KARL JASPERS FORUM
TAs 102-104 (Vimal)
Response 4 (to C3, Müller)
( ON ENCOMPASSING EXPERIENCE )
by Ram Lakhan Pandey Vimal
26 January 2008, posted 2 February 2008
Thanks for the comments and asking me to comment and compare the PE-SE framework (TA102, 103, and 104) with your framework in TA93. My response is as follows; format is little different, please see inline response under ‘RLPV’.
Comments on your very interesting article TA93: I liked TA93 : , , , and .
I have referenced your article now in TA104 (if possible, kindly replace the older .pdf file with the updated attached version) in Section 2.5, in which I have included my views elaborated in this response.
In (Müller, 2007), there are two interesting hypotheses: “(i) The constructivist option of using working-entities … structured within otherwise not-structured experience (of mind-and-world)… (ii) the traditional metaphysical-ontological option of postulating pre-structured, persistent, and usually also mind-independent, and indeed mind-exclusive, reality (MIR) and truth.” This may be related to first person experience vs. third person MIR physics. MIR appears to have an explanatory gap of Type-3 : how can we say physics is MIR when mind (subjective experience) is always used in setting up theories and observation, or “How Do We Know What We Believe We Know?” (Glasersfeld, 1985)”. However, one could argue that in what ways physical laws might be different if physics were completely MIR; perhaps, physical (third person) laws will be invariant with respect to MIR vs. MDR (mind-dependent reality or radical constructivism). This is because subjective biases are minimized by well designed experiments, such as by using the method of constant stimuli (Vimal, Pokorny, Smith, & Shevell, 1989) or randomized double staircases (Vimal, 1998) in psychophysical experiments), and by repetitions and replications at various laboratories world wide. That is, MDR = MIR + subjective biases ~ MIR when subjective biases are close to zero, even though observer is always present.
<3> HFJM: Let me start by discussing this from a phenomenological point of view. Mental structures are formed within ongoing subjective experience (SE); this concerns all mental structures, including for instance qualia such as pain, color, heat; gestalt formations, ideas, words, numbers, and word-gestalt concepts such as ‘objects’, and their properties such as mass, charge, spin, etc. The decisive term here is ‘within’, because it means that none of the structures, including the ones referring to ‘the world’ (such as ‘matter’ or ‘micro-matter’), can occur without (outside of or independently of) SE. This is a ‘topological’ question if you like. Seen from the SE side, this means that SE is ‘encompassing’, which is a central concept in Karl Jaspers’ epistemology. He wrote (for instance in 1948/91 pp.38-39) that ‘we are in the encompassing and we ourselves are the encompassing’.
RLPV: I think that Jaspers’ statement ‘we are in the encompassing and we ourselves are the encompassing’ (Jaspers, 1948/1991) needs elaboration and interpretation in PE-SE framework : We are objects for other subjects and we are subjects for other objects. In other words, I have first person experience or subjective experience (SE) of all external objects which also includes my external body parts. Similarly, I am also objects for other conscious entities such as other conscious human beings and conscious animals that satisfy the essential ingredients (wakefulness, attention, re-entry, and memory) of reportable SE. Jaspers’ statement, in isolation, seems to me that it is silent about inert matter, i.e., it is not clear if it is sympathetic to panpsychism or proto-panpsychism. In the PE-SE framework, inert matter is a carrier (not experiencer) of SEs/PEs. A system may have proto-experience (PE) but not SE if it does not satisfy SE’s essential ingredients. For example, consider the red light falling on the skin of primitive amoeba-like animal (floating in the ancient sea); this animal detects the red light and makes a characteristic wriggle of activity; this behavior may be considered as its PE.
<4> HFJM : If Jaspers’ observation is correct, as I believe it is, both materialism and idealism are impossible (and you appear, in principle at least, to share this opinion). Neither matter nor ideas can exist before and independently of SE, as mind-independent realities (MIRs = metaphysics-ontology). This applies to any kind of matter, no matter what its ‘size’ is; thus neither objects, nor the physical universe, nor quanta or sub-quanta are possible before, outside, or independently, of SE. ‘Dual-aspect’ views are unhelpful because they tend to ignore and thus obscure this problem.
RLPV: In materialism, mind emerges from matter and in idealism it is reverse, matter emerges from mind. Jaspers’ statement ‘we are in the encompassing and we ourselves are the encompassing’, by itself, appears to be silent on materialism, idealism, dualism (mind and matter equal footing but interact somehow), and dual-aspect (mind and matter are two aspect of the same entity) views because his observation is empirical and appears to be after mind and brain appeared in spacetime. It does not say how mind and matter appear. I need to read all his relevant work before I comment further. If you have his papers available, kindly email them to me.
In PE-SE framework, entities have double aspects. SE emerges when its essential ingredients (wakefulness, attention, re-entry, and working memory) are satisfied. Otherwise, inert material entities are carriers of SEs/PEs. Double aspects of entities are mental and material aspects. That is, mind and matter are not independent, rather they are the two aspects of the same entity. Therefore, I do not see that PE-SE framework contradicts Jaspers’ framework because the statement ‘we are in the encompassing and we ourselves are the encompassing’ is for SE and hence it must be already satisfying SE’s essential ingredients. That is, Jaspers’ statement does not say anything about inert matter or elementary particles, which, in PE-SE framework, are carriers of SEs/PEs and behave as non-experiential entities. I think that dual-aspect PE-SE framework is closest to Jaspers’ observation.
<5> HFJM: Now that in turn implies that ‘co-evolution’ of SE and matter is impossible. SE is first, it is the background or matrix in which concepts like ‘matter’ can be structured. The idea of neural nets as material ‘explanation’ of mind would be an example of what Jaspers had called ‘brain-mythology’; and the situation has not changed since he wrote this. As I see it, understanding of mental activity in terms of brain and nervous function, or of any other ‘objective’ structure or function, occurs within SE, and there is no way of inverting or otherwise changing this relationship. The same reasoning applies to more recent mythologies about microtubules, quanta, sub-quanta, etc. The subject can never become an object that can be structured and observed (even though it can have a name like an object, such as ‘subject’, or ‘SE’).
RLPV: I did not say co-evolution of SE and matter. I said, “matter (mass, charge, and space-time) and associated elemental PEs co-evolved and co-developed into neural-nets and associated neural-net PEs”. Elemental-PEs are NOT SEs. SE emerges in its neural-net when its essential ingredients are satisfied. Thus, your statement (“understanding of mental activity … occurs within SE”) does not contradict PE-SE framework because this framework allows that the triad self (SE of subject), SE of objects, and SEs are all the same neural-activities in neural-nets because the signals re-enters again and again and binds all information (further details are given in Section 5.2 of TA103). Please note that there are different areas for different functions (V4/V8 for color, V5 for motion, cortical midline structure CMS for self, and so on), re-entry binds them.
Ram Lakhan Pandey Vimal
e-mails: <rlpvimal (at) yahoo.co.in>,