• creativesoul
    6k
    Attention. Awareness. Consciousness.
    All too vague to be of much use.
    — creativesoul

    Harsh but true! No one of them guarantees either of the other two.
    bongo fury

    That would depend upon the notion/definition/delineation/explanation of each term. Some may by definition alone. Some definitions may take account of that which exists in it's entirety prior to common language acquisition. Others may take account of that which is existentially dependent upon common language.

    Which notion, idea, and/or conception points us towards and/or properly takes account of that which existed in it's entirety prior to our awareness, attention, and/or consciousness of it?

    Some frameworks quite simply cannot take account of that which existed prior to language and other frameworks have kept that in mind. The former are inherently and utterly inadequate for successfully performing that task. Some language use impedes. Some does not.

    Which report/account/notion/definition/explanation of "attention", "awareness", and/or "consciousness" is amenable to evolution over time? Which can set out in sensible coherent terms what attention is, what awareness is, what consciousness is while also setting out how each develops through time?

    Which one is based upon an understanding of human thought/belief regarding how it evolves/morphs over time? Which can offer a sensible, reasonable, and coherent explanation of all thought/belief?
  • Terrapin Station
    12.4k
    Put forth a duration.creativesoul

    The changes/motion that are happening, versus the changes/motion that happened already or the changes/motion that have yet to happen, from the reference frame in question.

    Remember that time is simply changes/motion. Time measurements are simply an issue of comparing one (set of) changes/motion to another. The present is the changes/motion that are happening, versus those that happened or those that have yet to happen.
  • creativesoul
    6k
    The relations or the river?
  • creativesoul
    6k
    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
    bongo fury

    This deserves more attention.
  • Terrapin Station
    12.4k
    The relations or the river?creativesoul
    You asked "Put forth a duration."

    I explained what time is: The changes/motion that are happening. A duration would a measurement of the changes that are happening from some frame of reference--for example, our phenomenal now.

    You asked "what changes"--presumably, what changes was I referring to re "the changes/motion that are happening."

    Well, time is the relations of everything that's changing/moving. That includes the river relative to other things, it includes the water and fish and rocks and particles, etc. in the river. Everything.

    Presumably, at some point you'll get to why one would "not be able to step in the same river once."
  • creativesoul
    6k


    I could be misunderstanding your position. I've always thought that you had argued along Heraclitus' lines(one cannot step into the same river twice).

    That's the notion I'm warning against. It is said that because the river is always changing(everything is always in a state of flux) that one cannot step into the same river twice. If the reason for saying that is the constant state of flux, then one cannot step into the same river once either because it is always changing. Thus, to make any sense of talking about the same thing despite the flux, there must be some amount of acceptable change(some duration of time and/or specified amount/kind of change in which we can still call it by name).

    So, with Heraclitus' river if we accept saying that we can step into the same river once, there must be some acceptable amount of change allowed in order for us to be able to say that and remain coherent with our standard regarding what counts as being the same thing over time(regardless of the constant state of flux).

    On it's face it's untenable, incoherent, and nonsensical language use that - if strictly applied - would make talking about anything and everything literally impossible because in order to talk about something we have to name it/identify it and by the time we've done that - if any and all change makes our referent(the river) no longer the same thing - then by our own insistence, we've already lost all coherent ability to call it by it's namesake, and thus we would not be able to successfully refer to anything by namesake.

    And yet we do it all the time without issue until some philosopher becomes bewitched by otherwise incoherent use of "same".
  • creativesoul
    6k
    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?
    bongo fury

    Perhaps. Semantics, by my lights, is the study/theory of meaning. It's all about meaning. This endeavor also requires thinking about thought/belief. Things were meaningful to us long before we became aware of it. So, I'm unsure what "genuine semantics" is supposed to be referring to.

    While I do have a couple of Searle's books they are as of yet unread, and I'm not familiar enough with Searle to get into any great detailed account of his work(including the Chinese Room). However, unless I'm mistaken he is a speech act theorist, or was. They work from thought/belief having propositional content, so it would seem that Searle would also hold - on pains of coherency alone - that meaning must also be somehow tied to propositions - hence... common language. Unless one wants to bear the burden of explaining how propositions and meaning are not existentially dependent upon common language use.

    Personally, while talk of syntax pervades current convention, I think it's incapable of taking proper account of obvious prima facie meaningful and attentive thought/belief of language-less creatures.

    Earlier, you mentioned what we can do that chimps and babies and robots cannot. Point to both an actual symbol and it's referent. That's thinking about thought/belief, and it most certainly requires language. Thought/belief itself does not, at least not all thought/belief.

    Being conscious/aware that one has thought/belief requires directing one's attention towards it. We do that with terms like "thought" and "belief", and any number of other terms all of which refer to our own mental ongoings - in part at least.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    6k
    Remember that time is simply changes/motion.Terrapin Station

    That's nonsense. How do you account for the difference between past and future with a definition of time like that?



    That's exactly right. There must something which remains the same, through the temporal duration, in order that our calling it "the same river" is a valid identity. Aristotle resolved this discrepancy between being/not being (Parmenides), and becoming (Heraclitus) with his duality of matter/form. Identity, under the law of identity, as "the same thing", does not require that the identified thing does not change, it requires that the thing is the same as itself, therefore not other than itself, and this does not exclude the possibility that the thing is changing.
  • khaled
    1k
    I think consciousness is one of those concepts (perhaps the one concept) which you don't have to define or which defining is redundant. If you are conscious you will know what consciousness is and if you're not you won't (because there is nothing there to know) it's as simple as that. Just think about what "awareness" and "attention" mean without thinking about consciousness. How can you be aware of something without being conscious? How can *you* pay attention to something without being conscious (aka without there being a you)? I think what you're doing is juggling synonyms.

    Other concepts like this include "line" or "number". You can't define them to someone who doesn't already know them. All you're doing when defining them is assigning an already present meaning to a word. I think there are a few of these "hunks of meaning" you start with like "line", "number", "shape", "space", "consciousness" which defining is redundant and which arisse evolutionarily. Something like "triange" for example doesn't have a redundant definition, it has to be 3 sided and its internal angles have to have a sum of 180. You don't understand what triangles are the moment you're born and you might mistake what counts as a triangle the first time even after hearing the definition but you can't mistake what counts as a number or line.

    These ideas come from "philosophy in the flesh" it's an interesting book.
  • Basko
    13
    If you are conscious you will know what consciousness is and if you're not you won'tkhaled

    Since i am conscious right now i should know what consciousness is .. but i don't and nobody really knows. Also, If one is conscious that doesn't mean he will know necessarily that he is conscious, it requires self-consciousness for one to "see" himself.

    Just think about what "awareness" and "attention" mean without thinking about consciousness. How can you be aware of something without being conscious?khaled

    Then, does consciousness = awareness ? That's the whole point of this discussion, trying to find to find when one ends - awareness - and when the other continues - consciousness. I never said awareness without consciousness, i said consciousness with extremely limited awareness - "without awareness".

    Other concepts like this include "line" or "number". You can't define them to someone who doesn't already know them. All you're doing when defining them is assigning an already present meaning to a word.khaled

    Line = A geometrical object that is straight, relative to 2D plan, infinitely long and infinitely thin.
    Number = Numbers are strings of digits used to indicate magnitude. Abstract values given to quantities.

    I see your point, since the basis of our languages is the "real world", we must see something to grasp it fully, but that doesn't mean one can't comprehend something only by definitions. A blind person cannot see but can still comprehend what colors are - EM waves. If you understand what a quantity is, then you can create abstract symbols to represent - abstractly - those quantities, there you go ! You have what we can call numbers.
  • Coben
    770
    Since i am conscious right now i should know what consciousness is .. but i don't and nobody really knows. Also, If one is conscious that doesn't mean he will know necessarily that he is conscious, it requires self-consciousness for one to "see" himself.Basko
    'Knowing what consciousness is' could mean a number of things. I think one could say that experiencing is going on. How much information this adds I don't know, but I think the word 'experiencing' is a bit more phenomenological. Consciousness reads like a thing noun, an object. But I agree with you. What is experiencing without the contents of experiencing? is it the same as other consciousnesses, just that the contents are different? Or is every consciousness, to put in metaphorically, a different tone, even if the contents are the same?
    Then, does consciousness = awareness ?Basko
    I don't think this is an issue of knowledge but rather one of definition. I think that is a good synonym. That's how I would want to define it. That or 'experiencing.' IOW I don't think one can dissect and analyze consciousness and decide that it is constituted by awareness, but rather that it's a possible definition.
  • Terrapin Station
    12.4k
    That's nonsense. How do you account for the difference between past and future with a definition of time like that?Metaphysician Undercover

    The past is changes/motion that happened but that are no longer happening per some frame of reference. The future will be changes/motion that haven't happened yet per some frame of reference. Pretty simple, really.
  • bongo fury
    103
    Hi , thanks for your response.

    It's all about meaning.creativesoul

    Me too!

    This endeavor also requires thinking about thought/belief.creativesoul

    ... Or does it? Maybe those issues will sort themselves out if we deal with meaning first?

    Things were meaningful to us long before we became aware of it.creativesoul

    I guess that nicely expresses denial of the association I proposed? (Maybe so. Not looking for a fight here. Just clarification.)

    So, I'm unsure what "genuine semantics" is supposed to be referring to.creativesoul

    One that doesn't amount, on closer inspection, to just another layer of syntax. Suppose we endow a thermostat with a sub-circuit containing a coloured light-bulb. This is genuine semantics for us, as users, but for the device itself, only more syntax.

    However, unless I'm mistaken he [Searle] is a speech act theorist, or was. They work from thought/belief having propositional content,creativesoul

    Well, my fascination is primarily with plain old "assertoric" speech acts, which may or may not coincide with production of declarative sentence tokens (utterances or inscriptions) but more generally amount to (as I see it) pointing of words (or pictures) at objects. As though we drew an arrow from one to the other. Which we generally don't, so we are talking here about a social skill which is in the practice of a mutually agreed pretence, and is of the highest order of complexity.

    Earlier, you mentioned what we can do that chimps and babies and robots cannot. Point to both an actual symbol and it's referent.creativesoul

    Thanks for looking, and forgive the correction: it's vital to see that I am talking about our ability (e.g. the infant St. Augustine's ability) to understand that someone is pointing (directing, as it were) a word at an object. It's been fashionable for well over half a century now to dismiss such an ability as too easy a matter, and anyway unrepresentative of language as a whole. So I'm aware that I need to argue its complexity and relevance. (BTW though, our having to deal with people's constant Heraclitan equivocations between instance and kind does kind of hint at the level of complexity.)

    ...taking proper account of obvious prima facie meaningful and attentive thought/belief of language-less creatures.creativesoul

    Consciousness of language-less creatures, though? I would guess not. Certainly a relatively weak consciousness in creatures showing a relatively reduced form of the kind of semantical understanding just outlined. But in our closest competitors (chimps, robots) that looks very reduced indeed.
  • Basko
    13
    Thx for your reply

    I don't think this is an issue of knowledge but rather one of definitionCoben

    Definition require some sort of knowledge don't you think ? You can't define something if you know nothing about it but you can define it approximately if your knowledge isn't sufficient enough for more complete definition.
  • Coben
    770
    Definition require some sort of knowledge don't you think ?Basko
    Yes, but it's not the same kind of knowledge. It's an agreement with others on how we will use a word. Like if we are discussing 'what is consciousness`?' and we decide to use it for experiencing, this is a knowledge of at least that facett of 'things' that there is experiencing, and our justificaiton might include knowledge about why this is a good choice. But to answer the question of what consciousness is ty something like 'a side effect of having a soul' or 'a byproduct of a complex neural net' is a whole other kind of knowledge. The first is about how best to separate out terms, the latter is actual knowledge of the make up of something. The first is phenomenogical, the second is scientific or ontological. I would almost call the former the sign of a skill, more than the sign of knowledge. Now that's also a bit artificial, but it involves,I think vastly less claims to knowledge. I am assuming that you too have noticed that you experience things, and I 'point' at that and say 'let's agree to call that consciousness'. The second goes beyond agreement, a formality and beyond phenomenology. With the latter we are saying what things are really like and made of.
  • creativesoul
    6k
    Things were meaningful to us long before we became aware of it.
    — creativesoul

    I guess that nicely expresses denial of the association I proposed?
    bongo fury

    It follows from some basic common sense assertions. Meaning is not equivalent to semantics. Semantics involves thinking about (pre-existing)meaning. That includes all cases of thinking about pre-existing language use(all language use is meaningful in some way or other). Prior to thinking about X, X must first somehow exist. Some meaning is prior to semantics, as is some language use.

    So...

    Yes. I'm denying the characterization of consciousness as 'genuine semantics'.
  • creativesoul
    6k
    Well, my fascination is primarily with plain old "assertoric" speech acts, which may or may not coincide with production of declarative sentence tokens (utterances or inscriptions) but more generally amount to (as I see it) pointing of words (or pictures) at objects. As though we drew an arrow from one to the other. Which we generally don't, so we are talking here about a social skill which is in the practice of a mutually agreed pretence, and is of the highest order of complexity.bongo fury

    Consciousness is not existentially dependent upon such high order social skills.
  • creativesoul
    6k
    So, I'm unsure what "genuine semantics" is supposed to be referring to.
    — creativesoul

    One that doesn't amount, on closer inspection, to just another layer of syntax. Suppose we endow a thermostat with a sub-circuit containing a coloured light-bulb. This is genuine semantics for us, as users, but for the device itself, only more syntax.
    bongo fury

    Perhaps it be best put like this...

    I would readily agree that consciousness is itself existentially dependent meaning, as compared/contrasted to semantics. Pre and/or non-liguistic meaningful thought/belief is not existentially dependent upon language, whereas both syntax and semantics are. To split our focus upon meaning into an inadequate dichotomy is a mistake. Neither syntax nor semantics are prior to language. Some meaning is. Some thought/belief is. Those prelinguistic thought/belief cannot be properly accounted for.

    Consciousness. Consists - in large part at least - of thought/belief about the world and/or oneself. Seems pretty important to get thought/belief right, lest the mistakes will be transmitted
    into our notions of consciousness. We'll get it wrong as well. The inevitable result is not knowing what one is looking for.

    That's been going on for too long.

    What exactly is the criterion for consciousness to emerge onto the world stage? What is it existentially dependent upon? What does it consist of?

    I put it to you that thought, belief, and meaning are part and parcel of all conscious experience. By no means am I saying that those are sufficient for all instances/cases of consciousness(conscious experience). They are necessary(required) none-the-less. Consciousness grows in it's complexity level. It must, lest it is an incommensurate notion with evolution. Highly complex thought/belief(consciousness) such as our ability to take account of prior language use is to be aware and/or attentive of how language is used.

    Is language part and parcel of all cases of consciousness? I don't think so. I'm also quite certain that some language less creatures are aware of things around them to such an extant that their attention can be fully captured by those things. They are more than capable of drawing mental correlations between different things. They can develop expectation(of what's about to happen) as a direct result of witnessing consist and/or repetitive events happening in relatively quick succession and in the same general order. They are aware and/or attentive to what's going on around them. This is demonstrable, falsifiable, and verifiable.

    If this doesn't count as consciousness at a rudimentary basic level, then the notion of consciousness isn't much use. Ours is much more complex. A chimps is as well. A robot has none and cannot ever although it can be programmed to fool nearly everyone into thinking/believing otherwise. Robots are utterly incapable of drawing mental correlations between different things. That is at the root of all consciousness, humans' notwithstanding.
  • creativesoul
    6k
    Sorry to put it all out there. I'm short on time. Priority is real life. Time is money right now.

    :smile:

    Reply however you see fit. I am willing to hear an argument for consciousness being existentially dependent upon language use, and would agree as long as that claim/argument was properly quantified. Some consciousness is... Not all.
  • Coben
    770
    As long as we are defining consciosness as 'experiencing' or 'awareness' it seems obvious to me that there is no dependency on language. Babies are clearly enraptured by their mothers, animals by all sorts of perception, including social and non-social interactions. And if not 'up in our heads' all the time, can easily notice stretches of languageless awareness even in ourselves. One could argue that the last is still, in some way, dependent on our having language, but given that our language use arises in the lives of what seem to be obviously experiencing and aware creatures - our very young selves, I think the issue is actually not even controversial.
  • creativesoul
    6k


    You would think it uncontroversial, unfortunately it's not. If the current running documentaries on animal thought/belief/reasoning skills are any indication, academia has gotten lost somewhere along the line(the unwarranted leaps and bounds into anthropomorphism astound me). The syntax/semantics focus is undoubtedly one culprit. Semiotics is not the only approach to meaning. Academia has yet to have gotten thought/belief right, so...

    Complexity in language use does not equal better language use. What we're taking account of cannot be so complex. If a theory of meaning has it right, it will become obvious to those capable of following along.

    Seems that you and I are largely in agreement in the end(humans are not the only creature's capable of thought/belief). Consciousness evolves in it's complexity. Common language use is existentially dependent upon shared meaning. Shared meaning, some sort of rudimentary consciousness.
  • bongo fury
    103
    Hi again.

    Yes. I'm denying the characterization of consciousness as 'genuine semantics'.creativesoul

    Cool. We know where we stand.

    Meaning is not equivalent to semantics.creativesoul

    You've heard of the "theory of mind theory of mind"? I give you, here, a "theory of meaning theory of meaning".

    Semantics involves thinking about (pre-existing)meaning. Prior to thinking about X, X must first somehow exist.creativesoul

    Prior to the chicken, the egg?

    Consciousness is not existentially dependent upon such high order social skills.creativesoul

    It's a hypothesis, though.

    Pre and/or non-linguistic meaningful thought/belief is not existentially dependent upon language, whereas both syntax and semantics are.creativesoul

    But pre and/or non-verbal-linguistic meaningful thought/belief is of a piece with pre and/or non-verbal-linguistic language, i.e. symbolic functioning in general, with its syntactic and semantic aspects.

    I put it to you that thought, belief, and meaning are part and parcel of all conscious experience.creativesoul

    Sure.

    Is language part and parcel of all cases of consciousness? I don't think so.creativesoul

    Ok. I say that language in the very broad sense of symbolic functioning is part and parcel of all awareness, attention and now also (entering stage left) experiencing, thought, belief and reasoning. To distinguish the specifically conscious awareness, conscious attention, conscious experiencing, conscious thought, conscious belief and conscious reasoning, I hypothesise the need for genuinely semantical understanding, as outlined previously.

    I am willing to hear an argument for consciousness being existentially dependent upon language use, and would agree as long as that claim/argument was properly quantified. Some consciousness is... Not all.creativesoul

    Some dependent on verbal language, all dependent on a genuinely semantical competence in some kind of language in the obvious wider sense (of symbolic functioning).
  • khaled
    1k
    A blind person cannot see but can still comprehend what colors are - EM wavesBasko

    But he cannot know what the subjective experience of perceiving color is. In the same way that a rock cannot know what the subjective experience of being conscious is like (it can't know at all)

    If you understand what a quantity is, then you can create abstract symbols to represent - abstractly - those quantities, there you go ! You have what we can call numbers.Basko

    Ok, maybe numbers and lines were derived. How would you explain what "Quantity" or "Shape" is to someone? I don't think you can. I think there are concepts that us humans just "start off" with like shapes, quantities, space, time that cannot be represented by anything more basic. Just think about it. If you define A using concepts B, C and D and proceed to define those using their own different concepts etc etc you'd never be done defining things. Nothing would make sense, because everything just has an infinitely long definition. There has to be a set of concepts you just "know" that you use to define others. I think consciousness is one of those along with "space", "quantity", "shape" etc
  • creativesoul
    6k
    Semantics involves thinking about (pre-existing)meaning. Prior to thinking about X, X must first somehow exist.
    — creativesoul

    Prior to the chicken, the egg?
    bongo fury

    :brow:

    You'll have to do better than this.
  • bongo fury
    103
    Semantics involves thinking about (pre-existing)meaning. Prior to thinking about X, X must first somehow exist.
    — creativesoul

    Prior to the chicken, the egg?
    — bongo fury

    :brow:

    You'll have to do better than this.
    creativesoul

    :sigh:

    You don't see the chicken and egg, here?

    Clue:

    Meaning is not equivalent to semantics.
    — creativesoul

    You've heard of the "theory of mind theory of mind"? I give you, here, a "theory of meaning theory of meaning".
    bongo fury
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