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Doesn't reality require a singular consciousness?

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The way i see it, Objectivism is not the only "true" philosophy but there are others that may be possible as well.

It appears to be true that the axiom existence exists is undeniably correct. If existence did not exist, then what exactly would this mean? Nothing in reality would be different, just because we said it didn't exist.

Now Rand tells the story that existence is made up of units called existents. A man is an existent who has the attribute of consciousness, which allows him to perceive (through the use of his sense organs) the existence around him.

We are told also that consciousness cannot exist separately from existence, but that the reverse is possible. Consciousness is an attribute, and must be conscious of something, even if only that which it is an attribute of (i.e. "I am conscious of myself").

Rand makes the standard common sense argument that existence (from the ego's perspective) can be divided up into "self" and "other". Self is all the faculties under the jurisdiction of the ego. It is completely separate from the other.

It appears to my mind that there are several philosophical possibilities at this point. The nature of existence is such that it may seem on the one hand to be composed of an infinite variety of forms, which are complete and separate from one another.

But on the other hand there is a sense in which reality presents itself as a seamless whole. Existents are no more separate from existence than a drop is separate from the ocean. The many are merely particles of the One.

But is this inconsistent with the facts presented by objectivism? I submit that it is not. For we realise that existence is sub-divided into existents only by the human mind, which does so out of conceptual convenience. In accordance with Rand's observations, we see that consciousness is an attribute of existence.

Would not a unified, absolute reality have as its attribute a singular, unitary consciousness?

Nevertheless such a conscious totality, may in the course of its evolutionary action, subjectify itself, atomise itself into a series of ego-perspectives. Like a wave storming across the ocean, these "selves" have their own separate existence while at the same time being an extension of, and ultimately caused by, the Reality of which they are a manifestation.

We see Man thus as a microcosm of Existence. Man, the existent, is conscious of himself just as Reality is Conscious of Itself.

I find this to be an interesting variation on the objectivist ideas, and look forward to hearty and intelligent discussion on this matter.

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You're not going to get any hearty and intelligent discussion on this matter, because this matter is completely arbitrary. Instead you're going to get an outright rejection and a look-at from the admins.

You are starting from a primacy of consciousness epistemology, decidedly not an Objectivist idea. You hypothesize a nonexistent into existence. I could just as easily say "what if?" and hypothesize pink, winged, one-horned magical flying little horsies into existence.

Your proposition is no more worthy of consideration than mine is, and both are to be dismissed without a glance.

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Well, I'm not going to dismiss you out of hand simply because you've made an error.

I assume that you accept the metaphysical axiom that Existence Exists; at least, that is what I infer from what you wrote. Quoting from Galt's speech in Atlas Shrugged:

"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."

There is a third axiom implicit in the first two. It is the Law of Identity -- and this is where you make a fundamental error. The Law of Identity states that to be is to be something, to have a nature, to possess identity. Aristotle said it first, "A is A." Quoting further from Atlas:

"Whatever you choose to consider, be it an object, an attribute or an action, the law of identity remains the same. A leaf cannot be a stone at the same time, it cannot be all red and all green at the same time, it cannot freeze and burn at the same time. A is A. Or, if you wish it stated in simpler language: You cannot have your cake and eat it, too."

According to Miss Rand, you cannot separate existence from identity. Existence is identity. Consciousness is part of the identity of the individual existent, man. Notice that I said man, not men. Each man is a separate existent -- an individual in a specific species. While the attribute of consciousness applies to all normal human beings, it is an attribute that belongs to each individual existent in the species. There is no such metaphysical existent of a collective mind. There is no "The One" in this context. We are all a part of the metaphysical universe, but we have a speciic identity within that universe. You may not simply make up the metaphor of drops of water in an ocean and apply it to man. This does not identify man in reality. Metaphysically, man qua man is an individual existent; he isn't merely an example of some Platonic form or an amorphous blob.

You must stay true to reality. You do not perceive any kind of "The One." You perceive individual entities first and foremost. Feldblum is right when he says that you are making a baseless assertion. It is an epistemological assertion, claiming primacy of consciousness. It ignores all three axioms at the very beginning, gives primacy to the flights of fancy of your own consciousness and applies that fancy to existence itself. I.e., you are giving primacy to your own consciousness.

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"Existents are no more separate from existence than a drop is separate from the ocean."

That encapsulates all the errors of your idea.

When you speak of drops of water and oceans, you are comparing physical entities, whereas when you compare existents and existence, you are comparing physical entities to an abstraction, a concept. The concept of "existence" necessarily subsumes all "existents" - that's why you can't "seperate" them.

Also, your observations about water are mistaken. A "drop" of water is, indeed, completely seperate from an ocean, that is precisely what makes it a *drop* of water. There are no "drops" of water IN an ocean. There is no such thing as a drop of water until a tiny amount of water is seperated from a larger body of water - only then is even the idea of a "drop" of water possible.

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about the what if's...

reality is based on a human's perception. if i believed that pink was blue, then no matter what people say, it would be blue to me. the individual mind has the ability to create whatever reality they choose.

sometimes you can make yourself believe that there are pink flying horsies. then again most people have Reason, which denies them the ability to think of such things.

Metaphysicist, it seems as if you are against Objectivism. I don't know why, I just have this feeling. You compared a body of water to a system of collectivism? I don't quite get it. A drop of water is just as seperate as a person. Do you believe in altruism?

Please forgive me if i make no sense...I'm new to the forums and am just getting used to it all.

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Nevertheless such a conscious totality, may in the course of its evolutionary action, subjectify itself, atomise itself into a series of ego-perspectives.

LOL Sorry for laughing, but you make so little sense and you seem to take it so seriously it's actually funny.

I don't know why, I just have this feeling.

You're new to this forum all right. :)

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For we realise that existence is sub-divided into existents only by the human mind, which does so out of conceptual convenience.

Wow. So reality is only the way it seems to be--to me--because it is more convenient for my little brain to perceive things in such a manner?

Is it any wonder you've incurred such wrath on this forum?

Please, please don't say that human beings only seem to be individuals seperate from a "single consciousness" (a collective consciousness) because their pathetic, bothersome little ego-hallucinations require such an illusion to continue on. And pretty please, if you must say it, don't say it under the banner of Objectivism.

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Amor, "reality is based on a human's perception" encapsulates all the errors you make, to borrow Charles T.'s phrase. In reality the diametric opposite obtains: a humans perception is based on reality. The individual mind has the ability to blank out reality, or to fantasize and use imagination (fun & healthy), but it does not have the ability to create reality in any way whatsoever.

oldsalt, I have this funny feeling that when somebody says, "hey lets play pretend now with Objectivist principles," he means what he says. I can see no way, besides willful irrationality, to assert objective metaphysics and epistemology, and then all but to assert transcendentalism. This same does not apply to Vernunft, since he does not start with objective metaphysics and epistemology. One claim is, "reality is primary and consciousness is primary"; the other is, "consciousness is primary." The former is not possible to deal with, to talk to; the latter is.

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feldblum: I know what you're saying. I've had 30 years of argument with such people. If I were face to face with this person, I'd snicker, ask him if he still plays with blocks, and walk away. I've had the same conversation so many, many times it is just a bore.

However, I engaged in the debate because this is a forum and others may read what I'm saying. Not everyone is at the same level of knowledge and understanding. What we say reaches, and I hope stimulates, others to think about what is being said. I'm not concerned about this person's psychology. Until he or she becomes an obvious and disruptive troll, I'll try to answer.

Besides, all of this is sharpening my own very dull abilities, so I do this for my own personal reasons. I've already learned new things, and been taught new twists to what I already know. (See, an old dog CAN learn new tricks!) That's ample payment for my efforts and the question of good faith by any one person doesn't concern me.

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Thank you all for this interesting discussion.

"If there are not' date=' in fact, separate existents, why would it be convenient to view them as separate? In other words: how can it be useful to be deceived?"[/quote']

If the universe is a single entity, as i am postulating, then for it to manifest Itself into a variety of forms would be like playing "hide and seek", where it pretends to be a whole lot of different beings at the same time until each part re-discovers its fundamental nature.

Why is it useful to be deceived? It may not be useful at all, but unfortunately people are liable to become ignorant. During the recent period of white expansion, colonists using the Linnean system of natural classification used to divide Man arbitrarily into races, which were said to be discrete natural units that had a real existence outside their own minds. This in fact wasn't the case, because races have no objective identity.

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Aside from being evasive what exactly is the point here Metaphysicist? I just wasted 10 minutes reading this thread and I'm inclined to ignore anything further that has you name attached to it. Either say something to change my mind or go somewhere else because its not "flying" so far.

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amorparatodavida: Metaphysicist has in interesting trick... he twists his concepts in a way that makes it hard to see the flaw in them. He implies a lot of things which are true--existence contains all that which exists, consciousness contains all that which is conscious, etc...--he then defends his claims with these truths when questioned.

His flaw lies, not in his premises, but his conclusion. He says that, because we may consider all consciousness at once, that group consciousness has control of each individual consciousness. The fact is, the ocean is merely a convenient way of viewing a large group of water molecules at once... just as water molecules are merely a convenient way of viewing a collection of protons, neutrons and electrons. Each molecule of water in an ocean does its own thing; it acts according to its nature weather it is singled out in a lab, or in an ocean.

The ocean is a bad analogy though, since it is a physical object and the discussion is actually about concepts, particularly: a state, an attribute. To translate Metaphysicist’s claim into another attribute: blueness (or 'the one blue') is an object, and all blue things are a part of blueness; we only see separate blue objects because we are ignorant. Surely you can see the absurdity of this, and see how replacing "blue" with "consciousness" changes nothing.

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His flaw lies, not in his premises, but his conclusion.  He says that, because we may consider all consciousness at once, that group consciousness has control of each individual consciousness.  The fact is, the ocean is merely a convenient way of viewing a large group of water molecules at once... just as water molecules are merely a convenient way of viewing a collection of protons, neutrons and electrons.  Each molecule of water in an ocean does its own thing; it acts according to its nature weather it is singled out in a lab, or in an ocean. 

The ocean is a bad analogy though, since it is a physical object and the discussion is actually about concepts, particularly: a state, an attribute.  To translate Metaphysicist’s claim into another attribute: blueness (or 'the one blue') is an object, and all blue things are a part of blueness; we only see separate blue objects because we are ignorant.  Surely you can see the absurdity of this, and see how replacing "blue" with "consciousness" changes nothing.

That's not quite what i'm saying.

What i'm proposing is that Existence has an identity. It's constituent parts, existents, also have identities. (Although there is no fixed number of identities, given that any object can be sub-divided infinitely).

Why does Existence have an identity? Because anything that exists must have an identity. Existence is not merely an abstraction, it is a set of real phenomena.

Some existents have the attribute of consciousness.

Even when only one part of X has an attribute, that attribute can be said to be an attribute of X as a whole.

Therefore Existence is Conscious.

As mere "individuals" within this potentially infinite superstructure, how can we pretend to know the exact distribution of Consciousness?

We can look at an insect and see that its consciousness (if it has any, which i'll leave as an open question) is so minute that human beings appear as gods before it.

Our reason tells us that consciousness has something to do with complexity of organisation. The molecules of the human being are arranged in such a way that he can perceive, think and imagine far above the level of the lower animal races.

The universe is surely the most complex system that we can perceive. Is it not then possible, at least theoretically, that this sytem possesses a consciousness of its own? It is after all, a highly organised arrangement of particles which possesses an identity.

It's at least worth considering.

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