The body, consciousness, and Altered Carbon

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posted on Aug, 29 2008 @ 12:05 PM
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Originally posted by sirnex
I am very confused and conflicted over what everyone here on ATS considers 'consciousness'. Everyone seems to talk about it as if it is some full separate object, a function of the brain that seemingly runs everything.

This idea is wrong though, have any of you bothered looking at what consciousness is? It is the same thing as saying self-aware, which is a mirror of empathy. Qualities that all species on this planet have.


Sirnex, being confused and conflicted comes with the territory - I think anybody who spends any amount of time at all on the subject feels that way - until you get your sea legs - and even then...

the idea can't actually be wrong - because it's a concept - what consciousness is or isn't can't be proven or dis proven by the standards science needs - and wants so badly to use

at least not yet

if anyone actually knows the real answer to what consciousness is - or isn't - they're keeping it from the rest of us

the brain controls everything - and perhaps makes consciousness possible - but what then?

I can see you don't believe in the observer - I'm really interested in understanding how you see this

if the brain is doing it's job - keeping everything running - except that you are in a coma and unaware - unconscious

where do you go? do you cease to exist?

do you see it pretty much the same as shutting down your computer - everything is still there - just not on?

because I do understand that - and am forced to admit that it is possible that it's just that simple

but it doesn't "feel" true - I suspect, I intuit, I even reason on some level that consciousness exists independently of the brain

could a computer understand that it exists?

not now, but maybe someday

my existence confuses and amazes me - and my ability to wonder about it leads me to believe there's something to wonder about

this is my very simple explanation of consciousness - the need to know something I don't actually need to know to survive

why ask why?

but I admit - I have nothing I can use to demonstrate that this is so - and in the end - maybe the brain is where it starts - and where it ends




posted on Aug, 29 2008 @ 03:36 PM
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reply to post by Spiramirabilis
 





if anyone actually knows the real answer to what consciousness is - or isn't - they're keeping it from the rest of us


That's the problem, the answer is there. The research has been done, we know certain parts of the brain control certain functions, the question is what is going on during it all. We don't have an answer for WHY we became as self-aware as we are today, more so than all other species, but that is no indication that consciousness is an individual 'thing' that is separate from the body.




the brain controls everything - and perhaps makes consciousness possible - but what then?


What do you mean by "what then"? There is no complex surrounding issue here.




I can see you don't believe in the observer - I'm really interested in understanding how you see this

if the brain is doing it's job - keeping everything running - except that you are in a coma and unaware - unconscious

where do you go? do you cease to exist?


That is an awfully silly question in my opinion. To me that would imply that you should also cease to exist when you fall asleep. Yet, you wake up every morning. You never stop existing because the brain was taking a rest. What goes on during a coma is beyond me, I've never looked into it before. I think I will now though, but honestly, you don't cease to exist.




but it doesn't "feel" true - I suspect, I intuit, I even reason on some level that consciousness exists independently of the brain


Why would you reason such an odd idea? There is nothing to even indicate that this would be so. This would imply that there is some invisible force out there in the universe that can instantaneously transmit itself across billions of light years the moment a being in born. That seems like a pretty far fetched idea to me compared to the more obvious answer that no one seems to like.



posted on Aug, 29 2008 @ 04:01 PM
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Originally posted by sirnex


In fact, you are only half right here. This is self-'something', but I won't tell you what that 'something' is because this statement:


, goes to prove how arrogant a person can be and how much a liar or ignorant person they can be. Had you truly looked into the consciousness issue, you would know why your "In fact" is a half fact.


Since you are the expert on this, and can definitively say that others are wrong, arrogant, liars, etc., why dont you take the time to post some links to support yourself? Or at least be troubled to explain your own thinking on the matter?

I am not saying I think other animals lack self awareness, I was merely pointing out that the hard sciences do NOT attribute self awareness to all animals. In fact, had you taken the time to read my post with an eye for more than bashing, you would see that I feel the technique used to determine self awareness is inadequate.



Originally posted by sirnex
Can you explain more clearly what the difference is here? As one can not internally 'watch' as thought is all that precedes thought.


What meditation attempts to show one is that there are two faculties in the mind, the thinking mind, and the silent watching mind that exists independently of thinking. You actually can watch yourself think without thinking about it. You can be aware of your own thinking without thinking further about it. It isnt something everyone does on a daily basis with awareness, but you are conscious without thought anytime you are presented with something new, startling, etc., there are a few moments when the mind is "at a loss for words" about what you are experiencing before the mind begins to analyze it, tell a story about it. You are still conscious of what is being experienced, but if it is truly new or unexpected there is a gap, the smallest gap in ones "train of thought" while the details are absorbed silently. Meditation and other practices like it attempt to expand this gap, so that the difference between "consciousness itself" and the thinking mind and its story can be more clearly seen.

You know, any philosophical thread is likely to have competing view points. You are absolutely entitled to have an opposing view and present it vigorously. It is pretty poor form to call names and be hostile to those who disagree with you.

I personally enjoy opposing views. What I dont enjoy is having someone attack and call names because I see things differently than they do. In my opinion, not agreeing with someone isnt arrogant, it just means that you see things differently. Opposing views give one the opportunity to sharpen ones argument, and thinking, or even change it entirely if a better argument comes from someone else.

Every differing opinion does not need to be perceived as a personal attack against one's Ego.



posted on Aug, 29 2008 @ 04:13 PM
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reply to post by sirnex
 






the question is what is going on during it all. We don't have an answer for WHY we became as self-aware as we are today


that is the question - the big question - that comes way before trying to figure out whether or not it can be transferred into a toaster

so, why? what is the true nature of awareness?



That is an awfully silly question in my opinion.......What goes on during a coma is beyond me, I've never looked into it before. I think I will now though, but honestly, you don't cease to exist.


I excel at silly questions - but the question remains: what goes on during a coma? who are we? where are we?

are we?




Why would you reason such an odd idea? There is nothing to even indicate that this would be so. This would imply that there is some invisible force out there in the universe that can instantaneously transmit itself across billions of light years the moment a being in born. That seems like a pretty far fetched idea to me compared to the more obvious answer that no one seems to like.


because I am odd

and, it is very, very far fetched. Like so many things that we take for granted today - that were at one time far fetched.

it's not about not liking the obvious answer - or preferring another answer

discoveries aren't always made by going with the obvious answer - you have to sometimes wonder first

philosophy is not that far removed from science - it is about theorizing, analyzing, reasoning -

it's just that sometimes philosophy can go where science can't



posted on Aug, 29 2008 @ 05:44 PM
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reply to post by Spiramirabilis
 


Why does there have to be a true nature for self-awareness? To me that implies an intelligent intent behind self-awareness. As far as I can see, I don't see no intelligent intent behind the development of self-awareness nor the various degrees of complexity in how self-aware species are compared to other species.

I still plan on looking into coma research, just not tonight. I would suggest that we are still is and we are in the hospital, but maybe that answer is just to simple to fathom? There is no reason to assume that we cease to exist as we don't cease to exist in sleep, which in a way is like a temporary coma of sorts.

Philosophy to me is a major annoyance. Asking why of why isn't going to answer why. Philosophy doesn't cure disease or develop technology, it doesn't peer into the structure of atomic nucleus's, it can't reach the vast distances between stars to find new planets. Philosophy just sounds like a bunch of people using language to appear smart by asking idiot questions like "are we?". Of course we are, there is no reason to ask or wonder otherwise, you exist, so you must be... or whatever... ugh. Dumb.



posted on Aug, 29 2008 @ 06:06 PM
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reply to post by sirnex
 


Philosophy may be annoying but it is impossible to avoid it. Grammar contains philosophical assumptions. The hard-wired structure of your brain as provided by evolution entails certain philosophical preoccupations and biases that other arrangements of nerve tissue would weight differently.
To disdain philosophy is merely to have an unexamined philosophy.
And then, whether or not you'd rather have an unexamined philosophy is going to be a philosophical question.



posted on Aug, 29 2008 @ 09:10 PM
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Originally posted by Spiramirabilis


I love that - a great image of the separation of brain from mind

if it is possible to have one without the other

I'm with you - I think as an idea - I would go for it - if I could ditch my sentimental attachment to my senses

but not for the potential immortality - when I consider that end of the whole thing - I go back to wondering whether or not there are stages - or options - that we might go through that I would rather not miss out on

Well, you are in good company there...I read somewhere that Alcor offered Robert A. Heinlein a chance to get (cryonic suspension) frozen for free, out of love and admiration for him/his-work...(and what a good call that was...he was such a pure cowboy forward American)...but he declined...citing that he was afraid it might somehow interfere with some type of afterlife he would otherwise experience...So, he wondered something similar...



posted on Aug, 29 2008 @ 11:33 PM
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Originally posted by Spiramirabilis
I can see you don't believe in the observer - I'm really interested in understanding how you see this

if the brain is doing it's job - keeping everything running - except that you are in a coma and unaware - unconscious

where do you go? do you cease to exist?

do you see it pretty much the same as shutting down your computer - everything is still there - just not on?


Edit because I hit post before typing in my reply


I'm just trying to catch myself up on this thread, and a couple others in this forum, after a couple days falling behind. I don't think I've followed the argument here, though - perhaps someone could restate it (keeping in mind that although I'm no dummy, I don't have the same vocabulary and set of references as many of you philosophy junkies, please).

I don't see how this analogy holds up at all. If anything, I think being in a coma would be like leaving a computer on, with system software running but no interactive program. Turning the computer off would be like supporting a body with no brainwave activity using mechanical heart, lungs, etc.

Assuming, that is, that the analogy human=computer holds up in any other than the most trivial way.

I also don't understand what is meant by "the observer"?

(second edit to add): Are "you" not your body?

(third edit to add): I asked this a couple days ago in another thread, on another topic, but I'll ask it again here because it helps me clarify what the implications are of the different possible answers. What do we lose by saying consciousness is inextricable from body? What might we gain?

[edit on 29-8-2008 by americandingbat]

[edit on 29-8-2008 by americandingbat]

[edit on 29-8-2008 by americandingbat]



posted on Aug, 30 2008 @ 07:28 AM
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Originally posted by americandingbat


(third edit to add): I asked this a couple days ago in another thread, on another topic, but I'll ask it again here because it helps me clarify what the implications are of the different possible answers. What do we lose by saying consciousness is inextricable from body? What might we gain?



[edit on 29-8-2008 by americandingbat]

Consciousness is a process that we currently see run in or by bodies.But maybe we could fabricate a lump of something, put it in a security camera system, somehow integrate the camera output into the brain previsual cortex, control camera movement through eye motion cues...I could imagine feeling consciousness as the actor through peripherals that are not currently what we think of as our bodies. I have no big point here, just thinking aloud before I leave the house to go to work...



posted on Aug, 30 2008 @ 11:13 AM
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reply to post by americandingbat
 


I'm no philosophy junkie myself (yet) - more of a philosophy voyeur

so I'm more than a few steps behind myself - I'm sure that Toromos, Illusionsaregrander or nineeyedeel could give you much better explanations

but unfortunately for you that's not going to stop me from trying

the coma situation is just one I was using to try and understand the way sirnex understands consciousness - but I think it's still useful - it gives us a way to look at consciousness without having to bring death into the conversation

my point would be - we're alive - the brain is still functioning on many levels - but what happens to the part that is "you" - the thinking, aware part?

I think you're right about the computer - I like the idea of it's all the same - except that there's no interaction - I think interaction might be important

as far as the observer goes - it's almost an impossible thing to describe (at least for me) because you almost have to experience it to catch a glimpse of it - and be aware it's there

the way I understand it for myself - it is the part of you that is able to observe, listen and analyze the constant chatter going on in your mind - the you that asks yourself "why did I just think that"?

the you standing behind you

your last 2 questions are pretty much the basis for this thread - the whole point

do we exist without our bodies? could the aware, thinking - conscious part of who we are exist on it's own? could it exist without the body it was born with?

when you ask: What do we lose by saying consciousness is inextricable from body? What might we gain?

my opinion is - we don't lose or gain anything - by asking

but it's not really something we can say - that we can state as fact

while the answer seems obvious, and it would be an easy thing to assume the answer - how would we really prove it either way?

so - the question exists unanswered - and we think about it because it's there

this is what philosophy does for me - it puts a worm in your brain that you have to fish around to remove - except that you can never really remove it

[edit on 8/30/2008 by Spiramirabilis]



posted on Aug, 30 2008 @ 11:22 AM
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I feel that it is definitely possible to upload/download the personality/memories/conciousness of a person, we just haven't progressed enough with science to do so...yet.

After all, our brains are merely organic computers, and highly efficient ones at that!

p.s. I have heard good things about the book Altered Carbon, it's definitely on my reading agenda.



posted on Aug, 30 2008 @ 11:28 AM
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reply to post by nine-eyed-eel
 


that's interesting - about Heinlein - always interested in how/what he thinks

and I agree - good call

The Green Hills of Earth was the first science fiction I ever read when I was a kid - what a great introduction



posted on Aug, 30 2008 @ 11:42 AM
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reply to post by sirnex
 


it's so interesting to me that philosophy actually makes you angry

that it bothers you that people look at the world around them and wonder about it all



Imagination is more important than knowledge

The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science.

The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery every day. Never lose a holy curiosity.

The important thing is not to stop questioning.


all from Albert Einstein



posted on Aug, 31 2008 @ 01:14 AM
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Originally posted by Spiramirabilis
...

a way to look at consciousness without having to bring death into the conversation...


as far as the observer goes - it's almost an impossible thing to describe (at least for me) because you almost have to experience it to catch a glimpse of it - and be aware it's there

the way I understand it for myself - it is the part of you that is able to observe, listen and analyze the constant chatter going on in your mind - the you that asks yourself "why did I just think that"?

the you standing behind you



[edit on 8/30/2008 by Spiramirabilis]

Maybe you're already familiar...excellent science fiction story on these bits also, Daryl Gregory "Second Person, Present Tense"...if I can get the link right you can click on it
[www.asimovs.com... here]



posted on Aug, 31 2008 @ 03:17 PM
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reply to post by nine-eyed-eel
 


thanks for that - on the nose

most memorable line for me: The brain needs a story...

and thanks for turning me on to a great site - one more place for me to do something other than what I should be doing...



posted on Aug, 31 2008 @ 05:41 PM
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reply to post by Spiramirabilis
 


There is a difference between wondering how things work by studying them compared to asking questions like "are we". Then again, I happen to look at the world as black and white. Things obviously exist because they are obviously there. We obviously exist because we are obviously here to ask idiot questions like this. I don't see this miraculous aspect of the universe that everyone else seems to see that would give rise to such questions.



posted on Aug, 31 2008 @ 06:08 PM
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Originally posted by sirnex
reply to post by Spiramirabilis
 


...Then again, I happen to look at the world as black and white. Things obviously exist because they are obviously there. We obviously exist because we are obviously here to ask idiot questions like this. I don't see this miraculous aspect of the universe that everyone else seems to see that would give rise to such questions.


my guess - you actually do see the miraculous aspect of the universe - you just don't need all the embellishment

which is a philosophy all on it's own - if you want think about it

not a bad one at that




entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem



posted on Aug, 31 2008 @ 09:26 PM
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Originally posted by Spiramirabilis
I'm no philosophy junkie myself (yet) - more of a philosophy voyeur ...
but unfortunately for you that's not going to stop me from trying


Nonsense! If I only wanted the "experts" to talk I'd go to school or something. It's kind of nice to have a mixture of junkies, voyeurs, and stumblers.


I think you're right about the computer - I like the idea of it's all the same - except that there's no interaction - I think interaction might be important


I think so too. This is part of why it makes me uneasy to say that the consciousness can be fully separated from the body. I can't quite put my finger on it, but there's something really important about interaction and the individual consciousness.


as far as the observer goes ... the way I understand it for myself - it is the part of you that is able to observe, listen and analyze the constant chatter going on in your mind - the you that asks yourself "why did I just think that"?


Okay, I get this. Would consciousness also include a reactive you, or emotional you -- the part that feels before the thought is processed and added to the life story?


your last 2 questions are pretty much the basis for this thread - the whole point


Part of the basis, anyway. The "what do we lose by ..." question just really helps me order my thoughts. For instance, if we think that consciousness is inextricable from body, we lose reincarnated consciousness. That's not a problem for me, because I don't believe in it anyway, but it would be for many. We lose the ability to "upload" ourselves, which is pretty much what I think the thread is asking about.

I'm going to have to go back and read through the thread, though. Did we actually define "self" as "consciousness" (as opposed to, say, "soul", "spirit", "memory", "thought patterns", or "body")?


so - the question exists unanswered - and we think about it because it's there

this is what philosophy does for me - it puts a worm in your brain that you have to fish around to remove - except that you can never really remove it


Agreed. But its fun to poke at



Originally posted by nineeyedeel
somehow integrate the camera output into the brain previsual cortex, control camera movement through eye motion cues...I could imagine feeling consciousness as the actor through peripherals that are not currently what we think of as our bodies.


But you still have our brains as the control center, guiding what will come in and constructing its story out of that input, which is very interesting. Would this not be automatically filtered or understood in relation to the body that it's not?

[edit on 31-8-2008 by americandingbat]



posted on Sep, 1 2008 @ 12:12 PM
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reply to post by americandingbat
 




It's kind of nice to have a mixture of junkies, voyeurs, and stumblers.


I like the mix too



Okay, I get this. Would consciousness also include a reactive you, or emotional you -- the part that feels before the thought is processed and added to the life story?


a couple of posts back nine-eyed-eel gave me a link to a SF short story - I think the author did a good job of relating different chunks of mind/brain to each other -

however accurate it may or may not be - it does make it easier to see all the balls in the air

I think it's still a good idea to discuss whether or not conciousness is separate from personality - ego

the answer to your question is - I don't know



...That's not a problem for me, because I don't believe in it anyway...


I like that you can still discuss the possibility of something you don't actually believe in - one of the best parts of ATS I think - when it works

whatever I believe (at the moment) I have to remind myself - I don't actually know anything

so - I like to hear what everyone believes - regardless



I'm going to have to go back and read through the thread, though. Did we actually define "self" as "consciousness" (as opposed to, say, "soul", "spirit", "memory", "thought patterns", or "body")?


Toromos posted earlier on:


I was hoping for a more operational definition of consciousness for this discussion, since there are so many presuppositions about the nature of consciousness.


which makes sense - the original question is really interesting - but we need to agree on what we're talking about first

no clue how we do that -



Agreed. But its fun to poke at


like a bad tooth?



[edit on 9/1/2008 by Spiramirabilis]



posted on Sep, 1 2008 @ 03:10 PM
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Originally posted by Spiramirabilis

I think it's still a good idea to discuss whether or not conciousness is separate from personality - ego


I agree, but if Toromos has another idea in mind, we could end up derailing his thread.


Originally posted by Spiramirabilis
Toromos posted earlier on:


I was hoping for a more operational definition of consciousness for this discussion, since there are so many presuppositions about the nature of consciousness.


which makes sense - the original question is really interesting - but we need to agree on what we're talking about first

no clue how we do that -



I have also been kind of hoping Toromos would return and give us the definition he wishes to use, without it, we are sort of left talking about apples and oranges and not really being sure who means what in relation to his original question.

I am in the camp that defines consciousness more as "Consciousness itself" the awareness that perceives thoughts, sensory input, and emotional reactions, but itself is not the originator of any of the above. I define it as that thing which, exists separately from the thinking mind, but is the precursor to it, can perceive emotions, but which is not disturbed by them, and can take in sensory input of whatever sort without judgment of it. The non-judgmental Awareness.

I am guessing, but guessing only, that in light of his clarification Toromos meant "personal identity" which I would call Mind or Ego, when he used the term "consciousness." Clarifying this for the original question is pretty important.

If the question is, "how does identity adapt to vastly changed circumstances" I find that question less problematic, in general, but still interesting, because we can actually see how an "identity" responds to a vastly changed body or life. Someone who has become suddenly a paraplegic, or quadriplegic, would have that same "different car" feeling physically. A stranger in ones own "home" so to speak. And someone who was used to living a certain way that suddenly lost everything, friends, family, means, etc., would have the psychological sensation of "whole new ballgame" with their habits, etc., being one way, and none of their current circumstances fitting their habits.

We pretty much know what happens. Either the identity adapts, and integrates its current circumstances into its "story of who I am" or it rebels and refuses to accept the changes, with the ultimate rejection or refusal to change being suicide, either actively taking ones life, or passive, failure to thrive.

We can even sort of see how an identity stripped of its sense of "me" reacts when we look at people with full and permanent amnesia. The consciousness suddenly seems to "arrive" in a body with a past, a history, ties, etc., and sometimes even with "working memories" such as language, math, what things are, but the identity portion of the mind has been "reset" and all of a sudden the story "begins" in the middle of the novel in a sense.

It is a very valid question, "what is Consciousness" and some of the studies on memory show that it ISN'T our self story, our autobiographical feature.

www.allbusiness.com...


Milner, a neuropsychologist who was studying the effects of temporal lobe lesions on memory, examined HM, testing his memory, perception, intelligence, and visual-motor skills. Her careful testing of this patient with a known, specific, surgical MTL lesion brought out these important findings:[8]

* Memory is a neurological function.

* Memory is distinct from perception and intelligence.

* MTL memory loss is a pure amnesia--no other deficits are present.

* MTL structures surrounding and including the hippocampus have a narrow and specific role in memory.


A person who is unable to form new memories, or to continue the "story of me" is still conscious, and intelligent. AND a person who loses the entire "history of me" (past memories) but retains the ability to make new ones, is still conscious and intelligent, they simply have no identity.

For these reasons, I personally feel Consciousness itself, is not related to memories, or autobiographical story lines, but instead is a wholly independent faculty.

Whether or not Consciousness itself survives the body is a good question, an interesting question, but it is wholly untestable in a factually meaningful way. (At the present time) We have no way of communicating with even creatures who ARE embodied but who have different means of communication than our own. Attempting to communicate with something disembodied entirely, with no "tie" to the brain and the language our brains have created seems to me to be an impossible task. The human mind may be a lot of things, but it seems as if it has a very hard time seeing past itself and its own biases, even in recognizing or communicating with an intelligence different from its own here on Earth.






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