(Permalink)(Split from chapter 15 in version 1)
(Permalink) This lengthy sub chapter was added later into the discussion: for a better understanding of this chapter, a «concrete» comparison of the three domains, physics, mathematics and consciousness, will allow to settle our minds, as well on the level of the method as on the level of its validity.
In physics epistemology, one uses an experiment, or an experimental device, assembly of physical elements, in order to provoke the considered phenomenon, that we shall then observe with the help of an observation instrument. As our consciousness is unable to directly perceive a physical phenomenon, the whole experiment will forcibly include one of our sensory organs. (The direct observation of a physical phenomenon by the consciousness is an extrasensorial perception, but this mean is seldom used in physical science labs today!). In order to make this work, we need an element which is sensitive to the considered phenomenon, called a measure instrument. For instance, for an electrical voltage, we need a physical element sensitive to the electricity phenomenon, like the mobile coil of a galvanometer. Second we need something which translates the phenomenon into something observable with the eye: the galvanometer coil moves a needle in front of numbers written on a dial. But we still need the vision organ, third part of the apparatus, which translates this image into a neural signal. At last, the brain transforms this signal into a consciousness experience: only then we observe. This fourth element seems so obvious that it is always implicit in the classical physics epistemology. But I tell this literally here, in order to carefully show the unity and nuances between the three domains.
In the mathematical epistemology, we find again the same disposition: an experiment (called in this case a demonstration) allows to observe a mathematical phenomenon (for instance a theorem), to put it on stage. But this experiment is now a conceptual system (chapter I-9). This system will comprise an «observation instrument», this meaning some supplementary conceptual elements, in order to reduce the problem to a simple conclusion about our theorem. This is the equivalent of the measure instrument in physics. But now, we do no more need a sensory organ, as our consciousness is able to directly perceive the conceptual systems used into the demonstration. This is a property of consciousness. I should say that, in mathematics, it is our consciousness itself which is our observation instrument, as it needs nothing else. (Material objects such as paper, pencils or computers are only helps to cope with its limited performances, their presence or their absence does not matter into the demonstration.) But we still need the experimental device, which is here a conceptual system (the demonstration).
This practical difference between physics epistemology and mathematics epistemology, will allow us to understand the consciousness epistemology, because it is based on the same theory than the mathematics epistemology.
And, should it be reminded, the mathematic epistemology is recognized.
At last into the epistemology of consciousness that I propose here, we still find the same device than in mathematics, allowing to observe something which is within the consciousness. The only difference is that, instead of limiting us to the observation of a conceptual system, we shall observe any other phenomenon of the consciousness. These phenomena are of the same consciousness nature, at last, than a conceptual system, just of different kinds. The experimental device will thus be adapted to this domain: a consciousness experience, exactly as we used a physics experiment in the domain of physics, of a conceptual system in mathematics. (I propose «experiment-experimenter» in physics, and «experience-experiencer», note 14, for the spiritual domain.) However, as in mathematics, our consciousness is able to directly observe the consciousness phenomena... this is the definition of being conscious!
But, still more than in mathematics were we study conceptual buildings which are objects in our consciousness, we shall observe what happens IN our own consciousness of experiencer, what we live. Our consciousness observes itself. It observes its content, its reactions, its emotions, etc... For instance, I speak in the previous chapter of the «experimental device» of sponsoring an African child (At last if this experiment fails, you will never get as much trouble as with experimental devices with plutonium). This device will produce elements of consciousness (compassion, pride) that we shall try to observe, to check if our theory is right (to help others really produces the expected happiness).
But how to observe these elements? As in physics, with a system sensitive to them. We do not know, in physics, any system sensitive to emotions, as emotions are not one of the four fundamental interactions of physics. We can thus use no material element in this experience. But the consciousness itself is sensitive to emotions, as it is one of the fundamental interactions into this domain. Here is the «galvanometer» sensitive to the emotions that we need. More, as in mathematics, our consciousness is able of directly perceive these elements (suffering, happiness, compassion, hate); there is thus no need of any external observation instrument.
So, in every demonstration of spiritual science, we thus shall try, with the help of an experimental device (consciousness experience in thoroughly specified conditions) to observe the phenomenon of the consciousness, with our own consciousness which is the only and unique adapted observation instrument. It is, in more, sufficient for this purpose. The common language more likely speaks of living the situations, but if we put in there a rational method, it is really scientific observation. (The joke on the use of extrasensorial perception in physics finds here its match: Not astonishing that the physicists are unable to see the consciousness, as to observe the consciousness with a physical apparatus would require a device able of extra-physical interaction! If you know one, I am interested.)
Please note here that we do not make any hypothesis on the nature of consciousness, be it an emanation of the brain or a genuine spiritual entity.
We also note that all the studies on psychology and neurology need to rely, at a moment, on questionnaires on the «subjective» feeling of the attendees. This is an implicit recognition that only the consciousness can evaluate itself, even if we are studying its material support, the brain.
(Permalink) In physics or in mathematics, we get around it by the various experimental methodologies, the screening of publications, etc... In the world of the consciousness, we cannot get around it, and it has still worse effects. It thus requires a work of purification of the consciousness, of calibration of this measuring instrument. Only those who already did this work are really able to master this domain and judge who also accomplished this purification. Here they are the peers of the de peer-referee system. Eh, in physics it is the same, uh? Don't we purify our consciousness of beliefs on alchemy, astrology, divine sky, etc? Don't we purify of reasoning of irrational associations such as refusing a result because a stranger found it? In spiritual science, the purification part is just more stringent, but the knowledge is easier, so a degree in spiritual science is about as difficult as a degree in physical science.
(Permalink) The small subjectivity. The position of the science of the 20th century was that the content of consciousness would be different for each person (subjective), and thus we can obtain no knowledge which would be true for everybody, no general law which would apply to everybody. For instance the experiment of the African child would not work, because people would prefer helping a child of the same country than theirs, of the same religion, of the same haircut, etc. The position of General Epistemology is that, really, such arbitrary and senseless slants pertain only to the psychological bias, of the neurosis kind. At best, some of these preferences would pertain to culture, when they are put in action in a way to avoid creating suffering. However, the general Epistemology is based on the principle that some general laws can be found, such as a scientific ethics without arbitrary «convictions» nor juridical positivism (note 75), once the psychological bias cleared, and the cultural recognized for what it is.
The fundamental subjectivity. A more serious objection is that precisely there would be no such general laws. For instance in the previous example of the African child, we can start from the compassion, and try to show that it is «right». But some could also start from the egocentric affirmation of one's self, and show that a racist attitude would be as much «right». Classical science says that there is no «objective demonstration» of the rightness or falseness of any of these two statements. The mistake here is once again that «objective» has been confused with «material»! There are indeed no material facts demonstrating the rightness or falseness on any of these two statements, nothing such as a Law of God written into the sky. But this in no ways means that there are no consciousness facts forcing us into one of these two choices! General Epistemology precisely states that consciousness, as any other reality, may have its own determinants and constrains, resulting from its appearance, evolution or structure, forcing us into one of the two statements. And these determinants are objective, in the meaning that we cannot change them, just as we cannot create a third solution to the equation x2 = 4. Especially, these determinants do not depend on the person or the culture. We shall study this in details into the chapter V-5 and chapter VI-2 on ethics, and why we have to follow the first choice (altruism).
This situation is not a fundamental obstacle to an epistemology in the spiritual domains. It is even very comparable to the choice which has been made in mathematics with the second axiom of the Set Theory (chapter I-2). In physics, this situation also evokes the phase transitions (chapter IV-9) which took place soon after the Big Bang, and which generated the know physical laws, for instance the electrical field, and especially the numerous free parameters of which no known physical theory can justify their values. These values were (as far as we known) determined arbitrarily when the phase transitions took place, which made of today physics what it is. With my opinion, these three situations (choice of consciousness, choice of the mathematical axioms, choice of the free parameters in physics) each have, in their own domain, the same epistemological and existential significance, except for their date of appearance. Each of the three defines the reality in its domain, in a manner I shall precisely state in chapter III-3 and following. In physics, the choice of the fundamental interactions was irreversibly made 13.7 billions years ago (chapter IV-7). In mathematics, the choice of the second axiom was proposed in the 1960', but nothing forbids to study other choices. In spirituality, the choice is going on, in the frame of the various today social fights. From the simple fact they are human beings, many peoples feel the vocation to make the choice of the human values such as compassion. Some defend this choice weapons in hand, others illustrate it with their behaviour, others pray for it, and this book is an occasion to rationally explain it. And it does not lack relevant arguments, as for the choice which was made for the second axiom of the Sets Theory. We shall study them in chapter V-5 and chapter VI-2 on ethics, and chapter VI-16 on the general orientation of our universe, and in chapter V-6 on God. When this choice will be accomplished for all, it will be a part of the definition of the human consciousness. Exactly in the same way the cosmological phase transition defined the electrical interaction. We shall also see in the third part that this unity between the three fields has a reason, it is not just a parable.
(Permalink) At first, to observe directly is anyway more safe than to observe indirectly, as in physics, and even some scientists wonder if our physical instruments may not all be systematically biased or limited, forbidding us to really understand physics. Then, dreams and beliefs are the instantaneous content of the consciousness. If this content is forcibly subjective, variable and personal, its laws of functioning may be objective, and perhaps even rigorous. I show at the end of chapter V-8 some examples where very «mechanical» laws seem to generate the content of our more ordinary night dreams, and especially of extraordinary experiences such as NDE or sleep paralysis. There is thus really a possibility of an epistemology, as soon as we study these laws. All this is the topic of the fifth part and following.
(Permalink) Except for these remarks, all this thus authorise us to speak of human sensitivity or compassion, or more generally of any method of introspection, as valid observation means of the realities of the consciousness, exactly as a voltmeter or a cyclotron are valid observation means of the realities of physics. Both have, each in their domain, the same epistemological statute, and it is thus this method that we shall use all along this book, especially in chapter V-5 on the meaning of life, in the fifth part on consciousness, in chapter VI-2 on ethics, in the sixth part on society life, and in the seventh part on unexplained psychical phenomena.
In more familiar words, and with the necessary cautions, this gives a full validity to what some call the logic of the heart or the human sensitivity, as fully valid means to understand our lives and to take decisions in family, in group, in politics or in economy, all subjects that we shall explore in this way in the fifth part and following. From there the enormous importance that I give to the General Epistemology, as a mean to understand our lives and of drastically annihilating all the fascist, «liberal» or anti-life ideologies, exactly as the new born science get us rid off all the arbitrary beliefs on the structure of the universe. It is indeed very simple to understand: we cannot use any material determinism (power, technical urge or «economic necessity») to know what is relevant into the domain of the consciousness, no more than we can use our human sensitivity or our poetical sensitivity to understand what happens into a steam engine or a computer!
However an indispensable condition is to really get free of the psychological bias, otherwise we shall inevitably fall into populism and phoney medication (An alas common issue in alternative medicines and New Age).
Anyway this is a complete refutation of the huge mistakes committed bu some who claim to be science studying consciousness:
-That it would be impossible to observe the consciousness itself (psychometric, behaviourism) from lack of material means to observe it. It is as if we would say that it would be impossible to make physic, from lack of extrasensorial observation mean to see what happen into a cyclotron! See chapter II-6, chapter II-7 and chapter II-8.
-That it would be impossible to base any morals, ethics or significance of life, from lack of means to give them a physical basis! If those who think like this were logical, they should first close their political parties, their banks and their advertising harassment agencies, which purpose is also not really physically defined...
If I think to have brought it a good foundation, I cannot claim to build completely alone a General Epistemology which will undoubtedly be more complex than the old one, which already request to read several books to be entirely understood. But what we said here only has to be added to what is already known in physics, without contradicting it: General epistemology = traditional physical Epistemology (physical proof) + Mathematics (logical proof) + spiritual Epistemology (spiritual proof)!
Others will study it, this spiritual epistemology, others undoubtedly already study it... We can already note that David Chalmers, in his works on the nature of consciousness (See part five), discussed the validity of his hypothesis from the point of view of epistemology, in a manner similar to mine. («Scientific American», February 1996)
General Epistemology is even not a novelty: since centuries, many philosophers and spiritualists have similar words. The only novelty it to make a complete method coordinated with physics and mathematics.
The most accomplished case is that of the Buddhist epistemology, which much resembles what I just described. It appeared towards the 2nd century in India, then safeguarded into Tibet in the 12th century until the invasion of the 20th Century. It also speaks of reproducing inner experiences, after complying with certain conditions, or to be based on the observation (always interior) while avoiding a priori or building dogmatic systems, while eliminating mental ignorance and mind disturbances. The institutions (great monastic universities) and the peers referee function in a rigorous way, thanks in particular to the transmission system from Master to disciple in uninterrupted lineages (peers recognition). The Master (Guru, note 4) represents for the disciple the ideal of control and knowledge to be reached; the disciple is authorised to teach in his turn only if the Master recognises that he gained enough control over his psychological bias and carried out the mind transformations required to effectively understand the teaching. Tibetans have had this toy for eight centuries, with universities and spiritual research centres which worked without rest with enormous subsidies while mobilising up to five percent of the population... They may have found many things, in all this time! For sure, the contribution of this small people to the world civilisation will not be unnoticed. (It is remarkable that these two peoples, apparently so distant, at the origin of the material and spiritual epistemologies, respectively the Greeks and the Hindis, have common Aryan origins... and in more, that they interacted again into the Greco-Buddhist culture!)
We shall see samples of buddhist epistemological results all along this book, where I shall often confront my own findings with the findings of these pioneers.
General Epistemology will undoubtedly require more rigour than traditional epistemology. The elimination of frauds and errors will be more difficult there, though always possible. Just that psychological methods will be required, in order to detect prejudices which cause errors in the experiments.
However we shall encounter in chapter V-7 a case where the very notion of science truth is undefined, and thus escapes to any epistemology, when important aspects of reality depend on a paradox.
The notion of truth also reaches its limits into spiritual worlds that our will and our action are able to modify: the very concepts of reality and objectivity become difficult to define. Science must here left room for something else, more like art, or a dream play.
(Permalink) In this chapter, we replaced the concept of material reality in its place, in its park, with some hay, so that it left room for other realities quite as much interesting, spiritual, ethical... on an equal to equal basis. Everyone will feel an hurrying desire to explore these new realities. But what we said still suffers from a criticism: And if we did nothing but give a look of scientific knowledge to what we quite simply created in our heads, and which will exist only as conventions or dreams? Is consciousness an autonomous non-physical entity, or is it reducible to only the working of the brain? It will certainly not be easy to convince everyone of the reality of these other fields as long as matter seems the very base of any experience, even of consciousness. So, to this concept of absolute material reality, in the third part on metaphysics, we shall straightforwardly break its neck.
But every one in its turn, we shall first, as soon as chapter II-6, make their fate to various materialist and scientistic ideologies, as well as to some New Age styled opposite courses, no more worthy.
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