Subjectivity: mind, self and soul

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I'm starting this thread not from a place of proposing any viewpoint, but to discuss members' views and potentially learn about this general, seemingly infinite topic. That topic being what generally pertains to the concepts or understanding of the mind, the self and the soul, and their distinctions from one another (if they exist).

If you conclude there is a self, do you equate it with the mind? Or not, and in what way(s)?

Similarly is the self the soul, or do you distinguish them? If they're the same, is the mind the same as the soul?

There are also all sorts of complexities around the concept of the self. Psychologically, in terms of our phenomenal experience, we all have a "sense of self" (or senses of self) - whether you're a materialist, dualist or idealist, whether conceived as illusory or real at an underlying level. But metapsychologically it does not necessarily follow that there is an underlying "self" (it can and has been argued both ways).

If there is one, in what way is that metapsychological "self" (a structure? an entity?) the same as or different from a philosophical or metaphysical sense of the self? And then what do you make of the 20th century philosophical attacks on the transcendent metaphysical-and-knowing Subject (the Cartesian Self as source of epistemological certainty)? If these attacks are right to some degree (selves are products of language, history, a web of intersubjectivity, there is not competely separate knowing subject), what does that leave in your conception of the "self"?

And then what is the "self" that continues after bodily death, as in "The Self Does Not Die" (Titus Rivas et al.)? Is it equated with that transcendent self in the philosophical tradition (that again, has been under attack) or is it another structure or "entity" at another level of understanding or reality?
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Here's one question I have following this excellent post by nbtruthman.

(2022-07-23, 10:01 AM)nbtruthman Wrote: Not so. Mind can't anywhere adequately be described as information processing. The essence of mind is conscious subjective awareness, qualia, thought, which are existential worlds apart from information processing in their basic nature. That's the "Hard Problem". 

The real findings:

Libet's experiments indicated that when you made a decision to push the button based on some inclination or feeling, you had a measurable brain wave electrical impulse that unconsciously preceded the conscious decision by half a second. Apparently indicating that the "free will" decision was actually the result of brain information processing.

But he was skeptical that that was the whole story. He elaborated the experiment to immediately follow up the initial button push decision with the instruction to the subject to immediately consciously decide to veto pushing the button. When the subject decided to veto pushing the button, there was no new brain wave at all. It was silent in terms of brain waves.

Libet could see from this experiment that you have the ability to decide whether or not you are going to comply with what your brain is urging you to do. And that that willed decision for compliance or not is not material. It’s not brain processing and brain electrical impulses. It’s immaterial. It might be called "free won't". And, he said, that’s the soul. That’s free will.

So Libet actually considered that really he had demonstrated scientifically that we have an immaterial power of mind, of will to make the decision to override our, you might say, material inclinations.

If this convinces me that free will exists when it comes to making choices, does that mean the rest of our mental experience is also "free"?

When I introspect into my experience, whether during meditation or observing my mind more generally, I notice what appears to be a very chaotic and unmastered and to some extent unguided process (or maybe a set of competing processes, some probably unconscious). Memories, thoughts get triggered or generated seemingly out of nowhere, even as I'm attempting to be still. There seems to be no freedom there. And I recognize here something close to the buddhist understanding of the "self" as a "bundle" of wishes and aversive reactions, stray associations and thoughts, etc.

I am not automatically and definitively concluding that there is therefore no "self" (nor would many buddhist traditions, where the concept of "non-self" or "no-self" is often misread in this way), but something inside "me" is observing that the contents of that "self" are discontinuous, impermanent, dependent on other mind activities or external factors (see also the buddhist theory of dependent origination or conditioned arising). How is this reconciled with free will, or am I confusing or conflating two different realities of the "mind"?
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Great questions, Ian. All we have are pointers and patterns on which to 'have a stab at it' and we certainly have more than enough of those now, but I don't think it's ever going to be knowable, of course that might be wrong.   What is it that floats around the operating room? (my 'stab at it') I would say an individual part of the totality of consciousness (god), a part of the whole but still separate and individual, that has always existed and cannot die. I don't believe life ever began so if that's so, logically it cannot end.

Is this consciousness represented as an etheric body? Yes, it seems to be the case that many of the people that have NDE's find that they are an etheric body with hands and feet and everything else (sans organs I would imagine but Natalie Sudman told me that if you want organs you can have them, if you see what I mean Smile which is 'thought form' territory, if I'm not mistaken. 

As you know, I like the data. During Tony Cicoria's NDE, when he first exited his physical body, he said that he was in an identical body, with the same clothes on etc. It was only when he was climbing the stairs that he, in his own words, began to dissolve into a ball of pure energy. But he was still him, he said.

My friend (now deceased) told me that he didn't have a body when he was floating around the room watching paramedics work on him, but when he'd traversed the tunnel and came out into this magnificent place, he said he definitely had a body and could put his hands in the water of a stream for instance  (interestingly, they didn't get wet)

Another friend of mine was walking around the hospital (whilst he was in a coma) passing through walls and doors as if they weren't there. I asked him if he could tell me what his 'vehicle' (body) was like and he said he wasn't thinking about it as he just felt himself to be himself, but he said he knew that if he wanted a hand to open a door, he could have had a hand or put a hand on the doorknob (of course it wouldn't have turned the knob or pressed down the handle) but he didn't need one, he just passed through matter effortlessly as they all seem to be able to do. In fact he could travel instantaneously anywhere he wanted to in the world and he did that, investigating inside old friend's houses, for instance, that he wanted to see again and he brought back some good evidence for that. Just as an aside, Anke Evertz's NDE seems to give us some additional clues, she said she could pass through matter or sit on matter (on the bed beside her physical body) by giving it specific attention.      

So, I don't know if I'm even on the right lines in trying to answer your question, but those are some of my thoughts for what they're worth (nothing in the eyes of materialists)
(This post was last modified: 2022-07-23, 05:31 PM by tim. Edited 3 times in total.)
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I think I have "questions" rather than "a question", so it's understandable you're only partially answering "it". Wink

I have the same take-aways from you from NDEs, and the conclusion that there is something like a "self" (with a sense of a continuity with what came previously, and with individuality/particularity - without that saying anything definite about how "long" that continues, or whether there's a deeper level where everything merges, or whether we're part of the universal Source at the same time, which I think we are).

Some of the questions I have that I tried to articulate above are to what extent that "self" is the same as the incarnate "mind" we have here (is it just part of our mind?, for example, free of the "ego", the ceaselessly desiring and aversion-avoiding mind activity) and how it relates to psychological, metapsychological and metaphysical views of the self.

And how we also account for that persistent identity on the one hand with on the other the sense of the chaotic mind stuff we seem to experience down here (or I do anyway, and others apparently). (Does the self past "death" experience more clarity, unity, etc.? Apparently cognitive functioning is exponentially increased, but does that mean there's no more freewheeling, wild horses-type of desiring?, etc. etc.)

Just those little questions! Big Grin
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(2022-07-23, 04:30 PM)Ninshub Wrote: to what extent that "self" is the same as the incarnate "mind"

The same, Ian, but we don't know what the properties of the mind are (mind equalling self, soul, me, you, a piece of consciousness. And will never know this side.

(2022-07-23, 04:30 PM)Ninshub Wrote: And how we also account for that persistent identity on the one hand with on the other the sense of the chaotic mind stuff we seem to experience down here (or I do anyway, and others apparently)

Because our identity, our self one might say, is a bit like a sponge that absorbs and picks up 'debris' (annoying unwanted thoughts and habits but said sponge can be washed clean when it's time for the sponge to come out of the water=earthly existence) 

(2022-07-23, 04:30 PM)Ninshub Wrote: (Does the self past "death" experience more clarity, unity, etc.? Apparently cognitive functioning is exponentially increased, but does that mean there's no more freewheeling, wild horses-type of desiring?, etc. etc.)
  
Don't they nearly all say they found perfect peace? I think everything negative that we are all plagued with here, will be gone and will not return until we are well into yet another usually less than satisfying existence, down here.
(This post was last modified: 2022-07-23, 06:34 PM by tim. Edited 10 times in total.)
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(2022-07-23, 05:01 PM)tim Wrote: The same, Ian, but we don't know what the properties of the mind are (mind equalling self, soul, me, you, a piece of consciousness. And will never know this side.


Because our identity, our self one might say, is a bit like a sponge that absorbs and picks up 'debris' (annoying unwanted thoughts and habits but said sponge can be washed clean when it's time for the sponge to come out of the water=earthly existence) 

  
Don't they nearly all say they found perfect peace? I think everything negative that we are all plagued with here, will be gone and will not return until we are well into yet another usually less than satisfying existence, down here.

Yes I do hope and if often sounds like that's "washed clean" (Diane Corcoran has a book that's a compilation of NDEs and other "mystical conversion" experiences called When Ego Dies). But if that's case I'm not sure if the individual incarnate "mind" is the same as that which continues after. Or, maybe I'd say it's the same to some extent, because there's continuity in the sense of identity, but parts of our mind, like fear, is often related as gone, so it's undergone some sort of process of "purification". Not sure I like that word, but something along those lines.

Are there accounts of running into selves in the afterlife that still need or choose to "meditate", to further the "cleaning" process? Wink

(Of course there are also accounts from experiencers who enter into an oceanic sense of a larger self where their particular identity seems to be dissolved and where they relate no continuity with their self on earth. I don't know if that's a "temporary" experience of merging into the "light" (Source), or it's another level or dimension that's occurring simultaneously. As if we could either have the point of a view of a continuing individual stream, but now expanded and more porous, of that of the full ocean itself. I'm not looking for definite answers here, just entertaining ideas.)

If we rule out fear and negativity as no longer part of the discarnate self, there's still the question of desire, of wanting, etc. Although then I can bring to mind teachers of spiritual paths who describe how we don't cease necessarily stop having desires when we become "enlightened", but they come from a peaceful space - desiring that is no longer needy or grasping, and that doesn't treat other selves as "objects" to be used, because of the knowledge of no separation.
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(2022-07-23, 07:57 PM)Ninshub Wrote: I'm not sure if the individual incarnate "mind" is the same as that which continues after.

I've alluded to (I don't want to go into it) in the past my own experience. I had no worries or problems at all in the beginning and yet I knew without any question that this was not the first time I'd been here. (I could tell you more than that of course).  What I'm saying is this me (now) is just the same as that me (then), only this me has, during the course of this life, (like everyone else) been buffeted by the relentless 'bombardment' that is life. I'm encrusted with barnacles, many I would like to remove but I can't. If you've got barnacles like me, all you can do is live with them. You can forget about them but they're still there, but that's okay.
(This post was last modified: 2022-07-24, 12:12 PM by tim. Edited 1 time in total.)
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Thanks for that, tim.
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I am a spiritual personalist and I agree with this excellent article by Titus Rivas:

Rebirth and Personal identity: Is Reincarnation an Intrinsically Impersonal Concept?


Quote:A third type of substantialism amounts to the theory that there is a plurality of ultimately irreducible individual souls rather than just a single divine one. There is a personal conscious subject, self or "I" who sees, thinks, feels, wants, etc. The physical body is not part of the real person in this spiritual sense and personal identity of the personal self cannot be affected by bodily death.
Quote:It is important to note that a personal self should be conceptually distinguished from its personality. A personality may be seen as an acquired (existential) pattern of psychological structures, attitudes and skills of a substantial personal self, which (essentially) always remains identical to itself.
Quote:In the context of reincarnation we will expect certain changes of personality through the processes of death, rebirth and childhood, but this does not mean those changes imply a new or different personal self. We would remain ourselves just as much as we remain ourselves in the course of a single earthly lifetime.
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I like the distinction there between personality and "substantial personal self", in the sense that it's interesting.

I'm aware of certain NDErs, though, who came back with an experience that told them that, without what you've been described, Raimo, being in any way false, at a higher level still in the spiritual journey that personal self (which reincarnates as you say) recognizes or remembers it is in itself a creation of Source, and in that very relative sense a "fiction", but a "fiction" (a sense of a personal self) that continues even while it merges into the Source!

If we follow that understanding, then, to use the example of what tim recounted, therefore, he remembers that he is not the personal body and that he is the same personal self between lifetimes and in between them I gather, but there is an additional level of amnesia he will eventually address in his journey, to remember that the personal self is the creation of the Source (without it being annihilated, in the sense that everything in Source remains as its "knowledge".)

Right or wrong, believable or not, accepted or rejected as such accounts may by you or I, I think NDEs, depending on how far the experiencer has gone into the after-death process, has the potential to be able to describe and illuminate a larger metaphysical framework than the reincarnation data just by itself.
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