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Pain and consciousness.

  1. Apr 18, 2007 #1
    Perhaps the most famous proponent of substance dualism was Descartes, who cashed out the distinction between minds and bodies as follows:

    Minds are things that think but lack spatial magnitude, and bodies are things that have spatial magnitudes, but don't think.
    End Quote

    Just a thought, our evolutionary ancestors had bodies, but these were only simple one celled creatures. I would have thought the mind, (consciousness) was something that the body developed along the lines of pain, to prevent injury.

    What do you think consciousness is?
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 27, 2007 #2


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    Consciousness is our thoughts, experiences, pleasures and the fact that we have a conscience, "i think therefore i am"

    the problem with referring to Descartes in the present day and age is the fact that the knowledge available now, far transcends what was available then.

    Today scientist know that the mind and body (and im including spirit) are one, there is no separation and the two/three should not be considered as anything other than one singular entity in which our conscious is given an opportunity to expand, grow, and learn, for all we truly are are our thoughts and experiences, the rest is subjective.

    Mind is a platform for conscious experiance
    Spirit is a platform for growth based on our conscious experiance
    the one cannot survive and (grow) without the other.
  4. Aug 20, 2010 #3
    Wouldn't we need consciousness in order to feel the pain, otherwise how would we know that it is pain so that we could record it as a feeling that we either like or dislike if we were not conscious?
  5. Aug 21, 2010 #4
    That's always an interesting thing to think about. This is my personal opinion:

    I think consciousness is an emergent property that arises from the brain synchronizing it's dynamics to those of the outside world. It does this as a survival strategy. For example, I hear dogs barking outside in the distance. I believe I'm conscious of that because my brain adjusts the firing patterns of some neurons in the brain to somehow "match" the dynamics of the dogs barking. I can't say exactly how. But I think the brain does this for every other phenomenon it "experiences": the brain mimics the outside world by modeling it's dynamic behavior in the form of nerve impulses.

    An analogy I would give is tuning a wave form to match another wave form in terms of frequency and amplitude. The second waveform now "experiences" the first waveform because it has grown "like" it. Now imagine millions of these similarities coupled together and what emerges I believe is the conscious experience.

    That's why I believe the answer to the problem of mind and consciousness will not come from biology or medicine or chemistry but from mathematics in the form of understanding massively-coupled non-linear dynamics.

    So if I was a young man interested in this problem I would become a mathematician. But when I was a young man I was interested in Biology so I became a Chemist. :)
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2010
  6. Aug 31, 2010 #5
    That's a cool sounding idea. It could explain the differences in cognitive abilities between humans as well. The only difference is that some are just more conscious than others. Their brains are better able to mimic the stimuli coming from your sense organs and therefore present themselves with a more accurate representation of reality.
  7. Sep 16, 2010 #6
    I guess that also explains why a digital recording of a dog's bark is more conscious than our experience of it ;-)
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2010
  8. Sep 16, 2010 #7
    if our conscience was originaly disigned to prevent pain then wouldent everybodys act and develop in a similer way? if thts the case why do people react differently? why could some people murder in cold blood and other throw up with guilt at stealing some spice. i belive our conscience is just another part of your mind that grows as you do and its just an a part of you brain that isent dominent and isent prejudiced telling you what you honestly think right and wrong is
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