I'm a philosophy student that tends to post about really serious things unseriously and about really unserious things seriously.
I was once described as a "beautiful, intelligent iguana".
My idea is clearly that consciousness actually belongs not to man’s existence as an individual but rather to the community and herd-aspects of his nature; that accordingly, it is finely developed only in relation to its usefulness to community or herd; and that consequently…
It’s section 354 of part 5. I’m curious about what you’re dealing with, would you care to talk about it?
Thank you! I’m not really sure how the Nietzsche quote fits in with all of this (I’m not ‘here’ mentally right now; I had 4 straight hours of philosophy discussion today and gave a presentation, so…ugh), but I’ll have to think about it and come back to it another time.
And I’m going to put the rest of this under a ‘read more’ because it’ll likely be long/incoherent/whatever.
I’m mostly just concerned with consciousness as an emergent property. There seem to be two main accounts of this type of emergence that I know about, represented best by Searle’s account of ‘emergence1’ and ‘emergence2’. Just for clarification:
Searle quickly says that emergence2 properties are impossible, but I want to argue that they exist, and that consciousness is an example of them. This is for two reasons: (1) Searle only talks about how, as far as I can tell, physical elements are making up an emergent property, and discounts how social conditions factor in to this (for example, our immersion in a system of linguistic signs) and (2) I believe that (immaterial) consciousness has causal powers beyond the (physical) elements that make it up (I think neuroplasticity plays into this somehow, and maybe some other factors, but I’m not exactly sure how).
On the flip side of things, someone like Johnston, in his account of Zizek’s ontology, talks about how consciousness (or subjectivity, they’re pretty much the same thing in Johnston’s account) is produced from some primordial, materialGrund(to use Schelling’s term, as Johnston does), and is irriducible to it. On this end, it sounds pretty close to Searle’s account (strangely). The differences are that (1) instead of saying that consciousness rises purely out of interaction of physical neurons, Johnston wants to account for the cultural, or otherwise ‘higher-level’, factors that play into the generation of consciousness (so that consciousness doesn’t become something static, as it is for Searle, but is instead constantly being produced) and (2) it seems, as far as I can tell, that Johnston’s account of consciousness would fall into Searle’s emergent2 category.
The problem is that Johnston (and possible Nietzsche here? That’s why I need to think about that quote more) wants to invest everything in the cultural (higher-level) production of consciousness, while Searle wants to focus on the purely physical (lower-level) make up of consciousness. This is problematic both because it doesn’t establish how the immaterial can have causal interaction with/be causally effected by the purely material, but also because (and more important) because this seems to fall perfectly into Harman’s distinction between ‘undermining’ and ‘overmining’ objects. Johnston overmines, while Searle undermines - in both of their theories, they forget about consciousness, they forget to actually talk about what consciousness is, but are satisfied with simply talking about that which generates consciousness.
I think this is mostly due to the fact that ‘consciousness’ is always seen as a property (along with all emergent ‘things’), but I think it could be helpful to think about consciousness as an (immaterial) object in Harman’s sense of the term, and try to draw some conclusions from that. I think we can study consciousness separated from these connections to culture, neurons (though not only in this way! these connections are still important), and that doing so may yield new/interesting results.
The thing is: how are we to study this immaterial object? Theory can help, but I’d still like some scientific base for studying it. Currently there’s no way to for the various sciences to do that right now (this is exactly why Searle wants to say consciousness is emergent1). I don’t see any (logical) reason that science couldn’t eventually study the immaterial, though. I’m thinking of this analogously to what I know about Meillassoux’s virtual ‘God to come’ - I’m thinking of a possible virtual ‘Science to come’. But whereas the current materialist sciences had to focus on the history of “pre-scientific” investigations into things in order to formalize what “science” is (post-Enlightenment science, the stuff Bacon was outlining), I think this new science to come will have to focus on the history of investigations into the immaterial. This means that the sciences will start having to give credence to ‘mystical’ accounts of the world, or ones that don’t fit perfectly into a rigid ‘scientific’ (in the present sense) view of the world. This is anathema to the way philosophers tend to think of science today, and to the way that scientists think of themselves, but I think it’s necessary. Basically, we need a new ‘Bacon’ to help formalize a way of studying the immaterial (though, like all sciences [even though they want to deny it] not actually totalize the object of study).
I’m also interested in this account of consciousness for things like free will, and other popular sub-subjects of metaphysics.
Finally, I’m not thinking of consciousness as some privileged class of objects, as if all other emergent objects were emergent1 and only consciousness was special. Instead, consciousness is part of a class of immaterial objects with these properties, but it’s simply the easiest one for us to study (I’m thinking of this like Heidegger’s privileging of Dasein in the investigation into Being - consciousness is “ontically [the immaterial object] closest to us, but ontologically farthest”.
So…that’s where my mind is right now. Sorry to mind dump on you.