Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The central problem is that of locating mind with respect to the physical world

Chapter Four–On The Nature Of The Physical World In order to emphasize the analogy between Whitehead’s ideas and those of Sri Aurobindo, I will refer to Eternal Objects as determinate possibility (this is a shorthand for determinate possibilities of Existence, or Sat). ... Eric Weiss -

Thought is a further differentiation of consciousness. Thought is “consciousness of factors prescinded from their background of Fact.”62 In thought, factors that have been singled out in awareness by adjective are separated off from the other factors to which they are intrinsically related, and are thus experienced as individual. Thought accomplishes this individualization of entities by “limiting consciousness to awareness of the contrast of factors.”63 A factor which is thought about will be called an ‘entity.’ While factors are intrinsically interrelated, entities stand out with a kind of apparent self-existence.

This contrast between awareness and thought is one of the most distinctive features of a Whiteheadian approach to the analysis of Fact. Whitehead’s Empiricist predecessors, Berkeley, Locke, and Hume, were also engaged in attempting to ground human knowledge in direct experience, but they made the crucial assumption that experience consists of discrete impressions. Thus they assumed, for example, that sensory experience begins with discrete patches of various colors, discrete sensations of pressure, of temperature, and so forth, and that thought and other perceptual operations are built up by customary associations among these more primitive elements.

Whitehead grounds his philosophical reasoning in a re-examination of the field of everyday experience. He points out that discrete entities emerge in consciousness out of a background that has already been, in awareness, pre-cognitively differentiated into a system of interrelated factors. Thought emerges out of and is grounded in awareness.


integral praxis December 17, 2008 Consciousness and its Place in Nature
Consciousness and its Place in Nature By David Chalmers

Consciousness fits uneasily into our conception of the natural world. On the most common conception of nature, the natural world is the physical world. But on the most common conception of consciousness, it is not easy to see how it could be part of the physical world. So it seems that to find a place for consciousness within the natural order, we must either revise our conception of consciousness, or revise our conception of nature.

In twentieth-century philosophy, this dilemma is posed most acutely in C. D. Broad's The Mind and its Place in Nature. The phenomena of mind, for Broad, are the phenomena of consciousness. The central problem is that of locating mind with respect to the physical world. Broad's exhaustive discussion of the problem culminates in a taxonomy of seventeen different views of the mental-physical relation. On Broad's taxonomy, a view might see the mental as nonexistent ("delusive"), as reducible, as emergent, or as a basic property of a substance (a "differentiating" attribute). The physical might be seen in one of the same four ways. (The seventeenth entry arises from Broad's division of the substance/substance view according to whether one substance or two is involved.)

At the end, three views are left standing: those on which mentality is an emergent characteristic of either a physical substance or a neutral substance, where in the latter case, the physical might be either emergent or delusive. Read More: Here

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