Monday, August 29, 2011

Privileged access revisited

I'd like to provide excerpts to the most recent posts in an IPS thread on privileged access, as they bring up for me an ongoing issue in many philosophical and spiritual investigations into “reality.”


I would like to return to the original questions regarding this subject....the concept of "introspective illusion." I ran across this idea while researching the idea of the "adaptive unconscious," while looking into that book, Blink!... The principle underlying the introspective illusion would appear to be precisely what I have been after with regard to the the philosophical concept of "privileged access."


Since we're talking about privileged access might behoove us to re-read this thread for context and respond within said context. Some excerpts from another thread:

Tom: “What would full consciousness look like if, as you say, it simply doesn't exist?”

I have no idea and question whether anyone could possible know that. I do know that to claim one has access to full consciousness has some serious implications that we've discussed in this thread.

Balder: “Are we talking about 'consciousness' as the necessary 'whole' or 'context' of any phenomenological event, or are we talking about consciousness as a subset of 'cognition' (within the context of cognitive neuroscience)?”


I think both. If we accept that conscious awareness is a subset of cognition—which includes the cognitive unconscious—is just the tip of an iceberg, with even the iceberg not capable of apprehending the “whole,” then that bears on claims to privileged access to some whole or full consciousness it itself.

One suggestion: Can consciousness be seen simultaneously as phenomenologically whole (1p) and as philosophically partial (3p, a subset of cognition)? (This relates to my comment about consciousness as 'multiple object' in this recent post).


Also from p. 4 of the QE thread, as we've covered some of this ground:

A couple of your [Tom's] qualifications clarified this for me:

Unity operates as a deep background factor...the deep implicit factor...the necessarily implied unity...

It makes sense as an implied unity or whole, but one that remains forever implied and never completely explicit in its totality. And all of which does not allow us to instantly teleport to the far reaches of the galaxy. Yes, we have in some sense a connection to the entire galaxy, but again, only implicitly and not in any 1-to-1 relation where I'm consciously aware of what's going on over there on the other side, say through ESP with my master mentors in the Sirius system. The latter is where it gets woo woo for me. Or to use a postmeta trope, where it starts to get all Deepak on me (i.e. deep ack).


Ha ha. Yes, my view of unity is that it's implicit, it's backdrop stuff. As in a hologram, unity can be accessed anywhere on the holographic plate---anywhere in any of my experiences, thoughts or feelings---because the partness of any and every part implies unity, and there can by definition be only one unity, so it's the same unity in every part.


Yes, that's beautifully put and that makes perfect sense to me. That's what I was trying to get at, actually, with the first part of my response to option 2: that a moment of knowing carries with it a felt unity and can be seen as a complex, folded field of relationships -- which, I agree, is a field of co-implication.  Last night, before I lost steam, I had been thinking about bringing in a few related words -- multiplicity, implicate, explicate -- which all turn around the word 'fold,' where fold seems to imply a unity-in-differentiation, a unity that is mutually implicit with differentiation and profusion of forms.

The reason I said 'felt' unity, and also questioned you about the 'everything' you were referring to, is because that knowing moment is a perspectival/situational enaction (situational knowing-in-action) and because other conscious moments of the 'same subject' -- or perspectives taken simultaneously or subsequently on the 'same subject,' say, by a neuroscientist or a psychologist -- can disclose 'knowings' which, while whole in themselves, are incommensurate with that original knowing (revealing aspects of the 'activity' of that holon -- part of the everything that can be attributed to the subject, at least if we take a meta-perspective and try to synthesize the multiple perspectives we can take on the holon -- that do not show up in the 'whole' of the original knowing being discussed).
The above paragraph has lots of qualifications and asides in it, so I hope it wasn't too cryptic or hard to follow. I'll come back to it if I've not been clear in getting my meaning across.


Balder, to partially answer your last question, that's why I suggested a re-read of this thread. kela covered some of this ground in that sure, we can consider our 1p awareness as a sort of "whole" in itself but such privileged access then spreads out to make 3p claims, often overlooking much of its hidden subtexts in 2p.


I'd forgotten he'd covered that, but yes, I believe I'm thinking along similar lines: description of 1p as "whole" is legitimate, but taking that to mean "privileged access" to The 3p Whole (e.g., the -- metaphysical -- totality of all 'knowables'), or just to things-in-themselves (e.g., ignoring intersubjectivity) is problematic. However, I do think Tom's point about the directness of knowledge in a quantum worldview is worth reflecting on in this context, since I don't think it implies the 'directness' addressed by the critique of privileged access, and since I think it may go some ways towards addressing the 'alienation' endemic to (and variously criticized in) dominant modern epistemological theories. (I think a similar perspective can be framed in 'integral postmetaphysical' terms -- which we've approached before, and which I'll attempt again, in a subsequent post).


One thing that hasn’t sit right with me is the assumption, as Tom put it, that “there can be by definition by only one unity, so it's the same unity in every part.” But it seems even in QM there is an alternative to a whole unity, for example this from the QM wiki:

“The Everett many-worlds interpretation, formulated in 1956, holds that all the possibilities described by quantum theory simultaneously occur in a multiverse composed of mostly independent parallel universes…. Everett's interpretation is perfectly consistent with John Bell's experiments and makes them intuitively understandable.”

Even if we don't get all QM technical with multiverses it seems the pluralistic enactment paradigms do not assume that it is the same underlying unity of for all part(ial) views, as if the unity were a given.


I think that's the right direction to go with this question, theurj. Most understandings either reduce unity into just partiality (absolutivity is an illusion), or eliminate partiality by reference to unity (relativity is an illusion). I prefer to have both present at once. Partiality, for me, is ineliminably true.


The other part of Tom's above quote:

As in a hologram, unity can be accessed anywhere on the holographic plate---anywhere in any of my experiences, thoughts or feelings.

I'm not so sure this is an apt metaphor, as I'm not so sure we have access to a unitive whole in any or every experience. It's one thing to say there is an implied or inferred background from which any contextual situation is framed, as we've done in many threads. And even that it might be “absolute” in a way, but not in an universal way. (Perhaps in a polydox multiverse sort of way?) So to retain that there is a literally universal unity from which all things spring seems still caught in a metaphysical given, as I think Tom even admitted as much in one post that I cannot find at present.

Most understandings either reduce unity into just partiality (absolutivity is an illusion), or eliminate partiality by reference to unity (relativity is an illusion). I prefer to have both present at once. Partiality, for me, is ineliminably true.

Again I agree with this sentiment and prefer both in relation as well, complementarity, as it were. I'm just questioning whether such a relation would necessitate defining the absolute in such a way, i.e., a version of privileged access “in any experience” such that it's the same, underlying unity in every case. I'm wondering how Balder squares this, given his homeomorphic equivalence (for example here)?

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