Author Topic: Consciousness  (Read 565 times)

Inlustratus

Consciousness
« on: March 28, 2019, 06:55:29 pm »
Why? How? Let's hear it.
*scary satanic text*

idgo

Re: Consciousness
« Reply #1 on: March 28, 2019, 09:42:11 pm »
All I can say for certain about "consciousness" is that it's a word. It's a word for a loosely related group of ideas about why people think and feel that they think and feel.

We can use other, more specific sets of words to think and feel that we're talking about exactly the same idea, despite the fact that we have no way to conclusively prove whether any two people are truly "thinking the same thing".

This is a problem intrinsic to all communication, but it has different degrees of impact at different levels of thought. Topics like mathematics tend to play in the shallow end of this ambiguity, by setting hideously many ground rules about how each term must be defined in its local usage. Unfortunately, disciplines like psychology and philosophy -- really most places where "consciousness" is discussed -- tend to fall at the opposite extreme. If you pinned down every term in such a discussion, you could get a conclusive answer, but that answer would necessarily only apply to the tiny part of human experience for which the prior definitions you'd chosen held true.

Onyx

Re: Consciousness
« Reply #2 on: April 04, 2019, 08:18:48 pm »
I featured this thread on the main site because as simple as the questions are, it seems unlikely that the responses will be. When it comes to this sort of stuff it is difficult to for me to formulate complete opinions, but I'll throw out a few random thoughts.

I might define consciousness as the actual experience of a steady stream of information flow. But does the consciousness equate to the mind?

The idea of cybernetics is that of a feedback loop between man and machine, the interaction causing mutual changes in both. Is the "mind" really confined to the carnal brain? A modern computer might be considered a mature remanifestation of a simple abacus. We often find our own inventions to be our best instructors and sources of inspiration. Therefore while progress is being made by neuroscience toward understanding the role of the brain in all of this, what actually constitutes a "mind" seems rather intractable to define.

As to the "why", theories abound. Conventional religions teach that through good behavior and submission, there is a sporting chance to achieve nirvana or enter through the pearly gates. The alternative is to be sent to the principal's office or detention after school. By contrast, auto-theism is about sitting upon one's own throne of consciousness versus kneeling before that of another.

« Last Edit: April 04, 2019, 08:28:52 pm by Onyx »

Etu Malku

Re: Consciousness
« Reply #3 on: April 04, 2019, 11:27:20 pm »
Consciousness simply is the awareness of the objective universe through one or more of the senses.  :huh:
IAMTHATIAMNOT

Xepera maSet

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Re: Consciousness
« Reply #4 on: April 04, 2019, 11:56:17 pm »
Say "I exist". That I is your consciousness, part of your mind and part of or identical to your soul. It IS you, at least the aware part. So consciousness can also be understood as awareness, experience.

I think consciousness is fundamental, one this either to arise from chaos or possibly the ground of all reality.

"That which bends, break it down
That which breaks, burn it down
That which withers, seal its tomb"
- Junius

Liu

Re: Consciousness
« Reply #5 on: April 05, 2019, 05:53:44 am »
Consciousness is awareness/subjectivity, i.e. that what experiences the thoughts and perceptions of a given mind.

It's distinct from both the content of the mind and from the objective universe.

I assume it is a fundamental part of existence and at least potentially in everything.

It influences the content of the mind at least in so far as the mind can contain thoughts about the existence of consciousness (else we couldn't have discussions like this).
« Last Edit: April 05, 2019, 06:00:25 am by Liu »

Xepera maSet

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Re: Consciousness
« Reply #6 on: April 05, 2019, 02:08:08 pm »
Yes, I realize now mind can't be consciousness. It includes the unconscious. I think consciousness may be the soul, and subconsciousness they body.

"That which bends, break it down
That which breaks, burn it down
That which withers, seal its tomb"
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idgo

Re: Consciousness
« Reply #7 on: April 08, 2019, 02:10:38 am »
Say "I exist". That I is your consciousness, part of your mind and part of or identical to your soul. It IS you, at least the aware part. So consciousness can also be understood as awareness, experience.

Code: [Select]
user@host$ echo "I exist"
I exist

My computer just said "I exist", because I told it to!

If my saying "I exist" because you told me to proves that I have consciousness, then my computer has exactly the same amount of consciousness!

Considering that my computer does not appear to experience pain or love or memory or aspiration in the ways that most users of the word "consciousness" would expect a conscious entity to do, I would contend that your definition is more tightly constrained than would be broadly useful in discussing the human experience.

Inlustratus

Re: Consciousness
« Reply #8 on: April 08, 2019, 12:50:52 pm »
If my saying "I exist" because you told me to proves that I have consciousness, then my computer has exactly the same amount of consciousness!

Technology really is amazing!

If we're going to go with "I exist" thing, just saying it is far from understanding and meaning it. If your computer turned it self on and said "I exist" without anyone's input that would maybe be consciousness.
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Xepera maSet

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Re: Consciousness
« Reply #9 on: April 08, 2019, 02:38:04 pm »
I mean your computer does it exist, so if it can indeed recognize its existence then yeah, that shows it has consciousness. I feel like that's what AI is.

"That which bends, break it down
That which breaks, burn it down
That which withers, seal its tomb"
- Junius

idgo

Re: Consciousness
« Reply #10 on: April 08, 2019, 05:10:49 pm »
My relationship with philosophy is such that I place greater value on insights which change the world, and less value on insights whose addition makes no perceptible change in or improvement to our behavior or reasoning. For instance, whether scurvy is caused by the presence of contaminants in food or the absence of certain nutrients in it is an immensely useful question to answer by this standard.

Unfortunately, redefining the term "is conscious" to mean "exists and can transfer knowledge of its existence to a given human mind" seems relatively useless by that standard. Perhaps such a definition would be handy in differentiating between things which we can infer to exist but cannot directly perceive, versus those we can perceive.  A stranger with whom I share no languages in common, who says "I exist" in a tongue I cannot comprehend, is less "conscious" by this rubric than the laptop computer reciting a string of characters on command.

Xepera, could you help me understand how you find this definition of "consciousness" to be more useful or more actionable than its alternatives?

Liu

Re: Consciousness
« Reply #11 on: April 08, 2019, 06:17:03 pm »
I would argue that it's impossible to prove to anyone else that one is conscious.

One can only know it about oneself, based on one having subjective experiences. Everyone else might be an illusion or a robot.