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dichotomy

Anthropoid Consciousness Origins?

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Inspired by the Anthropoid Origins thread.

 

I’m not sure if evolutionary theory deals with the mind, but here goes (move it if you must).

 

When did human consciousness as we know it, get to that point, on the scales of evolution?

 

Do you think that consciousness for early man, as we know consciousness, would have been a very gradual, on – consciousness, off – consciousness, spanning generations, type of development. Until it was constantly in ON position during waking hours?

 

Do you think consciousness was suddenly switched on by enviro pressures and accepted by early man as a new, very handy way of perceiving the world?

 

Your views please.

 

cheers

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One - Look at evolutionary psychology for some insight.

Two - Define consciousness.

 

 

The first is clearly the easier of these tasks. Now, if you'll forgive me, I must run, as my conscious dog is asking that I let him outside, as he has seen something he wants to chase. ;)

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My, in vain, definition of our general current level of consciousness, for iNOW’s conscious dog’s sake.

 

The ability to comprehend that we, in our current form, must have come from some series of previous forms. And conclude that our form will continue to branch off into other forms, forms that either become extinct, or continue. Depending on environmental variables.

To have the realization that the only constant in the material world is change.

The ability to conclude, “I think, therefore I am”.

The ability of possessing uniquely human creativity.

The ability to deduce that the earth is not flat (damn, dolphins probably know this).

 

How did I do? :-(

 

cheers.:)

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How did I do?

I'm pretty sure you just said that creationists aren't conscious. I love it! :D

 

 

Proste.

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I'm pretty sure you just said that creationists aren't conscious. I love it! :D

 

 

Proste.

 

I may have to change, creative to 'usefully creative', tighten it up. Since I can't accuse creationists of not being creative. :D

 

prosto ?

has additional meanings in the language of about 83 million native speakers of Belarusian, Ukrainian, Polish; is a ‘true friend’ for about 295.5 million native speakers of Russian, Czech, Slovak, Slovenian, Croatian, Bosnian, Serbian, Macedonian, Bulgarian.

 

The Kashubian meaning ‘simple, simply’ is shared by R. просто, Blr. проста, Ukr. просто, Pol. prosto, Cz. prostě, Slk. proste, Sln. prosto, Cr. prosto, Bo. prosto, Sb. просто, Mk. просто, Bg. просто.

The meaning ‘straight on’ (prost, na prost, za prost) is attested in Blr. проста, прамо, наўпрост, Ukr. просто, Pol. prosto.

 

I'll have to translate proste as being, simple friend. :eek:;)

 

cheers

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My, in vain, definition of our general current level of consciousness, for iNOW’s conscious dog’s sake.

 

The ability to comprehend that we, in our current form, must have come from some series of previous forms. And conclude that our form will continue to branch off into other forms, forms that either become extinct, or continue. Depending on environmental variables.

To have the realization that the only constant in the material world is change.

The ability to conclude, “I think, therefore I am”.

The ability of possessing uniquely human creativity.

The ability to deduce that the earth is not flat (damn, dolphins probably know this).

 

How did I do? :-(

 

cheers.:)

 

Well, if we take your criteria seriously, humans have only had consciousness since 1859! :) Or maybe 1948 with the formation of the Modern Synthesis.

 

The concepts of "consciousness" or "intelligence" are very difficult to pin down precisely. We all have an intuitive feel for what those words mean but no one has been able to come up with an acceptable precise definition.

 

To get back to the OP, it appears that the appearance of intelligence/consciousness is a gradual process. We can point to the extremes -- such as a bacteria -- when consciousness is not present and to us where it is. But when exactly in the evolutionary continuum should we draw the line? We can't.

 

We do know that hominids made stone tools date to 2.6 million years ago: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/11/031105065322.htm

 

Were the hominids that made them "conscious"?

 

The oldest artifacts we have that are definitively "art" date from 50,000 years ago. There are other artifacts that may be art that are older: http://cas.bellarmine.edu/tietjen/images/art(evolution_or_revolution).htm

 

I mention this because of your criteria "The ability of possessing uniquely human creativity". However, I would say that the controversy itself over whether older artifacts are "art" tells us that the evolution of "consciousness" and "creativity" was gradual, with no hard-and-fast line denoting the sudden appearance of either.

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Well, if we take your criteria seriously, humans have only had consciousness since 1859! :)

 

I prefer to go back to Siddhartha Gautama enlightenment – approx’ 400 BCE, “Life is stress”. But Darwin’s enlightenment is on solid record I suppose.:)

 

We do know that hominids made stone tools date to 2.6 million years ago: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/11/031105065322.htm

 

Were the hominids that made them "conscious"?

 

I think if they came to the realization that the tools they crafted make things easier for them. Then yes, they where conscious at that point. I think technological creativity, and even more so, artistic creativity, are the best indicators of consciousness.

 

However, I would say that the controversy itself over whether older artifacts are "art" tells us that the evolution of "consciousness" and "creativity" was gradual, with no hard-and-fast line denoting the sudden appearance of either.

 

The gradual evolution of consciousness sits well with gradual physical evolution. This makes most sense to me. I don’t think consciousness was suddenly delivered like it was to Kubrick’s 2001 apemen. :D

 

Another (probably subjective) measure of consciousness is the feeling one gets when playing with and observing animals. It’s the feeling that one has the upper hand in controlling their situation. Also, children are a good example of consciousness development. A toddler will walk straight across a busy road to pick-up a ball without thinking about the consequences. This to me is undeveloped consciousness of a situation. When I talk to an adult whose head is in the clouds. Or, someone who is high on marijuana, I get the feeling of having an obviously higher consciousness then they do, at that moment in time. And, when I have too much beer to drink, I can gauge my regular consciousness dropping away. I'd guess as we reach a certain old age, our consciousness will begin to diminish again. :confused:

 

 

cheers. :)

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I would say the neocortical column provides the underpinnings of consciousness. If you buy that, then at least all mammals are in some way "conscious". I also believe that NCC-like structures aren't limited to mammals, but exists in other animals like birds.

 

Humans have a larger neocortical hierarchy and more thalamocortical loops than other species. Humans have the largest (in terms of number of neurons) neocortex of any animal.

 

Dennett tries to describe what makes humans special in terms of something he calls a "Joyceian machine". This represents the ability of several parts of the brain to interact using a common natural language. Given the hierarchical nature of the neocortex, this doesn't necessarily involve multiple parts of the neocortex directly comprehending natural language. Instead, the parts that distill neocortical activity into natural language can communicate with the parts that process natural language through a thalamocortical feedback loop. The process looks something like this:

 

(collect thoughts into natural language) -> (generate natural language) -> (impart natural language messages to the thalamus) -> (process natural language from thalamus) -> (distribute results of language processing back to the neocortex)

 

Thus natural language takes on the role of providing a unified abstraction mechanism by which the brain can conjure up ideas of limitless abstraction and represent them to itself.

 

If the natural language used by the process is shared among other humans because it's been learned from other humans, then abstract ideas can be rerepresented from human to human just as they can be generated and interpreted internally.

 

This requires a number of different things happening at the same time, namely ballooning neocortex sizes and the development of specific types of thalamocortical loops.

 

That doesn't mean that animals with a smaller neocortex or fewer thalamocortical loops aren't conscious.

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intelligence/consciousness is a gradual process.

 

If you are linking these two terms as meaning the one item, then I disagree.

Intellegence does not need to be conscious. E.g. ants, bees, spiders all achieve intelligent engineering techniques and structures, cooperative and well structured societies. But they are not conscious to the same level as you are.

 

Maybe consciousness is probably best defined as a species being able to adapt, more so than any other species, to the largest range of environments, by using one's mind to realize just how?:confused:

 

That doesn't mean that animals with a smaller neocortex or fewer thalamocortical loops aren't conscious.

 

Yes, but to what level? Do they see a world that has finite resources for example?

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Hmmm...

 

Premise A: Consciousness is not a phenomenon unique to humans.

Premise B: The scope of an animals consciousness is a function of what is required for survival in it's environment.

Premise C: Consciousness is an emergent property of life.

 

 

Fire away. :eek:

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Hmmm...

 

Premise A: Consciousness is not a phenomenon unique to humans.

Premise B: The scope of an animals consciousness is a function of what is required for survival in it's environment.

Premise C: Consciousness is an emergent property of life.

 

 

Fire away. :eek:

 

Premise B is something I thought of, in a different way, earlier. I think it holds alot of merit, even in deciding levels of consciusness, between humans. But I'm not desperately clinging to it.

 

cheers.

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Yes, but to what level?

 

They can perceive and use memories of their perceptions to make predictions. Their specific abilities in these three regards (perception, memory, prediction) vary from individual to individual and species to species

 

Do they see a world that has finite resources for example?

 

In that they learn certain things they desire appear only sporadically, yes

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In that they learn certain things they desire appear only sporadically, yes

 

Yes, but I think a ‘conscious’ human (there are plenty of semi-conscious ones) would perceive the danger of killing the last few buffalo, for example. And actively breed more to counteract that potentiality. Whereas lions would simply eat the last few buffalo, thus reducing their species chances of long term survival. They are not conscious of the dangers of finite resources.

 

cheers

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Yes, but I think a ‘conscious’ human (there are plenty of semi-conscious ones) would perceive the danger of killing the last few buffalo, for example. And actively breed more to counteract that potentiality. Whereas lions would simply eat the last few buffalo, thus reducing their species chances of long term survival. They are not conscious of the dangers of finite resources

 

They cannot abstractly plan for the long-term future, no

 

What's your point?

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What's your point?

 

They are not conscious of what finite can mean to their survival chances.

 

Therefore, they do not see a world that has finite resources. They only see resources that appear and disappear.

 

cheers.

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They are not conscious of what finite can mean to their survival chances.

I think by your logic above that you are defining a person in poverty (struggles to find food and shelter each day and night) is more conscious than a person who is extremely rich (can buy and do practically whatever they want with little regard or concern for it's impact on resources).

 

Additionally, (and not that I disagree) you are suggesting that we as a culture are not conscious, since we act so consistently to our own detriment with our approach to resources in the environment. In this regard, we as humans are clearly more parasitic than conscious. :rolleyes:

 

 

Let's burn dinosaur bones until we can't find anymore, and make our air more disgusting with each item we power. Cough... Another cancer? Damn... I don't even smoke.

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Hmmm...

 

Premise A: Consciousness is not a phenomenon unique to humans.

Premise B: The scope of an animals consciousness is a function of what is required for survival in it's environment.

Premise C: Consciousness is an emergent property of life.

 

 

Fire away. :eek:

 

I most certainly agree with Premise A - at the very least, other great apes must have a degree of consciousness. I also agree with Premise B, but I think that it conflicts a little with Premise C. Going by what Bascule described, it seems to me that consciousness requires a certain amount and structure of brain material - as does intelligence. That means consciousness, also like intelligence, is not a cheap trait to maintain, since a lot of resources have to be put into brain growth and maintenance. Thus, both consciousness and intelligence should only evolve where the benefits of having them outweigh the cost of a resource-hungry brain. So, in such environments where the benefit-cost ratio favors it, then I think that yes, consciousness probably is an emergent trait. But not necessarily an emergent trait of life in general. As dichotomy mentioned, ants and bees are not conscious, and insects like them will likely outlast humans - all without consciousness.

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As dichotomy mentioned, ants and bees are not conscious, and insects like them will likely outlast humans - all without consciousness.

I suppose it is this point which I am challenging, since none of us have yet agreed upon an adequate definition of consciousness. ;)

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I suppose it is this point which I am challenging, since none of us have yet agreed upon an adequate definition of consciousness. ;)

 

These types of threads always come to the same ends. Intelligence, consciousness - we debate and debate, but since we all agree that nobody agrees on exactly what these things are, no real conclusions are ever made. Though I have to admit they can get pretty educational, which is pretty cool even if no real answer is ever reached.

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this is somewhat long but it's how i would define consciousness.

 

consciousness is awareness of one's self. it is a product of the whole of the brain but only intelligent animals can possess self awareness. intelligence alone is not sufficient though. language is a product of intelligence and self awareness and helps perpetuate self awareness. a self aware animal is capable of acting against what its emotions promote. non-self aware animals cannot, non intelligent animals cannot. that's why you need to train dogs with food, they can only be conditioned not taught.

 

we and other intelligent/self-aware animals, are capable of comprehending limited things without language. language helps us comprehend much more. animals which are not self aware or intelligent cannot understand anything whatsoever.

 

for example if you look at math. math is a language that helps human beings count and compare proportions to much more complex degrees than otherwise possible. math is a good example because it allows us to see exactly the limitations of our implicit knowledge/capicity to comprehend naturally, in comparison to the limitless possibilities language allows us. without this ability to comprehend we would not be able to define words and speak them and hear them and associate meanings to the sound/letters.

 

if you look at 99 apples and 100 apples, i could ask you which group has the most apples, you could not tell and you would need to guess.. or use your language to count them. if i do the same with 3 and 2 apples you will have no problem telling me which is which without ever counting. there are certain limited quantities human beings can implicitly comprehend.

 

if you look at ancient numbering systems and try it for yourself, you can see that the limit for human beings is around 5. chinese numbers start one horizontal line for 1, two horizontal lines for for 2, three horizontal lines for 3 and then other symbols. roman numerals are similar but vertical. there are never more than 3 vertical lines always another symbol added for values above 3. or the other counting system of 1,2,3, then 4 vertical lines and the fifth crossing them out.

 

certain monkeys are hunted by sending in many men having them set their trap and hiding and then 3 men leave, the monkeys think everyone has gone since they can comprehend 3 but more than 3 is just many. we are slightly smarter than that.

 

other animals are not capable of any comprehension whatsoever, it does not matter how many men you send and how many are seen leaving. they are capable only of acting on behalf of their emotions. for this reason they are extremely predictable. this is in fact the purpose of emotions. if one cannot know that falling off a cliff will cause one to die, then how is it not all animals go extinct from falling off cliffs? emotions, fear of heights. those animals which do not fear heights do indeed die, or are safe at heights like birds, those that develop a healthy fear reproduce and send down the fear gene. the fact you think of your fear as an emotion and not as your instinct that commands you without your knowledge is an indication that you are self aware. so is the fact that you can wonder what consciousness is or understand the number 4, the fact you are not your emotions' slave. this is consciousness, freedom and knowledge. true knowledge, the dog that comes for food when it hears its food being poured does not know the sound means food is coming. it has been conditioned to act with that sound. when people say dogs are smart they really mean to say that they can be conditioned well. some animals do not even have this feature, let alone intelligence, no insects do, to my knowledge neither do any reptiles, their "brains" are too simple.

 

i have seen dolphins perform a counting test like i described and they could do much better than 5 so either they have also developed a counting system, which is quite likely since they also developed language, even names for each other, using sound and bubbles, or they are much much smarter than we are. either way they are self aware.

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I think by your logic above that you are defining a person in poverty (struggles to find food and shelter each day and night) is more conscious than a person who is extremely rich (can buy and do practically whatever they want with little regard or concern for it's impact on resources).

 

 

No, I think within rich and poor groups there are varying degrees of consciousness in what finite can mean to their survival chances.

 

 

Additionally, (and not that I disagree) you are suggesting that we as a culture are not conscious, since we act so consistently to our own detriment with our approach to resources in the environment. In this regard, we as humans are clearly more parasitic than conscious. :rolleyes:

 

 

I think, in general, we are not as conscious as we think we are. Thus we consume with reckless abandon, as a parasite does. But this is straying a bit off topic. When do people assume that our consciousness of finite, and what it meant to our survival chances, came into existence? Did we still have tails at this point? Was it at the point of creating art for arts sake? Was it at the point of our first abstract thoughts?

 

 

 

Let's burn dinosaur bones until we can't find anymore, and make our air more disgusting with each item we power. Cough... Another cancer? Damn... I don't even smoke.

 

Yes, a sad indictment of just how conscious we collectively really are. Dodo birds come to mind. :doh:

cheers. :)

 

That's why you need to train dogs with food, they can only be conditioned not taught.

 

Humans are conditioned from birth. We are conditioned by our environment. Teaching humans is a form of conditioning. The only real difference I see between us and other animals is our greater capacity for consciousness and intelligence.

 

cheers.

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cheers. :)

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Humans are conditioned from birth. We are conditioned by our environment. Teaching humans is a form of conditioning. The only real difference I see between us and other animals is our greater capacity for consciousness and intelligence.

 

cheers.

 

ya i see what you mean teaching is a form of conditioning, that's true. but i meant to use the word for lack of a better one for referring to only the shaping of emotions. our emotions are also conditioned, we are animals too, but most animals have only the emotional conditioning and not the knowledge one, that's what i was trying to say. most animals won't pickup on something just by watching you. a human being can learn from another by doing just that.

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but most animals have only the emotional conditioning and not the knowledge one.

 

I don't agree. All mammals have intellectual and emotional thinking. The difference being the individual's intellectual and emotional capacities. Both logic and emotion can be conditioned.

 

cheers. :)

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