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Author Topic: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?  (Read 309247 times)

Offline DonQuichotte

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What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« on: 28/08/2013 21:38:56 »
What ,on Earth, is The Human Consciousness ?

Source : My own Consciousness or Self-Awareness ,or whatever :

Humanity has been struggling with this almost impossible issue of human consciousness for so long now that there seems to be no end to that eternal struggle  in sight so far , science cannot , per definition, even approach as such , for obvious reasons .

The materialistic approach of human consciousness fails pathetically indeed .

If that materialistic approach of consciousness is true , how come we cannot "convert " thoughts to brain waves , and vice versa ,if human consciousness was indeed created by our evolved brains then ? ,to mention just that in fact .

If our consciousness was the product of the evolutionary complexity of our brains , human consciousness as a means or process to make any sense of reality , and the human brain as a tool to approach reality via our senses ,science , reason, logic ...the approach of reality via our senses thus as just a representation of reality in fact , then it's pretty logical to assume that all our knowledge , including the scientific one thus , including our knowledge of evolution itself , are just the products of evolution,via the natural selection = pragmatic survival strategies : it's pretty logical to question the very validity and truth of all that human knowledge and the sense of reality itself , not to mention the fact that evolution fails to explain human progress, for example , human progress as a meaningless notion or concept , in evolutionary terms at least .

 


What do you think about just that , dear folks ?.

Will humanity be ever able to know what the nature of human consciousness is ?

Human consciousness even science itself cannot exist , let alone function without  , even though scientists would be happy without it : a paradox indeed .

Human consciousness even religion or any other human activity for that matter ,cannot do without .

What is human consciousness in fact ?

Every definition existing out there on the subject falls too short to capture  such an extremely elusive , deceptive , dynamic and evolutionary process such as human consciousness : the latter is not an "entity"  indeed , it seems to me at least , even though human individual subjective  consciousness possesses some core relatively unchanging element in itself ,called the Self it refers constantly to,or some core unchanging element of the self at least   .

Subjective human consciousness that does have some universal elements ,in the sense that we are all, in principle at least , conscious beings .

Thanks, folks , appreciate indeed

All the best

If some wise guy here wanna collect that trillion dollars haha award , i do refer him / her to the Nobel prize jury  instead .

I do not understand why or how humans could / can ignore such a huge issue of human consciousness though, the latter as THE key to almost everything  .

Ciao

« Last Edit: 28/08/2013 21:57:59 by DonQuichotte »


 

Offline alancalverd

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Selfawareness is no big deal. It's essential for the survival of any animal and probably plants too. It's very difficult to define an abstract property directly, but we can say that an animal is selfaware if it responds to a stimulus in a manner particularly tuned to itself. I think this is most obvious where an animal assesses that a task is beyond its capability without actually trying it. This isn't a foolproof or absolute test: in the absence of any alternative, a dog will eventually turn and fight a bigger dog, but given the opportunity to run away or make an appeasing gesture, it will do so. For some reason that eludes me, some people prefer to say "posseses selfawareness" instead of "is selfaware", as though selfawareness exists outside and independent of living things. Such loose thinking has no place in science.     

The problem with consciousness is that nobody who uses the word ever says what they mean by it, and loose thinking is endemic to the subject. We can say that an animal is conscious if it responds other than autonomically to a stimulus. Shouting "what is your name?" may produce an autonomic cringe in a person who is by all definitions unconscious, but the measured response of "dunno" (or even a widening of the eyes)  to the whispered question is a conscious one. So by analogy, we might expect consciousness to be the abstract property "possessed by" conscious animals. But I don't get the impression that philosophers and other woolly-minded individuals would like to be pinned down to such a definition - there's no academic mileage in it!   

So I'm with you on one point at least. There is no entity of consciousness. Frankly, there are so many real, important and interesting entities in the world that I don't see any point in spending time discussing one that doesn't exist.
 

Offline cheryl j

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #2 on: 29/08/2013 02:59:54 »
I disagree that we have failed pathetically to understand human consciousness. With no scientific tools at all human beings have managed to have great insights about their behavior and their own motivations, good and bad. Now with science, there is an accelerating rate of knowledge about how the brain works, involving perception, memory, learning, emotions, and the underlying biochemistry. Sometimes knowledge comes slowly in bits and pieces, and sometimes it comes in revolutionary insights, but either way, it comes. Before you jump to the conclusion that science has no answers to these important philosophical questions - are you even following the research these days? Here is my challenge to you: Subscribe to the journal "Nature" for one year. Read the neuroscience articles. Then tell me if you feel the same way.
« Last Edit: 29/08/2013 03:05:15 by cheryl j »
 

Offline David Cooper

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #3 on: 29/08/2013 20:57:57 »
If you program a machine to have the intelligence of a human, will it claim to experience anything in the way of consciousness? The answer is no, unless you program it to generate fictions about consciousness. Consciousness is all about feelings, ranging from a nebulous feeling of awareness through to more stark qualia such as pain, blueness, love, etc. Machines don't have feelings, and science has not identified any mechanism by which we can have them either.

You would think that if they were real it would be easy to propose a mechanism by which pain could be real, and this is important because without real pain (and similar unpleasant qualia) there can be no such thing as suffering, while without real suffering there can be no role for morality as no one can ever be harmed. It should be simple if it's real - you should be able to propose a mechanism by which something really simple like a worm can experience real pain when someone pokes it with something sharp. The same mechanism would then work for us as well, and we'd be able to pin down the actual thing in the system that does the suffering and label it as the sentience in the machine (a minimalist soul).

However, so such sentience can be found. It appears that we must be machines which report feelings that are nothing more than a fiction, but this fiction is part of an extraordinary illusion which enables the system to fool itself into creating a whole stack of information about a fake phenomenon and to believe that this information is true even though it cannot trace it back to the source to find out how it was generated.
 

Offline DonQuichotte

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #4 on: 29/08/2013 21:58:48 »
Hi, dear folks :
Pardon me for not being able momentarily to respond to all those posts you were kind enough to write , simply because i spent too much time in another thread .
So, i will just say the following instead :
First of all : how can the unconscious matter give rise to the immaterial consciousness ? or how could the evolved brain "create " consciousness ? : you gotta try to come up with some explanation more serious and better than those materialistic so-called computation or emergence property theory mechanisms though ...

Seond : How could  the mechanisms of the biological evolution via the natural selection be applied to the non-biological ones ? ,and that  despite all the historic antecedents in that  regard as warnings from history : Eugenics , social Darwinism ...?

How can science approach a subjective "thing " or rather process such as consciousness ?
Science which , per definition, cannot prove neither the fact that we are conscious beings nor the fact as a result that we have inner lives ?

Finally : who can tell me what consciousness  exactly  is or rather what its nature or function are ?

I do not think any intelligent person can have any answer to the latter question at least , that's in fact a non-question ,simply because there is no answer to it .


P.S.: It would be also nice if someone would try to answer my questions and remarks in this thread's opening article : if someone already did , i thank him / her for that : i will read all your posts later on indeed .
Thanks, appeciate indeed .

Take care



« Last Edit: 29/08/2013 22:01:37 by DonQuichotte »
 

Offline alancalverd

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #5 on: 30/08/2013 00:21:23 »
So, to summarise, you want someone to explain how consciousness has evolved, but you state that nobody knows what consciousness is.

I will give you a complete explanation in exchange for an accurate answer to a much simpler question: How long is this piece of string? 

Hint: the string may not exist, and that wasn't the piece I meant.   
 

Offline David Cooper

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #6 on: 30/08/2013 18:26:53 »
First of all : how can the unconscious matter give rise to the immaterial consciousness ? or how could the evolved brain "create " consciousness ? : you gotta try to come up with some explanation more serious and better than those materialistic so-called computation or emergence property theory mechanisms though ...

The standard answer is that consciousness emerges out of complexity. Nothing experiences pain other than something that emerges out of complexity while all the components of the system feel nothing. When you torture someone, you are torturing a complex arrangement of parts and not the parts themselves. Sentient geometrical arrangements!

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Finally : who can tell me what consciousness  exactly  is or rather what its nature or function are ?

The function appears to be to drive an animal to fight for survival and to do all manner of things that will make its survival more likely. The problem is that it appears to be impossible for it to be anything more than a fiction.

Take a simple case. Prod a worm with something sharp, it feels pain and tries to get away from the thing causing it pain. Now make a robot to display the same behaviour: a touch sensor is pressed with something sharp, the robot tries to get away from the thing that touched it. No pain in the robot. How can we add pain to the system? Let's hide the pain mechanism in a box and not worry about it. The input from the sensor goes into the box where pain is felt, then an output from the box goes on to trigger the robot into moving away from the sharp thing. That works, but the content of the box adds nothing to the functionality, and it's also impossible for the computer in charge of moving the robot to determine whether pain was felt in the box at all. That is the problem with consciousness - there is no way for an information system to interface with qualia in such a manner as to know anything about them. All it can do is map assertions of sensation to inputs which are supposedly sensations.
 

Offline DonQuichotte

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #7 on: 30/08/2013 19:26:06 »
So, to summarise, you want someone to explain how consciousness has evolved, but you state that nobody knows what consciousness is.

I will give you a complete explanation in exchange for an accurate answer to a much simpler question: How long is this piece of string? 

Hint: the string may not exist, and that wasn't the piece I meant.

God ...

Simply put , once again : that materialistic approach of life as just biological or material processes is not only dangerous and incorrect , but it is also a matter of a world view of materialism ,which has nothing to do with science itself .

The immaterial human consciousness is therefore no biological process , even though it relies on the brain mainly ,and vice versa ....= the evolved biological or physical material brain did not produce the immaterial consciousness .
When you will get that , we can go further from there .
In other words :
You are not talking science here , you are just confusing materialism  as a world view with science : see the difference ?
 

Offline DonQuichotte

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #8 on: 30/08/2013 19:47:40 »
First of all : how can the unconscious matter give rise to the immaterial consciousness ? or how could the evolved brain "create " consciousness ? : you gotta try to come up with some explanation more serious and better than those materialistic so-called computation or emergence property theory mechanisms though ...

The standard answer is that consciousness emerges out of complexity. Nothing experiences pain other than something that emerges out of complexity while all the components of the system feel nothing. When you torture someone, you are torturing a complex arrangement of parts and not the parts themselves. Sentient geometrical arrangements!

Emergent property theory regarding consciousness at least is just a materialistic world view or a materialistic interpretation of human consciousness , not a scientific fact , a fact i must remind you of .

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Finally : who can tell me what consciousness  exactly  is or rather what its nature or function are ?

The function appears to be to drive an animal to fight for survival and to do all manner of things that will make its survival more likely. The problem is that it appears to be impossible for it to be anything more than a fiction.

I am talking here about the human consciousness ...exclusively though .
That said : if human consciousness as a process which tries to make any sense of reality was produced by the evolved human brain as a tool to approach reality via our senses by creating a certain representation of reality , if human consciousness is just an illusion as you put it ,then it's pretty logical to assume indeed that the human consciousness was / is just a survival pragmatic strategy ,  then it's pretty logical to question the very validity or truth of all our senses of reality , of all our knowledge, including the scientific one, including our knowledge regarding evolution itself = a real paradox .

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Take a simple case. Prod a worm with something sharp, it feels pain and tries to get away from the thing causing it pain. Now make a robot to display the same behaviour: a touch sensor is pressed with something sharp, the robot tries to get away from the thing that touched it. No pain in the robot. How can we add pain to the system? Let's hide the pain mechanism in a box and not worry about it. The input from the sensor goes into the box where pain is felt, then an output from the box goes on to trigger the robot into moving away from the sharp thing. That works, but the content of the box adds nothing to the functionality, and it's also impossible for the computer in charge of moving the robot to determine whether pain was felt in the box at all. That is the problem with consciousness - there is no way for an information system to interface with qualia in such a manner as to know anything about them. All it can do is map assertions of sensation to inputs which are supposedly sensations.

Well, that should convince you of the obvious fact that the living   organisms and machines or robots are 2 different things :
Pain is real to the living   organisms , it's not an illusion , try to explain it then ,if you can : you cannot do that just via biology neurology ...
The living  organisms are therefore conscious , robots are not , robots can only simulate consciousness maybe ..

But , only humans are self-aware though : why is that ? there is no need or "purpose " for evolution to make humans self-aware,for example  ...= evolution cannot explain the unique human consciousness or the unique human self-awarness ,not just via biology at least, and certainly not via that emergent property theory as a materialistic world view ,which has nothing to do with science  .
Come on, get real sir , please .
 

Offline alancalverd

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #9 on: 31/08/2013 00:07:07 »
The immaterial human consciousness is therefore no biological process

Never mind what it isn't. Just tell us what it is, and we'll discuss its origins. Or if you can't say what it is, tell us what it does.

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You are not talking science here , you are just confusing materialism  as a world view with science : see the difference ?

Where on earth did you get the idea that you can read and interpret thoughts I haven't expressed? All I have done is to consistently ask you what you mean by consciousness, and all you do is to ignore the question.

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But , only humans are self-aware though

That is demonstrably - indeed obviously - untrue. If you start from an untrue premise, you will end up with a theology at best, via insanity, to an appalling political philosophy at worst. Or do you have some personal definition of awareness that only applies to hairless apes?
« Last Edit: 31/08/2013 08:27:38 by alancalverd »
 

Offline DonQuichotte

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #10 on: 31/08/2013 21:16:29 »
The immaterial human consciousness is therefore no biological process

Never mind what it isn't. Just tell us what it is, and we'll discuss its origins. Or if you can't say what it is, tell us what it does.

You should try to read the article of this thread carefully instead : do not be silly .

Every definition of human consciousness at least ,out there   fails to "capture " it , so , nobody has an exact defintion of our elusive deceptive consciousness, simply because there are many  levels of human consciousness,simply because human consciousness is mainly  an immmaterial dynamic process ,despite the fact that it relies partly on the brain and vice versa and despite what materialists would say about human consciousness  ,and simply because the study of consciousness is no exact science , it's mainly an art though, even though neuro-science  can shed some light on  how the brain functions, relatively speaking , because there is still a lot to know about an extremely  complex organ such as the human brain ...because , because , because ... = you might be the only one on this tiny planet to know the very nature of consciousness nobodyelse knows , who knows ?

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You are not talking science here , you are just confusing materialism  as a world view with science : see the difference ?

Where on earth did you get the idea that you can read and interpret thoughts I haven't expressed? All I have done is to consistently ask you what you mean by consciousness, and all you do is to ignore the question.

See above :
Well, you said on this thread that human consciousness does not exist as such , and other similar things i do not recall right now , mainly  a materialist would say , so .

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But , only humans are self-aware though
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That is demonstrably - indeed obviously - untrue. If you start from an untrue premise, you will end up with a theology at best, via insanity, to an appalling political philosophy at worst. Or do you have some personal definition of awareness that only applies to hairless apes?

You'are talking crazy here ........restrain your wild imagination...
(Prior note : in Islam , there is the assumption that non-human species or non-human organisms, including plants , animals .....do glorify and praise God in a way we do not know : how that happens and what it means exactly , we do not know either ,so , i am not gonna go into that ...i am  just responding via this example to your wild speculations as displayed here above .)

That put aside :

Bombastic talk again : did you ever meet a dog , cat , chimp ....who is or rather which is self-aware ? in the sense that it is aware of its existence , of itself ? that it is aware of its inner life or at least has one ?
A dog might have dreams ,for example ,but when even humans dream (i am not talking here about day dreaming of humans at least  ) , they are unconscious , let alone that they would be self-aware while sleeping and dreaming  at least .
The fact that some chimps might "recognize" themselves in the mirror , apparently it seems , or maybe that's just our human interpretation of their behavior in front of the mirror, does not prove conclusively that they might have or experience some degree of self-awarness, i guess, i do not know for sure thus either, but i do not think any non-human living organism for that matter is self-aware , simply because any degree of self-awarness implies some corresponding degree of intellectual process at least  .
Animals are "conscious" (a reduced form of consciousness , compared to that extended one  of man = there is no comparison between the 2 in fact ) : they experience feel pain, experience feel hunger , anger , sadness, joy ....but animals or any other non-human  living organism can never be self-aware in the above mentioned sense at least .I do not know for sure .
That said , this thread is mainly about human consciousness though , even though studying other living species might shed some sort of light on our consciousness, ...
« Last Edit: 31/08/2013 21:35:02 by DonQuichotte »
 

Offline alancalverd

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #11 on: 31/08/2013 23:19:30 »
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Well, you said on this thread that human consciousness does not exist as such

On the contrary, you suggested it might not. I still have no idea what it is or what it does, as you refuse to tell me,  so I can't possibly say whether it exists or not. 

I think I've had enough of this drivel. From what you say, Islam offers a collection of wholly unsubstantiated assertions of human vanity and no insight into the workings of nature. Either you are doing it a disservice, or it is stultifying your obvious intellect. Your problem, not mine.   
 

Offline DonQuichotte

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #12 on: 01/09/2013 18:04:49 »
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Well, you said on this thread that human consciousness does not exist as such

On the contrary, you suggested it might not. I still have no idea what it is or what it does, as you refuse to tell me,  so I can't possibly say whether it exists or not.
 

I think I've had enough of this drivel. From what you say, Islam offers a collection of wholly unsubstantiated assertions of human vanity and no insight into the workings of nature. Either you are doing it a disservice, or it is stultifying your obvious intellect. Your problem, not mine.

I never implied , let alone that i ever said , that consciousness does not exist : learn to read , bombastic wild guy ;

Here is your own statement below , i was referring to :

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So I'm with you on one point at least. There is no entity of consciousness. Frankly, there are so many real, important and interesting entities in the world that I don't see any point in spending time discussing one that doesn't exist.

As for the rest of your gibberish : irrelevent .

« Last Edit: 01/09/2013 18:07:13 by DonQuichotte »
 

Offline DonQuichotte

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #13 on: 01/09/2013 18:22:38 »
The key to approaching human consciousness is by acknowledging its immaterial  nature , and by acknowledging the fact that it could not/ cannot  be a product of the evolved brain :

Materialists cannot but consider human consciousness ,life itself , and the rest of the universe or reality as just material processes , in order to validate materialism as a world view , otherwise they would be contradicting their own materialism in the process :

In short and in other words :

The reality of the universe , life ....is not only material,and therefore the biological evolution cannot be applied to the whole reality or to the non-biological sides  of human consciousness, life , the universe ...  .

Human consciousness and life in general , do have biological sides , but also immaterial ones , in the sense that life has both a biological and immaterial side , and human consciousness has a biological side represented by its mutual interaction with the brain ,but human consciousness is in fact immaterial .

Therefore, to reduce man, life , the universe  to just material or biological processes is a false assumption that's inherent and intrinsic to materialism as a world view .

  Get that , folks ? Hope so indeed .
 

Offline David Cooper

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #14 on: 01/09/2013 18:31:34 »
Some right, some wrong, but doesn't take things on board.

Solution?

Unfollow.
 

Offline DonQuichotte

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #15 on: 01/09/2013 20:11:49 »
Some right, some wrong, but doesn't take things on board.

Solution?

Unfollow.

Why is that and how ?

Narrow-minded materialistic exclusive reductionistic mechanical outdated refuted and largely discredited attitude and world view .

The assumption that life is just a matter of material biological processes ,and therefore human consciousness is just a biological process or illusion , or that reality ie exclusively material ...are just : assumptions : materialistic assumptions, to be more precize , materialism as a world view, philosophy , paradigm... which can be traced back to its Eurocentric cultural philosophical ...historic context as a rebellion against the medieval church : materialism as a world view which has not much to do with ...science proper ,despite the great achievements of materialism at the level of  exact sciences at least , and even at that level modern physics or quantum physics , the theory of chaos of maths ......do refute that deterministic materialism .
It's pretty logical therefore to understand how and why materialism fails pathetically at the level of human sciences, ....no wonder .

Sweet dreams in your materialictic wonderland, Alice .

« Last Edit: 01/09/2013 20:16:36 by DonQuichotte »
 

Offline dlorde

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #16 on: 01/09/2013 21:31:35 »
Narrow-minded materialistic exclusive reductionistic mechanical outdated refuted and largely discredited attitude and world view .
sounds familiar...

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..., the theory of chaos of maths ......do refute that deterministic materialism .
Not really, no. As I explained to you in another thread, the mathematical theory of chaos is explicitly deterministic.
« Last Edit: 01/09/2013 21:38:01 by dlorde »
 

Offline David Cooper

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #17 on: 02/09/2013 17:35:48 »
Of course, I'm not actually that good at unfollowing things, so I looked in to see what you'd say.

You can build your idea of consciousness using any kind of magic you like, but the problem you need to face up to is that it still has to interface with a mechanical information system at some point, because it's a mechanical information system that constructs all our thoughts and which expresses them both internally and externally (in the latter case through speech). Read the logical argument at http://www.magicschoolbook.com/consciousness.html. Start with the conclusions at the end so that you can see where it's going. If you can propose a serious mechanism for getting past this problem, the whole world will be interested. Consciousness feels too real to be an illusion, but reason appears to show that it must be an illusion, no matter how much we dislike that idea. Our brains as information systems produce data which makes extraordinary claims about consciousness, but we should not trust it unless we can see how those claims are created and what they are based on. There appears to be no possible way for information systems to access sensations of any kind, so they are almost certainly making mere assertions which go beyond their competence. Alternatively, reason itself may be fundamentally wrong, in which case you need to work out which bit of reason is wrong so that we can ditch it.

Most people are unable to get to the point where they even understand the problem, so I won't hold my breath.
 

Offline dlorde

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #18 on: 02/09/2013 18:11:03 »
... Consciousness feels too real to be an illusion, but reason appears to show that it must be an illusion, no matter how much we dislike that idea.

While I agree with what you say, there are semantic problems with calling consciousness an illusion, because it implies that consciousness doesn't 'really' exist, yet we obviously are 'conscious' and have a sense of self, and awareness, etc., and there's a whole bunch of objective observations we can make to determine whether someone is conscious or not; so consciousness is a real phenomenon of some kind. It's just that it isn't what it subjectively seems to be; i.e. it is a misleading experience. In an illusionist analogy, consciousness is the trick, and the illusion is that it's content and/or activities aren't what they appear to be. Unfortunately, 'consciousness' is used somewhat ambiguously to mean both the objective state (of awareness, etc.), and the subjective experience (what it's like), which confuses things.

Hmm... not the epitome of clarity, I'm afraid. I may have to revise or withdraw it when I'm not so frazzled.

« Last Edit: 02/09/2013 18:13:03 by dlorde »
 

Offline David Cooper

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #19 on: 03/09/2013 18:14:32 »
While I agree with what you say, there are semantic problems with calling consciousness an illusion, because it implies that consciousness doesn't 'really' exist, yet we obviously are 'conscious' and have a sense of self, and awareness, etc., and there's a whole bunch of objective observations we can make to determine whether someone is conscious or not; so consciousness is a real phenomenon of some kind.

It isn't that simple. You can have a deluded inteligent computer system which makes incorrect judgements which lead to the generation of data which asserts that feelings are felt in the system without any feelings actually being felt in the system at all. These data making assertions that feelings are felt are then used within the thinking of the system as proof that feelings are felt, but they're all based on untruths. There is no consciousness in such a system, but it continually asserts both to us and to itself that there is.

We may be the same as that deluded system. It doesn't feel as if that is the case, of course, because we can stick pins in ourselves and imagine that we feel the pain, but is there really any pain there or are we just being fooled into thinking that there is? And where is the "I" in the machine that is feeling this pain? In a computer, no matter how intelligent the software becomes, there will never be an "I" in it capable of feeling anything. Science has failed to find an "I" in us too - all we have to go on are the pronouncements of the information systems within us which assert that there is an "I" inside us somewhere feeling feelings, and yet the information systems which create the data that documents this phenomenon cannot be trusted as it should be impossible for them to access such knowledge. That is the formidible barrier we are up against.

Science may some day be able to trace back the path by which this data is generated to see what it is actually based on, at which point we will either be able to see the point at which it is created as a fiction (which will show that there is no such thing as consciousness other than as a fiction), or it will lead us to something extraordinary which takes us far beyond our current understanding of science and reason. It seems most likely that all that's happening is that assertions are being mapped to inputs such that an input signal which may represent damage being done has the idea of "pain" mapped to it by the information system, and then that fiction of pain is never questioned. There cannot be a transmission of knowledge of actual pain in the input signal itself unless it comes ready packaged as data which speaks of pain, but if it came in that form it would have to be written in the same language as used by the information system collecting that data, which either means that part of the information system is on the other end of the input signal line or another information system that happens to speak the same language is at that other end, but either way the problem is merely transferred - the data system at the far end would still have to know that the pain is real, and yet it can't. All it can do is make an assumption that pain is involved and then assert as much in the data.
« Last Edit: 03/09/2013 18:16:49 by David Cooper »
 

Offline dlorde

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #20 on: 03/09/2013 19:58:59 »
It isn't that simple. You can have a deluded inteligent computer system which makes incorrect judgements which lead to the generation of data which asserts that feelings are felt in the system without any feelings actually being felt in the system at all. These data making assertions that feelings are felt are then used within the thinking of the system as proof that feelings are felt, but they're all based on untruths. There is no consciousness in such a system, but it continually asserts both to us and to itself that there is.
This sounds a bit like the philosophical zombies. Personally, I'd say that if an intelligent computer system can really be deluded (i.e. be able hold a belief in the face of contradictory evidence), that's pretty good evidence for consciousness ;) But seriously, if such a system displays all the behavioural characteristics of consciousness appropriately, how can we say it is not conscious? after all, that's how we judge consciousness, even subjectively. Yes, we could program a system to superficially appear conscious when it isn't, but I would suggest that there would be differences that would be distinguishable. If it was not possible to tell, I'd say it is conscious. This is what Ayer proposed in the 1930's: "The only ground I can have for asserting that an object which appears to be conscious is not really a conscious being, but only a dummy or a machine, is that it fails to satisfy one of the empirical tests by which the presence or absence of consciousness is determined."

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We may be the same as that deluded system. It doesn't feel as if that is the case, of course, because we can stick pins in ourselves and imagine that we feel the pain, but is there really any pain there or are we just being fooled into thinking that there is? And where is the "I" in the machine that is feeling this pain?
There is pain if we feel pain; a headache, or even phantom limb pain is 'real' pain; that feeling of hurting is what we mean by 'pain'. So, I say, for consciousness - that sense of feeling aware, or of self-awareness. That sensation is what consciousness is, and it is accompanied by neurophysiological, and, usually, by physiological and behavioural indicators. The 'I' is an emergent construct, a collaboration of neurological processes. Strictly, its location is in the brain, as it's generated by brain processes, but its subjective location (where it feels it is located) may not be.

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In a computer, no matter how intelligent the software becomes, there will never be an "I" in it capable of feeling anything.
That's arguable. Consciousness isn't intelligence. If we built a neural network similar to the brain (architecturally and connectedly) and trained it appropriately, there's no reason why it should not have a subjective sense of self. It won't happen unless it's structured appropriately; we know certain structures are essential to generate various aspects of self & self image. There are various ventures in progress, of which Blue Brain Project looks like the best bet, but their objective is neurological disease research rather than consciousness, so unless diseases of consciousness come under that remit, we may not see it.

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Science has failed to find an "I" in us too - all we have to go on are the pronouncements of the information systems within us which assert that there is an "I" inside us somewhere feeling feelings, and yet the information systems which create the data that documents this phenomenon cannot be trusted as it should be impossible for them to access such knowledge.
That's not entirely true; there are many examples of sensory manipulations, or drugs, or damage through disease or injury, that cause faulty construction of self-image, sense of self, and 'I'. The locations, connections, and functions of many of the affected areas that contribute are known to varying degrees, so we're not completely in the dark. Of course, although we know some of the requirements, we're still some way from identifying precisely how that subjective sense of self is generated.

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It seems most likely that all that's happening is that assertions are being mapped to inputs such that an input signal which may represent damage being done has the idea of "pain" mapped to it by the information system, and then that fiction of pain is never questioned.
That's pretty much how it seems to work. Pain is generated by and in the brain; it doesn't exist outside it. There are mappings that trigger a bunch of dispositional activity that can include sensations of pain. That's how brain in general seems to work - mappings overlaying dispositions (simple or 'primitive' responses). Pain is triggered usually in response to sensory inputs (which are just pulses of membrane depolarizations like most neural activity), but sometimes just from internal neural 'noise' or spontaneous firings. Damasio's 'Self Comes to Mind' has some interesting information about how these systems work (some of it a bit technical).

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There cannot be a transmission of knowledge of actual pain in the input signal itself unless it comes ready packaged as data which speaks of pain, but if it came in that form it would have to be written in the same language as used by the information system collecting that data, which either means that part of the information system is on the other end of the input signal line or another information system that happens to speak the same language is at that other end, but either way the problem is merely transferred - the data system at the far end would still have to know that the pain is real, and yet it can't. All it can do is make an assumption that pain is involved and then assert as much in the data.
Yes; the knowledge or awareness of pain comes last. To start with, it's just a pattern of afferent nerve impulses like any other. The brain processes these signals and various others that provide a context (for example, you may cut yourself but not feel any pain until you see the damage), and [the sensation of] pain may (or may not) be generated (fight-or-flight stress hormones & neurotransmitters, etc., may suppress it).
 

Offline DonQuichotte

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #21 on: 03/09/2013 20:35:57 »
Hi, folks :

I will try to respond to the above , later on .

I will just say the following , for the time being at least though :

Thanks for your interesting insights i do appreciate indeed , althought they are just materialistic ones, once again...no wonder  :

The assumption that life is just a biological process ,for example, has more to do with materialism as a world view , than with science proper : take a look back at the past to find out about the roots of such assumption , and regarding the birth of materialism itself .

We are much more than just physical bodies : materialists , per definition, think otherwise of course ,but to say that human consciousness is just an illusion ,for instance ,  how "real " ( dlorde )that illusion might ever be , is the very negation of the validity or truth of all our knowledge , including the scientific one, including that concerning evolution itself, once again ..

Once again, just tell me how can the human consciousness as such , as a means to make any sense of reality , be the product of our evolved brain , that's just a tool to approach reality via our senses , via representations of reality ?  : don't you see the inherent intrinsic paradox or contradiction contained in the materialistic assumption that human consciousness is just a biological process  created by the evolved brain ?

 

Offline alancalverd

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #22 on: 03/09/2013 22:23:56 »
Who says reality makes sense? Why should it? To whom? Our entire existence is due tot he fact that it doesn't.
 

Offline cheryl j

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #23 on: 04/09/2013 04:44:54 »
I honestly cannot understand how one can attack materialism and reductionism, blithely dismiss things like emergent properties and offer absolutely nothing better in terms of explanation of phenomena.
« Last Edit: 04/09/2013 05:02:23 by cheryl j »
 

Offline dlorde

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #24 on: 04/09/2013 09:08:56 »
I honestly cannot understand how one can attack materialism and reductionism, blithely dismiss things like emergent properties and offer absolutely nothing better in terms of explanation of phenomena.
You don't need such explanations if you have faith. Apparently it's beyond logic, reason, and science...
 

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #24 on: 04/09/2013 09:08:56 »

 

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