Here, I'm not so much interested in Dennett's ideas on consciousness as I am in his ideas concerning privileged access.


I like the opening idea that there is the folk-belief among people that everyone is an expert on their own consciousness. After all, they have a direct relationship with their own consciousness, and this, thereby, makes them an expert on consciousness.


I'm not all that impressed with this talk -- not that it's not good -- but he really only presents one piece of evidence, and we are lead to the inference that we don't know our own minds only indirectly through that evidence. I was hoping for something a bit stronger.


I like though how he incorporates real time thought experiments into his work.

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I'm trying to bring the principles of inter-subjectivity to bear here and am finding it a bit odd that in a forum dedicated to conceiving a post-metaphysical spirituality there is so much resistance to the attempt to do so coupled with a dogged attachment to older models based on classical empiricism.

Well, maybe this is not entirely fair. It hasn't necessarily been established that private practice is impossible. Maybe it is possible in some sense -- in the sense of some sort of autonomous, creative and spontaneous practice. If someone is interpreting their experience in terms of an established tradition, though, I think some sort of interaction and confirmation will be necessary. To return to my initial point, though, the human capacity for self-deception and error don't appear to be adequately accounted for by mystical empiricism.

"To return to my initial point, though, the human capacity for self-deception and error don't appear to be adequately accounted for by mystical empiricism."

i agree with this assessment and i think this is the main reason why there are so many guru scandals.

some indian gurus dish out "enlightment certificates" far to easily maybe due to their own cultural imprinting...........and the highest level there is always ....close or identical to the cosmic joke : ) hard to say what they are up to really,...., indian spirituality is a far more vast affair then the straight and narrow western bible thing.

so a lot of misunderstanding is the result.

in the vajrayana there is clear indication which path need a personal guru guidance and which don´t, but this assessment is limited to the buddhist path , so the mahayana can be safely trodden without a guru also a spiritual friend might greatly help and/or being a monk. and then there is a whole group called solitary realizers they can do without anybody. but then it also specifies that the realizations of these path and beings are not final , they only can get part way, like the 10 bodhisattva bhumis or levels end with the 11th total light but then the tantric teachings have 5 higher levels on top of that which can onkly be accessed using those methods....

so i am not saying "oh lets do all these things" nope , all i am saying it could be a little more complex then the average western new age india traveller realizes , when the first baba that he meets hits him on the forehead shaktiphatll ! and declares him " enlightened" .

the most likely outcome of such a third encounter is a massive ego inflation and nothing much else as we see with the notorious andrews.

I'm currently reading about Modernism, which Balder had brought up with regard to interpreting Lovecraft (a suggestion I agree with). Lovecraft, it might be said, can be seen as responding to Enlightenment ideas and ideals of the human capacity for comprehensive knowledge, with the idea that we can have a firm and clear grasp of the universe and its essence. Like the Dark Romantics -- though I think he goes beyond even them and extends Dark Romantic ideas -- he appears to suggest that the universe as largely unknown and alien to us, and that our sense that it can be known in the manner that the Enlightenment thinkers had suggested is a kind of illusion.

Modernism, as I understand it, places an emphasis the notion of unreliability the mind and senses and uncertainly of human knowledge coupled with a certain pessimism and skepticism, not in the Humean sense, but in the sense that there are doubts about the Enlightenment ideals. 

This skepticism, it might be contended, begins with the Lisbon earthquake, an event that had caused many thinkers to question the standard theodicies of the day. This process of doubt and pessimism, it might also be contended, continues up until the First World War, at which point it reaches its zenith. Following the War, rhetoric about human "Progress" and the perfectibility of mankind, ideas that had been the darling of thinkers and men of letters like Coleridge (who influenced Emerson and the Transcendentalists), Spencer, and Godwin, fell out of favor significantly.

Two thinkers, and forerunners of Modernism, who epitomize the idea that Rationalism has its obverse or 'dark' side are Freud and Nietzsche. With Freud it is the Unconscious, which impinges upon the intellect; with Nietzsche it is the Will to Power. This doubt about the adequacy of the human intellect in its capacity for complete self- transparency re-appears later with philosophical investigations into the problem of self-deception.

The mystical empiricism of Vivekanada almost seems to be a response to this kind of doubt. We can see Vivekananda grappling with the problem in his early days. Later, he begins to seek out some form of certainty within the domain of spirituality by coupling it with classical empiricism. As such, I read him as a conservative, almost reactionary thinker.

Post-modernism, it has been said, is really just the working out of the initial premises of Modernism, and indeed Nietzsche can be seen as the grandfather of all post-modernist thinkers -- Derrida and Foucault in particular.

In any case, in some sense, questions and doubts about empiricist claims to privileged access can be seen as falling within and continuing this basic line of thinking initiated by Modernism.

I googled "Existential Horror," and it came up with the following responses to the question, "What is Existential horror?"

1. "A philosophy that emphasizes the uniqueness and isolation of the individual experience in a hostile or indifferent universe, regards human existence as unexplainable, and stresses freedom of choice..."

2. "Horror that causes you to question the nature of reality and your existence and produces some horrifying effect from that...where the universe doesn't work in the way you thought it did, where your basic assumptions are invalid. The universe both doesn't work like you thought it did, and doesn't care about you..."

3. "Horror caused by an idea or entity that threatens not just your personal well-being, but your essential conception of the universe and the self."

4. "I never pegged it as having anything to do with human existence being 'unexplainable', I thought it was more that there were Things Out There that can either radically contradict our perception of the universe and turn everything upside-down.... We think we know all about the universe, but we've barely scratched the surface and it's so much more unknown and dangerous as a result..."

The above discussion seems pertinent to what I said above about uncertainty and unreliability, if indirectly so.

Am I at the correct thread?

Do not attempt to control this thread. We are in control. Sit quietly and we will control all you see and hear... From the inner mind to the outer limits.

And speaking of horror music:

theurj said:

Do not attempt to control this thread. We are in control. Sit quietly and we will control all you see and hear... From the inner mind to the outer limits.

My fav TV show of all time. I attempted to find my favorite episode, "The Mice," and happen stanced upon this score. Hey I am at the wrong thread! Where am I...?

I'm going to continue the intentional [?] blurring of these two threads I've been populating with the following reflection. Shirley Jackson is sometimes called a literary master of "existential horror." Here is a blogger's description of The Haunting of Hill House (which I refer to in the other thread):

Four people venture to spend a summer in the reportedly haunted Hill House: Dr. Montague, an occult scholar looking for proof of ghosts, Theodora, his assistant, Eleanor, a young recluse, and Luke, the heir to the house. The group begins to experience strange and unexplained events. That plot might be familiar to you if you've seen... the intense 1963 psychological thriller movie The Haunting....  What makes the novel so effective is its unreliable narrator, [bold-type added] Eleanor. Being limited by her incomplete perspective makes the reader just as unsure and vulnerable as she is. This perspective become more suffocating and tense as the line between the real and unreal and the living and dead becomes more and more blurred.

In this work, we encounter the technique of utilizing an unreliable first-person narration, a concept that resonates with what I have been after in this thread.

I took 3 levels of creative writing in college, 200, 300 and 400. The 3rd-person or omniscient narrator arose from the Enlightenment ideal that our intellect (egoic-rationality) could indeed know all through science. In a way the integral worldview, with its claim that we can see several (all?) perspectives from all levels and/or kosmic addresses, is just an extension of this Enlightenment ideal, both founded on the metaphysics of presence, a close cousin of privileged access. Hence the latter is also part and parcel of the kennilingus metaphysical toolbox.

Thing is, we figured out that even omniscient narrators (and their theories of everything) are just as unreliable, for the author is coming from his own 1st-person perspective regardless of how many characters he can create from no matter how many perspectives. It does though make for good fiction the better s/he/it (yes, as in sheeit) can do that. But as Derrida so aptly demonstrated, we can still see through his omniscience into the gaps and chasms between the lines into no man's land, that desert place on the outer limits called khora.

Cue music...

From David Lane's recent IW piece "Ken Wilber's eye." He is commenting of Wilber's latest on integral semiotics:

"He tends to confuse experience with its causation-reality, forgetting in the process of how easy it is for anyone to be deceived or duped by how certain phenomena are produced. [...] I am belaboring this point because there is no absolute given even in the sensory-empirical world, which could not potentially be mislabeled or misinterpreted. This may seem like a trivial point, but I think it looms much larger than we might at first suspect when we enter into the mystical domain which doesn’t have the same overwhelming consensual feedback correctives (at least not yet).

"You cannot appreciate dreaming unless you too have dreamt. That seems obvious. But that doesn’t mean that the dreamer is somehow privileged because of that ability to know the causation or ontological status of that dream [...] I think it is misleading to then pontificate about the 'reality' or 'truth-value' of such experiences.

"So let’s agree with Wilber that in order to access the inner sound current and explore subtler and subtler realms of consciousness one has to engage in some sort of meditation technique (or something similar to it). But what does that then mean in terms of 'reality' or truth value? Isn’t the real issue not one of worldspaces (that is an obvious given) and not even Kosmic addresses (don’t we already know this from from drugs and dreaming?), but of competing interpretations of what such inner and outer states mean? [...] It would be one thing to say that in certain elevated states one can experience something that MAY be interpreted by contemplators to be akin to what some Buddhists have called Buddha-nature, but it is quite another to reify (as Wilber is prone to do) what a certain state provides.

"The problem with such statements as 'I have seen It [God] myself' is that it lacks skepsis and tends by its very language to cut off further discussion or inquiry. Wilber’s continued use of such flowery descriptors [...] suggests that his real goal is to bring us into his theological ballroom, but in order to accomplish this he misleadingly dresses us up with plausible personal and scientific possibilities."

thanks theurg. it's interesting how his line of inquiry is paralleling our own here, or at least some of us. i think he may be right as per the reliance merely on phenomenology where subjective states are concerned. the comments on theological puffery in the discourse of wilber is interesting too -- a kind of parallelism to what i have referred to as hyperbolic exaggeration. i've also had the sense that ken does not read to discover or explore and try to understand the insights of others, but as a means to support what he already thinks.

See this post by Helen De Cruz from a group blog in which Protevi participates. A few excerpts:

"In the epistemology of religion, authors like Swinburne and Alston have argued influentially that mystical experience of God provides prima facie justification for some beliefs we hold about God on the basis of such experiences. [...] What Luhrmann found was that evangelicals engage in cognitive practices: deliberate exercises that seem to facilitate (although they do not guarantee) direct awareness of God. [...] In the practices Luhrmann describes, religious experience is not like ordinary perception, which requires no conscious or deliberate training, but more like a skilled perception, such as that of an art connoisseur or a scientist. [...] If religious experience is indeed critically shaped by cultivating the right skills, there is the worry that the experiences elicited in this way aren't veridical, because the skills aren't skills at all. [...] Kitcher recognizes that the circular dependency of perception and skill [...] might constitute a problem. [...] Given that the persistent practice within a religious tradition can easily give rise to M-perception in accordance with that tradition, it seems hard to maintain that M-perception could ever give rise to justified religious beliefs, let alone religious knowledge."

"The second is Metacognitive Incompetence, the growing body of evidence that overthrows our traditional and intuitive assumptions of self-transparency. Before the rise of cognitive science, philosophy could continue more or less numb to the pinch of the first and all but blind to the throttling possibility of the latter. Now however, we live in an age where massive, wholesale self-deception, no matter what logical absurdities it seems to generate, is a very real empirical possibility.

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What paths lie ahead for religion and spirituality in the 21st Century? How might the insights of modernity and post-modernity impact and inform humanity's ancient wisdom traditions? How are we to enact, together, new spiritual visions – independently, or within our respective traditions – that can respond adequately to the challenges of our times?

This group is for anyone interested in exploring these questions and tracing out the horizons of an integral post-metaphysical spirituality.

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