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.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fjbWr3ODbAo&feature=player_embedded

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theurj said:
Yes, this is the same type of "body wisdom" I saw Gendlin peddling at his site referenced in the Levin thread. And because Genlin's overall body-based philosophy is in general agreement with Johnson I don't see the latter questioning this type of snake oil sales.

Again I don't want to diminish certain metaphoric conceptions of "body memory," such as what I use when I teach music or what may be even more appropriate where dance is concerned. Certainly, certain sensations, particularly those involved with the sense of smell, can evoke strong memories. (When I smell certain spruce trees, or geraniums, or Dove soap, or burnt toast, or grape jelly, I think of my grandmother's house.) But the idea that "repressed memories" are somehow, literally, "locked up" in our muscles seems to me suspect.
@ Balder and Andrew:

Yes, I don't want to labour the ontological point, either, as most of us seem to be in some agreement on it, as are many others about the idea that certain modes of debating tend to shut down discussions. I guess I bring them up since they are related to the concept of "privileged access" -- off-shoots of it, as it were.

As for enaction, I came to my own "enactive" paradigm for meditation and the practice of "spirituality" independently of the model Wilber draws upon (via Verala?), and I'm still not entirely clear on where or where not the two may jibe, but to me, an enactive paradigm does not necessarily involve strict ontological commitments, at least in terms of what Jim would call propositional claims, which would appear to involve a correspondence theory of truth. What exactly "God" and other "spiritual realities" become in an enactive paradigm is still an open question, to me. But in any case they can't, for me, be what they are for the mystical empiricists.

As for Kenny, I feel that in Integral Spirituality he still seems to be commited to a verificationist concept of truth and a Kantian conception of metaphysics. In other words, at several points in this book be seems to imply that an experience of "God" or whatever would answer the Kantian problem that ontological claims about the transcendent cannot be made, or talking about God cannot be done, because there is no experience of God. In other words, if you have an experience of God, you can thereby legitimately talk about God. To me this comes close to the kind of argument posed by the "mystical empiricist," which I give above, and which have exemplified by reference to Vivekananda (who is perhaps the grand-daddy of such arguments).
hey kela, esoterica suffers from the same problem as exoterica: not only the outward expressions contradict as far as comparative studies goes; but also, inner phenomenon indeed suffers the same fate. this is the case within traditions also as you well know.... it seems to me that one either has to have hidden metaphysical commitments and agendas; shadow bias; or downright intellectual dishonesty to say that esoteric religions all say the same thing. but that's not to dismiss the wilber-coombs lattice, but to see it for what it is: a very general overview of exceedingly diverse and complex experiences. i'd have to disagree with mr. esalen when he proclaims that the meditative lens is analogous to the microscope. this type of thing starts to get real clicky fast, imo....not that i don't understand the urge to try and catalogue and come up with a theory of everything; it's just that the devil's always in the details..........

and don't even get me on how stephen harper gets to have a majority government when in a minority situation!!!!!
Again I don't want to diminish certain metaphoric conceptions of "body memory," such as what I use when I teach music or what may be even more appropriate where dance is concerned.

As a dancer and former (and maybe soon to be recurrent) bodyworker*, and long-time "yoga" (not traditional) and "chi" (traditional and non) practitioner, I am keenly sensitive to my body(ies). So speaking from privileged access to my own experience, and cross-referencing from other paradigms, I am highly skeptical of ridiculous claims about this sort of "wisdom." Taking my bodywork training in southern California in the 80s I was exposed to a plethora of pablum claims for what it could do.

* I'm seriously considering retiring from the insurance industry before it kills me with its high-end stress and low-end ethics to return to a meager financial but richly qualitative living in massage therapy. Some (many) things are just not worth the money or so-called "security."


theurj said:
Alleluiah brother kela, you're singing to this choir. I will testify with with a couple of my favorite quotes from L&J's PF:

"The phenomenological person, who through introspection alone can discover everything there is to know about the nature of mind and experience, is a fiction. Although we can have a theory of a vast, rapidly and automatically operating cognitive unconscious, we have no direct conscious access to its operation and therefore to most of our thought" (5).

"Categorization is thus not a purely intellectual matter, occurring after the fact of experience. Rather the formation and use of categories are the stuff on experience.... We cannot, as some meditative traditions suggest, 'get beyond' our categories and have a purely uncategorized and unconceptualized experience. Neural beings cannot do that" (18).

Thanks for the references, theurg. I'm not entirely clear on the last point about categorization. I guess it should read "categories are the stuff of experience." This appears to be a quasi-Kantian point, as is mine above, that "concepts" (as Kant would call them but someone like Pinker might not) structure our experience in such a way that we can't get "behind" them and experience them as they form since any experience presupposes them as they are logically prior to experience.

At my blog I suggest that the categories are indeed largely derived through an intellectual exercize, albeit one tat may involve "experience." Vivekananda writes:

"Before proceeding further I will tell you a little of the Samkhya philosophy, upon which the whole of Raja-Yoga is based. According to the Samkhya philosophy the genesis of perception is as follows: the affections of external objects are carried by their outer instruments to their respective brain centres or organs, the organs carry the affections to the mind, the mind to the determinative faculty, from this the Purusha (the soul) receives them, when perceptions results.... With the exception of the Purusha all of these are material, but the mind is much finer matter than the external instruments.... That is the psychology of the Samkhya."

So here Vivekananda admits that the categories of Patanjala Yoga are based upon the analysis and speculations of the Samkhya philosophers. This means that -- if we accept Vivekananda's account of meditation -- "Yoga meditation", as he understands it, entails "seeing" the mind at work in terms of the categories of Samkhya -- manas, buddhi, purusha, etc. Such meditation will thus require a prior understanding of the mind, and meditation as a perceiving of the mind at work will be a "seeing-as," an interpretation of experience, in terms of the Samkhya-Yoga teaching. This is why I say that the inculcation of a teaching is so vitally important: it provides the interpretive framework that allows one to understand oneself as a composite of relative mind/body and absolute spirit so that one may then identify with the absolute component. This is also basically the teaching of Shankara as well, He just recasts it in terms of the Upanishads: "You are That," etc.


theurj said:
Again I don't want to diminish certain metaphoric conceptions of "body memory," such as what I use when I teach music or what may be even more appropriate where dance is concerned.

As a dancer and former (and maybe soon to be recurrent) bodyworker*, and long-time "yoga" (not traditional) and "chi" (traditional and non) practitioner, I am keenly sensitive to my body(ies). So speaking from privileged access to my own experience, and cross-referencing from other paradigms, I am highly skeptical of ridiculous claims about this sort of "wisdom." Taking my bodywork training in southern California in the 80s I was exposed to a plethora of pablum claims for what it could do.

* I'm seriously considering retiring from the insurance industry before it kills me with its high-end stress and low-end ethics to return to a meager financial but richly qualitative living in massage therapy. Some (many) things are just not worth the money or so-called "security."

As I retired from academe to play and teach music. Well, all I can say is: be prepared to be poor. I'm finding it tough going, though I love it. :-)
Hi, Kela,

As for enaction, I came to my own "enactive" paradigm for meditation and the practice of "spirituality" independently of the model Wilber draws upon (via Verala?), and I'm still not entirely clear on where or where not the two may jibe, but to me, an enactive paradigm does not necessarily involve strict ontological commitments, at least in terms of what Jim would call propositional claims, which would appear to involve a correspondence theory of truth. What exactly "God" and other "spiritual realities" become in an enactive paradigm is still an open question, to me. But in any case they can't, for me, be what they are for the mystical empiricists.

Yes, I have a similar understanding -- I also do not feel that spiritual realities, in an enactive paradigm, will be what they are for mystical empiricists. "What" exactly they are, what their "ontological" status is, is also still something of an open question for me, but the direction I've been looking (inspired in part by Varela's and Bitbol's enactive approaches, as well as Skolimowski's and Ferrer's participatory accounts) is similar to what Esbjorn-Hargens calls "ontological pluralism" (based on the work of Annemarie Mol and others).

As for Kenny, I feel that in Integral Spirituality he still seems to be commited to a verificationist concept of truth and a Kantian conception of metaphysics. In other words, at several points in this book he seems to imply that an experience of "God" or whatever would answer the Kantian problem that ontological claims about the transcendent cannot be made, or talking about God cannot be done, because there is no experience of God. In other words, if you have an experience of God, you can thereby legitimately talk about God. To me this comes close to the kind of argument posed by the "mystical empiricist," which I give above, and which have exemplified by reference to Vivekananda (who is perhaps the grand-daddy of such arguments).

Ken's position in Integral Spirituality is not entirely clear to me, either. At times, yes, I agree, he seems to be advocating something like a Kantian perspective. But I hadn't read his comments about God in the way that you have. I think he has definitely advocated a "mystical empiricist" approach in the past, and sometimes it still sounds like he is; but my reading of his Appendix II on post-metaphysics was that he was now saying that you can speak positively or "assertively" about spiritual realities only if you frame such statements (or at least interpret such statements) enactively, implying that you are not asserting something about a spiritual object-in-itself, but only about a (developmentally, culturally, enactively) situated perspective. What do you think?

Best wishes,

B.
We're addressing this issue in the IPN thread, where the basis of altitude is in fact an enacted yet metaphysical consciousness. For example in Appendix II of IS, in talking about kosmic addressing, Wilber says this:

"Thus, we cannot make any ontic or assertic statement...without being able to specify the Kosmic address of the subject, which also means the injunctions that the subject must perform in order to enact and access the worldspace of the object....if I want to know if there is a referent to the signifier Ayin or Godhead, then one among the necessary routes is to take a concentrative form of meditation....a clear majority of those who complete the experiment report that the signifier Ayin or Emptiness...can be said that, among other things, that Spirit is a vast infinite abyss or emptiness out of which all thing arise" (267-68).

Now it would be fine if Wilber keeps this in the "state" category, as in this state will then be interpreted by the level. But as we saw in the IPN thread, this state is interpreted as the measure of altitude level in the kosmic address! I guess it takes an indigo level, combined with this state, to make that interpretation (aka enlightenment)? All of which plays right into kela's thesis of privileged access.

For you see, when you are of the highest absolute state and relative stage, i.e., enlightened, the distinction between states and stages dissolves into the nondual... Glory be unto God, amen.
Hi Balder,

Yes, that's what I would call it as well -- a kind of "ontological pluralism." Some scholars use the term "henotheism" to describe the situation in classical India where there are a plurality of deities but where each deity is exclusive to each community. This seems to be something similar.

This idea of an ontological pluralism may raise philosophical issues for some, but I think those issues may depend on what we mean by "realities." I think that for spiritual practitioners, these "things" are realities, in a way, and I think that we, in some sense, need to acknowledge them as such, since they have real results on a person's life. Of course, I'm taking a somewhat pragmatic tack here toward the definition of "reality" and "truth." But if someone's life is impacted in a real way, that impact may due, in some sense, to an encounter with some sort of "reality," be it a profound state of consciousness, like a near death experience, or the experience of the death of someone close or whatever.

I think though that the idea of a pluralism makes some people -- exclusivists for sure -- uneasy, as it appears to relativize the truth. The idea that experience implies an imbedded interpretation also makes uneasy for exactly the same reason.
I too get the sense that Kenny presents more than one view in Integral Spirituality. As we've noted before, it seems to be a work that, for whatever reason, was cobbled together somewhat hastily.
At the same time, I don't think that someone from within one of these communities will make a great deal of sense to someone outside that community when they begin to talk about their "realities," kind of like what Paul encountered when he addressed the philosophical forums in Athens. (He was basically laughed out of town.) In other words, the animals in these "spiritual ontologies" will not be the same kind of animals as those discussed by analytic philosophers and natural scientists. And so I would make a distinction between the two. This, of course, creates a "duality" between the two, but that doesn't bother me -- yet, anyway.

Some, though, want their "reality" to be acknowledged the same way that rocks and streams and blue skies are acknowledged, and they think that this sort of dualism may denegrate their "reality" and reduce it to a lower status. And so they resort to things like "mystical empiricism" in the attempt to boast their "reality" up so that it has the universal status that rocks and tree and clouds have.
Alrighty then, so much for a "hermeneutics of sympathy." Now a little hermeneutics of suspicion: So, what are we to make of these "spiritual ontologies" within a post-metaphysical framework?
here's an example of what i mentioned previously: as i understand it, some schools view certain types of samadhi as complete cessation while others view satori as some type of super consciousness. now really, the 2 experiences couldn't be farther apart, could they? one sees the ultimate experience as death/deep sleep/complete cessation; while the other sees it as some kind of heightened super (god) consciousness....the point being that this certainly isn't consensus....

so yeah, i'd buy into some kind of ontic pluralism............in that, i think, people ain't makin' this stuff up, but are truly experiencing diverse states..........

but for sure i'd agree with dennett if he argues for secular states as offering the most amount of religious/spiritual freedom and expression....and agree with hitchen's move to the right to various degree because we ought not let fundamentalists use our freedoms against us.....although, i don't think it's good strategy to interfere in other nations development using the strategies of the last 10 years. one can't impose orange and green values by force on pre-modern cultures........big mistake, imo.......

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