The Ghost in the Shell...

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The Ghost in the Shell...
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Is consciousness real? Is it a substantive phenomenon?

If consciousness is real, is it kept in the mind? The brain?

Consider this...to a homo sapien like you and I grass is not food. Now consider a cow. A cow eats grass. The physical relationship between the cow and the grass is what makes it food. We don't eat grass, so if you asked a human, grass is not food. But to the cow it clearly is. Therefore the quality of being food-like comes from neither the cow, nor the grass, nor the human. It comes from the process of the cow finding the grass and eating it.

Does consciousness work in the same way?

Is consciousness purely a social construct?  

Can you measure a thought? An idea? A memory? A feeling? Can you point it out in space/time, plot it on a chart? What about consciousness? Can it be directly, physically observed?

Is consciousness functional or substantive? Is it located within the social world, or the brain?

Fred
I think consciousness has one

I think consciousness has one foot in the brain and another in  the social world. The brain provides an individual subjective awareness - or so it feels like - but what its aware of has all to come from the social world outside which, I suppose(?) it kind of interprets. Or not. As the case may be. But there's also  false consciousness as well.  Ideology.  Given the dominance of the bourgeoisie, it is their ideology which we breathe daily like poison gas, like it or not. What we have to do is try and identify through critique of daily life what is false - lies, rumor and taken-for-granted hearsay - from the actual reality in front of us which manifests itself as consciousness. (At least I think maybe!) 

It is essential for humanity's next and vital evolutionary jump, that consciousness wins against mere crappy ideology. We will do this by (1) the working class developing enough class consciousness internationally for us to dispose of capitalism.  Then (2)  true consciousness will spread across the globe.  NB To write 'true consciousness" is foolish, because how could there ever be an "untrue" consciousness?  But could there be a "mistaken" consciousness?  I suppose there might, but we would learn from our mistakes wouldn't we, rather than go on repeating them llike the bourgeoisie. 

I like to think that when consciousness rules the world things will be so different that we living now wouldn't be able to recognize them.  So many things that we take for granted and suffer under will have gone.  Like the awful responsibility of being an isolated individual in charge of an individual fate, seemingly the product of an individual brain. To be able to let go of this stupid idea, and see life as a communal experience and thought and ideas as communal practice, will be a most joyous emancipation.  Education will be transformed into something quite beyond our feeble understanding of what passes for education now - the passing on of received ideas and ideology - and become the way in which all of  humanity's joint talents find their means of expression.  What is created out of this, a whole new joy of life, will be human consciousness made visible.  We will see it and rejoice. 

 

We will see it Jamal, and dig it.  We will hear it in the music and dig it. And love will be fabulous, and we'll dig that too.  Fred. 

I hope I'm not going to lose this post too. 

jaycee
This quote from Marx is

This quote from Marx is relavent I think.

"The chief defect of all hitherto existing materialism – that of Feuerbach included – is that the thing, reality, sensuousness, is conceived only in the form of the object or of contemplation, but not as sensuous human activity, practice, not subjectively. Hence, in contradistinction to materialism, the active side was developed abstractly by idealism – which, of course, does not know real, sensuous activity as such.

Feuerbach wants sensuous objects, really distinct from the thought objects, but he does not conceive human activity itself as objectiveactivity. Hence, in The Essence of Christianity, he regards the theoretical attitude as the only genuinely human attitude, while practice is conceived and fixed only in its dirty-judaical manifestation. Hence he does not grasp the significance of “revolutionary”, of “practical-critical”, activity.

The question whether objective truth can be attributed to human thinking is not a question of theory but is a practical question. Man must prove the truth — i.e. the reality and power, the this-sidedness of his thinking in practice. The dispute over the reality or non-reality of thinking that is isolated from practice is a purely scholastic question."

I think Marx is saying here that Materialism has not yet come to terms with consciousness, I think this is still true today. As we discussed in the 'science and belief' thread 'science' i.e. bourgeois science and bourgeois materialism cannot really deal with consciousness precisely becasue as Jamal says you can't really 'measure' a thought.

That is consciousness canot be reduced to a 'thing'. This is shown all the time in 'neuro-science' etc where it is often attempted to reduce all thoughts feelings etc to chemical/physical and the lived experience and dialectical interaction between subject and object isn't really taken into consideration. 

theres more to say but i can't think of it now 

 

Fred
the Omega Point

Lets go mystical.  This is about Pierre Teilhard de Chardin and the concept of the NOOSPHERE. 

Quote:
 For Teilhard, the noosphere emerges through and is constituted by the interaction of human minds. The noosphere has grown in step with the organization of the human mass in relation to itself as it populates the Earth. As mankind organizes itself in more complex social networks, the higher the noosphere will grow in awareness. This concept extends Teilhard's Law of Complexity/Consciousness, the law describing the nature of evolution in the universe. Teilhard argued the noosphere is growing towards an even greater integration and unification, culminating in the Omega Point, which he saw as the goal of history. The goal of history, then, is an apex of thought/consciousness.
This is from an article on Wikipedia.  

 

As far as I know I am not religious, though perhaps the word is open to redefinition. But I am very curious about consciousness and its and our ongoing evolution, currently blocked by the bourgeoisie's relations of production.  Teilhard was a Jesuit I think,  but if you substitute the word "consciousness" for "noosphere" in the above quote,  and communism for the  Omega  Point,  then what is said makes some sense.  Also included in this Wikipedia article are references to evolutionists who have similar ideas about the growth of consciousness - or the noosphere - and see some sort of human creativity at work in our evolution, which proceeds in jumps (isn't that what Jay Gould suggests?) and  which appears to challenge Darwin's view of it as largely accidental.  I hope I've got that right?  It is a complicated  subject,  in case anyone hasn't noticed! 

 

The only reason for dragging in what might be regarded as "the mystical approach to consciousness" is mainly, I think, as a result of Jaycee's ruminations above, and the  quotes from Marx and Feuerbach.  

 

But perhaps we don't fully appreciate the enormous material impact that the release of consciousness among the mass of humanity will bring about.  The OMEGA POINT makes it sound like science fiction. It'll certainly be a scientific breakthrough of enormous proportions and significance wont it?  And the pursuit of such fiction now, if that's what it is, at least provides a temporary escape from the horrors of the current world situation, with all its spies, threats  and fear;  and war, starvation, destruction and miserable deaths all over the planet. 

jaycee
I'm glad someone else has

I'm glad someone else has brought up Teilard De Chardain becasuse I have often thought about his theories and how they relate to Marxism and our view of history.

I agree that his point is basicaly correct in that I think the evolutionof conscisousness (in its human/'rational' sense) is far from an accident and reflects the strivings of nature/evolution/the universe itself. That is you can see in consciousness an attempt on the part of evolution to overcome its own contradictions and rise beyond the 'fight for survival' into a new level of being.

I see it a bit like this, before biological life evolved their was the peace/homeostasis of non organic being, with the emergence of 'life' their is a new level of consciousness and a new level of seperateness which produces the fight for survival. But in this fight there is already an attempt to overcome the 'struggle' namely by winning the fight. Maybe this is why there seems to be such an emphasis on might and size in the first 'round' of evolution anyway I see consciousness as an attempt on the part of nature to go beyond this struggle.

Many mystical currents all around the world and throuhjout history has argued that the reason for existence is the universes/God's wish to see itself, putting that way seems to contradict the Darwinian view of evolution a bit but who knows.

 

jk1921
I am skpetical of the idea

I am skpetical of the idea that history itself has a goal. There seems to be a good deal of anthropomorphosizing going on in that concept.

I also don't undertstand the fetishization of "human creativity" and its juxtaposition to historical accident. So what if evolution took place largely by accident? How much of our lives are the result of pure accident today? Is that what communism is supposed to be about--the transcendence of accidents? Is the conept of accident some stand in for the alienation of the apparant randomness of the universe? Will there be car accidents in communism?

jaycee
I think the word 'goal' is

I think the word 'goal' is problematic because it implies 'finality' and consciousness ( consciusness meaning what we experience as consciousness, which clearly does not exist in 'nature' without humans). However I would think of it more as a propensity or tendency within the process itself.

In terms of history (meaning human history) I think history is motivated by unconscious strivings and an urge to create and discover as well as material need (which is the basis but not the whole story). 

Anthropomorposizing is a real danger to fall into but so is the modern tendency to sever everything human off from the rest of existence, to an extent we can't avoid a degree of anthropomorphosizing when we talk about anything, expecially something as indescribable as 'existence' or even 'evolution' and what drives it.

I was thinking recently something similar to your point about the over-emphasis on human creativity and consciousness. I was thinking that by focussing on what distinguishs humanity from the rest of nature we can again seperate humanity too much from nature and exagerate the particular at the expense of the universal.

Obviously their will still be accidents in communism and the drive to control the world around us is in some ways an unhealthy compulsion itself but I think in communism what can be controlled within reason will be but that humans will also be better trained/more able to deal with misfortune when it does face them because they will have a real community to support them and their lives will be generally healthier and happier overall.

jk1921
Nice Post. Jaycee.

Nice post, Jaycee.

Redacted
Great thread. First off,

Great thread.

First off, about the attempts of neuroscientists, etc to "measure" thoughts or even consciousness as a whole...this really intrigues me. I think there is some merit to what they are doing and it shouldn't be written off so quickly.

Clearly there is some part of our minds/nervous systems that go "on" and "off." Take someone in a coma for example. Brain activity is concentrated in particular areas in order to manage what I believe is called your "automated nervous system." So what happens differently between that person in a coma whose brain activity is at a minimum and the healthy waking person?

This makes me think that somehow consciuosness (in the narrowest sense, ie waking vs sleeping) is substantive, it is somehow a "thing" in some ways. Or rather a system of "things" or bodily processes. It may eventually end up that we really get a good grasp on how the brain works and how these processes work. If that happens, would it ever be possible to transfer memories, thoughts, being-essence into a cyber-brain (computer)? Or maybe even upload my consciousness into a network to be shared/distributed by many different computers?

Furthermore, how does that relate to this concept of the "noosphere?" Has the noosphere already become a reality in the form of the world wide web (internet)?

Let's not forget that we are not the only "conscious" species on earth. Whales and dolphins in the last few decades only have been proven to have concept of self, tight family units, names and possibly even intricate languages complete with regional dialects! Orca's have been observed planning their hunts. According to many scientists that is also the point at which early Homos like Homo erectus and others really left the domain of monkeys and started truly becoming modern humans.

The last thing I wanted to try to tie in with this discussion is how modern physics plays into all of this. If we were able to digitalize our consciousnesses and store them in a web/network, wouldn't that basically be another dimension or universe? One not necessarily bound to the rules of space/time in the universe we exist within now...

There is also the concept of quantum non-locality or as Einstein called it "spooky action at a distance."

And lastly before my brain explodes, it may just be a coincidence but PET scanners are the modern technology that allows us to study the brain, thoughts, etc in the way we do. The way PET scanners work is by creating mini-gamma ray bursts inside your brain. These gamma ray bursts come from the annihilation of positrons and electrons. Positrons are the antimatter equivelent of electrons.

Redacted
Great thread. First off,

Great thread.

First off, about the attempts of neuroscientists, etc to "measure" thoughts or even consciousness as a whole...this really intrigues me. I think there is some merit to what they are doing and it shouldn't be written off so quickly.

Clearly there is some part of our minds/nervous systems that go "on" and "off." Take someone in a coma for example. Brain activity is concentrated in particular areas in order to manage what I believe is called your "automated nervous system." So what happens differently between that person in a coma whose brain activity is at a minimum and the healthy waking person?

This makes me think that somehow consciuosness (in the narrowest sense, ie waking vs sleeping) is substantive, it is somehow a "thing" in some ways. Or rather a system of "things" or bodily processes. It may eventually end up that we really get a good grasp on how the brain works and how these processes work. If that happens, would it ever be possible to transfer memories, thoughts, being-essence into a cyber-brain (computer)? Or maybe even upload my consciousness into a network to be shared/distributed by many different computers?

Furthermore, how does that relate to this concept of the "noosphere?" Has the noosphere already become a reality in the form of the world wide web (internet)?

Let's not forget that we are not the only "conscious" species on earth. Whales and dolphins in the last few decades only have been proven to have concept of self, tight family units, names and possibly even intricate languages complete with regional dialects! Orca's have been observed planning their hunts. According to many scientists that is also the point at which early Homos like Homo erectus and others really left the domain of monkeys and started truly becoming modern humans.

The last thing I wanted to try to tie in with this discussion is how modern physics plays into all of this. If we were able to digitalize our consciousnesses and store them in a web/network, wouldn't that basically be another dimension or universe? One not necessarily bound to the rules of space/time in the universe we exist within now...

There is also the concept of quantum non-locality or as Einstein called it "spooky action at a distance."

And lastly before my brain explodes, it may just be a coincidence but PET scanners are the modern technology that allows us to study the brain, thoughts, etc in the way we do. The way PET scanners work is by creating mini-gamma ray bursts inside your brain. These gamma ray bursts come from the annihilation of positrons and electrons. Positrons are the antimatter equivelent of electrons.

jk1921
Archimedian Point

Jamal wrote:

It may eventually end up that we really get a good grasp on how the brain works and how these processes work. If that happens, would it ever be possible to transfer memories, thoughts, being-essence into a cyber-brain (computer)?

For what its worth, a neuroscientist once told me that he seriously doubted the brain would ever be able to "understand itself," the way it can understand how the kidney, liver, etc. function. It simply cannot get outside of itself in the way this would require. There is no Archimedian point from which the brain can access every intricacy of its own functioning. I guess its something like how we can never get outside of history. I don't know if he is right about this, but his remarks impressed me deserving of consideration.