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Objective Idealism

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Mind and Consciousness

The view that I follow is that of objective Idealism, rather than the more usual subjective Idealism.

In my view, human consciousness has three modes or factors, those of mind, will (or will power), and feeling. Mind is separate from will and feeling, and yet interaction occurs. Mind and will interact to produce desire, and mind and feeling interact to produce emotion. [¹]

The sum total of mind, will and feeling produces consciousness. The agency of consciousness is the ego.

Therefore consciousness is different from mind.

Sub - Headings
Two forms of Perception
Metaphysics and Psychology
Will and Mind
Two orientations to Perception

Subjective Idealism and objective Idealism are differing versions of philosophical Idealism, which is the view that matter does not exist in its own right, that in fact it is a product of mind. In this view, all objects are mental creations. So, since the whole world is the sum of all objects, then even the world is a mental construction.

The crucial difference between subjective and objective views of philosophical Idealism is that I need to explain two central features of life : the experience of relationships, along with the existence of confusion and determinism. These features react on each other. A subjective Idealist, considering himself to be a monad (a self-sufficient and self-contained ego), can ignore relationships ; I cannot. This is because I centre on psychology ; I use philosophy only to explain my psychology.

Two Forms of Perception

For a subjective Idealist, experience is of objects only ; this gives rise to static perception (the object stays the same). For an objective Idealist, experience is enlarged to include relationships : relationships imply that the ego is not self-sufficient and self-contained. In addition, confusion and determinism indicate that a subconscious component to mind exists – this feature of mind is not part of monad theory. These features give rise to dynamic perception (since relationships change) as well. Therefore, the main difference between the two forms of  Idealism can be interpreted as pivoting on the issue of perception.

Within a perspective of reincarnation, both static perception and dynamic perception are learned responses. Knowledge acquired by experience in past lives becomes subconscious in this life. Subconscious knowledge is part of the mental ‘background’ of a person, and is the intuitive basis on which he faces life. Knowledge not acquired in past lives becomes knowledge gained through experience in this life.
In Kantian metaphysics, past-life experience can be viewed as a priori knowledge, whilst experience in the present life can be called a posteriori knowledge.

Dynamic perception is acquired by the infant before static perception is. This means that the infant becomes sensitive to the relationships to its parents before it becomes sensitive to the perception of objects. This order of perception creates the possibility of infancy trauma. The infant acquires sensitivity to negative influences within its relationships without having, as well, the ability to interpret accurately these relationships. [²]

The perception of dynamic relationships leads to the ‘ not-self ’ (that which is different from the ego) and so to the ‘creation’ of objects through static perception. The subconscious mind of the infant is the storehouse of its learning from past lives, and subconscious memories of relationships are always more powerful and profound than subconscious memories of objects. Therefore the need to relate dynamically to people always overrides the need to relate statically to objects.

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Metaphysics and Psychology

In general, perception has both metaphysical and psychological factors.

Consider metaphysics
Everything that I see produces images or ideas in my mind. An image is just a non-verbal idea. I am only aware of ideas. But I am not an idea, since will and feeling are separate from mind. In the process of perception there is more than one mind involved. A perceptual process occurs because an idea in the mind of god becomes reflected as an idea in my mind.

The permanence of objects occurs because they exist as ideas in the universal mind of god, and are maintained by the will of god (Schopenhauer’s impersonal will - see article Will and Representation). The transience of my mental images is due to the restlessness of my mind ; my will is not powerful enough to maintain my images. The factor of will  is the factor that Berkeley ignored (see article Subjective Idealism).

Consider psychology
At this level my mind evaluates the idea or image. I assume that the idea in the mind of god is not associated with value since equanimity is the basis of divine consciousness (that is, the state of  Nirvana). It is the role of centres of consciousness, such as humans, animals, and other life forms, to add the factors of value. Hence objects have no value in themselves, and only acquire value from animals, humans, etc.

In my understanding of reality, god generates universal mind but centres of consciousness have their own unique mind. God provides perception and the ego interprets it. There are two components to perception, one being static and the other being dynamic :

a). The god-ego relationship
This requires a scenario of subjective Idealism (focusing on monadism). This is the static perspective ; it centres on object recognition and is due to intellectual discrimination of sensory stimuli.

b). Projection and introjection
This requires a scenario of relationships. It focuses on bonding (with its factors of imprinting, identification and transference) and on subconscious determinism.  This is the dynamic perspective. It centres on value and meaning, and is due to desire and emotion[³]

Subconscious determinism is a product of childhood, either of the present life or from previous lives on Earth. It originates when anxiety becomes attached to the memory of an event that has caused the child a psychological problem. If the child cannot handle that anxiety, then it becomes motivated to avoid and deny that problem ; the memory becomes repressed. Now the problem remains permanently in the subconscious mind, even when the child has grown up. Subconscious determinism occurs because motivation has become compulsive in anxiety-provoking social situations. And this motivation is itself subconscious. A person will behave in inflexible and stereotyped ways, and not understand why he does so.

Taken together, factors (a) and (b) form objective Idealism.

Therefore a comprehensive theory of perception requires an adequate understanding of psycho-dynamic psychology.

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Will and Mind

Some deductions from these ideas :

Emphasising the Will
Perception depends upon awareness. Awareness can mean that we decide what we want to see before we see it. This brings in the will. Therefore perception depends on will. Perception is controlled by the will. Perception can be considered to be our fundamental moral experience: our moral choices are reflected in our perception.

States of social situations and relationships form objective reality. In any situation or relationship, the will controls perception, and thereby cognition, by turning the perceptions into conceptions. The concepts formed then induce the appropriate emotions. So the ego experiences the emotions appropriate to the perception of that situation. In short, the will controls perception so as to experience desired concepts.

Cognition produces awareness but not experience. The development of a material brain and a material body as a function of cognition allows the ego to experience that awareness.

We experience objective reality because we desire to do so. Hence the will is dominant. Then the will develops the intellectual aspect of mind : the intellect serves the will and allows it to achieve its aims. The magnitude of the intellect is proportional to the needs of the will (Schopenhauer's view).

When we use our mind we work mainly with projection. It is the way of experiencing ideas. So projection and the will work hand-in-hand when we engage in objective reality.

Emphasising the Mind
There is another orientation to perception. It functions differently according to whether I am engaged in subjective reality or in objective reality. Subjective reality can be an absorption in meditation, day-dreaming, contemplation, or listening to music. In this orientation, the mind is dominant.

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Two Orientations to Perception

The two orientations are :

c). In subjective reality, the mind is dominant.
Therefore perception is governed by the mind.

d). In objective reality, the will is dominant.
Therefore perception is governed by the will.

Value and meaning are the grounds of perception.
So :

in (c) we have : value governs belief.
Then belief governs perception.

in (d) we have : value governs will.
Then will governs perception.

Bonding and subconscious determinism complicate this simple pattern.
I enlarge it to :

e). In subjective reality, perception is governed predominantly by the mind and emotion.

f ). In objective reality, perception is governed predominantly by the will and desire.

To unravel perception fully requires the addition to these ideas of two other descriptions of consciousness.

the understanding of philosophical phenomenology, or the philosophical description of states of consciousness (as in the works of Edmund Husserl).

the understanding of psychic phenomenology, as portrayed in theosophical theories.

I have not yet investigated Husserl's ideas, and the empirical exploration of theosophical ideas is beyond my ability. I have been concerned with the understanding of psychological phenomenology, or the psychological description of states of consciousness.

Only by understanding all these states of consciousness can the ideal of truth be fully attained. Despite my limitations, I can formulate a definition of truth.

Truth is a phenomenology of consciousness.

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The number in brackets at the end of each reference takes you back to the paragraph that featured it. The addresses of my other websites are on the Links page.

[¹]. For an overview of my ideas on consciousness as will, mind, and feeling, see article Emotion and Abreaction. [1]

[²]. Trauma in infancy occurs when the stresses and negative states of mind of the parents’ own lives (and the lives of its significant others) are transmitted to the fledgling ego of the infant. This is one of the origins of violence.

Infancy trauma is explained in two articles on my website Patterns of Confusion. The first article, Vulnerability of the Ego, focuses on the origins of violence. And the second one, Guilt & Meaning - part 2, centres on why trauma occurs unintentionally ; a shortened version of this article is Infancy Trauma, on my website The Subconscious Mind.

Also, an article on Bonding focuses on some problems of a sensitive child and explains an unintentional source of infancy trauma. This is on my websites Discover Your Mind, and The Subconscious Mind, and The Strange World of Emotion. [2]

[³].  See glossary for a short note on projection. In more detail, Projection and Introjection, as well as Bonding, are explained in articles on my websites Discover Your Mind and The Strange World of Emotion

Subconscious determinism and subconscious motivation are described in the first article on Abreaction, which is on my psychology websites Discover Your Mind, and The Subconscious Mind, and The Strange World of Emotion.

See the article Meaning and Value. [3]


The overall framework of my metaphysics is also outlined in the articles Monism and Dualism and End States of Mind.

Home List of  Articles Links Top of  Page

The articles in this section are :

Subjective Idealism

Criticisms of Subjective Idealism

Will and Representation

Objective Idealism

Copyright @2003  Ian Heath
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Ian Heath
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