Further to: A Princeton prof attempts to explain consciousness. Hush, we may be hearing answers now,
Well, that should take care of the defamation problem.
How can a vanishing self complain of defamation?
Okay, here is what Harris told Gutting:
The feeling that we call “I”— the sense of being a subject inside the body — is what it feels like to be thinking without knowing that you are thinking. The moment that you truly break the spell of thought, you can notice what consciousness is like between thoughts — that is, prior to the arising of the next one. And consciousness does not feel like a self. It does not feel like “I.” In fact, the feeling of being a self is just another appearance in consciousness (how else could you feel it?).
There are glimmers of this insight in the Western philosophical tradition, as you point out. But the West has never had a truly rigorous approach to introspection. The only analog to a Tibetan or Indian yogi sitting for years in a cave contemplating the nature of consciousness has been a Christian monastic exerting a similar effort praying to Jesus. There is a wide literature on Christian mysticism, of course. But it is irretrievably dualistic and faith-based. Along with Jews and Muslims, Christians are committed to the belief that the self (soul) really exists as a separate entity and that the path forward is to worship a really existing God. Granted, Buddhism and Hinduism have very crowded pantheons, and a fair number of spooky and unsupportable doctrines, but the core insight into the illusoriness of the self can be found there in a way that it can’t in the Abrahamic tradition. And cutting through this illusion does not require faith in anything. More.
Many people would be surprised to learn that consciousness does not feel like a self.
If only that were true. If only one could wish one’s toothache to belong to some utter non-self vanishing into a mist somewhere. Now, that’d be the day.
To make some sense of any of this, see: Would we give up naturalism to solve the hard problem of consciousness?
See also: The Science Fictions series at your fingertips (the human mind)
Anyway, hey, thanks for responding to our survey, Sam. We were trying to do a survey of non-selves, but ran into problems (our instructors were real mad at us) until we encountered you and your crowd.
Re consciousness, we’re still trying to figure out how one can cast doubt on the existence of a fishing hook because the hook catches fish but never another hook. Never mind, we would also like to know how people can use terms like I, you, we, they, when they actually are not selves. Hey, we’ll probably get kicked out of school before we turn in our group term paper, so not to worry about getting back to us soon.
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