The Implications of Materialist Consciousness on Telepathy

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  • #1
Mentat
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This is something I've been struggling with. You see, in the materialistic framework (which I've gone through great pains to explain in previous threads) there is no real "narrative" of consciousness, merely the different processings and re-processings that occur in different parts of the brain.

So, if there is no real "stream" of consciousness, and there is no internal (physical or non-physical) mind (other than the whole brain, that is), then can telepathy still occur?

Any ideas on this are appreciated.
 

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  • #2
Mr. Robin Parsons
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Originally posted by Mentat
This is something I've been struggling with. You see, in the materialistic framework (which I've gone through great pains to explain in previous threads) there is no real "narrative" of consciousness, merely the different processings and re-processings that occur in different parts of the brain.
So, if there is no real "stream" of consciousness, and there is no internal (physical or non-physical) mind (other than the whole brain, that is), then can telepathy still occur?
Any ideas on this are appreciated.
Sorta simple problem arises from the idea that, just because you cannot prove the 'non-materialist' brain, doesn't actually prove it, either right, or wrong, it simple tells of our collective inability to prove it/something.
 
  • #3
Turtle
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then can telepathy still occur?
Um...No.
 
  • #4
Mr. Robin Parsons
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Originally posted by Mentat
then can telepathy still occur?
Originally posted by Turtle
Um...No.
Ummm, turtle, can you prove that??
 
  • #5
Turtle
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there is no internal (physical or non-physical) mind

The internal mind; the subconscious, therefore he is wrong.
 
  • #6
Mr. Robin Parsons
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Originally posted by Turtle
The internal mind; the subconscious, therefore he is wrong.
Sorry but that does NOT constitute a proof of anything, more then the simplicity of fact, that you just typed it, nothing more!
 
  • #7
hypnagogue
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Originally posted by Mentat
This is something I've been struggling with. You see, in the materialistic framework (which I've gone through great pains to explain in previous threads) there is no real "narrative" of consciousness, merely the different processings and re-processings that occur in different parts of the brain.

So, if there is no real "stream" of consciousness, and there is no internal (physical or non-physical) mind (other than the whole brain, that is), then can telepathy still occur?

Any ideas on this are appreciated.

Does not compute. Explain how our (still primitive) ability to describe consciousness in terms of physical brain function implies that there is no internal mind maybe? Define mind and stream of consciousness?
 
  • #8
Mentat
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Originally posted by Mr. Robin Parsons
Sorta simple problem arises from the idea that, just because you cannot prove the 'non-materialist' brain, doesn't actually prove it, either right, or wrong, it simple tells of our collective inability to prove it/something.

But I'm not denying it's existence just because I can't prove it. I'm denying it's existence because the very concept is logically flawed (in more than one way).

I had intended this post to be in the Philosophy Forum, but sometimes my multi-tasking catches up with me . Anyway, if it were on the Philosophy Forum, then those that were up on the more recent threads would know what logical flaws I was talking about.

As it is, I will explain one of them here (and hope that this thread gets moved soon):

If consciousness (or "the mind") is non-physical, then it would have no way of interacting with the physical brain/body. There would need to be an intermediary "channel" - that was somehow both physical and metaphysical (which is not possible, even in principle, since anything that is not physical is metaphysical) - in order for the "mind" to communicate with the brain...ergo, logically flawed.
 
  • #9
Mentat
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Originally posted by Turtle
The internal mind; the subconscious, therefore he is wrong.

The subconscious is as much a function of the brain as the conscious. Even most Idealists will accept that "knee-jerk" reactions are not conscious, but subconscious, and these can all be shown to occur in the spinal cord - which means that there needn't be any "internal mind" (an illogical concept ITFP, IMHO) to explain the subconscious.
 
  • #10
Mentat
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Originally posted by hypnagogue
Does not compute. Explain how our (still primitive) ability to describe consciousness in terms of physical brain function implies that there is no internal mind maybe?

See my first response to Mr. Robin Parsons. It isn't just unscientific, it also seems to be logically impossible (even in principle).

Define mind and stream of consciousness?

I have posited that these do not even exist. A "stream of consciousness" is, by Idealists, considered to be an on-going "stream" of consciously processed information. A sort of "narrative", if you will, of what a person is "thinking about".

The mind is, AFAIC, the brain. However, the Idealist will have you believe that the mind is non-physical and is what "controls the brain.
 
  • #11
TENYEARS
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Turtle is correct if that is the presumption. The second question is would the universe be possible under such a presumption?
 
  • #12
Turtle
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The subconscious is as much a function of the brain as the conscious. Even most
Idealists will accept that "knee-jerk" reactions are not conscious, but
subconscious, and these can all be shown to occur in the spinal cord - which
means that there needn't be any "internal mind" (an illogical concept ITFP, IMHO)
to explain the subconscious.

Yes, the subconscious is a function of the brain, ergo, interaction between the physical (Brain) and non-physical (conscious and subconscious)
 
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  • #13
TENYEARS
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I was replying on could telpathy occur if the universe was discret, like I said if it is discret is it possible? The question is for you.
 
  • #14
hypnagogue
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Originally posted by Mentat
If consciousness (or "the mind") is non-physical, then it would have no way of interacting with the physical brain/body. There would need to be an intermediary "channel" - that was somehow both physical and metaphysical (which is not possible, even in principle, since anything that is not physical is metaphysical) - in order for the "mind" to communicate with the brain...ergo, logically flawed.

You are critiquing a dualist philosophy. We can equate the mind with brain processes without sacrificing the existence of the mind. If anything, denying the existence of the mind is the most supremely logically flawed argument you can make, since the mind is really the only thing whose existence we can be absolutely sure of! All of your beliefs of existence, whatever they might be, are by definition only made possible in the first place by the existence of your mind.

I have posited that these do not even exist. A "stream of consciousness" is, by Idealists, considered to be an on-going "stream" of consciously processed information. A sort of "narrative", if you will, of what a person is "thinking about".

So? How is this inconsistent with a physical theory of mind? In this view a stream of consciousness would simply be the subjective interpretation and awareness of ongoing physical activities in the brain. There need not be a contradiction.

The mind is, AFAIC, the brain. However, the Idealist will have you believe that the mind is non-physical and is what "controls the brain.

Again, let us identify consciousness with a certain level of organization of brain processes. This level of brain processes is physically based and thus can interact with other levels of brain processes. It just so happens that this level of organization has the added property of subjective awareness. Thus, it is not incorrect to say that conscious thoughts can influence or "control" other brain processes.
 
  • #15
Turtle
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I was replying on could telpathy occur if the universe was discret, like I said if it
is discret is it possible? The question is for you.
No, telepathy would not occur.
 
  • #16
phoenixthoth
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i can sometimes finish peoples sentences even after just one or two words. a form of telepathy? just intuition? who knows.

the telepathy I've encountered did not occur on the level of thoughts, images, emotions, or sensations. yet there was this sense that there was an understanding without a formulation into the concrete, the measurable, the observable. thus a scientific quandry; it appears that the tool called science will be of no help in this area of thought.

i'm reading "zen and the art of motorcycle mainenence" and in it, poincare is spoken about. he's a scientist, philosopher, and mathematician. he notices that ideas that are solutions to outstanding questions occur to him at the oddest times, like when stepping onto the bus, without direction from the "consciousness" in the usual sense. without application of focus or concentration; only in a state of relaxation to the most brilliant insights occur. others simply labeled him a genius but he was evidently unsatisfied with this explanation. kaku says that there are people who are occasionally lucky (in research) and those who are CONSISTANTLY "lucky." poincare identifies a part of consciousness as being responsible for the insights and calls it something like subliminal consciousness. phaedrus, the main character in the book, calls it preintellectual awareness. I've called it my higher self. the higher self is the bridge between the soul and the body (including the brain). the direction my research is going is this: rather than just be satisfied with the higher self randomly leaking information to your little self's brain, why not seek to TAP INTO IT all the time??

i think it's possible that the higher self indeed has a physical form but that it lives in higher dimensional space. from higher dimensional space, 3D things appear to all be connected, living in the same flat world. the powers of a four (or more) dimensional being apply.

sorry for not having crystallized my theory much before presenting it though i suspect this is just the tip of the iceburg; i suspect that everyone has a higher self, an inner being that from a 3D perspective is a genius that can be tapped into directly rather than just accidentally.

may your journey be graceful,
phoenix
 
  • #17
Dark Wing
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A materialistic View does not rule out flow of consciousness (as hypnagogue has rightly pointed out) as far as a materialistic repercussion on telepathy goes, it is a slightly harder questions. If you were talking about the kind of "energy imprint" that is supposedly left on an object or a space where an act has occurred, this would be rather hard to explain materialistically. Is this the kind of telepathy you would include into your definition, or is this kind entirely limited to psychics?

As far as two peoples energies converging, reading into each others minds, there may be explanations on a materialistic level that do not conclude that you have in fact somehow converged minds as it were. Finishing each other’s sentences, for instance, could simply be in virtue of the same paths being activated with your semantic memory links. This doesn’t imply some breaching of one mind with another.

I cannot comment on a 'higher self' present in another dimension, it is not something that can really be shown to or not to exist (though maybe with help of a more developed science scope then we currently have, unless there is something of which I am not aware, we might be able to ask and test questions such as these).

phoenixthoth, out of curiosity, are you a believer in a priori knowledge?

I do not believe that there is anything that some form of science will not be able to at least inquire into, even if it is in a more non-material realm. For the things that you are talking to actually be, even if you claim they are non-material, from your position it seems they still have an effect on the material world. this is something in which science can measure.

As far as I am aware, there are studies being done on telepathy, mainly on the reliability of the people who claim to hold telepathic ability compared to those who purport to have none. if these results find no greater ability in the telepathic to the control, one could argue that all have telepathic ability and just are unaware of it even when they are using it. But I would imagine (and correct me if I am miss representing telepathy here) that a phenomenon like telepathy is a skill that grows with time and practice, if this is indeed the case then you would expect the telepathist’s, who regularly practice their skill (I would imagine) would still be more accurate than the control. Is anyone aware of such studies, or know of any to discuss? if there are, and the results are positive, then science can help you in this field, its just not very advanced in methodology yet.

If there is nothing outside the material, there will be a materialistic answer to telepathy. it won’t rule it out, it will just explain why we think it exists. Even if there is something outside the materialistic world, it is obviously having an effect on the material world (how is quite another, complex question) and therefore can still be studied by 'materialistic' science.
 
  • #18
TENYEARS
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Ok three strikes and out, guess the bad was on me for not being clear. If the universe is of the discret telepathy would be imppossible. Agreed.

The question is would the universe be possible if matter is discret.

Darkwing, if you were born into darkness or you were born into light when would you know the difference? Did you know part of your prremise of what you spoke is actually the opposite of the king with no cloths. The (kings) say all you people, you have no cloths on, and all the people agree. If the people acknowlged the cloths what else would they acknolege and if they did would it be a great enough force to change that which is comming.
 
  • #19
Dark Wing
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TENYEARS, you posted
Darkwing, if you were born into darkness or you were born into light when would you know the difference? Did you know part of your prremise of what you spoke is actually the opposite of the king with no cloths. The (kings) say all you people, you have no cloths on, and all the people agree. If the people acknowlged the cloths what else would they acknolege and if they did would it be a great enough force to change that which is comming.

I am not too sure what you are getting at here. Do you mean that we only know what we are exposed to, and that once we start questioning outside our terrain of what we have been told/ think to be true/can actually see we are entering unstable ground?

My argument was simply that if this thing called telepathy is in fact a non-material thing, a function of the brain or 'spirit' that brain science/biology cannot explain as something else, then we still have access to it via scientific inquiry as it seems to have an effect on the materialistic world. At what point would I know darkness if I was born into light? when I experienced darkness, or had found a way to inquire into it even if I could not see it. how do we know we are looking for even if we came up next to it when we knew nothing about it? we test it. we observe it. let's see the effects, and infer what we can from them. yes, go question everything, and only believe in the things that you have justified reasoning to believe in. telepathy either exists as an extra sensory phenomenon that lies outside of the material world, or it is a folk explanation for a complex physical phenomena. if the latter, then telepathy and materialism are not incompatible. this is all.

If I have completely misread you I apologize.
 
  • #20
Mr. Robin Parsons
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Humm, without sidetracking the arguements, nothing about it can be proven, thus; you are entitled to admiting that you think (a belief) it is a "real, and existent phenomenon", or professing a belief (you think) that it is NOT a "real, and existent phenomenon".
Those being the options, choose for yourself whatever you believe, or think you have experienced.....(but cannot prove! to anyone, other then yourself)
 
  • #21
TENYEARS
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No apologies needed either way. The point of being born into total darkness or into total light is that you do no know the difference until you step out of it. Until that moment you would think that all that you are is normal and everyone is like you. Only when you step out of your circle and see different people, cultures etc... Do you see that what you realize is true, but that some people do not know it exists withing themselves even if they perform it unconciously and mark it as something else or just write it off.

The king(s) in mmy viewpoint is not so much so called science(is controlled by the following), but big business, goverentments and those who look to profit from human kind and ravage the planet. You see if the the truth is known suddenly you must project out ward fromt that truth conciously or unconciously. In that moment and in that moment alone will the world be able to bear such a truth.
 
  • #22
Mr. Robin Parsons
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Humm, you are born into a place of BOTH "Light" and "Darkness", isn't that obvious(?), for that is how/why you can know the difference.
After that, "all" is simply discourse upon concordant/discordant expression of relative Truths.
 
  • #23
Mentat
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Originally posted by TENYEARS
Turtle is correct if that is the presumption. The second question is would the universe be possible under such a presumption?

If what is the assumption?
 
  • #24
Mentat
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Originally posted by hypnagogue
You are critiquing a dualist philosophy. We can equate the mind with brain processes without sacrificing the existence of the mind. If anything, denying the existence of the mind is the most supremely logically flawed argument you can make, since the mind is really the only thing whose existence we can be absolutely sure of! All of your beliefs of existence, whatever they might be, are by definition only made possible in the first place by the existence of your mind.

Sure enough, and I don't doubt the existence of my mind, I just completely equate it with my brain. There is no difference (such is my current opinion).

So? How is this inconsistent with a physical theory of mind? In this view a stream of consciousness would simply be the subjective interpretation and awareness of ongoing physical activities in the brain. There need not be a contradiction.

Yes there is a contradiction, if any of it is "subjective". You cannot be "aware of ongoing processes in the brain", there's no way for you to "see" your brain! Thus, if you posit that consciousness is the subjective experience of what goes on in the brain, then it is something other than the brain itself that is "conscious" of this "experience".

Again, let us identify consciousness with a certain level of organization of brain processes. This level of brain processes is physically based and thus can interact with other levels of brain processes. It just so happens that this level of organization has the added property of subjective awareness.

Not in the purely materialistic PoV. I want this to be absolutely clear (though I have made the same point in another thread): in the purely materialistic paradigm, there is nothing that isn't physical. There are no "emergent properties" (which are subjectively experienced as a "result of physical processes), since there is nothing but the physical.

Thus, it is not incorrect to say that conscious thoughts can influence or "control" other brain processes.

A conscious though doesn't exist, in the materialistic paradigm. The idea of a "conscious thought" is an illusion, a "trick" that the brain plays on itself. Much of this has already been covered, and is being discussed in this thread.
 
  • #25
hypnagogue
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Originally posted by Mentat
Yes there is a contradiction, if any of it is "subjective". You cannot be "aware of ongoing processes in the brain", there's no way for you to "see" your brain! Thus, if you posit that consciousness is the subjective experience of what goes on in the brain, then it is something other than the brain itself that is "conscious" of this "experience".

The brain produces consciousness. Hence, activity in the brain is not being observed by a detached awareness; rather, activity in the brain is the subjective awareness itself. There is no contradiction.

Not in the purely materialistic PoV. I want this to be absolutely clear (though I have made the same point in another thread): in the purely materialistic paradigm, there is nothing that isn't physical. There are no "emergent properties" (which are subjectively experienced as a "result of physical processes), since there is nothing but the physical.

And yet we know that subjective experience exists. How to reconcile the apparent duality between material existence and mental existence? Simple: reconceive our notion of the nature of material existence itself. Namely, it appears as if "material" and "mental" are really two sides of the same coin.

A conscious though doesn't exist, in the materialistic paradigm. The idea of a "conscious thought" is an illusion, a "trick" that the brain plays on itself. Much of this has already been covered, and is being discussed in this thread.

Well, then either you are redefining what a "conscious thought" is, or the materialist paradigm is wrong. Simple as that. Conscious thoughts exist axiomatically; we cannot reason our way out of it. It doesn't matter if you call consciousness a trick or illusion, the fact of the matter is that it still exists. Calling consciousness an illusion really does not change the issue at hand; trying to describe how material reality can create the "illusion" of consciousness is every bit as problematic as trying to describe how it can create "actual" consciousness, whatever that might be and however it might be different from "illusory" consciousness. In either situation, we still have the problem of how to explain the absolutely undeniable existence of qualia.
 
  • #26
Royce
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It seems to me, if I assume a "purely materialist" POV, that the brain's electrochemical processes create electromagnetic waves. This is proven and well known. If two brains happen to be in tune at any given point in time it would be possible to receive these brain waves and properly perceive them as thoughts. This would be no different than receiving a radio transmission and converting it to intelligable sound. This would be telepathy of sorts.
From the idealistic POV, since we are all connected in the same reality, telepathy could be easily explained.
That it exists is not really the question as there is adequate ancedotal proof. That it can be controlled or be a vollentary phenomena is something else again.
 
  • #27
Mr. Robin Parsons
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Originally posted by Mentat
(SNIP) Sure enough, and I don't doubt the existence of my mind, I just completely equate it with my brain. There is no difference (such is my current opinion). (SNoP)
Then how do you resolve the appearance of paradox in the simple fact of you not being in complete control of 'Brain', as in regulations of liver functions, kidneys, breathing (semi), heartrate, pancreatic functions, spleen, cascadence of hormonal elements in clamitious situations, which should, if you were in complete control, be eminently all controlable.
Is it not the possible that you/your experience of "Self" is actually the metaphysical link that you seek, but do not recognize due to your overfamiliarity with the experience, and that the Mind thing is actually a metaphysical reality (spirit) that acts in a physical realm, as to contain the elemental you, in between the two?
Science cannot prove that EGO 'exists' in the brain, other then the subjective evidence, and the obviousness of the consequences of a frontal lobotomy, notwithstanding the simplicity that, that act might simply cease completely the ability of 'Ego' to enact communications, through Spirit, (corporeality) but that Ego might still exist....


As I have sated, No proving it!
 
  • #28
Mentat
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Originally posted by hypnagogue
The brain produces consciousness. Hence, activity in the brain is not being observed by a detached awareness; rather, activity in the brain is the subjective awareness itself. There is no contradiction.

Re-examine the above quoted paragraph. You are correct (IMO) that the activity of the brain is the subjective awareness itself. However, that is in contrast to the (mildly, and quite decievingly, Idealistic) idea that the brain "produces" consciousness. To "produce" something implies that it is something other than yourself. So, if the brain "produces" conscious experience, then the conscious experience itself is not (as you say, and as I (currently) hold) the brain activity, but is "produced" by that brain activity.

And yet we know that subjective experience exists. How to reconcile the apparent duality between material existence and mental existence? Simple: reconceive our notion of the nature of material existence itself. Namely, it appears as if "material" and "mental" are really two sides of the same coin.

There is no need whatsoever to reconceive our notions of material existence. Especially not when I have given the outline of a purely materialistic concept of consciousness in the thread that I referred you to.

Well, then either you are redefining what a "conscious thought" is, or the materialist paradigm is wrong. Simple as that. Conscious thoughts exist axiomatically; we cannot reason our way out of it. It doesn't matter if you call consciousness a trick or illusion, the fact of the matter is that it still exists.

Yes, it still does exist, but it itself is an activity of the brain. It is nothing other than that activity. That's all the materialistic paradigm requires. The fact that I call it a "trick" is because of our tendency (by human nature?) to separate conscious experience from the workings of the brain.

Calling consciousness an illusion really does not change the issue at hand; trying to describe how material reality can create the "illusion" of consciousness is every bit as problematic as trying to describe how it can create "actual" consciousness, whatever that might be and however it might be different from "illusory" consciousness. In either situation, we still have the problem of how to explain the absolutely undeniable existence of qualia.

But I have attempted just such a description. All it (the materialistic position) requires is that you no longer think that the "purple cow" exists, but that certain parts of your brain (including, but not limited to, stored memories) have been activated by a process that requires no central "will" - the "will" itself being produced by many parts of the brain working in a way that it is familiar with.
 
  • #29
Mentat
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Originally posted by Mr. Robin Parsons
Then how do you resolve the appearance of paradox in the simple fact of you not being in complete control of 'Brain', as in regulations of liver functions, kidneys, breathing (semi), heartrate, pancreatic functions, spleen, cascadence of hormonal elements in clamitious situations, which should, if you were in complete control, be eminently all controlable.

I never said I was in complete control of my brain. Where did you get that from?

Is it not the possible that you/your experience of "Self" is actually the metaphysical link that you seek, but do not recognize due to your overfamiliarity with the experience, and that the Mind thing is actually a metaphysical reality (spirit) that acts in a physical realm, as to contain the elemental you, in between the two?
Science cannot prove that EGO 'exists' in the brain, other then the subjective evidence, and the obviousness of the consequences of a frontal lobotomy, notwithstanding the simplicity that, that act might simply cease completely the ability of 'Ego' to enact communications, through Spirit, (corporeality) but that Ego might still exist....

The "self" (which I referred to as the "mind" in the partial quote that you quoted) is not just that which is consciously experienced, but also (in fact, IMO, mainly) the unconscious activities of the brain. For further discussion on this particular point, I highly recommend The Synaptic Self, by Joseph Le Doux.
 
  • #30
hypnagogue
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Originally posted by Mentat
Re-examine the above quoted paragraph. You are correct (IMO) that the activity of the brain is the subjective awareness itself. However, that is in contrast to the (mildly, and quite decievingly, Idealistic) idea that the brain "produces" consciousness. To "produce" something implies that it is something other than yourself. So, if the brain "produces" conscious experience, then the conscious experience itself is not (as you say, and as I (currently) hold) the brain activity, but is "produced" by that brain activity.

Well, if you really want to split semantic hairs, we can say the brain "produces" consciousness in the same sense we can say the brain "produces" electrochemical activity. The word "produces" just emphasizes that consciousness is achieved as a result of an active process.

There is no need whatsoever to reconceive our notions of material existence. Especially not when I have given the outline of a purely materialistic concept of consciousness in the thread that I referred you to.

If consciousness is an emergent phenomenon of brain activity, then as with all other emergent phenomena, we need a bridge principle that shows how the whole can be intelligibly linked to its parts. We have such principles, for instance, for the behavior of fluids in terms of the interactions of their constituent parts. Under the traditional materialist paradigm, we have understandings of the objective brain and subjective consciousness, but not intelligible bridge principle making the latter intelligible in terms of the former. For instance, there is nothing in the materialist account that can describe how it is exactly that a bunch of electrons racing around in a brain can be linked to the qualia we call "red."

Direct me to a particular post in the bias against materialism thread if you wish and I'll address it here, but I'm not really up to slogging through the entire thread trying to find your argument.

Yes, it still does exist, but it itself is an activity of the brain. It is nothing other than that activity. That's all the materialistic paradigm requires. The fact that I call it a "trick" is because of our tendency (by human nature?) to separate conscious experience from the workings of the brain.

It is natural and useful to make such distinctions. How often when pouring a cup of water do you think of the electrostatic dynamics of millions of polar molecules?

The case with consciousness is more severe because there is an apparent ontological dichotomy we have to work with, which is here to stay no matter how much we explain or believe that consciousness = brain activity. Even if we are not dualists, we still have to contend with things of a subjective nature vs. things of an objective nature. Perhaps in your refusal to reconsider your notions of material reality in order to attempt an intelligible bridge principle, it is actually you who is separating the workings of the brain from conscious experience.

But I have attempted just such a description. All it (the materialistic position) requires is that you no longer think that the "purple cow" exists, but that certain parts of your brain (including, but not limited to, stored memories) have been activated by a process that requires no central "will" - the "will" itself being produced by many parts of the brain working in a way that it is familiar with.

The purple cow exists, as a conglomeration of qualia. How does activity in your brain intelligibly account for qualia?
 
  • #31
Mr. Robin Parsons
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Originally posted by Mentat
I never said I was in complete control of my brain. Where did you get that from?
Humm the question I had posed was:
The original question MRP posed
Then how do you resolve the appearance of paradox in the simple fact of you not being in complete control of 'Brain',

Just because you refer to "Self" in conjunction with "all brain activity", doesn't prove it, and is actually quite illogical as, when you where an infant all, of those brain functions went on without your knowning it, at all, and they are all functions of a level, and order, that wasn't demonstrable in the "presentable" mind, nor the "Egoist" mind, but "Self" was still a very clearly represented thing.

Perhaps your enclosure of the idea of "Self" is what is limiting your ability to see that that "self" is actually the metaphysical connector, not the operator of the corporeal vessel.
 
  • #32
Mentat
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Originally posted by hypnagogue
Well, if you really want to split semantic hairs, we can say the brain "produces" consciousness in the same sense we can say the brain "produces" electrochemical activity. The word "produces" just emphasizes that consciousness is achieved as a result of an active process.

Good enough. Sorry if I seemed anal about the semantics, but sometimes the use of the wrong terms (even just slightly "wrong") can lead to complete misunderstanding.

If consciousness is an emergent phenomenon of brain activity, then as with all other emergent phenomena, we need a bridge principle that shows how the whole can be intelligibly linked to its parts. We have such principles, for instance, for the behavior of fluids in terms of the interactions of their constituent parts. Under the traditional materialist paradigm, we have understandings of the objective brain and subjective consciousness, but not intelligible bridge principle making the latter intelligible in terms of the former. For instance, there is nothing in the materialist account that can describe how it is exactly that a bunch of electrons racing around in a brain can be linked to the qualia we call "red."

Yes there is (but actually, when it's singular it's "quality" :wink:).

"Red" is word. It refers to the way that most humans process a particular wavelength of light. Not all humans process it the same, and (obviously) not all animals process it the same, so there is nothing "red" about any particular beam of light, it's just the way that some animals process it and hold in memory for future reference.

Direct me to a particular post in the bias against materialism thread if you wish and I'll address it here, but I'm not really up to slogging through the entire thread trying to find your argument.

I can understand that completely, it's gotten huge!

I think the post I've been referring to is the post that outlines Dennett's explanation of conscious "choice" in a materialistic framework. That is found at page 43, second post down, of "Why the bias against materialism?".

It is natural and useful to make such distinctions. How often when pouring a cup of water do you think of the electrostatic dynamics of millions of polar molecules?

Good point.

The case with consciousness is more severe because there is an apparent ontological dichotomy we have to work with, which is here to stay no matter how much we explain or believe that consciousness = brain activity. Even if we are not dualists, we still have to contend with things of a subjective nature vs. things of an objective nature. Perhaps in your refusal to reconsider your notions of material reality in order to attempt an intelligible bridge principle, it is actually you who is separating the workings of the brain from conscious experience.

I figured you'd say this at some point or other, however I think this is a result of a misconception, based on all of the proposed materialist theories of consciousness that fall into the Cartesian trap. However, Dennett's model studiously avoids this trap at every turn, and (sometimes) even points out where others have failed in this attempt in the past.

The purple cow exists, as a conglomeration of qualia. How does activity in your brain intelligibly account for qualia?

Simple. What happened when I first became conscious of the wavelength of light that the typical human processes as "purple"? It was stored away for future reference in my memory. The same thing happened when I first saw a cow.

So, when any physical stimulus that bears any resemblance to concepts that my "pattern-recognition" portions of my brain recognize as being related to those particular memories (cows and purple), they stimulate a response in all of the portions of the brain that responded every other time I saw "purple" or "cow". Thus, when I ask you to "visualize a purple cow", I am merely asking that you merge two memories, by stimulating the visual centers of the brain in the way that you normally would to recognize a cow, while at the same time conditioning them as you would to recognize "purple".

You see? And there is no dualism required, even though I used the term "you", since it can be gathered (rather easily) that this process will occur with the appropriate stimulus, whether there is a central "self" (which I don't think there is) or not.
 
  • #33
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Originally posted by Mr. Robin Parsons
Just because you refer to "Self" in conjunction with "all brain activity", doesn't prove it, and is actually quite illogical as, when you where an infant all, of those brain functions went on without your knowning it, at all, and they are all functions of a level, and order, that wasn't demonstrable in the "presentable" mind, nor the "Egoist" mind, but "Self" was still a very clearly represented thing.

The error is on your part, since you are equating "self" with "conscious self". The "self" is the whole organism, but the "conscious self" evolved from the "self" as our brains' abilities developed.
 
  • #34
hypnagogue
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Originally posted by Mentat
Good enough. Sorry if I seemed anal about the semantics, but sometimes the use of the wrong terms (even just slightly "wrong") can lead to complete misunderstanding.

It's cool, I can see where you're coming from.

"Red" is word. It refers to the way that most humans process a particular wavelength of light. Not all humans process it the same, and (obviously) not all animals process it the same, so there is nothing "red" about any particular beam of light, it's just the way that some animals process it and hold in memory for future reference.

This doesn't address the question I posed. More on this later.

I think the post I've been referring to is the post that outlines Dennett's explanation of conscious "choice" in a materialistic framework. That is found at page 43, second post down, of "Why the bias against materialism?".

Ditto for this post.

I figured you'd say this at some point or other, however I think this is a result of a misconception, based on all of the proposed materialist theories of consciousness that fall into the Cartesian trap. However, Dennett's model studiously avoids this trap at every turn, and (sometimes) even points out where others have failed in this attempt in the past.

But if we are to really address the question of what consciousness is, the nature and genesis of subjective phenomena cannot be artfully danced around. It is the central issue.

Simple. What happened when I first became conscious of the wavelength of light that the typical human processes as "purple"? It was stored away for future reference in my memory. The same thing happened when I first saw a cow.

So, when any physical stimulus that bears any resemblance to concepts that my "pattern-recognition" portions of my brain recognize as being related to those particular memories (cows and purple), they stimulate a response in all of the portions of the brain that responded every other time I saw "purple" or "cow". Thus, when I ask you to "visualize a purple cow", I am merely asking that you merge two memories, by stimulating the visual centers of the brain in the way that you normally would to recognize a cow, while at the same time conditioning them as you would to recognize "purple".

This is a very rough sketch of how I put together the conglomeration that I call the purple cow. But it still does not explain the purpleness of the cow, i.e., the neurological basis of the subjective phenomenon of its visual appearance. You are describing how a house is built; I am asking, how did the wood come into existence? This is not a perfect analogy, but I think it gets the point across.

For simplicity, let's speak only of color perception. We can speak all we want of how various processes in the brain account for how the wavelength of light is stored, processed, etc. This still does not get at the central issue. A calculator does computations all the time, but we (most of us) would not say that the calculator has any sort of subjective experience. To describe the brain as a materialistic calculator might explain how conscious content is organized, but it does not account for consciousness itself. How do electrochemical processes on one side of the equation give rise to the subjective experience of the color red on the other? This question, I believe, is not satisfactorily answerable in the conventional materialist paradigm.
 
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  • #35
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Originally posted by hypnagogue
It's cool, I can see where you're coming from.

Nice to see we're on the same frequency here :smile:.

But if we are to really address the question of what consciousness is, the nature and genesis of subjective phenomena cannot be artfully danced around. It is the central issue.

Not if I postulate from the beginning that subjective phenomena were never generated in the first place. If I can explain why we might believe that subjective phenomena are generated, when they really are not, then I would have circumvented the "central issue", since it doesn't need resolution if it's asking the wrong question.

This is a very rough sketch of how I put together the conglomeration that I call the purple cow. But it still does not explain the purpleness of the cow, i.e., the neurological basis of the subjective phenomenon of its visual appearance. You are describing how a house is built; I am asking, how did the wood come into existence? This is not a perfect analogy, but I think it gets the point across.

Sure. However, there is no subjective "wood" in the brain, merely the processing itself. IOW, you never really produced a house, you just processed that it was there, and that was enough (no wood required). This occurs (most likely) at a synaptic level, but is really only a question of how we process, encode, and remember information.

For simplicity, let's speak only of color perception. We can speak all we want of how various processes in the brain account for how the wavelength of light is stored, processed, etc. This still does not get at the central issue. A calculator does computations all the time, but we (most of us) would not say that the calculator has any sort of subjective experience.

And here you hit at the same point that I tried to make before with my computer analogy. Yes, the computer never has subjective experience, but we don't either in the sense that you think we do. Remember my analogy? Basically I was saying that a computer doesn't have a monitor or speakers for it's own benefit, since it doesn't process in terms of pictures or text or sound. It processes only in binary code, which is how it encodes all external stimuli, and how it remembers them. Since our brains are just organic computers, there is no need for us to have "monitors" to visibly display "color" in our brains, since there is no "viewer" there to see this display ITFP.

The only reason we describe it as "pictures" and "text" is because those are the only outlets and the only inputs that we have used throughout our evolutionary history.

To describe the brain as a materialistic calculator might explain how conscious content is organized, but it does not account for consciousness itself. How do electrochemical processes on one side of the equation give rise to the subjective experience of the color red on the other? This question, I believe, is not satisfactorily answerable in the conventional materialist paradigm.

But it doesn't "give rise" to this "subjective experience" of color. It doesn't need to.

Think of this, if I were to draw a red rose on a piece of paper, I would be inducing physical stimuli, so that your brain would recognize that which you had seen before, and identify it (all of this occurring in the brain's own code (the synaptic code)). The subjective experience is not of the picture of the rose, but of the subsequent mental processes that occur as a result of that physical stimulus.
 

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