M. Thank you for your well-argumented comment. Empirical science is one thing; philosophy another. Other than Monism there is Non-duality (‘not-two’). Ultimately there is no essential distinction between matter and consciousness which latter, logically and epistemologically, is prius; equally, no distinction between subject and object, observer and observed. The existence and reality of consciousness, which is independent of all phenomena, doesn’t need a proof. ‘I’ (a subject) am an existing consciousness (or thinking substance). Descartes was right in this point. Referring oneself to subjectivity is actually enough (shall we call it qualia, something that you, no doubt, will reject?). It is indisputable that all bodies (organic matter) will disintegrate in due course. Rather than an individual ‘soul’, types of nonduality, such as Advaita Vedanta, Yogacara Buddhism, and Dzogchen, postulate consciousness (as in Advaita) or mind (in Buddhism) as the ultimate reality – ‘awareness’, as an equivalent term for the former, is often used. Philosophy works with/by intuition and also reason (phenomenology is something similar, and is of Western pedigree).
S. It is so easy to slip through an enquiry of a subject to a conclusive belief. You jumped to this statement: ‘ultimately, there is no essential distinction between matter and consciousness which latter, logically and epistemologically, is prius’.
You are not putting forth any real or clear concept when you say that reality or consciousness doesn’t need a proof. The ‘I’ of Descartes has been clearly shown through both science and philosophical/religious schools to be a creation in the brain with no concrete reality. The idea of an ‘ultimate’ reality is just a theory that is adhered to by Monists, which you counter with non duality. Non duality, advaita, = not two*, is usually reduced to ‘oneness’, which is another form of Monism. Buddhists do not postulate Monism or any ultimate reality. They postulate advaya, = not two.
Quoting the definition by an Indian scholar Jaldhar Vyas:
“Although both Jnana are called non-dual, here too they mean two different
things. Non-dual (advaita) in the Hindu context means (divitiyam nasti).
There is no second substance except the Brahman is the only thing that
exists. This should be called Monism rather than Non-dualism. The word eka
vastu vada would be closer than advaita. However Buddhism usually uses advaya (only sometimes is advaita used) and here it means ‘not two’ i.e. free from the two extremes (skt. dvaya anta mukta) of samaropa (the tendency to see things as really existing) and apavada (the tendency to see things as non-existing).”
Think it over, a bit.
I’m not arguing which is right, but, we are getting away from the postulating of consciousness. There is simply no way to separate consciousness from phenomena. Science cannot do it, and the philosophical or religious mind can’t do it. They only postulate a thought structure. But you seem to insist on this being a fact of life instead of something to really contemplate deeply. The urge to believe is phenomenally strong in us, so much so, that we allow what others have put forth to inform/influence us how to live and what to think that we are not facing what we actually are. Science has clearly shown that we are just looking through filters of what we know/believe and interpreting the sensory data that is hitting the brain. We interpret through imagery and language which is all learned/stored in the brain. It is just information that the brain sifts through and comes up with probabilities. Where is ultimate reality in this? Certainly not through another belief system.
It’s a difficult subject, all of this. I don’t expect any perfect explanation from you or anyone else, so please don’t feel that you have to argue to a conclusion. This is not personal.
*Sorry, one correction please: advaita = not two is incorrect. advaita=nonduality is what I meant. Not two and nondual actually mean different things in the two schools mentioned, which I gave a quote from Vyas.