AuthorTopic: Sam Harris: The Self is an Illusion  (Read 1379 times)

Offline knarf

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Sam Harris: The Self is an Illusion
« on: January 21, 2021, 12:50:52 AM »
This man makes the case for the illusion of a personal self...as Buddhism teaches. He rarely will talk about "metaphysics" unless trying to explain that to make up narratives that involve the ego/"personal sense of self" are illusions. Pie in the sky...fairy tales. Which are fine if you realize that they are just your imagination. :)

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/fajfkO_X0l0&fs=1" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/fajfkO_X0l0&fs=1</a>

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NECROCAPITALISM at http://openmind693.wordpress.com ‘Rolling thunder. Shock. A noble one in fear and dread sets things in order and is watchful.’ I-Ching (Hex.51)

Offline Phil Rumpole

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Re: Sam Harris: The Self is an Illusion
« Reply #1 on: January 21, 2021, 03:11:17 AM »
This man makes the case for the illusion of a personal self...as Buddhism teaches. He rarely will talk about "metaphysics" unless trying to explain that to make up narratives that involve the ego/"personal sense of self" are illusions. Pie in the sky...fairy tales. Which are fine if you realize that they are just your imagination. :)

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/fajfkO_X0l0&fs=1" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/fajfkO_X0l0&fs=1</a>

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/YNn361umypM&fs=1" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/YNn361umypM&fs=1</a>


Trademark "cognitive science" and Harris error. Thought experiment and empirical science do not mix, which is why no applied field such as neuroscience, AI or programming ever cites cognitive science, only the other way around. Cognitive scientist draw on AI, computing and neuroscience to make arguments about the nature of mind.

 Philosophical thought experiment is only hypothetical, because it does not match the physical world. He says IF half the people tomorrow said they are not afraid in spite of having all the biofeedback measures associated with it, the observation would be useless, and so it IS useless. The problem is the hypothetical situation does not exist  in the real world. Polygraph is closely related as well and can be used. He would need to say lying about being scared trumps the polygraph. The trace wave of P xxx or N xxx for yes or no has been very reliable for 5-10 yrs. P for positive and N for negative as the first spike from baseline, so whether you are thinking yes or no can be measured. Computing power means that if the same words are read or thought enough times and recorded the computer will recognise a wave pattern and eventually read your mind if the waves are being monitored. It doesn't matter then if half the people said they are not scared, we know they are thinking yes before they say no. Not that half the people have any reason to try and confound the results anyway.

He says people trying to become like Jesus or Buddha etc by working on self actualization (I forget his exact words) experience more oneness and less seperation (again I forget the exact words) but DO NOT gain any additional understanding of anything. This is to say Jesus or Buddha had no better understanding of anything, and simply were blissing out. This is basically the same as what I suspect about claims of enlightenment coming from psychedelics like mushrooms, LSD, psilocybin, ayuhusca and Mike Tyson's toad venom. I conclude there isn't enough evidence that they received any special enlightenment because they can't tell me what it was. Although I keep an open mind that they might have learned something they just can't put into words, I mainly suspect all they had was hallucinations and a different affective state (feeling) based on receptors being activated that normally are not (like nicotine receptors) or altered levels of neurotransmitters.

Harris is making DEFINITE conclusions that the active practice toward enlightenment and becoming more like Jesus or Bhuddha produces no additional knowledge of the universe. That is to say Jesus either did not do miracles or did them with no perception or understanding of how it happened, including walking on water, materializing or manifesting food, healing.

He makes the assumption there is no answered prayer/miracle, heightened perception, or paranormal phenomena, there is only a PCP /Ecstasy type effect aka 'blissing out', giving a reduced sense of seperateness. That is an assumption he has made without testing or investigating. Yogis considered their mind as a laboratory, not through thinking, but it's absence. They retained their consciousness  and then recorded and reported what they experienced and became aware of through different spectrum and dimension. They drew diagrams or sketches of DNA strands or other changes to things like cell organelles. Harris doesn't explain any of that, I assume because he is completely unaware of it, in the same way he often mentions astrology as baseless superstition. I assume he is going on 'your day by the stars' and not looking at what data and evidence supports the occult science. I know very little about it unlike serious students of it, but have observed that indeed the colour of the stone associated with the star sign is a preference for the colour clothing or paint they buy. I've got no hesitation believing there's also associations with physical or personality traits. It isn't that everyone on earth is split into 12 personalities as he assumes.

You could say to Harris that people are also are engaged in baseless superstition if they claim they can tell by a person's face if they are look kind, mean, greedy, honest, cheerful, melancholy, untrustworthy etc.

He also has the problem of rejecting self reporting for measures of fear, but accepts that people engaging in attempt to self actualize give reliable reports of less seperation and more oneness with their fellow man. By his own reasoning, tomorrow half of them could say they did not experience it, so it is not reliable now. Harris has a lot of interesting thought, but is not always correct.
« Last Edit: January 21, 2021, 03:36:58 AM by Phil Rumpole »
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Offline knarf

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Re: Sam Harris: The Self is an Illusion
« Reply #2 on: January 21, 2021, 05:56:02 AM »

 Harris has a lot of interesting thought, but is not always correct.

Can you imagine one person on the whole planet right now ( or even throughout the past ) who HAS been "correct" ALL the time? It is fine to give rebuttal's and critique's of someone's philosophy, but I see the responder as being just as "incorrect" in their subjective take. This is a point that needs careful scrutiny. Does belief in something make it correct and "real/truthful"? No, so all the disagreements, including the one I am composing, is just a stab in the dark. But, I will acknowledge that. It seems there is a postmodern trend to think/believe that one's reaction to our existential crisis' ( virus, climate change, mass enequality, water depletion, etc ) has some real merit. No it doesn't . It is a symbolic signaling reaction to danger, and so it is filled with emotion. It should be, the Titanic is sinking, are we to act like it is party time?
NECROCAPITALISM at http://openmind693.wordpress.com ‘Rolling thunder. Shock. A noble one in fear and dread sets things in order and is watchful.’ I-Ching (Hex.51)

Offline Eddie

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Re: Sam Harris: The Self is an Illusion
« Reply #3 on: January 21, 2021, 06:44:09 AM »
This man makes the case for the illusion of a personal self...as Buddhism teaches. He rarely will talk about "metaphysics" unless trying to explain that to make up narratives that involve the ego/"personal sense of self" are illusions. Pie in the sky...fairy tales. Which are fine if you realize that they are just your imagination. :)

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/fajfkO_X0l0&fs=1" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/fajfkO_X0l0&fs=1</a>

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/YNn361umypM&fs=1" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/YNn361umypM&fs=1</a>


Trademark "cognitive science" and Harris error. Thought experiment and empirical science do not mix, which is why no applied field such as neuroscience, AI or programming ever cites cognitive science, only the other way around. Cognitive scientist draw on AI, computing and neuroscience to make arguments about the nature of mind.

 Philosophical thought experiment is only hypothetical, because it does not match the physical world. He says IF half the people tomorrow said they are not afraid in spite of having all the biofeedback measures associated with it, the observation would be useless, and so it IS useless. The problem is the hypothetical situation does not exist  in the real world. Polygraph is closely related as well and can be used. He would need to say lying about being scared trumps the polygraph. The trace wave of P xxx or N xxx for yes or no has been very reliable for 5-10 yrs. P for positive and N for negative as the first spike from baseline, so whether you are thinking yes or no can be measured. Computing power means that if the same words are read or thought enough times and recorded the computer will recognise a wave pattern and eventually read your mind if the waves are being monitored. It doesn't matter then if half the people said they are not scared, we know they are thinking yes before they say no. Not that half the people have any reason to try and confound the results anyway.

He says people trying to become like Jesus or Buddha etc by working on self actualization (I forget his exact words) experience more oneness and less seperation (again I forget the exact words) but DO NOT gain any additional understanding of anything. This is to say Jesus or Buddha had no better understanding of anything, and simply were blissing out. This is basically the same as what I suspect about claims of enlightenment coming from psychedelics like mushrooms, LSD, psilocybin, ayuhusca and Mike Tyson's toad venom. I conclude there isn't enough evidence that they received any special enlightenment because they can't tell me what it was. Although I keep an open mind that they might have learned something they just can't put into words, I mainly suspect all they had was hallucinations and a different affective state (feeling) based on receptors being activated that normally are not (like nicotine receptors) or altered levels of neurotransmitters.

Harris is making DEFINITE conclusions that the active practice toward enlightenment and becoming more like Jesus or Bhuddha produces no additional knowledge of the universe. That is to say Jesus either did not do miracles or did them with no perception or understanding of how it happened, including walking on water, materializing or manifesting food, healing.

He makes the assumption there is no answered prayer/miracle, heightened perception, or paranormal phenomena, there is only a PCP /Ecstasy type effect aka 'blissing out', giving a reduced sense of seperateness. That is an assumption he has made without testing or investigating. Yogis considered their mind as a laboratory, not through thinking, but it's absence. They retained their consciousness  and then recorded and reported what they experienced and became aware of through different spectrum and dimension. They drew diagrams or sketches of DNA strands or other changes to things like cell organelles. Harris doesn't explain any of that, I assume because he is completely unaware of it, in the same way he often mentions astrology as baseless superstition. I assume he is going on 'your day by the stars' and not looking at what data and evidence supports the occult science. I know very little about it unlike serious students of it, but have observed that indeed the colour of the stone associated with the star sign is a preference for the colour clothing or paint they buy. I've got no hesitation believing there's also associations with physical or personality traits. It isn't that everyone on earth is split into 12 personalities as he assumes.

You could say to Harris that people are also are engaged in baseless superstition if they claim they can tell by a person's face if they are look kind, mean, greedy, honest, cheerful, melancholy, untrustworthy etc.

He also has the problem of rejecting self reporting for measures of fear, but accepts that people engaging in attempt to self actualize give reliable reports of less seperation and more oneness with their fellow man. By his own reasoning, tomorrow half of them could say they did not experience it, so it is not reliable now. Harris has a lot of interesting thought, but is not always correct.

Good analysis. Pretty much my take too.

"I conclude there isn't enough evidence that they received any special enlightenment because they can't tell me what it was.”

That resonates. All my trancendental experiences have been transitory, and although they feel profound, the profundity is impossible to explain, and  the effects always fade over time.
What makes the desert beautiful is that somewhere it hides a well.

Offline Ashvin

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Re: Sam Harris: The Self is an Illusion
« Reply #4 on: January 21, 2021, 07:40:19 AM »
This man makes the case for the illusion of a personal self...as Buddhism teaches. He rarely will talk about "metaphysics" unless trying to explain that to make up narratives that involve the ego/"personal sense of self" are illusions. Pie in the sky...fairy tales. Which are fine if you realize that they are just your imagination. :)

It's just superficial 'philosophy' based on meditative experience. People who do deep meditation and reach a "no-self" state are actively pursuing such a state, so when they find it they are contented to believe that is the fundamental reality. But other mystics have found that there is an even deeper state in which the eternal Self is present. Here is a post from someone who knows how to do rigorous philosophy:


"This is the cause of the strong dichotomy between dual and non-dual, self and no-self, thought and no-thought, time and no-time, etc. Our sense of self is most immediately experienced within the thinking process. It is within our thoughts that we experience, for lack of better words, some kind of “self-reflective quality”. There’s something objectively different in the perception of a thought, compared to other perceptions. For example, when I perceive a word, I can ask “Why I'm perceiving this? Where it comes from?" But if I perceive the same word as a thought-perception, the answer to these questions is contained within the thought-experience. The though is an immediate reflection of the ideal content, the meaning of our experience. We do not perceive the thought as an external sensory perception and then go on to interpret its meaning - instead, the thought is a projection (arguably, only partial) of the idea/meaning that we already experience. But most importantly, we feel the unmistakable quality of self-reflectivity within the thought process. In thought-perceptions cause and effect, so to speak, are one.

In this way we see that when we speak of self or "I", this is not something that we decide to construct arbitrarily. We can only say "I" because of the self-reflective quality within thoughts. Our intellectual speculations about what that "I" is, are something that we really add only consequently. But the self-reflective quality of the thinking process is not something that we add through our own actions. It is there in the given. We can't separate that quality from the experience of the thinking process.

Now the strong dichotomy mentioned above proceeds from the fact that on one side we have the self-reflective thinking process and on the other we envision some kind of awareness or consciousness that can be experienced even in the absence of thoughts and a self. Clearly, it is possible to attain to a meditative state where thinking ceases. We detach from the immediate thought forming process and this naturally distances us from the self-reflective quality within that process. When there's no active thought process, there is also no self-perception as conveyed through that process. This seems to support the idea that the self only exists as long as the self-reflective quality of thinking is present.

But we should be aware that, paradoxically as it may sound, we are actively pursuing this experience. Anyone who has personal experience in these things and is honest about them, would acknowledge that we actively repel any form of spiritual activity that might have the self-reflecting quality. This is something that is quite underestimated in our time. It is widely assumed that the experience of no-thought reveals the ultimate ground of existence. But it is rarely taken into account that the experience results from a method of meditation that is being actively sought after. We repel any form of spiritual activity because we believe that by doing so we attain to the grounds of existence.

Yet anyone who has dared to break the dogma of no-thought, no-self, can confirm that within a higher state it is in fact possible to have experiences of self-reflecting quality that are not thought themselves but precede thoughts. A common metaphor for this kind of experiences is to picture regular thoughts as standing wave forms within a deeper stratum of spiritual activity. Many meditators would readily agree with such a metaphor but will fiercely oppose the idea that there's a kind of spiritual activity of a self-reflective quality within the deeper stratum. But this opposition is not based on some kind of certain experience that shows beyond any doubt that it's impossible for such a kind of spiritual activity to exists within deeper reality.

The problem here lies not in what the experiences tell out of themselves but in what we seek within the experiences through our preconceived ideas. There's no doubt that it is possible to experience a tranquil state detached from the thought-forming process and thus from the self that this process entails. But this experience itself does not tell us anything of whether there could be other states within which we can experience self-reflective spiritual activity. The only way to confirm the reality of such a state would be to experience it. But this is exactly what mystics will never do because it goes against their beliefs.

A very simple (probably insultingly simple) example could be if we have never moved our arm and hold on to the "no-arm-movement" paradigm. Someone tells us "Hey, it is actually possible to move your arm". We reply "Negative. I have never experienced arm movement so there's no such a thing." Furthermore, if the no-arm-movement paradigm is presented in such a way that it is considered the ultimate reality, then we'll actively suppress any hints of movement because we believe that any movement leads us into the illusionary world of "arm-movement". We can very clearly see the fallacy here. There are experiences that can only become confirmed reality if we actively pursue them.

And this is the peculiar situation of humanity in our age. We are on a threshold where thought-only cognition becomes lost in the abstractness of isolated thoughts that build upon themselves. On the other hand, the impossibility to transcend thinking through thinking throws many in the completely opposite extremum, and consider thoughts worthless along with the self-reflective quality they entail.

But couldn't it be that thinking activity is only a more limited form of a higher form of spiritual activity of self-reflective quality?"

Offline Phil Rumpole

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Re: Sam Harris: The Self is an Illusion
« Reply #5 on: January 21, 2021, 02:24:53 PM »

 Harris has a lot of interesting thought, but is not always correct.

Can you imagine one person on the whole planet right now ( or even throughout the past ) who HAS been "correct" ALL the time? It is fine to give rebuttal's and critique's of someone's philosophy, but I see the responder as being just as "incorrect" in their subjective take. This is a point that needs careful scrutiny. Does belief in something make it correct and "real/truthful"? No, so all the disagreements, including the one I am composing, is just a stab in the dark. But, I will acknowledge that. It seems there is a postmodern trend to think/believe that one's reaction to our existential crisis' ( virus, climate change, mass enequality, water depletion, etc ) has some real merit. No it doesn't . It is a symbolic signaling reaction to danger, and so it is filled with emotion. It should be, the Titanic is sinking, are we to act like it is party time?

I get what you're saying, but sometimes there is an objective reality where we can have a reasonable level of confidence something is true or false. E.g unless there is reason to believe Wikipedia has an incorrect date of birth for Greta Thunberg, I accept she is an adult who can legally buy smokes and booze, work as a stripper and vote. It is not just a matter of opinion but provably wrong that she is "a pre-teen". 
« Last Edit: January 21, 2021, 02:40:54 PM by Phil Rumpole »
Women are like hurricanes: Wet and wild when they come, take your house when they leave

Offline knarf

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Re: Sam Harris: The Self is an Illusion
« Reply #6 on: January 22, 2021, 05:21:23 AM »

 Harris has a lot of interesting thought, but is not always correct.

Can you imagine one person on the whole planet right now ( or even throughout the past ) who HAS been "correct" ALL the time? It is fine to give rebuttal's and critique's of someone's philosophy, but I see the responder as being just as "incorrect" in their subjective take. This is a point that needs careful scrutiny. Does belief in something make it correct and "real/truthful"? No, so all the disagreements, including the one I am composing, is just a stab in the dark. But, I will acknowledge that. It seems there is a postmodern trend to think/believe that one's reaction to our existential crisis' ( virus, climate change, mass enequality, water depletion, etc ) has some real merit. No it doesn't . It is a symbolic signaling reaction to danger, and so it is filled with emotion. It should be, the Titanic is sinking, are we to act like it is party time?

I get what you're saying, but sometimes there is an objective reality where we can have a reasonable level of confidence something is true or false. E.g unless there is reason to believe Wikipedia has an incorrect date of birth for Greta Thunberg, I accept she is an adult who can legally buy smokes and booze, work as a stripper and vote. It is not just a matter of opinion but provably wrong that she is "a pre-teen".

Until one ascertains an "object reality", wouldn't it be a good idea to stop virtue signaling on all view points of the issues? See I just did it. Like it would be better if we stopped the "cancel" narratives. That maybe true or it might not be. Who can really know for sure?
NECROCAPITALISM at http://openmind693.wordpress.com ‘Rolling thunder. Shock. A noble one in fear and dread sets things in order and is watchful.’ I-Ching (Hex.51)

 

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