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What happened to nature?
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    Does Consciousness Depend on the Brain?
    Today, Reallity Sandwish published a nice article on the millennial question about consciousness outside our brains. It advocates the hypotheses I came to found the most plausible, after years of study and some empirical evidence - I understand that, without some degree of personal experience, it's difficult for a thinker to go this way on the extremely-materialistic society we live in...

    what are your views on this subject?
    do you think consciousness is produced inside the brain, or the organ acts like some kind of antenna or receiver, and so, what we call "mind" is beyond matter?

    The argument in its essence is that the transmission and production hypotheses are equally compatible with the facts materialism tries to explain — such as the effects of senility, drugs, and brain damage on consciousness — but that the hypothesis of transmission has the advantage of providing a framework for understanding other phenomena that must remain utterly inexplicable by the hypothesis of materialism.

    The brain is not an organ that generates consciousness, but rather an instrument evolved to transmit and limit the processes of consciousness and of conscious attention so as to restrict them to those aspects of the material environment which at any moment are crucial for the terrestrial success of the individual. In that case such phenomena as telepathy and clairvoyance would be merely instances in which some of the limitations were removed - Cyril Burt, 1975

    Fri, Mar 11, 2011  Permanent link

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    BenRayfield     Sun, Mar 13, 2011  Permanent link
    Science has proven that space, time, mass, and energy are different ways of viewing the same thing. They are not converted to each other. They are the same kind of thing.

    Materialism is the theory that space, time, mass, energy, and consciousness are different ways of viewing the same thing. They are not converted to each other. They are the same kind of thing.

    Dualism is the theory that space, time, mass, and energy and consciousness can interact but can never be converted to each other.

    There is no contradiction between materialism and telepathy, telekinesis, out of body experiences, or other things people tend to think of as magic. There is no contradiction because it would simply mean there is a way it works and is interchangeable with space, time, mass, and energy but we do not understand that part of the universe yet.

    I like how this quote from The Matrix explains it, as Neo is trying to mentally bend a spoon:
    Do not try and bend the spoon. That's impossible. Instead... only try to realize the truth.
    What truth?
    There is no spoon.
    Then you'll see, that it is not the spoon that bends, it is only yourself.

    Most people do not understand that quote is about the specific way the theory of materialism is true. I am my body, and I am also the spoon, and in the right state of mind I could choose to instead be a fork, but I've never been that skilled at it. In the many times I've moved or bent small things with my mind, that is the way it feels, like a part of my body. If something touches the target object (or spoon), I feel it. Sometimes the target object changes into something similar, like a printed page of text loses a page number and later it has it again. Many people think Jesus used his consciousness to change water into wine, and I don't know if he did, but I know it can be done, and if he did then he's simply a lot more skilled at it than we are. I guess he would say it as "there is no water" (instead of spoon). While I've never done it with a spoon (aluminum foil, volleyball, paper, lightning, etc), in general I know from experience there is no spoon.

    I think the transmission and production theories are both true. Sometimes consciousness is between a body and other things outside it. Sometimes consciousness is created or destroyed like particle and antiparticle split from nothing. There is also consciousness in the brain without any of that stuff. Its everywhere and everything, but we are mostly individuals because the statistical patterns of information flow tend to be localized around each body.

    If we would start thinking about consciousness in terms of physics and how things work, instead of believing in magic, then we would figure it out.
    nagash     Thu, Mar 17, 2011  Permanent link
    Ben, this is the "official" definition of materialism or that's your interpretation? never though of it as accepting space, time, mass, energy, and consciousness as the same stuff

    in my point of view, they are the same kind of thing, as viewed from different angles, dimensions and scales... but I don't think it's the materialistic view, as I see matter as just slow-energy
    BenRayfield     Sat, Mar 19, 2011  Permanent link
    1. preoccupation with or emphasis on material objects... (We're talking about definition 2)
    2. the philosophical theory that regards matter and its motions as constituting the universe, and all phenomena, including those of mind, as due to material agencies.

    Consciousness exists. We know that from experience. Combining that with definition 2, consciousness (and anything else that exists) must be made of matter, in the official definition of materialism.

    To explain how consciousness is more general than brains, I gave some examples. Materialism does not require those things exist or not.
    Schmuck     Thu, Mar 24, 2011  Permanent link
    I'd be inclined to think that consciousness is contained electronically in the brain, but this is only an inclination.

    The only thing we can truly be certain of is our own consciousness. All stimuli could be an illusion, and can never be solidly confirmed to ourselves to exist as much as our own consciousness can.

    René Descartes famous quote - "I think, therefore I am", implies that, by thinking, we confirm the existence of our own consciousness. Whether this consciousness is anchored to a brain or a body are facts which I feel the need to be agnostic about.

    No matter how sophisticated our understanding of ourselves and the universe may become, these understandings all rely on external stimulus to which the existence of cannot ever be confirmed.

    And so, while to function, we need to take on board the information received from the stimulus around us, we can never be wholly certain of anything other than the notion that, in some form, our consciousness does exist.