The decombination problem, related arguments, and potential solutions: an analysis

12 Replies, 512 Views

Ian (pinging you as @Ninshub), here's my promised albeit very belated response to your posts earlier in the thread Dualism or idealist monism as the best model for survival after death data (you posted some of these after my promise to respond, and some of those weren't directed at me personally):
  • The three numbered #35 - #37, related to Bernardo's response to Titus's and my arguments against Bernardo's Analytic Idealism, and the articles you read as potential counter-arguments or solutions.
  • #49, regarding a Steve Taylor article on his panspiritism.
  • #51, in which you shared a Rupert Spira video in which he tries to convince an audience member who argues similarly to Titus.
  • #55, in which, in response to Sci, you quote Bernardo on dissociative identity disorder (DID) as evidence against Titus's argument (Sci responded in turn in #57).
  • #98, in which, again in response to Sci, you suggest a solution to Titus's argument.
Here's a numbered list of all of the articles referenced and at issue:
  1. Titus Rivas: Is noetic monism tenable?
  2. Me: The argument against Analytic Idealism from conflicting perspectives
  3. Itay Shani: Cosmopsychism: A Holistic Approach to the Metaphysics of Experience [paywalled], offered by Bernardo Kastrup as a solution to the decombination problem, on which he took Titus's and my arguments to be based.
  4. Yujin Nagasawa and Khai Wager: Panpsychism and Priority Cosmopsychism, which you offered as a possible solution to the argument(s)/problem(s) at issue.
  5. Gregory Miller: The Decombination Problem for Cosmopsychism is not the Heterogeneity Problem for Priority Monism, which you also shared; it responds to the above article.
  6. Nikolaj Pilgaard Petersen: Non-Constitutive Cosmopsychism: Countering the Decombination Problem, which you offered as another possible solution to the arguments(s)/problem(s) at issue.
  7. Steve Taylor: AN INTRODUCTION TO PANSPIRITISM: AN ALTERNATIVE TO MATERIALISM AND PANPSYCHISM, which you shared as a different solution to the argument(s)/problem(s) at issue, and one which might better fit my own views.
As I see it, there are three problems/arguments at issue in all of this:
  1. The incoherence of noetic monism (i.e., of all subjects/selves being one and the same), as argued by Titus Rivas (see above).
    Applies to: Any metaphysic in which multiple persons are recognised but which, it is claimed, are all ultimately the same conscious self. Typically, the metaphysic would be a variety of idealism/cosmopsychism, but perhaps not necessarily - perhaps the same claim could be made for, say, even a variety of substance dualism.
  2. The incoherence of a singular universal consciousness (mind) containing and in part comprising multiple lesser consciousnesses (minds), based on the conflicting perspectives (of the universal consciousness), as argued by me (see above).
    Applies to: Any (purportedly) non-solipsistic metaphysic holding that a single conscious mind exists within which other minds exist, notably, Analytic Idealism aka cosmopsychism.
  3. The decombination aka decomposition aka derivation aka fragmentation problem, widely referred to in the literature.
    Applies to: Any (purportedly) non-solipsistic metaphysic holding that a single conscious mind exists within which other minds exist, notably, Analytic Idealism aka cosmopsychism.
They're all related, but the first two are more specific, and the third is broader. Given that the second two apply in the same circumstances, and given the relatedness of all three, it's understandable that Bernardo conflated them.

In the rest of this post, I take each article above that proposes a solution to the decombination problem, and assess:
  1. What it considers the (decombination) problem to be.
  2. Its proposed solution.
  3. Whether or not, and why, it successfully solves/refutes each of the three problems/arguments listed above.
  4. More topically to this thread, what (if anything) it says or implies about survival.
I then respond to the other posts mentioned above.

Here goes:





Article #3 (by Itay Shani)

On the decombination problem:

"[T]he so-called decomposition problem [...] is considered a particularly formidable obstacle to cosmopsychism because it concerns the derivation of subjects from the absolute."

In essence, Itay's conception of the decombination problem is focussed on its being the reverse of the combination problem: the problem on panpsychism of how perspectives (in particular, although he recognises the more general problem) can be combined. He - rightly, in my view - endorses an argument concluding that one (conscious) perspective cannot be a combination of other (conscious) perspectives, which is what is entailed on the panpsychic view: that macro consciousnesses like those of humans are generated by combining the micro consciousnesses presumed to be possessed by, say, the fundamental particles of physics.

The decombination problem for cosmopsychism (the metaphysical system for which he advocates), then, as he sees it, is the problem of how (the perspectives of) "relative" consciousnesses like those of humans (are presumed to) compose the (perspective of the) "absolute" cosmic consciousness. Alternatively framed, it is the problem of how the (perspective of the) absolute consciousness decomposes into (the perspectives of) relative consciousnesses. Hence, his preferred nomenclature is "the decomposition problem".

Itay also frames the decombination (aka decomposition) problem as being a problem of grounding: that the fact of the absolute consciousness having a perspective fully grounds the fact of relative consciousnesses having their own perspectives. This hints at the tack his solution takes.

On the solution:

Itay's solution to this problem is simply to deny that on cosmopsychism any perspective does either compose - or decompose into - any other perspective: "the phenomenal perspectives of macro-subjects are neither composed, nor decomposed, from the phenomenal perspectives of ultimates", he contends explicitly. He justifies this contention by proposing that the fact that the ultimate of concrete reality (the "absolute" or cosmos) is a phenomenal subject is only a partial (as opposed to a full) grounding for the fact that there are relative subjects in the universe. He calls this "partial grounding" proposal "foundational panpsychism (FPP)" (emphasis in the original). Note that he affirms that FPP is a general proposal, and that his application of FPP to cosmopsychism is not the only possible (panpsychic) application.

He writes of his application to cosmopsychism of this idea of "partial" rather than "full" grounding: "Thus, in respect of its generic character, each conscious perspective of each relative subject is grounded in the fact that the absolute is itself a subject and, as such, the owner of a first-person point of view, but in respect of its specific character it is an independent entity which neither grounds any other perspective, nor being grounded by any. This dialectical stance provides a blueprint for addressing Coleman’s dilemma (see Section six) since it enables us to maintain that no perspective is literally a part of any other perspective while, simultaneously, hold on to the claim that [AP] is explanatorily relevant for [RP]."

In that quote, "[AP]" stands for "the fact that the absolute is graced with a perspective", and "[RP]" stands for "the fact that relative subjects like us are endowed with our own individual perspective".

He elaborates: "First, we hold that the absolute’s cosmic consciousness is a medium of subjective receptivity, a universal core-selfhood. When a relative subject is constructed within the absolute this receptivity, or interiority, of the underlying oceanic consciousness is imparted to it, furnishing it with a subjective dimension, that is, with the capacity to experience things as a self. However, each relative subject has a mind of its own: a spatiotemporally bounded meshwork of regimented mental activity with a crystallized ego-structure and a unique perspective. As mentioned before (see Section 7.2), this leads to a reflexive preoccupation with the vicissitudes, the contents, and the interests of that individual ego which, in turn, serves to obscure the connection to the cosmic consciousness that grounds all relative subjects and binds them together. Under such circumstances, the subjective receptivity which lies at the heart of an individual’s consciousness is constrained to function as a localized ipseity, that is, as the first-person addressee of the experiences of that particular subject. As a result, each relative subject enjoys an individual sense of selfhood (however dim or minimal it may be in simple subjects) despite the fact that, ultimately, all of these core-selves are grounded in an undivided universal selfhood."

On its success:

Re the decombination problem:

I don't personally contend that cosmopsychism / Analytic Idealism (incoherently) entails or requires that "relative" conscious perspectives "combine" or "compose" into (or "decombine" or "decompose" from) the "absolute" conscious perspective (although if such a combination/composition was possible - which I agree it is not - it might be of use in trying to construct a solution to the argument I have made). Itay's supposed solution to a problem (this framing of the so-called "decombination"/"decomposition" problem) that I don't contend to exist in the first place is, then, kind of irrelevant to me personally, which validates my response to Bernardo in the Google Groups discussion that I started.

Given that there was in my view nothing to solve in the first place when the decombination problem is framed in this way, and given that there is nothing especially unreasonable about Itay's solution, it seems fair to say that (from my perspective) it succeeds ("by default"). There are, though, other framings, one of which we'll come to in the next article (and especially in the responding article), which Itay doesn't solve here.

Too, whether or not Itay's solution succeeds for those who do consider this form of the decombination problem to be real is another matter. I suspect that some of them would consider his solution to be "mere words": a verbal artifice which fails to fundamentally change anything. He might have had more success in this respect by directly questioning why anyone would consider this to be a problem in the first place, and directly refuting those answers.

Re my argument:

This solution doesn't explicitly address my argument against Analytic Idealism from conflicting perspectives, but does it resolve it implicitly?

To do that, it would need to falsify one of that argument's premises. In my view, these are the most likely premises to attack:

Firstly, premise #4 might be attacked by affirming that by the analogy presented at that link, the chocolate chips (alters) are indeed separate from the dough (universal mind): that the universal mind is only the dough, and not the chocolate-chip cookie as a whole.

There are two problems with this line of attack, one of which is presented at that link - the universal applicability of the "laws" of physics - and the other of which is that Analytic Idealism / cosmopsychism is motivated by monist sentiments, and, thus, affirming a fundamental separation (albeit with intimate connections) between the universal mind and the alters is unlikely to be appealing to the idealist-cosmopsychist.

The closest Itay gets to affirming anything of this nature in this article is where he writes:

"Relative subjects are grounded in the subjective aspects of the absolute but they are nevertheless real enough. They have minds of their own with all the regular attributes of individual subjects, including private experiences, unique epistemic outlooks, and a core sense of self which resonates with these private mental realities. Moreover, under ordinary conditions there is an epistemic barrier which prevents relative subjects from suspecting that they are anything but self-contained egos: they appear to themselves as separate entities, clearly demarcated from one another as well as from pure objects."

Secondly, premise #11 might be attacked by contending that even though the universal mind is "the whole cookie", its mental energy (a term I defined here) in the region of each dissociated alter has a structure such that it "encapsulates" that alter's perspective, and, rather than becoming the perspective of the universal mind (which is the cause of the conflict of the argument's title), that alter's perspective is "contained" and then - with all of the other alters' perspectives - "multiplexed" within and to the universal mind.

Here, the attacker could contend that the universal mind is by analogy sitting in the control room of a security camera system, in which each camera's video stream (analogous to an alter's experiential perspective) is shown on a separate monitor, and although all are constantly visible, they do not conflict, and the universal mind can choose to which, if any, it turns its own attention.

Given that Itay wrote his article before I framed my argument, and that he appears to be otherwise unaware of the argument, he doesn't make any attempt to attack it in this way. A successful attack would have to have something plausible to say about how this "encapsulating and multiplexing" structure does what it does.

More generally, though, it would need to present a plausible case that it is logically possible for even one conscious, phenomenally-experiencing mind with its own perspective to literally be "inside" another conscious, phenomenally-experiencing mind with its own perspective, without there being any conflict between those minds and their perspectives - let alone for multiple perspectival minds to be literally inside another without conflict.

There does seem to me to be a logical problem with this "minds-in-a-mind" proposition which is laid bare by the framing of the decombination problem by Gregory Miller in article #5 (see below).

Re Titus's argument:

It's not totally clear to me whether Itay makes the claim that qualifies his cosmopsychism as being the noetic monism that Titus's argument refutes. On the one hand, we have the quote above in which he writes that relative subjects are "real enough" with "minds of their own" and "a core sense of self"; on the other, that quote was responding to the objection that "[cosmopsychism's] position on core-selfhood makes all subjects dissolve in the absolute; in other words, that on this account there is, really, only one subject—the absolute—with multiple windows on the world", an objection to which he refers as "a legitimate concern".

In any case, he at least doesn't seem to be aware of Titus's argument, and doesn't make any explicit attempt to refute it.

On survival:

This article doesn't seem to have anything explicitly to say as to whether or not consciousness survives biological death.





Article #4 (by Yujin Nagasawa and Khai Wager)

On the decombination problem:

"[T]he problem in question asks how the cosmic consciousness can be built from medium-size individual consciousnesses", and, further, with the label of the "derivation" problem, it is (as a question): "How could medium-size individual consciousnesses be derived from the cosmic consciousness?"

Yujin and Khai thus frame the problem broadly and rather vaguely, simply in terms of composition and derivation, without focussing on any particular aspect of consciousness which is composed or which derives, such as that of perspective which is Itay's focus.

Gregory Miller, in article #5, responds to this article. Gregory defines the decombination problem (as a question) as: "how can a subject and its experience decompose into other subjects and their experiences?"

On the solution:

Yujin and Khai attempt to solve the decombination problem by contending that:

"It is reasonable to assume that the cosmic consciousness is somewhat comparable to the consciousness of an ordinary individual because, after all, it is a form of consciousness. If we can then show that the consciousness of an ordinary individual can be divided into smaller, less fundamental segments, then we have reason to think that the cosmic consciousness can also be divided into smaller, less fundamental segments. And it seems indeed possible to divide the consciousness of an ordinary individual into smaller segments.

"Consider, for example, a visual experience. A visual experience can be considered to be a unity which may be segmented into distinguishable color experiences (e.g., experiences corresponding to red and green hues) or experiences of separable regions in space (e.g., experiences corresponding to the right-hand side and the left-hand side of the visual field). Yet the whole visual experience is considered to be a unity that is more fundamental than the segments. Perhaps the cosmic consciousness unifies individual consciousnesses in a similar way."


They go on to present a "parallel" between priority cosmopsychism and priority monism:

"Priority monism states that the concrete cosmos, as an integrated whole, is the only basic concrete object and other ordinary concrete objects are derived from it. Priority cosmopsychism states that the cosmic consciousness, as an integrated whole, is the only basic form of consciousness and ordinary consciousnesses are derived from it."

Based on this parallel, they claim that "Schaffer (2010, 57) offers a number of possible solutions to the derivation problem for priority monism and the same responses can be adapted to answer the derivation problem for priority cosmopsychism."

For brevity, I won't list those "Schafferian" responses here, but they are referenced below in Gregory Miller's refutation.

On its success:

Re the decombination problem:

I agree with Gregory's thoughtful refutation of this article's argument with respect to the decombination problem. He explicates in compelling detail my vaguer intuitive response to Yujin and Khai's article: that there is more than one type of heterogeneity/homogeneity to consider, and that even if one - phenomenal qualitative heterogeneity within a homogeneous cosmic subject - can be defended by the "Schafferian" responses, the other - phenomenal structural heterogeneity within a homogeneous cosmic subject - cannot.

As Gregory puts it in addressing those Schafferian responses (footnotes elided):

"Consider first the difference claim in support of (1*S). It seems to be the case if the cosmos-subject did have a structurally heterogeneous consciousness, then it would indeed differ from itself. This is because we appear to take the unity and boundedness of consciousness to individuate conscious subjects, such that where we have unified and bounded consciousnesses we have different subjects. In short, the difference claim for (1*S) seems to be justified by the typical ways in which we conceive of conscious subjects as phenomenal unities.

"The nothing special response misses its target when it comes to structural homogeneity. It is true that the difference claim fails to pick out something special about fundamental subjects, but this does not matter. The difference claim applies to all subjects, fundamental or otherwise — that is the point. There is not something special about fundamental subjects which means they must be phenomenally unified, but something
general about all subjects which means they must.

"The conflation response also does not work here. If a putative fundamental subject has a consciousness which we describe as structurally heterogeneous, then it would differ from itself numerically. There is no conflation of structural and numerical distinctness here, for it is the structural distinctness of phenomenal unity and disunity which equates to the numerical distinctness of subjects. In short, if the ‘cosmos-subject’ had a disunified consciousness, then it would not be a single subject but would be two or more conscious subjects, and cosmopsychism would thereby be false.

"Consider now the arrangement claim. To say that the structural heterogeneity that we find between subjects like ourselves must be explained by a structurally homogeneous cosmos-subject is not to insist upon a type of explanation. Rather, it is simply to assert that subjects, including the cosmos-subject, cannot be structurally heterogeneous. An objection to cosmopsychism must show that a structurally heterogeneous cosmos-subject cannot go on to explain structurally heterogeneous organic subjects (like us). This is precisely what the argument shows, for a structurally heterogeneous subject cannot exist. To claim that
this is question-begging is to miss the force of the argument. If we were to suppose, as the cosmopsychist would suggest, that we need to assume structural heterogeneity of our basic subject and formulate an argument against deriving structural heterogeneity from it, then they would be giving up their assumption of cosmopsychism: if the cosmos as a whole is a subject, then it cannot be structurally heterogeneous; if it were, then it would be more than one basic subject."

Gregory thus frames the problem (in my paraphrasing, to which hopefully he would not object) essentially as a logical one of numerical misidentification: necessarily, a conscious subject is structurally unified phenomenally, and thus singular; the plurality of conscious subjects that the cosmic consciousness is said to also "be" then contradicts this, because, necessarily, a plurality of subjects structurally disunifies the cosmic consciousness phenomenally.

This is the logical problem to which I referred above re the potential attack on premise #11 of my own argument.

Now, some might suggest that the premise that, necessarily, a conscious subject is structurally unified begs the question. Regardless, it seems to me to be defensible, although Gregory doesn't go to great lengths to defend it in his article, seeming instead somewhat to simply take it to be self-evident.

Re my argument:
...and...
Re Titus's argument:

Beyond the decombination problem, the authors consider three objections to priority cosmopsychism, however, none of them seem related to either Titus's or my argument. The authors seem neither to have anticipated, nor even to have accidentally addressed, either argument.

On survival:

This article doesn't seem to have anything explicitly to say as to whether or not relative consciousnesses survive biological death.





Article #6 (by Nikolaj Pilgaard Petersen)

On the decombination problem:

The decombination problem is "how to consistently maintain the claim that individual subjects are grounded in one absolute consciousness", or (as questions), "How is the division or differentiation of the cosmic consciousness into individual minds to be explained? How can the concept of the individual subject be maintained if an all-embracing consciousness is posited?", and "Since discrete perspective seems to be inextricably linked to consciousness, how can the move from the perspective of the cosmic consciousness to the discrete perspectives of the derivative subjects be explained?" (footnote elided).

Nikolaj, then, frames the problem as arising due to the constitutive nature of cosmopsychism (one cosmic consciousness simultaneously being constituted of multiple lesser consciousnesses). His framing has significant similarities with Itay's framing inasmuch as Nikolaj too emphasises perspective and mentions grounding.

On the solution:

This article specifically aims to solve the decombination problem, which it tries to do by positing and describing what it calls "non-constitutive" cosmopsychism.

Its solution in essence is that, conceptually, it is not consciousness per se that is fundamental, but a singular substance. This substance, though, has the capacity for consciousness, and that capacity is realised (in individual subjects) via the substance's "EICO" structure: its "experience- and interaction-constituting and -organizing structure". Here's a relevant quote from the article:

"The way the model avoids this problem [that is, the decombination problem --Laird] is that consciousness (understood as requiring experiential content) is not considered ultimately fundamental. Consciousness is ever-present due to the nature and structuring of reality, but ultimately it is not consciousness per se, but rather, per the hypothesis, the one (experiencing) substance that is fundamental—and due to a particular characteristic of it, expressed in the model as the EICO structure, experience, and thus consciousness, are continually present."

Here's some further elaboration from the article:

"It is worth reemphasizing that, unlike most cosmopsychistic models, it is in the model outlined above not a cosmic consciousness that forms the absolute ground of reality, but instead the one undivided substance: that which experiences. Experience, and consequently consciousness, only enter along with the EICO structure, and with that the subject as well. On this model, in other words, it is not a fundamental cosmic consciousness that branches into individual minds and subjects, as is often the case in cosmopsychist literature. Instead, the absolute is here the one, undivided substance (which can be said to possess consciousness, as the absolute subject, but which itself is not pure consciousness), and the existence of the conscious subjects (both the individual subjects and the absolute subject) is in virtue of the EICO structure."

Finally, just for clarity, there's this from the article:

"Were the one substance to exist without the EICO structure, there would be no perspectives or experiences, and thus no subjects." (And thus, presumably, no consciousness itself, which is what I wanted us to gain clarity on).

On its success:

Re the decombination problem:

It seems, then, that there is on this model no singular universal mind, only multiple individual minds formed out of a singular substance. That, really, is the essence of its solution, which I think succeeds, but which also in this sense strips from cosmopsychism that which seems hitherto to have been an important and close to defining feature (at least on Bernardo's conception): a universal conscious mind, no (mere) substance.

Re my argument:

For the same reason that it does not posit a universal mind (the perspectives of which conceivably could conflict), this solution escapes my argument.

Re Titus's argument:

It's not entirely clear to me whether Nikolaj's proposal is one of the noetic monism which Titus's argument defeats. For example, how should this excerpt, which seems to come closest to answering this question, be interpreted? I've emphasised in bold the parts that are suggestive of a noetic monist interpretation:

"The crucial element needed in the model to account for the existence of the individual subject while at the same time holding that its substance component is part of the undivided one substance is therefore a conceptual distinction between the subject as such (metaphorically, the ray, including the light of the ray) and its substance component (the light itself). It should be noted, though, that this is a conceptual distinction. The subject is one and undivided, but to understand its nature within the realm of theoretical models, analytic or conceptual distinctions are necessary to provide intelligible descriptions of the phenomena in question.

"The “individuality” of these substantive components is thus—similar to Martinus’ view (and to some degree Sprigge’s)—intrinsically linked to centers of experience or instances of perspective. In this model, the individual subject can be understood as the manifestation, so to speak, of the particular part of the one substance that is linked to an instance of perspective or center of experience. That is, the substance part is the substantive foundation (the metaphysical “self”—that which experiences) of the individual subject. Or, to put it another way, the subject can be analyzed as consisting of three components: something that experiences (and interacts), something that allows for experiencing (or interacting), and the concrete experience itself (in the form of the appearances of other parts of the one substance). So, that which is experiencing (this metaphysical “self”) is the only part of the subject that is of actual substantive character; it thus makes up the substance component of the subject."


This article demonstrates no awareness of Titus's argument, and, if, indeed, it is proposing "one subject to rule them all" (so to speak), then it does not offer a solution to Titus's argument.

On survival:

This article explicitly endorses survival (footnotes elided): "Given acceptance of this model, it seems plausible that the subject does not perish by physical death, but instead is of permanent character, since its metaphysical triadic structure is of such character."





Article #7 (by Steve Taylor)

On the decombination problem:

The decombination problem is that of "how the larger conscious entity of the universe gives rise to smaller conscious beings, such as human beings" or "how the consciousness of smaller objects relates to—or is derived from—the consciousness of the whole universe", and "In relation to Kastrup’s work, Chalmers (2020) terms this the “fragmentation problem” of how universal mind divides into individual minds."

Steve thus frames the problem broadly as one of explaining the relation between cosmic consciousness and smaller consciousnesses, or of explaining the derivation or division of the latter from the former.

On the solution:

The panspiritism of this article solves the decombination problem by a sort-of-but-not-really dualism, in which a fundamental consciousness generates matter, with that fundamental consciousness then being filtered or "canalised" by structures of that matter such as brains. It is important though to note that this fundamental "consciousness" is not a conscious subject, but rather "a dynamic ocean of spiritual energy and potential". Thus, there were no conscious minds to start with; they only came into existence when matter developed its consciousness-"canalising" structures.

On its success:

Re the decombination problem:

This panspiritist solution to the decombination problem, then, is in essence rather like the solution of the previous article: to dispense with the notion of a singular universal mind (which thus no longer needs to be reconciled with the existence of multiple individual minds). To this extent, I think that it succeeds.

I object, though, to referring to non-subjective "spiritual energy and potential" as consciousness, because, in my lexicon, consciousness is necessarily subjective: there can be no consciousness without a subject of consciousness; "subjective consciousness" is in this sense (in my lexicon) strictly a tautology, and "non-subjective consciousness" strictly an oxymoron.

Re my argument:

For the same reason that it does not posit a universal mind (the perspectives of which conceivably could conflict), this solution, just as for the solution of the previous article, escapes my argument.

Re Titus's argument:

As for the last article, it's not clear to me whether or not noetic monism is being proposed in this article. I suspect not, because although there is a fundamental consciousness, that consciousness does not have a subject, and thus there is prima facie no subject to serve as the one and only subject. If I am wrong about this though, Steve at least does not seem to have anticipated nor even accidentally addressed Titus's reasoning.

On survival:

Considering the following two quotes, from slightly different parts of the article, it seems that Steve's panspiritism denies personal survival:

"Life forms continually receive and canalize fundamental consciousness, for every moment of their lives till death."

"From this point of view, death can be seen as the point where the brain and body are no longer able to receive and canalize fundamental consciousness."

On its compatibility with my views:

(2022-07-21, 10:09 PM)Ninshub Wrote: I'm wondering if this approach might not be better fitted to Laird's own views as I can perhaps intuit partially from that Google group.

Somewhat, in that my working is-it-or-is-it-not-really-dualistic hypothesis is similar to Steve's: that consciousness preceded and created matter. Unlike Steve, though, on my working hypothesis (1) the original consciousness (or consciousnesses) is a conscious self aka a subject, and (2) the original consciousness(es) also created (us) subsequent conscious selves, which interface with the matter it/they created, rather than (as on Steve's view) our conscious selves coming into being through some sort of "canalisation" of a non-subjective prior "consciousness", and extinguishing themselves upon cessation of the "canalising" matter losing its canalisating structure (at biological death).





The Rupert Spira video of post #51

(2022-07-23, 03:45 PM)Ninshub Wrote: Rupert brings some arguments to consider whether an individual mind can have two different phenomenal experiences simultaneously. E.g. the example of a pianist playing two melodies simultaneously, or how I am aware simultaneously of both my visual and my auditory experiences.

Here are the paraphrased points, claims, arguments, and analogies that I noted Rupert making in that video, and my responses:

The first:

Rupert (paraphrased): The logical coherence of a single mind experiencing multiple (different) simultaneous phenomenal streams is justified by analogy to a single mind experiencing a single phenomenal stream over multiple (different) instants in time, which we know from personal experience is possible because it occurs.

My response: Paraphrased like that, it's clear that this claim is false. The analogy is tenuous at best and certainly not strong enough for this claim to hold. Its latter part is obviously free from contradiction. Its former is not, and is too different to the latter for the latter's logical coherence to carry over by analogy.

The second:

Rupert (paraphrased): In the same way that a pianist plays two different melodies at the same time, a single mind can experience two different phenomenal streams at the same time.

My response: This conflates that to which Gregory Miller (see above) refers as phenomenal structural heterogeneity with that to which he refers as phenomenal qualitative heterogeneity. The latter (within a single mind) is coherent. The former (again, within a single mind), as Gregory points out, is not. In my own words: that one mind can have simultaneous (heterogeneous) experiences within a singular phenomenal stream in no way proves that one mind can experience multiple distinct phenomenal streams simultaneously.

The third:

Rupert (paraphrased): The questioner's simultaneous experiences of feeling his hand on the mic, seeing the room, and hearing Rupert's voice proves that a single mind can experience multiple phenomenal streams at the same time.

My response: As above.

The fourth:

Rupert (paraphrased): Universal consciousness "excludes" or "forgets" everything that is taking place in other minds (and thus that isn't taking place in the questioner's mind).

My response: Titus directly addresses this fallacious contention in his article.

The fifth:

Rupert (paraphrased): Our experience is that our awareness is unlimited, so there can be only one awareness.

My response: Firstly, I am not even sure what he means by our experience of our awareness being "unlimited". On a straightforward reading, it seems false. My awareness right now is limited to the experience of composing this post. In what sense does Rupert consider it to be "unlimited"? Let's assume though that his claim is meaningful in some sense. The conclusion still does not follow. Take the integers. These are an infinite (unlimited) set, but they can also be partitioned into two contiguous infinite (unlimited) sets. For example, the set of negative integers and the set of positive integers. Thus, even being contiguously unlimited in the same domain (sets of integers as an analogy with minds conceived of as, say, sets of experience) does not prove that there is only one (infinite aka unlimited) set/mind. To put it another way: that the set of negative integers is unlimited does not entail that it is identical with the set of all integers, just as my mind being unlimited would not entail that it is identical with all minds.

The sixth:

Rupert (paraphrased): The logical coherence of a single mind (Consciousness) experiencing multiple (different) simultaneous phenomenal streams is justified by analogy to personal dreaming: just as when we dream personally we mistakenly perceive a subject-object distinction where there is none - because both dreamer and dream environment are (parts of) the same personal mind - so Consciousness is the "Dreamer" having an experience through all of us "dream subjects".

My response: When we dream personally we remain a single subject with a single phenomenal stream, so this analogy does not prove what Rupert says it does. He goes on to make the same "exclusion" and "forgetting" claim, this time with respect to the dream subjects, which I addressed above by reference to Titus's article.





Your post, #55, quoting Bernardo on dissociative identity disorder (DID)

On reflection, the main thing I want to say here is that I think Sci's response (in post #57) is spot-on.

The only thing I want to add is that, strictly, this "DID shared dream" argument begs the question: it simply assumes that the different alters in this shared dream are the same conscious subject simultaneously experiencing itself as multiple alters (as opposed, say, to the co-creation scenario that Sci suggests), which is the very proposition in contention.





Your post, #98, suggesting another solution to Titus's argument

In response to Sci in post #58, you write:

(2022-08-08, 05:33 AM)Ninshub Wrote:
(2022-07-24, 12:52 AM)Sciborg_S_Patel Wrote: While still largely agnostic toward "God", I'm pretty much cool with all of this as possibility, with the exception of the Single True Subject.

I guess to me if one person is carrying another, you have two separate people where one person is helping the other. But if there's only a Single True Subject, doesn't this mean both people are actually One? This seems even more stark when one person is attacking/hurting the other?

What if the STS is the awareness (the witness consciousness), as differentiated from the subjective localized minds and their contents, doesn't that take care of the problem?

I didn't notice a response to this post of yours, so here's mine:

Maybe by "witness consciousness" you're alluding to something like the "security camera system" analogy I made above, in which the universal mind (in the "control room") can choose which of the "monitors" (localised minds) it pays attention to ("witnesses").

If so, that seems to be a response to a different argument (my argument from conflicting perspectives). Titus's argument remains sound: that the STS / witness consciousness and each of the subjective localised minds cannot literally be the same conscious subject, because they each have a different phenomenal stream, which is how we identify which conscious subject is which.





Conclusion

The three problems/arguments at issue, distinct but similar, have interesting relations. As seen in my response to the Rupert Spira video, Gregory Miller's conception of the decombination problem can be used to buttress a defence of Titus Rivas's argument against noetic monism, and both Itay Shani's conception of the decombination problem and my argument from conflicting perspectives focus on conscious perspectives: whereas the decombination problem on Itay's conception denies that multiple different conscious perspectives (de)combine, my argument denies that multiple different conscious perspectives can be identical; this, in turn, calls back to mind Titus's argument, which denies that multiple different conscious subjects can be identical.

Titus's argument seems to me to be the most cogent. My argument offers the most number of premises which can most plausibly be challenged, and is - aside from Itay's conceptualisation of the decombination problem, which I think was recognisably defeasible from the get-go - perhaps the least cogent, although nobody yet seems to have taken it seriously enough (or even paid it any attention) to have plausibly challenged it. Gregory Miller's conception and defence of the decombination problem seems to me to be only moderately behind Titus's argument in terms of cogency.

Cosmopsychism, also going by Analytic Idealism on Bernardo Kastrup's terminology, remains, after this analysis, susceptible to the decombination problem on Gregory Miller's conception and defence of it, to Titus's argument (it is arguably unclear though that this is the case on Itay's defence of cosmopsychism), and, more weakly, to my own argument. I accept that it is not susceptible to the decombination problem as Itay conceives of it.

Both the "non-constitutive cosmopsychism" proposed by Nikolaj Pilgaard Petersen, and the "panspiritism" proposed by Steve Taylor evade the decombination problem in all its forms we've considered, and also evade my argument. It's not clear whether or not they're susceptible to Titus's argument.

Topically, only one of the articles considered explicitly endorses survival: Nikolaj Pilgaard Petersen's. The rest either strongly imply it to be false or don't even mention it.





End note

This response has been a long time coming. I might cheekily justify its verbosity by saying that I proportioned that to the magnitude of its lateness. Ian, I hope that all of this is of some value to you - and of course to others too.

Given the very limited extent to which this post is topical given this thread's actual subject, I'd be happy to split it out on request into a new thread.
(This post was last modified: 2023-12-20, 11:57 PM by Laird. Edited 1 time in total. Edit Reason: Added a link to the thread from which this was split )
[-] The following 6 users Like Laird's post:
  • Sciborg_S_Patel, Silence, nbtruthman, Ninshub, Raimo, tim
Well, I haven't even had time to read much of that post, Laird, but you deserve more than a like for even taking the time to construct that absolutely colossal post (the work involved and so eloquently and precisely) ! Kudos ! Happy Christmas to you and everyone on the forum !
[-] The following 6 users Like tim's post:
  • Larry, Raimo, Sciborg_S_Patel, Silence, Typoz, Laird
Thanks, tim! I'm glad you're back with us - before your return I had been wondering where you were, and, to be honest, worrying a little. Happy Xmas to you and to the rest of the forum crew too!
[-] The following 3 users Like Laird's post:
  • Sciborg_S_Patel, Typoz, tim
(2023-12-20, 01:03 PM)Laird Wrote: Thanks, tim! I'm glad you're back with us - before your return I had been wondering where you were, and, to be honest, worrying a little. Happy Xmas to you and to the rest of the forum crew too!

Thanks, Laird ! I've no plans to check out just yet, but when I do "turn my toes up", "buy the farm", "give up the ghost", "shuffle off this mortal coil", "peg out", "kick the bucket" and "cash in my chips".... hopefully that new 'fangled', deluxe spiricom gadget that someone's working on will have been perfected.  I'll volunteer to be the first to give you all a call from wherever I find myself.
[-] The following 7 users Like tim's post:
  • Larry, Raimo, Sciborg_S_Patel, Typoz, Silence, nbtruthman, Laird
Wow, Laird! Smile Incredible amount of work you put in there. Why am I not surprised with that coming from you? Wink Well done, my friend. I'll my time to digest that slowly.
[-] The following 3 users Like Ninshub's post:
  • tim, Sciborg_S_Patel, Laird
(2023-12-20, 04:26 AM)Laird Wrote: Given the very limited extent to which this post is topical given this thread's actual subject, I'd be happy to split it out on request into a new thread.

Really excellent stuff, I would say it *deserves* its own thread to properly discuss rather than shifting it due to the original topic.

There are definitely things I need to take a second look at, and I would like to be able to ask for some clarifications as there's a lot to unpack. All of which might work better in a new thread...
'Historically, we may regard materialism as a system of dogma set up to combat orthodox dogma...Accordingly we find that, as ancient orthodoxies disintegrate, materialism more and more gives way to scepticism.'

- Bertrand Russell


[-] The following 4 users Like Sciborg_S_Patel's post:
  • Larry, Ninshub, Laird, tim
(2023-12-20, 05:43 PM)Sciborg_S_Patel Wrote: Really excellent stuff, I would say it *deserves* its own thread to properly discuss rather than shifting it due to the original topic.

Thanks for the suggestion. Duly moved to its own thread.

(2023-12-20, 05:43 PM)Sciborg_S_Patel Wrote: There are definitely things I need to take a second look at, and I would like to be able to ask for some clarifications as there's a lot to unpack. All of which might work better in a new thread...

No worries, and I'm happy to answer requests for clarification.
[-] The following 3 users Like Laird's post:
  • tim, Ninshub, Sciborg_S_Patel
I got through maybe a third to half of Critical & Clear Thinking's "A series on clear semantic modelling, ontology, idealism, and dualism" last night.

Great site, I think you really lay down some good terminology and clarification by which we can examine Psi, Survival, and Consciousness.

That said, as is natural, I do have some questions. To start with:

Quote:Too, each component of experience, and, as applicable, that which it represents, consists in some sort of energy, or, in other words, some sort of "stuff".

I am not fully clear on what Energy as a term is doing here. Does refer to some kind of underlying Ground of Reality that *could* be the Energy of Physics but also include other possibilities like a kind of Spirit or even just Consciousness in the case of Idealism?
'Historically, we may regard materialism as a system of dogma set up to combat orthodox dogma...Accordingly we find that, as ancient orthodoxies disintegrate, materialism more and more gives way to scepticism.'

- Bertrand Russell


(This post was last modified: 2023-12-21, 05:40 PM by Sciborg_S_Patel. Edited 1 time in total.)
[-] The following 1 user Likes Sciborg_S_Patel's post:
  • Laird
(2023-12-21, 05:39 PM)Sciborg_S_Patel Wrote: I got through maybe a third to half of Critical & Clear Thinking's "A series on clear semantic modelling, ontology, idealism, and dualism" last night.

Great site, I think you really lay down some good terminology and clarification by which we can examine Psi, Survival, and Consciousness.

Thanks, Sci. I really appreciate that positive feedback.

(2023-12-21, 05:39 PM)Sciborg_S_Patel Wrote: That said, as is natural, I do have some questions. To start with:


I am not fully clear on what Energy as a term is doing here. Does refer to some kind of underlying Ground of Reality that *could* be the Energy of Physics but also include other possibilities like a kind of Spirit or even just Consciousness in the case of Idealism?

That's one way of putting it, yep. It's a generic term for the basic, shared nature of anything that exists and is non-abstract (i.e., not an idea, concept, argument, theory, Platonic form, etc).

I might need to hone its definition, but one way I define it is in the first premise of the argument here:

"That which is both differentiated and dynamic consists in energy of some type."

That doesn't make it explicit that "energy" as I'm defining it is non-abstract, but it's implied because (on my conception) the abstract, though it can be differentiated, can't be dynamic (I mean this in the sense that, say, Plato's forms, are static and unchanging) - it's only the "tangible" that can change form.

[Edit: also, that premise does not contain a complete definition of "energy" as I'm conceiving of it: that which is differentiated and dynamic necessarily is energy on my definition, but energy (on my definition) also need not be differentiated and dynamic; it could be static, so long as it's tangible aka non-abstract in some sense. If this isn't making sense, then I'm happy to try to refine this term with you.]
(This post was last modified: 2023-12-22, 03:06 AM by Laird. Edited 2 times in total.)
[-] The following 1 user Likes Laird's post:
  • Sciborg_S_Patel
(2023-12-22, 02:58 AM)Laird Wrote: That's one way of putting it, yep. It's a generic term for the basic, shared nature of anything that exists and is non-abstract (i.e., not an idea, concept, argument, theory, Platonic form, etc).

Apologies if I come as pedantic, I just want to make sure I grasp this ->

So under some Idealism you'd make the differentiation between something like my thought of a house which is a "private reality" (to borrow from Kastrup) and the energy of the mentally created "consensus reality"?

Admittedly one might say this is actually a point against Idealism, that it cannot adequately differentiate between mere thoughts and imagining versus actuality...not sure I'd agree but it does feel like a challenge to that metaphysics that has to be addressed...
'Historically, we may regard materialism as a system of dogma set up to combat orthodox dogma...Accordingly we find that, as ancient orthodoxies disintegrate, materialism more and more gives way to scepticism.'

- Bertrand Russell


(This post was last modified: 2023-12-22, 06:12 PM by Sciborg_S_Patel. Edited 1 time in total.)

  • View a Printable Version
Forum Jump:


Users browsing this thread: 1 Guest(s)