Saturday, 1 August 2015

The Ease Of Dishonesty - How To Look 2015

Where to begin - Part I here
An introduction to dishonesty - here

Let us think about the actions of the body. Do they all just happen of their own accord, or do they require any conscious thought? Perhaps we could try and take conscious control of certain actions. Can you, for example, influence and regulate the rate at which you synthesise ATP from Glycogen, or even metabolise proteins, and produce insulin? 

Can this be done?

If you are reading this and then immediately answer no, then in all likelihood you are being dishonest. Unless you can clearly remember sitting there previously, and trying to manipulate these processes that do not, apparently, come in to consciousness, then you are taking it on faith that this is a true state of affairs without actually testing it. 
This is not honest enquiry, it is simply resting on the assumption that this is a taken for granted matter of fact. 

This is simply dishonesty at work. Welcome to the first pattern of dishonesty that the brain engages in.

1. Resting on prior assumptions without actually testing their validity.

The way that dishonesty comes in to play is that we are merely resting on such assumptions rather than engaging in testing their validity. To equate this to a real world example it is like claiming you know what the contents of a box are without actually opening it and looking inside. 

The tin can may be labelled as crab meat and every tin you have ever seen, you were told had the same contents time and time again. It didn't occur to you that smugglers were putting diamonds in the tins!

Have you ever been so convinced of an assumption that you have made plans only for them to fall apart because your assumption was wrong? Assumptions are useful don't get me wrong, however, we are now in the business of testing them.

Going back to our example, if you cannot think of a specific experience or you have a vague intuition that something 'must' or 'just is' true, then it probably requires that you investigate it. 
What I want you to do now is actually get a feel for this process and look to see if your reasoning was actually true. Can you control the synthesis of glycogen from ATP in your cells or insulin production? Is there any phenomenon that appears to contradict your world view? 

Take 30 seconds or so to actually try this out and for once in your life,  and you will have momentarily engaged in honest looking. 

Actually do this right now...

… ...

There, that wasn't so hard was it? 

This honesty lark is not complicated at all, it is the most simple act of looking for the truth. 

That is all that is required

There is no magical looking or anything esoteric about this at all. It is just making sure that we actually look to see if our assumptions are true. If you can keep this at the forefront of your mind instead of trying to imagine what no self is 'like', or trying to deny the self exists then you will actually be more inclined to look instead of think about it.

Anyway, as you could see during the exercise these kinds of processes happen of their own accord and cannot be manipulated simply by willing them. No phenomenon appears in our awareness to suggest that there is any control of these processes. 
It may seem a little trivial to do this but we have utilised looking at direct experience to see if we can manipulate these processes and we have discovered that the following proposition is necessarily true: That there are certain aspects of physiology that we cannot consciously control. 

We can also logically work on this because we can suggest conditions under which our logic holds. For example, if we were asleep or in a coma it does not require that we were are involved in these processes to make them work. Clearly, it is not necessary that we are conscious of these processes. 
Were it requisite that we consciously had to will these states we would have no explanation for why these processes occur during our sleep or in the event we were comatose for example. 

If we could refute this line of reasoning just once we could discard it, however, we have discovered that consciously willing is neither necessary nor sufficient for causing these processes. Part of doing things in this way is that we don't rest on this as universal truth because it is impossible to prove a negative. 
We also acknowledge that this reasoning is based on other suppositions such as there being a real physical brain that regulates our metabolism, and some 'thing' that is conscious to try and look to see if it can manipulate these brain states. 

We could have worked this out from logic and infer that we don't have the ability to will certain things like this to happen. We do not will ourselves to sneeze for example and we can extend this argument to other physiological processes. 
The point here though is that by extending the same argument we create an assumption that this idea has universal applicability. Whilst in this case, our assumption was true, the point is we actually looked for evidence in direct experience and that is all you ever have to do when you are engaged in this looking.

It is not complicated at all, it is simply looking at the truth of direct experience.

However though, we have to leave open the possibility that we may find sufficient cause through simply willing the action to occur at some point in the future. We might be able to take control of certain processes eventually by training ourselves, for example. It may also be the case that other people might report that they can manipulate these processes. 
You are testing your assumptions and that means that you have to be agnostic about other claims and trust only your own direct experience. It might seem that we are looking for absolute certainty when we are using honesty, however, in light of the lack of evidence in empirical reality, we have to concede there is no evidence to suggest that our willing is a sufficient cause for our metabolic function. 

I am sure there are very few, if any, that would argue against this conclusion but we must leave open the possibility nevertheless. Before we go any further I think it is important to make a clarification on the above paragraph. You will have noticed that I wrote 'It might seem that we are looking for absolute certainty'. In one sense we want to be sure that what we have found is true. However, the truth of the matter is we are actually dealing in uncertainty. This is because we are challenging our preconceived notions and assumptions. 

Once we demonstrate the fallibility of our preconceptions, we actually find we are increasing our uncertainty about the world. 

Where we thought we'd find foundations of certainty, we actually find these notions are quite empty which can be a little disconcerting. In essence, we are highlighting how our belief structures are groundless. These structures become more unstable throughout this investigation, and hence this is directly correlated with the overall sense of uncertainty that we may begin to feel. If anything, where we thought things were black and white we actually find shades of grey.

We should take away the fact that we need to make sure our ideas conform in a one-to-one relationship with reality, and this is done with experiential validity aka looking. We also accept that where we expect to find certainty we actually find uncertainty, simply because we cannot prove the non-existence of things. 
Proclaiming that something does not exist is actually dishonest as it is committing the argumentum ad ignorantiam fallacyAs you go through the process and unravel the fiction, you will start to get leverage on the difference between concepts, and phenomena that have a real existence in real life.

In doing things this way we have to leave open the possibility that an experiential proof that confounds our findings may arise at some time in the future. However, until such time as one presents itself in your direct experience, it is not valid to use possibility as the basis for further reasoning. 
An example of this is time travel. 
Yes, we cannot prove it is definitely impossible in the future as this is committing the argument from ignorance fallacy. However, this is certainly not grounds for us to reason that, therefore, time travel is possible and then rest our entire world view on this assumption, or reason from the possibility.

A more relevant example of this is the self. Without an experientially validated proof of what the self is, it would make sense to suspend any reasoning based on it without having ascertained what it is we are actually reasoning about. Naturally, you should expect that you will be finding uncertainty about the concept of your self during this investigation but this leads us on to our second mechanism of dishonesty.

The Dishonesty of Assumption >


Post a Comment

Popular Posts