• Troodon Roar
    18
    I have a view of consciousness and mind called Species-Neutral Non-Physicalism (SNNP). It is non-physicalism (the idea that consciousness does not depend on any particular arrangements of matter for its existence) that proposes that the brain acts as a filter or a receiver for the mind, so that how an organism behaves is determined by a combination of its mind and the structure of its body, including its brain. Therefore, according to this view, non-human species might have similar minds to humans, despite having vastly different brains and bodies. This means that they might be capable of such things as rationality, abstract thought, and maybe even philosophy, just like humans are, but, since they cannot speak the same language as humans for anatomical reasons, humans cannot have access to their thoughts, so they assume they do not have these abilities.
    It seems that many who are willing to question human exceptionalism tend to be materialists, or physicalists, with regard to consciousness. Meanwhile, many non-physicalists tend to be human exceptionalists who believe in the uniqueness of the human soul. For example, dualist René Descartes thought that non-human species were not even conscious because he thought they did not have souls.

    My view summed up in a nutshell: Descartes was right that the soul is a separate entity from the body, and does not depend upon any part of the body, including the brain, for its existence. He was wrong that only humans have souls.
  • khaled
    3.5k
    This is similar to one of the Buddhist views am I wrong (I am not very knowledgeable on those)? Note I will use mind and soul interchangeably here.

    Your view does not address the mind-body problem just like any dualist view. According to you, there is a "consciousness" in my body that has agency alongside the physical parts of me but this is not a very effective dodge of the mind-body problem as you have not specified exactly WHAT this transmitted consciousness can do. It could just be completely useless.

    The main problem I find with it is a fatal one and it is that it is completely unprovable. If all of my memories remain in this body and my "soul" is then "retransmitted" into another body/creature then there is no way for anyone to ever prove this view as souls are incapable of retaining memories (because retaining memories requires a physical record and these souls are non-physical).

    And the second flaw I find is that the existence of the "mother consciousness" is impossible to imagine for me. Your view suggests the existence of consciousness as separate from physical parts completely but sense, memory, feeling, and all of your experiences are predicated on physical parts.

    Imagine this: You're conscious right now right (I hope)? Ok, let's say you all of a sudden went blind. Are you still conscious? Yes, of course, blind people are still conscious. Ok now let's say you lost all 5 senses are you still conscious? It is difficult to imagine but the answer is yes for me (because I still have thoughts). Ok now imagine you lost your 5 senses, your sense of time and the ability to think and imagine. Are you still conscious now? I cannot imagine that to be true. I cannot imagine what having no experience feels like (cuz there is nothing to feel duh). It is physical interactions that give us the 5 senses, our thoughts, and our imagination so not having any connection to a physical reality (as consciousness in your view doesn't) would mean that last scenario I described. Your view suggests that consciousness CAN exist in that scenario but I find it really difficult to imagine experiencing no experience (it is a contradiction)
  • Tzeentch
    3.5k
    What exactly are your reasons for believing animals have a consciousness greater than that provided by the brain? To me, the animal controls its body with its brain, resulting in an unconscious form of consciousness. Man was granted a mind capable of controlling the brain, resulting in a conscious form of consciousness. I use 'mind', because I dislike the word 'soul'. I do believe animals have souls, but I do not believe they have the same form of consciousness humans do, although some humans are only marginally more conscious than animals.

    The reason I believe this is because unlike animals the human mind is capable of discipline. I define discipline as the mind resisting impulses from the brain and the body. This indicates to me that there is something higher than the brain, which I will call 'mind', but others may call it 'soul', which is master of the brain as the brain is master of the body.

    Consciousness to me is a spectrum. On one side "Unconscious consciousness", which is what most animals have, and on the other side "conscious consciousness" or "true consciousness" which is perhaps glimpsed only by those who attain a form of enlightenment.

    Your view suggests that consciousness CAN exist in that scenario but I find it really difficult to imagine experiencing no experience (it is a contradiction)khaled

    Why would the mind be incapable of a form of experience on its own? Or is your point of view that whatever the mind experiences on its own it referenced from the physical senses? Personally, I have no problem accepting that if we regard the mind as immaterial, it is capable of experiencing immaterial things. Of course, proving such things is a whole other matter.

    However, don't practitioners of meditation or seekers of enlightenment seek to experience "just being"? This is I think what you are trying to describe when you say "experiencing no experience". They seek to experience separation of mind from body.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    12.6k
    Man was granted a mind capable of controlling the brain, resulting in a conscious form of consciousness. I use 'mind', because I dislike the word 'soul'. I do believe animals have souls, but I do not believe they have the same form of consciousness humans do, although some humans are only marginally more conscious than animals.Tzeentch

    This is why we need to differentiate between mind and soul.

    Mind refers to the thing which is responsible for thinking and controlling the activities of the physical body. Thinking requires memory, which requires a physical body with temporal extension, for storage. So mind requires a physical body, as those who promote emergence are quick to point out.

    Soul, on the other hand refers to the thing which is responsible for life in the body. All living things have soul, by the fact that they are living. The soul is responsible for the direction of all physical activities within the living body. Since the living body consists of physical activities, the existence of the soul is necessarily prior to the existence of the living body. The soul, by means of directing physical activity creates the physical body.

    The mind is a property of the soul, whereby the soul uses the living body to think and control its own activities. We ought not confuse soul with mind, because soul is necessarily prior to the living body, while mind is necessarily posterior to the living body.
  • Relativist
    2.2k
    "the idea that consciousness does not depend on any particular arrangements of matter for its existence"
    Aren't you saying the mind is immaterial? If so, how does the mind cause me to scratch my nose? How does my mind know I have an itch?
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