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Mind to Mind: Mr. Dennett & Mr. Gautama Exchange Ideas

 
 
Reply Fri 5 Jun, 2009 11:47 am
[SIZE="3"]NOTE: The main body of this thread, though written as a fantasy, prepares for an earnest question posed at the end of the thread.Mr. GautamamindModerator: Welcome gentlemen.

Mr. Dennett: Thank you.

Mr. Gautama: [nods head smiling].

Moderator: I am an admirer of both of your understandings about the nature of consciousness, but as my employer Mind to Mind revealed, I do lean philosophically towards Mr. Gautama's model.

Mr. Dennett: That's too bad because I am right [laughs].

Moderator: You have to admit the physicalistic model of consciousness, as I'll call it, so well represented by you Mr. Dennett, seems to stir resistance and passionate disagreement from many thinkers who wonder if something more basic is at the foundation of human conscious existence -- from now on I'll take the liberty of referring to such thinkers as foundationalists.

Mr. Dennett: Well, the physicalistic side has its objections to foundationalist concepts too, such as that they are not measurable, observable by the senses, translatable into "practical" applications, and, at their worst, can become wildly idealistic imaginings that are not grounded by experience and reason.

Mr. Gautama: [slowly nods head in agreement].

Moderator: Good points, and Mr. Gautama seems to agree. There are plenty of us, and I'll include myself with the foundationalists, who do not dispute the powerful role physiology plays in human awareness. The main objection seems to be that the all-physicalistic model is incomplete. Thus we come to why we've asked the two of you specifically to participate in this idea exchange: Mr. Gautama's model of consciousness includes an aspect Mr. Dennett's model does not. The "extra" of Mr. Gautama's model suggests that behind the operations of human awareness is something more basic or foundational.

Mr. Dennett: hruuuump [has stern look on face].

Mr. Gautama: [smiles serenely, eyes sparkling].

Moderator: Although Mr. Dennett's and Mr. Gautama's ideas are too complex to detail properly here, I've asked each to briefly summarize the aspect of their model we are going to compare and contrast. Mr. Dennett, why don't you start.

Mr. Dennett: Thank you. I tend to be long-winded, so I brought along a well-written excerpt from a George Johnson review of my book, "Consciousness Explained."
Mr. Johnson writes, ". . . who, or what, is reading . . . neurological archives? The self? The ego? The soul? For want of a theory of consciousness, it is easy to fall back on the image of a little person -- a homunculus, the philosophers call it -- who sits in the cranial control room monitoring a console of gauges and pulling the right strings. But then, of course, we're stuck with explaining the inner workings of this engineer-marionette. Does it too have a little creature inside it? If so, we fall into an infinite regress, with homunculi embedded in homunculi like an image ricocheting between mirrors. . . .
As Mr. Dennett explained . . . the reason we get the regress is that at each level we are assuming a single homunculus with powers and abilities equal to those of its host. Suppose instead that there are in the brain a horde of very stupid homunculi, each utterly dependent on the others. Make the homunculi stupid enough and it's easy to imagine that each can be replaced by a machine -- a circuit made of neurons. But from the collective behavior of all these neurological devices, consciousness emerges -- a qualitative leap no more magical than the one that occurs when wetness arises from the jostling of hydrogen and oxygen atoms. . . .
To avoid the problem of infinite regress, he [Mr. Dennett] hypothesizes that this master controller is not a fully cognizant marionette but a 'virtual machine,' created on the fly from temporary coalitions of stupid homunculi. It is because of this mental software, he proposes, that we can not only think but reflect on our own thinking, as we engage in the step-by-step deliberations that occupy us when we are most aware of the plodding of our minds."

Moderator: It seems a conclusion we must take from your ideas Mr. Dennett is that there is no original, abiding "self" of consciousness. What we interpret as a singular self is in actuality the result of contributions from several sources. Extended concentration on tasks and repeated patterns give the illusion of a singular self, but really the self is "created on the fly."

Mr. Dennett: In essence, I wouldn't disagree with your characterization.

Moderator: I explained your model in those terms in order to suggest that Mr. Gautama might agree yours is a pretty good model of how the human mind arises through the functions of the brain.

Mr. Gautama: As best I understand his model, yes I agree.

Moderator: Mr. Gautama, I have enjoyed many of your ideas, such as those recorded in discourses where you've declared there is no permanent "self." You have explained the unique self we believe ourselves to be is in fact a collection of traits you called the aggregates, and all together these yield an acquired self. Would please share with us how you have spoken about this subject.

Mr. Gautama: I taught my students that one does not regard the material shape as being the self or the self as being material shape. Nor does one regard emotion, perception, the impulses, or intellect in any of these ways. One comprehends of each that it is impermanent. As one of my students explained, "For just as for an assemblage of parts the term 'chariot' is employed, so when the aggregates are present, the expression 'living being' is employed."

Moderator: Mr. Dennett, do you find the similarities between your two models interesting?

Mr. Dennett: Indeed. I'd go so far to grant that the major differences between my functionalist model and Mr. Gautama's more generalized explanation is undoubtedly due to the advantages I've had from access to details provided by the years of neurological research.
However, don't get me wrong I also know I'm being set up for what's "erroneous" about my model.

Moderator: Maybe a little, but not exactly Mr. Dennett.

Mr. Gautama: [smiles]

Moderator: Anyway, so much for the similarities between the models. What is significantly different? If you don't mind Mr. Dennett, I'd like to start with a quote from a short article you wrote where you said, "Your stream of consciousness is replete with an apparently unending supply of associations. As each fleeting occupant of the position of greatest influence gives way to its successors, any attempt to halt this helter-skelter parade and monitor the details of the associations only generates a further flood of evanescent states, and so on."

Mr. Dennett: Yes, and your point is . . .

Moderator: Well, you seem to see consciousness as the busy-ness of the mind, along with the brain functionality which establishes it.

Mr. Dennett: More or less, yes. As I said in an interview where I critiqued Chalmers' qualia nonsense, "What impresses me about my own consciousness, as I know it so intimately, is my delight in some features and dismay over others, my distraction and concentration, my unnamable sinking feelings of foreboding and my blithe disregard of some perceptual details, my obsessions and oversights, my ability to conjure up fantasies, my inability to hold more than a few items in consciousness at a time, my ability to be moved to tears by a vivid recollection of the death of a loved one, my inability to catch myself in the act of framing the words I sometimes say to myself, and so forth."

Moderator: I am interested in "what impresses" you about consciousness. That's because of how it seems to contrast with something Mr. Gautama's values.
For example, an incident taken from Mr. Gautama's famous discourse "States of Consciousness" records a man named Potthapada who was philosophizing in a boisterous way to a crowd of wandering mendicants in a park. When Potthapada saw Mr. Gautama, his attitude changed and he said, "Let's be quiet gentlemen, don't make a noise. That ascetic Gautama is coming, and he likes quiet and speaks in praise of quiet. If he sees us quiet, he might visit us."
Is it true Mr. Gautama, that you value quiet?

Mr. Gautama: Yes it is.

Moderator: But if consciousness is dependent on activity as Mr. Dennett suggests, how can one experience quiet?

Mr. Gautama: Things are not precisely as Mr. Dennett suggests. There is that aspect which moves, changes, and is defined by being active, just as he says. I've said that aspect is born, made, becoming, and compounded - it is acquired. But there is another plane Mr. Dennett apparently doesn't know about, where there is neither extension nor motion, no coming or going or remaining or deceasing or uprising.

Mr. Dennett: Sounds impossible to make sense of. How can one prove it exists?

Mr. Gautama: [sits quietly looking incredibly serene, his mind in perfect stillness, his eyes sparkling blissfully]

Mr. Dennett: Impressive Mr. Gautama, but it is not proof.

Mr. Gautama: It is the only proof possible -- experience it for yourself, then you will know.

Mr. Dennett: I can assure you Mr. Gautama I have more or less quiet moments, but it is impossible to stop the mind.

Mr. Gautama: The way you are looking at it, you are correct. You are thinking of stopping the moving aspect with the moving aspect itself. True, that cannot be done. But because there already exists an unmoving foundation that is unborn, not become, not made, and uncompounded . . . an escape can be shown for the moving (the born, become, made, and compounded). So this "escape" I refer to is not achieved by stopping the mind with the mind, but rather it is achieved by joining with a foundation that is already perfectly still.

Mr. Dennett: And how does one realize that escape?

Mr. Gautama: A series of steps, practiced over time. First, one practices quiet until one's awareness unmistakably feels the presence of what lies behind all the operations of consciousness. Next the objective becomes to practice feeling that background so it grows to be more and more noticeable. As the background becomes more noticeable, one understands it is far more powerful than the aspect of oneself contemplating it. With continued practice, one realizes the background is actually the foundation out of which "self," the contemplator, has arisen.

Mr. Dennett: A paradox Mr. Gautama?

Mr. Gautama: Not a paradox really, but it is often a dilemma for the person who wants to maintain self more than he wants to know his foundation.

Mr. Dennett: Why should that be a dilemma?

Mr. Gautama: Because yet one more step is possible and necessary, a step which can be difficult to take. If one is skilled enough and trusts the foundation enough to let go, surrender, relax, yield to that foundation, it will absorb one back into it and all the movement which one believes defines consciousness (and self) ceases. It is difficult because the loss of self into the foundation appears to put an end to the individual. Yet in that moment, and ONLY in that moment, does one know for certain one's origin. That union of "self" with the foundational plane is what many have called samadhi.

Mr. Dennett: This contradicts all my years of thought and study, and so makes little sense to me. As I once wrote about how I see it, coalitions of themes and projects may succeed in dominating "attention" for some useful and highly productive period of time, fending off would-be digressions for quite a while, and creating the sense of an abiding self or ego taking charge of the whole operation. And so on. That I say, Mr. Gautama, is what you interpret as a "foundation."

Moderator: Surely you aren't questioning Mr. Gautama's honesty?

Mr. Dennett: Not at all, I am questioning his interpretation. The problem with the foundational concept is similar to the concept of qualia: we arrive in mysteryland. As I've written before, if you define qualia as intrinsic properties of experiences considered in isolation from all their causes and effects, logically independent of all dispositional properties, then they are logically guaranteed to elude all broad functional analysis-but it's an empty victory, since there is no reason to believe such properties exist.

Moderator: Mr. Dennett, it seems you saying that for something to be true, it must be accessible to broad functional analysis. Mr. Gautama has pointed out that the "reason to believe such properties exist" is from developing direct experiential skills which take place from within consciousness itself. In such a case, wouldn't the reason for your mysteryland likely be due to trying to directly experience the foundation of consciousness from the outside?

Mr. Dennett: I say there is no other way to know things.

Moderator: Do you agree Mr. Gautama?

Mr. Gautama: It is not possible that I could agree after attaining a pure experience of what you call the foundation, after spending the rest of my life teaching thousands of others how to attain that, and after seeing so many of the devoted attain it. Can I deny what I have attained, successfully taught and witnessed?

Moderator: But then Mr. Gautama, how would you account for the differences between your model of consciousness and Mr. Dennett's?

Mr. Gautama: There is only one way to account for it. My model reflects what I know; Mr. Dennett's model reflects both what he knows and what he doesn't know about consciousness.

Mr. Dennett: What I "know" Mr. Gautama is (as I have written) that whether people realize it or not, it is precisely the "remarkable functions associated with" consciousness that drive them to wonder about how consciousness could possibly reside in a brain. In fact, if you carefully dissociate all these remarkable functions from consciousness -- in your own, first-person case -- there is nothing left for you to wonder about.

Mr. Gautama: [smiles serenely] I would respectfully submit to you, Mr. Dennett, that you haven't the slightest idea what would happen if one were to "dissociate all these remarkable functions from consciousness." Speaking from experience I can say I do know, and quite intimately.

ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZAAAAAAAAAAPPPPPPPPPPPP

Mr. Dennett: What was that????

Moderator: Ah yes, quantum fluctuations have disrupted our time-zip. I am afraid we've lost Mr. Gautama. However, I do think Mr. Gautama explained what is missing from your model quite well, don't you Mr. Dennett?

Mr. Dennett: Nothing he said convinced me anything is missing from my model!

Moderator: Well, I think he gave us a possible reason for the completeness of your model, Mr. Dennett. Would you be willing to answer a question I have for you to see if I am correct?

Mr. Dennett: We are wasting time, I've got papers to grade.

BLIPPPPPPPP

Moderator: Mr. Dennett? Mr. Dennett? Mr. Dennett? Gee, he disconnected. I guess I upset him. Well, I wonder if anyone else would be willing to answer the question I was about to propose. It was:

If, as Mr. Dennett suggests, the "busy-ness" of brain functionality is what creates consciousness, then shouldn't we expect the reduction of busy-ness to result in the loss of consciousness? And if one could manage to stop mentality altogether for a time, shouldn't we expect a person to become unconscious?

Yet, if we study the entire history of conscious development, there are numerous reports, some well-documented, of individuals successful at stilling the mind; and these individuals rather than being remembered as unconscious, are instead studied, contemplated, and revered as some of the planet's wisest of all humans.


[SIZE="4"]Is there any possible way Mr. Dennett's model could be correct if the mind actually can be fully quieted?[/SIZE]
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Dave Allen
 
  1  
Reply Fri 5 Jun, 2009 01:03 pm
@LWSleeth,
Some people - Freud springs to mind as an obvious example - think that the conscious mind is less active than the unconscious or subconscious. Could Daniel Dennet still be right if someone can calm their conscious mind - their subconscious mind must still be at work.

Have any CAT scans been taken of meditators, I wonder?

Nice script, by the way. I wonder if radio would be interested?
0 Replies
 
Satan phil
 
  1  
Reply Fri 5 Jun, 2009 02:06 pm
@LWSleeth,
LWSleeth;66691 wrote:
Is there any possible way Mr. Dennett's model could be correct if the mind actually can be fully quieted?


If you could fully quiet your mind, you would no longer be conscious.
LWSleeth
 
  1  
Reply Fri 5 Jun, 2009 03:05 pm
@Satan phil,
[SIZE="3"]Well, let me make it clear what I mean by "quieting the mind" before we get into a debate about it. It is specifically to quiet that activity Dennett claims is key to the rise of our sense of being individually conscious. As I quoted him, "Your stream of consciousness is replete with an apparently unending supply of associations. As each fleeting occupant of the position of greatest influence gives way to its successors, any attempt to halt this helter-skelter parade and monitor the details of the associations only generates a further flood of evanescent states, and so on."

So to be clear, I am not talking about the brain, since if it were wholly quiet we'd be dead.

But if, say, we are a point of consciousness temporarily occupying the central nervous system from a greater consciousness field (as an alternate possibility to the functionalist model), then just the task of retaining a consciousness in the body might entail brain wave activity; in other words, the presence of brain waves is not the "activity" I am talking about (nor apparently Dennett).

The activity I mean I listed in Dennett's other quote, ". . . my delight in some features and dismay over others, my distraction and concentration, my unnamable sinking feelings of foreboding and my blithe disregard of some perceptual details, my obsessions and oversights, my ability to conjure up fantasies, my inability to hold more than a few items in consciousness at a time, my ability to be moved to tears by a vivid recollection of the death of a loved one, my inability to catch myself in the act of framing the words I sometimes say to myself, and so forth."

That seems to be the sort of activity Dennett claims is responsible for our more or less epiphenomenal sense there is a conscious observer.

Now, if we agree a mental stream of consciousness (and I'd include subconscious influences) is what we are talking about, then I know for a fact it is very possible to stop that entirely for extended periods of time, and when it is stopped one does not become less conscious.

If so, can Dennett's model possibly be correct?[/SIZE]

---------- Post added at 02:14 PM ---------- Previous post was at 02:05 PM ----------

Dave Allen;66695 wrote:
Some people - Freud springs to mind as an obvious example - think that the conscious mind is less active than the unconscious or subconscious. Could Daniel Dennet still be right if someone can calm their conscious mind - their subconscious mind must still be at work.


[SIZE="3"]I didn't address the sub/unconscious mind because it isn't what Dennett seems to be talking about. But those skilled in quieting the conscious mind find they are constantly uncovering layers of underlying subconscious influences which, as they are exposed to the light, are also gradually made still.[/SIZE]
KaseiJin
 
  1  
Reply Sat 6 Jun, 2009 08:43 am
@LWSleeth,
LWSleeth;66714 wrote:
[SIZE="3"]So to be clear, I am not talking about the brain, since if it were wholly quiet we'd be dead.[/size]


If you are not talking about the brain, you cannot be talking about brain, and if you are not talking about brain, you cannot be talking about mind; period.

Therefore, what might you be trying to pinpoint? One cannot 'find,' thus come to an understanding of, anything, without mind, without brain; so ...?
LWSleeth
 
  1  
Reply Sat 6 Jun, 2009 11:13 am
@KaseiJin,
KaseiJin;66824 wrote:
If you are not talking about the brain, you cannot be talking about brain, and if you are not talking about brain, you cannot be talking about mind; period.

Therefore, what might you be trying to pinpoint? One cannot 'find,' thus come to an understanding of, anything, without mind, without brain; so ...?


[SIZE="3"]First of all, once again I think I better clarify to make sure we are discussing the same things.

There is a sense, when we are conscious, of being a unique observer of the information arriving in the mind (via senses and brain). Dennett claims there is no single observer, but rather only a constantly-changing "stance" toward what our mental activity is focusing on (a concept he terms heterophenomenology); this in turn creates the illusion of a unique observer, but which in reality is only reactively arising from the stance of our incessant mental activity. He also assumes (as you apparently do) the neuronal theory of consciousness, that the brain wholly produces all aspects of consciousness. He "dismisses" the hard problem of consciousness (e.g., qualia) and openly admits we really are "zombies" (as per Chalmers' argument).

Now, we can get into a long fight about every one of his assumptions, but that would take us off my point. I can and have argued extensively, for example, how mind can be both brain dependent in some ways, and brain independent in others (just as a radio signal is dependent on the mechanics of the radio to manifest somewhere, but still exists independently even if no radio is present to pick it up). We as consciousness (whatever it is) are residing in a CNS, so for now let's just say we are at least intertwined with neuronal states.

But the point I raised about Dennett's model isn't about whether or not consciousness is purely a neuronal product. Rather, I ask if his homunculus-eliminating idea holds water.

One simple way to define consciousness is "self aware knowing." In other words, we receive information, and another part of us knows we receive information. Things as dumb as Geiger counters and motion detectors receive information but are clueless they do; even computers, as clever as they may calculate, have no awareness they calculate.

What is that central awareness? As I said, Dennett claims it is more or less an illusion, and instead claims consciousness prepares a variety of takes on information we receive, and the optimal behavior or response wins out. Thus we assume an intentional stance toward whatever we are perceiving, and it the constancy of having a mental stance that gives us the sense of an internal observer.

Because this stance is rather automatically decided by all the thinking and sensory information in the mind, then, according to Dennett's model, it should mean that if the mind were to be quieted so that no thoughts and little and no sensory information were present, then that sense of the knower should cease.

As a meditator, and student of past great meditators, I can state with utter conviction that is very possible to still the mind (and you can do it in a sensory deprivation chamber too). In that experience, not only is a knower present, the experience of knowing (knowing one exists) is heightened. If so, how can that possibly be reconciled with Dennett's model?[/SIZE]
0 Replies
 
KaseiJin
 
  1  
Reply Sat 6 Jun, 2009 08:31 pm
@LWSleeth,
I appreciate your taking the time to spell out your position. As I see it, the kingpin of this will very much depend on the exact sense that the word mind will be. In the context of consciousness--a certain range of level in the continuum of conscious (which in turn is simply brain (uncountable noun) activity, period)--mind will surely refer to, as I always use it as, the accumulative result of mental activity.

Well, as you can see, that already kind makes it preclude anything but brain, and for that reason, we may have some difficulty in discussing before dealing with that. Setting whatever Dennett and Chalmer may have said aside, for the moment, and stepping into the more practical, 'real' world, we know that the concept of any homunculus is a 'fairy tale' one. We know that consciousness (see above) is due to neuronal activity. Therefore it only follows that Dennett's removal of any such 'fairy tale'-like concept holds water.

I can only guess as to why there would be any question regarding why any lack of sensory input, or states of syncro-firing in some loops due to internal commands (consciousnessly caused or not) would demand a lack of activity in other loops or pathways. We do know, on the other hand, that certain brain damage will lead to lack of self-knowledge. We do know that hemispheric separation will lead to two centers of operation on upper levels (although the 'interpretator' left dominate hemisphere so outpowers the silent right, that there is almost no notice of it, in most cases, without testing).

Therefore, as long as brain is alive, and is up and working across systems, maps, loops, pathways, and synapes (and I mean all cell types here, so some do not synapse) there will be consciousness. During slow wave sleep, that aspect of the organ is 'shut down' (so to speak), but the brain is still very much conscious in other systems (but sensory information is being shut out (erased is a good word)).

The brain is a whole, so that which is consciousness is as much an element of the living working neurons as that which never ever comes even near to consciousness. It's all brain, it's all living cellular material (with so many bio-molecular additives), and it is always projected as a singular (at a given moment, in by far most cases). What that means, therefore, is that mind is a projection of brain alone, which is the same as saying that mind is a projection of cellular material--trust me, if one prevents action potentials, there is no projection, no result (mind).

In a nutshell, then, I am arguing that there is fault in the premise upon which you appear to be working, and am making an effort to correct that firstly.
LWSleeth
 
  1  
Reply Sun 7 Jun, 2009 02:17 am
@KaseiJin,
KaseiJin;66997 wrote:
As I see it, the kingpin of this will very much depend on the exact sense that the word mind will be . . . mind will surely refer to, as I always use it as, the accumulative result of mental activity.


Here we agree. What I refer to in Dennett's model is the cumulative activity and effects of mental activity.


KaseiJin;66997 wrote:
In the context of consciousness--a certain range of level in the continuum of conscious (which in turn is simply brain (uncountable noun) activity, period)


Here we don't agree. As I said, I wanted to avoid a debate about the neuronal model, especially since I don't believe the brain "creates" consciousness. I don't know why you say "period" about this issue (you said that in your last post too), the neuronal model is hardly universally agreed upon.


KaseiJin;66997 wrote:
Setting whatever Dennett and Chalmer may have said aside, for the moment . . .


Well, that's going to be a problem because Dennett's model is exactly what my thread and question is about.


KaseiJin;66997 wrote:
. . . stepping into the more practical, 'real' world, we know that the concept of any homunculus is a 'fairy tale' one.


If you mean an actual little man sitting at our brain's controls, of course that is silly. But that doesn't mean there is not some central controlling aspect.


KaseiJin;66997 wrote:
We know that consciousness (see above) is due to neuronal activity. Therefore it only follows that Dennett's removal of any such 'fairy tale'-like concept holds water.


But we don't know that! Physicalists assume it a priori as they proceed with all their research, but a great many others dispute it. In other words, if you already believe the brain "creates" consciousness, and you already believe that the ability to affect conscious states by manipulating the brain proves the brain creates consciousness, then you might set up all your experiments to demonstrate how the brain affects conscious states.

A thousand experiments later of showing consciousness being affected by the brain and WALA . . . ou are telling the world the brain "creates" conscious . . . period! Of course, you've haven't proven that the brain creates consciousness at all, only that consciousness is intertwined with the brain.

I purposely avoided this debate because it is so common at philosophy and science sites. I understand and have debated against the neuronal position many times. But this thread is asking another question.

However, before I try to explain my thread question once more, let me briefly relate how we can be so susceptible to brain states, yet not be "created" by the brain. I'll start with an analogy.

If you take a neutral substance, say H20, and subject it to various temperature conditions, you can observe it as a solid, a liquid or a gas. Now, should we assume temperature creates H2O because H20 is so susceptible to temperature conditions? Similarly, consciousness might be a neutral entity, a sort of generally aware field permeating the universe, that is drawn into the CNS by human biology, and then the neuronal conditions of the brain affect it in various ways. In fact, many meditators report exactly that sort of experience (i.e., of joining a vast "field" of consciousness), and since this thread uses meditator's claims to challenge Dennett's model, their reports are relevant.


KaseiJin;66997 wrote:
I can only guess as to why there would be any question regarding why any lack of sensory input, or states of syncro-firing in some loops due to internal commands (consciousnessly caused or not) would demand a lack of activity in other loops or pathways.


But I didn't say that. I only mentioned lack of sensory input because that is an element of mentality, and I also acknowledged the brain might be active even if a person could stop thinking (as in meditation). Do you understand what I mean by "quieting the mind?"


KaseiJin;66997 wrote:
In a nutshell, then, I am arguing that there is fault in the premise upon which you appear to be working, and am making an effort to correct that firstly.


Except you never did address my premise. Let me try once more.

Above you suggested, and I agreed, that "mind" is the cumulative activity and effects of mental activity. Dennett claims that our sense of being the central controller of conscious activity is actually the result of the brain assuming an "intentional stance" while we are mentally active. This core self, he claims, is only a sense or impression the intentional stance produces due to its constant presence during our constant mental activity. We, essentially, are zombies, completely subject to mechanistic forces which decide for us which of many options is finally decided upon.

I don't disagree that the brain affects us in ways that are beyond our control (or so it seems), but I do dispute that my experience of being the central controller is the result of mental activity. Why? Well, this is the theme of this thread. I question it because I and many other devoted meditators can stop mental activity for periods of time (e.g. thinking, imagining, wanting, resisting, and other things we do with the mind).

Since it is all that mental activity which Dennett claims produces the sense of a central controller, then it should disappear if mentality ceases . . . it doesn't. In fact, the sense of a center is extraordinarily heightened.

If my report is accurate (of what's experienced when mentality is quieted), then is there any way Dennett's model can possibly be correct?
KaseiJin
 
  1  
Reply Sun 7 Jun, 2009 09:12 pm
@LWSleeth,
Thank you for taking the time to carefully detail some of the finer points, LWSleeth. I might make mention of the fact that my memory is yet fairly well sustained, and so it might be just the more efficient to respond to any points I have made without taking the time and effort to quote them, in most cases (and it may well make reading smoother). . . although, of course, that act is totally a personal choice.

It is true that you had kind of spelled out--regardless of its possibly being somewhat general--what you had meant by 'quieting the mind' in the first paragraph of your #4 post, above. As I have read that (along with other points that evidently have bearing on that), you are talking about working around neuronal clusters (loops, maps, pathways) by creating firing patterns similar to slow wave sleep for the most part. In other words, the effect is to shut out sensory input information, a degree of memory recall, self-talk, and much cortical to basal feedback systems from cognition of them.

My point of contention, however, is not actually looking at the question you claim to asking in this thread, because that question is clearly formulated on a basis of understanding, a premise, from which the question arises. I am, in effect, going under the level of the question, to that premise, and am pointing out that there is error there. Also, I am coming from the data base of the neurosciences from which even Dennett had been able to make any claims at all about consciousness--therefore I do not need to focus on anything beyond what can be learned from the varied fields of neuroscience themselves.

It is true that you had mentioned in passing (again in your #4 above) that you were not talking about the brain, when you had been talking about 'quieting the mind.' There will be those who are most informed in this field, those who are more informed, those who are somewhat informed, those who are less informed, and then least informed. For this very reason, there will naturally not be universal agreement; just as many will have opinons and ideas, and express or adhere to them in various ways to various degrees regardless of their actually not being well informed or not.

I had used the emotionally charged word 'period' to highlight the fact that evidence most clearly arrives at that understanding. Alive and properly functioning brain (I'm talking about tissue here--neurons, glia cells, and supporting cells, with all they include in their cytoplasma--as opposed to the organ which is the brain . . . a note to be kept in mind) is conscious material regardless. That is a fact.

The brain is a conscious organ (very much more so than that system which controls the stomach (which is sometimes called a brain in itself, but is more like a simple ganglion system)) and the accumulation of that activity results in a state called consciousness. All of the continuum that conscious is, is due to brain, therefore when a meditator screens out (not 'stop,'as you had worded it in #4, para. 6) sensory input and internal system activities so as to, in effect, 'de-cognize' for the most part (of course it's not total, otherwise there would be no memory encoding by the hippocampal formation, and no recall of emotional content while meditating) that meditator is not stopping any number of cells from living nor being active to some degree (depolarization may be very decrease in some number of cells in some of the maps), and is still very much that brain (organ).


Your explanation as to how you reason that 'we do not know that consciousness is due to neuronal activity' is lacking a review of the history of discovery which has led to that understanding, as well as the data which supports it. There is a very clear and exact reason why we do know that the heart (an organ) is not the center of intellect. There is a very clear and exact reason why we do know that the ventricals do not pump liquids to hydrolically move muscle. There is a clear and exact reason why we do know that the pinal gland is not some sort of valve through which some immaterial 'soul' interacts with the brain. It is not, as you may wish to appeal towards, a matter of suddenly having some a priori presupposition that mind is brain, but rather a matter of having come to understand that through scientific method over the course of time.

As I think I have mentioned above, the answer to the question you have clarified (#4, last line before automerge; #6, par. 4; #8, final line) is positive. Additionally, as best I can understand, the reason you question it is because of an error in the premise from which the emotion to question it has arisen.

Now while this particular thread alone, may not be the best one to continue any presentation that I may offer in support of the understanding, on, I will do so here and in other places as well.
LWSleeth
 
  1  
Reply Mon 8 Jun, 2009 08:12 pm
@KaseiJin,
KaseiJin;67247 wrote:
As I have read that (along with other points that evidently have bearing on that), you are talking about working around neuronal clusters (loops, maps, pathways) by creating firing patterns similar to slow wave sleep for the most part. In other words, the effect is to shut out sensory input information, a degree of memory recall, self-talk, and much cortical to basal feedback systems from cognition of them.

I am coming from the data base of the neurosciences from which even Dennett had been able to make any claims at all about consciousness--therefore I do not need to focus on anything beyond what can be learned from the varied fields of neuroscience themselves.


[SIZE="3"]It seems you believe science can teach you all you need or want to know, while I believe there are other ways to learn and know. My thread topic and ending question are based on knowledge acquired through an epistemology different from what empirical science employs. It's not that I don't thoroughly grasp the neuronal model, or enjoy scientific discussions; but I also don't think science can reveal all of reality.

Now, if you don't care to contemplate outside of science, that's fine by me. However, I have made it abundantly clear that the way you are characterizing things (above) is not how I want to discuss it in this thread. Yet you seem determined to "dismiss" my concepts, and to then reframe my thread question into the context of your personal belief system. I therefore will withdraw from our discussion and thank you for your participation thus far.[/SIZE]
richrf
 
  1  
Reply Mon 8 Jun, 2009 09:05 pm
@LWSleeth,
I think the mind is relatively quiet during deep sleep.

As for absolute quiet, as you said you then dead.

As for all of the gradations in between, I suppose every possibility is there.

As for Mr. Dennett, from what I gather, he is saying the the Self is created by a lot of Little Selves cooperating with each other. OK, if that is the way he wants to look at it. He says nothing about where these little selves come from, and what initiated their interaction. But he appears to be having fun being interviewed, as I would if someone cared about what I thought.

On the whole I am totally unimpressed, but no doubt Mr. Dennett would be unimpressed by me. Smile

Rich
0 Replies
 
KaseiJin
 
  1  
Reply Mon 8 Jun, 2009 10:41 pm
@LWSleeth,
I appreciate your honesty and candor in your reply, LWSleeth. I also equally regret your seemingly unwillingness to discuss it all.

There may be the possiblity (and I can only guess, having not actually met and talked with you in person) that you may have missed the essence of science somewhere along the way--a fair number of people do, and at times, some scientists are even to blame for creating such misconceptions in the mind's eye of the public at large.

Science, put most basically in its original and pure sense, is to know of, or about, a matter. When I see the flame burning the wood in the BBQ pit, and understand why (and there's no real reason to reduce it beyond any practical level) and how it's happening, that's science. When I reach to get that roasting chicken leg, and feel the pain of the heat, and see the hair on my wrist bend and twist in the scorch, and understand that event, it is science. When I savor that fine homemade beer, and understand how the sugar made that fine intoxication drink work, it is science.

When I view that rising full moon, over the distant hill top as I enjoy that moment, and understand that the moon itself is not really rising, but rather that the earth is turning, it is science. When we understand that the left hand's action in the split-brain patient is walking to the beat of a different drummer, that of the right hemispheric conscious, and that the left cannot know of it due to the corpus callosum's cut not letting the information process that the right does be communicated to the left, it is science.

To observe, learn, and come to know, is science. Therefore, when you claim that there is a way of knowing which is not science, you are making a claim that is quite empty when it comes to hard evidence to support any reason for a claim to know. I too am of the postition that humankind cannot come to know all of our reality. That of it which we do know, and come to know, will be known because, however (and without concerned dispute) because we have the brain build that we do.

I am fully confident that you would not expect a normal 5 year old child, in most cases, to be able to comtemplate on the level with a normal 50 year old adult, any more than you would likely not expect a normal adult chimpanzee to have anything more than a level 2 of theory of mind--compared to the level 5 of a normal human adult. (yet those two brain builds are very similar)

My fellow poster, LWSleeth, it cannot be denied that you have started talking about the brain. And now, as you have made it clear that you wish to talk about the brain by means of some process of knowing without relying on science (as described above, you see), then I can only marvel at how that might be done--since you will probably have to use your brain to do so, and to use your brain will automatically entail the application of science (just as, actually, epistemological classed discussions on the brain all have to do). Any concepts that you do have regarding the brain, will thus have to be an element of science, and will have to be tested (which has been, and is being done); and what you had mentioned in your #4 was simply incorrect--so my effort to further learning in that field.

Therefore, while I will of course respect your wishes, I really, really feel it ashame that you have so closed your field of inquiry and openess to critical thinking. I appreciate your politeness about it, all the while experiencing the emotion of sadness that you would so react. KJ


I kind of doubt, richrf, that Dennett is actually saying that, however, if he were, he'd be doing so only for some sort of explanatory power, and not because that is what the evidence out there leads us to conclude. Selfhood is generally projected as a singularity...even in cases of personality disorder.
richrf
 
  1  
Reply Mon 8 Jun, 2009 11:58 pm
@KaseiJin,
KaseiJin;67594 wrote:

I kind of doubt, richrf, that Dennett is actually saying that, however, if he were, he'd be doing so only for some sort of explanatory power, and not because that is what the evidence out there leads us to conclude. Selfhood is generally projected as a singularity...even in cases of personality disorder.


Actually, in Eastern Philosophy, self is presented as many, which, to me, seems more to reflect reality. People seem to have all kinds of personalities depending upon what role they are playing at the time. But suffice to say, what you call personality disorders, might be just extreme cases of what we encounter every day at business, home, out on the town, etc. I knew the most conservative, religious men and women at work, who were decidedly quite different after a few drinks - and I don't buy that the drinks made them do it. Smile

Rich
0 Replies
 
KaseiJin
 
  1  
Reply Tue 9 Jun, 2009 12:39 am
@LWSleeth,
Yes; when I had mentioned selfhood (which I apologize for not defining more) I had been talking about self as projected through the peak state, or slightly under (even) peak state of consciousness. I had used Personality Disorder in the sense of a clinical definition which refers to a specific psychological disorder wherein a patient does display clear personality changes; usually occurring spontaneously (without intent). This disorder is usually retactable in a similar mode as a strong addiction.

In the case of those who change personalites due to drugs (alcohol being one) certain inhibitions are lost due to (often enough) GABA receptor blockage or serotonin copying upgrades. Thus, we can say that the observable change in personality is brought about by the chemical rearrangements that work through certain pathways and systems in the brain--just as a lack of oxygen will tend to do from a certain point up to a certain point. (which might be part of the reason that TV actor died in his hotel room in Thailand--addiction to that lack of oxygen high)
richrf
 
  1  
Reply Tue 9 Jun, 2009 07:39 am
@KaseiJin,
KaseiJin;67612 wrote:
Yes; when I had mentioned selfhood (which I apologize for not defining more) I had been talking about self as projected through the peak state, or slightly under (even) peak state of consciousness. I had used Personality Disorder in the sense of a clinical definition which refers to a specific psychological disorder wherein a patient does display clear personality changes; usually occurring spontaneously (without intent). This disorder is usually retactable in a similar mode as a strong addiction.

In the case of those who change personalites due to drugs (alcohol being one) certain inhibitions are lost due to (often enough) GABA receptor blockage or serotonin copying upgrades. Thus, we can say that the observable change in personality is brought about by the chemical rearrangements that work through certain pathways and systems in the brain--just as a lack of oxygen will tend to do from a certain point up to a certain point. (which might be part of the reason that TV actor died in his hotel room in Thailand--addiction to that lack of oxygen high)


I think there are many reasons people change personality. My girlfriend changes personality when she is around her children vs. when we are alone. Some people may say that drinking changed their personality, but maybe it wasn't the drinking, maybe the drinking was just an excuse. Some people are quite different at a baseball game than when they are at work. These changes are all quite spontaneous (they happen), and I think there is something more subtle going on here. However, since it is so normal, most people don't even recognize it in themselves and in others.

Rich
0 Replies
 
KaseiJin
 
  1  
Reply Tue 9 Jun, 2009 08:19 am
@LWSleeth,
Actually, richrf, it's quite the same thing (as the drug thing; on a certain level). Yes, of course there are a whole bunch of possible connections and affectors, but essentially the level of inhibition control is being altered in all the cases you have just mentioned above. These examples are not what we can call personality disorders, and are not what I had been pointing too.

It is true that we may find less control by the prefrontal lobe in the case of drugs, however, because the drugs we have already have (nerotransmitters, neuromodulators, and peptides) will have been 'side stepped' by the drug, whereas in the above, it is usually a direct command by brain region causing a toning down of prefrontal/amygdala control. I appreciate your bring this matter to my attention by mentioning these, however.
0 Replies
 
LWSleeth
 
  1  
Reply Tue 9 Jun, 2009 11:25 am
@KaseiJin,
[SIZE="3"]
KaseiJin;67594 wrote:
I also equally regret your seemingly unwillingness to discuss it all.


That is an amazing assessment of this situation. Remember, this is my thread. I created the rather labor-intensive opening post, and so, as is the usual rule of forums, it is I who decides overall what is to be discussed.

I wanted to talk about one topic: if we are able to completely stop thinking and imagining, how can Dennett's model of consciousness (as, for instance, discussed in his book Consciousness Explained) be true?

Dennett's concepts should be quite relevant to this philosophy section "Philosophy of the Mind," since Dennett is a major figure in the debate of if consciousness is purely physical, or if consciousness is "something more."

Do you know that there are a great many practitioners in meditation that can completely stop their minds from thinking and imagining? I myself, in fact, am one of them having practiced meditation for over 35 years, at least an hour per day (as I did this morning).

I specifically chose the Buddha to interact with Daniel Dennett because he is the world's most famous meditator, so it should have been obvious how I was trying to dispute Dennett's model, and in what way I wanted the forum discussion to proceed.

I tried twice to get you to participate as I designed the thread, and each time, as you did again with this post, you responded by ignoring my entire thread theme to substitute your own views.


KaseiJin;67594 wrote:
There may be the possiblity (and I can only guess, having not actually met and talked with you in person) that you may have missed the essence of science somewhere along the way--a fair number of people do, and at times, some scientists are even to blame for creating such misconceptions in the mind's eye of the public at large.


How did I know you were going to try the old trick of characterizing me as lacking in science knowledge. I've run into it at every single science debate I've participated in where I've challenged some cherished scientism belief. "Why sure, that's why you don't agree with the physicalist model . . . you are just too darn ignert!!!" It couldn't possibly be that I fully understand both science and the neuronal model, and still disagree.

I really dislike comparing degrees, so I'll just say I am well educated in science and history, and that I have been privileged to lead a life of study and contemplation for decades. I can also say with all sincerity I love (and practice) science. I love cooking too . . . does that mean I should assume all events of life must revolve around eating?

The way you've behave so far reminds me of those religious guys who come to my door wanting to reveal the "truth" to me using the Bible. I always tell them I don't think the Bible is the "truth." To convince me I'm wrong, they start quoting the Bible!

You can't hijack threads to preach the science interpretation of consciousness while ignoring the main thread question, incorrectly insisting the neuronal model a "fact," acting like you have the "truth," and implying that if someone doesn't agree with your beliefs then they just don't know any better.


KaseiJin;67594 wrote:
I kind of doubt, richrf, that Dennett is actually saying that, however, if he were, he'd be doing so only for some sort of explanatory power, and not because that is what the evidence out there leads us to conclude. Selfhood is generally projected as a singularity...even in cases of personality disorder.


What Richrf says is right on target, Dennett quite specifically attributes "self" to a lot of dumb homunculi. If you aren't going to bother to understand the functionalist and Buddhist models, how are you going to intelligently participate in a discussion about them?


KaseiJin;67594 wrote:
Science, put most basically in its original and pure sense, is to know of, or about, a matter.


Not quite. Science is about studying physicalness in a very specific way.


KaseiJin;67594 wrote:
When I see the flame burning the wood in the BBQ pit, and understand why (and there's no real reason to reduce it beyond any practical level) and how it's happening, that's science. When I reach to get that roasting chicken leg, and feel the pain of the heat, and see the hair on my wrist bend and twist in the scorch, and understand that event, it is science. When I savor that fine homemade beer, and understand how the sugar made that fine intoxication drink work, it is science.


If you think that is science, then you don't understand as much as you pretend. Science is an epistemology that hypothesizes reality is some way, and then attempts to observe reality behaving as hypothesized. It an investigative discipline, it is not a set of understandings or beliefs about reality. A person can be an atheist or a theist and practice science . . . or of any other persuasion.


KaseiJin;67594 wrote:
When I view that rising full moon, over the distant hill top as I enjoy that moment, and understand that the moon itself is not really rising, but rather that the earth is turning, it is science.


We understand how the moon behaves because of what we've discovered using science.

However, how do we learn about the enjoyment aspect? Some people enjoy life far more than others, and they don't need science for that. Understanding the universe's mechanics is one thing, learning to enjoy, love, appreciate, be at peace inside . . . they are based on learning something entirely different. But if you want to make yourself a computer going around reducing everything mechanics, be my guest.


KaseiJin;67594 wrote:
To observe, learn, and come to know, is science. Therefore, when you claim that there is a way of knowing which is not science, you are making a claim that is quite empty when it comes to hard evidence to support any reason for a claim to know.


Do you know what scientism is? It is the belief that only science reveals knowledge. In case you are unfamiliar with the term "scientism":
http://carbon.cudenver.edu/~mryder/scientism_este.html

I trust science 100% to reveal the secrets of physicalness. After a few hundred years of science, it has never revealed anything about the universe that isn't physical. Scientism proponents assume that because all they find through science is physicalness, then physicalness is all there is. Is that a proper conclusion?

If you only use your eyes to experience the world, should you assume because all you discover are visual images that reality is only visual images? Or that because you can't hear anything with your eyes there is no such thing as sound? Just as the eyes only produce vision, science only produces physical knowledge, and so if all you do is science, all you are going to discover is physicalness. However, that doesn't mean there aren't other ways to know, and that there aren't non-physical things to discover.

The logic problem with scientism was summed up nicely in the Skeptics Dictionary: "Scientism, in the strong sense, is the self-annihilating view that only scientific claims are meaningful, which is not a scientific claim and hence, if true, not meaningful. Thus, scientism is either false or meaningless." scientism - The Skeptic's Dictionary - Skepdic.com

Personally I think scientism belief (that only science reveals truth) is on par with blind religious belief . . . neither beliefs are proven true, it's just that scientism believers' delusions are smarter than the religious' delusions.


KaseiJin;67594 wrote:
My fellow poster, LWSleeth, it cannot be denied that you have started talking about the brain. And now, as you have made it clear that you wish to talk about the brain by means of some process of knowing without relying on science (as described above, you see), then I can only marvel at how that might be done--since you will probably have to use your brain to do so, and to use your brain will automatically entail the application of science (just as, actually, epistemological classed discussions on the brain all have to do).


Did you read my opening post? I most certainly did not "start" by talking about the brain; I specifically focused on the mind and asked that participants avoid the big question of if the brain does or does not create consciousness. If you want to believe the brain creates consciousness, you can answer my question; if you don't believe the brain creates consciousness, you can still answer my question.

The question I ask begins with the existence of a mind, regardless of what creates it! So what reason do we have for opening up an entirely separate discussion on the trueness of the neuronal model?

Dennett claims the sense people report of being an observer of their mental phenomena is an illusion created by incessant mental activity. That observer aspect is often how people define consciousness, and since there is no suitable physical explanation for it (as Chalmers and others have argued), Dennett is specifically trying to come up with a model that is physicalistic, and to do that he needs to eliminate that "observer" aspect.

The Buddha was able to achieve perfect peace, a perfectly still mind. Of course it becomes active when speaking or thinking, but in between mental activity one can achieve a remarkably still mind.

I brought brain into the discussion to say that by "still mind" I didn't mean we wouldn't detect brain waves in the mental stillness of someone like the Buddha. Brain waves persist, even when people are in comas. So my point was strictly stillness from the absence of thinking and imagining (which was also what Dennett cited), not brain wave stillness.

That issue is only relevant in this discussion to Dennett's attempt to eliminate the "observer" aspect of consciousness models. So once again I repeat, how can Dennett's model be correct if there are those of us who can stop thinking and imagining for periods of time, yet who still report the experience of an observer being present in conscious experience?

If you want to answer the question I specifically asked, please do. If you want to talk about how great the neuronal model is, start your own thread.


KaseiJin;67594 wrote:
Any concepts that you do have regarding the brain, will thus have to be an element of science, and will have to be tested (which has been, and is being done)


Bring in all the science you please . . . just stick to the problem I've outlined (Dennett's model of consciousness explaining the "observer" aspect). I honestly don't see why much science is needed to answer that question however.

If a person can stop thinking and the sense of an observer persists, then either there really is a central observer in consciousness, or Dennett's model needs to be adjusted. If it's "adjustment" you choose, then of course it must fit the facts and science may be needed after all.[/SIZE]

---------- Post added at 10:42 AM ---------- Previous post was at 10:25 AM ----------


[QUOTE=richrf;67650] As for Mr. Dennett, from what I gather, he is saying the the Self is created by a lot of Little Selves cooperating with each other. OK, if that is the way he wants to look at it. He says nothing about where these little selves come from, and what initiated their interaction. [/QUOTE]


[SIZE="3"]My understanding is that Dennett believes the brain just thinks on its own, the way a computer will keep computing with the right program and information to compute. Our senses give us constant information, so that's not a problem, plus the mind creates its own information too.

The bottom line is, Dennett's model says all that thinking and imagining creates the illusion that there is a single observer at the core of consciousness that controls what we do. In reality, he says, there is no central observer/controller, but rather choices are a culmination of mental activity that proceeds toward optimal outcomes. It is all automatic, it is wholly unconscious (the lots of little selves are the individual mental activiities, which themselves are unconscious). Basically, Dennett finds a way to portray us as Kripke's and Chalmer's zombies. Zombies (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

So I asked if the mind could be made to stop thinking, and the observer/controller still was present (as successful meditators report), then is there any way Dennett's model can be correct?[/SIZE]
richrf
 
  1  
Reply Tue 9 Jun, 2009 01:28 pm
@LWSleeth,
[QUOTE=LWSleeth;67697]My understanding is that Dennett believes the brain just thinks on its own, the way a computer will keep computing with the right program and information to compute. Our senses give us constant information, so that's not a problem, plus the mind creates its own information too.[/QUOTE]

A brain that thinks on its own? OK. Let's call that that the Mind, Consciousness, or whatever. Something that's thinking. Whether it is lots of little minds, or one big mind, is fine with me no matter how he wishes to construct it.

[QUOTE]The bottom line is, Dennett's model says all that thinking and imagining creates the illusion that there is a single observer at the core of consciousness that controls what we do. [/QUOTE]

This constant appeal to illusions, is not to my taste. Whether it is one or many is all the same to me. The little ones can each be their own individual mind making up one bigger one, that is making up a bigger one. Sort of like waves in an ocean. It's all OK, but I don't see why he has to call upon illusions to make his point. It does seem in vogue though to do it. Buddhism loves illusions.

[QUOTE]In reality, he says, there is no central observer/controller, but rather choices are a culmination of mental activity that proceeds toward optimal outcomes.[/QUOTE]

Who or what is doing the mental activity? What does he mean by automatic? What is optimal? I am sure he has some ideas on this, but I don't understand what he is getting at.

[Quote]So I asked if the mind could be made to stop thinking, and the observer/controller still was present (as successful meditators report), then is there any way Dennett's model can be correct?[/QUOTE]

I guess this is the guts of the question. I don't see how the mind can be stopped if it is all automatic. However, I do believe that the mind does stop, all on its own. It is the pendulum like movement that Bentov describes in Stalking the Wild Pendulum:

http://www.amazon.com/Stalking-Wild-Pendulum-Mechanics-Consciousness/dp/0892812028/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1244574449&sr=8-2


In this book, Bentov suggests that we are oscillating bodies (bodies in motion), and when the motion reaches the point of rest (like a pendulum), we become non-material for a very short period of time and expand into space at an almost infinite velocity.

Bentov is quite easy-going about all this, and doesn't think that it is such a big thing. It is natural, and we are all evolving because of it. I have posted a video excerpt on my blog where he discusses some of this:

The Evolving Universe | My Meaning of Life and Philosophy

I think at the moment the mind goes to sleep, it is at this point, and it revisits this point throughout sleep, when there is no concept of space and time.

Sleep, rest, time, space are all topics of great interest to me. I just don't understand what Dennett is driving at. I don't think we have to resort to illusions and reality in order to discuss the different states of consciousness, nor do we have to distinguish little minds from big minds.

Rich
0 Replies
 
yffer
 
  1  
Reply Tue 9 Jun, 2009 06:06 pm
@LWSleeth,
LWSleeth wrote:

So to be clear, I am not talking about the brain, since if it were wholly quiet we'd be dead.

Depends on what you man by, 'we'. (or self, I, me), and 'dead'.
Following with Gautama, there is no you to die. And consciousness doesn't arise from the brain, rather the brain, and all appearances, arise from, within consciousness.
[quote]Now, if we agree a mental stream of consciousness (and I'd include subconscious influences) is what we are talking about, [/quote]
I wouldn't use the word 'stream', as I think it refers more to what is being observed (content) then what is observing.
[quote]As a meditator, and student of past great meditators, I can state with utter conviction that is very possible to still the mind (and you can do it in a sensory deprivation chamber too). In that experience, not only is a knower present, the experience of knowing (knowing one exists) is heightened. If so, how can that possibly be reconciled with Dennett's model?[/quote]
Strange, I would have thought that from your meditation/contemplation experience you would be more oreinted towards the position that there is no self, no central controller, no thinker of thought, or any center at all.
Apparently there is a not-knowing that eventually emerges and replaces not only a sense of a knower, but also a sense that there is any knowing at all. As it goes, 'knower, known, knowing' are just objects in awareness. The foundation is a not-knowing.
[quote]Since it is all that mental activity which Dennett claims produces the sense of a central controller, then it should disappear if mentality ceases . . . it doesn't. In fact, the sense of a center is extraordinarily heightened.[/quote]
I would agree with Dennett, in that there is no center. (nondualism, nonlocality) There is no self for there to be a center. It's illusory. (re; Gautama, the heart sutra)
It's not necessarily, perhaps really not only a question of quieting the mind, but rather it is about taking a posture of no-choice. Neither desiring or rejecting quietude or noise. Neither this nor that. It's not easy since 'taking a posture' is making a choice, taking a stand, however, it's paradoxical. Either way, at some point this vast emptiness opens up or appears, as if it were always there, and apparently is was, and is.
[quote]Is there any possible way Mr. Dennett's model could be correct if the mind actually can be fully quieted?[/quote]
If the mind is fully quiet, there is no mind. For what is there to mind absent content? But, apparently consciousness remains. Consciousness without an object.
KaseiJin
 
  1  
Reply Tue 9 Jun, 2009 07:07 pm
@LWSleeth,
Let me see if I can work with you on this then. Is it true that you wrote the following in this thread?



LWSleeth;66714 wrote:
Well, let me make it clear what I mean by "quieting the mind" before we get into a debate about it. It is specifically to quiet that activity Dennett claims is key to the rise of our sense of being individually conscious. As I quoted him, "Your stream of consciousness is replete with an apparently unending supply of associations. As each fleeting occupant of the position of greatest influence gives way to its successors, any attempt to halt this helter-skelter parade and monitor the details of the associations only generates a further flood of evanescent states, and so on."

So to be clear, I am not talking about the brain, since if it were wholly quiet we'd be dead.
0 Replies
 
 

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