Tuesday, May 22, 2012

consciousness: unified?

At least since the 1990s if not before, I've believed that consciousness is not unitary. At Conscious Entities, Peter explores the issue of the unity of consciousness in his latest post. While it's true that we can't shake the feeling that there is a unified, non-partite "I" that somehow receives and administrates the great mass of incoming sense data, all it takes is mindful self-examination to realize that, in parsing this "I," we find nothing at its bottom. Merely linking the "I" to the specific arrangement of parts is no answer; this proves nothing about whether the "I" exists as a substance or other ontological substratum. If anything, arguing that the "I" is a whole of parts only serves to affirm the fundamental non-unity of consciousness. There is no fundamental self.



Malcolm Pollack said...

Hi Kevin,

I completely agree. We are many, not one.

Some schools of inner work, in particular the one that was brought to the West by Gurdjieff and Ouspensky, teach that the task before us is to create a unitary Self out of this mess.

It's not so easy, though, and the seeker can be left in a terrible place: having made a concerted effort for years, he comes to see how fragmented he really is -- but then finds that the effort of unifying himself, of forming a Master within that can rule this internal mob, is beyond his capabilities.

Not good! He was better off before he started.

Charles said...

Well, that would explain a lot...

Although I have to admit that stuff like this kind of makes my head asplode.