• Metaphysician Undercover
    3.9k

    Take the example you gave, telling us to imagine a poplar tree by the lake. I would classify this action of yours as initiative rather than responsive. I perceive you starting this thread as an initiative rather than as a response.

    It may be the case that you perceive these conscious actions as responses rather than as initiatives, but I'm not privy to this information, which makes you view the op as responsive rather than as initiative.

    Anyway, that's what I see about consciousness which makes it other than responsiveness, that it initiates things. Isn't that the difference between the free will perspective and the determinist perspective, one looks at consciousness as initiative, the other as responsive?

    So these thoughts appear to have come from my brain, but are actually more or less distorted reflections of the world...unenlightened

    I look at thoughts as creations of the brain, not as reflections of the world.
  • unenlightened
    2.3k
    In the meantime, I still think that responsiveness is a component at least of anything I want to dignify with the term 'conscious'. This is one of those places where I think ad hominem is a legitimate focus of argument, so I will with some hesitation put forth the hypothesis that to participate in a discussion here is to subject oneself to something of a Turing test by one's interlocutors, and one of the ways I personally mark these on-going tests to distinguish a bare pass from a distinction as it were, by how responsive they are. Some posters seem to trot out the same responses over and over as if, like modbot, they are triggered by a word or a phrase. Others manage to convince me that they have read the whole post and created a new response that relates to that post.

    This exemplifies the distinction between responding, and what I will call 'reacting'; or sometimes I might call it 'overreacting'.

    Anyway I'm trying to clarify a bit without being too formal at this stage, what it takes to be responsive, and again a certain presence is a feature - a here and now aspect that is particular to the occasion. Having said that, the ignore button is also a response, somewhat generic, but particular to a poster, unless it becomes a habit. Are you still awake at the back there?

    I mentioned time a long time back, and I think next post or soon, anyway, I'll try and go into that a bit more, but I see consciousness as always and only present.

    Edit:

    Take the example you gave, telling us to imagine a poplar tree by the lake. I would classify this action of yours as initiative rather than responsive. I perceive you starting this thread as an initiative rather than as a response.

    It may be the case that you perceive these conscious actions as responses rather than as initiatives, but I'm not privy to this information, which makes you view the op as responsive rather than as initiative.
    Metaphysician Undercover

    Ah, I think I understand your point and hopefully I have at least started to answer it above. If I push a non-conscious vase off the mantelpiece, it reacts by falling onto the hearth, and probably breaking. By contrast, if I push the cat off the mantlepiece, it responds, turning itself in midair and landing on its feet, and then stalking off indignantly. A response includes an element of initiative, as you put it, or as I put it earlier an element of imagination. So my op is hopefully a creative response to various bits and pieces that I have come across and most of the responses at least have been similarly creative, at the same time as they are relevant to the op. Hopefully, we are not reciting dogma to each other but thinking about what has been said and moving, if we are lucky, towards a new conception of things. So it is not responses rather than initiatives, but responses are initiatives in relation to what has gone before, (because there is no limit to the possible responses) and thoughts are indeed creations of brains, but also reflections/models of the world.

    I'm not sure if this relates to Pierce at all, but I see consciousness as in the first place a response to the immediacy of sensation - a connection with the world, but that response is informed, modified, extended, liberated into creativity, by memory and thought.
  • unenlightened
    2.3k
    I was considering drawing a diagram, but decided to manage without.

    I locate consciousness in the present; it is presence, it is the now. I can describe the contents from the senses, the computer is on my lap, a cup of coffee steaming to the right, the armchair is red, and I am typing with two fingers. Also, the contents are memories, that I just made the coffee, that I made a post yesterday, and models, that if I scroll up I can read it, that I am intending to continue an exploration in this thread.

    This gives rise quite naturally to the idea of a distinction between internal and external; sight, sound, touch present to consciousness the external world, and memory, thought, modelling, present the internal world. Now it is fairly uncontroversial to say that the external world - the coffee, the armchair, etc is not conscious, not the location of awareness, but only the content, the provocation.

    It is rather more radical though to claim that the internal world, memories, models, thoughts, are not conscious either, but are also only more contents and provocations. I mentioned earlier that model time is not real time. You can probably replay the events of yesterday in a few minutes at most, and re-present the past to consciousness. Re-membering, re-presenting is now, all of it is present, or else it is absent. Memories might be 'there' in the brain, just as there is crap behind the sofa that I cannot see, but these things are not 'here' in consciousness.

    And then, there is action. And let's include inaction, let's include internal action - building a new model, meditating, calculating, exploring an idea. This internal action goes on while I am away from the computer, as well as while I am typing. Consciousness acts in the world, and also in the brain.

    Again, the way I am describing things sounds a bit like inputs and outputs, and it is a bit misleading. Seeing the coffee cup is an action and drinking the coffee is a sensation, there are not really inputs and outputs that are different kinds, but everything is both and neither, everything is integral, in the same way that a response integrates the creative initiative with what is already there as provocation.
  • Moliere
    1.1k
    Again, the way I am describing things sounds a bit like inputs and outputs, and it is a bit misleading. Seeing the coffee cup is an action and drinking the coffee is a sensation, there are not really inputs and outputs that are different kinds, but everything is both and neither, everything is integral, in the same way that a response integrates the creative initiative with what is already there as provocation.unenlightened

    Good stuff.

    I wonder if it sounds like inputs/outputs just because we are accustomed to that way of thinking. I agree that it is both and neither, though. It's not as if I don't react or invent because of the world about me, but it's also not as if I am a puppet to the world about me too. At least as far as consciousness is concerned.

    But it may sound as if we are automatons just merely by the way we are trained to think.

    ***

    I sort of wonder which way you're leaning. Nothing is conscious or everything is. Or there is this thing called consciousness and there is also the world.

    I member, I present, I re-member, I re-present. All that is now, in the here and now. They are kinds of actions, though maybe a bit different from wielding a hammer.

    Is consciousness the sort of thing (I hate to use the word "thing", but alas, English) which acts whether I am moving bodily or no? Just a thought.
  • unenlightened
    2.3k
    I sort of wonder which way you're leaning. Nothing is conscious or everything is. Or there is this thing called consciousness and there is also the world.Moliere

    Well so far, I cannot eliminate the possibility of a full-blown spirit/matter dualism, but it seems like an unfruitful model in which the spiritual is either invented or left blank. Eliminativism and panpsychism I have also ruled out as not explaining the thing that wants explaining, that I am not a rock. So until @Harry Hindu or someone else sets forth the alternatives that I haven't thought of, I am left with emergentism, but emergence from "brainy-bodies-in-environments". When a blind man feels his way with a stick, his consciousness is in the curb he feels, at the end of the stick, in the hand holding the stick, in the brain modelling the environment, and the feet propelling him and confirming his model. When an earthbound astronomer uses the Hubble telescope his consciousness is amongst the stars just as much as it is in his head. Or to put it better - consciousness is not located, because it is virtual.

    But here is one consideration that might move one in the direction of dualist woo. Physics seems to have no account of the uniqueness of now. It treats time as a dimension which is given direction by entropy, but does not privilege any place on the dimension as the present. Consciousness does. Physics has the film 'in the can', but consciousness is watching and acting in that same film. Perhaps physics is missing something.
  • frank
    776
    Perhaps physics is missing something.unenlightened

    David Chalmers is famous for having made that suggestion.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    3.9k
    A response includes an element of initiative, as you put it, or as I put it earlier an element of imagination. So my op is hopefully a creative response to various bits and pieces that I have come across and most of the responses at least have been similarly creative, at the same time as they are relevant to the op.unenlightened

    OK, so conscious activity is a combination of these two elements, reaction, and creation. Therefore I conclude that you are describing consciousness in terms of what it does, what it is doing. It is reacting and it is creating, in a way which combines these two elements. My opinion is that there is a very real need to separate these two, in principle, so that we can proceed to separate them in practise, when we make judgements concerning what consciousness is doing.

    Look at the mirror. Notice that the features on the right side of your body appear to be on the left side of your body, and vise versa. The mirror is doing something weird. But we don't say that the mirror is making a mistake; nor do we say that the mirror is "wrong". We appeal to the physicists who use fancy terms like "chirality", and "higher dimensions", to explain exactly what the mirror is "doing". So it turns out that despite the fact that the mirror appears to be doing something weird, it is not really doing anything wrong, it's actually doing exactly what it's supposed to be doing.

    Now look what happens when human consciousness "models" the world. We cannot say that the model is a "reflection", because human consciousness has that creative element which the mirror does not have. Because that creative element is there in human consciousness, and manifests within the model, we can judge the model as right or wrong. So when you ask us to imagine a poplar tree by the lake, and someone doesn't know what a poplar tree looks like, and imagines a birch tree instead, that's creativity, and we can judge creativity saying that the person is "wrong" in that model. That element of creativity within consciousness allows us to look at what the conscious person is doing, and judge those doings as right and wrong.

    It is rather more radical though to claim that the internal world, memories, models, thoughts, are not conscious either, but are also only more contents and provocations. I mentioned earlier that model time is not real time. You can probably replay the events of yesterday in a few minutes at most, and re-present the past to consciousness. Re-membering, re-presenting is now, all of it is present, or else it is absent. Memories might be 'there' in the brain, just as there is crap behind the sofa that I cannot see, but these things are not 'here' in consciousness.unenlightened

    Will you allow me to separate the contents here from the "agent"? When I say "agent", I mean it in the most general sense possible, like the grammatical subject, the thing which is active, doing something. So the mirror is an agent in the sense that it is doing something, making a reflection. What I am asking, is that when you separate the contents from the consciousness, as you do here, do you still maintain that it is the consciousness which is acting, "doing"? That way we still maintain the capacity to judge the actions as wrong and right.

    I locate consciousness in the present; it is presence, it is the now. I can describe the contents from the senses, the computer is on my lap, a cup of coffee steaming to the right, the armchair is red, and I am typing with two fingers. Also, the contents are memories, that I just made the coffee, that I made a post yesterday, and models, that if I scroll up I can read it, that I am intending to continue an exploration in this thread.unenlightened

    What if I say your model of consciousness is wrong? There is no such thing as the present, so it is impossible that consciousness is located in the present. The present is an imaginary division which separates the temporal duration of the past from the temporal duration of the future. This is just an artificial boundary, a point which separates two contiguous durations of time, like "noon" separates morning from afternoon. But there could be absolutely nothing there, so it's impossible that consciousness is there.
  • Moliere
    1.1k
    So until Harry Hindu or someone else sets forth the alternatives that I haven't thought of, I am left with emergentism, but emergence from "brainy-bodies-in-environments".unenlightened

    Physics has the film 'in the can', but consciousness is watching and acting in that same film. Perhaps physics is missing something.unenlightened

    Maybe this is an issue of preaching to the choir... but I definitely feel that even all of science, from physics on up, is missing something. And I say that as a used-to-be scientific realist materialist type guy.

    But I will speak against emergence, too. Maybe because of my history as a used-to-be, but I think I have arguments too. The problem with emergence, from my perspective, is that it suffers from all the same arguments against dualism. Emergence is a kind of answer to the main question of dualism, "How do these two substances relate?" -- but without a real answer other than "Well, this one makes the other one somehow". Maybe I'm being a bit of a pedant, but at this point at least I feel that's not too far off, when you strip away the linguistic maneuvers

    To be honest I have flirted with dualism in the past -- both property and substance dualism -- but now-a-days I feel a real ignorance, and a sort of wonder about the problem of consciousness. I don't feel that my thoughts obstruct the facts anymore. But I don't know what to make of it all. I guess that's where I'm at on the problem of consciousness -- just in-between and not quite committed.
  • unenlightened
    2.3k
    What if I say your model of consciousness is wrong? There is no such thing as the present, so it is impossible that consciousness is located in the present. The present is an imaginary division which separates the temporal duration of the past from the temporal duration of the future. This is just an artificial boundary, a point which separates two contiguous durations of time, like "noon" separates morning from afternoon. But there could be absolutely nothing there, so it's impossible that consciousness is there.Metaphysician Undercover

    Then I would be anxious to hear your account.

    Emergence is a kind of answer to the main question of dualism, "How do these two substances relate?" --but without a real answer other than "Well, this one makes the other one somehow"Moliere

    Well there is potential for it to be more than complete hand-waving; we understand how solidity and liquidity emerge from the mass behaviours of molecules under certain conditions, and we know not to look inside molecules or atoms for these properties, but rather to their relations to each other. So a theory of emergence would likewise tend to suggest that it is relations between brains, bodies, and conditions as I would have it, or between neurons as neuroscience has it, from which consciousness arises.
  • Harry Hindu
    1.2k
    So until Harry Hindu or someone else sets forth the alternatives that I haven't thought of...unenlightened
    Re-read my posts.
  • JJJJS
    206
    Creativity happens on the border between the internal and the external
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    3.9k
    Then I would be anxious to hear your account.unenlightened

    As we were saying, part of consciousness is responsive and part is creative. If we try to model reality, then the model must precisely "reflect" reality. But the creative aspect adds things which are not there, made up things, artificial things, imaginary things. If these imaginary things get into the model, they are fictions, making the model wrong in respect to those fictions. That is what I think "the present" might be, such a fiction, something imaginary, created, which has gotten into the model.

    You've said consciousness is "in the present". I dispute this, saying "the present" may be a fiction, created by the imagination. So the challenge for me is to remove "the present" from the model, while maintaining an adequate model. What I think is that consciousness is in the future and the past. Part of it consists of anticipations toward the future, and part of it consists of memories of the past. When we reflect on the activities of consciousness, as you are doing in this thread, we apprehend a substantial difference between the future and past, so we imagine a division between these two. Just like I insisted that we ought to maintain, in principle, a division between the responsive (related to the past), and the initiative (related to the future), you appear to insist on a division between past and future. This imaginary division between future and past inclines one to assume "the present".

    That is what I think is wrong with your model of conscious. Consciousness is really composed of elements which are related to the past, and elements which are related to the future. So I think consciousness is "in" the past and "in" the future, both at the same time. It appears like you apprehend a clear and crisp division between future and past, which you call "the present". And, assuming that nothing can cross this boundary, to exist in both the future and past at the same time, because that would be contradictory, you locate consciousness "in" the boundary, "in the present".

    My opinion, is that this fictitious "present" you (or whomever lent you this idea) have created, will give you endless problems for your model. You will never be able to fit consciousness into reality, because reality consists of future and past times, and you have created an unreal, imaginary "present" where you locate consciousness. So your model allows that consciousness is completely removed from reality, by placing it in a fictitious, imaginary "present", permitting you to say that consciousness is anywhere, or everywhere, as you do in this passage:

    When a blind man feels his way with a stick, his consciousness is in the curb he feels, at the end of the stick, in the hand holding the stick, in the brain modelling the environment, and the feet propelling him and confirming his model. When an earthbound astronomer uses the Hubble telescope his consciousness is amongst the stars just as much as it is in his head. Or to put it better - consciousness is not located, because it is virtual.unenlightened
  • unenlightened
    2.3k
    I have to confess I am struggling to relate this to my experience at all.

    Consciousness is really composed of elements which are related to the past, and elements which are related to the future. So I think consciousness is "in" the past and "in" the future, both at the same time.Metaphysician Undercover

    The first sentence makes perfect sense to me, the second seems bizarre. Elements related to the past are memories and knowledge, and these I associate with things I encounter - the overflowing bin I didn't empty yesterday, the tree I remember standing last time I passed, that has or hasn't blown down in a storm, the photo of the kids when they were little, those amazing dinosaur footprints. Sometimes I 'relive the past' and sometimes it is very vivid - lifelike. But it is never as lifelike as living; memories of hot summers in the South of France do not keep me warm in the Welsh winter. All these things are related to the past, but all are present to me, and that is why I can talk about the past at all.

    The idea of consciousness being in the future is even more odd. I am tempted to ask, if yours is there, if you could let me have next week's lottery numbers. Memories and knowledge of the past lead me to model the future - the daffodils are in flower, spring is coming again. My pension is due next week, the government is usually pretty reliable. But I do not become conscious of these things themselves ( as distinct from the ideas that I have relayed here), before they happen. I cannot spend next week's pension today, or bathe in the spring sunshine.

    The best sense I can make of it is that you are speaking as thought and in a thought world, because in the thought world, the model world, time has exactly that property, the model can be run forwards or backwards, restarted, altered, relived, and so on. One has equal access to every moment at any moment. But the painful frustrating world I live in does not afford that freedom; the compensation though is that it is real, not thought.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    3.9k
    The best sense I can make of it is that you are speaking as thought and in a thought world, because in the thought world, the model world, time has exactly that property, the model can be run forwards or backwards, restarted, altered, relived, and so on. One has equal access to every moment at any moment.unenlightened

    Well, isn't this the point? You are talking about consciousness. What is consciousness other than "the thought world"? You dismiss my description of consciousness by saying that I am talking about the thought world. What sense does that make? Consciousness is the thought world.


    I have to confess I am struggling to relate this to my experience at all.unenlightened

    I expected you to say something like this, so I am not surprised. The fact is, that I have reflected on this matter many times, and I just cannot determine the reality of the present. If I try to pinpoint it by saying "now", it is into the past by the time I have said it. If I think of a future time, and expect to say it is present, when it arrives, I have the same problem. It disappears into the past by the time it even arrives. I can't find a real present because anything which I think might qualify as 'the present" always disappears into the past.

    So it appears to me, like my consciousness has been deceived into believing itself to be in the present. People like you have probably told me that I am "in the present", and I have been inclined to believe that without giving it any real thought, when this is really an illusion, because when I reflect on it I realize that there is no present. "The present" is a product of the imagination. Your consciousness is not in the present, the present is in your consciousness, as a product of your imagination.

    My pension is due next week, the government is usually pretty reliable. But I do not become conscious of these things themselves ( as distinct from the ideas that I have relayed here), before they happen. I cannot spend next week's pension today, or bathe in the spring sunshine.unenlightened

    How can you say that you are not conscious of your pension when you are talking about it? These things you say don't make sense. Of course you can spend your pension before you receive it, that's what credit is for. You speak as if there is a point in time, like noon next Friday when prior to that time you have no money, and posterior to that time you have money. Suppose this is really the case, how does that point in time become "the present". As soon as it gets here, that point which you receive money is in the past Now it is in the future, and when it comes it will be in the past. It will never be at the present. "The present" is only in your mind. All these things around you, in "the real world", are either in the past or the future. So if you are in the real world, you are in the past and in the future. You are not in the present, the present is in you, as a product of your imagination.

    See, you are telling yourself, that you are living in the present, when in reality all the occurrences you relate to are either in the past or in the future, and this idea of "the present" is just something you've made up to help you understand the difference between things which have already occurred and things which have not yet occurred.

    But the painful frustrating world I live in does not afford that freedom; the compensation though is that it is real, not thought.unenlightened

    I think you are trying to give to consciousness something which is not proper to it. You say that the frustrating world you live in is real, and not just thought. But how could this frustrating world be part of your consciousness except through thought? You appear to be saying that there is some part of consciousness which is other than thought, and this is the real frustrating world, when in reality that thing you call the real world is not part of consciousness at all, and that's why it's so frustrating.
  • unenlightened
    2.3k
    Well, isn't this the point? You are talking about consciousness. What is consciousness other than "the thought world"? You dismiss my description of consciousness by saying that I am talking about the thought world. What sense does that make? Consciousness is the thought world.Metaphysician Undercover

    Yes, I think this is the point of disagreement. I say I am conscious of the thought world, and I am conscious of the physical world, you say you are the thought world, and (I presume,) are conscious of the physical world. I'm not sure there is anywhere much left to go with this. Is there an experiment or an argument that would decide it?
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    3.9k

    Well, I wouldn't say "I am the thought world", I would say "consciousness is the thought world". So I would agree with you that I am conscious of both the thought world, and of the physical world, just like you say. But "conscious of the thought world" is very similar to "self-conscious". It is really nothing more than being conscious of my own consciousness.

    I wouldn't say "I am consciousness" because I recognize that there is a significant part of my being which doesn't appear to be part of my consciousness. There are activities of my being which do not seem to enter into my consciousness, the unconscious part of me.

    Where we seem to disagree is in how we relate to the presence, of our conscious being. You say that your consciousness is "in the present", explaining that there is a "present" in the physical world around you, which you are a part of. I am saying that there is only a future and past in the physical world around me, and "the present" only exists within my consciousness, as a thought.

    However, I do recognize that if there is a substantial difference between future and past, then I ought to allow that there is actually a present in the physical world as well, to substantiate this difference. So the experiment, or demonstration which would settle this would be a demonstration which would indicate whether or not there is a real difference between past and future in the physical world.

    .
  • unenlightened
    2.3k
    I wouldn't say "I am consciousness" because I recognize that there is a significant part of my being which doesn't appear to be part of my consciousness. There are activities of my being which do not seem to enter into my consciousness, the unconscious part of me.Metaphysician Undercover

    Are you talking about unconscious thought, or more bodily processes? Usually, as you seem to suggest, people talk about self-consciousness in terms of being aware of thoughts, but do not talk about self-consciousness in terms of being aware of having an erection or a sore thumb. They identify as having a body, and being a mind. This is largely unchanged by the idea that the mind extends beyond what is conscious. And in such case, I would expect you to say, if not 'I am consciousness', then something like 'I am the mind of which I am incompletely conscious'. Which is to locate oneself as an inner world, in the body but other than it.


    So the experiment, or demonstration which would settle this would be a demonstration which would indicate whether or not there is a real difference between past and future in the physical world.Metaphysician Undercover

    Then a glance at this thread should convince you. You can readily scroll back and look at all the past posts, but where the future posts will be is blank.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    3.9k
    Are you talking about unconscious thought, or more bodily processes? Usually, as you seem to suggest, people talk about self-consciousness in terms of being aware of thoughts, but do not talk about self-consciousness in terms of being aware of having an erection or a sore thumb. They identify as having a body, and being a mind. This is largely unchanged by the idea that the mind extends beyond what is conscious. And in such case, I would expect you to say, if not 'I am consciousness', then something like 'I am the mind of which I am incompletely conscious'. Which is to locate oneself as an inner world, in the body but other than it.unenlightened

    I think of my "self" as every part of me, my mind and body, not just mind. So if I say "I have a body", I mean that my body is part of me. But by saying "I have a body" I am implying that I am more than just a body. The problem I find, with talking about being aware of, or conscious of, different parts of the body, is that there are many parts which one is not aware of. I know I have lungs, kidneys, and liver, and I am to some extent aware of my lungs when I think about my breathing, but I don't think that I can say that I am aware, or conscious of my kidneys. Perhaps if something went out of order, like your example of a sore thumb, I might become aware of my kidneys, or even other types of changes might attract my attention like the case of an erection. That's probably why I can say that I'm aware of my lungs, because they are making changes. And I can be aware of my heart because it is beating.

    This brings up a point of interest for me. How is it that I can know about a whole lot of internal parts, like intestines and such, yet I can't really say that I am consciously aware of them? It seems strangely contradictory that I could say I know about my duodenum, but I am not conscious of it. Am I using "conscious" in a bad way? Or am I really conscious of my duodenum, but not directly conscious of it?

    In any case, it doesn't seem appropriate to locate my consciousness as my "inner world", because I know that so many inner parts escape my consciousness. I think I'd prefer to locate my consciousness as my "outer world", because being conscious describes more accurately how I relate to things other than me. So long as the things inside me are working properly, they escape my consciousness, because the problems which I need to think about, are mainly coming at me from outside.

    Then a glance at this thread should convince you. You can readily scroll back and look at all the past posts, but where the future posts will be is blank.unenlightened

    That's an interesting way of putting it. But how do I know that the future posts are not out there, and I just can't see them? When I scroll back, I am not really seeing the posts in the past, I am seeing the past posts in the present. I cannot see the future posts in the present, so you think that this amounts to a substantial difference between past and future.

    I'd agree with that, but where does this leave the future? The past is out there, and I can scroll back, or see evidence of what happened. You think that consciousness is "in the present", and I think that the present is "in consciousness". It appears like we would need to determine where the future is to resolve this.
  • unenlightened
    2.3k
    How is it that I can know about a whole lot of internal parts, like intestines and such, yet I can't really say that I am consciously aware of them? It seems strangely contradictory that I could say I know about my duodenum, but I am not conscious of it. Am I using "conscious" in a bad way? Or am I really conscious of my duodenum, but not directly conscious of it?Metaphysician Undercover

    Well it's all hearsay isn't it? I have no direct evidence that I have a brain and not a spaghetti monster in my head. But then it is only hearsay that Australia exists. I just assume people are not making up all this stuff. So the candle of consciousness doesn't even light up the whole candle, and certainly not the whole of the inside of the candle, let alone the rest of the world. And all the rest is stories... All I know about the duodenum is that it gets ulcers. I assume I have one because the story is that we all have the same complement of bits, but if you cut me open and fished it out, I wouldn't recognise it, and if I did feel it, I would have no idea that that is what I was feeling.

    All of which goes to say that to a huge extent, what I think I am is a story I have been told.

    When I scroll back, I am not really seeing the posts in the past, I am seeing the past posts in the present. I cannot see the future posts in the present, so you think that this amounts to a substantial difference between past and future.Metaphysician Undercover

    Yes, exactly. I am not seeing the past, I am seeing in the present the marks of the past. The thread I can see now is a (transform by electro-magic of a) record on some hard drive created by our interactions in the past, and the memories I have of our interactions are similarly a (rather vaguer) record in my alleged brain. This all being 'received wisdom'.

    You think that consciousness is "in the present", and I think that the present is "in consciousness". It appears like we would need to determine where the future is to resolve this.Metaphysician Undercover

    When you put it that way, It seems not so much of a disagreement. Especially because I would rather say, 'The present is consciousness, consciousness is the present'. It is the 'place' where all posts are created. I think this perspective works for most of the theories of time; presentism, obviously, but even a fully determined block universe, in which life is read-only. The future is there and the past is there in the book/block, but I (and the remote hard drive) haven't read the future and have read the past, at any arbitrary 'present' moment.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    3.9k
    All of which goes to say that to a huge extent, what I think I am is a story I have been told.unenlightened

    Yeah, so that's the point, we seem to say "I am conscious of X", using "conscious of" in a number of completely distinct ways. And that difference is evident, and sometimes confusing here at TPF. Sometimes I might use "conscious of" to include all those stories I have been told, without even questioning the truth of some of them. But other times I might use "conscious of" to refer strictly to things which I am immediately aware of through my senses.

    When you put it that way, It seems not so much of a disagreement. Especially because I would rather say, 'The present is consciousness, consciousness is the present'. It is the 'place' where all posts are created.unenlightened

    I think that this is an over simplification now, to say "the present is consciousness". If we look back to what you were saying about modeling reality, I think that "the present" within consciousness is part of a model. So the question for me was, if the present is part of the model of reality, then what aspect of reality is it a reflection of. And I was trying to answer this as the division between past and future. But your example made me think that maybe the future is not even part of reality at all. Where are the posts of the future? Maybe the future is completely imaginary.

    I cannot say that I am conscious of the future, in the sense that I use "conscious of" to refer to what I am immediately aware of through my senses. However I am conscious of the future in the sense that I know about it through stories. And, I think that I am conscious of the future in another sense of "conscious of". I am aware of things that are imminent, and I anticipate them without referring to stories. I am not immediately aware of these things through my senses, nor am I aware of them through stories, but I am still conscious of them, in another sense of "conscious of".
bold
italic
underline
strike
code
quote
ulist
image
url
mention
reveal
youtube
tweet
Add a Comment

Welcome to The Philosophy Forum!

Get involved in philosophical discussions about knowledge, truth, language, consciousness, science, politics, religion, logic and mathematics, art, history, and lots more. No ads, no clutter, and very little agreement — just fascinating conversations.