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

Post by Consul » November 10th, 2019, 3:43 pm

Felix wrote:
November 10th, 2019, 12:59 pm
Besides, I was responding to RJG's statement that we cannot experience selves. The fact is that we cannot avoid experiencing them, because illusory or not, they are our habitual mode of being in the world.
If I am a body or organism, I can be aware or conscious of myself in the sense of being able to perceive myself both externally and internally.

Bodily awareness: https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/bodily-awareness/
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Re: Consciousness, what is and what it requires?

Post by Consul » November 10th, 2019, 5:03 pm

The whole discussion is confusing and misleading if we don't differentiate between the following meanings of "consciousness":

1. consciousness1 = transitive consciousness = consciousness-of = awareness-of = cognition (knowledge) or perception of sth

1.1 extrovertive transitive consciousness (exteroception/extrospection) = consciousness of things/events in one's environment

1.2 introvertive transitive consciousness = consciousness of one's body or one's mind

1.2.1 interoceptive transitive consciousness (interoception) = consciousness of (physiological events in or states of) one's body

(1.2.1.1 proprioceptive transitive consciousness (proprioception) = consciousness of the spatial motion and position of one's body or parts thereof)

1.2.2 introspective transitive consciousness (introspection) = consciousness of (psychological events in or states of) one's mind

2. consciousness2 = intransitive consciousness = phenomenal consciousness = subjective experience

According to the first-order account of consciousness2, it is independent of consciousness1; that is, phenomenal consciousness doesn't depend for its being on being an object of introspective cognition, perception, or reflection/cogitation. According to higher-order accounts of phenomenal consciousness, it does: There is no phenomenal consciousness unless its subject is introspectively or reflectively conscious or aware of it.

If the first-order account is true, then phenomenal consciousness is arguably present in most animal species; but if the higher-order account is true, then phenomenal consciousness is present in very few animal species only—perhaps only in homo sapiens.
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Re: Consciousness, what is and what it requires?

Post by Consul » November 10th, 2019, 5:21 pm

I just noticed that my classification needs to be revised, because I can be extrovertively (exteroceptively/extrospectively) conscious both of things in my environment and of my own body by means of my outer senses (sight, hearing, smell, taste, touch):

1. consciousness1 = transitive consciousness = consciousness-of = awareness-of = cognition (knowledge) or perception of sth

1.1 extrovertive transitive consciousness (exteroception/extrospection) = consciousness of things/events in one's environment or one's body by means of outer senses (sight, hearing, smell, taste, touch)

1.2 introvertive transitive consciousness = consciousness of one's body or one's mind

1.2.1 interoceptive transitive consciousness (interoception) = consciousness of (physiological events in or states of) one's body by means of inner senses

(1.2.1.1 proprioceptive transitive consciousness (proprioception) = consciousness of the spatial motion and position of one's body or parts thereof by means of inner senses)

1.2.2 introspective transitive consciousness (introspection) = consciousness of (psychological events in or states of) one's mind

2. consciousness2 = intransitive consciousness = phenomenal consciousness = subjective experience
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Re: Consciousness, what is and what it requires?

Post by h_k_s » November 10th, 2019, 5:30 pm

Zelebg wrote:
November 9th, 2019, 9:41 pm
h_k_s wrote:
November 9th, 2019, 3:49 pm
You @RJG have raised a good point -- which is -- what comes first? (A) the experiencing or (B) the thinking about the experiencing?
I fail to see the difference. Can they not be the same thing, or cause and effect like mirror reflection?
Then you agree with Descartes? Cogito ergo sum.

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Re: Consciousness, what is and what it requires?

Post by Gnosis » November 10th, 2019, 6:39 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.
I disagree, or rather I think you are confusing two different types of consciousness. To perceive/feel/experience is one type, and to think/understand is another type. We have subconscious processing, subconscious intelligent operations are carried out the same as an artificial intelligence would do. In fact there is no difference really between intelligence and artificial intelligence. But the tricky thing is that every intelligent operation in our brain could occur subconsciously, we can clearly tell the difference between being conscious and subconscious, and an observed difference is essentially empirical evidence. Since our brain could do everything that it does with no consciousness, just like a robot, yet the perception/experience type consciousness is different from it means that there is something other than just logic and neurons within us.

A computer cannot see without a camera, nor can it move anything without motors attached, logic by itself cannot do anything, it's just information, yet experience and emotions are different are a kind of input/output? either way they are not a process, which leads me to believe that there is something special regarding consciousness, that it is something akin to the soul, and that it likely has something to do with why there is life on earth and no where else in the observable universe.

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Re: Consciousness, what is and what it requires?

Post by Zelebg » November 10th, 2019, 9:04 pm

RJG wrote:
November 10th, 2019, 8:51 am
Physically, they (their bodies) certainly do suffer, and auto-reacts accordingly. Mentally, they just have no idea (literally!) of what is causing the extreme discomfort.
You say they are not conscious, and yet they are conscious of the pain?

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Re: Consciousness, what is and what it requires?

Post by Consul » November 10th, 2019, 9:32 pm

Some historical quotes illustrating the ambiguity of "consciousness":

"I know, I feel, I desire, etc. What is it that is necessarily involved in all these ? It requires only to be stated to be admitted, that when I know, I must know that I know,—when I feel, I must know that I feel—when I desire, I must know that I desire. The knowledge, the feeling, the desire, are possible only under the condition of being known, and being known by me. For if I did not know that I knew, I would not know,—if I did not know that I felt, I would not feel,—if I did not know that I desired, I would not desire. Now, this knowledge, which I, the subject, have of these modifications of my being, and through which knowledge alone these modifications are possible, is what we call consciousness. The expressions, I know that I know,—I know that I feel,—I know that I desire,—are thus translated by, I am conscious that I know,—I am conscious that I feel,—I am conscious that I desire. Consciousness is thus, on the one hand, the recognition by the mind or ego of its acts and affections;—in other words, the self-affirmation, that certain modifications are known by me, and that these modifications are mine."
(p. 126)

"We may lay it down as the most general characteristic of consciousness, that it is the recognition by the thinking subject of its own acts or affections."

(p. 131)

"[C]onsciousness is the self-recognition that we know, or feel, or desire, etc.."

(p. 135)

(Hamilton, William. The Metaphysics of Sir William Hamilton. Edited by Francis Bowen. Cambridge: Sever and Francis, 1862.)

"Consciousness is briefly defined as the power by which the soul knows its own acts and states."
(p. 83)

"Consciousness used to designate knowledge of any kind—Again, the terms 'conscious' and 'consciousness' are often applied to any act whatever of direct cognition, whether its object be internal or external. In other words, they are used as equivalent to knowing, perceiving, etc., and to knowledge, perception, etc."
(p. 84)

"The terms 'conscious' and 'consciousness' explain their own meaning, and confirm the truth of the assumption and belief that the fact implied by the language is to be received. They describe a knowing with, or an attendant knowledge, and they imply that the states of the human soul may be known by the soul to which they pertain.
The power of the soul thus to know itself is often called the internal, or the inner sense. This term is suggested by analogy. As the soul, by the external sense or senses, apprehends the properties and qualities of matter, so it is said to know its own states and powers by another, viz., an inner sense."

(p. 85)

(Porter, Noah. The Human Intellect, with an Introduction upon Psychology and the Soul. 4th ed. New York: Scribner & Co., 1869.)

"Although this word has been employed in many different ways, two very distinctive usages are commonly met with. According to the first of these usages, which is the one adopted in this work, the word 'consciousness' refers to psychic existence as such; as, for instance, one speaks of the hypothetical consciousness of the plants. But one is likely also to hear someone say; 'you will not be conscious of the heat if you play a game of tennis with me,' and here the word is made to refer to states of 'awareness' as opposed to mere 'sentience.' Evidently consciousness as a mere psychic existent does not necessarily imply awareness, which is a special reflective type of psychic existence, and I therefore prefer to use the word in the broader sense, especially as the words 'unconsciousness' and 'unconscious' are employed almost invariably by the plain man, and the scientific writer as well, to refer to psychic non-existence."

(Marshall, Henry R. Consciousness. New York: Macmillan, 1909. pp. 1-2)

"Consciousness, as reference to any dictionary will show, is a term that has many meanings. Here it is, perhaps, enough to distinguish two principal uses of the word.

In its first sense, consciousness means the mind's awareness of its own processes. Just as, from the common-sense point of view, mind is that inner self which thinks, remembers, chooses, reasons, directs the movements of the body, so is consciousness the inner knowledge of this thought and government. You are conscious of the correctness of your answer to an examination question, of the awkwardness of your movements, of the purity of your motives. Consciousness is thus something more than mind; it is 'the perception of what passes in a man's own mind' [John Locke]; it is 'the immediate knowledge which the mind has of its sensations and thoughts.' [Dugald Stewart]

In its second sense, consciousness is identified with mind, and 'conscious' with 'mental.' So long as mental processes are going on, consciousness is present; as soon as mental processes are in abeyance, unconsciousness sets in. 'To say I am conscious of a feeling, is merely to say that I feel it. To have a feeling is to be conscious; and to be conscious is to have a feeling. To be conscious of the prick of the pin, is merely to have the sensation. And though I have these various modes of naming my sensation, by saying, I feel the prick of a pin, I feel the pain of a prick, I have the sensation of a prick, I have the feeling of a prick, I am conscious of the feeling; the thing named in all these various ways is one and the same.' [James Mill]"


(Titchener, Edward B. A Text-Book of Psychology. New York: Macmillan, 1911. pp. 17-8)

"'Consciousness,' says Professor Ward, 'is the vaguest, most protean, and most treacherous of psychological terms'; and Bain, writing in 1880, distinguished no less than thirteen meanings of the word; he could find more today! The ambiguity of the term seems to be due, in the last resort, to the running together of two fundamental meanings, the one of which is scientific or psychological, the other logical or philosophical. In the latter, the logical meaning, consciousness is awareness or knowledge, and 'conscious of ' means 'aware of '; in the former, the scientific meaning, consciousness is mental experience, experience regarded from the psychological point of view, and one can no more use the phrase 'conscious of ' than one can use 'mental of.' If you think how natural it is to say 'I was conscious of so-and-so,' you will realise that the logical meaning is generally current; and if you remember that we have the terms 'mind,' 'mental process,' as names of mental experience, you will see that in psychology the word 'consciousness' is unnecessary; we have, in fact, not used it in this book,—until we came upon the popular expression 'self-consciousness' in §76."

(Titchener, Edward B. A Beginner's Psychology. New York: Macmillan, 1916. pp. 323-4)
"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 Bluemist » November 10th, 2019, 11:04 pm

H. Schwyzer wrote:whereas Descartes, initially, disallows inference from the inner [subjective] to the outer [objective], Kant insists on it. What the Kant of this picture shares with Descartes is the view that consciousness per se delineates a world of objects complete unto itself, inner objects to be sure, objects (of awareness) none the less. The only question is whether that needs the support of another world.

... there is for Kant no such inner world of objects initially (or 'directly') apprehended by us, as there is for Descartes. There is no such inner world from which an objective outer world is to be inferred or out of which an allegedly objective world is to be constructed or 'constituted'. Moreover, ... Kant has a powerful argument against the possibility of taking one's inner states as any sort of starting-point for metaphysical theorizing. (H. Schwyzer, Subjectivity in Descartes and Kant, 1997.)
The division between psychological and philosophical worlds is metaphysical. How I feel or what I experience cannot be well enough expressed in words to bridge the gap from the subjective to the objective to create a realist philosophy of the subjective world. The subjective world therefore must remain largely unknowable, even if it is certain and indubitable.
If you don't believe in telekinesis then raise your right hand :wink:

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Re: Consciousness, what is and what it requires?

Post by Gee » November 11th, 2019, 12:31 am

Consul wrote:
November 9th, 2019, 8:51 pm
Gee wrote:
November 9th, 2019, 8:13 pm
No. All life, ALL LIFE, is sentient, which simply means that it has some awareness (consciousness) of somethings.
There's a difference between physiological sensitivity (reactivity/responsivity to physical or chemical stimuli) and psychological sentience in the form of subjective sensations. Bacteria, fungi, plants, and brainless animals are physiologically sensitive organisms but not psychologically sentient ones.


And you know this how? Where is your evidence?
Consul wrote:
November 9th, 2019, 8:51 pm
There's a corresponding difference between objective awareness (perception/cognition), which doesn't involve any subjective sensations, and subjective awareness (perception/cognition), which does involve some subjective sensations.
And you know this how? Where is your evidence?

Gee

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Re: Consciousness, what is and what it requires?

Post by Consul » November 11th, 2019, 12:50 am

Gee wrote:
November 11th, 2019, 12:31 am
Consul wrote:
November 9th, 2019, 8:51 pm
There's a difference between physiological sensitivity (reactivity/responsivity to physical or chemical stimuli) and psychological sentience in the form of subjective sensations. Bacteria, fungi, plants, and brainless animals are physiologically sensitive organisms but not psychologically sentient ones.
And you know this how? Where is your evidence?
In those scientific books and papers which strongly confirm the assumption that the brain is the natural organ of consciousness, such that having a brain is necessary for an organism's being a subject of experience.
Gee wrote:
November 11th, 2019, 12:31 am
Consul wrote:
November 9th, 2019, 8:51 pm
There's a corresponding difference between objective awareness (perception/cognition), which doesn't involve any subjective sensations, and subjective awareness (perception/cognition), which does involve some subjective sensations.
And you know this how? Where is your evidence?
Blindsight is an example of objective awareness without subjective awareness.
"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 Consul » November 11th, 2019, 1:00 am

Consul wrote:
November 11th, 2019, 12:50 am
In those scientific books and papers which strongly confirm the assumption that the brain is the natural organ of consciousness, such that having a brain is necessary for an organism's being a subject of experience.
Bacteria, fungi, plants, and brainless animals don't have any parts which can plausibly be considered as alternative organs of consciousness.
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Re: Consciousness, what is and what it requires?

Post by Zelebg » November 11th, 2019, 1:01 am

Consul wrote:
November 10th, 2019, 9:32 pm

"We may lay it down as the most general characteristic of consciousness, that it is the recognition by the thinking subject of its own acts or affections."
That is one of my conclusions in the opening post. But there is a problem: if the pain doesn't hurt until you understand it in some way, then what is the reference to "hurting" and how will you ever learn what is it you need to understand.

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Re: Consciousness, what is and what it requires?

Post by Consul » November 11th, 2019, 1:03 am

"Why do we have complex brains at all if they are so dispensable in the functioning of our minds? Why does brain damage obliterate mental faculties if minds do not owe their existence to brains? Why were there not minds floating about before brains ever evolved? Why are all mental changes actually accompanied by brain changes? The fact is that minds have their deep roots in brains. They are not just temporary residents of brains, like wandering nomads in the desert. Deracinate them and they lose their handle on reality. Minds don't merely occupy brains, they are somehow constituted by brains. That is why the minds of different species vary, why minds develop in concert with brains, why the health of your brain makes all the difference to the life of your mind. Minds and brains are not ships that pass in the night; the brain is the very lifeblood of the mind."

(McGinn, Colin. The Mysterious Flame: Conscious Minds in a Material World. New York: Basic Books, 1999. pp. 27-8)
"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 Zelebg » November 11th, 2019, 1:16 am

Consul wrote:
November 11th, 2019, 12:50 am
Blindsight is an example of objective awareness without subjective awareness.
Also some people continue to play piano or drive a car as if nothing happened while having an epileptic seizure. They of course don't remember anything, but can function almost normally - stop at red light, make correct turns, drive home safely. They only fail to react when something novel or surprising happens, they loose ability to act creatively. Which is funny, it means we are driving our cars on "automatic", so why do we need a car that drives itself when someone else inside us is driving for us already?!

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Re: Consciousness, what is and what it requires?

Post by Gee » November 11th, 2019, 2:37 am

Zelebg wrote:
November 9th, 2019, 10:21 pm
Gee wrote:
November 9th, 2019, 7:34 pm
Most people believe that the rational mind is the "self" -- it is not -- it is the reflection.
That feels quite true to me. Is it possible to 'feel' the truth?
Yes, I think it is. This is often how we discern lies, by feeling the truth. Sometimes, things just don't feel right, so we don't want to accept them. It may be because they are not true, but it also may be because we are unfamiliar with that truth. Familiarity is much more important than many people suppose, because when we become familiar with an idea, we are actually attaching emotion to it -- it becomes comfortable and a belief.

We know that the rational aspect of mind can and does lie. Thoughts can lie, but feelings can't. The unconscious aspect of mind works, activates, through feeling, emotion, and awareness, so it can be wrong -- but it can not lie -- it doesn't know how to. This is also why people can get so stuck on their beliefs, and I don't just mean religious beliefs. I am talking about all beliefs. We often have trouble accepting a truth or idea that is new and/or uncomfortable because without an emotional attachment, we can not know the truth of it. It may just be a rationalization. We try to rectify this situation by getting more people to examine it and turn it into an objective truth.
Zelebg wrote:
November 9th, 2019, 10:21 pm
Where did you get that?

I have no idea. Somewhere in the decades of study that I have applied to this subject, I realized that the rational aspect of mind was not only capable of lying, it was also capable of reconstructing reality to its own specifications. The mirror analogy is a new one that I used to simplify a very complex idea.

Although the idea for the mirror is mine, as far as I know, the concept is old -- you could even relate it to Plato's cave. There is a lot of evidence that tells us that the rational aspect of mind does not have direct experience with reality, which has led to a lot of illusion theories and other nonsense. Since the rational aspect of mind is what we think of as our "selves", as this is what we use to plan our days, direct our activities, and set our goals, and since the rational mind has no direct experience and can lie through it's teeth, then how can we possibly know if anything is true???? Hence all the drama.

But the "self" actually sources through the unconscious, which is why we can have multiple personalities in one person -- these are just other splinters of rational minds, not other persons -- or why we can have other mental disorders. The "self" is a crazy complex subject and this is just one aspect of it -- it gets worse when you actually study it. (chuckle)

But this does not actually put reality into question because we do have direct experience through the unconscious aspect, and through feeling, emotion, and awareness. A tree does not have to worry about whether or not the sun is shining on it's leaves or whether or not it's roots are seeking out water. Why not? Because it does not have a rational mind to confuse it.
Zelebg wrote:
November 9th, 2019, 10:21 pm
Anyway, reflection is a concept which certainly must have a role in sentience. It may be for a good reason we use it as a synonim for thinking, as in when we're reflecting upon something.
Probably true. Remember that sapience and sentience are not the same thing. All life is sentient, but computers are sapient.

Gee

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