CONSCIOUSNESS: THE TRUE MYSTERY

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This topic contains 23 replies, has 6 voices, and was last updated by  Unseen 2 weeks, 2 days ago.

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  • #34351

    Unseen
    Participant

    Do you know that we know more about the deepest floor of the ocean, the dark side of the moon, even the birth of the universe than we know about consciousness?

    On one level, we know what it is because with it we are human, without it we are dead. However, on another level we have no answer to the follow up question “No, really, what is it? Where is it?

    On that latter point, when looking around, it’s easy to think “Consciousness is in my head, right behind my eyes.” But what about when you step on a tack? Is it in your foot? When you feel warm, where is it? What about when you are conscious of feeling dizzy, where is it? Or guilty?

    Starting to see how strange it is?

    We know all about the brain as a physical object, and clearly the brain has a lot to do with consciousness. Almost certainly, the brain produces our consciousness, but exactly how it does this we don’t understand at all.

    #34352

    jakelafort
    Participant

    I concur. It is the sine qua non. But wtf is it?

    Is it unique to carbon based organisms? How much does consciousness differ in our closest relatives? Do plants have it? Does the universe have it? Is it the same with organisms on other planets? Is evolution a process that is repeated ad infinitum and with it consciousness emerges in each case? Does AI super intelligence produce a different experience in consciousness? When humans trip the fuck out on ayahuasca or some other psycho active is there a new experience in consciousness or only in degree?

    Have you ever had a sudden unnerving sensation that is not easily explained but is like “where am i”…WHERE AM I? Ya ever notice that if you feel crappy all or most of the time that your life sucks? It might make ya realize that how we feel is paramount to our contentedness. That is sort of a nothing assertion and yet it is inescapable.

    #34354

    Unseen
    Participant

    We will have big decisions to make once AI is capable of emulating humans. If a robot is conscious, this introduces the ethical dimension of what regard do I owe the robot? What are the ethics of dealing with such robots?

    You see, here’s the essence of the problem: We don’t have a standard to apply. I would say that in the 20th Century the philosopher Wittgenstein really got us thinking about how we even know that other people are conscious. Or, worse, how do you know you are conscious and not dreaming or delusional? (Reference: The Matrix series of movies)

    These are all part and parcel of a branch or area of study in philosophy called Philosophy of Mind, whose main problem is (you guessed it, I  hope) The Problem of Other Minds.

    Here’s something to ponder: How can you know if other beings, human or robot, are conscious if you can’t even know whether you yourself are conscious. After all, you might be dreaming or delusional1

    #34360

    PopeBeanie
    Moderator

    Every human reading this has consciousness. I dare anyone to refute this simple fact without attracting postmodernist-like tripe. Personally, I take the approach that we need more empirical descriptions of it. Keep adding anecdotes and personal experiences (because by definition consciousness includes experiences), but more importantly, expand on the known and experimental science of it.

    The same kinds of studies on human consciousness should also be applicable in various degrees to other animals, especially primates. Some corvidae also have very interesting problem solving skills, which seem to be proportional to socialization skills. Perhaps degrees of consciousness vary proportionally to problem solving and social skills.

    As an aside, I’m taking this shameless opportunity to ask for input on how to improve or expand the Consciousness forum, here on AZ, but without distracting from this thread.

    #34364

    Unseen
    Participant

    Every human reading this has consciousness. I dare anyone to refute this simple fact without attracting postmodernist-like tripe. Personally, I take the approach that we need more empirical descriptions of it. Keep adding anecdotes and personal experiences (because by definition consciousness includes experiences), but more importantly, expand on the known and experimental science of it.

    I dare anyone to refute that there is no proof that anyone is conscious and not simply a crafty simulation of human behavior. There’s no logical fallacy involved in nor any known law of nature preventing there being such simulations, is there? There’s also no logical fallacy involved in nor any known law of nature preventing such a simulation being clothed in humanoid flesh.

    The same kinds of studies on human consciousness should also be applicable in various degrees to other animals, especially primates. Some corvidae also have very interesting problem solving skills, which seem to be proportional to socialization skills. Perhaps degrees of consciousness vary proportionally to problem solving and social skills.

    And the same points I’ve been making apply. If it were as simple as you are making it, we wouldn’t have Philosophy of Mind as a major field of philosophical study and discussion.

    As an aside, I’m taking this shameless opportunity to ask for input on how to improve or expand the Consciousness forum, here on AZ, but without distracting from this thread.

     

    • This reply was modified 2 weeks, 3 days ago by  Unseen.
    #34369

    Davis
    Moderator

    We know virtually nothing about consciousness (the tiniest tip of the iceberg) but apparently we already know everything there is to know about free will. Amazing isn’t it?

    #34370

    Davis
    Moderator

    Brain in a vat, elaborate simulation, solipsism. They are impossible to refute. However people who claim to know that we actually are a brain in a vat or in a simulation or that our mind (well one of us I guess) is all there is in the universe are actually impossible to discuss anything with. I don’t know unseen if you’ve ever debated with, for example, a solipsist but zheesh they are stubborn and every single one I ever talked to was clearly suffering from mental distress over it (and repeating the same nonsense, fallacies and a lot of “nuh-uh…is so”. I have  admitted that any of those scenarios is a possibility (though I think God existing is more likely than a solipsistic reality) yet believe none are worth taking seriously until evidence is produced. This is met with more hysteria and distress over the possibility that even this conversation is just created in their heads in an elaborate fantasy in their mind created for whatever reason yet one where they have no agency to control the parameters. I think some people should not be permitted to enter a philosophy institute.

    #34371

    I mentioned this “book of the week” recently in Sunday School.  I have attended a couple of the his guest lectures over the last few years. He is an expert in his field and he sometimes reminds me of Feynman.

    #34374

    Unseen
    Participant

    We know virtually nothing about consciousness (the tiniest tip of the iceberg) but apparently we already know everything there is to know about free will. Amazing isn’t it?

    The difference is that apparently there’s nothing to know about free will and everything to know about consciousness.

    Free will is easily explained away while we really have no idea what consciousness really is.

    #34375

    Unseen
    Participant

    Brain in a vat, elaborate simulation, solipsism. They are impossible to refute. However people who claim to know that we actually are a brain in a vat or in a simulation or that our mind (well one of us I guess) is all there is in the universe are actually impossible to discuss anything with. I don’t know unseen if you’ve ever debated with, for example, a solipsist but zheesh they are stubborn and every single one I ever talked to was clearly suffering from mental distress over it (and repeating the same nonsense, fallacies and a lot of “nuh-uh…is so”. I have admitted that any of those scenarios is a possibility (though I think God existing is more likely than a solipsistic reality) yet believe none are worth taking seriously until evidence is produced. This is met with more hysteria and distress over the possibility that even this conversation is just created in their heads in an elaborate fantasy in their mind created for whatever reason yet one where they have no agency to control the parameters. I think some people should not be permitted to enter a philosophy institute.

    So, if you’re not a solipsist, what is your explanation of what consciousness is, where it is, and how it’s produced?

    I’m not the lone wolf solipsist in the wilderness trapped in an unexplainable consciousness. Perhaps this is as good a place as any for this video:

    I’m not alone out here, Davis.

    • This reply was modified 2 weeks, 3 days ago by  Unseen.
    • This reply was modified 2 weeks, 3 days ago by  Unseen.
    #34378

    Unseen
    Participant

    I mentioned this “book of the week” recently in Sunday School. I have attended a couple of the his guest lectures over the last few years. He is an expert in his field and he sometimes reminds me of Feynman.

    I glanced it over and it looked like it’s probably much more interesting and understandable to someone with a background in a field like neurophysiology. I love science but I’m more a science appreciator than a scientist.

    Perhaps you could help us with an abstract a bright 6th grader could understand rather than a reading assignment most of us would be baffled by.

    The upshot of the article is…what?

    • This reply was modified 2 weeks, 3 days ago by  Unseen.
    #34380

    Unseen
    Participant

    I found another helpful video about consciousness by the same guy.

    #34381

    Unseen
    Participant

    Awareness and consciousness. What is the relationship? It seems you can be aware without the object of your awareness being in the consciousness. Even when I’m asleep, I’m aware to a degree. It isn’t just loud sounds that can awake me, it’s also unfamiliar or unexpected sounds, like a sound that normally happens only during daylight hours happening while I’m sleeping. I know something happened, but what it was isn’t something I’m conscious of. I just know something happened that awakened me with a start.

    Likewise, we can be conscious without being aware. Most of this do this all the time. We stare off into the distance ignoring what’s going on in our visual field, for example, but largely unaware of what’s going on. If I look out my window down the street while I’m thinking of, say, what to make for dinner, I’m not monitoring everything going on down there. I’m actually paying no attention to it at all. Until something intrudes on my consciousness like a car suddenly pulling out of a side street causing a collision. Then, suddenly, I’m aware.

    #34382

    Glen D
    Participant

    Not being a scientist, I’m afraid the conclusions I’ve reached on my own remain a bit muddled:

    First,  I reject cartesian dualism.   IE I’m unable to accept that consciousness/the mind  exists independently of the body due to a lack of  empirical evidence

    That consciousness is not an object, rather, it is a process, a dynamic of the living brain. Harm the brain, consciousness is harmed.  Destroy the brain, destroy consciousness/mind.

    BUT, what about memory?   I’m forced to concede that memory probably resides in a specific place or places with the mind. (?)  BUT if this is so, why does memory become altered over time?  Is is that the place where memory is stored decays  over time? OR it that  communicating synapses decay over time? Or both, OR neither?

    Wasn’t even looking when I came across this on Ted .

     

    #34385

    Davis
    Moderator

    Your level of confidence in all things about the mind (that you admit you know virtually nothing about) is staggering. Much be great to have such intellectual faith in your own ignorance.

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