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Consciousness and the Paranormal — Part 12

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Constance

Paranormal Adept
Yes. This all seems rather straightforward. Why did it catch your attention?
It came into my email yesterday as part of the current issue of the journal Acta Biotheoretica.
I found it interesting because it reports on further developments in the Nature/Culture issues and debates that have long vexed anthropology and sociology, and I posted it here because of its relevance to claims continuing to be made here that humans and other life forms are essentially automata determined by genetics.

At the moment I'm trying to figure out the difference between more culturally evolved and more socialized. Right now I don't see the difference. If socialization ≠ cultural evolution, what is the difference?
Think of it in terms of the difference between group behavior and socialization recognized in much/most of the animal kingdom and the proliferation in our species of countless distinctive cultures deveoping different ways of life, different beliefs and mores, different ways of being human. It's expressed in the paper's title: "The Cultural Evolution of Human Nature."
 

Constance

Paranormal Adept
This significant paper, which I found linked back in Part 9 of our forum, should be a primary text for our ongoing attempt to understand what consciousness is. I link it here now so that we might read it properly and discuss its implications for how we think about consciousness.

Marie Vandekerckhove, Jaak Panksepp, The flow of anoetic to noetic and autonoetic consciousness: A vision of unknowing (anoetic) and knowing (noetic) consciousness in the remembrance of things past and imagined futures

"Abstract -- In recent years there has been an expansion of scientific work on consciousness. However, there is an increasing necessity to integrate evolutionary and interdisciplinary perspectives and to bring affective feelings more centrally into the overall discussion. Pursuant especially to the theorizing of Endel Tulving (1985, 2004, 2005), Panksepp (1998a, 2003, 2005) and Vandekerckhove (2009) we will look at the phenomena starting with primary-process consciousness, namely the rudimentary state of autonomic awareness or unknowing (anoetic) consciousness, with a fundamental form of first-person ‘self-experience’ which relies on affective experiential states and raw sensory and perceptual mental existences, to higher forms of knowing (noetic and autonoetic) and self-aware consciousness. Since current scientific approaches are most concerned with the understanding of higher declarative states of consciousness, we will focus on these vastly underestimated primary forms of consciousness which may be foundational for all forms of higher ‘knowing consciousness’."

"1. Consciousness as a continuum of stages within consciousness studies and the experimental analysis of subjective experience, the relationship between the self, human memory and awareness has been considered in depth by many philosophers and theoreticians. Theories of higher forms of consciousness and awareness, along with actual studies in cognitive psychology, developmental psychology, and neurophilosophy have set the stage. We will focus on the theorizing of Tulving (1985, 2002, 2004, 2005) and Vandekerckhove (2009), on higher levels of awareness as ‘‘noetic” and ‘‘autonoetic” consciousness based on semantic and episodic memory systems and lower levels of primary-process experience, which can be conceptualized as ‘‘anoetic” consciousness relying on implicit procedural, sensory and affective memory and on the conceptualization and empirical foundation of raw affective consciousness of Panksepp (1998a, 2003, 2005, 2007), and primal perceptual consciousness (Merker, 2007) at the very lowest neuro-evolutionary levels. We will concentrate in particular on anoetic consciousness which presumably preceded higher levels consciousness in brain–mind evolution. Such evolutionary viewpoints bring us closer to the understanding of the cross-species foundations of the self, intertwined with the development of different stages of consciousness in newborn humans, as developing brains begin to make sense of the world in the progression toward psychological maturation (Northoff & Panksepp, 2008; Reddy, 2008; Trevarten & Reddy, 2007; Trevarthen, Aitken, Vandekerckhove, Delafield-Butt, & Nagy, 2006; Vandekerckhove, 2009). Developmentally, such integrative views help us understand how an enormous number of conscious experiences emerge from the flow of ancient mind–brain dynamics. It is now clear that young animals and humans deprived essentially of all neocortex are still conscious creatures, with primitive affective and sensory, perceptual capacities (Merker, 2007; Panksepp, 2008; Shewmon, Holmes, & Byrne, 1999). William James recognized this penumbra, the ‘‘psychic overtone” or ‘‘fringe” to higher awareness in his Chapter XI on Consciousness of his Principles of Psychology (1890):

‘‘The traditional psychology talks like one who should say a river consists of nothing but pailsful, spoonsful, quartpotsful, barrelsful, and other moulded forms of water. Even where the pails and the pots are actually standing in the stream, still between them the free water would continue to flow. It is just this free water of consciousness that psychologists resolutely overlook. Every definite image in the mind is steeped and dyed in the free water that flows around it. With it goes the sense of its relations, near and remote, the dying echo of whence it came to us, the dawning sense of whither it is to lead.”

This type of anoetic consciousness may include aspects of the ‘‘fringe consciousness” that has been extensively discussed by Mangan (2001) along with the accompanying dozen commentaries. In our view, this ‘‘free water of consciousness”, that has been underestimated empirically, is largely affective (Panksepp, 2003), based on ancient systems that encode basic (primary-process) emotional and motivational survival values, that are encapsulated within the concept of raw affective consciousness (Panksepp, 2008).

In our estimation, this anoetic form of consciousness, has not yet received the attention it deserves in this era of resurgence of work on subtle mind issues that is the focus of this article. We hypothesize that this anoetic-affective foundation may be the primal stuff from which higher forms of noetic and autonoetic consciousness emerged in Mind–Brain evolution (Mind–Brain and Brain–Mind will be used here with hyphenation to reflect that we are discussing a fully unified concept with no residue of dualism). Since this is a radical idea, to be explored from many distinct but converging perspectives, we will use a recursive style where some key arguments are reformulated in slightly different contexts and along many different trajectories of seemingly infinitely complex layers of Brain–Mind processing. In as complex and hierarchical developmental mental landscape as we will try to depict, one needs to view the same concept from many different, albeit harmonious, perspectives.

Based on this foundational view, as children undergo a continuous flow of developmental stages, they emerge from a state of unreflective, here and now anoetic consciousness to increasingly complex forms of self-awareness (Reddy, 2008). We envision these developmental stages to progress from a state of embryonic unconsciousness1 , to a global infantile biological adaptive state of unknowing, pure affective-sensorial and perceptual consciousness—two seemingly distinct forms of ‘‘anoetic” consciousness (affective-sensory and perceptual) toward higher forms of self-consciousness and intersubjective engagements. These higher forms of consciousness continue to rely on increasingly differentiated affective states along with increasingly complex implicit procedural memories that are gradually transformed into enduring forms of knowing consciousness.

Using a terminology developed by Tulving, primal ‘‘anoetic”—purely experiential and unreflective—consciousness, serves as a foundation for the emergence of knowing forms of consciousness that involve first noetic (knowledge-based), then autonoetic (self-awareness based) consciousness imbued with semantic and episodic memories, respectively.

We believe that the anoetic level of non-reflective, primary-process consciousness has been vastly neglected in consciousness studies, and our main aim here is to clarify, conceptually, how this level of analysis may be essential for understanding the higher levels of knowing and awareness—noetic and autonoetic consciousness. Since anoetic consciousness has probably received the least attention in consciousness studies compared to knowing forms of consciousness, our argument about evolutionary progressions and linkages is, by necessity, premised more on issues of conceptual coherence rather than on a rich storehouse of empirical information. The vision we wish to share is one which may help integrate many diverse lines of thought in consciousness studies, and provide a conceptual infrastructure for future studies of anoetic consciousness. Thus, we will here focus on the importance of a proper conceptualization of a primal form of pre-reflexive here-and-now ‘selfexperience’ or unreflective core-self-consciousness apparent at an anoetic level.

In the beginning, human infants do not remember events in time and contexts nor do they appear to reflect on the origin of their own knowledge and their experience of themselves as living organisms. They are presumably still living just in the ‘‘free flowing water” of consciousness, as William James put it, while increasingly being captivated by implicit experiential information about themselves and the world. With a growing sense of a personal self and unique identity, harvested from a continuous stream of being and acting, which begins a long and sustained trajectory as children are able to retrieve events and actions in ever longer and ever increasing time lines. All this is critically dependent on the maturation and developmental-epigenetic maturation of the neocortex. However, prior to this, at a time when children are not yet capable of retrieving from memory specific personal events in explicit forms, they do possess affective, sensory and perceptual states of being (Merker, 2007; Panksepp, 1998a), as well as intersubjective abilities (Reddy, 2008), and procedural information on an implicit level, much of it directly dependent on ancient subcortical functions. This cauldron of fundamental brain–mind processes is, as far as we know, the source of primary-process anoetic consciousness.

In order to understand conceptually the evolution of higher forms of consciousness that can reflect on idiographic personal aspects of self and identity, and the extended flow of events in the world, and eventually related states of others, (i.e., the emergence of ‘‘mental time travel”) we must first consider the antecedent forms of mind. Thus, we must first start with the nature of unconsciousness, which we suggest, serves as the foundation for the emergence first of an affective form of anoetic consciousness, followed soon or perhaps coincidentally with a more perceptual anoetic consciousness. Accordingly, any comprehensive approach to the problem of consciousness, must not only consider the problem of different evolutionary and developmental stages of consciousness, but also the nature of mental unconsciousness.

As William James put it: ‘‘Our normal waking consciousness, rational consciousness as we call it, is but one special type of consciousness, whilst all about it, parted from it by the flimsiest of screens, there lie potential forms of consciousness entirely different. We may go through life without suspecting their existence; but apply the requisite stimulus, and at a touch they are there in all their completeness, definite types of mentality which probably somewhere have their field of application and adaptation. No account of the universe in its totality can be final which leaves these other forms of consciousness quite disregarded” (James, 1902, p. 388). . . ."

[note 1] The issue of the unconscious is a very confusing topic in consciousness studies. Some seem to use the word for mental activity that does not have a reflective component, even though there may be a primal experiential component. Others use the term to mean a condition of the brain that has absolutely no experiential aspect at all-a state of the brain which is empty of raw feelings, perceptions, etc. – a view that is impossible to prove even in severe forms of brain damage such as those that lead to persistent vegetative states (Panksepp, 2007). Although impossible to prove for any living brain, that is the way we theoretically use that term here.


Jump in . . . here's the link . . . the water's fine:

(PDF) The flow of anoetic to noetic and autonoetic consciousness: A vision of unknowing (anoetic) and knowing (noetic) consciousness in the remembrance of things past and imagined futures
 

Michael Allen

Paranormal Adept
Handwaving and the use of pejoratives seems beneath a person of your intelligence. Maybe getting a bit cabin fevered? Here's a little light reading by a guy named Daniel Kostic ( see attachment ).
yeah ... I agree...cheap shot. I suppose I thought it was clever or funny at the time :)
 

Randall

J. Randall Murphy
Staff member
yeah ... I agree...cheap shot. I suppose I thought it was clever or funny at the time :)
Glad it wasn't intended to demean, but I fail to see the humor or why you would be so dismissive, other than perhaps you were having a moment when you really didn't think this discussion should be taken so seriously, and perhaps you would be right about that.
 

Soupie

Paranormal Adept
If we could safely assume that a non-biological machine is only superficially different from a human, and not zimply a philosophical zombie, there would be no justification for not giving it the same sort of consideration as any sentient being. The problem is that we don't know that we can safely make that assumption, and we may never know.
I didn’t take @Michael Allen comment to be trolling etc. And I’m surprised to see @Constance endorse this argument, as she has always been skeptical of the p zombie “argument.”

As the P zombie argument for humans is as Michael implies weak, it would be just as weak applied to a non-biological machine that was comparable to humans in functioning and behavior.

the intuition that the mind is distinct from the body is false. This intuition results from the recursive nature of knowing and perceiving. There is no dualism between mind and matter; the dualism is between nature and knowledge and perceptions of nature.
 

Randall

J. Randall Murphy
Staff member
I didn’t take @Michael Allen comment to be trolling etc. And I’m surprised to see @Constance endorse this argument, as she has always been skeptical of the p zombie “argument.”
Trolling is distinctly different than handwaving and using pejoratives as counterpoint. If Michael were a troll, he'd have been gone a long time ago. It takes more than the occasional offhanded comment to be relegated to troll status.
As the P zombie argument for humans is as Michael implies weak, it would be just as weak applied to a non-biological machine that was comparable to humans in functioning and behavior.
At this point, that is a proclamation without substance. It may not even apply to the question at hand. You'll need to provide more than that if the p-zombie allusion is to be invalidated.
the intuition that the mind is distinct from the body is false. This intuition results from the recursive nature of knowing and perceiving. There is no dualism between mind and matter; the dualism is between nature and knowledge and perceptions of nature.
Those are more unsubstantiated proclamations. Before they can add any weight to the issue at hand, we'd need to know what exactly you are basing them on and why they apply. Given that there are a number of perspectives on what constitutes minds, knowledge, bodies, persons, and consciousness, one of those perspectives might match with your claim. Whether or not it happens to match with whatever the case actually is, is another matter.
 

Constance

Paranormal Adept
"Soupie, post: 280699, member: 6548"]
I didn’t take @Michael Allen comment to be trolling etc. And I’m surprised to see @Constance endorse this argument, as she has always been skeptical of the p zombie “argument.”][/quote]

What gives you the impression that I endorse @Michael Allen's notions (pronouncements, declarations). I can't be endorsing his 'arguments' since he never develops arguments to support his presuppositions..

As the P zombie argument for humans is as Michael implies weak, it would be just as weak applied to a non-biological machine that was comparable to humans in functioning and behavior.

the intuition that the mind is distinct from the body is false. This intuition results from the recursive nature of knowing and perceiving. There is no dualism between mind and matter; the dualism is between nature and knowledge and perceptions of nature.
It's at least good to see you giving up your fixation on the mind-body problem, but you still fail to understand (or even to be interested in learning about) how the mind-body problem in living organisms is dissolved by the insights of the research explicated in the paper I linked above. Why don't you read that paper and come to terms with it?
ETA: Randall, would you please sort out what's misfiring in the 'quote' functions in the software today? Thanks.
 
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Soupie

Paranormal Adept
😂

So glad I decided to wade back into this “discussion.”

You want me to invalidate the p zombie argument? Since when was it valid haha?

@Constance No no, you we endorsing Ufology, not Michael. Which was odd because Ufology was using the p zombie thought experiment in his argument which you’ve always been skeptical of.

Have fun haha. 👋
 

Constance

Paranormal Adept
😂

So glad I decided to wade back into this “discussion.”

You want me to invalidate the p zombie argument? Since when was it valid haha?

@Constance No no, you we endorsing Ufology, not Michael. Which was odd because Ufology was using the p zombie thought experiment in his argument which you’ve always been skeptical of.

Have fun haha. 👋
Sorry, @Soupie. Your handwaving the issue away won't do. Do you have something to prove or not? If you think you have done so re: the issue you're raising here, by all means give us a link to where you have done so in this forum.
 

Constance

Paranormal Adept
😂

So glad I decided to wade back into this “discussion.”

You want me to invalidate the p zombie argument? Since when was it valid haha?

@Constance No no, you we endorsing Ufology, not Michael. Which was odd because Ufology was using the p zombie thought experiment in his argument which you’ve always been skeptical of.

Have fun haha. 👋
Just to be clear, I think you have never understood what I have been writing and citing here these last five or six years. You can exit the stage laughing if you like, but it doesn't impress me, or perhaps others.
 

Soupie

Paranormal Adept
If we could safely assume that a non-biological machine is only superficially different from a human, and not zimply a philosophical zombie, there would be no justification for not giving it the same sort of consideration as any sentient being. The problem is that we don't know that we can safely make that assumption, and we may never know.
A philosophical zombie is the argument that consciousness is more than just physical process bc it’s conceivable (but perhaps not actual) that there could be an entity with app the same physical attributes of a human but lacking consciousness.

A similar thought experiment was apparently proposed by Nagel where he said imagine meeting a complex alien entity on another planet. We could interact with it and talk with it and scientifically inspect it, but we couldn’t know for sure if it had consciousness like us.

What I took you to be saying was that because of this fact, we can’t be sure that machines that function and behavior like humans would be consciousness like us.

but I think that’s hardly an argument as by the same token we can’t be sure that other humans like us are conscious.

I didn’t think Michael Allen was being nasty or pejorative. He I believed was merely saying that’s no reason to believe machines can’t be conscious. Because by the same token we can’t be sure that any entity is conscious.

regarding whether the p zombie argument is valid. It’s valid so far as it illustrates the problems with supposing consciousness is material (physicalism). It’s not proven to be valid in the sense that there could indeed be an entity that was similar in every way to a human and yet be a zombie.
 

Soupie

Paranormal Adept
What I took you to be saying was that because of this fact, we can’t be sure that machines that function and behavior like humans would be consciousness like us.

but I think that’s hardly an argument as by the same token we can’t be sure that other humans like us are conscious.
And by that same token, we would have no reason to believe that aren’t conscious, like us.
 

diny

Paranormally Abled
My life is so strange that I have to question everything--even my very existence. So, consciousness is one thing that I have studied. I don't know where I am at really. I could be alive. I could be dead. I could be in a coma in a hospital bed or severely disabled, unable to sense the world around me. I could be involved with other dimensions or other beings. Consciousness came to mind the other day. I have 5 senses that work. I can see, hear, taste, smell and feel by touch. So, does that make me alive or am I imaging everything? Am I sensing things only because I believe that I am? Many philosophers have pondered this question for millennia. Some thought that they had the answer but I'm not sure that anyone can. I also like Depak Chopra's take. He says that we create our own reality. Does this mean that we create the physical or that we see and feel what we believe to be physical? I would love to hear what others have to say about this subject.
 
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