What is "Mind?"

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PSP also PP

Trad climber
Berkeley
Jul 17, 2014 - 03:19pm PT
Base said "If your aim is to become a fully realized Buddha, you apparently must spend a lot of time ignoring awareness. Or all of it, anyway."

You should have also started this sentence with "I would bet".

By the way, we already are a fully realized Buddha's, we are just too distracted to notice.

jgill

Boulder climber
Colorado
Jul 17, 2014 - 04:35pm PT
By the way, we already are a fully realized Buddha's, we are just too distracted to notice


By that pesky "I" no doubt!


;>)
MikeL

Social climber
Seattle, WA
Jul 17, 2014 - 04:43pm PT
Base: Sorry, but religion and spiritism haven't contributed that much to human "knowledge."

Other than there is more to "there" than there is there, you may be right. But science got the drift, and now almost everything is invisible and unavailable to the senses. Now almost everything is constructed, abstracted, and conceptualized. A guy can't shed a tear without all sorts of explanations and interpretations coming up.

I would bet that meditation sessions are VERY quiet. You need to quiet your chattering mind, which is experiencing at all times. Meditation seems to me to be an attempt to totally de-focus attention, or to absolutely focus on a single thing.

They can be, . . . and they can be very noisy (internally or externally). Focusing on a thing is a tactic to distract or engage the conscious mind so that the unconscious mind can be experienced.

. . . you apparently must spend a lot of time ignoring awareness. Or all of it, anyway.

Remember when you were first learning about something (you pick), you probably made some pretty gross distinctions, if you made any at all. Awareness can be like that--and all of the infinite / possible distinctions are simply awareness itself, too.

But this line of thinking is going nowhere and is not very helpful. It's just talk.

Just listen, look, touch, speak (or not), or taste very carefully. Watch a wine connoisseur, or an artist, or a foodie, or a good speaker. They don't use a broad sword in their domain; they usually spend time working through what their senses bring to them. You probably do the same thing with rocks. Awareness expands not so much broadly but intensively. It gets more powerful, more insightful, and deeper with practice.

How much can you be right here right now? You'll ramp up the intensity of awareness when you've have, or just had, a close call. Then you'll witness all of your antenna picking up signals--and lots of them. What you might perceive new will be nuanced, gentle, warm, and in some ways a bit blissful. (But it's not like shooting up or anything; it's not wild.) It just seems to be more immediate and real than what you normally feel.

You don't run from experience or awareness, or to it. You just open up to it when it shows itself. You just notice.

Weird little pops or sparkles or strangeness appears now and then to you (thoughts, feelings, visually, your hearing, etc.). When they do, don't push them aside or ignore them. Just stay with them (gently, gently) until they evaporate or leave. That's experience without content, raw, pristine experience. Ground. What the Buddhists sometimes call, Alaya. The more you do so, the more reality starts to show itself: the more you notice reality the more you notice. There is no need for concepts or abstractions. Just take everything easy.

(Well, I guess I've gone way off the reservation with you on this one, hmmmm?)
BLUEBLOCR

Social climber
joshua tree
Jul 17, 2014 - 08:10pm PT
Base that was a really good post!

Sorry, but religion and spiritism haven't contributed that much to human "knowledge." Religion and spiritism have gone to some lengths in the past to silence anyone who gains true knowledge that contradicts whatever religious system is in place. Look at Galileo. Look at Go B trying to disbelieve evolution simply because physical knowledge contradicts his spiritual dogma.

But as far as knowledge involving moral standards, the character of man, and the character of God there is NO better reference than the bible!

But it is NOT a scientific manual of the workings of nature and the material universe. It is though a living scientific manual for man's soul.
IMO, i don't believe Christ's followers should hold so tightly the 7 day creation, and 6k yro earth. The bible doesn't say that EXACTLY specifically to our understanding to time. Do i think that "God the Creator of the Universe" COULD do it within our understanding of a 24hr day? HELL YES! Is that the way the bible explains it? Not quite.. There is some interpretation going on there without a doubt... i think if God really wanted to confirm to our Objective minds of His existence, He could have thrown in some scientific theory's or talk of "quarks" or "black holes" or some such way back when Genesis was written that couldn't have been known of then, and not understood until today. What that prove to you that some higher intelligence wrote the bible? But if there was some irrefutable scientific proof in the bible, what would THAT do to our freewill?

Besides, what would it matter to a soul that can be everlasting how old the earth is?
BLUEBLOCR

Social climber
joshua tree
Jul 17, 2014 - 09:53pm PT

Weird little pops or sparkles or strangeness appears now and then to you (thoughts, feelings, visually, your hearing, etc.). When they do, don't push them aside or ignore them. Just stay with them (gently, gently) until they evaporate or leave. That's experience without content, raw, pristine experience. Ground. What the Buddhists sometimes call, Alaya. The more you do so, the more reality starts to show itself: the more you notice reality the more you notice. There is no need for concepts or abstractions. Just take everything easy.

This is a beautiful one MikeL!

When i finished reading, my eyes veered to the right and saw the bulging breasts on the web ad which read "Love the one You Like"
So i just sat... ....gently, until i remembered i had to do the dishes!
i know, thats experience with content. But it's pretty good too.
MikeL

Social climber
Seattle, WA
Jul 17, 2014 - 10:15pm PT
Ha-ha. Pretty funny, BB. Got a chortle out of me.
healyje

Trad climber
Portland, Oregon
Jul 17, 2014 - 11:27pm PT
Largo: My friends at Caltech thought so as well, and despite Healyj’s wonky statements to the contrary – that anyone trying to program sentience is on bong water – this has been the promise of many AI folks for decades, and the BRAIN project which that charlatan hustled 1 billion Euros for promised as much by 2020.

First, AI folks have been working on lots of different things over the past six decades, sentience however, is not one of them beyond studying in attempt to understand it. Certainly it's never been a 'promise' of AI - unless they were hitting on something way, way stronger than the aforementioned bong water. And even those so afflicted came to their senses enough to abandon ship in the late '80s. Just ain't happening man.

Second, neither the BRAIN project nor any of the other large brain simulation efforts are attempting to 'program sentience' - not a one - they are simply attempting to model brain functions. One is attempting to really pin down and characterize neuron and synapse behavior in aggregate by modeling a cubic millimeter of brain. Hardly the stuff of sentience.

Again, just give up on the computer / simulation stuff as you keep badly mischaracterizing what's going on in that field ..
Randisi

Social climber
Dalian, Liaoning
Jul 17, 2014 - 11:39pm PT
Have you read Derrida?

Yes. Mostly his early works.

I don't agree with him. But he has some useful critiques.
MikeL

Social climber
Seattle, WA
Jul 18, 2014 - 07:08am PT
Randisi:

Good on ya! His works are almost unreadable. Immensely dense writing. Not exactly a Foucault. I agree with you . . . important critiques. It's been a wonder why French Theory never hooked-up with Buddhists' notions.


Largo may know some different AI folk. When I was reading AI in grad school (way back in the 80's), the objectives were completely practically oriented: assembly lines, power plant management, complicated chemical processes, etc. AI meant to replicate expert decision making. Of course, there are always theorists in the background mucking around in any practical field. That they might be now focusing on neuroscience is a bit surprising to me . . . but I'm ancient and out of touch.



I now live at the mid-level in the canyons of buildings in downtown Seattle, and in the very early mornings I sit in contemplation as close as I can to a large set of windows facing other buildings. The sea birds that roost and breed on the roof tops take flight and perform aerobatics and call out to each other as the light comes up and before the city awakens. Looking at nothing in particular, the birds look like energetic but graceful sea animals in the water. Thoughts, feelings, and emotions are like that. They have a life all their own. There is no use in making any claim to them. I just let them be, and they evaporate or disappear on their own. Everything is like this: clouds, friends, jobs, even one's own identity. How can there be anything to get really serious or concrete about?
MH2

climber
Jul 18, 2014 - 07:41am PT
How can there be anything to get really serious or concrete about? (MikeL)


You express your own viewpoint eloquently, Mike. Variety in people's experience and outlook is good in my opinion. I see it as fine that you think the way you do, but surely you don't want everyone else to feel and act the same way? I ask because of your use of the comprehensive word anything. If there is nothing that you feel is worth getting really serious or concrete about, okay for you, but are you saying that people who feel otherwise are always making a mistake?
Largo

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Topic Author's Reply - Jul 18, 2014 - 07:41am PT
HEALYJ said:

Largo: My friends at Caltech thought so as well, and despite Healyj’s wonky statements to the contrary – that anyone trying to program sentience is on bong water – this has been the promise of many AI folks for decades, and the BRAIN project which that charlatan hustled 1 billion Euros for promised as much by 2020.

First, AI folks have been working on lots of different things over the past six decades, sentience however, is not one of them beyond studying in attempt to understand it. Certainly it's never been a 'promise' of AI - unless they were hitting on something way, way stronger than the aforementioned bong water. And even those so afflicted came to their senses enough to abandon ship in the late '80s. Just ain't happening man.

Second, neither the BRAIN project nor any of the other large brain simulation efforts are attempting to 'program sentience' - not a one - they are simply attempting to model brain functions. One is attempting to really pin down and characterize neuron and synapse behavior in aggregate by modeling a cubic millimeter of brain. Hardly the stuff of sentience.

Again, just give up on the computer / simulation stuff as you keep badly mischaracterizing what's going on in that field ..



The problem with Hewaljy is that while sounding avuncular and reliable, his information is not remotely accurate. I said I was not guessing at this material, and here this guy keeps bumbling along insisting that I am butchering the data.

First, Healyj’s wonky claim that AI and other associated fields have given up on sentience since around 1980, this is not remotely so. And while it is true that some of the big brain projects are not trying to directly program sentience, or consciousness, they are very much trying to achieve and produce it as an ”emergent” function.

The most vocal, well-funded (1 billion Euros) of these Dr. Frankensein’s includes “Professor” Henry Markram, “a doctor-turned-computer engineer, who announced that his team would create the world's first artificial conscious and intelligent mind by 2018. And that is exactly what he is doing. On the shore of Lake Geneva, this brilliant, eccentric scientist is building an artificial mind. A Swiss - it could only be Swiss - precision- engineered mind, made of silicon, gold and copper.

The end result will be a creature, if we can call it that, which its Professor Markram will soon be able to think, feel and even fall in love.”

Mind you, this is not some isolated, crank “Professon,” but a leading neuroscientist who actually believes that a computer will be generating feelings (sans a limbic system LOL) in a few short years.

Now obviously my friends at Caltech don’t have a few billion greenbacks to simulate a human brain and hope sentience jumps off it like music out of a jutebox. So they are left to try and imagine what is involved, what is the process, what is the mechanical A-B-Cs that “creates” sentience. And where might thy start to program such a “function.”

I would be interested in hearing why Haelyj believes that people “gave up” on building machine sentince, and how he might define what it is (self consciousness) hat they collectively gave up on (thy didn’t).
High Fructose Corn Spirit

Gym climber
Jul 18, 2014 - 08:00am PT
Regarding sentience, I'm afraid AI in machines...



is going to have to await first contact with the Borg...



Short of that, it's pretty pie-in-the-sky.

Brute force computation is one thing, sentience aka feeling very much another.
Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
Maestro, Ecosystem Ministry, Fatcrackistan
Jul 18, 2014 - 08:06am PT
Its like the Veil Darkly or something!

DMT
Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
Maestro, Ecosystem Ministry, Fatcrackistan
Jul 18, 2014 - 08:18am PT
Why couldn't a computer feel?

I had spinal surgery a few months ago to cut out pieces of a ruptured disk pressing into my spinal chord. That pressure produced incredible agony in my lower back, hip and leg. Particularly in my left leg where I experienced a constant sensation that my leg was on fire.

This pain could only be hidden with significant doses of nerve blocking drugs backed with oxy. Even then it only tamped it down, it never left me.

I would stare at my leg or my foot as this pain just washed through me in waves like big rollers at the beach. It was especially demoralizing, depressing, to know that there was nothing at all wrong with my leg. All of that pain I felt in my leg was a phantom... there was nothing wrong with it.

Meaning it was my spinal chord that was f*#ked up, some scary sh#t but I know many of you have had your bouts withe Gulag Hospitaleggo.

But to this mind discussion - my circuitry was messed up, a rat was in my walls chewing on my wiring and things were shorting out. My brain, my mind, was told there was a problem with my leg and it focused on that problem. My circuitry sent the pain signal and my brain, my mind, took note of that signal, and considered it, deeply.

So a computer monitors itself. Something goes wrong with its USB3 port circuitry and a fault signal is sent to the CPU. Why CAN'T that CPU interpret that signal as 'pain.' It could interpret it as rain or Spain, or puddin tain... depending upon how we program it and how its wired.

"That hurts! I need a PC doctor! Stop using that port until its repaired!"

I completely disagree with Largo's unprovable contention that the mind is more than its results. But time will tell.

I think yall are way too negative about this. DNA code was cracked in a decade using crap computers. At the start of that decade conventional scientific wisdom said it would be 50-100 years before even simply DNA was fully sequenced.

I saw some British firm has wired Google Glasses to a visor that picks up brain signals and the wearer can take a picture of an object merely by looking at it and thinking about it.

DMT
High Fructose Corn Spirit

Gym climber
Jul 18, 2014 - 08:42am PT
I think yall are way too negative about this.

Well there's always hope, eh? I just see a HUGE gulf between circuitry by humans and circuitry by nature. Very different design/build pressures and processes.

At least in this decade we're finally getting around to talking about these things less in terms of chemistry (e.g., "chemical imbalances") and more in terms of circuitry. That's some sign of progress and there are others.

In the meantime, all this mystery is all the more reason to celebrate Her great achievement, I'd say. "Her" being Nature, of course and the "great achievement" being mind/consciousness/sentience as Controller in materio-physical living things.



I really don't think any nonsentient living controller (a biotic zombie, that is) could do that. That is, escape from a cheetah or catch a gazelle in an open field on the Savanna. Or any nonsentient AI either.

In the cheetah controller and gazelle controller (eng term) there is much too much microstructure arrayed in mega-variety in gazillion-bit circuitry for us wee-humans to emulate with modeling. At least for a very long time to come. Just my guess, of course. I'd like to be wrong.


....

That "referred" pain is something else, eh? So very hard to believe it's not down there in the leg or in the foot (of course way easier (Ha! EDIT way harder to believe) when it reflects the actual site of an injury and we can look at it) but instead a creation of the brain in the brain. ("Pain is in the brain.") We are conditioned to learn this - to refer it - or to localize it - as babies and children (same with objects in our visual field in terms of color, 3d perspective and so on; those objects being "out there" 10' away or 1000' away whatever) and take this conditioning as "second nature" with us our entire lives. Incredible.

Btw, another great teacher in the connection between circuitry and experience (or circuitry and sentience) is snow blindness. This can alter your "world view" for a few days and provide further insight into the mind-brain and how it works. I got this particular instruction as a teen, I carry its memories still.
High Fructose Corn Spirit

Gym climber
Jul 18, 2014 - 09:44am PT
In the old days, questions and discussions concerning whether the will was "free" or not had more to do with demons than physics. It's interesting how, over recent centuries if not mere decades, they have moved from the former to the latter with hardly no attention to or mention of the change. Not very nuanced are we? as a group or public. Beware the incubus and succubus!

Personally I blame the theist philosophers for this. Something of a bait and switch, I'd say, lol.



Beware the old lady down the road, she's possessed, I say!
The Devil made me do it.

Sure, our wills are free (not constrained or influenced) in this context or setting. But that's not what we're talking about here are we?

Silly now of course. But a few centuries ago, it was anything but, esp if you were somehow the accused or injured.

Remember, too, in addition to "free will" as a term we could also reflect on "free want" (as Sam Harris does briefly in his video) and "free body" and use these as stepping stones to a deeper more nuanced grasp of "free will" as the public and writers use the term in its many contexts.

.....

Regarding the fully-caused, fully-mechanistic "motive will" Sam Harris writes...

"Now some of you might think this sounds depressing: It seems to take something away from us. It does. It takes away an egocentric view of life. But I think this can be tremendously liberating. We are not truly separate; we are linked to each other and to our past and to history. We are part of a system so therefore what we do matters. You can't take credit for your talents but it matters that you use them. You can't really be blamed for your weaknesses, but it matters that you correct them. So pride and shame don't make a lot of sense in the final analysis. But they weren't much fun anyway."

.....

So bottom-line...

when someone asks you if you believe in free will you ask them, With respect to demons or with respect to physics? That will either start the conversation or stop it (probably depending on what kind of culture it is, eg, religious or scientific, eg African, American or Dutch); but no matter it will be your proof - to you and the universe - that you are a nuanced thinker on the matter. :)
BLUEBLOCR

Social climber
joshua tree
Jul 18, 2014 - 10:22am PT

I had spinal surgery a few months ago to cut out pieces of a ruptured disk pressing into my spinal chord. That pressure produced incredible agony in my lower back, hip and leg. Particularly in my left leg where I experienced a constant sensation that my leg was on fire.

Shoulda jus had them cut out ur brain. Or atleast the feeling part? HeHe. You could then be like Mr.Data and perform ur own surgery's. i thought Spock was closer to a robot than Data.

If robots did have sentience wouldn't it be generic? They'de all find the same thing funny, they wouldn't understand the 3 stooges at all.
High Fructose Corn Spirit

Gym climber
Jul 18, 2014 - 10:42am PT
Check it out...



With the right app in his mobile, I bet this guy could snap a picture with his mind, too. And more!

Those electrical artifacts and how they can be harnessed are amazing.

But I think I'll wait for the (deep brain) implants, more selective and higher signal to noise ratios, my guess, lol!

.....

Largely through science edu and training... when one has come to terms with motive want (cf: "free" want) being entirely mechanistic and obedient to physics, then it's easier for him to come to terms with motive will (cf: "free" will) being the same.

As a society, we are powerfully confused between (a) ability to decide (or, ability to choose) and (b) so-called "free" will (or "free will"). With scientific understanding however, the confusion goes away.

It's understandable though: ability and freedom (a kind of ability) are easily confused.

.....

Argue all you want about the physical world, but Nature is the ultimate arbiter: serving as judge, jury, & executioner.

Neil deGrasse Tyson
Marlow

Sport climber
OSLO
Jul 18, 2014 - 10:50am PT

I've always found the anatomy and physiology of the brain and the mind in observable action much more interesting than the mind as metaphysical speculation...

Could be MikeL?
Could be MikeL?
High Fructose Corn Spirit

Gym climber
Jul 18, 2014 - 11:07am PT
Good one!

Actually, good two!

.....

Remember this one?



How apropos.

.....

Remember (and Sam Harris alludes to this as well in his YouTube lecture on free will), with in-depth study and understanding of "free" will in its many aspects, the so-called "illusion" of "free will" gives way to simple confusion or misunderstanding over it, the motive will, that is. Years ago, this was certainly my experience, as well. So, today, to hear it called an "illusion" and to see "illusion" persist in thinking and in conversations as a pop idiom is a bit discouraging.

Would you speak of the "illusion" of divine creation? esp if you weren't a creationist, in other words, an evolutionist. Maybe once or twice or once in a while, but I wouldn't think persistently.

Use of "volition" in lieu of "will" can also help clarify the subject. Thus, (1) "free" volition and (2) the question: what would "free" volition actually mean in a world of cause n effect (the kind in which we live) where everything according to science is obedient to physics? Makes no sense, as Harris points out, if by "free" one means with respect to natural laws or antecedent causes, since there is no such thing as contracausal freedom or supercausal freedom of any kind according to science and evidence. Outside of this, a "free" volition might make sense in conversation in just a few ways: for instance, in the (fantasy) world of theism or theology where one's volition might or might not be free of demons (demonic possession; go-B and Blu, probably believe in this to some extent, even in these modern scientific times) or again in the fantasy world where one's volition is or somehow represents (by a little molecular lever, eg, or membranous interface) a ghost or spirit or other immaterial force, none of which today has any support whatsoever by science or objective evidence.

Of course "free action" or freedom as commonly used is different from "free will." (ref: sociopolitical freedom, prison, injured or aged bodies; freedom (ability) or not to climb 5.11 OW). So too is "forced will" in the case of a gun being held to one's head, for instance.

Blasts from the past...
http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.php?topic_id=1319557&tn=100
http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.php?topic_id=1386860&tn=580
http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.php?topic_id=1386860&msg=1400763#msg1400763

Have we learned anything. I think I have, lol!!

.....

If you're a naturalist (cf: supernaturalist), here's a really good read...
http://www.amazon.com/Encountering-Naturalism-Worldview-Its-Uses/dp/0979111102

A+.

.....

An aside:

Maybe this so-called "dark energy" is teleological? Maybe it's a teleological force, or teleological device, set up by the mind of God (Diacrates or Hypercrates, maybe; Jehovah/Jesus, no)? To run the universe. Wouldn't that be a hoot! :)

Is the universe stranger than we CAN imagine?

.....

Bill Moyers: "Don't you sometimes feel SAD about breaking all these myths apart?

Neil deGrasse Tyson: No. No. Some myths (Christian myths) deserve to be broken apart. Out of respect for the human intellect. No. When you're writhing on the ground and froth is coming out of your mouth you're having an epileptic seizure, you have not been invaded by the devil. We've got this one figured out... Discovery moves on.



Time we got real. On a host of subjects. "Free" will - in its various conversational forms - included.
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