June 13, 2006

McTaggart, Buber, Swartz and Sri Aurobindo

McTaggart and Neurophenomenology
How to relieve an Angst-ridden world of the problems of McTaggart
Following our previous blog, we do want to relieve everyone of the Angst that McTaggart's ideas seem ineluctably to lead to, just as Einstein relieved the world of Buber's Angst, and in an earlier blog we mentioned that a sort of 'precognition' might be definable in terms of our new and less Angst-ridden description of physics.
Now 'precognition' or if we want to call it that 'presentiment' is a very popular (or populist) notion but one that is, for very good reasons a notion which is almost anathema to current highly respectable physics literature (Note 1), though not to the philosophy literature to the same extent. Precognition served as a useful tool for Swartz in his comments on Kant. So does precognition fit neatly into our program, or perhaps more to the point, can the concept of precognition enlighten us as to the possible direction of any programme? Can precognition at least serve as a torchbearer during a relay on the long road to enlightenment?
As I mentioned in the last blog, Paul Churchland (1985) pointed out that, for instance, precognition is occasionally cited in favor of dualism. Now today when we think of dualism we may want to cast the net somewhat wider than that if we can, and indeed the obvious approach to consider may well be the reflexive model of Velmans (2000,2006), and that or something like that seems worth considering. In the sections below we attempt to follows Velmans's approach.
As Velmans (2006) points out cogently, ideas like his about the spatially extended nature of the experienced phenomenal world "fit in with common sense and common experience and they will come as no surprise to those versed in European phenomenology have have many theoretical antecedents ...for example in the work of Berkeley, Kant, and Whitehead, the neutral monism of James, Mach, and Russell, and the scientific writings of Köhler and Pribram"....
As Velmans points out on page 278, 'if all humans were removed from the earth, only a mechanical earth without consciousness would remain'. It is essential that an earth with humans should have a different description to an earth with humans, or the physics would be wrong. We could of course generalise the above statement, if we needed to refer to 'an earth without life in any form'.
So we certainly include factors here which should make the physics better than simple Einsteinian physics, include human beings and sort out MacTaggart's paradox. That is not to say that we have gone far enough yet but it looks like a fairer starting model than we presently have with the efforts of Einstein and more contemporary thinkers. Velmans ends his book by fairly quoting an apothegm of Jung "man is indispensable for the completion of creation - in fact he is the second creator of the world, who has given the world its objective existence" and we know that Velmans's basic ideas tend to agree with those of Sri Aurobindo (p167).
Crucially, unlike the variants of physicalism and functionalism defended by Torrance, Van Gulick, and Chrisley & Sloman, the dual-aspect theory of Velmans also conforms closely to the evidence of first-person experience and it thus suits the present category-theoretic formalism.
Churchland P., (1985) Matter and Consciousness: A Contemporary Introduction to the Philosophy of Mind, The MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1985;
Velmans, M. (2000) Understanding Consciousness, London: Routledge/ Psychology Press.
posted by uv at 4:44 AM ttj Tuesday, June 13, 2006

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