If consciousness is a process, then it is an unconscious one

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If consciousness is a process, then it is an unconscious one

Postby neuro on March 2nd, 2018, 11:45 am 

This thread is a spin-off from the What is CTD? thread.
The statement in the title may appear to be a kind of odd contradictory statement but it instead states a quite obvious, I would even say trivial, truth.

If consciousness is a spectator, a metaphysical subject who takes note of what happens in the brain, then she would necessarily have a delayed perception of what occurs (because of the delays introduced by external stimuli reaching and stimulating her sensory receptors and by the neural processing needed to detect and interpret the stimuli).

On the other hand, if consciousness is a process, i.e. a specific computational capability of brain circuits that makes it possible for a person to synchronize their cognitive and motor behavior with what happens outside (so that one can appropriately react), it is obvious that such computational activity cannot be conscious.

The feeling of being conscious would arise from such process as the perception that events are occurring now, that I am deciding now how to behave and that I am enacting a behavior now, although I cannot be aware of what is actually happening NOW, I must have decided what to do IN ADVANCE in order to be able to do it NOW, and I cannot be aware of what I am actually doing NOW because I have not received proprioceptive information about my movements yet.

Such synchronization of behavior with external events is achieved by means of computation of what must be happening now and in the near future, based on sensory data about what has happened up to few hundreds ms ago, and of what I must program to do next in order to meet real external events in time when they occur.

Such process cannot be conscious, because it is a coincidence of three elaborations that are out of register in time, and being conscious of this would produce a fracture in the spatial and temporal unity of consciousness, i.e. dissociation.

Indeed, I feel this possibly is the most evident counterproof against dualism, i.e. against the existence of a metaphysical entity (call it consciousness or whatever you like) which needs the brain to perceive external reality (which would be perceived with a delay) and to accordingly produce behavior (which must instead be programmed in advance).
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Re: If consciousness is a process, then it is an unconscious

Postby zetreque on March 2nd, 2018, 11:57 am 

Evolutionary speaking doesn't it better the chances of survival if one is conscious and can predict future outcomes? The act of being conscious and evolving consciousness doesn't have to be conscious to work. I personally think that humanity needs a HUGE breakthrough/evolutionary step in consciousness if they are to survive as a species over the next 100k+ years if we can even survive as a species over the next 100.
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Re: If consciousness is a process, then it is an unconscious

Postby neuro on March 2nd, 2018, 12:06 pm 

zetreque » March 2nd, 2018, 4:57 pm wrote:The act of being conscious and evolving consciousness doesn't have to be conscious to work.

precisely...
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Re: If consciousness is a process, then it is an unconscious

Postby Asparagus on March 2nd, 2018, 12:27 pm 

@Neuro
It's a perspective that comes with conundrums, but all perspectives do. The observer is one pole of consciousness. The other pole is the observed.
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Re: If consciousness is a process, then it is an unconscious

Postby doogles on March 4th, 2018, 3:51 am 

I have a small problem with the premise of this thread - that consciousness is a process. This thread is a spin-off from 'What is CTD?', and although RJG and I agreed to disagree in that thread at the finish, that dialogue did expand my thinking to a large extent.

RJG used a basic example of a person becoming conscious of a moving car in the street outside of her house and he pointed out to everyone's agreement that the car had moved 9 feet by the time the lady 'became conscious of it'. That was because of CTD, which relates to her neural circuits' natural delay time in transmitting, translating (matching the identity with current brain image stores, computing and adjusting for movement) the image on the retina to the mind's eye where the final product is a recognised as a 'small blue car travelling at about 40 kph'.

This is the actual minor point where RJG and I agreed to disagree. He believed that consciousness of the car occurs AFTER recognition, but I maintain that RECOGNITION (the image finally appearing in the mind's eye) IS the point in time of conscious awareness.

This is the point in time when the lady becomes conscious of the car moving down her street. This recognition stage in the mind's eye IS conscious awareness to my way of thinking.

It is a point in time and is not so much a process in itself, but the END result of a process -- Conscious(ness?) Time Delay. .... of an external object in this case.
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This raises questions of terminology.

CTD was discussed in terms of conscious awareness of things. One can be conscious but not 'consciously aware' - driving on autopilot is a common case in point. Stop for a moment and consider that.

But 'consciousness' itself could be a totally different thing. I think the following example of the woman whose consciousness was turned on and off by switching an electrode on and off is an example. -- http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg2 ... E4YgLBxljo "It now looks as if Crick and Koch were on to something. In a study published last week, Mohamad Koubeissi at the George Washington University in Washington DC and his colleagues describe how they managed to switch a woman's consciousness off and on by stimulating her claustrum. The woman has epilepsy so the team were using deep brain electrodes to record signals from different brain regions to work out where her seizures originate. One electrode was positioned next to the claustrum, an area that had never been stimulated before. When the team zapped the area with high frequency electrical impulses, the woman lost consciousness. She stopped reading and stared blankly into space, she didn't respond to auditory or visual commands and her breathing slowed. As soon as the stimulation stopped, she immediately regained consciousness with no memory of the event. The same thing happened every time the area was stimulated during two days of experiments (Epilepsy and Behavior, doi.org/tgn)."

In this case, consciousness could be called a state of mind, rather than a 'process' because it could be switched on and off.

I'm attempting to use scenarios as explanations here so that semantics don't complicate the issue. Please respond in kind.

So is it fair enough to say that basically, 'conscious awareness' is different from ' a state of consciousness'. I'll use the scenario of driving a car on autopilot again just to emphasise the difference. All of us at any time can be in a state of consciousness, but driving on autopilot.

And maybe just to clarify (or confuse) things further, many imagists use the term 'streams of consciousness' or 'trains of thought' to describe those sequential series of scenarios that flit into our minds when we are giving a speech or relating a story. I think we've all experienced a loss of our train of thought at times.

It could also apply to daydreaming in which case we can safely state the title of this thread 'If consciousness is a process, then it is an unconscious one'. I see the title of this thread relevant only to daydreaming. We also have to be conscious (in the terms of a switched-on claustrum) even to daydream un- or sub-consciously.

Conscious awareness from external stimuli, or from internal machinations IS an image that occurs in (or on) the mind's eye. Yes, there are delays, but conscious awareness does happen almost every waking minute in our daily lives. (See new thread)
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Re: If consciousness is a process, then it is an unconscious

Postby wolfhnd on March 4th, 2018, 5:25 am 

I have always thought sleep walking offers some insight into consciousness. It appears that memory may play a part.
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Re: If consciousness is a process, then it is an unconscious

Postby mitchellmckain on March 9th, 2018, 2:20 am 

neuro » March 2nd, 2018, 10:45 am wrote:The statement in the title may appear to be a kind of odd contradictory statement but it instead states a quite obvious, I would even say trivial, truth.

Indeed! I would say that it is quite obvious that a great deal is going on "under the hood" so to speak.

Though I should point out that this particularly refers to human consciousness, i.e. the consciousness of the conscious human mind, since I believe the word consciousness applies to all life of every kind. Accordingly what we refer to as unconscious processes in human functionality are actually forms of consciousness in their own right. They are just not the focus of what we call the conscious human mind.
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Re: If consciousness is a process, then it is an unconscious

Postby zetreque on March 9th, 2018, 3:08 am 

mitchellmckain » Thu Mar 08, 2018 10:20 pm wrote:
neuro » March 2nd, 2018, 10:45 am wrote:The statement in the title may appear to be a kind of odd contradictory statement but it instead states a quite obvious, I would even say trivial, truth.

Indeed! I would say that it is quite obvious that a great deal is going on "under the hood" so to speak.

Though I should point out that this particularly refers to human consciousness, i.e. the consciousness of the conscious human mind, since I believe the word consciousness applies to all life of every kind. Accordingly what we refer to as unconscious processes in human functionality are actually forms of consciousness in their own right. They are just not the focus of what we call the conscious human mind.


Throughout glancing at people posting on this subject over the past few days, the thought keeps coming to my mind about the definition of consciousness to me is a matter sensory inputs which allow a life-form to be aware of the world and interact with it. Anyway, I agree that the word consciousness applies to all life.
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Re: If consciousness is a process, then it is an unconscious

Postby BadgerJelly on March 9th, 2018, 3:43 am 

I think it is precisely the problem of defining "life" and "consciousness" that gets us into semnatical knots!

I generally assume consciousness as being part of a nervous system (at least!) That doesn't mean I think plants are not "living".

I find it funny that it is only through watching other people walk that we can imagine how we ourselves look (assuming we're unable to see our reflection!) This is why Aristotle's Poetics caught my attention in regards to mimcry - which was then further enriched by what I read about Geertz report in Bali and how people interacted with a stage performance ("religious mythological performance").
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Re: If consciousness is a process, then it is an unconscious

Postby zetreque on March 9th, 2018, 3:52 am 

BadgerJelly » Thu Mar 08, 2018 11:43 pm wrote:I think it is precisely the problem of defining "life" and "consciousness" that gets us into semnatical knots!


Until we figure out telepathy, I think one of the most important things to any conversation is defining words and what we are talking. It would probably eliminate most of the problems people have in debates and eliminate a lot of wasted time.

Doing so, we might just find out that we actually ALL agree on everything once we understand each others definitions and where we separate and why.
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Re: If consciousness is a process, then it is an unconscious

Postby BadgerJelly on March 10th, 2018, 4:09 am 

And from this we can then begin to agree, I hope, that animals are different from plants and that the major feature that is different is consciousness. Then we can look at other attributes of animals and suggest that mobility is something that at least correlates with consciousness.

I remember watching a talk about a certain sea creature that grow a brain for the sole purpose of motility. Once it landed in a new spot it then bedded down and consumed its own brain - because it was of no further use.

Then there is the issue of communication. Plants communicate information and so do animals. Even insects have a capacity to exchange and "understand" information about the surrounding world. They are able to use abstract pieces of data from other individuals and act accordingly.

From this what can we really say?

Brains are needed for immediate motility and to navigate the world. As a product of being able to navigate the world greater success goes hand in hand with an ability to order the increased and ever changing data sets (due to the ability to move), then time and distance are discovered, and means of communicating information then allows "simulated" exploration - if we're told what something is like we learn. Then there is the mishmash of correlating information and the ever growing need to simplify and order information, as well as to exchange and recognize the most applicable and useful patterns to continue the investigation.

I think the success of the YES or NO answer to order information into X or Y has led to confliction of data sets. What conscious awareness appears to be, in my mind, is something that enables contrary sets of information to be broken down into parts and given value - this is both a weighing of emotional wants and of possible outcomes; this is the confusion of conscioius awareness, it has to be confused to deal with confusing information.

I think if we could truly "understand" it we wouldn't need it.
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Re: If consciousness is a process, then it is an unconscious

Postby sponge on March 10th, 2018, 7:05 am 

I think the whole confusion around this issue arises because of the distinction between consciousness and conscious awareness. We naturally place ''ourselves' alongside the feeling of conscious awareness and imagine that we are directing operations from there. It takes a shift in thinking to imagine the self as the decision-maker in the subconscious brain (which is actually not truly sub-conscious but merely has no conscious awareness as we know it.)

This strange possibility is given more credence by the common experiences of inspiration and creativity which are not driven by sensory input (although they may be triggered by such) and yet have logical pathways and conclusions.

Directional thought and problem-solving also points to a decisive element in the subconscious processes of consciousness, as does lucid dreaming, blind sight, etc.

This idea does not need to be viewed as a ghost in the machine or any supernatural influence. The recent work on A1 type machines is evidence of the possibility of 'mechanical' and computational possibilities of problem solving in an automatic way.

This would also account for the delay in this decision-making becoming available to the awareness of the brain.

Conscious awareness, in this scenario, becomes the final element in the whole process of consciousness.
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Re: If consciousness is a process, then it is an unconscious

Postby Neri on March 13th, 2018, 4:18 pm 

Neuro,

This so-called “CTD” is patent rubbish, and I will not waste my time commenting further on it.

Your own comments have a number of logical errors, which I will now set forth.

First of all, it is patent nonsense to say, “We only think we are conscious, but we are deceived because consciousness is only an illusion.” Who is this “we”? —an unconscious “we.” Can one who is unconscious be deceived?

Can one who is utterly without consciousness experience an illusion? Indeed, can he experience anything at all?

The experience of consciousness is the reality itself.

It is not something that can be argued away, for we cannot argue in the first place unless we are conscious. The mere fact that you are disputing the reality of consciousness establishes your own consciousness.

There is nothing about which we may be more certain than our own consciousness. If you are aware of what I am saying, you are conscious, whether you agree or not. I do not know how to put it plainer that that.

When one says that thought is a process, one has to decide at the outset whether it is a continuous or discontinuous process. This makes all the difference.

A discontinuous temporal process consists of a series of discrete intervals that are bordered by instants (temporal points). These instants must themselves have a temporal expanse of naught else they would themselves be intervals.

But, even if they were intervals, they could never serve as perfect borders, for they would be subject to an infinite division into progressively smaller intervals that, however, could never be reduced to naught.

This raises the obvious question: Can a temporal point exist as part of the real world? One may see at once that this raises a more serious question: Can anything real exist for no time at all (for a duration of naught)? The answer fairly leaps to the mind. Such a thing is impossible.

Accordingly, because both a temporal interval and a temporal point are merely things of the mind and not of the real world, the same must be said of a series.

It follows from this that if thought is a process of the real world--as we are compelled to admit--then thought itself and hence consciousness must be a continuous process.

This does not mean that we cannot become unconscious or, if unconscious, cannot become conscious again. It means only that the demarcation between the two cannot be perfectly determined, for any such thing must occur with some expense of time, however brief.

We try to impress our particular way of thinking on the world, but, in the final analysis, we can never achieve instantaneity. Consider the following example.

We view high noon as the perfect demarcation between morning and afternoon. This makes it an instant in the sense of a temporal point.

If I say I want you to fire a shot exactly when high noon arrives, but I want no part of the shot to extend into either the morning or the afternoon, such a thing would be impossible; for if the firing of the shot had no temporal duration at all [as high noon must], then the firing can never have happened.

As a consequence it cannot ever actually be high noon.

Because, in the example, high noon was the present, it must be the case that the present never actually happens.

Thus, the present [like the past and future] are only ideas by which we make sense of our perceptions of the real world.

The world itself, like consciousness, is in continuous flux, and there are no perfect demarcations. The latter are only things of the mind—pure ideas impressed on our experience of the world.

The important point is this: The mind makes the present. The present does not cause in us the experience of it, for there is no such thing as a present independent of the mind.

I should make it clear that ideas such as past, present and future have great practical utility. In fact, we need them to have meaningful experience of the world.

The human brain is such that it can make no sense of a continuous flux. It seems that we are naturally disposed to experience separate temporal intervals, and indeed this idea has served us quite well throughout history.

Here, however, we are not talking about utility but rather about truth—by which I mean the correspondence of experience to reality.

However, it must be borne in mind that there can never be a perfect coincidence between the world and our ideas of the world, for perfect coincidence is itself only an idea that has no counterpart in the real world.

We have only a rough kind of correspondence that is sufficient to preserve us from the dangers that lie outside of the mind.

But, if past, present and future are really not a series, how are such demarcations formed in our conscious experience?

I have explained this previously but will repeat it again here.

The mind reflects the continuous transitions of the world, and consciousness itself is in continuous transition. Indeed, consciousness itself is nothing more than a kind of memory.

Perception gauges the continuous flow of reality through memory. Without memory, one would forget the earlier aspects of a perception by the time he got to the later ones. Indeed, without memory, I would forget the beginning of this sentence by the time I got to the end.

But, what do people mean when they say something is happening “here and now”? They cannot mean it happens with absolutely no expense of time, for that would mean that nothing really happens, for nothing can occur in an unextended present with no spillover into either the past or future.

By saying that an event is “occurring right before my eyes” or “here and now,” one means:

(1) That, for one reason or another, one has focused on some local aspect of the continuous happenings that constitute the real world.

(2) The inception of one’s focus becomes the “beginning” of “now,” for “now” must be an undetermined interval and not an instant.

(3) When one loses focus on an event either because he can no longer perceive its progress or losses interest, he says the event has ended.

(4) Hence, his “here and now” is the variable and underdetermined interval during which he is in the actual process of perceiving the event to which his attention has been drawn. It is neither an instant not a perfect interval. It has a subjective and not an objective ontology.

(5) The past consists of memories of events when they are no longer in the process of being perceived.

(6) The future is the name given to events that are not yet capable of being perceived. The expression “yet” in this context refers to the fundamental distinction between the potential and the actual.

An experience once established, remains continuous until one loses focus. Further, that experience reflects what is actually happening in the real world in the sequence that it happens there. It is the very being in the process of perceiving an event in the real world that one calls “the present time.”

Further, the progress of the perception is near enough to the progress of the real event for one to take appropriate action to avoid danger should the circumstances require it. This gives perception its evolutionary value.

To say that time is not analyzable, as a series does not mean that nothing ever happens, as Parmenides and Einstein maintained.

The problem is that they take the thing backwards. It is not time that makes happening possible. Rather, it is happening that is responsible for the idea of time.

That is, the idea of time is derived from the fact that things move and change. That is, time is discursive and not intuitive. Yet because time is derived from happening, it is well founded in reality and not pure illusion.

By the way, as I have pointed out previously, my explanation eliminates the McTaggart problem and accounts for the reality of happening and consequently of time.

As you may know, McTaggart argued that an “A- Series” (containing present, past and future) is contradictory, because any point in the vast expanse of time may be considered the present depending on the point of view.

Thus, he concluded that although past, present and future do account for the “flow of time,” the scheme is completely illogical.

The “B-Series” he describes as a series of temporal objects having a certain geometric relation to each other. In this case, if time were described as a line, it would point in only one direction (unidirectional co-ordinate). His “C-Series” is the same except it describes a bi-direction geometric series.

He says that the B-series and the C-series are inadequate, because they do not explain the “flow of Time.” That is, they cannot account for motion and change.

His final conclusion is that no possible series is sufficient to account for time. Therefore, time is illusory.

However, this conclusion depends entirely upon the premise that time is a series.

Because a temporal series can only be described by temporal points and because such things do not exist in the real world, a series is just an idea.

Time itself is an idea derived from happening, and the idea of a series is derived from the idea of time.

However, because both the ideas of time and series are based upon the reality of happening, they are well founded in reality.

This does not mean that time and series are real in their own right, for they can never coincide with reality in the way they purport to.

Yet it does mean that their correspondence to reality is sufficient for all the practical purposes of mankind.
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