Re: MD Self-consciousness

From: Scott R (
Date: Sat Oct 25 2003 - 22:42:35 BST

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    > Paul:
    > Whilst I agree self-consciousness is not covered explicitly by Pirsig,
    > I'm not sure the MOQ is silent on the subject. It is certainly a very
    > difficult topic to grapple with. I'll throw some initial thoughts into a
    > post and perhaps we can work through it?

    It is an impossible topic, since consciousness, and hence self-consciousness
    is undefinable.

    > First, I'm not sure on this but you appear to be making an assumption
    > that the "self" or the "I"- of which one is conscious of - came first,
    > is the creator or locus of consciousness, and thus through
    > self-consciousness becomes aware of "itself." This seems to be the wrong
    > way round.

    No, I do not make that assumption. The I and not-I "exist" in
    self-contradictory identity, so it could not have "come first", nor is it
    the creator or locus of consciousness. Consciousness creates them. In other
    words, I see consciousness not as a property of anything, but sitting there
    with Quality and Intellect. Consciousness is not derivable from
    non-consciousness. Its manifestations are always in polar form
    (contradictory identity), for example, continuity and change.

    > I think the MOQ, and Buddha, says that the "I" is a creation
    > of intellect, as are "objects," to cope with or explain experience and
    > is not itself a primary empirical experience. Therefore, given this
    > definition of self, "self-consciousness" is the same as e.g.
    > "tree-consciousness." Pirsig states the MOQ understanding here:
    > "..the big self invents intellectual patterns that invent the small self
    > and that collection of small selves known as "we." [Lila's Child p.536]

    That's his belief. His nominalism, which I reject.

    > Scott:
    > In MOQ terms, self-consciousness would need to be expressed as some SQ
    > being aware of itself.
    > Paul:
    > Since the small [static] self is described as a collection of evolving
    > static patterns at all levels, and consciousness is described as static
    > intellectual patterns emerging from Dynamic Quality,
    > "self-consciousness" is intellectual patterns standing for patterns at
    > all levels [including other intellectual patterns] around which a
    > conceptual boundary of "me" has been drawn to organise and explain
    > experience.

    Again, I just see this kind explanation as worthless, in particular,
    "consciousness is described as static intellectual patterns emerging from
    DQ" as on a par with materialists' claims that it "just happens" and has
    good survival value. This kind of thinking is only possible if one simply
    doesn't notice how weird consciousness is. It transcends space and time. How
    does the "standing for patterns" happen? It's like in previous debates we've
    had, where you blithely accept the process of abstraction, without noticing
    that in a strictly spatio-temporal universe, it could not possibly happen.

    > In the case of big [Dynamic] self, self-consciousness is perhaps
    > something like Zen "direct seeing," in which the static self is absent.
    > However, this changes the meaning of "self-consciousness" from the way
    > it was used above [i.e. in a static sense] and is probably better
    > replaced with another term, or better still, left undefined.
    > Scott:
    > With self-consciousness, SQ (sticking to MOQ terms) has the ability to
    > create SQ.
    > Paul:
    > I don't see the argument that leads to this conclusion.

    You don't think you create anything, like the sentences you write? If you
    do, and if you think you are strictly SQ, then SQ must have the ability to
    create SQ. If you deny that it is you that is doing the creating, then I
    don't see how your philosophy is any different from theistic determinism,
    except the name God has been changed to DQ.

    > Scott:
    > If one thinks of any SQ (like biological reflexes) as fixed programs,
    > then SQ that is aware of itself can reflect on such programs and so
    > become a programmer.
    > Paul:
    > Yes, intellectual patterns manipulate social patterns, social patterns
    > manipulate biological patterns and biological patterns manipulate
    > inorganic patterns. Is creation involved in such manipulation?

    If the pattern is new, then it has been created. Note that intellectual
    patterns also manipulate intellectual patterns. They reflect on them (and
    all the rest), which is more than manipulation.

    > Scott:
    > So the jump in dynamism from SQ that is not aware of itself to that
    > which is, is a jump in kind, not degree.
    > Paul:
    > A jump from social patterns to intellectual patterns is indeed a jump in
    > kind. Symbolic representation of experience manipulated as independent
    > patterns of thought begins with intellect in the MOQ.

    The jump in kind is from automaticity (on the part of SQ) to
    non-automaticity, which happens only at the intellectual level, since that
    is the only level (from our viewpoint) in which reflection occurs.

    > Scott:
    > Of course, it would be simpler to just call people a mix of DQ and SQ,
    > but the MOQ doesn't allow that.
    > Paul:
    > I don't think there is anything in Pirsig's writing that says that
    > people aren't DQ and SQ. I think it is more that DQ and SQ together is
    > ongoing experience from which emerges "people." As such, Dynamic Quality
    > is not something which people can have or not have as part of what or
    > who they are, Dynamic Quality "has" them. This side of intellect, we are
    > static selves in a relationship with other static selves and patterns,
    > the other side of intellect, we are the whole universe.

    I pretty much agree, except I would replace DQ with Quality
    (/Intellect/Consciousness/etc.). Notice I didn't say the people "have" DQ. I
    said they (and everything else) are a mix. I am purposely not trying to
    define that mix, since it is a polarity.

    > >From such an understanding, creativity, invention, excellence, does not
    > arise from an individual in the static sense, but from one's "big self,"
    > or "Buddha-nature", but it is not necessary to use such [arguably]
    > esoteric terms, you know it when it happens. Mark's investigation [in
    > his "Edge of Chaos" essay] into a less grandiose term - sweet spot -
    > demonstrates that, as does Eugen Herrigel's poignant realisation of "It"
    > in his famous book:
    > "'Do you now understand,' the Master asked me one day after a
    > particularly good shot, 'what I mean by "It shoots", "It hits"?'
    > 'I'm afraid I don't understand anything more at all,' I answered, 'even
    > the simplest things have got in a muddle. Is it "I" who draws the bow,
    > or is it the bow that draws me into the state of highest tension? Do "I"
    > hit the goal, or does the goal hit me? Is "It" spiritual when seen by
    > the eyes of the body, and corporeal when seen by the eyes of the
    > spirit-or both or neither? Bow, arrow, goal and ego, all melt into one
    > another, so that I can no longer separate them. And even the need to
    > separate has gone. For as soon as I take the bow and shoot, everything
    > becomes so clear and straight-forward and so ridiculously simple....'
    > 'Now at last', the Master broke in, 'the bow-string has cut right
    > through you.'" [Eugen Herrigel, Zen in the Art of Archery p.86]
    > Interestingly, what most people report when they achieve something of
    > exceptional quality is an absence of "self-consciousness," that is, [to
    > my understanding] an absence of static self.

    True, but it comes back, though hopefully with less egoism. But on Pirsig
    and mysticism, my objection, as I posted recently to Matt, is that Pirsig
    has based his philosophy on centric mysticism, and not differential. As far
    as religious practice, they are simply two paths. But in making philosophy
    out of them, centric mysticism ends up being dualist, while differential
    does not. In my opinion, that is the root cause of all that I find
    objectionable to the MOQ.

    - Scott

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