How Does the World Work?


  • See the About page for a description of the subjects of interest covered in this blog.

Series Indexes

Global Issues Blogroll

Blog powered by Typepad

Comment Policy

  • Comments
    Comments are open and welcome as long as they are not offensive or hateful. Also this site is commercial free so any comments that are offensive or promotional will be removed. Good questions are always welcome!

« Talking to Myself - Who is Listening? | Main | Happy Peak Daylight »

May 17, 2014

Comments

Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Robin Datta

There is no need to invoke such a thing as consciousness in any of the functions of the brain or the abstraction called the mind. It has been recognised for millennia that both body and mind have no awareness.

George Mobus

@Robin,

Don't you think you should explain this claim? What exactly do you mean by invoking a "thing" called consciousness in the "functions" of the brain? What do you mean by an "abstraction" of mind? Recognized by whom? What evidence?

As you can see by this meager bibliography the scientific study of consciousness is well advanced and none of these authors have made any similar claim to my knowledge. The prevailing scientific theory is that the brain, in its normal functioning, produces a phenomenal experience of being aware of the world and the self and the interactions that transpire between. Lower animals have lower degrees of consciousness and humans have some unique higher degrees of consciousness. Please cite the science that backs up your proclamation.

George

Aboc Zed

George,

Good luck with your research . It would be great if your efforts will eventually yield results.

although I think building intelligent robots is likely not happen before we run out of energy to power them I still like you doing it if only for gaining knowledge.

It would be much easier simply to learn how to raise humans in such a way that they communicate to understand and agree instead of disagreeing for the sake of disagreeing doing what Allan Watts called "putting one-down" and reasserting him/herself "one-up".

Take Robin's note above. He essentially agreed with the way you present the subject in this post in his own comment to your earlier post "Exploring Consciousness Dangerous Territory? " but here he uses the language that appears to be disagreeing with you.

And this is why we will never agree on anything and eventually the whole will shrink bottom-up.

I dream about the time when children learn the proper ways of thinking and communicating and will be indoctrinated with the mental model of the eusociality as the necessary condition of ones well being.

Unfortunately I know it will only remain a dream during my lifetime and when my children grow up they are likely to dream completely different dreams: the dreams of survival.

Again thanks for putting up the posts - they are very enjoyable and informative.

Tom Reis

Great Work have you ever read Frederic Vester? Enjoy your work go ahead.

Robin Datta

All the scientific research is directed towards a concept called "consciousness". That concept, like all concepts, lacks awareness. All of behaviour, human or otherwise, is a function of insentient biological systems.

Anything that one knows, one is not. One knows a table or a chair. One is not a table or a chair. One knows one's body. One is not one's body. One knows one's feelings. One is not one's feelings. One knows one's thoughts. One is not one's thoughts. One knows one's mind. One is not one's mind. One even knows the concept ""I" exist". One is not that "I". There is a knower that is independent of the knowing and the knowledge. It cannot be known, since it is not an object of knowledge. It cannot be acquired, just as water cannot "acquire" wetness. Any effort to intellectually manipulate the concept called "consciousness" will miss it altogether.

There is an almost universally overlooked distinction between the seer and the seen.

George Mobus

@Aboc,

... appears to be disagreeing with you.

And this is why we will never agree on anything and eventually the whole will shrink bottom-up.

Honestly I can't tell (see below).

But you are right about the kind of discourse that we see in the world. Our own congress is an excellent example of the worst kind.

----------------------------------------
@Tom R.,

Thanks. I will do my best!

----------------------------------------
@Robin,

I am having great difficulty understanding what you are trying to convey. Take for example:

That concept, like all concepts, lacks awareness.

If you and I are using the words 'concept' and 'awareness' with the same meanings then I am puzzled as to what this could possibly mean. I don't think I or anyone has said something like "concepts have awareness." It might be inferred that since concepts are instantiated in neural assemblages and since those neurons are themselves responsive to the messages that arrive at their synapses (i.e. have a kind of awareness perhaps) and become activated, bringing the concept to mind or conscious awareness, then the whole concept possesses some biological level of awareness. However, I suspect your definition of awareness precludes this kind of inference.

Any effort to intellectually manipulate the concept called "consciousness" will miss it altogether.

Perhaps Aboc is right. You seem to be disagreeing with my "intellectual" exercise as being a fools errand. And your link to a Vedic scholar's web site confirms my suspicion that your claims are based on teachings rather than scientific investigations. Well that is fine. I remind you that I have had a dip in the Vedic literature myself and found it unsatisfying (nor did the mere practice of meditation satisfy my insatiable curiosity about what was going on in the mind). We read, for example, the Rig Veda, Mandala Nine, over and over. We were told not to try to interpret the meanings of the verses but to simply let the images "play" in our minds - that the deeper meanings would emerge in our consciousness. I guess I was a failure at that exercise. I kept on wondering what those deeper meanings might be and never really found out.

So I prefer the scientific route to understanding. The knower that you claim cannot be known becomes an article of faith (if it cannot be known). The route I pursue has actually done quite well in coming to understanding of what this "knower" is and how it operates. Not by introspection alone, but by scientific exploration combined with introspection. I'll leave the Vedic understanding to the Vedic scholars.

George

Cantab

I am aware of 'Robin Datta'. I am not 'Robin Datta.'

Oh joy!

This particular mystical pose doesn't seem to contribute much, except to give RD a frisson of excitement.

Scientific investigation and introspection combined do seem much more promising.

UniverseWeAre

"The reason I call it ineffable is because one senses that there is something real there, but cannot observe it as a consciously held object."

I think you'd take that back had you ever eaten an ounce of magic mushrooms. ;)

I think it needs to be stated that the Sensory Integration Map is where the separateness illusion creeps in.

The Sensory Integration Map performs a vital function by drawing boundary lines between the organ that keeps our bits inside us (our flabby skin shells) and the rest of the universe as a whole.

It is the emergence of sapience that allows us to understand that our self stretches beyond our epidermis.

The specialized food we eat is as much a part of our digestive system as our stomach and intestines.

The trees and plants are as much a part of our respiratory system as our lungs are.

The mass of the Earth is as much a part of our skeletal system as our bones are.

Lights, sounds, odors and flavors are part of our nervous system along with our nerve endings and brains.

Sapience allows us a greater sense of self that encompasses way more than a blob of flesh with individual freedoms and rights.

It allows us to realize that we need food to grow and water to drink and people to share it with.

It allows us to realize that the basic unit of survival is not the individual; but the community and its environment. (Paraphrasing John Michael Greer).

We are the systems that support us. We are literally conscious universe since our lives depend upon its entire history happening the way it happened.

A bubble is composed of the air inside it, the thin soap (or spit) film forming the fragile shell, the entire atmosphere that it floats in, the Earth it floats above and the sunlight that it sparkles in.

UniverseWeAre

... and the fool who blew it... :)

UniverseWeAre

@Robin

I think the point you are trying to make is that consciousness is an emergent property from the whole system and not from any one individual human.

If that's not the point you're making you should be. ;)

Humans share consciousness like flowers share colors.

George Mobus

@UniverseWeAre,

Acknowledge the fact that the "unit" of survival is the whole social system. However, all the external things that you say are as much a part of us seems to me to be overstating the relations. In systems science we deal with explicit external relations as flows into and out of the system of interest's boundary. An individual communicates with the external world and those communications do indeed alter both, but the strength of interconnection between the external and between components on the internal are quite different. We are loosely coupled with the entities in our environment but strongly coupled with respect to our own insides.

The sense of self started long before humans or even mammals evolved. In my first posting on this subject I show how a very simple brain can monitor self vs. other.

Your statement that consciousness emerged from the whole system must certainly be true in the evolutionary sense. However, it also emerges in individuals with brains competent to support it in the development sense. It takes both individual consciousness and the interactions between individuals to push it further evolutionarily.

Not sure about the flowers!

George

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Working...
Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.

Working...

Post a comment