Truly, What Is Consciousness?

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Belindi
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Re: Truly, What Is Consciousness?

Post by Belindi » April 10th, 2017, 5:45 pm

Greta wrote:Our difficulties in understanding consciousness may be related to our similar difficulties with time and the possibility that the arrow of time is purely an observer effect. Einstein famously said that the distinction between past, present, and future is only a persistent illusion.
That's because we can perceive only relatively, within temporal or spatial parameters. That is why we cannot perceive absolutes such as perfect good, or eternity, or God, or consciousness, or the number fourteen, except as analogies of relative phenomena.

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JamesOfSeattle
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Re: Truly, What Is Consciousness?

Post by JamesOfSeattle » April 10th, 2017, 5:57 pm

To answer the OP, I think consciousness is those things related to certain kinds of processes or events. I have called the basic process a psychule. A psychule can be expressed thusly:

Input(discreet set of physical variables) --[agent]--> output(discreet set of physical variables)

The statement of this formula would be: a psychule is an event wherein , when an agent is presented a specific set of physical variables, the agent will produce a different set of physical variables (output) with some probability above chance, and the agent remains relatively unchanged and capable of repeating the process.

Because any physical object can be an agent for at least one psychule, we get a kind of panpsychism. However, the very simple psychules available from a hydrogen atom are not very interesting in terms of consciousness. Nevertheless, simple psychules can be combined in serial and in parallel to give more complex and more interesting higher order psychules. Ultimately, psychules can be combined and recombined to produce all of the things we associate with consciousness.

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Re: Truly, What Is Consciousness?

Post by Belindi » April 10th, 2017, 6:02 pm

James of Seattle wrote:
Ultimately, psychules can be combined and recombined to produce all of the things we associate with consciousness.
Only if psychules ' combining and recombining includes combining and recombining qualities as well as quantities.

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Re: Truly, What Is Consciousness?

Post by JamesOfSeattle » April 10th, 2017, 6:58 pm

Belindi, I'm not sure how I would mean combining qualities as well as quantities. I mean combining outputs of one psychule to inputs of another.

A --[agent 1]--> B and B --[agent 2]--> C gives A --[agent 3]--> C.

And this plus E --[agent 4]--> F can give A+E -->[agent 5]--> C+F.

Does that help?

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Re: Truly, What Is Consciousness?

Post by Belindi » April 10th, 2017, 7:31 pm

JamesOfSeattle wrote:Belindi, I'm not sure how I would mean combining qualities as well as quantities. I mean combining outputs of one psychule to inputs of another.

A --[agent 1]--> B and B --[agent 2]--> C gives A --[agent 3]--> C.

And this plus E --[agent 4]--> F can give A+E -->[agent 5]--> C+F.

Does that help?

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Helps only if for instance

A ( the poet Wordsworth) > B (me) > C (recollection in tranquillity of daffodils)

or another example

A ( Johann Strauss ) > B( a fashionable dancer in 19th century Vienna)> C (pleasure in the waltz)

or yet another example

A ( Me)> B (my dog) > C(a specially good dog's dinner)

or

A ( wet washing needs drying)> B(it's raining)> C(dry it indoors)

and so on.
Except when we are concentrating upon manipulating symbols , human meanings don't exist unless they are both qualifiable as well as quantifiable. When machines feel qualia they will be as aware of meanings as any animal.

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Re: Truly, What Is Consciousness?

Post by JamesOfSeattle » April 10th, 2017, 8:49 pm

Belindi, I don't think you quite have the combination concept I'm trying to convey.
Belindi wrote: Except when we are concentrating upon manipulating symbols , human meanings don't exist unless they are both qualifiable as well as quantifiable. When machines feel qualia they will be as aware of meanings as any animal.
I would say these statements are correct, but the explanation would be quite detailed, and involve neurons. If you want to get a flavor, I would google Chris Eliasmith and "semantic pointers"

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Re: Truly, What Is Consciousness?

Post by Woodart » April 10th, 2017, 9:05 pm

Present awareness wrote:What you are saying, Consul, reminds me of the saying "I think, therefore I am". However, existence already IS, so it may be more accurate to say "I am, therefore, I think I am".

I disagree with idea of “I am, therefore, I think I am”. You must be absolutely certain beyond a shadow of a doubt that you exist. Descartes did have his equation backwards; it should read “I am, therefore, I think”. In order to scientifically prove that you exist for sure – perform the following laboratory experiment exactly as stated:

1- Place your left hand palm down on a table top.
2- Take 28 oz. framing hammer in your right hand.
3- Strike your left hand as hard as you can.
4- Observe your reaction
5- If you feel pain – you exist
6- If you don’t feel pain – all is illusion and you may not exist.

I hope this scientific experiment works for you, if, you are not sure you exist.



Present awareness wrote: To attempt to divide the present moment into time, works on a practical level, but no such division exists in reality. Regardless of what time you may think it is, it will always be NOW.

I agree we are prisoners of the now. We were born in the now and we have not left it since birth. We divide our existence with different types of clocks, but the perception of time passing is always observed in the present moment. The first clock was probably the steady beat of a drum. The drum has always been used in human activity to keep time. As our technological ability increased, the drum gave way to the metronome. Now we have digital watches that are synced with atomic clocks.

However, the first human to have a real concept/understanding of time was a menstruating woman. A regular menstruating woman is a walking clock. Time as an abstract thought, was a very practical matter, and came first to women. And the consequences of menstruation go way beyond just the idea of time.

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Re: Truly, What Is Consciousness?

Post by Belindi » April 11th, 2017, 3:58 am

James of Seattle, I agree .My examples are too simple by far. I am aware that neurons enter into decisions made, and causes and effects resulting in events.

I suspected that I didn't understand this psychules business. My intention with those illustrations was to show the bare form of the psychule theory, as it might be. That I didn't mention neurons is not enough to upset those basic illustrations of cause and effect.

I did look up as you recommended, but only scanned very briefly when I found that the research is about making a simulacrum of a working brain.
Sensory processing, memory formation, reasoning, and motor control are undoubtedly mediated by and often controlled by the brain.
However what this thread is about is not AI technology. It's about qualia. Qualia, i.e. the subjective feelings of the quality of experience are not explicable by simulacra of sensory processing, memory formation, reasoning, and motor control despite that qualia are concerned in the latter.

It's quality of experience that "What is Consciousness" means, not quantifying solely the loci and type of functions of brains. My desk top computer does this in a
limited way but it doesn't experience quality. Once that quality of experiences is analysed into quantifiable qualia then we can begin to correlate quality of experience to observable sensory processing, memory formation, reasoning, and motor control.

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Re: Truly, What Is Consciousness?

Post by Spraticus » April 11th, 2017, 5:50 am

Consul wrote:
Spraticus wrote:Which leads to the question, what is subjective experience?
When asked "What is Jazz?", Louis Armstrong replied: "Man, if you have to ask, you'll never know!"

"The term 'experience' has no theoretical charge. It refers only to something with which every normal human being is profoundly familiar."

(Strawson, Galen. Mental Reality. 2nd ed. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2009. p. 317)

Strawson is right. Your subjective experience at this moment is simply the sum total of your present sensations, emotions, and imaginations (including thoughts); and you cannot make me believe that you have no idea what I'm talking about, that you have no idea what it means and what it is like to sense, feel, imagine, or think something.


I know what I mean by it but I wanted to know how you were defining it. To jump from the word, "consciousness", which we are asked to explain, to, "subjective experience", but without expanding on that, is where I had a problem. As it happens, I probably agree with you. Consciousness is in some way the experience of the flow of salient inputs from the body, the environment and from internal brain sources. How the brain manages to be aware is the obvious question.

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Re: Truly, What Is Consciousness?

Post by Consul » April 11th, 2017, 6:23 am

Present awareness wrote:What you are saying, Consul, reminds me of the saying "I think, therefore I am". However, existence already IS, so it may be more accurate to say "I am, therefore, I think I am".
That's a spurious therefore, because it is not the case that I am only if I think I am.
Present awareness wrote:The experiencer and the experienced, are two sides of ONE coin.
There is no (actual) experiencer without an experience, and vice versa; nonetheless there is a difference.
Present awareness wrote:Dualism, is the grand illusion of abstract thinking. All thoughts are expressed in language and all language is dualistic, since sounds are used representing things which are not sounds.
Of course, there is a difference between a representation (sign) and what it represents.
Present awareness wrote:We may mentally divide our body into thousands of parts, and give them whatever names we choose, but in reality there is no such division.
Nature is not an intrinsically undifferentiated, form- and structureless blob. There are natural classes of things that aren't "conceptual constructs".
"We may philosophize well or ill, but we must philosophize." – Wilfrid Sellars

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Re: Truly, What Is Consciousness?

Post by Belindi » April 11th, 2017, 8:54 am

Consul wrote:
Nature is not an intrinsically undifferentiated, form- and structureless blob. There are natural classes of things that aren't "conceptual constructs".
Can those natural classes that aren't "conceptual constructs" be identified. If not, how do you know?

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Re: Truly, What Is Consciousness?

Post by Consul » April 11th, 2017, 10:05 am

Belindi wrote:
Consul wrote:Nature is not an intrinsically undifferentiated, form- and structureless blob. There are natural classes of things that aren't "conceptual constructs".
Can those natural classes that aren't "conceptual constructs" be identified. If not, how do you know?
(This is off-topic here, so here's just a concise answer:)

"Among all the countless things and classes that there are, most are miscellaneous, gerrymandered, ill-demarcated. Only an elite minority are carved at the joints, so that their boundaries are established by objective sameness and difference in nature."

(Lewis, David. "Putnam's Paradox." 1984. Reprinted in Papers in Metaphysics and Epistemology, 56-77. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999. p. 65)

That is, natural (non-conventional) classes are identifiable in terms of (observable) objective resemblances or similarities between things. But since there are different degrees of resemblance or similarity, with things being more or less similar to each other, there are also different degrees of naturalness: not all natural classes are equally natural; some are more or less natural than others, with some being perfectly natural and others being imperfectly natural. A perfectly natural class is one whose members are qualitatively identical, i.e. (intrinsically) indistinguishable duplicates, such as the class of electrons: every electron is perfectly similar to any other electron. The classes of elementary particles and the ones of chemical elements are perfectly natural.
"We may philosophize well or ill, but we must philosophize." – Wilfrid Sellars

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Re: Truly, What Is Consciousness?

Post by Belindi » April 11th, 2017, 11:21 am

Thanks Consul for how to identify natural classes.

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Re: Truly, What Is Consciousness?

Post by Woodart » April 11th, 2017, 1:14 pm

There is a lot of quibbling around here. Is that because people don’t understand the question at hand? Or perhaps it is a good way to avoid the question for lack of a distinct answer?

Consciousness is fundamentally self-awareness. This means I am aware I exist. Sometimes, I am aware it is Tuesday or that my shoes are untied. When I first get up in the morning, I may not know what day it is, or if I have shoes on; but I know – this is me. The question is, as I see it, what is being aware? I am aware of me first – then, if I am hungry, horny, aching, sleepy, happy – sad or mad. I think it is very valid to ask why am I aware? And why I feel a certain way – say horny and mad. But what is the “stuff” of awareness? I think the key understanding lies in the realm of perception of self. I see and hold a picture of myself in my mind’s eye – consciousness. Why do I have a picture and how did I get it?

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Re: Truly, What Is Consciousness?

Post by Belindi » April 11th, 2017, 1:21 pm

Woodart wrote:There is a lot of quibbling around here. Is that because people don’t understand the question at hand? Or perhaps it is a good way to avoid the question for lack of a distinct answer?

Consciousness is fundamentally self-awareness. This means I am aware I exist. Sometimes, I am aware it is Tuesday or that my shoes are untied. When I first get up in the morning, I may not know what day it is, or if I have shoes on; but I know – this is me. The question is, as I see it, what is being aware? I am aware of me first – then, if I am hungry, horny, aching, sleepy, happy – sad or mad. I think it is very valid to ask why am I aware? And why I feel a certain way – say horny and mad. But what is the “stuff” of awareness? I think the key understanding lies in the realm of perception of self. I see and hold a picture of myself in my mind’s eye – consciousness. Why do I have a picture and how did I get it?

But those people who experience multiple selfs, or those demented persons who lose sense of self, are conscious.

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