Consciousness Discussed

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

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Wyman
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Consciousness Discussed

Post by Wyman » Sat Mar 08, 2014 1:24 am

I would like to discuss the 'problem' of consciousness, if anyone would like to participate. I am one of those who don't see a problem. For instance, if there is a problem of consciousness, why is there not a problem of 'seeing?' We accept that our eyes receive light waves or photons and convert them into images in our brains. We accept that this is explained by science. We do not then claim, as philosophers, that there is a problem of seeing. What makes seeing different than consciousness?

I believe that the problem of consciousness stems from a confusion: we want to say that we are conscious of seeing something, or conscious of hearing something or conscious of imagining something. Then, we get confused over what the 'object' of consciousness is - is it the same (or of the same class/type) as the object of sight, hearing, etc.? Or is it some other kind of thing?

I maintain that the object of consciousness is not some other kind of thing than perceptions; rather, consciousness is just a general term describing the class of all perceptions. It is a proclivity to misuse such general concepts that creates confusion. To say that we are conscious of something (qualia, for instance) separate from that which we see (or hear or taste, etc.) is akin to saying, for instance, that when we see red and blue and green, we also see color; and then take 'color' as something more than just a general term.

Once those confusions are cleared up it, we are left with the question of what mechanism controls perception - that is, what makes us look at this rather than that, what directs our attention, what interprets and manipulates our perceptions. It is fairly easy for me to see how such mechanisms can be explained by neuroscience -at least in theory - in terms of stimulus and response.

I have tried to take a strong position to provoke responses. Whether I can defend it adequately I don't know, but I find putting forward a firm stance is better for discussion than merely asking open ended questions, like 'What do you think consciousness consists of?"

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hammock
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Re: Consciousness Discussed

Post by hammock » Sat Mar 08, 2014 2:22 am

Wyman wrote:I would like to discuss the 'problem' of consciousness, if anyone would like to participate. I am one of those who don't see a problem. For instance, if there is a problem of consciousness, why is there not a problem of 'seeing?' We accept that our eyes receive light waves or photons and convert them into images in our brains. We accept that this is explained by science.

Yes, when an autonomous vehicle navigates through traffic (one of those that relies a little less on GPS), it's not just a complex network of mechanistic relationships happening in a death-like nothingness. Pictures are exhibiting themselves internally in the computer processing. Science literature is overflowing with studies about the detection or outright observations of visual, acoustic, olfactory, and somatosensory manifestations in electrochemical or electromagnetic transmissions (whether it be the biochemical substrate of neural stuff or electronic circuitry or EM waves traveling through space). Rocks routinely perceive their surrounding environments as a showing of blurred images by simply absorbing light, no cognitive equipment necessary. Panpsychism, or at least some of its subcategories like panexperientialism, have been popular mainstream elements of physicalism for decades. So it is quite baffling what the Chalmers groupies and qualiaphiles are babbling about in philosophy of mind, in terms of experience being an extraordinary, puzzling, or unexpected novelty.

Ginkgo
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Re: Consciousness Discussed

Post by Ginkgo » Sat Mar 08, 2014 3:33 am

Wyman wrote:I would like to discuss the 'problem' of consciousness, if anyone would like to participate. I am one of those who don't see a problem. For instance, if there is a problem of consciousness, why is there not a problem of 'seeing?' We accept that our eyes receive light waves or photons and convert them into images in our brains. We accept that this is explained by science. We do not then claim, as philosophers, that there is a problem of seeing. What makes seeing different than consciousness?


Imagine someone staring at a large yellow triangle. If you ask them what they are looking at they will probably indicate a large yellow triangle. Science has very advanced ways of looking into the function of the working brain- MIR machines being a very good example.

The problem is that no matter how much scientific examination of the brain we want to carry out we will never see anything inside the skull than resembles a yellow triangle. We will see various areas of the brain being simulated from time to time. There is chemical and electrical activity going on. Yet none of this activity, in any way resembles a triangle. There is no yellow color found in the chemical activity and the neurons don't fire in a triangular shape. Nonetheless, out of all of this we see a yellow triangle.

This is basically the answer to your question and one of the major problems of consciousness.
Wyman wrote:
I believe that the problem of consciousness stems from a confusion: we want to say that we are conscious of seeing something, or conscious of hearing something or conscious of imagining something. Then, we get confused over what the 'object' of consciousness is - is it the same (or of the same class/type) as the object of sight, hearing, etc.? Or is it some other kind of thing?
This would be difficult to answer in a few lines. However, a popular explanation embraced by neurophilosophers is that consciousness is a unified experience. So if we are standing next to a coffee machine we might get some visual input of coffee. We might enjoy the aroma coming from the machine. We also might hear the coffee percolating.

All of this sensory input goes to make up our coffee experience. Such things as sight, sound, taste and smell are subsumed into a single experience that contains its original elements, but is not dependent upon them. In other words the various elements are subsumed into a difference experience.
Wyman wrote:
I maintain that the object of consciousness is not some other kind of thing than perceptions; rather, consciousness is just a general term describing the class of all perceptions. It is a proclivity to misuse such general concepts that creates confusion. To say that we are conscious of something (qualia, for instance) separate from that which we see (or hear or taste, etc.) is akin to saying, for instance, that when we see red and blue and green, we also see color; and then take 'color' as something more than just a general term.
This sounds something like a binding theory of consciousness. When qualia is introduced into the debate neurophilosophy and philosophy go their separate ways.
Wyman wrote:
Once those confusions are cleared up it, we are left with the question of what mechanism controls perception - that is, what makes us look at this rather than that, what directs our attention, what interprets and manipulates our perceptions. It is fairly easy for me to see how such mechanisms can be explained by neuroscience -at least in theory - in terms of stimulus and response.

I have tried to take a strong position to provoke responses. Whether I can defend it adequately I don't know, but I find putting forward a firm stance is better for discussion than merely asking open ended questions, like 'What do you think consciousness consists of?"

Prinz would say that consciousness comes about only when attention modulates immediate vision. You will find this explanation in his AIR, or Attention to Immediate Representations theory.

Wyman
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Re: Consciousness Discussed

Post by Wyman » Sat Mar 08, 2014 5:19 pm

I'd like to address one part of gingko's response, as the subject is too broad to discuss all the points raised in one post.
The problem is that no matter how much scientific examination of the brain we want to carry out we will never see anything inside the skull than resembles a yellow triangle.
and
When qualia is introduced into the debate neurophilosophy and philosophy go their separate ways.
My primary point in my post is that I do not think there is any such thing as qualia. I'd like others who disagree to make a plea for qualia.

Take this analogy (or point out where it fails): perception produces a picture like a camera or computer screen. Stimulus is collected by the brain and the brain, by physical processes, produces the picture. When you look inside the computer or camera, you do not see the yellow triangle anywhere either. You only see it on the screen. Why do you see a problem with not seeing a triangle in the brain?

Philosophers (as opposed I guess to 'neurophilosophers') insist that the picture produced by the computer or camera is somehow 'perceived' secondary to the original stimulus - i.e. that once the computer produces the picture, another faculty (mind) then perceives (or stands in some relation to) that whole picture.

I maintain that this second level process of perceiving the whole picture is an illusion created by philosophical talk - a philosophical language game which confuses consciousness and perception.

The difference between the analogy to a camera or computer screen and our conscious awareness, is that the picture is saved on a piece of paper or computer screen and our perceptions are saved in our memory. When the perception is brought back up, it has faded and is more ephemeral than our original perception. Computers are better at reproducing the original image.

Again, I do not see any need in the explanation of consciousness for some entity 'qualia' to explain the process and would like someone who disagrees to explain it to me.

Ginkgo
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Re: Consciousness Discussed

Post by Ginkgo » Sun Mar 09, 2014 10:16 am

Wyman wrote:
My primary point in my post is that I do not think there is any such thing as qualia. I'd like others who disagree to make a plea for qualia.
There are a lot of people who would agree with you. The argument for qualia is sometimes know as a knowledge argument. If you google Mary's Room, you will see the argument outlined.

Mary's room is a thought experiment that attempts to demonstrate the unique subjective nature of experience. Chalmer's calls this the hard problem of consciousness. The hard problem is largely an attempt on Chalmers' part to understand why humans have experience.
Wyman wrote:
Take this analogy (or point out where it fails): perception produces a picture like a camera or computer screen. Stimulus is collected by the brain and the brain, by physical processes, produces the picture. When you look inside the computer or camera, you do not see the yellow triangle anywhere either. You only see it on the screen. Why do you see a problem with not seeing a triangle in the brain?
The problem is why do you as the observer, eventually see this electrical and chemical process as eventually becoming a yellow triangle on your 'brain screen'. This is sometimes know as the Cartesian Theater. The other problem is that I am looking at the brain scan of someone who is thinking about seeing a yellow triangle. The two of us are seeing entirely different things.

http://www.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cartesian_theater

Wyman wrote:
Philosophers (as opposed I guess to 'neurophilosophers') insist that the picture produced by the computer or camera is somehow 'perceived' secondary to the original stimulus - i.e. that once the computer produces the picture, another faculty (mind) then perceives (or stands in some relation to) that whole picture.

I maintain that this second level process of perceiving the whole picture is an illusion created by philosophical talk - a philosophical language game which confuses consciousness and perception.

The difference between the analogy to a camera or computer screen and our conscious awareness, is that the picture is saved on a piece of paper or computer screen and our perceptions are saved in our memory. When the perception is brought back up, it has faded and is more ephemeral than our original perception. Computers are better at reproducing the original image.
Again, I see this as the observer (self) being in privileged position to make an internal observation of an image. There are a number of problems with this idea, not least of all the evidence that there is no actual neural center of consciousness anywhere in the brain. In fact it may turn out that consciousness is dis-unified.

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HexHammer
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Re: Consciousness Discussed

Post by HexHammer » Mon Mar 10, 2014 7:48 pm

There is a problem of conciousness.

Doctors has declared living people dead, because they found no signs of life, we in Denmark and many other cases around the world have declared people dead, because they were in a rare form of coma, where normal signs of life has been dispended.
The head doc of the hospital has been suspended, and the scandal rolled, but none the less we never evolved our methods of defining the difference between total death and conciousness.

For decades docs has declared vegetative patients for unconcious, but many has been relieved for that state and told stories how they were very concious but locked up in their body without being able to communicate with their surroundings.

If anyone can solve what conciousness is, then they stand for the Nobel price and billions in the industry.

ColinByrne
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Re: Consciousness Discussed

Post by ColinByrne » Fri Mar 14, 2014 3:37 am

Ginkgo wrote: Again, I see this as the observer (self) being in privileged position to make an internal observation of an image.
I think there may a few categorical distinctions that needs to be made here.

It would seem that there two distinct "yous": the "physical you" and the "mental you". The first is the nervous system and the second is the ongoing process of the nervous system. It's hard not to switch back and forth between these two concepts because there is not a standard means of describing the "mental you", apart from words that are loaded with history and misconceptions themselves (i.e., "mind being a mental substance"). So when you say, "I see this as the observer", how do you know there is an "I"? And if you are the same "I" reflecting on your "I", are there two "I's"?

If we assume that there is no viewer ("Sum") in the Cartesian theater, only the "thinking thing" ("cogito"), then the "mental you" is merely the experience you are having at any given moment. You are, in a mental sense, the qualia. By this, I mean, if you were to shut off all other brain functions apart from vision, the "mental you" would simply be a yellow triangle. However, because we have all the ups and extras that our brain offers in terms of labeling and dividing up the world, our sense of space, our learned experience, etc., that we start to get these once- or twice-removed mental states that feel like an there is an observer in the theater. With everything turned on, I am the yellow triangle--but also I am (in a mental sense) my thoughts about "triangles", the color "yellow", my conceived sense of a physical self in relationship to physical triangle, etc.

It's our inability to have access to the myriad of systems and subsystems constantly running, providing an illusion of a coherent unified self, that makes this situation anything but intuitive, but I would also assume that anything that is actively sensing (for instance, digital camera that is up and running) is, in a very simply way, conscious.

Ginkgo
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Re: Consciousness Discussed

Post by Ginkgo » Sat Mar 15, 2014 12:29 am

ColinByrne wrote:
I think there may a few categorical distinctions that needs to be made here.

It would seem that there two distinct "yous": the "physical you" and the "mental you". The first is the nervous system and the second is the ongoing process of the nervous system. It's hard not to switch back and forth between these two concepts because there is not a standard means of describing the "mental you", apart from words that are loaded with history and misconceptions themselves (i.e., "mind being a mental substance").
I guess that depends on the stance taken. Dennett for example, is a physicalist so the "physical you" and the "mental you" are one and the same. Just matter in motion. So how do people people such as Dennet explain conscious thought and experience? My big toe is an example of matter in motion, yet it will never be conscious.

The answer the physicalists supplies is called,"emergence". Computers are basically just matter in motion (circuits and silicon chips). The claimed made by the physicalists is that ever increasing complexity over time will eventually lead to the emergence of consciousness as a property of this complexity. This is basically the physicalists explanation as to why the human brain is conscious and why computers one day will be conscious.
ColinByrne wrote:
So when you say, "I see this as the observer", how do you know there is an "I"? And if you are the same "I" reflecting on your "I", are there two "I's"?
This is the problem of the Cartesian theater. It leads to an infinite regress of I's.
ColinByrne wrote:
If we assume that there is no viewer ("Sum") in the Cartesian theater, only the "thinking thing" ("cogito"), then the "mental you" is merely the experience you are having at any given moment. You are, in a mental sense, the qualia. By this, I mean, if you were to shut off all other brain functions apart from vision, the "mental you" would simply be a yellow triangle. However, because we have all the ups and extras that our brain offers in terms of labeling and dividing up the world, our sense of space, our learned experience, etc., that we start to get these once- or twice-removed mental states that feel like an there is an observer in the theater. With everything turned on, I am the yellow triangle--but also I am (in a mental sense) my thoughts about "triangles", the color "yellow", my conceived sense of a physical self in relationship to physical triangle, etc.

It's our inability to have access to the myriad of systems and subsystems constantly running, providing an illusion of a coherent unified self, that makes this situation anything but intuitive, but I would also assume that anything that is actively sensing (for instance, digital camera that is up and running) is, in a very simply way, conscious.
I wasn't happy with my last response so I decided to change it. I feel as though it didn't address the issue you raised.

I pretty much agree with what you are saying here up until a point. In the end all the physicalist is really saying about the first person perspective is that it is an emergent property of complexity. On this basis a digital camera would not be considered a complex enough machine to be considered conscious.

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Re: Consciousness Discussed

Post by ColinByrne » Sat Mar 15, 2014 9:58 pm

Ginkgo wrote:My big toe is an example of matter in motion, yet it will never be conscious.
I am assuming that we are using the term "conscious" is the broadest way imaginable, but if we want a finer-grained approach, then we could use a term like "subconscious awareness", or a similar term, to represent all neuronal activity, whether related to external or internal stimulus or not. For instance, as you sit there, you may not be attending to how your left foot feels (well, not until you just read this sentence). This does not mean that your brain was not "subconsciously aware" of the stimulus coming in from your left foot, just that the information was not conscious at that moment. In the most simplistic terms, consciousness is a higher order function that screens out the extraneous information and only attends to what is relevant at the moment, an on-the-fly fluid experience that combines sensory information, internal dialogue, symbolic representation, proprioceptive sense, etc.

So, would your toe, or the digital camera be conscious in that sense? No. But certainly they would have "awareness" in the most rudimentary sense. Now, if we crank up the complexity--for instance, reconnecting that toe to central nervous system and brain, or connecting that camera output to a supercomputer--we have added layers of processing, data comparison, contextual analysis, etc., etc. and if we keep going, we eventually get a data overload. Now we add a system to only processes the meta-data that is the most salient at the moment and we get something like consciousness. This system may not even be aware of all the processing that is going on in the myriad of sub-systems that are feeding it information (for instance, it may recognize the letter "A", but have no idea how that data was processed, only that it was provided the information in a fraction of second). . . .

I agree that "emergence" doesn't explain the issue, the terms has the connotation of being a tautology: "it happens because it happens", that something that is complex will develop consciousness. However, the human brain, selected for through evolution, is not a random complex system, it has a purpose. And, I would assume, is something developed pretty early on; meaning, most animals on our chunk of the tree of life, have "consciousness" as well.

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Re: Consciousness Discussed

Post by Ginkgo » Sat Mar 15, 2014 11:13 pm

ColinByrne wrote:
I am assuming that we are using the term "conscious" is the broadest way imaginable, but if we want a finer-grained approach, then we could use a term like "subconscious awareness", or a similar term, to represent all neuronal activity, whether related to external or internal stimulus or not. For instance, as you sit there, you may not be attending to how your left foot feels (well, not until you just read this sentence). This does not mean that your brain was not "subconsciously aware" of the stimulus coming in from your left foot, just that the information was not conscious at that moment. In the most simplistic terms, consciousness is a higher order function that screens out the extraneous information and only attends to what is relevant at the moment, an on-the-fly fluid experience that combines sensory information, internal dialogue, symbolic representation, proprioceptive sense, etc.
Yes, I think you are perceptively correct. It is what the science tells us about consciousness.

ColinByrne wrote:
So, would your toe, or the digital camera be conscious in that sense? No. But certainly they would have "awareness" in the most rudimentary sense. Now, if we crank up the complexity--for instance, reconnecting that toe to central nervous system and brain, or connecting that camera output to a supercomputer--we have added layers of processing, data comparison, contextual analysis, etc., etc. and if we keep going, we eventually get a data overload. Now we add a system to only processes the meta-data that is the most salient at the moment and we get something like consciousness. This system may not even be aware of all the processing that is going on in the myriad of sub-systems that are feeding it information (for instance, it may recognize the letter "A", but have no idea how that data was processed, only that it was provided the information in a fraction of second). . . .
Yes, Just off the the of my head I think science tells us we have about 80 conscious moments per second.

I am not totally happy with the term, "awareness". I would like to take this up at the end of my post.

ColinByrne wrote:
I agree that "emergence" doesn't explain the issue, the terms has the connotation of being a tautology: "it happens because it happens", that something that is complex will develop consciousness. However, the human brain, selected for through evolution, is not a random complex system, it has a purpose. And, I would assume, is something developed pretty early on; meaning, most animals on our chunk of the tree of life, have "consciousness" as well.

I agree many things do,but it is difficult to determine. There are several tests that one can apply in order to try and determine if an animal is consciousness. Thomas Nagel came up with, "what is it like to be something?"

There is something that it is like to be you and me. There is something it is like to be my dog, or an elephant. Is there something it is like to be a starfish? No doubt debatable.

Is there something it is like to be a protozoa? Probably not. Despite the fact that the protozoa is only made up of only a few cells (perhaps only one cell) it appears to be able to find food, find a mate, reproduce and even appears to be able to learn. Rather than having "awareness" I think that it has knowledge and uses this knowledge to access information. Unfortunately, this hypothesis is not testable.

ColinByrne
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Re: Consciousness Discussed

Post by ColinByrne » Tue Mar 18, 2014 7:15 am

Ginkgo wrote:. . . .Is there something it is like to be a protozoa? Probably not. Despite the fact that the protozoa is only made up of only a few cells (perhaps only one cell) it appears to be able to find food, find a mate, reproduce and even appears to be able to learn. Rather than having "awareness" I think that it has knowledge and uses this knowledge to access information. Unfortunately, this hypothesis is not testable.
You bring up a good point which is that we don't seem to have a common means of conceptually thinking about these issues in a common way. When does an organism move from "sensing", to "aware", to "conscious", to "self-conscious", etc.?

If we are going to approach the issue from a bottom-up view (standard materialist approach), we start with atoms, then molecules, to single-cell organisms, to multi-cell organisms, to more and more complex systems over time, and we eventually to modern humans that develop complex concepts about consciousness itself and then try to work back, intuitively, to apply those concepts to other organism that are somewhere along that road of development. For instance, even bacteria have a quorum-sensing function (send out chemicals in their environment that, when reached, trigger all the bacteria in the area to do something), and this is easily called "communication", but the bacteria may have no idea of what is happening, they simply react to different environmental variables.

I'd be interested in how are using the word "knowledge" and what information they are accessing?

Ginkgo
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Re: Consciousness Discussed

Post by Ginkgo » Wed Mar 19, 2014 11:12 am

double post
Last edited by Ginkgo on Wed Mar 19, 2014 11:16 am, edited 1 time in total.

Ginkgo
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Re: Consciousness Discussed

Post by Ginkgo » Wed Mar 19, 2014 11:15 am

ColinByrne wrote:
You bring up a good point which is that we don't seem to have a common means of conceptually thinking about these issues in a common way. When does an organism move from "sensing", to "aware", to "conscious", to "self-conscious", etc.?


If we are going to approach the issue from a bottom-up view (standard materialist approach), we start with atoms, then molecules, to single-cell organisms, to multi-cell organisms, to more and more complex systems over time, and we eventually to modern humans that develop complex concepts about consciousness itself and then try to work back, intuitively, to apply those concepts to other organism that are somewhere along that road of development. For instance, even bacteria have a quorum-sensing function (send out chemicals in their environment that, when reached, trigger all the bacteria in the area to do something), and this is easily called "communication", but the bacteria may have no idea of what is happening, they simply react to different environmental variables.

I'd be interested in how are using the word "knowledge" and what information they are accessing?

Yes, there is no near linear explanation that we can employ that provides consistency. However, there are some markers we can locate. Apparently, animals such as dolphins and elephants are conscious of themselves. In other, words they can pass the mirror test--knowing that it is themselves they are looking at in a mirror. Many humans are unable to pass the mirror test below 2 years of age.



Yes, bacteria and many simple celled organisms ranging up to animals with a billion cells, basically don't know have consciousness in the way we would normally use the word. I have indoor plants and they have a tendency to bend their stems towards the windows. This is in no way a conscious decision on the part of the plants. They do it because it improves their chances of survival, natural selection at some stage during the evolutionary process favored this trait. Stewart Hameroff thinks that at some stage during the evolutionary process ,natural selection gave way to a selection process favoring simple organisms that were conscious. Hameroff claims this is a possible explanation for the Cambrian explosion.

As you are probably aware I have problems with the terms such as,"conscious", "awareness", "sensing" when it comes to simple organisms. To be honest, I am not all that happy with my term,"knowledge" as a substitute. I don't want to go into too many details about my thinking on how knowledge is related to information because Hameroff is much more interesting and reliable than myself when it comes to these matters.There is plenty of information available, because Hameroff has a theory to cover just about everything relating to consciousness. I will give you a brief example of how Hameroff proposes a solution to the problem of qualia.

Hameroff believes that qualia (what could be called information) is deeply embed in the space/time geometry of the universe at the most fundamental level. This basically leads to the conclusion that humans have experience, not because it is a product of brain working, but because qualia is a fundamental property of the universe. Obviously impossible to prove in any scientific way at this stage.

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Re: Consciousness Discussed

Post by Blaggard » Wed Mar 19, 2014 12:19 pm

Ginkgo wrote:
ColinByrne wrote:
You bring up a good point which is that we don't seem to have a common means of conceptually thinking about these issues in a common way. When does an organism move from "sensing", to "aware", to "conscious", to "self-conscious", etc.?


If we are going to approach the issue from a bottom-up view (standard materialist approach), we start with atoms, then molecules, to single-cell organisms, to multi-cell organisms, to more and more complex systems over time, and we eventually to modern humans that develop complex concepts about consciousness itself and then try to work back, intuitively, to apply those concepts to other organism that are somewhere along that road of development. For instance, even bacteria have a quorum-sensing function (send out chemicals in their environment that, when reached, trigger all the bacteria in the area to do something), and this is easily called "communication", but the bacteria may have no idea of what is happening, they simply react to different environmental variables.

I'd be interested in how are using the word "knowledge" and what information they are accessing?

Yes, there is no near linear explanation that we can employ that provides consistency. However, there are some markers we can locate. Apparently, animals such as dolphins and elephants are conscious of themselves. In other, words they can pass the mirror test--knowing that it is themselves they are looking at in a mirror. Many humans are unable to pass the mirror test below 2 years of age.
So are crows and almost all members of the Corvidus familly. Smart buggers science generally denotes intelligence in a rough body mass index to brain size, in which case crows are quite high on the list.
...[]Recent research has found some crow species capable of not only tool use but also tool construction[2] and meta-tool use. Crows are now considered to be among the world's most intelligent animals[3] with an encephalization quotient approaching that of some apes....[]

[]...As a group, crows show remarkable examples of intelligence. Natural history books from the 18th century recount an often-repeated, but unproven anecdote of "counting crows" — specifically a crow whose ability to count to five (or four in some versions) is established through a logic trap set by a farmer.[7][8] Crows and ravens often score very highly on intelligence tests. Certain species top the avian IQ scale.[9] Wild hooded crows in Israel have learned to use bread crumbs for bait-fishing.[10] Crows will engage in a kind of mid-air jousting, or air-"chicken" to establish pecking order. Crows have been found to engage in feats such as sports,[11] tool use, the ability to hide and store food across seasons, episodic-like memory, and the ability to use individual experience in predicting the behavior of environmental conspecifics.[12]

One species, the New Caledonian Crow, has also been intensively studied recently because of its ability to manufacture and use tools in the day-to-day search for food. On October 5, 2007, researchers from the University of Oxford, England, presented data acquired by mounting tiny video cameras on the tails of New Caledonian Crows. They pluck, smooth and bend twigs and grass stems to procure a variety of foodstuffs.[13][14] Crows in Queensland, Australia, have learned how to eat the toxic cane toad by flipping the cane toad on its back and violently stabbing the throat where the skin is thinner, allowing the crow to access the non-toxic innards; their long beaks ensure that all of the innards can be removed.[15][16]

The Jackdaw and the European Magpie have been found to have a nidopallium approximately the same relative size as the functionally equivalent neocortex in chimpanzees and humans, and significantly larger than is found in the gibbon.[17]

Crows have demonstrated the ability to distinguish individual humans by recognizing facial features.[18]

Evidence also suggests that they are one of the few non-human animals capable of displacement (linguistics) (communicating about things that are happening in a different spatial or temporal location to the here and now).[19][20]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crow
Yes, bacteria and many simple celled organisms ranging up to animals with a billion cells, basically don't know have consciousness in the way we would normally use the word. I have indoor plants and they have a tendency to bend their stems towards the windows. This is in no way a conscious decision on the part of the plants. They do it because it improves their chances of survival, natural selection at some stage during the evolutionary process favored this trait. Stewart Hameroff thinks that at some stage during the evolutionary process ,natural selection gave way to a selection process favoring simple organisms that were conscious. Hameroff claims this is a possible explanation for the Cambrian explosion.
Hameroff's theories are not widely accepted, but if there is some conscious quantum event it should be measurable, so he will have to do experiments.

Some plants have sense of smell and almost all a sense of touch, one could argue that plants have a rudimentary consciousness, they certainly can detect noise too in the same way they sense vibrations from wind etc. Phototropism is regulated by something approaching sight as well if you are being honest about the process, it's an autonomic response true but that does not detract from the fact that plants are at least conscious at a very basic level and not sentient obviously.

Do you know how for example plants know when to drop their leaves, it's not just light levels plants also sense temperature too, and when both light levels and temperatures reach a certain level a chemical process is triggered in the leaves. This would mimic some sort of sense of temperature. I don't know if you have noticed but Autumn seems to come much later than it did when I was a child, now the trees still have leaves in November and sometimes into December, which is also correlated with warmer winters in general in my neck of the woods. Yeah it's an evolutionary mechanism, but remaining at optimal photosynthesis for as many months as possible is certainly evidence of a sense if not a conscious one. They have a transport system for nutrients too which is very sensitive to input from both the leaves and roots, and roots are sensitive to all sorts of chemical changes in soil, some even are capable of nitrogen fixing in soil so as to better sustain future plant generations such as peas.
As you are probably aware I have problems with the terms such as,"conscious", "awareness", "sensing" when it comes to simple organisms. To be honest, I am not all that happy with my term,"knowledge" as a substitute. I don't want to go into too many details about my thinking on how knowledge is related to information because Hameroff is much more interesting and reliable than myself when it comes to these matters.There is plenty of information available, because Hameroff has a theory to cover just about everything relating to consciousness. I will give you a brief example of how Hameroff proposes a solution to the problem of qualia.

Hameroff believes that qualia (what could be called information) is deeply embed in the space/time geometry of the universe at the most fundamental level. This basically leads to the conclusion that humans have experience, not because it is a product of brain working, but because qualia is a fundamental property of the universe. Obviously impossible to prove in any scientific way at this stage.
This sounds like some sort of Buddhist philosophy but again if this is the case it aught to be provable at some future date.

Wyman
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Re: Consciousness Discussed

Post by Wyman » Wed Mar 19, 2014 5:21 pm

Gingko on protozoa-
Rather than having "awareness" I think that it has knowledge and uses this knowledge to access information. Unfortunately, this hypothesis is not testable.
and

colinbyrne -
even bacteria have a quorum-sensing function (send out chemicals in their environment that, when reached, trigger all the bacteria in the area to do something), and this is easily called "communication", but the bacteria may have no idea of what is happening, they simply react to different environmental variables.
The simple organisms 'react' to stimulus, but do not perceive - they do not have sense organs, so there is no 'screen' upon which they can look. We also react to stimulus in many ways, but we also perceive. That is one major difference in gradation.

The question is, is perception merely reaction to stimulus, or need there be a unifying mechanism that reacts to unified stimulus - i.e. something that does the unification and then reacts to it? (Simple organisms do not have to unify the influx of stimuli)

Cameras and computers unify stimulus and can react to the unification (yes?). Here is a question I have. Can a computer, after reacting to stimulus according to a protocol (programmed algorithm), then interpret future stimuli according to a different, self created algorithm? That is, can a computer interpret stimulus 'on its own?' That would seem to me to be at least another sticking point in the gradation from mechanical reaction to awareness or consciousness.

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