Heidegger’s Being and Time (Part II: Dasein)

In the last Heidegger post, I promised I’d address why Heidegger thinks that dualism (the mind-body problem) is predicated on a huge mistake that has carried through the whole history of Western philosophy. I will eventually. I’m putting that off until the next post…I hope you’ll stick around until then. I’m not promising anything, but I hope to make a video. I just downloaded iMovie into my iPad and I’m having fun learning how to use it, but as I said, no promises.

First we need to know a key term—Dasein. Dasein is what we would ordinarily call a human being or consciousness, but these are very poor word choices because they have connotations Heidegger would want to dispense with. I only offer this as something to hold onto briefly, a foothold or scaffolding which should later be taken away.

Normally the word Dasein would be translated into English as simply “existence” or “presence.” For Heidegger, the word takes on a special signification which can be better grasped if we take a look at its roots: Da-There, Sein-Being. Being There. When English speakers read Heidegger, the word is left untranslated to avoid confusion. For people like me who don’t speak German, it comes across in its foreignness as a technical term with a special meaning. I imagine it would be confusing for those whose native language is German, as they would simply think existence in the ordinary way. So perhaps English speakers have the advantage here. Dasein is to be taken as a special technical term.

What is Dasein? Heidegger says:

Dasein is an entity which in each case I myself am. Mineness belongs to any existent Dasein, and belongs to it as the condition which makes authenticity and inauthenticity possible…But these are both ways in which Dasein’s Being takes on a definite character, and they must be seen and understood a priori as grounded upon that state of Being which we have called “Being-in-the-world”…The compound expression ‘Being-in-the-world’ indicates in the very way we have coined it that it stands for a unitary phenomenon. This primary datum must be seen as a whole. (53)

Note: Authentic could mean “the mode in which I can discover Being” and inauthentic “the mode in which I flee from discovering Being.” These words do carry some of the usual connotations. But to keep things simple, just think: authentic=good, inauthentic=bad.

My sloppy interpretation of the quote above: I am always in the world in a unified way. But by “in” I don’t mean that “I” am in the world as water is “in” a glass. As Heidegger puts it, “There is no such thing as the ‘side-by-side-ness’ of an entity called ‘Dasein’ with another entity called the ‘world'” (55). Such a relationship is spatial and relies on that mistake I’ve been alluding to.

As Heidegger says: “It is not the case that man ‘is’ and then has, by way of an extra, a relationship-of-Being towards the ‘world’—a world with which he provides himself occasionally.” (57).

So much for Dasein for now. There’s a lot about Dasein that I’ve excluded, but I figure this is enough to take in for now.


In the first post, I explained that Heidegger’s project in Being and Time is to uncover the meaning of Being. I explained that Heidegger simply does away with noumena and radically asserts that we can know Being phenomenologically, although its meaning eludes us.

Why does Heidegger say that Being is veiled or hidden from Dasein? 

When we want to inquire into what something is, we tend to look for a definition.

In order to come up with a definition, we seek a genus and species. We want to know how the thing in question is like a certain group of things and how it is at the same time distinguished from those things. Definitions always express a relationship to other entities.

However, Being cannot be defined—there’s nothing broader than Being, so we have no way of offering a genus for a definition, there’s no greater category to which “Being” belongs. Being is not a category to be broken up. Being is not an entity.

Being can be discovered, but because it can’t be defined, it cannot be assessed or judged retrospectively.

We fail to apprehend Being because we are for the most part caught up in the things in the world. This state is what Heidegger would call “average everydayness” and it’s for the most part inauthentic. Our average everydayness gives rise to the problem of dualism.

Thanks for reading! Your comments make this work worthwhile!

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75 thoughts on “Heidegger’s Being and Time (Part II: Dasein)

  1. I think I have completely misunderstood Dasein all this time. I thought it was applicable to any object, not just conscious beings.
    BTW you just gave me a new perspective on the film “Being There” with Peter Sellers. A classic 🙂

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    • It’s interesting that you say that. I can totally see why…Heidegger never speaks of Dasein in ordinary terms. Don’t forget, all this is just my interpretation and I’m far from being a scholar. I just have a hard time imagining a Dasein dog, especially when he talks later in the book about anxiety. It all seems a little too sophisticated for anything but human beings.

      Oh wait! I just remembered something. He talks somewhere about Dasein as “that entity for whom its own Being is an issue.” I may have the quote wrong, but I believe that’s close enough. I think that one makes it clear he’s talking about human beings, although if there is a rock out there thinking about its own Being, then I’m sure Heidegger would include it.

      I don’t believe I’ve seen “Being There”…maybe that will go on my Netflix queue.

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  2. This reminds me of David Loy’s “Nonduality: A Study in Comparative Philosophy”. There, he deconstructs all sorts of dualities; subject/object, self/other (the same thing) and (I think) mind/body duality are among the many he deconstructs.

    The book is a more systematic treatment than one often finds in Eastern Philosophy, although it’s likely not on a par with how Western Philosophers approach this. Still, it’s food for thought and he quotes Heidegger as well.

    It may put some of these views into perspective.

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    • It’s probably a lot more readable than Heidegger!

      I personally think Heidegger may have overstepped his case, but I’ll get into that a bit in the next post. He’s not a rigorous as Husserl, logically speaking, but there is a certain charm in his creativity and breadth of his thinking. Dualism has been such a nagging problem. It’s refreshing to have someone try to knock it out in one punch. Even if he fails, you’ve got to admire the effort.

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  3. “dualism (the mind-body problem) is predicated on a huge mistake that has carried through the whole history of Western philosophy”
    I think for a dualist, the mind-body-problem is not a problem. As a probblem, it only exists for the monist. My impression is that Heidegger simply does not address it, that he describes the world as experienced and takes that as the world that is. Maybe I am getting him wrong again (it looks like my own way of thinking is quite incompatible with his, I am not really getting him). You can describe this experiencing consciousness and the world as experienced (including youself), but then the question (for the non-dualist) is how is that “implemented”.
    What distinguishes Heidegger’s approach from that of a solipsist?

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    • I have the same impression of Heidegger in that his philosophy is more descriptive than argumentative. If I approach it as an argument (and I will do some of this in the next post…unless I forget…which is possible…) then I see some problems too. I have a specific criticism in mind. I think the subject matter that I’m dealing with in the next post is the crux of the matter. This is, of course, my interpretation of Being and Time, but the next segment is the part that I consider the most important. In any case, it’s the thing that stuck in my mind.

      If the mind-body problem is not a problem for the dualist, then he’ll have to explain why it’s not a problem, how mind makes contact with a material reality. I believe Descartes tried to explain this by saying that the soul makes contact with the body in the pineal gland.

      http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/pineal-gland/

      This is obviously an absurdity and doesn’t answer the question. There have been lots of attempts, but as far as I know, this matter has never been satisfactorily solved from a dualist perspective. That said, I do believe that we operate for the most part with dualistic beliefs. To me, that says something. It doesn’t indicate the truth of the matter, but it’s an interesting thing about the way we think.

      “What distinguishes Heidegger’s approach from that of a solipsist?”

      Very very good question. I’ve asked it so many times, turning it around and around. It’s tricky. The best answer I can give is concerning methodology. Suppose we take Descartes’ extreme doubt as a start and we question the reality of the world. There we conclude that “I think therefore I am” but know nothing more about the world. We don’t know that it even exists. Suppose we stop there and don’t bring in God to save our “clear and distinct” ideas, etc. We have the view that only the self-as-thinking-being can be known to exist. Here we have solipsism. (To be clear, Descartes was not a solipsist…I’m just using his method to explain solipsism.)

      I’m going to get very sloppy here…Heidegger’s approach is actually the opposite of this solipsistic doubt (which is why his philosophy comes across as descriptive rather than argumentative). There is no doubt about existence of the world, only an explanation as to how we come to this point of doubt, how this method of doubt was born, and why it covers things up and creates problems for us. So in a sense we’re sitting back and listening to his description of ourselves. It either “rings true” or it doesn’t.

      I believe Heidegger thought Husserl was a methodological solipsist (not entirely sure of this) and tried to face this problem head on. Heidegger definitely took the problem seriously. Later in the book he discusses intersubjectivity in a way that would be utterly incompatible with solipsism. (I think Husserl said that we first see each other and draw conclusions about each other’s minds in a more or less empirical way…I could be very wrong here. Heidegger, on the other hand, says nothing like this happens. We simply exist with others. There’s no need to go through these steps of looking at each other and making assumptions about who we are. These inferences about how we come to know each other as conscious human beings aren’t drawn until we get theoretical about it and make it a problem for ourselves. Then we impose a kind of objective-empirical structure on the phenomenon, and this actually covers up what really happens. In other words, for Heidegger, there is no analysis that comes prior to concluding that you are a human being like me. I don’t have to look you over and do this physical-behavioral comparison to myself and make this grand leap inside your head. You as a being like myself are just there already. I’m being very loose in my language here! Heidegger would be rolling his eyes at me. I don’t want to get into his hideous jargon, but I’m taking a risk here in avoiding it.)

      I’d say, strictly speaking, he’s not a solipsist. Solipsism presupposes a kind of methodology that is incompatible with Heidegger’s.

      By the way, most people’s way of thinking is incompatible with his. So you are not alone! I don’t know how I feel about him myself. I do find it interesting, though. I still grapple with many concepts I find in his philosophy, and I find myself coming back to the one I will explain in the next post.

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      • “If the mind-body problem is not a problem for the dualist, then he’ll have to explain why it’s not a problem, how mind makes contact with a material reality.”

        A common argument against the soul or (dualist) mind is the question of how it affects the physical when no mechanism is apparent. I can share what I’ve pondered, although it’s a rather computer geeky idea.

        In computer programming there is the idea of a “pointer” — a reference from one bit of code (call it ‘M’) to another bit of code (call it ‘B’). ‘B’ has no “knowledge” of the link from ‘M’ — the link has no reality from ‘B’s perspective. But ‘M’ can use the link to access any part of ‘B’ (assuming it knows ‘B’s structure). ‘M’ can inspect and even manipulate ‘B’s data or code in a way that would seem a “miracle” to ‘B’ who could see no way such a change might occur.

        Computer code does this all the time, and our computers currently are crude, crude, crude. Really little more than really fast abacuses. It’s not hard for me to imagine such a one-way linkage concept in a much more complex setting.

        The mind can “see” and “change” the brain, but the brain has no awareness on its own of the mind.

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        • I keep finding explanations around here in terms of computers. It brings a smile to my face since I am probably the most computer illiterate person of my generation, yet somehow most of my blog friends have turned out to be involved in computers somehow. Given this, I’m likely to misunderstand you, but I’m sure there are people here who won’t!

          A few questions:

          If the mind behaves toward the brain as a pointer, how is it that the brain—when damaged or altered, for instance—has an effect on mind? Wouldn’t the causal connection have to go both ways? Or would we say that there are two one-way signals that don’t connect with each other?

          Is M a different substance from B? The problem of dualism as I see it is that we have an invisible reality—the mind—making contact with a visible one. The problem is how are these two vastly different kinds of things able to communicate?

          Mike had an interesting computer analogy as well. I don’t want to put words in his mouth, so I’ll just quote what he said in a conversation we had here:

          http://selfawarepatterns.com/2015/02/03/what-do-you-think-about-machines-that-think/

          “It’s strange, but as you describe, I am a dualist, of a certain sort (although not a substance dualist). I’m not sure if it’s property dualism, but I can see the mind being a logical framework that exists as the relationships between the neurons and synapses of the brain, much as software is the relationship between capacitors, transistors, and magnetic storage of our computers. Because this is a type of dualism, I’ve had many skeptics fold their arms and declare it’s invalid because we might use the same word, “dualism”, as used in more supernatural aspects.”

          To me this sounds like two different things communicating (he doesn’t like the word “substances” so we’ll leave that out.) The mind in this case is entirely dependent on the brain for its existence, but is actually a different thing from the brain itself since it is relationships. His explanation might make sense to you, so that’s why I offer it here to see what you think.

          I see it as similar to Simmia’s argument in Plato’s Phaedo, although Mike’s is more sophisticated and wouldn’t be affected by Socrates’ counter-arguments: http://www.academia.edu/4551744/Platos_Phaedo_Handouts (I doubt Mike desperately wants to save the integrity of Plato’s theory of recollection.) 🙂

          Simmias turns to this metaphor of a lyre as an explanation of the relationship between “soul” and “body” (we can easily replace the word “soul” with “mind”). He claims that the harmony created by the lyre is dependent on the lyre’s health. So if we break a string, the harmony no longer exists as such. If the lyre doesn’t exist, the harmony doesn’t exist at all.

          The problem I see with Simmia’s metaphor is that it doesn’t account for how/if the harmony affects the lyre.

          I don’t really know about the computer stuff Mike’s talking about, so I could have introduced a metaphor that doesn’t really address his. I never discussed this lyre metaphor with him.

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      • When I wrote the dualist does not have a mind-body-problem, I obviously had a different problem in mind from what is meant here. The classical mind-body-problem, the problem of how the body can cause anything in the mind and vice versa, if the two are separate, is not what I had in mind. That is, of course, a problem the dualists have. I did not even think of that again. The problem I had in mind is how an experiencing consciousness is possible. How does that work? (That is the problem the materialistic monists like myself have).

        It looks like Heidegger did not even see this problem, so I arrive at the question if his philosophy is some kind of mind-only idealism or even solipsism. If somebody says: “I am not interested in the question, I am just describing the world as experienced, let’s see how far we get with that” I am perfectly comfortable with such a position (and I suspect that is what Husserl was trying). Phenomenology as an attempt to describe the experienced world, without explaining it, is all right with me.

        But I cannot avoid the impression that Heidegger’s thinking is just not clear, that he invented his strange jargon to be able to keep things vague. My impression is that his philosophical strategy was to avoid the real problems by “blurring the problems away”. I think if one has a real and substantial insight into something, it is possible to speak about it in a clear way. There are topics that cannot be described exactly and completely, so if you become very general in your statements, you have to become somehow vague. But I see no need for a stile of thinking and writing that does not even attempt to make things as clear as possible. It looks like he was able to charismatically speak in a way that people where just fascinated. Kind of Guru-like.
        There are probably some interesting ideas in his writings and if you can dissect these out of the whole conceptual mess that would be great.

        “Blurring the problems out of existence” is a dangerous attitude of thinking and I guess it enabled Heidegger to think some very nonsensical stuff, especially in his relationship with the nazis.

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        • I’m afraid I can’t come to the defense of Heidegger as I’m in the midst of trying to figure him out myself. I will say that reading him requires a suspension of disbelief, since his ideas are quite uprooting. It’s impossible to even know what he’s talking about without that stance. But I totally understand if it just doesn’t seem worthwhile to you! His writing can be infuriatingly unclear.

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          • I am afraid it is not only his writing but his thinking as well. His “black notebooks” have been published last year and what I have read about them is hair raising. He really was a racists, attributing a “computaional” (that is rational) stile of thinking to the jews while there are some peoples (including, of course, the Germans) who are good at metaphysical thinking. Terrible nonsense, and the only explanation I have is that he really blurred his thinking to a point where he became unable to recognize the nonsense in such thoughts.

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          • I don’t know about these black notebooks. They were published last year, huh? Sounds like there should be new biographies coming out about that. How could he be so crazy? People are so confusing sometimes. It would make sense if he were just a Nazi, but how could he have so many Jews in his life who influenced his thinking in profound ways and still decide to be a Nazi?

            I really do know how you feel. I remember doodling “Nazi Fuck” all over the margins of my notes during Heidegger class. 🙂 I was pretty passionate in my hatred of the guy and his philosophy. I’ve always liked phenomenology, but never the existentialism that emerged from it. The latter I blamed entirely on Heidegger’s distortion of Husserl’s genuine phenomenology. I also liked to make fun of the parts of Heidegger’s book about anxiety, which I called “philosophy for cranky teenagers”. My views on him were always a comparison to Husserl, whom I adored.

            I do still think Husserl’s phenomenology is superior. However, I’ve since toned down my attitudes and decided to take the bits and pieces I do like from Heidegger—actually, just one bit which is coming up—separating out HIM from the ideas themselves.

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          • I have only recently read about it myself and I don’t have the time (and don’t really feel like) going deeper into it. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Notebooks
            Sorry most of this is in German.
            There was a strong antisemitic and “völkisch” current in German philosophy after World War 1, or even before. Most of those thinkers somehow disappeared later. I have a philosophy dictionary from the 1950s that still contains a lot of this stuff (quite intersting). In recent dectionaries, you don’t find these people again (although I think they should be there, they where part of what was going on at the time). Heidegger somehow survived, together with a few others.

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          • Wow, that would be interesting to read. Although it’s awfully long…I doubt I’ll ever read it. Maybe someday I’ll pick up a biography about it, once people get around to writing them with this new information.

            Well I just told my husband about it and he can’t wait to read it. My husband is Jewish and has a fascination with anything that deals with Nazis. Apparently it hasn’t been translated into English yet.

            I agree with you, those philosophers should be there. I wonder if they were taken out because they were Nazis or if they’re taken out because they’re philosophically insignificant?

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          • I think they where philosophically more or less insignificant. But they are important to reconstruct the brew of thoughts that led to the rise of the Nazis. Of course, the historians who do that know them. It is an interesting period of history, but I am not an expert on that.

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      • “I think if one has a real and substantial insight into something, it is possible to speak about it in a clear way.”

        I couldn’t agree more!

        A favorite couplet from a Bruce Cockburn tune (Burden of the Angel/Beast) goes:

        “Those who know don’t have the words to tell,
        And the ones with the words don’t know too well.”

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  4. For a supposed computer illiterate, you’re keeping up a-okay!

    Answering your first question requires dipping back into my “pointer” analogy (I’ll try to think of a non-computer version). ‘M’ assumes ‘B’ has a certain structure — think of it as a healthy, uncorrupted, brain. If ‘M’ inspects ‘B’ under that assumption, but ‘B’ is not in the expected state (due to damage, disease, or drugs), then ‘M’ is in a “garbage-in, garbage-out” situation.

    A key here is that ‘M’ has two-way access — it can “read” and “write” to ‘B’ — but ‘B’ has no awareness of that connection. Also key is the expectation ‘M’ has of ‘B’s structure and state.

    Your second question is a sticker, though. I don’t know. Especially vexing is how something not material can affect something material (just one reason I don’t believe in ghosts). In the pointer analogy, both ‘M’ and ‘B’ reside in the computer and are made from the same stuff. (The analogy mostly serves to express the idea that ‘M’ has access to ‘B’ without ‘B’ having any knowledge (or control) over that connection.)

    As a spiritual dualist, I can fall back on the idea of a god-given soul, but that’s not the most satisfying answer — even to me. It may be there are levels of reality or existence that we don’t understand, yet. The physical world as we do know it is weird enough, and not fully understood enough, that there’s room that. Just consider quantum entanglement! (Which, who knows, might even be part of the link from ‘M’ to ‘B’.)

    I weighed in on that post of Mike’s; I even Liked the comment you quoted from (and your comment he replied to)! I’ll quote a relevant part of one of my replies:

    You both seem to be talking about mind as an emergent property of the mechanism of the brain. An analogy is how thermodynamics is about statistics and collective behaviors of systems.

    Systems of relationships are very real things. A relationship of musical notes with time forms a melody. A relationship with multiple musical notes forms chords. Many things exist solely as non-physical relationships between physical objects. (I’ve heard the idea that quantum physics is strictly about relationships.)

    We’ve talked about the reality of ideas, and relationships between things don’t seem to consist of any substance (as we usually think of it — as some kind of matter). But we hear melody and chords, so clearly those relationships between notes and time do have a — sometimes a very profound — effect on us.

    The melody and chord illustration seems to come close to the lyre metaphor, although doesn’t depend as heavily on an individual instrument. Even an untuned lyre would make a poor harmony, let alone a broken one.

    I was looking at So-Crates arguments… The Doctrine of Recollection sounds nonsensical to me — almost solipsist — so I don’t see argument #1 as much of an issue. But consider a lyre in the process of being made, strung, and tuned. Until that process is complete, no harmony. Likewise a newborn human is made, “strung,” and “tuned,” to ultimately create melody (the beauty of which depending on the makers).

    Argument #2: Consider a lyre that is slightly out of tune. It still creates a harmony, just not a perfect one. Or consider two-part, three-part, etc., harmonies. Or for that matter, jazz harmonies. There seem, indeed, degrees and types of harmonies.

    Argument #3: Okay, yes. The analogy of the soul to harmony may reach its breaking point here, but most analogies do have a breaking point. The map isn’t the territory. OTOH, if I fret the G string to a D note, the D string will vibrate even though I never touched it. So the thing produced can affect the thing that produces it. (Maybe the D string was dead-set against vibrating! 🙂 )

    I went long here, so I’ll stop.

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    • I’ve always been under the impression that science doesn’t really have consciousness (as mind) as its object, but I don’t really know what the deal is with quantum physics or what falls in its purview.

      Sorry I missed your “Like”…or maybe I didn’t miss, but forgot. Who knows. I’m in “garbage in; garbage out” mode. 🙂

      I see you had the music thing in mind as well! Yeah, I think the melody thing is pretty much the same. The lyre is just a metaphor that can be tweaked however you like to make it fit, but the basic idea is the same I think.

      The theory of recollection…yes, it’s strange. It’s not solipsistic, but it is very very strange. I don’t know anyone who takes that seriously and I’m not sure what Plato even meant by it. I don’t think he meant it in any literal way…because he hardly ever does. I think he’s just talking about a priori or innate ideas. It’s a nice story though, and he likes stories.

      I’m still not sure how I feel about the emergence metaphor. I don’t see how mind in that case would affect body…maybe it’s another form of materialism rather than dualism strictly speaking? Not sure.

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      • This is a fascinating discussion. On dualism, I think Tina’s quote (which, by the way, I’m honored by) covers my position fairly well.

        On emergence, I actually have no problem with the mind being emergent from the patterns of neurons and synapses (or glial cells if they enter into it) which in turn provides a feedback loop on the brain. But then, to me, it’s all emergent. A neuron or synapse emerges from patterns of molecules, which emerge from patterns of atoms, which emerge from patterns of fermions and bosons, which may themselves emerge from strings, branes, or something else, which may themselves be emergent from something lower. There might be a brute physical layer to reality, or it might be structure all the way down, ala Tegmark’s mathematical universe hypothesis. But once the layers are emerged, causality would flow both up and down between them.

        Wyrd, the pointer-data analogy is interesting. If I understand it correctly, then the physical brain is the data and the pointer is the soul (or part of the soul). But then, who are *we*? Are we the physical brain unaware of how the immaterial soul is manipulating us, or are we the immaterial soul? If we’re the soul, then it seems like we’re back to wondering how mind altering drugs and brain damage can affect us. If we’re the brain being manipulated by the soul, it seems like we’re puppets of the soul, and strikes me as maybe a bit creepy.

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        • I’m gonna have to do some reading on Tegmark. This looks really interesting. Do you know of any books about his thesis that math illiterate people might understand?

          BTW, I’m halfway through Anathem. Do you think Tegmark’s thesis applies to that novel? There are a lot of ideas tossed around in there, including an interesting and beautifully creative reworking of Plato’s theory of forms (I ate up those diagrams in the back of the book.) I sense that the book’s purpose is to explain some such theory as a mathematical universe hypothesis, but I don’t know much about that.

          The idea of “being” the brain but having a soul manipulating us is quite a paradoxical position indeed! That strikes me as creepy too.

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          • Tegmark’s views are laid out in his book ‘Our Mathematical Universe’, which I did a series of posts on a while back: http://selfawarepatterns.com/2014/04/21/tegmarks-mathematical-universe-hypothesis/
            I found his writing to be very accessible. He starts out with a crash course in physics which was a nice refresher, and covers some of the major multiverse conceptions.

            I have to admit that I haven’t read Anathem. But your question and the Amazon description make me want to add it to my reading list. Tegmark has described his ideas as radical platonism, so there might be a lot of resonance between him and Stephenson.

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          • Thanks for the info! I’m gonna check out your posts.

            I don’t know how I’ll handle that crash course in physics, but I’ll give it a shot. I took a physics course after the professor talked me into it, insisting there wouldn’t be “too much math.” I should have gone with my impulse to doubt him. (To be fair, we were at a party and he was a bit tipsy.) So I did manage to get recruited into the class and I felt like I was drowning the whole time. None of it stuck in my mind. And I really tried. I went to tutors and took it all seriously, studying for several hours each day. It was pretty disappointing! It turned out that I wasn’t making a bad grade (somehow, don’t ask me how), but I really wasn’t learning anything either, so I got out of the class.

            For some reason I thought you were the one who recommended Anathem to me. Well, I have to say, I love it because it takes mathematical Platonism seriously, but in a very creative and fun way. There is a tiny bit of math in it, but it’s simple enough for my simple mind. I will say I think the book is too long and if I were editing, I’d probably cut the book in half. That said, so far I’m enjoying it very much. I’m quite sure you’ll catch all the philosophical-physics references. So if you do read it, I’d love to hear your interpretation.

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          • I actually don’t recall any math at all in Tegmark’s book. If there were any, it was incidental. He definitely didn’t do the, “now let’s derive the appropriate equation using some simple integral calculus,” thing that many physics textbooks typically do. So, I suspect you’d find the refresher…refreshing, if perhaps a bit superficial 🙂

            It’s been years since I tried to read a Stephenson book. I think the first one I tried actually had several pages describing a technical concept, which completely shut me down at the time. (I’d be more likely today to just skip the math and see if I could understand the story without it.)

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          • Whew! I LOVE superficial! 🙂

            I’ve been reading your posts on Tegmark and this stuff is INSANE. I’m amazed that you guys can actually posit questions within this framework. I’m just reading it with a constant “What?” on my lips. Even so, you’ve done a good job in explaining these theories in a brief blog post. I imagine that was a difficult task.

            Yes, I’ve heard that Stephenson can be off-putting in that way for some people. Reviews on him are very mixed. I think in this novel he mostly puts the technical stuff in the back, but even this is not that technical. (I say this because I understand it and I’m absolutely certain you would too. There’s an explanation of Plato’s Meno which is simple geometry, and a few others which are imaginative diagrams. These aren’t essential to the storyline, but they’re fun to read.) The only hang up for me was the vocabulary. It’s a whole system of references to historical figures and thought-systems. Of course, you don’t have to know the history to read the book, but half the fun is trying to figure out what he’s referring to historically. I don’t have all that figured out. I imagine this would feel like a major headache to a lot of people. It would to me too, except that it’s my kind of geekiness and presents itself as a puzzle that’s not too terribly challenging to me. If he were talking about something I didn’t know much about, I’d find it incredibly tedious.

            That said, I think you’d be up to the task. And I think you can read it breezily…that’s what I’m doing.

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          • “I’ve been reading your posts on Tegmark and this stuff is INSANE.”

            LOLS! Now you know how I feel when reading the Heidegger stuff, which you’re also doing an excellent job covering. The MUH and multiverse theories are definitely strange. I intensely doubt that they’re all true, but one or more of them might be. Although I tend to think that the reality will probably be even stranger than we can currently contemplate.

            On Stephenson, thanks. I’ll add Anathem to my reading list. I see there’s an audio edition, but this feels like the kind of book it might be a mistake to try to listen to.

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          • Haha…I feel like Heidegger is easy compared to your stuff!

            I imagine that all these theories seem more plausible when you know the math behind it. Perhaps it all makes a lot of sense from the perspective of mathematical beauty.

            Yes, you’re right about the audio book—definitely not that sort of book. I can’t believe it was even made into an audio book. Well, I hope you like it!

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      • There is a field, Theories of Consciousness, that is science’s approach to consciousness. It is studied, but it’s a challenging thing to study. At once seemingly undeniable, immediate, and personal, but also ineffible, hard to describe, and as yet unexplicable. Some of that study is of neural correlates — the physical states of the brain that reflect consciousness.

        The apparent randomness of quantum physics — possibly the only truly random thing in existence (if it is, indeed, random at all) — is viewed by some as the only hope for free will. Without some mechanism of indeterminacy, it’s all just a film strip; all present states depend strictly on previous states.

        The area of a priori and innate ideas does seem to beg some sort of explanation, doesn’t it. Is Plato referring to what Kant would call synthetic a priori ideas? Perhaps these are just labels a mind produces for logical structure?

        The combination of materialism and emergent behavior seems to be what’s meant by physicalism, so emergent behavior seems, in general, still considered monist in the substance sense. Dualism seems to require defining the term clearly: substance dualism? property dualism? spiritual dualism? Dynamic Duo (Batman and Robin) dualism?

        The question remains: whatever the mind/soul is, how does it affect the brain and body. On that I do have a clear and absolute answer: I have no idea!

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        • Well, I can kind of answer the Plato question. I wouldn’t have a problem with calling this a priori recollected knowledge synthetic, although this terminology was foreign to Plato. Mathematical knowledge is a good example of what he’s talking about. In the Meno, he has Socrates demonstrate “proof” of the theory of recollection by showing how a slave boy could arrive at mathematical truths (with minimal guidance) on his own. He says he doesn’t “teach” the slave boy, but that the slave boy discovers these truths, as if he had merely forgotten them and only needed a gentle reminder. What he’s pointing to here is our innate ability to reason, which he claims doesn’t come from experience. (This all ties in to what we were talking about in our chat about breadth-less length not being found in the visible world.) The theory of recollection is a great tale of how we came to be the way we are. It is, of course, reincarnation. If we’re retentive of what we learn, someday we’ll get to become a star, a sort of timepiece for the moving picture of eternity (the visible world). If we fail, we become…a woman.

          Unfortunately I’m afraid I fit his stereotype. If Socrates had had the misfortune to ask me to do this math, he would have had a tough case indeed. Perhaps he would have concluded that I have mathematical dementia or perhaps I’m the only one out of all of us to have not lived a previous life.

          What is the mind/soul…I have no idea too! Where’s Batman when you need him?

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          • @Tina: “What [Plato is] pointing to here is our innate ability to reason, which he claims doesn’t come from experience.”

            It raises such an interesting question about how a rational mind functions — how much does early experience factor into our thinking. Given fundamental experience existing in a physical world (physical extension, distinct objects, and so forth), how much of our a priori ideas depend on that.

            It was pointed out to me — talking about one-dimensional lines or perfect circles and how they don’t exist in the real world, but are idealizations — that 2+2=4 is entirely real and concrete. Two apples and two apples don’t make an approximation of four apples; they make exactly four apples. (And for that matter, the two is equally exact.)

            (Incidentally: one of my all-time favorite math jokes: “Two plus two is five… for very large values of two.”)

            But this depends, at least somewhat, on our identifying that apple and this apple as two apples, which requires we abstract the idea of apples (since no two of anything are truly exactly alike). We learn there is an abstract class, apples, to which objects can belong or not belong. Equally, the concepts of “plus” and “equals” seem traceable to physical experience. So a question is, would a pure mind isolated from experience still come up with math? What class of countable objects might such a mind devise?

            So I don’t think the question is resolved about what qualifies as a priori (other than maybe Cogito itself).

            On the other hand, the famous quote: “God created the integers, all else is the work of man.” The natural act of counting ones sheep, siblings, or ships — which may be the rational mind imposing order on perception — does naturally lead to the integers. Or at least the natural numbers (the positive integers). Then, actually using the natural numbers leads to negative values (which gives us the full set of integers) as well as fractions (which gives us the rationals).

            And as the Greeks found, triangles lead one to the irrational numbers through Pythagoras and square roots. And taking a really close look at a circle and its diameter forces one to confront the idea of transcendental irrational numbers. Further exploration leads almost inevitably to the complex numbers (aka “imaginary” numbers).

            The real point is that, with a rational mind, we do seem to discover that stuff rather than invent it. It all seems to come from counting sheep. Which is a experience. Could Plato’s slave boy have arrived at mathematical truths without having experienced the world of objects?

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          • Excellent questions.

            “…would a pure mind isolated from experience still come up with math?”

            It depends on what you mean by pure mind. Does this pure mind have objects? If so, it would come up with math as these objects could be counted. If this mind had no objects at all for itself, in what sense would it be mind?

            But it sounds like you want to get into the question of what OUR knowledge of a priori objects is really like.

            As I understand it, “a priori” just means not derived from experience. However, there’s a lot to unpack there, as you’ve suggested. Do a priori ideas emerge for us even without any sort of experience of the visible world at all? Plato gave this considerable thought and his answer is built into his philosophy. I think Plato would say the way we come to “discover” (carefully avoiding the word “learn”) a priori ideas is through MAKING USE OF imperfect examples the world. We might start getting into funny language here; we might say perfect circles are somehow “lifted” from imperfect ones, but not derived. Maybe this is a key to the whole theory of recollection. It’s as if we see reminders in the visible world of something we already know in advance, like when you go to the grocery store and forget what you were supposed to get, but then you look at your list. This is all a metaphor for what’s going on with our a priori ideas and their relationship to the visible world, but a very apt one if you think about it, leaving aside reincarnation embellishments.

            It’s a kind of paradoxical relationship we have with this visible world, and paradox is the heart of learning for him.

            We make use of the visible world as a kind of aid. But how CAN this world be an aid? If you think about a circle or some such thing, you never see a perfect one in the real world, so you can say that our idea of a perfect one didn’t come from the visible world. But certainly we draw lines in the sand, we NEED a pen and paper at least if we are to make even fairly simple calculations (well most of us do anyways!) We rely on these aids and make a kind of visible model for ourselves even though what we’re discussing might not have much similarity to what we’re drawing on a sheet of paper. We obviously can’t draw a “breadth-less length” in the sand, but in discussing lines, we most certainly need to draw those lines to get a sense of more complex mathematical relationships involving lines. So these models are kind of like symbols pointing to something else without being at all equivalent to them.

            “Could Plato’s slave boy have arrived at mathematical truths without having experienced the world of objects?”

            I’d say no, even though he does possess a priori knowledge. Weird, huh?

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          • This all makes good sense to me. A question that kept popping up while reading it was: How much experience with real circles might it take to “discover” the idea of a perfect circle?

            Do ideals (perfect ideas) arise as abstractions of repeated experience, or can a mind make a leap from a single “data point” to the ideal?

            But even answering that doesn’t seem to help determine which might be — rather than say “more real” how about — the source of the other. I’m quite happy to grant the reality of ideals (real as baseball! 🙂 ), but I’m agnostic on which begats which.

            As an aside, it’s been said that mathematics is so universal that it’s probably how we’d begin establishing communication with aliens. It’s hard to imagine any civilization not inventing-slash-discovering-slash-remembering 1+1=2.

            That does seem to argue about a certain higher reality of some concepts.

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          • “As an aside, it’s been said that mathematics is so universal that it’s probably how we’d begin establishing communication with aliens. It’s hard to imagine any civilization not inventing-slash-discovering-slash-remembering 1+1=2.
            That does seem to argue about a certain higher reality of some concepts.”

            I think you’ll like Anathem then! I won’t say more. I have a tendency to spoil the plot.

            As for the ideal and “real” circles (I’d call them visible) 🙂 , I’d say I don’t really know which came first either in some sort of educational-historical sense. Perhaps they arise at the same time and the “a priori-ness” of the ideals refers to their perfection rather than our lack of reliance on the visible world.

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          • I’m just guessing, of course, but it seems like we’d experience “visible” circles (which are everywhere) before we abstract them. I’m beginning to think that maybe any kind of abstraction or perfection is the natural product of a rational mind. We seem to be pattern detectors and analyzers. In applying order to our perceptions, we seek an innate perfection.

            But we still seem stuck wondering exactly where that comes from. A fundamental order in the nature of existence?

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          • Could be that we experience the visible ones first, but I’m inclined to think experience is so thoroughly shaped by a priori ideas that it’s hard to know which came first. If you think about it in a Kantian way, you’ll see what I mean. What you’re saying jives more with common sense, though.

            Since it is such a mysterious process for us, it does leave us guessing as to where these ideas come from. A fundamental order sounds like a good explanation to me, but who knows?

            Still, you know me, I have a great respect for such an explanation, archaic though it seems to our sensibilities. 🙂

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          • It starts to seem very chicken-and-egg. If I’m following you, the question is: How do we recognize those first visible circles as circles in the first place if we don’t perceive them as belonging to some (perhaps as yet unrecognized) class of perfect circles.

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      • @Mike: re pointer-data analogy…

        Both ‘B’ and ‘M’ are software units of some kind, rather than just data and a pointer to that data. ‘B’ is unaware of ‘M’, but ‘M’ knows all about ‘B’ and has a pointer to ‘B’ it can use to access any part of ‘B’.

        *We* are both ‘B’ and ‘M’ — our physical brain needs to be healthy and in harmony, and so does our mind (which has a different kind of health and self-harmony — people go to “shrinks” (or church) to address this health sometimes).

        If ‘B’ is damaged or corrupted (say by drugs), then ‘M’ will be affected because what it knows about ‘B’ won’t be accurate anymore. (Keep in mind that both ‘B’ and ‘M’ are necessarily very complex objects.) Its attempts to “read” and “write” will give unexpected results.

        It’s more accurate to say both affect (or influence) each other rather than that ‘M’ manipulates ‘B’ — it’s not a puppet-string situation.

        A crude analogy, per Freud’s model, might be that ‘B’ is the ego and ‘M’ is the super-ego. Even insects have some kind of ‘B’ driving them. Only humans seem to have developed an ‘M’ — whatever that turns out to be.

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        • Wyrd, in your model, B and M sound like they’re part of a symbiotic relationship. B’s impairment also impairs M, though presumably not permanently since M sounds like the portion that would continue once B ceases to function entirely. That seems to mean that only a portion of us would live on after death. The question, of course, is there anything that makes M’s existence necessary? But that just brings us back to the classic substance dualism question.

          You made me do a quick refresh on my Freud terminology. I’m not sure I’d agree that only humans have a superego. Chimpanzees, elephants, and some other social animals may have incipient versions due to their limited cultures (or proto-cultures). That said, my understanding of the superego might well be incomplete.

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          • @Mike: “Wyrd, in your model, B and M sound like they’re part of a symbiotic relationship.”

            Given their mutual dependence, “symbiotic” is a fair word. What happens to ‘M’ if ‘B’ dies is a question that may be outside the purview of the analogy (which mainly seeks to illustrate how a remote object can affect a local object unaware of if). In a computer, of course, ‘M’ would be pointing to a “dead” ‘B’ (whatever that means), or might be pointing to random bits if ‘B’s death removes it from existing.

            It may be that ‘M’ dies, too, since it no longer is linked to anything valid. Or, if ‘M’ is more soul than mind, perhaps something does persist. That goes way beyond this discussion! 🙂

            The question of ‘M’s necessity doesn’t worry me too much. IF ‘M’ is the actual seat of experience, then it is necessary only in terms of that experience. Having only ‘B’ without ‘M’ might end up being Chalmers’ philosophical zombies in that case.

            The substance of ‘M’ is a tougher question I don’t have a good answer for. Perhaps ‘M’ is that network of relationships that emerges from the function of ‘B’. I read a description of mind as “an incredibly complex standing wave” generated by the (electrical) function of our brains. Maybe we’ll discover our brain machine needs to be small, dense, and stuffed inside a round “skull”.

            You’re right that the cultural mores aspect of the superego may be found in some animals. I was thinking more in terms of the other aspect, the superego’ idealism and drive for perfection. Freud thought our sense of conscience, duty, and guilt, might spring from that (as well as from cultural mores).

            As I said, that was a crude analogy that popped into my head trying to think of a non-computer geek version of ‘M’ and ‘B’.

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  5. This is an excellent explanation of Heidegger on being and Dasein.

    As I read through the other arguments I would have to agree that Heidegger really does not really address the lurking question of what is, but ultimately merely posits a non-reducible ontology of being or becoming. I tend to see Heidegger’s motivation for this as being tied up with thinking that all abstract conceptual schema, and intellectual systems fail to fully capture being. While I don’t necessarily agree with this, I think Heidegger is very useful to combat certain kinds of thinking. Dreyfus in his explanation of Heidegger on Technology notes that the problem for Heidegger is not technology or technological thinking itself, it is that through thinking technologically (ie in terms of modern materialism, instrumentalism and utilitarianism) we forget and lose our ability to think and see in other ways. Heidegger is great at showing the historicity of all conceptual systems which while this does not show that they are all equally flawed, does have to give pause to question if the background set of concepts that constitute the “world” for us are not something that can be taken as a given. Eliminativist materalism about mind is a perfect example of this, because it not even says that matter is what causes mental states, but the mind is not even real. The assumption here being that reality is ultimately not tied to appearance, and secondary properties but causality.I find this form of materialism very unconvincing because if we think about understanding reality, we typically mean more than understanding what causes what, although that is a fundamental element of what we are trying to understand.

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    • Wow! Thanks for your comment. It sounds like you really have a grasp on Heidegger. I might have to call on you to help me out!

      “…does have to give pause to question if the background set of concepts that constitute the “world” for us are not something that can be taken as a given.”

      YES. His endeavor is similar to Husserl’s in exposing such biases, but he takes that leap (which I consider a big one) in doing away with bracketing. There is the advantage here of making our biases toward what you’re calling “eliminativist materialism” more explicit in giving a plausible explanation for how this bias came to pass in Dasein. The only problem is that, as you’ve pointed out, his non-reducible ontology (a great phrase, by the way) does seem to exclude or even dismiss scientific thinking which depends on a reducible ontology. I can’t reconcile his philosophy to science’s endeavor, but I’m not quite sure if I’m seeing the whole thing properly. I can see Husserl’s phenomenology as being compatible science itself, and with certain scientific attitudes (definitely not any that say the mind is not real, however.) What do you think?

      I find phenomenology exciting for the reasons you describe. How is the world constituted for us? How does this concept of “things-in-themselves” arise? Phenomenology feels like the first time we’ve taken a direct look at the way we assume that “reality is ultimately not tied to appearance”. That was a great way of putting it.

      You could say some pre-Socratics did this first, actually. Parmenides certainly looked at the relationship between reality and appearance in a direct way. But in the context of the history of philosophy, the question has changed quite a bit and this whole enterprise seems to require a lot more sophistication.

      I’m not sure about what Heidegger thinks of technological thinking. I feel like he’d say it brings us further away from authenticity. I’m gonna address readiness-to-hand and presence-at-hand in the next post on Heidegger, so maybe we should come back to the question then. Also, I’m not sure what is meant by technology or if I’m understanding that word properly. As I understand it, technology relies upon seeing objects as present-at-hand. I actually haven’t revisited that section yet, and I don’t remember whether the word “technology” is used there, what that word’s significance is, and whether Heidegger had in mind something technical. (No pun intended.) 🙂

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      • Thanks for the huge compliment. I don’t know if I have a full grasp on Heidegger as I have only read a selection of his essays in detail and have never touched Being and Time, but a lot of philosophers I am captivated by (Arendt, Taylor) are very influenced by him so that could be part of it.

        I am not sure if Heidegger’s thought is compatible with modern science. On the reading of Heidegger that Dreyfus presents I think his thought is compatible as it does not reject scientific thought per se, but just rejects the association of scientific thinking with the essence of reality. But Dreyfus’ analysis is mainly based on Heidegger’s later writings, especially “The Question Concerning Technology,” so there may be some substantial differences between his later thought and his earlier thought as presented in “Being and Time.” In addition, i also think that there is an element in both earlier and later Heidegger that involves a disgust with modern man and a longing for an era of greatness, heroism and inequality. Modern bourgeois man is mediocre, uninspiring and has fallen from man’s previous greatness. This attitude is not unique to Heidegger as it runs through Nietzsche, Burke and Tocqueville, but in Heidegger I think that it speaks to his contempt for science as he tends to see science, liberalism, modernity and democracy as all bound up with one another and as contributing to this woeful condition of modern man.

        With all this said you mention science’s endeavour. What do you mean by this exactly? I only ask because science is a term with many meanings. In the sense that science aims to provide the ultimate account of reality I think Heidegger is very likely fundamentally opposed to it. But if science’s endeavour is to provide an explanation of how reality functions from a causal perspective, but does not necessarily present itself as the ultimate account of reality Heidegger’s later thought may be compatible with science’s endeavour.

        Even though I am not particularly well read on the pre-Socratics I find that they do help to make sense of philosophers like Heidegger. I still don’t understand Deleuze because his writing is the most incoherent thing I have ever read, but I can at least grasp his project of an ontology of difference if I think about him as agreeing with Heraclitus that everything is in flux, and constant becoming and change.

        The stuff I wrote about Heidegger on Technology is based on an analysis of Heidegger’s “The Question Concerning Technology,” so it may not directly correspond with anything in Being and Time. I think Heidegger sees technological thinking as seeing everything and everyone as an instrument for some further end. He makes a comment that the Rhine is no longer a river but the source of energy for the dam. The professor that I studied this work with noted that the phrase “human resources” captures technological thinking in that humans are viewed as mere resources for further production. His critique of technology in the Question Concerning Technology is that we have become incapable of thinking in non-technological ways, and this is prevented us from properly understanding things. I for one do not think this is true, as most people seem to still to be drawn to thinking in terms of intrinsic value whether in terms of love, beauty or human dignity, so seem perfectly capable of non-technological thought.

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        • This attitude is not unique to Heidegger as it runs through Nietzsche, Burke and Tocqueville, but in Heidegger I think that it speaks to his contempt for science as he tends to see science, liberalism, modernity and democracy as all bound up with one another and as contributing to this woeful condition of modern man.

          I see this strain throughout Heidegger’s Being and Time, although I would be hard pressed to prove it. It might be more in what you read. With Heidegger, you try to pin him down with a quote and there’s always some little bit of its meaning that wiggles free and won’t be boxed in. I do see a contempt for science, but nothing intrinsically incompatible, logically speaking, to a certain view of science…at least not at first glance.

          With all this said you mention science’s endeavour. What do you mean by this exactly? I only ask because science is a term with many meanings. In the sense that science aims to provide the ultimate account of reality I think Heidegger is very likely fundamentally opposed to it. But if science’s endeavour is to provide an explanation of how reality functions from a causal perspective, but does not necessarily present itself as the ultimate account of reality Heidegger’s later thought may be compatible with science’s endeavour.

          I personally hold the latter view of science, but I see that there’s much disagreement here and I’m not really ready to make this claim. So I tend to hold both views in mind when I think of science until a distinction is necessary. Here it’s definitely necessary, as you point out. I can see what you’re getting at about Heidegger being possibly compatible with the instrumentalist view. I only wonder if he thought even this might have been a sort of misguided venture (especially based on what you brought up about technology) drawing us further away from authenticity. I’m not familiar with his later works, so maybe there some of these anti-scientific strains are toned down.

          Thanks for the info on technology. It does illuminate parts of Being and Time quite well.

          Yes, I’d agree with you here in saying we really haven’t lost touch with seeing value in things. It’s a sort of hyperbolic assessment that Heidegger’s making, from what it sounds like, and I doubt those folks who want to conserve the environment (save the river, for example, from being used and destroyed by a dam or nuclear power plant) are all reading Heidegger or works that derive their ideas from Heidegger. I’d say there’s some part of our nature that wants to preserve the beauty and intrinsic value of things, including each other.

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          • Thanks! I too have found this discussion fascinating, and I agree with everything you said in your last reply to my comment. So, I don’t have much more to add.

            Although, I will say that environmentalism’s relation to Heidegger’s thought on technology is interesting in that many environmentalists exhibit a “technological” understanding of why we should preserver nature. For example, the idea that we need to preserve the environment because we have to live in it, and it is in our rational self-interest to ensure that it is not destroyed. So you could say even among environmentalists there is a split between the more instrumentally leaning line of thought, and those that see some intrinsic value in preserving nature.

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  6. Great article Tina, as ever, and for which many thanks – sorry I am late in arriving. So anyway, it very much seems we should not attempt to fit Dasein into our typical conceptions of being a subject in a world of otherness, and neither our conceptions of something we think of as ‘consciousness’ as against the objects we believe this consciousness apprehends as knowledge. That immediately makes thinking about it very difficult unless we know Heidegger’s experience as if for ourselves first-hand – assuming always that his writing is pointing to some special, if not unique, insight, one which demands a certain revolution in our pre-existent patterns of thought. Let’s first accept that as a possibility; I think we must. If not, we bat the whole away as if perhaps some quirky solipsism.

    Does it help if we think of the field of awareness which remains unique to each person? That is not ‘existence’ because we can never apprehend an existent, enduringly instantiated thing within the field – including our assumed ‘self’ – it’s always just a flux of phenomena. And neither is it ‘presence’ because that term immediately connotes a dichotomy in which I apprehend ‘my’ body/mind as localised to a certain point within the awareness, such as always being ‘here’ and ‘where I am’. If Dasein is ‘being there’, we need to guard against conflating it with this same dichotomy of localisation, because it may mean ‘being everywhere’ that awareness apprehends spatially. Again, it, Dasein, is non-local. [This is all just a reading of course Tina.]

    Simplified: Dasein’s Being is just awareness – not whatever we may think awareness is, but only its unmediated presentation just as it is. Any ‘awareness of’ must be folded back into the global awareness of Dasein’s Being. Again, we have to come away from ideas about ‘consciousness’ and whatever we think that is – such as perhaps connotes some notion of a perceiving subject, brain function, knowledge, etc. Still, it has a ‘mineness’ because part of (almost everyone’s) awareness is a running stream of self-entity, and which is synonymous with mentation and memories. In seeing this self-entity or ‘mineness’ just for what it is – a narrative construct partial to awareness – then authenticity is gained. In not seeing it, the opposite obtains. However, in reality there is no question of authenticity, as reality by definition cannot embrace what is deemed to be not real. Dasein’s Being takes on the character of either, but never is either in actuality.

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    • “So anyway, it very much seems we should not attempt to fit Dasein into our typical conceptions of being a subject in a world of otherness,”

      Certainly for now. And you’re right in thinking Heidegger’s thought is revolutionary in the sense of being uprooting, which would require a very different approach than what we’re used to. Of course we’ll always have in mind our former conceptions of “otherness” and we’ll be comparing our previous conception to his. I think we’re listening to his account of how our (misguided) conception came about, so we must be open and credulous to some degree at first.

      “Does it help if we think of the field of awareness which remains unique to each person?”

      I’m not sure about the “awareness” part. And readers here aren’t going to know what you mean by that word…I think I know what you mean because I’m reading your book, but I’d rather leave that to you to define because I think it’s very broad.

      That said, as I’ve been reading your book, a lot of it strikes me as Heideggarian insofar as it attempts to do away with dualism by taking a step back from it and looking at it from a distance. The terminology is different and of course, your approach is for psychological benefits more than metaphysics (although they are co-dependent in your book, it seems to me.) I think you’ve got it in saying that Dasein is non-local.

      “That is not ‘existence’ because we can never apprehend an existent, enduringly instantiated thing within the field – including our assumed ‘self’ – it’s always just a flux of phenomena.”

      I’m not sure about saying that the self is “just a flux of phenomena”…I think Heidegger might say we’d come to that conclusion only after doing a lot of theoretical gymnastics and after making our mistake and trying to rectify that mistake in the other direction. That “flux of phenomena” relies on a dichotomy in which we have already assessed Being in terms of something that endures, substance. Perhaps you’d agree with that, I don’t know. I hope this is making sense and this doesn’t sound like just semantics. While I think Heidegger would not have the conventional view of the self as something that endures, I also think he wouldn’t espouse the opposite, that it’s flux of phenomena. Maybe he’d say that although we never experience an enduringly instantiated thing, we sense it and pursue it, as in, we experience it in an incomplete way and are always running ahead of ourselves. Somewhere in your book you talk about the self as potentiality, I think? That might be closer to what Heidegger is talking about.

      There’s a term in Heidegger that I’ve failed to mention because I don’t have a great grasp of it myself, but it’s “care” as the fundamental state of Dasein’s Being-in-the-world. I haven’t determined whether I’ll talk about care in the next post, although it is related to my topic there. So anyways, I’ll jump the gun on this one:

      “The phenomenon of care in its totality is essentially something that cannot be torn asunder; so any attempts to trace it back to special acts or drives like willing and wishing or urge and addiction, or to construct it out of these, will be unsuccessful…Willing and wishing are rooted with ontological necessity in Dasein as care; they are not just ontologically undifferentiated Experiences occurring in a ‘stream’ which is completely indefinite with regard to the meaning of their Being.”

      In other words, I think he’s saying we don’t at first experience a flux as flux, although we can. We experience more generally a potentiality for Being. There’s a kind of drive here, a pushing further which isn’t necessarily inauthentic. “The Self has already been characterized ontologically by ‘Being-ahead-of-itself’.”

      So this may all seem like mincing words, and it might be. These are tough things to talk about. The Self is an illusion of sorts or empty only if we think about it with our previous misguided ontology, although I can’t help but think you’re trying to describe the same thing he is in your own way. If we see it in a Heideggerian way, the Self is potentiality defined as care, and this care is something much broader than the will. “Being-ahead-of-oneself” can be inauthentic as well, and I think this is essentially what you’re talking about in your book when the Self constructs fixed personalities or stories about itself.

      I think you’ll really like Heidegger. You certainly have the potential to understand him better than I ever will, since you are already on the same track, it seems to me. The only thing that might pose a problem for you is leaving aside the terminology that you’ve come up with and adopting his. I’d say for you, Being and Time is worth a crack. I think you’ll find many things that jive with you in there. Then you should come back and set me straight! 🙂

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      • I really appreciate you being so tolerant of me as to wade through my comment and attempt to relate it to your greater understanding Tina. I think it’s a bit awkward having any detailed discussion here in these comments, not least of all because there’s not enough room to expand upon our particular take on certain terms – those we necessarily use in unpicking Heidegger’s own for example. You identified one such area in my making a distinction between consciousness and awareness. The former must by definition comprise a knowledge of some object – ‘con science’ = ‘with knowledge’. And yet for each of us there are temporal gaps in which there is no such knowledge, and these can be cultivated, not in sleeping(!), but in a pellucid ‘awareness’ (call it what you will) which holds no knowledge and is not dependent upon any correlative object. It is just a state of potential (to experience objects and knowledge).

        People generally don’t recognise this, because there is no-thing to ‘re-cognise’; no-thing-ness cannot be laid down in memory; but it is so for each of us – it’s not an experience; it just is no-thing-ness. So yes, if you accept this state of affairs, then what I am calling ‘awareness’ is indeed a broader concept than ‘consciousness’. It’s not really a different category, because it embraces consciousness as a sub-set, although it also allows for an absence of knowledge when resting in pure potential. And all this could be germane to what Heidegger’s getting at.

        So, I was wondering if Dasein was synonymous with this awareness including its sub-set of consciousness. I know you say that ‘human being’ and ‘consciousness’ are very poor word choices, but should we entirely reject consciousness with its objects and knowledge? That would seem odd. If Dasein is “an entity which in each case I myself am”, then it suggests consciousness is a sub-set of it, though not necessarily all of the time. It is surely only our consciousness which gives any existent Dasein a ‘mine-ness’ (Heidegger’s term connoting the qualities of self-entity and uniqueness?). What else could it be? What I call ‘awareness’ has no ‘mine-ness’ in the least, no running sense of selfhood accompanying it – yet it is part of everyday life for each of us! Dasein “takes on a different character” by virtue of consciousness alone; again, what else could it be? What Heidegger calls ‘Being–in-the-world’ I assume to be at any given moment the unified endogram of consciousness. [In my book I call the same ‘meta-level representations’] But ‘Being–in-the-world’ isn’t the whole story; it’s not what our life is when we examine it closely – not from memory, but in pure perception (meaning un-re-presented perception). There is something else to it all; one could call it ‘Dasein’, or whatever. It doesn’t seem unreasonable to call it ‘awareness including its sub-set of consciousness.’ There is none of Heidegger’s ‘side-by-side-ness’ in that.

        [My second paragraph was slightly ambiguously worded, and I did not mean to suggest that the (imagined) self-entity was solely ‘a flux of phenomena’. What I meant was that the thingness appearing in awareness (which is what we justifiably call ‘consciousness’) is only ever ‘a flux of phenomena’ i.e. no-thing enduringly instantiated.]

        Final note: this is all me just tidying up my account here, so to speak. Please feel no obligation to respond Tina, you have far more important matters to attend to, not least of all, little Geordie.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geordie

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        • Wow, you know, I just don’t know. I think you’re right to say that consciousness is a sub-set of sorts. There’s certainly nothing we can experience that would be excluded in Dasein; it just may be that Dasein is the broadest meaning of who we are. And yes, for Heideggger “Being-in-the-world” is not the whole story. He makes a distinction between “Being-in” and “Being-in-the-word” that I didn’t understand, but I imagine it speaks to the point here.

          I’m not sure where I would place what you’re calling awareness in the context of Heidegger. It might be something like authenticity, it might not. It sounds pretty close to me, although Heidegger has all this stuff about bringing death closer…I don’t know about that or whether death would be some kind of object constituted in consciousness. I don’t know what Heidegger says as far as “mineness” and its relationship to authenticity—that’s just my lack of memory though. He probably has addressed that in some form or another. It does seem as though authenticity is something empty, without some worldly object or self-as-worldly-object. (I just made up that last term. Heidegger probably has his own version that’s probably hyphenated as well.)

          Thanks for tidying up! Don’t suppose you’d have the inclination to do the same to my house? 🙂

          Thanks too for that information on Geordie’s name. I love knowing that and I don’t know why I didn’t think to google it! How sweet of you to do it for me.

          I am very much Being-in-the-world-of-Geordie at the moment!

          Like

      • Hey Tina, that stuff about ‘bringing death closer’ sounds as if it could be pertinent. I assume he’s talking about the death of certain patterns (assumptions?) forming in the mind, if only temporarily. Are you going to write about it?

        Cleaning up you say? You know, I discovered in recent years a new theory of physics, though Wyrd doubted me when I told him about it. It’s this: leave a room undusted for two years and the layers of dust don’t get any thicker after that point. The motes at the bottom go back to being quarks or whatever, and the new one’s pile on top sustaining the constant depth. I expect to get nominated for this mind.

        Do give Geordie a tickle behind the ear from me Tina, and I hope you’re still moving in the right direction with the dizziness and what have you.

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        • I think the death thing is more literal. Like when we say we should ‘face death’. But I always rolled my eyes at this point, so I can’t say I understand it. I hadn’t planned on writing about it for that reason, but I’m sure it’s important and even more sure that I missed the point there.

          I buy into your physics theory! And I’ve always wondered about that. I’m sure there are spots way up high that I’ve never dusted and I don’t see it piling up, yet there’s a constant stream of dust coming in here in Tucson, so what gives?

          Then again, I just don’t look up high, so I can’t say for sure. Being short, I’m mostly focused on the floors. If it’s higher than eye level, it doesn’t exist. How’s that for a theory? Or maybe it’s not quarky enough?

          Oh yes, I know, that was bad. Bad.

          Geordie gave you a soft moan of pleasure in return and now he’s asleep.

          Like

  7. As an aside, you mentioned Neal Stephenson. I was a fan of early Stephenson (Zodiac, Snow Crash — which I loved, The Diamond Age, and Cryptonomicon). All enjoyable. I kind of tuned out on his The Baroque Cycle; mostly because I’ve learned to not buy books in a series until the series is done. Somehow I never got back to him.

    Anathem sounds very interesting! I, too, am adding it to my list.

    The thing about Stephenson for me is that his books — the earlier ones I mentioned, anyway — seem to just end. There’s a final climatic scene, but somehow then the book just seems to stop. It’s like he hasn’t mastered the art of the final flourish or something. (On the opposite end of that spectrum, any of Terry Prachett’s Discworld books. Somehow the final paragraph always seems exactly perfect — like the final chord of a great song.)

    Stephenson also penned a really funny (albeit now somewhat outdated) short essay, In the Beginning… Was the Command Line — the second chapter of which always has me in stitches. Might not be quite as appealing to you, but I think Mike would get a hoot out of it if he hasn’t seen it already. It’s freely available online:
    http://www.cryptonomicon.com/beginning.html

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I very well might be misunderstanding this, but the idea that categorization (or even definition) is an exclusive act and, thus, being is outside of possible categorization is interesting. I don’t know if it means anything and my impression of Heidegger is that he doesn’t particularly like “meaningful” things, but it’s interesting.

    A lot of the rest, and I’m not sure if this is the fault of my ignorance or Heidegger’s Heideggeriness, seems like pointlessly wanking with word games.

    Like

  9. Now that was an extremely interesting post! The conversation afterwards, however, magnificent! Kudos to you and your subscribers (I am one, pat myself on the back) for keeping up this awesome conversation.

    Now to confess my sins. I have never really been acquainted with Monism, Dualism, or Solipsism, other than the writings of Plato, Aristotle, Isocrates, and some others who dove into the subject at-length in the Ancient World. Ironically, the Greek is much clearer to me than Heidegger and Hustler (just kidding, Husserl) which, I suppose, makes me think in terms of ‘noos’ for ‘conscience as given by the gods’ according to the Greeks and ‘intelligentia’ as written by the Romans. Both cultures were dualist in their belief, at least originally, and both believed the body was a mere tool of the soul. By Paul’s time (Bible Paul) said dualism had shifted into monism thanks, in part, to the Stoics and the Cynics (those dogs – literally, κυνη means dog). Plutarch, a follower of Plato, definitely defends that conscience (Nooun) is made to act by the made-self-conscious (noethen), in this case giving consciousness to both the actor and the acted upon but, interestingly, that which acts (noethen) upon the acted-upon (nooun) is a creation of the acted-upon, not of its own making. In essence, that would argue that God, or whatever acts upon Dasein, is a creation of the said Dasein and only believed to act upon it in one way or another because of our created belief in its power. In other words, I believe in the god I created for myself, and that god acts upon me because I made him in my own image, and it is my belief he holds power over me. In the computer allegory, the pointer is merely a creation of the consciousness in the computer, after all, a GUI (Graphic User Interface) is itself a collection of 1s and 0s. The GUI is created by the computer and said computer gives power to the GUI system to act upon it. The creation becomes master only because its actual master needs a superseding consciousness to control it and justify its actions. That would certainly account for the fact that so many versions of god exist, including scientific and philosophical ones. Imagine there are not a few thousand versions of god, but seven billion gods, in fact, for we all project our conscience into this superconscience that then dominates us. According to that definition, dasein is not only a self-conscious being, it is a being that can create a superconscience and give it power to rule it. God didn’t make us, we made god. I feel I am become as circular as Heidegger, so I’ll stop trying to make this argument now.

    It is interesting, though, that the platonic ideas will be picked up by the Neoplatonists and become our modern understanding of god, giving a bit more credence to my theory. Clearly, the humanist movement did a lot in the Renaissance and the Enlightenment, as far as I have read here, to retake Plato and liberate him from religion. Heidegger and Hustler (I can’t help it :)) seem to seek to develop that 2500 year old problem. In all truth, the Pythagoreans had formulated this problem two hundred years prior, but these guys were much like Decartes and the humanists, for they saw in the dualism of mind and spirit an equality that pervaded human consciousness. After all, if two things are equal to the same thing (if man and woman have the same mind whilst in different bodies) then they must also be equal to each other, right? The Pythagoreans argued for women’s rights and were the true liberals of their time, which is why they ended up persecuted, murdered, and finally pushed out of Southern Italy. Funny how, at the time, dualism was not the norm, suggesting monism may have been the earliest form of philosophical belief of the two, lost its power for a few hundred years, then come back ca 300 BCE.

    I will not touch Solipsism at all, the name alone is confusing enough for me, ancient languages and all.

    PS. You should totally pick up Giulio Tononi’s “Phi: A Voyage from the Brain to the Soul.” He is a neuroscientist that uses a Dante’s-Inferno model to guide the reader from the brain as a whole, going down into its most basic parts in the company of Galileo Galilei and a bunch of other amazing scientists, then back up the proverbial ladder to display the brain as a whole again. It is the most amazing book on consciousness and how it may take place that I have ever read.

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    • Kudos to you and your subscribers (I am one, pat myself on the back) for keeping up this awesome conversation.

      I may bring up topics, but you guys bring it all to life! Thank you!

      Now to confess my sins. I have never really been acquainted with Monism, Dualism, or Solipsism, other than the writings of Plato, Aristotle, Isocrates, and some others who dove into the subject at-length in the Ancient World.

      Hey the ancient world has a lot to explore, actually, as I’m sure you know. And while it may seem clearer than “Hustler” on the surface, we both know there’s a lot of complexity to those ancients!

      Well Parmenides was a monist, although apparently calling him that is problematic:

      http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/parmenides/

      But pushing all scholarly things aside, let’s call Parmenides a monist. For him, the visible world was an illusion as there was no such thing as non-being. Plato respected this position immensely, but felt we needed something to account for the visible world. So in the Timaeus he has a kind of non-being which he calls “Necessity”; for Plato the problem was not what is being, but what is non-being? How can non-being “exist”? (Plato wanted it to exist to explain the visible world, but knows that he faces a problem here.)

      According to that definition, dasein is not only a self-conscious being, it is a being that can create a superconscience and give it power to rule it. God didn’t make us, we made god. I feel I am become as circular as Heidegger, so I’ll stop trying to make this argument now.

      I’m just not sure what Heidegger has to say about God. I’ve barely made it through the first few chapters of Being and Time on this go around, and I don’t remember anything about God from when I read it a long time ago. Or maybe he does have something to say but it’s in some overly-hyphenated-techincal-term-that-means-god-but-doesn’t-say-god.

      As for the Pythagoreans and any possible connection with the dualism that came later, I have virtually no knowledge of Pythagorean thought except I know it influenced Plato. Curious to hear they argued for women’s rights. I know that there’s an element of that in the Republic (although many other elements that would certainly rub us the wrong way.

      I will not touch Solipsism at all, the name alone is confusing enough for me, ancient languages and all.

      That’s always a good idea. Solipsism can be a lonely enterprise.

      PS. You should totally pick up Giulio Tononi’s “Phi: A Voyage from the Brain to the Soul.” He is a neuroscientist that uses a Dante’s-Inferno model to guide the reader from the brain as a whole, going down into its most basic parts in the company of Galileo Galilei and a bunch of other amazing scientists, then back up the proverbial ladder to display the brain as a whole again. It is the most amazing book on consciousness and how it may take place that I have ever read.

      Sounds fascinating. Tononi must be quite a character! I wonder which part he relegates to the deepest depths of hell?

      Like

  10. Totally love the link on Parmenides. Only read the intro thus far, but I love how they recognize the problems associated with Ancient Greek translation and cultural meaning. I will have to become acquainted with this guy. I need to re-read that dialogue by Plato as well, I think his usage of some of the original words may tell me more about his cultural understanding of the problem. Nothing that hasn’t been done before, of course, I just like to go back and see what was actually being said. Funny thing, that I don’t trust translators.

    I don’t know if Heidegger said anything about god, but I read in one of the previous commentaries that he tended to be redundant, I think it was Nannus you were speaking to at the time; I just used that comment as a platform for me feeling redundant myself. God was just an example of how humans can create a superconscience which they then empower in order to give themselves a sense of eternity or beyondness. The Stoics knew full well that the end would come, and we would fade into nothingness, perhaps that is the reality of the world. Everything else, things like conscience, god, nature…all things are created by noos to avoid the reality of it all: we will die, and we will be gone. I suppose, in that regard, I am a monist, but its funny, I am religious, and therefore a dualist by faith.

    Pythagoreans are interesting indeed. Not much left of them. Some historians believe they influenced Socrates, and therefore Plato, as well as Epaminondas and Pelopidas in Thebes and possibly Philip II and Alexander III (the Great). If that is true, Pythagoreanism was the philosophical belief of some of the greatest minds of the 5th and 4th centuries. After that, the philosophy disappears completely. Well, I shouldn’t say ‘disappeared’ since it remained in Platonism, albeit in mutated form, and evolved into Islamic mystical philosophy (Sufi Mysticism), Catholicism (specially in Spain and in women mystics of the 15th century), and Neoplatonism, which pervaded Renaissance humanist thought and gave rise to the Enlighten Humanists of the 16th century. Actually, Pythagoreanism is best exemplified in “The Symposium” where the best solution, and the one to which Socrates himself gives credit, is that of Diotima. I don’t think she was a Pythagorean (actually, I think she was, it is just everyone else who doesn’t), but only a Pythagorean-like Socrates would have thought of a woman as the example for the male attendants at the drinking party in a world in which Aristotle opposed the thought so completely.

    As for Tononi (sorry, I have totally made you digress from the topic of your post), he doesn’t quite go as far as to describe the descent into consciousness as levels of hell (I have a feeling he doesn’t believe in heaven, hence there is no point), but rather just levels of consciousness. From our brain as a machine to the most minimal part of it, at one point speaking of simple yes/no switches and binary code-like compositions that, coming together in millions of individual categories, create a consciousness-like mind. The experiments he describes, through Galileo Galilei’s eyes, are absolutely fascinating. Also interesting is the viewpoint of Alan Turing as to whether or not machines can think, that’s old news, though.

    Like

    • “Only read the intro thus far, but I love how they recognize the problems associated with Ancient Greek translation and cultural meaning.”

      I just read the intro too. Anytime I doubt something I’m about to say—”Parmenides was a monist”—I just go ahead and google it to see if there are any dissenting opinions. There almost always are! Well, whatever, I think Parmenides was a monist, although you are in a much better position to judge since you read Greek. I imagine reading Plato’s Parmenides in the Greek would be really fascinating for you. It’s really tricky to read, and that’s after it’s been translated!

      “I don’t know if Heidegger said anything about god, but I read in one of the previous commentaries that he tended to be redundant, I think it was Nannus you were speaking to at the time; I just used that comment as a platform for me feeling redundant myself.”

      I figure that’s what a blog is for! 🙂

      “I am religious, and therefore a dualist by faith.”

      I’m surprised by this based on your comment about creating a higher power for ourselves. What religion do you ascribe to? Or is it your own?

      “Pythagoreanism is best exemplified in “The Symposium” where the best solution, and the one to which Socrates himself gives credit, is that of Diotima. I don’t think she was a Pythagorean (actually, I think she was, it is just everyone else who doesn’t), but only a Pythagorean-like Socrates would have thought of a woman as the example for the male attendants at the drinking party in a world in which Aristotle opposed the thought so completely.”

      You know, I never gave much thought to the fact that Diotima was a woman and I had no idea that the Pythagoreans held women in an exalted position. I imagine that would come across as fairly shocking in Plato’s time, though. It would certainly be making a statement, especially to have her in a position of instructing young Socrates.

      It sounds like Tononi has a computer-like analogy for the brain as well.

      The Alan Turing thing—perhaps old news, but still interesting! Of course so much depends on how we define consciousness, a question which he wisely altered in his paper in order to direct us to a more fruitful pursuit.

      Like

  11. I will have to catch up on my Parmenides. I just went over the introduction (126a-127d) and it does seem quite interesting. It is, of course, an excellent example of how Plato used βραχιολογία (brachylogy) to discuss a particular treatise (λόγος). The idea behind brachylogy is that it is spoken quickly, in a breath, back and forth between individuals discussing the treatise which was, in all effect, a long-winded monologue. This is something quite new in the 5th century, and introduced by the pythagoreans in the 6th. The Socratic method used brachylogy, in a way; Socrates would ask a question and the individual would answer (Socratic Method), eventually learning something about himself. Plato, as Aristotle, used brachylogy to create conversation. Thucydides, the writer of “Histories,” basically denounces brachylogy, and therefore the dialogues, as the product of a new and unlearned generation perplexed by the likes of Socrates and Plato. Thucydides’ work is known for its long-winded (λόγοι) speeches which, in my mind, makes him the better historian.

    I’m LDS. I also teach Sunday school. I guess I could be a closet monist? I certainly believe in the possibility of there being nothing after death (Stoicism), and understand atheism and value it as another form of philosophical thought. I just like the idea of the possibility of an afterlife. It’s fun, and having a family and all, religion gives us something to aim towards. Something a bit more authoritative than crazy old dad. I am quite the liberal, I suppose, my wife is quite the conservative. In the end we have an open household in which our children can explore multiple approaches to religion, or not at all. Our ambivalence as parents is their freedom to choose, I suppose.

    Now you will have to re-read the Symposium :). But definitely check out Tononi, he is one of the best reads I have ever had the pleasure of enjoying.

    Like

    • I’d be curious to hear how you became LDS and I’d love to hear what your church members think of the FLDS. I have a fascination with the latter after randomly entering Colorado City one day.

      So you teach Sunday school? How is that? You do seem quite liberal. Do you ever have a dilemma when someone asks a question as to whether you should answer according to your own beliefs or answer as a representative of the LDS?

      How does that work out with your wife and her beliefs?

      No need to answer these questions…I fear I may be sticking my nose where it doesn’t belong. I just find it interesting.

      I was given the choice as a child too. My father wasn’t a very religious person, although he was sort of Catholic. My mother was religious, but never forced me into anything. In my opinion, it’s nice to offer a church-going experience to them and give them that freedom to choose.

      Yes, Parmenides. Sorry I got distracted by your being LDS. 🙂 Really curious to hear more about that. Anyways, I’ve never heard this word “brachylogy”, although it seems clear that Socrates’ yes-man interlocutors seem to use it!

      I will have to check out Tononi when my reading cue goes down to something manageable. Especially since he has your high recommendation.

      Like

      • Always glad to answer questions, although they may be a bit more boring than you may have imagined.
        I became LDS when my parents converted. I was two years old at the time, so I suppose I could say I was born into church membership.
        We don’t talk much about the FLDS in LDS circles. In fact, I don’t think I have ever had a conversation with anyone about the FLDS church. We know they exist, and a few particulars about who they are, but that’s about it.
        Teaching Sunday school is easy, philosophically, because I am LDS first, a philosopher second. The way I study philosophy or the ancient world doesn’t have much bearing on the way I teach. There is no reason the people I teach have to suffer under the burden of the questions I ask myself, after all.
        As to my wife, well, we have a pretty good partnership. All in all, it makes for a pretty balanced household. We have equally divergent political views, as you might imagine, and I think overall it allows the kids to see the benefits of working across the isle. We make bipartisan politics cool. Like you, I find the choice liberating, and hopefully our children will as well.

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        • Not boring at all! I would jump at the chance to go to your Sunday school group. 🙂

          There is no reason the people I teach have to suffer under the burden of the questions I ask myself, after all.

          LOL! I know how you feel. I had to teach a small Sunday school group once. I found it unnerving because the kids kept asking the same questions I had asked, and I didn’t want to sully them with my personal opinions. 🙂 I wasn’t as equipped as you are. I didn’t know the ‘official’ answers to such questions, so I eventually quit. I felt myself on the verge of saying, “Oh hell, I don’t know. Maybe God doesn’t actually exist?”

          I’ve been curious about that FLDS-LDS relationship. I don’t know much about it except what I see on “Big Love” (ever watch that show?) and there seems to be a great deal of animosity between the two groups in that show. The animosity makes a certain amount of sense as LDS try to differentiate themselves to the public. I did suspect that in real life there’s just not much of a relationship between the two.

          My experience in Colorado City was very interesting. We pulled in to get lunch and found a small community of tract homes with lots of no trespassing signs. We found a restaurant (maybe one of two in the whole community) and the door was absolutely covered in warning signs telling visitors they would not be discriminated against based on their race or religious beliefs, etc., and that recording and camera equipment were not allowed. The women ran the restaurant and they looked at us suspiciously while we tried to figure out how to order (it was a weird sign-up process). Anyhow, they all had spectacular pompadour hairdos and such. I felt like a fish out of water, which must be what they feel all the time. And…the sandwiches we ordered were spectacularly good. 🙂

          Then we went to the grocery store, which turned out to be more like our hippie co-ops with tons of organic this-es and natural thats. There was a little girl in there who could not stop laughing at me. I think either she’d never seen an Asian before or I must’ve looked half naked (it was summertime and I was wearing shorts). Or maybe it was a combination of the two factors.

          Anyways, overall they were a nice but cautious group. I imagine they’d had to endure a lot of harassment from the press. I felt sorry for them.

          We were also in Eldorado, TX at the time when the children were being taken from the compound. We just happened to be driving through and just happened to have our video camera there, so we got out and joined the large group of reporters and called ourselves ‘independent’ press. We just wanted to see if we could get the scoop before it hit the news. We found the other reporters asking us what was going on.

          I think it’s great that you and your wife can discuss these things in such a way! And I bet it does make bipartisan politics cool for your kids. They’re probably learning a lot about how it’s possible to be friends with someone who doesn’t agree with you—a very valuable lesson to learn.

          Like

  12. LoL, sometimes I feel like saying something controversial in Sunday School just to stir things up, but then my better nature prevents me from doing so.
    Hhhhmmm, ya, I have never seen Big Love. I watched Sister Wives for a while, but that got boring quite quickly. It is fascinating, if you think about it, that you have had way more interaction with the FLDS than I have. Your experiences are about what I would expect considering FLDS culture; I am sure they are quite nice people, but their experiences with the outside world have not been the best either, as you say. Can I just say how awesome it is that you and the hubby pretended to be ‘independent press’? Now that sounds like an adventure! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • You might like Big Love. It’s really just a soap opera, but we found it interesting. Guys might say they’d like to have multiple wives, but they’d probably change their minds after watching the show.

      I haven’t watched Sister Love, but if you say it’s boring, I’ll pass.

      It was a fun adventure. I would have been too shy to do something like that, but my husband loves to push my limits. Pauly Shore was there filming some stupid show where he goes around making dumb comments and trying to upset people. He tried to film me, but I made sure to be super boring so I wouldn’t end up on TV. God he was a jerk. I’ve never seen such an egomaniac.

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  13. Pingback: Heidegger’s Being and Time (Part III: Dualism) | Diotima's Ladder

  14. Pingback: Phenomenology: Cotton Candy or Ripe Fruit for Artificial Intelligence? | Diotima's Ladder

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