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"The Origin of Consciousness..." A Stuctured Book Discussion Options
NancyLee
Posted: Friday, October 21, 2011 4:27:43 PM
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FounDit wrote:

You know what? The more I think about it, the more I think I should just say, Never mind. I'm not sure its worth getting into, really.

So let's just continue on, ok?


FounDit, that line has pushed me into this explanation. When I was reading this book, especially the first part, I heard that line in my head and soon was sound asleep. This fact amazed me because usually when I read I am more inclined to wake up than to get sleepy. This usually is most true when reading a book of ideas in which I have great interest.

And I did have great interest in this book. The Time Magazine review that I read about this book "Behavior: The Lost Voices of the Gods" (March 14, 1977 issue)(If I knew how I would have linked here) sent me to the bookstore and within two days I had the book. The review resonated with three clear memories I had always had of early childhood - and never really understood. You know what? The more I think about it, the more I think I should just say, Never mind. I'm not sure its worth getting into, really. - strikes again. Eh?

Reading this book again, I can see that dealing with words like:

prevenient, phanera, introcosm, phenomenological field, phylogenic, compresence, prehension, and cephalic ganglion

for example, could make anyone, who was not a psychology major, want to sleep.

Also references to authors maybe heard of but not read like:

Hobbes, Kant, Mach, Pierce, Ryle, Heraclitus, Augustine, Mill, Wundt, Titchener, Alexander, and Whitehead

for example, don't help keep you awake. Ignor all that if you must! The concepts in this book make this all worthwhile. Dancing

Also, it seemed to me that my mind was not too interested in me understanding or reading this book. Eventually "we" (it) came to relax and let the ideas in. After these many years I have no problem with these concepts. They explain but don't control.

HAVE FUN EVERYONE! Dancing

Boy oh boy! Hope I don't sound too crazy.d'oh! Whistle










Epiphileon
Posted: Friday, October 21, 2011 7:09:58 PM

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NancyLee wrote:
Boy oh boy! Hope I don't sound too crazy.d'oh! Whistle


Nancy I believe he was commenting on my editorial statement about the difference in psychology, at the time Jaynes wrote the book and that of 100 years previous.
I see what you mean though, it is possible to get the gist without understanding all the references he makes.
NancyLee
Posted: Friday, October 21, 2011 7:55:35 PM
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Epiphileon wrote:

Nancy I believe he was commenting on my editorial statement about the difference in psychology, at the time Jaynes wrote the book and that of 100 years previous.
I see what you mean though, it is possible to get the gist without understanding all the references he makes.


Yes, I know he was commenting on your statement. The sentence was just so like what I remembered thinking, or hearing as in one of those private conversations in my head, that I had to share. When I first read the book, I had to re-read many paragraphs to really "get" it. Reading "on Automatic" just doesn't quite work.

Again: You know what? The more I think about it, the more I think I should just say, Never mind. I'm not sure its worth getting into, really...Don't let this type of thought stop you! Anxious



d'oh! Whistle
FounDit
Posted: Saturday, October 22, 2011 9:31:35 AM

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Ok, thanks, NancyLee. I won't let it stop me; I'm reloading even now..*S*


leonAzul
Posted: Saturday, October 22, 2011 1:27:51 PM

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FounDit wrote:

Ok, thanks, NancyLee. I won't let it stop me; I'm reloading even now..*S*




I, for one, am looking forward to the next volley. Dancing

Just the same, I'd like to ask us all to respect Epiphileon's original proposal: to review the book as it is. While it is natural to raise the questions as one reads, as you have, FounDit, we should be careful that we don't come to conclusions before Jaynes' arguments have been presented.

This is particularly important to keep in mind, since Jaynes seems to favor a rhetorical style that could be described as anticipatory. For example, in the exchange above I noted an allusion to dualism that Epi quite correctly observed was not formally introduced until much later in the introduction. This method of "telegraphing one's intentions" can be a very effective way to present a thesis, yet it can also represent a clever dodge, or "begging the question". We need to be mindful of this and not jump to conclusions either way until the arguments for the minor premises have been formally introduced. Only then can we judge whether they have been properly supported, or not.
intelfam
Posted: Saturday, October 22, 2011 2:31:56 PM
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Epiphileon wrote:
... the answer is short, the difference today is we have modern neuroscience, and evolutionary theory that provide an actual scientific foundation on which to proceed. My favorite analogy is, psychology prior to neuroscience discoveries of the late 20th century, was much like astrology and astronomy, before and after the telescope.
The paragraph I quoted...
Quote:
Now originally, this search into the nature of consciousness was known as the mind-body problem, heavy with its ponderous philosophical solutions. But since the theory of evolution, it has bared itself into a more scientific question. It has become the problem of the origin of mind, or, more specifically, the origin of consciousness in evolution.

To me Jaynes was one of the first in the field to recognize that we could finally return to the problem, with some reasonable hope of scientific inquiry.

I'm sorry Epi, but your little story of bells etc is a caricature. The behaviourists were scientific - and did not tell stories about the mind. At the beginning of the 20 century, the pioneer psychologists were doctors and their experimental method was based on what were scientific methods then. I think you are reading back (in time) to criticise early psychologists without also placing them in the context of the behaviour of most scientists in all fields. Science just wasn't that good either. The real move into scientific psychology was because the US threw lots of money at the game at the end of WW2 and after because of veteran disability. The behaviourists were the first to bring psychology up to date with science proper. They were very rigorous in their methodology.
intelfam
Posted: Saturday, October 22, 2011 2:33:32 PM
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Sorry Epi, that should have been a separate spin-off topic. Pleasee ignore, folks

FounDit
Posted: Saturday, October 22, 2011 3:12:13 PM

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I see I'm not the only one who has to resist the urge to be an ankle-biter...Shame on you Whistle
FounDit
Posted: Saturday, October 22, 2011 3:16:27 PM

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@leonAzul,

Agreed, but its just so difficult to sit quietly when I read something that gets my hackles up...*L* I'm working on it, though, as you can see....*grrrrr*



Epiphileon
Posted: Saturday, October 22, 2011 4:05:17 PM

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intelfam wrote:
Epiphileon wrote:
... the answer is short, the difference today is we have modern neuroscience, and evolutionary theory that provide an actual scientific foundation on which to proceed. My favorite analogy is, psychology prior to neuroscience discoveries of the late 20th century, was much like astrology and astronomy, before and after the telescope.
The paragraph I quoted...
Quote:
Now originally, this search into the nature of consciousness was known as the mind-body problem, heavy with its ponderous philosophical solutions. But since the theory of evolution, it has bared itself into a more scientific question. It has become the problem of the origin of mind, or, more specifically, the origin of consciousness in evolution.

To me Jaynes was one of the first in the field to recognize that we could finally return to the problem, with some reasonable hope of scientific inquiry.

I'm sorry Epi, but your little story of bells etc is a caricature. The behaviourists were scientific - and did not tell stories about the mind. At the beginning of the 20 century, the pioneer psychologists were doctors and their experimental method was based on what were scientific methods then. I think you are reading back (in time) to criticise early psychologists without also placing them in the context of the behaviour of most scientists in all fields. Science just wasn't that good either. The real move into scientific psychology was because the US threw lots of money at the game at the end of WW2 and after because of veteran disability. The behaviourists were the first to bring psychology up to date with science proper. They were very rigorous in their methodology.


Not entirely Intel, and the behaviorists did a very good job of operant conditioning, but way overgeneralized its application, and way under emphasized the brain, as well as nearly entirely dismissed the role of hereditary processes in behavior. Besides that the specific issue my story relates to, is the issue of consciousness, and psychology had no choice but depart from that issue until other fields developed to the point of providing a reasonable paradigm within which to address the issue. I'm not saying that some of the made up stories didn't help the development of our understanding, after all even wrong answers are useful, as long as they are recognized as being wrong. Besides there are still within the field of psychology, both psychophysics, and psychometrics, which both deal with evidential data.
Oh and chemistry, physics, astronomy, geology and such were certainly less mature than they are today, but no where near as fantasy based as psychology was.
Besides I still think, at least as far as I know, Jaynes was, if not the first, one of the first to recall psychology to its original question.
intelfam
Posted: Saturday, October 22, 2011 4:42:46 PM
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Epiphileon wrote:


Not entirely Intel, and the behaviorists did a very good job of operant conditioning, but way overgeneralized its application, and way under emphasized the brain, as well as nearly entirely dismissed the role of hereditary processes in behavior.

Besides that the specific issue my story relates to, is the issue of consciousness, and psychology had no choice but depart from that issue until other fields developed to the point of providing a reasonable paradigm within which to address the issue. I'm not saying that some of the made up stories didn't help the development of our understanding, after all even wrong answers are useful, as long as they are recognized as being wrong. Besides there are still within the field of psychology, both psychophysics, and psychometrics, which both deal with evidential data.
Oh and chemistry, physics, astronomy, geology and such were certainly less mature than they are today, but no where near as fantasy based as psychology was.

Interestingly some of the made-up stories are turning out to be very near the truth rather than wrong and useful. Some interesting stuff linking neurology to Freud's theories is now emerging, much to my disgust.


Besides I still think, at least as far as I know, Jaynes was, if not the first, one of the first to recall psychology to its original question.


I disagree with so much of this because you are making broad rhetorical statements about "fantasy" etc which I don't think is born out by a detailed examination. I'll just refrain because this isn't the topic.


leonAzul
Posted: Saturday, October 22, 2011 4:58:02 PM

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FounDit wrote:

@leonAzul,

Agreed, but its just so difficult to sit quietly when I read something that gets my hackles up...*L* I'm working on it, though, as you can see....*grrrrr*


You are not alone, as I have demonstrated more than once. Anxious

Just for this bear of little brain, as we get into more rigorous discussion, would you please use the quote tags and colorize or otherwise edit the selections in order to make the discussion easier to follow.
FounDit
Posted: Saturday, October 22, 2011 5:09:47 PM

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leonAzul

Quote:
Just for this bear of little brain, as we get into more rigorous discussion, would you please use the quote tags and colorize or otherwise edit the selections in order to make the discussion easier to follow.



Affirmative.
Epiphileon
Posted: Sunday, October 23, 2011 7:32:14 AM

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intelfam wrote:
Epiphileon wrote:


Interestingly some of the made-up stories are turning out to be very near the truth rather than wrong and useful. Some interesting stuff linking neurology to Freud's theories is now emerging, much to my disgust.


Besides I still think, at least as far as I know, Jaynes was, if not the first, one of the first to recall psychology to its original question.


I disagree with so much of this because you are making broad rhetorical statements about "fantasy" etc which I don't think is born out by a detailed examination. I'll just refrain because this isn't the topic.

Yea, I apologize Intel and folks, I really have to be careful about running off at the mouth when it comes to psychology in general, and you're right, there is a lot of good stuff in those hundred years of psych history. Four years in a department dominated by radical Skinnerian behaviorists, who vehemently opposed our little group of investigators, really biased the hell out of my spontaneous appraisals of psychology, but I should know better. And you know, if you think about it psychology is one of the fastest maturing fields in history, just compare how much time we thought the sun was dragged up into the sky by mythical entities.

The point I was trying to make, stripped of latent hostility, was to put the appearance of Jaynes book, and in particular the quoted paragraph, in the context of a developing science, I believe it marks the point where it began to be okay to begin discussing consciousness from a scientific perspective.


intelfam
Posted: Sunday, October 23, 2011 3:07:54 PM
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Epiphileon wrote:
............ Four years in a department dominated by radical Skinnerian behaviorists, who vehemently opposed our little group of investigators, really biased
The point I was trying to make, stripped of latent hostility, was to put the appearance of Jaynes book, and in particular the quoted paragraph, in the context of a developing science, I believe it marks the point where it began to be okay to begin discussing consciousness from a scientific perspective.


I guess that four years makes your sin forgiveable Epi ego te absolvo, my son...

I know it's another aside but having dipped in and out of academia over the years, there is always a division within those who "take up" an idea. My behaviourist professor just stuck with it because it was, as far as she was concerned, the only rock solid place with repeatable results under controlled conditions. But she was happy with psychometrics because she could understand that the variable (personality) could only be inferred from behaviour (test responses) - and psychometric guys were humble enough to say this. But you do also get folk who grab an idea mainly because it fits their prejudice - and they become persecutors of anybody else, and won't even give them a hearing - or funding. You're right, I think, that Jaynes was the first to poke his head over the barricade and restart the conversation about the problem of consciousness at least in psychology - and, whether his book has now been superseded or not, I bet it started some folk off on the road to becoming researchers.

Epiphileon
Posted: Sunday, October 23, 2011 4:04:47 PM

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Oct.23-Oct.30
Introduction
pages 8.5 thru 18
leonAzul
Posted: Monday, October 24, 2011 9:03:31 AM

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So it's my turn to stick my neck out and post first.

I am mostly clear on Jaynes' intent to outline the proposed course of discussion concerning consciousness. I do note the differences in style and language among the named subsections, and that it is his intention to address these particular models of consciousness as representative of "best of breed". Whether this is true or not is somewhat off-topic; whether I have correctly understood Jaynes' intentions is very much the topic of this thread.

I would like to hear your collective thoughts on the following:


Quote:
page 11 (16)

It is William James who has given the best discussion of the
conscious automaton theory.11 His argument here is a little like
Samuel Johnson’s downing philosophical idealism by kicking a
stone and crying, “I refute it thus!” It is just plain inconceivable
that consciousness should have nothing to do with a business
which it so faithfully attends. If consciousness is the mere impo-
tent shadow of action, why is it more intense when action is most
hesitant? And why are we least conscious when doing something
most habitual? Certainly this seesawing relationship between
consciousness and actions
is something that any theory of con-
sciousness must explain.



He uses that word, yet I do not think it means what he thinks it means.

Now that I have obviously descended to making the obvious joke in order to dispense with it, what are we to make of these assertions? This is a blatant argument from incredulity; are we, the readers, to take this at face value, or is something more subtle intended?

How does one falsify the seesawing relationship between consciousness and actions?

Do we, the readers, now expect Jaynes to address these questions at some point, or can we consider "The Helpless Spectator Theory" dismissed?

Note well that I am not asking about, nor promoting, the merits of "The Helpless Spectator Theory", but rather has Jaynes adequately falsified the thesis.

JackH
Posted: Monday, October 24, 2011 9:48:24 AM
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As I read on, trying to catch up with Epi's assignment for week 2, I couldn't help but think back for the definition of consciousness.

It is probably lame of me to have to read and think that way. It is just that when dealing with a subject as complex and elusive (at least to me) as consciousness, I need to be constantly reminded what exactly i'm dealing with.

And that brings me to my first thought about the book. And please allow me to refer back to the opening paragraphs of the introduction.

I found the way Jaynes approaches the task of defining his subject matter is way too poetic for a scientific discourse:

"A world of unseen visions and heard silences... A secret theater of speechless monologue and prevenient counsel, an invisible mansion of all moods, musings, and mysteries..."

Moving on to page 2, Jaynes' discussion remains more on what consciousness is about than what it is:

It is about "the difference between what others see of us and our sense of our inner selves..."

Don't get me wrong. I do love the way Jaynes handles the subject and I'm not saying there is nothing poetic about science.

It just got me thinking that maybe the fact that consciousness defies a more sciency definition is testimony to the nature of consciousness. And the fact that Jaynes opens his discussion of the subject more like a philosopher/poet than a scientist, maybe, reminds us why we have just started to think of consciousness scientifically.

Forgive my slowness. I just finished the 1st week's reading, so..

But i do love this thread. Thank you Epi.

FounDit
Posted: Monday, October 24, 2011 11:47:00 AM

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leonAzul in quoting Jaynes:

Quote:
page 11 (16)

It is William James who has given the best discussion of the
conscious automaton theory.11 His argument here is a little like
Samuel Johnson’s downing philosophical idealism by kicking a
stone and crying, “I refute it thus!” It is just plain inconceivable
that consciousness should have nothing to do with a business
which it so faithfully attends. If consciousness is the mere impo-
tent shadow of action, why is it more intense when action is most
hesitant? And why are we least conscious when doing something
most habitual? Certainly this seesawing relationship between
consciousness and actions
is something that any theory of con-
sciousness must explain.



leonAzul writes:
Note well that I am not asking about, nor promoting, the merits of "The Helpless Spectator Theory", but rather has Jaynes adequately falsified the thesis.


Jaynes thinks that consciousness can not possibly be a helpless spectator since, in his view, consciousness is a kind of sine quo non for action at times, yet absent at others; a situation he refers to as “seesawing”.

Jaynes seems to believe that the reader is in agreement with him, or will be, and therefore, no other explanation is necessary. Simply put, Jaynes has an opinion of how consciousness behaves (seesawing), and considers this the evidence that refutes the theory; he appears to think that the reader in complete accord with him on the subject.

As you, leon, have pointed out, Jaynes writes in an anticipatory style. Here is evidence of that, as he intends later to explain himself concerning consciousness. It was this dismissive style of refutation that almost made me quit reading him. But I thought I’d give him a chance to explain himself, so I continued.

Epiphileon
Posted: Monday, October 24, 2011 4:38:35 PM

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JackH wrote:

I found the way Jaynes approaches the task of defining his subject matter is way too poetic for a scientific discourse:


Hi Jack and well come to the discussion, glad to have you along. I don't think Jaynes intended to grapple with any definitive answers in that portion, rather just to present the problem. And as long as an investigator is talking about their field, I would like to see many more talk about it with the unabashed excitement Jaynes does in those opening paragraphs but, you're right, when it gets around to serious investigation, I agree the approach needs to be much more objective. But then there is one of the big difficulties in the study of consciousness, how does one objectively study the organ of subjectivity, with its self?(this is an entirely rhetorical question at this point)
JackH
Posted: Tuesday, October 25, 2011 8:40:41 AM
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Epiphileon wrote:
JackH wrote:

I found the way Jaynes approaches the task of defining his subject matter is way too poetic for a scientific discourse:


Hi Jack and well come to the discussion, glad to have you along. I don't think Jaynes intended to grapple with any definitive answers in that portion, rather just to present the problem. And as long as an investigator is talking about their field, I would like to see many more talk about it with the unabashed excitement Jaynes does in those opening paragraphs but, you're right, when it gets around to serious investigation, I agree the approach needs to be much more objective. But then there is one of the big difficulties in the study of consciousness, how does one objectively study the organ of subjectivity, with its self?(this is an entirely rhetorical question at this point)


Yes, Epi. I see that Jaynes is far away from the question of what it is. He has barely gotten to what it is not, which will make some interesting reading for the next week I hope.
Epiphileon
Posted: Tuesday, October 25, 2011 1:17:16 PM

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I think the problem with the "Helpless Spectator" section begins in the "Metaphysical Imposition" section, or at least that is where I see Jaynes going progressively more off track, that is, if these sections are meant as serious arguments. I'm not at all sure that they are, but then, why include them? If his point had merely been to point out some of the major schools of thought, he should have stuck to that, it's when he starts misrepresenting things, and makes cursory, ineffective rebuttals that opens him up to criticism.
"Metaphysical Imposition"
Jaynes wrote:
The appreciation of this discontinuity between the apes and speaking civilized ethical intellectual men has led many scientists back to a metaphysical view.

It seems to me, that if we take this statement at face value, we have seriously thinking people flip flopping on a point of intellectual conviction, the way some politicians do on policy. I just don't see this as a realistic appraisal, and would have liked some support for the assertion. I suppose it could have happened, but it seems like a very large generalization ascribing causation, where none may have been needed, i.e. most people already thought that way.
Jaynes wrote:
Such thinking began with the beginning of modern evolutionary theory,...

I do not think it is justifiable to call this particular variant, the beginning of the metaphysical origin of consciousness point of view, any creation oriented religion, includes this notion by default.

"Helpless Spectator"
Jaynes wrote:
In reaction to such metaphysical speculations, there grew up through this early period of evolutionary thinking an increasingly materialist view.

I wonder if it really was a reaction, and not just monists going about formulating an explanation consistent with their world view.
Besides that though, I could find no reference to this as an established theory, although I didn't look very long. I think its a dysphemism (yes Virginia there is an antonym for euphemism, but I had to look it up)for determinism, and if that is the case I believe what he says is a complete misrepresentation. But I'm on pretty shaky ground there as I've never actually studied determinism, although I've been accused of being one a few times. In any case I'm looking forward to how he proposes to qualify the possibility of free will, if that is part of what he is saying here. Sorry but I had to look for something else, since to me the notion that anyone would propose a characteristic, successfully evolved that served no purpose, is just ludicrous. Unless this is a variant of the emergent property hypothesis.

Hiho hiho, it's off to work I go.

LeonAzul wrote:
Note well that I am not asking about, nor promoting, the merits of "The Helpless Spectator Theory", but rather has Jaynes adequately falsified the thesis.

I think he made a start at refuting a completely helpless, spectator theory, but like I said, I find it hard to believe anyone was proposing such an an extreme state.

FounDit wrote:
Jaynes thinks that consciousness can not possibly be a helpless spectator since, in his view, consciousness is a kind of sine quo non for action at times, yet absent at others; a situation he refers to as “seesawing”.
Jaynes seems to believe that the reader is in agreement with him, or will be, and therefore, no other explanation is necessary. Simply put, Jaynes has an opinion of how consciousness behaves (seesawing), and considers this the evidence that refutes the theory; he appears to think that the reader in complete accord with him on the subject.

I think all he is saying about seesawing is that any theory would have to account for this, and assumes it is evidence of directional force on behavior on the part of consciousness, the argument is indeed weak. I also agree with you about his assumption of agreement on the part of the reader; however, this I can understand, it is a easy pitfall for someone in his position to fall into.


NancyLee
Posted: Friday, October 28, 2011 1:03:36 AM
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Few people think more than two or three times a year; I have made an international reputation for myself by thinking once or twice a week. -- George Bernard Shaw -- I just love GBS quotes...

Well, guess I'll try to do a little thinking today...

Imagination is the beginning of creation. You imagine what you desire, you will what you imagine, and at last you create what you will.-- George Bernard Shaw

Will - not yet mentioned. Is it relevant? Is it part of 'consciousness" or does it flow to consciousness from 'below'?? Calvinists must have loved behaviorists. Coming from a Presbyterian background I had no trouble thinking that hamsters running mazes for high school science projects was fine - and fun. SEE, they learned! But as Jaynes points out, learning does not require consciousness. Learning ability proves nothing about consciousness.

When Jaynes was discussing how really different humans were from the rest of the world's animals, he really got me going. No other animal strives to understand and create like we do. Why? Why and how can we be so different? Looks like this drove Wallace nuts. I understand, me too.Brick wall

Any comments welcome.Think --NancyLee
Epiphileon
Posted: Friday, October 28, 2011 5:37:39 AM

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Jaynes wrote:
The chasm is awesome. The emotional lives of men and of other mammals are indeed marvelously similar. But to focus upon the similarity unduly is to forget that such a chasm exists at all. The intellectual life of man, his culture and history and religion and science, is different from anything else we know of in the universe. That is fact. It is as if all life evolved to a certain point, and then in ourselves turned at a right angle and simply exploded in a different direction.


NancyLee wrote:
When Jaynes was discussing how really different humans were from the rest of the world's animals, he really got me going. No other animal strives to understand and create like we do. Why? Why and how can we be so different? Looks like this drove Wallace nuts. I understand, me too


There is indeed a vast difference between humans, and the other animals on Earth; however, I do not see any discontinuity, nor do I think it is qualifiable to say that life exploded in a different direction, the same rules still apply. I do think there is a point in relatively recent evolutionary history, that something indeed changed radically, but it was only a matter of velocity, not direction. After all it took millennia to go from hand held pieces of sharpened stones, to the idea of attaching a handle, but in less than 2000 years we went from bows and arrows to thermonuclear weapons. Language and consciousness I'm convinced, are sufficient conditions to explain this acceleration in the rate of change. I can see why people in the 18th century felt there was a huge gulf between the great apes and us, but considering the number of sub-species within the homo genus, I see no discontinuities.
As much as I appreciate Jaynes' work, and consider this book extremely useful in the exploration of consciousness. I feel he falls prey to a common academic weakness, i.e. failing to consider current knowledge in relevant fields. In his case though I fully understand how this would happen, and see it as almost unavoidable, he is the first to address the problem from a scientific perspective, and he would have found very little support for the endeavor from any potential collaborative colleagues.

NancyLee wrote:
Will - not yet mentioned. Is it relevant?

Yes I do think it is absolutely relevant, but not yet, Jaynes sort of mentions it by default in the helpless spectator theory, but I think any discussion of it now, would be premature. Particularly as I have a suspicion you mean "free will", and as anything of that nature would, of necessity, be a function of consciousness, I think we better grapple with consciousness for a bit, before tackling free will.

intelfam
Posted: Friday, October 28, 2011 7:31:18 AM
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Been away for a few days so I think we are on

Oct.23-Oct.30
Introduction
pages 8.5 thru 18

I have still to catch up on the discussion - but was surprised that this bit had caused so much debate. Maybe I missed something about it but I read it as a whistle-stoop tour around some of the ways folk had pictured consciousness as working - and, more particularly, how the metaphors reflected the advances made in other fields.

If he had written today I am sure he would have said "See, they are doing it again! After the models I wrote about back in 1976, the next great advance was computer control of industrial processes and, guess what, thinkers on consciousness started picturing it in those terms, things like nested algorithms in decision making.
Then blow me! Major advances in digital computers and off they went, seeing consciousness in terms of modules and domains"

Maybe I missed something but, as someone up there said, he just seemed to be anticipating his next step and caricaturing rather than refuting. But I have yet to read the details of what you have all said.

Marissa La Faye Isolde
Posted: Friday, October 28, 2011 8:38:01 AM
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I think the problem with consciousness for the scientific world is that it is a non physical phenomena that the five senses cannot physically grasp. Previous attempts to define it in a scientific way have failed because scientists have tried to study and explain it in a physical way. I have not read beyond the introduction yet, but I believe that Janes is going to attempt to say that consciousness evolved in the spinal cord at the base of the skull. My personal problem with this is that we then have to agree, or accept, that consciousness is of a physical substance that "dies" when the human body dies. The "you" and "I" will cease to exist. Not only do I not want to cease to "be", it seems senseless and illogical to have been borne just to die. Why have consciousness at all to start with. If mankind was intended to just live to die as an insect or bird or some other life form, why have consciousness? We would be better off not knowing this, and thus live our lives out as other life forms do. What if our consciousness does not reside in the brain? What if the brain processes our consciousness in such a way that allows our physical body to utilize it in the physical existence that we are in?
intelfam
Posted: Friday, October 28, 2011 1:39:00 PM
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Marissa La Faye Isolde wrote:
............. I believe that Janes is going to attempt to say that consciousness evolved in the spinal cord at the base of the skull.

I hadn't picked that up myself, Maria - but I guess that, as most automatic stuff, emotions and sensation seem to be filtered in or arise from that area, it must feature in the arguments for s structural source for consciousness.


My personal problem with this is that we then have to agree, or accept, that consciousness is of a physical substance that "dies" when the human body dies.
The "you" and "I" will cease to exist. Not only do I not want to cease to "be", it seems senseless and illogical to have been borne just to die.

I am not sure if we were born to die, I feel it is more that we are born to breed and then die....
Epiphileon
Posted: Saturday, October 29, 2011 8:12:15 AM

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Marissa La Faye Isolde wrote:
I think the problem with consciousness for the scientific world is that it is a non physical phenomena that the five senses cannot physically grasp. Previous attempts to define it in a scientific way have failed because scientists have tried to study and explain it in a physical way.
I am curious, what previous attempts are you referring to?

I have not read beyond the introduction yet, but I believe that Janes is going to attempt to say that consciousness evolved in the spinal cord at the base of the skull. My personal problem with this is that we then have to agree, or accept, that consciousness is of a physical substance that "dies" when the human body dies. The "you" and "I" will cease to exist. Not only do I not want to cease to "be", it seems senseless and illogical to have been borne just to die. Why have consciousness at all to start with. If mankind was intended to just live to die as an insect or bird or some other life form, why have consciousness?
Well from an evolutionary point of view, that's easy, because of its huge advantage over not being conscious. Also Jaynes is attempting to discover the point at which consciousness evolved, an evolved characteristic is by default going to be a physical characteristic. Encoded energy is a physical phenomena, but it has no substance per say, it is part of the processing conducted along the pathways of the brain utilizing induced electrical charge created by the exchange of positive and negative ions across the cell walls of neurons.

We would be better off not knowing this, and thus live our lives out as other life forms do.
I so thoroughly disagree with this that I'm not sure I understand how you could mean that. Life is a wondrous thing. We wear out a bit faster than I'd like, but I wouldn't have missed it for anything.

What if our consciousness does not reside in the brain? What if the brain processes our consciousness in such a way that allows our physical body to utilize it in the physical existence that we are in?
To pursue this question would be to depart entirely from a discussion of the text, if you want to start a thread about it, I think you'd find quite a few opinions. Personally, I think removing consciousness from the brain, poses a much bigger problem as far as explaining its nature, or origin.
percivalpecksniff
Posted: Saturday, October 29, 2011 9:40:48 AM
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One should not be put off making comments on this thread if you so wish. The notion that it is a structured discussion is pie in the sky as shown by proceedings thus far.

There can be no conclusion other than one reached on a basis of unproven premises. Nothing can be proven, and the notion that consciousness is now evolving or that man somehow existed without it at one stage cannot not be substantiated by any facts.

Consciousness is abstract and will remain so. The notion that it is possible to trace it origin through an evolutionary process is a little ridiculous.

There will be no concrete conclusion to this discussion other than pure unfounded speculation.

Jaynes made a fool of himself early on in his book when positing that humans before 1200 BCE humans were not reflectively meta-conscious, that is aware of their awareness.

When one sets out to build a building, then materials of straw will not withstand the blasts of reason. Building a conclusion on unproven premises is the same as using straw.

My only reason for interjecting at this point is the summary dismissal, and attempts to move on those who express views that contradict those of the starter of this thread.

Now I will stand back and continue to observe, since I disagree with almost all that has been posited so far in support of Jaynes. I do not like chasing the wind.
Marissa La Faye Isolde
Posted: Saturday, October 29, 2011 1:53:29 PM
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To Epiphileon: In answer to your comment to my post:

"I think the problem with consciousness for the scientific world is that it is a non physical phenomena that the five senses cannot physically grasp. Previous attempts to define it in a scientific way have failed because scientists have tried to study and explain it in a physical way.

I am curious, what previous attempts are you referring to?"

I am referring to Janes himself. He presented in the introduction of his book, The Origins of Consciousness, the eight, main, different theories of consciousness that science has held in the last few hundred years;I believe, since Darwin's theory of evolution first arose. For here is where conscious first passed from being a spiritual, philosophical awareness to a physical one. For if man evolved, so too did his consciousness. And so obviously, before man was recognized as being what we know him as being today, one has to wonder when did consciousness enter his being-- and what IS it exactly, and where is it, and why and how did it come to be? For obviously, our consciousness as human beings, as we are aware of it now, is not the same as when we were some sort of fish that crept out of the sea. Janes tells us of the history of man's thinking as it shifted to exist within the perimeters of science, and of its struggle to understand the phenomenon of consciousness within its boundaries. And he writes of the many different explanations science has used in its attempts to define and explain consciousness in the human being.

Epiphileon
Posted: Saturday, October 29, 2011 2:21:04 PM

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Okay thanks Marissa I thought perhaps you were referring to some others.
FounDit
Posted: Saturday, October 29, 2011 3:57:08 PM

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Epi, you wrote:

Well from an evolutionary point of view, that's easy, because of its huge advantage over not being conscious. Also Jaynes is attempting to discover the point at which consciousness evolved, an evolved characteristic is by default going to be a physical characteristic. Encoded energy is a physical phenomena, but it has no substance per say, it is part of the processing conducted along the pathways of the brain utilizing induced electrical charge created by the exchange of positive and negative ions across the cell walls of neurons.


Several thoughts occurred to me as I read these posts. I pulled yours out for a specific thought, however. Since "processing conducted along the pathways of the brain utilizing induced electrical charge created by the exchange of positive and negative ions across the cell walls of neurons" is the method of thought and action, has anyone yet isolated the distinct point at which one can think about movement, but not move, and then think of movement and cause the potential difference to travel down the CNS?

I'm not aware that any such point has been isolated. This, to me, seems to be the point of "will". Now, many creatures demonstrate "will" in the sense of movement. Ours is no different in that sense. The only difference between us and other creatures is what we think about. Therefore, it is our ability to examine our thoughts that makes us unique.

However, I'm not sure whether we are to discuss and offer our own ideas on consciousness, or if we are to stay with what Jaynes offers; agreeing or disagreeing with his point of view.



Epiphileon
Posted: Saturday, October 29, 2011 5:27:17 PM

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FounDit wrote:
Epi, you wrote:

Well from an evolutionary point of view, that's easy, because of its huge advantage over not being conscious. Also Jaynes is attempting to discover the point at which consciousness evolved, an evolved characteristic is by default going to be a physical characteristic. Encoded energy is a physical phenomena, but it has no substance per say, it is part of the processing conducted along the pathways of the brain utilizing induced electrical charge created by the exchange of positive and negative ions across the cell walls of neurons.


Several thoughts occurred to me as I read these posts. I pulled yours out for a specific thought, however. Since "processing conducted along the pathways of the brain utilizing induced electrical charge created by the exchange of positive and negative ions across the cell walls of neurons" is the method of thought and action, has anyone yet isolated the distinct point at which one can think about movement, but not move, and then think of movement and cause the potential difference to travel down the CNS?
I am not at all sure that I understand what your saying here, but the potential is not the signal, the potential generates the energy that is then encoded and is the actual substance of thought. But I will drop this here, but I think we will have opportunity to discuss it in other threads I hope to start.

I'm not aware that any such point has been isolated. This, to me, seems to be the point of "will". Now, many creatures demonstrate "will" in the sense of movement. Ours is no different in that sense. The only difference between us and other creatures is what we think about. Therefore, it is our ability to examine our thoughts that makes us unique.
Yes it is this very ability to introspect that is the hallmark of consciousness.

However, I'm not sure whether we are to discuss and offer our own ideas on consciousness, or if we are to stay with what Jaynes offers; agreeing or disagreeing with his point of view.
I'm sorry FounDit but a discussion of the theoretical basis of the physiology of thought would take us completely off topic, and although the introduction is fairly wide ranging, next week we will be into the primary text, and contrary to some opinion I think we have handled things fairly well thus far. I am hoping that when we get into the next bit that we stick primarily to discussing the characteristics of consciousness as Jaynes describes them. I will be making a general post along with the post of next weeks scheduled text section, to point out some of the issues I've come across since first reading Jaynes that bear directly on the issue, but my primary purpose in starting this thread is to try to get a better handle on this thing we call consciousness, what exactly do we mean by this term, in this context? What are it characteristics? And what are its behavioral manifestations, and upon what mental processes does it rely, and to what breadth of mental process may it apply? I'm not sure Jaynes will actually touch on all these, particularly the latter. Jayne's puts forth some damned interesting proposals concerning some of these issues, this I recall, but I haven't read the book in over 25 years, other than the first few paragraphs a number of times, attempting to re-motivate myself to continue the investigation in a non-formal setting. The reason I haven't is because I recall a conviction my colleagues and I came to 25 years ago, attempting to grapple with this issue by one's self, immersed within one's subjectivity, is a futile way to approach the issue, that is why I have brought it here, for the first time in 25 years there seems to be a group of people willing to discuss the issues, in a reasonable and productive way.
On the subject of issues not directly relevant to the text, I really meant what I said in one of the organizational posts leading up to this thread, start a separate thread, I would be more than happy to participate.



FounDit
Posted: Saturday, October 29, 2011 5:40:57 PM

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Right. Shouldn't have brought up the nerve conduction idea. It popped out as a result of your comment on conduction. Its one of my favorite thought games, trying to decide what initiates the action. More a topic for science and tech.

At any rate, I see what you mean.


Epiphileon
Posted: Saturday, October 29, 2011 7:26:23 PM

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Forum, I may have a problem. I live in SW New Hampshire and we are having a record breaking nor'easter snow storm, it started snowing 3 hours ago and we already have 8" of heavy wet snow. The likelihood of widespread, power outages is pretty high, I've been busy with prep, but will try to get the scheduled text posted as soon as possible in case the power goes out.
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