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    Thread: What is consciousness?

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      Member Valmancer's Avatar
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      What is consciousness?

      I'd like to start this discussion with saying that I don't believe in free will, but I don't think everything is predestined either. I just believe that there is a kind of randomness in the whole universe (like some of quantum mechanics says) so you can never calculate what will happen. Here comes the problem with not having free will, if we don't then surely we have no consciousness either?

      I'm not even sure what consciousness really means. Here's a quote from wikipedia:

      "Consciousness is variously defined as subjective experience or awareness, or wakefulness, or the executive control system of the mind. It is an umbrella term that may refer to a variety of mental phenomena. Although humans realize what everyday experiences are, consciousness refuses to be defined"

      They talk about awareness or wakefulness, which doesn't make any sense if we don't have free will and are just manifestations of randomness and chance. What would be the thing that is aware or awake?

      The whole thing about "experience" doesn't make sense either. What is experiencing, is it the molecules in you body, you'r nervous system reacting to chemical reactions (which are still just molecules in your body) or what?

      The executive control system of the mind makes the most sense to me as it accepts that there is nothing more than a center (molecules) which "control" things around the body to make it survive in a world of randomness. This system has then become better by evolution so it chooses the most rational option, the option that left most of it's ancestors alive.

      So, I've come to the conclusion that there is no consciousness and we are just machines, formed by random chance and evolution, which react to the random surroundings in the way that left most of our ancestor's alive

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      Member JackALope2323's Avatar
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      It's not that we don't have consciousness.

      While we don't have free will, we still make choices. YES, these choices are determined by our mechanical, automatic biological processes. But, we still make them. Therefore, we are conscious.

      Experiencing is everything. At one moment, the atoms and particles and molecules in your body that make you up are experiencing energy flowing through them, breaking and making bonds. At that same moment, your consciousness is experiencing this exact same energy flow, paradoxically in an entirely different way.

      Of course we are just machines. But we ARE conscious, thinking, experiencing machines. Consciousness is the universe's way of observing itself.

      But, you know, that's just like, my opinion, man.
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      Member Lakona's Avatar
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      You're having the subjective experience of seeing a computer monitor in front of you right now, are you not? That's called consciousness, it's pretty much undeniable.

      Unless you're a Philosophical Zombie (look it up.)

      As far as, "How can subjective experience possibly result from the interaction of inanimate neurons?"

      That's called "The Hard Problem of Consciousness" (look it up.)

      And... nobody has any idea whatsoever.

      Literally, no one has anything close to the first clue as to what a plausible answer would even look like.

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      Dream Guy ooflendoodle's Avatar
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      No one has seemed to give the moral definition so haven't you ever felt bad or good about doing something bad or good if you have, you have a conscious.
      "For a long time it gave me nightmares, having to witness an injustice like that. It was a constant reminder of how unfair this world can be, I can still hear them taunting him. 'Silly Rabbit, Trix are for kids!'... How come they just couldn't give him some cereal?"

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      Member Lakona's Avatar
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      You're confusing "conscious" with "conscience," oof. Two different things...

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      Consciousness is you and its your job to make the desicions that will effect the rest of the body for good or for bad. Thats what i believe anyway...

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      Dream Guy ooflendoodle's Avatar
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      Oh well then nevermind lol
      "For a long time it gave me nightmares, having to witness an injustice like that. It was a constant reminder of how unfair this world can be, I can still hear them taunting him. 'Silly Rabbit, Trix are for kids!'... How come they just couldn't give him some cereal?"

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      Member Laughing Man's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by Valmancer View Post
      I'd like to start this discussion with saying that I don't believe in free will, but I don't think everything is predestined either. I just believe that there is a kind of randomness in the whole universe (like some of quantum mechanics says) so you can never calculate what will happen. Here comes the problem with not having free will, if we don't then surely we have no consciousness either?
      I don't see how uncertainty proves free-will erroneous. In fact I think it only strengthens its claim because if the future were determined then all present action would be in line with such a time line. This would also presuppose that all previous action dictates the current preference choices. Basically your presenting Newcomb's problem. We cannot change the past with current preferences (backward causation) therefore in determining our present preferences we are not dependent upon the covarying of previous events and therefore present preference presents an uncertainty principle in future causal chains.
      Last edited by Laughing Man; 10-02-2010 at 08:58 AM.
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      Member Laughing Man's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by JackALope2323 View Post
      It's not that we don't have consciousness.

      While we don't have free will, we still make choices. YES, these choices are determined by our mechanical, automatic biological processes. But, we still make them. Therefore, we are conscious.
      .
      Please read what I just wrote in my previous statement concerning Newcomb's problem. You are presenting the idea that we are governed by automatic, biological process with the aspect of choice and denying free-will. Apart from this blatant contradiction of being able to choose but not having free-will, all action in life is the result of purposeful application of means to ends. Something cannot be automatically determined and yet still capable of presenting choice. It would be like saying your heart automatically beats but you have the choice to keep it from beating through thought alone. Action is not reflexes. It is not of the involuntary, biological nature. It is a conscious decision making process. I should probably stop here to see if you are still interested in this topic.
      'What is war?...In a short sentence it may be summed up to be the combination and concentration of all the horrors, atrocities, crimes, and sufferings of which human nature on this globe is capable' - John Bright

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      Be a man of Value. Jorge's Avatar
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      Such an insane mind-rape.

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      The Anti-Member spockman's Avatar
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      I just don't get why when people can explain things, they become invalid to those same people. Example: Ethics are largely an evolved social funtion. People: Oh, so there isn't morality.
      Example: Determinism in obvious and undeniable. Your choices are a result of brain chemistry. Your mind chooses what it does because of a cause and effect relationship. People: Oh, so there are no such things as choices.

      I don't understand the train of thought.
      Last edited by spockman; 10-02-2010 at 11:49 PM.
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    12. #12
      Member Laughing Man's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by spockman View Post
      I just don't get why when people can explain things, they become invalid to those same people. Example: Ethics are largely an evolved social funtion. People: Oh, so there isn't morality.
      Example: Determinism in obvious and undeniable. Your choices are a result of brain chemistry. Your mind chooses what it does because of a cause and effect relationship. People: Oh, so there are no such things as choices.

      I don't understand the train of thought.
      Well to say it is an automatic, mechanical process is to characterize decision making as a mechanistic chore. A happens therefore B follows. It cannot be surmised as saying A happens therefore ... which would establish the ability of choice and therefore free will in choosing varying options. Also choice is not so simple as A to B. It could be A to B and C or A to B and C while excluding C.
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      Well there can be many arguments that can be made against the "randomness". First one and the best one in my opinion is the concept of "what goes around comes around" which delivers justice. Such is the case, the existence of Karma can not be denied, if done so, trust me dear, you do not want to test it, it is very strict. So then it can be said that if injustice is done, justice is delivered, it is hard to say that this comes from randomness.

      Like I said, if you want prove of this, then I caution you much in causing injustice to see how justice will get delivered to you. That is up to you if you want it proven or not.

      Another thing, being interested in such things, I recommend meditation, it increases your awareness and you will see the flow of experience with a wider awareness, you will see much more things that are not shown to us in our normal consciousness. See the things that you will be shown, see it for yourself and then after decide if it is random or is everything perfect in its time and place.

      Second, it depends on how you first of all define consciousness. I define it as Self-awareness, since you are self-aware (as I assume), consciousness exists. If you say that consciousness does not exist, then this thing of self-awareness might just have to get a different word for it.
      Last edited by elucid; 10-03-2010 at 06:21 AM.

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      The Anti-Member spockman's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by elucid View Post
      Well there can be many arguments that can be made against the "randomness". First one and the best one in my opinion is the concept of "what goes around comes around" which delivers justice. Such is the case, the existence of Karma can not be denied, if done so, trust me dear, you do not want to test it, it is very strict. So then it can be said that if injustice is done, justice is delivered, it is hard to say that this comes from randomness.
      Agreed that justice is not random. I even agree in forces of justice beyond our understanding, but I would never say that this idea cannot be denied. One could argue justice is just a social function.
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      Yeah, agree or disagree, there are many other arguments that can be made as to the randomness of things, which was the focus of my post. Such as the existence of such eloquent designs in the body. That alone for me is enough proof that it is not randomness.

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      The Anti-Member spockman's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by Laughing Man View Post
      Well to say it is an automatic, mechanical process is to characterize decision making as a mechanistic chore. A happens therefore B follows. It cannot be surmised as saying A happens therefore ... which would establish the ability of choice and therefore free will in choosing varying options. Also choice is not so simple as A to B. It could be A to B and C or A to B and C while excluding C.
      While I do believe in freedom of choice, it is deterministic. There is no other alternative BUT determinism. Whatever is going to happen in fifty years or in five seconds cannot be changed. If went back in time five minutes ago without changing anything, I would choose to write this post EVERY time even if we did it for all of eternity. There is no deviation from the paths set into motion ever since the first event. Likewise, if one could know every single universal/extra-universal variable right now, they could predict everything that will ever happen with absolute certainty.
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      Member Laughing Man's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by spockman View Post
      While I do believe in freedom of choice, it is deterministic. There is no other alternative BUT determinism. Whatever is going to happen in fifty years or in five seconds cannot be changed. If went back in time five minutes ago without changing anything, I would choose to write this post EVERY time even if we did it for all of eternity. There is no deviation from the paths set into motion ever since the first event. Likewise, if one could know every single universal/extra-universal variable right now, they could predict everything that will ever happen with absolute certainty.
      That doesn't address what I have said about backward casualty. You have no idea what is going to happen in 50 years or 5 seconds so how do you know it cannot be changed?
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      The Anti-Member spockman's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by Laughing Man View Post
      That doesn't address what I have said about backward casualty. You have no idea what is going to happen in 50 years or 5 seconds so how do you know it cannot be changed?
      I don't know what is going to happen, but if I knew all of the variables then I would. What is going to happen cannot be changed because it is just that... What is going to happen.
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      Another issue Spockman, since you seem to be basing this off the first event that sparked everything, and everything else is based of that first event. We can also argue that everything can be put to a complete halt, and then restarting, thus making it so that it is not based off the first event. Of course this is theoritical.

      And since it can be put to a complete halt, then in this sense, you can change what is going to happen.

      This is based off the worldview that this is like a computer program that can be stopped, restarted, and modified.

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      DuB
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      Quote Originally Posted by Laughing Man View Post
      Basically your presenting Newcomb's problem.
      Newcomb's paradox is first and foremost a problem in rational choice theory, and I really don't see how it's instructive or even relevant here. Care to convince me?

      Quote Originally Posted by Laughing Man View Post
      We cannot change the past with current preferences (backward causation) therefore in determining our present preferences we are not dependent upon the covarying of previous events and therefore present preference presents an uncertainty principle in future causal chains.
      You seem to be saying that because backward causation is impossible, forward causation is impossible. How does this follow?

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      The Anti-Member spockman's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by elucid View Post
      Another issue Spockman, since you seem to be basing this off the first event that sparked everything, and everything else is based of that first event. We can also argue that everything can be put to a complete halt, and then restarting, thus making it so that it is not based off the first event. Of course this is theoritical.

      And since it can be put to a complete halt, then in this sense, you can change what is going to happen.

      This is based off the worldview that this is like a computer program that can be stopped, restarted, and modified.
      Even if there was no beginning of time, it wouldn't matter. What will happen will happen. Everything that happens was effected by something previous to it. Determinism is a basic truth. It's fact.
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      Member Laughing Man's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by spockman View Post
      Even if there was no beginning of time, it wouldn't matter. What will happen will happen. Everything that happens was effected by something previous to it. Determinism is a basic truth. It's fact.
      You aren't talking about determinism, you are talking about cause and effect.
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      The Anti-Member spockman's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by Laughing Man View Post
      You aren't talking about determinism, you are talking about cause and effect.
      That's what determinism is.

      Definitions-
      Princeton- a philosophical theory holding that all events are inevitable consequences of antecedent sufficient causes; often understood as denying the possibility of free will

      Wikipedia- Determinism is the view that every event, including human cognition, behavior, decision, and action, is causally determined by an unbroken chain of prior occurrences. Determinists believe the universe is fully governed by causal laws resulting in only one possible state at any point in time
      London Sonomo- the principle that all information and events embody natural laws.


      Every single thing that was ever going to happen was already set in motion in the beginning, (if there was one,) or else was inevitably going to occur at any point in time before it. Everything is theoretically predictable. The above definitions aren't even philosophy, to me. It is just the way that the universe works.
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    24. #24
      Xei
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      It isn't that clear cut of course. Many think that quantum uncertainty is inherent.

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      The Anti-Member spockman's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by Xei View Post
      It isn't that clear cut of course. Many think that quantum uncertainty is inherent.
      It is pretty clear as long as the basic principles of logic are held to be the highest standard. I've heard about the studies which show how the universe operates differently while being observed and predictions can never be 100 percent. Alright, cool. Even if that is totally spot on there is just a force driving this observation that we don't yet understand. To come to the conclusion, 'Oh, the universe must be broken!' is psuedo-science at its best.

      If quantum uncertainty is inherent in the universe, then it is a law of the universe. Things will effect it and there will be a scientific reason for its operation. Surely you are not suggesting that it is possible for a non-understood idea of to defy all other laws and work seperate from the rest of the universe? If one could understand all the variables of quantum mechanics, the universe isn't going to spit out something contrary to what those variables pointed to.

      And any time quantum mechanics tries to deny basic rules of logic/how things work, I call B.S. I don't care how many think it is true when a scientist says something about universal mechanics, if he uses his thought experiments to deny something as simple as 1+1=2 and sticks to that conclusion he may as well switch his field to cryptozoology or become a sociologist. (To all the sociologists out there... I was just joking about that last one, guys! I you.)
      Last edited by spockman; 10-05-2010 at 05:23 AM.
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