We have disputes over zombies and humans, computers and brains, silicon chips and carbon molecules, which for many are debates over whether consciousness and qualia are to be given privileged status in the description of mental states.
Causal theory saps purpose from behaviour and displaces signification from individuals to actions in the world. Perspectival theory turns the self into an image for others. We are left with a nexus of causal relations or a phantom that eludes description. And we ask, still, what is an individual?
In process theory, the mind/brain state is a single complex object. Representations or symptoms are the fleeting actualities of process, not mental things that interact. Mental contents are finalities that ‘contain’ their momentary histories, not causal objects the project on future effects. The continuum from potential to actual within a single mind/brain state is the direction of its internal relatedness. Change involves relations constituting the object, not its interaction with other objects.
There is no chain of cause and effect, but a continuous wave-like transition. Mental events or contents in the mental state deposit and are replaced, they do not cause other events to occur. Objects are reinstated by change, in a transition from potential to actual that recurs. … The replaced state is the ground (?cause) over which the replacing state is deposited (?effect). Each state unfolds over the immediately preceding one.
… the feeling, meaning and recognition of an object are not attached to things out there in the world after they are perceived, in a second-pass process that follows perception, but are phases ingredient in the same process through which the perception occurs.
… the approach undermines the realism, consensual validation and objectivity of a descriptive science of the mind.
Actualities are the concrete particulars that populate consciousness and the perceptual field. Everything we are aware of is already a particular, even those concepts that are vague and still-forming in our consciousness. A mood, a feeling, an inclination, are perhaps not yet particulars, but once the content is settled, even if it is unresolved, its actualisation is complete.
… actualities are not resultants or ingredients, but segments that objectify a continuum of becoming, which extends form a core of potential to the objects of reality. We describe actualities at the expense of their becoming, even as they perish in our description, and we describe potential as what is left over after what can be specified is exhausted, but potential, because it is devoid of content, is more difficult to grasp. Potential cannot be described in terms of the definiteness that is its aim, nor the indefiniteness that is its warrant, yet because there are limits on what issues from a potential, it is neither homogeneous nor undifferentiated.
Consider the problem of potentiality from the standpoint of the arousal of a word or object in the mind. There is great difficulty in describing the meaning of a word prior to the attainment of a phonological shape, or in describing and object-concept prior t its individuation as an image in the mind or an object in the world.
In my opinion, the final word or object is deposited through a qualitative transformation from depth to surface. In this transform, the anticipatory lexical- or object-concept is not identical to the final word or object. The pre-object fails to achieve the same degree of referential or denotational specificity. In arises out of syncretic, magical and metaphorical thought, and develops towards referential adequacy.
The process of fact-creation from felt-meaning is the source of value, …
The transition from potential to actual is continuous. Every phase except the final one, and perhaps even that, has potential for another transformation.
… imagination is the foundation out of which the perception of ‘reality’ develops. Within every perception there is a buried system of dreamwork, and magical and paralogical modes of thought.
Since the world sets limits on the actualisation process, the self is as much a creation of the world, i.e. the constraints of sensation, as the latter is a creation of the self, i.e. a perceptual realisation. To have a self is to have objects to perceive.
Character is the source of the conscious contents of our mind, but not their cause. The relation of character to action is that of potential to actual, not cause and effect. The action individuates through a qualitative sequence that is constrained by the elimination of maladaptive possibilities. Character does not cause or produce a behaviour, no more than the root of a flower causes the petals, but it is ingredient as an anticipatory phase in a dynamic structure. An action is a sign of character, not its product, as a thought is not the output of a thinker but a kind of signature of his feelings and intelligence.
The strength of the feeling of agency is a symptom of the depth of the thought, not a result of the effort applied by the subject to the thought-content, and should not be taken as psychological evidence for agent-causation.
In process theory, acts and agents are realised and revived. The antecedent does not cause the consequent, but is transformed in to it in a qualitative series of whole-part shifts. The seed becomes the flower, it does not cause it. The child does not cause an adult, but becomes one.
The feeling of “agent causation” that underwrites responsibility is a powerful but necessary deception, explicable in terms of the microstructure of the mind/brain state. The feeling of agency probably develops when a child reaches for something.
Conflict is inevitable since every entity is a contrast.
… conflict is not a matter of energy flow, or the interaction of ideas and feelings; rather, in the form of contrast, dialectic or individuation, it is a pervasive and intrinsic feature at all phases in the cognitive process, whether the evolutionary struggle of pre-human organisms or in the specification of phonological features and object form in language and perception.
However the source of the conflict is not in the actions of the other, but in the self’s own object concepts, the affective tonality of which is below the threshold of consciousness.
The action development is the implementation of will, and generates a feeling of agency that is essential to self-preservation and egoistic action. In sum, perception is linked to the realisation of the other, action is the mode of self-realisation. Of course, these are not sharply demarcated, rather they are biases established early in life and derived from evolutionary trends in animal cognition. Yet they determine the relative locus and emphasis of other and self-directed feeling, as the self-concept is articulated by value.
Ultimately, the unity of the world is binding of objects in consciousness, the coherence of concurrent lines of development, and the growth of the world out of the self in the momentary history of all individualities.
Authenticity is not an extrinsic judgement, as with right and wrong, where there is adherence to some convention, or deviance from a standard or rule. It is, for better or worse, self-realisation in conduct.
Agency is not an output of a self that stands behind an action and urges it forward; rather, the feeling of volition is created as a kind of byproduct of an act- and object-realisation.