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.
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Gee
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Re: Consciousness, what is and what it requires?

Post by Gee » January 23rd, 2020, 10:48 pm

BigBango wrote:
January 21st, 2020, 9:43 am
Very stimulating discussion. Thank you Gee and Atla.

Thank you. You have been kind and supportive of my thoughts, which I appreciate more than you can know. It bothers me that I can not help you with your "theory", but the truth is that I am already overwhelmed with what I am studying now and only study things that relate directly to the planet. Beyond the planet is way out of my league, but if some of my thoughts are interesting to you, I am happy to share what little I know.
BigBango wrote:
January 21st, 2020, 9:43 am
What is interesting in this discussion is trying to uncover the metaphysics underlying Gee's careful observations of the nature of our inter species connectedness. That is, how can we account for the "collective unconscious".
At this point, I would be happy if people would simply acknowledge the collective unconscious, so I will try to explain my thinking. Note that the following is too long, and some of the ideas are simplistic, but I can find no other way to explain this part of it.

When I was still young, I realized that thought and emotion were very different, as most people do. But when I started to study philosophy, I discovered that philosophy and science, both, studied thought and called it consciousness; whereas, religion studied emotion and called it "God". I could see no valid reason for this division, as both appeared to be part of my consciousness.

The mental is not magic. Just like the physical, it is causal and can be broken down and studied, but we can't throw part of it out if we want to understand it. Eventually, I broke down consciousness into six components; thought, knowledge, memory, awareness, feeling, and emotion. It did not take long to discover that these components made up two different divisions in how they actually work. Thought, knowledge, and memory are private and internal. That is the nature of them; you can not know mine, and I can not know yours unless we choose to share them.

There is nothing private or internal about awareness, feeling, and emotion. These components actually function between us. They show up in things like body language, or the "atmosphere" of a room, or in art, dance, music, etc., but they also show up in language and writing. A novel may describe a person whose "anger rolled off of him in waves", or "joy radiating from a face", or "the child stood in a pool of innocence". We routinely describe our awareness of emotion, feeling, and moods in very tangible terms. Hiding our emotions, feelings, and moods is difficult and often causes us to give mixed messages when we try.

Is this communication limited to our specie? No. Imagine a man, who is so frustrated and angry, that he is beyond words, so he raises his fists and shakes them in the air; just like a bear will do, or a tarantula, or my cat, or a horse with his front legs, or many insects. Even birds will flutter their wings, and it all shows frustration and anger, and is recognized by other species. This is just one of the ways that life communicates its experiences unconsciously -- without words.

Further study showed me that my first division, thought, knowledge, and memory, is what science studies as consciousness and is considered a product of the brain (internal). Awareness, feeling, and emotion work through the unconscious, are studied by religion, and called "God" (external). Psychology is the only discipline that studies both, as the first division (internal) is the Ego, or the conscious rational aspect of mind; the second division (external) is the Superego and Id, or the unconscious aspects of mind.

It was while studying instincts that I got a breakthrough. Instincts is another "bucket" word because if we react unconsciously/automatically, we call it instinctive and throw it in the instincts bucket. There are studies where some claim we have no instincts, and other studies that claim we have hundreds of them. But survival instincts are different -- we know. Every life form of every specie has at least some survival instincts; actually, every cell in every body has some survival instincts. These instincts all work through chemistry, mostly hormones and pheromones, and are all activated by or through some kind of feeling -- from simple wanting to strong emotion -- and can be tested.

It did not take long to realize that survival instincts are closely related to Freud's drives in the Id, which brought me to studies of the mind. That was when I learned about Jung's Collective Communal Unconscious. So what I had here is a valid testable connection between aspects of mind and chemical matter, that worked unconsciously, and had no need of a brain to interpret it. That chemicals can cause experience and behavior inside a brain is well accepted, but the idea that chemicals can cause experience and behavior between life forms is generally ignored. This brought me to studying other life and ecosystems.

Everyone knows about the Circle of Life; the predator eats the prey, who eats the grass, that is nourished by the death of the predator. Simple. Too simple and too linear and too directional an explanation. In one study, I learned that some grasses will allow themselves to be eaten down to a certain point, then they will produce a chemical that tastes bad so that the grazing animal will move on, which preserves the plant. It was explained that this is a survival mechanism for the plant, but I questioned it. Wouldn't that also influence the cattle to become grazers? Always moving on? Can grass direct, or influence, a cow's behavior???

Then I found Allan Savory's studies under desertification. He was trying to learn how we could take back the grasslands that had become deserts, and came up with the following:

"Grazing livestock, usually not left to wander, would eat the grass and would minimize any grass growth while grass left alone would eventually grow to cover its own growing buds, preventing them from photosynthesizing and killing the plant.[83] A method proposed to restore grasslands uses fences with many small paddocks and moving herds from one paddock to another after a day or two in order to mimic natural grazers and allowing the grass to grow optimally. Proposed by Allan Savory"

So apparently the grasslands are just as dependent on the grazers as the grazers are dependent on the grasslands. A good example of this, that has been well studied, is the Dust Bowl that decimated a large portion of central North America in the 1930's. It has been stated that land management was the problem and points fingers at the American farmers, but that has little truth in it. The truth is that the politicians in Washington thought that giving the land to farmers and getting rid of the buffalo would starve out the American Indians, preventing a lot of damage and strife. So they decreed in the 1880's that all buffalo were to be slaughtered -- reducing the number of buffalo from tens of millions to about 500.

What they did not know was that when the buffalo died, so did the buffalo grasses. Buffalo grass was somewhat unique in that it could survive in a very dry climate, and put down deep roots that kept erosion at bay during droughts. Much of the area was too dry to support trees that may have helped. So, without the buffalo grass, the droughts that came in three waves, 1934, 1936, and 1939, turned the middle of the country into the Dust Bowl, and it has still not recovered from that damage today, which is to say that if we stop pumping water into it, it could turn back into the Dust Bowl. It is better now, but not a self-sustaining ecosystem.

Why did the buffalo grass die out? Consider that buffalo are very large, heavy, and strong animals, so buffalo grass had to develop deep root systems to prevent itself from being pulled out of the ground. The heavy animals tore out some of the grass and their weight helped to break up root masses to encourage new growth. Also consider that millions of walking "water tanks", buffalo, would wet the grass and drop fertilizer on it. Just like your lawn that needs to be clipped, watered, and fertilized; if you don't do it, the grass will die out and it will revert to whatever ecosystem is in your area. If you live in a dry climate, your lawn may become a Dust Bowl.

So the question is, when in evolution did grasslands and grazers become interdependent? Because they clearly are interdependent. And this is only one example of the thousands of ways that ecosystems are self sustaining. Is it likely that all these very diverse and individual species developed interdependence? How would they have sustained themselves while it developed? That scenario does not even seem possible. It is more likely that they started out as a whole and then fractured into different species, while retaining the integrity of the whole. This whole is the collective communal unconscious and we are part of it.

So the Circle of Life is not really a circle; it is not linear; it is not directional. It is more like a sphere, a whole, where each specie, life form, and cell, is striving for individualization and independence, while simultaneously supporting the whole; this works much like the "butterfly effect" and is all about motion. We see this tension between the whole and the individual in self-sustaining ecosystems, in the homeostasis of bodies, in families, in societies and cultures, and in the aspects of mind. It is a universal truth of life.

Jung's Collective and Communal Unconscious is a very good interpretation and understanding of this "whole". The man was, no doubt, a genius. The unconscious is reactionary, fluid, and analogue, and is the basis of our consciousness. Neurology tells me that the brain is also analogue, but has the ability to digitalize awareness and experience into discrete data, which allows us to have thoughts, images, and language, so we can think about all this interesting stuff.

BigBango wrote:
January 21st, 2020, 9:43 am
Yes Gee the medium is the unconscious. But what is the unconscious? See "Genesis of the Cosmos" by Paul A. LaViolette.
Assuming that you have read this too long post, and have also read LaViolette's book, I would like to ask you if you think that my ideas above would fit comfortably with his ideas. And why you think so -- or think not.

I will have to think about the rest of your post before responding, but would ask if you are talking about your "theory" or if the rest of your post is about LaViolette's "theory".

Gee

BigBango
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Re: Consciousness, what is and what it requires?

Post by BigBango » January 24th, 2020, 5:10 pm

Atla wrote: You two can carry on, I've grown tired of random fantasies presented as scientific facts.
Atla you are indeed welcome to this exchange of ideas. I want to assure you that my theories are extremely speculative and I do not offer them as scientific fact. In addition I don't think you could call my speculations "random fantasies".

Before one can falsify a theory one must have a testable theory. Before one can sharpen a theory one must have a testable theory.
Gee wrote:
January 23rd, 2020, 10:48 pm
BigBango wrote:
January 21st, 2020, 9:43 am
Very stimulating discussion. Thank you Gee and Atla.

Thank you. You have been kind and supportive of my thoughts, which I appreciate more than you can know. It bothers me that I can not help you with your "theory", but the truth is that I am already overwhelmed with what I am studying now and only study things that relate directly to the planet. Beyond the planet is way out of my league, but if some of my thoughts are interesting to you, I am happy to share what little I know.
Gee, you are taking a "Top Down" approach and I am taking a "Bottom Up" approach. Maybe someday we will meet.
BigBango wrote:
January 21st, 2020, 9:43 am
What is interesting in this discussion is trying to uncover the metaphysics underlying Gee's careful observations of the nature of our inter species connectedness. That is, how can we account for the "collective unconscious".
Gee wrote: Jung's Collective and Communal Unconscious is a very good interpretation and understanding of this "whole". The man was, no doubt, a genius. The unconscious is reactionary, fluid, and analogue, and is the basis of our consciousness. Neurology tells me that the brain is also analogue, but has the ability to digitalize awareness and experience into discrete data, which allows us to have thoughts, images, and language, so we can think about all this interesting stuff.
Actually even Whitehead an extreme pan-psychist" asserts the discreetness of reality to be around a Planck constant/volume. Of course that may be simply an artifact of what is possible to observe with instruments made of matter. Is fundamental reality digital or do our instruments digitize it in order to observe it? I would speculate that every living cell digitizes its observations. Then the logic of mereology takes over for the analog transmission of feeling to the brain which must be combined with the digital information transferred by the nervous system. Seems to fit in with your double breakdown of consciousness into internal and external.
BigBango wrote:
January 21st, 2020, 9:43 am
Yes Gee the medium is the unconscious. But what is the unconscious? See "Genesis of the Cosmos" by Paul A. LaViolette.
Gee wrote: Assuming that you have read this too long post, and have also read LaViolette's book, I would like to ask you if you think that my ideas above would fit comfortably with his ideas. And why you think so -- or think not.
LaVioletties work simply asserts the reasonableness of some of my theories. I mainly just read the preface of his book which contains most of his theories about how the nature of space varies from contemporary theory. The rest of his book is about a detailed analysis of how ancient theories, written before the Egyptians, supports his own ideas about the nature of space. A good read for your top down efforts to characterize the "collective unconscious". But again my theories are more "Bottom Up"

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phenomenal_graffiti
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Re: Consciousness, what is and what it requires?

Post by phenomenal_graffiti » January 29th, 2020, 5:54 am

And yet, existence only appears or manifests in the form of subjective experience, i.e. in the form of a person experiencing and that which the person experiences. It does not appear in any other form, and has never appeared in any other form.

Consciousness=first-person subjective experience
We are currently living within the mind of Jesus Christ as he is currently being crucified. One may think there is no God, or if one believes in God, one thinks one lives outside the mind of Christ in a post-crucifixion present.

In other news...

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Re: Consciousness, what is and what it requires?

Post by BigBango » January 29th, 2020, 7:42 am

phenomenal_graffiti wrote:
January 29th, 2020, 5:54 am
And yet, existence only appears or manifests in the form of subjective experience, i.e. in the form of a person experiencing and that which the person experiences. It does not appear in any other form, and has never appeared in any other form.

Consciousness=first-person subjective experience
Good post phenomenal_graffiti, you have given a very excellent "top down" definition of the nature of both "existence" and "consciousness".

First let me suggest that you study Tamminen's posts on this same issue if you want to deconstruct your conclusion about consciousness.

Using Tamminen's extension of Descartes conclusion which said "I think therefore I am" to "I think of myself as an object therefore I am" we have a problem in our deconstruction of your statement "Consciousness = first person subjective experience".

If we accept the "subject" as an "object" of reality then "Man is the universe becoming conscious of itself" as stated by Julian Huxley. What Gee and I are getting at is that all life in the universe is becoming conscious of itself. To that point we need to accept that the collective unconscious of Jung suggests that the "subject/all life"" has both "conscious awareness" and "unconscious awareness" that is all part of the nature of the "subject". So let us ask the question "What is the nature of the subject, as an object of existence, that has both conscious awareness and access to the collective unconscious which is much more subliminal than "direct experience"?.

That split between the conscious experience of the subject and the subject's connection to the collective unconscious we are asserting is all part of the objective physical nature of the subject/all life.

BigBango
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Re: Consciousness, what is and what it requires?

Post by BigBango » January 29th, 2020, 7:42 am

phenomenal_graffiti wrote:
January 29th, 2020, 5:54 am
And yet, existence only appears or manifests in the form of subjective experience, i.e. in the form of a person experiencing and that which the person experiences. It does not appear in any other form, and has never appeared in any other form.

Consciousness=first-person subjective experience
Good post phenomenal_graffiti, you have given a very excellent "top down" definition of the nature of both "existence" and "consciousness".

First let me suggest that you study Tamminen's posts on this same issue if you want to deconstruct your conclusion about consciousness.

Using Tamminen's extension of Descartes conclusion which said "I think therefore I am" to "I think of myself as an object therefore I am" we have a problem in our deconstruction of your statement "Consciousness = first person subjective experience".

If we accept the "subject" as an "object" of reality then "Man is the universe becoming conscious of itself" as stated by Julian Huxley. What Gee and I are getting at is that all life in the universe is becoming conscious of itself. To that point we need to accept that the collective unconscious of Jung suggests that the "subject/all life"" has both "conscious awareness" and "unconscious awareness" that is all part of the nature of the "subject". So let us ask the question "What is the nature of the subject, as an object of existence, that has both conscious awareness and access to the collective unconscious which is much more subliminal than "direct experience"?.

That split between the conscious experience of the subject and the subject's connection to the collective unconscious we are asserting is all part of the objective physical nature of the subject/all life.

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Greta
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Re: Consciousness, what is and what it requires?

Post by Greta » February 1st, 2020, 2:19 am

phenomenal_graffiti wrote:
January 29th, 2020, 5:54 am
And yet, existence only appears or manifests in the form of subjective experience, i.e. in the form of a person experiencing and that which the person experiences. It does not appear in any other form, and has never appeared in any other form.

Consciousness=first-person subjective experience
To understand what consciousness is, it helps to consider the simpler kinds found in many animals. In its essence, consciousness is a visceral engagement with environment. It is the sensation of living, of feeling one's existence, and thus does not require thoughts (and certainly many healthful exercises involve minimising conscious thought).

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Re: Consciousness, what is and what it requires?

Post by Consul » February 1st, 2020, 2:45 am

Greta wrote:
February 1st, 2020, 2:19 am
To understand what consciousness is, it helps to consider the simpler kinds found in many animals. In its essence, consciousness is a visceral engagement with environment. It is the sensation of living, of feeling one's existence, and thus does not require thoughts (and certainly many healthful exercises involve minimising conscious thought).
Yes, there is a difference between personal consciousness (reflective self-consciousness) as we humans have it and subpersonal consciousness as many other animals have it. You don't have to be a person in order to be a subject of consciousness/experience.
"We may philosophize well or ill, but we must philosophize." – Wilfrid Sellars

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Re: Consciousness, what is and what it requires?

Post by Atla » February 1st, 2020, 5:59 am

Personal/subpersonal consciousness isn't the same as first-person subjective experience, these just coincide in organisms. There is also no separate environment to engage.
At least idealists understand that first-person subjective experience is fundamental.

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Greta
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Re: Consciousness, what is and what it requires?

Post by Greta » February 1st, 2020, 4:45 pm

Atla wrote:
February 1st, 2020, 5:59 am
Personal/subpersonal consciousness isn't the same as first-person subjective experience, these just coincide in organisms. There is also no separate environment to engage.
At least idealists understand that first-person subjective experience is fundamental.
There are numerous other animals with first-person subjective experience too, such placental mammals and birds.

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Re: Consciousness, what is and what it requires?

Post by Atla » February 1st, 2020, 4:53 pm

Greta wrote:
February 1st, 2020, 4:45 pm
Atla wrote:
February 1st, 2020, 5:59 am
Personal/subpersonal consciousness isn't the same as first-person subjective experience, these just coincide in organisms. There is also no separate environment to engage.
At least idealists understand that first-person subjective experience is fundamental.
There are numerous other animals with first-person subjective experience too, such placental mammals and birds.
That's the personal/subpersonal consciousness (something that's sophisticated enough to be called a "mind"), which isn't the same as first-person experience itself.

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