Consciousness is not a product of the brain - the evidence.

Ontos

Active member
It is not, but there is no reason it should be possible, with better technology and understanding.
Ok good.

So if observing an electro-chemical reaction is not equal to observing the conscious awareness of a pink elephant, then what would be equal...

Is it not as I said earlier - observing "the formal thing you're actually conscious of"?

What else could be equal?
 

The Pixie

Well-known member
Ok good.

So if observing an electro-chemical reaction is not equal to observing the conscious awareness of a pink elephant, then what would be equal...

Is it not as I said earlier - observing "the formal thing you're actually conscious of"?

What else could be equal?
I am not sure I get what you are saying. We can detect the electro-chemical reaction, which indicates thought is happening. What cannot - as yet - say what is being thought about, but I see no reason to suppose that would not be possible.

We could set up a machine that could detect the flow of electrons through the CPU in your computer, but it would be quite a bit more difficult to determine that that flow was showing someone this web page on their monitor. We can look at the grooves on an old record and see there is data there, but establishing that is is Beethoven's fifth sympathy would be considerable more difficult to do (without the dedicated device). I see no reason to suppose thoughts are any different. We can already observe that they are happening, and there is no reason to suppose it will not be possible to determine what they are one day.
 

Ontos

Active member
I am not sure I get what you are saying. We can detect the electro-chemical reaction, which indicates thought is happening. What cannot - as yet - say what is being thought about, but I see no reason to suppose that would not be possible.
Sure, it may indicate a thought but it's not equal to observing a thought. And sure, I too see no reason to suppose it's not possible either.

But those are secondary to what I'm getting at.

If consciousness and the object of consciousness are material, and if the object of consciousness is say a pink elephant, then doesn't it follow that a pink elephant is formally materialized in the brain?

In other words, this is in your brain somewhere:

298px-PinkElephant.jpg

(Hopefully the picture shows)
 

The Pixie

Well-known member
Sure, it may indicate a thought but it's not equal to observing a thought. And sure, I too see no reason to suppose it's not possible either.

But those are secondary to what I'm getting at.

If consciousness and the object of consciousness are material, and if the object of consciousness is say a pink elephant, then doesn't it follow that a pink elephant is formally materialized in the brain?
If you mean the image of a pink elephant is in your brain, then yes. If you mean an actual pink elephant then no. Just like the image is in your computer, which is clearly physical, but there is no real pink elephant in there.

I am not sure what you are getting at beyond that.
 

Electric Skeptic

Well-known member
My OP wasn't about an explanation for different personality features, but about the origin of consciousness itself. Those are two different questions.

I would maintain the following with respect to both questions:

1. The mind exists independently of the brain.
2. The brain is the "receiver" that takes input from the mind and converts it into a language that the human body responds to.
3. The brain is a natural attenuator; that is to say its very design weakens signals from the mind. Thus, when a person dies and their brain ceases functioning, the mind feels more alive than ever but the dead body cannot respond to signals from the mind any longer.
4. If the brain is damaged, the signals from the mind get distorted or blocked, and the body can only partially function.
5. One of the functions of the brain is to block out signals from other minds that are disembodied and not native to the body. For example, what religious people call a disembodied spirit is the mind of someone who died that is trying to direct a living person's brain. If the brain functions like it should, that person will not even hear those other voices.
6. Mental illnesses that include hearing voices, such as schizophrenia, are a consequence of brain malfunction. The voices are real, not imagined; the victim cannot prevent hearing the voices since the brain has stopped filtering out the signals.
7. This would also explain the vocal and motor tics experienced by those with Tourette's syndrome. In their case, the brain is under the influence of multiple minds which have different areas of control over the same body.
8. It may be that a person with brain damage who demonstrates a change in personality as a result does not actually have a change in their own personality (i.e. the personality of their own mind), but is exhibiting another mind that has a different personality than their own. Their brain has lost some ability to screen out other minds.
I think your numbered points above form a coherent picture and don't contradict anything that we know. However, as always, I have to ask - where is the evidence that it is correct? A far simpler notion, for which have a lot of evidence, is that the mind is a product of the brain and has no independent existence. Your solution above is certainly feasible and, as far as I can tell, possible...but Occam's razor rules it out.
 

Ontos

Active member
If you mean the image of a pink elephant is in your brain, then yes.
Right, so if you're consciously aware of a pink elephant; then an image of a pink elephant should literally be in your brain. And, being an image - being material it is visible and measurable (regardless of our ability to do so).

Now to take this a bit further - if you were consciously aware of a pink elephant and there's a literal pink elephant image in your brain - what would it mean to be consciously aware of a pink elephant that weighs 10,000lbs? Or, what would it mean to be consciously aware of a pink elephant that is 10ft tall? What could physically be in your brain with respect to 10,000lbs or 10ft tall? Obviously the weight and height can't literally be in there, so what are we left with - another image?

Would an image of "10,000lbs" be in your brain?
Would an image of "10ft tall" be in your brain?
Or what else?

Heck, what could physically be in your brain with respect to "understanding" this whole proposition?

Not sure how this would work as a purely material construct...
 

The Pixie

Well-known member
Right, so if you're consciously aware of a pink elephant; then an image of a pink elephant should literally be in your brain. And, being an image - being material it is visible and measurable (regardless of our ability to do so).

Now to take this a bit further - if you were consciously aware of a pink elephant and there's a literal pink elephant image in your brain - what would it mean to be consciously aware of a pink elephant that weighs 10,000lbs? Or, what would it mean to be consciously aware of a pink elephant that is 10ft tall? What could physically be in your brain with respect to 10,000lbs or 10ft tall? Obviously the weight and height can't literally be in there, so what are we left with - another image?
You had an image of an elephant in an earlier post. Let us say the image is of a 5 tonne elephant. Are you saying the image must therefore weigh 5 tonnes? Of course not! So why suppose the image of an elephant in your brain will weight 5 tonnes?

Would an image of "10,000lbs" be in your brain?
Would an image of "10ft tall" be in your brain?
Or what else?

Heck, what could physically be in your brain with respect to "understanding" this whole proposition?

Not sure how this would work as a purely material construct...
Do you understand how data can exist in a computer? You are discussing "10,000lbs" in our post, and yet I am sure your post does not weigh 10,000lbs! I am pretty sure you do not think it does either. So why suppose that it has to weigh that much if it is in your brain rather than your computer?
 

Ontos

Active member
You had an image of an elephant in an earlier post. Let us say the image is of a 5 tonne elephant. Are you saying the image must therefore weigh 5 tonnes? Of course not! So why suppose the image of an elephant in your brain will weight 5 tonnes?

Me: Obviously the weight and height can't literally be in there...

Do you understand how data can exist in a computer? You are discussing "10,000lbs" in our post, and yet I am sure your post does not weigh 10,000lbs! I am pretty sure you do not think it does either. So why suppose that it has to weigh that much if it is in your brain rather than your computer?

Me: Obviously the weight and height can't literally be in there...
 

SteveB

Well-known member
Let me begin by quoting an illustration that I found on the internet while researching this theory. I found this on a blog arguing against the theory I am advocating here, and it is apparently taken from a book by David Eagleman called "Incognito."

As an example, I’ll mention what I’ll call the “radio theory” of brains. Imagine that you are a Kalahari Bushman and that you stumble upon a transistor radio in the sand. You might pick it up, twiddle the knobs, and suddenly, to your surprise, hear voices streaming out of this strange little box. If you’re curious and scientifically minded, you might try to understand what is going on. You might pry off the back cover to discover a little nest of wires. Now let’s say you begin a careful, scientific study of what causes the voices. You notice that each time you pull out the green wire, the voices stop. When you put the wire back on its contact, the voices begin again. The same goes for the red wire. Yanking out the black wire causes the voices to get garbled, and removing the yellow wire reduces the volume to a whisper. You step carefully through all the combinations, and you come to a clear conclusion: the voices depend entirely on the integrity of the circuitry. Change the circuitry and you damage the voices.

The point that the writer is making is that our minds and brains are separate in the same way that the radio broadcaster is separate from the radio itself. By tampering with the circuitry of the radio, one could silence, garble, or clarify the broadcaster's voice; but it would be wrong to conclude that the man speaking through the radio is himself merely a product of the radio. We know (unlike this hypothetical bushman) that the man speaking through the radio is a real man who exists in another place, and via electromagnetic waves can be heard speaking through this device. The bushman doesn't have the knowledge to even conceptualize such a thing, and would be more likely to assume that the voice is a product of the radio, rather than something that exists independently of the radio.

The "radio receiver" theory of the brain is one that is put forth by Dr. Bruce Greyson in his new book "After", about the phenomenon of near death experiences. I've been reading it this week on my Kindle. He argues that the phenomenon of near death experiences provides evidence that the mind exists independently of the brain, and provides case after case in which his patients reported seeing and hearing things after they were observed to be in cardiac arrest with no brain function, and yet before they were resuscitated.

One example that features prominently in his book is of a young woman early in his career who ended up in the ER after trying to commit suicide. She was in a comatose state in the ER, and Dr. Greyson went into an adjacent room to speak with her roommate who had called the ambulance. The next day, he visited the young woman who was now awake and began asking her questions. One thing she said which jarred him was that she saw him talking to her roommate the day before. This wouldn't have been possible, but he didn't challenge her about it. Instead he tried to ask clarifying questions to determine what she meant to say, and she insisted that she did see him in the other room talking to her roommate, and in fact he had a red stain on his tie. The doctor had in fact been eating spaghetti in the cafeteria when his pager went off alerting him to the new patient in the ER, and had accidently spilled sauce on his tie; in his hurried state he had buttoned up his jacket so as not to expose the stain when he went to the ER. At no point was his tie exposed to the comatose woman in the ER. Her roommate immediately went back to her dorm after talking with the psychiatrist without speaking to her roommate first (who was comatose anyway), and hadn't been back to visit her since she had come out of her coma.

Dr. Greyson's research on this began with that incident in the ER back in the 1970s, since he couldn't figure out how it would have been possible with his then materialist understanding of the mind. Since then he has compiled (with the help of his fellow researchers at the Univ. of Virginia) thousands of cases of reported near death experiences and has formed his theory of the mind and brain in view of this phenomena. For the skeptics, he addresses other theories about why people report having out-of-body experiences (such as drugs or oxygen deprivation), and gives documented cases that show why such theories don't fit the available data.
Well..... it's not like there's not a lot of research on it.


I do however think, like Ockham said---- the simplest is often the best explanation....


Genesis 1:26 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 27 So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. 28 Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth



I.e., God said it, he did it, and then he told them to have lots and lots of sex, so they could have lots and lots of babies, and populate the earth.
 

The Pixie

Well-known member
...
I do however think, like Ockham said---- the simplest is often the best explanation....
...
According to Occam's razor we should take the most parsimonious answer - though tentatively of course. That would be consciousness as an emergent property, as it requires nothing beyond what we know is there, i.e., the brain. Your hypothesis requires the additional existence of a creator-god.

I only looked quickly, but as far as I could see none of the papers on the Google Scholar page you linked to mention God at all. On the other habnd I do see "The remembered present: a biological theory of consciousness" and "Towards a neurobiological theory of consciousness".
 

Whateverman

Well-known member
@Ontos - have you ever heard of the Homunculus Theory of Embryology? It was popular several centuries ago, when it was thought that the embryo in a woman was a fully-formed human being which would eventually grow into a baby and be born.

I've been trying to follow this thread, and it seems to me that you've been arguing for something similar WRT thoughts. To wit: a small representation of the thing being thought of exists in the mind thinking about it (edit: IF thoughts are material things).

Honestly, it's been a little difficult following the line of argumentation here, as at different times you've seemed to argue for and against it. All I will add to the conversation is this: records (re. 33 LP) have been mentioned here, and if music can exist in physical form that looks nothing like musical instruments or the people playing them, then why should material thoughts necessarily exist as replicas of their "real" selves? If John Bonham's Moby Dick can spring from my speakers without there being a tiny Bonzo pounding away at a tiny kit, why must there by tiny pink elephants in the minds of those who imagine them?
 

Ontos

Active member
@Whateverman
Never heard of the theory, and I've only ever have been arguing for the materiality of consciousness/object of consciousness and it's consequences, as a way to play devils advocate to the thread topic. I however dont affirm the materiality of consciousness/object of consciousness.

Whats on the record is not "music", but bumps and grooves - you are abstracting the concept of music.

Now, if the brain/consciousness/object of consciousness are material, then so is the process of abstracting and so is the concept of music itself. So then what would be the material construct in your brain of the "concept of music"?

Likewise, to be consciously aware of a pink elephant - what would be the material construct in your brain of a pink elephant - other than a literal image of a pink elephant?
 

Whateverman

Well-known member
@Whateverman
Never heard of the theory, and I've only ever have been arguing for the materiality of consciousness/object of consciousness and it's consequences, as a way to play devils advocate to the thread topic. I however dont affirm the materiality of consciousness/object of consciousness.

Whats on the record is not "music", but bumps and grooves - you are abstracting the concept of music.
To be fair, no, I'm not abstracting anything. Instead, I'm showing (and you appear already to have agreed to this elsewhere in the thread) that information can be translated from one format to another. Bumps and grooves in a record can be translated into sound, just as sensory information can be translated into electrical impulses in the brain which correspond to flavors in ice cream (et al).

Now, if the brain/consciousness/object of consciousness are material, then so is the process of abstracting and so is the concept of music itself. So then what would be the material construct in your brain of the "concept of music"?
Electrochemical / neural impulses in the brain.

Likewise, to be consciously aware of a pink elephant - what would be the material construct in your brain of a pink elephant - other than a literal image of a pink elephant?

Same answer. Of course, I'm being glib, and need to confess that I'm not a neuro-scientist; I could be omitting vast seas of information about how a pink elephant in the room gets translated into the image in my mind of a pink elephant. Still, the mechanisms we're aware of are all physical / material. We're not aware of anything supernatural / immaterial occurring when we remember things, or when we link perception to memories of past perceptions, etc.

It might be interesting to point out that when I close my eyes and think of a pink elephant, I don't actually have a visual image of it. Instead, I have memories of past images, and also the conceptual application of the color "pink" to the memory of what an "elephant" looks like. There's no slideshow of pink elephant images in my head when I do this. Granted, some people may remember/conceptualize things differently from the way I do, so this is nothing more than an anecdote (albeit a relevant one).
 

SteveB

Well-known member
According to Occam's razor we should take the most parsimonious answer - though tentatively of course.
Ironically, I'm not talking Occam's razor.

I'm talking about Sir William of Ockham's hypothesis on simplicity.
Occam was not a real person, so their razor does not exist.


That would be consciousness as an emergent property, as it requires nothing beyond what we know is there, i.e., the brain. Your hypothesis requires the additional existence of a creator-god.
I'd say it's saying that consciousness is a created property. One that is born in the being of the human body, Not through some magical element, but by the mind/heart of God himself.



I only looked quickly, but as far as I could see none of the papers on the Google Scholar page you linked to mention God at all. On the other habnd I do see "The remembered present: a biological theory of consciousness" and "Towards a neurobiological theory of consciousness".
I never said they did mention God.
I simply pointed out that there are lots and lots of papers on the topic, and in looking through the list, I see most of them are older papers. Only a handful have been published in the past decade.
 

Ontos

Active member
To be fair, no, I'm not abstracting anything. Instead, I'm showing (and you appear already to have agreed to this elsewhere in the thread) that information can be translated from one format to another. Bumps and grooves in a record can be translated into sound, just as sensory information can be translated into electrical impulses in the brain which correspond to flavors in ice cream (et al).

Bumps and grooves on a record can indeed be translated into sound, but what's physically on a record is not the concept we call "music", but bumps and grooves. You're applying a concept separately ontop of what is actually physically there - you are abstracting.


Electrochemical / neural impulses in the brain.

Right, so then as I questioned another; observing electro-chemical reactions = observing whatever your consciously aware of, like a pink elephant?

It might be interesting to point out that when I close my eyes and think of a pink elephant, I don't actually have a visual image of it. Instead, I have memories of past images..

Even still, having a memory of an image just is to have some sort of picture or slide literally in your brain. And, being material it should be observable and measurable to a 3rd party.
 

Electric Skeptic

Well-known member
Ironically, I'm not talking Occam's razor.

I'm talking about Sir William of Ockham's hypothesis on simplicity.
Occam was not a real person, so their razor does not exist.
So you are talking Occam's razor, since that is a common name for it. Are you trying to prove that you are clever or something?
 

The Pixie

Well-known member
Ironically, I'm not talking Occam's razor.

I'm talking about Sir William of Ockham's hypothesis on simplicity.
Occam was not a real person, so their razor does not exist.
To the rest of us Ockham and Occam are the same guy.

I'd say it's saying that consciousness is a created property. One that is born in the being of the human body, Not through some magical element, but by the mind/heart of God himself.
I am perfectly aware of your opinion. Despite the claims of the OP it is not supported by the evidence.

I never said they did mention God.
I simply pointed out that there are lots and lots of papers on the topic, and in looking through the list, I see most of them are older papers. Only a handful have been published in the past decade.
And of those that have, they all seem to side with me that consciousness is based in the material world, not the divine. Does that not make you think? I guess not.
 
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