Consciousness - a product of the brain?

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Re: Consciousness - a product of the brain?

#1001  Postby kennyc » Nov 20, 2014 8:40 pm

GrahamH wrote:
Macdoc wrote:
unconscious people don't ever make any attempt to run, or avoid danger,


untrue for sleeping people....you don't fall out of bed for instance.

The problem is setting a hard dividing line between conscious and unconscious....it's not....it's a spectrum within the various aspects of the neural network just as your reflexes, blinking etc are outside conscious control but you may or may not be aware of them.
Basically there is a broad twilight zone between alert and aware and deeply unconscious ala coma and even in the latter state there is evidence of brain awareness through neural imputs.


I don't think there is a continuum of consciousness. The brain isn't an inherently subjective entity. I think we experience only what the brain works out as conscious experiences, and if it doesn't do that for any moment then you have no experience of that moment. Not falling out of bed doesn't require subjectivity.


It certainly requires awareness. And some level of either unconsciousness responsiveness or low-level conscious responsiveness when you roll over to the edge of the bed....

As far as a spectrum I believe there is but it may experiences, thoughts, etc. may get subsequently 'assigned' to reality or imagination and even that is not true in the case of mental problems or brain issues they they may be completely mixed up.

For example, hearing voices, experiencing aural or visual hallucinations which are completely real to the person experiencing them.
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Re: Consciousness - a product of the brain?

#1002  Postby GrahamH » Nov 20, 2014 8:56 pm

kennyc wrote:
GrahamH wrote:
Macdoc wrote:
unconscious people don't ever make any attempt to run, or avoid danger,


untrue for sleeping people....you don't fall out of bed for instance.

The problem is setting a hard dividing line between conscious and unconscious....it's not....it's a spectrum within the various aspects of the neural network just as your reflexes, blinking etc are outside conscious control but you may or may not be aware of them.
Basically there is a broad twilight zone between alert and aware and deeply unconscious ala coma and even in the latter state there is evidence of brain awareness through neural imputs.


I don't think there is a continuum of consciousness. The brain isn't an inherently subjective entity. I think we experience only what the brain works out as conscious experiences, and if it doesn't do that for any moment then you have no experience of that moment. Not falling out of bed doesn't require subjectivity.


It certainly requires awareness. And some level of either unconsciousness responsiveness or low-level conscious responsiveness when you roll over to the edge of the bed....


If you define 'awarenss' without any reference to subjective experience than yes.
As I wrote: Not falling out of bed doesn't require subjectivity.
Why do you think that?
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Re: Consciousness - a product of the brain?

#1003  Postby Macdoc » Nov 20, 2014 9:59 pm

don't think there is a continuum of consciousness. The brain isn't an inherently subjective entity. I think we experience only what the brain works out as conscious experiences, and if it doesn't do that for any moment then you have no experience of that moment. Not falling out of bed doesn't require subjectivity.


Not falling out of bed requires the brain being aware of its surroundings yet your consciousness is mia.

I guess you may have not played with lucid dreaming but there is an entire strange world in there that was the basis of some of Poe's writing.

There is a huge exchange of information going on below the immediate awareness level just as things are on the edge of your eyesight and a movement may bring you to focus on them ( likely a hunting benefit being able to ignore distractions and focus.....an extreme example is the tunnel visions that police and others experience in high stress situations.

Trying to set up an either or state for our neural net is in my view a complete dead end.
You don't think about typing for instance unless it's an odd word - your fingers get there....driving much the same - many km can go by without any memory or awareness of what you did.....you don't focus on walking unless the footing is treacherous....then you focus on your footing.

It is not and either or state.
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Re: Consciousness - a product of the brain?

#1004  Postby GrahamH » Nov 20, 2014 10:17 pm

Macdoc wrote:
don't think there is a continuum of consciousness. The brain isn't an inherently subjective entity. I think we experience only what the brain works out as conscious experiences, and if it doesn't do that for any moment then you have no experience of that moment. Not falling out of bed doesn't require subjectivity.


Not falling out of bed requires the brain being aware of its surroundings yet your consciousness is mia.

I guess you may have not played with lucid dreaming but there is an entire strange world in there that was the basis of some of Poe's writing.

There is a huge exchange of information going on below the immediate awareness level just as things are on the edge of your eyesight and a movement may bring you to focus on them ( likely a hunting benefit being able to ignore distractions and focus.....an extreme example is the tunnel visions that police and others experience in high stress situations.

Trying to set up an either or state for our neural net is in my view a complete dead end.
You don't think about typing for instance unless it's an odd word - your fingers get there....driving much the same - many km can go by without any memory or awareness of what you did.....you don't focus on walking unless the footing is treacherous....then you focus on your footing.

It is not and either or state.


Your's are good examples of my point, easily explained by the brain not selecting those activities to represent to itself as conscious subjective events.

We don't have to consciously experience thinks like those. Those responses don't have to be represented in phenomenal consciousness.

An analogy that makes the point is to think of conscious experience as a sort of non-verbal narrative of what is happening to you. If the 'story' stops being told things can go on 'unrecorded'. Consciousness is absent.

It is a big assumption that phenomenal consciousness drives action and that therefore any 'smart response' must be driven by some low-level of phenomenal consciousness. But challenge that assumption and the automatic non-conscious neural processes drive action, and 'narrate' some of the activity as experience. Much of the time your brain can run things perfectly well without having to generate subjective experiences.
Why do you think that?
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Re: Consciousness - a product of the brain?

#1005  Postby angelo » Nov 21, 2014 9:53 am

All of which proves that conciousness is a by product of a living brain.
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Re: Consciousness - a product of the brain?

#1006  Postby SpeedOfSound » Nov 21, 2014 11:07 am

GrahamH wrote:... Much of the time your brain can run things perfectly well without having to generate subjective experiences.

There ya go again!
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Re: Consciousness - a product of the brain?

#1007  Postby GrahamH » Nov 21, 2014 11:28 am

SpeedOfSound wrote:
GrahamH wrote:... Much of the time your brain can run things perfectly well without having to generate subjective experiences.

There ya go again!


Yep. There I go again, and no coherent argument has been presented to disprove it. Minimally experiencing without knowing it is fantasy.
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Re: Consciousness - a product of the brain?

#1008  Postby kennyc » Nov 21, 2014 12:44 pm

GrahamH wrote:
SpeedOfSound wrote:
GrahamH wrote:... Much of the time your brain can run things perfectly well without having to generate subjective experiences.

There ya go again!


Yep. There I go again, and no coherent argument has been presented to disprove it. Minimally experiencing without knowing it is fantasy.


Truth. Most of what the brain does is not part of consciousness. Consciousness is only one small process that takes place in the brain. It evolved from basic awareness (which arose from basic laws of physics) to provide an evolutionary advantage. Nothing special. No big deal.
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Re: Consciousness - a product of the brain?

#1009  Postby SpeedOfSound » Nov 21, 2014 12:48 pm

GrahamH wrote:
SpeedOfSound wrote:
GrahamH wrote:... Much of the time your brain can run things perfectly well without having to generate subjective experiences.

There ya go again!


Yep. There I go again, and no coherent argument has been presented to disprove it. Minimally experiencing without knowing it is fantasy.

This is the NS forum correct? "generate oxygen gas"
"generate philophicon"

Who has the job of proof here?

getting this yet?
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Re: Consciousness - a product of the brain?

#1010  Postby kennyc » Nov 21, 2014 12:50 pm

SOS please go back to your made-up philosophizing threads. The proof is in the science. Read some.
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Re: Consciousness - a product of the brain?

#1011  Postby SpeedOfSound » Nov 21, 2014 1:00 pm

kennyc wrote:SOS please go back to your made-up philosophizing threads. The proof is in the science. Read some.

And Grahams linked papers on the nature of this generated subjective experience are where? Did I miss the links? Who are you trying to kid here?

Generate FUCKING SUBJECTIVE EXPERIENCE??? What?
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Re: Consciousness - a product of the brain?

#1012  Postby Willie71 » Nov 21, 2014 7:13 pm

Here is some food for thought. Consciousness is related to the flexible response mechanism, but this has not been shown to be causal in behaviour, but most likely as an intermediary in processing. Most of our experience is automatic, outside of conscious awareness.
Earl, B., Fekete, T., & Wiest, M. C. (2014). The biological function of consciousness. Frontiers In Psychology, 51-18. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00697

A discussion of the different theories of consciousness. Worth a read if you are interested.

De Sousa, A. (2013). Towards An Integrative Theory Of Consciousness: Part 1 (Neurobiological And Cognitive Models). Mens Sana Monographs, 11(1), 100-150. doi:10.4103/0973-1229.109335

This one looks at some of the discrepancies in the literature, and has explanations, as well as a call to standardize (oversimplified) the methodology. It notes that patients with bilateral MTL bisection or damage are unaffected in many cognitive domains, even though their procedural memory and awareness are severely affected.

Its unclear if consciousness is biologically needed, or if its a side effect of the FRM process.

If one wants to discuss the brain and consciousness, there is a wealth of information on the processing that is going on. Most is not within our conscious awareness, although there is flexible responsiveness, which can operate outside of conscious awareness. Damage to pathways that affect consciousness do not necessarily affect environmental responsiveness. The argument for the necessity of consciousness is not well supported.
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Re: Consciousness - a product of the brain?

#1013  Postby angelo » Nov 23, 2014 9:19 am

Again, conciousness arose in homo sapien as he gradually became self aware and as an aid for self survival.
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Re: Consciousness - a product of the brain?

#1014  Postby Rilx » Nov 23, 2014 12:40 pm

Hi Willie71,

I'm familiar with Brian Earl's1 paper and I don't understand how you have come to the conclusion that "it's unclear if consciousness is biologically needed". From the abstract:

"Analysis of the components, structure, properties, and temporal sequences of consciousness has established that,
(1) contrary to one’s intuitive understanding, consciousness does not have an active, executive role in determining behavior; (2) consciousness does have a biological function; and (3) consciousness is solely information in various forms."


It is an excellent paper in pointing out (first) that what is generally known about consciousness focuses on the content of information "in various forms" and (second; implicitely) that the terminology of this area is inadequate and ambiguous.

When we are conscious, we are always conscious of something; i.e. we have subjective information about something. If about nothing else, we are at least conscious of ourself as an "empty container". Cogito ergo sum, so to say. ;)

I don't agree with Earl as he defines consciousness as (the content of) information of our subjective experience. I think it is an artificial definition caused by his analytical approach. His concept flexible response mechanism seems to belong to the same conceptual category. Practically it is about what we usually call "mind". I don't blame Earl; regarding the scope of his work he has necessarily faced unsurmountable terminological and even paradigmatic problems. His work is a long step forward; it's not reasonable to judge it on the basis that he's not achieved The Final Truth.

My opinion is that the definitional parameters of consciousness can be found in the content of subjective experiences, i.e. in the contents of our phenomenal representations of the external world. To begin with something, I'd suggest the phenomenal space and time.

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Re: Consciousness - a product of the brain?

#1015  Postby SpeedOfSound » Nov 23, 2014 1:09 pm

Rilx wrote:...

My opinion is that the definitional parameters of consciousness can be found in the content of subjective experiences, i.e. in the contents of our phenomenal representations of the external world. To begin with something, I'd suggest the phenomenal space and time.

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1Brian Earl is the only author; your source has erroneously added the reviewers of Frontiers to the list of authors.

Yes. The content and all of the various mechanisms in the brain that turn that out continuously. There is no mystery here.
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Re: Consciousness - a product of the brain?

#1016  Postby Willie71 » Nov 24, 2014 2:52 am

Rilx wrote:Hi Willie71,

I'm familiar with Brian Earl's1 paper and I don't understand how you have come to the conclusion that "it's unclear if consciousness is biologically needed". From the abstract:

"Analysis of the components, structure, properties, and temporal sequences of consciousness has established that,
(1) contrary to one’s intuitive understanding, consciousness does not have an active, executive role in determining behavior; (2) consciousness does have a biological function; and (3) consciousness is solely information in various forms."


It is an excellent paper in pointing out (first) that what is generally known about consciousness focuses on the content of information "in various forms" and (second; implicitely) that the terminology of this area is inadequate and ambiguous.

When we are conscious, we are always conscious of something; i.e. we have subjective information about something. If about nothing else, we are at least conscious of ourself as an "empty container". Cogito ergo sum, so to say. ;)

I don't agree with Earl as he defines consciousness as (the content of) information of our subjective experience. I think it is an artificial definition caused by his analytical approach. His concept flexible response mechanism seems to belong to the same conceptual category. Practically it is about what we usually call "mind". I don't blame Earl; regarding the scope of his work he has necessarily faced unsurmountable terminological and even paradigmatic problems. His work is a long step forward; it's not reasonable to judge it on the basis that he's not achieved The Final Truth.

My opinion is that the definitional parameters of consciousness can be found in the content of subjective experiences, i.e. in the contents of our phenomenal representations of the external world. To begin with something, I'd suggest the phenomenal space and time.

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1Brian Earl is the only author; your source has erroneously added the reviewers of Frontiers to the list of authors.



Thanx for the comments. As I read the article, Earl noted the biological function of consciousness, but I didn't think he was suggesting that consciousness was needed for the brain to make decisions. That is what I meant by it being unclear if consciousness is needed. I may have been making an assumption of the theme that shows up in so much of this research, that consciousness may be an accidental byproduct of the other more fundamental processes. I'll reread it and see if that's the error I made.

My view of consciousness is that it's a representation of the filtered information that exists in the environment. We can only process a small percentage of the information we are bombarded with in every moment, and I wonder if consciousness is like a compressed form of information, like we see in digital media. I am also trying to sort out the discrepancy between the 2d data that physics notes the universe is made of, yet it's experienced as a 3d hologram. The merging of human consciousness and theoretical physics is generations away, but I think about this a lot. I do think mapping the neurological processes responsible for consciousness will happen in the next decade, and impact mental health as much as mapping the human genome did for medical sciences.
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Re: Consciousness - a product of the brain?

#1017  Postby angelo » Nov 24, 2014 10:14 am

There is still much to be explored about the human brain, but neurologists can tell us much more today than even 5 years ago. The exploration of the human brain marches on regardless. The same way the genome system has been mapped out the brain will be mapped out and no more mystery will remain.
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Re: Consciousness - a product of the brain?

#1018  Postby Spearthrower » Nov 24, 2014 1:28 pm

Macdoc wrote:
I see it as a gradient between the two states - not a jump of states.


This sums up what I think could be the problem here: we tend to platonify and idealize concepts - the concept must be delineated to be defined, and they need to be defined to conceive of them clearly or communicate them. But nature doesn't actually have those boundaries - I think it's essential to remember that they are constructs; artifacts of our cognitive processes.

Consciousness should, via evolutionary logic, be a gradient. Originally, organisms did not possess consciousness. Then sufficient nerve density occurred via selection resulting in a state we could call proto-consciousness. With more nerve endings connecting, more concentration of what would become the brain, more internal complexity so consciousness expanded. As with physical traits, there could be multiple pathways through the development of consciousness, and some organisms might possess certain aspects of what we would regard as consciousness, while not possessing other aspects. What we tend to conceive of as consciousness might simply be an otherwise arbitrary threshold along the gradient - something which satisfies our tendency to exemplify ourselves, but actively misses the point.
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Re: Consciousness - a product of the brain?

#1019  Postby Spearthrower » Nov 24, 2014 1:32 pm

angelo wrote:Again, conciousness arose in homo sapien as he gradually became self aware and as an aid for self survival.



Why H sapiens? Why not H neanderthalensis? Why not H erectus? Why not A afarensis? Why not Pan trogolodytes?

Please help me understand how you can know that consciousness is a property only of modern humans?
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Re: Consciousness - a product of the brain?

#1020  Postby Rumraket » Nov 24, 2014 1:33 pm

Spearthrower wrote:
angelo wrote:Again, conciousness arose in homo sapien as he gradually became self aware and as an aid for self survival.



Why H sapiens? Why not H neanderthalensis? Why not H erectus? Why not A afarensis? Why not Pan trogolodytes?

Please help me understand how you can know that consciousness is a property only of modern humans?

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