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"The Origin of Consciousness..." A Stuctured Book Discussion Options
leonAzul
Posted: Sunday, November 20, 2011 7:52:07 PM

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Epiphileon wrote:
LOL sorry I didn't know.


Entr'acte, whenever you feel mischievous and have a hankering for a classic flame war, begin a thread on the topic of whether Mathematics is created or discovered, grab a bag of popcorn, and enjoy the show.

The sheer ferocity with which partisans of either side express their positions is inexplicable. I have witnessed this on a number of bulletin boards, newsgroups, email lists, and web forums. With few exceptions—those that are explicitly associated with academic courses—the result is so predictable as to be postulated as a law of (human) nature. (Fortunately I have never witnessed this in a pub; one shudders to contemplate the potential for mayhem if darts and bottles were to hand.)

The only good that ever comes of it is that amidst the squabbling there are sometimes a few who have a genuine interest in the question, state their position dispassionately, recognize the value of the opposing view, thank their adversary for an excellent discussion, and even find their own positions better located.

But all that speaks little to the entertainment value of such threads. I must admit that my metaphorical skills have been greatly embiggened by such discourse, although not in a way which I would care to share with my mother. Whistle
leonAzul
Posted: Sunday, November 20, 2011 9:30:28 PM

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Epiphileon wrote:
Sorry these replies are coming at the 11th hour, I had a nightmare of a system crash yesterday.

Sorry to hear of it, hope you have recovered gracefully.

Epiphileon wrote:

leonAzul wrote:
{The illusion comes not from a deficiency in the analog created in the brain of an optical event, but rather in the subsequent interpretation of it.}

This is not at all the case in the example of Mach Bands, the illusion occurs at the level of the retina, at a purely psychophysics level. Visual input from external reality undergoes at least a dozen more transformations to the raw signal of the upsidedown, backwards, out of focus, and shaking, image on the back of the eye, before the first chance of any type of interpretation occurs. Before even it makes its contribution to the amazing virtual reality that is constructed within the mind/brain, which is the actual incredibly accurate, analog of the real world that we conduct ourselves within.

With all due respect, this is more properly referred to as "bias" or "filtering" in the registration (recording) process. Please remind me to refer back to this point at the dénouement of this thread.

[As an aside, please explain why you have quoted matter which I have editorially {struck off}.]

Epiphileon wrote:

This is the point I am saying is critical, that this entire construct is within the head, yes it is indeed a pretty accurate analog, BUT it is a subjective construct, one that consciousness has absolutely nothing to do with constructing, and that it is this virtual "real world" that is the operating area of the recursive lexical metaphor dynamic.


If by "within the head" you mean "neurologically evidenced activity", then I can go for that.
Epiphileon
Posted: Monday, November 21, 2011 3:28:28 AM

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leonAzul wrote:

Epiphileon wrote:

leonAzul wrote:
{The illusion comes not from a deficiency in the analog created in the brain of an optical event, but rather in the subsequent interpretation of it.}

This is not at all the case in the example of Mach Bands, the illusion occurs at the level of the retina, at a purely psychophysics level. Visual input from external reality undergoes at least a dozen more transformations to the raw signal of the upsidedown, backwards, out of focus, and shaking, image on the back of the eye, before the first chance of any type of interpretation occurs. Before even it makes its contribution to the amazing virtual reality that is constructed within the mind/brain, which is the actual incredibly accurate, analog of the real world that we conduct ourselves within.

With all due respect, this is more properly referred to as "bias" or "filtering" in the registration (recording) process. Please remind me to refer back to this point at the dénouement of this thread.
Epiphileon wrote:
Actually the signal splitting and recombination that occurs at the optic chiasm is something more than either of those but, the underlined portion above is the primary point, the recreation of the external world, somehow within the signaling and architecture of the brain.


[As an aside, please explain why you have quoted matter which I have editorially {struck off}.]
Epiphileon wrote:
I didn't know the significance of {}, and the comment seemed to indicate that I am still not making myself clear on this point.



Epiphileon wrote:

This is the point I am saying is critical, that this entire construct is within the head, yes it is indeed a pretty accurate analog, BUT it is a subjective construct, one that consciousness has absolutely nothing to do with constructing, and that it is this virtual "real world" that is the operating area of the recursive lexical metaphor dynamic.


If by "within the head" you mean "neurologically evidenced activity", then I can go for that.

Epiphileon wrote:
Yes it must be, as there are no theaters in the brain, and yet we have this picture. As far as I know, we still do no know how it is done exactly, besides consciousness it is probably the most amazing brain feat ever. The point is that the "real world" Jaynes keeps referring to isn't, it is a reconstruction of the "real world" inside the brain.
leonAzul
Posted: Monday, November 21, 2011 5:31:05 PM

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Epiphileon wrote:
Actually the signal splitting and recombination that occurs at the optic chiasm is something more than either of those but, the underlined portion above is the primary point, the recreation of the external world, somehow within the signaling and architecture of the brain.


We're both right, but I'm quibbling about the meaning of "illusion", so I apologize for that.
RubyMoon
Posted: Wednesday, November 23, 2011 1:03:43 PM
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For your consideration/interest... or not.

A contribution:
http://youtu.be/rbIBHTPQ760
leonAzul
Posted: Wednesday, November 23, 2011 7:16:54 PM

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RubyMoon wrote:
For your consideration/interest... or not.

A contribution:
http://youtu.be/rbIBHTPQ760


Thank you, I think. That was special. ;-)

Applause


[image not available]

Dancing
leonAzul
Posted: Wednesday, November 23, 2011 10:44:51 PM

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Jaynes wrote:

//66 (72)
But I hope I have sketched
out with some plausibility that the notion of consciousness as a
metaphor-generated model of the world leads to some quite
definite deductions, and that these deductions are testable in our
own everyday conscious experience.


There it is. As another wise guy once wrote, "Necessity is the mother of this invention."

One could cynically conclude that this entire excercise in formulating a working hypothesis was for the sole purpose of futhering Jaynes larger agenda of supporting his views concerning the historical emergence of consciousness.

Yet it seems to me that something far more significant has taken place. While he still hasn't formally postulated a definitive theory of consciousness with empirical validation, he has given us a well-argued framework for the discourse, along with testable predictions that would arise from the assumption of his notion of consciousness.

This is huge.

Earlier in the thread I noted that I was not directly familiar with the work of Edelman, and so I have gotten a copy of a recent book of his, A Universe of Consciousness: How Matter Becomes Imagination. So far, I have only read the introductory material and the first chapter, not wishing to confuse myself during our present discussion. Yet I couldn't fail to notice that according to the table of contents Edelman presents the topic in almost exactly the same way that Jaynes did 30 years earlier.

This suggests to me that even with the additional evidence that has accumulated in 3 decades, Jaynes was on the right track.
Marissa La Faye Isolde
Posted: Wednesday, November 23, 2011 10:53:49 PM
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Thank you Ruby. Very interesting. Something I need to think about more.
Epiphileon
Posted: Thursday, November 24, 2011 5:32:15 AM

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leonAzul wrote:
Jaynes wrote:

//66 (72)
But I hope I have sketched
out with some plausibility that the notion of consciousness as a
metaphor-generated model of the world leads to some quite
definite deductions, and that these deductions are testable in our
own everyday conscious experience.


There it is. As another wise guy once wrote, "Necessity is the mother of this invention."

One could cynically conclude that this entire excercise in formulating a working hypothesis was for the sole purpose of futhering Jaynes larger agenda of supporting his views concerning the historical emergence of consciousness.

Epiphileion wrote:
While one could, I think one would be in error, although at times Jaynes displays some of the aberrant tendencies of a cloistered academic, I have never seen any evidence to indicate he at anytime compromised his scientific integrity.


Yet it seems to me that something far more significant has taken place. While he still hasn't formally postulated a definitive theory of consciousness with empirical validation, he has given us a well-argued framework for the discourse, along with testable predictions that would arise from the assumption of his notion of consciousness.

This is huge.
Epiphileion wrote:
Thank you for the validation Leon, I have long maintained that the first third of this book was a major step in the study of consciousness, and had many people who had read nothing more than other peoples reviews, tell me that Jaynes was just a hack. I know what my objections are, to what I remember of his bicameralism theory, as well as what I thought rather compelling, I'm looking forward to how those hold up over the rest of this reading/discussion.


Earlier in the thread I noted that I was not directly familiar with the work of Edelman, and so I have gotten a copy of a recent book of his, A Universe of Consciousness: How Matter Becomes Imagination. So far, I have only read the introductory material and the first chapter, not wishing to confuse myself during our present discussion. Yet I couldn't fail to notice that according to the table of contents Edelman presents the topic in almost exactly the same way that Jaynes did 30 years earlier.

This suggests to me that even with the additional evidence that has accumulated in 3 decades, Jaynes was on the right track.
Epiphileion wrote:
Wow, how cool, as I said earlier in the thread I was beginning to suspect there was an analogous relationship between the behavioral level as described by Jaynes, and the physiological level as described by Edelman, but I must admit to getting bogged down in "The Remembered Present", which is fairly technical, is "A Universe of Consciousness:..." a less peer, or advanced student, oriented book?

I'm afraid I'm quite behind on the reading this week, reinstating a functional operating system on my machine has taken all my free time.

leonAzul
Posted: Thursday, November 24, 2011 9:41:15 AM

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Epiphileion wrote:
Wow, how cool, as I said earlier in the thread I was beginning to suspect there was an analogous relationship between the behavioral level as described by Jaynes, and the physiological level as described by Edelman, but I must admit to getting bogged down in "The Remembered Present", which is fairly technical, is "A Universe of Consciousness:..." a less peer, or advanced student, oriented book?


It appears to be written for the educated layperson or specialist in other fields. Given that Jaynes' book is written for a similar readership but separated by almost exactly three decades, I thought it would make a good contrast.

What is interesting is that, like Jaynes' Origin, Edelman starts with a brief history of major theories, points out their short comings, and proceeds with a behavioral and functional examination of consciousness. (I stopped reading more to differences in terminology than in actual arguments because the similarity was starting to confuse me.) He doesn't get around to discussing the neurological substrate of consciousness until almost two-thirds of the way into the book, just as Jaynes has postponed completing the discussion of "aptic structures" until later. So I don't really know how technical it will get nor where the two diverge, yet it is striking how little the general approach has changed in all that time.
Epiphileon
Posted: Thursday, November 24, 2011 10:35:21 AM

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Edelman's groundbreaking work came out in "The Mindful Brain; Cortical Organization and the Group-Selective Theory of Higher Brain Function " (1978), this is an extremely technical book, it is still the foundation of his work, I am fairly certain that he and Jaynes were entirely unaware of each other at the time, but the possibility of the reflection existed even then.
The other paper in that book by Vernon Mountcastle, contains a description of the most profoundly elegant, and mind blowing concept I have ever managed to wrap my mind around. A description of the Local Neural Circuit (LNC), a three dimensional columnar construct of apprx. 300 neurons, within which each branching of the dendrites forms additional columns, the entire architecture of which is highly specific to a particular area of the brain, these LNCs reach peak action potential and fire as a group, branches of these LNCs depart their specific area for a grand tour of the other processing areas of the brain, during which transforms may be imparted to the signal they carry before they re-enter the origin point, and effect the processing of it.
In other words it is a nested, distributed system, utilizing phasic-reentrant signalling loops, composed of 3-dimensionally architected fields of energy as the basic information byte.
(italics are my take on it, and not ever specifically stated that way in the original paper)
Now if the basic recognition of the entire experiential model of reality carried within the mind/brain is constructed thusly, that would constitute a recognition circuit, if then there existed a parallel recognition circuit, this would produce awareness. If this is indeed even close to Edelman's theory, then the reason I suspect a parallel to Jaynes' I think becomes evident.
leonAzul
Posted: Thursday, November 24, 2011 7:23:18 PM

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Epiphileon wrote:
Edelman's groundbreaking work came out in "The Mindful Brain; Cortical Organization and the Group-Selective Theory of Higher Brain Function " (1978), this is an extremely technical book, it is still the foundation of his work, I am fairly certain that he and Jaynes were entirely unaware of each other at the time, but the possibility of the reflection existed even then.
The other paper in that book by Vernon Mountcastle, contains a description of the most profoundly elegant, and mind blowing concept I have ever managed to wrap my mind around. A description of the Local Neural Circuit (LNC), a three dimensional columnar construct of apprx. 300 neurons, within which each branching of the dendrites forms additional columns, the entire architecture of which is highly specific to a particular area of the brain, these LNCs reach peak action potential and fire as a group, branches of these LNCs depart their specific area for a grand tour of the other processing areas of the brain, during which transforms may be imparted to the signal they carry before they re-enter the origin point, and effect the processing of it.
In other words it is a nested, distributed system, utilizing phasic-reentrant signalling loops, composed of 3-dimensionally architected fields of energy as the basic information byte.
(italics are my take on it, and not ever specifically stated that way in the original paper)
Now if the basic recognition of the entire experiential model of reality carried within the mind/brain is constructed thusly, that would constitute a recognition circuit, if then there existed a parallel recognition circuit, this would produce awareness. If this is indeed even close to Edelman's theory, then the reason I suspect a parallel to Jaynes' I think becomes evident.


Indeed, while Jaynes has deduced the necessity of "aptic structure" to facilitate functional recursion , Edelman proceeds from more specific evidence for reentrant neurological structures. I did not mean to suggest that Edelman's approach is derivative from Jaynes', but rather that they converge, and that both found it useful to present the topic in very similar ways.

Please be careful with that "fields of energy" trope. You seem to have a good handle on it, but it has unfortunately spawned all sorts of silly superstitious nonsense that passes for Kozmik Trooth™.
Epiphileon
Posted: Thursday, November 24, 2011 8:12:46 PM

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leonAzul wrote:

Please be careful with that "fields of energy" trope. You seem to have a good handle on it, but it has unfortunately spawned all sorts of silly superstitious nonsense that passes for Kozmik Trooth™.

In general I would not state it that way but, I do of course mean a structure dependent signal, and frankly am completely incredulous of the quantum consciousness folks, claiming interface to the all knowing kazamm through quantum events in micro tubules.
Epiphileon
Posted: Saturday, November 26, 2011 5:41:08 AM

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Good day all, I'm thinking that perhaps it has been a bit of a busy week for most folks and that we probably should have taken it off as far as the thread goes. I know I have had no time at all to devote to it, this is the first day I haven't been either trying to fix my computer or preoccupied with seasonal activities.
Please send me a PM (private message) if you think it should be extended till only Wednesday, or of we should keep to the Sunday schedule and extend a full week.
Epiphileon
Posted: Monday, November 28, 2011 4:22:40 AM

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Holiday Extension
Nov.27-Dec.4
Chapter 2
pages 59.75 thru 66
Epiphileon
Posted: Tuesday, November 29, 2011 5:07:02 AM

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Jaynes wrote:
The Features of Consciousness
I. Spatialization. The first and most primitive aspect of consciousness
is what we already have had occasion to refer to, the paraphrand of
almost every mental metaphor we can make, the mental space which we take
over as the very habitat of it all.


Space the Final Frontier. These are the voyages of the I-ship Cerebria....

One of the most intriguing characteristics of consciousness, the space that is not. Here I think, is one of the insurmountable limits to the introspective exploration of consciousness, for although this space does not actually exist,(other than virtually) we cannot conduct conscious thought outside of it.
This is one of the reasons why earlier I was stressing the nature of the other mental space which is not, the space that Jaynes calls "the real world", i.e. the perceptual world. The world that we so naturally assume is "out there", when it is nothing of the sort but, in actuality, is a reconstruction by coded signals, within the brain. It is upon this reconstruction that Jaynes' metaphorical dynamic takes place. Why bring this up again?

Jaynes' argument for the metaphorical construction of consciousness, as seen at the behavioral level of observation, seems quite strong at this point, particularly with the evidence of this very defining characteristic of the experience of consciousness. If this is so, then I think that there are some major implications for us and our experience of consciousness, our ability to understand it, and therefore our potential to exploit it.
FounDit
Posted: Tuesday, November 29, 2011 3:45:07 PM

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Epi wrote:

Jaynes wrote:
The Features of Consciousness
I. Spatialization. The first and most primitive aspect of consciousness
is what we already have had occasion to refer to, the paraphrand of
almost every mental metaphor we can make, the mental space which we take
over as the very habitat of it all.


Space the Final Frontier. These are the voyages of the I-ship Cerebria....

One of the most intriguing characteristics of consciousness, the space that is not. Here I think, is one of the insurmountable limits to the introspective exploration of consciousness, for although this space does not actually exist,(other than virtually) we cannot conduct conscious thought outside of it.
This is one of the reasons why earlier I was stressing the nature of the other mental space which is not, the space that Jaynes calls "the real world", i.e. the perceptual world. The world that we so naturally assume is "out there", when it is nothing of the sort but, in actuality, is a reconstruction by coded signals, within the brain. It is upon this reconstruction that Jaynes' metaphorical dynamic takes place. Why bring this up again?

Jaynes' argument for the metaphorical construction of consciousness, as seen at the behavioral level of observation, seems quite strong at this point, particularly with the evidence of this very defining characteristic of the experience of consciousness. If this is so, then I think that there are some major implications for us and our experience of consciousness, our ability to understand it, and therefore our potential to exploit it.

I liked the Star Trek reference. However, by the end of my post, you may find it does not fit in my view. Surprise!

Is this truly a characteristic, or ‘construction’ of consciousness? Our senses take in information about the external environment surrounding our bodies. These sensations, (sight, smell, hearing, touch, taste) are encoded in our brains as representations of that external world (memories). These memories are not ‘space’ but merely representations of external space. We are remembering space, not creating space in our minds. Therefore, consciousness does not consist of ‘mental space’, but rather is an ability to examine the memory of the space we have experienced externally with our senses.

To illustrate: if a creature such as us were to be confined from birth, continually, to an enclosure just barely larger than its body, how large do you think the ‘mental space’ of that being would be? Having never experienced any space larger than that, I submit the conscious ‘space’ of such a being would take the same shape and size, and would, therefore, be nothing other than memory. The world of that being would consist of the sensations of that enclosure, and nothing more. So what Jaynes is describing as the ‘space’ of consciousness is nothing more than memories of the external world, and is not consciousness per se.

If he wants to say that consciousness acts upon or within our memories, then I would agree with him on that, but to me, consciousness and memory of space(s) are two different things. After all, nearly all creatures have memory capacity, but there is only one we know of that has consciousness.




Epiphileon
Posted: Tuesday, November 29, 2011 6:52:43 PM

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FounDit wrote:
Is this truly a characteristic, or ‘construction’ of consciousness? Our senses take in information about the external environment surrounding our bodies. These sensations, (sight, smell, hearing, touch, taste) are encoded in our brains as representations of that external world (memories). These memories are not ‘space’ but merely representations of external space. We are remembering space, not creating space in our minds. Therefore, consciousness does not consist of ‘mental space’, but rather is an ability to examine the memory of the space we have experienced externally with our senses.


Your right FounDit, I am not surprised, as I have said before, your hypothetical construct of human mentality is perhaps unique; however, as I have also said before, what I've heard of it, is rather impressive for an arbitrarily constructed explanation.
Regarding the above quote, first it is not Jaynes who is pointing out the recreation of the external world into a perceptual recreation in the brain, I'm saying that he missed this, or has mistakenly taken it for granted.
I am not saying that the representation of the world recreated in the mind/brain is a construct of consciousness, rather that this representation is what Jaynes is calling the "real world", upon which he claims consciousness is constructed by a metaphorical dynamic.
I am not sure you are saying you don't think the representation exists at all, that I would find extremely hard to believe, after all how could you have a memory of something you had not, in some manner perceived, and perception occurs in the head. The model of the "real world" in which we navigate, is as close to real time that nerve conduction, and interpretation allows for, simplistically the lag between the occurrence in the external world, and its representation in the mental model of that world, could be considered to be half of reaction time. If we had to access memory in order to react, lag time would be increased to the point of being maladaptive, and non-evolutionarily stable.

FounDit wrote:
To illustrate: if a creature such as us were to be confined from birth, continually, to an enclosure just barely larger than its body, how large do you think the ‘mental space’ of that being would be? Having never experienced any space larger than that, I submit the conscious ‘space’ of such a being would take the same shape and size, and would, therefore, be nothing other than memory. The world of that being would consist of the sensations of that enclosure, and nothing more. So what Jaynes is describing as the ‘space’ of consciousness is nothing more than memories of the external world, and is not consciousness per se.


First of all there may be a very strong argument that consciousness would never develop in such a creature at all, in fact it may even be non-viable. But he is also not saying this "is" consciousness, he is saying it is an aspect of consciousness. You do introspect, yes you may introspect on memories, but you also, at times, introspect on cognition, you manipulate concepts that are just forming, not yet committed to memory, you use consciousness to learn new things, and how do you talkk about those events? Hmmm, "I see, well if I pot this here, and that there", where are you doing that?
Finally back to your illustration of the being in a box, lets change it to just a conscious entity with a different spatial environment, well as you said there mind-space would be differently experienced, but it seems to me there would still be some sort of spatial representation.
Hmmm, try this, think of imagine 0 dimensions, if consciousness has no space this should be possible.


leonAzul
Posted: Tuesday, November 29, 2011 7:22:55 PM

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Epiphileon wrote:

I am not saying that the representation of the world recreated in the mind/brain is a construct of consciousness, rather that this representation is what Jaynes is calling the "real world", upon which he claims consciousness is constructed by a metaphorical dynamic.


I disagree that Jaynes has made such a claim. In fact, he has gone out of his way to stress that consciousness works from an analog of the rest of reality (epistemologically), and it is the metaphorical nature of consciousness to interpret this as if it were working on reality directly (ontologically).

To consider the spatialization which is a feature of consciousness as a separate reality leads to the notion of dualism, which Jaynes has emphatically rejected. The way that leads forward considers mind to be a subset of reality, not someplace paranormal or supernatural.

ETA

Never mind. I just realized that I had misunderstood what you meant by putting "real world" in quotes.
leonAzul
Posted: Tuesday, November 29, 2011 8:20:13 PM

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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.

//66 (72)
Conscious mind is a spatial
analog of the world and mental acts are analogs of bodily acts.
Consciousness operates only on objectively observable things.


There are several points I would like to discuss among us from the text.

There is an obvious error in this last sentence. To be consistent, Jaynes should have written "Consciousness operates only on analogs derived from objectively observable things." This represents at least sloppy editing, if not sloppy thinking.

Another observation, trivial though it might be, is that at first reading I considered "conscious mind" and "consciousness" to be synonymous. Is it possible that Jaynes intends to make a meaningful distinction between the two?

The more serious topic I wish to discuss is how to falsify the notion that language can exist without consciousness. Jaynes has frankly stated that he is not prepared to do so at this point in the presentation, yet that doesn't prevent us from speculating about what sort of evidence would be sufficient to either invalidate it or confirm it.
FounDit
Posted: Wednesday, November 30, 2011 1:01:21 AM

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leon beat me to it, but I’ll post it anyway.

FounDit wrote:
Is this truly a characteristic, or ‘construction’ of consciousness? Our senses take in information about the external environment surrounding our bodies. These sensations, (sight, smell, hearing, touch, taste) are encoded in our brains as representations of that external world (memories). These memories are not ‘space’ but merely representations of external space. We are remembering space, not creating space in our minds. Therefore, consciousness does not consist of ‘mental space’, but rather is an ability to examine the memory of the space we have experienced externally with our senses.


Your right FounDit, I am not surprised, as I have said before, your hypothetical construct of human mentality is perhaps unique; however, as I have also said before, what I've heard of it, is rather impressive for an arbitrarily constructed explanation.
Regarding the above quote, first it is not Jaynes who is pointing out the recreation of the external world into a perceptual recreation in the brain, I'm saying that he missed this, or has mistakenly taken it for granted.

I took this passage to mean just that: from p. 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.

and:
//66 (72)
Conscious mind is a spatial
analog of the world and mental acts are analogs of bodily acts.
Consciousness operates only on objectively observable things.

I am not saying that the representation of the world recreated in the mind/brain is a construct of consciousness, rather that this representation is what Jaynes is calling the "real world", upon which he claims consciousness is constructed by a metaphorical dynamic.Ok. I would agree Jaynes is saying that.
I am not sure you are saying you don't think the representation exists at all, that I would find extremely hard to believe, after all how could you have a memory of something you had not, in some manner perceived, and perception occurs in the head. The model of the "real world" in which we navigate, is as close to real time that nerve conduction, and interpretation allows for, simplistically the lag between the occurrence in the external world, and its representation in the mental model of that world, could be considered to be half of reaction time.No. I wasn’t saying that at all. I agree with you, and do believe the representation exists, created, as I stated, by input from our senses, and stored in our minds as memories.
If we had to access memory in order to react, lag time would be increased to the point of being maladaptive, and non-evolutionarily stable.
FounDit wrote:
To illustrate: if a creature such as us were to be confined from birth, continually, to an enclosure just barely larger than its body, how large do you think the ‘mental space’ of that being would be? Having never experienced any space larger than that, I submit the conscious ‘space’ of such a being would take the same shape and size, and would, therefore, be nothing other than memory. The world of that being would consist of the sensations of that enclosure, and nothing more. So what Jaynes is describing as the ‘space’ of consciousness is nothing more than memories of the external world, and is not consciousness per se.


First of all there may be a very strong argument that consciousness would never develop in such a creature at all, in fact it may even be non-viable. Of course. That was just a thought experiment to make a point that a conscious concept of the “real world” space will always be a reflection of our somatic experiences.
But he is also not saying this "is" consciousness, he is saying it is an aspect of consciousness. You do introspect, yes you may introspect on memories, but you also, at times, introspect on cognition, you manipulate concepts that are just forming, not yet committed to memory, you use consciousness to learn new things, and how do you talkk about those events? Hmmm, "I see, well if I pot this here, and that there", where are you doing that? Pre-frontal cortex? Is this not considered the executive area of the brain? The judgment center? And how can I manipulate concepts not yet committed to memory? It seems to me they must be in memory in order to manipulate them, to recognize cause and effect.
Finally back to your illustration of the being in a box, lets change it to just a conscious entity with a different spatial environment, well as you said there mind-space would be differently experienced, but it seems to me there would still be some sort of spatial representation.
Hmmm, try this, think of imagine 0 dimensions, if consciousness has no space this should be possible.
I can imagine 0 dimensions if I conceive of being all; encompassing all; in-dwelling all; if one is all, there is no up, down, in, out, time, etc. The brain in a vat without any somatic restrictions would think it is – God?
FounDit
Posted: Wednesday, November 30, 2011 1:08:28 AM

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leonAzul wrote:

The more serious topic I wish to discuss is how to falsify the notion that language can exist without consciousness. Jaynes has frankly stated that he is not prepared to do so at this point in the presentation, yet that doesn't prevent us from speculating about what sort of evidence would be sufficient to either invalidate it or confirm it.


I should think that falsifying the notion of language without consciousness is easily done. Since language is symbolism, how can a symbol be invented without the ability to perceive abstracts? And to perceive abstracts, consciousness must exist, else there is only memory of what already exists.

However, I don't believe Epi is ready to have that discussion yet. I think he wants to take this one step at a time.





leonAzul
Posted: Wednesday, November 30, 2011 3:09:26 AM

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FounDit wrote:
leonAzul wrote:


The more serious topic I wish to discuss is how to falsify the notion that language can exist without consciousness. Jaynes has frankly stated that he is not prepared to do so at this point in the presentation, yet that doesn't prevent us from speculating about what sort of evidence would be sufficient to either invalidate it or confirm it.


I should think that falsifying the notion of language without consciousness is easily done. Since language is symbolism, how can a symbol be invented without the ability to perceive abstracts? And to perceive abstracts, consciousness must exist, else there is only memory of what already exists.


May I point out that this confirms your view, but does not completely falsify Jaynes'. To falsify Jaynes' proposition, we would need to find an example of consciousness without the capacity for language.

To falsify the proposition that consciousness is a prerequisite for language, we would need to find evidence of language without consciousness. What kind of evidence would we need to demonstrate this? At what point do we consider the ample evidence that animals communicate with each other as evidence for language, or is that merely proto-language?

To falsify the proposition that consciousness and language are co-emergent, we would need to find just one instance where one appears without the other.
Epiphileon
Posted: Wednesday, November 30, 2011 4:46:36 AM

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Epiphileon wrote:

I am not saying that the representation of the world recreated in the mind/brain is a construct of consciousness, rather that this representation is what Jaynes is calling the "real world", upon which he claims consciousness is constructed by a metaphorical dynamic.

leonAzul wrote:

I disagree that Jaynes has made such a claim. In fact, he has gone out of his way to stress that consciousness works from an analog of the rest of reality (epistemologically), and it is the metaphorical nature of consciousness to interpret this as if it were working on reality directly (ontologically).

To consider the spatialization which is a feature of consciousness as a separate reality leads to the notion of dualism, which Jaynes has emphatically rejected. The way that leads forward considers mind to be a subset of reality, not someplace paranormal or supernatural.

ETA

Never mind. I just realized that I had misunderstood what you meant by putting "real world" in quotes.


Okay good, if I ever say anything that seems to indicate a dualistic stance, something is wrong with the way I said it.
I think the distinction is eventually quite important although Jaynes doesn't seem to make it clearly, nor do I think it is critical to his argument.
The issue of language I would like to put off a bit longer, these aspects of consciousness he is enumerating are the ideas of his I want to be sure I have a good handle on. I will be very interested in the language discussion as well, as I believe I have seen at least two other, more recent incidents of it being claimed to be a necessary condition for consciousness.
Epiphileon
Posted: Wednesday, November 30, 2011 5:27:50 AM

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leonAzul 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.

//66 (72)
Conscious mind is a spatial
analog of the world and mental acts are analogs of bodily acts.
Consciousness operates only on objectively observable things.


There are several points I would like to discuss among us from the text.

There is an obvious error in this last sentence. To be consistent, Jaynes should have written "Consciousness operates only on analogs derived from objectively observable things." This represents at least sloppy editing, if not sloppy thinking.
Yep that is certainly inconsistent, as well as impossible, I don't know what he meant to have said there, but I do not think it was that.(Oh and by the way, I don't want to go off on this now, but I think he is pushing the analog nature of the mind-space of consciousness too far, for one thing there is no reason to assume the space of consciousness is 3-dimensional.)

Another observation, trivial though it might be, is that at first reading I considered "conscious mind" and "consciousness" to be synonymous. Is it possible that Jaynes intends to make a meaningful distinction between the two?
hmmm, so far I don't think so, I think he just gets a bit sloppy with his terminology, but at the same time in the discussion of this issue, that is almost unavoidable.

The more serious topic I wish to discuss is how to falsify the notion that language can exist without consciousness. Jaynes has frankly stated that he is not prepared to do so at this point in the presentation, yet that doesn't prevent us from speculating about what sort of evidence would be sufficient to either invalidate it or confirm it.
Well computers use language;) but then that is bunk since conscious entities created the languages. For now I would just say that language is an evolved characteristic that began in basic signalling, which we know started eons before consciousness was even a possibility and it would depend on, as you said, what you will accept as language. This is an area of high interest to me as well, for a number of reasons. One of the questions that really had my attention when I was at school was, "What's behind words?", and an interesting exercise, try thinking without words. But as I said, one of my primary interests in Jaynes book was the first few chapters, I am looking forward to discussing the rest of the book; however this section in particular is paramount to my interests in general, and I'm hoping to hear your take on each of these characteristics he is enumerating.
Epiphileon
Posted: Wednesday, November 30, 2011 1:14:27 PM

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FounDit wrote:

I can imagine 0 dimensions if I conceive of being all; encompassing all; in-dwelling all; if one is all, there is no up, down, in, out, time, etc.
That is imagining you are omnipresent, within space, not imagining 0 dimensions.
The brain in a vat without any somatic restrictions would think it is – God?
Ask Spock ;) Otherwise, as far as I know all such conjectures have relied on the brain being fed synthetic somatic experience of some sort or other. Else, otherwise, perhaps you're fortunate to live near a place that rents time in sensory deprivation tanks, I keep promisining myself I'll build one someday.


Off to work.
FounDit
Posted: Wednesday, November 30, 2011 1:20:56 PM

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leonAzul wrote:
FounDit wrote:
leonAzul wrote:


The more serious topic I wish to discuss is how to falsify the notion that language can exist without consciousness. Jaynes has frankly stated that he is not prepared to do so at this point in the presentation, yet that doesn't prevent us from speculating about what sort of evidence would be sufficient to either invalidate it or confirm it.


I should think that falsifying the notion of language without consciousness is easily done. Since language is symbolism, how can a symbol be invented without the ability to perceive abstracts? And to perceive abstracts, consciousness must exist, else there is only memory of what already exists.


May I point out that this confirms your view, but does not completely falsify Jaynes'. To falsify Jaynes' proposition, we would need to find an example of consciousness without the capacity for language.

You are correct in that I merely confirm my own view, but consider this as evidence, perhaps.

As a result of these discussions, I paid particular attention to my (youngest) 18 month old granddaughter over the holidays. She can say at least 3 words that I know of but usually doesn't. However, when she wanted milk, she knew where it was stored, how to open the refrigerator door to obtain it, and to bring it to an adult to open it for her and pour it for her, all without saying a word. She plays with large Lego blocks, building them up and tearing them down, only to rebuild them again into different shapes, all without words.

True, a chimp could do this also, but a chimp can't say Mama or DaDa even if it wanted to. An example of consciousness without language, I submit, because mimicking 2 or 3 word sounds does not constitute language, in my opinion.

I think it likely she thinks in pictures -- memories or where things are located and how to obtain them. I suspect early humans did precisely the same thing until such time as awareness of self evolved, and they were then able then to grunt out a sound to represent it to others.


To falsify the proposition that consciousness is a prerequisite for language, we would need to find evidence of language without consciousness. What kind of evidence would we need to demonstrate this? At what point do we consider the ample evidence that animals communicate with each other as evidence for language, or is that merely proto-language?

We know many creatures communicate: dolphins, whales, honey bees, etc. However, I agree with you that we do not know if it is true language or simply signalling. I suspect, though, that its limits indicate it is signalling, rather than language.


To falsify the proposition that consciousness and language are co-emergent, we would need to find just one instance where one appears without the other.


I believe the example of my granddaughter serves that purpose, Even if no one attempted to teach her language, there would come a point (if not already reached) where she would possess an emerging consciousness, an awareness of self, even without language to describe it.
FounDit
Posted: Wednesday, November 30, 2011 1:34:04 PM

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Epiphileon wrote:
FounDit wrote:

I can imagine 0 dimensions if I conceive of being all; encompassing all; in-dwelling all; if one is all, there is no up, down, in, out, time, etc.
That is imagining you are omnipresent, within space, not imagining 0 dimensions.
The brain in a vat without any somatic restrictions would think it is – God?
Ask Spock ;) Otherwise, as far as I know all such conjectures have relied on the brain being fed synthetic somatic experience of some sort or other. Else, otherwise, perhaps you're fortunate to live near a place that rents time in sensory deprivation tanks, I keep promisining myself I'll build one someday.


Off to work.



I knew you were going to come back on me about that!..lol I was tempted to edit it out, but went to sleep instead.

It seems to me, however, that omnipresent negates dimensions and space, but perhaps I fail to understand what you mean by dimensions.

Ah! Remember, though, that Spock had already experienced somatic reality and its restrictions, so he continued to perceive himself as he was until it was explained to him what happened.

As for sensory deprivation tanks, wouldn't a bath tub suffice? Wait until no one else is home, fill the tub, turn out the lights or put on a mask, and voilà. Soak until pruned.


leonAzul
Posted: Wednesday, November 30, 2011 3:57:35 PM

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Epiphileon wrote:

FounDit wrote:


The brain in a vat without any somatic restrictions would think it is – God?

Ask Spock ;) Otherwise, as far as I know all such conjectures have relied on the brain being fed synthetic somatic experience of some sort or other. Else, otherwise, perhaps you're fortunate to live near a place that rents time in sensory deprivation tanks, I keep promising myself I'll build one someday.


Speaking of the 70s, are either of you familiar with the author John C. Lilly?
Play
Posted: Wednesday, November 30, 2011 4:51:31 PM
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When enlightenment of human consciousness came about for the most part in reasoning and purpose. Through the Dark Ages religion controlled man/womans thinking and reasoning and to this very day. So even with centered brained human, is there clear and rational thinking with a religious conscious as it base ? Open mindedness clouded my guilt and fear of god, gods.
So an Atheists are rational conscious humans, plus we all have our environment to dictate our conscious course in life.
leonAzul
Posted: Wednesday, November 30, 2011 6:19:17 PM

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FounDit wrote:

True, a chimp could do this also, but a chimp can't say Mama or DaDa even if it wanted to. An example of consciousness without language, I submit, because mimicking 2 or 3 word sounds does not constitute language, in my opinion.[/color]


Did I misunderstand you? Did you just claim that a chimp doing the same thing that your granddaughter did is evidence of the chimp having consciousness?
FounDit
Posted: Wednesday, November 30, 2011 6:22:04 PM

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leonAzul wrote:
Epiphileon wrote:

FounDit wrote:


The brain in a vat without any somatic restrictions would think it is – God?

Ask Spock ;) Otherwise, as far as I know all such conjectures have relied on the brain being fed synthetic somatic experience of some sort or other. Else, otherwise, perhaps you're fortunate to live near a place that rents time in sensory deprivation tanks, I keep promising myself I'll build one someday.


Speaking of the 70s, are either of you familiar with the author John C. Lilly?



I'm not familiar with him. I did read the info on him at the link you provided and was somewhat aware of the dolphin work he did, just didn't recognize his name.

Also, saw two of the movies based on his work: Altered States and the Dolphin one (forgot the title...senior moment!).

I also tracked the link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sam%C4%81dhi and was intrigued by Samadhi. Part of its description was very familiar:

Samādhi is described in different ways within Hinduism such as the state of being aware of one’s existence without thinking, in a state of undifferentiated “beingness" or as an altered state of consciousness that is characterized by bliss (ānanda) and joy (sukha). Nisargadatta Maharaj describes the state in the following manner:
When you say you sit for meditation, the first thing to be done is understand that it is not this body identification that is sitting for meditation, but this knowledge ‘I am’, this consciousness, which is sitting in meditation and is meditating on itself. When this is finally understood, then it becomes easy. When this consciousness, this conscious presence, merges in itself, the state of ‘Samadhi’ ensues. It is the conceptual feeling that I exist that disappears and merges into the beingness itself. So this conscious presence also gets merged into that knowledge, that beingness – that is ‘Samadhi’.[6]


This very much matches the state achieved thru meditation in Taoism and Tai Chi Chuan, which I have practiced almost 20 years. It is the state of "Oneness" I mentioned in another post; a state described where one is nothing and everything at the same time; Quite pleasant and very enlightening.


leonAzul
Posted: Wednesday, November 30, 2011 6:33:56 PM

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FounDit wrote:

You are correct in that I merely confirm my own view, but consider this as evidence, perhaps.

As a result of these discussions, I paid particular attention to my (youngest) 18 month old granddaughter over the holidays. She can say at least 3 words that I know of but usually doesn't. However, when she wanted milk, she knew where it was stored, how to open the refrigerator door to obtain it, and to bring it to an adult to open it for her and pour it for her, all without saying a word. She plays with large Lego blocks, building them up and tearing them down, only to rebuild them again into different shapes, all without words.


Somehow I suspect that Jaynes is not familiar with the case of your graddaughter. Whistle

What evidence would Jaynes need to provide to falsify the other two propositions?

Or have I missed any? These seem to be the only permutations of the possibilities that don't send us back to what we have already falsified.
Epiphileon
Posted: Thursday, December 1, 2011 4:23:34 AM

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leonAzul wrote:

Speaking of the 70s, are either of you familiar with the author John C. Lilly?

Lilly was kind of a folk hero in and around the university section of Pittsburgh, in the 70's. I remember the name, may have read some essay's by him then, but distinct memories of that period hazy.
Epiphileon
Posted: Thursday, December 1, 2011 5:35:20 AM

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Jaynes wrote:
2. Excerption. In consciousness, we are never 'seeing'
anything in its entirety. This is because such 'seeing' is an analog of
actual behavior j and in actual behavior we can only see or pay
attention to a part of a thing at any one moment. And so in
consciousness. We excerpt from the collection of possible attentions
to a thing which comprises our knowledge of it. And this is all that it
is possible
to do since consciousness is a metaphor of our actual behavior.

What I found extremely interesting about this characteristic the first time I read about it was, there are some mentions of the phenomenon in different areas of psychology, but those are not what I'm referring to. About five years before reading Jaynes, during my period as an evangelical preacher, I would prepare my sermons and Bible studies from an early Greek New Testament. That was when I first came across the word "epignosis", most of us are familiar with gnosis, translated as knowledge, but what then this epignosis? Well it was the first time I found my references stumbling over how to translate a word; to know in fullness, to know completely, intimate experiential knowledge, whole paragraphs written as definitions. When I first read this section I thought, "Damn, the ancient Greeks had a word to stand against this characteristic of consciousness," and I wouldn't be surprised if that is exactly why the word exists.
This is one of the reasons why I think we must remember that what Jaynes describes, is consciousness as it is found in its natural state, and that some of the limitations he asserts, such as the underlined above, should not be taken too seriously.
Posting before work in the morning again, ah well, I wanted to get this impression of this section into the discussion, for the rest of it, I'll just say that I agree with his explicit statement of the importance of this phenomenon as a defining characteristic, and that it is far too under-recognized and at extreme peril.
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