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Saint Lucia

A Theory of the mind of the other, and consciousness.

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Edited by Daniel Frederick Best, Wednesday, 5 Oct 2022, 00:02

I would like to open this blog post with perhaps a disclaimer, that whereas I myself was once very much largely into philosophy, and loved it greatly, today and these days I cannot say the same. 

But this is not to say that I do not have philosophical thoughts. But I can now say I much prefer physics and mathematics, because these are palatable and tangible endeavours, and as such have graspable answers. With philosophy, I very much have felt that I have not had anything so tangible as an answer. Having said that, and although I have come far from such a disposition, I also once had a very secure worldview about my religious outlook, and was able to explain my views about God and so on, and so forth. 

Now, this blog post has begun for the purpose that I can explain something that has occurred to me, from considerations about consciousness, and objective thoughts, and the inner mental existence of others. That's plainly the subject matter, nothing more, nothing less. But be warned, at present, although I feel I am close to being in a state of worldview similar in strength to that of my prior religious convictions, these thoughts here are being had out loud! 

So, we begin, largely in the vein of Descartes with his 'Meditations', wherein he sought to deny everything he knew and began from a rational "island" on which he built up his philosophy, by stating some basic facts about the mind and consciousness, and about the form of objects around us. 

It is known, and seems largely true, that one of the properties of mind is that it's contents are private. The ideas that we have exist inside our minds, and they are unknown to all others. Also, the mind is inside something. This notion seems to have been outlined at least in part by Hegel, and perhaps it was known to Kant, and certainly was purported around the enlightenment period. Nevertheless, that the contents of mind are personal and private can be gleaned by empirical investigation. Yet, this only applies to subjective ideas. 

It is a mainstay of some philosophy, that in the empirical world of experience, i.e. the physical world, that objects are ideas. That is, the things around us, the ornaments, the tools, the matter, the substances, these are all inherently ideas. Objects are ideas. QED. 

Now, talking as a singular automaton, namely, a person and being in his own right, the above is plainly true - and I certainly believe it. When I have thoughts, and do not express them, I can be certain that nobody else can know of their content. In addition, when I look about my empirical universe, I can be certain that I am surrounded by ideas. These all pertain to my own consciousness, that is, my awareness of my universe.  

But in saying the above, what I have previously not been certain of, speaking as a singular automaton, is the inner mental experience of others. Hitherto, this problem has been conceived naively, by myself at least. That is, I myself have mostly taken it on trust that other people have a defined consciousness, albeit one that I find extremely difficult to imagine for myself. I find, by way of an example, that when I observe others, and I try to place myself in their own position, that is, exchanging my consciousness for theirs, my thinking breaks down. I have failed to see for myself what it is that others glean from being them! 

And in light of this personal failing, I have sought a worldview that makes sense to me. And I think I have a way of putting it so that it can make sense to others, too. 

To recap, I assume that consciousness is private and personal, and I assume that objects are ideas, and I assume there is no way of ascertaining the inner mental experience of others. 

So, subjective ideas are personal. When I think of a dog, there is no way for others to know what dog I am thinking of unless I act on the thought, by explaining it. 

But this breaks down once we consider that objects are ideas. Plainly, this is a concept that must be taught. Our intuition of "objects" is that they have a 'real existence' outside of ourselves. But these objects are ideas! How, then, can I share these ideas with other people? 

How, indeed, can I share these ideas with other people, and hence not consider myself a mind reader, or some such other mage? 

But we do share these ideas. When I show an article (some ornament or other) to a friend, we are sharing an idea. How is this possible? 

But then we realise: We do not have access to the contents of others' minds. Well, isn't that convenient? 

Nevertheless, the object does have reality. 

So, whereas I cannot be sure that others' have an internal mental experience, I can be sure that this property of mind can act as a cover for the fact that, in one or other sense, I know to an extent what is in their mind. I now come to understand that the property of mind that its contents are private, forever hidden, must go some way to explaining the fact that we can have the same idea at the same time, namely, the object in question (the ornament, the environment, the world... our hands and bodies!). 

Perhaps in some way this is a claim that somehow others can project their consciousness onto objects. But how can it be any other way? For somewhere along the line the existence of objective matter gives us more or less direct insight into the contents of others' minds. 

I am saying that whereas others' minds are historically unknowable, the existence of objective material in waking life gives us insight into the reality and existence of others' minds. 

As a caveat, I would also add, that the same cannot be said for dreaming life. When we dream we are exposed to ideas and thoughts entirely distinct from objective experience. In fact, this property is what characterises dreams in themselves! In fact, that is how we fall asleep into dreaming in the first place:- we disconnect from external life, and we drift into subjectivity, and a subjectivity that is completely shielded from waking life. It must be true! That is the difference between dreaming life and waking life. We dream, then when we wake up we know we are in reality, because we are surrounded by all the ideas that have been cultivated by our peers, our friends, our families, our counterparts, our ancestors and all those people we will never know, living or dead. The world into which we wake up is built of the objective ideas that these people have created. This is proof of the inner existence of others' minds! 

Whether all this pertains to the existence of God or not, I cannot say. But what we can ascertain from experience, the existence of God notwithstanding, is that all academic pursuit is, in one way or other, the pursuit of the endeavours of man, i.e. humans. We are the ones that have built civilisation. We are the ones that have designed the infrastructure. We are the ones who create facts - and facts can be created. 

But saying that, I admit, there is nature, and there are physical laws. There is space and time and matter and radiation and gravity. There are planets and moons and suns and stars and black holes and light. Nature, therefore, must be indistinguishable from God. And furthermore, we work in unison with God, creating and designing by his wont. 

But is humanity distinguished from God? We can say it is, by dint of our creative measures. And God would be happy about that, because we can revel in his glory. 

That is all I have to say about the matter. 


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Saint Lucia

Thoughts, snippets of dreams, and residual perceptions.

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Edited by Daniel Frederick Best, Wednesday, 7 Jul 2021, 02:33

Hello, you good?

Today I'm writing for the purpose of recreation and elation. I spent at least the last day in my overused bed, dreaming a little, and machinating a little, and although I can't recall the entire depth of every scene I imagined whilst asleep, I can remember snippets, and I want to put some down; those I can remember. 

There I am in school; and now, I recall, it was my first day of secondary. I'm sitting at the back of class, but it is not unlike the theme that I am a forty two year old gone back to relive the experience. The teacher appears to be my old history teacher, Miss Adams, and Ballard is here, and Andrews, and Alexandrou, and Alden, plus some of the girls, and there is a cupboard that was never there at the time. 

With my new attitude, or rather my current attitude, to study, this makes getting on with work an easy task. I am a swot, and I approach English work with alacrity and brightness, and it feels good to be on top of everything. 

The day continues. At one point I'm walking about the school grounds during lunchtime and, it seems, I'm quite popular. I am surrounded by students in uniform and I'm talking amongst them, and then, when the small crowd has dissipated, a girl in a younger year has soon approached me, and with a request that I help her with a situation in which a friend of hers is being bullied. It's one of those situations in which, in dream, I normally enter into a conflict, with troublemakers and (for want of a better term) more 'evil' types of people. 

These evil people appear in my dreams, as I say, as like the theme of a nightmare. These evil people torment me in dream, and I am often drawn into the depths of a crisis, which goes from scene to scene, with me myself completing each task, with a single unfinished thread that leads onto another frightful scene of terrorism. 

To revert to the younger girl's request that I help in her bullying situation, somehow or other it does not arise that I am recruited in this endeavour. Yet, the entire themed situation passes in a second and, whether this is because I am not in reality tired enough to transcend the depths of such a vocation, I fail to engage with the task. However, such a task being fully familiar to me, I consider it completed, and I walk back to class. 

And I remember that, in those days, pupils had to walk around a one way system through the corridors. And I have entered in the correct entrance, and there are pupils everywhere, and I have made my way back to class. And inside the class I continue with my English work, and although there is a modicum of the resonance of how things were when I was actually a pupil at this school, namely that I was a middling student, and this reflects in my dream's English work, there is a stronger nuance that I have finally sussed out the notion of academic diligence; I am a model pupil - at times even to the degree that Miss Adams is unprepared for me. It is nice being in this class. 

Somewhere else, in the depths of sleep, I find myself in and around the Edgware area, walking there with Eugene, with whom I have gone to eat pizza, or some other takeaway food, and there I am, with a box of soup in my hands, following Eugene around as he marches off ahead, on to some unknown destination of his desire. And as we walk, I see some young Muslim men. They are standing near a seat in the middle of the Station driveway, and I place my box down, for one reason or another, then walk away a little way, and come back to the box. I see that, in the seconds it has taken for me to do so, one of the Muslim men has gobbed in my soup. 

I can't quite believe that this has taken place, yet I did see it for my very own eyes. Somewhere, I have placed my trust in the Muslim men, and this expectation has been failed - yet I fail to quite believe in it. In any case I take the box and walk away with it, harbouring hopes that the whole incident was merely in my mind. But the Muslim men become thematic within my dream, and there are factions of the group plotted at varying spots in and around the area. In short, in the case of my box of takeaway soup, I have carried it around, and not eaten from it, and finally placed it back down on some seat or other, and fished out the offending pat, in the efforts that this might make the food good again. It doesn't, inevitably, and I have to leave the food. 

I walk around Edgware, sometimes in the wake of Eugene's marching, others having broken off to explore whatever car parks or back ends of the shopping mall that I find myself. And I see colours, and I see that I may have some or other issues with Muslim men who, in reality, I have little dealing, and perhaps I do not know them well as I should do. 

I suppose this theme, that there are unknown factions of society that I have little dealings with, is prevalent in reality as well. For example, as I sit at the coffee shop and I watch the many people attending to their daily lives, I see and think about how my own relations with the myriad of individuals passes itself on to some or other nuance of how others see and perceive their own relations with others. How, for example, does this person (yes, the bleached haired lady with the large glasses and black jeans) perceive this other person (yes, the small Asian lady waiting at the bus stop with her shopping)? I myself have witnessed the reality of such a triad of consciousness, but how has this effect been witnessed in the eyes of the perceived? Perhaps they were merely unwitting of the instance. For example, I can see across the street the frame of a young barista serving customers at seats outside her place of work; and I can see a couple with a small cockapoo walking toward her, a bit further along the road. What is their experience? I daresay it personally drives me loopy! Is there an experience in which an unwitting human is made aware of a relatively innocuous specimen, and in addition, do they think about the experience? Why does this type of thing cause such interest in me? 

Could it be the case, for example, that my own sitting here behind the keyboard, with the various objects of familiarity placed around the desk, is somehow an equivalent experience to those in which an entirely separate human, be they somewhere else entirely, on the other side of the planet, even, is embroiled in those speculations of human interest, and is engaged in entirely other situations, with their own objects of familiarity, or nuances of energetic foreboding, such as... well... anything you could think of? There is a man in India, cooking curried chicken at a restaurant, and he must serve his customers! What does the chicken smell like? What do the customers do for a living? Are they rich? What did they do this morning? What is their experience like?  

Harry Kane, the footballer. It is his time. He is England's top boy today. Wherever he may be, be he sleeping now, or sitting at the balcony of his hotel... What is his experience? And I daresay that the existence of Harry Kane is one to which my own paltry existence and experience pales in comparison. That is, Harry Kane is a God! He must be! To have that kind of energy, coupled with the mental tenacity, to keep entire nations engaged not only for the duration of a football game but also for the press conferences and all other media engagements, it is quite astonishing. I am astonished! 

But as for Gods, it is one thing that I exist as a meek schizophrenic, and another that it is a truth, that once upon a time it was possible that I could have been so much more. I have complained that medicines, i.e. medication, i.e. sulpiride, piportil, and amisulpiride, are not "God-given". Herein lies the discussion of another nuance of life, which is whether our lives are determined or not, and I hope to discover some better insight into the problem when I have studied Quantum Mechanics later this year. These latter adherents might lay claim to the possibility for there to be the cause to think that what we see as the basis of our lives is not the be all and end all of everything. Our consciousnesses could eventually be strewn across the vast expanses of the universe, and the sum total of everything that can possibly be experienced is more like the reality of our lives. Well, my life in particular is a meagre and meek thing, but that's not for want of something more. Perhaps the reality of life is that... well... God Himself needs a break! There are billions of us - billions of others, as they'd have you think - and some are running about a field, some are making curry, some are writing what is likely to be a lost blog entry, and some... some are in pain. Some are in a great deal of pain and are fearful for their own lives. That, as some would have you believe, is a reality. 

Yet, I know what pain is like. I know what discomfort is like. I know what luxury is like. I know what love is like, and I know what morality is. I know many possible examples of what it is to experience humanity. What remains is the problem and problematic conundrum of other human's lives. And not merely human lives, but those of animals, and foliage, and dare I say inanimate matter. Could the experience of everything that harbours the capability of having an experience be bound up in the solitary existence, namely mine, yours, and everything else that exists? And given that the capacity for the billions of sentient beings (orangutans in African jungles, polecats in the Alaskan tundra, bus drivers all over the world) to have their own experiences is real, could such a capacity be found, namely, discovered within the recesses of our own consciousnesses? 

This would amount, in short, to a personal investigation. I would personally wish to engender a global engagement with this investigation; that is, it seems a moot point to pursue any claims pertaining to my own experience. That is, I would rather that the entirety of humanity would engage in such an investigation. However, I can say, without qualms and without embarrassment, that my investigation is two-fold. 

One: I see nothing whatsoever within the reaches of my own sensibility that tells me there is anything whatsoever to be said for the reality of a breach of consciousness laws, be they naïvely realistic, or otherwise. That is, when I have dreamed, and have dreamed lucidly and deeply, I have had no indication that anything like a tunnelling of my "atomic consciousness", into other consciousnesses, is at all possible. That said, on paper, it seems like a viable theory, and perhaps there is something in it. Perhaps there is a grand unified theory that connects it all. The reality of it would not only be life changing, but would change the world. Yet I suspect that these things are more in the realm of a spattering of individual's interests. 

Two: All scientific and quantum mechanical speculations notwithstanding, there is a residual experience which I can lay claim to having, which is neither dream nor reality, yet is altogether cerebral. And I digress:

Do you, like I often do, ever experience that anomaly of perception in which you can spontaneously see a distant spark of light, within the midst of your visual expanse? That is, are you ever disposed (washing dishes, or brushing your teeth, etc) to witness a very strong and very miniscule spot of bright light that appears upon your retina? Said spot, spark, wisp of light, is rarely talked about. It is one of those unconscious features of perception that we forget could be of importance. What could this anomaly represent? 

In the one instance, admittedly, perhaps it is a trick of the brain; a mere hallucination. 

In a second instance, perhaps it is a hint to something that exists within us all, at a deeper level. I find that when I experience this spark, I am led to recount a previous momentary resonance in which I myself was subconsciously elsewhere. Such a perception, in this case, seems to have awoken me from a subconscious slumber, in a sense to say, "Wake up into your life!" (I find, usually, that such a perception is followed by the same kind of feeling one may have when, having once woken of a morning, trying to recount the previous night's dream, namely, a dull kind of "resistance" or blockage to an open mind, whereas the preceding sensation was one, intuitively, of pure unconscious freedom.)

In a third instance, perhaps such a bright spark of the consciousness is indicative of the possibilities of an eternally light mind. That is, could there ever be such a thing as the experience in which every atom of our consciousness - every morsel of our conscious capabilities - is finally alight with consciousness; on fire from the swathes of pure perception. I like to think the possibility a reality, and its truth would mean that it is now on the sentient being to try to find everything within their being to attain this form of conscious experience. 

It's admittedly a bit out there. But it's a nice thought. 

So, in summary, dreams never give you access to other people's minds and lives, yet we naively believe in the existence of these other lives, and indeed we attribute quite a lot that we rely on to these minds, and so the possibility of a transition of perceptions is not to be sniffed at, theoretically. Dreams never give you this access, but there are residual, latent experiences which are not mainstream experiences, but which should be brought to light, so to speak, so as to round out the capacities and possibilities of human experiences, and ones which should help shed light on modern enlightenment consciousness. 

They had one two hundred years ago, so why not today? 

Anyway, with that, I leave it there. 

Thank you,


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Saint Lucia

On a possible physics of consciousness.

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Hello, and without thinking, how are you?

I'm jumping straight in to talk about consciousness, it being something that science aspires to understand, yet has not made much headway, and I think that, being someone who possesses consciousness, I think that I can talk about it. 

I spend a great deal of time thinking about consciousness, and my favourite times are those when I am on the cusp of dropping off to sleep, when the physical world as we naively know it begins to subside into dissipation, and we enter a world of pure internalisation.

It seems we desire a theory of consciousness. I think that, in order to attain such a theory, we need to assess just what attributes the phenomenon possesses that we can all agree upon, largely in the same fashion as science has in terms of the physical world. Newton, for example, was able to conceive of laws, such as the laws of motion, to which all macroscopic objects adhere. I am sometimes astounded that we have not as yet found any laws outside of pure metaphysics that come close to describing consciousness. However, I think that this is because many of us have not tried. 

Hegel has come close to ascertaining some degree of consistency in his discussion of the internal workings of the mind (I have yet to complete a reading of his "Philosophy of Mind"). He talks about the apparent structures of the entity, and I must admit, he does a wonderful job in his introductory explanations. For example, he claims the properties of mind contain, for one thing, that of being "in" something, and in that sense, it is a private entity; that is, nobody else has access to its contents. Hegel talks about thinking in terms of an entity that is experienced as a type of string of points separated by time, and I admit, although a naively realistic assessment, it is not far from the mark. 

As an introduction to consciousness I feel it would be wise to avoid the esoteric curtailments of its description, however, I feel the following attempt in part avoids a complete reduction to such a restriction. One of consciousness's properties is that it is one. As I mention, not so esoteric, I believe, when one considers the glaring fact of its empirical evidence; that is, and from a personal perspective, consciousness can only be one in the sense in which only one person experiences it at any one time. In that sense it is true, but also on a more esoteric note, it must follow that consciousness is one in the universal sense; that is, there is nothing that I am given to experience that is solely within the confines of my own experience; that is, to reiterate, there is nothing it is like to be me that cannot be known by anyone else. It is a hard concept to grasp, but it is perfectly natural. Nagel asks: Is there anything it is like to be a bat? And I believe that, if we can mine our cognitive talents enough, we can understand that what it is like to be a bat is the same in many respects as what it is like to be ourselves, given the similarities in evolutionary survival struggles, and other such respects. Perhaps I am not being entirely clear, however, this point is a fleeting nod to the impressions left by the physical presence and worldly effects that others (in the naively traditional sense) have on us. (Am I justified in talking about an 'us'?) 

But Hegel's appropriation to the aspects of mind may give us a fruitful leg up in the approach to a definition of consciousness, that is, in the sense in which we must find common properties to it. I think that "consciousness is one" is a good approximation to such an introduction, in the flavour of what I intend to purport. 

But without messing around too much with particularities, I wish to define a second approach to something akin to an appraisal of a property of consciousness, and this relies on a cursory understanding of quantum mechanics and thermodynamics. In short, it is a physical theory, and perhaps relies, to its detriment, on an understanding of mind as a structural composition of thought. That is, thought itself is not consciousness (yet it does have connections), rather, thought is a structural component, the likes of which may or may not be similar in form to those which are common to each and every one of us. That is, it is consciousness which separates us (again, justified use of the word 'us'?), although having said that, how could I know? I am not telepathic. Yet these structures of thought, which are underpinned by consciousness, can be ascertained by experience and with skill, and skill that is a common undertaking to those with the disposition. So, momentarily, a discussion of thought. First however, I wish to illustrate a conceptual and intuitive definition of consciousness. That is - consciousness is a self-luminant observable entity. 

Consciousness is a self-luminant observable entity. Such a concept is self evident, and also it is self evident that such a self-luminant entity is an innate, that is, inner conceptual entity. To deepen the discussion, it may be necessary to state some obvious observations about this concept. 

Again, a self-luminant observable entity is innate. However, questions arise about the nature of 'inside' and 'outside', and it can be proven that a distinction can be blurred, and even switched upon its head, and also that, in light of relativistic concerns. Perhaps 'inside' and 'outside' are emergent properties? And perhaps consciousness itself is the mooting example of such a relativistic consideration. This is akin to considerations of relative size, mass, position, possession, quality, quantity, relation, place, activity, passivity and time and substance. 

A self-luminant observable entity is only attainable by the one. That is, it may only be accessed by he whom observes it, namely, it is private. In esoteric terms (forgive me!), it may be that the self-luminant observable entity (SLOE) is produced according to differences in the 'micro-evolution' of the human states of being. (Micro-evolution is merely changes to the constitution of being, which has numerable connotations, one of which I heretofore point out to be an effect of continual rejuvenation, brought about by the continuum of transference, in terms of the perceived coming to being, and dying away of external entities. A SLOE is self-luminant; it illuminates itself, and the structure of thought is the mechanism by which this occurs. 

That is why we must continue the discussion in the frame of 'thought', which appears to me to be a mechanistic structure, and can easily be defined. We may naively consider that, which we take to be thought, to be that which is an emergent property of the mind, brought about by the brain and its connections. I admit, I do not know enough about neuroscience to be sure of these following claims, but I have for many years sought to investigate the workings of thought, by introspection, and am most enamoured by science. That is, in short, the structure of thought is as geometric and logical as we can take it. One may imagine a fractal, or a network, indeed, a neural network, that is engineered to be experienced as a micro-evolution, and takes on different levels at different times of life. 

These innate neural networks can be seen to be structural by inspection. One is reminded of the physical mechanics of semiconductors, which employ the use of doping mechanisms by which lattices of configured atoms are electrically enhanced by the addition of 'holes' (doping), and these promote the flow of electrons from one part of the material to another. That is the long and short of it. Yet in terms of the structure of thinking, that is, the structure of thought, we can find a counterpart similarity. Yet here we have a subject that has not been much considered, at least in my line. 

Take a thought, and take it to be in the form of such a SLOE as we have been discussing, and call it a positive entity. This puts it in the same line as like a positive particle. In fact, electrons are the negative particles, and protons the positive, so hence we should put thought (SLOE) in the same species as a proton - yet, to be true to the physics, it is the electron which carries the charge, hence we should say that a SLOE is a negative entity. Nevertheless we experience it as a positive entity, in its self-luminant capacity. But such a SLOE is in pursuit of something which is definitely a 'missing' attribute. That is, the electron is fluid in the presence of a hole (a hole being a positive entity). Such a hole, in the manner of doping, can take the place of something akin to that which we seek to know, that is, the promise of knowledge; the gap in our knowledge; the unknowledge, or the innocence or ignorance. Yet we could not call it ignorance, nevertheless these things we seek to know are things of which we are ignorant. These entities, akin to doping holes, are really yet to be discovered. However, they act in the capacity of driving the negative entities to become a SLOE, and thus complete the mechanism. 

Hence we have innate neural networks. The properties of such a network are glaring and glaringly vast, yet as with anything, I believe they can be brought into crystallisation, and, furthermore, are common to all species of being, male or female, and so on. 

I will come to an end shortly, on this discussion of consciousness, but I leave you with the thoughts that follow. 

Consciousness, if introspection and investigation through self-examination have anything to do with it, is finely grained. That is what is so fascinating about it. That is what is so mysterious about it. The experience of the physical world, in waking life, for me personally, is a matter of light and touch, and the other senses. Yet it seems the human brain (for those who are aware of their own possession of such) is capable of storing light to be saved for such experiences as dreams, and lucid dreams, and imagination. The innate light that we possess can illuminate our unconscious experiences and, as I say, it is finely grained. That is, our dreams seem to possess such fine graining in the quality of our innate experiences, that it becomes harder and harder to appreciate that the physical world (which may be extended to synaptic and neural experiences) is quantum at all, or in other words, particulate. There remain to be had discussions of time, and space, and light, and all manner of other entities of which we may attribute the tag a limit.

For what is not a limit? 

I wish to say one last thing in this blog post. I believe that, whether or not you take into account the admittedly abstruse or inscrutable things I have said here, the goal of a true understanding of consciousness is to attain a state of universal access to a common innate entity. Perhaps our common origin (in that of the big bang) may go some way to afford this task, and perhaps the real wonder is why we have not already reached this achievement. But I would encourage people to make it a common endeavour to think deeply about the ways in which we can finally, through all our failed attempts, make a good go at finding a physics of consciousness. 

Thanks very much, 

Daniel Frederick Best, Cert He (Open).


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