Tuesday, December 27, 2011

369: The Brain and The Mystery of Consciousness

According to John Searle in his book "The Mystery of Consciousness" (1997), it seems that the greatest single philosophical obstacle to getting a satisfactory account of consciousness is

our continued acceptance of a set of obsolete categories, and an accompanying set of presuppositions that we have inherited from our religious and philosophical tradition.

We start off with the mistaken assumption that the notions of "mental" and "physical," of "dualism" and "monism," of "materialism" and "idealism" are clear and respectable notions as they stand,and that the issues have to be posed and resolved in these traditional terms.

We also suppose that the notion of scientific reduction - by which complex phenomena can be explained by, and in some cases eliminated in favor of, the basic mechanisms that make them work - is clear and presents few difficulties.

We then notice that consciousness, our ordinary states of sentience and awareness when we are awake, as well as our states of dreaming when we are asleep, seem very peculiar when we compare them with such "physical" phenomena as molecules or mountains.

Compared to mountains and molecules, consciousness seems "mysterious," "ethereal," even "mystical."

Consciousness does not seem to be "physical" in the way that other features of the brain, such as neuron firings, are physical.

Nor does it seem to be reducible to physical processes by the usual sorts of scientific analyses that have worked for such physical properties as heat and solidity.

Many philosophers believe that if you grant real existence to consciousness you will be forced to some version of "dualism,"

the view that there are two metaphysically different kinds of phenomena in the universe, the mental and the physical.

Indeed for many authors, the very definition of dualism implies that if you accept, in addition to such "physical" phenomena as mountains, "mental" phenomena such as pains, you are a dualist.

But dualism as traditionally conceived seems a hopeless theory because, having made a strict distinction between the mental and the physical, it cannot then make the relation of the two intelligible.

It seems that to accept dualism is to give up the entire scientific worldview that we have spent nearly four centuries to attain. So, what are we to do?

So far John Searle, who thus outlines the program, that lays ahead of us.

There still are philosophers, who accept dualism as the real solution of the problem of consciousness. One great name here is David J. Chalmers.

But in contemporary philosophy the most common move is to insist that materialism must be right and that we must eliminate consciousness by reducing it to something else.

Favorite candidates for the phenomena to which consciousness must be reduced are brain states described in purely "physical" terms and computer programs.

Searle takes an interesting position in relation to the pragmatic and deliberate choice I made for materialism and possibly a kind of reductionism.

A good example of this reductionism is the discussion about free will. Some neuroscientists deny the existence of free will, because certain brain states are ahead of our consciousness of these states.

Before I am conscious of wanting to move my arm, there has taken place already certain brain activity, which indicates motor action.

Ok, let me assume Searle's view as leading principle for the last stage of our quest:

"consciousness is a natural, biological phenomenon. It is as much a part of our biological life as digestion, growth, or photosynthesis."

And to conclude this lecture and this year,I have granted myself with a nice Christmas holiday, which means that my next lecture will be Tuesday, January 3, 2012. ^_^

The Discussion

[13:22] :: Beertje :: (beertje.beaumont): yay!
[13:22] herman Bergson: Thank you all..... ㋡
[13:22] Bejiita Imako: ok
[13:23] Bejiita Imako: ㋡
[13:23] Mistyowl Warrhol: A conscious act? :-)
[13:23] Bejiita Imako: it sure have been an interesting year
[13:23] Bejiita Imako: ㋡
[13:23] neret Emor: thanks for the lecture, herman
[13:23] herman Bergson: my pleasure neret
[13:23] Farv Hallison: I don't do photosynthesis myself
[13:23] herman Bergson: If you have any questions left...
[13:23] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): ♥ LOL ♥
[13:23] herman Bergson: the floor is yours
[13:23] Mick Nerido: Nice summation
[13:23] Clerisse Beeswing: wow end of year already
[13:23] Bejiita Imako: ㋡
[13:23] Lizzy Pleides: Thank you fot all the wonderful lessons this year Herman
[13:24] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): jan 3 nice
[13:24] Clerisse Beeswing: you have been so great professor and everyone else too
[13:24] Bejiita Imako: yes
[13:24] :: Beertje :: (beertje.beaumont): we have a lot to think about during christmas holiday
[13:24] Bejiita Imako: been really nice this
[13:24] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): Yes-ah!
[13:24] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): oh this is always an interesting class
[13:24] herman Bergson: blushes a little...
[13:24] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): WaaaHaHAhahAHA! AhhhhHAhahhAHhahHAH! haha!
[13:24] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): for years now
[13:24] Bejiita Imako: hehehe
[13:24] Bejiita Imako: ideed
[13:24] Bejiita Imako: indeed
[13:24] Bejiita Imako: very nice
[13:25] herman Bergson: We reached the 5th year of our lectures and crossed the border of 300 too
[13:25] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): Yes-ah!
[13:25] Bejiita Imako: and got a good insight in everything
[13:25] Clerisse Beeswing: ohhh my gosh
[13:25] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): I think i have been to about 270??
[13:25] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): more or less
[13:25] Clerisse Beeswing: our brains might explode from some much thinking
[13:25] Mistyowl Warrhol: Nice, wish I hadn't missed the others.. but looking forward to future ones :-)
[13:25] herman Bergson: at least Gemma!
[13:25] Lizzy Pleides: hreman has been at all of them
[13:25] neret Emor: same here, mistyowl
[13:25] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): i just say i know that the more classes the more questions come up and allso the same ones all the time
[13:26] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): over and over
[13:26] herman Bergson: that is a good thing Gemma....
[13:26] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): the more we learn the less we understand
[13:26] Mistyowl Warrhol: Isnt that the purpose, not to teach what we know, but to lead us to learn more?
[13:26] :: Beertje :: (beertje.beaumont): end of next year you have even more questions gemma:)
[13:26] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): ♥ LOL ♥
[13:26] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): and the farther we get from graduating
[13:26] herman Bergson: I wouldnt say that Gemma....
[13:26] Bejiita Imako: hahahahahaa
[13:26] herman Bergson: I think you begin to see more and more nuances...
[13:26] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): that is true
[13:26] Clerisse Beeswing: lol nope I will never graduate from learning
[13:27] neret Emor: me neither xD
[13:27] DOMINATRIX Babii: life is one long lesson
[13:27] :: Beertje :: (beertje.beaumont): nor me:)
[13:27] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): the backbone of our class is behind us on the wall
[13:27] Clerisse Beeswing: very true dominatrix
[13:27] neret Emor: the lesson finish just in the grave
[13:27] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): we always go back to them
[13:27] herman Bergson: it may cause a feeling of knowing less and less...but in fact you see much more...
[13:27] Lizzy Pleides: true herman
[13:27] neret Emor: very true
[13:27] Bejiita Imako: aaa yes
[13:28] Bejiita Imako: and the more you see the more new questions come up
[13:28] herman Bergson: It shows you that you can't settle such questions with funny one-liners
[13:28] Bejiita Imako: but in general you know more and more
[13:28] Bejiita Imako: but that in turn raises new questions and so on
[13:28] herman Bergson: Oh I feel lost now and then myself....
[13:28] Bejiita Imako: guess that is how it it
[13:28] Bejiita Imako: is
[13:28] Lizzy Pleides: the more you know the more you doubt
[13:29] herman Bergson: looking at all the literature I have....
[13:29] Sybyle Perdide: if the number of question grows proportional to what we see more, its hard to see anything
[13:29] herman Bergson: I would look at it that way, Sybyle....
[13:29] :: Beertje :: (beertje.beaumont): we will see Sybylle..herman will leed us..
[13:29] neret Emor: but is the same along humanity history, we leanr and make lot of mistakes and its like each answer take u to the new question
[13:29] Farv Hallison: All the trees obscure my view of the forrest.
[13:30] herman Bergson: Just take my appoach of this philosophical problem....
[13:30] neret Emor: and curiousity makes us very special
[13:30] bergfrau Apfelbaum: sorry:-( but i have to much lag today. happy holidays Class! :-)))
[13:30] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): speaking of trees again
[13:30] herman Bergson: of course I have no clear cut answers...
[13:30] Mick Nerido: Thanks time for me to go
[13:30] DOMINATRIX Babii: and some people never learn from the mistakes in history :)
[13:30] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): ok bergie
[13:30] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): you too
[13:30] Mistyowl Warrhol: One has to know enough to be able to ask questions, the more they learn the more and deeper the questions.
[13:30] herman Bergson: but I make a pragmatic decision....
[13:30] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): /merry
[13:30] neret Emor: very true :D
[13:30] bergfrau Apfelbaum: **** YODEL **** HOLLA REI DULI JÖ *** YODEL ***
[13:30] Bejiita Imako: ah
[13:30] Bejiita Imako: yes
[13:30] herman Bergson: and then I put my view to the test
[13:30] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): ⁂•:._.:•⁂MERRY CHRISTMAS⁂•:._.:•⁂
[13:30] Clerisse Beeswing: Best of holidays to all
[13:31] :: Beertje :: (beertje.beaumont): i have to go..have a merry Christmas or Saturnalia:)))
[13:31] Bejiita Imako: same to you ㋡
[13:31] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): Bye, Bye ㋡
[13:31] neret Emor: merry christmas gemma
[13:31] herman Bergson: Not to get my view confirmed....but to get my view tested
[13:31] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): beertje
[13:31] Bejiita Imako: cu beertje
[13:31] DOMINATRIX Babii: have a lovely holiday everybody:)
[13:31] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): ♥ Thank Youuuuuuuuuu!! ♥
[13:31] Clerisse Beeswing: May we keep learning into the next and next new year
[13:31] Sybyle Perdide: as you do, Beertje
[13:31] Lizzy Pleides: same to you Beertje
[13:31] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): Yes-ah!
[13:31] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): we will
[13:31] Nitro Fireguard: ·Bye Bertje
[13:31] :: Beertje :: (beertje.beaumont): bye bye
[13:31] Bejiita Imako: yes
[13:31] Bejiita Imako: ㋡
[13:31] Clerisse Beeswing: Thanks professor
[13:31] Bejiita Imako: looking forward to it
[13:31] neret Emor: mery crhistmas beertje
[13:31] herman Bergson: Well...Qwark isnt online. I guess I have a merry crowd here now....
[13:31] Bejiita Imako: hugs beertje
[13:31] Nitro Fireguard: I have to go too
[13:31] Mistyowl Warrhol: Bye Beertje :-) hugs
[13:32] herman Bergson: So....I all wish you the happiest holidays...!
[13:32] Bejiita Imako: bye then Notro
[13:32] neret Emor: marry xmas as well, nitro :)
[[13:32] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): ♥ Thank Youuuuuuuuuu!! ♥
[13:32] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): herman
[13:32] herman Bergson: Class dismissed ㋡
[13:32] Bejiita Imako: tnx Herman ㋡
[13:32] Nitro Fireguard smiles
[[13:32] Bejiita Imako: \o/
[13:32] Bejiita Imako: || Hoooo!
[13:32] Bejiita Imako: / \
[13:32] Nitro Fireguard: thank you
[[13:32] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): i hope we will see you dancing over the holidays one day
[13:32] Bejiita Imako: have a good christmas and new year Herman
[[13:32] Bejiita Imako: and cu after that next year
[13:32] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): Yes-ah!
[13:32] herman Bergson: Have yourself a merry little Xmas and a happy New Year ^_^
[13:32] DOMINATRIX Babii: see you in 2012 :)
[13:32] neret Emor: see u soon bejiita
[13:33] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): if i cannot make the 3rd will be there on the 5th
[13:33] Nitro Fireguard: Happy christmas to all the philosophers
[13:33] Bejiita Imako: YAY! (yay!)
[13:33] Bejiita Imako: ok cu all
[13:33] herman Bergson: thank you all for your participation!
[13:33] Bejiita Imako: really nice
[13:33] Sybyle Perdide: thanks for take us with you, Herman
[13:33] Bejiita Imako: ok bye then
[13:33] Bejiita Imako: ㋡
[13:34] herman Bergson: Bye Bejiita
[13:34] neret Emor: bye bejiita
[13:34] Mistyowl Warrhol: and my outfit is Beertje's christmas one from her store :-)
[13:34] DOMINATRIX Babii: bye bejiita:)
[13:34] Sybyle Perdide: bye Bejita
[13:34] Farv Hallison: good bye all you lovely philosophers.
[13:34] Sybyle Perdide: bye Farv
[13:34] neret Emor: bye farv, have a nice xmas
[13:35] herman Bergson: Bye Farv..have a good time!
[13:35] Mistyowl Warrhol: If I dont see anyone before.. TC, be safe and healthy, have a happy holiday season.. and warm New Year.
[13:35] Sybyle Perdide: good holidays to you, Herman
[13:35] Sybyle Perdide: and we will meet again in 2012
[13:35] Sybyle Perdide: : )
[13:35] Sybyle Perdide: I am curious
[13:36] Lizzy Pleides: yes have wonderful holidays Herman and all others
[13:36] herman Bergson: Will be an interesting 2012 Sybyle...
[13:36] Sybyle Perdide: I am sure
[13:36] neret Emor: see u the next class
[13:36] Sybyle Perdide: enjoy your holidays
[13:36] herman Bergson: ok neret :-)

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