Sunday, July 6, 2008

the Problem of Consciousness as it relates to the Theory of the annihilation of the Narrator

The "alienation of the subject is displaced by the latter's fragmentation," and indeed by the "death" of the subject itself--the end of the autonomous bourgeois monad or ego or individual." Coupled with that end is the end of a "unique style, along with the accompanying collective ideals of an artistic or political vanguard or avant-garde." The result is the now axiomatic "waning of affect" that manifests itself in an ability to produce satire or even parody, the latter giving way to "blank parody" or pastiche. "As for expression," writes Jameson, ". . . the liberation, in contemporary society, from the older anomie of the centered subject may also mean not merely a liberation from anxiety but a liberation from every other kind of feeling as well, since there is no longer a self present to do the feeling."

Dharmakirti's argument can be formulated as follows: The consciousness of the new born infant comes about from a preceding instance of cognition, which is an instance of consciousness just like the present moment of consciousness.

DalaiLama, The universe in a single atom, The Convergence of Science and Spirituality, P 132.

Central to the Buddha's teaching is the doctrine of anatman: "not-self"." This does not deny that the notion of an "I" works in the everyday world. In fact we need a solid stable ego to function in society. However, "I" is not real in an ultimate sense. It is a "name": a fictional construct that bears no correspondence to what is really the case. Because of this disjunction all kinds of problems ensue. Once our minds have constructed the notion of "I," it becomes our central reference point. We attach to it and identify with it totally. We attempt to advance what appears to be its interests, to defend it against real or apparent threats and menaces. And we look for ego-affirmation at every turn: confirmation that we exist and are valued. The Gordian Knot of preoccupations arising from all this absorbs us exclusively, at times to the point of obsession. This is , however, a narrow and constricted way of being. Though we cannot see it when caught in the convolutions of ego, there is something in us that is larger and deeper: a wholly other way of being.
John Snelling

Jaynes, Julian Canadian Psychology, April 1986, Vol. 27 (2): 128-148 Canadian Psychological Association Symposium on Consciousness (1985, Halifax, Canada) The problem of consciousness and its corollary the mind body problem have been with us at least since Descartes. An approach to a solution to both may be begun by carefully analyzing consciousness into its component features and modes. It will then be seen that consciousness is based on language, in particular its ability to form metaphors and analogies. The result is that consciousness is not a biological genetic giver, but a linguistic skill learned in human history. Previous to that transitional period, human volition consisted of hearing voices called gods, a relationship I am calling the bicameral mind.

3.6. This view is not without precedent. Indeed, even the word for consciousness in English, Russian and the romance languages translates as co-knowledge, those aspects of mental life that are communicated or are potentially communicable. Russian psychology has capitalized on this etymology, emphasizing the enhancement of conscious function that comes from social cooperation and communication (Luria, 1981). Many psychologists from Wundt onward have pointed out the privileged position of language in human awareness.
3.7. The appearance of language as a communicative act generated by the planning mechanism brought with it some immediate and very powerful advantages. Not the least of these is that one also hears one's own speech, so that the plan-monitoring mechanism has immediate access to the plan-executing mechanism's products. In the process of development the loop can become internal, as pointed out by Vygotskii (1962) in his analysis of the importance of internal speech in human thinking. The whole planning process is made recursive, and the enormous power of human thought becomes available with a relatively minor change in a mechanism that all primates share. Again, this process allows quick evolution of a seemingly complex addition to the human brain.
3.8. Needless to say, these advantages created a strong selective pressure in early humans or pre-humans to improve the language faculty. The categorical nature of the components of speech (phonemes and words) made it possible to transfer an idea from one human's brain to another's, under reasonably favorable conditions, without error. The task was accomplished with the communicative advantages of hierarchical digital coding, combining a small set of qualitatively different phonemes to make up distinct words. This does not apply to other animal communication systems.
3.9. Up to this point the operation of the plan-executing function has addressed only narrative consciousness, awareness of one's perceptions and actions. In the current analysis, this sort of consciousness would have to be admitted in animals as well, to the degree that they can separate behavior from environment with a planning mechanism. But language changes everything. If the currently executed plan is a linguistic one, a plan to perform a communicative act rather than a conventional action sequence, one can become aware of one's own ideas; an enhanced self-consciousness becomes possible.

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