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What Is Consciousness?


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Is consciousness esoteric metaphysical.

Pljames, I think you would do better to avoid terms like “esoteric metaphysical” in scientific discussion.

 

Although much science is sometimes called “esoteric”, in the sense that only small numbers of people are expert in a given scientific branch, while “metaphysics” is a understood to be a branch of traditional philosophy with important impact and implications in both the history of all science (one can reasonably conclude that science, being concerned with the questions “what is there?” and “what is it like?” is a type of metaphysics) and the current direction of some science, the terms is most often used to describe mystical traditions (eg: the OTO, Golden Dawn, etc), or ideas in general held by people who reject the scientific approach to explaining and understanding the universe.

 

A typical reaction from a scientifically literate and enthusiastic reader to a sentence like your first one is to assume the writer is a member of this antiscientific group.

 

When do we get it in womb in the cell where does it begin?

Based on all the scientific data and analysis in the last 34 years of which I’m aware, consciousness is not something “implanted”, in any measurable way, in a ovum (“cell in the womb”) or any other cell. Consciousness – which can be specifically defined as self awareness, and objectively defined as the ability of an organism to exhibit specific behaviors, such as passing the mirror test – has never been observed in small collections of cells, and only in the large collections of cells comprising adult animals of a few animal species.

 

From this, we can conclude that consciousness is a characteristic of some, but not all, kinds of brains.

 

We’ve discussed consciousness a lot, for a long time, here at hypography, so I won’t just repeat what’s been written in those threads,but point to threads like Turing, Intelligence And Sentiece (sic), and recommend finds from a search for “consciousness” and related terms.

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craigd, whil;e that view point is the perception of western phylosophy, eastern phylosophy is a bit different,

 

while i have my own point of view,

 

i , according to the knowledge that i possess, assert that conciusness it the perception of the while being, interpreted by the brain, and the awareness that the individual has

this can be along many lines, as all species have it, even your pet cat, makes decisions based on its life time of knowledge

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while i have my own point of view,

 

i , according to the knowledge that i possess, assert that conciusness it the perception of the while being, interpreted by the brain, and the awareness that the individual has

this can be along many lines, as all species have it, even your pet cat, makes decisions based on its life time of knowledge

 

 

Well, you can't really separate the words ''awareness'' and ''consciousness.''

 

Consciousness is a state of awareness, a kind of level of awareness. Not all animals have consciousness, therefore they have different states of awareness.

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craigd, whil;e that view point is the perception of western phylosophy, eastern phylosophy is a bit different,

It’s true many people believe in other explanations of consciousness than the materialistic theory I summarized in my previous post. A few come to mind:

 

One, which I believe pljames’s original post asked about, is that consciousness is due to a “divine spark” or “magic ingredient” that is added to our bodies to make them become conscious.

 

Another, considered a sort of “eastern philosophy”, which I’d describe more specifically as that described in Bardo Thodol, Tibetan Buddhism’s “book of the dead” (which could better be called, IMHO, “book about dying”), it that consciousness exists in disembodied souls that sometimes incarnate (or reincarnates) in zygotes at or around the instant of fertilization.

 

Another is that “the brain receives consciousness like a radio receive receives radio” (to borrow an analogy from a longtime friend). According to this view, specific currently poorly understood structures and chemical processes in brains (or in principle other organs, or the whole body) cause them to receive and send signals of a kind not presently unknown (but not in principle unknowable) to science from and to a “spirit universe” (which may be physically collocated with us, or may be displaced, such in the direction of an extra non-compact dimension in the bulk described in some M-theory.

 

Another is “quantum consciousness”, a family of hypotheses promoted by people such as Roger Penrose, who propose that poorly understood structures in the brain perform non-classical computations, and that consciousness requires such computations. This has been called, somewhat jokingly and not always with the agreement of its proponents, “new mysterianism”, a concept linked with the ideas of philosopher Owen Flanagan, and concepts not about the objective reality of consciousness-producing processes, but their knowability by humans, such as the Sapir–Whorf hypothesis.

 

I’m don’t know of any compelling science that rules out the potentially scientific hypothesis among these – that is, the last 2 in the list, and similar. The first two are more religious instruction than scientific theory, though I think a not too unreasonable argument can be made that the Tibetan Buddhist model of reality is a scientifically testable one. I think the “divine spark” explanation (which is traditionally considered necessary not just to consciousness, but to all human, but no non-human, biological processes), though accepted by hundreds of millions of religionists, is a now thoroughly scientifically discredited, pre-scientific theory.

 

 

 

Well, you can't really separate the words ''awareness'' and ''consciousness.''

 

Consciousness is a state of awareness, a kind of level of awareness. Not all animals have consciousness, therefore they have different states of awareness.

I agree.

 

One of my favorite “consciousness theorists” Douglas Hofstadter, distinguishes human consciousness from that of animals like cats and dogs by our ability to abstract and store knowledge, which he describes as practically unlimited. Much of my own view on the subject agree with his.

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  • 1 year later...

Consciousness at this point is a complete mystery. A wonderful book to read on consciousness is called "Consciousness Explained" by Daniel C. Dennett. I found this book very enlightening and you leave the book with the sense that we are moving in the right direction.

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  • 6 months later...

Hi everybody,

 

To me, consciousness is about our brain perceiving a change with time, whether that change comes from inside or outside of the brain. Someone who never saw himself on a picture would not recognize himself, but if he sees himself in a mirror, he would recognize the moves he is making, because he would recognize that the change happening in his brain to make the moves happens at the same time in the mirror. Without that coincidence, for instance if there was a delay in the transmission of the information, he would have to remember his moves longer to recognize them, but the longer the delay, no matter the memory, the less he would be able to detect a coincidence. This happens when the sound is not matching the picture on a video: if the delay is short, the words still match the lips, but when it is out by a second, it becomes impossible to recognize the match.

 

Our brain is equipped to recognize changes because they are important for animal life: that way, an animal can become attentive to a change and decide if it is repulsive or attractive. We do the same, but I think that we are equipped to produce change voluntarily in our brain, thus consciously, whereas animals are less. Since the informations that we have in the brain should not change to stay useful, which is the duty of our memory, how the hell could we voluntarily change anything in them?

 

For instance, if we want to develop a new idea, the only information we can use is the ideas that we already have in mind, but a new idea contains new informations, which were not there before, which were not contained in the old ones. In other words, to make a real change, we cannot only compare our informations, or mix them, or make deductions: we have to do something else.

 

I already have my own idea about that, and its a new one too, but I'll wait and see if, by chance, someone gets to the same conclusion. By the way, this idea has something to do with the changes happening in our own mind, thus about the conscience that I am talking about, so it is not really irrelevant to the topic even if it seems to.

Edited by LeRepteux
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