Page 7 of 8 FirstFirst ... 5678 LastLast
Results 61 to 70 of 71

Thread: The Illusion of Self

  1. Top | #61
    Contributor ruby sparks's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2017
    Location
    Northern Ireland
    Posts
    7,215
    Rep Power
    19
    Quote Originally Posted by Copernicus View Post
    It seems to me that the claim of location of self is misleading, since one can project a sense of awareness to different locations in the body, even to body parts that have been amputated.
    Precisely where it is felt to be located is irrelevant. It isn't there, especially not in a missing arm. If you think your self is in your missing arm, you're mistaken. If you even experience sensations in an arm that's not there, that's also mistaken, because the sensations can't be in it and are only in your brain, which as you say is projecting.

    Quote Originally Posted by Copernicus View Post
    One can make a good case that anything, including physical objects are ultimately illusions.
    Yes, you could say that. Perhaps the interesting questions are, 'in what ways is this or that an illusion' since some of them may be specific to this or that thing (eg a mountain, or a self).

    Quote Originally Posted by Copernicus View Post
    But they are still as real as anything else to the perceiver of the illusion.
    Like god is to a theist you mean? Sure.

    I'm not denying that experiences are real. Pain, for example, that's real, even if it's only an experience. Apart from illusions about its location, I might even say it's not an illusion otherwise. I'm not sure if that applies to more sophisticated sensations such as a sense of self. There's probably more scope for more illusions about those sorts of things, eg that a self is effectively a homunculus or entity, or is in charge, or something.
    Last edited by ruby sparks; 02-25-2020 at 01:05 PM.
    "Let us hope that it is not so. Or if it is, let us pray that the fact does not become generally known."

  2. Top | #62
    Industrial Grade Linguist Copernicus's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2017
    Location
    Bellevue, WA
    Posts
    2,486
    Rep Power
    14
    Quote Originally Posted by ruby sparks View Post
    ...

    Precisely where it is felt to be located is irrelevant. It isn't there, especially not in a missing arm. If you think your self is in your missing arm, you're mistaken. If you even experience sensations in an arm that's not there, that's also mistaken, because the sensations can't be in it and are only in your brain, which as you say is projecting.
    Literally everything you perceive is in your brain. To avoid a reductio ad absurdum, you need to distinguish an illusion from some perception that is not fundamentally an illusion. I'm not convinced that you can.

    Yes, you could say that. Perhaps the interesting questions are, 'in what ways is this or that an illusion' since some of them may be specific to this or that thing (eg a mountain, or a self).
    Illusions are always mental interpretations of genuine sensory data. A lot of folks erroneously confuse them with hallucinations and delusions.

    Quote Originally Posted by Copernicus View Post
    But they are still as real as anything else to the perceiver of the illusion.
    Like god is to a theist you mean? Sure.
    See what I mean? You are trying to make a point off of confusing illusion with delusion.

    I'm not denying that experiences are real. Pain, for example, that's real, even if it's only an experience. Apart from illusions about its location, I might even say it's not an illusion otherwise. I'm not sure if that applies to more sophisticated sensations such as a sense of self. There's probably more scope for more illusions about those sorts of things, eg that a self is effectively a homunculus or entity, or is in charge, or something.
    But one can experience pain in phantom limbs. That isn't an interpretation of genuine sense data.

  3. Top | #63
    Contributor ruby sparks's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2017
    Location
    Northern Ireland
    Posts
    7,215
    Rep Power
    19
    Quote Originally Posted by Copernicus View Post

    Literally everything you perceive is in your brain. To avoid a reductio ad absurdum, you need to distinguish an illusion from some perception that is not fundamentally an illusion. I'm not convinced that you can.
    I'll offer to send you a lack-of-convincedness sympathies card. Obviously, if I did that, you wouldn't know whether it's real or whether the experience of getting it in the post is something you're just imagining.

    Seriously though, why can I not reasonably distinguish between different sorts of illusion?

    For example, when it comes to self, that (a) it's located in my brain between and behind my eyes and (b) it's in charge of what I think and/or do.

    And obviously, whatever I think greetings cards and mountains actually are, I don't think they're either of those.

    Quote Originally Posted by Copernicus View Post

    Illusions are always mental interpretations of genuine sensory data.
    By sensory data, do you mean stuff that enters via our senses? If so, I wouldn't necessarily say that. There's as much activity and production, possibly more, coming from inside your brain or going around inside it as there is coming in through the senses, even for things which happen externally, as is illustrated by the Checker Shadow Illusion.* Temporarily assuming there is an external world of course. As for a sense of self, I'd guess that's probably mostly internally generated.

    Quote Originally Posted by Copernicus View Post
    But one can experience pain in phantom limbs. That isn't an interpretation of genuine sense data.
    One surely can't experience pain in a phantom limb. The pain is in your head. It's just that your brain is fooling itself that it's in a limb which isn't even there. Mistakenly thinking that you have a pain in a limb that is there is arguably illusory enough as it is.


    * https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Checker_shadow_illusion
    Last edited by ruby sparks; 02-25-2020 at 06:36 PM.
    "Let us hope that it is not so. Or if it is, let us pray that the fact does not become generally known."

  4. Top | #64
    Veteran Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Location
    USA
    Posts
    1,623
    Archived
    3,946
    Total Posts
    5,569
    Rep Power
    64
    Quote Originally Posted by Copernicus View Post
    Literally everything you perceive is in your brain. To avoid a reductio ad absurdum, you need to distinguish an illusion from some perception that is not fundamentally an illusion. I'm not convinced that you can.
    Quote Originally Posted by ruby sparks View Post
    Obviously, you wouldn't know whether it's real or whether the experience of getting it in the post is something you're just imagining.
    The experience of a card wouldn't be in doubt. Only the nature of the experience of the card would be in doubt.

    Descartes tried to find what, in his experience, that he can't doubt. He decided "we cannot doubt of our existence while we doubt...." and decided that something was doing the doubting.

    He had a choice among:
    1) abstract percepts - I and thinking
    2) sensory percepts that are possibly illusory therefore doubtable
    3) the only non-abstract something there - the experience itself.

    His essentialist worldview wouldn't allow #1 into doubt. So he chose that abstraction - a thinking self - as the most undoubtably existing "thing". He wasn't (and maybe couldn't, given the "givens" of his worldview) paying close-enough attention.

    All along it was that the experience happens at all that is not doubtable.

    Let me correct his error and present this statement: "Nothing's known except there's awareness of it, therefore awareness exists". Of the contents of awareness, the percepts might be illusory (might not be presented correctly) and the thinking is an occasional event within awareness. But you can't know the world of illusions and what thoughts are going on (including the notion of a self) except with awareness.

    What's doing the awareness? We can only engage abstractions about that. Our worldview will incline us to answer that it's a thing, an entity, that does it. But to be aware of anything is fundamental to all other knowing. If you feel a pain, you can doubt the perception of the pain presents itself correctly but not that the feeling presents itself to awareness. If you have a sense of self, you can doubt the self but not that there's a "sensing of" happening within awareness.

  5. Top | #65
    Veteran Member Treedbear's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2016
    Location
    out on a limb
    Posts
    1,694
    Rep Power
    16
    Quote Originally Posted by abaddon View Post
    ...
    What's doing the awareness? We can only engage abstractions about that. Our worldview will incline us to answer that it's a thing, an entity, that does it. But to be aware of anything is fundamental to all other knowing. If you feel a pain, you can doubt the perception of the pain presents itself correctly but not that the feeling presents itself to awareness. If you have a sense of self, you can doubt the self but not that there's a "sensing of" happening within awareness.
    I think it's necessary to distinguish conscious awareness from awareness as a general term. A squirrel or an insect or (I would say) even a computer can be described as sensing or of being aware. It's the conscious state that is the nut of the problem. As yet there is no entity or abstraction that has fully explained how it could be possible. I think Descartes' solution through dualism is a dead end and an artifact of Plato's Theory of the Forms worldview, since it leads to all varieties of other misapprehensions.

  6. Top | #66
    Deus Meumque Jus
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Canada's London
    Posts
    10,123
    Archived
    9,514
    Total Posts
    19,637
    Rep Power
    49
    Quote Originally Posted by Treedbear View Post
    I think it's necessary to distinguish conscious awareness from awareness as a general term. A squirrel or an insect or (I would say) even a computer can be described as sensing or of being aware. It's the conscious state that is the nut of the problem. As yet there is no entity or abstraction that has fully explained how it could be possible. I think Descartes' solution through dualism is a dead end and an artifact of Plato's Theory of the Forms worldview, since it leads to all varieties of other misapprehensions.
    The definition of consciousness is to be aware of one's surroundings, so maybe awareness versus conscious awareness is a false dichotomy. Instead one can say - there is awareness - and the idea of being a 'conscious' agent is part and parcel to the illusion of self. We imagine some undefinable state which differentiates us from other animals, where in practice there are only inputs, processing, and outputs.

    And it's that this state feels good and free to us, that we don't try to define it in a deterministic sense. So the illusion of self would suggest that we feel like a 'conscious' agent, or at least our brain produces a state that we describe as 'conscious', suggesting a centralized feature that isn't actually there. IOW, what we think of as consciousness may be the same illusion.

  7. Top | #67
    Veteran Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Location
    USA
    Posts
    1,623
    Archived
    3,946
    Total Posts
    5,569
    Rep Power
    64
    Descartes' abstraction into a dualism was him extrapolating too far away from his basic experience. But his experiment to find what's not illusory was 100% on the right track. He looked to experience itself, stripping away as much theory as he could. And he realized that he couldn't doubt that he's doubting.

    I'm saying the same about experiencing. If you're experiencing, you can't doubt - without being blatantly wrong - that you're experiencing.

    Descartes muddied up the experience with explanation and ended up with a dualism of mind and matter. You all will probably want to defend a monist materialism. But which theory is "true" doesn't matter here... my point is that no theorizing can change, except by getting lost in your thoughts, what the most fundamental "thing" in experience is.

    Which is experience itself. It's not a perception but it's where perceptions (whether illusory or not) happen.

    Interestingly, I think the experiencing of experience (or conscious awareness of awareness) is hard to see at first because the mind wants objects to orient to. Ask someone to name the contents of a room and they'll list objects - chair, table, lamp. And maybe even include their own body. But they'll likely leave off "space" - the very thing they're orienting in. And they'll almost certainly leave off "awareness" -- that by which they know anything at all. It's rather like the parable about the fish going "Water? What's water!"

    Be an empiricist and stick with the experience for just a minute before flying away into abstractions about what a brain does. Notice you can't call experience (consciousness) an illusion because they must present themselves to something real. Just like when doubting anything, the doubting itself is undoubtable. It's fundamentally there, there's nothing to compare the activity against so that you could justify calling it an illusion.

    To contextualize this and my previous post, they're answers to Copernicus saying "To avoid a reductio ad absurdum, you need to distinguish an illusion from some perception that is not fundamentally an illusion. I'm not convinced that you can." I'm saying that the reduction hits ground at experience itself. It can be that all perceptions are illusions, but that doesn't leave us with nothing at all for contrast. Descartes' basic experiment is correct, regardless whatever metaphysics he derived from it, regardless if the "I" he fixated on was an illusion.
    Last edited by abaddon; 02-25-2020 at 11:48 PM. Reason: trying to be a bit clearer

  8. Top | #68
    Veteran Member Treedbear's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2016
    Location
    out on a limb
    Posts
    1,694
    Rep Power
    16
    Quote Originally Posted by rousseau View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Treedbear View Post
    I think it's necessary to distinguish conscious awareness from awareness as a general term. A squirrel or an insect or (I would say) even a computer can be described as sensing or of being aware. It's the conscious state that is the nut of the problem. As yet there is no entity or abstraction that has fully explained how it could be possible. I think Descartes' solution through dualism is a dead end and an artifact of Plato's Theory of the Forms worldview, since it leads to all varieties of other misapprehensions.
    The definition of consciousness is to be aware of one's surroundings, so maybe awareness versus conscious awareness is a false dichotomy. Instead one can say - there is awareness - and the idea of being a 'conscious' agent is part and parcel to the illusion of self. We imagine some undefinable state which differentiates us from other animals, where in practice there are only inputs, processing, and outputs.

    And it's that this state feels good and free to us, that we don't try to define it in a deterministic sense. So the illusion of self would suggest that we feel like a 'conscious' agent, or at least our brain produces a state that we describe as 'conscious', suggesting a centralized feature that isn't actually there. IOW, what we think of as consciousness may be the same illusion.
    I can agree with all of what you said, only just to make the point that to be aware of one's surroundings an essential component of the equation is the "one", or by another word, the self. Conscious awareness to me requires an interaction between the two conceptions. I was trying to make that plain in my reply to abaddon because that dichotomy isn't necessary to have awareness per se. And the self acquires its agency (as I understand the word) from those clients that make up the mind and provide the general sense of awareness. The function of an agent being to re-present others. The fact that it hides those client's functions makes it appear non-deterministic.

  9. Top | #69
    Contributor DBT's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    ɹǝpunuʍop puɐן
    Posts
    9,870
    Archived
    17,906
    Total Posts
    27,776
    Rep Power
    73
    The brain appears to be the sole agent of all experience and response (except reflex). The sole agent of thoughts, feelings and emotions.

    So whatever you are thinking or doing it is the brain producing you, the brains interactive avatar, having the experience of 'you' performing the actions you feel you decided to do.....and in that disconnect in awareness between production and experience lies the illusion of conscious agency.

  10. Top | #70
    Industrial Grade Linguist Copernicus's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2017
    Location
    Bellevue, WA
    Posts
    2,486
    Rep Power
    14
    Quote Originally Posted by ruby sparks View Post

    I'll offer to send you a lack-of-convincedness sympathies card. Obviously, if I did that, you wouldn't know whether it's real or whether the experience of getting it in the post is something you're just imagining.

    Seriously though, why can I not reasonably distinguish between different sorts of illusion?

    For example, when it comes to self, that (a) it's located in my brain between and behind my eyes and (b) it's in charge of what I think and/or do.

    And obviously, whatever I think greetings cards and mountains actually are, I don't think they're either of those.
    I think it's important to avoid equivocation on terms like "self", "consciousness", and "illusion". Otherwise, we just tend to talk past each other. Let's agree that an illusion is always based on genuine sense data from the peripheral nervous system (vision, touch, hearing, etc). What distinguishes an illusion from a normal perception is that an illusion involves some kind of consistent confusion about what the sense data represent. As I see it, there is always some misinterpretation or confusion at some level of analysis in every perceptual event. That is because perception is fundamentally an active process, not a passive one. What we perceive is only a model of reality that the brain generates and matches to incoming signals from the peripheral nervous system.

    What I find misleading about this "illusion of self" is that it is not really a conventional interpretation of sensory input. Rather, it is a report of an imagined location of a poorly defined "self" that could be conceived differently by different people. If what is being reported is a focus point for senses, then it would be natural to associate it with visual perception or the eyes. However, one can subjectively manipulate that focus of attention elsewhere in the body by associating it with touch, hearing, or some other peripheral sensor.

    One surely can't experience pain in a phantom limb. The pain is in your head. It's just that your brain is fooling itself that it's in a limb which isn't even there. Mistakenly thinking that you have a pain in a limb that is there is arguably illusory enough as it is.
    All pain is in your head. The question is whether the experience of pain comes from matching a signal from the periphery with the brain's interpretation or some misfiring of neurons.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •