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what is "consciousness"?

 
 
Reply Sat 19 Dec, 2009 03:30 pm
“It is my consciousness that provides the theatre where my experiences and thoughts have their existence”- this seems to imply that “consciousness” contains all my thoughts and experiences, as if there are my thoughts and experiences, and then there is consciousness, which is needed for those things to exist at all.

This almost implies that consciousness is something over and above my thoughts and experiences; that it is something that is at the centre of all thoughts and experiences. I think it’s mistaken to think of “consciousness” as a thing that can be defined, in the same way that objects in the world are defined. You cannot just be “conscious” without being conscious of something.

I think its easy to be fooled by the normal ways that talk about “consciousness”; as soon as we label an object in the content of our consciousness, we sometimes think that it’s no longer part of consciousness. This process seems to lead us to “consciousness itself”, the irreducibly subjective aspect of consciousness. However, it is correct to speak of “consciousness itself”, without any form of content?
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Type: Discussion • Score: 6 • Views: 10,951 • Replies: 175
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vikorr
 
  1  
Reply Sat 19 Dec, 2009 07:59 pm
@existential potential,
Consciousness has many aspects, and just is.

The problem I see with it is that most people are unaware (ie unconscious) of the degree of influence that the subconscious and semi-conscious (the only word that I can think of that allows you to explain over hours what you decided to do in a split second) plays in 'conscious' decision making....ie people say we are aware, when in reality, most of it's pre-programmed to react certain ways, use certain phrases, feel certain emotions, go for certain goals, etc.

I'm not sure what we are purely conscious of, and I don't think it truly matters.
0 Replies
 
Cyracuz
 
  1  
Reply Sun 20 Dec, 2009 03:47 pm
@existential potential,
Consciousness is not a stage set for life to happen.
It is a spark swimming in darkness, creating its reality from what it can illuminate.
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Ashers
 
  1  
Reply Mon 21 Dec, 2009 07:23 pm
@existential potential,
I->think->colour red
Subject->relation->object

I->think->(I->think->colour red)
Subject->relation->object

So the original process, is itself, now objectified. Hence why consciousness is considered as housing thoughts. But the object is not the process, only a pointer to that which cannot be held.

Quote:
The tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao. The name that can be named is not the eternal Name.


That's how it seems to me anyway.
Cyracuz
 
  1  
Reply Sun 3 Jan, 2010 09:56 am
@Ashers,
Explorin the idea of self consciousness quickly becomes a tangle of concepts relating to concepts within still other concepts.

There are concepts of objects; defined things that carry their own meaning.

Then there are concepts of interaction or relation; think, view, and so on.

But all these concepts are contained by the self conscious entity. They are as much part of the consciousness we seek to describe as the world we apply it to.
Logically, there can be no distinction. The dinstinctions we make between events in our inner experience and the distinctions we make in what we observe are all in reality projections of the observing consciousness.

So I would say that any consciousness is the total sum of everything it is aware of consciously and sub-consciously.
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VSPrasad
 
  1  
Reply Fri 8 Jan, 2010 12:42 am
Possibly the most challenging and pervasive source of problems in the whole of philosophy. Our own consciousness seems to be the most basic fact confronting us, yet it is almost impossible to say what consciousness is. Is mine like yours? Is ours like that of animals? Might machines come to have consciousness? Is it possible for there to be disembodied consciousness? Whatever complex biological and neural processes go on backstage, it is my consciousness that provides the theatre where my experiences and thoughts have their existence, where my desires are felt and where my intentions are formed. But then how am I to conceive the ‘I’, or self that is the spectator, or at any rate the owner of this theatre? These problems together make up what is sometimes called ‘the hard problem’ of consciousness. One of the difficulties in thinking about consciousness is that the problems seem not to be scientific ones; Leibniz remarked that if we could construct a machine that could think and feel, and blow it up to the size of a mill and thus be able to examine its working parts as thoroughly as we pleased, we would still not find consciousness (Monadology, para. 17), and drew the conclusion that consciousness resides in simple subjects, not complex ones. Even if we are convinced that consciousness somehow emerges from the complexity of brain functioning, we may still feel baffled about the way the emergence takes place, or why it takes place in just the way it does.

The nature of conscious experience has been the largest single obstacle to physicalism, behaviourism, and functionalism in the philosophy of mind: these are all views that according to their opponents, can only be believed by feigning permanent anaesthesia. But many philosophers are convinced that we can divide and conquer: we may make progress not by thinking of one ‘hard’ problem, but by breaking the subject up into different skills and recognizing that rather than a single self or observer we would do better to think of a relatively undirected whirl of cerebral activity, with no inner theatre, no inner lights, and above all no inner spectator.

http://www.answers.com/topic/consciousness
0 Replies
 
Cyracuz
 
  1  
Reply Thu 14 Jan, 2010 07:11 pm
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s42mrdhKwRA

"Consciousness is the ground of our being being."
According to quantum physics we can make sense of the world only if we base the world on consciousness. Exciting.
JLNobody
 
  1  
Reply Sat 23 Jan, 2010 03:12 pm
@Cyracuz,
I seems to me that sensations, thoughts and feelings do not exist WITHIN a state of conscious. Such sensations, thoughts and feelings (and more, of course) ARE consciousness.
Now granted we have them in both waking and sleeping states. I guess this just means (within my framework at least) that we are conscious (to various degrees) most of the time.
Cyracuz
 
  1  
Reply Mon 25 Jan, 2010 03:49 pm
@JLNobody,
But may it not be that consciousness is a realm unto itself?
It could be that our consciousness isn't a phenomenon molded by physical evolution, but that our physical existence is a phenomenon of consciousness.

In terms of what a human being is I think it's fair to say that consciousness is a much more defining trait than our physical appearance. Or in other words, we are inherently more conscious than material.

I think that consciousness itself never came from anything material. I do believe that physical evolution has altered how my consciousness manifests to a creature like me, and that it alters it still. But it is guided by consciousness. From something crude and relatively unaware of anything but it's immediate surroundings it grew to abstract realms that can encompass vast concepts. Existence, evolution, the physical world, they are all side effects of this initial consciousness growing.

So in a way the universe itself is conscious. It is consciousness. That would make me it's fantasy, but at the core of it, the universe is just one big thought.
Pemerson
 
  1  
Reply Mon 25 Jan, 2010 04:04 pm
@Cyracuz,
If everybody on the planet thought one thought at the same time with very genuine feeling, that thought would come about? Was that how the Walls of Jerrico were brought down? The Tower of Babel built?
Cyracuz
 
  1  
Reply Mon 25 Jan, 2010 05:13 pm
@Pemerson,
I don't know about walls or towers, but it's safe to say that our feelings, thoughts and opinions are factors in deciding what is generally accepted as true and real.
Hasn't history shown us that if everyone agrees on something it is truth. But as consciousness alters, so does reality and truth. Reality is meaningless without consciousness. If a tree fell and there was no one there.... You find it lying there, but no one observed as it fell. So how did it happen? There isn't one reality, on way it happened. There are only all the possible ways it could have happened. Without the observer present there is only probability.
0 Replies
 
MattTravis
 
  1  
Reply Tue 16 Mar, 2010 01:22 am
Concousness is the ability to feel, to think beyond anamalistic nature by definition. But we are driven by anamalistic nature and are too arrigant to look this fact straight in the face. Humans probably are not the consious species, but they are the only one that can feel arrigance. Sorry everyone about spelling Arrigance wrong, I can't remember how these days.
Cyracuz
 
  1  
Reply Tue 16 Mar, 2010 09:32 am
@MattTravis,
Consciousness is existence, plain and simple. A good question is; does that statement hold true if you reverse it and say "existence is consciousness"?
MattTravis
 
  1  
Reply Wed 17 Mar, 2010 02:01 pm
@Cyracuz,
Existence as we know is not conscousness, bacteria is designed like a computor program to do what it was made to do. Truly the ultimate conscousness is the ability feel, to think, without these, we are more than unconsious, we are dead.
Cyracuz
 
  1  
Reply Wed 17 Mar, 2010 02:51 pm
@MattTravis,
Maybe a human is designed like a computer program to do what it was made to do.
Pemerson
 
  1  
Reply Wed 17 Mar, 2010 03:22 pm
@Cyracuz,
Our level of consciousness is according to our level of existence, no? We can be driven by animalistic wants & desires, but we can rise above that level. Raise our consciousness level to be more caring about people, animals, any and everything that shares our planet. Consciousness of course can be raised much, much higher than we can even imagine.

How would you describe someone who has a high consciousness level? Can they make themselves float around a room, or what? Are they just better people, serving others?
0 Replies
 
Pemerson
 
  1  
Reply Fri 19 Mar, 2010 05:49 pm
@Cyracuz,
Cyracuz, sorry, didn't mean to be so flippant. I've been studying up on this subject a bit and this is what I've come up with. We all talk about that word all the time without knowing the extent it is defined.

Of course it can be defined as the root of existence, yet as this root has been detached in innumerous human beings from the earth that fed it, symbolically speaking, it is left like the parasite plants feeding on the life of other species and other trees to them.

This explains why many people have lost the memory of their own days - memories of innumerable experiences of which valuale lessons could have been extracted and which could have served for future reference. But since they were lived with total absence of a consciousness state, they were lost and nothing was retained of them.

A totally different scenario occurs when the conscience, the root of existence, is nurtured by all the elements offered by Creation from which the conscience itself has emerged. Past events live in the present as if attracted by life in a way that not even the smallest detail, deemed useful to it in future performances, is forgotten.

As a tree that has lived for thousands of years cannot give testimony on everything that has occurred throughout these eras, in contrast, man, who is a witness to the facts that take place throughout his life, can retain a clear memory of everything surrounding his existence and also have the ability to describe these facts.

Animated by the cognitions registered in it, the conscience is proportionally generous to the calls of the intelligence helping it remember what it needs as man's achievements in cultivating knowledge become richer.

For example, if one man has spent his life doing nothing nor thinking about anything, and another who during the same number of years has cultivated his spirit by thinking and accmplishing many things, we could read into what both these lives tell us. We would find that in the first one nothing was registered as if it had not existed, while in the latter we would find printed in indelible characters his thoughts and achievements.

Is that better?
Cyracuz
 
  1  
Reply Sat 20 Mar, 2010 06:32 am
@Pemerson,
As I understand it your thoughts relate to the various concepts of consciousness in interaction with matter within the conceptual framework we call reality.

But the idea I have begun exploring sees all of this, physical matter included, as aspects of a reality that can be explained only if consciousness is at it's very foundation.
This trail of thought has lots to say about the way we see reality on a day to day basis, but does not relate directly to the particulars of one individual's sense of consciousness. It does however show that this conceptual system of meaning is entirely illusory.
0 Replies
 
Pemerson
 
  1  
Reply Sat 20 Mar, 2010 07:48 pm
@Cyracuz,
This is only the way in which one can learn, eventually raising the consciousness to what it is capable of being, so that the human can do what it was made to do. Which is, I would assume, to live from (or become) the spirit.
Cyracuz
 
  1  
Reply Wed 24 Mar, 2010 10:53 am
@Pemerson,
Whatever will happen I think our definition of reality and consciousness is very important, because it is the foundation on which we create our values. And if we are ever to win out over the self centered and detatched sense of self that rules us today we are in need of some fundamental changes to our value system.
0 Replies
 
 

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