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#113- Consciousness and the Self A Conversation with Anil K. Seth

 
LadyJane
 
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LadyJane
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12 January 2018 06:30
 
ubique13 - 12 January 2018 06:11 AM
LadyJane - 12 January 2018 06:03 AM

Easy there, Sunshine, save a little something for the second act.

I have. My delusions are still in tact (and all mine).

Your frenetically paced bleak and depressing posts are interrupted only by your other hopelessly bleak and depressing posts.  I understand it’s not easy learning when your hair keeps tangling and confusing matters, but still, pump the brakes.

 
 
ubique13
 
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ubique13
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12 January 2018 07:30
 
LadyJane - 12 January 2018 06:30 AM
ubique13 - 12 January 2018 06:11 AM
LadyJane - 12 January 2018 06:03 AM

Easy there, Sunshine, save a little something for the second act.

I have. My delusions are still in tact (and all mine).

Your frenetically paced bleak and depressing posts are interrupted only by your other hopelessly bleak and depressing posts.  I understand it’s not easy learning when your hair keeps tangling and confusing matters, but still, pump the brakes.

Thanks for the input. Good talk. Enjoy your optimism for as long as your perpetual pretense allows.

 
 
LadyJane
 
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LadyJane
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12 January 2018 07:49
 
ubique13 - 12 January 2018 07:30 AM
LadyJane - 12 January 2018 06:30 AM
ubique13 - 12 January 2018 06:11 AM
LadyJane - 12 January 2018 06:03 AM

Easy there, Sunshine, save a little something for the second act.

I have. My delusions are still in tact (and all mine).

Your frenetically paced bleak and depressing posts are interrupted only by your other hopelessly bleak and depressing posts.  I understand it’s not easy learning when your hair keeps tangling and confusing matters, but still, pump the brakes.

Thanks for the input. Good talk. Enjoy your optimism for as long as your perpetual pretense allows.

The interest in this thread stems from an excellent podcast that addresses a variety of issues.  Mr. Seth worked with Mr Edelman.  Mr. Edelman worked with Mr. Tononi which is why Integrated Information Theory arose.  This can be easily researched for anyone interested and has been discussed at this very forum in the past.  The connections are there for the making.

 
 
Antisocialdarwinist
 
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Antisocialdarwinist
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12 January 2018 09:03
 
Tahiti67 - 12 January 2018 01:03 AM
Antisocialdarwinist - 11 January 2018 09:30 AM
Tahiti67 - 11 January 2018 07:25 AM

In terms of memory, there are two kinds: recall and recognition. Recall is conscious (again, according to my favorite definition). Recognition is subconscious. Close your eyes and try to recall everything on your desk; unless you have a very clean desk, you probably won’t be able to recall half of what’s there. But open your eyes and you’ll recognize everything—unless someone placed something new there, in which case you’ll recognize it as new.

Thanks. But in an earthworm with no brain like mine, how can evolution work so fast to train them to come to light in order to eat. Is brain then not necessary for memory for them (worms) but memory is in any cell? I’m a scientist dummy, jargon slows me, so l like and appreciate your simple answers, thanks!

I don’t know enough about earthworms to answer your question intelligently, but I don’t think that evolution is responsible for training them to come to light in order to eat. Probably an association is formed between light and food, kind of like the association Pavlov’s dogs formed between the sound of a bell and food. You can certainly define “consciousness” such that the formation of this association constitutes consciousness, but according to my favorite definition (“the process by which a model of reality is constructed in the mind”) consciousness is not necessary to form the association. It’s just a matter of repeatedly exposing the worms to light and food.

I was unclear. Evolution has trained them to not come into the light. The lab tests broke that very quickly. Pavlov’s dog much easier to understand because it’s larger than an earthworm.  If they killed the dog though, would its puppies exhibit the same behaviour? I doubt it. Association thus is just memory? As in human memory that learns by repetition and experience until something is instinct/intuition (driving, typing, don’t put your hand on the stove).  If so then a worm through forming an association might still be conscious to a degree. Even if it is only to the fact that it knows it must eat to survive. But then a tree takes in water and light to shed and grow new leaves, no consciousness or association there we say.

Maybe a silly question, but in all the discussion about consciousness, where does memory fit in? Is is just taken to be an integral part of consciousness?
In one of Anil’s link to an essay the writer describes consciousness as being like the ‘weather’. 

How do you define an intangible process when all we experience are its results, and we know sensory input can be faulty? Wouldn’t the line between where a ‘being’, that has created a model of reality by association, begins acting or reacting to it, be where consciousness begins? Where the effect of the association becomes the cause of action. Consciousness could be the force that holds the holes of a water sponge together, only the lowest level of it, and there are just thousands of layers of consciousness, but we can only be aware of the ones we possess. How do you explain how a Venus trap plant knows how to catch insects? Or how a bee knows it must collect pollen.

Like I said, we can define consciousness any way we like. I’m not claiming that “mine”—the process by which a model of reality is constructed in the mind—is the “right” one. What I object to is claiming that this or that animal or plant or thing is “conscious” without a definition of “conscious.” It’s like saying that building a border wall will make America “great.” Without a definition of “great,” it’s just a subjective value statement. “My dog is conscious” amounts to, “My dog is great.”

With that in mind, according to the “model of reality” definition of consciousness, memory fits in in two distinct ways: recall and recognition. Recall requires the model, so requires consciousness and takes time and effort. Recognition is “subconscious.” It happens spontaneously. We humans obviously have the capacity for both.  You can easily “see” the difference for yourself by trying the aforementioned close-your-eyes-and-try-to-recall-everything-on-your-desk exercise.

I won’t embarrass myself by claiming to know how worms form associations, but I’m guessing the process is probably similar to the one for dogs and humans. The repeated coincidence of a bell ringing and the presence of food causes the brain cells that recognize the bell (recognition being the subconscious aspect of memory) to become synaptically connected to the brain cells that cause the dogs to salivate. It’s a process called Hebbian learning. The more times this happens, the stronger that connection becomes until eventually, the dogs salivate at the sound of the bell even when no food is present. “Association” is a combination of recognition and Hebbian learning. The dog recognizes the sound of the bell—the stimulus—which triggers salivation—the response. In the worms’ case, the stimulus is light, the response is to crawl toward it.

The fact that the worm’s innate response to light is to crawl away from it means that its “brain” has enough plasticity to disconnect the “light-recognition neurons” from the “crawl away neurons” and connect them to the “crawl toward neurons.” Which is actually pretty surprising to me. A Venus fly trap is hardwired to “recognize” when a fly lands on it (the stimulus) and close its jaws (the response). I doubt it’s possible for a Venus flytrap to undo or change that connection. Same for bees: they come hardwired from the factory to collect pollen. Humans come hardwired from the factory to pull away from burning hot surfaces.

The salient point is that consciousness (again, the model-of-reality definition) is not necessary to form the bell-salivate or the light-crawl toward associations.

If I understand heredity correctly, these synaptic connections would not be passed down to the dogs’ descendants any more than a broken leg would be.

Why does the essay say that consciousness is like the weather?

I don’t know how the model is created—I think that’s probably one of the central mysteries of consciousness—but it’s not necessarily a function of association. If I understand the research, it seems to be a function of the prefrontal cortex, which is the part of the brain that is most connected to all the other parts of the brain. It probably assembles the model from inputs from all over.

I agree that defining a process that we don’t fully understand is tricky. That’s why there’s so much disagreement over it. But we have to start somewhere, and the model-of-reality definition seems like a good starting point. Based on what we know so far, and on our own subjective experience, it “fits.” I’m sure you can distinguish between things you do “consciously” and things you do “subconsciously.” Constructing an analogy or a metaphor, for example (“The fresh snow is like a blanket”) requires the model: you have to recall the thing you’re likening something to (a blanket in this case) while observing the something (the snow). You’re aware of both the snow and the recollection of the blanket. Touch-typing, on the other hand, does not require the model: you can do it without even being aware of what your fingers are doing.

 
 
ubique13
 
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ubique13
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12 January 2018 09:33
 
Antisocialdarwinist - 12 January 2018 09:03 AM
Tahiti67 - 12 January 2018 01:03 AM
Antisocialdarwinist - 11 January 2018 09:30 AM
Tahiti67 - 11 January 2018 07:25 AM

In terms of memory, there are two kinds: recall and recognition. Recall is conscious (again, according to my favorite definition). Recognition is subconscious. Close your eyes and try to recall everything on your desk; unless you have a very clean desk, you probably won’t be able to recall half of what’s there. But open your eyes and you’ll recognize everything—unless someone placed something new there, in which case you’ll recognize it as new.

Thanks. But in an earthworm with no brain like mine, how can evolution work so fast to train them to come to light in order to eat. Is brain then not necessary for memory for them (worms) but memory is in any cell? I’m a scientist dummy, jargon slows me, so l like and appreciate your simple answers, thanks!

I don’t know enough about earthworms to answer your question intelligently, but I don’t think that evolution is responsible for training them to come to light in order to eat. Probably an association is formed between light and food, kind of like the association Pavlov’s dogs formed between the sound of a bell and food. You can certainly define “consciousness” such that the formation of this association constitutes consciousness, but according to my favorite definition (“the process by which a model of reality is constructed in the mind”) consciousness is not necessary to form the association. It’s just a matter of repeatedly exposing the worms to light and food.

I was unclear. Evolution has trained them to not come into the light. The lab tests broke that very quickly. Pavlov’s dog much easier to understand because it’s larger than an earthworm.  If they killed the dog though, would its puppies exhibit the same behaviour? I doubt it. Association thus is just memory? As in human memory that learns by repetition and experience until something is instinct/intuition (driving, typing, don’t put your hand on the stove).  If so then a worm through forming an association might still be conscious to a degree. Even if it is only to the fact that it knows it must eat to survive. But then a tree takes in water and light to shed and grow new leaves, no consciousness or association there we say.

Maybe a silly question, but in all the discussion about consciousness, where does memory fit in? Is is just taken to be an integral part of consciousness?
In one of Anil’s link to an essay the writer describes consciousness as being like the ‘weather’. 

How do you define an intangible process when all we experience are its results, and we know sensory input can be faulty? Wouldn’t the line between where a ‘being’, that has created a model of reality by association, begins acting or reacting to it, be where consciousness begins? Where the effect of the association becomes the cause of action. Consciousness could be the force that holds the holes of a water sponge together, only the lowest level of it, and there are just thousands of layers of consciousness, but we can only be aware of the ones we possess. How do you explain how a Venus trap plant knows how to catch insects? Or how a bee knows it must collect pollen.

Like I said, we can define consciousness any way we like. I’m not claiming that “mine”—the process by which a model of reality is constructed in the mind—is the “right” one. What I object to is claiming that this or that animal or plant or thing is “conscious” without a definition of “conscious.” It’s like saying that building a border wall will make America “great.” Without a definition of “great,” it’s just a subjective value statement. “My dog is conscious” amounts to, “My dog is great.”

With that in mind, according to the “model of reality” definition of consciousness, memory fits in in two distinct ways: recall and recognition. Recall requires the model, so requires consciousness and takes time and effort. Recognition is “subconscious.” It happens spontaneously. We humans obviously have the capacity for both.  You can easily “see” the difference for yourself by trying the aforementioned close-your-eyes-and-try-to-recall-everything-on-your-desk exercise.

I won’t embarrass myself by claiming to know how worms form associations, but I’m guessing the process is probably similar to the one for dogs and humans. The repeated coincidence of a bell ringing and the presence of food causes the brain cells that recognize the bell (recognition being the subconscious aspect of memory) to become synaptically connected to the brain cells that cause the dogs to salivate. It’s a process called Hebbian learning. The more times this happens, the stronger that connection becomes until eventually, the dogs salivate at the sound of the bell even when no food is present. “Association” is a combination of recognition and Hebbian learning. The dog recognizes the sound of the bell—the stimulus—which triggers salivation—the response. In the worms’ case, the stimulus is light, the response is to crawl toward it.

The fact that the worm’s innate response to light is to crawl away from it means that its “brain” has enough plasticity to disconnect the “light-recognition neurons” from the “crawl away neurons” and connect them to the “crawl toward neurons.” Which is actually pretty surprising to me. A Venus fly trap is hardwired to “recognize” when a fly lands on it (the stimulus) and close its jaws (the response). I doubt it’s possible for a Venus flytrap to undo or change that connection. Same for bees: they come hardwired from the factory to collect pollen. Humans come hardwired from the factory to pull away from burning hot surfaces.

The salient point is that consciousness (again, the model-of-reality definition) is not necessary to form the bell-salivate or the light-crawl toward associations.

If I understand heredity correctly, these synaptic connections would not be passed down to the dogs’ descendants any more than a broken leg would be.

Why does the essay say that consciousness is like the weather?

I don’t know how the model is created—I think that’s probably one of the central mysteries of consciousness—but it’s not necessarily a function of association. If I understand the research, it seems to be a function of the prefrontal cortex, which is the part of the brain that is most connected to all the other parts of the brain. It probably assembles the model from inputs from all over.

I agree that defining a process that we don’t fully understand is tricky. That’s why there’s so much disagreement over it. But we have to start somewhere, and the model-of-reality definition seems like a good starting point. Based on what we know so far, and on our own subjective experience, it “fits.” I’m sure you can distinguish between things you do “consciously” and things you do “subconsciously.” Constructing an analogy or a metaphor, for example (“The fresh snow is like a blanket”) requires the model: you have to recall the thing you’re likening something to (a blanket in this case) while observing the something (the snow). You’re aware of both the snow and the recollection of the blanket. Touch-typing, on the other hand, does not require the model: you can do it without even being aware of what your fingers are doing.

Obviously I must have no idea what I’m talking about if I say something that exposes someone’s fragile comprehension of what “consciousness” might be.

Anthropocentrism is a concept which may warrant further examination.

 
 
LadyJane
 
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LadyJane
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12 January 2018 09:59
 

I still think burt’s take is a great place to start.

I think there are four levels: not aware at all; aware but not self-aware; self-aware (as in mirror test); and reflective self-aware. The distinction in the last two is between being able to say “that’s me” seeing a reflection in a mirror, and being able to ask “who am I?”

If dogs were self aware then Pitbull bans would be unconstitutional and German Shepherds would be war criminals.

 
 
ubique13
 
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ubique13
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12 January 2018 10:18
 
LadyJane - 12 January 2018 09:59 AM

I still think burt’s take is a great place to start.

I think there are four levels: not aware at all; aware but not self-aware; self-aware (as in mirror test); and reflective self-aware. The distinction in the last two is between being able to say “that’s me” seeing a reflection in a mirror, and being able to ask “who am I?”

If dogs were self aware then Pitbull bans would be unconstitutional and German Shepherds would be war criminals.

If dogs and cats could have babies with each other then there would be peace on earth. What purpose does this sort of hypothetical game serve?

The mirror test could theoretically be used as a standard to measure some aspect of consciousness, except it doesn’t account for differences in visual acuity. And almost every breed of dog has been linebred over so many generations that they are essentially as enamored with incest as the typical ‘Game of Thrones’ fan.

 
 
Antisocialdarwinist
 
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12 January 2018 10:21
 
ubique13 - 12 January 2018 09:33 AM

I must have no idea what I’m talking about if I say something that exposes someone’s fragile comprehension of what “consciousness” might be.

Anthropocentrism is a concept which may warrant further examination.

You’re clearly unable or unwilling to perceive consciousness as anything more than a subjective value claim, so let me try to argue from that standpoint. Suppose I could convince you that consciousness—according to the model-of-reality definition—was not “good,” but “bad.” Integral to the model of reality is the delusion of “self”—the root of all our selfish behavior and the very thing that will inevitably bring about our extinction and possibly the destruction of the entire planet. Much ado has been made over the danger of self-aware AI; why shouldn’t we see self-aware humans in the same vein?

Labeling something as “conscious” is to imply that it is possessed by this self-delusion. Still a subjective value claim, but a claim of undesirability rather than desirability. To say that Fido is not conscious is therefore not to say that he is “beneath” humans, but “above” them, a kind of noble savage un-possessed by selfishness and greed.

If you were convinced of that, would you find the model-of-reality definition of consciousness more compelling?

 
 
Gamril
 
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Gamril
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12 January 2018 10:49
 
Antisocialdarwinist - 12 January 2018 10:21 AM
ubique13 - 12 January 2018 09:33 AM

I must have no idea what I’m talking about if I say something that exposes someone’s fragile comprehension of what “consciousness” might be.

Anthropocentrism is a concept which may warrant further examination.

You’re clearly unable or unwilling to perceive consciousness as anything more than a subjective value claim, so let me try to argue from that standpoint. Suppose I could convince you that consciousness—according to the model-of-reality definition—was not “good,” but “bad.” Integral to the model of reality is the delusion of “self”—the root of all our selfish behavior and the very thing that will inevitably bring about our extinction and possibly the destruction of the entire planet. Much ado has been made over the danger of self-aware AI; why shouldn’t we see self-aware humans in the same vein?

Labeling something as “conscious” is to imply that it is possessed by this self-delusion. Still a subjective value claim, but a claim of undesirability rather than desirability. To say that Fido is not conscious is therefore not to say that he is “beneath” humans, but “above” them, a kind of noble savage un-possessed by selfishness and greed.

If you were convinced of that, would you find the model-of-reality definition of consciousness more compelling?

Speaking for myself, I’m not placing any value on consciousness at all.  I’m all for your proposed definition of consciousness, except that I’m not sure how you test it on organisms who you can’t communicate with…

[ Edited: 12 January 2018 10:54 by Gamril]
 
ubique13
 
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ubique13
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12 January 2018 11:13
 
Antisocialdarwinist - 12 January 2018 10:21 AM
ubique13 - 12 January 2018 09:33 AM

I must have no idea what I’m talking about if I say something that exposes someone’s fragile comprehension of what “consciousness” might be.

Anthropocentrism is a concept which may warrant further examination.

You’re clearly unable or unwilling to perceive consciousness as anything more than a subjective value claim, so let me try to argue from that standpoint. Suppose I could convince you that consciousness—according to the model-of-reality definition—was not “good,” but “bad.” Integral to the model of reality is the delusion of “self”—the root of all our selfish behavior and the very thing that will inevitably bring about our extinction and possibly the destruction of the entire planet. Much ado has been made over the danger of self-aware AI; why shouldn’t we see self-aware humans in the same vein?

Labeling something as “conscious” is to imply that it is possessed by this self-delusion. Still a subjective value claim, but a claim of undesirability rather than desirability. To say that Fido is not conscious is therefore not to say that he is “beneath” humans, but “above” them, a kind of noble savage un-possessed by selfishness and greed.

If you were convinced of that, would you find the model-of-reality definition of consciousness more compelling?

What I am able to perceive is completely subjective, just like everyone else (as far as any of us are aware?). The notion that someone could be talked into believing that their own ability to reason is a bad thing is completely absurd, even though it could probably be done with relative ease. If there were something which suggested to me that humankind had the magical origins that most religion pretends, then yeah, I suppose I would find an argument which placed humanity at the center of the living universe a bit more compelling.

 
 
Antisocialdarwinist
 
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Antisocialdarwinist
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12 January 2018 11:57
 
Gamril - 12 January 2018 10:49 AM
Antisocialdarwinist - 12 January 2018 10:21 AM
ubique13 - 12 January 2018 09:33 AM

I must have no idea what I’m talking about if I say something that exposes someone’s fragile comprehension of what “consciousness” might be.

Anthropocentrism is a concept which may warrant further examination.

You’re clearly unable or unwilling to perceive consciousness as anything more than a subjective value claim, so let me try to argue from that standpoint. Suppose I could convince you that consciousness—according to the model-of-reality definition—was not “good,” but “bad.” Integral to the model of reality is the delusion of “self”—the root of all our selfish behavior and the very thing that will inevitably bring about our extinction and possibly the destruction of the entire planet. Much ado has been made over the danger of self-aware AI; why shouldn’t we see self-aware humans in the same vein?

Labeling something as “conscious” is to imply that it is possessed by this self-delusion. Still a subjective value claim, but a claim of undesirability rather than desirability. To say that Fido is not conscious is therefore not to say that he is “beneath” humans, but “above” them, a kind of noble savage un-possessed by selfishness and greed.

If you were convinced of that, would you find the model-of-reality definition of consciousness more compelling?

Speaking for myself, I’m not placing any value on consciousness at all.  I’m all for your proposed definition of consciousness, except that I’m not sure how you test it on organisms who you can’t communicate with…

Yes, I agree: it’s impossible to say for sure what’s going on in the minds of non-human animals. I have my reasons for not believing that dogs are conscious (again, according to the model-of-reality definition), but I won’t claim to know it. Nor do I think that treating consciousness as a value claim adds anything to our understanding of it.

Whether this or that non-human animal is conscious, however, is neither here nor there. The more interesting part of defining consciousness as the process by which a model of reality is constructed in the mind is what follows from it as pertains to human animals, since we can communicate with them, or some of them. A surprising amount of our behavior is subconscious. We spend most of our day unaware of whatever activity we’re currently engaged in while the model, which constitutes what we are aware of, goes wool-gathering. If you’ve ever tried to be “mindful” for any length of time, this starts to become apparent. But even then, it’s just scratching the surface. Trying to notice everything you do that you’re unaware of is like trying to use a flashlight to find the dark corners of a room.

 
 
Antisocialdarwinist
 
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12 January 2018 12:09
 
ubique13 - 12 January 2018 11:13 AM
Antisocialdarwinist - 12 January 2018 10:21 AM
ubique13 - 12 January 2018 09:33 AM

I must have no idea what I’m talking about if I say something that exposes someone’s fragile comprehension of what “consciousness” might be.

Anthropocentrism is a concept which may warrant further examination.

You’re clearly unable or unwilling to perceive consciousness as anything more than a subjective value claim, so let me try to argue from that standpoint. Suppose I could convince you that consciousness—according to the model-of-reality definition—was not “good,” but “bad.” Integral to the model of reality is the delusion of “self”—the root of all our selfish behavior and the very thing that will inevitably bring about our extinction and possibly the destruction of the entire planet. Much ado has been made over the danger of self-aware AI; why shouldn’t we see self-aware humans in the same vein?

Labeling something as “conscious” is to imply that it is possessed by this self-delusion. Still a subjective value claim, but a claim of undesirability rather than desirability. To say that Fido is not conscious is therefore not to say that he is “beneath” humans, but “above” them, a kind of noble savage un-possessed by selfishness and greed.

If you were convinced of that, would you find the model-of-reality definition of consciousness more compelling?

What I am able to perceive is completely subjective, just like everyone else (as far as any of us are aware?). The notion that someone could be talked into believing that their own ability to reason is a bad thing is completely absurd, even though it could probably be done with relative ease. If there were something which suggested to me that humankind had the magical origins that most religion pretends, then yeah, I suppose I would find an argument which placed humanity at the center of the living universe a bit more compelling.

Consciousness (again, the model-of-reality definition) is not necessary for reason, although I suppose it depends on how you’re defining “reason.” Given your reluctance to define the things you’re pontificating about, you probably haven’t defined it. But I’ll bet you know it when you see it!

 
 
EN
 
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EN
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12 January 2018 12:25
 

On burt’s scale I would put dogs under the “aware” column, but not “self-aware”.  In animals, I think maybe chimps, parrots, and maybe dolphins are approaching some level of self-awareness. For me, consciousness is “awareness”.  Yes, there is a model of reality, but the critical point is that the model is registered in our brain - it is an experience.  We are aware of the model.  Self-awareness takes us into “this is MY model of reality.” I don’t think dogs have that, but they have some model (perhaps based more on smell while ours is based more on sight and the higher mental functions), but they don’t really have a concept of “I”.  IMHO.

 
feignedcynic
 
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feignedcynic
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13 January 2018 09:13
 
Antisocialdarwinist - 11 January 2018 02:09 PM
ubique13 - 11 January 2018 11:48 AM

Any ‘living’ organism which actively responds to external stimuli, procreates, and possesses an innate capacity for self-preservation is probably what I would consider having consciousness in its most basic form(s).

So in other words, you know it when you see it, even if you can’t define it. Kind of like pornography?

Ubique’s statement is certainly possible. In order for it to be an “act” I would assume you believe in some form of creator. Based on your name I would not. That is confusing to me. Either way, neither can be confirmed nor denied. From an Atheist perspective this statement makes complete sense. Being Agnostic, I lean towards Ubique’s statement as well. There are also a number of possibilities that would result in humans not being on the top of the food chain. That would open many people’s perspective for consciousness in smaller organisms.

Even just being more in touch with nature might open many people’s eyes. Being placed in the jungle with nothing but a knife for defense, you may start noticing the beauty and immediate danger of plants and animals reacting to your every step, making it harder disregard consciousness even in plants. When everything seems out to get you, that is when I would like a definition. Not safe from everything in your home.

[ Edited: 13 January 2018 09:21 by feignedcynic]
 
Antisocialdarwinist
 
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Antisocialdarwinist
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13 January 2018 10:20
 
feignedcynic - 13 January 2018 09:13 AM
Antisocialdarwinist - 11 January 2018 02:09 PM
ubique13 - 11 January 2018 11:48 AM

Any ‘living’ organism which actively responds to external stimuli, procreates, and possesses an innate capacity for self-preservation is probably what I would consider having consciousness in its most basic form(s).

So in other words, you know it when you see it, even if you can’t define it. Kind of like pornography?

Ubique’s statement is certainly possible. In order for it to be an “act” I would assume you believe in some form of creator. Based on your name I would not. That is confusing to me. Either way, neither can be confirmed nor denied. From an Atheist perspective this statement makes complete sense. Being Agnostic, I lean towards Ubique’s statement as well. There are also a number of possibilities that would result in humans not being on the top of the food chain. That would open many people’s perspective for consciousness in smaller organisms.

Even just being more in touch with nature might open many people’s eyes. Being placed in the jungle with nothing but a knife for defense, you may start noticing the beauty and immediate danger of plants and animals reacting to your every step, making it harder disregard consciousness even in plants. When everything seems out to get you, that is when I would like a definition. Not safe from everything in your home.

Suppose you asked me, “What is an internal combustion engine?” and I replied, “Automobiles that run on gasoline have internal combustion engines.” Would you understand what an internal combustion engine was? Or would that be tantamount to my saying, “I don’t know what an internal combustion engine is, but I know it when I see one.”

The challenge is not to state your intuitive sense about which things possess consciousness, but to translate your intuitive sense into a definition.

 
 
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