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How to define consciousness?
Posted: 16 August 2010 05:14 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 46 ]
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StephenLawrence - 13 August 2010 01:38 AM

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

Sure, but the lens of the eye makes a picture of the world around us, doesn’t it? And it means cones/rods are activated. Which also means the visual nerves are transporting the ‘flashing trees’ to the visual cortex. And then? why didn’t you notice? Is the brain state of the person not noticing the flashing trees different from that of a person who does? If it is, what is then the difference of seeing the flashing trees or not?

StephenLawrence - 13 August 2010 01:38 AM

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.

Because I usually interpret such drawings as 3 dimensional, where one square is in the shadow, and other isn’t. It is a kind of overcompensation. If you as a consciousness researcher, would give me a task, based on a dark square and a light square, you would notice that I would take ‘B’ as a light square. But has there to be anymore to it, than the way I connect what I see here with other situations in which I saw similar things? I am ‘forced’ because of my past, to see the drawing as 3 dimensional, and the consistent view of the ‘shadow’ of the cylinder suggests to me A and B have the same colour, but B get less light. Now, where is my quale?

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Posted: 16 August 2010 05:53 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 47 ]
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StephenLawrence - 13 August 2010 02:25 AM

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

A ‘monist’ will do wink.

StephenLawrence - 13 August 2010 02:25 AM

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!

But what has that to do with ‘substance dualism’ or ‘substance monism’?

StephenLawrence - 13 August 2010 02:25 AM

Can this be real and monoism be true?

Yes, it can, but not necessary has to be, that is another topic. A monist view in one domain (substances) does not mean a monist in all domains (space/time).

StephenLawrence - 13 August 2010 02:25 AM

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

Well, in a certain way, yes. It is difficult to experience it differently, and that is one reason why it is so difficult to let dualism go. The dualism lies in the deepest of our language, and our view of the world is highly dependent on our language. That is for me the main reason that people believe in libertarian free will, or completely deny that free will exist (when libertarian free will is nonsense, then we have no free will). A monist view on the free will is unimaginable for both of them.

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Posted: 16 August 2010 07:18 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 48 ]
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kkwan - 13 August 2010 12:11 PM

Interesting findings on the energy consumed by the brain of a conscious person from this press release HERE

...
(1) What is the other 99 percent of energy consumption doing?
...
(2) 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.
...
(3) 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.”
...

Numbers by me.

(1) Keeping the brain alive? Keeping neurons in a state that they can be activated immediately? Normal RAM also needs energy doing nothing, i.e. doing nothing from a functional point of view. But without refreshing the contents every CPU cycle the contents would be lost.

(2) An anesthetized rat uses less energy in their brain? So the neurons are not as active as before, and the nerve signals do not make it until behind the visual cortex, so never get to the motoric cortex? And the rat does not react anymore? Let’s think about this….

(3) To say it has profound implications is too early definitely. How does Schulman come to the conclusion ‘consciousness (is) not a property of the brain, but of the person’? Could it be that consciousness depends on certain parts of the brain, and when these do not work correctly anymore that consciousness also disappears? What, in this context, is then a person? Does a person use energy? Is energy of the brain transported to the person? Or does the brain produce energy for the consciousness of the person? Is Shulman saying anything here?

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Posted: 16 August 2010 02:24 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 49 ]
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GdB - 16 August 2010 05:14 AM
StephenLawrence - 13 August 2010 01:38 AM

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

Sure, but the lens of the eye makes a picture of the world around us, doesn’t it? And it means cones/rods are activated. Which also means the visual nerves are transporting the ‘flashing trees’ to the visual cortex. And then? why didn’t you notice? Is the brain state of the person not noticing the flashing trees different from that of a person who does? If it is, what is then the difference of seeing the flashing trees or not?

The different brain states, what else? Surely we can check and see? Wire someone up and see the state of their brain when experiencing change blindness and see the transformation as they become aware of the change.

Stephen

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Posted: 16 August 2010 02:26 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 50 ]
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GdB - 16 August 2010 05:53 AM
StephenLawrence - 13 August 2010 02:25 AM

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

A ‘monist’ will do wink.

thanks for the correction.

Stephen

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Posted: 17 August 2010 02:26 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 51 ]
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StephenLawrence - 16 August 2010 02:24 PM

The different brain states, what else? Surely we can check and see? Wire someone up and see the state of their brain when experiencing change blindness and see the transformation as they become aware of the change.

Yes, that would be possible in principle. kkwan even gave an example of such a kind of experiment here in this thread. But what does it say about the quale of seeing the trees (or not)? You say when you were not aware, your quale did not change between ‘trees are there’ - ‘trees are not there’. What would that mean: you say the brain of somebody seeing the trees flashing is in a different state than somebody’s brain who does not. I bet it is. But the flashing trees enter the brain (via the optical nerves). Is there then an exact place in the brain where we become conscious, where we were not before? The place where the ‘flashing tree signals’ disappear, while I do not notice them? But if I find this place (like by kkwan’s rats), is this the place where the quale is? How could I tell? Only of one thing I can be sure: without seeing the flashing trees your brain switches differently then when you see them. But should I now ‘double reality’ by saying ‘not only your behaviour changed, and I see the difference in the brain; but unexplained, his qualia changed too’. Can consciousness not be exactly that: my changed brain state?

For one moment, suppose the idea of a p-zombie makes sense. Do not forget what a p-zombie is: per definition there is no third person way of distinguishing it from a conscious person. So it will report exactly what you reported: ‘no, I do not see any change’, and 20 seconds later ‘oh, now I see the change, it is the trees!’. And now asking if his qualia changed before he noticed the flashing trees, he will say, after some thinking ‘no, they did not change’. Careful: do not say ‘but a p-zombie has no qualia, it cannot report that’. Of course he can, otherwise I would have a possibility to distinguish p-zombies from real conscious persons. We could say, even the p-zombie thinks it has qualia. So, are you a zombie? Or can we just forget about the qualia and the p-zombies?

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Posted: 17 August 2010 01:39 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 52 ]
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GdB - 17 August 2010 02:26 AM

Yes, that would be possible in principle. kkwan even gave an example of such a kind of experiment here in this thread. But what does it say about the quale of seeing the trees (or not)?

It says seeing or not seeing is qualia. It says what you see depends in some sense on what your brain activity is.

I don’t see how there is any escaping this conclusion, but I am open minded because I know consciousness is such a complex mystery.

Stephen

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Posted: 17 August 2010 01:50 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 53 ]
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GdB - 16 August 2010 05:14 AM

Because I usually interpret such drawings as 3 dimensional, where one square is in the shadow, and other isn’t. It is a kind of overcompensation. If you as a consciousness researcher, would give me a task, based on a dark square and a light square, you would notice that I would take ‘B’ as a light square. But has there to be anymore to it, than the way I connect what I see here with other situations in which I saw similar things? I am ‘forced’ because of my past, to see the drawing as 3 dimensional, and the consistent view of the ‘shadow’ of the cylinder suggests to me A and B have the same colour, but B get less light. Now, where is my quale?

GdB

The qualia is what you see, which is one square lighter than the other.

The squares are in your external reality which again is qualia.

It’s all qualia.

Stephen

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Posted: 17 August 2010 11:02 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 54 ]
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StephenLawrence - 17 August 2010 01:39 PM
GdB - 17 August 2010 02:26 AM

Yes, that would be possible in principle. kkwan even gave an example of such a kind of experiment here in this thread. But what does it say about the quale of seeing the trees (or not)?

It says seeing or not seeing is qualia. It says what you see depends in some sense on what your brain activity is.

I don’t see how there is any escaping this conclusion, but I am open minded because I know consciousness is such a complex mystery.

No, it says that the flashing of trees has no further consequences in the brain, not in my memories, and not in my actions. It says that consciousness is something, it cannot be omitted when understanding sentient beings. But what it does not say that we must introduce something extra like qualia.

Imagine it would be possible for humans to build such complex structures as the brain. So we build one, wire it correctly (or feed it with input and implement a feedback mechanism based on the output), and at a certain point we can talk with it. ‘Is this a square?’ ‘Is this one lighter than that one?’ ‘Yeah, it seemed lighter, didn’t it?’ etc. Is there a mystery left? Or the other way round, play a little around with magnets. Isn’t it mysterious, if you look at it? Isn’t there some ghost in the magnets? How does one magnet knows that the other one is near? But scientists know how to make magnets. Mysterious or not? Now if we were able to build conscious systems: is it mysterious or not?

StephenLawrence - 17 August 2010 01:50 PM

The qualia is what you see, which is one square lighter than the other.

The squares are in your external reality which again is qualia.

It’s all qualia.

So how do I know there is an external reality? Are you a solipsist?

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Posted: 17 August 2010 11:43 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 55 ]
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GdB - 17 August 2010 11:02 PM

So how do I know there is an external reality? Are you a solipsist?

GdB

1)No I’m not a solipsist.

2) it doesn’t matter how you know there is an external reality.

What I think we know is the conscious experience isn’t of it.

If it was, our experience wouldn’t be (edit) One square darker than the other, when in fact both are the same shade of grey.

Stephen

[ Edited: 17 August 2010 11:49 PM by StephenLawrence ]
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Posted: 18 August 2010 02:24 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 56 ]
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StephenLawrence - 17 August 2010 11:43 PM

1)No I’m not a solipsist.

But you do not know reality, you only know your qualia! Isn’t that solipsism?

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Posted: 18 August 2010 03:22 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 57 ]
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Has anyone here ever had a discussion/debate with someone who espouses a “things only ‘exist’ when we perceive them, when we’re conscious of them; therefore, there must be a larger consciousness out there that ‘keeps’ everything in place” type argument?

I’ve encountered a few people who’ve argued this, and for the life of me, I cannot comprehend how anyone can arrive at the conclusion that that’s how things must be (which is what I’ve seen argued)


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Posted: 18 August 2010 04:46 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 58 ]
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Axegrrl - 18 August 2010 03:22 AM

Has anyone here ever had a discussion/debate with someone who espouses a “things only ‘exist’ when we perceive them, when we’re conscious of them; therefore, there must be a larger consciousness out there that ‘keeps’ everything in place” type argument?

I’ve encountered a few people who’ve argued this, and for the life of me, I cannot comprehend how anyone can arrive at the conclusion that that’s how things must be (which is what I’ve seen argued)

See: George Berkeley.

From there:

  There was a young man who said “God
  Must find it exceedingly odd

      To think that the tree
      Should continue to be

  When there’s no one about in the quad.”

  “Dear Sir: Your astonishment’s odd;
  I am always about in the quad.

      And that’s why the tree
      Will continue to be

  Since observed by, Yours faithfully, God.”

Ronald Knox

Well, OK I did not meet him…

GdB

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Posted: 18 August 2010 12:36 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 59 ]
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GdB - 18 August 2010 02:24 AM
StephenLawrence - 17 August 2010 11:43 PM

1)No I’m not a solipsist.

But you do not know reality, you only know your qualia! Isn’t that solipsism?

GdB

Depends how you define it.

I thought you mean’t, someone who believes objective reality doesn’t exist, or someone who doesn’t believe in other minds.

If you mean do I think I don’t know objective reality, or do I think it is unknowable, then my answer is it seems like that to me but that doesn’t feel right, the subject is very complex and I’m open to other points of view.

And, what is objective reality in any case?

I dunno GdB, I’m trying to stick with empirical evidence and see where it leads. I see a dark square and a lighter square in a case in which we “know” objectively they are both the same shade.

My question is where are the different coloured squares? Doug has answered “nowhere”, in the past. But it seems to me like they are in my external reality.

If I can experience what isn’t objective reality sometimes, I think it likely and might even follow that I don’t ever experience it.

Stephen

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Posted: 18 August 2010 03:01 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 60 ]
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StephenLawrence - 18 August 2010 12:36 PM

If I can experience what isn’t objective reality sometimes, I think it likely and might even follow that I don’t ever experience it.

Stephen

Objective reality is all a myth. It is all in our minds assuming there are other minds out there.  grin

Some people have stopped looking for God. Maybe some will stop looking for “objective reality”. People base their truth on something we may never have the capacity to know.

If there is an objective reality does it change anything? If there isn’t one?

Bat fly by sound waves. For us it’s hearing. However it is just a different frequency. Their brains likely interpret objects, colors a perception of a world we will never know. Is their perception of a sonic realty any more or less objectively real?

Seems kind of egotistical to think we can or even have a right to determine an objective reality.

I have to deal with the reality that appears before me. Anything someone wants to believe which exists outside of that doesn’t matter. It doesn’t change the reality I have to deal with.

How do you know these squares are the same color. What is color anyway except an interpretation of the mind?

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