• InPitzotl
    As I wrote in my previous post, in my personal experience, my volition arises in a part of my mind that is not directly accessible to my self-awareness. When I act on that motivation, it is just as much me acting as it would be if I became aware before I acted. I am just as responsible for my actions as I would be otherwise. Part of what I call "me" is hidden the way the innards of my computer are hidden.T Clark
    This matches how I experience things as well. I certainly can consciously deliberate and then act, but the vast majority of things I do don't work that way. I view my self awareness as something I have, not something I "am". It's nice to see someone else convey this view; if I'm crazy at least I have some company!
  • Wayfarer
    It is really suprising how well some of Kant's intuitions have been borne out by modern neuroscience, and yet how ready we are to jettison them to hold on to an easier narrative.Count Timothy von Icarus

    There's a lot of interesting writing on Kant and neuroscience e.g. Andrew Brook https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andrew_Brook

    There doesn't seem to be enough consideration that moral issues don't come to us in a vacuum, but are instead filtered through a system of perception, including an inherited moral sense, that was shaped by natural selection and is contingent on the way those systems work.Count Timothy von Icarus

    Noooooo. Not 'natural selection'. That's biology! Humans are cultural beings, they have the longest period of extra-somatic enculturation of any creature. Biology is part of that, but it not the principle deteminant. We're 'under-determined' by biology - the greatest war criminals and most sublime artists are all product of the same biology. There are other factors at play - anthropological, cultural, religious - none of which are really the province of the biological sciences per se.
  • 180 Proof
    I view my self awareness as something I have, not something I "am".InPitzotl
    :up: Well put. He too associates 'myself' with these remarks.
  • 180 Proof
    :chin: Twenty or so millennia of "acculturation" in the enabling-constraining context of two hundred or so millennia of h. sapiens biology strongly suggests, to me at least, you've got the cart pulling the horses again. The behavioral-motivational variation in ontogeny will be gaussian like other phylogenic aptitudes, no? Individual samples are not informative, only large population datasets over time.

    On the diminimus margins, human monsters and human saints are to be expected. No doubt these outliers (skinny tales) might be 'overdetermined' by acculturation; the other 80odd% not nearly as much. The circumstantial case for atavistic selection pressures still at work in our mammalian (chimp) cortex is both considerable – e.g. forensic psychologists, cultural anthropologists of warfare, homicidal South Asian Buddhist monks today (like kamikazi pilots or samurai of old) & the globe-spanning pervasiveness of predatory pedophile clergy – are, IMO, quite convincing.
  • TheMadFool
    A quote of some relevance,

    A man can do as he wills, but not will as he wills — Arthur Schopenhauer

    The seed of the psychology of the subconscious is just about discernible in Schopenhauer's statement.

    I watched a youtube video on creativity and it mentions an intriguing phenomenon which is supposedly part of the creative process. Sometimes, a good idea is to first familiarize yourself with a problem, you know, get a handle on the various key issues and then to simply put it on the mind's ignore list, do something else and, on occasion, not always, while busy involved in the other activity, one experiences flashes of insight that lead to (a) solution(s). It's a recommended technique for people in the creative business, etc. It goes by the name, incubation, if memory serves.

    Another very common experience most people have had sometime in their lives is one in which you see a celebrity's photograph, recognize the celebrity but can't put a name to the face, all the while fully convinced that you know the name that goes with the face. Is this a case of a communication breakdown between the subconscious and the conscious parts of the mind/brain? Memory issues?

    My personal take on the matter is the conscious and the subconscious, despite how the current arrangement is between them, can be made to work together in a much more interesting way. The "current arrangement" as I call it seems to one in which the subconscious relays finished products (processed information) to the conscious. How about the conscious being invited over by the subconscious to observe and observe only how the subconscious works its magic so to speak. I think some are capable of this but only in a very limited sense - still can't feel the neurons firing!
  • Wayfarer
    the globe-spanning pervasiveness of predatory pedophile clergy180 Proof

    That's the kind of thing you'll always home in on, ain't it.

    Have a read of this.
  • TheMadFool
    Good to know you're still ticking, old chap! :up:
  • Bitter Crank
    That was a very nice sentence to read.
  • magritte
    the unconscious is doing a lot more, at a much higher level then we often give it credit forCount Timothy von Icarus
    What's been labelled as subconscious is as much part of nature as the outside world is.
    We must use whatever sense-perception we are afforded to try to make something of it all. (Plato)

    recursively self-referential ... only recursively integrated information reaches consciousnessCount Timothy von Icarus
    Suppose the subconscious is a great ball of many inter-twined threads doesn't 'information' come out of the mind after the fact as a particular single thread of yarn?
  • Count Timothy von Icarus

    I suppose I'm more on your side than Wayfarer's. There are myriad effective ways human societies could be organized but the range in which they are organized is much smaller. This to me denotes the strong influence of human nature on culture.

    That said, the differences brought about by culture, such as levels of violence, toleration of out groups, etc. are probably things we tend to be more concerned with. That is, culture has a greater deal of influence on those aspects of life they we find most relevant, which makes sense since we should expect that most people would not desire to live in ways contrary to their nature, but rather to pick the optimum path that agrees with their nature.

    However, it could certainly be the case that culture is more important when it comes to how we think about the external world. I suppose we'd need to find alien life with comparable intelligence, but a different evolutionary heritage to really know how much of perceptions are being bracketed by innate organs of thought. And this of course doesn't get into the still unresolved problems of Fichte's reading it Hegel: if all the accessible world is Self, how does something wholly other, the things in themselves, ever effect the Self. It's open to all the Berkleyian criticisms of dualism.
  • frank
    Are you familiar with Simon Conway Morris? That's his speciality.Wayfarer

    No. I just stumble onto it from time to time. Eyes evolve pretty frequently.
  • Wayfarer
    this of course doesn't get into the still unresolved problems of Fichte's reading it Hegel: if all the accessible world is Self, how does something wholly other, the things in themselves, ever effect the Self. It's open to all the Berkleyian criticisms of dualism.Count Timothy von Icarus

    I can't see how any empirical discovery, even that of alien life, could have any bearing on such questions, which are a priori by nature. They are not reflections from empirical discovery, but reflections on what must be the case in order for there to be experience - in other words, they're metaphysical or metapsychological questions.

    Nobody wants to appear unscientific, but the role occupied by evolutionary biology in modern thinking is in my opinion grossly distorted by the cultural dynamics around its discovery. There is an (often-implicit) assumption that evolutionary biology has displaced much of philosophy, not just biblical mythology, because so much of the Western philosphical tradition had become entwined with theology. Certainly the empirical facts of evolution are well established but the philosophical implications are always contestable. What I'm challenging is the implicit assumption that of course human nature is completely determined by evolutionary biology; that is what I say is reductionist. And you can fully acknowledge the empirical account of evolution while saying that.

    Take this paragraph from the 'blind brain theory' blog page.

    But we also need to take account of the recursively self-referential nature of consciousness. Scott takes the view (others have taken a similar line), that consciousness is the product of a special kind of recursion which allows the brain to take into account its own operations and contents as well as the external world. Instead of simply providing an output action for a given stimulus, it can throw its own responses into the mix and generate output actions which are more complex, more detached, and in terms of survival, more effective.

    This is what I mean. There's an implicit assumption that whatever characteristic you're discussing can only be assessed in terms of its advantage for survival. So by definition, this can never amount to something more than a form of utilitarianism. 'Whatever works', in service of the aim of - what, exactly? As far as biology is concerned, organisms (of which we are one) are totally driven by the four F's - feeding, fighting, fleeing, and reproduction. The theory is really concerned with the mechanism of survival and propogation which presumably underlie the whole process of evolution. It's a short step from there to Dawkin's selfish genes and Dennett's moist robots. But the fact is, we alone can reflect on this process, and describe it through a theory, and also wonder what it's all about, although that last tends to be deprecated by the Dawkins and Dennetts of the world.

    The blog author then raises his own doubts:

    Scott proceeds to suggest that logic and even intentionality – aboutness – are affected by a similar kind of magic that similarly turns out to be mere conjuring. Again, results generated by systems we have no direct access to, produce results which consciousness complacently but quite wrongly attributes to itself and is thereby deluded as to their reliability. It’s not exactly that they don’t work (we could again make the argument that we don’t seem to be dead yet, so something must be working) more that our understanding of how or why they work is systematically flawed and in fact as we conceive of them they are properly just illusions.

    Most of us will, I think want to stop the bus and get off at this point. What about logic, to begin with? Well, there’s logic and logic. There is indeed the unconscious kind we use to solve certain problems and which certainly is flawed and fallible; we know many examples where ordinary reasoning typically goes wrong in peculiar ways. But then there’s formal explicit logic, which we learn laboriously, which we use to validate or invalidate the other kind and which surely happens in consciousness (if it doesn’t then really I don’t think anything does and the whole matter descends into complete obscurity); hard not to feel that we can see and understand how that works too clearly for it to be a misty illusion of competence.

    That's a good observation. The question I would ask here is, in what sense can the faculties which discern logic and reason be understood as a 'product of' evolutionary theory? My view is that when H. Sapiens evolves to the point of being able to reason (which I have no doubt we did), at that point we have begun to transcend biological imperatives. We're no longer simply creatures but, as the Greeks said, we've become a rational animal. And I question whether horizons that are opened because of rational thought can be accounted for solely in terms of evolutonary theory. The rational capacity is, among other things, the source of science itself, and provides the ability to comprehend facets of reality which other creatures cannot.

    //p.s. - also see The Case against Reality, a profile of Donald Hoffman.//
  • Count Timothy von Icarus

    Yeah, evolutionary psychology is a field where hypothesis is substituted for theory. Whole books are just long series of hypothesis strung together and building off each other, but none are getting proved out to anywhere near satisfaction.

    Nevertheless, my point was that biology could be structuring our reason in ways we do not understand and cannot understand because we have no means of comparison. That's where the aliens come in. If we bump into a different species that has comparable levels of technology and demonstrates a control of reason, but nonetheless has systems of logic that are incomprehensible to us, or fail to trigger the sense of certitude that our own logic does for us, that could suggest the involvement of more "hardwired" faculties in structuring systems we currently take as being built up from inviable first principals.
  • Wayfarer
    my point was that biology could be structuring our reason in ways we do not understand and cannot understand because we have no means of comparison.Count Timothy von Icarus

    So, you're arguing that logic is contingent on biological evolution? What about the idea of propositions that are 'true in all possible worlds?' For that matter, what about the Pioneer Plaques? They were designed in the belief that any civilisation advanced enough to retreive the ships to which they were attaced would be able to interpret them.
  • RogueAI
    Isn't a precondition to any of these kinds of theories an explanation for how neuron arrangements and activity sometimes give rise to conscious awareness and sometimes don't?
  • Count Timothy von Icarus

    For sure, but that explanation appears to be a ways away: https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-018-05097-x

    As someone who has woken up during surgery while under drugs designed to knock out conciousness, and reguarly can recall deep sleep dreams (as opposed to more common REM ones; deep sleep dreams much more like disjointed, repetitive fretting), my intuition is that memory is essential to ground experience. In this view, memory, particularly short term, plays a larger role than many people imagine. Living with someone with Alzheimer's makes me think this too. Ungrounded experience that doesn't record itself loses a lot of its character. I'm not totally sure how to describe it. Even if you can recall it, it is fairly alien.

    You also have trains of thought and ideas vanishing into irretrievable oblivion as others shift into focus, while there is no clear sensory input. I think something analogous happens in regular conciousness, but the breadth of information coming in along with recursive processes to make the experience into an understandable whole help form it together.
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