Unity of Consciousness?

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Unity of Consciousness?

Postby T. Burbank on March 12th, 2021, 4:55 am 

While reading Dave_C’s interesting thread I began studying my own experience more closely, to see if I could define p-consciousness myself. And as an unexpected result I now have to question the so-called “unity of consciousness.”

But before continuing… a vocabulary note: In this post, the term “being conscious of” is limited in meaning to “having direct conscious experience of.” It does not also have the sense of “knowing/being aware of” that is common in everyday speech (as in e.g. “I am conscious of their feelings.”) So with the p-conscious experience that I refer to here clearly understood – as a direct, firsthand phenomenon – this is how my own experience leads me to understand things:

1. “P-consciousness” is a noun with two different meanings. The meaning that Dave’s thread seems most concerned with is “being p-conscious of” things – sights, sounds, the movements of our bodies through space and time, thoughts, sense of self, etc.

2. But to me, the clearly more vital use of the noun “p-consciousness” is in reference to the subject of the manifold of p-conscious experiences – i.e. to their “experiencer.” If these are rightly called “experiences,” then the existence of a continuing p-consciousness that experiences them seems obvious.

But when I try to analyze the nature of this continually existing experiencer (or “subject,” which is the same thing) of these diverse p-conscious experiences… it becomes clear that there is not just one subject, experiencing them all together as a diverse but unified whole. Instead, there seem to be two subjects – of separate (although of course still concurrent) sets of experiences:

3. First, there seems to be an intelligent, actively involved subject – call him my “I” (in quotation marks) – that is directly p-conscious of one group of my experiences. The most obvious experiences that “I” am directly conscious of, on Chalmers’ list, are:

a) the thoughts that “I” am thinking (often but not always using the English language),
b) any of various kinds of mental images that these thoughts can call up, and
c) my sense of self, which is ever-present as well.

(btw I don’t get Chalmers’ claim that one only “sometimes feels” one’s sense of self, and that it “sometimes seems illusory.” My sense of self is always a very evident part of my conscious life. Isn’t yours?)

4. But (and here is the unexpected part, at least to me) this “I” of mine is in fact not directly conscious of most of my other p-conscious experiences – my visual, auditory, olfactory, gustatory and tactile sensations, my feelings of pain, hot and cold, emotions, etc. To my “I,” when it tries to analyze those experiences, they seem to just be there as it were, already experienced without it. Their first-hand, direct experiencer is unknown, but that elusive entity – for kicks I’ll call it the “Hoozit” – doesn’t seem to be experiencing them via the active, reflective use of intelligence, as “I” experience my thoughts. Experience is impossible without intelligence, though, so perhaps these kinds of experience are based on passive intelligence?...

To reiterate, however, the first-hand experiencer of that set of conscious phenomena is definitely not my “I.” Because “I” don’t feel pain, for example (although of course I, without quotation marks, do). “I” somehow know of the pain in the finger that I slammed in the cupboard door last week, but the actual experience of that pain is not something that “I” am involved in like “I” am in my experience of thinking.

5. I’m probably not communicating my point too clearly, so… another example: Have you ever been out on the street at night, waiting for the last bus maybe, and it’s January and you’re shivering almost out of control? Your entire being owned by how cold it is? But then thought “Hey, stop over-reacting this ain’t Saskatchewan!” And let yourself relax, and pulled your thoughts back away from your body to the temperature-less place where your “I” is headquartered, inside your head. As your shivering eases and you realize “It’s not ‘me’ that feels cold anyway, it’s just my body. The cold can’t get to ‘me’ if I don’t let it.” ?

I have always found this experience interesting (especially as a clue to how pain-free dental surgery without anesthesia is possible, using hypnosis). But it only hit me recently that it means that I am p-consciously experiencing two opposing phenomena at the same time – a) the cold feeling dominating my body, and b) my realization that “I” am not cold. Showing that there are (at least) two separate parts of my mind having p-conscious experiences.

6. Okay then… so this “I,” this thinking subject, is not the direct experiencer of p-conscious phenomena like coldness. But it can focus attention on them, and seemingly add to their content when it does. Additions which “I” do seem to experience directly. Suppose e.g. that I’m walking in the woods with my wife, my “I” deep in p-conscious speculation about what p-zombies might have to teach us so that it is only the sound of her talking beside me that I also experience, and not what she says. But then, before getting busted for inattentiveness, I shift focus from abstruse philosophical constructs to her, whereupon two interesting things happen at once: a) the thoughts that I was just thinking blink instantly out of existence, and b) “I” now know what she is saying.

How do we characterize what has happened in this case? Am “I” adding conscious content to my Hoozit’s auditory experience that wasn’t previously there? Or was it there all along somehow, even if I couldn’t possibly know of it? An interesting question… for another time I guess….

7. The concern of this post has been to question the assumption that all of one’s p-conscious experiences make up a seamless, unified whole. This seems usually taken for granted, as common sense, but many philosophers also try to justify it in various ways, including Michael Tye, Tim Bayne and David Chalmers, and Barry Dainton (and there are of course some including Daniel Dennett who deny it).

I believe a close look shows that a person’s p-conscious experiences are in fact not all unified (at least not at the conscious level). A close look indicates that there are two distinct subjects, of two distinct sets of experiences that only seem to make up a unified whole. That they do seem united is I suppose a result of two things – first, in part, the fact that they are concurrent; and second, probably more importantly, because a person’s “I,” in knowing of its Hoozit’s experiences, tends to mistakenly assume that it is the one experiencing them itself….

8. To conclude, a quick summary comparison of the two subjects of my p-conscious experience:

One of them, the Hoozit, is capable of direct experience of a huge diversity of perceptual phenomena – sensory, bodily, emotional. Much of what makes my life so magical when I ever stop to notice. At the same time, however… it doesn’t show the slightest hint of any p-consciousness of its own existence. It is not self-conscious. I guess because a “sense of self” is a cognitive construct, and not a type of sensation that can register with my Hoozit.

(Talk of “pre-reflective consciousness” is thus accurate, but not talk of the pre-reflective self-consciousness postulated by some).

9. The other experiencer, my so-called “I” (sometimes aka “the Thinker”), is very self-conscious. And in addition to being directly p-conscious of the set of phenomena that it itself specializes in, it knows of (and can even fill out at least some of) the p-conscious experiences of the Hoozit – even though not itself capable of the sensory perceptions that they involve.

It does not though truly know of its mysterious brother’s existence but can only logically infer it, since, as pointed out, there is no sense of a self among the set of the Hoozit’s p-conscious experiences that my “I” has access to.

10. But there is still a puzzle here then, finally. Because how does my “I” come to know of its “brother”’s experiences? What is the mechanism through which it is informed of experiences not its own? There has to be something with connections to both my “I” and my Hoozit to make this possible. And depending upon what that something is (e.g. if it’s some distinct higher-order mental state), then my consciousness may I guess turn out to be linked all together after all. My alleged mind as a whole, the I without quotation marks, could be a real thing (just not a conscious real thing apparently).
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Re: Unity of Consciousness?

Postby Serpent on March 12th, 2021, 9:45 am 

It's just this:
https://www.webmd.com/brain/picture-of-the-brain
All our experience is processed in the brain, which is made up of parts and compartments of different evolutionary age and have different functions. It's performing so many tasks that if we tried to be aware of them all, we'd never have time for a single intelligent thought. It's directing the internal functioning of organs, muscles, glands; hardware maintenance and repair, biological feedback, sensory input reception, information processing, storage and retrieval, autonomic response to stimuli, automatic motion, orientation and locomotion - all before you even become conscious of a sensation, let alone produce anything so complicated as a word for the sensation you're experiencing. Only after that does the self-aware problem solving even begin:
Cold.
Cold bad.
Fix cold.
How?
Depends... how's it expressing?
Shivers, tight skin, hairs bristling, clenched muscles, huddled posture.
Try to take over control of the symptoms.
Do what?
Unclench, shake loose, relax...
Now, distance yourself: the cold is outside; inside I'm warm; warm-blooded animal; let inside warmth circulate.
Better.
Hey, look! A bus! Warm in there, look at the steamy windows!
That was an intelligent cause-effect observation.
I know.
So do I.
Me too.
All those brains take time to communicate. Not a huge amount of time, milliseconds, mostly, but if we pay attention to those delays, we experience a multiplicity of self.
In order to write philosophical treatises, botanical textbooks, dystopian novels and songs for grotesquely masked singers, we need to tune out most of what our brain is doing most of the time and liberate the excess capacity.... which we then experience as our "true" or "higher" self.
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Re: Unity of Consciousness?

Postby charon on March 12th, 2021, 1:40 pm 

Oh, no...

When a subject is unresolved it will keep returning. The other thread ran to eleven pages and was eventually locked. I don't know if we really want to go through all that again.

Do you really have some new information on this or are we just going to rehash it again?
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Re: Unity of Consciousness?

Postby T. Burbank on March 13th, 2021, 2:27 am 

Serpent –

Thank you for taking the time to comment. I know that the brain does a huge bunch of things. The majority of which do not even result in conscious experience. All that I'm saying is that, when I look at my conscious experiences that do result from some of it... I find two very distinct types. Not what is commonly believed, I know, and not what I believed a year ago myself, but so it goes.

Serpent » March 12th, 2021, 11:45 pm wrote:...all before you even become conscious of a sensation, let alone produce anything so complicated as a word for the sensation you're experiencing.

I'm not sure about the statement "you... become conscious of a sensation." It seems that "you" here refers to the thinking part that I am calling the "I." If so, then my point is that the sensation itself is a conscious experience independently of this "you."

Now, distance yourself: the cold is outside; inside I'm warm; warm-blooded animal; let inside warmth circulate.

No, that's not what I’m talking about. Inside, my thinking self-aware "I" is neither warm nor cold because it can't experience those kinds of sensations. Although it knows that they are being experienced (by some other entity then, presumably).
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Re: Unity of Consciousness?

Postby charon on March 13th, 2021, 6:04 am 

T. Burbank is a fanatic who simply ignores what he doesn't want to hear. And he thinks he can solve consciousness. Don't waste your time, Serpent.

Consciousness is what we think and thinking is a single movement. There aren't two of them, just the one. That movement can contradict itself and create all sorts of disorder but it's still a single movement.

The thread title, if it's questioning that singularity, is fallacious and non-factual.

(Otherwise good luck:-))
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Re: Unity of Consciousness?

Postby T. Burbank on March 13th, 2021, 9:04 am 

Charon-

Why do you have this need to insult everyone who disagrees with you? That's really childish.

But okay, I'll try to give you the same respect and take you as seriously as I would someone who didn't behave that way:

Consciousness is what we think and thinking is a single movement. There aren't two of them, just the one.


If this is so, then would you please explain how it is that I can call my dentist and persuade him to make an emergency appointment for me sooner than he wants, while all the time we're talking also feeling the agony of a really severe toothache? Those are not a "single movement," those are two independent conscious experiences going on at once. Or do you think that the toothache is not conscious, since it doesn't involve thinking like the conversation with the dentist does?

Not trying to "solve consciousness" here, by the way. Where'd you get that? Just want to describe it as accurately as I can.
Last edited by T. Burbank on March 13th, 2021, 9:36 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Unity of Consciousness?

Postby T. Burbank on March 13th, 2021, 9:28 am 

charon » March 13th, 2021, 3:40 am wrote:The other thread ran to eleven pages and was eventually locked.

Well, I never did see what the problem with spending 11 pages on a topic was. I would have thought that was a good thing, since it meant people were interested in the topic and taking the trouble to visit this forum and participate.

But beyond that… so what if that active, enthusiastic thread was locked, for whatever reason? Does this mean that members are forbidden to discuss issues related to consciousness ever again in this forum? That would be odd….

Do you really have some new information on this or are we just going to rehash it again?

Did you even read my post, with anything close to a receptive mind? It might be wrong, but it’s ALL new. I never see people making the distinction I make. (Kant did make it, of course, back in the antediluvian day; his intuition vs. understanding is basically my Hoozit vs. “I,” even if he saw their relationship differently than I do….)

My post also brought up the selective attention function of consciousness. Surely an important thing, which I don’t think has ever been discussed here before either.

Not a word about the hard problem of consciousness, weak and strong emergence, the mental-physical dichotomy, or most other things that came up in Dave’s thread. They are not my concerns here. My concern is describing my own experience as accurately as I can, and especially the fact that I am usually having two very different types of conscious experience at once – independently of each other in at least some sense.

If you see that as rehashing something that you already know everything about, then please just ignore this thread completely. Sans insults… you can be better than that.
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Re: Unity of Consciousness?

Postby charon on March 13th, 2021, 11:17 am 

it’s ALL new


In that case it's highly suspect because the professionals have done consciousness to death and still don't get it.

So either you've thought of something which has escaped their notice or... whatever.

1) You haven't commented on what I said re. the thread title.

2) When you separate the experiencer from the experience that's a false division. Without the experiencer there's no experience. It takes the experiencer to know and recognise he's having an experience. If it's not recognised there's no experience. So the one is the other. The experiencer anyway is the sum total of all his other experiences. So experience never liberates, it merely strengthens the whole process.

Now you're positing yet a third entity which you call yourself. But yourself is all this, the experiencer with his knowledge recognising what is around him.

There's no third entity, there's just you which your thinking has divided into various segments. But you're a unit. There's just consciousness or no consciousness. If there's no consciousness as it exists now then there may be something quite different but that different thing can't be experienced by the experiencer because in that state he's not there.

All this was done on the other thread.
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Re: Unity of Consciousness?

Postby Serpent on March 13th, 2021, 12:15 pm 

T. Burbank » March 13th, 2021, 1:27 am wrote:Serpent –

Thank you for taking the time to comment. I know that the brain does a huge bunch of things. The majority of which do not even result in conscious experience.

It's not the sheer amount of non-thinking activity that matters, so much as the different compartments in which activities take place, so that data collected by each 'department' has to be processed and the memo passed along to other departments - in the order of how relevant a particular datum is.
For example, if your left foot has just encountered an obstacle, the parietal lobe notifies the the motor cortex, which then consults the temporal lobe for archival information on this situation has been handled in the past, confers between its two sections and chooses a strategy. (It's actually more complicated than this, but I don't remember everything I learned back then, and a great deal of brain-mapping has taken place since then anyway.) All this happens behind the verbal part of the brain. Only after the messages are sent to the muscles of the legs and word sent back that corrective action has been taken is the frontal lobe informed: "We almost tripped, but it's okay now."

I'm not sure about the statement "you... become conscious of a sensation." It seems that "you" here refers to the thinking part that I am calling the "I."

That is the only "I" that calls itself by any name. The physical, emotional, instinctive I is non-verbal.
If so, then my point is that the sensation itself is a conscious experience independently of this "you."

Independently, yes. Previously, directly and viscerally. Once the the verbal "I" is briefed on what's been taking place behind and beneath its ken - say, a 50 millisecond delay - it processes that experience in a thinking format - turns it into a story and files that story in verbal memory. The motor cortex has already processed it in its own format and filed it in the parietal lobe, another item in motor memory - but "I" is unaware of those actions.

[cold dialogue] No, that's not what I’m talking about. Inside, my thinking self-aware "I" is neither warm nor cold because it can't experience those kinds of sensations. Although it knows that they are being experienced (by some other entity then, presumably).

Not everyone's verbal "I" is capable of that degree of distancing from its physical experience. More acute time-awareness? Longer interval between motor and verbal functions?
It may also be explained, as in your dentist-calling example, by the compartmental brain that carries out several unrelated functions simultaneously. What happens there is that the deliberate "I" - the verbal, thinking consciousess in the frontal lobe - can prioritize functions, so that you suppress the physical experience of pain or cold - or the emotional experience of fear or lust - in favour of the urgent intelligent action required to solve the problem. The thinking brain doesn't lose awareness of the sensation that makes action necessary, just pushes that sensation back down to its responsible department - parietal lobe, cerebellum or whichever compartment owns the processing equipment - while executing its orders. This is probably the basis of heroism - and a good deal of mundane survival.
I suppose it can be achieved deliberately though hypnosis and self-discipline such as yogis practice. Jack London wrote about a state of disconnecting the conscious mind from the physical experience. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/862311.The_Star_Rover
I've never had it myself. Be interesting to learn who does.
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Re: Unity of Consciousness?

Postby T. Burbank on March 14th, 2021, 10:19 am 

Serpent » March 14th, 2021, 2:15 am wrote:Once the the verbal "I" is briefed on what's been taking place behind and beneath its ken - say, a 50 millisecond delay - it processes that experience in a thinking format - turns it into a story and files that story in verbal memory.

That sounds like what I’m thinking. The “I” is not a part of the actual sensory experience, it is only as you say “briefed” on it. Key question being whether the sensory experience is conscious even before the “I” learns of it (to which I’m answering “yes”).

Not everyone's verbal "I" is capable of that degree of distancing from its physical experience.

I guess you must mean “distancing from its awareness of a physical experience”? Because elsewhere in your post it seems like you agree that the “I” doesn’t actually have physical experience. It only knows of physical experience, as a result of having been briefed.

I assume that the “I” can accurately be said to have cognitive experience – i.e. that the verbal “I” is itself the experiencer of its own conscious thoughts, sense of self, etc. But what about that pain in my foot, after just stepping on a tack? I don’t think my “I” is the entity experiencing it. My “I” is here, inside my skull, but the pain is “out there,” three feet away. My foot feels that pain; my “I” can’t feel it even if it tries.

But… how does an event in the brain (the processing of a pain signal) come to be experienced as if it were somewhere outside the brain – way down there in my foot? That isn’t the hard problem, but it is also an interesting one. The neurologist Benjamin Libet’s term for what he thinks must be going on is “subjective referral of sensory experience in space,” and he cites his own experimental work to explain:

"The most obvious and direct illustration of [this]… can be seen when you directly stimulate the cerebral somatosensory cortex. The subject does not feel or experience the resulting sensation as located in the brain, where it was produced. Rather… she subjectively refers the spatial location out from the brain to some bodily structure." (Mind Time, p. 79)

And surely that must be what happens. But then comes the question of what part of my brain is doing this subjective referring. And I don’t see any reason to conclude that it is my “I.” My “I” has a certain set of cognitive abilities, which are pretty miraculous when I stop to think about it, but do any of them seem like what must be involved in the massive, entire universe-creating feat of subjective referral? Well… I’m not sure, to be honest, I go both ways on that question. But for now I’m pinning subjective referral on the Hoozit.

Interesting other quote from Libet, btw (although I don’t know if it’s still valid, 16 years later): “There appears to be no neural mechanism that could be viewed as directly mediating or accounting for the referrals!” (Mind Time, p. 85)
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Re: Unity of Consciousness?

Postby T. Burbank on March 14th, 2021, 10:36 am 

Charon –

1. I meant “ALL new” relative to the other thread.

2. Re: the thread title… My own conclusion is that consciousness has to be unified, at the unconscious level somehow. At the conscious level, its unity is not obvious so should be questioned.

3. You haven’t commented on my phone call to the dentist scenario.
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Re: Unity of Consciousness?

Postby Serpent on March 14th, 2021, 11:33 am 

T. Burbank » March 14th, 2021, 9:19 am wrote:That sounds like what I’m thinking. The “I” is not a part of the actual sensory experience, it is only as you say “briefed” on it. Key question being whether the sensory experience is conscious even before the “I” learns of it (to which I’m answering “yes”).

I suppose, in the same way that an earthworm is conscious. Still 'yes', but on a visceral level, without reflection. There is a long sliding scale of awareness from amoeba to Einstein. The more brains we have - that is, functionally separate neural structures - the more communicating links between them, the more kinds of awareness an individual is capable of experiencing. (Which doesn't mean that every such individual is exercising his every capability at all times.)

I guess you must mean “distancing from its awareness of a physical experience”? Because elsewhere in your post it seems like you agree that the “I” doesn’t actually have physical experience. It only knows of physical experience, as a result of having been briefed.

Yes, but most of us, most of the time, are not conscious of not being conscious of physical experience. The time-lag between event, physical response and briefing may be very short, or may simply be ignored, so that the "I" assumes - owns - the experience, at the same time as, or even before, reflecting on and verbalizing it.

I assume that the “I” can accurately be said to have cognitive experience – i.e. that the verbal “I” is itself the experiencer of its own conscious thoughts, sense of self, etc.

Sounds about right.
But what about that pain in my foot, after just stepping on a tack? I don’t think my “I” is the entity experiencing it. My “I” is here, inside my skull, but the pain is “out there,” three feet away.

I can't say the same. I own my hip, shin, my ankle, and all the pains zigg-zagging up and down that nerve-corridor, every morning when i try to get out of bed quickly, in response to the urging of a bladder, which, too, is entirely mine and experienced as directly as if i were an earthworm.
My foot feels that pain; my “I” can’t feel it even if it tries.

In fact, it's your foot that can't feel anything. All it can do send messages upstairs: "Periphery breach! Sharp object entered skin." Then the parietal lobe interprets that message as a pain, identifies the source and passes that information on to the motor cortex and whoever else is involved in response action.

But… how does an event in the brain (the processing of a pain signal) come to be experienced as if it were somewhere outside the brain – way down there in my foot?

Connecting nerve network. Very efficient GPS.

But then comes the question of what part of my brain is doing this subjective referring.

I'm not that well up on the structure and functions. But there are some excellent sites to look up this information.
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Re: Unity of Consciousness?

Postby TheVat on March 14th, 2021, 2:19 pm 

This thread appears to be mainly about Chalmers would call the "easy problems" of consciousness. Which neuroscience seems to best address. Serpent's comments in particular bring that into focus.

It's always useful to bear in mind that a neurologist will be the first to point out that the nervous system permeates the entire body. It is sometimes a useful perspective in dealing with the external world to view our selves as somewhat separate from our bodies, but there is nothing in neuroscience to suggest this is anything but a convenient fiction. There is no Cartesian homunculus buried in our brains, watching all the happenings.
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Re: Unity of Consciousness?

Postby Serpent on March 14th, 2021, 2:42 pm 

I'm picturing a Dalek... but I suppose it's more like a pair of twin ganglia, holding many hands across the cavernous sinus.
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Re: Unity of Consciousness?

Postby charon on March 14th, 2021, 7:40 pm 

Burbank -

Vat is allowing this to continue so that's fine. You edited after I posted so I've only just seen it.

Consciousness is what we think. Thinking comes from memory, which is knowledge, which is the result of experience of some kind.

That's why thinking is always of things known. If I asked you your address you'd have an instant response. If I asked you mine there'd be no answer, you'd go blank.

Consciousness, which is this whole process, isn't something we possess, like arms or legs, it's what we are. It's absolutely vital one should grasp this. Remove this process of thought and memory and where are you?

The 'you' is a thought, isn't it? 'You' is the whole process of memory/thinking. If all your thought and memory ceased, vanished, you simply wouldn't be there.

If you see this, which is true, you'll answer all the other questions.
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Re: Unity of Consciousness?

Postby Dave_C on March 15th, 2021, 9:43 pm 

This might be pertinent. From Christof Koch:

What is common between the delectable taste of a favorite food, the sharp sting of an infected tooth, the fullness after a heavy meal, the slow passage of time while waiting, the willing of a deliberate act, and the mixture of vitality, tinged with anxiety, just before a competitive event?

All are distinct experiences. What cuts across each is that all are subjective states, and all are consciously felt. Accounting for the nature of consciousness appears elusive, with many claiming that it cannot be defined at all, yet defining it is actually straightforward. Here goes: Consciousness is experience.

That’s it. Consciousness is any experience, from the most mundane to the most exalted. Some distinguish awareness from consciousness; I don’t find this distinction helpful and so I use these two words interchangeably. I also do not distinguish between feeling and experience, although in everyday use feeling is usually reserved for strong emotions, such as feeling angry or in love. As I use it, any feeling is an experience. Collectively taken, then, consciousness is lived reality. It is the feeling of life itself.

But who else, besides myself, has experiences? .....

https://thereader.mitpress.mit.edu/is-c ... verywhere/
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Re: Unity of Consciousness?

Postby charon on March 16th, 2021, 1:39 am 

Oh lord, I don't want to do this. I'm very interested but I feel it's been done already. I feel we're flogging a dead horse.

You say there's something new, etc. I doubt it very much because consciousness is what it is, it hasn't changed. It's what we've said before.

Look at this latest thing now: 'Consciousness is experience'.

What does that mean? What is experience? All things you remember that have happened to you? That's the past, it's gone, no longer living, right? So it's memory, knowledge. We've just said that above here, in the first few posts!

Or does it mean consciousness is the daily experiencing of things, of what is happening? That can't be known beforehand, it's just happening.

Obviously if we weren't conscious and aware we'd be dead or asleep so that consciousness or awareness is alive, operating. But is that actually a conscious experiencing?

Is one actually conscious of it or it's just happening? Do look at this carefully. To be conscious is to be separate, right? I'm only conscious of something when I can recognise it, know what it is. Which implies me and that, over there, out there, not me. So I am the observer of that, it's different to me.

When you feel separate like that one isn't living in the moment. I am the different entity who is conscious of things and they aren't quite me.

But is that living? Or are we only living when there's no separation between myself and the daily happening? I'm only actually conscious when something goes wrong. Then I become conscious of myself, the confusion, or whatever it is.

But when there's nothing wrong, no problem, no confusion, we just live, there's no self-consciousness. So what is it we call consciousness which we apparently want to understand? Can we actually label a non-conscious state?

We want to call it something because we want to understand it, analyse it, experience it. The moment we do that we're no longer in the non-conscious, free-flowing state. We've become separate and get caught up in that confusion. So, in that state, consciousness is trying to analyse itself. So when we say we want to understand consciousness doesn't it really mean we want to understand ourselves?

So - forgive me saying this - is there actually anything to understand? We can't understand a state where we are absent as the self.

So, to reiterate the whole thing again, consciousness is what we are... get it? And when there's no problem, no confusion, we've forgotten ourselves and just live. It's very simple. Then where is the problem?

Will you read all this or am I talking to myself? :-)
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Re: Unity of Consciousness?

Postby T. Burbank on March 16th, 2021, 11:06 am 

Serpent » March 15th, 2021, 1:33 am wrote:[Re: "... Key question being whether the sensory experience is conscious even before the 'I' learns of it"] I suppose, in the same way that an earthworm is conscious. Still 'yes', but on a visceral level, without reflection.

Yes… forcing me back to a more key question: What would it even mean for an experience to be conscious if one's “I” didn’t know of it? And it would seem that maybe the “I” has to know about it if it’s conscious. Logical necessity, maybe, due to the meaning of the word conscious? Maybe conscious just means “known of by one’s verbal ‘I’”?

So in that case where my “I” distances itself from the cold wracking my body at the bus stop, the cold feeling does still continue afterward, and in and of itself does not appear to be reflective. But the “I”’s continued knowing of it seems to be what makes it (enables it to be?) conscious.

I don’t see that the mere knowing of a sensory experience can be equated to the actual direct experience itself, though. (Knowledge of a cognitive experience on the other hand can be). My knowing, verbal “I” and my sensory experience are clearly distinct, originating from “functionally separate neural structures” to use your term.

But of course, yes, as a matter of practical convenience, I too “own” all of my sensory experience in my day-to-day life. When it’s not owning me instead.

In fact, it's your foot that can't feel anything.

You’re right, sorry. Careless of me to say that. The pain in my foot is experienced, but obviously by something other than my foot which is not conscious.

***

I keep thinking of long-distance driving on the highway, where you’re deep in thought about something and then suddenly snap out of it and realize you don’t recall the last 30 minutes of driving - did you miss the turnoff to Dogpatch? Seems like you must have been driving while unconscious in this case, which sounds pretty scary but maybe isn’t. My subconscious is pretty reliable.

Or… is it conceivable that you were actually conscious instead? And just don’t remember because you were too busy with your thoughts to commit anything else to memory? I’ve walked to work in the morning, thinking fanatical thoughts, and suddenly worried that I’m late, and checked to see. And I am sure that I did see those numbers on the face of my timepiece, and knew what they meant, but a couple minutes later I again wonder if I’m on time and have to check my watch. Must not have committed the time to memory the first time.
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Re: Unity of Consciousness?

Postby T. Burbank on March 16th, 2021, 11:14 am 

TheVat » March 15th, 2021, 4:19 am wrote:This thread appears to be mainly about what Chalmers would call the "easy problems" of consciousness. Which neuroscience seems to best address.

Not actually about the “problems” themselves, I wouldn’t say – “How does the brain process environmental stimulation? How does it integrate information? How do we produce reports on internal states?” (The Conscious Mind, pp. xi-xii).

More just trying to describe conscious experience itself in a little more detail, without asking how it’s produced in the brain.

I was moved to start this by Dave’s thread on defining p-consciousness. But when I tried to really look at my own experience, to figure out what I was defining, I realized that p-conscious experience comes in two very different kinds – which I have since learned that some philosophers, Galen Strawson for example, distinguish as “cognitive phenomenology” and “sensory phenomenology.”

(And of course other philosophers deny that distinction. Michael Tye, if I understand him, interprets conscious thought as a derivative of conscious auditory sensation, since he views thinking as talking to and hearing ourselves. Doesn’t work for me, but it seems there are many analytic philosophers for whom it does.)

I don’t believe this distinction came up in the other thread. I don’t remember Chalmers noting it either. But surely it’s important. If p-consciousness is not just one thing, but two very different kinds of things… then it’s twice as amazing. Not sure if that makes the hard problem twice as hard, but it would definitely seem to complicate it.

It is sometimes a useful perspective in dealing with the external world to view our selves as somewhat separate from our bodies, but there is nothing in neuroscience to suggest this is anything but a convenient fiction.

I guess you mean my talk of “subjects” or “experiencers” of p-conscious experience. But I don’t think I’ve implied that those are separate from the body. I assume that they at least originate in (and cannot decouple from) what Serpent refers to as “functionally separate neural structures.”

Don’t really need to talk about “experiencers,” I suppose. You could just describe the natures of the two types of experience – cognitive and sensory – to show how very different they are from each other. Kind of a headache to do that, “describe the nature of a conscious experience” in detail. At least for me. But I’d probably start by noting that cognitive experience involves reflection, while sensory experience is unreflective. Not sure where I'd take it from there, though….
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Re: Unity of Consciousness?

Postby Serpent on March 16th, 2021, 12:01 pm 

T. Burbank » March 16th, 2021, 10:06 am wrote: forcing me back to a more key question: What would it even mean for an experience to be conscious if one's “I” didn’t know of it?

How is that a key question? Where's it carved that experience requires a meaning?
What if being simply is?
Maybe conscious just means “known of by one’s verbal ‘I’”?

Or maybe conscious just means aware - with or without the reflective, verbal realms of knowledge.

So in that case where my “I” distances itself from the cold wracking my body at the bus stop, the cold feeling does still continue afterward, and in and of itself does not appear to be reflective. But the “I”’s continued knowing of it seems to be what makes it (enables it to be?) conscious.

Sure, if you want to make that distinction.

I don’t see that the mere knowing of a sensory experience can be equated to the actual direct experience itself, though.

Why not? The knowing part is the last part - the star in the Christmas tree. By the time "I" know about it, the experience has taken place and become a sentence in the story of my existence. (Even if I don't archive it, or can't retrieve the memory of it later, whatever happened affected my body in some way and made its way into the memory banks in some form.)

But of course, yes, as a matter of practical convenience, I too “own” all of my sensory experience in my day-to-day life. When it’s not owning me instead.

It's not a matter of convenience; it's a matter of biological necessity. Without your verbal mind, you may be called 'a vegetable' - a very poor one, lacking photosynthetic ability - but without the body, where would you be at all?

I keep thinking of long-distance driving on the highway, where you’re deep in thought about something and then suddenly snap out of it and realize you don’t recall the last 30 minutes of driving - did you miss the turnoff to Dogpatch? Seems like you must have been driving while unconscious in this case, which sounds pretty scary but maybe isn’t. My subconscious is pretty reliable.

You may have been unaware that you were aware, but you were never unconscious. How you can tell is: you're not enmeshed with the grille of a logging truck, or upside-down in a corn-field.
You were paying less attention to the scenery than usual - perhaps it had little of interest to notice - and not bothered to consult memory about landmarks for a while.
We're quite capable of multi-tasking, though it can sometimes lead to less optimal results than concentrating on each task in turn.
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Re: Unity of Consciousness?

Postby T. Burbank on March 17th, 2021, 12:06 am 

T. Burbank » March 17th, 2021, 1:14 am wrote:
TheVat » March 15th, 2021, 4:19 am wrote:This thread appears to be mainly about what Chalmers would call the "easy problems" of consciousness. Which neuroscience seems to best address.

Not actually about the “problems” themselves, I wouldn’t say – “How does the brain process environmental stimulation? How does it integrate information? How do we produce reports on internal states?” (The Conscious Mind, pp. xi-xii).

More just trying to describe conscious experience itself in a little more detail, without asking how it’s produced in the brain.

But you are right that neuroscience is indispensable to clearing up many things in this area. As Serpent’s knowledgeable comments do show.
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Re: Unity of Consciousness?

Postby Serpent on March 17th, 2021, 12:25 am 

Disclaimer: I'm not all that knowledgeable about neuroscience. My general medical knowledge is badly outdated and was never specialized in this area. I'm mostly going by superficial reading, extrapolated with common sense.
All the same, i find the subject fascinating. I daresay, it's one of the most fascinating - humans just can't get enough of thinking about our own thinking!
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Re: Unity of Consciousness?

Postby T. Burbank on March 17th, 2021, 10:41 am 

Serpent » March 17th, 2021, 2:01 am wrote:
Maybe conscious just means “known of by one’s verbal ‘I’”?

Or maybe conscious just means aware - with or without the reflective, verbal realms of knowledge.

Hmm… in my OP I defined “conscious” as “having direct conscious experience of,” and so not necessarily involving reflective knowledge. The pain in my foot, for example, is not in itself a reflective experience. But… it is (perhaps inevitably) accompanied by a separate, reflective experience – my “I”’s knowing of it.

You may have been unaware that you were aware, but you were never unconscious. How you can tell is: you're not enmeshed with the grille of a logging truck, or upside-down in a corn-field.


LOL. True that! “Unconscious” is not the right word at all; no driving while comatose in this world. I was thinking “not conscious,” something like “only subconsciously aware.” But I’m not sure. Seems that you had to have been conscious, and just didn’t commit the contents of your experience to memory. Not sure if it’s the same with people who miraculously make it home unscathed during blackouts….

Still trying to put together intelligible responses to the rest of your post.
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Re: Unity of Consciousness?

Postby Serpent on March 17th, 2021, 11:55 am 

I think the whole conundrum is in fussing over the term "conscious".
I keep going back to the earthworm as a base-line. https://thebiologynotes.com/nervous-system-of-earthworm/He's not high on the cognitive scale afawk, yet he's fully conscious of his own experience and environment. This is why I'm picturing the human "I" as a pair of ganglia - it's the oldest kind of complex brain - I assume that it's come with us all the way through evolution, building and bunching up more neural structures below and all around it.
The multi-chambered brain can carry out a greater variety of tasks, both unthinkingly and deliberately, many - hundreds! - of them concurrently. (I was just correcting a typo, wondering if it's time to put on the teapot for lunch, becoming aware of an itch, catching the flight of a bluejay past my window in peripheral vision and marvelling at the vacuity of a television program in the next room - Bewitched; my SO takes it as antidote to the news; all the characters names and faces come back from 1972 in snatches of overheard dialogue.) When you direct your "I" attention one way, all the other functions don't stop - you just stop thinking about them.

I'm not sure what a blackout is. I think there are several different types. One man I knew had episodes of memory loss - periods of 10-30 minutes that he could not recall. Nobody would guess he was having one, and of course he didn't know until afterward, because he behaved and functioned just as usual - it just didn't get documented and filed in long-term memory. (ischemia, corrected with medication) The same kind of thing happens under the influence of alcohol - one carries out actions without thinking about them. Those actions, however, seem to be archived, but accessed only in the same condition. I can't remember where I got that from (do not ask why!), but here is a related phenomenon https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/07/170724105105.htm I'd guess because the alcohol is suppressing some of the anxiety that normally distracts us.
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Re: Unity of Consciousness?

Postby TheVat on March 17th, 2021, 1:04 pm 

Philosophers often tend to pare consciousness down to a particular territory of mental states in order to ease their path. John Searle was big on "intentionality," which in the philosophic sense is that consciousness is about something.
It has an object. It can be of a perceptual object - a bluejay, an ache in my toe - or it can be about a mental abstraction - quantum entanglement. But it's about something, and often past perceptions of objects are recruited in memory to create a mental image that aids with something abstract. To think about nothing would be essentially not to think. The Zen practitioner who contemplates "no thing," is still directing his mind to contemplate some sort of emptiness, some existential null set, and so is still having "consciousness of." Indeed, a goal of meditation is to actually expand consciousness, to heighten it, by stripping away objects, analysis, reminiscence, anticipation, volition, and a myriad of other mental states. The question is if the human mind can shut down all those modules, silence all the voices, and not lapse into unconsciousness -- that seems to be the big challenge of Zen practice, which is why masters would walk around meditating students with sticks and whack anyone they saw who was falling asleep.

Normal attention is, yes, kind of like a spotlight we cast around, putting it on certain things, so that during our commute we are thinking primarily about something that happened at work, say, and less about the actions of driving.

Side note: if "Bewitched" episodes are an antidote to news, what's that say about the news these days?
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Re: Unity of Consciousness?

Postby charon on March 17th, 2021, 1:51 pm 

You're quite right, Vat. The person thinking of nothing is still thinking so meditation is the ending of thinking, not its continuance.

There's no point in my contributing here because, as you can see, there's no reply. Which is a shame because they're completely missing the whole thing.
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Re: Unity of Consciousness?

Postby T. Burbank on March 18th, 2021, 8:09 am 

Serpent » March 17th, 2021, 2:01 am wrote:
T. Burbank » March 16th, 2021, 10:06 am wrote:... forcing me back to a more key question: What would it even mean for an experience to be conscious if one's “I” didn’t know of it?

How is that a key question? Where's it carved that experience requires a meaning?
What if being simply is?

I meant that it's a key question for the argument made in my OP – that sensory experience is conscious independently of my verbal “I”. The problem being… how could I ever know that a sensory experience is conscious if my “I” were absent? The only part of me that “knows” stuff is my “I”. Talk of consciousness that is not known of by my verbal “I” would therefore seem meaningless, in the definitional sense of that word, since there is no way to verify that it occurs. And if my “I” has to always be around, can I say with any certainty that my sensory consciousness occurs independently of contribution from my “I”?

Of course, the fact that a sensory experience depends on the “I” to be known of, does not mean that its being conscious depends on the “I”’s knowing of it. (If that’s not putting things too gobbledygookedly). Just makes it harder to be sure about this either way.

I don’t see that the mere knowing of a sensory experience can be equated to the actual direct experience itself, though.

Why not? The knowing part is the last part - the star in the Christmas tree. By the time "I" know about it, the experience has taken place and become a sentence in the story of my existence.

Well if the original, direct experience has indeed, as you say, “taken place” before my “I” comes to know of it, then these are in at least some sense two distinct things. Yes the star is a part of the Christmas tree, but the rest of the tree without the star is also a part, a different one. (The analogy is not perfect, though, since the tree doesn’t have to end up with a star to top it off).

But of course, yes, as a matter of practical convenience, I too “own” all of my sensory experience in my day-to-day life. When it’s not owning me instead.

It's not a matter of convenience; it's a matter of biological necessity. Without your verbal mind, you may be called 'a vegetable' - a very poor one, lacking photosynthetic ability - but without the body, where would you be at all?

Derailed by words here, I think. I’m again insisting that there is a real distinction between my verbal “I,” consciously experiencing its thoughts from its base in my brain, and my sensory experience, which is ultimately also produced by neural activities in my brain but consciously experienced as happening outside of it. I thought from an earlier post that you agreed on this in principle, although you noted that “not everyone’s verbal 'I' is capable” of distancing itself from their sensory experience.

My “I” can distance itself from a lot of my sensory experience. And so speaking of bladders, for example, I have this BPH thing and sometimes find myself being ordered around really disrespectfully by my own bladder. But “I” can catch myself, and decide to not just frantically obey but delay compliance with those orders – and they do as a result cease being so sharply demanding. I’m not talking about just “holding” it a little longer, but about reducing its urgency as my “I” ceases to identify with it. Now, I obviously can’t do this indefinitely. And doubt “I”’d be able to distance “myself” from many sensations, like an orgasm for example. But still….

I took “owning” (which I prefer to call “being owned by”) to mean one’s “I” accepting a sensory experience as its own, rather than a separate experience of its body. I.e. not distancing itself from that experience at all. And what I was saying was that, even though “I” myself can often achieve at least some distancing if “I” want, doing so is a practical inconvenience if there is no compelling reason for it. But in the case where I am still five minutes from the nearest bathroom, well... I don’t think it’s a biological necessity to wet my pants. At least not if my “I” can assert its right to self-determination and get my bladder to back off for a bit.

This may be something that we really do disagree on. "I myself" at least can often pull back from my conscious bodily sensations and observe them analytically, and recognize them as experiences that are separate from “me.” Would expect that others could do so as well, but of course can only really speak for myself.
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Re: Unity of Consciousness?

Postby Serpent on March 18th, 2021, 9:22 am 

T. Burbank » March 18th, 2021, 7:09 am wrote: The problem being… how could I ever know that a sensory experience is conscious if my “I” were absent?

You wouldn't know, and it wouldn't matter, because that's the only part that can care.
Talk of consciousness that is not known of by my verbal “I” would therefore seem meaningless,

Yes, it is.
And if my “I” has to always be around, can I say with any certainty that my sensory consciousness occurs independently of contribution from my “I”?

No, you couldn't say, because when you're unconscious, you don't know you're unconscious. Whatever happens during surgery or blunt force trauma is only processed in the aftermath; becomes conscious experience indirectly, through its effects.

Of course, the fact that a sensory experience depends on the “I” to be known of, does not mean that its being conscious depends on the “I”’s knowing of it.

The other way around. The I depends on sensory experience - not just to know, but to exist. Even so, it doesn't actually exist - it's a mere concept, a self-invention; it's really nothing more than a function of the physical entity, which, having caught a glimpse of its own reflection in the matrix, has been obsessing over it ever since. I wonder if you're familiar with Douglas Hofstadter https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/123471.I_Am_a_Strange_Loop

Well if the original, direct experience has indeed, as you say, “taken place” before my “I” comes to know of it, then these are in at least some sense two distinct things.

No, they're part of the same process.
Yes the star is a part of the Christmas tree, but the rest of the tree without the star is also a part, a different one.

It was a tree - complete as itself, having its vegetative experiences. Then it was a dead tree, complete of itself, but as an object, experiencing nothing. Then it was a dead tree standing in a room. Then it was a dead tree surrounded by people hanging stuff on its branches- becoming something else. If the process is halted at an point, it is a partly decorated Christmas tree. Then the littlest child was lifted up to place the star on top. Now, it is one single, finished Christmas tree.

Derailed by words here, I think. I’m again insisting that there is a real distinction between my verbal “I,” consciously experiencing its thoughts from its base in my brain, and my sensory experience, which is ultimately also produced by neural activities in my brain but consciously experienced as happening outside of it. I thought from an earlier post that you agreed on this in principle, although you noted that “not everyone’s verbal 'I' is capable” of distancing itself from their sensory experience.

Still a single process. If you want to divide it into chapters or scenes or points in time, or tasks on a to-do list, or the purview of different departments, you can.

My “I” can distance itself from a lot of my sensory experience. And so speaking of bladders, for example, I have this BPH thing and sometimes find myself being ordered around really disrespectfully by my own bladder. But “I” can catch myself, and decide to not just frantically obey but delay compliance with those orders – and they do as a result cease being so sharply demanding. I’m not talking about just “holding” it a little longer, but about reducing its urgency as my “I” ceases to identify with it. Now, I obviously can’t do this indefinitely. And doubt “I”’d be able to distance “myself” from many sensations, like an orgasm for example. But still….

That's a degree of control over bodily functions. A mental discipline. It changes the tenor and duration of the experience, but not its nature.

But in the case where I am still five minutes from the nearest bathroom, well... I don’t think it’s a biological necessity to wet my pants.

In six or seven minutes, it will be. Especially if you have to walk there. In cold weather.
At least not if my “I” can assert its right to self-determination and get my bladder to back off for a bit.

If. I take it you haven't had chemotherapy. In the end - and for quite a lot of the way before the end - body sets all the limits and makes all rules. Ego can only mess with a few superficial aspects of experience.

This may be something that we really do disagree on. "I myself" at least can often pull back from my conscious bodily sensations and observe them analytically, and recognize them as experiences that are separate from “me.” Would expect that others could do so as well, but of course can only really speak for myself.

We had an elderly patient once who could do that. Asked, "Are you having any pain?" she would answer yes. "Where is the pain?" She would point to the far upper corner of the room: "Over there." Most of us are "in pain"; some have the ability to step outside it. All the same, she was still having the pain and she still died.
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Re: Unity of Consciousness?

Postby Serpent on March 20th, 2021, 12:36 am 

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Re: Unity of Consciousness?

Postby T. Burbank on March 20th, 2021, 9:23 am 

Jeez, just keep tripping all over myself. It sometimes becomes clear to me that I’m Otto, from A Fish Called Wanda:

https://i.imgur.com/thQoMxh.jpg

Okay… deep breath... let me try again:

1. A conscious experience is one that is known of by the person who has it, i.e. known of by that person’s “I”. This rules out subliminal experiences, which the “I” doesn't know of (although the person him/herself is subconsciously aware of them).

2. A conscious person is a person who is awake, not in a coma, etc. Knowing of his or her surroundings.

3. To “be conscious of” means, as specially defined in the OP, to “have direct conscious experience of.” As opposed to only knowing or being aware of indirectly. An experience cannot be “conscious of” things; only a living being can.

4. And my problem, as Otto, is that I keep wanting to talk of conscious experience as something that is conscious in one of the latter two senses. When it is only ever “conscious” in the first sense.

5. So the argument is not that “sensory experience is conscious independently of my verbal ‘I,’” as stated in my last post. That would be nonsense. The argument is that sensations are experienced independently of my verbal “I.”

6. Now, my “I” does experience my thoughts, in addition to knowing of them. This is obvious. And this experience takes place in my brain; I feel it there whenever I think. So I know what it feels like for my “I” to experience things.

7. And that pain in my right index finger now, as I jab my thumbnail into it? That’s something that I cannot feel my “I” experiencing. It’s out there, at the end of my right arm, while my “I” is in here, impassively observing that remote experience, untouched by it, before shifting focus back to try to finish this sentence.

8. That is my argument in the OP. And if it’s wrong, if it can be shown that my “I” is somehow the experiencer of all my conscious sensory perceptions also… well, I think it is still important to note the big difference in nature between one’s cognitive and one’s sensory conscious experiences. It’s something that I don’t think gets talked about a lot.

Serpent » March 18th, 2021, 11:22 pm wrote:The "I" depends on sensory experience - not just to know, but to exist.

I wonder. Maybe my “I” was originally generated in response to sensory experience; I don’t remember. But one of the interesting differences between sensory and cognitive p-consciousness is that you can cut the former off if you try. Close your eyes, and no more visual experience. Plug your ears, and no more auditory either. Climb into a good sensory deprivation tank and I bet you eliminate most sensory experience, especially if the tank is an upper-end, anti-grav one.

But in contrast it is really hard to shut your “I” up. One thought will just keep dissolving into another on and on and on for what seems like hours there in your tank, even giving rise to hallucinations of sensory experience after a while I have heard… until you finally do fall asleep.

Even so it doesn't actually exist - it's a mere concept, a self-invention; it's really nothing more than a function of the physical entity, which, having caught a glimpse of its own reflection in the matrix, has been obsessing over it ever since. I wonder if you're familiar with Douglas Hofstadter.

I have a hard time with that claim. A “function of the physical entity, which… has been obsessing over” its own reflection for years? Anything able to obsess over something for years surely has to also exist during that time. I have Hofstadter’s book, do plan to read it (first think I’d better read Christof Koch’s book, the source of the interesting article Dave linked to)….

Well if the original, direct experience has indeed, as you say, “taken place” before my “I” comes to know of it, then these are in at least some sense two distinct things.
No, they're part of the same process.

So if I asked whether your writing and submitting your last post were something distinct from my reading it and coming to know what you wrote… I guess you would also say “No, they’re part of the same process.” Which of course they are – that process being communication between us. But I have to view them as separate things also.

Still a single process. If you want to divide it into chapters or scenes or points in time, or tasks on a to-do list, or the purview of different departments, you can.

That’s good enough for me then. The evolution of the universe is also a single process, but I think you and I are justified if we look at ourselves as two distinct sub-processes that exist (if that's the right word) very briefly as parts of it.

I take it you haven't had chemotherapy. In the end - and for quite a lot of the way before the end - body sets all the limits and makes all rules. Ego can only mess with a few superficial aspects of experience.

Have never said that my “I” can break the laws of nature. The self-distancing from my body’s cold was just an example that I brought up to illustrate a bit more decisively the distinction between my verbal “I” and my sensory conscious experience. Of course my “I” follows the body’s rules, especially when it involves my body’s survival. “Without the body, where would you be”? in your words. (Nowhere in this world, for sure….)

Haven’t had chemo, but from what I’ve seen people are able to report what they go through to their family and friends for at least some time. Which I guess must be something that the “I” chooses to do, independently of the body’s needs. Towards the very end… well in the case I’m remembering it seemed that his “I” was mostly not even with us anymore by then, sad to say.

We had an elderly patient once who could do that. Asked, "Are you having any pain?" she would answer yes. "Where is the pain?" She would point to the far upper corner of the room: "Over there."

Did you ever encounter a patient claiming the opposite – that it wasn’t their pain but their “I” up there in the corner of the room? In the now-locked consciousness thread, Charon linked to an interesting story of such a case. Which I assume it’s cool to repost:

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyl ... experience

Never had an OBE myself, but talked to a guy once who’d been a security guard and got shot in the chest by burglars. Told me he was suddenly outside his body, staring down at it oozing blood on the floor below him. And then a couple days after waking up, remembered this and asked the hospital staff about it. Was told “Other people have reported the same thing. And we don’t know what it is exactly, but you may still be alive today because of it.”
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