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 get what you're saying, at least I think I do. (And yes, I was just reading in this SEP entryon how Bohr was misunderstood about the wave collapse.) I don't think it's a new argument and I just disagree with it, as have many much better philosophers than I to whom I point in recent posts. As I've said, it's a legitimate debate mostly, but not entirely, within a postformal frame.

Thomas said:

Ed, one of the reasons quantum physicists got all wonky in saying consciousness is required to collapse the Schroedinger waveform is they misread Bohr on the very point you raise.  For Bohr, quantum thinking is non-conceptual, and in a non-conceptual frame there is no separating consciousness from reality, no separating the processes of my knowing from processes I observe.  Non-conceptual knowing includes a direct component---directness defines non-conceptuality---and that directness is inconsistent with a sequential, causal, temporal A-produces-B understanding.  You call this "consciousness-reality conflation."  Bohr calls it quantum physics.  There is no time in Bohr's quantum thinking.  No cause.  No "conflation."  There's nothing to conflate.

Tom:  If the words all or totality evoke a picture of an ideal full something we are forever approaching, you're still viewing in an object-conceptual vein, Bruce.  No matter how you slice it, all means all, not part of all.  In the frame I'm presenting here «all» does not invoke some all-of-objects or -things.  Conceiving all in that fashion is not what I'm describing.  Asymptotic approach = thing-in-itself thinking.

As I stated to you before, "the" is a definite article, an objectifying article.  I was just pointing out the implications of your language choice, since it seems to suggest something you do not intend. (I thought we had discussed and come to an understanding on this already).  I agree that the asymptotic approach = thing-in-itself thinking, which is why I say it is inappropriate.


Tom:  I'm not uncomfortable saying one.  What else could not-two mean? 

To my knowledge, 'not-two' language arose historically as a corrective to reductive monism, which sought to reduce everything to an ultimate something (whether matter or spirit).  Thus, in Zen, they say, not-one (no ultimate substance to be found), not-two (suggesting inseparability, interdependent co-arising).

Tom:  But where and how does that one reside?  In a quantum measurement, the entire measurement setup + result is one.  Both the experimental result and the setup express or manifest that one, but not in any causal understanding of express and manifest.  Here we can say the result (the observed) being not-two with the measurement setup (the observer) expresses that unity. 

I can accept 'one' language, if by that is meant the nonseparability of observer and observed.

Tom:  But what is that not-twoness?  What is the unity that not-two implies?  It is implied in such statements as this:

"The observed implication is as it is because the inquiring situation is as it is."

That statement flattens the orthogonal relationship between implication (wholeness) and inquiring situation (part), and thereby generates contradiction, but it does in so many words say that that which arises arises in and as a fundamental unity.  I can go that far.  But here's the contradiction: saying an implication is "observed" is to place tacit knowing as an observable, to situate the tacit in experimental situatedness.  Change the inquiring situation, and a different wholeness must necessarily arise.  Wholeness cannot be situated, cannot be partialized (one wholeness for this inquiring situation, another for some different inquiring situation).  Partializing wholeness renders wholeness "a product of" in a causal (situated) framework.  It also necessarily implies something that is entirely outside situatedness.  Ask this: what is observing the twin-born arising of implication (wholeness) and inquiring-situation (part)?  That can be none other than the bogeyman pure witness that is separate from the observed.  By suggesting an implication is an observable, you've posited a metaphysical witness, and because that witness is denied by implication of your position, we're back into infinite regress.

I'm not following you on this.  I don't buy the pure separate witness thing, and wasn't meaning that in what I wrote (though perhaps the language could have been better).  I also said I wasn't talking about 'situating' wholeness.  I think we've been misunderstanding each other in a (beginning-to-be-frustrating) series of posts, but I think also I'm beginning to see what that point of misunderstanding may be:  we're not using 'implication' in the same way, and apparently have opposite 'locations' for part and whole.  You have said that certain quantum principles were discovered by tracing out the implication(s) of certain observations.  A particular implication is identified as following from an observation -- say, quantum nonlocality -- and then this particular implication may or may not be confirmed via other means.  When I've been talking about situating an implication, I've been talking about situating a particular insight derived from tracing the implications of an observation.  Here, "implication" is "what is implied" by such-and-such observation.  And I'm saying that the 'discovery' of such an implication, and the implication itself, are inseparable from the 'whole' of the inquiring subject/situation.  As you see, I'm treating 'implicatory tracing' as the local activity (part) and inquiring situation as the global context (whole).


You indicated the reverse above (implication as whole, inquiring situation as part).  Can you clarify your thinking here?  I can see 'implicatory thinking' as a holistic mode of thinking, certainly.  But you yourself have 'situated' it, by identifying it with right-brain function and with the 'feminine,' among other things, so I'm not following how / why you are putting it in the place of The Whole.

Best wishes,


hi theurj,

rather than have me trawl through the O O O thread, would you mind c&p-ing those links here so I can have some idea of what you're referring to?

theurj said:

....I do find a type of monism though in some aspects of Buddhism* with claims to privileged access to be metaphysical so in that regard only (at least for this moment) was my criticism aimed.

*Specifics provided in links in the OOO thread.

Recall Morton said this:

"Bohr argued that quantum phenomena don't simply concatenate themselves with their measuring devices. They're identical to it: the equipment and the phenomena form an indivisible whole (QT 139–40, 177). This 'quantum coherence' applies close to absolute zero, where particles become the 'same' thing."

I think here he is in agreement with the conflation of observer and observed, reality and consciousness, that I mentioned in the PA thread. He is also Buddhist and sees this same conflation in his interpretation of it, one that is not uncommon and which we've explored and debated many times before. (Most recently here, with other references therein.)

Thanks, Tom, for taking the time to back up and slow this down a bit.  I will also take this slowly in my initial response (and, kela, I promise I will reply soon to your post!  I started it today at work and didn't finish it).


I understand the basics of the genesis of quantum thinking, having studied some of that literature myself, but I appreciate the review.


Tom:  Implication is therefore the locale, if you will, of non-conceptual wholeness, of tacit understanding.


Is it also your view that the right brain is the locale of implication? 

So, you situate implication and intuition in the right brain (UR), and you have been giving me a hard time about more fully situating implication in AQAL because .... ?
How can you locate intuition and implication in the right brain -- not the left brain -- and say you don't 'situate'?
To contextualize, locate, see relationally (I am I because you are you, I because you, you because I).  In your previous post, you used 'locale' (locate) -- not too different from site/situate.



The act of implication is contextualized; the discovery of something implicit in an observation is contextualized.

From Wikipedia here: I have changed the order in which these two passages appear on the Wiki page.

"Arguments concerning fine points of Mādhyamaka tend to be complex and difficult to understand, let alone to summarize pithily. The terms of Mādhyamaka are understood differently by different schools, adding to the confusion. It is therefore beyond the scope of any general overview to present the technical dimension of the argument in detail. However, a historical context for the argument may be helpful.

Shentong views have often come under criticism by followers of all four of the main Tibetan Buddhist schools, but particularly by the Gelug. The “Shentong-Rangtong distinction” is a dichotomy that Gelugpas and some Sakyapas generally do not utilize. “Exclusive Rangtongpas", as the contemporary western Kagyu scholar S.K. Hookham would call them, have claimed that Shentong views are inconsistent with the basic Mahāyāna teaching of emptiness (śūnyatā) because Shentongpas posit an absolute. They sometimes label Shentong Mādhyamaka "eternalistic Mādhyamaka". Gyaltsab Je and Khedrub Je, two of Gelug founder Je Tsongkhapa’s primary disciples, were particularly critical of the Shentong views of their time. The great fourteenth century Sakya master Buton Rinchen (1290-1364) was also very critical of Shentong views.

Among Kagyupas and Nyingmapas, the noted 19th century Nyingma lama Ju Mipham wrote works both supportive and critical of Shentong positions,[8] as did the 8th Karmapa, Mikyo Dorje. The contemporary western Kagyu scholar Karl Brunnhölzl argues that there is no such thing as “Shentong Mādhyamaka,” but rather that orthodox Yogācāra philosophy (when understood properly) is entirely compatible with Mādhyamaka, and therefore Shentong is not a novel position. He argues that Yogācāra has often been mischaracterized and unfairly marginalized in Tibetan Buddhist curricula."



"Shentong and Rangtong: a continuum, a coalescence

Fundamental Wisdom (Mūlamadhyamakakārikā) by Nāgārjuna, 13.8 has:

śūnyatā sarvadriṣṭīṇām proktā niḥsaraṇam jinaiḥ
yeṣām tu śūnyatādṛṣṭtis tan asādhyan babhāṣire

All the buddhas have said that emptiness
Definitely eliminates all viewpoints.
Those who have the view of emptiness
Are said to be incurable.[7]

Shentongpas often present themselves as Rangtongpas as well, asserting they see the two views as a complementary unity, a continuum, a coalescence. This coalescence of Shentong and Rangtong, praxis and ideology, fulfills and leavens the "middle way" of the Mādhyamika dialectic and counters extreme views that are anathema to the middle way. This coalescence may fall into a fallacy of the reification of the middle[clarification needed] and through a nomenclature, yielding to ideation and objectification. Hence, to robustly secede from this extreme philosophical fallacy and the lure of objectification, this coalescence is nonetheless empty (Sanskrit: śūnya) though it has a positive value and ineffable signification[clarification needed] that does not succumb to the extreme of nihilism: i.e., empty of emptiness;[clarification needed] a fecund, fullness:[clarification needed] the indivisible unity of emptiness and form as per Nāgārjuna.[citation needed]

H.H. Dudjom Rinpoche, a celebrated Nyingma lama of the 20th century, asserts:

The Madhyamaka of the Prāsaṅgika and the Svātantrika is the coarse, outer Madhyamaka. It should indeed be expressed by those who profess well-informed intelligence during debates with extremist outsiders, during the composition of great treatises, and while establishing texts which concern supreme reasoning. However, when the subtle, inner Madhyamaka is experientially cultivated, one should meditate on the nature of Yogacara-Madhyamaka.[citation needed] " 

theurj said:

Recall Morton said this:

"Bohr argued that quantum phenomena don't simply concatenate themselves with their measuring devices. They're identical to it: the equipment and the phenomena form an indivisible whole (QT 139–40, 177). This 'quantum coherence' applies close to absolute zero, where particles become the 'same' thing."

I think here he is in agreement with the conflation of observer and observed, reality and consciousness, that I mentioned in the PA thread. He is also Buddhist and sees this same conflation in his interpretation of it, one that is not uncommon and which we've explored and debated many times before. (Most recently here, with other references therein.)

Yes, I explored a lot of this is several different threads in this forum, the old Lightmind forum and the now defunct Open Integral blog. And Dudjom is correct in that it comes down to the acceptance of the Yogacara-Madhyamaka doctrine. We are seeing this play out in (post)modern terms via the quantum discussion, even to the point of, as above, that the Pransangika view is a "lower order" or level to the higher Yogacara.

And yes, all this is difficult to understand, especially given the differences in meaning when using the same terms. This is why I used Thakchoe as a reference, since he's coming from inside the Tibetan meditative and discursive tradition and has directly participated in the "debates" between the schools. Note though that his referenced book is about the differences between factions within the so-called Prasangika schools, but that this could be characterized as the Yogacara difference therein.

We had an interesting conversation about holons back on the Gaia forum, right before we moved to Ning, as I recall.  In holonic terms, yes, of course, part and whole "come together" and have "equal meaning."  But in any speech act, any saying, the 'referents' may shift: part makes sense only in relation to an identified whole.  I am a particular part-icipant in the English language community; I am not a part-icipant in the Uighur or Choktaw language communities.  More generally, I am a particular participant in the human language community, which would now be the whole of which English and Uighur speakers are parts.  Whole and part come together and are co-defining.  Even to take this to more general or 'global' terms, for someone who declared 'part' or 'particular' 1,000 or 10,000 years ago, the 'whole' or 'All' that that implied was quite a different 'universe' and/or 'universal' than we would apprehend now (to the extent that that referenced or implied 'universe/al' had meaning [equal meaning as the referenced particular] for the speaker).

Thomas said:

Here's another question.  Assume we have access to all the information that is our universe.  Just assume it for a moment.  Does having that access imply there can be no particularity?  What is particularity if not referenced to a whole?  What is whole if not all?


There's a serious problem of language afoot in these questions.  Quite apart from questions of whether and how we might have access to information outside our skins, if that's a right way to put it, if one says particular, one has implied universal.  If the word particular referenced to X, whatever X is---information, feeling, etc.---is to have meaning, universal, to my mind, must have equal meaning referenced to X.  Otherwise particular is meaningless, at least in my linguistic universe.

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