Consciousness

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Consciousness

Post by Cindy B. » Wed Jan 11, 2012 8:57 am

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I've thought about sharing these entries for a couple days given recent topics in the free will thread, but I didn't want to derail romansh's thread so have come here. Indeed discussions about "consciousness" are tantamount to opening a can of worms, yet food for thought is never wasted. Please serve up your favorites here. Yuk-yuk. (Or maybe yuck-yuck considering those worms... I shall stop now. :P )


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This 2009 documentary (1 hour) entitled The Secret You offers a look at current scientific trends in the field of consciousness studies and is very cool. The site's introductory text to the piece is something else, though, so I suggest ignoring it: http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/secret-you/

Also, consider watching this video before reading the article below then see what comes of it for you.


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Psychophysical Nature
Max Velmans, Ph.D. (2008)
http://cogprints.org/6109/1/Psychophysical_nature.pdf

Abstract. There are two quite distinct ways in which events that we normally think of as “physical” relate in an intimate way to events that we normally think of as “psychological”. One intimate relation occurs in exteroception at the point where events in the world become events as-perceived. The other intimate relationship occurs at the interface of conscious experience with its neural correlates in the brain. The [article] examines each of these relationships and positions them within a dual-aspect, reflexive model of how consciousness relates to the brain and external world. The [article] goes on to provide grounds for viewing mind and nature as fundamentally psychophysical, and examines similar views as well as differences in previously unpublished writings of Wolfgang Pauli, one of the founders of quantum mechanics.

Keywords. Physical, psychological, psychophysical, consciousness, mind, brain, reflexive model, reflexive monism, dualism, reductionism, dual-aspect, information, Pauli, psychological complementarity, physical complementarity, exclusive, nonexclusive, perception


For other papers by Velmans, a psychologist and philosopher of mind, go here and click on the Publications tab: http://www.gold.ac.uk/psychology/staff/velmans/


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FYI: Velmans's approach to consciousness falls within the philosophical domain of dual-aspect theories and is a "quantum approach to consciousness": http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/qt-consciousness/#4.6

Also, those interested in Jungian studies may be interested to know that Pauli, whose ideas Velman in part draws on, developed his theory espousing quantum complementarity in collaboration with Jung. Across the board you've seen me describe the archetype, for example, as "psychophysical," and the Jungian term "psychoid" refers to the same. Within the context of philosophy of mind, then, Jung's theory of mind is a type of dual-aspect monism, wherein the monistic source is the unus mundus.


Later!

Cindy
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If the path before you is clear, you’re probably on someone else’s. --Jung
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Post by ALOberhoulser » Wed Jan 11, 2012 10:35 am

Thanks for providing the frame, Cindy, for what might be another jcf masterpiece 8)

I will get to the links in a few days, but for now - thanks!!
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Post by Cindy B. » Wed Jan 11, 2012 11:02 am

My pleasure, Al. I'm looking forward to hearing everyone's thoughts about this topic. :)

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Post by jonsjourney » Wed Jan 11, 2012 11:58 am

Cool video...I look forward to seeing how this topic emerges.
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Post by Cindy B. » Wed Jan 11, 2012 12:15 pm

Jon,

I've had you in mind particularly re: the article, and given the recent discussion you initiated in romansh's thread about perception and dualism. One psychologist to another, eh. :)

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Post by jonsjourney » Wed Jan 11, 2012 12:19 pm

I hope to get some time later today to look at the article...watched the video this morning with my coffee and cereal. :)
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Post by ALOberhoulser » Thu Jan 12, 2012 4:42 am

Personally, I'm not from the school of thought where conscious = self aware. But, that might be connected to my religious beliefs.

I watched the first bit of the video, where the children are taking part in the experiment. Knowing this recognizable aspect of the first signs of self awareness is observable at 18 - 24 months I started reflecting on my own life experience - my father passed away when I was about 30 months old. Given that, my sense of self was shaped (according to what the research illustrates) along with a learned belief (for lack of a better term) in angels, heaven, God, and the afterlife.

I never have cared for the conscious = self aware terminology. I don't think that's consciousness. To me, consciousness would be something more ... like soul aware :D
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Post by honjaku » Thu Jan 12, 2012 7:03 am

I watched the entire video it seems to pretty much go over stuff discussed here. With regards to self-awareness well yes, humans are the only ones who go 'i am' and with that they also have to go 'oh crap', stories have to be invented to keep a person at peace with this, but somewhere along the way humans also discovered that there are ways to forget the 'I'. The soul awareness is one way, one form of healing.

But what was interesting was the bit about free will at the end. The disctinction between 'I' and 'my neurons' didn't seem that relevant as the scientist himself explains that it all makes up you. The discovery that you could in a laboratory setting, in a simple yes, no experiment read through brain imaging know what someone is going to chose before they themselves become aware of it was mildly interesting and did hint at some determinism.

But..this was interesting...in the wondering about free will, there was not a single thought given to the net of gems! The guy wonders if when he makes decisions it is him making it or his neurons, he does not wonder how much of his choice is a function of his social environment, the conditionings he has received, the culture he was born into, the historical circumstances that have shaped his environment and gave him the upbringing he got, or for that matter even the entire history from millions of years that has culminated in his being where he is a the moment with the perspective, questions and tastes he has at the moment. Why? Why doesn't he wonder about this? Wouldn't this be a significantly important thing to wonder? There does seem to be this implicit assumption made that he stands completely alone in his own space.
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Post by jonsjourney » Thu Jan 12, 2012 10:34 am

For those who cannot get enough resources...Al, this may mean you! :lol: ...here is a link to the website set up by Stuart Hameroff and Sir Roger Penrose. They are approaching the problem of consciousness from a quantum perspective...

http://www.journalofcosmology.com/Contents14.html

This site is...overwhelming...there is a LOT there for the taking.

Hameroff is the primary creator of the Consciousness Conference in Tuscon every other year.
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Velmans

Post by jonsjourney » Thu Jan 12, 2012 11:46 am

Ok...I am going to dare to sum up that article in two words and see if we can spark a little discussion...

Context Matters.

We can observe what is going on in the brains of others or in our own brain from an external third-person perspective (via exteroception, aided by a little physical equipment). And we naturally have first-person access to what it is like to have the experiences that accompany such observable brain activity. For many explanatory purposes we just need to switch from one perspective to the other at the appropriate place, and add the first-person to the third person story in an appropriate way. In psychophysics, for example, one can examine the neural causes and correlates of a given experience in the brain viewed from a third-person perspective. But to complete the causal story, one then has to switch to the subject’s first-person perspective to get an account of the perceptual effect. pg. 11
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Post by Cindy B. » Thu Jan 12, 2012 1:10 pm

And to add to what you said, Jon, re: the excerpt--the issue being addressed is the explanatory gap, or "the hard problem of consciousness," that arises whenever the discussion, whether scientific or philosophical, focuses on the relationship between mind and matter, or consciousness and brain, or however it's framed: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Explanatory_gap

I might add a bit to that summary, too, Jon. Ha!

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Post by jonsjourney » Thu Jan 12, 2012 2:01 pm

I might add a bit to that summary, too, Jon. Ha! -Cindy
That's what I am hoping folks will do! :wink:
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More resources.

Post by Cindy B. » Thu Jan 12, 2012 7:15 pm

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Post by honjaku » Fri Jan 13, 2012 3:39 am

This was also interesting, in the video there was the mirror test for seeing if a child recognizes themselves. But there are people who have lived without mirrors where mirrors didn't exist, like the eskimo tribes, the bushmen etc. People still have their 'I'.

But it is difficult to talk about consciousness without thinking about conditioning. While it is good to ask a child what they think, we do learn a significant amount through conditioning, unconsciously even. So then I'll mosey on to other threads.
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Post by jonsjourney » Fri Jan 13, 2012 12:36 pm

honjaku...

You raise a valid point about the methodology of this research. It assumes a western perspective implicitly, eg. that people use mirrors. Would the child have the same reaction upon first noticing their "self" in a pool of water? Would this be a startle reaction, as has been the fodder of so many comedic routines...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rdQ9jh5GvQ8

Now, this might be somewhat tangential, but maybe this kind of thing is funny because of the initial surprise of seeing "oneself" reflected in something. It puts the "I" outside of the thing doing the perceiving, yet the mimicking action is fully integrated (unlike my comedic example).

I still have those moments, almost everyday, where I see myself reflected in something and find it....odd. But only when it is somewhat unexpected...when I shave and brush my teeth, everything feels and appears "normal".

I believe this point you raised is one of the very interesting aspects of consciousness and "conscious reflection of one's self".
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