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Thoughts About Reality

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posted on Nov, 26 2015 @ 10:27 PM
We are two on the inside. If you really stop, and pay attention to the make-up of your consciousness, you will sense a self and a object. But which one are you? The observer, or witness on the inside, looking out upon objects, is anterior to, and thus more "real" then, the objects it interfaces with.

In the brain, this relationship is mapped in the neocortex and the activations in subcortical nuclei (groups of neurons genetically programmed to automatize our relationship to the world around us; for instance, when people see a long stick on the ground, sort of looking like a snake, they instinctively jump. The reaction is being instigated by something "other" then your attentional awareness.This teaches us how evolution has been an automatic process of organism-environmental couplings, or matchings, between groups of neurons and the environmental niche - which, for humans, was the presence of other humans, their emotional states, intentional states, and ways of organizing meaning between each other. Our bodily shape and physiological development has largely been under the control of natural environmental conditions - we were once monkey like creatures who "colonized" the trees, swinging from branch to branch. Brachiation (tree swinging) was a pre-adaptation for tool use - which put us on the road to digging up tubers, and later on, using fire to cook our meat, and thus freeing up our cerebral cortex to develop to 1400 cc's, the largest brain-body index in the animal kingdom).

The neocortex, glowing on a fMRI scanner whenever we use complex, higher-order reflection, allows us to relate to the world with a sense of "I" ness. It isn't just the prefrontal cortex, or the parietal-temporal junction. The neocortex - a 6 layered nuclear-complex that covers the outside of our brains - relates to the information coming from "below" it as a perturbation to general "awareness". The neocortex really gives consciousness a sense of direction, purpose, intentionality, focus, and many other complex emotions. In the brain just behind our eyes, emotion is given a conscious "conduction". The orbital-frontal cortex allows humans to emotionally adjust what is experientially experienced. The neurons from this 6 layered cortex project all the way down to the vagus nerve, just behind our necks. Via this pathway, consciousness procures a conscious mechanism for adjusting its own bodily, experiential state, essentially making it "king" of its own castle.

The dorsolateral cortex, the top and side parts of this 6 layered neural blanket, allow us to inhibit certain mental states by adjusting our attentional awareness. The power to focus, or not focus, to switch from one thought to another thought, is housed in this portion of our brain. Further back, around the crown of our head, gives us the sense of being 'situated' - physically, as well as psychologically - in a particular 'space', physical, or mental.

The point being, our sense of being an "I", courses back to this evolutionary adaptation we call the neocortex. The personal identity, which we all so strongly feel, is a construction that took place over a 400,000 period, at a time when human beings formed larger groups (100-150 persons) so that the amount of information needed to coherently navigate increasingly complex social situations forced the evolution of a particular neurological situation, an "adding" to the brain, not merely in grey matter (neurons), but also white matter (the glia/myelin/fat that supports and facilitates neuronal communication). The brain passed a "threshold", and BANG! an ontological shift occurs: the world, as so many solemnly believe, was created 6,000 years ago. Such myths arose much later, but they speak to a phenomenon that truly amazes us: we feel we are the real beings and actors of creation, and that everything else is 'just a background' to our lived existence. Such an "illusion" initially set us on a path of unconscious, then a conscious sense of relatedness to the world around us. The world, or our evolution-in-the-world, passed different paths on the way to creating our minds out of reciprocal, highly cued, signaled, forms of communication. We were once rat like creatures before we evolved into monkey like creatures. And with each state, some primitive drives were retained. The amygdala, at the core of the temporal lobes, determines a) what is threatening b) what is advantageous. This part of the brain is a "relevance" detector - determining what is good or bad for the life of the organism in its relationship the environment.

What is odd, is how something like the amygdala, which began it's "life" as a group of neurons focused on motion patterns in the external environment, has become a detector for a "scary" thought, responding to the life of our inner environment as if it were an external environment. The observer, or the person that you are, has become a 'thing' to itself. A thing forced to feel, to know, and to sense meaning in the experienced reality it encounters.

I do not think this observer is a fraud. I do not agree with "epi-phenomenonalists", that consciousness is a mere-happenstance of neuronal activity. Existent, yes (that they would even question this is an absurdity!), but not causal in any way. This, however, just does not jibe with my personal experience. Consciousness, although "tugged" by 'perception-action' cycles (what is called "system 1" activity, or automatic, reflexive responses to the world) can liberate itself and relate far more consciously within its internal 'environment'. Yes, the things to be thought about are largely things that have been experienced in the past (i.e. the storehouse of knowledge/memories in the brain). But WHAT, or HOW, or WHEN, or WHY, is a determination that seems to come from 'without'. What I'm trying to point to is the managing of neuronal states, how they're moved, and from what sort of ontological place their force projects from. Meanings - and only meanings - of significance to an organism like ourselves, compel behaviors. But how they're attended to and the way processed psychologically necessitates us - the conscious actors - as the only means of making, and being, the type of creature that we are. The reduction of our observerhood to the neocortex simply ignores the nature of the actual experience.

What is the experience? The sense of consciousness, as experienced as a state of mindfulness, seems to be fundamentally 'connected' with the experience of love, or compassion. Any person who experiences a mindful state knows this experience I feel, and from which we then speak from. It reaches "back", in our conscious minds, when we were battling negative emotions, like fear, anger, or desire. We stop ourselves by "increasing our awareness", which has a sense of being activated, again, and again, in a self-generated action-perception cycle, with the relevant neocortical areas increasing their neural output. Obviously, the next question should be, from where does the state, organized by a meaningful set of relations, push itself - and it's biological material - forward into greater activity like this? A reductionist materialist attitude ignores the fact that consciousness, qualia, value, determine the way of organization. The awareness "organized" as this type of awareness, is paradoxically aware of it - as I am doing right now - of being organized and re-organized, moment by moment, blindly, like all the organisms

posted on Nov, 26 2015 @ 10:32 PM
that have ever lived. But now - we, in our coming together in such big units, for long enough to develop the neurological hardware to know ourselves, be persons, and colonize reality the way we do - have become beings that can do what nothing else in the world does: select, and choose, with reference to complex self-representations - our thoughts - about particular external things, and design for ourselves, nature, and even animals, how we would like to organize the world. The actor within the body, although born from it's effects, relates within physical matter in a way, perhaps as unknown in the universe, as the moment of the big bang.

Consciousness does seem to have a sun like quality - an explosion-like gaze. The world subsists as it does, because of the events following the big bang, creation of matter, and evolution of planets, and later, life on those planets. And eventually, the conditions on the planet lead to the evolution of a creature which contains, paradoxically, something of the inner-nature of the universe.

posted on Nov, 27 2015 @ 05:10 AM

originally posted by: Astrocyte
Consciousness does seem to have a sun like quality - an explosion-like gaze. The world subsists as it does, because of the events following the big bang, creation of matter, and evolution of planets, and later, life on those planets. And eventually, the conditions on the planet lead to the evolution of a creature which contains, paradoxically, something of the inner-nature of the universe.


edit on 27-11-2015 by Anaana because: (no reason given)

posted on Nov, 27 2015 @ 06:45 AM
a reply to: Astrocyte

Great thoughts and the type of person I'd like to have in depth conversations if I ever met in person.

Heading to work but will respond more later.

I agree with what you're trying to get at. I feel that we as human-being experiences, have a greater capacity and ability to take control over our emotions, feelings, thoughts to the point of abstract critical thought and that in and of itself is a great advantage. Although some people seem to let their more primal emotions and brain functions guide them.

The animals, although they definitely have an "experience" of the world around them cannot form the complex and abstract level of relationships to their external world as we can. We form such abstract and complex relationships that we have been able to come up with not only spoken language, but written as well as other forms including mathematics and all the sciences and arts. Very clear difference between a human experience and an animal experience.

Not knocking down on animals as there are so many with amazing intelligence and abilities of their own. We seem to just have a very apparent and strong sense of "I" which is very empowering to the individual. The "I" allows the person to relate to objects, both physical and abstract in such a manner that allowed the pythagorean theorem a^2+b^2=c^2 to be conceived, formulated and written down. Which is a complex understanding of the relationship between the sides of a right triangle. Something that would only be possible in a mind that can have a reference point ( "I" ) in order to make any sense or be of any relevance to begin with.

You can't mention the "I" without also warning about people who have become too individualistic and forgotten that although the "I" exists, we are all also connected in a very deep and meaningful manner with not only eachother but everything around us.

There are many awesome thoughts that can be had about reality and shared with people. I would have loved to sit around a late night fire with great philosophical minds speaking about stuff like this. Thanks for starting off my day with some great mind food!

edit on 27-11-2015 by fabritecht because: Typo

posted on Nov, 27 2015 @ 08:33 AM
a reply to: Astrocyte

I had to read it two times, but it was worth it! S&f!
Lots of information and if i understood you right, one could say from the evolutionary context alone the self is an important concept?
I like your ending, we contain sthg of the inner-nature of the universe...

posted on Nov, 27 2015 @ 09:28 AM
a reply to: Astrocyte

Can you describe when and why primitive humans began to "cook" their meat? What was the reasoning behind putting the meat to a fire? What was the reason to move from herbivorous consumption to carnivorous, outside of scarcity?

Are you familiar with the theories that present the idea of primitive humans consuming psilocybin cubensis mushrooms? The idea that consuming this organism drove the evolutionary processes of the mind/body/world connection?

posted on Nov, 30 2015 @ 02:14 PM
a reply to: Astrocyte

I do like your analysis, but do want to bring up an exception. I don't know if the exception reinforces your view or detracts from it, but here it is.

Not all humans experience a singular self, particularly people who have experienced severe trauma early in their brain development (Ages 3-5 or 6). In fact, I think. . .no hard research to cite, unfortunately. . .that the perception of a singular self by humans is somewhat illusionary and that the illusion is there because it is a successful adaptation.

I do not know of an fMRI study done on early childhood trauma, but the softer research heavily trends towards the idea that a singular self is a function of brain development starting at around the age of 3.

As an early-childhood trauma victim, I can attest that I don't experience a single self, that is, I perceive myself just as much as a 'we' as I do as an 'I'. . .but I think that perception is a matter of degree rather than actual difference from the norm. I think most self-aware people recognize a cognitive and behavioral change in themselves when, let's say, they are angry. The difference seems that I experience as a separate self rather than as singular self who is angry. But that seems to be a matter of degree. My brain did not develop the mechanism that provides the evolutionary benefit of integrating the myriad emotions, threat detection, and cognition into a composite singular self.

Hopefully, that makes sense. I just felt like I wanted to supply this information as you seem like someone who would integrate it.

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