Consciousless

Consciousless

Consciousless

{

Our common-sense conception of psychological phenomena constitutes a radically false theory, a theory so fundamentally defective that both the principles and the ontology of that theory will eventually be displaced, rather than smoothly reduced, by completed neuroscience

Churchland 1981, 67

According to some researchers, like Paul Churchland , what we experience as our own consciousness, is actually just a kind of illusion. It just seems to us that we experience things and are self-aware, but what is actually going on is something completely different. The idea that we would be conscious subjects with all kinds of thoughts is just a misconception: we take illusions to be the real thing. We made up words for these phantoms (“anger”, “fear”, “love”, “hate”, etc.), but now that we have developed a much more accurate and detailed neuroscience, we can finally get rid of these superstitions, of this “folk-psychology”.

According to some researchers, like Paul Churchland, what we experience as our own consciousness, is actually just a kind of illusion. It just seems to us that we experience things and are self-aware, but what is actually going on is something completely different. The idea that we would be conscious subjects with all kinds of thoughts is just a misconception: we take illusions to be the real thing. We made up words for these phantoms (“anger”, “fear”, “love”, “hate”, etc.), but now that we have developed a much more accurate and detailed neuroscience, we can finally get rid of these superstitions, of this “folk-psychology”.

To quote Churchland, who advocates this type of eliminative materialism:

“The red surface of an apple does not look like a matrix of molecules reflecting photons at certain critical wavelengths, but that is what it is. The sound of a flute does not sound like a sinusoidal compression wave train in the atmosphere, but that is what it is. The warmth of the summer air does not feel like the mean kinetic energy of millions of tiny molecules, but that is what it is. If one’s pains and hopes and beliefs do not introspectively seem like electrochemical states in a neural network, that may be only because our faculty of introspection, like our other senses, is not sufficiently penetrating to reveal such hidden details.”>/em>

In this post the images comes from:

  1. Ksu&Eli from Pexels
  2. Wilson Vitorino from Pexels
  3. DAMIAN NIOLET from Pixabay

However, there is nothing in the wavelengths between 380 and 750 nanometers that makes them somehow intrinsically “red” or “blue”. Only a brain can apparently turn this wavelength into a subjective experience of a color.

Isn’t this precisely what neuro-psychology should explain instead of eliminate? Why we have a mental life at all?

How the physical processes in our brain cause us to feel or believe something?

Saying that something is an illusion, doesn’t make the illusion go away, nor does it explain why it occurs in the first place or how it is brought about.

What is the clever trick that our brains use to make us believe that we are actually more than just brains?

BrainJam Blog will go on holiday …
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28 August
with new and interesting topics

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As the World Seems

As the World Seems

As the World Seems

We have heretofore confused the notion of the power with which the soul acts on the body with the power with which one body acts on another.

Descartes to Elizabeth, 21 May 1643

Julia and John are talking about the following article:
Brain wifi

In this post the images comes from:

  1. Pete Linforth from Pixabay
  2. Wilson Vitorino from Pexels

In this post the dialogue is realised by an interaction of virtual characters, for more information please check the page “Virtual characters

John

I must say, I really liked the conclusion of your piece 😉

Today 17:07   

Julia

Thanks! 😊                                                                                                  

Today 17:07

John

I had no clue that Brentano was an inspiration for both Gestalt psychology and phenomenology

Today 17:08   

Julia

Once you go looking for stuff like intentionality you can’t get around Brentano really

Today 17:08

John

Yeah, intentionality always seemed like a topic that was too technical

Today 17:09   

Julia

Do you think I explain it OK?  😊                                                             

Today 17:09

John

As far as I can see, yes, but I’m no philosopher. The way you link it consciousness works really well though

Today 17:10   

Julia

We seem to leave the thinking subject out of the equation when we just look at the brain

Today 17:11

John

Yeah, we can see the stimulus, the thing in the world that causes our impressions

Today 17:11  

Julia

and we can see the chain of effects it has on the brain                      

Today 17:12

John

but it seems like we don’t really look at the one doing the thinking, having the thoughts anymore.😏

Today 17:13   

Julia

Brentano helps a lot there, since he makes it clear it is precisely not the soul or spirit or whatever that is the problem

Today 17:14

John

Right, the whole “psychology without a soul” thing you quote

Today 17:14   

Julia

Yep: Lange’s History of Materialism from 1866.                                   

Today 17:15

John

Ha! You certainly know your stuff.😊

Today 17:15   

Julia

The main point is that phenomenology reminds us that it is not just objects affecting objects, the world affecting the brain

Today 17:16

Julia

but objects affecting subjects, the world appearing to a conscious mind.

Today 17:16

John

I still think that the last bit might be a bit abstract for a lot of readers, but as I said: I liked it! 😊

Today 17:17   

Julia

So you think the magazine will accept it?                                               

Today 17:18

John

I think so, but there will no doubt be some requests for changes and copyediting to deal with

Today 17:18   

Julia

Great! I look forward to how people will react to it! 😊                     

Today 17:20

… The End …

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Zap goes the Neuron

Zap goes the Neuron

If I do not greatly deceive myself, I have succeeded in realizing… the hundred years’ dream of physicists and physiologists, to wit, the identity of the nervous principle with electricity

read more

Write What you don’t Know

Write What you don’t Know

Write What you don’t Know

The task of a science of consciousness is to systematically integrate two key classes of data into a scientific framework:

Third-person data, or data about behavior and brain processes
and
First-person data, or data about subjective experience

Chalmers 2004

Julia and John are talking about the following article:
Do We Need To Study The Brain To Understand The Mind?

In this post the images comes from:

  1. Suzy Hazelwood from Pexels
  2. Markus Spiske from Pexels

In this post the dialogue is realised by an interaction of virtual characters, for more information please check the page “Virtual characters

Julia

I think I’ve got the final part worked out now                                        

Today 17:06

John

I agree, this makes for a nice closer to the series😊

Today 17:07   

Julia

Since you mentioned Descartes _twice_ I just had to include him😊 

Today 17:07

John

Ha! But I couldn’t believe what you wrote at first and had to look it up 😄

Today 17:08   

Julia

That Descartes is not actually a dualist? I was surprised too at first

Today 17:08

John

Yeah! I always thought he was the main example for completely separating mind and body

Today 17:09   

Julia

Well, in a sense you’re right, but he also does say that “I and the body constitute one single thing”

Today 17:09

John

Sounds perfectly logical, but the way he explains the link …

Today 17:10   

Julia

He just points out that mind-body interaction works differently from body-body interaction

Today 17:11

John

So looking at how matter and energy bounce around in the brain …

Today 17:11  

Julia

… can’t tell the whole story about the mind and consciousness        

Today 17:12

John

I think I actually agree, but isn’t that very sceptical? 😏

Today 17:13   

Julia

A bit: “Ignoramus et ignorabimus” (Du Bois-Reymond 1872)             

Today 17:14

John

My French might be rusty, but my Latin is non-existent

Today 17:14   

Julia

“We don’t know and will never know” how the brain causes the mind

Today 17:15

John

And that gives you the jumping-off point to discuss alternatives

Today 17:15   

Julia

Indeed! Do you think it works?                                                                 

Today 17:16

John

As long as you keep the Latin to a minimum … 😊

Today 17:17   

Julia

I’ll just paraphrase him then and reference the original                     

Today 17:18

John

That would be better. 👍

Today 17:18   

… Continue to read the conversation between John and Julia 
on Saturday 24th July…

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Barking up the Evolutionary Tree

Barking up the Evolutionary Tree

Barking up the Evolutionary Tree

Throughout nature almost every part of each living being has probably served, in a slightly modified condition, for diverse purposes, and has acted in the living machinery of many ancient and distinct specific forms.

Darwin 1862, 348

Julia and John are talking about the following article:
A New Theory Explains How Consciousness Evolved

In this post the images comes from:

  1. Misha Voguel from Pexels
  2.  Chris Helgren / Reuters
  3. liggraphy from Pixabay

In this post the dialogue is realised by an interaction of virtual characters, for more information please check the page “Virtual characters

John

OK, I got your draft, read it through, and I have some suggestions

Today 17:05

John

First of all: it is too long and too detailed, I suggest we split it up 😉

Today 17:06

Julia

So I can elaborate and explain?                                                              

Today 17:06

John

Indeed. But I did like the setup of the argument a lot! 😊

Today 17:07   

Julia

Nice! I noticed there were so many early breakthroughs thanks to experiments on the brain 🧠

Today 17:07

John

that this became the dominant paradigm and we kinda forgot about consciousness

Today 17:08   

Julia

Exactly! And then there is the bit at the end about the alternatives

Today 17:08

John

OK, you should work those out in a separate article, and you have to explain about Darwin first

Today 17:09   

Julia

“The difference in mind between man and the higher animals, great as it is, certainly is one of degree and not of kind”                    (Darwin 1871, 106)

Today 17:09

Julia

This basically allowed us to translate what happens in animal brains to human brains

Today 17:10

Julia

and since for the longest time animals were seen as barely more than machines …

Today 17:11

John

… basically we’re back to Descartes, who thought our bodies were biological robots. 🤖

Today 17:12   

Julia

It basically enabled the whole paradigm: to understand the mind, we investigate the brain, humans are sufficiently like animals, so …

Today 17:14

John

we can learn about humans by studying animals, and reduce the whole shebang to biological mechanisms. Clever.

Today 17:15  

Julia

And then I introduce some alternative approaches and critiques    

Today 17:15

Julia

William James said that despite all the biological explanations it is still a complete mystery “how a motion became a feeling”.

Today 17:16

John

You do need to explain that a bit more though …

Today 17:17   

Julia

Basically by reducing the mind to the brain we try to explain consciousness by matter in motion …

Today 17:18

John

… basically we’re back to Descartes. Sorry, I’m repeating myself 😄

Today 17:18   

Julia

Well, Descartes thought that this couldn’t be done at all, that we needed something other than matter to explain the mind

Today 17:20

… Continue to read the conversation between John and Julia 
on Saturday 17th July…

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ExcreMental

ExcreMental

ExcreMental

Thought is an adaptive brain-activity

Van de Grind, 1997, 16

Julia and John are talking about the following article: Theoretical Models of Consciousness

In this post the dialogue is realised by an interaction of virtual characters, for more information please check the page “Virtual characters

Julia

Thank you for the instructions, I’ve started writing and have some questions

Today 16:42

John

Shoot! 😊

Today 16:43

Julia

Do you think I can quote some of the old texts in the article or is that too boring?

Today 16:43

John

Well, that depends. A short, punchy one-liner should be fine.

Today 16:44   

Julia

OK, here’s a few I was thinking about using:                                         

Today 16:45

Julia

“Thoughts stand in the same relation to the brain as urine to the kidneys” (Vogt,1846)

Today 16:46

Julia

“No thought without phosphorus” (Moleschott ,1852)                        

Today 16:46

Julia

“The brain creates a conscious field just as the stomach and digestive tract create digestion.” (Searle ,2005)

Today 16:47

John

Holy moly! Last one’s a bit long, but those are certainly fine!

Today 16:48   

Julia

Yeah, I was doubting that last one, but I wanted to show how we still think in those same terms about the brain and the mind  😊

Today 16:49

John

They do sound similar, but are they really the same, more than a century later?

Today 16:50   

Julia

I found someone saying literally the same thing as Searle, but it’s in French:

Today 16:50

Julia

Pour se faire une idée juste des opérations de la pensée, il faut considérer le cerveau comme un organe particulier, destiné spécialement à la produire; de même que l’estomac et les intestins à faire la digestion” (Cabanis ,1802)

Today 16:52

John

OK, that is too long and too French … my high school French is quite rusty, but that does sound like literally the same, yeah. 😊

Today 16:53   

Julia

Cabanis is basically saying that the brain produces though like the stomach produces digestion, so …

Today 16:54

John

You could just reference it, without the whole quote.

Today 16:54  

Julia

I guess that would work too.                                                                    

Today 16:55

John

Good find, those quotes are quite thought provoking. So are you arguing against progress in neuroscience?

Today 16:56   

Julia

Oh no, not at all! Just that there’s some very basic assumptions we’ve kept since the beginning. 😊

Today 16:57

John

OK, even more looking forward to your draft!

Today 16:58   

… Continue to read the conversation between John and Julia  on Saturday 10th July…

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