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Direct Realism VI: Mind-Body Dichotomy

    Consciousness is a faculty of living beings. Therefore, to properly understand it, we must first understand what life is. Life is the dynamic process by which a system maintains the relationship between its parts over time by means of self-generated, integrated action.

    In less fancy words, living beings are a set of connected parts, that have specific relationships to one another (a system). The only reason we can think of our hearts as "ours" is because it has a very specific relationship to the rest of our parts: it pumps blood to them. The moment this relationship ceases to be, and the heart becomes something that is just physically close to our other parts, we're no longer alive.

    To maintain those relationships, we must constantly act, changing with each action (dynamic process), yet retaining our essential characteristics. To survive, we must eat, digest, take the nutrients to our individual cells - and each of those actions changes our physical makeup, but does not change the original relationship between our parts.

    Lastly, the actions of a living being are essentially different from the simple interactions between inanimate entities. It is not the nature of the rock as a whole that causes it to break when hammered down - split it in two, and its halves will break just the same. Although our isolated parts also interact with existents according to their identity, the result of those interactions is defined by the nature of the living being as a whole (self-generated). In contrast to the rock, carving the stomach out of a pig and stuffing food into it will not cause it to digest. It is the pig, not the stomach, that digests.

    Consciousness is a biological faculty. It is a part of the process of life, and thus follows its rules. In other words, consciousness is a process comprised of self-generated actions, because life is a comprised of self-generated actions. Although the exact nature of it is still unknown to us, we know that they are aspects of the same thing, much like existence and identity, for example. If life ceases to be, consciousness ceases to be, and vice versa.

    "But wait, how is that relevant to Analog Realism, and the idea that consciousness starts at the level of sensations?" - you might ask, since you're a clever, inquisitive individual who's been been following the page, and remembers the previous post.

    To claim that consciousness starts at the integrated perception of animals, and not the sensory awareness of cells, is to group the actions of single-celled organisms with that of inanimate objects, instead of other conscious beings. Cells, however, interact with existence as an integrated whole, and not merely a juxtaposition of its parts. To say that a cell possesses no consciousness whatsoever is to say that they possess one aspect (life), but not another (consciousness), of the same thing - the equivalent of talking about an existent without identity.

    In the case of Harry Binswanger's Direct Realism, this belief stems from two mistakes: the adoption of the mind-body dichotomy, and a misunderstanding of causality. I will address, and correct, both of these mistakes tomorrow.

  -  June 12th, 2020

    Consciousness is a faculty of living beings. Therefore, to properly understand it, we must first understand what life is. Life is the dynamic process by which a system maintains the relationship between its parts over time by means of self-generated, integrated action.

    In less fancy words, living beings are a set of connected parts, that have specific relationships to one another (a system). The only reason we can think of our hearts as "ours" is because it has a very specific relationship to the rest of our parts: it pumps blood to them. The moment this relationship ceases to be, and the heart becomes something that is just physically close to our other parts, we're no longer alive.

    To maintain those relationships, we must constantly act, changing with each action (dynamic process), yet retaining our essential characteristics. To survive, we must eat, digest, take the nutrients to our individual cells - and each of those actions changes our physical makeup, but does not change the original relationship between our parts.

    Lastly, the actions of a living being are essentially different from the simple interactions between inanimate entities. It is not the nature of the rock as a whole that causes it to break when hammered down - split it in two, and its halves will break just the same. Although our isolated parts also interact with existents according to their identity, the result of those interactions is defined by the nature of the living being as a whole (self-generated). In contrast to the rock, carving the stomach out of a pig and stuffing food into it will not cause it to digest. It is the pig, not the stomach, that digests.

    Consciousness is a biological faculty. It is a part of the process of life, and thus follows its rules. In other words, consciousness is a process comprised of self-generated actions, because life is a comprised of self-generated actions. Although the exact nature of it is still unknown to us, we know that they are aspects of the same thing, much like existence and identity, for example. If life ceases to be, consciousness ceases to be, and vice versa.

    "But wait, how is that relevant to Analog Realism, and the idea that consciousness starts at the level of sensations?" - you might ask, since you're a clever, inquisitive individual who's been been following the page, and remembers the previous post.

    To claim that consciousness starts at the integrated perception of animals, and not the sensory awareness of cells, is to group the actions of single-celled organisms with that of inanimate objects, instead of other conscious beings. Cells, however, interact with existence as an integrated whole, and not merely a juxtaposition of its parts. To say that a cell possesses no consciousness whatsoever is to say that they possess one aspect (life), but not another (consciousness), of the same thing - the equivalent of talking about an existent without identity.

    In the case of Harry Binswanger's Direct Realism, this belief stems from two mistakes: the adoption of the mind-body dichotomy, and a misunderstanding of causality. I will address, and correct, both of these mistakes tomorrow.

  -  June 13th, 2020