The previous article understandably warrants an explanation of the observer’s physical form, and how it can be rendered rationally distinct from the Self of the observer (i.e. Man qua Man/the Individual qua the Individual—the state of singular consciousness).
[Note: Assume that a reference to the observer is a reference to man…as opposed to God, who indeed may be considered an observer, but who possesses his own unique metaphysical characteristics which aren’t particularly relevant to this article.]
The body, though I submit is corollary to the Self, is not ostensibly absolute, but rather empirical…that is, observable, where the Self is not, because nothing absolute can be observed, only reasoned. (The Self certainly can be proven to exist, but not by using an empirical standard, but rather a philosophical one.). The observer’s body clearly exists, but is not absolute; it is relative to other bodies and objects. The Self, however, being absolute, is not relative. It is constant. And thus, here I have already asserted some of the differences between the Self and the body which belongs to and empirically represents the Self in the environment (i.e. the universe on the whole).
Again, the Self is absolute, having no empirical form…no physical beginning or end. The human body we can observe as being born and dying—as beginning in a specifically and empirically defined form and likewise ending. Though we may speak of “ourselves” as one and the same with our bodies in common parlance, and as being born and later dying; as coming into existence and leaving it; as not being, then being, then not being, again, the philosophical truth is that the Self—that absolute essence of man BY WHICH the distinction between “I” and “other/everything else” can be made in order that the universe and the reality therein may be referenced TO a CONSTANT—contains NO frame of reference for a beginning and/or an end; a birth and a death; not being, being, and then being again. And further, we must include one’s body as part of the “everything else” which is distinct from the absolute singularity of the Self. To me, the proof of the spirit/body, or consciousness/body, or mind/body dichotomy is the empirical reality of the body as an object which is relative to other bodies and other objects, and the necessity of a Constant so that those objects, including the body, which absent the Self are utterly relative, can be referenced and therefore defined. That is, be given their own specific reality and existence by being NAMED according to the observer, whose essence is the Self.
Neither one’s birth nor one’s death can be experienced, because one who IS, according to his essential absolute Self, possesses no frame of reference for NOT IS. BEING, itself, at its root, cannot experience NOT BEING. What IS cannot transition to or from an IS NOT. We claim that we are born and therefore must die (where “we”, or “I”, is most commonly made the equivalent of the body instead of the Self) because these things are observed empirically, as though empiricism is the plumb line for truth, instead of reason. Yet none of us can know birth or death—that is, BEING as a function of the ABSENCE of BEING—except by second hand observation, and cannot EVER experience the absence of being because we simply have no frame of reference for it. It is infinitely beyond our existential capacity to know. Ironically to some degree, birth and death do not technically meet the definition of “empirical” because there can be no DIRECT observation nor experience of them; they cannot physically/experientially EXIST to us. And yet we speak of them as though they are indisputably a matter of fact, even though they cannot be proven true by any rationally consistent STANDARD of fact. They are neither empirical nor are they essentially rational. They are abstract notions that are useful in some superficial contexts, but they are not in any way absolute truth.
Man simply cannot claim the reality of his existence in an unaware state, because it is only by awareness that he can make any claim at all. There is no such thing as pre or post conscious man. “Man” by any rational physical or philosophical definition, even using the “objective empiricism” of science, implies OBSERVATION, period. Man is categorically the observer in his essence, never the observed. He is therefore not a thing of science, but the author of it.
Unconscious natural laws cannot beget man’s mind…his consciousness, for the simple reason that they do have any frame of reference for it. Consciousness has no meaning to that which is entirely unconscious—these laws cannot create what is mutually exclusive of them. Further, in such a case, where man’s mind is a function of natural law, man could never devise any notions like “birth” or “death” because he, being a function of the absolute and INFINITE process of natural law, could not concieve of anything like an ENDING to what IS—that is, his own essence….his Self. Perpetual natural law must create only that which possesses its own perpetual frame of reference. For man to thus even THINK (his thinking a product natural law according to science) about a beginning or an end to himself contradicts the very root of the INFINITE and ABSOLUTE processes of natural law.
However, the Consciousness, or the conscious Self, CAN create the ABSTRACTION of natural law, because it—that is, the Self, that is, the observer—serves as the reference for the otherwise utterly relative objects in the environment which he observes. And by his infinite conscious reference, he can create any concept he likes to describe this environment, even a “beginning” or an “ending”, because this is precisely what the Self, being the source of conceptualization and consciousness, DOES. It abstracts, giving meaning and purpose to the otherwise purposeless, meaningless, and utterly RELATIVE environment in which its body resides.
The meaning and purpose of all things is a product of conceptualization…indeed, the declaration that a thing IS is a product of conceptualization. This ability of man, unique to him amongst all living things, is why he claims consciousness. The ability to conceptualize, which I submit is the fundamental essence of man’s identity, declares what IS, and thus declares what IS DOES, including “being unconscious”.
Consciousness implies the ability to conceptualize (and vice versa), and conceptualization, in order to be relevant and meaningful, implies reason, which is simply the non-contradictory integration and combination of concepts in order to form TRULY meaningful ideas. And it is from reason then that we get truth, which is the rational definition of what IS and what IT DOES. From truth we get ethics. Ethics is simply the designation of what IS and what IS DOES in terms of meaning—meaning at root implying morality, which is the purview of ethics. Another way of saying this is that ethics describes the essential MEANING of what IS and what IS DOES.
Which begs the question: Means to whom?
And thus what we are really asking is: What is the MEANINGFUL reference for the TRUTH of those things which are said to exist? In other words, who makes truth true and meaningful? Moreover, assuming that science declares objective truths regarding nature, to whom does it owe its objectivity and its truthfulness? By what reference is the reality it describes rationally and meaningfully real?
The answer is the observer. And the observer is I. It is You and Me. It is the Self. Man qua man.
10 thoughts on “Man’s Identity is Not a Matter of Science (PART 2)”
This is good! It makes my head hurt.
There must be another “self” outside of me that continues to observe me while I am not conscious. Otherwise, I would not be able to return to reality when I fell asleep. Is this correct?
It’s not possible to have a Self outside one’s Self. And I wouldn’t categorize being awake as “returning to reality”. Since sleeping is a manifestation of reality.
Not to be too abstruse, but knowing that you’ve been asleep is a function of being awake…that is, consciousness always and absolutely describes unconsciousness, never the other way around. So far no one that I have ever engaged has successfully refuted my assertion that only by being conscious can we assert that unconsciousness, be it death or sleep, is some kind of root existential characteristic of man. This makes consciousness a metaphysical foundation of man, and absolutely so. Consciousness and unconsciousness are not corollary aspects of man’s metaphysical root.
The knowledge that we did not exist before we were born is something that we can only know AFTER having been born. Meaning, we have utterly NO frame of reference for “before we were born”, so by what logic do we claim that “before we were born” ever ACTUALLY existed? Other people may observe our bodies as being born and dying, but OUR perspective is entirely from the frame of reference of not our bodies but our Self. I think this also works for sleeping.
Got it. Self is different from “Body”. I agree with that.
I also agree that unconsciousness is essentially a matter of faith. We don’t know unconsciousness exists except by considering it consciously. So would you say we “cease to exist” when we fall asleep?
No, I wouldn’t say that. I’d say we fall asleep when we fall asleep.
If we were examining “unconsciousness” from a philosophical perspective, I would say that it is something which we cannot actually experience; and since we can only ever discuss unconsciousness from a second-hand perspective, we cannot consider it to be something which describes or is a component of man qua man. That is, of man’s fundamental (existential, if you please) identity.
It’s fascinating to think about unconsciousness as something we never experience. We spend a significant amount of our lives doing something that we can’t personally verify that we do.
I also would not describe unconsciousness as a matter of faith. Faith is not something I find particularly useful wrt my philosophy. I mean, I believe in truth that isn’t necessarily empirical, but I don’t call believing in THAT truth “faith”, though I guess you could. I just call it reason.
Right. VERY fascinating. Agreed.
Faith it the word I use when I can’t give a reason. Obviously, there is no “reasoning” taking place when we’re unconscious. Dreams are full of experiences that can’t happen when we’re conscious but we don’t KNOW this while we’re dreaming. There is no difference, from the perspective of self, between dreamed experiences and conscious experience. We call conscious experience “reality” because those are the experiences we can corroborate with other people.
Have you guys ever had a sleep study? It’s amazing the brain activity. Not saying this proves anything about consciousness or self but that our minds are engaged.
No. Sure haven’t.