Sorry in advance for this wall of text
SteveKlinko wrote: ↑Wed Nov 04, 2020 1:38 pm
Dimebag wrote: ↑Tue Nov 03, 2020 10:50 pm
SteveKlinko wrote: ↑Tue Nov 03, 2020 5:08 pm
I still don't understand how your philosophy has solved the Hard Problem.
Maybe because there is no one to whom there can be a hard problem. To me that still doesn’t solve it, it just redirects it, as all questions seemingly disappear once one understands the nature of the emptiness of self.
But, maybe it might resolve the binding problem, which arises to explain why seemingly separate sensations occur together in the one unified stream. To realise there is no one to which all of these experiences are arising, seemingly negates the need to bind them together. Because awareness is essentially a field, everything occurring within that field, is already connected somehow. I’m not sure it entirely addresses the binding problem, but on some level it negates it.
Under a nondual understanding, there is no separation between the observer and the observed, no distinction between subject and object. Instead of there being a point to which a view occurs, there is just the view, and yet in the view, a sense of awareness resides, but is inseparable from it.
The mind, or perception, acts upon the undifferentiated field of sensation, identifying features, cutting up the wholeness into distinct objects, with names, shapes, etc. But seemingly in the background, this undifferentiated field of sensation connects all of these separated and coagulated features of the senses to each other. Awareness can then reach out and go into each separate part of the sensory field through the perceptual mechanisms of division.
So to sum up, the need to bind experiences together, comes from a misconception that the field of awareness is initially stitched together. The correction is, it is initially unified, and perception combined with a conceptual division, causes this unified field to be divided into its discrete parts, which when viewed from this perspective of an observer and the observed, appears that everything begins as separate, requiring to be bound.
For me, the Experiencer is a Detector and the Experiences are what it Detects. Simply saying that the Experiencer is the Experience does not get past first base. It would be like simply saying that a Thermometer is the Temperature, or that a Scale is the Weight. There is an Explanatory Gap involved with the Thermometer, the Scale, and the Experiencer. The Explanatory Gaps are of course solved for the Thermometer and the Scale. It is well known that the Thermometer is not the Temperature and the Scale is not the Weight. When you know how a Thermometer and a Scale operates then you will see that it is just Superstition (or Intellectual Laziness) to simply say that the Thermometer is the Temperature and the Scale is the Weight. Superstition always works this way until the full power of disciplined Scientific and Engineering methods are applied. It will be a difficult Mental effort to solve the Consciousness Problem. We cannot be Complacent and Lazy in our approach to this. I fully expect a Scientific Explanation for Consciousness will be discovered someday but for now there is a Huge Explanatory Gap and a Hard Problem that must be solved. I apologize for calling Oneness believers Lazy but this is how I'm seeing it right now. Come on people don't give up, let's do some Thinking. Let's get outside of all Boxes and Think new Thoughts about this.
It could be that awareness is some network or kind which reaches throughout the brain. But then it would need to bind all experiences together, stitch them together somehow.
All experiences occupy the same “space” in a matter of words.
But we do know that when you divide the brain, that certain experiences cannot occupy that one space. Whether awareness becomes divided into two separate observers is not known. But, we know that the default mode network is a required network in the sense of self. This is an integrated set of networks, incorporating much of the prefrontal cortex, certain other anterior sections on both sides of the brain. It could be that the awareness is not divided, as both anterior default mode network anterior sections share connections to the prefrontal cortex, but, they cannot share connections between anterior networks on separate hemispheres, meaning, certain functions will be hemispherically divided. Not a whole division of consciousness, but certain functions which aren’t totally there.
Getting to your problem you raised regarding the need to detect conscious experiences. I think in a certain way the prefrontal cortex might be responsible for “detecting” conscious experiences, but, what would you define as detection?
If I can perform a motor task without conscious intervention, seemingly automatically, yet no conceptual division of the process is required, the task is performed in a state of “flow” as it were, would you say there has been any detection of experiences? There has no doubt been a flow of experience, but, the information from the senses doesn’t need to pause the process at all for thought or control intervention to occur, the information of the experience seemingly drives the motor commands, in an effortless flow from perception to motor activation.
Now, when you stop to think about something, a detection has seemingly occurred, and it could be said that the need to conceptualise any part of the experience, amounts to a detection of that experience and the singling out of that experience, directing attention towards it, say for example, this cup on my coffee table.
When I direct attention towards it, seemingly the observer is also brought into existence. Whether this observer is illusory or whether it is a persistent state of the brain is debatable, and also depends on what we mean by illusion. The observer is the one who seemingly makes a detection. But the observer is connected to volitional action. I think and this is my opinion now, informed by my investigations of my own experiences and descriptions of others, how it is connected to volitional action is via the system in the brain responsible for identification, or identity. This system essentially merges the observer with a stream of experiences, and as such, gives it the sense of volitional control.
But we know the observer is connected to a conceptual overarching structure which uses thought as a means to produce novel action, on the fly problem solving, logical thought and inference, prediction based on past experiences. In some sense, the observer is a passive facilitator, serving as the space in which all these processes can take place. Yet, the observer has a sense of being much more than a space of passive resources for higher order though and planning. When plans for actions are produced by this system, the observer, which is just this passive resource, becomes owner and takes responsibility for all products of this system, even those which simply occur to it passively.
So if the observer is this space in which experiences occur, you could say it detects experiences I suppose, yet, in a sense, it doesn’t need to detect anything, as by virtue of whatever occurs in it is a detection, it’s not an active process. Whatever enters your awareness is known, by virtue of it being in your awareness.
But once again, I come back to the question. Is awareness located throughout the brain, in no particular location, or are experiences “sent” to this particular place in the brain, at which point they become aware. Or is there some in between process, a certain place in the brain uses its resources to interact with some kind of widespread network which allows perceptual experiences to be aware without needing to be “transferred” and recreated somewhere else.
I have a feeling the latter is the case, that there is some widespread network which interconnects the whole of perception, all the senses, as well as the conceptual structures, and which then connects or is also highly integrated with the default mode network, responsible for the identification and conceptualisation as well as active planning, and projecting into the future. But, this default mode network can become quiet, allowing the broader awareness network to passively collect experiences without any particular focusing or directing of behaviours. This would be a passive facilitative network of “knowing” which essentially sheds light on otherwise unconscious perceptual processes. This network would be highly integrated, and thus, allow all experiences to be tied together or woven together.
In this passive observing function, this network contains a non focussed, field of consciousness. But, there is also an internal “wandering eye” which focuses on more salient experiences, and brings them into focus, overshadowing this unified field of consciousness, collapsing and channeling the unified field of consciousness into a narrow field, focussed on one particular part of that field, which then allows that selected region to be operated on through the default mode network. This is when the observer is invoked (might be a better term, as being a network which has potential for action always, and its “default state” is to be active, and thus, most of the time, it is active and functioning), but in special cases, or in people who have engaged in meditative practices as well as self inquiry (subjective investigations into the nature of self) is quiet or at minimum, functioning in a different way.
This network of awareness can “tune in” to different layers of processing within perception. Certain layers deal only with the non specific undivided sensory field of colours and shape or form. Take vision for example. The way visual perception is formed is by progressively adding in more detail with more layers of complexity. At certain layers, shapes are singled out, and “identified” and given conceptual signifiers. Prior to that layer, the experience is an amorphous field of unspecified colour spread across different locations. At this stage, likely form is already present, for example, lines or boundaries between colour are already identified and “mapped” to specific locations. But, these boundaries of colour and form aren’t yet named, nor identified. They are unspecified.
Further down the perceptual layering system, these details or division of the perceptual field get added in, identifications or detections of specific patterns or shapes, which comprise the world of “names and forms” which eastern spiritualism references, are layered in to the perceptual field.
If awareness accesses this layer, it is already seeing discrete objects, with names, and therefore, potential thoughts arise. This layer is much easier accessed via awareness, it is “wants” to be accessed more than the prior Nonconceptual layer. Somehow, if the prior layer is to be accessed, awareness must circumvent the conceptual and pattern recognition layer, and “tune in” prior to that.
We are not used to accessing this layer consciously. But, as you sit here, try (or become more passive) to just listen to a sound without naming it, or identifying it. Allow the sound to be just sensation. Just notice the sensory component, before any specific identification or naming is present.
It is possible.
Another thing you can do is with pain. If you have a pain somewhere in your body, allow that pain to come into awareness. But just feel what that sensation is like. If your awareness can hover there, and just allow the experience of it to come to you without “holding” on to it, you can get to a point where the pain becomes just a stream of sensory fluctuations. The pain loses its “meaning” in a way.
This, I believe, is awareness accessing that prior layer of perception.
Now, imagine awareness becomes very good at this, accessing this layer of perception before anything is named and identified. It’s conceivable that this is possible. In this functioning, the default mode network will, by virtue of this, be very quiet.
This, is possibly a description of nondual awareness from the perspective of brain functioning.
It is, in a sense more basic compared to when the default mode network is functioning and working with the conceptual form based layers of perception through this pervasive network of awareness, but, as the system wants to default to the conceptual and thus, dualistic subject object mode, this mode is the basin of attraction for the brain.
Imagine you have a flat space, with a bowl imbedded within it at the lowest point. This is the operation of the brain in default mode, with concept and form identification, normal ego based subject object functioning. Now imagine this flat space has a hill, and on top of that hill, there is another bowl. That space in that higher bowl is nondual awareness.
Imagine your awareness is a ball within this space. Normally it will be in the lower bowl of the default state, ego based subject object division. But, if given enough energy and movement, the ball can find its way to the higher basin of nondual awareness. It’s a stable state as long as perturbations to the space don’t throw the ball back down to the lower basin.
That is a conceptual visualisation of the “state space” in which awareness can be in. (Look up the term state space, it’s a simplified plotting of complex systems and the potential states in which they can operate in).
Once again, this is all provisional and speculative, I’m just trying to take an understanding of both the subjective transformations of awareness and apply it to a functional picture of the brain. I have likely overlooked much, and likely have some details wrong, but, this is a synthesis not a description of already known things.