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 Halo 2 Forum A simple deconstruction of consciousness - question

Cursed Lemon
Darren Helm's Bitch
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#91
02-19-2014
 I don't understand what sort of methodological breakdown he's alluding to in the first link. Elmo <3
davobrosia
Ask Z for $50 Join Date: Sep 2006 Posts: 22,593 #92 02-19-2014 In fact, to open up more cans of worms, a few more interesting things to chew on regarding a somewhat contemporary state of continental ontology and metaphysics, because it's interesting and arguably relevant. I'll try to quote some relevant stuff so you don't have to read 5000 pages. http://quod.lib.umich.edu/o/ohp/9750...;view=fulltext https://larvalsubjects.wordpress.com...f-information/ Quote:  The state of neurology with respect to its ability to account for consciousness is analogous to the state of biology following Darwin’s revolutionary theory of evolution through natural selection. All of the evidence gathered in the wake of Darwin’s theory indicated the truth of his account (broadly construed). What was lacking was an account of the mechanism by which traits could be passed on. Despite Mendel, we would have to wait nearly a hundred years before that mechanism was discovered and before we began to understand how, precisely, it works. The situation with neurology is very similar. We largely know that brain produces consciousness, but there are a number of big and mysterious “x’s” as to how the brain does this. At the neurological level, Edelmen’s findings are even more interesting. By posing the question of consciousness in terms of when consciousness is, Edelmen is able to correlate conscious states with various neurological phenomena. His discovery is that consciousness isn’t localized in a particular region of the brain, nor even in a number of regions, but rather is the result of a process involving specific neuronal interactions. This, of course, sounds like a truism that most of us are familiar with; however the devil’s in the details. The thesis isn’t that consciousness is the result of a widely distributed activity of neurons, but rather the specifics of this activity are all important. Here I cannot begin to do Edelman’s discussion of these processes justice, but hopefully a few observations will convey a sense of what he is up to. In non-conscious states such as non-REM sleep or epileptic seizures (and a variety of common states not pertaining to illness or disorder can be cited as well), the brain is nonetheless highly active. What differs between conscious states of awareness and non-conscious states is not whether or where the neurons are firing, but rather the way in which they are firing. Non-REM sleep, for example, is characterized by a high degree of homogenous firing among these massive networks of neurons. The neurons, as it were, become synchronized. A similar pattern of neuronal activity accompanies conversion symptoms characteristic of hysteria, where the patient experiences paralysis of an arm or blindness without the cause being bodily in nature. This pattern of firing can be fruitfully compared to degrees of entropy (which Edelman himself does). Thus, for example, when a gas is placed in a box, the particles making up that gas tend to distribute evenly throughout the entire container indicating a high degree of entropy. Consciousness seems to arise only when firing patterns become significantly differentiated and non-synchronized within the neurological system. The central problem with the functionalist account is that it reifies the functional relation. Deleuze never ceases to denounce Kant and phenomenology because, he claims, it raises recognition and resemblance to the status of the ground of thought, effectively becoming an apologist for doxa and the State. It might sound as if this is merely a political or normative critique of the Image of Thought, gnashing its teeth at wanting things to be otherwise and therefore in strict denial of the facts, but in truth the issue is much more fundamental. Returning to Edelman’s wonderful metaphor, the key point not to be missed is that the final outcome of the interactions of the musicians connected by their gossamer strings is that the final outcome of coherent music is aleatory. The coordination of their respective styles and actions is punctuated throughout by all sorts of aleatory events and encounters that could have produced a very different outcome. While brains have a similar architecture, each brain is absolutely unique and individual, with synaptic connections and ongoing synaptic processes formative of new connections and abolishing old connections, that, as Leibniz would put it, reflect the entire universe from a particular point of view (we would have to add that that point of view is itself continuously transforming itself). The problem, then, with such transcendental approaches is that they reify the transcendental structures in a way that completely misses the creative outcome of the output. If Deleuze is so interested in aesthetics, then this isn’t because he has a particular pre-occupation of art or beauty, but because he discerns in artistic production something akin to the ontogeny of perception and cognition in a child and even the ontogeny of modes of sensibility among different species. The work of art speaks not to an instance of the transcendental aesthetic in the Kantian sense, where we already have universal a priori forms of time and space and the work of art is merely a synthesis of these structures along with empirical matter in the style of an idiosyncratic individual. No, for Deleuze the work of art is itself the genesis of an entirely new form of sensibility, an emergence out of chaos, the production of its own order. No doubt this notion of the transcendental as a field of aleatory genesis is missed because philosophers all too often privilege the standpoint of the adult and the “healthy”, ignoring childhood development and various brain and mental disorders. Information is not there at the outset, but rather is the result of an ontogeny. It is something that must be produced, created, or evented in an emergent process. http://larvalsubjects.wordpress.com/.../07/emergence/ Quote:  We can agree with both Noe and Metzinger that where there are no brains there is no consciousness, just as we can agree with the chemist that where there is no hydrogen or oxygen there is no water. The ontological question revolves around whether consciousness is exhausted by its neurological explanation or whether consciousness has powers and capacities of its own that while impossible without the neurological are nonetheless unique powers of its own. If consciousness has powers of its own, then it would be an object of its own. If not, then we would be warranted in excluding consciousness from our inventory of what is or what exists. With respect to this latter option, consciousness would merely be an effect and would not be a being in its own right. It’s important to emphasize here no substance dualism is being asserted here. In entertaining the hypothesis that consciousness is a distinct object in its own right, the point is not to claim that consciousness could exist independent of brains, that it is separable from brains, or that it has spooky powers at odds with its neurological substrate. I would argue that water is distinct as an object from hydrogen and oxygen or even the relation between hydrogen and oxygen. This is because water has powers that are found in neither hydrogen or oxygen, nor in a single molecule of H2O. For example, water can wet paper and slide about on a table, yet a single molecule of H2O does not have these powers. The powers of water are entirely consistent with those of atomic chemistry, but something new emerges when these atoms are linked together and when molecules of H2O are linked together. The question is whether or not something similar is the case with consciousness. Does the emergence of consciousness generate powers that cannot be found at the lower level stratum upon which it is based? That would be the question and would be determinative of whether or not things like subjects are themselves objects. http://larvalsubjects.wordpress.com/...cal-pluralism/ Quote:  Take the example of Lacanianism. As The Democracy of objects will make clear, I very much remain a Lacanian. However, for a long time I was just a Lacanian. By being “just a Lacanian” I mean that I believed that Lacanian theory provides us with a general theory of the social. Such a thesis might appear surprising to many who perhaps association psychoanalysis with psychology (ie, a discourse about individual minds), however we must remember that for Lacan, like Hume, psychology is, strictly speaking, impossible because the subject is constituted in the field of the Other. In other words, no social, no subject. Consequently, as Freud will argue in Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego, the ego is essentially constituted inter-subjectively, and psychoanalysis is every bit as much a theory of the social as it is a theory of the subject. Indeed, Lacan’s theory can be read as a theory of the clinical setting as opposed to a theory of mind (a point he endlessly repeats in his seminar). http://www.shaviro.com/Blog/?p=763 Quote:  Arguments for panpsychism come in many forms, and its adherents often contradict one another. But if there is a central strain to contemporary panpsychist argumentation, it is this. If we reject radical mind/body dualism, and accept materialism, physicalism, or any other form of monism, then we must face the question of \emph{how to explain} the indubitable existence of mind or mentality. I am using “monism” here in its widest possible sense; I define it to include, not just scientific physicalism (the doctrine that the world is composed entirely of mass-energy, or that it is reducible to the subatomic particles described by contemporary physics), but also any form of what might be called “immanentism” (the doctrine that the world is composed of something like Spinoza’s unique substance, or of Bergson’s multiple durations, or of “experience” as it is understood in William James’ “radical empiricism”, or indeed as pure multiplicity, or as an open collection of independent objects a la Graham Harman). In other words, any philosophy that rejects supernaturalism or mind/body dualism as a way to explain the existence of mentality, must find some naturalistic, or at least immanent, way to do so. I am trying to give as broad as possibile a definition of “mind” or “mentality” as well. This may be defined as consisting in cognition, and cognitive operations, of some sort; and, I would argue, in affectivity as well. But above all mentality consists in phenomenal experience, or of what analytic philosophers call “qualia”: my sensation of the redness or hardness of some particular object, or of pain or delight, or simply of being present in the world. Phenomenal experience is often conflated with consciousness, or the state of intentionality, being-aware-of; I have reservations about this identification, which I will get to later, but the rough equation may be accepted for the moment. Understood in any of these ways, mentality would seem to be an irreducible aspect of our own existence, at the very least — leaving open the question of what other beings might have it. The question nagging at philosophers is how to explain the seeming indubitability, or incorrigibility of phenomenal experience. (“Incorrigibility” is what Descartes bases his entire philosophy upon. Everything that I think may be false or mistaken; but the fact that I am thinking cannot be mistaken). Cartesian dualism is the great classical solution to this dilemma, of course. Descartes has been (rightly) criticized for hundreds of years for reifying the act or fact of thinking into the the form of the “I” as a thing-that-thinks, and for separating the thinking-mind from any notions of body, matter, or extension. But this doesn’t negate the urgency of his initial observation. Few of us are willing today to take Descartes’ dualist route, however. So the question becomes: how do we explain qualia, or phenomenal experience, or consciousness, or “inner” experience, on a materialist or monist basis? Modern thinkers have tended to favor either eliminativism or emergentism. Eliminativism is a reductionist thesis; it argues that qualia, consciousness, intentionality, and phenomenal experience are merely illusions, or linguistic misunderstandings, which disappear once we understand how neurological mechanisms operate on the physical level (one can find different versions of this position in Daniel Dennett, in Thomas Metzinger, and in the Churchlands). Emergentism argues that mentality is the epiphenomenal result of interacting physical processes that have attained a certain level of complexity, as is the case with the massive aggregations of neurons in our brains. Phenomenal experience emerges at some point in the course of evolution; it may be associated either with the existence of neurons and nervous systems in animals, or with some more complex development of the nervous system in organisms of sufficient complexity, or in vertebrates, or in mammals, or just in human beings. Both eliminativism and emergentism can be criticized, however, for just “explaining away” mentality, rather than actually explaining it. As Whitehead says, “philosophy destroys its usefulness when it indulges in brilliant feats of explaining away.” Eliminativism doesn’t account for mentality so much as it suggests that it is too trivial or illusory to even merit being accounted for; it ignores Whitehead’s insistence that “the red glow of the sunset should be as much part of nature as are the molecules and electrical waves by which men of science would explain the phenomenon.” Emergentism, for its part, can be accused of begging the question. It is one thing to say that certain physical properties emerge out of other physical properties (in Strawson’s example, a single molecule of H2O isn’t in itself wet). But it is another thing altogether, Strawson argues, to maintain that mentality, or experience, or phenomenality, can emerge from something that is entirely non-mental, non-experiential, and non-phenomenal. More generally, I think that it is worthwhile to challenge our almost reflexive belief, today, in the power of emergence or self-organization. (See my previous post, “Against Self-Organization”, for more discussion of this). It’s all too easy for “spontaneous emergence” or “self-organization” to be put into play as a catch-all explanation for things that cannot be explained any other way. The emergentist thesis threatens to violate Whitehead’s ontological principle, which is that “there is nothing which floats into the world from nowhere.” Theories of emergent self-organization may well be ways of illicitly reintroducing an idea of preprogrammed finality, or of a benevolent “invisible hand,” into our understanding of events, as Jean-Jacques Kupiec has recently suggested. http://www.shaviro.com/Blog/?p=935 http://thelastpsychiatrist.com/2006/..._unicorns.html http://thelastpsychiatrist.com/2009/...herbivore.html http://thelastpsychiatrist.com/2009/...ot_i.html#more http://thelastpsychiatrist.com/2010/...zophrenia.html (these are the most interesting and fun to read^) I have no thoughts on the OP's thought experiment because it seems very open and shut and wrapped up neatly with a bow. Forgive the walls of text and probably irrelevant links; I'm composing this at stop lights on the way home. I will engage eventually, promsies. Spoiler! bjorn_248 Bumbling Buffoon Join Date: Jul 2008 Location: THF IRC Posts: 5,296 #93 02-19-2014  I feel like a douchebag posting here without having read anything but the first post, but I skimmed it and it didn't seem like something fun, so I'll just take the title of douchebag and move on. By asking this question are you asking us to define/explore personal identity? What am "I" and what do you think "you" is? If you want a bland dry answer to the actual question, I think if you split a human being in two, they lose their identity, you kill them...so, neither side. If you want an exploration into this age old philosophical question of personal identity, well...take metaphysics? Errare humanum est Atiemark <3 Mac Encoding Render Farm IRC Server ENCODING PROGRAM PM 1 authentic experience Join Date: May 2007 Location: ﻿ ﻿ Posts: 12,409 #94 02-19-2014 No. davobrosia. This thread is about how a dualist reconciles the physical division of the brain. Nothing more. That is all I want to talk about. Quote:  Originally Posted by Cursed Lemon Here's the problem - I am not a means to the end of rape culture, I am the end. I am literally the termination of this whole ordeal. here's the problem PM 1 authentic experience Join Date: May 2007 Location: ﻿ ﻿ Posts: 12,409 #95 03-04-2014 ... it would be a mistake to conceive of the psychical and the physical aspects of matter as two aspects absolutely distinct. Viewing a thing from the outside, considering its relation of action and reaction with other things, it appears as matter. Viewing it from the inside, looking at its immediate character as feeling, it appears as consciousness. These two views are combined when we remember that mechanical laws are nothing but acquired habits, like all the regularities of the mind, including the tendency to take habits, itself; and that this action of habit is nothing but generalization, and generalization is nothing but the spreading of feelings. — Charles Sanders Peirce tl;dr: cl is a property dualist Quote:  Originally Posted by Cursed Lemon Here's the problem - I am not a means to the end of rape culture, I am the end. I am literally the termination of this whole ordeal. here's the problem Last edited by PM; 03-05-2014 at 12:18 AM. Cursed Lemon Darren Helm's Bitch Join Date: Aug 2005 Location: Location: Location: Posts: 14,766 #96 03-05-2014  I guess I don't disagree? But I don't feel like that paragraph is really saying anything on its own. Elmo <3 davobrosia Ask Z for$50
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#97
03-05-2014

Quote:
 Originally Posted by Cursed Lemon I don't understand what sort of methodological breakdown he's alluding to in the first link.

Quote:
 If you think you’ve ever experienced a nicotine fit you’ve never understood phenomenology or its methodological requirements. You can’t experience the organic causes of anything taking place in your body and never have. Organic causes can only be understood in the natural attitude and from a third person perspective that correlates the descriptions of people with what’s chemically, and through the use of brain scans being detected in bodies. No one has ever experienced their brain.
It refers to the phenomenological method of bracketing.

Quote:
 Originally Posted by http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/phenomenology/ In Ideas I Husserl presented phenomenology with a transcendental turn. In part this means that Husserl took on the Kantian idiom of “transcendental idealism”, looking for conditions of the possibility of knowledge, or of consciousness generally, and arguably turning away from any reality beyond phenomena. But Husserl's transcendental turn also involved his discovery of the method of epoché (from the Greek skeptics' notion of abstaining from belief). We are to practice phenomenology, Husserl proposed, by “bracketing” the question of the existence of the natural world around us. We thereby turn our attention, in reflection, to the structure of our own conscious experience. Our first key result is the observation that each act of consciousness is a consciousness of something, that is, intentional, or directed toward something. Consider my visual experience wherein I see a tree across the square. In phenomenological reflection, we need not concern ourselves with whether the tree exists: my experience is of a tree whether or not such a tree exists. However, we do need to concern ourselves with how the object is meant or intended. I see a Eucalyptus tree, not a Yucca tree; I see that object as a Eucalyptus, with a certain shape, with bark stripping off, etc. Thus, bracketing the tree itself, we turn our attention to my experience of the tree, and specifically to the content or meaning in my experience. This tree-as-perceived Husserl calls the noema or noematic sense of the experience. ... In Being and Time (1927) Heidegger unfurled his rendition of phenomenology. For Heidegger, we and our activities are always “in the world”, our being is being-in-the-world, so we do not study our activities by bracketing the world, rather we interpret our activities and the meaning things have for us by looking to our contextual relations to things in the world. Indeed, for Heidegger, phenomenology resolves into what he called “fundamental ontology”. We must distinguish beings from their being, and we begin our investigation of the meaning of being in our own case, examining our own existence in the activity of “Dasein” (that being whose being is in each case my own). Heidegger resisted Husserl's neo-Cartesian emphasis on consciousness and subjectivity, including how perception presents things around us. By contrast, Heidegger held that our more basic ways of relating to things are in practical activities like hammering, where the phenomenology reveals our situation in a context of equipment and in being-with-others.
Spoiler!
PM
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Posts: 12,409
#98
03-05-2014

funny thing is that you do disagree. (hilarious that you never would have guessed it. gr8 thread, btw).

despite your best intentions you're still a dualist

since you've already described yourself as a physicalist and you've already described cs. as emergent i can say w certainty that ur view is in fact at odds with the view laid out above. i mean that the quote i put up there which you don't really get talks about the phenomenological or "inner side" of matter, (see davo's post above in this connection) which is something you cannot even really conceive of in the very first place what with your physicalist disposition and all.
Quote:
 Originally Posted by Cursed Lemon Here's the problem - I am not a means to the end of rape culture, I am the end. I am literally the termination of this whole ordeal.
here's the problem

Last edited by PM; 03-05-2014 at 08:52 AM.
PM
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Posts: 12,409
#99
03-05-2014

let me try to clarify ur view just 4 shits n giggles

There is only one kind of substance in the physical and biological and mental world, namely, the material substance. However, when organisms develop complex nervous systems with brains, the property of being conscious (or of signifying something to an interpreter) _emerges_ as an irreducible but still natural phenomenon. That a material sign (e.g. pixels; or like my scratchings which infrequently pass off as handwriting, etc.) has intentional content is not intrinsic to the sign (sign carrier) butt is derived from the _emergent_ conscious ascription of meaning or signification to the sign when 'decoded' by an external agent.

Quote:
 Originally Posted by Cursed Lemon Here's the problem - I am not a means to the end of rape culture, I am the end. I am literally the termination of this whole ordeal.
here's the problem

Last edited by PM; 03-05-2014 at 09:03 AM.
Cursed Lemon
Darren Helm's Bitch
Join Date: Aug 2005
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Posts: 14,766
#100
03-05-2014
 The only "inner" side of matter I acknowledge is the Kantian/Cartesian sort - that is, my specific inability to know it based on the condition of being an observer through a potentially flawed medium, not because consciousness is made of fairy dust. Elmo <3

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