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October 18, 2018

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Hi JB

You wrote
"But to conclude that consciousness and the self are illusory and ultimately nonexistent would be as silly as believing that you literally have no head."

Consciousness may exist. Certainly awareness exists.
But our understanding of it is conceptual. Concepts aren't real. But they may not be illusion. They may be accurate principles about how reality functions.

It's a concept as far as we can think about and discuss.
That concept is not real. It may be informed by evidence. One person's understanding may be better than another's.

But with discussing consciousness, we're discussing a theoretical concept.

It's actual functioning is not fully measurable or understood.

We should not confuse the concept with the underlying reality anymore than we should not confuse a crayon drawing of the world with the actual world.

Scientifically, when we can duplicate conscience in the laboratory, say through a truly sentient computer, we will certainly have proven at lay s rudimentary understanding of consciousness.

Until then we are left with conjecture.

I suggest the argument for both God and consciousness are very similar, as is the case against them.

People think they are aware and see things objectively, but social psychology proves this is mostly illusion.

"I suggest the argument for both God and consciousness are very similar, as is the case against them."

Excellent

Why treat / be-reason them differently ?

But the ' I ' stays in a competition battle , knowing it lost

777

The same kind of battle the can expect from AI & I

@ 777.

I guess AI will reject that it was created by a creator - like Brian lol.

Great point 777. That’s refreshing to read and ponder!

Take care

Over the years I have studied, observed, collected and written on the subject of identity from which I have made the the following deductions on the nature of mind and self. It has been mostly an intellectual exercise yet informed by simple meditation and reflection. It is an on-going process which is why I still study and read Brian's blogs and the comments. This is why I like this particular piece of reasoning from JB. Although I understand and concur that consciousness is dependent on the brain I have arrived at a different perspective on the consciousness/ 'I' connection.

Simply put, I see our ability to be conscious as an evolved extension of the early-life ability to be aware. Even simple organisms are aware enough to move away from danger and towards food. More advanced creatures are aware enough to plan ahead and store food etc. Maybe it is all genes, instinct and chemistry, but that is the same for us – our brains amazing ability has evolved thought, a sense of self and to be able to be conscious of these happenings.

Firstly the mind. The brain's accumulation of information starts from birth and is an on-going process. This information becomes the contents that forms our minds and are purely arbitrary and accidental; they are determined by the time and place we are born, by our parents and peers, the local religion, country, beliefs and so on, this information becomes our identity, who we are, our 'selves'. The mind is the brain's 'store' of information – it is from the mind that a 'self' is constructed

The human brain with its ability to reflect (be aware or conscious) must inevitably create ‘one who reflects' – called the 'self'. The self, the I, or me I posit here is a mental construct. It is an illusion only in the sense that it is not what we may habitually think it is – i.e. not an independent, separate entity but an emergent phenomenon of the brain. It is a process.

The mind (being the accumulation of information) cannot 'see itself'. Neither can the self or thought see itself. For this it relies on consciousness. The mind, thought and the sense of self (or I) are made known through the brains ability to generate consciousness. “The neurological basis for consciousness is well established. The brainstem awakens the thalamus and cortex above, which in turn gives us the human experience”. (From K. Nelson's book – The God Impulse). The self is inextricably linked to consciousness – as is everything perceived physically and mentally.

I feel to understand the processes that construct the mind and the self, is to understand our often almost neurotic search for meaning and validation. The mind and self are real and necessary for our survival, yet so often, maintaining these structures causes untold division and conflict for ourselves and the world in general.

Turan, I basically agree with your points. I also agree that consciousness (the "I" process) is not independent or separate process. It doesn't need to be.

There are a couple of points I'd like to add.

1.) I would contend that the brain and mind are indeed identical and this has unavoidable implications. The neuronal-configuration and the felt-experience are the simultaneous objective and subjective modes of a single unified event. As such, one cannot reasonably isolate one mode as having greater reality, primacy, or causality.

2.) I ended that message with the emphasis on the significance of experience. Felt-experience is a feedback mechanism unlike any other because the condition of being conscious is necessarily required.

On feedback mechanisms: "Our body uses the feedback it receives from a particular process to monitor how well it is functioning. Based on the outcome, it decides whether it should continue performing a specific action, or if it should stop the action. This is called a feedback mechanism."

A feedback loop is a form of self-monitoring and self-adjustment, otherwise known as control. When the monitoring is contingent on the state of being conscious, what you effectively have is a form of conscious self-adjustment.

The negative feedback loop and positive feedback loop correspond to negative and positive experience, respectively. For instance, a biological negative feedback loop is the "counteraction of an effect by its own influence on the process giving rise to it, wherein the result of a certain action may inhibit further performance of that action." In other words, if a particular action generates a negative felt-experience as a result, that experiential result will inhibit the further performance of that particular action.

Perhaps demonic possessions ( and please don’t get hung up on that term “demonic”) are just illusions too loool. Created by the mind and “i”!!!

JB says: "With the consciousness of reality or the consciousness of an illusion, consciousness is the common denominator. While all of the objects of consciousness may in fact just be illusions, if one is conscious of these appearances, one can know that consciousness itself exists and is therefore not an illusion.

Plants have awareness and they don't have a brain, but they do have some kind of consciousness, they react to music, pain, sound, touch, words, stimuli.

This is a funny and fascinating experiment...

"Shocking experiment proves plants & trees can see, have emotions, memory & react to environment" (3:39)

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

Might be shocking again
but

Stones have, . . Mountains, . . Planets , Stars, Galaxies, .... Universes

But in another time_space , even the animals in another one

Nothing exists without His Breath

If we knew What we are talking about
more respect will exist

Without Love nothing would be possible
all types of Love, .. big or micro-minuscule

Wonderful

777


Even Particles of energy respond to each other.
Consciousness is everywhere. Spooky!


https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?feature=5210


https://www.nytimes.com/1997/07/22/science/far-apart-2-particles-respond-faster-than-light.html


Perhaps we need to remember that much of what the brain detects never becomes conscious. Feedback, whether from the internal environment of our brain/bodies or from the environment around us more often than not does not become the conscious experience. What If the 'controller' never consciously experiences the 'feed-back' loop? It is widely known that many experiences never appear in consciousness. The eye sees the dark shape but the brain only reacts to register it consciously when it perceives it move and becomes a bear.

Whatever theories we suggest, the whole purpose of being conscious – or any other sentient attribute – is for the purpose of survival. Does the ability to be conscious derive from the awareness of simple single-celled organism. Jen mentions that “Plants have awareness and they don't have a brain, but they do have some kind of consciousness”. In this context I would prefer the term aware rather than conscious.

And perhaps awareness is all there is – the cognitive faculty, evolved by natural selection, designed to help us make sense of ourselves and our surroundings. An awareness of the thoughts, memories and sense of self that goes on internally and awareness of the immediate environment. The concept 'consciousness' is relatively new in science and philosophy. It was recently made 'the hard problem' by Chalmers - and utilised by philosophers who love to weave mysteries around life.

https://www.facebook.com/LanguageEvolution/photos/rpp.318345618319572/1101020293385430/?type=3&theater

Turan: "Perhaps we need to remember that much of what the brain detects never becomes conscious. Feedback, whether from the internal environment of our brain/bodies or from the environment around us more often than not does not become the conscious experience."

True, yet this in no way negates the fact that some feedback (in the form of felt-experience) does become conscious content which makes it, by definition, conscious feedback. Since the feedback mechanism ultimately functions for the purpose of self-regulation, this particular form—regardless of how quantitatively minor it may be—consists of behavioral self-modification arising from the condition of being conscious.

Turan: "What If the 'controller' never consciously experiences the 'feed-back' loop? It is widely known that many experiences never appear in consciousness."

When the condition of being conscious occurs, the felt-experience is the feedback. Obviously directly unexperienced dynamics (pH regulation for instance) would not be involved in the experience-based behavioral feedback loop.

Do you mean to imply that proven biological systems phenomenon of feedback is a myth when you put it in quotes?

Hi JB
You wrote
"When the condition of being conscious occurs, the felt-experience is the feedback. Obviously directly unexperienced dynamics (pH regulation for instance) would not be involved in the experience-based behavioral feedback loop."

Turan had actually written something a little different

" Turan: "Perhaps we need to remember that much of what the brain detects never becomes conscious. Feedback, whether from the internal environment of our brain/bodies or from the environment around us more often than not does not become the conscious experience."

In traditional Behavior modification the subject's awareness is inconsequential to behavior change, even permanent change.

Even in respondent conditioning, where the subject actually acts to trigger a positive response, they may not be aware of the response or that their action or sequence of actions are triggering it.

The mouse is hardly aware of its learning a maze to get to the cheese.

The pigeons playing ping pong in the lab are hardly aware of their own technique, or that their new found competitive spirit was awakened from food pellets judiciously provided at key moments.

Feedback does not often require conscious awareness.

We learn lessons and acquire habits often without our participation, or even in spite of efforts to the opposite.

Our brain adapts to what it will accept, even before it shares any of that feedback with us.

In so many ways our conscious awareness of so much is tangential and of no consequence.

"We think we move, but we are being moved."
- Goethe

Oops Operant conditioning is the correct term for Behavior mod, rather than respondent or classical conditioning.

Spence: "Feedback does not often require conscious awareness."

"Often" being the operative word. I'm speaking about that which does require the condition of being conscious.

Spence, if performing the particular action of eating clams produces the experience of intense unremitting nausea for you, would that felt-experience be totally inconsequential to any subsequent action regarding the performance of that action (eating of clams)?

The felt quality of nausea, being an experience, is entirely dependent on the condition of being conscious. And if that felt-experience figures into the modification of your future behavior (avoidance of eating clams), then it is behavioral self-modification dependent on, and arising directly from, the condition of being conscious.

Hi Spence, I agree with... "Even in respondent conditioning, where the subject actually acts to trigger a positive response, they may not be aware of the response or that their action or sequence of actions are triggering it."

I've just recently realised that I am far too polite and nice especially living in Australia where the people are very blunt, so my reaction is usually nice and polite to someone and then afterwards I think to myself why did I say that, just because I don't want to hurt other people's feelings! Its conditioning I suppose.

Hi JB
The example you provided nicely depicts Classical or Pavlovian conditioning. The taste elicits either a satisfying or a negative sensation. That is generally not under your control. Your subsequent aversion to clams (or in the opposite case a mouth watering response upon seeing food associated with satiation of hunger) also is not under your control. These happen largely without your volition, at the autonomic level. And they become unconscious conditioning you may not be aware of.

Then the sight of clams, or the logo of the restaurant serving them, or a face similar to the waitress who served them all can yield a very negative reaction of aversion for the remainder of your life.

This helps explain attractions and aversions to things that we have no explanation for, which may have been caused by early childhood experiences or traumas we no longer recall. People are obsessed with certain objects and people and have fears beyond reason of others. And generally they can't recall why. So they often attribute the cause to any number of wrong sources. And that becomes part of their narrative, their persona.

Having a dear friend die while in the Sangat can turn their significant other against the sangat for life. And they will justify this for any number of logical reasons that actually have nothing to do with the conditioned aversion to the sangat.

The practice of deep meditation is a powerful method to bring forth these hidden conditioned responses so they can be melted away in a sea of bliss, but we do need to become fully aware of them for that to happen, otherwise they remain locked into our programing. Even in meditation, courage, fortitude and persistence are necessary.

Washing ourselves of these old conditions (and new ones) which are really our prison bars, is a daily process.

The result is greater conscious awareness, and greater freedom of will.

Just because you do not see the invisible prison bars of one's own unconscious doesn't mean they aren't there.

They are very real, though hidden, and we all must struggle to work through them, to find freedom. To breathe free.


Just because you do not see the invisible prison bars of one's own unconscious doesn't mean they aren't there.

They are very real, though hidden, and we all must struggle to work through them, to find freedom. To breathe free.


Hi Spence,

I'm reminded of Maharaji's advice: "Be bold enough to struggle".

"Struggle" is such an interesting word. No matter what's hidden,
it's always just to be still and become aware of it

"Do you mean to imply that proven biological systems phenomenon of feedback is a myth when you put it in quotes?"
(Posted by: JB | October 21, 2018 at 12:44 PM)

No JB., it's a writing habit of mine, there just for 'emphasis' and to draw attention to the subject - perhaps unnecessary, but hey.

Spence: "The example you provided nicely depicts Classical or Pavlovian conditioning. The taste elicits either a satisfying or a negative sensation. That is generally not under your control. Your subsequent aversion to clams (or in the opposite case a mouth watering response upon seeing food associated with satiation of hunger) also is not under your control."

Just to be clear, I'm not claiming the nature of the sensation or one's attraction/aversion to a sensation are modifiable. I'm merely saying that the experiential nature of an event (positive or negative) is factor in subsequent engagement in that action or not (modification of behavior). Therefore, the result is the modification (or direction) of experienceable behavior based on felt-experience, and this felt-experience is, by definition, entirely dependent on the condition of being conscious.

Maybe this has interesting implications, maybe it doesn't. I'm not claiming anything like "free will", only that the condition of being conscious is consequential, either directly or indirectly, on the modification of behavior. It should be noted that this experience-mediated modification occurs automatically, by virtue of simply being conscious.


Hi JB

Yes it can work as you say. We can have a level of conscious experience at the time.

But it is also true that while conscious we may not be aware of it happening at the time. We may attribute the experience to the wrong cause or even to something positive even while it is effecting us negatively and we find ourselves avoiding similar situations in the future.

Modification of behavior is largely out of our control.

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