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"The Origin of Consciousness..." A Stuctured Book Discussion Options
leonAzul
Posted: Saturday, November 12, 2011 5:47:06 PM

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Just checking in to let you know I'm still here.

My take on this chapter is that it is as advertised: an elaborate survey of all the culs de sac that have made previous notions of consciousness untestable and unfalsifiable.

Just the same, I find myself reaching for the "get on with it" stick, and bating my desire to give Jaynes a sound drubbing therewith. Anxious

I have grown tired of word salad and long for the taste of hot soup to give me the courage to hang in there while the game is being roasted. Think
Epiphileon
Posted: Sunday, November 13, 2011 6:31:35 AM

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Thanks for letting me know there is still interest Leon, I have one more post to make regarding chapter 1, I'm working on it now.
Epiphileon
Posted: Sunday, November 13, 2011 8:44:57 AM

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Jaynes wrote:
The Location of Consciousness
The final fallacy which I wish to discuss is both important and interesting, and I have left it for the last because I think it deals the coup de grace to the everyman theory of consciousness. Where does consciousness take place?
Everyone, or almost everyone, immediately replies, in my head. This is because when we introspect, we seem to look inward on an inner space somewhere behind our eyes. But what on earth do we mean by ‘look’? We even close our eyes sometimes to introspect even more clearly. Upon what? Its spatial character seems unquestionable.



Jaynes certainly can be obtuse, it took my a while to figure out what he was saying here, it seemed at first to be contradictory but, he does make it clear that he regards consciousness as a function of the brain, so I do not think the fallacy is of location, but of physical nature, i.e. there is no actual "space" to it.
This issue is not like the others however, in every one of the previous cases some activity of the brain that actually exists, was shown to be not what consciousness is, and that many times being conscious of an activity was mistaken for being what consciousness is. This I feel is a vital distinction and one that is far too easily missed or dismissed, every other major function of the brain was well developed before consciousness showed up, consciousness in being aware of them, does not become them, nor them it. Initially consciousness is a perception and that is all, whether we come to be able to use it to effect behavior is another matter all together.

What is it? It is a perception, the perception of self, the I of mind, the experience of being an experiencing being. Is this experience occurring in some three dimensional theater of the mind? Absolutely not, so consciousness is not a "space", it is a result of the processing of signals in the brain. There is a sense in which this must be known and acknowledged by any that would pursue the issue from a natural science perspective.
But
Is this a useful distinction when attempting to investigate consciousness from the behavioral level? I strongly suspect it is not, after all it seems to be a strong characteristic of how it is experienced. But there should be absolutely no mistake about this, this spatial experience is an illusion, there is no allowance for it in the physiology of the mind/brain.

To me the most important thing to take away from this chapter is that, if we do not acknowledge the deceptions of our subjective experience of consciousness, we will never find a way around them.

leonAzul
Posted: Sunday, November 13, 2011 1:28:01 PM

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Epiphileon wrote:
Jaynes wrote:
The Location of Consciousness
The final fallacy which I wish to discuss is both important and interesting, and I have left it for the last because I think it deals the coup de grace to the everyman theory of consciousness. Where does consciousness take place?
Everyone, or almost everyone, immediately replies, in my head. This is because when we introspect, we seem to look inward on an inner space somewhere behind our eyes. But what on earth do we mean by ‘look’? We even close our eyes sometimes to introspect even more clearly. Upon what? Its spatial character seems unquestionable.



Jaynes certainly can be obtuse, it took my a while to figure out what he was saying here, it seemed at first to be contradictory but, he does make it clear that he regards consciousness as a function of the brain, so I do not think the fallacy is of location, but of physical nature, i.e. there is no actual "space" to it.
This issue is not like the others however, in every one of the previous cases some activity of the brain that actually exists, was shown to be not what consciousness is, and that many times being conscious of an activity was mistaken for being what consciousness is. This I feel is a vital distinction and one that is far too easily missed or dismissed, every other major function of the brain was well developed before consciousness showed up, consciousness in being aware of them, does not become them, nor them it. Initially consciousness is a perception and that is all, whether we come to be able to use it to effect behavior is another matter all together.

What is it? It is a perception, the perception of self, the I of mind, the experience of being an experiencing being. Is this experience occurring in some three dimensional theater of the mind? Absolutely not, so consciousness is not a "space", it is a result of the processing of signals in the brain. There is a sense in which this must be known and acknowledged by any that would pursue the issue from a natural science perspective.
But
Is this a useful distinction when attempting to investigate consciousness from the behavioral level? I strongly suspect it is not, after all it seems to be a strong characteristic of how it is experienced. But there should be absolutely no mistake about this, this spatial experience is an illusion, there is no allowance for it in the physiology of the mind/brain.

To me the most important thing to take away from this chapter is that, if we do not acknowledge the deceptions of our subjective experience of consciousness, we will never find a way around them.



I have highlighted to bring up something I feel (my opinion of Jaynes presentation) has not been completely addressed, and to suggest that perhaps Jaynes has a reason for this. I still do not get the sense that Jaynes has summarily dismissed the notion of the Observer. (For the sake of discussion I would like to introduce the term "Hypervisor", on which I shall elaborate during discussions in subsequent chapters when Jaynes introduces evidence to support or falsify it.)

Instead, I get the sense that Jaynes is leading us to a more refined and better scoped conception of consciousness as an abstract construct which is the result of the activity of a postulated physical structure in the nervous system.

The argument for the Hypervisor model is not so absurd as it might appear at first glance. If indeed it is the correct model, then all our experience, including our notions of consciousness, would be filtered through it, and the first principle of any enduring entity is self-preservation. Unless I am mistaken, all of Jaynes arguments against the Hypervisor model have amounted to little more than variations on an argument from incredulity, the hallmark of a defensive position. Furthermore, it is eminently testable, now that fMRI technology can ethically detect healthy brain activity and correlate that to specific stimuli and self-reported perceptions. This opens the opportunity to measure the timing relationship between observable behavior and reported states.

To clarify, I am not asking about the validity of the Hypervisor model per se, but whether or not I have correctly observed a special treatment of it by Jaynes.
Epiphileon
Posted: Sunday, November 13, 2011 2:39:27 PM

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leonAzul wrote:

I have highlighted to bring up something I feel (my opinion of Jaynes presentation) has not been completely addressed, and to suggest that perhaps Jaynes has a reason for this. I still do not get the sense that Jaynes has summarily dismissed the notion of the Observer.
I believe this is an accurate observation, nothing Jaynes has said thus far would entirely invalidate the helpless spectator notion.

(For the sake of discussion I would like to introduce the term "Hypervisor", on which I shall elaborate during discussions in subsequent chapters when Jaynes introduces evidence to support or falsify it.)
Having never been acquainted with computer servers enabled for multi-operating system support, I had to look this up, after reading the definition at TFD, I'm afraid I have no understanding of how you mean it to be applied here.

Instead, I get the sense that Jaynes is leading us to a more refined and better scoped conception of consciousness as an abstract construct which is the result of the activity of a postulated physical structure in the nervous system.
The argument for the Hypervisor model is not so absurd as it might appear at first glance. If indeed it is the correct model, then all our experience, including our notions of consciousness, would be filtered through it, and the first principle of any enduring entity is self-preservation. Unless I am mistaken, all of Jaynes arguments against the Hypervisor model have amounted to little more than variations on an argument from incredulity, the hallmark of a defensive position. Furthermore, it is eminently testable, now that fMRI technology can ethically detect healthy brain activity and correlate that to specific stimuli and self-reported perceptions. This opens the opportunity to measure the timing relationship between observable behavior and reported states.

To clarify, I am not asking about the validity of the Hypervisor model per se, but whether or not I have correctly observed a special treatment of it by Jaynes.

I would think the answer to this would be no, as I'm fairly sure Jaynes would have never heard of the idea, remember that at the time Jaynes did his work, computer science was still a pretty arcane discipline, practiced in controlled environments by men in white coats, with punch cards, and 14" tape reels. Hell the operating system I used on the school's computer in 1984 still had commands like "rewind,*" and the statistics programming language I used for psychometrics still had card and line numbers.

Finally, and this is assuming that I am even close to any understanding of what you meant, I would think that Jaynes supposition that consciousness may not be necessary at all would cast doubt on his proposing anything of this nature.
leonAzul
Posted: Sunday, November 13, 2011 4:50:05 PM

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Epiphileon wrote:
leonAzul wrote:


To clarify, I am not asking about the validity of the Hypervisor model per se, but whether or not I have correctly observed a special treatment of it by Jaynes.

I would think the answer to this would be no, as I'm fairly sure Jaynes would have never heard of the idea, remember that at the time Jaynes did his work, computer science was still a pretty arcane discipline, practiced in controlled environments by men in white coats, with punch cards, and 14" tape reels. Hell the operating system I used on the school's computer in 1984 still had commands like "rewind,*" and the statistics programming language I used for psychometrics still had card and line numbers.


For the moment I am merely suggesting the single word "Hypervisor" as a token for "the helpless spectator" that oversees and integrates neurological activity, no more, no less.

Yet the framework for virtual computational machines can be concretely evidenced as far back as John Napier, through a line of successive refinements to which Alan Turing had made a most notable contribution in the 1940s. As the TFD entry you have cited notes, the term "hypervisor" is attested to as early as 1965. Although Jaynes himself might not be expected to know a pentode from a potentiometer, it would not surprise me in the least that someone writing a book about models of thought in the 1970s would have been keenly interested in and aware of research and theory in the area of computer science, not that I am suggesting that he would have used this precise term, since it is obvious that he didn't.

Epiphileon wrote:

Finally, and this is assuming that I am even close to any understanding of what you meant, I would think that Jaynes supposition that consciousness may not be necessary at all would cast doubt on his proposing anything of this nature.


This is actually quite relevant to my choice of this token. I don't mean to be coy, but it would be jumping the gun to more fully elaborate at this point in the text.

Edited to include TFD links.
Epiphileon
Posted: Sunday, November 13, 2011 8:02:48 PM

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leonAzul wrote:


For the moment I am merely suggesting the single word "Hypervisor" as a token for "the helpless spectator" that oversees and integrates neurological activity, no more, no less.
Well okay but just to clarify, it seems to me that "oversees and integrates" implies action whereas, the helpless spectator is more like consciousness rides on top of all other functions and makes up nice stories for us about, why we do the things we do.

This is actually quite relevant to my choice of this token. I don't mean to be coy, but it would be jumping the gun to more fully elaborate at this point in the text.
Okay. I'm good with that, I would urge you to keep in mind though, that whatever you're leading to, must satisfy not only the behavioral manifestations of consciousness, but must fit within the constraints of the evolution of the nervous system, and mind/brain physiology.
Epiphileon
Posted: Sunday, November 13, 2011 8:10:54 PM

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Nov.13-Nov.20
Chapter 2
pages 48 thru 59.75
leonAzul
Posted: Sunday, November 13, 2011 8:32:42 PM

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Epiphileon wrote:
leonAzul wrote:


For the moment I am merely suggesting the single word "Hypervisor" as a token for "the helpless spectator" that oversees and integrates neurological activity, no more, no less.

Well okay but just to clarify, it seems to me that "oversees and integrates" implies action whereas, the helpless spectator is more like consciousness rides on top of all other functions and makes up nice stories for us about, why we do the things we do.


Yet "makes up nice stories for us about, why we do the things we do" implies action as well, no? Think
Epiphileon
Posted: Monday, November 14, 2011 4:23:46 AM

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leonAzul wrote:
Epiphileon wrote:
leonAzul wrote:


For the moment I am merely suggesting the single word "Hypervisor" as a token for "the helpless spectator" that oversees and integrates neurological activity, no more, no less.

Well okay but just to clarify, it seems to me that "oversees and integrates" implies action whereas, the helpless spectator is more like consciousness rides on top of all other functions and makes up nice stories for us about, why we do the things we do.


Yet "makes up nice stories for us about, why we do the things we do" implies action as well, no? Think


Yes, but non-directive, and after the directive action has taken place, while "oversees and integrates" seems to me to indicate real-time involvement. But like I said I don't really understand what you mean by this hypervisor, I'll wait and see.
intelfam
Posted: Monday, November 14, 2011 6:49:32 AM
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Epiphileon wrote:
leonAzul wrote:
Epiphileon wrote:
leonAzul wrote:


For the moment I am merely suggesting the single word "Hypervisor" as a token for "the helpless spectator" that oversees and integrates neurological activity, no more, no less.

Well okay but just to clarify, it seems to me that "oversees and integrates" implies action whereas, the helpless spectator is more like consciousness rides on top of all other functions and makes up nice stories for us about, why we do the things we do.


Yet "makes up nice stories for us about, why we do the things we do" implies action as well, no? Think


Yes, but non-directive, and after the directive action has taken place, while "oversees and integrates" seems to me to indicate real-time involvement. But like I said I don't really understand what you mean by this hypervisor, I'll wait and see.


Just been reading "The Blank Slate" by Stephen Pinker. He refers to this idea, quoting Freud as the mind merely being something that makes up stories to explain post hoc, our actions. Pinker talks about those who have had their corpus collosum cut, presumably for epilepsy, and refers to the experiments when one eye is shown a picture and can match up items in that visual field, but cannot do so between them - yet rationalises actions which are taken on the basis of one picture and the mismatch. If it is relevant I can give the examples he quotes. But essentially, he seems to think this story-telling is related to our attempt to support our subjective sense of (need for) continuity and integration over time.

Epiphileon
Posted: Monday, November 14, 2011 9:33:12 AM

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intelfam wrote:

Just been reading "The Blank Slate" by Stephen Pinker. He refers to this idea, quoting Freud as the mind merely being something that makes up stories to explain post hoc, our actions. Pinker talks about those who have had their corpus collosum cut, presumably for epilepsy, and refers to the experiments when one eye is shown a picture and can match up items in that visual field, but cannot do so between them - yet rationalises actions which are taken on the basis of one picture and the mismatch. If it is relevant I can give the examples he quotes. But essentially, he seems to think this story-telling is related to our attempt to support our subjective sense of (need for) continuity and integration over time.

You know Intel, you keep adding to my reading list like this, you're going to have to read some of them for me. This is another guy whose name I've come across numerous times, but hadn't gotten around to yet, I just received two books by Dennit, after you referenced him, and I read a bit about him on the web, now there are two books of Pinker's I feel obliged to read, "How the Mind Works", and "The Stuff of Thought".

The fact that he is a linguist as well is part of what compels me to check him out more thoroughly, as I've mentioned before, besides Jayne's, I have come across at least two other authoritative sources referencing the critical role of language for consciousness. This chapter by Jaynes, I hope garners a lot more discussion than the last one, these two are my primary interest in this book, although I am looking forward to reading his take on the evolution of religion, the ideas of these first two chapters are the ones I found the most fascinating originally.
Epiphileon
Posted: Monday, November 14, 2011 4:31:51 PM

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I think there are a lot of interesting points to Jaynes thinking here, there are a few that I think may be nearly completely wrong in later sections. I hope not to "throw the baby out with the bathwater" though.

From the "Metaphor and Language" section
Jaynes wrote:
For metaphor is not a mere extra trick of language,
as it is so often slighted in the old schoolbooks on composition; it
is the very constitutive ground of language.

I found this an amazing assertion when I first read it 25 years ago, and in the time since have found no reason to doubt it; however, I have had few opportunities to discuss it. I'm curious what people think of this.

Jaynes wrote:
Indeed, language is an organ of perception,
not simply a means of communication.

I think that when it comes to any sort of cognitive construct of any sort of abstract, this may be a truism; however, you do not need to have a word for angry in order to... hmmm experience it, definitely, but is that the same as perceiving it?



FounDit
Posted: Monday, November 14, 2011 5:50:15 PM

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Has Jaynes not put the cart before the horse in this scenario?

For example, if one wanted to discover when man first began using electricity, would one begin with radio or television?

It seems to me that is what he is doing. Consider a primitive human who accidentally cuts his hand on a piece of flint or obsidian. As he contemplates what just happened (perceives it), what if it occurs to him that he could use that piece to cut the hides of animals. Does he need a word for that abstract thought?

If he takes the piece and uses it, thereby demonstrating its use to others who observe, do they need language to understand?

It seems to me that language is an expression of perception, but perception does not need language to exist.

As you said, Epi, one does not need a word for anger to experience it, but to experience it is to perceive it when one possesses the ability to "see" inwardly (imagination or imaging, if you prefer), and once experienced, one would then be able to perceive it in others.

Does this make sense? I have difficulty seeing it any other way.
leonAzul
Posted: Monday, November 14, 2011 6:11:28 PM

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Epiphileon wrote:

Yes, but non-directive, and after the directive action has taken place, while "oversees and integrates" seems to me to indicate real-time involvement.


Of course there is real-time involvement. How can one speak of a spectator of an event without including the notion of the spectator being there contemporaneously with the event? The "helpless" part of it expresses the lack of interaction, or inertia on the part of the spectator.

In computer science, this is precisely the role of the Hypervisor. It does no work itself. It sets no goals nor achieves them. Its sole raison d'etre is to provide an integrated overview of the various virtual machines and their processes in order to facilitate a general running environment by communicating the states of those machines to the processes that actually determine the resource allocation and scheduling which resolves collisions and promotes cooperative function. Now you know why I thought it would be useful to have a one-word token for such a concept.

Where the analogy breaks down is that a computer Hypervisor is developed teleologically to solve a particular class of problems. I emphatically do not assert this to be the case for consciousness, and more cogently I believe that Jaynes does not do so either.

I merely wished to share what I found to be a useful token for a messy idea, and my intention to use it as such so that you all would understand me. If you find it to be a distraction, then by all means abandon it. Yet as the readings progress, I have a feeling you will share my opinion of just how apt it is.
Epiphileon
Posted: Monday, November 14, 2011 9:02:47 PM

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leonAzul wrote:
If you find it to be a distraction, then by all means abandon it. Yet as the readings progress, I have a feeling you will share my opinion of just how apt it is.


Perhaps I will, at least at this point given your explanation, I see no critical objections to the metaphor if it aids in your understanding. However I am unfamiliar with that particular metaphor so it is not useful to me at this point. Later on, perhaps even in a different thread, I will look forward to discussing this concept at length, as it is a major issue in what I see as the potentials for consciousness. One of my major reasons for this thread is to find out where common ground may exist for such discussions, as well as to understand what the hell Jaynes said in the first place, I have had to once again read and reread some sections to not just dismiss some notion out of hand, for example the section in the previous chapter where he said the location of consciousness being in the head was a fallacy. It took me a while to figure out what he meant to be saying. He can be amazingly obtuse.
Epiphileon
Posted: Monday, November 14, 2011 9:27:36 PM

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FounDit wrote:

Has Jaynes not put the cart before the horse in this scenario?
No I do not think so, as I do not think he means this is true in absolutely all cases.


It seems to me that is what he is doing. Consider a primitive human who accidentally cuts his hand on a piece of flint or obsidian. As he contemplates what just happened (perceives it), what if it occurs to him that he could use that piece to cut the hides of animals. Does he need a word for that abstract thought?

If he takes the piece and uses it, thereby demonstrating its use to others who observe, do they need language to understand?
Well it would depend what you mean by understand, this was a point I was going to mention, that is about levels of understanding. There are many skills that can be trained with no necessity of understanding how they work.
Besides that there are monkeys that teach each other primitive tool use without language, but I believe this is classed as mimicry and does not require understanding.


It seems to me that language is an expression of perception, but perception does not need language to exist.
"inalienable rights", is this not purely an abstract concept, impossible without language?

As you said, Epi, one does not need a word for anger to experience it, but to experience it is to perceive it when one possesses the ability to "see" inwardly (imagination or imaging, if you prefer), and once experienced, one would then be able to perceive it in others.

Quote:
I think that when it comes to any sort of cognitive construct of any sort of abstract, this may be a truism; however, you do not need to have a word for angry in order to... hmmm experience it, definitely, but is that the same as perceiving it?

What I was thinking here was about the contrast between more modern vs more ancient brain behaviors, anger is an emotion, and to experience it certainly does not require language.


Does this make sense? I have difficulty seeing it any other way.
Some of the difficulty may be in Jaynes writing style.
leonAzul
Posted: Monday, November 14, 2011 10:57:33 PM

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Epiphileon wrote:

Besides that there are monkeys that teach each other primitive tool use without language, but I believe this is classed as mimicry and does not require understanding.


This is one of the key arguments that falsifies the idea that consciousness is a prerequisite to the learning or acquisition of skills. I agree that you are reading Jaynes correctly and that he has made his case.
Ray41
Posted: Tuesday, November 15, 2011 12:04:39 AM

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I am struggling to keep up with the way this 'debate' is being constructed,(or the way Jaynes has?), as to be quite honest, it is way beyond my comprehension.

One question that begs an answer is if,as Epi wrote:
Besides that there are monkeys that teach each other primitive tool use without language, but I believe this is classed as mimicry and does not require understanding.

And leon replied
This is one of the key arguments that 'falsifies the idea that consciousness is a prerequisite to the learning or acquisition of skills'. I agree that you are reading Jaynes correctly and that he has made his case.


As babies, we also learn, initially at least, by 'mimicry'. So, at what age do we/would we acquire consciousnessThink Is it when we first acquire and understand language?
FounDit
Posted: Tuesday, November 15, 2011 2:03:45 AM

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Ray41 wrote:
I am struggling to keep up with the way this 'debate' is being constructed,(or the way Jaynes has?), as to be quite honest, it is way beyond my comprehension.

One question that begs an answer is if,as Epi wrote:
Besides that there are monkeys that teach each other primitive tool use without language, but I believe this is classed as mimicry and does not require understanding.

And leon replied
This is one of the key arguments that 'falsifies the idea that consciousness is a prerequisite to the learning or acquisition of skills'. I agree that you are reading Jaynes correctly and that he has made his case.


As babies, we also learn, initially at least, by 'mimicry'. So, at what age do we/would we acquire consciousnessThink Is it when we first acquire and understand language?



I'm using your post, Ray, because it contains most of the elements I wanted to address.

Like you, I was getting confused about why I couldn't seem to get anywhere with my arguments. It was if we were talking about two different things. Then it hit me; we were!

I have been focused on the Origin of consciousness; how it might have began or come into existence; what that early stage might have been like. It seems, however, the subject is a definition of consciousness itself. I don't know how I missed that for so long. I think it was when we got off onto spirituality and religion, way back there.

The ""inalienable rights" idea revealed the fact that we are not talking beginnings, but present.

Now the monkeys that teach by mimicry are, if I understand leonA correctly, proof that consciousness isn't necessary for learning or acquisition of skills. So why are we not living on a Planet of the Apes?

To your question, Ray, about when we first acquire consciousness: how can we understand language if we do not first have the capacity to understand how a sound can represent a thing? Would that not in itself constitute a capacity for consciousness? Mimicry would be severely limited in accomplishing that.

I go back to my original assertion, however, that language is the expression of consciousness, but consciousness is not dependent on language for existence. I believe language could not exist without consciousness. That belief, however, flies in the face of what Jaynes believes, and would have us believe also.



leonAzul
Posted: Tuesday, November 15, 2011 2:44:06 AM

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Ray41 wrote:

As babies, we also learn, initially at least, by 'mimicry'. So, at what age do we/would we acquire consciousnessThink Is it when we first acquire and understand language?


Hold that thought. As Jaynes says about the origin of consciousness, "That problem we shall come to in Book II." (p 58)
leonAzul
Posted: Tuesday, November 15, 2011 2:55:43 AM

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FounDit wrote:

Now the monkeys that teach by mimicry are, if I understand leonA correctly, proof that consciousness isn't necessary for learning or acquisition of skills. So why are we not living on a Planet of the Apes?


At this point in the text we can only speculate as to what Jaynes would answer to that.

Yet from what you know, humans are a different sort of ape from the others. How do you know this?

By looking. Think
Epiphileon
Posted: Tuesday, November 15, 2011 4:46:01 AM

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Ray41 wrote:

As babies, we also learn, initially at least, by 'mimicry'. So, at what age do we/would we acquire consciousnessThink Is it when we first acquire and understand language?


Well I can assure you of one thing, we are not born that way, talk about PTSD. A lot of developmentalists put it at about two, there are of course individual differences to be taken into account. Personally I'd put it a bit later, but on average by four years old on the outside. Language acquisition is currently high on the list of precursors for consciousness among a number of prominent investigators.

As Jayne's finally points out, he is not proceeding in a normal stepwise progression of his argument, but attempting to arrange a number of ideas to be entertained, that all pertain to his idea. The section on language as metaphor, taken by its self, I think is pretty straight forward, as he steps through an exhaustive list of metaphors, it is pretty clear that language has developed that way.

I do have problems with the next section though, and am taking the book to work this morning to read that section a few more times before posting on it later this morning. I do recommend taking one section at a time though and reading it, or discussing it until you understand what Jayne's is saying, like I said the section on "The Location of Consciousness" had me completely baffled for a while, and this is the second time I've read this book.
Epiphileon
Posted: Tuesday, November 15, 2011 5:05:21 AM

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FounDit wrote:
Now the monkeys that teach by mimicry are, if I understand leonA correctly, proof that consciousness isn't necessary for learning or acquisition of skills. So why are we not living on a Planet of the Apes?

This is a complete aside FounDit, but I really couldn't resist.
What makes you think we're not? I find no conclusive evidence that we have yet to win the race for human as a species.


FounDit wrote:
I go back to my original assertion, however, that language is the expression of consciousness, but consciousness is not dependent on language for existence. I believe language could not exist without consciousness. That belief, however, flies in the face of what Jaynes believes, and would have us believe also.

Perhaps if you do not see Jaynes book as an attempt to change your mind, but only entertain the notions. What does he say, and what does it mean, these are the primary goals I hoped to achieve, while discussing the implications held for the future, except perhaps where it is useful to clearing away some of his fogginess.
Ray41
Posted: Tuesday, November 15, 2011 6:53:46 AM

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If I make a comment it is based on what is being posted. I am 'not reading Jaynes' as I not only could not get my head around what I did read, [found it confusing,] but, it is also a bit like a foreign language to me!

Also, I found myself at odds with what I did read, sort of defies my logic.Think

So, I am following the thread and seeing if I can put the jigsaw puzzle together by using all the other posters analysis/insights/comments/interpretations in 'your' posts.Shhh

Oops, just spent an hour on the phone talking to my son so had best get this finished.

Question Epi,quote, re: Well I can assure you of one thing, we are not born that way, talk about PTSD.

What is PTSD meant to be?


Told you I don't speak the lingo.Eh?
leonAzul
Posted: Tuesday, November 15, 2011 8:21:06 AM

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Epiphileon wrote:

Well I can assure you of one thing, we are not born that way, talk about PTSD.


"PTSD" usually refers to "post traumatic stress disorder". Whether or not that is what you intended, would you please clarify how that relates to the development of consciousness in human children.
Epiphileon
Posted: Tuesday, November 15, 2011 8:49:30 AM

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leonAzul wrote:
Epiphileon wrote:

Well I can assure you of one thing, we are not born that way, talk about PTSD.


"PTSD" usually refers to "post traumatic stress disorder". Whether or not that is what you intended, would you please clarify how that relates to the development of consciousness in human children.


Yes it does, what I meant is, if we were conscious during the birthing process it would result in a massive case of PTSD.
leonAzul
Posted: Tuesday, November 15, 2011 9:00:06 AM

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As I often do when reading something closely, I have been making notes of key passages as I read and re-read each section. I'd like to offer my "study notes" as a possible synopsis for this week's discussion. (Page numbers in parentheses refer to the actual page of the PDF version vs the relative page.)


Jaynes wrote:
//48 (54)
There are thus
always two terms in a metaphor, the thing to be described, which
I shall call the metaphrand, and the thing or relation used to
elucidate it, which I shall call the metaphier.


//50 (56)
We understand the brain by metaphors to
everything from batteries and telegraphy to computers and holo-
grams.

//52 (58)
Understanding a thing is to
arrive at a metaphor for that thing by substituting something
more familiar to us. And the feeling of familiarity is the feeling
of understanding.

//53 (59)
A theory is thus a metaphor between a model and data. And
understanding in science is the feeling of similarity between
complicated data and a familiar model.

//54 (60)
An analog is a model, but a
model of a special kind. It is not like a scientific model, whose
source may be anything at all and whose purpose is to act as an
hypothesis of explanation or understanding. Instead, an analog
is at every point generated by the thing it is an analog of. A map
is a good example. It is not a model in the scientific sense, not a
hypothetical model like the Bohr atom to explain something un-
known. Instead, it is constructed from something well known, if
not completely known.

//55 (61)
Subjective conscious mind is an analog of what is called the
real world. It is built up with a vocabulary or lexical field whose
terms are all metaphors or analogs of behavior in the physical
world. Its reality is of the same order as mathematics. It allows
us to shortcut behavioral processes and arrive at more adequate
decisions. Like mathematics, it is an operator rather than a thing
or repository. And it is intimately bound up with volition and
decision.

//56 (62)
There are also at the
bottom of most complex metaphors various associations or attri-
butes of the metaphier which I am going to call paraphiers. And
these paraphiers project back into the metaphrand as what I
shall call the paraphrands of the metaphrand.

//59 (65)
Consciousness is the metaphrand
when it is being generated by the paraphrands of our verbal
expressions. But the functioning of consciousness is, as it were,
the return journey. Consciousness becomes the metaphier full of
our past experience, constantly and selectively operating on such
unknowns as future actions, decisions, and partly remembered
pasts, on what we are and yet may be. And it is by the generated
structure of consciousness that we then understand the world.

To this point I recognize an exposition of observations that are claimed to be relevant, definitions that are claimed to be useful, and finally an hypothesis for further examination.

edited to improve formatting
Epiphileon
Posted: Tuesday, November 15, 2011 9:03:42 AM

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FounDit pardon me, I did not mean to indicate that we could not say that Jaynes is wrong about something. I realized what I said could be taken that way as I drove away from the house this morning. What I meant was that I would prefer that we show where he is wrong without reference to alternative theories. I'm going to start working on a post right no matter how hard I've tried I can't quite wrap my head around his assertions in the "Understanding as Metaphor" section, and no matter what allowances I try to make there is a section where he states something I think is plain out and out wrong.
I try to be careful when posting a five o'clock in the morning but don't always pull it off.
leonAzul
Posted: Tuesday, November 15, 2011 9:32:23 AM

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Location: Miami, Florida, United States
Epiphileon wrote:
leonAzul wrote:
Epiphileon wrote:

Well I can assure you of one thing, we are not born that way, talk about PTSD.


"PTSD" usually refers to "post traumatic stress disorder". Whether or not that is what you intended, would you please clarify how that relates to the development of consciousness in human children.


Yes it does, what I meant is, if we were conscious during the birthing process it would result in a massive case of PTSD.


Oh my! Perhaps that explains why we cry so much those first few months. Dancing
leonAzul
Posted: Tuesday, November 15, 2011 10:56:45 AM

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Ray41 wrote:
If I make a comment it is based on what is being posted. I am 'not reading Jaynes' as I not only could not get my head around what I did read, [found it confusing,] but, it is also a bit like a foreign language to me!

Also, I found myself at odds with what I did read, sort of defies my logic.Think


While re-reading both the text and your comments, I had some thoughts of my own which I hope you find relevant and helpful.

As it happens, I was attending university during the period when Jaynes was writing this book. While I have no intentions of asserting any sort of supernatural notions of Zeitgeist or "synchronicity", there is no denying that contemporaries within the same society have the opportunity to share similar cultural experiences and the same historical events, leading to shared references, although certainly not the same opinions or even perspectives.

Especially during some of the more cringe-worthy examples of exceptionally purple prose, I am more and more reminded of the context in which Jaynes was writing, who his target readership was, and the impact all that has had on my own writing. I find myself experiencing some rather intense flashbacks, as it were, and taking note of numerous opportunities for improvement. Anxious

It was a time of conscious re-assessment of the relationships between tradition and scientific method, with particular interest in the (more or less) critical examination of non-European cultures, speculative modes of thinking, and what possible relevance they might have to modern society. Some things haven't changed all that much. Yet even though I was in the center of that cyclone, so to speak, I share your sense of alienation from it at this remove, and can only wonder how odd Jaynes' style must seem to someone who wasn't there.

I'm tempted to seek out an audiobook version to see if it doesn't sound more approachable as a lecture series rather than as a textbook.

Sorry if this is a distraction.

Robert Hunter, Phil Lesh wrote:

It's just a box of rain
I don't know who put it there
Believe it if you need it
or leave it if you dare
FounDit
Posted: Tuesday, November 15, 2011 12:03:27 PM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 9/19/2011
Posts: 14,069
Neurons: 67,008
Epi:
Using Jaynes’s definitions, I have attempted to simplify the points you posted. This is how I read them. Does everyone else read them similarly, or is there a divergence of opinion on his meaning?

Jaynes wrote:
//48 (54)
There are thus
always two terms in a metaphor, the thing to be described, which
I shall call the metaphrand, and the thing or relation used to
elucidate it, which I shall call the metaphier.

Metaphrand=the thing described
Metaphier=comparison used to describe it


//50 (56)
We understand the brain by metaphors to
everything from batteries and telegraphy to computers and holo-
grams.

We understand the brain by comparing it to other things like computers and holograms=metaphors


//52 (58)
Understanding a thing is to
arrive at a metaphor for that thing by substituting something
more familiar to us. And the feeling of familiarity is the feeling
of understanding.

Metaphors give us understanding by using comparisons

//53 (59)
A theory is thus a metaphor between a model and data. And
understanding in science is the feeling of similarity between
complicated data and a familiar model.

We understand because we use a model that is familiar

//54 (60)
An analog is a model, but a
model of a special kind. It is not like a scientific model, whose
source may be anything at all and whose purpose is to act as an
hypothesis of explanation or understanding. Instead, an analog
is at every point generated by the thing it is an analog of. A map
is a good example. It is not a model in the scientific sense, not a
hypothetical model like the Bohr atom to explain something un-
known. Instead, it is constructed from something well known, if
not completely known.

So if we compare consciousness to something we know, it is an analog, and will help us understand it.


//55 (61)
Subjective conscious mind is an analog of what is called the
real world. It is built up with a vocabulary or lexical field whose
terms are all metaphors or analogs of behavior in the physical
world. Its reality is of the same order as mathematics. It allows
us to shortcut behavioral processes and arrive at more adequate
decisions. Like mathematics, it is an operator rather than a thing
or repository. And it is intimately bound up with volition and
decision.

Consciousness is an analog of the real world. It consists of vocabulary which similarly describes the real world. Vocabulary is to the real world as a map is to the real world. However, consciousness is an operator; the “will” or “volition”.

//56 (62)
There are also at the
bottom of most complex metaphors various associations or attri-
butes of the metaphier which I am going to call paraphiers. And
these paraphiers project back into the metaphrand as what I
shall call the paraphrands of the metaphrand.

When referring to a thing described (the metaphor), the descriptors (metaphiers) have attributes called words (paraphiers). These words project back into the thing described as descriptions (paraphrands) of the thing described (the metaphor).

Simply put, we use words to describe things in the real world.

//59 (65)
Consciousness is the metaphrand
when it is being generated by the paraphrands of our verbal
expressions. But the functioning of consciousness is, as it were,
the return journey. Consciousness becomes the metaphier full of
our past experience, constantly and selectively operating on such
unknowns as future actions, decisions, and partly remembered
pasts, on what we are and yet may be. And it is by the generated
structure of consciousness that we then understand the world.

Consciousness (the thing to be described) is generated by the verbal descriptions of our verbal expressions.

But the functioning of consciousness is, as it were, the return journey. (It doubles back onto itself; see next point.)


Consciousness becomes the Metaphier (comparison used to describe something) being full of our past experience, constantly….etc. It is by this generated structure of consciousness we understand the world.

So consciousness is not only the thing to be described, but also the means by which we describe it.

Simply put, consciousness is an operator that is constantly comparing our accumulated experiences, ideations and projections into the future, etc, to the world outside our body.

This results in requiring language for consciousness.




As an aside:

Yes it does, what I meant is, if we were conscious during the birthing process it would result in a massive case of PTSD.

I have long believed the birth event IS a traumatic event in our lives that lays a foundation upon which all else is built, leading to many of the problems in human experience. This would probably make a fascinating topic for another thread.
leonAzul
Posted: Tuesday, November 15, 2011 2:43:13 PM

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FounDit wrote:

Jaynes wrote:
//48 (54)
There are thus
always two terms in a metaphor, the thing to be described, which
I shall call the metaphrand, and the thing or relation used to
elucidate it, which I shall call the metaphier.

Metaphrand=the thing described
Metaphier=comparison used to describe it


I would say that the metaphier is a concept with more or less known characteristics that is compared to a new thing; the metaphier is not the comparison itself but rather one of two things being compared

FounDit wrote:

Jaynes wrote:
//50 (56)
We understand the brain by metaphors to
everything from batteries and telegraphy to computers and holo-
grams.

We understand the brain by comparing it to other things like computers and holograms=metaphors


We apply our conceptions of computers and holograms as metaphiers in the creation of metaphors for the brain as a metaphrand.

FounDit wrote:

Jaynes wrote:
//52 (58)
Understanding a thing is to
arrive at a metaphor for that thing by substituting something
more familiar to us. And the feeling of familiarity is the feeling
of understanding.

Metaphors give us understanding by using comparisons



A feeling of understanding something strange is achieved by creating a feeling of familiarity with it by using the process of metaphor to associate it with something with which we are already familiar.


FounDit wrote:

Jaynes wrote:
//53 (59)
A theory is thus a metaphor between a model and data. And
understanding in science is the feeling of similarity between
complicated data and a familiar model.

We understand because we use a model that is familiar

and the familiar model fits the data well.

FounDit wrote:

Jaynes wrote:
//54 (60)
An analog is a model, but a
model of a special kind. It is not like a scientific model, whose
source may be anything at all and whose purpose is to act as an
hypothesis of explanation or understanding. Instead, an analog
is at every point generated by the thing it is an analog of. A map
is a good example. It is not a model in the scientific sense, not a
hypothetical model like the Bohr atom to explain something un-
known. Instead, it is constructed from something well known, if
not completely known.

So if we compare consciousness to something we know, it is an analog, and will help us understand it.



Come on, FounDit, you're not even trying. Drool

An analog is a special type of model that is explicitly generated from the thing it represents. When applied in a metaphor, an analog implies an organic tautology between metaphier and metaphrand regardless of the completeness of the representation.

FounDit wrote:

Jaynes wrote:
//55 (61)
Subjective conscious mind is an analog of what is called the
real world. It is built up with a vocabulary or lexical field whose
terms are all metaphors or analogs of behavior in the physical
world. Its reality is of the same order as mathematics. It allows
us to shortcut behavioral processes and arrive at more adequate
decisions. Like mathematics, it is an operator rather than a thing
or repository. And it is intimately bound up with volition and
decision.

Consciousness is an analog of the real world. It consists of vocabulary which similarly describes the real world. Vocabulary is to the real world as a map is to the real world. However, consciousness is an operator; the “will” or “volition”.



This is the "money shot", as it were.

Words are used as elements in the creation of models that more or less correspond to events. Such models facilitate decision making and willful action. Subjective consciousness is postulated as the analog which operates on data in the service of evaluation and volition.

FounDit wrote:

Jaynes wrote:
//56 (62)
There are also at the
bottom of most complex metaphors various associations or attri-
butes of the metaphier which I am going to call paraphiers. And
these paraphiers project back into the metaphrand as what I
shall call the paraphrands of the metaphrand.

When referring to a thing described (the metaphor), the descriptors (metaphiers) have attributes called words (paraphiers). These words project back into the thing described as descriptions (paraphrands) of the thing described (the metaphor).

Simply put, we use words to describe things in the real world.


In addition to the direct comparison a metaphor creates between a metaphier and a metaphrand, the respective attributes and elements of each, called paraphiers and paraphrands, are also brought into a relationship that enriches the metaphor. The use of language is not relevant to the discussion at this point.

FounDit wrote:

Jaynes wrote:
//59 (65)
Consciousness is the metaphrand
when it is being generated by the paraphrands of our verbal
expressions. But the functioning of consciousness is, as it were,
the return journey. Consciousness becomes the metaphier full of
our past experience, constantly and selectively operating on such
unknowns as future actions, decisions, and partly remembered
pasts, on what we are and yet may be. And it is by the generated
structure of consciousness that we then understand the world.

Consciousness (the thing to be described) is generated by the verbal descriptions of our verbal expressions.

But the functioning of consciousness is, as it were, the return journey. (It doubles back onto itself; see next point.)


Consciousness becomes the Metaphier (comparison used to describe something) being full of our past experience, constantly….etc. It is by this generated structure of consciousness we understand the world.

So consciousness is not only the thing to be described, but also the means by which we describe it.

Simply put, consciousness is an operator that is constantly comparing our accumulated experiences, ideations and projections into the future, etc, to the world outside our body.



Despite Jaynes' peculiar style of discourse, which I am almost embarrassed to admit I recognize all too well, you have arrived relatively unscathed. Please forgive me when I pick this one remaining nit.

FounDit wrote:

This results in requiring language for consciousness.



This is not a bad paraphrase, yet for the sake of discussion we need to be a little more precise or we shall lose the chain of evidence and inference.

Language is required because it is the stuff of which consciousness creates an analog of reality, similar to the way that ink is required to make a map of the land — or so Jaynes claims.

Please forgive me if I seem to be picking on you or pretending to some sort of authority. I only intend to share my perceptions, and fully expect — no, I demand — the same level of scrutiny as we together attempt to peel away the rhetoric and get to the meat of the matter.

Jaynes has seemingly quite intentionally gone out of his way to structure the presentation of his thesis like a mathematical postulate, with flowery language that would make a poet faint and rhetorical devices that would make a sophist blush, as if to create an allegory of the marriage between metaphor and science. The task before us is to call his bluff.
Epiphileon
Posted: Tuesday, November 15, 2011 4:15:48 PM

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Posts: 4,282
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FounDit wrote:

Consciousness becomes the Metaphier (comparison used to describe something) being full of our past experience, constantly….etc. It is by this generated structure of consciousness we understand the world.

So consciousness is not only the thing to be described, but also the means by which we describe it.

Simply put, consciousness is an operator that is constantly comparing our accumulated experiences, ideations and projections into the future, etc, to the world outside our body.

This results in requiring language for consciousness.


That was Leon's post FounDit, and I can't comment on this yet, as I am stuck and have only now been able to return to the post that concerns where. I will probably have it up in a while.
leonAzul
Posted: Tuesday, November 15, 2011 6:02:38 PM

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I have a few questions of my own, and to be honest, FounDit, it's not so much that I think you were wrong in your interpretations, just that you were slightly jumping the gun due to Jaynes presentation. He's been dropping hints like a hussy doing the hanky-panky, to introduce a robust metaphor of my own.

Take this gem, for example:

Jaynes wrote:
//52 (58)
The lexicon of language, then, is a finite set of terms that by
metaphor is able to stretch out over an infinite set of circum-
stances, even to creating new circumstances thereby.
(Could consciousness be such a new creation?)


Wherever did you get the idea that consciousness emerges from recursive lexical metaphor creating "new circumstances"? Think

So far I have been willing to grant a certain poetic license during illustrative material while Jaynes set the stage for his presentation, but this crucial passage is too redolent of Bloviating Speciosity to pass without comment:

Jaynes wrote:
//50 (56)
This is language moving out synchronically (or without refer-
ence to time) into the space of the world to describe it and
perceive it more and more definitively. But language also moves
in another and more important way, diachronically, or through
time, and behind our experiences on the basis of aptic structures
in our nervous systems to create abstract concepts whose refer-
ents are not observables except in a metaphorical sense. And
these too are generated by metaphor. This is indeed the nub
(knob), heart, pith, kernel, core, marrow, etc. of my argument,
which itself is a metaphor and ‘seen’ only with the mind’s ‘eye’.


Jaynes himself claims that this is a crucial point in his thesis, yet without warning or apology he arbitrarily redefines words with what could only charitably be described as a felonious abuse of language and propriety.

The word "synchronically" most certainly does not mean "without reference to time" but rather "relating to a specific time" (etymologically, "same time"). It connotes events or instances anchored to a specific time that are coincidentally related to other events at that time — for example the interpretation of a particular word or phrase within a given context.

The word "diachronically" is indeed used in contrast to "synchronically", and the elaboration "through time" is not so egregious, yet "across time" would be more to the point. It connotes events that are sequentially (historically) linked, such as the evolving meaning of a word or token.

If this is the sum and substance of his argument, then any hint of equivocation has doomed the defense of his thesis. Given his diligently proactive defense against equivocation through the reasonably well defined terms "aptic", "metaphier", "paraphrand", et al., perhaps this was just a brain fart, and we can wish him a speedy recovery, with a properly articulate and testable formulation of his thesis to come some time later in the book.

The otherwise master debater comes across as a tosser of word salad in this paragraph.

Or have I misread this?
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