(A) To describe some aspects of consciousness.
(B) To indicate that "unconsciousness hides itself": If you are unconscious of something, you also tend to be unconscious of your unconsciousness.
(C) To suggest that a "well-developed and flexible self-model" is a crucial aspect of consciousness.
(D) To define reflective consciousness and self-reflective consciousness.
(E) To indicate that self-deception might be beneficial, which means that whatever we think of ourselves might be in error.
(F) To indicate that there is a need for self-reflection.
(G) To illustrate how language can shape consciousness.
(H) To tease the reader with a "consciousness hierarchy."
(I) To indicate that consciousness, in evolutionary terms, is a recent development, still in its infancy; hence, prone to error.
(J) To expose some commonly believed fallacies about consciousness.
(K) To discuss some features of consciousness.
(L) To introduce Gurdjieff's idea that what we think of as our "normal waking state" is, in fact, a condition of sleep.
(M) To hint at "another way of knowing."
(N) To recommend some books on consciousness.
(O) To define protest.
(P) To suggest Friedrich Nietzsche's answer to protest: "Amor Fati," love of fate.
(Q) To indicate that "becoming more conscious" is the jumpcept that includes all jumpcepts: The "meta-jumpcept."
(R) To recommend that you base your life on the assumption that you are relatively unconscious—because this opens the door to higher awareness, while the contrary keeps you stick in your holdcepts.
(S) To indicate that this is another way of saying, "I live my life out of a context of questions rather than answers."
(In Sanskrit, there are twelve separate words for different aspects of what we call "consciousness." It is a difficult word to describe or define. An important notion: "unconsciousness hides itself"... Think about that...the point is that if I'm unconscious about something, I also tend to be unconscious of the fact that I'm unconscious.)
At the lowest level: Awareness of the environment—in this sense, could a thermostat be said to be conscious?At the highest level: Who knows?
In "The Mind's I" by Hofstadter and Dennett, there is a "coffeehouse conversation written by Hofstadter:
"Sandy: The way I see it, consciousness has to come from a precise pattern of organization—one that we have not yet figured out how to describe in any detailed way; but I believe we will gradually come to understand it. In my view, consciousness requires a certain way of mirroring the external universe internally and the ability to respond to that external reality on the basis of the internally represented model. And then, in addition, what's really crucial for a conscious machine is that it should incorporate a well-developed and flexible self-model."
In my opinion, any study of "consciousness" should include "The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind" by Julian Jaynes, "The Psychology of Man's Possible Evolution" by P. D. Ouspensky, and "The Gay Science" by Friedrich Nietzsche.
The ability of consciousness to be conscious of how it is being conscious; meta-consciousness; being conscious of the consciousness of others; consciousness of the mindsets and paradigms that underlie the consciousness of others; awareness of the psychological and manifest consequences of the use of words on others.
The danger of the direct questioning of the subject about the subject and of all self-reflection of the intellect lies in this—that it could be useful and important for one's activity to interpret oneself falsely. - Friedrich Nietzsche ("The Will to Power")
We must consider the possibility that our survival, until recently (in evolutionary terms), may have depended on deceiving ourselves to a certain extent. In the "jungle" wehre we evolved, survival may have depended on making isntant decisions based on crude approximations. Maybe these deceptoins no longer serve us in the world we now live in. And we have both the time and the safety to reflect...and maybe we need to question all we "know" about ourselves—including notions like "I," "me," and "ego."
The ability of consciousness to be conscious of the real or imagined "self" that is being conscious; meta-self-consciousness; the ability to consciously, deliberately, and flexibly choose appropriate "selves" to be, and mindsets and paradigms to adopt; awareness of the psychological and manifest consequences of the use of words on oneself.
I have personally witnessed people going through a personal transformation upon leaning a foreign language simply because the new language contains symbols that enable them to communicate and bring alive new experiences. I have a very dear friend who speaks Italian and French fluently in addition to English, which is her native language. When we travel in Europe together, I enjoy watching her personality shift as she switches languages. When I pointed this out she asked, "Which one of me do you like the most?" I replied unhesitatingly, "The Italian version, for in this model, you are the most passionate and alive..." - Stewart Emery ("The Owner's Manual For Your Life")
If awareness of object is the beginning of consciousness, then awareness of symbol as symbol is the beginning of reflective and self-reflective consciousness. Awareness of concept as an intermediary between object and symbol would be a further "level" of consciousness; and awareness of the context which encompasses all of object, concept, symbol, communication, behavior, and result would be a higher "level" of conscious-ness still. There is a kind of hierarchy here:
So what? Let me suggest that you read A. E. Van Vogt's "The World of Null-A" and "The Players/Pawns of Null-A."
Consciousness is the last and latest development of the organic and, hence, also what is most unfinished and unstrong. Consciousness gives rise to countless errors that lead an animal or man to perish sooner than is necessary...if the conserving association of the instincts were not so very much more powerful, and if it did not serve, on the whole, as a regulator, humanity would have to perish of its misjudgments and its fantasies with open eyes, of its lack of thoroughness and its credulity—in short, of its consciousness; rather, without the former, humanity would long have disappeared.
Before a function is fully developed and mature, it constitutes a danger to the organism, and it is good if, during the interval, it is subjected to tyranny. Thus, consciousness is tyrannized—not at least by our pride in it. One thinks that it constitutes the kernel of man; what is abiding, eternal, ultimate, and most original in him. One regards consciousness as having a fixed magnitude. One denies its growth and its intermittences. One takes it for the "unity of the organism."
This ridiculous overestimation and misunderstanding of consciousness has the very useful consequence that it prevents an all-too-fast development of consciousness. Believing that they possess consciousness, men have not exerted themselves very much to acquire it; and things haven't changed much in this respect. To this day, the task of incorporating knowledge and making it instinctive is only beginning to dawn on the human eye and is not yet clearly discernible; it is a task that is seen only by those who have comprehended that, so far, we have incorporated only our errors and that all our consciousness relates to errors. Friedrich Nietzsche ("The Gay Science")
NOTES ON CONSCOIUSNESS:
(A) "The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind" (Julian Jaynes)
(B) "In Search of the Miraculous" (P. D. Ouspensky)
Having just completed a study of the above two books, and having pondered a great deal about the subject of consciousness, and having had certain experiences concerning my own relative unconsciousness, I have formed some speculative conclusions:
(A) Levels of consciousness:
See, also, the levels of consciousness as postulated by Timothy Leary ("Neuropolitics" and "Exo-Psychology") and John Lilly ("The Center of the Cyclone").
In my opinion, all such attempts to demarcate or categorize "levels of consciousness" are somewhat arbitrary. Many "dimensions" of consciousness could be described, each "dimension" relating to some aspect of conscious-ness and being "subdivisible" into further "levels."
(B) Fallacies concerning consciousness (according to Jaynes):
In my opinion, Jaynes clearly refutes all the above false notions about consciousness.
(C) Gurdjieff (whose "system" is outlined in the above Ouspensky book) claimed that our "normal waking state" was a condition of being asleep. Recently, it has become very obvious to me that I have been spending most of my "waking hours" in a condition of relative unconsciousness. Gurdjieff claims that most humans are asleep most of the time; that their "thinking" and behavior are mechanical and unconscious; and that the biggest barrier to their becoming conscious is that they suffer from the fantastic notion that they are already conscious.
(D) Jaynes claims that consciousness is generated by language and meta-phor. We understand something (and are conscious of it) when we "see" its similarity to something else and can express this similarity as a metaphor (or an analog) using language. Understanding is a feeling of familiarity. According to Jaynes, consciousness has the following features:
Now, my question: How many humans are aware of, and capable of, examining the above features or processes within themselves? How many humans can control and direct the above processes? Can a human organism be said to be conscious if these processes occur within it in an automatic, mechanical, and robotic fashion? Can these processes be programmed into a computer, and would that make the computer conscious?
(E) How should we describe or define consciousness?
(F) What if Jaynes was mistaken and Gurdjieff, more accurate? Has human consciousness originated yet, except ephemerally and partially in the case of a few very special individuals?
(G) And if you are convinced that you are already conscious, I wish you
I had the sense that this was the fundamental reality and that reality had a universal mouth to tell me so; no sense of divinity, of communion, of the brotherhood of man, of anything I had expected before I became suggestible. No pantheism, no humanism. But something much wider, cooler, and more abstruse. The reality was endless interaction. No good, no evil; no beauty, no ugliness. No sympathy, no antipathy. But simply interaction. The endless solitude of the one, its total enislement from all else, seemed the same thing as the total inter-relationship of all. All opposites seemed one, because each was indispensable to each. The indifference and the indispensability of all seemed one. I suddenly knew—but in a new, hitherto unexper-ienced sense of knowing—that all else exists. [Occurs?] - John Fowles ("The Magus")
OTHER IMPORTANT BOOKS ON CONSCIOUSNESS:
|Beck, Aaron||"Cognitive Therapy and the Emotional Disorders"|
|Ferrucci, Piero||"What We May Be: The Visions and Techniques of Psychosynthesis"|
|Harding, M. Esther||"The I and the Not-I"|
|Leary, Timothy||"Exo-Psychology" and "Neuropolitics"|
|Lilly, John||"The Center of the Cyclone"|
|Nietzsche, Friedrich||"The Gay Science"|
|Ornstein, Robert||"The Psychology of Consciousness"|
|Ouspensky, P. D.||"The Psychology of Man's Possible Evolution"|
PROTEST: A being-orientation or context, characterized by a loss or lessening of consciousness, in which emotions like fear, anger, rejection, disgust, hostility, resistance, fury, horror, hatred, helplessness, hopelessness, and futility occur; a physiological energy state of the body associated with a real or imagined threat to will-to-power, which facilitates the occurrence of involuntary (offensive and defensive) reactive emotions; an expression or declaration of objection, disapproval, or dissent, often in opposition to something a person is powerless to prevent or avoid; an involuntary "fight/flight" reaction to an event or situation one is unwilling to accept; a physiological concomitant of failed will-to-power, characterized in its extreme manifestations by disturbed metabolism (of both food and information), infantile tantrums and insomnia; a debilitating and immobilizing mental and emotional state, characterized by conflict and depression; the inversion of decision.
Very few are clear as to what the standpoint of desirability, every "thus it should be but is not" or even "thus it should have been," comprises: A condemnation of the total course of things. For, in this course, nothing exists in isolation: The smallest things bear the greatest, upon your little wrongful act stands the entire structure of the future, every critique of the smallest thing also condemns the whole. [If] the moral norm...has never been completely fulfilled and remains suspended over actuality as a kind of beyond without ever falling down into it, then morality would contain a judgment concerning the whole which, however, still permits the question: Whence does it derive the right to this judgment? How does the part come to sit as judge over the whole?
And if this moral judging and dissatisfaction with actuality were, in fact, an eradicable instinct, might this instinct not be one of the ineradicable stupidities and immodesties of our species?
But in saying this, we do that which we censure; the standpoint of desirability, of unauthorized playing-the-judge, is part of the character of the course of things, as is every injustice and imperfection—it is precisely our concept of "perfection" which is never satisfied. Every drive that desires to be satisfied expresses its dissatisfaction with the present state of things: What? Is the whole perhaps composed of dissatisfied parts, which all have "Desiderata" in their heads? Is the "course of things" perhaps precisely this "away from here? Away from actuality!" Eternal dissatisfaction itself? Is desirability perhaps the driving force itself? - Friedrich Nietzsche ("The Will to Power")
Weighty food for thought?
My formula for greatness in a human being is "amor fati" [love of fate]: That one wants nothing to be other than it is, not in the future, not in the past, not in all eternity. Not merely to endure that which happens of necessity, still less to dissemble it—all idealism is untruthfulness in the face of necessity—but to love it... - Friedrich Nietzsche ("Ecce Homo")
Maybe we should cultivate a conscious, loving desire for the future that contains no protest against the present? Maybe we should respect the present as perfect, because the perfect way to the perfect future has to start from here?
Observing and becoming aware of the extent to which your thinking, communication, and behavior comes out of a context of protest is a major step on the road to quality; many of our religious, political, and economic philosophies have been founded from a perspective of protest (and inversion and deception); the consequences are destructive.
But maybe life itself is a form of "protest" against the "running down of the universe"? Can there be "creative protest" and "destructive protest"? If so, how could one distinguish between the two?
Be all that as it may, in general, you will find that protest is a holdcept, or very easily becomes one. And, on the contrary, you will find that every jumpcept involves a "becoming more conscious." And "meta" is the key to greater consciousness: "Stepping beyond."
Finally, and most important, if you assume that you are already fully conscious, does this not close you off from potentially greater awareness? On the other hand, if you operate on the assumption: "I can always become more conscious," does this not open the door to greater consciousness? And—is this not another way of saying: "I live my life out of a context of questions rather than being stuck in my holdcepts forever"?
POINTS TO REMEMBER:
(A) There are many aspects of consciousness.
(B) "Unconsciousness hides itself": If you are unconscious of something, you also tend to be unconscious of your unconsciousness.
(C) A well-developed and flexible self-model is a crucial element of consciousness.
(D) Reflective consciousness and self-reflective consciousness.
(E) Because of self-deception, self-reflection may be necessary and, because of self-deception, self-reflection might be dangerous!
(F) Language shapes consciousness.
(G) Consciousness, in evolutionary terms, is a recent development, still in its infancy; hence, prone to error.
(H) Some fallacies concerning consciousness (according to Jaynes): That consciousness is continuous, or a record of experience, or necessary for concept formation, learning, thinking, or reason; and that consciousness has a specific location.
(I) Some features of consciousness (according to Jaynes): Spatialization, excerption, analog "I," metaphor "me," narratization, and conciliation.
(J) Gurdjieff's idea that our "normal waking" state is, in fact, a condition of being asleep.
(K) A possible "other way of knowing."
(L) The meaning of protest.
(M) Nietzsche's answer to protest: "amor fati."
(N) "Becoming more conscious" is the jumpcept that includes all jumpcepts: The "meta-jumpcept."
(O) If you operate from the assumption "I am relatively unconscious and I want to become more conscious" then you open the door to potential jumpcepts; if you regard yourself as already fully conscious, you have locked the door to greater awareness.
(P) This is another way of saying: Living your life out of a context of questions rather than being stuck in your holdcepts.
(A) Can you list some aspects of consciousness?
(B) "Unconsciousness hides itself": If you are unconscious of something, you also tend to be unconscious of your unconsciousness-—hat do you think of this assertion?
(C) Why do you think that a "well-developed flexible self-model" might be a crucial element of consciousness?
(D) What is reflective consciousness?
(E) What is self-reflective consciousness?
(F) Do you think there is a need for self-reflection? Or is it too dangerous?
(G) How does language influence consciousness?
(H) Consciousness, in evolutionary terms, is a recent development, still in its infancy; hence, prone to error—do you agree? Do you think this might apply to you?
(I) What do you think of Jaynes's fallacies of consciousness: That consciousness is continuous; or a record of experience, or necessary for concept formation, learning, thinking, or reasoning; and that consciousness has a specific location?
(J) Can you describe the features of conscoiusness according to Jaynes? What do you think are the features of consciousness?
(K) What do you think of Gurdjieff's idea that our "normal waking" state is, in fact, a condition of being asleep?
(L) "Another way of knowing," according to Fowles—mystical nonsense or otherwise?
(M) What is the meaning of protest?
(N) What do you think about "amor fati"?
(O) "Becoming more conscious" is the jumpcept that includes all jumpcepts: The "meta-jumpcept"—what do you think?
(P) If you operate from the assumption "I am relatively unconscious, and I want to become more conscious," do you then open the door to potential jumpcepts? If you regard yourself as already fully conscious, have you locked the door to greater awareness?
(Q) Is this another way of saying: Living your life out of a context of questions rather than being stuck in your holdcepts?
(R) What is your overall opinion of this book, now?
"AS" Publications, P. O. Box 149, B-1930 Zaventem 1, Belgium