The Immaterial Structure of Human Experience

Lorettatollefso_frontThe Immaterial Structure of Human Experience is a philosophical work, a system. It is a quest into the workings of the human mind from the perspective of epistemology and philosophy of mind. Focusing on human experience from a subjective point of view, it does not attempt the kind of empirical approach which would be centered in the senses, as would be the case with one of the sciences.

Instead, the book argues that although we experience our conscious awareness as enclosed within and conditioned by material circumstances, it can best be understood as an immediate and instantaneous expression of spirit.

This immaterialist approach has two goals. First, to establish a broadened empiricism that includes and is centered upon the experience of consciousness, and second, to demonstrate the priority of spirit over matter. It is a new approach to the question, “How do we know what we know?”

Author information:

George Lowell Tollefson, a former philosophy professor, lives in New Mexico and writes on the subject of philosophy.

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Excerpt from Section 3: The System

31. Some preliminary concepts concerning how the mind works. This book is an attempt to develop a project in which a firm connection may be established between mind and matter. Accordingly, it begins with two philosophically idealist assumptions. These are: (1) mind in its fundamental character is spirit and (2) all that is known of matter is that which occurs within mind.

Matter is often conceived as that which a human being experiences through his senses. But a human being’s perceptual capacity, as well as his powers of imagination, abstraction, and conceptualization, require the experience of spirit. For it is the experience of spirit which makes these faculties possible. Spirit, understood in this sense, is what is generally referred to as consciousness, or awareness.

An experience of spirit is not simply a capacity for being conscious, but must also involve an awareness of the character of consciousness. Such an awareness of the character of consciousness—i.e., an immediate and non-conceptual apprehension of the fundamental properties of consciousness—produces an intuition which accompanies and makes mental phenomena possible. For this intuition is a sense of simple unity, which must lie at the foundation of all thought and of all but the most primitive perceptions. Thus this intuition is prior to and necessary for any form of figural representation or conceptualization to take place in the mind.

Accordingly . . .

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