Register to reply

How does the EGO form?

by Chaos' lil bro Order
Tags: form
Share this thread:
Chaos' lil bro Order
#19
Nov24-06, 06:10 AM
P: 683
I find it hard to believe that bicameral consciousness had an attribute such as 'hearing voices', while modern consciousnesses do not. Perhaps the 'hearing voices' or the bicameral is the inner monologue of the modern, but unrealized at the time.

If you are a materialist like me, inner monologue is not a wonderous notion at all. Its the fundamental attribute of the consciousness. In fact without it, one becomes reduced to instinct or extremely primitive non-linguistic 'thought'. Even considering the possibility of an inner monologue without language seems to me to be impossible, if not an excercise sure to drive you mad! :)
RVBuckeye
#20
Nov25-06, 01:34 PM
RVBuckeye's Avatar
P: 174
Selfadjoint,
My confusion about different make-up of modern and bicameral brains was due to the end of page 8 in the lecture I posted. He referenced "it coincides with the astonishing development of the particular areas of the brain involved in language". I see now he was pointing out archeological evidence for the date when language evolved. Not when consciousness began. Although on his website they refer to "split-brain" patients as evidence supporting his theory. (which still casues me some confusion)

Order,
I've visited the website and did some further reading on his theory. If you use the definitions Jaynes uses for:

Consciousness: applies primarily to what is felt within oneself
Awareness: applies to that which is percieved as without

I understand him to be saying that the bicameral man, as modern schitzophrenics, couldn't/didn't make that distinction. In a question/answer session after the lecture I posted in post #8, he later answers a question posed to him:
To say this another way: A child from bicameral times brought up in our culture would be normally conscious, while a modern child if brought up in the Ur of 3000 B.C. under the sovereignty of Marduk in his giginu in the great ziggurat would be bicameral.
Things I agree with
*how he defines conciousness in his lecture, which didn't allow consciousness to protozoa or other animals.
*that consciousness is not necessary for learning
*not necessary for thinking/reasoning
*it is dependent on language and metaphor
*if true, could explain the history of religion (which is of particular interest to me)

I'm just a little dissapointed, not that he doesn't provide a mechanism, but it seems like it adds nothing to the nature/nurture debate. I feel like I've been left hanging. Not that it isn't plausible or fit the data. (anyway, that's all for today. I'm being shushed off the computer)
Chaos' lil bro Order
#21
Nov25-06, 07:05 PM
P: 683
Quote Quote by RVBuckeye View Post
Selfadjoint,
My confusion about different make-up of modern and bicameral brains was due to the end of page 8 in the lecture I posted. He referenced "it coincides with the astonishing development of the particular areas of the brain involved in language". I see now he was pointing out archeological evidence for the date when language evolved. Not when consciousness began. Although on his website they refer to "split-brain" patients as evidence supporting his theory. (which still casues me some confusion)

Order,
I've visited the website and did some further reading on his theory. If you use the definitions Jaynes uses for:

Consciousness: applies primarily to what is felt within oneself
Awareness: applies to that which is percieved as without

I understand him to be saying that the bicameral man, as modern schitzophrenics, couldn't/didn't make that distinction. In a question/answer session after the lecture I posted in post #8, he later answers a question posed to him:


Things I agree with
*how he defines conciousness in his lecture, which didn't allow consciousness to protozoa or other animals.
*that consciousness is not necessary for learning
*not necessary for thinking/reasoning
*it is dependent on language and metaphor
*if true, could explain the history of religion (which is of particular interest to me)

I'm just a little dissapointed, not that he doesn't provide a mechanism, but it seems like it adds nothing to the nature/nurture debate. I feel like I've been left hanging. Not that it isn't plausible or fit the data. (anyway, that's all for today. I'm being shushed off the computer)
Very nice post.

I'm a bit confused about the 'consciousness is not necessary for thinking/reasoning' bit. If one defines consciousness as: 'applies primarily to what is felt within oneself', which he did, I'd be curious to understand how he can say an animal (which he says does not have a consciousness) can think/reason, yet cannot 'feel within himself'. One answer to this I thought of would be that the animal can think about his external environment, but cannot think about how that environment relates to himself. Eg. A bird migrates and thinks about landmarks, but does not think 'I need to turn left at that mountain'.

Personally I take issue with this notion. I think animals, especially mammals are conscious and self aware. I also think they have inner monologues. I don't think one can seperate thoughts about an external environment from thoughts about one's internal dialogue about this environment.

What do you think about this?
selfAdjoint
#22
Nov25-06, 08:47 PM
Emeritus
PF Gold
P: 8,147
Quote Quote by Chaos' lil bro Order View Post
Very nice post.

I'm a bit confused about he 'consciousness is not necessary for thinking/reasoning' bit. If one defines consciousness as: 'applies primarily to what is felt within oneself', which he did, I'd be curious to understand how he can say an animal (which he says does not have a consciousness) can think/reason, yet cannot 'feel within himself'. One answer to this I thought of would be that the animal can think about his external environment, but cannot think about how that environment relates to himself. Eg. A bird migrates and thinks about landmarks, but does not think 'I need to turn left at that mountain'.

Personally I take issue with this notion. I think animals, especially mammals are conscious and self aware. I also think they have inner monologues. I don't think one can seperate thoughts about an external environment from thoughts about one's internal dialogue about this environment.

What do you think about this?
Did you ever go to sleep with an unsolved math or programming problem in your head, and sleep without dreams that you can remember, and wake up with the answer clear in your mind? I have, and I think that experience is close to what happens in an animal when it solves some problem in its life, like how to get back to its den without being attacked by a predator.
Chaos' lil bro Order
#23
Nov26-06, 12:24 AM
P: 683
Quote Quote by selfAdjoint View Post
Did you ever go to sleep with an unsolved math or programming problem in your head, and sleep without dreams that you can remember, and wake up with the answer clear in your mind? I have, and I think that experience is close to what happens in an animal when it solves some problem in its life, like how to get back to its den without being attacked by a predator.
Its a little off topic, but yes I've shared in your experience. For me it was studying for exams before I went to bed. I'd awake suddenly to a loud noise and find that I'm repeating my study notes in my head like a mantra. Over and over again like a song in my head that I can't shake. That's why I always studied before bed, because it was like I'd get 6 extra hours of unstressful studying while asleep.

I think your experience of unconsiously assembling the answer to a conscious problem is a very interesting and it reminds me of Einstein's famous naps where he'd go into a light sleep with a difficult problem on his minds and wake up with a crystallized solution. Self is Einstein incarnate? hmmm.
RVBuckeye
#24
Nov26-06, 11:15 AM
RVBuckeye's Avatar
P: 174
Quote Quote by Chaos' lil bro Order View Post
I think your experience of unconsiously assembling the answer to a conscious problem is a very interesting and it reminds me of Einstein's famous naps where he'd go into a light sleep with a difficult problem on his minds and wake up with a crystallized solution. Self is Einstein incarnate? hmmm.
This is what is referred to as "imageless thought" and is the point Jaynes was making that consciousness is not necessary for thinking/reasoning. It's a controversial subject but has lead to advances in areas such as artificial intelligence.
Personally I take issue with this notion. I think animals, especially mammals are conscious and self aware. I also think they have inner monologues. I don't think one can seperate thoughts about an external environment from thoughts about one's internal dialogue about this environment.
If you follow Jaynes rationalle and use his explanations of what consciousness is, and what it isn't, then it follows that animals are not conscious. Didn't you say: "Even considering the possibility of an inner monologue without language seems to me to be impossible, if not an excercise sure to drive you mad!" I have yet to see another animal, other than a human, getting together after a long day of work, discussing the days events.
Chaos' lil bro Order
#25
Dec1-06, 02:46 AM
P: 683
Quote Quote by RVBuckeye View Post
This is what is referred to as "imageless thought" and is the point Jaynes was making that consciousness is not necessary for thinking/reasoning. It's a controversial subject but has lead to advances in areas such as artificial intelligence.

If you follow Jaynes rationalle and use his explanations of what consciousness is, and what it isn't, then it follows that animals are not conscious. Didn't you say: "Even considering the possibility of an inner monologue without language seems to me to be impossible, if not an excercise sure to drive you mad!" I have yet to see another animal, other than a human, getting together after a long day of work, discussing the days events.

Hmm. 'Imageless thought', can you give me a concrete example of this please.

I think that thinking/reasoning can only be done by the conscious. You may then say, 'but your example of solving problems in a nap is an example of thinking/reasoning while unconscious'. To which I would reply, that even while asleep, a remnant of your conscious is not completely sedated. If you don't believe me, can you think of a dream where you had to make a conscious decision while in the dream? For me, I can think of several. And these are not whacky non-sensical decisions, many of them are rational and logical decisions just like the one's you would make while awake and conscious. I'm not alone in this either, after talking to many friends with similar moments of logic in an otherwise chaotic dreamscape, I think its fair to say that a small portion of the conscious is present in many dreams (if not all).


You said:

'I have yet to see another animal, other than a human, getting together after a long day of work, discussing the days events'

I don't see how this disproves that:

"Even considering the possibility of an inner monologue without language seems to me to be impossible, if not an excercise sure to drive you mad!"


Please explain your point hear, I'm not following your argument about why human's recapping a work day means that we are conscious, while animals who do not discuss such events (so far as we know) are not conscious. If that wasn't your argument, I've completely misunderstood it, so how about a follow up on this. Thanks.




PS. Would you consider this sentence imageless thought?

'It is over there.'
RVBuckeye
#26
Dec1-06, 03:28 PM
RVBuckeye's Avatar
P: 174
Quote Quote by Chaos' lil bro Order View Post
Hmm. 'Imageless thought', can you give me a concrete example of this please.
Well, the example Jaynes used was the work of Karl Marbe, who had his colleages choose which of two objects were heavier by looking at them. They were able to make their decision without any "mental" images at all. (as reported by them). You can try it for yourself and come to your own conclusion. Another example would be our ability to carry on a conversation in everyday life. The words that I utter are not always consciously chosen, but rather seem to come directly from my sub-conscious. Or, how I know that my car keys are sitting on my kitchen counter. (I don't have to "see" keys, my kitchen counter, or anything else for that matter to know they are there.
Anyway, I don't think you will find a person that will deny that we humans can form mental images. And that they are useful. The point is whether or not it is a necessary condition for thinking/reasoning. You may disagree, which is why it is a controversial subject. I'm not completely sold on the idea either, I merely said I liked it. (it makes sense to me). I do believe there is imageless thought. Oh, another thing that comes to mind is a turing test, and whether that implies that a computer thinks in images. (that was not an imageless thought, btw )

I think that thinking/reasoning can only be done by the conscious. You may then say, 'but your example of solving problems in a nap is an example of thinking/reasoning while unconscious'. To which I would reply, that even while asleep, a remnant of your conscious is not completely sedated. If you don't believe me, can you think of a dream where you had to make a conscious decision while in the dream? For me, I can think of several. And these are not whacky non-sensical decisions, many of them are rational and logical decisions just like the one's you would make while awake and conscious. I'm not alone in this either, after talking to many friends with similar moments of logic in an otherwise chaotic dreamscape, I think its fair to say that a small portion of the conscious is present in many dreams (if not all).
Dreams are a topic that interests me alot, and when talking about dreams it's important to talk about memory, which is far from infallible. It's just hard to generalize or lump all dreams in one category or the other. I'll refrain from adding anything further here as not to go off topic.

Please explain your point here, I'm not following your argument about why human's recapping a work day means that we are conscious, while animals who do not discuss such events (so far as we know) are not conscious. If that wasn't your argument, I've completely misunderstood it, so how about a follow up on this. Thanks.
It's not important to this discussion, really. I'm not trying to prove anything. It was merely making the distinction between, and the importance of, language in consciousness. I just don't buy the notion that other animals are conscious for precisely that reason. I just thought it was odd that you seemingly do. Entertaining the notion of animals being conscious is reasoning by analogy.
P.S. Would you consider this sentence imageless thought?

'It is over there.'
I "see" your ruse I guess it could be if I was making that statement and knew what "it" was.

Hopefully I made a little sense, as I am currently on pain medication and am feeling a bit loopy. Anyway, I'm enjoyning our conversation here and hopefully we can get more back to your topic. Firstly, I'm interested to know what you think about infants having some sort of 'innate' sense of self. I have a 4 year old and I don't think many people here don't classify psychology as a hard science, I'm often impressed with how closely my sons' development fit the theories thusfar.
Chaos' lil bro Order
#27
Dec1-06, 10:44 PM
P: 683
About the animals not being conscious bit. What does modern psychology say about this? Are chimpanzees not using their conscious when they use their saliva on a twig to probe for termites? How about a grizzly bear that teaches its cub how to swat salmon out of a fast river, does this not require conscious thought by the cub? I don't think you can chalk these examples up to instinct. These are taught behaviours and as such, require the learner to imitate the actions of the teacher. Or do these animals unknowingly imitate their teachers like mere photocopying machines?

I am thinking that 'imageless thought' is confined to the very highest regions of language, the regions that only humans have advanced into. Namely words like: 'the' 'is' 'it'. These words are generalizations devoid of imagery.

I'm going out on a limb here, but I suspect animals deal purely with 'imagefull thought'. Consider a crude example: A jaguar in the rainforest sees a thorny bush and recalls from experience that this bush, if walked into, will hurt him. The jaguar's 'internal monlogue' is that he sees the familiar outline of the bush and its leaves and thorns (edge detection), and he remembers that if he walks into this bush that its thorns will hurt him. But IMO, I don't think the jaguar says to himself, 'that's the thorny bush that in my past, when I walked into it, its thorns cut into my skin and it hurt.' IMO its more likely that his 'internal monologue' says, ' (image of bush) + (image of thorns) + (memory of thorn in leg hurt) = (avoid bush).

What I'm trying to highlight is that the Jaguar uses a simple addition of imageries to conclude that avoiding the bush is best for his survival. IMO at no point does the Jaguar gives names to these images, but it does know that the combination of these images is detrimental to its health, thus avoidance.

IMO this is a sort of logical consciousness, but its clearly much less advanced than the consciousness we as human experience. For not only do we name the images we see, to simplify them for efficient communication to other humans, but we have also invented many operators in math that we also use in language to manipulate these images. I'm guessing the Jaguar can only use +, - and =, while clearly humans have many more that I need not mention.


PS As for our discussions, I am also really enjoying them. I only call it an argument because we have different approaches and opinions on the matter. I mean heck, what fun would it be if we both had the same opinion, we would not grow from the conversation and learn from eachother. Personally I find discussions best when two people argue opposite views and try to make the other person prove his point. We're both better for it. You've already taught me alot.

PSS For the 'imageless thought' example, 'It is over there', did you see any images at all? For any of the individual words, or the whole? I have a distinct image of this sentence, but for the sake of not tainting your own images (if you had some), I'll wait to tell you mine.
RVBuckeye
#28
Dec15-06, 10:31 AM
RVBuckeye's Avatar
P: 174
Quote Quote by Chaos' lil bro Order View Post
About the animals not being conscious bit. What does modern psychology say about this? Are chimpanzees not using their conscious when they use their saliva on a twig to probe for termites? How about a grizzly bear that teaches its cub how to swat salmon out of a fast river, does this not require conscious thought by the cub? I don't think you can chalk these examples up to instinct. These are taught behaviours and as such, require the learner to imitate the actions of the teacher. Or do these animals unknowingly imitate their teachers like mere photocopying machines?
I'm going out on a limb here, but I suspect animals deal purely with 'imagefull thought'. Consider a crude example: A jaguar in the rainforest sees a thorny bush and recalls from experience that this bush, if walked into, will hurt him. The jaguar's 'internal monlogue' is that he sees the familiar outline of the bush and its leaves and thorns (edge detection), and he remembers that if he walks into this bush that its thorns will hurt him. But IMO, I don't think the jaguar says to himself, 'that's the thorny bush that in my past, when I walked into it, its thorns cut into my skin and it hurt.' IMO its more likely that his 'internal monologue' says, ' (image of bush) + (image of thorns) + (memory of thorn in leg hurt) = (avoid bush).

What I'm trying to highlight is that the Jaguar uses a simple addition of imageries to conclude that avoiding the bush is best for his survival. IMO at no point does the Jaguar gives names to these images, but it does know that the combination of these images is detrimental to its health, thus avoidance.

IMO this is a sort of logical consciousness, but its clearly much less advanced than the consciousness we as human experience. For not only do we name the images we see, to simplify them for efficient communication to other humans, but we have also invented many operators in math that we also use in language to manipulate these images. I'm guessing the Jaguar can only use +, - and =, while clearly humans have many more that I need not mention.
Well my own thoughts on this are that you can study animal behavior but any attempt to parrellel that to a human is just speculation. Only humans have the ability to report on their conscious experience. There are quite a few people who attemt to make the connection, but that delves into philosphy of mind. If you're interested in going down that road here's some thoughts on the subject from Daniel Dennett that addresses your concerns:

Let me propose a case in which we can see the philosophical sleight-of-hand happening right in front of our eyes: a puzzle is masked by our accepting an invitation to treat a curious phenomenon as unproblematically falling into our standard, human, folk-psychological categories. Many years ago. Bertrand Russell (1927, p32-3) made a wry observation:
Animals studied by Americans rush about frantically, with an incredible display of hustle and pep, and at last achieve the desired result by chance. Animals observed by Germans sit still and think, and at last evolve the situation out of their inner consciousness.
Wolfgang Köhler's (1925) early experiments with chimpanzees were the inspiration for Russell's witticism, which helps to perpetuate a common misunderstanding. Köhler's apes did not just sit and think up the solutions. They had to have many hours of exposure to the relevant props--the boxes and sticks, for instance--and they engaged in much manipulation of these items. Those apes that discovered the solutions--some never did--accomplished it with the aid of many hours of trial and error manipulating.
Now were they thinking when they were fussing about in their cages? What were they manipulating? Boxes and sticks. It is all too tempting to suppose that their external, visible manipulations were accompanied by, and driven by, internal, covert manipulations--of thoughts about or representations of these objects, but succumbing to this temptation is losing the main chance. What they were attending to, manipulating and turning over and rearranging were boxes and sticks, not thoughts.
They were familiarizing themselves with objects in their environments. What does that mean? It means that they were building up some sort of perceptuo-locomotor structures tuned to the specific objects, discovering the affordances of those objects, getting used to them, making them salient, etc. So their behavior was not all that different from the incessant trial and error scrambling of the behaviorists' cats, rats and pigeons. They were acting in the world, rearranging things in the world--without any apparent plan or insight or goal, at least at the outset.
Animals at all levels are designed to tidy up their immediate environments, which are initially messy, confusing, intractable, dangerous, inscrutable, hard to move around in. They build nests, caches, escape tunnels, ambush sites, scent trails, territorial boundaries. They familiarize themselves with landmarks. They do all this to help them keep better track of the things that matter--predators and prey, mates, etc. These are done by "instinct": automatized routines for improving the environment of action, making a better fit between agent and world.
http://ase.tufts.edu/cogstud/papers/maketoo2.htm

I've tried and tried in the past few days to put my own thoughts on this down but I can't say it any better than that. (sorry for the cop out there). Now, I don't know if that really address your idea of whether an animal has a sense of 'self' like you and I do. Abstract thought using the 'tools' of language is more and more looking like a uniquily human ability. Clearly, if you were to take an animal to the edge of a cliff, it will struggle to not get thrown over the edge. Which would demonstrate that at least there is a sense of recognition of itself as an entity. But whether that implies they are conscious of themselves is a bit of a stretch.

PSS For the 'imageless thought' example, 'It is over there', did you see any images at all? For any of the individual words, or the whole? I have a distinct image of this sentence, but for the sake of not tainting your own images (if you had some), I'll wait to tell you mine.
To be honest with you, no, I didn't 'see' any mental image. However, after thinking about it, say, if we were previously talking about a red ball and then asked that same question would I form a mental image of a red ball? I could do it, but that doesn't mean I would do it. (which, again, I didn't) But I will admit that when I read the sentence I did 'hear' it in my inner monologue. Which is also a common thing for me when I read to myself, but does not occur when I read aloud. Does that answer your question?

Sorry for the delay in my response and again, I hope this does not prematurely get moved to philosophy, because of the 'animal consiousness' subject matter this thread has taken on.
Chaos' lil bro Order
#29
Jan8-07, 03:14 AM
P: 683
Sorry for the delay, I thought I posted a response to this but I guess it didn't go through.

A quote from you post:

They were familiarizing themselves with objects in their environments. What does that mean? It means that they were building up some sort of perceptuo-locomotor structures tuned to the specific objects, discovering the affordances of those objects, getting used to them, making them salient, etc. So their behavior was not all that different from the incessant trial and error scrambling of the behaviorists' cats, rats and pigeons. They were acting in the world, rearranging things in the world--without any apparent plan or insight or goal, at least at the outset.
Animals at all levels are designed to tidy up their immediate environments, which are initially messy, confusing, intractable, dangerous, inscrutable, hard to move around in. They build nests, caches, escape tunnels, ambush sites, scent trails, territorial boundaries. They familiarize themselves with landmarks. They do all this to help them keep better track of the things that matter--predators and prey, mates, etc. These are done by "instinct": automatized routines for improving the environment of action, making a better fit between agent and world. '


I can certainly understand this point of view as a legitimate possibility, but its one I don't believe to be true.
For example, what about chimpazees that use their own saliva to moisten twigs so that they are sticky enough to pick up ants when the chimp prods an ant hill with the twig? To me it seems hard to imagine how a chimpanzee could via instinct or via trial and error, learn how to fish for ants by 'rearranging things in the world--without any apparent plan or insight or goal'. Heck, the author I quoted even finishes the sentence off with a convenient disclaimer when he says, 'at least not at the outset'. To my mind, this is an admission that he believes the first generations of, say, chimpanzees were all about trial and error, but modern generations of chimps have inherited the knowledge of 'ant-fishing' from their trial and error predecessors.
Its important to note that 'ant-fishing' is a taught behaviour and that its not instinctual. This then begs the question, 'How did the first chimp who learned 'ant-fishing' via trial and error, communicate this discovery to successive chimps. Upon the moment of discovery, were other chimps in his community present, thereby, they simply mimicked his successful actions? Its possible. How then did this 'in-the-know' community of chimps pass the knowledge of 'ant-fishing' onto the next generation of chimps. Maybe the baby chimps in his community also learned the behaviour by mimickery. Equally possible. Its then easy to concede the fact that members of this 'in-the-know' chimp community cross bred with other chimp communities and the knowledge was passed from community-to-community in this manner.

That last paragraph favors your view that no intellect is required to learn complex behaviours and I admit that its a good arguement against my opinion that animals have consciousnesses.

Of course there are other possibilities for how the chimp learned to 'fish'. Perhaps a chimp was using a twig to clean his teeth, or just to chew on to pass the time. Then the chimp relaxed and lowered his arms downwards so that the twig touched the ground. Upon raising his arm again to further clean his teeth, the chimp noticed an ant stuck to it. Then recalling (using memory which many experiments prove chimps have) that his fingers were too bulky to 'ant-fish' the last mound he saw, he puts 2 and 2 together and eureka, the twig can serve as a nimbler fishing appendage. I admit that this possibility is more complex (and I know occam's law) than its above counterpart, but given what we've learned about chimps in the lab, its equally possible, if not as likely. We know chimps can count, even subtract and multiply. This is such an abstract concept that I'm hard pressed to think that chimps can be trained to complete such complex mathematics by mere conditioned training alone.

In short, I believe animals (chimps at least) exhibit the ability to memorize, cognize and assimiliate complex information and that they can communicate their findings through language and not solely by mimickery.



P.S. When I read the sentence, 'It is over there.' I conjure up a mental image of me standing in a plained area like the Utah salt flats, with mountains in front of me. I imagine that 'It' is some object or place that is over the mountains. You know, like there is a person standing beside me who is answering a question I had and they are pointing to the mountains and saying, 'It is over there.' I was hoping this image was archetypal, but its just likely a latent memory of mine that I am failing to trace back to my childhood. Something akin to a distant word association so many memories past that I cannot remember the point in time or trigger for its genesis.




Sorry for my spelling and grammar, i'm too sleepy to check it. Talk to you soon RV.
Moonbear
#30
Jan9-07, 09:41 PM
Emeritus
Sci Advisor
PF Gold
Moonbear's Avatar
P: 12,271
Quote Quote by Chaos' lil bro Order View Post
In short, I believe animals (chimps at least) exhibit the ability to memorize, cognize and assimiliate complex information and that they can communicate their findings through language and not solely by mimickery.
I'll just add a short note to this, since you're interested in what "modern" psychology says on the topics discussed here. Modern psychologists (at least those with a strong scientific training...there is still a camp of psychologists stuck on Freudian theory and lacking in scientific approach to the subject) will acknowledge that there is no way to directly answer these questions, and thus such things are limited to speculation. We can only study the observable behaviors of animals, which is limiting. As a more accessible example, you walk into a room and see a friend of yours staring somewhat blankly at the wall. Can you tell if he is thinking about anything in particular? Without the ability to ask him to tell you, you don't know. He could be thinking through a problem that needs solving, or repeating terms he needs to memorize for a class over and over, or thinking about what to get for dinner, or fantasizing about your girlfriend, or just so tired/bored that he really doesn't have a single thought in his mind, or is just idly watching a spider walk across the wall.

This is what it's like trying to observe and interpret animal behaviors. We can determine the neural pathways involved and distinguish between purposeful and reflexive behaviors, and try to study the context of the behaviors, and what it takes to disrupt the behaviors, but none of that can answer whether there are actual "thoughts" as we'd relate to thoughts, or what they might be.
Chaos' lil bro Order
#31
Jan10-07, 08:55 PM
P: 683
Quote Quote by Moonbear View Post
I'll just add a short note to this, since you're interested in what "modern" psychology says on the topics discussed here. Modern psychologists (at least those with a strong scientific training...there is still a camp of psychologists stuck on Freudian theory and lacking in scientific approach to the subject) will acknowledge that there is no way to directly answer these questions, and thus such things are limited to speculation. We can only study the observable behaviors of animals, which is limiting. As a more accessible example, you walk into a room and see a friend of yours staring somewhat blankly at the wall. Can you tell if he is thinking about anything in particular? Without the ability to ask him to tell you, you don't know. He could be thinking through a problem that needs solving, or repeating terms he needs to memorize for a class over and over, or thinking about what to get for dinner, or fantasizing about your girlfriend, or just so tired/bored that he really doesn't have a single thought in his mind, or is just idly watching a spider walk across the wall.

This is what it's like trying to observe and interpret animal behaviors. We can determine the neural pathways involved and distinguish between purposeful and reflexive behaviors, and try to study the context of the behaviors, and what it takes to disrupt the behaviors, but none of that can answer whether there are actual "thoughts" as we'd relate to thoughts, or what they might be.
If that is the modern approach I must laugh at all modern pyschologists. Also, the example you give of a person staring at a wall is so bland that I'd outright dismiss it. There are several more colorful examples of interesting, if not intelligent, or 'soulful', instances where animal behavior is more than just instinctual survival. I will name a few in rapid succession: 1) Chimps that can add, subtract, multiply and even divide, 2) Walrusses that are trained to do push ups and sit ups, 3) Dolphins that rescue humans from attacking sharks, 4) The african lion who gives up his kill to three approaching hyenas, but never to just two. All of these examples could be interpreted as non-intellectual, non-soulful examples if one's subjectivity is so inclined. They are not concrete, they are not scientific, and they are not to be taken as proof. But these are quite convincing illustrations in my opinion that animals are smarter and more conscious than humans presently think.

Quite honestly Moonbear, I've always like you and your posts, which is why I was a bit saddened to see your reply.

No one here is claiming pychology to be a science and I certainly would never claim it to be. Its like sociology in that respect. Its called a soft science but really the term science is a misnomer and its validity does not compare to mathematics or physics in terms of predictions and fallsifiability. That's why I think your 'staring at a blank wall' example and in general, your entire comment diminishes the progress of this thread so far.

Please don't be insulted by me, its not my intention. I think Freudian and Jungian theories on pyschology are the best we have and any modern theory that does not at least use these as a cornerstone, are pretentious and on even shakier ground. PLEASE DON'T HIGHJACK THIS THREAD, WE WERE HAVING SO MUCH FUN!

Thanks.
Moonbear
#32
Jan10-07, 11:27 PM
Emeritus
Sci Advisor
PF Gold
Moonbear's Avatar
P: 12,271
Quote Quote by Chaos' lil bro Order View Post
If that is the modern approach I must laugh at all modern pyschologists. Also, the example you give of a person staring at a wall is so bland that I'd outright dismiss it.
Why? Simply because it doesn't agree with your preconceived notions? That's not science. This is a science forum and all you've been talking about has been beliefs without any scientific basis whatsoever. Modern psychology IS scientific, not the hocus pocus you've been conjuring.

There are several more colorful examples of interesting, if not intelligent, or 'soulful', instances where animal behavior is more than just instinctual survival. I will name a few in rapid succession: 1) Chimps that can add, subtract, multiply and even divide, 2) Walrusses that are trained to do push ups and sit ups, 3) Dolphins that rescue humans from attacking sharks, 4) The african lion who gives up his kill to three approaching hyenas, but never to just two. All of these examples could be interpreted as non-intellectual, non-soulful examples if one's subjectivity is so inclined.
All are examples of classical conditioning.

They are not concrete, they are not scientific, and they are not to be taken as proof. But these are quite convincing illustrations in my opinion that animals are smarter and more conscious than humans presently think.
You just said it yourself, your interpretations are not scientific. They are wishful thinking.

Quite honestly Moonbear, I've always like you and your posts, which is why I was a bit saddened to see your reply.
Sorry if you weren't prepared for a real, honest answer from someone familiar with modern psychological studies.

No one here is claiming pychology to be a science and I certainly would never claim it to be.
Yes, I AM claiming psychology is a science. If you don't want to talk about the scientific approach, then this discussion has no place here.

Its like sociology in that respect. Its called a soft science but really the term science is a misnomer and its validity does not compare to mathematics or physics in terms of predictions and fallsifiability. That's why I think your 'staring at a blank wall' example and in general, your entire comment diminishes the progress of this thread so far.
No, I'm attempting to bring this thread back to reality. Your misconceptions of psychology is something the field is still struggling to overcome among many people, and allowing those misperceptions that it is somehow not based in falsifiable science is not going to help that.

Please don't be insulted by me, its not my intention. I think Freudian and Jungian theories on pyschology are the best we have and any modern theory that does not at least use these as a cornerstone, are pretentious and on even shakier ground.
We have come a LONG WAY since Freudian and Jungian theory. Those theories are horribly outdated.

PLEASE DON'T HIGHJACK THIS THREAD, WE WERE HAVING SO MUCH FUN!

Thanks.
If you want to play guessing games, or share your belief systems, take it elsewhere. If you want to talk science, please continue.
RVBuckeye
#33
Jan11-07, 07:07 AM
RVBuckeye's Avatar
P: 174
hello Order and Moonbear,
I just want to jump in here quickly before I head off to work (sorry I haven't replied earlier) but I'm actually happy to see Moonbear's contributing to this thread. I actually feel partly responsible for taking this thread in the animal consciousness direction, but here's why I think it must be addressed in the overall topic of ego formation (as Order put it). We've been talking about the ego as if it is the mental representation of our physical selves. We've been talking about those mental representations as essentially being able to "see" mental images and "hear" what we call an inner monologue. I've been using the word 'conscious' (as defined in detail by Julian Jaynes in link on page one) (or 'florid thought' as used by Daniel Dennett) as being able to see and hear those two mental representations. What we've been talking about recently is whether or not which animals, if any, have this ability as well. I'm more inclined to believe they don't, Order is arguing that some might. The problem is that since other animals cannot communicate using a language (if they are even capable of something we can even call a language), we are stuck using anecdotal evidence to argue those points. That's more for the philosophy section, imo. (Order, I see you're discussing a similar topic elsewhere in the philosophy section and I might jump in there later)

Now to hopefully add some more direction here I might ask a question stemming from the problem I brought up earlier. What exactly is the role of language in the forming of this mental phenomena? I am not able to conjur up mental images of any time period of my life before I was able to speak, yet, I am able to perform actions that I learned prior. Is there any correllation there? Would you say that is the starting point for those pshychologist that argue that the role of language is essential to ego formation?

Hope you don't mind I've jumped in here, Order.
edit: grammer
Chaos' lil bro Order
#34
Jan13-07, 03:07 AM
P: 683
@Moonbear

Sorry, I forgot of the famous 'staring at the wall experiment' that you cited, where is the arixv link please? You speak of psychology as a science and how my posts contains very little experimental citations, and admittedly you are correct. Then you proceed to bash my entire post, offer your own example loaded with your own preconceived notions and list no citations or example of modern pyschology. Hmm. I am not sure what your profession is or what experience you have in 'modern psychology', which you have yet to define or state some of its tenets, but from what I've read, most progress in psychology is in pharmacology. For example, the use of certain agonist and antagonistic drugs used to block certain neuronal receptors in an attempt to see which behaviors these drugs shut off, or heighten.

This thread is getting off topic anyways, the original question was how does the ego form and we should get back to this. Please provide us with an executive summary what modern psychology has to say about the formation of the ego, that would help us get this thread back on track.
Chaos' lil bro Order
#35
Jan13-07, 03:14 AM
P: 683
Quote Quote by RVBuckeye View Post
hello Order and Moonbear,
I just want to jump in here quickly before I head off to work (sorry I haven't replied earlier) but I'm actually happy to see Moonbear's contributing to this thread. I actually feel partly responsible for taking this thread in the animal consciousness direction, but here's why I think it must be addressed in the overall topic of ego formation (as Order put it). We've been talking about the ego as if it is the mental representation of our physical selves. We've been talking about those mental representations as essentially being able to "see" mental images and "hear" what we call an inner monologue. I've been using the word 'conscious' (as defined in detail by Julian Jaynes in link on page one) (or 'florid thought' as used by Daniel Dennett) as being able to see and hear those two mental representations. What we've been talking about recently is whether or not which animals, if any, have this ability as well. I'm more inclined to believe they don't, Order is arguing that some might. The problem is that since other animals cannot communicate using a language (if they are even capable of something we can even call a language), we are stuck using anecdotal evidence to argue those points. That's more for the philosophy section, imo. (Order, I see you're discussing a similar topic elsewhere in the philosophy section and I might jump in there later)

Now to hopefully add some more direction here I might ask a question stemming from the problem I brought up earlier. What exactly is the role of language in the forming of this mental phenomena? I am not able to conjur up mental images of any time period of my life before I was able to speak, yet, I am able to perform actions that I learned prior. Is there any correllation there? Would you say that is the starting point for those pshychologist that argue that the role of language is essential to ego formation?

Hope you don't mind I've jumped in here, Order.
edit: grammer
You pose an interesting question. Perhaps language is a requisite for the ego to form, i'm not sure. Nor do I know any papers that explore this question. Maybe Naom Chomsky could shed some light on this subject. I would offer my opinion on how the ego forms, but others may lock the thread if I don't cite a paper to back it up.


Register to reply

Related Discussions
Polar form to Cartesian form Calculus & Beyond Homework 1
Question about the General form to normal form of Diff Eq Calculus & Beyond Homework 1
Changing from parametric form to algebraic form Introductory Physics Homework 1
Having troubles putting matrices in another form, linear combination form i think. Introductory Physics Homework 14
6th form Academic Guidance 4