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On Scientific American: Consciousness Goes Deeper Than You Think
#1
On Scientific American: Consciousness Goes Deeper Than You Think

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Quote:An article on the neuroscience of infant consciousness, which attracted some interest a few years ago, asked: “When does your baby become conscious?” The premise, of course, was that babies aren’t born conscious but, instead, develop consciousness at some point. (According to the article, it is about five months of age). Yet, it is hard to think that there is nothing it feels like to be a newborn.

Newborns clearly seem to experience their own bodies, environment, the presence of their parents, etcetera—albeit in an unreflective, present-oriented manner. And if it always feels like something to be a baby, then babies don’t become conscious. Instead, they are conscious from the get-go.

The problem is that, somewhat alarmingly, the word “consciousness” is often used in the literature as if it entailed or implied more than just the qualities of experience. Dijksterhuis and Nordgren, for instance, insistedthat “it is very important to realize that attention is the key to distinguish between unconscious thought and conscious thought. Conscious thought is thought with attention.” This implies that if a thought escapes attention, then it is unconscious. But is the mere lack of attention enough to assert that a mental process lacks the qualities of experience? Couldn’t a process that escapes the focus of attention still feel like something?

Consider your breathing right now: the sensation of air flowing through your nostrils, the movements of your diaphragm, etcetera. Were you not experiencing these sensations a moment ago, before I directed your attention to them? Or were you just unaware that you were experiencing them all along? By directing your attention to these sensations, did I make them conscious or did I simply cause you to experience the extra quality of knowing that the sensations were conscious?


Indeed, Jonathan Schooler has established a clear distinction between conscious and meta-conscious processes. Whereas both types entail the qualities of experience, meta-conscious processes also entail what he called re-representation. “Periodically attention is directed towards explicitly assessing the contents of experience. The resulting meta-consciousness involves an explicit re-representation of consciousness in which one interprets, describes or otherwise characterizes the state of one’s mind.


So where attention plays an important role is in re-representation; that is, the conscious knowledge of an experience, which underlies introspection. Subjects cannot report—not even to themselves—experiences that aren’t re-represented. Nothing, however, stops conscious experience from occurring without re-representation: Dreams, for instance, have been shown to lack re-representation, despite the undeniable fact they are experienced in consciousness. This gap between reportability and the contents of consciousness has motivated the emergence of so-called “no-report paradigms” in the modern neuroscience of consciousness.

Clearly, the assumption that consciousness is limited to re-represented mental contents under the focus of attention mistakenly conflates meta-consciousness with consciousness proper. Yet, this conflation is disturbingly widespread. Consider Axel Cleeremans’s words: “Awareness…always seems to minimally entail the ability of knowing thatone knows. This ability, after all, forms the basis for the verbal reports we take to be the most direct indication of awareness. And when we observe the absence of such ability to report on the knowledge involved in our decisions, we rightfully conclude the decision was based on unconscious knowledge.”
[url=https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/consciousness-goes-deeper-than-you-think/]
"Life is a pure flame, and we live by an invisible Sun within us."

  -Thomas Browne
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#2
(09-20-2017, 06:14 PM)Brian Wrote: Without having a physical cause of consciousness to examine, we have only the baby's behaviour to go by and as the baby responds to most external stimuli the same as anybody would it seems absurd to assume it isn't conscious.  Look into a new born baby's eyes and see how fascinated he is while watching you.

Totally agree. 

I would go further though: I think that everything is conscious to some degree. I'm even talking about totally inert objects (such as the Earth). Even further, I think that groups have consciousness. A town, a city, a country. I think all these things have some form of consciousness, or shared awareness. Even human-kind (which helps explain things like the GCP).
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#3
(09-20-2017, 07:10 PM)Brian Wrote: I've been thinking a lot about that lately and I'm beginning to shift towards that way of thinking too.

This is one of my points of departure with Tom Campbell. He says that only "high level" creatures have consciousnesses. 

People, monkeys, dogs,,,, of course. 
Ants? Of course not.
Dolphins? Of course. 
Trees? Of course not. 
Rocks? OF COURSE NOT!

It's completely arbitrary. Makes no sense to me.
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(09-20-2017, 07:23 PM)Brian Wrote: I tend to think the brain individualizes consciousness because its primary function seems to be to separate things and create boundaries.
Isn't that the primary function of the skin?
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(09-20-2017, 07:23 PM)Brian Wrote: From a materialist's perspective I can understand plants and rocks because they don't have a brain but all creatures must have some sort of consciousness.  In terms of individual consciousness I'm a little ambivalent when it comes to plants and I don't think minerals have it but I think they may share in universal consciousness.  I tend to think the brain individualizes consciousness because its primary function seems to be to separate things and create boundaries.

Hmm. Not sure sure if that's what the brain does. 

Are you familiar with the book "The Secret Life of Plants"? 

If not it is an interesting read. It's about the inventor of the polygraph and what he found when he connected it to plants and other things.

If you are unfamiliar,,, you would be VERY surprised. 

There is also a video which I haven't watched yet, which presumably covers the same material as the book. Very low res, from 1973. Might be worthwhile to watch,,, don't know yet.



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(09-20-2017, 07:14 PM)jkmac Wrote: This is one of my points of departure with Tom Campbell. He says that only "high level" creatures have consciousnesses. 

People, monkeys, dogs,,,, of course. 
Ants? Of course not.
Dolphins? Of course. 
Trees? Of course not. 
Rocks? OF COURSE NOT!

It's completely arbitrary. Makes no sense to me.

While I would say that consciousness is ubiquitous, I wouldn't say that all conscious experience equates to the human conscious experience. Humans seem to have a particularly highly tuned and focused form of consciousness which allows self-awareness and the sense of "I am". Trees might have a radically different form of awareness attuned to the environment they exist in and perhaps nothing like the awareness of time that humans have. 

I can't imagine how a rock might experience consciousness but perhaps, by putting the question the other way around, we might gain some insight: how does consciousness experience being a rock?
"I shall not commit the fashionable stupidity of regarding everything I cannot explain as a fraud.” ― C.G. Jung
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#7
(09-20-2017, 07:42 PM)Brian Wrote: I am familiar with the book and Lyall Watson has mentioned it I am sure.  Maybe in Supernature.  I have to admit the evidence is intriguing but being the incurable skeptic that I am I need more evidence before I will commit myself.

Bottom line is: if you buy into any of that stuff (which I do) you need to acknoledge that there is a lvel of consciousness in everything. 

Are you familiar with the frozen water experiments in Japan? 

Same thing shows up: signs of consciousness.
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#8
(09-20-2017, 08:34 PM)Kamarling Wrote: While I would say that consciousness is ubiquitous, I wouldn't say that all conscious experience equates to the human conscious experience. Humans seem to have a particularly highly tuned and focused form of consciousness which allows self-awareness and the sense of "I am". Trees might have a radically different form of awareness attuned to the environment they exist in and perhaps nothing like the awareness of time that humans have. 

I can't imagine how a rock might experience consciousness but perhaps, by putting the question the other way around, we might gain some insight: how does consciousness experience being a rock?

Of course one wouldn't expect the consciousness of a plant to equate to a human. 

First of all there's the whole difference in sense organs and nervous system.

But also the assumed difference in cognition.

So although there would certainly be a difference in the quality of conscious experience, it makes sense to me that in all things there is an aspect of consciousnesses. And as I've previously mentioned, it would explain a few things...
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#9
(09-21-2017, 06:06 AM)Brian Wrote: No but I would like to find out.

jkmac might be referring to the distant intention experiments on water crystal formation conducted by Dean Radin and Masaru Emoto in 2006:

http://www.deanradin.com/papers/emotoIIproof.pdf

I was one of the participants grading the sample photos in terms of "beauty" and "interest", and I have to say that the great majority of the nearly formless blobs I observed was neither beautiful nor interesting to me. I graded the blobs using ad hoc relative scales of beauty and interest loosely based on the amount and shape of crystalline structures evident in the photos.

It's very possible that I also graded blob photos in the pilot study, because Dean announced both studies, providing links to the photos, to members of the GotPsi Yahoo group to which I was an occasional contributor.
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(09-21-2017, 06:06 AM)Brian Wrote: No but I would like to find out.

Well, not surprisingly there are lots of detractors of the work. And maybe rightfully so. Controls were weak.
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