The Meaning of Life
Lecture 4: Perception and Experience

1. What's in a Thing
2. Perception and Experience
3. Human Understanding
4. Pure Reason

March 9, 2012

The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? When the wicked, even mine enemies and my foes, came upon me to eat up my flesh,they stumbled and fell.

Though an host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear: though war should rise against me, in this will I be confident. One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to enquire in his temple.

For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion: in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me up upon a rock. And now shall mine head be lifted up above mine enemies round about me: therefore will I offer in his tabernacle sacrifices of joy; I will sing, yea, I will sing praises unto the Lord.

Hear, O Lord, when I cry with my voice: have mercy also upon me, and answer me. When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, Lord, will I seek. Hide not thy face far from me; put not thy servant away in anger: thou hast been my help; leave me not, neither forsake me, O God of my salvation.

When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take me up. Teach me thy way, O Lord, and lead me in a plain path, because of mine enemies. Deliver me not over unto the will of mine enemies: for false witnesses are risen up against me, and such as breathe out cruelty. I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.

Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart:wait, I say, on the Lord.

Psalms 27


Namaste and welcome to lecture four, perception and experience. In lecture three we lead towards how we have inclinations towards beleifs. In a way if we look at it we don't really have those beliefs but just different degrees of those beliefs. So we are inclined towards something to a certain degree. And when we are at that certain degree then we tend to jump ahead of ourselves to find some absolute truth, and that is where dogmas comes in and following a certain set of guidelines. What we are doing is asserting God before the self, but we will talk about this in the God lecture. But what it is saying is that this tends to revolve us around some absolute, if you remember Crito in lecture one. And this absolute depending on how we revolve around it will affect whether we suffer or whether we go beyond suffering - whether we truly experience what is. But there is a lot of different things that you have to learn for philosophy is vast and it is a life thing.

In lecture two we were leading towards articulation of the abstract by looking at what is not said as well as what is being said then you can understand where the author is coming from. The way we do this is to learn the author and their train of thought and then we can follow what they are saying. And that way we are getting closest to understanding what it is that they are talking. Through that process we become more profound and to some degree reach a higher truth. Even if we don't say something or we say it, it is an entirely different perspective.

That is the end of the recap and now we are going to begin the lecture on experience and perception which we are going to start out with cognition. Res cogitans is our cognition that receives data from our senses so if I get hurt there is going to be electronic impulses sent to my brain to tell me that I am getting hurt. I get bit by a mosquito or I feel a mosquito on me and I get told "hey I need to do something about my leg" and that is why I am slapping every once in a while because I am getting rid of mosquitos because they are all around.

Our senses, through our vision, we are being told what's in the world. There is a tree here and that tree is within my vicinity. And my senses tell me that and I receive that information and then I can work my way around it and make the necessary improvisation like if I am hurting or if there is a mosquito that I do not want to bite me that is on me.

And this is what we call the external world or in philosophy its the phenomena. The phenomena of the world is everything that is within it. And it is within the space/time continuum, we have time and we have space. And according to Kant, which is one of your readings which we will talk about later, time and space is the only things that are a priori, which means before the fact. So in order for experience to be necessary we have to have time and space available for our understanding of experience. So within space and time we have a continuity which is where this tree remains in this similar form over time and I can know that this tree is the same tree that it was yesterday that it is today and I am in the same area that I was before.

So we have this continuity and this then over time creates memory. And this memory is what our experience is. So this painting that our imagination is making is then creating this memory which results as experience. We then make assertions on things to see if they are right so we will dip our finger in the water to see if it is hot. We will test the world and see how it responds. We will trust ourselves in something but this creates misunderstandings a lot. So if a boy climbs up a tree and there is a poisonous snake right beside him but he has not seen the snake then he misunderstands the situation. And if I am talking to you about perception and experience and you are not understanding and not tracking back when you get lost then you might misunderstand what it is that I am trying to convey.

This causes us to learn or to "understand". As a biproduct of all of this stuff that I am talking about we get consciousness which is like the "froth on the beer" I have heard it called, "the wash of the ocean", also "the haze of the world, the haze of everything, the haze". Neurological impulses. And this is where we come to realism and idealism. This course I am going to ammit is pushing a little bit towards an idealist approach however what you have in idealism is that everything is a product of the "spirit" or "consciousness", so they are saying everything is reduced to the mind. So everything exists as the mind perceives it to exist. So then this is sort of leading away from the existence of material objects because all that exists is the mind. In saying this we also get the realist that come back and say "no, everything is reduced to the physical". Which the "physical" is the brain states in which occur. But then how can you reduce neurological impulses to physical and that is where they try to explain.

This then brings us to an external cause which is talked about by Immanuel Kant and you will be reading this for your reading, and he said that there must be something out there because there is an external cause for me doing the things that I do. So what I do, the situations that I am in and what I choose to do is caused externally. So whether we exist or not, whether things exist or not, or how they exist, we don't really know. But we can make assertions on and understand more but we are still only understanding our perception which is a subjective point of view. This subjective interpretation is really all we are given but we try to make it more. And that is what science does is try and make a subjective interpretation into something much more as a"truth". But they combine subjective interpretations. And it does help us know the world around us because we get a common understanding of the thing outside. But it is still only a painting of what is outside. So science is the artist of the painting of science and its classifications that greatly aid us in our understandings.

Now we get the existentialist which then focus on consciousness; what this consciousness is focused on. So we now know what our consciousness is and how it comes about then we are now in the position to study and analyse where our consciousness is focused. And where this is focused is explored by Heidegger who explores where that essence lies and for him it is in the future. We do things for a result of something else. So we are constantly going beyond what we are to get a better result. We can see this if we go to chop wood, we are chopping wood for the result of that wood that we can then use for fire and heat. And if we are making a barrel, he says, we are focused around making that barrel. And I am focused around making this video and this course (writing this transcript). And I am focused around my studies and continuing to learn the human condition and society and how the human condition can best function in society.

And that is what I am going to continue to do. And how to express this meaning to everybody else. And hopefully we can as a group of human, loving, compassionate, and wonderful creatures that can reach so much if we only put our hearts to it. We can become what we are. We can become the tree from the acorn, and right now our tree is dying. But that was not Heidegger's point. Heidegger's point was that we live for whatever it is that we are attempting to achieve. And this acts in small intervals which we are constantly working to get to. I am trying to get passed this sentence and make sense of what I am saying so my mind is then contemplating the words that I need to make this sentence best understandable. {Just like my mind is attempting to transcribe this section using only basic edits to be clearly understood by the public} Heidegger was German and there is some controversial stuff about him so you might want to read up on him.

French philosopher Sartre... He's lucky enough to have a philosophy chick man, he had a lifetime long relationship with Simone de Beauvoir, and she was brilliant just like him. That relationship gives me inspiration, although I am monogamous, but besides that... I really respect that relation, and I want that. But I am going to go on. Sartre was in a war and he was imprisoned but he was just like a weather guy or something and he got captured. But I do not think it was a hugely strict imprisonment from what I have heard, but it was bad. But he then escaped eventually and then started a revolution in France. He spent a lot of his time in coffee shops, analysing and thinking. He started a trend. People started dressing in black and wearing sunglasses talking about these big life subjects.

He said that our consciousness is focused on nothing. He gives an example scheduling to meet a friend at a coffee shop. We go to the coffee shop and we look around and what we see is nothing. Our consciousness blurs out everything that is not important to what we are focused on and is then directed towards what is not there. So what is not there is the object of our consciousness at all times. So if we are looking for our wallet or writing something or trying to speak {or transcribe} , we are constantly focusing what is not there and trying to put into place something to be there. And then we are on to what is not there again because we are always in this nothingness. Then we get to this essence of the person. If you look around at people and you see the waiter or something, what is the essence of this waiter? We then get to a soul. If we look at a soul, if we just assert a soul, we can see a certain level of direction towards their life towards something that they have chosen to do. So this "essence" or this "soul" is certain persuasion or inclination of this energy in a certain direction of where we are going.

This is just one interpretation of what a soul might be. Then we have the question of the immortal soul. If we remember back to Buddhism then we can find that our suffering comes from clinging and desiring and wanting. And if we think about it, this whole wanting more and more and more causes us suffering, so why would we want more life than we are provided. So this life that we are provided then should be enough for us to be happy and content within what we are. So the whole conception of the immortal soul, for me, is a very interesting subject but ultimately irrelevant as it is not a practical matter because we should not be so desiring that because we should be content and happy and joyful within whatever is because if we remember Tolle, we don't want to suffer. And that clinging and desire for what is practically irrelevant is a poor choice of beliefs because it ultimately causes suffering and we are trying to pry away all of this suffering from our lives. So to be content with what is and hope for the best in what is to come is the method that I have adapted, thus the soul can live in accord with itself.

I wanted to end this lecture with some wisdom that I have found personally and I really want to say that this is a personal thing that my life has been geared towards, and there has been steps all along the way. So I do not want to say that this is right or wrong for anybody. At first in my life I figured out how to dominate the physical. I have did martial arts for a very long time and now that I have reached a certain level of martial arts I now practice myself. I am a pacifist, but if there is something then I do not know, because I live in faith so I am not going to commit myself to pacifism, but I strive to be passive in all scenarios. But I was not always like that and I have gotten in some fights with bullies before because they were bullies and not because they were picking on me. So I dominated my physical and I was able to roll around and I was introduced to nature because a lot of what I have done is Ninjutsu. Once I learned my physical and was able to just do what I wanted with my body, anything you know, I have done rigorous training to make my body do whatever I want it to do.

Then I learned how to dominate the mental. This is when I started studying, and a studied and I studied and I studied, and my choice of books became more and more refined into different philosophical matters and I read in many different formats great amounts. So I dominated my mental. But then, especially after the last two years when I was called (which was basically a result of my divorce). It was the call of Jonah because if you remember in lecture one, Jonah running from his destiny. Because I knew what I had to do but I was not prepared to do it and I was not strong mentally, so I then developed my mental apparatus. And once I got to a certain point with that where it was just developing itself, then I could focus my essence that I had on the spirit, which is the spiritual side, which is my soul: the soul is the spirit. And now I do everything that I can and I focus to get my spirit in alignment with God, which we will talk about that with the God lecture. That way that I become as close to that absolute as possible.

If we look at a metaphorical thought experiment, we are all revolving around the sun. We all see different aspects of that sun, and the sun being the possible absolute, or absolute, or objectivity. But the thing is that all of the planets are different distances from the sun. So we are all revolving around that sun but we can see clearly how other people are closer to that sun than other people that are around. So we get different types of people. And these different degrees are the essence of the soul: where the soul is directed.

The way that I perceive and understand it to be is that I align my spirit with the Divine and then everything else is built upon, and I see this happening. So you start with yourself, from your physical to your mental to your spiritual. When you finish training your physical then you train your mental and let your mental control over your physical and then your spiritual control over your mental and physical, and be able to bypass the spiritual to the physical. This is where you get people who go beyond pain and to the most degree I go beyond pain. I do surgeries on myself, I have fixed my teeth. It was like nine thousand dollars of work and now I probably only need one or two, with plyers and a dental set. One day in my life I would like to get cut and then sew it back up, I am not going to try to do that though. {I screwed that one up} The talented person that can do all three and work on all three at the same time, I commend them, but I had to go through a process.

Now we are going to talk about An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding by David Hume. What we see with Hume is that what we get is sense impressions. We see that when we pick up a cup in a certain manner the cup then follows order to be moulded to what we want to do. Let's do this more scientific: if I spit on the ground, wherever I spit on the ground it is going to be wet. If then I spit on the ground enough times and it is always wet where I spit on the ground then I am going to begin to understand that whenever I spit on the ground it is going to be wet. So we are getting these impressions, like 1, 2, 3, and then we gain understanding from these impressions that are given to us. We can then make experience: this is where empirism comes from which is then developed into science and induction. So they then observe what happens when you do one thing and what is the reaction? So they then observe the reactions, and when you do it so many times then it becomes something that you can call a principle.

This is how our knowledge is built and we make all of these classifications. In saying this we need to think that these are only impressions and that experience itself can not say anything to be true because we do not know the other causes and effects. So if we see that I flick a lighter on and I see the flint spark and then the lighter come on, I know that the flint striking created a spark which then the gas was combined with to make a flame. But we do not know all of the other factors. We have oxygen, the amount of oxygen in the air and there is many many other factors that we can observe and try to learn from what we can experience through our senses, but outside of our senses then we have no idea about because we do not perceive everything. We are only perceiving in certain perspectives.

So those are the ideas and I know that this lecture was probably a difficult one and there is a lot of ideas here and if you struggled with any of them then I really recommend that you go back and review them again because they are very complex subjects and they are not something for us to take lightly. This will have an effect on where we go next with our lecture on existence and knowledge. Whether we do exist or if we do exist then why? We are going to be looking at that. And as a result of what we are given what can we say to know? Can we have any knowledge in anything and this is what we are going to be looking at in the next lecture and we have some more good readings that will be coming from that. So I hope you enjoy those readings and if you need anything just contact me on my website and we can talk anything out. Stay safe.