Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Engler continued

Reading further into Engler's chapter on the different kinds of self it struck me from the onticological perspective. That is, each suobject is indeed autonomous, a real and unique self like no other. And it is constructed and impermanent. Without inherent (metaphysical) self-existence it has real (both virtual and actual) existence nevertheless.

This is interesting. In discussing a non-dual state he said "the ego functions as a synthetic principle without organizing experience around a self" (58). This section also reminds me of Damasio's different selves and Thompson's use of that work. (See this post and several following, all relevant to this thread.)

On 63 Engler talks about the 8 jhanas (absorption) accessed via concentration. He doesn't say this will inevitable lead to the ideal ego and the ego ideal but it could. He then lists the other problems that may arise with this practice from a (or his?) Buddhist perspective: they are temporary states, in themselves they do not lead to liberation, they lack a moral grounding. Hence the other aspects of Buddhism to include such practice in a larger context, including insight meditation.

On 68 he talks about how we access no self via meditation, how we observe the actual process of constituting our self representation from moment to moment. Through this we see the self is not only constructed but requires continual reconstruction from one moment to the next via memory. This process, as I suggested, goes 'back' or 'deeper': "The nanas or 'stages of insight' in vipassana practice actually represent progressively earlier stages in the entire sequence of information processing, pattern recognition, and conceptualization by which we bring a self and a representational world into being each instant" (68).

This reminds me of the very first post in this thread, how Bergson sees memory reconstructing us continually, since our 'self' is not a fixed or enduring 'inherent' structure. I.e., per Bryant our thoughts arise and vanish immediately, and only through our endo-structural organization with its 'memory' do we reconstruct them time and again. There simply is not enough processing capacity in our CPUs to retain all those thoughts, feeling, etc. Our contingent endo-structure must continually renew itself to survive.

Though Bryant uses the terms of dynamic systems instead of Buddhist meditation. And where these two domains cross is in the work of Thompson. I'll address that later.

On 75 we begin to see the differences with something like Bryant's onticology and his critique of relationism. For Engler (and Buddhists generally) our dependent arising translates into "there is nothing more than the totality of our relation with everything else in this moment. They are no-thing apart from these relations" (75). Although directly after he notes that emptiness "cannot be known directly," only by knowing form. And it is here where there is a similarity to OOO's virtual realm, but the difference still depends (pun intended) on the relation of relations and autonomy. And how this expresses in Engler's Buddhist notion that no 'self' remains in this process, whereas indeed it does for onticology and dynamic systems.

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