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Author Topic: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?  (Read 309518 times)

Offline DonQuichotte

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #75 on: 09/09/2013 17:08:46 »
In his "Selfish Gene " , Dawkins thinks that we are just machines or robots driven by DNA through the natural selection of evolution ,while he also thinks at the same time = a paradox , that we can "revolt against the selfish tyranny of our genes ,and against the "fact " that we were born selfish ,by consciously modifying our selfish behavior ....: selfish gene as a metaphor though " :
Just tell me how are we supposed to do just the latter ,if we are indeed just machines ? : The following are quotes from Dawkins' above mentioned book by the way :



PREFACE TO FIRST EDITION
THIS book should be read almost as though it were science fiction. It is designed to appeal to the imagination. But it is not science fiction: it is science. Cliche or not, 'stranger than fiction' expresses exactly how I feel about the truth. We are survival machines—robot vehicles blindly programmed to preserve the selfish molecules known as genes. This is a truth which still fills me with astonishment. Though I have known it for years, I never seem to get fully used to it. One of my hopes is that I may have some success in astonishing others.
Three imaginary readers looked over my shoulder while I was writing, and I now dedicate the book to them. First the general reader, the layman. For him I have avoided technical jargon almost totally, and where I have had to use specialized words I have defined them. I now wonder why we don't censor most of our jargon from learned journals too. I have assumed that the layman has no special knowledge, but I have not assumed that he is stupid. Anyone can popularize science if he oversimplifies. I have worked hard to try to popularize some subtle and complicated ideas in non-mathematical language, without losing their essence. I do not know how far I have succeeded in this, nor how far I have succeeded in another of my ambitions: to try to make the book as entertaining and gripping as its subject matter deserves. I have long felt that biology ought to seem as exciting as a mystery story, for a mystery story is exactly what biology is. I do not dare to hope that I have conveyed more than a tiny fraction of the excitement which the subject has to offer.
My second imaginary reader was the expert. He has been a harsh critic, sharply drawing in his breath at some of my analogies and figures of speech. His favourite phrases are 'with the exception of'; 'but on the other hand', and 'ugh'. I listened to him attentively, and even completely rewrote one chapter entirely for his benefit, but in the end I have had to tell the story my way. The expert will still not be totally happy with the way I put things. Yet my greatest hope is that even he will find something new here; a new way of looking at familiar ideas perhaps; even stimulation of new ideas of his own. If this is too high an aspiration, may I at least hope that the book will entertain him on a train?
« Last Edit: 09/09/2013 17:23:10 by DonQuichotte »
 

Offline DonQuichotte

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #76 on: 09/09/2013 17:24:46 »
........train?
xxii Preface to first edition
The third reader I had in mind was the student, making the transition from layman to expert. If he still has not made up his mind what field he wants to be an expert in, I hope to encourage him to give my own field of zoology a second glance. There is a better reason for studying zoology than its possible 'usefulness', and the general likeableness of animals. This reason is that we animals are the most complicated and perfectly-designed pieces of machinery in the known universe. Put it like that, and it is hard to see why anybody studies anything else! For the student who has already committed himself to zoology, I hope my book may have some educational value. He is having to work through the original papers and technical books on which my treatment is based. If he finds the original sources hard to digest, perhaps my non-mathematical interpretation may help, as an introduction and adjunct.
There are obvious dangers in trying to appeal to three different kinds of reader. I can only say that I have been very conscious of these dangers, but that they seemed to be outweighed by the advantages of the attempt.
I am an ethologist,and this is a book about animal behaviour. My debt to the ethological tradition in which I was trained will be obvious. In particular, Niko Tinbergen does not realize the extent of his influence on me during the twelve years I worked under him at Oxford. The phrase 'survival machine', though not actually his own, might well be. But ethology has recently been invigorated by an invasion of fresh ideas from sources not conventionally regarded as ethological. This book is largely based on these new ideas. Their originators are acknowledged in the appropriate places in the text; the dominant figures are G. C. Williams, J. Maynard Smith, W. D. Hamilton, and R. L. Trivers.
Various people suggested titles for the book, which I have gratefully used as chapter titles: 'Immortal Coils', John Krebs; 'The Gene Machine', Desmond Morris; 'Genesmanship', Tim Clutton-Brock and Jean Dawkins, independently with apologies to Stephen Potter.
Imaginary readers may serve as targets for pious hopes and aspirations, but they are of less practical use than real readers and critics. I am addicted to revising, and Marian Dawkins has been subjected to countless drafts and redrafts of every page. Her considerable knowledge of the biological literature and her understanding of theoretical issues, together with her ceaseless encouragement and moral support, have been essential to me. John Krebs
Preface to first edition xxiii
too read the whole book in draft. He knows more about the subject than I do, and he has been generous and unstinting with his advice and suggestions. Glenys Thomson and Walter Bodmer criticized my handling of genetic topics kindly but firmly. I fear that my revision may still not fully satisfy them, but I hope they will find it somewhat improved. I am most grateful for their time and patience. John Dawkins exercised an unerring eye for misleading phraseology, and made excellent constructive suggestions for re-wording. I could not have wished for a more suitable 'intelligent layman' than Maxwell Stamp. His perceptive spotting of an important general flaw in the style of the first draft did much for the final version. Others who constructively criticized particular chapters, or otherwise gave expert advice, were John Maynard Smith, Desmond Morris, Tom Maschler, Nick Blurton Jones, Sarah Kettlewell, Nick Humphrey, Tim Clutton-Brock, Louise Johnson, Christopher Graham, Geoff Parker, and Robert Trivers. Pat Searle and Stephanie Verhoeven not only typed with skill, but encouraged me by seeming to do so with enjoyment. Finally, I wish to thank Michael Rodgers of Oxford University Press who, in addition to helpfully criticizing the manuscript, worked far beyond the call of duty in attending to all aspects of the production of this book.
RICHARD DAWKINS 19761976
1
WHY ARE PEOPLE?
Intelligent life on a planet comes of age when it first works out the reason for its own existence. If superior creatures from space ever visit earth, the first question they will ask, in order to assess the level of our civilization, is: 'Have they discovered evolution yet?' Living organisms had existed on earth, without ever knowing why, for over three thousand million years before the truth finally dawned on one of them. His name was Charles Darwin. To be fair, others had had inklings of the truth, but it was Darwin who first put together a coherent and tenable account of why we exist. Darwin made it possible for us to give a sensible answer to the curious child whose question heads this chapter. We no longer have to resort to superstition when faced with the deep problems: Is there a meaning to life? What are we for? What is man? After posing the last of these questions, the eminent zoologist G. G. Simpson put it thus: 'The point I want to make now is that all attempts to answer that question before 1859 are worthless and that we will be better off if we ignore them completely.'*
Today the theory of evolution is about as much open to doubt as the theory that the earth goes round the sun, but the full implications of Darwin's revolution have yet to be widely realized. Zoology is still a minority subject in universities, and even those who choose to study it often make their decision without appreciating its profound philosophical significance. Philosophy and the subjects known as 'humanities' are still taught almost as if Darwin had never lived. No doubt this will change in time. In any case, this book is not intended as a general advocacy of Darwinism. Instead, it will explore the consequences of the evolution theory for a particular issue. My purpose is to examine the biology of selfishness and altruism.
Apart from its academic interest, the human importance of this subject is obvious. It touches every aspect of our social lives, our loving and hating, fighting and cooperating, giving and stealing, our
2 Why are people?
greed and our generosity. These are claims that could have been made for Lorenz's On Aggression, Ardrey's The Social Contract, and Eibl-Eibesfeldt's Love and Hate. The trouble with these books is that their authors got it totally and utterly wrong. They got it wrong because they misunderstood how evolution works. They made the erroneous assumption that the important thing in evolution is the good of the species (or the group) rather than the good of the individual (or the gene). It is ironic that Ashley Montagu should criticize Lorenz as a 'direct descendant of the "nature red in tooth and claw" thinkers of the nineteenth century ...'. As I understand Lorenz's view of evolution, he would be very much at one with Montagu in rejecting the implications of Tennyson's famous phrase. Unlike both of them, I think 'nature red in tooth and claw' sums up our modern understanding of natural selection admirably.
Before beginning on my argument itself, I want to explain briefly what sort of an argument it is, and what sort of an argument it is not. If we were told that a man had lived a long and prosperous life in the world of Chicago gangsters, we would be entitled to make some guesses as to the sort of man he was. We might expect that he would have qualities such as toughness, a quick trigger finger, and the ability to attract loyal friends. These would not be infallible deductions, but you can make some inferences about a man's character if you know something about the conditions in which he has survived and prospered. The argument of this book is that we, and all other animals, are machines created by our genes. Like successful Chicago gangsters, our genes have survived, in some cases for millions of years, in a highly competitive world. This entitles us to expect certain qualities in our genes. I shall argue that a predominant quality to be expected in a successful gene is ruthless selfishness. This gene selfishness will usually give rise to selfishness in individual behaviour. However, as we shall see, there are special circumstances in which a gene can achieve its own selfish goals best by fostering a limited form of altruism at the level of individual animals. 'Special' and 'limited' are important words in the last sentence. Much as we might wish to believe otherwise, universal love and the welfare of the species as a whole are concepts that simply do not make evolutionary sense.
This brings me to the first point I want to make about what this book is not. I am not advocating a morality based on evolution.* I am saying how things have evolved. I am not saying how we humans
Why are people? 3
morally ought to behave. I stress this, because I know I am in danger of being misunderstood by those people, all too numerous, who cannot distinguish a statement of belief in what is the case from an advocacy of what ought to be the case. My own feeling is that a human society based simply on the gene's law of universal ruthless selfishness would be a very nasty society in which to live. But unfortunately, however much we may deplore something, it does not stop it being true. This book is mainly intended to be interesting, but if you would extract a moral from it, read it as a warning. Be warned that if you wish, as I do, to build a society in which individuals cooperate generously and unselfishly towards a common good, you can expect little help from biological nature. Let us try to teach generosity and altruism, because we are born selfish. Let us understand what our own selfish genes are up to, because we may then at least have the chance to upset their designs, something that no other species has ever aspired to.
As a corollary to these remarks about teaching, it is a fallacy— incidentally a very common one—to suppose that genetically inherited traits are by definition fixed and unmodifiable. Our genes may instruct us to be selfish, but we are not necessarily compelled to obey them all our lives. It may just be more difficult to learn altruism than it would be if we were genetically programmed to be altruistic. Among animals, man is uniquely dominated by culture, by influences learned and handed down. Some would say that culture is so important that genes, whether selfish or not, are virtually irrelevant to the understanding of human nature. Others would disagree. It all depends where you stand in the debate over 'nature versus nurture' as determinants of human attributes. This brings me to the second thing this book is not: it is not an advocacy of one position or another in the nature/nurture controversy. Naturally I have an opinion on this, but I am not going to express it, except insofar as it is implicit in the view of culture that I shall present in the final chapter. If genes really turn out to be totally irrelevant to the determination of modern human behaviour, if we really are unique among animals in this respect, it is, at the very least, still interesting to inquire about the rule to which we have so recently become the exception. And if our species is not so exceptional as we might like to think, it is even more important that we should study the rule.
The third thing this book is not is a descriptive account of the detailed behaviour of man or of any other particular animal species. I
4 Why are people?
shall use factual details only as illustrative examples. I shall not be saying: 'If you look at the behaviour of baboons you will find it to be selfish; therefore the chances are that human behaviour is selfish also'. The logic of my 'Chicago gangster' argument is quite different. It is this. Humans and baboons have evolved by natural selection. If you look at the way natural selection works, it seems to follow that anything that has evolved by natural selection should be selfish. Therefore we must expect that when we go and look at the behaviour of baboons, humans, and all other living creatures, we shall find it to be selfish. If we find that our expectation is wrong, if we observe that human behaviour is truly altruistic, then we shall be faced with something puzzling, something that needs explaining.
Before going any further, we need a definition. An entity, such as a baboon, is said to be altruistic if it behaves in such a way as to increase another such entity's welfare at the expense of its own. Selfish behaviour has exactly the opposite effect. 'Welfare' is defined as 'chances of survival', even if the effect on actual life and death prospects is so small as to seem negligible. One of the surprising consequences of the modern version of the Darwinian theory is that apparently trivial tiny influences on survival probability can have a major impact on evolution. This is because of the enormous time available for such influences to make themselves felt.
It is important to realize that the above definitions of altruism and selfishness are behavioural, not subjective. I am not concerned here with the psychology of motives. I am not going to argue about whether people who behave altruistically are 'really' doing it for secret or subconscious selfish motives. Maybe they are and maybe they aren't, and maybe we can never know, but in any case that is not what this book is about. My definition is concerned only with whether the effect of an act is to lower or raise the survival prospects of the presumed altruist and the survival prospects of the presumed beneficiary.
It is a very complicated business to demonstrate the effects of behaviour on long-term survival prospects. In practice, when we apply the definition to real behaviour, we must qualify it with the word 'apparently'. An apparently altruistic act is one that looks, superficially, as if it must tend to make the altruist more likely (however slightly) to die, and the recipient more likely to survive. It often turns out on closer inspection that acts of apparent altruism are really selfishness in disguise. Once again, I do not mean that the
Why are people? 5
underlying motives are secretly selfish, but that the real effects of the act on survival prospects are the reverse of what we originally thought.
I am going to give some examples of apparently selfish and apparently altruistic behaviour. It is difficult to suppress subjective habits of thought when we are dealing with our own species, so I shall choose examples from other animals instead. First some miscellaneous examples of selfish behaviour by individual animals.
Blackheaded gulls nest in large colonies, the nests being only a few feet apart. When the chicks first hatch out they are small and defenceless and easy to swallow. It is quite common for a gull to wait until a neighbour's back is turned, perhaps while it is away fishing, and then pounce on one of the neighbour's chicks and swallow it whole. It thereby obtains a good nutritious meal, without having to go to the trouble of catching a fish, and without having to leave its own nest unprotected.
More well known is the macabre cannibalism of female praying mantises. Mantises are large carnivorous insects. They normally eat smaller insects such as flies, but they will attack almost anything that moves. When they mate, the male cautiously creeps up on the female, mounts her, and copulates. If the female gets the chance, she will eat him, beginning by biting his head off, either as the male is approaching, or immediately after he mounts, or after they separate. It might seem most sensible for her to wait until copulation is over before she starts to eat him. But the loss of the head does not seem to throw the rest of the male's body off its sexual stride. Indeed, since the insect head is the seat of some inhibitory nerve centres, it is possible that the female improves the male's sexual performance by eating his head.* If so, this is an added benefit. The primary one is that she obtains a good meal.
The word 'selfish' may seem an understatement for such extreme cases as cannibalism, although these fit well with our definition. Perhaps we can sympathize more directly with the reported cowardly behaviour of emperor penguins in the Antarctic. They have been seen standing on the brink of the water, hesitating before diving in, because of the danger of being eaten by seals. If only one of them would dive in, the rest would know whether there was a seal there or not. Naturally nobody wants to be the guinea pig, so they wait, and sometimes even try to push each other in.
More ordinarily, selfish behaviour may simply consist of refusing
6 Why are people?
to share some valued
« Last Edit: 09/09/2013 17:28:49 by DonQuichotte »
 

Offline DonQuichotte

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #77 on: 09/09/2013 17:26:49 »
........resource such as food, territory, or sexual partners. Now for some examples of apparently altruistic behaviour.
The stinging behaviour of worker bees is a very effective defence against honey robbers. But the bees who do the stinging are kamikaze fighters. In the act of stinging, vital internal organs are usually torn out of the body, and the bee dies soon afterwards. Her suicide mission may have saved the colony's vital food stocks, but she herself is not around to reap the benefits. By our definition this is an altruistic behavioural act. Remember that we are not talking about conscious motives. They may or may not be present, both here and in the selfishness examples, but they are irrelevant to our definition.
Laying down one's life for one's friends is obviously altruistic, but so also is taking a slight risk for them. Many small birds, when they see a flying predator such as a hawk, give a characteristic 'alarm call', upon which the whole flock takes appropriate evasive action. There is indirect evidence that the bird who gives the alarm call puts itself in special danger, because it attracts the predator's attention particularly to itself. This is only a slight additional risk, but it nevertheless seems, at least at first sight, to qualify as an altruistic act by our definition.
The commonest and most conspicuous acts of animal altruism are done by parents, especially mothers, towards their children. They may incubate them, either in nests or in their own bodies, feed them at enormous cost to themselves, and take great risks in protecting them from predators. To take just one particular example, many ground-nesting birds perform a so-called 'distraction display' when a predator such as a fox approaches. The parent bird limps away from the nest, holding out one wing as though it were broken. The predator, sensing easy prey, is lured away from the nest containing the chicks. Finally the parent bird gives up its pretence and leaps into the air just in time to escape the fox's jaws. It has probably saved the life of its nestlings, but at some risk to itself.
I am not trying to make a point by telling stories. Chosen examples are never serious evidence for any worthwhile generalization. These stories are simply intended as illustrations of what I mean by altruistic and selfish behaviour at the level of individuals. This book will show how both individual selfishness and individual altruism are explained by the fundamental law that I am calling gene selfishness. But first I must deal with a particular erroneous explanation for altruism, because it is widely known, and even widely taught in schools.
Why are people? 7
This explanation is based on the misconception that I have already mentioned, that living creatures evolve to do things 'for the good of the species' or 'for the good of the group'. It is easy to see how this idea got its start in biology. Much of an animal's life is devoted to reproduction, and most of the acts of altruistic self-sacrifice that are observed in nature are performed by parents towards their young. 'Perpetuation of the species' is a common euphemism for reproduction, and it is undeniably a consequence of reproduction. It requires only a slight over-stretching of logic to deduce that the 'function' of reproduction is 'to' perpetuate the species. From this it is but a further short false step to conclude that animals will in general behave in such a way as to favour the perpetuation of the species. Altruism towards fellow members of the species seems to follow.
This line of thought can be put into vaguely Darwinian terms. Evolution works by natural selection, and natural selection means the differential survival of the 'fittest'. But are we talking about the fittest individuals, the fittest races, the fittest species, or what? For some purposes this does not greatly matter, but when we are talking about altruism it is obviously crucial. If it is species that are competing in what Darwin called the struggle for existence, the individual seems best regarded as a pawn in the game, to be sacrificed when the greater interest of the species as a whole requires it. To put it in a slightly more respectable way, a group, such as a species or a population within a species, whose individual members are prepared to sacrifice themselves for the welfare of the group, may be less likely to go extinct than a rival group whose individual members place their own selfish interests first. Therefore the world becomes populated mainly by groups consisting of self-sacrificing individuals. This is the theory of 'group selection', long assumed to be true by biologists not familiar with the details of evolutionary theory, brought out into the open in a famous book by V. C. Wynne-Edwards, and popularized by Robert Ardrey in The Social Contract. The orthodox alternative is normally called 'individual selection', although I personally prefer to speak of gene selection.
The quick answer of the 'individual selectionist' to the argument just put might go something like this. Even in the group of altruists, there will almost certainly be a dissenting minority who refuse to make any sacrifice. It there is just one selfish rebel, prepared to exploit the altruism of the rest, then he, by definition, is more likely
8 Why are people?
than they are to survive and have children. Each of these children will tend to inherit his selfish traits. After several generations of this natural selection, the 'altruistic group' will be over-run by selfish individuals, and will be indistinguishable from the selfish group. Even if we grant the improbable chance existence initially of pure altruistic groups without any rebels, it is very difficult to see what is to stop selfish individuals migrating in from neighbouring selfish groups, and, by inter-marriage, contaminating the purity of the altruistic groups.
The individual-selectionist would admit that groups do indeed die out, and that whether or not a group goes extinct may be influenced by the behaviour of the individuals in that group. He might even admit that if only the individuals in a group had the gift of foresight they could see that in the long run their own best interests lay in restraining their selfish greed, to prevent the destruction of the whole group. How many times must this have been said in recent years to the working people of Britain? But group extinction is a slow process compared with the rapid cut and thrust of individual competition. Even while the group is going slowly and inexorably downhill, selfish individuals prosper in the short term at the expense of altruists. The citizens of Britain may or may not be blessed with foresight, but evolution is blind to the future.
Although the group-selection theory now commands little support within the ranks of those professional biologists who understand evolution, it does have great intuitive appeal. Successive generations of zoology students are surprised, when they come up from school, to find that it is not the orthodox point of view. For this they are hardly to be blamed, for in the Nuffield Biology Teachers' Guide, written for advanced level biology schoolteachers in Britain, we find the following: 'In higher animals, behaviour may take the form of individual suicide to ensure the survival of the species.' The anonymous author of this guide is blissfully ignorant of the fact that he has said something controversial. In this respect he is in Nobel Prize-winning company. Konrad Lorenz, in On Aggression, speaks of the 'species preserving' functions of aggressive behaviour, one of these functions being to make sure that only the fittest individuals are allowed to breed. This is a gem of a circular argument, but the point I am making here is that the group selection idea is so deeply ingrained that Lorenz, like the author of the Nuffield Guide, evidently did not realize that his statements contravened orthodox Darwinian theory.
Why are people? 9
I recently heard a delightful example of the same thing on an otherwise excellent B.B.C. television programme about Australian spiders. The 'expert' on the programme observed that the vast majority of baby spiders end up as prey for other species, and she then went on to say: 'Perhaps this is the real purpose of their existence, as only a few need to survive in order for the species to be preserved'!
Robert Ardrey, in The Social Contract, used the group-selection theory to account for the whole of social order in general. He clearly sees man as a species that has strayed from the path of animal righteousness. Ardrey at least did his homework. His decision to disagree with orthodox theory was a conscious one, and for this he deserves credit.
Perhaps one reason for the great appeal of the group-selection theory is that it is thoroughly in tune with the moral and political ideals that most of us share. We may frequently behave selfishly as individuals, but in our more idealistic moments we honour and admire those who put the welfare of others first. We get a bit muddled oyer how widely we want to interpret the word 'others', though. Often altruism within a group goes with selfishness between groups. This is a basis of trade unionism. At another level the nation is a major beneficiary of our altruistic self-sacrifice, and young men are expected to die as individuals for the greater glory of their country as a whole. Moreover, they are encouraged to kill other individuals about whom nothing is known except that they belong to a different nation. (Curiously, peace-time appeals for individuals to make some small sacrifice in the rate at which they increase their standard of living seem to be less effective than war-time appeals for individuals to lay down their lives.)
Recently there has been a reaction against racialism and patriotism, and a tendency to substitute the whole human species as the object of our fellow feeling. This humanist broadening of the target of our altruism has an interesting corollary, which again seems to buttress the 'good of the species' idea in evolution. The politically liberal, who are normally the most convinced spokesmen of the species ethic, now often have the greatest scorn for those who have gone a little further in widening their altruism, so that it includes other species. If I say that I am more interested in preventing the slaughter of large whales than I am in improving housing conditions for people, I am likely to shock some of my friends.
10 Why are people?
The feeling that members of one's own species deserve special moral consideration as compared with members of other species is old and deep. Killing people outside war is the most seriously-regarded crime ordinarily committed. The only thing more strongly forbidden by our culture is eating people (even if they are already dead). We enjoy eating members of other species, however. Many of us shrink from judicial execution of even the most horrible human criminals, while we cheerfully countenance the shooting without trial of fairly mild animal pests. Indeed we kill members of other harmless species as a means of recreation and amusement. A human foetus, with no more human feeling than an amoeba, enjoys a reverence and legal protection far in excess of those granted to an adult chimpanzee. Yet the chimp feels and thinks and—according to recent experimental evidence—may even be capable of learning a form of human language. The foetus belongs to our own species, and is instantly accorded special privileges and rights because of it. Whether the ethic of 'speciesism', to use Richard Ryder's term, can be put on a logical footing any more sound than that of 'racism', I do not know. What I do know is that it has no proper basis in evolutionary biology.
The muddle in human ethics over the level at which altruism is desirable—family, nation, race, species, or all living things—is mirrored by a parallel muddle in biology over the level at which altruism is to be expected according to the theory of evolution. Even the group-selectionist would not be surprised to find members of rival groups being nasty to each other: in this way, like trade unionists or soldiers, they are favouring their own group in the struggle for limited resources. But then it is worth asking how the group-selectionist decides which level is the important one. If selection goes on between groups within a species, and between species, why should it not also go on between larger groupings? Species are grouped together into genera, genera into orders, and orders into classes. Lions and antelopes are both members of the class Mammalia, as are we. Should we then not expect lions to refrain from killing antelopes, 'for the good of the mammals'? Surely they should hunt birds or reptiles instead, in order to prevent the extinction of the class. But then, what of the need to perpetuate the whole phylum of vertebrates?
It is all very well for me to argue by reductio ad absurdum, and to point to the difficulties of the group-selection theory, but the
Why are people? 11
apparent existence of individual altruism still has to be explained. Ardrey goes so far as to say that group selection is the only possible explanation for behaviour such as 'stotting' in Thomson's gazelles. This vigorous and conspicuous leaping in front of a predator is analogous to bird alarm calls, in that it seems to warn companions of danger while apparently calling the predator's attention to the stotter himself. We have a responsibility to explain stotting Tommies and all similar phenomena, and this is something I am going to face in later chapters.
Before that I must argue for my belief that the best way to look at evolution is in terms of selection occurring at the lowest level of all. In this belief I am heavily influenced by G. C. Williams's great book Adaptation and Natural Selection. The central idea I shall make use of was foreshadowed by A. Weismann in pre-gene days at the turn of the century—his doctrine of the 'continuity of the germ-plasm'. I shall argue that the fundamental unit of selection, and therefore of self-interest, is not the species, nor the group, nor even, strictly, the individual. It is the gene, the unit of heredity.* To some biologists this may sound at first like an extreme view. I hope when they see in what sense I mean it they will agree that it is, in substance, orthodox, even if it is expressed in an unfamiliar way. The argument takes time to develop, and we must begin at the beginning, with the very origin of life itself.
 

Offline David Cooper

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #78 on: 09/09/2013 17:33:12 »
Look, i do agree with most of what you were saying , form the materialistic point of view at least ,so :
Help me out here ,in order to make dlorde and alcanverd see the light haha :

Do you need anyone else to see the light? None of us can see how consciousness works, but maintaining a diversity of approach is a good thing as it makes it more likely that someone will trip over something useful. What matters from my point of view is that more people understand the problem with translating experience of qualia into data about qualia because if they are aware of this issue they may find some kind of solution which looks completely imposible right up to the point where it jumps out and hits you across the face with a wet fish. If you understand the key problem and know what you're actually looking for, you're more likely to recognise the solution if you stumble upon it. Beyond that, there is no need to evangelise any specific position.

Also, attempts to make people change position are almost always doomed to have the opposite effect, so it's counterproductive to go down that road. People need to make their own journey and not be pushed. It is sufficient to set out an argument and then leave it there. If people take it on board to any degree, they may gain. If they find a fault in it and destroy it, you gain instead by having a faulty argument destroyed, thereby liberating you to find a better approach.

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What you cannot understand is how consciousness or the mind ( I see the human mind or consciousness as a whole process which contains intelligence , emotions, feelings , imagination ...) can rise from those biological mechanical processes ? or as Dawkins put it , we can "revolt against the selfish mechanical tyranny of our genes " by deliberately modifying our selfish behavior via our free will : how, on earth, are we supposed to do just that , if we are just machines = we cannot have a free will = free will is an illusion ,according to this mechanical deterministic materialistic view of the universe , man, life , nature ...

People often put ideas across rather badly, framing them in ways that imply that they believe things they don't altogether believe in, so it's always hard to work out what their true position is. Dawkins in the context above is really talking about the ability of our intelligence to override the less intelligent evolved rules of behaviour programmed into our DNA. Our genes set up certain behaviours in us which are not always ideal, but they also generate a general purpose computer in our heads that can do a better job, and when it recognises that there are better ways to do some things (such as suppressing violent instincts in order to create a safer society in which random death by violence is massively less likely), instinctive behaviours can be overridden. He may attribute this to free will as a shorthand, but if you were to pick the point apart with him, he would probably agree that there is no such thing as free will and give a longer, more accurate account.

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"...consciousness, feelings , free will, good and evil, emotions, ethics , cultures, societies, politics, economics , religions or spirituality..."

There are a lot of diversions there which don't really have anything to do with consciousness. Free will is not free at all, even if qualia are real: extreme pain, if pain is real, may force you to try to act to try to reduce it in any way you can find, but there is no free will involved in that. Ethics is really just about weighing up the harm people do and minimising it within a system where some harm is necessarily allowed in order to make life fun: if you want the freedom to enjoy walking through a park, it has to be allowable for people to disturb others by walking about through a park. Some people are unable to weigh up the balance properly and will think they are allowed to push other people out of their way rather than walking round them, and some may think it's okay to stick a knife in them at the same time, but there's nothing supernaturally evil going on - all that's happening is that there are faults in the algorithms they run, and these may be caused by genetic errors, errors in the construction of the brain, or a violent upbringing which has taught the individual in question that no one else seems to care about the rules, so why should they.

Politics is an attempt to run things well and to apply morality through law, but it's all mechanistic, some of it being driven by instincts (homosexuality is not acceptable because we're programmed to find it disgusting), some is driven by cultural beliefs (homosexuality is not acceptable because this Holy book says so), and some of it is driven by direct thinking which may be right or wrong (homosexuality is not acceptable because it spreads disease; or homosexuality is acceptable because it does immense harm to people to prevent them from being the people they cannot help but be).

Religion is a kind of science in which magic is allowed as an explanation, but most of it is based on sense on some level. It began with things like hearing an echo coming out of an empty cave: you shout into it and a spirit shouts back at you. That isn't stupidity, but an attempt to understand something which happens to be wrong. Explorers used to write "here be dragons" on maps whenever they ran into a thunderstorm, and they weren't stupid either - they heard the dragons roaring and saw the fire that they breathed. That isn't part of a religion, but it works in the same way - it's an attempt at a scientific explanation that has gone wrong due to a bad assumption. A lot of religious beliefs are based on feelings, such as love and awe. These feelings may or may not be real, so exploring beliefs based on feelings really doesn't address the issue of consciousness itself - it is merely a diversion. What matters to us in this discussion is whether the feelings are real or not, and we can explore that best by looking at the most stark of qualia, pain. Pain drives behaviour more strongly than any other quale, although it only does so if pain isn't a fiction. We need to see a full cause-and-effect model of the process by which pain can drive something in order to see it as more than a fiction, and if someone can do that we will then be able to build similar models for all other qualia and explain the whole lot, but there's no point in trying to understand the whole mess in one go until we can explain the clearest case.

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How can even science itself ,or any other form of human knowledge  for that matter , to mention just that , how can they ever rise from those evolutionary  exclusively mechanical processes of ours ?

Evolution appears to have built the first information systems in the form of DNA. A second kind of information has then evolved in the form of brains, and one species has ended up with a universal computer which can turn itself to any task. Some of the programming of that computer has evolved to do what it does, but it has reached the point where the rest of the programming can be done through learning. Science comes out of the programming of this computer to try to model the world around it. None of that requires consciousness, but if consciousness is useful as part of the mechanism for some reason, there is no reason why evolution shouldn't have taken a pathway that includes it. We just don't know what its role is because it appears to be superfluous.
 

Offline DonQuichotte

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #79 on: 09/09/2013 17:36:07 »
At the very end of that book of his ,and after proving the "fact " that the apparent altruistic behavior is just selfishness in disguise ,even at the level of humans ,   Dawkins went on concluding that :
true altruism has never existed neither in nature nor in the history of the world .
But , we , as humans , are the only species that can revolt against the selfish tyranny of our genes, and against the "fact " that we were born as selfish creatures , by being able to deliberately and consciously modify our selfish behavior  by becoming truely altruistic , by teaching altruism, generosity ...blablabla ...


How , on earth, are we supposed to do just the latter , if we are just machines then ?

How, on earth, did we get to possess such unique property or quality to behave independently from our mechanical systems then ?
How, on earth, did those properties or qualities rise from our mechanical systems then , in the first place to begin with ?
 

Offline DonQuichotte

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #80 on: 09/09/2013 17:42:05 »
Hi, David Cooper : see this :  the hidden truth of mind science , consciousness , and the quantum universe: interesting , despite the fact that it contains some minor bullshit as well :

 

Offline David Cooper

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #81 on: 09/09/2013 17:42:22 »
That's my boy!!! You have defined a cow by what it does, which is a whole lot different from "not being an uncow" because I can apply the moo test to any external object and thus identify a cow with no previous knowledge of what it is, or what it is like to be one.

So, what does a conscious being do, objectively, that distinguishes it from all non-conscious entities?

It experiences qualia. It is of course possible that a rock does too, as may all matter/energy/other. For things to experience qualia need not be problematic - they can just be something that happens. The difficulty only occurs when we try to imagine them as being part of a response and control system. We can build response and control systems which do not involve qualia in their chains of causation, but we can't work out how to build any that do involve qualia, even though we have biological machines which insist that qualia are involved in their response and control mechanisms.
 

Offline DonQuichotte

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #82 on: 09/09/2013 17:45:05 »
I think that the next level of human evolution will occur at the level of human consciousness indeed .Exciting .
 

Offline DonQuichotte

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #83 on: 09/09/2013 17:46:45 »
The "Nature " of Consciousness :

 

Offline David Cooper

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #84 on: 09/09/2013 17:54:40 »
A hall mark of consciousness is not just being self aware, but knowing that others are also aware, and being able to imagine or see something from the perspective of another conscious being.

That isn't a hallmark of consciousness (regardless of this label that is usually attached to it), but an indication that a certain level of intelligence has been reached. A machine can be programmed to recognise other machines and to judge that they have a different perspective on things, but with no consciousness being involved. It's important not to be misled by the labels where someone has incorrectly attached the word "consciousness" to something. "Self aware" does not require consciousness, but a lot of people assume that consciousness is tied up in the idea of awareness. A security lamp that switches on when a cat walks past at night is "aware" of the cat, but there is no concsiousness involved. Consciousness is not awareness, but a feeling of awareness; a feeling of understanding something; a feeling of some kind or other. It is always a feeling.
 

Offline David Cooper

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #85 on: 09/09/2013 18:13:00 »
At the very end of that book of his ,and after proving the "fact " that the apparent altruistic behavior is just selfishness in disguise ,even at the level of humans ,   Dawkins went on concluding that :
true altruism has never existed neither in nature nor in the history of the world .
But , we , as humans , are the only species that can revolt against the selfish tyranny of our genes, and against the "fact " that we were born as selfish creatures , by being able to deliberately and consciously modify our selfish behavior  by becoming truely altruistic , by teaching altruism, generosity ...blablabla ...


How , on earth, are we supposed to do just the latter , if we are just machines then ?

How, on earth, did we get to possess such unique property or quality to behave independently from our mechanical systems then ?
How, on earth, did those properties or qualities rise from our mechanical systems then , in the first place to begin with ?

You've just posted three long extracts from Dawkins followed by the above in order to repeat a question you've already asked. I attempted to answer it in a post that appeared 3 minutes before you posted the above. They are mechanical processes running at a different level. The genes run at one level and determine a lot of our behaviour, but the rest happen in the general purpose computer through mechanical thought, and the ideas generated there are able to override the rough-and-ready directly-evolved behaviour control mechanisms programmed into the DNA.

[By the way, my internet connection is too slow for watching video. Even if that was not a barrier to me, it is sad in this day and age that so much content of the Internet is now being put out there in a form that can only be accessed at the speed of a snail. Video is a major step backwards for the communication of ideas, except where the visuals are important to the points being put across. Sometimes they are, but a diagram will often do just as well. Sometimes there is no substitute for video, but this is rare.]
 

Offline DonQuichotte

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #86 on: 09/09/2013 19:05:15 »
Look, i do agree with most of what you were saying , form the materialistic point of view at least ,so :
Help me out here ,in order to make dlorde and alcanverd see the light haha :

Do you need anyone else to see the light? None of us can see how consciousness works, but maintaining a diversity of approach is a good thing as it makes it more likely that someone will trip over something useful.

( I made a mistake when i said that consciousness contains feelings , emotions, intelligence ....I intended to say the mind does ,in fact )

(We use words such as consciousness, mind , spirit , soul , awareness, self-awareness , conscious, unconscious, self-consciousness ...without specifying what we mean by just that .)

Indeed : that's 1 of the reasons why i am here .
I just do not buy that exclusive magical dogmatic ossified materialistic mechanical reductionistic approach of consciousness, feelings , the thought process, free will, good and evil ...

Materialism as a world view, philosophy, paradigm...should be confined only within  the field of inorganic and organic matter processes though , and even there , materialism holds no water ,as quantum physics had shown : "matter is not made of matter " ,so to speak .




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What matters from my point of view is that more people understand the problem with translating experience of qualia into data about qualia because if they are aware of this issue they may find some kind of solution which looks completely imposible

Yeah, but i do not see how that can be done so far ,especially under that dominating materialistic paradigm in science : we will need some serious shift of paradigm, i think ,in that regard at least .

 Maybe some genius will be able to do just that some day , let's hope so .


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right up to the point where it jumps out and hits you across the face with a wet fish. If you understand the key problem and know what you're actually looking for, you're more likely to recognise the solution if you stumble upon it. Beyond that, there is no need to evangelise any specific position.

Indeed, as long as that materialistic evangelic magical dogmatic materialistic approach of consciousness keeps on calling the shots in science , there will be no solution in sight .

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Also, attempts to make people change position are almost always doomed to have the opposite effect, so it's counterproductive to go down that road. People need to make their own journey and not be pushed. It is sufficient to set out an argument and then leave it there. If people take it on board to any degree, they may gain. If they find a fault in it and destroy it, you gain instead by having a faulty argument destroyed, thereby liberating you to find a better approach.

Yes, new ideas are first opposed , ridiculed ,and then accepted as obvious evidence afterwards : one should keeps on  looking indeed , and should not a -priori exclude any perspective on the subject, unless it turns out to be non-sense as the materialistic approach of our consciousness is  .

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What you cannot understand is how consciousness or the mind ( I see the human mind or consciousness as a whole process which contains intelligence , emotions, feelings , imagination ...) can rise from those biological mechanical processes ? or as Dawkins put it , we can "revolt against the selfish mechanical tyranny of our genes " by deliberately modifying our selfish behavior via our free will : how, on earth, are we supposed to do just that , if we are just machines = we cannot have a free will = free will is an illusion ,according to this mechanical deterministic materialistic view of the universe , man, life , nature ...

People often put ideas across rather badly, framing them in ways that imply that they believe things they don't altogether believe in, so it's always hard to work out what their true position is. Dawkins in the context above is really talking about the ability of our intelligence to override the less intelligent evolved rules of behaviour programmed into our DNA. Our genes set up certain behaviours in us which are not always ideal, but they also generate a general purpose computer in our heads that can do a better job, and when it recognises that there are better ways to do some things (such as suppressing violent instincts in order to create a safer society in which random death by violence is massively less likely), instinctive behaviours can be overridden. He may attribute this to free will as a shorthand, but if you were to pick the point apart with him, he would probably agree that there is no such thing as free will and give a longer, more accurate account.

The problem is ,neither Dawkins or others could  , would  , or did answer is :

How did that intelligence of ours or that ability of ours to override ....rise from our alleged mechanical systems, in the first place to begin with , and how does it  do just that you were saying , in fact ? 

Materialism excludes indeed any potential existence of the free will , but many self-declared materialists scientists whose works i read , do think free will does exist = a paradox .

I do think that free will does exist though, from a non-materialistic perspective, but that's another subject .


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"...consciousness, feelings , free will, good and evil, emotions, ethics , cultures, societies, politics, economics , religions or spirituality..."

There are a lot of diversions there which don't really have anything to do with consciousness. Free will is not free at all, even if qualia are real: extreme pain, if pain is real, may force you to try to act to try to reduce it in any way you can find, but there is no free will involved in that. Ethics is really just about weighing up the harm people do and minimising it within a system where some harm is necessarily allowed in order to make life fun: if you want the freedom to enjoy walking through a park, it has to be allowable for people to disturb others by walking about through a park. Some people are unable to weigh up the balance properly and will think they are allowed to push other people out of their way rather than walking round them, and some may think it's okay to stick a knife in them at the same time, but there's nothing supernaturally evil going on - all that's happening is that there are faults in the algorithms they run, and these may be caused by genetic errors, errors in the construction of the brain, or a violent upbringing which has taught the individual in question that no one else seems to care about the rules, so why should they.

Nature vs nurture : what about our own input ? we cannot be just machines ,no way , otherwise , just try to explain consciousness to me via that mechanical approach of yours = you cannot , unless you do try to kiss your materialism goodbye ...But ,even then, we are stuck in this : i do not think there will be ever any totally scientific answer to the hard problem of consciousness though .
The approach of consciousness relies more heavily on its corresponding world views mainly , so .

You do make it sound as if we are just some unconscious puppets in the hands of unconscious DNA machinery in its interactions with the environment ,nurture .

That's just the mainstream materialistic point of view on the subject i do not share :
we cannot explain human behavior just via biology genetics , environment and nurture ,without the notion of free will at least .
This exclusively biological genetic approach explains some parts of the human condition , human behavior, human suffering ....not all of it .
It cannot explain consciousness, feelings , emotions , love ....not in a million years ,despite what  promissory messianic materialism says on the subject .

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Politics is an attempt to run things well and to apply morality through law, but it's all mechanistic, some of it being driven by instincts (homosexuality is not acceptable because we're programmed to find it disgusting), some is driven by cultural beliefs (homosexuality is not acceptable because this Holy book says so), and some of it is driven by direct thinking which may be right or wrong (homosexuality is not acceptable because it spreads disease; or homosexuality is acceptable because it does immense harm to people to prevent them from being the people they cannot help but be).

You're not explaining anything via this mechanical approach , dude .


How can all that rise from our mechanical systems then ? makes no sense .

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Religion is a kind of science in which magic is allowed as an explanation, but most of it is based on sense on some level. It began with things like hearing an echo coming out of an empty cave: you shout into it and a spirit shouts back at you. That isn't stupidity, but an attempt to understand something which happens to be wrong. Explorers used to write "here be dragons" on maps whenever they ran into a thunderstorm, and they weren't stupid either - they heard the dragons roaring and saw the fire that they breathed. That isn't part of a religion, but it works in the same way - it's an attempt at a scientific explanation that has gone wrong due to a bad assumption. A lot of religious beliefs are based on feelings, such as love and awe. These feelings may or may not be real, so exploring beliefs based on feelings really doesn't address the issue of consciousness itself - it is merely a diversion. What matters to us in this discussion is whether the feelings are real or not, and we can explore that best by looking at the most stark of qualia, pain. Pain drives behaviour more strongly than any other quale, although it only does so if pain isn't a fiction. We need to see a full cause-and-effect model of the process by which pain can drive something in order to see it as more than a fiction, and if someone can do that we will then be able to build similar models for all other qualia and explain the whole lot, but there's no point in trying to understand the whole mess in one go until we can explain the clearest case
.

Funny way of  looking at things : ( Religions did evolve and still do,as the universe is still expanding , as the creation of the universe is still an ongoing dynamic process  , no wonder that early muslims did discover evolution itself , centuries before Darwin was even born, thanks to that evolutionary spirit of Islam mainly .Religions were the first to call for experience , personal experience , observation ...before science learned to ever do so : even science itself did originate from the epistemology of the Qur'an ...)
We always come back to square zero again : how can pain, suffering , consciousness, feelings , the thought process, thoughts ...rise from our alleged mechanical systems ?
Either they are illusions we take for real ,or both mind and body are 2   entirely different "systems " which do interact with each other :
But , we cannot yet explain how they interact with each other : an almost impossible issue .

Mind and body correlate or interact with each other : but materialists do confuse that correlation or interaction with causation .

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How can even science itself ,or any other form of human knowledge  for that matter , to mention just that , how can they ever rise from those evolutionary  exclusively mechanical processes of ours ?

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Evolution appears to have built the first information systems in the form of DNA. A second kind of information has then evolved in the form of brains, and one species has ended up with a universal computer which can turn itself to any task. Some of the programming of that computer has evolved to do what it does, but it has reached the point where the rest of the programming can be done through learning. Science comes out of the programming of this computer to try to model the world around it. None of that requires consciousness, but if consciousness is useful as part of the mechanism for some reason, there is no reason why evolution shouldn't have taken a pathway that includes it. We just don't know what its role is because it appears to be superfluous
.

Wrong : makes no sense to me whatsoever ; evolution cannot explain human consciousness ...pain, suffering ...feelings , love ...no way .

You, guys , just "replaced " the God of religion with other "gods " such as nature , evolution , computation, magical emergence ...

materialism just replaced religious metaphysics or theology with its own  materialism is another kind of ossified irrational exclusive orthodox religion ,which pretends to be scientific , which is absolutely not the case .

Science cannot exist without consciousness either .

Consciousness cannot rise from mechanical systems as you know .

Evolution might "program" our alleged mechanical systems to be flexible, to be able to adapt to new situations , to be able to to learn new things ,skills ...but it cannot explain our consciousness , feelings , thought process ....not just via that materialistic mechanical approach , no way .

You were just using some magical thinking here as well, unfortunately enough, just speculating ...

I do not see any fruitful or constructive insights ever being 'able " to "emerge " from that magical materialism thus ,sorry .

Thanks, appreciate

Take care

« Last Edit: 09/09/2013 19:11:54 by DonQuichotte »
 

Offline DonQuichotte

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #87 on: 09/09/2013 19:31:51 »
@ David Cooper ,dlorde :

Please , let's stop deceiving each other , let's be honest :

Why did you ,  ignore what that physicist said  about the dogmatic "religious " orthodox magical ossified exclusive ...materialism in science ?

Can you try to address what he said on that subject at least ?

Especially when it comes to the fact that materialists such as yourselves  do confuse their materialism as a world view , with ...science proper as such , ironically enough .

Worse :

 How can't you , as materialists , realise the fact that you have been deceiving people , in the name of science , by presenting materialistic views as ...scientific facts,or at least as scientific approaches  : materialistic views such as the "fact " that life is just a matter of mechanical biological processes , that the universe is exclusively material, that consciousness can be , some day , (Promissory messianic materialism ) , explained within that materialistic dominating paradigm in science ...?

There are a lots of  legetimate  issues like  that regarding materialism in science and elsewhere  , you just prefer to push under the table and ignore ,as if they do not exist  ....Why is that ? Why , if you are really what you pretend to be , guys : presumabely rational logical scientific people....Why ? Why this deceit , self-deceit , dishonesty or lack of integrity ?

I thought that you, David Cooper , would be courageous enough to be honest and have integrity regarding  these issues of pure materialistic beliefs imposed on and in the name of science  , but i see i made a mistake in that regard at least . 


You can believe whatever you want to believe in ,i have no problems with just that ,  but ,please , just have the decency integrity and honesty not to present them to people as scientific facts , or as scientific approaches at least ...while those materialistic beliefs of yours  , in fact , have nothing to do with science proper ...whatsoever ...

If there is no integrity to be detected in you , guys , regarding these issues , then , any discussions concerning  science ,  materialism and -in science , evolution, consciousness , free will ethics ,...and the rest , would be an utter waste of time , or just deceptive make -believe , ....= the "truth" we seem all to be looking for would be  the main victim, together with science itself, as a result ,unfortunately enough ...
« Last Edit: 09/09/2013 19:38:41 by DonQuichotte »
 

Offline DonQuichotte

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #88 on: 09/09/2013 19:53:31 »
At the very end of that book of his ,and after proving the "fact " that the apparent altruistic behavior is just selfishness in disguise ,even at the level of humans ,   Dawkins went on concluding that :
true altruism has never existed neither in nature nor in the history of the world .
But , we , as humans , are the only species that can revolt against the selfish tyranny of our genes, and against the "fact " that we were born as selfish creatures , by being able to deliberately and consciously modify our selfish behavior  by becoming truely altruistic , by teaching altruism, generosity ...blablabla ...


How , on earth, are we supposed to do just the latter , if we are just machines then ?

How, on earth, did we get to possess such unique property or quality to behave independently from our mechanical systems then ?
How, on earth, did those properties or qualities rise from our mechanical systems then , in the first place to begin with ?

You've just posted three long extracts from Dawkins followed by the above in order to repeat a question you've already asked. I attempted to answer it in a post that appeared 3 minutes before you posted the above. They are mechanical processes running at a different level. The genes run at one level and determine a lot of our behaviour, but the rest happen in the general purpose computer through mechanical thought, and the ideas generated there are able to override the rough-and-ready directly-evolved behaviour control mechanisms programmed into the DNA.

You just have been performing an amazing U boot turn , in total contrast with what you were saying earlier regarding the fact at least that consciousness cannot rise from mechanical systems ....cannot be explained by mechanical systems ...unless ....

What happened ? Why do you, guys , just resort to deliberately contradicting and therefore self-deceiving yourselves and others in the process  , whenever you are cornered via some detected anomalies and holes in your capacity of judgement ,or in your world view on the subject ?

What you said here above makes no sense whatsoever , unless we assume that our consciousness, feelings , free will, thought process ...are just sophisticated illusions we take for real in order to survive : but , if we do just that , then all our knowledge , including the scientific one, including that regarding evolution itself are therefore also just ...illusions , in order to survive , or in order to improve our survival ....Maybe lying to ourselves and to others may lead to the truth , as literature assumes it to be the case , maybe ...

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[By the way, my internet connection is too slow for watching video. Even if that was not a barrier to me, it is sad in this day and age that so much content of the Internet is now being put out there in a form that can only be accessed at the speed of a snail. Video is a major step backwards for the communication of ideas, except where the visuals are important to the points being put across. Sometimes they are, but a diagram will often do just as well. Sometimes there is no substitute for video, but this is rare.

You can try to download those videos and watch them later on .
I think that those kindda videos can shed some sort of light on the subjects they try to cover , videos  lectures , video debates ....but the kings of all human learning , education ....remain represented by books indeed ..by life experiences ....
« Last Edit: 09/09/2013 19:57:06 by DonQuichotte »
 

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #89 on: 09/09/2013 20:21:42 »
@ David Cooper ,dlorde :

Please , let's stop deceiving each other , let's be honest :
So you've been deceiving us, not being honest? ohhh... and to think I trusted you...  :)

You're probably confused about our responses because you have this weird idea that you can label us materialists based on our general opinions, then castigate us for not being True Materialiststm according to some straw man absolutist definition you've decided on.

It doesn't work like that. Materialism isn't some kind of fundamentalist religious sect, nor does it (or we) have to conform to your exacting expectations. Learn to live with it.

So, now that Dawkins & co, me, and David Cooper have been excluded from your True Materialiststm club, who is left ?
« Last Edit: 09/09/2013 20:32:32 by dlorde »
 

Offline DonQuichotte

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #90 on: 09/09/2013 20:26:37 »
A hall mark of consciousness is not just being self aware, but knowing that others are also aware, and being able to imagine or see something from the perspective of another conscious being.

That isn't a hallmark of consciousness (regardless of this label that is usually attached to it), but an indication that a certain level of intelligence has been reached. A machine can be programmed to recognise other machines and to judge that they have a different perspective on things, but with no consciousness being involved. It's important not to be misled by the labels where someone has incorrectly attached the word "consciousness" to something. "Self aware" does not require consciousness, but a lot of people assume that consciousness is tied up in the idea of awareness. A security lamp that switches on when a cat walks past at night is "aware" of the cat, but there is no concsiousness involved. Consciousness is not awareness, but a feeling of awareness; a feeling of understanding something; a feeling of some kind or other. It is always a feeling.

If you reduce awareness or self-awareness to just a feeling of ....Then , they might be not real, in the sense that machines , animals ...can have them as well , as illusions of feeling of awareness , self-awareness , without being able to be   aware or self-aware ,in fact .

Self-awarness or awarness can also contain cognitive elements , maybe vague cognitive elements , but nevertheless cognitive ones , otherwise animals would be aware of things and of other beings as well as such , would be aware of themselves and of their own existence as such .

Animals ' or machines ' presumed awareness of the presence of others , or presumed self-awareness are  just that =  illusions= they are not real= their own presence and that of others are real , but their presumed awareness of them is not= they just detect both presences ,including their environment , mechanically , i suppose , i dunno   .
I saw once a video where scientists tried to prove the "fact " that adult chimps  and human kids of a certain age ( The latters at the age past 18 months ) can be able to "recognize " themselves in the mirror when they are put in front of the mirror = Is that an evidence of their self-awareness ?= I do not think so, for the above mentioned intrinsic cognitive elements of the real awareness or self-awareness of adult humans ..

Furthermore , most of the people are what we can call zombies , in the philosophical sense = lacking important degrees of consciousness or self-consciousness ...

Conclusion : The real awareness or self awareness ,  the real consciousness or self-consciousness do exist only at the levels of some adult humans , and they can be improved as well = extended levels of awareness , self-awareness, consciousness, self-consciousness ...they can be extended via meditation , personal experiences , ....via prayers ...via hard work ...via certain world views ...

Conciousness, self-consciousness, awareness, self-awareness ...might be just evolutionary mechanical sophisticated illusions we take for real as well , but they cannot rise from mechanical systems , let alone that you can try to explain them via mechanical materialistic approaches = you just confuse your materialistic views with science proper,sorry .
 

Offline dlorde

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #91 on: 09/09/2013 20:36:14 »
Self-awarness or awarness can also contain cognitive elements , maybe vague cognitive elements , but nevertheless cognitive ones ...
I don't think that word means what you think it means...

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Conciousness, self-consciousness, awareness, self-awareness ...might be just evolutionary mechanical sophisticated illusions we take for real as well , but they cannot rise from mechanical systems
So how does that work  - they might be mechanical illusions, but they can't arise from mechanical systems?

Shurely shome mishtake...
« Last Edit: 09/09/2013 20:39:27 by dlorde »
 

Offline David Cooper

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #92 on: 09/09/2013 20:59:07 »
I just do not buy that exclusive magical dogmatic ossified materialistic mechanical reductionistic approach of consciousness, feelings , the thought process, free will, good and evil ...

And I don't buy into magic. How does magic work without a mechanism? The problem we have at the moment is that we can't find a solution that doesn't have some magic in it where a mechanism cannot be though up to account for how it does what it does. If we are to have some magic left though, our aim should be to try to keep the magical part to the minimum with as much as possible being explained through clear mechanisms.

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Materialism as a world view, philosophy, paradigm...should be confined only within  the field of inorganic and organic matter processes though , and even there , materialism holds no water ,as quantum physics had shown : "matter is not made of matter " ,so to speak .

Quantum physics doesn't eliminate the stuff of which we are made - it merely tells a different story of its nature, but one in which there is still stuff.

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The problem is ,neither Dawkins or others could  , would  , or did answer is :

How did that intelligence of ours or that ability of ours to override ....rise from our alleged mechanical systems, in the first place to begin with , and how does it  do just that you were saying , in fact ?

By a very long, slow process of evolution in which accidental advances are selected for. We have two systems for controlling how we relate to other people. One of them is primitive and based on programmed behaviours (instinctive ones), so if someone annoys you you might get angry with them, and then if you see them get upset or scared you are (hopefully) triggered into losing the anger and being nice to them again. We have a second system for doing the same job where we point out the thing the other person has done that has annoyed us instead of unleashing anger upon them, and then we talk our way to a resolution. This second way of dealing with situations is the computer side - we calculate our way to solutions in a way that is not limited by pre-programmed ways of behaving fixed by our genes. We have also evolved to be able to let this more advanced system override the more primitive one, though some of us are more successful than others at doing so, and of course some of us calculate better than others too, but the two different systems are there, they are distinct from each other, and the newer computational system is superior in enough individuals for us to have evolved a preference for allowing it to override the primitive system because it enhances our survival chances.

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Materialism excludes indeed any potential existence of the free will , but many self-declared materialists scientists whose works i read , do think free will does exist = a paradox .

Can you demonstrate your free will through a simple example of how you apply it? I can't demonstrate mine because I don't have any - I always try to do the best thing, and when I can't identify a best thing to do I have to struggle to find a way to make a random decision instead. If you have a choice between eating an orange and a lemon, your free will is powerless to make you pick the lemon other than as a futile attempt to prove that you have free will, in which case the decision is fully determined by that objective.

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Nature vs nurture : what about our own input ? we cannot be just machines ,no way , otherwise , just try to explain consciousness to me via that mechanical approach of yours = you cannot , unless you do try to kiss your materialism goodbye ...

If consciousness is real, there will be a way to fit it into the mechanical system. There is no reason why qualia shouldn't be real parts of a mechanical system, but there is a serious difficulty in seeing how they fit usefully in the chain of causation and in how the idea of their existence is communicated which needs to be accounted for.

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You do make it sound as if we are just some unconscious puppets in the hands of unconscious DNA machinery in its interactions with the environment ,nurture .

DNA has handed over control to reasoning performed by a computer. DNA merely codes for the construction of the computer and builds some default functionality into it, some of which can be overridden if the computations determine that it should be.

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That's just the mainstream materialistic point of view on the subject i do not share :
we cannot explain human behavior just via biology genetics , environment and nurture ,without the notion of free will at least .

Free will is a dead duck. There isn't any, as you'll eventually realise if you try to illustrate a case in which you can demonstrate any.

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This exclusively biological genetic approach explains some parts of the human condition , human behavior, human suffering ....not all of it .
It cannot explain consciousness, feelings , emotions , love ....not in a million years ,despite what  promissory messianic materialism says on the subject .

If qualia are involved in the mechanism, all of those things will be compatible with materialism.

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Politics is an attempt to run things well and to apply morality through law, but it's all mechanistic, some of it being driven by instincts (homosexuality is not acceptable because we're programmed to find it disgusting), some is driven by cultural beliefs (homosexuality is not acceptable because this Holy book says so), and some of it is driven by direct thinking which may be right or wrong (homosexuality is not acceptable because it spreads disease; or homosexuality is acceptable because it does immense harm to people to prevent them from being the people they cannot help but be).

You're not explaining anything via this mechanical approach , dude .

How can all that rise from our mechanical systems then ? makes no sense .

I'm showing you how politics works. Some people try to ban things that disgust them; some people try to ban things that go against a set of rules that they've bought into; some people try to ban things that they think are dangerous; and some can balance things up in such a way that they recognise that some dangers are not bad enough to justify banning them because a ban can result in greater damage. All of that is mechanistic, and politics is just a fight between rival ideas of how things should be done.

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Funny way of  looking at things : ( Religions did evolve and still do,as the universe is still expanding , as the creation of the universe is still an ongoing dynamic process  , no wonder that early muslims did discover evolution itself , centuries before Darwin was even born, thanks to that evolutionary spirit of Islam mainly .Religions were the first to call for experience , personal experience , observation ...before science learned to ever do so : even science itself did originate from the epistemology of the Qur'an ...)

Religion is a primitive form of science. Not all the primitivity has been removed from science even now, as you are aware - there is still some magic in there in places which needs to be eliminated.

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We always come back to square zero again : how can pain, suffering , consciousness, feelings , the thought process, thoughts ...rise from our alleged mechanical systems ?
Either they are illusions we take for real ,or both mind and body are 2   entirely different "systems " which do interact with each other :
But , we cannot yet explain how they interact with each other : an almost impossible issue .

That is indeed the problem, but there are only three possible solutions:-

(1): There is no such thing as consciousness.

(2): It works by magic.

(3): There is a mechanism behind consciousness which can account for it fully.

I think most of us would like (3) to be the case, but if there is no such solution we're left with just two nasty alternatives.

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Evolution appears to have built the first information systems in the form of DNA. A second kind of information has then evolved in the form of brains, and one species has ended up with a universal computer which can turn itself to any task. Some of the programming of that computer has evolved to do what it does, but it has reached the point where the rest of the programming can be done through learning. Science comes out of the programming of this computer to try to model the world around it. None of that requires consciousness, but if consciousness is useful as part of the mechanism for some reason, there is no reason why evolution shouldn't have taken a pathway that includes it. We just don't know what its role is because it appears to be superfluous
.

Wrong : makes no sense to me whatsoever ; evolution cannot explain human consciousness ...pain, suffering ...feelings , love ...no way .

It isn't wrong. It won't explain qualia, of course, but it will (if qualia are really part of the process) account for how they are used in the system to make it do what it does.

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You, guys , just "replaced " the God of religion with other "gods " such as nature , evolution , computation, magical emergence ...

I'm not giving you any magical emergence or gods. Evolution is a process by which complex functionality can come into being through as series of small steps without being designed. Any accidental step that leads to a survival advantage is likely to be retained and then be built upon by further accidental steps, and we have a chain of species to look at which serve as examples of different steps in evolved intelligence. We aren't massively different in the brain department from other apes, but we have reached the point where our brains have become full general intelligence systems which can be turned to any task. Other species can't do this as they are at least one step short of having that capability.

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materialism just replaced religious metaphysics or theology with its own  materialism is another kind of ossified irrational exclusive orthodox religion ,which pretends to be scientific , which is absolutely not the case .

Materialism is the rejection of magic. Not all materialists manage to recognise where there is still magic in their model, but that is their aim nonetheless.

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Science cannot exist without consciousness either .

An intelligent computer can do science.

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Consciousness cannot rise from mechanical systems as you know .

Consciousness would need to exist in some form already and merely be incorporated into mechanical systems.

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Evolution might "program" our alleged mechanical systems to be flexible, to be able to adapt to new situations , to be able to to learn new things ,skills ...but it cannot explain our consciousness , feelings , thought process ....not just via that materialistic mechanical approach , no way .

The energy out of which a rock is made may be experiencing feelings all the time. That may be a standard property of all stuff, and a whole range of qualia may be available states of feeling for that stuff. That is not problematic. What is problematic is how you build it into a response-and-control system and get it to serve a clear purpose there as part of the chain of causation, plus how these feelings can lead to true data about feelings being generated by information systems.

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You were just using some magical thinking here as well, unfortunately enough, just speculating ...

Where have I used magical thinking?

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I do not see any fruitful or constructive insights ever being 'able " to "emerge " from that magical materialism thus ,sorry .

I see nothing useful coming out of magical thinking of any kind - it is a non-explanation which denies mechanism. Your alternative to materialism-with-a-bit-of-magic-built-in is to ditch all the materialism and just have the magic. My alternative to it is to ditch all the magic and just have the materialism. My materialism has room for qualia in it, but I am stuck at the point where I try to fit qualia into the model to make them non-superfluous and to allow their existence to be recognised by the information system.
 

Offline David Cooper

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #93 on: 09/09/2013 21:19:55 »
@ David Cooper ,dlorde :

Please , let's stop deceiving each other , let's be honest :

Why did you ,  ignore what that physicist said  about the dogmatic "religious " orthodox magical ossified exclusive ...materialism in science ?

If I ignore things, it's usually where the point is put across so badly that I'd rather wait for it to be made again in a better form. Sometimes I can't work out what the question is, but I assume that if there is a decent question there and I don't answer it it will come back later on expressed in a more intelligible form and without being spread across many paragraphs of unnecessary bloat.

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Can you try to address what he said on that subject at least ?

Especially when it comes to the fact that materialists such as yourselves  do confuse their materialism as a world view , with ...science proper as such , ironically enough .

That is a case in point. Where's the actual question?

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Worse :

 How can't you , as materialists , realise the fact that you have been deceiving people , in the name of science , by presenting materialistic views as ...scientific facts,or at least as scientific approaches  : materialistic views such as the "fact " that life is just a matter of mechanical biological processes , that the universe is exclusively material, that consciousness can be , some day , (Promissory messianic materialism ) , explained within that materialistic dominating paradigm in science ...?

I'm not deceiving anyone. When I say something can be done mechanistically, it's because I can see the mechanism myself. When I can't see the whole mechanism, I point out that there's a bit of mechanism missing, and where it's not only missing but looks impossible to fit into the model, I make a point of saying so.

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There are a lots of  legetimate  issues like  that regarding materialism in science and elsewhere  , you just prefer to push under the table and ignore ,as if they do not exist  ....Why is that ? Why , if you are really what you pretend to be , guys : presumabely rational logical scientific people....Why ? Why this deceit , self-deceit , dishonesty or lack of integrity ?

I never push the gaps in understanding under the table. I always focus on mechanism and insist that any missing bits are flagged up. In the case of intelligence and all the things we do that depend upon it (politics, morality, etc.) I can see an entire mechanism behind them which does not need to involve consciousness. There may be an alternative mechanism behind them which does involve consciousness too, but there are difficulties with building the model for that.

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I thought that you, David Cooper , would be courageous enough to be honest and have integrity regarding  these issues of pure materialistic beliefs imposed on and in the name of science  , but i see i made a mistake in that regard at least .  [/b]

You are making the mistake now of thinking I'm being dishonest about this. I'm telling you how I see it, and up to a point I'm willing to take you through chunks of mechanism which you think have to rely on magic, although I am not going to go into so much detail as to give away industrial secrets relating to my AGI work.

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You can believe whatever you want to believe in ,i have no problems with just that ,  but ,please , just have the decency integrity and honesty not to present them to people as scientific facts , or as scientific approaches at least ...while those materialistic beliefs of yours  , in fact , have nothing to do with science proper ...whatsoever ...

If I have said something is a fact, I will back it up. All you have to do is point to one of my claimed facts and tell me why it's wrong.

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If there is no integrity to be detected in you , guys , regarding these issues , then , any discussions concerning  science ,  materialism and -in science , evolution, consciousness , free will ethics ,...and the rest , would be an utter waste of time , or just deceptive make -believe , ....= the "truth" we seem all to be looking for would be  the main victim, together with science itself, as a result ,unfortunately enough ...

It's no use just flinging a whole lot of concepts around and asserting that they work by magic. You need to focus down on something specific that I have said which you disagree with and tell me where I've gone wrong.
 

Offline DonQuichotte

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #94 on: 09/09/2013 21:20:11 »
@ David Cooper ,dlorde :

Please , let's stop deceiving each other , let's be honest :
So you've been deceiving us, not being honest? ohhh... and to think I trusted you...  :)

You're probably confused about our responses because you have this weird idea that you can label us materialists based on our general opinions, then castigate us for not being True Materialiststm according to some straw man absolutist definition you've decided on.

It doesn't work like that. Materialism isn't some kind of fundamentalist religious sect, nor does it (or we) have to conform to your exacting expectations. Learn to live with it.

That says a lot about you .

What's wrong about objectivity , honesty , integrity, decency ?

I am mainly trying to be objective with you , guys (Objectivity is not as easy to achieve as you might think : total objectivity is even a myth )

I am trying to be honest with myself and with you , guys , as a result,that's all  .

"Searching for the truth and science as a means to approach the truth or reality " require some degrees of objectivity , integrity at least , honesty , ....Don't you agree ?

You can believe in whatever you wanna believe in, i have no problem with that , once again , but , please do not present your own beliefs as scientific facts or as scientific approaches : just present them as your beliefs ,as they actually are = that i can respect : That's what i meant by objectivity , honesty, decency, integrity ...

Just try to be objective , honest ,decent ,  with integrity enough to be willing to separate science proper from your beliefs , as i try to do in relation to mine as well , as much as possible though .

What's wrong with that either ?

Those who do not detect dishonesty both in themselves and in others , please do rise : those who do not sin , please , go ahead and throw stones at the other sinners ...Get the metaphor or pic ? 

Have you not ever experienced either the conscious or the sub-conscious self-deceit ? =That amazing intrinsic capacity or property of the human mind by the way , we can never be totally free from, even Dawkins himself talked about in his "Selfish Gene " by the way , a self-deceit capacity and property of our minds we seem to have developed in ourselves , both consciously and sub-consciously , via evolution .
 Have you not ever experienced  deliberate or sub-conscious self-deceit or conscious , sub-conscious deceit of others ? = we all have , without any exception , including Mother Theresa ....haha = there are neither secular no religious saints out there , inclluding prophets even , to some degree at least .


You know : There  was  even a guy who won the Nobel prize for literature :Atheist writer French  Albert Camus , just essentially because he tried to be as honest , as objective , as decent with himself and others in his masterpiece novel as possible : The fall or "La Chute " in French : That novel had so much impact on me during my immoral Don _Juan like materialist existence previously , that it made me change my life course : how about just that ? An atheist inspired me to change my life radically : nice , isn't it ?

The story of the genesis of that novel goes a bit like this :

Albert Camus wrote a philosophical essay condemning in it the suspicious double morality or double face of existentialists prominent figures such as Sartre and co , in the sense that they hold the following fundamentally hypocrit contradictory "convictions " :

They were  Stalinian Marxists  , and they pretended  to stand for the absolute freedom of the individual, at the same time  = a paradox = Marxism as a very negation of any degree of human liberty .

Sartre and co , reacted so violently as to express explicit doubts regarding the very integrity or knowledge of Camus in relation to philosophy in general .

Camus went through a devastating self-doubt process , a devastating crisis of identity which scarred his soul for life , as he put it :

His brilliant answer to Sartre and co was in the shape of that novel of his ( He got the nobel prize for his whole oeuvre in fact ) : try to read that novel where he used the Cartesian doubt , combined with the secular version of confession , combined with Pascal's philosophy ....combined with the mirror technique in literature ...combined with telling "lies " in order to get to the "truth " in literature ....and you will discover what i was talking about ...This was just an analogy , no comparison with this "conflict " of ours we have ...though .

Dawkins 30th edition of his "Selfish Gene " i did download from internet also told the stories of many people who went through devastating   despair , depression ... doubt , self-doubt ...phases ,after reading the "truths " contained in that book ....by the way .

Anyway :

Look, let's be honest indeed and stop deceiving each other , even sub-consciously , if we can at least : as much as possible though , in order to have constructive discussions we can learn from , what's wrong about that ?

What i meant : i said it clearly : you are dishonest enough to present your materialistic views as scientific facts , or at least as scientific approaches ....

I am not immune to that either ,in relation to my own beliefs : i just do no present my own beliefs as scientific facts , or as scientific approaches at least ...

And i cannot say that i can be  objective, honest , decent , with integrity ...all the time , no way : nobody can say just that about himself/herself , otherwise they would be lying obviously .

What's wrong about what i said here above and in my other post you responded to , that it made you say these irrational things of yours then ?

Thanks , appreciate

Kind regards

Take care
 

Offline David Cooper

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #95 on: 09/09/2013 21:33:29 »
You've just posted three long extracts from Dawkins followed by the above in order to repeat a question you've already asked. I attempted to answer it in a post that appeared 3 minutes before you posted the above. They are mechanical processes running at a different level. The genes run at one level and determine a lot of our behaviour, but the rest happen in the general purpose computer through mechanical thought, and the ideas generated there are able to override the rough-and-ready directly-evolved behaviour control mechanisms programmed into the DNA.

You just have been performing an amazing U boot turn , in total contrast with what you were saying earlier regarding the fact at least that consciousness cannot rise from mechanical systems ....cannot be explained by mechanical systems ...unless ....

I haven't made any U-turn. You're just having difficulty understanding what you're reading.

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What happened ? Why do you, guys , just resort to deliberately contradicting and therefore self-deceiving yourselves and others in the process  , whenever you are cornered via some detected anomalies and holes in your capacity of judgement ,or in your world view on the subject ?

Where's the contradiction?

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What you said here above makes no sense whatsoever , unless we assume that our consciousness, feelings , free will, thought process ...are just sophisticated illusions we take for real in order to survive : but , if we do just that , then all our knowledge , including the scientific one, including that regarding evolution itself are therefore also just ...illusions , in order to survive , or in order to improve our survival ....Maybe lying to ourselves and to others may lead to the truth , as literature assumes it to be the case , maybe ...

The machine exists. It may not exist in the form we think it exists in, but it exists in some form and it functions mechanically. It doesn't need consciousness to function unless that has somehow been built into the mechanism. Either way though, there is the DNA specifying the build of the brain and some of its functionality, and then the brain performs calculations which can be used to steer the behaviour of the machine. The involvement of consciousness in that is unimportant to the issue of how there can be two systems in the machine with one (the newer one which is programmed by interactions with the external world) able to override the other (the primitive one programmed directly by genes).
 

Offline dlorde

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #96 on: 09/09/2013 22:44:36 »
What's wrong about objectivity , honesty , integrity, decency ?
Nothing at all, they are laudable aims.

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"Searching for the truth and science as a means to approach the truth or reality " require some degrees of objectivity , integrity at least , honesty , ....Don't you agree ?
Science doesn't claim to search for truth, or even reality; nevertheless, it does help to have objectivity, integrity, and honesty in scientific work and in general.

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please do not present your own beliefs as scientific facts or as scientific approaches : just present them as your beliefs ,as they actually are = that i can respect : That's what i meant by objectivity , honesty, decency, integrity ...
That's my intent. By all means point out any examples where you think I go astray.

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What's wrong about what i said here above and in my other post you responded to , that it made you say these irrational things of yours then ?
What irrational things do you mean? if you have a problem with something I said, quote it and explain the problem.
 

Offline cheryl j

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #97 on: 10/09/2013 13:59:28 »
A hall mark of consciousness is not just being self aware, but knowing that others are also aware, and being able to imagine or see something from the perspective of another conscious being.

That isn't a hallmark of consciousness (regardless of this label that is usually attached to it), but an indication that a certain level of intelligence has been reached. A machine can be programmed to recognise other machines and to judge that they have a different perspective on things, but with no consciousness being involved. It's important not to be misled by the labels where someone has incorrectly attached the word "consciousness" to something. "Self aware" does not require consciousness, but a lot of people assume that consciousness is tied up in the idea of awareness. A security lamp that switches on when a cat walks past at night is "aware" of the cat, but there is no concsiousness involved. Consciousness is not awareness, but a feeling of awareness; a feeling of understanding something; a feeling of some kind or other. It is always a feeling.

I don't know if the cat and lamp post is the best analogy. Even if the lamp post is set up to turn on all the other lamp posts in the yard that do not sense the cat, they essentially become parts of the same machine. Not to mention the fact that the lamp post is not really "aware" of a cat, or the significance of cats, it's detecting something like movement and is as likely to be set off by rustling leaves. In the chimp experiment, the threat was someone dressed as a veterinarian with a large needle, that all the chimps were afraid of because of past painful vaccinations. 

I suspect whatever experiment is offered up, someone will claim they can replicate the details of it with computers, or that the experiment cannot prove what the chimp is actually "feeling," therefore it cannot tell us anything about true consciousness, whose definition, like the word "feeling," remains elusive and constantly changing.

As flawed as these experiments may be, I still feel they contribute something to the bulk of evidence supporting a biological basis of consciousness. And certainly the explanations are more reasonable than claiming the consciousness springs from nothing at all, which reminds me of the spontaneous generation arguments hundreds of years ago.

Recently there was news about the first brain to brain interface, in which a researcher at the University of Washington was able to move another scientist's hand across campus. That isn't exactly a Vulcan mind meld, but it's pretty cool, and it does make you wonder if these methods will become sophisticated enough to allow someone to experience another person's consciousness. But I am also afraid that if you were able to do that and hooked a person up to a chimp, DonQuixote would claim they were only experiencing the "illusion" of the chimp's consciousness.

Nevertheless, experiments can invalidate certain claims. DonQuixote asserted earlier that his consciousness or cognitive understanding informs his emotional responses, but fMRI imaging has shown that is not the actual sequence of events, make of that what you will. And you are probably also aware of FMRI imaging that demonstrates the brain deciding to act before the subject is aware that he has decided to do something. Until we can do mind melds, we may be limited in explaining the qualitative aspects of feelings, but we can certainly find out what happens when inside the brain.

But again, no matter what research methodology or evidence is offered up, no matter how much science progresses towards understanding phenomena which were once thought to be not only unmeasurable, but untraceable and undefinable, it's never enough for those who cannot or do not want to believe that we are physical beings and mortal. 

« Last Edit: 10/09/2013 14:15:14 by cheryl j »
 

Offline DonQuichotte

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #98 on: 10/09/2013 17:36:14 »
What's wrong about objectivity , honesty , integrity, decency ?
Nothing at all, they are laudable aims.

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"Searching for the truth and science as a means to approach the truth or reality " require some degrees of objectivity , integrity at least , honesty , ....Don't you agree ?
Science doesn't claim to search for truth, or even reality; nevertheless, it does help to have objectivity, integrity, and honesty in scientific work and in general.

Ok, we do agree with each other on that at least : that was my core point .
Besides, I am not gonna argue with you concerning the fact that science tries to approach the truth , reality though .

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please do not present your own beliefs as scientific facts or as scientific approaches : just present them as your beliefs ,as they actually are = that i can respect : That's what i meant by objectivity , honesty, decency, integrity ...
That's my intent. By all means point out any examples where you think I go astray.

Well, see that post of mine to you and to Cooper as well on the subject , Cooper did try to address his own way at least .

I will add the following objection too to all that :

How can you consider the following as a scientific approach , and not as a materialistic view point :

Our alleged evolved ability to  rebel against our genes ,via our evolved brain , and therefore to be independent in that regard at least : how can our mechanical brain accomplish such a performance   then ? How can a mechanical system such as our brain generate such independence ?

How can that alleged independence "emerge " from our complex evolved so-called mechanical brain then ?

You tell me ...


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What's wrong about what i said here above and in my other post you responded to , that it made you say these irrational things of yours then ?
What irrational things do you mean? if you have a problem with something I said, quote it and explain the problem.

See that post of yours here above ,as a reply to mine on the subject thus :

(So , you have been deceiving us , I trusted you ....learn to live with it ....things like that .... ).

P.S.: I have been honest with you, guys , all the way and all along so far though.
« Last Edit: 10/09/2013 17:40:49 by DonQuichotte »
 

Offline David Cooper

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #99 on: 10/09/2013 17:48:01 »
...if you were able to do that and hooked a person up to a chimp, DonQuixote would claim they were only experiencing the "illusion" of the chimp's consciousness.

That would be a fun experiment, though any feelings involved in the human triggered by the inputs from the chimp would depend on human feelings which might be nothing like those experienced by the chimp. It is interesting though that our friend DonQuichotte thinks chimps lack consciousness. There's a biological machine which is almost the same as us and superior intellectually to some people, and yet chimps supposedly lack consciousness while people have it. All these mechanisms which we have that are driven by likes and dislikes, by discomfort and pleasure, are unnecessary in all other creatures? They are all zombies? Why do we have them if all other creatures have no need of them?
 

The Naked Scientists Forum

Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #99 on: 10/09/2013 17:48:01 »

 

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