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The Problem of Consciousness

 
 
Pathfinder
 
  1  
Reply Tue 1 Sep, 2009 05:09 am
@BrightNoon,
Jeeprs is ready to follow my line of reasoning.

Both creatures using the same organ and biological mechanisms are seeing what is being transmitted on their little tv screens in the back of an organ in the head. I will leave it up to you brainiacs to come up with the proper name for that.

Neither are actually seeing the actual tree, nor can they. What they are seeing is the light reflected off of the tree and translated by their brain into an image of what may or may not be in front of them.

There is nothing that either of them can do to alter the reality of that tree being there, or what it actually is. Should some mishap cause the brain to interpret the image differently, THAT will be what they will think they see, but the tree will remain exactly what it really is, despite their biological interpretation of it.

A tree is a tree is a tree is a tree! Whether the being looking at it is a man, monkey, mouse or insect. The world is the world with the same determination. We can interact with it by plucking its leaves and fluttering through its atmosphere and sailing across its seas. But what it is, it is!

So the two creatures are biologically observing what is there in front of them. The reality of what is there before them has nothing whatsoever to do with consciousness. The fact that their brain is able to translate light reflection into an image is not consciousness, it is merely a biological ability/ function. The dynamics within that biological process and the details of how it takes place is not consciousness.

Consciousness reveals itself in the fact that, over and above the picture being devised by the brain on the little viewing screen, a being is able to FURTHER interpret that image, and calculate what it might be, and intelligently speculate and theorize about its environment and possible interaction with them and their shared surrounding. It is in that FURTHER ability that consciousness is revealed. So in that definition we see that there is therefore a propensity for varying degrees of consciousness from creature to creature.

Even though the biological brain functions between the man and the chimp are pretty much exactly the same, we cannot say that the consciousness is the same. Both are conscious of it, but certainly not to the same degree. Both are using the brain to see an image inside their heads that shows them a constructed build of reflected light. We call the image we see a tree. Who knows what the chimp calls it in his mind, (Pretty brown and green lights that stand up straight?).

Can we agree on that at this point?
Aedes
 
  1  
Reply Tue 1 Sep, 2009 05:17 am
@richrf,
richrf;87152 wrote:
Then there is the universal consciousness which is the sum of the experience of all of the individual consciousnesses.
If you believe that such a thing is legitimate, then you must also believe in an infinite number of permutations of consciousness. For instance, there is my individual consciousness, there is the individual consciousness of Pee-Wee Herman, and there is the sum of the experience of me and Pee-Wee Herman. Or there is the summed collective experience of Silvio Berlusconi and the fruit fly in my kitchen.

But I personally have to hold to the belief that consciousness requires a single central-processing agent. And without invoking God or some analagous concept, it's hard for me to accept that all individual consciousnesses can be "summed".
jeeprs
 
  1  
Reply Tue 1 Sep, 2009 05:37 am
@ACB,
ACB;87250 wrote:
If the external world does not really exist, doesn't that make my experiences solipsistic? Nobody else has any real existence outside my consciousness. I exist directly, but everyone else exists only in a kind of derivative sense. Isn't that the implication?

If there is not an objective external reality, how can there be perspectives?


I will answer this from what I now understand to be a 'cognitivist' perspective.

What both these questions are trying to come to terms with is the 'objective external reality' or 'what is really there'. It is natural to think, that if reality is constructed as an act of consciousness, then 'reality' is only what 'I' see in 'my mind': so if I am asleep, or not looking, nothing exists.

I think the 'cognitivist' perspective is different to that. I think the meaning is that: reality is a construction of much more than just your thinking conscious self. It is an activity of your whole body-mind. You are not really ever able to imagine or contemplate the world apart from this construction of it. It is not the world 'in your mind'. Even the imagined non-existence of it - imagining it not being there - is part of that construction. You are never able to conjecture or contemplate anything other than that.

So what is 'really there' - reality - is not the world in itself, or the object in itself. The reality is your apperception-of-the-world which is much more complex and subtle than 'an idea that corresponds to a object'. It is neither objective or subjective.

And this is where a lot of the confusion lies - trying to understand reality as 'completely objective' - a given, the world just-so; or as subjective, something I create 'in my mind'. It isn't either, and so we kind of cyle between them. Objective and subjective are like 'poles' of experience within the structure of consciousness. They have no ultimate reality - there is no ultimate subject (because the self is a construction) and no ultimate object (because all objects are contingent).

So this concept that 'the world is all in your mind' is really a caricature.

Generally the basic stance in the Forum is naive realism - the world is really there, and ideas are more-or-less accurate representations of what is really there. It is common sense after all. It is how everyone sees things. But this is the "cartesian model" to which Merleau Ponty presents an alternative, which is cognitivism.

A note from the Wikipedia article on Merleau Ponty:

Quote:
Anticognitivist cognitive science

Despite Merleau-Ponty's own critical position with respect to science - he describes scientific points of view as "always both naive and at the same time dishonest" in his Preface to the Phenomenology - his work has become a touchstone for the "anti-cognitivist" strands of cognitive science, largely through the influence of Hubert Dreyfus.

Dreyfus's seminal critique of cognitivism (or the computational account of the mind), What Computers Can't Do, consciously replays Merleau-Ponty's critique of intellectualist psychology to argue for the irreducibility of corporeal know-how to discrete, syntactic processes. Through the influence of Dreyfus's critique, and neurophysiological alternative, Merleau-Ponty became associated with neurophysiological, connectionist accounts of cognition.

With the publication in 1991 of The Embodied Mind
Source
0 Replies
 
richrf
 
  1  
Reply Tue 1 Sep, 2009 08:33 am
@Aedes,
Aedes;87289 wrote:
If you believe that such a thing is legitimate, then you must also believe in an infinite number of permutations of consciousness.


I would suggest that it is similar to a hologram where waves are enfolded and unfolded, and yes, it can become very complicated. Part of what humans seem to do, is to try to bring some order to all of this complexity.

Rich
salima
 
  1  
Reply Tue 1 Sep, 2009 08:40 am
@ACB,
ACB;87250 wrote:
If the external world does not really exist, doesn't that make my experiences solipsistic? Nobody else has any real existence outside my consciousness. I exist directly, but everyone else exists only in a kind of derivative sense. Isn't that the implication?



If there is not an objective external reality, how can there be perspectives?
A perspective must by definition be of something. On the other hand, if there is an objective external reality, there is a logical contradiction if you maintain that a human's and a chimp's perspectives are different yet both 'accurate', since the same external world would then have to have two conflicting descriptions at the same time. Logically, there can be only one or no completely correct descriptions of external reality (if it exists), not more.


in answer to the first question, i would say that everyone and everything exists objectively but it is not possible for anyone to observe that objective reality because they would have to be outside the realm of our experience. the idea has been badly manipulated by people who arent really understanding it and want to use it to favor their own beliefs, such as the 'we create our own world' craze.

regarding the second qyestion, it is true that we are creating a world of our own in our consciousness, and it has to compete with every other world in the subjective experience of the other focal points. these perceptions of ours are all relative to each other and to the objective reality and are the basis for all the possible perspectives in any attempt at seeing a situation object or event in its entirety.

comparing how i see a tree and a chipmunk sees a tree is one thing, and it is easy to say 'ok, you see it your way and i see it my way'. but concepts of ethics or beauty are different.everything we perceive is influenced by everything we have already seen and anything we may have heard concerning it or relating to it, our physiology are not carbon copies of each other, there are so many deviations that it isnt possible for any two individuals to experience anything in exactly the same way.

---------- Post added 09-01-2009 at 08:14 PM ----------

Kielicious;87259 wrote:
It is the agent/organism. Just like perception implies a perciever, subjection implies a subject (i.e. that which is experiencing).

Why cant there be someone who sees the two as one and of the same? The brain in a specific state is the mind in a specific state. That would be why we have 'mind reading' machines that can interpret what you are thinking, and likewise why once your brain 'shutsdown' your mind does as well. Obviously, this doesnt sit well with the spiritualists and is perhaps the reason why there is such animosity on this subject?....

Social situations have massive influence on us whether we like it or not. What was once socially acceptable, is no longer. Likewise, when our views, values, whatever.... are in contrast with society it can change the way we think. Although, I think this is more of an ethical subject than dealing with the core issue of consciousness.


you dont see consciousness as anything other than an activity or process of the brain, would that be a correct interpretation of your position? what is this 'agent'? is this another name for the whole of the human body, and that is the subject of human subjective experience?


Originally Posted by salima
one party or camp sees consciousness as causing brain activity while the other sees brain activity as causing consciousness.
I think it is a contradiction to say that both can be true. also you have now mentioned 'mind' which is what, by your definition?"The brain in a specific state is the mind in a specific state. " if you want to say the brain and the mind are synonymous, two names for the same thing that is ok. but consciousness is experience. if consciousness is experience it cannot be synonymous with brain. brain is a physical measurable tangible object while consciousness by the definition we are using is not. can you clarify?


social mores are en ethical consideration of course. but humor would not be, would it? is humor entirely social? I see humor as coming from consciousness, it is a reaction to experience. so where is it produced? surely the brain makes us feel like laughing? do you see our views and values to be outside the realm of thought and produced by society's relationship to them? if not, and it is produced in the brain, how is that done and what is the evidence supporting that?
TickTockMan
 
  1  
Reply Tue 1 Sep, 2009 11:09 am
@richrf,
richrf;87152 wrote:

Then there is the universal consciousness which is the sum of the experience of all of the individual consciousnesses.
Rich

But is it this same universal consciousness, in your view, which is the sum of all consciousnesses, from which all consciousnesses also emerge? Like a cosmic recycling center? Flippancy aside, I'm curious how this works.


Aedes;87289 wrote:
. . . without invoking God or some analagous concept, it's hard for me to accept that all individual consciousnesses can be "summed".


Same here. The size of the abacus would have to be infinite.

richrf;87342 wrote:
I would suggest that it is similar to a hologram where waves are enfolded and unfolded, and yes, it can become very complicated. Part of what humans seem to do, is to try to bring some order to all of this complexity.
Rich


Complex to say the least. Chaotic even. I'm imagining an infinite number of monkeys, not penning Shakespeare, but rather designing the traffic grid for an infinitely large city with an infinitely large population of consciousnesses, each with its own idea of how things should be done, and meanwhile absorbing an infinite number of incoming consciousnesses while simultaneously spinning out an infinite number of new consciousnesses, and operating on an infinite timeline.

All things being equal, I'd rather be camping and perhaps looking out at the night sky and thinking that maybe stars are just stars.
richrf
 
  1  
Reply Tue 1 Sep, 2009 11:34 am
@TickTockMan,
TickTockMan;87411 wrote:
But is it this same universal consciousness, in your view, which is the sum of all consciousnesses, from which all consciousnesses also emerge? Like a cosmic recycling center? Flippancy aside, I'm curious how this works.


It is similar to the way a laser (light) would illuminate a hologram.

Bohm has some very interesting metaphysical ideas along these lines which he calls the Implicate Order.

This gives some ideas, though he describes his ideas better in his books:

Bohm's Implicate Order

Quote:
Same here. The size of the abacus would have to be infinite.


Infinities also come up in all physics equations. The notion of infinities are difficult to deal with and imagine, with a traditional space/time framework. But we do have quantum waves permeating the universe. It is difficult to conceive of what this all means.

TickTockMan;87411 wrote:
Complex to say the least. Chaotic even. Yes, but that seems to be the nature of the universe. Quantum waves spreading in all directions all of which are intersecting each other. And then there is Chaos Theory and seemingly random events. And consciousness seeking to build order and structure out of these events. And it is happening all the time.


From one's perspective it may seem incomprehensible, as would a hologram before it is lit. Just a lot of random waves. But then, when a laser is shined through it, it materializes as an image that makes sense.

TickTockMan;87411 wrote:
All things being equal, I'd rather be camping and perhaps looking out at the night sky and thinking that maybe stars are just stars.


Fair enough. Some may look at stars and see infinite disorganization. And others may see order within the chaos. It is consciousness at work in both cases.

Rich
TickTockMan
 
  1  
Reply Tue 1 Sep, 2009 12:43 pm
@richrf,
richrf;87419 wrote:
It is similar to the way a laser (light) would illuminate a hologram.

Bohm has some very interesting metaphysical ideas along these lines which he calls the Implicate Order.

This gives some ideas, though he describes his ideas better in his books:

Bohm's Implicate Order


Interesting, but this does not address the point of my initial curiosity, which was as follows:
TickTockMan;87411 wrote:
But is it this same universal consciousness, in your view, which is the sum of all consciousnesses, from which all consciousnesses also emerge? Like a cosmic recycling center? Flippancy aside, I'm curious how this works.


Perhaps my syntax was awkward. Let me try to rephrase what I am asking you to clarify for me.

You said that you believe in a Universal Consciousness, and further, that from this consciousness, each Individual Consciousness emerges. You also note that, in your view, Universal Consciousness is the sum of all Individual Consciousnesses. If this is accepted at face value are you, in fact, stating that all of our consciousnesses are recycled from older consciousnesses?

Thank you for your time,
Tock
richrf
 
  1  
Reply Tue 1 Sep, 2009 12:52 pm
@TickTockMan,
TickTockMan;87437 wrote:
You said that you believe in a Universal Consciousness, and further, that from this consciousness, each Individual Consciousness emerges. You also note that, in your view, Universal Consciousness is the sum of all Individual Consciousnesses. If this is accepted at face value are you, in fact, stating that all of our consciousnesses are recycled from older consciousnesses?

Thank you for your time,
Tock


I wouldn't say that our consciousness are recycling older consciousness. I think that the images are being refined and ordered for the purpose of memory. It seems like consciousness is constantly creating order out of disorder. Sort of like playing with blocks when we were children. Some creations be discarded for lack of use. As with a hologram, the smaller the fragment gets, the more blurred it gets. Some ideas, just fade way - like an old photograph.

Rich
TickTockMan
 
  1  
Reply Tue 1 Sep, 2009 01:56 pm
@richrf,
richrf;87439 wrote:
I wouldn't say that our consciousness are recycling older consciousness. I think that the images are being refined and ordered for the purpose of memory. It seems like consciousness is constantly creating order out of disorder. Sort of like playing with blocks when we were children. Some creations be discarded for lack of use. As with a hologram, the smaller the fragment gets, the more blurred it gets. Some ideas, just fade way - like an old photograph.

Rich


Like upgrading software, perhaps?

Regards,
TickTockMan ver. 8.2
richrf
 
  1  
Reply Tue 1 Sep, 2009 02:03 pm
@TickTockMan,
TickTockMan;87459 wrote:
Like upgrading software, perhaps?

Regards,
TickTockMan ver. 8.2


Could be. I think the physical is a manifestation of the more ethereal - our consciousness. One reflects the other.

Rich
TickTockMan
 
  1  
Reply Tue 1 Sep, 2009 02:50 pm
@richrf,
I'm getting really confused.

Earlier, in response to Brightnoon asking,

"... how can the world see the world (itself) through the lens of itself (the world)?"

You replied:

richrf;87221 wrote:

It cannot. It is like looking at one's own face. No matter how hard the individual conscious tries, it cannot see itself.


Yet later, you state:
richrf;87460 wrote:
I think the physical is a manifestation of the more ethereal - our consciousness. One reflects the other.


If it is impossible for consciousness to see itself, what is it that you are saying is being reflected? And if consciousness is indeed being reflected by the physical, how is it that it is not seeing itself?

I believe in an earlier post (#12) you also made some comment about how you "do not see separability in the world."

Yet I am reading your previous quote to indicate that consciousness and physicality are separate.

I hope I'm not just being obtuse, but can you see why I'm becoming increasingly baffled?
richrf
 
  1  
Reply Tue 1 Sep, 2009 03:27 pm
@TickTockMan,
TickTockMan;87470 wrote:
I'm getting really confused.

Earlier, in response to Brightnoon asking,

"... how can the world see the world (itself) through the lens of itself (the world)?"

You replied:



Yet later, you state:


If it is impossible for consciousness to see itself, what is it that you are saying is being reflected? And if consciousness is indeed being reflected by the physical, how is it that it is not seeing itself?

I believe in an earlier post (#12) you also made some comment about how you "do not see separability in the world."

Yet I am reading your previous quote to indicate that consciousness and physicality are separate.

I hope I'm not just being obtuse, but can you see why I'm becoming increasingly baffled?


I would say that consciousness can see aspects of itself at one time. But other consciousness bodies can see other aspects. So they share their findings with each other. This is like that clever tale of seeing different parts of an elephant, or simply what science and philosophy are all about. Seeing (exploring) different aspects and sharing with each other what we are seeing. However, I don't think anyone can see all of it at one time - but I could be wrong.

Rich
TickTockMan
 
  1  
Reply Tue 1 Sep, 2009 04:11 pm
@richrf,
richrf;87476 wrote:
I would say that consciousness can see aspects of itself at one time. But other consciousness bodies can see other aspects. So they share their findings with each other. This is like that clever tale of seeing different parts of an elephant, or simply what science and philosophy are all about. Seeing (exploring) different aspects and sharing with each other what we are seeing. However, I don't think anyone can see all of it at one time - but I could be wrong.

Rich


What is a consciousness body? I thought consciousness transcended physicality, an idea which you seem to be contradicting by your use of the word "body." A body which, by default, would be something visible. Wouldn't it?

Also, what do you mean by "aspects of itself," when describing what consciousness can see of itself? Do you mean like when I look in a mirror and can only see myself in the two-dimensional surface representation of the mirror (i.e. I can't see all sides of myself at the same time)?

I thought you might mean this, but then I remembered that you also describe a holographic universe along the lines of Michael Talbot's theory which would indicate the capability to represent something in three dimensions virtually simultaneously.

Or, do you mean something else entirely?

Confusedly,
Tock
richrf
 
  1  
Reply Tue 1 Sep, 2009 05:17 pm
@TickTockMan,
TickTockMan;87480 wrote:
What is a consciousness body? I thought consciousness transcended physicality, an idea which you seem to be contradicting by your use of the word "body." A body which, by default, would be something visible. Wouldn't it?


Yes, consciousness and the physical body are a continuum. There is no separation. One is simply a manifestation of the other. Vapor turns to water which turns to ice. They are all the same stuff, but manifest in different forms. So consciousness and the physical body are one and the same.

TickTockMan;87480 wrote:
Also, what do you mean by "aspects of itself," when describing what consciousness can see of itself? Do you mean like when I look in a mirror and can only see myself in the two-dimensional surface representation of the mirror (i.e. I can't see all sides of myself at the same time)?


Yes, if you look in a mirror. When we look outside of us, we are in a sense look inside also. But only a little at a time. The outside mirrors the inside. So when we observe nature we are in a since observing ourselves.

TickTockMan;87480 wrote:
I thought you might mean this, but then I remembered that you also describe a holographic universe along the lines of Michael Talbot's theory which would indicate the capability to represent something in three dimensions virtually simultaneously.


These are all metaphors which give us clues as to how the whole thing might be. A hologram is a nice metaphor of how memory might be stored within consciousness and then revealed when light is passed through. It is exactly the way light illuminates the physical world.

Rich
TickTockMan
 
  1  
Reply Tue 1 Sep, 2009 05:54 pm
@richrf,
First of all, thank you for your patience in answering my numerous questions, and addressing my comments.

That being said, I have a number of other questions and comments.

richrf;87483 wrote:
Yes, consciousness and the physical body are a continuum. There is no separation. One is simply a manifestation of the other. Vapor turns to water which turns to ice. They are all the same stuff, but manifest in different forms. So consciousness and the physical body are one and the same.


I'm still a bit perplexed as to how this aspect of the continuum all comes together.

Earlier you stated that individual consciousness "is creating reality out of itself. This includes the physical, biological body that it is using to explore, by utilizing the motor and sense functions within the human body. Creating the human body is one of the things that consciousness has learned to do."

So apparently the physical body has learned to create consciousness as well? At this point I'm afraid I'm going to need to know which came first? The physical body or the consciousness, since they are, as you say, one and the same. Or did they just happen simultaneously?

richrf;87483 wrote:
When we look outside of us, we are in a sense look inside also. But only a little at a time. The outside mirrors the inside. So when we observe nature we are in a since observing ourselves.


How can we be sure that we're not projecting rather than observing? Kind of like when people project, or assign, human emotions and motivations to animals?



richrf;87483 wrote:
These are all metaphors which give us clues as to how the whole thing might be.


Who, or what, is providing these clues? And why just clues? Is some force beyond our comprehension just playing games with us?
jeeprs
 
  1  
Reply Tue 1 Sep, 2009 07:21 pm
@richrf,
richrf;87476 wrote:
This is like that clever tale of seeing different parts of an elephant


Here is the source of that story. It is actually highly relevant to this thread. It is all about metaphysical disputes:

Quote:
Some of the priests and contemplatives held this view, this doctrine: "The cosmos is not eternal"... "The cosmos is finite"... "The cosmos is infinite"... "The soul and the body are the same"... "The soul is one thing and the body another"...
0 Replies
 
Kielicious
 
  1  
Reply Tue 1 Sep, 2009 07:24 pm
@salima,
salima;87346 wrote:
you dont see consciousness as anything other than an activity or process of the brain, would that be a correct interpretation of your position?


Correct.

salima wrote:
what is this 'agent'? is this another name for the whole of the human body, and that is the subject of human subjective experience?


It is that which is experiencing. I cannot give a specific answer unless there is a specific question. Consciousness comes in many varieties. If you ask me "is that thing conscious?" *looking at a dog* I will have to say yes because I am not a solipsist (or biased towards humans;)). However, if you point to a jellyfish or a bee and ask me the same question, I cannot say. The farther down the 'complexity level' the harder it is to determine what is and what isnt conscious.


salima wrote:
also you have now mentioned 'mind' which is what, by your definition?"The brain in a specific state is the mind in a specific state. " if you want to say the brain and the mind are synonymous, two names for the same thing that is ok. but consciousness is experience. if consciousness is experience it cannot be synonymous with brain. brain is a physical measurable tangible object while consciousness by the definition we are using is not. can you clarify?


Certainly. I did not say they are synonymous but rather two sides of the same coin. Consciousness is an entirely first-person phenomenon, so likewise we cannot point anywhere in the brain and say "Look! There's consciousness!" because its a subjective barrier for third parties. Although, to spin this around, if consciousness wasnt a subjective phenomenon would you be able to point it out like you would any other object? :detective:


salima wrote:
social mores are en ethical consideration of course. but humor would not be, would it? is humor entirely social? I see humor as coming from consciousness, it is a reaction to experience. so where is it produced? surely the brain makes us feel like laughing? do you see our views and values to be outside the realm of thought and produced by society's relationship to them? if not, and it is produced in the brain, how is that done and what is the evidence supporting that?


Im not sure exactly where humor lies in the brain. That's like asking "where does intuition lie in the brain?" No one knows the specific spot (if there is one). I believe intuition is considered to be in the right hemisphere of the brain but pinpointing exactly where it resides is a bit demanding. As for the second part, Im not sure I understand the question correctly.
jeeprs
 
  1  
Reply Tue 1 Sep, 2009 07:52 pm
@Kielicious,
Kielicious;87515 wrote:
Correct.


Curious, then, that a brain has never been observed to be conscious outside a body, and a body has never been observed to exist outside an environment. Where exactly is the line drawn?
Kielicious
 
  1  
Reply Tue 1 Sep, 2009 08:13 pm
@jeeprs,
jeeprs;87529 wrote:
Curious, then, that a brain has never been observed to be conscious outside a body, and a body has never been observed to exist outside an environment. Where exactly is the line drawn?



and why would ONLY a brain be what I am talking about.....

if you lose an arm can you still be a conscious observer? Yes.

can the same be said if you lose everthing but your brain? No.

Curious, then, that a mind has never been observed to be conscious outside a body...
0 Replies
 
 

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