Consciousness - The End of Materialism?

Discussions on the philosophical foundations, assumptions, and implications of science, including the natural sciences.

Consciousness - The End of Materialism?

Postby skakos on November 24th, 2012, 1:23 pm 

Self-awareness is defined as being aware of oneself, including one's traits, feelings, and behaviors. Neuroscientists have believed that three brain regions are critical for self-awareness: the insular cortex, the anterior cingulate cortex, and the medial prefrontal cortex.
However, a research team led by the University of Iowa has challenged this theory by showing that self-awareness is more a product of a diffuse patchwork of pathways in the brain -- including other regions -- rather than confined to specific areas.
The conclusions came from a rare opportunity to study a person (denoted as Patient ‘R') with extensive brain damage to the three regions believed critical for self-awareness [source: http://esciencenews.com/articles/2012/08/22/self.awareness.humans.more.complex.diffuse.previously.thought, http://www.foxnews.com/health/2012/08/23/brain-damaged-patient-r-challenges-theories-self-awareness/].

This is another blow to materialists thinking that consciousness is located in a specific sections of the brain…

As Near Death Experiences (NDE), more and more evidence are added to the arsenal of those who believe that consciousness could be the thing required for modern science to perform a massive paradigm shift and start thinking more spiritually, as it did once upon a time ago…

[Consciousness and the End of Materialism: http://harmonia-philosophica.blogspot.gr/2010/08/human-consciousness-and-end-of.html]
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Re: Consciousness - The End of Materialism?

Postby skakos on November 24th, 2012, 8:47 pm 

Imagine how a TV works. You see images coming out of it. When it breaks you can see no images in it. You suppose that it is the TV which procudes these images. It seems logical, especially since you see "activity" inside the TV when it transmits those images.

Right?

Wrong.
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Re: Consciousness - The End of Materialism?

Postby DragonFly on November 24th, 2012, 9:27 pm 

The OP has two disjoint portions. Mentioning brain and one's self indicates that consciousness is of one (brain), as a brain process, and about one (self), a view, making for something to precede consciousness.

The NDE part doesn't really indicate that 'consciousnes is all'.
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Re: Consciousness - The End of Materialism?

Postby DragonFly on November 24th, 2012, 9:48 pm 

skakos wrote:Imagine how a TV works. You see images coming out of it. When it breaks you can see no images in it. You suppose that it is the TV which procudes these images. It seems logical, especially since you see "activity" inside the TV when it transmits those images.

Right?

Wrong.


Right, for reality is as an animation, having no real motion (just apparent). There is no intrinsic One of any absolute something, nor can there be the absolute None. Reality is therefore relative to both of these impossible states.
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Re: Consciousness - The End of Materialism?

Postby skakos on November 24th, 2012, 9:50 pm 

DragonFly wrote:The OP has two disjoint portions. Mentioning brain and one's self indicates that consciousness is of one (brain), as a brain process, and about one (self), a view, making for something to precede consciousness.

The NDE part doesn't really indicate that 'consciousnes is all'.


The first story I post indicates that what most people think - that specific areas of the brain are related to consciousness - is not true. Consciousness seems to be related to something which transends the whole brain. NDEs on the other hand prove also that the brain is not all there is - even if it does not work at all we continue to be conscious.
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Re: Consciousness - The End of Materialism?

Postby DragonFly on November 24th, 2012, 10:04 pm 

skakos wrote:
DragonFly wrote:The OP has two disjoint portions. Mentioning brain and one's self indicates that consciousness is of one (brain), as a brain process, and about one (self), a view, making for something to precede consciousness.

The NDE part doesn't really indicate that 'consciousnes is all'.


The first story I post indicates that what most people think - that specific areas of the brain are related to consciousness - is not true. Consciousness seems to be related to something which transends the whole brain. NDEs on the other hand prove also that the brain is not all there is - even if it does not work at all we continue to be conscious.


No brain, no consciousness; anesthesia gas to the brain cells, no consciousness; fainting or a blow to the head, no consciousness. Consciousness is thus localized to a brain process,not to mention that brain analysis takes some small amount of time, making for consciousness to be last, not first. It is only a secondary matter of what brain areas are more involved or primarily involved in the process of generating consciousness of what experiences are going on.

'Near death' isn't death and so consciousness can still occur. After death, consciousness is gone, though, for good.
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Re: Consciousness - The End of Materialism?

Postby skakos on November 24th, 2012, 10:20 pm 

DragonFly wrote:No brain, no consciousness; anesthesia gas to the brain cells, no consciousness; fainting or a blow to the head, no consciousness. Consciousness is thus localized to a brain process,not to mention that brain analysis takes some small amount of time, making for consciousness to be last, not first. It is only a secondary matter of what brain areas are more involved or primarily involved in the process of generating consciousness of what experiences are going on.

'Near death' isn't death and so consciousness can still occur. After death, consciousness is gone, though, for good.


Not so easy. NDE refers to states where the brain is "dead" - i.e. no signal at all. No materialistic theory can explain how this can happen.

And the "no brain no consciousness" argument means what? Broken TV, no images. Does that mean that the TV generates the images you see?
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Re: Consciousness - The End of Materialism?

Postby skakos on December 7th, 2012, 9:11 pm 

DragonFly wrote:No brain, no consciousness; anesthesia gas to the brain cells, no consciousness; fainting or a blow to the head, no consciousness. Consciousness is thus localized to a brain process,not to mention that brain analysis takes some small amount of time, making for consciousness to be last, not first. It is only a secondary matter of what brain areas are more involved or primarily involved in the process of generating consciousness of what experiences are going on.


But that is exactly the point. There are cases where the humans were not only unconscious but brain dead... and still they were able to "see" around.
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Re: Consciousness - The End of Materialism?

Postby DragonFly on December 8th, 2012, 12:15 am 

Dead is dead; near dead is not dead. It takes a while to die. Those with NDEs did not die; they lived.
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Re: Consciousness - The End of Materialism?

Postby neuro on December 9th, 2012, 7:39 pm 

skakos wrote:This is another blow to materialists thinking that consciousness is located in a specific sections of the brain…

Materialists that think that consciousness is located in a specific sections of the brain are simply stuck at some fifty years ago. No scientists have believed this for the last decades…

skakos wrote:The first story I post indicates that what most people think - that specific areas of the brain are related to consciousness - is not true.

This looks better (most people, because most people don't know much about neurosciences), and "specific areas are related to", which is much better than "consciousness as a specific location".
skakos wrote:Consciousness seems to be related to something which transends the whole brain.

This is quite a jump, don't you agree?
The whole brain is an extremely complex system, which works in parallel and according to innumerable paradigms; most higher functions are influenced by most areas of the cortex, in different ways and to different extents. So is consciousness (which is a very little useful catch-all word, by the way)
skakos wrote:NDEs on the other hand prove also that the brain is not all there is - even if it does not work at all we continue to be conscious.

In vegetative coma, even when considered irreversible, the brain is not DEAD. The EEG is not flat. Most of the cortex may not be working; when it is dead, it is dead. If it begins to work again, that means it was not dead.
In several patients, considered "irreversible vegetative coma", signs of reaction to external stimuli have been seen in the form of "evoked potentials", which means that not only the brain was not dead, but it was also working, though in an inadequate way.

I think all this raises a lot of bioethical questions, rather than answering your philosophical one...
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Re: Consciousness - The End of Materialism?

Postby skakos on December 15th, 2012, 5:08 pm 

DragonFly wrote:Dead is dead; near dead is not dead. It takes a while to die. Those with NDEs did not die; they lived.


You miss the point. Materialists claim that "no working brain" => "no consciousness". This is what needs to be answered here.
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Re: Consciousness - The End of Materialism?

Postby DragonFly on December 15th, 2012, 11:07 pm 

skakos wrote:
DragonFly wrote:Dead is dead; near dead is not dead. It takes a while to die. Those with NDEs did not die; they lived.


You miss the point. Materialists claim that "no working brain" => "no consciousness". This is what needs to be answered here.


If they didn't die they are not dead and so the brain was still working.


Consciousness has been localized to the brain, as a brain process, one that correlates to what the brain’s neurons have just finished analyzing, that is, it corresponds to the neurological state. (‘it’ from ‘bit’)

No brain: no consciousness. A faint, anesthesia, or a blow to the head: no consciousness.

Conclusion: the brain makes for consciousness, the potential for that ‘emergent’ property having been potential in the qualified brain’s makeup all along.

Consciousness is felt to be a subject, never an object in itself, but, for, loosely, when we become aware of our awareness. In consciousness, we witness/observe/report the objects of experience that float on its stream. Consciousness is the sea in which we ‘see’; it is the ‘water’, not what the water carries as what is on the mind at the moment.

The results of the subconscious brain’s analysis appear in consciousness 200-300 milliseconds after the brain has finished its analysis, for this takes some time, as we would expect. Consciousness is last, not first. Perhaps a snail has a limited smudge of consciousness in which sensations surface of just warmth and cold, light and darkness.

We know for sure that consciousness is of the brain because we can introduce molecules of xenon or isoflurane gas into brain cell, this being anesthesia, and turn off consciousness, when the anesthetic dissolves in the oily regions of the neuron microtubules.. So, consciousness has no independent existence. The brain then stays active, but it does not produce any consciousness until the anesthesia is taken away. The same kind of result occurs when we faint; consciousness is therefore surely of the brain.

Our environment, inside and out, is symbolically represented in the brain, our memories and cross-associations recognizing and remembering the meaning of what we sense, think, feel, and witness in the unified experience of living life as a being. We all know how wonderful and quick the brain is, it nearly instantly processing visuals, sounds, touches, tastes, and odours on into higher and deeper systems. It searches memory very quickly for what is known, such as what the letters and words of this paragraph mean, forming an abundance of further thoughts and actions based thereupon, and so forth, and so on, one hundred billions brain cells winking and blinking and connecting, making their results known consciously, at the last, and continuing on in a train of thoughts ever becoming and arising in a competition for attention.

Brain cells (neurons) have a hundred billion connections among them (or is it trillions?), their ‘firing’ depending on their inputs. Electricity carries the ‘message’ through the length of the cell to the gap (synapse), where the message turns to chemical neurotransmitters, to take it to another neuron, wherein it becomes electrical again, and so forth. Your brain neurons have been arranging their connections all your life; it is what you have become, molded by your experience and learning. You are a bio-electrical-chemical being whose will depends on what has become you.

The brain is amazing and can sort 100 million bits of information in an instant. Consciousness must play an active role in the functioning of the brain, for both had to have evolved together—they are intertwined in a process. Consciousness, being as a global physical, must still yet tie into the separated physicals; so, how is consciousness mediated? It must be at the synaptic cleft that what we call ‘mind’ qualitatively meets the brain proper. Here is where the neuron fires or not; here is where a neuron meets other neurons; this must be where data turns into thought. Whatever triggers these switches produces thoughts and feelings in consciousness. This map is the territory.
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Re: Consciousness - The End of Materialism?

Postby skakos on December 16th, 2012, 3:38 pm 

You cannot make science with "perhaps".
The data/evidence you now have is this: a zero-electrical acticity brain does have consciousness. This is what you have to explain. And the "it must have some activity we do not see" is not an answer.
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Re: Consciousness - The End of Materialism?

Postby DragonFly on December 16th, 2012, 3:54 pm 

skakos wrote:You cannot make science with "perhaps".
The data/evidence you now have is this: a zero-electrical acticity brain does have consciousness. This is what you have to explain. And the "it must have some activity we do not see" is not an answer.


We don't know that zero-electrical was the right measure nor if it is the full measure. The brain makes for consciousness; we can probe it and make things appear in consciousness. Near-death is not dead, not ever. Are you trying for a 'consciousness is all' notion?
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Re: Consciousness - The End of Materialism?

Postby skakos on December 23rd, 2012, 11:51 am 

DragonFly wrote:
skakos wrote:You cannot make science with "perhaps".
The data/evidence you now have is this: a zero-electrical acticity brain does have consciousness. This is what you have to explain. And the "it must have some activity we do not see" is not an answer.


We don't know that zero-electrical was the right measure nor if it is the full measure. The brain makes for consciousness; we can probe it and make things appear in consciousness. Near-death is not dead, not ever. Are you trying for a 'consciousness is all' notion?


Now that the result does not suit your agenda, you are in the "we do not know" / "maybe it is not the right measure" mode. But ask your self: would you ever accept the same line of argument from the other side, e.g. from a theist who tries to prove the existence of consciousness?

If consciousness is based on matter, then you must surely have something more than the "we do not know", right?
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Re: Consciousness - The End of Materialism?

Postby DragonFly on December 23rd, 2012, 2:27 pm 

skakos wrote:If consciousness is based on matter, then you must surely have something more than the "we do not know", right?


Consciousness has already been localized to the brain since affecting the brain affects consciousness. It's the mechanics that's still under study.
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Re: Consciousness - The End of Materialism?

Postby skakos on December 23rd, 2012, 3:29 pm 

DragonFly wrote:
skakos wrote:If consciousness is based on matter, then you must surely have something more than the "we do not know", right?


Consciousness has already been localized to the brain since affecting the brain affects consciousness. It's the mechanics that's still under study.


Did I not mention the counter-example of a TV?
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Re: Consciousness - The End of Materialism?

Postby owleye on December 23rd, 2012, 8:21 pm 

skakos wrote:
DragonFly wrote:
skakos wrote:If consciousness is based on matter, then you must surely have something more than the "we do not know", right?


Consciousness has already been localized to the brain since affecting the brain affects consciousness. It's the mechanics that's still under study.


Did I not mention the counter-example of a TV?


I suppose I should look up your example, but I'm guessing what it says is that a television is an audio-video divice in which a world can be portrayed by other than consciousness. (Well, maybe you think the TV is endowed with consciousness from the way you responded.) You might just as well have gone to the extreme of "The Matrix".

In any case, I would think the more important consideration is how one conceives of what is portrayed by some technology. To drive this point home, I would ask you where you think a movie is located when it s played from a DVD using a DVD player on a TV screen/speaker or other a/v device. Surely the movie isn't on the DVD. Nor is it on or in the TV. Any language we use regarding the movie relative to the TV or DVD misleading attributes the movie to them. The movie is always going to be within us as an experience we are having or remember having or as a desire to experience (or not). From this kind of reasoning, one might conclude that the movie isn't in the brain either. However, to extend that argument one would have to adopt a dualist theory of mind and body. In my ontology, consciousness is but a manifestation of some brain state, and is thereby physical, so it is appropriate to say that the movie is located in the brain.

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Re: Consciousness - The End of Materialism?

Postby skakos on December 24th, 2012, 6:07 pm 

No. Actually it is much more simple:

When a TV breaks, then the image is gone. Does that mean that the TV generates the image?

Don't you see that this line of reasoning leads ut to mistakes?
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Re: Consciousness - The End of Materialism?

Postby neuro on December 27th, 2012, 5:45 am 

skakos wrote:When a TV breaks, then the image is gone. Does that mean that the TV generates the image?


Yes it does.
Strictly speaking and properly speaking.
It transforms an electromagnetic signal into a set of color-changing pixels (image) thereby generating the image.

If you talk about the conceptual content, the TV program, the question may become more complex.
But the image actually IS generated by the TV set.

I think your example (argument) is circular.
1) You know that an "intellectual" process "generates" a meaningful series of images (possibly with the aid of technological means, or by hand, as in cartoons) and the TV set is simply used to display (reproduce) them.
2) You assume that the brain (matter) can only perform mechanical computation
3) You assum that any intellectual, transcendent and conscious process cannot be generated by a biological system without an intervening EXTERNAL metaphysical principle
4) you set up your metaphor: brain => TV set, spirit => generator of meaningful series of images
5) you end up with your demonstration that the relation of brain to consciousness is analogous to the relation of a TV set to TV programs (which is not a demonstration but your premise / assumption).

Maybe we had better get back to the problem of whether and how a brain may generate consciousnness, instead of playing with TVs...
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Re: Consciousness - The End of Materialism?

Postby skakos on December 27th, 2012, 2:13 pm 

I do not think it is easy to discuss consciousness without example of metaphors, since our current knowledge of consciousness is far from complete and cannot allow us to have a solid ground for debate. All scientific papers on consciousness are just hypotheses about the existence of correlations between consciousness and the brain.

In the example of the TV, what I was trying to say was that the TV is just a transmission medium and NOT a production medium. And based on the data we now have on the huma brain and consciousness, one cannot see the difference between the two possibilities.

My reference to the NDEs was for a specific reason also: if consciousness can continue without the functioning of the brain as we know it, then it is more likely that we have a TV case on our hands...
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Re: Consciousness - The End of Materialism?

Postby neuro on December 28th, 2012, 7:35 am 

skakos wrote:
I do not think it is easy to discuss consciousness without example of metaphors, since our current knowledge of consciousness is far from complete and cannot allow us to have a solid ground for debate.

I hope you admit than in proposing a metaphor you already assume a perspective and an answer...
A metaphor is just an effective way to convey your perception of a problem, by isolating the aspects that - IN YOUR OPINION - are most relevant.
All scientific papers on consciousness are just hypotheses about the existence of correlations between consciousness and the brain.

The main point in scientific papers are not hypotheses: they generally report how you can affect the various aspects of consciousness by interfering with brain functioning (note that in your metaphor of the TV set you cannot modify the images and/or the story or the message by playing with the TV set - conversely you can do that by stimulating or inhibiting specific cerebral areas). Hypotheses just follow.

Also, I believe that this sentence of yours is maliciously misleading: the existence of correlations between consciousness and the brain is not just an hypothesis, and I hope you are well aware of that.
The correlations are not complete with regard to several aspects of consciousness, especially the ones which are most difficult to test in some objective way, but the general correlation of consciousness with the concerted activity of associative cortical areas is quite more than a “hypothesis”...

In the example of the TV, what I was trying to say was that the TV is just a transmission medium and NOT a production medium.

I hope you trust me if I say I got that.

And based on the data we now have on the human brain and consciousness, one cannot see the difference between the two possibilities.

Then, one cannot see whether the TV metaphor is a valid one. As a consequence, it has no relevance to the argument.

My reference to the NDEs was for a specific reason also: if consciousness can continue without the functioning of the brain as we know it, then it is more likely that we have a TV case on our hands...

If consciousness WERE TO continue. Actually, there is not a single solid datum indicating this is the case.
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Re: Consciousness - The End of Materialism?

Postby DragonFly on December 28th, 2012, 8:45 pm 

neuro wrote:If consciousness WERE TO continue. Actually, there is not a single solid datum indicating this is the case.


True, for the NDE people were out of it for a time, but they did not die.


Brief explanations of pseudo-science:

OBEs/UFO Abductions — These are very lucid dream adventures during sleep paralysis and seem very real, so much so that the experiencers will say that they actually happened.

NDEs — Similar to OBEs but with added effects such as seeing a light in a tunnel, which is due to the visual cortex and neural stripes. Calming feeling due to endorphin release.

Astral Planes — Ever talked of but never shown to be. Hardly addressable.

Soul —Never found. Not even addressable.

Illusion/all is consciousness/virtual reality/simulation — Real atoms are shown to be doing the work.

See dead people, ghosts, aliens — Not addressable. Delusion suspected.

Astrology — Our patternicity identifies connect-the-dot pictures from stars, but the stars are far from being at the same distance as any kind of real grouping.

General Gobbledygook — Such as “The etheric force occurs via the astral plane.” Not shown.

Untestable hypotheses — Can never be shown.
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Re: Consciousness - The End of Materialism?

Postby DragonFly on December 28th, 2012, 8:48 pm 

OBEs AND NDEs

NDE tunnels of light and such
Can be explained by neurology,
And OBEs by a condition called sleep paralysis.

They can also be chemically induced,
Resulting in full blown episodes.

Neither, then, are proof of a beyond,
But of an altered brain state.

I had several OBEs.

In the first one,
I noted that the scene
Looked as real as real could be,
But I did nothing further
Than to float around the bedroom,
Full of amazement.

I figured that the dream model of reality
Is the same one that is employed
When we are awake.

During the second OBE,
I rearranged the items on my end table,
Even knocking one item off.

All still felt totally real to the touch and all that
And I was sure that I would see the evidence
Of the end table results later when I fully awoke;
But when I really awoke
I saw that nothing had been moved.

I also found that I could awake
From dreams anytime
By clenching my whole body,
And so during the third OBE
I luckily found myself in a kind of halfway state
In which my dream-arms
Were seen to be fiddling with the end table stuff
While I could also see my real arms
Yet lying beside me, unmoving.

Another time,
I kept dream music playing after I awoke.

I guess the moral is that
Sometimes a virtual dream reality
Cannot be told apart from real.

I was so sure that I was out of my body,
But one must also remember
That memory and imagination
Often images scenes from above (try it).

It is also the case that people of different religions
See different religious symbols during NDE’s,
An indication that the phenomenon
Occurs within the mind, not without.

OBE’s are easily induced by drugs.
The fact that there are receptor sites in the brain
For such artificially produced chemicals means
That there are naturally produced chemicals
In the brain that,
Under certain circumstances
(The stress of an trauma
Or an accident, for example),
Can induce any or all of the experiences
Typically associated with an NDE or OBE.

NDE’s are then nothing more than wild trips
Induced by the trauma of almost dying.

Lack of oxygen produces increased activity
Though disinhibition—
Mental modes that give rise to consciousness.

What about the experience of a tunnel in an NDE?
Well, the visual cortex is on the back of the brain
Where information from the retina is processed.

Lack of oxygen, plus drugs generated,
Can interfere with the normal rate
Of firing by nerve cells in this area.

When this occurs ‘stripes’ of neuronal activity
Move across the visual cortex,
Which is interpreted by the brain
As concentric rings or spirals.
These spirals may be ‘seen’ as a tunnel.
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Re: Consciousness - The End of Materialism?

Postby skakos on January 4th, 2013, 3:17 pm 

I cannot even think where to begin. It wouldn't be nice by me to start copy-pasting hunderds of pages from "Science and the Near-Death Experience: How Consciousness Survives Death" (by Chris Carter) to make you understand how wrong you are... He explains all the things you mention here. Do you honestly believe that the cases catalogued a genuine NDEs are induced by... lets say drugs? Or that people with flat encephalogram are people who suffer from... lack of oxygen? This is you BEST shot?
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Re: Consciousness - The End of Materialism?

Postby moranity on January 4th, 2013, 4:14 pm 

there are indeed one or two documented cases where people remember events that occured during apparent episodes of no brain activity, these occurances are verified by reliable witnesses, but these cases are very rare, i can only recal one.
this one case was a woman who underwent a brain operation during which her brain was chilled until brain activity was unmeasurable. she can recall certain events that occured when she was in this state which have been verified by the medical staff.
other options are available to explain such phenomena, not just an immortal soul
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Re: Consciousness - The End of Materialism?

Postby DragonFly on January 4th, 2013, 5:52 pm 

skakos wrote:I cannot even think where to begin.


We could make up that there are consciousnesses floating around waiting to be attached to those not yet conceived and born, as like "near-birth experiences".
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Re: Consciousness - The End of Materialism?

Postby Gregorygregg1 on January 4th, 2013, 6:09 pm 

skakos wrote:Imagine how a TV works. You see images coming out of it. When it breaks you can see no images in it. You suppose that it is the TV which procudes these images. It seems logical, especially since you see "activity" inside the TV when it transmits those images.


I cannot prove the existence of my consciousness. But I see it much as you describe...poured into the vessel of this body. Consciousness, as I understand it is awareness of the self. The self of which I am aware is Life. This vessel does not contain my consciousness, but is a means for its expression, just as is your television. The problem with humanity is that we mostly see ourselves as the television.
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Re: Consciousness - The End of Materialism?

Postby skakos on January 5th, 2013, 1:30 pm 

DragonFly wrote:
skakos wrote:I cannot even think where to begin.


We could make up that there are consciousnesses floating around waiting to be attached to those not yet conceived and born, as like "near-birth experiences".


We could.

As I see it there is a number of possibilities:

1. Brain creates consciousness.
2. Brain is a filter to an invisible field of consciousness floating around.
3. Brain is a receiver of an invisible field of consciousness floating around.

Everything we see is compatible with all 3 options.
The immaterial essence of "thought" makes options 2 and 3 more reliable.
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skakos
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Re: Consciousness - The End of Materialism?

Postby skakos on January 5th, 2013, 1:31 pm 

Gregorygregg1 wrote:
skakos wrote:Imagine how a TV works. You see images coming out of it. When it breaks you can see no images in it. You suppose that it is the TV which procudes these images. It seems logical, especially since you see "activity" inside the TV when it transmits those images.


I cannot prove the existence of my consciousness. But I see it much as you describe...poured into the vessel of this body. Consciousness, as I understand it is awareness of the self. The self of which I am aware is Life. This vessel does not contain my consciousness, but is a means for its expression, just as is your television. The problem with humanity is that we mostly see ourselves as the television.


The problem is that we see our selved too much like a machine.

But we are not. Not in the way most people think.
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