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 Braininvat on May 4th, 2016, 6:42 pm 

"Are worms conscious?" - OR


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



I would have trouble asserting worm consciousness. Is a thermostat then conscious? It seems to experience changes in temperature in the house and respond to them with actions to optimize a stable internal environment.
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Re: Is Consciousness an Illusion?

Postby Serpent on May 4th, 2016, 8:00 pm 

Braininvat » May 4th, 2016, 5:42 pm wrote:I would have trouble asserting worm consciousness. Is a thermostat then conscious? It seems to experience changes in temperature in the house and respond to them with actions to optimize a stable internal environment.

You can't tell the difference between a living organism and a man-made device?
If we posit evolution as true, what did a thermostat evolve from?
If we posit evolution as true, every stage between kelp and Einstein is a mere increment, not a change of state.
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Re: Is Consciousness an Illusion?

Postby Old Rasputin on May 5th, 2016, 11:17 am 

Serpent wrote:To be conscious is to experience; that which experiences is conscious…

So then what differentiates “consciousness” from “experiencing”?

...or are they one-in-the-same?
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Re: Is Consciousness an Illusion?

Postby Braininvat on May 5th, 2016, 12:36 pm 

Serpent » May 4th, 2016, 5:00 pm wrote:
Braininvat » May 4th, 2016, 5:42 pm wrote:I would have trouble asserting worm consciousness. Is a thermostat then conscious? It seems to experience changes in temperature in the house and respond to them with actions to optimize a stable internal environment.

You can't tell the difference between a living organism and a man-made device?
If we posit evolution as true, what did a thermostat evolve from?
If we posit evolution as true, every stage between kelp and Einstein is a mere increment, not a change of state.


I think I was going for a "reductio ad absurdum" to make the point that we have to be careful in using attributive language when talking about relatively simple things. Worms seem pretty simple to me. If you take two things, one manmade and the other evolved, and find the same level of complexity in how they sense their evironment and respond to it, how do you assume one is conscious but the other isn't? Watson (the IBM supercomputer, not the artist who lives in Ontario) is more complex in its information processing than an earthworm but do you think he is conscious? Now, if we say that Watson also arose by increments from Charles Babbage's difference engine, do we have to pinpoint a spot where that consciousness emerged? Or would the emergence be gradual, like a dark room slowly lighting up in the morning?
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Re: Is Consciousness an Illusion?

Postby neuro on May 5th, 2016, 12:37 pm 

Old Rasputin » May 5th, 2016, 4:17 pm wrote:
Serpent wrote:To be conscious is to experience; that which experiences is conscious…

So then what differentiates “consciousness” from “experiencing”?

...or are they one-in-the-same?

It depends on your way of defining consciousness.

What degree of complexity must be present in one's experiencing to define it consciousness?

Is enacting a response sufficient?
Is attributing to the experience a relevance for survival sufficient?
Is being able to (recall a past experience and) compare the relevance of the current experience with that of a past experience sufficient?
Is being able to (imagine a future experience and) compare the relevance of the current experience with that of a possible future experience sufficient?
Is being able to compare the physiological relevance of an experience to its social, or aesthetic, or ethical relevance sufficient?
Is being able to do the same with respect to a past experience sufficient?
Is being able to do the same with respect to a possible future experience sufficient?
Is being able to do the same with the presumable experience by somebody else sufficient?
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Re: Is Consciousness an Illusion?

Postby Serpent on May 5th, 2016, 2:09 pm 

Braininvat » May 5th, 2016, 11:36 am wrote:I think I was going for a "reductio ad absurdum" to make the point that we have to be careful in using attributive language when talking about relatively simple things. Worms seem pretty simple to me.

They're simple compared to dolphins, but complex compared to thermostats. Given a blueprint for each, which can you build more successfully?
Relative complexity is not the distinction; the distinction is biology vs. engineering. Nobody, walking in the woods and finding a watch would assume it fell off a tree.
If you take two things, one manmade and the other evolved, and find the same level of complexity in how they sense their evironment and respond to it, how do you assume one is conscious but the other isn't?

By the lines. You might be able to trace the evolution of Watson back toward his temperature-sensor forebears and identify the exact innovation/implementation that shoved it over the line from purely mechanical to conscious entity. If Watson were a conscious entity.
You can trace your animal forebears backward to the worm. But you can draw only the most approximate and arbitrary line between conscious and unconscious. Past philosophers have put that line firmly under H. sapiens, excluding dogs and elephants (thus making them morally okay to torture) - a pov with which I strongly disagree.
So, I draw a thin, fuzzy line - subject to change, any time I learn something relevant - under a nerve ganglion that can be called a brain. (This lets me eat plants with relative peace of mind.)
Now, if we say that Watson also arose by increments from Charles Babbage's difference engine, do we have to pinpoint a spot where that consciousness emerged? Or would the emergence be gradual, like a dark room slowly lighting up in the morning?

Every intervention has been planned, deliberate and documented. If you posit that Watson is already conscious, you should be able to pinpoint exactly how and when it happened. If he is no, watch for critical changes in his behaviour.
The key symptom: he wants something.
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Re: Is Consciousness an Illusion?

Postby Serpent on May 5th, 2016, 2:20 pm 

Old Rasputin » May 5th, 2016, 10:17 am wrote:
Serpent wrote:To be conscious is to experience; that which experiences is conscious…

So then what differentiates “consciousness” from “experiencing”?

...or are they one-in-the-same?

I thought I was pretty clear on this. YES.
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Re: Is Consciousness an Illusion?

Postby Old Rasputin on May 5th, 2016, 5:40 pm 

neuro wrote:
Old Rasputin wrote:So then what differentiates “consciousness” from “experiencing”?

It depends on your way of defining consciousness. What degree of complexity must be present in one's experiencing to define it consciousness?

Is enacting a response sufficient?
Is attributing to the experience a relevance for survival sufficient?
Is being able to (recall a past experience and) compare the relevance of the current experience with that of a past experience sufficient?
Is being able to (imagine a future experience and) compare the relevance of the current experience with that of a possible future experience sufficient?
Is being able to compare the physiological relevance of an experience to its social, or aesthetic, or ethical relevance sufficient?
Is being able to do the same with respect to a past experience sufficient?
Is being able to do the same with respect to a possible future experience sufficient?
Is being able to do the same with the presumable experience by somebody else sufficient?

This seems to imply that consciousness, or one’s understanding of, is a function of complexity, ...further implying that it is illusionary.

The “complexity”, in each of the above examples, is due to the variation and quantity of the individual experiences within each example, …true?

So then, does this “complexity” (of experiencing) create an illusion of “consciousness”? …or a realness of consciousness?

For example, when rolling a die across the table, it is the “complexity” (quantity and varying) of forces acting upon the die, that give the illusion of “randomness”, when in actuality, there is no randomness, but instead, just a bunch of individual physics occurring (too much for us to keep track of). The same goes with a coin flip or breaking a rack of billiard balls.

Isn't it "complexity" that creates the illusion of "randomness"? And likewise, is it also possible that "complexity" can create the illusion of "consciousness"?
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Re: Is Consciousness an Illusion?

Postby Serpent on May 5th, 2016, 10:09 pm 

Define illusion. Describe what it is and how it works. The answer is in that word.
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Re: Is Consciousness an Illusion?

Postby neuro on May 6th, 2016, 3:44 am 

Old Rasputin » May 5th, 2016, 10:40 pm wrote:Isn't it "complexity" that creates the illusion of "randomness"? And likewise, is it also possible that "complexity" can create the illusion of "consciousness"?


Interesting perspective.
It seems to me that by "illusion" you mean the fallacious impression that we are looking at something else when we are instead looking at the same old story.

Which is probably a rather accurate description of our discussion about consciousness: we cannot draw a precise line because the quantitative differences seem to introduce a qualitative jump (is this the illusion?) at a certain point (but at which point we do not appear to be able to say).

Still, I think this line of thought is not particularly promising: in this perspective, almost any WORD we coin is an "illusion", in that it pretends it indicates something very specific and novel, whereas that something is often not so different from something else to justify coining a new word (consciousness, awareness, capability to sense, to perceive, experiencing, subjectivity...)
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Re: Is Consciousness an Illusion?

Postby Old Rasputin on May 6th, 2016, 10:08 am 

Serpent wrote:Define illusion. Describe what it is and how it works. The answer is in that word.

Serpent, sorry there is no contradiction, nor tail-eating snake here with my usage of “illusion”. My definition/examples:

Illusion -- imaginary; a non-real, non-existent thing or event.

Example 1 -- Bob experiences the illusion of pink flying elephants.
Example 2 -- After reading my post, Serpent experiences the illusion of a contradiction. :-)

Both of these illusions are imaginary (not-real). There are no pink flying elephants, nor contradictions.


Old Rasputin wrote:Isn't it "complexity" that creates the illusion of "randomness"? And likewise, is it also possible that "complexity" can create the illusion of "consciousness"?

neuro wrote:It seems to me that by "illusion" you mean the fallacious impression that we are looking at something else when we are instead looking at the same old story.

Close, ...see my definition in the above response to Serpent.

neuro wrote:Which is probably a rather accurate description of our discussion about consciousness: we cannot draw a precise line because the quantitative differences seem to introduce a qualitative jump (is this the illusion?) at a certain point (but at which point we do not appear to be able to say).

Neuro, yes, but I am also saying that there has to be something MORE than just "complexity" (…more than just increasing the number, or types, of experiences packed into a small increment of time). There needs to be a new ingredient to create something new.

Otherwise, all we really have is a bunch of experiences that yield the perception (illusion!) of consciousness.

"Complexity" is not enough to convert a group of experiences into the "real" (non-illusionary) phenomena of consciousness. There has to be something more!

Agreed?
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Re: Is Consciousness an Illusion?

Postby Serpent on May 6th, 2016, 7:10 pm 

Old Rasputin » May 6th, 2016, 9:08 am wrote:
Serpent wrote:Define illusion. Describe what it is and how it works. The answer is in that word.

Serpent, sorry there is no contradiction, nor tail-eating snake here with my usage of “illusion”. My definition/examples:

Illusion -- imaginary; a non-real, non-existent thing or event.

And this can take place in the absence of conscious agent?

Example 1 -- Bob experiences the illusion of pink flying elephants.

How do you know Bob experienced anything? Can you know this from an unbiased external source?
Or did Bob tell you? In order for him to communicate this event, he must have been aware of it taking place, identified its nature, recorded the experience and transcribed it to intelligible human language.
I submit that this sequence of actions require Bob to have been conscious.

Example 2 -- After reading my post, Serpent experiences the illusion of a contradiction. :-)

You may have hallucinated this part. I won't know fur sure, unless you are sufficiently conscious and verbal* to confirm.
(* written on patient's chart to indicate full recovery from general anesthesis)

Both of these illusions are imaginary (not-real). There are no pink flying elephants, nor contradictions.

You didn't explain how it works.
Without a real agent outside of the unreal event, to do the imagining, hallucinating, self-deluding, dreaming or whatever mental activity one must perform in order to produce an illusion, there is no distinction between real an unreal. If there is a real agent to do it, the act of creating an illusion requires him to be conscious.
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Re: Is Consciousness an Illusion?

Postby neuro on May 7th, 2016, 7:34 am 

Old Rasputin » May 6th, 2016, 3:08 pm wrote:There needs to be a new ingredient to create something new.

Otherwise, all we really have is a bunch of experiences that yield the perception (illusion!) of consciousness.
...
Agreed?


Not quite:
"all we really have is a bunch of experiences that" - because of their multiplicity, complexity and autonomy - looks so different that we come to coin a dedicated word and call it consciousness.

Maybe, the autonomy aspect (which, however, is not an all-or none feature) is the "something more" you are looking for.
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Re: Is Consciousness an Illusion?

Postby Old Rasputin on May 7th, 2016, 9:47 am 

Serpent » May 6th, 2016, 7:10 pm wrote:
Old Rasputin » May 6th, 2016, 9:08 am wrote:
Serpent wrote:Define illusion. Describe what it is and how it works. The answer is in that word.

Serpent, sorry there is no contradiction, nor tail-eating snake here with my usage of “illusion”. My definition/examples:

Illusion -- imaginary; a non-real, non-existent thing or event.

And this can take place in the absence of conscious agent?

Example 1 -- Bob experiences the illusion of pink flying elephants.

How do you know Bob experienced anything? Can you know this from an unbiased external source?
Or did Bob tell you? In order for him to communicate this event, he must have been aware of it taking place, identified its nature, recorded the experience and transcribed it to intelligible human language.
I submit that this sequence of actions require Bob to have been conscious.

Example 2 -- After reading my post, Serpent experiences the illusion of a contradiction. :-)

You may have hallucinated this part. I won't know fur sure, unless you are sufficiently conscious and verbal* to confirm.
(* written on patient's chart to indicate full recovery from general anesthesis)

Both of these illusions are imaginary (not-real). There are no pink flying elephants, nor contradictions.

You didn't explain how it works.
Without a real agent outside of the unreal event, to do the imagining, hallucinating, self-deluding, dreaming or whatever mental activity one must perform in order to produce an illusion, there is no distinction between real an unreal. If there is a real agent to do it, the act of creating an illusion requires him to be conscious.

Serpent, with all these questions, it's seems that you are pre-assuming that "experiencing" requires "consciousness". You are starting with a flawed premise.

Why can't the body "experience" for itself? Why the need for an imaginary friend/middle-man (called "consciousness" or "mind")?

If consciousness is required for the body to experience, then who "experiences" for this "consciousness"? Does he also require a separate consciousness for him??
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Re: Is Consciousness an Illusion?

Postby Old Rasputin on May 7th, 2016, 9:48 am 

neuro » May 7th, 2016, 7:34 am wrote:
Old Rasputin » May 6th, 2016, 3:08 pm wrote:There needs to be a new ingredient to create something new.

Otherwise, all we really have is a bunch of experiences that yield the perception (illusion!) of consciousness.
...
Agreed?


Not quite:
"all we really have is a bunch of experiences that" - because of their multiplicity, complexity and autonomy - looks so different that we come to coin a dedicated word and call it consciousness.

Maybe, the autonomy aspect (which, however, is not an all-or none feature) is the "something more" you are looking for.

Interesting, I need to think more on this one.
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Re: Is Consciousness an Illusion?

Postby Serpent on May 7th, 2016, 10:51 am 

Old Rasputin » May 7th, 2016, 8:47 am wrote:Serpent, with all these questions, it's seems that you are pre-assuming that "experiencing" requires "consciousness". You are starting with a flawed premise.


Not so much a flawed premise as a sound definition http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/experience
" experience: a : direct observation of or participation in events as a basis of knowledge; b : the fact or state of having been affected by or gained knowledge through direct observation or participation"

Why can't the body "experience" for itself?

It can and does. But you can't know or talk about that experience without the cognitive organ in waking mode.
Why the need for an imaginary friend/middle-man (called "consciousness" or "mind")?

Thus: " imaginary: : not real : existing only in your mind or imagination" ? If something is to be un-real, there must first have been a real for it to be the negation of; it's hard for an imaginary mind to imagine existing only within itself.

If consciousness is required for the body to experience, then who "experiences" for this "consciousness"? Does he also require a separate consciousness for him??

Consciousness is required for the thinking, talking, typing, hyping entity to consider all of its experiences, physical, emotional and intellectual. There is nothing separate. Remove the nerves and the body ceases to experience. Remove the big neural ganglion on top, and all experience ceases.

The only reason you can make three pages of frantic hay out of this question is want of a link to Webster.
Now you have it.http://www.merriam-webster.com/ My bandolier is empty.
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Re: Is Consciousness an Illusion?

Postby Old Rasputin on May 8th, 2016, 11:27 am 

Serpent wrote:
Old Rasputin wrote:Why can't the body "experience" for itself?

It can and does. But you can't know or talk about that experience without the cognitive organ in waking mode.

So then, do you agree with my earlier comment? (shown below) --
Old Rasputin wrote: 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").




neuro wrote:
Old Rasputin wrote:Otherwise, all we really have is a bunch of experiences that…

…because of their multiplicity, complexity and autonomy - looks so different that we come to coin a dedicated word and call it consciousness.

Maybe, the autonomy aspect (which, however, is not an all-or none feature) is the "something more" you are looking for.

I can understand the “multiplicity and complexity”, but what actually is this “autonomy”?

Isn’t this autonomy, or to more accurately restate… Isn’t this feeling of autonomy, an experience in-itself? In other words, just another experience to add to the group of experiences?
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Re: Is Consciousness an Illusion?

Postby neuro on May 9th, 2016, 3:01 am 

Rasputin,
if you get back from "autonomy" to feeling of autonomy you are circling around: the question remains about "feeling".

I introduced "autonomy" because one thing that is generally underevaluated in a well-developed brain (and in particular in human brain) is that it is not a black box that reacts to external stimuli: it has endogenous - "creative" - activity, in that even in the absence of any external input it keeps elaborating: neurons in the brain never stop firing (elaborating information) and if a brain is sufficiently developed it will have a lot of "internal" information to elaborate, and this endogenous activity (based on reviving memory and imagination) constitutes a major fraction of overall activity.
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Re: Is Consciousness an Illusion?

Postby Old Rasputin on May 10th, 2016, 12:17 am 

Neuro, thanks for the good stuff (food for thought). I am still struggling with this word “autonomy”. If “autonomy” means “self-controlling”, then this seems to be an impossibility.

This seems to be similar to Serpent’s tail-eating snake scenario, whereas in this case, the brain creates the (autonomous) mind that in-turn controls the brain (and the resulting actions of the body). It is like a generator that powers the motor which in-turn drives the generator; an impossible perpetual motion apparatus. It is like plugging an extension cord into itself to get free electricity (...which can't happen).

Or another way of looking at this is to ask what controls the controller? (If the controller controls the brain that controls the body, then what controls this controller?) What ever it is, then the next question would be, then what controls the controller of the controller?

Sorry, but true autonomy seems to be an impossibility.
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Re: Is Consciousness an Illusion?

Postby neuro on May 14th, 2016, 4:40 am 

well, Rasputin,
I'd leave control out of it - free will and all that stuff...

I could not find a better word to try and indicate the endogenous origin of most of the activity that characterizes our consciousness.
This does not mean that I "control" my mind (and the thoughts that arise in it), it simply means that most of the activity of my mind is not responsive to external clues, stimuli and events, and rather follows a course which is "autonomous" from the outside events. My impression is that this particular feature is what gives it the flavour ("illusion"?) of consciousness.
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Re: Is Consciousness an Illusion?

Postby marcellarjones on May 24th, 2016, 3:58 am 

Consciousness is itself a dream. How can we prove that we are not in a dream now. You could understand the point I want to make from the movie "Inception".
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Re: Is Consciousness an Illusion?

Postby Serpent on May 24th, 2016, 9:26 am 

If a bunch of sleepwalkers made a movie for a sleeping audience, how would you know you were not dreaming that you watched a movie? And if you are dreaming a movie, how reasonable is it to expect other people to dream the same movie?
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Re: Is Consciousness an Illusion?

Postby Old Rasputin on May 24th, 2016, 10:45 am 

marcellarjones wrote:How can we prove that we are not in a dream now?

We can’t.


Serpent wrote:And if you are dreaming a movie, how reasonable is it to expect other people to dream the same movie?

One can only dream that others dream the same movie. :-P
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Re: Is Consciousness an Illusion?

Postby Serpent on May 24th, 2016, 9:59 pm 

Old Rasputin » May 24th, 2016, 9:45 am wrote:One can only dream that others dream the same movie. :-P

If you are dreaming your life, you don't know whether there are "others" at all. Why would you reference a movie for them?
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Re: Is Consciousness an Illusion?

Postby uninfinite on May 25th, 2016, 7:10 am 

Consciousness is not merely experiencing - or knowing, but knowing that you're knowing; so the mechanistic response to stimuli of earthworms and thermostats are not consciousness, because while there is experiencing of a sort, there is not experiencing of experience. A good analogy is getting goosepimples walking into a cold room. You react, but do not consciously react. A key experiment from study of animal behaviour is showing an animal a mirror, and from its behaviours determining if it recognizes the reflection as itself. Most dogs do, cats don't, monkeys don't, but chimpanzees, higher order apes and some birds do. They recognize the reflection as themselves because they have a sense of self, an inner self able to reflect upon experience. Lesser animals merely see another animal and respond to it accordingly.
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Re: Is Consciousness an Illusion?

Postby Old Rasputin on May 25th, 2016, 10:33 am 

Old Rasputin wrote:
marcellarjones wrote:How can we prove that we are not in a dream now?

We can’t.

Old Rasputin wrote:
Serpent wrote:And if you are dreaming a movie, how reasonable is it to expect other people to dream the same movie?

One can only dream that others dream the same movie. :-P

Serpent wrote:If you are dreaming your life, you don't know whether there are "others" at all. Why would you reference a movie for them?

…maybe one is dreaming that he is not dreaming.
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Re: Is Consciousness an Illusion?

Postby Old Rasputin on May 25th, 2016, 11:10 am 

unifinite wrote:Consciousness is not merely experiencing - or knowing, but knowing that you're knowing; so the mechanistic response to stimuli of earthworms and thermostats are not consciousness, because while there is experiencing of a sort, there is not experiencing of experience. A good analogy is getting goose pimples walking into a cold room. You react, but do not consciously react. A key experiment from study of animal behaviour is showing an animal a mirror, and from its behaviours determining if it recognizes the reflection as itself. Most dogs do, cats don't, monkeys don't, but chimpanzees, higher order apes and some birds do. They recognize the reflection as themselves because they have a sense of self, an inner self able to reflect upon experience. Lesser animals merely see another animal and respond to it accordingly.

Aren’t ALL experiences (including the “conscious” ones) “mechanistic responses”? Aren’t all experiences just “effects” or “happenings”?

Isn’t the consciousness (or the “knowing”) of an experience really just an AFTER-effect? For we can’t be conscious, or know, of something until after that something happens, …right? One follows the other.

If we follow the chronological events as they actually happen, then the experience always precedes the consciousness (the knowing) of said experience.

If so, then we don't/can’t actually “consciously react”, but instead we just “consciously experience the reaction”. I know this sounds minor, but it is important that we keep our chronological events in its actual order, ...so as not to confuse "effects" as "causers".

Also, isn’t the “experiencing of [an] experience” still just an experience? …and isn't “recognition” also just an experience?

So then, doesn’t this reduce consciousness to -- nothing more than experiencing?
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Re: Is Consciousness an Illusion?

Postby uninfinite on May 25th, 2016, 1:22 pm 

Old Rasputin » May 25th, 2016, 4:10 pm wrote:
unifinite wrote:Consciousness is not merely experiencing - or knowing, but knowing that you're knowing; so the mechanistic response to stimuli of earthworms and thermostats are not consciousness, because while there is experiencing of a sort, there is not experiencing of experience. A good analogy is getting goose pimples walking into a cold room. You react, but do not consciously react. A key experiment from study of animal behaviour is showing an animal a mirror, and from its behaviours determining if it recognizes the reflection as itself. Most dogs do, cats don't, monkeys don't, but chimpanzees, higher order apes and some birds do. They recognize the reflection as themselves because they have a sense of self, an inner self able to reflect upon experience. Lesser animals merely see another animal and respond to it accordingly.

Aren’t ALL experiences (including the “conscious” ones) “mechanistic responses”? Aren’t all experiences just “effects” or “happenings”?

Isn’t the consciousness (or the “knowing”) of an experience really just an AFTER-effect? For we can’t be conscious, or know, of something until after that something happens, …right? One follows the other.

If we follow the chronological events as they actually happen, then the experience always precedes the consciousness (the knowing) of said experience.

If so, then we don't/can’t actually “consciously react”, but instead we just “consciously experience the reaction”. I know this sounds minor, but it is important that we keep our chronological events in its actual order, ...so as not to confuse "effects" as "causers".

Also, isn’t the “experiencing of [an] experience” still just an experience? …and isn't “recognition” also just an experience?

So then, doesn’t this reduce consciousness to -- nothing more than experiencing?



I take issue with your assertion that, for the conscious subject, the experience always precedes the knowing of said experience. I live half my life in anticipation of things to come, and the other half remembering things from the past. The chronology of events is only experienced as it occurs by an animal that has no intellectual ability to remember or anticipate - but merely reacts to stimuli immediately and automatically.

It's precisely the ability to dislocate ourselves in time, space, and in empathetic terms - that's indicative of consciousness, though perhaps not quite constitutive of consciousness. It's one part of the brain spying on another maybe, but there's something knowing - not just experiencing, that is human consciousness.

For example, this morning I washed the dishes and the water was way too hot - but I kept putting my hands into the water, because I wanted the dishes washed. The question is 'who' wanted clean dishes? It can only be the conscious self, acting in anticipation of having clean dishes - or memory of the inconvenience of not having clean dishes, that over-rode the instinctive reaction to the boiling hot water.
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Re: Is Consciousness an Illusion?

Postby Old Rasputin on May 25th, 2016, 4:37 pm 

uninfinite wrote:I take issue with your assertion that, for the conscious subject, the experience always precedes the knowing of said experience. I live half my life in anticipation of things to come, and the other half remembering things from the past.

Yes, but each and every (waking) moment in our life is an experiential moment, including those moments of experiencing memory/recognition/knowing, and experiencing anticipation, and experiencing other feelings and senses. In essence, we live moment-by-moment, one experiential event after another.

Effectively, there are no non-experiential moments, for if they did exist, we wouldn’t know it, as we couldn’t feel or sense a non-experiential moment. Therefore, our lives consist of experiencing [this], then experiencing [that] and then continuing in this manner until we no longer experience (i.e. are dead). And us humans, because we possess memory, also have the ability to experience the “knowing” of an experience, ...but not until after the experience has happened!


uninfinite wrote:The chronology of events is only experienced as it occurs by an animal that has no intellectual ability to remember or anticipate - but merely reacts to stimuli immediately and automatically.

We are no different, ...except that we have the added experience of “memory”(/knowing). And possessing this “memory” does not make us any less “experientially auto-reactive”. It is only just another experience. We, like our non-memory friends, also auto-react/respond mechanistically.


uninfinite wrote:For example, this morning I washed the dishes and the water was way too hot - but I kept putting my hands into the water, because I wanted the dishes washed.

Isn’t this reaction (to keep doing the dishes) a “mechanistic response”; an “experiential auto-reaction”, and therefore no different than that of our non-memory friends?

What I mean is, why did you react the way you did? Was it that, your want/desire to finish the dishes, was greater than your want/desire to remove your hands (from the hot water)?

If so, then aren’t you responding in accordance with your wants/desires? In other words, isn’t it the experiencing of this “want”, that controls your actions; that makes you do (react) as you do?


uninfinite wrote:The question is 'who' wanted clean dishes?

I don’t know who/what created the greater “want” that caused you to do as you did. We are just the “experiencers” of what we do (…and we don't "know" it until after we do it!).


uninfinite wrote:It can only be the conscious self, acting in anticipation of having clean dishes - or memory of the inconvenience of not having clean dishes, that over-rode the instinctive reaction to the boiling hot water.

The "conscious self" is just a notion, a perception, the object of an experience, and therefore only exists in one's imagination.

Simply put, you did the dishes because you "wanted" to. The "want" was the over-riding force compelling you to do as you did.
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Re: Is Consciousness an Illusion?

Postby DragonFly on May 26th, 2016, 11:43 am 

Good going, Old Rasputin, in explaining what I'd refer to as inputs ever giving rise to outputs everywhere, in nature and in the brain… there never being outputs without inputs (called 'random')… for consciousness as a 'first cause' wouldn't have anything to work with.

The brain's subconscious analysis takes time to produce a result, on the order of a few hundred milliseconds, and so it's all done before it surfaces into consciousness.

Along with a fixed will, we have uncovered something apparently very shocking to most of mankind but it really couldn't be any other way, and at the will least grants consistency to actions rather than we having some impossible 'random' behavior based on Nothing. The will can never be free of the will.

Since we aren't privy to the subconscious brain analysis, some might feel that their consciousness came up with thoughts and actions instantly right then and there out of the blue.

Seems the self is experience.
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