What is the use of consciousness when it comes to thought?

Is the mind the same as the body? What is consciousness? Can machines have it?

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prothero
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Re: What is the use of consciousness when it comes to thought?

Post by prothero » Wed Aug 31, 2016 2:17 am

="Terrapin StationIt's an umbrella term for all mental activities, including awareness, perception and experience.
I think that we have no idea what mental phenomena might be like for a corvid, and anyone who says they do have a good idea of that is full of crap. All we can do is study them from a strong behaviorist perspective and remain "agnostic" about what, if anything, their mental phenomena might be like.
How could they seem to do that? Any seeming there would have to be empirical evidence of mental activity qua mental activity, but if it's that, there's nothing unconscious about it.
Are you sure you want to conflate awareness, perception, experience and consciousness like that?
I mean when a honey bee goes off in search of flowers and nectar and returns to the hive and indicates the location with a dance? Is it conscious? Is it aware? Does it have perception? Is it having an experience? I would say all these terms have slightly different meanings and connotations and conflating them like that obfuscates rather than clarifies or differentiates. Perception (touch, hearing, taste, smell, sight) all seem fairly widespread in nature. I suspect you notion of “consciousness” is a little more constricted but maybe you are a panpsychist?

Well it is true we do not have access to any other species subjective internal experience. We can take a strictly behaviorist approach in science (since science is empirical and observational) but don’t we have more license in philosophy. Rational speculation based on behavior, anatomy, neuroscience, functional MRI, etc. Can we not speculate like Nagel “what is it like, to be a bat, a tiger, etc.”. If other animals have rods and cones in their retina can we not speculate they “see” colors and even what colors they can see? Or if they have similar midbrains that on functional MRI activate similar areas (to human brains) under conditions of fear, anger, affection can we not rationally impute “emotions” and sentinence to them. Does it not seem more likely than treating them like automatons?

What about all the visual and auditory processing (vibrations of the tympanic membrane, or photons striking the retina?) which eventually results in “seeing” a flower, or “hearing” a bird sing. I mean we are completely unaware of all the steps involved in between (are these not mental or psychic activities or operations)? How about visual agnosias (where it can be shown some part of the brain recognizes and responds to the familiar face) but the subject denies conscious recognition? Surely many mental operations are sub or unconscious. In fact I think consciousness is like a searchlight fixing a focus on a small part of perceptual input and representing a small fraction of brain activity (mental operations) take are taking place simultaneously.

creativesoul
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Re: What is the use of consciousness when it comes to thought?

Post by creativesoul » Thu Sep 08, 2016 6:59 am

prothero wrote: I don’t think there is any agreed upon definition or meaning for terms like consciousness, awareness, perception, thoughts or experience. Different people (even experts and philosophers) use the terms in a variety of ways and in many different settings. Discussions often end up being arguments about the meaning of terms rather than notions of substance.

I don’t understand notions of extreme “human uniqueness”, notions like only humans have consciousness or only humans have awareness or experience. True only humans have extensive language but even there numerous species seem to communicate using sounds to indicate searching for mates, danger or other significant events. Watching corvids solve multiple step puzzles and honey badgers plotting escapes should clearly indicate the ability of other creatures to think, to feel, to plan, to experience, be aware and perceive. The evidence is enormous and mounting daily in all areas, neuroscience, behaviorism, anatomy, functional MRI, etc. Humans are in some ways unique but virtually all human abilities have precursors or parallels in the animal kingdom, and tracing these back in evolution shows they extend far back in nature.

Mind has evolved in nature and nature is filled with various forms of perception, awareness and experience. The most fundamental feature of life is internal homeostasis which implies a certain form of boundaries (self, not self) and perception, awareness and experience (attraction, aversion). The evolution of perceptual organs for seeing, for hearing, for touching, for smelling, and tasting is clear and such abilities show both convergent and divergent evolution. The evolution of the brain is well described across species and similar areas of the brain often serve similar functions in different species. The evidence from trauma, injuries, tumors indicating anatomic mental ability correlates is overwhelming. People rattle on about these subjects seemingly with very little knowledge of or attention to the vast scientific literature which indicates the widespread extent of perception, awareness, experience and other mental abilities (similar to and precursors of similar human abilities. It can even be show animals suffer from the many of the same mental disorders as humans (obsessive compulsive disorders, seizures, anxiety, depression) and respond to similar treatments.

Some people for religious or other reasons (species arrogance) want to think that only humans can think, or have experience, or perceive or have consciousness, or have feelings but the real evidence is overwhelmingly in favor of these mental abilities having a long evolutionary lineage and being found throughout nature. Reason and evolution both demand that we accord experience to nature and thought and feeling to most “higher” forms (and in a more primitive manner) to most “lower” forms of life.

For more fun one can entertain the notion of non-conscious experience, and even non conscious reason or problem solving. Who has not woken up in the morning with a solution to a problem worked on (but not solved) last evening or had a answer pop into their head after giving up on remembering. Most human mental experience takes place below the level of consciousness and most human activity is conducted without translation to language. Humans are entirely too hung up on their internal linguistic dialogue and highly developed sense of “self”. Such activities represent only a fraction (tip of the iceberg) of mental functioning, processing and activity even in our own species. Perception (awareness, experience) need not be conscious. Thought need not be linguistic. To confine such terms to humans only is to ignore the vast mountain of evidence and begs the question of what to call such mental activities and mental operations in non human species.
Well put Prothero...

creativesoul
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Re: What is the use of consciousness when it comes to thought?

Post by creativesoul » Thu Sep 08, 2016 7:03 am

We can know what thought consists of without knowing what it is like to be a corvid...

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Terrapin Station
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Re: What is the use of consciousness when it comes to thought?

Post by Terrapin Station » Thu Sep 08, 2016 8:57 am

prothero wrote:Are you sure you want to conflate awareness, perception, experience and consciousness like that?
I wouldn't call categorizing or applying an umbrella term a conflation. It's no different than us saying that underwear, a parka and a pair of shoes are all clothes. Are we conflating underwear, a parka and a pair of shoes when we say that? I wouldn't say so, but maybe categorization in general counts as conflation in your view for some reason. I don't know.
I mean when a honey bee goes off in search of flowers and nectar and returns to the hive and indicates the location with a dance? Is it conscious? Is it aware? Does it have perception? Is it having an experience?
If you have no idea how I'd answer these questions at this point then either you're not reading or you're not able to.
I would say all these terms have slightly different meanings and connotations
That you might think I wouldn't say that those terms have different meanings/connotations is frankly quite stupid. If we say that underwear, a parka and shoes all count as "clothing," you think that we're saying they don't have different meanings/connotations? C'mon, man.
Well it is true we do not have access to any other species subjective internal experience. We can take a strictly behaviorist approach in science (since science is empirical and observational) but don’t we have more license in philosophy . . .
Again, I've already addressed this a number of times. It's as if you're incapable of learning (what my view is and how it would apply in context here.)

daramantus
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Re: What is the use of consciousness when it comes to thought?

Post by daramantus » Fri Dec 08, 2017 9:50 pm

Arising_uk wrote:
Sat Aug 27, 2016 11:10 am
Walker wrote:Awareness is who you really are. ...
Body with senses in an external environment is who I truly am. That's where this 'awareness' lies.
Awareness precedes consciousness.
If you make one the body and the other self-awareness or self-consciousness then sure.
When sleeping, even a minor, out-of-place sound can cause a non-volitional resumption of waking consciousness. ...
Depends in what condition the body is before it goes to sleep.
This also happens in formal, sitting meditation practice where thoughts slow, release and disappear. In the absence of thought, and with the sensory gates closed to mind, there is no consciousness. ...
For sure in the sense of self-consciousness.
Thought resumes after consciousness spontaneously resumes. The time-lag between consciousness resuming and thought resuming, varies.

Awareness is the emptiness upon which consciousness appears. Awareness always is.
As long as the body always is but I think you mean self-consciousness as awareness and consciousness are pretty much the same in English I think. I'm guessing but I think the two terms are probably the result of what the English language is, an amalgam of French and Germanic, so we often have two words for many things.
In you and everyone else consciousness with thought intersperses with thought-free consciousness throughout the day, though refinement of attention is required for awareness to bring this reality to the attention of consciousness (in much the same way awareness brings the out-of-place noise to the attention of consciousness from the sleep state). The thought-free states go unnoticed because the sensory gates are open and because of the mind's tendency towards habitual continuity. ...
If you are saying that a lot of time we don't notice the body processing sensory information then I agree.
Awareness is who you are.
Non-dual.
One.
Body with senses in an external world is what I am.
Consciousness is awareness + of.
Dual.
Two.
You and thought, or you and sensory perception.
Who I am is Body with senses in an external world plus memory and a language. But I think we generally agree about some things here, just different terminology.
No, you are not body with a sense, you have a body with a senses, evidence by the fact that you can take as many drugs as possible, change your brain chemistry, take nootropics, and etc, etc, and you would be in your body observing changes in your body. so you have a body, you're not equal to it. but that doesn't prove a religious soul.

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