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  1. #16
    Books of Pellinor alison's Avatar
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    There'sa fascinating book on consciousness called "The Feeling of What Happens" by a neurologist called Antonio Damasio. Well worth the read. It interested me because he posits feeling as a core part of human consciousness, and postulates a complex feedback effect between what he calls "core" consciousness and the beginning of awareness - the knowledge that we are feeling something - that has some very counter-intuitive implications. Fascinating stuff, absolutely based in biological realities, and not in the least reductive - the title in fact comes from a poem, and he quotes a lot of poetry, which for me is a good sign. A long way from this hardcore hardwiring model, with which I have so many problems. Review here if you're interested.

  2. #17
    GemQuest Moderator Gary Wassner's Avatar
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    I just read that review and it is interesting.

    One of the things that I find so fascinating about the examination of consciousness is the realization that it is only and totally our own. What I mean is that the way I experience something can never ever truly be shared. My entire chain of being goes into each of my perceptions, colors them, shapes them and allows me to interpret them the unique way that I do. It's alot to assume that you could ever see something the same way that I do. We communicate and we create words to help us describe what we experience, and often the words themselves tell us how to experience, but what I see and what you see cannot be the same. Pure experience is meaningless. Pure observation without perspective doesn't make much sense. And my perspective is based upon the entire chain of my perceptions, my experiences, during my life. It's amazing that we can speak coherently to one another at all.

    A color inspires a chemical reaction in my brain different from yours. A food, a touch, a poem, a picture - all different. We can learn to appreciate similar things and we do often. But we don't ever know that what we experience is being done so in the same fashion as another person. We know ourselves better than anyone else knows us, and we know so little. Think of all the things you know about yourself that you would never share with anyone. Not secrets, just things about yourself that shape who you are, from the physical to the emotional to the intellectual. We are intimate with ourselves and no one else could ever participate in that intimacy. So we experience the world from that perspective and purely uniquely.

  3. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by Gary Wassner
    So who are we really? What remains sacred for us? Is my yearning for meaning just my genetic proclivity for the divine, and nothing more?
    *puzzled* Although our yearning for the spiritual may be explained scientifically, that doesn't have to mean there is nothing "more", does it? Sometimes, you feel a natural high and unity with the universe that wasn't induced by external substances like alcohol -- just because you can explain what chemicals cause what feelings doesn't make the feeling any less real, I think. I'm not really sure how to word myself, but I don't feel that science and the supernatural/spiritual are necessarily incompatible with each other.

    Quote Originally Posted by Gary Wassner
    And I hate Chinese food! Where's the gene for that?
    There is none. You just have to force feed yourself until you get used to it. I'm Chinese, and it's taken years to appreciate the more basic dishes.

  4. #19
    Books of Pellinor alison's Avatar
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    One of the things that I find so fascinating about the examination of consciousness is the realization that it is only and totally our own. What I mean is that the way I experience something can never ever truly be shared. My entire chain of being goes into each of my perceptions, colors them, shapes them and allows me to interpret them the unique way that I do. It's alot to assume that you could ever see something the same way that I do.
    I used to sit in the city and look around me, amazed by the thought of all these people who all, like me, were their own worlds...(and all of them thinking, like me, that they were the centre of the world, which is true of their worlds). Sometimes it seems amazing that people can communciate at all. And yet, somehow, we do: even if communication is a series of misunderstandings, we still manage something like exchange; sometimes, even if rarely, a profound exchange.

    Whitesilkbreeze, I'm a complete atheist/materialist, with a total belief in spiritual realities. I think human beings create those realities, which makes them even more poignant and precious, to my way of thinking, anyway.

  5. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by alison
    Whitesilkbreeze, I'm a complete atheist/materialist, with a total belief in spiritual realities. I think human beings create those realities, which makes them even more poignant and precious, to my way of thinking, anyway.
    Oh, that's a lovely way of thinking.

    I don't actually have a stance any which way. My upbringing has allowed me to get to know some basic Western and Eastern philosophies, which can be pretty different and interesting. My parents also have widely differing views (one's atheist, the other's not), but they're both more concerned with living well rather than the metaphysical side. (To quote Confucious: 'How can you try to understand death when you haven't understood life yet?')

  6. #21
    GemQuest Moderator Gary Wassner's Avatar
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    I actually agree totally with both of you. And that was a great way of describing your perspective Alison. I just wish it was that simple for me. Most of the time I am content to accept the meaning that I create through my family, my writing, my life in general. But not all of the time. There are many days when that's not enough, and everything looks to me like a big 'So what?'. Struggling to find the present and then to understand the value in something that elusive and impossible to grasp hold of is my battle. I feel time tugging on me always, and it scares me because everything, as soon as it's past, is gone, and I'm left with that one question again; So what?

    The mind craves a more lasting meaning, but the physical world just flaunts its temporality so lasciviously. I am not good at reconciliation.

  7. #22
    GemQuest Moderator Gary Wassner's Avatar
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    Oh, and Whitesilkbreeze (great name BTW), I am referring to Americanized Chinese food. I have never been to China, so I can't say I really hate Chinese food.

  8. #23
    Books of Pellinor alison's Avatar
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    I think making meaning is exhausting - that's why religions exist... Goethe has some quote I can't remember about the need to get out of bed every morning and rebuild the world again. Yes, so what? That's the question. What Camus defined as absurdity...

    What a bunch of little existentialists we are...

  9. #24
    GemQuest Moderator Gary Wassner's Avatar
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    It is exhausting and I really wish I didn't have to do it. EVER! Honestly, I shouldn't have to, and if my wife or kids, or dogs for that matter, read this, they would probably be insulted. But it's a different kind of meaning that we're talking about here. And it doesn't reflect negatively on the value that temporal relationships have. I won't be here always for the ones I love. And when I'm dead and gone, will the sum of my time here be no more than a big 'so what'?

  10. #25
    "There are two mistakes you can make in life. One is to think you're special. The other is to think you're not."

    On the one hand, if you consider all the millions of people who have lived and died, who live and die, and who will live and die, your own life really doesn't seem to be very important. It's just another one that will live and die through the passage of time, just like everyone else. No one will remember who you were or what you did, by and by. Your influence would be so close to zero, a mathematician would consider it negligible.

    But on the other hand, if you've touched other people's lives, I don't believe your life can only be one 'so what'. Although it seems to disappear forever eventually, it is not exactly equal to zero.

    Maybe it's because I'm young and I feel like I've got all the time in the world to touch other lives. In reality, I don't have any more time than anyone else because I don't actually know how much I do have.

  11. #26
    GemQuest Moderator Gary Wassner's Avatar
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    Yes, all you said is very true. This is really what my books are about, BTW. This very issue. Finding meaning. Is it in action? In those you touch? Is there any such thing as meaning above and beyond your own immediate gratificaitons and circumstances? The schizophrenic jumps from the immediate to the eternal cloud the issues, but also bring them into focus.

  12. #27
    Where's Tonto zorobnice's Avatar
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    Hey guys. Just came upon this thread, don't know why I haven't seen it before.
    I know what you mean when you say "Why Bother", "What does it matter", and yet it does seem to matter. Just this wekend I was thinking about my late dad. From a point of view he lievd his life and died, yet to me and my brothers and sisters, he changed our world, and I have to believe I will change my sons. His life helped me think about mine in a certain way, it affected me. There are things that he did I do not do and visa versa, yet i am forever changed because of him.

    Because I am in the computer industry, and when studied majored in Anatomy and Physiology, th thought process has always facinated me. We are 4 boys and 2 girls, yet all so diferent, and all so much alike. Our neural network is very much like a computer and learns from experience. We programme ourselves every second of the day. We commit an action evaluate it and then do it again differently, by virtue of ourselves we can almost never repeat things precisely the same.

    The paramters of my making will help define me, in the first few years of life I learn more from other people than I do from my own actions. Take going to church, it was something our family did. Only when I was in my teens did I question that, but then like it or not it has become part of the equation. I cannot discard the information that I received regarding deities etc. it's there like it or not. Now when I come to a place of decision I need to either accept or counter it with other info to make up my new path. Does this make sense at all??? AAARRRGGGGhhh I am struggling to express this thought.

    If I was taught that an object was a lemon, and when I came to a place to make a decision about whether that is true or not, I will gather my information and say, well what i am seeing is orange in colour therefore it is not a lemon, it is more likely to be an ornage. This does not mean lemons do not exist, I cannot remove the concept from my mind.

    I respect KatG's and everyone elses opinions, as a Christian it does help me ease the huge question mark of why we are here. Kat does not believe it but that's fine. I believe we all have to deal with the question sometime. I for one cannot accept that there is absolutely no reason for us, there must be (this is my opinion remember) cos without reason, then lets solve all the problems in the world by annihilating all humans and let the animals have the earth to themselves, they seem to do better at it than us anyway. And by doing so it won't matter because there was nop reall end purpose for the existance of man in the first place.

    I hope I was not too confusing here. Thanks for listening

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