A Fellow Lighter

The Agora ūüí≠

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In the spirit of the ancient Athenian marketplace, where ideas clashed and mingled in vibrant discourse, I'm dedicating this journal to my philosophical inquiries and research as well as the refinement of a budding cosmology that I'm developing and have chosen to call Autonoetism. The name inspired by Endel Tulving's "autonoetic consciousness", a mental ability that allows us to travel through time in our minds.

I invite open-minded thinkers and scholars to participate in this intellectual exploration, and to engage with the ideas of Autonoetism, challenge its tenets, and even contribute to its ongoing development. Most of this endeavor will be guided by the work of the late professor of philosophy, George Stuart Fullerton, and of course some of Leo Gura's self-actualization content that I find relatable to this journal. 

Welcome to The Agora.

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Common Thought As The Foundation For Philosophical Inquiry And Research 

The psychologist tells us that it requires quite a course of education to enable us to see things. Not to have vague and unmeaningful sensations, but to see things: Things that are known to be touchable as well as visible, things that are recognized as having size and shape and position in space.

The psychologist explains to us that as infants, we are as ignorant of ourselves as we are of things, explaining that in our immature world of unorganized experiences there is no self that is distinguishable from other things, that we may cry vociferously without knowing who is uncomfortable and later stop crying without knowing who has been taken up by nursing arms and experienced an agreeable change.

The chaotic little world of the infant is not the world we know ‚Äď the world of common thought ‚Äď the world in which we all live and move in maturer years. Nor can we go back to it via¬†the path of memory lane. In fact, it seems as though we have always lived in a world of¬†things¬†‚Äď things in space and time ‚Äď material things. And among these things there is one of peculiar interest, which we have not placed upon a par with the rest: Our own bodies which see, taste, touch and performs in other ways.

We cannot remember a time when we did not know that with this body are, somehow, bound up many experiences which interests us acutely. For instance, experiences of pleasure and pain. Moreover, we seem always to have known that certain of the things which surround us rather resemble our own bodies, and are in important particulars to be distinguished from the general mass of things. 

Thusly we seem to always have been living in a world of things and to have always recognized, in that world, the existence of oneself and of other selves. We think of each of the bodies resembling our own as possessing a mind. May we say that as far back as we can remember, we have thought of ourselves and of other individuals as possessing minds? Hardly. The young child does not does not seem to distinguish between mind and body. 

However, we must all admit, though it may not be with the child in its early stages of its development, the mature individual does quite consciously recognize that the world in which s/he finds oneself is a world that contains minds as well as bodies. It never occurs to you to doubt that there are bodies. And it never occurs to you to doubt that there are minds. 

Other individuals act very much as yourself: They walk and they talk, they laugh and they cry, they work and they play, just as you do. In short, they act precisely as though they had minds like yourself. What more natural than to assume that as you yourself give expression, by the actions of your body to the thoughts and emotions your mind, so does your neighbor give expression? 

We must not allow ourselves to underrate the average man's common thought of either bodies or minds. It seems, upon reflection, a wonderful thing that a few fragmentary sensations should automatically receive an interpretation which conjures up, before the mind, a world of real things.

For instance, that little patch of colour sensation, which I experience when I turn my eyes toward the window, introduces me at once to a world of material objects lying in space, clearly defined in magnitude, distance and direction? And that an experience, no more complex, is a key which should unlock for me the secret storehouse of another mind, and lay before me a wealth of thoughts and emotions, not my own?

From the poor, bare, meaningless world of the infant intelligence to the¬†rich world of common thought ‚Äď a world in which real things with their manifold properties, things material and things mental, bear their part ‚Äď is in deed a long step. And we should never forget that s/he who would strive to gain a better intelligence of matter and of mind, by the aid of philosophical reflection and science, must begin one's labors on this foundation which is common to us all.

How else can s/he begin than by accepting, and more critically, examining the world as it seems revealed in the collective experience of our species? 

~ G.S. Fullerton 

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@A Fellow Lighter I'm enjoying your stuff. Awwwsum. 


You should seek to transcend the limitations of the ego and the mind in order to experience a sense of unity with the universe or ultimate reality. You can do meditation,sef inquiry and contemplating for that. To recognize the underlying oneness that is believed to exist beyond the realm of dualistic perception.

 

 

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Assessment Of Common Thought As The Starting Point For Philosophy

Strenghts

Having common thought as the starting point of philosophical inquiry allows us to more easily understand the ideas and concepts being discussed. This is because common thought can provide a shared understanding of matters and can allow for more meaningful philosophical inquiry, as everyone has some point of reference to start from. By having common thought as the foundation of philosophical inquiry, we can more thoroughly explore ideas, as well as have a clear understanding of what we are discussing.

Common thought also incorporates a wide range of philosophical concepts which include empiricism, relativism and realism. 

Weaknesses 

Common experience can be rife with cultural biases, historical inaccuracies, and societal limitations. What's considered "common knowledge" within a group may not reflect reality. This is because common experiences are inherently limited by our individual and collective perceptions. They may not account for unseen phenomena, alternative perspectives, or entirely new ways of understanding the world.

Overreliance on common thought can stifle progress. If we solely accept things as they seem revealed through collective experience, we may be less likely to challenge assumptions and explore new ideas.

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@Buck Edwards welcome! And thank you for showing your appreciation. I hope you will be able to enjoy more of what's to come.

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Counterintuitive Thinking As The Foundation For Philosophical Inquiry 

Counterintuitive thinking may be viewed as the polar alternative for common thought. Where common thought reflects a collective (shared) intuitive process of making sense of the world, which is made evident through mental content that is generated as well as demonstrated in semantics;  counterintuitive thinking demonstrates a, sort of, deliberate violation of the intuitive expectations of one's experiential framework. For example, the statement, "My dog responds in English when I call it." is a violation of the common experiential knowledge about dogs. To accept that such a dog really exists, without having witnessed it in person, would be forcing oneself to mentally hold together two incompatible ideas. This is like holding together two magnets of the same charge in your mind. The result is a constant slipping and flipping of resistance from both parts.

Because the thought pattern of 'dog' is firmly established in the experiential framework of a mature mind as a non-speaking animal, one might search for alternative explanations for the report of a 'talking dog'. Following are some of the options:

  1. The core concept has been mislabeled: it is not an actual dog.
  2. The core concept is correct, but the context isn't: the talking from elsewhere. 
  3. The event is being reported as a counterfactual: a 'what-if' scenario, such as a fairy tale. 
  4. Someone is trying to deceive you: by convincing you that such a thing as a talking dog actually exists. 
  5. The experiential framework has to be updated: some, or perhaps just one, dog can speak, in English for that matter. 

There is a sixth option. One can choose to retain the mystery of the talking dog by not explaining the conflict, but by making an attempt to accommodate or justify the new information within the contextual framework of what you already know. For example: telepathy, whereby the communication between the dog and the human is conducted telepathically; or the supernatural, whereby the dog could be possessed by an English speaking entity; or magic, whereby the dog has been enabled by witchcraft to speak. All these examples demonstrate counterintuitive thinking, a case in which a mature individual purposefully goes against one's very own experiential framework of his thought patterns in order to consider the possibility of an anomaly. 

Counterintuitive thinking challenges established norms by presenting unconventional, seemingly counter-productive, or even paradoxical solutions that often defy initial expectations or intuition. 

Now, counterintuitive thinking can be a valuable basis for developing a philosophy because it involves questioning common assumptions and conventional wisdom, and involves seeking fundamental truths even if they seem counterintuitive or go against common knowledge. This approach is exemplified by first principles thinking, which involves breaking down complex problems into their fundamental components, questioning assumptions, and seeking fundamental truths. It encourages flexibility and adaptability in problem-solving, and can lead to breakthroughs in various fields, such as space exploration, renewable energy, healthcare, and transportation, thus clearly demonstrating its work through scientific studies. However, counterintuitive thinking should not be used in isolation, but rather in conjunction with other problem-solving methods, such as analytical thinking and expertise in a specific domain. It is important to recognize that first principles thinking has its limitations, such as potentially leading to a narrow perspective and overlooking the value of existing knowledge and assumptions.

Overall, when working on a philosophical theory, counterintuitive thinking encourages making connections between seemingly unrelated concepts. Thus proving to be a valuable tool for sparking new ideas and developing groundbreaking concepts. 

Edited by A Fellow Lighter

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Speculative Thinking As A Foundation For Philosophical Inquiry 

Speculative Thinking refers to a type of thought process that considers various possibilities that, unlike common thought, are not based on experiential knowledge. It includes counterfactual thinking, prefactual thinking, and other types. But it is also different from counterintuitive thinking which essentially challenges the experiential framework of common thought. The function of Speculative Thinking is essentially to 'feel in the gaps' using imagination rather than direct contradiction of common knowledge. 

For instance, panpsychism. Early philosophers likely noticed the difference between¬†conscious beings and inert matter. This sparked questions about the nature of consciousness and its relationship to the physical world. Since consciousness is subjective and not directly observable in others, early philosophers might have used their own experience to infer a more universal property of existence. This is where speculation comes in ‚Äď they ventured beyond the directly observable to propose a possible explanation for consciousness. Panpsychism¬†suggests that consciousness is a fundamental property of the universe, present even in elementary particles. It doesn't directly build on common sense or challenge it; it proposes a radically new property that we can't directly experience or disprove.¬†

Here's another reason why speculative thinking is completely different from counterintuitive thinking. Let us propose the phenomenon of sleep as a counter argument for panpsychism. It is known and expected from common thought that in slumber, one is virtually unaware of their surroundings if not completely unaware. So, then, if what panpsychism is suggesting is true and consciousness is a fundamental property of the universe then wouldn't this property render us the ability to remain environmentally aware while asleep? Not only does this counter argument poses a challenge for panpsychism but it also suggests it to be a form of counterintuitive thinking since it itself seems to be directly challenge the mature man's common thought of consciousness ‚Äď that only biotic matter is capable of it. However, some panpsychists do propose that consciousness exists in varying degrees. Perhaps elementary particles have a very basic kind of consciousness that doesn't translate to awareness of surroundings. This would explain sleep states in humans while allowing for a form of panpsychism.¬†

Therefore, panpsychism remains a product of speculative thought because the presence of consciousness in matter, as proposed by the theory, is a concept that currently cannot be definitively proven or disproven through scientific means. It delves into the nature of consciousness itself, which is a complex phenomenon that science is still working to understand.

So, while speculative thinking can borrow from common thought and counterintuitive thinking, it's not necessarily rooted in either. It can take common experiences and push them beyond their usual bounds. For instance, we commonly experience consciousness, and panpsychism extrapolates from that to propose consciousness in everything. It can also challenge common sense, but not always in a direct way. For example, the multiverse doesn't directly contradict our experience, but it proposes a reality far stranger than what we take for granted. Speculation itself often ventures into the counterintuitive, but that's not its defining feature. It's more about the introduction of entirely new ideas that aren't directly grounded in common experience or its challenges. The line can be blurry. Some might argue that even the multiverse, despite its strangeness, relies on our concept of a universe to propose its existence. Here, the speculative element lies in proposing the existence of many, not just one more. 

In summary, speculative thinking is characterized by several key features:

  • Imagination: Speculative thinking involves the use of imagination to envision possibilities beyond what is currently known or proven.
  • Exploration: It encourages individuals to explore different perspectives, scenarios, and outcomes that may not be immediately apparent.
  • Creativity: Speculative thinking often involves creative thinking processes such as brainstorming, lateral thinking, and problem-solving.
  • Open-mindedness: It requires individuals to be open to new ideas, perspectives, and ways of thinking.
  • Risk-taking: Speculative thinking involves taking risks by considering ideas that may be unconventional or unproven.

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The Need For a Philosophical Foundation 

Imagine venturing into the ocean without a compass or map. Philosophical inquiry without a foundation can be like this disorienting experience. Of course, philosophical foundations themselves can be debated and challenged. But having a foundation, even a provisional one, is essential for rigorous and systematic philosophical inquiry. Without a foundation, philosophical inquiry can become unmoored and adrift, leading to inconclusive or arbitrary conclusions.

Think of it like building a house. You wouldn't start building without a solid foundation, or your house would crumble. Similarly, a strong foundation in philosophy provides a stable base for exploring complex ideas and developing knowledge. Thus, a foundation for philosophical inquiry is crucial for several reasons. It provides a framework for asking questions, evaluating evidence, and constructing arguments.

  • Common Ground:¬† A foundation provides a common ground for philosophers to engage in debate and build upon each other's work. It establishes basic principles or assumptions that everyone can (at least initially) agree on.
  • Evaluating Arguments:¬†The foundation sets benchmarks for assessing the quality of philosophical arguments. It helps identify strong reasoning, fallacies, and relevant evidence.
  • Guiding the Inquiry:¬†The foundation helps philosophers determine which questions are worth pursuing and which ones are tangential or irrelevant. It keeps the inquiry focused and avoids meandering down unproductive paths.

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Scientific Knowledge As An Extension Of Common Thought 

The knowledge of the world gained via common thought is rather indefinite, inaccurate and unsystematic. It is a sufficient guide for common life, but its deficiencies may be made apparent. S/he who wishes to know matter and mind better cannot afford to neglect the sciences. Now, though it is important to observe that when the common man grows scientific great changes take place in his knowledge of things, it is, however, equally important to acknowledge that his way of of looking at the mind and the world remains generally much what it was.

Let us suppose that the man in question takes up the study of botany. Need s/he do anything contrary from what is merely less systematically done by every common man who interests oneself in plants? There in the red material world before the scientific man are the same plants that s/he had observed somewhat imperfectly before. S/he must now collect the information more systematically and must arrange it more critically. But the task is not so much to do something different, but it is rather to do the same thing much better. The same is evidently true with other various sciences. Some men have far more accurate informed regarding rocks; animals; the functions of the bodily organs; the development of a given form of society, and other things of the sort. Whilst other men have little and yet it is usually not difficult for the man who is an expert to make the common man, who knows little, understand at least the specifics of what s/he is talking about. 

The scientific man is busying oneself with things ‚Äď the same things that may interest a¬†plain man ‚Äď of which the common man knows something about.¬† The scientific man has collected information touching their properties, their changes, their relationships. But to the man of science, as with the less scientific neighbor, they are the same things they always were ‚Äď things that were known from the days of childhood.¬†

Perhaps it will be admitted that this is true with such sciences as the ones mentioned previously, but doubted whether it is true of all sciences. For instance, to the common man, the world of material things consists of things that can be seen and touched. Many of these things seem to fill space continuously. They may be divided, but  the parts into which they may be divided are conceived as fragments of the things, and as of the same nature as the whole, of which they are parts. However, the chemist and the physicist tell us that these same extended things are not really continuous as they seem to be, but consist of swarms rather of imperceptible atoms in rapid motion at considerable distances from one another in space, an grouped in various ways.

So what has now become of the world of realities to which the common man pinned one's faith in? It has come to be looked upon as a world of appearances, of phenomana, of manifestations under which the real things themselves are imperceptible. Is this a new world of things in which the plain man finds oneself when venturing into the science of real but imperceptible things? 

[Continued]

Edited by A Fellow Lighter

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Posted (edited)

Scientific Knowledge As An Extension Of Common Thought 

A closer scrutiny reveals that the world of atoms and molecules into which the man of science resolves the system of material things is not so very different from the world to which the plain man is accustomed. S/he can understand without difficulty the language in which it is described, and s/he can readily see how a man may be led to assume its existence. 

There is no man who has not some acquaintance with the distinction between appearance and reality, and who does not make use of this distinction in common life. Nor can it seem a surprising fact that different combinations of atoms should exhibit different properties. Have we not always known that things in combination are apt to have different properties from the same things taken separately? S/he who does not know this much is not fit even to be a cook.

No. The imperceptible world of atoms and molecules is not by any means totally foreign from the world of things in which the plain man lives. These little objects and groups of objects are discussed very much as we discuss the larger objects to which we are accustomed. We are still concerned with things that exist in space and move about space. And even if these things are small and are not very familiarly known, no cognitive revolution is demanded to enable a man to understand the words of the scientist who is talking about them, and to also understand the sort of reasoning upon which the discipline is based.

~ G.S. Fullerton

Edited by A Fellow Lighter

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Mathematics As A Systematic Form Of Speculative Thinking 

Mathematics is inherently speculative. It is built upon a foundation of abstract axioms and further developed through logic. These axioms aren't proven true in the traditional sense, but they are accepted as the building blocks for constructing a consistent and logical system. This combination of abstract axioms and systematic reasoning is what sets mathematics apart from mere speculation. By relying on abstract concepts, mathematics transcends specific contexts and becomes applicable to a wide range of problems and phenomena, from physics and engineering to computer science and economics.

The emphasis on systematic reasoning ensures the internal consistency and reliability of mathematical results. Theorems and proofs are not based on intuition or guesswork, but on a logical chain of reasoning grounded in the initial speculated axioms. Within this rigorous framework, mathematicians can still engage in exploration and discovery.  By systematically exploring the implications of axioms and existing theorems,  new possibilities and groundbreaking discoveries are constantly being made.

Imagine building a house of cards. You select the cards themselves (axioms) based on certain assumptions (they seem sturdy and can be stacked). This selection has a speculative element. But once you start building (logical deduction), you follow rules (based on how cards interact) to ensure the house doesn't collapse (maintain consistency). The success of the house doesn't depend on the absolute truth of the cards being the strongest material, but on how well they fit together according to the rules. In essence, mathematics leverages an initial speculative element (axioms) to build a rigorous system for exploration and discovery using logic.

So, unlike pure speculation, the focus in mathematics is not on whether the axioms are absolutely true, but on whether they lead to a consistent and non-contradictory system. Mathematicians are primarily concerned with building a logical framework where theorems can be rigorously proven based on the chosen axioms. And within this consistent framework, mathematicians can engage in a form of logical speculation. They explore the consequences of the axioms, propose new concepts, and develop conjectures. These conjectures can then be proven or disproven through rigorous scientific methods, thus carefully bringing them into the world of common thought. 

Therefore, in summary, here's why mathematics is inherently speculative:

  • Mathematics doesn't operate in a complete vacuum. It has a set of axioms (assumed truths) and established rules of logic. However, within this framework, mathematicians engage in a systematic exploration of possibilities. They ask "what if" questions and explore the consequences of those assumptions.
  • Mathematical concepts are intended to be universal and independent of any specific physical realization. Abstract axioms help achieve this by focusing on relationships and properties rather than concrete objects.
  • Mathematicians don't necessarily "prove" these axioms to be true in the traditional sense. Instead, they are considered self-evident truths that form the foundation for building logical structures within mathematics.

Examples of Systematic Speculation in Math:

  • Non-Euclidean Geometries: Euclidean geometry was the established framework for centuries. Speculative mathematicians like Riemann explored the possibility of alternative geometries with different axioms, leading to groundbreaking discoveries in general relativity.
  • Imaginary Numbers: The concept of negative square roots initially seemed counterintuitive. However, mathematicians systematically explored the implications of imaginary numbers, leading to the development of complex analysis, which has numerous applications in physics and engineering.
  • Abstract Algebra: Abstract algebra emerged from attempts to solve polynomial equations. Mathematicians systematically explored the relationships between mathematical structures, leading to powerful new tools and applications in cryptography and coding theory.

In essence, mathematics is a continuous process of systematic speculation. Mathematicians explore possibilities, develop new concepts, and rigorously justify them within the established framework. This ongoing exploration pushes the boundaries of mathematical knowledge and leads to groundbreaking discoveries that impact various fields.

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Reflective Thought As The Foundation For Philosophical Inquiry 

Enough has been said in the preceding sections to make clear that the vagueness which characterizes many notions, which constantly recur in common thought, is not wholly dispelled by the study of the several sciences. The man of science, like the plain man, may be able to use very well, for certain purposes, concepts which s/he is not able to analyze satisfactorily.

For example, the scientific man speaks of space and time, cause and effect, substance and qualities, matter and mind, reality and unreality. S/he certainly is in a position to add to our knowledge of the things covered by these terms. But we should never overlook the fact that the new knowledge which s/he gives us is a knowledge of the same kind as that which we had before. S/he measures for us spaces and times; s/he does not tell us what space and time are. S/he points out the causes of a multitude of occurrences; s/he does not tell us what we mean whenever we use the word "cause." S/he informs us what we should accept as real and what we should repudiate as unreal; s/he does not try to show us what it is to be real and what it is to be unreal.

In other words, the man of science extends our knowledge and makes it more accurate; s/he does not analyze certain fundamental conceptions, which we all use, but of which we can usually give a very poor account. On the other hand, it is the task of reflective thought, not in the first instance, to extend the limits of our knowledge of the world of matter and of minds, but rather to make us more clearly conscious of what that knowledge really is. Philosophical reflection takes up and tries to analyze complex thoughts that men use daily without caring to analyze them, indeed, without even realizing that they may be subjected to analysis. 

It is to be expected that it should impress many of those who are introduced to it for the first time as rather a fantastic creation of problems that do not present themselves naturally to the healthy mind. There is no thoughtful man who does not reflect sometimes and about some things; but there are few who feel impelled to go over the whole edifice of their knowledge and examine it with a critical eye from its turrets to its foundations. In a sense, we may say that philosophical thought is not natural, for s/he who is examining the assumptions upon which all our ordinary thought about the world rests is no longer in the world of the plain man. S/he is treating things as men do not commonly treat them, and it is perhaps natural that it should appear to some that, in the solvent which s/he uses, the real world in which we all rejoice should seem to dissolve and disappear.

I have said that it is not the task of reflective thought, in the first instance, to extend the limits of our knowledge of the world of matter and of minds. This is true. But this does not mean that, as a result of a careful reflective analysis, some errors which may creep into the thought both of the plain man and of the scientist may not be exploded; nor does it mean that some new extensions of our knowledge may not be suggested.

~ G.S. Fullerton 

Reflective Thought involves taking a step back from our immediate thoughts and experiences to examine them from a different perspective. It's about analyzing our own assumptions, biases, and thought processes. Reflective thinking can lead to deeper understanding, personal growth, and a more nuanced perspective on the world. Reflective Thought can occur at different levels of depth and complexity. Simple reflection might involve replaying a recent conversation in your head and analyzing what you said.  Deeper reflection might involve examining your core values or beliefs and how they influence your actions. For instance, it can involve some level of introspection, where we turn our attention inwards and examine our own thoughts, feelings, and experiences. We ask ourselves questions like "Why did I think that way?" or "What emotions am I feeling?".

Imagine a detective investigating a crime scene. Reflective thinking is like the detective taking a step back from the initial observations and questioning their own assumptions about the case. This critical self-reflection allows them to consider alternative explanations and arrive at a more accurate understanding of the situation. Before philosophers can engage with complex arguments or analyze the world around them, they need to be aware of their own thought processes, biases, and limitations.  Reflective thinking provides this self-awareness, ensuring a more grounded and objective approach to philosophical problems.

In fact, while some might argue that curiosity or a sense of wonder could be considered the initial spark that ignites philosophical inquiry, followed by reflective thought to guide further exploration, others could even argue that reflective thinking is the bedrock upon which philosophy itself was built. Yes, philosophy begins with a spark of curiosity, a questioning of the world around us. This curiosity can stem from observing natural phenomena, pondering our own existence, or encountering different beliefs and values.

However, curiosity alone wouldn't necessarily lead to philosophy. It's reflective thought that takes that initial curiosity and transforms it into a systematic inquiry. By reflecting on our observations, experiences, and questions, we can begin to identify patterns, analyze assumptions, and formulate reasoned arguments. Reflective thought allows us to move beyond simply wondering "why?" and delve deeper into the "how?" and the "what if?". It helps us formulate clear questions, consider different perspectives, and critically examine potential answers. 

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Metacognition As The Foundation For Philosophical Inquiry 

Metacognition is the awareness and understanding of one's own thought processes. The term literally means above cognition, and is associated with often associated with planning, monitoring and evaluation. Now, there is a possibility of confusing metacognition with reflective thought if one is not accustomed with the term. But there are key differences which make it easy to tell apart these two thought forms. They are as follows: 

Reflective thought focuses on the content of your thoughts and experiences. You examine your own thoughts, feelings, and actions, asking questions like "Why did I react that way?" or "What does this experience mean to me?" Metacognition focuses on the processes of your thinking. It's about being aware of how you think, not just what you think. You ask questions like "Do I understand this material?" or "Am I using the most effective strategy for this task?" Basically with metacognition, you are thinking about how you're thinking. 

The goal of reflective thought is to gain a deeper understanding of yourself, your motivations, and your values. It helps you learn from past experiences and develop your personal growth. The goal of metacognition is to regulate and control your thinking processes. It helps you choose the most appropriate strategies for learning, solving problems, and achieving your goals. 

Reflective thinking can be a more open-ended process. It might involve journaling, introspection, or simply replaying events in your mind to gain insights. Metacognition involves actively monitoring and regulating your thinking. It can involve planning your approach, evaluating your progress, and revising strategies as needed.

Imagine watching a movie about yourself. You're reflecting on the plot (your experiences), the characters (your emotions), and the overall message (your learnings). This is what's seen as reflective thought. Now imagine being the director of the movie.  You're aware of the filming process (your thinking),  you can adjust camera angles (thinking strategies) to capture the scene effectively, and  you can even rewrite the script (revise your approach) if needed. This is metacognition. 

There is some overlap between the two. Reflective thought can lead to insights about your thinking processes (a form of metacognition). Conversely, metacognition can help you analyze your reflections more effectively. Both reflective thought and metacognition are valuable tools for understanding ourselves better. Reflective thought helps us understand the "what" of our experience, while metacognition helps us understand the "how" of our thinking.

Now, there are those non-mainstream views or 'takes' on what metacognition essentially is and its unexplored potentials. This thought experiment raises interesting questions about the nature of metacognition itself. It asks, "Who is doing the metacognition?". If we have a part of our mind reflecting on our thinking, does that part also need its own metacognition, leading to an infinite regress? Some explore how metacognition might be affected by meditation, psychedelic experiences, or other altered states of consciousness. Do these states enhance or hinder our ability to reflect on our thoughts? 

Metacognition is a powerful tool that empowers philosophers to approach their inquiries with greater self-awareness, critical thinking, and a commitment to rigorous reasoning. It allows philosophers to be strategic learners. They can identify when they need to gather more information, consult different sources, or explore alternative perspectives to strengthen their inquiry. Metacognition can help philosophers refine their initial philosophical questions. By reflecting on their own thinking processes, they can ensure their questions are clear, well-defined, and address the core issues they're investigating.

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The Fundamentals 

Philosophical inquiry and research are the cornerstones of philosophy, a discipline that seeks to understand fundamental questions about knowledge, reality, existence, ethics, and more. But before one can even begin to do philosophy, it is unexpressably crucial to understand what it is exactly that you are doing as well as how you are doing it. Why?

Because unlike any other field of study, or any other discipline, or any other type of investigation, whether it be scientific or social, in fact, unlike any other thing that you've come across before: the problems which the philosopher occupies oneself with are, in the most blunt sense of the word, real problems which present themselves unavoidably to the thoughtful mind. This is because contrary to other occupations, or whatever, the philosopher doesn't busy oneself with the problems of the world. To the philosopher, those problems are about as trivial as the problems of a child when it reaches its impulsive stage. No. The philosopher busies oneself with problems that are terrifyingly much more closer to home than those that have to do with survival, s/he busies oneself with the problems of consciousness.

It is a natural response for many to shrug of such statements about man's problems as nothing more than mere rant. Sure, it¬†may not seem like it now, but just as rivers run and the winds blow, the average man is more burdened by one's consciousness than s/he is by one's need to survive. Of course, this is not something that s/he might admit under groundless circumstances. It is more likely that s/he hasn't even begun to realize this, let alone suspect it. But it is not that difficult to realize, just difficult to want to realize it. After all, to simply begin, you'd only need to wonder why people commit suicide. What is so burdensome to the extent of overcoming one's most fundamental of extints ‚Äď survival?¬†

The truth is ‚Äď philosophy is not a discipline ‚Äď philosophy is discipline. It's not something that you study either, the only thing we can study is its history and other people's impressions of it. But the true philosopher has never been a student of philosophy, s/he has only ever been a plain man¬†who does philosophy. Philosophy is something that you do. And to the philosopher, the problems of consciousness aren't problems, they are simply matters of consciousness which only becomes problematic if ignored. So what is it that the philosopher does when s/he does philosophy? Does s/he ask questions? Is philosophy asking questions? That's what other occupations seem to think. Philosophy seeks to understand the fundamental questions, right? The dictionary describes it as an investigation. And they are not wrong, its process can be described as investigative. Yes. But is that what philosophy really is? Questions?¬†

They only recognize the questions, never mind their source. Because such is the mentality which sees itself fit to define to the world what philosophy is. We ask questions all the time, we ask questions because it's necessary for our survival. But then why bother with the fundamental questions when there's no direct reward for knowing the answers? One's social or economic circumstances don't change from doing philosophy. And if there's ultimately no way of proving yourself right in anything you might come up with, then what's the point? This is the reason why the average will not bother oneself with such a regardless endeavor, for s/he only ever concerns oneself with things, not being. 

Philosophy is being, in that it is true being, not the falsehood of "human being". It is an action, not a reaction.¬†It is initiative, it is pro-activity. Philosophy is the very movement of consciousness itself emerging from that dark place which is its own unconsciousness.¬†It is the most natural, most unsuperficial, most authentic, activity that one can engage in. Yes. Philosophy is something that you do. Philosophy is thought itself. How consciousness moves, is through thought. But not just any sort of thought, it must be disciplined thought and not stimulated thought ‚Äď an action, not a reaction. It's not just about questions. If it were, we would have accepted that we simply cannot know and moved on to engage in practical matters with the rest of the world, leaving philosophy in the past where it belongs. At least, that's the assumption.

The fundamental questions aren't just questions. They are our fundamental thoughts, like the stars by which the less significant bodies orbit. Which means, though you might not be aware of it, every other non-fundamental but 'serious' questions you've ever asked ultimately leads back to the much bigger questions, and are discovered if followed through, which the average man doesn't. It's one of those things that s/he will do carelessly until a career can be made out of it, like with botany or geology or economics and etc. Then when s/he finally does follow through, actually studying the methods of philosophizing rather than doing it as carelessly as the common man does, s/he is called a philosopher. 

A question is never really a question if it is without an answer. The mind itself knows that much about its nature. No one makes a request of anything s/he doesn't suspect that s/he can receive. Its a ring that calls itself. Consciousness calls for its own development. At least that's what the fundamentals suggest: "who am I?", "what is the meaning of life?", "what is the nature of reality?".

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The Pentagon Of Thought 

There are exactly five most basic forms of thought from which all other forms are established upon. They are as follows:

  • Common Thought¬†which refers to the prevalent way of thinking about things using the framework of common experiential knowledge. It highly involves deductive reasoning and is highly empirical.¬†
  • Counterintuitive Thinking¬†which refers to the direct challenging of common thought in the exploration of ideas. Elements of skepticism are often demonstrated here.
  • Speculative Thinking¬†which refers to the creative generation of ideas¬†¬†and formulating hypotheses without necessarily having all the information. It mainly uses abductive reasoning. And often makes use of thought experiments.
  • Reflective Thought¬†which refers to the¬†analyzing and evaluating of one's own thoughts, experiences, and beliefs.
  • Metacognition¬†which refers to the awareness and understanding of one's own thinking processes. It often makes use of critical reasoning.¬†

These five forms of thought are foundational because they represent the core cognitive processes that underlie all higher-order thinking. These forms of thought can occur independently, unlike more complex forms that often rely on a combination of these. For instance, we can engage in common thought without necessarily needing to be reflective or vice versa. These thought processes are fundamental to human cognition and are observed across cultures and disciplines. They form the bedrock upon which more specialized or domain-specific thinking is built.

Identifying these five forms of thought is crucial before engaging in any philosophical inquiry and research. Recognizing your thought patterns helps you approach questions from a more objective standpoint. It is especially important to know when it is appropriate to employ a certain form of thought. Ultimately, all of philosophical inquiry takes place within this pentagon of the basic forms of thought. However it is important to identify the driving force of your particular philosophical inquiry because that thought form essentially functions as the foundation upon which your philosophy is built. And consistency is the most subtle but equally important thing to maintain for a solid development. Of course all other thought forms, including the complex forms, might get involved in developing your philosophical research. But it is important to recognize that which establishes the trajectory of your philosophical research as to not get lost in the abyss that is your own mind and ultimately failing to demonstrate the validity of your philosophical science. 

Engaging in philosophical inquiry is a continuous process that fosters intellectual curiosity, challenges our assumptions, and broadens our understanding of the world and ourselves. Philosophical research involves delving into historical and contemporary philosophical works, engaging with different schools of thought, and considering diverse perspectives. This strengthens the foundation for inquiry and helps refine arguments. Philosophy is the most complex and most sensitive of fields which demands nothing less than perfect in order for its true value to be acknowledge-able. By understanding the thought form behind your inquiry, you can tailor your arguments and evidence accordingly. For instance, common thought-based arguments benefit from strong empirical backing, while speculative thinking might rely on thought experiments.

In summary, by establishing a foundation for your philosophical science, you are providing a framework for, not only yourself, discussing a complex issue, or a range of complex issues, within which you can engage in a respectful dialogue with others.

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Philosophers often use common sense as a starting point for their investigations. They ask questions like, "Where does everything come from?" or "What is the nature of reality?". This is the most natural form of thought as it reflects the world's cause-and-effect cohesive patterns as well as its systematic correspondence identified as ecosystems or biological systems and so forth.

There are also instances where a man will have a counterintuitive thought regarding the same matters of the world, a thought which goes against the experiential framework of the common man. We see this with skepticism where a philosopher questions everything, even the most fundamental beliefs we take for granted. This constant questioning, often through inquiries like "what if?" and "how can we be sure?", can reveal weaknesses in our understanding of the world, prompting us to seek more robust knowledge.

And sometimes, usually in the absence of evidence, our thought pattern can take on a speculative form where speculation is the driving force behind the creation of grand philosophical theories that attempt to explain the nature of reality, knowledge, and existence. These all-encompassing theories, while not definitively provable, offer frameworks for interpreting the world.

Reflective thought is the engine that drives philosophical inquiry. Philosophy is a historical conversation. Philosophers reflect on the works of past thinkers, critiquing and building upon their ideas. This ongoing dialogue fosters the development of knowledge over time. And philosophers are open to revising their own views in light of new evidence or arguments. This openness is crucial for the advancement of philosophical thought.

However, in rare instances and usually in the absence of a query, our thought patterns can take on a dualistic form where one's thought patterns are observed by the same mind that is generating them. This is when your thought pattern has taken a metacognitive form, and questions such as, "How do I know this?" or "How did I learn this?" are eminent.

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Cosmology And Philosophy

Cosmology and philosophy have interacted throughout history, each informing the other. Philosophers have pondered fundamental questions about the universe's nature, origin, and existence for millennia. These inquiries delve into metaphysics, exploring the nature of reality and existence itself.

From the beginning, philosophers have grappled with the nature of reality. Cosmology provides a lens to examine these questions on a grand scale. Is the universe eternal or did it have a beginning? What is the fundamental nature of space and time? Philosophical pondering on existence extends to the universe itself. Does the universe exist objectively, or is it simply a product of our human minds? Is our universe the only one, or is there a multiverse? Modern cosmology reveals a universe far grander and older than previously imagined. This challenges philosophical ideas about humanity's place in the cosmos. Are we simply insignificant specks in a vast universe, or is there a deeper purpose to our existence?

The concept of a beginning of time as suggested by the Big Bang theory pushes philosophers to grapple with the nature of time itself. Did time always exist, or did it come into being with the universe? The Fine-Tuning Argument suggests that the universe's physical constants seem suspiciously fine-tuned for life to exist. This has led philosophers to debate whether this is evidence for a creator or can be explained by other means. The possibility of multiple universes raises profound philosophical questions. If other universes exist, what are the implications for our understanding of reality, existence, and our place in the cosmos?

In essence, cosmology and philosophy form a symbiotic relationship. Philosophy provides the questions that drive cosmological inquiry, while cosmological discoveries challenge and refine philosophical ideas. This ongoing dialogue fosters a deeper understanding of the universe and our place within it.

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Common Thought As The Foundation Of Autonoetism 

I am a naturalist, or at least, I am someone who doesn't believe in an influence which is external to the system that it is influencing, as such a thing would be unnatural or "supernatural" if you say. 

In philosophy, a naturalistic view is a perspective that adheres to naturalism. This means it explains phenomena and concepts solely through natural causes and rejects explanations that involve supernatural or divine intervention. In essence, it argues that the universe is self-contained and operates based on knowable principles. And I definitely don't believe in unknowable principles because by definition, that would make them outside the system. Rather let's talk about principles which we're yet to figure out. 

The reason why I do not believe in dualistic or unnaturalistic concepts is a simple one ‚ÄstI am yet to witness in real life such a phenomenon. So far, I have not come across a system with an influence which is not ultimately connected to the very system it is¬†influencing.¬†And to suggest otherwise without any experiential reference, is pure speculation. Everything affects everything, one way or the other.¬†

It is for this reason that I am grounding my cosmology, Autonoetism, and its development on Common Thought as opposed to any other form of thought. Common Thought will be the steering wheel with which I'll be steering the direction of my philosophical research toward a fully developed self-consistent cosmology. 

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Posted (edited)

How The Plain Man Thinks S/he Knows The World

Now, I am going to take up and turn over, so that we may get a good look at them, some of the problems that have presented themselves to those who have reflected upon the world and the mind as they seem given in our experience. I shall begin by asking, "Is it not possible to doubt that there is an external world at all? "

It may, of course, be absurd to maintain that there is no external world. But surely s/he, too, is in an absurd position who maintains dogmatically that there is an external world, however, remains unable to find any flaw in the reasonings of the man who seems to be able to show that the external world belief  has no solid foundation. And we must not forget that the men who have thought it worth while to raise just such questions as this, during the last twenty centuries, have been among the most brilliant intellects of the race. We must not assume too hastily that they have occupied themselves with mere trivialities. 

Since so many thoughtful men have found it worth while to ask themselves seriously whether there is an external world, or, at least, how we can know that there is an external world, it is not unreasonable to expect that, by looking for it, we may find in our common experience or in science some difficulty sufficient to suggest the doubt which at first strikes the average man as preposterous. In what can such a doubt take its rise? Let us see.

I think it is scarcely too much to say that the plain man believes that he does not directly perceive an external world, and that he, at the same time, believes that he does directly perceive one. It is quite possible to believe contradictory things, when one's thought of them is somewhat vague, and when one does not consciously bring them together.

As¬†to the first-mentioned belief ‚Äď there is an external world. Does not the plain man distinguish between his ideas of things and the things themselves? Does s/he not believe that one's ideas come¬†through the avenues of the senses? Is s/he not aware of the fact that, when a sense is disordered, the thing as s/he perceives it is not like the thing "as it is"? A blind man does not see things when they are there; a color-blind man sees them as others do not see them; a man suffering under certain abnormal conditions of the nervous system sees things when they are not there at all, i.e. s/he¬†has hallucinations. The thing itself, as it seems, is not in the man's mind:¬†it is the idea that is in the man's mind, and that represents the thing. Sometimes it appears to give a true account of it; sometimes it seems to give a garbled account; sometimes it is a false representative throughout ‚Äď there is no reality behind it. It is, then, the idea that is immediately known, and not the thing; the thing is merely inferred to exist.

I do not mean to say that the plain man is conscious of drawing this conclusion. I only maintain that it seems a natural conclusion to draw from the facts which she recognizes, and that sometimes s/he seems to draw the conclusion half-consciously. On the other hand, we must all admit that when the plain man is not thinking about the distinction between ideas and things, but is looking at some material object, is touching it with one's very hands and turning it about to get a good look at it, it never occurs to the plain man that s/he is not directly conscious of the thing itself.

To oneself, s/he seems to perceive the thing immediately; to perceive it as it is and where it is; to perceive it as a really extended thing, out there in space before one's body. S/he does not think of oneself as occupied with mere images, representations of the object. S/he may be willing to admit that one's mind is in one's own head, but s/he cannot think that what s/he sees is in one's own head. Is not the object there? Does s/he not see and feel it? Why doubt such evidence as this? S/he who tells the plain man that the external world does not exist seems to be denying what is immediately given in their experience.

The plain man who looks at things in this way assumes, of course, that the external object is known directly, and is not a something merely inferred to exist from the presence of a representative image.

May one embrace this belief and abandon the other one? If we elect to do this, we appear to be in difficulties at once. All the considerations which made us distinguish so carefully between our ideas of things and the things themselves crowd in upon us. Can it be that we know things independently of the avenues of the senses? Would a man with different senses know things just as we do? How can any man suffer from an hallucination, if things are not inferred from images, but are known independently?

The difficulties encountered appear sufficiently serious even if we keep to that knowledge of things which seems to be given in common experience. But even the plain man has heard of atoms and molecules. And if s/he accepts the extension of knowledge offered by the man of science, s/he must admit that, whatever this apparently immediately perceived external thing may be, it cannot be the external thing that science assures one to be out there in space beyond one's body, and which must be a very different sort of thing from the thing s/he seems to perceive. The thing s/he perceives must, then, be appearance. And where can that appearance be if not in one's own mind?

The man who has made no study of philosophy at all does not usually think these things out. But surely there are interrogation marks written up all over the man's experience, and s/he misses them only because s/he does not see clearly. By judiciously asking questions one may often lead the plain man either to affirm or to deny that s/he has an immediate knowledge of the external world, pretty much as one pleases. If s/he affirms it, one's position does not seem to be a wholly satisfactory one, as we have seen. And if s/he denies it, s/he makes the existence of the external world wholly a matter of inference from the presence of ideas in the mind, and s/he must stand ready to justify this inference.

To many men it has seemed that the inference is not an easy one to justify. One may say: We could have no ideas of things, no sensations, if real things did not exist and make an impression upon our senses.

But to this it may be answered: How is that statement to be proved? Is it to be proved by observing that, when things are present and affect the senses, there come into being ideas which represent the things? Evidently such a proof as this is out of the question, for, if it is true that we know external things only by inference and never immediately, then we can never prove by observation that ideas and things are thus connected. And if it is not to be proved by observation, how shall it be proved? Shall we just assume it dogmatically and pass on to something else? Surely there is enough in the experience of the plain man to justify one in raising the question whether s/he can certainly know that there is an external world.

~ G.S. Fullerton 

Edited by A Fellow Lighter

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The Psychologist And The External World 

Now, when the psychologist asks how a given mind comes to have a knowledge of any external thing, s/he finds one's answer in the messages which have been brought to the mind by means of the bodily senses. S/he describes the sense-organs and the nervous connections between these and the brain, and tells us that when certain nervous impulses have traveled, let us say, from the eye or the ear to the brain, one has sensations of sight or sound.

The psychologist describes for us in detail how, out of such sensations and the memories of such sensations, we frame mental images of external things. Between the mental image and the thing that it represents s/he distinguishes sharply, and s/he informs us that the mind knows no more about the external thing than is contained in such images. That a thing is present can only be known¬†by the fact that a message from the thing is sent along the nerves, and what the thing is must be determined from the character of the message. Given the image in the absence of the thing,‚ÄĒthat is to say, an hallucination,‚ÄĒthe mind will naturally suppose that the thing is present. This false supposition cannot be corrected by a direct inspection of the thing, for such a direct inspection of things is out of the question. The only way in which the mind concerned can discover that the thing is absent is by referring to its other experiences. This image is compared with other images and is discovered to be in some way abnormal. We decide that it is a false representative and has no corresponding reality behind it.

This doctrine taken as it stands seems to cut the mind off from the external world very completely. And the most curious thing about it is that it seems to be built up on the assumption that it is not really true. How can one know certainly that there is a world of material things, including human bodies with their sense-organs and nerves, if no mind has ever been able to inspect directly anything of the sort? How can we tell that a sensation arises when a nervous impulse has been carried along a sensory nerve and has reached the brain, if every mind is shut up to the charmed circle of its own ideas?

The anatomist and the physiologist give us very detailed accounts of the sense-organs and of the brain.¬†The physiologist even undertakes to measure the speed with which the impulse passes along a nerve. The psychologist accepts and uses the results of their labors. But can all this be done in the absence of any first-hand knowledge of the things of which one is talking? Remember that, if the psychologist is right, any external object, eye, ear, nerve, or brain, which we can perceive directly, is a mental complex, a something in the mind and not external at all. How shall we prove that there are objects, ears, eyes, nerves, and brains ‚Äď in short, all the requisite mechanism for the calling into existence of sensations ‚Äď in an outer world which is not immediately perceived but is only inferred to exist?

So much, at least, is evident: The man who is inclined to doubt whether there is, after all, any real external world, appears to find in the psychologist's distinction between ideas and things something like an excuse for his doubt. To get to the bottom of the matter and to dissipate one's doubt one has to go rather deeply into metaphysics. I merely wish to show just here that the doubt is not a gratuitous one, but is really suggested to the thoughtful mind by a reflection upon our experience of things. And, as we are all apt to think that the man of science is less given to busying oneself with useless subtleties than is the philosopher, I shall, before closing this chapter, present some paragraphs upon the subject from the pen of a professor of mathematics and mechanics.

~ G.S. Fullerton 

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