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
Zelebg
Posts: 44
Joined: October 23rd, 2019, 12:58 am

Consciousness, what is and what it requires?

Post by Zelebg » 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.

User avatar
Papus79
Posts: 303
Joined: February 19th, 2017, 6:59 pm

Re: Consciousness, what is and what it requires?

Post by Papus79 » November 4th, 2019, 8:19 am

This is where 'the wetness of water' analogies break down for me, something much too complicated seems to be going on with it. My intuition already and why words like paranormal or supernatural are like nails on a chalk-board to me is that they're an embarrassment, an open display of huge categorical errors our culture still seem to be making about the phenomena we're dealing with that either do or don't fit into our already pre-made boxes and our boxes are obviously the wrong ones.

I ended up watching the IAI interview with Donald Hoffman yesterday and I've heard his arguments before but it's helpful sometimes to hear a different interview and try to get closer to the bottom of what it is he thinks that he's seeing. There was a part of that interview that got quite useful and it was the one where he was talking about left and right hemisphere genuinely not experiencing contact with each other or any cut off of flow when, like in the case of older versions of handling sever epilepsy, the corpus callosum was cut during surgery. This seems to imply that our experience of self is not actually the individual parts of consciousness reacting to it, it's a bit more like what we experience as us is a governance framework sitting over top of those parts and to the degree that you could have the experience of various sub-components of the left and right brains it's the left and right brains that hold those components into some sort of traction together much like 'I' hold my right and left hemispheres in agreement through my corpus callosum. To put it even simpler - my left brain and my right brain don't know that I exist and the control information I send back to them in that case would most likely be experienced as inscrutable intuitions (or at least the left brain could retrofit a narrative - not so much the right).

This actually hits on an issue that I've been running into before, ie. that when certain intuitions 'pan out' and random chance doesn't explain it or when we find ourselves observing strong synchronicities, if we're not averse to some radical form of functionalism (which anymore I'd say that I'm not) much of this is most likely layers of cross-talk that we don't have access to on our own introspection, that its technically 'real' but that its so remote that our intuitions about it quite often won't be valid in that it can't be read literally by the time it gets too us - too much information has been lost. It's interesting to think that on certain levels above us there are organizing contracts of sorts that are regulating groups of people in a self-aware manner similar to how I hold my brain together as one me.

Zelebg
Posts: 44
Joined: October 23rd, 2019, 12:58 am

Re: Consciousness, what is and what it requires?

Post by Zelebg » November 4th, 2019, 8:40 pm

Papus79 wrote:
November 4th, 2019, 8:19 am
There was a part of that interview that got quite useful and it was the one where he was talking about left and right hemisphere genuinely not experiencing contact with each other or any cut off of flow when, like in the case of older versions of handling sever epilepsy, the corpus callosum was cut during surgery.
Yes, there is no consensus anymore between different aspects of ones personality residing in different hemispheres, but it seems the inner perception of self is still not split in a kind of way perception of outside would be if I could see through my left and your right eye.

Rather than to define properties, I'm trying to draw lines between some categories. The goal is kind of to conclude the ontology of these words: experience - sentience - qualia - self-awareness - consciousness - sensation - emotion - feeling - (thought), they all point to one thing. And that thing is "something" subjective that experiences those sensations, emotions, or thoughts. I say this is not computation problem, but "hardware and interface" problem, whis is mostly due to fact we don't know of anything that could fit the bill here to explain this _subjective_ phenomena, it has no parallel in any of our sciences, except science fiction. Seriously, some kind of "dream" of the type 'Total Recall' or 'The Matrix' are the only kind of mechanics we know of that could, at least in principle, address this problem. Is there anything else?

User avatar
RJG
Moderator
Posts: 1592
Joined: March 28th, 2012, 8:52 pm

Re: Consciousness, what is and what it requires?

Post by RJG » November 5th, 2019, 8:32 am

Zelebg wrote:To be conscious is to have experience.
Not quite. To be conscious is to know (recognize; be aware of) our experience(s).

Zelebg wrote:To experience is to feel extern senses or inner emotions.
An "experience" is a physical bodily reaction (whether generated internally or externally). A "conscious experience" is the knowing (recognition) of said bodily reaction.

Zelebg wrote:Any experience is a feeling: taste, vision, joy, desire…
Experiences ("bodily reactions") include thoughts, feelings, sensations, and urges.

Zelebg wrote:Any experience is necessarily subjective experience.
Agreed.

Zelebg wrote:Subjective experience requires the subject, that is "self".
There is no separate "self". The true 'subject' is the reactive physical body himself; i.e. the 'experiencer' of the experiences (the 'substrate' of the reaction).

Zelebg wrote:Consciousness requires, or is, self-awareness.
False. True "self-awareness" is a myth; a logical impossibility.

Zelebg wrote:To be self aware requires, or is, to have thoughts
False. 1. Self-awareness is a myth. 2. "Having thoughts" is just being conscious of one's thoughts, that's all.

Zelebg wrote:Thoughts require intelligence.
Thoughts only require brain/memory interactions. Knowing (being conscious of) our thoughts require the ability to experience recognition.

Zelebg wrote:Consciousness requires, or is, intelligence.
False. Consciousness is just the experience of recognition made possible by memory.

It is the experience of 'recognition' that converts a non-conscious bodily reaction into a conscious experience.

User avatar
chewybrian
Posts: 446
Joined: May 9th, 2018, 7:17 pm
Favorite Philosopher: Epictetus
Location: Florida man

Re: Consciousness, what is and what it requires?

Post by chewybrian » November 5th, 2019, 11:46 am

RJG wrote:
November 5th, 2019, 8:32 am
Zelebg wrote:Subjective experience requires the subject, that is "self".
There is no separate "self". The true 'subject' is the reactive physical body himself; i.e. the 'experiencer' of the experiences (the 'substrate' of the reaction).
Do we know what consciousness is? Can we locate it or define it in concrete terms? If it is material, what properties apply, as they apply to all material things, like size, weight, location, color...? How many calories are in your consciousness? Even a ray of light has predictable properties we can observe. It is a bit sketchy to try to define consciousness in these terms. It is only a bold assumption that underlying the unpredictable 'self' is a complex yet predictable network of cause and effect so complex that it can not be predicted, even though it is predictable. Until it is proven, it remains an assumption, no matter how much logic we stack upon it.

By a different assumption, no less worthy of consideration, it is possible that consciousness is not at all physical. If you unlock your brain a bit, a la Descartes, it is easy to assent to this idea. Having assented, all bets are off, and a separate self, soul, or whatever is a possibility. If we don't know what it is, then we can't fairly say it must abide by the rules we think apply to the things we think we understand. This is doubly true when it appears to break the rules at every turn.
RJG wrote:
November 5th, 2019, 8:32 am
Zelebg wrote:Consciousness requires, or is, self-awareness.
False. True "self-awareness" is a myth; a logical impossibility.
To deny self-awareness implies that there is nothing of which we might be aware. I am necessarily more aware of myself than I am of any other person or thing. I know things about myself that nobody else could know. I have full access, or at least more than anyone else, at all times.

How am I not self-aware? I know where I am (most of the time). I recognize myself in the mirror. I know how I feel at any given moment and I know my true intentions. I am able to judge what kind of person I am. I could be in denial about it, as I could be about my opinion of anything or anyone else. But, I can also look at my own actions with an open mind. I can decide if I have been just or kind or selfish or mean. I can see that I may be a terrible golfer or a great writer or a drug addict or a math whiz or whatever it is that I may be or could be. (I'm doubt I am any of those, save 'terrible golfer'). I can decide the type of person I would like to be and work to become that type of person. Or, I can close my eyes and focus on distractions and continue on an unhealthy path. How could people ever break bad habits without self-awareness? Do I have any real chance at self-improvement if I must wait for guidance and intervention at every step?

Your 'logical impossibility' requires us to assent to your assumptions, to which I do not assent, and to which many people do not assent. More than half the people on the planet believe in God, for example. Most of those would further believe in the separate 'soul'.

Philosophy begins with the idea that we don't know everything, or that those things we think we know may be wrong. I think, therefore I am... Descartes makes this the starting point, the one thing that can not be denied. I agree with him, and I won't deny my own self in favor of a theory. I would admit your view remains a possibility, though I think it is unfair for you to dismiss other possibilities. We just don't know, do we?
"If determinism holds, then past events have conspired to cause me to hold this view--it is out of my control. Either I am right about free will, or it is not my fault that I am wrong."

User avatar
RJG
Moderator
Posts: 1592
Joined: March 28th, 2012, 8:52 pm

Re: Consciousness, what is and what it requires?

Post by RJG » 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.


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.

User avatar
Papus79
Posts: 303
Joined: February 19th, 2017, 6:59 pm

Re: Consciousness, what is and what it requires?

Post by Papus79 » November 6th, 2019, 9:59 am

Going back through a few of these:
Zelebg wrote:
November 3rd, 2019, 8:23 pm
To be conscious is to have experience.
Boiler plate and IMHO correct.
Zelebg wrote:
November 3rd, 2019, 8:23 pm
To experience is to feel extern senses or inner emotions.
Or even just the sense of existing in time. It can hollow out pretty far and still 'be' something.
Zelebg wrote:
November 3rd, 2019, 8:23 pm
Any experience is a feeling: taste, vision, joy, desire...
I tend to think that's more like contents in consciousness, the bedrock is more minimal and persistent.
Zelebg wrote:
November 3rd, 2019, 8:23 pm
Any experience is necessarily subjective experience.
Correct, as we're constructing our sensory impressions in our own minds.
Zelebg wrote:
November 3rd, 2019, 8:23 pm
Subjective experience requires the subject, that is "self".
This one's a bit diaphanous - we still don't know what the 'self' is yet exactly, I do like Hoffman's take that it's a composite of parts that in and of themselves don't necessarily know about each other or at least supervening layers, and there are so many parts of our brains and bodies, cerebellum most notably, that are quite dense in gray matter and quite silent.
Zelebg wrote:
November 3rd, 2019, 8:23 pm
Consciousness requires, or is, self-awareness.
That might be stacking a bit more in - unless you're just saying some basic recognition of 'I am having an experience', whether verbalized or not.
Zelebg wrote:
November 3rd, 2019, 8:23 pm
To be self aware requires, or is, to have thoughts
That's one place I'd disagree - it can go silent and you can be in flow, your senses will still keep processing.

The last three points built on the last point so it's probably best to leave it there.

Zelebg
Posts: 44
Joined: October 23rd, 2019, 12:58 am

Re: Consciousness, what is and what it requires?

Post by Zelebg » November 7th, 2019, 1:51 am

RJG wrote:
November 6th, 2019, 8:24 am
Not so. You are only aware of an IDEA of your-"self", but never of your-"self" itself.
Everything is just a concept from our _subjective point of view. But this 1st person view also makes one concept different than any other: "I think, therefore I am". Those I's in that statement is the only concept you can actually be certain of, even if the whole of space-time reality is just an illusion.


Papus79 wrote:
November 6th, 2019, 9:59 am
This one's a bit diaphanous - we still don't know what the 'self' is yet exactly, I do like Hoffman's take that it's a composite of parts that in and of themselves don't necessarily know about each other or at least supervening layers, and there are so many parts of our brains and bodies, cerebellum most notably, that are quite dense in gray matter and quite silent.
I agree we don't know what "self" is, but there is something there we have to name differently than "body" or "brain" because it can not be described in terms of material properties or functions we know of.
That might be stacking a bit more in - unless you're just saying some basic recognition of 'I am having an experience', whether verbalized or not.
Yes, basic recognition of 'I am having an experience', but also that is impossible to have any kind of experience without that subjectivness somehow implied in the act of experiencing. I think that subjectivness can fittingly be called self-awareness even if it is not explicitly referenced in emotions and sensations as it is in cognition when thinking or talking about self.
That's one place I'd disagree - it can go silent and you can be in flow, your senses will still keep processing.
That looks like description of sleep-walking. Yeah, everything is always going on except thoughts, and the same can be said about consciousness, so I equate the two.

User avatar
Papus79
Posts: 303
Joined: February 19th, 2017, 6:59 pm

Re: Consciousness, what is and what it requires?

Post by Papus79 » November 7th, 2019, 8:15 am

Zelebg wrote:
November 7th, 2019, 1:51 am
That looks like description of sleep-walking. Yeah, everything is always going on except thoughts, and the same can be said about consciousness, so I equate the two.
Any familiarity with Sam Harris's book Waking Up? He starts playing with this area more, particularly calling on his experiences with both long-term meditation and psychedelics. In the later case the default mode network is either significantly decreased or turned off by chemical catalysts or aids, in the former there's a desire not only to turn the default mode network down or off but even turn all discursive loops of cognition off and what's often found is that such a space can seem exponential in terms of how far one can go into it. In that way someone whose been practicing zazen every morning for an hour for years might encounter moments of that for significant swaths of that hour.

User avatar
RJG
Moderator
Posts: 1592
Joined: March 28th, 2012, 8:52 pm

Re: Consciousness, what is and what it requires?

Post by RJG » November 7th, 2019, 8:30 am

RJG wrote:You are only aware of an IDEA of your-"self", but never of your-"self" itself.
Zelebg wrote:Everything is just a concept from our _subjective point of view.
Bingo! ...now don't forget this very important point, especially the "everything" part. (...Note: since "concept" (thought/idea) is one of many experiences, the more correct statement would be "Everything is just an experience".)

Zelebg wrote:But this 1st person view also makes one concept different than any other:
Non-sense. A concept-of-X (or concept-of-"I" in this case) is still just a 'concept'. The concept-of-X is no more certain (or less certain) than the concept-of-Y, or the concept-of-Z. (...or the concept-of-flying pigs!)

Zelebg wrote:"I think, therefore I am". Those I's in that statement is the only concept you can actually be certain of…
Non-sense again. Zelebg, you are using flawed logic. This is irrational (invalid and unsound) reasoning:

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

User avatar
h_k_s
Posts: 748
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 7th, 2019, 12:32 pm

Zelebg wrote:
November 7th, 2019, 1:51 am
RJG wrote:
November 6th, 2019, 8:24 am
Not so. You are only aware of an IDEA of your-"self", but never of your-"self" itself.
Everything is just a concept from our _subjective point of view. But this 1st person view also makes one concept different than any other: "I think, therefore I am". Those I's in that statement is the only concept you can actually be certain of, even if the whole of space-time reality is just an illusion.


Papus79 wrote:
November 6th, 2019, 9:59 am
This one's a bit diaphanous - we still don't know what the 'self' is yet exactly, I do like Hoffman's take that it's a composite of parts that in and of themselves don't necessarily know about each other or at least supervening layers, and there are so many parts of our brains and bodies, cerebellum most notably, that are quite dense in gray matter and quite silent.
I agree we don't know what "self" is, but there is something there we have to name differently than "body" or "brain" because it can not be described in terms of material properties or functions we know of.
That might be stacking a bit more in - unless you're just saying some basic recognition of 'I am having an experience', whether verbalized or not.
Yes, basic recognition of 'I am having an experience', but also that is impossible to have any kind of experience without that subjectivness somehow implied in the act of experiencing. I think that subjectivness can fittingly be called self-awareness even if it is not explicitly referenced in emotions and sensations as it is in cognition when thinking or talking about self.
That's one place I'd disagree - it can go silent and you can be in flow, your senses will still keep processing.
That looks like description of sleep-walking. Yeah, everything is always going on except thoughts, and the same can be said about consciousness, so I equate the two.
I too go back to Descartes' "Cogito ergo sum" as being the very beginning of all philosophical thinking.

We ourselves individually inhabit our bodies, more specifically somewhere within our skulls behind our eyeballs. That's where everything begins for each of us in terms of awareness and experience. From there we are aware of the rest of our bodies and limbs and experience things external to us through our body parts as conveyed to us through the physiological phenomena of what we call senses -- seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, and feeling.

We then go on to interpret everything that we perceive. We interpret with our emotions -- placidity, alarm, fear, revulsion, hate, love, attraction, agreement, concurrence, etc. We do all this with our minds, which we perceive as something intangible housed within our brains apparently.

From there, living becomes an exercise in survival. We must breathe, keep warm, be safe, drink, eat, sleep, be productive and self sufficient, and be happy and contented. Those are our basic requirements for survival.

We are thrown into our survival situations by birth, which was an activity completely outside of our control. Essentially two people somehow got together and began the birthing process, then after gestation we are delivered to the world around us now independent of our spawning female parent. She will (hopefully) care for us for a time, mostly because we then look so cuddly and cute, like a kitten or puppy, but ultimately she will cast us off when we are old enough to no longer appeal to her in that way, and then we are on our own.

Why? We don't know why. But that's just the way it is. That's how and where we have found ourselves to be.

The lucky and smart ones who have thus been cut loose and cast away will discover and become expert at philosophy.

The not so lucky or smart will not.

User avatar
RJG
Moderator
Posts: 1592
Joined: March 28th, 2012, 8:52 pm

Re: Consciousness, what is and what it requires?

Post by RJG » 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).

Zelebg
Posts: 44
Joined: October 23rd, 2019, 12:58 am

Re: Consciousness, what is and what it requires?

Post by Zelebg » November 7th, 2019, 5:32 pm

RJG wrote:
November 7th, 2019, 8:30 am
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."
How can "I" be an assumption when it is needed in the first place to make any assumption? "I" is direct experience, even if you assume it's a crocodile it is still the only one thing necessary real. If you hear music and taste chicken, then "hear", "music", "taste", and "chicken" all could be illusion, but without the concept of "you" those other things can not even exist at all.

User avatar
RJG
Moderator
Posts: 1592
Joined: March 28th, 2012, 8:52 pm

Re: Consciousness, what is and what it requires?

Post by RJG » November 8th, 2019, 4:55 am

RJG wrote:"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."
Zelebg wrote:How can "I" be an assumption when it is needed in the first place to make any assumption?
The "I" cannot be known to exist until AFTER it is logically derived. Descartes commits a logical error by claiming it exists BEFORE (in the premise), so as to then claim it exists in his conclusion. This is called "begging-the-question". He is essentially only telling us "I exist, therefore I exist", which may sound and feel good to some of us, but it is purely irrational (non-sensical).

"I" is an assumption in the premise because it has not yet been established as undoubtable/undeniable. Only through experiencing can it then be 'logically derived' as 'logically certain' (...but not absolutely certain).

Zelebg wrote:"I" is direct experience, even if you assume it's a crocodile it is still the only one thing necessary real.
"I" is not a direct experience, it has to be logically derived. For example, a crocodile doesn't know he is a crocodile (his "I" exists) until he is taught it, or logically derives it for himself.

Zelebg wrote:If you hear music and taste chicken, then "hear", "music", "taste", and "chicken" all could be illusion, but without the concept of "you" those other things can not even exist at all.
Yes, you have just logically derived your existence!! In other words, you can't know you exist until you figure it out (logically derive it). Until then, you would just be happily experiencing one experience after another, just like the crocodile.

"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
Posts: 44
Joined: October 23rd, 2019, 12:58 am

Re: Consciousness, what is and what it requires?

Post by Zelebg » November 8th, 2019, 5:27 pm

RJG wrote:
November 8th, 2019, 4:55 am
"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.
I agree. That is how I understand 'experience' in general, as necessarily subjective, so too me that and the original statement translate kind of the same. But the more general point you're making seem to be there is no emotion and no sensation without cognition, so then is intelligence necessary too? And if we remove all sensations and emotions, and are left only with our thoughts, should we say we experience thoughts or just that we're thinking? In other words, is thinking the same thing as being sentient?

Post Reply