Best theory of consciousness?
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02-08-2014, 05:01 AM
RE: Best theory of consciousness?
(01-08-2014 06:54 PM)avalon Wrote:  
(01-08-2014 06:46 PM)DLJ Wrote:  I was not aware there were any scientific theories of consciousness.

Isn't this still in the realm of philosophy?

Meaning... science works best with a well defined question to investigate and discover possible and probable answers but the question of consciousness is not yet defined.

Anyway, I'm reading some Dennett at the moment, just so I can get a small insight (in-sight... consciousness... Big Grin ) into the question.

DLJ,
You might be interested in this:
http://www.science-of-consciousness.com/

A website from a real estate developer? Really? Facepalm

Skepticism is not a position; it is an approach to claims.
Science is not a subject, but a method.
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02-08-2014, 05:21 AM
RE: Best theory of consciousness?
(01-08-2014 06:46 PM)DLJ Wrote:  I was not aware there were any scientific theories of consciousness.

Isn't this still in the realm of philosophy?

Meaning... science works best with a well defined question to investigate and discover possible and probable answers but the question of consciousness is not yet defined.


You're right in that it is a hard problem because people have trouble defining it in the first place, but there is most definitely research being carried on out on it by neuroscientists and computational neuroscientists. I have been to a workshop at a conference with the latter because there is some overlap being consciousness and emotions. Some people think that you cannot have consciousness without having emotions for example.

We sense our environment, we sense our body, my own personal theory is that consciousness is merely a sensing of the brain's own internal state and being able to act on it. For example, knowing that you are angry, happy, in pain.

Consciousness seems like such a complex thing that is impossible to define because we can sense different aspects of our mental state.

Or to think about it another way consciousness is not a binary condition where you are either conscious or unconscious. Some people are more conscious than others. Some people may act on emotion without knowing why, whilst others may be aware of what's driving them. Cognition therefore gives them a chance to think, hold on, maybe I should calm down and not punch this person in the face ... etc.

Consciousness is therefore intrinsically linked to a self identity.
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02-08-2014, 05:47 AM
RE: Best theory of consciousness?
(01-08-2014 09:19 PM)DLJ Wrote:  
(01-08-2014 06:54 PM)avalon Wrote:  ...

DLJ,
You might be interested in this:
http://www.science-of-consciousness.com/

Much appreciated. I will digest.

Thumbsup

That was a starting point for me years ago.
For the best theory today, try this:
http://www.biolbull.org/content/215/3/216.full
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02-08-2014, 06:19 AM
RE: Best theory of consciousness?
Quote:We sense our environment, we sense our body, my own personal theory is that consciousness is merely a sensing of the brain's own internal state and being able to act on it. For example, knowing that you are angry, happy, in pain.

Consciousness seems like such a complex thing that is impossible to define because we can sense different aspects of our mental state.

In discussions with theists (who see consciousness as evidence of a soul and afterlife) I've presented the following thought experiment: suppose that a fetus developing in a womb was operated on using micro surgery so that every sensory input to the brain was severed. No optic nerve, no auditory nerve, no taste sensation, no smell, no feeling at all, in short, no means of gathering information from the outside world or it's own body. Then the child is born and cared for. What would this 'person' be conscious of? Would it even have a sense of self?


Quote:Or to think about it another way consciousness is not a binary condition where you are either conscious or unconscious. Some people are more conscious than others.
Yes, consciousness is scalable. Suppose we took that isolated brain and started repairing those connections one-by-one? We could control the level of consciousness and the conscious experiences that person had.

Such a thought experiment would seem to disprove the existence of a soul and any possibility of a conscious afterlife.
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02-08-2014, 09:58 AM
RE: Best theory of consciousness?
(02-08-2014 05:01 AM)Chas Wrote:  
(01-08-2014 06:54 PM)avalon Wrote:  DLJ,
You might be interested in this:
http://www.science-of-consciousness.com/

A website from a real estate developer? Really? Facepalm

I don't judge a man's ideas by what he does to make a living. As I recall, science got some pretty good ideas from a patent clerk.
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02-08-2014, 10:10 AM
Re: RE: Best theory of consciousness?
(02-08-2014 09:58 AM)avalon Wrote:  
(02-08-2014 05:01 AM)Chas Wrote:  A website from a real estate developer? Really? Facepalm

I don't judge a man's ideas by what he does to make a living. As I recall, science got some pretty good ideas from a patent clerk.

There's a time and place ethos actually has merit. Choosing internet information definitely is one.

I wouldn't define something as a theory of consciousness.. Just scientific ideas on how/why consciousness works as it does.

"Allow there to be a spectrum in all that you see" - Neil Degrasse Tyson
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02-08-2014, 10:13 AM
RE: Best theory of consciousness?
(01-08-2014 07:27 PM)bobsyeruncle Wrote:  There is no complete theory of consciousness owing to the hard problem of defining "experience" and how it arises from the brain. The general scientific view, however, would be that the brain creates it; it's a function of the brain and not a separate entity.

Which leaves room for some scientists to claim that consciousness is a separate entity originating from an external source or that it can even exist apart from the brain. There is no proof of any of this, at best only a handful of scientific concepts that somehow suggest consciousness could be more complicated than something the brain could manage alone. There are no good links to be found tying everything together to support the claims. A lot of it is really just quantum woo.

And a quick look at Norman Stubbs' Science of Consciousness website appears to be a series of philosophical conjectures with "Science" solely in the website's name.

Science of Consciousness Wrote:Though I have explained this from several different angles for you, I know that it is still difficult to get. Remember that our minds are thinking machines. They are epistemologically structured. The idea that physics is the ultimate arbiter of all explanation is probably an axiomatic belief in your mind. You just have to chuck that perspective and start all over again with a new epistemological structure that includes both physical nature and functions as affecters of physical events.

To add to your confusion, the implication of the above argument is that function is not physical yet it can have an effect on physical events. This is very awkward when viewed from our current scientific perspective but I hope that I have made it evident that that perspective fails to be complete in explaining physical events. The difficulty here is that we have ‘caused’ effects without a cause, that can be described in terms of physics, or even described physically but only in terms of outcome in a context.

This wouldn’t be so bad if the physical stratum and the functional stratum operated separately but they don’t. They are interlocked at the level of physical forms so that the functional stratum has physical effects and the physical stratum has functional effects. There are both physical affecters and intangible affecters. They both exist as is demonstrated by their effects. We must stretch our idea of existing in the case of intangible affecters to something that has no physical existence, and even more difficult to grasp, to having no existence except as evidenced by its effects. From the perspective of current science these are certainly bazaar ontological complications. We need to rearrange the epistemological organization of our minds to cope.

http://www.science-of-consciousness.com/...ics%20.htm

Did anyone bother trying to follow all of this all of the way through? Facepalm

What Stubbs examines is how non-material things (like minds, functions, and relationships) can affect material things like brains.
A common strawman argument from theists goes something like this: 'Physics can't explain consciousness, therefore metaphysics'. But physics isn't the only tool for science. For example, suppose you're driving to work and pass a wreck where EMT's are tending the victim. If you see the victim is your spouse you'll stop, if it's a stranger you won't. What is it about a relationship, a non-physical, intangible thing, that causes changes in your brain to make you stop? Physics alone cannot address this, but the soft sciences, like psychology or sociology can. Likewise, an intangible thing like the mind can affect the physical brain, but this is still science and not metaphysics.
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02-08-2014, 10:30 AM
RE: Best theory of consciousness?
Quote:I wouldn't define something as a theory of consciousness.. Just scientific ideas on how/why consciousness works as it does.
Some scientists theorize that physics alone can explain consciousness and look to quantum physics. I think this is wrong. A better theory is one like Giulio Tononis'(psychiatrist and neuroscientist) :
"The integrated information theory (IIT) starts from phenomenology and makes use of thought experiments to claim that consciousness is integrated information. Specifically: (i) the quantity of consciousness corresponds to the amount of integrated information generated by a complex of elements; (ii) the quality of experience is specified by the set of informational relationships generated within that complex." (http://www.biolbull.org/content/215/3/216.full)

You'll note he addresses two intangible, non-physical things to explain consciousness: information and informational relationships. These have a physical basis because they're stored in the brain, but the things themselves are not physical. So physics alone cannot fully explain them.
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02-08-2014, 10:37 AM
RE: Best theory of consciousness?
(02-08-2014 09:58 AM)avalon Wrote:  
(02-08-2014 05:01 AM)Chas Wrote:  A website from a real estate developer? Really? Facepalm

I don't judge a man's ideas by what he does to make a living. As I recall, science got some pretty good ideas from a patent clerk.

He was a patent clerk while he was working on his PhD in Physics, and had already been published in the prestigious Annalen der Physik.

Please point me to the real estate developer's peer reviewed articles.

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Science is not a subject, but a method.
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02-08-2014, 11:04 AM
RE: Best theory of consciousness?
Whilst I am still studying for my clinical hypnotherapy diploma from what I understand, right now, is that the brain is divided into two parts with the left hemisphere generally handling logic and rationality and is the conscious part of "you" and the right hemisphere is the emotional, imaginative and unconscious side of you. In a battle between the two hemispheres the right, unconscious side will normally always come out on top.

Your unconscious does not know the difference between "right or wrong", it cannot process negatives and takes everything literally. It seeks out patterns of recognition (routines, habits etc) which it feels safe with and is constantly trying to protect you (fight or flight). It can be the domain of your emotions and it is there where they are created, although they are experienced in your conscious mind.

Your brain can not differentiate between reality and imagination.

I think that when we understand the placebo effect and the brains relationship with the autonomous nervous system then we will be a lot closer to understanding the brain and consciousness, as I feel we underestimate the role the rest of our body has on an organ, which in my eyes is just a rewrite-able hardrive.

I feel so much, and yet I feel nothing.
I am a rock, I am the sky, the birds and the trees and everything beyond.
I am the wind, in the fields in which I roar. I am the water, in which I drown.
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