Why Are We Conscious?

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This topic contains 168 replies, has 12 voices, and was last updated by  Simon Paynton 3 months ago.

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  • #25858

    PopeBeanie
    Moderator

    All of this ends up being what we “term” consciousness. Other animals that appear to be at least “self aware” also have communication abilities.

    I agree, and speaking of animal communication, body language is one of the most primal ways to communicate, usually originating internally/unconsciously, yet experienced and within our conscious control, to varying extents. Taking this one step further for humans, actors are good at intentionally originating body and verbal communication, with imagination.

    #25859

    Davis
    Participant

    I’ve read of research saying plants communicate externalia by emitting aromas/odors.

    You can say what you like about octopuses being conscious (though my skepticism is 99.9999%) but I would argue, with 100% confidence, that emitting a scent must cross a sufficiently enormous gulf of absent qualities to be considered self-aware, self-reflecting, internalising and personal-development. In otherwords, an organism whose apex of sophistication is releasing a scent…is not conscious. It is much closer to the definition of a photosynthesizing-robot. Otherwise, I don’t see any value using the term consciouss(ness) if it has become this diluted.

    • This reply was modified 3 months, 1 week ago by  PopeBeanie. Reason: bq fix
    #25868

    jakelafort
    Participant

    I think there is a basic question whether organically based life on our pale blue dot is capable of consciousness without a central nervous system.

    I think octopus are conscious. Octopuses solve complex problems. There are so many documented examples of their problem solving that it is a leap to assume that they are unaware and lacking in the subjective feelings of their experiences.

    I am not sure if this short vid is real.

    #25874

    Unseen
    Participant

    I think octopus are conscious. Octopuses solve complex problems. There are so many documented examples of their problem solving that it is a leap to assume that they are unaware and lacking in the subjective feelings of their experiences. I am not sure if this short vid is real.

    I think the video is tongue-in-cheek, but as to your comment, solving complex problems isn’t evidence that the problem solver, be it a person, animal, or computer is having an experience as they do so, and if you’re not having an experience, you’re not conscious.

    #25875

    PopeBeanie
    Moderator

    I think octopus are conscious. Octopuses solve complex problems. There are so many documented examples of their problem solving that it is a leap to assume that they are unaware and lacking in the subjective feelings of their experiences.

    Assuming (as I do) that consciousness must exist on a somewhat arbitrary scale from zero to modern humans, I’ll take a wild guesstimate and assume octopuses are way down there, say down to a fraction of one percent. Two thirds of their neurons are in their tentacles.

    I almost posted one or two vids of them opening a jar, fighting with each other and posturing (e.g. looking large and ratcheting up their coloring to white is common body language), and they learn to improve on tasks over time. Even with such a minuscule level of consciousness, it seems easy to see “why”  “how” it can be advantageous in situations that improve survival.

    Now, whether one can say they are “experiencing” something, or not, might be something only philosophers should declare. 🙂 Inserting tongue in cheek now. What’s the emoji for that?

    We can definitely say that they can’t see the Rubik’s cube’s colors when it’s tucked down there near the mouth.

    #25877

    PopeBeanie
    Moderator

    Just now talking about my mom’s decline during dementia makes me doubly certain that consciousness exists, as medical workers know, at various and varying levels of lucidity… which can be roughly (and routinely) measured (albeit not thoroughly empirically), respecting more than one kind or channel of conscious awareness, and the patient’s self-reported awareness.

    #25880

    Unseen
    Participant

    Just now talking about my mom’s decline during dementia makes me doubly certain that consciousness exists, as medical workers know, at various and varying levels of lucidity… which can be roughly (and routinely) measured (albeit not thoroughly empirically), respecting more than one kind or channel of conscious awareness, and the patient’s self-reported awareness.

    Pardon me, but that doesn’t prove anything. Behavior doesn’t prove that the one behaving is having experiences behind the behavior. Again, I refer you to a Turing Human who is simply responding in believable ways to inputs.

    #25881

    jakelafort
    Participant

    Unseen and Pope, very little doubt the vid of the Octo-whiz is a spoof.

    Unseen, i agree that without experience consciousness is absent.  I have read and seen enough on octopuses to be pretty sure they are uncanny problem solvers. Solving problems indicates intelligence. Intelligence is a sign of consciousness. There i said it!

    We ought to be aware of our human-centric bias and also our mammal-centric bias. African Grey parrots for instance are quite intelligent.  I wonder whether the neurons of the arms (not tentacles) communicate. It would be interesting to know how it fits with the link Reg had of integration. But as one of the speakers on one of the vids said the forbears of octopuses were in shells where they were protected. Intelligence was selected for since it aids survival of the otherwise vulnerable octopus. I believe (can’t prove) that consciousness is an emergent property of intelligence. Can’t have one without the other..

     

    #25882

    Simon Paynton
    Participant

    I think that the current view of consciousness is too limited.  Consciousness consists of both awareness and mental action.

    #25883

    Unseen
    Participant

    Unseen and Pope, very little doubt the vid of the Octo-whiz is a spoof. Unseen, i agree that without experience consciousness is absent. I have read and seen enough on octopuses to be pretty sure they are uncanny problem solvers. Solving problems indicates intelligence. Intelligence is a sign of consciousness. There i said it!

    “Intelligence is a sign of consciousness”? Do you mean consciousness in the sense of having experiences? So, a highly-developed AI like the computer Watson is experiencing itself and the world?

    Somehow, I doubt it. Any evidence that my doubt is misplaced?

    #25884

    Unseen
    Participant

    I think that the current view of consciousness is too limited. Consciousness consists of both awareness and mental action.

    WTF is “mental action”?

    #25886

    Simon Paynton
    Participant

    WTF is “mental action”?

    Thoughts and mental reasoning, for example.

    #25891

    jakelafort
    Participant

    Unseen, we cant extrapolate from the organic to inorganic.

    I am just observing the natural world. Whenever we see intelligent animals;  human animals, primates, birds etc we see variation in personality and idiosyncratic behavior. My assumption is that such animals are all conscious. In the same way when i was a kid and heard how humans are unique in so many ways i recoiled against that notion. If we are derived of the same origins as other animals it is incongruous to be unique in so many ways. The decades since then have vindicated my strong hunch. I feel the same way about consciousness.

    #25892

    Unseen
    Participant

    Unseen, we cant extrapolate from the organic to inorganic. I am just observing the natural world. Whenever we see intelligent animals; human animals, primates, birds etc we see variation in personality and idiosyncratic behavior. My assumption is that such animals are all conscious. In the same way when i was a kid and heard how humans are unique in so many ways i recoiled against that notion. If we are derived of the same origins as other animals it is incongruous to be unique in so many ways. The decades since then have vindicated my strong hunch. I feel the same way about consciousness.

    I, too, assume that people and animals are conscious, but there’s no actual reason to believe the assumption,. We all simply act on it. What else can we do? The best I can do is to argue from analogy, but any philosopher will tell you that analogies may be a good starting point for theorizing but aren’t the least bit probative.

    #25893

    jakelafort
    Participant

    Unseen are you questioning whether we humans are conscious?

    I am taking it for granted. And since we know we share so many genes and physiology and behavior with other animals it would be a surprise if we were the only conscious animal.

    Is that arguing from analogy? I suppose it is. I also think it is highly probative of the probabilities. Eventually when we identify the neural pathways, parts of the brain responsible for consciousness and any other objective manifestations of consciousness we will be able to test other animals. I am a professional gambler and i would wager heartily on the affirmative for many animals.

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