Notes on Deleuze’s “Bergsonism”

  1. Intuition as Method
    1. Stating and creating problems
    2. Realizing that we are the creators of our own problems gives us “semi-divine power”; those who accept ready-made problems of society are slaves (15)
    3. Deleuze: “the history of humanity, from the theoretical as much as from the practical point of view, is the construction of problems. It is here that humanity makes its own history, and the becoming conscious of that activity is like the conquest of freedom.” (16)
    4. two types of false problem (17)
      1. nonexistent problems- the very terms contain a confusion of the “more” and the “less”
        1. example: nonbeing/disorder/possible- there is not less, but more in the idea of nonbeing/disorder/possible than being/order/real (the idea of disorder only appears because we refuse to see two or more irreducible orders) (19)
        2. asking “why is there something rather than nothing?” is to mistake the more (nothing) for the less (something)
      2. badly stated problems- the terms represent badly analyzed composites; arbitrary grouping of things that differ in kind
        1. 2nd problem related to the 1st, in that the most general error of science and metaphysics is to see everything in terms of difference in degree (nonbeing is more or less than being, etc.) rather than differences in kind (20)
    5. only intuition can decide true from false problems, thereby throwing intelligence back upon itself (Kant: the critical mode: reason constructs its own problems)
    6. discovering genuine differences in kind
      1. Bergson (in)famous for dualism: “Intuition as method is a method of division, Platonic in inspiration” (22)
      2. Even so, Bergson recognizes that experience offers nothing but compositions, with kinds mixed together
      3. Science and metaphysics have become forgetful of the distinction between space and time; they become mixed as one kind of representation where two “pure presences” of duration and extensity are lost
        1. They then confuse space-time for a deteriorated opposite of eternity
      4. Kinds are tendencies or movements
          1. Duration = contraction
          2. Extensity = expansion/relaxation
      5. Example: the brain’s function is not different in kind from the reflex functions of the body–the brain does not manufacture representations (24)
        1. the brain complicates the relationship between excitation and response by establishing an interval
          1. the interval is the interest of the organism
          2. Deleuze: “Perception is not the object plus something, but the object minus something, minus everything that does not interest us.” (25)
          3. Bergson’s thesis: “Perception puts us at once into matter”- there is no difference in kind between perception of matter and matter itself
        2. The mixture of the two tendencies pure memory and pure perception (or “matter-perception-memory”) is our representational experience (26)
          1. the method of intuition leads us beyond the turning point of representational experience to the conditions of experience (27)
          2. these conditions are not general or abstract, not the conditions of all possible experience (which would the Kantian method), but rather the conditions of actual experience
        3. Deleuze: “Dualism is only a moment, which must lead to the re-formation of a monism”
          1. differences in kind, established in the first turn beyond experience to its concrete conditions of actuality, intersect at another point, converging on the same ideal virtuality in the returning point of experience (28-29)
        4. Philosophy is not about human wisdom, but about opening us to the beyond, to what is inhuman and superhuman (durations that are inferior or superior to our own)
      6. apprehending real time/solving problems in terms of duration (31)
        1. time/duration (heterogeneous, varying qualitatively within itself) v. space/extensity (homogeneous and quantitative, varying only according to degree)
        2. Plato formulated method of division, but also criticized it for lacking a middle term (32)
        3. Bergson avoids the need for a middle term by reducing degrees of space to the kinds of time by way of intuitive method (i.e., space emerges from relations between the durations of things (49))
  2. Bergson’s evolution as a thinker
    1. early phase: treated duration in psychological way
    2. later phase: came to see duration as the essence of all things and the theme of a complex ontology (34)
      1. He came to see space, not as a fiction separating us from the psychological reality of duration, but as grounded in being, one of its two tendencies
      2. absolute being has two tendencies: “spirit imbued with metaphysics” and “matter known by science” (35)
      3. Absolute = Difference (between degree and kind)
  3. Duration as Immediate Datum
    1. Intuitive method decomposes experiential composite of extensity and duration (space-time) to reveal two types of “multiplicity”
      1. space with its differences of degree and juxtaposition of simultaneous instants (actual and discontinuous)
      2. duration with its differences of kind and fusion of successive heterogeneous occasions
    2. Bergson v. Riemann on the issue of “multiplicity” (39)
      1. Bergson was opposed to the theory of Relativity because of its interpretation of “continuous multiplicities”
        1. Riemann (and Einstein) mistakenly interpret temporal multiplicities as though it they could be measured according to a single metrical principle
        2. Bergson argues that temporal multiplicities belong to the sphere of duration, where divisions cannot be measured by differences in degree but can only be marked by differences in kind (40)
        3. Bergson’s multiplicities are subjective, qualitative, and continuous; Riemann’s/Einstein’s are objectified, quantitative, and numerical
          1. subjective sphere of duration holds its differences in reserve (in virtuality)
          2. objective sphere of extensity has no virtuality; everything is already actualized as matter (mere surface hiding nothing)
          3. Deleuze: “with duration, we speak of indivisibles at each stage of its division.” (42)
            1. Duration is the virtual in the process of actualization.
      2. Virtuality v. Possibility  (43; see also 96-98)
      3. Critique of Negation and Dialectic
        1. Bergson condemns Hegel’s “false, abstract” dialectical movement as failure to track real, concrete movement (44)
        2. Hegel’s logical concepts of Being and nonbeing are like baggy clothes, too big to fit their intended realities- “a net so slack that everything slips through” (45)
        3. “Never, with concepts or points of view, will you make a thing”
        4. Dialectic is only the beginning stage of philosophy, which progresses to the method of intuition (124n16)
        5. There are only different kinds of being, there is no negation of being
          1. negation always involves abstract concepts (nonbeing, disorder, possibility, etc.), giving them a force and a power to effect reality
          2. negation leads to the consideration of the deterioration, by degrees, of being until it reaches nonbeing (as in emanationist schemes of creation)
  4. Memory as Virtual Coexistence
    1. in Matter and Memory, Bergson decomposes the composite of representational experience into two kinds of tendency (53)
      1. matter/perception/objectivity
      2. memory/recollection/subjectivity
      3. (with affectivity as the blurred meeting point between matter and memory)
    2. Asking “where is memory?” creates a false problem! (i.e., a badly analyzed composite) (54)
      1. The brain is an object and so cannot hold the subjective memory contents
      2. Recollection preserves itself; the past is indestructible, never ceasing to be (55)
    3. Critique of Presentism
      1. We tend to confuse being with being-present.
      2. The present is precisely what is not, what is always moving outside itself, always in the process of falling beyond itself, always caught in the act of presentation: in a word, the present is ecstatic.
      3. The past, though it has ceased to act, has not ceased to be; it always still is. The past is always already present.   
      4. Deleuze: “Only the present is ‘psychological’; but the past is pure ontology.” (56)
        1. the past is universal and eternal, “the condition of the passage of every particular present”
        2. “ontological Memory” takes Bergson beyond psychological duration (57)
        3. When I remember something, I dip into the virtual past as it exists in itself (impersonally) in order to retrieve and actualize it in a particular way, relevant for me.
        4. The past is the condition of the present’s passage. (59)
    4. Deleuze: the only equivalent to Bergson’s account of ontological Memory is Plato’s doctrine of Anamnesis.
      1. Plato’s account of Recollection serves as the foundation for the unfolding of time.
    5. Deleuze’s Cinematographical method of composition
      1. The past coexists with the present, just as recollection coexists with perception
        1. experience is the composite of repetition and difference (i.e., virtual and not actual repetition)
        2. the experiential composition of memory-matter is like the frames in a cartoon movie, each one only slightly different from the last, but still just different enough to successfully generate the appearance of continuous animation.
        3. See Bergson’s Time Cone diagram (60)
          1. Each “plane” (or “frame” in the movie analogy) of the virtual/pure memory, though different in kind from other planes and from the present, nevertheless coexists with them in the passage of the present.
        4. Deleuze’s VCR analogy: “The whole of our past is played, restarts, repeats itself, at the same time, on all the levels that it sketches out.” (61)
    6. False problems/questions about time lead to:
      1. the notion that we can reconstitute the past with the present
      2. that we pass gradually from present to past
      3. that past and present are before and after
      4. that the mind works through the addition of elements, rather than jumps between levels (61-62)
    7. True problem regarding time = “How can pure memory take on psychological existence?” (62)
      1. Memory can translate-contract, and/or rotate-orient itself so as to improve useful action and image-recall in the present (64)
      2. Picture yourself embedded in a transparent lattice-work that is constantly rotating/contracting around you to provide you with proper access to relevant memories stored within its network of heterogeneous planes.
      3. Deleuze: “The past literally moves toward the present in order to find a point of contact with it.” (70)
      4. Psychologically, accessing the past feels to us like a “leap” or “jump” to a level beyond the present; but ontologically, it is first of all the past that comes to meet experience.
      5. Are Bergson/Deleuze trying to give a properly posited account of Einstein’s space-time [this time as virtual (real time), rather than actual (spatialized time)]?
        1. contraction = temporal gravitation?
        2. rotation = spatial acceleration?
  5. One or Many Durations?
    1. Bergson’s early dualism is finally resolved in a monism (but doesn’t this repeat the mistake of reducing things that differ in kind to those that differ only in degree?)
      1. Deleuze: “The present itself is only the most contracted level of the past.” (74)
      2. Deleuze: sensation is “the operation of contracting trillions of vibrations onto a receptive surface” (i.e., quality emerges from the contraction of quantity)
      3. The dualism of differences in kind between extensity and duration becomes, in the later Bergson, the difference in degree between contraction and relaxation (75)
      4. Bergson’s thought moves through a series of hypotheses regarding time:
        1. generalized pluralism- completely different rhythms of duration coexist
        2. limited pluralism- material things only gain duration by participating in duration of living beings
        3. monism- there is really only a single duration, that of the universe, in which everything participates (78)
      5. Deleuze wonders if Bergson has forgotten his posing of the problem of time as “multiplicity”?
    2. implications of Einstein’s interpretation of Relativity Theory (79):
      1. movement entails a contraction of bodies and a dilation of their time
      2. simultaneity is dislocated
      3. rest and movement are relative
      4. space and time are reciprocal
      5. there are multiple flows of time each with different rates of passage relative to the others.
    3. Bergson critiques Einstein’s “time” as a false time, a mere “numerical multiplicity” (80)
      1. Einstein has confused (through bad analyzation of a composite) time with space
      2. Bergson also posits multiple/different flows, but they coexist in the triplicity of simultaneous duration (the flow of the river, the movement of wind-blown leaves, the duration of my experience) (81)
        1. the duration of my experience of duration is always the privileged time-system
        2. Einstein negated lived time by insisting upon the lack of a privileged time-system (83)
      3. Bergson insists that other time-systems (i.e., non-simultaneously/non-coexisting time-systems) can only be symbolic; in reality, there must be a single, universal, and impersonal time flow, accessed by us via the method of intuition (which necessarily takes beyond ourself and is inhuman/superhuman) (82)
      4. Einstein’s “simultaneity” is only applicable to mechanical clocks: it may be true that this clock-simultaneity is variable and relative, but only symbolically
      5. Einstein confuses the virtual for the actual, leading Bergson to condemn “the whole combination of space and time into a badly analyzed composite, where space is considered ready-made, and time, in consequence, as a 4th dimension of space.” (86)
      6. Bergson’s theory of simultaneity confirms the conception of duration “as the virtual coexistence of all the degrees of a single and identical time.” (85)
        1. expansion/relaxation and contraction are relative to one another
          1. therefore: there is always extensity in our duration, and always duration in matter
        2. Deleuze: “Matter is never expanded enough to be pure space, to stop having this minimum of contraction through which it participates in duration.” (88)
          1. therefore: pure space is an abstraction, a concept that has been made too baggy to fit anything concrete
          2. intelligence pushes matter to its extreme, which is space; but intelligence then adapts itself to space/matter by means of duration/memory (89)
  6. Élan Vital as Movement of Differentiation
    1. Search for the next true problem begins with “How are we to resolve the difference between the dualism of differences of kind and the monism of differences in degree?” (91)
      1. Deleuze asks aloud whether Bergson contradicts himself on this point, or if his method move through successive moments (92)
      2. reflexive dualism v. genetic dualism (96)
        1. reflexive dualism- results from decomposition of impure composite
        2. genetic dualism- results from differentiation of pure virtual
    2. Virtual v. possible- the virtual is “real without being actual, ideal without being abstract” (97)
      1. virtual actualization = divergence and creation
      2. possible realization = imitation and limitation
    3. the “possible” is the source of false problems
      1. in Einstein’s space-time bloc, the idea of the possible is reducible to reality, such that the real is understood to come about on its own as if everything were already given and pre-made
        1. the possible is reduced to a fictitious image projected backward by the real
        2. this backwards projection obscures the true process of creation (=the living differentiation of the simple virtual) 
    4. Deleuze: “Evolution takes place from the virtual to the actuals” (99)
      1. Duration becomes life (élan vital) when it appears in the movement of differentiating matter
        1. duration is simple virtuality that becomes actual/alive by way of self-differentiation.
      2. The actualization of the virtual through differentiation refutes the reductionist notion that chance variation guides the process
        1. chance variations would only ever remain external and indifferent one to the other
        2.   the process of evolution proceeds rather through internal differentiations, leaping all at once to new planes
      3. Deleuze: “Differentiation is never a negation but a creation; difference is never negative but essentially positive and creative.” (103)
        1. living beings, in relation to matter, appear primarily as the stating of problems
          1. for example: “The construction of an eye is primarily the solution to a problem posed in terms of light.”
          2. sometimes living beings state false problems and lose their way, becoming trapped in a particular level, no longer open to further differentiation (mollusks, insects) (104)
        2. Deleuze: “Life as movement alienates itself in the material form that it creates… every species is thus an arrest of movement.”
    5. Mechanism v. Finalism-both spatialize time, deceiving us into thinking the whole is given (even if only from a God’s eye view)
      1. mechanism- everything is calculable in terms of its state
      2. finalism- everything is calculable in terms of its program
    6. Bergson’s “open” finalism
      1. Creation has a purpose, but it is only discovered in the act (106)
      2. Human being is the purpose of evolution in the sense that in her, the actual becomes adequate to the virtual
        1. Human “brings about in [herself] successively everything that, elsewhere, can only be embodied in different species.”
        2. Human is able to leap beyond her plane (plan) as nature natured in order to reach nature naturing
        3. Deleuze quoting Bergson: “On man’s line of differentiation, the élan vital was able to use matter to create an instrument of freedom, ‘to make a machine which should triumph over mechanism.’” (107)
    7. Instinct v. Intelligence
      1. even though instinct and intelligence diverge as they actualized, each was able to recapture the advantage of the other side
        1. Humans possess virtual instinct in their actual intelligence
          1. This virtual instinct is the “story-telling function” (“the creation of gods,” “invention of religions,” etc.) (108)
          2. this virtual instinct causes human societies to close in on themselves, just like other animal species (109)
          3. How are we able to go beyond our condition? – the interval or hesitation between the instincts of society and the intelligence of the individual ruptures the closed circle, generating an open soul and an open society
            1. intuition appears in this interval as creative emotion
            2. this emotion is different in kind from both intelligent egoism and quasi-instinctive social pressure
            3. this emotion is “like the God in us…making us adequate to the whole movement of creation” (111)
        2. Deleuze: “Great souls do not contemplate, they create.” (112)
          1. “It is the mystic who plays with the whole of creation, who invents an expression of it whose adequacy increases with its dynamism. Servant of an open and finite God, the mystical soul actively plays the whole of the universe, and reproduces the opening of a Whole in which there is nothing to see or to contemplate.”

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Diagramming German Idealism

I’m teaching an online graduate course called Mind and Nature in German Idealism this semester. Below I am sharing several diagrams that I’ve developed to depict Kant’s transcendental method as it evolves through the first three critiques, as well as Fichte’s radicalization of the Kantian project. I hope to continue developing this diagram to elucidate Schelling, Goethe, and Hegel’s approaches, but I’m not entirely sure what that will look like yet!

Consciousness Between Science and Philosophy (response to Steve Ramirez)

Almost three years ago, Steve Ramirez (neuroscience grad student at MIT) and I exchanged a few videos and blog posts about the scientific study of consciousness (see HERE for a run down). Ramirez began and ended our brief electronic debate convinced that I, like most other philosophers he’s encountered, have developed a profound misunderstanding of how science works. In his original post back in 2010, he argued that the tools of neuroscience have become precise enough to explain consciousness without remainder by causally reducing it to intracranial neural states. Two years later, Ramirez published a fine bit of neuroscience in the journal Nature, seemingly making good on his promise. He and his colleagues’ memory re-activation experiment on lab mice has been making its way around the Internet recently and also led to this TEDx talk. It is truly an ingenious experiment that raises all kinds of interesting scientific and ethical questions regarding how such “optogenetic reactivation” technology might be used in the future on human brains (see for example this Scientific American article about the arrival of “memory engineering”).

In their paper, Ramirez et al. don’t comment on the far more difficult because more general project of explaining consciousness itself, but rather focus in on memory, one particular faculty said to be related to consciousness. They claim in their paper to have proven that activation of “specific ensembles of hippocampal neurons that contribute to a memory engram is sufficient for the recall of that memory.”

Given that we know specific memories are often stored holographically (as Karl Lashley famously showed), I can’t find a reason to assume that activation of a specific neural ensemble is even necessary for the recall of a related memory, much less that such activation is sufficient for recall. It doesn’t make sense to me to claim that a memory is simply located in this or that group of neurons when so much research has already corroborated the global distribution of memories throughout the nervous system. That the controlled activation of these neural ensembles in surgically altered lab mice with giant lasers attached to their hippocampuses should seem to cause a reactivation of previously learned behaviors in no way proves or even suggests that the mouse’s experience of said memory is somehow caused by or localized within those particular cells.

Part of it depends what we mean by “recall.” If we define recall behavioristically, as was the case in this study, then sure, I will grant Ramirez et al.’s claim. When they flip the light switch, the mouse freezes (ostensibly because its fear response is being reactivated).

If, however, we approach memory from a phenomenological as well as a neurological point of view (i.e., neurophenomenology), we will not be able to settle for a behaviorist definition of memory recall. A neurophenomenologist would be left wondering what the mouse was experiencing when the light switch was flicked on. Was its recalled memory identical to the original experience? Was it the same in some ways, but different in others? How can we say? Claiming that reactivation of a localized group of neurons is sufficient to recreate the memory said to be somehow caused by or “inscribed” on those neurons begins to seem way more speculative from the neurophenomenological perspective. We simply don’t know what the mouse’s remembered experience is like, and unfortunately we can’t ask it. Whether or not we can or should perform similar experiments on speaking animals capable of describing their experience remains to be seen. I suspect it won’t be too much longer before technology is available that is just as precise but way less invasive than that used in Ramirez’s experiment. Indeed, developing this sort of technology is one of the main goals of Obama’s government funded Brain Initiative.

But I didn’t begin this post to pick at Ramirez et al.’s experiment. It is good science, as they say. I think they’ve developed an amazing research technique that will prove to have many applications in the future (medical, commercial, political, military, etc., applications). (I can only hope these future technological applications enhance rather than undermine the spiritual freedom, aesthetic intensity, and moral depth of human existence. Based on prior technological augmentations of human cognition, I can’t say I’m all that optimistic. I am open to being surprised. Life always finds a way.)

I am writing this post not to critique his science, but to redirect his wayward philosophical interpretations of that science. In a recent post on his blog titled “Conquering All Mysteries,” Ramirez writes:

The starry heavens above and the moral law within — these were the two things that Immanuel Kant claimed were immune to scientific investigation. Equally untouchable was the vague abstraction known as consciousness. That was in the 1700s… [Nowadays] consciousness can be explained solely in terms of orderly neural activity and is fully measurable; and, morality is and ought to be understood in light of the brain states of conscious creatures. We can — and do – have a neuroscience of both, because we’re not in the 1700s anymore.

My almost instinctual response to any scientist’s aggressive attempt to explain away consciousness by causally reducing it to neurophysiological mechanisms in the skull is to fall back upon transcendental philosophy. Transcendental philosophy is said to have begun with Kant’s critiques (of pure reason, practical reason, and judgment), all published in the last decades of the 18th century. Kant’s philosophical discovery (or invention?) of the transcendental method has made him the modern equivalent of Aristotle (who for 1500 years Islamic and Western scholars simply referred to as “the Philosopher”). But unlike with Aristotle, whose metaphysical decrees were swallowed almost without chewing by medieval European thinkers, Kant’s work repeatedly mutated as it was chewed over, swallowed, digested, and improved upon by the best scientific minds of his era. Fichte, Schelling, and Hegel (and Husserl in the 20th ce.) vastly expanded the reach of transcendental philosophy. Where Kant believed he had been forced “to limit knowledge in order to make room for faith,” his three main German predecessors, each in their own way, broke open all dogmatic limits to scientific knowledge–not only to knowledge of nature, but also to knowledge of God (because as Spinoza taught us, God is Nature).

Kant didn’t exactly claim that the natural world and human consciousness were “immune to scientific investigation.” Rather, he tried to uncover the a priori conceptual and perceptual conditions under which any science of nature–whether cosmic or human nature–must necessary proceed in order to remain scientific. Kant was in a sense trying to place limits on positive science (whether it purported to produce knowledge of the cosmos, the soul, or the divine), but he was also trying to provide a firm foundation for the possibility of scientific investigation of the natural world (the world that appears to our senses and conforms to our logic). I don’t count myself as a transcendental philosopher when in conversation with other philosophers (see HERE for example), but when confronted by anti-philosophical scientific materialists, I can’t help but invoke the transcendental position. If subjective consciousness is the condition for the possibility of the experience and cognition of external objects (as transcendentalists argue), then an explanation in terms of those objects, no matter how sophisticated or complexly arrayed they may be, will always fail to explain said consciousness. What so many scientific materialists seem to neglect is that a reduction of human consciousness to the deterministic playing out of neurophysiological mechanisms is also a reduction of the scientific enterprise to a talking primate’s delusion of grandeur. If consciousness (and with it, rigorous logic and honest empiricism) is just an empty word, just a culturally acquired illusion with no causal or physical role to play, then we have no reason to take science–one of human consciousness’ greatest achievements (right up there with art, religion, and morality)–seriously. Neuroscientific reductionism (usually unknowingly) undermines its own philosophical conditions of possibility. As Hegel argued, it treats spirit as though it were a bone.

Ramirez’s approach to the brain remains at the level of what Owen Barfield called “dashboard knowledge.” Such knowledge gives us the ability to manipulate and control the brain from the outside, but tells us very little about how the brain is related to the consciousness we experience directly “in here.” For the latter, we need something like phenomenology or contemplative practice (or both, as Evan Thompson argues). Any hope we have of explaining experience (whatever that might mean…) is going to have to emerge as much from a transformation within experience (i.e., through a new first person expression of subjectivity) as from outside it by way of a new third person description of or technological intervention upon the behavior of the objective brain and body.

Ramirez claims that his hypothesis regarding the neural causes of consciousness is falsifiable. I fail to see how this is the case. He isn’t researching the brain to see if it causes consciousness. That the brain causes consciousness is a presupposition of his neuroscientific research method. If we grant that there is some kind of correlation between conscious experience and neural processes (which I am perfectly willing to do), he can’t help but confirm his hypothesis with every experiment. Ramirez’s hypothesis is blind to the difference between mind-brain correlation and brain-mind causation (as I argued in my response to him three years ago). It is no surprise that neuroscientists operating from within such a reductionistic paradigm can only confirm their own initial hypothesis. Brain-mind reductionism is more a metaphysical position than a falsifiable scientific hypothesis. Its faults and merits would be better considered in the court of philosophy. The situation today is no different than it was for Kant more than 200 years ago. There were reductionistic neurophysiologists then, too. His transcendental arguments still apply, for those who care to understand them.

Ramirez responds to the claim of a philosopher in this MIT neuroscience magazine (see p. 23) that scientific study of the brain has only shown and could only ever show mind-brain correlation rather than brain-mind causation. According to Ramirez, we philosophers “deeply misunderstand what correlation and causation really mean.” But his rebuttal entirely misses the point both the author of the magazine piece and myself are trying to make, which is not at all concerned with whether physical manipulations of the brain (using laser beams or pharmaceuticals, etc.) can alter consciousness. Obviously they can. The point is that, no matter how proficient we are at altering consciousness by manipulating the brain (i.e., “dashboard knowledge”), this tells us nothing about the causal relationship between physical brain states and subjective experience, nor does it tell us anything about the ontology of the latter. We know they must be somehow related, yes. But how? If Ramirez or any other neuroscientific reductionist has a theory for how the grey matter in the skull could generate mental experience, I’m all ears. Thus far, I’ve yet to hear of such a theory. What I hear are aggressively asserted unfalsifiable metaphysical claims masquerading as science, claims that can only be properly adjudicated philosophically.

In philosophy, there are no final solutions. No philosopher’s judgment ever goes unchallenged by another’s. Every genuine philosophical problem is therefore an infinite task. I approach the hard problem of consciousness as precisely such an infinite task. If there is an explanation for experience, it better include an injunction for erasing experience, a sort of Zen koan or psychedelic trip that opens me to the emptiness that is supposed to reside inside my “no-mind.”

Here is my original video response to Steve Ramirez three years ago:

Here are some of my reflections from several years ago on materialism: