Definition of phenomenal consciousness

Discussions on the nature of being, existence, reality and knowledge. What is? How do we know?

Re: Definition of phenomenal consciousness

Postby Neri on September 28th, 2020, 10:16 am 

Neuro,

You seem to be saying that self-centeredness (a focus upon the ego) is the seed of consciousness. If this is so, unconsciously driven selflessness cannot yield consciousness. After all, they are polar opposites.
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Re: Definition of phenomenal consciousness

Postby charon on September 28th, 2020, 3:36 pm 

You seem to be saying that self-centeredness (a focus upon the ego) is the seed of consciousness.

No, the unselfish person is also conscious, otherwise he'd be dead, only it's not the same kind of consciousness. There's a qualitative difference.
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Re: Definition of phenomenal consciousness

Postby neuro on September 29th, 2020, 3:22 am 

Neri » September 28th, 2020, 3:16 pm wrote:Neuro,

You seem to be saying that self-centredness (a focus upon the ego) is the seed of consciousness. If this is so, unconsciously driven selflessness cannot yield consciousness. After all, they are polar opposites.

Well, why would self-centredness be the seed of consciousness?

My only claim is that self-centredness precedes self-consciousness, i.e. consciousness does not add the subjective perspective, because that is already there: even a cockroach elaborates information in a self-centred way although it does not need to have self-consciousness (at least, I bet it does not...).

But please note that I am not claiming that subjectivity (or self-centredness) is the seed of or causes consciousness. Whatever the word "consciousness" means, I claim it profits of the subjective processing by the brain, but does not produce it. If by p-consciousness you mean being able to prove an emotion, this certainly does help to add a personal colouring to experience, which is however perceived from the point o view of the subject from the beginning.

And, charon, I totally agree that consciousness does not exclude unselfishness; simply, you cannot see or experience things from a perspective other than your own (this is what I mean in saying that the brain processes information in a self-centred way).
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Re: Definition of phenomenal consciousness

Postby neuro on September 29th, 2020, 3:24 am 

And, by the way, what about self-consciousness in crows...?
Look at this
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Re: Definition of phenomenal consciousness

Postby BadgerJelly on September 29th, 2020, 4:03 am 

Dave -

If you have read or want to read this and comment let me know:

Henri Bergson’s TIME AND FREE WILL: An Essay on the Immediate Data of Consciousness

http://www.gutenberg.org/files/56852/56 ... 6852-h.htm

Preface:

We necessarily express ourselves by means of words and we usually think in terms of space. That is to say, language requires us to establish between our ideas the same sharp and precise distinctions, the same discontinuity, as between material objects. This assimilation of thought to things is useful in practical life and necessary in most of the sciences. But it may be asked whether the insurmountable difficulties presented by certain philosophical problems do not arise from our placing side by side in space phenomena which do not occupy space, and whether, by merely getting rid of the clumsy symbols round which we are fighting, we might not bring the fight to an end. When an illegitimate translation of the unextended into the extended, of quality into quantity, has introduced contradiction into the very heart of the question, contradiction must, of course, recur in the answer.
The problem which I have chosen is one which is common to metaphysics and psychology, the problem of free will. What I attempt to prove is that all discussion between the determinists and their opponents implies a previous confusion[Pg xx] of duration with extensity, of succession with simultaneity, of quality with quantity: this confusion once dispelled, we may perhaps witness the disappearance of the objections raised against free will, of the definitions given of it, and, in a certain sense, of the problem of free will itself. To prove this is the object of the third part of the present volume: the first two chapters, which treat of the conceptions of intensity and duration, have been written as an introduction to the third.
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Re: Definition of phenomenal consciousness

Postby charon on September 29th, 2020, 6:19 am 

I totally agree that consciousness does not exclude selfishness; simply, you cannot see or experience things from a perspective other than your own (this is what I mean in saying that the brain processes information in a self-centred way).


I don't think I'd put it that way.

First, I think we should be very clear what we're talking about. We're not discussing simply being conscious as opposed to unconscious, that is, physically. We're talking about our consciousness, the consciousness of human beings, singly, in groups, or globally.

That consciousness is all our psychological world. It's the sum of all we know and think. In that area are all the ideas, beliefs, and so on, apart from mere daily functioning. Also in that area, of course, are all our problems, conflicts and struggles.

The activities of that consciousness is the consciousness. It's not that consciousness is a container which stays the same while the content changes; the content is the consciousness. If the content changes, consciousness changes. I think we should be very clear on that.

Where there's selfishness it means that consciousness becomes extremely limited, small, narrow, its whole activity merely revolving around the thought of self. That includes one's desires, ambitions, fears, hopes, prejudices, self-image, and all the rest of it.

However, if the self in all its aspects isn't given any importance, if such self-interest is discarded, there's a fundamental change in the consciousness itself.

you cannot see or experience things from a perspective other than your own (this is what I mean in saying that the brain processes information in a self-centred way)


Physically that's so; we're obviously limited by our senses. But, psychologically, is it the same? I think this difference should be made terribly clear or we might end up talking at cross purposes.

Physically, we can't see or hear much beyond our immediate environment, usually just the room we're in at the moment, or the street, or more if we're in the country. That's normal.

Psychologically, it may be different. A person who is only concerned with themselves, their problems, goals, beliefs, advancement, and so on, lives in a very narrow world and this must have a concomitant effect on the brain. They've shown, I believe, that fear actually shrinks the brain physically.

If all that sort of thing doesn't exist, which doesn't mean one neglects oneself physically or in terms of one's responsibilities, then the brain flowers and becomes extremely healthy. Such a person's consciousness is wholly different; it's no longer processing everything in relation to the self.
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Re: Definition of phenomenal consciousness

Postby Neri on September 29th, 2020, 10:37 am 

Neuro,

I now understand you to say, for example, that the behavior a particular cockroach is subjective, because it is caused by its own neurons and not those of any other cockroach. Surely, this is a statement of the bloody obvious adding nothing to our understanding of human consciousness--except to make the trivial observation that it is limited to the spatial extent of one’s head.
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Re: Definition of phenomenal consciousness

Postby BadgerJelly on September 29th, 2020, 10:55 am 

Neri » September 29th, 2020, 10:37 pm wrote:Neuro,

I now understand you to say, for example, that the behavior a particular cockroach is subjective, because it is caused by its own neurons and not those of any other cockroach. Surely, this is a statement of the bloody obvious adding nothing to our understanding of human consciousness--except to make the trivial observation that it is limited to the spatial extent of one’s head.


The ‘bloody obvious’ is often accepted as a truth when, maybe just as often, it is such an ‘obvious’ point that is the very thing that is blocking off a line of sight that would be helpful.

We do tend to say ‘put yourself in their shoes’ not ‘put them in your shoes’ for quite ‘obvious’ reasons ... maybe what seems to be obvious requires some actual grounding rather than being blindly accepted.
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Re: Definition of phenomenal consciousness

Postby charon on September 29th, 2020, 11:06 am 

I now understand you to say, for example, that the behavior a particular cockroach is subjective, because it is caused by its own neurons and not those of any other cockroach. Surely, this is a statement of the bloody obvious adding nothing to our understanding of human consciousness--except to make the trivial observation that it is limited to the spatial extent of one’s head.


Your point above is right, of course, but it's the obvious that often eludes us. We're too clever!
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Re: Definition of phenomenal consciousness

Postby TheVat on September 30th, 2020, 1:30 pm 

I wonder if everyone read the OP of this thread, and the Chalmers article that was offered as a reading on the topic.

When I started looking at the last couple pages, I barely recognized that thread. It seems to have digressed into various social science, moral, and ethical issues that are really not at all the topic that David was trying to open up. If I had more time here, I might be tempted to separate out those worthy discussions and give them each their niche. Oh well.


PS - I used to participate more in these kinds of threads, but find that after a certain span of years, there really isn't much new to say. There is a point, if you meditate on the matter, where it seems there is this striking awareness that reductive science simply cannot access what it is to have an emotional feeling or be a bat or admire a pretty sunset. Nor can philosophic hand-waving really make the brute fact of your own consciousness, and qualia, be dismissed. I would suggest that, if you dismantle a cat, it's not going to purr for you.
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Re: Definition of phenomenal consciousness

Postby charon on September 30th, 2020, 2:55 pm 

Vat -

I agree. In the first post the OP declared his interest in a definition of consciousness as well as floating Chalmer's ideas:

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.


I'm actually not sure what the connection is between merely defining something and Chalmers' ideas.

Personally, all my posts have been an attempt, not to define it as such, because that can be found in any dictionary, but to describe it. I also addressed the Chalmers' points about the hard and easy problem.

Anyway, as usual, most of my questions weren't really understood (which is quite amazing, they're very simple) and the thing drifted on to page 5. That's when I said this:

What's extraordinary is that after 5 pages we're still struggling with common or garden definitions. Why don't they just google it?


Personally again, I don't think I could have done more to describe consciousness in all its aspects than I have but it seems to be almost pointless. Yet they're trying desperately to discuss and understand the Chalmers' problems.

I don't see how that's possible. And we're here on page 7 still discussing consciousness which has actually been defined and re-defined many times now.

it seems there is this striking awareness that reductive science simply cannot access what it is to have an emotional feeling or be a bat or admire a pretty sunset.


Apparently not but, if I can say so, that's hardly surprising. Do they want physical/psychological sensations to be put into the same sort of terms as... what, electricity? Equations? Captured in a test tube?

You may as well try to scientifically capture any feeling, an itch, the feeling of hunger, irritation, elation, or any other experienced sensation. Is that possible?

Why do they want to do it? How do they believe it might be possible? In what sort of terms do they want to capture it?

Can anyone answer that? That would be interesting.
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Re: Definition of phenomenal consciousness

Postby BadgerJelly on October 1st, 2020, 5:07 am 

I can sum this up easily. If someone is seriously asking what it is like to be conscious that is kind of daft.

Consciousness requires ‘direction’. We can ask about the ‘phenomenon of consciousness’ but it is contrary to ask about an ‘experience of consciousness’. That is the point Heidegger got stuck on (Dasein) and created a whole new set of obscure vocabulary to talk about ... essentially it’s circular.

I posted the paper by Bergson because I personally see more leeway in looking at how our CONCEPT of time is legitimised through colloquial language even though such items of speech (among others) are not in line with our scientific understanding.

Chalmers interest is in what it is that makes ‘consciousness’ a thing. Often people take this as a ‘reason’ for consciousness, which in evolutionary terms has some good points as well as some rather obvious gaps.

In terms of ethics and morality it is a VERY relevant question for a large number of people.

My view is causality is taken for granted as a given, but that we have no obvious reason to hold so dearly into it. In fact I’d say holding on to such ideas, or dismissing them completely does little to tackle the issue of temporality - and even Vats, and sometimes my own, view of “I don’t know. So what?” Isn’t something that sits well with anyone for any larger amount of time (unless they distract themselves with another more tangible topic).

Simply put consciousness is the experiencing of time, space and ‘objects’ (the ‘material’ and/or ‘physicality’ of these isn’t really much of an issue when you break it down). The even more obtuse question is the ‘question’ in general and the weight given to rationality and logic above ‘feeling’ - that is where, as I understand it, a lot of pushback towards empiricism comes from (wrongly imo, but it is what it is).
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Re: Definition of phenomenal consciousness

Postby BadgerJelly on October 1st, 2020, 5:27 am 

Dave -

Also, and I know you’ve heard me say this before, to talk of ‘qualia’ is nonsensical in the terms given in the OP if, and only if, this is set along side the idea of ‘quale’. To literally quantify such a thing is against the very claim it holds dearest of all.

Note: It could work if the idea of ‘quantity’ is amended (that was the route I took btw - but that doesn’t do much for efficient discussion in this format).
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Re: Definition of phenomenal consciousness

Postby charon on October 1st, 2020, 9:22 am 

Why do they want to do it? How do they believe it might be possible? In what sort of terms do they want to capture it?

Can anyone answer that? That would be interesting
.


I can sum this up easily.


... and then he didn't.



As usual, no one is answering my question. Am I on ignore or something?

The idea is for 'science' to understand qualia. That is, to find out how a person experiences, say, the taste of curry, or a banana, or some other thing.

My question is:

    IN WHAT TERMS? Words? Physical experiments? Chemical formulae? X-rays of the brain? How?

It's a very simple question. In what terms?
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Re: Definition of phenomenal consciousness

Postby TheVat on October 1st, 2020, 1:11 pm 

You're not on "ignore" Charon. Do we even have such a function here? Don't think I've ever even looked. :-)

Science answers, on the workings of neural networks to process sensory data, for example, are answers that seem to be mainly in the domain of information science - how signals are coded and transmitted, what pathways they take, what functional levels exist from basic bits on upwards to coordination of massive multiple inputs, executive summaries, and so on. And all that can as well explain the operations of a cockroach or a zombie or a computer, just as well as a conscious being. You don't need to have a conscious being to train a scientific lens on a neural information processing system of the wild, biological variety.

Why all those neural operations can emerge, in the subjective eye, as holistic felt experiences is beyond the purview of science. Why we cannot perfectly well process the external world as completely unconscious automatons is, to me, a philosophic question, or to put it another way, metascientific. But scientists like to science, engineers like to engineer, and to a boy with a hammer everything looks like a nail. But no one's going to find a "god particle" or any fundamental particle that has consciousness as some sort of basic property. How do you give a particle a Turing Test? (it's certainly possible, in a logical sense, that some brilliant chain of philosophical reasoning could lead someone, at some point, to come up with a persuasive proof that consciousness is just inherent in matter, i.e. panpsychism)
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Re: Definition of phenomenal consciousness

Postby charon on October 1st, 2020, 6:35 pm 

Do we even have such a function here?


Oh, we do:


    Control Panel --> Friends and Foes --> Manage Foes

It's been my pleasure to help you today, Sir :-)

Why all those neural operations can emerge, in the subjective eye, as holistic felt experiences is beyond the purview of science.


Yes, I know about the neuro-pathways, etc, but couldn't see the relevance to felt experience. This is why I kept referring it back to ourselves. We ourselves are the closest thing to a lab.

(it's certainly possible, in a logical sense, that some brilliant chain of philosophical reasoning could lead someone, at some point, to come up with a persuasive proof that consciousness is just inherent in matter, i.e. panpsychism)


Panpsychism, I believe, posits a universal mind. I'd go with that. In fact, I already did:

viewtopic.php?f=51&t=28417&p=352135#p352135

Proof, of course, is something else.
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Re: Definition of phenomenal consciousness

Postby BadgerJelly on October 1st, 2020, 8:39 pm 

Charon -

Yes, I know about the neuro-pathways, etc, but couldn't see the relevance to felt experience. This is why I kept referring it back to ourselves. We ourselves are the closest thing to a lab.


You’re basically talking about the phenomenological approach. I guess neurophenomenology is one aspect of the hard science approach to moving closer to what you’re interested in.

For me the greater the variety of approaches to this the better - that, in and of itself, is the greatest use of the phenomenological approach (albeit an approach that should be taken with caution for those with the inclination for a certain psychological fixedness).
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Re: Definition of phenomenal consciousness

Postby charon on October 1st, 2020, 10:19 pm 

neurophenomenology is one aspect of the hard science approach to moving closer to what you’re interested in.


To be honest, I'm afraid it doesn't interest me at all :-)

I don't think it's the right way to go about understanding this. I think we have to take ourselves and study that. It's not terribly difficult in itself but it becomes difficult if one approaches the problem the wrong way. A wrong method will inevitably produce the wrong answers, if any are produced at all.

As Vat has pointed out, this subject is almost certainly beyond the purview of science. They can't reproduce human feelings in any meaningful manner. Proceeding from the assumption that it can be done by studying neural pathways will, at best, lead to a better understanding of the physical brain but it won't give the answer here.

They may, as they've already done, determine which parts of the brain 'light up' when we taste salt, or see a golden moon, etc, but there are so many varieties of human experience that it seems an insurmountable task. And, of course, it's not the answer to the problem in question.
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Re: Definition of phenomenal consciousness

Postby BadgerJelly on October 1st, 2020, 11:50 pm 

Charon -

What do you suggest then? A purely phenomenological approach void of any scientific scope?
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Re: Definition of phenomenal consciousness

Postby charon on October 2nd, 2020, 5:53 am 

I've already suggested it, start with oneself and then state it. There's no proof of inward feelings. As I said, if one day they can scan the brain and be quite sure that a particular blip means you're tasting a strawberry, then fine.

But if you mean Phenomenology as a philosophy then I've no idea. It doesn't seem very relevant to me. It's certainly not about a scientific understanding of the brain.

We're always looking 'out there' for answers to inward things and I don't see much point in that.
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Re: Definition of phenomenal consciousness

Postby BadgerJelly on October 2nd, 2020, 6:13 am 

charon » October 2nd, 2020, 5:53 pm wrote:I've already suggested it, start with oneself and then state it. There's no proof of inward feelings. As I said, if one day they can scan the brain and be quite sure that a particular blip means you're tasting a strawberry, then fine.

But if you mean Phenomenology as a philosophy then I've no idea. It doesn't seem very relevant to me. It's certainly not about a scientific understanding of the brain.

We're always looking 'out there' for answers to inward things and I don't see much point in that.


It should be relevant because it is very much in tune with what you‘ve been saying.
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Re: Definition of phenomenal consciousness

Postby charon on October 2nd, 2020, 6:28 am 

Not at all, it's a philosophy, not the study of oneself. The study of oneself is as practical as any scientific endeavour even if it can't be put in a peer-reviewed paper. It's direct, simple, and reveals all the answers if done diligently.

You're pushing the river on this. It can't be done scientifically and philosophising about it also gets nowhere. It might have got Chalmers a job but he's a fool anyway.
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Re: Definition of phenomenal consciousness

Postby BadgerJelly on October 2nd, 2020, 7:31 am 

charon » October 2nd, 2020, 6:28 pm wrote:Not at all, it's a philosophy, not the study of oneself. The study of oneself is as practical as any scientific endeavour even if it can't be put in a peer-reviewed paper. It's direct, simple, and reveals all the answers if done diligently.

You're pushing the river on this. It can't be done scientifically and philosophising about it also gets nowhere. It might have got Chalmers a job but he's a fool anyway.


Suit yourself.
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Re: Definition of phenomenal consciousness

Postby Neri on October 3rd, 2020, 4:28 pm 

[See reference to self-consciousness in paragraph 3]

Because of recent posts, I feel compelled to give a proper explanation of the subjective and objective as well as of the question of whether or not our experience gives us access to external reality.

I will start by asking: What should we include in consciousness and what exclude?” To the former, I say “everything, and to the latter, “nothing.”

Consciousness itself, because we all experience it the same, (as weightless and without spatial extension) is an objective experience. However, self-consciousness—because it is the unique history of a particular individual captured in memories not accessible to others--is subjective.

All beliefs that are included in the experience of mankind as a whole are objective. All that is experienced by particular persons but not by humanity as a whole is subjective.

Because the common experience of all mankind is vast, the content of consciousness takes myriad forms—such as following:

(1) Qualia

Raw feels (qualia) such as pain are objective when they are experienced by all mankind. They are subjective when the pain is not of the same character or intensity as that experienced by everyone else. In such case, the pain cannot be objectively delineated, for a quale can only be known by experiencing it. The same statements may be made of love and hate, of pleasure, of hunger and satiety, of jealousy, of fear and so forth. The list is long.

(2) Abstract Ideas

Ideas such as beauty and ugliness, good and evil, justice and injustice, are contents of consciousness and therefore experienced as weightless and without spatial extent. The general ideas themselves may be common to all mankind, but their application, because it varies in different cultures and at different times, cannot be called objective. To put it another way, these ideas as nouns are objective but as adjectives are not.

(3) Sense Experience

The sense of sight gives the experience that there are things outside of us that have a certain shape, size and color or combinations of colors. When we look in a mirror, we see that we have a body of which the same things may be said. When we approach things outside of us, touch them and try to lift them, we experience that they have weight--meaning that, of two things that appear to be the same size, one may be harder to move than the other.

We feel justified in believing that these things are real in their own right and not just real to us. However, we have no proof of this, for we are equipped with only the sensations themselves. Yet, because that belief constitutes the experience of all mankind, it is an objective belief.

On the other hand, we are justified in concluding that even if an object itself may not be identical to the experience of it, there must be something in the object that causes the experience. Thus, there should be some correspondence between the two that is sufficient to allow us to recognize the same or similar objects when they are later encountered.

(4) Time and Space

We have the experience that things are always changing in the world. The most perceptible kind of change, we call motion. The experience that things appear to move slower or faster, we call speed.

Because we are naturally inclined to try to tame the world by measuring everything we can, we reason that there must be what we call time and space to allow motion. This is the idea that there are fully determined intervals of time and space. However, two thousand years ago in his Dialectic, Zeno of Elea revealed serious problems with this idea. In essence, he demonstrated that discrete intervals of time and space cannot account for motion.

In the early Twentieth Century, the English philosopher, John McTaggart, showed that an A-Series---where time is ordered in discrete intervals of past, present and future—did account for the “flow of time” but could not give a meaningful account of the present. In his B-Series, where time is ordered as “before and after,” the anomaly of the present was eliminated at the cost of excluding the flow of time. McTaggart therefore concluded that time is unreal.

However, these apparent contradictions disappear if time is treated as perfectly continuous in the sense that it is not a series of discrete intervals. But, then another problem arises, “how can we account for different lengths of time if it contains no discrete intervals?”

The answer is that the primary condition of the world is change and motion (collectively, “happening”). In the world, happening is irreducible, but in the mind, it is divisible into discrete intervals of time and space. Because this divisibility is native to the human mind, it is objectively true. That is, it is true to us but not true in itself.

On the other hand, time and space are discursive and not intuitive, for they are derived from motion and change. Thus, it may be properly said that time and space are well-founded in reality even though they are only ideas. However, because there are no discrete intervals, there are no perfect lengths of time and space, and all such lengths are mere approximations.

(5) Causation

It is the universal conviction of all of humanity that when there is the invariable conjunction of two events the first causes the second. This means, in the human mind that the second event would not have happened but for the first. To put it another way the first event is necessary to the existence of the second.

However, we cannot say with certainty that, when we experience the first event, we will always experience the second, for we cannot experience all things. All we can say is that when an invariable conjunction is experienced, we are justified in believing that causation is at work so long as the invariability continues.

So that causation is objective. And, it may be real in itself, but we have no way of knowing this with certainty.

Mathematics and science

All that we say of time and space is true of mathematics, and all that we say of causation is true of science.
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Re: Definition of phenomenal consciousness

Postby neuro on October 9th, 2020, 7:48 am 

...
From the opening post
Dave_C » February 1st, 2015, 10:36 pm wrote: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.
...
In his book “The Conscious Mind”, Chalmers instead of breaking up consciousness into easy and hard phenomena, he calls them psychological consciousness and phenomenal consciousness (p-consciousness for short) respectively.


Well, it is my impression that the only wrong doing here is to use the word consciousness.
Because it is misleading.
Because if we talk about the scientific inexplicability of feeling pain (or hunger) it should be clear that we are talking about that!
Introducing a "p-consciousness" story, instead, makes people think we are talking about some complex psychological phenomenon related to the extremely complex functions of consciousness, possibly of human consciousness in particular, and possibly even of human self-consciousness (the capability of not only feeling, but also feeling that one is feeling).

This is the reason why I thought that noting that subjectivity (self-centredness) precedes consciousness - obvious as that may be - might be relevant to the discussion.
When you add the unexplained but trivial capability of feeling pain (which a computer cannot do and science cannot explain) or any other emotions, then subjective experience becomes personal experience and what we normally call consciousness - and all the qualia we can speculate about - come into existence.
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Re: Definition of phenomenal consciousness

Postby Positor on October 9th, 2020, 8:48 am 

neuro » October 9th, 2020, 12:48 pm wrote:This is the reason why I thought that noting that subjectivity (self-centredness) precedes consciousness - obvious as that may be - might be relevant to the discussion.
When you add the unexplained but trivial capability of feeling pain (which a computer cannot do and science cannot explain) or any other emotions, then subjective experience becomes personal experience and what we normally call consciousness - and all the qualia we can speculate about - come into existence.

If I understand you correctly, I agree.

An inquisitive child might ask: "Why am I me, rather than someone else?". What they mean is: "Given that billions of people exist, why do I have this person's experiences, rather than those of someone else?". This may look as if it based on a tautology ("I am me"), but the tautology can be removed by framing the question in quasi-solipsistic, Husserlian terms, in which one takes one's own viewpoint as fundamental and 'brackets out' the 'objective' world. The question then becomes: "Why is the fundamental viewpoint (the 'found' viewpoint, if you like) that of person X rather than some other person?".

So I see two related questions:

1. How can qualia be explained?
2. How can the phenomenal/subjective 'I' be explained? How does the fact of 'being this person' arise?

I think (1) is potentially scientific, although currently beyond the capability of science. But (2) looks entirely metaphysical – unless some entirely new way of thinking arises which would connect it to science.
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Re: Definition of phenomenal consciousness

Postby charon on October 9th, 2020, 12:01 pm 

capability of feeling pain (which a computer cannot do and science cannot explain)


Well, a computer feels nothing because it's not a biological organism with a nervous system.

We, on the other hand are precisely that. The nervous system alerts us to danger of injury, or that there is one, which is very intelligent.

But there's more than that. We're able to become aware of that pain and investigate it. That's a process of thought, knowledge, and recognition. All that is the operation of memory. If we had no knowledge, and therefore no recognition, of pain what would happen?

This memory/thought process is as much part of us as the nervous responses; we function as a unit. That's also part of intelligence. We can avoid pain, investigate pain, and treat pain.

We can call this whole process consciousness, if we like. It's fundamentally sensory, as pleasure is sensory. It's not just the body that experiences sensation, it's all of us. We can separate parts verbally but we are a whole. This is the basis of holistic medicine.

But what's interesting is that we know what we are, we're aware of it. There's this self-reflective element to consciousness which is somewhat of a mystery. The computer, or any other machine, performs functions but has no awareness of itself. We do. It's this that science can't explain.

After all, what is light?
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Re: Definition of phenomenal consciousness

Postby Positor on October 10th, 2020, 10:10 am 

Further to my post above, I note that question (2) was discussed in 2018 in a thread entitled "Are You Surprised that You're You?" (Anything Philosophy).
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Re: Definition of phenomenal consciousness

Postby charon on October 10th, 2020, 11:52 am 

2. How can the phenomenal/subjective 'I' be explained? How does the fact of 'being this person' arise?


It's obvious how it arises. We are separate physically so there must be a reference for oneself. The norm is 'I' or 'me'. And, for others 'you' or 'they'. We have words for everything else so we need one for ourselves. Apart from our names, of course.

What's the problem here?

If you mean how does the whole sense of self arise, that again is simple. We have senses which function internally and outwardly. Outwardly for what's outside us and internally for pain, hunger, sadness, joy, or anything else.

That's what it means to be conscious. When you say 'I am lonely' it means there's an experiencing of the feeling called loneliness in reference to oneself.
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Re: Definition of phenomenal consciousness

Postby BadgerJelly on October 10th, 2020, 10:00 pm 

It may be of use to some here to try a different approach.

For example, take ‘nostalgia’ ... we are not inclined to ‘define’ nostalgia in scientific terms nor are we inclined to get caught up in a philosophical approach to what nostalgia ‘is’.

We can simply reevaluate our use of this term and perhaps say that ‘nostalgia’ is maybe a feeling that has a distinct feel to it because it is tied to the event of remembering something - an understanding of the nascent nature of thought. Meaning we experience something as ‘nostalgic’ due to a peculiar instance of thought that has ken of ‘a first memory’. The birth of self is shrouded within the narrative of memories and ‘nostalgia’ is the shadow of this temporal ‘self-recognition’ (for want of a better and less ‘temporally-weighted’ term).
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