppl say there is no I, they are arguing from an idealist perspective - that there are no things (objects or organisms) - but this is not our experience. This is a theoretical position without basis in reality. It is only experienced in altered states of consciousness, which distort reality rather than clarify it. The fella on the acid trip may sense the walls are actually melting or empty, but in reality at least at the macroperspective they are not, they are solid. At the micro-level, said matter can be thought of as mostly empty, but we do not percieve at the micro-level, we perceive at a different level, and drugs do not allow us to percieve reality at a micro-level either. Whether the blind man percieves the mountain or not, he will still bang his willy every single time.

Instead our experience is that the world is composed of things, that are interconnected and seperate, to a different degree.

John Lennon could sure write the lyrics, but by the end he was loved up in cloud cukoo-land with yoko's yoni and all things ethereal and different - let me put it this way, i aint seen any song-writing walrus', have you?

George, by "self" neuroscientists seem to mean something like the idea most people intuitively have of themselves -- that there is a "me" inside my head which stands apart from the physical goings-on in the brain and body, that "I" am some sort of detached consciousness which/who observes thoughts, emotions, actions and such.

Actually, there is no homunculus (if I've spelled that word right) inside our head/brain. If there were, that "little person" who observes the "big person" would need another little person inside its own "head." And so on, like Russian dolls nested inside each other.

So that's a bit different view of the "self" than what you seemed to be talking about. Yes, there is a distinct brain/body that I think of as "me," but neuroscience says that's all I am. No additional detached "self" that's separate from the brain/body.

thats right brian, but my point is that not only humans have a sense of self, it is a mental sense of our own body, it may not be real in a physical sense but it is a representation of the physical.

I dont really understand what the big breakthrough is: either from the neuroscientists or the eastern gurus.

A sense of self is a natural development of an organism's awareness of its own physical body, the cell has one, the jelly fish has one, the tiger has one, the ape has one and we have one. The complexity of this sense of self-awarenss seems correlated to the complexity of our physical brain.

Since we human seem to have the most complex brain, it makes sense we are also perhaps most self-aware.

"John Lennon could sure write the lyrics, but by the end he was loved up in cloud cukoo-land with yoko's yoni and all things ethereal and different - let me put it this way, i aint seen any song-writing walrus', have you?"

--George, you rely heavily on left brain functions of logic, reason, facts and figures. This is not good or bad. I am not criticizing you.

But there is a right brain function as well of feeling, intuition and direct knowing. It is this faculty that enables us to know who/what the walrus is.

fair enough tucson - i thought the walrus was a fat old bugger with tuskers who liked a bit of rumpy pumpy come springtime...

Well, the Walrus is the One we all talk about on this blog (and never get anywhere) but that doesn't preclude he/she/it from enjoying a bit of rumpy pumpy anytime!

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name is required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)


  • Welcome to the Church of the Churchless. If this is your first visit, click on "About this site--start here" in the Categories section below.
  • HinesSight
    Visit my other weblog, HinesSight, for a broader view of what's happening in the world of your Church unpastor, his wife, and dog.
  • BrianHines.com
    Take a look at my web site, which contains information about a subject of great interest to me: me.
  • Twitter with me
    Join Twitter and follow my tweets about whatever.
  • I Hate Church of the Churchless
    Can't stand this blog? Believe the guy behind it is an idiot? Rant away on our anti-site.