Gees

Consciousness and Evolution

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Gees    23

Having read numerous threads in this forum and others regarding evolution, I have noted a general consensus of opinion that consciousness has absolutely nothing to do with evolution. I find this idea ridiculous and impossible to believe, as I have seen no evidence that suggests that consciousness and evolution are mutually exclusive.

What I have seen is evidence that consciousness evolves, life forms evolve, and all life forms are conscious. This would seem to indicate that consciousness and evolution are not mutually exclusive, but are in fact related. Possibly even interdependent.

If I have missed some important information, please tell me what it is.

Gee

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iNow    4502
8 minutes ago, Gees said:

If I have missed some important information, please tell me what it is.

You haven't defined consciousness.

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EdEarl    648
12 minutes ago, Daecon said:

They're not mutually exclusive, they're just unconnected.

Are you saying evolution does not affect consciousness?

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tar    235
39 minutes ago, Daecon said:

They're not mutually exclusive, they're just unconnected.

Daecon,

Unconnected?  I think  Gee is with me, or me with Gee, in understanding that consciousness of your environment is central to survival.  Therefore a living thing able to sense its environment and move within it, or manipulate it, or catch it and eat it, is more likely to survive, than one without this awareness.

Regards, TAR

 

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John Cuthber    3181

Consciousness may be caused by evolution- we are examples of where it has done this.

But consciousness is not needed to produce evolution- most species on the planet are evidence of this.

So, there's a connection, but only in one direction, and only sometimes.

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tar    235
3 hours ago, John Cuthber said:

Consciousness may be caused by evolution- we are examples of where it has done this.

But consciousness is not needed to produce evolution- most species on the planet are evidence of this.So, there's a connection, but only in one direction, and only sometimes.

John Cuthber,

One of the main consistent aspects of consciousness across our species and many many others, is sentience, and many many life forms, if not all are able to perceive or feel things.

https://animalcorner.co.uk/animals/trapdoor-spider/

 

The trapdoor that these spiders construct is difficult to see when it is closed because of the plant and soil materials that effectively camouflage it. The trapdoor is hinged on one side with silk. The spiders, who are usually nocturnal, typically wait for prey while holding onto the underside of the door with the claws on their tarsi (the cluster of bones in the foot between the tibia and fibula and the metatarsus). Prey is captured when insects or other arthropods venture too close to the half-open trapdoor at night. The spider detects the prey by vibrations and when it comes close enough, the spider jumps out of its burrow and captures it. Female Trapdoor spiders never travel far from their burrows.

Regards, TAR

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Ten oz    569

Natural selection selects for everything. I am not sure why you feel there is agreement it doesn't select for types of awareness? If it exists within life today it must have been selected for. 

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John Cuthber    3181
1 hour ago, tar said:

John Cuthber,

One of the main consistent aspects of consciousness across our species and many many others, is sentience, and many many life forms, if not all are able to perceive or feel things.

https://animalcorner.co.uk/animals/trapdoor-spider/

 

The trapdoor that these spiders construct is difficult to see when it is closed because of the plant and soil materials that effectively camouflage it. The trapdoor is hinged on one side with silk. The spiders, who are usually nocturnal, typically wait for prey while holding onto the underside of the door with the claws on their tarsi (the cluster of bones in the foot between the tibia and fibula and the metatarsus). Prey is captured when insects or other arthropods venture too close to the half-open trapdoor at night. The spider detects the prey by vibrations and when it comes close enough, the spider jumps out of its burrow and captures it. Female Trapdoor spiders never travel far from their burrows.

Regards, TAR

I know. I had thought about it when I said "But consciousness is not needed to produce evolution- most species on the planet are evidence of this".
And, unless you think bacteria have a consciousness (and, if you do, you are undermining the meaning of the word),  I'm right.

It is estimated that  bacterial species outnumber non-bacterial species by a huge factor- perhaps 10^13
https://coastalpathogens.wordpress.com/2014/05/16/how-many-species-of-bacteria-are-there/

 

Did you somehow think there were 10^19 species of trapdoor spider or something?

I don't see how they are relevant otherwise.

 

Your computer reacts when you press the buttons; is it conscious?

iNow hit the nail on the head earlier.

Without a sensible definition, we might end up discussing evolution in pop-up toasters.

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Ten oz    569
1 hour ago, tar said:

John Cuthber,

One of the main consistent aspects of consciousness across our species and many many others, is sentience, and many many life forms, if not all are able to perceive or feel things.

 

Many sentient animal feel things but there is a spectrum. Many animals appear to feel pain and  fear while feelings like regret and vainity is less abundent.

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Itoero    45
11 hours ago, Gees said:

Having read numerous threads in this forum and others regarding evolution, I have noted a general consensus of opinion that consciousness has absolutely nothing to do with evolution. I find this idea ridiculous and impossible to believe, as I have seen no evidence that suggests that consciousness and evolution are mutually exclusive.

What I have seen is evidence that consciousness evolves, life forms evolve, and all life forms are conscious. This would seem to indicate that consciousness and evolution are not mutually exclusive, but are in fact related. Possibly even interdependent.

If I have missed some important information, please tell me what it is.

Gee

Our consciousness is an evolutionary trait.

 

6 minutes ago, John Cuthber said:

Your computer reacts when you press the buttons; is it conscious?

In a sense...yes. We need food, water and air...a computer electricity. Our consciousness arises by the storing of knowledge and the way stored knowledge interacts. Their is a huge amount of knowledge stored in a computer which causes a computer to react correctly to its environment. A big difference is that new stored knowledge in a computer doesn't interact which prevents the consciousness of a computer to grow.

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tar    235
2 hours ago, John Cuthber said:

I know. I had thought about it when I said "But consciousness is not needed to produce evolution- most species on the planet are evidence of this".
And, unless you think bacteria have a consciousness (and, if you do, you are undermining the meaning of the word),  I'm right.

It is estimated that  bacterial species outnumber non-bacterial species by a huge factor- perhaps 10^13
https://coastalpathogens.wordpress.com/2014/05/16/how-many-species-of-bacteria-are-there/

 

Did you somehow think there were 10^19 species of trapdoor spider or something?

I don't see how they are relevant otherwise.

 

Your computer reacts when you press the buttons; is it conscious?

iNow hit the nail on the head earlier.

Without a sensible definition, we might end up discussing evolution in pop-up toasters.

John Cuthber,

You are right, iNow suggested we define consciousness, which we have not yet.

But bacteria respond to their environment in some fashion.  Go toward heat, or movement or away from surface tension, or toward or away from acid or base, or something, otherwise they would not know they reached a host or food source, and they would just squiggle around aimlessly. And if you want to play numbers games, perhaps we could count all the constituent living cells in a host against the number of bacterial species in the host.   Or just count an entire  group of species of bacteria with a certain level of consciousness as one.

And the computer also has analogous traits to a life form, in terms of input and output and memory.  Robots have been constructed that can follow a line.  The evolution of computers is also analogous to the evolution of life in that input, awareness of aspects of the world has evolved from punch cards to keyboards and voice recognition and cameras and other sensors, and memory and algorithms to process the input have advanced, and output in the way of monitors and stepper motors and hookups to belts and gears and such, have increased a computer's sentience as well as its ability to move and signal and manipulate the environment.

Gee is of the opinion that all life is conscious.  In stages and levels, with various traits and abilities that differ from species to species, but there is a core of sentience that anchors all life in that you have to be aware of the world in some sense to live in it.  Otherwise you are an inanimate object or mindless chemical.  A rock or an electron or a planet, just falling around, behaving like a mindless lump.

And to the thread title, consciousness of something allows a lump of chemicals to respond in a way beneficial to the lump's continuance.

Regards, TAR

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John Cuthber    3181

If I rivet together a strip of copper and a strip of steel, it will respond to the environment. It will bend if the temperature changes.

Many bacteria don't have the ability to move, though that might not be the only "response" on offer.

 

If Gee thinks all life is conscious (it's debatable; ask a plant)  then there's no way that evolution and consciousness are independent, since they both always happen in the same thing.

 

Where people take exception is saying that either " an organism consciously "wants" to evolve into something  with a longer neck (o whatever)" or that "evolution happens because some entity -usually God- consciously wants things to evolve."

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tar    235
1 hour ago, John Cuthber said:

Where people take exception is saying that either " an organism consciously "wants" to evolve into something  with a longer neck (o whatever)" or that "evolution happens because some entity -usually God- consciously wants things to evolve."

John Cuthber,

Oh, ok, I am having the wrong argument.

And I don't have an answer for that.

But I think it lies somewhere in between.  That is whatever fits with the world is what continues.  And there is evidence that an organism, a living organism, "wants" to survive.  That is it does the things required to live and to pass on its pattern.  And the pattern itself is rather smart.  That is, in the womb, nerve cells somehow know how to grow into a brain, with all the right synapses and connections.   The baby "wants" to grow a brain.  It is not accidental, there is a definite purpose in how the brain develops.

A jellyfish is perhaps the most evolved, as it can just continue its pattern by regenerating parts and pieces as required without having to pass the pattern on by having offspring.

So consciously "w?anting" something, is hard to put ones finger on.  Does an electron "want" to fall to a lower energy level?

Regards, TAR

Does the pop up toaster "want" to toast bread and pop it out, or does it really want to be a doctor?

 

Our use of tools is similar to the spider's trap. We extend ourselves into the environment.  Our microscopes and telescopes extensions of our eyes, our vibration sensors extensions of our ears, our spectroscopes extensions of our taste and smell, identifying the presence of elements and compounds.  Our computer networks extensions of our memories and brain networks.

Was at a butterfly garden the other day, and saw some insects that looked like dead, half eaten leaves.   How does that come about, without some awareness (on some level) of predators and their ways?

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John Cuthber    3181
2 hours ago, tar said:

Was at a butterfly garden the other day, and saw some insects that looked like dead, half eaten leaves.   How does that come about, without some awareness (on some level) of predators and their ways?

The ones whose ancestors didn't look like leaves and  got eaten  so they didn't leave descendent which, accordingly, aren't there.

No need for awareness on the insect's side. Just predators that eat insects they can see.

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Gees    23
18 hours ago, iNow said:

You haven't defined consciousness.

INow;

You make a reasonable point, so + vote for you.

People have many definitions for consciousness, as it is one of the most defined, and yet worst defined, terms that exist. The simple definition for consciousness is that it means awareness. What you are conscious of, you are aware of.

Problems arise when one tries to determine what a different life form is aware of, because awareness is subjective and not known to anyone but the subject. We can determine that other people are aware through language, because we can question them, but what of other species that we can not communicate with? The only way to determine the awareness of other species is to objectively observe them.

What we can observe in other life forms is that they will react to stimuli; specifically, they will eat to maintain themselves, grow, and reproduce or duplicate themselves in order to maintain their specie. This tells us that they are aware of the need to continue, that they have survival instincts, and that they are life forms. If they chose not to eat and reproduce, they would die and become extinct.

No one will argue that an earth worm has the same consciousness as you and I, but it does have some awareness, so a variety of terms have been used to try to explain different levels of consciousness. As I stated in my OP, consciousness evolves.

The simplest, and most basic, form of consciousness is sentience, which means that the life form has the ability to perceive, feel, or sense something in it's surroundings and react to it in some appropriate observable way. All life is sentient. This is not to be confused with sapient, which is more about intelligence, judgment, and wisdom. AI is sapient, but not necessarily sentient.

The most advanced form of consciousness is what we experience as humans, the ability to be conscious of our consciousness, or to be self aware. All other consciousness lies in levels and grades between sentience and self awareness.

This is a simplified explanation of consciousness, which will hopefully answer your questions. If you want further explanation, you can go to the on-line Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, but be prepared to read a LOT of information. (chuckle)

Gee

 

17 hours ago, Daecon said:

They're not mutually exclusive, they're just unconnected.

Daecon;

How is it that they are "unconnected"? Do you have examples or evidence of this?

Gee

 

13 hours ago, John Cuthber said:

Consciousness may be caused by evolution- we are examples of where it has done this.

But consciousness is not needed to produce evolution- most species on the planet are evidence of this.

So, there's a connection, but only in one direction, and only sometimes.

John Cuthber:

Human consciousness may be caused by evolution, but that does not tell us anything about the origin of consciousness.

If consciousness is not necessary for evolution, can you give me an example of a life form that evolved without consciousness?

I fail to see how you can state that it is in "one direction" as it seems to me to be interdependent. Do you have an example? Evidence?

Gee

 

7 hours ago, Itoero said:

Our consciousness is an evolutionary trait.

 

In a sense...yes. We need food, water and air...a computer electricity. Our consciousness arises by the storing of knowledge and the way stored knowledge interacts. Their is a huge amount of knowledge stored in a computer which causes a computer to react correctly to its environment. A big difference is that new stored knowledge in a computer doesn't interact which prevents the consciousness of a computer to grow.

Itoero;

I don't agree. It is my thought that if one removes consciousness from a person, they die. But if we remove electricity from a computer, it does not die, it just waits. So if we plug the computer back in, it becomes reincarnated!!!!! (chuckle)

Gee

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iNow    4502
36 minutes ago, Gees said:

What we can observe in other life forms is that they will react to stimuli; specifically, they will eat to maintain themselves, grow, and reproduce or duplicate themselves in order to maintain their specie. This tells us that they are aware of the need to continue, that they have survival instincts, and that they are life forms.

Except, basic atoms and molecules do those things, too. You appear to be describing chemistry, not consciousness.

36 minutes ago, Gees said:

The most advanced form of consciousness is what we experience as humans, the ability to be conscious of our consciousness, or to be self aware. All other consciousness lies in levels and grades between.

We don't have enough information to assert this with any confidence. Our dataset is extremely limited and I urge you to be much more cautious when thinking about arriving at this or similar conclusions. 

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Gees    23
6 hours ago, John Cuthber said:

If I rivet together a strip of copper and a strip of steel, it will respond to the environment. It will bend if the temperature changes.

Many bacteria don't have the ability to move, though that might not be the only "response" on offer.

John Cuthber;

And if I put a candle in the sun light, it will melt. 

 

Quote

If Gee thinks all life is conscious (it's debatable; ask a plant)  then there's no way that evolution and consciousness are independent, since they both always happen in the same thing.

Yes. They do. Sentience is the lowest form of consciousness, and all life is sentient, so all life is conscious. 

 

Quote

Where people take exception is saying that either " an organism consciously "wants" to evolve into something  with a longer neck (o whatever)" or that "evolution happens because some entity -usually God- consciously wants things to evolve."

 Well, let us leave the "God" ideas out of this thread. There is always the Religion forum for people who wish to discuss "God". I would like to stick to Science and Philosophy.

"Consciously 'wants' to evolve" as in thinking about evolving? No, of course not, thought can not affect the body and has no ability to change matter. On the other hand, emotion does affect the body. Most people dwell on the "thought", "knowledge", and "memory" part of our consciousness and forget that awareness, feeling and emotion are also part of our consciousness -- maybe the most important part.

Gee

 

13 minutes ago, iNow said:

Except, basic atoms and molecules do those things, too. You appear to be describing chemistry, not consciousness.

INow;

Except that I was not describing consciousness in that paragraph, I was describing life forms and how we know that they are life forms. If you are correct and basic atoms and molecules do the same things, then maybe the Gaia theory is correct and the entire planet is alive. Maybe the theories that state the Universe is alive are correct, or the "God" theories, but I am just going with accepted accredited knowledge.

If you have a question about what is designated as life forms, then I think you should take it to the experts in the Science section. I recommend Biology or the Medical Sciences.

 

Quote

We don't have enough information to assert this with any confidence. Our dataset is extremely limited and I urge you to be much more cautious when thinking about arriving at this or similar conclusions. 

OK. If you don't want to be conscious of your consciousness, or self aware, that is alright by me. But I am not giving up my consciousness, or denying it.

Are you arguing just to be arguing, or do you have some relevant point?

Gee

 

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iNow    4502

My point is mostly that consciousness is complex and it's a mistake to assume humans have the most advanced form, as if we're some pinnacle against which all others must be measured.

Maybe we are, but we don't know whether or not that's the case on our own planer, let alone our galaxy, local supercluster, or beyond  

Maybe the universe is conscious. I suspect in ways it MUST be since we're humans, we're part of what comprises the universe, and we're conscious. It all depends on the definition we arbitrarily select  

Its an interesting topic. I'm not being argumentative for its own sake, but will point out flaws and weaknesses in the positions of others when I encounter them. 

As for human consciousness, connections between the brain stem and the rostral dorsolateral pontine tegmentum seem crucial: https://futurism.com/harvard-may-have-pinpointed-the-source-of-human-consciousness/

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Ten oz    569

^^^Took humans hundreds of thousands of years to realize we aren't the center of the universe. I imagine it will take another hundred thousand to realize we aren't the pinnacle of life.

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John Cuthber    3181

I'm not happy with a definition of "consciousness" that doesn't distinguish a man who is unconscious from one who isn't.

7 hours ago, Gees said:

If consciousness is not necessary for evolution, can you give me an example of a life form that evolved without consciousness?

If the definition is that "it reacts to its surroundings", can you tell me anything that did anything without consciousness?

And if not, what use is the word?

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EdEarl    648
Quote

Wikipedia: Digital Physics

In physics and cosmology, digital physics (also referred to as digital ontology or digital philosophy) is a collection of theoretical perspectives based on the premise that the universe is describable by information. According to this theory, the universe can be conceived of as either the output of a deterministic or probabilistic computer program, a vast, digital computation device, or mathematically isomorphic to such a device.

As a young soldier, I worked on a Nike Missile site as a repairman. Among the things I repaired was an analog computer system that computed intercept trajectory from the position of a target and the missile based on radar data. All the information was encoded as hundreds of different voltages processed by circuits that summed voltages, integrated voltages over time, and differentiated changes in voltages over time. After graduation from the Army, I attended University and became an expert with a slide rule, an analog calculator that uses lengths as data, while I studied digital computers. Then, I learn of neural networks, both living and simulated, and learn another way to process data. 

The Universe may be simulated or "live." Cosmology has tracked the beginning and end of the Universe, within limits, knowing we see only ~5% of it all. Within that simulation are tiny sentient beings, looking out a the Universe, hoping to find other sentient beings. If the Universe is simulated, there exists a Turing equivalent machine running the simulation. If the Universe is "live," it must be a vast analog computer that is Turing equivalent. Yet, the Universe does not seem to be sentient; is it? What is sentience? Why can part of something be sentient without the whole also being so.

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Ten oz    569
5 hours ago, John Cuthber said:

I'm not happy with a definition of "consciousness" that doesn't distinguish a man who is unconscious from one who isn't.

If the definition is that "it reacts to its surroundings", can you tell me anything that did anything without consciousness?

And if not, what use is the word?

Eskimo's have 50 words for snow. To an extent I think we, people generally, associate was isn't known about our mind with the labal unconscious. As we attempt to understand our number of words for consciousness grow; pre-conscious, unconscious, subconscious, etc. As with the all the words for snow the labels we are using to describe a thing doesn't actually explain that thing scientifically.

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Itoero    45
12 hours ago, Gees said:

Itoero;

I don't agree. It is my thought that if one removes consciousness from a person, they die. But if we remove electricity from a computer, it does not die, it just waits. So if we plug the computer back in, it becomes reincarnated!!!!! (chuckle)

Gee

Consciousness arises from knowledge/information which is stored via connected neural pathways so by removing the consciousness you die, your body needs the information of connected neurons to function. If a computer has consciousness then it arises via everything that's connected via the motherboard.

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