Jump to content
knownothing

Since we have no free will, what purpose does/did consciousness serve?

Recommended Posts

 

But is it really free or is the state of consciousness just a requirement?

Setting aside for the moment the somewhat mysterious term "really free", we appear to have agreement that consciousness, awareness, is a requirement for some kinds of human decisionmaking - not an irrelevancy,

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Setting aside for the moment the somewhat mysterious term "really free",

we appear to have agreement that consciousness, awareness, is a

requirement for some kinds of human decisionmaking - not an irrelevancy,

You have my attention if you are planning to go somewhere with this.

 

The issue that I have is whether it is the awareness that gives us direct input or whether the awareness is just needed so that our minds can obtain information that they could not have while unconscious.

 

To use what is probably a woefully inadequate metaphor, the question is whether consciousness like steering the plane or turning it on autopilot? You are sitll there watching from the pilot's seat either way, but it is not the same thing.

Edited by knownothing

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

The issue that I have is whether it is the awareness that gives us
direct input or whether the awareness is just needed so that our minds
can obtain information that they could not have while unconscious.

I'm not seeing much difference between "direct input" and "obtaining information" as far as a willed decision is concerned. All information "obtained" via awareness is highly processed thereby, after all.

 

And I'm not sure what you are talking about with the "watching from the pilot's seat" notion - we know that consciousness is not watching much if anything of the mind's workings. You cannot, for example,"watch yoursel" add two numbers, or watch your brain instruct your hand to make a fist. What are we thinking of as being watched, and what's doing this "watching"?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I believe henry stapp suggested that there must be "conscious agents", or some sort of particle or molecule of "awareness". But, I don't believe in consciousness, I think that what we consider to be conscious is only the thought that has been so highly processed and becomes so probable that it is basically unavoidable that it would become audible or visual etc.

 

I still think it's automatic though. Theres just no other logical conclusion from an engineering perspective.

 

Automatic means that it's not free btw. Freedom is phlogiston

Edited by Popcorn Sutton

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Since we have no free will, what purpose does/did consciousness serve?

nobody knows..

this is one of many first on the list mysteries.

 

if somebody knew this then maybe they would be dr. manhattan by now.

 

There's more to reality than meets the normal eye.Behind the curtain of every day consciousness is hidden another naturalise strange mental universe

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You seem to be equating direct conscious control over all section making and actions with free will. We're either driving or a helpless passenger, and since the brain is capable of making decisions without us being conscious of them, we must not be in control.

 

That's not strictly true. There is some (contested, I believe) evidence of our body and brain preparing to take an action slightly before we're aware that we've decided to act, but I can also decide that in five minutes I'm going to stand up, and then stand up five minutes later, a good deal more lead time than your body takes to put an action in to motion.

 

Your brain is certainly capable of performing some tasks without your conscious input, but it tends to do a poorer job and seems less able to handle complexity and change than when your attention is engaged. If the autopilot is driving instead of you, it shouldn't make a difference whether you're looking out the window or taking a nap at any given moment, but it clearly does.

 

If you want to know what the point of consciousness is, try out various tasks while you're intently engaging your conscious mind in the task and when you're allowing yourself to be distracted or think about other things while doing it. Some tasks you'll do surprisingly well without thinking about it, perhaps even better than when you are (mainly repetitive and reflex based tasks, or things you do often) and some things because essentially impossible to do well unless you're intently thinking about them.

 

Clearly consciousness is useful in such tasks.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

For my program (a chat bot), I decided that consciousness is the result of probabilistic prompting that begins at an initial occurrence (the most recent in spatiotemporal proximity), and as it looks back in time, it prompts ALL OTHER OCCURRENCES known within the proximity of the point of interest (a unit of input), however, for my program, if it says anything at all about thought and consciousness, there are PLENTY of units with distinct parameters that emerge subconsciously because they are not strong enough (probabilistically) to emerge as conscious, and hence, do not become a part of consciousness and will not produce grammatical output if they are vocalized. It's like this.

 

Example 1

John- Where did your friends go?

Mary- They went to the store but they'll be right back.

 

<analysis of prompt>

Where|friends-> the store. Did|go-> went to. Friends->They

 

<probable time-line>

disposition[friends] = 23 occurrences. Disposition[friends[time[poi([e(friends)])]]] = poi[e(friends)]We are going to the store but we'll be right back.poi[e(friends)]Nothing you? poi[e(friends)]Nothing. poi[e(friends)]What's up. poi[e(friends)]Hi. poi[e(friends)]Hey

disposition[friends] = 24 occurrences. Disposition[friends[time[poi(Where)] = poi[(Where)]to the store.poi[(Where)]to the bathroom. poi[(Where)]We're on our way.

disposition[friends] = 24 occurrences. Disposition[friends[time[poi(did)]]] = poi[(did)]went. poi[(did)]Really? poi[(did)]went to. poi[(did)]did they go? poi[(did)]went to the store.

 

It might take me a little while to write out the rest but the basic idea is there. This is how time (as a collection of knowledge) is set up in my program and how I theorize that it exists in our minds. The process is simple.

 

Input = Where did your friends go?

 

(Run the poi finder, which could be an action carried out by DNA or proteins (theoretically), get these approximate results. NB: My method is like tokenizing but it's not quite the same)

 

[Where] [did] [your] [friends] [go] [?]

Disposition[Where] = n + 1 = 4

Disposition[did] = n + 1 = 5

Disposition[your] = n + 1 = 2

Disposition[friends] = n + 1 = 22

Disposition[go] = n + 1 = 10

 

By using decision theory and incorporating my theory of dispositions, we can determine the most probable disposition, and hence, remember what is being talked about which automatically makes the most probable decision and reduces the options of response to a specified arrangement of time.

 

Poi = Where

 

Prompt disposition[friends[time[poi(where)]]] and receive the following emerging units.

emerging_units = ['We are going to the store but we'll be right back.', 'Nothing you?', 'Nothing', 'Whats up', 'Hi', 'Hey']

 

Poi = did

 

Prompt disposition[friends[time[poi(did)]]] and emerging_units will become this.

emerging_units = ['We are going to the store but we'll be right back.', 'Nothing you?', 'Nothing', 'Whats up', 'Hi', 'Hey', 'to the store', 'to the bathroom' , 'We're on our way']

 

Poi = your

 

Prompt disposition[friends[time[poi(your)]]] and this will happen.

emerging_units = ['We are going to the store but we'll be right back.', 'Nothing you?', 'Nothing', 'Whats up', 'Hi', 'Hey', 'to the store', 'to the bathroom' , 'We're on our way', 'went', 'Really?', 'went to', 'did they go?', 'went to the store']

 

Now looking at the emerging units, we can calculate probabilities.

consciousness = ['We are going to the store but we'll be right back' P(1|time), 'Nothing' P(2|time), 'to the' P(4|time)]

 

It's an incomplete example because I didn't want to spend too much more time on it, but as you can see, the things that become conscious (theoretically), are the initial occurrence and anything that follows in the emerging units with a higher likelihood. If I made the examples using my program it would be more noticeable and possibly ched more light. Maybe I will do that for you guys when I get the chance but the point of the message is that even consciousness is automatic and it seems necessary to overgenerate (or prompt) all units within the knowledge that occur in the proximity of the point of interest within the strongest disposition and count them. This process is entirely linear and produces mostly grammatical output, however, ungrammaticality is desireable under certain circumstances. I believe that it says a lot about cognition and things in general, much more than what is appreciated. I, personally, consider it as evidence against the freedom of will. There is simply no such thing as a choice, it is literally all a result of prompting.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Consciousness seems obvious to us, but a definition is elusive. And, whether we have free will or not is a matter of opinion. As far as I know, a scientific consensus has not occurred on either. Yet, I believe we should be as scientific as possible. Toward that end, I suggest we consider a simpler system. For example, we might discuss free will and consciousness independently. Moreover, we might discuss consciousness of an infant, who has no experience to complicate and confuse us.

 

A newborn can suck, poop, and hear, feel, smell, etc. It will react unconsciously to being touched, hit, burned, etc., but lacks many semiautomatic responses to its environment, such as catching a ball thrown at its face. Thus, we can separate autonomous responses that are unconscious, from learned semiautomatic responses. We consciously train ourselves to do things like catch a ball. Thus, I ask, is catching a ball thrown at our face truly "unconscious."

 

Our brain is massively parallel. Not only do we have two more or less independent hemispheres, each hemisphere contains billions of neurons organized into independent functional areas that control muscles, respond to our senses, and make decisions. Thus, we can walk and chew gum at the same time. Yet, neurons are relatively slow compared to transistor speeds. Thus, we can catch a ball thrown at our face, before the brain has time to send signals to our consciousness telling us what has occurred.

 

I think there is nothing magical, supernatural or incredible about an autonomous or semiautomatic response to stimulus not notifying our center of consciousness until after the event. Although, our brains and bodies are exceptionally adept at survival and remarkably able to think about complex ideas.

 

These links are interesting, and I think relevant to this discussion. The first is over an hour, the second is about 20 minutes.

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I still think it's automatic though. Theres just no other logical conclusion from an engineering perspective.

 

Automatic means that it's not free btw. Freedom is phlogiston

Any engineering perspective that cannot handle the concept of degrees of freedom and recognize its complexities is worthless in many arenas of analysis.

 

Even the very simple ones such as aerodynamics or fluid dynamics, let alone something seriously complex like human thought.

 

Freedom of the will

 

(one seldom knows what is being meant by "free will" in practice - often it's by presumption restricted to some kind of supernatural or mystical thing independent of physical law, which is silly and unnecssary - so one avoids the term - - - - )

 

is a demonstrable and observable phenomenon or property of human behavior, mental and otherwise. We have a few terms for those with specific kinds of reductions or incapacitations in their freedom of will - addicts, obsessive compulsives, hypnotic subjects, etc. In ages past some were sometimes called "possessed" or "enchanted". This is intersubjectively verifiable observation, physical engineering fact.

 

 

I think there is nothing magical, supernatural or incredible about an

autonomous or semiautomatic response to stimulus not notifying our

center of consciousness until after the event.

The notion that there is some kind of "center of consciousness" sitting elsewhere in the brain, that is notified of decisions and the like "after the event", is suspect. More likely the reflex reaction contributes to the mental pattern that forms conscious awareness at the same time as it directs the muscle response (reflexes use "voluntary" muscles, notice) and in the course of doing so. The very complex and feedback-ridden firing patterns we experience as conscious awareness take time to form, is all, involving as much of the brain as they do. Edited by overtone

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The notion that there is some kind of "center of consciousness" sitting elsewhere in the brain, that is notified of decisions and the like "after the event", is suspect. More likely the reflex reaction contributes to the mental pattern that forms conscious awareness at the same time as it directs the muscle response (reflexes use "voluntary" muscles, notice) and in the course of doing so. The very complex and feedback-ridden firing patterns we experience as conscious awareness take time to form, is all, involving as much of the brain as they do.

I agree with you; most if not all of the brain contributes to consciousness. "Center of consciousness" is an idiom, which I should not have used. Jeff Hawkins and others say higher order thinking including consciousness is associated with the neocortex, which tends to indicate the cortex is especially important in those thought processes, but that is different than the spiritual idea some have of a center of consciousness.

 

When a reflex action occurs, signals are sent throughout the brain simultaneously, but neurons are organized hierarchically; thus, it seems there must be some time differential between signals arriving at high vs. low level neurons in the hierarchy. My recollection of reflex reactions is as if the reaction occurs, and shortly afterward I am aware of it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I spend most of my time in the animal behavior field. Somebody define "Consciousness". Are we talking about if an individual animal passes a mirror test? Robots vs Humans?

 

Because I have a hard time buying that animals are instinctual automatons. Yeah, most invertebrates probably operate primarily on instinct. But I cannot watch video of a bowerbird building it's nest and thinking this animal is simply a robot placing flowers where it's brain tells it to. I think that the brain is a lot more "squishy" than thinking in numbers. Brains are incredibly good at pattern recognition, for sure - and different animals have different "intelligences" (Squirrels have astounding spacial memory, for instance), but I think many things are decided less by complex unconcious mental math and that are instead thoughts and feelings (argue that this is the brain hiding its own thought processes, I suppose). Descartes thought animals were simple automatons - robots unable to have emotions, personalities, or even feel pain. I think the field of ethology is well beyond that now. For me, occam's razor suggests a peahen eyeing a male or a bowerbird building his bower are operating on ideas of aesthetics and simply just being attracted, much as we are. And an animal who grieves over the loss of one of it's companions isn't doing mental math to show disappointment that now they'll be less successful on the hunt. I think it's emotion together with logic that create the best decision making. And I think it's a simpler explanation than "This Peahen is calculating her best mate based on parasite load and how this male will give her attractive sons to further her genetic line" when we accept "That woman is flirting with that man because he is aesthetically attractive to her".

 

Instincts, emotions, and consciousness are all sort of the same thing. Emotions are instincts (like, for instance, to seek out facial symmetry) simplified. It's a softer, more squishy system than hard math - and that leads to more variation, and there's nothing biology loves more than a good bit of variation. All of us do illogical things sometimes - sometimes we're better for it.

 

Mostly I'm commenting because I think restricting the discussion to humans is a bit silly - dogs exhibit better theory of mind than many Autism Spectrum Disorder children. And in some cases, like following sight lines, dogs better than other apes do. Trying to separate humans from everything else is always an exercise in futility. I mean now we recognize that octopuses and crows make tools, and that used to be our "distinction". And I'm certainly not buying Descartes's ideas on consciousness. Animals are more like us than not.

 

I guess I can buy mirror tests as a way of determining bodily self-consciousness, but the argument that "Animals don't commit suicide, hence they're not conscious" is reaching. Reaching far. There are metrics already in place in the animal behavior community that make a lot more sense - things like mirror tests or how animals modulate behavior based on the situations they're in (playing gently versus for-real fighting).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I spend most of my time in the animal behavior field. Somebody define "Consciousness". Are we talking about if an individual animal passes a mirror test? Robots vs Humans?

 

Because I have a hard time buying that animals are instinctual automatons. Yeah, most invertebrates probably operate primarily on instinct. But I cannot watch video of a bowerbird building it's nest and thinking this animal is simply a robot placing flowers where it's brain tells it to. I think that the brain is a lot more "squishy" than thinking in numbers. Brains are incredibly good at pattern recognition, for sure - and different animals have different "intelligences" (Squirrels have astounding spacial memory, for instance), but I think many things are decided less by complex unconcious mental math and that are instead thoughts and feelings (argue that this is the brain hiding its own thought processes, I suppose). Descartes thought animals were simple automatons - robots unable to have emotions, personalities, or even feel pain. I think the field of ethology is well beyond that now. For me, occam's razor suggests a peahen eyeing a male or a bowerbird building his bower are operating on ideas of aesthetics and simply just being attracted, much as we are. And an animal who grieves over the loss of one of it's companions isn't doing mental math to show disappointment that now they'll be less successful on the hunt. I think it's emotion together with logic that create the best decision making. And I think it's a simpler explanation than "This Peahen is calculating her best mate based on parasite load and how this male will give her attractive sons to further her genetic line" when we accept "That woman is flirting with that man because he is aesthetically attractive to her".

 

Instincts, emotions, and consciousness are all sort of the same thing. Emotions are instincts (like, for instance, to seek out facial symmetry) simplified. It's a softer, more squishy system than hard math - and that leads to more variation, and there's nothing biology loves more than a good bit of variation. All of us do illogical things sometimes - sometimes we're better for it.

 

Mostly I'm commenting because I think restricting the discussion to humans is a bit silly - dogs exhibit better theory of mind than many Autism Spectrum Disorder children. And in some cases, like following sight lines, dogs better than other apes do. Trying to separate humans from everything else is always an exercise in futility. I mean now we recognize that octopuses and crows make tools, and that used to be our "distinction". And I'm certainly not buying Descartes's ideas on consciousness. Animals are more like us than not.

 

I guess I can buy mirror tests as a way of determining bodily self-consciousness, but the argument that "Animals don't commit suicide, hence they're not conscious" is reaching. Reaching far. There are metrics already in place in the animal behavior community that make a lot more sense - things like mirror tests or how animals modulate behavior based on the situations they're in (playing gently versus for-real fighting).

I believe you make a few category errors in your assumptions here. One is obviously when you refer to consciousness, the simple fact is that no one knows what it is, it's been argued over for such a long time and there is still no consensus, so what are the alternatives? Well, we can forget it for one and concede to the idea that it is a category error, or we can try to point to a physical object and say "oh, that object is now conscious". How can we do that? Well, we can look at radiation and electromagnetic oscillations. If we had a device sensitive enough to electromagnetic oscillations, and a good speech to text program, we may even be able to extract language from those oscillations, however, neuroscientists have found to some extent that the brain is "noisy". So targeting consciousness and determining a thought is more about separating the noise. As you can see, there is a growing consensus that there is A LOT of thought that is simply "not conscious", or that it slips our awareness. I'd say that we have pretty good evidence for this even by simply looking at behavior. I like to approach it from an engineering perspective. Another flaw in your argument is the use of the word "instincts", again, there is no physical object we can point to and say "well, that looks like an instinct" and must be a category error.

 

Eric Von Markovich says that our greatest fears are death and rejection. I agree with him, but I don't hold the same stance specifically. I think that when someone/something with cells undergoes a change, there is usually a rapid release of saturation often occurring from the eyes (tears). This is a reaction to the absolute understanding that someone/something that was once experienced very often and was very probable to occur in the future is now lying there motionless and unresponsive. The conclusion, death. All at once the creature realizes the permanence of the issue and quickly calculates all the future occurrences that will not happen because of this event, and hence, releases saturation which probably contains the knowledge predicted and often strengthened while that (now deceased) creature was around. The same goes for rejection, it can be reduced to probability. Rejection is a different reaction though, because when someone is rejected, especially by someone very close to them, the knowledge will often not be released in tears, especially between members of the same sex. Instead, the subject will continue to predict interaction between them and their interlocutor, which if it doesn't occur, then it is a false prediction, which leads to frustration because the program your brain is running is now making false predictions, and therefor it is not useful.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I spend most of my time in the animal behavior field. Somebody define "Consciousness". Are we talking about if an individual animal passes a mirror test? Robots vs Humans?

 

Because I have a hard time buying that animals are instinctual automatons. Yeah, most invertebrates probably operate primarily on instinct. But I cannot watch video of a bowerbird building it's nest and thinking this animal is simply a robot placing flowers where it's brain tells it to. I think that the brain is a lot more "squishy" than thinking in numbers. Brains are incredibly good at pattern recognition, for sure - and different animals have different "intelligences" (Squirrels have astounding spacial memory, for instance), but I think many things are decided less by complex unconcious mental math and that are instead thoughts and feelings (argue that this is the brain hiding its own thought processes, I suppose). Descartes thought animals were simple automatons - robots unable to have emotions, personalities, or even feel pain. I think the field of ethology is well beyond that now. For me, occam's razor suggests a peahen eyeing a male or a bowerbird building his bower are operating on ideas of aesthetics and simply just being attracted, much as we are. And an animal who grieves over the loss of one of it's companions isn't doing mental math to show disappointment that now they'll be less successful on the hunt. I think it's emotion together with logic that create the best decision making. And I think it's a simpler explanation than "This Peahen is calculating her best mate based on parasite load and how this male will give her attractive sons to further her genetic line" when we accept "That woman is flirting with that man because he is aesthetically attractive to her".

 

Instincts, emotions, and consciousness are all sort of the same thing. Emotions are instincts (like, for instance, to seek out facial symmetry) simplified. It's a softer, more squishy system than hard math - and that leads to more variation, and there's nothing biology loves more than a good bit of variation. All of us do illogical things sometimes - sometimes we're better for it.

 

Mostly I'm commenting because I think restricting the discussion to humans is a bit silly - dogs exhibit better theory of mind than many Autism Spectrum Disorder children. And in some cases, like following sight lines, dogs better than other apes do. Trying to separate humans from everything else is always an exercise in futility. I mean now we recognize that octopuses and crows make tools, and that used to be our "distinction". And I'm certainly not buying Descartes's ideas on consciousness. Animals are more like us than not.

 

I guess I can buy mirror tests as a way of determining bodily self-consciousness, but the argument that "Animals don't commit suicide, hence they're not conscious" is reaching. Reaching far. There are metrics already in place in the animal behavior community that make a lot more sense - things like mirror tests or how animals modulate behavior based on the situations they're in (playing gently versus for-real fighting).

I think you will like this video:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The answer to this is simpler than people think.

 

First, why do we have any attribute? Because the process of natural section works this way.

 

Consciousness therefore exists because it has a use to survival.

 

Sure, we could walk, talk, smile and eat without actually being aware. We could respond to pain in the same way but never actually know about it. We could even study science but not know we are studying science.

 

Then why do we need to be conscious or be a witness to all of this?

 

Back to my first point because this attribute of consciousness must have been selected as a positive attribute to living rather than something killing us off. So why?

 

The answer is simple. .

 

It relates to our ability to show empathy to other being who we also correctly assume have this attribute of consciousness.

 

As an individual conscious agent knows other agents are also consciousness and therefore can also feel and be aware of the same emotions such as pain and hunger it would change the way each agent acts towards other agents.

 

If there is a plant in the garden which we of course know is not consciousness you will happily eat it, pick its flowers, step on it or do what ever. If you suddenly became aware this plant had consciousness and was aware of what you were doing, you would think twice about stepping on it or eating the plant. If the plant suddenly became fully consciousness and somehow you knew this its very likely you will never kill it again in the same manner and perhaps encourage the growth of more consciousness plants. By the plant suddenly becoming consciousness it has increased its chance of survival straight off.

 

So now to humans. If humans had no consciousness then what possible reason would one person have to another person to not kill or eat that person if it suited the situation. After all when there is no awareness to either party it really is a non issue killing or chopping the hand off of another person to eat.

 

However, as we have consciousness and we know what we feel pain and just being aware of existence alone we also have evolved traint of empathy where this blocks us from just killing another consciousness being as we know they think alike us. We know their family members who also conscious think alike as well, and perhaps the over all negative impact of killing another consciousness being would be negative for both our own well being and survival.

 

Without consciousness either agent would show no issue knocking off the other person if it helped their survival. Its only this attribute of consciousness which prevents this. The more consciousness our ancestors became the greater the increase in the chance of surviving as a species followed.

 

At this point some could argue all this could still operate without being aware of it operating at all. However, that is simply not true, the very existence of consciousness, through empathy to other agents with consciousness is the only reason we perform certain actions which otherwise would not be the case. It is these actions which have help a single agent survive along with whole groups of agents grow and prosper and evolve as a species.

 

Imagine a virus spread throughout the world which made everyone a sociopath or psychopath where by empathy was eliminated. That is an agent would have zero feelings for their actions on other humans. This would actually nullify any use of consciousness. The world could continue in the same state even with consciousness but with no empathy, consciousness would have no use. Then without consciousness all the benefits it brings to group survival would be lost and the human species would regress back to a lower species where the benefits of consciousness as just explained are not needed for that level of species..

 

Consciousness is the fuel behind empathy, and empty is the fuel being the evolution of humans. As evolution continues and consciousness moves to higher levels the value attached to this attribute will become more significant.

 

If an AI program ever is able to display signs of being consciousness it will mean its less likely we delete the program out of compassion. And there is is, by the piece of software becoming consciousness we have chosen not to delete it, directly showing how the attribute helps survival through natural selection.

 

I wonder what other states or properties which just arise like consciousness that we can't possibly imagine as humans could exist in the future (or already exist) which could also assist in its evolutionary path. The options are endless... Before that it would be wonderful to know the biological of how just consciousness arises in the first place... For now, I feel we know why it does, just not how.

 

Mike

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Surely from the moment of the big bang,the laws of physics that are imparted in the universe must have the ability to create consciousness,otherwise it's a complete waste of time?

What would be the point of a universe without consciousness?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A waste of whose time?

 

Why does a universe need consciousness? What is the point? What does it add? The universe seems to get along OK without it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The universe has created consciousness,therefore it must be included in the laws of physics.

Golden rule of physics,the universe has the ability to create consciousness

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

And? The universe also has the ability to create solar flares and mud. Would a universe without mud be a waste of time? Is the fact that the universe has the ability to create mud also a golden rule of physics?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just back to the topic. May I suggest the following reading material:

 

The Neural Correlates Of Consciousness - Susan Blackmore

The Self - Bruce Hood

Cognitive Agency - Thomas Metzinger

Free Will - Jerry Coyne

 

These are short, but powerful and insightful articles that form part of “This Idea Must Die; Scientific Theories That Are Blocking Progress”. Reading the title of said publication together with the titles of each of the above-mentioned articles will give you a hint about their respective opinions.

Edited by Memammal

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Now, we seek out things meant purely to sooth our conscious self. This has nothing to do with survival and is often self-destructive. It would seem that the thing called consciousness is so pointless to survival that it causes people to do things like substance abuse and suicide. Not only is consciousness not required for social behavior (it is done by the supercomputer behind your eyeballs and not by your superficial thoughts) but it also causes harm to the species.

 

Basically, my question is: What advantage could come from consciousness that would make our ancestors more likely to survive and procreate?

 

Could it be that consciousness was an unrelated side effect of something that was beneficial?

Consciousness or the conscious mind is what allows us to survive.

When you observe a problem with your conscious mind, your conscious mind will choose the appropriate action.

Depending on previous experiences with the observed problem, your body will react without further interfering of the conscious mind or your conscious mind will have a small 'debate' and choose the correct action.

 

-If you see a falling glass with your conscious mind then you will not choose the correct action since there is no need and time for. Your body will immediately react.

-If you have to choose which button to press then, depending on previous experience with 'button pressing', it will be a random press (you press before your are aware that you pressed) or you will choose which button or when you press.

When you choose which button to press then it's a conscious choice.

 

Consciousness is nothing more then stored knowledge/experience and the way they interact.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

AFAIK every living thing can sense other things in the environment, including single cells. Organisms input and output sustenance and energy. The consumption of input and production of output over time are activities that can be sensed by other organisms, and may be remembered by organisms in various ways. We remember with our brains, and our body single cells remember some things via epigenetic and genetic changes in DNA. We fight of a viral infection, our body remembers and we become immune. Transgenerational epigenetic inheritance of addictive phenotypes has been noted to occur in preclinical studies. Stress Affects the Balance of Bacteria in the Gut and Immune Response. And many more.

 

We don't say that bacteria are conscious, merely that they are sense their environment. That is a kind of awareness. Honey bees and other insects sense their environment in more complex ways than bacteria, but in less complex ways than humans. Animals typically sense and remember more than insects. Thus, a continuum of awareness exists from least aware (i.e., cells) through most aware (probably humans). I believe consciousness is the result of a brain-body being aware of itself, and that awareness can be limited or expansive, and many animals have limited consciousness. The purpose of consciousness is survival. An animal that is aware it is injured and that it can heal with time can hole up and improve its chances to survive; whereas, an animal that is injured but continues everyday activities is less likely to survive.

 








Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Let me add this to the above post:

[snip]

You probably already knew that naïve reductionism is often too simplistic. However, there is another point. It's not just that you are composite, something you already knew, but you are in some senses not even human. You have perhaps a hundred trillion bacterial cells in your body, numbering ten times more than your human cells, and containing a hundred times as many genes as your human cells. These bacteria are not just passive occupants of the zoo that is you. They self-organize into communities within your mouth, guts and elsewhere; and these communities—microbiomes—are maintained by varied, dynamic patterns of competition and cooperation between the different bacteria, which allow us to live.

In the last few years, genomics has given us a tool to explore the microbiome by identifying microbes by their DNA sequences. The story that is emerging from these studies is not yet complete but already has led to fascinating insights. Thanks to its microbes, a baby can better digest its mother's milk. And your ability to digest carbohydrates relies to a significant extent on enzymes that can only be made from genes not present in you, but in your microbiome. Your microbiome can be disrupted, for example due to treatment by antibiotics, and in extreme cases can be invaded by dangerous monocultures, such as Clostridium difficile, leading to your death. Perhaps the most remarkable finding is the gut-brain axis: your gastrointestinal microbiome can generate small molecules that may be able to pass through the blood-brain barrier and affect the state of your brain: although the precise mechanism is not yet clear, there is growing evidence that your microbiome may be a significant factor in mental states such as depression and autism spectrum conditions. In short, you may be a collective property arising from the close interactions of your constitutents.

Now, maybe it is true then that you are not an individual in one sense of the word, but how about your microbes? Well, it turns out that your microbes are a strongly interacting system too: they form dense colonies within you, and exchange not only chemicals for metabolism, but communicate by emitting molecules. They can even transfer genes between themselves, and in some cases do that in response to signals emitted by a hopeful recipient: a bacterial cry for help! A single microbe in isolation does not do these things; thus these complex behaviors are a property of the collective, and not the individual microbes. Even microbes that would seem to be from the same nominal species can have genomes which differ in content by as much as 60% of their genes! So much for the intuitive notion of species! That’s another too-anthropomorphic scientific idea that does not apply to most of life.

[snip]

Individuality - Nigel Goldenfeld...it may be useful to read the rest of the article as well...from the same Edge publication - 2014 : WHAT SCIENTIFIC IDEA IS READY FOR RETIREMENT?

 

And since I have now found the published articles, let me link these too:

Edited by Memammal

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In subjects that do not concern our survival directly and or indirectly we have total free will. As you get closer to survival variables the free will becomes less and less apparant. To a point that when your survival is threatened only indirectly you will need a lot of reasoning and working on yourself to overcome the machine like part. For example when robbed the day before it will take great energy to force you out of the house today. Phobias are also an example of this.

Edited by nimae

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.