Nonduality and the Oneness of Being

Sunday, June 6, 2021

What Is It

Some branches of Hindu philosophy propose that reality is nondual in nature. Such schools of thought—called advaita schools, from a Sanskrit word meaning “not two”—see the material world either as an aspect of ultimate reality (“Brahman”) or as a mere illusion. So how do we make sense of the appearance of variety in a metaphysics of oneness? Is there room for individual selves within advaita philosophy? What can be known? And what possible sources of knowledge are there in a nondual epistemology? Josh and Ray become one with Elisa Freschi from the University of Toronto, author of Duty, Language, and Exegesis in Prābhākara Mīmāṃsā.

Comments (32)


Harold G. Neuman's picture

Harold G. Neuman

Thursday, April 29, 2021 -- 6:55 AM

There appears to be a

There appears to be a connundrum nestled away in this problem. Illusion is slippery. As is Truth. Religious doctrines are diverse and anyone who believes there is but one true way is choosing a preference over all the other possible ways, seems to me. A successful actress who survived a devastating illness is a Buddhist. She presumably chose that discipline because it helps her focus on what matters in her life. The practice of meditation also helps her find purpose and serenity. Not a bad bargain. She is doing the best she can with what she has and knows. I have said there is usefulness in such things. But, no one need take my word for that. MJA knows. We do what works for us.

Harold G. Neuman's picture

Harold G. Neuman

Friday, April 30, 2021 -- 2:18 PM

I finally got to read some of

I finally got to read some of the author's remarks on his book: Is Consciousness Everywhere? It is out of MIT Press and the writer's name is Koch. The subject of the book bears at least a tangential relationship to the subject(s) of this post, seems to me. In an email to the MIT folks,I said I did not think the answer was yes, citing efforts to 'explain' consciousness ( Dennett and Combs), and a notion from Gerald Edelman, positing what he called primary consciousness vs higher-order consciousness. I also took issue with whether consciousness is everywhere. I just don't think so. Just don't see it, you see. Let's take a practical matter stance: the viral pandemic we are trying to dig ourselves out of.. would anyone sincerely suggest that Covid is conscious? How about chicken pox? Come on now.
Metaphysics has a place. Some things discussed by Jung and,Sheldrake were fantastical---until one lived through them and wondered: how the heck did/does that/those things happen? Well. They do I am not into miracles. Jung's notion of synchronicity is now believable to me, inasmuch as I have experienced it. Sheldrake wrote of pets who 'know' when their masters are coming home. Yeah, they do. But that is nothing more than primary consciousness. Conditioning.
Experience.
Does a microbe or a virus have where-with-all to add two and two? No. Not consciously. Not at all.
Remember: beliefs are shady. Dewey said so. If, and only if, I can get it through my library, I may read the book. I'm just curious, as when reading Jung and Sheldrake. Maybe, I'll learn something...or learn there was nothing to learn. We need to make mistakes. Dennett said so all good..

Harold G. Neuman's picture

Harold G. Neuman

Friday, April 30, 2021 -- 5:07 PM

And all of the above is, as

And all of the above is, as Cronkite used to say, the way it is.
Good night. And good luck. (that was Murrow...) I miss such wisdom.

Robert Paul's picture

Robert Paul

Friday, May 7, 2021 -- 6:38 AM

I am interested in the

I am interested in the Mahamudra and Dzogchen understanding and experiences of non-duality in relation to the interface of human consciousness and physical reality. I am not interested in who said what when. I am interested in an analysis of what non-duality could possibly mean in the context of knowledge about physical reality and the brain-mind relationship. Knowledge requires evidence and justified reason, hence in this topic physics and neuroscience, informed by phil sci and phil mind. What is mind? How can things non-trivially be one? What does this really mean, without vague handwaving kumbaya unjustifiable statements like 'we are all interconnected', or 'consciousness is everywhere' that become clearly nonsense when terms are defined and justifications are sought ? Where is mind as an outgrowth of the brain-body chemical machine, e.g. GWS, HOT, AST theories that have become prominent in neuroscience, and how does it relate to what we see when we rest in non-duality within meditation?

Tim Smith's picture

Tim Smith

Friday, May 7, 2021 -- 11:04 AM

Robert,

Robert,

Thanks for this comment. This show is in production, soliciting questions, and this might push the conversation more to the neuroscience view.

Friston's PCM and Tononi's IIT are also theories that could benefit from an Advaita Vendanta view.

I have cracked Frischi's book - Duty, Language and Exegesis in Prābhākara Mīmāṃsā, but I am not finding direct help on Advaita philosophy. There is this piece in the glossary defining Antahkarana, which Elisa translates as 'inner organ.'

"The Advaita Vedanta assigns the tasks of perception, cognition, recollection, and others to an entity conceived as the "inner instrument" (antahkarana). [...] the inner instrument includes the mind (manas) manifesting attentivity, the intellect (buddhi) meaning the capacity for determination and ascertainment, and citta, a storehouse of past impressions and memories. The inner instrument is a crucial aspect of the embodied person that coordinates the functions of the senses and the body whilein constant interaction with events within the body and its surroundings. The inner instrument is said to "reach out" to objects in the environment through the senses, and to become trans-formed into their shapes, so to speak. The inner instrument is constantly undergoing modi cations, depending on the objects it reaches out to, and it tries to 'know' them by itself being trans-formed into their shapes."

That is a direct quote from Anand C. Paranjpe's book - Self and Identity in Modern Psychology and Indian Thought.

Hindu philosophy has been mining models of the brain for a much longer while than western philosophers (if they ever have.)

If Advaita philosophers incorporate mind/body ideas into their monism – that isn't monism? Regardless it is relatively accurate to many of the developing theories in neuroscience.

The mind/body distinction is dead to me. Mind in any real sense has no meaning as detached from the body. I am interested in brains and bodies. Advaita thought has traction in this context, and I think it is helpful. Hindu philosophy and Indian psychology are a novelty to me, however.

Hopefully PT will integrate your questions into the show. I would very much like Elisa to respond. If she doesn't, she has a very well done blog - https://elisafreschi.com/ and is approachable.

Best

Daniel's picture

Daniel

Saturday, May 8, 2021 -- 4:07 PM

Where does that leave the

Where does that leave the picture/body distinction? If I see your body, does that mean my eyes must belong to it? How is it clear that you've got your own body? When I feel a pain I might say "ouch", which is a description of a state of affairs of the type: "it is raining". But if I make the claim that "my body is in pain", the subject of the sentence becomes an axiomatic assumption for purposes of a causal explanation of how said state of affairs came into existence, based on what we can say we know about the world. Or again, isn't it just an indemonstrable assumption that when, 20 minutes after ordering a pizza at a busy pizzeria, my number is called out and I stand up to pick up the order, that I in fact stand up? Would it make just as much sense if, after deciding to stand up, I remained seated and everyone else stood up instead? How is this last possibility precluded without the arguably indemonstrable and therefore arbitrary claim that "I have a body"?

Harold G. Neuman's picture

Harold G. Neuman

Sunday, May 9, 2021 -- 3:13 PM

Is Consciousness Everywhere?

Is Consciousness Everywhere? Yes and no. It is, I hold, the sum of human cognition. Although it lies in some primary form, within other animal life. Not viruses or bacteria. Anyone theorizing otherwise relies upon some abstract metaphysics ---as, perhaps, there is intelligent life on Mars. There are true paths. There is not only one. My brother and I have discussed consciousness and truth issues. We have similar and differing opinions from an experiential view. Try harder. Think better....best you can, and so on. Picture/body distinction? That is just another way of talking, after the non-duality/oneness of self. Time goes by. Terminology changes to suit convenience; choice and preference(s). The Next Big Thing is always exciting, until someone asks: but what if we look at it THIS way? The beat goes on.

Daniel's picture

Daniel

Sunday, May 9, 2021 -- 6:39 PM

It's another way of talking

It's another way of talking after talk about the mind/body distinction goes away. You're still left with body's distinction from other things, like pictures of bodies. Therefore the switch in terminology can not be merely conventional, as you suggest, but is rather related to the occupation of space: a body in three dimensions, the image of a body in only two. My point is that if you take away the mind and leave the body, you're going to have to get rid of the body too, as indemonstrable and arbitrary. What you're left with is a thought about the body: the picture of it, with some identity-tag reading "mine", "yours", "his", and so on. Because the determination of these is brought about by topical, terrestrial conditions of experience, however, there can be no unconditional ground of why one "identity-tag" should belong to one more than another.

Harold G. Neuman's picture

Harold G. Neuman

Sunday, May 16, 2021 -- 8:58 AM

Philip Goff defends

Philip Goff defends panpsychism against dualism and materialism in his book, Galileo's Error. He also discusses the quantitative and the qualitative, pointing out that philosophy is mostly the latter. Strawson, Koch, Palineau and others are on board, more or less, with the panpsychism train, thus (I guess) Koch's question:: Is Consciousness Everywhere? So, is it? I don't think so. Water,electricity, molecules and quarks are not sentient life forms, of themselves. Most life, as we know it, depends on water and oxygen. I hope that's right anyway. Even with this fact---the fact that water and oxygen are quantitatives, it does not logically follow they are repositories of consciousness. Not in my Universe,. The sum, I'd argue, is greater than its parts. Now, admitted, I don't know what is in the Koch book. Haven't been able to get hold of it. I will read Palineau and Strawson when possible. Still like William James, though.

Daniel's picture

Daniel

Saturday, May 22, 2021 -- 4:50 PM

It should be generally agreed

It should be generally agreed that the quantifiability of something does not for that reason alone entail its predication by consciousness. Why, however, would this be unconditionally precluded if our own individual consciousness by all appearances is itself tied to it: namely, the bio-chemical make-up of the brain and nervous system? If that assemblage of quantifiable matter can be "conscious", whether by identity with it or epiphenomenal upon its activity of material combination and interconnection, by what rule is it precluded to other combinations of matter, such as, for example, rocks, trees, clouds, etc.? As Professor Neuman has thought deeply on this matter, it may be helpful to seek his assistance on formulating such a rule.

Harold G. Neuman's picture

Harold G. Neuman

Sunday, May 23, 2021 -- 1:24 PM

Not sure where this is going,

Not sure where this is going, Daniel. I am not a professor. Your first two sentences are self-negating though words like 'should be generally agreed';; ' predication by consciousness' ' and, 'by all .appearances.' This sounds like the legalese litany I heard for thirty years. Look, if you have a better idea, forward it in unambiguous terms. You have critiqued me. Stand, and deliver. The professor put down was crude.

Daniel's picture

Daniel

Sunday, May 23, 2021 -- 2:54 PM

If consciousness isn't

If consciousness isn't everywhere, as you suggest, where and how do you draw the line between where it is and where it isn't? Isn't pointing to ostensive examples of sentient life just reduplicating the problem is other terms; (to wit: where is consciousness? --where there is sentient life; where is sentient life? --where there can be consciousness)? Admittedly this can be a little tricky, since sometimes it's not entirely clear what we mean by "consciousness". One can speak, for example, of "collective consciousness" where, not tied to a single individual, also can not be tied solely to the bio-chemical make up the brain-matter of single individuals taken as a group. And if that's the case, how is it kept out of inorganic matter? (--Anyone who teaches something I call a professor, maybe a little too formally).

Harold G. Neuman's picture

Harold G. Neuman

Monday, May 24, 2021 -- 3:22 PM

I suppose I was a little

I suppose I was a little harsh. Did not recognize the notions of panpsychism, seeming to be pervasive now. I don't mind it. I just don't think it is right. I do not buy either dualism or materialism. Nor can I accept the metaphysics of the middleground. There is, of course, a lot of philosophical static now. No one is right, nor can we all be wrong. There are other minds---one suggested to me by Mr.Smith..He and I have had our differences. The book is Metazoa. By Godfrey-Smith. His notion IS more of a middleground. And he argues it convincingly. I hope to read the precursor book: Other Minds. I expect that may be more fundamental. But...i don't know. Yet. Oh. Godfrey-Smith is a oceanographer.
He has a prejudice towards aquatic lives. Nothing wrong with that either...
Carry on, Daniel.

Harold G. Neuman's picture

Harold G. Neuman

Friday, June 4, 2021 -- 4:23 PM

Not sure how we can even

Not sure how we can even speculate on a oneness of anything. But, we do. Ah, imagination...
Ah, philosophy...

Tim Smith's picture

Tim Smith

Friday, June 4, 2021 -- 11:01 PM

Anirvachaneey - it is

Anirvachaneey - it is inexpressible. It is also unsatisfying.

Harold G. Neuman's picture

Harold G. Neuman

Tuesday, June 15, 2021 -- 3:25 PM

And so, all of the previous,

And so, all of the previous, withstanding or not, how say ye regarding this pansychism thing? Is there consciousness in rocks,neutrons or atoms? If so, we should give credence to Dennett and his stances? ...Physical, design and intentional? This is not unconscionable. Or, unreasonable. But,...
Now, thinkers are thinking they know what Descartes thought. Moreover, they feel they can accurately assess what he REALLY thought. But that is not right either. The entire notion of panpsychism seems wrong. How many variations of dualism, materialism and physicalism may there be? The variations appear endless. Why, is this? Because there are no limitations on where philosophy may go, what it may say. There are no rules. No limitations. No 'estoppels' of action.

It might be argued that philosophy is harmless. It does no good, but does no harm. That is mistaken.
Words are powerful. Wherever they arise/emerge from. Those who deny they are influenced by philosophy are liars. The most dangerous of all.

Daniel's picture

Daniel

Thursday, June 17, 2021 -- 7:24 PM

Is it possible to approach

Is it possible to approach the question from the other end? I mean, instead of asking "is consciousness everywhere?", could one ask, "is consciousness anywhere"? How is it clear that there is any consciousness at all? Hillary Putnam performs a famous thought experiment where he invites the consideration of being nothing more than a brain in a tank. All the perceptions of the world and everything else in one's life is to be thought of as a mere electrical stimulation communicated through the medium which fills the tank and controlled by a lab technician, while the subject brain has no access to anything outside the tank. Is it possible to perform the same thought experiment without the brain, i.e., as just a tank? The question is to my mind not altogether non-sensical, as specific contents must by definition be distinct from the consciousness which is had of them, and consciousness in the abstract, independent of potential contents, resists sufficient analysis.

Tim Smith's picture

Tim Smith

Sunday, June 20, 2021 -- 9:48 PM

Daniel,

Daniel,

Hmm... I was hoping someone closer to the Advaitin path would respond here. Whether you intended so or not, your thought is Advaitin to the core and helpful in coming to terms with this show. There is no shortage of Hindu gurus online ready to twist an open ear to Hindu ideations. I'm far from that. However, I find your thought of the tank or vat without a resident mind very much in line with the nondual meditation of Brahman.

The vat or tank thought is no experiment, however. Advaitin Hindus and I'd add Western believers of evolution consider the tank as undifferentiated Brahman. That life comes from nothing and returns to nothing goes deep into many philosophical and religious views when you focus on the tank. Your post points toward the key concept of nonduality, as my untrained and non-believing brain understands Advaita Vendanta.

It is curious to consider just how life sparks from a dust cloud around a star without seeing a glimpse of Brahman. I'm wedded to my identity and daily routines far too closely to consider taking this path seriously. But the tank is worthy of thought, has a scientific foundation and deep philosophical roots.

Best,

Tim

Daniel's picture

Daniel

Wednesday, June 23, 2021 -- 5:59 PM

It sounds like you're

It sounds like you're agreeing that such a thought experiment is intelligible and therefore possible. It's a way of saying that just because there's thought going on, you don't always need a brain to be doing it. It should be pointed out however that Putman's point was similar to Descartes' "evil genius" argument deployed in the Meditations, i.e. even if one is able to bring into question everything that can be doubted, it's not possible to doubt that one is doubting; hence I doubt, or "I think", therefore "I am". My point in taking the brain out of the tank is the same as taking the "therefore I am" out of Descartres' claim and leaving only the "I think". His conclusion amounts to a non-sequitur, as does your suggestion that being "untrained" and "non-believing" indicates a defect in the brain.

Tim Smith's picture

Tim Smith

Sunday, June 27, 2021 -- 7:50 PM

Certainly intelligible and

Certainly intelligible and possible. Here, in this show and in Adviatin thought, the I is questioned as opposed to the thinking. There is no difference between my defect and yours. We are all a part of the vat and tank. Existence comes from nothing.

Non-duality could be the state of things. I find it plausible, but not as plausible as the statement my brain is defective. That I take as fact and plunder still.

Daniel's picture

Daniel

Wednesday, June 30, 2021 -- 7:53 PM

Your brain's not defective;

Your brain's not defective; it's your argument. I'm not granted any insight into your brain. What you say on the other hand indicates that from a pedestrian understanding of your subject an inference can be made about an under-trained concentration of living intra-cephalic matter that you for one reason or another have decided is identical with the thinking upon which that understanding is based. My subsequent remark was not intended to constitute an agreement with it. I said rather that the inference is a non-sequitur, Latin for "it doesn't follow". Granted, a good argument doesn't always have to be logically valid, but it doesn't hurt. Parminides also spoke of a non-duality of sorts, and gave several arguments to that effect in the pre-syllogistic period. I was a little surprised that his work didn't come up in the discussion.

Tim Smith's picture

Tim Smith

Thursday, July 1, 2021 -- 12:51 AM

Daniel,

Daniel,

Thanks for this response.

You are confused and confusing at the same time here. I, too, am confused.

Your confusion comes from the concept that my brain is separate from my thought. It is not. You are indeed granted insight into my brain as I am to yours. That is what language does, along with one's behavior and a growing cadre of learnings from physical stimulation. We don't share the latter two, corporal behavior or proximal examinations, but your writing we do.

For someone who says they have no insight into my brain, you seem to take quite a bit of liberty with its workings, thought, and understanding. It's not that complicated.

There is no intra-cephalic matter outside, inside, or beside the brain. My brain says "Hi" in these symbols.

All brains are physical and have some defects—all brains.

Not all arguments have defects, though yours and mine here are two that might. Dualists would separate the mind and the brain. Descartes was one, as was Parmenides concerning mind and body.

Parmenides' monism stems from logic. Zeno followed this logic to a decidedly dead end. These shows are short, and it is probably best Josh and Ray didn't go down that path. It would have left so much more on the table regarding the Advaita view.

The concept of Brahman is profound. Your thought experiment touches on that depth by eliminating the brain from its container. The core belief of the Advaitin school is to eliminate the "I." Does that still allow thought? My brain says, "I don't know."

I will say it more plainly. Your thought experiment has merit. I will qualify that as well. I'm not sure it applies to Hindu Advaita to the point of abstracting thought outside the brain. In the blog discussion – Ramesh has this very insight – pushing back against panpsychism.

Along with insight into my brain, these words also build community. For that, I am grateful. Thanks for reading this far if you did. I read your comments. They confuse me sometimes. I appreciate the get back.

Thanks for the definition of non-sequitur. Did you think I didn't know what it meant? That, too, doesn't seem to follow, but it gives insight and builds some understanding.

Daniel's picture

Daniel

Friday, July 2, 2021 -- 6:28 PM

Aristotle thought that

Aristotle thought that thinking was most associated with the heart. He thought the brain was kind of like a spongy balloon, the main function of which was to release heat from the body when the viscera became too warm. Do you wish to assert that this oversight is due to a malfunction in the brain?

Tim Smith's picture

Tim Smith

Saturday, July 3, 2021 -- 10:36 PM

Hey Daniel,

Hey Daniel,

I don’t understand the treatment of false belief in Advaitin Vedanta. I only skimmed Freschi’s book – it didn’t address Advaita so much. From the outside sources I have read, there is mithya – falsity and Maya – illusion. I don’t understand how that applies to internal states of belief or short forms of thought. Ray asked about this in the intro but never went there with Elisa. I would appreciate input on that.

I would not assert false belief to brain malfunction without first coming to some understanding with or about the person holding that belief. The most common defects of the brain are so common they are considered normal. The brain itself can overcome most faults in real-time or through rest (brahman deep sleep is best), diet, or exercise. A false belief is not a common sign of malfunction. It very well can be in terms of disorders like Depression, OCD, and Frontotemporal Dementia, not to mention good old Senility.

I know Aristotle from his writing, the historical focus which selected his surviving work, and the snippets of history we have passed to us. His father was a physician. He studied medicine before coming to Athens. He is likely to have taken his belief about the heart from his father as his mentors Eudoxus and Plato followed a brain-centered view. Both heart and brain-centered views were standard in his time.

This ancient conflict in view is similar to the modern-day conflict of mind and soul with materialism.

A belief is not like a thought, as it is accepted as probable truth, while thought is a snippet of an idea or form that passes in the brain. Belief is also generally and initially social and outside the brain. For the most part, beliefs are not subject to thought or change without a hard push from somewhere. We all channel our communities of belief. Thinking, however, is exclusive to brains. With beliefs, we have some insight from history. Thoughts need some form of language or shared existence to approach. Either belief or passing thoughts can be false regardless of the state of the brain from which they come.

What survives limits assertions regarding what ancient philosophers thought. Aristotle fled Athens. I see no malfunction there. Socrates is another matter.

Advaitin thought is alive and well and worthy of consideration without calling to Western dualist idioms.

Daniel's picture

Daniel

Wednesday, July 7, 2021 -- 2:03 PM

So by your account a healthy

So by your account a healthy brain can hold a false belief without being damaged. Does that imply that a damaged brain can't hold a true belief without becoming healthy?

Tim Smith's picture

Tim Smith

Thursday, July 8, 2021 -- 3:10 AM

That would be denying the

That would be denying the antecedent.

Daniel's picture

Daniel

Friday, July 9, 2021 -- 8:02 PM

Correct. And by that same

Correct. And by that same token you must be able to recognized a similar move in your position: On the one hand you've got sufficient experience and information to be confident that one's thinking is entirely dependent on, and in a basic sense identical with, physical processes in cerebral contexts; and on the other hand such physical processes are said to generate or at least necessarily accompany the thought processes apprehending this very observation. With the claim "I think, therefore my brain is active", the antecedent is denied by claiming "if my brain is not active, I don't think". Do I have this right?

Tim Smith's picture

Tim Smith

Friday, July 9, 2021 -- 8:38 PM

That would be a denying the

That would be a denying the denial of the antecedent. No Advaitin is doing that, nor am I.

Daniel's picture

Daniel

Saturday, July 10, 2021 -- 6:12 PM

Only with respect to the

Only with respect to the truth value of premise contents, not with respect to the logical validity of the relation of one premise to another. If you're making a claim of identity between mental states (thinking) and brain states (neurological processes), then where does that leave the relation between the bi-valence of truth value of premise contents and the neurological reaction to the stimulus of logical validity-recognition?

Tim Smith's picture

Tim Smith

Saturday, July 10, 2021 -- 10:50 PM

Daniel,

Daniel,

What are you doing?

“There is nothing in philosophy which could not be said in everyday language.” Why do you wrap yourself in words? I can paraphrase your post just so…

“Yeah, technically you are correct, but your argument suggests otherwise. But suppose you are right, what does it matter?”

The answer is, as I said before. I don’t know.

If you want to believe in the mind separate from the brain – do it. There are arguments enough to find and speak plainly. Why do you set traps for others? Seek honestly and collaboratively. Seek simplicity and only add words where needed to build rather than to tear down. No one will think the less of you. Poetry is beautiful, but truth is guileless.

Parmenides lost himself in his logic. Many minds went with him. This whole show is about Brahman. Take a moment to think about that. Add to that Atman. There is room and profundity to be mined there.

You can believe what you want. So can I. Let’s talk philosophy and not sophistry. I don’t think we can think our way out of your tank, as I said before. Your thought experiment has merit. I appreciate your idea and you.

Let’s be done with this. Have the last word if you want.

Pals for life,

Tim

Daniel's picture

Daniel

Monday, July 12, 2021 -- 7:09 PM

--but colleagues for now.

--but colleagues for now. Your post from July third went into quite a bit of detail, which I saw value in parsing out. Especially interesting in my view was your distinction between thoughts and beliefs. Thoughts, by your account, have to have a brain to be performed in. Like employees who can never clock out, thoughts can't be of any service without using the gray matter they've been trained to use. Beliefs, on the other hand, can exist outside of the brain, since a lot of brains are performing them at the same time, ("initially social" -your coinage), and therefore can be conceived extra-cranially, perhaps like soap bubbles or beachballs tossed back and forth at a thought party. Decisive to my mind however was that logical bi-valence by your account applies to both, which resulted in an ambiguity with regards to any purported brain dependency of truth-value. If I understand your view of Advaita philosophy, the brain could disappear and beliefs could still be all over the place, as represented by your term "undifferentiated Brahman" (June 20's post). Does my admittedly rustic paraphrase of your commendably comprehensive analysis fulfill the intended semiological contents of its distributed semantic representation?

Tim Smith's picture

Tim Smith

Thursday, July 15, 2021 -- 10:43 AM

Still, there is confusion.

Still, there is confusion. There is nothing comprehensive about my posts here. Your words are bombastic, not rustic. The relationship between Brahman and Atman is “the” issue in Advaitin Vedanta. When pushed on this, Freschi says it is inexpressible. You do the same saying consciousness in the abstract resists analysis. Consciousness is both expressible and analyzable.

Thought and belief are neither the same nor necessarily bivalent; instead, a decided shade of grey. There are many forms of both thought and belief. There is no coinage of “initially social” to the types of core belief that you allude to in talking of Aristotle. These beliefs come from social interaction and language.

Some forms of belief transcend social interaction, but they are not discussed here concerning the heart or brain. Transcendental beliefs are, however, the forms of belief we discuss concerning the tank without a brain.

I’ve said before, you and I disagree about whether minds exist. Suppose you believe in minds as separate from brains. In that case, you are a dualist and will have difficulty approaching Advaita as I understand it, which, again, is an untrained and an outsider understanding.

There is a path to Advaita through Atman. Your thought experiment is not that path.

Ok, let’s do this.

Without a brain, there are no core beliefs. Core beliefs can exist outside the brain but are resident in other brains or evidenced in symbols taken as signs by different brains. A brain is required to operate at all times. I don’t deny the existence of the mind, and neither does the Advaitin. Mind, to me, is a verb carried out by the embodied brain. So too is thought and belief.

I have only scratched the surface of Hindu thought; it is complicated beyond need, but Advaitin thought is the most accessible of all for its simplicity. The experiment of the tank/vat without a brain is the meditation of undifferentiated Brahman and worthy.

I find it helpful to think of Advaita in this tank without a brain instead of the panpsychism of Christof Koch or Giulio Tononi – which was the thread upon which you offered it from Harold’s post. Not that panpsychism isn’t worthy of experiment. Core belief can’t exist without a brain, however.

I was wrong to call you a friend or “pal.” You are wrong to call me a colleague. We are bloggers. Perhaps, therefore we are (here at least.) Hopefully, this puts a stake in this thread.

The Ancient Greeks did not often if ever, think of balloons, btw. Bladders, perhaps, but not balloons. They did have sponges galore. The head does moderate heat, after all. Bubbles are an inferior model for thought. A bubble for a fish and a child are two different metaphors in life and different physical phenomena altogether. Words. If we want to approach the tank, let’s come to terms and choose our words and models without confusion, confound, or bombast.