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PHENOMENOLOGY

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Phenomenology

III. Experiences and Abstractions

1. The Objects of Perception

2. The Objects of Intuition

3. Correlations Between Experiences

4. Conceptual Objects

5. Degrees of Interiority

In the present chapter[1], we shall try and classify appearances in various ways (please refer to Figures 1, 2 and 3 for a useful summary and illustration). The objects of knowledge, contents of consciousness, or appearances to cognition, include: firstly, the concrete phenomena we perceive either through the senses or as mental projections; secondly, the concrete but non-phenomenal objects of intuition (self-knowledge); and thirdly, the abstract appearances we conceive through inductive and deductive logic in relation to the aforesaid experiences (i.e. phenomena and intuitions).

1. The Objects of Perception

Perceptual objects, i.e. the ‘things’ we perceive, also called percepts or phenomenal appearances, are counted as experiential or empirical data, i.e. concrete (non-abstract) evident givens, on the basis of which knowledge is gradually constructed. Percepts are of two kinds (or sources), the material (or sensory) and the mental (or imaginary), which may be phenomenologically distinguished as follows.

(a) Material phenomena (or ‘sensa’) are at least seemingly perceived through the senses. They include the following appearances (and some of their components).

· Visual phenomena: the different intensities of light and colors (among which we discern various shapes, sizes, distances, directions) that seem to be perceived through the eyes (organs of sight).

· Auditory phenomena: sounds (including loudness, pitch, tonality, direction and other features), and sense of balance[2] (from which, bodily inclination) that seem to be perceived through the ears, organs of hearing.

· The olfactory and gustatory experiences: odors (fragrant, pungent, fetid, etc.) sensed in nose (the smell organ), and flavors (salty, sweet, sour, bitter, etc.) sensed in mouth and tongue (the taste organs).[3]

· Tactile phenomena: the feelings we experience as ‘within the body or on it (at the skin)’ – contact, resistance to pressure/push and tension/pull (hard/soft, rigid/elastic, heavy/light), texture (rough/smooth), temperature (hot/cold skin or body), electricity (shocks), bodily posture (stand, sit, etc.), movement (of parts or all of body), and visceral pleasure and pain (or their lack, indifference), whether physically caused (sensational) or caused by mental phenomena (sentimental), which we classify as aspects of the sense of touch[4].

The field of material phenomena is subdivided into two spaces: one, experienced as close to oneself (the center of experience or observer) and relatively constant (for us, at least in the short term), is called ‘one’s body’; and the other, lying further away and more variable, is called ‘the environment’. Both the physical body and the matter beyond it have visual, auditory, tactile, olfactory and gustatory manifestations.

Additionally, certain parts of the body, called the five ‘senses’ or ‘sense organs’, are regarded as specifically involved somehow in the perception of these manifestations. These organs, located roughly in the eyes, ears, nose, tongue, skin and inside the body, can be observed more precisely using scientific instruments (such as a microscope). They are found to be respectively comprised of mechanoreceptors (for touch, position, hearing), chemoreceptors (for taste, smell), photoreceptors (for vision), temperature receptors and receptors for the sensations we recognize as pleasure and pain[5].

That the sense organs are a sine qua non to material perception is evident from the fact that when such an organ is blocked temporarily, damaged, amputated or missing from birth, the corresponding perception is lacking or distorted. But the sense organs are not alone sufficient conditions of such perception: our attention to what they reveal is necessary too. Therefore, sensory perception cannot be equated to possession of sense organs. It is not the sense organs that perceive. One cannot rightly say that it is the eyes that see or the ears that hear.

Material objects are therefore classed as ‘sensory’, in contrast to ‘mental’ phenomena (considered below). The perceived body and sense organs are, of course, themselves mere appearances, although are later given a leading role in the mental-construct constituting the naive world-view. The above-listed five kinds of material phenomena are called the sense-modalities[6], and their subcategories are called sense-qualities.[7]

What is the common property of the various sense-modalities, and the various sense-qualities, which allows us to group them together under these common names? For example, something in front of me both has shape and color and makes a noise, why do I class the shape and color as sights and the noise as a sound? In truth, shape and color are as different in appearance from each other as sight and sound! Their common character has to be supposed merely relational. That is, we may classify them together not because of their intrinsic ‘natures’, but because they seem related to us observers by sensory experience, through certain bodily organs.

Note well however that the exact role of the senses in perception remains a mystery. For we have to affirm that we perceive what impinges at entrance of the senses, and not (as naïvely supposed by many) end products of transmission by the senses. Otherwise, we are faced with a logical problem: we are not perceiving the objects we claim to perceive, but alleged images thereof. In the latter case, we have no way to compare such representations to their alleged origins, and even no right to suppose the ‘original’ objects existent. In which case, in turn, the sense organs, as themselves objects of perception, are put in doubt; which brings us full circle to a doubt of the initial premise that we perceive images of objects. But granting, therefore, that we perceive the objects themselves, the question arises: what is the use of the senses, then?[8]

(b) Mental phenomena are appearances resembling material phenomena, but which do not seem to be perceived through the sense organs. Thus, we should more precisely and broadly refer to phenomenal modalities (visual, auditory, etc.) and phenomenal qualities (shapes, light-intensities, colors, etc.), and regard the so-called sense modalities and qualities as referring specifically to those apparently manifested via the senses (the material ones).

Although individual mental phenomena seemingly exist independently of temporally simultaneous material ones, this does not exclude the possibility (which I believe[9]) that they are only edited representations of previously encountered material phenomena (memories taken as a whole selectively, or taken as bits and pieces and reshuffled). For this reason, it seems proper to define mental phenomena negatively (as above done), as not arising directly through the senses, implying that they probably arise indirectly through creative projection of memories of material phenomena.

Mental phenomena are imaginations, projections that may be involuntary or voluntary to various degrees, including memories of recent or long-past events and fantasies of past, present and/or future events (the latter being anticipations). These may be brought forth for cognitive purposes, or for idle entertainment or other psychological motives. Among mental phenomena, then, we may to begin with distinguish the retrospective from the prospective.

Retrospective phenomena, or memories, appear as the past incarnations of the ‘present moment,’ which we assume to have unity and continuity of sorts with the present ‘present moment’ and to have been brought into the present through a faculty of memory. The consciousness of past claimed to be possible, directly or indirectly through this faculty, is called remembering.

An automatic confidence in our ordinary interpretation of these phenomena would be naïve, but a renewed confidence after due reflection may legitimately occur. What matters to us here is that these phenomena take part in the present, and that they seem to refer us back into some ‘past’ existence. This dual presence and absence is a distinguishing feature of the class of retrospective phenomena. The explanations proposed for this mysterious quality of such phenomena (e.g. that we have a faculty of memory that somehow stores information obtained at other points of something called time[10]) require eventual evaluation.

Prospective phenomena, or anticipations, project specific scenarios regarding the future. They thus suggest that what we face in the present moment will have some sort of prolongation in the following moments. But we do not in this case posit for ourselves a faculty like memory; we only claim here at best an expectation that things will continue to be or become, and that other ‘present moments’ will replace the current one (till we ‘die,’ at least).

Just as our here and now is tainted, at least peripherally, with an awareness of a before, a past, so it is with a look forward, to a future, which is not quite part of the present and yet seems potential in it. Whether justified or not, what concerns us here is that these prospective phenomena take place in the present and yet refer to another extrapolation of what we call time, in a direction opposite to the objects of memory.

Both remembering and anticipation are essentially inductive forms of consciousness, note well, in that the Subject projects some interpretation on the basis of certain minimal data. The ‘data’ are the present phenomena (of apparent past existence or potential future existence, as the case may be), while the ‘interpretations’ include the acceptance of things pointed-to by these present phenomena as having some existence beyond the present (in a hypothetical past or future part of something called time). This is in contrast to sensory phenomena, which taken in themselves are devoid of theory (though starting points of theory).

My inclusion of prospective phenomena in this list of components is a debt to Husserl. However, he does not see the inductive nature of anticipation, nor for that matter of remembering. Furthermore, I must add that awareness of these components is no 20th Century novelty. It is found in the mystic traditions (e.g. Meister Eckhart, in Christian mysticism, or to give an Eastern example, in Zen Buddhism), wherever we are encouraged to “live in the eternal present” or to “be here now.” What the latter make clear is that remembering and anticipation are not mere adjuncts to awareness of the present, requiring an effort; they are for some reason for most humans compulsive and very difficult to avoid. If one thinks about it, this is very surprising, and requires an explanation.[11]

Retrospective and prospective phenomena are conceived as mental projections made to some extent by their observer, and so have the initial status of imaginations. Indeed, both are essentially hypothetical, in that they are about things no longer or not yet present to sensory perception, and therefore (this is said without pejorative intent) uncertain as far as it is concerned. I expect, however, that the initial elements in memory of visual and auditory imagination are produced (in the recent or distant past) by sense-perceptions (sight and hearing, at least). This question might be resolved empirically by trying to ask people who are born blind or born deaf whether they, respectively, see or hear anything ‘in their heads;’ If, as I expect, they cannot, then the mental phenomenal modalities are ultimately side-products of the physical ones. If, as may be the case, they can imagine sights or sounds, then mental phenomena have independent genesis.

Imagination (the projection of ‘images’) could also be called ‘perceptualization.’ More specifically, in the case of visual phenomena, we say visualization; in the case of auditory ones, we could say ‘auditorization;’ similarly for the other cases, though there are doubts concerning them, as presently explained.

Memories and anticipations are classed as imaginations, note, even though their contents or intentions are not necessarily mental, but may relate to outside material events. Unless we suppose a direct awareness of remembered or forecast events across past or future time, we must regard them as in-themselves mental apparitions, even if their objects did or will indeed exist as projected in past or future, respectively. When their contents happen to be true, such mental acts may be viewed as indirect awareness of sorts.

As we shall see, imagination is a basic function of intelligence. The observer’s creative capacity, to project images in or around himself, makes possible rational acts like comparison, confrontation and hypothesizing which are bases of conceptualization, and logical induction and deduction of propositions. In practice, imaginations are rarely purely perceptual but usually involve conceptual and verbal factors.

Conversely, memories, fantasies and anticipations are never merely abstract or verbal, but always involve perceptual factors. Note in particular the various constituents of our hypothesizing, in everyday pursuit of knowledge. Ideas and theories are mentally formed in reaction to information and as attempts to predict further data. Such anticipations of reality (which have to be tested eventually, of course) include not only our words’ intentions or conceptual contents, but a mass of concrete memories and fantasies, which may involve visual, auditory or other constructs, and of course the verbal aspect of our abstract thoughts.

Memories and anticipations involve concrete visual and auditory, and perhaps other, phenomenal modalities. Allegedly mental visual and auditory phenomena are not counted among the objects of alleged sensory origin, because they can seemingly[12] be experienced even with one’s eyes shut or ears plugged, respectively. As for the sense-modalities other than sights and sounds, I am not sure that they are imaginable; their apparent imagination may just be an interpretation of present sensations (see below).

Another relevant feature of mental phenomena is that they are intimate, i.e. perceived by the observer only (colloquially, in the case of visual ones, through a ‘mind’s eye’), and although they do not seemingly interact with material phenomena, projections are experienced or at least regarded as due to an agency of the observer – signifying an act of will, a volition by a supposed soul or spiritual entity (see further on). Imagination is not per se a case of ‘mind over matter;’ i.e. material objects (except perhaps the underlying brain) are not affected. Rather, we seem to create a hologram of dots, lines and shadings – and sounds, etc. – in our inner and/or outer mental space.

Mental phenomena may be internal or external, note well. Internal imaginations seem to be located (roughly) inside of one’s ‘head’, as if they are projected onto some ‘matrix’ there constituting an inner space. In contrast, external imaginations seem to be projected out into the outer space occupied by matter, seemingly sharing the same extension and intermingling without however directly impinging on it (transparency). Clearly, external projection may involve ‘extrapolation’[13]. We need not consider these two categories of imagination as fundamentally different: they may in fact inhabit the same transcendent space but simply be closer or further from the observer, respectively.

External mental phenomena may be quite commonplace hallucinations, like having the impression that one still has one’s glasses on after removing them (one still ‘sees’ the frames, and does not just feel the residual pressure at one’s temples). But there are more extreme manifestations, like meditative or psychotic or drug-induced hallucination[14]. For example, someone may claim to be a prophet who received the visit of an angel, but in fact just have a strong power of external projection[15].

In addition to imaginations, we commonly tend to believe in another class of intimate mental phenomena, which might be referred to as ‘mental feelings,’ including moods, perhaps esthetic responses, and other such subtle experiences[16]. These should not be confused with (although they may give rise to) psychosomatic sentiments, which we have already mentioned above and classified as material (in the sense that they occur viscerally in the body, though mentally caused)[17]. Whether we should count mental feelings as phenomenal, let alone existent, is open to debate. We could, so as to acknowledge common belief, hypothetically assume them to be perceptually discernible although very faintly and vaguely. Mental feelings, though diffuse, might phenomenally occur, like imaginations, in a mental space (extending in and around the head and body). Perhaps they are mental equivalents of material feelings, just as mental sights and sounds are equivalents of material ones. If the latter is true, then mental feelings can simply be classed as imaginations, and the parallelism between the material and mental domains is greatly increased.

Another possible explanation of our knowledge of mental feelings might be with reference to intuition. In such perspective, they are merely expressions of the self, valuing what it has cognized with a view to eventual willing. They are not objective, in the sense of ‘apart from’ the self, but subjective, i.e. items of self-knowledge. (More on this topic below.)

Retrospective and prospective phenomena differ from sensory phenomena, in that the former are representative (they contain for-other claims, they have informational ambitions beyond themselves), whereas the latter are usually merely ‘presentative’ (they are to be taken in-themselves)[18]. All experiences are primarily data ‘in-themselves,’ and as such, no matter what their ‘quality’ (clarity, persistence, etc.), they are indubitable. Some experiences additionally appear as channels to other phenomena, as ‘for-other’ data, and in this role they are open to legitimate doubt.

Mental feelings (like feeling good about the world or finding a painting beautiful) and psychosomatic sentiments (like feeling warm love in your chest or fear in your stomach) may of course refer to something outside the one feeling them (i.e. may be ‘referential’). In a sense, this may be counted as information about the object (specifically, in relation to the one feeling them). But feelings are not essentially intentional: they can be felt without knowledge of their object. Indeed, usually we experience a feeling, and then wonder what its object might be, and waste much time speculating, proposing alternative explanations.

(c) The distinction between matter and mind is open to discussion at this stage. Most people (at least those in our time and culture) regard matter and mind as different; this is considered a ‘common-sense’ fact. But in the 17th Century, the French philosopher Descartes put this seemingly obvious observation in doubt, suggesting that we have no way to tell the difference. I think he was in many respects right, but not entirely.

The clear inner echo of outer sights and sounds, our vivid short-term memory, is easy but of limited duration. The recall of longer-term memory of such phenomena is usually more difficult and approximate, as is the fantasy of inner sights and sounds. The following is also evident (in my head, at least[19]):

Mental visual phenomena seem to be more vivid and clear while dreaming or in other special mental states, than they do while normally awake. In ordinary mental states, we can usually barely imagine (reproduce or produce) vague outlines and some flashes of color; our will has little control over our inner visions. Whereas in extraordinary states, such as in strong dreams[20] or in deep meditation[21] or psychosis or under the influence of strong psychotropic drugs like LSD, our visual experiences (be they spontaneous or willed) seem more three-dimensional, intense, precise and colorful.

Mental auditory phenomena, such as verbal thoughts, on the other hand, seem equally strong whether we are apparently awake or asleep, or in other mental states. Clear inner sounds are reproducible or producible at will in all mental states (except, of course, in exceptional cases of amnesia, sickness or brain damage).

Thus, in the case of sights and sounds, there are notable similarities and differences between mind and matter, which justify our conventional dichotomy between these domains. With regard to the other phenomenal modalities, the differences are even greater – between apparently sensed objects, and short- or long-term memories of these, and imaginations awake or asleep or in other states.

It is seemingly impossible (in my mind, at least) to readily reproduce or produce in the mental domain phenomena equivalent to material sensations of smell, taste and touch (in the large sense), so their existence is debatable. This is at least true while awake: neither involuntarily nor at will do I ever recall or imagine, whether clearly or feebly, any of these three phenomenal modalities. I do not remember having experimented this issue while (that was long ago) under drugs, but it would be worth trying.

However, I have often noted seeming smells, tastes, touch-sensations and visceral sentiments in my dreams. However, the question always remains, did I in such cases experience these phenomena in the mental domain, or did my visual and auditory dream cause physical odors or flavors to be secreted by my body, or even just make me attentive to residual molecules in my nose and mouth, or in the surrounding air, which I then sensed and perhaps fancifully interpreted (verbally or by wordless intention) to fit a certain context, i.e. as required for the dream scenario under construction? There is a big difference between mentally (from memory or by fantasy) projecting such phenomena, and mentally reinterpreting physical phenomena as mental phenomena.

The issues involved can best be illustrated with reference to an erotic dream, because that usually involves all the phenomenal modalities. For example, suppose I dream of making love to a beautiful girl:

When I awake I get the impression that the visual and sound aspects of my dream (the girl’s features, her verbal expressions of joy, etc.), and the smells (her skin), tastes (her saliva), touches (our bodies embracing) and emotions (our feelings for each other), were all inside the dream. But upon reflection, it seems to me rather that the two sources of information (the mental and physical) were in fact quite separate. Although some mental aspects may be stimulated by physical ones, and vice versa, each remains in its own domain. Only, we ‘mix’ them intellectually, so as to give ourselves the impression that they occur in the same domain.

Her face and her voice have to be imagined by me, but the points of contact between us need not be imagined, because it suffices for me (in my sleep) to concentrate awareness on my lips or my sex organ to obtain an about equivalent sensation. I thus ask: were the feelings of having sexual intercourse with her and feeling love for her in my dreams (like the sights and sounds of it), or was I just feeling my sex organ physically rub my underwear and experiencing newly generated sentiments of desire and pleasure?

This question is difficult to answer, but as we shall see our apparent ability to ‘recognize’ such phenomena seems to logically require and imply admission of their mental ‘reenactment’ at least as faintly perceptible memories. Though perhaps such recognition can be explained entirely with reference to the intuitive faculty, somehow.

It thus seems evident that ‘sensed materiality’ and ‘the mental stuff of dreams’ are not quite as similar as Descartes and others imply, in their critique of the common-sense view. The two domains have some phenomena of light and sound in common, though not always of comparable quality (i.e. intensity and clarity), and certainly not with equal volitional properties. Other phenomena occurring in the material field have no apparent equivalent in the mental field. And so forth.

Another difference worth noting is that the memory of dream experiences is usually more elusive and tenuous than the memory of awake experiences. Personally, upon awakening I may remember brief flashes of my dreams, but almost as soon as I try to remember more, I forget everything! However, it should be noted that, according to yoga teachings, one can train oneself to clearly recall dreams, by sustained daily effort (including perhaps writing down what one does recall). Thus, my own ineptitude may just be due to my essentially indifferent attitude to dreams[22].

All this is, of course, very close to the common-sense view. What is the essence of ‘materiality’ if it is not precisely resistance to personal bodily pressure or pull[23], i.e. specifically a touch sensation upon contact between some part of one’s body and another body (or another part of one’s body). If this, as well as various other differences already mentioned, were equally producible ‘in the mind’ (at will or as memory recall) the domain of matter would not seem at all different to us from that of mind.

Thus, in conclusion, I very much doubt the Cartesian contention that the mental and material domains contain all similar phenomena. They simply do not. Matter and mind may have seemed indistinguishable due to a hasty generalization. An equation might be justified as a starting position, but has to soon be abandoned once a distinction between mind and matter is introduced to account for observed qualitative or behavioral differences. If our above analysis of differences in the phenomenal modalities present in these two domains is correct, we would indeed be justified in distinguishing the mental matrix from the physical world as an explicatory hypothesis.

One could, even admitting the above objections, maintain that awake living might still be dreaming. Specifically, one could say that there are (at least) two kinds of dream, the primary dreams (which we call awake living) in which touch, smell and taste are experienced, and so on (listing all distinctive features), and secondary dreams (which we regard as occurring in sleep or under other specific conditions like drugs or natural chemical imbalances), which are dreams within the primary dreams, and which are distinguished by a more limited range of phenomenal modalities.

The position is consistent, so that Descartes’ doubt remains legitimate, and even the idealistic posture of Berkeley and others. There is a Buddhist saying to the same effect, that: “Mind is a dream that can dream that it is not a dream.”

However, one could upon further reflection argue that that position involves a stolen concept. The meaning of the words dream or mental is grasped as against the awake experience that we call materiality. If, as the Berkeleyan posture does, we dissolve the distinction, and call everything dream, then the word dream loses its initial meaning.

The whole impact of idealism (or mentalism or subjectivism), the provocation inherent in it, is due to our previous experiential grasp of materiality (as hardness, etc.) as distinct from mind-stuff; if we honestly started with the consideration of ‘external objects’ as mental just like ‘inner objects,’ there would be no shock value.

That is, there would be no comprehensible distinction between the words ‘matter’ and ‘mind.’ That we understand something different by each of those words shows that their content is different for us and justifies maintenance of a distinction. Matter may be a specific category of mind, or mind may equally well be a very subtle form of matter, but in any case they as experienced are qualitatively different objects in many respects, and those differences cannot legitimately be swept away in one go, as Berkeley and the like do.

2. The Objects of Intuition

Intuitive objects, i.e. the ‘things’ we intuit within ourselves, are also (as we shall now argue) to be counted as concretes, evident givens, or experiential or empirical data, on the basis of which knowledge is gradually constructed.

Our above attempt to parse experiential data into ‘material’ and parallel ‘mental’ phenomena of various modalities and qualities, is obviously incomplete, in that it does not reflect all the items found in ordinary belief (whether the latter is ultimately right or wrong). Many of our common abstract ideas and statements relate to more intimate data, not included in the above list. This suggests the need to postulate an additional class of objects, of immediately apparent particulars, like percepts (material or mental phenomena), and yet not as manifestly displayed (colorful, noisy, etc.). The type of consciousness by which such appearances may be supposed to be apprehended may here be called intuition or apperception (although in practice, note, people often broaden the term ‘perception’ to include such self-experience).

Under this heading, I here refer to things and events such as: one’s own cognition (I know what I am experiencing or thinking, what I currently believe or remember), volition[24] (I know what I willed, i.e. I was aware and remember I ‘caused’ the act), imagination (this is my imagination, I imagined it – even if in some cases I have had thoughts and dreams beyond my control), valuation (I like her, I want her, etc. – what might be called ‘intuitive feelings,’ leaving aside their eventual phenomenal effects, like feeling lust for her or enjoying sex with her), or again the intuitive sense of ‘I’, of being an observer, judge and actor at the center of cognition, valuation, volition, imagination (I know that, I value this, I did so, I imagined so and so).[25]

If we reify such presumed objects of cognition, we might be tempted to refer to them paradoxically as ‘concrete abstracts’ or ‘conceptual percepts’, or the like, because they seem to have a dual character, as it were straddling the domains of perception and conception, of concrete and abstract. More precisely, such apparently introspected certitudes (relating to ‘oneself’), on the one hand resemble abstracts, in that they have no expression in the listed sense-modalities, but on the other hand they apparently share with phenomena the properties of immediacy (i.e. their being directly cognized, without assistance of a reasoning process) and particularity (they are individual objects, not common features). For this reason, it is best to regard them as a separate class of concrete objects, to be called intuitive appearances[26].

We are here considering the most inner of internal cognitions, where the observer observes himself (or herself) and his (or her) most intimate deeds – the awareness of anything, all volitions (i.e. the first move in all actions, be it the willing of imaginations or of bodily movements) and valuations (preferences, which are not actions but presumed inner antecedents of actions). Intuition differs from the objects of imagination (including memory and anticipation, eventually mental feelings), in that the latter are the products of the imaginative act, whereas intuition has as its object (among others) the presumable causes of the imaginative act, i.e. the Agent and the agency. Such intuitions constitute literally subjective knowledge, in a non-pejorative sense of ‘in or part of the Subject’, in comparison to which other mental events, viz. memories and fantasies of whatever sense-modality, are quite ‘objective,’ i.e. the latter are neither the Subject, nor creases or movements within him, though they are indeed often regarded as caused by the Subject.

The pejorative sense of ‘subjective’ is of course that the Subject or consciousness cognizing something is thereby creating that thing (as one creates imaginations), and that this thing exists only in or through such artistic cognition. But if one says that everything cognized is imagination, it follows that this very statement about cognition is nothing but a fantasy too. So we cannot do that, logically; sure, we can put the words side by side, but their intended meaning is in fact self-contradictory. The correct view is therefore that some of the objects of cognition exist independently of cognition, they are objective. In this sense, not only are material and mental phenomena objective, but so are putative abstracts relating to matter or mind, and so even are the putative objects of self-knowledge (soul, cognitions, valuations and volitions). These are all placed in the role of objects in the event of cognition, and could exist without such cognition (though in some cases their lifespan might well be equal to the duration of that cognitive act, of course).

‘Introspection’ in a broad sense includes apperception as well mental perception. Similarly, a broad concept of ‘mind’ would (and ordinarily does) include not only the mental phenomena listed earlier, but equally the observer him/her self and his/her most intimate expressions (awareness, willing, preferring), i.e. all objects of intuition. It may be that the latter are not essentially different from concrete phenomena, i.e. that they display very fine, very subtle, very subliminal, very faint – almost but not totally imperceptible – phenomenal qualities; in that case, intuition would be regarded as a kind of deeper inner perception. I leave the question open.

Note well that to adduce such ‘intuitive’ objects is not to admit just any fanciful candidate for membership in their class. If it is legitimate to (at least hypothetically) admit self-knowledge as an additional faculty akin to perception, it does not follow that all other claims to intuition or intuitive appearances (such as direct awareness of God, or reading other people’s minds, etc.) are offhand logically guaranteed (or excluded). In my view, we surely have to admit the observer’s claims to direct knowledge (experience) of and about himself (or herself); but with regard to other claims there is no such certainty.

It is not because I see and feel my hand move that I think and claim I moved it – if I exist and moved my hand, then I have to know I moved it because my will to do so came from me (the hand movement being but a distant consequence of that). We give this kind of circular argument (which Buddhist philosophers would reject, denying existence of a self) merely to express that inner certainty, not as a justification thereof. It is here claimed to be evident data, not interpretation. Sometimes, such inner movements or states (metaphorically speaking) are uncertain; one may well honestly report “I don’t you know if I believe or want or did so and so”, but this too is a case of self-knowledge!

As earlier mentioned, Buddhists, presumably on the basis of their meditation experiences, claim that the self (and thus its having attributes and powers of agency) is an illusion, a conventional (i.e. conceptually generated) shell with nothing (emptiness, vacuity) at its center. Be that as it may[27], our interest here is to describe man’s thinking processes as they appear within ordinary thinking, and these seem to include intuition of self and of expressions of self. Consciousness somehow appears to us as having a Subject; and cognitions, valuations and volitions somehow seem to ‘belong to’ and be ‘acts of’ that Subject. On this basis we construct propositions like I believe, I prefer, I do, etc. If such objects are not granted some credible reality and knowability[28], then all statements of this sort are meaningless and to be excluded at the outset from all human discourse. What shape grammar would then take, I do not know; no one has proposed a convincing model. Fact is, philosophers who deny such propositions theoretically, nevertheless continue to discourse in such terms in practice!

3. Correlations between Experiences

We correlate experiences in various ways. There are apparent correlations between sense-modalities. This refers to the associations we record and rely on between sensations in the material domain, in various combinations. For example, the sight of my hand in contact with something with such and such a shape or texture is associated with the touch sensations that accompany it.

Very often, correlation between the mental and material domains is involved. In this respect, there are various possible combinations. One example is sight, visualization and touch: with my eyes closed, the visualization of my hand and an object held by it, is a tool of interpretation of the corresponding touch sensations. Another common complex involves sight, visualization, sound and ‘auditorization:’ I hear a sound apparently coming from a sight, the sight disappears from view, I associate the sound to a visualization instead; then the sound goes, I ally the images of sight and sound in my memory. Also, we have the ‘gourmet’ complex: the sensations in our mouth are not mere tasting, but a mix of visual images based on sight of the food before ingesting it, smelling, touch sensations of shape, texture and movement, muscular sensations of mouth, tongue and throat movements, and even the sounds of chewing!

It is important to note that what at first sight seems like direct correlation between sensations is often mediated by mental projections. We often loosely speaking refer to the different phenomenal modalities of space. That is, there seems to be a visual space, an auditory space, a tactile space, etc. We have the impression that we know analogies of space through the various sensory organs, but it is not strictly speaking the case. We in fact mentally project visual space and its properties into the other sensory modes.

We localize the tactile phenomena in our body (contacts, pains, etc.) with reference to a visual image of the body. This image is based on our external visual perceptions (through the eyes) of the body, like a photograph in memory. When the eyes are closed (or simply unused or otherwise occupied), the visual image is inwardly projected in lieu of the actual eye-vision of the body. This is used as a coordinate system, through which we map touch sensations within our body or on its surface. For instance, close your eyes and put two fingertips apart on your desk; with regard only to touch sensations there is no distance between them, they are just two isolated events. You do not ‘feel’ the space between them, but rather interpose a space between them by imagination. Similarly, if you run a finger over your desk, it is only by mentally tracing a line between its various points of contact with the desk that you can say that the finger had a continuous trajectory. The sounds we hear and other sensations may likewise be mapped in a mentally projected equivalent of space, extending out beyond one’s body.

There are, of course, yet other correlations – equivalences and causal relations – between the mental and material domains. For instances, the relations between thoughts (verbal and non-verbal cogitations, based on immediate experience or memory) and sentiments (visceral feelings), or between emotions (evaluations and their mental and bodily expressions) and breath (as e.g. when it is speeded or deepened by desire or fear).

4. Conceptual Objects

The objects of conception, i.e. the ‘things’ we conceive, also called[29] concepts or abstract appearances, are not counted as empirical data (unlike percepts, and eventually objects of intuition) but must still be granted due consideration as appearances. Abstracts may be phenomenologically distinguished from material or mental concretes as having none of the phenomenal modalities – we cannot see them, hear them, smell them, taste them or feel them in any way, on a material or mental plane. Abstracts may also be distinguished from objects of intuition, in that they are not particulars. Abstracts are the assumed common features or measures or degrees of two or more percepts and/or intuited items and/or other abstracts in simple or complex combinations.

Not to confuse here, the words we conventionally, by intention, attach to abstracts, which thereby and thenceforth become for us the material and mental phenomenal manifestations of abstracts, tools to facilitate recording, storing and transmitting of information. Words may be facial expressions or bodily gestures, visible shapes or colors, hearable sounds or touchable epigraphs or Braille – but what they symbolize (their intended references or meanings) may have no phenomenal qualities and no intentions.

By ‘abstract,’ then, is simply meant any object of discourse other than the phenomenal or intuited. Many abstracts seem somehow almost ‘given in experience,’ and yet they cannot be pointed-to as clearly as experiences. For instance, ‘squareness’ is something we seem to see in all phenomenal squares, whether in the outside world or in our heads; yet we cannot show it except by drawing a sample square of particular size and color. We have no access to the universal except through individuals. Thus, the conceptual is in a sense apparent, like the experiential, but its epistemological status is inferior, because while the perceptual or intuitive is immediately accessible as a singular thing, the conceptual requires a plurality of data, out of which it is gradually differentiated by comparisons and contrasts between different parts of the field of appearance, and more broadly between different fields of appearance over time.

We call abstract object of cognition any thing or relation we infer (or at least suppose or assume) by conceptual/logical means, including terms, propositions and arguments. Although they are per se imperceptible, and not intuited, abstracts may be (indeed ultimately have to be) associated to experiential phenomena. We might characterize them as rational objects, because logical insight and discourse are involved in their cognition[30]. They are end products of reasoning processes of varying type and complexity, (which may be hypothetical and probabilistic), based on and guided by (sensory or introspected) empirical evidence. What lies behind an abstract term like ‘quark’ or ‘happiness’ – what the term seems to us to refer to, what makes it meaningful to us – is what we reify as an ‘abstract’ thing. Like an experience, it is granted possible if not actual reality of sorts (while admitting that in specific cases, it can be shown that what we assumed was illusory – e.g. ‘unicorn’).

It should be noted that I count logical insights (such as awareness that there is a conflict or harmony between different percepts, intuitions or concepts) as abstractions. They may be described as virtual ‘sensations’ of imbalance among certain appearances, whence arises in us an incredulity, a question requiring an answer, and equilibrium is recovered only when a convincing answer to the question seems found[31]. We feel ‘compelled’ by honesty to resolve logical issues when they arise. Logic is thus based on a certain affectivity, a capacity for intuition of our level of belief in or peace with certain appearances, within a specific context of knowledge and degree of attention.

If we have even a mere impression (‘rightly’ or ‘wrongly’) that a given experience or a given hypothesis is somewhat ‘misplaced’ or otherwise ‘inappropriate,’ this impression must be counted as part of the sum total of appearances on which judgment is to be based. It is with respect to all our impressions in a given moment (however vague or clear, right or wrong to start with) that we develop considered judgments on any one of these impressions. It follows that we are correct (ab initio, at least) in counting logical insights as objective, in the sense that they belong to Appearance and not to the Subject. That we may also regard them as ‘feelings,’ or again as ‘compulsions’ of sorts, does not detract us from this position. It is not an arbitrary preference, but itself logically convincing.

Note well that logic is not, as some modern commentators have come to imagine, an issue of language or even of form (these are but technical aspects). It is primarily an apprehension of problems inherent in appearance (or between appearances), and of possible solutions to such problems. The problems and solutions are themselves apparent! Aristotle has identified three broad classes of logical issues. identity (acknowledgment of things as they present themselves), non-contradiction (conflicts between phenomena and their apparent resolutions) and the excluded middle (dealing with gaps in knowledge and otherwise unsatisfactory ideas).

Conception of the simplest sort has to begin with a simple insight, a direct consciousness of some abstract aspect of some perceived or intuited particulars. This position is needed to explain the comparisons and contrasts that determine conceptualization, and likewise the logical confrontations that order knowledge. ‘Similarity,’ ‘difference,’ ‘more or less,’ ‘contradiction,’ ‘consistency’ and other such immediate objects, are obviously not perceptible or intuitive qualities, but undeniably abstract[32]. More complex conception is ‘built up’ from such simple conceptions, but not like bricks piled up on each other. Relations more complicated than mere ‘addition’ are involved, with terms inside terms, inside varieties of propositional forms, buttressed and intertwined by varied arguments.

Thus, the term abstraction should be understood very broadly as including simple insights and summaries of qualitative or quantitative similarity or difference between experiences; more complex conceptualization, interpretations or explications requiring adductive trial and error; propositional relations between concepts; logical insights, judgments and tests; deductive and inductive principles; specific logical methods and techniques of all kinds. Note well that abstraction is based, not only on similarities (as some philosophers absent-mindedly seem to suggest), but also on differences. The negative aspect is as important as the positive. Note that another factor, which I also often forget, is the insight of degree or proportion. Things not only seem the ‘same or different,’ but also ‘more, equally or less’ this or that. A full account of comparison and contrast must mention this quantitative aspect, which is not reducible to the polar issue of mere qualitative presence or absence.

Abstracts are unconscionable without some sort of prior experience, be it material or mental perceptions or intuitions of self. If we had never observed anything, we would have nothing to ever conceptualize. This is a basic principle, thanks to which many errors can be avoided. Philosophers often use a concept to criticize or deny the very percepts on which it was originally based, committing a variant of the ‘stolen concept’ fallacy. If one keeps in mind the order of things in knowledge, one will not waste one’s own and everyone else’s time with such stupidity. Many philosophers, out of a failure to carefully observe and fairly evaluate cognitive processes, have fallen into skepticism and peddled confusions which have caused much damage in people’s minds and in society. We shall in the course of the present research review some of our core assumptions with regard to abstract knowledge, with a view to justify it in principle. What will hopefully be made manifest is that the principal justification of abstraction is its grounding in empirical data; it is not something ‘a priori’ or ‘transcendent.’

The essence of concepts is that they provide summaries, interpretations or explanations of phenomenal or intuitive particulars. Their primary orientation is thus more objective than subjective, whether what they refer to is self or other. That is to say, when the Subject forms an abstraction about the self, it treats itself as a cognitive object like any other in that context. Also, although such comparison and contrast constitutes work by the Subject concerned, it does not follow that it is ‘subjective creation;’ it is dependent on a performance of the Subject, but it does not ‘invent’ its object.

The proposed ordering of the data, emerging from the activity of abstraction, is inevitably inductive as of when it takes longer than a single moment. For only what is given within a moment is pure evidence, whereas the putative links and other relations between moments are mere hypotheses confirmed by these moments (and others eventually), since as we have said beyond a given moment we depend on memories and anticipations. For this reason, the conceptual has a lower status than the empirical. Not as some suppose, “because the abstract is not inherent in the experiential,” but because the extraction of concepts from percepts and intuitions depends on time-consuming and therefore potentially faulty processes.

Terms, propositions and arguments may therefore ultimately, all things considered, be found ‘true’ or ‘false,’ in one sense or another. The false ones may be deliberate pretenses, or sincere but unsuccessful attempts to report information. The fact that some abstractions are erroneous in no way justifies a skeptical judgment about abstraction as such, since such judgment is itself abstract. No one can consistently advocate the elimination of all abstracts from human knowledge. One cannot even tell oneself (verbally or in wordless intention) to stop using them, since such comprehension or collective intention itself involves abstraction. Some abstracts must thus be logically admitted; the only question remaining is, which? If the basic abstracts of similarity and difference or of compatibility versus incompatibility are understood and thus granted, there is little reason for denying other abstracts – for to deny some abstracts only does not have the same force as denying them all.

Abstracts are the objects and outcomes of discourse, but should not be viewed solely in this perspective. Their epistemic role is not their whole story. They may be serious or playful, in the foreground of consciousness or in its background or underground. As already stated and as we shall see in more detail, abstracts involve and are usually in turn involved in imagination, meaning memory, fantasy, and anticipation; for instances, memory of their perceptual basis, fantasy of the words symbolizing them, or anticipation of hypotheses. Abstracts are also affected by and affect our innermost life; for instances, an emotional prejudice can affect one’s philosophizing or a philosophy of self can modify one’s choices.

5. Degrees of Interiority

It is important to note well, in the above dissertation, the implied degrees of interiority, with reference to ‘distance’ of events from the observer.

Five (or six) degrees of interiority are distinguished regarding emotions or feelings (taking such terms in their broadest sense), with (starting from the most distant):

(a) sensations felt when one touches something with one’s skin or in one’s mouth or nose (these might not be counted as emotions, but one is said to feel them);

(b) visceral sentiments, pleasures and pains experienced as in the region of the body (including the head), whether through purely physical causes (e.g. the pain of burned fingers or hunger or a stomach ache after eating something hard to digest or a headache due to noise) or due to mental causes (or psychosomatic – e.g. fear felt in one’s solar plexus or sexual enjoyment or the warm feeling of love in one’s chest);

(c) ‘mental feelings,’ i.e. concretely felt, not in any bodily location, but in the mental plane, if such things can be said to exist;

(d) eventual mental representations (as memories, imaginations, dreams) of these sensory (and possibly mental) experiences, thanks to which we can remember and recognize them, and often evoke them;

(e) the self-expressions of the Subject, the attitudes implied by velleities and volitions, the value-judgments or valuations implicit in his choices; and

(f) abstract implications of behavior and of introspected emotion (of the preceding four types), known by reasoning processes.

A particular emotion (mood, urge, whatever – any ‘affection’) to which we give a name, is usually a complex of many or all of these types of feeling, relatively concrete and passive ones like (a), (b), (c) or (d), or relatively abstract and active ones like (e) or (f). Rarely do we refer to ultimate units of emotion alone. By distinguishing the various meanings of ‘emotion,’ we are better able to analyze and understand particular emotions. For example, “I am in love with her” cannot be reduced to pleasant feelings in one’s ‘heart’ or in one’s sex organs or even to self-knowledge of one’s abstract evaluation. ‘Being in love’ may mean that one experiences concrete sensations (the feel of her skin) and sentiments or mental feelings (pleasure, desire, admiration, pain, fear, guilt, shame, pity, etc.), while in contact with or when thinking of the person concerned, or it may refer to a very platonic direct (I like her) or indirect (she’s nice, worthy of love) evaluation and a resolve to a certain line of action (doing good to the person loved), or both (usually). One’s consequent voluntary and involuntary actions (over a long term) would also be considered important empirical tests and indices, relative to which one could objectively judge whether and to what degree love effectively exists or is pretentiously claimed (a fantasy).

The knot of emotions may, for instance, be iterative, with observation of certain conjunctions of sentiments or deeds causing additional sentiments (for instance, one may feel guilt in view of one’s desiring or kissing someone). Also, one may have conflicting emotions; there is no ‘law of non-contradiction’ with reference to emotions. ‘I like X’ and ‘I dislike X’ (or ‘I like non-X’) are not considered logically contradictory but merely, say, incoherent or at odds, in that they call on ultimately mutually destructive courses of action (cross-purposes). That is, ‘I like X’ (in a given respect and time) denies ‘I do not like X’, but does not logically imply ‘I do not dislike X’ (or ‘I do not like non-X’). We view the soul as potentially ‘a house divided’, with parts of it inclining one way and others inclining other ways. Indeed, our psychology is built on fragmentation between our ‘conscience’ charged with moral supervision (to different extents, according to the person – some may even have no such reserved segment of self) and our impulsive tendencies (which conscience may disapprove).

Returning to degrees of interiority, the same distinctions apply to the allied faculties of the human psyche. We have of course cognition of the five or six types of ‘emotion’ listed above – they do not just exist, they are cognized by the Subject. And similarly, volition can be viewed at various levels or depths. If I move my hand, I can focus on the tactile or visual sensations of my hand, the feeling and sight of its motion, or the pleasure or pain such motion may give rise to, or the visual imagination of my hand moving (with eyes closed), or the purpose or causes of its movement (i.e. on the mentally projected achievement sought by such movement, or on the conceptually supposed processes by which it occurs), or lastly on the intuited act of willing. A particular volition may involve any or all of these aspects.

Strictly-speaking only the most inner act of willing, known by self-knowledge, may be labeled as volition – all subsequent events are regarded as mere effects of it, mental or physical reactions to it. The will is never involuntary, only imagination or bodily movement can be involuntary. In the mental realm, images can be projected involuntarily, as in dreams. In the physical realm, forces outside the body can move it and it may have internal dysfunctions (e.g. paralysis) or missing organs (e.g. a cut hand). Whereas the presumed will (within a limited range) is always within our power, a free act of the soul, and the first act in any ‘volitional’ series. Thus, volition as such is regarded as a spiritual act impinging on the other two domains, the mental matrix of imagination (which matter can also impinge on) or on matter (which imagination per se cannot however impinge on).

These domains cannot directly or mechanically impinge on the spiritual, but only through their cognitions by the Subject. Cognition is always (or at least usually) antecedent to volition, giving the Subject issues to respond to, but not determining the response. Cognition gives rise to value judgments and attitudes of the Subject, i.e. events in the spiritual realm. But even these subjective antecedents of volitional action do not definitively determine volition; the Subject still has to will an action in the direction they suggest. Cognition (and its objects) and valuation (or more broadly, emotion) are thus said to ‘influence’ actions (make them more likely than others), but only volition can be said to determine actions. ‘Volition’, thus, refers most precisely to subjective movements of the Subject – he is their sole cause, in the sense of Agent (or Author or Actor). Such movements have no existence without the Subject, they are not end products of his acts, they are his acts. He is directly responsible for them, their perpetrator. Subsequent events (e.g. hand moving) are not volitions, but (usual) effects of volition, though loosely called ‘volitional’. For the latter, he has (usually) only indirect responsibility, for other forces can affect them.

By means of the stratification of objects here proposed, we are better able to understand what we mean by freedom of the will. But deeper considerations of causality and causal judgments shall be dealt with separately.



[1] Some of these reflections are already to be found in my 1990 work, Future Logic. In 1998, after attending a lecture by Prof. Roberta de Monticelli at Geneva University on the phenomenology doctrine of Edmund Husserl, I wrote an essay summarizing and updating my own views. In 2002 (at about the same time as I was writing Buddhist Illogic, which was intended as a companion piece), I began rewriting it all, more fully and systematically, resulting in the present book.

[2] The role of hearing in equilibrium is not immediately evident, and is I think historically a relatively late discovery. It is not the hearing organ per se, I am told, but another mechanism in the ear, with liquid levels (whatever). The issue here is this: is there a cognitive act relative to these liquids, so that we can speak of sensation of a phenomenon; or is the ‘information’ (that’s the wrong word, suggesting consciousness; I here use it as in computer science) simply directly transmitted to the brain as a physical process.

[3] Some aspects of flavor (in common parlance, about food or drink) are more precisely odors.

[4] Note that what we call the sense of touch is a grab-bag of very different functions. The term is effectively used in Western philosophy as an “all others” class. Its colloquial usage is narrower; here, “touching” refers to effecting a physical contact between part of one’s body and some other part or body, and “feeling” refers to the resulting sensory experience. I see no utility in making this an issue here, one way or the other. It is up to biologists to decide on more precise classification. I would however stress the distinctiveness of inner bodily sensations (in the sex organs, in the digestive system, etc.) and sentiments (various emotional expressions) from mere touch sensations; the former feel more chemical than mechanical.

[5] According to Curtis and Barnes. They mention pain but not pleasure. Also note, they add that electro-receptors and magneto-receptors are found in some animals, though not in humans.

[6] Needless to say, the word ‘modality’ as used here, to signify varieties of sensory and mental phenomena, is not to be confused with the other sense, of necessary, possible or actual.

[7] They are so-called, with reference to the ordinary, naïve-realist assumptions. But my using the word sense here is mere convenience, and not be taken to imply such assumptions. ‘Sense-modalities’ are the modalities of existence (light, sound, etc.) thought to be perceived by the senses; ‘sense-qualities’ are the subcategories of these modalities (e.g. for sight – shapes, light-intensities, color, etc.).

[8] See Future Logic, chapter 62, for more discussion of this topic.

[9] But the question can be resolved empirically. Does a born-blind man have visual imaginations or a born-deaf man have auditory imaginations? If not, then the mental sense-modalities are ultimately side-products of the material ones. (In New Scientist, No. 2416, of 11.10.2003, p. 85, Mary Cox of the Royal National Institute of the Blind, London, UK, suggests that the born-blind cannot visualize or dream. She does not say what specific research her statement is based on.)

[10] Note that the occasional failure of memory is one proposition within this interpretative framework, to explain certain details.

[11] Why is it that we ordinarily live in a glorious or shameful past, or in a hopeful or frightening future, to the point that we lose all awareness of the present most of the time. Another, similar form of escape from the present is by transcendence in theoretical thoughts about the present. Rather than be in the present, we seem to almost automatically prefer to be out of it, in a constant stream of fantasies. This is evident in meditation, where we see that a serious effort is required to overcome this tendency. Even when we want to stay in the here and now, even when it is pleasant, we tend to fly off. Why? Phenomenology has to answer this question.

One obvious partial answer is biological. We have to anticipate the future, because we are volitional animals. We are called upon to make choices in relation to a changing environment, to protect our life and improve it. We have to remember the past, so as to avoid repeating its errors and so as to repeat the lessons learned in it. The present is interesting in both these respects, but it does not provide sufficient information. It remains true, however, that if we are unable to be fully in the present, then our past data is likely to be of equally poor quality and our future expectations also unrealistic.

Incidentally, since I consider that higher animals, at least, also have some degree of volition (though less than that of humans), I regard them as (contrary to what many people assume) not entirely locked in the present. And I think their behavior demonstrates it; e.g. our pets remember us and can anticipate some approaching events. They have this ability to see beyond the immediate moment because they too must circulate in a changing environment, etc.

[12] I say ‘seemingly’ to remind us that eyes and ears are themselves mere phenomena, so that their materiality can only be concluded by our phenomenological ordering of data, not presumed ab initio.

[13] If someone projects an imaginary star into the sky, it does not follow that his power of projection extends that far. It may go no farther than his nose, and yet ‘seem’ millions of miles away by a verbal or implicit assumption of perspective. Indeed, when we see actual stars, we do not see the stars themselves, but the light-front from them impinging on our senses, and then assume a play of perspective.

[14] All of which are reported in literature, even if experienced by few ordinary individuals. A person who has not experienced them may of course doubt their existence, but if philosophy is to be a broad-based explication, it has to accept eyewitness reports as at least possibly true.

[15] Phenomenologically, we call an entity ‘tangible’ if we experience, in the tactile mode, a feeling of solidity, i.e. pressure or tension (and usually other phenomena like texture, temperature, etc.), in the contiguous part of one’s body. One’s own body is itself considered tangible, by touching one part of it with another. Contact and shape are further ascertained and confirmed, normally by material visual experiences, or in the dark (and for blind people, I presume) by mental ones. Tangibility is also applied by extension to entities not directly touched, but interacting with touched ones, and so in principle capable of being touched. Ordinarily, an externally seen entity lacking any touch quality would be considered mere hallucination. However, some people claim that spirits (ghosts, angels, etc.), i.e. entities of a substance other than material or mental similar to that of the presumed soul of the Subject of consciousness, can be heard or seen, and (in some accounts) touched or otherwise felt. Clearly, if this were true we would have to expand and modify the present account of the phenomenal and our cognitive powers. I am sticking here to a normal viewpoint.

[16] If we allow for the existence of telepathy (which I tend to admit), I would possibly include it under this heading. For telepathy seems to be awareness to some extent of the ‘thoughts’ of others, that is their intimate mental world. If I imagine someone about to telephone me, and he does, I would interpret this not as foretelling a future or as ‘X-ray vision,’ but simply as ‘hearing’ the person’s inner voice thinking “let’s call Avi” after which I project an image of that person phoning. Thus, the mental domain might be shared to some extent. The explanation could of course be more material – perhaps we can sense electromagnetic waves emitted by others. (Some animals have receptors of electric and magnetic signals.) For this reason, I leave the issue open.

[17] The distinction is thus based on presumed substance and location. Often, we are not sure whether what we are experiencing is physiological (purely physical ‘sensations’), psychosomatic (mentally-caused physical ‘sentiments’) or mental (purely mental ‘feelings’).

[18] These distinctions are explained in my Future Logic, chapter 60.4.

[19] Though other people seem to have better powers of visualization than me judging by reports.

[20] It is interesting to note, in this context, that dreams are largely involuntary events. The Subject is present during dream as observer of them, and to a certain extent may manipulate them half-consciously, but he cannot be said to be entirely there, as when awake. So we must say that some of the images in dreams are produced by the brain without volitional interference.

[21] Presumably prophetic visions, like the very vivid ones reported by Ezekiel, count as ‘meditative’.

[22] Which is probably unjustified, considering how surprisingly weird or richly imaginative dreams sometimes are. One wonders how a person ordinarily so incapable of spinning a story or composing a painting would suddenly in sleep succeed in such artistic feats!

[23] Of course, later, Physics will explain the solidity and cohesiveness of physical entities with reference to fields of repulsion or attraction.

[24] Volition has subclasses. Intention to do is a readiness for volition, to be carried out when opportunity arises. Velleity refers to inchoate volition, a beginning of volition not (or not yet) fully carried out. Velleity occurs under various circumstances: one may be indecisive or have conflicting wills, or one’s will may be opposed by involuntary factors or tendencies. One or another force may dominate, and the losing volition is then called a velleity. These are details for Psychology to consider.

[25] Many psychological concepts intermingle the broad classes of cognition, affection and volition. For instance, imagination is volition (as well perhaps as involuntary generation) of mental objects that are then perceived. Intention refers to the purpose of volitional action, and involves some imagination of the desired (valued) goal. Volition without intention is rare, if at all possible; the existence of motiveless voluntary actions (which might be called whims, non-pejoratively) is an issue. Behavior-pattern refers to a bundle of volitions. Again, attitude refers to a predisposition to volition, implying the possession of certain values, without implying that it is currently put into action. Character-trait signifies a bundle of attitudes. And so forth. Cognition is of course a presupposition of all these concepts, at least for humans.

[26] I hesitate to coin a neologism like ‘appercepts.’

[27] It is I hope clear that what is at issue here, when we speak of a Subject, is not the body or even personality traits of the presumed Subject. The body may be a receptacle of the Subject, over which he has special privileges, but it is not part of him. Personality refers to socially visible aspects, the body, its lines and motions, superficial attributes and actions. Character traits or behavioral tendencies, in contrast, may be considered more indicative of the Subject, in that we refer by them to certain uniformities in his attitudes and volitions over time.

[28] A difficulty with the idea of self-knowledge is that it seems to require a reflexive relation. It is argued: an eye cannot see itself – so how can a Subject see himself or consciousness turn on itself? But the analogy here may be misleading – as eyes do not see anything, we see through them. A better analogy would be sensing one hand with the other hand. The soul or spirit may well be ‘divisible’, in that it can cognize a part of itself with another part (and therefore in stages all of itself)! I believe, for instance, that what we call (moral or intellectual) ‘conscience’ is precisely this: a part of each of us (big or small, depending on our personal predispositions) is reserved and assigned the regulatory task of overseeing the rest of one’s states and acts. As for consciousness, we may regard the reflexive case as signifying more precisely: consciousness of consciousness of something other than consciousness (i.e. an iterative relation).

[29] Note that it is inaccurate to use the term noumenon as equivalent to abstract (by analogy to the equation of phenomenon to concrete), as some people tend to do. The term noumenon refers to things hypothesized to exist beyond and in contradistinction (and even contradiction) to the phenomenal world, whereas abstracts are things existing in addition to and in harmony with concretes. The noumenal is a transcendental domain, claimed without justification to be ultimate reality; whereas the abstract is essentially immanent, part of our everyday reality knowable by ordinary means.

[30] I of course include here false insights or wrong logic – calling them rational is not intended as a blanket approval of all human discourse. That reason is fallible is not denied, only that it is sometimes correct and true is maintained. For to deny reason an occasional efficacy is self-contradictory, since such denial is itself attempted rational discourse.

[31] The logical insights of incredulity (negative) or conviction (positive) may be considered ‘feelings;’ but I doubt we may regard them as concrete feelings in the body or head (though they may occasionally produce sensible anxiety or satisfaction), they are rather to be classed as abstract and should be ‘objectivized’ as much as possible. In any case, it is clear that my view is far from a classical rationalism, which regards logic and feeling as opposites.

[32] And, I remind you, logically undeniable, since in the very attempt to deny them you use them and therefore contradict yourself.

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2016-08-23T09:54:02+00:00