Jump to content
Objectivism Online Forum
Hairnet

Why is there the subjective experience of conciousness at all?

Rate this topic

Recommended Posts

Looks like your making a category error here.

Then can you explain how the mind isn't an information system like that of a phone? Of course, a phone isn't conscious, but conscious vs nonconscious can be two subcategories of "entities that process data". I agree with the idea that knowledge needs a knower, which is consciousness. But I don't think it's incompatible with my line of reasoning.

Edited by Eiuol

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Euiol, my point was that "one level of abstraction above", places abstraction in the wrong category. Abstractions are actions/processes performed by entities. You seemed to be seperating actions from entities.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't follow. Indeed, abstractions are processes performed by an entity, but there are so many ways to describe how that is done. In terms of strictly neuroscience by taking specific areas of the brain to talk about how neurons process percepts and make thinking about concepts, consciousness makes little sense. In terms of information science where data is turned into meaningful information, consciousness makes more sense, because you're talking about how an entity can produce information and/or concepts - the sort of thing consciousness is for.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hairnet said:

"  1) Existence is primary. (Rules out idealism).

  2) Conciousness exists.

  3) The world is made out of matter, yet qualia exists, and qualia can't be reduced to brain states (rules out materialism) ."

Not sure what your claiming in 3).?? I just wanted to point out that this is basically the same question called "the problem of universals" as concieved by modern philosophers. It is something Mrs Rand technically equivocated on if you count the appendix of ITOE as her voice/position. As far as I can tell technically Oism is a form of materialism (not the kind that says consciousness doesnt exist)in that entities are causal primaries and ALL other existents are entity dependent. I personally have no problem with this and see it as unavoidable. All concepts that divorce the relationship of "existents" from entities are invalid and smuggle the concept entity in anyway.

Edited by Plasmatic

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I am really sorry for the late replies and the lack of clarity in my posts. This is a complicated subject.

Why don't you take a moment to think about what it would mean for a consciousness to exist which did NOT have the limitations of a particular perspective and private thoughts?

Why should I? I am accepting as fact that it is the nature of conciousness.

I am explaining the context of my line of questioning. I don't use the socratic method or any of its spinoffs. This is not a way for me to argue for materialism of idealism. I really am curious about these issues and want help.

You are basically saying "You have these questions about the how the nature of the mind relates to the nature of the rest of existence, so why don't you take a minute and think about what it would mean if the mind didn't have that nature".

@Euiol

That was a really interesting video.

However all that shows is that the brain produces percepts. It doesn't really explain the reality of private information/qualia/perspective/conciousness. Replicating someone's experiences allows us to prove its existence, but the replication is obviously imperfect. The difference is akin to the difference between real life and television. That is my experiences are mine, not just experiences. The ownership, the privacy, this is what I am concerned with.

Honestly Euiol you make it sound as though all information inherently comes with some sort of perspective (no matter how "dim").

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I am really sorry for the late replies and the lack of clarity in my posts. This is a complicated subject.

Why should I? I am accepting as fact that it is the nature of conciousness.

I am explaining the context of my line of questioning. I don't use the socratic method or any of its spinoffs. This is not a way for me to argue for materialism of idealism. I really am curious about these issues and want help.

You are basically saying "You have these questions about the how the nature of the mind relates to the nature of the rest of existence, so why don't you take a minute and think about what it would mean if the mind didn't have that nature".

There are specific words and concepts that designate a type of consciousness that is not limited by a single perspective, and a type of consciousness that is not inherently private. Once you have these concepts in mind and make the logical connections all around, then you might claim to be accept the nature of consciousness but not until then.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There are specific words and concepts that designate a type of consciousness that is not limited by a single perspective, and a type of consciousness that is not inherently private. Once you have these concepts in mind and make the logical connections all around, then you might claim to be accept the nature of consciousness but not until then.

I wish you would have just said that from the beginning.

So what you are saiying is that percepts don't necessarily have perspective which means that perspective is only specific to beings who are self aware.

The idea that our conciousness is a separate entity from reality is actually a misunderstanding of self-awareness?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I wish you would have just said that from the beginning.

So what you are saiying is that percepts don't necessarily have perspective which means that perspective is only specific to beings who are self aware.

The idea that our conciousness is a separate entity from reality is actually a misunderstanding of self-awareness?

That is not what I meant.

First let us unpack the idea of a type of consciousness that is not limited by a single perspective. What exists to which this concept could refer? What does not exist is a consciousness having all possible perspectives, omniscience. Setting aside the case of infinite perspectives, what exists that has even two perspectives?

Most people and many animals have a left and a right eye, each functioning separately to produce its own visual perspective. For that matter there is also a left and right ear, and left and right hand, and several square feet of skin.

But perhaps the level of the sense-perspective is not what we are after, which is "the subjective experience of consciousness". Consciousness is nothing without content, something to be conscious of. The primacy of existence is axiomatic. The remainder of consciousness after subtracting all content, what would be an intrinsic phenomenon of consciousness in itself, does not exist. Consciousness is a relationship not an entity. If we further distinguish consciousness from the sense-perspective level then all that remains that can be consciousness is the integration of several sense perspectives together. The integration of consciousness-as-integration is an integration across space (left and right hands, ears and eyes, the several square feet of skin), integration across sense modalities (hear the phone ring, turn to see it, reach out to grab it), and integration across time (through memory).

The idea then of a consciousness that is not limited by a single perspective is a consciousness of multiple integrations, integrations which remain apart and are not integrated with each other. There is a contradiction involved in settling upon a definition of consciousness as an awareness through integration and then to attempt to refer to what is not integrated as also consciousness. The only examples similar to this I can think of are a person with multiple personality disorder or demonic possession (same thing), but these are failures of consciousness not exceptions to a rule.

For the privacy issue, what would it mean to be a type of consciousness that is not inherently private? Continuing to rely upon the definition of consciousness as awareness through integration, non-privacy implies that what is being integrated is indefinite and not limited to one body linked together by the normal causal links (i.e. what is referred to is ESP or telepathy). Partial violations of the privacy of consciousness are possible by normal causal links that are gestures, speaking and writing too long messages on the internet. These kinds of breaches of privacy are limited to the conceptual level and are not a sharing of sensation or perception. So long as one consciousness is aware of another consciousness only through its own sensation and perception mechanisms there is no problem distinguishing one consciousness from another. For one consciousness to integrate with another consciousness and have direct access to its senses and percepts would mean there are no longer two distinct consciousnesses but one while they remain linked, one consciousness which remains private with respect to other consciousnesses. Privacy is the boundary between what is conscious and what exists to be conscious of, it is the border and finiteness required by the law of identity that everything exists in a particular and definite way.

Both the multiple perspectives and privacy issues turn on the principle of identity. Multiple perspectives implies a contradiction with the identity of consciousness, and loss of privacy implies a loss of identity as a distinct consciousness and is a transformation into something else.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Honestly Euiol you make it sound as though all information inherently comes with some sort of perspective (no matter how "dim").

To some extent, yes, provided there is some mechanism to process incoming data, and that there is some means to create the feeling, like a nervous system for one. That might not result in consciousness, but it does result in at least a dim awareness, like a microscopic organism reacting to sunlight perhaps. This is only a theory or an intuition of mine, so I'm still working on what can justify my claim.

The only reason it's really private is that one, there is no means for anyone else to process your percepts directly, and two, if you really did integrate with another consciousness it would essentially be one consciousness given that consciousness is an integrated experience. I'm reminded of how Daniel Dennett explains consciousness with there being various perspectives that are processed, except Dennett never goes as far as to say consciousness is an integrated experience. I do not think I'm mischaracterizing Grames' post, but it also clarified a lot of leads for myself to work out the nature of consciousness.

I still stand by saying that qualia are nonsense, though, just be careful about using the term because it means more than just "private percepts" or perspective.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Dualism is actually pretty tenable.

http://users.ox.ac.u...ody Dualism.pdf

Q: You’re one of the most well known philosophical defenders of a dualism of body

and soul, which has become quite unpopular. Why continue to be a dualist?

A: I think that any scientific theory ought to explain all the relevant data. Data are events,

that is the having of properties (characteristics) by things (substances). The data of

psychology include people (substances) being characterised by images, pains, other

sensations, thoughts, and beliefs; and to talk of these things is not to talk of goings-on

in the brain. That forces on us what is called property dualism – the view that people

have two sorts of properties – mental properties (pains, thoughts etc) and physical

properties (electro-chemical patterns in the brain etc). Of course one could define

having a thought that ‘today is Friday’ as the same event as the brain event associated

with it. But if one did, one would then have to say that that event has two aspects –

the aspect of neuro-chemical discharge, and the aspect of a thought. And that is just

property dualism under another name.

It is two concepts for the same thing, two perspectives on the same facts. This kind of epistemological dualism is perfectly fine. It is a peculiar kind of naivety that insists that the set of all thoughts must correspond one to one with the set of existents, rather than accept there can be many thoughts about the same existent.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As all that is really happening is that various neurological systems have integrated themselves with one another creating a powerful information system.

The mind and the brain remain distinguishable however in the same sense that the computer program and the computer reamin distinguishable?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The mind and the brain remain distinguishable however in the same sense that the computer program and the computer reamin distinguishable?

Not in the same sense. The analogy doesn't work so well because even aspects of a computer programs are still closer to physical hardware than anything. Think more in terms of the system's architecture versus how information is being processed. Architecture would refer to more obvious elements like neurons, and also non-physical features like the maximum amount of entities you can think about at a time. Of course, why there is a maximum may depend on how many neurons you have (no one knows), but when you talk about that limit, you aren't referring to the brain's physical features. Mind comes in when there are decisions being made not dependent on architecture alone, such as establishing a goal to finish your college education. The arrangement of neurons don't determine that, nor does the way information flows - those features are necessary but not sufficient. Knowledge is what counts, and isn't the result of how your brain is arranged alone.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As all that is really happening is that various neurological systems have integrated themselves with one another creating a powerful information system.

The mind and the brain remain distinguishable however in the same sense that the computer program and the computer reamin distinguishable?

To put it into an analogy: Mind is to brain as grip is to hand.* That is, there is a noun performing a verb. Using mind as a noun can be grammatically correct, but it has the hazard of fallaciously reifying mind if one automatizes that classification of mind as thing.

*(That analogy first appeared on Binswanger's email list, though not originally by Binswanger.)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

To put it into an analogy: Mind is to brain as grip is to hand.* That is, there is a noun performing a verb. Using mind as a noun can be grammatically correct, but it has the hazard of fallaciously reifying mind if one automatizes that classification of mind as thing.

*(That analogy first appeared on Binswanger's email list, though not originally by Binswanger.)

That is really radical Grames. I will need a while to think about this one (again).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 8/7/2012 at 7:52 PM, New Buddha said:

You don't experience the world subjectively - you experience objectively. Even when you do so in error. What you don't do is experience it omnisciently. This is a crucial distinction. Rand demonstrated that "subjectivity" does not exist.

But what about one's unique experience? I supposed one could call it one's unique perspective on an objective universe. The experience, as an experience, objectively, is different than everyone else. Can't that be considered a subjective viewpoint?

In other words, subjectivity, if it does not denote many separate worlds, is a valid concept.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now


  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×