TA101 (Mohrhoff)



Commentary 5 (to R3)




by Herbert FJ Müller

23 May 2008, posted 31 May 2008




By and large, I think our views coincide.  I want to comment here on a few points where I have questions.



The most important one concerns what you call ultimate reality (UR).  In {11} you equate UR with God.  This is a possible way of talking about it, but it has some problems.  Consider for instance, Hegel’s work ‘Phänomenologie des Geistes’ as first part of a ‘system of science’.  This started from an analysis of mind (one possible translation of ‘Geist’); ‘Die sinnliche Gewiβheit; oder das Diese und das Meinen.’  But he ended by talking about ‘Das absolute Wissen’, in effect = God’s knowledge (another translation of ‘Geist’).  The result was that he lost much of his audience, except for instance Marx who transformed his dialectical method into what he claimed was the (positive) ‘science’ of dialectical materialism. 



Schopenhauer for one did not recognize himself in Hegel’s description of science, and reacted by centering on an irrational ‘will’ (in some ways anticipating Freud) and the suffering resulting from it; he recommended Buddhist-type practices to deal with it. 



Kierkegaard also protested, and to get away from the absolute, and onto himself, he emphasized ‘existence’, subject-centered efforts; which were later fused with 20th century phenomenology.  These developments brought the subject back into action, though in an incomplete way.



What I think needs to be assured is the contiguity with ongoing experience.  Procedurally, one can think of Percy Bridgman’s ‘operationalism’, which requires that one talk about results (MIR or rather as-if-MIR) only while also considering the subject’s activity; in particular the structuring efforts (as in constructivism); and from no structures to start with (0-D).  This occurs within encompassing experience (à la Jaspers). 



For instance, the unstructured origin, within which all structures are created, can be defined operationally, as the activity of emptying the mind of structures inasmuch as possible, or at least being aware of the need to allow for that, because all structures are in principle ad-hoc and temporary.



Another possible problem with God-likeness (our true self {11}) is ‘hybris’ (at least if positive structures are associated with this notion :  one could then be tempted to hand out absolute truths, etc; and that happens a good deal)  -  but which you assure me {14} is not a problem in people who have realized their identity with the self of all selves.


Some other points :



I am still not quite clear what you mean by ‘surface self’ or ‘surface consciousness’;  is it the lack of access to UR, or to the ‘supermind’ ? {8}



‘The self’ {7} I understand as a structure, a tool, within SE – we may have a terminological difference here. 



Mathematics – ‘where is this place ?’ {3}  Feynman’s question is discussed by Lakoff and Nuñez (‘Where does Mathematics come from’, 2000) with the answer ‘in the embodied mind’ – with which I would agree, except for the nebulous term ‘embodied’.  It has that in common with all structures, with all reality.



Also I am still not certain what you mean by ‘numerical identity’ {22}.  Do you want to relate this to the mystical experience of oneness ?  {20}  This would be similar to the ‘hen’ of Greek philosophy, it seems; including the ‘ever-present origin’ {30}ff, which is also implied in Herakleitos’ ‘Πάντα ε ‘ (panta rhei). 



{37} The disappearing subject :  this has been a problem in modern science, mainly since Descartes.



Furthermore I still don’t quite understand in what sense ‘particles’ are needed {35} for UR.  So far it seems to me that this conflicts with your anti-materialist aims.  -  By the way, in this connection, do you know someone who could discuss my questions about Nagarjuna in R23 [17] (and in R21) of TA93 ?




Herbert FJ Müller
     e-mail <herbert.muller (at) mcgill.ca>