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Note that again you are mixing metaphysical existents with metaphysical processes. Everything above makes sense if you take them *only* as processes, but I suspect you’re not, as evidenced by your word “literally”, and by your next statement:

I think it’s much closer than that. Mind and body are really different *aspects* of the same thing, which is why their distinction is epistemological rather than metaphysical. {I’m not so sure that the bones and soft-tissue are “inseparable”, by the way.)

But isn't that what an existent is? That is a portion cut out of the process of the universe? Or, how does Objectivism distinguish an existent from process (isn't the identity of existence that it is process or change), or when does the Cosmos stop? Without getting into too much, how is the process of consciousness distinct from the "contents of consciousness"? Is the distinction between consciousness and body a process of epistemology or a metaphysical reality (or an epistemological determination), or something else? (Are metaphysics and epistemology distinguished epistemologically or metaphysically)?

So no. Identity is not destroyed when you die, not even YOUR identity. A is still A, even in heaven! Amen?

Where is this identity? Is it the body, what happens when it rots away, is burned, etc? Or does identity have nothing to do with where a particular object is located (in time-space)? If it is epistemologically, in other's brains, what about when they're no more, is A=A? Even when the specific time of the particular identity becomes "was", that is past? A was A rather than A is A, when the particular is no longer present, when it becomes (forgotten=no longer present in body or memory) history. Not of course to mention history; is George Washington qua history book (c.2006) the same as (identical to) George Washington (1732-1799), or is it enough that they refer to the same person in the mind of the observer and shared audience, is it contradictory to believe they are the same or not to acknowledge they are different?

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A non sequitur. What are you talking about now, Omar? Even dogs have consciousness, and it has a "real impact on matter", but it does not have "the metaphysical ability of free will". So, "impact on matter" (directly or indirectly) obviously has nothing to do with free will.

First of all, consciousness has real impact on reality, as does gravity. This does NOT imply that consciousness=gravity. Similarly, free will has impact on reality but in a different way than mere consciousness. That is, you can measure the difference between free will and no free will.

Second, what we call "free will" is really conceptual consciousness. Dogs have an element of freedom in their consciousness, just like a prisoner in chains has an element of freedom (he can choose to relax his muscles, choose what to think about etc.) But the force of instinct is so overwhelming that it makes sense to distinguish qualitatively between perceptual and conceptual consciousness, labelling the latter as "free" and former as not free. But we should never lose sight of the fact that consciousness evolved because it was functional and had survival value. What was its function? To CHOOSE.

No, Onar. ACTING (consistent acting) on contradictions in mind results in death.

I agree. This is the way we translate epistemological contradictions into consequences in the real world.

This is simply because they do not consistently act on those contradictions. So, it is the physical actions that directly lead to death, not the contradictions in the mind. These have absolutely no impact on the universe (qua epistemological contradictions), which is why we do (or should) not censor people's thoughts and ideas, no matter how irrational they are.

No disagreement there.

Um ... no. It will never be measurable, at least not in the way you interpret this. Why? It is just action; consciousness is the action of the brain. Although it metaphysically exists, it is not a metaphysical thing as such. It's a metaphysical process.

This may or may not be true, but consciousness is MORE than merely the actions of our brain and nervous system. Why? Because if it were a simple one-to-one relationship between brain and mind we would be conscious of every single signal in our body, every heartbeat, every breath, every taste, every impression, every decision, every movement in our body. It has been suggested that autism is precisely the inability to filter out of consciousness impulses from the environment. If that's true a 1-1 relationship between brain and mind results in vegetation and severe disability. The whole point of consciousness is that it reduces reality, the function of mind is to integrate. Now, I am open to the possibility that there are qualities or properties in matter that allow them to "extinguish" consciousness and thereby enable integration, much like the magnetization of metal where all magnetic poles become unilaterally aligned. But it is perfectly possible that consciousness is built from an "ether" which interacts with the brain. In any case, consciousness is so much more than just "the action of the brain."

Mind and body are really different *aspects* of the same thing, which is why their distinction is epistemological rather than metaphysical.

It could well be that mind and body are different aspects of the same thing, or it could be that spirit is a separate substance that just floats everywhere in space. Epistemologically it makes no sense to assume that they are one until there is evidence for this. Similarly electromagnetism and gravity can be treated as separate phenomena until they are shown to be interrelated. The only thing that in my view points in the direction of a unification of mind and matter is the observed noise in quantum mechanics. This is precisely what I would expect to observe if consciousness/free will is an aspect of matter -- wiggle room in matter.

Your emphasis is right this time. Effort. Action. That's what leads to destruction. That's what's "real" (with respect to matter), not the contradictions (in consciousness).

The distinction betwen existence and "existence" helps. :-)

The only thing you can validly mean by emphasizing the “YOUR” is simply your ability to indentify.

But that IS your identity.

Your identity is ALWAYS primarily to others, whether you are dead or alive. Would you really need an identity if you were the only person in the world?

The answer is yes, just like an organism needs an identity (self-production) even if it were the only organism in the world. Again Ayn Rand gives the correct view on this: survival requires effort. We need to WORK and PRODUCE to survive. If we don't act for our survival, we die. This active nature of our being demands that we have an identity. We need to act to survive, but act for WHOM? For ourselves, our "I", our identity. The very concept of self-production consists of two distinct components: 1) the process of PRODUCTION, and the identity of SELF. This is at the very core of egoism. We don't exist for others, we exist for our SELVES. To paraphrase freely from the Fountainhead: "In order to be able to say 'I exist', we must first be able to say 'I'."

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I'll start with you, Ammonius.

But isn't that what an existent is? That is a portion cut out of the process of the universe?

Yes, you are right. I thought about it later and intended to come back here and use a different word. A process is indeed an existent (if it exists).'Existent' was not a very useful word in that statement. "Object" would probably be a better term to make that distinction between process and substance. (Or maybe i could just use "substance" :) )

Without getting into too much, how is the process of consciousness distinct from the "contents of consciousness"? Is the distinction between consciousness and body a process of epistemology or a metaphysical reality (or an epistemological determination), or something else?

The distinction is epistemological, as i explained just one or two posts ago. And since "contents of consciousness" is epistemological, it is not metaphysically distinct from "process of consciousness".

Where is this identity? Is it the body, what happens when it rots away, is burned, etc? Or does identity have nothing to do with where a particular object is located (in time-space)? If it is epistemologically, in other's brains, what about when they're no more, is A=A? Even when the specific time of the particular identity becomes "was", that is past? A was A rather than A is A, when the particular is no longer present, when it becomes (forgotten=no longer present in body or memory) history. Not of course to mention history; is George Washington qua history book (c.2006) the same as (identical to) George Washington (1732-1799), or is it enough that they refer to the same person in the mind of the observer and shared audience, is it contradictory to believe they are the same or not to acknowledge they are different?

The Law of Identity is very simple, Ammonius. A is A. A thing is itself (and not anything else). That's all. This is just what makes it possible to talk about something (anything).

Identity is always identity OF something.

Now, the fact that identity never "ceases" is why you are able to communicate to me about George Washington and I KNOW who you are talking about, even if he is dead. IF identity ceased at death, then how come i know who you are talking about? Knowledge is not possible without identity. Since we do know about people who are dead, identity (their identity) does not cease at death (or cremation or whatever).

Next, Onar.

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First of all, consciousness has real impact on reality, as does gravity. This does NOT imply that consciousness=gravity.

I don't see where that has come from. You might have missed the meaning of my dog example. Yes, I do know that human consciousness is different from dog consciousness. But it is a fact that dog consciousness has impact on reality if, as you say, human consciousness has impact on reality. That is, if impact on reality just means that what is in that consciousness will result in some difference in the real world. When a dog sees something at night, it will bark loudly - you will hear that sound, which is itself an "impact on reality" (and perhaps even do something about it). Isn't the dog's perception, which is a function of its own consciousness, having an impact on reality in that sense? If you say yes (as you should), then we see that it is not the free will or even conceptual aspect of human consciousness that makes it have that said impact on reality, since even dog consciousness has that impact.

Similarly, free will has impact on reality but in a different way than mere consciousness. That is, you can measure the difference between free will and no free will.

Well, this is what I am disputing. The identification of this distinction has to be circular. It is only because you know that free will is more useful or more productive that you can claim there is a difference in impact on reality. Otherwise, from a metaphysical standpoint, and for the purposes of your argument, there is no difference.

Second, what we call "free will" is really conceptual consciousness. Dogs have an element of freedom in their consciousness, just like a prisoner in chains has an element of freedom (he can choose to relax his muscles, choose what to think about etc.) But the force of instinct is so overwhelming that it makes sense to distinguish qualitatively between perceptual and conceptual consciousness, labelling the latter as "free" and former as not free. But we should never lose sight of the fact that consciousness evolved because it was functional and had survival value. What was its function? To CHOOSE.

A prisoner in chains is metaphysically just as free as a non-prisoner. Same thing with a person living in a colonised country and one living in a free country. The reason such a person can even struggle for freedom is because he has free will, in the same way and to the same degree, as someone in a free society. This is a difference in *political* freedom rather than metaphysical freedom.

A dog, on the other hand, has no free will. You can't measure free will in degrees; it's either there or it's not, and when it's there, its possessor is human. In this sense therefore, it is not true that a dog has "an element of freedom", unless you mean something else (like ability to move), in which case, you are not sticking to your subject.

This may or may not be true, but consciousness is MORE than merely the actions of our brain and nervous system.

Perhaps i wasn't too clear. Every action of the brain is not consciousness, but consciousness is a brain action. Perhaps it was the word 'the' which was problematic, but i figured you'd understand my meaning from the context. Anyway, it's "a", not "the". :)

It could well be that mind and body are different aspects of the same thing, or it could be that spirit is a separate substance that just floats everywhere in space.

That sounds like a very arbitrary assertion, one that is currently unfalsifiable, therefore of not much value, intellectually.

Epistemologically it makes no sense to assume that they are one until there is evidence for this.

Remember i said epistemologically they are distinct, so I don't know how you got to this.

The only thing that in my view points in the direction of a unification of mind and matter is the observed noise in quantum mechanics. This is precisely what I would expect to observe if consciousness/free will is an aspect of matter -- wiggle room in matter.

Again, quantum mechanics is currently of very little value, philosophically, simply because no one understands it (and yes, i mean no one!).

But that IS your identity.

Ability to identify is my identity? So, i am not different from you, since you also have this ability. So, even if i die, my identity continues - IN YOU. [Hoping that from that absurdity you can see your equivocation].

The answer is yes, just like an organism needs an identity (self-production) even if it were the only organism in the world. Again Ayn Rand gives the correct view on this: survival requires effort. We need to WORK and PRODUCE to survive. If we don't act for our survival, we die. This active nature of our being demands that we have an identity.

Ayn Rand actually said that? Please quote. My bet is that you have things backwards.

We need to act to survive, but act for WHOM? For ourselves, our "I", our identity. The very concept of self-production consists of two distinct components: 1) the process of PRODUCTION, and the identity of SELF. This is at the very core of egoism. We don't exist for others, we exist for our SELVES. To paraphrase freely from the Fountainhead: "In order to be able to say 'I exist', we must first be able to say 'I'."

We must.

But you are confusing something. You have a metaphysical identity and you have a personal identity. You seem to be equivocating between the two and this is not helping your argument (or the discussion) at all.

When you say that when you die your identity ceases, what do you mean? Your metaphysical identity or your personal identity? If you mean the former, then, as i said, this just means you lose your ABILITY to do something (is this 'something' what you're calling your ability to identify?), which is not a destruction of identity, but a loss of a particular identity. This is not different from a person who becomes mad. He has simply lost certain abilities in his consciousness. If a person dies, he has lost ALL of those abilities, including his fundamental ability: the ability to live, and its product: life. We identify him as DEAD (a valid identity), just as we could validly identify another as INSANE. This is not confusing when you understand that consciousness is indeed just *a* process. A process of the brain (but not the only one).

If, on the other hand, you mean the latter (personal identity), see the last part of my response to ammonius (above).

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You might have missed the meaning of my dog example.

No, I understood it completely. I just tried to illustrate the fact that just because two things (dog consciousness and human consciousness) have impact on reality doesn't mean that they impact the world in the same way.

Well, this is what I am disputing. The identification of this distinction has to be circular.

Obviously. Free will is an axiom, and to assume that we do not have free will leads to a contradiction. If we are determined then we are clearly also determined to think that we are determined, and could easily have been determined to think otherwise. Why trust a determined being? Hence, the only way we can make meaningful statements about the world is if we are free.

It is only because you know that free will is more useful or more productive that you can claim there is a difference in impact on reality.

If free will has no impact on reality, then why on earth did it evolve? Why did consciousness evolve if the brain could do just as well without it? The fact that so much of our brain chemistry is built around producing consciousness and free will is strong evidence for the efficacy of consciousness and free will.

A prisoner in chains is metaphysically just as free as a non-prisoner. Same thing with a person living in a colonised country and one living in a free country. The reason such a person can even struggle for freedom is because he has free will, in the same way and to the same degree, as someone in a free society. This is a difference in *political* freedom rather than metaphysical freedom.

Agreed. But there are other ways to imprison a man. By drugging him for instance, so that his consciousness behaves like that of a dog. Metaphysically he is still free, but now he has a lot more in common with the dog. My point is that there is some quality to consciousness which allows it to evolve into conceptual free will. Thus, there has to be a seed of freedom even in the most primitive of consciousnesses.

Perhaps i wasn't too clear. Every action of the brain is not consciousness, but consciousness is a brain action. Perhaps it was the word 'the' which was problematic, but i figured you'd understand my meaning from the context. Anyway, it's "a", not "the". ;)

Hold it right there! This transition from "the" to "a" is highly nontrivial. The function of consciousness is to integrate, which is to reduce information from many to one. But how does the brain "know" how to do this? It doesn't. Evolution has just selected the kinds of chemical combinations in our brain that creates our particular kind of consciousness, i.e. reduces information in our peculiar kind of way. But that means that there has been a selective pressure for consciousness, and that can only mean that consciousness *does* something. It's a real, metaphysical thing that does real work that can be selected for by evolution.

That sounds like a very arbitrary assertion, one that is currently unfalsifiable, therefore of not much value, intellectually.

I'm just showing that at the moment there is no intrinsic reason to assume that the brain and consciousness are the same substance, so we shouldn't make any such assumptions about it.

Ability to identify is my identity? So, i am not different from you, since you also have this ability. So, even if i die, my identity continues - IN YOU. [Hoping that from that absurdity you can see your equivocation].

Not a universal ability to identify, YOUR ability to identify. It is a self-generating system.

Ayn Rand actually said that? Please quote. My bet is that you have things backwards.

I don't have an exact quote in front of me, but her famous indestructible robot example and explication of the origin of value is the source. I believe this is where she defines value as "that which we act to gain or keep" implying that living is an active process.

But you are confusing something. You have a metaphysical identity and you have a personal identity. You seem to be equivocating between the two and this is not helping your argument (or the discussion) at all.

When you say that when you die your identity ceases, what do you mean? Your metaphysical identity or your personal identity?

Both. We are ONE system, mind and body. When we die both our brain AND our mind dies.

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No, I understood it completely. I just tried to illustrate the fact that just because two things (dog consciousness and human consciousness) have impact on reality doesn't mean that they impact the world in the same way.

If by "the same way" you mean "to the same degree", then you are attacking a straw man because i have not claimed that. If what you mean is that (I am saying) the PROCESS or METHOD of impact is the same, then I maintain my opposition.

Secondly, your argument was NOT that human consciousness impacts the world in a BIG way. Your argument, let me remind you, was simply that because human consciousness has an impact on reality, it has to be something *real*. It was enough for me to simply point out another kind of consciousness that has an impact on the world, even if it is not so big, to show that your statement doesn't prove anything about human consciousness specifically. So, there is no need to show which of these consciousnesses has a bigger impact on the world once it is shown that impact exists from both.

If free will has no impact on reality, then why on earth did it evolve? Why did consciousness evolve if the brain could do just as well without it? The fact that so much of our brain chemistry is built around producing consciousness and free will is strong evidence for the efficacy of consciousness and free will.

You are responding to whom exactly? What is it in my post that made you think my position was otherwise? What i am disputing is that this impact is DIRECT, period, because you want to use that assertion to show that it is therefore a real substance of sorts. In other words, without PHYSICAL ACTION, it has no impact whatsoever on the world, which is why we don't censor THOUGHTS or ideas. But then, this is true even for dogs. Thus, the "impact" of human consciousness is nothing more special than that of dogs. Neither has direct impact; neither can be "felt" or "sensed" (or scientifically "measured"?) by an external thing.

Agreed. But there are other ways to imprison a man. By drugging him for instance, so that his consciousness behaves like that of a dog.

[um, which country uses this method of imprisonment? Does Amnesty International know about them?];)

Metaphysically he is still free, but now he has a lot more in common with the dog. My point is that there is some quality to consciousness which allows it to evolve into conceptual free will. Thus, there has to be a seed of freedom even in the most primitive of consciousnesses.

Your "thus" does not follow from the statements preceding it, I'm afraid. Did human consciousness necessarily evolve from monkey consciousness? Is this your version of Darwinism?

And what does "a seed of freedom" mean, anyway? Without knowing precisely how consciousness arises, how can you even know it requires some kind of "seed" in a more primitive state? Does this seed exist in the amoeba?

[The prisoner in your example above, by the way, still has nothing in common with the dog. He has more in common with a sleeping man than with a walking dog. Unless you are saying that a drugged man has a DESTROYED consciousness, and it gets RECREATED when he is back to normal. Which could also mean that consciousness is partly destroyed every time someone sleeps and recreated every morning. Is this not absurd?]

Hold it right there! This transition from "the" to "a" is highly nontrivial. The function of consciousness is to integrate, which is to reduce information from many to one. But how does the brain "know" how to do this?

You answered your own question:

Evolution has just selected the kinds of chemical combinations in our brain that creates our particular kind of consciousness, i.e. reduces information in our peculiar kind of way.

Our brain does "know" how to do this (integration and differentiation) but no one knows HOW it knows. Our failure to answer the how thus far should not lead you to conclude that it does not "know".

But that means that there has been a selective pressure for consciousness, and that can only mean that consciousness *does* something. It's a real, metaphysical thing that does real work that can be selected for by evolution.

Onar, your reasoning here would be true even if you assumed that it is the human brain that *does* something (and that *action* being what is called consciousness). Thus i can rephrase your statement: "But that means that there has been a selective pressure for the brain's process of consciousness, and that can only mean that the human brain does something special. It has a real, metaphysical process that does real work and can be selected for by evolution."

I'm just showing that at the moment there is no intrinsic reason to assume that the brain and consciousness are the same substance, so we shouldn't make any such assumptions about it.

And I am not saying that the two are the same substance either. I am saying one is the action of the other ("the" is correct in this kind of sentence, i think ;) ).

Not a universal ability to identify, YOUR ability to identify. It is a self-generating system.

But my ability to identify is metaphysically the same as your ability to identify. It's the SAME ability qua ability. See my last sentence in this post (below).

I don't have an exact quote in front of me, but her famous indestructible robot example and explication of the origin of value is the source. I believe this is where she defines value as "that which we act to gain or keep" implying that living is an active process.

I don't see how this explains the statements I disputed: that we NEED identity in order to survive, etc etc. My point was that you have it backwards. Because of our metaphysical identity, we can only survive in a particular way that conforms to that identity. So, you epistemologically BEGIN with your identity. Read your statement again to see what i meant when i said you have it backwards.

Both. We are ONE system, mind and body. When we die both our brain AND our mind dies.

Ah, so you believe your personal identity is your body and your metaphysical identity is your mind? I say your metaphysical identity is you qua man (the species). Your personal identity is you qua onar (the individual). This is important because it could resolve many of our differences in this discussion.

You see, your identity as Onar is primarily for others, as i said earlier, not for you as such. You won't need it if you are the only one in the world. But WE need to distinguish you from other people. This is why we give you a name even before you are able to integrate anything as such (as a baby). Your identity is for your distinction (by us). Even after you die we need to distinguish you from George Washington and Ayn Rand and Elvis Presley, so we still need your (personal) identity; it is never DESTROYED at your death. Existentially, it changes to the past, of course: you are now a dead man, from 'is' to 'was'. But George Washington (the identity) IS George Washington. A is A. George Washington refers (presently) to the same person, whether he is dead or alive.

Your metaphysical identity, on the other hand, distinguishes you, not from other people, but from other animals. You are a rational animal. This is just because of your ABILITY (rationality). You can lose this ability or you can willingly stop using it, which ethically puts you at the level of an animal. Losing an ability is not destruction of identity, because we can still identify you - as the person who has lost that identity!

So, whatever the case, you can't sensibly say identity is destroyed at death. And if you can't show this for just one of the axioms, (the premise of) your topic question remains invalid.

[Thanks; it's quite a stimulating discussion :)].

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Sorry about the late reply. I am glad you find this debate stimulating, and I hope that you are also realizing that I do not hold a simplistic position that can be easily shot down.

You are responding to whom exactly? What is it in my post that made you think my position was otherwise? What i am disputing is that this impact is DIRECT, period, because you want to use that assertion to show that it is therefore a real substance of sorts. In other words, without PHYSICAL ACTION, it has no impact whatsoever on the world, which is why we don't censor THOUGHTS or ideas.

I think thoughts ARE real physical actions that have real impact on the physical world, but it just happens to be your own body and the individual rights grant you exclusive rights to do what ever you want to do with your body, including think whatever thoughts you may have. One of the reasons Objectivism focuses on self-esteem and a healthy thought pattern (rationality, valuing one's ego etc.) is that an unhealthy thought pattern leads to physical unhealth: depression and anxiety, which leads to illness and early death. That's a real physical effect of thought.

But then, this is true even for dogs. Thus, the "impact" of human consciousness is nothing more special than that of dogs. Neither has direct impact; neither can be "felt" or "sensed" (or scientifically "measured"?) by an external thing.

First, I do think human and dog consciousness has something important in common. What dogs lack is the intelligence to do abstraction. Otherwise I think that animals have pretty much the same experiences as ourselves. Second, one day consciousness could be measured as an action on matter. Just because we can't measure it today doesn't mean that there is nothing to measure.

Your "thus" does not follow from the statements preceding it, I'm afraid. Did human consciousness necessarily evolve from monkey consciousness? Is this your version of Darwinism?

Yes, human consciousness necessarily evolved from a lower kind of consciousness. Our mind is equally much an evolutionary product as the rest of our body. It evolved gradually, step by step, climbing the latter of mount improbable.

And what does "a seed of freedom" mean, anyway? Without knowing precisely how consciousness arises, how can you even know it requires some kind of "seed" in a more primitive state? Does this seed exist in the amoeba?

It's quite possible that it exists in amoeba. The reason animals evolved a central nervous system, eyes and ears and a brain is because a UNITY of some sort evaluates and integrates the information from our sensory organs. That unity is consciousness.

Our brain does "know" how to do this (integration and differentiation) but no one knows HOW it knows.

This is a fallacy. Integration means holding a single unifying thought in mind all at once. How can a collection of atoms do that?

Onar, your reasoning here would be true even if you assumed that it is the human brain that *does* something (and that *action* being what is called consciousness). Thus i can rephrase your statement: "But that means that there has been a selective pressure for the brain's process of consciousness, and that can only mean that the human brain does something special. It has a real, metaphysical process that does real work and can be selected for by evolution."

Obviously the brain is the vehicle by which consciousness is created, and thus evolution has to act on the brain. But we return yet again to integration. It doesn't matter how many atoms you have in your brain and how you organize them so long as there is no integration, which is the function of consciousness. Think about the million pixels or so on your screen. You perceive them as ONE image. But try to get a computer to do the same thing. You'll have a really, really hard time. (No-one has succeded yet) Computers essentially can look at one pixel at a time, and has no concept of space and unity. To a computer an image is just a collection of data. It does not "see" it, i.e. experience it as one. This integration is crucial to the operation of the mind and must have been subject to selective pressure.

And I am not saying that the two are the same substance either. I am saying one is the action of the other ("the" is correct in this kind of sentence, i think :P ).

Are you saying that we could explain human behavior if we knew all the states of all our atoms?

But my ability to identify is metaphysically the same as your ability to identify. It's the SAME ability qua ability. See my last sentence in this post (below).

I don't see how this explains the statements I disputed: that we NEED identity in order to survive, etc etc. My point was that you have it backwards. Because of our metaphysical identity, we can only survive in a particular way that conforms to that identity. So, you epistemologically BEGIN with your identity. Read your statement again to see what i meant when i said you have it backwards.

Ah, so you believe your personal identity is your body and your metaphysical identity is your mind? I say your metaphysical identity is you qua man (the species). Your personal identity is you qua onar (the individual). This is important because it could resolve many of our differences in this discussion.

I don't understand this. To me the mind and body forms a unity which together make up my metaphysical identity. It makes little sense to speak of consciousness alone as your personal identity without recognizing that all your memories are stored in the brain.

You see, your identity as Onar is primarily for others, as i said earlier, not for you as such. You won't need it if you are the only one in the world.

That's simply blatantly untrue. I need to know whether the tree I am chopping down is part of me or not. Is my leg a part of me? Well, then chopping it off would be very, very bad for me. My immune system most certainly needs to distinguish me from the non-me all the time. It fights foreign elements in my body to protect my body. But in order to protect your body the immune sysem needs to know what YOUR body IS. I.e. it needs to know your identity. You don't need a single person in the whole world in order to need an identity. Mentally you also need to be an identity. You need to distinguish your thoughts from sensory data, and your senses do that quite well. Just like your immune system your eyes and ears tell you what is from the outside, i.e. not part of your identity.

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Sorry about the late reply. I am glad you find this debate stimulating, and I hope that you are also realizing that I do not hold a simplistic position that can be easily shot down.

You are responding to whom exactly? What is it in my post that made you think my position was otherwise? What i am disputing is that this impact is DIRECT, period, because you want to use that assertion to show that it is therefore a real substance of sorts. In other words, without PHYSICAL ACTION, it has no impact whatsoever on the world, which is why we don't censor THOUGHTS or ideas.

I think thoughts ARE real physical actions that have real impact on the physical world, but it just happens to be your own body and the individual rights grant you exclusive rights to do what ever you want to do with your body, including think whatever thoughts you may have. One of the reasons Objectivism focuses on self-esteem and a healthy thought pattern (rationality, valuing one's ego etc.) is that an unhealthy thought pattern leads to physical unhealth: depression and anxiety, which leads to illness and early death. That's a real physical effect of thought.

But then, this is true even for dogs. Thus, the "impact" of human consciousness is nothing more special than that of dogs. Neither has direct impact; neither can be "felt" or "sensed" (or scientifically "measured"?) by an external thing.

First, I do think human and dog consciousness has something important in common. What dogs lack is the intelligence to do abstraction. Otherwise I think that animals have pretty much the same experiences as ourselves. Second, one day consciousness could be measured as an action on matter. Just because we can't measure it today doesn't mean that there is nothing to measure.

Your "thus" does not follow from the statements preceding it, I'm afraid. Did human consciousness necessarily evolve from monkey consciousness? Is this your version of Darwinism?

Yes, human consciousness necessarily evolved from a lower kind of consciousness. Our mind is equally much an evolutionary product as the rest of our body. It evolved gradually, step by step, climbing the latter of mount improbable.

And what does "a seed of freedom" mean, anyway? Without knowing precisely how consciousness arises, how can you even know it requires some kind of "seed" in a more primitive state? Does this seed exist in the amoeba?

It's quite possible that it exists in amoeba. The reason animals evolved a central nervous system, eyes and ears and a brain is because a UNITY of some sort evaluates and integrates the information from our sensory organs. That unity is consciousness.

Our brain does "know" how to do this (integration and differentiation) but no one knows HOW it knows.

This is a fallacy. Integration means holding a single unifying thought in mind all at once. How can a collection of atoms do that?

Onar, your reasoning here would be true even if you assumed that it is the human brain that *does* something (and that *action* being what is called consciousness). Thus i can rephrase your statement: "But that means that there has been a selective pressure for the brain's process of consciousness, and that can only mean that the human brain does something special. It has a real, metaphysical process that does real work and can be selected for by evolution."

Obviously the brain is the vehicle by which consciousness is created, and thus evolution has to act on the brain. But we return yet again to integration. It doesn't matter how many atoms you have in your brain and how you organize them so long as there is no integration, which is the function of consciousness. Think about the million pixels or so on your screen. You perceive them as ONE image. But try to get a computer to do the same thing. You'll have a really, really hard time. (No-one has succeded yet) Computers essentially can look at one pixel at a time, and has no concept of space and unity. To a computer an image is just a collection of data. It does not "see" it, i.e. experience it as one. This integration is crucial to the operation of the mind and must have been subject to selective pressure.

And I am not saying that the two are the same substance either. I am saying one is the action of the other ("the" is correct in this kind of sentence, i think :P ).

Are you saying that we could explain human behavior if we knew all the states of all our atoms?

But my ability to identify is metaphysically the same as your ability to identify. It's the SAME ability qua ability. See my last sentence in this post (below).

I don't see how this explains the statements I disputed: that we NEED identity in order to survive, etc etc. My point was that you have it backwards. Because of our metaphysical identity, we can only survive in a particular way that conforms to that identity. So, you epistemologically BEGIN with your identity. Read your statement again to see what i meant when i said you have it backwards.

Ah, so you believe your personal identity is your body and your metaphysical identity is your mind? I say your metaphysical identity is you qua man (the species). Your personal identity is you qua onar (the individual). This is important because it could resolve many of our differences in this discussion.

I don't understand this. To me the mind and body forms a unity which together make up my metaphysical identity. It makes little sense to speak of consciousness alone as your personal identity without recognizing that all your memories are stored in the brain.

You see, your identity as Onar is primarily for others, as i said earlier, not for you as such. You won't need it if you are the only one in the world.

That's simply blatantly untrue. I need to know whether the tree I am chopping down is part of me or not. Is my leg a part of me? Well, then chopping it off would be very, very bad for me. My immune system most certainly needs to distinguish me from the non-me all the time. It fights foreign elements in my body to protect my body. But in order to protect your body the immune sysem needs to know what YOUR body IS. I.e. it needs to know your identity. You don't need a single person in the whole world in order to need an identity. Mentally you also need to be an identity. You need to distinguish your thoughts from sensory data, and your senses do that quite well. Just like your immune system your eyes and ears tell you what is from the outside, i.e. not part of your identity.

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Sorry about the late reply. I am glad you find this debate stimulating, and I hope that you are also realizing that I do not hold a simplistic position that can be easily shot down.

You are responding to whom exactly? What is it in my post that made you think my position was otherwise? What i am disputing is that this impact is DIRECT, period, because you want to use that assertion to show that it is therefore a real substance of sorts. In other words, without PHYSICAL ACTION, it has no impact whatsoever on the world, which is why we don't censor THOUGHTS or ideas.

I think thoughts ARE real physical actions that have real impact on the physical world, but it just happens to be your own body and the individual rights grant you exclusive rights to do what ever you want to do with your body, including think whatever thoughts you may have. One of the reasons Objectivism focuses on self-esteem and a healthy thought pattern (rationality, valuing one's ego etc.) is that an unhealthy thought pattern leads to physical unhealth: depression and anxiety, which leads to illness and early death. That's a real physical effect of thought.

But then, this is true even for dogs. Thus, the "impact" of human consciousness is nothing more special than that of dogs. Neither has direct impact; neither can be "felt" or "sensed" (or scientifically "measured"?) by an external thing.

First, I do think human and dog consciousness has something important in common. What dogs lack is the intelligence to do abstraction. Otherwise I think that animals have pretty much the same experiences as ourselves. Second, one day consciousness could be measured as an action on matter. Just because we can't measure it today doesn't mean that there is nothing to measure.

Your "thus" does not follow from the statements preceding it, I'm afraid. Did human consciousness necessarily evolve from monkey consciousness? Is this your version of Darwinism?

Yes, human consciousness necessarily evolved from a lower kind of consciousness. Our mind is equally much an evolutionary product as the rest of our body. It evolved gradually, step by step, climbing the latter of mount improbable.

And what does "a seed of freedom" mean, anyway? Without knowing precisely how consciousness arises, how can you even know it requires some kind of "seed" in a more primitive state? Does this seed exist in the amoeba?

It's quite possible that it exists in amoeba. The reason animals evolved a central nervous system, eyes and ears and a brain is because a UNITY of some sort evaluates and integrates the information from our sensory organs. That unity is consciousness.

Our brain does "know" how to do this (integration and differentiation) but no one knows HOW it knows.

This is a fallacy. Integration means holding a single unifying thought in mind all at once. How can a collection of atoms do that?

Onar, your reasoning here would be true even if you assumed that it is the human brain that *does* something (and that *action* being what is called consciousness). Thus i can rephrase your statement: "But that means that there has been a selective pressure for the brain's process of consciousness, and that can only mean that the human brain does something special. It has a real, metaphysical process that does real work and can be selected for by evolution."

Obviously the brain is the vehicle by which consciousness is created, and thus evolution has to act on the brain. But we return yet again to integration. It doesn't matter how many atoms you have in your brain and how you organize them so long as there is no integration, which is the function of consciousness. Think about the million pixels or so on your screen. You perceive them as ONE image. But try to get a computer to do the same thing. You'll have a really, really hard time. (No-one has succeded yet) Computers essentially can look at one pixel at a time, and has no concept of space and unity. To a computer an image is just a collection of data. It does not "see" it, i.e. experience it as one. This integration is crucial to the operation of the mind and must have been subject to selective pressure.

And I am not saying that the two are the same substance either. I am saying one is the action of the other ("the" is correct in this kind of sentence, i think :P ).

Are you saying that we could explain human behavior if we knew all the states of all our atoms?

But my ability to identify is metaphysically the same as your ability to identify. It's the SAME ability qua ability. See my last sentence in this post (below).

I don't see how this explains the statements I disputed: that we NEED identity in order to survive, etc etc. My point was that you have it backwards. Because of our metaphysical identity, we can only survive in a particular way that conforms to that identity. So, you epistemologically BEGIN with your identity. Read your statement again to see what i meant when i said you have it backwards.

Ah, so you believe your personal identity is your body and your metaphysical identity is your mind? I say your metaphysical identity is you qua man (the species). Your personal identity is you qua onar (the individual). This is important because it could resolve many of our differences in this discussion.

I don't understand this. To me the mind and body forms a unity which together make up my metaphysical identity. It makes little sense to speak of consciousness alone as your personal identity without recognizing that all your memories are stored in the brain.

You see, your identity as Onar is primarily for others, as i said earlier, not for you as such. You won't need it if you are the only one in the world.

That's simply blatantly untrue. I need to know whether the tree I am chopping down is part of me or not. Is my leg a part of me? Well, then chopping it off would be very, very bad for me. My immune system most certainly needs to distinguish me from the non-me all the time. It fights foreign elements in my body to protect my body. But in order to protect your body the immune sysem needs to know what YOUR body IS. I.e. it needs to know your identity. You don't need a single person in the whole world in order to need an identity. Mentally you also need to be an identity. You need to distinguish your thoughts from sensory data, and your senses do that quite well. Just like your immune system your eyes and ears tell you what is from the outside, i.e. not part of your identity.

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