If I remain ceaselessly active to the end of my days, Nature is under an obligation to allot me another form of existence, when the present one is no longer capable of containing my spirit. I do not doubt the continuance of our existence. May it then be that He who is eternally living will not refuse us new forms of activity analogous to those in which we have been tested. Goethe.
Immortality implies perpetual duration. This persistence of mind, and body in mind, is the sense of life everlasting. An everlasting consciousness is conceived as a consciousness that endures, i.e. it endlessly consumes new presents ion an enlarging past, while an eternal consciousness is one for which the present embraces all eternity.
The perishing of each conscious moment is unnoticed when it is replaced; the interval, being timeless and not incremented, is non-conscious. Thus, we feel a seamless and continuous self across perishings. In life, this “bridge across moments” is extracted from the present state. Since we live in the present state, the next state, the one that will replace the present state, does not exist until the replacement occurs.
If the real is the presumed oneness of the absolute that underlies a multiplicity of individualities, it can only be achieved when the appearances of perception and the illusion of personal consciousness are extinguished.
Heaven and the soul that seeks it should not be fashioned on earthly knowledge. They are, if they exist, unimaginable.
The duration of the present – the now – is not fixed and immutable but elastic; it can be contracted in pathological conditions, and expanded in meditation or hypnotic age regression. Yogic meditation expands the now in a “pure consciousness” detached from the flow of objects. Mystics have written of such experiences. They speak of an individual consciousness becoming one with the mind of god, embracing a world process of becoming of all past, present and future times in a single all encompassing now.
The posterior boundary of the now is extensible because its floor is essentially bottomless.
The notion of an individual consciousness after death is not a mystical insight. Keyserling (1927) wrote that mysticism ends in an impersonal immortality.
Emptiness is the insubstantiality of the relational, the negation even of relationality, for the relation is not a nothing, it is still a discrimination, an affirmation. Pure relationality or flux is a conceptual film that is finally unpeeled as consciousness attains absolute emptiness.
Ironically, what does not achieve nirvana is the very thing that must be elevated in karma and liberated from samsara, namely consciousness.
All objects, ourselves included, are recurrences. Change is cyclical. The appearance of progression arises as a vector toward novelty in a replacement of forms.
A universe that arises in god’s mind, and perishes in the mind of an individual at death, begins with the consciousness of god independent of nature, and survives as an individual in god’s mind. It is as if the history of the material world and the individuality of our conscious natures were but one idea articulated into world process and the manifold of conscious states. Arising and perishing are thematic in existence, from particle to brain, from the birth of the universe to its eventual implosion. They frame the blink of the Brahma, the cycle of life and thought, the unsettled boundaries of every transition in the actualisation of the mind/brain. A phenomenal present, an act of cognition, a state of consciousness, all arise in the decay of it antecedents and all perish in the next arising. Apart from the infinite nature of god, there is no abiding, no persistence, only perishing, replacement and an illusion of stability.
There is a painful asymmetry in the fact that life and death come only from life, but only life, not death, gives new life.
Existence is the elaboration of value.
Existence, temporality and value are preserved throughout all changes in form.
Individuation is a mirror of dependency as separation is of fusion, or entropy of order.
What is ambiguity but a perspicacity that sees too well form every side?
What is real, or what exists, depends not on the level but on the process that runs through all levels, and how this process deposits the categories that constitute the “furniture of the world”.
Every object is a set of contrasts. … The oppositions are created by individuation and autonomy. I would describe it as a common process, in which the members are co-arisings. … Every entity, every phase in cognition, every act and object, posits the world of which it is not, as well as the world in which it appears.
Life is a larval stage of existence.
Brains are “organs of concentration” for separating a world soul into distinct personalities … But the subjective pole is as contingent on brain process as the objective pole. Personality is a limitation inphysical existence of the subjective participation in god prior to birth and after death. Life concentrates god’s spirit, death liberates it to full participation. If before life or after death we are ideas in god’s mind, in life these ideas undergo restriction and limitation.
Each act of thought creates the present in loss and recurrence. The old present dies so the next can be born. The self is an island of fragility pounded on all sides by flux, veering this way and that in necessity and acceptance. Finally, we may understand that freedom is an assertion, not in power and confidence but in utter helplessness and despair, and in the willingness to receive grace in the pit of gloom.
The thought-objects of perception which are presupposed in the common thought of civilised beings, are almost wholly hypothetical. The material universe is largely a concept of the imagination which rests on a slender basis of direct sense-perception. – Whitehead (1932)
All experience has an illusory quality, from a vision of the starry firmament to mathematical objects at the smallest scale. Yet the illusory or phenomenal nature of experience, which is at the heart of many great philosophical systems, escapes the minds of most ordinary people, who live their lives as if the self and world are fully real and material.
Illusion is an endogenous image that carries with it features of a terminal cognition. It appears to be an alteration in an external object because the image is close to full objectification.
Hallucination and illusion are incomplete perceptions, while a perception is a fully exteriorised hallucination, guided by sensory constraints. Admittedly this is an exceptional view of the world. It is not surprising that those who see the world in this way, i.e. as an extension of the mind, are tempted to look for another, more dependable image of the real, such as that of physics or the absolute, or a noumenal world beyond experience.
Illusions are not limited to those we perceive and study, but are found in all aspects of daily life. They include such fictions as object stability in a world of flux, time as linear rather than recurrent, change as an external relation between objects rather than intrinsic to the object formation and being as thing-like rather than a category that enfolds a becoming. On these foundations, the whole edifice of mind develops, and with it, the gap from self to world, the emergence of the present moment and, around it, past and future, and the feeling of intention and desire.
… it takes only a little insight in a spell of vertigo, when the world spins around one’s head, to remind us of the subjectivity of all so-called veridical perceptions.
The partition of experience into subject and object is an important fiction but not the most fundamental. That of substance is deeper, more pervasive and responsible for the illusion of subject and object. The subjective phase of thought lays down the self and its will, the objective phase lays down concrete actualities. The progression to definiteness is an aim to stability. The shift in quality in a progressive individuation is the basis for the division of experience into self and object.
If substance is primary, change is unreal, if relations are primary, substance is illusory. … The distinction of substance and process, or being and becoming, dissolves when substance is conceived as being-as-the-category-of-becoming, and becoming is conceived as process over a temporal extensibility that is framed by a category, and category is conceived as a duration of relations, the awareness of which is obscured for the sake of stability. … The mind chunks experience (Miller, 1956) into things, selves, ideas, propositions, the perceptual and logical solids that articulate and anchor the “all is in flux”.
Reality is different than existence. The concept of reality presumes a match from mind to world. The concept of existence is independent of verification. The non-existent cannot be real, while a thing must first exist in order to be real, so that reality presumes existence.
The truth is in the relation not in the relata.
An acknowledgement of the ambiguity or uncertainty of truth is the first step in their honest pursuit. In fact, ambiguity may inhere in the truth if the dialectic employed in its discovery extends into the truth that is discovered.
The interdependence of all things, and the dependencies within all things, remind us that we are sets of constitutive relations embedded in still larger sets. There is an implication of such observations for moral philosophy, in that the artificiality, tentativeness and transience of autonomy speak against egoism and isolation, and provides a meta-physics that reinforces an ethics of generosity, shared experience and the primacy of community.
… the gradient from doubt to conviction, or from an awareness of a falsehood to certainty in an error is determined not by a relation to fact but by the experiential quality of the object. Coherence, not correspondence is the psychological determinant of belief.
The distinction of the real and the unreal rests on a confusion of categories. It may be a confusion we have to live with, but at least it should be acknowledged.
… real things are hardly what they seem, not because they are misperceived, or because they are shadows or phantoms, but because what we observe, and what we infer behind our observations, are entities modelled on our experience with inner states that are opposed to external events, when the external is not the real world but the final segment of the mind/brain state that objectifies as “reality”.
The duration of the present, the unity of the self, the subject/predicate relation in language, and so on, create illusions that can only be exposed by the most ruthless and uncompromising skepticism.
The real is a covert process of creation that we mirror as spectators or participants. It is not that objects are unreal but that the real in objects is missed and, with it, the groundlessness, i.e. emptiness in the Buddhist sense, of all claims, all entities and all objects of desire.
The distinction of the illusory and the real depends on whether the intrinsic relationality of an object is part of its description. The consequences of a failure to address the dual aspect of objects and of accepting the phenomenal as real, whether in the abrupt sacrifice of a life for the sake of an important belief of the gradual pursuit of a trivial one, is life as if appearances matter. That is not to say that the appearances do not matter, for an object can matter whether or not it is real.
An object is a combination of category and process.
The real lies in the knowledge that all objects consist of a simultaneous being and becoming.
We live with being and becoming, the insubstantiality of process and appearance, the intangibility of relations and categories, yet we must also live as if the categories are necessary and real.
… if all things develop out of value, any attack on intrinsic value is a perversion. Thus the enlightened soul does not seek to import or extend value into the world, but rather, apprehends and strives to enhance a world that is literally shimmering with value in all its objects.
Kill thy activities and still thy faculties if thou wouldst realise this birth in thee. ~ Meister Eckart.
For process theory, the dynamic in a mental content lies in its immediate prehistory, not its causal surface. The change from one state of mind or world to the next ia a novel becoming or near-replication of the immediately preceding state. Images, thoughts, feelings, objects in perception, do not cause something to occur; they appear, disappear ans are replaced by a subsequent state. The present state may be conceived as the effect of its antecedent, but it is a novel actualisation constrained by the state it replaces. In human mentation, the contents of awareness are actualities or finalities that perish, not solids with causal force. The process of actualisation, not what actualises, is the focus of change in mind and world.
In the actualisation process, mind and world are not parallel endpoints. The self is an intermediate phase in the object, which is an objectification of subjective phases in the mind/brain state.
Idealist philosophies regard the contents of the mind and the objects of perception as the phenomenal derivatives of a covert underlying reality. Concepts and objects, however, are not veils concealing formative process; they are the process that deposits them. Whether an object is conceived as real or phenomenal, there is still a development, a microgenesis or phase transition concealed within its surface form. The pattern of the phase-transition within an object is its reality, whether the unconscious process of the mind or the microphysical process of non-cognitive nature. Fundamental to this line of thought is that common process underlies the multiplicity of forms in nature and the diversity of contents sin human cognition.
More than consciousness, value brings the objectivity of the physical world into relation with human emotion and conceptuality.
To say that human valuation is continuous with value in simple physical entities is to claim that value is grounded in the cosmology of process metaphysics, even if the precursors of value in rocks or particles are far removed from their final manifestation in the human mind. In other words, there is no “bottom up” continuum from the intrinsic value of physical entities to the subjective valuations of human cognition.
The concept of intrinsic value traces to an ancient debate in metaphysics centring on the opposition of the qualitative and quantitative modes of analysis. The tensions in these modes of thought is expressed in cognition in the distinction of the qualitative feel of the inner experience and the quantitative science of objects. The feeling of a qualitative something in the mind that is lacking in physical objects is the basis of the dialectic between subject and object, or between inner experience and outer reality. … What a state is, is its objective existence. What a state feels like, is the dynamic within the state. This contrast at a more fundamental level is that of change and persistence, or the extremes of annihilation and eternalism that delimit the Buddhist middle way.
(P.131 has an important paragraph that is too long to share and not reducible to summary in a coherent manner )
… the existence of an entity is its intrinsic value.
Intrinsic value as existence transforms to value as feeling, or from existence as a packet of energy to life as a vector of feeling. At the stage of intrinsic value (existence), the dynamic is a non-directional becoming of process within the being of entity. The temporality of the process within the entity, and the spatiality of the category that constitutes the entity, are different perspectives on the becoming and being that are the entity.
… the duration establishes the entity as an existent, while the process over which the duration extends is a kind of vector. In elementary entities, this is an aim to actuality. In the human mind it is, in addition, a direction from self to world.
In brief, value is the being of an entity, or the being (substantiality) of an object, over the becoming of a momentary category of phases. … This way of thinking allows us to unify the temporality of change with the timelessness of category. Quantity arises in the existence of an entity as its duration actualises. Quality arises in the process through which the entity actualises. Similarly, objectivity, as an external perspective on an object, derives from the solidification of its category. Subjectivity , as the internal ‘perspective’ of the object or entity, derives from the change through which the category is laid down. Yet all entities are fundamentally the same, so the distinction turns on the emphasis of either the categorical (substantial) or transitive (processual) aspect of the same entity.
I would locate the subjective at the point where process is no longer isotropic, i.e. when directionality is crucial to a particular existent. At that point, one could say, energy shifts to feeling as the reversibility of intrinsic process becomes untenable.
The presence of feeling imports realness to the phase sequence.
Feeling as realness is the vitality of lower forms that exist in a mode of sensory experience as it makes contact with the environment. Feeling reaches into the sensory organs and promotes movement in a reflex arc. … As feeling transforms to instinct, the circularity of the sensor-motor contact of organism with environment [...] shifts to a unified act-object. The closed circuit of reflex shifts to a simultaneous construct that is the core of a mental representation. For example, when the frog’s tongue captures a fly, perception and action occur as a unit.
Gradually, the response bias of instinct gives way to the potential of drive. The enhancement of antecedent phases of possibility at the expense of the rigid interlocking sensori-motor dependencies of instinct helps to individuate organism and enlarge its affective repertoire. With the drives – aggression, fear, appetite – there are many routes to satisfaction, the fractionation of drive is the threshold of individuality. The subjectivity of the actualising organism is more emphatic as its objective segment, the perceptual world, is articulated by feelings in objects of interest. Inner and outer worlds are the subjective and objective phases of a single perception. … The next stage transforms this pattern to a mature human cognition.
This occurs through an accentuation at a phase previously bypassed in the immediacy of object actualisation where conceptual primitives invested with drive energy allocate feeling to the merging object-concepts that give rise to perceptual objects. In this phase of conceptual feeling, the affective tonality of object-concepts replaces the object-bound drives with the concept-bound desires. The feeling in a concept replaces the feeling in or for an object.
Feeling is like a river that recurs from a source in the mind to a destination in the world, one moment surging up at a proximal phase, another, cascading downstream, yet all the while, an interior dynamic of a larger object, the mind/brain state, that is constantly pouring out objects.
An account of human perception is critical to the so-called observer error in physics, but is also necessary to bring novel insights to physical theory.
Dividing the length of an electron by the speed of light, Whitrow (1972) defined a chronon as the shortest interval of time, 10 to the minus 24 seconds.
(emphasis mine – interesting factoid ^)
The objective segment of a perception is the world we perceive. The subjective segment is the route through which it gets there and the self that perceives it. The self and experiential memories are laid down in the wake of the object as “deep structures” in its actualisation. The mind/brain state is a wave of process that stretches from the core of the mind to the rim of the world.
The ground of existence is augmented in the feeling of realness, which is then allocated to the proximal or distal polarity of the mind/brain state so as to enhance intrinsic value and realness to desire or worth. Desire is an accentuation of the subjective polarity, worth of the objective polarity. Yet, intrinsic value is the basis on which realness and desire develop as the first stages in the conceptual valuation of the object.
Interest is the qualitative shift in value from realness to worth. The conceptual feeling that is channelled into the object heightens its affective content. The object stands out, signifys something beyond itself. An object of desire that has interest or worth can also be a concept or an idea distinct from the desire for it by the self.
The relative emphasis on a proximal-subjective or distal-objective segment in the mental state determines whether valuation will be felt in the perceiver as desire, or in the object as worth.
To sum up; a perception is a transition over phases leading from self to world. A single transition, an act of cognition, is a mind/brain state. An object includes all of the phases in its development. Basic entities also exist as duration. Intrinsic value is the existence of a physical entity over its phases. The intrinsic value of an entity, or a mind/brain state, is its non-cognitive existence. This is the foundation of its initial subjective valuation as realness. Physical entities exist before they are felt as real. They cannot have the feeling of realness without being existents, even if those existents are hallucinatory or virtual. Realness is the accentuation of existence in organism. The object not only exists, but fells real. As intrinsic value grounds realness, so realness grounds a more developed valuation. … The transition os from intrinsic value (existence) of inorganic entities, as the envelope of their waveform, through the realness of organic life, in which process becomes directional, to the conceptual feeling of human cognition, in which desire and worth precipitate as the affective content of abject-concepts at their subjective and objective polarities.
In the human spirit, as in the universe, nothing is higher or lower; everything has equal rights to a common center which manifests it’s hidden existence precisely through this harmonic relationship between every part and itself. ~ Goethe
There problems of space and time, identity and change, or object and process are critical to any philosophy that refuses to ignore it’s metaphysical roots.
Before identity, the temporal boundary distinguishes an object from an event.
One can say that the distinction of object and event, especially with respect to a solitary object, depends on it’s rapidity of change, or the degree to which the object is transformed.
The point is that identity is conceptual or categorical. It involves an event-recurrence within a category. An object individuates a concept within an event-category. The smaller the category, the closer we get to the identity of individuals.
Though we speak of objects for convenience, there are no objects, only events, and there is no exact description of an event. How could there be an absolute sameness across moments if the object or event at a given moment cannot be fully specified?
If there is no ineluctable quantum of value that determines for all observers what an object or event is, or what the constitutive properties of an event are, given the viewer-centred nature of constitutive properties, the causal role of those properties will depend on their valuation.
Objects can either be absorbed into events or they can be conceived as persisting with properties that change as the event transpires. In the latter instance, the change in the event is usually interpreted as an attribute or ‘predicate’ attached to the object.
…process thinking entails an event ontology. For microgenetic theory, an object is always an event. It is not a slice in time but has a temporal history, minimally the change that actualises the object, it’s momentary becoming-into-being. The event is the development of the object in a succession of phases over a duration of existence. An object is a theoretical construct in an extended duration that includes a no-longer-existing-past.
In process theory, change results from novelty in recurrence, with stability achieved in perceptual epochs. In positivism or logical atomism, change tends to occur in the properties, the object itself remaining unchanged. Put differently, the epochs of process theory are irreducible changes through which objects and properties are generated, whereas the atoms of positivism are irreducible solids in which properties are ingredient, or to which they are attached.
An ostensibly stable object such as a rock or a tree, not to mention a particle or a person, is as much an event as a hurricane. (!!)
[Quoting Hart (1949)] Once we realise that the discharging and transition of energies are the only perceptible and apperceptive constituents of reality, physical as well as mental and social, the meanings of ideas and propositions stopped being attributes which we could add to, or subtract from the objects, arbitrarily. Experience became the sole arbiter.
If experience is the world received in the senses, that world is not experienced at all, while if experience is the world of perception, it is a derivation, a model or mirror of the world of sense.
The object does not rest on – but consists of – it’s infrastructure; what the individual brings to the perception is an inherent part of the perception, not something the individual adds to or takes away from an object.
…the philosophy of experience has to be based in the actual nature of experiential objects. This actual nature is not the bare object but the full process of it’s actualisation.
External relations are either independent of objects or part of them. If they are independent, how do they bring the objects into relation? If they are part of them, where does the object end and the relation begin?
The view advanced here is not situated in the contemporary philosophical discourse over internal and external relations, which equates relations with properties and assumes terms that have or do not have these properties. To identify a relation with a property petrifies it in language. Once this step is taken, and given the assumption that terms are not themselves bundles of relations, the conclusion is inevitable that relations are external to terms. The position take here on the other hand, arises in the context of a general monist theory (microgenesis) on the relation of thought to reality. On this view, natural relations within objects, or within the mind/brain, and by implication within non-cognitive entities, are internal to the totality of nature or cognition, in which every particular is a momentary contrast.
The relations that constitute events are not themselves actualities, but rather potentialities or possibilities. Were the dynamic of a relation to actualise, it would freeze as an object and lose it’s relational quality.
For psychic relations to extend into the world, as they do, is for the world to be an extension of the mind. The inner connectedness of the world is not it’s ostensible relatedness in the world, but it’s formative trajectory in the mind/brain. Moreover, if the individual mind exemplifies becoming in nature, this trajectory would correspond to the aim to closure of entities in physical becoming. The physical whole or existence of an entity, or other objects in the world, cannot be reconstructed from it’s spacial context, for this represents the endpoint of a parallel stream. Rather, the coherence of the whole in relation to the parts is in the temporal diachronic of the becoming of one actualisation. An actualisation is how parts individuate. Relations of individuation determine how parts come into existence. Once we apprehend an object (a thought, etc.) it’s relationality is finished.
We perceive parts, not the genuine wholes from which they arise, nor the process through which they actualise. A genuine whole is not a container of parts but a potential to give rise to them. Genuine relations are also imperceptible. The imperceptibility of genuine wholes and their transformation into parts, combined with the emphatic sense of object solidity, makes holistic and relational thinking unpalatable to many people.
Causal efficacy is imagined to be the primary locus of exchange of energy in the world, and is the principle theory of how mental objects and physical entities behave.
…real or genuine change occurs in the actualisation of events into a timeless now, while illusory or apparent change is ‘projected’ onto objects in conscious perception, a distinction that is paradoxical, since it implies that perceptible change is illusory while genuine change is imperceptible.
An object is a momentary cluster of relations that constitutes a portion of a field. The persistence of the object or it’s continuance over time owes to the immediate recurrence of a similar cluster.
…the stability of the object depends on the novelty of it’s successive replacements.
If abstractions are achieved at the cost of some part of the truth, what is lost in an abstract category is the value that belongs to those virtual instances the category encloses.
To abandon the idea that some properties are more basic than others, or that some are essential and others accidental, is to consider all properties mid-dependent. This avoids the idea of a substance with properties and relations, some cognitive, others physical, and the corollary assumption that secondary qualities are psychic additions.
Microgenetic theory implies that the fundamental relation is a shift from whole to part. The diversity of multiplicity of the world and the mind is the individuation of clusters through a series of whole-part shifts in personal or extra-personal space and time. In other words, a single process, a kind of travelling wave, lays down diversity, instead of a multiplicity that is unified in a pulse of consciousness or diverse processes acting on a manifold of parts.
An event is a span over momentary clusters of intrinsic relations determined by interest.
The shaping effect of interest or value on what properties are relevant to the event is due to the affectual tones that accompany the object in it’s transition from potential to actual. The value stream is intrinsic to this transition, at the mental pole as desire, at the object pole as worth and at an intermediate phase as interest.
…interest is derived to worth, which takes on ethical valence (good,bad), then prescriptive emphasis (ought).
Thoughts and feelings grow into the objects of experience.
Events and participants, large or small, depend on foci of interest. The world is the totality of such events. What the world is at a given moment depends on whether a flea looks to left or right. It is the totality of all occurrences from all perspectives, or perhaps, from only One.
We live on the edge of a world that is continuously becoming actual. The cluster of relations that constitutes an occasion of experience leaves in it’s wake a forward going dynamic anticipating an advance in a category that is infinitely divisible. That is why we never quite grasp events other than as classes or properties or categories of object appearances.
This new book by Jason Brown, who over the last several decades has woven the somewhat unlikely strands of process metaphysics and clinical neurology into a magnificent theoretical tapestry, represents an attempt to include moral thinking within the framework of the theory. The importance of this move should not be overlooked.
How should our beliefs shape our behaviour?
It is a “unified field theory”, rooted in the abstract metaphysics of process philosophy on the one hand, and the messy reality of the neurology clinic on the other, potentially transforming how we look at phenomena as apparently disparate as the nature of time, the origins of dreams ans hallucinations, the way a speech act unfolds, and (now with the present volume) how we make value judgements.
For whom, then, has this book been written? Clinicians are likely to be baffled by the metaphysics; philosophers, by the clinical material; Psychologists and neuropsychologists, by the lack of empirical tests and statistical analysis. Almost all of us will find our resources of knowledge challenged, if not simply inadequate, at one point or another in the reading of Jason Brown’s work. Many faint hearted readers are likely to say, “Well this book seems to have been written for someone else, not for me!”
Brown cannot be rightly accused of oversimplifying or pandering to the needs of a mass audience looking for simple solutions to complex problems. On the contrary, the theoretical edifice here is enormously complex, indeed incomprehensible for those with intellectual blinders firmly in place. There are no slogans here that can be used to stop arguments, but rather a series of insights that constrain our thinking in a different and more productive way than previously. This is of course sometimes a painful process.
Only when a philosophy is at full bloom do we appreciate the intuition that generated it. The early stages of a philosophy is one of groping, confusion, inarticulateness, and enthusiasm. ~ George Adams, 1930.
The clinical and neurological data are the material of the philosophy, while the philosophy is the ground on which the seeds of the psychology can be planted. In my view, a philosophy not based on phenomenal experience is stranded in speculative argumentation, while a psychology not grounded in philosophy or biology will be mired in trivia or romantic fiction. Yet I would agree with the comment of William James that a scientific understanding of the mind/brain will necessarily be metaphysical.
To each she appears in a unique form. She hides amid a thousand names and terms and is always the same. ~ Goethe, On Nature.
Is speciation in the process of evolution analogous to a specification in an act of cognition? Is the process through which species are formed related in some way to the struggle and adaptation that every entity goes through in order to become what it is at any given moment? The realisation of an organism, or any object, is an intrinsic microtemporal process that is largely imperceptible. Does this process correspond with the putative extrinsic relations involved in the reproduction of organisms viewed from the standpoint of populations and evolutionary time? If so, we could say that the evolutionary process of survival and diversification is the outer, large scale, or macroscopic expression of an inner, small scale microscopic process of self-realisation.
The transformation of potential to actual is like that of a not-yet-existent ground to a developing figure in which the ground is the antecedent whole or potential for realisation and the figure is what is actually being realised out of the whole. Once the whole is realised, the being becomes and existent. This process is uniform in nature. The same pattern that creates a brain, brings a particle into existence. (emphasis mine) We should not be surprised that what is most profound in nature is what is most universal, and thus imperceptible owing to it’s uniformity.
One could say that the complexity fills the duration as it expends. This implies that the increasing complexity that eventuates in the human brain is not an explanation of value or consciousness, but is a product of the process leading to it. This process is a kind of growth. This is also true for the transformation of societies, in which change occurs less by revolution or coercion than by slow assimilation, This is also a form of growth, taking place through an increase in the intrinsic complexity of society, viewed as an organism rather than a collection or compilation of entities.
The relation of a duration to it’s contents is not that of a container to the things it contains, but rather that of a virtual whole to virtual parts. In a particle, the whole and part are envelope and wave form; in the mind, they are the mental state and it’s phase transitions. A self, an idea, an object, are recurring sets of covert, sequential phases that unfold over a cycle of existence.
…a becoming creates time (change) as serial parts individuate out of simultaneous wholes. … The relation of category and process, or whole and part to being and becoming is the “deep structure” of the process of evolution.
An entity becomes what it is and so defines itself as it occurs, whether a society in relation to all humanity, or an atom against the void. Every motion is an orientation, every orientation a discrimination, every discrimination a valuation. Existence is the initial value.
Facts or values arise in a context of self-realisation. (emphasis mine)
States of affairs begin as intuitions, then personal beliefs permeated by values, and grow into experiential or scientific facts. The intense value of a fact to one who experiences or discovers it may be of only mild value to someone else. The fact is still a value though it is shorn of personal feelings. Gradually, the affective tonality of a fact becomes so distilled that it seems value free. Scientific facts are like this. Science ignores value in the pursuit of present fact, but in so doing, it also ignores the past that forms much of present desire. We intuit the affective valance in the personal history of novel facts before they wither in habit and consensus , in the passionate intensity of those who argue for their truth. The ferocity of argumentation over seemingly neutral facts is often surprising in those we assume to be detached and reasonable, such as scientists and philosophers.
… The categorical primes that underlie cognition are infused from the very outset with drive energy. Idea and feeling, concept and process, are dual aspects at each phase.
For some, the self is a social construct. Is value a magnet or an impulse? Are customs and obligations determinants of behaviour, sources of instilled values, or bases for moral judgement? Conduct in accordance with the law can arise as personal value, an obligation that is apprehended as partly external, or one that is fully coercive.
This world enriches the self through experience and learning, not by filling a naïve brain with ‘information’, but by fractionating innate categories into sub-sets of knowledge, belief and value.
If one can set aside the traditional assumption that perception occurs through the passive reception and construction of sensory data that are generated outside the perceiver and become ingredient in the mind, many aspects of the theory expounded here will begin to make sense.
The main point here, and the starting point for almost everything that follows, is that fully objective experiences are also subjective, in that they too emanate from the subject’s own beliefs and values. … Subjectivity applies not only to pains, after-images and other qualia, but to all perceptual experience.
The theory expounded in this book is a blend of idealism and naturalism that attempts to resolve the objectivity of ethical strictures in a monist theory of process.
… the existence of the other is, ultimately, an hypothesis about the origins of a perception, just as a perception or a concept is a hypothesis about the entities it models or represents. It is my belief that the problem of subjectivism, far from being obstacles to a theory of subject-object relations, are the key to understanding the nature of value, compassion, and the ‘place’ of the other in the matrix of the self.
With it’s awareness of a no-longer-existing past and a not-yet-existing future, the mind seems fully distinct from physical nature.
Subjectivism, or the “view from inside”, claims we can only know our own ideas. This is not consistent with the hypothesis that each mind realises a portion of the wholeness of universal mind or, put differently, actualises some portion of natural process. In a monist theory of process, a mind is conceived as a duration within a wider category of feeling. Every entity, including a mind, is a local manifestation of the ground of nature or physical reality.
The outcome of this inquiry has been fro me, and I hope it will be for the reader as well, a deeper appreciation of the place of the other in the ‘structure’ of the self’s own valuations.
From an external or objective standpoint, then, moral conduct tends to be judged in terms of what is reasonable or fair, or what conforms to social norms, not in terms of a paradigm of saintly or altruistic behaviour, or what might be considered perfection. … Even charity and hospitality are values that are usually not obligatory, at least not in the West.
For the state, the ideal requires a willingness to transcend national interests for the sake of a globel or transnational perspective, according to which the state pursues the common good, not just that of it’s own citizens.
The higher morality of the individual is centred in the community, not the self, but it is not the community that engages the ideal, it is the individual, or group of like-minded individuals. We can say that the claims of the other should be prior to the claims of the self, as the claims of humanity as a whole should be prior to those of the state, but it is the subjective character of the individual to which all claims of morality must be submitted for judgement.
Time is a critical dimension in moral decision and judgement. This appears in the opposition between automatic or impulsive action and action that is reasoned and deliberate. One occurs in the immediate present, the other involves future considerations. … The more immediate the action, the more it is judged as a sign of character: for example, spontaneous altruism is a mark of virtue precisely because there was apparently not time to make a rational calculation of future benefit.
… we consider the good person to be someone who acts in a good way instinctively, while we consider a good leader or state to be one that acts with caution and deliberation. … Here, the essential point is the importation of time into moral theory.
The question in free will is not whether an idea is given or pre-ordained or the degree to which behaviour is constrained by external conditions but whether an action that follows an idea is initiated or directed by it. The issue of freedom pertains to the interval between the idea and the act, not the prehistory of the idea.
Act and idea are driven by sub-surface content; the idea does not cause the action, it is only a forewarning. … This explains why indecision and complexity parallel the feeling of volition. The greater the indecision, the more effort required, and the richer the concept guiding the action.
On the microgenetic account, consciousness is deposited midway between the core and external objects, at a phase where the competing ideas are undergoing resolution. This does not mean that consciousness has a shaping role in the resolution process. The targeting down, the focussing of attention, or the finer selection of ideas and actions so prominent at the point the conscious self makes it’s appearance are expressions of the progressive specification taking place in the microgenetic sequence, not signs of conscious choice and agency.
The self is generated out of the core personality, out of memory and the cumulative experience of the individual, good and bad. … Whatever the individual does, is that individual, it cannot be otherwise; personality and self actualise in every cognition and every behaviour. The only criteria for whether behaviour is responsible is whether the action expresses the self fully and completely. The action then reveals what sort of self gave rise to an action of that type.
The now is experienced as a brief segment with an indefinite duration and unclear boundaries. … There is a deception of a linear or horizontal sequence concatenating moments into a chain of life – what Bergson called the spatialisation of time – when in fact there is a vertical series replacing itself like a fountain, going nowhere. (!!) … These two sides of the microgeny – the unfolding, and the unfolding in relation to the decay – account for the emergence of the self in the now of the present moment.
All of our subjective experience is elaborated in this capsule of the absolute now, but this is not the now that is experienced. What is experienced is the phenomenal now, which corresponds to the “specious present.” This now extends over a duration of somewhere between 1 and 15 seconds depending on ones account or estimate of the present. … Duration is not a longitudinal dimension. The idea that duration extends over a line of time, like the sum of a succession of moments, is a confusion of the spatial with the temporal.
The active search for a memory is the experience of an incomplete object formation, the image exhausting it’s own content and in the course of the search generating a self that seems to be doing the searching. If the process goes on to completion, the image becoming an object, the active relation to the image is replaced by a passive relation to the object.
Dream is preparatory in the formation of object space. Sice objects or selves do not travel from one space to another, the separate times and spaces of dream and wakefulness appear to relate to separate worlds. But these worlds are the extremities of a continuum. Space itself travels – is transformed – as one world is given up in the passage to the other, a transition occurs over intervening segments. Space is multi-layered and so, presumably, is time.
Since a level is an arbitrary section through a wave front, it does not enjoy a privileged status apart from it’s antecedent and subsequent phases. … Mind does not obtain in level specific activity but in a traversal over the full set of microgenetic levels. … As time is derived from the relation between events, it is effected by a change over the event sequence, for example “empty” vs filled durations…
Let us try to grasp the idea that the self represents an early, the surrounding world a late, phase in the same unfolding sequence. The unitary nature of the absolute now, then, is explained by the fact that self and world are experienced within the same perceptual moment. … The self is deposited slightly in advance of the world and this adds to the feeling of priority and the sense of agency of the self in relation to external objects.
…past and future are not symmetrical axes leading out from the present. … The self is acting in a state of becoming.
The imposition f cycles on an open ended progression leads eventually to the awareness of duration.
Time and space are separately woven into the mental state, time through iteration and the traversal of events in decay, space through the process of object formation. Time is in relation to memory, space to perception.
…are the attributes of the universe attributes of the mind beholding the universe or attributes proper to the universe itself? Are the physical laws governing the universe intuitions of laws governing the human mind? … One theory of the physical world entails that every point in the universe is as much the centre as every other point. … …the universe has a structure without an absolute centre. Is the mind like this also?
Mind is positioned in a single mental space, which is it’s own referent. Since the centre obtains as a relation between contents in the same mind, in effect there is no centre, only spatial relations between objects and temporal relations between stages in these objects in their individual momentary life histories.