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The Problem of Consciousness

 
 
Zetherin
 
  1  
Reply Sat 26 Sep, 2009 08:39 pm
@paulhanke,
paulhanke;93815 wrote:
... but doesn't the phenomenological concept of intersubjectivity imply the existence of something beyond one's self? - i.e., the experiencing of an object as another subject like yourself, and the ability for you to intend (in the absent sense) the perceptual profiles of an object that that subject is experiencing based upon the perceptual profiles of that same object as you yourself are intending it (in the present sense)? ...


Can you reiterate? I don't understand.

I thought intersubjectivity was a phenomenological concept which suggested that your "subjective" experience of an object or thing was like that of other "subjective" experiences (other people experiencing). For instance, if most people agreed on the ontological properties of a chair, we could say there is intersubjectivity regarding the chair. The meaning of a word could be another example. Is this not correct?
ACB
 
  1  
Reply Sun 27 Sep, 2009 05:10 am
@Pangloss,
Pangloss;93820 wrote:
Brain imaging techniques cannot read minds. They can be used to make somewhat reliable predictions about a person's general emotional or mental state, but no, you can't just hook someone up and see their thoughts. :eek:


But can they only make predictions? Can they give information about a person's current mental state, which can be corroborated by that person? And if so, to what level of detail?
richrf
 
  1  
Reply Sun 27 Sep, 2009 08:15 am
@ACB,
ACB;93842 wrote:
But can they only make predictions? Can they give information about a person's current mental state, which can be corroborated by that person? And if so, to what level of detail?


There may be a correlation but the correlation is induced by series of questions and answers between the subject and object, in which the two attempt to find some agreeable grammar to describe the image, feeling, emotion or whatever consciousness is experiencing. During this exchange:

1) Everything is approximate

2) The questioner is affect the responses of the subject being questioned, thereby affecting the consciousness of the subject. It becomes an entangled mess, as the subject attempts to related the nature of his/her consciousness.

For all practical purposes, there is only one person who can understand one's own consciousness, and that is the subject. Everything else then becomes a matter of crude translation based upon how it is being communicated or transmitted.

Rich
0 Replies
 
paulhanke
 
  1  
Reply Sun 27 Sep, 2009 07:57 pm
@Zetherin,
Zetherin;93821 wrote:
Can you reiterate? I don't understand.

I thought intersubjectivity was a phenomenological concept which suggested that your "subjective" experience of an object or thing was like that of other "subjective" experiences (other people experiencing). For instance, if most people agreed on the ontological properties of a chair, we could say there is intersubjectivity regarding the chair. The meaning of a word could be another example. Is this not correct?


... yep, that's another way to describe it ... but since de Silentio is studying Husserl, I decided to use the jargon of phenomenology and phrase the description in terms of the first-person experience of intersubjectivity (i.e., what it's like to experience another experiencing subject) ... (sorry for the confusion!) ...
0 Replies
 
paulhanke
 
  1  
Reply Mon 28 Sep, 2009 10:33 am
@ACB,
ACB;93842 wrote:
And if so, to what level of detail?


... neuro-phenomenologists are attempting to take it down to the level of detail of the individual subject via phenomenological methods ... e.g., "The subjects are asked to provide a description of their own experience using open-question format, and thus without the imposition of pre-determined theoretical categories. They are trained to gain intimacy with their own experience in the domain of investigation. The descriptive categories are intersubjectively and scientifically validated and used to interpret results that correlate with objective measurements of behavior and brain activity." (Gallagher and Zahavi, "The Phenomenological Mind") ... that is, rather than forcing each subject to conform to some "objective" ontology of experience, a uniquely personal ontology of experience is uncovered for each subject prior to any trials ...
0 Replies
 
Zetherin
 
  1  
Reply Mon 28 Sep, 2009 10:58 am
@BrightNoon,
paulhanke wrote:

what it's like to experience another experiencing subject


By this you mean, for example, I myself experiencing another subject (person) experiencing the chair (or anything else)?

That's actually an interesting thought I've never really delved into. I guess that book you just suggested in your last post would be a good place for me to develop this idea?
paulhanke
 
  1  
Reply Mon 28 Sep, 2009 12:58 pm
@Zetherin,
Zetherin;94072 wrote:
By this you mean, for example, I myself experiencing another subject (person) experiencing the chair (or anything else)?

That's actually an interesting thought I've never really delved into. I guess that book you just suggested in your last post would be a good place for me to develop this idea?


... actually, if you're relatively new to the jargon and concepts of phenomenology ("time consciousness" stands out as a brain-twister), Sokolowski's "Introduction to Phenomenology" is a decent follow-up to the brief outlines you'll find on the web ... Gallagher and Zahavi's "The Phenomenological Mind" is more about applying phenomenology and its methods in the philosophy and science of mind ...
0 Replies
 
BrightNoon
 
  1  
Reply Mon 5 Oct, 2009 08:48 pm
@TickTockMan,
BrightNoon;89104 wrote:
First, let me address a methodological issue.



Kielicious, and other materialists in the thread:

If you require scientific/empiric evidence of any claim made, it is impossible for anyone who does not share your materialist conception of consicousness to debate with you. To require that sort of evidence assumes already that consciousness is purely a biological problem. It's like asking someone to provide evidence that x does not equal 2 in 2x=4, only using the basic rules of algebra. The debate is about whether those rules are appropriate, i.e. about whether consciousness is in fact a biological problem, or some other sort of problem, and then of course what the solution is.


I didn't think my above comment would ignite so much controversy; let me explain exactly what I meant. First, I placed no restrictions on what topics could be discussed or what sorts of could be arguments presented in this thread, so long as they pertained to the 'problem of consciousness,' which is of course a vaguely defined and potentially enormous subject. My only request was that the term 'consciousness' itself be used and understood as defined in my first post. The above comment was directed at anyone who I felt was willing to accept and consider only empiric evidence, primarily from neuroscience, in the course of debating 'the problem of consciousness,' and who (most importantly) did not seem to be concerned with any sort of justification for preferring that sort of evidence. If only arguments based on empiric evidence are acceptable, and the question is more or less 'what sort of problem is consciousness,' then the question has already been answered. In other words, those who would consider only the empiric arguments, and who criticized all other sorts of arguments only because they lacked empiric evidence, had already decided that consciousness was a problem for science, to the exclusion of other perspectives.


paulhanke;89108 wrote:
... yes, but it still seems a bit odd to me to assume an external world where if both of us are structurally similar and equipped with similar "perspectives" yet the external world is pure chaos that if I hold up what I perceive to be an apple and ask you what it is that I am holding that you would respond by saying "an apple", as at that moment you could cutting up the chaos into a circus elephant


Some people might respond with 'a circus elephant.' That I would call what you're holding an apple proves only that you and I are more similar to one another structurally than either of us are to the weird fellow who calls it a circus elephant.

Quote:
(let alone could you respond at all, as whatever it is that we intersubjectively perceive as sound waves wouldn't be there for the intersubjective perceiving, either)


Remember, I'm not saying that 'what we intersubjectively perceive as sound waves' isn't there. I'm saying that that 'what' cannot be conceived or spoken of except in anthropogenic terms. When I speak the phrase 'sound waves' or think of the word and experience a mental image, I am not experiencing something which exists objectively, i.e. external to experience. If 'sound waves' existed in the external world, it wouldn't be the external world any longer; external means external to experience. So while there is presumably something 'between us' so to speak, something in the external world, which is allowing us ot communicate, it cannot by definition be 'sound waves,' as sound waves is a concept in the experienced world, yours and mine. And our concepts of them probably differ slightly. Just as our conceptions of apple differ slightly, because we are very similar, but slightly different things you and I.

Quote:
... it also seems a bit odd to me to assume an external world where "structural similarity" can be coherent with "a lack of order entirely" - that is, how can you, as part of my external world and thus being nothing but chaos, bear any structural similarity to me? ... it seems much more coherent to me that if one is going to bother assuming an external world at all that one would assume an external world in which objective order allows for structural similarity, intersubjectivity, and communication, than to assume an external world in which a lack of order entirely leads one to right back to solipsism ...


We have agreed to accept the assumption that there exists an external world. The problem is that it is impossible for us to conceive of something which does not have properties derived from experience (shape e.g.). So we have no answer to the question, 'what is the nature of a thing in the external world, such as you or I? I assert that you and I (as things in the external world) are more similar to each other than to other things, and thus we live in similar phenomenological worlds. But by what criteria can I say that we are similar? We can only compare things in terms of their phenomenological properties (e.g, shape), and things in the external world have no such properties. Therefore, when I say that you and I are similar, relative other things, I am making an assumption: like we did in saying that an external world exists in the first place. That's unsatisfying, but anything else wouldn't be true. It's nothing more than an assumption based on what we might call 'common sense': like that which compels us to believe (in absence of proof) in the external world.

So again, to reiterate, it's not that you and I don't have structures, aren't existent things in the external world. We assume we do and are. We simply cannot conceive of the nature of these things, just as we cannot conceive of the nature of the thing in the external world to which we attach the concept 'sound wave.' And furthermore, it isn't an absence of knowledge or technology which prevents us from understanding the nature of things in the external world. If by 'nature' we mean properties like a chair or tree has, then indeed these things have no nature; they are by definition not defined by experience-derived concepts and terms. So we can't speak of a specific structure that is common to you or I, with reference to any properties derived from experience, but we can still assume that we have the same nature, or structure, or whatever other general term you want to use.


KaseiJin;89519 wrote:
I have looked over, and over, and thought about and analyzed the demand in BrightNoon's #135, and cannot help at all but to see something wrong with it.

...Third person experience is observable. It is presently not experienceable


What does it mean to observe an experience? For example, Bob may have the experience of dancing, while Molly has the experience of observing Bob dancing. Molly is not observing the experience which is that which Bob has while dancing. These are two separate 1st person experiences.

Quote:
The solipsistic proposition is very faulty; I can demonstrate that clearly by showing that I am not a figment of BrightNoon's brain content alone, and that he is a totally different entity from either of us posting here (and we most clearly all have full consciousness by standard definition, or we wouldn't be posting when we are posting).


That proposition is faulty. You can demonstrate that you are conscious (i.e. independent of my phenomenological world) to whom? To me? No. If not to me, then indeed you have not disproved the solipsist proposition. Furthermore, people need to understand that solipsism doesn't necessarily mean that a person believes there is nothing external to their experiences. I certainly don't believe that. I for one consistently refer to some sort of solipsist logic not to prove that everything is a part of my consciousness with no independent life, but rather as part of this or that logical investigation, to analyze the nature of consciousness. By analogy, I can study Greek mythology in order to better understand the mind of man, but I don't have to believe in it. The solipsist proposition is a tool only (for me anyway) and shouldn't be rejected out of hand just because it's so unnatural and contrary to common sense; and as I said, it cannot be disproved.


de Silentio;93680 wrote:
While I will conform to the definition of consciousness as "the sum of all experience", I will also add that that definition is quite ambiguous. For instance, I would interpret "the sum of all experience" as that which I am currently experiencing. Whether it be my perception of "real, physical" things or my memory of said things, or even my feelings or fantasies of these real things (real things as that which is generally excepted as "being in front of me as an actual existing object or the potential of being a real, existing object).


I would agree. I chose this definition precisely because it makes no distinction whatsoever between 'real' or 'imaginary' experiences, nor between present experiences and memories; in short, because it makes no reference to any fixed external standard of any kind.

Quote:
However, my argument here is against your definition of consciousness. I currently involved in working out the text of Husserl's Ideas I. In it there is the basic principle of "intentionality", not an idea coined by him, but one that relies on. Intentionality is our conscious relationship to the objects of experience (be they "real" objects or "essences" of real individual things). Consciousness is always consciousness-of something. Thus there is always a correlation between the act of conscioussness and the content of that act. For, there can be no act without content, nor content without an act.


Why the division into content and act? Yes, indeed, once you divide the two then they are inseparable, but why divide at all? Nietzsche would offer the analogous error of dividing force from objects in physics, or cause from effect. There is only action, or becoming, or whatever you like to call it; it is singular. The division is only necessary in order to be able to think and speak about the singular action. In order to understand, describe, explain, etc. it is necessary to divide the monism into parts, in terms of which the whole can then be understood, described, explained, etc. But the divisions are arbitrary.

Quote:
So, what is the relationship between consciousness and the real world: In order to experience the 'real world', the objects of the real world have to be correlated with an act of the consciousness of the individual person having that experience.

In answer to question 2:

We shouldn't make that assumption. When any philosophy does, that assumption immediately undermines their entire philosophy. Why? Because it is an assumption.


Doesn't your explanation of 'the relationship between consciousness and the real world' make just that assumption? Simply by referring to the 'real world?'

Quote:
Hefty claim. How can you experience "the sense itself" when sensing requires an act and content? Experience "the sense itself" would be experiencing the sense of seeing, not what is seen.



I should have used the term 'sensation' in place of 'sense,' as I meant to refer to what you might call the content of sensing, not the act itself without content. But, again, I recognize no distinction between an act of sensing and that content which is sensed. Do we experience such a distinction? Is not my act of sensing always exactly the same as the content of that act? When have I sensed without sensing something, or experienced a sensation without having sensed it? As you say, never, the content and the act are inseparable. I would argue further that they are one and the same.

Thanks for your response
0 Replies
 
 

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