The observer cannot be observed

Is the mind the same as the body? What is consciousness? Can machines have it?

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Immanuel Can
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Re: The observer cannot be observed

Post by Immanuel Can »

Dimebag wrote: Wed Oct 07, 2020 4:48 am So just to sum up, IC, you seem to feel there is some definite internal essence or subject to which experiences occur, and that accounts for the sense of a self?
Sorry, DB...I didn't see your question, because you didn't happen to use the quote feature.

Yes.

It's inescapable. One cannot say, "There was an experience, but it happened to no one."

By definition, an "experience" only exists if an experiencer has it. Otherwise, it's just an "event," or "happening," and one of no significance to anyone; so it's not an "experience."
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Re: The observer cannot be observed

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Immanuel Can wrote: Sun Oct 11, 2020 8:24 pm
Dimebag wrote: Wed Oct 07, 2020 4:48 am So just to sum up, IC, you seem to feel there is some definite internal essence or subject to which experiences occur, and that accounts for the sense of a self?
Sorry, DB...I didn't see your question, because you didn't happen to use the quote feature.

Yes.

It's inescapable. One cannot say, "There was an experience, but it happened to no one."

By definition, an "experience" only exists if an experiencer has it. Otherwise, it's just an "event," or "happening," and one of no significance to anyone; so it's not an "experience."
By definition this may be the case, and as a matter of language, it makes complete sense that it would be built around an illusionary sense of self. Before we can think about ourself, our ability to think logically is limited if not non existent.

The development of the self and the development of the critical mind go hand in hand. This says to me that language holds a crucial role in reinforcing both thought and an illusion of the ego, or the sense of being an entity inside the head controlling the body, thinking thoughts, etc.

Have you given thought to this idea, that language reinforces the illusion? We know the default mode network, the network responsible for the sense of self, is also implicated in thought, which, in humans is primarily language based.
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Re: The observer cannot be observed

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Here is a simple introspective experiment.

Perform some simple task, like picking up a cup, or something banal and easy like that.

Now, after you do that, reflect back on the experience, and see if you can remember doing it, or whether it felt like you almost disappeared?

This for me has that sense, there is a distinct sense of coming and going. That may be because I know where to look and what to look for, it could also be delusion, I don’t discount that. But it appears to me now, that when focusing on the external environment for purposes of non complicated action, the doer simply becomes observer. Immersed in experience, the self does not naturally remain in the foreground.

However, try this next.

Do the same task, but this time, pay attention to the sensory experiences of the action, for example, the feeling of your hand grasping the cup handle, the feeling of moving your arm with cup in hand towards your mouth. Notice how “present” you now feel compared to the mindless task of movement prior.

Most of the time throughout our day, there is this coming and going, without our knowledge. It goes unnoticed because while these goings are happening, essentially the mind is not recording or capturing memory in short term storage. And so there is no sense of discontinuity, until “you” return to the present foreground, where it seems as if “you” were there all along, performing actions, etc. This is illusory, this is the trick the brain pulls to make you think you are the one in control. You are merely an observer, and, an unreliable one at that. Coming and going all the time.

It’s possible thought, to reinforce this observing to remain in this observer state almost constant.
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Immanuel Can
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Re: The observer cannot be observed

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Dimebag wrote: Sun Oct 11, 2020 9:04 pm ...it makes complete sense that it would be built around an illusionary sense of self.
Well, I'd say the opposite. I'd say that if you're having an experience, there's no way that "you" are an illusion. Besides, even an "illusion" isn't a thing unless somebody is having it. So it also presupposes the reality of a "self."
Have you given thought to this idea, that language reinforces the illusion?
Whose language, and creates an illusion in whom? :shock: That expression, too, presupposes a self.

If we wish to remain skeptical about the self, we would have to invent a language that does not implicate one. So we can't reasonably talk about "illusions," or "experiences," or "belief" or even "thinking," when we're trying to argue that there's no possible "deluded one," no "experiencer," no "believer" and no "thinker."

But then, even the word "we" supposes a self, so that's going to prove very difficult.
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Re: The observer cannot be observed

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Immanuel Can wrote: Sun Oct 11, 2020 11:54 pm Whose language, and creates an illusion in whom? That expression, too, presupposes a self.
I think the word "illusion" is not really a fitting term when it comes to explaining this. Its simply conceptual knowledge and belief expressed in language, which is, of course, very different to the direct experience it attempts to describe.
All language can do is point - it is the finger pointing at the moon, but never the moon itself. It is the word "green", but never the direct experience of color/seeing.
"Illusions, selfs, minds, experiences" and all else that can be named is simply part of the world of concepts / of language.
Direct experience / reality is "something" else - or rather: its actually not a thing and as such not part of this world of concepts (And how could it be? Langauge is about things, reality is not a thing).
The only "illusion" that people fall for, is based on the belief that reality and our conceptual descriptions of reality actually touch (that they are the same), that reality is made of things, of objects and subjects ... while this is actually not the case... There is no other illusion.
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Immanuel Can
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Re: The observer cannot be observed

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AlexW wrote: Mon Oct 12, 2020 1:23 am
Immanuel Can wrote: Sun Oct 11, 2020 11:54 pm Whose language, and creates an illusion in whom? That expression, too, presupposes a self.
I think the word "illusion" is not really a fitting term when it comes to explaining this. Its simply conceptual knowledge and belief expressed in language, which is, of course, very different to the direct experience it attempts to describe.
All language can do is point - it is the finger pointing at the moon, but never the moon itself. It is the word "green", but never the direct experience of color/seeing.
But language doesn't make itself. It comes from a self, and goes to another self. Without selves, there would be no language at all.

So the idea that "everything is language," which you sometimes might hear today, is actually quite vapid. It's quite impossible that "everything is language," because language is a human artifact, a communication between selves.
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Re: The observer cannot be observed

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Immanuel Can wrote: Mon Oct 12, 2020 1:33 am But language doesn't make itself. It comes from a self, and goes to another self.
This is true as long as you interpret what seems to be happening using concepts/language.
When all concepts are left behind then there is no thing left to arise from somewhere and go somewhere else. All location, all distance, time, space, objects, subjects, selfs... literally every thing is non existent (as a separate object) in reality.
Immanuel Can wrote: Mon Oct 12, 2020 1:33 am So the idea that "everything is language,"
No, not "everything is language" - it should say: "every THING is language".

Tell me, what are you left with if there are no things, no separate objects?
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Immanuel Can
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Re: The observer cannot be observed

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AlexW wrote: Mon Oct 12, 2020 1:39 am
Immanuel Can wrote: Mon Oct 12, 2020 1:33 am But language doesn't make itself. It comes from a self, and goes to another self.
This is true as long as you interpret what seems to be happening using concepts/language.
There it is again: "you interpret." Who is "you"?
Immanuel Can wrote: Mon Oct 12, 2020 1:33 am So the idea that "everything is language,"
No, not "everything is language" - it should say: "every THING is language".
No, that's not right either. Language is a construct used by selves. And the construct is generated by the selves, in reaction to impressions of "things," meaning objective realities.
Tell me, what are you left with if there are no things, no separate objects?
I'm sorry, Alex: I can't even make heads-or-tails of the question, actually.
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Re: The observer cannot be observed

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Immanuel Can wrote: Mon Oct 12, 2020 3:38 am There it is again: "you interpret." Who is "you"?
"You" is a thought expressed in language. Its simply how we describe what seems to be happening.
Do you prefer: "Interpreting is happening" instead of "You interpret." ??
I, you, me... its simply how we communicate. Doesn't mean there really is a separate entity: "you" doing any interpreting.
Immanuel Can wrote: Mon Oct 12, 2020 3:38 am No, that's not right either. Language is a construct used by selves. And the construct is generated by the selves, in reaction to impressions of "things," meaning objective realities.
Funny :-)
I see it actually the other way round: Language (which is nothing but conceptual thought) is what "constructs" selves (or rather: provides the dualistic framework to even think in opposites, in me and not me etc etc).
Language as such also "constructs" things/objects out of the diverse (but not separate) patterns of reality.
Its like watching TV - on it there appear patterns of color, "we interpret" (sorry: interpreting is happening) these patterns and "believe" (sorry: a thought "I see a car" is happening) that we actually "see separate things", while in reality we see (sorry: seeing is happening) only color - aka the screen, which itself is not a thing.
The self is not more than such a pattern (made of thought = concepts of self vs. other etc etc).
Immanuel Can wrote: Mon Oct 12, 2020 3:38 am I'm sorry, Alex: I can't even make heads-or-tails of the question, actually.
No problem.
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Re: The observer cannot be observed

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AlexW wrote: Mon Oct 12, 2020 5:57 am
Immanuel Can wrote: Mon Oct 12, 2020 3:38 am There it is again: "you interpret." Who is "you"?
"You" is a thought expressed in language. Its simply how we describe what seems to be happening.
Well, now, you just changed the pronoun to "we," but created the same effect: the "we" is the name of the self there...or rather, selves.
Immanuel Can wrote: Mon Oct 12, 2020 3:38 am No, that's not right either. Language is a construct used by selves. And the construct is generated by the selves, in reaction to impressions of "things," meaning objective realities.
I see it actually the other way round: Language (which is nothing but conceptual thought) is what "constructs" selves (or rather: provides the dualistic framework to even think in opposites, in me and not me etc etc).
There's an element of truth to that intuition you have, in that language is one of the ways we shape ourselves, meaning change our experience of the world, or reinterpret it. But it is not the way we constitute or "construct" that experience in the first place. We start to experience the world long before any of us has any facility in language. That's very obvious.
The self is not more than such a pattern (made of thought = concepts of self vs. other etc etc).
That's like saying, "There's a movie that plays on no screen, is seen by nobody, has no actors or setting in it, and contains nothing but language. It doesn't even make sense. A "movie," by definition, involves certain basic elements, such as actors, a script, dialogue, action, a director and viewers. Without those things, a "movie" hasn't happened at all.

Analogically, an "experience" with no "experiencer" makes no sense. The "experience," in that case, never took place.
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Re: The observer cannot be observed

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Immanuel Can wrote: Mon Oct 12, 2020 3:07 pm We start to experience the world long before any of us has any facility in language. That's very obvious.
Yes, agree, there is experiencing happening since the body is born (or even before that) - but the idea that there is a self that experiences the "world" is only known once these concepts have been learned and acquired - before that, there is... well... nothing conceptual.
Isn't this a hint? A hint that maybe also after we have learned/acquired the concepts of "self" and "world", the basic experience is still the same - there was no "self" or "world" known before we have learned these concepts, why should there be one after we have acquired this conceptual knowledge?
Sure, now we have concepts for what we think we experience, but do these thoughts change the experience? Not at all.
Immanuel Can wrote: Mon Oct 12, 2020 3:07 pm A "movie," by definition, involves certain basic elements, such as actors, a script, dialogue, action, a director and viewers. Without those things, a "movie" hasn't happened at all.
Yes, I fully agree.
But what if all these entities are purely conceptual - what if none of these basic elements are actually ever experienced? What if they are only nice stories, thought patterns, nothing more..?
The question is: If I think about something happening... Has it actually really happened?
Thought states: "I see a car drive around a corner" - of course, in our world of concepts, what we identify as "car" has moved around what we identify as a "corner".
But what would a baby have seen? A baby that doesn't know any of the concepts that make up this sentence (not even that it, itself, is or sees or experiences)?
Immanuel Can wrote: Mon Oct 12, 2020 3:07 pm The "experience," in that case, never took place.
Exactly.
But there still is "something" - not some thing(s), no objects, but still "something".
Its undeniable that "something" (and not nothing - like in deep sleep) is happening... right?
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Re: The observer cannot be observed

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AlexW wrote: Tue Oct 13, 2020 5:02 am
Immanuel Can wrote: Mon Oct 12, 2020 3:07 pm We start to experience the world long before any of us has any facility in language. That's very obvious.
Yes, agree, there is experiencing happening since the body is born (or even before that) - but the idea that there is a self that experiences the "world" is only known once these concepts have been learned and acquired - before that, there is... well... nothing conceptual.
Isn't this a hint?
"Nothing conceptual"? I wouldn't imagine that's so. Rather, I would say the concepts are simply more rudimentary at the beginning than later. A child may not be able to conceptualize "citizenship" when she's born, but she can surely conceptualize "warmth."

The point is that somebody, some "self" has to detect "warmth" in order for there to be an "experience of warmth." So it's not the sophistication of the concept that's indicative -- it's the presence of any ability to conceptualize anything at all. :shock:
Immanuel Can wrote: Mon Oct 12, 2020 3:07 pm A "movie," by definition, involves certain basic elements, such as actors, a script, dialogue, action, a director and viewers. Without those things, a "movie" hasn't happened at all.
Yes, I fully agree.
But what if all these entities are purely conceptual...
I think we'd better clarify what you are meaning when you say "conceptual." You seem to be meaning something different from what normal usage is...maybe "abstract concepts," or something like that?
What if they are only nice stories, thought patterns, nothing more..?
Impossible. If there's no writer-self, or no reader-self to perceive a thing, it's not a "story," by definition. And if there are "thought patterns," then there is certainly a "thinker." And if these are "nice," then there has to be a self who assesses the "story" as "nice."

If the objection you're trying to raise here can be properly posed, then it surely must be posed without implying any "self," right? If you can't even frame the objection without already assuming a self, then perhaps the objection cannot be posed rationally at all.
The question is: If I think about something happening... Has it actually really happened?
"If I think..." you begin. There again, you've presupposed the existence of yourself, if of nothing else.
Immanuel Can wrote: Mon Oct 12, 2020 3:07 pm The "experience," in that case, never took place.
Exactly.
But if that's "exactly" right, there was no experience, and so there is no question about whether or not a "self" is having the experience that didn't really happen anyway. :shock: Do you see how completely incoherent this gets, if we don't assume the existence of a self? We can't even find a way to pose the problem.
But there still is "something" - not some thing(s), no objects, but still "something".
As Descartes said, "I think (or doubt), therefore I am (i.e. I, the "self" exists)."

You can doubt my existence. You can doubt the world's existence. You can doubt, as Descartes said, even that you have a body or occupy physical space. But the one thing you cannot doubt is that some "doubter," some indescribable entity that describes, exists; for as often as there IS a doubt, just so certain is it that there IS a doubter.

I see no way past that. If you have one, I'd be interested: what would it be?
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Re: The observer cannot be observed

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Without a moment's thought we give up our body, our mind and our world as we fall asleep, and are left only as the peaceful self – pure awareness – that we essentially are.

That empty pure awareness is what is known as the SELF ... it’s the son of a barren woman metaphorically speaking. The immaculate conception. It’s what and who you are, it’s neither born nor is it dead.

Only the mind is born. Not You.
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Re: The observer cannot be observed

Post by Belinda »

The observer cannot be observed for the same reason peristalsis can't itself observe it is peristalting, or that respiration can't itself observe it is breathing in and out, or that bone tissue can't itself observe it is doing whatever bone tissue does,and hundreds more similar cases.

It is how the nervous system is; some actions and reactions have feedback mechanisms and some don't.
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Re: The observer cannot be observed

Post by Belinda »

Dontaskme wrote: Tue Oct 13, 2020 6:06 pm Without a moment's thought we give up our body, our mind and our world as we fall asleep, and are left only as the peaceful self – pure awareness – that we essentially are.

That empty pure awareness is what is known as the SELF ... it’s the son of a barren woman metaphorically speaking. The immaculate conception. It’s what and who you are, it’s neither born nor is it dead.

Only the mind is born. Not You.
I expect you mean deep dreamless sleep. Some dreams contain self awareness, some don't.
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