Tuesday, February 24, 2015
Waking, Being, Dreaming, chapter ten
Continuing from this post:
The self is neither identical with nor separate from the five aggregates. The latter are body, feeling, perception, will and consciousness. Hence consciousness per se is not the foundation for the self or the universe at large. Thompson's enactive view of the self, which he bases on his interpretation of Nagarjuna, does not see it as an eternal essence but as dependently arisen and contingent, yet not reducible to the ephemerally fluctuating aggregates. It is “a self-specifying system,” a “collection of processes that mutually specify each other so that they constitute the system as a self-perpetuating whole in relation to the environment” (325). Here we see the sort of dynamic systems autonomy Bryant or Varela discusses. However I would qualify that this system is in relation to an environment, not the environment, since per OOO and other contemporary ontologists there is no one overriding and self-same environment that itself inherently exists (aka the assholon). A system selectively responds to those things or processes which promote or debilitate it, so out of any number of possible things or processes outside its boundaries only those selections are in its enactive environment.
I'm reminded of Wilber saying here that the basic structures (aggregates) are not the self. The latter can identify with these structures but said structures “either emerge or they don't,” more or less intact, in themselves not broken or dysfunctional (23). The self integrates the basic structures as well as the states, much like the above definition of an autonomous system. The difference though is that in another context from the same article Wilber sees the levels of basic structures as levels of consciousness (5), which is itself one of the aggregates. And the self itself goes through the same basic, structural levels of consciousness. The metaphysics of consciousness sneaks in.
Consciousness though as but one of the aggregates means awareness of the presence of something selected from the system's internal or external environment. It would be more of an access consciousness than merely phenomenal consciousness. The former depends on the latter, yet exceeds it via an emergent level beyond. In that sense then more basic or pre-access awarenesses are not levels of this sort of consciousness but distinctly different aggregates. This access consciousness, while the most complex emergence among the aggregates, is not the be all and end of awareness, let alone of the ontic. And it is not the self-system, which integrates all the aggregates within its autonomy. Again, the integral is not so much a level but an integrated autonomy. In that sense then any autonomous system is integral, even if not all that complex.
To be continued.