Discussion in 'General Philosophy' started by duendy, Nov 7, 2005.
What IS consciousness?
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does the brain produce consciousness, wich is believed by physicalist sccience.....does cnsciousness produce metter as is believed by dualists....or are we to lok elsewhere?..are rocks conscious? atoms? quarks?..the wind?.....or does consciousness rely on the human brain....comeon give up ideas...........
Holy smokes, what a luhvely topic!
Consciousness is, I say. It is a quality of existence. And we exist in consciousness, reside in it.
Consciousness is a process (biochemical and electrical reactions between neurons) where brain* evaluates incoming (or new, self created) information against the data that has already been stored in it.
* It can be other organs or cells too (example - heliotropism), depends on the life form.
Consciousness is an interesting topic, there seems to be a fundamental paradox lurking behind any precise definition of consciousness. All too often philosophers discussing consciousness are talking right past one another because there is a curious self-reference intrinsic to the idea.
I'm going to argue that consciousness cannot be a quality of existence. After all, the subjective qualities of the world (qualia) are what we are conscious OF. The inverse of what you are saying, water, is true: consciousness does exist. This is a reformulation of the cogito, but one even more impervious to doubt. Regardless of whether there is a self or a thought, consciousness is still direct, immediate and present. It is the foundation of self-evidence. For this reason, it's also a paradox--the question of the nature of consciousness is another way of stating the mind-body problem. It's a singularity which is, at the same time, the medium through which both subjective thoughts and objective sense-data are interpreted, interact and made into one thing. The mind-body problem is along the lines of: well, thoughts and ideas are different sorts of 'things' than the real-world phenomena they refer to, like viruses, baseballs, airplanes, etc. Mental and physical substances cannot be reduced to one another, and they seem to be so different that it's difficult to construct a theory as to how they interact. Consciousness, so difficult to explain, accomplishes this mediation of the mental and the physical, since it transcends both. Explaining consciousness fully would involve some kind of solution to the mind-body problem.
Is there a paradox in my definition?
Well, besides that it is stating an identity, and is ultimately circular, nothing.
How is it, I pray, circular?
And what did you mean by stating an identity?
As far as I am aware my definition explains everything:
life - perception and evaluation of information against the data stored
death - termination of the process due to critical changes in the physical structure which had created and sustained the process.
soul (for the religios people) - there is no need for a soul, because our consciousness doesn't exist as a seperate thing that needs a seperate termination or continuation.
psychic illnesses - changes in the physical structure that result in invalid evaluation of the incoming (or new) information, or damaging changes in the already stored data.
self - it doesn't exist as a thing in us, it's a process that is the biochemical and electrical reactions in the brain (neurons and the rest), therefore we have different selfs at different times (joung and old, awake and asleep, etc) and psychically ill patiets may have many selfs active at once.
I think a lot of people make errors while thinking about consciousness because they tend to romanticise the subject, they think that it should be something grander than there is a need for.
Cultural and religious stereotypes come into play too.
There is a paradox lurking behind definitions anyway.
It just becomes more apparent some times than some other times.
Well [leaving aside all the problems with definitions and reductionist fallacies ...] I'd say that we can't experience existence per se, but need consciousness to do it. If existence preceeds us and produces us, and our consciousness, then I'd intuitively say that to us, consciousness is a quality of existence.
This is how we know of consciousness, yes.
It can be -- but how do you draw the line between the "mind" and the "body"?
And I think that for this, some feature capable of quality is necessary.
How come consciousness can do that?
Ahhh... a Dualist. Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!
You're assuming that there is indeed such a thing as a mental substance (an interesting contradiction...). This is, of course, where all dualists have gone wrong. There is no mind-body problem, if one is prepared to agree that what are called mental objects, are in fact nothing but physical processes. This naturally leads one to the conclusion that consciousness is indeed an epiphenomenal result of physio-chemical processes in the brain. Always remember Ockham's Razor. Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!
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It is typical for definitions that they are ultimately circular and stating identities.
Scroll down to "II. Definition".
My definition explains consciousness quite well, I don't see where you have a logical problem with it.
If I'd rename it to some other name (theory for example) would you still have that problem?
Occham's Razor is for people who lack imagination.
(Although it was better when Mulder said it.)
Come on water, you can do better than that.
First off, that's ad verecundiam .
Second, you're appeal is to Quine, a nominalist; obviously a nominalist is going to have a problem with reasoning of this type...
Stick to the argumant as it stands.
The Razor is the only thin keeping comtemporary philosophy going. Otherwise we would all still be wondering about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, etc...
What are "biochemical and electrical reactions between neurons"?
What is "evaluating"?
What is "information"?
Are there absolutes?
What else is there to wonder about ...
But thank you for having faith in me.
I sincerely hope you jest.
Separate names with a comma.