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Tired of illusions

 
nonverbal
 
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nonverbal
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23 December 2018 12:07
 
Antisocialdarwinist - 23 December 2018 11:35 AM
prismo - 22 December 2018 06:06 PM
Antisocialdarwinist - 21 December 2018 09:20 PM

consciousness is the process by which the model of reality and the model of self are constructed, whereas awareness is more of a state, and is limited to the model.

Thanks ASD!

You’re welcome. I’m glad you found it interesting. I recommend The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind. Jaynes’s bicameral mind theory is a little far fetched, maybe, but still intriguing. The best part of the book in my opinion is where he lays out exactly what he means by consciousness. He spends almost the first third of the book on that. I’d be interested to hear what you think if you decide to read it.

I’d suggest that when Jaynes refers to consciousness, what he actually refers to is human-style consciousness. Going by other authors’ descriptions, human-style consciousness is not the only kind found in the animal kingdom. It’s the only kind that can be directly observed by researchers, however.

 
 
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23 December 2018 12:54
 
nonverbal - 20 December 2018 12:11 PM
Antisocialdarwinist - 20 December 2018 09:46 AM

Consider the possibility that consciousness is not an adaptive trait, but a learned skill. The brain wasn’t “designed” (using that term as a loose descriptor of the process of Darwinian evolution) for consciousness. It was designed to be a supremely adaptive mechanism of non-aware stimulus-response. At some point, it became capable of consciousness, defined as the process by which a model of reality is constructed in the mind and the model of self that inhabits it. Human awareness is limited to the model constructed by the process of consciousness.

Our brains haven’t changed for a hundred thousand years, yet human behavior can be explained without resorting to consciousness up until fairly recently. So it’s possible that humans existed for ninety thousand years or more with brains capable of consciousness, but without learning to construct a model of reality, at least not on a wide scale. From that standpoint, “consciousness” can be seen as a kind of mental disorder, at least back when most humans didn’t experience it. It would have been abnormal.

That would explain all the flaws of consciousness. That’s not to say that consciousness doesn’t have its advantages, obviously, at least in the modern world. But it certainly has its flaws.

Yes. At this point in our cultural evolution (which is perhaps comparable to software), even minimal success for individuals hinges on, among other things, an ability to imagine what’s not literally in front of us. (Or behind us, or to the side, etc.!)

It seems indisputable that our recent prehistoric ancestors lacked the formidable ability to imagine much beyond what they were able to see, feel, taste/smell, or hear. Eighty-thousand years ago, a habitual hallucinator typically would perhaps not have survived into mating age. Nowadays, it’s actually necessary for a person to be able to execute what could be referred to as hallucination, but such “hallucination” needs to be entirely controlled, which makes it not at all a hallucination in a dictionary-approved way. Yet it’s an almost universal human trait and survival skill. Many of the primary cognitive ingredients of imagination are, it seems to me, what 100,000 years ago might have identified a person as a raving lunatic. Smart enough motherfuckers (in a literal sense) were of course fully able to find a way to procreate. Thank Goddard.

Arguing with myself for a moment (thanks to Burt’s inspiration), both motherfuckers and fatherfuckers were no doubt present on the cognitive-enhancement scene. Apologies for my blatant sexism!

 
 
Antisocialdarwinist
 
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23 December 2018 14:52
 
nonverbal - 23 December 2018 12:07 PM
Antisocialdarwinist - 23 December 2018 11:35 AM
prismo - 22 December 2018 06:06 PM
Antisocialdarwinist - 21 December 2018 09:20 PM

consciousness is the process by which the model of reality and the model of self are constructed, whereas awareness is more of a state, and is limited to the model.

Thanks ASD!

You’re welcome. I’m glad you found it interesting. I recommend The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind. Jaynes’s bicameral mind theory is a little far fetched, maybe, but still intriguing. The best part of the book in my opinion is where he lays out exactly what he means by consciousness. He spends almost the first third of the book on that. I’d be interested to hear what you think if you decide to read it.

I’d suggest that when Jaynes refers to consciousness, what he actually refers to is human-style consciousness. Going by other authors’ descriptions, human-style consciousness is not the only kind found in the animal kingdom. It’s the only kind that can be directly observed by researchers, however.

Isn’t that really just a matter of how one prefers to define consciousness? If there’s really “nothing that it is like” to be a bat—or a computer, or even to be under the influence of a general anesthetic—then what’s the point of defining it that way?

Of course, as you point out, we have no way to know if there’s “anything it is like” to be a bat. But doesn’t that beg the same question? What’s the point of defining consciousness around something that is unknowable? Is it merely to be able to claim that bats are “conscious,” whatever that means? Or is there more to it than that?

 
 
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23 December 2018 18:40
 
Antisocialdarwinist - 23 December 2018 02:52 PM

Isn’t that really just a matter of how one prefers to define consciousness? If there’s really “nothing that it is like” to be a bat—or a computer, or even to be under the influence of a general anesthetic—then what’s the point of defining it that way?

Of course, as you point out, we have no way to know if there’s “anything it is like” to be a bat. But doesn’t that beg the same question? What’s the point of defining consciousness around something that is unknowable? Is it merely to be able to claim that bats are “conscious,” whatever that means? Or is there more to it than that?

I don’t know what the point might be, but your words boldfaced below indicate that you might be inclined to mistreat animals if you felt you had a good reason to. Maybe you’ve never had a highly intelligent dog become a member of your family. If you were to experience living among such an animal, you might see things differently.

Antisocialdarwinist - 21 December 2018 09:20 PM

The hardest problem of consciousness seems to be reaching agreement on a definition. Nevertheless, I think most people have an intuitive sense of what they consider “conscious” vs. “subconscious” human behavior. For example, recognition is subconscious; recall is conscious. When you recognize something, it happens automatically. Recall requires the model of reality and the model of self. Thinking in terms of metaphors requires consciousness. Hitting a Ping-Pong ball is best done subconsciously, as is touch typing. Pulling your hand off a hot stove before you’re aware that the stove is hot, or even that you pulled your hand away, is subconscious. Etc.

Awareness and consciousness are almost synonymous. But—according to my favorite definition—consciousness is the process by which the model of reality and the model of self are constructed, whereas awareness is more of a state, and is limited to the model. So awareness implies consciousness and vice versa, but they’re not quite synonymous.

From that standpoint, if an animal is not conscious, it lacks the capacity to construct the model of reality and self and is therefore not aware of anything—awareness being limited to the model. In that case, it’s just responding to stimuli, almost like a computer responds to the stimulus of a key-press by displaying the corresponding letter on screen. So there is nothing it is like to be a non-conscious animal. It would be like living your entire life in that moment after you put your hand on a hot stove, before you’re aware the stove is hot and before you’re aware you pulled your hand away. Stimulus-response, without awareness of either.

 
 
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23 December 2018 19:47
 
nonverbal - 23 December 2018 06:40 PM
Antisocialdarwinist - 23 December 2018 02:52 PM

Isn’t that really just a matter of how one prefers to define consciousness? If there’s really “nothing that it is like” to be a bat—or a computer, or even to be under the influence of a general anesthetic—then what’s the point of defining it that way?

Of course, as you point out, we have no way to know if there’s “anything it is like” to be a bat. But doesn’t that beg the same question? What’s the point of defining consciousness around something that is unknowable? Is it merely to be able to claim that bats are “conscious,” whatever that means? Or is there more to it than that?

I don’t know what the point might be, but your words boldfaced below indicate that you might be inclined to mistreat animals if you felt you had a good reason to. Maybe you’ve never had a highly intelligent dog become a member of your family. If you were to experience living among such an animal, you might see things differently.

Antisocialdarwinist - 21 December 2018 09:20 PM

The hardest problem of consciousness seems to be reaching agreement on a definition. Nevertheless, I think most people have an intuitive sense of what they consider “conscious” vs. “subconscious” human behavior. For example, recognition is subconscious; recall is conscious. When you recognize something, it happens automatically. Recall requires the model of reality and the model of self. Thinking in terms of metaphors requires consciousness. Hitting a Ping-Pong ball is best done subconsciously, as is touch typing. Pulling your hand off a hot stove before you’re aware that the stove is hot, or even that you pulled your hand away, is subconscious. Etc.

Awareness and consciousness are almost synonymous. But—according to my favorite definition—consciousness is the process by which the model of reality and the model of self are constructed, whereas awareness is more of a state, and is limited to the model. So awareness implies consciousness and vice versa, but they’re not quite synonymous.

From that standpoint, if an animal is not conscious, it lacks the capacity to construct the model of reality and self and is therefore not aware of anything—awareness being limited to the model. In that case, it’s just responding to stimuli, almost like a computer responds to the stimulus of a key-press by displaying the corresponding letter on screen. So there is nothing it is like to be a non-conscious animal. It would be like living your entire life in that moment after you put your hand on a hot stove, before you’re aware the stove is hot and before you’re aware you pulled your hand away. Stimulus-response, without awareness of either.

It isn’t necessary to be conscious to be highly intelligent, at least not according to the definition of consciousness that I offered earlier. (Nor does consciousness imply “high intelligence.”) Depending what you mean by “intelligent,” of course. So the fact that your dog is highly intelligent doesn’t prove anything one way or the other.

 
 
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23 December 2018 19:52
 
nonverbal - 23 December 2018 06:40 PM

. . . your words boldfaced below indicate that you might be inclined to mistreat animals if you felt you had a good reason to.

It seems to me that if there’s a “good reason” to “mistreat” animals, then either the reason isn’t really good or the treatment isn’t really mistreatment. Can you provide an example of a good reason to mistreat animals?

 
 
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23 December 2018 20:09
 
Antisocialdarwinist - 23 December 2018 07:52 PM
nonverbal - 23 December 2018 06:40 PM

. . . your words boldfaced below indicate that you might be inclined to mistreat animals if you felt you had a good reason to.

It seems to me that if there’s a “good reason” to “mistreat” animals, then either the reason isn’t really good or the treatment isn’t really mistreatment. Can you provide an example of a good reason to mistreat animals?

Out of convenience, as with trapping a bear and letting it suffer for days to keep it from eating your food, rather than securing the food. Animals get treated horribly in many ways, such as with torturing experiments (if you wear a white coat, of course), and mistreatment by food producers.

 
 
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23 December 2018 20:48
 
nonverbal - 23 December 2018 08:09 PM
Antisocialdarwinist - 23 December 2018 07:52 PM
nonverbal - 23 December 2018 06:40 PM

. . . your words boldfaced below indicate that you might be inclined to mistreat animals if you felt you had a good reason to.

It seems to me that if there’s a “good reason” to “mistreat” animals, then either the reason isn’t really good or the treatment isn’t really mistreatment. Can you provide an example of a good reason to mistreat animals?

Out of convenience, as with trapping a bear and letting it suffer for days to keep it from eating your food, rather than securing the food. Animals get treated horribly in many ways, such as with torturing experiments (if you wear a white coat, of course), and mistreatment by food producers.

I disagree that not wanting a bear to eat your food is a “good reason” to cause the bear to suffer for days.

Medical experiments and food production—maybe, maybe not. It’s debatable. But I’m not in the medical experiments or food production businesses, so you can rest assured that I won’t be mistreating any animals for those reasons.

 
 
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23 December 2018 21:17
 
Antisocialdarwinist - 23 December 2018 08:48 PM
nonverbal - 23 December 2018 08:09 PM
Antisocialdarwinist - 23 December 2018 07:52 PM
nonverbal - 23 December 2018 06:40 PM

. . . your words boldfaced below indicate that you might be inclined to mistreat animals if you felt you had a good reason to.

It seems to me that if there’s a “good reason” to “mistreat” animals, then either the reason isn’t really good or the treatment isn’t really mistreatment. Can you provide an example of a good reason to mistreat animals?

Out of convenience, as with trapping a bear and letting it suffer for days to keep it from eating your food, rather than securing the food. Animals get treated horribly in many ways, such as with torturing experiments (if you wear a white coat, of course), and mistreatment by food producers.

I disagree that not wanting a bear to eat your food is a “good reason” to cause the bear to suffer for days.

Medical experiments and food production—maybe, maybe not. It’s debatable. But I’m not in the medical experiments or food production businesses, so you can rest assured that I won’t be mistreating any animals for those reasons.

Fine. I wouldn’t accuse you of torturing animals for fun. Do you see any value in holding ideas that represent actual reality rather than antiquated ideation such as what Descartes managed to conjure up due to his flawed philosophical meanderings?

To be able to believe that a dog with a broken paw is not really in pain when it whimpers is a quite extraordinary achievement even for a philosopher. Yet according to the standard interpretaion, this is just what Descartes did believe. He held, we are informed, the ‘monstrous’ thesis that ‘animals are without feeling or awareness of any kind’. The Standard view has been reiterated in a recent collection on animal rights, which casts Descartes as the villain of the piece for his alleged view that animals merely behave ‘as if they feel pain when they are, say, kicked or stabbed’. The basis for this widely accepted interpretation is Descartes’ famous doctrine of ‘animal machine’ (‘bête-machine’); a doctrine that one critic condemns as ‘a grim fortaste of a mechanically minded age’ which ‘brutally violates the old kindly fellowship of living things’.
https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/philosophy/article/brute-to-the-brutes-descartes-treatment-of-animals/D050D279B05CE10EBF23AB6A4BA41E7E

 
 
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24 December 2018 09:11
 
nonverbal - 23 December 2018 09:17 PM

Do you see any value in holding ideas that represent actual reality rather than antiquated ideation such as what Descartes managed to conjure up due to his flawed philosophical meanderings?

First, you say that as if you have some inside line on “actual reality” (as it pertains to animals’ experience) that no one else does. What makes you so sure that Descartes’s version of reality isn’t closer to “actual reality,” and that yours (“the old kindly fellowship of living things”) isn’t mere anthropomorphizing?

Second, to equate “without awareness” to “without pain” is silly. Obviously, animals experience pain. Their experience of it may be different than ours (and judging by their superior ability to tolerate it, it probably is), but—whether they’re aware of it or not—they still experience it.

 
 
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24 December 2018 10:13
 

ASD, I realize you’ve stipulated a particular definition for consciousness. I’m suggesting that it makes sense to see the word in its fullness of meaning, to avoid absurdity.

For instance, let’s say you have a dog that needs surgery, so you take it to a veterinary clinic where they perform the needed operation under general anesthesia. You’re sitting in the waiting room and finally the nurse approaches you and tells you that the surgery went well and that your dog is recovering, but still unconscious. Your response: “Tell me something I don’t already know.”

But I realize you wouldn’t say that other than perhaps in jest, since you understand that the word consciousness is used in ways that differ from your stipulation.

 
 
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24 December 2018 10:29
 
nonverbal - 24 December 2018 10:13 AM

ASD, I realize you’ve stipulated a particular definition for consciousness. I’m suggesting that it makes sense to see the word in its fullness of meaning, to avoid absurdity.

For instance, let’s say you have a dog that needs surgery, so you take it to a veterinary clinic where they perform the needed operation under general anesthesia. You’re sitting in the waiting room and finally the nurse approaches you and tells you that the surgery went well and that your dog is recovering, but still unconscious. Your response: “Tell me something I don’t already know.”

But I realize you wouldn’t say that other than perhaps in jest, since you understand that the word consciousness is used in ways that differ from your stipulation.

The word, “consciousness,” like lots of words, has different meanings in different contexts. I offered a definition that seemed apropos of the current discussion—not one for medical terminology.

 
 
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24 December 2018 10:39
 
Antisocialdarwinist - 24 December 2018 10:29 AM
nonverbal - 24 December 2018 10:13 AM

ASD, I realize you’ve stipulated a particular definition for consciousness. I’m suggesting that it makes sense to see the word in its fullness of meaning, to avoid absurdity.

For instance, let’s say you have a dog that needs surgery, so you take it to a veterinary clinic where they perform the needed operation under general anesthesia. You’re sitting in the waiting room and finally the nurse approaches you and tells you that the surgery went well and that your dog is recovering, but still unconscious. Your response: “Tell me something I don’t already know.”

But I realize you wouldn’t say that other than perhaps in jest, since you understand that the word consciousness is used in ways that differ from your stipulation.

The word, “consciousness,” like lots of words, has different meanings in different contexts. I offered a definition that seemed apropos of the current discussion—not one for medical terminology.

I’m not arguing with that point; just claiming that most people understand that animals are not automatons. If you’d like reading suggestions, let me know.

 
 
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24 December 2018 14:28
 
nonverbal - 24 December 2018 10:39 AM
Antisocialdarwinist - 24 December 2018 10:29 AM
nonverbal - 24 December 2018 10:13 AM

ASD, I realize you’ve stipulated a particular definition for consciousness. I’m suggesting that it makes sense to see the word in its fullness of meaning, to avoid absurdity.

For instance, let’s say you have a dog that needs surgery, so you take it to a veterinary clinic where they perform the needed operation under general anesthesia. You’re sitting in the waiting room and finally the nurse approaches you and tells you that the surgery went well and that your dog is recovering, but still unconscious. Your response: “Tell me something I don’t already know.”

But I realize you wouldn’t say that other than perhaps in jest, since you understand that the word consciousness is used in ways that differ from your stipulation.

The word, “consciousness,” like lots of words, has different meanings in different contexts. I offered a definition that seemed apropos of the current discussion—not one for medical terminology.

I’m not arguing with that point; just claiming that most people understand that animals are not automatons. If you’d like reading suggestions, let me know.

We live in a deterministic universe. That makes us all “automatons.” Consciousness doesn’t change that, it only creates the illusion that we’re not. “Most people” don’t understand that.

Merry Christmas!

 
 
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24 December 2018 16:13
 
Antisocialdarwinist - 24 December 2018 02:28 PM
nonverbal - 24 December 2018 10:39 AM
Antisocialdarwinist - 24 December 2018 10:29 AM
nonverbal - 24 December 2018 10:13 AM

ASD, I realize you’ve stipulated a particular definition for consciousness. I’m suggesting that it makes sense to see the word in its fullness of meaning, to avoid absurdity.

For instance, let’s say you have a dog that needs surgery, so you take it to a veterinary clinic where they perform the needed operation under general anesthesia. You’re sitting in the waiting room and finally the nurse approaches you and tells you that the surgery went well and that your dog is recovering, but still unconscious. Your response: “Tell me something I don’t already know.”

But I realize you wouldn’t say that other than perhaps in jest, since you understand that the word consciousness is used in ways that differ from your stipulation.

The word, “consciousness,” like lots of words, has different meanings in different contexts. I offered a definition that seemed apropos of the current discussion—not one for medical terminology.

I’m not arguing with that point; just claiming that most people understand that animals are not automatons. If you’d like reading suggestions, let me know.

We live in a deterministic universe. That makes us all “automatons.” Consciousness doesn’t change that, it only creates the illusion that we’re not. “Most people” don’t understand that.

Merry Christmas!

All of us beasts are on equal deterministic footing, then!

In case you’re interested in reality, take a look at Baboon Metaphysics some time, especially Chapters 8 and 9. Amazon lets you look at a few pages of each of those chapters, and others, too:
https://www.amazon.com/Baboon-Metaphysics-Evolution-Social-Mind/dp/0226102440/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1545679367&sr=1-1&keywords=baboon+metaphysics

 
 
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