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
Zelebg
Posts: 51
Joined: October 23rd, 2019, 12:58 am

Re: Consciousness, what is and what it requires?

Post by Zelebg » November 11th, 2019, 5:35 am

Gee wrote:
November 11th, 2019, 2:37 am
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.
Does that idea have some answer to this question about, say color green: photons contain and transmit information. Neuron firing contain and transmit information. What does consciousnes do with information?
Remember that sapience and sentience are not the same thing. All life is sentient, but computers are sapient.
Sapince, they say, means wisdom rather than intelligence. And I always thought of wisdom as if it also contains something that can not quite be achieved by mere computation. Perhaps something like 'intuition', whatever is that label really supposed to apply.

Zelebg
Posts: 51
Joined: October 23rd, 2019, 12:58 am

Re: Consciousness, what is and what it requires?

Post by Zelebg » November 11th, 2019, 6:02 am

Gee wrote:
November 11th, 2019, 2:37 am
All life is sentient, but computers are sapient.
Sentience should mean "subjective experience". I see it as the essence or minimal definition of consciousness. So then I would not say all life is sentient.

User avatar
Bluemist
Posts: 108
Joined: November 15th, 2009, 10:11 pm

Re: Consciousness, what is and what it requires?

Post by Bluemist » November 11th, 2019, 7:46 am

Gee wrote:
November 11th, 2019, 2:37 am
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.
You can't mean truth there because truth can only be objective! Saying that things just don't feel right (for me) is purely subjective, regardless of the truth, should there be any, of the matter.
Gee wrote: We know that the rational aspect of mind can and does lie. Thoughts can lie, but feelings can't.
Lies are false but not necessarily untrue.
Gee wrote: 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.
Objective truth is not made by the consensus of the multitude. Saying something over and over again does not make it true. Familiarization does however implant right or wrong ideas in the largely irrational human mind.
Gee wrote: ... the rational aspect of mind was ... capable of reconstructing reality to its own specifications. ...
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.
Reconstructing reality is a biological precondition of survival in a hostile world. All animals do it.

What Plato did was to anticipate Kant's objection to Descartes and to go on to solve the problem of Cartesian duality.
Plato was a great foundational mathematician, it is mathematics that guided his metaphysics to a solution he knew to be correct, even if forever incomplete. To Plato, both the world and the psyche are continuous and ever-changing therefore unknowable therefore unsuitable for the Parmenidean logic he had to work with. These he confusingly called wholly unreal and illusionary. Instead he constructed a new philosophical world of particulars of entirely discrete objects that could be answerable to objective philosophy. In principle, mathematically speaking, particulars can be logically connected to discrete Forms to give particulars being.
Gee wrote: 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???? ...

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 ...
The self is quite different from the rational mind. The rational mind is just a small but significant addition to a vastly more efficient quantum brain.
Gee wrote: 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.
I fully agree with this. Reality is my reality, and can only be my reality such as it is.
If you don't believe in telekinesis then raise your right hand :wink:

User avatar
RJG
Moderator
Posts: 1896
Joined: March 28th, 2012, 8:52 pm

Re: Consciousness, what is and what it requires?

Post by RJG » November 11th, 2019, 8:43 am

RJG wrote:We can only experience 'experiences' (thoughts, ideas, sensations, etc), not 'actual' things, or "selfs" themselves.
Felix wrote:Your "logical impossibility" has been disproven by clinical studies. Mental control of the body's physiological processes has been achieved by advanced yoga practitioners and has been observed in cases of dissociative identity disorder (a.k.a., multiple identity disorder).
Felix, I'm not implying that we can consciously experience ALL body experiences/reactions as you are implying here with this study. But if we do consciously experience something, it can ONLY be a 'bodily reaction', that's it, and nothing else!

RJG wrote:Without something to be conscious of, there is no consciousness. E.g. without something to see, there is no seeing.
Consul wrote:What do you see when you stand in a pitch-black room with your eyes open?
I see total blackness. But in your example there is 'content' (i.e. "blackness"). When I say "without something", I am referring to 'NO content'. Without 'something' (some content) to be conscious of, there is no consciousness. E.g. Without something to see, there is no seeing.


********
RJG wrote: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.
Zelebg wrote:You say they are not conscious, and yet they are conscious of the pain?
No, if they are not conscious, then they are NOT "conscious of the pain"; they cannot "feel" pain. To put it simply → those WITHOUT memory and recognition capability CANNOT "feel" pain (or anything!) whatsoever.

The confusion lies in the word "feel". "Feel" automatically implies the "consciousness" (the knowing/recognition) of-the-pain (of-the-bodily reaction). In other words, we can have pain (a bodily reaction), but NOT necessarily "feel" it. Our "feeling" of-the-pain is wholly determined by the "recognition" of-the-pain (which requires memory capability at a minimum). If we don't recognize the pain, then we don't feel it.

For example, long distance competitive runners often suffer blisters, chafing, and even torn off toenails, but they don't "feel" it (until maybe well after the race is complete) because they were more conscious of achieving specific goals during the race than of that which was happening to their feet.

Another example, is the Lamaze Method used during childbirth. To lessen or remove the "feeling of pain", the mother is instructed to concentrate (be conscious of) a "focal point" that distracts her conscious thoughts away from the "recognition of pain", and towards the recognition of thoughts involved in this particular "focal point" and of her breathing techniques.

Another example, is with dogs when they are chasing after a porcupine, they are so involved in the chase/attack, that they can't "feel" the pain of the hundreds of quivers jammed into their face (...happened many times to my dogs!). Also, those people involved in car accidents, and war-time events, and sporting events, don't necessarily "feel" the associated pain, until well after the action has completed.

So again, the inability to "recognize" means the inability to "feel" pain (or any other bodily reaction/experience). Whether or not babies, or human fetus's have sufficiently developed "recognition/memory" systems so as to then "feel" pain, is another question altogether.

User avatar
Felix
Posts: 3090
Joined: February 9th, 2009, 5:45 am

Re: Consciousness, what is and what it requires?

Post by Felix » November 11th, 2019, 1:35 pm

Gee: Since the rational aspect of mind is what we think of as our "selves"
I can't agree. Most people think of their personality as their self, and the personality is not wholly rational.
Gee: 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.
None of the personalities are "rational," they simply conceptualize the world differently.
Gee: 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
As Bluemist said, all rational beings construct a world view, if you want to call that lying than everyone is living a lie.
Bluemist: You can't mean truth there because truth can only be objective! ... Objective truth is not made by the consensus of the multitude.
These statements seem to be contradictory: "truth can only be objective" <> "objective truth is not a product of consensus" - ??
"We do not see things as they are; we see things as we are." - Anaïs Nin

Atla
Posts: 605
Joined: January 30th, 2018, 1:18 pm

Re: Consciousness, what is and what it requires?

Post by Atla » November 11th, 2019, 1:52 pm

Felix wrote:
November 10th, 2019, 12:59 pm
Atla: That theory is quite flawed. While " constitutive panpsychism" is a roughly correct view, the "universal consciousness" is not some kind of personality, it's simply just the world.
They were not suggesting that consciousness is some sort of god-like persona, but that it fabricates the sense of self and is the vehicle for conscious action in the world. This is similar to the Hindu concept of Brahma, the primal source of consciousness that transcends the ego. I imagine they elaborate on the theory in their book, the blog article was just a teaser.


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.
I meant that it doesn't fabricate the sense of self either. The Hindu concept of Brahma is only correct when it isn't some kind of personality or vehicle for action in the world or whatever, which is why most Hindus are delusional. The brahma is simply the world, existence, consciousness.

The sense of self is in the head, there's nothing "special" about it. I've even talked to 1-2 people that claimed to have no sense of self, didn't understand what the word refers to.

User avatar
Consul
Posts: 2860
Joined: February 21st, 2014, 6:32 am
Location: Germany

Re: Consciousness, what is and what it requires?

Post by Consul » November 11th, 2019, 3:35 pm

RJG wrote:
November 11th, 2019, 8:43 am
Consul wrote:What do you see when you stand in a pitch-black room with your eyes open?
I see total blackness. But in your example there is 'content' (i.e. "blackness"). When I say "without something", I am referring to 'NO content'. Without 'something' (some content) to be conscious of, there is no consciousness. E.g. Without something to see, there is no seeing.
In my example there is experiential content—a black-sensation/-impression—, but is there also a perceptual object? I don't think so, because to experience blackness in a pitch-black room is not to perceive a black thing (e.g. a black table) in the room. (If you think space is a substance, you could say that what is perceived is a black region of space.)
"We may philosophize well or ill, but we must philosophize." – Wilfrid Sellars

Gee
Posts: 246
Joined: December 28th, 2012, 2:41 am
Location: Michigan, US

Re: Consciousness, what is and what it requires?

Post by Gee » November 11th, 2019, 4:00 pm

Zelebg wrote:
November 10th, 2019, 12:06 am
Gee wrote:
November 9th, 2019, 6:47 pm
I would say that consciousness is essentially communication that can be internal or external.
Communication with self, like talking to mirror?
No. Not necessarily.
Zelebg wrote:
November 10th, 2019, 12:06 am
Let's get very concrete and very specific by making a process diagram of a _minimal_ personal computer software and hardware components in order to make it sentient. This should help us understand each other better so we can focus on finding the "missing link", or at least point to where it should be and what it needs to do, if anything.
Very specific is good. As Consul noted, there are so many interpretations of the word, consciousness, that we can talk in circles and never connect with any ideas. Do you remember when I asked you if you were interested in consciousness or in human consciousness? I don't believe you answered me. I study consciousness, the whole of it, while searching out simple truths that I can know are true. I do not study human consciousness because those studies are fraught with bias, beliefs, assumptions, and a hell of a lot of arrogance. I do not study computer consciousness because at this point in time, that study is speculation. Neither of these studies can give me simple truths.

Forty or so, years ago, I started studying theories of consciousness and did not differentiate between philosophy, science, or religion in my research. What I found is that every acceptable theory has some truth in it, but only some. There is no comprehensive theory of consciousness, it does not exist. So I set those ideas aside and started fresh with a few questions.

What is consciousness? Communication. But unlike radio waves, this communication only works within selves or between.

What form does this communication take? That question took years of study, but eventually I came up with six basic components of consciousness that all consciousness is based upon. These are knowledge, thought, memory, awareness, feeling, and emotion. Then I studied these components to examine how they work and eventually divided them into two divisions.

The first division is knowledge, thought, and memory, and this division is private and internal. You can not know my knowledge, thoughts, or memories, unless I tell you about them, and I can not know yours.

The second division is awareness, feeling, and emotion, and this division is shared and external. It actually works, and maybe exists, between things. There is nothing private about it, and we have to work to limit other people's knowledge of our feelings and emotions.

It was many years later when I realized that the first division corresponds well with Freud's Ego, and the second division corresponds well with the Superego. It also helps to explain Jung's collective and communal unconscious, bringing the divisions of mind into my considerations, although we still don't know the parameters of mind.

Then I decided I needed a premise -- a valid premise. I settled on something I read as a child: "Man is a physical, mental, and spiritual being". This is not disputed by Eastern philosophy, Western philosophy, Eastern religions, other religion, or even science, so I accepted it as the most valid premise that I would ever find. It is interesting to note that we have science that studies the physical, philosophy that studies the mental, and religion that studies the spiritual, complying with Socrates admonishment to "know thyself".

Eventually, I realized that all life is physical, mental, and spiritual, so I have expanded on this idea.

I am just looking for simple truths, but know of no other person, who studies consciousness this way.

Gee

User avatar
RJG
Moderator
Posts: 1896
Joined: March 28th, 2012, 8:52 pm

Re: Consciousness, what is and what it requires?

Post by RJG » November 11th, 2019, 5:30 pm

RJG wrote:When I say "without something", I am referring to 'NO content'. Without 'something' (some content) to be conscious of, there is no consciousness. E.g. Without something to see, there is no seeing.
Consul wrote:In my example there is experiential content
Yes, but "experiential content" is still 'content'. I can consciously imagine flying pigs. The "flying pigs" (although not real) are still the 'content' of my consciousness.

My point is that there is no consciousness without 'content'. Without something to be conscious of, there is nothing to be conscious of, and if there is nothing to be conscious of, then there is no consciousness. This is similar to saying -- without something to see (or visualize) there is no seeing (no visualizing).

Zelebg
Posts: 51
Joined: October 23rd, 2019, 12:58 am

Re: Consciousness, what is and what it requires?

Post by Zelebg » November 11th, 2019, 8:07 pm

RJG wrote:
November 11th, 2019, 8:43 am
No, if they are not conscious, then they are NOT "conscious of the pain"; they cannot "feel" pain. To put it simply → those WITHOUT memory and recognition capability CANNOT "feel" pain (or anything!) whatsoever.
Not sure why are we even talking about it then since I think I concluded the same thing in my opening post when I sad to feel requires thoughts, and by thoughts I also mean recognition. 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?

Zelebg
Posts: 51
Joined: October 23rd, 2019, 12:58 am

Re: Consciousness, what is and what it requires?

Post by Zelebg » November 11th, 2019, 8:41 pm

Gee wrote:
November 11th, 2019, 4:00 pm
...if you were interested in consciousness or in human consciousness?
[/quote

Consciousness in general, or rather minimal consciousness. What is it, what it does (purpose), how it works - with that priority.
Eventually, I realized that all life is physical, mental, and spiritual, so I have expanded on this idea.
Sounds like panpsychism. I'm pragmatic minimalist, I feel no one is diving into the problem deep enough and that perfect spot for some mystery diving on this problem is the point where, not zombie, but computer differs from animal consciousness. People started simulating brains in hope consciousness might just pop up eventually somewhere in there, without considering many other seemingly unrelated but possibly important relations, without really knowing what to look for and where. It's like looking at electrons moving around in a computer chip and trying to figure out what is going on the display monitor.

Zelebg
Posts: 51
Joined: October 23rd, 2019, 12:58 am

Re: Consciousness, what is and what it requires?

Post by Zelebg » November 11th, 2019, 9:06 pm

RJG wrote:
November 11th, 2019, 5:30 pm

My point is that there is no consciousness without 'content'.
Speaking about content, what if I say a PC becomes conscious the moment you connect it with a monitor and it displays some content. Then I can say, look, there it is its qualia right there on the display, that's what it thinks, that's what it feels. It does not feel like we do in terms of pain and desire, but in terms of geometry of overlapping densities of magnetic and electric fields, however is that supposed to feel.

How can you deny this sentience?

User avatar
Felix
Posts: 3090
Joined: February 9th, 2009, 5:45 am

Re: Consciousness, what is and what it requires?

Post by Felix » November 12th, 2019, 5:09 am

Atla: The Hindu concept of Brahma is only correct when it isn't some kind of personality or vehicle for action in the world or whatever, which is why most Hindus are delusional. The brahma is simply the world, existence, consciousness.
Well, Vedanta speaks of Atman (the conscious soul) realizing that it is Brahma. Brahma is the consciousness that pervades the material world, not the world itself.
Atla: I've even talked to 1-2 people that claimed to have no sense of self, didn't understand what the word refers to.
I presume they could distinguish between their self and others? -- https://amzn.to/2CxNqSk
Gee: Eventually, I realized that all life is physical, mental, and spiritual, so I have expanded on this idea. I am just looking for simple truths, but know of no other person, who studies consciousness this way.
That is an ancient idea. For example, we see it in the Catholic Trinity = Father/Son/Holy Ghost; in Hindu theology = Sat-Chit-Ananda, etc.
"We do not see things as they are; we see things as we are." - Anaïs Nin

User avatar
RJG
Moderator
Posts: 1896
Joined: March 28th, 2012, 8:52 pm

Re: Consciousness, what is and what it requires?

Post by RJG » November 12th, 2019, 9:31 am

RJG wrote:If they are not conscious, then they are NOT "conscious of the pain"; they cannot "feel" pain. To put it simply → those WITHOUT memory and recognition capability CANNOT "feel" pain (or anything!) whatsoever.
Zelebg wrote:I concluded the same thing in my opening post when I said to feel requires thoughts, and by thoughts I also mean recognition.
The confusion is your usage of the word "thoughts", which you seemingly clarify at the end of your sentence. "Thoughts" and "recognition" are not interchangeable. Although you can "recognize your thoughts", thoughts themselves are just another bodily reaction, and are not to be confused or interchanged with "recognition" (or "consciousness").

Zelebg wrote:But there is a problem. If the pain doesn't hurt until you understand it…
Firstly, pain doesn't hurt until you 'recognize' (are conscious of) it. "Understanding" implies "thinking" (experiencing thoughts). It is not 'thoughts' that give us the ability to recognize, it is the re-experiencing (matching) of a past experience held in memory. (...the "aha" moment).

Consciousness is the experience of 'recognition' made possible by memory.

If we have no memory function, OR, if we do have memory function but no ability to experience 'recognition', then we can't "feel" pain, or any other bodily reaction, including thoughts, feelings, emotions, sensations (sensory), urges, etc. Without memory (or recognition) there is no consciousness.

Zelebg wrote:...in some way, then what is the reference to "hurting" and how will you ever learn what is it you need to understand?
I'm not sure what you're asking. "Hurting" is the "recognition of pain". If you (your body) has never experienced pain, then you can't know what it is; you can't "feel" it.

All bodily reactions (bodily experiences) are intrinsically 'non-conscious' events. It is 'recognition' that converts the non-conscious bodily reaction into a conscious experience.

And recognition is not possible, without a past experience (bodily reaction) to "match" with, held in memory.

Gee
Posts: 246
Joined: December 28th, 2012, 2:41 am
Location: Michigan, US

Re: Consciousness, what is and what it requires?

Post by Gee » November 12th, 2019, 1:20 pm

RJG wrote:
November 10th, 2019, 8:51 am
RJG wrote:Absolute truth = "experiencing exists"
Gee wrote:How can "experiencing" exist if there is no one or nothing to have the experience?
Logically (hint hint), it can't! The existence of "I" can only be known as a 'logical' truth, not an 'absolute' truth. Gee, please refer back to the earlier discussions for more clarity on this point.



I referred back and read your following post:
1. It is the CONCEPT(-of-"I") that is absolutely certain, NOT the "I" himself!

2. "I think, therefore I am" is an obvious case of begging-the-question (pre-assuming the conclusion). The "I" in the premise ("I think"), pre-assumes the "I" in the conclusion. ("therefore I exist"). This statement is therefore logically invalid (i.e. non-sensical). -- it is essentially saying "I exist, therefore I exist."

3. The "I" is not an absolute truth. "I" remains as a "subjective" truth (as only just the 'content' of our experiencing), until we can logically prove its certainty. In other words, we can only know of it's certainty with the use of logic. And then, it can only be known as 'logically' certain, not 'absolutely' certain. -- The "I" is no more valid/truthful than any other logical truth.

Absolute truth = "experiencing exists"
Logical truth = "experiencer (named "I") exists" -- for without an experiencer, there could be no experiencing/experiences. If "experiencing exists", then so must an "experiencer".
Subjective truth = is the content of one's experience; it is the X, Y, Z of the experience-of-X, experience-of-Y, experience-of-Z
While reading the above, the first time and each subsequent time, I thought that it was like reading Dennett. Dennett is a man, who HATES religion so much that he willingly will tweak any truth to ensure that it can not be construed as any form of dualism. Do you have the same problem with dualism?

Then I read this excerpt from your following post:
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).
The bold, italics, and underlining around the word "dualism" is mine. I just love it when I am right.

Then I researched logic, absolute truth, and Descartes' statement. My conclusions are as follows:

All of the arguments against "I think; therefore, I am" were based in concerns about dualism.

Absolute truth does not exist. It is a pipedream, a nonsensical statement often made by wannabe philosophers to explain their new and improved theory of consciousness.

Logic is something that Descartes was known for, and he understood it well, which is why he told us to "doubt" ourselves. The problem with logic is that it is much like math -- if you don't have all of the facts, your solution will be faulty. We do not have all of the facts about consciousness. This is probably why Heidegger called logic a "schoolroom tool" as it is only good for disproving theories. But you can not change "think" to "experiencing" based on your own personal biases, and then use logic to try to support your position.

If I am correct, and your concern is predominantly about Monism v Dualism, then I invite you to step out of the Dark Ages, come into the light, and let that centuries old debate rest in peace. Monism v Dualism is a false dichotomy as there is too much truth on both sides for either side to win. It would be like debating whether I am a mother or a daughter; last time I checked, I was both.

If you want to challenge Descartes, at least make it a valid argument, not this nonsense about absolute truth based on bias and misrepresentation. He was one of our most respected philosophers and deserves the respect and dignity of a valid argument.

Gee

Post Reply