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Veggie dancer

Is there a point?

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Veggie dancer

So a conversation about crows took quite a tangent when we got onto 'what is the meaning of life?' Ha ha. So I thought it might be time to start a new thread...

is there any point to life? To the universe's existence? Is it all a fluke with no purpose? Or is there a reason everything is here? Do we ourselves decide the purpose of our existence or is there a pre-existing reason to be? 

 

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Moonsmith

Well I can think of one - but as many folk here have heard it before, I'll wait a bit 🙂

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Earthdragon

From where I am this morning:

Poetically: To open myself, see "heaven in a wildflower", experience beauty in all its forms, to commune not to consume. To grow with balance.

Rationally: We have evolved to become self aware and able to analyse ourselves and integrate our levels of being (emotional, scientific, intuitive etc) into a coherent and developmental approach to life in this universe. To proceed to do that to the best of our ability is the purpose of life. This is played out in a rich tapestry where there is creation as well as conflict. Integrating our response to those facets of life is part of the process. Finding elements of our being that reside amidst either creation or conflict brings new possibilities.

Is there a pre-existing purpose? I don't know whether there is or isn't . Choice and self awareness creates its own agenda in my view. Distilling our choices as we evolve may well be in accord with a pre-existing purpose but that would have to be realised through a validating experiential process that perhaps cannot and should not be conveyed to others? The Tao that can be spoken is not the Tao.

Is it all  a fluke? 

Chance is in built into the universe it seems. But there are also seemingly hard and fast rules in terms of physics. Where do these rules come from? Why do certain mathematical rules governing the physicality of matter and energy? Any takers?

In terms of meaning and purpose spiritually are there rules for consciousness and sentience? We each inhabit our own subjective universe so have to answer that for ourselves. Recognising patterns is one way forward into this...?

Oh I'm overdue for my midweek morning meditation. (Not flippant but true )

Look forward to reading other's thoughts. What about from where you're at V Dancer? 

 

Edited by Earthdragon
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Ellinas

The OP is incapable of definitive answer.

If you believe there is some sort of greater reality which gives existence a purpose, then in your universe you have that higher purpose.

If you believe there is no such greater reality, but you create your own purpose within the existence with which we've been landed, then in your universe you have that personally created purpose.

If you believe there is no purpose, then in your universe you have no reason to exist.  You just do.

Personally, whilst I can see some logic in the position: "life has no meaning, but there are many meaningful lives", I tend to come to the conclusion that this is mere sophistry.  Either the cosmos (or whatever form one attributes to deity) holds us in its' dreams, or our existence is utterly trivial, our destruction (and that of all else) meaningless.

The logic of the position I stated in quotes in the last paragraph depends on the assumption that "meaning" can be limited to individual personal choice.  The position creates the situation that I can give myself meaning, and meaning to others insofar as they relate to me, however tenuously.  Beyond that,  "purpose" and "meaning" make no sense.  Whether you accept that position depends on a value judgment as to whether chance existence is worthy of being elevated to the level of being "meaningful".  James Thomson (BV) had a view on that:

Lo, thus, as prostrate, "In the dust I write
  My heart's deep languor and my soul's sad tears."
Yet why evoke the spectres of black night
  To blot the sunshine of exultant years?
Why disinter dead faith from mouldering hidden?
Why break the seals of mute despair unbidden,
  And wail life's discords into careless ears?

Because a cold rage seizes one at whiles
  To show the bitter old and wrinkled truth
Stripped naked of all vesture that beguiles,
  False dreams, false hopes, false masks and modes of youth;
Because it gives some sense of power and passion
In helpless innocence to try to fashion
  Our woe in living words howe'er uncouth.

I happen to believe in an ultimate consciousness.  I may be wrong.  But, practically, life for me has whatever purpose that ultimate consciousness dreams up.

You pays your money, you creates your own universe, you takes as much purpose as you can find...  Or not, as that poor old poet.

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wandering_raven

I'm inclined to think that there isn't a point to life beyond the fact that we just exist... but the universe we live in, life, planet Earth, being an intelligent, self-aware lifeform within it is all so amazing - do we need a purpose besides that?

There's so much that we don't know though... 

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Moonsmith
On 9/5/2018 at 10:24 PM, Ellinas said:

The OP is incapable of definitive answer

....... as are they all! 🙂 

All that any of us have regarding [nearly?] everything is belief.  If scientists are your most credible reporters then you build your universe differently than you would were a priest or magician more credible to you.

In this case I do not need to make a single choice.  Some purposes are apparent  but they aren't necessarily uniform.

Life strives.

At the individual level life struggles for survival.  Its focus/purpose is to stay alive sufficiently long to reproduce offspring that can reproduce.  Along the way this requires sustenance.  Individual lives seem to require that that their offspring survive above those of others.  They seem to want to reproduce themselves; an unchanging pattern of ME. Individuals seem to require stasis as long as it is my pattern that survives.

At species level there seems to be a different imperative: to exploit an environment as widely as possible.  According to Darwin this involves change rather than stasis.  DNA seems to be bent on colonisation and is currently expending Earths resources in its attempts to leave the planet.  There is a lot to colonise out there.  The genes of my species are greedy and DNA shall piggyback all the way!  DNA had to explore a lot of options before it found a way off the planet.  One of those was the Corvidae.

Perhaps our departure has more significance than the tiny polluted junkyard we leave behind.  DNA won't desert Earth until it is incinerated even if it is in the form molds and bacteria. [Been there, done that.  NEXT!]

Is the planet alive?  Well we are back to belief and the credibility of the reporters.  Back in the 60's I was intrigued by a book called "The Life of a Cell" [I think]  Can't remember the author but I'll try and find it.  It drew parallels between our planet and a cell.  Right now I'm not convinced but if you look at the planet like a coral reef - dead rock covered in a thin skin of living DNA then I can go with that thought.  Individuals explore, species exploit, DNA pervades.  Purpose?  I'm getting there 🙂

So where are philosophy, art and appreciation of patterns in nature, including mathematics and physics,  in this exploitation of resources?  I do not know but I can conjecture that these form part of the driving force that moves this particular iteration of DNA forward.

Why?  What for?  Here I go again!  You've head it before.

Well:  The universe, via DNA, has become aware of itself.  This isn't conjecture any more than the mind formulating this post is conjecture.  I may be the only individual that believes that my mind exists but there it is - the universe believing that its mind exists and being curious about the rest of the universe.  Am I, an individual reproducing member of a species that is propagating DNA across the third rock from the sun and peering beyond its home pebble, part of the sense system of a universe that is growing in self awareness?

Of course there may be other ways in which the universe is aware but my priests have not [yet] included this thought in their orthodoxy.  My magicians have not conjured a key to that one.  They are however exploring that possibility.

ED -  I may pick up  your gauntlet about laws later.  I've written enough just now.  I'm off  to bed, it's a bit late for me.

BUGGER!

Just seen the cover of this weeks installment of my holy book, my grimoire!   "The You Delusion!"   I'll read it and may amend the above 🙂

Edited by Moonsmith
You didn't think I could write this lot in one go did you?
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Ellinas

Looking at your reason for edit...

I am not surprised by how much you wrote.

I am impressed that you found so many ways to say "In the end, it's the universe wot does it..."

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Moonsmith
3 hours ago, Ellinas said:

I am impressed that you found so many ways to say "In the end, it's the universe wot does it..." 

Once one accepts that everything is the universe and that by definition the universe is everything then this becomes inevitable.  Existence becomes a monologue, a single actor stage centre.  

What is exciting is that we who sense the universe do not know the whole monologue.  We are constantly looking for the poetry, the rhyme and the reason. We are lifted by natures patterns and symmetry but keep finding asymmetries and what look like blemishes and thank goodness we are incapable of leaving those alone.  We are Homo quaerit, the seekers after truth who are doomed not to find it 🙂

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Veggie dancer

Sorry I've been a bit slow to reply it's been hard to get my thoughts together and a hand free to type with baby changing and feeding etc: and caring for the little one is definitely my primary purpose at the moment 😉 I believe that there is purpose in existence and that it's purpose is to live. And to appreciate existence maybe. As wandering hawk asked isn't aren't wonders of life and the universe enough of a reason? As moonsmith said: life strives. I think there is a will to exist: not like a god's will I think I might mean something like a law of physics the ED asked about.

On a personal level I think we decide our own purpose. And we can make ourselves more or less useful to the purpose of the species too. maybe we could make ourselves more or less useful in relation to other species and the planet. In relation to the purpose of existence over all I don't think any individual is very important really and we probably can't go all that wrong as an individual but then everything is just a lot of very tiny parts each with their own tiny purpose in the workings of the whole thing so in the grand scheme there is a point to every tiny part just a really small one.

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Ellinas

Part of the issue here, probably, is the word "purpose" itself.

It can mean both that which is decided by the greater consciousness (which I am using as a neutral-ish term for deity) and that which has it's place within the greater mechanism.

A consideration that leads to the seemingly paradoxical position that there is no purpose to existence, but we each have a purpose within existence.

Which confirms that being doomed not to find the truth also dooms us to many a circular pathway on our individual quests for understanding.

"He keeps right on a changin', for the better or the worse,

Searching for a shrine he's never found.

Never knowing if believing is a blessing or a curse,

Or if the going up was worth the coming down"

(From "The Pilgrim", Kris Kristoffersen)

Veggie - I suspect your little one is your universe for the time being.  Enjoy the purpose your universe gives you.

Edited by Ellinas
A further thought...

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Capricorn

My View (which I arrived at independently but which is likewise taught by my tradition of non-dual Sanatan Dharma) is that the reason for reality is Self experiencing Self - the One Self experiencing Itself/Herself as many selves. From the perspective of small self/small I this gives generally two options: 1) just live your life under the illusion of being a separate entity (which is what most beings do), and you participate in the grand purpose anyway; 2) work towards realisation that the 'Illusion of Separation' is a 'Beautiful Lie' (as I have coined a Western term for 'Maya'), and that really what you think of as 'I' is the great Self experiencing Itself/Herself as 'you', (which does not exclude enjoyment of the particular life in question), in which case you also participate in the grand purpose - just to a relatively greater degree of awareness.

The difference between the two is that in the fist case there will remain the question 'What is the Purpose of it all?'; whereas in the second case the question is answered.

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Moonsmith

I have been away for a few days on the South coast and as usual took a bursting Kindle with me.  My reading included Rumi.  This brought me to a thought.

Capricorn, When I read your post I thought you had beaten me to it - what you write in many ways paralleled the thoughts that I have come to/might be coming to - but then......not quite ......and the "not quite" grew 🙂

On 9/13/2018 at 12:31 PM, Capricorn said:

non-dual Sanatan Dharma) is that the reason for reality is Self experiencing Self - the One Self experiencing Itself/Herself as many selves.

Just in case newcomers do not know, I write from the perspective of Deistic Pantheist whose thinking has very little spiritual reference other than my own process and my interpretation of current  thinking in physics.  There should be no need to prefix "Pantheist" with the term "Deistic" but Pantheism has recently, to some extent, been hijacked by Atheist thinkers.  I am certainly not atheist.

Capricorn, I would use the term "itself," as neither gender nor sex are significant at the level of the universe and I find deistic anthropomorphism distracting - but that's just me.

Ellinas, if I have you right, you think in terms of a creative entity that pre-courses the apparently material universe.  Please forgive me if I'm wrong but I seem to remember the term "You pays your money and you takes your choice,"  when considering the sequence: deity/universe or universe/deity. I have heretofore accepted this and passed on. 

Reading Rumi just a few days ago has shown me that in fact my view differs significantly from that of both Capricorn and Ellinas.  Until last Wednesday I might have donned a fez, shrugged and muttered "Ok, chicken - egg, egg  - chicken"  The thought expressed below is not new but the significance of a huge difference between an "all knowing" and a "self discovering"  universe is.

Rumi [A Sufi Muslim] suggests that the divine knows all and we [I presume that he means human beings] discover the divine through appropriate action and eventually become "One with the divine Ocean."

"....partial intellect has the capacity to learn but it needs to be taught, and the teacher is the Universal Intellect." from Fihi mafihi   

Back rushed all my thinking as I parted from Christianity so long ago.  Why are we so far from the bloody finishing line?  Why are the hurdles so effing high?  Why do we [as individual and species] crash and hurt ourselves when we could have been helped or warned by the "all knowing"?  Why are we humans supposedly to be punished for failure or instinctive activity? Why can't the the "all knowing" be the "all telling" and write in big letters and small words? Why do those who claim to speak for the "all knowing" have such huge human and opposing political agendas?

..... because the "all knowing" isn't!  We are not discovering what Deity/the Universe already knows. We [all of DNA] are revealing the universe to itself.  We are the awakening awareness of Deity/Universe.

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Capricorn
47 minutes ago, Moonsmith said:

...

Capricorn, I would use the term "itself," as neither gender nor sex are significant at the level of the universe and I find deistic anthropomorphism distracting - but that's just me.

...

From the Shakta point of view the denomination of the Absolute as 'Mother' (Ma, Mata), 'Goddess' (Devi), 'She', and 'Power' (Shakti) is not anthropomorphic. For one, these are not terms exclusively pertaining to humans; and two they are also not meant in a way pertaining to biological gender. Rather in observing that the great It acts like Mother & Power is the reason we call It 'She' when we don't call It 'It' 😉 [N.B. In English that is, because the Sanskrit is way more elegant. Conversely, that's the reason why Sanskrit texts have no neutral gender translations for the Absolute, because there's no neutral [used] in the Sanskrit original - hence we end up with 'God' and 'He' in the translations, which gives an impression/emphasis not intended by the original.] 

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Capricorn
1 hour ago, Moonsmith said:

...

Rumi [A Sufi Muslim] suggests that the divine knows all and we [I presume that he means human beings] discover the divine through appropriate action and eventually become "One with the divine Ocean."

"....partial intellect has the capacity to learn but it needs to be taught, and the teacher is the Universal Intellect." from Fihi mafihi   

Back rushed all my thinking as I parted from Christianity so long ago.  Why are we so far from the bloody finishing line?  Why are the hurdles so effing high?  Why do we [as individual and species] crash and hurt ourselves when we could have been helped or warned by the "all knowing"?  Why are we humans supposedly to be punished for failure or instinctive activity? Why can't the the "all knowing" be the "all telling" and write in big letters and small words? Why do those who claim to speak for the "all knowing" have such huge human and opposing political agendas?

..... because the "all knowing" isn't!  We are not discovering what Deity/the Universe already knows. We [all of DNA] are revealing the universe to itself.  We are the awakening awareness of Deity/Universe.

Moonsmith, I get this line of thinking. Have been there for a long time myself. But it still is within the context of dualistic thinking. As is anything within the Muslim parameters - even the mystic (Sufi). 

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Moonsmith

Capricorn,

We each have our own truth.  According to my truth: no one's truth is any more or less valid than anyone else's truth. 

2 hours ago, Capricorn said:

Moonsmith, I get this line of thinking. Have been there for a long time myself. But it still is within the context of dualistic thinking.

Hardly 🙂

According to my truth:

Universe is everything including me.  "Everything" exists by its presence, its absence, its impact and its spirit. [my definitions apply]

Universe is Deity including me.

I am Universe.

How monist do you want me to be? 

Ah!  Just thought!  Are you reading anything spiritual or deistic outside the "material" universe in my writing?  By my thinking the "real," tangible universe is what deity is.  There is no sacred or mundane because there is only one universe and there is no comparator.

......... according to my truth.

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Ellinas

MS:

When you say:

"Ellinas, if I have you right, you think in terms of a creative entity that pre-courses the apparently material universe.  Please forgive me if I'm wrong but I seem to remember the term "You pays your money and you takes your choice,"  when considering the sequence: deity/universe or universe/deity. I have heretofore accepted this and passed on.  "

You are sort of part right-ish.

I have, quite literally, no view (suspicion, maybe, but not a view) as to the personality or creativeness of the ultimate consciousness.  I see it more as a principle of awareness in a purist sense, albeit without denying the possibility of something more like a thinking being.  My bottom line: without it, I could not be aware - because DNA is otherwise just as much a collection of inanimate chemicals as my brain houses a series of meaningless electrochemical urges.  The capacity to see, think, understand, is predicated on my mind being a discrete manifestation of the ultimate quality of consciousness.

This is "god" - but personality may not exist any higher than "the gods".  I tend to regard discrete consciousness as persistent because it is a discrete manifestation of an all-pervading principle.  I may be wrong.

Thought just occurred to me - does this tie in to Platonic forms...?  Not sure.

I do not agree - or disagree, for that matter - that this ultimate consciousness creates anything apart from the capacity for consciousness within the material universe.  "As above, so below", therefore may have a rather limited and specific meaning.

That you pays and takes is true of all of us in all we believe.  My account is currently set up as indicated above, and, to some extent, I refuse to issue the cheque either to pay the cost or choose the product.

Revealing the universe to itself seems to me almost to predicate the universe as a hive mind of which we are the drones.  That may be accurate and may not be inconsistent with the ideas I've set out above - though I think the chicken-egg illusion may arise insofar as that mind remains with you more as an emergent property.  For me, what emerges is the manifestation of the property rather than the property itself.

This has caused me to think a little further than usual and along lines I've not fully thrashed out with myself, let alone the universe.  It is entirely possible I'm talking utter nonsense.  Hmm.

Capricorn has a point regarding the inaccuracy of language.  It is difficult enough to express this in my native language.

Edited by Ellinas
The endless quest to make sense and spell reasonably correctly

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Moonsmith
2 hours ago, Ellinas said:

I do not agree - or disagree, for that matter - that this ultimate consciousness creates anything apart from the capacity for consciousness within the material universe.

Wow!  To do that would be to create the [current] material universe [in my view]

2 hours ago, Ellinas said:

Revealing the universe to itself seems to me almost to predicate the universe as a hive mind of which we are the drones.

....... not to a Pantheist.  "Mind,   the gap" 🙂    There isn't a gap except in the mind.  There is only one universe and the entity that I call "me" is just a fraction of its atoms.

"Drones"?  Is your nose a drone or nearer to being one of the integral sensors of your universe?

"Revealing" [my word] would imply that it is all there in place ready to be discovered.  Maybe it isn't.  Like you, I am on the edge of my thinking here but perhaps, just perhaps there isn't a difference between "discovering" and "creating".  It certainly seems that physics is being granted most of the cosmic components that it is looking for.  This was a thought that arose in the 60's as part of "The Tao of Physics."  At one level I know this to be true.  Discovering that magic works would be to create an element, maybe a fundamental law, of one's universe - not mine but for lots of other folk.

Edited by Moonsmith
dunno - I need a drink!

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Ellinas

A conflation of discovery and creation would, to my mind, raise the question whether, in the end, there is anything other than mind.

My comments had assumed that physical reality was not the same as awareness - that the latter permeates rather than creates the former.  But it is certainly not the only viewpoint.

Not sure that I would class my nose as a drone - but I am a community of cells and I strongly suspect each has an element of awareness.  As such, maybe I am a hive mind as much as I may be part of the greater hive.

As far as I understand you, it may be that the ideas you are putting forward to amount to a "universe as organism" concept - according to which you are a cluster of the nerve endngs in this part of the body.  But to take that view may question the reality of individual consciousness rather than it being a part of a cosmic consciousness.  Which may be where you are coming from - the only way I can see of avoiding a hive type analogy is to dispense with any idea of the cosmic mind being nothing more than the sum of its' various discrete elements.  I think, but am unsure, that the rather restricted concept of consciousness that I have suggested also achieves that.

Whether that concept is anything like correct is another matter.  Unless it is true in my universe because I've thought of it...

 

Edited by Ellinas
Because thought is not static

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Moonsmith

Thinking!  This week's comic applies.  Digesting but not necessarily absorbing or believing.  Thinking continues.  TBA.

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Veggie dancer
2 hours ago, Ellinas said:

As far as I understand you, it may be that the ideas you are putting forward to amount to a "universe as organism" concept - according to which you are a cluster of the nerve endngs in this part of the body.  But to take that view may question the reality of individual consciousness rather than it being a part of a cosmic consciousness.  Which may be where you are coming from - the only way I can see of avoiding a hive type analogy is to dispense with any idea of the cosmic mind being nothing more than the sum of its' various discrete elements. 

That would pretty much be my current view on the way things are but I don't see that being part of a cosmic consciousness necessarily means you can't also have your own individual consciousness too. why would you necessarily have to dispense with the idea of the cosmic mind being anything more than the sum of its various discrete elements? 

Edited by Veggie dancer
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Capricorn
On 9/15/2018 at 5:42 PM, Moonsmith said:

Capricorn,

...

Ah!  Just thought!  Are you reading anything spiritual or deistic outside the "material" universe in my writing?  By my thinking the "real," tangible universe is what deity is.  There is no sacred or mundane because there is only one universe and there is no comparator.

......... according to my truth.

Yes! - I did read a "comparator" into your post - hence why I replied as I did. Miscommunication, sorry.

I don't agree though that 'tangible universe' is all that is. In my View & Tradition the 4 elements (or 5, if one wanted to include 'space'/'zero-point energy field') are only "level" (tattva) 1-4 (respectively 5) on a 37 "level" spectrum which makes up the Whole.  

Edited by Capricorn
edited to add

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Moonsmith

I suspect that the difference between myself and a Buddhist is that I do not believe that reality is an illusion.

I DO believe that all I can ever know of reality is the model that is built by my brain, my personal interpretation of the shadows of reality.

However, at the moment,  I do believe that there IS an ultimate material reality that is providing the stimulus to which my senses are responding.  I have not yet accepted the thought that it might be the other way around and it is my [the universe'] awareness that is creating the ultimate reality - the universe.  WIP!

Ellinas - interesting thought that each cell has an awareness.  As you are probably aware, for many millions of years that was true for life on this planet.  Only unicellular organisms existed.  Unicellular life today is "aware" in that it moves towards nutriment and away from excessive heat or acidity/alkalinity.  It is conjectured that two cells combined and mulit-cellular life exploded.   Typically, evolution does not abandon a trait until it becomes counter productive in a given environment.  [Big cooling elephant ears - useful in Africa, less so in Asia, dangerous in an ice  age.] Of course that would imply [at least I would have to infer] that "mind" is always "hive mind".  I could conjecture that the boundary of mind could then more easily extend beyond my body but as I have no awareness of this, it isn't so in my universe [yet].

...... and sitting in my background, slowly being digested is Tegmark's "consciousness of matter".

Edited by Moonsmith

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Veggie dancer
1 hour ago, Moonsmith said:

...... and sitting in my background, slowly being digested is Tegmark's "consciousness of matter".

I googled that and found this: I don't really understand that do you have any more of an idea about what this is getting at? I am particularly wondering why must consciousness be defined by being a unified whole that is impossible to divide into independent parts?

https://medium.com/the-physics-arxiv-blog/why-physicists-are-saying-consciousness-is-a-state-of-matter-like-a-solid-a-liquid-or-a-gas-5e7ed624986d

it says:

Tegmark’s approach is to think of consciousness as a state of matter, like a solid, a liquid or a gas. ....... consciousness must have two specific traits. First, the system must be able to store and process large amounts of information. In other words consciousness is essentially a phenomenon of information. And second, this information must be integrated in a unified whole so that it is impossible to divide into independent parts. That reflects the experience that each instance of consciousness is a unified whole that cannot be decomposed into separate components.

I don't really understand that do you have any more of an idea about what this is getting at? I am particularly wondering why must consciousness be defined by being a unified whole that is impossible to divide into independent parts? 

 

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Veggie dancer
On 9/17/2018 at 10:37 AM, Capricorn said:

I don't agree though that 'tangible universe' is all that is. In my View & Tradition the 4 elements (or 5, if one wanted to include 'space'/'zero-point energy field') are only "level" (tattva) 1-4 (respectively 5) on a 37 "level" spectrum which makes up the Whole.  

I'm confused what you mean by the numbered 'levels' is that like dimensions?.

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Moonsmith
1 hour ago, Veggie dancer said:

And second, this information must be integrated in a unified whole so that it is impossible to divide into independent parts. That reflects the experience that each instance of consciousness is a unified whole that cannot be decomposed into separate components.

Veggie

My understanding :-

Tegmark is not suggesting that ALL consciousness must be whole but that individual "instances of consciousness" are indivisible.  You, or at least "your consciousness" is an "instance of consciousness" or  you are a discrete conscious system on your own.  That is what is "indivisible".  Your consciousness is [as far as I know so far] totally separate/divided from mine.

New paragraph because this is me guessing not Tegmark conjecturing [big difference]:  It may be very important that, while I am one with Universe, my consciousness is isolated so that differing experiences are possible.  Only this way [I think] can differing interpretations occur, comparisons be made and learning happen.

This "integrated wholeness of consciousness" excites me on a different level too.  I have a suspicion that our perceptions stem, not from the sensing of an individual entity by an individual sense organ and then it being referred to a particular shelf in the memory.  I am beginning to think that the whole conscious brain fires at any stimulus.  Take a red rose for example.  I do not just see a red rose but I am flooded with a mass of associations of differing importance in my experience - roses growing, being cultivated [a gashed hand, hospitals], lovers to whom I've given roses; canal barges, fishing failures etc etc almost ad infinitum.   I think I'm coming to the thought tht it isn't which parts of my brain [information access] that are significant in my perception of this rose but the varying priority with which it stimulates THE WHOLE of my consciousness.  Your priority will be very different.  We cannot see the same rose.

If we pursue Tegmark, then Elinas' "hive mind" isn't conscious at cellular level within this conjecture but it is possible that the whole hive might be.   The cells are certainly sensitive, sensing and reacting.  What information do they reference I wonder?  I shall need to understand a lot more about how the hive communicates and transacts before I take hive mind on board as a belief.

Veggie - This is conjecture on Tegmark's part.  He is still feeling his way through this too.

Edited by Moonsmith
...to add - "so am I :)"
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Ellinas

"An awareness" in any single cell and "awareness" in any sense of consciousness that we recognise likely would be very different things.  However, the actions of co-operative, hive type insects is suggestive of a possible cumulative form of consciousness.

This does not rule out that such a consciousness would be part of a greater whole - just as any single bee likely would be unaware of the cumulative whole of the hive mind, or the single neurone in my pre-frontal cortex would be aware of my typing this post.

Likewise, I may be (and am, if it exists) utterly unaware of what passes the mind of a greater cosmic consciousness, and all the grades between me and it.

It may be also that the greater is as unaware of the "awareness" of its' constituents as the constituents are of the whole.  I don't know of what (if anything) the skin cell on my fingertip is aware.

In such a situation, the question of whether an individual consciousness is actually, as opposed to apparently, discrete, would be rather difficult to answer.

Do I believe all this?  No, I don't think so.  But I acknowledge it as a possibility.

It also occurs to me that none of this is necessarily inconsistent with the idea of an ultimate principle of awareness that underpins all.  Neither is it required for such an ultimate principle

In the end, there is nothing about a brain that screams at me the word "consciousness".  It's just a wet sponge of electrochemical impulses.  Consciousness, it seems to me, remains an intractable problem.  To me, the most surprising thing is that we are conscious of that problem.

 

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Moonsmith
28 minutes ago, Ellinas said:

To me, the most surprising thing is that we are conscious of that problem.

THAT is what makes our species so special. 

That "mind/consciousness is contained in the wet sponge of a brain is indicated by the malfunctions in thinking by damage to that sponge.  This is a very productive area of neuroscience.  Wife - hat. Hat - wife.

Have you seen the research into swarms and flocks of birds that seem to behave like organic entities?  I read that all that is required to simulate this effect is to provide the individual component with two instructions.  1. Stay as close to the swarm as you can.  2. Stay at least X mms away from any other individual.  Secondary instructions concern staying clear of the ground and other obstacles as well as perceived threats.  It is possible to get hundreds of aerial drones to swarm with just these instructions.

 

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Ellinas

Swarm, maybe.

Attack an enemy using a specialised technique (Asian honey bees defending their hive against certain types of wasp - basically they cook it to death), defending against specific infections (Amazonian - if I remember correctly - ants banishing to a safe distance individuals exhibiting symptoms of a certain fungal infection), these seem a little more involved than a simple "stay close but not too close" instruction.

I'm not sure that the idea that the brain contains consciousness because brain damage affects cognition is not something of a non-sequitur.  Even if I do follow that line of thought, I am equally unclear that it takes me anywhere useful.  A malfunctioning radio receiver may produce squeaks and whistles when tuned to a station, or spit out station A when tuned to station B - but that does not mean that it "contains" the radio waves.  The broadcast remains intact and correct despite the erroneous manifestation of sound.  Nor does a software malfunction that causes a computer to identify command "A" as command "B" mean that the hard drive contains the awareness of the person at the keyboard.  Cognitive failure may - but only may - point to consciousness being local.  Even if consciousness is local, this says nothing about whether consciousness is emergent or (perhaps temporarily) resident.

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Moonsmith

Hmmmm -

OP - Is there a point?

If consciousness is something other than a brain function is there a point to it?

Well, I'm taking this slowly as I'm thinking as I type, mostly stuff I've hashed around in my wet sponge but I'm taking the risk of new thinking arising as I do so.

The analogy of brain with computer hardware only works to a degree.  The best way i can respond is to say that neither hardware nor operating system are what represents consciousness.  By definition, consciousness when switched off it's not there 🙂  I am currently understanding that consciousness is the outcome of the processing of information, a living dynamic entity that isn't cells, the nerves or even the electron streams but information flux and flow.

On 9/23/2018 at 10:59 AM, Ellinas said:

Even if consciousness is local, this says nothing about whether consciousness is emergent or (perhaps temporarily) resident.

So:  In my view consciousness is local and emergent.  What I mean by local is that it is confined within my nervous system [there is some evidence that nerve ganglions in solar plexus, spine and even legs can carry out some "brain functions".  Emergent in that it develops firstly in a foetus and then after birth.  There is much evidence showing that it can halt at any point in that emergence.

We can never know another mind but the evolutionary story demonstrates the emergence of the equipment that I believe brings about consciousness via speciation.

So, is there a point?  We see nature exploring all sorts of dead ends but we rarely see it wasting a resource.  I believe that there is a point to consciousness.  There are plenty of neuroscientists who disagree and say that it is simply a bi-product of the need to reason or who can't see a point at all. 

Now, as I have said previously, if the universe is not omniscient and we are the universe discovering ourself then there is a point.  That discovery is being brought about by everything that we are including consciousness.

If the universe [and presumably something that lies beyond it] is completely known to some supreme being/existence and conciousness emanates in some way from it - how does it transmit?   Sorry if that is a simplistic question but it needs an answer. I am familiar with the input mechanisms of my cranial computer even if I am not certain how many there are.  I used to have five senses, then it went up to eight and people are now suggesting seven or eleven.  Be that as it may they are connected to me like keyboard and touchpad.  I am not aware that I am on line to anything.  I have canceled my subscription to the prayer app.

If the universe [and presumably something that lies beyond it] is completely known to some supreme being/existence "What's the point?"  Why will it only reveal a hint of itself to us after we have built a bloody great collider?  Why not just develop some more convincing priests?

As always this is just my wet sponge interpreting my limited awareness.  Everyone else has their own interpretation which is as valid to them as mine is to me - it's is a bit wobbly right now but it will settle.

Sorry if there are typos etc. but the bread is cooked and I'll be out of time by the time I get back.

Break is baked but my thinking may only be half so.

 

 

Edited by Moonsmith
to break a circular argument.
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Veggie dancer
On 9/22/2018 at 6:30 PM, Moonsmith said:

If we pursue Tegmark, then Elinas' "hive mind" isn't conscious at cellular level within this conjecture but it is possible that the whole hive might be.  The cells are certainly sensitive, sensing and reacting.  What information do they reference I wonder?  I shall need to understand a lot more about how the hive communicates and transacts before I take hive mind on board as a belief.

Ok: I'm thinking the hive can be a consciousness. And that an individual can be both a consciousness in its own right and part of a separate hive consciousness. Even though the same matter is a part of both I don't think it breaks tegmarks 'rule' that a consciousness must be a unified whole that is impossible to break into parts because if you took the hive apart it's consciousness would cease to exist just like if you took me apart mine would. (Probably) 

hmm not sure what he would make of someone with multiple personality disorder: would that be more than one consciousness in one body?

 

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