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Author: coolerthanranch Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: of 24927  
Subject: Re: Consciousness and its relationship to Evolut Date: 6/8/2001 11:20 AM
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You know when I first read you stuff it seems like your a real crank, but when I try to respond I find it all very suggestive and it is like I sense a real and interesting idea and I follow the thread off into a bog.

Hi ho. Well, I'm glad you don't think I'm a crank, anyways ;-)

Let us try just one sentence:

Concsciousness is a subjective experiance of an aware brain.

The problem I have is with the word "subjective". Subjective means to me "existing in the mind" and is opposed to "objective" existing in the real world.


I think the problem you are having is with the word "mind". "Mind " has so many connotations that I simply do not know any longer what it means, and every time I read a definition of it, I find myself entangled in a blob of wax in which so many processes are mixed up that its very hard to think clearly at all. "subjective" is a word that applies to qualities that only exist relative to an awareness.

Not all awraenesses are concious: most human awareness occurs while humans are conscious, but in pathological states (decorticate states) the subject is aware in a limited sense (ie his remaining brain is in a state of arousal which, had he more brain, would manifest conciousness) in that he can track objects moving across the visual field (for instance) whch demonstrates that information is getting in, being processed and acted on, yet there is no sign of coordinated function that we would assosciate with consciousness. Worms are certainly aware, but no one accuses them of conciousness.

Conciousness exists only relative to an awareness: it is a purely subjective state. That I think is Searles important point. However, conciousness surely affects that awareness, and hence affects the organism directly. Thus it is real, subjective and causal.

Now the subjective/objective seems to presuppose a Cartesian Dualism which supposedly nobody believes in anymore but seems so imbedded in the language that we use it is unavoidable.

See above. I agree that it is tricky, but not completely avoidable.

Somewhere else you suggest that subjectivity is "real" and "causative". The "real" part confuses me because of the Cartesian trap again. I know that some cognitive scientists deny that consciousness is causitive. That is because it is subjective and hence not real in the objective sense. They solve Chalmer's hard problem simply by saying there is no problem because consciousness is not objective and hence doesn't exist scientifically.

Yeah, well, I think they are sticking their heads in the sand.

Any way I need to know what you mean by subjective and its relationship to objective. How does an objective phenomenon transmute into a subjective phenomenon?

See above.

As a PS, why do you discard "spooky" quantum consciousness theories so cavalierly? Why do you feel consciousness must be explained classically? I know why you want it to be true, but I don't see any justification for just throwing it out. There are other theories than microtubules.

Mainly (though there are some other reasons) because the spooky theories do not really explain the structure of the CNS, or its functional anatomy. From a purely philosophical view, consciousness is indeed a marvelous and fascinating phenomenon, but from the point of view of science, the most fascinating aspect of the brain is its spectacular, humbling, awe inspiring, mind numbing complexity. There really is no other natural object remotely in the same class for compact, astounding complexity, and the sheer dynamism, plasticity and fragility of the microanatomy makes its analysis more daunting still. It beats everything else hands down.

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