Consciousness - the elephant in the room

What is a human being? What is life? Can science give us reliable answers to such questions? The electricity of life. The meaning of human consciousness. Are we alone? Are the traditional contests between science and religion still relevant? Does the word "spirit" still hold meaning today?

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Re: Consciousness - the elephant in the room

Unread postby tayga » Wed Nov 02, 2011 1:19 am

Welcome Ghendi.

I don't think I disagree with a single word of what you said. :D

However, Scott's original question addresses the real problem regarding consciousness which is our failure to address it scientifically.

How do you think we can progress?
tayga


It doesn't matter how beautiful your theory is, it doesn't matter how smart you are. If it doesn't agree with experiment, it's wrong.

- Richard P. Feynman

Normal science does not aim at novelties of fact or theory and, when successful, finds none.
- Thomas Kuhn
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Re: Consciousness - the elephant in the room

Unread postby StevenJay » Wed Nov 02, 2011 8:57 am

I feel that science doesn't address studying Consciousness for the simple reason that it cannot be studied, any more than a knife can cut itself or a tongue taste itself. We can study awareness and thought processes all we like. But it's not possible for us to study Consciousness itself, because it is Consciousness that is ultimately doing the observing/studying.

As Ghendi (welcome!) pointed out: "... how would you be able to say something about consciousness by thinking of how it's generated by a physical something or by actually using it and experimenting with it?"

Science is wise to avoid the subject. It already suffers from enough problems! :roll:
It's all about perception.
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Re: Consciousness - the elephant in the room

Unread postby Scott MC » Thu Nov 03, 2011 5:14 pm

What if knowledge of consciousness is essential for accurate observation?
99.999+% of everything can't be that simple, can it?
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Re: Consciousness - the elephant in the room

Unread postby Ghendi » Fri Nov 04, 2011 2:28 am

StevenJay wrote:I feel that science doesn't address studying Consciousness for the simple reason that it cannot be studied, any more than a knife can cut itself or a tongue taste itself. We can study awareness and thought processes all we like. But it's not possible for us to study Consciousness itself, because it is Consciousness that is ultimately doing the observing/studying.

As Ghendi (welcome!) pointed out: "... how would you be able to say something about consciousness by thinking of how it's generated by a physical something or by actually using it and experimenting with it?"

Thanks everyone for the welcome, good to be here!

We need to differenciate between science and people which doing it. If there is an event, there needs to be a real science to explain it correctly. However humans can still get it wrong.

tayga wrote:However, Scott's original question addresses the real problem regarding consciousness which is our failure to address it scientifically.

How do you think we can progress?


StevenJay wrote:Science is wise to avoid the subject. It already suffers from enough problems! :roll:


Actually is not avoiding it. I think there are alot of people locked and deprived from basic human rights, worse than any prison, because of how we see them, including their conscioussness state. We're making what I see as experiments on them to get them to our normal, confortable mental state and behaviour. And we consider we know mostly everything what we are doing there...
I don't say we should do nothing or that we don't achieve anything, but I thing we're missing alot of things from the picture.

Scott MC wrote:What if knowledge of consciousness is essential for accurate observation?


At least consciousness is needed to interpret an observation.

I think we can also see consciousness as more than just being aware while we do our daily routine - which is usually not really being fully aware because we're repeating things which we already know and we're not fully consciously involving into the process. I would rather see it like an opening in an inner space where you can express your own thoughts and feelings and I mean here those thoughts and feelings that are being created in that moment through an conscious effort. You can call this process as a meditation, but that's more since is it requires being able to control your emotions and focus your thoughts on a narrow path so that they are all related to a subject or concept.
We're all doing that at some point, but don't call it meditation :)

As consciousness in not something tangible we can't study it as we would do with an object. We can observe it's effects through people for example, but can't touch it, the same applies for example to thoughts. However there are sciences which study them.

Before doing any study on this path first we must admit that the real human value is more than it's body, otherwise we're going nowere.

As I was mentioning in my previous post throughout a human's life consciousness is changing. Thus one can follow these changes.
Consciously you can review your actions, thoughts, feelings and by doing this you'll notice that in time it gets easier doing it, you're becoming more aware of what you're doing. The same applies to the universe surrounding you.
Consciousness is expanding together with your knowledge, experiences and so on. Compare yourself with the the man you were 15 years ago and see the differences in thoughts, feelings and so on and you realise that that person could not be the one you are now and also not have the same consciousness level. If you don't agree just start adding more years ;)
This is just an example of how in my oppinion one it can start studying it.

As mentioned through my post I would say it has some properties, altough we can't quantitize them. But first we must admit is something real, not an concept and that is outside of physical boundaries, although it can manifest itself through it.

So I think consciousness can be studied and everything else for that matter.
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Re: Consciousness - the elephant in the room

Unread postby tayga » Fri Nov 04, 2011 2:53 am

Ghendi wrote:So I think consciousness can be studied and everything else for that matter.


I agree with you and what you wrote reminded me of exercises like 'living deliberately', that is being aware of everything you do and deciding to undertake actions before you actually do them. Being here and now. It's Buddhism, Zen, whatever.

And this brought me to realise that Science as we know it cannot study consciousness because the study of consciousness is a subjective exercise taken either independently or under guidance. There is no objective reality which can be published and verified by others. So either Science changes (I have no idea how that could happen) or consciousness will fall outside its scope.

What do you think?
tayga


It doesn't matter how beautiful your theory is, it doesn't matter how smart you are. If it doesn't agree with experiment, it's wrong.

- Richard P. Feynman

Normal science does not aim at novelties of fact or theory and, when successful, finds none.
- Thomas Kuhn
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Consciousness - the nature of..

Unread postby Chai Wallah » Sat Nov 05, 2011 4:28 am

IMO the best, and easy to follow,(which is how it should be) explanations i have found are the w.w atkinson books ,most of which are also free as an e-book. '14 lessons in yogi philosophy' http://arfalpha.com/YogiPhilosphy/YogiPhilosophy.pdf
sorry for the mess of structure

here is a segment on:

(4) The Instinctive Mind.

This plane of mentation we share in connection with the lower animals, in, at least, its lower forms. It is the
first plane of mentation reached in the scale of evolution. Its lowest phases are along lines in which
consciousness is scarcely evident, and it extends from this lowly place in the scale until it manifests a very
high degree of consciousness in comparison with its lowest phases; in fact, when it begins to shade into the
fifth principle, it is difficult to distinguish it from the lowest forms of the latter.

The first dawn of the instinctive mind may be seen even in the mineral kingdom, more particularly in crystals,
etc. Then in the plant kingdom it grows more distinct and higher in the scale, some of the higher families of
plants showing even a rudimentary form of consciousness. Then in the world of the lower animals are seen
increasing manifestations of the instinctive mind, from the almost plant like intelligence of the lower forms
until we reach a degree almost equal to that of the lowest form of human life. Then, among men, we see it
shading gradually into the fifth principle, the intellect, until in the highest form of man today we see the fifth
principle, intellect, in control to a certain extent, and subordinating the fourth principle to it, either wisely or
unwisely. But, remember this, that even the highest form of man carries about with him the fourth principle,
the instinctive mind, and in varying degrees uses it, or is used by it. The instinctive mind is most useful to
man in this stage of his development - he could not exist as a physical being without it, in fact - and he may
make a most valuable servant of it if he understands it; but woe to him if he allows it to remain in control or to
usurp prerogatives belonging to its higher brother. Now, right here we must call your attention to the fact that
man is still a growing creature - he is not a finished product by any means. He has reached his present stage of
growth after a toilsome journey; but it is merely sunrise yet, and the full day is far off. The fifth principle, the
intellect, has unfolded to a certain degree, particularly in the more advanced men of today, but the unfoldment
is merely beginning with many.

Many men are but little more than animals, and their minds function almost entirely upon the instinctive
plane. And all men of today, with the exceptions of a few very highly developed individuals, have need to be
on guard lest the instinctive mind does not occasionally unduly assert its power over them, when they are off
their guard.

The lowest phase of the work of the instinctive mind is akin to the same work manifesting in the plant
kingdom. The work of our bodies is performed by this part of the mind. The constant work of repair,
replacement, change, digestion, assimilation, elimination, etc., is being performed by this part of the mind, all
below the plane of consciousness. The wondrous work of the body, in health and sickness, is faithfully carried
on by this part of our minds, all without our conscious knowledge. The intelligent work of every organ, part,
and cell of the body is under the superintendence of this part of the mind. Read in "Science of Breath" of the
marvelous process of the circulation of the blood, its purification, etc., and realize, faintly, what a wonderful
work is even this lowest phase of the instinctive mind. We will show more of its workings in our forthcoming
work "Hatha Yoga," but any school physiology will give you a clear idea of what it does, although its writer
does not tell the cause behind it. This part of the work of the instinctive mind is well performed in the lower
animals, plants, and in man, until the latter begins to unfold a little intellect, when he often begins to meddle
with the work properly belonging to this plane of the mind, and sends to it adverse suggestions, fear thoughts,
etc. However, this trouble is but temporary, as, when the intellect unfolds a little farther, it sees the error into
which it has fallen and proceeds to rectify the trouble and to prevent its recurrence.

But this is only a part of the province of the instinctive mind. As the animal progressed along the scale of
evolution, certain things became necessary for its protection and well-being. It could not reason on these
things, so that wonderful intelligence dwelling, subconsciously, in the instinctive mind unfolded until it was
able to grasp the situation and meet it. It aroused the "fighting instinct" in the brute for its preservation, and
this action of the instinctive mind, very good for its purpose and essential to the preservation of the life of the
animal, is still with us and occasionally projects itself into our mentality with a surprising degree of strength.
There is a great deal of the old animal fighting spirit in us yet, although we have managed to control it and to
hold it in restraint, thanks to the light obtained from our unfolding higher faculties. The instinctive mind also
taught the animal how to build its nests, how to migrate before approaching winter, how to hibernate, and
thousands of other things well known to students of natural history. And it teaches us how to do the many
things which we perform instinctively, as it also assumes tasks which we learn how to perform by means of
our intellect, and which we pass on to the instinctive mind, which afterward performs them automatically or
nearly so. It is astonishing how many of our daily tasks are performed under the direction of our instinctive
mind, subject merely to a casual supervision of the Intellect. When we learn to do things "by heart," we have
really mastered them on the intellectual plane, and then passed them on to the instinctive plane of mentation.
The woman with her sewing machine, the man who runs his engine, the painter with his brush, all find the
instinctive mind a good friend, in fact the intellect would soon tire if it had these every - day tasks to perform.
Note the difference between learning to do a thing, and then doing it after it has been learned. These
manifestations of the instinctive mind are of course among its higher phases, and are due largely to its contact
with and blending with the unfolding intellect.

The instinctive mind is also the "habit" mind.
The intellect (either that of the owner of the instinctive mind, or of some other man) passes on ideas to it,
which it afterward faithfully carries out to the letter, unless corrected or given better instructions,
or worse ones, by the intellect of some one.

The instinctive mind is a queer storehouse. It is full of things received from a variety of sources. It contains
many things which it has received through heredity; other things which have unfolded within it, the seeds of
which were sown at the time of the primal impulse which started life along the path; other things which it has
received from the intellect, including suggestions from others, as well as thought-waves sent out from the
minds of others, which have taken lodgement within its corridors. All sorts of foolishness as well as wisdom is
there. We will deal with this phase of the subject in future lessons, under the head of Suggestion and Auto
Suggestion, Thought Power, etc.
Instinctive mind manifests varying degrees of consciousness, varying from almost absolute sub-consciousness
to the simple consciousness of the highest of the lower animals and the lower forms of man.
Self-consciousness comes to man with the unfoldment of the intellect, and will be spoken of in its proper
place. Cosmic or universal consciousness comes with the unfoldment of the spiritual mind and will be touched upon later on.
This gradual growth of consciousness is a most interesting and important branch of the subject before us,
and will be referred to, and spoken of, at different points in this course.

Before we pass on to the next principle, we must call your attention to the fact that the instinctive mind is the
seat of the appetites, passions, desires, instincts, sensations, feelings, and emotions of the lower order,
manifested in man as well as in the lower animals. There are of course higher ideas, emotions, aspirations, and
desires, reaching the advanced man from the unfolding spiritual mind, but the animal desires, and the ordinary
feelings, emotions, etc., belong to the instinctive mind. All the "feelings" belonging to our passional and
emotional nature belong to this plane. All animal desires, such as hunger and thirst, sexual desires (on the
physical plane); all passions, such as physical love, hatred, envy, malice, jealousy, revenge, are a part of it.
The desire for the physical (unless as a means of reaching higher things), the longing for the material, all
belong to this plane. The "lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, the pride of life," are on this plane. This
principle is the most material of the three mental principles, and is the one which is apt to bind us the closest
to the earth and earthly things. Remember, that we are not condemning material or "earthly" things - they are
all right in their place; but man in his unfoldment grows to see these things as only a means to an end - only a
step in the spiritual evolution. And with clearer vision he ceases to be bound too tightly to the material side of
life, and, instead of regarding it as the end and aim of all things, sees that it is, at the best, only a means to a
higher end.

Many of the "brute" instincts are still with us, and are much in evidence in undeveloped people. Occultists
learn to curb and control these lower instincts, and to subordinate them to the higher mental ideals which open
up to them. Be not discouraged, dear student, if you find much of the animal still within you. It is no sign of
"badness," or evil; in fact the recognition of it by one is a sign that his unfoldment has begun, for, before, the
same thing was there and not recognized for what it is, whereas now it is both seen and recognized.
Knowledge is power; learn to know the remnants of the brute nature within you and become a tamer of wild
beasts. The higher principles will always obtain the mastery, but patience, perseverance, and faith are required
for the task. These "brute" things were all right in their time - the animal had need of them they were "good"
for the purpose intended, but now that man is reaching higher points on the path, he sees clearer and learns to
subordinate the lower parts of himself to the higher.

The lower instincts were not implanted in your nature by "the devil"; you came by them honestly. They came
in the process of evolution as a proper and right thing, but have been largely outgrown and can now be left
behind. So do not fear these inheritances from the past; you can put them aside or subordinate them to higher
things as you journey along the path. Do not despise them, though you tread them under foot - they are the
steps upon which you have reached your present high estate, and upon which you will attain still greater
heights.
Checking for spelling mistakes is the last refuge of the Skeptic.
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Re: Consciousness - the elephant in the room

Unread postby Sparky » Sat Nov 05, 2011 7:18 am

audio:
Peering Into The Brain, But At What?
Modern brain-imaging techniques have given researchers an unprecedented level of detail about the structure of the brain, but are they any closer to puzzling out how the brain really works? Harvard neuroscientist Jeff Lichtman talks about the limitations of brain imaging, and the challenges of trying to use imaging techniques to decode the brain’s behavior.


A Researcher Asks: Are Dolphins Self-Aware?
Like chimpanzees, dolphins are large-brained and highly social animals, but can they recognize themselves in a mirror? Pyschologist and dolphin researcher Diana Reiss discusses her work with dolphin communication and cognition.
"It is dangerous to be right in matters where established men are wrong."
"Doubt is not an agreeable condition, but certainty is an absurd one."
"Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities." Voltaire
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Re: Consciousness - the elephant in the room

Unread postby Scott MC » Thu Nov 10, 2011 2:39 pm

Analogy:
Image
for the whole picture see: http://xkcd.com/975/
99.999+% of everything can't be that simple, can it?
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Re: Consciousness - the elephant in the room

Unread postby Plasmatic » Sun Nov 13, 2011 4:21 pm

Here's one for you: Consciousness is the faculty of perceiving that which exist. It is elusive because we are attempting to discover the nature of that which we discover with. Epistemologically it is axiomatic, as it is implicit in every conception.
http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/consciousness.html

Here's another:
Life is goal directedness. That which makes value possible. Life is the root of value and also it's reward. In order to remain alive one must persue the the goal of life

http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/life.html
"Logic is the art of non-contradictory identification"......" I am therefore Ill think"
Ayn Rand
"It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it."
Aristotle
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Re: Consciousness - the elephant in the room

Unread postby ranmacar » Tue Jan 03, 2012 6:25 pm

The problem is simple. And the solution none.
I think, therefore I am mistaken. For to think, my body has to be, as thought is its possibilities, I am decision.
Once my body was none, and could not decide. Then I found another, and we decided to be. I thought, therefore we were, it thought.
More decided, to think with us, and I decided how. My body grew. So did I.
I think, therefore I listen, we are, therefore they obey.
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Re: Consciousness - the elephant in the room

Unread postby nubian » Wed Jan 04, 2012 3:21 am

I think of consciousness as that which animates/creates matter and causes motion. So since everything else is in constant motion, then consciousness must be that still motionless, timeless part of an entity. Think of it as a fulcrum. What is it made of? Definitely cannot be matter.
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Re: Consciousness - the elephant in the room

Unread postby ranmacar » Wed Jan 04, 2012 6:24 pm

Consciousness is what it always is, energy. Some random, some very focused, and organized. The brain just facilitates this, it's the sparks that think. Each as infinite as all others. I am just their collective decision, the form, to cary their individual thoughts. By restricting the freedom of some, others gain more power to express, realize.
The "I" does not exist, just as the "state" does not. The citizens just allow the illusion, by their collective actions, respecting its policies.
Our minds are just stuck with medieval politics, where kings declare they are the country. And they are RIGHT!
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Re: Consciousness - the elephant in the room

Unread postby Influx » Thu Jan 05, 2012 1:14 am

Consciousness is just like time. A concept. As such it does not exit. You are you...none of that dichotomy crap.
Today is the yesterday of tomorrow.
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Re: Consciousness - the elephant in the room

Unread postby tayga » Thu Jan 05, 2012 1:40 am

Influx wrote:Consciousness is just like time. A concept. As such it does not exit.


I guess you mean 'exist'?

So, for you, concepts don't exist? Exactly how and where did you frame that non-existent idea and what are your non-existent words describing? Nothing?
tayga


It doesn't matter how beautiful your theory is, it doesn't matter how smart you are. If it doesn't agree with experiment, it's wrong.

- Richard P. Feynman

Normal science does not aim at novelties of fact or theory and, when successful, finds none.
- Thomas Kuhn
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Re: Consciousness - the elephant in the room

Unread postby ranmacar » Thu Jan 05, 2012 8:39 am

Influx wrote: You are you...none of that dichotomy crap.


What dichotomy?
I am a trinity, the parts, the whole, and a part, equal to all others, chosen to lead. All of which overlap. All of which greater, than on its own.
The whole without the parts does not exist. The parts without the I are dead. The I without the whole is lost.
If you find you are nothing on your own, you may live forever, existing in the now. As a part, of the whole.

Keep it moving :)
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