Things I think about
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14-01-2012, 02:44 AM
Things I think about
When it comes to being a human being, I understand the evolutionary path that culminated into my existence. There are things however that I still have difficulties in understanding when it comes to my conscious perception of the world, my sub-conscious, my seemingly unconscious self and lastly the various levels of dream states that I experience on a nightly basis while asleep.

Our brains are a wondrous thing of beauty and complexity that have evolved over millions & millions of years.

- This will be me wondering out loud for a little bit, just throwing thoughts out into the ether. -

My first thought is why must I be aware ? Why do I need to be conscious ?
Maybe a better question is why did my earliest ancestors (as far back as we need to go) become conscious of the world and what does that mean for a rudimentary creature to to be aware of something ?

Let's take a small example of a neuron firing and sending a signal to a small collection of cells in a body and those cells react to that signal, responding by sending out other signals that will move the body either away or toward whatever caused that neuron to fire.

In a large group of somethings, those that had a neuron fire moved toward something and gained food and survived.
or
Those that had a neuron fire escaped from something that would have eaten them and they survived to live another day.

Is that reaction awareness ?

It's getting late. I'll have to continue this on another day when I can talk about the various unconscious states of dreaming, comas, etc

In the mean time, feel free comment.

Insanity - doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results
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14-01-2012, 10:57 AM
RE: Things I think about
With regards to consciousness and awareness, this could make a strong point for those debating for the existence of a supreme deity. Such arguments go along the lines of "the meaning of life and our existence" or "our emotions".

Consciousness is however most likely a product of natural selection .The combination of memory, cognition, input from senses is already present in many living organisms such as canines. We humans have an additional sense of selfhood, which with memory, cognition and input from senses creates our awareness. Each are important and greatly selected for under selection pressures our ancestors faced.

Dreams are, from what I know, projections from the subconscious. Some say dreams reflect your innermost desires, some say dreams reflect your personality, while some say dreams are a combination of what we see in real life. In my opinion, it is a combination of various factors such as but not limited to those mentioned that gives us varied dreamscapes.
(There's a thread on Dreams in which you can take a glimpse on the different dreams people may have Tongue)

Welcome to science. You're gonna like it here - Phil Plait

Have you ever tried taking a comfort blanket away from a small child? - DLJ
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14-01-2012, 11:51 AM
RE: Things I think about
I think consciousness and awareness certainly feed into the human survival mechanism. The more those attributes developed in early humans, the more pronounced the evolutionary progress. At least, that is my opinion -I've put forth no effort to research this. However...
It seems my favorite hobby while doing something natural and possibly even mundane, is to wonder: who was the first person to think of doing this? How did some early human think initially of doing this thing -how did someone come up with this? And why?

True story:
I used to have a window in an office that looked out over an empty parking lot. I would watch birds in very few surrounding trees, but few birds would find anything to make them hang around the hot part of the day -no food, little or no water. And bothersome humans in cars would be showing up soon, so they would all leave... except one. He was a big black bird -a Raven, I think - a real scavenger bird.
He would show up every day at a particular time, hang out with a few of the other birds for a bit and then they would leave, but he would stay. It was the hottest part of the day and I suspect the other birds were off to find water. Within ten or fifteen minutes, the lot would start filling up with cars because the industry next door would start it's first shift at 3:00pm, so it was around 2:45pm. At 3:05 when all the people were inside the building, my beautiful, black Raven would methodically go along the front of each vehicle and eat the dead bugs off the grill! Genius!!
I love this bird!
Heart To wonder. Consciousness and awareness - the simple act of wondering - to ponder. It is an amazing feat for a synapse to spark between thought and action. Genius.

I think in the end, I just feel like I'm a secular person who has a skeptical eye toward any extraordinary claim, carefully examining any extraordinary evidence before jumping to conclusions. ~ Eric ~ My friend ... who figured it out.
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14-01-2012, 12:20 PM
RE: Things I think about
(14-01-2012 11:51 AM)kim Wrote:  True story:
I used to have a window in an office that looked out over an empty parking lot. I would watch birds in very few surrounding trees, but few birds would find anything to make them hang around the hot part of the day -no food, little or no water. And bothersome humans in cars would be showing up soon, so they would all leave... except one. He was a big black bird -a Raven, I think - a real scavenger bird.
He would show up every day at a particular time, hang out with a few of the other birds for a bit and then they would leave, but he would stay. It was the hottest part of the day and I suspect the other birds were off to find water. Within ten or fifteen minutes, the lot would start filling up with cars because the industry next door would start it's first shift at 3:00pm, so it was around 2:45pm. At 3:05 when all the people were inside the building, my beautiful, black Raven would methodically go along the front of each vehicle and eat the dead bugs off the grill! Genius!!
I love this bird!
Heart To wonder. Consciousness and awareness - the simple act of wondering - to ponder. It is an amazing feat for a synapse to spark between thought and action. Genius.

Now that is a cool bird story! I love that.
I see that as survival of the smartest as opposed to survival of the fittest.
Using cognition to find better solutions.
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19-01-2012, 09:34 PM
RE: Things I think about
Any of you seen that video of the dog pulling another dog off the highway that was struck by a car, attempting to save it's life?
It is on YouTube. This proves morals aren't from religion and shows us the level of understanding atleast in that dog. Most mammals probably have a deeper level of consciousness than previously that.
Elephants, chimps and maybe more animals mourn their dead family members. Videos of that too.
So that tells us that they understand death somewhat. This kinda of makes me want to be a vegan, but eating animals is part of our evolution. Maybe I can find some really tasty dumb one to eat instead of the ones with a higher level of consciousness.
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27-01-2012, 12:37 AM
RE: Things I think about
I gather what we are talking about here is sentient animals evolving into a sapient species. I love the bird story kim and I think it could be argued that all animals are perceiving and thinking or sentient creatures. I'm thinking of a time when my grandmothers hens got out from their coup and commenced to laying eggs through out the woods in the back of her land. It was the morning after when she realized what had happen and we set about searching for as many of the eggs that we could find. Our search seemed futile as the eggs were well hidden and we soon gave up. As we were walking back onto the porch my grandmothers favorite yard dog, Katya (a miniature pinscher I think), nudged my grandmothers leg giving her an egg that was in her mouth. The dog immediately ran off and quickly came back with another egg! We thought this was amazing as Katya led us back into the woods to probably every place that the eggs could be found. It was amazing because it seemed that the dog acted on it's own intuition without provocation. Katya was just a smart dog!

Obviously dogs can be trained to sniff out anything but I would describe this as an example of a sentient display by a dog that figured out what we were doing and decided to help. A simple act of thought and reason, maybe? I'll never really know because I couldn't ask the dog and it could never tell me. Therein lies the difference between sentient and sapient. The act of sharing and spreading wisdom through high levels of communication. Not to belabor the obvious here but I guess it's what sets us apart. Surely the written word has been the most exponential factor in increasing human intelligence throughout the ages.

But Rahn127 asked:
Quote:why did my earliest ancestors (as far back as we need to go) become conscious of the world and what does that mean for a rudimentary creature to to be aware of something ?

I've thought of that too. I've also wondered when did we start to eat food that was heated or cooked by flame and why? Are there any other animals that do this? I can't think of any. Could that have been the "quantum leap" that propelled us into a higher level of things? Is being aware simply being more sapient of the knowledge passed down from generation to generation?

Oh, and dreams- I've often thought of dreams being the effect of the minds processing and filing stored information in the brain. Maybe like a nightly defragging of thought storage to put into place what things correlate with. Such as smell associated experiences and visual cues that remind us of similar things. Have you ever caught a whiff of a scent or oder that brought back a past memory? I think the brain stashes that stuff away by determining what to associate it with while we sleep. When I was young I had this recurring nightmare of people with potatoes for eyes. It used to really freak me out! Perhaps I'd overheard my mother say something about potatoes eyes while cooking and I wouldn't have had a clue what it was about or cared that much being too young to inquire. At some point the nightmares stopped. Maybe after I learned what potato eyes were and what to associate it with, I dunno?

That's one thought. The other is that dreams are the time when our sympathetic and para-sympathetic nervous systems are crossing over each other in a way. I mean when you're young and still growing, you grow mostly when you sleep. Your body is pretty active and there's gotta be parts of the brain that is aware of this but has little or no sensory ways of thinking about it so, it associates stored data with reactions to what the body is going through. The same could be said for pancreas or liver function when you get older. Obviously all of our internal organs churn away without us thinking about it but is our brain aware of them functioning? If you think that's all nonsense think about the first time you ever had a nocturnal emission. Angel LOL!!!

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27-01-2012, 02:20 AM (This post was last modified: 27-01-2012 02:25 AM by houseofcantor.)
RE: Things I think about
(19-01-2012 09:34 PM)Jasrace Wrote:  Any of you seen that video of the dog pulling another dog off the highway that was struck by a car, attempting to save it's life?
It is on YouTube. This proves morals aren't from religion and shows us the level of understanding atleast in that dog. Most mammals probably have a deeper level of consciousness than previously that.
Elephants, chimps and maybe more animals mourn their dead family members. Videos of that too.
So that tells us that they understand death somewhat. This kinda of makes me want to be a vegan, but eating animals is part of our evolution. Maybe I can find some really tasty dumb one to eat instead of the ones with a higher level of consciousness.

Humans co-opted dogs back in the day. Now, they tend to be more humane. Big Grin

I'm quite convinced that morality is a form of chemical intelligence; science seems unwilling to commit at this time. Religion's just a mental tailbone.
As for why, I heard it was forward bipedal locomotion. Good enough for me. Takes processing power to get up and running; all this yapping is down time. Big Grin

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30-01-2012, 01:27 AM (This post was last modified: 30-01-2012 02:04 AM by GirlyMan.)
RE: Things I think about
(27-01-2012 02:20 AM)houseofcantor Wrote:  I'm quite convinced that morality is a form of chemical intelligence; science seems unwilling to commit at this time. Religion's just a mental tailbone.

nice, worth archiving. Wink

I am us and we is me. ... bitches.
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