Essentia Science of Consciousness Panel

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Quote:Closing the first day of the 2021 ‘The Science of Consciousness’ conference, dr. Bernardo Kastrup, Prof. dr. Heleen Slagter, Dr. Steve Taylor and Prof. dr. Henk Barendregt take questions and debate.
'Historically, we may regard materialism as a system of dogma set up to combat orthodox dogma...Accordingly we find that, as ancient orthodoxies disintegrate, materialism more and more gives way to scepticism.'

- Bertrand Russell


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That was really interesting and my own position developed a bit in nuance as a result of listening to it.  My position now is that consciousness is not the result of physical processes but only exists when there is something to be conscious of and therefore, in a physical world, requires a brain.  In another (theoretical) type of reality it would require another type of interface to take in information.  If  NDE and OOBE  experiences can be taken as literal excursions, (and I have no wish to debate this because of how certain and defensive some people seem to be) then there would have to be a portable interface of some sort that isn't a physical brain but is still somehow capable of taking in physical information.
(This post was last modified: 2022-02-11, 12:26 PM by Brian. Edited 1 time in total.)
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(2022-02-11, 12:19 PM)Brian Wrote: That was really interesting and my own position developed a bit in nuance as a result of listening to it.  My position now is that consciousness is not the result of physical processes but only exists when there is something to be conscious of and therefore, in a physical world, requires a brain.  In another (theoretical) type of reality it would require another type of interface to take in information.  If  NDE and OOBE  experiences can be taken as literal excursions, (and I have no wish to debate this because of how certain and defensive some people seem to be) then there would have to be a portable interface of some sort that isn't a physical brain but is still somehow capable of taking in physical information.

An interesting observation. It does indeed seem as if there must be some immaterial form or vehicle of consciousness analogous to the physical body in the physical world, for the immaterial soul to manifest in when inhabiting whatever level or realm of spiritual existence. It turns out that Theosophy developed an elaborate theory of this involving several spiritual levels of existence with different "bodies" or "garments" of a nature appropriate for each level.

According to Annie Besant and C. W. Leadbeater (leading Theosophist thinkers and investigators), these "subtle bodies" exist in a complicated arrangement as follows:

The Etheric Double is the subtle counterpart of the physical body.
The Emotional body, also called "Astral body by them, is the vehicle for the emotions, both the lower or karmic, and the higher emotions.
The Māyāvi-Rūpa is a subtle body which is artificially created through the power of thought.
The Mental body is the vehicle of the lower mind, built with matter from the four lower subplanes of the mental plane.
The Causal body is the vehicle of the Ego, and is made of matter from the three higher subplanes of the mental plane.

From https://www.encyclopedia.com/science/enc...-theosophy:


Quote:"According to the teachings of Theosophy, deriving in part from esoteric Hinduism, the universe is divided into seven planes. Beginning with the one closest to God, they are referred to as the divine, adi; monadic, anutadaka; spiritual, nirvana; intuitional, buddhi; mental, manas; astral, kama; and physical, sthula. These worlds are not physically separate in the manner that planets appear to be, but interpenetrate, and their differences depend on the relative density of the matter that composes them and the consequent difference in the rates at which the matter of each world vibrates.

Except for the physical world (the densest), our knowledge of them, so far as it extends, is dependent on clairvoyance. The more exalted the vision of the clairvoyant, the higher the world his or her vision can pierce. Each world has its appropriate inhabitants, clothed in appropriate bodies, and possessing appropriate states of consciousness.

According to theosophical belief, the two highest worlds, the divine and the monadic, are at present incapable of attainment by human powers, and the remaining five are attainable in greater or lesser degree. The monad (soul), for the purpose of gathering experience, finds it necessary to pass downward into the material sphere. When it has taken possession of the spiritual, intuitional, and higher mental worlds, it may be looked on as a soul embodying will, intuition, and intellect, continuing eternally the same entity, never altering except by reason of increasing development, and hence being immortal.

These worlds, however, do not afford sufficient scope to the monad and it presses still further down into matter, through the lower mental, and into the astral and physical worlds. The bodies with which it is there clothed form its personality and this personality suffers death and is renewed at each fresh incarnation, a process generally called reincarnation. At the death of the physical body, the ego has merely cast aside a garment and continues to live in the next higher world, the astral.

At the death of the astral body another garment is cast aside, the ego is cleared of all appendages and is as it was before its descent into denser matter, having returned to the mental, the heavenly world. The ego finds itself somewhat strange in this situation, owing to insufficient development, and it again descends into matter as before. This round is completed again and again, and each time the ego returns with a fresh store of experience and knowledge, which strengthens and perfects the mental body.

When at last this process is complete, this body in turn is cast aside and the ego is clothed with its causal body. Again it finds itself strange and the cycle of descent into matter begins again and continues until the causal body has been fully developed. The two remaining worlds are imperfectly known, but the intuitional, as its name indicates, is that where the ego's vision is quickened to see things as they really are, and in the spiritual world the divine and the human become unified and the divine purpose is fulfilled."
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(2022-02-11, 12:19 PM)Brian Wrote: That was really interesting and my own position developed a bit in nuance as a result of listening to it.  My position now is that consciousness is not the result of physical processes but only exists when there is something to be conscious of and therefore, in a physical world, requires a brain.  In another (theoretical) type of reality it would require another type of interface to take in information.  If  NDE and OOBE  experiences can be taken as literal excursions, (and I have no wish to debate this because of how certain and defensive some people seem to be) then there would have to be a portable interface of some sort that isn't a physical brain but is still somehow capable of taking in physical information.

Shouldn't we endeavour to make this a forum where people feel free to discuss their views freely - and are respected for doing so - otherwise, what is it for?

Surely we aren't in some sort of religious cult in which some views are considered heretical?

From what I have read, OBEs can be take place in the physical world, or in something that is a slightly modified version of the physical world - almost suggesting that there are many variants of the realm we occupy. However, I have never had an OBE or NDE.

I don't see any obvious reason why a purely mental realm should not exist, indeed some places - such as these forums - approximate something of this sort. None of us have a face, or a tone of voice, or posessions.

David
(This post was last modified: 2022-02-15, 10:28 AM by David001. Edited 1 time in total.)
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(2022-02-15, 10:24 AM)David001 Wrote: Shouldn't we endeavour to make this a forum where people feel free to discuss their views freely - and are respected for doing so - otherwise, what is it for?

Surely we aren't in some sort of religious cult in which some views are considered heretical?

From what I have read, OBEs can be take place in the physical world, or in something that is a slightly modified version of the physical world - almost suggesting that there are many variants of the realm we occupy. However, I have never had an OBE or NDE.

I don't see any obvious reason why a purely mental realm should not exist, indeed some places - such as these forums - approximate something of this sort. None of us have a face, or a tone of voice, or posessions.

David

I have no wish to put down other peoples views but I don't feel fee to discuss certain things because of other people's sense of certainty about what the evidence suggests and the way they instantly dismiss evidence to the contrary.  If we could stick objectively looking at the evidence instead of bringing beliefs into it we could easily find common ground and have interesting discussions, otherwise I could just dismiss much of what appears on this forum solely on Biblical grounds.  I said when I first joined Skeptiko that I had no wish to be preachy concerning my faith but because of so much anti-christianity, I ended up engaging in christian apologetics.  There might not be any obvious reason why a mental realm doesn't exist but there is no obvious reason why it should either.  It just depends upon which evidence one prefers to give credence to.  As long as we use maybe a lot instead of certainties, I have no objection to anybody's views as long as they are equally respectful of mine.
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I'm not supporting any particular view here. However, the main interest of this forum is in the science and research in various topics. This is an ever-changing field, as fresh research and new evidence comes to light. It isn't in any way fixed. Of course as individuals we all have our own preferred point of view.

Not causing offence and respecting one another is one thing. However it isn't really possible to have a serious discussion without from time to time questioning everything. That does include religious belief which is also open to question. I don't think there's any way round that.

However I do think we can all coexist. There is a saying, 'There is more than one path up the mountain'. Something I've learned from my own experience is that sometimes mutually exclusive views can both be right. Perhaps we've all experienced the break up of a married couple where we are a friend to both parties. I've found myself acting as a sounding board or even a shoulder to cry on for both sides in such a situation. So even though I recognise that each view is valid and correct, there is not going to be any way to reconcile the two partners who are each on their own path. I've experienced that from the inside too, where I've been one half of such a situation, and for a while was convinced that I was right and the other wrong, eventually, though there was no reconciliation and we went our separate ways, I understood that the other person's perspective was right too, and they were justified in considering me to be in the wrong. That did not mean my own position was invalid, I still considered myself to have been correct as well.

This is the world we live in. Because we don't have perfect communication, we always have a limited fragment of the picture. It is unrealistic to proceed on the basis that there is only one truth. The phrase "we can't all be right" is sometimes used. I learned, through hard and painful personal experience that there are times when everyone is indeed right.
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(2022-02-15, 11:34 AM)Brian Wrote: I have no wish to put down other peoples views but I don't feel fee to discuss certain things because of other people's sense of certainty about what the evidence suggests and the way they instantly dismiss evidence to the contrary.  If we could stick objectively looking at the evidence instead of bringing beliefs into it we could easily find common ground and have interesting discussions, otherwise I could just dismiss much of what appears on this forum solely on Biblical grounds.  I said when I first joined Skeptiko that I had no wish to be preachy concerning my faith but because of so much anti-christianity, I ended up engaging in christian apologetics.  There might not be any obvious reason why a mental realm doesn't exist but there is no obvious reason why it should either.  It just depends upon which evidence one prefers to give credence to.  As long as we use maybe a lot instead of certainties, I have no objection to anybody's views as long as they are equally respectful of mine.

Well, of course this isn't Skeptiko, and I hope we can avoid the mistakes that Alex has made.

I mean if you have a Christian faith, why not say so - after all you would be joined by Rupert Sheldrake, no less!

My feeling by now is that there is obviously a mental realm - the main question is what happens in that realm and how it relates to the physical realm - Idealism being one distinct possibility.

I suspect many Christians do not believe a lot of the Bible, and 're-interpreting' is a form of not believing!
(2022-02-15, 10:24 AM)David001 Wrote: From what I have read, OBEs can be take place in the physical world, or in something that is a slightly modified version of the physical world - almost suggesting that there are many variants of the realm we occupy. However, I have never had an OBE or NDE.

I don't see any obvious reason why a purely mental realm should not exist, indeed some places - such as these forums - approximate something of this sort. None of us have a face, or a tone of voice, or possessions.

David
Realm -as a term - kinda implies feudal times, with kings and nobles.  The science term - environment - brings with it ideas of ecology and homeostasis from feedback channels.  I would sincerely ask for help...................

Physical environments run based on math models of materials and forces.  right????

Mental activity runs based on the math and logic models of meaning and signs. (is this still new?)  Why isn't mind seen as defined and framed within an environment of information?   It seems so simple!   What am I missing?
(This post was last modified: 2022-02-15, 02:23 PM by stephenw. Edited 2 times in total.)
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(2022-02-15, 02:21 PM)stephenw Wrote: Mental activity runs based on the math and logic models of meaning and signs. (is this still new?)  Why isn't mind seen as defined and framed within an environment of information?   It seems so simple!   What am I missing?

Missing: emotion, feeling, awareness, experience, being ...
(This post was last modified: 2022-02-15, 02:48 PM by Typoz. Edited 1 time in total.)
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(2022-02-15, 02:21 PM)stephenw Wrote: Mental activity runs based on the math and logic models of meaning and signs. (is this still new?)  Why isn't mind seen as defined and framed within an environment of information?   It seems so simple!   What am I missing?
The fact that you are talking circularly. You can't say that mental activity is based on meaning and signs, because both these depend on mental activity.

Information requires mental activity to understand it, so it too can't be used to explain mental activity.

David
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