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Atoms and Consciousness watch

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    OK we are all made up of nothing but atoms; things that we consider to be completly unconscious however we areconscious. How can something come to be that is conscious if all it is made up of is unconscious parts (its like making something taste of chocolate by using nothing but cabbage). So the question that presents itself is this: Do atoms in fact hold tiny amounts of consiousness (if not how can we explain our consciousness)? If atoms are in fact conscious this opens up some revolutionary conclusions such as the fact that we never really die but instead change into a new conscious form. There is a theory that states that this is true (I think its called Gaia theory) - what do you lot think though?

    EDIT - please do not think that this is my idea - I'm just presenting it to you as its been presented to me.
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    (Original post by Chubb)
    OK we are all made up of nothing but atoms; things that we consider to be completly unconscious however we areconscious. How can something come to be that is conscious if all it is made up of is unconscious parts (its like making something taste of chocolate by using nothing but cabbage). So the question that presents itself is this: Do atoms in fact hold tiny amounts of consiousness (if not how can we explain our consciousness)? If atoms are in fact conscious this opens up some revolutionary conclusions such as the fact that we never really die but instead change into a new conscious form. There is a theory that states that this is true (I think its called Gaia theory) - what do you lot think though?

    A car is made up of inanimate parts that are individually useless, but put the parts together and you have a complex animate machine. This is because the summation of these parts is greater than their individual worth. Just like us.
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    (Original post by Chubb)
    OK we are all made up of nothing but atoms; things that we consider to be completly unconscious however we areconscious. How can something come to be that is conscious if all it is made up of is unconscious parts (its like making something taste of chocolate by using nothing but cabbage). So the question that presents itself is this: Do atoms in fact hold tiny amounts of consiousness (if not how can we explain our consciousness)? If atoms are in fact conscious this opens up some revolutionary conclusions such as the fact that we never really die but instead change into a new conscious form. There is a theory that states that this is true (I think its called Gaia theory) - what do you lot think though?
    I think you should go and learn some cognitive neuroscience. Your idea that humans are conscious but made entirely of atoms, so atoms must be conscious is ludicrously reductionist and makes no logical scientific sense.

    Consciousness is a result of our biologically complex brain anatomy and the biochemical network of neuronal synapses.
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    (Original post by spk)
    I think you should go and learn some cognitive neuroscience. Your idea that humans are conscious but made entirely of atoms, so atoms must be conscious is ludicrously reductionist and maked no logical scientific sense.

    Consciousness is a result of our biologically complex brain anatomy and the biochemical network of neuronal synapses.
    Not my idea - its the idea of a groop of scientist / nut cases that were trying to explain why bacteria in the middle of the Atlantic were producing water vapour for no apparent reason - the water vapour then went on to produce cloads and so was vital to other creatures.

    I was just asking what you people thought about it.
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    (Original post by PhilipsCDRW)
    Comparing human beings to animals and rocks is like comparing the book 'The Lord of the Rings' to a box of tissues and a block of wood. There is a whole dimension to us that is not composed of atoms, just like there is more to a book is more than wood fibres and ink.
    Do you think that there is something spiritual or otherwise non physical that is giving people (and animals - I'll exclude the rocks ) their consciousness then?
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    Conciousness has to be a factor beyond the units constituent parts (eg. atoms). How the atoms come together to form molecules, and build the human body in all its complexity, a product of chaos, probability and selection over millions of years. No doubt it is, and will continue to be, one of the greatest mysteries to science.

    To raise a 'pseudo-science' factor here, it sounds as though you're trying to apply some form of 'life force' to matter. Unfortunately it would seem, as far as modern physics is concerned, that this is not so! That is not to say that it is completely separate from nature, after all, nature isn't just about green leaves and animals, it also involves the universe and all it contains
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    I'm glad you made this thread - I think the problem of consciousness is one of the most interesting ones in all of philosophy! I am so mystified by this unique and strange property of this universe. Consciousness is what makes us more complex than even the sun, and somehow I doubt this property could be be commonplace in the universe. Consciousness is the only reason that there may be a reason for why we are here. Without consciousness, the universe wouldn't be aware of itself, we wouldn't have free will, we wouldn't be able to truly experience this idea of self.

    I am largely a materialist - I do not believe there is a transcendent power or truth beyond the physical. However, this does cause a problem for materialism.

    How inanimate matter can come together and produce something which even studies itself is amazing...

    Btw, if anyone is interested in this topic read the following book, it's very good: http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/...564137-7039814
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    (Original post by PhilipsCDRW)
    Not animals. I believe that animals are entirely physical, like a great organic computer in a highly advanced robot frame.
    You don't think animals are conscious?
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    (Original post by Chubb)
    Not my idea - its the idea of a groop of scientist / nut cases that were trying to explain why bacteria in the middle of the Atlantic were producing water vapour for no apparent reason - the water vapour then went on to produce cloads and so was vital to other creatures.
    I'm guessing the bacteria had some form of symbiotic relationship with the other creatures.

    Secondly could you actually define conciousness? If you mean it in an emotional sense many animals (dogs for one) have been proven to be responsive to emotions
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    (Original post by Llamas)
    You don't think animals are conscious?
    If there is a hierarchy of levels of consciousness, then yes animals are conscious but with only a limited amount of it.

    If consciousness is like a "on/off" button, then no, I don't think animals are conscious. Animals don't ponder, they are not spontaneous, they don't really KNOW they exist. How do i know this? They don't really show any signs of consciousness - creativity, curiosity, etc.
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    (Original post by piginapoke)
    Animals haven't got language like we have (yes I know we also have much more brain power but bear with me). Language lets us think abstractly, its much harder or impossible to do so without language to 'think with'.
    It is not that without a language we cannot think, it is that without language you cannot consolidate ideas and further one's own understanding.
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    (Original post by piginapoke)
    That's pretty much what I'm saying; the ability to 'ponder'.
    You cannot deny that animals have a very primative language, although there is really no proper syntax to it and is often manifested in body and facial movements.
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    (Original post by Adhsur)
    If there is a hierarchy of levels of consciousness, then yes animals are conscious but with only a limited amount of it.

    If consciousness is like a "on/off" button, then no, I don't think animals are conscious. Animals don't ponder, they are not spontaneous, they don't really KNOW they exist. How do i know this? They don't really show any signs of consciousness - creativity, curiosity, etc.
    Then you don't spend enough time around animals.

    Animals can feel pain. They have emotions. They crave companionship. They can remember. They can learn.

    Sure, they may not be as smart as us and can't communicate or think in as complex a way as us. Doesn't make them any less conscious.

    As you go up the ladder of intelligence your argument becomes even more clearly a piece of conjecture: http://www.findarticles.com/p/articl...20/ai_57042507
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    (Original post by Adhsur)
    If there is a hierarchy of levels of consciousness, then yes animals are conscious but with only a limited amount of it.
    This could be analogous to the hierachy in levels of functionality, w.r.t technology. For example in how functionality of computers continues to increase with advances in technology. Perhaps this will reflect upon developments in AI/'Learning' type developments. I think that biological and artificial development may not be so different in the future.
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    (Original post by Adhsur)
    If there is a hierarchy of levels of consciousness, then yes animals are conscious but with only a limited amount of it.

    If consciousness is like a "on/off" button, then no, I don't think animals are conscious. .
    if you sub-categorise consciousness, species must also be catagorised. since we are only a product of evolution, there must be a gradual change where different levels of consciousness are exhibited. therefore i don't think you can compare it to an 'on/off' button since consciousness is simply a word invented by ourselves to describe a state of mind.

    (Original post by Adhsur)
    Animals don't ponder, they are not spontaneous, they don't really KNOW they exist. How do i know this? They don't really show any signs of consciousness - creativity, curiosity, etc
    primitive animals maybe, but 'higher' animals such as dolphins and chimps demonstrate a wide range of creativity, curiosity etc. where do you draw the line? the line can only be drawn in respect of our human definition of the word, not the actual psychological manifestations of consciousness.
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    (Original post by piginapoke)
    Its not abstract in the way that our language is abstract I don't think (which I think is necessary for advanced thought). They have primitive emotions and can recognise objects (so you could say they have an internal representation of some nouns), but they don't have abstract concepts (e.g. an 'intention').
    While most animals arn't capable of complex thought like that I wouldn't be so quick as to claim it unique to humans. Some of the more advanced animals might have very complex thoughts, however it would be very hard to deduce this through observation alone.

    Even something as simple as a cat exhibits emotions like embarassment or sympathy.

    I don't think any of this is an argument that animals arn't conscious, or are simply biological machines. I think the real reason many people are loathe to give any status to animals is that it becomes hard to rationalise how we treat them afterwards.

    Another factor may be the collective human ego has very much elevated itself "above" animals, influenced by religion. Most religion elevates humanity on to a special pedastal, favoured by God, leaving animals souless.
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    (Original post by Llamas)
    As you go up the ladder of intelligence your argument becomes even more clearly a piece of conjecture: http://www.findarticles.com/p/articl...20/ai_57042507
    i completely agree.
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    (Original post by Piginapoke)
    Animals haven't got language like we have (yes I know we also have much more brain power but bear with me). Language lets us think abstractly, its much harder or impossible to do so without language to 'think with'.
    Yes I think characteristics such as the ability to formulate a complex language system, creativity, brain power (I do believe brain power and consciousness are directly linked...what kind of animal would do something as complex as maths?). Also it's the fact that humans are the only 'animals' who can go against nature: they can commit suicide, they can abstain from reproduction etc. This shows that animals are blindly doing what nature intended (indicating lack of choice and hence lack of consciousness).

    (Original post by Llamas)
    Animals can feel pain. They have emotions. They crave companionship. They can remember. They can learn.

    Sure, they may not be as smart as us and can't communicate or think in as complex a way as us. Doesn't make them any less conscious.
    What does learning mean? A parrot can learn an alphabet or a dictionary but does it really know what the words mean? Does it understand what it is doing when it is apparently learning?

    I do not deny that animals possess some characteristics such as emotions, and memory that humans possess too. But it is difficult not to see that all these attributes are significantly more basic than ours. Since consciousness is a mental thing and all these things are also mental, this suggests that their consciousness must also be limited, if it is there at all.
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    (Original post by piginapoke)
    I'm not claiming it is unique to humans. But what I am claiming is that language (which is learned) allows for more complex thought, complex thought can't be acheived without language, and that humans have the most complex language of any animal.

    I'm not arguing that either. In my view an animal (e.g. dog) is like a human child (e.g. 1 year old) that has yet to learn language. It has emotions, can interpret sensory input, has some abstract thought and some sense of self, but none of these are approaching an adult human mind.
    I'm sorry if you felt I was directing that at you personally. It was more just a general rant aimed at anyone
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    (Original post by piginapoke)
    But, I am also of the belief that our free will is an illusion, as it is indeed a product of the brain which is just a bunch of atoms at the end of the day. If (as I believe) the conscious 'thread' is produced by the subconscious, then we do not have control over it, because we don't have control over the subconscious because its just a product of the physical processes of the brain. So while we have the power to make decisions like suicide or abstaining because of our more complex brain, we are still subject to the physical (and immutable) processes of our brain, and thus only have the illusion of making choices.
    Yes, I think free will is an illusion as well - I believe our actions are largely if not entirely determined by our environment and our genes. I think consciousness is one of the main arguments for people who believe in free will - why would we have this illusion if we weren't free? But that is to be saved for another day. Getting back to the point, I don't think the marvel of consciousness is that we actuallY DO have free will, but rather, the fact that we feel we do - we deliberate over courses of action, we ponder about what to do and discuss this, we "change our mind", etc. This on its own is enough to distinguish us from animals.
 
 
 
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