Consciousness as a Dynamical System and Being-in-the-world.

I think it is weird to assume that there is a separate “I” who watches its body as it lingers in space. What is the body, and why is it selfless? Why is the “I” separate? That is relying on a traditional model of dualism that I think is unnecessary.

I think that there is a constant interaction going on always and it doesn’t really start or end anywhere. There is a body positioned in space and as it finds itself there through movement of the limbs and movement of the eyes and the world in turn starts to reveal itself to the observer. As we move about, the world shows various faces to us and it always bends and twists in line with the axes of the observer’s body. (Mearlu-Ponty has a fantastic article about perception that I would love to share with you; he talks about how the concept of any object (“house,” for instance) automatically presumes that we are seeing that object from all possible views and this in turn alters how we think we see the world when in reality we are limited to our singular perspective and are only presented with one face of an object at a time.)

So, yes. I think that there is this system matrix interaction process thing (haha) going on and the body is inbedded in the world and thus the two operate like mirrors of one another, symbiotically. The odd thing is that we can observe and adapt constantly to the changes that our body makes to the environment. So I move and I quintessentially change my world as it is presented to me and as I am situated in it. There can be no “neutrality” in this system where I am just merely given or merely having a “pure vision” of the world as it is presented to me because with every act of my will and of my body I am quintessentially changing the constitution of the world as it existed when I began my investigation. The world is literally no longer situated in the same way so I am not even really exploring the same space; I am exploring my new-found exploration of that space…my previous set of conscious activity that led me to the initial exploration is now woven into that space.

I think that there’s something more quintessential here that I am leaving out, though. I mean, it’s not just that we cannot trace a thought into space fully because each moment is new…it’s deeper than that. It has to do with how our bodies are tied to the world.

It is also important to situate consciousness as moving within the system equally in all parts of it, not behind it or beyond it. It seems very easy to fall into this trap where consciousness is somehow creating actions and then staying outside of their realm…and then somehow jumping to realize their effects and self-reflect on what it has generated. This does not make sense. It presumes that consciousness is disembodied and somehow just stilled or paused while the actions are executed. Traditional models of the mind posit things this way — higher order “conscious” processes are what “wills” actions and then the lower-order muscular systems pick up and allow the action to unfold and then the conscious system finds the body in its new position and starts reflecting again to generate new actions. But consciousness isn’t just will or “agent” in this traditional model; consciousness is every part of the process as its essence and at its source. It would be ridiculous to postulate it elsewhere. How can we remove consciousness from the equation? It is not outside of action; it is quintessentially IN action and IN the world.

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