• Basko
    13
    Definitions :

    Consciousness : Quality or state of being aware especially of something within oneself - merriam-webster.com

    Awareness : Having or showing realization, perception, or knowledge - merriam-webster.com

    Attention : Act or state of applying the mind to something - merriam-webster.com

    The consciousness is a concept with no define definition, many philosophers have their different views/opinions about consciousness and since the consciousness isn't well known - or proven -, theories will always be and therefore definition can vary.
    - https://informationisbeautiful.net/visualizations/what-is-consciousness/

    For this post i will stick with the definition of consciousness written above .. as a quality state - Qualia/awareness - of something, conscious of something.

    My question can sound silly, awareness is in the definition of consciousness - at least the definition above. When someone sleep, we say he/she is not conscious, when he/she is awake we say "he/she is conscious", awareness and consciousness goes always together as one and same thing.
    After thinking a long time on this question and on consciousness in general, i have to say that this equality - consciousness = awareness - doesn't sound that much evident, I have a doubt.

    Let me present this simply ..

    I can be conscious of something, having some qualitative experience and at the same time not being aware of my conscious experience, therefore i don't realize, know or show persception of my conscious activities ..
    I am not aware but i experience - this being said, the "I" lose it's meaning.
    It's like experiencing something without realization of experiencing and without realization of oneself identity.

    Now imagine someone with a severe case of ADHD - i am not that familiar with ADHD, i use it bcs it's a well known focus disorder -, as his parents begun to realize the case of their son, they
    sent him to a very special school for him to learn about human knowledge despite his difficulties. The kid has grown up and now he is 20yo, he learned in school his situation and so many stuff
    that you can easily say he is fully aware of his identity and his experience. He is a smart guy and can think deeply but only if the subject is exciting enough so he can pay full attention on the subject. Despite his great knowledge - which offer him a great awareness - he struggle with attention and most of the time he can't control his focus.

    My questions are simple :

    - Does consciousness = Awareness ?
    - Does consciousness = Attention ?
    - Does consciousness = Both ? or Something else ?

    I am fully aware that right now nobody know for certain what is consciousness so i don't expect a clear answers - or a proof -, i am just curious about your opinions on the subject :)
  • Enki B
    4
    Does consciousness = Awareness ?Basko

    Consciousness is a direct result of ones awareness of ones self, while awareness could not truly exist without ones consciousness. I still wouldn't say that consciousness = awareness, it seems like there just simply dependent on one another. Consciousness seems to be ones awareness of existence, while awareness seems to be more about learning or knowing what surrounds ones consciousness.

    When someone sleep, we say he/she is not consciousBasko

    People saying that a sleeping person is not conscious seems to be more of a societal norm than anything. We don't truly understand what sleep is yet or why we do it, but it isn't a state that lacks consciousness. Being asleep is another form of consciousness, just like dreaming is another form of awareness.
  • Basko
    13
    Consciousness is a direct result of ones awareness of ones self, while awareness could not truly exist without ones consciousness.Enki B

    If consciousness is a direct result of awareness, so awareness precede consciousness, how can awareness not exist without ones consciousness ? You said consciousness is needed for awareness, but at the same time, awareness precede consciousness, i do not understand how..

    Consciousness seems to be ones awareness of existenceEnki B

    So Consciousness is one type/form of awareness ? If so, how it is that the "awareness seems to be more about learning or knowing what surrounds ones consciousness." if the consciousness is just one form/type of awareness ?

    Being asleep is another form of consciousnessEnki B

    When i talk about sleeping i meant a Non-REM sleep. During that period i can't tell if i am aware, i can't tell if i am conscious too bcs the only way i can tell i am conscious right now is by being aware of the world, by experiencing it,by knowledge/memory - concept of consciousness, definition of awareness .. - and by the A priori knowledge of identity - I am experiencing the world -, otherwise i can't affirm i am conscious.

    Thx for your reply :)
  • Possibility
    597
    This is where the main confusion with consciousness lies: because we say that a sleeping person is unconscious yet doesn’t lack consciousness, we’re defining consciousness in two different ways.

    It’s common to restrict the definition of consciousness only to those who are self-conscious, but if this is really what consciousness is, then I wonder: why have the distinct term ‘self-consciousness’ In the first place?

    The body’s systems are aware of and interact with each other to a certain extent below the level of waking consciousness, and continue much of this interaction regardless of whether we are awake, asleep, heavily drugged or knocked unconscious. But I (the self) am only aware of these interactions when I am awake-conscious AND also paying attention to them specifically. This is self-consciousness as an advanced level awareness, employing self-consciousness as a capacity.

    Certain animals have a capacity for self-consciousness, which they employ only in certain situations, and typically at a low level of awareness. This capacity can be developed further in animals by associating or containing the value of self-aware attention within what this animal already values.

    I can be conscious of something, having some qualitative experience and at the same time not being aware of my conscious experience, therefore i don't realize, know or show persception of my conscious activities ..
    I am not aware but i experience - this being said, the "I" lose it's meaning.
    It's like experiencing something without realization of experiencing and without realization of oneself identity.
    Basko

    I’m not sure what you’re trying to describe here. I imagine it’s like being affected by an experience, without being aware of what it was within the experience that affected you...?

    Now imagine someone with a severe case of ADHD - i am not that familiar with ADHD, i use it bcs it's a well known focus disorder -, as his parents begun to realize the case of their son, they sent him to a very special school for him to learn about human knowledge despite his difficulties. The kid has grown up and now he is 20yo, he learned in school his situation and so many stuff that you can easily say he is fully aware of his identity and his experience. He is a smart guy and can think deeply but only if the subject is exciting enough so he can pay full attention on the subject. Despite his great knowledge - which offer him a great awareness - he struggle with attention and most of the time he can't control his focus.Basko

    We pay attention to things and events that matter to us. When everything matters equally - when dopamine levels are unreliable as an indicator of value - it can be difficult to determine where our attention should be. I’ve heard that white noise stimulates dopamine production, enabling ADHD sufferers to focus for long periods.

    In my view, awareness operates on a number of different dimensional levels. We can be aware of an unusual event that captures our attention on the side of the road as we drive. When we focus our attention back to the road ahead, we retain awareness of that event, and can recall that awareness as our attention shifts from driving to our knowledge of the event or any relevant realisation, perception or previously held knowledge, and back again. We can shift our attention to awareness of the car’s speed, the pressure of our foot on the accelerator, the direction and proximity of tyres screeching, the changing distance to the car ahead, etc. But our body can be aware of and interact with elements of our experience such as foot pressure, relative speed and the need to slow down, even when our attention is on knowledge of this past event or others - in the same way that we breath in and out and digest our food. Consciousness, in my opinion, consists of all these levels of awareness as well as our capacity to shift our attention between them.

    Self-consciousness refers only to our awareness of internal events - it doesn’t include awareness of the event on the side of the road, but it does include awareness of how information from that event interacts with internal events, whether or not we are paying attention to them at the time.
  • Marchesk
    2.8k
    Does consciousness = Awareness ?
    - Does consciousness = Attention ?
    Basko

    No, because both of those can be defined functionally and performed by a machine. It leaves out the subjective experiences.

    - Does consciousness = Both ? or Something else ?Basko

    Subjectivity, qualia, what it's like, color, pain, imagination, etc.
  • Harry Hindu
    2.3k
    Consciousness : Quality or state of being aware especially of something within oneselfBasko
    I'm not so sure about this definition. What entails "oneself"? What is something that one can be aware of within oneself? What is the difference of being aware of something within oneself and being aware of something outside of oneself? In other words, what is the boundary of oneself?

    I can be conscious of something, having some qualitative experience and at the same time not being aware of my conscious experience, therefore i don't realize, know or show persception of my conscious activities ..
    I am not aware but i experience - this being said, the "I" lose it's meaning.
    It's like experiencing something without realization of experiencing and without realization of oneself identity.
    Basko
    If "I" loses its meaning then what does the experiencing? I think what you are talking about is the difference between being self-aware, or self-conscious, and being aware of everything else. You turn your awareness back on itself and in doing so, you become self-aware.

    No, because both of those can be defined functionally and performed by a machine. It leaves out the subjective experiences.Marchesk
    The brain is a machine. If you can't explain the relationship between your brain and your subjective experiences, then how can you declare so confidently that machines don't have subjective experiences? What is a subjective experience - a soul? It seems a bit religious to keep declaring things like this - as if human's and their brains are special machines that have this extra quality about them that other machines don't have.

    Subjectivity, qualia, what it's like, color, pain, imagination, etc.Marchesk
    How does all of this not entail attention and awareness? How can one be aware and attending particular things without subjectivity?
  • Terrapin Station
    13.3k
    Does consciousness = Awareness/Attention?

    Awareness, yes. Attention, no, since "attention" connotes directed awareness.

    Re this:

    I can be conscious of something, having some qualitative experience and at the same time not being aware of my conscious experience, therefore i don't realize, know or show persception of my conscious activities ..Basko

    You'd have to try to give an example of how you think that's possible.
  • Harry Hindu
    2.3k
    Then attention is a type of awareness?

    If awareness and consciousness are the same then doesn't that make attention a type of consciousness?

    Can we be aware of anything without attending to it? It seems to me that attention is more like a necessary feature of awareness/consciousness.

    What would be the purpose of being aware of something, but not attending it?
  • bongo fury
    130
    My questions are simple :

    - Does consciousness = Awareness ?
    - Does consciousness = Attention ?
    - Does consciousness = Both ? or Something else ?
    Basko

    ... and helpful, I think. How about the following refinement?

    - Does consciousness = conscious awareness ?
    - Does consciousness = conscious attention ?
    - Does consciousness = Both ? or Something else ?

    To which we could add,

    - Does unconscious processing = unconscious awareness ? (e.g. in a thermostat)
    - Does unconscious processing = unconscious attention ? (e.g. in a CCTV camera)
    - Does unconscious processing = Both ? or Something else ?

    Answering (any or all of these) is taking a punt on picking the best way to discover and explain the difference between conscious and unconscious processing.
  • Terrapin Station
    13.3k
    Then attention is a type of awareness?Harry Hindu

    Yes, there's often a connotation to it that it's directed awareness, rather than not being directed.

    You can be aware that the radio is on, for example, but not really be paying attention to it. You're awareness isn't directed, it's not focused on the radio. But you're aware that it's on.

    Or, if someone is talking and you say, "Wait--could you repeat that? I wasn't really listening." You are/were aware that they were talking (otherwise you couldn't ask them to repeat what they said), but your attention wasn't on their talking, it wasn't on what they were saying. Your attention was elsewhere (like maybe on a bee flying near you, especially if you have a bee phobia).
  • Pantagruel
    186
    Ultimately, this is really just a question of how you choose to define it.

    Cognitive science can demonstrate experimentally that even phenomena like conscious choice can precede our awareness by several seconds. Also, novel phenomena can occur that are within perceptual thresholds, but not actually be perceived unless/until they become associated with already known phenomena.

    I favour a very liberal definition of consciousness.
  • Mww
    1k
    Deleted, cuz phat phingers made a mistake and fixing it wasn’t working......
  • Marchesk
    2.8k
    problem is I don’t think the brain is a machine, and I think awareness and discrimination can be performed by a simple enough device that we don’t have reason to consider conscious.
  • Harry Hindu
    2.3k
    if the brain is not a type of machine than what is it? What does it do? What is it for? You seem to think that only carbon-based life possesses consciousness. What if silicon-based life evolved by natural selection on another planet? Would you consider that silicon-based life as conscious? What would be the difference between the silicon-based life and a robot with a computer brain and cameras, microphones and tactile pressure points for senses?
  • Marchesk
    2.8k
    if the brain is not a type of machine than what is it? What does it do? What is it for?Harry Hindu

    An organ, part of a an animal. It's for survival and reproduction. Also, wasting time on forums.

    What if silicon-based life evolved by natural selection on another planet?Harry Hindu

    They would be life forms.

    Would you consider that silicon-based life as conscious?Harry Hindu

    Depends on their behavior. But I admit we don't have a good way to know with any confidence.

    What would be the difference between the silicon-based life and a robot with a computer brain and cameras, microphones and tactile pressure points for senses?Harry Hindu

    That is one of the challenging questions. You're assuming the right functions result in consciousness. But I don't know what a functional definition of subjectivity looks like, so I can't say whether a machine or a silicon-based life form would be, or even which earth life forms are besides humans. I assume animals similar enough to us would be.
  • Basko
    13
    Thx for all your replies !

    It’s common to restrict the definition of consciousness only to those who are self-conscious, but if this is really what consciousness is, then I wonder: why have the distinct term ‘self-consciousness’ In the first place?Possibility

    The only way i know i am conscious is by being self-conscious, i can "see" myself therefore i know i am here, existing.
    That being said and as you said it, it's common to restrict the definition of consciousness to self-consciousness. I remember when i was very young having qualitative experiences without being self-conscious of having that experiences. When something grab our attention so well - like a game, book, movie, sport .. - that we temporally lose our self-consciousness, does that mean we were not conscious all that time ? Ofcs not! Consciousness precede self-consciousnesses but by being self-conscious is the only way i know that i am conscious.

    I’m not sure what you’re trying to describe here. I imagine it’s like being affected by an experience, without being aware of what it was within the experience that affected you...?Possibility

    If "I" loses its meaning then what does the experiencing? I think what you are talking about is the difference between being self-aware, or self-conscious, and being aware of everything else. You turn your awareness back on itself and in doing so, you become self-aware.Harry Hindu

    You'd have to try to give an example of how you think that's possible.Terrapin Station

    I was trying to differentiate conscious activities - experience/qualia - and awareness of that activities. Awareness was defined above as "Having or showing realization, perception, or knowledge" so i was thinking that someone could have qualitative experiences and at the same time not realizing what is happening ,not knowing what is all about and not having perception .. not being aware.
    * Perception = organization, identification, and interpretation of sensory information in order to represent and understand the presented information, or the environment. - Wiki.

    Imagine we understand what consciousness really is and how it works, then we proceed to create a artificial life form with our understanding. As we build we realize we don't have enough money to build it like we wanted so we chose to decrease dramatically the cognitive abilities, the memory storage and the capacity of our AI to form a new structures.
    Once we finished, we decide to study it, by various tests, to see how our AI work. As we test our AI we remark that it can't realize what is happening due to very low cognitive abilities, it cannot form enough knowledge too bcs of very low memory storage, and bcs of low capacity of forming new structures it perceive - organization of sensory inputs - very little about the world. Our AI experience - the rough sensory inputs - without realization of experiencing and without realization of oneself identity, our AI is not aware - at least by the definition above.
    Ofcs is an imagined scenario, maybe what we call consciousness need some good level of cognitive abilities, memory, perception and maybe more ..

    If "I" loses its meaning then what does the experiencing?Harry Hindu

    Well if there is experience - Qualia - there must be a subject who is experiencing but that doesn't mean the subject know itself, know it experience. The "I" lose it's meaning for the subject.


    - Does unconscious processing = unconscious awareness ? (e.g. in a thermostat)
    - Does unconscious processing = unconscious attention ? (e.g. in a CCTV camera)
    bongo fury

    What your definition of Awareness and Attention ? And of unconscious processing too

    Ultimately, this is really just a question of how you choose to define it.Pantagruel

    Definitely ! This the main problem of dealing with this type of questions, the definition of terms play a major role in thinking process. That's why i started my post by defining the 3 most important terms. I am fully aware the definitions i proposed are approximations of the "truth" but one must start somewhere (:

    I favour a very liberal definition of consciousness.Pantagruel

    What is your definition ?
  • Terrapin Station
    13.3k
    I was trying to differentiate conscious activities - experience/qualia - and awareness of that activities. Awareness was defined above as "Having or showing realization, perception, or knowledge" so i was thinking that someone could have qualitative experiences and at the same time not realizing what is happening ,not knowing what is all about and not having perception .. not being aware.
    * Perception = organization, identification, and interpretation of sensory information in order to represent and understand the presented information, or the environment. - Wiki.

    Imagine we understand what consciousness really is and how it works, then we proceed to create a artificial life form with our understanding. As we build we realize we don't have enough money to build it like we wanted so we chose to decrease dramatically the cognitive abilities, the memory storage and the capacity of our AI to form a new structures.
    Once we finished, we decide to study it, by various tests, to see how our AI work. As we test our AI we remark that it can't realize what is happening due to very low cognitive abilities, it cannot form enough knowledge too bcs of very low memory storage, and bcs of low capacity of forming new structures it perceive - organization of sensory inputs - very little about the world. Our AI experience - the rough sensory inputs - without realization of experiencing and without realization of oneself identity, our AI is not aware - at least by the definition above.
    Ofcs is an imagined scenario, maybe what we call consciousness need some good level of cognitive abilities, memory, perception and maybe more ..
    Basko

    So it's not something that you think actually happens with creatures that are conscious?

    How would AI have a qualitative experience of something if it's not conscious?
  • Basko
    13
    Well if a newborn baby have consciousness, maybe is something that actually happens since the cognitive abilities, perception and knowledge of a baby is very low.

    How would AI have a qualitative experience of something if it's not conscious?Terrapin Station

    I am not talking about consciousness but about awareness, trying to find when one ends and when the other continue. AI have qualitative experience but it's not aware.
  • halo
    45
    It’s a question of which part of the brain you’re using.
    A deer, for example, is aware of its surroundings, but not conscious of its awareness.
    If we turned off our critical part of the brain, the neo cortex, such as when we are in fight / flight mode, doing simple tasks such as cleaning, in ‘the zone’ , we are perfectly aware, but not conscious of that awareness.
  • Terrapin Station
    13.3k
    AI have qualitative experience but it's not aware.Basko

    How would it have qualitative experiences if it's not aware?
  • bongo fury
    130
    - Does unconscious processing = unconscious awareness ? (e.g. in a thermostat)
    - Does unconscious processing = unconscious attention ? (e.g. in a CCTV camera)
    — bongo fury

    What your definition of Awareness and Attention ? And of unconscious processing too
    Basko

    What my examples suggest is that, by any definitions plausibly grounded in common usage, Awareness and Attention fail, by themselves, to distinguish conscious from unconscious processing, because they pervade both.

    But that shouldn't discourage the defining and the modelling. We (or they) will get there in the end!

    My hobby horse is, we need to improve our descriptions of consciousness by questioning the folk-psychology of inner words and pictures. AI (still a few years at least from creating consciousness) appears to have moved on from the time when it assumed a basis in image files and other internal symbols, located in and retrievable from memory stores. And so ought psychology. And philosophy.

    But I agree that defining and recognising consciousness - what kinds of processing are to qualify - is key. My hunch (if you asked me? perhaps not!) is that the difference coincides very roughly with the gap between us and chimps... or human new-borns... or (so far, as yet) robots. What we can do that they largely can't. Which is play the social game of pointing actual symbols (words and pictures) at things in the world.
  • Basko
    13
    How would it have qualitative experiences if it's not aware?Terrapin Station

    Imagine you watch a great movie, you are so in it that you lose your sens of self, you lose your awareness of yourself. Same principle, imagine an AI having some qualitative experiences but doesn't have any mental capacity to be aware of it .. can't have realization, perception, or knowledge.
  • Terrapin Station
    13.3k
    Imagine you watch a great movie, you are so in it that you lose your sens of self, you lose your awareness of yourself. Same principle, imagine an AI having some qualitative experiences but doesn't have any mental capacity to be aware of it .. can't have realization, perception, or knowledge.Basko

    Why would you think that awareness has to be of self/has to include a sense of self?
  • Pantagruel
    186
    If consciousness is awareness, not insofar as it or its effects are observable, but as a subjective state, maybe what I experience as consciousness and what you experience as consciousness are not the same? Different people have different subjective experiences of the same objective thing, different beliefs, different values, different abilities. Why not different types of conscious awareness?
  • Terrapin Station
    13.3k
    maybe what I experience as consciousness and what you experience as consciousness are not the same?Pantagruel

    As a nominalist, a relativist, and what I call a "perspectivalist," it's impossible for them to be the same.
  • Pantagruel
    186
    As a nominalist, a relativist, and what I call a "perspectivalist," it's impossible for them to be the same.Terrapin Station

    But do you think they are different in the way two things of the same type are different, i.e. two oranges, or are they different in the way things of different kinds are different, i.e. an apple and an orange?
  • Terrapin Station
    13.3k
    But do you think they are different in the way two things of the same type are different, i.e. two oranges, or are they different in the way things of different kinds are different, i.e. an apple and an orange?Pantagruel

    Probably more like two oranges, although that can be quite different.
  • creativesoul
    6.2k
    Attention. Awareness. Consciousness.

    All too vague to be of much use.

    Funny thing is, that none of the above require our attention, awareness, and/or consciousness thereof. All three exist in their entirety prior to language.

    Funny because it certainly seems that no one has gotten that right in some solid irrefutable explanatorily adequate way.
  • creativesoul
    6.2k


    Don't fall for that crap. If one cannot step into the same river twice then s/he cannot step into it even once.

    That strict criterion for what counts as being the "same" is untenable nonsense.
  • bongo fury
    130
    Talking of language...

    Some people (i.e. Searle) associate consciousness, in particular, with a linguistic capability having an irreducibly semantic component. Or at least, they associate lack of (or failure to demonstrate) consciousness with a reduction of semantics to syntax. (As in the Chinese Room.)

    This particular association (i.e. consciousness <---> genuine semantics) seems a useful one, to me. What about you?
  • Terrapin Station
    13.3k
    Don't fall for that crap. If one cannot step into the same river twice then s/he cannot step into it even once.creativesoul

    How would that follow, exactly?
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.