Definition of phenomenal consciousness

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Definition of phenomenal consciousness

Postby Dave_C on February 1st, 2015, 5:36 pm 

I’ve seen a number of discussions regarding the definition of "consciousness" and it seems to me there's a loose definition being used. This thread is strictly an attempt to provide a definition of phenomenal consciousness. My goal here is only to produce a definition that people can understand, agree on and refer back to.

In his paper, “Facing up to the problem of consciousness”, Chalmers breaks up consciousness into 2 groups. The first are objectively observable. He calls these things “phenomena” which Chalmers labels as “easy”. We should all be able to agree on what is being observing when it comes to these phenomena and they should be accessible to the normal methods of science. Chalmers states:

The easy problems of consciousness include those of explaining the following phenomena:
• the ability to discriminate, categorize, and react to environmental stimuli;
• the integration of information by a cognitive system;
• the reportability of mental states;
• the ability of a system to access its own internal states;
• the focus of attention;
• the deliberate control of behavior;
• the difference between wakefulness and sleep.

All of these phenomena are associated with the notion of consciousness. For example, one sometimes says that a mental state is conscious when it is verbally reportable, or when it is internally accessible. Sometimes a system is said to be conscious of some information when it has the ability to react on the basis of that information, or, more strongly, when it attends to that information, or when it can integrate that information and exploit it in the sophisticated control of behavior. We sometimes say that an action is conscious precisely when it is deliberate. Often, we say that an organism is conscious as another way of saying that it is awake.


Chalmers then quotes Nagel, “What is it like to be a bat?”:

The really hard problem of consciousness is the problem of experience. When we think and perceive, there is a whir of information-processing, but there is also a subjective aspect. As Nagel (1974) has put it, there is something it is like to be a conscious organism. This subjective aspect is experience. When we see, for example, we experience visual sensations: the felt quality of redness, the experience of dark and light, the quality of depth in a visual field. Other experiences go along with perception in different modalities: the sound of a clarinet, the smell of mothballs. Then there are bodily sensations, from pains to orgasms; mental images that are conjured up internally; the felt quality of emotion, and the experience of a stream of conscious thought. What unites all of these states is that there is something it is like to be in them. All of them are states of experience.


In his book “The Conscious Mind”, Chalmers takes a slightly different tact and instead of breaking up consciousness into easy and hard phenomena, he calls them psychological consciousness and phenomenal consciousness (p-consciousness for short) respectively. His book is much more thorough and worth referring to. For p-consciousness, Chalmers lists a number of different “experiences” as follows:

Visual experiences. Among the many varieties of visual experience, color sensations stand out as the paradigm examples of conscious experience, due to their pure, seemingly ineffable qualitative nature. … Why should it feel like that? Why should it feel like anything at all? …

Other aspects of visual experience include the experience of shape, of size, of brightness and of darkness. A particularly subtle aspect is the experience of depth. … Certainly there is an intellectual story one can tell about how binocular vision allows information from each eye to be consolidated into information about distances, thus enabling more sophisticated control of action, but somehow this causal story does not reveal the way the experience is felt. Why that change in processing should be accompanied by such a remaking of my experience was mysterious to me as a ten-year-old, and is still a source of wonder today.

Auditory experiences. In some ways, sounds are even stranger than visual images. The structure of images usually corresponds to the structure of the world in a straightforward way, but sounds can seem quite independent. …

Musical experience is perhaps the richest aspect of auditory experience, although the experience of speech must be close. Music is capable of washing over and completely absorbing us, surrounding us in a way that a visual field can surround us but in which auditory experiences usually do not. …

Tactile experiences. Textures provide another of the richest quality spaces that we experience: think of the feel of velvet, and contrast tit to the texcture of cold metal, or a clammy hand, or a stubbly chin. …

Olfactory experiences. Think of the musty smell of an old wardrobe, the stench of rotting garbage, the whiff of newly mowngrass, the warm aroma of freshly baked bread. Smell is in some ways the most mysterious of all the senses due to the rich, intangible, indescribable nature of smell sensations. … It seems arbitrary that a given sort of molecule should give rise to this sort of sensation, but give rise it does.

Taste experiences. Psychophysical investigations tell us that there are only four independent dimensions of taste perception: sweet, sour bitter, and salt. But this four-dimensional space combines with our sense of smell to produce a great variety of possible experiences…

Experiences of hot and cold. An oppressively hot, humid day and a frosty winder’s day produce strikingly different qualitative experiences. Think also fo the heat sensations on one’s skin from being close to a fire, and the hot-cold sensation that one gets from touching ultra cold ice.

Pain. Pain is a paradigm example of conscious experience, beloved by philosophers. Perhaps this is because pains form a very distinctive class of qualitative experiences, and are difficult to map directly onto any structure in the world or in the body, although they are usually associated with some part of the body. … There are a great variety of pain experiences from shooting pains and fierce burns through sharp pricks to dull aches.

Other bodily sensations. Pains are only the most salient kind of sensations associated with particular parts of the body. Others include headaches … hunger pangs, itches, ticles and the experience associated with the need to urinate. …

Mental imagery. Moving ever inward, toward experiences that are not associated with particular objects in the environment or the body but athat are in some sense generated internally, we come to mental images. There is often a rich phenomenology associated with visual images conjured up in one’s imagination, though not nearly as detailed as those derived from direct visual perception. …

Conscious thought. Some of the things we think and believe do not have any particular qualitative feel associated with them, but many do. This applies particularly to explicit, occurent thoughts that one thinks to oneself, and to various thoughts that affect one’s stream of consciousness. …

Emotions. Emotions often have distinctive experiences associated with them. The sparkle of a happy mood, the weariness of a deep depression, the red-hot glow of a rush of anger, the melancholy of regret: all of these can affect conscious experiences profoundly, although in a much less specific way than localized experiences such as sensations. …

… Think of the rush of pleasure one feels when one gets a joke, another example is the feeling of tension one gets when watching a suspence movie, or when waiting for an important event. The butterflies in one’s stomach that can accompany nervousness also fall into this class.

The sense of self. One sometimes feels that there is something to conscious experience that transcends all these specific elements: a kind of background hum, for instance, that is somehow fundamental to consciousness and that is there even when the other components are not. … there seems to be something to the phenomenology of self, even if it is very hard to pin down.

This catalog covers a number of bases, but leaves out as much as it puts in. I have said nothing, for instance, about dreams, arousal and fatigue, intoxication, or the novel character of other drug-induced experiences. …


I’d like to suggest that p-consciousness can be defined as follows. P-consciousness is a set of phenomena. It is that set of phenomena characterized by phenomenal experiences. The term “phenomenal consciousness” picks out the set of phenomena known as qualia, best described as being subjectively observable but not objectively observable. There is something that occurs during the operation of a conscious brain which cannot be objectively observed. These phenomena are subjective in nature and although they supervene on the brain, they can not be measured or described by explaining what goes on within the brain such as the interactions between neurons, the resulting EM fields produced nor anything that is objectively measurable.

Unfortunately, this definition assumes nature is inherently dualistic (ie: natural dualism) and no one seems to like dualism. The alternative is to either explain phenomenal consciousness in strict physical terms (ie: so the hard problem is just another easy problem) or we dismiss phenomenal consciousness altogether (ie: eliminativism).

Feel free to suggest revisions or alterations to the definition. When doing so, please consider how those alterations mesh with published work on the topic.

Chalmers, David J. "Facing up to the problem of consciousness." Journal of consciousness studies 2.3 (1995): 200-219.
http://consc.net/papers/facing.html
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Re: Definition of phenomenal consciousness

Postby wolfhnd on February 1st, 2015, 8:53 pm 

I have questions :-)

Is consciousness related to intelligence?

Is there anything here on self aware?

Is the intent to avoid relying on neuroscience etc. in anyway?

I think you cut this short to avoid not being concise but I got to tell you there is nothing simple about what you wrote. It is obviously a hard subject.
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Re: Definition of phenomenal consciousness

Postby Dave_C on February 1st, 2015, 9:33 pm 

Thanks for the questions.
Consciousness by this definition is not related to intelligence. It is only that set of phenomena which are subjective in nature. When I was a kid, I'd try to burn ants with a magnifying glass. Yea, a bit sadistic, what can I tell you? :) I'd hold a magnifying glass above the ant and focus the sun into a dot which would cause the ant to run at top speed, generally in a zig-zag path. So ask yourself, did the ant feel heat or pain? If you say yes, then that ant was experiencing one or more of the phenomena listed above by Chalmers. The ant had a phenomenal experience of pain and is p-conscious. So an ant might not be considered intelligent in comparison to a human. An ant might be considered intelligent with respect to a rock. But intelleigence is not one of the phenomena that make something phenomenally conscious. A computer can easily beat me at chess, so in that case, the computer might be considered more intelligent than me, but we would be very hard pressed to say that some intelligent, chess program experiences anything.

The sensation of being self aware is one of the sensations that belongs in the set of phenomenal consciousness. In fact, it's specifically listed by Chalmers above (the sense of self). It's a feeling; something that is subjective in nature and not objectively measurable or observable. We might say that we can 'measure' it by testing an animal in front of a mirror for example. But although there are many behaviors which correlate with phenomenal experiences (such as pain in the ant), we still don't know what the experience is like by observation of behavior.

The intent here isn't to avoid neuroscience at all. In fact, by applying theories in neuroscience and other sciences, we can hopefully take this definition and determine how these experiences can come about. I don't want to get into that here, I just want to try and lay out a definition.
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Re: Definition of phenomenal consciousness

Postby wolfhnd on February 1st, 2015, 9:50 pm 

If I can bother you a bit more. I'm interested in the questions the definition raises as it seems are most people. I'm not sure why it is so interesting. If I can ask a few more silly question I ask you indulge my ignorance.

Why do we find this topic so irresistible?

Why is there no existing off the shelf definition of p consciousness?

What would it take for you to ascribe self awareness to a computer?

Can the definition be made more concise?

Isn't there always going to be an anthropomorphic component to ideas about consciousness?

I will stop asking questions and hopefully someone else will come along with some interesting comments :-)
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Re: Definition of phenomenal consciousness

Postby Dave_C on February 1st, 2015, 11:25 pm 

Hi wolfhnd,
Why irresistible? I wish my wife or daughter were more interested in it. It seems they fall asleep whenever I bring it up.

Off-the-shelf definitions: The definition is a bit too complex to put into dictionary form but I think Chalmers produces as good a definition of p-consciousness as anyone. I think the philosophers and scientists who publish on this topic are aware of the definition. What I'd like to do is present his definition as clearly and as concise as possible, so I appreciate your questions.

Let's talk about self awareness of computers (or phenomenal properties that we could potentially ascribe to them) in a separate thread. It's a bit beyond this one to talk about that.

I'm confused by your anthropomorphic question.
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Re: Definition of phenomenal consciousness

Postby wolfhnd on February 2nd, 2015, 1:30 am 

Here is a list of definitions that may be helpful.

of terms relating to the study of consciousness and the brain

http://www.klab.caltech.edu/koch/glossary.html

I'm not conscious of my thoughts until I translate them into language. Is that the way everybody experiences consciousness? I think I'm missing the very foundation of the concepts here? The fact of awareness by the mind of itself and the world is not what I think of as consciousness. Consciousness to me is the inner voice that reflectively guides the stream of my thoughts. While I understand it wouldn't exist in it's current form without external stimulus and the consequences of experience and memory it seems an entirely internal process. I guess I'm doing stuff when I'm asleep but I don't know what it is nor do I know what my subconscious is doing when I'm awake. If I can't experience this idea of consciousness in myself or view it in other creatures how can I know what it is? This is a really hard topic beyond any thing I have ever tried to deal with before.

Here is what neuro wrote on intelligence.

"neurons, their functional state, their connections and the efficacy of such connections are continuously modified by the information itself they are processing (i.e. by the electrical and biochemical activity induced by their processing incoming information), and that they keep re-elaborating their connectivity pattern (an internal representation of elaborated information) even in the absence of external input.
This creates a metaphysical (logic, abstract) domain of information elaboration"
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Re: Definition of phenomenal consciousness

Postby wolfhnd on February 2nd, 2015, 3:31 am 

I was so upset by this subject that while I was watching tv I decided to see if I could find a lecture.

Searching on a tv is not easy so I just watched the first one which came up.

Daniel Dennett -"A Phenomenal Confusion About Access and Consciousness"

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AaCedh4Dfs4

I can't say that I have a clearer understanding after watching the video but it certainly illustrates the pit falls of not carefully considering the subject. He does a really nice job of showing how sweet, cute, sexy are projected properties. How that relates to the subject at hand is still a bit fussy.

I would recommend that anyone considering this subject watch this video. Not so much for what to believe but what not to believe.
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Re: Definition of phenomenal consciousness

Postby Eclogite on February 2nd, 2015, 5:52 am 

Am I missing something? (Hint: I often am.) I fail to see how Chalmer's experiences, those that fall into the category of sensory input, can be ascribed to consciousness. We may be conscious of those inputs, but many of them are processed subconsciously, or ignored. I presume he is making a point that has gone over my head. Can you help me?
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Re: Definition of phenomenal consciousness

Postby owleye on February 2nd, 2015, 6:31 am 

Eclogite » Mon Feb 02, 2015 3:52 am wrote:Am I missing something? (Hint: I often am.) I fail to see how Chalmer's experiences, those that fall into the category of sensory input, can be ascribed to consciousness. We may be conscious of those inputs, but many of them are processed subconsciously, or ignored. I presume he is making a point that has gone over my head. Can you help me?


In agreement with the above, I'd also add that p-phenomena, as defined doesn't actually cover what it purports to cover. It appears to me that in the way it is defined p-phenomena aren't really associated with anything. They stand in such a way that they exist whether or not there is anything felt or sensed. I recognize that you've told the story so that it is dualist in nature, but unless it is tied with a subject that feels or senses in some way then the definition is inadequate. (I note you indicate more or less as an afterthought that phenomena are subjective, but this appears to emphasize an attribute without it being an attribute of anything. Usually, one speaks of the self, or subject, which feels or senses. But what would be the self or subject in this definition?

Note I also have difficulty with Nagel's 'phenomena', usually thought of as an object of experience, but instead are assigned to quailia, a presumably more primitive term that he wishes to emphasize. I personally prefer the term representation, a term also used in neuroscience. For one, it indicates that there's something being represented by it (which I believe to be the information content of what is being sensed or felt, rather than qualia -- i.e., it isn't strictly qualitiative).

In my view, Nagel is outdated (as are many old-timers, like Searle) that have developed their theses prior to the age of information.
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Re: Definition of phenomenal consciousness

Postby wolfhnd on February 2nd, 2015, 1:22 pm 

Eclogite » Mon Feb 02, 2015 9:52 am wrote:Am I missing something? (Hint: I often am.) I fail to see how Chalmer's experiences, those that fall into the category of sensory input, can be ascribed to consciousness. We may be conscious of those inputs, but many of them are processed subconsciously, or ignored. I presume he is making a point that has gone over my head. Can you help me?


Did you watch the video I linked?
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Re: Definition of phenomenal consciousness

Postby Braininvat on February 2nd, 2015, 1:59 pm 

"Qualia" really boils down to "the subjective aspect of an experience, which cannot be described by recourse to a reductive examination of neurological function." Others have more slangily called it "raw feels" or "the felt-ness of experience." I feel that Chalmers, Nagel, et al. are all dancing around the same epistemic puzzle, regardless of their choice of terminology.

Re Wolfhound's, "I'm not conscious of my thoughts until I translate them into language. Is that the way everybody experiences consciousness?"

I'd say it depends on how broadly you define "thoughts." I can have a conscious experience of the color red without any need to think "ah, the color red." This sort of non-linguistic attention to something is well-known as a foundational method of meditation. It's purpose is to make experience more direct and less mediated by the jibber-jabber of language-based thought.

Nice thread, Dave C. There have been several threads that touch on what it's like to be a bat (I would also like to know what it's like to be a Republican, but that's another forum) or the what-it's-like question in some other form, and they never fail to challenge the imagination and our common parlance definitions of thought, awareness, etc.
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Re: Definition of phenomenal consciousness

Postby wolfhnd on February 2nd, 2015, 2:08 pm 

"I'd say it depends on how broadly you define "thoughts." I can have a conscious experience of the color red without any need to think "ah, the color red." "

That is why I thought that the idea of projection was so useful because the color red is not the property of anything. You have projected red on to an object. I cannot think of what red is without language so for me consciousness implies a higher level of cognition than awareness.

This gets back to my point about neurology in so far as science describes red as an infinite spectrum not something amenable to philosophy.
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Re: Definition of phenomenal consciousness

Postby Dave_C on February 2nd, 2015, 2:40 pm 

wolfhnd » February 2nd, 2015, 1:08 pm wrote:That is why I thought that the idea of projection was so useful because the color red is not the property of anything. You have projected red on to an object. I cannot think of what red is without language so for me consciousness implies a higher level of cognition than awareness.

Hi wolfhnd. I'm at work so I'll try and respond to all these comments tonight but I'm honestly fascinated by this statement. There are people who experience colors when they see numbers. We call this synesthesia. But I've often wondered if the opposite could be true, people who are at least partial p-zombies who don't experience color or some other bit of experience such as flavor. For them, color (or flavor) would be more like a concept, perhaps like money. Money can be anything from paper to wampum, but we don't call it money until we all agree, "Yep, that's money." We wouldn't look at money and have an experience of seeing money; we'd have an experience of seeing green paper or white sea shells strung together with string. We would quite literally not be able to experience seeing money without equating what we see to the concept of money (a concept that we learned) in some way which is a higher level of awareness. My dog for example, wouldn't be able to experience money. But if I take what you said literally, that you can't think of red without language, then I wonder if you truly have no experience when you look at something that's red? I'm sorry, I don't mean that in any derogetory way whatsoever.
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Re: Definition of phenomenal consciousness

Postby Dave_C on February 2nd, 2015, 8:50 pm 

Hi wolfhnd. I can appreciate the fact that phenomenal consciousness is difficult for many people to get a grasp of.
wolfhnd » February 2nd, 2015, 12:30 am wrote:Here is a list of definitions that may be helpful.

of terms relating to the study of consciousness and the brain

http://www.klab.caltech.edu/koch/glossary.html

Yep... thanks for the link. Cristof Koch I believe, supports Tononi's integrated information theory (IIT) of consciousness.
http://www.scientificamerican.com/artic ... ciousness/

And yet, Koch is a dualist.
https://reluctantdualist.wordpress.com/ ... stof-koch/

The glossery of Koch's that you provided a link to talks about the two different types of consciousness just as I've outlined them above (albeit, in many fewer words).
Access consciousness
The philosopher Ned Block distinguishes, on conceptual grounds, access consciousness from phenomenal consciousness (Block, 1999, 2005). Phenomenal consciousness corresponds to the subjective feeling of seeing red (as compared to the feeling of seeing green), while access consciousness is what is made accessible to multiple cognitive processes, including memory, language, and other behaviors. Phenomenal consciousness in isolation may correspond to consciousness without top-down attention, while the confluence of access and phenomenal consciousness occurs when the subject is attending to an object or event and is consciousness of it. Access consciousness is usually what is studied in the laboratory, while phenomenal consciousness encompasses experiences difficult to quantify.

The term, "phenomenal consciousness" is all about identifying the subjective experiences. Qualia. Also called phenomenal experiences. The terms are often used interchangably.

It might be helpful to note that Chalmers breaks up phenomenal experiences into 2 categories. The first are those phenomenal experiences created by our sense. They are listed above starting at "Visual experiences" and ending with "Other bodily sensations". The second are those phenomenal experiences not created by our senses. Those start at "Mental imagery" and ends at the end of the list. All these subjective experiences/qualia/phenomenal experiences or whatever you want to call them, have some physical basis but as even Koch says, they are "difficult to quantify".
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Re: Definition of phenomenal consciousness

Postby Dave_C on February 2nd, 2015, 8:58 pm 

Eclogite » February 2nd, 2015, 4:52 am wrote:Am I missing something? (Hint: I often am.) I fail to see how Chalmer's experiences, those that fall into the category of sensory input, can be ascribed to consciousness. We may be conscious of those inputs, but many of them are processed subconsciously, or ignored. I presume he is making a point that has gone over my head. Can you help me?

Understood that some of those 'sensory inputs' can be something we ignore or are only subconscious of. The point Chalmers (and others) are trying to make is that there is something else, a phenomenon, which occurs that is subjective in nature and he's asking why that should be. Why should we experience anything at all? Why should there (sometimes) be some sort of experience associated with that whir of mental processing? Suffice it to say, this is only a definition that attempts to pick out specific instances of those subjective experiences. It doesn't say anything about why or how they should come about or whether or not they might sometimes be subconscious.
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Re: Definition of phenomenal consciousness

Postby Dave_C on February 2nd, 2015, 9:05 pm 

Hi owleye,
owleye » February 2nd, 2015, 5:31 am wrote: I'd also add that p-phenomena, as defined doesn't actually cover what it purports to cover. It appears to me that in the way it is defined p-phenomena aren't really associated with anything. They stand in such a way that they exist whether or not there is anything felt or sensed. I recognize that you've told the story so that it is dualist in nature, but unless it is tied with a subject that feels or senses in some way then the definition is inadequate. (I note you indicate more or less as an afterthought that phenomena are subjective, but this appears to emphasize an attribute without it being an attribute of anything. Usually, one speaks of the self, or subject, which feels or senses. But what would be the self or subject in this definition?

I wasn't trying to avoid using the term "subjective". I hope it's understood that these phenomena don't stand alone. They supervene on a functioning brain of some sort, including I think, brains of ants. I wonder if I misunderstood what you're getting at?
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Re: Definition of phenomenal consciousness

Postby wolfhnd on February 2nd, 2015, 9:17 pm 

I started a thread on "intelligence" as a property of life. We shipped wrecked on the definition of intelligence I knew it would happen before I finished typing the title. Ever thread of this type I have ever seen has the same problem. People don't agree on the basic premise.

How do you hope to avoid this when there are multiple philosophical camps out there Dave?
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Re: Definition of phenomenal consciousness

Postby Dave_C on February 2nd, 2015, 9:25 pm 

Hi Braininvat, Thanks for the support. Do you think grouping all phenomenal experiences like this and describing them as a "set" helps at all? I wonder what other ways of explaining this would help.
Braininvat » February 2nd, 2015, 12:59 pm wrote:There have been several threads that touch on what it's like to be a bat (I would also like to know what it's like to be a Republican, but that's another forum) or the what-it's-like question in some other form, and they never fail to challenge the imagination and our common parlance definitions of thought, awareness, etc.

I've attempted the bat explanation before. I'd be curious to know if you think this helps at all.

Bats must sense objects and have some kind of phenomenal experience of what is around them. We might imagine them experiencing a false color map of the world such as the one below. This is a false color image of the moon that uses color to represent elevations. Those colors obviously don’t exist on the moon, and there is no light being reflected that correlates with the color on the image. The colors only correlate with elevations. But we might imagine that a bat would have some sort of subjective experience of the information that comes back from the pings and chirps, perhaps like color such that as the bat approached an object the color might change, representing how far away the bat was from the object.

Image

As we know, there are no colors out there in the world. The colors we experience are also false colors in the sense that they are representations of something else (ie: wavelength of light). The same is true of the sounds we hear, the pains we feel, and all of the other sensations we experience called quallia. That set of sensations and experiences is what defines p-consciousness. They are not real in the sense that they exist and can be measured or understood in some way by learning about the brain’s biological interactions. All of those phenomena which make up p-consciousness are a ‘false color’ type of phenomena.
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Re: Definition of phenomenal consciousness

Postby Dave_C on February 2nd, 2015, 9:30 pm 

wolfhnd » February 2nd, 2015, 8:17 pm wrote:I started a thread on "intelligence" as a property of life. We shipped wrecked on the definition of intelligence I knew it would happen before I finished typing the title. Ever thread of this type I have ever seen has the same problem. People don't agree on the basic premise.

How do you hope to avoid this when there are multiple philosophical camps out there Dave?

Good question... I think most people in the philosophical community (even Dennett, lol) understand what phenomenal consciousness is, regardless of whether or not they agree that it exists.
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Re: Definition of phenomenal consciousness

Postby owleye on February 2nd, 2015, 11:30 pm 

Dave_C » Mon Feb 02, 2015 7:05 pm wrote:I wasn't trying to avoid using the term "subjective". I hope it's understood that these phenomena don't stand alone. They supervene on a functioning brain of some sort, including I think, brains of ants. I wonder if I misunderstood what you're getting at?


Supervenience, to me, isn't helpful until the properties alleged to supervene are specified. And, of course, while I agree that consciousness is a biological property and thus subject to it having evolved from more primitive organisms, I wonder whether such a consciousness in general has the property of being felt or being sensed. It's really hard to tell. The claim of p-phenomena supervening on a neural network (or some physical system) puts the question to the neural network. The p-phenomena aren't observable, unless one can point to some feature of the neural network that supports it. I suppose there is an expectation that we will discover this. I wonder also about the life time of p-phenomena. They come and go. They depend on our physical aspect. The way I'm understanding supervenience, I'm not sure how the neural network (or physical system) exists, i.e., whether it can be an open system.
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Re: Definition of phenomenal consciousness

Postby Braininvat on February 3rd, 2015, 11:18 am 

They are not real in the sense that they exist and can be measured or understood in some way by learning about the brain’s biological interactions. All of those phenomena which make up p-consciousness are a ‘false color’ type of phenomena.


Dave, sounds good, have wondered about dolphins and their sonar pics, as well. False color is a useful concrete way to talk about the phenomenal. Will get back when not on android - can't thumbtype for s-t.
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Re: Definition of phenomenal consciousness

Postby wolfhnd on February 4th, 2015, 12:04 am 

Dave_C why can't we get around Dennett's objection by just saying Big A Access and little a phenomenal? Most things don't need to be black and white to be useful?
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Re: Definition of phenomenal consciousness

Postby Eclogite on February 4th, 2015, 3:24 am 

wolfhnd » Mon Feb 02, 2015 12:30 am wrote:I'm not conscious of my thoughts until I translate them into language.
I just saw this statement. I was surprised by it and though this may be moving us off topic, I felt compelled to reply.

A significant proportion of my conscious thinking is non-verbal. This is certainly true when I am problem solving. At times my work has involved root cause analysis of mechanical failure of various downhole tools used in the drilling industry. When considering possible causes I am "seeing" the tools in operation; I see the forces acting on them; I see close ups of their geometry; I see graphs of the loads placed on them; I see how they fail. Only then do I translate that into words. And I am definitely very conscious of the process throughout. I am confident I am far from unique in this approach.
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Re: Definition of phenomenal consciousness

Postby Eclogite on February 4th, 2015, 8:57 am 

OK. I am not expressing myself clearly.

1. I did not think you were taking the thread of topic, I thought my comments on one of your on-topic remarks was taking it off topic and was offering a small apology in advance of the act. I am unclear as to why you think your own comment was off-topic, but seriously puzzled as to why you would think I thought so. Was my writing so unclear?

2. Your repeat a description of the way you think thus, "I think in words or symbols where as I dream as direct experience."

I understood that. However, I explained this is not the way I always think. I gave an example where my thought process is to imagine the experience of a downhole tool, with no words, or symbols anywhere in use. You completely failed to address the fact that at least one person on the planet thinks that way. (And I know from conversations that several others do too.)

If you base your views on conscious thought purely on your own experience of it you will be missing something important.
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Re: Definition of phenomenal consciousness

Postby wolfhnd on February 4th, 2015, 10:33 am 

Experience of a downhole tool, with no words, or symbols anywhere in use.


Poor Dave sorry I did this too you.

What I was trying to say is that I have always been aware of different level of consciousness but that when I use the word I have always used it in reference to conscientious or in a reflective sense. So my habit or idiosyncrasy is to think I'm not fully conscious unless I'm reflective.

Take your example, you view the downhole tool and understand what is happening in reference to some earlier experience and reflections on how tools function. So you have established what could be called an habituated way of thinking that is close to reflexive. The data that you get from the tool etc. then has to be process symbolically for you to understand what it's significance is. What I'm saying is you are not fully conscious of what the tool is doing until you reflect on it's significance in relationship to all your other experiences.

Mostly however I just find it interesting how awareness and consciousness have kind of flip flopped over time :-)

When I use the word aware I'm habituated to use it as meaning I sense what is going on.

Remember I'm the guy that says language is a cognitive tool which seems to be an unpopular idea but I like it.

It goes back to my annoying diatribe about not being able to separate culture from the physical brain. They evolve together and cannot be easily separated. So taken to extremes your experience of the tool cannot be separated from the culture your brain developed in. Gibberish huh :-) I'm still working on it and hope to be able to apply the concept "intelligently" someday.

How all this relates to the thread I'm not sure my guess is it doesn't. If it has any relevancy it has to do with how unlikely it is that humans can have experiences that are not in part moderated by culture. Since a large part of culture is language you could say you can't think without language because your experience of language has physically altered your brain. The tricky part is when you realize that red has physical existence because it is part of a physical brain. Demonstrating that the mind exists outside of the brain seems to be part of the problem here. A topic very poorly covered in the Blank Slate lol I think however that some of the concepts here force you to believe that the mind and brain are two separate things. You could adopt an analogy of a computer and think that the mind is the software and the brain is the hardware. The question then is if mind is an emergent property or an elaboration of pre existing structures. I don't know, maybe a little of both, I really have no idea. But evil Dave is making us think about it :-)
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Re: Definition of phenomenal consciousness

Postby Eclogite on February 4th, 2015, 11:39 am 

wolfhnd » Wed Feb 04, 2015 9:33 am wrote:Take your example, you view the downhole tool and understand what is happening in reference to some earlier experience and reflections on how tools function. So you have established what could be called an habituated way of thinking that is close to reflexive. The data that you get from the tool etc. then has to be process symbolically for you to understand what it's significance is. What I'm saying is you are not fully conscious of what the tool is doing until you reflect on it's significance in relationship to all your other experiences.

Bollocks.

The thinking is far from reflexive. It requires considerable concentration and full consciousness.

I have a far greater understanding when I am envisaging the tools behaviour. The words I then use to describe this to others are often less concise and comprehensive than the non-verbal imagining.

As far as reflexive goes, if I am delivering a familiar talk to a class I will often switch onto automatic pilot, delivering detailed, technical information, while thinking about something completely different. At that moment my conscious attention is on the "something different" not on what I am saying.

Perhaps you should just recognise, as I do, that there are different modes of thinking and not all of them use them all in the same way or to the same extent.
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Re: Definition of phenomenal consciousness

Postby wolfhnd on February 4th, 2015, 12:05 pm 

"Perhaps you should just recognise, as I do, that there are different modes of thinking and not all of them use them all in the same way or to the same extent."

Well that is the point of the thread, honestly I can't go on with this out of respect for Dave.

If I did not agree with you I would not be interested here.
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Re: Definition of phenomenal consciousness

Postby owleye on February 4th, 2015, 3:15 pm 

wolfhnd » Wed Feb 04, 2015 10:05 am wrote:"Perhaps you should just recognise, as I do, that there are different modes of thinking and not all of them use them all in the same way or to the same extent."

Well that is the point of the thread, honestly I can't go on with this out of respect for Dave.

If I did not agree with you I would not be interested here.


You've alleged that there are different modes of thinking. Are you just handwaving or perhaps following something you've read in "Psychology Today". I ask this because thinking is usually thought of as a cognitive activity. And how many modalities of cognition are there. I'm open to this idea, but wonder what short things you have in mind. I do understand some folks think that calculation is a cognitive activity, that might be thought of as thinking, but I'm wary of this, as it might be thought that calculators think.

So I ask you, what is it that I need to recognize, as you do, that there are different modes of thinking? Can you provide what sort of things you believe represent the modalities of thinking together with examples of each? Without such I get the feeling that you are either just blowing smoke or have given the idea considerable thought but didn't wish to bore us with any of the details that might help us understand what you are talking about. Or perhaps you think that you are right and we don't need to question it.
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Re: Definition of phenomenal consciousness

Postby wolfhnd on February 4th, 2015, 4:05 pm 

owleye I posted some more in the lounge because it was a side issue. Mostly just speculation but I was curious how people feel about there own consciousness. It was something I was thinking about that neuro posted that made be wonder why we were separating consciousness from intelligence. It's my assertion that paradoxically it is reflective thought that raises the level of consciousness at the higher end of the scale. This is an evolutionary artifact and mostly due to the physical structure of the brain. I'm not making a claim that in any way resembles pop culture's "higher plane of consciousness" and I totally reject the idea of a "blank slate".

neuro wrote:


"Mode 3 is characterized by metaphoric capability.
In this framework, path finding in search of a solution does not have to be learned from scratch: the appropriate use of association, generalization, problem decomposition into simpler subproblems, logics and simulation lets the system metaphorically “remap” most aspects of each new problem to already solved ones and gives rise to the capability of abstract symbolic representation and manipulation of reality / information.

I would suggest that this feature constitutes a strong emergence in human brain.
In fact
- it cannot be reduced to mechanisms of rewarded learning
- it rather acts as an independent, external drive (with respect to mechanisms of rewarded learning) that pushes toward the systematic search for consistency (rather than mere success)
- this drive (an irreducible emergent aspect) gets translated into a set of ADDITIONAL effective causes within the system (the biological reward mechanisms), injected from outside (huge projections from the prefrontal cortex to the mesencephalic well-being evaluation circuits)
- it is present in human intelligence but not (except in some rudimentary form) in any other animal
- it is the basis of consciousness as a complex and consistent internal representation of reality and self
- it is the basis of the capability of systematically postponing reward and of comparing momentary and future payoff over many qualitatively different domains (physiological, personal, affective, social, aesthetic, ethic), which constitutes a specific feature of human cognitive and behavioral control

IMHO, therefore, its presence confers to human intelligence (mode 3) a qualitative difference with respect to the other forms of intelligence (mode 2)."
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Re: Definition of phenomenal consciousness

Postby wolfhnd on February 4th, 2015, 4:11 pm 

Dave what you are doing is great I just haven't got around to reading everything you linked.

I'm sorry about the diversions I created as usually I was off somewhere day dreaming.
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