Richard’s Selected Correspondence
On The Affective Faculty
RESPONDENT: Richard (and list subscribers): After reviewing yet more of the actualfreedom.com.au website material, I see Richard is deeply mistaken and confused about the nature of apperception. This confusion stems chiefly from the mistaken and then systematised interpretations he has made of his experience of and his alleged ‘extinguishing’ of ‘affective feelings (emotions and passions and calentures)’. I will explain. To do that I’m going to organize my remarks using an old three-part framework that has been used to discuss human psychic activity – that is, in terms of a) the cognitive (thinking), b) the affective (feeling), and c) the conative (willing); however, this is only a rhetorical device and is not intended to suggest that it actually refers to some kind of real psychic anatomy. It’s not even a claim that its a particularly good framework per se. Only for the sake of organizing my remarks here, I am just abstracting in these three aspects the consciousness we always qualitatively experience as unitary.
It is noteworthy, quite reasonable and, as we shall see, quite telling, that the largest body of Richard’s writing and correspondence treats the affective, while offering comparatively much less regarding the cognitive and the conative. However, he does have some things to say about these, for example: <snip>
Now, notice that:
A) In the case of the cognitive, Richard says the ‘‘thinker’ disappears’ but allows that ‘thinking may or may not occur’ and posits that ‘thinking takes place of its own accord’. Fine.
B) In the case of the conative, Richard presents us with a ‘will freed’ and now operational as the ‘body’s native intelligence’ and relatedly, posits a ‘pure intent’ which is somehow sustained as a ‘connection’ by way of the ‘activation of one’s innate naiveté’. Also, generally OK.
C) However, in the case of the affective, Richard says ‘not only does the ‘feeler’ disappear, but so too do feelings leaving us with ‘sensate-only apprehension’. He explains: ‘However, apperceptive awareness, in the way I am using the term, is when ‘the feeling (‘beauty’) without a sense of a feeler feeling it (impersonal feeling) is not. It is bodily awareness ... as the senses (and not through the senses)’. [endquote].
Richard gives a couple of good reasons for his particular attention to the affective. First, he’s basically drilling down through the cognitive to the most substrate and bodily level: <snip>
Why does Richard go the way of eliminative reduction? I think it has something to do with his intellectual compulsion to eliminate all suggestion of ‘states’ from ‘Actualism’. Perhaps, this is a kind of reaction to his own personal history, which (apparently) kept him in the subtle thralldom of solipsistic qualitative states of what he calls ‘Enlightenment’ and the like. Perhaps derivative of this, when he, so to speak, gets a whiff of feeling he can’t stop coughing. And to stop coughing, he just stops breathing, or at least pretends to. Anyway, he does commit himself to a disembodiment of feelings, while still having them. I’m sure there are many examples, but here’s one:
Language behaviour is not always unambiguous regarding underlying feelings or intentions. However, the words one chooses and the words one does not choose are often telling. In this case, I can find no way of reading Richard’s retort here that does not speak of some real underlying feeling, at least, and downright anger, at most. These are not the robotic words we would expect of one who has ‘extinguished’ the affective.
I know I have personalized this now, but I feel it is unavoidable, because Richard’s mistake regarding feeling is not simply a cognitive error, it is a human hazard. And I think the self-delusion (what else would you call it) operating in the above illustration makes that hazard clear.
RICHARD: If you consider that a person sans the affective feelings (emotions, passions and calentures) should write robotically (‘the robotic words we would expect of one who has ‘extinguished’ the affective’) then I guess that decides the matter for you inasmuch as you then have to read affective feelings (‘some real underlying feeling, at least, and downright anger, at most’) into a humorous exchange such as the example you have quoted just above.
That particular exchange was the eighteenth e-mail with my co-respondent, who had previously enjoined me to know that they were god and that they can only be god, which I found comical at the time. Vis.:
When I read it through again I still find it comical – I always find it hilarious when a fellow human being tells me that they are god as I was one myself for eleven years in my enlightened phase – am I supposed to be humourless as well as robotic?
In regards to your critique of my writings: you start by saying that I am deeply mistaken and confused about the nature of apperception and then set out the reasons why you have come to this conclusion ... and more than a little of what you say revolves around what the word ‘qualitativeness’ means. Until I hear from you what it does mean – or rather what it means to you – I cannot respond adequately ... so far, going by what you write and have written previously, it starts to look as if it is somehow related to or synonymous with the affective faculty. Vis.:
In this paragraph you bracket the word immediately after talking about the affective (‘all the higher level aspects of the affective (qualitativeness)’ ) ... which is what indicates to me the relatedness or synonymity of the two words for you (but I will await your clarification before proceeding).
Also, I cannot help but notice that you say, in the above paragraph, that the affective is sourced in the senses (‘finding the affective to be sourced in the senses’ and ‘affect, at the higher level, has roots (or causes) in the senses’ ) whereas the affective faculty is innate – all sentient beings are born with basic survival passions such as fear and aggression and nurture and desire – and while it is certainly the case that sense impressions can trigger the affective feelings, just as thought can, this is not the same as saying the affective feelings are sourced in the senses ... or sourced in thought as some people say.
You even posted a quote of mine (much further above) which speaks of the source – the origin – of the affective faculty in very clear terms ... maybe you overlooked the import of it even though you provided the quote? Vis.:
Do you see where I say that when I stumbled across the instincts I found the origin of the affective faculty? Nowhere do I say that the affective is sourced, or has its roots, in the senses as you say in your paragraph. And I am drawing it to your attention because this is a very important point to comprehend when you seek to understand what I am saying in all my descriptions and explanations of an actual freedom ... thus the affective faculty can indeed be eliminated while leaving the qualitative nature of consciousness intact.
Incidentally, I am not indulging in reductionism when I talk of elimination ... the extirpation of the affective faculty is an experiential occurrence and not an analytical, philosophical, intellectual or academic issue to be dealt with conceptually or by the stroke of a pen.
RESPONDENT: Notice also how Richard posed this question in his retort: ‘Just out of curiosity, how does it feel ...’.
RICHARD: You do seem to be convinced that it is a retort rather than a reply ... you used the same terminology (as if it were a given) in your previous post:
Is this another case of you thinking that you know me better than I do?
RESPONDENT: If Richard is curious about how something feels, how else can that particular curiosity emerge, except as an anticipatory capacity for feeling?
RICHARD: How about a straightforward interest in how another person experiences themselves?
RESPONDENT: That is, how could the curiosity Richard says he has be satisfied at all unless he can feel in the first place?
RICHARD: Very simply: my curiosity would be satisfied by my co-respondent’s response to my query ... in this particular conversation a god had told me to ‘be at peace’ and I was curious as to what feeling it produced, or what feeling it satisfied, in a god to go about dispensing peace (stemming misery and mayhem) with just three little words ... rather than omnipotently creating global peace on earth.
Just because I have no affective feelings does not mean that I have no interest in how others’ experience themselves.
RESPONDENT: Typically, Richard’s denials presuppose the very thing they deny.
RICHARD: Do you see that you have set it up so that it is (erroneously) already decided that my explanations are ‘denials’ and then proceed to an (erroneous) conclusion? What choice do you leave for your co-respondent but to contest your conviction?
‘Tis no wonder that ‘fine and entertaining disputes’ usually develop.
RESPONDENT: Yes, he is feeling for a feeling.
RICHARD: If you say so then it is so ... for you that is. I will keep my own counsel on the matter however as I am decidedly unimpressed by your diagnoses thus far.
I would like to take pause here for a moment and ask a very relevant question: are you genuinely interested in exploring human consciousness via discussions such as this or are you more interested in analysing my words with the aim of proving that the affective faculty is still extant in me?
If it is the latter then our conversations will surely devolve into a schoolyard ‘tis/‘tisn’t debacle.
RESPONDENT: 2. Richard is confused about the use of ‘eliminative reduction’. He says: ‘Incidentally, I am not indulging in reductionism when I talk of elimination ... the extirpation of the affective faculty is an experiential occurrence and not an analytical, philosophical, intellectual or academic issue to be dealt with conceptually or by the stroke of a pen’. It should be clear that by ‘eliminative reduction’ I’m not focusing on the simple fact that Richard is eliminating the affective faculty.
RICHARD: Yet I am not ‘eliminating the affective faculty’ (present tense) as it is already eliminated (past tense) ... it has gone, ended, finished, kaput.
It is extinct.
RESPONDENT: I’m talking about a wrong course of reasoning which simply ignores higher level features of a phenomenon while ostensibly trying to arrive at the foundational causes.
RICHARD: Well then, I am not confused after all as it is that very ‘course of reasoning’ approach that I was referring to when I said that I was not indulging in reductionism.
The elimination of the affective faculty is an irrevocable event ... then there are no ‘higher level features’ (no rarefied affective feelings) to necessitate such reasoning as you propose (there is neither higher level features nor lower level features here in this actual world).
It is all actually very simple and you are making it unnecessarily complex ... and then finding fault in my non-engagement in your complexity.
RESPONDENT: I’ll reprint this from my post:
3. The can be no question that Richard’s drill-down through the affective (feeling) is an eliminative reduction to the senses.
RICHARD: Why do you have to say that it is an ‘eliminative reduction’ and not simply an elimination of the affective component which usually floods the sensory experience with feelings? With the affective faculty non-existent (excised at its root) there are, of course, no ‘higher level aspects of the affective (qualitativeness)’ extant, which you say I am ignoring in a drilling down course of reasoning, which means that your ‘eliminative reduction’ diagnosis is a non-sequitur.
In other words: I cannot ignore something that is simply not there.
It just does not make sense to insist on putting an affective component into my descriptions of apperception when there is none and then tell me that I am ignoring it ... it is your affective component you are talking about and not mine.
RESPONDENT: Yes, Richard drills down to ‘instincts’, but carries on through to the senses. Perhaps, another excerpt from his correspondence will make this even clearer:
It was to this I said in my last post:
RICHARD: Of course I ‘carry on through to the senses’ in my above exchange – after all my co-respondent had set the parameters of the topic by saying ‘when mind is in this situation observing a sunrise’ wherein the sensate faculty is of necessity operating – whereas you (apparently) are speaking of some reasoned-out stage where the sensate faculty is not operating (‘there are no faculties or platforms’ ).
But please correct me if I am in error about what you mean by ‘no faculties or platforms’.
RESPONDENT: 4. Apparently, Richard cannot gather my meaning of qualitativeness from the context of my remarks.
RICHARD: Au contraire ... I had already said that, going by what you write and have written previously, it was starting to look as if it is somehow related to or is synonymous with the affective faculty: your responses (further below) show that I was not too far off the mark.
The reason why I asked you what was meant by a word I had never heard of before was so that there would be no assumptions made on my part which could lead to misunderstanding (as the word did not appear in any dictionary or encyclopaedia I have access to) and, given that you say towards the end of this post that my words are deeply confusing to you anyway, I find it somewhat strange that you would want me to gather your meaning from the context of your remarks.
It is much more accurate to ask.
RESPONDENT: He has already been unable to grasp an earlier example: The coolness of 50 degree water. ‘Coolness’ is a first-person or qualitative statement regarding the contact with 50 degree water. ‘Coolness’ does not necessarily follow from the objective temperature of the water and depends on the person contacting the water. 50 degree water may be ‘warm’ to an Eskimo.
RICHARD: As I never got around to responding to this earlier example, regarding water at 50 degrees Fahrenheit as experienced by a person living in a torrid zone as contrasted to a person living in an arctic zone, I fail to see how you can come to the conclusion that I have been ‘unable to grasp an earlier example’ – maybe it is another instance of you thinking that you know me better than I do – but as you have brought that earlier example up again I will address it now. This is what you wanted me to grasp back then:
And this is what you would have me grasp now:
Now, your proof for these two statements is, in effect, that a person living in a torrid zone will experience water at 50 degrees Fahrenheit as being cool whereas a person living in an arctic zone will experience water at 50 degrees Fahrenheit as being warm ... which, at first glance, appears to prove your point that there is nothing in water at 50 degrees Fahrenheit that it must necessarily present as cool and that coolness does not necessarily follow from the objective temperature of the water and depends on the person contacting the water. However I will rephrase your two statements (above) so as to provide another sample and see whether your proof is the conclusive proof you take it to be or only an anomalous sample blinding you to the facts:
Yet a person living in a torrid zone will experience water at 200 degrees Fahrenheit as being hot and a person living in an arctic zone will also experience water at 200 degrees Fahrenheit as being hot ... so why does your sample appear to prove your point regarding coolness but not in regards to hotness?
The answer is simple: the ambient temperature in the torrid zone is hotter than the ambient temperature of the arctic zone (or the ambient temperature in the arctic zone is colder than the ambient temperature of the torrid zone) ... and just as the water temperature can be settled in the ‘third person’ way so too can the ambient temperature be similarly settled. If the person living in a torrid zone moves to the arctic zone and stays there long enough to acclimatise themselves they too will then begin to experience water at 50 degrees Fahrenheit as being warm ... and the same applies in reverse (if the person living in an arctic zone moves to a torrid zone and stays there long enough to acclimatise themselves they too will then begin to experience water at 50 degrees Fahrenheit as being cool).
Needless is it to say that the variation in the ambient temperatures has no effect when experiencing water to the magnitude of 200 degrees Fahrenheit? Basically what you have done is inadvertently introduced a ‘third person’ variable (the ambient temperature) into your argument which acts upon some of the samplings as a modifier ... and such ill-advised tinkering with the basic terms of reference has produced a forced result and a false conclusion (that it ‘depends on the person contacting the water’ when it does not).
It depends upon the ambient temperature being constant.
RESPONDENT: Readers following earlier posts (‘Re: Sensation Of Perception’, 7/16/2002, excerpted below) will notice that Richard performed the same eliminative reduction with coolness that he routinely does with the affective.
RICHARD: As I did not perform an ‘eliminative reduction’ with coolness after all has it become more clear by now that I do not perform an ‘eliminative reduction’ with the affective and that what I am talking of is the extinction of the affective?
RESPONDENT: He believes, as with the senses, that 50 degree water is self-aware that it is cool.
RICHARD: You are verging on the ridiculous here – I have never said that water knows that it is cool – and you are achieving nothing but taking up space with this red-herring.
RESPONDENT: Notice also that the excerpt below, taken together with Richard’s reduction of the affective to the ‘sensate-only’, makes the senses simply convertible with something like thermometers.
RICHARD: I am not saying anything of the sort in the excerpt below ... all I am saying is that thermometers more precisely, reliably, and universally measure the temperature of the water than the sensate way.
RESPONDENT: ... that is, like disembodied machines: ‘... but another way ... of determining by measurement ...’.
RICHARD: As nowhere do I indicate that cutaneous sensations (in this instance the elbow) are like ‘disembodied machines’ I am having some difficulty, at this stage, in taking your appraisal of what I say as being a sincere appraisal.
Coupled with your other red-herring I do wonder just what your agenda is.
RESPONDENT: Now, qualitativeness is simply an attribute, as it were, of human and probably much animal consciousness. The brain (body) is always evidencing or representing to itself its body (its internal states), its not-body (environment), and the contact or relationship or saliency among them. And these operations are not all or always conscious. However, when we experience consciously, of such conscious state the brain (body) conveys self-evidently always its quality. Such conveyance is commonly discussed in terms of feeling, or from the rhetorical standpoint of a so-called affective faculty.
RICHARD: Okay ... so the word ‘qualitativeness’ does indeed have affective connotations for you.
Incidentally, I generally use the word ‘affective’ so as to distinguish such feelings from the sensate feelings as the English language allows the word ‘feeling’ to refer to both the emotional/passional faculty and the sensational faculty.
RESPONDENT: However, one will lose another attribute of consciousness, the unitary attribute, if one gets to thinking that the self-evident ‘display’ of quality is somehow stationed somewhere or in some discrete modality. Indeed, in the last analysis, consciousness is the penultimate and Gestalt of all feelings.
RICHARD: And therein lies the rub: because you have convinced yourself (‘in the last analysis’) that consciousness is the ‘penultimate and Gestalt of all feelings’ you do not appear to be taking any notice of what I report regarding a consciousness sans the affective faculty.
RESPONDENT: Now, some common conscious experiences are: a room that is red ‘feels’ different than a room that is blue; thinking 1+1=2 ‘feels’ different than thinking 1+1=17; the reflex recoil of my hand at touching a flame ‘feels’ different than raising my hand to ask a question.
RICHARD: I can agree that these experiences may be common to many people – going by what other people tell me and a vague memory that it used to be that way for me all those years ago – yet there is no need for affective feelings to be operating in order to discern the differences you detail (a room of one colour is ocularly sensed to be different from a room of another colour; a correct equation is thought to be different from an incorrect equation; a reflexive bodily movement is proprioceptively felt to be different from conscious bodily movement).
For an identity (‘I’ as ego and ‘me’ as soul) maybe it is vital that it affectively ‘feels’ the difference as it is forever cut-off from the actual – from the wondrous world as-it-is – and it needs to create a feeling ambience in order to compensate for missing out on the marvel of the actual.
RESPONDENT: The differences among the objective or third-party settleable facts underlying each of these examples (such as, what the retina does differently with reflected red light rather than blue light) will not yield differences in the subjective, qualitative or first-person ‘feelings’.
RICHARD: Probably not ... the affective feelings are notoriously unreliable (whilst one person may say that something ‘feels’ right, for example, another might say that it ‘feels’ wrong).
RESPONDENT: They may be sourced in the objective, but they are not *the same* as the objective.
RICHARD: Affective feelings about something are certainly not the same as that something.
RESPONDENT: Just because we can be misled by, confused by, egoically enthralled in, etc., our feelings, does not vitiate the feeling (qualitativeness) of consciousness.
RICHARD: I beg to differ ... the pure consciousness experience (PCE) shows that feelings had been vitiating quality like all get-out.
RESPONDENT: Surprisingly at the very end of his last post, Richard makes a attempt to reverse his eliminative reduction: ‘... thus the affective faculty can indeed be eliminated while leaving the qualitative nature of consciousness intact’.
RICHARD: If I may point out? It is not my ‘eliminative reduction’ at all – it is yours – therefore there is no ‘attempt to reverse’ anything (other than in your own mind).
RESPONDENT: In what sense then ‘qualitative’?
RICHARD: In the apperceptive sense (an unmediated sensory experiencing).
RESPONDENT: Like a thermometer?
RICHARD: You are back to verging on the ridiculous again.
RESPONDENT: Remember, Richard has already led us to the so-called sensate-only and has placed the senses on par with mere instruments of measure.
RICHARD: Not so ... that is where you have led yourself.
RESPONDENT: Well, instruments are not self-evidencing or self-aware.
RICHARD: Indeed not.
RESPONDENT: A thermometer has no consciousness.
RICHARD: It certainly has not.
RESPONDENT: A thermometer does not ‘feel hot’, not to mention, it does not ‘know’ its temperature and it does not ‘determine’ its temperature.
RICHARD: Of course a thermometer does none of those things.
RESPONDENT: I don’t know for certain why Richard is so spooked by feeling, but I have already shared my theories.
RICHARD: As it is you who is convinced that I am ‘spooked’ by the affective feelings – this being another example of you thinking that you know me better than I do – I will leave that to you to mull over.
RESPONDENT: However, I do know that his confusion yields a hazardous approach for persons examining their own feelings.
RICHARD: As the ‘confusion’ you see in me exists only in your own mind – along with the other incidences of you thinking that you know me better than I do – then that is where the ‘hazardous approach’ also resides.
RESPONDENT: By, at the same time, dismissing feeling ...
RICHARD: If I may interject? I am not merely ‘dismissing’ the affective feelings ... the entire affective faculty is extinct.
RESPONDENT: ... and maintaining a pretence of qualitativeness ...
RICHARD: If I may interject again? I do not maintain a pretence of the ‘qualitativeness’ which you describe (above) ... I specifically wrote ‘the qualitative nature of consciousness’ (using the word ‘qualitative’ as defined in the Oxford Dictionary which I posted in an earlier e-mail). Vis.:
It really pays to read what I write with both eyes open rather than jumping to the conclusion that I am talking about the same thing as you ... I had even said, that not only could I not find the word in either the dictionaries or the encyclopaedia I have access to, I was not sure what you meant by the word.
I could not have been more clear than that.
RESPONDENT: ... in the so-called sensate-only, Richard is deeply confused and deeply confusing.
RICHARD: Not so ... it is your assumption that I am referring to the same thing as the ‘qualitativeness’ you experience, when I talk of the qualitative nature of consciousness remaining intact upon the extirpation of the affective faculty, that persuades you to see that I am ‘deeply confused and deeply confusing’ (which is why I have interjected twice in your sentence).
An erroneous premise (‘by dismissing feeling and maintaining a pretence of qualitativeness’) invariably leads to a false conclusion (‘Richard is deeply confused and deeply confusing’) ... do you now see the flaw in thinking that you know me better than what I do?
RESPONDENT: Feeling cannot be dismissed, only penetrated.
RICHARD: Again you are talking about dismissal (which is perhaps what causes you to see reductionism in my words) whereas I have made it clear, again and again, that the entire affective faculty is non-existent.
RESPONDENT: And Richard has given us not a short-cut, but a quagmire, substituting denial of feeling for the penetration of its highest aspects, which, with others, subsist as none other than consciousness itself.
RICHARD: I will say it again: I am not into a ‘denial of feeling’ ... how can I be in denial of something that just does not exist?
With that said we now come to the nub of the issue: the penetration of the highest aspects of feeling, which you say that with other aspects subsist as none other than consciousness itself, is apparently what is important for you ... and not the extirpation of the entire affective faculty (via altruistic ‘self’-immolation) so that pure consciousness can become apparent. ‘Tis no wonder that you are at odds with what I write ... it could very well be the case that your agenda is to preserve the highest aspects of feeling (after all that is where spiritual enlightenment lies) at all costs.
The Third Alternative
(Peace On Earth In This Life Time As This Flesh And Blood Body)
Here is an actual freedom from the Human Condition, surpassing Spiritual Enlightenment and any other Altered State Of Consciousness, and challenging all philosophy, psychiatry, metaphysics (including quantum physics with its mystic cosmogony), anthropology, sociology ... and any religion along with its paranormal theology. Discarding all of the beliefs that have held humankind in thralldom for aeons, the way has now been discovered that cuts through the ‘Tried and True’ and enables anyone to be, for the first time, a fully free and autonomous individual living in utter peace and tranquillity, beholden to no-one.
Richard’s Text ©The Actual Freedom Trust: 1997-. All Rights Reserved.