Qualia, Consciousness, Christ, and Cosmos

What is qualia? What is the source of individual instances of subjective conscious experience, like seeing the redness of an apple? Where does the redness come from? I don’t know, but here are some ideas.

Energy in our environment impinges upon our sense organs causing a cascade of electrochemical reactions and nerve impulses that are sent to the brain. In the brain these nerve impulses seem to give rise to a conscious perception. We know that a certain wavelength/frequency of photons, for example, striking the retina cells in our eyes correlates with the experience of red arising in consciousness. But why red? Why is it red? Why do we experience that color? Why do we experience anything?

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Yet another “First Vision” Account from St. Symeon the New Theologian

St. Symeon the New Theologian

St. Symeon the New Theologian (949-1022 AD) was a Byzantine Christian monk and poet, and was canonized as a saint by the Eastern Orthodox church. He wrote much about Christian mysticism, including his own experiences.

I’ve written twice before about St. Symeon’s “First Vision” accounts. He seems to have recorded many of them. He was prolific in sharing his experiences of theosis, or deification, and is called by Father George A. Maloney the “mystic of fire and light.”

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“Canticle of the Sun,” by St. Francis of Assisi, and Joseph Smith’s “Olive Leaf”

One of the last things we did at the seminar with Bernard McGinn this past weekend was read through and discuss Saint Francis of Assisi’s poem and religious song Canticle of the Sun. McGinn considers this to be a very mystical text from Francis, as Francis seems to see God powerfully in and throughout the whole of creation, including in the sun, moon, stars, Earth, etc. McGinn noted that it is a kind of nature mysticism. Francis wrote most of it in the year 1224, and the last few lines in 1226 just before his death. Continue reading ““Canticle of the Sun,” by St. Francis of Assisi, and Joseph Smith’s “Olive Leaf””

Fyodor Dostoevsky’s “First Vision” Account

fyodor_mikhailovich_dostoyevsky_1876
Fyodor Dostoevsky, 1876

Fyodor Dostoevsky (1821-1881) was a Russian novelist, writer, and philosopher. He often explored questions of psychology, philosophy, and religion. He wrote many acclaimed novels.

He published a short story in the 1870s in a collection called A Writer’s Diary with the title “The Dream of a Queer Fellow,” also published as The Dream of a Ridiculous Man. As Maria Popova points out, “the story sheds light on Dostoyevsky’s personal spiritual and philosophical bents with extraordinary clarity — perhaps more so than any of his other published works.” As with so much so-called “fiction,” it is perhaps a true reflection of his own deepest intuitions, spiritual experiences, and understandings. Continue reading “Fyodor Dostoevsky’s “First Vision” Account”