Making Sense

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Making Sense
unenlightened
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#61 - Quote - Permalink
Posted Mar 13, 2012 - 4:22 AM:

Not to get too bogged down in the details, try another example, in black and white.

I suggest that this indicates that there is no pure perception untrammelled by thought, but that interpretation takes place automatically and before conscious perception.

In fact it is ridiculous to deny it. And if one investigates, it is pretty clear that there are both automatic, built in, factors and also learned ones.

There seems to be a confusion in the thread about the terms 'thought' and 'memory'. "...thought is a movement in memory" is true to an extent, but there is no sharp line that cuts off habits and automatisms of the senses from thought. There is, specifically, no passive perception, devoid of mental activity.

Which is not to say that the op is not saying something interesting. But I would suggest that to see is already to have made a judgement - that they are the same thing. Where there is a problem is that self-seeing, self-judgement, is indeed confined to memory, since it is a judgement of the judging system, and must always be, as it were, a new judgement of a previous judgement. Nothing wrong with that, either, except that the loop is closed if the new identifies with the old.

At the point where I judge that my judgement is poor, I am in trouble - and of course it is poor at times.

InfinitRelative
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#62 - Quote - Permalink
Posted Mar 13, 2012 - 4:42 AM:

unenlightened wrote:

There seems to be a confusion in the thread about the terms 'thought' and 'memory'. "...thought is a movement in memory" is true to an extent, but there is no sharp line that cuts off habits and automatisms of the senses from thought. There is, specifically, no passive perception, devoid of mental activity.



I like how you put this. Would you define thought as mental activity? That would best sum up my definition for it in this thread, and was curious as to if you and I differ on that point.
unenlightened
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#63 - Quote - Permalink
Posted Mar 13, 2012 - 7:03 AM:

InfinitRelative wrote:


I like how you put this. Would you define thought as mental activity? That would best sum up my definition for it in this thread, and was curious as to if you and I differ on that point.


Well I think (in a particular sense) that when we go into it, we discover that we are not always sure what we mean. There are differences between the thoughts that I express here as words and the mental activity that goes on when, say, I recognise my wife. I'm sure the OP does not want to say that there is some merit in not recognising my wife, or forgetting how to read, and these are clearly to do with memory and perception together, functioning properly. The word we use is unimportant as long as we are clear what is being said.

The OP wrote:
Questioning the motivation to seek sense I became aware of the desperation in us to make sense of everything we encounter. Somehow I was not convinced that there was truth in making sense. It seemed fake and false. Too limited. By the time I started to question our penchant to make sense of everything I was clear that a confused mind cannot simply know what to do. So I abandoned the whole business of making sense. In time it just dropped away. Leaving the mind free and unencumbered. The most amazing revelation about losing this business of making sense was the realisation that the mind is wholesome and complete as a given. One doesn't need in life to chase this.


I think here one can see 'making sense' as a deliberate effort, rather as we do in reading a difficult post - 'what is this guy going on about?' and this involves relating what one can understand of what is being said to all the other things one knows - and knowledge is more clearly memory, whether it is know-how or know-that.

It seems to me that what is being described is the experience that this effort is counter-productive. The mind functions better when it is allowed to do its job without interference from... And here is the interesting question, I think; what or whom is it that interferes, and chases? The thinker, the understander, the deliberator, is another thought trying to grasp the process of understanding and thinking - and failing. Because when that thought is quiet, the process of the mind can function freely, and the amazing revelation occurs. Which is to say, I think, that understanding is not a 'mental activity' but a mental inactivity; it is there in the perception, where perception, now, includes the proper functioning of memory; there is nothing for 'me' to do as deliberate thinking.

So hopefully, I am not struggling, here, to define and control, to clarify and understand, or to make a point, but these things happen of their own accord and, as it were, write themselves without my interference.
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#64 - Quote - Permalink
Posted Mar 13, 2012 - 9:56 AM:

unenlightened wrote:

what or whom is it that interferes, and chases? The thinker, the understander, the deliberator, is another thought trying to grasp the process of understanding and thinking - and failing. Because when that thought is quiet, the process of the mind can function freely, and the amazing revelation occurs. Which is to say, I think, that understanding is not a 'mental activity' but a mental inactivity;


For a long time I struggled with this only to discover that it's the very act of judging a situation and giving it a label which creates the actor and the goal. I doubt seriously if the actor is existent in some form in the brain. I feel the actor gets a life as soon as a situation is judged especially as contrary to what the brain perceives to be true. Once this conflict begins then the whole game of wanting to operate on oneself begins.

Strangely we give labels a lot of energy. They assume such a powerful presence on our consciousness's landscape. If it weren't for this energy we infuse labels with on account of our willingness to accept them it would be difficult for a label to match truth perceived effortlessly by the brain during it's normal function.

I am really glad you brought up one of the most fascinating subjects, that of understanding or learning and you've given it a good start by calling it mental inactivity.

I find human learning a deeply fascinating process.

To me now learning is no longer knowledge acquired, which makes it very fascinating. So what is it that's happening?

There is knowledge gained, of what life is not. The discovery I feel is akin to realising going down a path is no longer a viable option. It's like the brain tutors itself on the many pitfalls its used to encountering.

Eventually though this knowledge of what is not drops away when all you remain with is undefined reality. I am now increasingly of the view that when the brain remains relatively free of conflict the whole business of the need to understand drops away.


Edited by DKG on Mar 13, 2012 - 10:30 AM
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#65 - Quote - Permalink
Posted Mar 13, 2012 - 10:25 AM:

I don't blame the brain for thinking its labels are about as real as reality perceived. i think for millions of years the brain's ability to process a relatively stable image of reality or specifically matter has given it the confidence in this process. The label it has of water hasn't proved to be inaccurate and so also millions of other labels. So when it applies the same process to judging a situation it automatically assumes the label it assigns to a situation as highly credible. Discounting that credibility and being open to possible errors in label assignment is the beginning of conflict resolution
cosmicDust
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#66 - Quote - Permalink
Posted Mar 13, 2012 - 1:31 PM:

DKG wrote:
I have limited knowledge about the science of colour to pass judgement on the experiment.


This is a far more prudent position to take than the earlier one regarding the experiment.

Just the idea of someone suggesting that we see colours only when language defines it is a bit too odd for me to accept.

At most I can see the brain playing a role as it processes information from the eye. So to the extent we can say colour is a function of the brain processing. But to say that the brain will process only those colours language defines seems bizarre.


I can understand your reluctance to accept what seems bizarre on the surface. But the reality, according to ongoing research in neuroscience, is that the mental phenomena we perceive internally is a poor indicator of brain processes. Just to take two examples in the visual faculty:

1 - When we view the world through our eyes, we get the appearance of a fully formed, fairly stable visual field. But the area that the eye can see clearly and with full colour is really concentrated in a much smaller area of the retina. The visual field is actually constructed and maintained by unconscious processes of the brain as the eye constantly scans and darts about filling in details. But we are not aware of the constant eye motions nor the assembly and maintenance of the visual data.

2 - The condition known as Synesthesia can mix up sensory information, making letters or numbers to be perceived as certain colours being a common instance. Other senses may also be mixed.

The significance of 1 is that what appears to be common sense by simple introspection may not be how the brain actually works. The significance of 2 is that it is not at all implausible or even uncommon for different regions of the brain to engage in cross-activation, i.e. language/concepts with visual.

I think the lesson to take away from this is that simple introspection and juggling broad concepts like "thoughts" "memory" "labels" etc., is not a very reliable guide to brain function, which is very complex and can vary greatly among individuals. What may work for some will not necessarily work for others. At the very least, theories about what makes sense in the psychological realm should be grounded in whatever well substantiated theories of experimental psychology and neuroscience we currently have available to us. Otherwise we just end up with wild speculation.
InfinitRelative
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#67 - Quote - Permalink
Posted Mar 13, 2012 - 5:27 PM:

unenlightened wrote:



Which is to say, I think, that understanding is not a 'mental activity' but a mental inactivity; it is there in the perception, where perception, now, includes the proper functioning of memory; there is nothing for 'me' to do as deliberate thinking. .


I wouldn't agree that understanding is "mental inactivity". You came to this revelation by quieting one thought which is trying to diagram understanding, but failing, then in the absence of all understanding has become inactive within the brain. This one thought doesn't account for the other thought process' occurring to build the initial understanding the first process mentioned was not stopped. What it sounds like is the initial mental activity of building associations and an understanding of ones experience isn't halted, rather its just the speculation on that activity by another process in the brain. This would mean that understanding is still a mental activity.


DKG wrote:

I don't blame the brain for thinking its labels are about as real as reality perceived. i think for millions of years the brain's ability to process a relatively stable image of reality or specifically matter has given it the confidence in this process. The label it has of water hasn't proved to be inaccurate and so also millions of other labels. So when it applies the same process to judging a situation it automatically assumes the label it assigns to a situation as highly credible. Discounting that credibility and being open to possible errors in label assignment is the beginning of conflict resolution



Building labels to me only seems to get in the way when we fail to understand that the label is nothing more then a tool we use. We associate the experience of red to the word red as a method of indexing experience for ease of access, and as a means of sharing that experience with each other, so we can build further validation of the experience and what it is. When we start to confuse the associated symbol (the word red however it may appear in this example) we do start to do something detrimental. We now confuse the properties or occurrence of the symbol with the occurrence of red itself. At that point you should see that your perception of the word from your perception of the color is different, and so the association has to be broken back down, as the label is very distinguishable from the thing labeled.


That is to say, the label is as real as the thing, but it's a completely different kind of thing then the object the label is associated to. The ink making up the word cola on a can is as real as the cola in the can, but they are far from the same thing, despite their clear association to each other. You don't confuse this kind of label with the cola though, because you are ware of the differences in what you're experiencing. For me this works the same on the mental level, but it's harder for us to see the difference because the mind makes the connection when it thinks about the label versus the thing. You thinking the word cola is different then thinking about actual cola though.
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#68 - Quote - Permalink
Posted Mar 13, 2012 - 6:45 PM:

@cosmicDust

The Himba don't have the word blue in their vocabulary hence they cannot see blue !!

Wow if science proves this beyond doubt (debate has been going on for 150 years so far inconclusively) that will be the day.

The day this is announced across the planet I know people will then say just like you need the word blue in your vocabulary to see the colour so too you need the word God in your vocabulary to actually see God. I can see more than half the planet rejoicing that science finally proves what they knew all along, that belief is essential to perceive reality.

There already are large groups of people in eastern countries who actually believe that the experience of a transcendental reality has to do with chanting certain sounds.

Talk about engineering perception of reality !! Time to head off into the jungles? smiling face

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#69 - Quote - Permalink
Posted Mar 13, 2012 - 7:47 PM:

DKG wrote:


The Himba don't have the word blue in their vocabulary hence they cannot see blue !!





Wouldn't it make more sense to say the Himba can't see blue, thus they have no word for it? The above would imply they can't see blue because they have no word for it, but a baby only learns what the word blue means because he can see the color associated to it. This is the problem with over thinking the association between a word and the thing it refers to.
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#70 - Quote - Permalink
Posted Mar 13, 2012 - 8:18 PM:

InfinitRelative wrote:
Wouldn't it make more sense to say the Himba can't see blue, thus they have no word for it? The above would imply they can't see blue because they have no word for it,


The Himba experiment is actually suggesting the latter. The experiment results seem to suggest that the Himba don't see blue because they don't have a word to distinguish between blue and green and in the other instance the researcher claims they can see a camouflaged green only because they have separate words for different shades of green.

So according to the experiment having fewer words to describe colours (4/5 for the Himba as against 11 for us) means they don't see or are not able to distinguish between colours.

it's this assertion by the experiment that I have difficulty in accepting. As mentioned by you I too feel that the Himba don't have a word for blue because they don't see it. And inability to see blue usually entails the inability of the retinal cones to process the shorter wavelengths
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