The Great Unknown is Me - Myself

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Nick_A
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The Great Unknown is Me - Myself

Post by Nick_A » Sun Oct 08, 2017 11:31 pm

We discuss ideas relating to religion and philosophy as if we really know ourselves. Socrates advises us to “know thyself” and we believe we already do. But do we?

I want this thread to discuss the questions and ideas being offered in this discussion between Richard Whittaker and Jacob Needleman from Parabola Magazine.We’ll take one section at a time beginning with Kant and then move on to Descartes.

https://parabola.org/2016/03/04/the-gre ... needleman/
RICHARD WHITTAKER: I thought that, since you’re a teacher of philosophy, I could ask you to talk a little about the unknown in terms of the Western philosophical tradition.
JACOB NEEDLEMAN: I should start by saying, only half-jokingly, that philosophers don’t do answers. We do questions. We deal with discovering and deepening our sense of something that is unknown. But in the spirit of your question and—as an academic thing, and in a good way—when I hear this phrase “the unknown” I think first of all of Immanuel Kant, probably the greatest modern philosopher. He defined something essential about the modern era in the Western world through an extraordinary book called The Critique of Pure Reason. This is a vast, complex work of genius; it’s like walking into a great cathedral because of the immensity of it and the depth of thought and understanding in it. To put it briefly, he argued with unsurpassed persuasive power that the structure of the mind shapes our reality; that there are categories by which the mind operates and organizes the data that comes to us through our senses. It organizes all that data automatically beneath the level of consciousness so that by the time that we actually have a perception of that flower or that object, it has already been organized by the categories through which the mind works. All our experience is shaped by passing through these modifying functions. So we can never really know things as they are independent of our perception of them. He gave two roughly similar names to this unknown. One is “things-in-themselves” and the other word is the noumenon (meaning “that which can be apprehended only by a higher power of direct knowing, which in fact we do not have”). We’re forever barred forever from knowing reality as it is in itself.. Whatever certainty about the world that we seem to have—such as the law of causality—is simply a certainty that the mind irresistibly imposes on our perception. He demonstrated this with such force and such genius, it astonished the whole intellectual world. For many people it was –and still is– a shattering realization to think that humanity is never going to know reality as it is. Some people fell into despair.
RW: I think of “the death of metaphysics” as being connected with Kant.
JN: Yes—metaphysics considered as the knowledge of reality independent of our perception, the universe as it really is. As Kant put it, metaphysics used to be the queen of the sciences and now it no longer has that status. He was trying to account for the fact that there is certainty. But it’s only the certainty that we put into the world, not certainty about the world as it is in itself. So this had a huge influence on the modern era. Many people have argued with it, but nobody has ever really overcome the influence that this man has had.
Is the mind the source of what allows for human perception or is mind a lesser conscious level of an ineffable conscious source?

[/quote]He gave two roughly similar names to this unknown. One is “things-in-themselves” and the other word is the noumenon (meaning “that which can be apprehended only by a higher power of direct knowing, which in fact we do not have”)[/quote]

Could Man ever consciously evolve so as to experience direct knowing both in the intellect and in our feelings? Could we ever know ourselves sufficiently to know why we don’t experience direct knowing so as to be able to make it possible?

seeds
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Re: The Great Unknown is Me - Myself

Post by seeds » Mon Oct 09, 2017 1:37 am

Nick_A wrote:
Sun Oct 08, 2017 11:31 pm
Is the mind the source of what allows for human perception...
Yes.
Nick_A wrote:
Sun Oct 08, 2017 11:31 pm
...or is mind a lesser conscious level of an ineffable conscious source?
Again, yes.

Any and all forms of mind that are held within the corporeal bounds of the universe exist as a lesser conscious level of an ineffable conscious source.
Nick_A wrote:
Sun Oct 08, 2017 11:31 pm
Jacob Needleman wrote: He gave two roughly similar names to this unknown. One is “things-in-themselves” and the other word is the
noumenon (meaning “that which can be apprehended only by a higher power of direct knowing, which in fact we do not have”)
Could Man ever consciously evolve so as to experience direct knowing both in the intellect and in our feelings? Could we ever know ourselves sufficiently to know why we don’t experience direct knowing so as to be able to make it possible?
It kind of depends on what affect it would have on humans.

In other words, would a direct knowing of the so-called “things-in-themselves,” or the “noumenon,” or more to the point, - the ultimate truth of reality, be helpful or hurtful to humans?

Humans would love to know the ultimate truth of reality, but they never seem to consider the possible consequences of such knowledge.
_______

Dubious
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Re: The Great Unknown is Me - Myself

Post by Dubious » Mon Oct 09, 2017 4:59 am

seeds wrote:
Mon Oct 09, 2017 1:37 am
Nick_A wrote:
Sun Oct 08, 2017 11:31 pm
Is the mind the source of what allows for human perception...
Yes.
Nick_A wrote:
Sun Oct 08, 2017 11:31 pm
...or is mind a lesser conscious level of an ineffable conscious source?
Again, yes.

Any and all forms of mind that are held within the corporeal bounds of the universe exist as a lesser conscious level of an ineffable conscious source.
Nick_A wrote:
Sun Oct 08, 2017 11:31 pm
Jacob Needleman wrote: He gave two roughly similar names to this unknown. One is “things-in-themselves” and the other word is the
noumenon (meaning “that which can be apprehended only by a higher power of direct knowing, which in fact we do not have”)
Could Man ever consciously evolve so as to experience direct knowing both in the intellect and in our feelings? Could we ever know ourselves sufficiently to know why we don’t experience direct knowing so as to be able to make it possible?
It kind of depends on what affect it would have on humans.

In other words, would a direct knowing of the so-called “things-in-themselves,” or the “noumenon,” or more to the point, - the ultimate truth of reality, be helpful or hurtful to humans?

Humans would love to know the ultimate truth of reality, but they never seem to consider the possible consequences of such knowledge.
_______
Indeed! This is just another instance of being careful what you wish for.

It would be wise to recall what happened the first time we got kicked out from the The Garden of Eden, metaphorically speaking. The noumenon may itself be nothing more than a container for all that exists. It could be what "Ultimate Reality" as the default of all other realities amounts to; in essence, quite contrary to any divine revelation we assume would be its consequence in knowing.

By this paradigm, the noumenon may be tantamount in having to accept that NOTHING is ALL which nature concedes of ultimate reality! If that, or something like it, were the case, reality becomes thoroughly definitional subsumed by the entire range of interpretation available to us rather than that which leads to an apotheosis of some divine intention not yet discovered.

Just because philosophy demands that kind of revelation doesn't mean there is one.

Dontaskme
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Re: The Great Unknown is Me - Myself

Post by Dontaskme » Mon Oct 09, 2017 10:42 am

Nick_A wrote:
Sun Oct 08, 2017 11:31 pm

Is the mind the source of what allows for human perception or is mind a lesser conscious level of an ineffable conscious source?
Nick_A wrote:
Sun Oct 08, 2017 11:31 pm
He gave two roughly similar names to this unknown. One is “things-in-themselves” and the other word is the noumenon (meaning “that which can be apprehended only by a higher power of direct knowing, which in fact we do not have”)

Could Man ever consciously evolve so as to experience direct knowing both in the intellect and in our feelings? Could we ever know ourselves sufficiently to know why we don’t experience direct knowing so as to be able to make it possible?
Hi Nick, thanks for the great thread starter.
There is here a 'direct knowing' of source aka 'Real Self' available only when the sense of 'separate self' falls away, and until that sense of 'separate self' dissolves completely, any 'direct knowing' is temporarily unavailable, but that's not to say it is never not available.

I'll start by saying ...

It seems there are two of us here competing for the same space/position. The one and the other...albeit illusory. :wink:

It seems that what we only believe ''we are'' is forever in conflict with the truth of what ''we really are'' ...It appears there is a contradictive notion that there is ''me'' and ''other'' In that there is a person ''in here'' being ''me'' and another person ''out there'' separate from the ''me'' in here. This notion is obviously set up from the start to cause conflict or the idea of separation simply because separation doesn't exist in reality except as a conceived idea.

In my opinion, it is that contradiction that is the cause of what appears to be an uncomfortable contracted sense of separation the effect of self-awareness which in turn causes us to seek the source of that self-awareness in the attempt to diffuse the contraction. We do this because separation is very painful, it's not natural, neither is it normal. But, for what ever reason, life has evolved that sensation of separation in the human dynamic. If you would like to personally elaborate on those ideas I've put forth, with some of your own, then go ahead.

But what I've realised Nick,

.... is that until awareness awakens to itself, until ''I-awareness'' realises it's true nature, there's two-way misidentification where awareness misidentifies as the ''me'' which is the mind-created-sense-of-identity which believes it is a separate self, and then mind misidentifies as ''awareness'' as the ground of all Being, and believes it is Self-aware.
Neither of which is so, as awareness is not a separate Self, and mind is not Self-aware.
This is really deep hard-core realisation Nick?

.

Dontaskme
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Re: The Great Unknown is Me - Myself

Post by Dontaskme » Mon Oct 09, 2017 11:20 am

seeds wrote:
Mon Oct 09, 2017 1:37 am

Humans would love to know the ultimate truth of reality, but they never seem to consider the possible consequences of such knowledge.
_______
While it's true that being kicked out of the pure place of innocent Not-Knowingness...as the Garden of Eden depicts is painful. As knowledge of our self becomes known as ''other''....The opposite can be equally painful in that the realisation of there never being a separate ''me'' in the first place dawns.

.

This dawning, there never was a separate ''me'' can appear to be like death to that ''me'', which is very frightening. But for ''real knowers'', often known as mystics, it's very liberating and blissful, it's known as dying while you are alive. But this new knowledge is not for the faint of heart, but the true heart will know it to be the peace that passes all understanding, the place of ever lasting Nirvana and Unconditional Love.

.

Image

This image depicts that it is you and you alone who is driving the nails into your own being, while it the spirit sustains you through all your self inflicted anguish and despair of separation from source.

.

Londoner
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Re: The Great Unknown is Me - Myself

Post by Londoner » Mon Oct 09, 2017 2:11 pm

Nick_A wrote:
Sun Oct 08, 2017 11:31 pm
Could Man ever consciously evolve so as to experience direct knowing both in the intellect and in our feelings?
No, because (assuming by 'feelings' you mean 'via perception') the two are contradictory.

I can directly know abstractions, like numbers or triangles, because they do not have any existence outside my own head. Whereas I cannot know objects in the same way, because if I think of them as objects then I am thinking of them as being distinct from me, they are 'for-me'.
Could we ever know ourselves sufficiently to know why we don’t experience direct knowing so as to be able to make it possible?
We can be aware of the ways in which our mind organise perceptions. Since we are aware, we can understand that the way we organise them is not a feature of the objects themselves. For example, I know that in order to make sense of perceptions I need the notion of time. But I can also understand that time isn't a property of objects.

But this cannot translate into 'direct knowing'. As I write above, to 'know' necessarily involves two things; the knower and the thing that is known. To ask if we can ever 'know directly' is like asking if we can understand 'left' separately from 'right'. The reason we can't is not because we have an insufficiently developed consciousness, but because the project is incoherent.

seeds
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Re: The Great Unknown is Me - Myself

Post by seeds » Mon Oct 09, 2017 3:06 pm

seeds wrote: Humans would love to know the ultimate truth of reality, but they never seem to consider the possible consequences of such knowledge.
Dubious wrote:
Mon Oct 09, 2017 4:59 am
Indeed! This is just another instance of being careful what you wish for.
It should come as no surprise that you and I have a diametrically opposed interpretation of what my quoted statement represents.
Dubious wrote:
Mon Oct 09, 2017 4:59 am
It would be wise to recall what happened the first time we got kicked out from the The Garden of Eden, metaphorically speaking. The noumenon may itself be nothing more than a container for all that exists.
Nah, infinity is the container for all that exists.

Furthermore, I suggest that Kant’s use of the term “noumena” (long before humans had any knowledge of the quantum realm) was merely his extremely intuitive way of visualizing and naming the invisible fields of energy and information that underpin “phenomena.”
Dubious wrote:
Mon Oct 09, 2017 4:59 am
It could be what "Ultimate Reality" as the default of all other realities amounts to; in essence, quite contrary to any divine revelation we assume would be its consequence in knowing.
Or, it could be that “Ultimate Reality” is so amazing that any direct and irrefutable knowledge of it would cause humans to long for it and seek it out prematurely.
Dubious wrote:
Mon Oct 09, 2017 4:59 am
By this paradigm, the noumenon may be tantamount in having to accept that NOTHING is ALL which nature concedes of ultimate reality!
I understand what you’re getting at, but I highly doubt that “NOTHING” is what Kant had in mind when referring to the “noumenal” aspect of a “phenomenon” or that of the “thing-in-itself.”
Dubious wrote:
Mon Oct 09, 2017 4:59 am
If that, or something like it, were the case, reality becomes thoroughly definitional subsumed by the entire range of interpretation available to us rather than that which leads to an apotheosis of some divine intention not yet discovered.

Just because philosophy demands that kind of revelation doesn't mean there is one.
Philosophy doesn’t demand anything other than an open mind as one pursues truth and wisdom.
_______

seeds
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Re: The Great Unknown is Me - Myself

Post by seeds » Mon Oct 09, 2017 3:07 pm

seeds wrote: Humans would love to know the ultimate truth of reality, but they never seem to consider the possible consequences of such knowledge.
Dontaskme wrote:
Mon Oct 09, 2017 11:20 am
While it's true that being kicked out of the pure place of innocent Not-Knowingness...as the Garden of Eden depicts is painful. As knowledge of our self becomes known as ''other''....The opposite can be equally painful in that the realisation of there never being a separate ''me'' in the first place dawns.
The whole idea of humans being “kicked out” of the Garden of Eden is simply a mythological representation of our transition from the “ignorance is bliss” level of animal (ape) consciousness into the higher level of human consciousness – thus establishing us as the family members (and siblings) of the “ultimate species” of being...
the Bible wrote: ...And the Lord God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us...
Dontaskme wrote:
Mon Oct 09, 2017 11:20 am
This dawning, there never was a separate ''me'' can appear to be like death to that ''me'', which is very frightening. But for ''real knowers'', often known as mystics, it's very liberating and blissful, it's known as dying while you are alive. But this new knowledge is not for the faint of heart, but the true heart will know it to be the peace that passes all understanding, the place of ever lasting Nirvana and Unconditional Love.
Dam, describe for me - in precise detail - what it is that experiences “ever lasting Nirvana and Unconditional Love.”

In other words (and without using impossible to visualize terms), in what form and context can a non-separate you or a non-separate me experience the feeling of love, or any other qualia or sensation?
_______

Nick_A
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Re: The Great Unknown is Me - Myself

Post by Nick_A » Mon Oct 09, 2017 3:43 pm

It seems to me that we agree that noumenon is reality but our (the great unknown) relationship to it is open to debate. What Plato referred to as the greater reality above the divided line could be true but our senses limit us to the experience of its devolution into phenomenon below the divided line.

A lot of room for discussion here that perhaps we can do after we’ve experienced the hypothesis of the Needleman discussion. Are we farever doomed to be a great unknown or can we become known? Can we experience what we ARE? So continuing from the link:

RW: I’m not surprised you went directly to Kant. Let’s go back to Descartes. If we can talk about the unknown, we can also talk a little about the known. And that brings us to Descartes who asked himself, “Is there anything I can know with real certainty?”

JN: Yes. What can I be certain of? It was an impulse of wishing to know the truth for oneself and not depending on belief. It was, in a way, the birth of the modern scientific era. So he decided to make an experiment. He would suspend belief in anything that he could possibly doubt. There were the things that any normal thinker might have some doubt about, and then things that always seem so believable that you never question them. But could one conceivably be mistaken—like is that flower really yellow? Or am I really sitting at this table? Conceivably I could be dreaming that I’m sitting at this table. Anything that could conceivably be not true he was going to bracket out, including even obvious mathematical statements, two and two is four. There could be some demon that’s putting it in my mind that this is true. It sounds absurd, but it’s conceivable. So it’s the method of doubt. What he came to was that no matter what I doubt, it is experientially and logically undeniably certain that I am doubting it. Thus the famous formula: I think, therefore I am. So he established that certainty, to some a seemingly very thin piece of certainty, to be sure, but now for Descartes there was the experiential taste of certainty.
Is there anything you can say for sure that you know? Are we capable of “certainty”?

surreptitious57
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Re: The Great Unknown is Me - Myself

Post by surreptitious57 » Mon Oct 09, 2017 7:14 pm

Nic wrote:
Is there anything you can say for sure that you know
I know that I exist and I know that there is an external world that exists too which is mind independent
I say mind independent since I have no real control over it which I would have if it was mind dependent

Nick_A
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Re: The Great Unknown is Me - Myself

Post by Nick_A » Mon Oct 09, 2017 8:14 pm

surreptitious57 wrote:
Mon Oct 09, 2017 7:14 pm
Nic wrote:
Is there anything you can say for sure that you know
I know that I exist and I know that there is an external world that exists too which is mind independent
I say mind independent since I have no real control over it which I would have if it was mind dependent
If Descartes is right to question how we know we exist? Perhaps you are just experiencing a select flow of conditioned reactions that calls itself I. Descartes is really asking a profound question. What do I know for certain? Maybe i am the great unknown.

Dubious
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Re: The Great Unknown is Me - Myself

Post by Dubious » Mon Oct 09, 2017 9:29 pm

seeds wrote:
Mon Oct 09, 2017 3:06 pm
Humans would love to know the ultimate truth of reality, but they never seem to consider the possible consequences of such knowledge.
Dubious wrote:
Mon Oct 09, 2017 4:59 am
Indeed! This is just another instance of being careful what you wish for.
It should come as no surprise that you and I have a diametrically opposed interpretation of what my quoted statement represents.
In that case, you should have phrased it a little differently because that’s what it seems to imply. It still doesn’t negate the injunction to be be careful since no one can know the consequences of such knowledge or even how important it would be.

seeds wrote:
Mon Oct 09, 2017 3:06 pm
Dubious wrote:
Mon Oct 09, 2017 4:59 am
It would be wise to recall what happened the first time we got kicked out from the The Garden of Eden, metaphorically speaking. The noumenon may itself be nothing more than a container for all that exists.
Nah, infinity is the container for all that exists.
Who knows and is it even possible to know!
seeds wrote:
Mon Oct 09, 2017 3:06 pm
Furthermore, I suggest that Kant’s use of the term “noumena” (long before humans had any knowledge of the quantum realm) was merely his extremely intuitive way of visualizing and naming the invisible fields of energy and information that underpin “phenomena.”
Dubious wrote:
Mon Oct 09, 2017 4:59 am
It could be what "Ultimate Reality" as the default of all other realities amounts to; in essence, quite contrary to any divine revelation we assume would be its consequence in knowing.
Or, it could be that “Ultimate Reality” is so amazing that any direct and irrefutable knowledge of it would cause humans to long for it and seek it out prematurely.
This is more of a religious view than a philosophical one where some supposed knowledge of Ultimate Reality offers humans the perpetually craved anodyne of salvation. The way things are going we will be defeated by reality long before we reach any “irrefutable knowledge” of Ultimate Reality…if there is such a thing.
seeds wrote:
Mon Oct 09, 2017 3:06 pm
Dubious wrote:
Mon Oct 09, 2017 4:59 am
By this paradigm, the noumenon may be tantamount in having to accept that NOTHING is ALL which nature concedes of ultimate reality!
I understand what you’re getting at, but I highly doubt that “NOTHING” is what Kant had in mind when referring to the “noumenal” aspect of a “phenomenon” or that of the “thing-in-itself.”
The noumenon can also be referred to as the object, itself inaccessible to experience, to which a phenomenon is referred for the basis or cause of its sense content. It doesn’t have to collude precisely with Kant’s definition.
seeds wrote:
Mon Oct 09, 2017 3:06 pm
Dubious wrote:
Mon Oct 09, 2017 4:59 am
If that, or something like it, were the case, reality becomes thoroughly definitional subsumed by the entire range of interpretation available to us rather than that which leads to an apotheosis of some divine intention not yet discovered.

Just because philosophy demands that kind of revelation doesn't mean there is one.
Philosophy doesn’t demand anything other than an open mind as one pursues truth and wisdom.
I agree, though I would add that truth & wisdom depends on more than just philosophy!

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Harbal
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Re: The Great Unknown is Me - Myself

Post by Harbal » Mon Oct 09, 2017 10:09 pm

Nick_A wrote:
Mon Oct 09, 2017 3:43 pm
we’ve experienced the hypothesis of the Needleman
Does he make his own dresses?

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Re: The Great Unknown is Me - Myself

Post by Dalek Prime » Mon Oct 09, 2017 11:03 pm

The only thing we have is ourselves. What we don't have is answers to the reasons for it. Frankenstein's monster hounded him for those answers. Most of us don't even know the questions to ask.

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Re: The Great Unknown is Me - Myself

Post by Nick_A » Tue Oct 10, 2017 2:23 am

The next section is difficult to understand if you haven’t experienced it. Usually we are attached to what is happening during life’s experiences. We are the experience. Yet Prof. Needleman is referring to the experience that there is I which is consciously aware of experience. It is what allows us to “know thyself” I witnesses the self and continued witnessing as opposed to introspection makes us less of an unknown. Anyhow I’d be interested if anyone has experienced what Jacob Needleman describes:
RW: In your new book An Unknown World you bring up how Descartes has fallen into disfavor. And yet there is something, you write, that’s admirable about his search.

JN: I think there is. He’s been demonized as being the chief culprit in practically every problem we face, especially the environmental crisis, alienating humanity from nature and divorcing the mind from matter. But , as a young person reading about his experiment of doubting everything, I remember this action of concentrating and withdrawing my attention (he calls it bracketing) from everything that I took for granted—what I perceived, what I believed, everything external and all ideas in my mind—and concentrating my attention in that way as a means of trying to know what I was certain of. And in the process, I realized I had a specific capability of the mind, a capacity to withdraw my own attention from everything outside of myself, outside of “I,” toward myself. Now, I’ve been through a lot of exposure to great spiritual teachings, such as the sermons of Meister Eckhart, the Bhagavad Gita and many other sources. At a certain point, and in certain contexts, almost all of them speak of the work of withdrawing the attention away from what Eckhart calls “the agents of the soul,” withdrawing the attention from what the senses bring you, from what thought brings you, thereby bringing yourself back into yourself. I felt a taste of that inner work with Descartes. It was very exciting to realize that I could doubt all this. It wasn’t disillusioning at all. It was fantastically interesting! I could separate myself—in a very healthy way, I thought—from being taken, from being swallowed by thoughts, emotional images and the external world. That had a great influence on me. There was no sense of alienation from nature or the life around me—there was only a new sense of a mental, personal capacity I didn’t know I had.

RW: That brings up the idea of self-inquiry and trying to understand my own experience in this inward way.

JN: I think so. I think Descartes has been demonized for this because he did make a radical distinction between mind and matter, these two fundamental realities that, he said, have nothing in common with each other. And this generated a whole paradox. How do mind and matter interact with each other – as they obviously do every time we intentionally move? And we still have that as a paradox.

RW: Yes from the point of view of his interior investigation, maybe there’s a lot more in there that he didn’t experience or find.

JN: Maybe. In any case, once Descartes had the experience of certainty, he goes back to logical and mathematical certainty. And as for that possible demon that could trick him into being wrong even about the certainty of logic and mathematics, Descartes turns to the idea of God that he has in his mind. And he asks, what about this idea of God? God is good. God is perfect. And God, a good God, would not allow man to be deceived like that. Therefore, logic and mathematics can be trusted. At this point, of course, many philosophers sharply criticize him, accusing him of smuggling in a cheap trick. But in fact, he says, where did this idea of God come from? That couldn’t have come from this poor, fallible man. The fact that I have this idea of God is a kind of proof that God exists. In one sense, it does seem to be a piece of philosophical sleight-of-hand. On the other hand, if you look at it from the point of view of spiritual truth, it’s really an indication that there is an objective duality in life, and that, in order to harmonize it, you need a higher force, which in the end means also that you need a higher state of consciousness.

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