• Michael
    When I stay in this metaphor, I would think about consioussnes not about the railroad but about the velocity of the train. We still have railroads without a train but we don´t have velocity.InfiniteMonkey

    Then you're assuming your conclusion. How do you show that the relationship between consciousness and the brain is analogous to the relationship between velocity and the train and not analogous to the relationship between the train and the railway track?
  • Daniel

    So reproduction just naturally led to consciousness?neonspectraltoast

    No. It was the process of evolution.

    So yes, my thought is, wasn't it fortunate that a blind process led up to any degree of awareness at all. And the question is, how did that happen?neonspectraltoast

    It is fortunate; but remember that fortunate is a human concept. And how did it happen? That's what we are trying to understand. The fact that we don't have an answer for it should not push us towards the assumption that consciousness has divine/supernatural origin since assuming that takes all the fun away.
  • neonspectraltoast

    Would you call consciousness divine if it was something that existed somehow beyond time? By its nature it may seem somehow divine, but that doesn't mean it isn't natural. We shouldn't be ruling anything out, given that we don't know.

    It just seems kind of odd that "life" would blindly evolve step-by-step in such a way that it led to conscious awareness. One day there's nothing, and the next the final piece fell into place and voila, awareness. I find that hard to swallow.
  • Daniel

    Would you call consciousness divine if it was something that existed somehow beyond timeneonspectraltoast

    Yes. It wouldn't be natural if it were not affected by time.

    I'm not ruling out the possibility of it being divine. However, the things I know seem to indicate the contrary. I am conscious. I change. Time applies to me. Then, time applies to my conciousness. I'm not always conscious of the same things. And I'm certainly not divine.

    It is hard to swallow when you think it occured in one day. The universe is quite old. It took billions of years for consciousness to evolve. That is a lot of time for anything to happen. A lot of time. Unimaginable.
  • neonspectraltoast

    I question whether anyone really changes. I think there is a subconscious part of us, our disposition, that remains the same.

    Yeah, I suppose you're right. But my hunch is still that that's not the case, that consciousness is unbounded by time somehow.

    I think this is so cool, because I think we're going to discover faculties of consciousness we currently don't dream of. For instance, the CIA has admitted that remote viewing is real. We're not even tangling that yet, but it implies something about consciousness' relationship to time and space.

    We can't continue to set this sort of thing apart into the realm of the "divine." That really has nothing to do with it. I think if you truly want to explore our universe you can't set limits. You have to keep an open mind.
  • prothero
    I think the realization that "consciousness" has evolved is fundamental to a philosophy of mind.
    "Human consciousness" did not just pop into existence at some point in brute emergence.
    Our human experience must have had its precursors in the evolutionary process and although we have no direct access to the "subjective experience" of other humans much less other life forms mind has evolved in nature. At what point do you think "mind" first appeared.
    My response is one of panpsychism, it is impossible to draw a line and so some form of protomind or protoexperience is fundamental to the operation of nature and present to the core and in the most fundamental units of nature "events" (per Whitehead).
  • Outlander
    Human conciousness vs. animal conciousness.

    Allegedly, the following is true. Elephants mourn their dead. Caged dogs about to be slaughtered that witness an example of it will be fearful. Cats... let's face it they know what's going on. :D

    Birds and pigs have shown signs of intelligence by being able to solve puzzles.

    Per theory of evolution it just did as brain function increased. You just realized you were there one day.

    I want to say it has to do with memories. Knowledge of time and the concepts of past, present, and future. Would an animal draw something in the sand of a past companion? Would it store something it needs for later and come back to it at a later date based on if it knows it either can or cannot get more of whatever it is? Now that one is easy to refute as squirrels store nuts and other examples. One might propose a combination of Darwinism and genetic memory. Or monkey see, monkey do. Say you have a group of squirrels. A few eat their nuts right away and a few eat what they need and hide the rest somewhere. Over time the ones that eat their nuts right away and follow this example become less common, while the ones that hide theirs and that follow this example increase until you're at the point every squirrel is doing this and 'showing' others to. According to some theories this act may become genetic memory.
  • Pantagruel
    A bit more about Mead's thesis that mind is fundamentally an intersubjective or social phenomenon.

    Mead examines the failures of the individual-centric theory of mind to account for shared or common meaning. Whereas, for the social-communicative theory of mind, this is a fait accompli.

    If, as Wundt does, you presuppose the existence of mind at the start, as explaining or making possible the social process of experience, then the origin of minds and the interaction among minds become mysteries. But if, on the other hand, you regard the social process of experience as prior (in a rudimentary form) to the existence of mind and explain the origin of minds in terms of the interaction among individuals within that process, then not only the origin of minds, but also the interaction among minds (which is thus seen to be internal to their very nature and presupposed by their existence or development at all) cease to seem mysterious or miraculous. Mind arises through communication by a conversation of gestures in a social process or context of experience-not communication through mind...

    From the individual perspective, this involves "taking the attitude of the other," a method that is likewise central to the works of Sartre:

    As we shall see, the same procedure which is responsible for the genesis and existence of mind or consciousness - namely, the taking of the attitude of the other toward one's self, or toward one's own behaviour - also necessarily involves the genesis and existence at the same time of significant symbols, or significant gestures

    Essentially it is a 'symbolic behaviouristic' approach:

    Gestures become significant symbols when they implicitly arouse in an individual making them the same responses which they explicitly arouse, or are supposed to arouse, in other individuals, the individuals to whom they are addressed; and in all conversations of gestures within the social process, whether external (between different individuals) or internal (between a given individual and himself), the individual's consciousness of the content and flow of meaning involved depends on his thus taking the attitude of the other toward his own gestures.
  • Pantagruel
    Mead's symbolic behaviourism is a systemic theory of embedded cognition which precedes the formal appearance of both embedding and systems. Ideas exist as the functional relationship between environmental cues which act as stimuli for behaviours. Thus, for example, grass becomes "food" only with the appearance of an organism capable of digesting it. This is what is known generally as the "biotic environement."

    This idea of the organic-environmental complex can be extended further though. The set of presuppositions shared by thinking beings likewise describes a functional-social milieu. So, for example, thinkers who share a common perspective on the role played by logic, or empirical observation, or ethics, all define unique 'environments of thought' in which unique types of reasoning become possible.

    Mead says, "We must regard mind, then, as arising and developing within the social process, within the empirical matrix of social interactions." Social sub-groups can and do develop their own idiosyncratic cultures. But is this a good thing? Habermas sees runaway specialization as one of the main drivers of the alienation and social dissolution of modernity. And it seems evident that, for specialization to have meaning, there must be another conscious project which aims at re-integrating all these disparate - or at least separate - perspectives.
  • Pantagruel
    To sum up, consciousness is the awareness of the real effects of consciousness as embodied and documented in culture:

    The evolutionary appearance of mind or intelligence takes place when the whole social process of experience and behavior is brought within the experience of any one of the separate individuals implicated therein, and when the individual's adjustment to the process is modified and refined by the awareness or consciousness which he thus has of it.

    One might say, our theoretical (cum practical) understanding of the nature of consciousness (edit: as sociality) ...is consciousness.
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