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Old 08-03-2015, 03:57 PM   #1
RonRagusa
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No intention, center drives everything?

Quote:
Cliff Judge wrote:
Lately I have been thinking that intention doesn't exist, so IMO it is probably best to consider the center to be the thing that drives everything.
Please elaborate Cliff. What do you mean by "intention doesn't exist"? And what is it about the center that provides it with the ability to "drive" anything?

Ron

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Old 08-03-2015, 07:21 PM   #2
Janet Rosen
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Re: No intention, center drives everything?

Hmmm....if intention doesn't exist, why do we do ANYthing beyond autonomic activities?

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Old 08-04-2015, 01:32 PM   #3
Cliff Judge
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Re: No intention, center drives everything?

tl;dr I try to keep up with developments in cognitive science, and, mea culpa, I find that they often reinforce my existing beliefs of how to develop high level martial skills.

Basically, 21st century neuroscience is telling us that there is no evidence-based reason to believe that the part of our minds that thinks of itself as "me" is really at the controls. It doesn't make decisions, it does not direct anything.

The evidence, based in controlled experimentation, paints a picture of consciousness as a workspace which other components of the mind - specialists, some of which are holdouts to days before we had warm blood - use to share common information. They filter what they share there, and they don't wait for consciousness's say-so before doing their job. An experiment from a few decades ago that was repeated in the past decade using an fMRI showed that, when a test subject was told to pick up an object in front of them, by the time they "decided" to pick it up, the nerves in their arm were already performing the action.

I know, I know - what the crap am I even saying, how can the seat of the self be a bulletin board? Cliff, when did you move to Colorado and/or Washington State? But there has been a huge amount of research and scientists and philosophers are starting to get the question of what consciousness really is ("the Hard Problem of consciousness") into the right frame.

You are not an incorporeal entity at the controls of your brain and body. You are an ephemeral sensation of limited cooperation between a number of simple, purpose-focused "modules" that are not aware of themselves. Oh! and your sense of continuity from one moment to the next is entirely illusory. You are a different self now than probably just a minute ago.

There are obviously lots of big questions about where morals come from, accountability for one's actions, how choices are made. I think the question of what intention is, or can possibly be, is part of this.

I don't really think intention doesn't exist. But I do think most people automatically assume intention comes from the self, and that to train it, you start from the self and work to get your body to correctly organize itself in order to let it do what it will. And it might be that training this way, if it works for some people, is because, never the less, a completely different process is occurring than what they believe is happening. But I don't think you should go that way if you want a breakthrough.

People make decisions and take actions every day, obviously, but if our selves are simply reflexes that take responsibility for things that have already been set into motion, what can intention possibly be?

Maybe it is actually better to view intention as an aggregate expression of various conscious and unconscious agents? There could be a process of refining it through some type of effort, just as there could be ways for it to "stagnate." And I think this process would not be primarily intellectual.

To Dan's thread about footwork vs bodywork, I think you are postulating unnecessary entities if you say that intention drives center which drives the body. Center drives itself. Or at least, it should. You should be able to make the correct decision and generate the correct technique when you have to, before or without your mind realizing what is happening.

One of my teachers, David A Hall, writes that a lot of the koryu derive from rituals that are meant to grant volition. I have not yet really begun to figure out how the modern idea of no true self, as challenging as it is to a western, Cartesian viewpoint, interacts with esoteric Buddhist views of the self and identity. (It might not come as such a shocker.) But I can tell you that the old koryu schools were very into repetitive, supervised, paired kata practice.

Disclaimers:

- I actually studied AI / Cog Sci / Philosophy of mind in college, but not at the graduate level and I am not a researcher. If there is anybody with actual bona fides around here, feel free to school me.

- These are my own thoughts (whatever that means!) and do not reflect the opinions of anyone else I train with or under. They are a work in progress and I hope they remain in progress until the exact moment when the biological functions that support them cease.

Last edited by Cliff Judge : 08-04-2015 at 01:39 PM.
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Old 08-04-2015, 03:06 PM   #4
RonRagusa
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Re: No intention, center drives everything?

Lots of FFT here Cliff.

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Basically, 21st century neuroscience is telling us that there is no evidence-based reason to believe that the part of our minds that thinks of itself as "me" is really at the controls. It doesn't make decisions, it does not direct anything.
My view of "me" encompasses more than a part of my mind devoted to painting a picture of me as an individual. My "me-ness" is derived from the integration of mind and body such that considering one without the other is meaningless from the standpoint of my individuality. As such, when it comes to decision making, the process involves all of me not just the part of my mind that holds and maintains the picture of me.

So I agree with you that "It [mind] doesn't make decisions, it does not direct anything." insofar as there are other components of me that are involved in the process. This notion is fundamental to the part of Aikido training of aimed at reintegrating mind and body to achieve mind and body coordination.

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Cliff Judge wrote: View Post
An experiment from a few decades ago that was repeated in the past decade using an fMRI showed that, when a test subject was told to pick up an object in front of them, by the time they "decided" to pick it up, the nerves in their arm were already performing the action.
And were the subjects given the option of not picking up the object? Did any of them purposely decide not to obey the command to pick the object up? Not picking the object up would be an example of a non-autonomic based decision that could be more closely attributed to being purely mind based.

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You are not an incorporeal entity at the controls of your brain and body. You are an ephemeral sensation of limited cooperation between a number of simple, purpose-focused "modules" that are not aware of themselves. Oh! and your sense of continuity from one moment to the next is entirely illusory. You are a different self now than probably just a minute ago.
I agree, I'm not in any way incorporeal. I am the result of the synergy of mind/body and am not merely an ephemeral sensation. As to whether or not my various subsystems are self-aware, the question remains unanswered. Perhaps continued training will reveal glimpses of possibility in that area.

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I don't really think intention doesn't exist. But I do think most people automatically assume intention comes from the self, and that to train it, you start from the self and work to get your body to correctly organize itself in order to let it do what it will. And it might be that training this way, if it works for some people, is because, never the less, a completely different process is occurring than what they believe is happening. But I don't think you should go that way if you want a breakthrough.
Again, for me at least, the distinction between self [mind] and body is lost. The illusion of separation is the result of conditioning (parental, societal, educational, peer group, etc.) as we grow. Aikido training is a process of integration that breaks down that conditioning and reveals self as a unified whole of mind and body.

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Cliff Judge wrote: View Post
Maybe it is actually better to view intention as an aggregate expression of various conscious and unconscious agents?
That would be close to my view.

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Cliff Judge wrote: View Post
There could be a process of refining it through some type of effort, just as there could be ways for it to "stagnate." And I think this process would not be primarily intellectual.
Aikido training is just such a process.

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To Dan's thread about footwork vs bodywork, I think you are postulating unnecessary entities if you say that intention drives center which drives the body. Center drives itself. Or at least, it should. You should be able to make the correct decision and generate the correct technique when you have to, before or without your mind realizing what is happening.
Center is composed of three components: a physical component (body), a mental component (mind) and a temporal component (now). The center is manifest when all are aligned, so to speak. The center doesn't drive, it's driven.

Ron

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Old 08-05-2015, 04:46 AM   #5
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Re: No intention, center drives everything?

The issue with referring to these high-level issues of "self" when talking about martial arts is: volitional movement is way downstream of high-level consciousness stuff. Let's say there is no free will. There is still such thing as "volitional movement" even if that is a misnomer. "Intent" as used in martial arts terminology just refers to a part of volitional movement-- a small part that precedes alpha motoneuron activation, and functions to alter force input/output in an observable way. It's downstream of any discussion of self or free will. It's part of the puppet's functionality rather than something to do with the puppet master. I don't know maybe it is beside your point. My point is that it is an obervable aspect of motor behavior that we can use just as much as we can learn to ride a bike or wiggle the ears.

BTW, I agree that the current research is consistent with free will being an illusion. Fun idea but it is far from settled. My point is that it doesn't matter, because the fact is, we can pick up a coffee cup, open a door, throw a punch, etc, and intent is a part of those observable behaviors.

ps I have similar interests as you I guess. Based on my reading, I think the older conception of self in Buddhism (if you take Therevada as being representative of a closer to "original" Buddhist POV) is something metaphysical that is upstream of all aspects of mind anyway-- consider that one of the beings you can be reincarnated as is a being with no mind, just body. It's one of the creatures in a higher realm than our world. It can live and die and produce effects in the world, thus can accumulate karma. But has no volition at all! That supposedly can be one of the past or future lives of any of us, but the "self" is something that is equally at home in there, or in our body, or in an ant's! Wacky stuff.
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Old 08-05-2015, 11:05 AM   #6
Cliff Judge
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Re: No intention, center drives everything?

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Jonathan Wong wrote: View Post
The issue with referring to these high-level issues of "self" when talking about martial arts is: volitional movement is way downstream of high-level consciousness stuff. Let's say there is no free will. There is still such thing as "volitional movement" even if that is a misnomer. "Intent" as used in martial arts terminology just refers to a part of volitional movement-- a small part that precedes alpha motoneuron activation, and functions to alter force input/output in an observable way. It's downstream of any discussion of self or free will. It's part of the puppet's functionality rather than something to do with the puppet master. I don't know maybe it is beside your point. My point is that it is an obervable aspect of motor behavior that we can use just as much as we can learn to ride a bike or wiggle the ears.

BTW, I agree that the current research is consistent with free will being an illusion. Fun idea but it is far from settled. My point is that it doesn't matter, because the fact is, we can pick up a coffee cup, open a door, throw a punch, etc, and intent is a part of those observable behaviors.

ps I have similar interests as you I guess. Based on my reading, I think the older conception of self in Buddhism (if you take Therevada as being representative of a closer to "original" Buddhist POV) is something metaphysical that is upstream of all aspects of mind anyway-- consider that one of the beings you can be reincarnated as is a being with no mind, just body. It's one of the creatures in a higher realm than our world. It can live and die and produce effects in the world, thus can accumulate karma. But has no volition at all! That supposedly can be one of the past or future lives of any of us, but the "self" is something that is equally at home in there, or in our body, or in an ant's! Wacky stuff.
Thanks for commenting, particularly on the Theraveda concept.

I think, based on conversations I have had with people who are into internal training, that people are actually trying to bring their own training "upstream" quite a bit....to where they believe their thoughts and sense of self come from. I think it might be better to consider the source of intent to be somewhere outside of what you regard as your self.

No idea how or if that would matter, just a thought.

But fwiw...the external, supervised, kata-based training I am always on about is definitely based on observation of and attempt to modify behavior.

P.S. Ron, I thought I replied to you yesterday, my post was lost. I wanted to point out that it look like you have a very dualistic mind/body conception of yourself - as most people do I think, and it certainly serves us well - and I just wanted to point out that what you perceive as a unity of body and mind, might actually be better described as a state where the body is unified, and the mind is out of the way.

I wrote a better paragraph than this about how whenever I read accounts from soldiers or athletes of being a true state of dynamic flow, they seem to talk about time slowing down, feeling calm, and sort of being detached, watching themselves perform the correct action spontaneously. I think, rather than this being a state where mind and body are perfectly unified and coordinated, this is a state where the parts of the mind that would otherwise use consciousness as a forum to decide what to do are instead able to function by themselves. Thus the sense of calm and detatchment. If this were a state where the mind were doing things, I would expect more of a sensation or awareness of the processing.
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Old 08-05-2015, 12:48 PM   #7
Erick Mead
 
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Re: No intention, center drives everything?

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Thanks for commenting, particularly on the Theraveda concept.

I think, based on conversations I have had with people who are into internal training, that people are actually trying to bring their own training "upstream" quite a bit....to where they believe their thoughts and sense of self come from. I think it might be better to consider the source of intent to be somewhere outside of what you regard as your self.

No idea how or if that would matter, just a thought.

I wrote a better paragraph than this about how whenever I read accounts from soldiers or athletes of being a true state of dynamic flow, they seem to talk about time slowing down, feeling calm, and sort of being detached, watching themselves perform the correct action spontaneously.
I was not going to add my thoughts but this prompted me. I leave aside the hints of NLP in some of the 'intention' slash 'internal' discussions and the points made from Buddhist thought, which is interesting and likely applicable -- but not very accessible to most.

I find Rene Girard's observations most helpful regarding the nature of mimesis in learning and in framing human conflict, especially as this pertains to reflexive actions and mirror neurons. The chief question being, in this context anyway, "Where does 'intention' come from?"

If Girard is correct, desire, learning and conflict are framed by the triangular mimetic mechanism he discovered and described. Human desire is unspecified until a model for desire is perceived to imitate. This leads to learning from imitation of the model. It leads to rivalry with the model over some now-common object or circumstance of desire. It leads to conflict as they compete over their now mirrored and thus mutually reinforcing and yet conflicting desires. This thesis now appears to have support for a mechanism of its operation in the since-discovered mirror neurons.

Mirror neurons function at a level between the motor cortex inhibition circuits and the motor action circuits. In voluntary intentional activity, the mind premises the action to be performed with the same motor circuits that will drive the action, but initially inhibited from starting the action potential, until the "decision" to act (release of the inhibitory pathway) is made.

In a mirrored state, the inhibition delay can be 'turned off' and form a direct link to motor action in the imitation of a mirrored action. Thus, religious liturgical-type rituals with communal patterned behavior, place the practitioners at a remove upstream of their perceived "voluntary" mind, and in some sense transcending the perception of individuality for a larger sense of self. FWIW, the same principle operates and is applied in military mass drill to frame unit cohesion as well as practical proficiency under stress.

Much of what is exploited in Aiki arts relies on a kind of 'precognitive' advantage from non-voluntary mirrored and reflexive movement -- which differs from what we usually conceive of as the way our bodies move. By this I do not mean that we know things before they occur, but rather when the mirrored state operates the mind will find the body moving itself before the mind knows what it is yet doing much less planning it. The nature of this movement is not levered-joint action or push-pull mechanics at all, but the spiral flow mechanics we all should recognize.

The movement and structure in the body are unified into the same patterns. This type of movement can be patterned, and imitated, and thus trained -- but not in the ways we usually think of as the conscious mode of, "If THIS happens you decide to do THAT." The structure of the movements is the internal stress equivalent of the movement, and so the structure and perception of structure may be patterned similarly, and may be seen and imitated in aiki taiso and kokyu tanden ho.

Personally, I think approaching "structure-first" is admirable - the straight climb up the mountain -- but difficult to teach broadly and consistently to those not prepared for the vertical ascent. 'Movement-first' is the switchback trail -- less direct, and in some senses perhaps more confusing, but also less daunting and more accessible for those of average sensibilities.

Toward the end of perhaps taking a few of vertical shortcuts up the switchbacks, I teach my students when engaging their partner to first 'forget' the technique we are training until already into the action, and, initially, and very consciously, try to do nothing more than simply and closely imitating what they see the opponent doing. Only THEN are they to start thinking of the pattern of the technique being trained. This cause them to structure their bodies in an innately imitative way (more usually right) rather than a "planned" (and usually wrong) way.

This approach begins in being shown and imitating the patterns, eventually in perceiving the mirror operating and sensing the same patterns in others, and then allowing the mirror and sensation of patterns in others to operate and concentrate on being "IN" the movement pattern yourself as it does - and thus being to sense and adopt the structural pattern of this intention. This decision to be "IN" the pattern, as near to constantly as possible -- is the mode of training for what I see in those speaking of training 'intention.'

Last edited by Erick Mead : 08-05-2015 at 01:02 PM.

Cordially,

Erick Mead
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Old 08-05-2015, 01:46 PM   #8
RonRagusa
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Re: No intention, center drives everything?

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I wanted to point out that it look like you have a very dualistic mind/body conception of yourself - as most people do I think, and it certainly serves us well - and I just wanted to point out that what you perceive as a unity of body and mind, might actually be better described as a state where the body is unified, and the mind is out of the way.
Actually Cliff, I am of the opinion that mind/body duality is artificially imposed during one's formative years as a result of the conditioning I wrote about in my previous post. And it's necessary from a survival standpoint. We can't always be going around on autopilot; we need to be able to stop and think about stuff before we act (well sometimes anyway). So I wouldn't say that I have a dualistic mind/body conception of myself at all. I often find it convenient to refer to mind and body individually simply because it's easier to express concepts that way.

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... whenever I read accounts from soldiers or athletes of being a true state of dynamic flow, they seem to talk about time slowing down, feeling calm, and sort of being detached, watching themselves perform the correct action spontaneously.
That's the state, coordinated mind/body, no longer mind and body... the result of training. We may be using different metaphors to explain it, but it's the state and the ability to achieve it that's important.

Ron

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Old 08-05-2015, 03:03 PM   #9
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Re: No intention, center drives everything?

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But fwiw...the external, supervised, kata-based training I am always on about is definitely based on observation of and attempt to modify behavior.
Agree, and I would add that even internal training involves "attempt to modify behavior." My idea is that it is observably true that we (and other animals) can and do modify behavior in an adaptive way. That is undeniable. Maybe we are smart, complex automatons searching in a smart, creative way for the most adaptive change, or maybe we have true free will. Either way, we can and do change our behavioral patterns.

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I think, based on conversations I have had with people who are into internal training, that people are actually trying to bring their own training "upstream" quite a bit....to where they believe their thoughts and sense of self come from. I think it might be better to consider the source of intent to be somewhere outside of what you regard as your self.
I guess I think there are 2 things that you are talking about as 1. The high level "self" or decision maker may be illusory. The motor intent is the thing that moves ki. It's not illusory, but who controls it is debatable, in that the nature of "self" is debatable.

So you can train to improve and augment the link between intent and the "who" that makes decisions-- whoever that is.

If it is an intrinsic self, then fine.

But the interesting idea to me is: what if there is no real self? In that situation, our intelligence is just a way to find the best (most adaptive) decisions regarding our behavior, for the sake of our (very long) biological lineage. Thus our minds serve at the behest of the universe's creative tendency. So who is ultimately making the decisions? The universe's urge to create complex things and preserve their existence and propagate it.

So the more you dissolve the sense of self and thought in your behavior, the more purely this "universal mind" would shine through.
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Old 08-06-2015, 08:13 AM   #10
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Re: No intention, center drives everything?

There are a couple of posts going on concurrently that skirt around a couple of things, I figure this thread is as good as the others.

First, intention is a desire or a wish, a focus on something to achieve. I intend to take out the trash. I intend to ask that girl on a date. I intend to buy a pizza for dinner. I am intent upon listening to my audiobook. The act of accomplishing the intention is not required, only the recognition of a desire. Intention is not an act - I can intend to throw my partner but that act will or will not happen. The best intentions, and so forth.

So some of us use the term "intent" to describe the scenario when what I want to do is what I do and this state is created from making my body correct in a variety of ways. In other words the desire to and the act of become one. "Intent" is distinctly different from "intention" not because of Webster's dictionary, but because we need to find language to describe a very specific scenario we are trying to replicate and "intent" kinda fits the bill. If you've ever been part of a "pretend like your drinking a glass of water," or similar exercise, you have been the victim of an exercise trying to unify your intention with your action.

Second, creating the aiki body (connecting our body and generating intent) is incredibly difficult and I find I fail most of the time, especially with movement. When I do succeed it is at a poor level of success. When I read about the ease of "just connecting and moving body/mind" it makes me suspicious that we are not talking about the same experience. It certainly makes me suspicious when we start talking philosophy to excuse behavior. As the joke goes, pacifism is the decision to be OK with a bully talking your lunch money.

The center of your body cannot move - it's a bag of organs floating in liquid wrapped in tissue tied to your spine and ribs. It cannot move anything and it cannot drive anything. It's something we pretend exists so that we can learn to control parts of our body that otherwise we cannot control (or even realize exist). These other parts create shockingly powerful results when used to initiate and motivate our movement. This power gives us the ability to expand what we can do, whenever we want, regardless of certain obstacles.

For example, moving with connection and center gives me the power to punch through a defense, making my desire to punch someone and the reality [that] I punch someone the same. How is this thwarted? If my partner can defend my punch, I cannot fulfill the reality of my intention and I am beaten. If my partner can thwart my free movement, then I am not doing what I am supposed to do.

Why could O Sensei beat everyone? Because he what he wanted and what he did was the same. Victory in a instant and all that.

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Old 08-06-2015, 09:41 AM   #11
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Re: No intention, center drives everything?

Or maybe Jon, you are approaching this in a difficult way. I believe you can't think your way into this. That is where the disconnect happens. It has to come from no mind. It is not that difficult...it just takes a leap of faith. Now that is difficult. To let go I what I thought I knew and fly.

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Old 08-06-2015, 04:29 PM   #12
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Re: No intention, center drives everything?

No mind kinda takes the mind out of mind/body one doesn't it?
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Old 08-06-2015, 06:40 PM   #13
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Re: No intention, center drives everything?

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First, intention is a desire or a wish, a focus on something to achieve. I intend to take out the trash. I intend to ask that girl on a date. I intend to buy a pizza for dinner. I am intent upon listening to my audiobook. The act of accomplishing the intention is not required, only the recognition of a desire. Intention is not an act - I can intend to throw my partner but that act will or will not happen. The best intentions, and so forth.

So some of us use the term "intent" to describe the scenario when what I want to do is what I do and this state is created from making my body correct in a variety of ways.
Well, science is currently saying that desires and wishes for things do not originate in the conscious mind.
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Old 08-21-2015, 03:33 PM   #14
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Re: No intention, center drives everything?

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I think, based on conversations I have had with people who are into internal training, that people are actually trying to bring their own training "upstream" quite a bit....to where they believe their thoughts and sense of self come from. I think it might be better to consider the source of intent to be somewhere outside of what you regard as your self.
Sorta like that old Japanese guy talking about unification with the Universe?

Katherine
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Old 08-26-2015, 09:28 AM   #15
Keith Larman
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Re: No intention, center drives everything?

If you folk really want to head down this rabbit hole, read some Brentano and Husserl. I keep wanting to jump in here, but the starting point would have to be a proper definition of "intention" since the way it's being used here seems to be quite fluid, imprecise and inconsistent. Then my eyes glass over and I remind myself "I did my time, I did my time" (No, wait, that was Heidegger, damnit!) and move on.

Seriously, Husserl is fun.

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Old 08-26-2015, 10:31 AM   #16
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Re: No intention, center drives everything?

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If you folk really want to head down this rabbit hole, read some Brentano and Husserl. I keep wanting to jump in here, but the starting point would have to be a proper definition of "intention" since the way it's being used here seems to be quite fluid, imprecise and inconsistent. Then my eyes glass over and I remind myself "I did my time, I did my time" (No, wait, that was Heidegger, damnit!) and move on.

Seriously, Husserl is fun.
It goes without saying that philosophy has been down this road for as long as....there has been thought...or something that somebody thinks is thought.

But the fact of the matter is, science is now starting to take a serious look at these matters. Hard science, with actual measurements.
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Old 08-26-2015, 10:54 AM   #17
Keith Larman
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Re: No intention, center drives everything?

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It goes without saying that philosophy has been down this road for as long as....there has been thought...or something that somebody thinks is thought.

But the fact of the matter is, science is now starting to take a serious look at these matters. Hard science, with actual measurements.
Yes, and while scientists tend to be very precise about what they're doing and what they're measuring, every participant in this thread appears to have their own understanding of what they mean when they use certain words. It strikes me, as a reader who suffered through years of these conversations myself in philosophy, that no two are using the same meaning in this thread and, to be blunt, I seriously doubt that anyone is using the meaning of the word as scientists might actually use it today. Unless you are in fact a scientist working in that area, of course.

This lack of a concrete definition of terms is something that is a fatal error in both science and philosophy. I'm not saying the scientists don't know what they're saying. I'm saying this thread is all over the map with people who clearly hold everything from subtly different to wildly different understandings. Which makes having discussions about that science rather pointless.

Or we could talk about "quantum consciousness" or other ridiculous pseudo-science concepts and be on about as firm a ground with the actual science.

Assumptions.

But then again I'm a grumpy cynic on some of these issues. That's what I get for being the dude in the family of engineers and scientists who went off the reservation to train in philosophy between physics and math classes...

As I said, carry on. Just tossing up a small flag fwiw. I'm sure many involved find the discussion fruitful -- I'm just not quite so confident. It's probably just me and I'm okay with that.

Back to my cave to stare at the shadows...

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Old 08-26-2015, 10:56 AM   #18
Keith Larman
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Re: No intention, center drives everything?

By the way, just reread this entry. Not bad from what I remember of my hazy understanding of Husserl. That was a struggle back in the day...

http://www.iep.utm.edu/huss-int/

Oh, I should add I'm also not saying Husserl is correct in his approach. The point is that looking over Husserl's account makes it quite obvious very quickly that it is a really complicated issue. And that we use the term rather loosely to cover an awful lot of ideas, feelings, concepts, etc.

Last edited by Keith Larman : 08-26-2015 at 10:59 AM.

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Old 08-26-2015, 03:59 PM   #19
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: No intention, center drives everything?

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Keith Larman wrote: View Post
If you folk really want to head down this rabbit hole, read some Brentano and Husserl. I keep wanting to jump in here, but the starting point would have to be a proper definition of "intention" since the way it's being used here seems to be quite fluid, imprecise and inconsistent. Then my eyes glass over and I remind myself "I did my time, I did my time" (No, wait, that was Heidegger, damnit!) and move on.

Seriously, Husserl is fun.
Hello Keith,

Have you read G E M Anscombe's book on the subject? It was first published in 1957 and is still relevant. I like to lend it to my cognitive linguistics colleagues at university.

Best wishes,

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Old 08-26-2015, 04:17 PM   #20
Cliff Judge
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Re: No intention, center drives everything?

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Peter A Goldsbury wrote: View Post
Hello Keith,

Have you read G E M Anscombe's book on the subject? It was first published in 1957 and is still relevant. I like to lend it to my cognitive linguistics colleagues at university.

Best wishes,
oooh - that's the lady who crushed C.S. Lewis in a debate! My Dad once told me I owed the existence of my beloved _Narnia_ books to her.
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Old 08-26-2015, 05:00 PM   #21
Keith Larman
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Re: No intention, center drives everything?

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Peter A Goldsbury wrote: View Post
Hello Keith,

Have you read G E M Anscombe's book on the subject? It was first published in 1957 and is still relevant. I like to lend it to my cognitive linguistics colleagues at university.

Best wishes,
Well, 30 years ago, but yes. I started reading her books as a result of my interest in Wittgenstein. I must admit I'm much more happy with Wittgenstein and then Austin and Searle, however, when it comes to these topics. I may have to find my old copy of intention by Anscombe, though, now that you mention it, as I don't think I really gave it a proper chance when I read it way back then.

Regardless, IMHO even Anscombe's discussion (as I remember it) only scratches the surface of the myriad of things being talked about in this thread (or are being implied by various posts). There seem to be notes of "intention" as a physiological phenomena ("mental" intent driving subtle physical changes), intent in the sense of a mental state of purpose, intent in the sense of the "meaning" (or future intent?) of the physical action, and so on. And the "scientific approaches" seem to be some special cases of some of those things. Anyway, I do tend to glaze up fairly quickly when the topic comes up as I find that most are speaking right past each other with very different ideas as to the details of what they're discussing. Now that I think about it discussions like these are why I was so attracted to Austin, Peirce and Searle. After a while reading these philosophers it's quite easy to find yourself tossing up your hands and walking out the room muttering "oh, whatever, we'll never get anywhere on this."

Which is how I felt reading some of the posts on this thread.

So, as I said before, carry on. It's all good. And it's got me digging out some old favorites again. I just keep ending up feeling like my ability to understand even common language and hence my reality is diminishing daily. At some point, I'm just going to be a blithering idiot muttering non-sequiturs in the corner (although I'm sure some think I've already attained that level here).

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Old 08-26-2015, 05:01 PM   #22
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: No intention, center drives everything?

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oooh - that's the lady who crushed C.S. Lewis in a debate! My Dad once told me I owed the existence of my beloved _Narnia_ books to her.
Hello Cliff,

Yes, that is the commonly accepted view. Here are some quotes:

"The real significance of this slightly bruising encounter with Anscombe concerns its interpretations for the future development of Lewis's writing projects. Some of Lewis's biographers, primarily A N Wilson, have seen this incident as signalling, perhaps even causing, a major shift in Lewis's outlook. Having been defeated in argument, they contend, Lewis lost confidence in the rational basis of his faith, and abandoned his role as a leading apologist. they claim that his shift to writing fictional works--such as the Chronicles of Narnia--reflects a growing realisation that rational argument cannot support Christian faith. However, the substantial body of written evidence concerning the exchange points to a different conclusion...."

"Narnia was not Lewis's escape from a failed rational apologetic; it was one of several strands to his approach, held together by his celebrated reconciliation of reason and imagination in the Christian vision of reality. Sadly, A N Wilson does not offer any compelling evidence for his suggestion that "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe grew out of Lewis's experience of being stung back into childhood by his defeat at the hands of Elizabeth Anscombe at the Socratic Club, or his amusing, but ultimately unevidenced, suggestion suggestion that Lewis based the White Witch of Narnia on Anscombe. The timing of Lewis's weaving together of the rich imaginative threads of Narnia, like the images in Spencer's Faerie Land, may conceivably owe something to Anscombe--but that is about as far as it goes. Lewis was writing about Narnia before Anscombe's 1948 presentation." (Alister McGrath, C S Lewis: A Life, 2013, Hodder.)

There is much more argument in the chapter from which the quotes were taken: Chapter 10. And whenever I see Tilda Swinton in a film, I will think of Anscombe--and how different they were. I met Anscombe a few times when I was a student in the 1960s.

Anyway, apologies for the thread drift. Nevertheless, Anscombe's book is very much worth reading by anyone concerned with the relation between intention and action.

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Old 09-03-2015, 11:47 PM   #23
Keith Larman
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Re: No intention, center drives everything?

To continue the thread drift a bit, have you seen this book Professor Goldsbury?

Un-Willing by Eva Brann

I just picked it up and it is quite intriguing. More a survey (genealogy?) of the views of will and it's varied meanings (and much of it quite relevant to this discussion here, at least in terms of clarifying terms). Now I have to reread Augustine and Aquinas... Further down the rabbit hole ...

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Old 09-04-2015, 03:34 AM   #24
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Re: No intention, center drives everything?

Yes. She has written other books, on Heraclitus and Homer, and my general reaction to these was mixed. Anscombe was an Aristotelian, as well as being Wittgenstein's translator, and I think this is where one has to start. Alvin Goldman is also someone worth reading. Intention is certainly connected to action, in the sense that actions can be termed intentional or unintentional. They might also be 'centre-driven', whatever this means. This is a metaphor that needs to be unpacked, for its meaning is not intuitively clear.

Sorry for the terse response. My head is full of Buddhism in late-medieval Japan, as I am trying to make substantial progress on TIE 28 before university classes begin.

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Old 09-04-2015, 11:08 AM   #25
Keith Larman
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Re: No intention, center drives everything?

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Peter A Goldsbury wrote: View Post
Yes. She has written other books, on Heraclitus and Homer, and my general reaction to these was mixed. Anscombe was an Aristotelian, as well as being Wittgenstein's translator, and I think this is where one has to start. Alvin Goldman is also someone worth reading. Intention is certainly connected to action, in the sense that actions can be termed intentional or unintentional. They might also be 'centre-driven', whatever this means. This is a metaphor that needs to be unpacked, for its meaning is not intuitively clear.

Sorry for the terse response. My head is full of Buddhism in late-medieval Japan, as I am trying to make substantial progress on TIE 28 before university classes begin.
I would agree having read her book on Heraclitus, but I did enjoy the review of the classical ideas, the origins of our views today. I think the underlying lesson here, at least for this discussion, is that, as you said, there is a lot to be unpacked in the terminology.

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