What is "Mind?"

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MikeL

Trad climber
SANTA CLARA, CA
Jul 16, 2014 - 10:51pm PT
Ed: . . . the only way you are "conscious" is through a third person consensus that you are.

What? The sentence is illogical and nonsensical. How could one's own consciousness come through another? The very essence of consciousness is subjectivity. Explain yourself, please.

Tvash: If Mike believes every action is perfect, we don't agree.

Actions are a subset of the totality. There is an acorn, and it is perfect. It gets watered, bathed in soils and moisture, and it grows into an oak tree. Every part and phase is perfect, and every so-called action is too. Without any "action," nothing changes--but everything changes. So actions are just transitions in states of being. Look at the acorn and the oak tree and all of the circumstances and causes that they are a part and parcel of. To call one thing a cause and another thing an effect is heavy-handed bracketing--no different than looking at a painting and seeing the left-hand corner as an effect of the right hand corner. Everything is dynamic, and yet everything is one. You could say that everything is movement, but nothing is going anywhere. Everything is right here right now in your consciousness. It's sort of like a movie: there seems to be all of that action and movement and effect, but looking closely one can see that it's all just what occurs on a screen.

(Why am I still awake tonight? I'm so tired of unpacking boxes upon boxes of household goods. One glass of wine, and I'm out for the count.)
eeyonkee

Trad climber
Golden, CO
Jul 17, 2014 - 04:28am PT
Thanks for your support, jgill:)

And, HFCS, now that I reflect back on 2006, I realize I was just a darn, fool kid back then.
Tvash

climber
Seattle
Jul 17, 2014 - 05:08am PT
"Suppose that "stuff" sends up the signal for the "I" in one's consciousness to make a decision and enjoy the sensation of free will? "

There's no 'other' place to 'send' such a signal. If consciousness IS a person experiencing those signals, then the deed is already done. That is to say, the decision has already been made, and one experiences the final result of that decision (slightly) after the fact.

Ie, the last thing the avalanche does is wipe out your cabin at its base.

Randisi

Social climber
Dalian, Liaoning
Jul 17, 2014 - 05:09am PT
What? The sentence is illogical and nonsensical. How could one's own consciousness come through another? The very essence of consciousness is subjectivity. Explain yourself, please.

Not all philosophies consider subjectivity to be some kind of hermetically sealed box that you can't get out of.

Some philosophies even claim that it is the other that incites consciousness, or that consciousness is first and foremost intersubjectivity.

But I have little desire to explain these ideas here.
eeyonkee

Trad climber
Golden, CO
Jul 17, 2014 - 05:15am PT
Totally on board with you, Tvash.
MH2

climber
Jul 17, 2014 - 06:25am PT
Not all philosophies consider subjectivity to be some kind of hermetically sealed box that you can't get out of. (Randisi)


Thanks for that. Tatiana and Krista Hogan appear to leak into one another. Probably no one knows exactly how someone else is feeling, but most people have a degree of empathy. Actors talk about being in character for a role, and trying to think and feel like the character in order to behave like the character.
Randisi

Social climber
Dalian, Liaoning
Jul 17, 2014 - 06:34am PT
For example, here's a random sentence I just this minute translated:

The entire world becomes subject at the same time as it integrates the objects.

--Michel Serres
MH2

climber
Jul 17, 2014 - 06:50am PT
Come to think of it, after a brief look at Michel Serres, a tranlsator would be especially attuned to what we call subjectivity. Trying to translate evocative prose from one language to another would require a sense of what the author is trying to say, not just what they did say, it seems. Words are so context-sensitive. Machine language translation is difficult to implement because of how much of culture one needs to know and understand.
another nickname

Social climber
Yazoo Ms
Jul 17, 2014 - 06:58am PT
I barely know Kant and almost certainly misunderstand him, but I thought he figured most of "reality" was in some realm apart from time & space (noumenal) & notions of "mind" would therefore be exclusively "phenomenal" & somewhat of an illusion.

I don't suppose it truly matters, but they say physics is coming round to the idea that time and space don't exist -- at least at certain scales & energy levels.
Randisi

Social climber
Dalian, Liaoning
Jul 17, 2014 - 07:07am PT
I barely know Kant and almost certainly misunderstand him, but I thought he figured most of "reality" was in some realm apart from time & space (noumenal) & notions of "mind" would therefore be exclusively "phenomenal" & somewhat of an illusion.

Philosophy too has made progress since that time.
MikeL

Trad climber
SANTA CLARA, CA
Jul 17, 2014 - 07:43am PT
Randisi: Not all philosophies consider subjectivity to be some kind of hermetically sealed box that you can't get out of.

Get out of your consciousness, and tell us what that's like. I think you'll find yourself in a place that Largo has been attempting to point to.

There is no philosophy needed to experience consciousness. The compulsion to explain consciousness, when it's right in front of you, is sort of like explaining the taste of sugar or explaining the experience of climbing. What's the purpose or the use? The only point is to simply experience another experience. It's all experience.

You like philosophies, don't you, my friend? I think you're getting yourself all balled-up in thoughts and concepts, which is surely itself an experience, but it tends to fall into a weird regress, like Alice in Wonderland. Philosophies are rabbit-holes, but people like them because they think they can pin something down with them. Nothing can be pinned down.

MH2: Trying to translate evocative prose from one language to another would require a sense of what the author is trying to say, not just what they did say, it seems. Words are so context-sensitive.

Look up "literary theory." This field of study has exploded and fragmented over the past 50 years, and it's very difficult to keep track of what folks are saying. One thing is for sure, though: any text (to include this one) is highly problematical, even to an author who writes it. See Derrida's works.

Once you see that language presents a constant movement of differences--of words referring to other words definitionally and in opposition to one another--you will see that there can be no stable resting point. This means you can no longer appeal to reality as a refuge independent of language. Everything in reality is unstable and ambiguous, both of which are inherent in language.
Randisi

Social climber
Dalian, Liaoning
Jul 17, 2014 - 07:45am PT
You like philosophies, don't you, my friend? I think you're getting yourself all balled-up in thoughts and concepts, which is surely itself an experience, but it tends to fall into a weird regress, like Alice in Wonderland. Philosophies are rabbit-holes, but people like them because they think they can pin something down with them. Noting can be pinned down.

Mike, you are an absolutist, a true believer. No doubt. Which is funny coming from someone based in a Cartesian worldview.

You have found the truth, have you? Nothing can change your mind?

Such people are dangerous.

For someone who doesn't like or trust concepts or philosophies, you sure use a lot of them. Didn't you just cite Derrida?
Largo

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Topic Author's Reply - Jul 17, 2014 - 07:48am PT
Ed wrote:

Well it's not at all clear what sentience is, and while you can try to eliminate various approaches to it, you may be wrong.

I say: People may be and often are totally wrong about their INTERPRETATION of sentience, but when someone practices no-mind meditation, for example, and is deep in the experience, there is no way to be wrong or right or otherwise. You simply ARE. Value judgments per right and wrong occur only when the discursive mind posits an interpretation or evaluation.

Ed said: In some ways, understanding sentience from a scientific point of view would mean being able to produce it.

I say: 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.

Ed said: If your contention is that sentience is not something definable, then there is no test, and there is no point in trying to build a scientific theory of it. This would be true even if sentience is "emergent" since you still have to define that state in order to see if you produced it.

I say: This is not strictly true IME. What people are discovering is that sentience itself is not definable in strictly physical terms because what you end up trying to define are physical functions, the awareness of subjective experience. Claiming they are the same things is not helpful because when you go to define sentience – which Healyj says I never bothered doing, though I tried – you end up with terms that are not objective but subjective. So the hope is to define the objective functions off of which sentience is said to emerge and to create it that way. But when my friends looked at what would be involved to “produce” it, merely as a theoretical exercise, what they found is that neurobiologists et al had themselves often used subjective or meta terminology like “core self” and so forth, or considered sentience as a consequence of a panoply of functions involving memory, sensations, etc., none of which lent themselves to the code. Wish I had more time to go into this but I have a writing symposium to teach here in Carbondale so I gotta get cracking on that.

Ed wrote: Another issue for "consciousness" or "sentience" is the common experience that there is an earliest time that marks our own awareness of those states. we are not aware of being conscious while in the womb, or at birth, or anytime before 2 or 3 years of age...

where is "consciousness" then? where "sentience"? how does it come to be?

I say: My sense of it here is that our provisional ego “I” is really what you are talking about here, because you are saying some thing is coming into awareness, and sentience is not a thing but the awareness itself. And without some subjective experience with this material, this will not add up.

For the record, I said that sentience is the dynamic interplay or raw awareness, focus and attention. And that we DO NOT have free will over the content that arises in our Q Space (field of awareness), but rather we do, to lesser and greater degrees, have some free will per where we place our attention, and that greatly determines what plays out in our lives.

JL
MikeL

Trad climber
SANTA CLARA, CA
Jul 17, 2014 - 10:06am PT
Hi, Randisi:

Sure, I use concepts all the time. One cannot talk without them. However, I don't take them very concretely or seriously. it's just talk, you know?

As for being someone (me) who is purportedly dangerous, you might want to reconsider. You don't strike me as a fascist. (It seems those folks are always concerned about dangerous people who fall outside of the mainstream.)

It's not a Cartesian point of view, btw. It's a dharma point of view. :-) How much truth can one claim if one claims that nothing can be claimed?

Have you read Derrida? (Talk about rabbit holes!)
Jan

Mountain climber
Colorado, Nepal & Okinawa
Jul 17, 2014 - 10:42am PT
Thanks to PSP for his very simple and clear explanations, including his comparison of Buddhism and Christianity in their results.

I do agree that psychoanalysis often fails to produce any kind of transformation. Especially in academia we have all met people who have been in analysis for 20+ years and can describe their pain and the source of it in minute detail but never get beyond that.

On the other hand, I don't believe we can just will away serious trauma and to say so sounds dreadfully like an Ayn Rand version of psychology. Such a view it seems to me, can only be espoused by someone who has never suffered serious trauma in their life.

Think of a soldier returning from combat with PTSD. Do you really think it's useful or true to say that if he wills it he can turn off the nightmares and that not being hyper alert is a choice, that when he hears a car backfire, it is a choice to not hit floor but just go with the flow?

And where is the empathy for people who are suffering? It's all well and good for those of us with comfortable lives and interesting work to hypothesize abstracts, but what about those less fortunate?
Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
Maestro, Ecosystem Ministry, Fatcrackistan
Jul 17, 2014 - 11:20am PT
Thanks to PSP for his very simple and clear explanations

Ditto. As previously stated I appreciate his ability to correlate meditation practices to reality.

As opposed to esoteric points about 'where is the mind?' Its such a pointless... point.

DMT
another nickname

Social climber
Yazoo Ms
Jul 17, 2014 - 11:37am PT

I certainly don't know... but the point about philosophy "making progress" since Kant has been vigorously challenged by Brian MaGee, a now elderly former associate of Bertrand Russel and Karl Popper.

He suggests all of analytic philosophy is bunk & merely about analyzing language -- the tools of philosophy-- rather than making progress with philosophy. Says Popper mostly just revived some ideas from Hume. Says Wittgenstein was a Kantian & utterly misunderstood & not very significant.

Heidegger (it seems to me) was more about describing than explaining, & has certainly been restated in obfuscatory ways, by lots of writers since.
BLUEBLOCR

Social climber
joshua tree
Jul 17, 2014 - 11:54am PT
^^^ Huh, i thought pp's response to me was weak sauce. No depth
jgill

Boulder climber
Colorado
Jul 17, 2014 - 01:58pm PT
. . . we do, to lesser and greater degrees, have some free will per where we place our attention (JL)


It seems to me that once one accepts a deterministic path (in the sense that choices are made at some lower level of consciousness) it might be hard to deviate to encounter free will. A few simple examples might clarify your comment, John.
Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
Maestro, Ecosystem Ministry, Fatcrackistan
Jul 17, 2014 - 02:10pm PT
^^^ Huh, i thought pp's response to me was weak sauce. No depth

He doesn't kowtow to spiritualists from either side of the spectrum.

You just didn't get the answer you were aiming for....

DMT
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