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ChloeB

What is Being?

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Martin Heidegger (September 26, 1889 – May 26, 1976); was a German philosopher known for his existential and phenomenological explorations of the "question of Being."[3]

Heidegger argues that philosophy is preoccupied with what exists and has forgotten the question of the "ground" of being. We find ourselves "always already" fallen into a world that already existed; but he insists that we have forgotten the basic question of what being itself is. This question defines our central nature. He argues that we are practical agents, caring and concerned about our projects in the world, and allowing it to reveal, or "unconceal" itself to us. He also says that our manipulation of reality is often harmful and hides our true being as essentially limited participants, not masters, of the world which we discover.

Heidegger wrote about these issues in his best-known book, Being and Time (1927), which is considered to be one of the most important philosophical works of the 20th century.

Heidegger claimed that Western philosophy since Plato has misunderstood what it means for something "to be", tending to approach this question in terms of a being, rather than asking about Being itself. In other words, Heidegger believed all investigations of being have historically focused on particular entities and their properties, or have treated Being itself as an entity, or substance, with properties. A more authentic analysis of being would, for Heidegger, investigate "that on the basis of which beings are already understood," or that which underlies all particular entities and allows them to show up as entities in the first place But since philosophers and scientists have overlooked the more basic, pre-theoretical ways of being from which their theories derive, and since they have incorrectly applied those theories universally, they have confused our understanding of being and human existence. To avoid these deep-rooted misconceptions, Heidegger believed philosophical inquiry must be conducted in a new way, through a process of retracing the steps of the history of philosophy.

Heidegger argued that this misunderstanding, beginning with Plato, has left its traces in every stage of Western thought. All that we understand, from the way we speak to our notions of "common sense", is susceptible to error, to fundamental mistakes about the nature of being. These mistakes filter into the terms through which being is articulated in the history of philosophy—such as reality, logic, God, consciousness, and presence.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martin_Heidegger

First off, I'd ask what you think "being" is? I see consistently, people show up here and go on God and how God doesn't exist, no evidence for such, but is this difficulty with understanding what being is a contributing factor to understanding what God is? And as Heidegger suggests we are so preoccupied with what "exists" and forgotten the question of the "ground of being", and as I bolded above the investigations have been focused on entities but a more authentic search would be for what underlies all entities and allows them to show up in the first place...........doesn't that sound more like what a God would be? Yet we make and insist to look for God as an entity, a being, but not the source of being or the ground of being. Is that the mistake we make in any kind of attempt at a discussion about God?

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Posted (edited)

Awesome post!!

Real quickly between classes, Id say that being is our divine, timeless nature. It is our very essence and pure potentiality contrasted with doing which involves the miracle of life which gives us the concept of time and the ability to actually create and manifest this "being"into our lives. And yes, I think we have forgotten this.

I know for myself, it is very difficult for me to stop the constant chatter in my mind. I totally identify with it and I seem to never be able to shut it off. I think that´s one reason I´ve become much more interested in Eastern Philosophies . Things like Yoga and Tai Chi (hope you´re still sticking with it CloeB!) and other "meditative" practices have been around for centuries for a reason and my understanding (which isn´t very deep!)is they are designed to calm the mind amongst other things. I think tey allow us to "dis-entangle" ourselves from the world of forms (including thoughts)allowing us to perhaps get a peak at our true nature.

Edited by jugoso

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I quote from the OP's quote:

He also says that our manipulation of reality is often harmful and hides our true being as essentially limited participants, not masters, of the world which we discover.

I would say that when we manipulate reality we loose an intuitive understanding of that reality. When we allow reality and ourselves to just "be" with no interference, the "ground of being" is revealed.

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Posted (edited)

Awesome post!!

Real quickly between classes, Id say that being is our divine, timeless nature. It is our very essence and pure potentiality contrasted with doing which involves the miracle of life which gives us the concept of time and the ability to actually create and manifest this "being"into our lives. And yes, I think we have forgotten this.

I know for myself, it is very difficult for me to stop the constant chatter in my mind. I totally identify with it and I seem to never be able to shut it off. I think that´s one reason I´ve become much more interested in Eastern Philosophies . Things like Yoga and Tai Chi (hope you´re still sticking with it CloeB!) and other "meditative" practices have been around for centuries for a reason and my understanding (which isn´t very deep!)is they are designed to calm the mind amongst other things. I think tey allow us to "dis-entangle" ourselves from the world of forms (including thoughts)allowing us to perhaps get a peak at our true nature.

Isn't it interesting though, that his world of forms is just what we've learned to think being is....to be fill in the blank, but then isn't what we are saying and SMK's post highlights this is as well, that Being is that very thing left when we disentangle ourselves from the world of form, that world Heidegger describes that we've already fallen into that already existed. I'm not surprised to hear that at all about you, Jugoso, that you've been looking into Eastern Philosophies. I am the same way, identifying with the mind chatter, I even catch myself telling that part to stop and knock it off. Who is that or what is that, the one who observes the thoughts and the mind chatter is the question of all questions. YES! I'm still hanging in there with tai chi. I went Saturday and Texas was blasted with super winds and we were out at the park trying to be all balanced, it was a unique challenge. It's tough and he notices me getting frustrated with myself for not learning the form faster and he will say, as long as you relax and breathe, you are getting the benefits of it and I do always feel better.

Edited by ChloeB

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I quote from the OP's quote:

I would say that when we manipulate reality we loose an intuitive understanding of that reality. When we allow reality and ourselves to just "be" with no interference, the "ground of being" is revealed.

It's still hard to say what to just "be" is though isn't it? I mean in my head it's not really, but I guess what Jugoso said, when you shut down on the mind chatter is that what you would say is to just be?

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Posted (edited)

I've been thinking about the nature of being myself, and have had several conversations with a friend about it. I saw on a science show that we are breathing argon molecules that have been around for thousands of years, as has the air we're breathing. We share 99% of our DNA with the great apes, and all of our DNA comes from our ancestors. Some credible people believe that we are not separate from our environment, but are rather a part of it and that separation is an illusion. So I've been thinking about who we are beneath the skin, so to speak.

Do our bodies just sort of carry around or move around parts of the physical environment, temporarily rearranging it for a time? We certainly can't claim to be unique, given our DNA inheritance from thousands of generations of ancestors. Are we just the latest update of our ancestors? Do we carry their knowledge & experiences in our bodies as genetic memory? How much of what we assume to be "us" on a personal level is really part of a larger thing or consciousness? Are we simply an extension of physical/quantum reality? I find these thoughts a little unnerving, because they challenge a lot of my precepts and are causing me to rethink many of my ideas about what it means to be human, what it means to be Beany, what the nature of reality is at least as I can perceive it. I think what I find unsettling is not so much the letting go of some valued and cherished beliefs & assumptions, but that the ground moving forward seems really squishy. Does anyone have any thoughts about any of these ideas? I've got some blanks, but I'm not filling them in very well.

Edited by Beany

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Posted (edited)

I've been thinking about the nature of being myself, and have had several conversations with a friend about it. I saw on a science show that we are breathing argon molecules that have been around for thousands of years, as has the air we're breathing. We share 99% of our DNA with the great apes, and all of our DNA comes from our ancestors. Some credible people believe that we are not separate from our environment, but are rather a part of it and that separation is an illusion. So I've been thinking about who we are beneath the skin, so to speak.

Do our bodies just sort of carry around or move around parts of the physical environment, temporarily rearranging it for a time? We certainly can't claim to be unique, given our DNA inheritance from thousands of generations of ancestors. Are we just the latest update of our ancestors? Do we carry their knowledge & experiences in our bodies as genetic memory? How much of what we assume to be "us" on a personal level is really part of a larger thing or consciousness? Are we simply an extension of physical/quantum reality? I find these thoughts a little unnerving, because they challenge a lot of my precepts and are causing me to rethink many of my ideas about what it means to be human, what it means to be Beany, what the nature of reality is at least as I can perceive it. I think what I find unsettling is not so much the letting go of some valued and cherished beliefs & assumptions, but that the ground moving forward seems really squishy. Does anyone have any thoughts about any of these ideas? I've got some blanks, but I'm not filling them in very well.

I have always just been amazed and this is just so wild to me, that every atom we are made of once was part of stars! I think I have those same blanks too, but I'm right there where you are too, it being a little unnerving and challenging, but then I kind of like that too, pushing my limits. But what you said, just made me think about that about stars and this quote by Carl Sagan:

Some part of our being knows this is where we came from. We long to return. And we can. Because the cosmos is also within us. We're made of star-stuff. We are a way for the cosmos to know itself. I've always thought if you switch out Cosmos and God in that, it makes sense to me, even so much as a meaning of life for why we would be created, a way for God or the cosmos to know itself. You called it something once, and I said I was going to borrow that, what was it? Intelligent energy, that works for me in some way in my head. All this is very hard to express, lol.

Edited by ChloeB

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First off, I'd ask what you think "being" is?

The state of self-aware existence.

Descartes rendition is probably the most famous.

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What is "being"? It's the brain perceiving and interpreting essence through our 5 senses. The important question is, why?

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Posted (edited)

The state of self-aware existence.

Descartes rendition is probably the most famous.

Hey Leo! But does that work really? If we look at wikipedia on self-awareness, this is what we've got:

Self-awareness is the capacity for introspection and the ability to reconcile oneself as an individual separate from the environment and other individuals. Self-awareness, though similar to sentience in concept, includes the experience of the self, and has been argued as implicit to the hard problem of consciousness.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Self-awareness

And if you'll look over to the side on the link there, it says the mirror test is a measure of self-awareness. I have a big goofy black lab and it's just one of my favorite things when he does this, but I've got a glass book case and he will every once in awhile be staring at it growling. I laugh so much at him when he does it and I egg him on to get that dog, lol. Once I even caught him standing up on his hind legs, front paws on the bathroom counter like a short hairy man staring at that strange dog in his bathroom! So anyway, my dog, he's clueless that is him, he lacks self-awareness, but can we say he's not in a state of being?

Edited by ChloeB

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Posted (edited)

What is "being"? It's the brain perceiving and interpreting essence through our 5 senses. The important question is, why?

Okay, that gets my dog back into being, but so what you're saying is basically conscious, sentient right? So would someone in a coma, in a state of unconsciousness not be in a state of being? They are in a state of existence but not in a state of being?

And that would lead me into my next question and all these does God "exist" debates......does something need to "exist" as we understand "exist" to be in a state of being? Point being, God as a ground of all being, but existing isn't really what God is about...........maybe..........or I think, haha.

Edited by ChloeB

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I think perceiving and interpreting involves more than 5 senses. I think there's an intuitive sense, an ESP kind of sensing, a pre-cognitive sensing, a genetic/body memory sensing, and possibly many more. While we definitely dwell in our bodies, I think there's a greater consciousness working that extends beyond our bodies that allows us to have experiences beyond the 5 sense.

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Hey Leo! But does that work really? If we look at wikipedia on self-awareness, this is what we've got:

Self-awareness is the capacity for introspection and the ability to reconcile oneself as an individual separate from the environment and other individuals. Self-awareness, though similar to sentience in concept, includes the experience of the self, and has been argued as implicit to the hard problem of consciousness.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Self-awareness

And if you'll look over to the side on the link there, it says the mirror test is a measure of self-awareness. I have a big goofy black lab and it's just one of my favorite things when he does this, but I've got a glass book case and he will every once in awhile be staring at it growling. I laugh so much at him when he does it and I egg him on to get that dog, lol. Once I even caught him standing up on his hind legs, front paws on the bathroom counter like a short hairy man staring at that strange dog in his bathroom! So anyway, my dog, he's clueless that is him, he lacks self-awareness, but can we say he's not in a state of being?

Yes.

Your dog is not a 'being' (a la, the 'being' in "human being") as we would define it. Your dog exists, and has a sensory experience of it's environment - but it is not aware of it's self. I suppose you could argue it does not have a 'self'.

Your dog might have a personality, be able to feel and express emotions, etc - but all that means is those attributes are not necessarily requisite for the existence of 'self', or 'self-awareness'.

Your dog is conscious but not self-conscious, which is what seems to be essential for 'being'.

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martin_Heidegger

First off, I'd ask what you think "being" is? I see consistently, people show up here and go on God and how God doesn't exist, no evidence for such, but is this difficulty with understanding what being is a contributing factor to understanding what God is? And as Heidegger suggests we are so preoccupied with what "exists" and forgotten the question of the "ground of being", and as I bolded above the investigations have been focused on entities but a more authentic search would be for what underlies all entities and allows them to show up in the first place...........doesn't that sound more like what a God would be? Yet we make and insist to look for God as an entity, a being, but not the source of being or the ground of being. Is that the mistake we make in any kind of attempt at a discussion about God?

Thinking of God as an entity is limiting. What you call God I call Spirit, but my term is limiting, too. Back to informed intelligence! I sense or feel something huge, that's everywhere, permeating everything, that keeps the ball rolling, and is benign. As my ideas & perceptions shift, my understanding of it changes, but I may never fully understand it, which is OK.

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Yes.

Your dog is not a 'being' (a la, the 'being' in "human being") as we would define it. Your dog exists, and has a sensory experience of it's environment - but it is not aware of it's self. I suppose you could argue it does not have a 'self'.

Your dog might have a personality, be able to feel and express emotions, etc - but all that means is those attributes are not necessarily requisite for the existence of 'self', or 'self-awareness'.

Your dog is conscious but not self-conscious, which is what seems to be essential for 'being'.

Well if we are using being as an entity, which is what Heidegger was saying the problem is, then my dog is a being, but I like where you're going with this. I would say my dog has a self, that is what he is, himself, his personality and ability to feel and have emotions is his self, but what he doesn't have is that observer of his thoughts, as we've said that awareness of his self, and that we might say is what Being is, which some might argue is something separate from self.

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martin_Heidegger

First off, I'd ask what you think "being" is? I see consistently, people show up here and go on God and how God doesn't exist, no evidence for such, but is this difficulty with understanding what being is a contributing factor to understanding what God is? And as Heidegger suggests we are so preoccupied with what "exists" and forgotten the question of the "ground of being", and as I bolded above the investigations have been focused on entities but a more authentic search would be for what underlies all entities and allows them to show up in the first place...........doesn't that sound more like what a God would be? Yet we make and insist to look for God as an entity, a being, but not the source of being or the ground of being. Is that the mistake we make in any kind of attempt at a discussion about God?

From a Buddhist point of view the only thing which exists is the Prime Substance.

It is made out of being and non-being combined together into a state called non-duality. When the non-dual state collapses you end up with the reality we see which is the being and everything else which has been excluded which is non-being.

If you know about Quantum Mechanics the being is our reality, the non-being is the excluded multiverse and if you bring them back together you get a wavefunction which is the same as the Prime Substance.

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Posted (edited)

Thinking of God as an entity is limiting. What you call God I call Spirit, but my term is limiting, too. Back to informed intelligence! I sense or feel something huge, that's everywhere, permeating everything, that keeps the ball rolling, and is benign. As my ideas & perceptions shift, my understanding of it changes, but I may never fully understand it, which is OK.

It is very limiting, but yes I liked the way you put that when I told you before. Did I say it wrong, intelligent energy? Informed intelligence. I quoted this before, I just like it a lot, and that Max Planck, Nobel Prize winner, regarded as founder of quantum theory says this, well you have to give it some serious consideration:

All matter originates and exists only by virtue of a force... We must assume behind this force the existence of a conscious and intelligent Mind. This Mind is the matrix of all matter.

And that intelligence he speaks of, could that be that observer of our thoughts? That force brings matter into existence and is the ground of all being, but that is first, then comes existence, but it brings things into existence, this intelligent energy. I think that might be what Being is, what God is, even if we try to avoid that term "God" but I think that's the trap and the pitfall of the does God exist debates and this idea that God creates, we have this idea of an entity fashioning clay into humans and waving magic wands in the sky and making planets, but that requires that God "exist" as well and that is why we always end up with that...."well what created God?" These imo are all wrong ways of looking at it to me. A better way is how you described it, how Max Planck describes it. A creator is an entity, an entity already in existence, but that seems wrong to me......but there is in infinity, behind existence and time and space that underlies all things, Being, that consciousness, but when we try to look at it "doing" anything, such as the "act of creating" then we paint ourselves back into that corner.

Edited by ChloeB

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Posted (edited)

Well if we are using being as an entity, which is what Heidegger was saying the problem is, then my dog is a being, but I like where you're going with this. I would say my dog has a self, that is what he is, himself, his personality and ability to feel and have emotions is his self, but what he doesn't have is that observer of his thoughts, as we've said that awareness of his self, and that we might say is what Being is, which some might argue is something separate from self.

Well, we have to consider the different usages of 'being'. One use of "being" is as a synonym for "entity", so your dog is a being, in that sense.

But 'being' (sometimes capitalised - "Being"), such as when used as an abbreviation for the phrase "state of being", suggests something more along the lines of self-awareness/self-consciousness.

Edited by Leonardo

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Posted (edited)

From a Buddhist point of view the only thing which exists is the Prime Substance.

It is made out of being and non-being combined together into a state called non-duality. When the non-dual state collapses you end up with the reality we see which is the being and everything else which has been excluded which is non-being.

If you know about Quantum Mechanics the being is our reality, the non-being is the excluded multiverse and if you bring them back together you get a wavefunction which is the same as the Prime Substance.

Could we say that Prime Substance is the ground of all being as we are talking about here? I'm trying to think about what you said about wave function being the same as prime substance. We'd save wave function is just a realm of possibilities, right? When it collapses, then one of those possibilities becomes reality, correct? And the multiverse is all the infinite excluded possibilities that our reality didn't collapse on, right? I'm just trying to sort this out in my brain. But they say for it to collapse, someone has to observe it right? So is that the consciousness Max Planck is talking about? We might have to get away from this word being, I'm afraid it's causing more confusion than clarification.

Edited by ChloeB

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Well, we have to consider the different usages of 'being'. One use of "being" is as a synonym for "entity", so your dog is a being, in that sense.

But 'being' (sometimes capitalised - "Being"), such as when used as an abbreviation for the phrase "state of being", suggests something more along the lines of self-awareness/self-consciousness.

And that Being and our "self" now seem like two things, the self and whatever it is that is watching that self and is aware it, as I said now seem separate, that might be what the fall of man was all about.

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I'll put in a word for your black Lab.

Once I even caught him standing up on his hind legs, front paws on the bathroom counter like a short hairy man staring at that strange dog in his bathroom! So anyway, my dog, he's clueless that is him,

It seems to me that he's correct. It isn't him. It is his reflection in a mirror.

he lacks self-awareness

Or, in the alternative, he has self-awareness, and finds it remarkable that this other dog mimics his movements, while other dogs cannot. It is as if his private movement intentions can be read and acted upon by this other dog as rapidly as he can do it himself.

What he lacks is an understanding of reflected light. Or, perhaps he wonders why, if the mirror exchanges left and right, it doesn't exchange up and down. Maybe what you're looking at is him doing experiments, about something you could simply tell him if only he spoke English.

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And that Being and our "self" now seem like two things, the self and whatever it is that is watching that self and is aware it, as I said now seem separate, that might be what the fall of man was all about.

I'm not sure one can separate the two so easily. I know you are arguing this partly based on your appreciation that your dog has a 'self', but does it?

If your dog is not self-aware, then how can we say it has a self to be aware of?

Your dog is an entity, but I would argue that we cannot state it is a 'self'.

Our self, and our awareness of that self, would seem to be not separate as you propose, but our awareness (self-awareness) is actually dependent on the existence of the self. In this, the entire world/universe outside the Mind is our 'mirror'.

Edited by Leonardo

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Posted (edited)

I'll put in a word for your black Lab.

It seems to me that he's correct. It isn't him. It is his reflection in a mirror.

Or, in the alternative, he has self-awareness, and finds it remarkable that this other dog mimics his movements, while other dogs cannot. It is as if his private movement intentions can be read and acted upon by this other dog as rapidly as he can do it himself.

What he lacks is an understanding of reflected light. Or, perhaps he wonders why, if the mirror exchanges left and right, it doesn't exchange up and down. Maybe what you're looking at is him doing experiments, about something you could simply tell him if only he spoke English.

Knight says thank you for speaking on his behalf, Mr Bits! Okay, that's true, it isn't him, but he doesn't understand it's his reflection of him, but you know what though? He does seem to learn something about it though, much to my dismay because I get such a giggle out of his goofy self and his hair has even got spiky, indicating that he's getting protective or defensive thinking it's another dog, but then he "learns" something as I said and he loses interest and he doesn't do it anymore really. I haven't seen a short hairy little man in the bathroom in a long time. I don't know if he's just desensitized to it or what actually went on in his head, but I don't think he's realized it's his reflection or an image of him in a sense. It kind of seems like he just lost interest, lol, but he may have been his own experiment and through trial and error at growling has proven to himself he won't provoke a reaction from that dog in the mirror so it's not worth his concern or worry anymore.

Edited by ChloeB

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Posted (edited)

I'm not sure one can separate the two so easily. I know you are arguing this partly based on your appreciation that your dog has a 'self', but does it?

If your dog is not self-aware, then how can we say it has a self to be aware of?

Your dog is an entity, but I would argue that we cannot state it is a 'self'.

Our self, and our awareness of that self, would seem to be not separate as you propose, but our awareness (self-awareness) is actually dependent on the existence of the self. In this, the entire world/universe outside the Mind is our 'mirror'.

I don't know, Leo. Mr Miyagi made a thread once about what is self and it was as confusing and hard as this. I guess when I just keep it simple and think of self, like my dog, self is just what he is, the whole of all of him, and he's all that and so am I, we're the same there, but where we differ is that I am aware of that self, aware of the whole of all of me (he will chase his own tail, lol) So yes, I guess I'm stating self is the entity we are, why would you argue that? I mean I guess we could say my awareness is just part of my self and there's just a little more to my "self" than my dog, that I have just have a little more advanced cognitive abilities.

Edited by ChloeB

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Posted (edited)

Knight says thank you for speaking on his behalf, Mr Bits! Okay, that's true, it isn't him, but he doesn't understand it's his reflection of him, but you know what though? He does seem to learn something about it though, much to my dismay because I get such a giggle out of his goofy self and his hair has even got spiky, indicating that he's getting protective or defensive thinking it's another dog, but then he "learns" something as I said and he loses interest and he doesn't do it anymore really. I haven't seen a short hairy little man in the bathroom in a long time. I don't know if he's just desensitized to it or what actually went on in his head, but I don't think he's realized it's his reflection or an image of him in a sense. It kind of seems like he just lost interest, lol, but he may have been his own experiment and through trial and error at growling has proven to himself he won't provoke a reaction from that dog in the mirror so it's not worth his concern or worry anymore.

You're thinking like a human, Chloe. ;)

A dog doesn't think like a human, and a dog's vision is not comparable to a human's vision when considering the relative importance of the senses. Your dog cannot smell another dog, and it cannot hear another dog. After the initial visual encounter (in the mirror) the dog is able to determine the 'other dog' is no threat - as it has no smell and no growl.

You're probably right that it has no recognisance of the 'other dog' as a reflection, but without all those other sensory clues, it has no importance to Knight as a possible threat or interloper.

I don't know, Leo. Mr Miyagi made a thread once about what is self and it was as confusing and hard as this. I guess when I just keep it simple and think of self, like my dog, self is just what he is, the whole of all of him, and he's all that and so am I, we're the same there, but where we differ is that I am aware of that self, aware of the whole of all of me (he will chase his own tail, lol) So yes, I guess I'm stating self is the entity we are, why would you argue that? I mean I guess we could say my awareness is just part of my self and there's just a little more to my "self" than my dog, that I have just have a little more advanced cognitive abilities.

Referring back to what Heidegger said about the "true being"...

He also says that our manipulation of reality is often harmful and hides our true being as essentially limited participants, not masters, of the world which we discover.

So, Heidegger promotes our "true being" as limited participants of the world we discover (entities), and discards our manipulation of that world as "hiding" this fact.

Is he right?

I would argue that manipulation of the world is one indication of, one aspect of, self-awareness, true being. The realities we create for ourselves suggest this is so.

Edited by Leonardo

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