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--- Quote from: sciborg2 on February 25, 2020, 01:24:26 am ---I could see all of the above in a Non-dualist sense, where Awareness is the juxtaposition "between" and "around" Form and Formlessness...

That might be closest to how I think of things...

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Interesting - can you describe or give examples of what you're saying? Like "what" is formlessness.


--- Quote from: TaoHorror on February 25, 2020, 01:30:32 am ---Interesting - can you describe or give examples of what you're saying? Like "what" is formlessness.

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Well I was thinking of this dude's essays of Nondual Logic ->

Tetralemmic Polarity

--- Quote ---One gets a tetralemmic polarity when one of the poles is not an object. By "object" I mean whatever can be observed or thought about. So a tree, a hallucination, a concept, a process are all objects. All objects have form. A form is a set of distinctions that allows one to identify an object as a particular object, distinct from all other objects. However, this raises the question of whether an object is a form, or is it that it has a form, and its form is not all there is to it. If the latter, then that "extra" must be formless. I will argue that formlessness is indeed a reality in all objects, and that formlessness and form are a tetralemmic polarity.

Let us go through the tetralemma, considering the possibilities:

1) There is ultimately only formlessness (and form is somehow derived from formlessness).

2) There is ultimately only form (and formlessness is just vacuous word-mongering).

3) There is ultimately both form and formlessness.

4) The ultimate is neither form nor formlessness.

(1) can be dismissed by noting that, given only formlessness, there is no explanation, nor can there be any explanation of how form can be derived from it. One can only say "it just happens", which is of course no explanation.

(2) is considerably more difficult. One could imagine a universe consisting only of a bunch of objects, which could be distinguished if there were an observer, but nevertheless exist without an observer.  Indeed, most people in modern societies think that just such a universe existed for billions of years. Now being without an observer, there is no distinguishing, so in this imagined universe, a form just is an object, and we would say it is made out of parts, not a set of distinctions. This would mean that an observer, when they finally come into existence, is just another such object. This raises the question of how one object can be aware of another object. An observing object must somehow connect each element of the observed form into a whole. But if the observing object is itself nothing but a set of parts, where can it "put", so to speak, these connections? If we say that some elemental parts of the observing object are changed in an observation (like cells in the retina are changed when struck by photons, causing changes in neurons), then either each of those elemental parts are observing, or other parts of the observing object observe the changed parts of itself. The second possibility obviously just pushes the problem back, so the elemental parts must themselves be observers, like Leibniz' monads. But this just repeats the initial problem on a smaller scale: how does this tiny observer make its connections? Where can it put the knowledge that it has changed, and what can connect these bits of knowledge? So this too is just regressing the question. It might be objected that a form need not be made up of discrete "elemental parts", but is, perhaps something like a continuous field (like an electromagnetic field). However, this doesn't change anything. There would still have to be differences -- different field strengths, perhaps -- and the observing form still needs to alter its continuous features as it observes, and we have the same infinite regress. Another possible objection is that awareness isn't a structure of parts, but of events. Again, this doesn't change anything. Simply substitute 'event' for 'part', and you get the same argument. The only way out is to acknowledge that awareness of form requires that which is other than form, and that can only be formlessness.

Note that there can only be one formlessness, since if there were two, there must be that which distinguishes one from the other, which means they would have form.

What (3) asserts is that there is form, and then there is also formlessness. Now it would appear that in rebutting (1) and (2) we have just shown this, but what an assertion like (3) means is that there are two separable entities that co-exist. However, form and formlessness are not separable. That is, (3) asserts dualism, but the relation between form and formlessness is not dualistic. The way to see this is to consider our own thinking, for as it turns out, our thinking exemplifies this interplay of form and formlessness. A thought has a form, and if we consider what thinking is in addition to all thoughts -- one might call it the power to think, or something like that -- well, this power to think is formless. Without thoughts there is no thinking, and without the power to think there are no thoughts. It is the formless aspect of thinking that unites concepts (forms) into more complex forms, that allows awareness of them. Thoughts and the power to think completely depend on each other. Now if A depends on B and B depends on A, and A and B are not reducible to something else, then A and B must be one. But the non-reducibility to "something else" has still to be covered, which brings us to...

The rebuttal of (4) lies first of all in noting that to posit a somewhat that is neither formlessness nor form (a prior unity, say) adds nothing that is helpful in accounting for our experience. In that sense, it is metaphysically useless. Furthermore, it creates a new problem, namely how this somewhat relates to formlessness and form. If what is posited is a prior unity, one is left with no explanation of how it unites formlessness and form, and without an explanation of how formlessness and form are derived from it (this latter being the same problem with (1)).

Having seen all four horns of the tetralemma fail, what next? The way forward, as I see it, is to treat the unresolvability of the polarity from being a problem to being the solution. That is, to describe fundamental reality as this never-resolving opposition of the two poles. The way to do this is to think of the two poles as forces (what makes things happen) rather than states of being, or as partial descriptions of reality. Reality is not fundamentally just formless, or form, or both, or neither, rather it is formlessness and form in action, constituting each other as they work against each other. To say that experiencing is the tetralemmic polarity of formlessness and form provides a basis for developing a complete and coherent metaphysics -- given the idealist stance that there is nothing outside of experiencing. No more is needed, and any less cannot produce an explanation of awareness of forms.
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Where I might balk is the Idealist part...hard for me to accept that Consciousness is the All, though I am pretty skeptical of Physicalism as well...


--- Quote from: sciborg2 on February 25, 2020, 01:35:11 am ---Where I might balk is the Idealist part...hard for me to accept that Consciousness is the All, though I am pretty skeptical of Physicalism as well...
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Reads to a simpleton like me as a sort of Hegelian position.  The Absolute as not a closed unity, it is a sort of open opposition.

See, the issue for me in voting for this is that I can't possibly disentangle A, B and C at all.  D seems like a farce, or a word game.  But I can't bring myself to isolate any one option over the others...

This poll was really meant to resurrect our discussion on consciousness - I feel like talking about it again. Sci has posted a ton of cool stuff and musing it all over, wondering if I/we are closer to understanding it or just vetted out more possibilities of what it could/couldn't be.


--- Quote from: TaoHorror on February 25, 2020, 04:33:38 pm ---This poll was really meant to resurrect our discussion on consciousness - I feel like talking about it again. Sci has posted a ton of cool stuff and musing it all over, wondering if I/we are closer to understanding it or just vetted out more possibilities of what it could/couldn't be.
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Well, in a way I am just teasing on the structure of the question.

See, I think we could, maybe, make progress, but probably not if we prefigure that it must be the case that volition, I guess we could call it for now, is something like "single-caused."

The question of what moves us is very complicated.  In fact, maybe even one of the most complicated possible questions.  That might even be why we, sort of a priori, come to a "theory of mind."  As Bakker likes to call it, a sort of heuristic view of ourselves and so of others.  It is practically useful and generates practically useful results in many cases.

That doesn't mean it is the fundamental "answer" to the question.  In the same way that Newtonian, or classical physics was useful in understanding gravity, but ultimately did not "fully" explain the whole paradigm.

In one sense, I do think this ties back to a "question of causality" that is hard for me to summarize.  Essentially though, what we think of, in a sort of folk-way, as "causal" is not really all that intelligibly rendered out rationally.  Sometimes we'd consider possible worlds, sometimes counter-factual cases, sometimes a notion of necessity.  All of these have problems being applied though, broadly.

The more contemporary take is to consider "causality" as a look at intervention.  That is, what changes under an intervention.  Now, I am unfortunately not qualified to summarize this, but it likely is more intelligible than the previous sorts of notional causality.

To draw this back, what we are doing if we are asking, "what made me do X" is a very complicated question, like a three-body problem of physics, except is is an X-body problem where X could plausibly be anything and everything that could possibly influence the outcome.

So, even if we to simplify this and make it a "3-Body problem" and consider only you, other agents, the world at large, we'd still be in quite a quagmire.  The difficulty is rendering out all the possible micro-states and then fully calculate every outcome from there.  Even, likely tiny variations in initial starting conditions play out wildly different.

So, in the end, it is not clear which of these "strings" is the one that "moves" you.  It's all of them, none of them, some of them, and some other ones too, most likely.  Sorry if this posts is a bit disjointed and muddled, it was basically a sort of stream-of-consciousness take.


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