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Thread: What is familiarity?

  1. #31


    Quote Originally Posted by tiny View Post
    It sounds like a more honest recognition of the human condition than other (quasi-)religious belief systems. Religion isn't necessary for everyone, but some people need that crutch or "raft" to make it through life.
    Sure, but that's the point, right? If you can confirm that "an experience is transpiring", then there must(?) be a metaphysical "object" in which that experience is transpiring...? That object being you.

    Is there any way for an experience to be had other than by something that exists...?

    If I am consciously aware of thinking, then it must be true that I exist in the first place.
    Isn't the subjective state of being aware of your awareness something that you know intuitively? Do you question whether you are conscious?
    One of the most striking and enthralling ideas I discovered in Buddhism is often translated as emptiness, but I personally think a better word for it is essencelessness. One way to think of it is that any given piece of reality has its existence defined entirely by its context and interaction with the rest of reality. That is, it lacks any intrinsic essence beyond its context. Everything is purely a function of everything else, rather than a thing unto itself. A little bit, I suppose, like how the dictionary creates an entire language of words whose meanings are defined only by other words (well, we cheat a little with direct everyday experience in that example, but you get the idea). A corollary is that nothing is ever completely well-defined (enter Heisenberg…); a further corollary is that absolutely everything is subject to change…

    A specific application of this, and a central tenet of Buddhist thought, is recognition of your own lack of intrinsic essence. I cannot rule out the possibility that the notion of an extant experiencer is merely an artifact of a transient, ethereal experience of self-awareness. Put another way, I cannot just assume the primacy of my existence facilitating an experience rather than the reverse. (Well, I can, but I do count it as a distinct, additional assumption.)

    As far as being conscious… well, yes, I do question that, kind of? ^.^; I do not have a solid grasp on precisely what it means to be conscious. Even Alan Turing couldn't quite answer that one. o.o;

  2. #32


    Quote Originally Posted by tiny View Post
    If I am consciously aware of thinking, then it must be true that I exist in the first place.
    Isn't the subjective state of being aware of your awareness something that you know intuitively? Do you question whether you are conscious?
    No, that's the fundamental assumption that Buddhism claims is not true. There is no "I". We think that there is an "I", but in reality there isn't. Sure, there is something that is conscious, but it has no firm identity. If you are to really question what "I" is, you will find it is not your beliefs, not your body, not any part of your brain, not even your thoughts. Ultimately you have conned yourself into believing you are a separate entity. Descartes was wrong. "I think, therefore I am" is better written as "Thoughts are perceived, nothing logically follows".

  3. #33


    Quote Originally Posted by Sapphyre
    The experience of thought and self awareness suggests only that such an experience is transpiring. To say that the existence of a thought implies the existence of a thinker is actually to posit a new and separate assumption; it doesn't follow directly on its own. And for that matter, the occurrence of some phenomenon (such as an experience of thought) does not imply temporally stable existence of anything; so even if you could claim "I am", you can do so only within that moment. You can't infer that "you" still "are" in order to make such claim again in the future, nor that your memories of having arrived at the same conclusion in the immediate past are valid, etc.

    For me, Descartes' statement actually says very little. ^^;
    I see a difference between thinking and awareness. Thinking does imply the existence of a thinker, but it doesn't define or identify what it is that's aware of thinking. Things like "temporally stable existence" and "moment" are just thoughts; i.e., artifacts of thinking. Awareness is aware of these things.

    One of the brain's functions is to think, just like the lungs function to provide oxygen to the blood. Awareness is aware of these things regardless of whether or not they are merely delusions. Delusions, illusions, fact or fiction, are all problems for the brain to think about and try to figure out. Awareness is simply aware of that. As I see it, awareness has no need to figure anything out. It just exists.

    Descartes was trying to find something he could be certain of. Because of the possibility of delusions, illusions, and dreams, he could not be certain the things he perceived really existed. But he did conclude that thinking, whether the thoughts were true or not, was something he was certain was happening, so that proved his existence (to himself). Sounds logical to me and he made a good point, but, like you, it doesn't do much for me anymore.

  4. #34


    There is no certainty to anything perceived by the human mind, not anything conceptual nor conceivable. We cannot even decipher reality with minimal sensory input. As humans we are largely unaware of our surroundings and are largely unaware of our own realities. In short, we are reactionary creatures.

    There are two mechanisms at work in our brains: (summarizing)

    1) Consciousness: Our ability to interpret, interact with, and navigate the world around us. These thought processes include self-evaluation, planning, interpretation, calculation, and, in part, navigation. Any input into forming these thoughts are elements of perception that are direct sensory stimuli. (Frontal lobes, pre-frontal lobes, occipital lobes, motor cortexes)

    2) Sub-consciousness: Our self-preservation mechanism, instincts, emotions, desires, proximity, direction and time senses, and notion or pre-conceived evaluation. (amygdala, visual association cortex, cerebellum, temporal lobe, hippocampus)

    To put this idea into simple scenario: We spend a significant portion of our day sleeping. During these hours our mind does not simply "shut off" but rather is engaged in complex processes while we are asleep. In fact, we are so occupied with our slumber that we are shut off from all outside influences. The primary visual cortex is shut down. The olfactory senses shut down. Auditory senses shut down. Even our tactile sensory system shuts down. (ever wake up with a numb arm?) We enter a world within our own subconscious that can entertain us while we sleep. This can go on for more than 8 hours in real time.

    During the time that we sleep (even in stages below REM 4) we can form memories that are based upon dreams. In fact, such dreams can form or create avenues for problem solving in the world later while we are indeed awake and functionally interactive with the world around us. This is not to say that dreams define us or dictate our direction but rather portrays that we are certainly subject to the waves and complexities of our subconscious half.

    Reality is a wicked misnomer. Reality is only a perception and without anyone else to confirm it, there could be no definition as it would be without reciprocation. I, as a lone human, cannot believe my own reality without confirmation from another. Similarly, I cannot be certain that I am indeed "self-aware" without a system of "checks-and-balances".

    The very idea that I cannot alone ascertain that my 'reality' is true is cause to continue my search despite my own limitations.

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