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Still Waters

Will We Ever Understand Consciousness?

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As you read this sentence, the millions of neurons in your brain are frantically whispering to each other, resulting in the experience of conscious awareness.

The nature of consciousness has intrigued philosophers and scientists for thousands of years. But can modern neuroscience ever hope to crack this mysterious phenomenon?

http://www.livescien...sciousness.html

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**** I still don't know what the heck is going on...where the hell am I?

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Limiting oneself to just sensation -- not even worrying about consciousness -- one soon concludes (at least I do) that brain is necessary but not sufficient. Identifying a region of a brain which, when stimulated, causes the person to experience "blue," tells us that this area of the brain is where the sensation is controlled, but doesn't tell us how the experience of blueness comes to be. The colors are notorious for being invented in our heads and not being part of the external world, but all sensations are really of the same fabric.

The article in the OP doesn't really bring out the nature of the problem. It is not one of not having enough knowledge of brain physiology -- as that advances we become better and better at knowing where in the brain things happen, but not how they happen.

Since most animals are sensate, we assume it evolved -- either that or was already present in some mystical way and was picked up and used by natural selection as a good way to interface sensory input with the animal -- and behold you have beings that don't just respond reflexively but actually experience, in a brain-made way, the world about them.

Of course this is Taoism -- that mind is a "force" that permeates the universe -- kinda per Lucas (I suspect he borrowed all that). Too much for me -- it needs some sort of evidence beyond just speculation about where sensation comes from. When people come along who really can levitate things using mind force, then maybe this approach will be worthwhile pursuing.

In the end, it does seem that we are at a dead end refining details of the composition of the bricks but seeing no way to cross the wall.

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Having been unconscious for so long I don't understand a damned thing.

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Qualia is a transcendent phenomenon. Transcendence cannot be reduced because it ceases to exist upon reduction. Nor can qualia sel reference because self referencing is the base for it's existence. I know that I am because I know that I am. I know that because I know that I am. Conciousness is a feedback loop.

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Having been unconscious for so long I don't understand a damned thing.

Hanging upside down all the time doesn't help. :unsure:

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Qualia is a transcendent phenomenon. Transcendence cannot be reduced because it ceases to exist upon reduction. Nor can qualia sel reference because self referencing is the base for it's existence. I know that I am because I know that I am. I know that because I know that I am. Conciousness is a feedback loop.

What you say is true, I think (assuming I understood it correctly) but doesn't tell us anything more than that we don't and can't know what qualia is. When we talk about it we assume the person we are talking to has had the same experience of the same qualia and therefore experientially "knows" what we talk about. If they haven't, no conversation is possible. In the end all of our concepts end up this way (I talk about "energy" and can measure its effects and show how it transforms, but don't know what it really is).My conclusion is that reductionism doesn't work and must be replace by -- what? We need reductionism -- it's the way our brains do logic and think.

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The basic assumption of consciousness is wrong. The idea that physical existence is real and the mind somehow arose from physical processes is opposite to reality. Basic feeling, as measured by conductance, is more primary to physical existence. This is something the mystics can directly experience, but the analytically inclined are unwilling to explore. A paradigm shift is required before consciousness can be fully understood.

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What you say is true, I think (assuming I understood it correctly) but doesn't tell us anything more than that we don't and can't know what qualia is. When we talk about it we assume the person we are talking to has had the same experience of the same qualia and therefore experientially "knows" what we talk about. If they haven't, no conversation is possible. In the end all of our concepts end up this way (I talk about "energy" and can measure its effects and show how it transforms, but don't know what it really is).My conclusion is that reductionism doesn't work and must be replace by -- what? We need reductionism -- it's the way our brains do logic and think.

Reductionism does have its place, but your right in the end it stops being usefull. everything is part of concentric rings of systems when we boil things down there is a new system. Everything appears to be a transcendent phenomenon of a more fundamental information system. An atom is its own entity transcendent of the neutrons, protons, and electrons the comprise it. A system of particles, spins, charges, and quanta. The proton itself becomes transcendent of its subatomic peices subject to quantum effects. Then moving back up to the mind, group conciousness, the gia principle, the galaxy, galactic clusters, potential other dimensions.

Current estimates put the lower limit of the size of the universe at lower limit of 14 trillion light years in diameter if not infinit. 46 billion light years of observable universe. Transcendence dies not stop with the mind. I believe all of it experiences quaila.

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Somethings you don't need to know but simply to observe upon trifles evrey secret is reveald that way and because the magic is in the mysterie

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The basic assumption of consciousness is wrong. The idea that physical existence is real and the mind somehow arose from physical processes is opposite to reality. Basic feeling, as measured by conductance, is more primary to physical existence. This is something the mystics can directly experience, but the analytically inclined are unwilling to explore. A paradigm shift is required before consciousness can be fully understood.

Prove it.
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Well mind is not a physical thing: this is something we already have known for a least a thousand years. It is a process -- a somewhat but not entirely causally related chain of mental events -- thoughts, sensations that rise to consciousness and we notice, memories, emotions and other feelings, that we refer to as a "flow," but it is really more like a wave on the surface of the water influenced here and there by itself and by outside things.

One of the things about mind as we know it is that it experiences the world it is in through qualia -- sensory experiences that have no physical or outside existence: that are made up by the mind but that nevertheless correlate pretty well with the external world

I am reluctant to think that mystics have any special understanding of this beyond what the introspective meditation tells us. That it seems impossible that it is reducible to physical description seems a given, but maybe someday some insight will come along to help. I doubt it. I think we are dealing here with a place our science can describe but not understand.

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They can map the brain all they want. But, they will not be able to define conscience. Because the conscience is who we are not what we are.

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If everything that we experience is a result of chemical actions in the brain i.e thoughts, feelings, dreams, personality, etc then why not consciousness?

After all, you alter or damage the human brain then you damage human consciousness.

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What about the electrical nature of the brain? all that synapsing going on and all .. Doesn't electrical activity create a field of some sort? Might this field extend beyond our skulls and interact with our environment ?

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Posted (edited)

Well mind is not a physical thing: this is something we already have known for a least a thousand years. It is a process -- a somewhat but not entirely causally related chain of mental events -- thoughts, sensations that rise to consciousness and we notice, memories, emotions and other feelings, that we refer to as a "flow," but it is really more like a wave on the surface of the water influenced here and there by itself and by outside things.

One of the things about mind as we know it is that it experiences the world it is in through qualia -- sensory experiences that have no physical or outside existence: that are made up by the mind but that nevertheless correlate pretty well with the external world

I am reluctant to think that mystics have any special understanding of this beyond what the introspective meditation tells us. That it seems impossible that it is reducible to physical description seems a given, but maybe someday some insight will come along to help. I doubt it. I think we are dealing here with a place our science can describe but not understand.

That's because you are not a mystic frank. You probably have not experienced the depths of concious experience that is available to you. As such, as a man of honesty, you are limited in your evaluation of what a mystic is capable of knowing that may not have language equivalents for you to understand with the limitations of language.

Edited by Seeker79

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What about the electrical nature of the brain? all that synapsing going on and all .. Doesn't electrical activity create a field of some sort? Might this field extend beyond our skulls and interact with our environment ?

Dr. Stuart Hameroff has an interesting theory that sounds similar. But rather than an electric field, he proposes a quantum field built up in the microtubules of brain neurons.

Here's a short 10 min video describing the theory and a possible explanation for near death experiences. As an anesthesiologist, I think Dr. Hameroff is well placed to talk about consciousness and it's absence. You can find other much longer talks and interviews online.

Here's another 10 min TED talk with much larger ramifications than just NDE's.

[media=]

This modern theory sounds very much like ancient eastern metaphysics. Form is emptiness, emptiness is form.

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"Historically, philosophers have a disastrous record of explaining things," said neuroscientist Christof Koch. - Said the man trying to understand his belonging.

Philosopher's were aware of there conciousness hence time, space and physical knowledge were igcognitive at the best of times.

I think it is a one or the other teaching. Either we grow up into/are taught/learn conciousness and meta-allknowing or vice versa Physical allknowing knowledge.

*Yes, I do realise not everyone will/can be allknowing but that would be your end goal should you succeed.*

Personally imo that is why the bigger picture has phased out the possibility of the philosophical/shaman/pagan upbringing.

*Hence the creation of the factory line. (Kindy>School>High School>Uni/College>Masters>Death)*

It wasn't too long ago (considering the age of the earth that is) that the Governments/Religion/Power Structures relied on Philosophers to guide their path.

In saying that, that alone flips the power structure into the limelight of what it should be.

People > Representitives (Speaking on behalf of the people)

But you know let's keep killing eachother over pretty material things. :S

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That's because you are not a mystic frank. You probably have not experienced the depths of concious experience that is available to you. As such, as a man of honesty, you are limited in your evaluation of what a mystic is capable of knowing that may not have language equivalents for you to understand with the limitations of language.

That same reasoning is what fuels fraudulent practices such a exorcism and homeotherapy.
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That same reasoning is what fuels fraudulent practices such a exorcism and homeotherapy.

Which is an example of the fallacy of saying that because a premise can be used to derive false conclusions the premise is false.

The only meditative practice I do is introspective meditation, usually set in train through breathing mindfulness, and sometimes I am tempted to go off in spiritual directions away from my actual mind. It's not so much that I think doing this might be dangerous (although potential dangers are obvious) but that it doesn't really seem to lead anywhere so long as one is skeptical. There are clearly barriers present -- maybe caused by the skepticism or maybe present because of the skepticism.

Should I not be skeptical? I don't see where that is possible, at least for me. My reality checker works overtime as it is, and cannot be willfully controlled, perhaps because I intuitively know that I am better off by far leaving it alone.

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Which is an example of the fallacy of saying that because a premise can be used to derive false conclusions the premise is false.

Well the premise in this instance is some anecdotal mystic understanding.

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It may be impossible to fully grasp human consciousness, because upon "thinking" we are conscious, when we become conscious of our consciousness itself, we are only conscious of being conscious in situ, not conscious of our consciousness per se.

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Is consciousness our awareness, or does our awareness reside within consciousness? In the same sense, do thought occurs within consiousness, as well as recalled memories, emotions, knowledge and physical states (the sense of touch, pain)? Or are these things consciousness itself?

If we would be unaware of our sensory perceptions, thoughts, emotions, etc., would our consciousness still exist?

I think sometimes it is better to question than to state theories, beliefs and opinions. Someone once asked the question, what is the mind between two thoughts? If our minds were to become totally silent and empty, would we begin to gain some understanding of what fundamental consciousness is for ourselves?

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Well a good step in trying to find answers is to state the questions as clearly as possible, but one should not stop there but should develop theories and opinions (I would say its best to try to avoid having beliefs). By formulating theories and so on one often sees ways to test them to see how they hold up.

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Well a good step in trying to find answers is to state the questions as clearly as possible, but one should not stop there but should develop theories and opinions (I would say its best to try to avoid having beliefs). By formulating theories and so on one often sees ways to test them to see how they hold up.

I agree with you, however we can become absorbed in our theories and opinions and loose sight of what we are studying. One can describe a tree and explain all the biological functions of a tree. This is good and useful, but all this information is not a substitute for our actual experience of the tree.

Intellectualizing phenomena can distance us from the actual phenomenon itself. I think it is also useful to try to discard the objective/subjective divide and become the tree. This may sound fanciful, but perhaps a different kind of understanding may be gained by "under standing" the tree, and allowing this experience without imposing intellectual theories and opinions to separate you and tree.

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