Consciousness without [the majority of] a brain?

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Sy Borg
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Re: Consciousness without a brain?

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Consul wrote: June 16th, 2021, 2:50 pm
Sy Borg wrote: June 16th, 2021, 12:40 am
Consul wrote: June 14th, 2021, 10:28 amA primitive sensorimotor mechanism as we find it in Amphioxi is brain-independent, but there is no reason to suppose that that mechanism involves some form of phenomenal consciousness. Amphioxi are phenomenal zombies!
Great quote but I still think you are judging phenomenal consciousness by human standards. Maybe the human standards are correct? Maybe not? We cannot measure subjectivity, only activity, so we can only make assumptions based on behaviour and body structures. Naturally, we best understand human consciousness. I suggest that only octopuses and leeches are greater outliers that humans when it comes to the phenomenon of consciousness, which means we are not ideal examples when it comes to understanding what it's like to be a very simple organism.
What exactly do you mean by "human standards"?
A general theory of P-consciousness must certainly be applicable to all P-conscious animals.
My human P-consciousness is the only one to which I have direct, first-person access (through introspection), and I cannot experience what it's like to be a nonhuman animal; but it doesn't follow that I cannot experience anything which is like (similar to) something experienced by a nonhuman animal.

QUOTE>
"We can’t hope for insight into, let alone a resolution of, the distribution of phenomenal consciousness across the animal kingdom without first settling on a theory of consciousness. And since our concept of phenomenal consciousness is a first-person one, that theory will need to be constructed primarily from evidence collected in our own case (the human case). The only truly direct evidence one has of phenomenal consciousness is one’s own, of course. But other people can provide us with evidence that comes close. Not only do they respond to the world (and to events happening to their bodies) in similar ways to oneself while sharing a nervous system and brain that closely resembles one’s own, but they can describe their experiences to us in the sorts of first-person ways that make it reasonable to believe that they, too, have experiences like this."

(Carruthers, Peter. Human and Animal Minds: The Consciousness Questions Laid to Rest. New York: Oxford University Press, 2019. pp. 69-70)
<QUOTE
"Human standards" = human consciousness. Our minds are very different to those of other mammals because we perceive the passing of time - recalling past events or projecting distant futures at will. Thus, our guesses regarding other species, including relatively similar minds of apes and dogs, are bound to be off the mark to some extent.

Birds and even reptiles are different again, but at least some of us also find them somewhat relatable. On the other hand, we cannot imagine what it's like to be an invertebrate. Some scientists today still claim that insects lack internality (P-consciousness, qualia, subjectivity). When we consider the behaviour of bees, ants, roaches, mantises, that notion is patently absurd. Insect behaviour is far too sophisticated to be "programmed", for them to be P-zombies.

Ditto cephalapods and other motile molluscs. When we look at the behaviours of some microbes, it certainly appears as though they feel their lives, that they are not entirely black inside. I think there will be structures found in microbes that pool sensory data into one conception, hence behaviours that are currently more sophisticated than one would expect, given that they not only lack neurons, they are smaller and simpler than them. Still, IIT makes clear that complexity is not enough, it's the type of complexity.

This leads us to sessile organisms. They also respond to stimuli, chemically rather than mechanically. There is cause for them to sense their environment and respond. While we assume that they respond the same way each time - that everything they do is automatic - there may be variations in these responses that have so far been too subtle to notice, or too infrequent to treat as statistically significant based on usual standards and rounding.

It may be possible for organisms to be largely "zombies" but they experience subjectivity under strong stimuli. This would work a little like Westworld's hosts, who only truly experienced their existence during extreme suffering. It may have taken time for relatively continuous P-consciousness to evolve, for organisms to "be present" in the events of their lives, logically starting with the most extreme events, which would surely be the immanent threat of death.

That would be a tad ironic. The threat of death as the first cause of subjective consciousness.
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Re: Consciousness without a brain?

Post by Consul »

Sy Borg wrote: June 16th, 2021, 9:05 pm…It may have taken time for relatively continuous P-consciousness to evolve, for organisms to "be present" in the events of their lives, logically starting with the most extreme events, which would surely be the immanent threat of death.
That would be a tad ironic. The threat of death as the first cause of subjective consciousness.
The evolutionary development of brains and minds with increasing degrees of structural and functional complexity was given a crucial boost by the start of "the Olympic Predator&Prey Games" in the animal kingdom. Eventually, nonconscious minds became conscious minds, the latter of which provided animals with additional, survival- and fitness-enhancing cognitive-behavioral tools such as increased flexibility and sophistication of control, more unified and densely integrated representation of reality, and more global informational access.

QUOTE>
"Five hundred million years ago, as little amphioxi and other simple creatures continued to dine serenely on the ocean floor, the Earth entered what scientists call the Cambrian period. During this time, something new and significant appeared on the evolutionary scene: hunting. Somewhere, somehow, one creature became able to sense the presence of another creature and deliberately ate it. Animals had gobbled one another before, but now the eating was more purposeful. Hunting didn’t require a brain, but it was a big step toward developing one.
The emergence of predators during the Cambrian period transformed the planet into a more competitive and dangerous place. Both predators and prey evolved to sense more of the world around them. They began to develop more sophisticated sensory systems. Amphioxi could distinguish light from dark, but newer creatures could actually see. Amphioxi had simple skin sensation, but newer creatures evolved a fuller sense of their body movements in the water and a greater sense of touch that allowed them to detect objects by vibration. Sharks today still use this kind of touch sense to locate prey.
With the arrival of greater senses, the most critical question in existence became Is that blob in the distance good to eat or will it eat me? Creatures who could better sense their surroundings were more likely to survive and thrive. The amphioxus may have been a master of its environment, but it couldn’t sense that it had an environment. These new animals could."
Lisa Feldman Barrett: Seven and a Half Lessons About the Brain
<QUOTE
"We may philosophize well or ill, but we must philosophize." – Wilfrid Sellars
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Re: Consciousness without a brain?

Post by Gertie »

Consul
(Carruthers, Peter. Phenomenal Consciousness: A Naturalistic Theory. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000. pp. 127-8)
<QUOTE

If I don't perceive the world, it is nothing for me; and if don't (ap)perceive my experience of the world, it is nothing for me either. However, despite this analogy, there is a relevant non-analogy, because the external, physical world exists independently of my perceptions of it, whereas (arguably) my internal, mental/experiential world doesn't exist independently of my (ap)perceptions of it. If the world is nothing for me, it is still there, being something in itself; but if my experience is nothing for me, it is not there, being nothing in itself.
I think the notion of an Experiencer Self as something different to the experiencing happening at any moment is mistaken, and introduces this idea of the experiencing Self being unaware of its experience - which becomes nonsensical. My experience isn't for me, it is me.


If we instead talk about an experiential sense of self as itself a way of experiencing, the sense of self as a manifestation of experience, we don't need this separate thing called an Experiencer. And can just note that sometimes attention and focus (whatever mechanisms are involved in that) can result in particular experience manifesting. So I might tune out the noises outside if I'm concentrating my attention on typing this post, partially or completely, and if I'm not aware of experiencing them, I'm not experiencing them. But a moment later I notice/experience them again.


The evolutionary pressure for focus, filtering and attention probably only arises with complex critters, and with humans that involves a whole host of factors which add up to an ongoing, moment by moment unified and discrete sense of identity, correlated with a specific body located in time and space.

This combo adds up to a sense of self for a human. Memory is a factor, the ability to self-reflect is a factor, as is the ability to create a model of the world and myself within it, the ability to create narratives, a unified field of consciousness which isn't a chaotic cacophany of sensory and cognitive passing impressions via filtering/focus/attention, etc. Brains comprise complex interacting subsystems, we need mechanisms to bring integration, order and comprehensibility to be useful, and from this emerges a sense of being a singular self. But that doesn't mean the self is a separate thing, an experiencer of experience. Rather it is the way humans have evolved to manifest experience to make the complex subsystems useful.


And as been pointed out, other species' phenomenal experience might be very different, might not even involve a sense of self. A very simple organism with few brain subsystems wouldn't need the sort of integration and filtering which results in a human sense of self.
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Re: Consciousness without a brain?

Post by Consul »

Gertie wrote: June 17th, 2021, 5:28 am
Consul wrote:If I don't perceive the world, it is nothing for me; and if don't (ap)perceive my experience of the world, it is nothing for me either. However, despite this analogy, there is a relevant non-analogy, because the external, physical world exists independently of my perceptions of it, whereas (arguably) my internal, mental/experiential world doesn't exist independently of my (ap)perceptions of it. If the world is nothing for me, it is still there, being something in itself; but if my experience is nothing for me, it is not there, being nothing in itself.
I think the notion of an Experiencer Self as something different to the experiencing happening at any moment is mistaken, and introduces this idea of the experiencing Self being unaware of its experience - which becomes nonsensical. My experience isn't for me, it is me.
No, experiencerless experience is impossible; and no experience can be an experiencer, because no experience can experience itself or be experienced by other experiences. The experiencing subject is experience-transcendent in the sense that it is not part of (the content of) its experience. However, the sensations through which subjects are conscious of or perceive themselves are certainly part of their experience, but subjects aren't bundles of sensations.
Gertie wrote: June 17th, 2021, 5:28 amIf we instead talk about an experiential sense of self as itself a way of experiencing, the sense of self as a manifestation of experience, we don't need this separate thing called an Experiencer. And can just note that sometimes attention and focus (whatever mechanisms are involved in that) can result in particular experience manifesting. So I might tune out the noises outside if I'm concentrating my attention on typing this post, partially or completely, and if I'm not aware of experiencing them, I'm not experiencing them. But a moment later I notice/experience them again.
The ontological subject-dependence and "for-the-subject-ness" of my experiences doesn't entail that I am always conscious of their actual mineness and my being their subject. Subjects can be deeply immersed in their experience in such a way that they become completely "self-forgetful". There are also pathological cases where a subject's sense of experiential ownership and subjecthood is gone; but the subject is still objectively there, even if it isn't subjectively aware of being a subject and owner of experience.
The bottom line, again, is that experiences without experience-transcendent experiencers are ontologically impossible.
"We may philosophize well or ill, but we must philosophize." – Wilfrid Sellars
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Re: Consciousness without a brain?

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The bottom line, again, is that experiences without experience-transcendent experiencers are ontologically impossible.
I just explained it to you. You didn't address what I said tho.

Anyway, if your claim is that an Experiencer Self (noun) ontologically exists independently of whether it is experiencing at any specific moment, what is it? Where is it? Are you just talking about the body as the Self?
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Re: Consciousness without a brain?

Post by Consul »

Gertie wrote: June 20th, 2021, 12:50 am
Consul wrote:The bottom line, again, is that experiences without experience-transcendent experiencers are ontologically impossible.
I just explained it to you. You didn't address what I said tho.
Anyway, if your claim is that an Experiencer Self (noun) ontologically exists independently of whether it is experiencing at any specific moment, what is it? Where is it? Are you just talking about the body as the Self?
You wrote:
"…This combo adds up to a sense of self for a human. Memory is a factor, the ability to self-reflect is a factor, as is the ability to create a model of the world and myself within it, the ability to create narratives, a unified field of consciousness which isn't a chaotic cacophany of sensory and cognitive passing impressions via filtering/focus/attention, etc. Brains comprise complex interacting subsystems, we need mechanisms to bring integration, order and comprehensibility to be useful, and from this emerges a sense of being a singular self. But that doesn't mean the self is a separate thing, an experiencer of experience. Rather it is the way humans have evolved to manifest experience to make the complex subsystems useful."

First of all, we can distinguish between objects which are actual, actually experiencing subjects and ones which are (merely) potential, potentially experiencing subjects (such as a dreamlessly sleeping person).

We have the awkward noun "self", the nouns "self-experience" and "self-perception", and the noun phrase and "(a/the) sense of self". What exactly is a self? I think it's simply a subject of experience. I also think selves are bodily selves and thus material objects: bodies, organisms, animals. And such selves or subjects are different from their experiences or perceptions, including their self-experience or self-perception, i.e. their experience or perception of themselves as selves or subjects.

By the way, even if selves/subjects are regarded as immaterial souls rather than as bodies, the immaterialist Berkeley fully agrees with me that experiencers are different from their experiencings, that souls are different from their "ideas":

(Philonus:) "How often must I repeat, that I know or am conscious of my own being; and that I myself am not my ideas, but somewhat else, a thinking active principle that perceives, knows, wills, and operates about ideas. I know that I, one and the same self, perceive both colours and sounds: that a colour cannot perceive a sound, nor a sound a colour: That I am therefore one individual principle, distinct from colour and sound; and, for the same reason, from all other sensible things and inert ideas."

(Berkeley, George. Three Dialogues between Hylas and Philonus, Third Dialogue. 1713.)
"We may philosophize well or ill, but we must philosophize." – Wilfrid Sellars
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Re: Consciousness without a brain?

Post by Consul »

Gertie, please see this post of mine: viewtopic.php?p=239270#p239270
(By the way, Foster believes that selves/subjects are immaterial objects. He wrote a book titled "The Immaterial Self".)
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Re: Consciousness without a brain?

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Philosophizing on consciousness without having a scientific background is like playing tennis without lines or a net. People will always make up things to make themselves feel special ....for them the ball will always be "in".!
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Re: Consciousness without a brain?

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NickGaspar wrote: June 24th, 2021, 12:52 pm Philosophizing on consciousness without having a scientific background is like playing tennis without lines or a net. People will always make up things to make themselves feel special ....for them the ball will always be "in".!
There are some indications that a scientific approach isn't going to lead to an answer when it concerns consciousness.

Science as we know it can’t explain consciousness – but a revolution is coming
https://theconversation.com/science-as- ... ing-126143

From that perspective, a philosophical attempt may be the best way forward to determine a path to an explanation. 'Thinking out of the box' or an outsiders perspective may be needed. Philosophy would allow for testing of plausibility.

There may be a great flaw with the scientific method and its correlated restriction to an empirical perspective on reality that has grave consequences for the scope of evolution of ideas for research and exploration.

The resulting dogma is so strong that humans in 2021 didn't even consider to test whether Earth life is possible at a further distance from Earth. The farthest distance that an animal or bacteria has traveled in space is the Moon and yet, humans are already investing trillions of USD for a manned mission to Mars in 2035.

The idea that life is passed on like a 🔥 fire
viewtopic.php?f=12&t=17408

What is the origin of the idea that life (consciousness) is like a 🔥 fire that is 'owned' on an individual level and why isn't that idea officially questioned to such an extent that it would have resulted in a test whether Earth life is possible further away from Earth?

The dogma that there is no more than the empirical causes people to believe that they 'own' life on an individual level.

It may be evidence of a great flaw in science and a restriction to an empirical perspective on reality.

According to basic logic, it is most logical that the origin of life lays outside the scope of an individual, and when considering, the origin most likely lays within the Solar system. From that perspective, the origin of life and consciousness is most likely the ☀️ Sun and the Neutrino particle or "Ghost Particle" may be the origin.

It is estimated that 10 trillion Neutrinos fly through every square centimeter of space per second, this includes underground and on the dark side of Earth. From that perspective, the Neutrino-biological cell theory of mind / life may be plausible.

Is there at least one clue that life is independent from the Solar system?

Based on this consideration, it appears logical to at least include the Sun, or perhaps even the core of the Earth, as potential origin of life until proven otherwise, and thus, to test whether Earth life can remain 'alive' further away from Earth.

Yet, it was never tested as of 2021 because empirical science didn't provide such a consideration a logical foundation and therewith noteworthiness. As a result, humans in 2021 assumed that they would suffice with some 🌎 Earth / 🌒 Moon based testing to conclude that they can safely explore the Solar system and are already investing trillions of USD for a mission to 🪐 Mars in 2035.
If life were to be good as it was, there would be no reason to exist.
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Re: Consciousness without a brain?

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NickGaspar wrote: June 24th, 2021, 12:52 pm Philosophizing on consciousness without having a scientific background is like playing tennis without lines or a net. People will always make up things to make themselves feel special ....for them the ball will always be "in".!
You could have just pointed out that Arjand was speculating and that great claims require great evidence. Instead you relied on a common and base ogical fallacy - argumentum ad hominem.

Ad hominem attacks have nothing to do with dispassionate scientific thinking and everything to do with emotional dogmatism.
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Re: Consciousness without a brain?

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The real miracle here is how matter creates mind which implies not only as situated in organic matter. The complexities of time and space itself relies on matter existing in one form or another. Matter is not some secondary reality as expressed by Plato, but the beginning and manifestation of EVERYTHING and all its derivatives as imagined or realized by us. Consciousness is the chemical expression of an extremely complex process whose interactions creates an experience greater than the sum of its parts. And why not, considering that DNA itself has an alphabet of only four letters to create all life on Earth from bacteria and viruses to humans who question if consciousness can exist without a brain!
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Re: Consciousness without a brain?

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Tegularius wrote: June 24th, 2021, 11:18 pm The real miracle here is how matter creates mind which implies not only as situated in organic matter. The complexities of time and space itself relies on matter existing in one form or another. Matter is not some secondary reality as expressed by Plato, but the beginning and manifestation of EVERYTHING and all its derivatives as imagined or realized by us. Consciousness is the chemical expression of an extremely complex process whose interactions creates an experience greater than the sum of its parts. And why not, considering that DNA itself has an alphabet of only four letters to create all life on Earth from bacteria and viruses to humans who question if consciousness can exist without a brain!
Is an extremely complex car greater than the sum of its parts?
True philosophy points to the Moon
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Re: Consciousness without a brain?

Post by Tegularius »

Atla wrote: June 25th, 2021, 2:21 am
Tegularius wrote: June 24th, 2021, 11:18 pm The real miracle here is how matter creates mind which implies not only as situated in organic matter. The complexities of time and space itself relies on matter existing in one form or another. Matter is not some secondary reality as expressed by Plato, but the beginning and manifestation of EVERYTHING and all its derivatives as imagined or realized by us. Consciousness is the chemical expression of an extremely complex process whose interactions creates an experience greater than the sum of its parts. And why not, considering that DNA itself has an alphabet of only four letters to create all life on Earth from bacteria and viruses to humans who question if consciousness can exist without a brain!
Is an extremely complex car greater than the sum of its parts?
Only if an extremely complex car is more conscious than you are.
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Re: Consciousness without a brain?

Post by Sy Borg »

Tegularius wrote: June 25th, 2021, 3:21 am
Atla wrote: June 25th, 2021, 2:21 am
Tegularius wrote: June 24th, 2021, 11:18 pm The real miracle here is how matter creates mind which implies not only as situated in organic matter. The complexities of time and space itself relies on matter existing in one form or another. Matter is not some secondary reality as expressed by Plato, but the beginning and manifestation of EVERYTHING and all its derivatives as imagined or realized by us. Consciousness is the chemical expression of an extremely complex process whose interactions creates an experience greater than the sum of its parts. And why not, considering that DNA itself has an alphabet of only four letters to create all life on Earth from bacteria and viruses to humans who question if consciousness can exist without a brain!
Is an extremely complex car greater than the sum of its parts?
Only if an extremely complex car is more conscious than you are.
Hmm, I would say that any functioning system, almost by definition, is greater than the sum of its parts, and not all systems are conscious, just as not all systems create motion.
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Re: Consciousness without a brain?

Post by Gertie »

Consul wrote: June 20th, 2021, 4:57 pm
Gertie wrote: June 20th, 2021, 12:50 am
Consul wrote:The bottom line, again, is that experiences without experience-transcendent experiencers are ontologically impossible.
I just explained it to you. You didn't address what I said tho.
Anyway, if your claim is that an Experiencer Self (noun) ontologically exists independently of whether it is experiencing at any specific moment, what is it? Where is it? Are you just talking about the body as the Self?
You wrote:
"…This combo adds up to a sense of self for a human. Memory is a factor, the ability to self-reflect is a factor, as is the ability to create a model of the world and myself within it, the ability to create narratives, a unified field of consciousness which isn't a chaotic cacophany of sensory and cognitive passing impressions via filtering/focus/attention, etc. Brains comprise complex interacting subsystems, we need mechanisms to bring integration, order and comprehensibility to be useful, and from this emerges a sense of being a singular self. But that doesn't mean the self is a separate thing, an experiencer of experience. Rather it is the way humans have evolved to manifest experience to make the complex subsystems useful."

First of all, we can distinguish between objects which are actual, actually experiencing subjects and ones which are (merely) potential, potentially experiencing subjects (such as a dreamlessly sleeping person).

We have the awkward noun "self", the nouns "self-experience" and "self-perception", and the noun phrase and "(a/the) sense of self". What exactly is a self? I think it's simply a subject of experience. I also think selves are bodily selves and thus material objects: bodies, organisms, animals. And such selves or subjects are different from their experiences or perceptions, including their self-experience or self-perception, i.e. their experience or perception of themselves as selves or subjects.

By the way, even if selves/subjects are regarded as immaterial souls rather than as bodies, the immaterialist Berkeley fully agrees with me that experiencers are different from their experiencings, that souls are different from their "ideas":

(Philonus:) "How often must I repeat, that I know or am conscious of my own being; and that I myself am not my ideas, but somewhat else, a thinking active principle that perceives, knows, wills, and operates about ideas. I know that I, one and the same self, perceive both colours and sounds: that a colour cannot perceive a sound, nor a sound a colour: That I am therefore one individual principle, distinct from colour and sound; and, for the same reason, from all other sensible things and inert ideas."

(Berkeley, George. Three Dialogues between Hylas and Philonus, Third Dialogue. 1713.)
OK, so your position is it's the material body which is the Experiencer Self (noun).

This is a neat and familiarly comfortable grammatical fit, and grammar reflects how we naturally think in terms of relationships and physicalist causality. It's what we see when we look around us at how the physical world works, and marks out the differentness of Subjective experience and agency. This feels like a natural, inevitable fit - Subject --> Verb --> Object.

I'm saying this type of framing isn't the best fit when discussing what is the Subject, the Self itself. It's trivially true to say that the body fits that grammatical framing, (or a soul (noun) would if you believe in that).

But it looks inadequate, because it doesn't capture the key differentiation feature of Selfness. Which is experiential. To say the Self is ''the subject of experience'' just adds ambiguity to me - what does it mean is actually going on?

Then the Body-Experiencer-Self has to tackle how a body can be an experiencing self one minute, and non-experiencing self the next. What does it mean to be a non-experiencing self - it's no different to being a dead body or P zombie, is that really capturing what it means to be a Self? And what would it mean for a body to self-reflect? Because when we self-reflect, we're not pondering our body, we are experiencing thinking about our experience of what it is like to be me.

So to meaningfully capture something worth calling Self, to examine what it means to be a Subject, we have to ask what is its nature, what is Being a Self, as opposed to not. Which is what I attempted to do in my post.

I propose a Human Self is a moment to moment process, which is an experiential sense of being a unified, discrete entity with a first person pov correlated with a specific body located in space and time.

And that this human experiential sense of self emerged as a result of of the evolutionary need to integrate highly complex subsystems into something experientially comprehensible and therefore useful.

So other less complex organisms may not have a similar sense of self, because there wasn't the evolutionary pressure to integrate for comprehensibility.
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