Re: Dreaming On

From: David Nyman <>
Date: Tue, 25 Aug 2009 01:21:28 +0100

2009/8/24 Stathis Papaioannou <>:

I mentioned, in reply to you, that my own argument was essentially
equivalent to a broadly 'eastern' metaphysics. I append below my own
summary of this perspective, in a somewhat compressed and 'neutral'
form that is, I think, agnostic to amplification in comp or non-comp
terms. I daresay it will be somewhat less than transparent, but any
request for clarification will be met by urgent head-scratching and at
least the possibility of further elucidation.

"Monism analysed dualistically"

The following is an analysis of the 'quasi-dualistic' interaction
between 'mind' and 'matter' in terms of a notion of primitive,
monistic self-encounter:

1) Such self-encounter is comprehensible as the self-relativisation of
a continuum that is hypothesised as: unique, contingently-existing,
self-accessible and ontologically-primitive. It is postulated as "all
that exists", in that any other sense of 'existence' whatsoever - e.g.
mental, material, mathematical - is deemed to parasitise on it in
terms of one or other, characteristically differentiated, internal
state of affairs. It is thus postulated as a maximally parsimonious
sense of existence-for-self, any diminution of which would entail
'zombification': i.e. the exclusion of any possibility of knowledge.

2) Within this universal context, self-encounter is postulated to
manifest as the mutual exchange, between reciprocally-relativised
differentiables, of a) perception; b) intention; and c) action; the
latter as the second-order derivative of a) and b) in the context of
'observation' (see below).

3) The relations of perception, intention and action are available
immediately in context, with perception and intention functionally
polarised to the 'subjective' pole, and action to the 'objective'
pole. The relation of action thus consists in 'observed' second-order
relations within a context now organised as relatively-differentiated
'content'. 'Functionally-polarised' should be understood in terms of
the emergence of 'subject' and 'object' as 'roles' played in the
overall gestalt of differentiated content-in-context.

4) Of the foregoing relational categories, the second-order action
derivative is uniquely transferable between (purely
horizonally-defined) contexts, and hence can function as information,
pattern, or signal. In this abstracted form, it is context-free, and
consequently undecipherable until reinstated in some context capable
of rendering it available for re-interpretation in terms of immediate
perception and intention.

5) The functionally-polarised 'play of attention' between subject and
object poles constitutes the 'interaction' between the quasi-dualistic
ontic and epistemic domains, or between 'mind' and 'matter'. Note the
reversal of the usual western categorisation - one *subsists* in terms
of mind (ontic) but one *observes* in terms of matter (epistemic).

I think that the foregoing represents the essential elements of - for
example - the Vedantic perspective, or that of Plotinus, the Greek
philosopher perhaps most influenced by eastern thought. It is
noteworthy, IMO, for taking seriously the mind-body distinction,
planting it firmly in a monistic context, but one which is internally
interpretable in quasi-dualistic terms. It presupposes a qualitative
notion of instantiation which is locally accessible and yet
intrinsically non-transferable out-of-context. Furthermore, it both
reverses and collapses the western dichotomy of consciousness as
epistemic and material as ontic, by grounding both as aspects of a
single category.


> 2009/8/24 David Nyman <>:
>> Having said all this, it is interesting to reconsider your formulation
>> "the brain did its thing without us understanding it, creating its own
>> context".  What is it about *being* the brain that causes this context
>> to be self-referentially available, but hides it beyond possibility of
>> recovery from 'observation'?
> Whether it can be hidden beyond the *possibility* of recovery is an
> interesting question. Certainly it would be very difficult to figure
> out what an alien brain is thinking about from observation, like
> cracking a very difficult code, but could it be made so that it's
> impossible to figure out? We would be able to figure out something
> about an alien code, such as a written language, by observing various
> regularities, but we would be unable to figure out the actual meaning
> of words unless we had some extra-language information; that is, we
> could figure out the syntax, but not the semantics. Similarly with the
> brain, we might be able to figure out certain patterns and
> regularities, but without further information obtained by connecting
> I/O devices or perhaps by obtaining the instruction manuals, we would
> have no idea what the brain activity means, let alone what it feels
> like from the brain's point of view. But would it be possible for the
> brain's activity to be deliberately obscured such that not even the
> syntax can be guessed at, the equivalent of encryption using a
> one-time pad?
> --
> Stathis Papaioannou
> >

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Received on Tue Aug 25 2009 - 01:21:28 PDT

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