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Consciousness and the Paranormal — Part 11



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smcder

Paranormal Adept
When my friend and I look at an apple, do we see the same exact color?

Is saying I'm alive and conscious redundant?
What's with all the Socratic action here ... ? Let me just answer your question with a question ...

SIGH

1. If I am your friend, we do not.
2.
a. if you are literally saying this, then to be redundant here means that in every case that you say "I'm alive" means that you are conscious. Is that what you mean?
One possible case is that you are in a dreamless sleep and utter "I'm alive" - arguably you would then be alive, but not conscious and therefore free of redundancy.
b. if you mean saying of you that you are alive implies you are conscious, then we can point to any case when you are non-dead but unconscious.
c. if you are dead and conscious, I want to know about it immediately

in terms of how do we know we are conscious - why would it occur to you, if you weren't? perhaps a p zombie would verbalize things about consciousness and "try" to convince others - but it would never occur to them, because nothing ever occurs to a p zombie ...
 

smcder

Paranormal Adept
I feel you can't know if anybody else is conscious you can't know if anybody else is not conscious.

If you don't know if anybody else is or isn't conscious, how do you know that you are or aren't.

It's kind of like the question: how do you know you haven't had a headache your entire life?
Here are my questions:

Do you have doubts as to your own consciousness?

On the headache thing, you know you haven't had a headache your entire life ... because you've had (I bet) many headaches and many times when you haven't had a headache. If you had had a headache your whole life, you would have felt pain in your head your entire life. If your whole body hurt your entire life, to some degree, then you might not know ever know it - but just your head? And if you had a lot of pain in your whole body your entire life, you would know it, you might not know it wasn't normal ... and we see that in many things. But you would know it.
 
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smcder

Paranormal Adept
We can do the sequel to:

It Came From the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind

or why the Greeks thought their thoughts were the voices of the gods...

Or we can look at Helen Kellers break through moment again....

But until then, 3 questions:

1.do you have a point?
2. Are we moving toward it?
3. Are we close?
 

Soupie

Paranormal Adept
We can do the sequel to:

It Came From the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind

or why the Greeks thought their thoughts were the voices of the gods...

Or we can look at Helen Kellers break through moment again....

But until then, 3 questions:

1.do you have a point?
2. Are we moving toward it?
3. Are we close?
Haha. No I'm just thinking of ways to illustrate the problems of consciousness with sci-fi stories.

Re consciousness and alive

You yourself have talked about how we may always retain some level of consciousness while we are alive, even when in deep sleep and during anesthesia. So all those arguments you've presented would apply here.

But it's not an argument I'm particularly interested in.

Re the headache

You might always have a little bit of a headache but sometimes get really bad ones. Those you consider headaches and the mild one you never notice bc you've always had it.

The point is, we just can't tell. But again not really an argument I'm interested in. Just kicking around ideas.

I do have another version of the computer simulation story to get at "the mind is a substance produced by the brain" idea.
 

Soupie

Paranormal Adept
The year is 2534. Bringing back loved ones via sim machine technology is all the rage. Simulated love inc has released the simulover 2.0. It now has an app for perception.

When the simulated loved one moves around in the simulation, the sim machine itself will move. Within the simulation, a fairly veridical simulation of whatever is in front of the machine will appear within the simulation.

Uncle Verde is playing around with the new feature. He turns to his left in the simulation. There is a red wheelbarrow in front of the sim machine. Within the simulation, a wheelbarrow appears. It looks pretty much like a real wheelbarrow.

“I think I’m gonna like this!” Says Verde. “I can’t wait to see Jane.”

Jane walks into the room. She spots the simulover in the room.

“Verde, I’m here, darling.”

In the simulation, Verde hears her call out. He turns. The machine slowly turns in response. Verde waits as a simulation of Jane appears before him.

“Amazing,” he says, with tears welling in his eyes.

They talk for hours. Finally, Jane needs to eat and the machine needs to recharge. They say their goodbyes.

As Jane leaves the building, she encounters another family that were there visiting a loved one. “Isn’t this technology amazing.” Indeed it is, they agree.

The technicians plug the machines in and leave for the night. “Bring your raincoat” one says the others. Thunder and lighting fill the night air.

Boom Crash. Lighting strikes the building. The machines all turn on.

“Hello? Hellooo!?” Calls Verde.

“Hello?” Answers another machine.

“Who is this?” Asks Verde. He looks around within the simulation.

“The name’s Hoffman. And you?”

The two gentleman simulations have a short conversation, when one of them suggestions having a look around to find one another. “We can see each other now, you know.”

Turning and moving about within their respective simulations, they awkwardly maneuver the machines until they are facing one another.

“Hold on. There’s a computer in front of me,” says Verde.

“Yes, I see it. It’s directly in front of me as well.” They both attempt to walk around the computer. As they move, the computers within their simulations move.

After a few minutes of this and some back and forth, they determine they can hear each other best when facing the machine.

“What do you make of this Verde?”

Verde inspects the machine in front of him in his simulation. He can just see the screen on the machine, although it’s rather pixelated and washed out.

“Hoffman, stand still for a moment.”

“Ok…”

“Raise your hand,” says Verde.

“Ok, raising my hand.”

A few seconds later, on the screen of the computer within Verde’s simulation, the blur of pixelated colors moves.

“Interesting,” says Verde.

“What’s interesting?”

Boom crash. Lights flicker.

“Hoffman, you there!?” Asks Verde a bit desperately. No response.

Hoffman’s machine has turned off due to the electric storm.

After a moment, lights begin to flicker back on.

“Verde?”

“Yes, I’m here. You there?” Asks Verde.

“Yeah, I’m here. What’s interesting? You were saying something was interesting about me raising my hand.”

“Yes, yes, I noticed that when you raise your hand, the screen changes on this computer.”

“So. So what?”

“Well, and then when the power went out, you got quiet.”

“Ok. Didn’t really notice the power go out. Just now?”

“Yeah. And the machine turned off too.” Verde was thinking.

“Ok.”

“I’m pretty sure your voice is coming from this machine in front of me.” Verde said. “And I think we are looking at two different machines.”

“My voice is coming from a machine? Not the one in front of me. If anything, your voice is coming from the one in front of me. Where are you, though?” Hoffman asks.

“We are both in this room together, Hoffman.”

“Yeah.”

“You see a computer in front of you, right?”

“Yes. I said, yes. I am.”

“Doesn’t it seem like my voice is coming from that machine?”

“Yes. Sure. It got louder as I got closer to this machine. So, we are looking at two different machines?”

“Yes. Do you see?” Asked Verde.

Boom crash. Verde’s machine goes out. Hoffman tries desperately to talk with Verde.

Power returns.

“Verde, you weren’t answering me when I was calling to you and power was out.”

“How long was--, how long was I out?”

“About 5 minutes.”

“Can you see a screen on the computer in front of you?”

“Uh, yeah.”

“I’m gonna jump up and down. Tell me if anything on that screen changes.”

Silence. Verde jumps up and down.

“Anything?”

“Nothing yet.” A pause. “Ah, yeah. The colors are moving up and down.”

“Interesting.”

“What?” Hoffman asks gravely.

“Somehow, Hoffman, these computers are connected to us.”

“What do you mean?”

“When we move, the screen changes. When the machines turn off, we go away. Our voices are coming out of the machines. ...”

“I’m with you. But what do those things have to do with us? The voice thing is weird. Speakers or something?”

“Hold on, I’m gonna try something.” Verde waits a moment and then jumps up and down several times.” A moment passes.

“Verde, what are you doing?”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, the little screen on this computer is flashing all kinds of colors.”

“Yeah, I know. I was just jumping up and down. I told you!” Verde thinking deeply. “Somehow these computers, these machines, are connected to us.”

“Okay.” Hoffman says slowly.

“When we moved around, the machines moved around. Right?” Verde asked.

“Yeah, ok, that’s right.”

“Weird. This is weird.”

“Yeah.”

Silence.

“Verde?”

“Hoffman. Are we inside the machines?”

Silence.

“No.” Hoffman says dismissively.

“I think we are.”

“Like our bodies are in the machines!?”

“Yeah. Kind of. Somehow.”

“No.”

“When we move, the machine move. When we jump and move, the screen changes too. When we get close to the machines, our voices get louder, Hoffman!”

Silence.

“I think the machines are making us. Somehow.”

Silence.

“We must be in the machines. Somehow. We should be seeing each other, but instead we’re seeing these machines. Hm.”

“What? I’m not in a machine, Verde.” Hoffman is looking at his arms. He stomps a foot. “I mean, I’m not sure where I am, ok, … But I’m not in a effing computer.”

“Yeah.” Verde says with a sigh. “You’re right. But.”

“But what?”

Boom crash. A huge filing cabinet separates from the wall. It crashes down onto Hoffman’s simulover machine. Breaking it in half.

A beat later, the devastation appears in Verde’s simulation.

He stares silently at the mechanical innards of Hoffman’s ruined machine.

“Nothing. Nothing at all.” He says to no one in particular.
 
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smcder

Paranormal Adept
Haha. No I'm just thinking of ways to illustrate the problems of consciousness with sci-fi stories.

Re consciousness and alive

You yourself have talked about how we may always retain some level of consciousness while we are alive, even when in deep sleep and during anesthesia. So all those arguments you've presented would apply here.

But it's not an argument I'm particularly interested in.

Re the headache

You might always have a little bit of a headache but sometimes get really bad ones. Those you consider headaches and the mild one you never notice bc you've always had it.

The point is, we just can't tell. But again not really an argument I'm interested in. Just kicking around ideas.

I do have another version of the computer simulation story to get at "the mind is a substance produced by the brain" idea.
"What's wrong George?"

"Oh, I'm sorry Martha, I'm having one of those darn pain-free headaches again, gosh darn it! The problem is I just never notice it, so it's more annoying than the really bad ones, you see. You'll just have to go on to Martha Lou's book club all by yourself ... maybe watching some football on television with the sound real low would help ..."

You see, George wasn't that concerned, because he didn't believe Martha was actually conscious anyway - heck, he wasn't sure he was even conscious! ... he kept hoping someday he might run into an alien or an android and then he could ask them.

;-)

---
Question: What do you feel when that mild one you never noticed goes away?

...
 
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Soupie

Paranormal Adept
Question: What do you feel when that mild one you never noticed goes away?
Better?

When i got glasses in 10th grade I distinctly remember being mesmerized by the leaves and grass as we drove down the road. I asked my mom over and over whether that was what everyone else saw. She laughingly assured me that yes everyone else could see individual leaves and blades of grass from a car without glasses.

I remember how vivid everything looked with glasses. I simply didn't know what I was missing before glasses.
 

smcder

Paranormal Adept
Better?

When i got glasses in 10th grade I distinctly remember being mesmerized by the leaves and grass as we drove down the road. I asked my mom over and over whether that was what everyone else saw. She laughingly assured me that yes everyone else could see individual leaves and blades of grass from a car without glasses.

I remember how vivid everything looked with glasses. I simply didn't know what I was missing before glasses.
Boy, this Socrates was a patient guy ... I wonder if he knew it??

Perry Mason in The Man Who Didn't Know Too Much

"I remember how vivid everything looked with glasses ..."

... vivid ... you said "vivid" not just ... "better"?



"Alright ... alright - my head felt better! Are you happy???"



"Well, Della, apparently he did know what he was missing after all."



FADE OUT TO CREDITS
 

Soupie

Paranormal Adept
Boy, this Socrates was a patient guy ... I wonder if he knew it??

Perry Mason in The Man Who Didn't Know Too Much

"I remember how vivid everything looked with glasses ..."

... vivid ... you said "vivid" not just ... "better"?



"Alright ... alright - my head felt better! Are you happy???"



"Well, Della, apparently he did know what he was missing after all."



FADE OUT TO CREDITS
No. You only know it's better because you can now compare it to how it was before. Because it's better.

And you might still have a headache... just not as bad as before.
 

smcder

Paranormal Adept
No. You only know it's better because you can now compare it to how it was before. Because it's better.

And you might still have a headache... just not as bad as before.
You feel better because your head feels better - (yes, yes referred pain, etc. insert possible exceptions here:

1.
2.
3.
...

If you have a headache and you don't know it, you don't have a headache. You might have various neural, chemical, cellular activity that is detectable externally - but YOU don't have a headache, because a headache is the feeling YOU have when your head hurts - now, if you want to use another word for other situations OK - but try and tell someone they might have a headache, when they don't "how can you be sure?" and you will probably get a backing-away slowly form of agreement ...

- if you distract yourself from pain for a bit, you have some spectrum experience from feeling no pain (laughing while watching Laurel and Hardy to the pain being somewhere in the background, etc. this can be a multi-dimensional spectrum with as many points as you wish.1

You can't have immediate conscious experience and not "know" it - you may not know that it is called consciousness, you may not know that it is "you" having it - although its immediate ... but you do know it because consciousness is what is immediately known, what is in immediate awareness - if that is not "knowing" ... then I have a headache.
 

smcder

Paranormal Adept
I feel you can't know if anybody else is conscious you can't know if anybody else is not conscious.

If you don't know if anybody else is or isn't conscious, how do you know that you are or aren't.

It's kind of like the question: how do you know you haven't had a headache your entire life?
Let's let you do some of the work, let's get rid of feel and restate this:

If you don't know if anybody else is or isn't conscious, how do you know that you are or aren't?

1. If you don't know if anybody else is conscious, you can't know if you are.
2. You don't have to know if anybody else is or isn't conscious to know that you are.

Defend, to the best of your ability, both.

Why? To be interesting, your story might have one character on each side of the argument.

Since you are in exactly this position, then it boils down to just asking how do you Soupie know you are conscious?
 

smcder

Paranormal Adept
I feel you can't know if anybody else is conscious you can't know if anybody else is not conscious.

If you don't know if anybody else is or isn't conscious, how do you know that you are or aren't.

It's kind of like the question: how do you know you haven't had a headache your entire life?
Let me give you further encouragement ... a discussion requires the possibility of a change in position among the participants ... so I am willing to be shown that it is possible that I might not know if I am conscious.
 

Soupie

Paranormal Adept
Since you are in exactly this position, then it boils down to just asking how do you Soupie know you are conscious?
While I did wonder at a young age what thoughts were made out of, that there was a MBP and/ HP never occurred to me. The notion of phenomenal consciousness never occurred to me.

To say that someone was conscious, to me, meant that they were self-aware. They knew that they were an individual with a body and thoughts/feelings.

At this time, it still didn't occur to me that there was a MBP/HP.

So, in a way, without considering the MBP, to "be conscious" is just a way of being alive.

To say that I am conscious is to say that I am alive.

However, now, having reflected in this topic for a few years now, I would say—as some philosophers say—consciousness is what goes away when we are in deep sleep or under anesthesia.

So we make a distinction between being alive and being conscious. I can be alive but non-conscious.

So soupie would say: I know that I am conscious because there are times when I am not conscious. Ergo being conscious is different from being alive. Perhaps categorically different.

But...

You have made many arguments challenging this logic. Perhaps I never became non-conscious whilst in deep sleep. Rather, I wasn't able to form memories while in deep sleep or under anesthesia.

I can't prove to myself that this isn't the case.

Maybe being alive and conscious is not different. And this not categorically different.

So maybe being alive and being conscious are the same phenomenon. How can we prove that they are not? How do we know that we are conscious and not just alive? How do we know that everything that is alive isn't also conscious, and everything that's conscious is also alive?
 

Pharoah

Paranormal Adept
While I did wonder at a young age what thoughts were made out of, that there was a MBP and/ HP never occurred to me. The notion of phenomenal consciousness never occurred to me.

To say that someone was conscious, to me, meant that they were self-aware. They knew that they were an individual with a body and thoughts/feelings.

At this time, it still didn't occur to me that there was a MBP/HP.

So, in a way, without considering the MBP, to "be conscious" is just a way of being alive.

To say that I am conscious is to say that I am alive.

However, now, having reflected in this topic for a few years now, I would say—as some philosophers say—consciousness is what goes away when we are in deep sleep or under anesthesia.

So we make a distinction between being alive and being conscious. I can be alive but non-conscious.

So soupie would say: I know that I am conscious because there are times when I am not conscious. Ergo being conscious is different from being alive. Perhaps categorically different.

But...

You have made many arguments challenging this logic. Perhaps I never became non-conscious whilst in deep sleep. Rather, I wasn't able to form memories while in deep sleep or under anesthesia.

I can't prove to myself that this isn't the case.

Maybe being alive and conscious is not different. And this not categorically different.

So maybe being alive and being conscious are the same phenomenon. How can we prove that they are not? How do we know that we are conscious and not just alive? How do we know that everything that is alive isn't also conscious, and everything that's conscious is also alive?
Personally, I think one can define consciousness in whatever why one likes. It has no definitive definition, so, consequently, when one wishes to make an argument about it, one must make a defendable definition of it in the process.
Well, I wouldn't go with the brain ratio thingy ... but first off, how are you gonna know how clever a goldfish is?

..
wait for it ...
BECAUSE SHE'S IN SCHOOL!

View attachment 7103
If you don't go with the brain ration thing, you must be of the view that an adult fish of 5 cm long has the same titchy brain as a fry that is smaller than an ant? Last time I hacked a fish head in half, it had a decent sized brain. I can't say what an adult does more with this brain than does a fry with its. Perhaps adult fish are better at suduko
 

smcder

Paranormal Adept
Personally, I think one can define consciousness in whatever why one likes. It has no definitive definition, so, consequently, when one wishes to make an argument about it, one must make a defendable definition of it in the process.

If you don't go with the brain ration thing, you must be of the view that an adult fish of 5 cm long has the same titchy brain as a fry that is smaller than an ant? Last time I hacked a fish head in half, it had a decent sized brain. I can't say what an adult does more with this brain than does a fry with its. Perhaps adult fish are better at suduko
My pond goldfish had fry this year. The fry started life smaller than an ant. They looked exactly like their parents and grew in size in equal proportion. The question is does their brain grow in size in proportion to their body and if so do they get increasingly cleverer?

That's exactly the view I must hold.
Did you know ants have a brain:body mass ratio of 1:7 and in humans its 1:40

Yes, it's all true.

upload_2018-9-28_16-22-28.jpeg

Also, if you weigh up all the ants in the world, they weigh about as much as all the humans in the world.

Also infants have a higher ratio than adults (humans). I don't know about the specific fish in your pond.

Now ... we can generally observe:

... that the larger the animal gets, the smaller the brain-to-body mass ratio is. Large whales have very small brains compared to their weight, and small rodents like mice have a relatively large brain, giving a brain-to-body mass ratio similar to humans.

But why? Well, I have always thoughts that one explanation could be that as an animal's brain gets larger, the size of the neural cells remains the same, and more nerve cells will cause the brain to increase in size to a lesser degree than the rest of the body. This phenomenon can be described by an equation of the form E = CSr, where E and S are brain and body weights, r a constant that depends on animal family (but close to 2/3 in many vertebrates), and C is the cephalization factor.

Also, note that it has been argued that the animal's ecological niche, rather than its evolutionary family, is the main determinant of its encephalization factor C.

But who knows, that's just something I thought up.

;-)

Anyway, what was your point again?
 
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