The Network—Sense Experience, Mind, Nature

Letter Response To Dr. Clifford’s Questions Continues

The aesthetic continuum (nature), as has been pointed out by Northrop, is both
determinate and indeterminate. This indeterminacy is encountered in
Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle. In the subatomic realm, we reach a
point at which one part or another of our picture of nature becomes
blurred. Here the inner structure of the atom is closed off to all
descriptive accounts. In the logic of physics this means that A or B,
in an AB system, can be determined with any desired precision, but a
conjunctive statement concerning A and B becomes imprecise. In fact,
for some physicists, a conjunctive statement concerning A and B
becomes completely meaningless.

In an attempt to clarify the above described situation, the
mathematician, John von Neumann, in his book The Mathematical
Foundations of Quantum Mechanics asked the question: “If a wave
function (Schrodinger wave equation) actually should describe
something in the real world, what would that something be like?” He
then answered that question when he said; it would be “…a strange
animal constantly changing with the passage of time. Each moment it
would be a simple mixture of possibilities, it would be a sort of
organic whole whose parts are changing constantly but which,
nonetheless, is somehow a thing-in-itself. This thing-in-itself would
continue to develop indefinitely until an observation (measurement) is
made on the observed system which it represents” (Zukav, p. 218). Von
Neumann’s description, I believe, is not only valid for what takes
place at the quantum level; it’s also valid for what takes place in
consciousness—in particular, in Sartre’s description of consciousness.

Asking A Question Collapses The Jumping Monkey Behavior Of Conscious

My relationship to consciousness–my self-consciousness (according to
Sartre)–brings to consciousness the pure negative of nothingness,
and, in so doing, denies itself the possibility of truly becoming
self-conscious. Again, according to Sartre, a negation separates me
from myself. Nothingness then, lies at the heart of consciousness.
Sartre describes man “as the being by which nothingness comes into the
world.” Being for-itself can never, in any final sense, be conscious
of itself. It carries within itself the rift of nothingness that
negates that very possibility, and as such, only makes itself known to
me as a lack, a lack that typically fills up with ego, –but it does
something else too. Without the nothingness that negates,
the question or our capacity for inquiry would not exist. The
annihilating act of self-consciousness is the real consciousness
behind consciousness. It is the lack of self—a question unto self,
which we are left with. It is what Sartre calls the pre-reflective
cogito. What this means is that any knowledge of consciousness is
secondary to existing consciousness itself. This is not unlike what
physicists experience at the quantum level. There too, existence
precedes knowledge of it.


About bwinwnbwi

About me: Marvin Gaye’s song, "What’s Going On" was playing on the jukebox when I went up to the counter and bought another cup of coffee. When I got back, the painting on the wall next to where I was sitting jumped out at me, the same way it had done many times before. On it was written a diatribe on creativity. It was the quote at the bottom, though, that brought me back to this seat time after time. The quote had to do with infinity; it went something like this: Think of yourself as being in that place where infinity comes together in a point; where the infinite past and the infinite future meet, where you are at right now. The quote was attributed to Hermann Hesse, but I didn’t remember reading it in any of the books that I had read by him, so I went out and bought Hesse’s last novel, Magister Ludi. I haven’t found the quote yet, but I haven't tired of looking for it either.
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2 Responses to The Network—Sense Experience, Mind, Nature

  1. cogito… reminds me of my philosophy professor…cogito, ergo sum…well, as Albert Einstein said “imagination is a thousand times more powerful than intelligence”…he was a smart man… 🙂

  2. bwinwnbwi says:

    The collapse of the wave function by an observation is an example of genuine ontological emergence. At the ground level of freedom implication remains open until an observation collapses the wave function, or, in other words, the negation that lies at the center of self-consciousness, the negation that permits our capacity to solve mathematical equations lies also at the ground of freedom where, upon observation, we discover waves or particles. Self-consciousness (epistemological emergence) opened up the human world-historical-process where we are now looking through the prism of determinism, locality and continuity and discovering the “fuzzy world” of quantum mechanics, a world where the deterministic motions of mass points no longer exist.

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