Is self-awareness axiomatic (self-evident) or illusory?

Is self-awareness axiomatic (self-evident) or illusory?


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#5
Descartes tackled this question well I reckon:

"I supposed that all the objects (presentations) that had ever entered into my mind when awake, had in them no more truth than the illusions of my dreams. But immediately upon this I observed that, whilst I thus wished to think that all was false, it was absolutely necessary that I, who thus thought, should be somewhat; and as I observed that this truth,I think, hence I am, was so certain and of such evidence, that no ground of doubt, however extravagant, could be alleged by the Sceptics capable of shaking it, I concluded that I might, without scruple, accept it as the first principle of the Philosophy of which I was in search"

http://www.bartleby.com/34/1/4.html
 
#8
Descartes tackled this question well I reckon:

"I supposed that all the objects (presentations) that had ever entered into my mind when awake, had in them no more truth than the illusions of my dreams. But immediately upon this I observed that, whilst I thus wished to think that all was false, it was absolutely necessary that I, who thus thought, should be somewhat; and as I observed that this truth,I think, hence I am, was so certain and of such evidence, that no ground of doubt, however extravagant, could be alleged by the Sceptics capable of shaking it, I concluded that I might, without scruple, accept it as the first principle of the Philosophy of which I was in search"
That sounds good.
 
#9
Buddhists say the self is an illusion.
I depends to which school of Buddhism you are referring, and also what is meant by "self." To a lot of Buddhists, they are referring to the ego-self, which is who we generally think we are. Aside from the nihilist schools, they really aren't saying that there is no self, but rather that the ego-self is an illusion and there is consciousness beyond that. This is essentially in agreement with advaita Vedanta philosophy which differentiates the ego-self and the ultimate self. In this philosophy, the ego-self is an illusion as well, but there is a substratum of consciousness in which everything occurs, which is the true self and can be directly experienced. If everything is an illusion, then in what is the illusion existing??
 
#10
Just because something is an "illusion" doesn't mean it can't be amazing, mysterious and full of wonder. It is likely that this entire manifest universe is just an illusion but it is not diminished by that fact. The self need be no different. It can be illusory and still be all that it currently seems to be.

Anyone who wants a taste of the self falling away can look into Scott Kiloby's "Unfindable Inquiry." It is interesting stuff:

 
#11
Just because something is an "illusion" doesn't mean it can't be amazing, mysterious and full of wonder. It is likely that this entire manifest universe is just an illusion but it is not diminished by that fact. The self need be no different. It can be illusory and still be all that it currently seems to be.
I don't know why, but when I read this I imagined someone looking at a rainbow and commenting on its beauty and a scientist barking "it's just an illusion, you idiot." LOL
 
#13
I depends to which school of Buddhism you are referring, and also what is meant by "self." To a lot of Buddhists, they are referring to the ego-self, which is who we generally think we are. Aside from the nihilist schools, they really aren't saying that there is no self, but rather that the ego-self is an illusion and there is consciousness beyond that. This is essentially in agreement with advaita Vedanta philosophy which differentiates the ego-self and the ultimate self. In this philosophy, the ego-self is an illusion as well, but there is a substratum of consciousness in which everything occurs, which is the true self and can be directly experienced. If everything is an illusion, then in what is the illusion existing??
I agree that there are some Buddhist schools that appear to be similar to the Advaita school of Vedanta. That being said, there are some Buddhist schools (e.g. the Theravada school) that are not. These schools teach that there is neither a personal self nor a transpersonal self.

Also, we need to distinguish between "consciousness" and "self-awareness." The latter presupposes the former, but the former does not necessarily presuppose the latter. That is, consciousness does not necessarily presuppose self-awareness.
 
#14
I agree that there are some Buddhist schools that appear to be similar to the Advaita school of Vedanta. That being said, there are some Buddhist schools (e.g. the Theravada school) that are not. These schools teach that there is neither a personal self nor a transpersonal self.

Also, we need to distinguish between "consciousness" and "self-awareness." The latter presupposes the former, but the former does not necessarily presuppose the latter. That is, consciousness does not necessarily presuppose self-awareness.
I agree, and although I really enjoy the Sankara school of Advaita vedanta, I part ways in one aspect and agree with Saivism, in that beings such as ourselves are necessary for the absolute self to become aware and to be able to know itself.

In a sense, with a conscious-collapse model of quantum theory, we are necessary for the world to exist, which is necessary for the absolute self to become self-aware. The collapse that results in the world is itself maya, which divides up the absolute into subject-object, with of course the awareness arising in a being like us is what consciousness identifies with. I think this is the veil of maya. Yet the absolute self could never become self-aware without us; the absolute self cannot know what can only be known by being limited.

Instead of a pointless illusion of suffering that some schools of Indian thought propose, it is a beautiful manifestation of the absolute that allows for self-knowledge.

Perhaps the meaning of life is this self-realization. It is not a verbal meaning that can be written down, but can only be understood by the direct experience of self-realization. We have no justification to think meaning of life, beyond the relative human level of love and all that, is something that can be expressed through logic and language.
 
#15
I agree, and although I really enjoy the Sankara school of Advaita vedanta, I part ways in one aspect and agree with Saivism, in that beings such as ourselves are necessary for the absolute self to become aware and to be able to know itself.

In a sense, with a conscious-collapse model of quantum theory, we are necessary for the world to exist, which is necessary for the absolute self to become self-aware. The collapse that results in the world is itself maya, which divides up the absolute into subject-object, with of course the awareness arising in a being like us is what consciousness identifies with. I think this is the veil of maya. Yet the absolute self could never become self-aware without us; the absolute self cannot know what can only be known by being limited.

Instead of a pointless illusion of suffering that some schools of Indian thought propose, it is a beautiful manifestation of the absolute that allows for self-knowledge.

Perhaps the meaning of life is this self-realization. It is not a verbal meaning that can be written down, but can only be understood by the direct experience of self-realization. We have no justification to think meaning of life, beyond the relative human level of love and all that, is something that can be expressed through logic and language.
Nicely put.
 
#17
In a sense, with a conscious-collapse model of quantum theory, we are necessary for the world to exist, which is necessary for the absolute self to become self-aware. The collapse that results in the world is itself maya, which divides up the absolute into subject-object, with of course the awareness arising in a being like us is what consciousness identifies with. I think this is the veil of maya. Yet the absolute self could never become self-aware without us; the absolute self cannot know what can only be known by being limited.
I agree with this. I would hasten to add that each "self" or mind is holographic.
 
#19
Also, we need to distinguish between "consciousness" and "self-awareness." The latter presupposes the former, but the former does not necessarily presuppose the latter. That is, consciousness does not necessarily presuppose self-awareness.
Yes. Bernardo Kastrup thinks that consciousness is primal. However, that primal consciousness isn't self-aware. The reason for the existence of the universe is for primal consciousness (mind-at-large, m-a-l) to explore self-awareness: for it to come to know itself in a novel way. Come to know implies that the universe apparently has to exist in time, and that implies in turn the apparent existence of things as a means of exploration.

Mind at large simply has to desire something for it to eventuate. BK puts it this way in Brief Peeks Beyond:

What mind-at-large has to do is what it wants to do; what it wants to do is what it has to do. The necessity is the desire; the desire is the necessity. We can say that mind-at-large desires irresistibly to do precisely what it does, because it is its nature to desire so. That it is free to carry out what it desires is the very expression of its unbound metaphysical free will.

M-a-l wants to create a system within which it can come to know itself. I don't think the universe is strictly speaking an illusion, and nor its product, self-awareness. However, it comes at a price: the apparent multiplicity of apparent things in apparent time. That is, the existence of alters of m-a-l that perceive themselves as separate beings. And that, if anything, is the illusion.

Just as mathematics can be transcended using mathematics (think of Godel here), there comes a point in the system at which self-awareness causes the realisation that separation is an illusion. A point at which we get glimpses of the interconnectedness of lots of apparently separate beings. Increasingly, we sense that we are all apparent embodiments of the desire of m-a-l and not separate beings at all. At that point and beyond, I don't think our selves disappear. We still possess self-awareness, realising that we are specific interconnected perspectives on the whole from within the whole.

If m-a-l could come know itself in some different way, sans apparent time, matter and separation, then it presumably would have done so. But there you go: undeniably, we have self-awareness: this is the way that m-a-l has chosen to eventuate its desire, like it or lump it. It is only through the perception of its unity by apparently separate beings that m-a-l can come to a self-aware knowledge of itself. The weight of that knowledge can be shared by lots of interconnected perspectives. I'm reminded of what Alan Watts said about Indra's net:

Imagine a multidimensional spider's web in the early morning covered with dew drops. And every dew drop contains the reflection of all the other dew drops. And, in each reflected dew drop, the reflections of all the other dew drops in that reflection. And so ad infinitum. That is the Buddhist conception of the universe in an image.

M-a-l is the whole thing; each of our self-awarenesses is one of the drops. At some point, each of us has the potential to experience this, and through us, the whole to experience itself. M-a-l doesn't have the intrinsic ability to do this, though it does have the intrinsic ability to create the whole system by exercising its unbounded free will. It needs us, and we need it. Everything is necessary; nothing can be dispensed with, and that includes what we think of as suffering, through which we (and it) can arrive at the realisation of what's going on.
 
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