• Wheatley
    650
    From here on I'm going to assume that consciousness plays a role human behavior. I think it's pretty obvious that consciousness plays a role in human behavior. Just try to have a normal conversation with someone while they are knocked out. You can't.

    Behaviorist psychologists talk about stimulus and response, but by doing so they neglect the mind. They might do better to talk about stimulus, mind, and response. There's something in between the stimulus and response, and that is the mind.

    Here's where consciousness fits in to all of this. Consciousness is surely a state of mind, so it fits into the stimulus, mind, and response, sequence. The question: "Is consciousness located in the brain?", is dependent on whether the mind is located in the brain (because consciousness is a state of mind). I think it is, mind and brain are intimately connected, and where else would it be located?

    Thoughts?
  • khaled
    1.3k
    I don't think you "locate" mind. Can you point to it? Extract it? Throw it around? No, then you can't "locate" it can you.
  • Wheatley
    650
    I don't think you "locate" mind. Can you point to it? Extract it? Throw it around? No, then you can't "locate" it can you.khaled
    If the mind really is inside your brain then I don't think you would able to do any of those, at least not with current technology.

    I don't believe your reasoning is correct here. Can you point, extract, throw around, all brain activity? No. Does that mean that some brain activity doesn't have a location in the brain? No.
  • Bitter Crank
    8.6k
    Yes, consciousness is in the brain as a whole. It seems to be an emergent property of the brain's activity--that is, it isn't located in a particular gyrus or sulcus. Some people are bothered by consciousness not having a location in the atlas of the brain. It doesn't bother me. I'm just glad it's there.
  • khaled
    1.3k
    I'm trying to say that mind isn't a physical object. What you're asking for is akin to asking "Is heat located in a hot iron". I just think it's a category error to try and "locate" a property. Where is the color purple on thephilosophyforum's heading?
  • I like sushi
    1.9k
    I think there is a common misconception about the ‘extent’ of consciousness. Meaning, people have a tendency to think of consciousness neatly packaged away in some specific area of the brain - this is never the case for anything as there are ‘networks’ of items intertwined in many ways on many ‘layers’ (both literally and metaphorically).

    The most useful person to turn to in this situation - as far as I’ve found - is Damasio. The whole body gives us consciousness even if we’re not attentive to it. In terms of behaviorism we ‘feel’ scared; meaning our conscious experience of an ‘emotion’ is ‘feeling’ (muscular tension, sweating, and increased heart rate). The interconnectedness of the brain organ (which is itself essentially a group of separated ‘areas’ we’ve partially created due to physical divisions and archaic maps that were based on a handful of research papers - hippocampus, Wernicke’s area, etc.,.) with various parts on the body and via numerous lines of communication (biochemical and/or via nerve cells) quickly makes the idea of nailing down a specific area of ‘consciousness’ as a little silly. If you think about having your arm chopped off you may still experience pain in the arm that isn’t there, butI can guarantee you won’t experience pain in the arm that isn’t growing out of your back because it never existed - then again ... I imagine some state of psychosis may induce such an experience, but you get the idea ;)

    There is a very limited scope of terms in this area. Over the centuries we’ve used ‘spirit’, ‘self’, ‘ego’, ‘soul’, ‘mind’, ‘ken’, ‘consciousness’, ‘agent’, ‘memory’, ‘subject’, ‘monad’ and several dozen more in hundreds of languages. It’s a minefield for misconception, misunderstandings and misrepresentation.

    Personally I just like to say I ‘experience’ and leave it at that. What is ‘experience’? Well, hopefully I don’t need to explain to you the gist of what ‘experience’ is as you’ll be ‘having it’ now. After that the only question I really have is why you’re asking anything more and to what end? Are you pushing a personal agenda or simply flying in the face of an existential type line of questioning?

    The question behind the questioning is usually more telling. Questions without their dead parents are kind of in free fall more often than not - I’d say especially so in this case as the terms lack universal application in day-to-day speech. We can at least all agree, well enough, that ‘experience’ isn’t a term we’re going to deny where terms like ‘mind’ or ‘spirit’ create an instant shudder down many people’s spines.
  • christian2017
    777


    Sometimes i think we all share the same collective conscious. Your consciousness is a subset and so is mine. We are held responsible to some extent for how we carry ourselves out in terms of how we view the world. Perhaps the universe in its entirety is the whole set of all consciousness. I understand this is a common concept in eastern philosophy.

    Ofcourse this is all speculation.
  • ovdtogt
    667
    "Is consciousness located in the brain?",Wheatley

    All living things show a degree of 'consciousness'. Every cell in your body has 'consciousness'. You are the accumulation of all the cells in your body. Thought is a byproduct of your brain. You identify yourself with your thoughts. You believe you are your thoughts.
  • Enrique
    150


    According to Demasio, some of the ancients believed the mind was located in the chest, as the heart. The concept of mind can change. Future research will probably theorize the mind as more than a product of traditional solution chemistry happening on a microscopic scale in neurons.



    That's probably accurate, science and philosophy identify our minds as our thinking, and we perceive our thoughts to be occurring in our brains, so we look for mind in the understanding of a particular brain region, but this Early Modern concept is being revolutionized.
  • ovdtogt
    667
    Exactly. Consciousness is a 'whole body' experience. And our perceptions are 'hallucinations'.
  • Pantagruel
    598
    Since I haven't seen it mentioned yet, there is a well-studied cognitive phenomenon called either "embedded cognition" or "embodied cognition" which quantifies the extent to which cognitive processing is actually a function of environmental cues. ie. consciousness exists 'in situ'. I first encountered it in a book called "The Embodied Mind". I think the principle has merit, and, to the extent it is true, has interesting implications for such things as "collective consciousness", which is one of my pet concepts.
  • Coben
    1.3k
    According to Demasio, some of the ancients believed the mind was located in the chest, as the heart.Enrique
    And there is a complicated nexus of nerves near the heart. Also one near the gut. The idea that we have gut reactions (with a cognitive content) and heart values and cognitive processes are likely to be true, not just metaphors.
  • bert1
    344
    I don't think it is right to say phenomenal consciousness is located in the brain, but I think identity very likely is. It seems to me that when people say 'consciousness' they are sometimes confusing it with identity.
  • I like sushi
    1.9k
    Show me a human whose brain has been removed that is conscious. I can refer to cases where humans are conscious whilst lacking numerous organs (except the brain). Evidence matters.
  • bert1
    344
    A human whose brain has been removed has lost its identity, and therefore cannot be a subject, it seems to me. I think identity is what comes and goes, the units change.

    What evidence are you referring to? Things like someone getting knocked out, psychoactive drugs changing experience by acting on the brain, that kind of thing?
  • Pantagruel
    598
    Show me a human whose brain has been removed that is conscious. I can refer to cases where humans are conscious whilst lacking numerous organs (except the brain). Evidence matters.I like sushi

    A human who has had his heart removed is not demonstrably conscious either. The brain may be integral to the operation of the organism, the organism may still be, in the broadest sense, conscious, in the sense that consciousness is actively engaged in an ongoing information exchange with the environment in many different ways.
  • ovdtogt
    667
    Show me a human whose brain has been removed that is conscious. I can refer to cases where humans are conscious whilst lacking numerous organs (except the brain). Evidence matters.I like sushi

    The brain may not be conscious. But if the body stays alive, the body can be considered conscious. I think we confuse consciousness with self-consciousness, which is awareness of oneself. This is the highest form of consciousness that we know of but all awareness is consciousness. All life contains consciousness, otherwise it could not survive.
  • Pantagruel
    598
    I have mentioned "embedded cognition" before, it didn't generate much interest. So I cut a quote from a UCLA professor of psychiatry, also arguing for essentially embedded cognition. He describes how a key feature of mind is "the emergent self-organizing process, both embodied and relational, that regulates energy and information flow within and among us." Which implies "In other words, our mind is not simply our perception of experiences, but those experiences themselves. Siegel argues that it’s impossible to completely disentangle our subjective view of the world from our interactions."

    As it happens I'm also currently doing a lot of reading on systems theory, which is the emergent self-organizing processes he is describing.
  • ovdtogt
    667
    "In other words, our mind is not simply our perception of experiences, but those experiences themselves.Pantagruel

    So when I am hammering in a nail it is in fact my brain that is doing it, not my arms, hands and hammer?
  • Pantagruel
    598
    So when I am hammering in a nail it is in fact my brain that is doing it, not my arms, hands and hammer?ovdtogt

    So, I am fascinated by your thought processes. I provide examples and arguments parallel or directly supportive of your positions, and you seem to repeatedly misinterpret them as contradictory or antagonistic. Maybe you are a little defensive?

    No, the exact opposite, when you are hammering in a nail it is a holistic experience. Exactly what the UCLA professor says, which I have always believed, as a proponent of embedded cognition.

    Edit: Sorry, it is frustrating enough to be misinterpreted by someone with whom you disagree, let alone someone you don't!
  • NOS4A2
    2.5k


    Great point. Consciousness would need to permeate through the entire organism, beginning and ending at the surface of the skin. I would argue “consciousness” is a direct one-to-one ratio with the entire body. If a man loses a finger, for instance, he is that much less conscious.
  • Pantagruel
    598
    To whatever extent he loses some operational capacity, perhaps so.

    The professor quoted above goes on to say, if he is asked to describe the shore, it is neither land, nor, sea, it is both. Likewise, you really can't say where the boundaries of an organism are. It depends on which systems you are looking at, digestive, tactile, endocrine, etc. They have different interactive boundaries.
  • NOS4A2
    2.5k


    Assuming the professor is Lakoff, take a Read of his book “Philosophy in the Flesh” if you get a chance.

    I think an organism has a boundary by virtue of it being finite. The organism begins and ends at its surface.
  • Pantagruel
    598
    But the point is, what is a surface? It is an interaction with the environment. Digestion is a surface. Respiration is a surface. The skin is a tactile boundary. Some organisms can react to chemical concentrations that are extremely tiny and relate to sources that are extremely far away from them. Their "surface" can be quite some distance exterior to their physical shell.

    Edit: ooo..the embodied mind and its challenge to western thought, that does strike a chord. Thanks.
  • ovdtogt
    667
    Sorry I must be thick because I just don't understand this sentence.

    "In other words, our mind is not simply our perception of experiences, but those experiences themselves.Pantagruel
  • Pantagruel
    598
    Better than being wrong :) JK.
  • NOS4A2
    2.5k


    Well, I wouldn’t go that far. The human skin is a surface given that the human organism does not extend beyond it.
  • Pantagruel
    598
    Again, it depends on the type of interaction and there are many that are not limited to the surface of the skin. There is an excellent essay on perception and activation in the frogs eye. Similarly, the boundary between brain and body isn't straightforward, innervation and ennervation can take place at different locales, depending on the mechanisms and how they involved. When I read the essay in question, I had a really clear insight how the frogs eye was essentially just part of its brain (central nervous system). I have a photocopy of it somewhere, I'll take a look. It is just a logical extension of the concept of embodied cognition. The lines between environment and entity can appear to be clear cut, but they are not necessarily so.
  • Pantagruel
    598
    ↪Pantagruel Sorry I must be thick because I just don't understand this sentence.

    "In other words, our mind is not simply our perception of experiences, but those experiences themselves.
    — Pantagruel
    ovdtogt
    Not just the thoughts "Do this. I am doing this. I did this." The whole experience, the actions, the interactions. I think the notion "holistic" works. Like you said, the act of hammering, not reduced to an intention or a brain signal. The whole event and context.
  • ovdtogt
    667
    Not just the thoughts "Do this. I am doing this. I did this." The whole experience, the actions, the interactions. I think the notion "holistic" works.Pantagruel

    "In other words, our mind is not simply our perception of experiences, but those experiences themselves.Pantagruel

    Okay, but which problem does it solve, looking at it 'holistically' that we couldn't solve or understand otherwise?

    I would expect a theory or hypothesis to answer a previously incomprehensible issue or unsolvable question.
  • Pantagruel
    598
    K. Your basic position is that consciousness is a "whole body experience". This is extremely close to that, extends a little further but essentially is compatible.

    Unless there are two ovdtogt's on here and you're the other one?
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