The Mind as Illusion

Discussions on the philosophical foundations, assumptions, and implications of science, including the natural sciences.

The Mind as Illusion

Postby owleye on October 8th, 2013, 9:16 am 

The topic is within what is usually presented in philosophical taxonomy as the "Philosophy of the Mind" or the "Philosophy of Psychology". And I posted it within the Philosophy of Science section because I was less interested in the metaphysical aspects of the mind than with its connection to the brain. Which is to say that my topic is narrow -- even narrower than the title might suggest.

I'm going to begin by assuming the reader is familiar with the work of Benjamin Libet, which if the reader isn't, can be corrected by looking up this neuroscientist by way of Google. A wikipedia article or two can be helpful.

And, in conjunction with this, it may be helpful if the reader is familiar with a book called "The User Illusion" by Danish popular science writer, Tor Nørretranders, available online.

Secondly, I'm going to define consciousness as the property of species endowed with it of being sensed or being felt.

And, for the purposes of this topic, the mind is the repository of mental activities, activities that relate to categories of sensations or feelings.

The implication of this definition is that, first, consciousness provides a platform by which the subject (i.e., the individual creature, and in particular a human person), when conscious, sources its sensations and feelings to its having them.

Moreover, it is a feature of consciousness that such sensations or feelings are about something, usually something else, but could be self-directed (in humans, anyway). We often think of these as the objects or content of consciousness, or conscious experience.

But, at least in humans, there is another feature of the mind that will be the focus of the topic. And that is the mind, being an active thing, thinks of itself (the self or subject identified in conscious experience) as being in charge of the whole person, which includes not just mental activities but most of its physical faculties as well, though I don't wish to make this feature absolute, in a Sartrean sense. Presumably we can make ourselves move, for example, or at least make an effort to move ourselves.

Such a feature is attributed to so-called voluntary muscles, muscles that presumably you can control consciously.

There are many muscles in this category, some finely tunable, such as those that move the eye, or finger, and there are larger muscles that move the legs and arms. The one I wish to use to illustrate the point I have in mind is the muscle responsible for lifting a standing body by pushing up from the toes, or the area around the toes, in the extreme where ballerinas can stand on their toes, though I don't wish to get into details about this.

To say that we are able to do so voluntarily means, that, presumably when asked to do so, or if for some reason we "decide" to do so, we execute that task (are at least try to -- we normally are able to do this, even by the use of one foot -- the muscles that perform this task must be quite strong, considering the weight the area must bear).

The question is, in what sense is the mind in charge of that task. Clearly the task is performed by the brain, one in which, by way of signals sent to the specific muscles or muscle groupings synchronized to effect the movement. And that the decision to perform this task is made prior to our conscious awareness of having made the decision to perform this task (see the work by Libet, if in doubt about this). So, what is the mind doing?

Let me ignore all the mental activity associated with the feelings or sensations associated such activity excepting that which is associated with getting the movement to occur, i.e., the alleged ability of the mind to perform the task of standing on one's toes (or area around them). One might consider this the mind's effort in getting it to happen. The mind has the intention of lifting the body and puts in some effort to achieve it. When it occurs, we think it was due to that effort. We congratulate them and we take pride in our ability to perform that task, even if it was done by the brain and the mind appeared to have nothing to do with it at all. It seems to be more or less along for the ride, merely experiencing that it happened and that it was attributed to the mind's self -- its ego.

Note that in making the effort, the focus of our mind is on the area that is on the ground or floor, while the muscles themselves, in this case the calf muscles, are what is making the effort by contracting. The calf muscles are attached at the upper end to the lower leg bones, while at their lower end are attached to the achilles tendon, that in turn, when the muscles are contracted, lift the heel bone, anchored as it is by joint around the ball of the foot that keeps that portion of the foot on the ground and is left to support the body. As such, we are putting our effort in the wrong place, if you like.

In all this, one is struck by the vacuousness of what the mind is all about, such is the illusion of consciousness, as Libet and Norrienders would have it.

Is there some reason to think otherwise?

James
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Re: The Mind as Illusion

Postby DragonFly on October 8th, 2013, 2:32 pm 

owleye wrote:In all this, one is struck by the vacuousness of what the mind is all about, such is the illusion of consciousness, as Libet and Norrienders would have it.

Is there some reason to think otherwise?

James


No; 'mind' is a shorthand word that stands for the brain's doings, mainly the culmination of its analysis, which can be witnessed by itself as it perceives itself (what consciousness is), which we call observing what's come to 'mind', as 'experience'.

We are not privy to seeing the gears turning, so we might come to think that somehow the 'mind' does it all.

We are as tourists along for the ride, but the experience is fairly enjoyable.
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Re: The Mind as Illusion

Postby owleye on October 8th, 2013, 8:27 pm 

DragonFly wrote:
owleye wrote:In all this, one is struck by the vacuousness of what the mind is all about, such is the illusion of consciousness, as Libet and Norrienders would have it.

Is there some reason to think otherwise?

James


No; 'mind' is a shorthand word that stands for the brain's doings, mainly the culmination of its analysis, which can be witnessed by itself as it perceives itself (what consciousness is), which we call observing what's come to 'mind', as 'experience'.

We are not privy to seeing the gears turning, so we might come to think that somehow the 'mind' does it all.

We are as tourists along for the ride, but the experience is fairly enjoyable.


While there may be a connection between the mind and the brain, it's currently one of those mysteries that has yet to be solved, which I didn't have any intention of getting into in this topic.

In any case, when speaking about the mind, we cannot use the same language as we use when discussing the brain. For example, we can't say the brain sees anything, or feels anything. Indeed, the language we use in discussing the brain isn't from a first person standpoint as is the case with the mind. As a result, it is not really a good idea to say that the mind is a shorthand word that stands for the what the brain is doing. it's true that we might be able to identify certain activity of the brain that correlates with certain mental activity, e.g., in being able to predict what decision is going to be made or predicting what will become an expressed thought, but this is not the same thing as identifying what the brain is doing when we make a decision, or when we have a thought.

But what I was hoping was to stir my readers into taking on the issue of the mind being an illusion, one that doesn't really do anything at all. It seems to have no real function, whereby one might ask why it is even something we are endowed with. Being "fun" isn't adequate. Rather it tells me you are not taking the problem very seriously for a philosopher. Surely one would think that the mind, which we attribute to all sorts of things, for example, intelligence, has some benefit, especially in consideration that we are biological creatures that have evolved over the course of millions of years just to find that we have this "illusion."

Note that illusion isn't really the right word, and, personally, I wish another more descriptive term were available. However, the literature exists making use of it, so this is why I have it in the title.

James

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Re: The Mind as Illusion

Postby Rilx on October 9th, 2013, 6:19 am 

owleye wrote:But what I was hoping was to stir my readers into taking on the issue of the mind being an illusion, one that doesn't really do anything at all. It seems to have no real function, whereby one might ask why it is even something we are endowed with.

I think you have used too narrow definitions for 'mind' and 'consciousness'; for focusing this topic I guess. It's difficult to oppose conclusion without changing premises, so to say.

I comment by a computer example with corresponding elements: software - mind, hardware - body. The example is real, not a metaphor for mind/body.

A computer program is made for solving some problem. A programmer has a task, e.g. calculate the materials needed for a metal construction. She writes a program and compiles it to a machine code which a computer can run. Running the program makes the very same code perform two different tasks with no apparent connection: both run the electronic (and mechanical) processes of the computer hardware and calculate the construction materials.

So we can ask, is the programmer's task and its solution an illusion, because the computer is doing something else?

The code is definitely dualistic. The question is, what connects the parts, because there must be a connection. It's not difficult to explain when the question concerns computers. When the same question concerns mind and body the difficulty arises from premises, IMO, i.e. pointing to the difference between the hypothetical and the real mind.
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Re: The Mind as Illusion

Postby owleye on October 9th, 2013, 10:17 am 

Rilx wrote:
owleye wrote:But what I was hoping was to stir my readers into taking on the issue of the mind being an illusion, one that doesn't really do anything at all. It seems to have no real function, whereby one might ask why it is even something we are endowed with.

I think you have used too narrow definitions for 'mind' and 'consciousness'; for focusing this topic I guess. It's difficult to oppose conclusion without changing premises, so to say.

I comment by a computer example with corresponding elements: software - mind, hardware - body. The example is real, not a metaphor for mind/body.

A computer program is made for solving some problem. A programmer has a task, e.g. calculate the materials needed for a metal construction. She writes a program and compiles it to a machine code which a computer can run. Running the program makes the very same code perform two different tasks with no apparent connection: both run the electronic (and mechanical) processes of the computer hardware and calculate the construction materials.

So we can ask, is the programmer's task and its solution an illusion, because the computer is doing something else?

The code is definitely dualistic. The question is, what connects the parts, because there must be a connection. It's not difficult to explain when the question concerns computers. When the same question concerns mind and body the difficulty arises from premises, IMO, i.e. pointing to the difference between the hypothetical and the real mind.


Well, you're right that I had in mind a biological origin of the mind and of consciousness. And the issue I was addressing is its function in consideration of such an organ in that it seems rather empty when looked at closely. However, I wasn't entirely ruling out minds that have a different origin.

However, there are a couple of points I'd like to make respecting your computational model of a mind and its connection with computers in the form of software/hardware.

The first is of course that software in so far as it is abstracted from the hardware (i.e. its storage and communication media, or some computational engine) is a mental phenomenon. Many things are mental phenomenon, including laws concocted by the human mind. To the extent to which they exist, they exist as "types." The hardware pairing of types occur as tokens. We can readily count actual tokens, but their interpretations as types requires a mind that captures them in their abstraction in order to count them.

The computer hardware itself, then, doesn't recognize the tokens as types, and, as a result, doesn't recognize the '1's and '0's that the human mind recognizes. Indeed, recognition, if the computer can be said to recognize anything, is the recognition of tokens that we interpret as a '1' or a '0'. And programs, to a computer are a series of tokens passing through logic gates. The meaning given to them depends on how we have interpreted the tokens. One can say the same thing of the brain, though the circuitry is more complex.

Now, consider that a computational system is able to detect patterns, deemed to be something akin to types. Google, for example, has developed such software, as has the military. We might interpret this as saying that the computer detected search patterns used by individuals or patterns of movement by soldiers. Are we to assume then that the computer has a mind? Or would it be better to say that the computer is merely a tool we've invented that serves us by providing patterns we interpret as such, because we have minds capable of doing so?

And, we can keep adding more capability to a computer to make those discriminating features, because we, mindful of what we are extracting from the world, as information, inserting it into the software, but, even as computers are capable of learning from it by way of learning programs, is it the case that it is abstracting in the way the mind does, seeing as it is artificially imposed upon by its hardware and software to come up with its responses?

Maybe so, but at this point, I'm not yet ready to concede the territory to computers. I'm sure the A.I. people are fast at work attempting to create automatons that appear in all likelihood to have minds of their owns, but the question will be in the end, are these minds anything more than the hardware on which they are based? The same conclusion reached in the OP about the brain.

Now, despite all this, you have instigated a line of thinking about abstractions as a gateway to the function of the mind, whereby consciousness can be said to have that function. And this leads to the oft-expressed idea that we cannot think except to think in concepts, even if such concepts don't accurately classify what they purport to classify by their "typing." And to perceive is to perceive through concepts, by concepts derived from experience or built-in, such as concepts of 'up' and 'down'. It may be inseparable from the hardware on which and through which they exist and can be said to be reducible to it, but it may be the case that only conscious entities are capable of making use of them, and as a result, can come to have that as their biological success adaptation. Without consciousness, then, inventions and designs as they involve ideas of an abstract nature cannot arise with the slowness of natural selection. With consciousness, however, natural selection gives way on that score, though of course, since natural selection is based on nature (local reality -- i.e. its actual environment), it will remain an ongoing arbiter.

James
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Re: The Mind as Illusion

Postby BadgerJelly on October 9th, 2013, 1:06 pm 

It has been shown through multiple experiments that "we" (consciousness) assume and believe that we are achieving certain goals by making certain actions. We believe in a set strategy if it continues to work regardless of its actual affect.

Consciousness is basically a belief system (a system of delusion if you will).

I have BIG problems with your use of words. I class the whole mind as being consciousness/subconsciousness/unconsciousness. When it comes to asking questions about free will I find the biggest hurdle that needs to be jumped is language itself. When I am asleep I am not conscious but I still have a functioning and active mind. When the barriers between the conscious and unconscious mind are weakened something unique/dangerous/awesome happens.

I have been seriously struggling with this issue for some time and have made little headway in expressing something that much more than mere verbal language.

Basically the mind is completely "in charge" of its actions we are just not fully conscious of these actions. Conscious states are certainly a mere representation of deeper unconscious processes and there is certainly a back and forth relay. To what extent can the conscious mind alter unconscious actions? That is a question I avoid because it is saner to ask how this process takes place than to ask why it does and to what extent.

How can we conduct experimentation on this tricky subject that actually give us something useful to use in our quest of self understanding? I think the only way is to conduct a study involving an extremely large number of people and this is very difficult to manage as you can imagine ( I am talking hundreds of thousands or millions).

Sorry if I have not properly addressed the OP? I think I have.

To sum up I am saying that the consciousness mind is an illusion but it is still real. Is everything deterministic and humanity completely lacking in free will? No. Can I explain this? No. Do I want to? YES! Am I certain? I cannot answer ... maybe one day I will be able to.

Biochemical processes can be subdued by the mind. The old adage of "mind over matter" is extraordinarily accurate. I have no idea what the mind is but I do "know" that consciousness is a complex system of belief.

Belief is, in effect, a tapestry of illusions that form consciousness. Unconsciousness is what people often refer to as God through their conscious construct of illusions and our limited communicative capacity of language/s.
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Re: The Mind as Illusion

Postby DragonFly on October 9th, 2013, 1:36 pm 

The evolutionary benefit of consciousness/'mind' is to be able to hypothetically actionize scenarios and consequences before committing to the action. This form of consciousness extends to and into all the nerve spindles of the body.
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Re: The Mind as Illusion

Postby owleye on October 9th, 2013, 9:14 pm 

BadgerJelly wrote:I have BIG problems with your use of words. I class the whole mind as being consciousness/subconsciousness/unconsciousness. When it comes to asking questions about free will I find the biggest hurdle that needs to be jumped is language itself. When I am asleep I am not conscious but I still have a functioning and active mind. When the barriers between the conscious and unconscious mind are weakened something unique/dangerous/awesome happens.


Ok. I can accept the idea that the mind extends into areas we are not aware of. After all, the mind, while conscious, can't be aware of everything, so it's not unreasonable to downgrade awareness as a critical factor in the realm of mental activity. To satisfy you, then I'll restrict myself to mental activities while conscious.

BadgerJelly wrote:Basically the mind is completely "in charge" of its actions we are just not fully conscious of these actions.


I would only add "when it is", since at times we can be "under the influence", so to speak, and not all that in charge. Alos see below. But I take your point. The question I have relates to the role of the conscious mind.

Consider the following: I would question how someone that is not conscious can be said to be in charge of actions when there are no actions while we are not conscious. We seem to be lifeless when we are not conscious. Our body more or less shuts down.

Now, of course, there are states in which we are sleep walking. And there are also trances, possessions, speaking in tongues, hallucinations, and other states that need to be taken into consideration. However, it seems to me that being conscious is kind of a requirement for any real and deliberative action to take place. Yes, while conscious, there will be subconscious activity, and perhaps the "unconscious" as well, in a Freudian sense. However, it seems as if consciousness is a necessity. We more or less shut down when not conscious, though, of course, this might not limit mental activities in the way you think of them.

BadgerJelly wrote:Conscious states are certainly a mere representation of deeper unconscious processes and there is certainly a back and forth relay. To what extent can the conscious mind alter unconscious actions? That is a question I avoid because it is saner to ask how this process takes place than to ask why it does and to what extent.


I'm with you there, though questions remain. What is it about consciousness that makes it possible for us to act. Computers aren't so limited. Can you put your finger on what it is that consciousness provides?

BadgerJelly wrote:To sum up I am saying that the consciousness mind is an illusion but it is still real. Is everything deterministic and humanity completely lacking in free will? No. Can I explain this? No. Do I want to? YES! Am I certain? I cannot answer ... maybe one day I will be able to.

Biochemical processes can be subdued by the mind. The old adage of "mind over matter" is extraordinarily accurate. I have no idea what the mind is but I do "know" that consciousness is a complex system of belief.

Belief is, in effect, a tapestry of illusions that form consciousness. Unconsciousness is what people often refer to as God through their conscious construct of illusions and our limited communicative capacity of language/s.


Well, yes, I can see you've given this a fair amount of thought. I would hope, however, that you retain the possibility that something of value can be found in consciousness, and not write it off, as I think has been done by those who are calling it an illusion.

James
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Re: The Mind as Illusion

Postby owleye on October 9th, 2013, 9:34 pm 

DragonFly wrote:The evolutionary benefit of consciousness/'mind' is to be able to hypothetically actionize scenarios and consequences before committing to the action. This form of consciousness extends to and into all the nerve spindles of the body.


Well, yes, planning, as we understand it, is certainly a feature of the mind. We are able to try things out before we act. And indeed, there must be some deliberative sense in which we go about acting (the look before we leap idea), though this isn't necessarily all that goes into actions. We can act based on our experience with the situation at hand without giving it much thought. We can act emotionally, possibly because our emotions are a better guide. Or we can act out of fear or desire. Out of pain or pleasure. Out of reward or punishment, out of guilt, out of pride. From bias, from envy.

However, the real difficulty of what you are saying is that the brain actually puts into action decisions that are made prior to our own awareness that we've made that decision. This is the what the Libet experiments have shown. Note that what Libet means by the decision already being made is that the brain has come to a point in which the actions needed to carry out the decision have entered a "readiness" state. In order to perform some action (say lifting one's finger), the brain has to set in motion the nerve firings that are required for the muscles involved to appropriately contract, and it is this that is being measured within the brain. The brain (or I should say the lower brain) knows how to get the finger to lift, and it's only necessary to set this in motion to have the finger lifted. But it doesn't come from a command by the mind, so to speak. Rather the brain itself has made the decision and only later (in this case about a 1/2 second), the mind becomes aware of it, but, as Libet also showed, it does so by arranging the awareness in accordance with its perceptual timing so that the mind thinks it has decided that it made the decision. This is to say that there is a need to have the mind think it caused the finger to lift, so the brain arranges for the timing of the sequence of events as perceived to make it seem so.

James
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Re: The Mind as Illusion

Postby BadgerJelly on October 10th, 2013, 5:21 am 

We seem to be lifeless when we are not conscious. Our body more or less shuts down.


We more or less shut down when not conscious, though, of course, this might not limit mental activities in the way you think of them.


To the causal visual observer. Looks can be deceiving though. I certainly think the term "conscious awareness" better suits your questioning. Sorry if I sound like I am being pedantic.

Can you put your finger on what it is that consciousness provides?


This is the crux of the matter. I can only attempt to answer this in a vague manner by saying consciousness promotes variety. This is important for many reasons that I think are pretty obvious.

Well, yes, I can see you've given this a fair amount of thought. I would hope, however, that you retain the possibility that something of value can be found in consciousness, and not write it off, as I think has been done by those who are calling it an illusion.


If what I have said sounds like I am writing off consciousness then I have not communicated what I wished to. Obviously I get stuck on the word "value" but I get your gist. There is always "value" and the contrary nature of conscious representation of our perceived reality gives us something special (variety). Maybe it is just an illusion of variety ... that is neither here or there though because we develop a belief in variety and therefore develop actual variety in some form or another.

Just thought of a little something to add that maybe we could discuss more thoroughly?

Consciousness as the tool to focus of emotional content. This gives rise to passions and explorations that would not really happen if we were merely unconscious entities striking out in multiple directions without any serious conviction or belief. Again I cannot help but return to the power of belief in this respect.
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Re: The Mind as Illusion

Postby owleye on October 10th, 2013, 9:46 am 

BadgerJelly wrote:
Just thought of a little something to add that maybe we could discuss more thoroughly?

Consciousness as the tool to focus of emotional content. This gives rise to passions and explorations that would not really happen if we were merely unconscious entities striking out in multiple directions without any serious conviction or belief. Again I cannot help but return to the power of belief in this respect.


To give you something to think about, consider the expensive version of the Roomba, the vacuum cleaner that cleans a room with minimal human intervention, a robot. See this article. Ignoring its effectiveness for the moment, it does seem to act on the basis of some purpose, though of course we are anthropomorphizing when we do so. The point, however, is that it doesn't need consciousness to perform the task it was designed to do, and it is able to handle rooms of different sizes, with different obstacles placed within it, and the like. It's "belief system", absent consciousness, has it that it can clean a room (or perform the acts that we interpret as cleaning the room) given the ability to determine how long it will take to clean it.

So, the question I have is what sort of thing is a belief and what makes it associated with consciousness, at least in the way you would have it?

James
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Re: The Mind as Illusion

Postby DragonFly on October 10th, 2013, 3:12 pm 

owleye wrote:… Rather the brain itself has made the decision and only later (in this case about a 1/2 second), the mind becomes aware of it, but, as Libet also showed, it does so by arranging the awareness in accordance with its perceptual timing so that the mind thinks it has decided that it made the decision. This is to say that there is a need to have the mind think it caused the finger to lift, so the brain arranges for the timing of the sequence of events as perceived to make it seem so.

James


Yes, this is the clincher that cannot be gotten around… The subconscious brain analysis takes time, so there is always a lag unto the witnessing of the 'instant' result, a kind of hidden tape-delay.

Libet thought we might have a "free won't" instead, as we can veto the decision, but this, too, relies on the same kind of brain analysis.
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Re: The Mind as Illusion

Postby owleye on October 10th, 2013, 6:18 pm 

DragonFly wrote:
Yes, this is the clincher that cannot be gotten around… The subconscious brain analysis takes time, so there is always a lag unto the witnessing of the 'instant' result, a kind of hidden tape-delay.

Libet thought we might have a "free won't" instead, as we can veto the decision, but this, too, relies on the same kind of brain analysis.



Quite so, though I think if we are wishing to discuss free-will within this topic, which I'm not overly fond of doing, the concept of having a check on a decision that is part way into its performance is a viable way of handling the idea, even if there are certain timing issues. As I've argued on other topics, free-will ought not to be thought of as fixed in time by some decision making process, and can, if extended into the future should be temporally regarded. One cannot go back in time to recreate what went on, so as to say I could have actually made a different decision, which is supposed to be part of what accounts for free-will, but one can at least play it out in our imagination and presume that we could have done so if our mind was better equipped to tackle the decision.

James
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Re: The Mind as Illusion

Postby BadgerJelly on October 11th, 2013, 6:58 am 

Owleye -

So, the question I have is what sort of thing is a belief and what makes it associated with consciousness, at least in the way you would have it?


Please bare with me. I'll try my best.

I think this is like saying what is money in relation to economics. Here I would say, in a vague sense, that money is a language of economics. To apply this pattern of thinking to your question I would say that belief is a language of consciousness, and that emotions are the language of belief.

I feel it is best to use my own terminology here to help explain my view of consciousness. I do not expect you to agree with it but I do ask that you go with the language I choose to use (or show me your translation into your terminology).

Machines are "inactively conscious" and humans are "actively conscious".

The difference between inactive consciousness and active consciousness is fairly simple. Actively conscious entities have the ability to question and form beliefs of anomalous events. Where as inactively conscious entities do not.

This can also help in our understanding of the unconscious mind by relating it to being inactively conscious and consciousness as active consciousness. With these thoughts in mind belief can be approached in respect to the conscious mind and unconscious mind. Belief is the outcome of emotional filtering.

All emotions spill forth from our primitive neurological make up and through evolutionary patterns a filter is formed that shapes the conscious registration of internal emotional content. Certain emotions give us survival benefits in given environments. The conjunction of emotional forms gives rise to consciousness and the development of a progressively increasing cybernetic system and from this process consciousness sprouts with a flourishing of belief which is the active communication from set emotional states (borderline inactive consciousness) to the development of altered emotional states.

Through this system of consciousness we have developed something we call "knowing". I know the leaves on the trees are green and I know if I alter my breathing I will become more relaxed or more anxious. The colour green has emotional content as does the form of the word itself (less obvious). In this sense all labels are emotional tags and this "narrative" (if you see?) is the repercussion of belief.

Where does this leave me with the OP?

Personally I prefer to consider the how of things and leave it to my unconscious mind to filter through what it deems appropriate for what ever reason it deems it appropriate and then I will continue to ask how from the emotional path I am pointed towards.

My experiences of reality is the culmination of a magnificent, primarily, emotionally driven construct of belief that I have influence over and has influence over me. Why? I don't want to ask. How? That is what I prefer to ask and that is what drives me and that is what I believe to be correct. I remain open to change though (or like to believe I do).

It scare me to think that consciousness is an illusion because I am egotistical like everyone else. I choose to be excited by other possibilities and this is the gift of belief and its benefits in using fear of the unknown to progress towards a positive outlook on existence regardless of actuality.

Scientific method is a beautiful construct of the human mind. I do not forget this and neither do I obsess over it as the be all and end all of human existence. There are other methods of knowing and they all seem to give and take.

Sorry if I sound a little preachy here but I am just trying to illustrate my views on belief in relation to the human mind because it is innate in all of us and scientific method exists because of belief not in spite of it.
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Re: The Mind as Illusion

Postby owleye on October 11th, 2013, 6:22 pm 

BadgerJelly wrote:
Machines are "inactively conscious" and humans are "actively conscious".

The difference between inactive consciousness and active consciousness is fairly simple. Actively conscious entities have the ability to question and form beliefs of anomalous events. Where as inactively conscious entities do not.


So you think machines are conscious, even the Roomba. Apparently you were not impressed with my representation of such a machine's "belief system" as anthropomorphizing.

Perhaps I should have used a simpler example, such as a thermos. Thermos bottles have the feature that they keep cold things cold and hot things hot. Is the thermos bottle endowed with consciousness?

Note that in the usual sense of the word consciousness, we often represent it as awareness. Check any dictionary. So, using this definition in this case, the thermos bottle would feel how hot or cool it is. And in the case of the Roomba it would see the furniture in the room not just detect its presence.

But you reject this idea of consciousness, instead, relying on a nonstandard definition which is based beliefs. And you add that such beliefs are based on emotions. Feelings and sensations aren't part of the discussion.

BadgerJelly wrote:Where does this leave me with the OP?

Personally I prefer to consider the how of things and leave it to my unconscious mind to filter through what it deems appropriate for what ever reason it deems it appropriate and then I will continue to ask how from the emotional path I am pointed towards.

My experiences of reality is the culmination of a magnificent, primarily, emotionally driven construct of belief that I have influence over and has influence over me. Why? I don't want to ask. How? That is what I prefer to ask and that is what drives me and that is what I believe to be correct. I remain open to change though (or like to believe I do).


Well, I wish you luck with this, but because you use some non-standard idea of what consciousness means, I'm afraid any conclusion you reach isn't going to be understood by those who do use the standard definition.

BTW, my representation of consciousness as "being felt" or "being sense" is not something I dreamed up on my own. (And one should note that it is compatible with awareness, since being aware is the characteristic of being sensed or being felt.) I'm generally following in a long line of thinkers who regard the property in just this way. In its modern sense, I'm following in the line of thinkers like James and Whitehead, though I was impressed with the treatment given by a person whose name I can't remember right now, though I've mentioned her on this board a few years back when I was reading her book. In old age, my memory, especially for names, is regrettably poor. Perhaps I'll think of it before I close out this topic.

James
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Re: The Mind as Illusion

Postby BadgerJelly on October 12th, 2013, 1:27 am 

So you think machines are conscious, even the Roomba.


Come on! I said nothing of the sort. I made it quite clear I was using the terms I used to explain my view on this matter.

I feel it is best to use my own terminology here to help explain my view of consciousness. I do not expect you to agree with it but I do ask that you go with the language I choose to use (or show me your translation into your terminology).

Machines are "inactively conscious" and humans are "actively conscious".

The difference between inactive consciousness and active consciousness is fairly simple. Actively conscious entities have the ability to question and form beliefs of anomalous events. Where as inactively conscious entities do not.


I DO NOT think machines are conscious in the common sense of the word and I never said that. I was merely defining the borders of these terms to explain what I meant. This thread is about "the illusion of consciousness" after all, and I was trying to show that consciousness is more than a sum of mechanical parts and gives us the ability to tackle problems that cannot be tackled by simplistic mechanisms.

Well, I wish you luck with this, but because you use some non-standard idea of what consciousness means, I'm afraid any conclusion you reach isn't going to be understood by those who do use the standard definition.


I didn't! I used new terms "inactive consciousness" and "active consciousness" merely to emphasis that there is no given line between the two. Consciousness does not just appear it is a nascent entity as is everything I can think of.

All I was trying to do was show how I believe consciousness has developed. If you didn't get the gist of it I am saying I firmly believe consciousness to be the amalgamation of emotional content.

Apparently you were not impressed with my representation of such a machine's "belief system" as anthropomorphizing.


It doesn't have a belief system because it cannot recognise and deal with anomalous events. Belief allows this, nothing else. I tried my best to explain the importance I associate with belief and how it relates to consciousness. Either you've failed to read it correctly or I have failed to write it properly :(

No metaphysics nor abstract thinking here. Everything we sense has a potential conscious emotional impact. I believe that everything does have an emotional impact unconsciously but that is just an assumption I make due to my limited knowledge of neurology.
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Re: The Mind as Illusion

Postby owleye on October 12th, 2013, 8:24 am 

BadgerJelly wrote:
So you think machines are conscious, even the Roomba.


Come on! I said nothing of the sort. I made it quite clear I was using the terms I used to explain my view on this matter.

BadgerJelly wrote:
I feel it is best to use my own terminology here to help explain my view of consciousness. I do not expect you to agree with it but I do ask that you go with the language I choose to use (or show me your translation into your terminology).

Machines are "inactively conscious" and humans are "actively conscious".

The difference between inactive consciousness and active consciousness is fairly simple. Actively conscious entities have the ability to question and form beliefs of anomalous events. Where as inactively conscious entities do not.


I DO NOT think machines are conscious in the common sense of the word and I never said that. I was merely defining the borders of these terms to explain what I meant. This thread is about "the illusion of consciousness" after all, and I was trying to show that consciousness is more than a sum of mechanical parts and gives us the ability to tackle problems that cannot be tackled by simplistic mechanisms.


Well, I was repeating your words. It appears you are offended by my doing so. It's ok for you to use them because you know what you mean. I am not allowed to use those words because they would be thought to mean something else. This only emphasizes the next quote you cite from me.

BadgerJelly wrote:
Well, I wish you luck with this, but because you use some non-standard idea of what consciousness means, I'm afraid any conclusion you reach isn't going to be understood by those who do use the standard definition.


I didn't! I used new terms "inactive consciousness" and "active consciousness" merely to emphasis that there is no given line between the two. Consciousness does not just appear it is a nascent entity as is everything I can think of.

All I was trying to do was show how I believe consciousness has developed. If you didn't get the gist of it I am saying I firmly believe consciousness to be the amalgamation of emotional content.


I'm afraid I don't see the relevance of your explanation. You mean something different by 'consciousness' than what you call the "common" meaning of it. If you draw some conclusion about consciousness, it's not going to be helpful to anyone who uses the "common" definition. That's my entire point in wishing you luck with your approach.

James
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Re: The Mind as Illusion

Postby BadgerJelly on October 12th, 2013, 11:19 am 

Offended? No. Frustrated? Certainly.

I spent the better part of the day thinking about how to explain to you why I put so much weight on belief in relation to consciousness. Maybe I tried to say too much in too little space. What I posted here is about a third of what I wrote. I did try to make it comprehensible to someone other than myself.

I'll keep trying. Thank you for your comments. I can see I need to really pick my words more carefully. Not quite sure what to say instead of "active consciousness" and "inactive consciousness" but I can see now I could have done much better.

If I had simple said machines do not diverge from set patterns whilst humans do, then it may have made much more sense where I was leading to regarding belief and consciousness.

If you draw some conclusion about consciousness, it's not going to be helpful to anyone who uses the "common" definition.


This is what I am avoiding. This is what I meant when I talked about WHY and HOW. I have no desire to explain why consciousness is, or for that matter exactly what it is. The concept is ambiguous to say the least and no one seems to be able to give a clear definition because it is not something that can be experimentally observed and considered (meaning we cannot say there is a point where consciousness comes into being).

What makes brain functioning (the mind/psyche) difficult to deal with is its emotional content. This is pretty clear to me and therefore emotional content must have something to say. Therein lies the problem because pure scientific empirical methodology can only scratch at the surface. To explore the depths of the mind is always going to be a personal thing.

It seems to me that psychology is theoretical neurology. Mathematics is still important but it is more about aesthetics. Mathematical rules exist in a realm unto themselves and can be applied to our perceived reality. But this is not always the case. Just because math works to explain such and such does not mean that math is the complete law/language of nature.

If the puzzle of consciousness is to be dealt with properly I see no other way than to make up a completely new terminology. This is going to isolate many people though and I understand that.

Anyway to back track to the OP ...

Is there some reason to think otherwise?


Should there need to be? Isn't there always? Does reason hold complete authority over human actions?

I do not know but I enjoy pretending to through the power of belief. And this thing I call belief is entwined with, or of, emotion. Feelings cannot be ignored by reason only labelled. If consciousness is in anyway shape or form an illusion then it is purely because of this.
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Re: The Mind as Illusion

Postby owleye on October 12th, 2013, 8:36 pm 

BadgerJelly wrote:
If I had simple said machines do not diverge from set patterns whilst humans do, then it may have made much more sense where I was leading to regarding belief and consciousness.


I think you are underestimating machines. You may recall the machine that entered the Jeopardy challenge. Such a machine learns things by reading lots of stuff that you and I might learn from by reading them. Enough so that it successfully found the right response better than almost everyone it faced.

BadgerJelly wrote:This is what I am avoiding. This is what I meant when I talked about WHY and HOW. I have no desire to explain why consciousness is, or for that matter exactly what it is. The concept is ambiguous to say the least and no one seems to be able to give a clear definition because it is not something that can be experimentally observed and considered (meaning we cannot say there is a point where consciousness comes into being).


I'm afraid you've lost me completely. I think you are misrepresenting what dictionaries purport to be doing. Essentially dictionaries are reporting how a term is used by speakers of the language. The definitions provided by the dictionary are limited to that. We may not know what consciousness is. Indeed it is rather a mystery. The ancients referred to it as the soul. The question is, are you referring to the same thing that speakers of English refer to or not? I'm having a devil of a time figuring out the answer to this.

You are fixated on 'beliefs, for reasons that are obscure to me, but apparently they are significant to you. I don't understand where you are going with this, so I'm thinking that you mean something else by the word 'consciousness' than what is ordinarily meant by the term. But maybe not. Ok. You are focussed on the "how" of consciousness. So naturally I would think you are going to tell us how consciousness works. But you don't really do this. Instead you refer to beliefs, which can be thought of as a disposition to act, or a holding to be true. And given this, I'm afraid I don't see the relevance to the how of consciousness, at least as I ordinarily understand the term.

And then you speak of active and inactive consciousness, which sounds to me like consciousness is capable of acting or being inactive, though when you explain this you fall back on beliefs being active or inactive, which tells me you aren't using the term consciousness in the way it is ordinarily used.

BadgerJelly wrote:What makes brain functioning (the mind/psyche) difficult to deal with is its emotional content. This is pretty clear to me and therefore emotional content must have something to say. Therein lies the problem because pure scientific empirical methodology can only scratch at the surface. To explore the depths of the mind is always going to be a personal thing.


I doubt this very much. Both psychology and neuroscience has had much to say about emotions. Perhaps what you are referring to is the "first person" aspect of consciousness, something not (at least obviously) available to empirical determination. However, the way in which these sciences have advanced our understanding is through research with human subjects. Indeed, the Libet experiments are a case in point.

BadgerJelly wrote:If the puzzle of consciousness is to be dealt with properly I see no other way than to make up a completely new terminology. This is going to isolate many people though and I understand that.


Not a problem. I think it's proper that you should do so. However, what philosophers do is to make distinctions that make a difference. If, for example, consciousness (in the sense of its use as awareness) is too broad a term, one might divide it up in different ways. In my definition, I referred to two concepts of sensing and feeling, and I could have elaborated on how I wanted to distinguish them. However, there are other ways, for example, awareness and attentiveness, the latter also called "mindfulness." There is also Inner awareness and outer awareness. There is the subjective and the objective. There is the form and the content of consciousness. Indeed, phenomenologists have come up with all sorts of states of consciousness. Husserl in particular thought of what he was doing was investigating consciousness scientifically.

When you speak of beliefs, however, I can't help but think you aren't really speaking about consciousness, but something else entirely.

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Re: The Mind as Illusion

Postby Obvious Leo on October 13th, 2013, 1:45 am 

I've been watching this conversation with interest. I'm quite happy to accept that mind, or consciousness, is simply an emergent consequence of neuronal complexity. The greater the complexity, the deeper the consciousness. I simply accept it for what it appears to be and it bothers me not at all that neuroscience has yet to work out exactly how this works. I'd be rather surprised if they solved this riddle within the next ten thousand years, or ever, for that matter.

We actually know very little about how emergence works. Why does water have the physical properties it does? We know the two simple ingredients needed to make it but we don't even really know why H and O should have the properties they do, let alone how a combination of these elements should create a molecule with a vast suite of totally different properties. In truth we just tend to say Well, it just does, that's the way nature works. The same could be said for any molecules, especially the more complex molecules of organic life.

Since a mind is a vastly more complex construct than a water molecule I'm happy enough to adopt the same position. Emergence seems to be a fundamental self-organisational principle of reality. It may offer us no answers and no end of further questions but maybe that's all there is to it. It's just the way it is. Informational complexity is emergent. I'm sure many of its secrets will one day be unravelled but we don't know anywhere near as much as we like to think we know about the simplest stuff our world is made of.

We might be getting a bit ahead of ourselves by assuming we should be able to figure out how a mind works. For the moment It Just Does will have to do, I suspect.

More of a tangential observation than a specific response to the OP.

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Re: The Mind as Illusion

Postby BadgerJelly on October 13th, 2013, 2:04 am 

Thank you very much for your time and comments. They have been very helpful in determining where I need to focus.
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Re: The Mind as Illusion

Postby BadgerJelly on October 24th, 2013, 2:44 pm 

Back again!

owleye -

May as well post here. You asked elsewhere about the evolutionary advantage of consciousness and how I see that belief relates to consciousness.

In the simplest terms I can possibly think, and trying not to go as deep as I want to into this, I see it like this. Our mind is full of unconscious processes. The base principles of the minds functioning is to keep us in a state of "well being" (like a cell's homeostasis). These safety requirements to sustain life (eating, sleeping, breeding, communicating/interacting etc.) are limited. Certain risks would never be carried out purposefully by an unconscious, minimal risk mind set. Consciousness allows us to risk where unconscious functioning would not, to believe where unconscious functioning would not, and most importantly, to achieve where unconscious functioning would not. Of course unconscious functioning could "accidentally" stumble on certain achievements due to happenstance but it lacks the carelessness to push on so conscious functions improve its range through systems of conscious belief. It is a scientific fact that we are "overly optimistic" to the point where it has been referred to as a sickness. The amount of deceptions the conscious mind is susceptible to is pretty shocking. Once you consider the benefits, as I have stated, it does start to become clear not only how why consciousness is so gullible and through neurology/psychology you can see how this is happening.
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Re: The Mind as Illusion

Postby owleye on October 24th, 2013, 6:34 pm 

It's not clear to me that you have shown how consciousness gives any advantage. What do you mean by "allowing risk"? Your characterization of the unconscious as "stumbling" suggests that being unconscious is actually risky, indeed more risky than being conscious. When conscious we are able to perceive some sort of world, which, if in perceiving it, we can be assured of its fidelity to the actual world, the risk is lessened. However, the reason for asking the question about the advantage of consciousness is that machines can be built to interact with the world by receiving information about the world by means of sensors, navigating it without fear. All this without the need for consciousness. When the Roomba maps out the room, with the furniture in it, it uses that information to navigate it. And it can do this without having the ability to "see" what's out there, like we do. As such, we should ask the question why does the brain shut down its ability to take in information from the world just because it apparently needs to be able to perceive it?

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Re: The Mind as Illusion

Postby BadgerJelly on October 24th, 2013, 11:28 pm 

As such, we should ask the question why does the brain shut down its ability to take in information from the world just because it apparently needs to be able to perceive it?


I do not understand this question or what it is referring to? Do you mean consciousness shuts down it's ability to take in information? The brain doesn't. Are you referring to the robot?It doesn't possess a brain, it is an automated device.

I feel you are trying to steer me towards the idea of AI. To be honest I am nowhere near versed enough on that subject to give anything that makes sense.

I think you may be misunderstanding my use of "unconscious". I am referring to the conscious and unconscious mind. Both are "aware" of the external world. The difference is that consciousness is limited in its capacity. Why? Not completely sure. It is probably for several reasons, with resource management at the heart of the issue. As far as I know there is little to no idea to back this up. Either way it is unimportant for the moment it what I want to say.

It's not clear to me that you have shown how consciousness gives any advantage. What do you mean by "allowing risk"? Your characterization of the unconscious as "stumbling" suggests that being unconscious is actually risky, indeed more risky than being conscious. When conscious we are able to perceive some sort of world, which, if in perceiving it, we can be assured of its fidelity to the actual world, the risk is lessened.


The point is that with conscious hindsight it appears that the conscious mind (I want to make it clear I am talking about the conscious mind and the unconscious mind, NOT conscious and unconscious states). It is a case of saying "they didn't know any better". That is what the unconscious mind is like, it simply doesn't know any better. It is run by instinctual, primal, drives to sustain homeostasis within its set boundaries (respiration, sleep, reproduction etc.). This is what I am referring to as "safety mechanisms". They are in build to allow life to continue.

The unconscious mind figures out mathematically the best way to sustain itself (think of the pigeon that develop ticks because it "believes" it is more likely to get food this way). The problem is that sometimes false mathematical models are taken on by the unconscious mind due to the low amount of data received (as with the pigeon experiment - I guess you are familiar with this?). The mathematical models that actual work well will persist and become more refined. Obviously though, many mathematical models will be used that are detrimental to the overall "homeostasis" of the life form not just beneficial ones, due to natural selection. This is the "risk factor" of unconscious processing.

What consciousness allows is an expansion beyond these limitations. It allows the bypassing of the set mathematical models of the unconscious mind to develop better models. The problem is the "risk factor" is increased but the benefit is an increased possibility of possibilities (exploration and invention). In a very, very simple respect you could refer to the unconscious mind as a "computer" and consciousness as its operator, feeding in different "programs" in the form of expanded experience and cognitive processing. I think this would be an exponential expansion (Just a hypothesis).

Coming back to a previous point. We are "overly optimistic" and that is a scientific fact. I think this is a repercussion of conscious processing that has arisen from a more rigid unconscious mind set. There are many neurological and psychological studies that show how easily "fooled" the conscious mind is. Many processes that we carry out are fully "understood" by the unconscious mind yet the conscious mind comes up with beliefs that are irrelevant. This is of great benefit because if it was simply left to unconscious awareness we'd never move outside of set parameters that we know work perfectly well. The power of the illusion (belief) is that it allows us to move beyond set safety parameters and increases the chance of us finding better solutions to problems that we already deemed as solved (I am using "we" as in the complete mind, conscious/unconscious).

It is much like the old adage. "If it works don't fix it!", this is the unconscious minds view. The conscious mind view, on the other hand, is more about the "What if?" or "Is the grass greener?". As a quick aside, to me this also explains the limitations reined in on conscious behaviour and the many different psychological states when these reins are tightened or loosened. People with loosened reins are more susceptible to illusion. This is because, as I see it, the conscious mind has dipped too deeply into the unconscious mind causing a heightened sense of belief. There is a fine line that needs to be balanced.

So what? You may ask. So what if the conscious mind can believe something the unconscious mind cannot? There is an HUGE benefit to this. If you tell someone they are intelligent and make them believe that they are they will perform better. The confidence factor "scope for illusion" allows the complete human being to achieve what seems impossible regardless of the number of failed attempts to the detriment of the basic homeostatic needs that sustain life.

Not very well written I know, but I hope you grasp my idea?
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Re: The Mind as Illusion

Postby owleye on October 25th, 2013, 9:31 am 

BadgerJelly wrote:
As such, we should ask the question why does the brain shut down its ability to take in information from the world just because it apparently needs to be able to perceive it?


I do not understand this question or what it is referring to? Do you mean consciousness shuts down it's ability to take in information? The brain doesn't. Are you referring to the robot?It doesn't possess a brain, it is an automated device.


No. What I'm saying isn't that consciousness shuts it down, but the brain apparently shuts down the gathering of information from the senses when consciousness is shut down. For some reason being conscious is a necessary feature to humans in order for information to be gathered by the sensory organs. Well, this isn't entirely correct. There have been experiments in which information gathered by one eye is appropriately handled by the brain without it thereby rising to level of seeing it (it being blocked by the other eye's visual field), and it is the other eye which the brain selects whose field we become aware of. In any case, in the main, though it is conceivable that we don't need to be conscious in order to act in the way humans can be said to act, it seems that there is a biological need for consciousness. It must actually have some value to humans. And even though this is at present unexplained (biologically), surely it is something in need of an explanation, and can't be avoided just because of its conceivability.

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Re: The Mind as Illusion

Postby BadgerJelly on October 25th, 2013, 1:28 pm 

It must actually have some value to humans.


I think I covered that. Well it is merely a theory but it appears to be the case from my perspective. I am still studying hard and looking for things to counter my ideas, but as yet there is little resistance (but that is to be expected from a mind full of delusions! I am only human after all).

I feel my idea works not just for conscious animals, but is more obvious in relation to self-consciousness. Self-consciousness actually gives a greater emphasis on the whole conscious process.

As we have touched on, one of the biggest hurdles in neurology is trying to marry third person data with first person data. Psychology has done a hell of a lot of footwork in this area and it may be a long road, or even an impossible road, to do this using traditional scientific methodology. I am skeptical, yet hopeful. This is because I am human. That is my point about the ability of human "belief" married with scientific know how.

As for having to be conscious for the brain to gather information? I am just not on board with that. There are just too many discrepancies in me understanding to back this idea up. I think many people have dreams that relate to auditory input. Obviously your eyes are closed so sight is not to the fore. If we are talking about a coma, or maybe a chemically induced state, I can imagine that most processes are inverted to deal with whatever needs to be dealt with. I am just not one for the idea of an on/off switch. The more I look the less black and white the world appears to be.

Do you have any ideas yourself why consciousness, and/or self-consciousness, is advantageous to humans? I am sorry if my ideas are not clear enough yet for you to see them. "Belief" is the benefit of consciousness, or as some people call it "knowing". The concept of both terms are essentially the same.

I think the more we learn about language, neurologically, the more we'll begin to understand the basic "mechanisms" of consciousness.
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Re: The Mind as Illusion

Postby owleye on October 25th, 2013, 8:09 pm 

BadgerJelly wrote:As for having to be conscious for the brain to gather information? I am just not on board with that. There are just too many discrepancies in me understanding to back this idea up. I think many people have dreams that relate to auditory input. Obviously your eyes are closed so sight is not to the fore. If we are talking about a coma, or maybe a chemically induced state, I can imagine that most processes are inverted to deal with whatever needs to be dealt with. I am just not one for the idea of an on/off switch. The more I look the less black and white the world appears to be.


What do you mean by "not being on-board" with this. Are you suggesting that consciousness, which provides the power of seeing, is essentially superfluous in having that function? That seeing has no real value?

In addition, dreaming is a state of consciousness The difference is that sensory information about the world external to it, is cut off, as well as other bodily motions, though as it happens, information, probably from memory, winds up making use of much of the same circuitry used when the sense organs are open to the world. The rapid eye movement characteristic of dreaming is actually mimicking what is needed to feed to the brain in order that the dream will be driven by information from the eyes even though the eyes are closed as you say. Indeed, much of our bodily movements are shutdown, though one might imagine that the control over this isn't perfect and we might even lash out, like dogs do, if the dream is intense. Note that dreaming takes place at the end of a sleep cycle, one that begins by going into a deep sleep and ends by returning to a near-waking state, at the end of which it returns once again to a deep sleep. This occurs several times during the night for most people. For old folks such as me who have difficulty with bladder problems, instead of entering a near-wakeful state, I wind up being awakened by the need to pee. As such, I can't say as I actually dream all that much, though I will say that when in fact I find myself awake, I wake seemingly having realized that an internal conversation had been taking place within me -- which is to say that whatever was going on subconsciously, I awaken to and the train of thought seems to be one that I'm now aware of.

And of course there is the possibility of sleepwalking. I don't have enough knowledge about this to know the state that one is in, but I suspect it is probably a sleep state that at least borders on consciousness.

BadgerJelly wrote:Do you have any ideas yourself why consciousness, and/or self-consciousness, is advantageous to humans?


Not really. I've speculated that consciousness emphasizes the role that the brain has in bringing the world under its control. I.e., consciousness extends the organism out into the world itself, extending it beyond the boundary of the body. (Note that this idea may align with your notion of "belief", but I would characterize differently than you do.) And at times I've called consciousness a kind of alter-ego. And in making use of one idea I've heard -- namely the idea of two-brains, one (the conscious one) monitoring the other one, it allows us to have a conscience, so to speak, to realize that we err or that we've done wrong. However, these ideas are not well-thought out.

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Re: The Mind as Illusion

Postby BadgerJelly on October 26th, 2013, 5:13 am 

What do you mean by "not being on-board" with this. Are you suggesting that consciousness, which provides the power of seeing, is essentially superfluous in having that function? That seeing has no real value?


You said that the brain doesn't gather sensory information unless it is conscious. I cannot agree with that. The brain stops gathering information only when the brain is dead, or physically cut off from the sensory organs. There is a huge stream of information being passed through the brain that consciousness has nothing to do with. I think we're just getting our wires crossed here with the terminology though? Generally people do not refer to being conscious when they are asleep. Also an alarm will wake you because your senses are still functioning.

No one really understands dreams. They occur at a variety of sleep states. I am not sure if many people would refer to hypnogogic states as dreaming, but there are many similarities. There is more data on dreams from a psychological point of view than from a neurological point of view.

Sleeping and dreaming are as elusive as consciousness itself. New data does point towards one function of sleep being to "flush out" the brain with cerebrospinal fluid, which is pretty interesting.

Not really. I've speculated that consciousness emphasizes the role that the brain has in bringing the world under its control. I.e., consciousness extends the organism out into the world itself, extending it beyond the boundary of the body. (Note that this idea may align with your notion of "belief", but I would characterize differently than you do.) And at times I've called consciousness a kind of alter-ego. And in making use of one idea I've heard -- namely the idea of two-brains, one (the conscious one) monitoring the other one, it allows us to have a conscience, so to speak, to realize that we err or that we've done wrong. However, these ideas are not well-thought out.


My own ideas have many questions that need answering. Some of them I can but most I can only guess at for the moment. There is just so much more for me to study yet in order to see what I can do with my ideas, or whether I need to put them to one side in favour of another. For the first time in my life I can actually use all of my passion mostly in one area of study. I am thankful for that :)

Have you read much about "inhibition of return"? In relation to consciousness I think there is something there of great use to opening up this mystery a little more. It does relate to what I call "belief"/"knowing", in reference to attention.
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Re: The Mind as Illusion

Postby owleye on October 31st, 2013, 9:57 pm 

BadgerJelly wrote:
You said that the brain doesn't gather sensory information unless it is conscious. I cannot agree with that. The brain stops gathering information only when the brain is dead, or physically cut off from the sensory organs. There is a huge stream of information being passed through the brain that consciousness has nothing to do with.


Really? Well, I wish you well with this rather fantastic idea and no longer feel compelled to address what you have to say. I would agree that certain organs, for example, the ear, aren't completely shut down, and that we can be awakened through physical contact, but when in a dreamless sleep or in a coma, or under a general anesthetic, I'm pretty sure that we're not receiving information from the world through our senses in the way we are when awake. There may be some leakage, especially if we aren't completely "knocked out", some of which might take the form of allowing us to notice what's going on, but, in general, it's much more likely that we've missed out on what went on when we've slept through it. The conversation that goes something like the following: "Did you hear about such and such that occurred last night?" "No, I didn't. I slept right through it." isn't exactly an uncommon conversation.

However, you apparently see things quite differently, so I'm unable to follow what you have to say. Apparently for you, "sleeping right through it" can't be the reason for missing out on what happened.

BadgerJelly wrote:I think we're just getting our wires crossed here with the terminology though? Generally people do not refer to being conscious when they are asleep. Also an alarm will wake you because your senses are still functioning.


Ask any psychologist. My daughter has a degree in it and lives with two PhD psychologists, all of whom regard dream states as states of consciousness. Indeed, the term consciousness is distinguished from wakefulness on just this basis.

BadgerJelly wrote:No one really understands dreams. They occur at a variety of sleep states. I am not sure if many people would refer to hypnogogic states as dreaming, but there are many similarities. There is more data on dreams from a psychological point of view than from a neurological point of view.


You speak with such authority for someone who thinks no one understands them. However, this doesn't really matter because you have a completely different understanding of what being conscious means than what its common meaning is, which identifies it with awareness. In dreaming, we are aware of things happening, even if we forget it when awakened. When not dreaming, though sleeping, we are not aware of anything, unless, of course, we are awakened from that state by something that impresses itself upon us.

We are clearly at loggerheads.

James
owleye
 


Re: The Mind as Illusion

Postby owleye on November 1st, 2013, 9:20 am 

I can't really make heads nor tails of what you say. I'll assume its my deficiency.

James
owleye
 


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