Questioning Consciousness

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Re: Questioning Consciousness

Postby DrEvil » Fri Jul 05, 2019 5:37 pm

Sounder » Fri Jul 05, 2019 9:57 pm wrote:
Sounder » Mon Jul 01, 2019 1:39 pm wrote:
It makes more sense to consider that the subtle and small produces the large, rather than the current fashion of thinking that the large produces the small.


Dr Evl wrote...
Huh? What fashion is that? Any chance you could expand a little on that?


No, but you can, this quote is from a few pages back.

Dr. Evil wrote...
(we think. In a materialistic view our consciousness is an emergent property of the physical interactions happening inside our brains.


If you're going to take part in a discussion is it so much to ask that you actually bother explaining what you're talking about?

Once more: where did you get the idea that the current fashion of thinking is that the large produces the small? What does that mean, and where did the idea come from? I've never heard it before and I'm curious, hence my asking you to expand.
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Re: Questioning Consciousness

Postby Sounder » Fri Jul 05, 2019 8:28 pm

If you're going to take part in a discussion is it so much to ask that you actually bother explaining what you're talking about?


I try, but it seems to me that discussion is not a valued commodity around these parts.

You said; 'In a materialistic view our consciousness is an emergent property of the physical interactions happening inside our brains.'

And this fairly sums up the current fashion that the physical, or the large, produces the small, or consciousness. Why is that so hard and why did I have to explain it?

There is no need for folk to agree on things to have a good discussion. If fact, if we are mature it is better for discussion purposes if we disagree.
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Re: Questioning Consciousness

Postby DrEvil » Fri Jul 05, 2019 11:36 pm

It's not hard, it's just not obvious that physical = large and consciousness = small (to me at least. When I think "physical" I think quarks and atoms and quantum mechanics, and when I think "consciousness" I think greater than the sum of its parts and emergent behavior). Metaphors that seem obvious to you aren't necessarily obvious to others. That's why I asked, and that's why I prefer that people speak plainly and say what they mean. It makes for easier discussion when you don't have to guess at what the other person is trying to say.

But anyway, thanks for clarifying.
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Re: Questioning Consciousness

Postby Harvey » Tue Jul 09, 2019 1:49 pm

Resembles some spider mating displays but there's definitely behaviour which suggests self awareness. (Much better if you turn your sound off, musak...)

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Re: Questioning Consciousness

Postby Iamwhomiam » Tue Jul 09, 2019 2:53 pm

Interesting that he's perceptually aware, trying to get behind the mirror thinking the other guy must be there.

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Re: Questioning Consciousness

Postby DrEvil » Tue Jul 09, 2019 6:16 pm

God, I hate spiders, but there is one species that is really cool that I can't remember the name of. I think it's a kind of trapdoor spider, but I'm not going to look it up because just seeing pictures gives me the willies.

Spiders don't have big enough brains to do much thinking, but this species can do some heavy mental lifting by doing it serially, one piece at a time. They can sit and watch a maze for ages, slowly and methodically processing a small chunk of it at a time until they have the full picture, and then they can run it perfectly on the first try.

It's like running a simulation of a nuclear explosion on a computer. You normally do it on a super computer with massive parallel processing capabilities, but you could in theory also do it on your laptop, it would just take way longer to do it. The spider has figured out how to do it on a laptop. It's not fast, but it gets it done.
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Re: Questioning Consciousness

Postby DrEvil » Tue Jul 09, 2019 6:28 pm

https://phys.org/news/2019-07-parental- ... rited.html

Study finds that parental 'memory' is inherited across generations
by The Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth July 9, 2019

Are our personalities and behaviors shaped more by our genes or our circumstances? While this age-old "nature vs. nurture" question continues to confound us and fuel debates, a growing body of evidence from research conducted over recent decades suggests that parental environment can have a profound impact on future generations.

Results of a new Dartmouth study published this week in the journal eLife—which examined how environmental stressors put on fruit flies (Drosophilia melanogaster) can influence the phenotypes of their offspring—are adding some intriguing findings to the mix.

"While neuronally encoded behavior isn't thought to be inherited across generations, we wanted to test the possibility that environmentally triggered modifications could allow 'memory' of parental experiences to be inherited," explains Julianna "Lita" Bozler, a Ph.D. candidate in the Bosco Lab at the Geisel School of Medicine, who served as lead author on the study.

When exposed to parasitoid wasps—which deposit their eggs into and kill the larvae of fruit flies—Drosophila melanogaster females are known to shift their preference to food containing ethanol as an egg laying substrate, which protects their larvae from wasp infection.

For the study, the fruit flies were cohabitated with female wasps for four days before their eggs were collected. The embryos were separated into two cohorts—a wasp-exposed and unexposed (control) group—and developed to maturity without any contact with adult flies or wasps. One group was used to propagate the next generation and the other was analyzed for ethanol preference.

"We found that the original wasp-exposed flies laid about 94 percent of their eggs on ethanol food, and that this behavior persisted in their offspring, even though they'd never had direct interaction with wasps," says Bozler.

The ethanol preference was less potent in the first-generation offspring, with 73 percent of their eggs laid on ethanol food. "But remarkably, this inherited ethanol preference persisted for five generations, gradually reverting back to a pre-wasp exposed level," she says. "This tells us that inheritance of ethanol preference is not a permanent germline change, but rather a reversible trait."

Importantly, the research team determined that one of the critical factors driving ethanol preference behavior is the depression of Neuropeptide-F (NPF) that is imprinted in a specific region of the female fly's brain. While this change, based in part on visual signals, was required to initiate transgenerational inheritance, both male and female progeny were able to pass on ethanol preference to their offspring.

"We're very excited about the findings that Lita, and her lab partner, Balint Kacsoh have made," says Giovanni Bosco, Ph.D., a professor of molecular and systems biology at Geisel, who directs the Bosco Lab. "They are allowing us to better understand not only the biology and epigenetics of fruit flies, but also some of the foundational mechanisms upon which biologic inheritance is based.

"Of particular interest, are the conserved signaling functions of NPF and its mammalian counterpart NPY in humans," he says. "We hope that our findings may lead to greater insights into the role that parental experiences play across generations in diseases such as drug and alcohol disorders."



I've been thinking about previous lives, and wondering if something like the above is at play. Would it be possible for actual memories and experiences to be encoded in our DNA, to be dredged up by later generations? There is already precedent for genetic memory for simpler things:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genetic_memory_(biology)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genetic_m ... psychology)
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Re: Questioning Consciousness

Postby JackRiddler » Tue Jul 09, 2019 6:58 pm

This is not going to be easy to figure out and isolate (drosophilia experiments in place of studying human psychology and sociology are a tip-off of that) but I figure something like that impacts across generations through epigenetics. (Which means it's all mommy.)
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Re: Questioning Consciousness

Postby Belligerent Savant » Tue Jul 09, 2019 7:22 pm

.

Re: past lives (and related theories as to cause) -- my understanding is that a fair amount of these recollections occur at an early age, and often depict experiences that aren't tied to direct [or even indirect] ancestry. I haven't studied this topic in earnest however.

With respect to the spider staring at the mirror -- a few posts above, by Harvey -- I happened across this article a week or so ago.


http://nautil.us/issue/47/consciousness ... -mirror-rp




What Do Animals See in a Mirror?

A controversial test for self-awareness is dividing the animal kingdom.

...


Gallup was sure that the chimps had learned to recognize themselves in the mirror, but he didn’t trust that other researchers would be convinced by his descriptions. So he moved on to phase two of the experiment. He anesthetized the chimps, then painted one eyebrow ridge and the opposite ear tip with a red dye that the chimps wouldn’t be able to feel or smell. If they truly recognized themselves, he thought he knew what would happen: “It seemed pretty obvious that if I saw myself in a mirror with marks on my face, that I’d reach up and inspect those marks.”

That’s exactly what the chimps did. As far as Gallup was concerned, that was proof: “the first experimental demonstration of a self-concept in a subhuman form,” he wrote in the resulting 1970 report in Science. “It was just clear as day,” he remembers. “It didn’t require any statistics. There it was. Bingo.”

But the result that really blew Gallup’s mind came when he tested monkeys, and discovered that they did not do the same. The ability to recognize one’s reflection seemed not to be a matter of learning abilities, with some species being slower than others. It was an issue of higher intellectual capacity. Gallup had obtained the first good evidence that our closest relatives share with us a kind of self-awareness or even consciousness, to the exclusion of other animals. Here, finally, was an experimental handle on a topic that had been the subject of speculation for millennia: What is the nature of human consciousness?

...

Gallup suggests that a powerful sense of self may have evolved because it helped great apes deal with complex social situations. “Intellectual prowess supplanted physical prowess as a means of achieving dominance,” he says. And, he suggests that strong self-awareness may also entail death-awareness. “The next step, it seems to me logically, is to confront and eventually grapple with the inevitability of your own individual demise,” he says.

As for why dolphins and other non-primates recognize themselves in mirrors, Gallup isn’t yet convinced they do. He suggests an alternative explanation for why his former student’s dolphins wriggled in the mirror: to see marks on what they perceived as another dolphin peering back at them. And he requires replication of recent studies finding that elephants use their trunks to touch white crosses on their foreheads, and magpies dislodge stickers on their chests with their beaks.

Then there are researchers who discount whether the mirror test says anything about theory of mind in any animal, including humans. Most notably, Gallup’s mentee, Daniel Povinelli. Like a son who witnesses his father’s foibles and decides to become his opposite, Povinelli, now at the University of Louisiana-Lafayette, has become one Gallup’s most outspoken critics, even as they remain close on a personal level. He’s come to believe that a chimp doesn’t need to have an integrated sense of self in order to pass the mirror test. Instead, it needs only to notice that the body in the mirror looks and moves the same as its own body, and then make the connection that if there’s a spot on the body in the mirror, there could also be a spot on its own body. That ability would still be pretty sophisticated, Povinelli adds, and it might reflect a keen awareness of the position of body parts that would likely be very helpful for swinging through trees. Indeed, he speculates that this high-level physical self-awareness may have developed when our tree-dwelling ancestors increased in size and faced more challenges while navigating their branchy, leafy world.

Povinelli’s concerns stretch to other landmark studies on theory of mind in chimps, such as those that document how a subordinate chimp refrained from hidden food when she watched a dominant chimp see researchers hide the food. The authors of this study argued that this was because the subordinate chimp reasoned about what the dominant chimp had seen and what it would do. Combined with results from other experiments, they concluded that chimps can “understand both the goals and intentions of others as well as the perception and knowledge of others,” and they can predict the action that will result.

But Povinelli calls this reasoning “folk psychology”—unscientific inferences made based on our own human experiences. The subordinate chimp doesn’t have to know the dominant’s mind, he says, all she has to know is to avoid interfering with the dominant chimp.

To apply Povinelli’s logic to humans, we may think deep, reflective thoughts when using a mirror to brush our teeth, but that doesn’t mean that the part of the brain that’s using the mirror to direct our toothbrush is the same part of the brain that’s contemplating the self. Those two abilities may develop at the same time in children, but that does not mean that they’re related, much less one and the same.

Povinelli’s critiques aside, most comparative psychologists say there’s something to mirror recognition, not least because it’s only been observed in intellectually superior animals. Neuroscientists are now trying to shed light on the matter by searching for a physical basis for the ability in the brain. Although they haven’t found a clear signal yet, Gallup remains undeterred. After nearly 45 years of fending off challengers, he is not likely to wake up in the morning, look in the mirror, and change his mind.



Personally, I think the nature/origin/explanation for consciousness, if ever we identify it, will be considerably more interesting/paradigm-shifting than the postulations indicated in this mirror article.
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Re: Questioning Consciousness

Postby minime » Tue Jul 09, 2019 9:53 pm

After 1000+ posts, and I've read most of them, and am reading them once more, I ask again (certain I'm not the first) What is consciousness? Seems many use a different definition, implicit and without elaborating, but assuming everyone else has the same one.

Julian Jaynes begins his book The Origin of Consciousness with a survey of roughly 8 historical avenues of research and 8 different definitions, explaining the pros and cons of each, before discarding them all, in favor of his own.

And I am at a loss as I read it, as I like them all in combination and am loathe to disregard any of them in favor of any other. Call it a property of matter, or protoplasm, as learning, metaphysical imposition, a helpless spectator, emergent evolution, behaviorism, or the reticular activating system, or the bicameral mind. But why not all at once? Each built on top of the other, maybe, without replacing what came before it.
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Re: Questioning Consciousness

Postby Elvis » Tue Jul 09, 2019 10:43 pm

minime wrote:But why not all at once? Each built on top of the other


Very interesting. I see consciousness as a "top-down" phenomenon, from discarnate to incarnate, incarnate emerging from the discarnate. I could be totally wrong.


DrEvil wrote:God, I hate spiders [. . .]
I'm not going to look it up because just seeing pictures gives me the willies.


Yeah. Alas, I won't be watching either. :frightened:
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Re: Questioning Consciousness

Postby DrEvil » Wed Jul 10, 2019 12:23 am

^^I would however recommend Adrian Tchaikovsky's books Children of Time and Children of Ruin. Both books are new, but they feel like classic science fiction that could have been written by Clarke. The first one is about the rise of a spider civilization and its encounter with the humans who kick-started it, and the second one deals with said spiders and their human companions' encounter with an octopus civilization (kick-started by different humans) and some freaky aliens.

Both books have fascinating takes on how the minds of intelligent spiders and octopuses would operate, and the best part is that the books don't have any pictures.
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Re: Questioning Consciousness

Postby chump » Wed Jul 10, 2019 9:52 pm

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Re: Questioning Consciousness

Postby chump » Fri Aug 02, 2019 9:00 pm

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Re: Questioning Consciousness

Postby thrulookingglass » Mon Aug 05, 2019 8:06 am

While ensconced in dream we fail to perceive that what's going on around us isn't normal reality. What makes us think that 'normal reality' isn't just a dream as well? It's projected consciousness. The greys once told someone, "life is God's dream." This is also why psychedelics can be helpful as they assist us in understanding the bizarre.
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