Three questions & answers


Three Q/A from QUORA (on brain, philosophy, QM, NDE, consciousness)

  1. How does the brain understand philosophy?

M. The brain… understanding philosophy? My reply to this is similar to the one I gave recently to another question and which was based on Socrates’ answer to an observation that someone was making. The man saw a pool of water being stirred by a stick held by a man and said that the stick was stirring the water. To which Socrates replied: ‘Is it the stick, or the man moving the stick?’ (Which one is the real agent – the material, or the instrumental cause, in Aristotelian terms?).

Equally, is it the brain, or the mind which ‘moves’ the brain which moves the stick which stirs the water?

Is it the brain, or the mind which (using the brain as an instrument) understands philosophy?

Actually, it is consciousness (as a substrate) using the mind using the brain… Consciousness itself does not do anything

*

2. How does the theory of quantum mechanics affect our picture of consciousness?

M.The two notions (QM and consciousness) are in-commensurable in all respects, which should be obvious: a) QM is a theory referable to reality or an aspect of reality (the microcosm); consciousness, on the other hand, is an established fact, not a theory – not only a fact but that which is behind, the substratum of, all facts and movements of the mind. b) The reality that is consciousness does not need to be proven for it is immediate, direct, unstultifiable or unsublatable – everything else: objects or phenomena, thought-constructions, etc. being stultifiable.

That means that there is not even an approximation between the theory of QM and reality per se. It would be a category mistake to relate one to the other, unless using such exercise as an analogy. In this sense, there are two or three things that can be said: 1) Reality/consciousness is limitless, like the referent (or an aspect thereof) of QM, but the former is un-measurable, unlike QM which is amenable to measurement/quantification and statistical verifiability. 2) Reality is non-local (Bell’s theorem), like QM. 3) Consciousness/reality does not depend on anything, while QM is theory-dependent.

*

3. What are some scientific arguments for consciousness being able to preserve itself after the death of body?

M. There are some ‘facts’ or experiences by individuals in favor of what goes under the name of NDEs (near death experiences) and LAD (life after death), but I will restrict my answer to the teachings of Buddhism and Advaita Vedanta – and my own convictions (for what they are worth). And that, without holding a belief in the naive or popular notion of reincarnation, that is, reincarnation of the body

Consciousness (aka awareness), being the only or ultimate (exclusive) reality from the metaphysical viewpoint, is not in need of preserving itself at any time. It simply IS, and is beyond the time dimension, which is an unreality for IT. This means that there is no death – of anything or any being – , only apparent transformation of phenomena properly so called. ‘I’ (‘you’) am not a phenomenon. ‘I’ am consciousness, pure, indescribable, and immutable. Obviously, by ‘I’ I don’t mean this body-mind.

 

Two comments to last Q/A:

  1. Experiences reported by individuals are not facts and do not contribute to any form of scientific argument.

Similarly, your beliefs regarding consciousness are not scientific arguments. Attempting to use faith-based philosophical statements in place of scientific arguments is like trying to use colors to describe flavors. Even if it makes sense to you, it’s non-transferable and definitively different.

In other words, your statements may be interesting, but did not address the question that was asked.

 

M. Agree about ‘facts’ and scientific arguments. You will have noticed that I wrote ‘facts’ between apostrophes. Secondly, I also said that the view-point from which I wrote my answer derives from Buddhism and Advaita Vedanta, therefore it is philosophical. Do you think that all philosophy is irrational, or non-rational? That would include philosophy of mind, phil. of science, of mathematics…

Also, I did address the viewpoint of science re NDE, etc., given that there is continuing empirical research in these areas by brain scientists and neuro-physiologists. They work with data and, obviously, with some theories.

 

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Two answers in Quora: 1)Consciousness; 2)The spiritual path


https://www.quora.com/What-do-you-consider-the-most-apt-definition-of-consciousness/answer/Alberto-Mart%C3%ADn-2?__nsrc__=4&__snid3__=3630072118  (been repeated here? – 98 upvotes) re  consciousness

 

https://www.quora.com/How-can-the-heart-soul-be-unhardened/answer/Alberto-Mart%C3%ADn-2  (spiritual path only way)

 

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If metaphysical entities cannot be verified to exist, how can we say anything meaningful about them?


My position is that everything is metaphysical – cf. Is everything metaphysical? Quora /www.quora.com/search?q=everything+is+metaphysical

(Originally answered in Quora)

So, everything that exists is metaphysical, including language and thought: sticks and stones, trees, all bodies, etc.; IOW there is nothing that is ‘material’ or physical per se (which is a pure abstraction, or a metaphysical theory*). Language divides ‘what is’, the whole of existence, into parcels having particular meanings which, having specific referents, are not purely verbal or conceptual (i.e. language constructions), but are based on particular experiences. The experiences are either sensorial, purely mental or intellectual (thought, emotions), or intuitive, transcendental or spiritual, that is, transcending the mind; these last being metaphysical properly so called, for example pondering about, contemplating the nature of the universe, of matter, time, space, the nature of life, of origins or causality, ‘subject-and-object’, ‘value’, consciousness, mind, the meaning** of ‘soul’ or individuality (plurality). Pondering about the nature of experience and what may be called nonduality is intellectual as well as metaphysical or spiritual – this is not a neat distinction; the scope is what counts here.

*Metaphysical theories, being the product of thought (and language), are metaphysical themselves, it goes without saying. Their import or thrust “in the scheme of things” is something else.

**‘Meaning’ (a word or concept – or question mark in the mind ), merges here with its referent, ‘the thing itself’, by an act of intuition or comprehension.

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I. Metaphysics. 2. Is Advaita a trap?


  1. My position is that everything is metaphysical  

/www.quora.com/search?q=everything+is+metaphysical

So, everything that exists is metaphysical, including language and thought: sticks and stones, trees, all bodies, etc.; IOW there is nothing that is ‘material’ or physical per se (which is a pure abstraction, or a metaphysical theory*). Language divides ‘what is’, the whole of existence, into parcels having particular meanings which, having specific referents, are not purely verbal or conceptual (language constructions), but are based on particular experiences. The experiences are either sensorial, purely mental or intellectual (thought, emotions), or intuitive, transcendental or spiritual, that is, transcending the mind, these last being metaphysical properly so called, for example pondering about, contemplating the nature of the universe, of matter, time, space, the nature of life, of origins or causality, ‘subject-and-object’, ‘value’, consciousness, mind, the meaning** of ‘soul’ or individuality (plurality). Pondering about the nature of experience and what may be called nonduality is intellectual as well as metaphysical or spiritual – this is not a neat distinction; the scope is what counts here. Continue reading

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Is duality real?


Subject-object – Advaita Vision comment

Anon.: ‘No matter who says what, it is your job to look directly at your own experience/mind without the images of models, teachers, books, and like minded people, and to recognize how the subject-object dichotomy comes about. It is not about looking for moksha or any kind of release from the present state. Self Realization and the rest of the goals that are promulgated have nothing to do with it. They are only images that get regurgitated by thinking. There is no substance there.

My reply today (7.10.18):

‘How the subject-object dichotomy comes about.’

Any Advaitin worth his/her salt knows that the dichotomy subject-object is not transcended by the unsupported mind, which in itself is inert. Empirical experience seems to be undeniable, and with it that polarity, but one knows from Shankara – and only from Shankara – that it is based on ignorance, that is, failing to distinguish between the Self and the intellect or mind, which leads to the superimposition of either one on the other. Thus, the non-dual and undifferentiated Self – alone real – appears to be an agent and a knower, whereas in reality It is a mere witness (there being no other witnesses); and It is so by Its mere presence, not actively. The dichotomy referred to does not exist – in reality.

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1) Knowledge and the Vedas; 2) Is everything metaphysical?


Do the Vedas really contain any advanced knowledge as so many people claim they do? (Quora)

I would say the Vedas contain the most fundamental and ‘advanced’ knowledge there is, though usually portrayed  in the form of paradox (analogy, metaphor, story, etc.), so that one has to crack the code in order to find the wealth hidden in them. That knowledge is not like empirical science, which is cumulative and provisional, and can be said to be somehow contained in the latter, even if in embryonic or potential form. That knowledge or perspective is metaphysical rather than mystical. According to the Vedas there is one and only reality: consciousness (brahman, the Absolute, etc.), which pervades the whole universe; it is immanent in it as well as transcendent… “the smallest of the small, the largest of the large”. It cannot be measured or understood by the mind, for which it is ineffable, but it is that by which the mind comprehends… it cannot be expressed in words but by which the tongue speaks… it is eye of the eye, ear of the ear, mind of the mind, as expressed in the Upanishads.

Modern physics is having a hard time trying to explain away what consciousness is in terms of physical phenomena (neuronal activity in the brain), but consciousness is not an irreducible phenomenon or datum; it is reality itself, everything being comprehended in it (theories, doubts, projections, emotions, things, thoughts, intelligence, observer and observed, you and I). For the Vedas reality is one, and present physics is trying to find out in which way it is so (‘theory of everything’, ‘unificatory theory…’). Not all physicists are reductionist, some of them having seemingly mutated into philosophers with an understanding of the core of Vedic teachings.

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Is everything metaphysical? (Quora)

‘Is everything metaphysical?’ My answer is a resounding Yes! despite the widely accepted, prevailing, physicalist theory: everything is reducible to matter/energy. This last position is being insistently questioned ever since the rise of the new physics (the role of the observer, uncertainty principle, etc.). Nobody knows what matter is intrinsically, and why an atom is an atom – its nature is a mystery; scientifically we can only talk about mechanism, ‘behavior’ or function, in relation to physical processes. Thus, everything is metaphysical – including tables and chairs or, rather, the material they are made of, wood (hilos) – which means non-reducible to the physical. Psychology, mind, selfhood are equally non reducible to the physical – nor are they purely mental or purely conceptual – , thus they are metaphysical, however psychologists may protest. ‘Man’, ‘personhood’, are metaphysical or philosophical notions.

Metaphysical doctrines are couched in LANGUAGE (concepts, plus logic and reasoning -tarka), which de facto is dualistic, but that is a springboard and a conditio sine qua non for realization or uniting with the TRUTH or REALITY which is indivisible, non-relational, and inexpressible by the mind (anubhava).

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Why there are ignorance and evil in life?


Alberto Martín, studied in depth Plato and Shankara; also AK Coomaraswamy, etc.

Life is like a riddle, or a play – it is a mystery, not unlike the mystery plays of Medieval Europe. Brahman /reality/God manifests the whole of its grandeur, splendid beauty and Life is that manifestation, an unimaginable and superb spectacle. But there are obvious limitations in it from the perspective of a being such as man (a self-reflecting being): there are the undeniable facts of death and decay, as the young Buddha contemplated in front of him when he left his palace, and that needs an explanation, since man’s capacities are also obviously limited.

These are the facts of existence, and it is useless to ask the Supreme Being and origin of life on earth why He did not create existence without death and decay being it’s inevitable and unwelcome companions. So man has to learn and accept that there cannot be growth and reproduction – no life – without there also being dissolution of forms. This is the play of opposites inherent in all life, primarily the pair male-female (yang / yin). This play is not just a metaphor, but a reality. Without this play – which is manifestation itself – there would not be life and its disclosure and endless development and reproduction.

Man then learns that there cannot be unity without multiplicity, not one without two… and that he is, in his most intimate being or essence, that Unity. It is in the One that reality, completion, and intelligibility – and beauty – resides. God/Brahman did not make a mistake or willingly produced something deficient, incomplete.

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