The Primacy of Consciousness in the Constitution of Self and World
Seeing is an instance of knowledge; in seeing an object is known to us, namely its identity is given to our consciousness; thus seeing is an experience that holds the knower-knowledge-known division. The study of the experience of seeing can give us clues into what knowledge is in general. We pick one example to study: The seeing of a cup in front of me.
Seeing of this cup in front of me makes the cup known to me as the cup in front of me. In this seeing the identity of the cup is known, thus establishing an instance of knowledge; but the cup is known as the cup seen. It is the seeing of the cup that is the object of my knowledge here. What is perceived is the cup as seen and not the cup in itself. Therefore, in my seeing of the cup it is not just the identity of the cup that is known; two things are known simultaneously: The identity of the cup and the identity of the knowing that knows the cup. The knowing too has an identity; it has a unique character, in this case it is the seeing. Our knowing of the cup is a knowing through seeing. This knowing is a seeing. The object known is not the cup in general but the cup seen.
Therefore, in saying that we have knowledge of the cup, knowledge of its identity, there are two objects, or identities, that are known: The identity of the knowing involved and the identity of what is known through this knowing.
Now if we close the eyes and touch the cup, the cup is known to us as the cup again but this time it is the cup as touched. The touching of the cup is by no means the same as the seeing of cup; the cup touched is not the same as the cup seen though our consciousness synthesizes the two different experiences to about one and the same object, the synthesis happening in consciousness and not in the world; but it is obvious that what it feels like to touch the cup is utterly different from what it feels like to see the cup. The tactile character of this knowing is itself known to us immediately, like the visual character of seeing.
When we are touching the cup we immediately know that we are touching it, that we are having an experience of touch; the identity of the act of knowing, in this case the touching, is always immediately known to us in a self-evident manner. In seeing too, the instant we start seeing the cup we know with absolute certainty that we are experiencing a seeing and not a touching or a hearing. The too are never confused or doubted, and there is no case of neurological disorder that can have such an effect: In order for me to become confused about whether my experience of this cup is a seeing or a touching I must know what it is like to see and what it is like to touch so to be confused about them; but this knowledge is identical with the self-evident knowledge of the identity of the act of cognition, thus removing the possibility of all confusion regarding the identity of the act; but unlike acts of cognition, confusion frequently arises about the identity of the objects known in the act; we may not know immediately whether what is seen is a cup or a vibrator. These objects belong to the contents of the act while the identity of the act itself is its form. We see that the contents have varying qualities, such as the quality of what is seen, whether it is obscure or clear, etc. But the form has no varying quality; the identity of the act is a whole: Seeing is either seeing or not; it may be that what is seen is not seen clearly or that we see poorly, but it is obvious that it is seeing nonetheless: Seeing is always seeing regardless of what is seen or whether what is seen is real or unreal, since seeing in our dreams has the same character as seeing in waking states. The identity of the act is a formal-logical structure of consciousness and has nothing to do with the world that is known through the act. Natural processes can never produce seeing and then touching and at once making them self-evidently known and distinguished. Natural processes are themselves known in and through cognitive acts; they are syntheses of consciousness, always presupposing the self-evident and primary role of cognitive acts. Even though it may take some time for us to be sure of the identity of the object seen or touched, the identity of the act of cognition is immediately known without us having to make inferences or inspecting the contents of the act such as what is seen or touched.
We can extend this to all other modes of cognition: In any case when a cup is the object of my knowledge it is always through one or the other act of cognition whose identity is immediately known. When the cup is the object of knowledge it is the cup as seen, or touched, or imagined, or remembered, or experimented on, or scientifically theorized upon, etc. It is always through such self-evident acts that objects are known. But objects are always known only as seen, or as imagined, or as theorized, and never aside and outside from these cognitive forms. We never have an experience or knowledge of a cup-in-itself and aside from the act in which the cup is known. The cup-in-itself is always an ideal structure. Even the idea of the cup-in-itself is the cup as theorized by me precisely as the cup-in-itself; this idea too is still the cup within my cognition and not apart from it.
So all we see are experiences of objects and not objects themselves. And it is important to see the difference: Objects of experience always appear inside space and time; everything seen or touched has a place already. But look at your experience of seeing; the seeing itself is not something inside space. You can ask “where is the cup?” but it doesn’t make sense to ask “where is my seeing of the cup?” Thus, the categories of space and time apply to contents of experience and not to experience itself. But since we are always surrounded by experiences of objects and not objects themselves we, as the experiencing subject, are not really inside space or time; space and time apply to what is experienced, but not to the experiencing subject itself. In other words, we are having experiences of time and space. The experience of space and time is not itself something inside space or time. The subject who is experiencing space and time, whose content of experience is space or time, is not itself subject to space and time since experience of space is not a natural object; though what is seen in seeing is a spatial object, something embedded in space, but the seeing of the object is not itself spatial; the space that is seen has 3 dimensions, but the seeing of that space is not an object with any dimensions; it is totally a different kind of object as we know, to the extend that we cannot even apply the concept of object to it. Reflect on your experiences: Look at the objects you are seeing and see how they have a place inside the seeing experience and how space is something inside your seeing though not observed; now shift your attention to your seeing itself; see that the seeing is not itself something in a place since place is something appearing inside seeing and not outside it. You cannot touch your seeing or rotate it; but everything there is is inside this seeing; see that everything we assume that exists exists only in experience, experiences that are themselves beyond space and time. There is nothing outside experience, because there is not outside to experience.
To summarize: In any instance of knowledge two identities are known: The identity of the cognized object and the identity of the act of cognition. The cognized object is always known in and through a specifically determined and known mode of cognition.
But how is the identity of the act of cognition known? We saw that the act of cognition is immediately known and that it is self-evident; it is given to us with absolute, apodictic certainty. It is in fact indubitable, for in order to doubt the identity of the act of cognition we have to use the cognitive act of doubting whose identity should be either self-evident or else our doubt is void to being with. In order for us to successfully doubt the identity of a cognitive act we must presuppose the identity of another cognitive act.
If the world is known to us through acts of cognition, then how are the acts of cognition known to us?! How am I seeing that I am seeing? Who is seeing my seeing, my imagining, my thinking and theorizing and reflecting?! We cannot posit that the knowledge of these acts is known through some other acts, the same way that external objects are known through cognitive acts. To posit such hierarchy creates the problem of infinite regress. Thus, there must be an absolute point in and through which acts of cognition are self evidently given to consciousness, making consciousness eigen-standing and self-sufficient.
We naturally think that it is the world that we know, or it is the world that exists; we think that objects are really objects of the world, and that it is these natural objects or natural processes that produce consciousness. But the objects that we experience are not external objects; they are experiences; they are experiences whose objects are meant and intended as external objects. The actual objects with which we are constantly surrounded are experiences, experiences of a world appearing as real, its reality being part of the experience: The sense of existence and reality is always present in experience as the color is present in all instances of seeing. The sense of existence of the tree belongs to the experience of tree as the color green belongs to experience and not the tree itself, the tree itself being only an idea of consciousness constantly intended through the manifold of experiences. Thus, the sense of existence is there in all experiences as color or roughness are in all instances of seeing or touching, respectively. Even a color blind sees everything with a color though only with limited possibilities.
The same way that apparent shape, size, color, etc. belong to the internal-formal-logical structures of all seeing, whether in dream or waking state, the sense of existence, or objectivity, too belongs to the internal-formal-logical structure of all experiences, of consciousness in general, whether it is an experience in dream or waking state. To say something exists independently of experience is as meaningless as saying that the tree has a color even if we are not looking at it. According to Wolfgang Pauli, German physicists, such proposition, the thesis of independent existence, “is not even wrong” since it doesn’t even make any sense.
There is no world or reality whose existence can be proven; there is only experience of a world, experience of a reality. There are experiences that we experience and not objects. What we see is the object seen; what we touch is the object touched; what we imagine or think is the object imagined or thought, or the object experimented on or theorized upon. It is seeing that we see; it is touching that we touch.
The fallacy within the metaphysical assumption that nature exists independently of consciousness and that consciousness is the product of natural processes is as follows:
If consciousness is a product of natural processes, and if these natural processes do not depend on consciousness for their existence, then it is possible for nature to produce consciousness without there having to be a consciousness, that is, it is possible to have experience without it being an experience of something, or being someone’s experience!
But experience is not something like a natural object; it is essentially something other than everything that is in nature since everything in nature is known through consciousness. When the natural scientist is looking inside natural processes to find clues to the origin of consciousness, he is unaware that he is constantly using consciousness in his search and that he is never outside it, that these natural processes are themselves processes known in and through consciousness, thus always already biased by his consciousness. what this scientist is doing is in fact nothing but consciousness looking inside its own content (known natural processes) for its own origin: There is never an outside consciousness, the idea of outside consciousness itself being an idea of consciousness, and hence inside it all along.
It is crucial to understand that the fallacies within natural science does not entail that we claim consciousness creates nature and matter, as is often objected by hasty and shallow observations of our critics. They pose the question as to how, then, does consciousness create matter? How can consciousness which is itself not physical create a physical reality? The response to this criticism is as we pointed above frequently and emphasized:
Very Important: Consciousness does not have to create matter or physical reality. Consciousness does the job by creating an experience of physical reality. It is experience of matter that we have and not matter itself; it is experience of physical reality that we have and not an actual physical object; when we are hit by a massive object it is the experience of being hit by a massive object that we have, experience of pain that we have; there is experience of mass, experience of being hit, etc. There is nothing but experience. Consciousness creates this experience whose content is a real-looking cosmos that unfolds in time; consciousness does not have to create what is experienced in order to produce its experience; and we know that consciousness does precisely the same thing in our dreams, creating experience of touch, experience of sight, experience of pain, of thought, of imagination, experience of a material object, and experience of a physical reality with open horizons extended to infinity. The sense of existence and reality of the contents of experience are parts of experience produced by consciousness.
All that there is and all that we know are acts of cognition, experiences. Even the sciences that pretend to have overcome the fallacy within their naive thesis of Realism are sciences as experienced, sense data as theorized, nature as perceived, etc. When science posits that our perceptions are created by the sense data of the external world, the being of this external world which is first and foremost known through experience is itself taken for granted; it is itself something always already experienced in perception; how can we use it as the cause of perception! It is in perception that the externality of world is given to consciousness. What is given and known strictly in perception cannot be used as the cause of perception.
The external world that is supposed to produce experience is itself something always already known through experience. We never really step outside experience; the superstitious character of modern science comes from the fact that it uses metaphysical and un-empirical elements to account for empirical phenomena; thus, it is only a modern version of traditional magic. Magic, too, worked, as does modern sciences in its addressing the needs of the mass; but this utility, and particularly the mundane utility, is by no means a criterion of objective truth; and it makes this modern magic even more biased as it is driven and funded by self interest and profit. As it was said before, I may have a hammer that works perfectly in doing its job, but this does not justify me to stand and proclaim “hammer is the truth.”
In this sense modern science is anything but empirical and objective; its first thesis upon which all its conclusions rest, the thesis of realism, is a purely metaphysical assumption, one which is in principle unverifiable both empirically and theoretically. A science with metaphysical foundations for empirical phenomena is not science in any sense. The metaphysical, and unjustified, character of the assumptions of modern science were at last exposed in Quantum Mechanics which showed the collapse of the theses of Realism and Materialism. The Heisenberg’s uncertainty relations expose precisely the fallacy within the thesis of Realism, as they show that nature apart from an observer not only makes no sense whatsoever but also that it would be incapable of producing the phenomena of world in the first place: An independently existing world cannot produce an experience of itself by itself and inside itself.
World is a product of consciousness since world is nothing but the experience of world, the same experience equally present in dream experiences. World as the horizon of all actual and possible experiences is always present in the background of all of our experiences; it is in the background of this world-consciousness that everything is understood in the first place: Objects are objects of the world; we are beings in the world, yet world is not something ever fully experienced; world is not itself an object of the world but it is always there for us in some peculiar sense. Though there is always a consciousness-of-world in the background but it is only objects of the world that are experienced; world itself is not a thing. It is important to pay attention to this world-consciousness always present in the background of all of our experience, for this world-consciousness is the ground and origin of all sense and significance in our experiences. World-consciousness and the sense of existence are present in all moment of experience and they are the foundations of the world that is experienced to be actually existing apart from consciousness, while this sense of independent existence itself is a production of consciousness.
There is nothing other than experience. The idea of external world is itself the experience of its idea. It is pretty stupid to claim that there exists an external world that produces experience on the basis that we experience an external world. The externality and existence of the world is something appearing in and through experience and in no other way. But this same externality and existence is experienced in dreams too. There does not have to exist an actual reality in order for us to experience a reality. The real appearance of experienced objects is something that belongs to the structure of experience and not to the world itself, and that is why our dream experiences too have to be experiences of a reality. To experience is to experience a reality. Reality is derived from the structures of consciousness and not from the world, since this world is something always already known through consciousness.
World is essentially something experienced and not something existent.
There is no world; there is only consciousness of the world. But this consciousness of the world is also equally present in our dreams. The only difference between dreams and waking states are the stability of experiences and not their internal structures. Seeing in our dreams is exactly like seeing in waking states even though what is seen may be strange and peculiar. This holds for all other acts of cognition and experiences. The reality and objectivity of what is experienced belongs to the internal and logical structures of experience; it has nothing to do with an actually existing world. The actually existing world is itself something cognized in one way or another. Objectivity is an experience of consciousness. The senses of objectivity and subjectivity are both productions of consciousness:
Subjectivity is the inward projection of consciousness while objectivity is the outward projection of consciousness. Subjectivity, which is signified by “I,” is consciousness in itself while objectivity, which is signified by “world,” is consciousness reflecting itself. “I” am consciousness as immanent while the “world” is consciousness as transcendent. “I” am the knowing aspect of consciousness while the world is the existence aspect of consciousness whose unity forms the absolute bliss: “I” am the enstasy of consciousness while the “world” is the ecstasy of consciousness.
Consciousness has two complementary modes of being which can only come together or not at all: It has a mode in which consciousness appears as inside itself (entasis), and it has another mode in which consciousness appears as outside itself (ecstasis); consciousness appearing as inside itself is experienced as the “I,” and consciousness appearing as outside itself is experienced as the “world.” This is why whenever and wherever there is the experience of “I” there is also the world-consciousness present in the background; and whenever and wherever there is an experience of the world there is also an experiencing “I” attached to it. In dreamless sleep there is neither “I” nor the “world.” World is a necessary moment of the I as the I is the necessary moment of world. In fact, “I” and “world” are one and the same thing, essentially consciousness:
The “I” is the inward reflection of the world while the world is the outward projection of the “I.” Consciousness is a unity whose appearance takes the Yin-Yang structure projected as the I-World polarity. Everything appears and happens in between these two, though in reality there is no such division and nothing is happening at all.No division has taken place and nothing has ever happened.
This whole grand existence is a performance of consciousness; but this consciousness performs it so well and with such mastery that we cannot see its traces; it gives the world while hiding itself behind its phenomena. It is so prevailing and all-encompassing that we fail to see it and its work, thinking that it were just another object in the world. Reality is an idea of consciousness and not consciousness a product of reality, for reality is itself known in and through consciousness, and hence subject to its formal-logical structures. If the “I” appears inside the world, a world that is external to the “I,” that’s because consciousness projects itself such and so: Consciousness is that peculiar phenomenon that can appear both as world and as an object inside it, both as totality and individuality; consciousness does exactly this same thing when in our dreams it creates a performance in which it simultaneously plays the roles of the world, the experiencing “I,” and all the other subjects inside that world. This is what consciousness does: It can appear as a whole and as a part of that whole at once. It appears as world and as the “I” experiencing that world; but consciousness doesn’t create, and doesn’t have to create, any of these since all that there is is experience and nothing else: Consciousness produces an experience in which it is a subject inside an infinite world sharing this world with other subjects. It does exactly this in our dreams, which includes the waking state: This waking state too is just another of such performance which is only more stable that dream. The deeper the projection of consciousness goes the less stable its experiences become. As the deeper into subconscious we go, the less clear everything becomes. In this sense, the apparent separateness between individual subjects is like the apparent separateness between the character of our dreams which are in fact different aspects of one and the same person, the dreamer. In dream consciousness only projects the ideas of subconscious into real-looking experiences. Our waking state is the same: We are characters inside the subconscious of universal consciousness; this whole world is a subconscious world, and we are all only different faces of one and the same universal “I.” The sense of “I-ness” in all of us is one and the same, and it comes from one center; it is one “I,” one consciousness in whose daydream we come and go as mere appearances. Our outward form and humanity belong in the world of subconscious of this universal consciousness, but our true essence, the true Self, the “I” at the center of all of us is transcendent to all phenomena since it is the pure experiencing subject that has the daydream. All this that we experience is a subconscious world, all the identities and characters being illusory characters of a subconscious. The experiencing “I” at the center knows no birth or death, no pain or pleasure, for death and birth and pain and pleasure are only experiences within its subconscious. None of it is real. But what is more is that any of you can actually wake up from this subconscious and merge out of the daydream; then you will see the megastability of that state compared to this waking state. The megastable state called Samadhi or Transcendental Experience, or the Ground State of Consciousness, which are objective and empirical states of consciousness.
To the same degree that our dream experiences are unstable compared to our waking state experiences, our waking state too is unstable compared to the Samadhi megastability. We experience the instability of the waking state as impermanence and mortality; waking up from this state we experience a supreme stability in which there is no impermanence and mortality. The reason there is no experience of mortality is that the time of the supreme state is no more ecstatic like the time of our waking state: In ecstatic time we experience time as having a before and an after about a now. But when this ecstasy of time is transcended, time has no more a three-fold structure; there is no before and after. It is not that in Samadhi we live forever; we are immortal because we don’t live at all: There is only an eternal now.
Consciousness as it goes downward deeper into subconscious worlds not only becomes less stable but also divides more and more outwardly. At the supreme state which is the uppermost point it is one; in its first excited state which we know as the waking state the one points spherically spreads out, inflates, into an infinite world with multitude of subjects. But each subject which is individualized consciousness goes deeper into a yet lower state of consciousness in its dreams, the second excited state, in which one subject is again inflated into an infinite world of dream with multitude of subjects which are less stable than the higher state. Therefore, the lower, or the more excited consciousness becomes, the more spread out and divided and the less stable it becomes. Naturally at its highest state it is united and megastable, One and immortal, Absolute and Infinite: It is one indivisible immortal whole.
Bertrand Russel once said “It is a brute fact that the universe is there.” But he was utterly wrong since “It is his experience of universe that is there.”
A genuine empiricism and objective science cannot but say the following since it is simplest empirical observation that can be made:
It is a brute fact that there is experience and nothing but or outside experience.