The word 'inherent' means independent. Something that does not depend on anything else. Particularly in this case, something that does not rely on thought.
How would I know if something was like this? Not dependent on anything else? If my goal is to "find using the senses" all that is really found is images, sounds, sensations, smells, tastes. How do I know if the images are dependent on anything? Are the images dependent on the objects out there in the world that are reflecting light? Obviously I'm not aware of the light being reflected, that's just what I've been taught, so I don't have any real engagement with anything which indicates that the images are dependent on anything. These images, as a matter of experience, don't depend on anything. They never go away and even though the specific content of the images might depend on certain things (I can move my head etc) images in general are non-negotiable.
I'm tempted to say that the images depend on me
, for with no seer there would be no images per se
. But I know you will ask me about this seer, and I will have to answer that the seer is a concept used to explain, or make sense of, the fact of there being any experience at all. Direct engagement with the self (finding a self with the senses) is just exactly the same as direct engagement with anything at all, is it not? By being aware of anything - by anything being experienced at all - isn't that the experiencer, the self, being known by default? Being experienced?
True enough, there's no one part of all this experience that is the
part, no one piece that I can point to and say "There he is!". But I don't understand why there needs to be when this condition that exists right here and now is undeniable, and this condition is all that I mean when I talk about a self. Right?
True enough, nothing that I find is found to be experiencing. Not even other people. They're just found to be moving and making noises, just like trees and pebbles and whatever else. But experiencing is
happening (as long as we don't screw up the definitions, and experiencing means what it usually means) and that is the most obvious thing in the universe. Descartes said it best, right?
When I watch somebody else's hand touch a table, I can't sense that their hand is feeling the table, or that there's any experience there at all. Looking at my
hand touching a table, I can't see that the hand is feeling, or hear it feeling, or smell it feeling, or taste it feeling ... but I can
feel the table. I can't tell that there's any experience going on there with any of the other
senses, but as opposed to the example of somebody else's hand on the table, if it's my
hand, experience is obviously happening. You will ask me '"what is experiencing this sensation? Can it be found?". It can't be found independent of the touch sensation. With no sensations or images or experience whatsoever, there would be no self! It's true! That would just be unconsciousness and in unconsciousness there's no evidence of a self or of an experiencer. An experiencer without experience is nothing at all; it doesn't make sense because with nothing being experienced you've just got nothingness on your hands - something indistinguishable from what's going on with a tree or a pebble.
So I would say that the sense of self - the feeling that there's a self here - is not independent, but rather precisely dependent on there being stuff experienced. There couldn't be 'feeling a self' without 'feeling' in general. And it's not only the case that 'feeling' is a necessary condition for the feeling of a self, but that it's a sufficient condition, I think. Whenever you've got feeling of any kind, you've got a self. Regardless of whether or not you've got the language capacity to put it into words, the fundamental sense of being a self here right now is probably there in all conscious creatures, I would have thought, and only
because they're conscious at all.
Thank you for your patience, by the way.