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Consciousness

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TheJonesy
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#1

Posted 28 February 2013 - 01:33 AM

Consciousness: "I think therefore I am" - Rene Descartes

Being a student in psychology, I see the active consciousness as something very interesting and even more profound. It's the one thing in the entire universe we take for granted because it is something automatically understood and thus often not investigated or questioned.

Due to our ever increasing, accessible, and innovative scientific findings, many theories have been disproved and much more have been created. Several hundred years ago, Earth was seen as the universe while only a few subsequent objects revolving around it; now, we know that Earth is merely a grain of sand. This is only a minuscule example of changing truth. Thus, does there not exist the possibility of our current knowledge capable of being wrong? With this idea, conscious could indeed be the only concept we can be right about.

Curious I find is that there only exists one truth any individual can agree upon: our own existence of perception, thought, feelings, etc., our self - in a philosophical sense. What I find even more curious is the difficulty in proving consciousness. In what ways can I prove that any one else is conscious in the way I perceive. More importantly, what exactly is consciousness? Is it the abstract, mythic, ethereal entity produced by our brains? Is it a soul? What does consciousness have in relation to religious debate?

Melchior
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#2

Posted 28 February 2013 - 03:24 AM

Consciousness is self-awareness, which is necessary for self preservation. It's an evolutionary construct.

Next question.

TheJonesy
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#3

Posted 28 February 2013 - 04:55 AM

Wow, you're so smart. How else should I feed your ego?

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#4

Posted 28 February 2013 - 07:18 AM

If you want to bicker, go elsewhere please.

WhatsStrength
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#5

Posted 28 February 2013 - 09:19 AM

I'm certainly no psychologist nor do I even have any remote medical training, but from what I understand, our consciousness is just a series of neurons firing off electrical signals in our brains. I don't know how or why we have it, it just "is". I don't even know if it's something that our species has had since the beginning, or just another evolutionary trait.

There's a lot of debate as to how much of our brain is consciously-controlled; that is, what parts of our body we have direct control over. The most common figures are between 10-20%, and I think that's a good thing because it would be extremely dangerous, and most likely fatal, to have access to our vital organs like our hearts.

But like I said, this is really just off-hand knowledge, if not assumptions.

Melchior
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#6

Posted 28 February 2013 - 10:42 AM

QUOTE (whatsstrength @ Thursday, Feb 28 2013, 19:19)
There's a lot of debate as to how much of our brain is consciously-controlled; that is, what parts of our body we have direct control over. The most common figures are between 10-20%, and I think that's a good thing because it would be extremely dangerous, and most likely fatal, to have access to our vital organs like our hearts.

Technically, the electrons start firing off (to use your terminology) several nanoseconds (maybe more) before you "decide" to perform an action. Not really sure what you mean by "there's a lot of debate" what exactly is contested?

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#7

Posted 28 February 2013 - 05:48 PM

QUOTE (Melchior @ Thursday, Feb 28 2013, 05:42)
QUOTE (whatsstrength @ Thursday, Feb 28 2013, 19:19)
There's a lot of debate as to how much of our brain is consciously-controlled; that is, what parts of our body we have direct control over. The most common figures are between 10-20%, and I think that's a good thing because it would be extremely dangerous, and most likely fatal, to have access to our vital organs like our hearts.

Technically, the electrons start firing off (to use your terminology) several nanoseconds (maybe more) before you "decide" to perform an action. Not really sure what you mean by "there's a lot of debate" what exactly is contested?


Like I said, I probably don't know what I'm talking about, but this is where I read about the "10%" myth.

http://en.wikipedia....t_of_brain_myth

TheJonesy
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#8

Posted 28 February 2013 - 09:01 PM

What interests me is the concept of whether other species have a consciousness as vivid as humans. Despite whether a specific species is responsive doesn't necessarily imply consciousness; science has yet to definitively prove it. If so, is consciousness an absolute, have-or-don't-have construct or is it a sort of spectrum of intensity dependent of the cerebral growth.

Studies that I have read have stated that consciousness is the product of our neural system, obviously. I'm unsure whether this specifically includes our lower brain and stem: systems responsible for basic, homeostatic survival. If this isn't the case, then consciousness has a relation to cerebral development. Based upon my understanding of animals - noting that this is limited, feel free to correct otherwise - is that more personable behaviors - a much more apparent personality if you will - exist in higher brain development. In other words, insects, for example, seem much more of a survival-motivated drone whereas a monkey expresses more personality and emotion.

Concerning the debate of brain usage, I think it is possible that the brain isn't used at its full potential. I remember learning about a case where an individual had to have a portion of his/her brain removed - I think due to cancer - and the remaining portions picked up the slack of what was lost.

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#9

Posted 01 March 2013 - 12:31 AM

QUOTE (Melchior @ Thursday, Feb 28 2013, 11:42)
Technically, the electrons start firing off (to use your terminology) several nanoseconds (maybe more) before you "decide" to perform an action. Not really sure what you mean by "there's a lot of debate" what exactly is contested?

Technically electrons aren't actually a direct part of our nervous system. There isn't a 'flow of electrons' down our neurones as thought of in traditional circuitry, it's different concentrations of positive ions (hence caused by lack of electrons) causing a potential difference then being depolarised. Though this isn't related to the topic at hand and is a minor technicality.

I'm curious as to what you mean by the impulse being generated prior to the you deciding. Do you mean you've already subconsciously decided your reaction before acknowledging it consciously, or perhaps reflex arc reactions that don't require cognitive input?

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#10

Posted 01 March 2013 - 01:15 AM Edited by El_Diablo, 01 March 2013 - 08:22 AM.

QUOTE (TheJonesy @ Wednesday, Feb 27 2013, 18:33)
It's the one thing in the entire universe we take for granted because it is something automatically understood and thus often not investigated or questioned.

actually there's a lot of research on consciousness happening lately.
it's a very hot topic right now in neuroscience, especially.

QUOTE
does there not exist the possibility of our current knowledge capable of being wrong?

of course.

but that's how science works.
you find the best possible answer... until the next best possible answer comes along, at which point everyone updates their textbooks.

the possibility of being wrong is always present.
and that's the beauty of science.

QUOTE
Curious I find is that there only exists one truth any individual can agree upon: our own existence of perception, thought, feelings, etc., our self - in a philosophical sense.

what's curious about that?
it seems to make perfect sense.

the only thing that is real in any given moment is what YOU can immediately experience.
technically speaking (or "in a philosophical sense"), everything that exists outside of your own head and body is questionable since you are not in control of it. it doesn't mean that everything is a figment of your imagination, but obviously you can only truly know yourself. we cannot truly know the other.

QUOTE
What I find even more curious is the difficulty in proving consciousness. In what ways can I prove that any one else is conscious in the way I perceive.

once again, you're right in the philosophical sense.

but this isn't a realistic concern.
a simple way to prove that consciousness is real - and that consciousness works in others the way it works in you - is to consider the Golden Rule. the Golden Rule says to treat others as you would like to be treated. so let's test the implication; if you smash your thumb with a hammer, does it hurt you? if you earn the attraction of a desirable woman, does it make you feel good?

now go and smash the thumb of another person. does it seem to hurt them?
go hang out with your best friend or your girl and do something fun. does the other person seem to be feeling joy and happiness?

if so, then consciousness must technically be real. especially if you recognize the change in their emotional state of mind.
consciousness must also exist outside of your own head. it seems to work for other people in the same way that you perceive it within yourself.

QUOTE
More importantly, what exactly is consciousness? Is it the abstract, mythic, ethereal entity produced by our brains? Is it a soul? What does consciousness have in relation to religious debate?


ok now we're getting somewhere.
this is the actual meat of the argument.

because we know what consciousness is functionally.
but we don't know what consciousness is literally.

as of right now, we have to conclude that it is merely an evolutionary response of the developed mammalian brain. but it's obviously not the same for every mammal.
humans have consciousness in the same way that cats and dogs have consciousness; they interact with other living things that they recognize. they can do this because they understand the changes in emotional and mental states. from happiness to sadness and in between.

so that's one level of consciousness.
being able to recognize other living things with a similar brain who are capable of feeling pleasure or suffering, and responding to these changes.

but there's clearly another level. humans are on the this second level.
we can't be sure how many other animals are with us, if any. because this is the level that goes one step further than being able to recognize emotions. it's the level where you begin to exert control over these emotions. lets take the simple example of household pets, like the dog.

while dogs are as conscious as humans, dogs are still slave to their animal instincts and carnal urges. they cannot really think for themselves.
when they need to sh*t, they need to sh*t right now. when they need to eat, they need to eat right now. if you don't get them fixed and they enter heat, they need to start humping something right now. if they get pissed off at another dog, they need to bark and howl and try to fight right now. they cannot control this aspect of their behavior. not like you and I can.

we don't have to find food the moment we're hungry.
we can hold our sh*t until we find a toilet (usually lol...).
we don't rape every woman we see just because we're horny.
we don't immediately murder or assault every person that makes us angry.

so.
what exactly separates level one from level two? why are most animals stuck on level one? how did humans achieve level two?
why are other animals stuck somewhere in between? think dolphins.
are there more levels? do higher levels correspond to higher dimensions?

maybe our "level two" consciousness is as much as we will ever know as long as we are stuck in the 4th dimension (length, width, depth, time).
maybe to experience higher levels of consciousness, you need to exist on a higher dimensional plane.

these are the questions that need to be addressed as we move forward.
hopefully a greater understanding of quantum mechanics, particle physics, and astronomy will one day reveal some incredible and shocking answers. I only wish I'll be alive to witness some of this knowledge, but I doubt it's going to come along anytime soon.

also, I don't think religion has anything to do with it. religion is useless in this discussion because religion is just magical ideas that we cannot really test. at least not yet. if someone wants to say that consciousness is a SOUL or that consciousness is ETERNAL or something, that's fine. they're allowed to think that. but there's nothing we can do with that. how do we test it? it's not falsifiable, and therefore it adds nothing to the discussion.

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#11

Posted 01 March 2013 - 09:24 AM

QUOTE (d0mm2k8 @ Friday, Mar 1 2013, 03:31)
Do you mean you've already subconsciously decided your reaction before acknowledging it consciously, or perhaps reflex arc reactions that don't require cognitive input?

That's basically what some studies have shown:


Edit: You can also watch this video if the subject interests you, or read Sam Harris' book with the same title.

It makes sense to me. You can't have decisions without prior causes, and a random process wouldn't make you responsible of these choices either.
There are no other ways to describe decisions from the physics point of view (which in my opinion is the most relevant).


I don't really see the big deal about consciousness. It is an amazing feature in humans, sure, but it was necessary for us to develop it. Apparently we mostly developed big brains with all their features for social interaction which in turn helped us survive very well. I don't think it's really that mysterious as we will probably find out in the near future.

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#12

Posted 01 March 2013 - 10:06 AM

Eeehhh, I rather stick with the story of woman and the snake. Snakes are awesome and so are naked women that play with them. Consciousness is nothing more than knowledge acquired from life experiences, DNA traits, light and animation. In other word, your a biological robot which only intent is to pursue opportunities and consume them.

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#13

Posted 23 March 2013 - 05:51 PM

The first problem with consciousness is the philosophical zombie- argument. The problem with proving others consciousness is that it becomes a logical fallacy because we have to use our own consciousness to prove others. It becomes a circular argument, similar to say ''I know aliens doesn't exist, because I have never seen oneconsciousness , but in this case: I know other people have consciousness because I experienced it through my own consciousness.

I am not a strong believer in the soul. I rather believe that consciousness is the effect of certain physical states in the brain. There is a problem to this, though.

According to the sense-datum theory, which is based on the argument from illusion theory, what we perceive is not always as it seems to be - for instance, we may see a person standing on the side of the road but at a closer look we realize it is not a person but a small tree. Conclusion according to this theory is that the external object (the tree) isn't an external object - it is something mental. This seems plausible: We thought that the tree was a person at first but later we realized that it wasn't, and it never really was a person, it was a tree all along even though we perceived it as a person.
Gilbert Harman made an example according to this old sense-datum theory:

Ponce De Lecon was searching for the ''Fountain of Youth''. However, this fountain does not exist and have never existed. So the conclusion Harman made out of the sense-datum theory was that Ponce was searching for something mental.

What this says, is that even though it didn't exist Ponce was still searching for it and with that said, there seems to be no relation between this experience (the fountain of youth) and the external physical reality.

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#14

Posted 29 March 2013 - 04:03 AM

What is consciousness, how do you really define it?

Consciousness and self-awareness to yourself could be completely different somebody else. It's like self preference. What if two people eat the exact same steak. What if one likes the taste and one hates it. What if neurons shape out perception of reality and what if things that WE see, are how they based on our neurons. What if chicken tastes different for each person?


QUOTE
Consciousness is nothing more than knowledge acquired from life experiences, DNA traits, light and animation.


Look deeper, consciousness happens from the moment we are born. Albeit, children are known to experience a form of amnesia. Perhaps consciousness is only one form of an ultimately higher function? Okay now we're stepping in spirituality and such which is not the way I wanna go. I believe consciousness is part of our ultimate function and is the basis of all interaction -duh- for without it, we wouldn't function as cells. Which is what we ultimately are, we are created, we duplicate - just like cells.

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#15

Posted 02 April 2013 - 08:12 AM

If you're a student of psychology I'm sure you will or have read about the experiment where a persons corpus collossum(?) was severed splitting the persons brain into two halves. Each half was able to make decisions and exert free will without the advice or consent of the other. Even more strange was the left side of the brain was prone to embellishment and lies when unable to explain actions carried out by the right side.

Consciousness is likely just a powerful delusion created by various parts of the brain working together all the time. All the parts of the brain that deal with emotion, memory, inhibition etc all play a part. There's even a supervisory function that's still completely dependent on other parts of the brain doing their thing effectively. So there is no specific part of the brain that deals with this. What room does this leave for a soul? None at all, its just an extension of that delusion because we don't like to see ourselves robots not possessing free will.

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#16

Posted 18 April 2013 - 09:04 PM

"Conciousness shapes reality". Dunno who said it. Think it might have been conferencereport on youtube. Always stuck with me.

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#17

Posted 27 May 2013 - 04:49 PM Edited by Narrow, 27 May 2013 - 04:51 PM.

I exist, therefore I am.

Just remember that existence itself is pointless, so by extension our understanding and interpretation of it is also pointless rendering this topic of discussion null and void.

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#18

Posted 27 May 2013 - 05:44 PM

QUOTE (Narrow @ Monday, May 27 2013, 17:49)
I exist, therefore I am.

Just remember that existence itself is pointless, so by extension our understanding and interpretation of it is also pointless rendering this topic of discussion null and void.

Ladies and gentlemen, a demonstration of how not to bump a topic in D&D.




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