Gees

Consciousness and Evolution

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tar    235

Area54.

You have the highest horse.

And you are missing the point.   

In a discussion such as this, the answer is not already existent.  

That is the point of the discussion.

Regards, TAR

 

Socratic method, also known as maieutics, method of elenchus, elenctic method, or Socratic debate, is named after the classical Greek philosopher Socrates. Elenchus is a form of cooperative argumentative dialogue between individuals, based on asking and answering questions to stimulate critical thinking and to draw out ideas and underlying presumptions.

Area54,

 

You want Gee to give you the answer.  I want to, together, arrive at it.

TAR

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Gees    23
8 hours ago, Area54 said:

Many people in this thread have been frustrated by your unwillingness or inability to define which of the many definitions of consciousness you wish to use. If I have understood you correctly you believe the term may be applied to everything between the biochemical reactions of a unicellular organism, up to the self awareness of a human. In this you are supported by many philosophers and branches of philosophy, although not all would be in agreement with each other. The discussion then comes down to one of semantics.

Until you have given and continue to give precise definitions of consciousness as you are using it at that moment you will obfuscate your message rather than expound it. You have been told this multiple times  by multiple members, but instead of taking this on board you have retreated into the "I am a knowlegeable philosopher and you are Phillistines" approach. Now that, to use your own terminology,  is shit!

So, if you wish your discussion to advance I recommend that you come of your high horse, recognise the valid objections of other members and offer clarity of statement and a well defined thesis. That shouldn't be difficult for someone well versed in philosophy.

Area54;

A little clarity is a wonderful thing. I have been repeatedly asked for a definition of consciousness, and I have repeatedly given a definition of consciousness, so I could not understand the problem. It was the last line of your post that provided clarity. You don't want a definition of consciousness, you want my "thesis" or theory of consciousness.  I thought I made that clear, but could be wrong, so I will review the thread and be back in a few hours.

Gee

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Area54    103
11 hours ago, Gees said:

Area54;

A little clarity is a wonderful thing. I have been repeatedly asked for a definition of consciousness, and I have repeatedly given a definition of consciousness, so I could not understand the problem. It was the last line of your post that provided clarity. You don't want a definition of consciousness, you want my "thesis" or theory of consciousness.  I thought I made that clear, but could be wrong, so I will review the thread and be back in a few hours.

Gee

I agree. A lot of clarity is even better.  I have been unclear.

I do not wish, at this stage, to read your theory of consciousness. (I can see that my phrase "well defined thesis" was poorly chosen.) I simply wish you to clearly agree to, disagree with or edit the following statements:

  • Consciousness has multiple levels.
  • Tthe simplest of these levels is present in prokaryotes and is, in essence, a suite of reactions to their environments.
  • The more advanced levels, that we are aware of, are reached by creatures such as humans, cetaceans etc.
  • There are other "levels", or "phases", or "stages" between these two.
  • Different "levels", or "phases", or "stages" may be present in an organism at different times, under different conditions and at different points in its life cycle.
  • Unfortunately all these levels/phases/stages are considered by one or more authorities to be consciousness.
  • This lack of granularity causes confusion, misunderstanding, derailment of arguments, etc.

In view of the foregoing, and in particular the last point, for the love of whatever deity you choose not to believe in would you please be very specific about which consciousness you are talking about in each post, or in each part of a post. Had you done so from the outset we would all have lived happier lives over the past couple of weeks.

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tar    235

Area54,

I am sorry about your unhappy weeks,  but your lack of clarity as to what is being discussed is not automatically shared by all in the discussion.  We each have separate questions and problems with various aspects of the discussion and the complexity of the interaction of these ideas is exactly why I attend these threads.  To learn something, to share insights, to figure out what must be true and what can not be true.

I would have to add, that my understanding of ideas includes a certain understanding of the MO that various posters come to the discussion exuding. (theory of mind) 

There are other, unsettled issues that we each have, other needs we have to complete a thought, or further prove a pet idea, or share a favorite insight or ability or piece of knowledge.

But, to my pet idea of dopamine being one of the mechanisms at the base of consciousness and evolution, it is important to a society, a collection of humans, a hive, a school of fish, or a giant Oak, to have some communication, and agreement between the parts.   That is, we like, as humans to get it right, to be in agreement on an idea, to hold workable, fitting ideas in our heads, of how the rest of the place is operating. That is, we feel good when we are right, correct, get the joke, solve the problem.

So dopamine must be a part of our evolution, in the sense that we needed a "reason" to live, to maintain our body/brain/heart group on a day to day basis, and to "want" to have children and see them thrive.   We have to get some pleasure out of seeing other people live, be happy, succeed, so we can make the right moves to sustain their lives, along with our own.

So mechanisms of societal consciousness, like you wanting to cut to the chase and harness the energy and ideas of the  group in a focused fashion, are mechanisms that evolved in us, and must have neural correlates.   That is, it makes you feel good, if I am a better writer and Gees gets to the point, and your summation is correct, because then we all have a workable, agreed on idea in our heads, and then can together take the next step toward understanding our world, and how to continue doing whatever it is we do, when we live as conscious humans.

It follows that things like mirror neurons, and Saxe's junction, and iNow's  brain stem base, and my dopamine,  and Freud's ego, superego and id, each play a role, in the interconnected interplay between a conscious human and her society.

We feel good when we have a good discussion

Back to a point that I think we still have the need for further discussion on.  Gee, in her OP, and later, suggested that all people did not feel consciousness was a "thing" in and of itself, in the way that life is a thing.  

These various positions one can take regarding consciousness, are not complexities to my mind, but rather the thread question.    

For instance, did human consciousness exist before the first word was spoken and understood, or did the communication define the emergence of human consciousness?

Regards, TAR

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Gees    23

Area54;

I apologize for taking so long to get back to you. It took me a lot longer than I expected to review all eight pages, then I had to eat and was tired. It was probably too ambitious of me to try to start my own thread knowing that MS makes me tire easily and limits the number of posts that I can accomplish in a day -- and even limits which days I can post.

Because consciousness is so complex, it is easy to take the thread off-topic without even trying, so a thread like this must be monitored closely. I could not do that. Tar, who is familiar with some of my thoughts on this subject, did a wonderful job of supporting my position, trying to pull the thread back on topic, and "herding cats".  But I have not yet introduced anyone to my thoughts on the connection between consciousness and evolution, so he could only do so much.

If people will be patient and allow me time to respond appropriately, I will try to explain my position. Remember everyone, this is not a race to see who can post the most or the fastest, it is more like a chess game, so taking time to review what has been stated has more value to me than throwing out a lot of disjointed ideas.

23 hours ago, Area54 said:

I agree. A lot of clarity is even better.  I have been unclear.

I do not wish, at this stage, to read your theory of consciousness. (I can see that my phrase "well defined thesis" was poorly chosen.) I simply wish you to clearly agree to, disagree with or edit the following statements:

Good, because I don't have a theory of consciousness. I do have an understanding of consciousness that seems to be rather singular, but not inaccurate.

 

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Consciousness has multiple levels.

Yes. This is probably the most important point. When I state that bacteria is conscious, many will respond with something like," You mean it thinks and goes to the bar after work?" When they say this, what they are doing is anthropomorphizing the bacteria, giving it a human consciousness. But bacteria does not have a human consciousness -- it couldn't. It does not have eyes or ears, it does not have a brain to process vision and hearing, it does not have feet to move it around or hands to hold things, so it can not know about these things, can not be aware of them.

All life is aware (conscious). That is how we know that it is life, but what is it aware of? What can it be aware of? What can it know? That is harder to determine. If we are going to look at life in terms of evolution, then we must examine levels of awareness. We must break it down as it would be unbelievable to attribute human consciousness to bacteria, bears, frogs, and butterflies. (except in children's stories)

 

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Tthe simplest of these levels is present in prokaryotes and is, in essence, a suite of reactions to their environments.

Yes and no.  Yes, it is the simplest level, that I know of, but to describe bacteria as "is, in essence, a suite of reactions" is to also objectify it. This would make it no different from a chemical reaction or a mechanical machine. It would be better to state that it is 'recognized' by a suite of reactions.

I am no biologist, so this is a layman's interpretation of what constitutes life. Life will eat, grow, and reproduce itself; so this activity continues it's life and is present in all life forms from the beginning. I base this on the information that a virus will only do these things when in another life form (specie), which is why it does not qualify as life on it's own. Life will also adapt, and if it cannot adapt, it will die. This adapting can also result in evolution, which would be why we are told that the first life on earth was microbial.

So what does this have to do with consciousness? Well, there are no battery packs on bacteria. Something empowers it and motivates it. We call that something consciousness -- the same thing that empowers and motivates us and all life. Either the thing that empowers life is internal, consciousness, or it is external, "God"; since I have never met "God", I am going with the former. This internal empowerment is awareness (consciousness) of the need to continue, to preserve it's life and pattern. This need for life to preserve itself is present in all life forms and is known and studied as survival instincts. Instincts are part of consciousness.

There are some people, who will state that the above is no more than a chemical reaction, but saying this is a denial of life. If life is just a chemical reaction, then you and I are just chemical reactions, as I have seen no evidence that justifies the idea that humans are above and beyond other life, except for the religious idea that claims we are "made in 'God's' image". Or we can go the other way and state that chemical reactions and life are the same thing because the entire Universe is alive -- maybe so. But this would mean that we have to redefine life, and that is not what this thread is about. This thread is about interpreting acknowledged, accredited information with regard to evolution in species. Anyone with another idea should start another thread because it would be off topic -- focus, focus, focus.

 So all life is sentient, but this first level is only sentient and can feel, sense, or perceive something, usually food, in it's environment. It also responds to this 'something'. So what we can know about first life is that it is aware of this 'something', that it possesses knowledge of how to respond to this 'something', that it has memory to store this knowledge, and that it has instincts which motivate it to react. These are the base qualities of conscious life.

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The more advanced levels, that we are aware of, are reached by creatures such as humans, cetaceans etc.

Yes.

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There are other "levels", or "phases", or "stages" between these two.

Yes.  I will give you the accepted terms, then I will give you my understanding of them.

Sentience -- to be able to perceive, sense or feel something.

Awareness -- to be able to be aware of something.

Consciousness -- to be able to be aware of something and also think about it.

Self-awareness -- to be aware of your body in a third person way, or to be aware of your own mind in relation to other minds or vice-versa.

Executive control -- this was a new one on me, but it is clear what it means.

All of the above are awareness, which would be why they are listed under the heading of consciousness. The differences between them is mostly emotional. We use the word 'sentience' because we can not accept the possibility that bacteria and skin cells might have minds, so we designate the lowest life forms as sentient, aware but mindless. (chuckle)

There is no real difference between awareness and consciousness, but most people think of consciousness as including thought, so I can live with that.

Self-awareness was originally designed to prove the superiority of humans, but we have begun to test other species and think that they are also self-aware, so we have a new designation, executive control, to describe human superiority. (chuckle chuckle)

 

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Different "levels", or "phases", or "stages" may be present in an organism at different times, under different conditions and at different points in its life cycle.

Not sure what you mean here. We could say that there are different levels or phases in human life when comparing an infant and an adult, or comparing a caterpillar to a cocoon to a butterfly. Is that what you mean? What different conditions are you talking about? Are you talking about being unconscious? Not sure that these ideas are relevant to evolution, but if you think so, tell me how they are relevant.

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Unfortunately all these levels/phases/stages are considered by one or more authorities to be consciousness.

Yes. (chuckle)

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This lack of granularity causes confusion, misunderstanding, derailment of arguments, etc.

I don't think so. It is true that consciousness is a complex subject and has been studied for millennia by different cultures, thinkers, and religions, so it is a difficult study as it carries various ideas from various sources. Then when you think you have a handle on the concept, you become aware of a whole new area of study that also applies. (chuckle) I have had to rethink my concept of consciousness many, many times. Training and a lot of time are required to work on this puzzle. But then I like a good puzzle.

People not truly listening and wanting to promote their own ideas are most of the reasons for misunderstanding and derailment. When I went back and reread this thread, I discovered that only one person actually supplied the information requested in the OP -- only one -- in eight pages. That was JohnCuthber on the first page. John and I never really got along well before, but I am beginning to rethink that position. He showed me that he can read, comprehend, follow a topic, and think at the same time, which appears to be truly amazing as no one else accomplished this. He stated that species could not evolve simply because they 'want' to, and the "God" idea or Intelligent Designer always comes into play when we try to combine consciousness and evolution. He is correct.

We identify consciousness with the brain and thought, or we identify consciousness with "God". Since thought can not accomplish evolution, we are stuck with the "God" idea or an Intelligent Designer, which scares the bejeebers out of us. Fear can be stupefying. I thought that maybe it was time to look at consciousness for what it is, not the brain, not just thought, and not "God". Consciousness is just a part of Nature and works within Nature's rules just like everything else does. My thought is to simply understand consciousness, what it is and what it is made up of, thought, knowledge, memory, awareness, feeling, and emotion, and how these components work -- what they do, their limitations, their possibilities. I mentioned these ideas in the first few pages, but got ignored.

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In view of the foregoing, and in particular the last point, for the love of whatever deity you choose not to believe in would you please be very specific about which consciousness you are talking about in each post, or in each part of a post. Had you done so from the outset we would all have lived happier lives over the past couple of weeks.

 You are way too dramatic. The study of consciousness is mostly sweeping away the garbage that has been attached to this word. Consciousness is awareness -- being aware of something, what that something is depends on the size of your suitcase as Tub noted -- or the development of your specie. This awareness 'communicates' some knowledge or information to you.

My computer locked up a few time, but I think I will be able to post this.

Gee

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tar    235

Gee',

Since we can rely neither on our own intelligence nor God's to "drive" or motivate evolution, there must be "something" about universal stuff, that promotes, or allows for patterns to repeat themselves, and workable patterns to stick around for a longer period of time, than unworkable patterns.

That is planets "want" to go around the Sun, electrons "want" to fall to a lower energy level and release a photon, water wants to run downhill and gas molecules want as much space as they can get, and thusly fill their container.

I am wondering what "wants" on a chemical, physical, basic electromagnetic level, result in life and consciousness.    How does a Redbud know to bloom in the spring?  Without God, without any human executive order, not accidentally, but purposefully, in the same manner, every spring, on every  Redbud tree, on most hillsides in certain areas of West Virginia.

Evolution must be very complex and interrelated.   Layer built on layer.  One organism, conditioning the world for the next to do its thing.   

Consciousness could not have evolved without utilizing the "wants" built into the place.  The temperature, the pressure, the chemicals present on the Earth, were requirements for whatever happened on Earth, to have happened.

Regards, TAR

The one common thread I see in all Earthbound life, is DNA.   So should we be looking at DNA to see some analogy to consciousness?   Something that DNA "wants" to do, seems to underpin the whole operation of life and consciousness.   And DNA is the primary unique species specific thing that either maintains itself or passes.  The pattern itself.

Just found this.  Am watching a fascinating TED talk (25 minutes) at the end. http://www.collective-evolution.com/2015/03/21/how-dna-consciousness-operate-according-to-law/

Edited by tar

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tar    235

The TED talk got a little political and diverged from talking about DNA to talking about stem cell research and computer economies so it did not go where I thought it should have gone.  Still interesting in considering how our DNA is central to life and consciousness, and the thought is still related to the thread topic.

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cladking    97
5 hours ago, tar said:

 

I am wondering what "wants" on a chemical, physical, basic electromagnetic level, result in life and consciousness.    How does a Redbud know to bloom in the spring?  Without God, without any human executive order, not accidentally, but purposefully, in the same manner, every spring, on every  Redbud tree, on most hillsides in certain areas of West Virginia.

Evolution must be very complex and interrelated.   Layer built on layer.  One organism, conditioning the world for the next to do its thing.   

 

This is incredibly simple! We just can't see it because we don't think "right" because we use symbolic language. 

Things want to live and consciousness is the means to do it. 

Evolution is simple as well but plays out in a very complex world that is always changing and eradicating "wrong" behavior". 

 

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Gees    23

Tar;

12 hours ago, tar said:

Gee',

Since we can rely neither on our own intelligence nor God's to "drive" or motivate evolution, there must be "something" about universal stuff, that promotes, or allows for patterns to repeat themselves, and workable patterns to stick around for a longer period of time, than unworkable patterns.

Yes. Pattern recognition is important in philosophy, and a repetition of patterns is a sign that something is true.

I remember taking the children to a Science Institute years ago. There was a picture of some part of space, maybe a galaxy, that was taken with a high powered telescope, and there was a picture of some matter, maybe cells, that was taken with a high powered microscope. The pictures looked the same. Nature repeats what works.

 

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That is planets "want" to go around the Sun, electrons "want" to fall to a lower energy level and release a photon, water wants to run downhill and gas molecules want as much space as they can get, and thusly fill their container.

Yes. When we define what a word is (want), we also define what it isn't. By setting parameters around the word we limit it. Cladking could probably explain this, but hopefully would give a brief explanation. Unfortunately, we have defined 'want' to be something that is consciously wanted, so it looks like you are saying that planets and electrons are conscious -- this is not necessarily true. 

If you show a child some magnets, the child will say that the magnets 'want' to be together, then flipping one around, the child will say they 'want' to be apart. The child is anthropomorphizing the magnets, giving them a human consciousness, in order to understand the 'want'. This is really just attraction and repulsion, which like want, are just forces and motion between things.

 

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I am wondering what "wants" on a chemical, physical, basic electromagnetic level, result in life and consciousness.    How does a Redbud know to bloom in the spring?  Without God, without any human executive order, not accidentally, but purposefully, in the same manner, every spring, on every  Redbud tree, on most hillsides in certain areas of West Virginia.

Evolution must be very complex and interrelated.   Layer built on layer.  One organism, conditioning the world for the next to do its thing.   

 

Yes, complex and interrelated, but not a straight path. This is one of the bigger problems that I have with the "God" idea or the Intelligent Designer theory. Why start with a human-like mind, then reduce it to microbes, then let it develop into dinosaurs, then wipe out most life, then rebuild it to humans? This makes no sense and looks nothing like a plan -- but neither is it random. I suspect that evolution is reactionary, and when the reaction is successful, it is repeated. This repetition then appears to be purposeful, although I doubt that it was originally "designed" to be purposeful. It is the nature of Nature to be assertive; to assert itself into an available void, so when I translate this into ideas of consciousness, I find that it is the nature of Nature to learn.

Yes, if it is reactionary, it would also be interrelated. It is also the nature of Nature to self-balance, as we have learned while studying ecosystems. So any lack of balance would tempt Nature to try to fill the void and rebalance itself, which is where the reaction comes from.

 

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Consciousness could not have evolved without utilizing the "wants" built into the place.  The temperature, the pressure, the chemicals present on the Earth, were requirements for whatever happened on Earth, to have happened.

Regards, TAR

 

Agreed. My studies indicate that temperature and density affect consciousness, and water seriously changes up the rules. This information came mostly from studies of ecosystems where temperature, mountains, lakes, rivers, and oceans limit the interrelated self-balancing of Nature. It is also why island life is so interesting because it can evolve in totally unique ways because of the water that surrounds it and isolates it from many influences. There are also electro-magnetic fields, and probably other things, that influence consciousness.

 

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The one common thread I see in all Earthbound life, is DNA.   So should we be looking at DNA to see some analogy to consciousness?   Something that DNA "wants" to do, seems to underpin the whole operation of life and consciousness.   And DNA is the primary unique species specific thing that either maintains itself or passes.  The pattern itself.

Just found this.  Am watching a fascinating TED talk (25 minutes) at the end. http://www.collective-evolution.com/2015/03/21/how-dna-consciousness-operate-according-to-law/

 

I have no idea not being a scientist. I don't know much about DNA, but am wondering if it is Nature's memory bank.

Gee

 

Cladking;

It is good to hear from you again. Welcome to what appears to now be my thread. (chuckle)

Gee

 

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