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Seat of Consciousness

  1. May 1, 2003 #1
    From the thread, The Heart of Reality ...

    So wherein do you think our seat of consciousness lies? Or, through what faculty is it best perceived?
  2. jcsd
  3. May 1, 2003 #2
    I agree with Mentat.

    If a person could not see, hear, taste, or smell I would think that they would feel that their "Seat of Consciousness" was in their head, because that is where their thoughts would originate. Then again, they might feel it is in their hands, as that is where they would get all their information [reading etc]. I believe our most used way of percieving the world is where we feel our "seat of consciousness" is.

    I also see your point, you actually FEEL feelings.
  4. May 1, 2003 #3
    Well, actually, if I could feel the book, but not see it, it wouldn't do me much good. Besides, the nerve endings go to the brain, so this is obviously the center of control for the body. Isn't it reasonable to assume that this is where the "seat of consciousness" should be?

    Yes, you actually FEEL feelings, but where does the impulse to "FEEL" go to? The brain. In fact, even our emotions are due (mainly) to impulses in the brain (the limbic lobe, to be more specific).
  5. May 1, 2003 #4
    Significantly, people cannot survive without at least possessing a sense of touch, a sense of feeling that extends from the mind to the world around them. Infants who are not touched will first exhibit a failure to thrive and eventually die no matter how well they are taken care of otherwise or how good their other senses are.

    Likewise, a few people have been discovered who because of head injuries have a significantly limited emotional capacity. These people cannot hide their condition for any length of time from anyone. Mr. Spock represents for many people an idea of what a wholly rational person would be like, but the reality is more extreme. Such people simply cannot place anything in a context they have not already acquired before the accident.

    Notably again, no one has ever been discovered to be born with such a condition and survive. We can surmise then that feeling, in every sense of the word, is critical to survival and to giving rise to the seat of consciousness. In fact, the more intelligent the animal the more critical touch becomes and the more complex their emotional lives. Humans are the only animals, for example, that possess an elaborate sense of humor. Also, all mammals are roughed up a little, tossed around, and then maticulously groomed by their mothers when born or they will die.

    From an Asian point of view, the seat of consciousness lies within the calm accepting center of a storm of conflicting emotions and thoughts. This is a more organic view than that of traditional dialectical western logic. Instead of completely distinguishing between mind and body, logic and the irrational, it unifies them from the ground up so to speak.
    Last edited: May 1, 2003
  6. May 1, 2003 #5
    This is the very reason I excluded touch from the list of senses.

    I agree with this, but I do not agree with the center of consciousness being feelings (emotions), all this really demonstrates to me is a bond between the mind development and emotions, and how they inertwine.
  7. May 1, 2003 #6
    When I think, I always feel like the thinking goes on in my head. However, one of those famous Greeks (I forget which one--possibly Plato) postulated that the heart is the center of thought and that the brain cooled the blood. Funny.
  8. May 1, 2003 #7
    It is the simplest explanation, but certainly not the only possible one.

    Feelings and affects such as depression, anger, and joy are thought by many to have evolved for survival purposes. A wounded animals will become depressed, go quietly hide somewhere, rest and lick their wounds. An angry animal will do things which otherwise might be self-destructive and contrary to survival for its compatriots as well. A content animal has a better chance of reproducing, getting along with others, and a more functional immune system. This is a bit of an over simplification, but you get the idea.

    An amoeba has no use for such a complex system. Instead it can get by quite nicely using just stimulous and response. It's nerves are simple switches, flip one and it jumps. Higher order animals possess similar switches, but regulate their function with their internal emotional lives. Consciousness then can most simply be viewed as the next step which abstracts this internal emotional life in the context of the future, past, and ego.
  9. May 1, 2003 #8
    Does the brain feel anything? Or does it just process the sensations derived from the senses? If we were somehow able to detach our brain from our bodies and run it twenty feet down the hallway and into the other room, while still leaving everything "hooked up," would we still perceive everything the same? ... aside from the fact that we might feel a bit "light headed" of course.
  10. May 1, 2003 #9


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    What if you were never told that the
    nerve endings go to the brain or indeed
    had no anatomical knowledge whatsoever ? :wink:

    Live long and prosper.
  11. May 1, 2003 #10

    Ivan Seeking

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    Dr. Deepak Chopra – Former director of the Scripps Institute of Medicine – suggests that the immune system displays all of the characteristics of thought…I think is the proper way to say it. He describes it as a circulating intelligence. When we consider this and similar notions, and some of the suggestions already made in this thread, and the notions of emergent phenomena, and then consider modern ideas like superpositional states [is that word legal?], not to mention the arguments for Quantum Consciousness, perhaps the very point is that consciousness has no “seat”. Perhaps that is the sum of what have learned. I think it is likely a superposition of all of these things that has no precise location.
  12. May 1, 2003 #11
    Intelligence is not the issue, consciousness is the issue. Do a frontal lobotomy on someone and their degree of consciousness fades. Take out a similar part of their occipital area, and they might loose some sight but not any significant amount of consciousness or awareness. Take out part of their brainstem, and they die, split their corpus colosum and they display two seats of consciousness, two distinct personalities with significant awareness inhabiting seperate hemispheres.

    It may be that the proverbial seat of consciousness is an illusion and each of us is composed of multiple personalities, but there are distinct locations within the brain that effect them more than others. To some extent, the phenomenon is localized while to other respects it may be global. Because the brain obviously has such a huge impact on consciousness, the nervious system in general is the obvious place to begin research on the issue.
  13. May 1, 2003 #12

    Ivan Seeking

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    You make some good points but I object to a few. I consider sight a part of my consciousness. It you take it away, I clearly perceive a large impact on my total awareness. So although clearly not of the rank of the brainstem, sight is superimposed on my overall consciousness. But your point of rank is obviously valid. Of course, when we consider the impact from a frontal lobotomy, we can't measure the effect from the inside out. Another way to say this is that I don't think you could ever measure my consciousness in quite the way that I do. Nor can I ever convey my own sense of self to you as I perceive it. A person could be comatose and completely conscious from their point of view, even if they don't remember this upon waking to reality. Also, I don't think I can separate my intelligence from consciousness. It is a part of who I am. Dr. Chopra claims that I have other intelligences about which I am not conscious, but that are still a part of my overall consciousness. I meant to link these ideas in this way. Finally, you assume [or at least imply] but cannot prove that when you cut someone’s brain stem their consciousness stops. If we disagree on this fundamental point then the rest is moot. :wink:
  14. May 1, 2003 #13
    No, that is exactly what I meant. Consciousness does have global aspects as you point out, and the brainstem is about as critical a conduit for this as you'll find. No body or feelings, no mind. All of these things are largely regulated within the primitive brainstem.
  15. May 1, 2003 #14

    Ivan Seeking

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    To argue that consciousness ends with classical death is a faith arguement. All that we can really say scientifically is that we don't know.
  16. May 2, 2003 #15
    Well, yeah, no body--no mind that we know of. By your argument, however, I could just as easily argue everyone does their best thinking using a sea slug somewhere off the coast of Burma. Asserting that my consciousness dies along with my body is not a statement of faith, but rather, a statement of observation. Faith involves what cannot be observed or proven, such as my sea slug hypothesis.
  17. May 2, 2003 #16
    No, we wouldn't percieve anything the same. In fact, we wouldn't percieve anything. Period.
  18. May 2, 2003 #17
    Even if I was never told, it would still be true.
  19. May 2, 2003 #18

    Ivan Seeking

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    This is one rare example of an interesting discussion about which science has not completely abandoned us. First I wish to re-state the idea that only I can measure my consciousness, you can only draw inferences based on observations and assumptions. I will quote the most significant part of what some science has to say about this from the following link:

    "Cardiac arrest patients are a subgroup of people who come closest to death. In such a situation an individual initially develops two out of three criteria (the absence of spontaneous breathing and heartbeat) of clinical death. Shortly afterwards (within seconds) these are followed by the third, which occurs due to the loss of activity of the areas of the brain responsible for sustaining life (brainstem) and thought processes (cerebral cortex). Brain monitoring using EEG in animals and humans has also demonstrated that the brain ceases to function at that time. During a cardiac arrest, the blood pressure drops almost immediately to unrecordable levels and at the same time, due to a lack of blood flow, the brain stops functioning as seen by flat brain waves (isoelectric line) on the monitor within around 10 seconds. This then remains the case throughout the time when the heart is given 'electric shock' therapy or when drugs such as adrenaline are given until the heartbeat is finally restored and the patient is resuscitated. Due to the lack of brain function in these circumstances, therefore, one would not expect there to be any lucid, well-structured thought processes, with reasoning and memory formation, which are characteristic of NDEs.
    Nevertheless, and contrary to what we would expect scientifically, studies have shown that 'near death experiences' do occur in such situations. This therefore raises a question of how such lucid and well-structured thought processes, together with such clear and vivid memories, occur in individuals who have little or no brain function. In other words, it would appear that the mind is seen to continue in a clinical setting in which there is little or no brain function. In particular, there have been reports of people being able to 'see' details from the events that occurred during their cardiac arrest, such as their dentures being removed."
  20. May 2, 2003 #19

    This is a nice article, but it ignores certain hard to ignore facts. Indian Guru's have managed to sit on the bottom of swimming pools for hour, slowing their heart beat down to a few beats per minute. They've had twenty thousand volts passed across their chest with little or no harm done. And they've been able to fool experts into believing they are dead. None of these things can be explained by conventional medicine.

    Just because science cannot explain every supposidly supernatural event does not mean the supernatural exists. Nor for that matter does it mean the supernatural does not exist. What it does mean is that in just about every case investigated thus far by modern science a natural explanation has been found eventually. What it means for each of us as individuals is a personal issue as far as I am concerned and all I can say is, "No Comment."
  21. May 2, 2003 #20
    What about a "headache"?

    I think the feeling of being "absent" would then be a physical interpretation of the situation.
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