Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Consciousness illuminating, expanding, contracting

Consciousness, according to Hodgson, is:

"the foam thrown up by and floating on a wave...a mere foam, aura, or melody arising from the brain, but without reaction upon it."

The light of the mind replaces the light of the sun. Andrei Platonov:

"At that time Prokofy was already sitting over his revolutionary papers from the town, the lamp lit despite the bright day. The lamp was always lit before the start of a session of the Chevengur revolutionary committee and always burned until the end of discussion of all questions. In the opinion of Prokofy Dvanov this formed a contemporary symbol, showing that the light of solar life on earth must be replaced by the artificial light of the human mind.

In principle, the mind can reflect everything that is. Norman Cousins:

"The human brain is a mirror to infinity."

But there are things the mind does not comprehend because there was never any evolutionary advantage to being able to do so. Frank Jackson:

"Epiphenomenal qualia are totally irrelevant to survival. At no stage of our evolution did natural selection favor those who could make sense of how they are caused and the laws governing them, or in fact why they exist at all. And that is why we can't.

Literacy narrows the consciousness. A literate culture becomes more visual, individual, personal, reasoned, and engaged in linear thought, according to John A. Hardon:

"There may be value in listing some of the changes that take place whenever a people become alphabetically developed. From being oral and auricular they become literate. The eye replaces the mouth and ear. From a strong sense of community, they become more individualized. Their consciousness becomes more personal, locked up within themselves; their visual functions are intensified; intuition is replaced by rationality, and the world of linear space and time becomes normative of reality.
Non-quantitative thought such as "intuition" may need to be re-taught. Francis P. Cholle:

"How come classes about intuitive skills are still so rare in business schools? A first answer seems obvious: we are culturally uncomfortable with what's not exact and what cannot be demonstrated. Even if research shows that many successful business minds use intuition, it remains hard to conceptualize intuition and make it a tangible capacity that can be taught and measured."

The brain cannot be separated from its environment. Jonah Lehrer:

"Herbert Simon, the Nobel Prize-winning psychologist, famously compared the human mind to a pair of scissors. One blade was the brain, he said, while the other blade was the specific environment in which the brain was operating."

Perhaps for this very reason, we cannot, or rarely do, recognize our environment. David P. Barash and Nanelle R. Barash:

If you were to interview an intelligent fish and ask her to describe her environment, probably the last thing you would hear from your hypothetical piscine interlocutor is ‘It's mighty wet down here!’ Some things – especially those all around us – are taken for granted. They constitute the ocean in which we swim.


Hodgson, "Time and Space," London, Longmans Green, 1865, p 279, quoted by C.J. Ducasse, The Belief in a Life After Death, p 77

Andrei Platonov. Chevengur. Translated by Anthony Olcott. Ann Arbor: Ardis, 1978 (written 1928). p 232.

Norman Cousins, in Human Options. Quoted in Spiritual, But Not Religious: Understanding Unchurched America. Robert C. Fuller. Oxford University Press, 2002. p 110.

Frank Jackson. "Epiphenomenal Qualia." originally printed The Philosophical Quarterly 32, 1982, p 127-136. Reprinted in Problems in Mind: Readings in Contemporary Philosophy of Mind, ed Jack S. Crumley II, California: Mayfield Publishing Company, 2000. p 556-563. quoted p 561.

John A. Hardon. Christianity in the Twentieth Century. New York: Image Books, DoubleDay, 1972. p 29.

Francis P. Cholle. The Intuitive Compass: Why the Best Decisions Balance Reason and Instinct. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2012. p. 33.

Jonah Lehrer. How We Decide. New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2009. p. xvii.

David P. Barash and Nanelle R. Barash. Madame Bovary's Ovaries: A Darwinian Look at Literature. New York: Bantam Dell, 2005. p. 137.

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