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INTEGRAL WORLD: EXPLORING THEORIES OF EVERYTHING
An independent forum for a critical discussion of the integral philosophy of Ken Wilber
Publication dates of essays (month/year) can be found under "Essays".
SEE MORE ESSAYS WRITTEN BY ANDY SMITH
The basic ideas of Iluminism can be traced back to Leibniz's monadology.We start with a basic idealist position: cognito ergo sum. Therefore, a mind, specifically, my mind exists.There are many refutations for solipsism, the simplest being that if other minds can exist, they should exist. Now, of the experiences of a mind, we can draw AT LEAST one distinction: thoughts(including fantasies), and sensations. How can we distinguish , if not innately, between these two types of experience (an exercise in imagination, and a sensation for example?) . Sensations are parts of our experience of which all other minds seem to agree about, while fantasies are restricted to our private mind-space. Now, the naive realist will invent another object, OUTSIDE of the collective of minds themselves, that causes minds to agree on a sensation : MATTER. Furthermore, the materialistic scientist, will relegate, to this EXTERNAL concept, the function of producing the minds themselves. This is of course metaphysics and speculation on the part of the scientist, albeit an unconscious one. No method is given to bridge the gap between these two categories.Perception is always experienced as a 'unity' , whilst matter can always be divided into parts, none of which seems to produce, itself, the 'qualia' of the mind. As Leibnitz said:
"It must be confessed, however, that perception, and that which depends upon it, are inexplicable by mechanical causes, that is to say, by figures and motions. Supposing that there were a machine whose structure produced thought, sensation, and perception, we could conceive of it as increased in size with the same proportions until one was able to enter into its interior, as he would into a mill. Now, on going into it he would find only pieces working upon one another, but never would he find anything to explain perception. It is accordingly in the simple substance, and not in the compound nor in a machine that the perception is to be sought. Furthermore, there is nothing besides perceptions and their changes to be found in the simple substance. And it is in these alone that all the internal activities of the simple substance can consist."
Mind, as a unity ,is not reducible to aggregates. It can't be 'found' in matter any more than the mind of a player can be found in his character in an MMORPG game. Now, the problem is, what do minds agree upon? Most humans would agree of color-perception, though a human and an alien with an entirely different evolutionary history might have great difficulty one-another. That is, unless they could find ways to 'translate' what their sense-experiences mean in common terms. We have to refine our thesis that minds agree on sensations: human minds agree on human sensations.
Here is something a human a sufficiently evolved alien would agree upon: mathematics . All that is a priory is common to all minds, regardless of the 'shapes' they inhabit (a bat, a dog, a human, a whale...). It's not that senses say nothing about reality, but they do not reflect reality. They merely represent reality, a picture made trough our specific contingent sense-organs. A bat sees a totally different world than a human, and neither is the 'true' world.
These are biases that must be overcome: the first being naive realism: our senses are reality, they show us the world 'as it is' , and the second is that if something is not, in some form, available to the senses, it does not exists. Scientists have made steps in the first direction, but so far, have been a total disaster in the second. Science is good as producing models that describe specific aspects of reality, but in itself, it does not offer any plausible framework for a theory of everything. They deny mind can have an effective power, and reduce it to epiphenomenon, because they cannot measure and quantify private thoughts and experiences. Because it's not available to 'public perception' , they deny mind, although each of them is, fundamentally, a mind.
Materialism, taken to its logical conclusion, leads to relativism and nihilism: in denying innate ideas, we can picture the following situation: what is the difference between someone who holds a true opinion, and someone who holds a false one? Merely the difference in random configurations of atoms in their brains. But how do we know which is true and which is false? By the configuration of atoms in our brain. Circular .However, matter is diffuse and 'indiscriminate' .There's nothing in a computer that says that 'program a' is gibberish and 'program b' is good. They are merely strings of bits. There is no criterion, innate in matter, for distinguishing truth. Random/purposeless configurations of matter cannot lead to teleological minds, bent on optimizing themselves.
There are two ways of defining randomness: 1)Something is random because I don't know the reason why it happens. 2)Something is random because there is no reason why it happens.
Iluminists accept the first, but not the second. The first corresponds to the baesian interpretation of probability, the second to the frequentialist. There must always be a reason why something happens, even though we do not percieve the reason. Some attempt to reduce 'free will' to randomness. The correct move is the opposite: some 'free will' is perceived by others as randomness.
Mental properties are the only properties of which we have, or indeed can have, experience. Basically, this is the story of iluminism: sensuous reality as a collective dream, a matrix generated by monads (a monad is a 'bare mind' , without any body) , all striving to optimize themselves and evolve dialectically. Within each mind/monad is the innate capacity to perfect itself, become fully conscious , 'whole'/divine, in potential, but not actualized. Each mind strives to actualize its potential, like an acorn seeks to become a tree. The agenda of the illuminaty is to promote rationalism and radicalism, move humanity away from greed and its bestial nature towards its divine potential.
Unlike iluminism, the story of science, not accepting any innate teleological elements, cannot explain how or why animate life arises and evolves from inanimate matter .Nor is the story of materialism of any inspiration for most humans. The story is itself, not part of science, but only of the prevailing materialist paradigm.