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This report is taken from PN Review 192, Volume 36 Number 4, March - April 2010.

A Rant from the Writing Fellow Frank Kuppner

‘Well, no, actually, there is something which I think is intellectually even more destructive - the sort of view, unless I’m misremembering it badly, which one finds in Wordsworth’s massively acclaimed, Gold Medal-winning masterpiece, “Ode, Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood”. Certainly it’s taken completely for granted in a great many religious and spiritual world-views. I seem to remember that it’s absolutely central to Mormonism, for instance - this idea of the permanently self-preëxisting self. Always been somewhere there or thereabouts. It may even be a sort of common sense, automatic, first-attempt assumption of the present-day mind as such - a necessary or inevitable corollary of being an individual entity with a self-aware brain in, as it were, the first place. Which is I assume, after all those millions of years of incremental, convoluted, slow, incrementally convoluted development, pretty much what we all are who are now bursting humanly if not humanely out upon the poor, defenceless universe. No?

‘It provides a very natural base for innumerable impressively profound misconceptions, does it not? Our consciousness inevitably places us right at the centre of the World. In fact, it’s impossible to see how consciousness, certainly in the even more advanced version (i.e. self-consciousness), could ever do anything else. Isn’t that just what it is? This here point in space-time is where this here awareness has evolved and blossomed out. Of course it seems central. To itself it is central. (Could any perceptual system be, as it ...

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