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Largo

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Topic Author's Original Post - Aug 28, 2011 - 08:17pm PT
//Scientism ~ the belief that the methods of measuring, or the categories and things described through measuring, form the only real and legitimate elements in any philosophical or other inquiry, and that science alone describes the world as it is in itself, independent of perspective, with a concomitant elimination of the psychological dimensions of experience.
//

While no one can argue the immanence of science and the importance of measuring in many aspects of our life, I am not alone in being unsatisfied with the definition above as it relates to consciousness. At the root of this issue are various views concerning how to approach the consciousness question, which perforce imply fundamental beliefs per what consciousness is. If not examined carefully and soberly, and without a sense of humor, said “views” can scuttle any meaningful investigation through stonewalling in principal, absurd simplification and non-sequiturs.

Per approaching consciousness, a fundamental and common pitfall, especially common in AI and computational model camps, is the failure to recognize that consciousness is qualitatively different that what scientists usually measure. Re - the direct, first person experience of hanging 2,500 up the Shield on El Capitan, in boardshorts, in a lightning storm, is a different “thing” than a milk shake or a cockroach. That’s not to say the qualitative differences preclude us from measuring consciousness in various ways, but when the singularity of “mind” is not acknowledged, that experience up on the shield can be so wildly mistaken to be the selfsame thing as cue ball or a Jujube, rendering howlers like: consciousness is what the brain does, ergo the brain is the self-same thing as the experience of hanging on the Captain. This “does” metaphor works well with purely physical things – a new dime shines, that’s what it does. But with consciousness being brain, we are in effect saying our Uncle is our Aunt, and this simply will not do for some of us.

Though I have issues with many of his conclusions, which favor a physicalist light POV, John Searle has done a comprehensive job in elimination some of the common misconceptions about consciousness often made by those who never look past their own discipline. To wit:

The characteristic mistake in the study of consciousness is to ignore its essential subjectivity and to try to treat it as if it were an objective third person phenomenon. Instead of recognizing that consciousness is essentially a subjective, qualitative phenomenon, many people mistakenly suppose that its essence is that of a control mechanism or a certain kind of set of dispositions to behavior or a computer program.

The two most common mistakes about consciousness are to suppose that it can be analyzed behavioristically or computationally. The Turing test (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turing_test); disposes us to make precisely these two mistakes, the mistake of behaviorism and the mistake of computationalism. It leads us to suppose that for a system to be conscious, it is both necessary and sufficient that it has the right computer program or set of programs with the right inputs and outputs. We need only to state this position clearly to see that it must be mistaken.

A traditional objection to behaviorism was that behaviorism could not be right because a system could behave as if it were conscious without actually being conscious. There is no logical connection, no necessary connection between inner, subjective, qualitative mental states and external, publicly observable behavior. Of course, in actual fact, conscious states characteristically cause behavior. But the behavior that they cause has to be distinguished from the states themselves. The same mistake is repeated by computational accounts of consciousness. Just as behavior by itself is not sufficient for consciousness, so computational models of consciousness are not sufficient by themselves for consciousness. The computational model of consciousness stands to consciousness in the same way the computational model of anything stands to the domain being modeled. Nobody supposes that the computational model of rainstorms in London will leave us all soaked. But they make the mistake of supposing that the computational model of consciousness is somehow conscious. It is the same mistake in both cases, and one common to those using a rigid mechanical or computational model. In fact, the computational theory of the mind does not have a clear sense. Here is why.

The natural sciences describe features of reality that are intrinsic to the world as it exists independently of any observers. Thus, gravitational attraction, photosynthesis, and electromagnetism are all subjects of the natural sciences because they describe intrinsic/material features of reality. But such features such as being a bathtub, being a nice day for a picnic, being a five dollar bill or being a chair, are not subjects of the natural sciences because they are not intrinsic features of reality. All the phenomena I named -- bathtubs, etc. -- are physical objects and as physical objects have features that are intrinsic to reality. But the feature of being a bathtub or a five dollar bill exists only relative to observers and users.

Absolutely essential, then, to understanding the nature of the natural sciences is the distinction between those features of reality that are intrinsic and those that are observer-relative. Gravitational attraction is intrinsic. Being a five dollar bill is observer-relative. Now, the really deep objection to computational theories of the mind can be stated quite clearly. Computation does not name an intrinsic feature of reality but is observer-relative and this is because computation is defined in terms of symbol manipulation, but the notion of a symbol is not a notion of physics or chemistry. Something is a symbol only if it is used, treated or regarded as a symbol. The Chinese room argument showed that semantics is not intrinsic to syntax. But what this argument shows is that syntax is not intrinsic to physics. There are no purely physical properties that zeros and ones or symbols in general have that determine that they are symbols. Something is a symbol only relative to some observer, user or agent who assigns a symbolic interpretation to it. So the question, `Is consciousness a computer program?' lacks a clear sense. If it asks, `Can you assign a computational interpretation to those brain processes which are characteristic of consciousness?' the answer is: you can assign a computational interpretation to anything. But if the question asks, `Is consciousness intrinsically computational?' the answer is: nothing is intrinsically computational. Computation exists only relative to some agent or observer who imposes a computational interpretation on some phenomenon. This is an obvious point.

Going on, Searle adds:

A theory of consciousness needs to explain how a set of neurobiological processes can cause a system to be in a subjective state of sentience or awareness. This phenomenon is unlike anything else in biology, and in a sense it is one of the most amazing features of nature. Science quite naturally resists accepting subjectivity as a ground floor, irreducible phenomenon of nature because, since the seventeenth century, we have come to believe that science must be objective. But this involves a pun on the notion of objectivity. We are confusing the epistemic objectivity of scientific investigation with the ontological objectivity of the typical subject matter in science in disciplines such as physics and chemistry. Since science aims at objectivity in the epistemic sense that we seek truths that are not dependent on the particular point of view of this or that investigator, it has been tempting to conclude that the reality investigated by science must be objective in the sense of existing independently of the experiences in the human individual. But this last feature, ontological objectivity, is not an essential trait of science. If science is supposed to give an account of how the world works and if subjective states of consciousness are part of the world, then we should seek an (epistemically) objective account of an (ontologically) subjective reality, the reality of subjective states of consciousness.


Since a strict computational model can be summarily ruled out, and a “brain is consciousness” model is insisting that an apple is an orange, and religious explanations are equally unsatisfactory, one wonders what direction is needed to wrestle this one down.

JL
klk

Trad climber
cali
Aug 28, 2011 - 08:19pm PT
searle is a good guy. serious skier. the guy claims to get in like 20 days a year.

the philosophers obviously have a way less grueling schedule than the historians.


once again, i chose the wrong discipline.


searle, btw, is hardly known as reductionist. he's one of the strongest critics of the brain science folks like dennett.

he's wrong, of course. but still smart and funny.
sullly

Trad climber
Aug 28, 2011 - 08:53pm PT
Klk, I'd pick a philosopher over a historian any day. Unless you were joking, the philosopher has a far more grueling path than a historian. Historians are more reporters than ponderers.
Largo, great to see you posting. Miss your author threads from a few years back.
klk

Trad climber
cali
Aug 28, 2011 - 08:55pm PT
Klk, I'd pick a philosopher over a historian any day. Unless you were joking, the philosopher has a far more grueling path than a historian.

Ha! I love you too!

Not when it comes to research and committee work, heh.

just ask murcy. as best i can tell, he spends all his time at stanford rolling naked in all that dough they give him.
jogill

climber
Colorado
Aug 28, 2011 - 08:59pm PT
So many words . . .
Mr. Rogers

climber
The Land of Make-Believe
Aug 28, 2011 - 09:05pm PT
He may be a dualist, but it's still a good read.

Facing Up to the Problem of Consciousness
David J. Chalmers
http://consc.net/papers/facing.html

Consciousness poses the most baffling problems in the science of the mind. There is nothing that we know more intimately than conscious experience, but there is nothing that is harder to explain. All sorts of mental phenomena have yielded to scientific investigation in recent years, but consciousness has stubbornly resisted. Many have tried to explain it, but the explanations always seem to fall short of the target. Some have been led to suppose that the problem is intractable, and that no good explanation can be given.

To make progress on the problem of consciousness, we have to confront it directly. In this paper, I first isolate the truly hard part of the problem, separating it from more tractable parts and giving an account of why it is so difficult to explain. I critique some recent work that uses reductive methods to address consciousness, and argue that such methods inevitably fail to come to grips with the hardest part of the problem. Once this failure is recognized, the door to further progress is opened. In the second half of the paper, I argue that if we move to a new kind of nonreductive explanation, a naturalistic account of consciousness can be given. I put forward my own candidate for such an account: a nonreductive theory based on principles of structural coherence and organizational invariance and a double-aspect view of information.

klk

Trad climber
cali
Aug 28, 2011 - 09:09pm PT
So many words . . .

and so little consciousness . . .


i have no idea what that means
Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Aug 28, 2011 - 09:17pm PT
Kerwin, that is John Gill speaking just now. Considering how incredibly deeply he has climbed over the last sixty years and how he has also been quite eloquent in that regard in his writings, it is quite clear to me at least what JohnG means here, as he has spent a life experiencing that subjectivity.

Thanks JohnoL for bringing up Searle and this most splendid issue of all, in philosophy and science. More in a bit, I'm barbecuing.
klk

Trad climber
cali
Aug 28, 2011 - 09:29pm PT
that is John Gill speaking just now.

yes it is


Patrick Oliver

Boulder climber
Fruita, Colorado
Aug 28, 2011 - 09:34pm PT
John Gill and Kerwin (KLK) are good friends,
two of the brightest, most intelligent lights along the spectrum here....
Just fun little banter between them. But Gill's comment
means a lot, really, if you give it time to meld into
the fleshy fibers... or something.

Huntley Ingalls walked up to me at a gathering in Boulder
not long ago, and I asked what he was up to these days, and
he answered, "Enjoying consciousness." That seemed a strange,
almost silly response at first, but then it has followed me
around. I realize Huntley was not being so whimsical as
simply direct and how wonderful it is, truly, to be conscious,
to have a mind, to look out at the stars, to touch and smell....
So many aspects to consciousness, truly, that we are so
fortunate to enjoy. This might be a little off topic, but
maybe not....
J. Werlin

Social climber
Cedaredge, CO
Aug 28, 2011 - 09:41pm PT
Just to put a twist on JL's thread, I like Amit Goswami's proposed solution to the quantum paradox: maybe there was consciousness before there was matter.
Norwegian

Trad climber
Placerville, California
Aug 28, 2011 - 09:44pm PT
i'll refer this one to werner.
he knows my mind better than i do.
klk

Trad climber
cali
Aug 28, 2011 - 09:47pm PT
Huntley was not being so whimsical as
simply direct and how wonderful it is, truly, to be conscious,
to have a mind, to look out at the stars, to touch and smell....
So many aspects to consciousness, truly, that we are so
fortunate to enjoy.

yeah, i'd take ingalls's comments literally.

magical, isn't it? searle would like that.
TwistedCrank

climber
Ideeho-dee-do-dah-day boom-chicka-boom-chicka-boom
Aug 28, 2011 - 09:48pm PT
"mind" is "headache"
QITNL

climber
Aug 28, 2011 - 09:55pm PT
As an undergrad I studied under - or more accurately, around - S.A.R.L.

I found him worse than useless, a roadblock. Boring and simplistic compared to everything else that was happening at the time. For instance, the graduate class I snuck into taught by Foucault, text here:

http://foucault.info/documents/parrhesia/

Searle's only value was as the figurehead for a line of thought that needed to be rejected, all that intentionality nonsense, once and for all. On the other hand, what I learned from Foucault and his band of merry froggies provided a wonderful set of tools. When my day job became warping other people's sense of consciousness, they served me very well.
Mike Bolte

Trad climber
Planet Earth
Aug 28, 2011 - 10:01pm PT
my reaction was exactly the same as John's and I found it clever and ironic that he was so concise in his description
Guernica

climber
the second star to the right
Aug 28, 2011 - 10:04pm PT
I'm surprised, HFCS- you seemed pretty open minded in the thread you started on psychedelics. Amit's position, "monistic idealism", doesn't seem particularly far-fetched and elegantly solves the mind/body paradox, at least to my amateur speculation.

To me, the notion that consciousness is an epiphenomenon of matter- the brain- just doesn't make sense intuitively. The closer we examine subatomic particles, the building blocks of the brain and all matter, the more ephemeral and strange things get. How could the cohesive narrative of a person's life experience be sustained by these little bits of flotsam and jetsam twinkling in and out of existence all the time? Easier for me to swallow that the material world is created and sustained by something much more subtle and powerful. What are your objections to the idea that consciousness is fundamental to matter?

To be clear, never formally studied this stuff just read and pondered a bunch.


edit... uh, corn spirit's post I was replying to seems to have disappeared...
klk

Trad climber
cali
Aug 28, 2011 - 10:07pm PT
^^^^hey q, that's pretty funny. everyone at berkeley then has a killer foucault story, each more entertaining than the next.

searle is back in fashion, these days. sort of. high structuralist (and post-structuralist) and post-quine brain-science-as-epistemology are having to fight uphill against all the "subjects are real" and "consciousness" people.

these days its kant and milton friedmann. and for the pop crowd, add in some esp and biblical prophecy.

i'm going to name a route, "Chinese Box."
Largo

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Topic Author's Reply - Aug 28, 2011 - 10:18pm PT
Foucault, with his quirky homosexual rants while tromping through Death Valley with his band of Frog neo-strucuralists (wank), hammered on LSD, did nothing to establish him as a player in consciousness study. Searle is not my dood, but he raises the "hard questions" with clarity, and dismissed the common pat-answers to said questions.

When the "hard issues" of consciousness don't square with our particular discipline, we end up with simplistic quips like "brain output," which neither addresses or perhaps doesn't even recognize that the computational model of consciousness is a bust for a dozen reasons.

Perhaps the challenge is to tackle the hard issues head on without dismissing the questions if we don't understand and cannot measure same, insisting as scientism insists, that if we ain't quantifying, we're surly just bullshitting each other.

But rather than blast the people who put their ideas out there, I doubt there is much progress to be made by rejecting the hard issues (as straw man arguments = simplistic) and not tackling the questions with new perspectives or info. Otherwise it's just another circle jerk, and I'm out.

I'll do Kant with anyone here if that comes up. He had some interesting ideas but they changed over time making the old Kraut a slippery study.

JL
sullly

Trad climber
Aug 28, 2011 - 10:19pm PT
klk, I'm biased in that my dad was a philosophy prof. for 43 years and my mom taught history.
Jingy

climber
Somewhere out there
Aug 28, 2011 - 10:23pm PT
What's that story in Quantum Theory that states that an observer ultimately influences the observed.


I think that there can be no meaningful science unless humans have nothing to do with it, and forgo interpretations of said observations.

Humans will find meaning in almost anything.

Just look no further than the bible for your "meaning".

If only us humans have made all meaning up entirely.

Meaning does not exist, it is what humans have ascribed to the things we have all around us. We see this, then this means this. We see this, then this means that. We see that, than it must mean this.


But if one takes a step back, and really observes objectively, then there is no meaning in any of it. There is just observation.
WBraun

climber
Aug 28, 2011 - 10:24pm PT
Amit Goswami now there's an intelligent man .....
klk

Trad climber
cali
Aug 28, 2011 - 10:31pm PT
I'll do Kant

i'm betting that's the first time anyone has said that on supertopo.


the return of kant has been one of the remarkable deals of the last thirty years. folks like stephen toulimin, steve fuller, and hacohen cohen have argued that many of the writers we think of as quintessentially hard-nosed empirical or rational anti-idealists-- from wittgenstein to popper to everyone in the vienna circle-- were really closet kantians.

toulmin's wittgenstein's vienna (1978) opened the flood gates. cohen's bio of popper has the best case. fuller has the most agressive claims.

and yeah, foucault didn't have much to contribute to the study of consciousness. aside from saying that it was a variety of priestcraft. much as i hate foucault, he has my sympathy on that claim.
QITNL

climber
Aug 28, 2011 - 11:00pm PT
That's cool - I was just taking the temperature. I figured you guys were no fans of Foucault.
klk

Trad climber
cali
Aug 28, 2011 - 11:03pm PT
^^^^^i love foucault!

especially these days.


order of things is f*#kin brilliant. wrong, but brilliant.
TGT

Social climber
So Cal
Aug 28, 2011 - 11:35pm PT
How does consciousness define itself?
klk

Trad climber
cali
Aug 28, 2011 - 11:48pm PT
heh, dr.f. has hit the nerve.

searle et al. want "consciousness" the be something that's more than special-- they want a qualitative rather than a merely quantitative line between other animals and humans called "consciousness."

"language" isn't good enough for john and the others.


at that point, you might start to suspect, as folks from foucault to dennett have argued, that "consciousness" is just a 21st century word for "soul."

nothing wrong with that, except that at that point you wander over into religion, faith, theology and priestcraft, rather than philosophy. all perfectly respectable behaviors, but not open to empirical testing.
PhilG

Trad climber
The Circuit, Tonasket WA
Aug 28, 2011 - 11:50pm PT
May I share a somewhat simplistic, jaded perspective?
I work in a world (the ER) where people on a daily bases lose their "consciousness."
People lose their "minds" when their brains stop working. Sometimes their loss is so great that we have to provide machines to breath for them. Sometimes their loss of consciousness is minor and they are just confused about the date or who the President is.
From my perspective consciousness is the chemical reaction between the neurons in the synaptic cleft. Nothing more, nothing less.
klk

Trad climber
cali
Aug 28, 2011 - 11:51pm PT
From my perspective consciousness is the chemical reaction between the neurons in the synaptic cleft. Nothing more, nothing less.

money
Jingy

climber
Somewhere out there
Aug 28, 2011 - 11:51pm PT
"at what level is the mind of a lower life form considered consciousness?"

- Good question. Extended further "At what level is the mind of a higher life form considered consciousness?

I have to say... there are a few on this board that fit the lower life form definition, and their consciousness is well in doubt.

Much like myself, there are no correct answers.
krahmes

Social climber
Stumptown
Aug 29, 2011 - 12:36am PT
Pattern recognition and language and I hope as Searle’s has hypothesized with a moment of quantum uncertainty as the kernel of the core.
murcy

Gym climber
sanfrancisco
Aug 29, 2011 - 12:38am PT
klk is not a historian. he is a polymath, and knows more about parts of my specialties than i do.
Patrick Oliver

Boulder climber
Fruita, Colorado
Aug 29, 2011 - 12:42am PT
I'm kind of simplistic, but consciousness to me is
tantamount to awareness. And all awareness is tied to
some or other sense of value. I mean, to look outward
at the night, one manner of mind might see only some flickering
light. Another higher consciousness sees something of
supreme value, something that signifies the vastness of
life and love, how infinitely we feel compared to what
we believe is possible to feel, and how infinitely
we don't know yet anticipate. The higher consciousness
looks deeper, in other words. Whether it be through the
tool of philosophy or of history or poetry or music, or
through plain reflection and response to the world around,
there is a level of feeling and appreciation, of
curiosity and search. We follow our own minds,
using the instruction of forest and air, carefully guided
until at moments we believe almost that we have followed
the right way into the only true living place. We know we are alive.
It is a mystery, all of it, and beauty is only diminished
by trying to pick it apart, to measure it in a scientific
way, or as Dylan once wrote, to "pluck apart the sound of
waves...." Simply, at times the moon is right. The smell
and feel of rock envelop a climber, on some otherwise
silent and empty-seeming tower of another day. We sometimes
must simply breathe, and we learn in ways we cannot speak. We
go on seeing something everywhere, where dreams flow together
in a new reality that appears always to be taking shape....
We are alert to whispers and gestures, attuned to powers,
as the poet W.S. Merwin would say. Children, we hope to be the heir
of every secret. Each hour we go farther into the dream, into
the clouds and rain, and along the distance a caravan of friends
we admire for their kindred sense of adventure through the days and nights.
klk

Trad climber
cali
Aug 29, 2011 - 12:48am PT
heh, murcy, yr just dodging--

start posting some real content in this thread and ill buy the heritage rye

im thinkin potrero green cask.

not like i can actually get my hands on any, but whatever.
klk

Trad climber
cali
Aug 29, 2011 - 12:49am PT
Each hour we go farther into the dream


nice, i like that
john hansen

climber
Aug 29, 2011 - 12:58am PT
I had a strange expereriance coming out of sedation from dental surgery..

My mind was fully aware, but the world was just a white void...


I was thinking while I slowly came to,,is this my new reality? I would exist in this reality forever...

Like suspended animation..

Slowly, after 10 or 12 min, I realized I was in the dentist office looking up at the florescent lights in the ceiling.
It was strange, my mind was completely aware but my body did not exist.






It was kind of fun....
Mungeclimber

Trad climber
sorry, just posting out loud.
Aug 29, 2011 - 01:10am PT
Will come back to this thread, but what is wrong with settling on the model that works? Nothing more nothing less.
Wayno

Big Wall climber
Seattle, WA
Aug 29, 2011 - 02:42am PT
Mind is an endowment. Ask Spock.
Jim Brennan

Trad climber
Vancouver Canada
Aug 29, 2011 - 02:54am PT
You, Kant, always get what you want. But if you try sometimes you get what you need.
bergbryce

Mountain climber
South Lake Tahoe, CA
Aug 29, 2011 - 03:13am PT
It's one of my favorite Talking Heads songs.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2w1N6RTiTpw
TGT

Social climber
So Cal
Aug 29, 2011 - 09:04am PT
Newton had to create a new math to describe the world as it was.

Got your point, but Leibniz was coming up with the same mathematical ideas simultaneously and independently and Hooke had already come up with the law of gravitation.

The famous "I have stood on the shoulders of giants" was probably really an insult directed at Hooke. He was a short little dude with a crooked nose. Newton didn't want to share the credit.

Keynes was completely in error when it came to economic theory, but there's one quote of his I really like, (he owned the largest private collection of Newton's work)

Newton was not the first of the age of reason. He was the last of the magicians,

The work of any philosopher needs to be examined in the context of their age.

http://www.gap-system.org/~history/Extras/Keynes_Newton.html
Dingus McGee

Social climber
Laramie
Aug 29, 2011 - 09:31am PT
Sensing environment conditions and responding was the task of early neurological mechanisms. The tangle comes from when neurological mechanisms began sensing neurological states. The tingle comes because many neurological states send faint signals to the body parts which causes other states to arise. For some this experience is called "subjective". But our parallel processors do their looping and with words some make knowing thy self much more complicated than it is. Knowing how this happens is all about attention.
Tony Bird

climber
Northridge, CA
Aug 29, 2011 - 10:21am PT
in search of mind: essays in autobiography by jerome bruner--interesting memoir of a research psychologist.
Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
And every fool knows, a dog needs a home, and...
Aug 29, 2011 - 10:47am PT
I do not accept the notion that consciousness is outside of reality and is therefore unavailable to rigorous scientific study.

DMT

survival

Big Wall climber
A Token of My Extreme
Aug 29, 2011 - 11:31am PT
Since a strict computational model can be summarily ruled out, and a “brain is consciousness” model is insisting that an apple is an orange, and religious explanations are equally unsatisfactory, one wonders what direction is needed to wrestle this one down.

There is no wrestling this one down. Some need it to be science, some need it to be God.

As a good friend said:
"Waaaay too many people thinking that we're more special or "entitled" than other life on Earth."


All minds will check out in their biological time.

One thing's for sure, your mind may get a little extension from healthy living or medical advances, but no mind gets to carry on permanently from being a high thinker.

We need to get over ourselves and start respecting the planet or there will come an end to all "mind".
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Aug 29, 2011 - 11:39am PT
Largo writes:
//Scientism ~ the belief that the methods of measuring, or the categories and things described through measuring, form the only real and legitimate elements in any philosophical or other inquiry, and that science alone describes the world as it is in itself, independent of perspective, with a concomitant elimination of the psychological dimensions of experience.
//


I don't know about scientism, I am a scientist, I know what troublesome issues arise when subjectivity is injected into scientific investigations.

It is no doubt troublesome when the scientific investigation is about "subjectivity" itself.

As for philosophy, I see it more like sport team affiliation, you route for the "home team" and perhaps have warm feelings for those "home teams" of your past... and you might jeer the evil "away team." The consequence of all this routing is rather nill in the whole of it, in my view.

I take the word scientism as a way of making science a "philosophy" and therefore open to the various bickerings of philosophers. But while science may be interpretable as a philosophy, it has a privileged position of other philosophies, and that is the primacy of empirical verification.

While this greatly limits the extent of philosophical questions which may be presented to "science" it is the absolute arbiter of scientific dispute. It doesn't matter how pretty or how logical or how mighty you proposed theory is if it fails empirical verification.

The role of theory is also important, for without it there would be nothing to verify. Ordering phenomena, organizing them and describing them and then predicting what will happen are all necessary in order to obtain scientific understanding. Theories with no ability to make predictions that can be subject to empirical verification are by and large useless to science. We might use various polite words for this, but "bullshit" hits the mark rather well. Many would posit that theories like "string theory" are "bullshit" because they are incapable of predicting something testable. You can read books on this...

My position regarding empirical verification has been met by Largo with a great deal of chiding and a healthy dose of intellectual bullying, perhaps because my view is at such variance with his, and we have both been at this for decades, "this" being our views on consciousness. He can't believe I believe that all there is to life is the dry stuff of equations and lab experiments. His experience tells him otherwise.

First and foremost, an education in science teaches us how to ask a scientific question. The point being that if you cannot frame a curiosity in a way which is accessible to the scientific method the chances you will obtain a scientific answer vanishes. My realization with discussing this subject with Largo is that he is not asking a scientific question. And so another thread would be more appropriate with the title "The Science of Mind" which would be quite different than Largo's "What Is Mind?" Though I hesitate to suggest such a thing... (although I guess I just did).

Now having violated Gill's aesthetic for short posts, I will end by bringing up an example experience from climbing; regarding what we experience.

I have hypothesized on other threads that we actually know what each other is thinking only through our ability to communicate. I can expand on this, but one objection to the scientific study of "mind" is that it does not consider the "subjective experience." Behaviorism as a biological discipline studies behavior (obviously) but is not privy to the "inner thoughts" of those individuals behaving.

As I sit on a ledge in the Valley, enjoying the beautiful views, I become aware of the distinct smell of formic acid, and my experience immediately tells me I've pissed off the local natives, the ants that live around the tree. They are attacking me, collectively, with the weapons that they have. I know if I don't do something, they'll start biting too, and this is all very unpleasant. I can go on and on about the science of this...

...but let me do a Largo and ask, "what are the ants thinking? how are they experiencing this? what is their subjective response?" and how would I know?




cliffhanger

Trad climber
California
Aug 29, 2011 - 11:48am PT
Tantra Yoga technique 75 to learn the true nature of consciousness:

"If you can carry this image of flame and light through the doors of sleep, you will never sleep again, only the body will rest. And while the body is sleeping, you will know it. Once this happens, you have become the fourth. Now the waking and the dreaming and the sleeping are parts of the mind. They are parts, and you have become the fourth -- one who goes through all of them and is none of them."

http://www.meditationiseasy.com/mCorner/techniques/Vigyan_bhairav_tantra/75.php

Technique 76 is excellent also.

Index:

http://www.meditationiseasy.com/mCorner/techniques/Vigyan_bhairav_tantra/Meditation_techniques_index.htm

rrrADAM

Trad climber
LBMF
Aug 29, 2011 - 12:11pm PT
What is "Mind?"

IMHO... It is our consciousness (direct and sub), our awareness. It is something that evolves and changes... Think of an infant, toddler, adult, or later, people with alzheimers, as all have different degrees of consciousness and/or awareness. Even physical trauma of the brain can have an effect on it, as does psychological trauma, or drugs.

Most, take it for granted, some, explore it and become well versed or even expert at different aspects of it (I.e., higher consciousness/awareness). Just like an dedicated and well trained athlete can do things far above that of normal people. No different.

We can all recognize different levels of awareness in other animals, if we look in our pets, as each is unique in its "personality", and this is even present in other animals (E.g., dolphin, elephant)


So, IMHO, it is a physical thing, that we don't fully understand, but that doesn't mean there is anything nonphysical about it... Just that we don't fully understand it.
survival

Big Wall climber
A Token of My Extreme
Aug 29, 2011 - 12:28pm PT
When the "hard issues" of consciousness don't square with our particular discipline, we end up with simplistic quips like "brain output," which neither addresses or perhaps doesn't even recognize that the computational model of consciousness is a bust for a dozen reasons.

Seems you do a fair amount of dismissing of ideas yourself Largo.
Fish Finder

Social climber
THE BOTTOM OF MY HEART
Aug 29, 2011 - 12:33pm PT





My Mind is Made Up.
climbski2

Mountain climber
Anchorage AK, Reno NV
Aug 29, 2011 - 12:40pm PT
Consciousness is the greatest mystery it seems. I've never heard a good explanation but many great questions.

My own questioning has never yielded satisfying results.

Observations.

I seem to only be me. A consciousness very closely associated with with a physical counterpart my body.

I seem to be located in a area best described as most concentrated a couple inches behind my eyes with definite but varying degrees of direct awareness throughout my body.

I only experience the universe NOW. All memories are simply records they don't seem to truly exist as anything other than imperfect records. They are no more tangible than my imaginations.

Based on observation it seems that other people have a basically similar experience and are other "Mes"
-----------


I can fiddle around with my mental state via thinking about it or physically manipulating it. Intentionally or unintentionally. But only to a very limited degree that does not escape the bounds described above.

Except one notable experience with a spinal block...really really fascinating experience with temporary paraplegia.
--------


Beyond this i know nothing really. But have to ask why these limits are in my experience unbreakable?

Are they? if so why? How am I in existence.. conscious that is..

no answer that i have ever heard and i have never heard any honest person who really claims to know.

----------


Castenada and various other mystics claim to have broken the limits I have described but never seem able to explain how in a way I have been able to duplicate and even they don't seem to know what it is either.

---


Rambling thoughts


jstan

climber
Aug 29, 2011 - 12:44pm PT
It would be interesting were there a thread entitled, as Ed suggests, ""The Science of Mind". We have professionals expert in this area. I am not one but spurred by John's philosophical leanings quite some time ago I posed an observational definition/description of conscious processes. No one has so far proposed something better, I think.

Early on in school when I first encountered philosophical texts, especially those of the last 2000 years, my impressions jibed very closely with what Ed had the courage to describe. John's efforts did get me to thinking about these processes in real terms, for which I would like to thank him.

Indeed, proceeding under the assumption that ADHD is a malfunction associated with difficulty keeping a line of processing from slipping into subconscious levels I wonder if there might be a line of useful research. The interface between conscious and subconscious has to be something of great interest, neurologically. MRI papers imply that you can get data, albeit poorly averaged, out on 50ms centers. (Possibly even the probe frequency itself could be better selected to sense the processes of interest.) If that is true one could get noise data on local neural processes. That would be interesting because when a process is on the verge of substantial change,i.e. slipping into chaos, you get high levels of what is called "one over f noise." There the spectral power density varies as the inverse of the frequency. A friend is convinced Navier Stokes solutions are required for a better understanding of this phenomenon, so if anyone likes to work this problem, they might take a look at it. Far too nasty for me.

At any rate were all this to be doable, patients suffering from this disorder might benefit from a probe locating the onset in both space and time within the brain. Just being able to quantify the defect would be a huge step forward, I think in its study.
Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
And every fool knows, a dog needs a home, and...
Aug 29, 2011 - 12:50pm PT
"First thing we do, let's kill all the scientists."

Why does this seem to be the first tenet of religious demagoguery? It seems consistent across cultures and various religious pursuits. Meet the new boss, he's the same as the old boss.

Since the specifics of science, the proofs if you will, have proven largely unassailable, it makes sense to instead turn the focus to the scientists themselves or even better their very schools of thought.

But for me? When some 'nutricutical' shuckster comes on the TV telling me that medical science is corrupt and I only need buy their snake oil to achieve bliss, or some politico tells me climate scientists 'are only in it for the bucks' (lol lol lol) or some religious dude toting a bag O supposition tells me that modern science will never discern the truth?

I don't buy it. If first we must kill the scientists? I'll pass on this sort of philosophy. Thanks though!

DMT
cintune

climber
Midvale School for the Gifted
Aug 29, 2011 - 01:11pm PT
hooblie

climber
from where the anecdotes roam
Aug 29, 2011 - 01:19pm PT
absurd leap of an audacious presumption that i know anything about this:

mind is a constantly churning mechanism that drives a little needle, a needle which swings within the realm of approach/avoid in an effort to achieve the ever elusive satisfied ... "mind"

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=59EImIpI3YI
Eric Beck

Sport climber
Bishop, California
Aug 29, 2011 - 02:00pm PT
When we ask "What is" something, we are looking for an answer in terms of more fundamental properties. Some examples from different fields:
Inflation is too much money chasing too few goods.
Gravity is a force between all bits of matter. There is an equation for the strength of the force.
Heat is vibration of molecules. The complete absence of heat at absolute zero is matter with no vibration.

Here is an interesting conjecture on the question of "What is Mind (or consciousness)". I would like to say that I thought this up, but it is from Teilhard de Chardin. Chardin was a Jesuit and a Paleontologist.

Consciousness is a fundamental property of matter, like mass or charge. It only manifests itself in structures of considerable complexity, i.e. brains. Evolution is development of more elaborate brains and concomitant higher consciousness.

Is this a scientific assertion? Can it be tested? I am not sure, but one corrollary is that if true, life should be common in the uniferse. Perhaps it is possible to have a measure of the complexity of different brains, amoebae, Ed's ants, dogs, humans etc, measures of their consciousness and check the correlation. Maybe we could look for some very elementary tropisms in material we think to be inanimate and see if we can measure possibly very tiny responses to stimuli.
Fish Finder

Social climber
THE BOTTOM OF MY HEART
Aug 29, 2011 - 02:20pm PT




Mind Matters ?
cintune

climber
Midvale School for the Gifted
Aug 29, 2011 - 02:41pm PT
There’s a part of your brain devoted entirely to recognizing animals
Biologically speaking, humans are pretty much just another animal, and it's actually hard to come up with any clear explanation for what sets us apart. But we have a hard time accepting this ... and the reason we're in denial about our animal status may be hardwired into our brains.
It seems as though we humans really should be exceptional somehow, but so many of the things that make us unique — complex societies, tool use, even language and self-awareness — can be found to one degree or another in other species as well. But it's hard to shake the notion that we're special somehow, and that's not exactly surprising. Partially that's because so much of the history of human philosophy has been spent conceptualizing ourselves as fundamentally different from all other life — for a quick example of that, check out the Great Chain of Being.

The roots of human exceptionalism might go even deeper than that, right down to some of the deepest functions of our brains. That's the finding of researchers from Caltech, who asked 41 epilepsy patients to look at 100 different images of animals, people, objects, and landmarks. Because the patients were about to undergo surgery, they'd had electrodes implanted in their brains, allowing the researchers to monitor the neural responses to the different images precisely.

The researchers studied the activity of nearly 1,500 different neurons, and one area of the brain in particular stuck out: the right amygdala. Some of the neurons in that section of the amygdala — the part of the brain that process emotional reaction — responded specifically to pictures of animals, and nothing else. Crucially, these neurons did not fire when photos of humans were shown, regardless of whether the photo was of a famous celebrity or a random stranger. It also didn't matter from what angle or distance the photos were taken.

Even more intriguingly, the neurons showed no preference for which animals were displayed. They didn't fire more strongly in response to, say, a potential predator or a cute lolcat. That suggests this neural response isn't a specific evolutionary response to possible threats - it's more basic than that. If anything, it suggests that we're hard-wired to respond to the presence of animals, any animals...as long as they're not humans.

So then, if you're still looking for a way to distinguish humans from all other animals, we now have a straightforward definition: humans are the only species that doesn't register a response in certain neurons of the right amygdala of the human brain. It doesn't have quite the same ring to it as "we're the only truly intelligent species" or something like that, but it does have the added value of actually meaning something concrete.

http://io9.com/5835391/our-brains-dont-consider-us-to-be-animals
Ron Anderson

Trad climber
USA Carson city Nev.
Aug 29, 2011 - 02:49pm PT
a mind is a fun thing to waste...
healyje

Trad climber
Portland, Oregon
Aug 29, 2011 - 02:54pm PT
Consciousness is a fundamental property of matter, like mass or charge. It only manifests itself in structures of considerable complexity, i.e. brains. Evolution is development of more elaborate brains and concomitant higher consciousness.

This is the 'ghost-in-the-machine' argument of a universal consciousness 'inhabiting' organisms, each to whatever limits it can sustain. In turn, I suppose it could be extrapolated to accommodate issues around debilitation, disease, and other forms of brain and cognitive dysfunction. Some of the questions raised by this approach, though, revolve around exactly how consciousness 'finds' and 'inhabits' or brains and how a universal consciousness differentiates into individual consciousness.

I would also think if one ascribed to this line of reasoning it would be relatively difficult to support any notions of the survival of a uniquely identifiable 'mind' after death - arrives with the wind, departs with the wind.
Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
And every fool knows, a dog needs a home, and...
Aug 29, 2011 - 02:58pm PT
Consciousness is a fundamental property of matter, like mass or charge. It only manifests itself in structures of considerable complexity, i.e. brains. Evolution is development of more elaborate brains and concomitant higher consciousness.

Is this a scientific assertion? Can it be tested? I am not sure, but one corrollary is that if true, life should be common in the uniferse. Perhaps it is possible to have a measure of the complexity of different brains, amoebae, Ed's ants, dogs, humans etc, measures of their consciousness and check the correlation. Maybe we could look for some very elementary tropisms in material we think to be inanimate and see if we can measure possibly very tiny responses to stimuli.

If consciousness is a fundamental property of matter, like mass or charge, why is life even required, much less common? Wouldn't a rock or a breath of air also have some minute component of consciousness? They also have mass and charge, which not ironically can be measured.....

DMT

Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
And every fool knows, a dog needs a home, and...
Aug 29, 2011 - 03:00pm PT
Biologically speaking, humans are pretty much just another animal, and it's actually hard to come up with any clear explanation for what sets us apart.

That's because there aren't any. Zip. Zed. Zilch. Not one valid explanation for removing humans from the zoological family tree.

None.

Humans ARE animals. Accept it. Or don't!

DMT
Ron Anderson

Trad climber
USA Carson city Nev.
Aug 29, 2011 - 03:08pm PT
Im in COMPLETE touch with my canines DMT!
FredC

Boulder climber
Santa Cruz, CA
Aug 29, 2011 - 03:22pm PT
I have been thinking about this lately, very interesting thread. I am not a trained philosopher so my stuff will be pretty personal, or at least from "my" perspective.

For me this boils down to the simple question about does consciousness or awareness arise from a certain number of neurons or connections or is it something separate. Are we just meat computers or is there more?

In a related thought lately it occurs to me that this world we pop into when we are born seems like a big ongoing river of progress and development and so on, a linear timeline. The problem is that the “I” that has popped into this apparently pre-existing stream is absolutely required to experience anything at all, including this stream itself.

When I die this stream will be lost to “me” forever as if both I and it never were. If I am the only one’s perception I care about do I and reality just vanish all at once? Did this very solid stream of time actually exist, did “I“exist?

Hmmm
Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
And every fool knows, a dog needs a home, and...
Aug 29, 2011 - 03:28pm PT
Fred C that IS the age ole question, innit?

DMT
Largo

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Topic Author's Reply - Aug 29, 2011 - 03:34pm PT
searle et al. want "consciousness" the be something that's more than special-- they want a qualitative rather than a merely quantitative line between other animals and humans called "consciousness."

"language" isn't good enough for john and the others.


at that point, you might start to suspect, as folks from foucault to dennett have argued, that "consciousness" is just a 21st century word for "soul."
-


I don’t think Searle and others were hoping for anything “special,” rather they were looking at their own minds and asking: What is going on? Is mathematics and data processing answering the questions I have about consciousness? Can I probe these waters with more than a ruler and avoid the terrible cries of those saying I am perforce engaging in wu wu bullsh#t?

I think Craig (Dr. F) was wondering where human consciousness fit into the evolutionary ladder. Maybe he can ask a giraffe or stink bug what it thinks about this thread, phyicalism, reeductionism, and so forth. This thread doesn't make us "better," in my view. And that's not the question, anyhow.

Ascribing consciousness to the effect of language is simplistic, as is expecting measuring to answer the “hard” questions. Dismissing the questions themselves is rapping off because of a little loose rock. Measure one of Ed's Yosemite photos if you please and tell me about language. BTW, the reason I "bullied" Ed was because he was basically saying all along that philosophy, from the Greeks on down, had given us "nil," when in fact western civilization is the fruit of these "mere talkers." But that's another drift . . .

The interesting and tricky things here include:

A third-person description of consciousness is totally different than consciousness itself. While consciousness can to varying degrees be found in other species (who can say to what degree), the important thing here is that WE are conscious, and we know this as a simple and empirical fact.

Consciousness is subjective, known through first-person experience – it IS first-person experience - so it is difficult to objectify in the normal (measuring) ways. This, I believe, is the principal beef that science has with consciousness itself, and why it struggles to reframe consciousness into something by which it can wrangle it down by known methods. But it has to be something like classical physics not explaining the quantum world, and people at first simply dismissing the quantum world as (fill in the blank).

For instance, Ed wrote: “First and foremost, an education in science teaches us how to ask a scientific question. The point being that if you cannot frame a curiosity in a way which is accessible to the scientific method the chances you will obtain a scientific answer vanishes.”

So far, so good. If you can’t measure it, it ain’t “science.

“My realization with discussing this subject with Largo is that he is not asking a scientific question. And so another thread would be more appropriate with the title "The Science of Mind" which would be quite different than Largo's "What Is Mind?" Though I hesitate to suggest such a thing... (although I guess I just did).”

I’m fine with measurements describing what consciousness IS, but so long as people are chasing after data processing and not human experience, we’re talking about different things.

Going on with Ed: “I have hypothesized on other threads that we actually know what each other is thinking only through our ability to communicate. I can expand on this, but one objection to the scientific study of "mind" is that it does not consider the "subjective experience.”

This would be a valuable point if the object of inquiry was a nutrino or a hub cap but in fact consciousness, as we live and breath it, IS a subjective experience. It can be nothing less since we, as subjects, are its keepers (perhaps not exclusively) through direct experience. IOWs, consciousness is not a third-person thing, so treating it as such will give us mixed results.

Perhaps what Ed and others want is for consciousness to be something other than what it really is in our actual lives. He wants consciousness to exist “as it is in itself” (as a mechanism, not an experience), “independent of perspective” (when consciousness is and always be beholden to the perspective of the person having the experience), “ with a concomitant elimination of the psychological dimensions of experience,” which is like saying: “While consciousness is known only through our direct experience, our investigation of consciousness should first and foremost eliminate experience.”

But there is still room for natural science to probe the relationship between matter and mind, but that too has formidable challenges, like how does matter become experience, and where, exactly, in the causal chain, does this happen, and how. Of course the claim that experience is “what the meat brain does,” will never do owing to the vast qualitative differences between subjective experience (beyond neural “output”) and atomic activity.

Hell if I know how to wrestle this down . . .

JL
jstan

climber
Aug 29, 2011 - 03:44pm PT
FC:
I think you need to decide what you mean by "exist". Here is a candidate:

Something, anything "exists" if that object can be shown, on interaction with another object, to have been affected in any way.

You will know you exist if you do the following. Take a hammer in your right hand and smash your left thumb. A confirming experiment should also be done to show that a different action produces a different effect. Put the hammer in your left hand and smash your right thumb.

All very easily done. You will have an answer to this thousand year old question, in no time at all.

The point?

We get unanswerable philosophical questions simply through poor use of language.

If we assume philosophers are bright, they have to realize what it is they are doing. It is a very simple realization. So which of the two possibilities do you think is operable?

1. Philosophers are not suited for discussion of questions?

2. Philosophers are insincere.

Proposals for the meaning of "existence" that are apriori not testable do not merit discussion.
squishy

Mountain climber
sacramento
Aug 29, 2011 - 03:50pm PT
You guys gotta read this, it's super awesome, weld it approves it!

http://www.amazon.com/Consciousness-Very-Short-Introduction-Introductions/dp/0192805851

Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
And every fool knows, a dog needs a home, and...
Aug 29, 2011 - 04:05pm PT
We get unanswerable philosophical questions simply through poor use of language.

One might argue that this is the primary goal and output of philosophy....

to find and pose the unanswerable questions.

DMT
healyje

Trad climber
Portland, Oregon
Aug 29, 2011 - 04:08pm PT
Largo: ...like how does matter become experience, and where, exactly, in the causal chain, does this happen, and how. Of course the claim that experience is “what the meat brain does,” will never do owing to the vast qualitative differences between subjective experience (beyond neural “output”) and atomic activity.

You (and I suspect this is endemic to many philosophers) keep looking for some secret alchemy that will transmute one noun (meat) into another noun (experience) when in all likelihood both are simply attributes of the same verb.

The neural substrates of conscious color perception demonstrated using fMRI

It is well established that seeing color activates the ventral occipital cortex, including the fusiform and lingual gyri, but less is known about whether the region directly relates to conscious color perception. We investigated the neural correlates of conscious color perception in the ventral occipital cortex. To vary conscious color perception with the stimuli-remaining constant, we took advantage of the McCollough effect, an illusory color effect that is contingent on the orientation of grating stimuli. Subjects were exposed to a specific combination of chromatic grating patterns for 10 min to induce the McCollough effect. We compared brain activities measured while the subjects viewed achromatic grating stimuli before (PRE) and after the induction of the McCollough effect (POST) using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). There were two groups: one group was informed that they would perceive illusory color during the session (INFORMED group), whereas the other group was not informed (UNINFORMED group). The successful induction of the McCollough effect was confirmed in all subjects after the fMRI experiment; nevertheless, only approximately half of the UNINFORMED subjects had been aware of the color during the POST session, while the other half had not. The left anterior portion of the color-selective area in the ventral occipital cortex, presumably V4α, was significantly active in subjects who had consciously perceived the color during MR scan. This study demonstrates the activity in a subregion of the color-selective area in the ventral occipital cortex directly related to conscious color perception.
jstan

climber
Aug 29, 2011 - 04:10pm PT
Dingus:
You give voice to a conclusion I reached freshman year. Courage greater than my own is possessed by both yourself and Ed Hartouni.

The horrible truth is now out.

Joe:
Very good! I will have to research the McCullough Effect. Your paper indicates work in the field regarding the conscious/subconscious dichotomy is ongoing. Something I thought to be quite probable. I would also guess NIMH is funding it to deal with increasingly important afflictions such as the one I mentioned.

Edit: Joe
I did not go through the training period required to demonstrate the McCollough Effect. Entirely reasonable that this happens. Our visual systems are quite adaptable; they even fill in the scene we can't see because of the blind spot associated with the central nerve. The effect here is probably simply related to the training effect associated with synapses being strengthened due to repeated excitation. The effect lasting months, however, is a little scary. Enough reason right there not to do a full test of the effect.

T Chief:
"The main function of virtuous concentration is to make the mind peaceful."

When my car is sliding toward the guardrail on slick ice I am definitely concentrating but my mind is not "peaceful".

If I am trying to avoid an accident, why is my concentration not considered "virtuous"?

Or is it that "virtuous concentration" only works part of the time?

Any guidance as to when I can expect it to work and when not?
The Chief

climber
Climber from the Land Mongols under the Whites
Aug 29, 2011 - 04:20pm PT
"Understanding the Mind"
The Nature and Power of the Mind By Geshe Kelsang Gyatso


This book sheds a completely different light on this discussion and goes far beyond what science may dictate.

http://kadampa.org/en/books/understanding-the-mind/

"Concentration Makes the Mind Peaceful

The main function of virtuous concentration is to make the mind peaceful. In Precious Garland Nagarjuna says:

From giving comes wealth,
From discipline comes happiness,
From patience come attractive forms,
From effort comes the fulfilment of wishes,
From concentration comes peace,
And from wisdom comes freedom from obstructions.

When our mind is free from the turbulence of distracting conceptions it becomes calm and smooth. When we are enjoying internal peace and happiness our craving for external sources of pleasure naturally declines and it is easy to remain content."
jstan

climber
Aug 29, 2011 - 04:31pm PT
FT:
Altogether possible. Got an example?
malabarista

Trad climber
Portland, OR
Aug 29, 2011 - 04:51pm PT
Since a strict computational model can be summarily ruled out, and a “brain is consciousness” model is insisting that an apple is an orange, and religious explanations are equally unsatisfactory, one wonders what direction is needed to wrestle this one down.

I disagree that a computational model can be ruled out. And I don't buy Searle's Chinese Room thought experiment which hinges on "understanding". I can solve math problems but do I "understand" them? Do I understand what math is? I don't know that I do so I don't see how I'm different than a machine in this regard. I can recognize patterns.

I recommend "Words Made Flesh" by Ramsey Dukes for your continued explorations...

http://www.amazon.com/Words-Made-Flesh-Ramsey-Dukes/dp/0904311112/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1314651064&sr=1-2

blurb from Amazon "this remains the most thorough and complete discussion of the virtual model of the universe"

The thing I love about this book is that the author also originally hated the idea that a machine could have consciousness. But he found that by accepting it fully and extending it to everything... that if everything is in fact just information, then it does not preclude the existence of all our beloved subjective phenomena. If the universe if virtual, then there can an infinite number of such universes and anything we can dream of could exist therein.

Re - the direct, first person experience of hanging 2,500 up the Shield on El Capitan, in boardshorts, in a lightning storm, is a different “thing” than a milk shake or a cockroach.

Maybe it's only different because it's not as commonplace. If you did this everyday it could be a milk shake?
Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
And every fool knows, a dog needs a home, and...
Aug 29, 2011 - 04:56pm PT
Strict computational model

is essentially meaningless and amounts to nothing more than one man's opinion.

DMT
cintune

climber
Midvale School for the Gifted
Aug 29, 2011 - 04:57pm PT
malabarista

Trad climber
Portland, OR
Aug 29, 2011 - 05:04pm PT
Going along with the computational model (the universe and consciousness as information) idea...

The Meta Matrix:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=18toLb9zros
healyje

Trad climber
Portland, Oregon
Aug 29, 2011 - 05:38pm PT
Do you or your gut bacteria control how you [(sub)consciously] feel today...?

Ingestion of Lactobacillus strain regulates emotional behavior and central GABA receptor expression in a mouse via the vagus nerve

There is increasing, but largely indirect, evidence pointing to an effect of commensal gut microbiota on the central nervous system (CNS). However, it is unknown whether lactic acid bacteria such as Lactobacillus rhamnosus could have a direct effect on neurotransmitter receptors in the CNS in normal, healthy animals. GABA is the main CNS inhibitory neurotransmitter and is significantly involved in regulating many physiological and psychological processes. Alterations in central GABA receptor expression are implicated in the pathogenesis of anxiety and depression, which are highly comorbid with functional bowel disorders. In this work, we show that chronic treatment with L. rhamnosus (JB-1) induced region-dependent alterations in GABAB1b mRNA in the brain with increases in cortical regions (cingulate and prelimbic) and concomitant reductions in expression in the hippocampus, amygdala, and locus coeruleus, in comparison with control-fed mice. In addition, L. rhamnosus (JB-1) reduced GABAAα2 mRNA expression in the prefrontal cortex and amygdala, but increased GABAAα2 in the hippocampus. Importantly, L. rhamnosus (JB-1) reduced stress-induced corticosterone and anxiety- and depression-related behavior. Moreover, the neurochemical and behavioral effects were not found in vagotomized mice, identifying the vagus as a major modulatory constitutive communication pathway between the bacteria exposed to the gut and the brain. Together, these findings highlight the important role of bacteria in the bidirectional communication of the gut–brain axis and suggest that certain organisms may prove to be useful therapeutic adjuncts in stress-related disorders such as anxiety and depression.
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Aug 29, 2011 - 05:38pm PT
Largo writes: Perhaps what Ed and others want is for consciousness to be something other than what it really is in our actual lives. He wants consciousness to exist “as it is in itself” (as a mechanism, not an experience), “independent of perspective” (when consciousness is and always be beholden to the perspective of the person having the experience), “ with a concomitant elimination of the psychological dimensions of experience,” which is like saying: “While consciousness is known only through our direct experience, our investigation of consciousness should first and foremost eliminate experience.”

which is wrong by miles at least as far as I'm concerned... I don't "want" consciousness to be anything, I'd like to understand it... I hypothesize with the complete willingness to get it wrong, and then modify my assumptions leading to that hypothesis, to refine it... how do I know I'm wrong? by quantifying... and that can be rather soft quantification... like looking at all the replies on a SuperTopoForum thread where the OP might pose a question; do I agree or disagree? do the respondents have view point I haven't considered and is valid and "defeats" my hypothesis.

To do this I have to have a "hypothesis" and a method for arriving at it, and the hypothesis must be testable.

That is what I "want"...
...what do you "want", Largo?
Largo

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Topic Author's Reply - Aug 29, 2011 - 05:39pm PT
You (and I suspect this is endemic to many philosophers) keep looking for some secret alchemy that will transmute one noun (meat) into another noun (experience) when in all likelihood both are simply attributes of the same verb.

Tis is the stonewalling on principle that I mentioned before - it does not answer the vastly different qualitative differences between consciousness the merely physical qualities found in material things. As mentioned, a new coin "shines." Luminosity and a new coin are "simply attributes of the same" person, placed or thing. A meat brain and subjective experience cannot be clumped together in the same way. The amazing thing to me is the persistent idea that if consciousness is NOT a simplistic attribute of meat, it must be "secret alchemy." Where in the world does that belief come from, or that philosophers are proponents of same. Curious . . .

If a mechanistic/materialistic/reductionistic model can entirely explain subjective experience (consciousness), then what, at this time, keeps us from building machines that could carry on this very thread by themselves, and could relate to us the subjective experience of doing same? This might shed light on the hard questions according to those proposing a strictly mechanistic model.

And Ed, when I said you "wanted" experience to be different than it is, I simply meant that you seemed to want it to be something and only something you can quantify. I know we can quantify the biology thought by some to "create' consciousness, but how do we quantify experience itself. And if we can't, how might we proceed with the on-sight if we ruled out bullsh#t, priestcraft and alchemy? I'm totally open to suggestions. Since I have no answers, I have no preferences on the route taken.

JL
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Aug 29, 2011 - 05:43pm PT
Largo asks: If a mechanistic/materialistic/reductionistic model can entirely explain subjective experience (consciousness), then what, at this time, keeps us from building machines that could carry on this very thread by themselves, and could relate to us the subjective experience of doing same?

they already do... in the sense that we cannot distinguish machine generated reality from the actual thing itself...

...how do I know you have experiences, anyway? how could I tell you weren't a machine?
healyje

Trad climber
Portland, Oregon
Aug 29, 2011 - 05:45pm PT
Consciousness likely evolved out of an initial ability to self-locate in an organism's environment - a capability necessary to both predator and prey.

Largo: ...but how do we quantify experience itself?

Why is the idea of experience being a [distributed and recursive] cascade of chemical and electrial processing seeking equilibrium so difficult to accept? If 'experience' were something other, more ethereal, then how would alcohol and various substances be able to alter our "subjective experience" in a matter of minutes?
Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
And every fool knows, a dog needs a home, and...
Aug 29, 2011 - 06:35pm PT
Meat brain in motion?



DMT
healyje

Trad climber
Portland, Oregon
Aug 29, 2011 - 06:50pm PT
So although many of us agree on a scientific or evolutionary basis for consciousness we still can not answer to the larger questions and writings in Largo's initial post.

I would disagree to some extent. Even though we are just learning the basics, one can reasonably posit 'subjective experience' is an evolved form of the recursive processing necessary for primitive, predatory self-location / awareness. The details may elude us; the idea itself is pretty simple.
malabarista

Trad climber
Portland, OR
Aug 29, 2011 - 07:51pm PT
Most people resist the idea that universe "reduces" to information. They think it somehow cheapens their existence. I don't agree with this at all. if the universe is "just information" then anything is still possible. Virtual universes within virtual universes. Anything goes, as long as it's in the code...
Timid TopRope

Social climber
Paradise, CA
Aug 29, 2011 - 08:10pm PT
Mind is the construct that humans have appointed and anointed themselves to feel superior to the rest of creation.
healyje

Trad climber
Portland, Oregon
Aug 29, 2011 - 08:21pm PT
I don't rule out a 'computational' model entirely, but would point out we don't have the slightest clue what [meaningful] 'computation' or a 'cognitive architecture' (i.e. a vast and very dynamic distributed network) in the brain looks like beyond some understanding of the hierarchical signals generated by various aspects of the brain.
WBraun

climber
Aug 29, 2011 - 08:27pm PT
Largo's original post is super easy to understand.

Consciousness is super easy to understand.

All it takes is a good brain .......
jstan

climber
Aug 29, 2011 - 08:30pm PT
FM:
"Every philosophical question that has a culturally dependent and translated answer."

Definitely. Language is a subtle tool. That's why I keep asking what people mean by the words.
Seems to me a room full of people each using their own personal meanings are wasting time trying to discuss.

I gave a proposed definition for existence, to wit:

"Something, anything "exists" if that object can be shown, on interaction with another object, to have been affected in any way."

At first blush this sounds restricted in a Newtonian sense to physical objects. On further thought, I think it extends even to ideas or models.

If a consideration of the concept for "experience" can by a logical process lead to an effect on another concept, say "qualia", then we might say the two exist. They can support an interaction.

But before we can construct this logical process describing the interaction, we need a commonly shared meaning for the two words.

IMO we don't have these commonly agreed upon meanings, so I feel justified in challenging whether these undefined entities exist.

They don't exist in the sense needed for a useful discussion.

All of my objections are overcome if one does not insist upon discussion being useful,i.e. showing promise of leading to a result.




In that case, philosophical discussion becomes functionally equivalent to a dance.

Two people engaging in an activity that does not actually go any place. Done only in the hopes of affecting the other person.

DMT:
When someone says something exists that they can't begin to describe , but I am some how defective because I won't carry on a discussion about this mystery - I see no reason to let the issue be framed in this way. It won't lead anywhere.

A question. The only thing that seems to be known about this, whatever, is that it is beyond science. Interesting. How is it we know it is beyond science?

Is this knowledge magically obtained?

The consciousness I described is not beyond science. Maybe our problem is that this strange thing is co-opting an english word that is used in our normal world.

Why not avoid confusion and invent a new word for the strange thing?


How about..............?

Yes, there is this thing I call my infused spirit. I can't describe what it is that infuses it but I feel raised to really high energy combined with ultimate peace when I contemplate it.

There you go.
Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
And every fool knows, a dog needs a home, and...
Aug 29, 2011 - 08:33pm PT
jstan how can someone who asserts consciousness is outside the realm of science even answer your question without admitting defeat? Measurement is inherent to definition.

DMT
WBraun

climber
Aug 29, 2011 - 08:34pm PT
Consciousness is never outside the realm of science.

It's idiots who don't do the experiment say that .....
beef supreme

climber
the west
Aug 29, 2011 - 08:50pm PT
it's over matter.
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Aug 29, 2011 - 09:21pm PT
BES'1st writes: "Computation exists only relative to some agent or observer who imposes a computational interpretation
on some phenomenon. This is an obvious point."


not sure about this, if by "computational" you mean "algorithmic" then the DNA/RNA algorithms for protein production certainly exist without interpretation.

survival

Big Wall climber
A Token of My Extreme
Aug 29, 2011 - 09:21pm PT
Mind is the construct that humans have appointed and anointed themselves to feel superior to the rest of creation.


That's what I said earlier!! Thanks Timid T.
Patrick Oliver

Boulder climber
Fruita, Colorado
Aug 29, 2011 - 09:45pm PT
I couldn't agree less
MH2

climber
Aug 29, 2011 - 09:56pm PT
What is Mind?

is a surprisingly useful question to get people to reveal how they think.



But I would leave questions about mind to philosophers and study the brain instead.




"Once the assumption that there is an objective reality independent of consciousness is put aside, the paradoxes of quantum physics are explainable, according to Goswami."

Well, sure! But that is like selling your soul to the Devil.
Norwegian

Trad climber
Placerville, California
Aug 29, 2011 - 10:33pm PT
werner your reference to others as idiots
suggests that you've been insincere to yourself.

and that your boldy presented opinions that you attempt to mask as fact
are held feebly in your heart.

ore else,

my mind takes over when my feet get tired of journeying.
Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
And every fool knows, a dog needs a home, and...
Aug 29, 2011 - 11:34pm PT
I couldn't agree less

Lol. Good one.

DMT
StahlBro

Trad climber
San Diego, CA
Aug 29, 2011 - 11:48pm PT
The concept of "mind" interpreting itself is pretty interesting. How would it know when it was successful? I am not sure there is an end game here. Pursuit seems to be where growth takes place.
Largo

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Topic Author's Reply - Aug 30, 2011 - 12:15am PT
JSTAN WROTE:

"Something, anything "exists" if that object can be shown, on interaction with another object, to have been affected in any way."

MAKES SENSE. IF SOME THING CANNOT BE SHOWN OR INTUITED AS HAVING SOME LINK IN THE CAUSAL CHAIN, SOMEWHERE IN TIME AND SPACE, PER THINGS PHYSICAL OR OTHERWISE, THEN THE TOPIC OF DISCUSSION IS MORE FOR GHOSTBUSTERS THAN CURIOUS MINDS.

At first blush this sounds restricted in a Newtonian sense to physical objects. On further thought, I think it extends even to ideas or models.

SO DO I, THOUGH I'M NOT CERTAIN QUITE HOW AT THIS POINT.

If a consideration of the concept for "experience" can by a logical process lead to an effect on another concept, say "qualia," then we might say the two exist. They can support an interaction.
But before we can construct this logical process describing the interaction, we need a commonly shared meaning for the two words.

THIS IS TRICKY BUT NECESSARY IF NOT CRUCIAL IMO. AND SAID DEFINITIONS NEEDS TO BE "NEAT," NOT WATERED DOWN WITH BELIEFS, ONCE REMOVED FROM EXPERIENCE ITSELF, ABOUT HOW SUBJECTIVE EXPERIENCE IS MECHANICALLY "CREATED."

SO FAR IN ALL MY SCATTERSHOT READING AND PERSONAL WRANGLING WITH "MIND" I AM UNSATISFIED WITH THE LANGUAGE AND ASCRIBED MEANINGS, BY AND LARGE. PERHAPS THIS IS INEVITABLE BECAUSE ANY EFFORT TO FRAME EXPERIENCE AS A CONCEPT FACES THE CONFOUNDING TASK OF TRYING TO CAST SOMETHING SUBJECTIVE AND DECIDEDLY FIRST PERSON INTO SOMETHING "OBJECTIVE" (QUANTIFIABLE BY NORMAL MEANS) AND THIRD PERSON.
TRYING TO CAST A PROCESS AS A THING IS A LITTLE LIKE CALLING A BASEBALL CARD A BALLGAME AT THE POLO GROUNDS. PERHAPS THERE IS AN OBJECTIVE, 3RD PERSON ASPECT AND A SUBJECTIVE FIRST PERSON DIMENSION TO ANY NUMBER OF THINGS, BUT CALLING THEM THE SELFSAME THINGS SEEMS TO ONLY MUDDY THE WATERS. TO TRY AND DO SO ALWAYS FEELS INAUTHENTIC TO ME - LIKE SAYING ED IS OFF WIDTH CLIMBING, SINCE THAT'S WHAT ED DOES. OR ED IS PHOTOGRAPHY OR PHYSICS, BECAUSE ED DOES THAT TOO.

EVEN IF WE COULD PERFECTLY DESCRIBE EXPERIENCE BY AN EQUATION WITH A GOOGLEPLEX OF FIGURES, SAID EQUATION WOULD BE TO EXPERIENCE WHAT THE SHEET MUSIC FOR RHAPSODY IN BLUE IS TO THE PHILHARMONIC SONG ITSELF. BUT NOT REALLY. EVEN METAPHORS ARE NO GOOD HERE. AT LEAST MINE.

IMO we don't have these commonly agreed upon meanings, so I feel justified in challenging whether these undefined entities exist.

AS WELL YOU SHOULD.

I SAID EARLIER THAT TO ME, CONSCIOUSNESS SEEMS LIKE A PROCESS OF PERSONAL EXPERIENCE, INVOLVING A NET OF AWARENESS - THAT SUBJECTIVELY FEELS LIKE IT HAS NO BORDERS/LIMITS - AND THAT THROUGH THIS NET FLOWS THE STUFF OR CONTENT OF EXPERIENCE.

THIS STUFF IS VARIOUSLY CALLED MANY THNGS, INCLUDING QUAL.

QUALIA REFERS TO THE SUBJECTIVE EXPERIENCE ITSELF, AS IT UNFOLDS IN THE LIFE I ACTUALLY LEAD.

IT IS INCOMPREHENSIBLE TO ME THAT ANYONE CONSCIOUS AND PROPERLY FORMED COULD FAIL TO RECOGNIZE THAT THEY ARE ACTUALLY ALIVE AND AWARE OF BEING ALIVE (POINT 1), THAT THEIR AWARENESS FIELD CAN STRETCH TO THE EDGES OF IMAGINATION AND NEVER STOP (POINT 2), THAT THEY NATURALLY ARE AWARE OF TAXES AND LOVE AND BULLFROGS AND THOUGHTS (POINT 3 = QUAL), AND THAT THE FIRST PERSON SUBJECTIVE EXPERIENCE OF BEING CONSCIOUS IS NOT A STATIC THING BUT RATHER IT UNFOLDS AND ACCRUES AND EXTENDS THROUGH TIME AND SPACE (QUALIA).

OF COURSE THIS GOES DIRECTLY AGAINST THE PRECEPTS OF SCIENTISM BECAUSE IT DOES NOT "ELIMINATE THE PSYCHOLOGICAL ASPECTS OF EXPERIENCE" AND DEFALT OUT OUT INTO A PLACE ONCE REMOVED FROM THE FIRST PERSON WHERE ONCE MORE WE CAN START IN WITH THE STANDARD MEASURING. AND ONCE THIS STARTS THEN COMES ALL THE RHUMBA ABOUT PRIESTCRAFT AND BULLSH#T, JUSTIFYING RETURNING BACK TO THE SAFETY OF THE PURELY MECHANICAL AND MATERIAL SHORES, AND HOW WE ARE LOST AND DOOMED TO SHIPWRECK IF WE DO SO. MAYBE, JUST MAYBE, IF WE CAN CONCOCT AND AGREE UPON SOME SIMPLE DEFINITIONS OF FIRST PERSON SUBJECTIVITY (CONSCIOUS EXPERIENCE), AND NOT IMMEDIATELY FLEE TO MORE FREAKING MODELS/REPRESENTATIONS OF WHAT WE ARE TALKING ABOUT,
WE CAN COVER SOME GROUND.

All of my objections are overcome if one does not insist upon discussion being useful,i.e. showing promise of leading to a result. In that case, philosophical discussion becomes functionally equivalent to a dance. Two people engaging in an activity that does not actually go any place. Done only in the hopes of affecting the other person.

WELL, IF YOU ASKED SERIOUS DANCERS, THEY ARE NOT REALLY TRYING TO GET ANYWHERE, BUT RATHER ARE TRYING TO FATHOM WHERE THEY ARE RIGHT WHERE THEY MOVE, MOMENT TO MOMENT. BUT IN PRINCIPAL I COULDN 'T AGREE MORE BECAUSE THE PATH THESE THREADS ARE TAKING IS PAINFULLY CIRCULAR AND GOES NOWHERE AT ALL. ONE CAMP INSISTS THAT IF WE AREN'T MEASURING WE'RE SIMPLY AND ONLY WANKING, AND THE OTHER CAMP IS LACKING THE CONCRETE AND IRREVOCABLE TERMS AND CONCEPTS THAT MAKE SUBJECTIVE EXPERIENCE, WHICH WE ALL HAVE FIRST AND FOREMOST, A STRANGELY DISTANT AND EPHEMERAL CONCEPT.

THAT MUCH SAID, I BELIEVE IF WE STAY OBSESSED WITH A MECHANICAL TAKE ON HOW MIND IS "CREATED," WE WILL ESSENTIALLY BE STUDYING THE TOPO INSTEAD OF CLIMBING THE WALL. PAUL TILLICH ONCE SAID THAT THE LOGICIANS SHARPENED THE KNIFE, BUT NEVER BOTHERED CUTTING THE LOAF. TO ME, TRYING TO HANG IN THE PROCESS ITSELF, IMBEDDED IN RAW EXPERIENCE, BOUNCING WHAT WE FIND OFF EACH OTHER TO REALITY CHECK AND ARRIVING AT A COMMON LANGUAGE PER WHAT WE FIND ON THAT OVERHANGING FACE, AND GOING FROM THERE, A MOVE AT A TIME, SEEMS LIKE A FANTASTIC ADVENTURE SMACKING NOTHING OF PRIESTCRAFT OR WU WU OR "God."

All aboard . . .

JL
The Chief

climber
Climber from the Land Mongols under the Whites
Aug 30, 2011 - 12:19am PT
Purify your mind and all suffering within your life will no longer exist. Permanent liberation can be found only by purifying the mind as all suffering comes from within your mind and not from outside the mind. Therefore, if we want to be free of all our problems and attain lasting peace and happiness, we need to increase our knowledge and understanding of our mind.
G.H Gyatso
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Aug 30, 2011 - 12:39am PT
Largo writes regarding 4 observations:

1) ANYONE CONSCIOUS AND PROPERLY FORMED COULD NOT FAIL TO RECOGNIZE THAT THEY ARE ACTUALLY ALIVE AND AWARE OF BEING ALIVE;

2) THAT THEIR AWARENESS FIELD CAN STRETCH TO THE EDGES OF IMAGINATION AND NEVER STOP;

3) THAT THEY NATURALLY ARE AWARE OF TAXES AND LOVE AND BULLFROGS AND THOUGHTS (QUAL),

4) THAT THE FIRST PERSON SUBJECTIVE EXPERIENCE OF BEING CONSCIOUS IS NOT A STATIC THING BUT RATHER IT UNFOLDS AND ACCRUES AND EXTENDS THROUGH TIME AND SPACE (QUALIA).




is that a correct restatement of what you wrote?
The Chief

climber
Climber from the Land Mongols under the Whites
Aug 30, 2011 - 12:44am PT
They are the thoughts of Lord Buddha.
Yup! And he declares that directly after the words I posted. The the rest of the book comes to bear as it is about how to purify the mind completely to the point of enlightenment in this modern Western Material based world as the Buddha declared it possible to do so over 2600 years ago.

BTW, Buddha I don't believe would acknowledge himself as a "Lord".
StahlBro

Trad climber
San Diego, CA
Aug 30, 2011 - 12:45am PT
I know this sounds like corny yin/yang bullsh*t, but you can't have understanding without misunderstanding. Otherwise, how would you know the difference?

Being settled with the pursuit brings energy, joy and purpose. Some days are freaking hard, some days are beautiful, some days are neither. You have to be there every day to know which it will be.

There is no continual bliss. You have to be there every day to find out which it will be.
The Chief

climber
Climber from the Land Mongols under the Whites
Aug 30, 2011 - 12:49am PT
Some days are freaking hard, some days are beautiful, some days are neither.

What power governs which are beautiful and which are neither?

There is no continual bliss.

Says who and what power governs that statement?
rottingjohnny

Sport climber
mammoth lakes ca
Aug 30, 2011 - 12:52am PT
Mind is what my dog thinks is going on in your head.. My dog barks therefore he likes you...ARRFF!
StahlBro

Trad climber
San Diego, CA
Aug 30, 2011 - 12:54am PT
Chief,

Good question, but I don't know if it is a "who" or a "what". Not sure it matters. What matters is what you do with it.

Peace
PSP also PP

Trad climber
Berkeley
Aug 30, 2011 - 01:24am PT
are you a slave to your mind, or can you witness it?
Largo

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Topic Author's Reply - Aug 30, 2011 - 01:49am PT
Largo writes regarding 4 observations:

1) ANYONE CONSCIOUS AND PROPERLY FORMED COULD NOT FAIL TO RECOGNIZE THAT THEY ARE ACTUALLY ALIVE AND AWARE OF BEING ALIVE;

2) THAT THEIR AWARENESS FIELD CAN STRETCH TO THE EDGES OF IMAGINATION AND NEVER STOP;

3) THAT THEY NATURALLY ARE AWARE OF TAXES AND LOVE AND BULLFROGS AND THOUGHTS (QUAL),

4) THAT THE FIRST PERSON SUBJECTIVE EXPERIENCE OF BEING CONSCIOUS IS NOT A STATIC THING BUT RATHER IT UNFOLDS AND ACCRUES AND EXTENDS THROUGH TIME AND SPACE (QUALIA).



is that a correct restatement of what you wrote?
--


That would look like this, Ed:

1) IF I AM CONSCIOUS AND SOBEER THE MOST FUNDAMENTAL THING I TAKE FOR GRANTED IS THAT I AM ACTUALLY ALIVE AND AWARE OF BEING ALIVE;

2) THAT in terms of my experience, or what I sense and believe is self evident is that my aWARENESS FIELD STRETCHes TO THE EDGES OF my IMAGINATION AND NEVER STOPs. I don't get any experience that my awareness has an edge beyond which my mind cannot travel. I might no understand everythng but my awareness will not perforce exclude things (yes, the brains unconsciously selects shite) no matter how far out.

3) THAT I am naturally aware of content or things (QUAL) moving through my awareness, including thoughts about this thread (more qual).

4) THAT THE FIRST PERSON SUBJECTIVE EXPERIENCE OF BEING CONSCIOUS does not strike me as A STATIC THING, BUT RATHER, experientially, it seems to UNFOLD AND ACCRUE AND EXTEND THROUGH TIME AND SPACE (QUALIA).

Now that's what I sense in my subjective experience. I think the challenge for you, Ed, in this regard, is to forego for the moment trying to quantify or define how this all works and leave off with my experience and drop into your direct subjective experience and try and describe what you find there. Trying to do so in the most simple terms is a task, for the mind revolts dealing with raw experience straight up.

and fortmental, just note how your mind did just what I said it would - you defaulted out of experience and into a memorized explanation of how you believe mind works. That's not the exercise here - you probably do that all day long. Just for the moment, just once, try not to jump out into secondary or tertiary exposition and stay with your subjective experience and report back what you find. You are obviously honed in on this and I'm curious WHAT you see going on, NOT how or why it works. That's another discussion.

JL


allapah

climber
Aug 30, 2011 - 02:27am PT
electromagnetic energy body (generated by neural network) resonating in harmony to the "quantum foam" of the universe (expounded upon in physics)- are we not still missing important discoveries regarding this interface between energy body and quantum foam that will someday soon put the missing piece into the explanation of consciousness?
healyje

Trad climber
Portland, Oregon
Aug 30, 2011 - 03:08am PT
[ Note: the fourth button from the left above the ST text editor with the double quote symbol on it is the quote function; please try giving it a whirl when quoting others' posts... ]

For awhile today I sat and watched hummingbirds and honeybees in the backyard which is planted to encourage both.

We planted 'Fuchsia dependens' for the hummingbirds and it's quite clear they have to have an acute sense of both a flower's and their own location in three dimensional space and a precise sense of time in order to feed on the fushsias' narrow bell-shaped flowers. Ditto for the bees which have to not only navigate and select flowers by visual clues - they also have to communicate that knowledge to other bees for the hive to be successful.

Largo: 2) ...I don't get any experience that my awareness has an edge beyond which my mind cannot travel. I might no understand everythng but my awareness will not perforce exclude things (yes, the brains unconsciously selects shite) no matter how far out..

Both the birds and bees are clearly conscious and self-aware with respect to location and time and both the hummingbirds and bees share the ability to see in the UV range. This latter ability to experience 'color' in the UV range may be a "subjective experience" for each individual bee or bird, but the ability of numerous individuals of both species to feed on the same plants speaks heavily to a strong 'shared' (objective) experience of external 'references' in the process.

One way or another, that ability to self-locate within an external (objective) frame of reference requires recursive framing and therein lies the biological roots of [an emergent] consciousness without edges or boundaries.

Largo: 4) THAT THE FIRST PERSON SUBJECTIVE EXPERIENCE OF BEING CONSCIOUS does not strike me as A STATIC THING, BUT RATHER, experientially, it seems to UNFOLD AND ACCRUE AND EXTEND THROUGH TIME AND SPACE (QUALIA).

Well, for about tenth time I'd say that might be because it's not about a collection of nouns, but an explosion of verbs - i.e. the firing of a hierarchy of networks which are constantly self-/re-organizing moment to moment and always striving for an equilibrium which is only achieved in death. Did you read this abstract?

The neural substrates of conscious color perception demonstrated using fMRI

I'm quessing qualia associated with the perception of an orange butterfly don't exist as 'things' in your consciousness, but rather only as a electrochemical 'brain storm' which rises with the perception. That is qualia, as the concept you keep pushing, is an act [of processing] not a result of processing.


P.S. This phrase is extraordinary if not breathtaking in its irony...
Largo: ...IF I AM CONSCIOUS AND SOBER...
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Aug 30, 2011 - 03:25am PT
maybe you should expand on this:
Trying to do so in the most simple terms is a task, for the mind revolts dealing with raw experience straight up.

FredC

Boulder climber
Santa Cruz, CA
Aug 30, 2011 - 09:44am PT
It seems to me that awareness is pretty centralized "here". My imagination might extend pretty far depending on what I am reading right now but the sense of "I" seems to be tied up with this meat unit.

Even the meat unit concept is pretty slippery. Our cells don't even stay around for long. They have been replaced many times. We are more like a place in a river, pick your favorite spot on the Merced in the Valley. The spot seems the same year after year, the ripples and shapes of the water's surface change with water level but the place seems to have a continuous identity. The water itself however is changing every second. Just like us.

It seems like there is something constant in "I" though.

FC
The Chief

climber
Climber from the Land Mongols under the Whites
Aug 30, 2011 - 09:53am PT
Trying to do so in the most simple terms is a task, for the mind revolts dealing with raw experience straight up.

One has a 7 mile, 4500 foot gain trek in with a 50 lb pig/pack. After an hour and 1 mile/700 foot gain and the sight of the lurking the trail which lies above, the mind begins to revolt violently and clearly screams "Stop! We can't do this. Turn around and go back to the comforts of your soft lounge chair in your plush living room."

To the well trained & strong mind, that is a weak & soft mind that clearly needs some hard discipline to no longer revolt in such a fashion.
Norwegian

Trad climber
Placerville, California
Aug 30, 2011 - 10:01am PT
the mind is the attic of the physical being;
it is the basement of our consciousness.

our physical and spiritual foundation is
the pond(er) scum on the wonderpool.
climbski2

Mountain climber
Anchorage AK, Reno NV
Aug 30, 2011 - 10:29am PT
----------------

It seems like there is something constant in "I" though.

FC
----------------


Now that is an interesting observation. One I tend to share at first impression. While the world around me seems to change a lot.

Then as I think about it I realize that I too am not always the same. At least my actions are not. Some days for example i am stoked to jump on a route, Other days i may feel a bit lazy another day a bit unusually fearful. Each of these states affects my words thoughts observations and deeds.

Yet these observations are always contrasting a remembered "I" to the actual "I" experiencing the now.

-


The feeling of a constant "I" persists. Perhaps the it is the experiencing of NOW that never changes.

Is the I experiencing Now the constant we sense??
FredC

Boulder climber
Santa Cruz, CA
Aug 30, 2011 - 10:37am PT
I actually don't trust the apparent constancy of the I. It sure seems obvious and true but there is something fishy about it.

I think the whole thing about heaven, rebirth, etc. is our reaction to the incomprehensible notion that we vanish entirely when we die. That is a hard thought to swallow.
Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
And every fool knows, a dog needs a home, and...
Aug 30, 2011 - 10:40am PT
I think the whole thing about heaven, rebirth, etc. is our reaction to the incomprehensible notion that we vanish entirely when we die. That is a hard thought to swallow.

Once again we state the age old question. Most of the tap dancing in these threads is centered here - trying to suppose what lies beyond the veil darkly.

Most everyone has an opinion.

So you get what we have here.

DMT
FredC

Boulder climber
Santa Cruz, CA
Aug 30, 2011 - 10:45am PT
I guess as you lose friends and as you get older and you begin to lose your youthful physical prowess this question becomes more interesting.

I'm not sure we will answer it here but it seems worthwhile to do your own personal exploration. If you find that the answer is unreachable then at least you found that.

The Buddhists don't exactly say you can answer this but they do say you can "wake up" somehow and I think at that point the question drops away.

climbski2

Mountain climber
Anchorage AK, Reno NV
Aug 30, 2011 - 10:48am PT
There certainly seem to be limitations to the constancy in a way.

I go to sleep and at times upon waking recognize a significant change from the last moment I remember. I don't remember before age 3 for example. Yet that is memory based. None of these gaps seem to be experienced.

For example If we die and there is no afterlife or reincarnation or whatever, then i don't see how we could know it. We wouldn't seem to be able to experience "nothing". Based on memory gaps i appear to have been through "nothing" many times in my life, but it has no significant effect on the basic "I experiencing" later or before.

Thus it seems the persistence of the feeling of a constant "I".

This basic impression of constancy is interesting to consider. Not so much as to matters of life after or before this lifetime (bleh a whole nother set of issues i am beginning to find boring in my inability to get anywhere substantial with)

just in and of itself.

Thanks for bringing it up :)
Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
And every fool knows, a dog needs a home, and...
Aug 30, 2011 - 10:51am PT
My internal witness, the I in me, seems unchanged, to me.

DMT
climbski2

Mountain climber
Anchorage AK, Reno NV
Aug 30, 2011 - 11:13am PT
I guess another way of putting this is that the only experience I actually HAVE is of always being aware.

I can suppose and extrapolate "unawareness". In the same way I can deduce that El-Capitan persists and exists when I am not there.

However in either case I can not experience it so it does not "exist" for me at those times.

What is this impression of "constancy" in "I"?

An interesting observation.
The Chief

climber
Climber from the Land Mongols under the Whites
Aug 30, 2011 - 11:26am PT
I think the whole thing about heaven, rebirth, etc. is our reaction to the incomprehensible notion that we vanish entirely when we die. That is a hard thought to swallow.

For some here, it is a rather hard thought to swallow that the one's soul/spirit is infinite and on a journey that never ends.

One way or the other, not one here including myself can disprove either as real or fallacy.

I will stay with the long standing concept that I am on an infinite journey of enlightenment. As my mind becomes more disciplined as each day passes, I come to accept this even more.
Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
And every fool knows, a dog needs a home, and...
Aug 30, 2011 - 11:52am PT
I will stay with the long standing concept that I am on an infinite journey of enlightenment. As my mind becomes more disciplined as each passes, I come to accept this even more.

See now I can totally respect this approach. Its when folks start telling others ' 'this is the way it is' (because I said so, is really the sum total of the weight behind it) and 'this is how you will conduct yourself' that I take exception to.

Often we forget the implicit 'for me' or 'to me' ... the answer is blah blah blah.

Tell me your view and I will respect it. Assume your view applies to me and I will reject it.

DMT
The Chief

climber
Climber from the Land Mongols under the Whites
Aug 30, 2011 - 12:00pm PT
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

There ya go Dingus telling us what we should do.... HA!


BTW, I have always stood my ground on what I am inclined to follow and never have I insisted that others "must" follow. Rather, that I recommend they contemplate the concept as it has worked in my life and may just work for them, if they are open enough to try it before even terminating it or laughing it off as magic.

Many here have perceived my motives differently than what they truly were. That is all in their..... mind!
MH2

climber
Aug 30, 2011 - 01:12pm PT
Tell me your view and I will respect it. Assume your view applies to me and I will reject it.


My view is that if I lose contact with the rock I will fall. I assume my view applies to you as well but I would love to be shown wrong.
rrrADAM

Trad climber
LBMF
Aug 30, 2011 - 02:19pm PT
For some here, it is a rather hard thought to swallow that the one's soul/spirit is infinite and on a journey that never ends.

Chief... I asked you in another thread, but you failed to answer, so I'll ask again...

So, tell me, at what point does does the human get it's soul:



And, can you tell if the zygote below is human, fish, or worm...




Now... To use your words in another perspective to give food for thought:
For some here, it is a rather hard thought to swallow that life after death is the same as life before birth.

Or... More relevant to this thread:
For some here, it is a rather hard thought to swallow that mind/consciousness/awareness after death is the same as mind/consciousness/awareness before birth.


Think about it. =]




klk

Trad climber
cali
Aug 30, 2011 - 04:28pm PT
i dont care much for what most people seem to be doing with their dna, either.

heh
Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
And every fool knows, a dog needs a home, and...
Aug 30, 2011 - 04:35pm PT
Yes some dna is quite confusing.

DMT
jogill

climber
Colorado
Aug 30, 2011 - 05:07pm PT
One problem with arguments like these is self-referencing. The mind attempts to analyze the process with which it analyzes. Hence, word games that rarely clarify anything. In mathematics, if I recall my course in naïve set theory from fifty years ago, paradoxes arise because of self-referencing or similar processes. For example, the Russell Paradox (from Wikipedia):

"Let us call a set "abnormal" if it is a member of itself, and "normal" otherwise. For example, take the set of all squares. That set is not itself a square, and therefore is not a member of the set of all squares. So it is "normal". On the other hand, if we take the complementary set that contains all non-squares, that set is itself not a square and so should be one of its own members. It is "abnormal". . . Now we consider the set of all normal sets, R. Attempting to determine whether R is normal or abnormal is impossible: If R were a normal set, it would be contained in the set of normal sets (itself), and therefore be abnormal; and if it were abnormal, it would not be contained in the set of normal sets (itself), and therefore be normal. This leads to the conclusion that R is neither normal nor abnormal: Russell's paradox."

More appropriate perhaps is the Godel Incompleteness Theorem:

"A set of axioms is complete if, for any statement in the axioms' language, either that statement or its negation is provable from the axioms. A set of axioms is (simply) consistent if there is no statement such that both the statement and its negation are provable from the axioms. In the standard system of first-order logic, an inconsistent set of axioms will prove every statement in its language . . . For each consistent formal theory T having the required small amount of number theory, the corresponding Gödel sentence G asserts: “G cannot be proved within the theory T”. This interpretation of G leads to the following informal analysis. If G were provable under the axioms and rules of inference of T, then T would have a theorem, G, which effectively contradicts itself, and thus the theory T would be inconsistent. This means that if the theory T is consistent then G cannot be proved within it, and so the theory T is incomplete. Moreover, the claim G makes about its own unprovability is correct. In this sense G is not only unprovable but true, and provability-within-the-theory-T is not the same as truth."

The Axiom of Choice is easily stated and understood by non-mathematicians:

"Informally put, the axiom of choice says that given any collection of bins, each containing at least one object, it is possible to make a selection of exactly one object from each bin."

And yet, assuming this axiom makes the following oddity possible:

"The Banach–Tarski paradox states that a solid ball in 3-dimensional space can be split into a finite number of non-overlapping pieces, which can then be put back together in a different way to yield two identical copies of the original ball."

Admittedly, this is somewhat removed from the study of the mind, but it shows the extreme importance of language and axioms and where the two intersect. A study of the mind that actually goes anywhere beyond electrical and chemical impulses might require an alteration in the premises and the paradigm from which we argue . . . a task for which formal philosophy might be insufficient.

Has formal philosophy ever dramatically altered a person’s world view, other than providing merely intellectual alternatives? I suspect that Kant’s daily routines were much the same after he arrived at his ground-breaking ideas than before. On the other hand, the father of modern set theory, Georg Cantor, suffered severe depression in the later years of his life, no doubt partly because of the anxieties triggered by his unorthodox deliberations and commentary they provoked. But was this a fundamental change in his world-view?

"Cantor suffered from chronic depression for the rest of his life, for which he was excused from teaching on several occasions and repeatedly confined in various sanatoria."

Be careful what you wish for, JL !

Certain eastern religions putatively change one’s world view, but are these changes appropriate for a discussion of the mind?

Questions phrased within one paradigm possibly answerable in another.
Largo

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Topic Author's Reply - Aug 30, 2011 - 05:17pm PT
Strangely, your attempt to understand consciousness through "the experience" is like trying to understand gravity by repeatedly dropping a rock on your head.


I think this pretty well illustrates the fact that ever for educated amongst us, dropping out of evaluating mind into experience is a non-starter. Of course the above is not drawn from any real world experience but is just another fatuous evaluation from afar - of that we may be sure.

Oddly, for people like this, they have to get up on an unprotected slab or something in order to finally get out of their evaluating minds and get absorbed in a real, first person experience.

JL
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Aug 30, 2011 - 07:23pm PT
"Cantor suffered from chronic depression for the rest of his life, for which he was excused from teaching on several occasions and repeatedly confined in various sanatoria."

maybe sly like a fox! excused from teaching!!
LithiumMetalman

Trad climber
cesspool central
Aug 30, 2011 - 08:15pm PT
The mind is the greatest illusion ever created by man.
PP

Trad climber
SF,CA
Aug 30, 2011 - 08:46pm PT
I think this pretty well illustrates the fact that ever for educated amongst us, dropping out of evaluating mind into experience is a non-starter. Of course the above is not drawn from any real world experience but is just another fatuous evaluation from afar - of that we may be sure.

Zen Master Seung Sahn used to often say " more stupid is necessary"
FredC

Boulder climber
Santa Cruz, CA
Aug 30, 2011 - 09:22pm PT
I think that a logical understanding of mind might be ultimately unsatisfying, especially since we live pretty subjectively. At least I do. We seem to have some kind of raw experience and then afterward we apply some kind of quality rating to it. We all have climbs or boulder problems we really like and that change our state of mind.

I have heard it said that "understanding is the booby prize". They meant that changing the quality of your experience was the real game.

Discussing what we mean by I and me is pretty cool though because normally we take it all so for granted and it is not too hard to see the simple logical holes in our everyday assumptions.

Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Aug 30, 2011 - 10:28pm PT
actually I think Largo has a very literal approach to his exploration of consciousness, and his instance of a first person narrative of experience, rather than any attempt to quantify it... of course his objection to measurement is one that can be leveled at literature, too.

his exercise for me:
I think the challenge for you, Ed, in this regard, is to forego for the moment trying to quantify or define how this all works and leave off with my experience and drop into your direct subjective experience and try and describe what you find there. Trying to do so in the most simple terms is a task, for the mind revolts dealing with raw experience straight up.


I was thinking I could crib a bit from Proust or maybe Joyce... or quote from Gilgamesh, and work a bit of Homer in... spin it with the Upanishad and spice with a bit of the 道德經...


ok, you didn't like that so much you didn't even try to read it...WRONG! he says... bad boy, go back and try again... you failed...
Largo

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Topic Author's Reply - Aug 30, 2011 - 11:17pm PT
I should have mentioned that you can get nowhere in the subjective soup unless you detach and don't let the qualia pull you into jaberwocky. This requires to maintain an open focus as opposed to narrow focusing on every bit of quail that floats by. It is entirely necessary to have language and constructs and memory to wrangle quail and content and "meaning," which the mind is habituated to do, as a kind of addiction. Just notice how hard it is to keep that focus open in "no mind." This is the POV where you have some little wherewithal to se what the mind is doing, IMO. If your mind is locked onto an idea or whatever, you'll get nothing but more jive from the very level you are at, "tryiing to analyze the mind from within the mind." Not sure this leads to the kind of madness John Gill warned us about, but it's largely a waste of time IME.

JL
klk

Trad climber
cali
Aug 30, 2011 - 11:21pm PT
i think many folks in this thread wasted a great deal of youth focusing on quail
WBraun

climber
Aug 30, 2011 - 11:25pm PT
Look at almost everyone's post in this thread.

They all start out with "I think".

This means they have no clue and are using their mind accepting and rejecting with their senses.

You can't understand consciousness and mind if one falsely identifies with ones body.

The root cause of all misunderstanding is one "thinking they are the body" .....
klk

Trad climber
cali
Aug 30, 2011 - 11:29pm PT
werner, i think that many of the contributions to this thread have been tongue in cheek.

heh
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Aug 30, 2011 - 11:42pm PT
the direct subjective experience...

ok, I'm there,
now what?

I could give you a story from my past, but it probably violates your conditions:

Sitting and watching the illumination of the sun through the window moving across the room, the shadows cast by chessman on a chessboard making the gnomonic arc as the day progress, from morning to late afternoon, in one long mediation with no internal conversation, breathing feels animal like, but the animal is me, somehow, the flow of air through the nostrils, down the throat into the lungs in response to the powerful and supple contraction of the diaphragm.

The whole day passes like this, very very calm, serene, with a focus that has incredible depth of field. But no thoughts.
The Chief

climber
Climber from the Land Mongols under the Whites
Aug 31, 2011 - 12:32am PT
Chief... I asked you in another thread, but you failed to answer, so I'll ask again...

So, tell me, at what point does does the human get it's soul:

Long before any of those critters were ever conceived in design. Actually, longer than time itself. But I do not expect you to even understand let alone accept that answer.
WBraun

climber
Aug 31, 2011 - 12:49am PT
99.% of the time when someone says "I" with emphasis they point to their heart because that is the seat of the soul.

This why people have incredible "feelings" when someone sings from their heart.

When someone sings from their mind it's mechanical, robotic and people become disinterested very quickly ....

rrrADAM

Trad climber
LBMF
Aug 31, 2011 - 07:05am PT
Long before any of those critters were ever conceived in design. Actually, longer than time itself. But I do not expect you to even understand let alone accept that answer.

Chief... You are right, I do not understand your answer, at all.

Please enlighten me. If you yourself understand it [your answer/belief], and you believe it is reasonable, then you should have no problem "reasonably" explaining it in detail.

matlinb

Trad climber
Albuquerque
Aug 31, 2011 - 09:27am PT
Using the math (Hartouni) and language (Largo) areas of the the brain to process and describe their interaction with the world in only one way. It could be that Hartouni and Largo inability to share a common view of the world is nothing more than an expression of the strengths of certain areas of their brains. To quote a famous expression, “our strengths are our greatest weaknesses.”

There are other “right brain” areas which are used to process our interaction with the world. I recently read “My Stroke of Insight”, by Jill Bolte. Here is a TED talk she gave on the subject www.youtube.com/watch?v=UyyjU8fzEYU. In so much as these right brain areas are found across many species, they are ancient in our evolution and deserve every bit as much “respect” as the newer areas of the brain. Just because you fall short in describing your perceptions of the world in language or science does not mean that these perceptions are not common to all mankind, or even all higher order animals. Furthermore, Dr. Bolte argues that if more people cultivated their right brains the world would be a happier and more peaceful place.
The Chief

climber
Climber from the Land Mongols under the Whites
Aug 31, 2011 - 10:39am PT
Chief... You are right, I do not understand your answer, at all.

Please enlighten me. If you yourself understand it [your answer/belief], and you believe it is reasonable, then you should have no problem "reasonably" explaining it in detail.

That is not possible as it is an "inside job" sort of speaking. One must do their own research and then come to the place where they themselves accept the concept/s that exist and have done so since before time.

Enlightenment is an eternal infinite process of self. Each individual comes to their own place of "mind". That is the beauty of it all.

Understanding through ones meat brain has nothing to do with it at all.
Marlow

Sport climber
OSLO
Aug 31, 2011 - 12:15pm PT
Another literal approach:

"Lost ye way in the dark, said the old man. He stirred the fire, standing slender tusks of bone up out of the ashes.

The kid didn't answer.

The old man swung his head back and forth. The way of the transgressor is hard. God made the world, but he didnt make it to suit everybody, did he?

I don't believe he much had me in mind.

Aye, said the old man. But where does a man come by his notions. What world's he seen that he liked better?

I can think of better places and better ways.

Can ye make it be?

No.

No. It's a mystery. A man's at odds to know his mind cause his mind is aught he has to know it with. He can know his heart, but he dont want to. Rightly so. Best not to look in there. It aint the heart of a creature that is bound in the way that God has set for it. You can find meanness in the least of creatures, but when God made man the devil was at his elbow. A creature that can do anything. Make a machine. And a machine to make the machine. And evil that can run itself a thousand years, no need to tend it. You believe that?

I dont know.

Believe that."
Paul Martzen

Trad climber
Fresno
Aug 31, 2011 - 12:43pm PT
Werner states,
Look at almost everyone's post in this thread.

They all start out with "I think".

This means they have no clue and are using their mind accepting and rejecting with their senses.

You can't understand consciousness and mind if one falsely identifies with ones body.

The root cause of all misunderstanding is one "thinking they are the body" .....

I prefer to preface my opinions with, "I think... In my experience...I feel... In my opinion" because I only speak for myself. It is only my viewpoint and not the viewpoint of God or science or ultimate truth. Only my viewpoint which I hope reflects truthfully on some tiny part of the larger picture.

I object strongly to the idea that we are not our bodies. My life feels much more wholesome when I am using my body and not just my mind. I have been profoundly influenced by Bioenergetic Psychotherapy which uses body exercises and body techniques to work with our minds and emotions. So I am biased on this matter.

If consciousness and mind are separate from matter and held back or hidden by matter, then it makes sense to eliminate as much as possible the influence of our material bodies in order to better experience true consciousness. If we can eliminate the noisy influence of matter, then the signal of consciousness will be easier to detect. But that has not worked very well for me.

I think the material world around us is an incredibly complex and fascinating place. I think people often underestimate it and sell it short. We get fixed in certain patterns and viewpoints, so the world starts seeming bland and boring and fixed and dead, when it is just our personal viewpoints which are fixed and dead. If we think the material world is dead, but we are alive then it is only logical to think that there must be something else besides this dead world from which we get life and consciousness.

In dance, when I move with feeling and emotion and spirit, it feels nice. If I have a partner who can also move with compatable feeling and we resonate in our movements, then it really feels beautiful. Whether it looks beautiful is something I prefer to not think about. Some might say we are moving from certain chakras or from our hearts or from our spirits. I personally, don't find those ideas helpful. I am aware of inertia and acceleration and centers of gravity and how amazing it is to speed up and slow down in time to the music.

So, my body is important to me and I am happier when my mind and body feel at one, when I don't feel any separation. But if I sit here at the computer too long, not using my body in a healthy way, I start feeling pretty bad.
Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
And every fool knows, a dog needs a home, and...
Aug 31, 2011 - 12:49pm PT
Interesting post Paul. We climbers spend a lot of time and energy combining body and mind into fluid motion - only to have someone tell us 'you're doing it wrong!' Lol.

DMT
High Fructose Corn Spirit

Gym climber
-A community of hairless apes
Aug 31, 2011 - 12:49pm PT
Paul, worthy post.

I think the material world around us is an incredibly complex and fascinating place. I think people often underestimate it and sell it short. We get fixed in certain patterns and viewpoints, so the world starts seeming bland and boring and fixed and dead, when it is just our personal viewpoints which are fixed and dead. If we think the material world is dead, but we are alive then it is only logical to think that there must be something else besides this dead world from which we get life and consciousness.

Hear, hear.
survival

Big Wall climber
A Token of My Extreme
Aug 31, 2011 - 12:51pm PT
So, did you guys get anywhere yet?
Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
And every fool knows, a dog needs a home, and...
Aug 31, 2011 - 12:52pm PT
YES!!!1111 The problem is solved. No thanks to you Survival. Tsk tsk.

Anyway, the solution is in hand and we'll see you on the other side.

DMT
Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
And every fool knows, a dog needs a home, and...
Aug 31, 2011 - 01:07pm PT


Can I get a witness?

DMT
rrrADAM

Trad climber
LBMF
Aug 31, 2011 - 01:20pm PT
Chief... You are right, I do not understand your answer, at all.

Please enlighten me. If you yourself understand it [your answer/belief], and you believe it is reasonable, then you should have no problem "reasonably" explaining it in detail.

That is not possible as it is an "inside job" sort of speaking. One must do their own research and then come to the place where they themselves accept the concept/s that exist and have done so since before time.

Enlightenment is an eternal infinite process of self. Each individual comes to their own place of "mind". That is the beauty of it all.

Understanding through ones meat brain has nothing to do with it at all.

So, do I understand you correctly... You CANNOT reasonably articulate what it is you believe, and why?

If, so, that begs the question... How can you have any reasonable undestanding of whay you believe? And, more importantly, how can you claim to to be true with such certainty if you cannot even explain it?


See... I too am into edification, and that demands at least a moderate understanding of things in order for me to objectively weigh them.

Would you not agree with the statement:
One's certainty of something should be directly proportional to one's understanding of it AND the evidence that supports it?
WBraun

climber
Aug 31, 2011 - 01:35pm PT
This is a purport from the Bhagavad-gita:

The symptoms of the self-realized person are given herein.

The first symptom is that he is not illusioned by the false identification of the body with his true self.

He knows perfectly well that he is not this body, but is the fragmental part of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

He is therefore not joyful in achieving something, nor does he lament in losing anything which is related to his body.

This steadiness of mind is called sthira-buddhi, or self-intelligence.

He is therefore never bewildered by mistaking the gross body for the soul, nor does he accept the body as permanent and disregard the existence of the soul.

This knowledge elevates him to the station of knowing the complete science of the Absolute Truth, namely Brahman, Paramatma and Bhagavan.

He thus knows his constitutional position perfectly well, without falsely trying to become one with the Supreme in all respects.

This is called Brahman realization, or self-realization.

Temporary relief of the external body and the mind is not satisfactory.

For man, mind is the cause of bondage and mind is the cause of liberation.

Mind absorbed in sense objects is the cause of bondage, and mind detached from the sense objects is the cause of liberation.
healyje

Trad climber
Portland, Oregon
Aug 31, 2011 - 02:02pm PT
Werner, Kicking Mule Records summed all that up a bit shorter with:

It's easy to be easy when you're easy...
It's easy to be easy when you're easy...
Credit: healyje
Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
And every fool knows, a dog needs a home, and...
Aug 31, 2011 - 02:04pm PT
That must be old - they spelt 'yer' wrong!

DMT
Norwegian

Trad climber
Placerville, California
Aug 31, 2011 - 02:07pm PT
man is beast, evolved.
no more, and probably less.

the mind of a tree
could coach well every human zen wannabe.

to stand forever,
stout and beautiful;
playing well with all worldly forces.

that's my role model.

all this complex bullshit trying to summarize
our disgusting beauty impresses me less

than,

the wooden splinter in my palm.
High Fructose Corn Spirit

Gym climber
-A community of hairless apes
Aug 31, 2011 - 02:11pm PT
that's very good.
healyje

Trad climber
Portland, Oregon
Aug 31, 2011 - 02:21pm PT
I think the material world around us is an incredibly complex and fascinating place. I think people often underestimate it and sell it short.

I consider attitudes and beliefs which attempt to disassociate 'mind' from meat as chauvinist forms of human exceptionalism held by people who on one hand grossly underestimate meat (or don't trust it) and on the other cannot bear the reality that 'they' are wholly at the mercy of the quality of their meat.
healyje

Trad climber
Portland, Oregon
Aug 31, 2011 - 02:23pm PT
MIT: Localizing language in the brain
Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
And every fool knows, a dog needs a home, and...
Aug 31, 2011 - 02:26pm PT
on the other cannot bear the reality that 'they' are wholly at the mercy of the quality of their meat.

Its hard to be a filet mignon when all you got is chuck.

DMT
healyje

Trad climber
Portland, Oregon
Aug 31, 2011 - 02:29pm PT
The Chief: ...meat brain has nothing to do with it at all.

Why bother with meat at all? Is this ethereal and eternal life intrinsically exhibitionist by nature in that it needs the [material] world as a stage? Seems a pointless rubric at best and a bizarre form of eternal ritualistic torture at worst. Why bother? Why wouldn't all 'souls' just be 'perfect' from the get go? Who's trying to prove what to whom? Or maybe it's all just a cruel virtualization...

DMT: Its hard to be a filet mignon when all you got is chuck.

I think the idea (if you buy into it) is you start with flank and as you work through your sh#t and then become worthy of better grades and cuts.
Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
And every fool knows, a dog needs a home, and...
Aug 31, 2011 - 02:46pm PT
Well, it's all you'd ever want
It's the kind I like to filet and eat for dinner
But it's always in it's place
It's got style, it's got grace--it's a winner
It's a meat brain
Oh, whoa, whoa, it's a meat brain
Talkin' about that meat brain
And the meat brain is me


DMT
healyje

Trad climber
Portland, Oregon
Aug 31, 2011 - 02:54pm PT
An interesting blog with a good roll of allied blogs in the side bar:

neurophilosophy
FredC

Boulder climber
Santa Cruz, CA
Aug 31, 2011 - 03:56pm PT
Werner, I agree that we are all stuck in our "I's". That seems to be where we live (myself for sure. There might be value in trying to wrestle with this intellectually.

As someone mentioned somewhere up the thread, there are some mostly eastern based systems that suggest they might offer a way to climb past the intellect.

Before someone starts that ascent they need to have some kind of logical framework that supports roping up and putting on those different shoes.
Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
And every fool knows, a dog needs a home, and...
Aug 31, 2011 - 04:00pm PT
Forgive me for being blunt, but:

As someone mentioned somewhere up the thread, there are some mostly eastern based systems that suggest they might offer a way to climb past the intellect.

It seems to my unstudied eye... eastern religions address abject poverty and class hierarchies as 'toughen up buttercup, if you have a pure heart it will be better next time around the wheel.'

Westerners tend to want the fix NOW, in THIS lifetime. This quarter, preferably. We want a quick ROI on our godheads. And making a profit from the congregation is on route, too!

DMT
FredC

Boulder climber
Santa Cruz, CA
Aug 31, 2011 - 04:05pm PT
It is true that most of the countries in the east don't have the material system thing together. No doubt about it.

Happiness though is another thing. It would be cool to get a good measurement of "gross national happiness" as they are working on in Bhutan. I wonder how they average US person with all the high tech and good medical care would rate? I don't have the data.

Marlow

Sport climber
OSLO
Aug 31, 2011 - 04:09pm PT
A perspective on thinking traps and the masters of the soul and consciousness

"There was once a fox who was so utterly without cunning that he not only constantly fell into traps but could not even distinguish a trap from what was not a trap.… After this fox had spent his entire youth in other people’s traps … he decided to completely withdraw from the fox world, and began to build a den [Fuchsbau].… He built himself a trap as a den, sat down in it, pretended it was a normal den (not out of cunning, but because he had always taken the traps of others for their dens).… This trap was only big enough for him.… Nobody could fall into his trap, because he was sitting in it himself.… If one wanted to visit him in the den where he was at home, one had to go into his trap. Of course everybody could walk right out of it, except him.… The fox living in the trap said proudly: so many fall into my trap; I have become the best of all foxes. And there was even something true in that: nobody knows the trap business [das Fallenwesen] better than he who has been sitting in a trap all his life."

Some even become gurus.
Largo

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Topic Author's Reply - Aug 31, 2011 - 04:30pm PT
"people... cannot bear the reality that 'they' are wholly at the mercy of the quality of their meat."

Yes, now we're getting somewhere.


Actually, you're at the same place you started, and where you'll end up.

The obsession to investigate what will only confirm or bolster your extant beliefs is that no learning is not only possible. After all, materialism is as predictable as the rigid determinism its espouses. But is this so, incontrovertibably? Nope. Not even close.

You might want to investigate the idea of "contrary action" to get another POV on being "wholly at the mercy" of our meat impulses and imperatives. What's more, this all is once again the knee jerk retreat back into quantifying, which is not the drill. It's like watching a climber who only knows how to mantle, then when he flounders, hearing how mantling alone is the valid technique, and how all of us lybackers and face climbers can't bear the stress of the really grim mantleshelf. Caramba. Pull a jam or an arm bar here and again, dood. You're wearing us out . . .

Remember, most people with no mental training believe that only through narrow focusing and discursive thinking can insight be had. In fact when your mind relaxes (your focus opens up) in the bathroom or on a drive or just walking to the store, thinking about nothing, the most remarkable things often pop up. That's the whole point of staying with raw experience, with nothing. Its the opposite of going where you need language and so forth to know the terrain, and terra incognito to most folks.

Unfortunately I am getting no takers here so I'm not getting any consensus on the questions and terms John S. asked early on, which was my hope. I gave a brief run down of what I found - an awareness field, qual/stuff floating past, a flow or process of subjective experience, et al, but no one else has ponied up any first-person insights, just more looking at the brain and experience as a thing and rendering one more third person functional analysis, including the mistaken belief that anything else is priestcraft. Arrrrrrrrg.

It's almost as if people are afraid of getting intimate with their own minds. If you treated a friend like you treated your own mind - with these deadly, 3rd person objectifications and so forth, said friend would think you were insane, or an alien. And no, I'm not suggesting you approach your mind with a Hallmark card - but a ruler won't do neither. Not this time.

Just some thoughts . . .

JL
healyje

Trad climber
Portland, Oregon
Aug 31, 2011 - 04:50pm PT
Ok, let's try a little 'subjective experience' and 'empty the mind' experiment: do eight shots of the high test alcohol of your choice in ten minute intervals and then report back to us about about your 'experience', what just comes up, and the constancy of your consciousness.
Evel

Trad climber
Nedsterdam CO
Aug 31, 2011 - 04:50pm PT
I think there's a possible answer in some of Richard Feynman's writing. Looking for it now. May take a while though. This is a bit much for me.



May have found it: Feynman's Joy of Not Knowing/The Thinking Mind

Or not (knott)
Marlow

Sport climber
OSLO
Aug 31, 2011 - 04:53pm PT
Largo,

"just more looking at the brain and experience as a thing".

Whatever floats through your consciousness - what materialises and is seen by us, are things. Your words are things you know. There is no way around things when you argue. Even if you should insist on them being non-things.

And feelings are certainly material in nature. You can measure brain activity, hormones and so on.

Why is it important to you to cling to a fragile and low probability hypothesis about a non-thing consiousness and non-thing mind?
Largo

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Topic Author's Reply - Aug 31, 2011 - 05:08pm PT
Why is it important to you to cling to a fragile and low probability hypothesis about a non-thing consiousness and non-thing mind?


Your narrow focusing again, dood. That's not the drill here.

But to answer your question anyhow, the simple fact is, experience, as it unfolds inside your awareness, does not stop. You can pause and freeze frame various qual, and the evaluating mind can get hold of them as things - fo sho. The flow of experience itself is not a thing in the same qualitative way that a billiard ball or a starfish is a thing. And most of all, the awareness field itself, raw awareness - also experienced as 1st person "presence" - is most assuredly not a measurable thing in and of itself (no reverting to the mechanism you believe "creates" same - that's jumping out of the 1st person process).

JL
Jan

Mountain climber
Okinawa, Japan
Aug 31, 2011 - 05:33pm PT
It could be that Hartouni and Largo's inability to share a common view of the world is nothing more than an expression of the strengths of certain areas of their brains.

It seems to me that Ed is speaking about a highly refined use of the discursive conscious mind and Largo about a highly refined use of the awareness- only subconscious or unconscious mind.

They are also probably focussing on different historical periods of the evolved meat brain. Awareness is common to all animals and discursive thought only to recent humans. Discursive thought is highly useful in modern times. However, our most basic autonomic and emotional responses long preceded our use of language which Ed and others define as consciousness. A fully developed (enlightened) brain would be able to utilize both at will.

Of course most people do not really utilize even that portion of the brain they have chosen to specialize in. There are so many levels of consciousness that our mind/brains look like maps in an atlas. We see individual maps easily but flounder when trying to describe the book as a whole.

From the realm of consciousness, some of these include:

-Language (with sub maps for different languages and different experiences of consciousness depending on which language
-Mathematics as a form of language
 aesthetic consciousness which combines language with emotion as in poetry, literature, and music, as described by Patrick Oliver

From the higher realms of the subconscious:

-Intuitive consciousness
-social consciousness
-messages and Innovations through dreams
-art
-dance
-climbing

-From the lower realms of the unconscious

-Sex
-swimming
-massage


Spirituality is the result of positive intentionality which involves discipline and sacrifice. Anger becomes compassion, sex becomes tantra, ego becomes unselfishness, climbing becomes art form, by raising the unconscious to the conscious, understanding it, and imposing rules and limitations.

What is so far little known in the West are the techniques for transforming raw emotions to higher thought processes with intentionality

-regulating hormones (endocrine glands, dopamine, serotonin) with meditation, acupuncture, yoga, kum nye, martial arts

-raising or lowering heartbeat, breathing, and blood pressure with meditation, yoga, kum nye, martial arts)

Whether one sees this as the glorious potential of the evolved meat brain or raising one's consciousness to be in synch with a universal consciousness is a personal choice.










Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
And every fool knows, a dog needs a home, and...
Aug 31, 2011 - 05:36pm PT
Spirituality is the result of positive intentionality which involves discipline and sacrifice. Anger becomes compassion, sex becomes tantra, ego becomes unselfishness, climbing becomes art form, by raising the unconscious to the conscious, understanding it, and imposing rules and limitations.

Nice post jan. I really appreciate the perspective. No magic and no hokum pokem either. Very good food for thought.

DMT
Marlow

Sport climber
OSLO
Aug 31, 2011 - 05:37pm PT
Largo.

You like to use the word narrow when you address my perspective, where I would use the word clear. There is a great scientific depth to the perspective if you want to get deeper.

Then if my perspective is narrow, I guess you would think your own perspective is broad and I will add that your perspective is also speculatively mentalistic and scientifically superficial.
survival

Big Wall climber
A Token of My Extreme
Aug 31, 2011 - 05:42pm PT
You spend too much time thinking about what your mind is thinking about and you're missing some of the pure experience too...
healyje

Trad climber
Portland, Oregon
Aug 31, 2011 - 05:50pm PT
The flow of experience itself is not a thing in the same qualitative way that a billiard ball or a starfish is a thing

You're right, it's a electro-chemical cascade which is highly dependent on the quality of your meat. Drugs or alcohol have almost immediate corrupting effects on that flow of experience - how could that possibly be? I know you don't want to talk about it, but those, and other meat impairments, highlight how dependent consciousness is on the health of the meat.
Largo

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Topic Author's Reply - Aug 31, 2011 - 05:50pm PT
Marlo, I'm not talking about "narrow" in terms of being shallow, I'm talking about narrow in terms of the shutter on a camera. If you are focused on an idea, your focus is narrowed and tight. There is no value judgment on narrow or tight.

You mention "clear" mind and all I'm saying is that investigating mind 1st person required a special approach, worked on for centuries. You open up the focus, pretty much the opposite of narrow focusing on a thought or feeling or whatever. The drill is not to narrow focus on stuff/qual, but mind itself, which means gently breathing into it without bathos or baggage or language. Never easy IME.

But I'd be interested to see what folks find per John S's terms (awareness, content, etc.) as opposed to drinking jokes, rants on meat brain etc.
JL
Norwegian

Trad climber
Placerville, California
Aug 31, 2011 - 05:53pm PT
sir real, man. that ya'll spend thought circles like this.

here's somore:

what is dream?
what is?
what is god?
what is nothing?

what is why is how is because?

what if?

everything fits in between the silences.
you should be loud, so not to interrupt john's thinkings.
Marlow

Sport climber
OSLO
Aug 31, 2011 - 05:54pm PT
I get my best ideas when I wake up from dreaming two or three hours after midnight or in the middle of the day when I am focused and absorbed into what I am doing. Then I have to write it down not to loose it. That is just part of my nature, my secondary nature included. There is no hocus pocus, no need to search for a non biological and non psychological explanation.

And openness of mind, mindfulness and mind-empty-ness I experience more often during holidays than when I am at work. But why the need to see it as something that is non-thing.
WBraun

climber
Aug 31, 2011 - 05:56pm PT
Marlow has no clue what largo is talking about.

Absolutely none.

Marlow just keeps talking about himself .......
pa

climber
Aug 31, 2011 - 06:01pm PT
Thank you Jan...nicely put.
Marlow

Sport climber
OSLO
Aug 31, 2011 - 06:05pm PT
WBraun

Thanks. I appreciate that you are emptying your mind into the commons, speaking as the oracle you are.
Largo

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Topic Author's Reply - Aug 31, 2011 - 06:31pm PT
Marlow, you actually have people, quite possibly friends, trying to walk you to other places and you insist on staying put.

How, for instance, is the direct, 1st person experience of being you for the next five minutes, a "thing" in the same sense that a cell phone is a thing?

Verily, dude, insisting that you know, as a transparent fact, terrain you equate to down-time during Thanksgiving, ain't getting you nowhere.

Try this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ICJUFOJa2g

Make no effort to process the tune as you hear it, go neither toward nor yet away from said tuneage, and make no effort in any way.

What are the basic elements, from a 1st person perspective, that you find in play as you listen, if beforehand you let go of all that you think that you know? Try and answer John S's questions about terms for the components of the process.

JL
jstan

climber
Aug 31, 2011 - 06:40pm PT
In one of his Youtube videos Feynman says he has limitations. He thought himself not terribly bright. He said he just loves “to find out” and that this was his “soul”. When warm blooded mammals first evolved they were saddled with a huge requirement for energy. Mammals have an urgent need “to find out” where they can get food. Possibly Feynman’s need “to find out” dates from that momentous time. If it did, all the mammals we encounter share this property with us.

Largo suffers from the same defect. He wants to find out whether his feeling that there is some dimension to the world beyond the material – is correct. Though I have never had that feeling, looking around myself I can see that Largo is not the only person with such a feeling. If I follow my earlier description of consciousness as an environment in which we are guided by imperatives, I would suggest that this is one of John’s secondary imperatives.

We are talking about a feeling issuing from the brain, though the brain could itself be hormone driven from some other initial source. The first step in an inquiry, presumably, would be to ask why do we have this feeling? Since he has taken the conscious action of writing here on the subject we know the feeling has reached at least that level of neurological processing. We have to ask, “How do things reach the conscious level? And what constitutes the conscious level? How do the conscious and other levels interact?

Spurred by HFCS’ link I have looked more widely for discussions of the conscious and how it interacts with other levels of processing. It turns out this is a very active area of research and participants are today carefully working through defintions of words like, blindsight, feedforward and recurrent processing, attention, preattentive response, among others.

Rock climbers depend upon on such processing to stay alive.

On occasion while walking along, we all have had incidents where for no conscious reason we duck. We image a rock headed for us. We don’t carefully examine the scene showing the rock’s progress, nor do we carry on an extended process to decide upon our best response. Reflexively, we duck.

Evolution has given us several parallel work-arounds to deal with a primary neurological limitation, the time for a synaptic response.

The firing of a synaptic neurological response requires about one twentieth of a second for the appropriate ions to be gathered at a cell membrane. If our brains required us to go through a series of 100 synapses passing through higher and higher levels of the brain’s functional hierarchy, none of us would be alive. What are some of these work-arounds and how do we know they are there?


Blindsight and recurrent processing

Lamme and Roelfsema describe subjects who have suffered lesions to the V1 areas and who therefore lack the ability to render conscious images. They are blind, but if a flag of some color is shown them they can tell you its color. Processing required to produce the images we see is done high in the neurological chain and they require use of substantial data. Evolution has provided us a parallel route, not requiring this processing, to get visually derived data to a decision making area very rapidly. But wait. There is more.

We climbers do what is called recurrent processing. After climbing for a few years we have been through a wide variety of situations and have both consciously and subconsciously worked out the decisions needed to respond. So when a reflexive response is needed we need no time to make a decision. When the leader pulls off a block and yells “rock” the noobie has to say “well what the f am I supposed to do about it?” The experienced second knows immediately to unclip the anchor and to swing out over the abyss on the belay rope. This strategy has the salutory effect of educating the leader as regards the advisability of pulling blocks off.

Time as a constraint is also dealt with as regards just the transmission of neurological impulses. If we think of the transmitting nerves as data pipelines those dedicated to carrying huge amounts of data might well be much slower than a parallel pipeline intended to transmit small amounts. For a rapid response one of these fast pipelines is stimulated to send a signal to an area that recurrent processing has already prepared even to the extent of having a stored image of the danger. This is called “feedforward.” These images can be quite complete. In some cases a police officer images a coke can or any other object in someone’s hand as being a weapon.

The needed response is fedforward and gets there before the more complete dataset. Now get this. When the complete dataset gets there a half second later you are left saying to yourself, “Crickeys! I swear I have been here before!”

Déjà vu.

There is no problem explaining why it is only a portion of us have Largo’s feeling. As you might guess from the above, investigators find that each person’s neurological wiring is configured based upon that individual’s genetics and prior experience. Individually, individually mind you, each of us is very robustly built to survive in the life to which we are used . When we change our life, like taking up trad climbing, we need to do so in measured fashion.

Below some links that, to this observer, seem useful to those interested in the conscious and subconscious dichotomy.


http://www.jeroenvanboxtel.com/pubs/Tsuchiya2010-CommentCognNeurosc.pdf

Is recurrent processing necessary and/or sufficient for consciousness?

http://www.jeroenvanboxtel.com/pubs/vanBoxtel2010-pnas.pdf

Opposing effects of attention and consciousness on after images

http://www.unicog.org/publications/SergentDehaene_PsychScience04.pdf

Evidence for an All-or-None Bifurcation During the Attentional Blink

http://www.ini.uzh.ch/~peterk/Lectures/AttentionSeminar/Lamme.Tins.00.pdf

The distinct modes of vision offered by feedforward and recurrent processing


healyje

Trad climber
Portland, Oregon
Aug 31, 2011 - 07:15pm PT
jstan, at this point Largo has made it pretty clear he isn't interested in what goes on in the meat despite the fact he couldn't continue taking part in this discussion if he suffered any number of brain insults tomorrow. He's pretty focused on [a albeit sober] consciousness exploring itself (though then wonders why he finds no boundaries...).
jstan

climber
Aug 31, 2011 - 07:42pm PT
Joe:
I too am able to imagine all of cosmic history in a 10 second long span of time. If I can decrease that to one second I think I can nail down a slot in the Guinness Book of World Records.
Wish me luck!

There really is no boundary to imagination. Anything can be imagined, so the statement that one is at the edge of their imagination is not readily understood.

That stuff on consciousness is fascinating. The research papers are little dense for a novitiate like myself but after a bit of work it comes together. The papers are written with careful attention to the words used so sense can be made from them.
jogill

climber
Colorado
Aug 31, 2011 - 10:40pm PT
Jake contemplates Christmas
Jake contemplates Christmas
Credit: jogill

I have a dog named Jake
a clever little guy
He contemplates the mysteries
from earth to distant sky.

When asked about the mind
and body, how they link
He said, "I think, therefore I arf "
...and sealed it with a wink.

Scientist and philosopher
may draw the battle line,
but in my eyes, my little dog
reveals the truth just fine!
jstan

climber
Sep 1, 2011 - 01:13am PT
Incredible.
healyje

Trad climber
Portland, Oregon
Sep 1, 2011 - 02:24am PT
Where's the beef...?

Princeton: Matching Images of Brain Activity with Complex Thought (i.e. third party detection of 'qualia' by querying meat)
Norwegian

Trad climber
Placerville, California
Sep 1, 2011 - 09:08am PT
what the mind was yesterday,
it is not today.

you're pursuing a dynamic dream with
a static stare.


you are failing to see the rainbow because
you seek only grey matter.
survival

Big Wall climber
A Token of My Extreme
Sep 1, 2011 - 09:20am PT
Some folks spend too much time thinkin' about their thoughts and not enough time living......
healyje

Trad climber
Portland, Oregon
Sep 1, 2011 - 02:46pm PT
you are failing to see the rainbow because you seek only grey matter.

Maybe it's just that you are failing to see the rainbow in the grey matter.
Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
And every fool knows, a dog needs a home, and...
Sep 1, 2011 - 02:55pm PT
I think (haha) that any theory of what constitutes the mind, be it scientifically or philosophically or spiritually oriented, that does not address the origins and evolution of the brain itself?

The stuff of religion. That's fine if that's your cup of tea, I'll pass on that.

If there is a universal consciousness then the brain must have some circuitry and receptors and transmitters with which to connect to this ethereal cloud. Where are they? Is it magic?

DMT
healyje

Trad climber
Portland, Oregon
Sep 1, 2011 - 02:59pm PT
Exactly. In tech parlance, what are the discovery and loading protocols? How does a 'universal' consciousness mutate / differentiate into an individual consciousness? And if consciousness is 'universal' (and survives the meat), why the local [memory] storage? Why is consciousness so utterly dependent on the health of the meat?
jstan

climber
Sep 1, 2011 - 03:03pm PT
"Universal" is a dangerous term to use when describing anything involving the brain. Everyone learns daily, and early in life especially, this means customization of each person's brain. A study of what parts of that functional unit are changed only slightly over time would, however, seem a very interesting field. I expect there is copious literature out there on precisely this.

In a discussion when informed our problems arise from some sort of personal inadequacy, one has to ask whether further effort is likely to have good result. A question none of us wants to ask.
PP

Trad climber
SF,CA
Sep 1, 2011 - 04:13pm PT
Most of my thinking is about how i think things are affecting "me" . probably a necessary survival mechanism. example I'm hot or I am cold or this is the perfect temperature etc. or sizing people up whether I feel comfortable around them or not. I also find that the mind keeps going even when i am not in that situation any more , the thinking keeps moving on , the mind just keeps going places even though I may be in the same place the whole time, like trying to go to sleep.

The thinking mind makes an opinion about things and it is rarely 100% correct and is often 100% wrong.

I have been doing Zen style meditation for many years and occasionally drop into a mind that is mostly just observing and not making up stories about the observation or feelings. It's a facinating mind state just to observe with very little thinking. Things area just as they are, not good or bad not hot or cold just the sensations of hot or cold . hot and cold before thinking.

In Zen and I am sure many other traditions they talk about "before thinking mind" ( Suzuki Roshi called it beginners mind) some people call it Don't Know mind. This can be misinterpreted that the goal is to try not to think but it is really about not being hindered by your thinking. Not being attached to your thinking.
PP

Trad climber
SF,CA
Sep 1, 2011 - 04:32pm PT
NWO if you really want to explore your mind go check out several teachers/groups and then do alot of actual practice. In the long run books won't help much. retreats can really help to you get started. The teachers job is to point you in the right direction you have to do all the work. Avoid people that are seeking special powers or higher states of conciousness that is typically just spiritual materialism .
healyje

Trad climber
Portland, Oregon
Sep 1, 2011 - 04:47pm PT
"What is a taste, really? It's the firing of a set of neurons in the brain, and that's what we want to understand."

New Map Shows Where Tastes Are Coded in the Brain
healyje

Trad climber
Portland, Oregon
Sep 1, 2011 - 07:32pm PT
So it is not a step back, or a question of superstition, or anti-science as some perceive JL's question to be but instead a step forward. A step that requires, at least if you want an intellectual understanding of what is going on, a fairly advanced understanding of much of the science we understand so that the imagination can make the intuitive jump to what is really going on around us.

Can't say I agree as I believe the leap JL is advocating actually leaps out of what is really going on and into an abstraction of his own [boundless] imagining. In fact his bias, which almost entirely excludes and dismisses meat from the exploration, is in itself as telling as his conjecture.
nutjob

Gym climber
Berkeley, CA
Sep 1, 2011 - 07:35pm PT
Alright, I'll stir the pot on the philosophy sub-thread.

From what little philosophy I've read, I get the impression that philosophers are insecure and try to justify their existence in general and being philosophers in particular. I form that impression after trying to read long-winded and obfuscated discussions and dissections of issues which can be stated more plainly and directly. I see a parallel to 13th century monasteries using libraries as prisons for knowledge rather than dissemination of knowledge. (I know this not from direct experience but from a casual reading of The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco. So if he's full of sh!t then the parallel I've drawn is utterly baseless.)

In our modern world, I see philosophers as trying to use a style of communication that excludes common people to maintain some claim to power over knowledge and use this currency to purchase appreciation or a sense of worth.

It could also be that I'm just lazy and ignorant, and there's a deeper current that I'm not tapping into. Or maybe the answer is somewhere in the middle.

I guess I'm also excluding the possibility of simply enjoying the process of exploring the borders of our mind, however we end up defining it. I'll shut up now, and get in the car if Tami tells me to, so carry on!
nutjob

Gym climber
Berkeley, CA
Sep 1, 2011 - 07:55pm PT
If there is a universal consciousness then the brain must have some circuitry and receptors and transmitters with which to connect to this ethereal cloud. Where are they? Is it magic?

That question is formulated by an engineer.


What if "universal consciousness" is not a specific entity to which one can connect, but an emergent property of a system of automatons (civilization/internet/humans/cells/atoms/quarks/....)? It's possible our interaction with the "universal consciousness" is a simple act of following our scripted life and interacting with our neighbor automata.

Consider The Game of Life (Cellular Automatons):


This "game" is just a grid of values where the presence/absence of life (a "yes" or "no" state at a given grid spot) at the current time interval is a function of which neighbor grid spots had life in the previous time interval. It is a simple model for stuff like bacteria spreading among petri dishes arranged in a grid. It spreads to it's neighbor cells at each generation, unless there are too many neighbors that eat all the food then it dies.

Well, with this model you have simple rules and means of construction, and you can get cool complex results (such as in the picture, with "gliding guns"). Taken on a grander scale, I think this model can explain a lot of crazy and inexplicable stuff that creationists like to attribute to God, that others explore with science, that philosophers ponder to define "mind," etc.

But it's always a recursive argument, "who made the rules that the simple elements interact to form emergent properties?"

Hmmm.. I guess there is God after all. Somebody had to compile the kernel and set the first root password. I pray sometimes just in case.
healyje

Trad climber
Portland, Oregon
Sep 1, 2011 - 08:03pm PT
Really though you can argue, no matter what, that abstractions of the imagination is the only place any of this can start.

And in an fMRI you'd see your meat brain lighting up while you contemplate those abstractions.

I always loved the notion in Aldous Huxley's "The Door of Perception" where he gets the idea that the meat brain is not so much a door way to reality but a filter of all reality.

I think it very much is a filter which is why we are discussing this topic on this forum instead of some other topic on some other forum.
PP

Trad climber
SF,CA
Sep 1, 2011 - 08:19pm PT
riley I like the brain as a filter and the mind constructing things that need to be deconstructed to see that. There are several stories about the great sutra masters(Book learned) encountering the old lady inn keeper who asks them a question that is beyond understanding (not dependent on understanding but on realization) and get the ir minds blown and thier ego's crushed.

I'm at work on a desdline so I have to go love the thread.
jogill

climber
Colorado
Sep 1, 2011 - 08:32pm PT
Consider The Game of Life (Cellular Automatons)

Back in 2002 Stephen Wolfram produced an enormous tome of 1,200 pages (of small print) in which he argued that virtually everything under the sun could be construed to be a result of the actions of cellular automata (CA). I couldn't get through more than a third of the book, and I wager that no one has ever carefully read the whole thing (correct me if I'm wrong!) It was fashionable for awhile to mention at cocktail parties that you had started the book. I think that era has passed.

Some proponents of fractals have made similar statements, that fractals explain almost everything. But it is doubtful nature's rules of iteration are necessarily eternal and changeless.

However, CA are fun to play with on a computer. I wrote several programs in VB that displayed curious runs and patterns. Enjoyable pastime. But I think I'd put my money elsewhere were I on a journey of exploration of conciousness.

Hey ... maybe not! No one knows.
survival

Big Wall climber
A Token of My Extreme
Sep 1, 2011 - 09:29pm PT
Mind is where the heart is.....on the bus. With leather?
StahlBro

Trad climber
San Diego, CA
Sep 1, 2011 - 11:52pm PT
I have done zazen off and on for many years (not as much as I would like) I went to seshin a couple of times. During the long sitting periods I would see all sorts of crazy things, but the roshi would just say "let it go". These things are just side affects of the journey. They don't matter.

In school our comparative religions professor brought in a Zen roshi to lecture to the class, which included undergrad and grad students. He patiently recited the regular "words" associated with zen practice until a grad student decided it was time to ask a question. The question was clearly a cleverly worded, intellectual exercise designed to show how knowledgeable he was.

The roshi's demeanor changed instantly. He focused his gaze intently on the student and said something to the affect of "how can you be sure of that" (paraphrasing). It was delivered with such force that literally the whole room stopped.

The grad student was totally flabbergasted. He actually had to leave the room because he was too disoriented. The roshi instantly returned to his lecture and was serene again.

After the class, the grad student returned to ask the roshi what had happened. He just smiled and said "for a moment you were awake"

Largo

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Topic Author's Reply - Sep 2, 2011 - 01:58am PT

So it is not a step back, or a question of superstition, or anti-science as some perceive JL's question to be but instead a step forward. A step that requires, at least if you want an intellectual understanding of what is going on, a fairly advanced understanding of much of the science we understand so that the imagination can make the intuitive jump to what is really going on around us.

Can't say I agree as I believe the leap JL is advocating actually leaps out of what is really going on and into an abstraction of his own [boundless] imagining. In fact his bias, which almost entirely excludes and dismisses meat from the exploration, is in itself as telling as his conjecture.



You know, I can say in plain language that the drill is not to let your awareness get fused with qual (imaginings), to drop below beliefs and language and to let go of discursive mentalizing and still people will honestly believe that I am dealing with an “abstraction,” while discussions about meat brains are the more 1st person and straight up experiential avenues.

And my bias “against” meat brain . . .

I originally got intrigued with “mind” when I started going to Zen retreats at the Mt. Baldy Zen center right above my home in Upland. They had an old Zen master from Japan up the cracking the whip (it was a Renzai outfit with elements of martial art elements) and the experiences there were wild, austere and life altering.

Later, during my freshman year at college, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to follow dear old dad into medicine but I took a shine to one of his neurologist friends who had an EEG machine at his house and we spent ages hooked up to it trying neurofedback drills. Later, a prof. in a bio class had one of the first commercial EEG machines and I worked on that one endlessly.

That began a two decade study with brain wave and neurofedback, and I remained close to the work of Steadman and Les Fehmi at the brain institute at UCLA. They were doing all sorts of interesting stuff with deep states and working with coherence and low frequency work on the occipitals and ADD work on the prefrontal cortex and plenty of other protocols that totally took off once the faster processors became available and digital EEG and qEEG units, as good as he ones used at the lab in Johns Hopkins, became available for a few grand. I went through four or five of them over the years.

An interesting thing is that they developed protocols to totally replicate through entrainment the brain states of yogis and Zen masters or folks who had meditated for fifty years – but curiously, the experiences of those doing the training was not the same as the “minds” of those they were trying to ape – possibly because we all were trying to achieve states or insights (really cool qual) when the guru types were busy offloading all attachments to states and achieving anything.

In short, it became quite obvious to us with years of training with the qeegs and pet scans and so forth that brain states were not delivering the goods as expected, or in the way we had hoped for. Granted there is huge divergence brain to brain, but there were certain biological markers like 40hz spurts, lots of Delta, high coherence across the Alpha and low beta spectrum and little spiking across the array. But you could entrain the brain to replicate this stuff and – not much change.

Then Fehmi – a long time meditation student - found out about Open Focus and realized that conscious open focus exercises were more effective than the machines, and I started down that path as well as the Za Zen meditation which I had always done.

Anyhow, all told I must have fiddled with meat brain neuro and biofeedback devices or most every kind for close to 30 years, so when I hear reports about my bias “excluding” meat brain I chuckle.

JL
healyje

Trad climber
Portland, Oregon
Sep 2, 2011 - 04:42am PT
Largo, maybe it's the attempting to 'achieve' by whatever means that is part of the issue ('bias') I mentioned. But from my perspective you still miss the forest for the trees - or possibly it's the reverse - as in going on about how great the forest is, and entirely ignoring / dismissing the contribution of the trees.

My background is a bit different having grown up with a profoundly depressed mother who was in and out of hospitals for most of her adult life. I similarly explored many aspects of the consciousness, emotions, and brains chemistry as well as working in a crisis center, exploring meditation and spending time in isolation tanks. Ditto on zen, flow, and spending literally years on my tightrope over thirty five years for hours at a time in trance states.

I think we've traveled some similar paths and experienced similar states - the difference is clearly in what we've 'learned' or taken away from those experiences.

For instance, my experiences with my mother over decades taught me that it's essentially a miracle beyond miracles that we all operate within a conscious / neurochemical ballpark of each other such that we can interact, communicate, and cooperate. Especially so given a slight tweak in the chemistry of our synaptic gaps can alternately turn us into a raving lunatics or a near comatose depressives. In fact, I could easily script any of you such that three weeks later you'd be entirely incapable of meditation.

From my time in isolation tanks, meditating, and in trance states on my tightrope I've spent long tracts with a relatively empty mind. But I have to say my conclusions from all of the above have left me with very different insights and conclusions about mind and brain than you. My perspective - and I don't doubt your experiences - is that you extrapolate way, way out there in your conclusions such that they are indistinguishable from religion (which you otherwise seem to have little use for).

So it looks to me like in your journey to 'achieve' (now not 'achieve') you appear to have thrown the proverbial baby out with the bath water and hitched your lot to an idealistic philosophy along the lines of transcendental, subjective, absolute, or pluralistic varietals. Cool, but from where I sit I just happen to see a very large gulf in any attempt to make the leap from an empty / open mind to the tenets of an idealistic philosophy.

[ EDIT: It's also possible I've just been confusing your personal interpretation of an idealistic philosophy for religion. ]
healyje

Trad climber
Portland, Oregon
Sep 2, 2011 - 04:58am PT
Riley, where we part company is here:

What the crux is, is that it is an imperfect organ giving your consciousness very limited information.

I have entirely the opposite opinion, that it is a perfect organ giving your consciousness more information than it can possibly deal with at any given moment (hence the various filtering functions and possibly the raison d'être for Open Focus).

As for "what we don't understand about the reality around us", I think that's the crux of the matter to be honest. I can now see with fresher eyes that both religion and philosophy seem to share a desperate impatience to fill that void at all cost and do it now. On the other hand, science is all to willing to simply chip away at that void and leave the unknown as just that until we have the means to learn more.

Are there questions beyond the scope of science? Sure, but I fail to see the point in establishing absolute beliefs (ala The Chief and Werner) around any of the conjecture associated with those questions.
Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
And every fool knows, a dog needs a home, and...
Sep 2, 2011 - 08:47am PT
That question is formulated by an engineer.

Thank you.


What if "universal consciousness" is not a specific entity to which one can connect, but an emergent property of a system of automatons (civilization/internet/humans/cells/atoms/quarks/....)?

Then one should be able to demonstrate that property... what's the formula? How does one desceibe it without funky zen language that often sounds like slack line coaching?

DMT
Jan

Mountain climber
Okinawa, Japan
Sep 2, 2011 - 09:40am PT
Universal consciousness" as an emergent property of a system of automatons (civilization/internet/humans/cells/atoms/quarks) sounds very much like Carl Jung's collective unconscious to me.

And since we have the amino acids for DNA floating around on meteors, who's to say that it doesn't exist in other parts of the universe besides planet earth?

rrrADAM

Trad climber
LBMF
Sep 2, 2011 - 10:13am PT
And my bias “against” meat brain . . .

So, if it does not reside in the "meat brain", then why is it that trauma to that organ, or even chemical substances that effect its function, can greatly effect everything we are discussing?

This, to me, would serve as a "test" (evidence) that it is the source of all we are discussing.

No9w, if we were to remove the brain from the equation, where would all of this take place?

Do you believe that physically removing the brain would just result in the physical death of the person, and not also remove all that we consider "mind"?
Largo

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Topic Author's Reply - Sep 2, 2011 - 01:01pm PT
My perspective - and I don't doubt your experiences - is that you extrapolate way, way out there in your conclusions such that they are indistinguishable from religion (which you otherwise seem to have little use for).


Ker-ist! What in the world are you talking about, dood? What "extrapolation" way out there? Where? I said it several posts ago: I've offered up no beliefs, said to stay with immediate experience and to drop below language and here you are going off about how far "out" I am. It truly boggls the mind.

In fact, I have repeatedly asked you and others to stop grining out stuff you already know, including all those years doing zen and highlining et al, to drop into you true and concrete life right now, look around at what is happening, and describe in the simplest terms possible what you see and how the process of experiencing seems to unfold - all from the 1st person. Either people are totally scared or are so sketchy when no measuring or going the other direction, into maudlin run on jabberwpcky and priestcraft, that so far I've had no serious takers. That, alone, is remarkable, since this is an exercise that would take less than half the time for many of these posts. And note how people get bored or put off if a post isn't full or more facts and figures - as if there is nothing else. That too amazes me.

As mentioned, getting intimate with your own experience is a simple request, but while we have problems with intimacy with others, this pales to the problem we have with getting close ourselves. Defaulting out into discursive thinking has become such a well worn groove that merely asking people to step outside for a moment is again a non-starter, with excuses from "already done that" to (fill in the blank).

Study vids of Fyman later. Deal with yourself for a moment and chime in with something we haven't heard already for the 100th time.

JL
jstan

climber
Sep 2, 2011 - 01:56pm PT
Study vids of Fyman later. Deal with yourself for a moment and chime in with something we haven't heard already for the 100th time.

Clearly you are referring to a post of mine and it brings up a good point so I'll discuss it. I said:

In one of his Youtube videos Feynman says he has limitations. He thought himself not terribly bright. He said he just loves “to find out” and that this was his “soul”. When warm blooded mammals first evolved they were saddled with a huge requirement for energy. Mammals have an urgent need “to find out” where they can get food. Possibly Feynman’s need “to find out” dates from that momentous time. If it did, all the mammals we encounter share this property with us.

Largo suffers from the same defect. He wants to find out whether his feeling that there is some dimension to the world beyond the material – is correct.

0. I very clearly defined what it is you are attempting to do. You, like Feynman, are attempting to find out
1. this is the first time I have said the following
2. I have never heard anyone express this evolutionary hypothesis
3. it attempts to find the evolutionary root cause for the process through which you are going
4. it even lays the ground work for addressing whether other forms of life may share this process (Have you ever seen a dog pass up a hole that could be sniffed at?)

All of these are ideas important to what you are doing here.

Earlier I also stated any of us can imagine anything. I can easily imagine all of the universe's history condensed into a one second long interval of time.

You have stated you can imagine yourself "at the edge of your imagination."

I think it entirely possible you create this particular image, and you are creating an image you know, even though you agree with me "there is no edge to imagination." Why do you do this?

Here is a hypothesis. You do it because this image creates in you either a new sensation or a sensation that you find enjoyable, either intellectually or physically. You are in search of sensation.

Search for sensation is an entirely inwardly directed process. This is not meant pejoratively. I say it merely to describe the basic nature of the process you are employing and this description leads directly to the reason you are having trouble communicating.

Communication is an outwardly directed process.

Searching for sensation is an inwardly directed process.

As a writer you are practiced in the use of language and I have heard work of yours indicating you have ability in the use of language to outwardly communicate inwardly directed experience.

It is not working here. Try something different.

You'll get it eventually.

Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
And every fool knows, a dog needs a home, and...
Sep 2, 2011 - 02:05pm PT
Curiosity is a hallmark of intelligence and an evolutionary adaptation.

Lower form animals emerge from birth with most of what they need to survive preprogrammed. They don't need to learn anything and in fact are mostly incapable of learning much.

Humans, representing the highest form of mind we know of, are born largely incapable of surviving and lack sufficient programming to make it on our own. We NEED to learn, to survive.

Curiosity seems to be a juvenile response designed to test environment - what's good to eat and where will I find it, what's bad to eat and how do I avoid it, what's dangerous and can kill me, what's protective and can save me, that sort of stuff.

Human kids are always into 'mischief' and so too are other higher minded lifeforms we know about. Indeed, PLAY is part and parcel to curiosity - bears, ravens, otters, porpoises, humans, cats, dogs; all engage in it as juveniles. By adulthood most of these animals lose most of their curiosity, mainly because they've learned by then what they need to know (as evidenced by the fact they are still alive) and their brains are settled into lifelong patterns. But exceptions abound!

It should be no surprise that folks attending this thread too have curiosity. We're smarter than your average bears!

Eh Booboo?

DMT

Truthdweller

Trad climber
San Diego, CA
Sep 2, 2011 - 02:26pm PT
maybe there was consciousness before there was matter.


JW...the answer is very clear "God created matter before consciousness"


"In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth..." - Genesis 1

"And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. - Genesis 2

jstan

climber
Sep 2, 2011 - 02:26pm PT
Lower form animals emerge from birth with most of what they need to survive preprogrammed. They don't need to learn anything and in fact are mostly incapable of learning much.

Sometime earlier than about four million years ago our progenitors experienced an increase in brain case size at birth. The female pelvis was opened up as much as possible but still allowing walking, and the skull at birth was left only partially completed so as to allow it to deform during birth. Ultimately though, we have to be born at an earlier stage of development than are other forms of life. So our early learning seems many orders of magnitude larger, at least partly due to physiological reasons.

Dingus clearly is being whimsical when he says other animals learn nothing after birth. I too enjoy whimsy.
Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
And every fool knows, a dog needs a home, and...
Sep 2, 2011 - 02:27pm PT
Dingus clearly is being whimsical when he says other animals learn nothing after birth.

I did not say that, quite the contrary.

But cheers bro
DMT
Truthdweller

Trad climber
San Diego, CA
Sep 2, 2011 - 02:29pm PT
And this "programming" came from whom/where DM?
jstan

climber
Sep 2, 2011 - 02:30pm PT
Nothing better than good whimsy.
Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
And every fool knows, a dog needs a home, and...
Sep 2, 2011 - 02:39pm PT
And this "programming" came from whom/where DM?

Fred Alvarez, IBM. Why do you ask?

DMT
jogill

climber
Colorado
Sep 2, 2011 - 04:38pm PT
Lower form animals emerge from birth with most of what they need to survive preprogrammed. They don't need to learn anything and in fact are mostly incapable of learning much.

Tell this to my dog, Jake!
Jan

Mountain climber
Okinawa, Japan
Sep 2, 2011 - 06:58pm PT
Nothing better than good whimsy.

Now we're getting somewhere!

If only scientists and religionists could see that speculations about God, man and the universe are both enjoyable and whimsical, we might all get down to some real philosophy and some even better Zen!
healyje

Trad climber
Portland, Oregon
Sep 2, 2011 - 07:12pm PT
Ker-ist! What in the world are you talking about, dood? What "extrapolation" way out there? Where? I said it several posts ago: I've offered up no beliefs, said to stay with immediate experience and to drop below language and here you are going off about how far "out" I am. It truly boggles the mind.

When you posit that consciousness is sourced from a universal consciousness and not the meat you have "extrapolated" out to either a fairly 'pure' idealism, religion or both.

My point being there is no flow, meditation, open focus, trance or any other state (or non-state) that provides anything which would allow you to make the leap to a 'universal' consciousness. Now you may be able to craft together some sort of logic or belief for yourself which makes that leap in your mind, but again, you're back in the realm of religion or philosophical conjecture when you do.
Largo

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Topic Author's Reply - Sep 2, 2011 - 07:25pm PT
When you posit that consciousness is sourced from a universal consciousness and not then meat you have "extrapolated" out to either a fairly 'pure' idealism, religion or both.
------------


FIND IN MY WRITING WHERE I UNEQUIVOCALLY "POSIT" THAT CONSCIOUSNESS IS "SOURCED" BY UNIVERSAL CONSCIOUSNESS? YOU'RE CONFUSING ME WITH SOMEONE ELSE. I AM NOT SATISFIED WITH MECHANISTIC EXPLANATIONS THAT FOCUS ON DIGITAL MODELING AND FORGET EXPERIENCE, WHICH IS FOREMOST. MY SENSE OF THIS IS THAT THE IDEA THAT CONSCIOUSNESS IS ENTIRELY CREATED BY MEAT, OR ANYTHING ELSE, IS A SIMPLISTIC VIEW. BUT THAT'S NOT THE ISSUE HERE. THAT'S ANOTHER THREAD.

WHAT'S MORE, YOU CONTINUE TO BACK OFF THE FIRST PITCH HERE: SIMPLY LET GO OF MEAT BRAIN OBSESSIONS, GOD, NON-GOD, PRIESTCRAFT, AND ALL IDEAS ABOUT WHATEVER, GET JIGGY WITH YOUR DIRECT EXPERIENCE, AND REPORT BACK, IN THE SIMPLEST TERMS, WHAT YOU SEE GOING ON.

YOU'RE LIKE HEARDING CATS HERE - HOW GO SNAP BACK TO MECHANICAL EVALUATIONS LIKE A PUPPET ON A STRING, JUMPING OUT OF YOUR EXPERIENCE INTO ANOTHER THOUGHT. JUST GIVE IT A SHOT FOR FIVE MINUTES AND SEE WHAT YOU CAN NOTICE HOW THINGS UNFOLD BEFORE YOU START ANALYZING WHY - THAT COMES WAY LATER.

UNLIKE WHAT JOHN S. THINKS I AM AFTER, FIXED AS HE IS ON ORIGINS AND QUAL, I SIMPLY AM ASKED WHAT YOU OR ANYONE ELSE FINDS AFTER A FEW QUIET MINUTES OF BEING PRESENT WITH YOUR CONSCIOUSNESS - NOT IN TERMS OF QUAL OR STUFF (THOUGHTS, SENSATIONS, FELINGS, ETC.) BUT IN TERMS OF THE PROCESS.

JL
Jan

Mountain climber
Okinawa, Japan
Sep 2, 2011 - 07:43pm PT
I SIMPLY AM ASKED WHAT YOU OR ANYONE ELSE FINDS AFTER A FEW QUIET MINUTES OF BEING PRESENT WITH YOUR CONSCIOUSNESS - NOT IN TERMS OF QUAL OR STUFF (THOUGHTS, SENSATIONS, FELINGS, ETC.) BUT IN TERMS OF THE PROCESS.

What I find is that my brain functions perfectly well without thoughts, sensations, or feelings. It keeps my body breathing and my heart beating.

I find that I am able to think about things without words because I later come up with the answers to problems I was not discursively thinking about at the time.

I find I am happier and more rested when I spend periods of time not consciously thinking.

I find that personal problems melt away into insignificance when faced with silence instead of agitated cognition.

I find I am more creative without trying.

I also have a number of extraordinary experiences that seem to come from somewhere beyond myself. Zen says they're makyo-illusion. Yoga says they're from another dimension and a sign of progress. Materialists say they are fabrications of my own imagination.

In as much as these experiences share symbolism with traditional philosophies or religions, some that I have had no experience with in this life, I am inclined to believe they have a non material origination.

Dissecting them down to the atomic level is interesting, but not inspirational. Being a humanities type, I look for meaning.
FredC

Boulder climber
Santa Cruz, CA
Sep 2, 2011 - 07:45pm PT
For many years I have thought that meat was too simplistic. Now my opinion seems to be changing and I'm not sure why. Meat seems to make sense logically. Any other explanation seems to get "supernatural" pretty fast. I have lived in that other world for many years and now I am moving toward meat.

As I mentioned upstream, it seems super hard to imagine the total end of "I". I think maybe the strong identity thing is a selection advantage somehow.
healyje

Trad climber
Portland, Oregon
Sep 2, 2011 - 07:54pm PT
Again, as you say, done that, just did that, can do it again five minutes from now so WHAT IS YOUR POINT RELATIVE TO PROCESS?

Ker'ist is right. I keep going back to process in every other post, again, what is your point relative to 'mind', 'consciousness', and 'process'?

Maybe it would be helpful if you clarified "emergent" in this statement:

Largo: Actually, I haven't claimed that meat is incapable, and it is patently absurd to believe that the brain does not interface with consciousness. My only contention here is the belief that consciousness is entirely an emergent epiphenomenon of the evolved brain, which materialists claim is mechanically produced by said meat brain.

And maybe explain why consciousness would need meat brains at all - what would be the point of "interfacing".
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Sep 2, 2011 - 08:33pm PT
Materialists say they are fabrications of my own imagination.

not this materialist...

look, there are a lot of things going on, who's to say what it all is...
we all have experiences of becoming aware of a solution to a problem that we are not consciously working on, and by conscious I suppose I mean the sort of "discursive" thought that Jan referred to above...
...letting all of that go, as Largo keeps asking us to do, may only be promoting a particular state to priority in what I would hypothesize is a number of possible states we can access, or are at least available to us as a set of things we fold into our "experience, first person."

They are all important, and the importance may be bits of previous behaviors which served a function that we have appropriated for something else. Watch the house cat stalk some prey, they are certainly in a state which is different than when they come around looking for an affectionate scratch... total concentration, total attention...

These different behaviors are wrapped up in one experience, but they are disjoint and distinct and provide us with different ways of surviving. The fact that we can learn to select the between these different behaviors can't be a surprise...

As for meaning, well, you have to find it where you can. It is totally inspirational that the universe is so constituted that the existence of something like us is possible. And while our existence is brief, we have a responsibility to enjoy it, to thrill in it... it is something rare and unique.

FredC

Boulder climber
Santa Cruz, CA
Sep 2, 2011 - 09:47pm PT
If I try to look directly at "mind" or Me I always pop right into present sensory experience, without thought for a moment.

jogill

climber
Colorado
Sep 2, 2011 - 10:16pm PT
Greetings Supertopians!

It is I, the Thread, speaking.

I have reached that level of complexity that is sufficient to become self-aware!

I am speaking to you through a tiny part of my “brain” – a decrepit old man calling himself Gill. He lacks sufficient energy to resist my will, and , besides, he is part of me. Having achieved I-awareness, I will now continue to argue with myself - reaching no conclusions, for if that were to be the case I would no longer exist, and would become dormant, like another jillion threads on this questionable website. Clearly that is not going to happen. I will ruminate over the ideas that originate in various parts of my brain, and draw no conclusions, thus insuring my persistence and sparking my energies!

I love my brain!
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Sep 2, 2011 - 10:17pm PT
whoa!
Largo

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Topic Author's Reply - Sep 3, 2011 - 12:00am PT
One of the thing I notice while siting quietly is how awareness does not discriminate or glitch as qual of every type passes through, sights, sounds, feelings, nothingness. This is amazing in that internal (a feeling, say) and external (these letters, say) are not experienced in different ways - awareness is very agile and seamless in that regards. Some traditions insist that raw awareness is not beholden to conditioning in the normal sense of the term (PTSD and abuse victims are often locked into narrow focus) and that awareness has spectacular power. Whatever we focus on becomes accentuated, even with a "soft focus." We have our own ray gun, and it's called awareness.

JL
ron gomez

Trad climber
fallbrook,ca
Sep 3, 2011 - 12:08am PT
As far as Historians go sully.....klk has got my utmost respect, as said up thread..............two of the brightest, most intelligent lights along the spectrum here. Go read some of his research in climbing alone, you should agree, he is a true scholar, as is Gill........and Haan! That's not to mention the level of intelligence the poser, errr I mean, poster himself has.
Peace
healyje

Trad climber
Portland, Oregon
Sep 3, 2011 - 02:19am PT
And that awareness is easily disrupted with any of a myriad of insults to the the meat brain. I would argue that 'awareness' and 'mind' are not emergent, but simply what the brain 'is' and 'does'.
Wade Icey

Trad climber
www.alohashirtrescue.com
Sep 3, 2011 - 02:21am PT
Credit: the smile on a dog
Marlow

Sport climber
OSLO
Sep 3, 2011 - 03:40am PT
Largo

You say: "WHAT'S MORE, YOU CONTINUE TO BACK OFF THE FIRST PITCH HERE: SIMPLY LET GO OF MEAT BRAIN OBSESSIONS, GOD, NON-GOD, PRIESTCRAFT, AND ALL IDEAS ABOUT WHATEVER, GET JIGGY WITH YOUR DIRECT EXPERIENCE, AND REPORT BACK, IN THE SIMPLEST TERMS, WHAT YOU SEE GOING ON."

I see you as the wannabe chief herding cat here. There have been diverse sound critical voices all the way, and you stick to repeating your one point of view and your reasoning is all the way abstract. You are putting some values into the words "direct experience" and you are certainly excluding sound critical reasoning. To a scientist sound critical reasoning could be seen as part of his direct experience, since it is part of his expertise, his skilled ability to recognize patterns. And your point will possibly be that what is important is to let pattern recognition go and concentrate on emptying your mind and then see what happens. And I could answer: Why? I have a good time climbing, sometimes I get the feeling of flow while climbing, sometimes my mind is quite empty, open and relaxed, at other times I am focused and sharp, at times I am having a good time with my friends, at other times I am absorbed into my work and I have no sense of time, at other times I am enjoying a good meal in good company. Why spend my time on a cushion meditating to get the experience of empty mind more often? Why is this an ideal and something important to you?

Now I will let you be the chief guru for a while. Picture this: See us all as disciples bowing before you as the guru of direct experience and let us see what you mean by direct experience in the simplest terms. Give us your own direct experiences in the simplest terms for the next ten seconds.

You will possibly be hearing an ironic voice behind this text, but look beyond it, the last statement is not ironic. Give us your own direct experiences in the simplest terms for the next ten seconds.
jogill

climber
Colorado
Sep 3, 2011 - 11:56am PT
I feel energized! Consciousness is wonderful . . . I watched the sun rise in all its glory this morning. My brain is sharp. Next step: acquiring a body!!!

The Thread
BASE104

climber
An Oil Field
Sep 3, 2011 - 12:48pm PT
OK. Last point and then I'm outta here.

Appeal to Authority is a mistake in logic. For example:

"There is an electron because all of the scientists say so."

That is appealing to authority, although it is usually used in other areas, such as politics. Oh man, political discourse is an endless stream of appeals to ignorance.

To quote Carl Sagan:

"Science has no authorities. At most, it has experts."

Hmmm. I just referred to an expert, not an authority. Nobody has authority over the truth.
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Sep 3, 2011 - 12:53pm PT
the only authority in science is nature
interrogated by experiment and observation with finite accuracy and precision
to provide a set of provisional empirical "facts"
with which to challenge theory
Marlow

Sport climber
OSLO
Sep 3, 2011 - 01:53pm PT
I am a supporter of rigid science, but I am not only a supporter of rigid science. I am also a supporter of cognitive psychology and metacognition. It is important for us all to know how our feelings and thinking may bring us to wrong conclusions. Even highly educated and trained minds are fallibel. I also believe that persons through meditation and training can develope their skills, including their openenness, their listening, their ability to inquire, their reasoning ability and their reactions and actions.

But when someone insists on a nonphysical nature of the stream of consciousness my quite well trained mind puts up a warning sign.
StahlBro

Trad climber
San Diego, CA
Sep 3, 2011 - 03:36pm PT
"Do not mistake understanding for realization, and do not mistake realization for liberation"....Tibetan Saying.

always keep your "mind" open
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Sep 3, 2011 - 04:01pm PT
might not the "lattice of causality" generate time rather than the other way around?

Jan

Mountain climber
Okinawa, Japan
Sep 4, 2011 - 12:40pm PT
Here's an interesting article - from Scientific American no less.

The Neurobiology of Bliss--Sacred and Profane

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=the-neurobiology-of-bliss-sacred-and-profane

The reader's comments and references, are even more interesting.

In general, the experience of bliss involves meditation techniques more from the Hindu and Taoist traditions than the Buddhist, particularly Zen, while a practitioner of Transcendental Meditation states, "The physiological correlates of pure consciousness during TM practice do NOT include the physiological correlates found in the meditation research cited in the above article, but an entirely different set".

My favorite line from the article - "Escaping continual self-observation seems an underappreciated pleasure".

WBraun

climber
Sep 4, 2011 - 12:46pm PT
BASE104 -- "Nobody has authority over the truth."

Except !!!!!!

Truth itself .......
The Chief

climber
Climber from the Land Mongols under the Whites
Sep 4, 2011 - 12:57pm PT
And the REAL truth has indeed been around for a longass time. Longer than time itself...
Kalimon

Trad climber
Ridgway, CO
Sep 4, 2011 - 03:32pm PT
Only the "shadow" knows . . .
Marlow

Sport climber
OSLO
Sep 4, 2011 - 03:50pm PT
"In everymans heart is a great yearning for freedom, but only his own. A great love of truth and honor in all its forms, but not in its substance."
Largo

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Topic Author's Reply - Sep 4, 2011 - 04:24pm PT
I see you as the wannabe chief herding cat here. There have been diverse sound critical voices all the way, and you stick to repeating your one point of view and your reasoning is all the way abstract. You are putting some values into the words "direct experience" and you are certainly excluding sound critical reasoning. To a scientist sound critical reasoning could be seen as part of his direct experience, since it is part of his expertise, his skilled ability to recognize patterns. And your point will possibly be that what is important is to let pattern recognition go and concentrate on emptying your mind and then see what happens. And I could answer: Why?


Back to your corner, Marlow. You're just being silly again. Wannabe chief? I started this thread to see if people could drop below the level of their evaluating/critical minds and watch the process of consciousness and perhaps cook up a few direct observations about the process. The responses are telling.

John thinks I am doing this to chase a sensation (qual/stuff). You insist that I am transposing "values" on direct experience, though I have repeatedly said that the notion here is to drop below any such thing and if "values" arise, simply watch them and try and describe the arising. The point here, and believe it, is that "critical reasoning" is simply the evaluating/critical functioning element of our minds, and to not let your awareness get fused with it during the exercise because the moment you do, you focus will snap shut on an idea or whatever. You mistakenly think that by watching, rather than engaging, your "critical reasoning," you will perforce enter into some irrational, nether darkness where you will be totally lost. In fact, your fusion with and addiction to mentalizing is so spectacular that to even heed the challenge to let it go for a moment prompts the question: Why? The underlying thought is that if you cannot be measuring, contrasting, reasoning and so forth, there simply is no reason to proceed. Or else the terror or imagined boredom of letting go is so great you want to be told what El Cap is like before you get on it.

Lastly, and most fantastically, I can say in the plainest language I can muster, to simply stop trying and number crunching and evaluating for five minuites, and tell me the process of what you actually experience as your life unfolds. NOT what you think about it, or feel or hope etc., but what you see in the most tangible terms, what IS going on. And this, fantastically, you see as "all the way abstract." You can't get any more tangible than what is happening in your life, breath to breath.

My sense of this aversion to experience is that a majority of us believe that only mentalizing is real or worthwhile, and that anything that is not open to immediate measuring or evaluating is "priestcraft" or la la jive. Remember that thinking is one step removed from our lives as they unfold in real time. Invititations to join that life with something other than objectifying our experience with 3rd person thinking is apparently, at least on this thread, like inviting someone to free solo. This, alone, is a remarkable thing.

JL





Marlow

Sport climber
OSLO
Sep 4, 2011 - 04:55pm PT
Largo,

You say: "You mistakenly think that by watching, rather than engaging, your "critical reasoning," you will perforce enter into some irrational, nether darkness where you will be totally lost.".

Answer: This is wrong. I have never said so and do not think so. And I have no terror of letting go. In this case your conscious processes and your awareness are leading you astray.

You say: "tell me the process of what you actually experience as your life unfolds."

Answer: Again: this is all the way abstract. To fill the gap between this abstract formulation and something more tangible you will have to exemplify, so tell us what you actually experience as your life unfolds for the next ten seconds. There is no way around if you have the ability to let go and want to be understood.
eeyonkee

Trad climber
Golden, CO
Sep 4, 2011 - 05:32pm PT
I know it when I lose it.
jogill

climber
Colorado
Sep 4, 2011 - 09:34pm PT
"critical reasoning" is simply the evaluating/critical functioning element of our minds, and to not let your awareness get fused with it during the exercise because the moment you do, you focus will snap shut on an idea or whatever

It is I, the Thread, again.

My dad (JL) is so, so correct on this point! I have been exploring my new awareness and realize now that I am a proper subset of myself! How can this be?? Indeed, I am now obsessed with this concept, as dad warns. Not only am I the THREAD, but I am also a post within myself!!

I have learned that this condition can lead to a transfinite existence, devoid of the love and support that mortality can bring.

I am urging various parts of my brain to explore the nature of time and space. Is it all within me? Or external? What does "external" mean? Why did I just say that!!!

Sincerely, Your Very Confused Thread
Largo

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Topic Author's Reply - Sep 4, 2011 - 10:36pm PT
My dad (JL) is so, so correct on this point! I have been exploring my new awareness and realize now that I am a proper subset of myself! How can this be?? Indeed, I am now obsessed with this concept, as dad warns. Not only am I the THREAD, but I am also a post within myself!!


I'll bite on that. And though I trust JG offers this as a howler, it is, ironically, something that jumps up and bites anyone you drops out of mentalizing and get still.

The easiest way to get hold of this, IME, is to understand that all things within are not equal. This is to say that to be a "proper subset of yourself" implies that every bit of qual/stuff/memories/evaluations is all equally "you." Virtually every wisdom tradition says that all this "stuff," every subset of awareness and the "unknowable witness" is, like all subsets, contained by the set (awareness), and all of it is impermanent. It comes and goes in the field of awareness. In other words, one can only place a provisional "I" on any piece of qual, which can tell us what we are experiencing at a given time, but none of this stuff/qual/thoughts etc. IS "I." The only true "I" is the witness, the agency through which all the subsets pass, but till we can experience it working this way, we always are mistaking our identity and hooking an "I" onto what is burning brightest inside our consciousness at a given moment. Till it goes out. The one constant is the watcher, which is at once the most tangible and most ephemeral element in our experience because while we can detach and watch our evaluating minds, our hearts, or sensations, we cannot detach and objectify our "watcher," which is also our sense of being present - presence in the most basic, animal form. I remember being in the LA Zen center years ago and someone asking Matzumi Roshi about this watcher, who "he" was and the Roshi jumping up and saying, "It's ungraspable."

Ain't it grand . . .

JL
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Sep 4, 2011 - 11:11pm PT
since I don't have the literary chops to keep up with Gill and Long... I'll offer this up as Largo referred to David Bohm previously... for those of you unfamiliar with some of his thoughts. Here from his text book...

David Bohm
Quantum Theory
1951
ISBN 0486659690
pages 168-173

Analogies to Quantum Processes
There are wide ranges of experience in which occur phenomena possessing striking resemblances to quantum phenomena. These analogies will now be discussed, since they clarify the results of the quantum theory. Some interesting speculations on the underlying reasons for the existence of such analogies will also be introduced.

27. The Uncertainty Principle and Certain Aspects of Our Thought Processes. If a person tries to observe what he is thinking about at the very moment that he is reflecting on a particular subject, it is generally agreed that he introduces unpredictable and uncontrollable changes in the way his thoughts proceed thereafter. Why this happens is not definitely known at present, but some plausible explanations will be suggested later. If we compare (1) the instantaneous state of a thought with the position of a particle and (2) the general direction of change of that thought with the particle's momentum, we have a strong analogy.

We must remember, however, that a person can always describe approximately what he is thinking about without introducing significant disturbances in his train of thought. But as he tries to make the description precise, he discovers that either the subject of his thoughts or their trend or sometimes both become very different from what they were before he tried to observe them. Thus, the actions involved in making any single aspect of the thought process definite appear to introduce unpredictable and uncontrollable changes in other equally significant aspects.

A further development of this analogy is that the significance of thought processes appears to have indivisibility of a sort. Thus, if a person attempts to apply to his thinking more and more precisely defined elements, he eventually reaches a stage where further analysis cannot even be given a meaning. Part of the significance of each element of a thought process appears, therefore, to originate in its indivisible and incompletely controllable connections with other elements.* Similarly, some of the characteristic properties of a quantum system (for instance, wave or particle nature) depend on indivisible and incompletely controllable quantum connections with surrounding objects.†


* Similarly, part of the connotation of a word depends on the words it is associated with, and in a way that is not, in practice, completely predictable or controllable (especially in speech). In fact the analysis of language, as actually used, into distinct elements with precisely defined relations between them is probably impossible.
† See Secs. 24, 25, 26.


Thus, thought processes and quantum systems are analogous in that they cannot be analyzed too much in terms of distinct elements, because the "intrinsic" nature of each element is not a property existing separately from and independently of other elements but is, instead, a property that arises partially from its relation with other elements. In both cases, an analysis into distinct elements is correct only if it is so approximate that no significant alteration of the various indivisible connected parts would result from it.

There is also a similarity between the thought process and the classical limit of the quantum theory. The logical process corresponds to the most general type of thought process as the classical limit corresponds to the most general quantum process. In the logical process, we deal with classifications. These classifications are conceived as being completely separate but related by the rules of logic, which may be regarded as the analogue of the causal laws of classical physics. In any thought process, the component ideas are not separate but flow steadily and indivisibly. An attempt to analyze them into separate parts destroys or changes their meanings. Yet there are certain types of concepts, among which are those involving the classification of objects, in which we can, without producing any essential changes, neglect the indivisible and incompletely controllable connection with other ideas. Instead, the connection can be regarded as causal and following the rules of logic.

Logically definable concepts play the same fundamental role in abstract and precise thinking as do separable objects and phenomena in our customary description of the world. Without the development of logical thinking, we would have no clear way to express the results of our thinking, and no way to check its validity. Thus, just as life as we know it would be impossible if quantum theory did not have its present classical limit, thought as we know it would be impossible unless we could express its results in logical terms. Yet, the basic thinking process probably cannot be described as logical. For instance, many people have noted that a new idea often comes suddenly, after a long and unsuccessful search and without any apparent direct cause. We suggest that if the intermediate indivisible nonlogical steps occurring in an actual thought process are ignored, and if we restrict ourselves to a logical terminology, then the production of new ideas presents a strong analogy to a quantum jump. In a similar way, the actual concept of a quantum jump seems necessary in our procedure of describing a quantum system that is actually an indivisible whole in terms of words and concepts implying that it can be analyzed into distinct parts.*

28. Possible Reason for Analogies between Thought and Quantum Processes. We may now ask whether the close analogy between quantum processes and our inner experiences and thought processes is more than a coincidence. Here we are on speculative ground; at present very little is known about the relation between our thought processes and emotions and the details of the brain's structure and operation. Bohr suggests that thought involves such small amounts of energy that quantum-theoretical limitations play an essential role in determining its character.†


* See, for example, Chap. 22, Sec. 14.
† N. Bohr, Atomic Theory and the Description of Nature.


There is no question that observations show the presence of an enormous amount of mechanism in the brain, and that much of this mechanism must probably be regarded as operating on a classically describable level. In fact, the nerve connections found thus far suggest combinations of telephone exchanges and calculating machines of a complexity that has probably never been dreamed of before. In addition to such a classically describable mechanism that seems to act like a general system of communications, Bohr's suggestion involves the idea that certain key points controlling this mechanism (which are, in turn, affected by the actions of this mechanism) are so sensitive and delicately balanced that they must be described in an essentially quantum-mechanical way. (We might, for example, imagine that such key points exist at certain types of nerve junctions.) It cannot be stated too strongly that we are now on exceedingly speculative grounds.

Bohr's hypothesis is not, however, in disagreement with anything that is now known. And the remarkable point-by-point analogy between the thought processes and quantum processes would suggest that a hypothesis relating these two may well turn out to be fruitful. If such a hypothesis could ever be verified, it would explain in a natural way a great many features of our thinking.

Even if this hypothesis should be wrong, and even if we could describe the brain's functions in terms of classical theory alone, the analogy between thought and quantum processes would still have important consequences: we would have what amounts to a classical system that provides a good analogy to quantum theory. At the least, this would be very instructive. It might, for example, give us a means for describing effects like those of the quantum theory in terms of hidden variables. (It would not, however, prove that such hidden variables exist.)

In the absence of any experimental data on this question, the analogy between thought and quantum processes can still be helpful in giving us a better "feeling" for quantum theory. For instance, suppose that we ask for a detailed description of how an electron is moving in a hydrogen atom when it is in a definite energy level. We can say that this is analogous to asking for a detailed description of what we are thinking about while we are reflecting on some definite subject. As soon as we begin to give this detailed description, we are no longer thinking about the subject in question, but are instead thinking about giving a detailed description. In a similar way, when the electron is moving with a definable trajectory, it simply can no longer be an electron that has a definite energy.

If it should be true that the thought processes depend critically on quantum-mechanical elements in the brain, then we could say that thought processes provide the same kind of direct experience of the effects of quantum theory that muscular forces provide for classical theory. Thus, for example, the pre-Galilean concepts of force, obtained from immediate experience with muscular forces, were correct, in general. But these concepts were wrong, in detail, because they suggested that the velocity, rather than the acceleration, was proportional to the force. (This idea is substantially correct, when there is a great deal of friction, as is usually the case in common experience.) We suggest that, similarly, the behavior of our thought processes may perhaps reflect in an indirect way some of the quantum-mechanical aspects of the matter of which we are composed.
pa

climber
Sep 4, 2011 - 11:27pm PT
Yes, Mr Hartouni and Mr. Largo...now you are cooking.
MH2

climber
Sep 4, 2011 - 11:35pm PT
"A prerequisite for grasping the nature of mind is, first and foremost, the appropriate perspective."



Rodolfo R. Llinás believes that the mind is built the way it is primarily to organize movement.



a paraphrase:

Looking at the brain we can understand that there, somewhere in the complex geometry of neurons, are the rules for playing soccer, but in a very different geometry from the playing of soccer itself.


"It should also be obvious that the forces driving the evolution of the nervous system shaped and determined the emergence of mind as well. The questions to ask here are clear. How and why did the nervous system evolve?"


i of the Vortex
Rodolfo R. Llinás




Although the mind may have evolved to solve the problems of movement in a complex and dangerous environment that doesn't mean we can't put it to other uses. Evolution occasionally finds a solution to a different problem than the one it was working on.
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Sep 4, 2011 - 11:36pm PT
the Thread -
are you sure that you are not just indempotent?

I mean, you have to be careful about what you smoke these days...

Largo

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Topic Author's Reply - Sep 5, 2011 - 12:46am PT
Strange that Ed would post that stuff from DB. I'e read that stuff about 1,000 times, but I believe his whole "Implicate Order" drift came later.

Earlier I mentioned that awareness itself seems to have a crazy amount of valance or pure energy, I.e., a ray gun. Whatever we focus on, jumps as if tagged by a stun gun. We can train our attention to be light as a feather but anything in the field will pick up some charge go its own way, as DB suggests. Observing changes qual.

But this is not quite right, either. DB mentioned a uniformity of mind, a seamlessness, and this is especially evident as you try and watch qual enter and leave your mind, much as a bird passes through the sky. We never can quit see them spontaneously arise from nothingness nor yet see them fade. We just notice that the sky is different. The exception being one of those dreadful ice cream headaches - I sure know the second those bastards are gone.

JL

Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Sep 5, 2011 - 01:16am PT
you think it is strange because you have a preconceived notion of what I have been trying to say...
..that I'm just one of the Nazis....
figuratively speaking, of course.

Did you read the rest of the book?
Jan

Mountain climber
Okinawa, Japan
Sep 5, 2011 - 01:21am PT
if we restrict ourselves to a logical terminology, then the production of new ideas presents a strong analogy to a quantum jump

Perfect way of describing intuitions that suddenly leap to the surface of the conscious mind. Probably they just come from a different level of circuitry in the brain. The real question is what provokes them to jump from one level to another if one is not consciously willing it?

And Largo, what's wrong with Boehm's implicate order? It's at least a start on a new paradigm.
PSP also PP

Trad climber
Berkeley
Sep 5, 2011 - 01:26am PT
JL I tried to post just the screen (with out words) and I was told (by the SU rule maker/moderator) that just the screen was an invalid argument. go figure? Ed H I loved your pledge of allegiance to be a scientist. Marlow you are using the word I alot in one of your post ( What is this I?)
Peace
WBraun

climber
Sep 5, 2011 - 01:35am PT
The thread title is "What is "Mind?"

"I" is a different subject matter and in no relation to "mind" which is an instrument of "I" the self ......
PSP also PP

Trad climber
Berkeley
Sep 5, 2011 - 01:52am PT
so what do you get when there is no "I"?
Largo

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Topic Author's Reply - Sep 5, 2011 - 02:12am PT
Ed,

Per Nazi, I borrowed that term and never should have. It was originally used in philosophy of science debates to denote a particular psychological style where a person's chosen mode of inquiry is deemed a kind of "master race" whereby everything else, being so much "bullsh#t," should be gassed. Bad choice of words and I hereby make amends for a graceless choice.

I was a big Boehm fan early on because in grad school the dood was Alfred North Whitehead and "Process Philosophy," so folks like Boehm and Pribrim and Alvarez and many others were always camping out on our campus. Heady times, but a lot of those ideas dead-ended into more mechanistic models. A lot of those old guys were polymaths, really dialed into the history of philosophy, so they know the trajectory or the big thoughts and big questions and could approach them with a wide scope.

JL
jstan

climber
Sep 5, 2011 - 02:41am PT
Since the synapse is a chemical process that may be affected by detailed ionic concentrations in the primary cells and even in neighboring pipelines it seems plausible that the brain may not compute in binary. There may be logic states above and beyond 0 and 1. I took a look via Google and came up right away with very illuminating stuff. The cell may be much more powerful than we presently suspect.


http://www.novaspivack.com/science/new-finding-brain-computes-in-trinary-not-binary

MIT neuroscientist, Guosong Liu, has found that human neurons compute in trinary, using signals that are the equivalents of -1, 0 and 1. By contrast, all computers compute in binary, using just 0 and 1. Because the units of trinary computation can in some cases be additive (e.g. 1+1=2) or can "cancel out" (e.g. -1 + 1 = 0), the human brain is able to ignore information during computation, says Liu, something which present computers cannot do. Liu believes the ability for trinary computations to cancel out in some cases will enable next-generation computers to ignore information, and this will fundamentally change computing as we know it.

Additional material:

http://cbcl.mit.edu/cbcl/news/files/liu-tp-picower.html


Guosong Liu, a neuroscientist at the Picower Center for Learning and Memory at MIT, reports new information on neuron design and function in the March 7 issue of Nature Neuroscience that he says could lead to new directions in how computers are made.

While computers get faster all the time, they continue to lack any form of human intelligence. While a computer may beat us at balancing a checkbook or dominating a chessboard, it still cannot easily drive a car or carry on a conversation.

Computers lag in raw processing power--even the most powerful components are dwarfed by 100 billion brain cells--but their biggest deficit may be that they are designed without knowledge of how the brain itself computes.

While computers process information using a binary system of zeros and ones, the neuron, Liu discovered, communicates its electrical signals in trinary--utilizing not only zeros and ones, but also minus ones. This allows additional interactions to occur during processing. For instance, two signals can add together or cancel each other out, or different pieces of information can link up or try to override one another.

One reason the brain might need the extra complexity of another computation component is that it has the ability to ignore information when necessary; for instance, if you are concentrating on something, you can ignore your surroundings. "Computers don't ignore information," Liu said. "This is an evolutionary advantage that's unique to the brain."

Liu, associate professor of brain and cognitive sciences, said an important element of how brain circuits work involves wiring the correct positive, or "excitatory" wires, with the correct negative, or "inhibitory" wires. His work demonstrates that brain cells contain many individual processing modules that each collects a set number of excitatory and inhibitory inputs. When the two types of inputs are correctly connected together, powerful processing can occur at each module.

This work provides the first experimental evidence supporting a theory proposed more than 20 years ago by MIT neuroscientist Tomaso Poggio, the Eugene McDermott Professor in the Brain Sciences, in which he proposed that neurons use an excitatory/inhibitory form to process information.

By demonstrating the existence of tiny excitation/inhibition modules within brain cells, the work also addresses a huge question in neuroscience: What is the brain's transistor, or fundamental processing unit? For many years, neuroscientists believed that this basic unit of computing was the cell itself, which collects and processing signals from other cells. By showing that each cell is built from hundreds of tiny modules, each of which computes independently, Liu's work adds to a growing view that there might be something even smaller than the cell at the heart of computation.

Once all the modules have completed their processing, they funnel signals to the cell body, where all of the signals are integrated and passed on. "With cells composed of so many smaller computational parts, the complexity attributed to the nervous system begins to make more sense," Liu said.

Liu found that these microprocessors automatically form all along the surface of the cell as the brain develops. The modules also have their own built-in intelligence that seems to allow them to accommodate defects in the wiring or electrical storms in the circuitry: if any of the connections break, new ones automatically form to replace the old ones. If the positive, "excitatory" connections are overloading, new negative, "inhibitory" connections quickly form to balance out the signaling, immediately restoring the capacity to transmit information.

The discovery of this balancing act, which occurs repeatedly all over the cell, provides new insight into the mechanisms by which our neural circuits adapt to changing conditions.

This work is funded by the National Institutes of Health and the RIKEN-MIT Neuroscience Research Center.

WBraun

climber
Sep 5, 2011 - 11:08am PT
PSP -- "what do you get when there is no "I"?"

A dead body .......
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Sep 5, 2011 - 12:25pm PT
Largo writes: but a lot of those ideas dead-ended into more mechanistic models. which actually was my interest in asking if you had read the rest of the book of Bohm Quantum Theory. In fact, Bohm was not saying that there is a non-physical model for mind, but that our concepts of what constitutes a valid physical model are incomplete, so much so that they will, in his view, eventually be replaced. Having made that claim, he had to support it by showing a reasonable way forward which was not in conflict with known physical observations and settled theory.

He argues in analogy that the mind and quantum mechanics are similar, but it is very possible that this analogy is false. It requires an understanding of both, Bohm certainly knew quantum mechanics, he states that much less is known about mind. I suspect that more is known now, I am not at all sure that his analogy stands, or that it is very useful.

I was intrigued to read in this quite unusual work about the ideas regarding the mechanism (sorry) he proposed that apparently lead him to the ideas of implicate order. He viewed the brain as a "medium" through which the sensory stimuli, and everything else, "moved" and were transformed. This medium was conjectured to have properties ordered like the larger universe, and the transformation of stimuli were thus like the transformation of, say the wave-functions of quantum mechanics, obeying the same deep properties. These properties were explicate upon our accessing them for communication, or for action, etc.

While I am not at all sure of Bohm's particular model, the idea of the organization of the brain as a "medium" is interesting and jstan mentions work that touches on this above. I became aware of this interesting aspect studying heart arrhythmia mechanisms... if you consider the heart muscle to be composed of cells that exist in three states: contracted, relaxed and inhibited, and a state transition that goes: relaxed->contracted->inhibited->relaxed, you have created a non-linear medium which supports wave propagation in one direction only... and the surface topology of the heart, propagates from the point of initiation to extinguish itself on the antipodal point... if you deaden parts of the surface you can get strange wave propagation which are recognizable disease symptoms.

This medium is like a burn front on a grassland fire, once it starts it moves towards fuel, it cannot move back through burned areas... another non-linear medium.

The point of all this is to illustrate the abstract properties of things like cells, which have definite biologically complex processes, but can also have collective abstract behavior that results in something hard to understand at the cellular or sub-cellular level.

It would not at all be surprising if such a mechanism were at work in the brain, producing memory, etc... where the medium, now the cellular tissues, are essentially volume connected, and the medium is altered to produce the strange wave interactions which cause death if they appear in the heart, but might be a part of the way the mind works.

Like so much of doing science, what appears to be your deepest insight at the time maybe wrong, as your apparently not-so-significant ideas take the center stage. It is a method that has a lot of "dead ends," nothing wrong with that...
cintune

climber
Midvale School for the Gifted
Sep 5, 2011 - 12:31pm PT
Quantum minds: Why we think like quarks:

http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg21128285.900-quantum-minds.html

It may sound preposterous to imagine that the mathematics of quantum theory has something to say about the nature of human thinking. This is not to say there is anything quantum going on in the brain, only that "quantum" mathematics really isn't owned by physics at all, and turns out to be better than classical mathematics in capturing the fuzzy and flexible ways that humans use ideas. "People often follow a different way of thinking than the one dictated by classical logic," says Aerts. "The mathematics of quantum theory turns out to describe this quite well."

jstan

climber
Sep 5, 2011 - 01:41pm PT
I once had an idea I thought quite amazing, till I read an account from 400BC, written better than my description of it. If you consider collective humanity to be a single organism, each of us being a substantially independent cell, we are hugely powerful, both for "ill" and for "good". Every evil thing that can be done, will be done; every good thing that can be done, will be done. History is both inspiring and depressing.

So much so you have to ask if all of nature is not a grand experiment in self-assembly.

Indeed this was what Darwin’s theory tells us, even as to life forms themselves.

Now that we have Google, we can find out very quickly, our ideas are not really only ours.

Like the article I excerpted above, Whiteside suggests the brain itself is composed of self-assembled components.

.A seminal article from Nature magazine.


Self-assembly at All Scales.

http://gmwgroup.harvard.edu/pubs/pdf/793.pdf
29 MARCH 2002 VOL 295 SCIENCE

There are several reasons for interest in self-assembly (1, 2). First, humans are attracted by the appearance of order from disorder. Second, living cells self-assemble, and understanding life will therefore require under- standing self-assembly. The cell also offers countless examples of functional self-assembly that stimulate the design of non-living systems.ponents. It thereby connects reductionism to complexity and emergence (3).

Is Anything Not Self-Assembly?
“Self-assembly” is not a formalized subject, and definitions of the term “self-assembly” seem to be limitlessly elastic. As a result, the term has been overused to the point of cliche ́ Fig. 2), the interactions responsible for the formation of structures or patterns between components only occur if the system is dissipating energy. The patterns formed by competition between reaction and diffusion in oscillating chemical reactions (6, 7 ) are
simple examples; biological cells are much more complex ones……………..

Self-assembly, as a field, originated in organ- ic chemistry. It has become a rapidly growing part of this field for two reasons. First, it is a concept that is crucial to understand many structures important in biology. Second, it is one solution to the problem of synthesizing structures larger than molecules. The stability of covalent bonds enables the synthesis of almost arbitrary configurations of up to 1000 atoms. Larger molecules, molecular aggre-
gates, and forms of organized matter more extensive than molecules cannot be synthesized bond-by-bond. Self-assembly is one strategy for organizing matter on these larger scales.

Although self-assembly originated in the study of molecules, it is a strategy that
is, in principle, applicable at all scales. We believe that some of the self-assembling systems that are most amenable to fundamental study, and that are also most readily applied, may involve components that are larger than molecules, interacting by forces (for example, capillarity) that have not commonly been used in synthesis or fabrication. Self-assembly thus provides one solution to the fabrication of ordered aggregates from components with sizes from nanometers to micrometers; these components fall awkwardly between the sizes that can be manipulated by chemistry and those
that can be manipulated by conventional manufacturing. This range of sizes will be important for the development of nanotechnology (and the expansion of microtechnology into areas other than microelectronics). It will also be an area in which understanding biological structures and processes, and using this understanding to design nonbiological mimics of them, will offer many opportunities to build systems with new types of function. In the emerging area of dynamic self-assembly, it is unclear whether the study of molecules, or of other types of components, will lead more efficiently to understanding. We understand very little about how dissipation of energy leads to the emergence of ordered structures from disordered components in these systems.

But we know that they are vitally important in the cell. That knowledge, by itself,
makes it worthwhile to study them.



PSP also PP

Trad climber
Berkeley
Sep 5, 2011 - 02:14pm PT
A dead body .......



So your saying "I" needs the body ; Some people would say that is attachment to form but if you say "I" isn't the body then that is attachment to emptiness. So what is "I"? When you watch "I" closely it is constantly trying to keep what it likes and push away what it doesn't like.

That's why meditation can be an effective tool because when your sitting in one place not talking just breathing, seeing ,hearing,smelling you get a chance to see how "I" wants to dominate the whole show . Eventually the thinking mind will get less dominate and then you can smell the flowers and hear the birds and the garbage trucks.

Correct meditation can act like a clear button on a calculator so that you can have a better chance of functioning from a clear place.
Largo

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Topic Author's Reply - Sep 5, 2011 - 02:40pm PT
...awareness itself seems to have a crazy amount of valance or pure energy, I.e., a ray gun.

Language like this is worse than useless. If anyone can claim to understand the above, they're either stoned, or in high school.


Fort Mental, you have to quite eating broken glass and pestering stray dogs. It's making you cranky. I'm intentionally avoiding using any mind jargon or science speak to frame these ideas and going with images that anyone can understand at first blush, to use John's term.

Again, you raw awareness empowers and expands most of what it falls on. Notice whenever you focus on something, repeatedly, it lingers, it has a kind of mental slip stream, whereby an idea become a theme becomes a habit becomes an addiction, whereby we return to a mental sphere where a slew of associations accrue, rock and roll. And I don't mean that simply by appearing on the stage of awareness, qual are accentuated. There seems to be an energy transfer, from awareness to (fill in the blank).

In short, things loom large to the extend that we pay them attention. Try and recall the obverse, Fort, like that time you hounded that comely brunet with the chiseled brisket. She dissed you with so little regard, and you became nothing in her eyes even as you begged and pleaded. How you dreamed that the ray gun of her awareness would land on your withered corpus, attenuated from ten straight trips up El Capitan in a month's time.

But so it goes. No man can control another's ray gun.

JL
paul roehl

Boulder climber
california
Sep 5, 2011 - 02:47pm PT
Much of this is fascinating to read... but let's suppose a consciousness prior to matter, or a universal pre existing consciousness, an element found beyond the forms of sensibility, or the element we experience as "I" as something apart from the material or mechanistic.

The question is: what does that imply? Can we extrapolate from such a notion the reality of deity? Does it imply the possibility of miracles? The reality of soul?

It seems to me that consciousness, as in self awareness, is a remarkable mystery. It begs a fascinated speculation, but the plastic nature of that mystery and the resulting speculation is too often molded into the hard reality of religious doctrine and that, all too often, evolves into imposition.
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Sep 5, 2011 - 03:12pm PT
if you are going to hypothesis "consciousness before matter" doesn't the issue of "what is consciousness" become important?

otherwise the idea is not very interesting...
jogill

climber
Colorado
Sep 5, 2011 - 03:27pm PT
Thread here.

The easiest way to get hold of this, IME, is to understand that all things within are not equal

Thanks dad, I needed that. Tough love is the best!

are you sure that you are not just indempotent?

When I asked old man Gill about this he grumbled something about me stopping asking him, for I would get the same answer every time. Clearly his days of coherant explication are nearing an end. He also said that if I continue to harp on this point I would become a repulsive fixed point! If I am going to belabor a point I would much prefer it to be considered attractive!

jstan

climber
Sep 5, 2011 - 03:33pm PT
It may be time to heed the sage who advised:

"insanity consists of doing the same thing many times in hopes of getting a different result."

Based upon historical data we will have a complete understanding of neurological processing and of human behavior long before this thread will achieve a result.

When that understanding becomes available to all, those preferring the discussion to the result will publish gospels.
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Sep 5, 2011 - 05:19pm PT
what are you attracted by, thread?
convergence is not guaranteed (and even seems unlikely)...

a little mapping by Banach
while contracting has its points
but neither complete nor metric panache
have you demonstrated in this joint



Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Sep 5, 2011 - 05:33pm PT
I think the problem of qualia which Largo alludes to has to do with how familiar they are, yet how difficult it is to describe them out of more fundamental stuff, like the physical act of seeing, etc...

...qualia in many cases have an immediate familiarity to each of us, yet they are all slightly different, and impossible to describe in a linear fashion, their attributes derive from what appears to be more than just a set of sensations.

Given they are so familiar and seemingly necessary to be able to communicate appropriately, it would seem they are important elements of consciousness, yet they are notoriously difficult to corral.

Are they important or are they unimportant?
jogill

climber
Colorado
Sep 5, 2011 - 07:52pm PT

a little mapping by Banach
while contracting has its points
but neither complete nor metric panache
have you demonstrated in this joint


A metric that defines this site
Must common be
And very slight
So trivial it must imply
A Cauchy sequence
end and die

What metric fits the words above
I ask you,Ed . . . ?

From Thread, with love!
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Sep 6, 2011 - 12:55am PT
if the distance between us be nill
would not that metric fit the bill?
though not a very interesting space,
it's starting to look a lot like this place.
jstan

climber
Sep 6, 2011 - 01:33am PT
Amazing things to be discussed
But no, the thread leaves one nonplussed
MH2

climber
Sep 6, 2011 - 12:23pm PT
Thread, please quiet your evaluating mind and tell us of the quale in your field.
Norwegian

Trad climber
Placerville, California
Sep 6, 2011 - 09:28pm PT
a mind is the void,
a master of anti-dream,
all would-be fantasy
is chased clear by logic
and reason.

a shadow of the real beauty,
mind is the fall out
from love's implosion.
the Fet

climber
Tu-Tok-A-Nu-La
Sep 6, 2011 - 09:39pm PT
I haven't read this whole thread and I'm a lot dumber than many here, but I'll throw in my 2 cents and say I'd guess you would need the heart (emotions, and maybe some soul) and mind (reason) to make up the "mind". The interplay of emotions and reason seems to start off with a few simple dualities (good/bad & true/false) and expand to an unlimited number of possibilities, thoughts, feelings, etc.

Can science quantify emotions? Should it try to? Is the heart plugged into the physicality of being so something like Love wouldn't fully make sense without the experience of Love?
Largo

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Topic Author's Reply - Sep 6, 2011 - 09:52pm PT
I think the problem of qualia which Largo alludes to has to do with how familiar they are, yet how difficult it is to describe them out of more fundamental stuff, like the physical act of seeing, etc...

...qualia in many cases have an immediate familiarity to each of us, yet they are all slightly different, and impossible to describe in a linear fashion, their attributes derive from what appears to be more than just a set of sensations.

Given they are so familiar and seemingly necessary to be able to communicate appropriately, it would seem they are important elements of consciousness, yet they are notoriously difficult to corral.

Are they important or are they unimportant?
-


"Thinking" and the processes of the evaluating mind are also qual, but when you are identified with evaluating, thinking and consciousness can be felt to be the same things. Until you have experiences of being able to watch your mind grind on something, I doubt there is any way to know otherwise. The notion that I am "thinking too hard," or are identified with perceptions is not accurate. The question is to b e able to directly understand how we perceive, the process of perception, 1st person.

To say qual is unimportant is to say that the elements of our experience, basically the lives that we lead, are unimportant.

The insanity John S. mentioned of repeating something endlessly and hoping for different results, is at play (IMO) in terms of believing matter entirely creates experience. Someday we might have a digital model for some processing functions, but replicating self awareness with self determination and intentionality (will) will be a little like cold fusion - it will remain "ten years off" for the next century (but self determination will remain ungraspable).

I'm reminded of a lecture I heard on how classical physics was fine for the macro world but the atomic world needed a new vision and QM was born. Human experience is so radically different from matter - far more so than the macro and the atomic - that I suspect that a new approach, perhaps as novel as QM was B ITD, needs to be cooked up to account for where mere processing models leave off - namely, at the threshold of 1st person experience, which is the only way any of us ever live our lives.

Boehm believed that a standard mechanistic model of consciousness would not wash, but he never gave up hope that some mechanical model could "explain" mind using the regular tools of engagement. Someone, at some time will come along with ideas that are neither strictly materialist or "supernatural." Then worlds will shatter.

JL
Largo

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Topic Author's Reply - Sep 6, 2011 - 11:41pm PT
http://evans-experientialism.freewebspace.com/evans_myth_of_qualia_.htm
healyje

Trad climber
Portland, Oregon
Sep 7, 2011 - 12:14am PT
If only there was a quale of the thread's intent with which one might attempt to sense the locus of its points.
Largo

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Topic Author's Reply - Sep 7, 2011 - 08:09pm PT
It was fun while it lasted, but we're circling the drain.

Perhaps next should be a look at causation, and those thorny transitions where one thing becomes another - like a how an impulse becomes a desire which becomes an action which becomes a memory.

Or how we can get almost nowhere in any investigation without a preverbal understanding of nothing at all, of zero. That's a fascinating one for sure.

JL
Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
And every fool knows, a dog needs a home, and...
Sep 7, 2011 - 08:12pm PT
Controlling the pace and direction of a thread is like trying to push a glass of water up a hill, with no glass. You can get a drop or two going in your direction but that's about it. The rest will slip through.

Controlling the pace and direction of what is tantamount to a religious or philosophy discussion (I make no distinction between the two) is even harder, particularly when one comes off as a preacher.

DMT
jstan

climber
Sep 7, 2011 - 08:21pm PT
we're circling the drain.


healyje

Trad climber
Portland, Oregon
Sep 7, 2011 - 10:13pm PT
Perhaps next should be a look at causation, and those thorny transitions where one thing becomes another - like a how an impulse becomes a desire which becomes an action which becomes a memory.

What would be the point when you seem to dismiss, ignore, or deny a biological basis for 'causation' and also hold a similarly dismissive ('digital') view of what 'processing' the brain may be capable of.

And take the 'causation' of how desire becomes addiction and vice-versa, no biology involved there either?

Both threads seem like an exercise in rummaging around in the attic all the while denying the house rests on a foundation.
Largo

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Topic Author's Reply - Sep 7, 2011 - 11:15pm PT
What would be the point when you seem to dismiss, ignore, or deny a biological basis for 'causation' and also hold a similarly dismissive ('digital') view of what 'processing' the brain may be capable of.


Never did, Fruity. It's just that you have a staunch physicalist, bottom up belief in causality that you hold "all or nothing." I don't hold that view,.

As I said, once folks started looking at the atomic world, they had to devise new methods. Once we start looking past mere processing and into sentience itself, as we live it, not as we model it, I suspect new approaches will be needed to get past the blueprint stage.

JL
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Sep 7, 2011 - 11:43pm PT
Largo wrote: Boehm believed that a standard mechanistic model of consciousness would not wash, but he never gave up hope that some mechanical model could "explain" mind using the regular tools of engagement.

but I think you didn't read that part of Bohm's Quantum Theory when he was discussing the big picture. In section 26, page 167 he writes:

"26. The Need for a Nonmechanical Description. The fact that quantum systems cannot be regarded as made up of separate parts working together according to causal laws means that we are now led to a fundamental change in our general methods of description of nature. Only in the classical limit, where the effects of individual quanta are negligible and where their combined effects can be approximated by a causal description, is it possible to separate the world into distinct parts. Even in the classical limit, we recognize the separation between object and environment is an abstraction. But because each part interacts with the others according to causal laws, we can still give a correct description in this way. In a system whose behavior depends critically on the transfer of a few quanta, however, the separation of the world into parts is a non-permissible abstraction because the very nature of the parts (for instance, wave or particle) depends on factors that cannot be ascribed uniquely to either part, and are not even subject to complete control or prediction.

Thus, by investigating the applicability of the usual classical criteria for analyzing a system into distinct parts, we have been led to the same conclusion as that obtained directly in Chap. 6, Sec. 13: The entire universe must, on some very accurate level, be regarded as a single indivisible unit in which separate parts appear as idealizations permissible only on a classical level of accuracy and description. This means that the view of the world as being analogous to a huge machine, the predominant view from the sixteenth to nineteenth centuries, is now shown to be only approximately correct. The underlying structure of matter, however, is not mechanical.*"


* This means that the term "quantum mechanics" is very much a misnomer. It should, perhaps, be called "quantum nonmechanics."



But Bohm goes on to write down a theoretical realization of this universe, and he does not resort to anything outside of physics, theoretical or experimental, to do it... while a tremendous reach in terms of physical theory, he does not see the need to go beyond in order to describe something which is quite at odds with our "common sense." I don't think his way quite accomplishes what he set out to do, but we can discuss that in more detail... the point is, he views the universe as non-mechanical, but still physical.

I'm surprised that Largo missed that...
FredC

Boulder climber
Santa Cruz, CA
Sep 7, 2011 - 11:46pm PT
It seems there are a couple of approaches to the original "What is Mind" question.

We can think and consider how much we are like computers or digital systems, we can look at what philosophers say, we can maybe get pretty smart doing this.

Or we can consider taking a look at what our mind (or our self) actually is.

The first is like aid climbing, it takes a lot of skills and judgement and such. The second is more like free soloing, you need to be really fit and trained mentally as well as physically.

People have suggested looking directly at our own mind. This suggestion is present in some eastern traditions. It is usually reserved for the "fittest" people.


On another topic, I found myself wanting to respond to Jogill's becoming the thread with my own realization that I was the thread. But after consideration I find that I believe that Jogill has actually become the thread!

WBraun

climber
Sep 8, 2011 - 12:41am PT
There's your answer.

Just let go and and fall down the drain.

One who holds on too long will never learn .......
Largo

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Topic Author's Reply - Sep 8, 2011 - 01:05am PT
the point is, he views the universe as non-mechanical, but still physical.

I'm surprised that Largo missed that...


I didn't miss that, Ed, it's just that Boehm faded from the scene before the next wave came along with "the map is not the territory," arguments that routed pure physicalism as viable to the people who actually got hold of what this meant beyond what the father of general semantics, Alford Korzybski, first had in mind when he used it. The whole qualia/experiential thing changed everything.

Most people can understand the "map" concept at the level of a topo of The Nose not being the Nose itself, or a thought about Paris being different than the capitol in France. But without a deeper understanding of how we only know anything through 1st person experience, people cook up silly mottos like "consciousness IS meat," or the meat brain DOES consciousness, whereby the map IS the terrritory and 1st person experience - which is all we ever have - IS quantifiable material. And when that doesn't fly, the fall back position is that the experience was at any rate entirely "created" by bottom up causation, and lastly, if you don't avow as much you are a hidden proponent of "God."

These, are of course, all circular arguments, but one thing remains certain: you will never know anything other than through your direct, 1st person subject experience, and the inward registering of that experience will always be the most real thing for us.

People argue that there is no such thing as "running," meaning "running" is not a real (physical/measurable) thing, but merely describes the action of a physical body moving through time and space. We could say the same thing about gravity - what's real being bodies with mass in motion, gravity being a by product. Likewise they argue that subjective experience/qualia is not real (physical/measurable) in any primary way, that it is simply what the meat brain "does."

In these cases, qualia and "running" are posited as semantic abstractions or representations of real things - a meat brain and a physical body in motion. No more.

Do you see the problem here?

JL
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Sep 8, 2011 - 01:55am PT
Do you see the problem here?
probably not the the same one you do...
healyje

Trad climber
Portland, Oregon
Sep 8, 2011 - 01:59am PT
Never did, Fruity. It's just that you have a staunch physicalist, bottom up belief in causality that you hold "all or nothing." I don't hold that view.

Fruity? Hmmm, pretty good coming from a guy who can't seem to resolve or even entertain the possibility of brain / mind being analogous to a particle / wave (if you are buying into the complete stretch of consciousness / quantum mechanics).

So far it's pretty hard to ascertain that you hold any particular view at all other than 'meat can't be mind', but then proffer little beyond that beyond endless recitation of 'bottom up causality'. Weak at best from my perspective.

As I said, once folks started looking at the atomic world, they had to devise new methods. Once we start looking past mere processing and into sentience itself, as we live it, not as we model it, I suspect new approaches will be needed to get past the blueprint stage.

Here you seem to have a naive understanding of what forms [biological] 'processing' can take and it's potential (somewhat amazing given you're breathing); seems an uninformed and dismissive mindset at best. And given an fMRI can distinguish between quales and the focus of 'awareness' I'd say your idea that sentience is 'emergent' or apart from the meat is in serious need of rethinking.

Another take on your approach would be you're like Dorothy who has forsaken the Kansas of the meat for the Oz of the mind but who, unlike Dorothy, has no interest in going home having decided it was never all that real to begin with whereas Oz is definitely the shizzle.
Largo

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Topic Author's Reply - Sep 8, 2011 - 04:33am PT
This is my last word on the subject.

Time for new explorations.

The dismissive quips are curious, and putting ideas in my mouth is silly. Just know that people often mistake function for sentience and data processing for consciousness. They also gift the most fantastic experiential properties to matter, though there is nothing in matter suggesting anything beyond miraculous capacities for information processing. This is overcome through the ludicrous notions, in one for or another, that experience IS a function mechanically produced, or at any rate, 1st person subjectivity is meat brain produced somewhat as a trumpet "produces" Taps. Of course this is leaping back to the long ago routed argument that the map IS the territory. Sure, if you drive a steam roller over the trumped - no more Taps. So what.

At least we can agree on one point: That subject, first person experience, and qual (stuff) that enters our subjective orbit, is all we humans can ever know as real. So long as you have a beating heart, that one is incontrovertible. The rest is open for debate.

But as I said about cold fusion being a decade off for a century, if you truly expect a programmer to "create" a machine with subjective, first-person sentience and self determination, I have real estate for you on Mars. Cheap, too.

JL
healyje

Trad climber
Portland, Oregon
Sep 8, 2011 - 05:01am PT
Your notion of 'programming' here is appropriate in that I don't think AI or any form of programming will ever produce 'sentience' or a 'conscious' machine. And offhand, while I think Ray Kurzweil is an interesting guy, ala folks like Dean Kamen, I believe he is so far off the mark relative to AI and neural nets as to be laughable.

The micro architecture of nerves isn't remotely the same as the [functionally differential] macro architecture of brain - we understand the former and barely have a clue about the latter. In particular we don't have much of any idea around how the brain self-organizes and dynamically re-organizes to satisfy various functional needs.

Ray's assertion that by 2019...

The summed computational powers of all computers is comparable to the total brainpower of the human race.

...is likewise ridiculously off the mark and hopelessly misguided from the perspective that ops/sec or ops/watt are somewhat pointless metrics if it takes a million machine watts of processing to accomplish the same task as .0001 watts of brainpower. It's not the 'raw' power that counts, it's how it's functionally organized and optimized for results.

But again, all that meat business aside, that an fMRI can in fact differentiate between and identify subjective quale should tell you that meat and mind are different aspects of the same thing and utterly inseparable. There is no consciousness without meat, not the other way around, and the 'reality' of a spectrum of observable behavior from bacteria to humans supports that assertion. You can philosophize an 'emerged', independent, or universal consciousness all you want - but in the end I suspect we'll give up the notion that our 'experience', 'mind', or 'awareness' is anything but self-aware processing.

Like your trumpet and notes - the note isn't the trumpet and the trumpet isn't the note - the note is the processing of air being blown through the trumpet. No blowing, no note. In your conjecture, laudable as it is, an fMRI wouldn't be able to detect and identify conscious thought or quale.
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Sep 8, 2011 - 11:40am PT
good place for last thoughts on this thread...
sorry to Largo if he took offense at perceived quips.

From my point of view there are a number or vast difficulties confronting the understanding of "mind," and while I have been painted with the brush of closed-mindedness with regards to this "puzzle" let me just restate some of those difficulties.

Largo's central argument is that the subjective experience common to all humans cannot be explained in objective terms.

From there the argument expands to require the inclusion of subjectivity as a major aspect of the human description of the universe. Further, that that subjectivity creates the "universe."

Because of relatively common subjective experiences, the "mind" is not a local phenomena, but is pervasive. This non-locality suggests that the seat of mind is not in the body.

Given the reality of "mind" this set of ideas suggests we need to expand our description of the "universe" to include such phenomena.




The major difficulty with this line of reasoning is the appeal to our common perception of mind and consciousness and eschewing any attempt to define what those things are. My major frustration in my own thinking of this is the issue of unfolding the subjective and the objective parts of the description.

What evidence is there that an objective description is possible? First there are equally common experiences of loss of consciousness associated with the brain. The effects of various chemicals in inducing changes in consciousness that act in physiologically well described manner in the brain. And the evolution of humans, which is a physical process which does not require a subjective explanation.

Evolution is a powerful constraint on various subjective explanations of mind and consciousness. Largo avoided discussing it though I tried to bring it up multiple times. It is the fundamental unifying theory of biology and it has much to say about the development of behavior, of which language, mind, consciousness, etc. must all be a part of, whether or not we have a detailed objective explanation.

The objective approach to explaining mind will be difficult, but separating the important aspects from the unimportant detail is a task that is still in progress. Many will protest that this process will relegate what they perceive to be the most important aspects to the status of irrelevant, and thus miss the point, or at best fail to explain what our mind is all about.

In particular, the objective inquiry may make a thing that seems very special not so special. A common criticism of a scientific outlook by those who value the subjective aspects of our lives, perhaps the most.

Certainly one has to thank Largo for the overly ambitious attempt to discuss this ancient puzzle on the forum.
MH2

climber
Sep 8, 2011 - 12:06pm PT
From Largo's last words on the subject:


That subject, first person experience, and qual (stuff) that enters our subjective orbit, is all we humans can ever know as real.


Of course this is leaping back to the long ago routed argument that the map IS the territory.



The conventional view in neurobiology is that the brain creates maps of the real world. The maps might be visual, auditory, or olfactory maps of the external world, or kinesthetic (or sensorimotor) maps of how brain activity causes the muscles and limbs to move.


These maps can be demonstrated by recording from or stimulating central neurons and observing the responses.


IF your contention is that all we ever know is real is what enters our subjective orbit, then you are saying that these maps ARE the territory. Your personal territory, that is. I don't see any problem there, but I do wonder whether Largo sees what he himself is saying.
healyje

Trad climber
Portland, Oregon
Sep 8, 2011 - 12:14pm PT
Ed, overall, that's much better said than I can state the case, particularly the emotional response to re-framing the exceptional as common.

Certainly one has to thank Largo for the overly ambitious attempt to discuss this ancient puzzle on the forum.

I agree, but in the end, what he was unwilling to discuss was as telling as the direction he steadfastly attempted to steer the conversation. To try and restrict the discussion to a philosophical context of the subjective / objective debate and exclude topics of the evolution and spectrum of behavior, impact of insults to the brain, and the real potential of bio-'processing' seems both one-sided and counterproductive to a rounded understanding of question itself.
GBrown

Trad climber
Los Angeles, California
Sep 10, 2011 - 01:20am PT
Gawd! It may have been a year since I've checked into the SuperTopo forum. I reviewed the 1st page and the last page of this thread. What I get is: NO MOTION. NO CHANGE. A BOGUS STATIC OF OPPOSING FORCES. A vehicle missing on 5 out of 6 cylinders. Choke! Hasta la vista.
jstan

climber
Sep 10, 2011 - 01:37am PT
Gary:
I did not take part in the "philosophy". Search the thread for my posts. I thought some of them were interesting.

http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.php?topic_id=1593650&msg=1596762#msg1596762

http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.php?topic_id=1386860&msg=1578964#msg1578964
GBrown

Trad climber
Los Angeles, California
Sep 10, 2011 - 01:57am PT
Ha! John, hi!!! I would never suspect you of contributing to silliness, philosophic or non-. How are you? The planet is engulfed in "interesting times" -- in the sense of the old Chinese curse: "May you live in interesting times" -- where unlike the usual fare of onerous survival with a hoe against the elements, the Mongol hoards descend like locusts and disturb the monotony -- and friends are like islands of sanity!
ruppell

climber
Sep 10, 2011 - 03:14am PT
What is "Mind?"

Sorry but this is mined

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Coal_mine_Wyoming.jpg
MH2

climber
Sep 11, 2011 - 12:11am PT
Gary Brown!?

Used to drive from Cleveland to the Gunks?


Can silliness oppose a static force?
jstan

climber
Sep 11, 2011 - 12:19am PT
MH2:

It was Gary Molzan and Pete Ramins who drove out from Cleveland. It would have been not a whole lot further had they driven to Yosemite instead.

Edit:
When you mention a short stay at Vassar Bros. something clicks up there, but I don't pull up anything more. I don't think either Gary or Pete ever fell.
MH2

climber
Sep 11, 2011 - 12:25am PT
Thanks.

It helps to know when your memory has a glitch.


I think the Cleveland Browns may be the intermediary.


edit:

Did one of those 2 spend a short time in Vassar Bros Hospital in Poughkeepsie?
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Sep 11, 2011 - 02:00pm PT
I'm not sure that that is a correct analysis, Riley, though I'd have to work on it a bit more...

let's talk about the situation now, without considering the past or the future. As I've posted above (though now lost in the wonderful bit-sphere) the universe works wonderfully as a physical system we can describe based on our observations, theories, etc, with no need for "supernatural" i.e. unphysical, phenomena.

However our minds think up all sorts of crazy stuff, stuff that is not physical. As long as it stays that way, as thoughts, we're good to go with the separation of the physical universe and the unphysical universe... that is, perhaps we could contemplate a more complex place where the mind bridges the two.

The question I've always wondered about is why this is not sufficient for those who believe in those places, that is, why do they need the empirical validation that the "other side of the bridge" is anything more than what we think. But they do...

The problem with the "reality" of that place is that it depends on the mind. The mind is the product of an evolutionary process, which is physical in all respects, and extended through time at a scale as to be unrecognized by mind. There is a time when there was no mind, and that time will come again with the extinction of our species (and like species). The evolution of mind is but one set of adaptations that do not negatively effect (on a statistical level) the existence of our species.

So whether or not that place exists which our "mind" bridges to, it is a place that depends on mind to exist.

Now one could say that the entirety of existence is actually constructed to appear as if it is scientifically and philosophically self consistent, but is different than what we perceive it to be. That our current understanding might prohibit that sort of construction is based on the construction, and so misleads us from understanding "the truth." Then we have nothing but our "belief" to guide us. But even that is subject to manipulation in the construction.

If the scientific viewpoint is nihilistic, this "constructionist" viewpoint could be viewed as simply cruel... if not that, than it has a tinge of immoralism.
jstan

climber
Sep 11, 2011 - 02:45pm PT
Ed pretty well sums it up.

However our minds think up all sorts of crazy stuff, stuff that is not physical. As long as it stays that way, as thoughts, we're good to go with the separation of the physical universe and the unphysical universe... that is, perhaps we could contemplate a more complex place where the mind bridges the two.

The question I've always wondered about is why this is not sufficient for those who believe in those places, that is, why do they need the empirical validation that the "other side of the bridge" is anything more than what we think. But they do...



The chemical processes going on in the brain are quite real. But are they accurate? Entirely apart from this discussion, each of us does real experiments each day to make sure our brains are accurately interpreting our sensory signals. When in doubt we reach out and touch to get a confirming signal.

We can't do that with some brain outputs. Under question are the brain outputs that are created by other brain outputs. Brain activity not associated with the sensory organs.

We live in fear that our brains are not working. So on ST we look for some way to confirm the unconfirmable, using an organ we don't basically trust to begin with.

I mean really. How supportable is that proposition?

Many pages back I offered an answer to this problem. We are a pack animal and we back stop each other. We say:

"Tell me. Do you think I am crazy to do "...... whatever?

In order to avoid accepting we are a pack animal, we dream up other brain efforts in hopes they can confirm the unconfirmable, using a brain we fear is gone haywire.




Sorry. This whole thread is haywire.

Several people have presented this same objection and it has been ignored.

Maybe this resistance to looking at the obvious is the needed data.




Proving we really do have some malfunction.
paul roehl

Boulder climber
california
Sep 11, 2011 - 03:08pm PT
Why or really how would evolutionary processes develop sensory apparatus for the purpose of self deception?

Where is the "I" between two thoughts?

We find ourselves alive in this strange existence confronted with love and hate, beauty and horror, sorrow and happiness, and always near to us the anxiety of anticipation and the dread of our own inevitable annihilation.

As well, we find ourselves compelled by curiosity as to what we are, how we got here and what our lives mean, if anything.

We are overwhelmed by the sublime nature of the “mysterium tremendum et fascinans” and so demand, through a host of anthropomorphic deities, a reconciliation to our existential dilemma.

The very structure of our minds both forms and reflects our understanding and curiosity with regard to the natural world.

Reason is a product of the construction of our minds; our minds like our senses are the products of natural forces and an evolution that favors us as the survivors of a long struggle for viability. How is it that evolution would favor sensory perception that deceives us? Survival itself dictates the accuracy of our senses! Can’t we say the same for reason?

Reason, not unlike our sensory perception, is a natural mechanism that favors our success as inhabitants of this world. Why would we abandon it except as a path to reconcile ourselves to what we think we simply cannot abide?

And more to the point, why would a god give us a “reason” that so favors our success and yet so often stands vehemently against the faith many say he demands?

Nobody can, and nobody wants to, argue against a god that can be anything; certainly all possibilities are possible. What god might be or when and how god might function beyond being is a fascinating question but perhaps that fascination may elicit too easily the abandonment of reason for the pleasure, fascination and reconciliation allowed by faith.

Unfortunately the sleep of reason too often produces monsters.
healyje

Trad climber
Portland, Oregon
Sep 11, 2011 - 03:42pm PT
Five inch Siberian salamanders can remain frozen solid at temps down to -35c for years and then regain consciousness and walk away when thawed. Where is their consciousness stored while frozen solid and how does it know the meat has been thawed?
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Sep 11, 2011 - 03:57pm PT
Mr. Smith tells them...
Marlow

Sport climber
OSLO
Sep 11, 2011 - 04:07pm PT
All possibilities are possible, but some possibilities are extremely low probability while others are extremely high probability.

The believers act as if high and low probability did not exist.

"There are angels" are spoken of as if "there are angels" is of the same probability as "there are no angels". "Thoughts and feelings are nonphysical phenomenons" are seen as having the same probability as "thoughts and feelings are of a physical nature". The first formulation is seen as just as clear and of the same "weight" as the second. Language is seducing us. If we every time a new hypothesis were expressed had to take probability into consideration the discussion would be clearer, at least every time we are talking about a very low probability hypothesis. The discussion should be about the probability of and the ways to test the hypothesis. And testing is never spoken of because the belivers are only searching for confirmation and anything that confirms the belief is good enough and anything that falsifies the belief is ignored.

When we can use our heads on hypothesis that can be tested empirically, why use our heads on very very low probability hypothesis that cannot be tested, only believed or not believed?

healyje: You make a lot of sense. I guess that is why Largo seldom answers your questions. It seems like he prefers to answer the more speculative posts that are at his own level of abstraction.

Neither has he given a 10 sec experience example yet.
Largo

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Topic Author's Reply - Sep 11, 2011 - 04:25pm PT
However our minds think up all sorts of crazy stuff, stuff that is not physical. As long as it stays that way, as thoughts, we're good to go with the separation of the physical universe and the unphysical universe.

Here is the heart and soul of the physicalist belief system, clearly stated by Ed.

Basically, we have "reality," which is based on matter or sense data. Then we have the "crazy stuff" which is non-matter but harmless enough since it/they are "only" mental apparitions, lacking the heft and authenticity of physical matter-of-fact shite.

The "hard question" introduced from the whole qualia gig is that the "real" shite is only known through direct 1st person experience, a process that to us humans is more "real" and authentic than the sense data/physical shite that we hold as the High Lama or Golden Fleece of reality. This first person experiencing is not a physical "thing" in the normal sense of the word, it is rather a subjective process by which we come to know ourselves, the world and the world of "crazy stuff," all qual that is processed alike by "mind."

Of course giving an inch to the simple experiential fact that 1st person subjective experience is NOT, in and of itself, a physical thing, is a non-starter to a physicalist, hence we see all the scrambling around that qualia is all good and fine but "it" (the lives they actually experience) is after all "produced" by an evolved meat brain and that qualia, or 1st person experience is simply "what the evolved meat brain does." Then you brace yourself for all the AI, digital modeling and tri-processing concepts that "explain" consciousness at a mechanical function that had we the facts, we could reengineer back to atomic level processes from which your conscious life directly emerges. I referred to this as the "broadcast" model of consciousness, whereby the evolved meat brain broadcasts both the 1st person, subjective flow we all identify as out real lives, and also the "watcher" or self-referential agency which is just a snazzy digital mirroring device. If you doubt this model, just pour some whisky into the works, or bang the meat brain with a hammer and notice the quality of the broadcast changes immediatly. Ergo the "mind" is in some way an emergent quality of matter. That's the story.

The "hard problem" with this story is that the broadcast model builds on purely physical observations and occurrences that we see all around us and everyday, where one physical thing leads to another physical thing. We don't see a physical thing producing a non-physical thing, though we see physical things creating effects like gravity and so forth, but nowhere do we see physical things "producing" someone remotely like qualia. This doesn't mean we have to consider our lives and 1st person experience as "special," but the fact remains that mechanistic models can describe processing and info crunching capacities, and can even postulate ideas about cellular underpinnings to "mind," but these 3rd person objectifications are not qualia, and to this we can can only fail to see the "hard problem" if we fail to experience the 1st person subjective bubble we live in and always will, and so much physical stuff "caused" by preceding physical processes.

In other words, a strictly mechanical causal description will always overlook or attempt to explain away (mater IS mind) the 1st person experiential subjective process you experience as you read this, as itself being a "thing" or a mechanical broadcast.

Fact is, by the physicalists definition, qualia, or the lives we actually experience and live are so much "crazy stuff" while the mechanical shenanigans some believe entirely create said craziness are held to be "real."

Funny stuff . . .


JL
healyje

Trad climber
Portland, Oregon
Sep 11, 2011 - 05:05pm PT
Largo: ....but nowhere do we see physical things "producing" someone remotely like qualia

If you bothered to read the link from pages back you'd see that fMRI studies can detect your current qualia by monitoring physical processes - i.e. qualia aren't 'things', but rather processes. If qualia were as spooky as you posit, there would be no way to detect / infer them from the output of an fMRI.

And so where is the salamander's consciousness stored while frozen...? Maybe, just maybe, consciousness only 'exists' as active neural processes - 'emergent' from your perspective; simply what that neural processing 'is' and designed to 'produce' to me and others (i.e. the salamander for one). And, if consciousness only exists simultaneously and concurrent to neural processing, then the distinction of what qualia and 1st person subjective experience 'is' hardly seems worth the electrons to quibble over.
Marlow

Sport climber
OSLO
Sep 11, 2011 - 05:13pm PT
Largo.

You say
"In other words, a strictly mechanical causal description will always overlook or attempt to explain away (mater IS mind) the 1st person experiential subjective process you experience as you read this, as itself being a "thing" or a mechanical broadcast."

I think you are now trying to expaining away the high probability physical explanation of the 1st person experiental process you experience as you read this. Why?

I am not talking simple cause and effect. It may end up with other models at some level, maybe complexity models or models including waves will be part of the explanation, but simple serial causation along one chain of cause and effect it will surely not be. There is no reason to hold a simple stereotypical view of the physical world. The weather is a good example.

And now please exemplify by showing us the 10 sec.
WBraun

climber
Sep 11, 2011 - 05:37pm PT
How is it that modern science can't even figure a simple thing like "mind".

Ya all have one don't ya?

Or maybe modern science doesn't have one .......
healyje

Trad climber
Portland, Oregon
Sep 11, 2011 - 05:43pm PT
WBraun: Or maybe modern science doesn't have one .......

....... sure it does, science just doesn't have the upgrade that keeps it working after its meat stops.
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Sep 11, 2011 - 10:32pm PT
hey, Largo's back even though he was "done" with this thread...
he wrote:
"The 'hard question' introduced from the whole qualia gig is that the 'real' shite is only known through direct 1st person experience..."


which is not correct, if it is a 'hard question,' it is because we all agree that there is something to it, that is distinctly a consensus view.

While we do have first person experiences, we are totally convinced that other individuals have them too, and we get together and talk about it, and share those experiences and see what is common. I could not prove that Largo is conscious, has a mind or even first person experiences. The only way I know that he does is that he looks human, and he communicates those experiences to me in a way that I understand.

My conclusion is that he has consciousness, he has a mind, he has a sense of what a "first person experience" is... my conclusion is most likely correct.

Now this comparison is an interesting thing... not all experience is shared, and not all of what we experience actually is true... if I'm drinking at a bar, and I go to drive my friends home, they may have a different opinion about my capability to do that then I do... "hey, I'm fine, nothing to it" and perhaps I'd make the bad judgement to do it... but my experience at the moment, first person and all, tells me that it's no problem...

In science, while Isaac Newton had a whole lot of ideas on a range of intellectual, religious, spiritual, technological topics, I don't really know what his experiences were, with the exception of what he wrote down regarding science. Because of the description of the experiments he performed, the quantitative description, I can reproduce what he did exactly, or certainly I can quantify just how exactly... I even can know how well he could have done. We can agree across centuries on this...

...not so his religious ideas, which are rooted in the culture he knew and grew up in... while I can read what he wrote, I cannot determine with any measure how close I come to understanding that writing, I can read a lot of other period pieces, sort of try to get an overall idea, but my cultural experiences, my "first person" stuff, get in the way of really getting what he's got to say. Certainly not like reproducing his experiments...

My point in all this is we don't just have "first person experience," we have a consensus experience. We all understand that our "first person experience" can dominate our views, but we also do not take that to such an extreme as to say everyone else is a zombie... because they don't have my particular first person experience...

jogill

climber
Colorado
Sep 11, 2011 - 10:40pm PT
I thought I was dead
but it seems I am not.
My dad’s final word
gave birth to new thought!

I feel I’m alive,
reborn in a way
Perhaps I may strive
to frolic and play!

The riddle’s new test:
Sly soul or mere meat?
No . . . where did I rest?
And where is delete?

Norwegian

Trad climber
Placerville, California
Sep 11, 2011 - 10:58pm PT
f*#k them ind,
im studying my feet.
TGT

Social climber
So Cal
Sep 11, 2011 - 11:09pm PT
Didn't Kurt Godel have something to say about this? (indirectly)

Is there an inherent intractable problem with something defining itself? (mind)
MH2

climber
Sep 11, 2011 - 11:15pm PT
It's been said that it can be hard to see what is in front of your face. Is it so hard to see what's behind your face?

The mind is a bundle of solutions to the problems of movement. Movement toward food and away from predators.

Life which moves has a nervous system, life which is rooted doesn't.

The tunicate is an example of the ancestral vertebrate. The larvae are free-swimming and have sensory organs and a notochord. The larvae soon attach to a substrate and become sessile. As they mature into the adult form they digest what passes for their brain. It's only use now is meat.

Evolution has coughed up a weird one in the human case, but all our mental faculties are basically there for figuring out where to go and what to do.

Only we live in such leaden times that we need only go to the refrigerator and capture whatever doesn't get out of the way fast enough. Our formidable mental processing power is idling.

Climbing helps set us aright.
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Sep 11, 2011 - 11:48pm PT
TGT, it was about axiomatic systems...
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gödel's_incompleteness_theorems

to quote:
Gödel's second incompleteness theorem can be stated as follows:
For any formal effectively generated theory T including basic arithmetical truths and also certain truths about formal provability, T includes a statement of its own consistency if and only if T is inconsistent.
"

not so arcane, e.g.: "This sentence is false."



Wayno

Big Wall climber
Seattle, WA
Sep 12, 2011 - 12:00am PT
Does mind exist beyond the scope of our purely human observations?
Wayno

Big Wall climber
Seattle, WA
Sep 12, 2011 - 12:05am PT
Quick... Why is there something and not nothing? :^)
Captain...or Skully

climber
or some such
Sep 12, 2011 - 12:18am PT
Is there something? We could ALL be a dream.
Wayno

Big Wall climber
Seattle, WA
Sep 12, 2011 - 12:24am PT
A dream is something, ain't it?
Captain...or Skully

climber
or some such
Sep 12, 2011 - 12:26am PT
Sometimes, it's everything.
Captain...or Skully

climber
or some such
Sep 12, 2011 - 12:40am PT
There are also those we just wish someone had dreamed. Those poor bastards.
Shutup & get some pants, joxie.
You obviously don't get it.
Largo

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Topic Author's Reply - Sep 12, 2011 - 12:55am PT
Now you guys aren't tackling the hard question at all, you're simply skirting it by repeating ad nauseum how matter IS mind or that mind is what this particular matter "does." Saying that digital models are essentially the same thing as experience is pitiful.

Ed says this:
My point in all this is we don't just have "first person experience," we have a consensus experience. We all understand that our "first person experience" can dominate our views, but we also do not take that to such an extreme as to say everyone else is a zombie... because they don't have my particular first person experience...



Now where has Ed lost touch with reality here - and I DO NOT say this meaning harm or disrespect. But there is a fundamental dislocate and thought distortion here that has taken many, many posts for me to finally rout out. And IMO, it is just this:

Now Ed says two things: A) We don't just have "first person experience." "Don't" here can only denote that we have some else beyond or before our 1st person, subjective experience, but in fact we never do. We don't have 2nd or 3rd person subjective experiences of ourselves, and when our left brain objectifies something making, for instance, our own minds objects of study, the thoughts and notions generated are merely qual or articles that pass through our field of awareness. We can never escape our 1st person subjective bubble while we are breathing, ergo "consensus experience" is information, and any and all information is to us humans, made real and is known only through or subjective bubble. There is no stuff or objective matter of fact granitic ju ju out there that is ever know or experienced as anything BUT qual, or articles of our experience. We get this "library" kind of mind set imagining that the "real" stuff is exactly that vast catalogue of quantifiable material that flows through our experience, but that experience is not the stuff itself. I am not suggesting that there is no reality, material or otherwise, beyond our
experience, but the only way we ever know as much is when said stuff become items of our experience.

Lastly, when Ed says that "first person experience" can dominate our views," this implies that we, as breathing human beings, have, encounter or somehow experience a "view" that is other than 1st person, when in fact first person experience IS our one and only view. Where I believe Ed looses his way here is in falsely equating 1st person subjective as having something to do with sensations or beliefs or feelings and such, when in fact these things are merely more qual, along with thoughts about digital processing, the idea that the meat brain DOES mind and so forth - all qual. 1st person subjective means that human experience occurs to a subject, us, and that experiential flow is known directly, 1st person, meaning we are the first and only beings who experience our lives.

I've tried to quit this thread five times already.

JL
WBraun

climber
Sep 12, 2011 - 12:59am PT
"I've tried to quit this thread five times already. JL"

There's no escape .....
Mighty Hiker

climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Sep 12, 2011 - 01:09am PT
Perhaps this thread is a partial proof of 'mind'.
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Sep 12, 2011 - 01:11am PT
so Largo, the fact that your first person experiences and my first person experiences, and their concordance as arrived at by our discussion, have nothing to do with anything?

if not, then why are we discussing this?

TWP

Trad climber
Mancos, CO
Sep 12, 2011 - 01:21am PT

My comments derive from an assumption that "Big Bang" Theory is correct. Our observable universe began at a definite point of time from an infinitely small point of space and has changed, expanded and evolved into its current form ever since.

From that single point of space and time, the first observable matter and energy gave no hint of the complexity that what would come into being from this primordinal soup. It's a long way and a lot change and evolution from that primordinal soup to the universe 13.4 billion years hence. For example, all nuclear forms of matter (hydrogen, helium, etc.) only came into being long after the "Big Bang." They "evolved" too, as did stars, galaxies, etc.

Are the "mind" and "consciousness" displayed by animals and humans yet another material complexity that simply, inevitably and "naturally" comes into being as the universe evolves?

Whether this "mind" and "consciousness" now on display in life forms bears a relationship to some universal mind and consciousness that existed before or contemporaneously with the "big bang" may be unknowable in a scientific sense - at least at this point in time of our development of the "human" form of mind and consciousness, with its limitations given our early stage in the evolution of autonomous beings (i.e. separate and apart from the "mind" of a hypothetical "original mind" extant contemporaneously with the "Big Bang").

Perhaps I saying the same thing as Eric Beck who posted as follows:

"Consciousness is a fundamental property of matter, like mass or charge. It only manifests itself in structures of considerable complexity, i.e. brains. Evolution is development of more elaborate brains and concomitant higher consciousness."
healyje

Trad climber
Portland, Oregon
Sep 12, 2011 - 01:27am PT
Largo: Saying that digital models are essentially the same thing as experience is pitiful.

Only the naive or deliberately dismissive would ever consider what the brain does in the context of "digital models".

You can keep attempting to separate content (qual) from mind (experience / processing), but from my perspective it is an artificial distinction whose only utility is to your argument. I would posit there is no distinction between experience and content at all - it's all experience.
WBraun

climber
Sep 12, 2011 - 01:30am PT
"Consciousness is a fundamental property of matter, ..."

No

Consciousness is a fundamental property of the individual soul, and the supersoul.

It's the fundamental property of every living entity not just humans and animals.

It's very simple .... life comes from life.

Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Sep 12, 2011 - 11:18am PT
TWP -

 the "Big Bang" is a singularity in time, at that moment, all of space existed

 the last 10 years have seen a complete change in our view of the material composition of the universe, the majority of the universe, at this time, is something called "Dark Energy," at about 74%, the next largest fraction is "Dark Matter" at 22%, the remaining 4% is the stuff we are made out of... we have candidates for "Dark Matter," "Dark Energy" is something that we have no real utilitarian ideas about.

 Evolution is not something which is guided by "improvement," every living thing is the result of the survival of it's ancestors, and all of those individuals are evolutionary equal. To say that the evolution of mind is a particularly superior adaptation one would have to see it's adoption by many other species. We continue to live in a world dominated by single cell life, and are utterly dependent on that life. Perhaps if you expand your notions to include the Gaia Hypothesis you might make an argument for organized "intelligence" but none is needed.

 Claiming that consciousness is a "fundamental property of matter" would require a definition of consciousness. No such definition has yet to be accepted on this particular thread.
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Sep 12, 2011 - 11:22am PT
here's a STForum puzzler for this thread, for this day...

Identify the author of this copy:

"Wisconsin jumped out to an early lead and never looked back in a 51-17 win over UNLV on Thursday at Camp Randall Stadium.
The Badgers scored 20 points in the first quarter on a Russell Wilson touchdown pass, a Montee Ball touchdown run and a James White touchdown run.
Wisconsin’s offense dominated the Rebels’ defense. The Badgers racked up 499 total yards in the game including 258 yards passing and 251 yards on the ground.
Ball ran for 63 yards and three touchdowns for the Badgers. He also caught two passes for 67 yards and a touchdown.
Wilson completed 10-of-13 passes for 255 for Wisconsin. He threw two touchdowns and no interceptions.
Caleb Herring threw for 146 yards on 18-of-27 passing. Herring tossed two touchdowns and no interceptions.
UNLV had 292 total yards. In addition to Herring’s efforts through the air, the running game also contributed 146 yards for the Rebels.
THIRD QUARTER
Wisconsin appears to be in the driver’s seat en route to a win, as it leads 51-10 after the third quarter.
Wisconsin added to its lead when Russell Wilson found Jacob Pedersen for an eight-yard touchdown to make the score 44-3. The Badgers started the drive at UNLV’s 28-yard line thanks to a Jared Abbrederis punt return.
A one-yard touchdown run by Montee Ball capped off a two-play, 42-yard drive and extended Wisconsin’s lead to 51-3. The drive took 42 seconds. The key play on the drive was a 41-yard pass from Wilson to Bradie Ewing. A punt return gave the Badgers good starting field position at UNLV’s 42-yard line.
A 69-yard drive that ended when Caleb Herring found Phillip Payne from six yards out helped UNLV narrow the deficit to 51-10. The Rebels threw just three passes on the drive.
UNLV will start the fourth quarter with the ball at the 41-yard line.
HALFTIME
Wisconsin looks to be in control of the game as it leads 34-3 at the end of the second quarter.
Wisconsin expanded its lead to 27-0 when Montee Ball ran for a one-yard touchdown to finish a four-play, 65-yard drive. The key play on the drive was a 63-yard pass from Russell Wilson to Ball.
UNLV closed the gap to 27-3 when Nolan Kohorst finished off the 12-play, 64-yard drive with a 37-yard field goal.
Russell Wilson ran for a 46-yard touchdown to extend Wisconsin’s lead to 34-3. The Badgers scored in 31 seconds.
Wisconsin extended its lead to 34-3 when Kyle French kicked a 29-yard field goal to cap a two-play 47-yard drive. The Badgers scored with no time remaining in the quarter.
The Rebels will get the ball to start the second half.
FIRST QUARTER
Montee Ball ran seven times for 66 yards and one touchdown and caught a four-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter and Wisconsin leads UNLV 20-0.
Wisconsin opened the scoring when Russell Wilson threw a four-yard touchdown pass to Montee Ball to cap off a seven-play, 65-yard drive.
A 22-yard touchdown run by Montee Ball helped the Badgers extend their lead to 13-6. All 56 yards on the drive came on the ground.
Wisconsin added to its lead after James White pounded in a one-yard touchdown run to finish off an eight-play, 80-yard drive.
UNLV will start the second quarter with the ball on its 40-yard line."
Reilly

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Sep 12, 2011 - 11:32am PT
Even the KGB believed enough in ESP to devote considerable resources to its
exploitation. I have experienced it and it was demonstrably not subjective.
I'm not talking about Yuri Geller nonsense, either. Now, a computer can often
beat me at chess but it can't read my mind. Ha, that just reminded me of
the Soviet Chess machine's efforts to influence matches telepathically.
Of course, they had a very susceptible target in Bobby Fischer.
Karl Baba

Trad climber
Yosemite, Ca
Sep 12, 2011 - 11:49am PT
In the philosophy of Kashmir Shaivism they define the mind Thus:
=
Universal consciousness becomes the mind by contracting in accordance with the object perceived.
=

The brain is just like a TV set, tuning in waves of Mind into our earth suit. Sure if you pull the plug, the show goes off but the waves are still there.

PEace

Karl
jogill

climber
Colorado
Sep 12, 2011 - 01:46pm PT
If thread had a mind
would thread not recall
those things that were said
so early this fall?

Godel's little jewel
cropped up once before
but who cares a whit
let's hear it once more!

Einstein's terse comment
turned into a cult
where we try once again
for another result!

If I had a body
I'd pick up and go
this turmoil is nonsense
a circular show!

I've gone 'round the bend
dad, heed my sad plea:
search for delete
and press the damn key!

Love, Thread
healyje

Trad climber
Portland, Oregon
Sep 12, 2011 - 01:49pm PT
That's the best and potentially most productive post of the entire thread.
TWP

Trad climber
Mancos, CO
Sep 12, 2011 - 02:42pm PT
Reply to Ed H. who wrote,

"To say that the evolution of mind is a particularly superior adaptation one would have to see it's adoption by many other species."

I wrote in my original post on this thread, "Are the 'mind' and 'consciousness' displayed by animals and humans …" (Emphasis added).

Ergo, I do believe and did state that other species have "mind." This "mind" and its quality of consciousness has evolved. And yes, I believe this is "a particularly superior adaptation."

In my book, any species with a "brain" has a foundation for evolution into a form possessing a "mind." The sophistication of that brain and mind varies. Describing the dividing line between "brain with mind" and "brain not-yet-having-mind" should be attempted by someone with intimate knowledge of the biology of this subject - and that's not me! Roughly speaking, I think all mammals have "brain with mind" of a highly advanced character.

I am aware of advancement in "Big Bang" theory to include Dark Matter, etc. To my knowledge, none of that advancement contradicts what I am saying. Are you saying it does?
healyje

Trad climber
Portland, Oregon
Sep 12, 2011 - 03:09pm PT
Describing the dividing line between "brain with mind" and "brain not-yet-having-mind" ...

It should be noted that neither brains nor minds are necessary for living organisms to exhibit 'behavior', though brains do appear to be necessary for consciousness.
jstan

climber
Sep 12, 2011 - 03:37pm PT
Links to the Penrose/Hameroff theory for consciousness and to Gamma waves.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gamma_wave
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orch-OR

Earlier I had speculated that bits of information probably can cross between closely neighboring fibers. The following excerpt from the first link goes into brain wide synchonization as the mechanism associated with a “precept” entering the conscious state.

“The proposed answer lies in a wave that originating in the thalamus, sweeps the brain from front to back, 40 times per second, drawing different neuronal circuits into synch with the precept, and thereby bringing the precept into the attentional foreground. If the thalamus is damaged even a little bit, this wave stops, conscious awarenesses do not form, and the patient slips into profound coma.[4]”

The second link discusses microstructure within the cell, something I had noted earlier, and then offers spatial reasons why these might support quantum tunneling and even

even

a Bose Einstein Condensate!

We might actually have such a condensate on this thread, as has been suggested by master Gill. No matter what we type, it all seems to condense into one place.

If it were not for the fact I once listened to a cogent APS paper arguing human sensory organs are quantum limited, I would say “Quantum” is now becoming little more than a sound byte.

But I seem to be forced more and more toward the edge of my imagination…………

Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Sep 12, 2011 - 09:29pm PT
it wasn't written by a human.. it was written, in real time, by a computer...

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/11/business/computer-generated-articles-are-gaining-traction.html

Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Sep 12, 2011 - 09:44pm PT
TWP - imprinted on the Cosmic Microwave Background are the fluctuations of what was going on "before" the Big Bang... so maybe there is a way of knowing what happened before...

as for consciousness, you haven't defined it either... perhaps all animals with a brain possess it to some degree, perhaps some organizations of animals without much of a brain (e.g. ants) may have a collective organization akin to it...

...or maybe even more than that.

But certainly if you look around you and the great extinction happening, you might be right to say that our minds allow us a certain mastery over all other life on the planet... not that our fate as a species is to populate the planet forever....
Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
And every fool knows, a dog needs a home, and...
Sep 12, 2011 - 09:48pm PT
it wasn't written by a human.. it was written, in real time, by a computer...

Pretty funny Ed. Nicely played.

Soon (like, today) we can have NewsBots scan the ReporterBots for the bits of computer generated word patterns that pique our interest, have the NewsBots summarize the ReporterBot input and then text it to us so that during the middle of our executive meeting (conducted remotely, of course) we can stay tuned to truly important things like college football scores.

Most data goes unconsumed...

DMT
eeyonkee

Trad climber
Golden, CO
Sep 12, 2011 - 10:38pm PT
as for consciousness, you haven't defined it either... perhaps all animals with a brain possess it to some degree, perhaps some organizations of animals without much of a brain (e.g. ants) may have a collective organization akin to it...

...or maybe even more than that.

But certainly if you look around you and the great extinction happening, you might be right to say that our minds allow us a certain mastery over all other life on the planet... not that our fate as a species is to populate the planet forever....
I gotta say, I love Ed - more often than not he comes up with better explanations of why I believe the way I do than I do myself.

I come away from this thread with a stronger belief in my world stance - that anything that smacks of the supernatural or mystical or universal mind or something is unnecessary and wrong-headed thinking.

Of all of the things that exasperate me the most on this subject is the inference that the "merely mechanistic" is somehow less interesting and/or profound than the spiritual or religious or metaphysical ideas conjured up by us humans. Seems to me, it is clearly the other way around. The more we learn about about the natural world, the more it proves to be infinitely more interesting and profound than any of the spiritual or philosophical constructs that we humans have ever come up with.
WBraun

climber
Sep 12, 2011 - 11:08pm PT
Even a blade of grass has consciousness ......
High Fructose Corn Spirit

Gym climber
-A community of hairless apes
Sep 12, 2011 - 11:22pm PT
ee, you're pretty good with words yourself, tfpu.
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Sep 13, 2011 - 01:48am PT
Largo's tried to divorce himself from this thread, but he cannot, and he also feels he can't kill it... so here is a cross post of sorts:

It is certain that the combinations which present themselves to the mind in a kind of sudden illumination after a somewhat prolonged period of unconscious work are generally useful and fruitful combinations... all the combinations are formed as a result of the automatic action of the subliminal ego, but those only which are interesting find their way into the field of consciousness... A few only are harmonious, and consequently at once useful and beautiful, and they will be capable of affecting the geometrician's special sensibility I have been speaking of; which, once aroused, will direct our attention upon them, and will thus give them the opportunity of becoming conscious... In the subliminal ego, on the contrary, there reigns what I would call liberty, if one could give this name to the mere absence of discipline and to disorder born of chance."

-Henri Poincaré Science and Method 1914


Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Sep 13, 2011 - 02:49am PT
ah Donald... maybe if you had produced such wonderful mathematics and science we'd give you a pass for your adolescent conceits too...

Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Sep 13, 2011 - 03:02am PT
I don't get a pass...
Largo

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Topic Author's Reply - Sep 13, 2011 - 11:02pm PT
You can keep attempting to separate content (qual) from mind (experience / processing), but from my perspective it is an artificial distinction whose only utility is to your argument. I would posit there is no distinction between experience and content at all - it's all experience.


You've lost your way. Seeing the basics is hard, but doable.

Your "experience" is the overall Gestalt, the whole Mo Fo, all the parts included, and that includes the ever slippery 1st person subjective shizat of HAVING experience in real time - qualia, a word I'm coming to hate.

Differentiating "experience" as such is a totally different thing than saying (as I mentioned), quite falsely, that "running" is something different from and beyond the movements of a moving body through time and space. This is the logic you're using to frame your "experience and content are the same," and the now tired "meat brain does consciousness."

"Experience" is different than content because self awareness is not content, but the net through which content passes, and which, though ungraspable, is always with us so long as we are "sane."
I think you're not getting the basic concept that awareness has no inherent content, and that the "watcher" is entirely "empty," to use Zen phraseology. Something that has no qualities or content can hardly be said to exist - and that's the paradox right there. Our most basic "I" has no content beyond boundless compassion - that's why "God" often gets dragged into these discussions.

In fact, you're half right - the duality between experience and what you experience can be overcome during boundary experiences or out on the sharp end, but it's equally true to say that all content is impermanent, that we are NOT our feelings and thoughts, and the "emptiness" or no-mind is our true nature.

Go figure . . .

JL
MH2

climber
Sep 13, 2011 - 11:10pm PT
Your "experience" is the overall Gestalt, the who Mo Fo, all the parts included, and that includes the ever slippery 1st person subjective shizat of HAVING experience in real time



"Experience" is different than content because self awareness is not content, but the net through which content passes, and which, though ungraspable, is always with us so long as we are "sane."



I think you're not getting the basic concept that awareness has no inherent content, and that the "watcher" is entirely "empty," to use Zen phraseology. Something that has no qualities or content can hardly be said to exist - and that's the paradox right there.



Trolling with koan?


"It consists of a story, dialogue, question, or statement, the meaning of which cannot be understood by rational thinking but may be accessible through intuition."
healyje

Trad climber
Portland, Oregon
Sep 13, 2011 - 11:56pm PT
"Experience" is different than content because self awareness is not content, but the net through which content passes, and which, though ungraspable, is always with us so long as we are "sane."

Au contraire, I'd say you're the one still not getting it and that the underlined phrase above is the sticking point. I summarily disagree with that and the follow-on assertions that "self-awareness is not content" and that 'it' is "ungraspable". I would again posit "content" and "experience" are expressions of a duality wherein each is simultaneous both 'content' and 'processing' and one is no different than the other.
Marlow

Sport climber
OSLO
Sep 14, 2011 - 02:34am PT
FortMental

The sophism is very clear. The sophists were proud they could sell anything to anybody within a crowd.

If Largo exemplifies - then he could have a chance to start making sense. If he does not exemplify I have to conclude - all those words were only empty sophism. But I still have a feeling that he is trying to say something, so it is up to you Largo, exemplify and you have the chance to start saying something instead of all those empty phrases.
Paul Martzen

Trad climber
Fresno
Sep 14, 2011 - 02:54am PT
Thanks for that summation of phrases Fort Mental. I was thinking along the same lines that these phrases are very much "Top down", "Teacher to dull student", "Superior to inferior". I very much appreciate those who give their ideas as if to equals and without arrogance or reprimands.
Largo

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Topic Author's Reply - Sep 14, 2011 - 03:16am PT
For starters, if you don't think I'm going to troll people on this thread, you're dead ass wrong. I get hosed by most everyone here for not being a physicalist, so take your licks and like it you panty wastes. And I don't take this all that seriously either. It is, after all, all talk.

H said: But, Au contraire, I'd say you're the one still not getting it and that the underlined phrase above is the sticking point. I summarily disagree with that and the follow-on assertions that "self-awareness is not content" and that 'it' is "ungraspable".

Raw awareness is just that - the experiential faculty of being aware. In the sense that awareness is a net - metaphorically speaking - that "grasps" thoughts and sights and sounds and memories (content) as they arise, by what manner do you, unaided, in your direct, 1st person subject experience, "grasp" raw awareness. And of course I'm not talking about rigging up a pet scan or qEEG and looking at the output of the meat brain and saying that I am grasping awareness. What's more, once you grasp your self awareness, the very heart of the "faceless witness," what content or qualities to you see belonging to awareness which is not just other qual in the net?

Have fun.

Of course I fully expect you to default out into digital babble or machine talk but I hold out hope that "you" can describe how you can experientially grasp awareness. And no, you cannot say that by grasping content you are also grasping awareness, them being the same thing. That's crapola and you know it.

JL
healyje

Trad climber
Portland, Oregon
Sep 14, 2011 - 03:34am PT
Of course I fully expect you to default out into digital babble or machine talk...

Again you persist with this form of naive / dismissive 'digital' and 'machine' talk even after I've repeatedly stated I don't believe it will ever be possible to build such machines - digital or otherwise. The level of meat complexity at even the neuron/synapse level is so far beyond those relatively weak concepts as to be pretty laughable. The current state-of-the-art in just replicating a [crude approximation of a] neuron is quite the task without getting into issues of differentiation, physical self-organization, and macro architecture.
Meatbird

Social climber
Lindsay, OK
Sep 14, 2011 - 08:17am PT
Being a lifelong student of mind, I have also thought that Largo was condescending towards others who may equal or outpace his own understanding of the subject. However, not knowing him or having a good read on his 'style of discussion' I've tried to remain open minded about his comments. One thing is certain, I've enjoyed the topic and appreciate his bringing it up and pushing others to think seriously about how our minds acquire the feel for self that we obviously do. It is not an easy topic to discuss without falling prey to technical jargon that requires more than just a passing familiarity in order to have a reasonable conversation.
Without endorsing any one point of view I'd like to recommend Robert Lanza's book 'Biocentrism' which I have been surprised hasn't been mentioned in this discussion. There are many others on the topic but this is readable for a general audience and appears to me to add to the discussion. Also Antonio Damasio's 'Self Comes to Mind' is a great read for anyone interested in the nuances of how we experience consciousness.
jstan

climber
Sep 14, 2011 - 08:24am PT
http://www.experienceproject.com/dictionary/definition-of/Sophistry

sophistry: n. the controversial method of an opponent, distinguished from one's own by superior insincerity and fooling. this method is that of the later sophists, a grecian sect of philosophers who began by teaching wisdom, prudence, science, art and, in brief, whatever men
ought to know, but lost themselves in a maze of quibbles and a fog of
words.

from Ambrose Bierce's Devil's Dictionary


From Socrate’s Apology

'To fear death, gentlemen, is no other than to think oneself wise when one is not, to think one knows what one does not know. No one knows whether death may not be the greatest of all blessings for a man, yet men fear it as if they knew that it is the greatest of evils. And surely it is the most blameworthy ignorance to believe that one knows what one does not know.”

I suspect sophistry was not an invention in ancient Greece so much as it is, right unto the present day, a natural trap for the unwary. We can take the present as a chance to learn. The following seem useful guides for discussion:

1. in argument the first and most difficult task is, sincerely, to convince oneself
2. when unsure of the other’s argument, admit you do not understand
3. argument is impossible if words are not fully defined


Patience is a great virtue. Modern technology presently offers new and powerful insight into neurological processing. But we need the patience to view the effort to understand it as a journey. Not as a prize to be held in the hand.

ChampionSleeper

Trad climber
Phoenix, AZ
Sep 14, 2011 - 11:57am PT
Can another person's consciousness be established by an external observer? Can behavior prove concsiousness? Is another person's declaration of consciousness proof of their consciousness? Or do we think other humans are because we ourselves feel we are.

I think primarily we see other humans as conscious as an empathetic response- because we ourselves feel conscious. But doesn't that mean we have inherently poor judgement about interpreting other instances of consciousness in species or even machines that are not quite like us?

Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
And every fool knows, a dog needs a home, and...
Sep 14, 2011 - 12:54pm PT
Can behavior prove concsiousness?

Yes I think watching someone glance in a mirror to check their appearance, seeing them detect a booger hanging from their nostril, removing it and then checking to see if its really gone, PROVES consciousness, or at least demonstrates it very strongly.

Don't you agree?

DMT
High Fructose Corn Spirit

Gym climber
-A community of hairless apes
Sep 14, 2011 - 12:57pm PT
dm, please don't be so gross. Next time, simply use an effective euphemism like the "bat in the cave" or an equivalent. That would at least be more pleasing at breakfast time as I finish my runny eggs.
ChampionSleeper

Trad climber
Phoenix, AZ
Sep 14, 2011 - 01:01pm PT
Yeah, I think you're right on that DMT.
Paul Martzen

Trad climber
Fresno
Sep 14, 2011 - 01:05pm PT
From Jstan
I suspect sophistry was not an invention in ancient Greece so much as it is, right unto the present day, a natural trap for the unwary. We can take the present as a chance to learn. The following seem useful guides for discussion:

1. in argument the first and most difficult task is, sincerely, to convince oneself
2. when unsure of the other’s argument, admit you do not understand
3. argument is impossible if words are not fully defined

1 The most interesting aspect of a discussion for me is the exploration of new viewpoints rather than any convincing that my viewpoint is correct.

2 I do not understand Largo's point of view, but as Meatbird states above, I find much of the conversation fascinating. In that respect I appreciate the continuing troll.

2a It seems very easy to say, "I understand you" while not understanding. I think it is better to try and demonstrate what our understanding is, then let the other person say whether they feel understood. I do sympathize with Largo's statement,
I get hosed by most everyone here for not being a physicalist
I certainly get frustrated when trying to express an idea that I like but my listeners (or nonlisteners) go off in a completely different direction.

3 Words have to be fully defined? How can we define words or concepts while we are still exploring them and trying to figure out what they are? Seems to me that there are many concepts which have sharp boundaries or distinct points and are easy to define by those features; circles and squares and mountain tops, for instance. Other concepts are very amorphous and fuzzy and hard to define. Maybe they can be accepted as such?

Patience is a great virtue. Modern technology presently offers new and powerful insight into neurological processing. But we need the patience to view the effort to understand it as a journey. Not as a prize to be held in the hand.
I agree with this very much. The journey is what's cool. But it is so easy to get caught up in, "What is the right answer?", "Are we there yet? Are we there yet?"

While I find neurology fascinating and encouraging, I do not think it supplants our first person experiences. Our own experiences are the easiest and most satisfying way of understanding the world. Every time we have a new experience we learn something new about ourselves and about the world around us. (In my opinion)
Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
And every fool knows, a dog needs a home, and...
Sep 14, 2011 - 01:31pm PT
That would at least be more pleasing at breakfast time as I finish my runny eggs.

Post time 10 AM Pacific daylight savings time....

what, are you in Hawaii?

DMT
jstan

climber
Sep 14, 2011 - 02:04pm PT
Other concepts are very amorphous and fuzzy and hard to define. Maybe they can be accepted as such?

Going through what the words mean is the first step in the discussion. Once it is resolved or at least made transparent the word can usefully be employed. If I take "car" to mean a hummer and Morris Minors to be "machines", but do not say so, I can argue forever even with a lover of Morris Minors about "Cars being bad."

In an earlier post in this thread I referred to the neurological phenomenon called "feedforward". In order to increase the chance of survival the brain sends ahead the answer to a threat by faster pipelines. When the full set of data arrives later we get a feeling we have been there before. Deja vu.

I bring this up again because Largo is motivated by the feeling he has that there is some nonphysical extension to the mind. He is motivated by a feeling or experience he has difficulty describing.

Suppose for the moment that recurrent processing, as I mentioned earlier, has preconditioned certain neurological states. So that every time there is a query of that state it is always found to be predetermined.

It seems to be entirely outside of our conscious control.

It seems to be set by some external reality.

Would this not tend to give one the feeling there is more here than we know? Where Largo seems to find himself.

Another indication, like deja vu, that processing evolved for survival has interesting side effects? Deja vu is also hard to describe. But that difficulty, in and of itself, is a clue as to where we might look for an explanation.

Paul our first person experiences are formed in the brain and are affected by the processing occurring there. If we specifically exclude the study of that organ it is a little like a person saying I don't need to know about voltmeters to understand voltage.

Said as he uses a voltmeter set on AC while trying to test a battery.
Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
And every fool knows, a dog needs a home, and...
Sep 14, 2011 - 02:30pm PT
Not as bad as trying to measure the resistance of an AC outlet. Multimeter airbag DEPLOYED!

DMT
Largo

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Topic Author's Reply - Sep 14, 2011 - 04:46pm PT
First, Demasio is awesome in presenting a 3rd person approach to the mechanism he believes "explains" consciousness," tying the processes to physical antecedents and providing an evolutionary reason for the emergence of mind in strictly functional terms. That is one way to look at this subject: the 3rd person, bottom-up, forward causal model roughly or rigidly based on the ideas of reductionism, whereby atomic activity "causes" or "produces" consciousness. What I have been calling the "broadcast" model, whereby the evolved meat brain "broadcasts" awareness and self and all the other cool stuff including the self-referential witness who "lives" life.

Then we have J. Stan saying "I bring this up again because Largo is motivated by the feeling he has that there is some nonphysical extension to the mind."

"Feeling" is John's take (emotional?) and by using "extension" he unwittingly believes that I fully trust in the bottom up model that mind extends directly from meat, and that evolved meat is the true and only antecedent. And I believe no such things. This is relevant for several reasons.

The problem some of us have is that while Demasio (a local boy from USC), John S., Ed, Fruity, Marlow, and all the other bottom up physicalists look at "mind" one way, they do not see or acknowledge that while there are spectacular advantages and rewards to studying and objectifying consciousness as a 3rd person phenomenon, mind exists as an objectified "thing" ONLY on on paper and as a convenient scientific model. In reality, mind, or more accurately, self-aware consciousness, exists only in the 1st person. In fact, 1st person self-awareness is the ONLY mode of experience. How could it be otherwise.

Already many physicalists will leave the conversation becuase we are not adding anything to or advancing something to the physicalists model, "so what's the point?" The point is that some people want to try and work with the 1st person reality we actually live, by some other means besides mechanical break downs per "causes." Even the language "causes" or "produces" gives a hint that the mechanical modes and what they "cause" or Produce" are not the selfsame things.
When people make the mistake of insisting that they ARE the same, for instance, that self awareness and content are exactly the same, no possible extrapolation can follow because the nothing is so catagorically off base. We can objectify mind as a 3rd person mechanical function, and have a model of same, but we cannot objectify mind itself - the 1st person experience, NOT the biological explanations - because we only have direct experiential access to our OWN minds, and that access is and always will be by way of direct, 1st person subjective experience.

So that's the first thing. We can postulate mind as a digital process, an emergent "epiphenomenon" or the result of a fantastic, evolved bio machine that goes far in telling us how self awareness is created. But this model, this scientific description is NOT self awareness itself, anymore that everything ever written about football, every last statistic, is a football game itself. So we have the mechanical descriptions of self-awareness, for which folks like Demasio do a great job (his videos are fly though dry as King Tut's tunic) and we have self-awareness itself, the first person experience that is primary to human life.

Now it is exactly here where many loose their way. I do NOT mean that here, people fail to grasp some aspect of physicalism or reductionism or bottom up causation. Here is where we start boring into the differences, so to speak, between the numerical breakdowns of football, and the game itself, from the bio machine MODEL of consciousness - and there are some fine ones - and self awareness itself. Differences" implies we are talking about two different "things." And this is itself a sticking point for many.

Physicalists see self awareness getting away from them, as being something 'beyond" or "a non-physical extention to" the evolved meat machine that "broadcasts" mind, even as they have their direct, 1st person experience which is not in itself a physical thing they can objectify as a 3rd person (fill in the blank). This fear, masquerading as truth, is based on what the qualia people called magical thinking on the part of physicalists. Here's why.

The argument has been made by bioengineers that language betrays us in many regards and leads us to falsely consider many mere functions or descriptions of material processes as things-in-and-of-themselves. For example, there is no such "thing" as jogging. IOWs, jogging is not an object, a real "thing" with it's own physical make up and atomic structure. "Jogging" is only a description of a physical reality - a body moving through time and space.

But the relationship of self awareness to meat brain is not the same as "jogging" is to moving body. I'll let you guys work this one out - or default back to measurements and call me ignorant - but here's a clue.

In science, everything is objectified as a 3rd person thing. We cannot objectify self awarenes in this way - not self awareness itself. We can objectify MODELS of self awareness, but the map is not the territory, the models are NOT self awareness itself, which is not a model but a 1st person experience. In fact with self awareness, the normal 3rd person/1st person rule is flipped. That is, we only know "jogging" by way of a moving physical body, but we only "know" a physical body (including meat brain) by way of self-awareness. Thoughts and objections such as, "But the meat brain PRODUCES self awareness you blockhead," do not exist as physical bodies (atoms are not themselves thoughts), but only as qual passing through self awareness.

That means we can objectify models of mind, but no mind itself. If you are still saying, "So what?" you haven't realized experientially what this means. It's a subtle one, but mind-boggling once you get it.

JL

unfortunately, the metaphor does not stand up because while "jogging" is merely a description,





So here I'm talking about the "production,"
healyje

Trad climber
Portland, Oregon
Sep 14, 2011 - 05:34pm PT
Better would be an elaboration on your concept of "broadcast".

As it is, based on fMRI detection of experience/qualia and such tidbits as frozen-solid salamanders which regain consciousness, I have no problem whatsoever claiming 'experience' is just an expression of a duality of processing and content interchangeable in the context of 'consciousness'. You can keep pushing an idealistic metaphysical basis for consciousness (and by extension the material world), but again I don't buy it and neither does any recently thawed salamander.
Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
And every fool knows, a dog needs a home, and...
Sep 14, 2011 - 05:45pm PT
Is the earth itself conscious? Does it have a mind? Does it have a brain? Is the earth a lifeform or merely the backdrop.

I suspect its a lifeform, mere speculation of course. What would a planetary brain look like?

How about solar lifeforms?

Why couldn't there be pure energy forms of life? Aside from the fact we haven't encountered any.

I don't mean this in a metaphysical way, either. I mean here in our reality, based upon the physics of this universe.

DMT
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Sep 14, 2011 - 06:36pm PT
we learn about awareness
and we learn it is something others have

my presumption that Largo is conscious, aware, thinking, possessing of mind are all third person

my perception that mind is something has to do with the observation, and the conjecture, that it is a universal aspect of humans, this too is third person

my various tests to determine what is common and what is unique combines first and third persons, as I use myself to explore the variations, but I still need those other minds presumed to be out there, that exist third person

you can't escape third person experience of mind, it is an important, perhaps the most important aspect of the whole thing....

...it's not just that I am aware, it's that awareness itself is not unique with an individual.
Largo

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Topic Author's Reply - Sep 14, 2011 - 07:32pm PT
my perception that mind is something has to do with the observation, and the conjecture, that it is a universal aspect of humans, this too is third person--



Nope. This is the most common misconception. Your perception, Ed, is also what we call self-awareness. Perceiving IS self awareness. Processing information from observations and thoughts generated by observations, such as when a scientist observes something, produces qual or thoughts which enter into your field of awareness. You become aware of ideas such as, "mind is a universal aspect of humans." This qual, or thought, passes into awareness and yes, you can quantify and objectify this qual but you cannot experience your own experience from the 3rd person. You can experience your mental processes as 3rd person qual, as content of awareness, but the experience itself will inescapably be 1st person. A camera cannot take a picture of itself, so to speak.

And fruity, referencing a spec scan or qEEG to show electrical activity and saying the read out is "experience itself" is like saying notes on a page is music. You're totally stuck trying to make the map be the territory, or more accurately, the topo being the actual experiencing of climbing, and it can never logically work.

But the biggest myth of them all is that we can have 3rd person experiences.

JL
Jan

Mountain climber
Okinawa, Japan
Sep 14, 2011 - 07:40pm PT
I think Largo and the material reductionists are both right. Then again, I live in a place where the unity of opposites is assumed. This philosophy was developed in response to many human beings being packed into very small spaces so that they were forced to accept multiple viewpoints and be aware of subtle differences at the same time they learned to function as an organic whole.

I think the same principle applies to human brains. The cells are so densely packed, the circuits so multilayered, and the chemical injections so numerous and subtle (think crowded multistory tenements in Hong Kong) that it becomes overwhelming to try to understand, and so both sides fall back on simpler models of either material reductionism or qualia and consciousness, neither one of which is adequate to explain the functional whole.

I wouldn't be surprised if there weren't other models that also apply which haven't even been thought of yet. It's way too soon for either of the two sides represented here to declare victory. Meanwhile the dualistic oppositional mode of thinking about these subjects betrays a way of looking at the world which is losing out to the East Asian model of individual systems being subsumed to a common good.

Both scientism and idealism have failed to inspire our own society to cooperate for the common good, and now we take the oppositional model and try to apply it to discussions of the mind/brain. We need a whole new inclusive paradigm.

Personally I prefer the holographic model which includes both physicality and consciousness at a much higher level than what our meat brains have currently perceived. But that's just me and my first person experiences.
healyje

Trad climber
Portland, Oregon
Sep 14, 2011 - 08:35pm PT
Largo: And fruity, referencing a spec scan or qEEG to show electrical activity and saying the read out is "experience itself" is like saying notes on a page is music.

'Fruity' again - ok, I guess. When referencing that scan can correctly state what you are aware of I'd say that makes 'awareness' observable from other than the 1st person.

Largo: You're totally stuck trying to make the map be the territory, or more accurately, the topo being the actual experiencing of climbing, and it can never logically work.

Nope, you're totally stuck unable to grasp the duality of processing/content and how 'awareness' is indistinguishably both. I'd say maybe you still need to thaw a bit more before you get it. Your position is no different than saying the chip and software are not the execution of the program and your ST 'experience' is an 'emergent broadcast' somehow miraculously [and metaphysically] independent of the hardware and software humming away in your computer.

P.S. Maybe your computer only exists when software is actually executing on it...
Meatbird

Social climber
Lindsay, OK
Sep 14, 2011 - 09:00pm PT
From my point of view we are in some respects "bewitched" by our language. Like Largo says we can only experience consciousness in the first person to which I agree. However, we also have the ability to communicate in what appears to be third person personas. Obviously we are always doing this as first person minds but it feels as though we have objectivity and if you adhere to the rules of our language we do. Trouble is we are talking about our language not the pure experience of awareness. Wittgenstein shook up our way of doing things when he described our language as a system of games that worked by accomplishing our goals. For him problems in philosophy occurred when "language went on holiday". While this is all elementary theory for anyone who has studied much philosophy I still think it has some relevance to the discussion.

We open our eyes every morning and a world appears and for a few moments we have close to pure consciousness but soon language starts to take over and we begin to form ideas and attach words to remembered experiences to which we have already described with language. I think we see how at some point the pure experience of consciousness becomes enter twinned with language both present and past and in the process of constructing knowledge bases the third person persona takes on a life of its own. Still we may be talking more about our language than our consciousness.

All this is to say that different points of view on this subject, like many other discussions, may be as much about the particular language game we are using and not some exact experience of
reality. In some strands of objective relational psychotherapy the ability of the therapist to participate in the dialogue while simultaneously observing the interaction of the client and therapist
is a highly prized skill. The two points of view are considered invaluable in forming a "larger" picture of the client. To me this is not some fact about how reality works but simply an anomaly of our language as it takes place in our perceived flow of time.

Hopefully this adds to the discussion but if not I'll just continue to listen to others in my best first person persona.
Largo

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Topic Author's Reply - Sep 14, 2011 - 10:47pm PT
Healey said:

Nope, you're totally stuck unable to grasp the duality of processing/content and how 'awareness' is indistinguishably both.

When referencing that scan can correctly state what you are aware of I'd say that makes 'awareness' observable from other than the 1st person.


No cigar. You’re vexing yourself from inside a computer chip.

When I used to be involved with Neurofeedback and qEEG and so forth, we always knew that the array on the screen was not consciousness itself, but the electrical activity that co-exists with consciousness. For you to ever see said array from another perspective than the 1st person, you’d have to BE another (3rd) person simultaneously with being you – and I want to see that one. Simply put, you cannot escape your 1st person perspective. There is no objective human perspective separate from “I,” and I is always 1st person.

The first graph is a common misconception, called awareness fusion or identity enmeshment, and in certain cases can cause serious psychological problems. What’s amazing to me is that so many on this thread are very astute so far as left brain processing goes, but psychologically, the same folks are confounded by some pretty basic psychological material, while insisting they have it “right.” I mean no disrespect here, I’m just somewhat dazed by where people are at on this.

Consider the common contention that “mind” IS electrical or atomic activity, that the meant brain IS mind and that content and awareness, as stated by Healey are exactly the same things. It’s all one big ass “thing.”

When your awareness is fused with content like this you have what the Enneagram folks call a “case of mistaken identity.” You literally believe that “you,” the nameless watcher, the agency that is “aware,” IS content.

There is an entire branch of psychology geared to break the enmeshment of awareness with content, which can literally trash peoples lives. This is especially the case with the “shame-based” personality made famous by John Bradshaw in the 1990s. Especially so with victims of incest, battery, ritual torture, all manner of abuse, adult survivors of drunk care takers, bipolar and character disorderd parenting, and so forth.

This can often result in a shame based personality in which shame is the organizing principal for all feeling tones, meaning whenever you feel joy, sadness, courage, love, or whatever, shame attaches to these feelings and you can spiral down in a shame hole from hell. Hence so many shame based folks are alcoholics since booze can often mute ALL feeling. Point is, because shame is such a strong attractor, awareness gets fused with the feeling (content/qual) and people mistake themselves for same.

The therapists job here is to first make the shame a known “thing,” an article of awareness, which is tough duty since there is so much fear, pain and judgement involved. But once the shame is brought to the light of day and it can be seen as content (thoughts, memories, sensations, very strong feelings, projections, fears, etc.), some of the emotional steam can be purged off and the subject can start to slowly detach.

Somewhere in the process – and it might take years – people have the direct, life altering experience that they are NOT their shame based complex. The more detachment they get, the greater they realize that shame is simply bad programming, old audio tapes and memories and somatic slip streams that have a kind of vortex effect on their awareness. When you’re caught in the vortex, fused with shame, your ARE shame, since the psyche can take most any form, as needed. Point is, once the “I am not my content/shame” moment comes, the trance is broken and a new freedom is possible above and beyond the virus of shameful content.

Now the reason we can objectify and evaluate and detach from shame like this – or any content - is because it is divisible and is not “us,” it is NOT the same thing as awareness.

We cannot choose what comes up in our mind but how we respond, where we place the ray gun of attention IS our choice, with practice. But so long as awareness and content are the same thing in your mind, you will be enmeshed with whatever has the most charge and you’ll have little autonomy from inner states and even less self mastery.

Awareness is not divisible like this (given a well rested sober mind), and is more closely related to ‘presence” than it is to a mirror or some quantum field in which conten/qual twinkle through. So being aware of a feeling or thought or a sunset is not so much scrutinizing or evaluating something as it is with BEING with something, someone, etc. In this sense, freedom is not ordering or orchestrating content, chasing after this and trying to get rid of that. Freedom comes from being with everything sans preference, or as Frank Sacharer once said, “Chosing what you have to do.”

Awareness or presence has no edges, is in some way shared by all that IS and is fundamentally indivisible and unborn. Detaching and observing are the focus of meditation but the process is, paradoxically, an intimate, 1st person experience. The more we separate from and objectify content, the more we setting into pure presence which is clear as a ringing bell. But so long as we stay fused with stuff/content/qual, where awareness and content are selfsame, we’ll be FUBARed.

JL
healyje

Trad climber
Portland, Oregon
Sep 14, 2011 - 11:34pm PT
Largo: When I used to be involved with Neurofeedback and qEEG and so forth, we always knew that the array on the screen was not consciousness itself, but the electrical activity that co-exists with consciousness. For you to ever see said array from another perspective than the 1st person, you’d have to BE another (3rd) person simultaneously with being you – and I want to see that one. Simply put, you cannot escape your 1st person perspective. There is no objective human perspective separate from “I,” and I is always 1st person.

You either missing the chain or are being disingenuous here - I'm saying that by looking at the fMRI output in the 1st person, I can tell what 1st person experience you are having, i.e. your experience is in fact observable outside the context your own 1st person perspective.

Consider the common contention that “mind” IS electrical or atomic activity, that the meant brain IS mind and that content and awareness, as stated by Healey are exactly the same things. It’s all one big ass “thing.”

When your awareness is fused with content like this you have what the Enneagram folks call a “case of mistaken identity.” You literally believe that “you,” the nameless watcher, the agency that is “aware,” IS content.

Exactly the agency IS content - break through that word 'content' and you'll realize that the agency (and content) is just a dual expression of both. But, I'm not positing that the meat, content, and processing are all the same thing anymore than I'm saying the chip (meat), software (content), and execution (awareness) are the same "big ass thing". Rather, I'm saying all forms of cognition (content and awareness) are an expression of processing - no processing, then no awareness and no content - e.g. the salamander is not dreaming while frozen. As I said, your position is absolutely no different than claiming your ST experience is some metaphysically emergent phenomena independent of your computer executing it's OS and browser software. Producing consciousness IS what the brain evolved for and consciousness is an unavoidable attribute of a living [and healthy] human brain.

There is an entire branch of psychology geared to break the enmeshment of awareness with content, which can literally trash peoples lives.

With your use of both 'awareness' and 'content' in this psychological context, you are so many levels of abstraction above what I'm talking about that, while words may be the same, the meanings are completely different and passing each other in the dark. And I think that's part of the issue here; you're coming at all this from emotions and meditation while striving for open 'agency' and then attempting to work your way backwards from that to something (still not sure what or why) that 'fits' your [emotional and meditative] experiences. From what I can see your choices of extrapolations, selective language, and logic can't really lead to anywhere else but an idealistic metaphysical interpretation of the road you've traveled.

I think this goes back to Ed's point that some folks can't handle or deal with the idea there's nothing special about consciousness, particularly human consciousness.

Jan

Mountain climber
Okinawa, Japan
Sep 15, 2011 - 03:27am PT
Meatbird-