Consciousness I

Abstract: I tie in consciousness, incompleteness, the mind as multiverse, logic incarnated by high dimensional neurocircuitry, and various states of consciousness as their architects. Among other things.

***

Consciousness is a major mystery, blatant to all. Much boring stuff has been said about it. That does not mean we can’t progress in our understanding. We will. Here is a sketch of some of my ideas, and, as there is much more to be said, I will call this “Consciousness I”.

Are we conscious when sleeping? What’s the connection between intelligence and consciousness? I was pondering those questions while more or less sleeping (for want of a better description). That struck me as entirely appropriate: thinking about what happened when sleeping, while sleeping. Obviously I was conscious, and obviously, there are many levels of consciousness. (And, with modern technology, modulo the injection of drugs, aliens can come to control our minds and spy on our brains!)

Consciousness is a little bit like the light of a lighthouse: what it illuminates is visible, but the rest is still there. Like a lighthouse, it can be seen from afar.

An illustrative dream came up to help further my meditation. I was swimming in a rather cold sea, next to the shore, and then what I vaguely feared happened: my daughter was swimming too, somewhat in the distance, among the ominous waves. As she is only three years old, that was something to worry about: she swims very well, but in warm swimming pools. Not in this very black, frigid, undulating ocean.

So what was the point of this dream? Obviously to warn me that, were a body of water to be present, any body of water, even when clearly dangerous, there was a possibility that she would launch herself as boldly as when she jumps in a swimming pool. So I was forewarned. New logical circuitry connecting to the great danger center had been vividly forged.

No doubt that, should a somewhat similar context possibly arise in the real world, I would pay more preventive attention to what my daughter was doing.

A way to look at Quantum Physics is that the world is made of probabilities. Experiencing, and managing, the world as if it were made of probabilities is fully compatible with the vision, and experience, of the world prehistoric man had. There was no way to be sure that there was no venomous snake ready to strike below that rock, so better poke it with a stick, or give it a precautionary wide berth.

Meditation is a most precious, most human state of consciousness. Whereas sentience is shared with many animals on this planet, obviously, not so with the capacity for meditation. meditation allows to shut down most (over-) used neuronal circuitry, and engage more strategically important parts of the brain.

Action without meditation is as slavedom without wisdom

What does it mean to be conscious? Well, first, that we feel conscious. Clearly, in a sleep, quite often, we feel very much alive (“sentient” to put it in one word, meaning to have sensation, or sentiment), even though we can’t recall much of it when we wake up. This type of partial, but vivid, consciousness can happen under general anesthesia, as it did to me after an accident. I was waxing lyrical, doing poetry… I was told by the doctors, and even now, partly remember.

The key to logic, beyond what the Greeks understood, is the process of “meta”. It’s just the realization that, for all practical matters the world is uncountably infinite, whereas any language, hence traditional logic, is countable. This means that no logical process will exhaust the world.

That’s called logical incompleteness, and is associated to Gödel’s name. But the fundamental idea is very simple, I just uttered it. (Gödel went further than that, proving the logical process will get to a finite number of steps, where it will fail; related to this is my assertion that there is a largest number, the end-all, be-all of mathematics…)

If any logic is incomplete, how does one make do, and complete any logic? By adding dimensions, going meta.

We can’t go through the obstacle, so we jump over it. Consciousness is made to perform those meta jumps. How? By reconfiguring the inner mental universe in various states of… consciousness, and leaving memory traces of it.

I absolutely do not believe in the incredibly stupid interpretation of the Quantum according to the brainless “multiverse”. (Another case of human idiocy by types so arrogant that they do not understand how little they grasp.)

However, choosing an alternative or the other in a logic after a while, as Gödel says we have to do, is, basically, a choice of dimension. Here is the multiverse. But it’s neurobiological, not quantum.

Thus the capability to create multiverse within minds exists, it’s called consciousness in its various states. It’s between the two ears of a normally constituted human being. To go multiverse, various parts of the brains get more or less shut down as others are able to gain some ascendency. This is why getting drunk, and drugs in general are tied with some creativity (disclosure: I never used drugs because being arrogant, I think am a drug onto myself, and that I would best be trained by implementing the craziness myself!)

Notice that there are other ways to look at Quantum Physics (full of matrices for Heisenberg, full of waves in many ways for De Broglie, me, etc…). According to circumstances, the ways to look at things is more or less appropriate to the action at hand. Consciousness acts as a director, a decider choosing what ingredients one should throw in the reality our brain operates in.

Reality does not just depend upon what we perceive, but also upon what we decided to have perceived. Consciousness makes the decision to decide what’s the best reality one should operate in. and this goes all the way from the logical, to the factual, to the emotional.

One has to realize that, to start with, the brain is an extremely high dimensional object; each of the 50 known neurotransmitters or neurohormones can be viewed as a dimension. Different logical paths (neuronal paths, dendritic connections paths, etc.) can also be viewed as dimensions (I use the algebraic definition of dimension here: if each point of a space is determined by (x1, x2, x3,…, xn), the dimension of that space is n).

In normal operations, we favor some of these paths. (Be it only because some peculiar neurons, always the same control which part of the brain receive fuel and oxygen, and when.) However, when we shut down some preferred areas (from sleep, meditation, physical exercise, highly excited hormonal states, alcohol, etc.), and in particular those gateway neurons, other circuits and organs are then free to offered their alternatives. Hebbian reinforcing can do the rest, and new dimensions of thought then appear in everyday life.

***

Patrice Ayme

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38 Responses to “Consciousness I”

  1. Lovell Says:

    “Reality does not just depend upon what we perceive, but also upon what we decided to have perceived.”

    Dear Patrice,
    Somehow I struggle with probable examples for this. Could my perception of a chair in front of me be somehow altered if I decide to perceive it as a horse? Or are you just exclusively referring to reality here in the metaphysical sense? In which case I apologize for misunderstanding due in large part to my total ignorance on this subject. Thanks.

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Dear Lovell:
      I am sure that some perceive a chair to be a horse, but then all is not well with their heads. However such a confusion should it happen, and it does, is indicative of the effect I was talking about, which is otherwise subtle for common people in common life.

      90% of optical fibers (in the brain) are re-entrant, meaning that most of what the deep part of the visual system perceive in the way of vision comes… from the brain itself (and “decisions” may have been taken about what it is one exactly see).

      So, when plutocrats in Galileo’s time did not see what we would see through a telescope… they may have been sincere. That also means that “believers”, those who strongly “believe” in something crazy decide to perceive the world differently. Strong examples of this were offered last century by all sorts of communists, nazis, etc…
      PA

  2. Paul Handover Says:

    “Action without meditation is as slavedom without wisdom.”
    And there’s a quotable quote if ever there was one!

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Thanks Paul. New mind is all about establishing new neural connections. And one way to do this is through sentences, which carry their own logic and can be later incarnated neurobiologically. That’s one of the main points I am trying to make.
      PA

  3. Dominique Deux Says:

    The great philosopher, Jean-Claude Vandamme, asserts that “awareness” is the key, while my own son, at three, asked his mother “Mom, why do I think?”. So you’re not the only one pondering the fascinating mysteries of consciousness.

    Forgive me for applauding those efforts as central to shaping our species over the millenaries, yet treating them with a polite lack of interest. This is a field, I think, like many other fields of human knowledge, where speculation, thought experiments, or barely disguised metaphysics, however logical, beautifully formulated or audaciously creative, are inexorably being pushed aside by hard science and its elitist jargon and concepts, to join alchemy, astrology or Kabbalah in the dusty closet of forgotten sciences.

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Thanks for the input, Dominique. I am presently travelling so I have no Internet access in the next 7 hours or so.
      Hard science, it’s true pushes hard. If you read my essay carefully, there is plenty of it pointing its muzzle out, including a two sentence proof of logical incompleteness.

      I know as much hard science as anybody I have heard from. However, as I tried to explain in the “What’s Philosophy?” essay, science without philosophical inquiry cannot advance. Some philosophical remarks of Newton about gravity stay pertinent today.

      So there is a huge amount of recent neurobiology (20 years at most), and logic (70 years old, but still “new”), physics (Quantum, still “unexplained”) in that essay.

      Then I forge on my own, suggesting that the brain is very highly dimensional (my reasoning rests on recent neurobiology, between 100 years old and contemporary). That, I say, allows to turn around logical incompleteness.

      I am reasonably smug that very few intellectuals have enough background to understand all I mean. Moreover, my philosophical approach leads to the suggestion of a scientific thrust of inquiry in neurobiology. Namely, new ideas corresponds to new neural circuitry.
      PA

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      The main hard core axes of hard core scientific inquiry are determined politically, and thus, philosophically. Always have, always will.

      Witness recently as I mentionned in the recent essay on thermonuclear fusion, Senior Senator Feinstein’s effort to crush USA financing of ITER. ITER is actually FUNDAMENTAL, not just very practical science.

      There is philosophy inside the scientific tribe. Witness the attribution last year of the Physics Nobel to Haroche and Al., first time ever to foundations of Quantum Physics. That AXIS OF SCIENTIFIC INQUIRY had been shot down by Bohr, Heisenberg and company for purely ERRONEOUS, arrogant, philosophical reasons. In the 1920s!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      And believe me (I’m a physicist!) there was much to reserach that was not reserached in that area, until very late.

      Why? High energy physics (standard model, Big bang) was held in high esteem…. By the military.

      Actually the first US Navy ship with death rays has been deployed to the Persian Gulf… [OK, combat lasers…]
      PA

  4. EugenR Says:

    Dear Patrice, consciousness is one of the most fascinating new subjects of scientific research, or rather speculations. If i may add to the discussion i would suggest a book for beginners in the subject;
    http://www.amazon.com/Conversations-Consciousness-Minds-Think-ebook/dp/B001DD8ANW/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1374517264&sr=8-4&keywords=susan+blackmore+consciousness
    Miss Blackmore through conversation with the most profound minds working in this new field of scientific research introduces the most updated ideas on the subject to the reader.

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Dear Eugen: Crick (of DNA fame) and helpers called the notion that the brain creates conciousness “The Astonishing Hypothesis”.

      At this point, I think it’s rather the trivial hypothesis. Huge progress has been made in neuroscience since Golgi and Ramon Y Cajal (both Nobels) argued fiercely whether neurons were individual cells or a sort of glob (well, bit of both…)

      Thanks for the link. I am still in transit, so in depth answers are in the future. Dominique’s skepticism will be adressed, at length, though.
      PA

      • Dominique Deux Says:

        Dear Patrice

        Sorry if I sounded skeptical. I completely concur with the continued need for phoilosophical work, including speculation, as longs at it builds on hard science rather than ignores it. And I am well aware that you, more than others, would not have it otherwise.

        My point – which again was not meant for you specifically – was that this cohabitation – harking back to Newton or so – makes new, harsher demands on the philosophical mind. Hard science sets a standard of logic, rigor and humility before facts which has to be followed by its attendant (or driving) philosophical explorations.

        This is new, in that classical standalone philosophy could be regrettably slothful in its thinking. Reading Plato makes you realize that Socrates was, indeed, guilty of the crime he was sentenced for – sophistry. His fabled maieutics, if used in modern court, would be hammered down by the judge as blithely leading questions. Descartes’ Discours de la Méthode filled me with awe until his convoluted “proof” of God’s existence, built on a kind of obscure logic i would call tridimensional topology, fell on me like a brick wall. There was every excuse and explanation for such intellectual lack of rigor, in stark contrast with the same people’s scientific endeavours, but there it was.

        This enhanced standard also reflects on hard science itself. The very language it uses is still fraught with the intellectual sloth it is supposed to dissipate. Two examples, from your own post: the recurrent use of “sentient” in the English language to designate conscious organisms (“creatures” being another of those misleading heirlooms from the past) is a fallacy; “feeling” is spread across most of the animal kingdom, whereas “consciousness” – awareness of the self – concentrates on very few species. And your reference to research trying to determine if neurons are cells or a glob (them really being a bit of both as you observe) is telling: we (our brains) create categories (cells, plasmodia) for storing and managing knowledge; we then ascribe to these categories a reality they do not have except as an artefact.

        If I may put forth an analogy, in the spirit of that old Stalinian Plato. Analogies are the worst kind of thinking – bordering on the magical – but as illustrations, they have their worth, so I won’t be apologetic about it.

        Classical philosophy was – is – like a torch held by a man walking through a forest at night. With its light he can follow a path and get a reasonable and useful impression of his surroundings, while being exposed to illusions and bad appreciations. What he sees of his surroundings is not corroborated by touch. But nobody would dispute that holding a torch gives him a huge advantage.

        But now the same man, in the same forest and the same night, is driving a car. He has no torch. But he needs headlights. They are essential to his safety and for keeping on what has become a road. Headlights are focused on the road ahead, and their existence is conditioned by that of the car, which represents hard science. Still, very much like a torch, they give only limited information, fraught with uncertainty. Realizing this only urges engineers to produce better headlights.

        • Patrice Ayme Says:

          Dear Dominique: Thanks. I had just gone through a memorable thunderstorm running in the mountains when I read your previous comment, I felt like the gods were after me…

          I think Socrates mostly got condemned for what was his exact official charge was “corruption of the youth”
          More than half a dozen of his rich young students friends lovers became dictators. As I said, Socrates had major emotional problem understanding all that. That’s reflected throughout his philosophy, and those of his students Plato and Aristotle. His execution may only have served to glorify further that plutocratic friendly attitude (calling Plato “Stalinian” illustrates this well!)

          Ultimately, Athens fell from a combination of small plutocracy from within, and a big one from the outside (Macedonian general Antipater, senior to Alexander and rumored to have assassinated him!).

          I am skeptical of the “hard science” mantra. A case in point being the Big Bang (tied in to QCD aka “standard Model). The enthusiasm for it, akin to a cult, is not level with the evidence.

          I do agree with you that “sentience” is a fallacious, poorly defined concept. I use it, because hard (& stupid!) men do. “Hard” biologist and psycho-whatevers have used it to try to draw a divided between man and animal (following Descartes, whose aims may have been correct and noble…).

          All the evidence now is that there is no difference between Homo and other animals. Even “spindle neurons” are found in other species…
          No doubt that parrots and cats, let alone baboons, are sentient.
          PA

  5. pshakkottai Says:

    Hi Patrice: Shankara has discussed things like this . In the wiki, I see
    “This article is about consciousness. For the old chess game, see chaturanga. For the four-player game, see chaturaji.

    In Hindu philosophy, turiya (or caturiya, chaturtha) is the experience of pure consciousness. It is the background that underlies and transcends the three common states of consciousness of waking consciousness, dreaming, and dreamless sleep.[
    Three states of consciousness

    Adi Shankara discerned three states of consciousness, namely waking (jågrata), dreaming (svapna), and deep sleep (suƒupti),[web 3][web 4] which correspond to the three bodies:[1]

    The first state is the waking state, in which we are aware of our daily world. “It is described as outward-knowing (bahish-prajnya), gross (sthula) and universal (vaishvanara)”.[web 4] This is the gross body.
    The second state is the dreaming mind. “It is described as inward-knowing (antah-prajnya), subtle (pravivikta) and burning (taijasa)”.[web 4] This is the subtle body.
    The third state is the state of deep sleep. In this state the underlying ground of concsiousness is undistracted, “the Lord of all (sarv’-eshvara), the knower of all (sarva-jnya), the inner controller (antar-yami), the source of all (yonih sarvasya), the origin and dissolution of created things (prabhav’-apyayau hi bhutanam)”.[web 4] This is the causal body.

    In the waking consciousness there is a sense of ‘I’ (self identity) and awareness of thoughts. In the sleep/dream state there is no or little sense of ‘I’ but there are thoughts and awareness of thoughts. Waking and dreaming are not true experiences of Reality and truth, because of their dualistic natures of subject and object, self and not-self, ego and non-ego.

    In dreamless sleep, one is not conscious of external or internal objects, and there is no awareness of thoughts or ‘I’. This does not mean that consciousness is not present there. It is like saying ‘I see nothing.’ The recognition that nothing is what I ‘see’. So also in dreamless sleep, one is not conscious of anything and the very fact that this statement is true proves the existence of consciousness during deep sleep.
    Mandukya Upanishad
    Main article: Mandukya Upanishad

    The Mandukya Upanishad is the shortest of the Upanishads. It is in prose, consisting of twelve verses expounding the mystic syllable Aum, the three psychological states of waking, dreaming and sleeping, and the transcendent fourth state of illumination.

    Verse VII of the Mandukya Upanishad describes Turiya:

    Turiya is not that which is conscious of the inner (subjective) world, nor that which is conscious of the outer (objective) world, nor that which is conscious of both, nor that which is a mass of consciousness. It is not simple consciousness nor is It unconsciousness. It is unperceived, unrelated, incomprehensible, uninferable, unthinkable and indescribable. The essence of the Consciousness manifesting as the self in the three states, It is the cessation of all phenomena; It is all peace, all bliss and non—dual. This is what is known as the Fourth (Turiya). This is Atman and this has to be realized.[web 5]

    Turiya is not a state. It is the background on which dream and wake arises and disappears. It is another term to describe pure awareness, which is also called nirvikalpa,[web 6] without conceptualisation. The insight during meditation of Turiya is known as amātra, the ‘measureless’ in the Mandukya Upanishad, being synonymous to samādhi in Yoga terminology”
    I don’t understand any of this but you might. It is your game.
    Partha

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Dear Partha: excellent. Greek philosophers had great respect for the Indian philosophers who they called “naked philosophers”, and there were exchanges back and forth (all the way to the present). One thing I’m saying is that consciousness varies considerably, even in the waking state. Run at 3,000 meters, and thinking is very different from that in a bed at sea level. Even on the same exact subjects.

      Willingly varying one state’s of woken consciousness is one of the main meta-motivation of human activities (I claim). Most otherwise unexplainable indulgences (in various “vices”, sports, hobbies, various obsessions, etc.) may have the desire to perceive and analyze the world from another perspective as one of their main motivation.
      PA

  6. Paul Handover Says:

    Golly, I don’t really know what to say! Yet, I am conscious (!) of all sorts of thoughts floating around my head. So in no particular order or merit …

    Rupert Sheldrake, author of Dogs That Know When Their Owners Are Coming Home sets out some powerful examples of dogs reading/sensing the intentions of humans when those humans are separate from the dogs by many miles. His research is ongoing. But what in a scientific sense is going on?

    Human premonition is what? Real? Scientifically understood? But here’s a personal story.

    Just over a year ago, when Jean and I were living in Arizona, I had the most vivid dream. That I had got up during the night and gone to the toilet/bathroom for a pee and when I turned on the taps no water came out. On the face of it, a silly nonsensical dream.

    However, when I awoke the dream was very much in my mind for reasons about which I have no idea. I mentioned it to Jean over breakfast and then to a guest who happened to be staying with us. The guest’s response was, “Well, if you are worried about water, you guys need to go to Oregon!”

    Jean and I didn’t know Oregon at all but we did come to take a look, met a real-estate agent and, subsequently, bought this wonderful property including a year-round Creek just outside Grants Pass.

    The area in Arizona where we had come from continues with it’s 19-year history of below average rainfalls; we had been on a well that wasn’t that stable in terms of water levels.

    So what was that all about? Coincidence? A deeper premonition? Or what!

    Then there’s the famous experiment that has repeatedly shown that humans can ‘think’ and influence a random number generator’s output, the Global Consciousness Project (look it up on the web).

    I could go on and on, but will round it off. Simply that there’s a great deal more about the mind that we presently do not understand. The work into human consciousness will undoubtedly bring to light facts that we can only presently dream about! (Sorry, couldn’t resist that close!)

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      dear Paul: Well grizzlies can smell a human from much more than a mile away (with the right wind). I suspected & found that out the hard way once, fishing with my dad in Denali National Park… (We escaped with the trouts.)

      The dread of no more water flowing from the tap meant that part of your mind was able to add 2 + 2, and find out it was 4… whatever people say. Then that was nicely packaged in an emotional worry; what would happen if the water stopped flowing? Oh, by the way, come to look at the 19 year drought, it already has…

      One thing I tried to say is that consciousness is a manager, a decider, an organizer, a search light, a beacon… But that does not mean the rest of the mind is asleep at the switch, while only the boss (consciousness) is working.

      If I run full blast in a forest in a raging hailstorm with lighting crashing (as happened a few days ago), my brain, my mind is working full blast, but consciousness is mainly focused on looking way ahead where the trail is, or could be, and pays attention of close-by ground only when some branches, rocks, drops, roots, or concentrated hail patch are lying about proximally. In other words, 95% of the brain’s work at that point is not “conscious”.

      How is Oregon working for you both? Missing Payson? (I have been through Payson and Oregon… I prefer the latter… be it only because Oregon is wetter and more varied, from desert to sea, to rain forest and glaciers…)
      PA

      • Paul Handover Says:

        Ah, that was helpful; the managing aspect of consciousness. In other words, you are offering consciousness as that part of the brain that monitors our primeval or instinctive behaviours, such as fight or flight, to ensure the best outcome?

        Presumably, the power of the ‘survival of the gene’ has meant that the better the managing ability of man’s consciousness, the better man has evolved?

        That being so, the next phase of our evolution, to be the gods of wisdom as opposed to the gods of evil (as you noted in that other place) may be the most demanding ever. Not surprisingly, I guess, I find myself musing more and more about a reversion to a hunter-gatherer society; well at least a localised one!

        Which rather neatly sums up how we are finding Merlin, Oregon. The intimacy of the wild forest, the vastness of the mountain ranges around us, and the new skills we are learning to run this rural property, are both unsettling (because our insignificance is highlighted) and deeply moving. (Gracious, not sure where that came from!!)

        Well if you and your family are ever passing through Oregon, the Welcome mat is always outside the front door!

        • Patrice Ayme Says:

          Dear Paul: And I will even say more: intelligence influences genes! (See my independent comment answering you!) Who said philosophy cannot go boldly where science did not yet dare to go?
          PA

  7. Lovell Says:

    “All the evidence now is that there is no difference between Homo and other animals. Even “spindle neurons” are found in other species. No doubt that parrots and cats, let alone baboons, are sentient.” – PA

    I agree, but are these other animals capable of reflective consciousness? Do they know that they know? Do they ponder the vastness of the universe? Are they capable of questioning the meaning and purpose of life or the lack thereof? Do they construct disciplines like mathematics and biology?

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Dear Lovell: The answer for mathematics and biology is clearly no, but the question is unfair. Man has functionally existed for two million years (say after it colonized Georgia, hence mastered clothing and fire, with Homo Ergaster). However civilization, living in cities in Anatolia, is .5% of that time!

      I am not trying to be like Peter Singer (prof philosophy, Princeton U), and advocate other animals are equivalent to man. If really hungry, I will have no problem eating parrot soup (disclosure: I had a delicious parrot pet in Africa… Not as soup, but as companion, for years; her death, from avian flu, still causes me pain).

      Speaking of parrot, it’s only in the last few years that it has been (apparently) discovered that they have language. If we don’t know parrot language, or even that they had language, it’s that we were ignorant, big time.

      Intelligence is common in animals. That’s why they have brains. Intelligence is less common in civilizations, and that’s why they have collapse!
      PA

  8. Patrice Ayme Says:

    Dear Paul: Consciousness is like a CEO.

    I have a serious problem with people (Dawkins) who animalize “genes”, just to contradict themselves in the last line of their famous book (Dawkins again). What of epigenes? Are they struggling for survival too?

    Life did not start with genes. Genes, and epigenes, are part and parcel of what I call geometric inheritance. Geometric inheritance is not selfish, it just is.

    Notice that, as consnciousness influences behavior, and that influence epigenetics, consciousness influences geometric inheritance, and, indirectly, but efficiently genes themselves, not just their expression… Lamrack triumphs again and again!… As Darwin guessed all along…

    Yes, it’s deeply moving to become part of nature, as we are meant to be (I guess that’s what you are saying, a deep insight!)

    Thanks for the invitation, I feel like the queen of UK, ready to go inspect the finished works!
    PA

  9. EugenR Says:

    Dear Patrice, If you want to start to understated the very essence of our experience of consciousness you have to watch this video “The Primacy of Consciousness – Peter Russell”

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      I added the link by hand, somehow it refused to appear…https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-d4ugppcRUE&feature=youtube_gdata_player

      It does not mean I approve of it, hahaha, ;-)!
      PA

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Dear Eugen: With all due respect, comparative to my heavy, original ideas laden essay, this is light stuff for the masses… All I have to say is that the honorable paid speaker presents the word “paradigm” as invented by the “American philosopher Thomas Kuhn” (a philosopher of the obvious). In truth the word was used massively in 15th Century Latin. Yeap, 600 years ago. Also he mispronounces it. Also I’m getting tired of hearing about the “Copernic Revolution”.

      The hyper famous Buridan, mathematician and physicist, as I have shown in essays past, did the work in 1320 CE. Copernic, just an abbot, decided to re-advertize the theory a generation after it was put to “the index of forbidden books”.

      For the ant, the baboon is just a nuisance.

      Anyway, I’m the real thing, but I don’t make money from it (that’s in part precisely why this is so).

      Not to say I’m not happy to have listened to this guy. (one of my many) metaparadigm is that consciousness drives evolution (in part).
      Actually it was exactly the subject of my next essay… Consciousness II…
      PA

      • EugenR Says:

        Dear Patrice, even if the P. Russels lecture is for general public (mainly the first part about Copernicus etc.), his second part of the lecture includes some original ideas. The idea of consciousness in everything seems original to me. Anyway you will probably like more the following lecture of Thomas Metzinger, whose approach is probably closer to yours.

        • Patrice Ayme Says:

          I listened religiously to Russels for 33 minutes, before shutting him down.

          The “consciousness in everything” thing is appealing because of the way Quantum Physics describes the universe: the electron is somewhat “aware” of both slits. NOBODY understands what it means. Feynman himself insisted on this, and he was right, IMNSHO (In My Not So Humble Opinion).

          David Bohm (a very great physicist, thrown out of the USA where he was born from lack of rabid patriotism), viewed it as some “implicate order”. My own approach is more hard core (present Quantum description will fail).

          It’s actually not a really new idea, it was mentionned in the journal “Foundations of Physics” right from the start, and is an obvious way to describe elementary fundamental processes behavior…

          I have spent most of my life cogitating about this particular problem, and considers it (very hard, the hardest) physics. Basically it will start to be solved when the present description of the Quantum will break down.

          Thus, what consciousness IS, is way out of the reach of today’s science: it requires first progress in the foundations of the Quantum.

          In “Consciousness I” I tried to focus on what consciousness does, thus what it evolved for. An accompanying essay will show it in evolutive action, J-B Lamarck like…
          PA

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      A long ago question (of mine) was: “are electrons conscious?”
      Well, they are conscious of the other slit.
      PA

      • Lovell Says:

        Can wave particle duality be a manifestation of electron consciousness?

        • Patrice Ayme Says:

          @ Lovell: I wrote a longer separate comment. Wave particle duality is a (gross) depiction. Consciousness an impression… If consciousness is described as being where one is not, elemenetary particles are conscious… ;-)!
          PA

  10. Unlocking the inner parts of our brain. | Learning from Dogs Says:

    […] has a recently published post called Consciousness I.  To be honest, some of the concepts have been a bit of a struggle for me to understand. […]

  11. EugenR Says:

    Dear Patrice, after you very correctly commented that i am wasting your time with stupid lectures i want to be more helpful to clarify the phenomena of consciousness.
    And here is an example; As you are watching the computer screen, in-front of you, you are watching the dots lining up in very high speed in front of you. Yet you don’t see arbitrary dots, but ordered sequence of pictures that create some kind of information. This information is in completely different dimension than the individual dot.
    The same is the consciousnesses. The individual neurons or the whole net of them are nothing more than the dots and eventually the pictures on the screen, but their comprehensive ordered form is becoming an information in form of consciousness.

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Dear Eugen: There a many types of neurons in the brain, including the massive, macroscopic “spindle neurons” that only the most advanced brains have.
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spindle_neuron

      All superiorly intelligent species have them, and they lay in a specific region of the frontal lobes. They are part of the candidate anatomy I suspect and advocate (see below).

      Neurosurgeons have long marvelled at the “grandmother neuron theory”, according to which ONE neuron kept the memory of the grand mother. Neurosurgeons stimulate individuals neurons (or so) when operating upon the universe’s most complex object. Many claim they get specific answers.

      Although the most elementary behavior of motor neurons has long been elucidated, the rest is pretty much a mystery. I had a philosophical hunch that glial cells, in particular astrocytes were fundamental to thinking… That’s, only now, demonstrated… So I understand that you say that, out of the many, more, and it’s different.

      But my inclination is that consciousness functions as a META system. By this I mean that it entails the capability to be the CEO of the brain. In other words, that there is real brain material connected to it. In other words I believe a bit, as Descartes did (erroneously in the detail) with the pineal gland, that consciousness corresponds to real brain machinery. I agree with you that it should be spread-out.

      Namely that the brain has the capability ot metastizing or metamorphosizing the mind (for want of better words). Machinery to impell the construction of new neurocircuitry.

      Thanks for helping me to make my thoughts more precise, going more “meta’ about them.
      PA

      In other words, I was not doing so much vague philosophizing, but I arrived at a practical conclusion: there is meta circuitry in the brain. with

  12. Patrice Ayme Says:

    Dear Lovell: I view “wave particle duality” as an unrefined notion. I view the description of the Quantum as unfinished. I have a very clearly defined proposal, fully testable.

    Someday. Although it’s entirely possible that Dark Matter, Dark Energy and the Cosmological Red Shift are actually proof of my idea.

    As it is right now, it’s fully not understandable how “the electron” knows about the other slit. Is it ‘conscious” indeed?

    There are three waves of the hand to get out of this:
    Bohr’s “either it’s wave, or particle”.
    Born: Just compute.
    Feynman: speak of ‘fundamental process” and admit we do not have the slightest idea of what in the heck is going on.

    • Lovell Says:

      Dear Patrice,
      The electron seems “aware” because it changes its a behavior as a classical particle when observed at the other side of the slit.

      So yes, indeed, what the heck is going on? Does that mean that an immobile rock on the roadside which is made up of aggregated atoms (and electrons) is actually conscious?

      Did Julian Huxley got it wrong when he said that “we are matter which became conscious of itself”?

      Could it be after-all true that matter had always been conscious?

      • Patrice Ayme Says:

        Dear Lovell: I would be very careful. I would say this. Electrons, (just to focus attention, the electron being the simplest fermion; it could be another elementary particle… Or even a more complicated one…) electrons possess an elelement correlated to consciousness, namely elementary awareness.

        What’s awareness, experimentally? Good question, I have never seen it asked.

        I would suggest this: The ability to know at a distance that something is going on.
        That’s exactly what happens with the two slit.

        Quantum Physics, as it is, does not even try to explain this, it just depicts it. That’s fine. What’s not fine is to claim, as all too many physicists have done, that for philosophical reasons that’s the best we can do.

        I have my own theory, but it’s pretty much mechanical (for want of a better word). The advantage is that awareness becomes included, partly in the world of reasons…
        PA

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