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InvisibleSkorpivoMusterion
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Reality: Our objective, benelovent friend
    #4945739 - 11/17/05 11:29 AM (16 years, 23 days ago)

Many people become confused by the concepts of "objective reality" and the "benevolent universe." And understandably so. The concepts "objective" and "benevolent" are usually used in the context of virtues. A person is objective if he chooses to acquire facts by reason in accordance with logic. A person is benevolent if she chooses to engage positively with others. However, abstractions like "reality" are obviously not confronted with these choices. So what do these concepts mean?

Given that objectivity and benevolence are usually used in a human context, I like to think of "objective reality" and the "benevolent universe" as metaphors. Beautiful and appropriate ones at that, as they contrast with the literal, non-metaphoric ideas of opposing philosophies that hold a subjective reality and a malevolent universe.

Objective reality was the idea that the name of the Objectivist philosophy was coined from. Objective reality essentially means that reality exists independently of a consciousness, whether that consciousness is an individual one, a group, or is supernatural. Although the prefix "objective" may seem redundant, it does differentiate the Aristotlean/Objectivist view from opposing philosophies that claim that the natures of existents in reality are subject to a consciousness; that wishing will make it so. The premise "existence exists [independently of consciousness]" is an axiomatic concept. That means that the premise precedes proof. Proof requires a standard that we don't have when it comes to the ideas of reality and existence. We need reality and existence as standards for proof.

And if we think about it, it would be impossible for humans to be objective without an objective reality. We could not "dispassionately" observe and apply reason to facts as the nature of those facts would be subject to the whim of some consciousness with no standard to validate their certainty.

The "benevolent universe" is essentially the idea that the world is auspicious to man's existence. It means that there are values out there in the world to gain. That does not mean the universe chooses to act that way, but it does contrast with those philosophies holding a malevolent universe premise. An example of this is the idea that the world acts to thwart us; that the world, or some conscious manifestation of it, can somehow identify our values and act against our achieving them. This idea is implicit in those people who claim that "nothing ever works out" or that "everyone is out to get me." Another variant of the malevolent universe is the idea that the world is simply hostile in nature to man's requirements. This idea is found in those religions that believe the world is a series of trials, a testing ground for a place in the next life and implicit in those people who claim "life is tough," "the world isn't meant to be fair." They're not meaning that life contains challenges; they're meaning that the rules of the game are set against you.

The benevolent universe premise means that if we recognize and adhere to reality, then we can achieve our values in reality and, all other things being equal, we will. It recognizes that happiness, although scarce, is not an exception. Happiness is scarce because the achievement of values is difficult. And happiness is not an exception because once its cause is enacted, the effect follows naturally. This view is not blind optimism or Pollyannaism; it's merely the recognition of the nature of the universe. There are values out there to attain and happiness is possible. And that's enough to provide the basis for human beings to be benevolent themselves.

If we look at both of these ideas a little closer, we can actually see they're related. Imagine for a moment that reality was subject to some consciousness. The universe could cease to be conducive to your existence. The nature of the values you seek could be altered on a whim, rendering their achievement, and your happiness, impossible. This idea is held by those religions that believe the universe is at the mercy of a vengeful [malevolent] God [consciousness]. Therefore we see that a world auspicious to our survival is only possible when the rules of the game are objective.

Many Objectivist works, e.g., Fountainhead, Atlas Shrugged, Anthem, etc., are integrated fiction with philosophy, so it's not surprising that some of Objectivism's philosophic terms have a little creative color to them. "Benevolent universe" and "objective reality" are two metaphors I hope we keep.




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Invisibledorkus
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Re: Reality: Our objective, benelovent friend [Re: SkorpivoMusterion]
    #4945941 - 11/17/05 12:29 PM (16 years, 23 days ago)

"God is Just." Ibogaine (answering Daniel Pinchbeck on a trip in Mexico)


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InvisibleVeritas
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Re: Reality: Our objective, benelovent friend [Re: SkorpivoMusterion]
    #4946023 - 11/17/05 12:58 PM (16 years, 23 days ago)

Quote:

Happiness is scarce because the achievement of values is difficult.




IMO it is scarce because almost all humans are neurotic.

We talk ourselves into being unhappy when things don't work out the way we want them to, rather than realizing that, while we are not in absolute control of our circumstances, we can be in control of our response to those circumstances.

No matter how difficult our values are to achieve, we can still choose to enjoy and learn from the process.  This is where true happiness is found, IMO.

I choose to believe the universe is benevolent, whether it possesses a "higher consciousness" or not.  Because I believe this, I am motivated to use my experiences for growth and enjoyment.  When experiences in my life are unpleasant, I choose to look for the lesson within the pain.  Because I assume the universe is always providing what I need, I can begin to let go of always getting what I want.

I am not always happy, in the sense of smiling & laughing as I go, but I am always glad to be alive.  And if you ask those who know me, they will say I am happy more often than not.  :grin:


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InvisibleSkorpivoMusterion
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Re: Reality: Our objective, benelovent friend [Re: Veritas]
    #4946438 - 11/17/05 02:52 PM (16 years, 23 days ago)

IMO it is scarce because almost all humans are neurotic.

I agree, the achievement of values is difficult for a multitude of reasons, and neurosis is indeed at the very root of such inefficacious vicissitude.
Edit: Perhaps not "difficult," but challenging, requiring effort/productivity. My point was: values aren't "pennies from heaven" - the common misconception around the Benevolent Universe Premise - you need to work for them.

No matter how difficult our values are to achieve, we can still choose to enjoy and learn from the process. This is where true happiness is found, IMO.

Oh definitely. Psychological research suggests that people can be quite happy while in the process of achieving values, even though the ultimate end-value might not yet be accomplished. Perhaps another way to put this is that a given end goal has a constellation of values associated with it, and a number of these values relate to the methods and acts used in accomplishing the ultimate end goal. Hence, we gain some values - and can achieve certain levels of happiness - in route.


I choose to believe the universe is benevolent, whether it possesses a "higher consciousness" or not. Because I believe this, I am motivated to use my experiences for growth and enjoyment. When experiences in my life are unpleasant, I choose to look for the lesson within the pain. Because I assume the universe is always providing what I need, I can begin to let go of always getting what I want.

I am not always happy, in the sense of smiling & laughing as I go, but I am always glad to be alive. And if you ask those who know me, they will say I am happy more often than not.


:thumbup: And.. if you ask those who know me, they will say the same as well. :grin:



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Edited by SkorpivoMusterion (11/17/05 03:00 PM)


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InvisibleIcelander
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Re: Reality: Our objective, benelovent friend [Re: Veritas]
    #4946470 - 11/17/05 02:59 PM (16 years, 23 days ago)

If she can live with me and still be happy then you know she is an enlightened one. :tongue:


--------------------
"Don't believe everything you think". -Anom.

" All that lives was born to die"-Anom.

With much wisdom comes much sorrow,
The more knowledge, the more grief.
Ecclesiastes circa 350 BC


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InvisibleVeritas
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Re: Reality: Our objective, benelovent friend [Re: Icelander]
    #4946476 - 11/17/05 03:00 PM (16 years, 23 days ago)

Good thing I like a challenge!  :wink:


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InvisibleIcelander
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Re: Reality: Our objective, benelovent friend [Re: Veritas]
    #4946482 - 11/17/05 03:01 PM (16 years, 23 days ago)

dito :heart:


--------------------
"Don't believe everything you think". -Anom.

" All that lives was born to die"-Anom.

With much wisdom comes much sorrow,
The more knowledge, the more grief.
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OfflinePed
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Re: Reality: Our objective, benelovent friend [Re: SkorpivoMusterion]
    #4948156 - 11/17/05 08:40 PM (16 years, 23 days ago)

>> Imagine for a moment that reality was subject to some consciousness. The universe could cease to be conducive to your existence. The nature of the values you seek could be altered on a whim, rendering their achievement, and your happiness, impossible. This idea is held by those religions that believe the universe is at the mercy of a vengeful [malevolent] God [consciousness]. Therefore we see that a world auspicious to our survival is only possible when the rules of the game are objective.

One of the main problems people have with understanding the subjectivist view -- a problem which exists even (or perhaps especially) among subjectivists -- is the idea that our gross awareness, or, in other words, our conceptual process, is synoymous with consciouness itself. From this point of view, within a subjective reality our thoughts should be able to manipulate objects and conditions in the surrounding environment. Among objectivists, the easy observation that this is not possible defeats the subjectivist view. Among subjectivists, the idea opens up a fantastically unrealistic universe where "there is no spoon" and people with the right attention can dodge bullets and fly between buildings.

But conceptualization is merely one function of consciouness; it is not consciousness itself. If we examine the more subtle aspects of consciousness and compare these with that of our surroundings, we will discover similarities. Having apprehended these similarities, it is a short step to discovering how both reality and consciousness are intimately intermixed and, most importantly, interdependent.

It's not necessarily so that a subjective reality is a malevolent reality. Such an idea does not even make sense: how can a purely subjective reality possess inherent characteristics such a malevolence? A reality that behaves subjectively is malevolent inasmuch as the contents of it's inhabitant's consciousness are malevolent. By the same token, a reality that behaves subjectively is benevolent inasmuch as the contents of it's inhabitant's consciousness are benevolent. The idea that reality is subject to the legislation imposed upon it by a God figure is in fact the most aggresive of objectivist views asserting that the universe is a discrete entity possessing it's own inherent existence.

Another major problem people have when contemplating subjectivism is the idea that subjective universe is the only object which can be known to possess inherent characteristics. We contemplate the idea of a subjective reality, and, feeling reasonably satisfied in our reasoning, we make the mistake of conceiving of subjectivity as being the one objective quality which is actually so. In fact even subjectivity is sujbective -- though ultimate -- truth.


>> The benevolent universe premise means that if we recognize and adhere to reality, then we can achieve our values in reality

Here is the one point upon which we agree. Even within that point, however, our views encounter a schism.

If we are to recognize and adhere to reality, we must also recognize and strive to realize it's subjective nature. Only then can we accomplish our wishes. In an objective reality, phenomenon possess their own characteristics, and in that respect they have power over us. So long as phenomenon have power over our state of mind, we will never be able to accomplish our wishes, and our wishes will always be incongruent with what actually is. When we recognize that phenomenon are completely insubstantial, in that their very unfolding is a process of our own awareness, there is no longer any cause for dissatisfaction. In fact, having achieved this recognition we enter into an experience of pure and absolute benevolence.

Here is some evidence pointing to a subjective universe. First, consider an object such as a chair. When we look at an object, we see a chair existing infront of us, completely apart from us, possessing it's own inherent existential quality. It's existence seems to be arriving from the object to our awareness. If a cat should happen to enter the room, however, he might perceive something entirely different. The cat might experience a shelter existing apart from his consciousness, and he will imagine that the shelter had been in the room "waiting" for him to become aware of it. If a chair exists as a chair inherently, as it appears to, then it ought to exist that way for every living being that encounters it. The mere fact that different objects appear differently to different beings is cause to doubt our experience of reality as possessing the objective quality we presently assume of it.

We can carry this investigation into all realms of identifying an object as possessing it's own intrinsic nature, and each time we will come up short. This is because phenomena do not exist independently of other phenomena; all phenomena exist as part of a single continuum made up of all other phenomema. Any discrimination between one phenomenon and another, and indeed between subject and object, which are themselves phenomenon, occurs only within consciouness. In this way, our experience of reality is entirely subject to the influence of our own consciousness, and, by the same token, reality itself carries on as part of a dependent relationship with consciouness.

For an object to exist objectively, in possession of it's own existence, it must do so independent of other phenomenon. If an object depends upon other phenomon to exist, it cannot be said to exist inherently, because it is nonsense to suppose that an object which possesses it's own inherent existence does so in dependence upon phenomenon which are not the object. Just as a herd of sheep does not make a cow, so too phenomenon which arise as part of a dependent relationship do not possess their own objective characteristics. Since it is easy to see that all phenomenon depend upon other phenomenon for their existence, it is easy to see that nothing within our scope of reality, not even our own self, possesses an objective quality of any kind.


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InvisibleMoonshoe
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Re: Reality: Our objective, benelovent friend [Re: SkorpivoMusterion]
    #4948728 - 11/17/05 10:19 PM (16 years, 23 days ago)

sometimes

when one agrees with nothing said

verbal disagreement is like speaking into a paper bag when alone in your bathtub


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Re: Reality: Our objective, benelovent friend [Re: Moonshoe]
    #4948923 - 11/17/05 10:54 PM (16 years, 23 days ago)

Quote:

Moonshoe said:
verbal disagreement is like speaking into a paper bag when alone in your bathtub


Beautiful image.

could imagine it as a lyric in a Radiohead song :laugh:


--------------------
"my old friend told me
to do well always
set your sails, open
ride your waves, flowing
just relax, sober
leave you past, it's over
bind two hands, stronger
my soul waits, forward" - Arjun and Guardians


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InvisibleSkorpivoMusterion
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Re: Reality: Our objective, benelovent friend [Re: Ped]
    #4952040 - 11/18/05 04:37 PM (16 years, 22 days ago)

One of the main problems people have with understanding the subjectivist view -- a problem which exists even (or perhaps especially) among subjectivists -- is the idea that our gross awareness, or, in other words, our conceptual process, is synoymous with consciouness itself. From this point of view, within a subjective reality our thoughts should be able to manipulate objects and conditions in the surrounding environment. Among objectivists, the easy observation that this is not possible defeats the subjectivist view. Among subjectivists, the idea opens up a fantastically unrealistic universe where "there is no spoon" and people with the right attention can dodge bullets and fly between buildings.

So what you?re basically saying is that a common misconception exists, regarding the ?subjectivist view? pertaining to the difference between consciousness and conceptual process? People oftenly mistake the conceptual process ? reason, let us call it, to avoid semantical confusion ? with the perceptual faculty that is consciousness?

But conceptualization is merely one function of consciouness; it is not consciousness itself. If we examine the more subtle aspects of consciousness and compare these with that of our surroundings, we will discover similarities. Having apprehended these similarities, it is a short step to discovering how both reality and consciousness are intimately intermixed and, most importantly, interdependent.

I am defining consciousness as the faculty of perception; the faculty of perceiving that which exists [perceiving here, being used in the widest sense, i.e. being aware of.] To avoid semantical confusion, I ask: Is this synonymous to how you are defining consciousness?
If so, can you elaborate further on these ?subtle aspects? and their similitude with our surroundings?
I can see how one can say reality and consciousness are intermixed, in certain respects. But then you say reality and consciousness is inderdependent? Do you mean to say that they are both integrated and interconnected? Or are you saying that the existence of existents are dependent upon the faculty of perception?


It's not necessarily so that a subjective reality is a malevolent reality. Such an idea does not even make sense: how can a purely subjective reality possess inherent characteristics such a malevolence?

"A reality that behaves subjectively is malevolent inasmuch as the contents of it's inhabitant's consciousness are malevolent."

Here is some evidence pointing to a subjective universe. First, consider an object such as a chair. When we look at an object, we see a chair existing infront of us, completely apart from us, possessing it's own inherent existential quality. It's existence seems to be arriving from the object to our awareness. If a cat should happen to enter the room, however, he might perceive something entirely different. The cat might experience a shelter existing apart from his consciousness, and he will imagine that the shelter had been in the room "waiting" for him to become aware of it.

First of all, I?m going to define the term subjective as I?m using it, and see if it corresponds with yours: Limited to the subject [i.e., you, or I] , or something limited to the subject experiencing it. An idea, or headache, or hallucination, is subjective.

I?m not denying that in a sense, there is a subjective universe. However, when I acknowledge the existence of a subjective universe, I am also cognizant of the fact that it exactly that ? a subjective universe, and, that there is an objective universe which all subjectivities are rooted in. If you are trying to say that there is no objective reality and that all reality is subjective, then this is a classic example of subjectivism. Subjectivism [as a philosophy] is a denial of reality. It is the advocation of the Primacy of Consciousness and a denial of the Law of Identity.

Let?s take your example of the chair. My sensory input integrated with the faculty of perception [consciousness] perceives the object, but they have nothing to do with the interpretation [i.e., the what, or the how] of the object. All they do is tell me that the object exists. Same with the cat ? it isnt? as if the cat?s ocular facilities are registering the object for something that the object is not ? in reality. In other words, our perceptual facilities do not violate the Law of Identity. The cat?s perceptual faculty and my own will not see A as Z or Y, it will see A as A. But where the difference lies, is how our minds conceptualize the object. I see the object as ?chair?, and the cat may indeed see the object as ?shelter?. The bottom line is, however, the existing object remains objective and independent of our consciousness at all times, and that the Law of Identity remains lawful. 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. But our interpretations and minds are indeed free to think or believe otherwise.


If a chair exists as a chair inherently, as it appears to, then it ought to exist that way for every living being that encounters it. The mere fact that different objects appear differently to different beings is cause to doubt our experience of reality as possessing the objective quality we presently assume of it

Of course concepts do not exist intrinsically. This does not alter the fact that everything that exists has a specific nature. Each entity exists as something in particular and it has characteristics that are a part of what it is. "This leaf is red, solid, dry, rough, and flammable." "This book is white, and has 312 pages." "This coin is round, dense, smooth, and has a picture on it." In all three of these cases we are referring to an entity with a specific identity; the particular type of identity, or the trait discussed, is not important. Their identities include all of their features, not just those mentioned.
To have an identity means to have a single identity; an object cannot have two identities. A tree cannot be a telephone, and a dog cannot be a cat. Each entity exists as something specific, its identity is particular, and it cannot exist as something else. An entity can have more than one characteristic, but any characteristic it has is a part of its identity.
The fact that objects appear differently to different beings is reason to acknowledge the fact that different beings have different sensory apparatus, and thus will register different aspects of reality. But what I?m getting from you is that you?re really talking about our conceptualizations and interpretations behind our objective sensory input. I agree that an ape will not label and interpret the objective existent of the architectural structure that is called a ?Chair? in the English language, the same way that us humans do.


In this way, our experience of reality is entirely subject to the influence of our own consciousness, and, by the same token, reality itself carries on as part of a dependent relationship with consciouness.

If by ?in this way?, you mean subjectively, conceptually, yes.


For an object to exist objectively, in possession of it's own existence, it must do so independent of other phenomenon.

I noticed you phrased ?in possession of it?s own existence?. I don?t follow the thought that ?existence has identity?. Existence is identity.
To imply that existence has identity is to suggest that identity is a feature seperable from existence [as a coat of paint is seperable from the house that has it]. The point is that to be is to be something. Existence and identity are indivisible; either implies the other. If something exists, then something exists; and if there is a something, then there is a something. The fundamental fact cannot be broken in two.
For an existent to exist objectively, it must have existence independent of man?s consciousness.




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OfflinePed
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Re: Reality: Our objective, benelovent friend [Re: SkorpivoMusterion]
    #4956335 - 11/19/05 05:04 PM (16 years, 21 days ago)

>> So what you?re basically saying is that a common misconception exists, regarding the ?subjectivist view? pertaining to the difference between consciousness and conceptual process? People oftenly mistake the conceptual process ? reason, let us call it, to avoid semantical confusion ? with the perceptual faculty that is consciousness?

Yes, this is essentially what I'm saying. However, I'd prefer not to call it "reason", as the conceptual process has some attributes which are considerably more subtle than reason, at least in the Schopenhauerian sense.


>> I am defining consciousness as the faculty of perception; the faculty of perceiving that which exists [perceiving here, being used in the widest sense, i.e. being aware of.] To avoid semantical confusion, I ask: Is this synonymous to how you are defining consciousness?

Consciousness is in the nature of clarity. Knowledge and perception are a function of this clarity. A metaphor to help us gesture toward the nature of consciousness is as follows: "Just as we say a glass is clear, it is not clear enough to know and perceive. A mirror, which is even clearer than glass, still is not clear enough to know and perceive. Only the mind has the clarity to know and perceive."

With this metaphor I am pointing toward the essential clarity which serves as the basis for all knowledge, perception, awareness and subsequent congnition. If we are in agreeance with this as the nature of consciousness then we are speaking of the same object.


>> If so, can you elaborate further on these ?subtle aspects? and their similitude with our surroundings?

Clarity is the most subtle aspect of consciouness. Generally we take our conceptualizations as being the essence of our awareness, but this is only the most gross manifestation of consciousness. If we understand clarity as being the most subtle characteristic of the mind, we can draw similarities between the mind and reality. It is easy to observe that clear, empty space is what is occupied by objects in our field of perception. It is precisely because this empty space is in the nature of perfect clarity that the objects in our perceptual field, and indeed all phenomenon, can exist and continue to unfold. By the same token it is precisely because our mind is in the nature of perfect clarity that we can apprehend these objects as objects of knowledge, and experience phenomenon as unfolding.


>> I can see how one can say reality and consciousness are intermixed, in certain respects. But then you say reality and consciousness is inderdependent? Do you mean to say that they are both integrated and interconnected? Or are you saying that the existence of existents are dependent upon the faculty of perception?

This is a tricky question. When asking if the existence of existents is dependent upon the faculty of perception, we are still implying an inherent existence to those existents, and an inherent existence to consciousness. We are conceiving of existents as being dependent upon the faculty of perception in the same way we consider an automobile to be dependent upon gasoline. But because both an automobile and gasoline can exist without each other, this is not the kind of comparison I was pointing toward.

Both gasoline and automobiles are phenomenon which can continue unfolding without each other, so in this respect they are, at least conventionally speaking, seperate and discrete phenomenon. The combustive reaction that occurs when these two are mixed, however, cannot occur without the presence of each. When gasoline and automobiles are seperated, both become inert.

It's this combusive reaction, and the forward momentum it generates, that I am alluding to when I say that consciouness and existence are interdependent phenomenon. However, instead of becoming inert when either phenomenon are seperated, I am saying that if either consciousness or existence should be separated from the each other, both phenomenon would simply cease altogether. If judgement is suspended for a moment and this is taken as true, then it follows that consciouness and existence are essentially the same phenomenon, of the same nature, and the distinction between the two does not actually exist.

We cannot conceive of a coin as possessing heads without tails, neither tails without heads. In this way head and tails are mere imputations on a singular phenomenon. In the same way, "consciousness" and "reality" are mere imptuations upon one continuing process.

It is very easy for us to imagine a universe completely devoid of consciousness or any perceptive faculty. When we enage in this contemplation, we imagine an enormous vacuum filled with tiny points of light and rocks travelling aimlessly in all directions. There is no difficulty in conceiving of reality as being essentially dead and lifeless in this way, able to unfold merely as the continuance of physical processes. This is because we, at present, conceive of ourselves as being phenomenon completely unique to the universe, and as an extension of this belief we imagine ourselves as a conscious presence held within the confines of our biological organism experiencing an essentially lifeless universe.

However, if we are to reverse this contemplation and attempt to imagine the presence of a consciousness without the simultaneous presence of a reality for that consciouness to apprehend, we run in to immediate and insurmountable obstacles. It is inconceivable.

We are able to imagine a lifeless universe able to unfold without a conscious presences because such an imagination is in itself the involvement of consciousness in the goings-on of a universe. We cannot imagine a consciousness without the presence of an existential universe because that would require us to seperate consciousness from existence, and it impossible for this to occur without the total cessation of each.



I will address the rest of your reply by addressing the following points:

>> For an existent to exist objectively, it must have existence independent of man?s consciousness.

>> Existence and identity are indivisible; either implies the other. If something exists, then something exists; and if there is a something, then there is a something. The fundamental fact cannot be broken in two.

It is precisely because something must exist before something can exist that nothing can exist objectively. It's precisely because it is true that something cannot exist objectively without possessing it's own identity that things cannot exist objectively at all. If something is to exist objectively, then we ought to be able to find it's identity. But with simple investigation we find that it is impossible to establish the externally existing identity of any object of knowledge. In disseminating the identity of "chair" by showing that it is not apprehended as such by all available cognitive faculties, I am showing that the identity objects possess occurs only in consciouness.

We can take any object which we believe to exist objectively and investigate it for the identity which lends it it's objective quality, and we will come up short each time. This is because the identity of objects occurs only within the stream of consciouness, and it's this same consciousness that we are observing whenever we apprehend a phenomenon which we believe occurs outside ourself.


--------------------


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