Musings

I often have ideas, questions, mini-Aha!s, and comments I want to share but don’t because it would mean interrupting a thread or starting a new one. (I reckon this is true for most of us?) So I’ma use this thread as my repository of musings. Everyone’s invited to join in or blissfully ignore, your choice. :slight_smile:

I’ll start with a question about Kant’s noumena:

By definition, noumena are “posited objects or events that exist independently of human sense and/or perception.” This reminds me quite a bit of the definition of brahman.

The ‘proof’ that brahman actually exists is said to be in the infallible scriptures, authored not by man but Ishvara (God) himself.

But there is (afaik!) no such claim for noumena. Und so:

Is it possible to know know whether noumena actually exist? How?

Merci!

The proof is the logical argument (unless you can show that it is somehow not sound or valid)
Books/scripture are proof only that someone wrote something.

  1. What is the logical argument for the existence of noumena?

  2. In the case of the Hindu scriptures, it was not just ‘someone’ who wrote (delivered, presented) them, it was The Big Guy himself! If you accept that this is true and that Ishvara is infallible, well …

Sorry - I have zero experience of Kant (or most other philosophers) - doesn’t he explain himself?
But if pushed I would probably start with : Our experience is not solely based on itself. Thus whatever is outside the set of Pure Independant Idealism (even if said set [PII] = 0) has some sort of existence.

If we accept that, we are forced to accept all batshit claims for no reason.

Rick, this is an interesting question, but there is a danger that the way you have posed it will feel to others as if it is a purely theoretical question that has no relationship to what Krishnamurti’s teachings are about.

So perhaps, before I respond more specifically to your question, we could begin with Krishnamurti’s general approach to this kind of question?

By Kant’s noumena - or ‘Thing-in-Itself’ - I take it that you are also referring to what Krishnamurti and Bohm called ‘the ground’? (although, of course, whether these terms really mean something similar depends on how one understands what is meant by these words).

But if we do take noumena to equal ‘ground’, then we might say that Krishnamurti did have some relevant things to say about it, but that his approach was less speculative and more practical than Kant’s (or Schopenhauer’s).

That is, for K the ‘ground’ can only be, or show itself, when the self is not:

Suppose you say this ground exists, as I said the other day…. How would one discover or find out or touch it—if the ground exists at all? … The ground has certain demands, which are there must be absolute silence, absolute emptiness, which means no sense of egotism in any form, right? Would you tell me that? Am I willing to let go all my egotism, because I want to prove it, I want to show it, I want to find out if what you are saying is actually true? So am I willing to say, “Look, complete eradication of the self”? Would all of us, ten of us, be willing to do that?” (Chapter 3, The Ending of Time)

Ok, now that I have suggested what Krishnamurti’s answer to your question might have been, what about Kant (and Schopenhauer) more specifically?

For Kant there is no possibility of ever knowing the thing-in-itself.

We experience a world of objects - which make up the world of phenomenal appearances - but we cannot (in Kent’s view) know what underlies the phenomena.

And yet the very word (or concept) “appearance” is parasitic upon the notion of a reality which is the “ground” of that appearance. That is, an appearance is conceptually indivisible from something - however indeterminate - that itself ‘appears’. Otherwise nothing would be presented to us in experience; no world of appearances would ‘appear’. So the very concept of an ‘appearance’ implies a ‘ground’ that makes that appearance possible.

Another words, for Kant, the whole idea of noumena is simply a “boundary concept” that sets clear limits on what we are capable of perceiving and knowing (through our sensible forms of intuition, and through our understanding in Kant’s technical language). The noumena is merely a bare recognition that for any empirical ‘appearance’ there must be, by definition, an ontological ‘ground’ that makes the appearance possible.

This is all Kant means by noumena.

However, Schopenhauer, who was greatly influenced by Kant, and agreed with him on many points, argued that we can know the noumena (or ‘thing-in-itself’).

To explain Schopenhauer’s point as clearly as I can I will slightly change some of the language he himself used (without, I hope, distorting the meaning he intended).

Schopenhauer said (like Kant) that we experience the world in terms of our empirical forms of sensible intuition (time and space), together with the perceptual understanding that makes sense of our sensations, synthesising them into a coherent representation of the world.

However, unlike Kant, Schopenhauer drew attention to the fact that all our experiences are framed in terms of their subject-object structure. There is no object (in experience) without a subject, and no subject without an object; so subject and object are mutually reinforcing terms which cannot be separated.

Schopenhauer had the insight to see that this means that because the noumenal ‘ground’ must lie completely outside the field of phenomenal appearances, it cannot be an object!

So if the noumenal ‘ground’ is not to be found in the subject’s form of knowing or in the ‘object side’ of experience, then it might instead be found in the very experience we already have of the world when perceived from a completely novel point of view: this experience being that of our own brain when regarded in its utmost (and ultimately non-dual) immediacy.

That is to say: for Schopenhauer, the only phenomenal appearance in the world that is given to us as both a subject and an object is that of ourselves! - or more precisely, that of our own brain (and nervous system).

This is because our brain (and nervous-system) is presented to us both in the third person (as a body existing in space and time), and as our own first-person experience of consciousness.

So what is true of ordinary objects in the world, can also be said ourselves - with the difference that we have an immediate access to the object we call our ‘brain’ (with its nervous system).

But the only way of ultimately accessing this non-dual immediacy of our own consciousness (or brain), for Schopenhauer, was through an attitude of complete self-abandonment, which he termed “the denial of the will” and directly equated with what Buddhists call nirvana.

So for Schopenhauer, the noumenal can be encountered, but only through the complete negation of the knower. Yet without a knower-known structure of experience, the very notion of having knowledge of the noumenal ground becomes an impossibility also - which is why Schopenhauer only described this encounter with the noumenal as a relative nothingness. It is, strictly speaking, unknowable.

Yet, expressed positively, this nothingness - a “state which is experienced by all who have attained to complete denial of the will" can be “denoted by the names ecstasy, rapture, illumination”.

So you can see that for both Krishnamurti and Schopenhauer, the ground can only have meaning for the person who has completely abandoned the self, the ego. That is the ground of the ground, as it were.

Btw, apologies for the various grammatical errors and spelling mistakes in my reply - I was writing in haste :nerd_face:

If any of what I’ve written is unintelligible, I will do my best to explain - but I think (or hope) that the overall gist is clear.

For both Kant and Schopenhauer (as well as K), the noumena or ground is really unknowable (and so is really a complete nothingness from the point of view of knowledge). It is neither subject nor object. Neither the knower or the known.

And yet, for both Schopenhauer and K, this ground can be positively encountered: but only when the subject-object relationship - or the knower-known gestalt - is punctured (or dissolved) through insight. An insight that is synonymous with the cessation of self.

Appearance implies something appears, is seen/heard/felt, got it. If we were talking about a seeing/hearing/feeling that had no underlying existent that is seen/heard/felt, we’d use a different word, hallucination perhaps. Agree?

Aha! But what about a ‘pure’ hallucination, what’s the ontological ground for it, brain activity?

I’ll stop here and respond to the Schopenhauer part when I’ve sufficiently understood it.

Thanks for the distillation, it’s helpful. But I’m not sure what “positively encountered” means.

Seeing, hearing, feeling all presuppose a physical organism as the basis for those perceptions.

While an (a?) hallucination presupposes both a brain in which the hallucination occurs, and a world of phenomenal objects in which an experience has been stored (as memory) - which is then reproduced in a distorted form as an imaginative projection (onto the external world).

I don’t know what is meant by a “pure” hallucination? But yes, any hallucination I would understand as being grounded in brain activity.

If I articulated the situation clearly, for Schopenhauer (and Kant) the only way of conceiving the noumena or ground is in wholly negative terms - because all our thinking relativises it and reduces it to what we can actually know (i.e. in term of time and space, cause and effect, size and weight, substance and property, unity and multiplicity, whole and parts, etc). The ground is neither a subject nor an object, and so cannot be an object of knowledge related to a subject that ‘knows’ things about it. In Buddhist terms, it is empty. In Schopenhauerian terms, it is a “relative nothingness”. It resists all positive determination or description. It is nirguna, unconditioned, outside the perceptual limits (of space and time) imposed by our brain and nervous system.

And yet… according to K, the unmanifest can reveal itself in the mind of a person who has - at least momentarily - wholly ceased all self-centred, thought-based activity. So ‘through the negative, the positive comes’ (you asked about what a positive encounter means).

But K stipulated (and Schopenhauer would have agreed with him) that there must be

for the ground have any actual (positive) meaning.

Otherwise it is just a word, or at best a “boundary concept” that helps us to understand the limits of what we can know through animal perception and thought.

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I am using pure hallucination to describe an appearance that has no mind-independent referent. (I guess hallucination would suffice, but I added pure to try to make the ‘no referent’ part clearer.)

Are you suggesting (or are they suggesting) that the ground can be experienced?

Question of the morning:

Do ‘processes’ exist independent of thought?

Take for example the process of the life cycle of an organism: from birth, through lifetime, to death.

Does this life cycle exist only in the mind of a thinker?

I find this language rather difficult to understand. Perhaps it is just me, but you seem to be using these words in such a way that their natural meaning is obscured.

An hallucination is a mind-dependent appearance.

But the hallucination takes place in a brain which has not been put together by the particular mind that is hallucinating (i.e. the brain has evolved through millions of years of natural growth, biology, chemistry, physics, etc).

And all hallucinations have some kind of content. The content is a projection of previous experience that has been stored up in a particular brain. And previous experience requires a world of objects that have at least some relative independence from the particular brain registering them.

So I don’t understand your contention (if this is what you are suggesting) that a subjective hallucination can be completely free of any objective implications.

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Are you asking whether my world view (regarding x) - which is a model produced by thought, is thought - exists absent the the thinker/thoughts?
Or Whether my thoughts/projections accurately model the noumenon they represent?
Or Whether anything exists absent the projector and its projections?

Isn’t this the same question you were raising before, in relation to what you were calling “pure hallucinations”?

The implication of both questions seems to be that - in your view (although you don’t say this explicitly) - there is no mind-independent world process at all, and that a wholly subjective projection or hallucination of a world is possible without any objective reference point.

It would be good to discuss this plainly if this is what you are suggesting.

Yet in addition to this - as though to make the matter even more complicated! - by using the word “thought” to mean also sentience, consciousness, awareness and sense perception - an issue that I think you will agree we have already discussed several times - we are in danger of confusing the nature of thought with the nature of general perception (thought being essentially a re-presentation of an original presentation made in perception).

If we are not clear with our language, we are liable to create problems where there may be none, and fail to address to the problems that are already on the table.

So, all that being said, maybe we can address your question in its essence (stripped of your particular usage of the word “thought”):

Processes such as the universe.

Of course, it depends on whether by mind or the subject (I am not using the word “thought”, because this is confusing for the reasons already given) we mean a particular ‘mind’, a particular ‘subject’, or else a kind of universal mind that might be thought to be dreaming (or ‘hallucinating’) - or meditating - a universe.

So what kind of ‘mind’ are you referring to?

I’m wondering whether processes (discrete-appearing series of causally related events) exist when no observer is present. If Sisyphus is taking a nap (for a job well done!) and his boulder rolls down the hill, did the ‘boulder rolling down hill’ process happen? Or is this ‘process’ just the mind connecting dots that aren’t really connected?

It seems then that you are also asking the first question (which you NEINed)

Namely : Does my world view exist when it does not?

and maybe the second NEINed question too, namely : Is reality as I project it to be?

If you can clearly determine what you are asking - and why (what presuppostions are at the base of the question) - the whole issue will become clearer IMO.

I don’t really have a view, at least not a firm one, I’m open to finding out.

Do ‘processes’ exist independent of mind?

A mind that is capable of understanding what the concept ‘process’ points to, a series of causally related events that has a relatively^ distinct beginning and end. The rolling of a boulder down a hill, for example.

^ You could argue (validly imo!) that processes have no true beginning or end, that they are all ‘part of’ The Eternal Totality Process. But for clarity let’s assume for now they are temporally bounded.

Any of these work better for you:

Do ‘processes’ exist independent of mind?

Do ‘processes’ exist independent of a mind capable of understanding what ‘process’ points to?

Does the term ‘process’ point to any mind-independent existent?

Does a series of causally related events that unfolds over time EXIST, as say a ‘movement in time?’ Or is it just the mind connecting dots, as it connects stars in space to form constellations?

I think it is more useful to attend to the place the question is coming from.

For example, answers such as Yes or No to any one of these questions :

Are next to useless No?

To see clearly we must understand what the confusion (presumptions, conflict of presumptions, etc ) is.

Which is why so much time is spent defining terms (which is only the first step - which we rarely manage to do) - a second step is being able to see the relation of the questioner to their beliefs and the effects of those beliefs on the questioner and their question. - its tricky.

PS. We can think of this as a process : step one, step 2 - or cause and effect, or not

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