The Cartesian Theatre - What Is It?

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

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Greylorn Ell
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Re: The Cartesian Theatre - What Is It?

Post by Greylorn Ell » Thu Nov 26, 2015 4:58 am

Obvious Leo wrote:Clueless. I would highly recommend the work of Antonio Damasio when it comes to a scholarly analysis of consciousness. His primary field is in neuroscience but he is very well schooled in many of the related disciplines and I also regard him highly as a philosopher. I'm not sure how many books he's written but I have three of them and I'm fairly sure there are a few others. The three I have are all very insightful.

"Descartes Error: Emotion, Reason and the Human Brain"

"Looking for Spinoza: Joy, Sorrow and the Feeling Brain"

"Self Comes to Mind: Constructing the Conscious Brain"

The last of these works I found particularly helpful for my own work, which is in the field of non-linear dynamic systems theory.

Ignore Greylorn. He sometimes has something useful to say but he's a relentless mystic with the manners of a pig.
And in return, I could say, Ignore Obvious Leo because he is a relentless purveyor of commonly held scientist beliefs, with the imagination of a pig. Except that pigs are relatively intelligent, according to those who think that studying critters will lead us to an understanding of ourselves.

Thank you for acknowledging that I might offer some useful comments. Why not get a pair of balls and discuss those with me?

Indeed, I'm not conventionally mannered, but I can perform well enough in public to confuse observers. Forums like this are more interesting because I do not need to perform. I can simply offer my ideas and see if anyone finds them interesting.

It's like going fishing, except that when fishing, you only get to catch an animal stupid enough to be caught. Here, I'm fishing for intelligence. It's a hard find.

Pretend for a moment that you are objective. What difference does it make to you, a pretentious asshole, if a useful idea comes from another pretentious asshole? A useful idea must stand on its own, or fall. The assholes are not relevant to their ideas.

In whatever spare time you might have from episodes of verbal diarrhea, kindly explain to me why you think that you, someone who believes in Big Bang theory (the universe came from nothing) and Darwinism (nevermind the ridiculous odds and the total absence of an abiogenesis explanation), ideas which cannot define their beginnings, gets arrogant enough to label someone who insists that all aspects of the universe can only be explained from experimentally and empirically observed phenomena is a "mystic?" Let me guess. Could it be because you are incapable of understanding anything I've written because you filter it through your programmed beliefs? Or could it be because you are fundamentally a well-programmed brain, programmed with filters, within which whatever passes in you for mind serves only to propagate the teachings with which it has been programmed? Or could it be because at the most fundamental level of mind, you don't have one?

Obvious Leo
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Re: The Cartesian Theatre - What Is It?

Post by Obvious Leo » Thu Nov 26, 2015 5:51 am

I'll assume you're addressing me, Greylorn, although you were less than precise. You may think of me what you will because I am immune to insult from the likes of you but you must not misrepresent my words. I support Big Bang Theory but I have made it abundantly clear that I do not regard the Big Bang as the beginning of the universe. I also support evolutionary theory but have always stressed that both Darwinism and neo-Darwinism are inadequate models to describe self-determining systems. However I have no interest in debating either of these propositions with you because you're a fucking fruitloop. I am merely setting the record straight.

clueless
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Re: The Cartesian Theatre - What Is It?

Post by clueless » Thu Nov 26, 2015 6:43 pm

Greylorn

Thanks for your advice and assessment.

My comment concerning your unprofessorial behavior was in reference to your derogatory remarks, and nothing more. I assumed you were/are a professor based on the quality of your writing.

Behavioral psychology studies behavior, not psyche. The curriculum includes courses in sensation and perception, neuropsychology, and, yes, even philosophy.

What are you so angry?

Greylorn Ell
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Re: The Cartesian Theatre - What Is It?

Post by Greylorn Ell » Fri Nov 27, 2015 2:38 am

Obvious Leo wrote:I'll assume you're addressing me, Greylorn, although you were less than precise. You may think of me what you will because I am immune to insult from the likes of you but you must not misrepresent my words. I support Big Bang Theory but I have made it abundantly clear that I do not regard the Big Bang as the beginning of the universe. I also support evolutionary theory but have always stressed that both Darwinism and neo-Darwinism are inadequate models to describe self-determining systems. However I have no interest in debating either of these propositions with you because you're a fucking fruitloop. I am merely setting the record straight.
O. Leo;

I'm wondering what you fancy as non-precise about a comment to you that is prefaced by your quote. What must I do to make it precise? Perhaps, I could precede my comments with, O. Glorious and Brilliant Leo? But I won't. You were just smart enough to figure out that I'd replied to you, and you alone, but then went into some bullshit pretentious mode. I've only seen that happen in one type of person, so thank you for the clue.

You'll be delighted to know that after a year or so of fruitless communications, I've finally figured you out. It should have been obvious from the get-go, but I'm a slow thinker.

You always take some kind of pseudo-intellectual high ground when criticized. You never explain your fundamental positions, yet expect others to know what they are. You bitch, whine, and criticize freely, but never gather up the balls to engage an argument.

O. Leo, you're a woman!


Greylorn, a.k.a. Sherlock

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PauloL
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Re: The Cartesian Theatre - What Is It?

Post by PauloL » Wed Aug 30, 2017 10:06 pm

Graeme M wrote:
Tue Aug 04, 2015 3:52 am
This comes late, but I think it's current enough to deserve commenting.

Cartesian theatre is something coined by Dennett to deride Descartes work. Descartes never told about such a fantasy only Dennett could fabricate.

Dennett oversimplifies things and can't explain how consciousness accedes some images and not others. Saying that a probe occurs is meaningless (*).

To illustrate your question, you have people who become blind after suffering a bilateral occipital stroke. Their eyes and optical nerves are intact, but once they lost visual cortex they can no longer see. However they have residual, although unconscious, vision, so-called blindsight. This allows them to avoid objects while walking even if don't see anything and don't even know why they walked around an obstacle. Blindsight is probably mediated by fibers that bypass visual cortex and travel from the optic nerve to the colliculi on brainstem. It's unconscious because it fails to connect to the self and no one can tell if this vision is coloured, gray scale, or just black and white (or anything else).

It's quite intriguing indeed how visual cortex communicates with neural self so that we are conscious of what is reflected in retina, a capability missed by colliculi. Descartes raised the question how the physical world communicates with the cogito and put his head on the chopping block for the amigdala (something so dear to physicalists who would readily strike the axe). The question, however, remains unanswered and Neuroscience couldn't help by replacing the cogito with the neural self, something quite modern indeed, but as undefined materially as the cogito itself. Adding a probe here is pure nonsense.

(*) Dennett is perhaps making an analogy with something in your sight that you don't pay attention until some moment, and then concentrate on that. This is quite a childish analogy as your neural self accedes the sight at all times, before and after you pay attention to a particular thing and so no "probe" can explain why the neural self accedes the sight at any time in the first instance.

Greylorn Ell
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Re: The Cartesian Theatre - What Is It?

Post by Greylorn Ell » Sun Nov 18, 2018 10:48 pm

In my reading, Descartes committed to the pineal gland. The amygdala had not been anatomically defined in his day.

Do you have a definition of the "neural self," or any locus of what passes in us for consciousness?

Greylorn

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bahman
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Re: The Cartesian Theatre - What Is It?

Post by bahman » Mon Nov 19, 2018 10:21 pm

Graeme M wrote:
Tue Aug 04, 2015 3:52 am
I recently began tackling the question of mind and how it arises from the brain. I'm always pressed for free time but have made a start reading articles on the web. My first serious book on the subject is Consciousness Explained by Daniel Dennett.

Given my relatively early stage of understanding about the consciousness question, I've found Dennett's book tough going. In particular, I'm struggling with what appears to me a central dichotomy of definition. I'm hoping someone can clarify for me.
Let's see if I can help it.
Graeme M wrote:
Tue Aug 04, 2015 3:52 am
Dennett presents his Multiple Drafts model in which he argues against what he terms the Cartesian Theatre - the idea that there is some central stage or place where the outcomes of experience arise in a comprehensible form for consciousness to observe. He suggests that events in the brain are spatially and temporally smeared across the neural substrates concerned and only when a probe occurs does a particular event arise to the level of consciousness.
I use mind instead of consciousness as an entity which can observe and cause. Regardless mind cannot be result of neural activity. I have an argument for that. Suppose that mind is the result of neural activity which it cannot be more than a mental state. The subject of experience also is the result of neural activity which is another mental state. It is just absurd to say that a mental state observe another mental state since a mental state is not an entity. Therefore there is no room for mind in materialism.
Graeme M wrote:
Tue Aug 04, 2015 3:52 am
While I follow that, I don't see exactly how he can argue there is no privileged internal observer and yet have mental events visible in consciousness. Consciousness itself must be that privileged observer else we should not have any conscious awareness of our experiences, or so it seems to me.
There is another possibility. Think of experience as an event which happens in your brain. There is no need for an observer in this case. The key question is then what is the purpose of consciousness. One can argue that conscious state is necessary since that is the only way that brain can memorizes concepts.
Graeme M wrote:
Tue Aug 04, 2015 3:52 am
Clearly I misunderstand what he means.
Yes, I think.
Graeme M wrote:
Tue Aug 04, 2015 3:52 am
To explain a little more clearly, his current approximation is what he calls Fame in the Brain. Events in the brain play out and multiple 'drafts' of experience are prepared, but it is only when a proble occurs (ie the focus of attention is placed on an aspect of the experiential stream) that a particular draft becomes elevated in priority such that it modifies behaviour and leaves its traces in memory.
It seems to me that he doesn't believe in mind and think of consciousness as a mere event.
Graeme M wrote:
Tue Aug 04, 2015 3:52 am
Yet clearly the observed or consciously experienced draft is observed by some thing. Even if this does not happen immediately and depends on memory fixation of behavioural responses, surely it still implies a central observer. If there is NO observer to form the narrative explanation of those events, then there is no ME.
No, it doesn't need an observer.
Graeme M wrote:
Tue Aug 04, 2015 3:52 am
Similarly I do not see how only events that rise to conscious awareness and thence memory are reportable. We act in many ways without conscious thought - for example during an animated discussion over dinner I reach for the salt. My focus is on the discussion and the salt reaching is something of an automatic act, or at least it is an act beneath conscious consideration, and yet I remain aware that I did it. Even if I am not aware that I did it, it was an act of conscious appreciation of my world. Being so inconsequential, or perhaps mundane, the act does not remain in memory for long (it does not achieve 'Fame') yet it cannot have been anything other than a conscious act (or perhaps more exactly an act of consciousness).
Yes. You are correct with your observation.
Graeme M wrote:
Tue Aug 04, 2015 3:52 am
It seems to me that much of my everyday life involves events - mental events - that result in behavioural outcomes and yet which are not directly conscious in the form that Dennett is proposing.

Can anyone shed light on where I am going wrong in appreciating Dennett's model?
I hope that things are clear now.

Greylorn Ell
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Re: The Cartesian Theatre - What Is It?

Post by Greylorn Ell » Tue Nov 20, 2018 4:08 am

bahman wrote:
Mon Nov 19, 2018 10:21 pm
Graeme M wrote:
Tue Aug 04, 2015 3:52 am
I recently began tackling the question of mind and how it arises from the brain. I'm always pressed for free time but have made a start reading articles on the web. My first serious book on the subject is Consciousness Explained by Daniel Dennett.

Given my relatively early stage of understanding about the consciousness question, I've found Dennett's book tough going. In particular, I'm struggling with what appears to me a central dichotomy of definition. I'm hoping someone can clarify for me.
Let's see if I can help it.
Graeme M wrote:
Tue Aug 04, 2015 3:52 am
Dennett presents his Multiple Drafts model in which he argues against what he terms the Cartesian Theatre - the idea that there is some central stage or place where the outcomes of experience arise in a comprehensible form for consciousness to observe. He suggests that events in the brain are spatially and temporally smeared across the neural substrates concerned and only when a probe occurs does a particular event arise to the level of consciousness.
I use mind instead of consciousness as an entity which can observe and cause. Regardless mind cannot be result of neural activity. I have an argument for that. Suppose that mind is the result of neural activity which it cannot be more than a mental state. The subject of experience also is the result of neural activity which is another mental state. It is just absurd to say that a mental state observe another mental state since a mental state is not an entity. Therefore there is no room for mind in materialism.
Graeme M wrote:
Tue Aug 04, 2015 3:52 am
While I follow that, I don't see exactly how he can argue there is no privileged internal observer and yet have mental events visible in consciousness. Consciousness itself must be that privileged observer else we should not have any conscious awareness of our experiences, or so it seems to me.
There is another possibility. Think of experience as an event which happens in your brain. There is no need for an observer in this case. The key question is then what is the purpose of consciousness. One can argue that conscious state is necessary since that is the only way that brain can memorizes concepts.
Graeme M wrote:
Tue Aug 04, 2015 3:52 am
Clearly I misunderstand what he means.
Yes, I think.
Graeme M wrote:
Tue Aug 04, 2015 3:52 am
To explain a little more clearly, his current approximation is what he calls Fame in the Brain. Events in the brain play out and multiple 'drafts' of experience are prepared, but it is only when a proble occurs (ie the focus of attention is placed on an aspect of the experiential stream) that a particular draft becomes elevated in priority such that it modifies behaviour and leaves its traces in memory.
It seems to me that he doesn't believe in mind and think of consciousness as a mere event.
Graeme M wrote:
Tue Aug 04, 2015 3:52 am
Yet clearly the observed or consciously experienced draft is observed by some thing. Even if this does not happen immediately and depends on memory fixation of behavioural responses, surely it still implies a central observer. If there is NO observer to form the narrative explanation of those events, then there is no ME.
No, it doesn't need an observer.
Graeme M wrote:
Tue Aug 04, 2015 3:52 am
Similarly I do not see how only events that rise to conscious awareness and thence memory are reportable. We act in many ways without conscious thought - for example during an animated discussion over dinner I reach for the salt. My focus is on the discussion and the salt reaching is something of an automatic act, or at least it is an act beneath conscious consideration, and yet I remain aware that I did it. Even if I am not aware that I did it, it was an act of conscious appreciation of my world. Being so inconsequential, or perhaps mundane, the act does not remain in memory for long (it does not achieve 'Fame') yet it cannot have been anything other than a conscious act (or perhaps more exactly an act of consciousness).
Yes. You are correct with your observation.
Graeme M wrote:
Tue Aug 04, 2015 3:52 am
It seems to me that much of my everyday life involves events - mental events - that result in behavioural outcomes and yet which are not directly conscious in the form that Dennett is proposing.

Can anyone shed light on where I am going wrong in appreciating Dennett's model?
I hope that things are clear now.
You made the mistake of regarding Dennet's atheistic paradigm as useful, disregarding the large body of experimental evidence in the field of parapsychology that it fails to explain. You clowns are preaching to the same out of tune choir.

Greylorn

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