consciousness or unconsciousness?

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

Re: consciousness or unconsciousness?

Postby neuro on April 25th, 2017, 12:20 pm 

My impression is that the crux of the debate is about the concept itself of consciousness, and in particular of "conscious", since this appears to be an attribute.

It seems that in Old Rasputin's view "conscious" means "entering the conscious sphere": things happen and I might realize them (afterwards).

Others here (and Myself) see "conscious" as an attribute meaning "produced by a mental function we call consciousness". This is consistent with the phenomenological description of consciousness as a mental activity: in this view, a "conscious act" has nothing to do with performing a movement or an action; a conscious act consists in directing the lucid, explicit, intentional (in-tend = tend to, aim at) attention of our mind toward something.

In my opinion the latter is the only "useful" definition of conscious/consciousness: the fact that I happen to become aware of something (be it something that happens or an act or a decision I perform) obviously is a passive, a posteriori event. I cannot direct my intentional attention to something until this something exists.

Still I can imagine something (imagine to figure an object or situation in my mind, to make a decision, to perform an act) and this exactly is what can be defined as a properly conscious act.

Interestingly enough, a lot of mental processing occurs outside of the reach of my intentional attention (consciousness), so that many aspects of my thought (and decision making) can only be focused after they have been produced. The point, however, is a purely semantic one: selection occurs at all levels of neural processing of information, and one may
-- either look at consciousness as some kind of haphazard phenomenon (which appears to be OldR's view)
-- or as the set of all selective attention mechanisms that finally bring something within the focus of our "conscious" (intentional) attention.

I am quite convinced that the latter is the only reasonable interpretation of the term consciousness, but I do realize that one can accept this only if they accept that consciousness is not an entity but a process.
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Re: consciousness or unconsciousness?

Postby Old Rasputin on April 25th, 2017, 1:04 pm 

doogles wrote:I would like input here, but I would suggest ‘Bodily Activities’ as a more holistic term. It embraces notions such as ‘thinking’ and ‘planning’ and ‘strategising’, as well as motor activities. In addition, the term ‘unconscious’ needs to be accepted as incorporating the notions ‘subconscious’ and ‘semi-conscious’; While medically ‘unconscious’, we can’t get up to much.

I’m good with your suggestions, and have revised the definitions accordingly:

Unconscious Acts (aka “auto-piloted” acts) --- are those Bodily Activities, that if known, are not Known until AFTER they (Bodily Activities) happen.

Conscious Acts (aka “self-piloted” acts) --- are Bodily Actions that are Knowingly induced/caused.


doogles wrote:When you asked, “Where did you consciously do/cause/induce anything?”, I have to say that the activity did result in a concrete example we could discuss: I caused a concrete example of a conscious act to appear in my post by consciously thinking about the matter the moment I stopped typing.

Thoughts are just another bodily activity/reaction. Being consciously aware of one’s thoughts does not mean "consciously doing" (or creating/authoring) one’s thoughts.

Besides, "consciously thinking" (consciously creating one’s own thoughts) is logically impossible. The problem is we can’t ‘know’ what we think, or will think, until AFTER we think it. ...we can't know our thoughts BEFORE we become aware of them.


doogles wrote:I believe that vivian maxine performed a conscious act when she deliberately chose to copy a passage of text from my post and caused it to appear at the start of her post before she discussed it.

If you/Viviane look closer at all the events involved in this “deliberately chose” act, you will see that it is comprised of only awarenesses of bodily activities/actions/reactions, ...and nothing more. You will never find any “conscious doing” going on.


************

The simple bottom line is this:

Anything and everything that we are conscious of, has already happened! ...so there ain’t nothing we can “do” about it!

Reasoning: Our physical bodies are not advanced enough to transmit sensory information 'instantaneously', nor can our brain process this information 'instantaneously' into something recognizable/knowable. There is always a TIME LAG between the events in reality, and the “knowing”-of-these-events. In other words, consciousness lags reality by at least 150 milliseconds (the minimum time it takes to recognize or "know" anything)

We can’t change/control what happened yesterday, if we are just now aware of it today. And likewise, we can’t change/control any events/happenings, if we are just now aware of them 150 milliseconds later.

"Consciously doing" is impossible because the "doing" has already been done! All that's left, is for us to perceive (be "aware" of) the damage (that which has already been done).
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Re: consciousness or unconsciousness?

Postby vivian maxine on April 25th, 2017, 3:26 pm 

The whole concept has been pulled in so many directions that I wonder if any two of us are talking about the same thing. My consciousness - my awake and alert to thought - tells me to take my consciousness and go home. <G>

Seriously, I can only see consciousness as thinking what has to be or wants to be done and deciding whether and how to do it. I wake up in the morning and a switch turns on the electricity in my brain which enables me to start thinking and deciding. My actions stem from that mental activity.

That is not a good, scientific way of saying it, I know. If that isn't what consciousness is, I am using the wrong word. All these other definitions that are being tagged onto it make it something else that I do not understand. All that said, maybe we need to heed what the OP was asking about when he asked if consciousness was an illusion. I don't know where that would get us but it's a start.
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Re: consciousness or unconsciousness?

Postby Old Rasputin on April 25th, 2017, 9:33 pm 

neuro wrote:...a conscious act consists in directing the lucid, explicit, intentional (in-tend = tend to, aim at) attention of our mind toward something.

There seems to be a logical flaw in reasoning with this definition. It seems to create the very problem it supposedly addresses, by shifting the problem (the impossibility of a conscious act) to the back end.

Is this act of “directing” an unconscious act (auto-piloted), or a “conscious act”?

If you are saying that the “directing” is a “conscious act”, then we seemingly have a logical contradiction. In other words if you are saying that it takes a “conscious act” (“directing”) to ultimately create a “conscious act”, then we end up with a vicious circular argument. (...as the conscious act of directing would then require it's own conscious act of directing, and so on into infinity). Or am I missing something?

And if this "directing" is an unconscious act, then we still have a problem, as you have not identified what makes these non-conscious acts a conscious act.
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Re: consciousness or unconsciousness?

Postby doogles on April 26th, 2017, 7:03 am 

vivianmaxine, I think that if you read neuro’s post carefully, you’ll see that he supports your position and my position to some extent. He did say “... a "conscious act" has nothing to do with performing a movement or an action; a conscious act consists in directing the lucid, explicit, intentional (in-tend = tend to, aim at) attention of our mind toward something" I would debate the first part of that statement but the second part (bold) certainly applies to your intent to copy some text and present it at the start of your post, as well as my intent to create a list of concrete examples.

You can see that he has ruled out ‘performing a movement or an action’ as a conscious act. I can foresee that using motor activities as concrete examples can lead to side-tracking into the complex unconscious reflexes that control movements. That’s why I asked Old Rasputin to respond to the thinking and planning part of my concrete example and not the use of the computer.

Nevertheless, in response to neuro’s exclusion of ‘performing a movement or an action’ from being a conscious act, I would have to ask the question “Has anyone ever asked a tightrope walker if they are conscious of where they are placing their feet when they perform?”

And that reminds me (by association) vivianmaxine, did you get around to your little experiment of asking friends if they drive on autopilot? (Typing this last sentence was a conscious act, but it wasn’t a conscious act that brought it to my mind, it was subconscious association with asking someone some questions that did so. Now that that thought has come to mind, I’m executing this conscious act of asking you about it).

You’ll note also that neuro has done something similar to Old Rasputin in this sentence “the fact that I happen to become aware of something (be it something that happens or an act or a decision I perform) obviously is a passive, a posteriori event. I cannot direct my intentional attention to something until this something exists.”

At face value, this is unarguable because he has begged the question when he used the term become aware of something. Something certainly has to exist for us to BECOME aware of it. I personally can't see any problem with anyone being conscious or aware of an act or event or show while it is in action.

But then he supports our position when he states “Still I can imagine something (imagine to figure an object or situation in my mind, to make a decision, to perform an act) and this exactly is what can be defined as a properly conscious act.” This applies to both of our examples.

So, apart from one possible lapse of concentration, of which we are all capable, neuro’s position is largely in line with our position.

I hope this helps a bit.
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Re: consciousness or unconsciousness?

Postby vivian maxine on April 26th, 2017, 7:26 am 

doogles, lots to tackle in your post. Yes, I was aware that Neuro's answers come quite close to - or agree with - what I was thinking. It is one of the posts I am reading and re-reading. I am working hard to understand why the question is so complicated. To me, consciousness is such a simple condition. It is hard to understand all the confusion.

As for the experiment, yes I did. All four of them agreed wholeheartedly that they drive - or have driven - on autopilot. Some interesting qualifiers came with the answers. One gentleman said "but that was when I was going to work every day. Now that I'm retired and don't drive often, I have to stay alert." Another said that she used to drive on autopilot until she almost had an accident once. Now she concentrates hard not to do it. My answer for a third. I am positive that she drives on autopilot all the time. I can't explain it but it's a feeling I get as I ride with her. And she does it very well. Smoothly and comfortably - never misses a beat. Almost as if the car is driving itself.

I have had a feeling that maybe - at least until a surprise emergency pops up in front of you - autopilot might be safer than concentrating too hard on "what am I doing, what's next?" But what happens when you have to say "I didn't see that/him"?

I'll get back to your post and thank you. I must get my conscious brain functioning. The power seems low today.
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Re: consciousness or unconsciousness?

Postby vivian maxine on April 26th, 2017, 7:42 am 

OR, back to a question you asked. When I say I am fully conscious of an act, I mean I first planned to do it and how to do it. Then, as I did it, I paid close attention to what I was doing in order to get it right. Ex: Putting a frozen entree in the oven at the right temperature with the proper timing on the timer is a conscious act.

Or, would it sound better to say it is the product of my engaged consciousness? Think, decide, review what needs doing and in what order, concentrate. And - oh yes - did I remember to take off the plastic film first? Or, is it supposed to come off in this instance? All this require conscious thinking.

Gracious! I did not realize heating dinner was so much work. :-)
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Re: consciousness or unconsciousness?

Postby doogles on April 26th, 2017, 7:58 am 

Thanks for responding Old Rasputin.

In the definition “Conscious Acts (aka “self-piloted” acts) --- are Bodily Actions that are Knowingly induced/caused" , you did not change the word Actions'' to 'Activities'. It may not be an issue.

Re “Thoughts are just another bodily activity/reaction. Being consciously aware of one’s thoughts does not mean "consciously doing" (or creating/authoring) one’s thoughts.” I find the use of the word ‘doing’ here a bit confusing. Are you talking here about motor activity that results from one’s thinking?

Re “Besides, "consciously thinking" (consciously creating one’s own thoughts) is logically impossible. The problem is we can’t ‘know’ what we think, or will think, until AFTER we think it. ...we can't know our thoughts BEFORE we become aware of them.” We may be getting close here. The word “thought” has connotations of a ‘done’ thing. A ‘thought’ is something that appears to have turned up; it's not a process or an act; it's really an end product of thinking. So, as you say, we can only be aware of it AFTER it has arrived. I agree with that, but it’s sort of begging the question. It’s a product. And we can’t become conscious of it till it appears. But thinking is an on-going process. If we ever get to discussing subconscious planning, I'd like to throw in a novel idea about what a 'thought' really is.

So we are narrowing this down to whether ‘thinking’ per se can be a conscious act. I’m consciously pondering this now. I can't do it on autopilot. I have to keep my mind on it. I have intent to do it; I'm aware I'm doing it; I'm giving it my full attention.

I’m an imagist so I have to create pictures in my mind when I think. I’m once again consciously thinking of scenarios I could use that may clarify the situation. I’m running scenarios past my mind’s eye (obviously firing memory residues in my mind at the subconscious level).

Apart from the tightrope walker I mentioned in the last post, a couple of others have come to mind. We’ve shared the scenario of people who regularly commute over the same route every day, sometimes doing the whole thing on autopilot. But what did we do in the days of travelling to a distant destination (before GPS) through unfamiliar districts?

I suppose I can only speak for myself. I had to consciously obtain a road map, try to identify any main roads leading up to the unknown area and then try to create a rough map in my own mind of the route I would have to take to get to my destination. I would consciously try to memorise that map and the names of the main roads and landmarks I would encounter. I can’t do this on autopilot. In fact I used to consciously get a piece of paper and mark a spot for the first familiar landmark in the unknown area and then list the names of the roads I would take, sometimes adding the position of the traffic lights, etc.

I used to be conscious of every detail I was noting and thinking about. This was a priori (NOT a posteriori) conscious planning of the route I would take to reach my destination. Why is that not a conscious act? And then while driving this route I would have to consciously recognise the essential landmarks I’d listed to ensure that I was on the right track. Why is this NOT a conscious execution of a plan during the act? (Once again I’d prefer it if the internalised processes involved in driving the car were not brought into the discussion.)

I think we could extrapolate this to say that any form of conscious planning (thinking, strategizing) of/about an event has to be a priori. It has to occur before the task and not afterwards.

Re your later comments about neuro’s post, overall I support what he said even though I did not agree with his comment about ‘performing a movement or action’, and that I believe he did beg the question in one statement.

To vivianmaxine – I’m still optimistic that we’ll get onto the subject of subconscious planning and strategizing eventually. I have some thoughts on the matter. But the current theme of conscious acts is interesting in its own right. I’m confident we’ll find some consensus.
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Re: consciousness or unconsciousness?

Postby Old Rasputin on April 26th, 2017, 2:05 pm 

vivian maxine wrote:OR, back to a question you asked. When I say I am fully conscious of an act, I mean I first planned to do it and how to do it.

1. Again, being “fully conscious of an act” does not mean that you consciously ‘caused’ (or induced) that act. For example:

    A. You can be fully aware of your neighbor’s bodily actions as he crosses the street to get the mail, and

    B. You can be fully aware of your self’s bodily actions as you cross the street to get the mail.
You probably agree that in A, you did NOT consciously cause your neighbors actions, but then for some reason, you assume that in B, you DID consciously cause your own actions, …why is this?

…is it because you used 2 more sensors (Proprioception - sensing muscle movement, and equilibrioception - sensing balance and acceleration) when sensing your own bodily movements?

If sensing is sensing in both cases, then why assume causation in one case, but not the other?


2. What did this “planning” consist of? …wasn’t it just the awareness (sensing) of your thoughts? If you are just aware of your thoughts, then what was it that you consciously did?


vivian maxine wrote:Then, as I did it…

Don’t you really mean that you were aware of your body doing this action/activity? And because of this awareness, you then automatically assumed that you were somehow the (conscious) causer/doer of this action?

But then you don’t actually remember the “doing” part, …right? You only remember being aware of the individual/sequential events, the happenings themselves …true?


vivian maxine wrote:Putting a frozen entree in the oven at the right temperature with the proper timing on the timer is a conscious act.

Not so. Again, being aware of all the sequential events involved in this act does not mean you consciously “did” any of these events. It only means that you were consciously aware of your body’s involvement in each and every event. -- no different than being aware of your neighbor walking to the mailbox.


vivian maxine wrote:All this require conscious thinking.

Conscious thinking is impossible. Again, being consciously aware of one’s thoughts is not consciously causing one’s thoughts. You are only aware of that which is already there!


doogles wrote:In the definition “Conscious Acts (aka “self-piloted” acts) --- are Bodily Actions that are Knowingly induced/caused" , you did not change the word Actions'' to 'Activities'. It may not be an issue.

Yes, you are correct, my mistake. “Activities” is the better word. Revision noted below:

Conscious Acts (aka “self-piloted” acts) --- are Bodily Activities that are Knowingly induced/caused.


doogles wrote:
Old Rasputin wrote:Thoughts are just another bodily activity/reaction. Being consciously aware of one’s thoughts does not mean "consciously doing" (or creating/authoring) one’s thoughts.
I find the use of the word ‘doing’ here a bit confusing. Are you talking here about motor activity that results from one’s thinking?

I’m talking about causation. For clarity sake, replace the word “doing” with “causing” or “inducing”, as in “consciously causing”.


Old Rasputin wrote:Besides, "consciously thinking" (consciously creating one’s own thoughts) is logically impossible. The problem is we can’t ‘know’ what we think, or will think, until AFTER we think it. ...we can't know our thoughts BEFORE we become aware of them.

doogles wrote:We may be getting close here. The word “thought” has connotations of a ‘done’ thing. A ‘thought’ is something that appears to have turned up; it's not a process or an act; it's really an end product of thinking.

Yes, we are conscious of the thought (the end product), while being unconscious of the thinking (process). It (the thought) is the conscious recognition (awareness) of something (…and this ‘something’ is most likely a sensory experience from memory).


doogles wrote:So, as you say, we can only be aware of it AFTER it has arrived. I agree with that, but it’s sort of begging the question. It’s a product. And we can’t become conscious of it till it appears.

Yes, it is a product, and yes, we can’t be conscious of it until AFTER it appears/arrives.

And it would only be begging the question, if one first pre-assumed that we can “consciously think” (consciously cause/create thoughts) in the first place. I don’t assume this. All I can honestly admit to is that I experience (am consciously aware of) the thoughts that pop into my head. Where these thoughts come from? …I can only speculate/assume.

If we speculate/assume that we are also the “conscious thinker/causer” of our thoughts, then we would run into a logical short-circuit (a circular argument), and NO thinking or thoughts could possibly happen. In other words, we wouldn’t be able to think without thoughts, and we wouldn’t be able to have thoughts without thinking --- round and round we would go until our conscious brain (figuratively) blows-up.

“Thinking” can ONLY be an unconscious act/process.

Just because we experience (the product of) thoughts, does not mean we should assume that we consciously created/caused these thoughts.


doogle wrote:So we are narrowing this down to whether ‘thinking’ per se can be a conscious act.

1. If thinking is the “conscious causing of thoughts”, then I say balderdash, impossible!
2. If thinking is the “conscious awareness of thoughts”, then I say bingo!

Logically, “conscious acts” are impossible. Anything we are conscious of has already happened, or is already there.


doogles wrote:I’m consciously pondering this now. I can't do it on autopilot. I have to keep my mind on it. I have intent to do it; I'm aware I'm doing it; I'm giving it my full attention.

Again, you are consciously aware of all these happenings. You are aware of “pondering”, you are aware of the urge (“intent”) to do it, you are aware your body’s responses/reactions/actions/activities, you are aware of your “giving attention”.

Awareness is just awareness. Being aware of something does NOT mean you are (consciously) causing/controlling anything!


doogles wrote:I think we could extrapolate this to say that any form of conscious planning (thinking, strategizing) of/about an event has to be a priori. It has to occur before the task and not afterwards.

Any event (planning/thinking/strategizing) that occurs before the awareness of the event is by definition an unconscious "auto-piloted" act/event.

One can't be conscious of anything, without this 'anything' already being there.
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Re: consciousness or unconsciousness?

Postby Old Rasputin on April 26th, 2017, 3:47 pm 

Old Rasputin wrote:
neuro wrote:...a conscious act consists in directing the lucid, explicit, intentional (in-tend = tend to, aim at) attention of our mind toward something.

There seems to be a logical flaw in reasoning with this definition. It seems to create the very problem it supposedly addresses, by shifting the problem (the impossibility of a conscious act) to the back end.

Neuro, in all fairness to you, anyone’s definition of “Conscious Acts” will be logically flawed, including mine and Doogles! --

Old Rasputin wrote: Conscious Acts (aka “self-piloted” acts) --- are Bodily Activities that are Knowingly induced/caused.

Since "conscious act" (or consciously causing) is not logically possible, then so is the logical coherence of its definition. Any such attempt at a definition will ultimately contain a logical flaw. If anyone can actually write a non-contradicting (logically coherent) definition, then I'll gladly buy you lunch. But since it can't happen, my lunch money is safe with me.

We can't possibly (nor logically) knowingly cause anything.

Knowing implies the present memory of a PAST event. And since PAST events are unchangeable/un-manipulate-able, there is no way, in the present, to change/control/cause/manipulate the PAST event.

That which we know, has already happened, and therefore is not subject to our present doing/controlling/manipulating.

Conscious Control (a tenet of Consciousness) is Dead. We need to bury this thing once-and-for-all, and move onto finding the real truths of reality. Too much mental/intellectual horsepower is wasted on non-logically-possible concepts. Logic needs to lead the way! (...meaning if something is not logically possible, then let's move away from that path and towards only that which is logically possible).

I know the death of Conscious Control (aka free-will, voluntary memory) is seemingly hard to accept, but life goes on. Both I and DragonFly (and others) are still enjoying the ride of life. If you wish to move the intellectual community forward into the next level, then you need to bury this thing, do your grieving, and then move forward.
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Re: consciousness or unconsciousness?

Postby vivian maxine on April 26th, 2017, 4:01 pm 

[quote="OldRasputin"]If sensing is sensing in both cases, then why assume causation in one case, but not the other?[quote]

To sum it up in one fell swoop: Because I am capable of being aware of what my neighbors are doing without having any part in it. I see and acquire knowledge of what is going on. Our consciousness is not limited to what we ourselves do. We can take vicarious pleasure in hearing or reading about some pleasurable experience that someone else had.

To me, consciousness is thinking. It is not a physical act. it is a mental act. Two different things. Which, of course, gets us back to the fact that we do not agree on what consciousness is.
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Re: consciousness or unconsciousness?

Postby doogles on April 27th, 2017, 6:52 am 

Old Rasputin Thanks again.

I think your recent post has helped to further pinpoint where we have a difference.

I could be wrong, but I’m thinking now that your own personal interpretation of ‘conscious activity’ is that it that it MUST CAUSE something, otherwise it is not an ACT, ACTION, ACTIVITY. If this is so, then we are homing into the interpretation of the word ‘ÄCT’ as the crux of our differences. Your comments also imply that a ACTS, ACTIONS, ACTIVITIES are end products of something and not current happenings.

All of a sudden, I think I know where you are coming from, but these interpretations of those terms seem to be so extreme that I’m now beginning to become pessimistic I can reach common ground with you, Dragonfly and RoccoR who apparently liked your most recent comments.

At first I could not understand what you meant when you said to vivianmaxine “You probably agree that in A, you did NOT consciously cause your neighbors actions, but then for some reason, you assume that in B, you DID consciously cause your own actions, …why is this?” You also asked her “Don’t you really mean that you were aware of your body doing this action/activity? And because of this awareness, you then automatically assumed that you were somehow the (conscious) causer/doer of this action?”

I can’t see where vivianmaxine said or implied anything like that at all. She simply said words to the effect that she consciously observed the neighbour walking to the mail box or across the road. It was her observation of what the neighbour was doing that was the conscious act or activity she was referring to. She certainly wasn’t causing anything. She was just conscious of the fact that she observed her neighbour. I just cannot get my head around your implication that conscious observation of something has to CAUSE something.

That seemed to be the basis of your response to neuro’s comments – “We can't possibly (nor logically) knowingly cause anything.”

When you commented “All I can honestly admit to is that I experience (am consciously aware of) the thoughts that pop into my head. Where these thoughts come from? …I can only speculate/assume.” I have some ideas on that if we get to subconscious planning.

This following statement implies that there is no such thing as an on-going event. “Logically, “conscious acts” are impossible. Anything we are conscious of has already happened, or is already there” I must be missing something here. Your vocabulary does not take into account the present tense. According to the logic of that statement, there is no ‘happening’ activity. Everything is a ‘done. According to this we can’t consciously observe anything that’s happening, such as a neighbour walking to the mailbox, a football game in progress, a movie, a lecture, a horse race etc.

I personally believe that observing things, smelling things, feeling things, tasting things, hearing things can all happen consciously or subconsciously. Judges in every field of endeavour ALL certainly perform these sensory exercises as conscious acts. I also believe that thinking, planning, strategizing can occur consciously or subconsciously and that they can all be performed as conscious acts.

Here’s your CAUSING again - “Awareness is just awareness. Being aware of something does NOT mean you are (consciously) causing/controlling anything!” That is quite true, but in the same sense, being aware of something doesn’t mean that you caused it, let alone killed it, or made it disappear or went to gaol because of it. The notion of causing, to my mind, just has no place in this discussion unless we are operating on different understanding of ACT/ACTION/ACTIVITY.

Here you’ve begged the question again - “Any event (planning/thinking/strategizing) that occurs before the awareness of the event is by definition an unconscious "auto-piloted" act/event.” This again is unarguable. All of us are unaware of an event before we become aware of it.

I will just try one more attempt at identifying an aspect of where we may be talking at different levels. If that fails, we’ll just have to respectfully agree to disagree.

You'll be familiar with this concrete example.

Instead of just commuting the 12 miles of a familiar route to work one day I decide to deliberately take note of what landmarks I can identify at every mile on the way. I plan that, at each mile, I will identify one on the left, one directly ahead, and one on the right. I will do this till I reach my destination. At my destination I will try to remember what I identified. I am unaware that I consciously planned this because there is no such thing as conscious planning. And I wasn’t aware of what I was doing until I finished. And it won’t be me causing this experiment because there is no such thing as a conscious act.

There are two parts to this experiment.
1, The wilful, conscious part: It was not a conscious act when I planned this because there is no such thing as a conscious act. It was not a conscious act when I pressed the odometer back to zero because there is no such thing as a conscious act. It was not a conscious act when I watched the odometer to check for each mile point because there is no such thing as a conscious act. It was not a conscious act when I deliberately turned left, then straight ahead, then right to deliberately identify landmarks. It was not a deliberate act when I deliberately vocalised at each mile post “I hereby certify that I am fully awake and conscious” because there is no such thing as a conscious act. And either I was unconscious of everything I’ve told you or else it did not happen in real time because “Anything and everything that we are conscious of, has already happened! ...so there ain’t nothing we can “do” about it!” according to Old Rasputin. But I can’t be relating this to you because I can remember only a fragment of what transpired.

2. The subconscious part: Most of the action in my body took place here. Once I willed a plan at the conscious level to test how much I would remember after performing some deliberate tasks on my way to work, my inner hardwired complex reflex neuro-musculo-skeletal systems did a massive amount of work. And this went on totally without my being aware of a single part of it. This included even the very act of zero-ing the odometer. Scientific research makes me realise, that after I’d consciously willed my finger to contact the odometer button, a whole mass of muscles in my arms from the shoulders right down to my wrists had to receive complexly coordinated nerve impulses from many parts of my brain to affect that action. It was similar each time I had to turn my head and eyes to watch the odometer, to turn my head and eyes to the left, ahead and to the right. Of course, neck, head and eye nerves and muscles were involved in this case. When I vocalised, all of my laryngeal, mouth and pharyngeal muscles and nerves were involved. And of course when I tried to remember the whole sequence of events, many brain cells were involved. But I was not conscious of the minutae of all of these automatic processes actually going on behind the scenes.

If those opponents of “conscious acts” have had these number 2 processes in mind, and not the number 1 processes, the comments would make sense to me. If not, I’m at the stage where we just have to respectfully agree to disagree on conscious acts and move on.
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Re: consciousness or unconsciousness?

Postby Old Rasputin on April 27th, 2017, 6:12 pm 

Doogles, first of all, I have to say, your responses are first class; very clearly written, nice! I appreciate the sincere interest in getting to the bottom of our conflicting understandings. My time is very limited now, but I will reply to the rest of your questions as soon as I can find time.

doogles wrote:This following statement implies that there is no such thing as an on-going event. “Logically, “conscious acts” are impossible. Anything we are conscious of has already happened, or is already there” I must be missing something here. Your vocabulary does not take into account the present tense.

The consciousness (awareness) is the present. The ‘contents’ of the consciousness are of past events (this is due to our inefficient human sensory transmission and processing times). In other words, what we see ‘now’ is a ‘past’ event. What we see (feel, hear, think, smell, touch, etc) now, has already happened at least 0.15 seconds ago.

For example and to help you understand this concept -- when you are watching a “live” broadcast of a football game on your living room TV, you know that what you see/hear is not really happening in ‘real-time’, …right? And even though this is a (so-called) “live” event, that what you are seeing and hearing right now on your living room TV has already happened (by as much as 7 seconds ago, depending upon the efficiency of the communications transmissions, from the football field cameras/microphones all the way to your living room TV). So when you see (in the present moment) the wide receiver about to catch a touchdown, well, in 'real-time' back at the real football field he is already doing his end zone victory dance. It is that we just don’t know it yet, (because of this time lag of what we see and what is happening in real-time). Does this make sense?

Okay, now go outside your front door, and look out at reality all around you. Do you see a car coming down the street? The car (traveling at 40 mph) in reality, i.e. in ‘real-time’, is 9 feet in front of where you think you consciously see it! The faster something moves/happens, the greater the distance disparity. Again, consciousness always lags reality, just as the TV lags reality.

This means that our future has already played out in front of us, and we just don’t know it yet!

So any notion of “conscious control”, “consciously acting”, “free-will”, “voluntary memory”, etc. is non-sensical. We can never consciously do anything.

We can only know what we did, not what we do!
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Re: consciousness or unconsciousness?

Postby doogles on April 28th, 2017, 6:47 am 

Old Rasputin wrote:Doogles, first of all, I have to say, your responses are first class; very clearly written, nice! I appreciate the sincere interest in getting to the bottom of our conflicting understandings. My time is very limited now, but I will reply to the rest of your questions as soon as I can find time.

doogles wrote:This following statement implies that there is no such thing as an on-going event. “Logically, “conscious acts” are impossible. Anything we are conscious of has already happened, or is already there” I must be missing something here. Your vocabulary does not take into account the present tense.

The consciousness (awareness) is the present. The ‘contents’ of the consciousness are of past events (this is due to our inefficient human sensory transmission and processing times). In other words, what we see ‘now’ is a ‘past’ event. What we see (feel, hear, think, smell, touch, etc) now, has already happened at least 0.15 seconds ago.

For example and to help you understand this concept -- when you are watching a “live” broadcast of a football game on your living room TV, you know that what you see/hear is not really happening in ‘real-time’, …right? And even though this is a (so-called) “live” event, that what you are seeing and hearing right now on your living room TV has already happened (by as much as 7 seconds ago, depending upon the efficiency of the communications transmissions, from the football field cameras/microphones all the way to your living room TV). So when you see (in the present moment) the wide receiver about to catch a touchdown, well, in 'real-time' back at the real football field he is already doing his end zone victory dance. It is that we just don’t know it yet, (because of this time lag of what we see and what is happening in real-time). Does this make sense?

Okay, now go outside your front door, and look out at reality all around you. Do you see a car coming down the street? The car (traveling at 40 mph) in reality, i.e. in ‘real-time’, is 9 feet in front of where you think you consciously see it! The faster something moves/happens, the greater the distance disparity. Again, consciousness always lags reality, just as the TV lags reality.

This means that our future has already played out in front of us, and we just don’t know it yet!

So any notion of “conscious control”, “consciously acting”, “free-will”, “voluntary memory”, etc. is non-sensical. We can never consciously do anything.

We can only know what we did, not what we do!


It’s good that you liked it so much. It’s the first reductio ad absurdum I’ve ever attempted.

Once again I agree with everything you’ve said up to the fourth last paragraph above. We are on the same page up to there.

But I do tend to disagree with your conclusions. They seem to me to be ‘non-sequiturs’.

Your conclusion “This means that our future has already played out in front of us, and we just don’t know it yet!”

“This means that our future has already played out in front of us, and we just don’t know it yet!”

“This means that our future has already played out in front of us, and we just don’t know it yet!”

I deliberately repeated that conclusion, so that I would have no misunderstanding. How did you ever draw such a conclusion from such a well-known fact that there is a time lag physiologically between observation of an event and our perception of that event.

No way! The examples you described simply display that there is a time lag in real life observing and video transmissions and our innate perceptions of events. And it affirms that our final processing of observed live or televised events is some milliseconds to minutes behind what we are consciously observing, the actual time-lag depending on in-built time-lags in video transmissions. What does it have to do with our conscious observation of on-going events at the time we perceive them, regardless of the time delays in sending videos or in physiological processing.

I believe that your last two paragraphs are non-sense since they depend on your conclusion - “This means that our future has already played out in front of us, and we just don’t know it yet!” which I also regard as non-sense.
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Re: consciousness or unconsciousness?

Postby Old Rasputin on April 28th, 2017, 11:18 am 

doogles wrote:It’s good that you liked it so much. It’s the first reductio ad absurdum I’ve ever attempted.

Seriously? …and I had thought your sincerity was real. My mistake.

Old Rasputin wrote:For example and to help you understand this concept -- when you are watching a “live” broadcast of a football game on your living room TV, you know that what you see/hear is not really happening in ‘real-time’, …right? And even though this is a (so-called) “live” event, that what you are seeing and hearing right now on your living room TV has already happened (by as much as 7 seconds ago, depending upon the efficiency of the communications transmissions, from the football field cameras/microphones all the way to your living room TV). So when you see (in the present moment) the wide receiver about to catch a touchdown, well, in 'real-time' back at the real football field he is already doing his end zone victory dance, and it is that we just don’t know it yet!

doogles wrote:
Old Rasputin wrote:Okay, now go outside your front door, and look out at reality all around you. Do you see a car coming down the street? The car (traveling at 40 mph) in reality, i.e. in ‘real-time’, is 9 feet in front of where you think you consciously see it! The faster something moves/happens, the greater the distance disparity. Again, consciousness always lags reality, just as the TV lags reality.

This means that our future has already played out in front of us, and we just don’t know it yet!

How did you ever draw such a conclusion…

1. Is there a time lag between what we see on TV, and the real event itself? Y/N
2. Is there a time lag between what we see in our head, and the real event itself? Y/N
3. Did these real events occur before our knowing of these real events? Y/N
4. Does this mean that these real events occurred in the future of our present knowing? Y/N

Therfore: --- Our future has already played out in front of us, and we just don’t know it yet!

Doogles, if you see an error in this logic, then please point it out. Otherwise, please keep your ad hominem attacks of "reductio ad absurdum" to yourself. The only real absurdity is your (illogical; non-sensical) belief in a long-held fairy tale.
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Re: consciousness or unconsciousness?

Postby neuro on April 28th, 2017, 12:27 pm 

So, old rasputin does not like the idea of DIRECTING attention, because it looks as if there were some entty in our brain that is capable of willingly directing attention.

Selective attention is a quite simple neural process, driven by bottom-up mechanisms (mostly the vital, affective relevance associated to each neural activity that goes on in our brain) and top-down mechanisms (mostly the relatedness of each neural activity, in a given circuit, with the content and the logical path of the ongoing activity in higher brain circuits).

When we consider our working memory system, which operates in a transparent and explicit way (we can verbalize whatever our working memory system processes), it also DIRECTS its attention in exactly the same way.
Everything enters (or does not) in our working memory depending on its vital/affective relevance and on its pertinence with what the working memory system is elaboration.

This is consciousness.
A fraction of our neural / mental activity which is transparent and gets the focus of our selective attention.
A conscious act, strictly speaking, is the selection operated by our working memory system among the many cognitive materials that are being processed in the myriad of circuits in our brain.

Does Old Rasputin propose that there is no me (no soul or spirit) that DRIVES autonomously and willingly this selection mechanism?
I have no problems with that.

Does he propose that there are no selective attention mechanisms in the brain, that end up in selecting the content of our conscious activity?
I do have problems with this. Because such selection mechanisms are there, and in particular in my opinion such selection process precisely constitutes what we call consciousness.

BTW, when I said that a CONSCIOUS ACT is not "performing an action", I meant that the only thing that consciousness can do is to focus on something (this is the meaning of the "intentional" attribute of consciousness in phenomenology). Consciousness cannot ACT, perform movements or whatever. Still it ACTS in cognitive terms, given that selective attention and information processing by the working memory system can generate thoughts, imagining, prefiguring, simulation of reality, choices. These are all CONSCIOUS ACTS, in that they are produced by means of FOCUSING working memory activity on specific objects.

Simply, consciousness is not an operator that drives around the focus of attention as if it were a light-technician operating a spotlight, it is the spot-light itself.
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Re: consciousness or unconsciousness?

Postby doogles on April 29th, 2017, 7:07 am 

Old Rasputin My arguments were directed at your arguments and not ad hominem. I would be ashamed to do an ad hominem. Others had endorsed your conclusions as well, so it wasn't personal. I have no reason to regard you as anything but a very nice person with normal sensitivities.

Your post prior to my reductio ad absurdum had comments suggesting that you were quite satisfied with your position and that you were no longer interested in attempting to explore our differences - “Since "conscious act" (or consciously causing) is not logically possible, then so is the logical coherence of its definition.”, as well as any such attempt at a definition will ultimately contain a logical flaw.” … “I know the death of Conscious Control (aka free-will, voluntary memory) is seemingly hard to accept, but life goes on. Both I and DragonFly (and others) are still enjoying the ride of life. If you wish to move the intellectual community forward into the next level, then you need to bury this thing, do your grieving, and then move forward.”

You’ve proposed some new points for discussion and it looks to me as if we can identify something in that.

“Q1. Is there a time lag between what we see on TV, and the real event itself? Y/N.” Yes

“Q2. Is there a time lag between what we see (with our eyes, and what we perceive?) in our head, and the real event itself? Y/N.” Yes, and this is appearing to be the basis of your claim that everything we perceive has already happened. Actually you DID appear to be talking about the physiological processes between “seeing” and ‘perceiving I mentioned in Part 2 of my RAA argument. I’m not aware of the actual time but it would be measured in milliseconds. When I was in my early 20s in physiology pracs, I was measured as having an average reaction time (observation of a light to pressing a telegraph key) of 140 milliseconds. This involves two parts – firstly, seeing/perception time and secondly, perception/reaction time. So the first part may be a half of this. I did find one reference here - http://www.encyclopedia.com/earth-and-e ... ction-time - “When a human subject follows instructions to make a specific response as soon as he can after the presentation of a specific signal, the latency of the response is called reaction time (RT). Average values of between 150 and 250 milliseconds (msec.) are typically found, for example, where the subject must press a telegraph key when a light is flashed” Let’s use a ball park figure of 100 milliseconds for the first part of the reaction. You can double this if you like and that will double the distance I calculated below but won’t change anything in principle.

“3. Did these real events occur before our knowing of these real events? Y/N.” Yes, but let’s get some perspective. In the case of a 40 mph car, it’s travelling 19.5 yards a second or 0.002 yards per millisecond, or 0.2 yards during this 100 millisecond seeing/perception time. This means that the car has travelled seven inches. If we perform the conscious act of continually viewing that car just to see where it is going, we’ve gone past the delay due to the initial seeing/perception time and see it as a continuous event. The seven inch initial-viewing lag is technically there, but for all practical purposes of interpretation of our conscious observation of where the car is heading, it is irrelevant. The same applies to vivianmaxine’s neighbour walking to the mail box; he may have travelled a millimetre or two during her first glance/perception time

“4. Does this mean that these real events occurred in the future of our present knowing? Y/N.” No Way! It just means that from the time we first glanced at the car to the time when we first realised it was either a small blue sedan or a big black SUV, it had travelled about seven inches. Not only that, but the first light reflection from the car hit our retinas at 186,000 miles a second which is the equivalent of immediately. It was only our processing of what hit our retinas in real time that caused any delay. Our actual sensory contact with the car was at virtual zero in real time and this sensory contact was continuous during the period in which our nervous system processed that continuous retinal impression (the physiological delay) as well as during the ensuing period while we consciously observed the car to see where it was heading. There was unbroken sensory contact from first glance to termination of the exercise (event?). Therefore our sensory contact with the car had no past and no future; it was ‘immediate’ in real time (from first glance) and that sensory contact was unbroken till the car disappeared out of view.

“Therfore: --- Our future has already played out in front of us, and we just don’t know it yet!”

I have a very good imagination, but I just can’t rationalise your above conclusion in any way. If this conclusion is relevant to your thesis, “Since "conscious act" (or consciously causing) is not logically possible, then so is the logical coherence of its definition.” as well as any such attempt at a definition will ultimately contain a logical flaw.”, then we have succeeded in identifying the very crux of our different views about conscious acts. Can you re-phrase that conclusion in any way? I may be totally misinterpreting what you are saying.
Well actually, that’s not all. I still can’t rationalise where you equate a ‘conscious act’ with ‘conscious causing’. Can you have a go at explaining that?

And by the way Old Rasputin, I sincerely thank you for using a concrete example as a point of discussion.
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Re: consciousness or unconsciousness?

Postby doogles on April 29th, 2017, 2:27 pm 

I must have had one of those lapses I spoke about in an earlier post. This is a correction of my post above. 19.2 yards per second is 0.02 (and not 0.002 yards) per millisecond and in the 100 milliseconds of physiological processing, the car has travelled 2 yards, NOT 0.2 of a yard. But that issue has gone from being negligible to irrelevant.

The important thing is that the internal physiological processing is not of the car but of the retinal impression of the car from first glance and then continuously while the car is being observed. The first glance of any event results in a retinal impression received at 186000 miles/sec, which to all intents and purposes is immediate and ongoing during observation.

The car travels a couple of yards while the processing is occurring in the brain, but the brain is processing an immediately received retinal impression which means that past or future interpretations do not come into the issue.

An analogy is the recording of an event with an old movie camera. The light impression recorded on the film is immediate and ongoing. The only difference I see is that the processing of the film takes some hours, while our own processing of the retinal impressions takes milliseconds.
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Re: consciousness or unconsciousness?

Postby Old Rasputin on April 30th, 2017, 1:09 pm 

doogles wrote:
Old Rasputin wrote:3. Did these real events occur before our knowing of these real events?
4. Does this mean that these real events occurred in the future of our present knowing?

Q3. …Yes
Q4. …No Way!

5. If event A occurs before event B, does this mean event B occurs in the future of event A? Y/N


That what we see (feel, hear, think, smell, touch, etc) now, has already happened by at least 0.15 seconds (150 milliseconds). This is the time it takes to “recognize” anything. This is the time it takes to form the floating mental picture in our head, from that which we experience (via sensory or other) from the 'real' world. Our consciousness of reality lags reality (real-time) by at least 150 milliseconds. In other words, our consciousness is OUT-OF-SYNC with reality.

If we see (are conscious of) a car traveling at 40 mph, the car is actually 9 feet in front of where we think we see it. This 9 feet is based on our 150 millisecond lag time it takes to recognize the location of this car. (40x5280/60/60x0.150 = 8.8 feet)

doogles wrote:It just means that from the time we first glanced at the car to the time when we first realized it was either a small blue sedan or a big black SUV, it had travelled about seven inches [Old Rasputin correction: 9 feet].

Recognizing the type of the car is one thing, and recognizing the location of the car is another.


doogles wrote:Not only that, but the first light reflection from the car hit our retinas at 186,000 miles a second which is the equivalent of immediately. It was only our processing of what hit our retinas in real time that caused any delay.

Correct. It is this “process” time of recognition that takes 150 milliseconds. Any additional time to transmit (the light waves to the retina) are added to this 150 milliseconds.


doogles wrote:Our actual sensory contact with the car was at virtual zero in real time and this sensory contact was continuous during the period in which our nervous system processed that continuous retinal impression (the physiological delay) as well as during the ensuing period while we consciously observed the car to see where it was heading. There was unbroken sensory contact from first glance to termination of the exercise (event?). Therefore our sensory contact with the car had no past and no future; it was ‘immediate’ in real time (from first glance) and that sensory contact was unbroken till the car disappeared out of view.

Not so. Just because we recognize the type of car (a static condition) does not mean that the recognition of the location (a dynamic condition) somehow magically came into sync with real-time. It does not mean that the consciousness of this moving vehicle somehow is now consciousness of real-time. Did the car somehow zip ahead 9 feet to match that of real-time?

Consciousness can never be in-sync with real-time.


doogles wrote:Well actually, that’s not all. I still can’t rationalise where you equate a ‘conscious act’ with ‘conscious causing’. Can you have a go at explaining that?

If you equate “consciously acting” as “consciously doing”, then this is a logical impossibility, …as we can only know (be conscious of) what we "did", not what we "do", ...and there is nothing we can do to change that which has already been done.

Our future has already played out in front of us, ...we just don’t know it yet!
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Re: consciousness or unconsciousness?

Postby Old Rasputin on April 30th, 2017, 4:28 pm 

If the "real events" of our bodily actions occur before our "knowing" (of these events/actions) then, our future actions have already played out, ...we just don’t know it yet!
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Re: consciousness or unconsciousness?

Postby doogles on May 1st, 2017, 6:29 am 

Thank you again for the response Old Rasputin. I believe that you and I have achieved something that is very rare in this forum. We appear to have broadly isolated the very small area in which our thinking is divergent. It’s not a case of being right or wrong. And when we finally fine tune an actual point of difference, we could still respectfully agree to disagree on one little vital point.

“5. If event A occurs before event B, does this mean event B occurs in the future of event A? Y/N”. If we stick to the concrete example of the 40 mph car, when it was first seen it was at position A, then YES, a distance of 9 feet ahead of it was its future at point B. No problem there, but we could have phrased it in reverse by saying it reached point B AFTER point A. So arriving at point was in the car’s past by the time it arrived at B.

“That what we see (feel, hear, think, smell, touch, etc) now, has already happened by at least 0.15 seconds (150 milliseconds). This is the time it takes to “recognize” anything. This is the time it takes to form the floating mental picture in our head, from that which we experience (via sensory or other) from the 'real' world. Our consciousness of reality lags reality (real-time) by at least 150 milliseconds. In other words, our consciousness is OUT-OF-SYNC with reality.”

No. Not necessarily as I'll qualify again later. Just to avoid confusion, those times experimentally are ‘reaction’ times (0.15-0.25 s). As I said in an earlier post, reaction times have two parts. The initial ‘recognition’ part is still a bit difficult to determine. We have to ‘recognise’ before we react; the second part requires motor activity and the use of a number of muscles whether they be in the limbs or voice. So, in glancing at the car we don’t have to react, we just ‘see’ it and ‘recognise’ it with a lag period in this 'recognition'.

The 9 feet is not a problem. I corrected my error in my last post.

"Recognizing the type of the car is one thing, and recognizing the location of the car is another.” I have no problem with that.

"Not so. Just because we recognize the type of car (a static condition) does not mean that the recognition of the location (a dynamic condition) somehow magically came into sync with real-time. It does not mean that the consciousness of this moving vehicle somehow is now consciousness of real-time. Did the car somehow zip ahead 9 feet to match that of real-time?” “Consciousness can never be in-sync with real-time.”

Up to date, you and I have been largely on the same page. No problems! But this appears to be where we have a difference. And it’s good that we have identified this. We will have a slight problem with the discussion from here because of the eternal problem with a definition of ‘consciousness’. But let’s see if we can get somewhere.

I’ll try to get things a little further in line by stating that I agree that by the time we have processed what we have first seen, the car has progressed 6 to 9 feet. No worries in principle.

But I say that our brains are not processing the car per sef (and this applies to anything we see): during the observation of an ongoing event, our brains are really processing the on-going continuous retinal impression of this event which includes the surroundings of the car in this case (a reference frame for its position). This image is formed instantaneously (186000 etc) and includes the car at position A and position B and more as we see it disappear. I believe we can say that our brains have interpreted the whole scene as it occurred from Point A.

I know that you are going to reply, and I agree, that “by the real time our slow wits have woken up to what has happened, the car has reached point B”.

But I say that because we are interpreting an eidetic record of the car’s progress from point A onwards as it registers on our retinas, we have 'seen' it and recognised the position at which we first glanced at it.

And both you and I can agree that by the time we have processed the impression in our retinas, the car has travelled some distance.

I say that for observational purposes, the second last sentence is all that is important, but if you are standing in front of the car’s trajectory, the last sentence is important.

I believe that all the time I was observing the car I was performing a conscious act.

“If you equate “consciously acting” as “consciously doing”, then this is a logical impossibility, …as we can only know (be conscious of) what we "did", not what we "do", ...and there is nothing we can do to change that which has already been done.”

I have a problem here. This statement implies that we can’t be conscious of what we are ‘doing’ at any given time and that we can only be ‘conscious’ of anything AFTER the act. I suppose it behoves me to think of some concrete examples that cannot be interpreted other than as being consciously performed in the present tense. I only have to produce a single acceptable concrete example to prove the null hypothesis and this would make the above hypothesis invalid.

I can imagine a few.

1. As I was doing a BPay of car insurance on line today, I realised that there is no way I could do it on autopilot. I had to type in my Account Number from memory and my Password from memory to enter my bank account online. Then I had to identify and check the account I was transferring funds into by Name, Biller Code, Reference Number and Amount of money to transfer. I saw the bill on the top of all the rubbish on my disorganised desk and DELIBERATELY DECIDED to do a BPay and get it off my desk. It became a conscious intention BEFORE I actually did it. I did bring up my bank account virtually on autopilot because I’ve done it thousands of times before. Identifying and checking names, numbers and amount to pay all had to be selected, checked and rechecked with concentration. I believe that the entire exercise of making this payment was a conscious act DURING ALMOST EVERY STEP OF THE PROCESS. Then I DELIBERATELY made an annotation on the account of the date I paid it. I had to be conscious of what I was doing every step of the process so that my transfer of funds online was accomplished totally accurately - AS I WAS DOING IT.

2. I’ve already mentioned a tightrope walker being conscious of where she is placing her feet, especially during the learning stage.

3. Cleaning a highly polished surface that is going to be inspected by your harsh supervisor after you’ve finished (Say Royalty is going to use it the next day). Would you be conscious of how meticulously you were doing the job?

4. I’ve also realised that I was doing a very conscious non-act today. I was at the top of a ladder cleaning out the roof gutters and I was consciously reminding myself not to take a step back to admire my work (un-vocalised self-talk). I seriously kept this thought at the front of my mind when I was at the top of the ladder. Working on the top of a ladder must be one of the rare occasions I don’t go into a daydream while I’m doing something.

Regardless of whether we finish up respectfully agreeing to disagree, Old Rasputin, I do sincerely thank you for keeping up the discussion and particularly for using concrete examples. It has genuinely helped me to expand my thinking. And that’s the whole purpose of this chat site. There are no such things as winners or losers or in being right or wrong. Chatting is not, and never should be, a contest!
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Re: consciousness or unconsciousness?

Postby neuro on May 1st, 2017, 7:36 am 

Old Rasputin » April 30th, 2017, 6:09 pm wrote:That what we see (feel, hear, think, smell, touch, etc) now, has already happened by at least 0.15 seconds (150 milliseconds). This is the time it takes to “recognize” anything. This is the time it takes to form the floating mental picture in our head, from that which we experience (via sensory or other) from the 'real' world. Our consciousness of reality lags reality (real-time) by at least 150 milliseconds. In other words, our consciousness is OUT-OF-SYNC with reality.

Then, how can a baseball player hit the ball at the right moment at the right place?
(I bet doogles can tell you at what speed the ball travels...)
Consciousness can never be in-sync with real-time.
...
If you equate “consciously acting” as “consciously doing”, then this is a logical impossibility, …as we can only know (be conscious of) what we "did", not what we "do", ...and there is nothing we can do to change that which has already been done.
...
Our future has already played out in front of us, ...we just don’t know it yet!

This is an interesting turn in the discussion, because as long as you are talking of causal, deterministic events that we can figure (if we cannot figure them we are not conscious of them) we are (our consciousness is) perfectly in synchrony with them.

It is certainly true that when I actually perform a motor act (or a choice), my brain has already generated the neural activity needed to perform it. It is true that I am consciously aware of having performed an act (a choice) only when "the brain has already done whatever was necessary to do it". But if a choice was there and the act was not a purely reflex one (or a heuristically performed reaction), then the act (choice) had been simulated and prefigured before performing it: prefiguring - programming - executing - realizing. Consciousness is there BEFORE as well as AFTER the act. And the act can be perfectly synchronous with the external event just because prefiguring (a conscious act) "can see the future" (though often it does see it wrong!)
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Re: consciousness or unconsciousness?

Postby Old Rasputin on May 1st, 2017, 5:11 pm 

Old Rasputin wrote:That what we see (feel, hear, think, smell, touch, etc) now, has already happened by at least 0.15 seconds (150 milliseconds). This is the time it takes to “recognize” anything. This is the time it takes to form the floating mental picture in our head, from that which we experience (via sensory or other) from the 'real' world. Our consciousness of reality lags reality (real-time) by at least 150 milliseconds. In other words, our consciousness is OUT-OF-SYNC with reality.

doogles wrote:No. Not necessarily as I'll qualify again later. Just to avoid confusion, those times experimentally are ‘reaction’ times (0.15-0.25 s). As I said in an earlier post, reaction times have two parts. The initial ‘recognition’ part is still a bit difficult to determine. We have to ‘recognize’ before we react; the second part requires motor activity and the use of a number of muscles whether they be in the limbs or voice. So, in glancing at the car we don’t have to react, we just ‘see’ it and ‘recognize’ it with a lag period in this 'recognition'.

I take it that you still believe ‘recognition’ lag time still exists, …right? You agree that the “knowing” of an event is always after the event (even if by only .000000000000000001 second). The logic still holds true that the knowing (of the event) is after the event. The only thing in question, is by how much, ...true?


neuro wrote:It is certainly true that when I actually perform a motor act (or a choice), my brain has already generated the neural activity needed to perform it. It is true that I am consciously aware of having performed an act (a choice) only when "the brain has already done whatever was necessary to do it". But if a choice was there and the act was not a purely reflex one (or a heuristically performed reaction), then the act (choice) had been simulated and prefigured before performing it: prefiguring - programming - executing - realizing. Consciousness is there BEFORE as well as AFTER the act. And the act can be perfectly synchronous with the external event just because prefiguring (a conscious act) "can see the future" (though often it does see it wrong!).

The knowing (consciousness) can only follow, or be AFTER that which it knows. It is not possible for this consciousness to be “in sync” with (or before) the real-time of reality. For what ‘content’ or ‘event’ or ‘act’ is this consciousness conscious of? Something must exist before the knowing of this something can exist.

***********

Doogles and Neuro, I think we are running off path. I believe both of you are not seeing what I see as a self-evident fact. Let me tell a story and then see if this helps clear up some misconceptions.

Firstly, let’s put aside any discussions of consciousness for the time being. And instead, let’s imagine all of us sitting in my living room watching and enjoying a “live” broadcasted Red Sox baseball game on my big screen 90” Ultra HD TV with amazing Surround-Sound. Oh, and we don’t want to forget our favorite ice cold beverage; an “Old Rasputin” Russian Imperial Stout (…really good stuff!).

Being the smart intellectual guys that we are, we know that no matter how realistic the picture and sound are, the game itself is not actually happening on my living room wall as it appears to, it is actually happening thousands of miles away at Fenway Park. What we see/hear happening on my living room wall is just a ‘representation’ of the ‘real events' happening elsewhere.

And again, because we are such smart dudes, we know that there is always a transmission time-lag, which is “out of sync” by as much as 7 seconds, from the real events happening in ‘real-time’ (at Fenway Park) to the events that we see/hear happening in my living room. For example, at the time while we are watching (from my living room) the pitcher going through his pre-pitch wind-up, the batter (at Fenway Park) has already hit the ball over the fence, and is running the bases, ...we just don’t know it yet (we have to wait 7 seconds to see this part). So now we know two things, we know that what we see/hear in my living room is not only just a ‘representation’, but it is also a ‘time-delayed’ representation.

Now let’s imagine that we use this TV to know (not just baseball) but all the other events happening in reality. Imagine that we can shrink this TV down small enough and somehow wrap it around our head so that this is our ONLY means to know anything; to know the real events happening out there in reality. So everything that we now know and experience is just a ‘time-delayed representation’ of reality.

OH WAIT, …holy crap, we are already doing that! No need to wrap a TV around our head. Everything that we currently see/hear/smell/touch/think/feel/etc is already just a time-delayed (mental) representation playing in our heads right now! Everything we know exists and is on display in our heads (imaginations) right now.

So then, does this mean that ‘real events’ (including our own bodily actions) occur in the future of our present knowing?

Yes.

Can we consciously "do" anything?

No. (...we can only be conscious of what we "did"!)
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Re: consciousness or unconsciousness?

Postby vivian maxine on May 1st, 2017, 10:18 pm 

I think this may tie in with what neuro posted above. From "The Brain's Resting State is a Myriad of Thoughts' in "The Mysterious Brain", published by Bonnier Publications International.

80% of the brain's energy is used by the default mode network. "In 2001, American researcher and neurologist Marcus Raichle of Washington University School of Medicine, St Louis, Mo, discovered the default mode network." The default mode network is constantly busy, using at least 80% of the brain's total energy to deal with our myriads of thoughts and daydreams. Most of what it deals with never reaches our consciousness. We only finally become aware of a very small amount of these thoughts - those which the brain "deems" it necessary that we notice.

There is also a good article at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Default_mode_network. It is quite long with much medical knowledge and descriptions of what it does and how it does it. With all its information, there is this attention-getting bit: "The default mode network has been hypothesized to be relevant to disorders including Alzheimer's disease, autism, schizophrenia, and others.

I am left with one question. Is this default mode network what some of us are thinking of as the subconscious?
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Re: consciousness or unconsciousness?

Postby doogles on May 2nd, 2017, 6:52 am 

Neuro – That baseball event is another good concrete example of a conscious act, IMO. The baseball batter has to totally keep his wits about him when he faces the pitcher. He cannot begin to think of anything else. He has to conscientiously focus on the pitcher, and to some extent anticipate the trajectory of the ‘pitch’ so that this observation and his autopilot reaction can compute, compensate to the effect wherein his bat connection with the ball is perfect. I do not understand how anyone could dispute that his concentration and focus on the pitcher’s body language was NOT a conscious act BEFORE and DURING the event and not AFTER. Great concrete example neuro!

I just thought of another one today – a first time conscious dancing effort. “You put your left foot in, your left foot out; you put your left foot in and you turn it all about: you do the Hokey Pokey and you turn about: that’s what it’s all about. You put your right foot in: you put your right foot out; you put your right foot in and you turn it all about; you do the Hokey Pokey and your turn about ….. etc. Who could deny that this is not a conscious ‘doing’ of an act in the present tense?.

neuro! I sort of feel that this is an opportunity where I can air a personal opinion, and I feel that you are worldly enough to understand what I’m saying. I’ve been a member of this forum since 2007 or 2009. I’m not sure off the top of my head, but the length of time doesn’t matter. It seems to me that when we get into discussions of topics about consciousness etc, the whole discussion goes around in circles forever because posters keep discussing abstract notions such as ‘consciousness’ in terms of other abstract notions, so that in the finish, no one is ever sure of exactly what the other poster is really talking about.

In scientific experiments and surveys, at least a quantity of measurable data is acquired and then the discussion centres around that data, around something concrete – sometimes with useful consensus and practical application.

I just have a belief that in the discussion of abstract topics such as the definition of ‘consciousness’, we’d get somewhere if we produced some concrete data first, then as a ‘think tank’, argue about the suitability of each example for inclusion in the list, before then seeing if we can create a consensual list about the properties of what we perceive to be consciousness or conscious ACTS/ACTIONS/ACTIVITIES.

That’s what we are doing at the moment, and I therefore appreciate your contribution.

By the way, I calculate that if the pitcher throws at 100 mph, the ball covers the 60.6 feet to the batter in 2.4 seconds. This is really top-echelon speed.

I liked your last paragraph but left out the last sentence because of its potential of being misconstrued – “But if a choice was there and the act was not a purely reflex one (or a heuristically performed reaction), then the act (choice) had been simulated and prefigured before performing it: prefiguring - programming - executing - realizing. Consciousness is there BEFORE as well as AFTER the act.”

Thank you for your post.
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Re: consciousness or unconsciousness?

Postby doogles on May 2nd, 2017, 7:06 am 

Old Rasputin, thank you again for the response. YES, I have to agree with you once again – “I take it that you still believe ‘recognition’ lag time still exists, …right? You agree that the “knowing” of an event is always after the event (even if by only .000000000000000001 second). The logic still holds true that the knowing (of the event) is after the event. The only thing in question, is by how much, ...true?”

AGREED – what you say is strictly correct.

"The knowing (consciousness) can only follow, or be AFTER that which it knows. It is not possible for this consciousness to be “in sync” with (or before) the real-time of reality. For what ‘content’ or ‘event’ or ‘act’ is this consciousness conscious of? Something must exist before the knowing of this something can exist."

YES. But to no practical real life purpose in my opinion.

I think this paragraph is your premise for what you say next – “And again, because we are such smart dudes, we know that there is always a transmission time-lag, which is “out of sync” by as much as 7 seconds, from the real events happening in ‘real-time’ (at Fenway Park) to the events that we see/hear happening in my living room. For example, at the time while we are watching (from my living room) the pitcher going through his pre-pitch wind-up, the batter (at Fenway Park) has already hit the ball over the fence, and is running the bases, ...we just don’t know it yet (we have to wait 7 seconds to see this part). So now we know two things, we know that what we see/hear in my living room is not only just a ‘representation’, but it is also a ‘time-delayed’ representation.”

I appreciate and enjoyed your description of people watching sports events. You’ve perfectly described me in shorts and singlet with a beer watching the TV. I can identify with that. I’m really a slob at heart. But I have to question this as a premise.

I would like to preface what I’m going to say with an appreciation to you for using a concrete example. I know exactly what you are talking about, and this discussion I’m having with you is one of the least frustrating I’ve ever had with anyone in the broad field of ‘conscientiousness’ discussions.

To my mind, the time delay of 7 seconds, or even days or years (if I take a DVD off my shelf to watch) is of absolutely no consequence as to what I see on the screen. I’ll try to explain with another concrete example. In order to avoid any thoughts of delays in the event, imagine that I‘ve just asked my grand-daughter to put a Clint Eastwood DVD into the Bluetooth and bring it up onto the TV screen. I ask her to start it just before I come into the room. What I see on the screen hits my retina at 186,000 mph, and as in the example of the 40 mph I see that retinal impression as a continuous story, even though there has been a delay of 35 years since it was acted out in a movie studio. And I agree there is a technical delay of 10#-18 s before it hit my retina.

I believe we are very close to a final agreement in that.

“Everything that we currently see/hear/smell/touch/think/feel/etc is already just a time-delayed (mental) representation playing in our heads right now! Everything we know exists and is on display in our heads (imaginations) right now.”

Yes! Yes! Yes! But only by 10#-18 s. I have to admit that is pedantically correct to my mind. But it does warrant the question of whether such a negligible delay in the light reaching our retinas has any significance with anything at real life level.

"So then, does this mean that ‘real events’ (including our own bodily actions) occur in the future of our present knowing?”


I still have a problem with your perspective that events occur in the FUTURE of our knowing. If there is a delay in the processing of any event, hasn’t it happened in real time PRIOR to our becoming aware of it. Our sensory organs are processing events AFTER they have occurred. We are not seeing the future. We are seeing the PAST but with miniscule and insignificant time delay.

As you probably know, we hear thunder about 5 seconds per mile distance AFTER we see the lightning event that causes the thunder.

But sincerely, I really appreciate the fact that you used concrete examples for us to talk about.
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Re: consciousness or unconsciousness?

Postby doogles on May 2nd, 2017, 7:18 am 

vivianmaxine, I’m still waiting for a chance to answer your original question about unconscious planning and strategizing and am still keen to have a go at that because I believe the issue has a lot to do with each of us understanding ourselves.

I had a look at the website you discussed. This is an extract “The default mode network is most commonly shown to be active when a person is not focused on the outside world and the brain is at wakeful rest, such as during daydreaming and mind-wandering. But it is also active when the individual is thinking about others, thinking about themselves, remembering the past, and planning for the future.[3][4] The network activates "by default" when a person is not involved in a task. Though the DMN was originally noticed to be deactivated in certain goal-oriented tasks and is sometimes referred to as the task-negative network,[5] it can be active in other goal-oriented tasks such as social working memory or autobiographical tasks.[6] The DMN has been shown to be negatively correlated with other networks in the brain such as attention networks.[7] Thinking about others also could include guessing their thoughts, emotions, and psychological motivations.”

It seems to me to be new-fangled terminology for what I would like to talk about in concrete examples, if we get past “conscious acts’.

DEFAULT MODE NETWORK is Cognitive Theory jargon. I may get a chance to have a go at explaining it in plain English one day

Just to keep perspective as to where we are in this thread, you’ll recall we set out to discuss unconscious planning and strategizing. But then somebody suggested we should first make it clear what we regard as conscious planning or acts or whatever, before we get into un-, semi-, sub-conscious planning and strategizing. That’s where we are at the moment.

We may appear to have gone off track to some extent, but with neuro’s and Old Rasputin’s input, I think it has been somewhat productive. Although I would like to move on in one way, I can see that on this subject of ‘conscious acts’ alone if we acted as a collective think tank with the aim of just simply listing as many concrete examples of ‘consciousness’ or ‘conscious acts’, as I said to neuro, we could begin to list the single properties or clusters of properties exclusive to the conscious state and perhaps come up with a genuine definition.

But then I’m always a daydreaming optimist.
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Re: consciousness or unconsciousness?

Postby Old Rasputin on May 2nd, 2017, 12:23 pm 

Doogles, I see two conflicts to our mutual understandings.

1. The speed of light is a 'red herring' to this discussion.
2. You seem to have difficulty grasping the relationship of ‘real-time’ (the world of reality) versus ‘conscious time’ (the world we live in).


doogles wrote:
Old Rasputin wrote:Everything that we currently see/hear/smell/touch/think/feel/etc is already just a time-delayed (mental) representation playing in our heads right now! Everything we know exists and is on display in our heads (imaginations) right now.

Yes! Yes! Yes! But only by 10#-18 s.

No! No! No! This has NOTHING to do with the speed of light (or the speed of sound). This has everything to do with after the light hits our retina, and after the sound waves tingle/vibrate our ear drums, and after our skin contacts an object, and after… (etc etc).

Your constant reference to the speed of light is a ‘red herring’ to this discussion. I don’t really give a flip how long it takes for the signal to reach our sense organs. I am talking about the recognition time; the mental processing time to convert these sensory signals into a recognizable picture/image/sounds/concepts/etc in our head that we are then ‘conscious’ (knowing) of.

Note: we don’t and can’t see (experience) ‘real’ objects. What we see (experience) is actually a mentally painted/constructed representation (image) floating in our heads. This recognition consumes time and memory to translate sensory inputs into a recognizable copy/picture/image floating in our imagination.


doogles wrote:
Old Rasputin wrote:So then, does this mean that ‘real events’ (including our own bodily actions) occur in the future of our present knowing?

I still have a problem with your perspective that events occur in the FUTURE of our knowing. If there is a delay in the processing of any event, hasn’t it happened in real time PRIOR to our becoming aware of it. Our sensory organs are processing events AFTER they have occurred. We are not seeing the future. We are seeing the PAST but with miniscule and insignificant time delay.

You only have a problem of seeing these as ‘future’ events, because you assume your consciousness is happening in ‘real-time’. But the events in ‘real-time’ has already passed us, …we just are not ‘privy’ to these events just yet (we have to wait .15 seconds or whatever before we can ‘know’ these events).

Using my earlier baseball example, in our conscious world (in my living room), at the same time that we saw the pitcher start his wind-up, the batter in ‘real-time’ (in the ‘real world’ at Fenway Park) already hit the ball over the fence, …we just are not ‘privy’ to (knowing of) these events just yet. We have to wait (7 seconds) till these 'future' events play out in our conscious world (in my living room) before we can know of them.

Again, you may say the time delay is insignificant and therefore does not affect anything. I say you are missing the point. The exact time is not important/relevant. It is the chronological relationship that is important. It is the understanding that reality is in the 'future' to our present knowing. This means that the real stuff happening in reality (including our bodily actions) are not within our conscious control or doing.

Our consciousness, in effect is just an after-effect!
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Re: consciousness or unconsciousness?

Postby Braininvat on May 2nd, 2017, 12:54 pm 

No case has really been made that a time delay in our perceptual systems would actually prevent us from planning and deliberating what we are going to do next. I don't see any great importance in a slight delay between me hitting the curveball with my bat (to go with the baseball analogies here), and my awareness of the "crack!" I saw the curveball coming and there was sufficient time for me to decide that it going to be over home plate and that it was a pitch worth swinging at, and that I shouldn't take a strike and wait for a fastball.... and so I decided to take a swing. My reaction/response time was good enough to do the job. The entire chat about time delays and "everything we perceive actually happened a few milliseconds ago" seems not too germane to the forum topic. No one would disagree we are "seeing" mental representations with our "mind's eye."

When we make choices, it's possible for nothing to be happening in our external environment, and a series of cognitive processes leads us to a "fork in the road" (to oversimplify many choices, I realize) where we decide which course of action might be the best choice at some point when we are engaged with our external environs. We might even, for quirky personal reasons, choose the second-to-best course of action. We are thus actively engaged with the world and our minds are not a mere epiphenomenon, as RJG aka Old Rasputin, keeps insisting. Also, a couple members who went through some of this with RJG a couple years ago, should be aware that they are chatting with the same person, in case that would affect their level of commitment to doing this all over again.
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Re: consciousness or unconsciousness?

Postby Braininvat on May 2nd, 2017, 1:03 pm 

Here's one of the RJG threads on this same topic, in all its 9 page glory:

http://sciencechatforum.com/viewtopic.php?f=51&t=25347&hilit=delay


It may be worth looking at, if this all seems rather familiar.
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