Susan Blackmore -- Neutral Monist or Idealist?

Discussion in 'Consciousness & Science' started by Rory Stevens, Jun 17, 2015.

  1. Rory Stevens

    Rory Stevens New

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2014
    Messages:
    7
    A lot of people automatically assume that Susan Blackmore is a materialist because she attributes NDEs as dying brain phenomenon. Indeed, a surface reading of Dying To Live would seem to confirm that.

    But Blackmore actually identifies as a neutral monist. She doesn't believe that matter or consciousness is primary over the other (although, she does say that consciousness is an illusion).

    But on closer viewing of Dying to Live, particularly in Chapter 7 -- Realer Than Real, she says some interesting things. In this chapter, she examines why the NDEs seem real. In talking about why NDEs seem real, she gets into an interesting discussion on what reality is, and whether there is any reality.

    She goes on to talk about the theories that perhaps the NDEs take place in alternate realities:

    She goes on to talk about the holographic theory that when we die, our consciousness shifts from the ordinary world of appearances to a reality of pure frequencies where time and space have collapsed and locations become irrelevant. She talks about why she doesn't think the theory works and ultimately rejects it.

    Then she talks about about the mystical view and Bohm's theory of an implicate order:

    She goes on to say that Bohm's theory doesn't explain things like telepathy, clairvoyance and psychokenesis. Then she writes:

    Then she goes into more technical things about how we do live in a world constructed by our brains. She gives examples of illusions that we experience in our vision, how our brain takes information through our senses and to create a representation of what the outside world looks like, etc. She also talks about "psychic illusions" caused by random, coincidental events. She spends a long time talking about this.

    Then she goes on to talk about mental models:

    Sounds pretty materialistic, doesn't it? Yet, she's always railed against materialism and idealism because in her view, both imply a kind of dualism. But anyway, she goes on to talk about how the brain determines what mental model are real and what mental models are not real. Now here is where it gets interesting:

    One thing the reader may overlook here is that the brain creating the mental models is itself a mental model, and it is a mental model that the mental model creates mental models! So if reality and NDEs are both mental models, then it doesn't really matter if NDEs are "real" within the context of the mental model of reality.

    Blackmore actually sounds more like an idealist, but a materialist within the idealistic view.

    So, is life, experience, consciousness... is it all just an never ending flow of mental models?
     
    wpb likes this.
  2. E.Flowers

    E.Flowers New

    Joined:
    May 20, 2015
    Messages:
    1,052
    Please don't take this the wrong way... But why exactly should we inquiry any further? She is hardly a notable researcher and is, instead, a media personality more than else. To me, it seems like her flamboyant personality is more notable than the research that she completed (on that same line, I'm sure that the procedural issues in her work have been discussed as well).
     
  3. Rory Stevens

    Rory Stevens New

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2014
    Messages:
    7
    Did I say anything about her research? I was making an observation that her views seem fundamentally idealistic.
     
  4. LoneShaman

    LoneShaman Member

    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2013
    Messages:
    1,430
    Exactly what I was thinking. There are some interesting ideas but maybe she overlooks it? Models are not real in the common way either they are representations. I don't think she deals with the contradiction very well or at all.
    What are the source of the mental nodes? Emptinesss? Formlessness? The void? The infinite? She ends up where all other line of thought leads. A paradox, an infinite regress.

    But yeah definitely some elements beyond materialism, but then I don't see the logic of the conclusions at all, it seems quite particular about certain points of view, some subtle "modeling" of arguments for dismantling purposes.
     
    Sciborg_S_Patel and Rory Stevens like this.
  5. E.Flowers

    E.Flowers New

    Joined:
    May 20, 2015
    Messages:
    1,052
    Well then, why are you so taken by her philosophy or ideology? Is it the self-contraditions that you find appealing? I'm sorry, but I'm not sure why she seems so interesting to some and really want to understand. My comment was more about her entire philosophy revolving around her media presence instead of her old research.
     
    Sciborg_S_Patel, soulatman and tim like this.
  6. LoneShaman

    LoneShaman Member

    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2013
    Messages:
    1,430
    She gives her reality over to a "system" that builds. It describes her, in representation. She gives it power to her perception of free will. I agree there is an illusory concept of the self, it is the ego.

    Yet the ability to build models requires choice contingeny. All of science relies on the ability of the experimenter to make choices. If she gives her illusory control to a system that builds, all of her speculation is a result of the system that builds and not Susan Blackmore.

    She is of course a construction of her experience and her own system within the system that builds. One she has co created as a part of the system. The other I the biological representation is not anything that could be related to the I of the ego. She blurs with ambiguity a bit.

    She is missing some profound features of her own points of view I think. Her conclusions are not warranted or even logical IMO. She also touches on some aspects of incompleteness. We can only know as much about the mind as it assumes to know about itself, anything you can put a circle around and call separate owes its existence to something outside the circle.

    That would be the system that builds. Some people call it God.
     
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2015
  7. E.Flowers

    E.Flowers New

    Joined:
    May 20, 2015
    Messages:
    1,052
    This seems like a very reasonable assessment of the material quoted.
     
  8. tim

    tim New

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2013
    Messages:
    2,396
    I think Rory has put quite a bit of work into that post so I'm not knocking him. However, personally I believe Blackmore just talks rubbish, psychobabble . I didn't like her silly explanations for NDE that pissed off a great many people who'd had these profound experiences.

    And I don't believe we build models, we all either look out of our heads (as a spirit in a body) through our eyes.... onto the world... that is just as it appears ...or our brains (no spirit) are fed true information which is assembled and it's the same for all of us with the difference that we may interpret that information slightly differently depending on what we may notice as being most relevant.

    Maybe I shouldn't have commented I suppose but the woman with the green hair has always annoyed me
     
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2015
    Boo boo and E.Flowers like this.
  9. Rory Stevens

    Rory Stevens New

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2014
    Messages:
    7
    Even before reading Blackmore's book, I suspected that there was no external, objective reality. I go to design school. I learn about colors, visual illusions, blind spots, how the brain processes vision, etc. I can tell you that Blackmore is right on about living in illusion. We do essentially live in a Matrix.

    I waver between idealism and dualism. I think I may be a dualist, but not in the sense that I believe there is a spirit inhabiting the body, piloting the body around. Just a few years ago, there was a girl who could, at will, experience leaving her body. But she knew that was not what was actually happening. Scientists did MRIs on her and saw brain activity associated with that experience. My problem with OBEs is -- where is your X-ray vision or ultraviolet vision or infrared vision or your 360 degree vision? Why does it seem like people with OBEs still seem to experience human limited vision? The self may very well be an illusion, but the question is... WHAT is experiencing that illusion? I think the spirit is more of a vacuum for subjective phenomena. It can never be empty. But it may falsely identify with the experience (analogous to a video game player playing Super Mario Bros. and believing he really is Mario).
     
  10. Mazda

    Mazda New

    Joined:
    Nov 10, 2013
    Messages:
    128
    I've no time for her myself. IMO she has no idea of what she is talking about.
    Sure, she squawks like a parrot for the pseudoskeptik audience, who are taken in by her non sense.

    not that I know what I'm talking about myself, but there you go..
     
    soulatman likes this.
  11. DasMurmeltier

    DasMurmeltier New

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2014
    Messages:
    501
    Interesting thoughts. So our personality is a illusion but something is experiencing this illusion? Is it us? Im not really sure how to articulate that thought, but granted there is something like that spirit that you are talking about - isnt that pretty much something that would be the same as that what we describe as "i"? Personality may or may not be a part of that, but it would still be "me"(me in a context that is not related to personality). Something like that? In some sense it wouldnt be me, but at the same time it would be me. Its the same for your video game example, right? I believe i really am Mario for a certain amount of time, but at some point i stop do that. Now, was i Mario for that period of time?
     
  12. E.Flowers

    E.Flowers New

    Joined:
    May 20, 2015
    Messages:
    1,052
    Why features like "colors I've never seen before" (which, I have always interpreted as them becoming aware of the entire spectrum and then some) and 360° vision are often reported in NDE-related OBEs, but not in "regular" OBEs, is indeed an enigma. Perhaps it is due to the fact that the brain is entirely functional in the latter? I guess the diverse "conciousness field" theories tackle this to an extent, but not entirely, as I am not convinced that it is a field per se. There were telepathy experiments where shielding of all sorts were used to "block" outside signals, but telepathy was reportedly unaffected.
     
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2015
  13. Far.From.Here

    Far.From.Here New

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2015
    Messages:
    932
    Read more "regular" OBE accounts I guess.
     
  14. E.Flowers

    E.Flowers New

    Joined:
    May 20, 2015
    Messages:
    1,052
    Well, "regular" OBEs are generally outside my scope of interest, but the ones that I have read are mostly narrated from what seems like the standard first-person POV. For example, the Tart experiment was more interesting for what she "saw" than its features.
     
  15. Far.From.Here

    Far.From.Here New

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2015
    Messages:
    932
    And yet you don't shy away from categorizing or making generalizations.
     
  16. E.Flowers

    E.Flowers New

    Joined:
    May 20, 2015
    Messages:
    1,052
    Your hostility is ridiculous. I was pointing out what has been noted by reading the scientific literature, excuse me if I don't spend enough time browsing forums for accounts.
     
  17. Far.From.Here

    Far.From.Here New

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2015
    Messages:
    932
    Oh. The scientific literature. Excuse me, proper gentleman. Allow me to bow out.
     
    Bro's Badass Neighbor likes this.
  18. E.Flowers

    E.Flowers New

    Joined:
    May 20, 2015
    Messages:
    1,052
    Oh, don't mind me. Chip chip cheerio.
     
  19. Far.From.Here

    Far.From.Here New

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2015
    Messages:
    932
  20. Pepe Silvia

    Pepe Silvia New

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2014
    Messages:
    159
    Regarding 360 degree vision being reported in OBEs, I have seen a few popular OBErs describe just such a phenomenon occurring during their experiences. The one that immediately comes to mind is William Buhlman, who has mentioned his ability to experience this type of vision a few times in interviews and whatnot.
     
    Bro's Badass Neighbor likes this.

Share This Page