• Wayfarer
    3.9k
    Sim Life.
  • Rich
    1.7k
    The mystery is not: How is there Consciousness? but How is there Unconsciousness? That's the thing that's unprovable, unreachable, unimaginable.Dominic Osborn

    Unconsciousness (blackout, dream states, death?) would appear to be a state where access to memory had been impaired, sort of like a TV set that no longer can get a transmission signal. It certainly feels like Will (the Elan vital) has gone yet it can spark to life again once access to memory is restored. It is an extremely interesting phenomenon, yet almost nothing is written about it in any philosophical literature.

    One can say this is the transition point.
  • javra
    161
    Very odd.Bitter Crank

    Very queer, you mean. Dude, whilst I appreciate you comment, no worries. In the words of someone or other, “there are no solutions, only problems”. Or am I getting that backwards?

    Anyways, I’ll take a breather from the forum for the time being. Freewill, don’t you know.
  • Harry Hindu
    586
    [For those who deny that bacteria hold any awareness and some minimal degree of freewill, the transition nevertheless happened somewhere along the way toward being human; I pick at this level for my own reasons … As for myself, I’ll not here again debate where the transition first occurred, nor on whether reality is all determinist v. indeterminist. Again, the intended theme here is how one can logically go from inanimate matter to conscious agency.]javra
    The difference between life and non-life is quite distinguishable in the extremes, as when we compare a rock to a human being. As we move further back in time, back to where the distinction isn't so clear, we find objects that have the features of life and non-life, like truffles which is more than a rock but less than a mushroom. Just like everything else, the boundaries are blurred when we get at the root of it. The same can be said about the differences between man and ape when we begin to look at the origin of man.

    "At what point can we say that the precursors of man become man himself?"
    -Jacob Bronowski in the Ascent of Man

    I deny that bacteria hold any conscious agency as they have no nervous system, much less a central nervous system. Conscious agency does happen along the way to being human. It is the difference between having a basic nervous system, like a nerve net in starfish (no conscious agency) and a central nervous system (conscious agency) where the brain is the place where the sensory information comes together into a whole experience.
  • sime
    42
    Suppose someone said "Bacteria are unconscious because in lacking a nervous system they lack the capacity for certain stimulus-response behavioural dispositions"

    What is the role of "because" in the above sentence?

    Does Is it refer to empirical implication or to linguistic definition?
  • Galuchat
    220
    Suppose someone said "Bacteria are unconscious because in lacking a nervous system they lack the capacity for certain stimulus-response behavioural dispositions"

    Does Is (sic) it ["because"] mean 'by empirical implication' or 'by definition'?
    — sime

    Good question. Given the following tentative definitions:

    1) Conscious: fully responsive and fully aware.
    2) Responsive: receptive and/or reactive.
    3) Aware: sensitive and perceptive.
    4) Sensation: the mental experience of interoception.
    5) Perception: the mental experience of sensory stimulation.
    6) Interoception: the reception of a physiological stimulus by an internal organ which transmits neural signals to the brain.
    7) Sensory Stimulation: the reception of a physical stimulus from the environment by a sense organ, which transmits neural signals to the brain.

    If bacteria do not have a brain and sense organs, is there any point in trying to devise an experiment to test the hypothesis?
  • Rich
    1.7k
    A good experimenter will creatively design experiments that transcend human biases. Plants, for example, are sensitive. Bacteria, like cockroaches and viruses, are quite adaptive in their own way. The mind can be quite creative in all manner.
  • sime
    42
    Good question. Given the following tentative definitions:

    1) Conscious: fully responsive and fully aware.
    2) Responsive: receptive and/or reactive.
    3) Aware: sensitive and perceptive.
    4) Sensation: the mental experience of interoception.
    5) Perception: the mental experience of sensory stimulation.
    6) Interoception: the reception of a physiological stimulus by an internal organ which transmits neural signals to the brain, resulting in sensation.
    7) Sensory Stimulation: the reception of a physical stimulus from the environment by a sense organ, which transmits neural signals to the brain, resulting in perception.

    If bacteria do not have a brain and sense organs, is there any point in trying to devise an experiment to test the hypothesis?
    Galuchat

    What about the reverse question:

    Since a living human has a functional brain and sensory organs, is there any point in trying to devise an experiment to test the hypothesis that a human is conscious, given the fact a human is *by definition* said to be conscious in virtue of possessing a functioning brain and sensory organs?
  • Galuchat
    220
    Since a living human has a functional brain and sensory organs, is there any point in trying to devise an experiment to test the hypothesis that a human is conscious, given the fact a human is *by definition* said to be conscious in virtue of possessing a functioning brain and sensory organs? — sime

    Another good question. Answer: No.

    But since it doesn't cost much to establish the fact that not only conscious, but also semi-conscious and non-conscious human mind-body conditions exist, anyone is free to conduct their own empirical investigation: simply observe that people can be awake, asleep, or in a coma.
  • Galuchat
    220
    A good experimenter will creatively design experiments that transcend human biases. — Rich

    I agree.
    It's obvious to me that plants and bacteria are at least responsive to their environments. But are plants sensitive in that they have mental experiences of interoception? Is it an empirical or conceptual question? Can you devise an experiment that is capable of testing that hypothesis (i.e., plants are sensitive, as defined)? If not, isn't it a conceptual question?
  • Rich
    1.7k
    A field that is being researched with interesting findings:

    https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-green-mind/201412/are-plants-entering-the-realm-the-sentient

    I wonder how this affects veganism?
  • sime
    42
    Another good question. Answer: No.

    But since it doesn't cost much to establish the fact that not only conscious, but also semi-conscious and non-conscious human mind-body conditions exist, anyone is free to conduct their own empirical investigation: simply observe that people can be awake, asleep, or in a coma.
    Galuchat

    But if the answer is No, in virtue of consciousness being reducible to a cognitive-behavioural definition, then "consciousness" is nothing more than a linguistic convention.

    Hence the sentence "a functioning brain is aware" is analytic, and therefore meaningless, and everyone is free to invent their own definition of "awareness", irrespective of observed matters of fact.
  • Galuchat
    220
    Hence the sentence "a functioning brain is aware" is analytic, and therefore meaningless, and everyone is free to invent their own definition of "awareness", irrespective of observed matters of fact. — sime

    I would say that sentence is meaningless because I connected awareness with mental (i.e., mind) experiences, not with brains. In any case, you are correct that "everyone is free to invent their own definition of", not only awareness, but any other term. Do you have another definition of consciousness that you would like to propose?
  • Galuchat
    220
    A field that is being researched with interesting findings: — Rich

    Thanks for the link. Javra has mentioned similar research in previous posts. I'm not sure whether the explanations offered are analogous or metaphorical with respect to animal psychology.

    Is the type of information being "acquired", "processed", "integrated", and "transmitted" by plants (i.e., chemical and electrical signals) the same type of information which animal minds acquire, process, etc. (i.e., concepts and models)? In other words, do plants have minds which are analogous to animal minds?

    If plants are conscious, my psychological definitions No.6&7 need to replace "brain" with another term. Any suggestions?
  • Rich
    1.7k
    In other words, do plants have minds which are analogous to animal minds?Galuchat

    There are similarities in the differences and differences in the similarities. These are what we are observing. The mind travels many paths. Analogies work to a certain extent, but only to a certain extent and then we embrace the differences. Heraclitus called this life energy, the Lagos, Daoism calls it the Dao, and Bergson calls it the Elan vital. It is the creative force that permeates the universe.
  • Galuchat
    220
    It is the creative force that permeates the universe. — Rich

    Is this your definition of consciousness? And is it a panpsychist conception?
  • Rich
    1.7k
    I tend to stay away from labels since labels tend to mean different things to different people. Suffice to say there is a creative force that has memory and will that is evolving as it v experiments and learns.
  • Galuchat
    220
    I tend to stay away from labels since labels tend to mean different things to different people. Suffice to say there is a creative force that has memory and will that is evolving as it v experiments and learns. — Rich

    Definitions aren't labels. What is "the creative force that permeates the universe"?
  • Rich
    1.7k
    The creative force? It's fundamental and irreducible.
  • Galuchat
    220
    The creative force? It's fundamental and irreducible. — Rich

    If so, do you have an answer for the OP (i.e., "how one can logically go from inanimate matter to conscious agency")?
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