The March Philosophy Book of the Month is Final Notice by Van Fleisher. Discuss Final Notice now.

The April Philosophy Book of the Month is The Unbound Soul by Richard L. Haight. Discuss The Unbound Soul Now

The May Philosophy Book of the Month is Misreading Judas by Robert Wahler.

Consciousness, what is and what it requires?

Discuss any topics related to metaphysics (the philosophical study of the principles of reality) or epistemology (the philosophical study of knowledge) in this forum.
Post Reply
Kaz_1983
Posts: 257
Joined: May 26th, 2019, 6:52 am

Re: Consciousness, what is and what it requires?

Post by Kaz_1983 » November 9th, 2019, 12:30 am

What is consciousness anyways?

User avatar
RJG
Moderator
Posts: 1624
Joined: March 28th, 2012, 8:52 pm

Re: Consciousness, what is and what it requires?

Post by RJG » November 9th, 2019, 7:56 am

RJG wrote:"Experiencing exists, therefore an experiencer (named "I") exists!"

Experiencing exists - is the 'absolute' (undeniable/undoubtable) truth that Descartes was searching for (but never found).
Therefore, an Experiencer (named "I") exists -- is a 'logical' truth; logically derived.
Zelebg wrote:But the more general point you're making seem to be there is no emotion and no sensation without cognition…
No, not at all. Emotions, sensations (sensory), and cognition (thoughts) are all just bodily 'experiences' (bodily reactions). The consciousness (knowing) of these experiences are 'conscious experiences' (i.e. the knowing/recognizing of our bodily reactions/experiences).

Zelebg wrote:...should we say we experience thoughts or just that we're thinking?
These can be interpreted differently. One is 'passive' (the experiencing of thoughts), and the other can be interpreted as 'active' (the authoring/scripting of one's own experienced thoughts). Logically, we can only 'experience' thoughts, not 'think' them. We can only 'experience' the thoughts that pop into our head. Our knowing (consciousness) of these thoughts is always AFTER the fact. -- This confusion led to Descartes false belief in a dualism. He falsely believed that he was the conscious "thinker" of his thoughts, but in actuality he was/is only the conscious "experiencer" of his thoughts.

Zelebg wrote:In other words, is thinking the same thing as being sentient?
Assuming that "thinking" means "experiencing thoughts", then yes, I think most people agree that consciously experiencing thoughts is what makes us "sentient" beings.

Kaz_1983 wrote:What is consciousness anyways?
Consciousness is the experience of 'recognition', made possible by 'memory'. It is 'recognition' that translates the non-conscious bodily reactions into conscious experiences.

Kaz_1983
Posts: 257
Joined: May 26th, 2019, 6:52 am

Re: Consciousness, what is and what it requires?

Post by Kaz_1983 » November 9th, 2019, 11:40 am

RJG wrote:
November 9th, 2019, 7:56 am
Kaz_1983 wrote:What is consciousness anyways?
Consciousness is the experience of 'recognition', made possible by 'memory'. It is 'recognition' that translates the non-conscious bodily reactions into conscious experiences.
Okay the definition of "recognition"
1. Identification of someone or something or person from previous encounters or knowledge.

"she saw him pass by without a sign of recognition"
2. Acknowledgement of the existence, validity, or legality of something.

"the unions must receive proper recognition"
Babies don't have the ability of identification of someone or something from previous encounters. Babies also don't have the ability to acknowledge their existence either.

Does this mean babies aren't conscious?

User avatar
RJG
Moderator
Posts: 1624
Joined: March 28th, 2012, 8:52 pm

Re: Consciousness, what is and what it requires?

Post by RJG » November 9th, 2019, 12:14 pm

Kaz_1983 wrote:Babies don't have the ability of identification of someone or something from previous encounters. Babies also don't have the ability to acknowledge their existence either.

Does this mean babies aren't conscious?
Correct, not initially anyways. Without a developed memory capability, they are essentially just little "experientially reactive" animals (beings). They can't "know" (recognize) what they experience until their memory capability develops.

Without memory, there can be no experience of recognition, and therefore no consciousness. (Similarly, and for example -- without eyes, there can be no experience of seeing, etc. etc.)

Kaz_1983
Posts: 257
Joined: May 26th, 2019, 6:52 am

Re: Consciousness, what is and what it requires?

Post by Kaz_1983 » November 9th, 2019, 12:28 pm

RJG wrote:
November 9th, 2019, 12:14 pm
Kaz_1983 wrote:Babies don't have the ability of identification of someone or something from previous encounters. Babies also don't have the ability to acknowledge their existence either.

Does this mean babies aren't conscious?
Correct, not initially anyways. Without a developed memory capability, they are essentially just little "experientially reactive" animals (beings). They can't "know" (recognize) what they experience until their memory capability develops.

Without memory, there can be no experience of recognition, and therefore no consciousness. (Similarly, and for example -- without eyes, there can be no experience of seeing, etc. etc.)
https://www.scientificamerican.com/arti ... ess-arise/

Kaz_1983
Posts: 257
Joined: May 26th, 2019, 6:52 am

Re: Consciousness, what is and what it requires?

Post by Kaz_1983 » November 9th, 2019, 12:32 pm

Which animals possess consciousness?

User avatar
RJG
Moderator
Posts: 1624
Joined: March 28th, 2012, 8:52 pm

Re: Consciousness, what is and what it requires?

Post by RJG » November 9th, 2019, 2:21 pm

Kaz_1983 wrote:Which animals possess consciousness?
If you instead asked me "Which animals possess sight (can experience seeing)?", I would answer "Those that possess 'eyeballs' have the capability of seeing".

And likewise, to answer "Which animals possess consciousness (can experience recognition)?", I would answer "Those that possess 'memory' have the capability of recognizing (being conscious; knowing their experience)".

Tests can be done for both sight and consciousness (recognition). I suspect many different animals possess consciousness. But this does not imply that they have conscious thoughts like you and I. It just means that they "knowingly" recognize their particular bodily experiences (bodily interactions/sensations with the world around them), and then auto-react accordingly.

In other words, all animals are "experientially reactive", but those with eyes have the capability to also experience seeing, and those with memory have the capability to also experience the "knowing" of their bodily experiences/reactions.

User avatar
Felix
Posts: 3062
Joined: February 9th, 2009, 5:45 am

Re: Consciousness, what is and what it requires?

Post by Felix » November 9th, 2019, 2:32 pm

RJG: In other words, all animals are "experientially reactive", but those with eyes have the capability to also experience seeing, and those with memory have the capability to also experience the "knowing" of their bodily experiences/reactions.
That's not a helpful distinction: it's been demonstrated that all animals and even plants have some form of memory, an organism incapable of learning from experience could not adapt to its environment and survive.
"We do not see things as they are; we see things as we are." - Anaïs Nin

User avatar
h_k_s
Posts: 777
Joined: November 25th, 2018, 12:09 pm
Favorite Philosopher: Aristotle
Location: Rocky Mountains

Re: Consciousness, what is and what it requires?

Post by h_k_s » November 9th, 2019, 3:49 pm

RJG wrote:
November 7th, 2019, 1:51 pm
h_k_s wrote:I too go back to Descartes' "Cogito ergo sum" as being the very beginning of all philosophical thinking.
Descartes did not go back far enough. He forgot that it is the "experiencing" (of-thoughts) that precedes and allows for his thoughts of "I". -- The correct "beginning point" is therefore --> Experiencing exists, therefore I (the experiencer) exist.

Without the "experience of thought", there could be no "thought of I". It is the "experiencing" that is most certain, (NOT the content of said experience), and therefore, "experiencing exists" is the true "beginning point" to all true knowledge.

This is an important clarification, otherwise Descartes statement falsely presumes dualism (both a thinker (author/creator) of thoughts and a body), when in actuality there is only an experientially-reactive monistic body (just an 'experiencer' of thoughts, and sensations/feelings/urges and other experiences, ...and nothing more).
You @RJG have raised a good point -- which is -- what comes first? (A) the experiencing or (B) the thinking about the experiencing?

That's a very hard nut to crack.

I don't think we can know the answer to that question.

Descartes and I myself both assume that the thinking about the experience comes first.

You obviously assume that the experiencing comes first.

I don't think these two views can/will ever be reconciled.

User avatar
h_k_s
Posts: 777
Joined: November 25th, 2018, 12:09 pm
Favorite Philosopher: Aristotle
Location: Rocky Mountains

Re: Consciousness, what is and what it requires?

Post by h_k_s » November 9th, 2019, 3:58 pm

Do unborn fetuses (feti) think or dream?

They probably don't dream because they have zero experiences to dream about yet.

But do they think? Do they wonder any of these questions:

- Where am I?

- What am I?

- What am I experiencing right now?

That's a really hard nut to crack.

Humankind each starts out as an unborn fetus. Then with birth there is the rush of experiences including movement, then cold, then noise, then light, then warmth, then comfort, then nourishment, then sleep.

The tabula rasa first mentioned by Aristotle (I like to throw actual philosophical knowledge into my own philosophical thought problems whenever I can, hence Aristotle etc.) then begins to fill up fast.

After eating and sleeping follow pooping, peeing, and clean-up.

If only we knew what goes through a newborn's mind? We once did know but we have long since forgotten those days and nights and the events and thoughts that came during them.

User avatar
h_k_s
Posts: 777
Joined: November 25th, 2018, 12:09 pm
Favorite Philosopher: Aristotle
Location: Rocky Mountains

Re: Consciousness, what is and what it requires?

Post by h_k_s » November 9th, 2019, 4:00 pm

Zelebg wrote:
November 3rd, 2019, 8:23 pm
Let me try...

To be conscious is to have experience.

To experience is to feel extern senses or inner emotions.

Any experience is a feeling: taste, vision, joy, desire...

Any experience is necessarily subjective experience.

Subjective experience requires the subject, that is "self".

Consciousness requires, or is, self-awareness.

To be self aware requires, or is, to have thoughts

Thoughts require intelligence.

Consciousness requires, or is, intelligence.

To feel requires intelligence, i.e. thoughts, i.e. consciousness, i.e. self-awareness.
At this point @Zelebg I am detecting a flaw in your assumptions.

If you look closely at my above example of a human fetus shortly before birth, you will see that consciousness is indeed possible WITHOUT having any experience, yet.

User avatar
RJG
Moderator
Posts: 1624
Joined: March 28th, 2012, 8:52 pm

Re: Consciousness, what is and what it requires?

Post by RJG » November 9th, 2019, 5:23 pm

Felix wrote:...it's been demonstrated that all animals and even plants have some form of memory…
Agreed. ...and hence the reasoning that if we wish to test for 'consciousness', then we need to test for 'recognition', and not just 'memory' function.

Again, and to be clear, ''memory" does not necessarily imply "consciousness" (recognition). They are not both mutually dependent. In other words: We can have memory without consciousness, but we can't have consciousness without memory. (e.g. ...we can have apples without applesauce, but we can't have applesauce without apples.)

Non-conscious "memory" function is needed for many bodily functions other than just for consciousness (recognition).

Felix wrote:...an organism incapable of learning from experience could not adapt to its environment and survive.
Agreed. "Memory" is therefore vital to survival. This does NOT mean, nor does it imply, that "consciousness" is vital for survival.

h_k_s wrote:Descartes and I myself both assume that the thinking about the experience comes first.
HK. I think you are mistaking "thinking" with "consciousness". When we consciously experience thoughts, this means that 'Thoughts are Experiences that we are Conscious of'. It does NOT mean that Thoughts ARE Consciousness.


h_k_s wrote:Do unborn fetuses (feti) think or dream?

They probably don't dream because they have zero experiences to dream about yet.

But do they think? Do they wonder any of these questions:

- Where am I?

- What am I?

- What am I experiencing right now?
Unborn fetuses cannot think or dream these thoughts because they haven't yet learned any of these words and its meanings/concepts yet. Their library of stored knowledge (memory) is mostly empty at this point.

User avatar
h_k_s
Posts: 777
Joined: November 25th, 2018, 12:09 pm
Favorite Philosopher: Aristotle
Location: Rocky Mountains

Re: Consciousness, what is and what it requires?

Post by h_k_s » November 9th, 2019, 6:11 pm

RJG wrote:
November 9th, 2019, 5:23 pm
Felix wrote:...it's been demonstrated that all animals and even plants have some form of memory…
Agreed. ...and hence the reasoning that if we wish to test for 'consciousness', then we need to test for 'recognition', and not just 'memory' function.

Again, and to be clear, ''memory" does not necessarily imply "consciousness" (recognition). They are not both mutually dependent. In other words: We can have memory without consciousness, but we can't have consciousness without memory. (e.g. ...we can have apples without applesauce, but we can't have applesauce without apples.)

Non-conscious "memory" function is needed for many bodily functions other than just for consciousness (recognition).

Felix wrote:...an organism incapable of learning from experience could not adapt to its environment and survive.
Agreed. "Memory" is therefore vital to survival. This does NOT mean, nor does it imply, that "consciousness" is vital for survival.

h_k_s wrote:Descartes and I myself both assume that the thinking about the experience comes first.
HK. I think you are mistaking "thinking" with "consciousness". When we consciously experience thoughts, this means that 'Thoughts are Experiences that we are Conscious of'. It does NOT mean that Thoughts ARE Consciousness.


h_k_s wrote:Do unborn fetuses (feti) think or dream?

They probably don't dream because they have zero experiences to dream about yet.

But do they think? Do they wonder any of these questions:

- Where am I?

- What am I?

- What am I experiencing right now?
Unborn fetuses cannot think or dream these thoughts because they haven't yet learned any of these words and its meanings/concepts yet. Their library of stored knowledge (memory) is mostly empty at this point.
@RJG You seem to be the spokesman for all the unborn fetuses (feti).

Did they elect you to that office ??

Do you remember specifically being a fetus ??

I know those are loaded questions, but I could not resist.

Rhetoric can be extremely entertaining although morally corrupt as a branch of Sophism.

Gee
Posts: 217
Joined: December 28th, 2012, 2:41 am
Location: Michigan, US

Re: Consciousness, what is and what it requires?

Post by Gee » November 9th, 2019, 6:47 pm

Zelebg wrote:
November 3rd, 2019, 8:23 pm
Let me try...

To be conscious is to have experience.

To experience is to feel extern senses or inner emotions.

Any experience is a feeling: taste, vision, joy, desire...

Any experience is necessarily subjective experience.

Subjective experience requires the subject, that is "self".

Consciousness requires, or is, self-awareness.

To be self aware requires, or is, to have thoughts

Thoughts require intelligence.

Consciousness requires, or is, intelligence.

To feel requires intelligence, i.e. thoughts, i.e. consciousness, i.e. self-awareness.
Hi. You have picked a difficult subject.

I would say that consciousness is essentially communication that can be internal or external. This communication can be in thought, emotion, experience, or even chemical, as long as it communicates within or between "self/s".

What is "self"? That would be awareness + identity (as in panpsychism). Anything that has awareness and an identity, or matter, is conscious of some things to some degree. All life is conscious.

When you add in things like intelligence, thought, self-awareness, etc., you confuse the issue and turn the discussion into a study of human consciousness. Are you looking at consciousness, or human consciousness? Cause I know some humans, who are dumber than a box of rocks -- grass is not very bright either. (chuckle)

Gee

Gee
Posts: 217
Joined: December 28th, 2012, 2:41 am
Location: Michigan, US

Re: Consciousness, what is and what it requires?

Post by Gee » November 9th, 2019, 7:34 pm

RJG wrote:
November 6th, 2019, 8:24 am
RJG wrote:True "self-awareness" is a myth; a logical impossibility.
chewybrian wrote:To deny self-awareness implies that there is nothing of which we might be aware.
Not so, you can be aware of anything you like, EXCEPT your-"self".

Pick up a rock, tap it on anything you like, now tap it on itself. Impossible, ...right?

With the tip of your index finger, touch anything you like, now make it touch itself. Impossible, ...right?

That which is aware, i.e the "awarer", cannot be aware of himself. You cannot be both the 'observer' and the 'observed' simultaneously.

Logical impossibility #1: We can't be in 2 places at 1 time.

Sure we can, just stand in front of a mirror.
RJG wrote:
November 6th, 2019, 8:24 am
chewybrian wrote:I am necessarily more aware of myself than I am of any other person or thing.
Not so. You are only aware of an IDEA of your-"self", but never of your-"self" itself.

Logical impossibility #2: We can only experience 'experiences' (thoughts, ideas, sensations, etc), not 'actual' things, or "selfs" themselves.

*** True "self-awareness" is a 'myth'. It is one of the many "feel-good" falsehoods that we refuse to let go of.
We refuse to let go of these ideas because they are valid, not falsehoods at all. Please note that I am not disputing your logic, which is valid and good. It is your information that I am disputing.

We are humans, which means that we have an advanced brain, allowing us to have a rational aspect of mind along with the unconscious aspect. This allows us to have two perspectives. Most people believe that the rational mind is the "self" -- it is not -- it is the reflection. The true "self" sources from the unconscious aspect, which we can not know, which is why it is unconscious. So yes we can see our "self" in the rational aspect in the same way that we can see our "self" in a mirror. It is not a "true" reflection, but it is enough for us to have self-awareness.

We are discovering that other species are also self-aware, which means that they also have a rational aspect of mind. Interesting.

Gee

Post Reply