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Why am I me, and not you?

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posted on Jan, 9 2011 @ 10:05 AM
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In the light of an family members looming demise, and also after the conclusion that nothing could be done to prevent the inevitable which did occur last week, the corresponding feelings associated with such led my thoughts down a path which I've felt compelled to share.

The subject is consciousness, and although this particular topic has been hashed, rehashed and scrambled in more ways than the incredible edible egg - it is still a topic worthy of discussion.

Scientific and medical theory has consciousness residing in the neural cortex portion of the brain. They contend this, yet state that no definitive test to prove consciousness really exists. So does it? Or is it merely a by product of our senses working together that gives us the illusion of being ourselves. Stripped of all our physical senses, we still retain the ability to think and feel emotions.
Suppose a clone was created of you, with a 100% identical genetic match, and all of your memories and knowledge was copied over to the clone. The clone wouldn't know that it wasn't you - nor would anyone else. The only one that would know the difference would be YOU because YOU would not be experiencing the clones life even though it seems that you SHOULD be if were consciousness a mere physical aspect of the human body.
Why am I me and not your next door neighbor? Why am I me and not anyone else?
If consciousness is not a physical anomaly determined by genetic makeup, if it is not a collection of memories and experiences that one has endured - then what is it?
I'm rather reluctant to conclude that is is an illusion created by an imperfect yet advanced brain. If I remembered nothing at all of my life, not even retaining the ability to understand English, if my mind were reverted to the mental state of an infant - would I still have consciousness? Would I still be aware?
The answers are potentially endless. We have souls, we are spirits, universal consciousness, the hologram of reality...etc
Now I'm not saying we are any of that. I simply do not know. What I am saying is that I believe there is more to us than what meets the eye, and what can be studied under a microscope. That is, unless there is some flaw (and there probably is) in my reasoning on the clone issue.
Another possibility would bring M-Theory into play, where everything that can possibly exist DOES exist or WILL exist even if it be in some alternate universe. The fact that I currently AM is explained by the fact that I am possible - therefore I HAVE to exist.
In Hawking's latest book, he said (in theory) there could be 10^500 possible universes, and if you could analyze (visit) those at a rate of a thousand per second, you would have only completed 10^20 in 14 billion years.
Once again, I'm not saying that any of this is possible or even factual for that matter. I suppose at it's worst, it could make for an interesting movie although I believe the plot has been done several times before.
If anyone notes any particular flaws in my logic, please advise.




posted on Jan, 9 2011 @ 10:23 AM
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reply to post by sykickvision
 

Maybe you don't really exist and you are a projection of my own consciousness....ever think of that?


Btw i don't believe that I just think it's a funny idea-- we are all created by God and He decided who He would put in what body. I know this because the bible tells me so.



posted on Jan, 9 2011 @ 10:28 AM
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Originally posted by sykickvision
If consciousness is not a physical anomaly determined by genetic makeup, if it is not a collection of memories and experiences that one has endured - then what is it?
I'm rather reluctant to conclude that is is an illusion created by an imperfect yet advanced brain.


Why?
Consciousness isn't known to exist outside of a brain.



posted on Jan, 9 2011 @ 10:30 AM
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Hey Sykickvision,
I cannot say whether or not you are right but I do not think you have to question the logic. As you state this is an area that is layered in many shades of grey. I find this subject absolutely fascinating.

I believe that if you are reduced to an infantile state we would still be aware but how or why I have no idea.
I read a few years back, on ATS I think, that a scientist made some experiments concerning terminally ill patients.
Approaching their final hours they were placed in a bed full of monitoring equipment, one of which being a highly sensitive scale. It was so sensitive it measured the air in the lungs.

After death and the final breath had been exhaled they noticed a few micrograms (not positive on the actual measure). They had no other conclusion s to draw other than that an energy, soul or consciousness, if you will, must have left the body.

I would be so interested in learning more about that.
I fear that it may be one of the answers we may never find or find too late. However, the more we look, search and learn the closer we get.

You never know you may be on the right track, along with millions of others


Peace and thanks for the read.



posted on Jan, 9 2011 @ 10:35 AM
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reply to post by sykickvision
 

sykickvision,

Good question....


I'm rather reluctant to conclude that is is an illusion created by an imperfect yet advanced brain.


I would rather say that it is the conscious part that is making the perfect brain imperfect....

Peace



posted on Jan, 9 2011 @ 10:38 AM
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Originally posted by traditionaldrummer

Originally posted by sykickvision
If consciousness is not a physical anomaly determined by genetic makeup, if it is not a collection of memories and experiences that one has endured - then what is it?
I'm rather reluctant to conclude that is is an illusion created by an imperfect yet advanced brain.


Why?
Consciousness isn't known to exist outside of a brain.


I read an article a couple of months ago which suggests just that....I'll look for it again and post it.



posted on Jan, 9 2011 @ 10:46 AM
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True that TD. A tree is not conscious because it does not have a brain. A dog is conscious because you can tell by it's actions that it's aware of it's own existence. An infant is conscious because as soon as you give it a good slap, it cries. If it were not conscious of it's own existence, how could it do that? And this just goes to prove that you don't have to have intelligence to be conscious of your existence, aside from the "intelligence" to do so.

This is something I don't think we'll ever understand fully, unless this is the type of "awakening" that some people say will happen at the end of 2012.

Good topic though buddy. S&F for you

edit on 9-1-2011 by InTheShadows because: Clarity



posted on Jan, 9 2011 @ 10:58 AM
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reply to post by sykickvision
 

Before you were reborn you took responsibility for the lump of clay being handed out and declared "I AM THAT I AM .



posted on Jan, 9 2011 @ 11:06 AM
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Why am I me, and not you?

I reckon you didn´t slip the old celestial envelope to the right cosmic palm when destiny was being determined. Remember that when your back in line for your next mission after this one is over! ;



posted on Jan, 9 2011 @ 11:37 AM
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reply to post by sykickvision
 


I agree that this is a very interesting issue. I think that without appealling to a mystical identity, like a soul, the question of why I'm me and not you is impossible to answer.

Consider this; if you were me and I were you, would anything be different? The brain responsible for this text would still have the exact same genetic make-up and the exact same formative experiences. So, I believe the answer is no, nothing would be different; at least nothing in the physical world would be different. If we accept that consciousness is fully determined by the state of the corresponding brain then nothing would be different in the "mental world" (I'm uncertain of the ontological status of this world). This is a conundrum though because unless we accept a non-physical, mystical reality, then nothing different in the physical world means nothing different at all. This means that "if I were you and you were me" is a meaningless concept; the resulting hypothetical universe is identicle to this one. I think this delivers a strong blow to the idea that the "self" is anything other than a high level cognitive concept that is useful; it's not a "thing" that can be "in" you or "in" me, and it is unable to participate in causal relationships.

There's really no satisfying conclusion to be drawn from this type of philosophical consideration. I find a modicum of relief from the perspective cognitive science. There's a very interesting book called "The Ego Tunnel" writen by Thomas Metzinger which details an appealing theory of self. He says that the brain essentially runs a simulation of the world, constructed based on input and memory. Within that simulation it runs a simulation of you, and consciousness and sense-of-self are qualities which the brain applies to the simulated person. It is the sense of self and experiences of this "avatar" (for lack of a better word) that make up our consciousness. In other words, the self is a useful construct that the brain employs in order to navigate the world successfully. This is an appealing theory for a number fo reasons (and I certainly haven't done it justice here). Consider than it accounts for out of body experiences (the self within the simulation gets misplaced); it is in agreement with our sense of space and our immediate environment (we have that sense because our percieved environment is the simulation); it accounts for our sense of self; and it offers a potential explanation for the loss of sense of self experienced during meditation (the self simply isn't included in the simulation, or the entire simulated environment takes on the quality of self). It is also bolstered by dreams and hallucinations; we know that the brain is capable of causing us to have experiences that are totally disconnected from reality - this suggests to me that we're experiencing the brain's simulation - not reality directly - and there are conditions under which the simulation is not based on input from the "real" world. It also seems that we can generate these simulations on demand in the form of imagining ourselves in some scenario that we're not actually in.

The question of consciousness I think is an issue that can be delt with separately. The connection between what we recognize as consciousness and brains is undeniable, as is the fact of your conscious experience at this moment. Whatever it is, it certainly exists; we are definitely talking about something real when we say "consicousness." I also don't think it's an illusion; it's certianly ontologically wierd, but it's not as though we're mistaken about being conscious. We don't think we're conscious when in fact we're not - we really are.

To me, consciousness seems to be a quality of information, and information seems to be the building blocks of the universe. Brains are conscious because they are an informaiton system of sufficient complexity that is organized in such a way that meaningful thought can occur. I would argue that since brains are made up of the same elements as everything else, everything else contains the same stuff that yeilds consciousness in brains. The question is, what is the difference? I think it's about coherence and complexity of information. I think that all systems of sufficient complexity and coherence are conscious in some sense, and that the details of the corresponding cognition are determined by the arrangment of the components of the system. I think computers probably have something like consciousness, as well as ecosystems, ant colonies, schools of fish, and perhaps the internet. We fail to recognize the consciousness of these entities because they lack free will (as do we, but we're in denial about this fact in humans), and we just can't image "what it's like to be" an ant colony or the internet.

Interesting topic.



posted on Jan, 9 2011 @ 12:00 PM
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Originally posted by OnceReturned
I would argue that since brains are made up of the same elements as everything else, everything else contains the same stuff that yeilds consciousness in brains.


This is demonstrably false though. One's arm may contain the same elements as the brian, yet is not conscious. Consciousness appears to exist in a properly functioning brain as a by-product of processing sensory information. Appeals to mystical explanations such as souls or collective consciousness fall flat in the face of evidence, or the lack thereof.



posted on Jan, 9 2011 @ 12:24 PM
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reply to post by OnceReturned
 


it is what it is, comes to mind.
I am who, or what? does not matter.
like popeye once said I am's what I am's. and I is what I is.

our hands are tools, like our brains just tools for the artist and that artist is. YOU...

who you are and who I am is not definite. we are all one but we are also all unique like every tree that is rooted in the same soil.



posted on Jan, 9 2011 @ 01:17 PM
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Originally posted by traditionaldrummer

Originally posted by OnceReturned
I would argue that since brains are made up of the same elements as everything else, everything else contains the same stuff that yeilds consciousness in brains.


This is demonstrably false though. One's arm may contain the same elements as the brian, yet is not conscious. Consciousness appears to exist in a properly functioning brain as a by-product of processing sensory information. Appeals to mystical explanations such as souls or collective consciousness fall flat in the face of evidence, or the lack thereof.


I wasn't making an appeal to a mysticism or magic. In fact, I think I said the same thing that you did. What I meant was that the same elements - literally - make up both conscious and non-conscious matter. This means that consciousness is a property of the arrangment of the matter and not of the matter itself. The same fundamental elements are capable of constituting a conscious system or an unconscious system. The elements have the capacity for consciousness inherently, but that capacity is dependant, apparently, on something like information processing. And, apparently, information processing is the only fundamental difference between the conscious systems and unconscious ones.

How exactly the same components (the elements) arranged differently give rise to a categorically new thing (consciousness) is beyond me. As is the question of how "information processing" can be a causally distinct feature of a physical systems (the systems only give rise to consciousness when they are doing this). These apparently impossible questions lead me to the conclusion that there is something like proto-consciousness in everything, and when enough of it gets together and interacts in the right sort of way the effect is cumulative and we wind up with full-blown conscious cognition. If there isn't proto-consciousness in everything, at what point does consciousness arise in brains and why at that point in particular? It's too counter-intuitive to me to believe that a completely unconscious system suddenly becomes conscious, because consciousness is not categorically "like" non-conscious things. It doesn't make sense that it would just appear out of no where when all of the components of the brain were lined up correctly, that sounds more like magic to me than the idea that it's an inherent property of the information which ultimately constitutes reality. In the latter case conscious brains become a special collection of proto-conscious components, instead of a spontaneous and inexplicable "out-of-thin-air" trick.

In any case, presumably it can be accounted for within an ideal physics. Would the variable corresponding to consciousness be boolean?



posted on Jan, 9 2011 @ 01:34 PM
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the question i think of...what happens if you were to cut out someones neo cortex without damaging any other area of the brain? would they still have conciousness?



posted on Jan, 9 2011 @ 02:05 PM
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Originally posted by traditionaldrummer

Originally posted by sykickvision
If consciousness is not a physical anomaly determined by genetic makeup, if it is not a collection of memories and experiences that one has endured - then what is it?
I'm rather reluctant to conclude that is is an illusion created by an imperfect yet advanced brain.


Why?
Consciousness isn't known to exist outside of a brain.


It is by me Traditional. I guess the word is subjectively not objectively. I know it can't be proven. But for me it has been proven. Cosciousness does exist outside the body/brain. My exxperience says so. OBEs do happen.
edit on 9-1-2011 by randyvs because: (no reason given)



posted on Jan, 9 2011 @ 02:24 PM
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reply to post by randyvs
 


But not all experiences correspond to reality. Dreams and hallucinations happen all the time, and there is a clear distinction between these things and accurate perceptions that correspond to external reality. OOB experiences are the same thing; they don't correspond to consciousness actually leaving the body.

The biggest problem with the idea that consciousness is not brain based in the overwhelming evidence of a connection between the two. States of consciousness correspond to brain states and doing something to the brain effects consciousness. How could this connection exist if the two were independant?



posted on Jan, 9 2011 @ 02:37 PM
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Imagine an intelligence gathering machine...that provides an environment/circumstances that every probability is enacted and lived out to its conclusion..ultimately to provide information to the source....this is why I am.. and you are you!!...IMHO we are nothing more than intelligence gathering entities to provide information for the source!!....yet ultimately part of the intelligence!!



posted on Jan, 9 2011 @ 02:47 PM
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reply to post by OnceReturned
 


I wonder if you yourself have experienced an OBE? FnS
edit on 9-1-2011 by randyvs because: to add FnS.



posted on Jan, 9 2011 @ 03:22 PM
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reply to post by randyvs
 


I can't say that I've ever had the stereotypical OBE. I've had all sorts of experiences with meditation and psychoactive compounds, and some of those experiences have been very powerful. Despite how real it feels, I recognize that it's all a functon of my brain. I can't tell how you argument is any different than saying that since optical illusions look real, they're not illusions and in fact the lines really aren't parallel or the disk really is spinning or the dots really are flashing.

Are you unwilling to even consider the possibility that your brain could have caused the OBE? If so, why don't you feel the same way about other experiences of unconventional consciousness like dreams or hallucinations?

How can consciousness be disconnected from the brain when there is such a strong correlation between the two?

If I had lied and said that I have had an OBE and I chalk it up to brain activity, what difference would that make?



posted on Jan, 9 2011 @ 09:23 PM
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this can get really complicated just look at what happened to arnie...



skip to 2:20




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