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What are the conditions required for a body of matter to be conscious? watch

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    (Original post by Oswy)
    I'll accept that the ancient Egyptians did not appear to recognise the brain as the source of their cognative and sensory capacities, but human history is a lot longer and geographically wider than that. And notwithstanding Aristotle's influence, the wider status given to the skull and phenomenon like ritual cannibalism (in which pieces of brain tissue are eaten) are strongly suggestive of recognition of the 'essence' or mind of humans as located in the head. But such a debate is a diversion anyway, I stand with modern critical science which posits the brain as the source of cognative and sensory capabilities. Studies in brain injury alone constitute very strong evidence of how memories, and their loss, correspond directly to damage to the brain.
    How does one distinguish between a destroyed memory and a memory that is unable to be communicated in someone who has suffered brain injury?
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    (Original post by The_Last_Melon)
    I think there was a problem with calling it consciousness. It needs some other word that can't be so easily passed off as a trivial biological function.

    What I mean is, once someone has existed and knows he has existed - I don't believe that information is ever destroyed. I believe that his existence is imprinted onto others' lives the moment he is brought into existence and he exists "within" these other sentient creatures eternally. One gets to see whether the memories shared with these entities are ultimately for the greater good or for evil, therefore any emotion one feels can be called a heaven or hell of sorts.

    I believe that when I die, my memories will still exist. In the same way that when I write a text document and upload it to the internet then that text document has the potential to exist eternally, and not just exist - it has the potential to create new information.

    Our memories transcend the physical world and therefore, I believe, so do we.
    I'm afraid you are wrong. When you die, and your brain dies, your memories go with it.


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    (Original post by The_Last_Melon)
    How does one distinguish between a destroyed memory and a memory that is unable to be communicated in someone who has suffered brain injury?
    I'm not a neuroscientist so you'd have to consult the literature but it's not impossible that many brain injuries involve both damage to memories and the pathways to communication of them - brains are complicated organs, but still physical things. Nevertheless, the default position in scientific terms is that the memory would have to exist somewhere, physically, in the brain, and that it is thus vulnerable to damage or erasure. I imagine that unless you can convince the wider scientific community who work in the field of a testable alternative your view will not get traction, any more than my assertion that the dark side of the moon is populated with disco-dancing unicorns that are invisible to any scientific observation but can only be 'seen' by those with the special 'gift'.
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    (Original post by Hypocrism)
    I'm afraid you are wrong. When you die, and your brain dies, your memories go with it.
    Well, sort of. Certainly the instances of the memories as encoded in the brain go with it. It's a bit of a debating point whether that qualifies those memories as "gone" - there are other instances of many of the memories in other people's brains.
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    (Original post by Smaug123)
    Well, sort of. Certainly the instances of the memories as encoded in the brain go with it. It's a bit of a debating point whether that qualifies those memories as "gone" - there are other instances of many of the memories in other people's brains.
    Well, that isn't the same memory, because it's somebody else's. Memory of the same event, certainly, but that holds no relevance.
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    (Original post by Hypocrism)
    Well, that isn't the same memory, because it's somebody else's. Memory of the same event, certainly, but that holds no relevance.
    I'm essentially summarising Douglas Hofstadter in I Am a Strange Loop - it's a very interesting book. It sort of depends on where you think the mind is situated - primarily it is within one brain, but it's an interesting question as to whether you could consider that, say, your spouse's mind is partially situated within your own brain (if you've lived with them for years and years, and have got to know them to the extent that you could finish their sentences, predict their feelings, etc).
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    Einstein once stated that space and time are non local...a dot, that represents the whole of existence.
    The paradigm of the holographic universe perhaps explains it best...we are but a unit of consciousness, a fragment of a whole. The individual self and the collective mind.

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    (Original post by Smaug123)
    I'm essentially summarising Douglas Hofstadter in I Am a Strange Loop - it's a very interesting book. It sort of depends on where you think the mind is situated - primarily it is within one brain, but it's an interesting question as to whether you could consider that, say, your spouse's mind is partially situated within your own brain (if you've lived with them for years and years, and have got to know them to the extent that you could finish their sentences, predict their feelings, etc).
    It is an interesting idea, however, being incorrect, it's not as interesting as something truthful.
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    (Original post by Hypocrism)
    It is an interesting idea, however, being incorrect, it's not as interesting as something truthful.
    Consider this thought experiment:
    I have lived with a person called A for all my life. I can predict what A will say and do in almost any situation, and hence my brain is capable of performing the same actions as A's brain if I so choose (I can simulate A's brain, to a fairly low fidelity, admittedly).
    Then could you not say that A's mind is spread over both my brain and A's brain? Both brains are simulating A's mind - A's brain is doing so in much higher fidelity, so the mind is heavily weighted towards A's brain. Communication between the chunks of mind is extremely bad, too - if my brain does not contain a certain piece of information which A's brain does, that information is only communicated to my brain through me seeing A's brain's manipulation of A's body. The situation is similar to the case of the destruction of the corpus callosum; in some such patients, the left hemisphere of the brain can only communicate with the right through speech or writing or sight, not internal communication (just as the part of A's mind in A's brain cannot communicate with the part of A's mind in my brain, except through speech etc.) It depends whether you would say such a patient has two minds or one - it certainly looks like the same mind split into two halves, rather than two distinct minds.
    It's an idea without any practical significance that I can think of, but taken "heavily", it could provide solace in the face of death in a way that doesn't defy the evidence.
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    (Original post by Smaug123)
    Consider this thought experiment:
    I have lived with a person called A for all my life. I can predict what A will say and do in almost any situation, and hence my brain is capable of performing the same actions as A's brain if I so choose (I can simulate A's brain, to a fairly low fidelity, admittedly).
    Then could you not say that A's mind is spread over both my brain and A's brain? Both brains are simulating A's mind - A's brain is doing so in much higher fidelity, so the mind is heavily weighted towards A's brain. Communication between the chunks of mind is extremely bad, too - if my brain does not contain a certain piece of information which A's brain does, that information is only communicated to my brain through me seeing A's brain's manipulation of A's body. The situation is similar to the case of the destruction of the corpus callosum; in some such patients, the left hemisphere of the brain can only communicate with the right through speech or writing or sight, not internal communication (just as the part of A's mind in A's brain cannot communicate with the part of A's mind in my brain, except through speech etc.) It depends whether you would say such a patient has two minds or one - it certainly looks like the same mind split into two halves, rather than two distinct minds.
    It's an idea without any practical significance that I can think of, but taken "heavily", it could provide solace in the face of death in a way that doesn't defy the evidence.
    No, you could not say that A's mind is spread over both people's brains. B's brain contains a model of how the world works, and that includes how A works. B's brain also has a model of how, for example, the physics of a bike works. But that doesn't mean that their brain contains part of a bike, it simply has model systems for these complicated physical things. In addition the models contained by the brain are in different anatomical locations to A's brain; a lot of A's activity will come from PFC while B will model it using primarily the cerebellum and, I think, amygdala.

    In corpus callosum hemisection, the individual has a pathology that is causing communication difficulties. This relatively minor lesion causes so many neurological problems and loss of some functions of the mind. To use that as evidence that the mind is preserved through death, the ultimate lesion, is ridiculous.


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    (Original post by Smaug123)
    Consider this thought experiment:
    I have lived with a person called A for all my life. I can predict what A will say and do in almost any situation, and hence my brain is capable of performing the same actions as A's brain if I so choose (I can simulate A's brain, to a fairly low fidelity, admittedly).
    Then could you not say that A's mind is spread over both my brain and A's brain? Both brains are simulating A's mind - A's brain is doing so in much higher fidelity, so the mind is heavily weighted towards A's brain. Communication between the chunks of mind is extremely bad, too - if my brain does not contain a certain piece of information which A's brain does, that information is only communicated to my brain through me seeing A's brain's manipulation of A's body. The situation is similar to the case of the destruction of the corpus callosum; in some such patients, the left hemisphere of the brain can only communicate with the right through speech or writing or sight, not internal communication (just as the part of A's mind in A's brain cannot communicate with the part of A's mind in my brain, except through speech etc.) It depends whether you would say such a patient has two minds or one - it certainly looks like the same mind split into two halves, rather than two distinct minds.
    It's an idea without any practical significance that I can think of, but taken "heavily", it could provide solace in the face of death in a way that doesn't defy the evidence.
    I don't believe the mind is preserved after life - I'm strictly monist.

    However, an interesting variant of the thought experiment is if A is your left hemisphere and B is your right hemisphere, or vice versa. The origin of consciousness as a consequence of the bicameral nature of the brain is the gist of Julian Jaynes' argument which I posted about earlier (it didn't attract any responses).
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    (Original post by Pastaferian)
    However, an interesting variant of the thought experiment is if A is your left hemisphere and B is your right hemisphere, or vice versa. The origin of consciousness as a consequence of the bicameral nature of the brain is the gist of Julian Jaynes' argument which I posted about earlier (it didn't attract any responses).
    I was going to reply to you about it before, but I needed to read up on it first.

    It's an interesting concept, and may have some truth to it. It seems to fit somewhat with findings from split-brain experiments. What's interesting is that some of the features of bi-consciousness displayed in split-brain patients are also present in normal patients too. What's more is that split-brain patient's hemispheres appear to communicate through non-neuronal means, such as looking in at a certain object, which the other hemisphere appears to understand. This may in fact be going on all the time, but with the added corpus collosum it isnt noticed.
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    Just to clarify, the representation of my post (I do not comment as to whether or not I believe in the view I've tried to represent) is tending towards the straw man - "the mind is preserved through death" is not what I attempted to convey, but "an aura of the mind remains and is gradually diluted after death", for a fuzzily-defined "aura" being a sort of melange of other people's representations of you.

    (Original post by Hypocrism)
    In addition the models contained by the brain are in different anatomical locations to A's brain; a lot of A's activity will come from PFC while B will model it using primarily the cerebellum and, I think, amygdala.
    Well, this is sort of the same question as that of whether the mind is "spread" - after all, A is an entirely different brain to B, so naturally the computations happen in a different place. Under the view I've been representing, this could be interpreted as lending weight to the hypothesis that the mind is not located as strictly as you might think - after all, under that view, this is evidence that the "generation of the mind" is independent of the region of the brain, in the same way as "generation of the mind" is independent of which brain is used. It's evidence in favour of both viewpoints, depending on the viewpoint assumed, and hence doesn't assist you much in making a decision between them.

    (Original post by Hypocrism)
    In corpus callosum hemisection, the individual has a pathology that is causing communication difficulties. This relatively minor lesion causes so many neurological problems and loss of some functions of the mind.
    Yep, the individual has a pathology which causes communication difficulties between the two halves of the brain, just as we have a "pathology" (namely, lack of telepathy) which causes communication difficulties between two brains. This causes pretty major problems sometimes, because people's models of each other don't reflect the reality, but the models are improved through the limited interaction we do have. I've said "this really hinges on" many times, it occurs to me, but I suppose the question depends on whether you consider the mind to be fundamentally a model of the reactions your brain will have to situations, or something else; if by "mind" you mean "model of your own brain", then would you agree that the question is pretty clear-cut? If by "mind" you mean something dramatically different, of course, then the argument doesn't apply. (I should have thought of this at the start - we mean different things by the word "mind", and it would have been much more sensible for neither of us to use the word, but to explain what we meant by it instead.)

    (Original post by Hypocrism)
    To use that as evidence that the mind is preserved through death, the ultimate lesion, is ridiculous.
    Indeed, I entirely agree under this viewpoint.
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    Going back to the ancient Egyptians, now that I’ve thought about it a little more, we can only say with any confidence that the ancient Egyptian elite had a belief that the heart was the centre of their ‘being’ as any representations which survive are their representations. Given that this elite were a tiny minority of the people of Egypt it could easily be the case that the wider population had little or no attachment to such an idea and may, indeed, have understood their heads (and thus their brains) as being the source of their mind, being, or whatever we choose to call it.
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    (Original post by Smaug123)
    Just to clarify, the representation of my post (I do not comment as to whether or not I believe in the view I've tried to represent) is tending towards the straw man - "the mind is preserved through death" is not what I attempted to convey, but "an aura of the mind remains and is gradually diluted after death", for a fuzzily-defined "aura" being a sort of melange of other people's representations of you.


    Well, this is sort of the same question as that of whether the mind is "spread" - after all, A is an entirely different brain to B, so naturally the computations happen in a different place. Under the view I've been representing, this could be interpreted as lending weight to the hypothesis that the mind is not located as strictly as you might think - after all, under that view, this is evidence that the "generation of the mind" is independent of the region of the brain, in the same way as "generation of the mind" is independent of which brain is used. It's evidence in favour of both viewpoints, depending on the viewpoint assumed, and hence doesn't assist you much in making a decision between them.


    Yep, the individual has a pathology which causes communication difficulties between the two halves of the brain, just as we have a "pathology" (namely, lack of telepathy) which causes communication difficulties between two brains. This causes pretty major problems sometimes, because people's models of each other don't reflect the reality, but the models are improved through the limited interaction we do have. I've said "this really hinges on" many times, it occurs to me, but I suppose the question depends on whether you consider the mind to be fundamentally a model of the reactions your brain will have to situations, or something else; if by "mind" you mean "model of your own brain", then would you agree that the question is pretty clear-cut? If by "mind" you mean something dramatically different, of course, then the argument doesn't apply. (I should have thought of this at the start - we mean different things by the word "mind", and it would have been much more sensible for neither of us to use the word, but to explain what we meant by it instead.)


    Indeed, I entirely agree under this viewpoint.
    I'm not going through this point by point, but it comes down to this: the model in B's brain is not in any way a model of A's brain. It's a model of how B has experienced A behaving. In this way it's fundamentally different, since A's brain is taking in sensory signals and giving an output, while B's brain is taking in its own sensory signals and predicting how A will behave in the circumstances. Looking at this clarification it is clear that, even if we take the wishful viewpoint that minds are spread over multiple brains, this is clearly not a case of that because all B has is a model of A's actions, nothing to do with A's brain.


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    (Original post by Hypocrism)
    I'm not going through this point by point, but it comes down to this: the model in B's brain is not in any way a model of A's brain. It's a model of how B has experienced A behaving. In this way it's fundamentally different, since A's brain is taking in sensory signals and giving an output, while B's brain is taking in its own sensory signals and predicting how A will behave in the circumstances. Looking at this clarification it is clear that, even if we take the wishful viewpoint that minds are spread over multiple brains, this is clearly not a case of that because all B has is a model of A's actions, nothing to do with A's brain.
    How about in the case that I mentioned, where A and B are two hemispheres of a single brain?
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    There's also the piece by piece argument (I'm sure it has a better name but I don't know it without bothering to research) in which we imagine replacing one small part of a human brain with an artificial one which performs exactly the same function on a molecular level. As each individual piece of 'real' brain is replaced so overall it is slowly converted from organic to non-organic, or maybe 'synthetic'. Providing each individual part being replacing performs exactly as that it has replaced then the end of the process will see an entirely 'artificial' but functioning conscious brain.
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    (Original post by Pastaferian)
    How about in the case that I mentioned, where A and B are two hemispheres of a single brain?
    I don't think it's relevant in any way. They are part of the same brain and so the same mind by the naturalist theory. The anatomy of separation of the hemispheres is not really relevant, they could be intermingled with the same functional connections and the "mind" would be identical. If you are talking about corpus callosum hemisections, I consider those varying symptoms as evidence that the mind is solely contained in the brain and not without.
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    (Original post by Hypocrism)
    I don't think it's relevant in any way. They are part of the same brain and so the same mind by the naturalist theory. The anatomy of separation of the hemispheres is not really relevant, they could be intermingled with the same functional connections and the "mind" would be identical. If you are talking about corpus callosum hemisections, I consider those varying symptoms as evidence that the mind is solely contained in the brain and not without.
    Sorry, I should have given more context. I am strictly monist - I don't believe the mind exists outside the brain either. But I am intrigued by Jaynes' hypothesis that consciousness could be a result of the interaction of the two hemispheres, though less attracted to his idea that consciousness is a recent phenomenon. When you wrote "the model in B's brain is not in any way a model of A's brain. It's a model of how B has experienced A behaving. In this way it's fundamentally different, since A's brain is taking in sensory signals and giving an output, while B's brain is taking in its own sensory signals and predicting how A will behave in the circumstances", I was trying to understand the implications if A and B are hemispheres of the same brain, each sensing the environment independently, and communicating via the corpus callosum.
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    (Original post by Pastaferian)
    Sorry, I should have given more context. I am strictly monist - I don't believe the mind exists outside the brain either. But I am intrigued by Jaynes' hypothesis that consciousness could be a result of the interaction of the two hemispheres, though less attracted to his idea that consciousness is a recent phenomenon. When you wrote "the model in B's brain is not in any way a model of A's brain. It's a model of how B has experienced A behaving. In this way it's fundamentally different, since A's brain is taking in sensory signals and giving an output, while B's brain is taking in its own sensory signals and predicting how A will behave in the circumstances", I was trying to understand the implications if A and B are hemispheres of the same brain, each sensing the environment independently, and communicating via the corpus callosum.
    It is interesting yes, but I wouldn't give it any credibility in the slightest. The hemispheres in fact do not sense the environment separately, the majority of sensory systems getting information bilaterally from the sensory organs. It's entirely incomparable to seeing the hemispheres as individuals.

    Incidentally, it might seem odd, but I don't actually believe we have consciousness. I think it's an illusion (of sorts) of our brain's memory.


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