Second of six parts to the article as it steps towards its completion.
3 The subjective aspects of our reality
The self is difficult to determine. “Who or what am I?” How does one refer to one’s self?
Even as words, sentences that refer to themselves or “self-reference” create in many cases confusion in our minds, recognised in philosophy as a “self-referential paradox”. Think about “This statement is false, true or false?” It sort of doesn’t go anywhere but leaves one suspended or waiting for some conclusion, some resolution, as if that is expected in a sentence. It is a commonly used example of the paradox where the question cannot be answered in its terms of true or false because the sentence cannot be true when it says it is false and if false the sentence must mean it is true but says it is not. The contradiction and irresolution in the statement itself intensifies and prolongs the self-referencing and its paradox.
More so the question “What is the self?”, one’s self itself. It brings self-referencing directly back to us, towards one’s actual self, to a “self-referencing conundrum” (https://realityhc. wordpress.com/?s= self+referencing+conundrum), which comes of us being in the “apparatus for having an experience”. In this make-up and condition for having an experience, trying to directly experience one’s self is like a camera trying to take a picture of itself (with “exposures” of itself). We cannot bend the “apparatus for having an experience” to experience our “having an experience” self.
We risk loosing our “self” trying to experience the experiencing self. Rather than thus extinguishing our self we must distinguish and firmly grasp the objective and subjective ends of our “having an experience” reality, to not chase the other end of the “apparatus” like a dog its own tail in self-referencing. The self tells the tale and hears, the dog wagging the tail is tickled by the tale wagging. Where is the self? Within our reality (of conscious experience and self) are parts including our sense of being and doing, inside and outside, subject and object.
The objective is the “easy” aspect to explain and understand as produced by the brain – Chalmers 1986, Australian philosopher. Vision from eyes and all experiences from aspects of Reality according to the whole self’s sense organs (projected for us to experience, by our whole through the CNS) belong to this group, as the object of “having an experience”. But also included are functions of the mind, including determining, remembering, filing, retrieving and analysing, that can be broken down to linear mechanical or computational processes, “easily” attributed to the brain that is computer-like, at least in part.
The subjective aspects on the other hand, include the self, consciousness, the experience itself (“raw” experience or qualia, different from what is experienced or determined what of experience, which is the object of experience, and which we may know), deeper being, and the witness. Their existence and nature are “hard” to accept as produced by the brain or anything else, with our independence, will etc. as questioned previously (from bottom p1). The subjective seem also impossible to experience or determine directly, the result of trying to being the “self-referencing conundrum”. In contrast to the “easy” and objective they, the subjective parts to our reality, are termed the “hard aspects of conscious experience” by Chalmers.
He, Chalmers, suggests we consider the subjective aspects of our reality as fundamental (i.e., irreducible) to help find new ways of considering them. Any new approach to our subjective part must be different from the linear reductive way we try to grasp things in our minds normally, which we consider “direct” and which keeps our enquiry and discovery to objective things and computer-like processes in our reality, while never addressing the subjective them-selves except as concept.
The development of AI (artificial intelligence) has moved the boundary between the subjective and objective in our reality to a great degree, objectifying so much of our mental functioning that are computer-like, though previously thought of as cognitive, creative, communicative (ripe to be connective and to love and demand the technologies that allow it), clever and human. This encroachment creates a new impetus and interest to the age old question, “What is it to be human?” (Note 2 – AI and our humanity).
We could be in a computer. Programmed self and experience run in an app. However, we are a part and there “must” be a whole human being we belong to, in Reality. We can apply our self to our whole in our actuality, as a projected part in space. Furthering part and whole as an integrating part.
Notes 2 Just when through modernity, we got used to being the self, it now threatens to disappear into the mayhem of our technological inter-phase and “connectivity”. Around the net or in the screen, if we are just enacting and interacting in our human responses, we are hardly different from AI, especially with neural networking and its apparent creativity (“inventing” its own programmes).
What is it to be human? Who or what is the true self? Who’s in charge? Is there free will? These age old questions about our self and our place in the world, are brought to a new impetus with AI, and its encroachment on so much of human functioning. We look for human-ness today in terms of jobs that computers and computerised machines cannot do, as we consider employ-ability into the future.
To a large extent, our sense of existence and purpose depends on the world we experience. It reinforces and confirms our sense of being, and our identity and roles are determined according to what’s going on and who is there, as indicated in the apparent world we experience. Made from “aspects of Reality” that the whole self has sense organs for (see Note 1 above), indication of things in the real world take us to confusion, but also conviction.
We sit comfortably with the experience of things that fit familiarly within our world view (context) and understanding (causality). We are ready to scrutinise or verify what we experience, to question or determine what it is or is doing, weary of being tricked or being wrong in our assumptions, we keep a sceptic distance. When a thing does not fit our world view, we either adopt or develop a new context that can include the thing. Or we ignore it. (Luddites actively reject new technology and the changes they bring to our reality. We may ignore, or at least post-pone an update for fear of having to re-familiarise with a new program.)
Seeing gadgets such as an automaton (mechanical dolls) do quite complex things that seem life-like, can disturb if not confuse us, until we have them within our understanding. We are now all too familiar with and are readily sucked into the screen reality (we spend much time living, working and interacting in it). However, when moving pictures were first shown on a screen, people were unsettled as to its reality. A train, for example, disappearing off the edge of the screen is said to have made people get up from their seats to look behind the screen (like some cats do). Where did it go? Where does it come from? What about the one that’s coming straight for you that presses you into your seat, or the girl strapped to the railway track who’s struggles before the approaching train makes your heart pound, your palms sweat and grip? Our reality is easily mimicked with moving pictures and sound, and augmented with large screen, music, volume and a lounge seat, that prop our upright facing.
We live within story and sense as self and identity. Uncertain of what we experience, we are validated by and susceptible to occupational and diversional, meaningful and value-adding stories. We need to make our reality certain, but certainty for us has normally been a matter of perspective, verification with different senses, and context or story, within our reality and not from beyond.
The world we experience and its stories challenges and confirms, our sense and story. Our reality is both, subject and object. In our normal identification, in our self (subject) and with what we experience (object), we avoid the “self-referencing conundrum”, within the confinement and circularity of our reality being both subject and object. Beyond our identification and our certainty, is the mystery of our being a part, and the profundity of our transcendent whole, where our true humanity awaits us, as a part.
Lost are we from being a part of our human whole being who, being of Reality, is next to other wholes in Reality. And has their self or identity heard about being a part, of those whole in Reality? Would their self or identity see value in regarding their whole? Depends on their story, and certainly. However, our being a part, our whole self and Reality, are beyond story and what we experience, in them and through them.
We must approach our self before the choosing and choice of what to click, the determining and what is determined of friend or foe, right or wrong, good or bad, the computer-like processing and what it processes.
Let AI encroach upon our humanity. But do not depend on it, nor the world we experience, for our own sense of existence and purpose. The same set of “aspects of reality” that the whole self has sense organs for creates our experience of what is in the screen, but also of what’s on the streets or in nature. They are all experience projected by our whole in our reality. Be chased as to what is real and what is self, beyond our interactive choosing, determining and virtual act (our sense of doing what the whole does in Reality), take to our actuality, and to our relation with our whole (as a part).
link to Our reality and Reality 1/6 https://realityhc.wordpress.com/2018/05/22/our-reality-and-reality-1-6/