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  #51  
Old 10-10-2019, 05:02 PM
Novelty Bobble is offline
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But one of the definitional aspects of consciousness is that it's immediate - that's implicit in the frequent use of the words "aware" and "awareness" in definitions - not an edited greatest hits reel.
I don't see why that is necessarily the case. I don't think that consciousness is immediate, I don't think it is possible for it to be immediate. The structures of the brain handle inputs and make decisions, we become aware of those decisions at some point after that has happened.

Defining consciousness or self awareness is a bit slippery and malleable but I don't think there is any requirement that they must relate to a real-time and immediate mental phenomenon.

I think your analogy of an "edited greatest reel hits" is pretty good. how can it be otherwise? Given what we know that model certainly works. I don't see how the brain-processes can lag the "awareness" nor even how they can happen at the same time. Seems far more likely that there is at least some (even neglible) delay between the brain-process and the phonomena of becoming aware that such processing has taken place and that awareness is what I would term "consciousness".
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  #52  
Old 10-11-2019, 01:21 AM
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Originally Posted by Novelty Bobble View Post
I think your analogy of an "edited greatest reel hits" is pretty good. how can it be otherwise?
But then consciousness just gets reduced down to memory, and there's usually a distinction made between consciousness - awareness (implying "awareness now")) of both internal and external phenomena - and memory - review of past phenomena.

It's fine if you say they're the same, but that would be idiosyncratic usage of the word "consciousness", I feel. The general usage seems to imply if I engage in introspection now, I will be aware of phenomena now. Not some undefined time later.

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  #53  
Old 10-11-2019, 06:04 AM
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But then consciousness just gets reduced down to memory, and there's usually a distinction made between consciousness - awareness (implying "awareness now")) of both internal and external phenomena - and memory - review of past phenomena.
I can see the brain devoting processing power in different ways and prioritising that for the "immediate" situation and handling it differently for a deep memory search of past phenomena. I can see how they might appear different (in terms of speed) to whatever view of that we have (and that I term "consciousness"). however I don't think there needs to be a huge distinction made.
Whatever is going on under the hood we are "aware" of the of the immediate phenomena through the same mechanism as we become aware of the search and recall of deeper memories, even though the "experience" of that may be qualitatively different.

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It's fine if you say they're the same, but that would be idiosyncratic usage of the word "consciousness", I feel. The general usage seems to imply if I engage in introspection now, I will be aware of phenomena now. Not some undefined time later.
Idiosyncratic to some extent perhaps but then I think, as I have said elsewhere, that we run in difficulties with the language we have available to us when talking about these concepts. We may well need another word or phrase to refer to what I term "consciousness", happy to take suggestions on that.

Heck, even "now" is problematic. Is the sun shining "now"? We only know it was 8 minutes ago. There is an inherent limit to our ability to be "aware" of the sun's state. Likewise I suspect that even experiencing something "now" must have a necessary lag from when the sensing of the phenomena actually occurred. I don't think the laws of biology and physics allow otherwise.

Could all be wrong of course and research is sure to shed more light on this in future.
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  #54  
Old 10-11-2019, 01:28 PM
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In my opinion the only way that consciousness is an illusion is that consciousness includes the illusion that it's simpler than it is. It's a car with the hood down - you see wheels moving and make the natural presumption that they're powered by a single large hamster wheel connected directly to them rather than the complicated melange of tiny suplexing hamsters that is actually inside there.

The fact that you can detect the triggerings of a thought a few moments before the thought emerges onto the surface of consciousness is simply an aspect of the fact that the mind is made up of moving parts rather than a unitary sole soul. That's the illusion there - it feels like there aren't moving parts, when in fact there are.

So there is an illusion, but it's equivalent to the illusion that the chair you're sitting on is anything other than a bunch of molecules that aren't even touching each other. The solidity of the chair is an illusion. That doesn't mean the chair isn't real, of course. Or your consciousness either.
  #55  
Old 10-11-2019, 01:33 PM
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In my opinion the only way that consciousness is an illusion is that consciousness includes the illusion that it's simpler than it is. It's a car with the hood down - you see wheels moving and make the natural presumption that they're powered by a single large hamster wheel connected directly to them rather than the complicated melange of tiny suplexing hamsters that is actually inside there.
I think the illusion is like a car that you think is propelled by pushing on the gas pedal without realizing that pedal is connected to an engine that you can't see.
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Old 10-11-2019, 01:47 PM
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I think the illusion is like a car that you think is propelled by pushing on the gas pedal without realizing that pedal is connected to an engine that you can't see.
Could you explain the distinction you see there?
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Old 10-11-2019, 01:55 PM
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Could you explain the distinction you see there?
There's no presumption about a hamster wheel, you actually believe it is your foot, or even your mind that is making the wheels turn. You can't explain how that works, it doesn't make much sense if you try to explain it, but almost everyone sees it similarly.
  #58  
Old 10-11-2019, 02:03 PM
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There's no presumption about a hamster wheel, you actually believe it is your foot, or even your mind that is making the wheels turn. You can't explain how that works, it doesn't make much sense if you try to explain it, but almost everyone sees it similarly.
I was talking about the thing generating the consciousness being more complicated that it appears, even to the consciousness itself. So there would be no foot.

If you start talking about the foot then the response it to start talking about the hidden inner parts of the foot which make it work, which eventually leads us back to...the brain. And analogizing the brain with a brain kind of feels wrong to me.
  #59  
Old 10-11-2019, 02:25 PM
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I was talking about the thing generating the consciousness being more complicated that it appears, even to the consciousness itself. So there would be no foot.

If you start talking about the foot then the response it to start talking about the hidden inner parts of the foot which make it work, which eventually leads us back to...the brain. And analogizing the brain with a brain kind of feels wrong to me.
I wasn't really looking at your analogy that way. Not sure what you are saying but it is very tough to discuss this subject because of the inexact and varying terminology.

Maybe I can find an analogy to present my own thoughts on the matter.

ETA: We are aligned on your first sentence though.

Last edited by TriPolar; 10-11-2019 at 02:27 PM.
  #60  
Old 10-11-2019, 03:23 PM
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I wasn't really looking at your analogy that way. Not sure what you are saying but it is very tough to discuss this subject because of the inexact and varying terminology.

Maybe I can find an analogy to present my own thoughts on the matter.

ETA: We are aligned on your first sentence though.
I suppose I'll be lazy and just say that I'm a computer programmer. We build everything out of smaller things - numbers are ones and zeroes, letters are numbers, text is letters, panels and buttons and labels are collections of text and numbers arranged an an expected way, forms are panels and buttons and labels arranged in an expected way. The programs themselves are composed of execution blocks composed of functions composed of commands composed of even more basic commands. Everything is made of smaller things.

And all the things pay attention to only one level of things smaller than itself, if that. The forms know about the controls on them but don't care about the state variables that define the controls, nor do they care about the underlying code that defines how those controls are managed. The controls care about their state variables but don't care about how those variables are stored. It's all compartmentalized, essentially on a need-to-know basis.

I'm pretty sure consciousness is similar; we're unaware that our consciousness is actually a continually updated self-referencing state reviewer because knowing that doesn't help. We're unaware that our thoughts are developed and processed over seconds before emerging at the forefront of our consciousness because it doesn't matter. So there's an illusion of simplicity, but it's really just some parts of our mind not bothering to keep the other parts of our mind in the loop.
  #61  
Old 10-11-2019, 04:25 PM
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I suppose I'll be lazy and just say that I'm a computer programmer. We build everything out of smaller things - numbers are ones and zeroes, letters are numbers, text is letters, panels and buttons and labels are collections of text and numbers arranged an an expected way, forms are panels and buttons and labels arranged in an expected way. The programs themselves are composed of execution blocks composed of functions composed of commands composed of even more basic commands. Everything is made of smaller things.

And all the things pay attention to only one level of things smaller than itself, if that. The forms know about the controls on them but don't care about the state variables that define the controls, nor do they care about the underlying code that defines how those controls are managed. The controls care about their state variables but don't care about how those variables are stored. It's all compartmentalized, essentially on a need-to-know basis.

I'm pretty sure consciousness is similar; we're unaware that our consciousness is actually a continually updated self-referencing state reviewer because knowing that doesn't help. We're unaware that our thoughts are developed and processed over seconds before emerging at the forefront of our consciousness because it doesn't matter. So there's an illusion of simplicity, but it's really just some parts of our mind not bothering to keep the other parts of our mind in the loop.
OK, we can speak the same language. Consciousness is an application. It's running high level code who knows how many layers above the machine level. It's a very dynamic application, it can reflect on it's operation and modify itself, but it can't reflect directly on the lower level processes, and although can sometimes get the underlying code modified it's not done directly either. The lack of ability to see those underlying processes creates the illusion that they do not exist, and that that our thoughts come directly through the brain (or mind depending on your point of view).

I don't have any way of telling but I believe there are complex interface layers between the levels of code and that is what prevents introspection beneath the covers.
  #62  
Old 10-11-2019, 04:38 PM
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OK, we can speak the same language. Consciousness is an application. It's running high level code who knows how many layers above the machine level. It's a very dynamic application, it can reflect on it's operation and modify itself, but it can't reflect directly on the lower level processes, and although can sometimes get the underlying code modified it's not done directly either. The lack of ability to see those underlying processes creates the illusion that they do not exist, and that that our thoughts come directly through the brain (or mind depending on your point of view).

I don't have any way of telling but I believe there are complex interface layers between the levels of code and that is what prevents introspection beneath the covers.
We appear to be on the same (code-)page.
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Old 10-11-2019, 07:26 PM
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OK, we can speak the same language. Consciousness is an application. It's running high level code who knows how many layers above the machine level. It's a very dynamic application, it can reflect on it's operation and modify itself, but it can't reflect directly on the lower level processes, and although can sometimes get the underlying code modified it's not done directly either. The lack of ability to see those underlying processes creates the illusion that they do not exist, and that that our thoughts come directly through the brain (or mind depending on your point of view).

I don't have any way of telling but I believe there are complex interface layers between the levels of code and that is what prevents introspection beneath the covers.
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We appear to be on the same (code-)page.
I would sign off on this description as well. The word "emergent" is one I'm rather fond of in this context as well, but it doesn't capture the sense of microprocesses at work as elegantly as this description does.
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Old 10-12-2019, 05:59 PM
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What is excellent about that metaphor is that it captures that we are describing one and the same thing at different level descriptors, much akin to trying to describe a moving river of water. It is valid to attempt to describe that river by the actions of individual water molecules but sometimes the macroscopic level of fluid dynamics and flow, emergent of the patterns of interactions, is the more useful descriptor level.

What the metaphor misses is that the "higher language code" (a conscious sense of self with agency) is not at play for most of the information processing being done.

Let's back up some. I am fairly sure that a salamander feels pain and experiences sensations but highly doubt that it has a similar sense of self as we do. It seems likely to me that the higher language code, the sense of self with agency, only comes into play in the parts of the brain that are integrating and tangling lower level resonating strange loops of information processing to a degree that higher level abstract concepts are being creating and handled ...
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Old 10-12-2019, 07:35 PM
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From one of the Hindu philosophy viewpoints, the observer and the observed are both part of the system and are not separable. Just like a photon behaves as a particle or a wave, depending on the observer and the setup. What is the nature of the photon (whether particle or wave) when not interacting with anything else is an unanswerable question. (Correct me if I am wrong on my understanding of the physics here)


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How can I be deceived into thinking there is an I if there is no I?
The deception comes from thinking that events are independent of the observer (you). You either feel that there is a causality relationship between you and events around or that events are totally independent of you. In reality, they can be the first or the second, the first and the second, neither the first nor the second .....

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A magician can in principle produce any illusion you can imagine. Except the illusion that there is audience observing his illusion. If there is no audience, there is no illusion.
Agreed. The illusion is created as much by the audience as by the magician. But the audience members think they are observers and observing something objectively - and thatís where the member is deceiving her/himself.
  #66  
Old 10-15-2019, 04:02 PM
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We appear to be on the same (code-)page.
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I would sign off on this description as well. The word "emergent" is one I'm rather fond of in this context as well, but it doesn't capture the sense of microprocesses at work as elegantly as this description does.
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What is excellent about that metaphor is that it captures that we are describing one and the same thing at different level descriptors, much akin to trying to describe a moving river of water. It is valid to attempt to describe that river by the actions of individual water molecules but sometimes the macroscopic level of fluid dynamics and flow, emergent of the patterns of interactions, is the more useful descriptor level.
I didn't want to just leave this with a very broad and somewhat misleading analogy. I have decribed layers with a consciousness layer at the top. Layers don't describe it well because it sounds like a simple stack of processes when it is likely to be a web of interconnected processes with no real top. There's no way to tell if higher level processes can use the consciousness for something else with the same kind of one way interface seen with what we describe as lower level processes. At least we know there is a bottom, that's the level of the brain as a machine, but no idea still how it interconnects with the higher level processes.


The one way interfaces between processes are very interesting to me. There has to be a reason why they exist that way. It might simply be dealing with very different means of processing between nodes such as encountered with device interfaces in computers where the logical and physical definitions of the device are greatly different. It could also be some kind of security, to keep us from screwing up the other processes we can't see. Or maybe it's something very simple like a lack of necessity. I think it has a lot to do with all sorts of our illusions besides consciousness itself.


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What the metaphor misses is that the "higher language code" (a conscious sense of self with agency) is not at play for most of the information processing being done.

Let's back up some. I am fairly sure that a salamander feels pain and experiences sensations but highly doubt that it has a similar sense of self as we do. It seems likely to me that the higher language code, the sense of self with agency, only comes into play in the parts of the brain that are integrating and tangling lower level resonating strange loops of information processing to a degree that higher level abstract concepts are being creating and handled ...
I think the consciousness certainly involves multiple high level applications. It's difficult to know which of them are working at that sense of self level or just being used as tools by other parts. I think analogies begin to fail at this point in terms of how these processes work, though we can still use them to describe what they appear to do. This is partly why I find the one way interfaces interesting.

I have to get that Hofstadter book to see more specifically what he means by 'strange loops'. I don't like the phrase 'strange loops' because it sounds kind of woo-ish, there's nothing really 'strange' there to me. In terms of loops I think he is talking about re-entrancy and extensibility as we see it in computers. When pseudo-code is executed with a tight kernel, and is extensible by using the pseudo-code to extend the kernel we can start to see the underpinnings of the behavior. Another example is seen in OO where different different objects systems interact with each other. The comparison to Escher drawings seems to be more about abstraction and polymorphism to me, only slightly related, but certainly another part of the consciousness mystery.
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