I am legion!

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Ann O'Nymous
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I am legion!

Postby Ann O'Nymous » Sat Jul 12, 2014 8:50 pm

Hello. I came across this site thanks to a post to a Yahoo a Group that I am a member of.
Intellectually, I know that my "self" is not an objective entity; but what this actually means is something I have yet to discover.

I am curious to discover what the world would be like without a self. I am sceptical about seeing this. Perhaps there are Selves, even if Self does not exist.

Am I not a sentient being with a unique DNA code whose thoughts, experiences and feelings are unique to Me and Me Alone?

I think I will take some convincing. I need a persistent and patient guide if I am to see what so many others claim to see!

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neeeel
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Re: I am legion!

Postby neeeel » Sun Jul 13, 2014 1:41 pm

Hey, I can be your guide if you like.

I am curious to discover what the world would be like without a self.
You already know what the world is like without a self, because in all your life up to now, there has been no self there. In this process, nothing is destroyed, got rid of, or removed. its more of a realisation that something that you believed, you find to not be true. Of course, this realisation can have dramatic ( or not so dramatic) effects on your life, but this is not because there is suddenly no self there.
Am I not a sentient being with a unique DNA code whose thoughts, experiences and feelings are unique to Me and Me Alone?
Well, thats what we are going to find out. When you talk about the Me that has the thoughts, experiences and feelings, what do you mean exactly? What are you referring to with that word? The body?
Where does this Me reside?

I think I will take some convincing. I need a persistent and patient guide if I am to see what so many others claim to see!
I am not going to convince you. I will point you where to look, and you can do the work :D
We are not looking to replace one set of beliefs with another.

neil

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Ann O'Nymous
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Re: I am legion!

Postby Ann O'Nymous » Sun Jul 13, 2014 2:06 pm

Thank you, Neil. I am looking forward to this journey.
You say that the Self has never existed. I don't dispute this, but I can only get an intellectual grasp of it. Because the Self seems to be right here, right now, engaging in discussion with you. The Self wrote the initial message. The Self will keep coming back to check if you've replied.
I don't know exactly, but I think that this Self is probably located within the brain's neurons and synapses. They are either strong and thick or weak and shallow. Their unique combination makes my Me. The Me of other people, by which I mean the way that other people see Me will be different from my Me because their Me is made out of different synapses, different neurons. So there a is a world of Me's out there.

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neeeel
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Re: I am legion!

Postby neeeel » Sun Jul 13, 2014 5:22 pm

You say that the Self has never existed. I don't dispute this, but I can only get an intellectual grasp of it. Because the Self seems to be right here, right now, engaging in discussion with you. The Self wrote the initial message. The Self will keep coming back to check if you've replied.
Ok, but what is this self that wrote the initial message and keeps coming back? You say its located in the brain, so is it the brain that comes back, that writes the messages and checks that youve replied?

When you say the self seems to be right here, right now, how do you know? What is it that tells you that there is a self right here, right now? Is it a feeling? An emotion? something you see, hear or smell? or what?


I don't know exactly, but I think that this Self is probably located within the brain's neurons and synapses. They are either strong and thick or weak and shallow. Their unique combination makes my Me. The Me of other people, by which I mean the way that other people see Me will be different from my Me because their Me is made out of different synapses, different neurons.
Ok, so if I give you a pile of neurons and synapses in a jar, you will be able to see a self in them?
I mean, yes, there are neurons and synapses, what is it that makes them a me? Are you saying that if I moved 1 neuron in your brain, you wouldnt be you any more?


If I ask you what colour the sky is, how do you check?
If I ask you if there is a dragon in the bathroom, how do you check?
If I ask you if there is a self, how do you check?

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Ann O'Nymous
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Re: I am legion!

Postby Ann O'Nymous » Sun Jul 13, 2014 9:32 pm

Hi Neil
Ok, but what is this self that wrote the initial message and keeps coming back? You say its located in the brain, so is it the brain that comes back, that writes the messages and checks that youve replied?
The Self is surely the unique combination of neurons and synapses that come together to make up my brain. The brain and the body work together to come back here and read and write the messages.
When you say the self seems to be right here, right now, how do you know? What is it that tells you that there is a self right here, right now? Is it a feeling? An emotion? something you see, hear or smell? or what?
I know the self is here in the same way that I know anything - the brain tells me it is here. The brain tells me that I am me and that you are you. I know that I am me because I know that I cannot be anything else. I cannot be you.
Ok, so if I give you a pile of neurons and synapses in a jar, you will be able to see a self in them?
I mean, yes, there are neurons and synapses, what is it that makes them a me? Are you saying that if I moved 1 neuron in your brain, you wouldnt be you any more?
No - no more than if a butcher gave me a dismembered cow would I be able to get fresh milk from it. It's not just the presence of neurons and synapses that makes me Me; it's the process, not the product. I don't know if it is possible to move single neurons, but as neurons are dying and fading all of the time, I doubt that it would make a big difference. I would still be me. But if you killed the neurons that contained my memory, I would still be me to other people although I would no longer be Me to me.
If I ask you what colour the sky is, how do you check?
If I ask you if there is a dragon in the bathroom, how do you check?
If I ask you if there is a self, how do you check?
For the sky, I'd look to where I know it can be found;
For the dragon, I'd probably not look, but if I were to check, I'd look where it could be found;
For the self...well, I understand that the Self as a fixed entity does not exist. There is nothing that I have ever done that "doesn't sound like me." I know that my Self is capable of doing everything that I have done. But I know too that there are things that past Self has done that I wouldn't do anymore. Self is in constant flux. But is that the same as not existing?

How can I not be? If I am not, who is typing this? What is typing this? What goes to the shops and does the shopping? Or is the non-existence of the Self just that there is no fixed me? The water in the stream changes, but the stream is still there.

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neeeel
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Re: I am legion!

Postby neeeel » Sun Jul 13, 2014 11:27 pm

Hey,

Ok, but what is this self that wrote the initial message and keeps coming back? You say its located in the brain, so is it the brain that comes back, that writes the messages and checks that youve replied?
The Self is surely the unique combination of neurons and synapses that come together to make up my brain.


Ok, what makes the unique combination of neurons and synapses a self? why is it not just a unique combination of neurons and synapses?
The brain and the body work together to come back here and read and write the messages.
Ok, so where does the self fit in to all that?
When you say the self seems to be right here, right now, how do you know? What is it that tells you that there is a self right here, right now? Is it a feeling? An emotion? something you see, hear or smell? or what?
I know the self is here in the same way that I know anything - the brain tells me it is here. The brain tells me that I am me and that you are you.
Interesting. so the self is a collection of neurons and synapses, and the brain ( which is a collection of neurons and synapses) somehow tells this collection of neurons and synapses that it ( the collection of neurons and synapses) exists?

I am not sure you are being totally honest here.You are saying that you think the self is a collection of neurons and synapses, but it seems you think its something more, something that the brain talks to?

How does the brain tell you that you exist, that you are you? What method does it use?
I know that I am me because I know that I cannot be anything else. I cannot be you.
You are assuming the existence of a me here . This is what we are looking at.

No - no more than if a butcher gave me a dismembered cow would I be able to get fresh milk from it. It's not just the presence of neurons and synapses that makes me Me; it's the process, not the product. I don't know if it is possible to move single neurons, but as neurons are dying and fading all of the time, I doubt that it would make a big difference. I would still be me. But if you killed the neurons that contained my memory, I would still be me to other people although I would no longer be Me to me.
So the me, the self, is memories?

How can I not be? If I am not, who is typing this? What is typing this? What goes to the shops and does the shopping? Or is the non-existence of the Self just that there is no fixed me? The water in the stream changes, but the stream is still there.
Again, you are assuming the existence of a self.

I want you to try an exercise. Raise your right arm.
How did that happen? Did you control all the muscles in the correct order, in order to move the arm? Try it a few times, and observe what happens, the sequence of events( thoughts, actions), and report back with anything you find

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Ann O'Nymous
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Re: I am legion!

Postby Ann O'Nymous » Mon Jul 14, 2014 6:34 am

Hi Neil
Thanks for keeping engaged.
Ok, but what is this self that wrote the initial message and keeps coming back? You say its located in the brain, so is it the brain that comes back, that writes the messages and checks that youve replied?
It's the brain, located in the body.
Ok, what makes the unique combination of neurons and synapses a self? why is it not just a unique combination of neurons and synapses?
I think it is just a unique combination. And the result of that unique combination is my Self.
The brain and the body work together to come back here and read and write the messages.
Ok, so where does the self fit in to all that?
The Self is the brain and the body, working together.
Interesting. so the self is a collection of neurons and synapses, and the brain ( which is a collection of neurons and synapses) somehow tells this collection of neurons and synapses that it ( the collection of neurons and synapses) exists?
This is what I think, yes. The brain has self-consciousness. It knows that it exists in the world. This is what makes our species unique on this planet - or at least this is what we believe at this moment in time.
I am not sure you are being totally honest here.You are saying that you think the self is a collection of neurons and synapses, but it seems you think its something more, something that the brain talks to?
I think I am! The Self emerges from these neurons and synapses. Really, I don't think the brain talks to the Self - I think the Self talks to itself.
How does the brain tell you that you exist, that you are you? What method does it use?
I think that the brain uses quite a scientific method. I assume that it begins with an initial hypothesis - "I think that I exist." It then confirms this hypothesis by triangulating all of the data that comes at it - if I do this, then this will happen; other people respond to me; I will say something funny and then other people will laugh.
I know that I am me because I know that I cannot be anything else. I cannot be you.

You are assuming the existence of a me here . This is what we are looking at.
Strictly speaking, I am assuming that were you to exist, I could not be you. I cannot be anything other than who or what I am.
So the me, the self, is memories?
I think that the Self grounds itself in memories, yes. My memories combine to make me Myself; other people's memories of me combine to make their Me.
Again, you are assuming the existence of a self.
Actually, I think I am deducing the existence of a self.
I want you to try an exercise. Raise your right arm.
How did that happen? Did you control all the muscles in the correct order, in order to move the arm? Try it a few times, and observe what happens, the sequence of events( thoughts, actions), and report back with anything you find
[/quote]
Science tells us that actions which are repeated become automatic. This is an example of brain efficiency - as the action is a frequently used one, the brain doesn't need to rewrite the various different instructions that are required to raise an arm. The raising of an arm can therefore not be monitored by a conscious brain looking in at itself. My brain knows where my arm is; it knows where the space above my head is; it fires electrical impulses to cells and muscles within my body to relocate the arm to that empty space beside my head. And it did it perfectly. I read your words and then moved the arm up and down beside my head. It was the right arm. I required little thought. The thought came afterwards. I must have controlled all the muscles in the right order because the arm went up with ease.

I feel as if I am being particularly obtuse here! Let me assure you that the concept of a world without a Self in it is just about conceivable to me, but I cannot get away from the suspicion that this is sophistry. Scientists would be the first to admit that we cannot find the source of an individual's consciousness, but that is not the same as denying its existence. I have a sense of volition and this sense of volition leads me to act. The volition appears to be self-contained - that is, I can make a decision to do something without anyone else knowing.

Similarly, there is definitely something which is reading what you have written and questioning it and responding to it. I cannot see it, but I believe it exists; in the same way that I can look up and see no moon, but I know that the moon is still there; I can't see the fingerprints that my fingers are leaving on the keyboard, but I know that they are still there; I can't see the oxygen that I am breathing, but I know it's still there.

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neeeel
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Re: I am legion!

Postby neeeel » Mon Jul 14, 2014 1:33 pm

hey,
Ok, what makes the unique combination of neurons and synapses a self? why is it not just a unique combination of neurons and synapses?
I think it is just a unique combination. And the result of that unique combination is my Self.
You are just going round in circles,

me: what is the self
you: a unique combination of neurons and synapses
me: why is that a self
you: because its a unique combination, and the result of that combination is my self.
me: so what is the self that is the result
you: a unique combination of neurons and synapses.

One minute you are telling me that the self IS the unique combination of neurons and synapses, next minute you are telling me its the RESULT of the combination of neurons and synapses

The Self is the brain and the body, working together.
But earlier you said
I know the self is here in the same way that I know anything - the brain tells me it is here.
So, its like theres a brain over there, that is telling the self over here that it exists.

"the brain tells me it is here" What is the "Me" that the brain is telling ?
How does the brain tell you that you exist, that you are you? What method does it use?
I think that the brain uses quite a scientific method. I assume that it begins with an initial hypothesis - "I think that I exist." It then confirms this hypothesis by triangulating all of the data that comes at it - if I do this, then this will happen; other people respond to me; I will say something funny and then other people will laugh.
I dont want to know about what you think. All this is just speculation. You saying something funny and other people laughing in no way confirms the hypothesis "I think that I exist"

How does the brain tell you that you exist? Does it write you a note? Does it whisper in your ear? Does it leave a message in flashing lights? Or what? I want specifics.

What is the mechanism by which the brain makes it known to you that you exist?
Science tells us that actions which are repeated become automatic. This is an example of brain efficiency - as the action is a frequently used one, the brain doesn't need to rewrite the various different instructions that are required to raise an arm. The raising of an arm can therefore not be monitored by a conscious brain looking in at itself. My brain knows where my arm is; it knows where the space above my head is; it fires electrical impulses to cells and muscles within my body to relocate the arm to that empty space beside my head. And it did it perfectly. I read your words and then moved the arm up and down beside my head. It was the right arm. I required little thought. The thought came afterwards. I must have controlled all the muscles in the right order because the arm went up with ease.
"I must have controlled all the muscles", do you see the assumption there? You didnt even check, because you already knew that you must have controlled the muscles. But did you? Did you control all the muscles in the correct order, at the correct time, in order to make the arm raise? I dont want assumptions, I want specifics.

If, as you say, the movement is automatic, then how do you command the body to start the automatic program?
Similarly, there is definitely something which is reading what you have written and questioning it and responding to it. I cannot see it, but I believe it exists; in the same way that I can look up and see no moon, but I know that the moon is still there; I can't see the fingerprints that my fingers are leaving on the keyboard, but I know that they are still there; I can't see the oxygen that I am breathing, but I know it's still there.

All assumption. "I cannot see it, but I believe it exists" , yes, you believe it, and what I am aiming to do is help you to question that belief. So far you have shown me no proof of its existence at all, other than other beliefs and assumptions. And you havent even been able to define what it is, other than a collection of neurons and synapses.

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Ann O'Nymous
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Re: I am legion!

Postby Ann O'Nymous » Mon Jul 14, 2014 4:45 pm

Hi Neil
Thanks again for your time.
You are just going round in circles,

me: what is the self
you: a unique combination of neurons and synapses
me: why is that a self
you: because its a unique combination, and the result of that combination is my self.
me: so what is the self that is the result
you: a unique combination of neurons and synapses.
Perhaps I am being imprecise. Perhaps even inconsistent. What it boils down to is that my Self emerges from the interactions of these neurons and synapses. In the same way that your Self emerges from the interaction of your synapses and neurons - each burned to disc when significant events happened in your life. Self is consciousness.

So, its like there's a brain over there, that is telling the self over here that it exists. "the brain tells me it is here" What is the "Me" that the brain is telling ? How does the brain tell you that you exist, that you are you? What method does it use? I dont want to know about what you think. All this is just speculation. You saying something funny and other people laughing in no way confirms the hypothesis "I think that I exist" How does the brain tell you that you exist? Does it write you a note? Does it whisper in your ear? Does it leave a message in flashing lights? Or what? I want specifics.
You're right to demand specifics from me and if I am trying to be more specific, I would say that the brain does not tell me anything, nor does it whisper things, nor does it write notes, nor leave messages in flashing lights. The brain makes self-consciousness. This is rooted in a rich environment which it may be part of or which may be part of it...I am only just trying to get my head around the concept of embodied cognition.
What is the mechanism by which the brain makes it known to you that you exist?
Thought, feeling, memory, and, I have recently discovered, perhaps the claustrum.
"I must have controlled all the muscles", do you see the assumption there? You didnt even check, because you already knew that you must have controlled the muscles. But did you? Did you control all the muscles in the correct order, at the correct time, in order to make the arm raise? I dont want assumptions, I want specifics.
I don't know how realistic your demands are! I know that I willed my arm to move and it moved. When I don't will it to move, it doesn't (at least in this fashion).
All assumption. "I cannot see it, but I believe it exists" , yes, you believe it, and what I am aiming to do is help you to question that belief. So far you have shown me no proof of its existence at all, other than other beliefs and assumptions. And you havent even been able to define what it is, other than a collection of neurons and synapses.
The issue is that I am not yet questioning the belief. Let's leave talk of "Self" aside for now - what we are discussing is [self-]consciousness, it seems to me. I am proof of my own existence as you are proof of yours and the other 6 billion people on the planet are proof of theirs. What more proof could be asked for? We look and we see!

Is my consciousness different from yours? Undoubtedly. "Self" is a label to describe the many factors that contribute to our consciousness.

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neeeel
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Re: I am legion!

Postby neeeel » Mon Jul 14, 2014 6:20 pm

hey,
Perhaps I am being imprecise. Perhaps even inconsistent. What it boils down to is that my Self emerges from the interactions of these neurons and synapses. In the same way that your Self emerges from the interaction of your synapses and neurons - each burned to disc when significant events happened in your life. Self is consciousness.
So heres another definition you have come up with, self is consciousness. Please make your mind up :D
Is the self a real thing? does it have any effect on the world? Eg is it the self that makes decisions? is it the self that thinks the thoughts?
What is the mechanism by which the brain makes it known to you that you exist?
Thought, feeling, memory, and, I have recently discovered, perhaps the claustrum.
Ok, there are thoughts, feelings memories. In what way are these the brain making it known to you that you exist?
You are saying that the brain makes consciousness, and the brain makes it known to the consciousness that it ( the consciousness ) exists? Do you actually KNOW any of this? Do you actually EXPERIENCE any of this?

I don't know how realistic your demands are! I know that I willed my arm to move and it moved. When I don't will it to move, it doesn't (at least in this fashion).
So every single movement of your body is willed by you? Every single one? Theres never been a time when you caught yourself scratching your nose , and had not willed yourself to scratch your nose? When you are walking down the street, are you willing each leg to move with each step?

I notice you still didnt answer my question.
"Did you control all the muscles in the correct order, at the correct time, in order to make the arm raise?"

The issue is that I am not yet questioning the belief. Let's leave talk of "Self" aside for now - what we are discussing is [self-]consciousness, it seems to me. I am proof of my own existence as you are proof of yours and the other 6 billion people on the planet are proof of theirs. What more proof could be asked for? We look and we see!
No, sorry. Lets not leave the talk of self aside. That is the single reason for this forum, to help people see through the belief in a separate self. I am not going to discuss self-consciousness. I am not discussing anything. I am pointing you where to look to see through the belief.
Is my consciousness different from yours? Undoubtedly. "Self" is a label to describe the many factors that contribute to our consciousness.
At the moment, its not even clear to me what you believe about the self. One moment its a label, next moment its consciousness, next moment its a collection of neurons and synapses.

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Ann O'Nymous
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Re: I am legion!

Postby Ann O'Nymous » Mon Jul 14, 2014 7:51 pm

Hey back!
So heres another definition you have come up with, self is consciousness. Please make your mind up :D
Is the self a real thing? does it have any effect on the world? Eg is it the self that makes decisions? is it the self that thinks the thoughts?
I am making my mind up, through this dialogue! No - I don't think the Self is a real thing. I cannot point to it and say There I am. Does the self make decisions? I don't know...as I left work, I stopped off in the bathroom. I thought to myself that perhaps I had not decided to go to the bathroom, but that the Story teller wanted me to think that I had. I thought I was getting a grip on this. But when I got home, I remembered that the bins need to go out tonight. I made a decision to put them out. The bins are not out yet, but they will be. It seems to me that they will be out because I have made the decision to put them out. Help me with this!
Do you actually KNOW any of this? Do you actually EXPERIENCE any of this?
I don't know it, but I do experience thoughts, mind, memories...is this what you are asking?
So every single movement of your body is willed by you? Every single one? Theres never been a time when you caught yourself scratching your nose , and had not willed yourself to scratch your nose? When you are walking down the street, are you willing each leg to move with each step?
Perhaps I misunderstood your instruction to talk to you about the task of raising my arm? Did you mean for me to extrapolate from that "every single movement"? I am happy to recognise quite readily that not every single act is a volitional one.
I notice you still didnt answer my question.
"Did you control all the muscles in the correct order, at the correct time, in order to make the arm raise?"
If there is no Self, who is the "I" that noticed that I didn't answer the question?

But to answer the question, I think I get it: no - I didn't control the muscles. The muscles raised the arm. The only control I seem to have had (and I accept that it was not control) is that the arm raised once I willed it to raise.
No, sorry. Lets not leave the talk of self aside. That is the single reason for this forum, to help people see through the belief in a separate self. I am not going to discuss self-consciousness. I am not discussing anything. I am pointing you where to look to see through the belief.
Separate to what exactly? This confuses me. I cannot even see where your finger is pointing, never mind what it is pointing at!
At the moment, its not even clear to me what you believe about the self. One moment its a label, next moment its consciousness, next moment its a collection of neurons and synapses.
[/quote]
Your chain of recollection is reversed! It began as a collection of neurons and synapses; then it became consciousness; then it turned into a label. Right - let me be as clear as I can be: "Self" is a word. It is a word that we use as a label. It is used as a label to describe something that is also known as consciousness. Consciousness arises from the unique interplay of neurons and synapses. You see all of these as distinct definitions. I don't.

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neeeel
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Re: I am legion!

Postby neeeel » Mon Jul 14, 2014 9:18 pm


I am making my mind up, through this dialogue!
I want to point out here that this is not something you make your mind up about. This is not a civilised discussion where both sides put their points of view, and then using logical and critical faculties, a decision is made about who is correct and who is wrong.

Do you need to make your mind up about whether , for example, someone is holding a blue ball? Or whether there are clouds in the sky? Its that simple as far as the self is concerned.

No - I don't think the Self is a real thing. I cannot point to it and say There I am. Does the self make decisions? I don't know...as I left work, I stopped off in the bathroom. I thought to myself that perhaps I had not decided to go to the bathroom, but that the Story teller wanted me to think that I had. I thought I was getting a grip on this. But when I got home, I remembered that the bins need to go out tonight. I made a decision to put them out. The bins are not out yet, but they will be. It seems to me that they will be out because I have made the decision to put them out.
How did you make the decision to put the bins out?
Take a look at a decision right now, eg choose between 2 objects. Pay close attention to how the decision is made. Notice thoughts, and actions. Try and notice at what point the decision is made. Report back here with what you find out
Do you actually KNOW any of this? Do you actually EXPERIENCE any of this?
I don't know it, but I do experience thoughts, mind, memories...is this what you are asking?
Ok, now we are onto something.
Do you experience mind? Have you ever, with your senses( smell, taste, touch, tactile, hearing, to which we can add perception of thought), experienced mind? If so, how? What is it, and where is it?

So, there is experience of thoughts, and memories ( which are just thoughts under a different label, yes?). When you say "I" experience them, this implies a subject, an entity, that is doing, or having the experience.
When you LOOK though, can you find an experience over there, and an experiencer over here? By look, i mean with the senses.
If there is no Self, who is the "I" that noticed that I didn't answer the question?
There is no who, thats the point. And still, I can use the label "I" or "self" in communication. Do you really want me to use "This organism" or "this collection of atoms" or some similar thing, every time theres an "I" written?

We say "it is raining". Does that mean we believe there is an entity that is doing the raining?



Perhaps I misunderstood your instruction to talk to you about the task of raising my arm? Did you mean for me to extrapolate from that "every single movement"? I am happy to recognise quite readily that not every single act is a volitional one.
I wanted you to look and see that not even acts that you think are volitional, are volitional, if by volitional you mean, decided upon by some sort of entity or self.
But to answer the question, I think I get it: no - I didn't control the muscles. The muscles raised the arm. The only control I seem to have had (and I accept that it was not control) is that the arm raised once I willed it to raise.
This is important to notice. Try it out a few times raising the arm again, and notice if you are controlling any of the body parts? Try it out in different every day situations, and notice if there is any control of the body.

When you say you willed it to raise, how does that work? I would guess there were thoughts about raising the arm, either words of mental images, pictures?

Separate to what exactly? This confuses me. I cannot even see where your finger is pointing, never mind what it is pointing at!
Separate from everything else. A separate entity that has control, will, volition. We say "my" body, this implies there is an entity that owns the body. We are looking for this entity. Its generally also assumed ( in the West at least) that this entity is in charge of the body, of making decisions, and thinking thoughts, is living the life, etc.


Your chain of recollection is reversed! It began as a collection of neurons and synapses; then it became consciousness; then it turned into a label. Right - let me be as clear as I can be: "Self" is a word. It is a word that we use as a label. It is used as a label to describe something that is also known as consciousness. Consciousness arises from the unique interplay of neurons and synapses. You see all of these as distinct definitions. I don't.
Ok, some labels point to something in real life.
eg Rock, points to a physical object

Some labels are more concepts, but still point to something we can recognise in real life
eg University

Some labels point to nothing that is real
eg Santa Claus

What does the label self point to? I guess you have answered that in a way. So the self, to you , is consciousness?

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Ann O'Nymous
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Re: I am legion!

Postby Ann O'Nymous » Tue Jul 15, 2014 6:04 am

Hi Neil
Thanks again for your perseverance.
I want to point out here that this is not something you make your mind up about. This is not a civilised discussion where both sides put their points of view, and then using logical and critical faculties, a decision is made about who is correct and who is wrong.
This I finally get. You are pointing me towards the fact that Self is not real. It is an abstract construct. Either I get it or I don't. It is not up for debate.

How did you make the decision to put the bins out? Take a look at a decision right now, eg choose between 2 objects. Pay close attention to how the decision is made. Notice thoughts, and actions. Try and notice at what point the decision is made. Report back here with what you find out
I think I see where this is going. Decisions get made - there is no me to make the decision.There are bins behind my house; there is an awareness that the bins need to be moved to the front of my house; the bins are moved by this body. Did this body make the decision to move the bins? No - bodies don't make decisions. Did the brain? Maybe. But is the brain Me? Right? If it is right, I'm beginning to get it. If it isn't, well, with your perseverance, I'll carry on.
Take a look at a decision right now, eg choose between 2 objects. Pay close attention to how the decision is made. Notice thoughts, and actions. Try and notice at what point the decision is made. Report back here with what you find out
Interestingly, I noticed a hushed dialogue in my head. I noticed how a choice appeared to be offered, but the decision was contained within the presented choice. One option was more hushed than the other. Almost like, "Should I go up to bed to read this OR SHOULD I STAY ON THE COUCH READING? STAY ON THE COUCH READING? STAY ON THE COUCH READING?" I wasn't sure if this phenomenon was happening because the decision making system was under scrutiny.
Do you experience mind? Have you ever, with your senses( smell, taste, touch, tactile, hearing, to which we can add perception of thought), experienced mind? If so, how? What is it, and where is it? So, there is experience of thoughts, and memories ( which are just thoughts under a different label, yes?). When you say "I" experience them, this implies a subject, an entity, that is doing, or having the experience. When you LOOK though, can you find an experience over there, and an experiencer over here? By look, i mean with the senses.
Understood. No - I don't experience mind. You're right. It is thoughts and memories -which is to say, thoughts and thoughts (although perhaps memories are also sensations as well as thoughts...trace elements of neural pathways). I struggled with the concept of an experience without an experiencer. Is this an example of language binding the perception? I see though that while I can testify to having had the experience, I cannot point to the "I" that had it. So, it must be possible to have an experience without knowing the experiencer.

Doesn't the experience only become as such because it registers in the consciousness? Does this contradict what you are pointing me towards? If the new hypotheses about the claustrum are real, does this call into question the non-existence of self, or does it confirm it? Is self just a biologically-grounded plotline? Does it have a purpose? Why do so many people believe in it?
There is no who, thats the point. And still, I can use the label "I" or "self" in communication. Do you really want me to use "This organism" or "this collection of atoms" or some similar thing, every time theres an "I" written? We say "it is raining". Does that mean we believe there is an entity that is doing the raining?
Get it. "I" is shorthand for "This one" - if I can latch on to Game of Thrones language to help me understand. To say that there is no Self is not to deny the existence of bounded sentient intelligences? Anger, love, kindness, cruelty etc can exist, but they are not brought about by an "I"? They happen - they come and go - right? If this is right, I might see how compassion sits within this reality. I struggled to see how a person could choose to exercise compassion if a person does not exist. Can compassion happen?
I wanted you to look and see that not even acts that you think are volitional, are volitional, if by volitional you mean, decided upon by some sort of entity or self...Separate from everything else. A separate entity that has control, will, volition. We say "my" body, this implies there is an entity that owns the body. We are looking for this entity. Its generally also assumed ( in the West at least) that this entity is in charge of the body, of making decisions, and thinking thoughts, is living the life, etc.
This is a stumbling block for me. It suggests that there is no philosophy of mind and I cling to the idea that a philosophy of mind helps us move through our lives. Up until now, I have been best informed by Epictetus's view that there are things under our control and things that are not under our control. If you know the quote, you will know that the things he lists as being under our control are our minds, our opinions, our perceptions etc. In short, all the things that it would seem are not under our control! The value of Epictetus's text for me is that it helped me to identify the things that I could affect and the ways in which I could deal with things that caused me unhappiness. But if I have no control, then I am lost.

I read somewhere that buddhism says that we should not take a stance on whether self exists or not because this will push us off the path of the buddha. The self disappears through what we do, not what we believe. Does this hold true?

The Dalai Lama talks about happiness being the point of life and advises us how to use our reason and our minds to exercise compassion and find happiness. Can this be done if there is no mind? No me? No reason?

In short, does No self mean that there is No Control?

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Ann O'Nymous
Posts: 33
Joined: Fri Jul 11, 2014 12:49 pm

Postby Ann O'Nymous » Tue Jul 15, 2014 2:53 pm

I'm inching towards the gateless gate. I went for a walk this morning and have never experienced walking in quite the same way. There was a break between me and walking. Physically, I noticed sensations in my legs that I had not noticed before; when I saw things, I didn't start building a narrative around them.

Is there anything? When people leave their jobs to direct their attention to fighting poverty, are they leaving their jobs to fight against world poverty? Or do we take only what we see: X no longer works here; X is fighting world poverty?

Is there really no agency in the universe? Is it just random impulses woven into a narrative? To what end?

Choices are made.
By whom?
By nobody.
How do you know that nobody makes choices? Isn't it more honest to say, we do not know?

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neeeel
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Joined: Thu Dec 22, 2011 5:30 pm

Re: I am legion!

Postby neeeel » Tue Jul 15, 2014 5:57 pm

Hey, sorry for the long post, but I wanted to try and cover everything from your previous posts.


This I finally get. You are pointing me towards the fact that Self is not real. It is an abstract construct. Either I get it or I don't. It is not up for debate.
Its not exactly that its not up for debate, it just that we could spend hours, and pages, debating consciousness, neurons, etc , and you would still be not 1 millimetre closer to SEEING whether its true or not.
I think I see where this is going. Decisions get made - there is no me to make the decision.There are bins behind my house; there is an awareness that the bins need to be moved to the front of my house; the bins are moved by this body. Did this body make the decision to move the bins? No - bodies don't make decisions. Did the brain? Maybe. But is the brain Me? Right? If it is right, I'm beginning to get it. If it isn't, well, with your perseverance, I'll carry on.
Is there an awareness that bins need to be moved? Or is there just thoughts saying that the bins need to be moved?
Yes, is the brain you?
Interestingly, I noticed a hushed dialogue in my head. I noticed how a choice appeared to be offered, but the decision was contained within the presented choice. One option was more hushed than the other. Almost like, "Should I go up to bed to read this OR SHOULD I STAY ON THE COUCH READING? STAY ON THE COUCH READING? STAY ON THE COUCH READING?" I wasn't sure if this phenomenon was happening because the decision making system was under scrutiny.
Yes, sometimes its like that, its almost not a decision at all, one option seems more weighted. How were the options presented, they were thoughts and images , right? How was the final decision presented?


keep checking out other decisions during the day. Keep looking at the thoughts and actions that happen during decision making, and keep trying to find the actual decision point.

No - I don't experience mind. You're right. It is thoughts and memories -which is to say, thoughts and thoughts (although perhaps memories are also sensations as well as thoughts...trace elements of neural pathways). I struggled with the concept of an experience without an experiencer. Is this an example of language binding the perception? I see though that while I can testify to having had the experience, I cannot point to the "I" that had it. So, it must be possible to have an experience without knowing the experiencer.
I am not presenting you with a concept. I am asking you to actually LOOK and see whether there is an experience and an experiencer. Close your eyes and listen to the sounds going on around you. Is there an experiencer sitting over here, and a sound over there? Is there awareness of the sound AND a sound?
You may get mental pictures of a you sitting in a room listening to things. Is that proof of there being an experience and an experiencer?

Doesn't the experience only become as such because it registers in the consciousness? Does this contradict what you are pointing me towards? If the new hypotheses about the claustrum are real, does this call into question the non-existence of self, or does it confirm it? Is self just a biologically-grounded plotline? Does it have a purpose? Why do so many people believe in it?
Does it register in consciousness? Is consciousness separate from the things that are cognized? Check this out for yourself.



This is a stumbling block for me. It suggests that there is no philosophy of mind and I cling to the idea that a philosophy of mind helps us move through our lives.
This is what we are here for, to challenge previously ( perhaps dearly) held beliefs. Its difficult, and sometimes scary, to do this. Are you willing to challenge, and if needed, let go of previously held beliefs?


Up until now, I have been best informed by Epictetus's view that there are things under our control and things that are not under our control. If you know the quote, you will know that the things he lists as being under our control are our minds, our opinions, our perceptions etc.
Are your perceptions under your control? can you turn seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling, on and off? How much effort does it take to hear a sound?

Is your mind under your control?
1) Can you turn thoughts on and off?
2) Can you decide what the next thought will be ?
3) Can you think a random thought?
I want you to try and do these , and report back with what you find

What are opinions? In what form are opinions made known to "you"?
In short, all the things that it would seem are not under our control! The value of Epictetus's text for me is that it helped me to identify the things that I could affect and the ways in which I could deal with things that caused me unhappiness. But if I have no control, then I am lost.
If it turns out that you dont control these things ( and in fact theres no you there to even have control), are you able to accept this truth? I am not asking you to believe me that its true, if you keep looking, you will see it for yourself, and that is what will allow you to see through the illusion.

You have lived X years, and, if there is no self, there has never been a self. Ever. Everything that has happened in your life has happened without a self, without control. Were you lost then?

In short, does No self mean that there is No Control?
What would be in control?


I'm inching towards the gateless gate. I went for a walk this morning and have never experienced walking in
quite the same way. There was a break between me and walking.
Can you expand a little on what you mean by a "break between me and walking"?
when I saw things, I didn't start building a narrative around them.
Its good to notice. Notice the labelling, the story telling, the judging that goes on with every perception. Are these labels, stories and judgements part of the perception? Do they come before, at the same time, or after? Can you stop the labels, stories and judgements? In what way ( what method) are these labels, stories and judgements presented to "you"?
Is there anything? When people leave their jobs to direct their attention to fighting poverty, are they leaving their jobs to fight against world poverty? Or do we take only what we see: X no longer works here; X is fighting world poverty?


Is there really no agency in the universe? Is it just random impulses woven into a narrative? To what end?

How do you know that nobody makes choices? Isn't it more honest to say, we do not know?
I understand your concerns, but I dont feel that answering your questions here would help any. We can take a look at them further down the line if you still need to.

You can even use this as a way to LOOK. Observe all these thoughts, ideas concepts, worries as they pop up and fade away. Are you doing any of them?

What I recommend now is to keep LOOKING at everything I have pointed out since we started this thread.


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