Monday, January 23, 2012

375: Consciousness and Subjectivity

Consciousness has three aspects that make it different from other biological phenomena, and indeed different from other phenomena in the natural world.

These three aspects are qualitativeness, subjectivity, and unity. These three essential features of consciousness are logically interrelated.

Qualitativeness - 'it feels like …'- implies Subjectivity - the quality of being MY experience- which implies Unity - consciousness not experiences as a big bag of individual experiences -

Previous lecture I elaborated on the qualitative feature of consciousness. Closely related to this feature is the fact that conscious states only exist when they are experienced by some human or animal subject. In that sense, they are essentially subjective.

When two people listen to a concert or look at a painting their experiences may be identical qualitatively in the sense, what is it like to listen to a concert or look at a painting.

But additionally both persons add their subjectivity to that experience, which makes the experiences unique for every person.

Because conscious states are subjective in this sense, they have what I will call a first-person ontology, as opposed to the third-person ontology of mountains and molecules, which can exist even if no living creatures exist.

Subjective conscious states have a first-person ontology ("ontology" here means mode of existence) because they only exist when they are experienced by some human or animal agent.

They are experienced by some "I" that has the experience, and it is in that sense that they have a first-person ontology.

Many philosophers and scientists also think that the subjectivity of conscious states makes it impossible to have a strict science of consciousness.

For, they argue, if science is by definition objective, and consciousness is by definition subjective, it follows that there cannot be a science of consciousness.

It looks as if there is no objective knowledge possible of consciousness. However this is a mistake, caused by the ambiguous use of the subjective - objective distinction.

In one sense, the epistemic sense ("epistemic" here means having to do with knowledge), science is indeed objective.

Scientists seek truths that are equally accessible to any competent observer and that are independent of the feelings and attitudes of the experimenters in question.

"Rutte is the prime minister of the Netherlands" and "Rutte is a good prime minister" are two statements. The first one is epistemic objective, the second one is subjective, because it is a personal opinion.

But there is another sense of the objective-subjective distinction, and that is the ontological sense ("ontological" here means having to do with existence).

Some entities, such as pains, tickles, and itches, have a subjective mode of existence, in the sense that they exist only as experienced by a conscious subject.

Others, such as mountains, molecules and tectonic plates have an objective mode of existence, in the sense that their existence does not depend on any consciousness.

From this we can conclude that the ontological subjectivity of the feeling of pain does not preclude an epistemically objective science of pain.

Although the physician does not feel your pain, which is a subjective experience, he yet can have objective knowledge about your pain and its causes and help you.

Thus the subjectivity of consciousness does not exclude the possibility of objective knowledge about consciousness.

The Discussion

[13:20] herman Bergson: Thank you.....
[13:20] Qwark Allen: ::::::::: * E * X * C * E * L * L * E * N * T * ::::::::::
[13:20] Lizzy Pleides: brilliant!
[13:20] Qwark Allen: seems we got back to dualism
[13:21] herman Bergson: The basic idea here is that if consciousness the result is of a biological process in the brain we can gain objective knowledge about the subjective mental states
[13:21] herman Bergson: No Qwark...
[13:21] herman Bergson: Only when you would agree with David Chalmers' ideas.
[13:22] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): Yeah, Im not sure what dualism is
[13:22] Qwark Allen: objectivity/subjectivity
[13:22] herman Bergson: Dualism means that we have a body ...material....and a mind.....not material
[13:22] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): Hmm something to do with Descartes as I remember
[13:23] herman Bergson: The dualist claims thus that ontologically there are two substances in the world...
[13:23] herman Bergson: material and mental substances
[13:23] herman Bergson: Yes Merlin that is Descartes..
[13:23] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): mm good :)
[13:24] herman Bergson: This idea of dualism is abandoned by almost all philosophers of mind and neuroscientists and so on
[13:24] herman Bergson: However David Chalmers is one of the few who defends some kind of dualism
[13:24] Mick Nerido: If we could mind read would that prove dualism or objectivism?
[13:24] Lizzy Pleides: it was too easy probably
[13:25] herman Bergson: Most people still have a dualist idea about body and mind Lizzy
[13:25] :: Beertje :: (beertje.beaumont): last time you told us we don't have a mind..and now you do..
[13:25] herman Bergson: while among scientists this idea is discarded completely
[13:26] herman Bergson: looks puzzled at Beertje
[13:26] herman Bergson: I hope I didnt Beertje
[13:26] :: Beertje :: (beertje.beaumont): you did
[13:26] Lizzy Pleides: how can science be objective but the scientists are not?
[13:26] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): hahaha... look in the notes
[13:26] Qwark Allen: there was something about its definition
[13:26] herman Bergson: What I may have said is that we better can use the term consciousness than mind
[13:26] herman Bergson: because mind has so many meanings
[13:26] Qwark Allen: not mind, but conscience, i think
[13:27] herman Bergson: Yes Qwark....
[13:27] herman Bergson: But if you take mind to be synonymous with consciousness there is no problem
[13:28] herman Bergson: I prefer consciousness because it also is a neurobiological concept
[13:28] druth Vlodovic: wordbaggage
[13:28] herman Bergson: Yes Druth....and the word Mind has a long history in philosophy
[13:28] druth Vlodovic: what is consciousness to a neurobiologist?
[13:29] herman Bergson: one moment Druth
[13:30] herman Bergson: I think the picture answers your question
[13:30] Qwark Allen: ㋡ ˜*•. ˜”*°•.˜”*°• Helloooooo! •°*”˜.•°*”˜ .•*˜ ㋡
[13:30] Qwark Allen: Hey! misty
[13:30] Sybyle Perdide: hello Misty
[13:30] Jaelle Faerye: hiya Misty
[13:30] Mistyowl Warrhol: Hugss everyone
[13:30] herman Bergson: Hello Misty ㋡
[13:30] druth Vlodovic: pretty :-)
[13:31] herman Bergson: fascinating picture isnt it Druth?
[13:31] :: Beertje :: (beertje.beaumont): 13:39] herman Bergson: but I prefer to drop the word mind completely...
13:43] :: Beertje :: (beertje.beaumont): how can i keep are always on my mind??...if i haven't one?
[13:31] herman Bergson: Yes Beertje....
[13:31] herman Bergson: as I said....
[13:31] Clerisse Beeswing: hmm good point beertje
[13:32] herman Bergson: I want to drop the WORD mind....not the phenomenon which we call mind or consciousness ㋡
[13:32] :: Beertje :: (beertje.beaumont): confusing...
[13:32] Clerisse Beeswing: like braintease
[13:32] druth Vlodovic: "for everything there is a season, and a purpose under heaven" :-)
[13:32] herman Bergson: yes...I understand
[13:33] herman Bergson: just to prevent confusion I prefer to use the word consciousness above mind
[13:33] Claudei: Hello
[13:33] Jaelle Faerye: hi Claudei
[13:33] herman Bergson: Hello Claudia
[13:33] Sybyle Perdide: hello Claudei
[13:34] Lizzy Pleides: hi Claudei
[13:34] Clerisse Beeswing: Hello clauden
[13:34] herman Bergson: So our point today is that we can have objective knowlege of subjective experiences...
[13:35] Sybyle Perdide: but there are strict limits I suppose
[13:35] herman Bergson: In fact is that what all neuroscientists do every day when studying the brain/consciousness
[13:36] herman Bergson: Any questions?
[13:36] Sybyle Perdide: it sounds for me as if we would describe consciousness with its borders without knowing the inner area
[13:37] herman Bergson: we dont know much about consciousness Sybyle....
[13:37] Sybyle Perdide: thats what I got, Herman :))
[13:37] herman Bergson: What we know is that it is generated by the brain....
[13:37] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): its kinda hard to concentrate :)
[13:37] Sybyle Perdide: so far I can follow
[13:38] herman Bergson: we know about a correlation between subjective experiences and objective fMRI scannner results...
[13:38] herman Bergson: the picture behind me is an interesting example of it
[13:38] herman Bergson: but what we absolutely don't know is how the material brain can generate that what we experience as consciousness
[13:39] herman Bergson: but philosophically ...
[13:39] herman Bergson: the quintessential question is....
[13:39] herman Bergson: what we call what sense does it exist?
[13:39] herman Bergson: what IS it....
[13:40] Penelope Apparatchik (penelope.grau): physically, no?
[13:40] Sybyle Perdide: good question..sighs
[13:40] Mick Nerido: and why should it exist?
[13:40] Penelope Apparatchik (penelope.grau): a function of brain activity
[13:40] herman Bergson: Yes a material sense
[13:40] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): Its a mysterious thing
[13:40] Penelope Apparatchik (penelope.grau): what other sense is there?
[13:40] Mistyowl Warrhol: and does it exist in other places in the universe or just on planet earth?
[13:40] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): What about plants
[13:41] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): Is that a stupid question?
[13:41] herman Bergson: Francis Crick , I think it was, suggested that it was the 40Hz eleoctroning vibration or something like that in the brain...
[13:41] herman Bergson: No Merlin that is not a stupid question...
[13:41] Penelope Apparatchik (penelope.grau): but if fMRI shows it as physical activity, what's the issue?
[13:41] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): aaah ty.
[13:41] :: Beertje :: (beertje.beaumont): there are no stupid questions at all
[13:42] herman Bergson: The issue is, Penelope, that the fMRI scan shows only part of consciousness
[13:42] herman Bergson: For example....
[13:42] Mistyowl Warrhol: Some plants do sense there could be a form of plant conscious.
[13:42] Penelope Apparatchik (penelope.grau): so ok, in ten years, they'll make a better MRI :)
[13:42] herman Bergson: there never has shown up an "I", a "Self" on an fMRI scan
[13:42] Sybyle Perdide: it sounds a bit like chaos theory
[13:43] druth Vlodovic: the issue is that people think they are their consciousness and want to know themselves as something other than the effect of physical processes
[13:43] herman Bergson: Yes Druth ..and reality is that they aren't
[13:43] herman Bergson: We are the result of physical processes
[13:43] Penelope Apparatchik (penelope.grau): agreed :)
[13:44] herman Bergson: But indeed many people have great difficulty with that....
[13:44] Lizzy Pleides: it is like the question: where ends the universe and what is on the other side
[13:44] herman Bergson: due to religious ideas
[13:44] herman Bergson: nice question Lizzy....yes!
[13:44] Mick Nerido: The physical world behaves very strange at the micro and macro levels
[13:45] herman Bergson: what do you mean with strange Mick
[13:45] Mistyowl Warrhol: So is consciousness something the evolve as a protection process?
[13:45] Mick Nerido: Quantum physics for example
[13:45] herman Bergson: You only can qualify something as strange when you have a standard for normal
[13:45] herman Bergson: Ahh..yes
[13:46] herman Bergson: There seems to be something with matter that confuses us...
[13:46] Penelope Apparatchik (penelope.grau): ooh mysty, YES
[13:46] Penelope Apparatchik (penelope.grau): yes yes!
[13:46] Penelope Apparatchik (penelope.grau): smart!
[13:46] herman Bergson: Laws of nature enable us to predict every outcome of every physical process...
[13:47] herman Bergson: however ...Quantum Physics seems to show us that we cant predict everythinng of every physical process...
[13:47] herman Bergson: that there is a basic randomness
[13:47] Mick Nerido: The material world is filled with mystery, Black holes, consciousness etc...
[13:47] Sybyle Perdide: hihi
[13:48] Mistyowl Warrhol: My consciousness is a black hole right now and a mystery I am still awake :-)
[13:48] herman Bergson: yes Mick....
[13:48] herman Bergson: Just realize that what we call science these days is hardly 300 years old
[13:48] Mick Nerido: Misty I like that!
[13:49] herman Bergson: that compared with a history of million years of the homo sapiens in evolution
[13:49] Claudei: homo sapiens is not a million years old
[13:49] :: Beertje :: (beertje.beaumont): did they never think about this matter in earlier years?
[13:49] Sybyle Perdide: but his evolution
[13:49] Sybyle Perdide: or her evolution
[13:49] Mistyowl Warrhol: and so much that we have learned of humans has only really been in the last 100 years or less.
[13:50] Claudei: how far into species evolution are you going
[13:50] Lizzy Pleides: in other cultures they didn't have science?
[13:50] herman Bergson: the first toolmakers existed 2.4 million years ago
[13:50] herman Bergson: Use of fire 1 million years ago
[13:50] Penelope Apparatchik (penelope.grau): hey that's a good question Lizzy asked
[13:50] Claudei: he wasn't homo sapiens
[13:50] Qwark Allen: how you know that?
[13:51] herman Bergson: That is a good question indeed Lizzy...
[13:51] herman Bergson: To give you an example....
[13:51] Mick Nerido: i think he means our direct ancestors
[13:51] herman Bergson: till 1100 A.D the Arab culture was far more developed in science than the european...
[13:51] herman Bergson: they had great mathematicians....
[13:51] Qwark Allen: there was homo sapiens half million years ago
[13:52] herman Bergson: Then is vanished...
[13:52] herman Bergson: and the knowledge was through Spain exported to Europe
[13:52] Lizzy Pleides: even the egytians had, think of the pyramides
[13:52] Mick Nerido: all our tool have extended our senses and expanded or conciousness
[13:52] herman Bergson: The Chinese had great science...
[13:52] Qwark Allen: and much before that
[13:52] herman Bergson: yes....
[13:52] :: Beertje :: (beertje.beaumont): but had they great philosophers too?
[13:53] Qwark Allen: just their knowledge didn`t got to our days
[13:53] herman Bergson: But the europeans had some aggressive exploring drive...
[13:53] Qwark Allen: just in time rodney
[13:53] Mistyowl Warrhol: So the fact that some animals also use tools.. does that give credit that they might also have consciousness?
[13:53] Sybyle Perdide: hi Rodney
[13:53] herman Bergson: yes some extend certainly
[13:53] Rodney Handrick: Hi Sybyle
[13:54] herman Bergson: There are even animals that have self awareness....recognize themselves in a mirror
[13:54] Lizzy Pleides: Rod :)
[13:54] Rodney Handrick: Hi Lizzy
[13:55] herman Bergson: Welcome Rodney..:)
[13:55] Mistyowl Warrhol: Or duck and run when they have been caught doing something bad!!! Bad conscious... Sorry, couldnt resist.
[13:55] Rodney Handrick: Hi Herman
[13:55] :: Beertje :: (beertje.beaumont): hello Rodney
[13:55] Sybyle Perdide: but animals that aren't able to recognize themselves have individual beheviours
[13:55] druth Vlodovic: it'll be another blow to our ego to have to share consciouness with animals, then bugs :)
[13:55] Rodney Handrick: Hi Beertie
[13:55] herman Bergson: I was just ready to end the discussion... ㋡
[13:55] Qwark Allen: AAHH!!!
[13:56] Mick Nerido: Great class thanks Herman
[13:56] Rodney Handrick: Hi Qwark
[13:56] Qwark Allen: ¸¸.☆´ ¯¨☆.¸¸`☆** -O- **☆´ ¸¸.☆¨¯`☆ H E R MA N ☆´ ¯¨☆.¸¸`☆** -O- **☆´ ¸¸.☆¨¯`
[13:56] Qwark Allen: was very good
[13:56] :: Beertje :: (beertje.beaumont): why is it a blow to our ego ?
[13:56] Jaelle Faerye: thanks Herman
[13:56] herman Bergson: Well Druth ...we have a high esteem of ourselves indeed due to our consciousness
[13:56] :: Beertje :: (beertje.beaumont): we are animals too
[13:56] Qwark Allen: see what i mean, by just in time rodney
[13:56] Qwark Allen: °͜° l ☺ ☻ ☺ l °͜°
[13:56] Qwark Allen: lol
[13:56] Clerisse Beeswing: great class herman
[13:56] Rodney Handrick: lol
[13:56] herman Bergson: Indeed Beertje....don't underestimate the chimpansees ^_^
[13:57] herman Bergson: So...
[13:57] druth Vlodovic: well, I suspect low esteem, otherwise it wouldn't bother us so much
[13:57] Mistyowl Warrhol: Lots to think about and I only got part of the class.
[13:57] Sybyle Perdide: thanks Herman.. much to think about :)
[13:57] Qwark Allen: we just share 99.5% of our genes with them
[[13:57] Clerisse Beeswing: thank you professor
[13:57] :: Beertje :: (beertje.beaumont): thank you Herman
[13:57] Lizzy Pleides: Thanks to YOU Herman!
[13:57] herman Bergson: Yes Qwark..and we behave like them too :-)
[13:58] Qwark Allen: eehehhe indeed
[13:58] herman Bergson: Class dismissed.....
[13:58] Qwark Allen: thank you
[13:58] Sybyle Perdide: great
[13:58] Rodney Handrick: soon
[13:58] Qwark Allen: see you next tuesday
[13:58] herman Bergson: Next Tuesday it is!
[13:59] Lizzy Pleides: I am in hurry, .. good night everybody!
[13:59] :: Beertje :: (beertje.beaumont): have a goodnight every one
[13:59] Jaelle Faerye: night Lizzy
[13:59] Sybyle Perdide: bye Beertje
[13:59] Lizzy Pleides: waves*
[13:59] Mistyowl Warrhol: Bye Lizzy and Beertje..TC
[13:59] Jaelle Faerye: Night Beertje :)
[13:59] :: Beertje :: (beertje.beaumont): waves:)))
[13:59] Mistyowl Warrhol: and anyone else :-)
[13:59] herman Bergson: Bye Beertje
[14:00] Mistyowl Warrhol: Anyone have notes on the first part?
[14:00] Jaelle Faerye: it will be on the blog, Misty
[14:00] herman Bergson: I have a blog Misty
[14:00] Mistyowl Warrhol: Ah ok. ty. Sorry for being late, but had appt with oral surg and just got home and straight to computer.
[14:00] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): I have the notes from 1 week ago
[14:01] herman Bergson: url is in my profile
[14:01] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): I dont know if that that was the first one
[14:01] Mistyowl Warrhol: Ok, knew about the blog, just dense today LOL
[14:01] Mistyowl Warrhol: I can go back and read up on old lectures :-)
[14:01] Mistyowl Warrhol: TY Merline :-)
[14:02] Mistyowl Warrhol: humm, Merlin ! Sorry for mistype.
[14:03] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): :)
[14:04] Mistyowl Warrhol: TC all. til we meet again.. hugs :-)
[14:04] Sybyle Perdide: bye Misty
[14:04] Sybyle Perdide: you too
[14:04] Sybyle Perdide: :)
[14:04] druth Vlodovic: have fun guys
[14:04] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): Yes, I must go too. Bye all.
[14:04] Mistyowl Warrhol: Ty Sybyle and I will start readin today lol
[14:04] Sybyle Perdide: bye Merlin
[14:05] Sybyle Perdide: bye Druth
[14:05] Jaelle Faerye: Bye Merlin and Druth
[14:05] herman Bergson: Bye Druth]
[14:05] Jaelle Faerye: bye Herman
[14:05] Sybyle Perdide: I am curious how it will continue, Herman
[14:05] Jaelle Faerye: thanks again
[14:06] Sybyle Perdide: see you next week :)
[14:06] Sybyle Perdide: good bye :)

Enhanced by Zemanta

No comments:

Post a Comment