Quora answer: Is there a non-supernatural mind/body dualist theory?

May 22 2014

I guess what this question is saying implicitly is that “mind” which is part of the “mind/body” dualism is ‘super-natural’ while the body part is ‘natural’; so the question becomes: can you have a dualism like the mind/body duality where one part is not ‘supernatural’. This is precisely what materialism is. Materialism would describe all phenomena as either nature, or epiphenomena of nature, with no transcendental ideals that go beyond nature. It turns out that this is hard to do. Our tradition is idealist, because Kant figured out how to get around Hume’s objections to causality though the idea of a priori projection of synthesis. That assumes transcendentals as a framework like ego, noumena, God.  Nietzsche tried to produce an atomist materialism that avoided all transcendentals that was purely immanent without being overtly materialist  Deleuze attempts to produce a wholly immanent philosophy based on expressionism. There are a lot of attempts to get around the impasse created by the mind/body duality in our worldview kicked off really in the modern era by Descartes. Spinoza solved the problem by identifying God with Nature and constructing a pantheism. But fundamentally all solutions actually reinforce the dualism in most cases. In other words you need to start from the duality to understand the clever way that someone comes up with to avoid its consequences.

Nonduality on the other hand takes a completely different approach which says that there is Not One! Not Two~ Not Many! In other words there is a possibility that is non-representable that is prior to the arising of the dichotomy. Non-duality despite its name means that we must explain the ur-strata out of which the duality arises, in order to understand the duality. This is Heidegger’s strategy in Being and Time positing Dasein as what was before the Subject/Object dichotomy. But of course this merely pushes the duality deeper into fundamental ontology as the difference between being/Being (ontological difference). True nonduality does not do this but rather explains what is the nature of existence prior to any arising of any distinction, dichotomy, or duality, and how it can arise, and why it is not fundamental, i.e. why non-duality remains fundamental despite the appearances of dualism. Turns out this is hard and it took basically the whole history of Buddhism to figure out how to do this with the epitome being achieved by Fa Tsang with the idea of interpenetration. Thus for him the nondual indicator emptiness was equivalent to the interpenetration of all things. So interpenetration comes first, and then emptiness arises only in response to a specific move of creating a dualism. We invoke emptiness to negate the dualism and return to the primal ground of interpenetration. Thus we realize what the Heart Sutra would have us understand that Form is Emptiness and Emptiness is Form. The inter-transformation of the two occurs in the ground of interpenetration. Form arises along with emptiness that negates it and returns it to the ground of form which is the non-form of interpenetration. But the important thing to realize is that the ground of interpenetration is not unstructured. All the forms you see as you look around you are this ground. Each form you see comes with its emptiness which cancels it out as it arises. So we get non-arising and non-cessation. In other words because the forms arise with the emptiness that cancel them out they do not actually arise but merely appear to arise. And because they are not differentiated from the emptiness that cancels themselves out the forms do not cease to be just because they never left the ground of interpenetration. This way of thinking about the primal ground was perfected by Buddhism, and really has no equivalent in the Western worldview. It is far far more sophisticated than Western philosophy and its ad hoc solutions to philosophical problems that come out of dualism AFTER dichotomies, distinctions, dualisms have arisen. Genuine Nondual philosophies deal directly with this question of non-arising and non-cessation and its corollary which is called dependent co-arising. What that means is that everything arises together from the interpenetrating ground, so that there is quasi-causation rather than direct causation. That quasi-causation is called Karma. I model this with what I call the Emergent Meta-system in Special Systems Theory. Dependent co-arising with quasi-causality is the way that the interpenetrating ground exhibits the dynamism of continuous meta-levels of change. Interpenetration is not static but extremely dynamic, which is modeled by the meta-levels of non-existence in non-indo-european languages. In Indo-European languages we have Being that stands in and ursups the place of negation becoming striated into meta-levels. What you are calling super-natural is merely higher meta-levels of Being which in nondual philosophies of non-indo-european cultures is modeled by meta-levels of non-existence, because existence is itself unstriated unlike Being. So for instane we have Becoming which is Heraclitian Flux (Process Being) that is the first meta-level up from Parmenidian Stasis of Pure Being. But this is not Existence as opposed to Being, but rather just a meta-level of Being. We have to go up to the fifth meta-level of Being before we encounter true existence, and this is why most existentialist philosophy in the West like for instance that of Heidegger or Sartre is not truly existentialist, but rather merely an adumbration of Being of some sort. The whole way of posing this question is caught up in the machinations of Being. In order to solve this problem we need to get outside of Being and understand the nondual interpretations of Existence and then comprehend Existence as interpenetrating as a dynamic ground prior to the arising of any distinction, dichotomy or duality, but which does not negate the world we see in front of us with its own distinctions which we call NTR or Nature. NTR is the word for the Egyptian Gods. From the beginning the Nature was already Supernatural and to this extent Spinoza was right in his pantheism by identifying god and nature. Because NTR is already supernatural in its origins that is why it is possible to have immanent solutions to mind/body dualities like that of Nietzsche or Deleuze.

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