Pure Consciousness?

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

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Gee
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Pure Consciousness?

Post by Gee » Tue Jan 08, 2013 5:50 am

While reading a thread in another forum, I saw the words "pure consciousness". Is there such a thing as "pure" consciousness? If there is such a thing, then what is impure consciousness? What does consciousness mix with that makes it impure? The obvious answer is that consciousness mixes with matter and makes us, but this answer mirrors Christianity and reeks of religion. (Pure consciousness (God) mixes with matter (us) for the purpose of creating life for the following reasons--fill in the specific religion's theories.) Or maybe that is not what he meant, as the thread was not about religion. So is this about gradations and degrees of consciousness? as exhibited by other species? What makes consciousness more or less, pure or impure?

How can there be degrees and levels of consciousness and awareness? I don't know, but believe that there are. Look at dogs and cats; both are mammals; they are similar; they are house pets; and they are loved by their owners. But they are very different in their consciousness. My dog will look me in the eyes and try to read my moods. If I am sad, he will sit quietly beside me; if happy, he will jump around and play; if angry at him, he will whimper; but if angry at another, he will jump to my side, bark, and help me to defend myself. Man's best friend. My cat is totally different. She does not look into my eyes, she looks at me; her eyes turn black when she stalks me in play; she blinks at me to show that she has forgiven me, and we can be friends again; she closes her eyes to show trust in me; but if I died, she would be more likely to wait and see if anything twitched so that she could attack it, than whimper in remorse. Cats are aloof. So although these animals are similar, they are very different in aspects of consciousness regarding emotion, empathy, thought, and awareness.

We have named many different types of energy, different types of force, even different kinds of light. We know that there are different kinds of chemicals, and matter, and life--so why does consciousness have to be one "pure" thing? I suspect that this concept is a holdover from religion. If consciousness were pure, and only one thing, how would it do anything? How could it "happen"? Where would the action come from? There must be something that it reacts to or balances with or bounces off of or mixes with, else nothing would happen. We are either talking magic, or God, or maybe consciousness could have more than one component in itself.

What if we look at this another way. What if we consider that consciousness is not, and can not, be pure? That instead, consciousness is a mixture of mental aspects that cause life. I don't think that this is such a huge stretch. Consider that consciousness and life are very closely related--actually, life is our only real indication of consciousness. Whenever we try to purify life, we end up killing it. We even have a name for this phenomenon--we call it sterilizing. When we purify life, we sterilize it, which kills it. Life and purity do not make good bedfellows, so why would we assume that consciousness and purity do? I can not think of anytime in nature or history where purity and life were compatible, but I can think of many instances where purity and life were and are incompatible. We have learned not to wreck our ecosystems--as neatening them up and disposing of the less savory aspects does not work. Historically, purifying races and cultures tends to lead to stagnation, whereas culture clashes tend to lead to growth. I don't think that it is a wicked sense of humor that pits men and women against each other in the ongoing "Battle of the Sexes", and suspect that this is a struggle which is necessary for life and growth. Diversity, chaos, and struggle seem to be more congruent with life than purity is--can the same be said for consciousness?. I think that purity is an ideal. So to say that something that we can not see, hear, touch, or understand is pure, is idealism and probably illusion.

Is it possible that there is more than one type of mental aspect that causes consciousness? Maybe two or three? I suspect that there are at least two different types of raw consciousness. When I say raw consciousness, I am considering the theory of consciousness known as panpsychism and see it as something that is pre-life. The problem with panpsychism is that it does not differentiate between life and non-life, so I think that it is only a part of an explanation for consciousness.

Of course, we don't have to take that path, we can instead agree that pure consciousness is all that there is--we can take the view of the solipsist. But I have problems with that path, probably because I am not narcissistic enough to believe it. Then there is the "dream" reality, where nothing that we believe is real, is actually real. But again, this does not answer my questions of how and why. Why would there be a dream reality? What is it's purpose? What would our personal dreams be? Dreaming of dreams? And how could we dream of things that don't really exist? Where would the ideas come from? Where is the cause and effect? It seems that we would need a great illusionist to pull off this kind of dreaming, and who would that be? I think that the illusionist would have to be God--and we are back to religion.

Anyway, this is what I think. I know as much about science as dolphins know about climbing trees, so I am not trying to present a theory of consciousness--just speculating. Wondering how things are possible, and what would be reasonably likely. I could very well be wrong, but seriously doubt that consciousness can be pure.

Gee

Ginkgo
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Re: Pure Consciousness?

Post by Ginkgo » Tue Jan 08, 2013 7:01 am

I think you have covered a fair bit here. When you talk about types of consciousness you seems to be hinting at, the 'hard problem' of consciousness and the 'easy problem' of consciousness as articulated by people such as David Chalmers. I get this idea from your account of considering different types consciousness. People such as Daniel Dennett would of course deny there is any 'hard problem' and say that consciousness is adequately covered in the easy part of Chalmers explanation.

The easy problem of consciousness is basically the idea that we have the ability to discriminate and categorize by attending to a stimuli. We can articulate a deliberate response on the basis of a stimuli. This sort of consciousness is sometimes said to be exhibited in the working of a sophisticated robot.

The 'hard problem' of consciousness can be simply summed as as 'experience' or why do we have experience. Chalmers expresses the 'hard problem' in terms of, "What it is like" . In other words, human experience as a unique subjective quality about it that cannot be accounted for in terms of the 'easy problem'.

I am not sure if this is what you are getting at in terms of, "types of consciousness".

As far as 'pure consciousness' is concerned I think this is more of a tradition in Eastern philosophy. I don't think we find much of it Western thinking.


Ginkgo

Gee
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Re: Pure Consciousness?

Post by Gee » Tue Jan 08, 2013 11:01 am

Ginkgo wrote:I think you have covered a fair bit here. When you talk about types of consciousness you seems to be hinting at, the 'hard problem' of consciousness and the 'easy problem' of consciousness as articulated by people such as David Chalmers. I get this idea from your account of considering different types consciousness.
I suppose so. The hard problem is what I am looking at, because I want to understand the source of consciousness. There are many different theories on consciousness, and some of them deny the physical reality of our world, most of them deny or ignore any emotional aspects, but none of them deny that consciousness exists. So my thought is, if it exists, then it is real; if it is real, then it works like any other thing as regards cause and effect.
Ginkgo wrote:People such as Daniel Dennett would of course deny there is any 'hard problem' and say that consciousness is adequately covered in the easy part of Chalmers explanation.

The easy problem of consciousness is basically the idea that we have the ability to discriminate and categorize by attending to a stimuli. We can articulate a deliberate response on the basis of a stimuli. This sort of consciousness is sometimes said to be exhibited in the working of a sophisticated robot.
Yes, I have heard about Dennett's ideas. (chuckle chuckle) The problem that I have with Dennett is that he does the same thing that panpsychism does--deny the difference between life and non-life. But he does not add to our knowledge with his denial.
Ginkgo wrote:The 'hard problem' of consciousness can be simply summed as as 'experience' or why do we have experience. Chalmers expresses the 'hard problem' in terms of, "What it is like" . In other words, human experience as a unique subjective quality about it that cannot be accounted for in terms of the 'easy problem'.
Experience as a unique subjective quality, or "What is it like to be a human?" But Nagel asked, "What is it like to be a bat?" Are we assuming that experience belongs only to humans?
Ginkgo wrote:I am not sure if this is what you are getting at in terms of, "types of consciousness".

As far as 'pure consciousness' is concerned I think this is more of a tradition in Eastern philosophy. I don't think we find much of it Western thinking.
I don't agree. Whenever I read a theory on consciousness, it is discussing the human rational mind--thought, reason, logic, and memory--that is the "pure" consciousness that I am referring to. It is no wonder people like Dennett can convince people that AI could be conscious, as AI tries to duplicate the rational mind.

When I talk about "types of consciousness", I am referring to all mental aspects of awareness, and I am not limiting them to the rational human mind. Let us be honest here, the rational mind makes us aware of being aware, it helps us to be conscious of our consciousness, but it does not make us conscious. The rational mind does not give us experience, it simply enables us to articulate that experience.

Consciousness is our thoughts, logic, reason, and memory; but it is also our emotions, feelings, dreams, imagination, creativity, knowledge, awareness, and instincts. If these are not also part of our consciousness, then just what are they?

Gee

Ginkgo
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Re: Pure Consciousness?

Post by Ginkgo » Tue Jan 08, 2013 12:07 pm

Hello Gee,

Lets go with the first few bits.

I always say that at the very least Descartes has established that thinking exists. Where this thinking exists if of course problematic. This is where dualist theories come into play. We have mental stuff and physical stuff. Mental stuff and physical stuff are different types of substances We can ask, "What shape shape, colour, and weight is the brain?" But obviously it makes no sense to ask what shape or colour is a thought. Most theorists have acknowledged a cause and effect relationship between physical stuff and mental stuff. The exception to this was Leibniz who argued there was no casual relationship between the mental and the physical.However, generally speaking the answer they seemed to give were reductionist in nature. Mental to the physical, or the physical to the mental. In other words, even though the mental stuff and physical stuff seems so different to us they are in fact the same substance.

Which brings me to Dennett. I am sure Dennett would reject and idea that he subscribes to panpsychism. Dennett is an out and out physicalist. He believes in a reductionist explanation. The mental is the physical for him. Without brains there is no consciousness.

Panpsychism would entail some sort of dualism, more than likely property dualism. Dennett wrote an articlew recently," Why I am not a Property Dualist"


Ginkgo

Ginkgo
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Re: Pure Consciousness?

Post by Ginkgo » Tue Jan 08, 2013 12:10 pm

Ginkgo wrote:Hello Gee,

Lets go with the first few bits.

I always say that at the very least Descartes has established that thinking exists. Where this thinking exists if of course problematic. This is where dualist theories come into play. We have mental stuff and physical stuff. Mental stuff and physical stuff are different types of substances We can ask, "What shape shape, colour, and weight is the brain?" But obviously it makes no sense to ask what shape or colour is a thought. Most theorists have acknowledged a cause and effect relationship between physical stuff and mental stuff. The exception to this was Leibniz who argued there was no casual relationship between the mental and the physical.However, generally speaking the answer they seemed to give were reductionist in nature. Mental to the physical, or the physical to the mental. In other words, even though the mental stuff and physical stuff seems so different to us - they are in fact the same substance.

Which brings me to Dennett. I am sure Dennett would reject and idea that he subscribes to panpsychism. Dennett is an out and out physicalist. He believes in a reductionist explanation. The mental is the physical for him. Without brains there is no consciousness.

Panpsychism would entail some sort of dualism, more than likely property dualism. Dennett wrote an article recently," Why I am not a Property Dualist"


Ginkgo

chaz wyman
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Re: Pure Consciousness?

Post by chaz wyman » Tue Jan 08, 2013 12:34 pm

Gee wrote:While reading a thread in another forum, I saw the words "pure consciousness". Is there such a thing as "pure" consciousness? If there is such a thing, then what is impure consciousness? What does consciousness mix with that makes it impure? The obvious answer is that consciousness mixes with matter and makes us, but this answer mirrors Christianity and reeks of religion. (Pure consciousness (God) mixes with matter (us) for the purpose of creating life for the following reasons--fill in the specific religion's theories.) Or maybe that is not what he meant, as the thread was not about religion. So is this about gradations and degrees of consciousness? as exhibited by other species? What makes consciousness more or less, pure or impure?


Gee
I think the word "pure" in this context is opposed to bodily.
THe idea that the body is corrupt and impure is as older than Christianity, and its origin can be found in divers sources from Plato and elsewhere. It is based in a dualistic fallacy that the physical body is motivated by a incorporeal force or psyche.
For centuries Xians found the body to be the source of dirty emotions of sex and desire, never satisfied with lust or food, always diseased and suffering.
It's not so much a case of more or less pure, but the idea that the soul is pure whilst the body in not.

The irony is that there are degrees of consciousness, because there are degrees of neural networks in different animals. Simply enough the soul or spirit is a thing, not separate, by generated by the body. For this reason it can be corrupt and diseases as any other aspect of the body.

Gee
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Re: Pure Consciousness?

Post by Gee » Tue Jan 08, 2013 1:21 pm

Ginkgo wrote:Hello Gee,

Lets go with the first few bits.

I always say that at the very least Descartes has established that thinking exists.
Forgive me, Ginkgo, but I have not formally studied philosophy, so some things that I say may seem odd to you. Like I might say that I was thinking years before I ever heard of Descartes. Statements like the one above are probably why most people think that philosophy is nonsense. I know that things have to be established as real, but honestly, do you think that the Captain of the Titanic was a philosopher? Is that ice burg real? Yep. :lol: Maybe I'm a little too earthy to study philosophy.
Ginkgo wrote:This is where dualist theories come into play. We have mental stuff and physical stuff. Mental stuff and physical stuff are different types of substances
I think that dualist theories came into play because of the dichotomies instituted by religions with the invisible God.
Ginkgo wrote:We can ask, "What shape shape, colour, and weight is the brain?" But obviously it makes no sense to ask what shape or colour is a thought.
How about what color is gravity, or what shape is kinetic energy? And I am not sure that a thought is actually consciousness, as I think if might be a product of consciousness.
Ginkgo wrote:Most theorists have acknowledged a cause and effect relationship between physical stuff and mental stuff.
Mental to the physical, or the physical to the mental. In other words, even though the mental stuff and physical stuff seems so different to us they are in fact the same substance.

Or physical to physical; mental to mental; mental to physical; physical to mental. We don't know that there is only one mental.
Ginkgo wrote:Which brings me to Dennett. I am sure Dennett would reject and idea that he subscribes to panpsychism. Dennett is an out and out physicalist. He believes in a reductionist explanation. The mental is the physical for him.
I did not say that Dennett "subscribes" to panpsychism, I said that the two had the same problem defining a difference between life and non-life.
Ginkgo wrote:Without brains there is no consciousness.
So you are saying that consciousness is the rational mind.
Ginkgo wrote:Panpsychism would entail some sort of dualism, more than likely property dualism. Dennett wrote an articlew recently," Why I am not a Property Dualist"
I think that panpsychism means that the physical is the mental and the mental is the physical. That they are simply two aspects of the same thing, like the title of a book describes the contents, and the contents describes the title--they are the book.

You didn't answer any of my questions.

Gee

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Re: Pure Consciousness?

Post by Gee » Tue Jan 08, 2013 1:54 pm

chaz wyman wrote:
Gee wrote:While reading a thread in another forum, I saw the words "pure consciousness". Is there such a thing as "pure" consciousness?

Gee
I think the word "pure" in this context is opposed to bodily.
The idea that the body is corrupt and impure is older than Christianity, and its origin can be found in diverse sources from Plato and elsewhere. It is based in a dualistic fallacy that the physical body is motivated by a incorporeal force or psyche.
For centuries Xians found the body to be the source of dirty emotions of sex and desire, never satisfied with lust or food, always diseased and suffering.
It's not so much a case of more or less pure, but the idea that the soul is pure whilst the body is not.
This is interesting. I had no idea that the concept went back that far, but suppose that I should have as it is prevalent in the Bible, which includes stories from ancient times. Have you noticed that the "impure" corruptions all seem to mirror animal instincts? I wonder how long we have been trying to deny that we are animals. Darwin's ideas must have made people a little nuts. :D

But in this case, I don't think that the poster was talking about this kind of pure or impure. It was not a thread that regarded religion or morals, and I wish I remember what it was about, but he used the term "pure consciousness" in the same way that people use the term "pure thought". Of course, with my interest in consciousness, I latched onto the words and started writing, then ended up with the ideas that you see here.
chaz wyman wrote:The irony is that there are degrees of consciousness, because there are degrees of neural networks in different animals. Simply enough the soul or spirit is a thing, not separate, but generated by the body. For this reason it can be corrupt and diseased as any other aspect of the body.
I am betting that there are also degrees of hormones provoking instincts, and degrees of chemicals provoking emotion in other species also. And maybe these are in various combinations, creating all kinds of different consciousness. I know that my veterinarian told me that the reason that cats are so nuts, is because of the abundance of hormones in their bodies. They are basically space cadets.

I have also considered that the soul or spirit is generated, but still think that there are raw materials that cause life to begin.

Gee

Ginkgo
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Re: Pure Consciousness?

Post by Ginkgo » Tue Jan 08, 2013 2:25 pm

Sorry, I'll give it another go. I'll try to be more specific.

"Experience is a unique subjective quality, or "What it is like to be human? But Nagel asked, "What is it like to be a bat?"

Yes, but it can be applied to any living organism. By Nagel asking "What is it like to be a bat?" Nagel is trying to show that physicalism of the Dennett type doesn't do justice to our mental lives. In other words, it is an attempt on the part of Nagel to show that physicalism is an inadequate explanation when it comes to consciousness.

By asking his question Nagel is not saying your dog is not conscious. Obviously dogs are not conscious in the same way humans are. For Nagel consciousness exists if there is something that it is like to be that organism. Is there something that it is like to be Fido? If the answer is yes, then he is conscious.


"Consciousness is our thought, logic, reason and memory, but it is also our emotions, feelings, desires, dreams, sensitivity, knowledge awareness and instincts. If it is not part of out consciousness, then what is it?"

Yes they are all part of our consciousness. This is why it is useful to divide some things into the hard category and others into the easy category.

The difference here is that Dennett would say they all belong to the easy problem. The brain is consciousness. Everything you have listed is just matter in motion. It is the working of the chemicals and neurons in the brain that produces our emotions, feelings, as well as the rational aspect of our lives.

Someone like Chalmers would disagree and say, "Yes there are some aspects of consciousness that can be explained in terms of the working of the brain. A computer can do some of the things you have listed. For example, you don't have to be human to have a memory. It can be explained as matter in motion. However, the important difference for Chalmers is that this doesn't explain the feelings and emotions of an individual. A computer doesn't know what it is like to be a computer (even though it has a memory), but a human knows what it is like to be sad and upset.

Dennett would probably want to get in the last word and say, that if we can build a computer complicated enough it will exhibit all of the emotional traits of a human.

What I am suggesting is that you would need to divide your list into hard problems of consciousness and easy problems of consciousness. This would give you a working definition.


Ginkgo

chaz wyman
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Re: Pure Consciousness?

Post by chaz wyman » Tue Jan 08, 2013 7:54 pm

Gee wrote: I have also considered that the soul or spirit is generated, but still think that there are raw materials that cause life to begin.
What are you trying to say here?

I don't see why there is a 'but'.

Gee
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Re: Pure Consciousness?

Post by Gee » Tue Jan 08, 2013 11:01 pm

chaz wyman wrote:
Gee wrote: I have also considered that the soul or spirit is generated, but still think that there are raw materials that cause life to begin.
What are you trying to say here?

I don't see why there is a 'but'.
Chaz;

I am going to answer you first because your answer is shorter. I agree that soul/spirit/consciousness is generated, but what is it generated from? That is the reason for the "but".

Many people would say that it is obviously generated from the body. Yes, but if it is generated from the body, then why are "zombies" not really feasible. Would zombies have a "self"? would they have experience? would they have a sub/unconscious mind? At this point, there is no reason to think so.

We have never been able to cause life in any way, except when using some part of existing life. So I think that we are missing something, or not understanding something.

Gee

Gee
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Re: Pure Consciousness?

Post by Gee » Wed Jan 09, 2013 12:05 am

Ginkgo wrote:
Gee wrote: "Experience is a unique subjective quality, or "What it is like to be human? But Nagel asked, "What is it like to be a bat?"
Yes, but it can be applied to any living organism. By Nagel asking "What is it like to be a bat?" Nagel is trying to show that physicalism of the Dennett type doesn't do justice to our mental lives. In other words, it is an attempt on the part of Nagel to show that physicalism is an inadequate explanation when it comes to consciousness.

I agree with Nagel.
Ginkgo wrote:By asking his question Nagel is not saying your dog is not conscious. Obviously dogs are not conscious in the same way humans are.

This line bothers me. If it is right to say that dogs are not conscious in the same way humans are, then it is also right to say that humans are not conscious in the same way dogs are. People routinely put humans above other life, and I think this is a mistake, much like when we decided that we were the center of the universe. This kind of thinking leads to foolish expectations regarding our own importance, and probably stifles our knowledge regarding consciousness.
Ginkgo wrote:For Nagel consciousness exists if there is something that it is like to be that organism. Is there something that it is like to be Fido? If the answer is yes, then he is conscious.
Wouldn't this mean that Fido is aware of that experience? So all life is aware? I think so.
Ginkgo wrote:
Gee wrote:"Consciousness is our thought, logic, reason and memory, but it is also our emotions, feelings, desires, dreams, sensitivity, knowledge awareness and instincts. If it is not part of our consciousness, then what is it?"
Yes they are all part of our consciousness.
Agreed.
Ginkgo wrote:The difference here is that Dennett would say they all belong to the easy problem. The brain is consciousness. Everything you have listed is just matter in motion. It is the working of the chemicals and neurons in the brain that produces our emotions, feelings, as well as the rational aspect of our lives.

So Dennett believes in zombies. He would probably get along real well in the Bayous of Louisiana. But even in the superstitious Bayou, zombies are made from real humans--not created artificially.
Ginkgo wrote:Someone like Chalmers would disagree and say, "Yes there are some aspects of consciousness that can be explained in terms of the working of the brain. A computer can do some of the things you have listed. For example, you don't have to be human to have a memory. It can be explained as matter in motion. However, the important difference for Chalmers is that this doesn't explain the feelings and emotions of an individual. A computer doesn't know what it is like to be a computer (even though it has a memory), but a human knows what it is like to be sad and upset.

Dennett would probably want to get in the last word and say, that if we can build a computer complicated enough it will exhibit all of the emotional traits of a human.
Yes. It will exhibit them--but will it feel them?
Ginkgo wrote:What I am suggesting is that you would need to divide your list into hard problems of consciousness and easy problems of consciousness. This would give you a working definition.

Ginkgo
I don't think so. Chalmers already made that division, so that problem is defined. I was thinking more along the lines of dividing the mental aspects with regard to their physical counterparts. Thought is neurons and grey matter, emotion is chemical, instincts are hormones and pheromones. It is this way in humans, but it is also this way in all life--this is not coincidence--it is the way that it works. So, one must either believe that the mental aspect is rather magical and works differently with different systems of the body, or believe in God and let Him decide what is what, or one has to consider that there may be more than one mental aspect. I chose the latter explanation.

So I have been considering how these mental aspects interrelate with each other and with the body. Together these aspects cause consciousness, and they do it in different combinations in different species, creating different types or kinds of consciousness. I think that this is a better way to track how consciousness works.

Gee

chaz wyman
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Re: Pure Consciousness?

Post by chaz wyman » Wed Jan 09, 2013 12:13 am

Gee wrote:
chaz wyman wrote:
Gee wrote: I have also considered that the soul or spirit is generated, but still think that there are raw materials that cause life to begin.
What are you trying to say here?

I don't see why there is a 'but'.
Chaz;

I am going to answer you first because your answer is shorter. I agree that soul/spirit/consciousness is generated, but what is it generated from? That is the reason for the "but".

Many people would say that it is obviously generated from the body. Yes, but if it is generated from the body, then why are "zombies" not really feasible. Would zombies have a "self"? would they have experience? would they have a sub/unconscious mind? At this point, there is no reason to think so.

We have never been able to cause life in any way, except when using some part of existing life. So I think that we are missing something, or not understanding something.

Gee
This just adds to the confusion. You seem to demonstrate some assumption that I am not aware of.
Zombies are a fiction, I don't think this line of enquiry helps.
The point is that if you study living things, you seem to get a more and complex consciousness with more complex brain matter. So I don't see what your problem is or why you want to ask "where does it come from", as we seem to be face to face with all the evidence we need.
As there are no zombies, look at what you can. Single celled organisms are 'aware' of food sources, light and temperature changes. Leaves can move to orient themselves to sunlight, close up to avoid loosing water. As evolution has brought forth increasingly complex organisms we find that the response level to environmental stimuli becomes more complex, the complexity leads to higher animals such as Whales, Dolphins and humans with sophisticated communication.
Surely this is where you look to understand consciousness, as these living examples are the only evidence and the only examples we have.

In the case of zombies. Surely this thought experiment does nothing more that establish that life and consciousness requires healthy living brain matter. If there were an incorporeal soul, then you would have to ask why is it that such a thing cannot animate a dead body - why is it that animation is solely found in healthy matter.

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Re: Pure Consciousness?

Post by Ginkgo » Wed Jan 09, 2013 1:41 am

Hello again Gee.

The reason I mentioned dividing things into hard and easy problems was because I was hoping you could concede a few points to the physicalists. In this day and age we know that brains behave a bit like computers. They can have a memory, they are rational, have a sleep mode, as well as carrying out a logical process.

But how much can we concede to the physicalist explanation? In this day and age computers are not emotional. Dennet would say yes, but that is only true at the moment but it wont be true in the future. The workings of a machine will, in the future, account for all of the feelings and emotions humans have.

Now this is where it gets interesting from Chalmers' point of view. Chalmers would agree that it may well be the case that now and into the future all of the things we call consciousness can, and perhaps, be accounted for in terms of matter in motion. The whole business is just physical processes at work. But all of these things Dennett would call the easy problem suffer from a major problem. That is the problem of experience. Chalmers would probably say that no matter how sophisticated the machine, a mechanical explanation will never explain experience

For Chalmers the hard problem is the easy problem as well. Perhaps we could say that consciousness is like a coat that fits around the mechanical explanations. Keeping in mind that it is possible that a mechanical explanation covers all types of consciousness.

This is why Chalmers introduced the idea of a philosophical zombie. The zombie is the machine, is the human. The zombie is exactly like a human with a computer brain, just like every human might be explained in these terms. The only difference being that the zombie lacks experience. It doesn't have ,"What it is like experiences" So when I abuse a philosophical zombie by calling him names, he will like any human be offended and sad. The difference being that the zombie is not really offended or sad. It is just the appropriate mechanical mechanism taking place in the brain. So the zombie ACTS hurt and offended where as a real person IS hurt and offended.

Would this be how you understand the hard and easy problems? Because this is where I was trying to lead you.
Last edited by Ginkgo on Wed Jan 09, 2013 1:42 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Pure Consciousness?

Post by Gee » Wed Jan 09, 2013 1:42 am

chaz wyman wrote:This just adds to the confusion. You seem to demonstrate some assumption that I am not aware of.
Zombies are a fiction, I don't think this line of enquiry helps.
Well, I have to agree. I think the idea of zombies is kind of funny, but I learned about them in the SEP and they constitute a legitimate philosophical argument. I was actually trying to be less confusing using an accepted argument. My apologies.
chaz wyman wrote:The point is that if you study living things, you seem to get a more and complex consciousness with more complex brain matter.

Agreed. But as I noted with the examples of my dog and cat, it is not always the same kind of consciousness--there seems to be differences in instincts, emotions, awareness, thought and learning patterns that are not directly related to volume or even complexity. Honey bees actually have language, and they have navigational skills that we do not possess, even though they have little itty bitty brains.

So to use another metaphor, I have begun to think that it is not just "How much milk is in the glass?", but also, "What kind of milk--chocolate, skim, buttermilk?"
chaz wyman wrote:So I don't see what your problem is or why you want to ask "where does it come from", as we seem to be face to face with all the evidence we need.
I am not looking for evidence of consciousness, that is what other people are doing. I am looking for an explanation of how it works.
chaz wyman wrote:As there are no zombies, look at what you can. Single celled organisms are 'aware' of food sources, light and temperature changes. Leaves can move to orient themselves to sunlight, close up to avoid loosing water. As evolution has brought forth increasingly complex organisms we find that the response level to environmental stimuli becomes more complex, the complexity leads to higher animals such as Whales, Dolphins and humans with sophisticated communication.
Agreed.
chaz wyman wrote:Surely this is where you look to understand consciousness, as these living examples are the only evidence and the only examples we have.
People are forever telling me that the world works through cause and effect, but then they talk about "mental" issues as being just what they are. Does an issue, by virtue of being mental, remove itself to the realm of magic, religion, or superstition? Does it negate cause and effect, because it is mental? I don't think so. Consciousness may be more difficult to understand, but it still works like anything else with regard to cause and effect. We just have to learn the rules about what causes what.

This is what I have been trying to do, and I think that I have had some success. The first step is to separate the mental aspects, relate them to their physical counterparts, and examine how they work independently and how they influence each other. Doing this, I have made a few different hypothesis about how things may work using logic and reason, but as I said, I know nothing about science, so I need to share and get feedback on my ideas. I have not found anyone else, who views consciousness in this way, so I am looking for people, who may be open to a different interpretation.
chaz wyman wrote:In the case of zombies. Surely this thought experiment does nothing more that establish that life and consciousness requires healthy living brain matter. If there were an incorporeal soul, then you would have to ask why is it that such a thing cannot animate a dead body - why is it that animation is solely found in healthy matter.
Very good point, and more evidence that we do not have the answers.

Gee

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