Thursday, September 26, 2013

not idealism

okay, after the epiphany of the last post, i did a little re-reading of some basic boilerplate, and i'm thinking that what i'm calling 'idealism' there is really a type of pure panpsychism, saying that everything is a subjective state. it's non-dualistic simply in that it flips the hard question around: what evidence is there for, or how to you conceive of or explain, non-subjective states? from the materialist/physicalist point of view, the subjective state seems impossible to understand, which leads to the dualist perspective. but then, on the other side, you do away with 'physical' completely. everything is a subjective state, analogous to consciousness, but usually (almost always) without the complex representational structure. so in this system, dualism is like physicalism + panpsychism. idealism is usually used to describe a point of view where everything that exists is a representation, which i still think is craziness.

now, another not on metaphors for thinking: i am now finally (after probably 10 years of delay) reading Chalmers' book 'The Conscious Mind'. i've read many of his papers, some of which are summaries of the more digestible ideas in this book, so in a way i'm prepared for him. but it's a real philosophy book, and it gets difficult. since i can't hope to understand it all, i do a lot of close skimming, reading words and getting some meaning but not all meaning. i guess that's always the case. i had the thought that this process is like looking at objects in water of varying degrees of clarity. when you understand what you're reading, the water is clear, you can see all the surfaces, each new point of fixation is visible and well defined, and you can see the whole structure. but when the water is muddy, you can't see the whole structure - you see parts of it poking into clear parts of the water (muddy water is never uniformly muddy, but the muddiness is in swirls, leaving 'open' spaces of clarity), and those maybe you can see clearly, but even they may be hazy. anyways, the visual metaphor for understanding - clarity, detail, focus, fogginess - really comes home when reading a philosophy text.

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