Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Consciousness-defined in science ?

  1. Yes

    3 vote(s)
  2. No

    8 vote(s)
  3. Not sure

    1 vote(s)
  1. Jun 6, 2003 #1


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    Greetings !

    I had a discussion with Mentat about consciousness.
    I think it's an undefined concept according to
    modern science and the sciences that do appear
    to use it only do this as an approximation to
    replace the otherwise almost impossibly (for now)
    complex physical discriptions. I mean sciences
    like psychology, sociology and other related fields.

    Mentat, as I understood him, appears to think that
    consciousness is something completely special,
    a separate and indpendent concept and that modern
    science does define it or at least attempts to do
    so precisely (please, correct me if I'm wrong, Mentat).

    What do you think ?

    Doubt or shout !

    Live long and prosper.
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2003
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 6, 2003 #2
    From the thread, https://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?s=&threadid=2264" ...

    How would we know anything without consciousness? Wouldn't that in fact imply that consciousness is somehow "intertwined" with existence? Therefore if truth can only be acknowledged through consciousness, doesn't it also imply that consciousness has always been? (as truth has always been). That indeed existence itself could have conceivably been brought about through an "act of consciousness?"

    Look at the world that man has created, through his "express faculty" of consciousness. Could it be possible that he's following in the footsteps of another? ... You know, "Like Father like son."
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 20, 2017
  4. Jun 6, 2003 #3


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    Please, try to formalise your reponse in a
    generally acceptable manner using generally
    accepted concepts and definitions of these

    I'm sorry, but as it is - I can not understand what you said.

    Either way though, thank you for your response. :smile:

    Live long and prosper.
  5. Jun 6, 2003 #4
    Doesn't the nature of philosphy involve asking questions about the nature of existence? ... Sorry, this is all I'm doing.

    Now the reason I choose this format is because I've obviously given it a lot of thought. Whereas the questions aren't directed so much towards me, as they are towards those who really want to know, i.e., in the sense that maybe these are questions "they" should be posing? ... You know, if you don't ask (the right question), how can you expect to receive an answer? ...

    We also need to understand that we can't answer the question of existence purely by logic. For indeed reality exists on both the left side (rational) and the right side (emotional) and is integrated in the middle. Why focus exclusively on the one side and forsake the other? Why can't we approach it from the standpoint of "wholeness," rather than that which is lop-sided and neurotic? While it's entirely possible to over-analyze things, and then forget what those things actually entail (i.e., the experience itself).
  6. Jun 6, 2003 #5
    Defining consciousness is hard enough if not imopossible to the satisfaction of everyone. We don't really know what consciousness is other than discribe the opposite and some of the thing that being counciousness allow us do do.
  7. Jun 7, 2003 #6
    I know that consciousness is most often thought of as a "property" of "higher BIOLOGICAL systems" ...but I have been exploring the thought that is is a fundamental ingredient of ALL "matter" -- from elementary particles to large, dynamical, coherent systems like stars, galaxies and the Universe ITSELF.

    In fact, it may be a "substance" of sorts, that's "imbedded" -- or an INTRINSIC PART OF -- all matter, large or small.

    And, just as "matter" is -- in a de facto way -- "connected" by "gravity"....the consciousness of Everything may be "connected" by a similar force operating on a non-physical "plane".

    There are lots of quotation marks in the above, because these terms THEMSELVES need to be clarified.

    But, this is a starting point for MY "definition" of consciousness...as a SUBSTANCE and a PROPERTY that CONSTITUDES AWARENESS...

    ...awareness first of "self" ...then of "others" ...then of "context" ...then of "function" ...and then of "purpose".

    The last sentence is "off the top of my head" (and a little off the sides:wink:)...but I don't have time now to see if I even make sense to MYSELF !

    I shall return.
  8. Jun 7, 2003 #7
    We know only of biological organisms on earth that may have consciousness, but also we know that earth was not always inhabited with life forms.

    So how could "consciousness" then have always been?
    In what form? And why?

    Isn't it more reasonable to say that matter is primary, and consciousness secondary?

    Science proved that this has to be the case.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 20, 2017
  9. Jun 7, 2003 #8
    No, not defined. Consciousness is not paradigm-invariant, if one can say so..
    Other thing is that to define consciousness, which is product, one needs to use definitions of that underlying it, like thought process, will, etc. It all is still pretty much unclear. Then how can be consciousness strictly defined?
  10. Jun 7, 2003 #9
    It's the "chicken or the egg" conundrum...and my vote goes to CONSCIOUSNESS as "what came first".

    In other words -- based on the premise that the Universe is "all energy all the time" -- consciousness would be, perhaps, the "highest" "frequency" of energy...from which "matter" (which, again, is "only" bound-up energy) condensed out.

    This also correlates well to another proposition: that INTENTION CAUSES REALITY...in that, at the moment of "birth" (or, more precisely, RE-birth), the Universe INTENDS -- or WILLS ITSELF -- to have yet ANOTHER macro and micro Experience...which is to say, everything that HAPPENS to Everything, past/present/future, in this (and EVERY) of It's (the Universe's) INCARNATION(s) twixt Big Bangs and Big Crunch.

    I apologize for the run-on sentense...but I think it can be followed (if not believed).

    And, please, let us leave "God" out of it for a moment...and consider the Universe ITSELF as an eternal Entity of energy that re-creates Itself .
  11. Jun 7, 2003 #10
    So? ... But then why does consciousness ultimately come about? Especially with the "higher life forms?" Could it be this is a higher proclivity of creation/evolution, in the sense that this was its ulitmate intent or design? And that we are now just beginning to become aware of its "conscious intent?" Although I would preface this by extending it over the past 10,000 years.

    Wouldn't it be reasonable to say truth has always existed, at least in potential? ... And yet what is truth, without the ability to recognize it? It would still be there no doubt, and yet it only belies the fact that there must be some "greater mastermind" that put these principles into place.

    And yet our origin begins in the center, which is also where consciousness lies.

    It has? ... And yet science is so busy caught up with how things work, that it tends to lose sight -- i.e., become "consciously unaware" -- of the actual function which, is just another means of taking things out of context.

    Which is more important? Life itself? Or, the details that science ascribes to it? Is it possible that science is "playing God?" I'll tell you one thing right now, this is why I don't like to go the doctor's.
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2003
  12. Jun 7, 2003 #11
    How many moments? Sorry, I couldn't help but spill the beans at the last moment. And yet I think that you'll agree, that most of what I'm saying could apply equally well with what you're saying.
  13. Jun 7, 2003 #12

    Well, first of all, you didn't give any substantiation for assuming that psychologists (for example) are using consciousness as an approximation.

    But, yes, you are slightly wrong about my view of consciousness. You see, I think that consciousness can definitely be explained as a physical process (in fact I'm reading a book right now that attempts to do so (though I haven't gotten very far into it yet)). However, I don't think it can be explained as a concept of the subatomic world (as you seem to have been trying to do). But, then again, you cannot describe the difference between a human and a large rock, in terms of the subatomic world. And yet this difference is what divides Human Biology and Meteorology into two different branches of Science.
  14. Jun 7, 2003 #13
    Of course I agree. That's why you're a buddy.:wink:

    However, I am really trying to steer away from discussing "spirit/soul/God/the Divine" -- at the moment (OK, SEVERAL moments) -- because this "realm" is even HARDER to discuss than CONSCIOUSNESS ...let alone "prove"!

    I would be willing to discuss -- on a new thread, perhaps -- what the NATURE of SPIRIT might be...as my thoughts haven't "gelled" on this subject and it is, after all, the "final frontier" (or not).

    Care to start one?
  15. Jun 7, 2003 #14
    Actually if you cared to revive https://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?s=&threadid=2564" maybe we could discuss it there? Take a look and let me know, Okay? Otherwise will can consider starting another thread ...
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 20, 2017
  16. Jun 7, 2003 #15
    I think I'd like to start another thread. "The Great Outsider" refers to "God" while I want to discuss "The Nature of Spirit"...which may or may not include "God" as "God" is generally "understood".

    Basicallly, the thread would be an ATTEMPT to DEFINE OUR TERMS with regard to "spirit". What "is" "it" anyway? What are it's properties? It's proclivities? It's "powers"? It's PURPOSE(S)?

    If you think what I have just written would make "useful" thread -- that is, one that yields a BASIS for future discussions -- then I'll start it as per.

    Even tho I have to tell you I'm on OVERLOAD now !
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 20, 2017
  17. Jun 7, 2003 #16
    Sounds like you're a little bit more prepared than I am. Go ahead!

    Same here! ...
  18. Jun 7, 2003 #17

  19. Jun 8, 2003 #18
    From a strickly, for a change, physical scientific view, how can one single electron or photon (or whatever) know what all its cronies are going to do with out haveing some level of consciousness of its enviroment and other electrons etc.
    Take a stream of electrons in a vacuum tube or CRT. The vast majority of them will flow to the positive plate or surface from the negative cathode; however, a certain small percentage of them will not go to the positive plate but stay around the negative cathode creating the phenomenon knows as an electron cloud about the cathode. How does an individual electron "know" to go to the plate or stay around the cathode so that the "right" number go and the "right" number stay?
    How can a photon know which slit to go thru or know that the observer is watching and looking for particles or waves in the famous two slit experiment it QM without some sort of at least primative consciousness of what is going on around it?
    I may be mistaken but QM seems to imply and require some level of consciousness for even the most elementary particle/waves.
  20. Jun 8, 2003 #19
    NOW we're getting somewhere!!!

  21. Jun 8, 2003 #20
    I agree with royce in the sense that the universe is indeed full of order and interconcetions( though we may not like the way it goes around doing so )

    The problem with discusions on consicousness seem to always be that people confuse HUMAN consiciousness with just consciousness on its own. Let me state: the universal implications and realities of consciousness are not wholly expersed under the umberalla of human existance,......human consiousness is a SUBSET of consiousness, it is not consiousness itself.

    Just keep that in mind when agruing over conisioucness.

    Insofar as it has ( as a observable fact ) been tackeld by scince I would have to say there is much more to be asked. For all its glories scince seems to be very ill prepared to properly analyze consicousness. I would say that Mathamathics through research in AI Choas and Complexity theroies are really getting somewhere. Tnx god for Alan Turning! Keep out an eye on them. I dont think that we will need new scinces, or new math to handle consoins insofar as that we improve our langue. We have the tools to tackle consicouness just not the right words to do it with.

    On the other hand.......

    Personally I hold the belief that all this seraching for it and not finding it is due to a very simple reason. IT IS NOT THERE. We only wish it to be so. There is no "i" (manent will rig my neck for this one!)There is no "individual", ...."i" do not exist. Dont ask me for proofs because one they are long and I am still working on it....

    Either way I hope they never find the answer. It would put philosophers out of work.

    Never trust something that seems to offer the explination for EVERYTHING.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook