Is Consciousness an Illusion?

Discussions on the nature of being, existence, reality and knowledge. What is? How do we know?

Re: Is Consciousness an Illusion?

Postby BadgerJelly on April 21st, 2017, 3:28 pm 

Neri -

What questions interest you then? What does your view bring into question?

It certainly pays to be vague sometimes and others it pays to attempt to be more precise.

I do understand the basis of what you're saying I think. I just don't understand why you choose to use the terms you use in the way you use them. You are saying consciousness is just remembering. I would not say I am remembering writing this as I write it, even though I understand that time has elapsed and is elapsing.

Then there is the issue of saying I am not conscious I am just the product of memories because I cannot be conscious of memories I can only remember memories. I think you'll agree that this kind of language if not mapped out more precisely can, and will, cause a lot of confusion.

So do we then have to say some simplistic such as ... I am remembering, or do we find ourselves saying I am remembering being conscious? In which case we find ourselves in the territory Heidegger reveled in maybe?

I guess you can see why I am fascinated by language? Our attempts to lay claim to this or that are entwined in how we frame the world in language (This has been on my mind a lot lately because I am reading Wittgenstein).

Anyway, gotta get up in 4 hours for work so NIGHT NIGHT!

Thanks for your time.
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Re: Is Consciousness an Illusion?

Postby RoccoR on April 21st, 2017, 7:20 pm 

Re: Is Consciousness an Illusion?
BadgerJelly, doogles, Neri, et al,

I see a resemblance here --- with these two discussions.

doogles » April 21st, 2017, 5:45 am wrote:Re: consciousness or unconsciousness?

    • presenting a different perspective on conscious awareness the degree to which we act un-?, semi-, or subconsciously.

    • but would like to progress --- and get onto some concrete examples of subconscious planning and rationalization.



BadgerJelly » April 21st, 2017, 3:28 pm wrote:Neri -

    • What questions interest you then?
    • What does your view bring into question?
    • Is Consciousness an Illusion?

→ and →

    • So do we then have to say some simplistic such as ... I am remembering, or do we find ourselves saying I am remembering being conscious?
    • In which case we find ourselves in the territory Heidegger reveled in maybe?

(OBSERVATION and INTERROGATIVES)

The questions we ask, tells us something about what we think we know and our justification tells us something about what we do not know.

    “All our science, measured against reality, is primitive and childlike - and yet it is the most precious thing we have."
      Albert Einstein (1879-1955)

Excerpt From: Book by Dr Carl Sagan (Cornell). “The demon-haunted world: science as a candle in the dark.”

(COMMENT)

Dr Charles T. Tart (UNC - Chapel Hill · MIT · Duke) is both a psychologist and parapsychologist known for his work into the nature of consciousness; a real example of the fictional character known as Dr. Peter Venkman; holding doctorates in both psychology and parapsychology.

[quote=Excerpt From: Dr Charles T. Tart. “Mind Science.” iBooks. '“Well, our interest in consciousness is something we have to tolerate until the physicists or the neurologists really explain it (away) for us, and then it will no longer be a puzzle." I am consciousness. My experience of my consciousness is the most direct data about reality that I have. I’ve got a vitally important association with my body and my nervous system too, but I am consciousness. The quality of that consciousness is the quality of my life.”[/quote]

Much like Plato's - Allegory of the Cave - Dr Tart leads into the topic with a paradox: “the label --- the name "consciousness," is not the reality; but quasi-descriptive to the reality of consciousness. In the final analysis --- we may never ultimately grasp the "reality" of consciousness. Like Plato's Allegory, we may just be able to understand the nature of the shadow on the wall; giving the various distinctive parts of the shadow names.

One of the real questions is: Why do we complicate the concept of "consciousness" by even asking if it is an Illusion?

    •• What is the suggestive evidence that has emerged to call "consciousness" and "reality" into question?
Why should it not be that the hypotheses with the fewest assumptions (the law of parsimony) should be considered over the assumption that the entirety of the universe is a figment of your imagination; and every detail of the universe we capture is but something created in our mind. This would include the imaginary "mind" (in our collective hallucination); which we cannot define even in our own illusion.

Most Respectfully,
R
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Re: Is Consciousness an Illusion?

Postby Neri on April 21st, 2017, 7:24 pm 

BJ,

Your comments will be treated seriatim.

I am interested in identifying the nature of consciousness. I should think that is clear enough. As far as I know, no one else has identified consciousness as a form of memory.

The terms I use are meaningful. That is why I employ them.

You were conscious of what you wrote, because you did not forget the beginning of a sentence by the time you got to the end of it. The usual term for this is sensory memory.

Consciousness is a certain kind of memory, as I have repeated ad nauseam.

You say that I maintain (using your words):

“I am just the product of memories because I cannot be conscious of memories. I can only remember memories.”

Unfortunately, this statement is somewhat incoherent. You are not the product of memories. In a sense, you are your voluntary memories. That is, your sense of self is nothing more than a collection of such memories. Voluntary memory is by nature conscious because it allows the exercise of the will.

You cannot “remember memories,” as you put it, unless you are conscious. Voluntary memory in se is what is usually called consciousness. I do not know how I can put it plainer than that.

The expression--“I am remembering being conscious” (your words) is meaningless, because remembering is the same as being conscious of something.

Calling consciousness voluntary memory is not merely an exchange of expressions. It tells us where to look for consciousness—namely, in the neuronal repositories of memory, starting with the involuntary memory of simpler animals and working up to human voluntary memory (and with it the will).
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Re: Is Consciousness an Illusion?

Postby vivian maxine on April 21st, 2017, 9:38 pm 

Rocco wrote:One of the real questions is: Why do we complicate the concept of "consciousness" by even asking if it is an Illusion?


My question, too, Rocco. Put a different way: Why is it that some of us - well, me anyway - have no confusion about what consciousness is? Why is it we wonder what all the debate is about? What is it that we are missing so that we see no mystery? I feel I know what consciousness is until it gets into deep scientific and philosophical discussions. Then someone explains what we can and cannot do while conscious - and where in the brain it is done - and I start asking. What am I missing? I must be missing something. When did being conscious get so complicated?

Is there anyone else here who has no problem with what consciousness is until they start looking at it from scientific and philosophic angles? Fair question?
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Re: Is Consciousness an Illusion?

Postby NoShips on April 21st, 2017, 9:50 pm 

vivian maxine » April 22nd, 2017, 10:38 am wrote:
Rocco wrote:One of the real questions is: Why do we complicate the concept of "consciousness" by even asking if it is an Illusion?


My question, too, Rocco. Put a different way: Why is it that some of us - well, me anyway - have no confusion about what consciousness is? Why is it we wonder what all the debate is about? What is it that we are missing so that we see no mystery? I feel I know what consciousness is until it gets into deep scientific and philosophical discussions. Then someone explains what we can and cannot do while conscious - and where in the brain it is done - and I start asking. What am I missing? I must be missing something. When did being conscious get so complicated?

Is there anyone else here who has no problem with what consciousness is until they start looking at it from scientific and philosophic angles? Fair question?



Lol! Nothing like a good dose of philosophy to knock the common sense out of you, eh?

As John Searle says, "When you meet these guys at conferences who deny consciousness, you just wanna go up and pinch them".
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Re: Is Consciousness an Illusion?

Postby vivian maxine on April 21st, 2017, 9:55 pm 

Or run from them. Thanks, NoShips.
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Re: Is Consciousness an Illusion?

Postby mitchellmckain on April 22nd, 2017, 3:42 am 

What does "illusion" mean? All examples of illusion are not of things which do not exist , but rather things which are not what someone might think. For example, a mirage is quite real but it is not caused by water but by air of a different temperature.

Is consciousness not what some people might have thought in the past? Very likely. But is consciousness not what anybody thinks? Well people think very different things about consciousness and some are much more informed than others -- some are very likely correct in what they think. AND this does not imply singular answers for a whole host of different answers could be correct for complex phenomena are often described in many different ways.

Point is, when someone is calling something an illusion, it is a red herring. If they were more honest then they would simply come out and claim they know what it is better than others. But then they would be required to come out and say what it is not and why. It is likely to turn out that it is only not what they themselves thought it to be, before they learned better.
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Re: Is Consciousness an Illusion?

Postby BadgerJelly on April 22nd, 2017, 4:10 am 

Neri -

Note: This is a long one. I felt the need to try and be as forthright and to the point as I could. Please forgive any grammatical/spelling mistakes! I have checked it over, but I usually miss something.

I know some of the examples I posed make no sense. They were examples of questions that people could ask.

"conscious of consciousness" and "remembering memories" can, and usually are, misleading uses of language.

I am sure many people ask say "I am conscious of my consciousness", meaning they are aware of being a conscious being even if they don't fully understand what "consciousness" means in it many technical applications. Many, as we have seen over years, don't generally consider dreaming to be a state of consciousness and they are surprised to hear that "consciousness" is used in such a way.

I apologise if I am stating the obvious. Just enjoying this discussion (again, I prefer "discussion" rather than "argument" because the latter to me holds aggressive connotations).

Now that is out the way I hope you won't take into your mind any position you think I may or may not have when I ask you if "consciousness" is "voluntary memory" then how does it come about? And I guess some may begin to start asking questions such as what kind of memory exists prior to "voluntary memory" and how is it not "consciousness"?

I really love the word "nascent" because it glosses over a lot problems that arrive with temporality. Life is "nascent", consciousness is "nascent". They are fitting lines, but they choose to sidestep more confusing aspects of "stuff" in general. Let us not forget biologists have in the past (and I guess presently) differ in their views on what constitutes "life". Don't worry not going to go into Heidegger here (I don't quite understand what the hell he was on about to be honest! Although he did make some interesting observations about aspects of consciousness).

When I was asking what questions come out of your view of this "voluntary memory" I was expecting you to say something along the lines of "How does 'voluntary memory' occur?", or more vaguely, "How does volition arise from non-voluntary memory?"

For what it is worth I think I should express my tenuous and plastic ideas in this area of recent (forgive the obtuse use of grammar I don't really speak anything like I write! haha!). Anyway, I have been digging into Wittgenstein and found something that I can bring into my sphere to help express what I have said in the past (that is why I read philosophy).

In language we have concepts that are expressed in word form. All of these words only have meaning in relation to each other. If you think about this and apply it to what I have tried to express before in regards to "kinesthetic language" (using the term "language" at a stretch), which would basically mean non-worded, yet conceptual perceptions of the world purely through spaciotemporal loci, the "consciousness" (or the "feel" of "being") is known in the same way as a word has meaning only within a language. A word that has no place in a language obviously has no meaning (I know this is obvious and may seem purposely obtuse - just attempting to be as clear as I can). In this sense our "consciousness", or as you put it "voluntary memory", means what? From what surroundings can we claim to find meaning beyond consciousness? Do any of these questions make sense?

My vague view is that "consciousness" is "questioning". This does relate to your alternative view (or even parallel view? There are no doubt many more perspectives like this) because "voluntary memory" is a "directedness"? If it is not a "directedness" (please note I don't mean "directed by X", I mean simply "directedness", and I confess I cannot help question "intentionality" in this sense (A subject that is tricky!) ... MMmm ... I am perhaps going a little astray here so I'll try and reign this in a bit ...

I like what Biv and Neuro brought up in other thread. The thermometer and the worm. We do not call a thermometer conscious yet if we discover such an equivalent device fashion by some alien race we may perhaps (depending on its complexity) be fooled into thinking it is conscious. We would look for ways to communicate with said device and if we could not then we would say that for all intents and purposes this thing is not conscious for us, meaning we either lack the faculties to communicate with it or we've exhausted all present avenues to open lines of communication. This is more in line with another parallel problem of AI, and computers and programming.

I do completely agree that the conscious "present" is not finite (I believe you said this elsewhere?) Yet in another sense it is "finite". Again, another problem with the terms and how I am, very clumsily, trying to frame them in the correct context and keep them in different contexts parallel to each other. So "finite" in the sense that the "present" is limited, and not "finite" in the sense that the present is not a certain "position" in space and time.

You can probably see what happens when I think about these things. I go off in several different directions and find it extremely taxing to bring this thoughts into one succinct piece of writing. In this sense the "nature of consciousness" seems to be very much like this. There are parallel activities, of "memory" if you wish to frame it with such a term (seems okay to me), and at some critical mass these memories take on the form of a purposeful questioning ... this again will run into the other thread started by Viv I believe, in regard to "unconscious strategies/planning".

To go back to the "computer". A computer is not conscious because we cannot communicate with it without first instilling automated responses. It is not enough to receive "random" responses that may or may not meet the requirements of the questions posed. Then we can perhaps start to program the computer to respond in a more fitting way, and like humans, it may blurt out a load of nonsense and be taken seriously and considered "conscious". But it seems the computer does not know anything, it just looks like it knows. Yet the computer certainly has memory. How is this stored information different to human information? What makes our information storage "better" (so to speak, for the purposes of consciousness)? My claim is quite simple. Our information capacity is plastic. It remains concrete enough to allow us to create a "kinesthetic map", or rather to suppose X as X and therefore bring into conscious being "OTHER" related to X and then the "OTHER" becomes Y and "another" Z, etc.,.

So we possess a number of concepts, some are relatively rigid and, obviously, other are relatively supple. The rigidity grounds the meaning and the supple allows exploration (and of course no concept is wholly in stasis). Just to be clear I am not talking about "word concepts" just concepts in general. If an example is needed a human with no language can use various objects as "chairs", the verbal concept of "chair" need not actually exist in the vocabulary for the concept to exist in the memory (as noted some time back by several of us here in regard to the concept of "consciousness". We don't need to know we are conscious to be conscoious. The concept doesn't need to be intellectually grasped and defined for it to exist - something here sounds a little wrong. please amend if you can make it more clear! :S).

Computers possess relatively "completely" rigid memories. The rigidity, in my view, is the reason a computer is not conscious. Something that seems to make consciousness possible can certainly be regarded as a type of memory, or even a relation of memories (a culmination that gives consciousness its "emergent" tag).

I remember talking to Owleye about this a lot. We both seemed to agree that "consciousness" was the "amalgam"/"culmination" of parallel "stuff". I know it is not a very enlightening definition erring on the side of caution, but it begs so many other questions. In respect to this thread and your view of memory I have no problem looking at consciousness as a culmination of memories, nascent as "voluntary memory" in the sense that it differs from stored computer memory that is as good as "static memory".

After this long ramble I hope I have pointed at questions you've come across. I am definitively not offering any definitive conclusion. I am very aware, perhaps too much sometimes, that great care needs to be taken in putting our thoughts into words that make sense. I assume you also, at the nitty gritty level, have many conflicting ideas too. Meaning in one parlance X works fine, but in a subtley different one it fails to reach certain requirements (this would be dependent upon the depth of the mental investigation).

So, yes, consciousness is "voluntary memory". My present is known to me because of the tomorrow that will be and because of the yesterday that has been. The present is somehow "framed" (kinesthetically mapped) in a "memory-driven" way. Something that really baffles us in everyday life is our awareness of subconscious processes. How we are influenced by things, and how non-voluntary memory (our inner states) present themselves without us being aware within the "moment". This is the area where we find people adhereing or dismissing ideas of determinism, free-will and compatibilism (a subject only of moral interest for me tbh, unless we are looking at "emotions" ... another day and another hundred threads where people have wrestled with that one!).

You'll no doubt get resistance to what you say because of the use of the word "voluntary". Some people will simply want to argue against "free-will" than gloss over over the use of this word and get to the point of what you are saying about memory in general.

I think if neuro has been bored and read this far down he'll maybe help us out and post something about different "types" of memory? If not I will come back to this.

In the mean time I would really like it if you could define some different types of memory in relation to what I have presented here? It seems to me you are saying "consciousness"/"voluntary memory" is what I loosely termed above as "supple memory", whereas "rigid-memory" would be comparable to automated unconscious processes and even subconscious processes ... or it may very well be the complete opposite? From what I have laid out above it seems to me like I am saying consciousness is the 'supple-memory', but I am sitting on the fence for now because I don't have access to my unconscious processes. If we were to look at studies I imagine it would be hard to know where to look for such "rigidity". Motor actions are certainly "rigid" yet they can be consciously refined.

Thanks for your time again.

note: forgot to mention something Wittgenstein says about "knowing". He said knowing is similar to doing, they are acts, this seems to lean toward "intentionality". There is "knowing", "remembering", "thinking", "doing", "understanding", etc.,. A feel a huge amount of confusion is posed here because these are "acts", and further more we say in common speech that "acts" are "acts" of "something", yet the something we are referring to is that something called "consciousness" (or "voluntary memory"). I had approached the idea of consciousness years ago being about "knowing" in the sense that we know what is unfulfilled. This is why I said "questioning" above as a vague way of expressing this idea of 'knowing" (also relates to the difference of "rigid" and "supple".)
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Re: Is Consciousness an Illusion?

Postby neuro on April 22nd, 2017, 7:14 am 

henriette » April 20th, 2017, 11:26 am wrote:the body associated to the mind does not overlap the biological body ; biology defines a body that is not the good body to tackle the body-mind issue, the intuition is that the entire image is the correct body.


Thanks!
I think this is a particularly appropriate and timely observation, henriette.

Which, if you wish, supports the view that consciousness is an illusion, because it does not contemplate reality as it is (materially), but rather as it is felt, and the body itself - the one associated to the mind - is not the actual biological body.

On the other hand, the same observation supports the idea that consciousness is not an illusion but an existing actual process, which re-elaborates any sensory (or cognitive) experience putting it into a different light and perspective (and meaning).

In other words, the idea that consciousness exists (more as a process than as an entity) is not an illusion. The content of consciousness (or better the depiction of its objects by consciousness) is instead an illusion, or at least a gross deformation.

A totally different question is whether consciousness precedes choice, decision, "intentional" action or not. But this absolutely is another story.
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Re: Is Consciousness an Illusion?

Postby Neri on April 22nd, 2017, 9:11 am 

Neuro,

As you know, I do not accept the Kantian view that there is no correspondence between sensory experience and the outside world.

Where the direction course and speed of real happenings are concerned, there must be a direct correspondence, else the senses would be useless in the evolutionary sense.

Of course, one may take the position that the body along with the senses and the central nervous system as well as evolution itself are illusory. However, this is a bridge too far. No one actually believes it.

As I have so often said, if one puts forward the notion that the mind has created sensory experiences that do not in any way correspond to reality, he has the burden to prove it in the face of the universal conviction to the contrary.

I say “universal conviction,” because even those who propose this sort of anti-realism act as if the proposition is false.
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Re: Is Consciousness an Illusion?

Postby Neri on April 22nd, 2017, 9:13 am 

BJ,

Your thoughts are somewhat scattered. If you take the time to focus your thinking and formulate specific questions, I will be happy to try to answer them.

I will not be available until Tuesday.
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Re: Is Consciousness an Illusion?

Postby Braininvat on April 22nd, 2017, 9:57 am 

Though I like the evolutionary argument for Realism, there is the caveat that a brain can form a model that represents danger or nourishment or nookie or whatever in a useful way to survival, but that model doesn't have to map accurately onto what is really "out there." For example, an organism could see a pool of water as a grid of yellow polka dots, and be attracted to yellow polka dots when it is thirsty, and this would serve its survival. Be we wouldn't say that was a Realist depiction of a pool of water. Just saying, correspondence doesn't have to equate with a realistic representation. We humans tend to think our big brains have very refined and accurate models, even beyond the needs for basic survival, and that our pond model is better than yellow polka dots. It's a bias we need to be aware of.
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Re: Is Consciousness an Illusion?

Postby vivian maxine on April 22nd, 2017, 10:21 am 

Biv, three readings and I think I follow. But why would this illusion serve its survival? Polka dots - even if the desperately thirsty imagines (is told by its brain) that they are water - are not water.
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Re: Is Consciousness an Illusion?

Postby RoccoR on April 22nd, 2017, 11:26 am 

Re: Is Consciousness an Illusion?
mitchellmckain, et al,

Because we do not know how the brain processes incoming information and archives data, - OR - how the brain recovers and retrieves information, we are not such (today) whether or not we think in terms of input limitations and the re-assembly of fragmented information (physicist and information management experts sometimes refer to this as decoding "quanta" or "packets") - OR - if some other process is involved. But some theorists have put forth the idea that the key to Genius, Asperger, and Autism, is embedded in this decoding process. It would be like the brain capturing the image of a Gothic stained glass cathedral window → archiving it → then the brain (triggered by some dissociated event) makes an epiphany and recalls this archived Gothic stained glass cathedral window information but in a in a new form of contemporary glass artwork.

Image

Image

mitchellmckain » April 22nd, 2017, 3:42 am wrote:What does "illusion" mean? All examples of illusion are not of things which do not exist , but rather things which are not what someone might think. For example, a mirage is quite real but it is not caused by water but by air of a different temperature.

(COMMENT)

A GREAT! example... I like it.

Most (not all) "illusions" are the result of sensory input manipulations; like your "mirage" example. The image was a manipulation of the image at the source. It was not a trick on the mind like a Harry Houdini performance. There are illusions that are "unframed" and difficult to associate to a previously archived data set. We have all seen this type of illusion before; but, do you remember what you thought the very first time you saw it?

Image

We have learned, overtime, that this "Triangular Illusion" cannot exist in the four dimensions that we call reality. Yet we can think of the (theoretically) impossible. I say (theoretically) impossible because in the four dimensions, it is actually possible to hang the nine cubes in such a way as simulate the image from the proper angle of observation. Whereas, the same is not true of the image was drawn solid --- if it were not cut into spaced cubes.

Image

mitchellmckain » April 22nd, 2017, 3:42 am wrote:But is consciousness not what anybody thinks?

(COMMENT)

And there is the rub. Our "consciousness" has per-defined that a proposition is fallacy if its conclusion is used used in its premises; it starts with what it is trying to prove. We sometimes call this "circular logic." This is akin to the famous quote: "I think, therefore I am." ("Cogito ergo sum..." --- René Descartes) There is no Methodic Doubt here; none at all. However, to have a "thought" or to "engage in thinking" one must have some consciousness. From this one can derive: I am conscious I am a being.


mitchellmckain » April 22nd, 2017, 3:42 am wrote:Point is, when someone is calling something an illusion, it is a red herring.

(COMMENT)

Illusions are very real (not Red Herrings). A mental image of any sort (held in the material world or a mental apparition) is real. No matter what image you conjure in your mind, even if it only exists in your mind, is part of the cosmic reality that constructed that image crafted in energy and bio-electric impulses.

I dislike this definition; but it drives home a point: "Illusion: A perception that occurs when a sensory stimulus is present but is incorrectly perceived and misinterpreted, such as hearing the wind as someone crying. Everyone may occasionally experience an illusion. However, illusions are extraordinarily common in people suffering from schizophrenia."

In terms of an advanced concept, the thought that an Illusion is Imaginary --- is an Illusion.

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R
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Re: Is Consciousness an Illusion?

Postby Braininvat on April 22nd, 2017, 11:48 am 

vivian maxine » April 22nd, 2017, 7:21 am wrote:Biv, three readings and I think I follow. But why would this illusion serve its survival? Polka dots - even if the desperately thirsty imagines (is told by its brain) that they are water - are not water.


Sorry if that was unclear. The hypothetical organism perceives water AS a grid of yellow polka dots. It goes toward the grid, and drinks. My point was that we don't have to have an accurate rendition of something to develop a survival-supporting perception of it. All the organism needs is some kind of model that directs it toward its needs. It's just a thought experiment to advise caution when we take a strong Realist position on what we are perceiving.
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Re: Is Consciousness an Illusion?

Postby vivian maxine on April 22nd, 2017, 12:37 pm 

Braininvat » April 22nd, 2017, 10:48 am wrote:
vivian maxine » April 22nd, 2017, 7:21 am wrote:Biv, three readings and I think I follow. But why would this illusion serve its survival? Polka dots - even if the desperately thirsty imagines (is told by its brain) that they are water - are not water.


Sorry if that was unclear. The hypothetical organism perceives water AS a grid of yellow polka dots. It goes toward the grid, and drinks. My point was that we don't have to have an accurate rendition of something to develop a survival-supporting perception of it. All the organism needs is some kind of model that directs it toward its needs. It's just a thought experiment to advise caution when we take a strong Realist position on what we are perceiving.


Oh, I misread. His polka dots really were water. They just looked like polka dots. I am a little slow today.

As for not taking a strong Realist position, how about the opposite? I do wish we'd stop calling everything in our real world illusions. The corners of those illusions are pretty sharp if I bump into them. As the too-often quoted professor said when the student asked if he (the student) really existed: "Who wants to know?"

Thanks, Biv. You do know how to zero in on our mental illusions. :-)
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Re: Is Consciousness an Illusion?

Postby Neri on April 22nd, 2017, 2:20 pm 

BIV,

As I indicated previously, one must be careful not to conflate correspondence with equivalence. A mental impression cannot be equivalent to a physical object, for they are completely different orders of existence [as the latter term is usually employed].

If any sensory representation has evolutionary value, it necessarily corresponds to reality.

Whenever, in response to the sensation of thirst, an animal drinks what appears as a grid of yellow polka dots, his thirst will be satisfied, and this will be beneficial in the struggle to survive.

The correspondence lies in the fact that water, as we call it, is recognized as a grid of yellow polka dots whenever the animal encounters it. This identifies water in the sense that the polka-dot representation in experienced only when water and nothing else is encountered. If this were otherwise, there would be neither correspondence nor evolutionary value in the representation.

No representation is superior to another representation if both correspond to a thing in the real world. Thus, our experience of water is not superior to that of the animal in your example, because both, in their own way, correspond to water in the way I have just described.

I must go now. I will respond to any further comments on Tuesday.
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Re: Is Consciousness an Illusion?

Postby neuro on April 23rd, 2017, 7:24 am 

Neri » April 22nd, 2017, 2:11 pm wrote:Neuro,
...
As I have so often said, if one puts forward the notion that the mind has created sensory experiences that do not in any way correspond to reality, he has the burden to prove it in the face of the universal conviction to the contrary.

You seem to address this strong defence of "some correspondence" between our senses and reality as an answer to my previous post, where I claimed that if by "consciousness is an illusion" one means that our mind (consciousness) interprets reality and therefore does not picture exactly as it is, then this is an acceptable view. Meaning that the correspondence is obviously there, and quite strong, in general, but there are departures.

Do you realize that you are attacking a strawman?
I think BIV egregiously took care of it.
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Re: Is Consciousness an Illusion?

Postby BadgerJelly on April 23rd, 2017, 8:53 am 

Neri -

There were questions directed at you in the post and they were clear. Here they are again:
And I guess some may begin to start asking questions such as what kind of memory exists prior to "voluntary memory" and how is it not "consciousness"?

When I was asking what questions come out of your view of this "voluntary memory" I was expecting you to say something along the lines of "How does 'voluntary memory' occur?", or more vaguely, "How does volition arise from non-voluntary memory?"


and a question which was not particularly directed at anything in particular other than to combat a strong realist view:

In language we have concepts that are expressed in word form. All of these words only have meaning in relation to each other. If you think about this and apply it to what I have tried to express before in regards to "kinesthetic language" (using the term "language" at a stretch), which would basically mean non-worded, yet conceptual perceptions of the world purely through spaciotemporal loci, the "consciousness" (or the "feel" of "being") is known in the same way as a word has meaning only within a language. A word that has no place in a language obviously has no meaning (I know this is obvious and may seem purposely obtuse - just attempting to be as clear as I can). In this sense our "consciousness", or as you put it "voluntary memory", means what? From what surroundings can we claim to find meaning beyond consciousness? Do any of these questions make sense?


Here I was being more vague and asking what special use your term has that "consciousness" fails to meet? And if this question doesn't fit into your thinking then present why it does not fit.

The rest of the post was simply me laying out some of my thoughts on the matter and was meant to just give you a flavor of what questions and investigations I relate to this subject.

note: I think a further look at "intentionality" may be useful, but I'll resist for now to keep things on track. I do think it would be useful to address though (maybe I'll start a thread on that some day).
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Re: Is Consciousness an Illusion?

Postby Braininvat on April 23rd, 2017, 10:33 am 

Just to be sure we are all using the philosophical term "intentionality," everyone please read the definition in SEP?

https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/intentionality/

I've noticed a couple threads here where the author didn't realize that the philosophy term has a different meaning from the ordinary "intending to do something."
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Re: Is Consciousness an Illusion?

Postby RoccoR on April 23rd, 2017, 12:40 pm 

Re: Is Consciousness an Illusion?

et al,

Sometimes the question asks for the seeming impossible.

    • "How does 'voluntary memory' occur?"

      Ω → "Voluntary Memory" notion is not generally accepted. There are several factors (that we know presently) that have an impact on memory (assuming normality). Memory begins with the capacity to pass-on sensory experiences for archival and retrieval. The are three receptors
      generally understood to be critical to the process:

        • N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA),
        • Amino-3-hydroxy-5-Methyl-4-isoxazole Propionic Acid (AMPA),
        • Kainic Acid (KA).
          For the moment, we will not address the dynamics of memory capacity. We will assume that the brain has archival management system wherein new information does not destroy the previously stored memories, thus allowing a huge memory capacity.

    • "How does volition arise from non-voluntary memory?"

      Ω → This notion of "voluntary 'vs' non-voluntary" (or even optional or selective) are misleading and very bad notation. If you have an experience --- you have a memory of it. Now the accuracy and the retrieval of the memory (even dissipation) are separate issues.

      For the purpose of the discussion here, we will ignore the problem or debate in memory capacity in the quantum model of brain in the 1995 results on dissipation systems in quantum field theory (QFT). Again, we will assume an the capacity will always accommodate memory requirements.

    • "How does 'voluntary memory' occur?"

      Ω → There is no reason, from a neuroscientific perspective, to assume that memory has this quality. Sensory experiences are what they are, and remembered (encoded mentally) according to the importance, focus and attention you devoted to it (or were capable - unimpaired) at the time of the experience.

    • In this sense our "consciousness", or as you put it "voluntary memory", means what?

      Ω → Again, this is question of the encoding and retrieval of personally relevant events, or "episodic memory (EM);" as well as the "Event-related Brain Potential (ERPs)."


    • From what surroundings can we claim to find meaning beyond consciousness?

      Ω → Consciousness and Behaviorism (which is at odds with Consciousness) different. For the purpose of this discussion, consciousness (as of yet undefined) is the actuator for self-control. You have no-self control in the unconscious state.

      "Surrounding" --- "Consciousness" This implies OBE (Out-of-Body-Experiences) in its various manifestations. (The perception of reality from a vantage point outside reality.) It is often considered an "altered state." No real empirical data under scientific controls.

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Re: Is Consciousness an Illusion?

Postby mitchellmckain on April 23rd, 2017, 5:53 pm 

RoccoR » April 22nd, 2017, 10:26 am wrote:I dislike this definition; but it drives home a point: "Illusion: A perception that occurs when a sensory stimulus is present but is incorrectly perceived and misinterpreted, such as hearing the wind as someone crying. Everyone may occasionally experience an illusion. However, illusions are extraordinarily common in people suffering from schizophrenia."

Incorrect! What a schizophrenic experiences is NOT illusions but hallucinations and delusions. BIG DIFFERENCE! Illusions are external phenomenon and typically experienced by everyone as mirages are, though the more informed are more likely to understand what is really going on. Hallucinations and delusions are quite different because they are things which are experienced as outside the mind when they are really only in the mind.

Consciousness is neither hallucination nor delusion because it is experienced by everyone. However, it is very much of an internal subjective experience of the mind and thus it is somewhat difficult to objectify. And yet people have enough similarity of experience to believe that this is something objectively real -- whatever that may be. But it is true that many people may misunderstand what consciousness is while others are more informed, but I don't think it has been established that this is a deceptive experience in the way that the typical illusion is shown to be. It is a little difficult to do that because the objective basis for this subjective experience has not been established the way it has been done for a mirage, for example.

Oh, and I did not say that illusions are red herrings, I said that calling something an illusion in discussions like this is often a red herring tactic of rhetoric. And when this is the case, it is typical that the equivocation with hallucinations and delusions is a part of the rhetoric.
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Re: Is Consciousness an Illusion?

Postby RoccoR on April 23rd, 2017, 8:53 pm 

Re: Is Consciousness an Illusion?
mitchellmckain, et al,

Yes, I think we will have to disagree.

mitchellmckain » April 23rd, 2017, 5:53 pm wrote:
RoccoR » April 22nd, 2017, 10:26 am wrote:I dislike this definition; but it drives home a point: "Illusion: A perception that occurs when ... illusions are extraordinarily common in people suffering from schizophrenia."

Incorrect! What a schizophrenic experiences is NOT illusions but hallucinations and delusions. .........

(COMMENT)

Well, I did say that I did not particularly like this "medical (first level) definition of illusion." You will notice that the definition I used did mentions "illusions are extraordinarily common in people suffering from schizophrenia." All hallucinations are (technically) a form of an illusion.

A hallucination is also a perception (one kind of illusion) in the absence of external stimulus that has qualities of real perception. It is a distortion in a person's perception of reality.

A delusion is an altogether different thing. It is a " delusion is a false personal belief that is not subject to reason or contradictory evidence and is not explained by a person's usual cultural and religious concepts (so that, for example,." It to may be a symptom of "Delusional Disorder Symptoms" schizophrenia (a delusional disorder).

mitchellmckain » April 23rd, 2017, 5:53 pm wrote:Consciousness is neither hallucination nor delusion because it is experienced by everyone.

(COMMENT)

I do not believe I said that. Consciousness is not an experience, or set of experiences. "The notion of a conscious mental state also has a variety of distinct though perhaps interrelated meanings. There are at least six major options:" (See 2.2 State consciousness - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

      Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Here consciousness itself is not typically treated as a substantive entity but merely the abstract reification of whatever property or aspect is attributed by the relevant use of the adjective “conscious”. Access consciousness is just the property of having the required sort of internal access relations, and qualitative consciousness is simply the property that is attributed when “conscious” is applied in the qualitative sense to mental states. How much this commits one to the ontological status of consciousness per se will depend on how much of a Platonist one is about universals in general. (See the entry on the medieval problem of universals.) It need not commit one to consciousness as a distinct entity any more than one's use of “square”, “red” or “gentle” commits one to the existence of squareness, redness or gentleness as distinct entities.

I don't think I associated consciousness with either hallucinations or delusions (never used those words). I would never be so foolish as to define "consciousness;" an apparent access sense, dealing with internal mental processes and awareness of the external realities of the world.

mitchellmckain » April 23rd, 2017, 5:53 pm wrote: And yet people have enough similarity of experience to believe that this is something objectively real -- whatever that may be. But it is true that many people may misunderstand what consciousness is while others are more informed, but I don't think it has been established that this is a deceptive experience in the way that the typical illusion is shown to be. It is a little difficult to do that because the objective basis for this subjective experience has not been established the way it has been done for a mirage, for example.

(COMMENT)

Consciousness is a form of awareness. It is not a cognitive function. You may dream or think in an unconscious state.

Consciousness has nothing to do with the proper interpretation of sensory inputs. About a decade ago, I was taking (passenger) a Black Hawk from Baghdad to Tallil Airbase/Camp Adder. Somewhere in between we stopped for fuel. I had fallen asleep in the back when I was awoke by Crew Chief. When I jumped-out, and looked across the tarmac, I damn near had a heart attack. I saw six MI-24 Hinds. Being Vietnam War vintage, I was taken aback momentarily until I noticed they had Polish Marking. But the mind does play trick on you.

mitchellmckain » April 23rd, 2017, 5:53 pm wrote:Oh, and I did not say that illusions are red herrings, I said that calling something an illusion in discussions like this is often a red herring tactic of rhetoric. And when this is the case, it is typical that the equivocation with hallucinations and delusions is a part of the rhetoric.

(COMMENT)

I apologize for my misunderstanding.

I don't think "hallucinations and delusions is a part of the rhetoric." I see them as two entirely different concepts.

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Re: Is Consciousness an Illusion?

Postby neuro on April 24th, 2017, 11:15 am 

Whether we do or do not agree on the clinical definition of "delusion", it is important to keep in mind that there are two possible levels where a misinterpretation of reality can occur.

The first is a sensory processing error: our senses, and the central circuits dedicated to extract info from the flow of sensory data from one source (e.g. sight, hearing, ...) can be tricked into giving us a false impression (and a wrong interpretation) of the data. A typical example are trompe-l'oeiis or optical illusions.

The second level is more related to consciousness as a function oriented to extract a consistent picture from the analysis of external reality (sensory experience), memory and feelings. If this high-level function is defective, we are bound to mis-interpret reality, our memory and our feelings. This is called - clinically - dissociation, and states in which a dissociation occurs (schizophrenia, psycotomimetic drugs, psychotic syndromes in general) are called "altered states of consciousness".

By the way, RoccoR:
memory (at the cellular level) does not involve AMPA, kainate and NMDA receptors only: Dopamine can produce long-term changes and memory (through phospshorylation of DARPP-32); cannabinoid receptor CB1 is thought to be involved in specific mechanisms of STDP (spike-timing dependent plasticity), a functionally important aspect of Hebbian synaptic plasticity. GABA (in particular when released by somatostatin-positive interneurons onto the apical dendrites of principal cortical neurons) can strongly modulate calcium-dependent plastic changes in the cortex. And a number of other possible mechanisms may be involved in several central neuronal systems.
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Re: Is Consciousness an Illusion?

Postby RoccoR on April 24th, 2017, 5:21 pm 

Re: Is Consciousness an Illusion?
neuro, et al,

I can not argue with this alternative presentation. I actually

neuro » April 24th, 2017, 11:15 am wrote:

By the way, RoccoR:
memory (at the cellular level) does not involve AMPA, kainate and NMDA receptors only: Dopamine can produce long-term changes and memory (through phospshorylation of DARPP-32); cannabinoid receptor CB1 is thought to be involved in specific mechanisms of STDP (spike-timing dependent plasticity), a functionally important aspect of Hebbian synaptic plasticity. GABA (in particular when released by somatostatin-positive interneurons onto the apical dendrites of principal cortical neurons) can strongly modulate calcium-dependent plastic changes in the cortex. And a number of other possible mechanisms may be involved in several central neuronal systems.

(COMMENT)

I was thinking a little broader sense, when "conscious" beings interact with of beings (in any state), they don't generally interact at the cellular level.

Glutamate (Glu) mainly acts as an excitatory neurotransmitter in the central nervous system
controlling variety of neuro-physiological functions like synaptic signaling, learning, memory, etc. Review Article In the present review article, a link between ionotropic glutamate receptor i.e. N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors (NMDARs) and cancer has been mainly focused. Regulation of cancer cells by NMDARs is an emerging or evolving concept. Besides neurons, NMDAR subunits are expressed in various types of cancer cells.


NMDA receptor function, memory, and brain aging
• An increasing level of N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor hypofunction within the brain is associated with
memory and learning impairments, with psychosis, and ultimately with excitotoxic brain injury.

• Excessive activation of NMDA receptors (NMDA receptor hyperfunction [NRHyper]) plays an important role in the pathophysiology of acute CNS injury syndromes such as hypoxia-ischemia, trauma, and status epilepticus. Recently, hyperstimulation of AMPA/KA receptors and consequent excitotoxicity has been proposed to underlies neuro-degeneration in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, Lou Gerhig’s Disease).


I was think along the lines of consciousness (what we imagine it to be, and how it alters over time) as it fits into the greater human interactive network of people. I consider all these things (which might cause cognitive deterioration --- memory dysfunction) affecting the person's ability to consciously perform or be able to retrieve archived memories. As you can see from the research that "NMDA receptor has been conceptualized as a synaptic coincidence detector that can provide graded control of memory formation."

I'm not that smart as to grasp all the nuances of "consciousness." I leave to the researchers to tell me the various factors that impact memory. (I take them all into consideration.)

[quote=RoccoR]"Voluntary Memory" notion is not generally accepted. There are several factors (that we know presently) that have an impact on memory (assuming normality). [/quote]

I don't argue with your presentation, if you say that my thoughts are wrong, relative to those factors I mentioned are wrong, so be it. Or it could be the case that we both produced sound and valid factors that will gradually affect a persons cognitive abilities (deterioration) part of being conscious --- and --- memory recall (dysfunction) that affect consciousness. I have seen people that walk around, harmless yet, totally unconscious to their reality. I once met both WC Fields and Albert Einstein. (Both of them very convincing.)

At what point does a human go from "conscious" to "unconscious." Think about "Alzheimer's" as an example (one of many). Before her death, I would look at my mother, and she had no idea who I was. One time she spent the whole day calling me "Reggie" and complaining about the accommodations in the hotel (we were at home). When they are in this condition --- how does that fit with the definition of "consciousness?"

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R
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Re: Is Consciousness an Illusion?

Postby vivian maxine on April 24th, 2017, 5:33 pm 

Rocco, I am not qualified to make definite statements but think a moment. Your mother was relating - just not relating in the "real world". Would that not be consciousness?
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Re: Is Consciousness an Illusion?

Postby mitchellmckain on April 24th, 2017, 10:57 pm 

vivian maxine » April 24th, 2017, 4:33 pm wrote:Rocco, I am not qualified to make definite statements but think a moment. Your mother was relating - just not relating in the "real world". Would that not be consciousness?


Indeed!

It is like he is refuting an absolute, black and white concept of consciousness, when I certainly wouldn't support any such thing. Consciousness and awareness is both relative and highly quantitative. We talk about whether a person is conscious or not, only because we have these two relative states: unconscious, where parts of us do remain active and aware while other parts shut down, and conscious where we are more aware of the world but subject to all kinds of things (such as sensory impairment, tools and beliefs) which limit (and/or expand) our awareness of the world.
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Re: Is Consciousness an Illusion?

Postby RoccoR on April 25th, 2017, 8:46 am 

Re: Is Consciousness an Illusion?
vivian maxine, mitchellmckain, et al,

Both of you seem to be in agreement that the awareness of reality is not a criteria to define consciousness. That the state of being awake, up and talking, is obviously conscious; where as the opposite condition - unresponsive to stimuli or reality. Unconscious being more on the order of - unable to move or respond to to the environment.

First, let me say that this is a very reasonable position to assume; for the everyday observer.

Put another way, the example of my mother: up, walking around, talking --- by any other standard, NOT unconscious --- but IS Conscious.

THUS: If were were to find my mother laying on the sidewalk, with vital signs but otherwise unresponsive, you would say she was "unconscious." If you were to find my mother walking down the 5th Avenue, moving unimpaired and talking, but disoriented and unaware of who she is, where she is going or what she is doing, you would describer her as "conscious."

I cannot argue with that.

[quote=vivian maxine on April 24th, 2017, 5:33 pm] I am not qualified to make definite statements but think a moment. Your mother was relating - just not relating in the "real world". Would that not be consciousness?

[quote=mitchellmckain on April 24th, 2017, 10:57 pm]
It is like he is refuting an absolute, black and white concept of consciousness, when I certainly wouldn't support any such thing. Consciousness and awareness is both relative and highly quantitative. We talk about whether a person is conscious or not, only because we have these two relative states: unconscious, where parts of us do remain active and aware while other parts shut down, and conscious where we are more aware of the world but subject to all kinds of things (such as sensory impairment, tools and beliefs) which limit (and/or expand) our awareness of the world.[/quote][/quote]
(COMMENT)

I, on the other hand, do not consider mobility, motor skills or the ability to talk, as criteria for "consciousness." I think "consciousness" is so much more than the two-state condition (on or off --- black and white concept). There must be a degree of awareness, the ability to use the 5 senses, or cognition.

Just my thought - one man's opinion.
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R
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Re: Is Consciousness an Illusion?

Postby Neri on April 25th, 2017, 9:10 am 

BJ,

I might observe that I have already answered the questions you propounded in your post of April 23rd. However, I will briefly do so again (taking your questions seriatim).

(1) Involuntary memory preceded voluntary memory and was not conscious because it did not allow volition.

(2) No one knows exactly how voluntary memory evolved from involuntary memory. It is a difficult question that neuroscience is not even close to answering.

(3) Because consciousness is something we all experience directly (without intercession of the senses), the expression “consciousness” has meaning to us all as a reference to something about which we can have no doubt.

(4) The expression “voluntary memory” is more than just a reference to the direct experience of consciousness. It adds the idea that consciousness is a kind of memory and expresses the close relationship between consciousness and the will.

(5) The expression, “intentionality” refers to the fact that one cannot be conscious without being conscious of something. It refers to the content of consciousness rather than to consciousness itself.
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Re: Is Consciousness an Illusion?

Postby vivian maxine on April 25th, 2017, 9:16 am 

Who knows, Rocco? You may be right. No one knows for certain what consciousness is I think most scientists agree to that. We each think we know but we can't offer any proof, only opinion. We are simply analyzing how we feel about it - our own experiences. Scientists want something concrete that says "this is it". I think they want to find something physical that pinpoints it. I don't think there is anything physical to pinpoint consciousness but, again, I may be wrong.
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