This reference might also be relevant: First-Person Methodologies, particularly the first section, "Inside-Outside: The Misleading Divide."
I appreciate this paragraph from Varela and Shear:
"First, exploring first-person accounts is not the same as claiming that first-person accounts have some kind of privileged access to experience. No presumption of anything incorrigible, final, easy or apodictic about subjective phenomena needs to be made here, and to assume otherwise is to confuse the immediate character of the givenness of subjective phenomena with their mode of constitution and evaluation. Much wasted ink could have been saved by distinguishing the irreducibility of firstperson descriptions from their epistemic status."
Just a few more excerpts from Varela, touching on ground already covered here, but supportive anyway. And which still leaves for me the question of the leap from diving into the “subpersonal” to some degree and the connection with “the same unity” for every particular conscious awareness given the degree to which we cannot dive.
“The progress of cognitive science (as well as the development of psychoanalysis) has made familiar the idea that something might happen for a subject, and in that sense be subjective, but nevertheless not be accessible to this subject. We naturally describe such a case by saying that the subject is not conscious of the phenomenon in question. A distinction must therefore be introduced between conscious and non-conscious phenomena, or again between conscious and sub-personal subjectivity. The notion of consciousness itself is clearly meant primarily to designate the fact that the subject knows about, is informed about, or in other words is aware of, the phenomenon.
“It might be tempting to conflate the two concepts of phenomenal data and conscious subjectivity. But the notion of non-conscious or subpersonal phenomena argues against that move…[but] we need to put into question the assumption that the demarcation line between the strictly subpersonal and conscious are fixed and given once and forever. First-person methodologies include as a fundamental dimension the claim that this is a movable line, and much can be done with the intermediate zone” (3-4).
The comments by Varela in the last paragraph you quoted bear, I believe, on my own comments to kela regarding the 'trained attention' of (some) meditators: I also was suggesting that that 'line' between conscious and unconscious is moveable.
About the 'same unity' question: this reminds me of some of the territory we've explored in a number of ways regarding Wilber's discussion of subsisting and existing phenomena in his appendix on postmetaphysics. From this perspective, a person positing an 'underlying unity' might legitimately claim that such unity subsists in other (past, developmentally prior, or otherwise 'other') worldspaces, but not necessarily that it ex-ists (e.g., that 'the same unity' as the one you intend stands out for and is recognized by such individuals). In positing such subsistence, if we regard that move as acceptable, I would suggest that this is still not a 'view from nowhere,' but a situated and enacted meta-view: the speaker's perspective or 'frame' is still implicit in this claim. "From where I stand, it is appropriate to posit this universally for all, regardless of whether it is recognized or not" (e.g., all cats have atoms and cells, even if atoms and cells do not stand out or ex-ist in cats' worldspaces; all sentient beings have sense-experience, even if the notion of 'sense-experience' does not ex-ist for them; all mammals experience affect, even if the notion of 'emotion' does not ex-ist for most of them; etc.) But this is still "from where I stand" (enacting this meta-view).
Your post above is premised on a notion that consciousness has a size: compared with what remains, the little bit of conscious awareness, the awareness we have increases, a very small amount of conscious awareness ...
Can you tell me what you mean by giving consciousness a "size"? I see consciousness as inextended both spatially and temporally. I don't know what could be meant by sizing consciousness.
Conscious awareness has a size in that it is comparably smaller in scope than the cognitive unconscious. And I'm not suggesting that the latter is infinite in scope either. So I'm not understanding how this itty bitty piece of conscious awareness is infinite in scope, which seems to be your claim? Unless I'm misunderstanding?
See this post on quantum consciousness, wherein the author distinguishes between an effective and a fundamental theory. The former, like we’ve pointed out in this tread, might not be “true” in any empirical sense yet be useful, like the example of beings on other planes of existence referenced earlier. Fundamental theories like quantum mechanics are experimentally valid and the trouble happens when the effectors start using QM to support their arguments. He cites as an example the debate with Harris and Chopra, discussed on the forum here. (This can also happen though when experts in one field, say QM, extend their findings into philosophical realms wherein they are far less adept, perhaps even with the likes of Bohr and his philosophical speculations.)
He points out that Chopra’s claim that QM physicists agree, for example, that “all things in the universe are interconnected and that a conscious observer is necessary” is spurious. While some obviously do many do not, and that:
“It is not the mainstream belief. Most physicists believe that these fundamental quantum mechanical concepts break down on their own above a certain point, which Chopra seems to be completely unaware of. (The majority consensus among physicists is a principle called decoherence, where the quantum behaviors collapse when a system reaches a certain level of complexity ... so quantum principles just don't apply to systems larger than an atom or so.)”
QM seems hardly applicable to the entire universe, consciousness and everything. He goes on:
“Quantum consciousness"…is the idea that the mental processes of consciousness cannot be explained by normal information processing science. Instead, consciousness may actually be the product of information processed by quantum information theory, and mimic the operation of quantum computers. Two intriguing discussions of this subject are being carried out across the blogosphere - one on the Huffington Post by information theorist Ervin Laszlo and the other on NPR's 13.7 by biologist Stuart Kauffman. These discussions are much more precise, without quite the level of ‘woo-woo’ that Deepak Chopra goes into…. Since quantum consciousness is still such an early subject, everyone who talks about the subject is stepping a bit outside of their areas of certainty ... so it, too, will likely remain quite muddled as well. As Sam Harris points out when Chopra brings up Roger Penrose (one of the originators of the idea of quantum consciousness), the idea has more detractors than could fill the hall they're speaking in.”
I guess all the detractors, even within QM, must be classical physicists in drag unbeknownst to themselves, as they are not consciously aware of their philosophical underpinnings?
Also see this forum thread.
Another sample is this from the SEP entry on consciousness, the section on quantum theories. For example, would this excerpt be an example of privileged access to the nature of reality?
“Others have taken quantum mechanics to indicate that consciousness is an absolutely fundamental property of physical reality, one that needs to be brought in at the very most basic level (Stapp 1993).”
This goes to Balder’s questions about what privileged access entails, just a claim to privilege of one’s own consciousness and/or whether this leads to claims that such also provides “evidence” for the nature of reality, since consciousness IS that reality and I have access to it, here and now.
It seems to me that nobody knows what energy is. Before one can exclude that consciousness is fundamental (as energy is), don't you think we should get a grasp on what energy is? Care to take a stab to tell me? It's a complete mystery, so far as I can see, yet people use the word energy as if they have even a smidgen of an idea of what they mean. The same holds, in my opinion, for that common word matter, which people tend for some reason mysterious to me to differentiate from consciousness. What is matter? Oh it's energy. What is energy? Oh, it's matter ...
And to refresh some of kela's initial comments on p. 1 of this thread, to see if I'm keeping on track: