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I have recently been looking into Objectivism (along with other philosophies), having recently realised that all of my beliefs untill then were based on unverified assumptions. I understand and accept the argument that one cannot be conscious of nothing or of one's own thoughts, which depend on consciousness, but I don't see how this necessarily invalidates the claim that one can be conscious of one's own emotions or feelings, since emotion is not dependent on consciousness (I mean that it is a feeling, which one is aware of, not awareness itself). How would an Objectivist respond to that? And if it is true, wouldn't it mean that the external world need not necessarily exist as one can be conscious purely of the contents of one's own mind?

Thanks to anyone who can answer this.

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I have recently been looking into Objectivism (along with other philosophies), having recently realised that all of my beliefs untill then were based on unverified assumptions. I understand and accept the argument that one cannot be conscious of nothing or of one's own thoughts, which depend on consciousness, but I don't see how this necessarily invalidates the claim that one can be conscious of one's own emotions or feelings, since emotion is not dependent on consciousness (I mean that it is a feeling, which one is aware of, not awareness itself). How would an Objectivist respond to that? And if it is true, wouldn't it mean that the external world need not necessarily exist as one can be conscious purely of the contents of one's own mind?

Thanks to anyone who can answer this.

One can and should be conscious of one's own emotions and feelings. But how do you make the leap from this to saying the external world does not really exist? To be conscious is to be conscious of SOMETHING. I don't understand the distinction you are making between thoughts and feelings. They are both aspects of consciousness. They are both reactions to things going on in the world, the "external" world in which you are conscious (there is really only one world, "inner world" being only a descriptive metaphor we've invented to describe our subjective experience).

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I have recently been looking into Objectivism (along with other philosophies), having recently realised that all of my beliefs untill then were based on unverified assumptions. I understand and accept the argument that one cannot be conscious of nothing or of one's own thoughts, which depend on consciousness, but I don't see how this necessarily invalidates the claim that one can be conscious of one's own emotions or feelings, since emotion is not dependent on consciousness (I mean that it is a feeling, which one is aware of, not awareness itself). How would an Objectivist respond to that? And if it is true, wouldn't it mean that the external world need not necessarily exist as one can be conscious purely of the contents of one's own mind?

Thanks to anyone who can answer this.

Not sure what you're asking. Are you asking if one can be conscious of "nothing but" one's own emotions or feelings? As worded, of course we can be conscious of our own feelings. Who made the claim we can not be so aware? Emotions do not consist purely of conscious material. Emotions have a physical basis, a basis in consciousness, and in awareness of reality.

Also, you've misformulated the issue with respect to being conscious of nothing or of one's own thoughts. The principle of the primacy of existence holds that one cannot be conscious of aspects of consciousness prior to awareness of the existence of an external world. Awareness presupposes awareness of something. One cannot be conscious only of consciousness. When you think about your thoughts, you are conscious of the content of the thoughts. I can be conscious of nothing simply by closing my eyes or going into a pitch dark room where no light enters. (Although this literally is not consciousness of nothing, as I have other senses besides sight.)

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I understand and accept the argument that one cannot be conscious of nothing or of one's own thoughts, which depend on consciousness,
I do not see how one can not be aware of one's own thoughts. So there's that little matter that neds to be cleaned up.
but I don't see how this necessarily invalidates the claim that one can be conscious of one's own emotions or feelings,
No, it wouldn't.
since emotion is not dependent on consciousness
Oops, there's a "not" that shouldn't be in there.
(I mean that it is a feeling, which one is aware of, not awareness itself).
Awareness is active whereas perception (which is what consciousness is about) is automatic. Also, note that is X is not the same as Y, X can still depend on Y.
And if it is true, wouldn't it mean that the external world need not necessarily exist as one can be conscious purely of the contents of one's own mind?
What do you mean by "necessarily"? If John is in fact dead, then John is, necessarily, dead. There's surely no serious question as to whether the perceivable universe exists; I mean, you can see it and and touch it. You can't even ask the question without presupposing that it is true that the external world exists. (Probably, what's hardest to grasp is the nature of those presuppositions). Have you read "Galt's Speech"?
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I have recently been looking into Objectivism (along with other philosophies), having recently realised that all of my beliefs untill then were based on unverified assumptions. I understand and accept the argument that one cannot be conscious of nothing or of one's own thoughts, which depend on consciousness, but I don't see how this necessarily invalidates the claim that one can be conscious of one's own emotions or feelings, since emotion is not dependent on consciousness (I mean that it is a feeling, which one is aware of, not awareness itself). How would an Objectivist respond to that? And if it is true, wouldn't it mean that the external world need not necessarily exist as one can be conscious purely of the contents of one's own mind?

Thanks to anyone who can answer this.

Why do you accept the argument "that one cannot be conscious of nothing or of one's own thoughts"? It sounds like you have misinterpreted the following passage:

Existence exists—and the act of grasping that statement implies two corollary axioms: that something exists which one perceives and that one exists possessing consciousness, consciousness being the faculty of perceiving that which exists.

If nothing exists, there can be no consciousness: a consciousness with nothing to be conscious of is a contradiction in terms. A consciousness conscious of nothing but itself is a contradiction in terms: before it could identify itself as consciousness, it had to be conscious of something. If that which you claim to perceive does not exist, what you possess is not consciousness.

That does not say one cannot be concious of one's own thoughts, but that consciousness cannot be conscious of only its own thought. Consciousness does not create all of its own content, it is necessarily dependent on external input to get started. Once a mind has a lot of experience in being conscious of things, it can then note similarities and differences among its own thoughts and behaviors to achieve self-consciousness of its own awareness, contents and methods. The point of the passage is to establish that reality comes first. It is a refutation of Descartes' famous maxim "Cogito, ergo sum" (I think, therefore I am.) which is the assumption of the prior certainty of consciousness. Ayn Rand characterizes the two philosophical starting points as the primacy of existence and the primacy of consciousness.

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I have recently been looking into Objectivism (along with other philosophies), having recently realised that all of my beliefs untill then were based on unverified assumptions.

Objectivism states the validation for the axiomatic concepts it is based upon. Leonard Peikoff does a nice job in his book "Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand" starting with metaphysics and working up through epistemology and so forth.

I understand and accept the argument that one cannot be conscious of nothing or of one's own thoughts, which depend on consciousness, but I don't see how this necessarily invalidates the claim that one can be conscious of one's own emotions or feelings, since emotion is not dependent on consciousness (I mean that it is a feeling, which one is aware of, not awareness itself).

Consciousness is one of the three primary axioms. It is consciousness which permits you to be aware via extrospection, of the world around you, via introspection of your own thought and emotions. Emotion, however, is dependent on consciousness. If you were not conscious, a emotion cannot occur for you. Awareness is dependent on consciousness, once again, consciousness being the faculty of awareness. In order to be aware that one is aware presupposes that one is conscious, and therfore can be conscious that one is conscious of being conscious.

How would an Objectivist respond to that?

Ask some Objectivists, and observe their responses.

And if it is true, wouldn't it mean that the external world need not necessarily exist as one can be conscious purely of the contents of one's own mind?

To be conscious, is to be conscious of something. A consciousness conscious of nothing but itself, per Miss Rand, is a contradiction in terms. The contents of one's own mind come from the external world, i.e.: existence - and lays the groundwork for coming to the conclusion of the primacy of existence. This means that existence exists, first and foremost, and then, because existence exists, can a consciousness be aware of it.

Thanks to anyone who can answer this.

If this helped to shed any insight to your questions, you're most certainly welcome.

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Thanks for your responses.

I think that my confusion arose from failing to distinguish consciousness from awareness and that this lead to assuming emotion could exist independently of consciousness, but I see where I went wrong. So, I would be right in saying that emotion has to be percieved to be known and so depends on consciousness, and so consciousness can only become conscious by percieving external phenomena?

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Thanks for your responses.

I think that my confusion arose from failing to distinguish consciousness from awareness and that this lead to assuming emotion could exist independently of consciousness, but I see where I went wrong. So, I would be right in saying that emotion has to be percieved to be known and so depends on consciousness, and so consciousness can only become conscious by percieving external phenomena?

The external phenomena, existence exists. Some existents, animals and humans a conscious beings. Human beings are conscious of the external world ,via extrospection - or looking outward, as well as the of their state of consciousness, via introspection - or contemplating inward. Biology has not discovered as of yet the what consciousness is, as physics has not yet provided a definition of matter. Neither of these are the province of philosophy. Philosophy strength lies in 'how do we know, and how do we know that what we know'. Consciousness, like existence, is a primary axiom of philosophy, in that it lies at the base, root, or foundation as irreducible, that is they cannot be broken down any further. They simply are.

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There's surely no serious question as to whether the perceivable universe exists; I mean, you can see it and and touch it. You can't even ask the question without presupposing that it is true that the external world exists.

Could a person that has been sedated (unconscionable experiment, but for the sake of argument) all their life and never recieved sensory input have the ability to dream?

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Could a person that has been sedated (unconscionable experiment, but for the sake of argument) all their life and never recieved sensory input have the ability to dream?

How can one imagine or dream something if their mind is absent of any content? Sensations and percepts are necessary to form concepts and abstractions. Without those, you wouldn't have anything TO imagine in the first place.

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Could a person that has been sedated (unconscionable experiment, but for the sake of argument) all their life and never recieved sensory input have the ability to dream?
The question is whether they could have the ability to not dream. I suspect that you've described an impossible experiment (not just immoral), that the person would die. There is a major difference between being sedated and receiving no sensory input, and I doubt the latter is possible. In this sci-fi experiment, there wouldn't be any difference between "being awake" and "dreaming". There would be nothing to build dreams out of.
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Let's assume they're sedated inside a sensory deprivation tank. I'd lean toward what Eiuol states in his reply. It pertains to the OP's question "...wouldn't it mean that the external world need not necessarily exist as one can be conscious purely of the contents of one's own mind?"

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Could a person that has been sedated (unconscionable experiment, but for the sake of argument) all their life and never recieved sensory input have the ability to dream?

This makes use of so many stolen concepts it hard to know where to begin. A dream is an process that occurs in consciousness which requires sensory input and awareness of external reality. A dream is distinguished from awareness of reality by introspection which functions by receiving sensory input from external reality. A consciousness without sensory input literally means a consciousness without a means of awareness: a contradiction. The "person" would not possess consciousness if he never received sensory input. Thus no dreams are possible. Does such an experiment include inside the womb? The fetus is receiving sensory input and has some degree of consciousness. I believe that fetuses do dream.

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Can a question make use of stolen concepts? I can see how a positive statement would do so. My question was aimed at producing the kind of reply you provided, AisA. Thank you.

Of course. If the question uses a concept, like 'dream', which depends upon sensory awareness and consciousness and reality, but impies there is a legitimate use of the term without sensory input, then I'd say the concept is stolen.

Well, I hope "my kind of reply" was helpful to your understanding and that your goal was not to just get a reply. I'm not Pavlov's dog, if you understand my meaning.

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It's quite simple. My view was that dreams aren't possible without first having had sensory input. You confirmed that view. :)

I don't see how my question implied dreaming was possible without such, though, since I was asking if it is.

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It's quite simple. My view was that dreams aren't possible without first having had sensory input. You confirmed that view. :)

I don't see how my question implied dreaming was possible without such, though, since I was asking if it is.

As Francisco stated in Atlas Shrugged: "James, you ought to discover some day that words have an exact meaning."

Edited by dream_weaver
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That doesn't explain it to me. Are you saying that my question was inherently a statement? I know that questions can contain statements in the form of premises, but as far as I can tell I didn't have any regarding dreams without prior sensory input.

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It's quite simple. My view was that dreams aren't possible without first having had sensory input. You confirmed that view. :)

I don't see how my question implied dreaming was possible without such, though, since I was asking if it is.

Am I mistaken or did you not ask, "Could a person that has been sedated (unconscionable experiment, but for the sake of argument) all their life and never recieved sensory input have the ability to dream?" Does this not imply that a person who never had sensory input might have the ability to dream?

I'm glad I answered your question to your satisfaction, but I was also pointing out that the question clearly contains the implication of the possibility of dreaming without any sensory input. You don't think that implication is there?

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That doesn't explain it to me. Are you saying that my question was inherently a statement? I know that questions can contain statements in the form of premises, but as far as I can tell I didn't have any regarding dreams without prior sensory input.

What is your view of stolen concepts? Why wouldn't it apply to questions?

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Am I mistaken or did you not ask, "Could a person that has been sedated (unconscionable experiment, but for the sake of argument) all their life and never recieved sensory input have the ability to dream?" Does this not imply that a person who never had sensory input might have the ability to dream?

It was an attempt to illustrate the view that a consciousness can be conscious of nothing but itself. I think we've shown that to be false.

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