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discursive moments

  minding mind
gary e. davis
January 26, 2019
If one cares to dwell—if one minds dwelling with mindfulness, i.e., if either one dwells upon anything mindfully or dwells with the notion of mindfulness, then it’s obvious that our living sense of mind is very much about living sense, which—I would argue—is lived as sense of Self (here merging my notion of Self/self difference as one). Yet, Self shows in doing. Self is enactively.

Representation of that is post facto. It’s easy to see that any child feels self presence as doing, not primarily by representing ability to do. In the flow of enaction, “I” is. But saying “I...” is representational; about “me.” As “I,” said (or represented as sayable), there is already self-differentation of being oneself: as being “me.” (The actuality of this I/me difference—being/being—variably through child development, was empirically established decades ago.) In a flow of doing, in attending (caring), Self shows itself. Indeed, overt sense of Self—feeling coherence of oneself, identity, cohering—is a differentiation from simply doing whatever self-attentively (overt sense of “myself” doing). Oneself plays piano fluidly (I don’t); Self plays fluidly (“automaticity,” in psychology of skill). Attempting to represent oneself doing that while doing it can cause fumbling, because being is on its own (congested or inhibited by self-tracking).

Mind as such shows enactively, not primarily representationally. This is why someone else can say of another that what they do is contrary to what they believe they’re doing. Or a psychotherapist distinguishes selfidentical representations (what’s said) from Self shown “unconsciously”; and the other/therapist may mirror the difference at teachable moments (if not letting projective displacement in the transference continue until a better sense of what’s “systematically” concealed is formulated).

This is why a distinction that I’ve made between Self and self is quite simple: Self shows by doing (which can be represented or enframed post facto as being done). Not only does one put forth desired sense of self personally for interpersonal relations, but all in all, Self (through extended time) puts forth selfidentity (or cohering selfness). This putting forth is an enstancing of “self” by Self, just as selfidentity enstances personal presence in interaction with others.

Such Self-differentiating is integral to there being “mind” humanly, i.e., as human intelligence. Ontogeny of differentiability is already well on its way at birth, and the multi-modality of self-differentiating intelligence generates itself at incredible speed during individuation of talented selves.

So, by the time that one wonders what is “mind,” its individuation is so unabout simple mental states which occupy philosophers of mind (actually doing metatheory of mental science). The thinking there (philosophy of mental events) is isomorphic with surmising that comprehension of cellular life informs the emergent nature of complex organismic “flow” (healthy self-efficacy of a living organism).

No only is “mind” a retrojective psychologization of adult selfidentity (as if there’s no Self/self difference). The notion is commonly severed from its ontogeny, as if an atomism of mental states will lead to an assemblage comprehension that skips individuation of intelligence to give researchers a general conceptuality: “mind.”

In fact, the notion of mental states is a retrojective abstraction from the phenomenality of being selfidentical. The dilemmas of “brain-to-mind” relations—which are actually issues of brain-to-mental state relations—pretend that there is no ontogeny between brain and analytically discerned mental state. But innateness is moot. There is no just-the-brain to study. fMRI images are traces of regional mental activity that are far different from mere brain anatomy that’s alive: showing dappled patterns of modular region activations relative to clinical stimulus. We can specify functional differentiation across the brain relative to given, coherent phenomenality of experience, but the prefrontal lobe efficacy (that provides the given phenomenality to apply fMRI to) is long-ago emergent from ontogeny of mentability.

So, call me an ontogenic epiphenomenalist. The epiphenomenality belongs to retrojective interest in genealogical explanation, relative to forward-going desire to explain given phenomena. The epi- is ontogenic.

I’ll return to this domain of difference btween mental states and mind in the section of “discursive moments” on “mental science.” But the difference might be clear enough here to warrant asserting a tropical distinction between what’s mental (retrojectively indicated) and what’s mindal (there being phenomenality). Mentability is not addressed by study of mental events. Yet, the ontogeny of mentability that is lived mindally as phenomenality is purely mindal (as if having no ontogeny), though retrojectively narratable as the ontogenic distance from infant mentability to adult mindality. Yet, the ontogeny of such interest in (thus for) any given life—any inquiring mindality—can only be autobiography: so many days, so many curiosities, so many achievments in individuation, in order to “be here now.”

We learn much from our mental models, of course—our clinical and experimental researches. But we should not overestimate the nature of results found. Self (i.e., Self/self efficacy) forms itself, being selformativity from which emergent coherings of one Self gradually gain temporal stability and clarity (relative to project-ive interest of one’s life and remembrance that serves confidence about telic coheriing of the life).

Self-differentiating mindality emerges from ontogeny. To say that “mind” is a mental organism—a singularity—emergent from brain development (my epiphenomenal condition) is as prospective as retrojective narration of an individuation in psychoanalytical autobiography is singular.

New topic to extend later: Nonconsciousness is not the same as unconsciousness—or rather, non-attentionality is not the same as unattentionality, because the latter (un-) eludes attentionality (conflict displaced, if not repressed), whereas the former (non-) is articulable, given reflective time. (One doesn’t “know” the grammar of one’s “native tongue,” but the formal systemicity of one’s easily demonstrable facility can be taught—though that doesn’t capture creative fluidity!) Pre-attentionality of something is easy: No time at all is needed to bring that to attention. Yet, there is also a-attentionality, which is intrinsically inarticulable: A well-functioning brain area becomes starkly real by its absence: no longer being able to do something that was second nature. (What was “my” facility with algebraic geometry, now gone?) Fluid creativity can be modelled (that’s an industry!), but creative potential fundamentally depends on paradigm-elusive capability to originate.

Isomorphically, there’s cultural and social regions of nonconciousness, aconsciousness, and unconsciousness: “common sense” that never needed critical reflection (yet, can be thematized); bioevolutionarity that looks like some god created everything a few milennia ago (yet, can be studied through reconstructive science), or self-incriminating demonization of other ethnicities that is “natural” (yet, can be diagnosed). Also, there is genius, which is some primordial surprise.

The spirit of the times flows through trees of bricolagic and divergent lives, cultures, and regions, as if some Mind preceded our retrojective imaginability. But it’s merely imaginative genius.

Another topic: To resolve issues of “free will” (a pseudo-dilemma, to my mind, derived from metaphysicalist alienation from onto-theological Self understanding), ask “Who’s in Charge? I know: It’s organized flourishing—but that’s an obscure claim (which I’ll address in due course)—as isomorphically applicable to communities as to individual lives (and families—and organizations). Once upon a time, children, “God” was in charge. But now the leading stories are very elusive.

Then, mindfulness itself: That can be as manifold as the scale of discursive moments in one’s centripetal horizon of interest. What’s to be the cohering of that which can be ventured by one Self? Does the centripetality eminate from the horizon of comprehensibility?

Such a question is vastly constrained by theories of “self,” such as the array of studies in the recent Oxford Handbook of the Self, which I’ll cover eventually. Such studies are important!

But the distance from there to here (The Project) has no bearing on the promise and efficacy of venturing to comprehend comphrehensively (re: conceptual inquiry, conceptual prospecting, etc.). Integral as theorizing “self” can be, the mindfulness of mindality is autonomous of any results about mere “self,” because the potentials of individuation are so highly arrayed that we can only be fair to it all by following the appeal of Its gravity—as if “Mind” deserved a determination relative to some convening of leading inquiry and scientific artistry of Our evolving—as if there can be articulated the Intelligence of Earth: Earthanity Itself now searching the Great Silence for “intelligent” life of Absolute Others, because We are.


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  Be fair. © 2019, gary e. davis