What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?

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Offline DonQuichotte

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

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

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

The materialistic approach of human consciousness fails pathetically indeed .

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

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

 


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

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

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

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

What is human consciousness in fact ?

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

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

Thanks, folks , appreciate indeed

All the best

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

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

Ciao

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

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Offline alancalverd

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

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

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

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

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Offline David Cooper

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

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

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

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Offline DonQuichotte

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

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

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

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

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


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

Take care



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

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Offline alancalverd

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Offline DonQuichotte

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

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

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

God ...

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

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

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Offline DonQuichotte

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Offline alancalverd

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

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

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

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

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But , only humans are self-aware though

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That put aside :

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

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Offline alancalverd

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As for the rest of your gibberish : irrelevent .

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

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Offline DonQuichotte

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

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

In short and in other words :

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

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

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

  Get that , folks ? Hope so indeed .

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Offline David Cooper

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

Solution?

Unfollow.

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Offline DonQuichotte

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

Solution?

Unfollow.

Why is that and how ?

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

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

Sweet dreams in your materialictic wonderland, Alice .

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

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Offline dlorde

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

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

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Offline David Cooper

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

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

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

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Offline dlorde

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

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

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

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

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Offline David Cooper

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

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

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

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

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Offline dlorde

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Offline DonQuichotte

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Offline alancalverd

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

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

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Offline dlorde

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

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Offline David Cooper

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #25 on: 04/09/2013 19:23:06 »
I honestly cannot understand how one can attack materialism and reductionism, blithely dismiss things like emergent properties and offer absolutely nothing better in terms of explanation of phenomena.

Emergent properties are well worth dismissing. Nothing ever emerges that isn't 100% rooted in the components, even if it's hard to recognise them until they emerge. When it comes to consciousness, you can't have something emerge out of a system to be sentient (which is what consciousness is really all about) without any of the components being sentient unless your explanation is based on magic. Sentient geometry with no sentient components is not a scientific explanation of anything.

We're up against the biggest puzzle of them all here, and there is nothing close to a satisfactory explanation on the table. All proposed solutions involve either a large injection of magic or the removal of consciousness altogether, which goes completely against what we directly feel, so none of us can claim to be arguing from a good position. It is important though that we recognise where we are injecting magic into our explanations and don't pretend it isn't there.

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Offline David Cooper

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #26 on: 04/09/2013 20:13:16 »
This sounds a bit like the philosophical zombies. Personally, I'd say that if an intelligent computer system can really be deluded (i.e. be able hold a belief in the face of contradictory evidence), that's pretty good evidence for consciousness ;)

Not when you can examine the workings and see exactly where the fictions are being generated. A fiction of consciousness is simply not consciousness. Writing a program which sends the word "Ouch!" to the screen does not mean there is any actual pain experienced in the system, and the same principle applies to a more complex program which creates other fictions about feelings which it is supposedly feeling. The intelligent machine may be fooled into generating fictional claims about feelings and to mark them as true, but it is plain wrong - there is no consciousness involved.

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But seriously, if such a system displays all the behavioural characteristics of consciousness appropriately, how can we say it is not conscious? after all, that's how we judge consciousness, even subjectively.

A simple program printing "Ouch!" to the screen whenever a key is pressed would pass your test, but it would be lying about the existence of pain.

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Yes, we could program a system to superficially appear conscious when it isn't, but I would suggest that there would be differences that would be distinguishable. If it was not possible to tell, I'd say it is conscious.

No, it would be wise to treat it as if it is conscious so as not to harm it just in case it is, but you should not label it as conscious unless you can see the whole mechanism and identify where the feelings are being experienced and what it is that is experiencing them.

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There is pain if we feel pain; a headache, or even phantom limb pain is 'real' pain; that feeling of hurting is what we mean by 'pain'. So, I say, for consciousness - that sense of feeling aware, or of self-awareness. That sensation is what consciousness is, and it is accompanied by neurophysiological, and, usually, by physiological and behavioural indicators. The 'I' is an emergent construct, a collaboration of neurological processes. Strictly, its location is in the brain, as it's generated by brain processes, but its subjective location (where it feels it is located) may not be.

When you torture someone, what is it that's suffering? Imagine that you can make a brain out of a few thousand atoms. None of those atoms is able to feel pain, but pain is felt somewhere when they are connected together in a particular arrangement and a certain input is fed into them. What feels the pain? The atoms don't feel it, so is it the geometrical arrangement itself that you are torturing and causing to suffer? Or is it something else that doesn't exist which is emerging to suffer? Does that not strike you as being rather magical?

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In a computer, no matter how intelligent the software becomes, there will never be an "I" in it capable of feeling anything.
That's arguable. Consciousness isn't intelligence.

Indeed it isn't, but the claims we have about its existence come from intelligent information systems in our brains. If we didn't have the claims about things like pain coming out of such intelligent systems, we would know nothing of it.

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If we built a neural network similar to the brain (architecturally and connectedly) and trained it appropriately, there's no reason why it should not have a subjective sense of self. It won't happen unless it's structured appropriately; we know certain structures are essential to generate various aspects of self & self image. There are various ventures in progress, of which Blue Brain Project looks like the best bet, but their objective is neurological disease research rather than consciousness, so unless diseases of consciousness come under that remit, we may not see it.

If we make such a system and it claims to be able to feel qualia, we won't know whether to believe it or not, and it will be programmed in the same way as our minds, hiding all the fine working in complex networks which are practically impossible to untangle. Even a simple neural network can be so complex in the way it functions that no one can work out how it does what it does.

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

All we have done so far is find ways to stop and restore the reporting of the experience of sensations - we rely 100% on the individual being studied reporting to us whether they were conscious or not. That may allow us to rule out the possibility of the "I" being in certain places, so we may in time track it down to a small location or set of locations, but even then we'll have a hard time trying to find it within those.

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

I wasn't referring to the inputs from nerves interfacing with the brain, but to the inputs to the information system from the places where the experiences of pain and other qualia supposedly occur. For the information system to be informed that pain has been experienced, there needs to be an input to signal that, but the input signal cannot transmit actual knowledge of pain to the information system, so the information system has to map an assertion that there was pain to the input, an assertion which it cannot back up because it is nothing more than a mapping. The information system has no means to know anything about the pain - all it can know is that there is an input from something which relates to a warning of potential damage being done.

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Offline DonQuichotte

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #27 on: 04/09/2013 20:55:26 »
Important note :

I personally think that human consciousness is simply the "I" , or "me"  through which  we interpret or perceive the representation of reality created by our brain   via our senses .

But then again, you would ask me what that "I" or "me" exactly is : i would say : it's the soul : what is the soul ? one would ask ...

That would bring us back to square zero again ...so .

Besides, and regardless of what the soul might be , i think that the soul "resides " in our whole beings , in every cell , atom or organ of ours , not just in the brain : the soul is "located " within and without in fact (Extended sense of reality or the extended consciousness via the "reading" of peoples ' minds,via some sort of telepathy ...)   ,and has no specific "location " ,due to its immaterial nature which escapes space -time= that's no contradiction in fact  .

I also think that human consciousness is a dynamic ever-changing process as well , but the core "I" or "me " in it is unchanging ..., and there are also many levels of consciousness as well ...I dunno .


In other words :

Feelings , emotions ....(There are some scientifc studies such as the one here below which confirms the fact that behavior , emotions, feelings ...are not always required for  consciousness , as some other scientific studies had shown that the brain is not always needed for  consciousness as well sometimes.....https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hOID_7T2N0s ... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lKPZDS01qGg   ...) , feelings , emotions ...thus are  in fact no built-in illusions in our systems we get fooled by ,or we confuse with reality : they are as real as we are,but the materialistic interpretation of the biological evolution , via the natural selection ,can only logically conclude otherwise,logically in the materialistic sense at least , to be more precize  : that the evolved brain created consciousness , and therefore the latter is just a sophisticated survival strategy built-in illusion in our systems we perceive as real while it is not as such  :materialists do not even realise or detect the inherent intrinsic paradox or contradiction contained in their latter assumption ,ironically enough .

My own alternative explanation for pain , emotions, feelings ...is as follows :This is just an attempt of mine on the subject : i might be wrong of course : I dunno :

"We" (what we can call our consciousness,relatively speaking then  )  get informed  by our sensory "inputs " about a given representation of reality created by our brain in the process as a result , our consciousness acts up on , by trying to make sense of that given representation of reality by "translating " it into some sort of conscious representation of reality , the latter causes our biological system to act accordingly :

Example : when i hear some bad news on the phone, for example , the sound waves of the voice of speaker via the phone ( the sound waves of the voice of  the speaker at the other end of the phone gets converted to electro-magnetic signals , which get , in their turn , converted to sound waves again hitting my ears ' nerves ...), the sound waves of the speaker's voice hit my ears' nerves which send them to particular areas of my brain : my consciousness or "me " gets informed by those sensory "inputs " and therefore tries to make sense of them , which triggers a conscious feeling of sadness by my consciousness as a result that can even bring tears to my eyes afterwards :

My consciousness gets informed by my sensory "inputs " transmitted to my brain by the sound waves of the speaker's voice  via my ears' nerves , my consciousness then generates the sad feeling as a result , which causes my biological system to trigger tears in my eyes ...= consciousness is not generated by the brain : the latter merely informs it of that given representation of reality corresponding to those sound waves of the voice of the speaker ,my consciousness or "me " acts upon by triggering the feeling of sadness which results in the biological process of tears flowing from my eyes ,I dunno .

In short : the brain does not generate feelings , emotions, pain,consciousness  ....via triggering the alleged biological processes resulting in the feeling of pain, emotions, feelings ....which trigger tears in my eyes = it's exactly the other way around : feelings , emotions , pain ...are triggered by my own consciousness which results in the feedback leading to the biological process resulting in triggering tears in my eyes , after the fact that my sensory inputs inform my consciousness of that particular representation of reality created by my own brain via my own senses .
« Last Edit: 04/09/2013 21:15:22 by DonQuichotte »

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Offline DonQuichotte

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #28 on: 04/09/2013 21:32:45 »
Materialism is just that n fact , once again : a world view most of people , including people here , do confuse with science itself ,unfortunately enough :
You have been indoctrinated and brainwashed by materialism for more than 5 centuries now that you cannot but confuse it with science ,thanks to all those scientific great huge advances in the last centuries .
No wonder when we take into consideration that dominating materialistic paradigm in science stating the " fact " that the reality out there is  exclusively material : a materialistic "fact " or paradigm which has been largely refuted by quantum physics at least .
The materialistic assumption that life itself as a result is just a matter , so to speak, of just material biological processes does not hold much water either = no wonder that materialism fails pathetically at the level of human sciences mainly and elsewhere , and even at the level of inorganic  matter itself , and even at the level of quantum physics ...despite the great achievements of materialism at the level of exact -sciences at least , relatively speaking .

In short :

It is only a matter of time before that materialistic  deterministic mechanical reductionistic paradigm becomes ...history , and there are many non-materialistic  alternative approaches of human consciousness,life ... as well out there :

So, materialists just behave as if they do not exist as such, otherwise they would be refuting their own materialism as a world view in the process , as a result= they set a lethal trap for themselves they cannot escape , unless they reject materialism itself  .


P.S.: "The evolved brain created consciousness as a so-called emergent property " is yet another materialistic assumption though = not a scientific fact = not even remotely close . especially when we take into consideration the fact that we still do not know much about the extremely complex human brain, despite all those neurological advances ...
« Last Edit: 04/09/2013 21:48:50 by DonQuichotte »

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Offline DonQuichotte

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #29 on: 04/09/2013 21:36:28 »
Who says reality makes sense? Why should it? To whom? Our entire existence is due tot he fact that it doesn't.

That's just your own opinion on the subject , you "extracted " from or you got made to believe in through materialism as a world view = logical, in the materialistic sense at least .

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Offline DonQuichotte

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #30 on: 04/09/2013 21:53:22 »
I honestly cannot understand how one can attack materialism and reductionism, blithely dismiss things like emergent properties and offer absolutely nothing better in terms of explanation of phenomena.
You don't need such explanations if you have faith. Apparently it's beyond logic, reason, and science...

Come on : if that was the case : how ,on earth , was it possible then that the early muslims "invented " and practiced science ,mainly thanks to that Qur'anic epistemology on the subject .?
You should know better than saying such a stupid thing , sorry .

Science , reason, logic ...have limits , but that does not mean we should "discard " them , who said that ?

Try to detect the context of the statements of people ....
« Last Edit: 04/09/2013 21:55:13 by DonQuichotte »

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Offline dlorde

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #31 on: 05/09/2013 00:04:51 »
Emergent properties are well worth dismissing. Nothing ever emerges that isn't 100% rooted in the components, even if it's hard to recognise them until they emerge. When it comes to consciousness, you can't have something emerge out of a system to be sentient (which is what consciousness is really all about) without any of the components being sentient unless your explanation is based on magic.
Of course emergent properties are rooted in the components, that's the point; they are properties of the components interacting together that are not properties of the components individually. So water is wet, but a water molecule isn't; there's nothing about an individual water molecule that is wet. In Conway's Game of Life, there's nothing in the simple rules of a grid square's life & death that predicts a glider gun, that's an emergent phenomenon of multiple iterations of multiple grid squares. Tin and copper are soft metals, but mix them together and the alloy is harder than either; an emergent property of the interaction of copper and tin atoms, not predictable from examining a tin atom and a copper atom.
« Last Edit: 05/09/2013 00:08:02 by dlorde »

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Offline alancalverd

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #32 on: 05/09/2013 07:48:28 »
Come on : if that was the case : how ,on earth , was it possible then that the early muslims "invented " and practiced science ,mainly thanks to that Qur'anic epistemology on the subject .?


"Thanks to" or "despite"?

The essence of science is that there is no supernatural or revealed authority: the very opposite of all religions.
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Offline dlorde

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #33 on: 05/09/2013 12:00:24 »
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if such a system displays all the behavioural characteristics of consciousness appropriately, how can we say it is not conscious? after all, that's how we judge consciousness
A simple program printing "Ouch!" to the screen whenever a key is pressed would pass your test, but it would be lying about the existence of pain.
Well no, no it wouldn't. All the behavioural characteristics of consciousness is not 'Ouch!' when a key is pressed; I'm thinking along the lines of an extended Turing Test, an in-depth examination. Of course, the criteria for establishing consciousness would need to be defined first. What must any system be able to do for us to judge it conscious?

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When you torture someone, what is it that's suffering?
They are; their body and mind.

Their body suffers physical damage, triggering a flood of neural signals to the brainstem, the evolutionarily ancient part, where the nucleus tractus solitarius & the parabrachial nucleus generate activity maps that are the felt body states. These areas have feed-forward and feeback links to many other parts of the brain, but the essence of the experience is generated there.

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Imagine that you can make a brain out of a few thousand atoms. ... <fantasy> ... Does that not strike you as being rather magical?
It would have to be magical, because you can't make a brain out of a few thousand atoms. You need around a million neurons to make a cockroach brain, and it's not clear whether they feel pain at all.

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If we make such a system and it claims to be able to feel qualia, we won't know whether to believe it or not, and it will be programmed in the same way as our minds, hiding all the fine working in complex networks which are practically impossible to untangle.
That's why we'd have to judge it the same way we judge consciousness in ourselves and others - by how it behaves, what it says and does.

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All we have done so far is find ways to stop and restore the reporting of the experience of sensations - we rely 100% on the individual being studied reporting to us whether they were conscious or not. That may allow us to rule out the possibility of the "I" being in certain places, so we may in time track it down to a small location or set of locations, but even then we'll have a hard time trying to find it within those.
Not quite sure what you're saying here; I was referring to the thousands of examples of faulty construction of the self, or sense of self, in various ways; the sort of peculiarities covered by V. S. Ramachandran in his research and books. Here's a link to some of his videos you may find interesting.

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I wasn't referring to the inputs from nerves interfacing with the brain, but to the inputs to the information system from the places where the experiences of pain and other qualia supposedly occur. For the information system to be informed that pain has been experienced, there needs to be an input to signal that, but the input signal cannot transmit actual knowledge of pain to the information system, so the information system has to map an assertion that there was pain to the input, an assertion which it cannot back up because it is nothing more than a mapping. The information system has no means to know anything about the pain - all it can know is that there is an input from something which relates to a warning of potential damage being done.
I explained that the brainstem nuclei generate the felt body states, the foundational feelings of pain or pleasure, etc., by mapping the afferent sensory flow from internal and external body senses. From these nuclei, the emotional and hormonal responses are mediated, via signals to the insular cortex and thalamic nuclei. The insular cortex refines and differentiates those basal feelings, relating them to contextual activity elsewhere in the brain. It also feeds forwards to higher cortical areas. This is all described in more detail in Damasio's 'Self Comes To Mind' (chapter 3 onwards).

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Offline David Cooper

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #34 on: 05/09/2013 17:51:23 »
Besides, and regardless of what the soul might be , i think that the soul "resides " in our whole beings , in every cell , atom or organ of ours , not just in the brain : the soul is "located " within and without in fact (Extended sense of reality or the extended consciousness via the "reading" of peoples ' minds,via some sort of telepathy ...)   ,and has no specific "location " ,due to its immaterial nature which escapes space -time= that's no contradiction in fact  .

That's lovely, but it still has to interact with the information system of the brain which does all the thinking mechanically. When you damage the structure of the brain, you can see the thinking go wrong. When you look at a species with inferior wiring, you see a reduction in thinking ability. If the "soul" is to think, it is tied to a mechanical system which does all the work for it and without which the soul can do nothing. This mechanical thinking system, the information system, constructs information about the soul and the feelings that are experienced by it, so it needs to be able to get that knowledge from the soul somehow. All matter and energy may be conscious, as may a fabric of space or something outside of space entirely, but you still have to propose a means by which this consciousness can interface with the information system of the brain which asserts that consciousness is real. How can the mechanical information system ever know? The way to try to find out is to try to follow back the claims generated by the information system to see how they are formed and what they're based on; to see on what basis they are labelled as true.

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Offline David Cooper

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #35 on: 05/09/2013 17:58:54 »
Emergent properties are well worth dismissing. Nothing ever emerges that isn't 100% rooted in the components, even if it's hard to recognise them until they emerge. When it comes to consciousness, you can't have something emerge out of a system to be sentient (which is what consciousness is really all about) without any of the components being sentient unless your explanation is based on magic.
Of course emergent properties are rooted in the components, that's the point; they are properties of the components interacting together that are not properties of the components individually. So water is wet, but a water molecule isn't; there's nothing about an individual water molecule that is wet. In Conway's Game of Life, there's nothing in the simple rules of a grid square's life & death that predicts a glider gun, that's an emergent phenomenon of multiple iterations of multiple grid squares. Tin and copper are soft metals, but mix them together and the alloy is harder than either; an emergent property of the interaction of copper and tin atoms, not predictable from examining a tin atom and a copper atom.

You're missing the point. Nothing emerges that can't be accounted for by the components (which include the fabric and geometry of space in which the components are able to act). Emergent properties such as "wet" are compound ideas which can themselves be broken down. There is nothing extra that pings into existence to be conscious when lots of things are stuck together in a complex arrangement. The point is that nothing can ping into existence out of complexity to do such things as suffer which cannot also be identified in the components. A plurality cannot suffer without at least one of the singularities within it suffering. A complex geometrical arrangement cannot be tortured without at least one of the components suffering. If none of the components suffer, the imagined emerged thing that supposedly suffers cannot exist.

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Offline David Cooper

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #36 on: 05/09/2013 18:24:49 »
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A simple program printing "Ouch!" to the screen whenever a key is pressed would pass your test, but it would be lying about the existence of pain.
Well no, no it wouldn't. All the behavioural characteristics of consciousness is not 'Ouch!' when a key is pressed; I'm thinking along the lines of an extended Turing Test, an in-depth examination. Of course, the criteria for establishing consciousness would need to be defined first. What must any system be able to do for us to judge it conscious?

Any more complex case where you add all manner of extra functionality to confuse the situation will still at root work in the same way. A signal comes in, an assertion that pain is experienced is mapped to that input, and then that assertion is made in some way, but it is nothing more than an assertion. There was no pain in the system. You could have a robot that behaves exactly like a human when you interact with it, but every claim it makes about feelings will be achieved by mapping assertions to imputs.

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When you torture someone, what is it that's suffering?
They are; their body and mind.

Their body suffers physical damage, triggering a flood of neural signals to the brainstem, the evolutionarily ancient part, where the nucleus tractus solitarius & the parabrachial nucleus generate activity maps that are the felt body states. These areas have feed-forward and feeback links to many other parts of the brain, but the essence of the experience is generated there.

With a robot that behaves like a human, you can break its arm off and it will not suffer. With the right anaesthetics, you can do the same with a human. The body does not suffer. The suffering, if there is any, takes place in the brain (or perhaps outside of this virtual universe entirely). Don't mix up the other meaning of "suffer" as in "the car suffered an accident" where it merely means it is the object of the hidden verb "damaged".

The suffering relevant to a discussion of consciousness is restricted to unpleasant qualia such as pain. If nothing exists that actually experiences such qualia, there can be no suffering. Something complex that experiences qualia without any of the components experiencing qualia will not do - that is a magical solution and not a scientific one.

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Imagine that you can make a brain out of a few thousand atoms. ... <fantasy> ... Does that not strike you as being rather magical?
It would have to be magical, because you can't make a brain out of a few thousand atoms. You need around a million neurons to make a cockroach brain, and it's not clear whether they feel pain at all.

You're missing the point. It's just a matter of number. If you make it quintillions instead of a thousand, it makes no difference to the thought experiment other than hiding the problem in greater complexity. The thought experiment can be done with any number down to two atoms. If you can have a system of two atoms in which pain is experienced but no pain is experienced by either atom, what the heck was it that experienced the pain?

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If we make such a system and it claims to be able to feel qualia, we won't know whether to believe it or not, and it will be programmed in the same way as our minds, hiding all the fine working in complex networks which are practically impossible to untangle.
That's why we'd have to judge it the same way we judge consciousness in ourselves and others - by how it behaves, what it says and does.

But we don't even know that we have consciousness ourselves. Our brains generate data that claim we have it, and then we believe those claims. But the claims are generated by an information system which is not competent to make such a judgement.

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All we have done so far is find ways to stop and restore the reporting of the experience of sensations - we rely 100% on the individual being studied reporting to us whether they were conscious or not. That may allow us to rule out the possibility of the "I" being in certain places, so we may in time track it down to a small location or set of locations, but even then we'll have a hard time trying to find it within those.
Not quite sure what you're saying here; I was referring to the thousands of examples of faulty construction of the self, or sense of self, in various ways; the sort of peculiarities covered by V. S. Ramachandran in his research and books. Here's a link to some of his videos you may find interesting.

My internet connection is too slow to view videos.

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I wasn't referring to the inputs from nerves interfacing with the brain, but to the inputs to the information system from the places where the experiences of pain and other qualia supposedly occur. For the information system to be informed that pain has been experienced, there needs to be an input to signal that, but the input signal cannot transmit actual knowledge of pain to the information system, so the information system has to map an assertion that there was pain to the input, an assertion which it cannot back up because it is nothing more than a mapping. The information system has no means to know anything about the pain - all it can know is that there is an input from something which relates to a warning of potential damage being done.
I explained that the brainstem nuclei generate the felt body states, the foundational feelings of pain or pleasure, etc., by mapping the afferent sensory flow from internal and external body senses. From these nuclei, the emotional and hormonal responses are mediated, via signals to the insular cortex and thalamic nuclei. The insular cortex refines and differentiates those basal feelings, relating them to contextual activity elsewhere in the brain. It also feeds forwards to higher cortical areas. This is all described in more detail in Damasio's 'Self Comes To Mind' (chapter 3 onwards).

You can describe all that in as much detail as you like, but it never gets to the point where feelings interface with the information system of the brain. The processor of a computer could be feeling all manner of sensations as it crunches through the code of an AGI system which matches the intelligence of a human (such programs will soon exist - my work is to build one), but there is no way for those feelings to be read by the program running in the machine. There is no "read qualia" machine code instruction, and even if there was one, it would be impossible to test the truth of any information supplied through it because they would be nothing more than assertions that there are feelings being experienced.
« Last Edit: 05/09/2013 18:29:05 by David Cooper »

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Offline DonQuichotte

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #37 on: 05/09/2013 18:43:58 »
Come on : if that was the case : how ,on earth , was it possible then that the early muslims "invented " and practiced science ,mainly thanks to that Qur'anic epistemology on the subject .?


"Thanks to" or "despite"?

The essence of science is that there is no supernatural or revealed authority: the very opposite of all religions.

I thought you could read well .Did you understand what i said here above at least ? That was so simple though .
You are asking me about an issue which was largely debatted in that other thread " What's the real origin of the scientific method ?" you even happened to participate in , ironically enough .
So, be serious and stop this uninformed non-sense of yours ,please , if you wanna be taken seriously at least

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Offline DonQuichotte

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #38 on: 05/09/2013 19:09:28 »
Besides, and regardless of what the soul might be , i think that the soul "resides " in our whole beings , in every cell , atom or organ of ours , not just in the brain : the soul is "located " within and without in fact (Extended sense of reality or the extended consciousness via the "reading" of peoples ' minds,via some sort of telepathy ...)   ,and has no specific "location " ,due to its immaterial nature which escapes space -time= that's no contradiction in fact  .

That's lovely, but it still has to interact with the information system of the brain which does all the thinking mechanically. When you damage the structure of the brain, you can see the thinking go wrong. When you look at a species with inferior wiring, you see a reduction in thinking ability. If the "soul" is to think, it is tied to a mechanical system which does all the work for it and without which the soul can do nothing. This mechanical thinking system, the information system, constructs information about the soul and the feelings that are experienced by it, so it needs to be able to get that knowledge from the soul somehow. All matter and energy may be conscious, as may a fabric of space or something outside of space entirely, but you still have to propose a means by which this consciousness can interface with the information system of the brain which asserts that consciousness is real. How can the mechanical information system ever know? The way to try to find out is to try to follow back the claims generated by the information system to see how they are formed and what they're based on; to see on what basis they are labelled as true.

(I am well aware of some  silly childish games you have been playing here = irrelevent though =Grow up )

A mechanical thinking system ? Come on,be serious  .Is the thought process mechanical ?If it is  mechanical, how would you explain human creativity, innovations, imagination,progress   ...?
You seem to confuse the correlations or interactions between the 2 different "systems " : brain and mind ,with causation : i think that mind (mind is not just semantics, not just a word we invented ) and brain are 2 totally different "things" which do work together as one = a combination of dualism and monism then .
The brain  does not cause the mind  ; they just correlate or interacte with each other : how ? Beat me : i dunno .
The mind is the one which is doing the most important work : thinking , feeling , experiencing , seeing ....= even seeing is not done by the brain, it's in fact done by the mind .
How can a  biological or mechanical system for that matter ever be able to think ,feel , experience or even see  things ....the developers of the so-called artificial intelligence have been having a hard time to make "sentient " machines that can at least "see " ...They will never be able to make those machines think, feel, experience or see things ...the way we do at least = machines can only simulate that .to some degree at least = they can never be conscious, ever .
I think that our biological neurological system is just a tool to report sensory "inputs " ( I do reject this materialistic mechanical reductionistic computer analogy )or  stimuli to our mind which acts upon that by sending ,somehow, feedbacks to the biological system to make it take action ...I dunno .

Don't you realise the fact that  your childish materialistic interpretations of scientific studies are just that = materialistic  childish  interpretations ?

When i was a child , i also used to 'think " that verything was  made of matter (not to mention that quantum physics have proven the fact that "matter is not really made of solid matter :) , i am way beyond that childish stage you are still stuck in .

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Offline dlorde

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #39 on: 05/09/2013 21:51:41 »
But we don't even know that we have consciousness ourselves. Our brains generate data that claim we have it, and then we believe those claims. But the claims are generated by an information system which is not competent to make such a judgement.
I think here we have the point where we differ, and it looks purely semantic. I'm simply saying that the sensation we have, that feeling, of awareness and self, is what we call consciousness. Whatever it's provenance, whether based on valid or invalid data (and I don't think it is at all what it subjectively feels like, so I agree it doesn't exist as what it feels like), whether you call it an illusion or a fabrication, that feeling or sensation is consciousness. Like many human concepts, it has an emergent quality itself, a kind of uncertainty principle, so that the closer you look at it, the more you try to define it, the vaguer it gets - because it's just a feeling associated with a set of brain states.

I've encountered much the same problem with free will. At a macro scale, events are pretty much causal and deterministic (although often unpredictable), so a dualistic definition or explanation is untenable. To me, free will is the feeling that we have a choice, that we could have done something different. It's a real sensation, but it's not what it seems to be (what you do is causal, you can't 'go back' and do it differently; that unique set of circumstances can only happen once). But we are each unique in our genetics, development, and experiences, so, if unconstrained and uncoerced, our actions, though deterministic, are uniquely the product of our individuality - it seems to me that's as 'free' as it gets, and 'will' is just a subjective sense of personal agency. The common usage is just a social convenience, to cover our ignorance of the detailed causality of our actions and provide a hook for the similarly vague concept of moral responsibility. But I guess that's a whole other story, off topic.

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Offline alancalverd

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #40 on: 05/09/2013 23:07:01 »

You are asking me about an issue which was largely debatted in that other thread " What's the real origin of the scientific method ?" you even happened to participate in , ironically enough .
So, be serious and stop this uninformed non-sense of yours ,please , if you wanna be taken seriously at least

For as long as you argue by assertion, refer to supernatural authority, or refuse to define the subject you want to discuss, that won't happen. At least not in a science forum.
helping to stem the tide of ignorance

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Offline David Cooper

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #41 on: 06/09/2013 19:05:00 »
(I am well aware of some  silly childish games you have been playing here = irrelevent though =Grow up )

What games? Where is any of it irrelevant? What has growing up got to do with the price of fish?

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A mechanical thinking system ? Come on,be serious  .Is the thought process mechanical ?If it is  mechanical, how would you explain human creativity, innovations, imagination,progress   ...?

Have you heard of the invention of the computer? Have you seen what a calculator can do for arithmetic and mathematics? The damn thing can outthink us in many calculations. What do you suppose happens when you take the same idea of mechanical computation and extend it into linguistics and general thought? We will have machines some day that can outthink us in any discussion on any subject, and all the thinking they do will be cause-and-effect mechanical. The alternative to a mechanical thinking machine would be a magical one. You clearly believe that the brain is a magical computer which therefore doesn't depend on mechanisms, but whenever the brain makes mistakes it displays the mechanical nature of the functionality within.

Creativity and innovations - problem solving. A machine needs to identify a problem and then calculate potential solutions. It took half a billion years for our brains to evolve to the point where they could do innovative and creative things, but we will program machines to match our abilities within a mere hundred years of the building of the first computers. Some creativity is guided by feelings, so when it comes to the arts it will be hard for machines to create things that satisfy us until we can find out what the algorithms of human aesthetics are. Some of these are known - we know that the golden ratio makes things better looking, so machines can already create arrangements of things that look more pleasing than random arrangements on that basis.

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You seem to confuse the correlations or interactions between the 2 different "systems " : brain and mind ,with causation : i think that mind (mind is not just semantics, not just a word we invented ) and brain are 2 totally different "things" which do work together as one = a combination of dualism and monism then .
The brain  does not cause the mind  ; they just correlate or interacte with each other : how ? Beat me : i dunno .

Here you are trying to tell me about the workings of a system which you don't understand. I at least come to this with an understanding of the mechanisms of computation, but all you have to offer is "dont know"/magic. Who is the one playing a childish game here?

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The mind is the one which is doing the most important work : thinking , feeling , experiencing , seeing ....= even seeing is not done by the brain, it's in fact done by the mind .

Is that a fact! Wow - you're good!

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How can a  biological or mechanical system for that matter ever be able to think ,feel , experience or even see  things ....the developers of the so-called artificial intelligence have been having a hard time to make "sentient " machines that can at least "see " ...They will never be able to make those machines think, feel, experience or see things ...the way we do at least = machines can only simulate that .to some degree at least = they can never be conscious, ever .

I am one of the developers of artificial intelligence and my aim is not to make machines sentient. It appears to be impossible to make machines sentient, and it also appears to be impossible for us to be sentient because we are machines. It will be possible to make machines think though, and they already do. Thinking is just mechanical calculation. Machines can see too, and cameras are able to take photographs automatically whenever the subject smiles. That is machine vision.

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I think that our biological neurological system is just a tool to report sensory "inputs " ( I do reject this materialistic mechanical reductionistic computer analogy )or  stimuli to our mind which acts upon that by sending ,somehow, feedbacks to the biological system to make it take action ...I dunno .

You can reject it all you like, but you're not qualified to make such a judgement (and when I say qualified, I'm not talking about certificates, but knowledge of the subject). You aren't interested in doing the work to learn about how computation works because you already have an answer that satisfies you, and that is belief in magic.

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Don't you realise the fact that  your childish materialistic interpretations of scientific studies are just that = materialistic  childish  interpretations ?

Belief in magic is childish. Science is about the elimination of magic in order to understand how things really work.

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When i was a child , i also used to 'think " that verything was  made of matter (not to mention that quantum physics have proven the fact that "matter is not really made of solid matter :) , i am way beyond that childish stage you are still stuck in .

That is hilarious. I'm going to print that out and put it up on the wall.

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Offline DonQuichotte

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #42 on: 06/09/2013 19:07:32 »
Strong Refutation of materialism in science ,materialism as a dogmatic conservative belief or "religion" , especially concerning that materialistic dogmatic magical approach of consciousness , the latter as a so-called emergent property from the complexity of the evolved brain : Enjoy,folks :

Just try to read the following strong refutation of materialism in science which gets confused with science by many people  ,  especially concerning the materialistic dogmatic magical approach of consciousness, the latter  as a so-called emergent property from the complexity of the evolved brain  ....written by a physicist :

http://www.superconsciousness.com/topics/science/why-consciousness-not-brain
   
Why Consciousness is Not the Brain
 FALL 2010


 
The Science of Premonitions
Author: Larry Dossey

Excerpted from The Science of Premonition: How Knowing the Future Can Help Us Avoid Danger, Maximize Opportunities and Create a Better Life by Larry Dossey. Copyright 2009 by Larry Dossey. Reprinted by permission of the author.

Physicist Freeman Dyson believes the cosmos is suffused with consciousness, from the grandest level to the most minute dimensions. If it is, why aren’t we aware of it?
For more articles about "Science", Click Here

“We don’t know who first discovered water, but we can be sure that it wasn’t a fish,” the old saw reminds us. Continual exposure to something reduces our awareness of its presence. Over time, we become blind to the obvious. We swim in a sea of consciousness, like a fish swims in water. And like a fish that has become oblivious to his aqueous environment, we have become dulled to the ubiquity of consciousness.

Why Consciousness is Not the Brain - The Science of Premonitions - Larry Dossey

In science, we have largely ignored how consciousness manifests in our existence. We’ve done this by assuming that the brain produces consciousness, although how it might do so has never been explained and can hardly be imagined. The polite term for this trick is “emergence.” At a certain stage of biological complexity, evolutionary biologists claim, consciousness pops out of the brain like a rabbit from a magician’s hat. Yet this claim rests on no direct evidence whatsoever. As Rutgers University philosopher Jerry A. Fodo flatly states, “Nobody has the slightest idea how anything material could be conscious. So much for our philosophy of consciousness.”

In spite of the complete absence of evidence, the belief that the brain produces consciousness endures and has ossified into dogma. Many scientists realize the limitations of this belief. One way of getting around the lack of evidence is simply to declare that what we call consciousness is the brain itself. That way, nothing is produced, and the magic of “emergence” is avoided. As astronomer Carl Sagan expressed his position, “My fundamental premise about the brain is that its workings – what we sometimes call mind – are a consequence of anatomy and physiology, and nothing more.” Nobelist Francis Crick agreed, saying “[A] person’s mental activities are entirely due to the behavior of nerve cells, glial cells, and the atoms, ions, and molecules that make up and influence them.”

This “identity theory” – mind equals brain – has led legions of scientists and philosophers to regard consciousness as an unnecessary, superfluous concept. Some go out of their way to deny the existence of consciousness altogether, almost as if they bear a grudge against it. Tufts University cognitive scientist Daniel Dennett says, “We’re all zombies. Nobody is conscious.” Dennett includes himself in this extraordinary claim, and he seems proud of it.

Consciousness can operate beyond the brain, body, and the present, as hundreds of experiments and millions of testimonials affirm. Consciousness cannot, therefore, be identical with the brain.

Others suggest that there are no mental states at all, such as love, courage, or patriotism, but only electrochemical brain fluxes that should not be described with such inflated language. They dismiss thoughts and beliefs for the same reasons. This led Nobel neurophysiologist Sir John Eccles to remark that “professional philosophers and psychologists think up the notion that there are no thoughts, come to believe that there are no beliefs, and feel strongly that there are no feelings.” Eccles was emphasizing the absurdities that have crept into the debates about consciousness. They are not hard to spot. Some of the oddest experiences I recall are attending conferences where one speaker after another employs his consciousness to denounce the existence of consciousness, ignoring the fact that he consciously chose to register for the meeting, make travel plans, prepare his talks, and so on.

Many scientists concede that there are huge gaps in their knowledge of how the brain makes consciousness, but they are certain they will be filled in as science progresses. Eccles and philosopher of science Karl Popper branded this attitude “promissory materialism.” “[P]romissary materialism [is] a superstition without a rational foundation,” Eccles says. “[It] is simply a religious belief held by dogmatic materialists . . .who confuse their religion with their science. It has all the features of a messianic prophecy.”

The arguments about the origins and nature of consciousness are central to premonitions. For if the promissory materialists are correct – if consciousness is indeed identical with the brain – the curtain closes on premonitions. The reason is that the brain is a local phenomenon – i.e., it is localized to the brain and body, and to the present. This prohibits premonitions in principle, because accordingly the brain cannot operate outside the body and the here-and-now. But consciousness can operate beyond the brain, body, and the present, as hundreds of experiments and millions of testimonials affirm. Consciousness cannot, therefore, be identical with the brain.

In science, we have largely ignored how consciousness manifests in our existence. We’ve done this by assuming that the brain produces consciousness, although how it might do so has never been explained and can hardly be imagined.

These assertions are not hyperbolic, but conservative. They are consistent with the entire span of human history, throughout which all cultures of which we have record believed that human perception extends beyond the reach of the senses. This belief might be dismissed as superstition but for the fact that modern research has established its validity beyond reasonable doubt to anyone whose reasoning has not clotted into hardened skepticism. To reiterate a single example – the evidence supporting foreknowledge – psi researchers Charles Honorton and Diane Ferrari examined 309 precognition experiments carried out by sixty-two investigators involving 50,000 participants in more than two million trials. Thirty percent of these studies were significant in showing that people can describe future events, when only five percent would be expected to demonstrate such results by chance. The odds that these results were not due to chance was greater than 10 to the twentieth power to one.

One of the first modern thinkers to endorse an outside-the-brain view of consciousness was William James, who is considered the father of American psychology. In his 1898 Ingersoll Lecture at Harvard University, James took a courageous stand against what he called “the fangs of cerebralism and the idea that consciousness is produced by the brain. He acknowledged that arrested brain development in childhood can lead to mental retardation, that strokes or blows to the head can abolish memory or consciousness, and that certain chemicals can change the quality of thought. But to consider this as proof that the brain actually makes consciousness, James said, is irrational.

Why Consciousness is Not the Brain - The Science of Premonitions - Larry Dossey

Why irrational? Consider a radio, an invention that was introduced during James’s lifetime, and which he used to illustrate the mind-brain relationship. If one bangs a radio with a hammer, it ceases to function. But that does not mean that the origin of the sounds was the radio itself; the sound originated from outside it in the form of an electromagnetic signal. The radio received, modified, and amplified the external signal into something recognizable as sound. Just so, the brain can be damaged in various ways that distort the quality of consciousness – trauma, stroke, nutritional deficiencies, dementia, etc. But this does not necessarily mean the brain “made” the consciousness that is now disturbed, or that consciousness is identical to the brain.

British philosopher Chris Carter endorses this analogy. Equating mind and brain is irrational, he says as listening to music on a radio, smashing the radio’s receiver, and thereby concluding that the radio was producing the music.

To update the analogy, consider a television set. We can damage a television set so severely that we lose the image on the screen, but this doesn’t prove that the TV actually produced the image. We know that David Letterman does not live behind the TV screen on which he appears; yet the contention that brain equals consciousness is as absurd as if he did.

My conclusion is that consciousness is not a thing or substance, but is a nonlocal phenomenon. Nonlocal is merely a fancy word for infinite. If something is nonlocal, it is not localized to specific points in space, such as brains or bodies, or to specific points in time, such as the present.

The radio and TV analogies can be misleading, however, because consciousness does not behave like an electromagnetic signal. Electromagnetic (EM) signals display certain characteristics. The farther away they get from their source, the weaker they become. Not so with consciousness; its effects do not attenuate with increasing distance. For example, in the hundreds of healing experiments that have been done in both humans and animals, healing intentions work equally well from the other side of the earth as at the bedside of the sick individual. Moreover, EM signals can be blocked partially or completely, but the effects of conscious intention cannot be blocked by any known substance. For instance, sea water is known to block EM signals completely at certain depths, yet experiments in remote viewing have been successfully carried out beyond such depths, demonstrating that the long-distance communication between the involved individuals cannot depend on EM-type signals. In addition, EM signals require travel time from their source to a receiver, yet thoughts can be perceived simultaneously between individuals across global distances. Thoughts can be displaced in time, operating into both past and future. In precognitive remoteviewing experiments – for example, the hundreds of such experiments by the PEAR Lab at Princeton University – the receiver gets a future thought before it is ever sent. Furthermore, consciousness can operate into the past, as in the experiments involving retroactive intentions. Electromagnetic signals are not capable of these feats. From these differences, we can conclude that consciousness is not an electric signal.

Then what is it? My conclusion is that consciousness is not a thing or substance, but is a nonlocal phenomenon. Nonlocal is merely a fancy word for infinite. If something is nonlocal, it is not localized to specific points in space, such as brains or bodies, or to specific points in time, such as the present. Nonlocal events are immediate; they require no travel time. They are unmediated; they require no energetic signal to “carry” them. They are unmitigated; they do not become weaker with increasing distance. Nonlocal phenomena are omnipresent, everywhere at once. This means there is no necessity for them to go anywhere; they are already there. They are infinite in time as well, present at all moments, past present and future, meaning they are eternal.

Researcher Dean Radin, whose presentiment experiments provide profound evidence for future knowing, believes that the nonlocal events in the subatomic, quantum domain underlie the nonlocal events we experience at the human level. He invokes the concept of entanglement as a bridging hypothesis uniting the small- and large-scale happenings. Quantum entanglement and quantum nonlocality are indeed potent possibilities that may eventually explain our nonlocal experiences, but only further research will tell. Meanwhile, there is a gathering tide of opinion favoring these approaches. As physicist Chris Clarke, of the University of Southampton, says, “On one hand, Mind is inherently non-local. On the other, the world is governed by a quantum physics that is inherently non-local. This is no accident, but a precise correspondence ...[Mind and the world are] aspects of the same thing...The way ahead, I believe, has to place mind first as the key aspect of the universe...We have to start exploring how we can talk about mind in terms of a quantum picture...Only then will we be able to make a genuine bridge between physics and physiology.”

When scientists muster the courage to face this evidence unflinchingly, the greatest superstition of our age – the notion that the brain generates consciousness or is identical with it – will topple. In its place will arise a nonlocal picture of the mind.

Whatever their explanation proves to be, the experiments documenting premonitions are real. They must be reckoned with. And when scientists muster the courage to face this evidence unflinchingly, the greatest superstition of our age – the notion that the brain generates consciousness or is identical with it – will topple. In its place will arise a nonlocal picture of the mind. This view will affirm that consciousness is fundamental, omnipresent and eternal – a model that is as cordial to premonitions as the materialistic, brain-based view is hostile.


 

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Offline DonQuichotte

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #43 on: 06/09/2013 19:18:46 »
(I am well aware of some  silly childish games you have been playing here = irrelevent though =Grow up )

What games? Where is any of it irrelevant? What has growing up got to do with the price of fish?

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A mechanical thinking system ? Come on,be serious  .Is the thought process mechanical ?If it is  mechanical, how would you explain human creativity, innovations, imagination,progress   ...?

Have you heard of the invention of the computer? Have you seen what a calculator can do for arithmetic and mathematics? The damn thing can outthink us in many calculations. What do you suppose happens when you take the same idea of mechanical computation and extend it into linguistics and general thought? We will have machines some day that can outthink us in any discussion on any subject, and all the thinking they do will be cause-and-effect mechanical. The alternative to a mechanical thinking machine would be a magical one. You clearly believe that the brain is a magical computer which therefore doesn't depend on mechanisms, but whenever the brain makes mistakes it displays the mechanical nature of the functionality within.

Creativity and innovations - problem solving. A machine needs to identify a problem and then calculate potential solutions. It took half a billion years for our brains to evolve to the point where they could do innovative and creative things, but we will program machines to match our abilities within a mere hundred years of the building of the first computers. Some creativity is guided by feelings, so when it comes to the arts it will be hard for machines to create things that satisfy us until we can find out what the algorithms of human aesthetics are. Some of these are known - we know that the golden ratio makes things better looking, so machines can already create arrangements of things that look more pleasing than random arrangements on that basis.

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You seem to confuse the correlations or interactions between the 2 different "systems " : brain and mind ,with causation : i think that mind (mind is not just semantics, not just a word we invented ) and brain are 2 totally different "things" which do work together as one = a combination of dualism and monism then .
The brain  does not cause the mind  ; they just correlate or interacte with each other : how ? Beat me : i dunno .

Here you are trying to tell me about the workings of a system which you don't understand. I at least come to this with an understanding of the mechanisms of computation, but all you have to offer is "dont know"/magic. Who is the one playing a childish game here?

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The mind is the one which is doing the most important work : thinking , feeling , experiencing , seeing ....= even seeing is not done by the brain, it's in fact done by the mind .

Is that a fact! Wow - you're good!

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How can a  biological or mechanical system for that matter ever be able to think ,feel , experience or even see  things ....the developers of the so-called artificial intelligence have been having a hard time to make "sentient " machines that can at least "see " ...They will never be able to make those machines think, feel, experience or see things ...the way we do at least = machines can only simulate that .to some degree at least = they can never be conscious, ever .

I am one of the developers of artificial intelligence and my aim is not to make machines sentient. It appears to be impossible to make machines sentient, and it also appears to be impossible for us to be sentient because we are machines. It will be possible to make machines think though, and they already do. Thinking is just mechanical calculation. Machines can see too, and cameras are able to take photographs automatically whenever the subject smiles. That is machine vision.

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I think that our biological neurological system is just a tool to report sensory "inputs " ( I do reject this materialistic mechanical reductionistic computer analogy )or  stimuli to our mind which acts upon that by sending ,somehow, feedbacks to the biological system to make it take action ...I dunno .

You can reject it all you like, but you're not qualified to make such a judgement (and when I say qualified, I'm not talking about certificates, but knowledge of the subject). You aren't interested in doing the work to learn about how computation works because you already have an answer that satisfies you, and that is belief in magic.

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Don't you realise the fact that  your childish materialistic interpretations of scientific studies are just that = materialistic  childish  interpretations ?

Belief in magic is childish. Science is about the elimination of magic in order to understand how things really work.

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When i was a child , i also used to 'think " that verything was  made of matter (not to mention that quantum physics have proven the fact that "matter is not really made of solid matter :) , i am way beyond that childish stage you are still stuck in .

That is hilarious. I'm going to print that out and put it up on the wall.


Haha : you do seem to have a sense of humor though, after all  : good , because i thought you would react angrily at my latest words here above : i am delighted by the fact that i failed to predict your behavior : nice .
Ok, Mr. Einstein :

Just try to refute the above refutation of materialism in science , especially concerning that magical dogmatic materialistic approach of consciousness, here above , written by a physicist :

I would love to see you trying to refute that refutation : impress me .Make my day .
Thanks , appreciate .

P.S.: As i said earlier ,in another thread  , to dlorde : you , mr . David Cooper, is the true materialist here ,together with Dawkins and co club  ,dlorde and many other less true materialists do have a certain materialistic  vision ,combined  with  a sort of romantic magical materialism as well .

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Offline David Cooper

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #44 on: 06/09/2013 19:34:21 »
I think here we have the point where we differ, and it looks purely semantic. I'm simply saying that the sensation we have, that feeling, of awareness and self, is what we call consciousness.

If there really are feelings, that would indeed be consciousness. Mechanical awareness (as in a security light with a sensor which detects when it's dark and switches it on) is different from conscious awareness where there is a feeling of existing; a feeling of being aware. Consciousness is all about feelings.

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Whatever it's provenance, whether based on valid or invalid data (and I don't think it is at all what it subjectively feels like, so I agree it doesn't exist as what it feels like), whether you call it an illusion or a fabrication, that feeling or sensation is consciousness.

Well, no. If it's an illusion and the feelings aren't real, then there is no consciousness. A novel asserts the existence of characters who live out adventures and experience feelings, but all of it is fiction - there were no feelings. A machine (whether silicon or biological) which generated fictions of feelings is not creating feeling - there is no consciousness, but merely a machine generating accounts of consciousness that aren't true.

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Like many human concepts, it has an emergent quality itself, a kind of uncertainty principle, so that the closer you look at it, the more you try to define it, the vaguer it gets - because it's just a feeling associated with a set of brain states.

If the feelings are to be real, they have to be experienced by something, and that isn't something that can emerge out of complexity. If we can't point to something of substance (which isn't to restrict it to matter or energy, both of which may just be twists of a fabric of space) and say that it experiences the feelings, we're left with nothing experiencing the feelings, and if nothing experiences them, they can't be felt and can't be feelings.

On the free will point, there isn't such a thing, but there could indeed be a feeling of there being such a thing. That can be stuck in the pot with all the other qualia, but the big question is how to get an information system to access qualia and know anything of them. If it can't, any information it has about them is made up, unless there is some kind of intelligent sentience system which is capable of doing all the work of an information system and can directly manipulate the data in the information system to ensure that the claims about sentience contained in it are true, but an intelligent sentience system would then need to be an information system itself and would need to speak the same language as the other information system in order to know how to manipulate its data, so it doesn't take us any further on: the interface problem is merely transferred into the intelligent sentience system where the sentience side of things has to be converted into data by the information system side of things. There will always be a division between these two things because sentience and data belong to different systems - data requires representation and calculation apparatus, while sentience requires direct feeling without any representation. To translate direct experience of feelings into data about feelings appears to be impossible because the translation has to be done by the information system and the information system can't access the sensations.

That is the sticking point with consciousness. If there is a solution to this that makes consciousness as possible as it feels to us, it's going to take a radical change in approach to the way we look at computation, but so far the only alternative approach that has been suggested by anyone is the childish one of magic, though of course it may be that science is indeed just a pile of pants and that magic really is king.

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Offline dlorde

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #45 on: 06/09/2013 21:28:08 »
Well, no. If it's an illusion and the feelings aren't real, then there is no consciousness. A novel asserts the existence of characters who live out adventures and experience feelings, but all of it is fiction - there were no feelings. A machine (whether silicon or biological) which generated fictions of feelings is not creating feeling - there is no consciousness, but merely a machine generating accounts of consciousness that aren't true.
So what is your position on feelings and consciousness?

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Offline DonQuichotte

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #46 on: 06/09/2013 21:35:37 »
I think here we have the point where we differ, and it looks purely semantic. I'm simply saying that the sensation we have, that feeling, of awareness and self, is what we call consciousness.

If there really are feelings, that would indeed be consciousness. Mechanical awareness (as in a security light with a sensor which detects when it's dark and switches it on) is different from conscious awareness where there is a feeling of existing; a feeling of being aware. Consciousness is all about feelings.

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Whatever it's provenance, whether based on valid or invalid data (and I don't think it is at all what it subjectively feels like, so I agree it doesn't exist as what it feels like), whether you call it an illusion or a fabrication, that feeling or sensation is consciousness.

Well, no. If it's an illusion and the feelings aren't real, then there is no consciousness. A novel asserts the existence of characters who live out adventures and experience feelings, but all of it is fiction - there were no feelings. A machine (whether silicon or biological) which generated fictions of feelings is not creating feeling - there is no consciousness, but merely a machine generating accounts of consciousness that aren't true.

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Like many human concepts, it has an emergent quality itself, a kind of uncertainty principle, so that the closer you look at it, the more you try to define it, the vaguer it gets - because it's just a feeling associated with a set of brain states.

If the feelings are to be real, they have to be experienced by something, and that isn't something that can emerge out of complexity. If we can't point to something of substance (which isn't to restrict it to matter or energy, both of which may just be twists of a fabric of space) and say that it experiences the feelings, we're left with nothing experiencing the feelings, and if nothing experiences them, they can't be felt and can't be feelings.

On the free will point, there isn't such a thing, but there could indeed be a feeling of there being such a thing. That can be stuck in the pot with all the other qualia, but the big question is how to get an information system to access qualia and know anything of them. If it can't, any information it has about them is made up, unless there is some kind of intelligent sentience system which is capable of doing all the work of an information system and can directly manipulate the data in the information system to ensure that the claims about sentience contained in it are true, but an intelligent sentience system would then need to be an information system itself and would need to speak the same language as the other information system in order to know how to manipulate its data, so it doesn't take us any further on: the interface problem is merely transferred into the intelligent sentience system where the sentience side of things has to be converted into data by the information system side of things. There will always be a division between these two things because sentience and data belong to different systems - data requires representation and calculation apparatus, while sentience requires direct feeling without any representation. To translate direct experience of feelings into data about feelings appears to be impossible because the translation has to be done by the information system and the information system can't access the sensations.

That is the sticking point with consciousness. If there is a solution to this that makes consciousness as possible as it feels to us, it's going to take a radical change in approach to the way we look at computation, but so far the only alternative approach that has been suggested by anyone is the childish one of magic, though of course it may be that science is indeed just a pile of pants and that magic really is king.

Right : you know : i read your replies with great interest , i mean it , simply because you are the only true materialist here , in the right materialistic sense at least .
A true materialist in the above mentioned sense without that other magical romantic thinking of some so-called materialists such as our   dlorde   here  .

If you happen to be right about the "fact " that we are just machines which seem to need those sophisticated evolutionary so-called built-in in our systems illusions such as consciousness, feelings , emotions ....in order to survive, then you or others for that matter can be able some day to create  conscious  artificial intelligent machines exactly like us ,and maybe even some conscious intelligent machines that would even surpass us = the next level of evolution as some scientists like to call it .

But i , to be honest , no offense , do not only doubt such a "possibility probability " , but i do also think it is a childish one, sorry .
But then again, who knows .
Take care
All the best
Kind regards



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Offline David Cooper

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #47 on: 06/09/2013 21:42:53 »
Just try to refute the above refutation of materialism in science , especially concerning that magical dogmatic materialistic approach of consciousness, here above , written by a physicist :

I would love to see you trying to refute that refutation : impress me .Make my day .

I have nothing to offer that can impress you as I don't have a solution to the problem of consciousness. I agree with his main objection, but he offers no solution other than to move the problem elsewhere and pretend that that fixes it.

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But consciousness can operate beyond the brain, body, and the present, as hundreds of experiments and millions of testimonials affirm. Consciousness cannot, therefore, be identical with the brain.

I don't see the evidence of it operating beyond the brain, but at the same time I see no reason why it shouldn't. This universe could be virtual and our consciousness could lie outside it, but this doesn't address the fundamental problem - it merely moves it elsewhere (the calculations will still need to be done somewhere, and for the claims about feelings to be true they will need to be generated by a calculating information system which has some way of accessing the experiencing of sensations - how it does that is something that still needs to be explained). Cutting up brains and looking for mechanisms in them may never reveal anything because the real mechanisms could be hidden and the apparent mechanisms of the brain may not be used when the brain is actually "running".

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To reiterate a single example – the evidence supporting foreknowledge – psi researchers Charles Honorton and Diane Ferrari examined 309 precognition experiments carried out by sixty-two investigators involving 50,000 participants in more than two million trials. Thirty percent of these studies were significant in showing that people can describe future events, when only five percent would be expected to demonstrate such results by chance. The odds that these results were not due to chance was greater than 10 to the twentieth power to one.

I very much doubt that that is serious research, though I'm basing my initial judgement on the fact that I haven't heard of it before. It ought to be big news if it's true, so is it being suppressed or is it just being ignored because it's a pile of pants? Where can I read more about it? Has it been published in a serious science journal?

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As Rutgers University philosopher Jerry A. Fodo flatly states, “Nobody has the slightest idea how anything material could be conscious. So much for our philosophy of consciousness.”

That doesn't really matter. It could easily be the case that everything is conscious and experiences qualia all the time. The real problem is how anything can then express the thought that it is conscious and not merely get stuck at the point of feeling conscious.

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This “identity theory” – mind equals brain – has led legions of scientists and philosophers to regard consciousness as an unnecessary, superfluous concept. Some go out of their way to deny the existence of consciousness altogether, almost as if they bear a grudge against it. Tufts University cognitive scientist Daniel Dennett says, “We’re all zombies. Nobody is conscious.” Dennett includes himself in this extraordinary claim, and he seems proud of it.

It is a superfluous concept in some ways, but we are set up in such a way as to believe the claims our brains generate about feelings and we can even imagine that we feel them directly. If the feelings aren't real, then we are deluded zombies, but we're pretty determined not to believe that's the case, as any well-deluded zombie should be. This nihilism would be a good solution to the whole problem if it wasn't for the fact that the illusion feels too damned good. How can the "I" in the machine be fooled into thinking it exists and into feeling sensations if there is no "I" in the machine to fool? If it was easy to dismiss the whole idea of the "I", we would just junk it and accept that we don't exist; that there are merely machines in existence which generate superfluous fictions about "I"s and the imaginary feelings they supposedly experience.

I certainly don't wake up every day to think, "Oh yes - I don't exist and all these feelings are fake." They feel too real. But if they are to be real, there has to be an explanation as to how they work, and maybe the only possible explanation for them is magic. Most of the things that used to be regarded as magic have been shown not to be magic at all, but as mechanistic. We're assuming that this will go on being the case with everything that has yet to be understood, though that may be a mistake. Then again, it also seems reasonable to suppose that even magic ought to run on some kind of mechanism, so it feels like a very poor explanation of anything just to stop at the point where you declare it to be magic and give up on looking for a mechanism.

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Some of the oddest experiences I recall are attending conferences where one speaker after another employs his consciousness to denounce the existence of consciousness, ignoring the fact that he consciously chose to register for the meeting, make travel plans, prepare his talks, and so on.

That just shows poor judgement on the part of this physicist, because they wouldn't be employing their consciousness to denounce anything - they'd simply be mechanically denouncing it using machinery which generates fictions about feelings as it grinds through all the necessary computations.

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Many scientists concede that there are huge gaps in their knowledge of how the brain makes consciousness, but they are certain they will be filled in as science progresses. Eccles and philosopher of science Karl Popper branded this attitude “promissory materialism.” “[P]romissary materialism [is] a superstition without a rational foundation,” Eccles says. “[It] is simply a religious belief held by dogmatic materialists . . .who confuse their religion with their science. It has all the features of a messianic prophecy.”

I can see no way in which it can be filled in, but I still leave the door open to a way being found - it may be that there's another possible way of looking at computation waiting to be discovered which will open the door to some kind of sentience-based processing taking place in some weird quantum soup outside of the universe, though having looked into things quantum I can't find anything there that goes against normal reason (most of the odd things are really just badly described), and reason continues to appear to bar the way to dealing with the key difficulty of turning direct experience of feelings into data about feelings.

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Thoughts can be displaced in time, operating into both past and future. In precognitive remoteviewing experiments – for example, the hundreds of such experiments by the PEAR Lab at Princeton University – the receiver gets a future thought before it is ever sent.

Sounds like more fake science.

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Furthermore, consciousness can operate into the past, as in the experiments involving retroactive intentions.

And some more. Where can I read more about these experiments?

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The way ahead, I believe, has to place mind first as the key aspect of the universe...We have to start exploring how we can talk about mind in terms of a quantum picture...Only then will we be able to make a genuine bridge between physics and physiology.”

You can make it as quantum as you like, but you still need to account for the translation of experience of sensation to data about sensation. I keep coming back to that because it is THE problem with consciousness. "That hurt" is data. When we think about whether something hurt, we are processing data. When something actually hurts (if such a thing is even possible), it isn't happening in data - something is directly experiencing pain. To communicate the idea that pain was felt, even just to think about the idea that pain was felt, we have to move from experience of sensation to processing of information, and that's where we hit the crucial disconnect.

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When scientists muster the courage to face this evidence unflinchingly, the greatest superstition of our age – the notion that the brain generates consciousness or is identical with it – will topple. In its place will arise a nonlocal picture of the mind.

It will be a nonlocal picture in which the fundamental problem is not addressed either. The physicist is not proposing a solution to the problem, but a way of fiddling around moving it somewhere else rather than addressing the central problem.

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Offline DonQuichotte

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #48 on: 06/09/2013 21:43:50 »
Well, no. If it's an illusion and the feelings aren't real, then there is no consciousness. A novel asserts the existence of characters who live out adventures and experience feelings, but all of it is fiction - there were no feelings. A machine (whether silicon or biological) which generated fictions of feelings is not creating feeling - there is no consciousness, but merely a machine generating accounts of consciousness that aren't true.
So what is your position on feelings and consciousness?

He explained that : evolutionary sophisticated built-in in our mechanical systems useful pragmatic illusions we take for real = that's the right materialistic approach interpretation explanation at the same time , in the right materialistic sense ,without magical romantic thinking then ,if i am not mistaken at least , but i think i am not .
You should try to join his club , if you wanna be consistent with yourself ,as a so-called materialist , at least .
Good luck indeed
Kind regards

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Offline David Cooper

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Re: What, on Earth, is The Human Consciousness?
« Reply #49 on: 06/09/2013 21:49:10 »
Well, no. If it's an illusion and the feelings aren't real, then there is no consciousness. A novel asserts the existence of characters who live out adventures and experience feelings, but all of it is fiction - there were no feelings. A machine (whether silicon or biological) which generated fictions of feelings is not creating feeling - there is no consciousness, but merely a machine generating accounts of consciousness that aren't true.
So what is your position on feelings and consciousness?

I'm in two positions. In one of them I see consciousness as impossible. In the other, I refuse to see it as impossible and hope someone will come up with a completely new way of looking at the problem with some approach in which data and sentience can be mixed together in the same system and can speak the same language. I can't see any way of doing it, but that isn't the same thing as saying it's impossible. I keep hoping that a clue will jump out of some conversation which will lead to a breakthrough, and that clue is maybe as likely to come from a fruitcake as a scientist. If there's a solution, it will be found by someone who's looking in from an angle that normal people don't explore.