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Conciousness as the definition of existence

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EventHorizon
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Conciousness as the definition of existence

Post by EventHorizon » January 5th, 2019, 7:59 pm

I'm probably off-base here so I guess I'm asking more so to poke holes in my thoughts.

1) non-being is impossible a la Parmenides' "is not". Thus existence must exist.

2) Existence must exist in such a way that what is outside of it is not non-existence. The line between existence and non-existence can not be analogous to the line that separates an inside from an outside.

3) Consciousness is this dividing line that details existence. Consciousness itself is the very shape of reality, the form of existence. Without Consciousness of existence there would be non-being, and similarly without existence there would be no Consciousness, and so non-being. The two arise equally and are dependent. A dependence of the objective on the subjective, and vice versa.

*I don't believe our Consciousness is necessarily necessary. It seems this form of Consciousness is still allowed to he the result of evolutionary game theory with the above points. If there were only infrared-sensing consciousnesses then that would be existence, but existence could still exist.



I'm not quite sure what connects point 2 and point 3 though... I'm probably wrong somewhere!

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Re: Conciousness as the definition of existence

Post by ktz » January 6th, 2019, 12:28 am

Sounds reminiscent of George Berkeley's case for subjective idealism. If a tree falls in the forest, and no conscious being is around to hear it, does it make a sound? Berkeley, in agreement with you I presume, would say no because "to be is to be perceived".

To contradict this line of thinking I can offer the collection of observer effects in physics, where the act of observation itself alters the state of being of a subject. One famous effect is Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle -- the position and momentum of an electron cannot be measured at the same time, even in theory. Yet one cannot say that an electron does not have both a position and a momentum, despite the fact that they cannot both be simultaneously measured. Thus this is one approach through which we can deny your supposition that without consciousness of existence there is non-being, because through our exploration of existence at the quantum level, we have found various constraints on consciousness without equivalent constraints on being. Borrowing a tagline from existentialism, existence precedes essence -- entities exist prior to our ability to essentialize them into their conscious dimensions.

You may be interested in Sartre's adjustment to your position from Being and Nothingness -- he would reject your premise that consciousness is the line that delineates existence from non-existence, but instead put it this way: consciousness is what separates being-in-itself from being-for-itself. The essence of consciousness is intentionality, which comes from our ability to perceive an alternate possibility. In this sense consciousness is not the positive creation of the world through our perceptions, but instead it is an act of negation -- the ability to imagine the world different from what it is. We can only be conscious of something if we can also be conscious of its absence. Thus consciousness is independent from existence, but it serves instead as the source of all possibility, negation, and finitude.

I should add my point of view may be crucially limited by the fact that I don't really understand your second assertion. What do mean that existence must exist in such a way that what is outside of it is not non-existence? As I understand it, the only constraint Parmenides adds to non-existence is the existence of an observer. He doesn't contradict the possibility of non-existence of individual entities -- one could have a world with one observer and one observable entity, with every other entity being non-existent.
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Re: Conciousness as the definition of existence

Post by EventHorizon » January 6th, 2019, 1:45 am

ktz wrote:
January 6th, 2019, 12:28 am
Sounds reminiscent of George Berkeley's case for subjective idealism. If a tree falls in the forest, and no conscious being is around to hear it, does it make a sound? Berkeley, in agreement with you I presume, would say no because "to be is to be perceived".
I think I would agree with this. I almost want to go further than that though, to re-frame it as, "if a tree falls in the forest, and no one is around to hear it, does the forest exist"? Maybe I go too far with that though.
To contradict this line of thinking I can offer the collection of observer effects in physics, where the act of observation itself alters the state of being of a subject. One famous effect is Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle -- the position and momentum of an electron cannot be measured at the same time, even in theory. Yet one cannot say that an electron does not have both a position and a momentum, despite the fact that they cannot both be simultaneously measured. Thus this is one approach through which we can deny your supposition that without consciousness of existence there is non-being, because through our exploration of existence at the quantum level, we have found various constraints on consciousness without equivalent constraints on being. Borrowing a tagline from existentialism, existence precedes essence -- entities exist prior to our ability to essentialize them into their conscious dimensions.
I don't want to comment too much on this other than that this seems to be a very good point that I did not think about. I was taught the basic equations and functions but I think to extrapolate my current level of knowledge would be an error.

I think I do agree with you on existence precedes essence. Point 1 I make comes first to me as a "fact". I don't know what else to call it, a fact that forces being into being if you will. The dependence of the subjective to actualize the objective seems to come second to me, but arise at the same time as existence.
You may be interested in Sartre's adjustment to your position from Being and Nothingness -- he would reject your premise that consciousness is the line that delineates existence from non-existence, but instead put it this way: consciousness is what separates being-in-itself from being-for-itself. The essence of consciousness is intentionality, which comes from our ability to perceive an alternate possibility. In this sense consciousness is not the positive creation of the world through our perceptions, but instead it is an act of negation -- the ability to imagine the world different from what it is. We can only be conscious of something if we can also be conscious of its absence. Thus consciousness is independent from existence, but it serves instead as the source of all possibility, negation, and finitude.
I am very happy you brought this up because I am in fact completely an amateur but somehow decided that I should start with Sartre. I have read Nausea and am currently on a meager page 37 of being and nothingness! I am going very slowly :)

I currently miss the independence of consciousness and existence but I will look for it as I read, thanks for bringing it up.
I should add my point of view may be crucially limited by the fact that I don't really understand your second assertion. What do mean that existence must exist in such a way that what is outside of it is not non-existence? As I understand it, the only constraint Parmenides adds to non-existence is the existence of an observer. He doesn't contradict the possibility of non-existence of individual entities -- one could have a world with one observer and one observable entity, with every other entity being non-existent.
I may be misunderstanding or misusing terms here. I think it's typically referred to as 'Being' iirc.
maybe these quotes will help you understand where I come from:
Sartre,Nausea wrote: It didn't make sense, the World was everywhere, in front, behind. There had been nothing before it. Nothing. There had never been a moment in which it could not have existed. That was what worried me: of course there was no reason for this flowing larva to exist. But it was impossible for it to not exist. It was unthinkable: to imagine nothingness you had to be there already, in the midst of the World, eyes wide open and alive; nothingness was only an idea in my head, an existing idea floating in this immensity: this nothingness had not come before existence, it was an existence like any other and appeared after many others.
It is from nausea but I think still espouses his viewpoint. He says Nothing comes before it, but Nothing is only an idea. It is not something that existed ever. Nothing nothings.
Sartre, B&N page 36 wrote: Furthermore it is non-being that is going to limit the reply. What being will be must of necessity arise on the basis of what it is not. Whatever being is, it will allow this formulation: "Being is that and outside of that, nothing.

But of course, nothing is within us. Taken completely literally then, the limit of being is us (the thing that conceives nothingness: Consciousness). This is of course page 36 and I mentioned I am on page 37. My understanding is obviously limited in depth.

The limit of Being can not be Non-being. Being limits itself. I don't really know how to expand this into consciousness other than it is within being. I think I am probably missing much of the understanding of being-for-itself at the moment.

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Re: Conciousness as the definition of existence

Post by Tamminen » January 6th, 2019, 11:11 am

EventHorizon wrote:
January 5th, 2019, 7:59 pm
Consciousness is this dividing line that details existence. Consciousness itself is the very shape of reality, the form of existence. Without Consciousness of existence there would be non-being, and similarly without existence there would be no Consciousness, and so non-being. The two arise equally and are dependent. A dependence of the objective on the subjective, and vice versa.
This is exactly how I see reality. Also your other "meditations" are interesting. Note that this is not necessarily subjective idealism. I myself am an epistemic realist. Also for Sartre there are "in-itselfs" that "co-exist" with the "for-itself".

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Re: Conciousness as the definition of existence

Post by EventHorizon » January 6th, 2019, 1:09 pm

Tamminen wrote:
January 6th, 2019, 11:11 am
EventHorizon wrote:
January 5th, 2019, 7:59 pm
Consciousness is this dividing line that details existence. Consciousness itself is the very shape of reality, the form of existence. Without Consciousness of existence there would be non-being, and similarly without existence there would be no Consciousness, and so non-being. The two arise equally and are dependent. A dependence of the objective on the subjective, and vice versa.
This is exactly how I see reality. Also your other "meditations" are interesting. Note that this is not necessarily subjective idealism. I myself am an epistemic realist. Also for Sartre there are "in-itselfs" that "co-exist" with the "for-itself".
I actually signed up after reading some of your posts, I recognized we have some similar ideas.

I did want to ask if you consider reality to be dualistic or non-dualistic and the effect of each on Conciousness after death, in context with the impossibility of non-being. I think I read that you consider open-individualism, but I am unsure what this might mean if something like panpsychism is true.

Furthermore, how do you see these views being developed/corroborated by the academic sphere? I don't trust that I am more well versed in rigorous thinking than those that devote their lives to it.

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Re: Conciousness as the definition of existence

Post by Alias » January 6th, 2019, 2:00 pm

EventHorizon wrote:
January 5th, 2019, 7:59 pm

1) non-being is impossible a la Parmenides' "is not". Thus existence must exist.

2) Existence must exist in such a way that what is outside of it is not non-existence. The line between existence and non-existence can not be analogous to the line that separates an inside from an outside.
Is this a hole?
Exitence exists. Full stop.
There is a line between any two existing objects, but non-existence can't be delineated. Since everything is inside of Existence, Existence doesn't have an outside.
Consciousness doesn't even come along until long after a whole universe already exists. Reality doesn't depend on consciousness; it can exist and make noise and shed lights and scatter matter whether anybody is yet aware of it, but non-existence can't have produced a consciousness to witness it, cos there was nothing to be aware of.
Our ability to imagine an idea doesn't make it realizable in the world.

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Re: Conciousness as the definition of existence

Post by EventHorizon » January 6th, 2019, 6:03 pm

Alias wrote:
January 6th, 2019, 2:00 pm
Consciousness doesn't even come along until long after a whole universe already exists.
I think this here is a point of contention that I'm wrestling with. It is the obvious view, and the common sense point of view. I struggle with myself even to consider it may be not true as I then venture into Last Thursdayism territory.

However, from what I understand the premise Big Bang -> wait -> Consciousness is an inherently linear understanding of time. But Being-in-itself is fully atemporal.

[quote = Sartre, B&N page 29]
It is is itself indefinitely and it exhausts itself in being. From this point of view we shall see later that it is not subject to temporality. It is, and when it gives way, one can not even say that it no longer is. Or at least, a consciousness can be conscious of it as no longer being, precisely because consciousness is temporal.
[/quote]

From this point of view I feel forced to conclude that then the Big Bang and the period of development leading up to the conception of consciousness did not occur "until" Consciousness was conceived. I think this would be an essentially non-linear understanding of time. I think this is something Bergson or Deleuze has written about, but I don't know enough to assert confidently.

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Re: Conciousness as the definition of existence

Post by h_k_s » January 6th, 2019, 7:04 pm

EventHorizon wrote:
January 5th, 2019, 7:59 pm
I'm probably off-base here so I guess I'm asking more so to poke holes in my thoughts.

1) non-being is impossible a la Parmenides' "is not". Thus existence must exist.

2) Existence must exist in such a way that what is outside of it is not non-existence. The line between existence and non-existence can not be analogous to the line that separates an inside from an outside.

3) Consciousness is this dividing line that details existence. Consciousness itself is the very shape of reality, the form of existence. Without Consciousness of existence there would be non-being, and similarly without existence there would be no Consciousness, and so non-being. The two arise equally and are dependent. A dependence of the objective on the subjective, and vice versa.

*I don't believe our Consciousness is necessarily necessary. It seems this form of Consciousness is still allowed to he the result of evolutionary game theory with the above points. If there were only infrared-sensing consciousnesses then that would be existence, but existence could still exist.



I'm not quite sure what connects point 2 and point 3 though... I'm probably wrong somewhere!
In my opinion, consciousness is only awareness and perception.

Existence is independent of consciousness.

You exist whether you are conscious of it or not -- such as a patient in a coma.

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Re: Conciousness as the definition of existence

Post by Alias » January 6th, 2019, 7:38 pm

...and when the patient in a coma has his life-support turned off, he quietly fades into non-existence, and then his vacant body is bagged, tagged and disposed, while existence goes on without a hiccup.
Those who can induce you to believe absurdities can induce you to commit atrocities. - Voltaire

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Re: Conciousness as the definition of existence

Post by EventHorizon » January 6th, 2019, 8:29 pm

Alias wrote:
January 6th, 2019, 7:38 pm
...and when the patient in a coma has his life-support turned off, he quietly fades into non-existence, and then his vacant body is bagged, tagged and disposed, while existence goes on without a hiccup.
Right, from our perspective. Maybe I'm meaning something of a more collective I, a sort of open individualist interpretation of Conciousness. His instantiation may seemingly disappear but yours retains itself until you die.

I don't really know how to investigate the becoming of Conciousness into nothing. One argument I read is that there is no next, but I think this is just a rewording.

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Re: Conciousness as the definition of existence

Post by Alias » January 6th, 2019, 10:24 pm

EventHorizon wrote:
January 6th, 2019, 8:29 pm
[ existence goes on without a hiccup.]
Right, from our perspective.
If we're still alive to have a perspective, yes.
Maybe I'm meaning something of a more collective I, a sort of open individualist interpretation of Conciousness. His instantiation may seemingly disappear but yours retains itself until you die.
It doesn't have any more effect on existence. When we all extinct* ourselves (*I'm told that's a verb now) and none of "us" humans exist to have any perspective, the rest of existence will continue just as it had before we were conceived.
I don't really know how to investigate the becoming of Conciousness into nothing.
Because there is no "becoming" involved in death. A particular consciousness winks out, that's all. It didn't influence much of reality while it was aware and will not influence any reality once it's gone. If other conscious entities retain a memory of it, they may feel "as if" that extinguished individual were still affecting them. That entity's mark was made during life: the mark remains, like scratches on linoleum, but no new ones are made.

Because humans form deep emotional bonds and miss their dead relations, they cherish this illusion of continuity. They make up all kinds of stories about disembodied consciousness.

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Re: Conciousness as the definition of existence

Post by EventHorizon » January 6th, 2019, 10:48 pm

Alias wrote:
January 6th, 2019, 10:24 pm
Because there is no "becoming" involved in death. A particular consciousness winks out
What do you mean by "wink out"? I think that seems like a convenient rewording but is the exact same as "becomes nothing". And if we agree that nothing is not , then I think we have a very real dilemma.

I'm not trying to appeal to emotion at all here. I think the common sense view here requires the validity of panpsychism and possibly integrated information theory insofar as Conciousness is a fundamental property of matter that can "merge". This is the only way I see to not have an imbalance of input and output but retain the common view of death.

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Re: Conciousness as the definition of existence

Post by ktz » January 7th, 2019, 1:39 am

EventHorizon wrote:
January 6th, 2019, 8:29 pm
Right, from our perspective. Maybe I'm meaning something of a more collective I, a sort of open individualist interpretation of Conciousness. His instantiation may seemingly disappear but yours retains itself until you die.
Maybe it would be easier for your case if you try to merge your attachment to this concept with the various literatures describing a divine observer. If God exists as either the primary source of conscious omniscient observation, or (less provocatively) in the pantheistic sense of a sort of synecdochal representation of your collective I, that would solve Parmenides's problem quite nicely for you.
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Re: Conciousness as the definition of existence

Post by Gertie » January 7th, 2019, 5:00 am

EventHorizon wrote:
January 5th, 2019, 7:59 pm
I'm probably off-base here so I guess I'm asking more so to poke holes in my thoughts.

1) non-being is impossible a la Parmenides' "is not". Thus existence must exist.

2) Existence must exist in such a way that what is outside of it is not non-existence. The line between existence and non-existence can not be analogous to the line that separates an inside from an outside.

3) Consciousness is this dividing line that details existence. Consciousness itself is the very shape of reality, the form of existence. Without Consciousness of existence there would be non-being, and similarly without existence there would be no Consciousness, and so non-being. The two arise equally and are dependent. A dependence of the objective on the subjective, and vice versa.

*I don't believe our Consciousness is necessarily necessary. It seems this form of Consciousness is still allowed to he the result of evolutionary game theory with the above points. If there were only infrared-sensing consciousnesses then that would be existence, but existence could still exist.



I'm not quite sure what connects point 2 and point 3 though... I'm probably wrong somewhere!
My problem with these types of arguments boils down to trying to use logic to address questions where we don't know if our logic born out of our experience of how this world works would apply. But here goes.
1) non-being is impossible a la Parmenides' "is not". Thus existence must exist.
We can only say non-being isn't the case (right here right now), because we're here now to say it. (Or at a skeptical minimum 'my' conscious experiential states exist right here right now, as by their nature their existence is directly known).
2) Existence must exist in such a way that what is outside of it is not non-existence. The line between existence and non-existence can not be analogous to the line that separates an inside from an outside.
Finding ways to describe non-existence is tricky, but to describe non-existence in terms of location and inside/outside seems like a category error. Or at least analogy, so we should be careful about drawing conclusions based on analogous language, because the analogy is inevitably imperfect, and might not capture the key features we're drawing conclusions about.
3) Consciousness is this dividing line that details existence...


Hence consciousness as ''the dividing line'' between the locations of existence and non-existence is continuing an analogy at best. Your making the link via your analogy. The question then remains, what is it actually saying about the actual state of affairs it's analogising? I'm not sure. But you continue to a conclusion that without consciousness nothing can exist -
... Consciousness itself is the very shape of reality, the form of existence. Without Consciousness of existence there would be non-being, and similarly without existence there would be no Consciousness, and so non-being. The two arise equally and are dependent. A dependence of the objective on the subjective, and vice versa.
And of course we have have evidence that our universe existed prior to beings we recognise as possessing consciousness.

Now there might be an underlying explanation which should make us re-interpret that evidence, such as implications suggested by collapse of the wave function. I'd say that's where the analogy might become concrete, but that's still in the speculative stage as an explanation of the mind-body relationship. And it's arguable that the wave function itself has to exist in the first place, rather than absolute nothingness.

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Re: Conciousness as the definition of existence

Post by Burning ghost » January 7th, 2019, 5:28 am

Event -

You seem to be juggling words around and needlessly confusing what you’re thinking ... or at least so it seems?

Is what you mean condensed down to this:

- what exists exists only in consciousness and beyond that we’re in no position to insist anything else being beings that exist as conscious beings not “non-conscious” beings ... which would essentially mean “non-being” and “non-existent”.

Yet again this is Kantian territory. The confusion of noumenon as positive and noumenon as negative.

The further confusion lies in how many different people frame the meaning of “exist” and “being” in various different contexts yet occasionally fall prey to wire crossing and thus themselves and others because they fail to address teh limitations of their lexicon.
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