Does the brain really "cause" consciousness?

Discussion in 'General Philosophy' started by Magical Realist, Dec 8, 2012.

  1. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

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    Considering just how much of the brain functions unconsciously or "in the dark", it seems odd that there would evolve a less efficient conscious version of its functioning in parallel to these involuntary functions. What would be the advantage of having to think about what our brain is already processing for us? Why not just continue to evolve a brain that does all that it does without consciousness, much as say a zombie would have? This suggests a strange superfluity to consciousness, as if it is something not really necessary to brain functioning but additional to it, happening more for its own sake than for any other reason.
     
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  3. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

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    Indeed. Humanity seems to be headed in that direction anyway. Although "headed" might not be the best word.
     
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  5. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

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    The car industry has some awareness of the need to produce things that actually work and are immediately useful. Unlike some other fields of human effort.


    Well, the story goes that Vedic men, either due to lack of suitable women or their (ie. the men's) contempt for intercourse, planted their seed in clay jars and grew children in them.
    Well, those Vedic men needed to reincarnate too! Ha ha.
     
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  7. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

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    Perhaps you are looking at it the wrong way... in that you think the consciousness is more than just a self-observing passenger that is under the illusion of having control. Consciousness in this regard (as opposed to the meaning of consciousness that merely equates it to "life") might merely be a by-product of the increased complexity of the brain... our higher-functioning has developed to the point where it can only operate with such a level of self-reference that it becomes aware of itself and can thus build those feedback loops into its very functioning, but in doing so there arises an outlet for the self-refencing that only survives under illusion of control. So it does not happen "for its own sake" but is possibly a by-product of the complex self-refencing that goes on within the brain.

    But feel free to stick with your argument from personal incredulity.
     
  8. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

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    Yeah, because we do science, and in science, people don't matter!
     
  9. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

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    You need to clarify what you mean by "dies" and "death"... as I would say that our DNA can survive quite happily after the death of a body's consciousness assuming that the DNA is maintained adequately... as demonstrated by organ transplantation.
    Will the brain still work? Parts of it might well do, depending on one's definition of "death"... but the brain is rather more susceptible to irreversible decay... it is a more finely balanced organ in that regard. So while the material of the brain may appear to still exist, it appears unlikely to exist in the state necessary to support consciousness, such is its delicate nature.
    But I'm sure scientists somewhere are investigating the matter.
     
  10. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

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    Not sure I follow the relevance of this comment, let alone the veracity. Care to elaborate?
     
  11. spidergoat Venued Serial Memberlist Valued Senior Member

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    It isn't always an advantage. Just look at how successful plants and simple animals are. But there is an advantage in some more complex species. For instance, when breath is voluntary, we can swim underwater. I think in mankind's natural state, we don't need to use conscious thought all that much. But when you consider consciously learned skills like making a stone axe or something, the advantage becomes clear.
     
  12. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

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    Sorry but I just don't buy your premise that consciousness exerts no control over brain function or our actions. At this very moment I am using words in a very deliberate and conscious sense, creating a line of thought that would not otherwise arise. When I decide to do something, I consciously consider the risks and rewards of taking such an action. Those thoughts effect my my end decision. I'm not a robot doing all this unconsciously. But while we're here, perhaps you could tell me the survival advantage of having the illusion of volition and intention when in fact we don't. To what avail is it that we mistake the cause of our behavior for our own conscious choice? If my choice is already predetermined, wouldn't it be better to just face that and get on with the business of doing what we are already predisposed towards doing? Why this waste of time and brain power vascillating in a fantasy of conscious decisions?
     
  13. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

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    I agree. It seems consciousness really only took off evolutionarily-speaking after we formed societies and language and culture. With the development of technology came the need for learning procedures, generalizing, and figuring out problems for ourselves. Also living now in communities we had to learn to empathize with each other and to cooperate with each other towards achieving shared goals. Over time the need to be more conscious might therefore have overridden that for any instinctively-driven hunting skills.
     
  14. lightgigantic Banned Banned

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    Never under-estimate human ingenuity

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    I guess the problem with many "so the story goes" anecdotes are that they are inaccurate and more a platform for persons to express their grievances

    :shrug:
     
  15. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

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    Well, the current fans of DNA and scientism - who do you think they were in previous lifetimes?
     
  16. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

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    As usual, you throw away the baby along with the bathwater; this time, almost literally.

    If a pharmaceutical company would advertise a medication as follows:

    Our newest medication is sure to solve the problem of cancer, because it effectively kills all cancer cells. In the process, it will probably kill the person in whom the cancer cells live, too. But this shouldn't be a concern, because our common goal is to eradicate cancer.

    and if cancer patients wouldn't be eager to take it, would you blame them for falsely appealing to personal incredulity?
     
  17. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

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    And this relates to my comments... how, exactly? Where am I in any way suggesting that one "eradicate the whole just to eliminate a part"?
     
  18. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

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    First, I don't hold to choices being predetermined. I think everything is caused, and is purely the result of those causes (and quantum uncertainty) but this need not equate to predeterminism.
    Secondly, the survival advantage is possibly that without such illusions, our brain could not achieve the complexity that it does. If we were not bound by those illusions then perhaps we would not be conscious, we would not be able to be conscious, and that would actually hamper the working ability and potential of our brain.
    It is perhaps not that consciousness per se gives us our evolutionary advantage but rather it is perhaps merely a necessary component to develop beyond a certain point.

    You can claim you are not a robot, and from one side of any illusion you are, and from the other side you are not.
    Unfortunately there is no way to know whether it is illusory or not.

    But working from the basic principles of science the rational conclusion is that it is an illusion... not that it doesn't exist, but that it is not what it might appear to be (hence illusory... not non-existant).


    Thirdly, I don't say that the brain "exerts no control" - but rather I say that consciousness IS the working brain. It is an activity of the brain, arising from its operations. To speak of a brain controlling consciousness or vice versa is to speak of a wave controlling the medium it is in, or colour controlling its wavelength.
    I.e. it is more apt, I think, to consider consciousness as a property of a working brain... the property being the activity itself.
     
  19. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

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    I'm not sure I understand how something that is physically caused is not being predetermined by those causes. Ideally we could imagine a scientist who has so reduced all conscious thought and volition to physical processes in a brain that he can know in advance whatever that person will think. Hasn't this amounted to a predetermination of conscious states by physical states? OTOH, we can find examples in the world where physical causes DO result in an indeterminative states--random processes, chaotic processes and certain quantum states. Are you saying consciousness might be like one of these phenomena?




    A sort of payoff we have to make for being, at present at least, more complex than we ourselves can understand. That's makes sense..History is also filled with humans evolving delusions that served some need in us to be more at ease and less driven by fear. Religion is one of these. In areas where truth doesn't really matter either way, the more comforting belief may end up serving to promote a happier and more harmonious existence overall especially when shared by many others in our society. Atheism may be the truth, but in the past it could end up getting you burned at the stake rather quickly.







    I appreciate that you are taking an epiphenomenal position on this issue. But given that so much is still up in the air in this field, I still maintain that we have in fact an intuitive phenomenal experience of ourselves causing our own brain operations and physical processes. Think of something sexy to you, and your body will begin responding accordingly. Relive in your memory an emotional event in your past, and you will experience those same emotions. These are all examples of thought influencing the brain. How can mere thought and imagination induce reactions in our body exactly the same as if we were perceiving the things that we are imagining?
     
  20. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

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    By denigrating any and all concerns over how this or that outlook plays out in a real person's life, into a fallacious appeal to emotion and personal incredulity.
     
  21. R1D2 many leagues under the sea. Valued Senior Member

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    :d

    Our brains are stimulated. We are in reality in stasis plugged into a matrix. Powering machines, and being a copper top is what we really do.
     
  22. hansda Valued Senior Member

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    "Consciousness(C)" can be considered as the difference between a "living-body(L)" and a "dead-body(D)". In equation form this can be written as: C = L - D or D = L - C. So, when 'consciousness' is out of a 'living body'; it can be considered as "death" or "dead body" or "body dies".



    Organ transplantation means, organ is surviving in another living body. The organ can not survive in a dead-body.


    Brain works in four states. These are (1)unconscious, (2)conscious, (3)subconscious and (4) super-conscious states. After death, "brain" is in neither of these four states of working brain.


    Is this your speculation or you have some evidence? What are their findings?
     
  23. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

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    I have not denigrated "any and all concerns" - I have merely addressed the arguments as posted - and to me they smacked of personal incredulity.
    But perhaps you might care to actually offer some argument rather than just claim foul?
     

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