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Is basic consciousness in early animal forms?


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#1    coberst

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Posted 02 June 2009 - 06:49 PM

Is basic consciousness in early animal forms?

Antonio Damasio is a scientist who has set out to organize a scientific study of human consciousness.  Damasio utilizes a rather unique method that involves careful observation of individuals who have been deprived of some aspects of consciousness because of brain lesions caused by accidents.  He studies brain dysfunction caused by such things as strokes and accidents.

Damasio finds that “nearly all the sites of brain damage associated with a significant disruption of core consciousness share one important trait…these structures are of old evolutionary vintage, they are present in numerous nonhuman species, and they mature early in individual human development.”

That is to say that his evidence indicates that core consciousness is centered about the brain’s physical areas that developed very early in the evolution of life on our planet, i.e. human core consciousness is directly evolved from early animal forms.

The basic facts made available for analysis give testimony to the hypothesis that consciousness is not a monolith. Most importantly there is an abrupt division between what is identified as core consciousness and extended consciousness. There are also distinguishing levels within extended consciousness it self. When core consciousness fails then extended consciousness follows.


Many non human creatures have emotions—“human emotions however have evolved to making connections to complex ideas, values, principles, and judgments”—thus human emotion is special—the impact of feelings on humans is the result of consciousness—a distinct difference between feeling and knowing a feeling—“neither the emotion or the feeling caused by the emotion is conscious”—these things happen in a biological state—there are three stages here; emotion, feeling, and consciousness of feeling—consciousness must be present if feelings have an influence beyond the here and the now—consciousness is tooted in the representation of the body.

We need not be conscious of the emotion or the inducer of the emotion—we are about as effective in stopping an emotion as in stopping a sneeze.

“Emotions are about the life of an organism, its body to be precise, and their role is to assist the organism in maintaining life…emotions are biologically determined processes, depending upon innately set brain devices, laid down by long evolutionary history…The devices that produce emotions…are part of a set of structures that both regulate and represent body states…All devices can be engaged automatically, without conscious deliberation…The variety of the emotional responses is responsible for profound changes in both the body landscape and the brain landscape.  The collection of these changes constitutes the substrate for the neural patterns which eventually become feelings of emotion.”

The biological function of emotions is to produce an automatic action in certain situations and to regulate the internal processes so that the creature is able to support the action dictated by the situation.  The biological purpose of emotions are clear, they are not a luxury but a necessity for survival.

“It is through feelings, which are inwardly directed and private, that emotions, which are outwardly directed and public, begin their impact on the mind; but the full and lasting impact of feelings requires consciousness, because only along with the advent of a sense of self do feelings become known to the individual having them.”

Damasio proposes “that the term feeling should be reserve for the private, mental experience of an emotion, while the term emotion should be used to designate the collection of responses, many of which are publicly observable.”  This means that while we can observe our own private feelings we cannot observe these same feelings in others.

Core consciousness—“occurs when the brain’s representation devices generate an imaged, nonverbal account of how the organism’s own state is affected by the organism’s processing  of an object, and when this process enhances  the image of the causative object, thus placing it saliently  in a spatial and temporal context”

First, there is emotion, then comes feeling, then comes core consciousness of feeling. There is no evidence that we are conscious of all our feelings, in fact evidence indicates that we are not conscious of all feelings.

Humans have extended consciousness, which takes core consciousness to the level of self consciousness and the awareness of mortality.


Quotes from The Feeling of what Happens: Body and Emotion in the Making of Consciousness by Antonio Damasio




#2    Virtual Particle

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Posted 03 June 2009 - 12:11 AM

Even criminals have a certain morality and that is a very important point. Coberst why do you not join us in "The Economics of the Brain, How and why to increase awareness." Under the circumstances I doubt very seriously that Per Virtuous who began the thread would actually mind. In fact I feel that your input would be quite interesting.

Any thoughts?


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#3    greggK

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Posted 03 June 2009 - 03:58 PM

Quote

That is to say that his evidence indicates that core consciousness is centered about the brain’s physical areas that developed very early in the evolution of life on our planet, i.e. human core consciousness is directly evolved from early animal forms.


My opinion is that the early animal forms, including any sub-human species only possessed the survival instinct.  And it was because of the abilities of the human to gasp things the way they do and the added visual capabilities allowed them to advance in areas that the other animal forms could not.  And that is what it is and has been for the past million years.  Give birds the ability to use their wings to grasp things, bird's nests would be different; they would probably be the shape of a large gourd.

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#4    coberst

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Posted 03 June 2009 - 07:42 PM


Extended consciousness is the consciousness we normally speak of and that is the autobiographical consciousness possessed by humans.  

“Extended consciousness goes beyond the here and now of core consciousness.  Extended consciousness places these same experiences in a broader canvas and over a longer period of time.  Extended consciousness still hinges on the same core “you”. But that “you” is now connected to the lived past and anticipated future that are part of your autobiographical record…autobiographical memories are objects, and the brain treats them as such, allows each of them to relate to the organism in the manner described for core consciousness, and thus allows each of them to generate a pulse of core consciousness, a sense of self knowing.”  

This is why we have the ability to learn and the ability to retain records of experiences.  “The ability to reactivate those records in such a way that, as objects, they, too, can generate “a sense of self knowing,” and thus be known”.



#5    greggK

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Posted 08 June 2009 - 04:52 PM

coberst on Jun 3 2009, 02:42 PM, said:

Extended consciousness is the consciousness we normally speak of and that is the autobiographical consciousness possessed by humans.  

“Extended consciousness goes beyond the here and now of core consciousness.  Extended consciousness places these same experiences in a broader canvas and over a longer period of time.  Extended consciousness still hinges on the same core “you”. But that “you” is now connected to the lived past and anticipated future that are part of your autobiographical record…autobiographical memories are objects, and the brain treats them as such, allows each of them to relate to the organism in the manner described for core consciousness, and thus allows each of them to generate a pulse of core consciousness, a sense of self knowing.”  

This is why we have the ability to learn and the ability to retain records of experiences.  “The ability to reactivate those records in such a way that, as objects, they, too, can generate “a sense of self knowing,” and thus be known”.


Wow, that's pretty good.  'And that is the autobiographical consciousness possessed by humans.'

You are saying that we have divisions of consciousness.  Are they a mirror of something and we react to the mirror?  And that is the extension that you speak of?  The observer is the extended consciousness.


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#6    coberst

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Posted 09 June 2009 - 05:09 AM

greggK on Jun 8 2009, 04:52 PM, said:

Wow, that's pretty good.  'And that is the autobiographical consciousness possessed by humans.'

You are saying that we have divisions of consciousness.  Are they a mirror of something and we react to the mirror?  And that is the extension that you speak of?  The observer is the extended consciousness.


Core consciousness is what has evolved in the animal kingdom and extended consciousness is innate to the human animal.


#7    redfish

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Posted 09 June 2009 - 07:14 AM

coberst on Jun 9 2009, 12:09 AM, said:

Core consciousness is what has evolved in the animal kingdom and extended consciousness is innate to the human animal.


What is the purpose of extended consciousness that humans have?



#8    coberst

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Posted 10 June 2009 - 10:02 AM

redfish on Jun 9 2009, 07:14 AM, said:

What is the purpose of extended consciousness that humans have?


Extended consciousness makes self consciousness possible.  Self consciousness makes recognizion of death possible.  Recognition of death makes anxiety possible.  Anxiety drives our need to repress this knowledge of our mortality.  This drive creates our desire to have everlasting existence, which leads to the creation of religion and many other things.


#9    redfish

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Posted 13 June 2009 - 06:38 AM

coberst on Jun 10 2009, 05:02 AM, said:

Extended consciousness makes self consciousness possible.  Self consciousness makes recognizion of death possible.  Recognition of death makes anxiety possible.  Anxiety drives our need to repress this knowledge of our mortality.  This drive creates our desire to have everlasting existence, which leads to the creation of religion and many other things.


Thanks, you explained this very well. I agree with you. The problem is humans abused this self consciousness for power and control over the human race. We view the world around us totally differently with the understanding and knowledge we gain from extended consciousness. This is causing humans to question the reality of the spiritial existence. Humans have adapted to their understanding of the material world with knowledge, but humans are not allowing any new knowledge and understanding of the spiritial world. Maybe because of old beliefs are threatened or because humans feel spiritial thought is a fantacy and can't be proved to exist in the material world. Humans need to combine all understanding and knowledge we have gained with extended consciousness to continue to survive as human life on Earth the only place we know we can survive in the material world.

Sorry for the bad grammer. To much philosophy?  
  






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