« Sartre's view of consciousness makes a lot of sense | Main | Freedom is what bugs me about Sartre. I don't believe in free will. »

August 11, 2023


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“As mentioned before, consciousness is central to Sartre's project. It should be, since without consciousness, there is no world, and no us.”
“Even though Sartre says that consciousness always is consciousness of something, we humans can make nothingness into something. A lack, an absence, becomes something noticed.”

Interesting statements; is the first statement saying that we create the world? In one sense that is true, true in that our brains have been shown to shape reality into a world that we are able to navigate solely to enable survival.

And yes, consciousness is always conscious of something, conscious of its contents – even if those contents are just thoughts and images. Extreme cases from prisoners who had spent long periods in solitary confinement with minimum stimulation; they described the imaginary worlds they created. So, where there is a brain, there are images to be conscious of – even imaginary ones. ‘Making nothingness into something’ – some meditation practitioners may be susceptible to this trap.

It often seems to me that consciousness falls into the same vague category as the mind and self concepts; in fact, the totality of all our cognitive faculties (memory, perception, thought, etc.) all of which are crucial components to our conscious experiences of the world and ourselves. In fact, just to confuse matters, the cognitive faculties are often said to be the faculties of the human mind and the mind is often said to be the seat of consciousness.

Surely this needs sorting out. The simple answer is that all the cognitive faculties, including mind and consciousness are manifestations of the brain/body organism. Mind, as far as I understand is simply our accrued information and experiences that are disgorged as and when needed.

One could say the same for awareness, awareness being a function that involves the senses, that is the entire body that finds expression finally through the brain. Or is awareness more fundamental – perhaps as Nisargaddata puts it: -

“Awareness is primordial; it is the original state, beginningless, endless, uncaused, unsupported, without parts, without change. Consciousness is on contact, a reflection against a surface, a state of duality. There can be no consciousness without awareness, but there can be awareness without consciousness, as in deep sleep. Awareness is absolute, consciousness is relative to its content; consciousness is always of something. Consciousness is partial and changeful, awareness is total, changeless, calm and silent. And it is the common matrix of every experience.”

Yes, we DO have free will. If we didn’t we should all just drink the kool aid and be done with it.

Nothing is more disempowering than the belief that there is no such thing as free will.

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