The intersection of life and subjectivity is a tricky one to navigate. Axiomatic to any discussion of perception is that one experiences nothing but that which is mediated through their own nervous system and brain; rather than seeing the “thing-in-itself,” one instead experiences the best its brain can reproduce of the external object in question. One does not see anything so much as experience whatever their visual cortex may produce.
Mind is the most fundamental yet enigmatic layer of a being. Arthur Schopenhauer, describing Kantian philosophy’s relation to Christianity, may have described the human being’s relation to his or her own mind: “a man who at a ball has been flirting the whole evening with a masked beauty, in hopes of making a conquest; till at last, throwing off her disguise, she reveals herself—as his wife” (Basis 105). Intimate yet occulted by proximity, mind and consciousness have seemed largely beyond understanding; some have altogether “ignored the phenomena … [as] inappropriate for empirical investigation” (Salamone n.p.). Far from inappropriate, however, Thomas Nagel suggests that mind and consciousness may be simply incompatible with materialist and new-Darwinian paradigms. Ultimately, “existence presents us with the fact that somehow the world generates conscious beings … We don’t know how this happens, but it is hard not to believe that there is some explanation” (Nagel Mind 31).
Because the past while has been more or less the usual (editing, prepping Infinite Zero, etc.; the tedium that has to get done), I thought I’d share what I’m reading, plus some thoughts that have come from it.
First a bit of background: for a long time I’ve had pretty eclectic reading habits, but for the past year or so, I’ve been really enamored with psychology and its various schools of thought. Partly I think it’s because it lends itself to so many aspects of life, which then bleed rather naturally into writing. Put another way, having something like a semi-stable landscape of the human mind in general is really helpful in character development. All of this has somewhat organically led me to studying theories of consciousness, which led me in turn to two books, both from the mid-twentieth century.