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No Conscious Center.

  1. Jul 5, 2003 #1
    It appears that many of the members here are still, in one way or another, stuck on a Cartesian Theater model of consciousness. They believe that there must be a "center" where conscious thoughts are "played out", be that "center" physical or metaphysical.

    However, this is not the case. Daniel C. Dennet's book, Consciousness Explained does away with this view, and replaces it with the "Multiple Drafts" model. Now, the book explains this much better than I could ever hope to, but here's what I remember:

    There are many problems with the "center of consciousness" view - one of which is the fact that it goes through an infinite regress, trying to find the actual "center" (as you'd still have a center of the center, and center of that center, and so on).

    However, the Multiple Drafts model is that we recieve information (through whichever of our senses), but this information must be processed through the physical processes of the brain, and is constantly revised. For example, if I had just spoken to a woman with short hair and glasses, and then I see some long-haired woman run past me (not wearing glasses), my brain could impose the image of the glasses onto the image of the second woman, and I would be conscious of a long-haired woman with glasses.

    Now, this may seem to mean that I just misjudged, because it "seemed" as though she had been wearing glasses, but (as the book shows) there is really no difference between how it "seemed" to me and how I "judged" it to be. Also note: no revision is the "original" or "more authentic" version, since the "though" was never a conscious thought until after many revisions of the observed phenomenon (these "revisions" taking place, of course, in the brain).

    Also, it should be noted that we - when studying consciousness and using the Multiple Drafts model - must take a heterophenomenological approach (no, I didn't just make that up :wink:). Phenomenology is the study of things that occur in the mind (thoughts, perceptions, assumptions, etc), but heterophenomenology is the study of things that occur in the mind, from a third-person standpoint - wherein the one studying would take whatever happens in the subject's mind (as they relate it to you) to be as "true" as what happens to some fictional character in a novel: For example, you never question whether Sherlock Holmes really lives on baker street, because in his fictional world, he most certainly does. At the same time, however, you never wonder whether he has dandruff (for example), because the writer has never indicated anything like this, and all that is "true" in a fictional (or phenomenological) world is what the writer (or subject) tells you.

    I'd like to discuss this in some more depth, but I haven't the time. However, if anyone (perhaps - but not necessarily - someone who has read the book) would like to offer some criticism (good or bad), I welcome their comments.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 5, 2003 #2
    Mentat - There are many people here who step into areas of science (or even philosophy) which they have absolutely no knowledge of, and really shouldn't be there.

    Entering into a thread with a question, and intention to learn is one thing. Beginning a debate when you simple are not smart enough on the subject is another thing altogether.

    PS: I didn't read your entire post, because indeed I already know the current truth on consciousness!
  4. Jul 5, 2003 #3
    CrystalStudios, I mean no offense to you, and I don't mean to sound arrogant at all, but you're new here aren't you? When debate starts coming in, from those who believe in the Cartesian Theater models, I will be ready (from having firmly grasped the Multiple Drafts model). And, on the chance that I'm not, I will do further research and consult another member (who will remain nameless, for fear of embarrasing him/her) who has even greater knowledge of this area of study than I do.

    So you are familiar with Dennet's theory?
  5. Jul 5, 2003 #4
    Mentat - I didn't mean that you were talking about something you didnt know about!!!!!!!!!!

    What I meant was others have this center of consciousness crap-theory because they're new-age freaks with no scientific background!
  6. Jul 7, 2003 #5
    I beg your pardon. The wording of your post was misleading to the fool that I am. Anyway, I only started this thread because, from now on, if someone makes reference to a Cartesian Theater model of consciousness, I can direct them here, and debate. I did the same thing with my "Hurdles" threads (many moons ago, on the old PFs) and the Exercise in "Nothing" Semantics (which, sadly enough, some people still don't get).

    I apologize again for the misunderstanding.
  7. Jul 7, 2003 #6
    I don't see what the examples in your post--the revising, the fictional story comparison--have to do with a center of consciousness or lack thereof.

    Of course, consciousness is mainly a function of the brain, so you can say that the brain is the center of consciousness. But obviously, the brain is not a single volumeless point. Our consciousness is a process--it is a bunch of interacting parts, so of course there is no point-center of consciousness.
  8. Jul 7, 2003 #7
    Well, instead of saying that this information had to arrive at your "conscious center" and was revised and changed "on it's way there", Dennett proposes that the very revisions are the conscious event.

    It's obvious to you and me (and apparently a few others) but I could name quite a few members (though, of course, I wont) that still speak of conscious events as though they take place at one point.
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