Nixon, Gregory M. (2010) HOLLOWS of EXPERIENCE. Journal of Consciousness Exploration & Research|, 1 (3). pp. 234-288. ISSN 2153-8212

[thumbnail of Our Source & Destination is found in the Hollows of Experience]
PDF (Our Source & Destination is found in the Hollows of Experience)

Official URL: http://jcer.com/index.php/jcj/index


This essay is divided into two parts, deeply intermingled. Part I examines not only the origin of conscious experience but also how it is possible to ask of our own consciousness how it came to be. Part II examines the origin of experience itself, which soon reveals itself as the ontological question of Being. The chief premise of Part I chapter is that symbolic communion and the categorizations of language have enabled human organisms to distinguish between themselves as actually existing entities and their own immediate experience of themselves and their world. This enables them to reflect upon abstract concepts, including “self,” “experience,” and “world.” Symbolic communication and conceptualization grow out of identification, the act of first observing conscious experiencing and intimating what it is like, mimesis, a gestural proto-language learned through imitation, and reflection, seeing oneself through the eyes of others. The step into actual intentional speech is made through self-assertion, narrative, and intersubjectivity. These three become the spiral of human cultural development that includes not only the adaptive satisfaction of our biological needs, but also the creativity of thought. With the mental-conceptual separation of subject and object — of self and world — the human ability to witness the universe (and each other) is the ground of our genuinely human quality. Consciousness gives human life its distinctively human reality. It is, therefore, one and the same ability that enables us to shape planet Earth by means of conceptual representations (rather than by means of our hands alone) while also awakening us to the significance of being.

Looking beyond human self-consciousness to investigate the origin and nature of awareness itself in Part 2, reductive objective materialism is found to be of little use. Direct experience also falls short in that, in order to be transformed into objective knowledge about itself, it must always be interpreted through and limited by the symbolic contexts of culture and the idiosyncratic conceptualizations of the individual. Awareness in itself must thus be considered ultimately unexplainable, but this may more indicate its inexpressible transcendence of all symbolic qualifiers than its nonexistence. It is suggested that awareness is not “self-aware” (as in deity) but is instead unknowing yet identical with the only true universal: the impetus of creative unfolding. Our human knowledge, as an expression of this unfolding, is seen to emerge from our conscious experiencing and, in turn, to have the power — and enormous responsibility — of directing that experience. Our underlying symbolic worldviews are found to be autopoietic: They limit or open our conscious experience, which, in turn, confirms those worldview expectations. As we explore a future of unforeseeable technological breakthroughs on an ailing planet who patiently copes with our “success,” truly vital decisions about the nature, meaning, and future of conscious experience will have to be made. Can we transcend our culturally conditioned selves?

Item Type:Article
Uncontrolled Keywords:hollows, memory, quantum vacuum, speech, assertion, narrative, consciousness, self-consciousness, experience, panexperientialism, ZPD
Subjects:P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN0441 Literary History
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
C Auxiliary Sciences of History > CB History of civilization
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
Abram, David (1996). The Spell of the Sensuous: Perception and Language in a More-Than-Human World. New York: Pantheon.

Atmanspacher, Harald, & Hans Primas (1996). “The hidden side of Wolfgang Pauli.” Journal of Consciousness Studies 3(2), 112-126.

Bachelard, Gaston (1987). On Poetic Imagination and Reverie, trans. with preface and introduction by Colette Gaudin. Dallas: Spring Publications.

Beckett, Samuel (1958). The Unnamable. In Three Novels by Samuel Beckett (pp. 289-414). New York: Grove Press.

Benveniste, Émile (1971). Problems in General Linguistics, trans. Mary Meek. Coral Gables FL: University of Miami Press.

Bergson, Henri (1983). Creative Evolution, trans. Arthur Mitchell. Lanham MD: Henry Holt. Original in French 1911.

Bohm, David (1980). Wholeness and the Implicate Order. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.

Bohm, David & F. David Peat (2000). Science, Order and Creativity. New York: Routledge.

Brautigan, Richard (1967). All Watched Over By Machines of Loving Grace. San Francisco: Communications Company.

Brown, Norman O. (1966). Love’s Body. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Caputo, John D., ed. & commentator (1997). Deconstruction in a Nutshell: A Conversation with Jacques Derrida. New York: Fordham University Press.

Casey, Edward S. (1987). Remembering: A Phenomenological Study. Bloomington/Indianapolis: Indiana University Press.

Cassirer, Ernst (1944). An Essay on Man. New Haven/London: Yale University Press.

Chalmers, David J. (Dec 1995). “The puzzle of conscious experience.” Scientific American 273(6). 80-86.

_____ (1996). The Conscious Mind: In Search of a Fundamental Theory. New York/Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Churchland, Patricia Smith (1986). Neurophilosophy: Toward a Unified Science of Mind-Brain. Cambridge MA: MIT Press.

Cobb, John B. Jr. & David Ray Griffin, eds. (1977). Mind in Nature: Essays on the Interface of Science and Philosophy. Washington, DC: University Press of America.

Cohen, David (1998). The Secret Language of Mind: A Visual Enquiry into the Mysteries of Consciousness. London: Duncan-Baird.

Crites, Stephen (1986). “Storytime: Recollecting the past and projecting the future.” In T. R. Sarbin, ed., The Storied Nature of Human Conduct (pp. 152-197). New York: Praeger.

Cytowic, Richard E. (1993). The Man Who Tasted Shapes: A Bizarre Medical Mystery Offers Revolutionary Insights into Emotions, Reasoning, and Consciousness. New York: Warner.

Damasio, Antonio (1999). The Feeling of What Happens: Body and Emotion in the Making of Consciousness. New York: Harcourt Brace.

Deacon, Terrence (1997). The Symbolic Species: The Co-Evolution of Language and the Brain. New York: W. W. Norton.

Deikman, Arthur (1996). “ ‘I’ = awareness.” Journal of Consciousness Studies 3(4), 350-356.

Dennett, Daniel (1991). Consciousness Explained. Boston/Toronto: Little, Brown.

de Quincey, Christian (1994). “Consciousness all the way down? An analysis of McGinn's critique of panexperientialism.” Journal of Consciousness Studies 1(2), 217-229.

_____ (2000). “Conceiving the inconceivable: Fishing for consciousness with a net of miracles.” Journal of Consciousness Studies 7(4), 67-81.

Derrida, Jacques (1976). Of Grammatology, trans. G. Spivak. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.

_____ (1978). Writing and Difference, trans. A. Bass. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

_____ (1984). “Deconstruction and the other.” In R. Kearney, ed., Dialogues with Contemporary Continental Thinkers ( pp. 105-126). Manchester: Manchester University Press.

_____ (1992). Deconstruction and the Possibility of Justice, edited by Drucilla Cornell et al. New York: Routledge.

Dewart, Leslie (1989). Evolution and Consciousness: The Role of Speech in the Origin and Development of Human Nature. University of Toronto Press.

_____ (May 1998). “Mind, consciousness and transpersonal psychology.” JCS (Journal of Consciousness Studies)-Online Discussion Group.

Donald, Merlin (1991). Origins of the Modern Mind: Three Stages in the Evolution of Culture and Cognition. Harvard University Press.

Dreyfus, Hubert L. (1992). What Computers Still Can't Do: A Critique of Artificial Reason. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Dyson, George B. (1998). Darwin Among the Machines: The Evolution of Global Intelligence. New York: Helix Books/Perseus Press.

Edelman, Gerald M. (1987). Neural Darwinism: The Theory of Neuronal Group Selection. New York: Basic Books.

_____ (1989). The Remembered Present: A Biological Theory of Consciousness. New York: Basic Books.

_____ (1992). Bright Air, Brilliant Fire: On the Matter of Mind. New York: Basic Books.

Edelman, Gerald and Giulio Tononi (2000). A Universe of Consciousness: How Matter Becomes Imagination. New York: Basic Books.

Eliade, Mircea (1963). Myth and Reality, trans. Willard R. Trask. New York: Harper & Row.

_____ (1967). Myths, Dreams and Mysteries: The Encounter between Contemporary Faiths and Archaic Realities, trans. Philip Mairet. New York: Harper & Row.

_____ (1969). The Quest: History and Meaning in Religion. Chicago/London: University of Chicago Press.

_____ (1982). Ordeal by Labyrinth: Conversations with Claude-Henri Rocquet, trans. Derek Coltman. Chicago/London: University of Chicago Press.

Eliot, T. S. (1944a). “Burnt Norton.” In Four Quartets (pp. 13-20). London: Faber & Faber.

_____ (1944b). “Little Gidding.” In Four Quartets (pp. 49-59). London: Faber & Faber.

Freeman, Kathleen (1983). Ancilla to the Pre-Socratic Philosophers. Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press. Originally published 1948.

Gallagher, Shaun (2001), “The practice of mind: Theory, simulation or primary interaction,” Journal of Consciousness Studies, Vol. 8, Nos. 5-7, pp. 83-108.

Gendlin, Eugene T. (1998). A Process Model. Online book: <http://www.focusing.org/process.html> ©Eugene T. Gendlin.

Globus, Gordon (1995). The Postmodern Brain. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: J. Benjamins.

Graves, Robert (1966). “The Cool Web.” In Collected Poems (p. 45). Garden City NY: Doubleday Anchor. Poem originally published 1927.

Griffin, David Ray (1998). Unsnarling the World-Knot: Consciousness, Freedom, and the Mind-Body Problem. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Haney, William S. II (1998). “Deconstruction and consciousness: The question of unity.” Journal of Consciousness Studies 5(1), 19-33.

Hartshorne, Charles (1972). “The compound individual.” In Charles Hartshorne, Whitehead’s Philosophy: Selected Essays, 1935-1970 (pp. 41-61). Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press.

Heidegger, Martin (1977). Basic Writings. D. F. Krell, ed. New York: Harper & Row.

_____ (1987). An Introduction to Metaphysics, trans. R. Manheim. Yale University Press. First published in German, 1953.

Ho, Mae-Wan (1998). The Rainbow and the Worm: The Physics of Organisms. Singapore: World Scientific.

Horgan, John (1996). The End of Science: Facing the Limits of Knowledge in the Twilight of the Scientific Age. New York: Broadway Books.

Hu, Huping, & Wu, Maoxin (2010), ‘The principle of existence: Toward a science of consciousness’. Journal of Consciousness Exploration and Research 1(1), 50-119.

Humphrey, Nicholas (1992). A History of the Mind: Evolution and the Birth of Consciousness. New York: Simon & Schuster.

Järvilehto, Timo (2000). “Feeling as knowing: Part I. Emotion as reorganization of the organism-environment system”. Consciousness & Emotion 1(2), 53-65.

Jastrow, Robert (1981). The Enchanted Loom: Mind in the Universe. New York: Simon & Schuster.

Jaynes, Julian (1976). The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

Joy, Bill (April 2000). “Why the future doesn’t need us.” Wired 8(04).

Kant, Immanuel (1996). Critique of Pure Reason (2nd ed), trans. Werner Pluhar. Indianapolis: Hackett. Original Kritik der reinen Verkunst. Königsberg, 1787.

Kelso, J. Scott (1997). Dynamic Patterns: The Self-Organization of Brain and Behavior (Complex Adaptive Systems). Bradford UK: Bradford Books.

Kerby, A. P. (1991). Narrative and the Self. Bloomington /Indianapolis: Indiana University Press.

Klossowski, Pierre (1969). Nietzsche et le cercle vicieux. Paris: Mercure de France.

Korzybski, Alfred (1993). Science and Sanity: An Introduction to Non-Aristotelian Systems and General Semantics. Englewood NJ: International Non-Aristotelian Library/Institute of General Semantics.

Kurzweil, Ray (2000). The Age of Spiritual Machines: When Computers Exceed Human Intelligence. New York: Penguin.

Lacan, Jacques (1977). Ecrits, trans. Alan Sheridan. New York: Norton.

Lakoff, George (1987). Women, Fire, and Dangerous Things: What Categories Reveal About the Mind. University of Chicago Press.

Lakoff, George & Mark Johnson (1999). Philosophy in the Flesh. New York: Basic Books.

Lao Tsu (1972). Tao Te Ching, trans. Gia-Fu Feng & Jane English. New York: Vintage Books. Originally written ca. 6th century B.C.E. in Chinese.

Libet, Benjamin (1992). “Models of Conscious Time and the Experimental Evidence.” Behavioral and Brain Sciences 15(2), 213-75.

Mann, Thomas (1934). Joseph and his Brothers. New York: Knopf.

Maslow, Abraham (1976). The Farther Reaches of Human Nature. New York: Penguin.

Mathews, Freya (1991). The Ecological Self. Savage MD: Barnes & Noble.

Maturana, Humberto & Francisco Varela (1987). The Tree of Knowledge: The Biological Roots of Human Understanding, trans. Robert Paolucci. Boston: Shambhala.

May, Rollo (1975). The Courage to Create. New York: Norton.

McCrone, John (1991). The Ape That Spoke: Language and the Evolution of the Human Mind. New York: William Morrow.

_____ (1999). Going Inside: A Tour Round a Single Moment of Consciousness. London: Faber & Faber.

Mead, George Herbert (1963). Mind, Self, and Society: From the Standpoint of a Social Behaviorist. Charles Morris, ed. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Merleau-Ponty, Maurice (1962). Phenomenology of Perception, trans. Colin Smith. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.

_____ (1968). The Visible and the Invisible, trans. Alphonso Lingis. Evanston IL: Northwestern University Press.

_____ (1973). Consciousness and the Acquisition of Language, trans. H. J. Silverman. Evanston IL: Northwestern University Press.

Minsky, Marvin (1985). The Society of Mind. New York: Simon & Schuster.

Moravec, Hans (1988). Mind Children: The Future of Robot & Human Intelligence. New Haven: Harvard University Press.

_____ (1999). Robot: Mere Machine to Transcendent Mind. London/New York: Oxford University Press.

Morris, William, ed. (1982). The Houghton Mifflin Canadian Dictionary of the English Language. Markham ON: Houghton Mifflin Canada.

Moussaieff Masson, Jeffrey & McCarthy, Susan (1995). When Elephants Weep: The Emotional Lives of Animals. New York: Delta/Dell.

Müller, Herbert (1997). “Is the mind real?” Karl Jaspers Forum [electronic journal online], <http://www.kjf.ca/1-TA12.htm> (archived).

Nagel, Thomas (1974). “What is it like to be a bat?” Philosophical Review 83 (4), 435-50.

_____ (1986). The View from Nowhere. New York/London: Oxford University Press.

_____ (1987). What Does It All Mean? New York/London: Oxford University Press.

Neumann, Erich (1989). The Place of Creation: Six Essays. Bollingen Series LXI, Vol 3. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Essays originally presented as lectures at the Eranos conferences, 1952-60.

Nixon, Gregory (1999). “A ‘hermeneutic objection’: Language and the inner View.” In Francisco J. Varela and Jonathan Shear, eds., The View from Within: First-Person Approaches to the Study of Consciousness (pp. 257-267). London: Imprint Academic.

Nørretranders, Tor (1998). The User Illusion: Cutting Consciousness Down to Size, trans. Jonathan Sydenham. New York: Viking Penguin.

Ornstein, Robert (1991). The Evolution of Consciousness. New York: Prentice Hall.

Paul, Gregory S. & Cox, Earl (1996). Beyond Humanity: Cyberevolution and Future Minds. Charles River Media.

Peat, F. David (2000). The Blackwinged Night: Creativity in Nature and Mind. Cambridge MA: Perseus/Helix.

Percy, Walker (1975). The Message in the Bottle: How Queer Man is, How Queer Language is, and What One Has To Do with the Other. New York: Noonday.

Pribram, Karl (1977). Languages of the Brain. Monterey CA: Wadsworth.

Ricoeur, Paul (1984-8). Time and Narrative, 3 vols., trans. K. McLaughlin & D. Pellauer. University of Chicago Press.

Richardson, Miles (1989). “Point of view in anthropological discourse: The ethnographer as Gilgamesh.” In P. A. Dennis & W. Aycock, eds., Literature and Anthropology. Lubbock: Texas Tech University.

Roethke, Theodore (1966). The Collected Poems of Theodore Roethke. New York: Anchor Books/Doubleday.

Rosenfield, Israel (1993). The Strange, Familiar, and Forgotten: An Anatomy of Consciousness. New York: Vintage Books.

Sacks, Oliver (1985). The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat. New York: Harper & Row.

Saussure, Ferdinand de (1988). Course in General Linguistics, trans. Roy Harris. Charles Bally & Albert Sechehaye, commentators. New York: Philosophical Library. First published in French 1916.

Schrödinger, Ernst (1992). What is Life? / Mind and Matter. New York/Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Scott, Alwyn (1995). Stairway to the Mind: The Controversial New Science of Consciousness. New York: Copernicus.

Seager, William (1995). “Consciousness, information and panpsychism.” Journal of Consciousness Studies 2(3), 272-288.

Sewall, Laura (1999). Sight and Sensibility: The Ecopsychology of Perception. Tarcher/Putnam.

Sheldrake, Rupert (1995). The Presence of the Past: Morphic Resonance and the Habits of Nature. Rochester VT: Park Street.

Siler, Todd (1990). Breaking the Mind Barrier: The Artscience of Neurocosmology. New York: Simon & Schuster.

Sorenson, E. Richard (1998). “Pre-conquest consciousness.” In H. Wautischer, ed., Tribal Epistemologies: Essays in the Philosophy of Anthropology (pp. 79-115). Aldershot UK: Avebury.

Stevens, Wallace (1954). The Collected Poems. New York: Vintage.

Teilhard de Chardin, Pierre (1959). The Phenomenon of Man. London: William Collins Sons.

Tyndall, John (1879). Fragments of Science: A Series of Detached Essays. Addresses and Reviews. London: Longmans. Cited in Seager, 1995, p. 272.

Van Eenwyk, John R. (1997). Archetypes and Strange Attractors: The Chaotic World of Symbols. Toronto: Inner City Books.

Varela, Francisco, Eva Thompson, & Eleanor Rosch (1991). The Embodied Mind: Cognitive Science and Human Experience. Cambridge MA: MIT Press.

Velmans, Max (2009). Understanding Consciousness (2nd ed.). London & Philadelphia: Routledge/Taylor & Francis Group.

Vygotsky, L. S. (1978). Mind in Society: The Development of Higher Psychological Processes. Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press. Originally published in Russia, 1934.

Whitehead, Alfred North (1967). Adventures of Ideas. New York: MacMillan. Original 1933.

_____ (1968). Modes of Thought. New York: MacMillan. Original 1938.

_____ (1978). Process and Reality: An Essay in Cosmology. Corrected edition. D. R. Griffin & D. W. Sherburne, eds., New York: Free Press. Originally published 1929.

Zahavi, Dan (2007). “Self and other: The limits of narrative understanding” (pp. 179-291). In D. D. Hutto, ed., Narrative and Understanding Persons. Royal Institute of Philosophy. Supplement 60. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Zebrowski, George (June 1994). “Is science rational?” Omni, pp. 45-53.

ID Code:128
Deposited By: Dr Gregory M Nixon
Deposited On:15 Sep 2010 06:35
Last Modified:06 Feb 2021 14:41

Repository Staff Only: item control page