Is Consciousness an Illusion?

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Is Consciousness an Illusion?

Postby Neri on April 24th, 2016, 10:25 am 

Daniel Dennett and others has taken the remarkable position that consciousness is only an illusion. Searle has put forth a rather involved argument to refute this claim. However, I think the disproof is far more rudimentary.

The proposition--“consciousness is an illusion”—is logically flawed, for it presumes the very thing it purports to disprove—namely, the reality of consciousness.

The use of the expression, “illusion,” presumes consciousness, for an illusion requires a conscious subject to experience it. An illusion cannot exist in a vacuum.

An illusion is a kind of deception. To have a deception of any sort, someone who is conscious must be deceived. Obviously, it is not possible to deceive one who is unconscious.

Dennett conflates consciousness with the contents of conscious [objects of consciousness]. In this regard, he emphasizes the fact that sensory experiences (particularly vision) can be illusory.

His argument seems to be: “Because there can be no consciousness without content--if the content is illusory, then consciousness must itself be illusory.”

Unfortunately, this overlooks the following:

(1) There is no reason to believe that all perceptions are illusory.

(2) In any event (as I already pointed out), no illusion can exist except as the object of a conscious mind.

Consciousness is ineffable, irreducible and ontologically subjective. One can know it only when one experiences it. Indeed, Nothing else can make a greater claim to reality than one’s experience of his own consciousness.
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Re: Is Consciousness an Illusion?

Postby vivian maxine on April 24th, 2016, 11:09 am 

(quote=Neri)"The use of the expression, “illusion,” presumes consciousness, for an illusion requires a conscious subject to experience it. An illusion cannot exist in a vacuum."(/quote)

And that settles it. :-)
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Re: Is Consciousness an Illusion?

Postby Braininvat on April 24th, 2016, 12:51 pm 

Dennett's points are a bit more subtle than Neri's nutshell of them. DD doesn't say awareness is illusory, but rather the way we construe consciousness as a single process of a unitary self. He, and the Churchlands, believe that humans easily form faulty intuitions about our introspective states. They are not saying we are zombies or Cartesian automatons. I'm not going digging into all the threads covering this, but I know Neri participated and was, presumably, conscious.
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Re: Is Consciousness an Illusion?

Postby Braininvat on April 24th, 2016, 12:59 pm 

https://www.ted.com/talks/dan_dennett_o ... anguage=en

...transcript of Dan's TED talk. This will get you introduced.
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Re: Is Consciousness an Illusion?

Postby Neri on April 24th, 2016, 11:21 pm 

BIV,

I admit to being conscious. If I did not believe that you were conscious, I would not bother to type this response.

Searle puts the matter very well: "Where consciousness is concerned, the existence of the appearance is the reality."

I have read Dennett’s “Consciousness Explained” and have found it wanting. In his atheistic zeal to falsify the myth of the immortal soul, he throws out the baby with the bath water.

As a non-religious myself, I do not believe that consciousness requires a soul. To my way of thinking, all that is required is a living human body containing a central nervous system with a properly functioning brain.

The fact that consciousness is a subjective reality does not mean that it is supernatural. I have covered this matter extensively in other posts.

It is critical that one not conflate consciousness with objects of consciousness. In particular, it is essential that one realize that there is a distinction between consciousness “in se” and consciousness of self.

It is true that our experience of the outside world as well as our experience of ourselves can, to some extent, be illusory. No one, for example, would deny that the world is full of people with an exaggerated estimate of their own importance.

Dennett, quite properly, puts great emphasis on the scientific method. Yet, if our experience of the outside world were entirely illusory, science would be reduced to self-deception. The same would hold true if the consciousness of the scientist were illusory.

In other words, if a scientist denies the reality of all observations, he cannot but deny not only the reality of his own observations but also the validity of all his work. If he denies the reality of all consciousness, he cannot but deny his own consciousness, and as a result all his knowledge will be reduced to a sham and a pretense.

Accordingly, one cannot deny the reality of consciousness by relying on scientific studies when those studies depend, in the final analysis, upon the reality of both observations and the consciousness of the observer.

One cannot be conscious of any object without knowing that he is conscious. This knowledge takes the form of a memory, for it is not possible to be conscious of anything in just an instant.

Dennett makes hardly a mention of memory, yet memory is essential to one’s knowledge of who he is. Here, in particular I speak of long-term memories of one’s linguistic and physical interactions with other humans as well as his interactions with other things in the world.

These interactions include things outside the body acting upon the body and the body itself acting upon things outside of it. That is, the body either itself acts or is acted upon by things outside of it.

With regard to the acts of the body, we have the conscious experience that we are, more often than not, the authors of these acts. This is the pillar upon which self-awareness rests, for we identify ourselves by remembering the things that we do. Further, the things that we do often have irreversible consequences to other persons and things.

There is no immutable self. This is true. Our bodies change over time and with it the life experiences that we remember. Thus, consciousness of self remains, while we live, a work in progress.
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Re: Is Consciousness an Illusion?

Postby Old Rasputin on April 29th, 2016, 1:26 pm 

Neri wrote:Daniel Dennett and others has taken the remarkable position that consciousness is only an illusion...

…An illusion is a kind of deception. To have a deception of any sort, someone who is conscious must be deceived. Obviously, it is not possible to deceive one who is unconscious.

Regarding this word “illusion” and its confusing meanings (including “deception”), I think Dennett erred with this word choice. He would be better served with using the word “imaginary” as a more appropriate replacement.


Neri wrote:The proposition--“consciousness is an illusion”—is logically flawed, for it presumes the very thing it purports to disprove—namely, the reality of consciousness.

The use of the expression, “illusion,” presumes consciousness, for an illusion requires a conscious subject to experience it.

I disagree that this is “logically flawed”. I suspect that there are many entities that can actually “experience”, such as worms, plants, single cell amoeba, etc., …but yet, they are not considered “conscious subjects”. So in this, and all cases, consciousness is not a requirement for one to be able to experience, regardless of the type of experience.

Furthermore, isn’t “consciousness” really just the “knowing” what we experience, …as opposed to the “experiencing” what we experience?

Many entities can experience, but not many can “know” they experience. The ones that “know”, are the ones that are considered “conscious subjects”, …true?

If so, then this makes “consciousness” essentially equivalent to “memory” (the ability to "know").


Neri wrote:Dennett conflates consciousness with the contents of conscious [objects of consciousness]. In this regard, he emphasizes the fact that sensory experiences (particularly vision) can be illusory.

To Dennett’s point, and to further claim, -- ALL subjective experiences (not just the sensory) are all "imaginary"; they only exist in, and can only be known from, one’s imagination (i.e. images/thoughts within the mind).

Simply put, we don’t perceive “objects”, we perceive “perceptions”. Those (supposed) “objects” are purely illusionary/imaginary; exist only within one’s imagination.


Neri wrote:His argument seems to be: “Because there can be no consciousness without content--if the content is illusory, then consciousness must itself be illusory.”

Unfortunately, this overlooks the following:

(1) There is no reason to believe that all perceptions are illusory.

Disagree. ALL perceptions are indeed “imaginary”. The realness of a perceived object can only be speculated, and never known with certainty. -- We have no means of perceiving beyond our perceptions.


Neri wrote:I admit to being conscious.

How do you know? What is it (specifically) that you can point to that makes you conscious?

I suspect Dennett may be correct.
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Re: Is Consciousness an Illusion?

Postby Neri on April 30th, 2016, 12:43 am 

OR,

If a thing is imaginary, a conscious subject must be doing the imagining. Like illusion and knowledge, imagining cannot exist in a vacuum. All of these expressions presume consciousness and hence cannot logically be used to falsify it.

If you accept the Kantian view that the whole world of experience is not real-in-itself but only a concoction of the mind, you are of course presuming the reality of the mind and with it the reality of consciousness.
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Re: Is Consciousness an Illusion?

Postby Old Rasputin on April 30th, 2016, 1:22 pm 

Neri wrote:OR,

If a thing is imaginary, a conscious subject must be doing the imagining. Like illusion and knowledge, imagining cannot exist in a vacuum. All of these expressions presume consciousness and hence cannot logically be used to falsify it.

Can a non-conscious subject experience??

What makes a subject conscious?
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Re: Is Consciousness an Illusion?

Postby Serpent on April 30th, 2016, 2:16 pm 

I love this whole tail-eating snake thing!
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Re: Is Consciousness an Illusion?

Postby Old Rasputin on May 2nd, 2016, 12:52 pm 

Neri wrote:If you accept the Kantian view that the whole world of experience is not real-in-itself but only a concoction of the mind…

No, I’m not saying this, nor accepting, that it “is not real”. I’m just saying that we have no way of knowing if it is real or not. That which we experience/perceive, may be real, or then again, it may not be real. We have no way of knowing. All we can do is speculate.

And the object(s) of speculation exist only in one’s imagination (which in-itself is just an experience).


Neri wrote:…you are of course presuming the reality of the mind and with it the reality of consciousness.

No, not at all. I don’t presume "experiencing" requires a "mind/consciousness".

I suspect that the body can experience just fine by itself, …without the need of an (imaginary) intermediary (mind/consciousness).

What is this consciousness anyways, …really? What does it provide, or explain, that “experiencing” and “memory” (i.e. the ability to “know”) don’t already account for?

It seems Dennett is correct, -- consciousness is just an illusion created to satisfy the need for specialness.


Serpent wrote:I love this whole tail-eating snake thing.

Awesome phrase, and a great visual, -- though I don't think it applies here (no infinite regress situation here!).

But none-the-less, I would love to use this phrase, -- but of course, will quote the source as Serpent (unless you are not the originator?).
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Re: Is Consciousness an Illusion?

Postby Serpent on May 2nd, 2016, 1:03 pm 

Old Rasputin » May 2nd, 2016, 11:52 am wrote:
[tail-eating snake] Awesome phrase, great visual, -- though I don't think it applies here (no infinite regress situation here).

But none-the-less, I would love to use this phrase, -- but of course, will quote the source as Serpent (unless you are not the originator?).

It's not mine: the concept has been kicking around awhile in the collective allusion - though I take it personally. Of course it applies. You can't have an illusion without a something that experiences the illusion. Obviously, you can't know or know that you know anything about anything for sure, but whoever makes up these concepts and words gets to define them.
If you define 'illusion' as something that can be experienced only inside a living brain, that presupposes an external reality which contains [at least one] life and [at least one] brain. No matter how many emperors and butterflies alternate dreaming, there has to an encompassing real brain.

If you define it some other way, that new definition will also carry some necessary conditions. Whatever you do, if you agree on the language, the question answers itself.
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Re: Is Consciousness an Illusion?

Postby Jägerbombastic on May 2nd, 2016, 1:28 pm 

The problem i have with this is that we don't really know whether our experiences are our own perceptions, since that would unleash and endless amount of questions like how do I know what I know and how do I know that I know what I know? and so on. In order to avoid this and not lose our minds from all unanswerable questions, we simply assume what we perceive is real and behave as if it is. From the sound of it, you are going for the Brain in a vat hypothesis. The question is, how do a group of minds perceive the same things? And if our consciousness is not real than wouldn't that mean you are using your conscious to deny your conscious is real therefore proving it to be real (Cogito ergo sum)? however I will concede that consciousness cannot exist on its own. you have to be conscious of something in order for consciousness to actually exist.
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Re: Is Consciousness an Illusion?

Postby Old Rasputin on May 2nd, 2016, 3:06 pm 

Old Rasputin wrote:
Serpent wrote:tail-eating snake
…though I don't think it applies…

Serpent wrote: Of course it applies. You can't have an illusion without a something that experiences the illusion.

Yes, I absolutely agree that there must be "something". But who/what is this “something”? Who/what is this mystery “experiencer” that does the “experiencing” (of this illusion)?

The only possible answer (to the mystery identity) of this “experiencer” is the physical body (/brain) itself!

Otherwise, interposing and identifying the “mind” (or "consciousness") as this mystery “experiencer” only creates problems. In fact it seems to create the very mentioned, “tail-eating snake” impossibility scenario.

The concept of a “mind” is very troubling. What is a mind, and how does it relate to the body? Is the mind the “controller” of the body? If so, then what “controls” the mind? Does the mind have its own mind? And if so, then does this mind have its own mind? Once we accept the notion of a mind as a controller (or experiencer) of the body, then we accept an endless impossible “tail-eating snake” scenario (the snake eats the tail of the snake who eats the tail of the snake…).



Jägerbombastic wrote:The question is, how do a group of minds perceive the same things?

?? How is it possible to know if others/minds actually perceive the same things? From the perceiver’s subjective view, he cannot know if others actually perceive the same perceptions as he. He can’t perceive their perceptions. The best he can do is perceive the hearsay; he can perceive the hearing of their voices claiming to perceive as he perceives. That’s all.


Jägerbombastic wrote:And if our consciousness is not real than wouldn't that mean you are using your conscious to deny your conscious is real therefore proving it to be real (Cogito ergo sum)?

Well, to be accurate, it is the “experiencing” (not the consciousness) that is certain and undeniable. -- Descartes experienced thoughts, therefore Descartes existed.
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Re: Is Consciousness an Illusion?

Postby Jägerbombastic on May 2nd, 2016, 3:23 pm 

Jägerbombastic wrote:The question is, how do a group of minds perceive the same things?

?? How is pit ossible to know if others/minds actually perceive the same things? From the perceiver’s subjective view, he cannot know if others actually perceive the same perceptions as he. He can’t perceive their perceptions. The best he can do is perceive the hearsay; he can perceive the hearing of their voices claiming to perceive as he perceives. That’s all.


Jägerbombastic wrote:And if our consciousness is not real than wouldn't that mean you are using your conscious to deny your conscious is real therefore proving it to be real (Cogito ergo sum)?

Well, to be accurate, it is the “experiencing” (not the consciousness) that is certain and undeniable. -- Descartes experienced thoughts, therefore Descartes existed.


what I'm saying is, if we really are brains in vats than how do we know that we know of the same events? lets say there's two people who know about the presidential election when it ends, i know that you know about it, and you know that i know about it. why if we aren't able to know what other people know, do these two people know that the other know of the same events?
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Re: Is Consciousness an Illusion?

Postby Jägerbombastic on May 2nd, 2016, 3:25 pm 

Jägerbombastic » May 2nd, 2016, 3:23 pm wrote:
Jägerbombastic wrote:The question is, how do a group of minds perceive the same things?

?? How is pit ossible to know if others/minds actually perceive the same things? From the perceiver’s subjective view, he cannot know if others actually perceive the same perceptions as he. He can’t perceive their perceptions. The best he can do is perceive the hearsay; he can perceive the hearing of their voices claiming to perceive as he perceives. That’s all.


Jägerbombastic wrote:And if our consciousness is not real than wouldn't that mean you are using your conscious to deny your conscious is real therefore proving it to be real (Cogito ergo sum)?

Well, to be accurate, it is the “experiencing” (not the consciousness) that is certain and undeniable. -- Descartes experienced thoughts, therefore Descartes existed.



what I'm saying is, if we really are brains in vats than how do we know that we know of the same events? lets say there's two people who know about the presidential election when it ends, person 1 knows that person 2 know about it, and person 2 knows that person 1 knows about it. why if we aren't able to know what other people know, do these two people know that the other know of the same events?
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Re: Is Consciousness an Illusion?

Postby Serpent on May 2nd, 2016, 3:40 pm 

Old Rasputin » May 2nd, 2016, 2:06 pm wrote:[ You can't have an illusion without a something that experiences the illusion.]
Yes, I absolutely agree. But who/what is this “something”? Who/what is this mystery “experiencer” that does the “experiencing” (of this illusion)?

The speaker; the seeker, the protagonist. The one who asks the question.
But can’t this “experiencer” be the physical body (/brain) itself??

Of course it is. A big, convoluted brain can experience a wider range of phenomena than a little smooth one. Chances are, nematodes never ask this question, and probably dream in b&w. So?
Otherwise, interposing and identifying the “mind” as this mystery “experiencer” only creates problems. In fact it seems to create the very mentioned, “tail-eating snake” impossibility scenario.

Only if you decide to see that as a problem.
Turbulence is what happens when heat rises off the ocean and agitates air molecules. If you want to make a mystery out of wind, ignore the ocean and the air.
'Mind' is just a convenient term for something a brain does.
The concept of a “mind” is very troubling.

All the time, or just in moments of extreme idleness? If it were as troublesome as all that, there wouldn't be 7+billion other people thinking about a billion other problems at this very moment.
What is a mind, and how does it relate to the body?

It's not a thing; it's a result. Mind is one of the phenomena you can observe when a brain is receiving enough oxygen, nutrients and electrolytes. Withhold any of those, and the patient 'loses his mind': it no longer works to specifications.
Is the mind the “controller” of the body?

Hardly! We're not even aware of 96% or so of our physical machinery, unless its malfunctioning. The brain is doing all that in the egine room, while mind sits in the wheelhouse, thinking up rhymes for 'orange'.
If so, then what “controls” the mind?

Where in the owner's manual does it say that the mind needs controlling?
...Once we accept the notion of a mind as a controller (or experiencer)

Are those terms, or for that matter, those hypothetical characters, interchangeable? Can an experiencer - which would seem, semantically, passive - and a controller, which would seem active, be both at the same time?
... then we accept an endless impossible “tail-eating snake” scenario (the snake eats the tail of the snake who eats the tail of the snake…).

In that case, it's a bad idea to accept that notion. I don't, and I sleep like a..... Well, okay, like a geezer with lots of malfunctioning parts.
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Re: Is Consciousness an Illusion?

Postby Old Rasputin on May 2nd, 2016, 5:11 pm 

Jägerbombastic wrote:what I'm saying is, if we really are brains in vats than how do we know that we know of the same events? lets say there's two people who know about the presidential election when it ends, person 1 knows that person 2 know about it, and person 2 knows that person 1 knows about it. why if we aren't able to know what other people know, do these two people know that the other know of the same events?

We don’t know! We exist independently in each of our own subjective worlds. You (and your knowing of the presidential election) exist purely in my imagination as a collection of sensory experiences, …and vice versa. If we are BIV’s, then the mad scientist that is prodding our brains with the electrical probes is the one creating the perceptions (sensory experiences) of you knowing what I know (to me) and of me knowing what you know (to you).

We have no way of knowing if we are BIV’s, or hallucinating, dreaming, or if the objects that we perceive are real in any sense. We are limited and can’t see past our own (subjective) perceptions.
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Re: Is Consciousness an Illusion?

Postby Old Rasputin on May 2nd, 2016, 5:15 pm 

Serpent » May 2nd, 2016, 3:40 pm wrote:
Old Rasputin » May 2nd, 2016, 2:06 pm wrote:[ You can't have an illusion without a something that experiences the illusion.]
Yes, I absolutely agree. But who/what is this “something”? Who/what is this mystery “experiencer” that does the “experiencing” (of this illusion)?

The speaker; the seeker, the protagonist. The one who asks the question.
But can’t this “experiencer” be the physical body (/brain) itself??

Of course it is. A big, convoluted brain can experience a wider range of phenomena than a little smooth one. Chances are, nematodes never ask this question, and probably dream in b&w. So?
Otherwise, interposing and identifying the “mind” as this mystery “experiencer” only creates problems. In fact it seems to create the very mentioned, “tail-eating snake” impossibility scenario.

Only if you decide to see that as a problem.
Turbulence is what happens when heat rises off the ocean and agitates air molecules. If you want to make a mystery out of wind, ignore the ocean and the air.
'Mind' is just a convenient term for something a brain does.
The concept of a “mind” is very troubling.

All the time, or just in moments of extreme idleness? If it were as troublesome as all that, there wouldn't be 7+billion other people thinking about a billion other problems at this very moment.
What is a mind, and how does it relate to the body?

It's not a thing; it's a result. Mind is one of the phenomena you can observe when a brain is receiving enough oxygen, nutrients and electrolytes. Withhold any of those, and the patient 'loses his mind': it no longer works to specifications.
Is the mind the “controller” of the body?

Hardly! We're not even aware of 96% or so of our physical machinery, unless its malfunctioning. The brain is doing all that in the egine room, while mind sits in the wheelhouse, thinking up rhymes for 'orange'.
If so, then what “controls” the mind?

Where in the owner's manual does it say that the mind needs controlling?
...Once we accept the notion of a mind as a controller (or experiencer)

Are those terms, or for that matter, those hypothetical characters, interchangeable? Can an experiencer - which would seem, semantically, passive - and a controller, which would seem active, be both at the same time?
... then we accept an endless impossible “tail-eating snake” scenario (the snake eats the tail of the snake who eats the tail of the snake…).

In that case, it's a bad idea to accept that notion. I don't, and I sleep like a..... Well, okay, like a geezer with lots of malfunctioning parts.

Serpent, so are you saying that Consciousness is NOT an illusion? ...or are you saying it is??
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Re: Is Consciousness an Illusion?

Postby Serpent on May 2nd, 2016, 7:35 pm 

Old Rasputin » May 2nd, 2016, 4:15 pm wrote:Serpent, so are you saying that Consciousness is NOT an illusion? ...or are you saying it is??

Neither.
What good would it do an animal to hallucinate its own consciousness? Would it help the animal himself in any way? Would it serve the creator of the animal, supposing it had a creator?

In biology, useless things do not evolve into bigger and more complicated useless things. It takes a lot of energy to sustain the big brain of a big ape; if all that brain produced was daydreams, a lot of food (not to mention arduous competition for the privilege of reproducing) would have been wasted for millions of years.

Consciousness is a word. People have used it to designate all the self-reflexive, self-admiring, self-flagellating, self-absorbed cogitating humans do. It was never a thing, with a physical existence; it was only ever a concept; a collective term for the mental activity of which we are aware.

You can't imagine (or question, or examine or hallucinate) your consciousness when you're unconscious, but it seems to resume, all unperturbed, when the anesthesia wears off. So, no, it's not an illusion that we are conscious; it's an illusion (or conceit, or misunderstanding, or obfuscation, or - most likely - a semantic game) that we have a consciousness. It doesn't exist; it happens.
If it's not working, you can't experience the illusion. If it is, you don't need the illusion.
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Re: Is Consciousness an Illusion?

Postby Braininvat on May 2nd, 2016, 7:51 pm 

As a brain in a vat, I am only too happy to recuse myself from this discussion. I could say it's giving me a headache, but since I have no head, that statement is suspect. I do take issue with the imputation that the scientist who is tasked with stimulating my brain is mad. Indeed, Bob and his colleagues are nice people who are allowing many of us to keep living comfortably after the end of fossil fuels, and the agricultural production it allowed, in 2043. There was no way to sustain billions of bodies, after that, so many of us chose envatment, and the chance to live in a simulation of pre-catastrophe times. Was my choice free? Well, it was this or starve to death while fending off bandits and cannibals, so not so much.

It is helpful to break down umbrella words like consciousness into more specific processes. I think the illusion question is then more easily resolved.
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Re: Is Consciousness an Illusion?

Postby Serpent on May 2nd, 2016, 7:54 pm 

A vat-ache?
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Re: Is Consciousness an Illusion?

Postby Jägerbombastic on May 3rd, 2016, 4:33 pm 



hahaha clever
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Re: Is Consciousness an Illusion?

Postby henriette on May 4th, 2016, 3:53 am 

Dear,
Can we not consider instead that the image is the consciousness itself ?
If we draw on the comment by Neri , namely
In any event (as I already pointed out), no illusion can exist except as the object of a conscious mind
. then the question of illusion becomes aporetics because it requires a subject , the conscious mind, that is arguably deluded by its perceptions. Instead, equating image with awareness helps to overcome this chicken and egg issue.
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Re: Is Consciousness an Illusion?

Postby Old Rasputin on May 4th, 2016, 12:04 pm 

henriette wrote: …then the question of illusion becomes aporetics because it requires a subject , the conscious mind, that is arguably deluded by its perceptions.

This seems to beg the question. Henriette, aren’t you (and Neri) presupposing the existence of a “conscious mind”? And then presuming that the "experiencing" (of this illusion) requires this "conscious mind"?

I agree that the experiencing requires an experiencer; a “subject”, BUT, why presume that this subject must be a “conscious mind”?

Can’t a non-conscious, mindless subject, experience by itself? (...without the need for an intermediary/middle-man/“conscious mind”).

For example, can a non-conscious mindless "worm" experience something (pain maybe?) as its body is punctured onto a fishing hook? Does it react/squiggle violently when doing so? If so, then it must be experiencing something to cause it to react accordingly, true?

Again, I ask:
1. Can a non-conscious subject experience??
2. What makes a subject conscious?

It seems to me, that we have added an "imaginary middle-man" to help explain the phenomena of experiencing, so as to provide us a temporary stop-gap satisfaction, ...similar to evoking a God as the creator of all things, ...answering one unanswerable question with another.

Maybe the simplest answer is the correct answer. -- The body/brain can experience just fine by itself, and without the need of an imaginary/illusionary middle-man named "consciousness".
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Re: Is Consciousness an Illusion?

Postby Braininvat on May 4th, 2016, 1:14 pm 



I call it a "vache" for short, when it feels like a cow is sitting on my head.
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Re: Is Consciousness an Illusion?

Postby neuro on May 4th, 2016, 1:29 pm 

Old Rasputin » May 4th, 2016, 5:04 pm wrote:Again, I ask:
1. Can a non-conscious subject experience??
2. What makes a subject conscious?


I would like to try and give a simplistic and schematic answer to these two questions, which I agree are fundamental.

1. A "subject", independently of its being conscious, can "experience"; we can detect this from the outside given it produces some reaction to a stimulus (or whatever) it "experiences".
Then the problem becomes that of defining what "experiencing" means.

We generally believe that experiencing implies some form of subjectivity (qualia and all that stuff).
Such "subjectivity" could be defined as the capability of attributing a meaning (some kind of relevance) to the experienced stimulus.
The more structured such meaning is (relevance to survival, to well being, to an internal representation of reality, to strategical planning, to the internal image of the self...) the more we like to use the term subjectivity, and the more we tend to call this process of attribution of meaning a "perception" and an "act of consciousness".

Which leads us to question 2.

2. What makes a subject conscious?
I'd say, in line with the above, the "capability of attributing some meaning" to a stimulus that comes from the outside through the senses (or, by the same token, to some internal activity, either somatic or neural, affective, cognitive).

Which leads us to a simple view:
Tell me what degree of complexity the meaning - attributed by a system to an external or internal event - must have in order for that system to be called "conscious" and I'll tell you who (and what) is conscious and who (and what) is not.

This, I think, is the central question in all these debates about consciousness.
Nobody ever sets a clear threshold to establish what is the degree of meaning attribution that is required in order to be able to talk of "subjectivity" and "consciousness".

A worm can attribute a value for its own survival (a meaning) to a stimulus. It does not need an internal representation of reality and of the self to do so. But it does, because it reacts by protecting its own survival.
Is it conscious? it depends whether such level of "meaning" (relevance to mere survival) is enough.

A person can generally attribute a value (meaning) to any external or internal event in terms of relevance for their own survival, pleasure, well-being, physiologic fitness, psychological well-being, affective needs, interpersonal and social needs, personal, familial, social, political status, aesthetic sensibility, ethical ideals, need for transcendence, and all this as of now and referred to a close or remote future. A very complex "meaning", strictly connected to all the aspects of their internal image of reality, of themselves, of the self as a diachronic unit with a past history and a perspective of a future history.

Please, somebody tell me which of these numerous aspects must (and which needn't) be present in the meaning a subject attributes to events, for us to consider him/her/it conscious, and I may try to tell you whether he/her/it is or is not "conscious".
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Re: Is Consciousness an Illusion?

Postby Serpent on May 4th, 2016, 1:54 pm 

To be conscious is to experience; that which experiences is conscious; an experiencing consciousness is a subject. Every chicken contains eggs, even while the embryonic chicken itself is still in an egg.
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Re: Is Consciousness an Illusion?

Postby Old Rasputin on May 4th, 2016, 4:58 pm 

.
Thank you Neuro for the well thought out and interesting response. Here are my comments to your good response:

neuro wrote:
Old Rasputin wrote:1. Can a non-conscious subject experience??

1. A "subject", independently of its being conscious, can "experience"; we can detect this from the outside given it produces some reaction to a stimulus (or whatever) it "experiences".

Agreed. -- In essence, experiencing is an “effect”, supposedly resulting from its “cause” (the stimulus). An important note to add -- Subjects can only experience “effects”, …not “causes”. The causes can only be speculated, …since they are never actually experienced themselves.


neuro wrote:
Old Rasputin wrote:2. What makes a subject conscious?

We generally believe that experiencing implies some form of subjectivity (qualia and all that stuff).

Such "subjectivity" could be defined as the capability of attributing a meaning (some kind of relevance) to the experienced stimulus.

The more structured such meaning is (relevance to survival, to well being, to an internal representation of reality, to strategically planning, to the internal image of the self...) the more we like to use the term subjectivity, and the more we tend to call this process of attribution of meaning a "perception" and an "act of consciousness".

I'd say, in line with the above, the "capability of attributing some meaning" to a stimulus that comes from the outside through the senses (or, by the same token, to some internal activity, either somatic or neural, affective, cognitive).

This is the interesting part.

I interpret your words -"capability of attributing some meaning" to mean the “ability to know”. In other words, to “attribute meaning” would first require that there exist some prior experience from which to draw upon, compare to, or associate with (...relative to the current experience - sensory or other), so as to derive "meaning".

This act of “attributing meaning” would therefore require “memory” (of past experiences), so as to have the "ability to know", i.e. to have the "capability of attributing some meaning".

So essentially, here is how I interpret your words: --- “Consciousness” is the "knowing" what we experience, as opposed to the "experiencing" what we experience.

Many subjects (including “worms”) can experience, but not many can “know” they experience. The ones that “know”, are the ones that are considered “conscious subjects”, …true?

***
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Re: Is Consciousness an Illusion?

Postby Old Rasputin on May 4th, 2016, 5:41 pm 

Serpent wrote:...that which experiences is conscious...

Are worms conscious?
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Re: Is Consciousness an Illusion?

Postby Serpent on May 4th, 2016, 6:23 pm 

Old Rasputin » May 4th, 2016, 4:41 pm wrote:
Serpent wrote:...that which experiences is conscious...

Are worms conscious?

Of course. Except when chloroformed.
Awareness is not restricted to narcissistic species.
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