Wednesday, November 15, 2017

How sensible was Kant's the 'things in itself' dilemma?

Note: Below is a chapter-extract from part-2 of Author book, Is Reason a sense-organ? A super-mind above the known mind?( Amazon.com, pages 41-44)



The thing 'in itself' dilemma  
Kant's famous differentiation of an object of the senses as mere phenomena, and as a thing 'in itself', was a brilliant observation!  But there are two possible meanings or dimension to the ‘in itself’ status of an object. It would be interesting to probe to understand in what sense the great philosopher had meant it:

1) In the sense of what the 'object' thinks of itself, in contrast to what the subject's objective impression is about it. For example, when I look at a crow on a tree, I may feel that what the crow thinks of itself would be the 'in itself' reality about this creature, than what subjective impression I gather about this object (However, we should limit applying this 'sense' for living beings only as we have no knowledge as to whether a stone or a table has such a self-conscious dimension about themselves! ‘What really is life?’ is yet to be understood fully in the scientific sense).

2) What the object is, in God's mind, or in Nature’s scheme of existence.
If we consider the first sense, we will be required to answer a basic question: Can all objects claim a clear consciousness about itself, as to what they are physically, metaphysically or spiritually? Though what I think of myself would be unimaginably different from what my onlooker subject would think of me, as part of the phenomena around him, I can never claim that what I think of myself is the ‘in itself’ reality about me! This is chiefly because my conceptualization of me can never be other than an objective one, i.e. ‘Me as an external object before me!’ Because I have no other known organ than my mind to know of myself! Hence, even when I maintain an independent subjective world, usually un-penetrable by any third party in its totality, it cannot be considered as my 'in itself' reality. Although in my mind, it is a phenomenal ‘me’.

The same law can confidently be applied to all other kinds of objects. The self-knowledge of no object in existence could be treated as their ‘in-itself’ reality because such knowledge too cannot be outside the barrier of PHENOMENA.

Furthermore, in our new study, we would also want to completely rule out the 2nd dimension of the sense in which 'in itself' was meant i.e. as God had meant it to be. The explanation given below shows why God might not have kept any 'in itself' status for any object, as He wanted the reality of objects to evolve in the process of life, in the subject-object interactions, instead of allocating a permanent, unchangeable identity.
Moreover, by all the logic possible for man, by all the sense of reason he possesses, he could safely presume that 'a thing in itself' could be the one and only original source of existence. It could only have self-consciousness about who he is, or what he is. The rest of the existence can only have 'synthetic' reality, as in the case of ‘Ego’. But how could such synthetic entities break away from the catch of phenomena and have glimpses of their original relation with the one and only 'in itself' reality? The answer to this question is explained in the forthcoming portions. It seems, in all possibility that Kant had meant the 'in itself’ dimension in the second sense only, as God had defined the objects. We will see this dimension of the 'in itself' reality of the objects, a bit more in detail and from a different perspective below:


Every object of the sense is devised for the onlooker?

The reality of each object is, it seems, predominantly 'other' oriented. Each object's reality is the objective reality that the perceiving 'subject' provides to it. (Fichte had touched this kind of a thought while criticizing Kant's original term) What the object thinks of itself, whether it is a living object like an animal, or a plant, or an inorganic object like a stone, is irrelevant in the real world of mutual interaction.

Somebody parts of man, as well as animals, (especially the reproductively related organs), are designed and located at such places that, one cannot even see them properly and fully in one's own body! Such organs are, it seems, expected to be seen only by the on looking others! It seems to have been designed by nature exclusively for the on looking subjects. Experience buds in such onlooker subjects are also designed in such a way that, upon seeing, or touching such organs, it makes sense of it instantly, and nature arouses them for the designed action or interaction, say in the act of love making, or if the object is a baby- sucking mothers milk, or if the subject is a predator, hunting down the prey. The beauty of a flower is obviously meant for the honey seeking bees, and butterflies!

In short, no object is a stand alone entity in itself, but a potential piece of existential FLUX, ready to be identified the way its waiting subjects want to mould it! 

It is logically difficult to presume that God might have kept a secret 'in itself' reality for both the objects- here in the world of phenomena, one subject and the other object or both as subjects, and as far as the 'other' in front of both the parties are objects for each other. In other words, no object in the world can be termed an 'OBJECT' forever, as, when it initiates an interaction with another object, it suddenly alters its status as a SUBJECT, who looks at the other with its objective eyes. As said earlier, we can confidently apply these norms to living subjects and objects (man, animals and plants) though we do not know for sure how 'life' can be defined in exact terms! Inorganic objects also react to each other, interchanging their roles as subjects and objects: for example, when the sea water forces itself against a rock on the coast line, why cannot the sea be treated as a subject, and the rock, an object, since energy exchange takes place in the act.

Or, let us go for a more sophisticated example- the general object of SOUND (an object of the sense of the ears). Its very existence depends on the subject's mechanism of the eardrum etc. When the phenomenon of sound was schemed by nature, if it had not devised sensory devices like the ears, it would not have existed for living beings for all practical logic. For a deaf person, sound does not exist as a sense object. There could be many such natural phenomena not yet identified or known by man in this meaning!

Yet another angle of the sense object of sound; man is able to manipulate sound into musical notes, and alter its very nature the way he is able to transform a piece of uranium rock into a nuclear bomb!

Hence, no sense object has got any nature allotted permanent ENTITY, as seen from the above various examples.

‘Phenomena’ is the name of this peculiar arrangement. Here both parties are subjects as well as objects at the same time. What is relevant existentially might be the end result of the interaction of the parties, and not their existential status.

It is much more sensible to presume that God must have kept the much controversial 'in itself reality as a 'wide-open' phenomenon, for the interacting parties in the phenomenal world to define, explore and find it in each other!

The above claim in our study can be found very true, once again in the example of a man-woman love relation; it is in the course of intense interaction that each partner starts experiencing newer and newer colours and features in themselves, that they had never observed within themselves before! When there exists someone in life to receive and joyfully accept whatever behaviour that comes out of each other, partners experience a divine freedom, the FREEDOM OF LOVE', and they blossom like plants and trees in spring! These features of the subject, as well as the object could never have been in the original 'in itself' reality planned by God, but He might have kept it as part of the FREEDOM He had designed for the phenomenal realm of life! 

Same rule can be applied when man encounters a piece of rock too. The rock does not know of itself beyond what its subject- here, man, makes itself with! Yesterday's rock and sand is what stands as today's cemented towers and townships in the world! If that piece of rock has happened to be a piece of the nuclear fuel 'URANIUM', as already seen above, it could have never known of its own destructive powers until its subject -man- attempted to split one of its atoms, and released nuclear energy!


Hence, this study could easily conclude that God, or nature might not have allocated any permanent ‘in itself’ entity or identity to any single object in existence. It was rather a creative manifestation of some mind like energy into a plethora of objects and subjects, left at the PHENOMENAL domain, to evolve itself into self-conscious ENTITIES.


Author: Abraham J. Palakudy
He is a seeker and researcher into subjects like General philosophy, Metaphysics, MInd, and Reason, Spirituality and polity

Contact him: ajoseph1@rediffmail.com
Twitter: Voice of philosophy@jopan1

His profile and other blog-posts: https://www.blogger.com/profile/14249415589712707293

What is human experience? The concept of 'experience buds'


Note: Below is a chapter-extract from part-2 of his Book,' Is Reason a sense organ? A super-mind above the known Mind?'(Amazon.com)Pages 34-37


How does man make 'sense' of his experiences?

This study wishes to look again at the classic concepts of 'sense experience', in order to have better clarity. The broad definition of 'experience' was meant for the knowledge that the mind gathers through the medium of external senses. Immanuel Kant, the most reputed of the modern day philosophers had undertaken the most elaborate study on such subjects. He says, 'pure knowledge' could be only that which the faculty of Reason gathers by itself  'a priori', that is, without the aid of the sensory experience.

This study wishes to abandon these two basic assumptions altogether, as Reason has every 'reason' to be believed as a SENSE ORGAN, similar to our external sense organs.  (A detailed study has been offered in one of the following paragraphs, as well as in the previous section of this book). The category it senses is the inherent ORDER and CONSISTENCY in existence, the way the tongue senses the category of taste, the ear that of sound, and the skin that of touch inherent in the phenomenal realm.

This study wishes to also understand EXPERIENCE, however, a bit differently. It would like to relate experience as a term that the layman can understand, i.e. like what he would mean by 'experiencing' love, anger or depression. When his eye encounters a piece of rock, the ear hears thunder or tongue tastes an apple, it need not be classified in the general category of EXPERIENCE.

Sense organs are like openings without doors. It remains open towards the world always, involuntarily. Only sleep, which again visits man involuntarily, keeps the doors of the senses shut. It is the man's mind, an organ that works on its own laws which decides what sensory input is relevant to the unit man, and what is not. The mind digests these inputs, like one’s digestive organs, digest food. 

This study wishes to classify only one's emotional encounters as a real 'EXPERIENCE'. Here, the concept of EXPERIENCE BUDS is introduced.

A rose or a piece of rock need not be classified as ‘an experience', but only a passing phenomenon for the mind, in its central course of experiencing life's emotions. Life is more or less a journey for experiencing such emotions, and such objects of the senses have a mere supporting role as accessories for achieving the main purpose.

Such emotions have its ‘experience buds’ (like the taste buds on the tongue) pre-fixed in the mind, so that man could make ‘sense’ out of such experiences, upon encountering them.

Unlike this, his usual sense inputs do not have any such pre-set experience buds hence man has to understand it in his own subjective way. Phenomena consist of this subjective realm. It is a stand-alone, synthetic realm where only the meanings and concepts that man have provided rules. Every age, thus, has its own concept and meaning of life. But, emotions, it seems, stays outside the phenomenon realm, because they do not pass through the external senses.

For example, when someone encounters his first love in life, he would not have been able to make sense of this wonderful experience unless he had a pre-set experience BUD somewhere hidden in his system, to support the relishing of this emotion. There is no chance that he had acquired the knowledge of this experience through his senses, during his lifetime. Unlike a piece of rock or a tree, man need not toil to give subjective meaning to this emotional ‘object’ of the inner sense organ. Such experiences have pre-built experience buds, to make sense of it. It is more or less universal, as every man, and even animals make sense of such emotional inputs naturally.

Similarly, when someone experiences an attack on his self-respect, and self-hood, from a fellow being, or from the collective institutions such as a State, the rage that develops within him is definitely due to a pre-set experience bud. This emotion of self-protection and anger comes naturally to every human being, and even for members of the animal kingdom. We can not produce any evidence to prove that these are products of sense experience.

When closely observed, it appears that the human mind makes sense of such EXPERIENCES the way the tongue makes sense of the different tastes, by its inbuilt taste-bud mechanism as mentioned above. Like the human tongue, which cannot experience a taste outside the range of its buds, we should infer that the mind also would not be able to make sense out of ‘an experience' that has no support of the 'experience bud'.

More on EXPERIENCE BUDS: the craving of the EXPERIENCE BUDS for satiation
It is not that each and every experience has the support of independent pre-set BUDS in the mind, but it seems that these buds are designed in such a way that various sub-experiences of a main category of experience, collectively cater to one main category.

For example, when a man is making love, he is not experiencing the sum total of all his various sense inputs of touch, taste, smell etc., but wholesomely relishing the main category of the experience, i.e. ‘Love’.  Such 'experience' buds look similar to the color buds in the brain, various shades of Green, or perhaps Red, go to the same location, to make sense of the main color Green, or Red.

Each experience bud it seems constantly craves for its fulfillment too. Freud's notion of ‘Id’ attains relevance here. He mentioned ‘Id’ as a seat of various inborn cravings. Cravings such as REVENGE, or DEPRESSION, it appears to develop as a result of the bruised, or the chronically dissatisfied original cravings. These appear like negative energies, which could be neutralized, or extinguished in most of the cases when some form of satiation is achieved.

The philosophic relevance of this proposition of pre-designed EXPERIENCE BUDS.

Our new study on the pre-designed experience buds could throw new questions on the great philosophic debate over how much of man's knowledge is ' a priori'  (prior to experience) and how much is 'a posterior-i' (after experience). When a seeker finds sense in the above proposition of pre-set experience buds, he will naturally have to accept that there isn't much left to be classified as a posterior-i in man's experience realm, except his realm for synthetic objects of the external senses, such as a piece of rock, or a flower, or a dog. Such routine objects of the external senses enter the realm of the mind by the principle of 'association' and remain in memory in a subjective pictorial representation, or in WORD form when the unit man learns a language.

When our sciences attempt to know only the 'objects' in the world, for their stand-alone reality as PHENOMENA, or in the 'in itself' mode, great philosophic dilemmas arise, as to how far the faculties of our mind, including Reason, could succeed in doing the job. Hence this study has been done to seek more acceptable answers.

Coming back to the experience buds, for a newborn baby, the sensory experience of the nipple of his mother's breast in his mouth, and the sight of the breast may be OBJECTS that he encounters for the first time, but the emotions (sense of safety, and warmth of motherly love etc.) associated with birth were in his system 'a priori'. For a lover, the sight of the well-carved breast of his lady love sends tremors through the spine, and the sight kindles the pre-designed emotions in him. The object - breast - is the same for the newborn baby as well as for the lover, but it arouses different emotions in the two subjects. Similarly, a mother deer is two different objects, one for her calf, and the other for the predator, say a Lion, therefore the emotions attached to the same object is different for the two different subjects.

We should safely assume that, in the mind of a human male, the images of a female’s breast and her other beautifully carved body parts had been vaguely implanted in his system by nature, hence the eternal appetite he has, to watch these objects, and the arousal that follows it. Likewise, the images of the prey's   (for example, that of a deer, in the minds of Lions) appetite arousing forms and shapes must have been implanted in the minds of the predator, to make sense of such sights, to arouse a necessary passion, and to compel him to go for the kill.

The routine objects of the external sense organs have very little to do with man's 'emotional experiences, except in its role probably as mere instruments, or 'stimuli' in having emotional experiences. They collectively form materials for the sense world, which he associates his 'self' with.

Man’s EGO is the first and foremost item that emerges from PHENOMENA. Or we can say the emergence of the EGO was the sole purpose behind the scheming of PHENOMENA by nature. It emerges first of all 'as the owner of the experiences he encounters', and as ‘an object among other routine objects around him'. This idea is explained in more detail in one of the foregoing parts of this study.


Life, after all, looks like a saga of man's experiencing a series of EMOTIONS during his lifespan. It has very less to do with the innumerable physical objects he comes across in carrying out the life-process. It serves the purpose of only a stage or a canvas for the main theme to be enacted.

Author: Abraham J. Palakudy
He is a seeker and researcher into subjects like General philosophy, Metaphysics, MInd, and Reason, Spirituality and polity

Contact him: ajoseph1@rediffmail.com
Twitter: Voice of philosophy@jopan1

His profile and other blog-posts: https://www.blogger.com/profile/14249415589712707293

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Can EGO ever know of itself? The 'real' consciousness?

Note: This is an extract from the blogger's book,( pages 48,49,50 and 51) 'Is Reason a sense organ? A super-mind above the known mind?( book can be searched by title from Google, or from Amazon.com)
Author attempts to analyze, whether true knowledge, or an insight into existential reality ever possible for man.Has nature instilled any special knowing mechanism in man to undertake this exercise? Can Ego, man's usual entity in the world, 'transcend' itself and turn a better knowing entity?

How does Ego know of itself?  The possibility of multiple ENTITIES within man, the knowing subject! (Is TRANSCENDING self beyond EGO possible?)

We, men, are conscious of our own unique entities among other similar entities. How has nature ensured this self awareness? Who is the subject WITHIN that perceives its own ego as an objective entity? What entity existed within Emmanuel Kant that had made him capable of observing the PHENOMENAL nature of the mind, while remaining within the limitations of the mind that he found? How can an eye see itself and a mind observe itself? 

His brilliant act of observation that the mind cannot cross the barrier of PHENOMENA was definitely NOT within the limit of man's thinking faculty that he himself had observed and admitted! Obviously, Kant had transcended himself into a different entity other than his EGO, to make such an observation.
He talked about transcending man’s experiences. But what really takes place is the transcending of the self itself.

Reason as a faculty cannot observe such hidden relations beyond the PHENOMENA while it’s in the possession of EGO. Hence, this study would like to propose that man can transcend himself as altered 'entities', which uses REASON as a distinct organ, for acquiring knowledge, in ways different from the usual subject-object method of the mind, and its owner, the EGO!

This process of man developing from the body only entity in the beginning, (animals live in the same sphere even today) to an EGO centred entity today (a stepping up from the body centred stage) and the just observed ability of few select men transcending themselves into yet another newer ENTITY with wider realms of knowing, is indicative of the final destiny, and possibilities that await humankind.

Reason could find itself to be a potential organ in the possession of such transcended entities for gathering knowledge in a manner unfamiliar to the mind. Like the eyes observing some truth and describing it, Reason too, in its capacity as a SENSE ORGAN, could simply watch and describe what it observes, forming new dimensions to the act of gaining knowledge. Here the classical method of acquiring knowledge by the mind and then sharing it with others would naturally take a beating.  

When mankind as a whole realizes such a possibility of transcending oneself beyond the Ego level, acceptance of knowledge gained through the new medium would also gain larger mainstream acceptance! 

As we have discussed, objective realities are shared subjective observations or inferences. Sharing with others makes the real difference. Hence, when the possibility for man to transcend himself to higher stages of knowledge is shared in the mainstream world, what awaits man is a new world, with newer relations with each other, sans the (selfish) obsessions of the EGO. Such transcending could be understood as the first sign of spirituality for any man. 

In short, we could put it this way for more clarity that, Reason, when used by the ENTITY -EGO- gives out only PHENOMENAL reality. But when the unit man transcends himself by discarding the ownership of the EGO, he becomes a different entity altogether, who could use Reason as his NATIVE organ for gaining knowledge. In this mode, Reason acts like any other sense organ, illustrating the depths of the issue that one seeks. Great men come out with astonishing findings pertaining to their fields of study in this way. The task of sharing such findings with their fellow men and the world at large is a greater task than the former. Here, he has to use LOGIC, the art and science of associating his base findings with an already existing truth (universal) and then explain the relation of his findings with such universal truths, to convert the finding into an acceptable law. Here, he uses logic to convert his subjective vision into a 'collective subjectivity', or an objective truth in the newly acquired status.

Not only Emmanuel Kant, but many other great souls like him had succeeded in transcending their selves to higher realms for coming out with fantastic observations and conclusions. The great scientist Albert Einstein had said after the public’s acceptance of Quantum mechanics:  Quantum mechanics is very impressive. But an ‘inner voice’ tells me that it is not the real thing. The theory produces a good deal but hardly brings one closer to the secrets of the Old One. I am at all events convinced that He (God) does not play dice".  This inner voice was definitely not from his usual mind, a prisoner behind the walls of 'PHENOMENA', but his transcended SELF could use Reason as his native knowledge gaining organ. 

As said above, raising one self above the EGO realm of knowledge is the primary step towards a universal spirituality. It happens with every seeker of truth either today or tomorrow. It can also be observed that the PHENOMENAL veil on existence as a whole, as a single object, gets at least partially removed when one ceases to be an ego entity in the above sense. The very realization that ego sees only ‘phenomenon’ enables one to get free of its catch. One starts getting enabled to live life closer to the 'IN ITSELF' way, that nature has intended it to be.   

From the above observed subject-object principle for the emergence of entities, we have learned how Ego gains ENTITY on the principle of 'ownership' of experiences, besides the strength of the existence of similar entities around, which is based on the simple logic of ‘YOU ARE, HENCE I AM' . Fichte called this process of the emergence of EGOS by the name "INTERSUBJECTIVITY'.

But how is man able to perceive his own ego as an external object, and learn about its features and characteristics as per the questions we have raised earlier? For objective observation, there should be a subject, existing external to the object. Who is such a subject here? After the elevation of the science of Psychology to a certain level of acceptability among other sciences, Freud's Ego concept has, however, gained some kind of a scientific sanctity. But this existential question of what 'self' of man perceives EGO as an object has not yet gained any popularity among philosophers and psychologists. Though religions and spiritualists attribute this role to the human SOUL, more a non worldly concept, the scientific world has sealed its lips on this subject.

Every one of us is aware of this hidden self within, who often watch our social 'self’ (ego) as a separate entity. Man often indulges into internal conversations between these two internal entities or selves, known as self talk. Most of our thinking activity surrounds such conversations between the two different selves within!

The keen observer must have noticed that such conversations are always initiated by this mystery self, not the EGO, because ego is not even capable of perceiving any object beyond the realm of the external senses. Hence, this one is definitely a self located realm above Ego, which relates itself to realities beyond the sense world. This hidden self is an entity that grows out from the ego, like the youth-stage grows out of man's adolescent stage. As a child is absolutely unable to grasp the intricacies of his own youth-stage, or adolescent stage, Ego too is unable to know its next stage namely the ‘SELF’. It seems a natural internal development in every man's internal life, like a youth turning into a middle aged man of wisdom, naturally in due course of life.

Hence, the practice of philosophy and other pursuits of knowledge in treating man as a universal passive OBSERVER demands rethinking. The two different entities within man make two different observers, and subjects. The second one is located at some realms outside the phenomena, hence it is able to observe EGO, and its realm of experience as mere phenomena.

Furthermore in an ultimate analysis, it becomes evident that any form of knowledge is possible only as SUBJECTIVE impressions of some kind of ENTITIES.  These impressions serve the purpose of mere MATERIAL for constituting these ENTITIES. 

The 'in itself' reality is, ultimately that of the RELATION among the entities. Ultimate reality is not a THING, or an OBJECT, or a SCIENTIFIC FORMULA. It can only be a RELATION, the ultimate EMOTION that glues existence together. Reason, man’s mysterious sense organ is capable of receiving, or say, SENSING such existential emotions directly, when nature so wishes, or the transcended entity of man seeks it out from the source of existence! Remember, at such moments, when man opens up to receive extra phenomenal signals, he is not a typical EGO, but a transcended entity, a non-participant in the phenomenal world, at least temporarily.

It could be sensibly believed that Nature/God has special interest in man developing into such stages of ‘sensing’ the emotional content in existence, considering the urge for truth inherent in human beings. As we have already observed, the urge for scientific pursuits are also nothing but an urge for knowing the ultimate truth. The rest in routine life are all ‘phenomena’, serving the purpose of catering to the above main objective of existence.

As detailed in the blog link: http://thewhyquestionofexistenceanswered.blogspot.in/ an element of CREATIVE CHOICE is self evident in every aspect of existence. The design of the leaf of a papaya plant could have been a thousand and one other designs and shapes. The hexagonal shape of the bee-hive could have been spherical, or square! These design choices explain no logical relation with any evolutionary necessity, hence, these self evident elements of choice point towards an emotional content in the scheme of existence. It points towards a universal MIND, which is conscious of itself. 

Man might possess special 'experience buds' within him to relish such future experiences of this existential emotion; however, one could safely presume that this occurs at evolutionary maturity in the future!

Authored by: Abraham J. Palakudy

He is a researcher and seeker into subjects like Mind&Reason, Metaphysics, Spirituality, self and world, and also Polity and democracy 

Twitter: Voice of Philosophy@jopan1

His profile and other blogs: https://www.blogger.com/profile/14249415589712707293