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Is consciousness part of our brain?

DanneJeRusse
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4/17/2016 1:56:28 PM
Posted: 7 months ago
At 4/17/2016 1:22:32 PM, Gaanv2 wrote:
Yes/No

Why are you spamming the forums with the same thread?
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Mhykiel
Posts: 5,987
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4/17/2016 7:25:29 PM
Posted: 7 months ago
At 4/17/2016 1:22:32 PM, Gaanv2 wrote:
Yes/No

Technically, materialist don't consider consciousness as "part" of the brain. But as an emergent phenomenon.

Think like flying is not "part" of a wing. But a wing produces lift which we call flight. same token the Brain produces neural calculations that we interpret as consciousness.

And then the non-materialist say consciousness is not part of the brain.

So I don't think anyone will say yes.
keithprosser
Posts: 2,078
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4/18/2016 12:38:25 AM
Posted: 7 months ago
It is a badly posed question.
I don't go along with consciousness being an emergent phenomenon. Emergence is a valid concept, but what a materialist means when he says 'consciousness is an emerg property of the brain' is that he hasn't a clue how brains give rise to consciousness! Saying it is emrrgent sounds more impressive than admitting to being completely in the dark how it is supposed to actually work.

I know this is true because I am a materialist... But not one that calls consciousness emergent-at least I try not to!
keithprosser
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4/18/2016 12:39:20 AM
Posted: 7 months ago
It is a badly posed question.
I don't go along with consciousness being an emergent phenomenon. Emergence is a valid concept, but what a materialist means when he says 'consciousness is an emerg property of the brain' is that he hasn't a clue how brains give rise to consciousness! Saying it is emergent sounds more impressive than admitting to being completely in the dark how it is supposed to actually work.

I know this is true because I am a materialist... But not one that calls consciousness emergent-at least I try not to!
Gaanv2
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4/18/2016 3:10:56 AM
Posted: 7 months ago
At 4/18/2016 12:38:25 AM, keithprosser wrote:
It is a badly posed question.
I don't go along with consciousness being an emergent phenomenon. Emergence is a valid concept, but what a materialist means when he says 'consciousness is an emerg property of the brain' is that he hasn't a clue how brains give rise to consciousness! Saying it is emrrgent sounds more impressive than admitting to being completely in the dark how it is supposed to actually work.

I know this is true because I am a materialist... But not one that calls consciousness emergent-at least I try not to!

As a materialist, what's your opinion.. Is the consciousness there in our brain ?
G o l dF
keithprosser
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4/18/2016 5:04:47 AM
Posted: 7 months ago
I believe consciousness arises out of the normal operation of the brain, and that the said normal operation of the brain can be fully described using ordinary physical laws.
RuvDraba
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4/18/2016 6:03:50 AM
Posted: 7 months ago
At 4/18/2016 12:38:25 AM, keithprosser wrote:
I don't go along with consciousness being an emergent phenomenon. Emergence is a valid concept, but what a materialist means when he says 'consciousness is an emerg property of the brain' is that he hasn't a clue how brains give rise to consciousness!

That's far from true, Keith. The basic mechanisms of consciousness can be studied through neural correlates [http://www.scholarpedia.org...], and from such study, neuroscience can identify level of arousal and content of consciousness, and begin to model the mechanisms for it occurring -- as well as observing what it takes to reduce arousal and limit content, restore them, enhance them, or remove them completely. [http://www.scholarpedia.org...]

From neurological correlates, there's plenty of empirical evidence that consciousness is a neurological phenomenon [http://www.nature.com...] and that the operation of the brain is critical to both arousal and key content, but that doesn't mean consciousness is confined solely to the brain: it may also be contributed to by non-cerebral neurology.

Neuroscience is producing a model of what is called 'the easy problem of consciousness' -- variations in arousal, conscious content and conscious states, and the way they help inform self-awareness, direct attention and inform behavioural control. [http://consc.net...] But the so-called 'hard problem' is to take well-mapped objective mechanisms of consciousness and explain how they produce our qualitative conscious experiences. [http://www.scholarpedia.org...]

So calling consciousness emergent is not evasive -- it's perfectly accurate, since there is progress, it is prioritised, and there's increasingly accurate prediction, even if there are multiple candidate models, all the answers haven't been found, and surprises are sill appearing. [https://www.newscientist.com...] That's just business-as-usual in a new and complex scientific field.

And it's not just materialists who'd define it that way. Empiricists like me (and I suspect most neuroscientists), would so describe it too.
keithprosser
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4/18/2016 6:37:00 AM
Posted: 7 months ago
My objection to emergence is that is sometimes trotted out as if it was itself an explanation, as mykhels post suggested materialists/physicslists are prone to doing!

I note what you say re progress, but I think we are still several breakthroughs away from being able to reduce subjective experience to physics or an algorithm. A physicslist explanation of subjectivity has been just round the corner for as long as I can remember and its continued elusiveness is worrying... At least it worries me!
keithprosser
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4/18/2016 7:26:21 AM
Posted: 7 months ago
I should make it clear that I think it is only in rgard to the subjective aspects of consciousness that physicalism/materialism have problems. For a lot of what goes on in a brain we know a lot and know how to find out more, but re subjectivity we don't even know what we are looking for.
RuvDraba
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4/18/2016 8:33:22 AM
Posted: 7 months ago
At 4/18/2016 6:37:00 AM, keithprosser wrote:
I note what you say re progress, but I think we are still several breakthroughs away from being able to reduce subjective experience to physics or an algorithm.
I don't know how far away it is, Keith, since it would need a robust objective model for the basics of consciousness first -- and that's still in development.

A physicalist explanation of subjectivity has been just round the corner for as long as I can remember
I'm not aware of any neurologist claiming this, Keith, although I realise that some science journalists might over-hype the results that come out.

For as long as I've read in this area (casually, but for decades, due to its overlap with my professional interests), the great fascination of neuroscience has always been that even conjecturing how the mind makes sense of the world is quite challenging, demanding its own new ontology and models not found elsewhere in science.

its continued elusiveness is worrying... At least it worries me!
As an empiricist, I don't feel worry about it, and I'm not aware of any neuroscientists in despair over it either. The basics are yielding to empirical study at a steady rate as expected; there have been some wonderful breakthroughs in observational tools and predictions, and I wouldn't expect neuroscientists to tackle the harder questions of subjectivity in more than vague conjecture anyway until the fundamentals of sense-making are mapped.

And we can see how scientists behave when their paradigms are overtaxed: look at the state of electromagnetism or astrophysics in the late 19th century, for example. But that's not what I'm seeing in neuroscientists. I see fascination, puzzlement, excitement, the occasional surprise, changed opinion, improved observations, competing but coherent models, and increasingly accurate prediction -- which is exactly what I'd want to see in an emerging discipline.

I suppose I could be driven to skepticism about an empirical approach if consciousness did anything really spooky, but even when it appears to do odd things (like fabricate its rationalisations after taking action), it turns out to be not as significant as expected. And all the spooky things it ought to do if traditional myths and superstitions were true, fail under clinical testing exactly as expected, while all the things we ought to accomplish if consciousness were an objective phenomenon amenable to empiricism (like turning it on and off, isolating it, confusing it, or reconstructing visual memories from neurological activity) are occurring as a scientist would hope.
keithprosser
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4/18/2016 8:47:30 AM
Posted: 7 months ago
I can't see we are in much disagreement, but I think consciousness does do something spooky in producing subjective experience. You don't think so?:
RuvDraba
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4/18/2016 9:41:42 AM
Posted: 7 months ago
At 4/18/2016 8:47:30 AM, keithprosser wrote:
I can't see we are in much disagreement, but I think consciousness does do something spooky in producing subjective experience. You don't think so?:

I agree that we're not much in difference over-all, Keith.

Regarding subjective consciousness, I'd find it spooky if subjective apprehension were actually as good as its magical biases think it is. :) However, it shows every sign of being leadable around by its metaphorical nostrils, absolutely drunk on its own narcissistic, neurotic Kool-Aid.

So given a choice between conjecturing metaphysical magic for no better reason than subjectivity wants it so, and conjecturing an ignorant, self-absorbed, maladapted but nevertheless entertaining organ of sometime effective species problem-solving based on how it behaves, my money's on the latter.:D
keithprosser
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4/18/2016 10:05:34 AM
Posted: 7 months ago
My money-if I had any- would be in the same place! The problem is how does it work,? (Subjective) consciousness is one of the few areas where its not a matter of filling in the details but of not having any convincing framework. The point is we can't keep handwaving forever.... Or can we?
v3nesl
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4/18/2016 7:23:18 PM
Posted: 7 months ago
At 4/17/2016 7:25:29 PM, Mhykiel wrote:
At 4/17/2016 1:22:32 PM, Gaanv2 wrote:
Yes/No

Technically, materialist don't consider consciousness as "part" of the brain. But as an emergent phenomenon.

Think like flying is not "part" of a wing. But a wing produces lift which we call flight. same token the Brain produces neural calculations that we interpret as consciousness.

And then the non-materialist say consciousness is not part of the brain.

So I don't think anyone will say yes.

So you'll no doubt be presenting some one else's argument, but maybe you can help me understand the argument: If flying is an example of an emergent property, flying is something that could happen apart from a wing. You can fly without an airfoil - by magnetic levitation, for instance. So flying is a reality that can exist apart from wing. So by analogy, consciousness could exist apart from brain.

Would a materialist agree to this, that consciousness can exist apart from brain, in some other medium? Because if so, it seems to defeat the argument for claiming consciousness *must* be brain.
This space for rent.
v3nesl
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4/18/2016 7:27:05 PM
Posted: 7 months ago
At 4/18/2016 8:47:30 AM, keithprosser wrote:
I can't see we are in much disagreement, but I think consciousness does do something spooky in producing subjective experience. You don't think so?:

The question, as I've heard it from the great thinkers, is this: Can consciousness be produced by deterministic physical causes? To be so would seem to contradict the very meaning of "conscious [of]". The be conscious of would then mean exactly the same as "have a reaction to", and that is simply not what we think we mean when we say we are conscious of something.
This space for rent.
Mhykiel
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4/18/2016 9:44:32 PM
Posted: 7 months ago
At 4/18/2016 7:23:18 PM, v3nesl wrote:
At 4/17/2016 7:25:29 PM, Mhykiel wrote:
At 4/17/2016 1:22:32 PM, Gaanv2 wrote:
Yes/No

Technically, materialist don't consider consciousness as "part" of the brain. But as an emergent phenomenon.

Think like flying is not "part" of a wing. But a wing produces lift which we call flight. same token the Brain produces neural calculations that we interpret as consciousness.

And then the non-materialist say consciousness is not part of the brain.

So I don't think anyone will say yes.

So you'll no doubt be presenting some one else's argument, but maybe you can help me understand the argument: If flying is an example of an emergent property, flying is something that could happen apart from a wing. You can fly without an airfoil - by magnetic levitation, for instance. So flying is a reality that can exist apart from wing. So by analogy, consciousness could exist apart from brain.

Would a materialist agree to this, that consciousness can exist apart from brain, in some other medium? Because if so, it seems to defeat the argument for claiming consciousness *must* be brain.

Well it is an argument I don't support. I will say that what you bring up is an argument I have used before. Consider that neural pathways are multi-gated connections. Consider that the universe is not homogeneous but from all evidence appears to have domains with unique properties, and that these domains are connected by stellar pathways. Then could the Universe not be a material brain?

As I see it Pantheism is a real and possible logical step from the materialist view. Stating that thinking is emergent on the presence of "brain" only leads to asking, well what constitutes a brain?

Then could some flying be done by a wing, and some flying be done by hot air? Different mechanical means of generating lift.

So what exactly about the brain brings forth consciousness? Is it flow of electrons to a synapse? Well we have Motherboards that do that, so should we call the Iphone a conscious creation? no. Then we just follow down the rabbit whole.

I think many people want intelligent conscious thought to be found and come from only a human brain.
keithprosser
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4/18/2016 10:15:11 PM
Posted: 7 months ago
That is certainly a reasonable way to state the 'hard problem' of consciousness.
The only reason to think consciousness is a physical process is that physicalism has served us very well in the past for explaining things! It seems physicalism is all that is needed to explain everything else, so surely it can explain consciousness too.
Ruv is probably dying to catalogue the reasons for thinking physicalism is 'complete' and that consciousness is a physical process, but the fact that that there is no physicslist model of ,(subjective) consciousness today and excuses are running out.
No doubt there are people who would be delighted if physicalism can be shown to be inadequate.... It opens the door to all sorts of woo-woo and nonsense
Physicalism. Is such a good framework it can't be set aside lghtly. I think a physicslist model of subjectivity does exist... Brains do not operate by magic, but that is a statement of my belief, not yet of proven fact.
keithprosser
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4/18/2016 10:32:16 PM
Posted: 7 months ago
I think a physicslist model of consciousness would suggest ways of constructing artificial consciousnesses that are not biological brains, but until such a model exists the only known place where consciousness happens is in a brain. As m says, some people like it that way, but I don't!
Stonehe4rt
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4/18/2016 10:39:46 PM
Posted: 7 months ago
At 4/17/2016 1:22:32 PM, Gaanv2 wrote:
Yes/No

Founder of Quantum Mechanics would argue No. He stated that Consciousness was the Fundamental for Matter. Matter is derivative of Consciousness. And everything points back to Consciousness. Basically "I think, therefore I am" in a much exaggerated version of how thought created reality.
Stonehe4rt
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4/18/2016 10:42:40 PM
Posted: 7 months ago
At 4/17/2016 1:22:32 PM, Gaanv2 wrote:
Yes/No

Founder of Quantum Mechanics would argue No. He stated that Consciousness was the Fundamental for Matter. Matter is derivative of Consciousness. And everything points back to Consciousness. Basically "I think, therefore I am" in a much exaggerated version of how thought created reality.

Really I made a debate on something similar to this, but no I do not think that Consciousness is only from the Brain. I do believe the Mind has some sort of role in it, however Consciousness is its own separate thing, that is arguably the first thing that created everything, including Matter, which makes up for our brains. May seem contradictory as saying My thoughts made it so I could think. But that is pretty much the premise of "I think, therefore I am." which is pretty much our only way to answer if we really exist. So thought proves our existence and thought creates our existence.

So long story short. YOU ARE CORRECT! The answer is Yes and No!
v3nesl
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4/19/2016 11:29:15 AM
Posted: 7 months ago
At 4/18/2016 10:15:11 PM, keithprosser wrote:
That is certainly a reasonable way to state the 'hard problem' of consciousness.
The only reason to think consciousness is a physical process is that physicalism has served us very well in the past for explaining things!

In other words "if all you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail"

No doubt there are people who would be delighted if physicalism can be shown to be inadequate....

It absolutely can be, if one thinks about it. And that's the point right there - if one thinks *about* it, then thinking is not it. It's actually quite simple and obvious, it's just a testament to the creative abilities of the human mind that moderns have found a way to confound themselves.
This space for rent.
NoMagic
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4/22/2016 9:06:40 PM
Posted: 7 months ago
At 4/17/2016 1:22:32 PM, Gaanv2 wrote:
Yes/No

Yes
There is no evidence that things without brains are conscious.
There is abundance evidence that when conscious things with brains have their brains destroyed, their consciousness seems to go away.
Yes seems to be the most likely answer by a wide margin.
Akhenaten
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4/23/2016 12:58:16 AM
Posted: 7 months ago
A human being is just a collection of millions of individual cells joined together. These individual cells have specialized functions. The cells communicate with one another using chemical signals. Chemical exchanges are what we call consciousness.
keithprosser
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4/23/2016 1:13:56 AM
Posted: 7 months ago
Many of us think so too. But its one thing to assert it, quite another tonprive it and explain how chemical exchanges give rise to subjective experience.
Akhenaten
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4/23/2016 2:21:43 AM
Posted: 7 months ago
At 4/23/2016 1:13:56 AM, keithprosser wrote:
Many of us think so too. But its one thing to assert it, quite another tonprive it and explain how chemical exchanges give rise to subjective experience.

Its easy to prove. Try having a conscious thought without using any chemical exchanges. Good luck!
Gaanv2
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4/23/2016 4:10:18 AM
Posted: 7 months ago
At 4/23/2016 2:21:43 AM, Akhenaten wrote:
At 4/23/2016 1:13:56 AM, keithprosser wrote:
Many of us think so too. But its one thing to assert it, quite another tonprive it and explain how chemical exchanges give rise to subjective experience.

Its easy to prove. Try having a conscious thought without using any chemical exchanges. Good luck!

Please write the chemical changes undertaken for consciousness.
G o l dF
Mhykiel
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4/23/2016 5:32:06 AM
Posted: 7 months ago
At 4/22/2016 9:06:40 PM, NoMagic wrote:
At 4/17/2016 1:22:32 PM, Gaanv2 wrote:
Yes/No

Yes
There is no evidence that things without brains are conscious.

We barely know how to recognize consciousness. Barely human and only recently has the scientific community began to accept animals having conscious thought. To state what is evidence of Consciousness requires knowing how consciousness effects reality. Something we don't know. Say a forest of trees with all their roots interconnected, sending chemicals between each other. Reminiscent of neural activity.. how would you discern if the forest had consciousness?? Maybe that forest would answer questions that took years to formulate. You would be in error to think that consciousness has to happen at the same pace as your own awareness does.

There is abundance evidence that when conscious things with brains have their brains destroyed, their consciousness seems to go away.

Yes because when you destroy a radio you also destroy the radio waves. All you have demonstrated is the the brain is the organ by which consciousness relates to the rest of reality.

Yes seems to be the most likely answer by a wide margin.

Seems to me like your thinking is a non-sequitor