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5 years ago  ::  Feb 09, 2010 - 11:19PM #1
2bme
Posts: 1,145
Science defines facts and verifies external relationships between these facts by the scientific method. This practice deals with the external world.

 

The ancient Socratic axiom "Know Thyself" suggests that the same is possible in relation to our inner world.  Science seeks the truth of the external world while inner empiricism seeks the truth of our inner world free of our dependence on imagination. A person capable of objectivity concerning both their inner world and the external world would be a real and rare person.

 

Jacob Needleman wrote an article on inner empiricism which contains much food for thought. Logic and reason is one thing but what of the needs of the heart?

 


 

 

 "...........But what can the mind do with this deep participatory urge? Even at its most brilliant, the intellect alone can only ask questions that skim the surface of Eros; it cannot answer these questions. Yet such questions--the meaning of life, the nature of the soul--need to be answered. If intellect is not up to the job, how can we penetrate these mysteries? The solution, I'm proposing, is that we can only extend the reach of intellect through experience. There is a certain type of experience that opens up the mind, expands our consciousness, and allows us to approach answers to many of these fundamental questions.


In this sense, as a philosopher who cares about questions of the heart, I'm essentially a student of consciousness. I'm talking about certain kinds of experiences that we have spontaneously as human beings, but which are all too uncommon and which are not valued or understood within our culture. But when they are approached from another angle, one sees that these experiences really point to an aspect of the mind, of the psyche, beyond reason and intellect. And they do more than that: They also point to the object of those experiences, that is, to a fundamental reality. These experiences present us with an alternative or complementary way of knowing the world around us as well as the world inside us. The philosophical approach I'm talking about values these "questions of the heart" as invitations to experience, as well as to cogitations of the cerebral intellect........"


The intellect is limited.  What truth it reveals remains at the surface.  The Bible describes three levels of truth as stone, water, and wine.  Stone refers to intellectual truth.  Water is its next step when it can begin to be digested and understood by the heart and becomes a part of our being much like sensory knowledge.


Man's psych is such that there is always the question as to what is real and what is just appearance. How do we know?


".......Kant proclaimed that there is no instrument in the human psyche for perceiving things as they are in themselves; and he presented his argument with such logical and metaphysical brilliance that one must bow to his awesome mind. The Critique of Pure Reason, in which he developed this thesis within the framework of a detailed and comprehensive system, is so astonishing that few people dared say anything different, except in the most circuitous way possible. Hegel tried, but that wasn't what survived of his work. Hardly anybody, particularly in the Anglo­American philosophical tradition, ever seriously challenged Kant's insistent proclamation, his proof, that we can ever know the Ding an sich--the thing­in­itself. Nobody would take on the awesome logic of Kant; and for more than a century his critique of empiricism reigned supreme, a monumental pinnacle of philosophical achievement-except it was wrong.


Kant's own instrument, his genius, was so brilliant it may have blinded him, at least in The Critique of Pure Reason, to the presence of that other instrument of investigation, his own inner experience. Certainly, the most highly developed capacity of reason and intellect could never, as Kant so brilliantly proved, burrow through the veils of appearances to the reality of the world-in­itself. But there is another way of knowing which Kant entirely omitted in The Critique.


The force of Kant's philosophy continues to shape much of Western thinking and science today. Positivism and Scientism are just two of the more recent manifestations of the Kantian underestimation of the cognitive capacities of the human psyche. Our culture is steeped in this paradigm. Freud, in his own way, perpetuated the Kantian myth of the mind............."


Can we witness the Ding an sich--in our inner world through the conscious ability to "know thyself?" Is it possible and are empirical standards possible in relation to efforts to Know Thyself?


".......For centuries, science has perfected the tools of external empiricism. This empiricism of the senses has been directed toward the outer world--or what is in effect perceived as the "outer world"--organized by categories of logic and the conceptual powers of discursive intellect. From there, it leads us to theory and prediction, experimentation and generation of further observations. In the scientific enterprise, the experiential element--the knowledge and subjective perception--of the scientist is directed exclusively outward.


In order to reach beyond the epistemological barrier so solidly put in place by Kant, to reach more deeply into the world of experience, we now need to develop what I call an "inner empiricism"--the empiricism of looking inward and experiencing the inner world. This is the world within the psyche, within the mind and the heart; it is the world of feelings, of direct sensations. And this is the world that yields metaphysical truths. This is the world that Kant overlooked. Prior to Kant, there were philosophers who recognized the importance of this other "instrument". Great metaphysicians, such as Plato or the ninth­century Christian philosopher Duns Scotus, or the great Islamic philosophers-almost all, I believe, based their metaphysical claims about reality on what they discovered from internal experience........"


Perhaps we must learn how to look just as the scientist needs to affirm data.


.......Hume, in other words, was completely unaware that he was stepping onto the very bottom rung of a giant ladder of self-observation, familiar in many cultures as the practice of meditation. What is remarkable, however, is that although Hume just dipped his toe into the water, that one touch created waves that revolutionized major streams of Western philosophy, from Kant onwards-without any development of a methodology for self­investigation.


Modem academic philosophers practice inner empiricism even more primitively than Hume. They assume--as our culture assumes--that people have a natural capacity to look at themselves. All you need to do is stop and analyze or observe your thinking. But, as any serious practitioner of meditation knows, deep self­insight is not something that comes naturally to the mind. It needs to be cultivated over time and with careful guidance.


In Western culture, this faculty of self­observation is often completely overlooked, even denied. For instance, I had a colleague who professed an academically respectable stance that there are no such things as mental images. He was willing to argue and defend this philosophical position because he wasn't even aware how to put it to a test. At a party one evening, after a few drinks, I suggested he assist me in a card trick. I said "Take a card. Now, without looking at it, guess what it is and don't tell me." He took a card and an instant later exclaimed "My God, I just had a mental image!" That one moment of internal observation completely refuted his whole philosophy. He had never bothered to look into his own mind; he hadn't known how to. A little wine freed him of his customary prejudice about what was supposed to happen in his mind. The image just appeared and he saw it"

I am just picking passages from the article and suggesting that you read it to consider the potential for inner empiricism.  Can we become able to "see" our inner world allowing direct observation to reveal the reality of the human condition and its potential to relate to higher consciousness?  I believe so and would be another way of uniting the scientific method with the essence of religion. 



I mention that episode to underline the importance of the need for training in inner empiricism. When, after sustained guidance from an experienced teacher, you look deeply into yourself you see not only something about who you are; you see, also, something about the nature of reality, about the universe. Furthermore, what you see can be expressed in conceptual, abstract language, with precise logic and systematization. And that, in my opinion, is the true methodology of philosophy. It yields knowledge just as valid as any gained from the application of scientific empiricism. The only difference is that conventional science yields communicable information about the external world. In both cases, however, the investigators developed the capability to conduct careful observations and to report their findings in precise language as a result of years of dedicated training, guided by masters in their field.........................."


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5 years ago  ::  Feb 10, 2010 - 6:48AM #2
Don't_Be_Captious
Posts: 1,035

Feb 9, 2010 -- 11:19PM, 2bme wrote:



Can we witness the Ding an sich--in our inner world through the conscious ability to "know thyself?" Is it possible and are empirical standards possible in relation to efforts to Know Thyself?





I'm the Kant guy around here (to some extent, also ncg, although imo his view is completely different than mine, and imo his is mostly incorrect).


I've been saying forever that Kant avers that the only thing which the human intellect can know as thing-in-itself, is that human's own self -- thus affirming Socrates' "Know thyself."


So you are wrong.  You're acting as if Kant said the exact opposite of what he actually said.  Everything in the universe, in relation to the mind, is appearance, not knowable as thing-in-itself...except the human mind itself, the only possible (but not at all guaranteed) thing in the universe knowable as -- qua -- the mind, e.g. thing-in-itself.


(This leads directly to Kant's theory of autonomy & free will, btw.)


Pretty much just as Socrates emphasized & implied, this is an historical, organic process:  You can only know yourself after much empirical investigation, e.g. introspection, mindfulness, etc.  This is very similar to nearly every "self-awareness" religious doctrine in history, which is one of the main reasons I've always felt that Kant is very compatible with Buddhism in this regard (although I have to reject some of Kant's own outright pronouncements to get this round peg to fit in the square hole).

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5 years ago  ::  Feb 10, 2010 - 6:56AM #3
Kwinters
Posts: 22,904

Feb 9, 2010 -- 11:19PM, 2bme wrote:


Can we witness the Ding an sich--in our inner world through the conscious ability to "know thyself?" Is it possible and are empirical standards possible in relation to efforts to Know Thyself?






No and no.
Jesus had two dads, and he turned out alright.~ Andy Gussert

“Feminism has fought no wars. It has killed no opponents. It has set up no concentration camps, starved no enemies, practiced no cruelties. Its battles have been for education, for the vote, for better working conditions…for safety on the streets…for child care, for social welfare…for rape crisis centers, women’s refuges, reforms in the law.

If someone says, “Oh, I’m not a feminist,” I ask, “Why, what’s your problem?”

Dale Spender
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5 years ago  ::  Feb 10, 2010 - 10:13AM #4
2bme
Posts: 1,145

Feb 10, 2010 -- 6:48AM, Don't_Be_Captious wrote:


Feb 9, 2010 -- 11:19PM, 2bme wrote:



Can we witness the Ding an sich--in our inner world through the conscious ability to "know thyself?" Is it possible and are empirical standards possible in relation to efforts to Know Thyself?





I'm the Kant guy around here (to some extent, also ncg, although imo his view is completely different than mine, and imo his is mostly incorrect).


I've been saying forever that Kant avers that the only thing which the human intellect can know as thing-in-itself, is that human's own self -- thus affirming Socrates' "Know thyself."


So you are wrong.  You're acting as if Kant said the exact opposite of what he actually said.  Everything in the universe, in relation to the mind, is appearance, not knowable as thing-in-itself...except the human mind itself, the only possible (but not at all guaranteed) thing in the universe knowable as -- qua -- the mind, e.g. thing-in-itself.


(This leads directly to Kant's theory of autonomy & free will, btw.)


Pretty much just as Socrates emphasized & implied, this is an historical, organic process:  You can only know yourself after much empirical investigation, e.g. introspection, mindfulness, etc.  This is very similar to nearly every "self-awareness" religious doctrine in history, which is one of the main reasons I've always felt that Kant is very compatible with Buddhism in this regard (although I have to reject some of Kant's own outright pronouncements to get this round peg to fit in the square hole).




From the article:


This is an unconventional approach to philosophy in our culture. Yet it is one that can throw light on many of the great classic questions of philosophy. For example, "Is the world real, or only a construct of appearances?" Behind the appearances presented to us by our senses, is there a real world? And if so, how can we ever know it? These problems have been argued over for centuries, often brilliantly; and nobody has argued better or more cleverly about these points than Immanuel Kant. There are many ways of looking at the issue; and what we find is a shifting mosaic of appearances depending on our point of view.


What I want to emphasize is that once we begin to take seriously the potential capacity of the human mind for other kinds of experiences--for other states of consciousness--and develop the proper language and understanding, we discover that the whole question of appearance versus reality itself shifts. Once we begin to realize that there is a selfhood that is more real, under what we usually call "my self ", we come to recognize that not only do we live in a world of appearances outside, we also live in an internal world of appearances.


At this point, the whole issue gets really interesting. Now we see that in order to know the world behind external appearances, we have to get behind the appearances of our inner world. The only way to gain real knowledge of the outer world is by penetrating the appearances of the inner world. Thus, if I want to know the numinous, the thing­in­itself, I need to activate that instrument in myself that is capable of perceiving it. This is the very "instrument" that Kant proved, so he believed, did not exist.


Kant proclaimed that there is no instrument in the human psyche for perceiving things as they are in themselves; and he presented his argument with such logical and metaphysical brilliance that one must bow to his awesome mind. The Critique of Pure Reason, in which he developed this thesis within the framework of a detailed and comprehensive system, is so astonishing that few people dared say anything different, except in the most circuitous way possible. Hegel tried, but that wasn't what survived of his work. Hardly anybody, particularly in the Anglo­American philosophical tradition, ever seriously challenged Kant's insistent proclamation, his proof, that we can ever know the Ding an sich--the thing­in­itself. Nobody would take on the awesome logic of Kant; and for more than a century his critique of empiricism reigned supreme, a monumental pinnacle of philosophical achievement-except it was wrong.


Kant's own instrument, his genius, was so brilliant it may have blinded him, at least in The Critique of Pure Reason, to the presence of that other instrument of investigation, his own inner experience. Certainly, the most highly developed capacity of reason and intellect could never, as Kant so brilliantly proved, burrow through the veils of appearances to the reality of the world-in­itself. But there is another way of knowing which Kant entirely omitted in The Critique.


The force of Kant's philosophy continues to shape much of Western thinking and science today. Positivism and Scientism are just two of the more recent manifestations of the Kantian underestimation of the cognitive capacities of the human psyche. Our culture is steeped in this paradigm. Freud, in his own way, perpetuated the Kantian myth of the mind.


Are you suggesting that Kant did identify that instrument in myself that is capable of perceiving the thing­in­itself?


Actually introspection precludes the ability to "know thyself" To know thyself is the direct experience of oneself and not analysis.  In that sense to know thyself is to forget oneself for the sake of the objective knowledge of direct experience.

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5 years ago  ::  Feb 10, 2010 - 10:35AM #5
F1fan
Posts: 11,976

Feb 10, 2010 -- 10:13AM, 2bme wrote:


From the article:


This is an unconventional approach to philosophy in our culture. Yet it is one that can throw light on many of the great classic questions of philosophy. For example, "Is the world real, or only a construct of appearances?" Behind the appearances presented to us by our senses, is there a real world? And if so, how can we ever know it? These problems have been argued over for centuries, often brilliantly; and nobody has argued better or more cleverly about these points than Immanuel Kant. There are many ways of looking at the issue; and what we find is a shifting mosaic of appearances depending on our point of view.


What I want to emphasize is that once we begin to take seriously the potential capacity of the human mind for other kinds of experiences--for other states of consciousness--and develop the proper language and understanding, we discover that the whole question of appearance versus reality itself shifts. Once we begin to realize that there is a selfhood that is more real, under what we usually call "my self ", we come to recognize that not only do we live in a world of appearances outside, we also live in an internal world of appearances.


At this point, the whole issue gets really interesting. Now we see that in order to know the world behind external appearances, we have to get behind the appearances of our inner world. The only way to gain real knowledge of the outer world is by penetrating the appearances of the inner world. Thus, if I want to know the numinous, the thing­in­itself, I need to activate that instrument in myself that is capable of perceiving it. This is the very "instrument" that Kant proved, so he believed, did not exist.



This doesn't explain how one discerns what appearances are and are not.  If he used the word "image" instead of appearance it would be a bit clearer.  What he seems to be talking about is how we humans use concepts as descriptors of the world and even ourselves, often being vague and incomplete constructs.  They can easily be incorrect, too.  He seems to be advocating for being more aware that we use these shortcuts, and that we should slow down and self-check our mental images for accuracy.  Of course this includes the self.  


Most all of us want to know the self.  The dilemma, as I've noted before, is the lack of introspective tools, the lack of courage to introspect, and the fear of being responsible for knowing the self can impede a real effort.  We see how some theists treat their religious identity as an authentic self when it's just an abstraction, a characature of the self.  A person can know the characature and mistake it for the real self.  This is why I have said that one can check honesty and authenticity IF a person can reject all the beliefs they identify the self through.  If you can't do it, you're emotionally dependent, and don't know the self well enough to ween off belief.

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5 years ago  ::  Feb 10, 2010 - 10:39AM #6
2bme
Posts: 1,145

Feb 10, 2010 -- 6:56AM, Kwinters wrote:


Feb 9, 2010 -- 11:19PM, 2bme wrote:


Can we witness the Ding an sich--in our inner world through the conscious ability to "know thyself?" Is it possible and are empirical standards possible in relation to efforts to Know Thyself?






No and no.



Stop being ambiguous. Smile Are you suggesting that we are incapable of self knowledge so empirical standards in relation to the efforts to do so for the sake of revealing self deception are meaningless?

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5 years ago  ::  Feb 10, 2010 - 10:49AM #7
Cryano
Posts: 2,828

There is something ambiguous about "No?"

Religion is the longest running most successful con game in history. It works because the victims never realize they have been taken. They die first.

Although certain modern catholics are beginning to see the light.
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5 years ago  ::  Feb 10, 2010 - 10:53AM #8
F1fan
Posts: 11,976

Feb 10, 2010 -- 10:49AM, Cryano wrote:


There is something ambiguous about "No?"




Maybe.  Maybe not.

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5 years ago  ::  Feb 10, 2010 - 10:55AM #9
2bme
Posts: 1,145

Feb 10, 2010 -- 10:49AM, Cryano wrote:


There is something ambiguous about "No?"




Thank goodness for that or a man would always believe a woman when she says No.Wink

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5 years ago  ::  Feb 10, 2010 - 11:16AM #10
2bme
Posts: 1,145

Feb 10, 2010 -- 10:35AM, F1fan wrote:


Feb 10, 2010 -- 10:13AM, 2bme wrote:


From the article:


This is an unconventional approach to philosophy in our culture. Yet it is one that can throw light on many of the great classic questions of philosophy. For example, "Is the world real, or only a construct of appearances?" Behind the appearances presented to us by our senses, is there a real world? And if so, how can we ever know it? These problems have been argued over for centuries, often brilliantly; and nobody has argued better or more cleverly about these points than Immanuel Kant. There are many ways of looking at the issue; and what we find is a shifting mosaic of appearances depending on our point of view.


What I want to emphasize is that once we begin to take seriously the potential capacity of the human mind for other kinds of experiences--for other states of consciousness--and develop the proper language and understanding, we discover that the whole question of appearance versus reality itself shifts. Once we begin to realize that there is a selfhood that is more real, under what we usually call "my self ", we come to recognize that not only do we live in a world of appearances outside, we also live in an internal world of appearances.


At this point, the whole issue gets really interesting. Now we see that in order to know the world behind external appearances, we have to get behind the appearances of our inner world. The only way to gain real knowledge of the outer world is by penetrating the appearances of the inner world. Thus, if I want to know the numinous, the thing­in­itself, I need to activate that instrument in myself that is capable of perceiving it. This is the very "instrument" that Kant proved, so he believed, did not exist.



This doesn't explain how one discerns what appearances are and are not.  If he used the word "image" instead of appearance it would be a bit clearer.  What he seems to be talking about is how we humans use concepts as descriptors of the world and even ourselves, often being vague and incomplete constructs.  They can easily be incorrect, too.  He seems to be advocating for being more aware that we use these shortcuts, and that we should slow down and self-check our mental images for accuracy.  Of course this includes the self.  


Most all of us want to know the self.  The dilemma, as I've noted before, is the lack of introspective tools, the lack of courage to introspect, and the fear of being responsible for knowing the self can impede a real effort.  We see how some theists treat their religious identity as an authentic self when it's just an abstraction, a characature of the self.  A person can know the characature and mistake it for the real self.  This is why I have said that one can check honesty and authenticity IF a person can reject all the beliefs they identify the self through.  If you can't do it, you're emotionally dependent, and don't know the self well enough to ween off belief.




This is why Socrates was considered wise becuse he came to se that he knew nothing.  This is the beginning but a hard beginning to stomach.  It is very difficult to admit and become impartial.  Jesus said we had to be like little children.  By this he meant not burdened with pre-conceptions but becoming capable of impartial experience.


Theists, atheists, or anything else ending in ist is in the same position if their "being" starves for the truth behind their defense of isms.  Without this foundation of admitting our nothingness, we are incapable of true inner empricism and just produce new variations of isms often leaving a person worse off then before  experimenting with what they didn't understand.


Simone Weil explains the inadequacy of introspection in place of conscious experience quite well IMO in the following:


"Introspection is a psychological state incompatible with other states.

"1. Thinking about things of the world precludes introspection.

"2. Very strong emotion precludes introspection.

"3. All actions which require attention preclude introspection.

"To sum up, thought, action and emotion exclude examination of oneself.

"[therefore] introspection results in one's taking notice, for the most part, of what is passive in human thought. By the very fact that one keeps a watch on oneself, one changes: and the change is for the worse since we prevent that which is of greatest value in us from playing its part."
– Lectures on Philosophy



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