25 July 2009

Free will and consciousness: are they conjoined twins?

There are those that believe that you can not have free will without being conscious. Most will accept that you can be conscious but have no free will. I won't get into the Ontological portion of the argument in this post (but will eventually I am sure). I maintain that one could be either conscious or have a free will but it is not necessary to have both. To clarify, I can be conscious but have no free will, and I can have free will and have no consciousness.

The first part is easy to support. But how can one have free will and not be conscious? If monkeys do not have consciousness (many believe that humans are the only conscious things), and you put a banana to the left and right of them and they select a banana, then they have free will without consciousness. Could this apply to humans? Certainly. We make choices all the time (free will) but have no real viable means of detecting if we are actually conscious.

18 July 2009

Brain-state and causality

Let's start with a quote by Donald Davidson:

The notion of supervenience, as I have used it, is best thought of as a relation between a predicate and a set of predicates in a language: a predicate p is supervenient on a set of predicates S if for every pair of objects such that p is true of one and not of the other there is a predicate of S that is true of one and not of the other (Davidson, 1985, p. 242).

Previous theories had argued that claims concerning the identity of particular mental and physical events depended upon the discovery of lawlike relations between mental and physical properties. These theories thus held that empirical evidence supporting such laws was required for particular identity claims. According to Anomalous Monism, however, it is precisely because there can be no such strict laws that causally interacting mental events must be identical to some physical event. The token-identity thesis thus requires no empirical evidence and depends on there being no lawlike relations. It in effect justifies the token-identity of mental and physical events through arguing for the impossibility of type-identities between mental and physical properties or kinds (Davidson 1970, 209, 212-13; see Johnston 1985).

To draw his ideas out further, x=y IFF z (z causes x and implies y or z causes y and implies x) and z (x causes z and implies y or y causes z and implies x).

An explanation of an agent's action can be considered adequate only if it shows the action in question to be reasonable against the background of an agent's beliefs and desires. This latter
condition together with the truth condition, which states that the propositional attitudes a rationalization attributes to an agent must be true, form the necessary conditions for the justification model of explanation.

Davidson considers the above conditions necessary but not sufficient. The deficiency of the justification model is explained by drawing attention to the distinction between having a
reason for an action and having the reason why one performs an action. For a reason to be the reason why one performs an action the reason must cause the action.

For example, one has a reason to turn on the television, say, to watch one's favorite TV show. But this need not be the reason why one turns on the television. This is because the above reason did not cause one to turn on the television.

As Davidson puts it:

[S]omething essential has certainly been left out, for a person can have a reason for an action, and perform the action, and yet this reason not be the reason why he did it.

The reason for one to turn on the television could simply be because one is lonely and desires company. Thus, one reason (namely, to keep one company) was the cause of the action while the other reason (namely, to watch one's favorite show) wasn't.

Davidson continues:

Of course, we can include this idea too in justification; but then the notion of justification becomes as dark as the notion of reason until we can account for the force of that "because."
The mere possibility that a person acted on the basis of one reason rather than another presents an insurmountable obstacle. The anti-causalist has no way of accounting for the force of the "because" in the rationalization.

The only solution, according to Davidson, is to view the efficacious reasons (the ones that account for the correct rationalization) as causes of action. This leaves us, according to Davidson, with only one alternative to justificationalism, namely, the view that reason explanation is a species of causal explanation.

According to Anomalous Monism, however, it is precisely because there can be no such strict laws that causally interacting mental events must be identical to some physical event.

X=X but is not dependent on brain-state.

11 July 2009

Kant and Love

Kant put forth an idea that love is nothing more than the legal co-ownership of physical parts. Many philosophers have bemoaned this idea, notably Horkheimer, as though love is an actual obtainable ideal. I put forth that love is nothing more than acquiring goods in return for services, a form of capitalism, if you will.

Zeus would impregnate females on whim. De Sade used love for the purpose of exploring sexual taboos. English Parliament sought to marry its "virgin queen" to secure power over the French.

Throughout history love has been nothing more than utilitarian, except in the prose of the poets.

I state that love does not exist, but is simply a tool to achieve "something": power, riches, social standing, sexual fulfillment, and/or lust. I should have better defined "love". Love in the romantic sense can be best defined as a complex neurochemical response, one that can be mimicked by chocolate. The endorphins create a "pleasant" feeling, and one could argue, an addiction. This would explain the "heart break" phenomena.

My post is a bit of a Catch-22, on rethink. Stating that love is an acquisition of goods is almost equating it to the classic psychological question of "if you give a beggar money, do you do it for the beggar or yourself?" I suppose it opens love up to the Ontological question.

But, based on our knowledge of neurotransmitters, the endorphins and such, it does seem plausible that Kant was truly on to something more universal than the arranged marriages of his time.

I also agree that familial love is a bit different, but that too could be a form of endorphin addiction, though I would suspect that a different sort of neurotransmitter is involved. But, if familial love was without boundaries, without a give and take of wants, there would not be estranged families.

In all, love seems to be a complex weave of neuron firings, social more' fulfillment, and desired resolution of a want.

08 July 2009

Is theory of mind true science?

Using Searle's Chinese Room as a basis, when it was first proposed, it was believed to be untestable because of the limitations of computer technology. Even so, to test it would have required the inclusion of computer science and mathematics. Theory of mind at that point was just philosophy and thus pseudo science (Popper, Kuhn).

But, along came several brilliant philosophers (Mooney comes to mind) who thoroughly destroyed that test and showed that a computer could beat the room.

Now, because theory of mind was able to solve the puzzle of the room without incorporating help from what is considered true sciences, it was able to satisfy Popper's falsifiability, pass Kuhn's test, refute Holism, and complete a Bayesian equation. As such, theory of mind transitioned from pseudo science to true science.

Additional evidence is Dennett being moved from the philosophy department to the cognitive science department, and UGA building an AI program that depends on theory of mind.

Metaphysical Questions: can we do away with them?

Given that one of the purposes of Post Modern Philosophy (PoMo) is to eliminate the need for metaphysical questions and adhere to some sort of "language game", tossed out by Wittgenstein and furthered by Rorty, the obvious question has to be then, is it possible to remove metaphysical questions?

Rorty of course, in his "don't want to get trapped in an argument I can't win" style, has relegated metaphysics to some sort of "private language". With PoMo relying upon empirical language and such, what is the place for theories? Are these not metaphysical questions with an official stamp?

For me, Voltaire may have actually had a quite apt knowledge of human spirit when he stated that if "god did not exist, man would create one". It seems to me, that metaphysical questions are a driving force in humanitas.

While I believe that one day Science will be able to map every part of the brain (consciousness, ...), there will still be the question of whether it is truly correct.

So I have to ask then, is it feasible at all to think it is possible to abandon metaphysical questions???

Chaos and reality

Is there anything that has stability, or are all things governed by chaos? If you think about the lifespan of a human, on the surface it is mostly stable, but it is not at all. A person can die at any moment for any reason. The seasons are on a Gregorian calendar, and that is a stable thing, but we all know that the seasons change as they will. Summer begins sometime in June, not necessarily on the 20th. The Sun grows older and larger every day, but what prevents it from going supernova tomorrow?

Is there anything that is immune to the influence of chaos, and therefore stable, or is everything influenced by chaos?

Note: And before anyone replies that chaos is stable because we know it is chaotic, I allow that it might be the only stable thing in the universe.

06 July 2009

Understanding the empty room

The Spacious Mind

By Ajahn Sumedo, Tricycle: The Buddhist Review, Vol. V, #1

The spacious mind has room for everything. It is like the space in a room, which is never harmed by what goes in and out of it. In fact, we say "the space in this room," but actually, the room is in the space, the whole building is in the space. When the building has gone, the space will still be there. The space surrounds the building, and right now we are containing space in a room. With this view we can develop a new perspective. We can see that there are walls creating the shape of the room and there is the space. Looking at it one way, the walls limit the space in the room. But looking at it another way, we see that space is limitless.

From the Tao, it is not the room that is important, but the space within. From Heidegger, the space exists whether the room does or not.

But I feel that what we fail to realize is that it is the space, the empty area that defines the room, that we never truly understand. The area we live in is filled with our stuff, stuff that we feel defines us, but the space between all of that is what truly does. It feels all that we do, and absorbs our energies, recording what we were at that moment in time.

And that is what we fail to see, that all that we do is seen somewhere, usually by the space around us, and is recorded. While we all wish to be good and do the right thing, in reality we all have our own dark moments. The space around us records it.

No, we should not avoid the darkness. It is part of our own human nature and vital to our survival. It makes us who we are, and if we can embrace it as natural, then we will be whole.

03 July 2009

Intelligent Design = No free will

ID (intelligent design/creationism) has purported that the entire universe was created by an intelligent 'designer' and actually do use some factual scientific evidence to support it. And of course, their scientific evidence is dwarfed by the Darwinic evidence. But I digress. The hole I want to poke into their entire argument centers on free will.

For about as long as philosophy has existed, free will has been a hot debate. From my readings of ID, readings that say that everything was created following a specific design, there is only one possibility regarding free will: there is none.

You see, if someone created us, and we were created to serve a purpose, that purpose is our drive. To have such a drive is akin to a computer program. The program could be a jumble of useless code, but if it were, it would not serve its purpose. But if the code was specific, the program would do what the author intended. As such, if we were all created to fulfill a purpose, then we have no free will.

To extend it further, no creator of anything will create something that has no purpose. Yes, artists do create 'anti-art' but in doing so, they create art. To paraphrase Hegel and Heidegger, nothing is something because labeling a nothing 'nothing' makes it something. An intelligent creator would not create beings that had zero purpose. That would be illogical and defy the intelligent basis of the argument. The ID science shows intelligent purpose. From my memory: "the universe was created by the creator following a specific plan. Nothing created was by chance or haphazard." And the ID crowd have gone to great lengths to tackle the 'by chance' angle. They have proposed wonderful mind games to prove their point. Such as:

If you are riding on a train towards Wales and you see a bunch of rocks on a hillside, and those rocks spell out 'welcome to Wales' (those rocks actually exist, they were put there by the British Railways) you have two choices, which are either they were put there following a plan or they were completely arranged as such by chance. The point of that exercise is to illustrate the 'impossibility' of the universe evolving by chance (yes, the argument goes much deeper, but let's not cover that now).

And that is where ID falls upon its own sword. Not only do most of their assertions result in endless loops (meaning that they can not be true), there is simply no possible way for them to allow for free will without destroying their own argument.

For a being to have free will, that being must be able to make all choices according to its own personal whim, to have the ability to go against a plan. With ID, there is a plan. With ID, there is no free will.

To take it further, without a free will, and with a plan, then heaven and hell could not exist at all. They would simply be aberrations, ghosts in the machine, delusions. When the machine, man, ceases to exist, so would heaven and hell. If one must have an afterlife, then only heaven or only hell must exist. For both to exist, there can be either no designer or no free will.

A bit of Hegel regarding will

Removing one's will from the body is not relinquishing one's will, one's self. Only death could accomplish that. Allowing another to possess oneself, in the apparent absence of the will is just an act of the will, but not a true possession, nor is it coercion. The will is not something that can be arbitrarily turned off and on, as it is an universal. Only through the rejection of life, accepting death, does the will cease to be our own will. Existence is not to be confused with Dasein, and I think this may be the crux of the problem.

02 July 2009

The Iterated Prisoner's Dilemma: A meta-solution for evolution

Dennett's example of the prisoner's dilemma, used as a backdrop for the evolutionary stable strategy (ESS) of Maynard Smith, may be a foundational explanation for adaptation. Adaptation is best illustrated in Frankl's Man's Search for Meaning: “Life ultimately means taking the responsibility to find the right answer to its problems and to fulfill the tasks which it constantly sets for each individual. (p98)” Adaptation is a characteristic of an organism that has been favored by natural selection. In a sense, if an organism has two evolutionary “choices”, a long neck or a short one, the one that provides to best chance for continued existence of the organism is the most likely one to be selected. Negative characteristics, mutants, may remain for a few generations, but the effect on the organism is generally extinction (organism or characteristic). A cornerstone of Darwinian evolution is the drive for replication, continued existence. Dennett fervently supports adaptation as being necessary to continued existence, that it is an optimality assumption.

Dennett relies on Dresher and Flood's prisoner's dilemma to explain Maynard Smith's evolutionary stable strategy (ESS), a theory in evolutionary game theory. The prisoner's dilemma is quite simple in its design. Two people are each given two choices, to either cooperate (stay quiet) or to defect (implicate the other), with established payoffs. This builds a payoff in a 2x2 matrix. If both defect the payoff is zero, both cooperate the payoff is 2, and if one defects and the other cooperates, the payoff is -1 and 4, respectively. Dennett slightly changes the payoffs (reverses the choices) in order to make his point. This may actually corrupt the game, as it weights the optimal choice to be cooperation. But even so, an ESS can be established, with both players selecting what is optimal for themselves, continual defection in the classic game and in Dennett's version.

The question arises then: if mutual cooperation is beneficial (Dennett's version) and since genetical (physical stance) there is bounded rationality (near-optimal behavior in regards to goals, or “as-if” rationality), which in turn should theoretically mean that at the gene level of an organism mutual cooperation would be the standard, with defection as an aberration. But Dennett takes the stance that the suboptimal always defect, which is not the same as near-optimal, is the standard. While adaptation is still a viable theory, ESS comes into question. Paraphrasing Dawkins, ESS is a strategy that competes well with like organisms (clones?), and is a strategy of domination (p254). ESS by definition is a stable strategy, in alignment with Dawkins, but also partially with my above question. Mutual defection or mutual cooperation, which is the strategy of domination and stable at the same time?

One of the most curious omissions of Dennett is to the iterated prisoner's dilemma. Simply described: as the game is iterated, the players learn from each other, becoming better able to predict the moves of their opponent and choose the optimal response. It could be claimed that this version requires genes to have rationality, but does it? A gene, according to Dennett, will act in whatever manner necessary to guarantee replication. It seems apparent, that even with as-if rationality, a fluid strategy is probable.

While this still reflects Dawkin's and Dennett's view of ESS, in both Dennett's version and the classic version, it begins to shift away from my posited theory, that mutual cooperation is the optimal strategy. Axelrod in The Evolution of Cooperation (1984) proved just this. The strategy of tit for tat (credited to Anatol Rapoport), cooperates on move one and afterwards does whatever the opponent did in the previous round, was pitted against over fifty competing theories in 200 cycles each. It came out on top against all the others. Axelrod repeated his experiment, this time Maynard Smith submitted his theory, a variation of Rapoport's (tit for two tats), and finished in 24th out of 66 entries. Again tit for tat beat all the others.

A case could be made that ESS is tit for tat. Without going into the mathematics behind optimality payoffs, mutual cooperation in the classic game is the optimal choice and the most rational. Mutual defection in Dennett's version is the optimal choice and most rational. The latter supports Dennett's illustration of the mother and the fetus. But turning to species, Dennett's version of the prisoner's dilemma only works at the meta-level.

Taking into account three types of species, the super predators (crocodiles), the predators (tigers), and the non-predators (gazelles), we can assign always defect, defect or cooperate, and always cooperate to them. If we follow Dennett's version, then logically one would have to assume that crocodiles represent ESS at the non-meta level. The tigers are able to mostly represent ESS at the non-meta level. But, the gazelles do not seem to. How can a creature that always cooperates have continued survival against crocodiles and tigers? Of course this is at the intentional level, and the as-if rationality becomes actual rationality.

Returning to the gene level, bringing back to focus the as-if rationality, ESS and Dennett's version of the prisoner's dilemma works as a meta strategy. The genes of all three animals are not
aware of the choices being made at the intentional level, but are driven to defection, adaptation, to increase the chances of replication. The classic prisoner's dilemma seems to not work at the physical level, because that would mean that genes would always cooperate, and theoretically limit the chance for replication. Or more likely, it would mean that adaptation, while still possible, must have another cause, a cause that is at the intentional level.

Therein lies the danger of the classic version. It violates Dennett's reverse engineering. It makes adaptation happen for rational reasons, not as-if ones, and quite possibly plays into Smith's evolutionary stable state, which Gould has run with. Dennett allows for the possibility of stasis in evolution, as does Darwin (Dennett's assertion). But Dennett is quick to point out that stasis is not an end-game, with his thorough explanation of habitat tracking. And it is here that the problem of the super predator dents Dennett's armor.

If the super predator is the optimal player in Dennett's version of the dilemma, always choosing to defect, why is it, that in the course of evolution the super predators become extinct? It goes to reason that if they were able to adapt at the gene level, if their habitat changed, they would follow the shifting habitat, or shift genetically to adapt to their changing habitat. There is little evidence here, but what if they followed Dennett's habitat tracking and still went extinct? That appears to be a strong case against adaptation being driven at the gene level. The super predators, confronted with a shifting habitat, and not being aware at the intentional level of the severity of the change, opting for continued dominance, by intent made themselves extinct. The ESS would have still worked as a meta-strategy at the genetic level, but a rapid change in environment could happen quicker than genetic shift. In this case, Dennett's version of the dilemma still works.

So it appears that if one allows for both versions of the prisoner's dilemma, and for Smith's evolutionary stable state, adaptation is a viable theory. A clarification needs to be made though, that adaptation occurs differently at the physical and the intentional levels. During a period of stasis, both versions of the dilemma work in concert, with genes always defecting, and with species always cooperating. Once the stasis ends though, adaptation determines survival from the intentional level of a species.

At the physical level, adaptation takes the form of the ESS, Dennett's prisoner's dilemma, with genes continually defecting, in order to improve the chance for replication. At the intentional level though, mutual cooperation is the surest form of replication, with species adapting in unison with their environment. Species that are unable to adapt at the intentional level, ones that always defect, classic prisoner's dilemma, Tyrannosaurus rex, go extinct with a shifting environment. While at the physical stance there is sustained adaptation, it can not meet the speed of change required for continual existence. Since the genes are then at the mercy of the intentional level, adaptation at that level is the determinant of survival. No sky hooks are required, only specialized cranes, ones that place intentionality as the foundation in reverse engineering, ones that Dennett seems to have not envisioned in his version of adaptation.

Note: references to Dennett's ideas are from Darwin's Dangerous Idea by Dennett

The existence of good and evil

One of the commonplace arguments in Philosophy of Religion is the existence of good and evil. Cicero once wrote that "The function of wisdom is to discriminate between good and evil." The Marquis De Sade urged people to explore their darkest nature to truly understand it. This seems a groundwork for Nietzsche's "Beyond Good and Evil". In a nutshell, Nietzsche wondered what good and evil would be if we dropped those words, and also all religious connotations to actions. What really is evil? What is good?

Now the PoMo philosophers have warped this argument to their idea of public and private language. I am fairly confident that Wittgenstein would be appalled by what Rorty and his group have done to his original ideas.

In the classic sense, good is something that does not harm and is approved by the current social mores. To quote Blaise Pascal "Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction." But even the definition of evil is obscured in religious context. In the bible, god slays entire villages, has named Gabriel as the angel of death, and has vast armies. Many people are damned to eternal torment simply because they are not specified on a list of names. Are these good things? Is it even possible?

There is an argument that evil must exist in heaven if heaven allows for free will. But it goes well beyond that. In the Hindu religion there are numerous deities (almost all I think) that are dualistic in their ability to preserve/destroy. It is this nature that blurs the definition of good and evil. The instance of Kali comes to mind. She is the great earth mother and eats her children to maintain the world. Is it evil that she eats her children, or is it evil that she maintains the world? Is it good she eats her children or good that she maintains the world? Is it both? Or is it neither?

To me, good and evil do not exist. Actions exist. We act as we do, and the repercussions of our actions reflect upon us. Mary Wollstonecraft wrote "No man chooses evil because it is evil; he only mistakes it for happiness, the good he seeks." I state that she was wrong. I could quote the Existentialists in my argument, but it is not necessary. A person who does a thing, for whatever reason does so for a need. That thing is an action and that action produces a result. When a person adds 1 and 1 together, the addition is an action and that action ends in a result (2). Stripping morality and religion from action, we are left with result. Hegel understood this better than most.

To use an existential argument, you are starving and your family is starving. You walk by a window where there is food. You take the food to feed your family. Where then is the evil? Is it in your action? Is it in your result? Is it applied to the person who put the food in the window knowing that hungry people could walk by? Or is it just food in a window that you took to feed your family?

Good and evil do not exist when morality, which is bourne of religion, is tossed on the garbage heap. All that remains is actions and results.

Free will v. Heaven

Once again I am reading Dostoyevsky's The Brother's Karamazov. As a philosopher, this is a seminal reading, and ranks with Hegel's Philosophy of Right and Sarte's Being and Nothingness, amongst others. The chapter known as rebellion (mistakenly referred to the Grand Inquisitor, which is the following chapter) attacks the notion of suffering and faith and the limitations of god's power. But it is not suffering that I will allude to.

Philosophers in general have missed the implication of Ivan rejecting heaven entirely. Let me draw from this version: http://www.whitworth.edu/Core/Classes/CO250/Readings/fr_dost.htm.

While there is still time, I hasten to protect myself, and so I renounce the higher harmony altogether. Note: emphasis added It's not worth the tears of that one tortured child who beat itself on the breast with its little fist and prayed in its stinking outhouse, with its unexpiated tears to `dear, kind God'! It's not worth it, because those tears are unatoned for. They must be atoned for, or there can be no harmony. But how? How are you going to atone for them? Is it possible? By their being avenged? But what do I care for avenging them? What do I care for a hell for oppressors? What good can hell do, since those children have already been tortured? And what becomes of harmony, if there is hell?

At the minimal, the catholic belief system has heaven and hell. Purgatory was added at a later date, to try to reconcile that most people were damned to hell if their family name was not on the original list. This makes 3 possible afterlives. Dostoyevsky has added an interesting twist. If we, as humans and with free will, renounce heaven ("higher harmony"), refuse at death to go there even if we are allowed to do so, what happens? Surely no such person would go to hell, or even to purgatory. As Dostoyevsky wrote: I would rather be left with the unavenged suffering. I would rather remain with my unavenged suffering and unsatisfied indignation, even if I were wrong. The unavenged suffering is here and now.

The fourth possibility is to not enter heaven, hell, nor purgatory, but to remain here, on Earth. If free will exists, we are perfectly within our allowance to choose to remain here. Since matter can not be destroyed nor created, we remain as ghosts. Was Dostoyevsky, even by accident, accounting for ghosts? Did he manage to reconcile free will, the rejection of an afterlife as outlined in a bible, with the folklore of ghosts?

Logically this makes sense. Where do the atheists and agnostics go after death? They don't believe in the heaven/hell/purgatory thing, and if they have free will, there must be another option (pending a god exists). Dostoyevsky's Ivan specifically stated he acknowledged god's existence.

How does this all jibe with my conclusion that if free will exists in heaven, there must be evil in heaven? My summation is this: if there is a heaven and heaven has free will, there must be both evil in heaven, thereby making heaven and hell the same, and there must also be somewhere for those that reject heaven, as matter must exist.

Insecurity reflected as belief

All belief is a cover-up for insecurity.
Deepak Chopra (दीपक चोपड़ा)

ABC had some sort of special about religion, and though I was programming, I heard those words. And of course, I knew that he would be attack visciously for saying it. But why? Too many people who "believe" are too wrapped up in their own insecurities to truly understand the beauty of that simple statement. And worse, too many have never really read whatever text they use and understand it.

If you are secure, there is no belief, there is knowing. One knows something is; one does not believe in something. This is the key to undermining the whole faith debate. Faith itself is illogical. Faith requires belief. Knowing requires neither faith nor belief.

I know me. I do not believe in me, nor do I have faith in me. Either one cheapens me.


So I am thinking recently, I am my own destruction. And then the logical side has to ask: if you aren't who is? Of course we all are our own destruction. This does not go against what I have written before: "I know me. I do not believe in me, nor do I have faith in me. Either one cheapens me."

It is what Nietzsche laughed at when he wrote "He who cannot command himself shall obey. And many a one can command himself, but still sorely lacketh self-obedience!".

We all do the things that we know are stupid, things that bring our downfall. And we do it knowingly, and yet we still do. Why? Natural selection has given us survival skills that go beyond most animals, and yet we willingly do things that go against saving ourselves.

Is it a flaw in basic human character? Is it some macabre dance with death? Are we programmed to seek riches and such, yet aspire to nothingness? Do we seek Heidegger, even though we don't understand him?

Maybe the Existentialist crowd was right, and life is a struggle to be genuine. But even so, what is really genuine? Being tools of destroying ourselves? Was Davidson right in questioning the reason a person turns on the TV? Does that person do it to watch TV or is that person looking for meaning in life? Does that person know that he is destroying himself no matter the answer?

We are our own destruction. We embrace it; we become it. But can we avoid it, can we command it? I know me. I know I am my own destruction. I don't know if I can avoid it.

Thoughts on Fichte

Fichte is known for stating that the "I is aware of itself as making itself self-aware" (part of his Wissenschaftslehre).

And of course across the decades people have wondered what the hell he has meant? Was it some precursor to Sartre's "man creates himself" or Nietzsche's "Superman"?

In my take, we are only really aware of our selves, our own being, when we are self-aware, when we understand our actions reflect back upon ourselves and generate the consequences. Something goes from the objective to the subjective and only then can it influence the I (Ichheit).

To clarify a bit, if the objective says that stars exist, and the subjective believes that stars exist, then the I must accept both of these statements for the I to believe that stars exist.

Basically the I must be aware of itself, and as such it then aware of things other than the I. If the other things do not reflect what the I is aware of, then they do not exist.

Where the hell am I going with this? Unless we are fully aware of the things that we do, and accept that what happens following are a direct reflection of ourselves and our understanding of ourselves, then we will never really believe that whatever happens is a consequence of our actions. What happens to each of us is directly because of what we do to create it.