What is "Mind?"


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

especially these days.

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

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

Trad climber
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.

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.

Trad climber
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.


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.

Social climber
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.

Gym climber
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.

Trad climber
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.

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

nice, i like that
john hansen

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....

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.

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

Mountain climber
South Lake Tahoe, CA
Aug 29, 2011 - 03:13am PT
It's one of my favorite Talking Heads songs.

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.

Dingus McGee

Social climber
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

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

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?

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