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How to define consciousness?
Posted: 11 August 2010 02:02 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 31 ]
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GdB - 09 August 2010 11:24 PM
StephenLawrence - 09 August 2010 10:28 PM

I think Qualia exists because there is no objectively correct way to see red.  I might be wired up to see red as I actually see blue.

You can only say if ‘there is no objectively correct way to see red’ really means something. Can you give it a meaning without the idea of qualia?

StephenLawrence - 09 August 2010 10:28 PM

No brain activity, no consciousness, different brain activity, different conscious experience.

That is not necessary the case. OpenOffice running on Ubuntu Linux and on Windows 7 have definitely different PC activity, but functional they are exactly the same. How do you know that your seeing of red is not the same as my hearing of a sinus tone of 440 Hz? I know this sounds absurd, but if I really have no idea how red looks like for you, then I should take this into account. So how do you know? Isn’t it that a sound is functionally something completely different than sight? But in the same way, don’t we share functionally seeing red and seeing blue? (Red is a warning signal, is romantic when seeing it at the horizon…, blue means beautiful weather, clear sea, ....). And a colour blind person I recognise by him functioning differently: he finds my red painted fern has exactly the right colour.

Maybe you can try to answer Dennet’s question too. Try it!

GdB

Took me maybe 10 to 15 second to see the change. Most of that trying to figure out what the hell I was supposed to be doing. What I did though since I’ve done a number of these is look for a pattern of change I am familiar with. Something added/missing. Not sure how this relates to the picture of the question though.

However… I believe we think in patterns. The sub-conscious mind tries to fit a pre-defined pattern before presenting it to us consciously.  Since I’ve previously consciously set-up these patterns it’s a relatively quick process once I deal which the first unknown, i.e. fit the requirement of what the heck I was suppose to it’s own pattern.

I think these qualia are simply the sub-conscious patterns that get either consciously or unconsciously programmed into the brain. Sensory input is fit to a pattern which is not the entire range of sensory input. It’s done for the sake of brevity. Red fits a programmed pattern of redness. When we say red as descriptive for communicating an idea the receiving individual immediately adds in the “red” pattern. I suppose you could almost call it a waveform equation added to the overall mental picture.

We IMO do the same as we go through life. Subconsciously fitting most sensory input to a pre-programmed pattern and it’s the patten that is presented to the conscious awareness. However we also have the option to consciously by-pass the sub-conscious pattern routine and directly consciously examine the input. However normally I think in most cases our acceptance of reality is based on the subconscious pattern which is obviously not the actual sensory input but a mental construct which is not actual “reality”.

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Posted: 11 August 2010 09:16 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 32 ]
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GdB - 11 August 2010 12:47 AM

I know you can refuse, it is your free will. I am not forcing you. But to say it has nothing to do with qualia is plainly stupid. It is a question about qualia, about your qualia! I am sure you get into problems when you want to answer the question, and that is the reason why you refuse.

It is not stupid because even if one is blind, one can have qualia.

Just to cite a few authors who do not agree with Dennett is not enough for me. I could cite authors who agree. So what? If you want to understand this, or want to convince me he is not correct, you must give arguments.

I have, but it appears that Dennett has “brainwashed” you to the extent that you will not or cannot be receptive to alternative views.

This ‘reduction’ is an explanation, not a denying. You still have not made your point.

It is a radical reductive physicalist explanation, i.e. it is not holistic and it is not a realist position.

You see, you do not even understand. No, he is not the only one qualified, but one must give valid arguments. I find his arguments quite convincing, and see the misunderstandings of Velmans, SEP and you.

You are entitled to your opinion, even though I think his arguments are not convincing.

Suppose I say there is something in the box which cannot be detected by a third person view. Will it ever be detected?

Like quantum particles?

‘Find’ yes, but that is not some prove. That is exactly your problem. You ‘feel’ that D is not correct, but that is all you have to offer.

Can we “prove” that Dennett is not correct?

The opposition against Dennett has a clear reason: it seems to disturb the magic of consciousness. But if you want to explain consciousness, it is no use to explain it in terms of consciousness again, then you have still explained nothing. So if you understand consciousness in the frame of process philosophy, and that should be an explanation, you should be able to reduce it to simpler processes, that in themselves are not conscious. Otherwise it is no science at all. If you can’t, you are just saying we cannot understand consciousness, or worse, and I suspect you of that, don’t even want it to be explained.

The opposition to Dennett is wrt to his peculiar approach to consciousness which begs the question.

And I want to repeat it again: Dennet (and I) see consciousness as a process too. But not some process I cannot dive into with a third person view.

Phenomenological consciousness is a first person experience. To presume that it can be explained by a third person view (who is also a human and prone to the same fallibilities) is the problem of other minds.

From this essay on other minds in the SEP

There is the epistemological problem, concerned with how our beliefs about mental states other than our own might be justified. There is also a conceptual problem: how is it possible for us to form a concept of mental states other than our own.

[ Edited: 11 August 2010 09:20 PM by kkwan ]
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Posted: 11 August 2010 11:13 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 33 ]
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GdB - 09 August 2010 11:24 PM
StephenLawrence - 09 August 2010 10:28 PM

No brain activity, no consciousness, different brain activity, different conscious experience.

That is not necessary the case. OpenOffice running on Ubuntu Linux and on Windows 7 have definitely different PC activity, but functional they are exactly the same.

Still the point is the consciousness is directly to do with the activity.

So if these computers were conscious it would be directly to do with the activity, not the world out there.

I’m saying I think that must be one step removed.

So I think we do not see a red rose out there. If there is one at all, we never get to see it. Our brain responds to information about it. As the response, if it is conscious or if it produces consciousness is one step removed from objective reality, that is the qualia and the objective red rose out there is…... well, we’ll never know.

Stephen

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Posted: 11 August 2010 11:39 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 34 ]
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kkwan,

It is no use to discuss with you. I ask questions, I give arguments, but you come not further than saying I am brainwashed; or you give nonsense arguments. I ask a question about your qualia, and you say ‘it has nothing to do with qualia’, or ‘even if one is blind, one can have qualia’. Yes, we can talk about other qualia, but I gave you an interesting example about a quale that happens to be visual, and you refuse to work it out. I ask you a question about what possibly can be detected, and you refuse to answer. You say Dennet’s standpoint is reductionist, not holistic, and non-realistic, but you do not look into it. These kind of argumentations are the obvious signs of a closed mind. It does not fit in your world view, so it cannot be true.

You do not want consciousness to be explained.

You are closed minded.

GdB

[ Edited: 11 August 2010 11:58 PM by GdB ]
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Posted: 11 August 2010 11:47 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 35 ]
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StephenLawrence - 11 August 2010 01:28 AM

The answer is my qualia was not changing.

Sorry for the late reaction, but I wanted to wait for kkwan to answer the question. As he refuses to think about the topic of qualia, I will ‘give away’ my reaction on your ‘no’.

If qualia are the subjective counterparts in our experience of things out there, then how can it be that my experience changes (first you do not see the trees that change, then you see them), but your qualia don’t? If the qualia do not change, how can they be contents of your conscious experience?

GdB

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Posted: 11 August 2010 11:51 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 36 ]
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StephenLawrence - 11 August 2010 01:40 AM

I spoke about this once with someone who had the idea of a perfect brain and perfect eyes and the idea that what that being would be conscious of is the real red and beings who had a different experience of red would not be seeing the real red. This is the idea of an objectively correct seeing red that I doubt can be true.

Yep. What would count as a perfect eye, as a perfect brain? Perfect in what respect?

StephenLawrence - 11 August 2010 01:40 AM

You know red looks about the same to me as you because we are very similar creatures. But if I was an alien who evolved in a very different environment, perhaps microwaves would appear red and perhaps I would need to use instruments to detect “visual light” and those detectors would emit microwaves so I could see them.

I do not think you would associate the same things with microwaves as with red light, so, no, they would be completely different.

GdB

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Posted: 11 August 2010 11:57 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 37 ]
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Gnostikosis - 11 August 2010 02:02 PM

Took me maybe 10 to 15 second to see the change. Most of that trying to figure out what the hell I was supposed to be doing. What I did though since I’ve done a number of these is look for a pattern of change I am familiar with. Something added/missing. Not sure how this relates to the picture of the question though.

On the original picture, i.e. that Dennett has used you see a kitchen where nearly every cupboard is white. Except in one of the pictures, one door is brown.

Gnostikosis - 11 August 2010 02:02 PM

I think these qualia are simply the sub-conscious patterns that get either consciously or unconsciously programmed into the brain.

Sub-conscious is at least (still) unconsious, isn’t it? But that defies the definition of qualia as the contents of our experience.

GdB

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Posted: 12 August 2010 10:59 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 38 ]
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GdB - 11 August 2010 11:47 PM


If qualia are the subjective counterparts in our experience of things out there, then how can it be that my experience changes (first you do not see the trees that change, then you see them), but your qualia don’t? If the qualia do not change, how can they be contents of your conscious experience?

GdB

I don’t think I understand what you are asking? My idea is we don’t experience things out there. Sometimes what we experience relates more accurately to what is out there than others. Perhaps you’ll try again.

I saw trees changing after a while. Before that I’m not sure what I saw? Did I see trees permanently there, or what? Both were my qualia but the latter qualia related to the world out there more accurately.

Here is an optical illusion http://www.moillusions.com/2006/03/colored-squares-illusion.htmlhese

Both squares A and B are the same shade of grey but one looks lighter than the other.

they way I see it for now,  these different squares are my conscious experience, but are not objective reality. They are in my world out there and so it follows that my world out there is not the world out there, assuming there is such a thing.

Stephen

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Posted: 12 August 2010 11:20 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 39 ]
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StephenLawrence - 12 August 2010 10:59 PM

I don’t think I understand what you are asking? My idea is we don’t experience things out there. Sometimes what we experience relates more accurately to what is out there than others. Perhaps you’ll try again.

Qualia are supposed to be the contents of my consciousness, the way how I feel, without erring. So in your example (but you must correct your link!) square A looks darker, which would correspond you have a quale of ‘being darker then B’, event that they are the same. So in your example there is no problem to suppose that there are qualia.

But in the change blindness example it is different. You say your quale did not change, after you discovered the changing part in the picture. But first not seeing it and then seeing it, you were in fact unconscious of the change. But the very definition of a quale is that it is conscious. And you erred about the quale: you thought there was no change in the beginning, now it turns out there is. So two of the essential attributes of qualia do not apply. Do qualia exist then?

GdB

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Posted: 12 August 2010 11:43 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 40 ]
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GdB - 12 August 2010 11:20 PM

But in the change blindness example it is different. You say your quale did not change, after you discovered the changing part in the picture.

check back and see, so will I. I think the question was did it change whilst I was change blind and my answer to that was no.

Stephen

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Posted: 13 August 2010 01:03 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 41 ]
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StephenLawrence - 12 August 2010 11:43 PM

check back and see, so will I. I think the question was did it change whilst I was change blind and my answer to that was no.

Sorry, you are right. So let’s see what happens: the flashing trees enter your eye, go to your virtual cortex, and then somehow… disappear. Where do you suppose the qualia are residing? On a screen in your brain, not seen by consciousness, you were just looking at the wrong places? Can you explain what qualia are in a non dualistic way? Or is dualism unavoidable?

GdB

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Posted: 13 August 2010 01:38 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 42 ]
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GdB - 13 August 2010 01:03 AM

So let’s see what happens: the flashing trees enter your eye, go to your virtual cortex, and then somehow… disappear.

They don’t disappear, there just was no consciousness of that.

Where do you suppose the qualia are residing? On a screen in your brain, not seen by consciousness, you were just looking at the wrong places?

There is no qualia without consciousness so the qualia aren’t residing anywhere


Can you explain what qualia are in a non dualistic way? Or is dualism unavoidable?

The qualia is the experience.

Try this question. How can I experience seeing one square darker than the other, when in fact both are the same, without that being qualia?  How things appear to me.

Stephen

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Posted: 13 August 2010 02:25 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 43 ]
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An aside GdB,

I like to think of myself as a monoist but how can I be?

The problem is there is no way I can shake off this moving along now. Later today is getting closer and closer! I believe it!

Can this be real and monoism be true?

It looks to me like we’re all stuck with being dualists, at least in this sense, whether we like it or not.

Stephen

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Posted: 13 August 2010 06:51 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 44 ]
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GdB - 11 August 2010 11:39 PM

I ask you a question about what possibly can be detected, and you refuse to answer.

You do not want consciousness to be explained.

Not so. Change blindness (CB) wrt to consciousness need not imply changes in qualia.

From the encyclopedia of cognitive science on change blindness

The idea is that in fact the experience of seeing does not derive from the activation, inside the brain, of an “icon” of the outside world. Rather, the experience of seeing is somewhat like the temporally extended, multifacetted experience of driving a car, involving a kind of “give and take” between the observer and the environment, a kind of attunement to the laws that link the observer’s actions to the changes in sensory input.

Under this view, the outside world serves as a form of “external memory”. Only those aspects of the environment that are currently being “visually manipulated”, are actually available for conscious processing at a given moment. We have the impression of seeing everything because we know we have access to everything, even though without actually accessing something, no detailed information is available about it. This explains the apparent paradox between the feeling of richness we have of our visual environments, and our striking inability, in change blindness experiments, of knowing what has changed.

BTW, I did look at your CB picture as well as all the examples of CB at the encyclopedia website. After reading and acquiring knowledge on CB from the encyclopedia on these pictures, I could detect the changes in all the pictures within 10 seconds.

As Bertrand Russell pointed out, knowledge by acquaintance (as opposed to knowledge by description), is an important element in human consciousness. In other words, after acquiring knowledge, we are now conscious of CB (consequently we know what to look for), therefore it is easy to spot the changes in all the CB pictures.

As conscious intelligent humans with complex adaptive mind/brains, we have the ability to learn, understand and quickly adapt to the situation (CB) without that much effort. That is the reality and it is not the anti-realist reductive model of consciousness (without qualia) that Dennett proposes.

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Posted: 13 August 2010 12:11 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 45 ]
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Interesting findings on the energy consumed by the brain of a conscious person from this press release HERE

High levels of brain energy are required to maintain consciousness, a finding which suggests a new way to understand the properties of this still mysterious state of being, Yale University researchers report.

At its simplest, consciousness can be defined as the ability to respond meaningfully to external stimuli.  Most studies of consciousness have used imaging technology to try to pinpoint areas of brain activity during tasks such as memorization or problem solving.

There are two problems with such an approach, said Robert G. Shulman, Sterling Professor Emeritus of molecular biophysics and biochemistry at Yale and lead author of the paper, to be published this week in the online edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.  First, functional magnetic resonance imaging has shown that many areas of the brain, not just one or two, are recruited during tasks such as memory tests and are scant help in studying the state of being conscious. Second, the amount of energy used in such tasks is minute, about one percent of baseline energy available to the brain.

“Neuroimaging has been looking at the tip of the iceberg,” Shulman said. “We looked at the rest of the iceberg.”

What is the other 99 percent of energy consumption doing?

Shulman and colleagues have proposed that it is needed to maintain a person in a state of consciousness. Heavily anesthetized people are known to show approximately 50 percent reductions in cerebral energy consumption.  When the paws of lightly anesthetized rats with rather high baseline energy levels were stroked, fMRI signals were received in the sensory cortex and in many other areas of the brain. In heavily anesthetized rats the signal stopped at the sensory cortex. Both the total energy and the fMRI signals changed when the person or animal lost consciousness.

“What we propose is that a conscious person requires a high level of brain energy,” Shulman said.

The finding has profound implications for our understanding of the connection between the brain and consciousness, Shulman said. “You can think of consciousness not as a property of the brain, but of the person.”

Anesthesiologists consider a person to be in a behavioral state of consciousness when he or she can respond to simple stimuli. Properties of this state, such as the high energy and the delocalized fMRI signals, allow the person to perform the interconnected activities that make up our everyday lives.  Shulman suggests that these more energetic properties of the brain support human behavior and should be considered when interpreting the much weaker signals that are typically recorded during fMRI studies.

Other Yale researchers involved in the study are professors Fahmeed Hyder and Douglas L. Rothman.

The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health.

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