Friday, 30 November 2007

Consciousness a physical quantity that can be measured?

The thought crossed my mind to think consciousness as a variant physical quantity in a similar manner as any other physical quantity. And as such introduce concepts as size, range, sensitivity of consciousness, as attributes that can be measured. Consciousness attribute values are defined by variables connected with the stimulus that raises a certain amount of consciousness. Depending on the kind of stimulus these variables can be light, sound, heat, pressure. As most such variables are forms of energy they can be referred to in respect with their energy content. Other variables which should be considered are the attributes involved with the processing of the signal once in the brain.

Wednesday, 28 November 2007

Moving the consciousness subject too far ...

The threads responsible for these thoughts
Chaos in my mind. Channels tapped
Raw ideas, grab them as they come

The thoughts that entered my mind are going too far, even for my own consciousness to abide to. It all started, by thinking about concepts and what makes them be what they are. Researchers, in all advanced disciplines, talk in a language of their own, that (the thought passed my mind) even between them they would have difficulty communicating. Their papers are so detailed, so subtle the meanings trying to pass to each other that are bound to create situations where these meanings are not passed along to their fellow researchers as they meant to be. Why do I go too far with this? An urgency.

I had in mind what I read about meaning lies in people and not in the words we use to communicate. I was querying in my mind a comment I read in a website about the difference between unconscious and subconscious and the evolution of its meaning to our present day. I was thinking that it did not matter after all. What it matters is how each individual constructs the meaning in his mind.

That led to concepts and their significance and whether all concepts are as significant as any other and what about the concepts that are continuously invented as researchers continue to probe reality deeper. The thought occurred to me that the concepts researchers develop are in remote branches of some fundamental concepts and their significance lies in how much they elucidate further the fundamental concepts, as such. As deep down the significance of their work lies in the usefulness they confer in the understanding, not only for them or their fellow researchers, but in the general public at large.

And there a unified, global approach that puts the efforts of scientists in all disciplines all over the world in its right perspective. But it did not stop there. My thoughts about a mathematical substrate that our consciousness lies had a momentum by themselves and carried me through in the next stage. Grab them as they come. The thoughts I mean.

A whole that is made out of concepts and the mathematical substrate, mathematical processes, or simply processes that take place within reality and the processes in our minds, go along hand-in-hand there is no distinction, no separation between them. Process space reality of its own, a phase space I would say, like the phase space in chaotic developments. There is no room for material world. The material world is the manifestation of the processes themselves. A result of specific processes. Processes are not underlying the reality we witness with our senses. It is the reality itself. Our brain the conduit that connects our minds with that process space that engulfs us, gets in tune with the processes around us, and opens up a stream for our consciousness to pass. It is what makes me write now and the words come unbiased. I record them as they come.

Many individuals have managed to tune the processes in their minds with the processes in reality in such a way that their feats astonishes us. I consider them as examples of the possibilities open in front of us, once is realised how reality organise its fabric. When I saw the dutch fakir balancing mid-air on its slender cane to his side, it struck me then and I see it now, as a manifestation of perfect tuning of mind and reality processes. The google search triggered by this spectacle led me to a website that added on in my amazement as its subject is about human levitation. Defying the laws of physics? Can that be possible? I see these feats as an expression of the approach of mind and reality processes in accord with each other. Can that lead to states which defy the physical laws?

Tuesday, 27 November 2007

Mathematical substrate, the bed consciousness lies upon and draws from

The deepest level experience is embedded on and from which consciousness and awareness originate. A substrate of processes that continuously unfold and built up reality and the human mind in a similar fashion emulating nature raises our consciousness and awareness.

Our sense organs gauges that monitor reality and pass this information to the brain and under the direction of our consciousness unfold our actions. Our eyes, ears and all other organs sensitively measure and calculate the values of constantly changing variables within their given range and feeds them to an enormous bed of mathematical functions for processing, filtered, and our consciousness the focus that interprets the result.

Mathematical functions that include triangulations, differentiations, integrals all that is included in a mathematician's inexhaustible arsenal to chaotic developments and quantum computations that enter, when necessity demands at appropriate levels emerging experience rise from.

Our body, a mass of chemical concentrations, equilibrium states and other parametres, with our brain and the emerged consciousness included, define our experience. Mathematical functions underlie almost everything we do, from the simple acts of walking, reaching out for objects, driving a car. And not only, they are directing our mental functions too, the formulation and development of thoughts, of imagination, the pleasure we take when we listen to music or watching a film. They constantly assessing, judging, estimating and direct the actions.

They are taking place in a level our consciousness can not detect. They are beyond the reach of consciousness. But consciousness can direct our mind to pay attention to, to subtly direct and guide their development towards a richer more fulfilling experience.

Monday, 26 November 2007

Beyond consciousness again.

.... the processes of the mind ... processes of the world .... both have the same fundamental beginnings ... in analogy with the machine language all computers and sophisticated software programs are based upon, understand and communicate by ...

Does experience materialise in the same way? The processes in the mind, fit, melt with, fuse with the processes of the world? Brought forward by a quality other than consciousness, though consciousness is needed to propel it further ahead? Consciousness can lead awareness to new heights. Makes it possible for an individual to develop its mind processes to be in tune with the processes in the world.

The importance of the preparation stage in the height of experience, consciousness can lead to.

The materials in the preparation stage that consciousness takes care of, determine in what depth the functional stage will go to. The result of that stage depends on the quantity and quality of materials the conscious phase provides. Materials as these are concepts and ideas experience has produced. Concept acquisition varies between individuals and ranges from a superficial, epidermic, skin-deep to a deeper and more far-reaching content.

Concept acquisition is defined by the quantity, the sheer numbers of concepts embedded in a given reality that our consciousness has a record of and the quality of the recorded concepts as it is defined by the extent of properties and attributes, the extensions of each concept, are known to us. If there is a small quantity, it means that only this small quantity is going to be considered in the unconscious phase. If the quality of the associated attributes is dubious then the end result of a thought process will be dubious too.

As the functionality of the consciousness content is double, it does not only determine the mental structures embedded in our brain, it also determines, most crucially, what stimuli from a given reality will enter in the unconscious phase of the thinking process. Only the stimuli that are connected with the concepts we have acquired, will be considered in the unconscious phase, whereas stimuli that are not part of our acquired concepts will be ignored. They would not be considered at all, in the functional stage, despite being present.

What is disheartening is that the human individual suffers from a crucial ailment. What it does not know it does not exist. It provides the groundwork of truth. Truth that is known only to an individual but seldom shared by others. There is a sensation that is brought about from consciousness that lulls the individual in a false sense of fulfillment something that is more evident in kids, a solipsism that makes them believe they know everything, a sort of omniscience which characterises adults too. A feature that plays a big part in the development of our personality, which hinders our need to continuously aim for a deeper and wider concept acquisition.

The conscious effort of accumulating ever more concepts and concept attributes makes experience richer and more fulfilling than ever as more and more stimuli from reality would be allowed to enter let in the unconscious phase. The way our unconsciouses phase will make use of them, it can not be determined, it is chaotic, unpredictable, and therefore exciting and is bound to lead the individual in exhilarating heights.

People whose conceptual arsenal are more far reaching than others, will be able to include a larger amount of stimuli, they will attribute other persons as dim-witted and stupid as not being able to see what for them is so obvious as the depth of their concepts provide a richer bed of materials than others.

Thinking's alternate phases

"There was no conscious content for the actual judgment itself, although such a judgment was embedded in the consciousness of the problem, its materials, and technique."

The conclusion Julian Jaynes arrived, to explain the result of Karl Marbe's experiment in 1901, where he asked his professors to make a simple judgment between two identical looking weights as to which was the heavier, hints towards an alternating thinking process. A part where consciousness sorts out the materials, and takes care of them and these are the concepts and ideas, all the data held in the mind, at that particular moment, full with their properties and extensions as well as information about how these can be processed, the technique, but that is as far as it could go.

The actual processing escapes consciousness. It is done in the absence of consciousness. A stage where all the calculations, functions, variables is so intensive that consciousness is to slow to follow? It is so chaotic that consciousness will slow it down? Maybe it could go even deeper, in quantum computations, consciousness is unable to record?

Thinking accomplished in alternate phases? A preparation stage where everything needed is taken care of, a conscious phase. And a functional stage, where the actual process of thinking takes place, which is so complicated that is beyond consciousness's detection machinery, consciousness is unable to follow. An unconscious phase? A chaotic phase driven by quantum computations?

Consciousness is reduced to the level of the spectator and

"at the point of success , your consciousness is somewhat surprised and even proud of you .."

and fills you with praise.

Sunday, 25 November 2007

Beyond consciousness? Is there?

The quote from Julian Jaynes lecture mentioned in "Is thinking an automatic process?" raises questions that go beyond the process of thinking. Mankind has looked upon the concept of consciousness to explain its prowess to probe and understand reality. As Julian Jaynes, in his theory of the bicameral mind attempts to put things straight and define consciousness as it really is, dis-associates thought from consciousness. If thinking is not conscious and the way we give answers to questions is dictated by apparently non-specific neural mechanisms, such a process demotes the significance of consciousness and raises the question of another level of organisation, to which consciousness is only a part of.

What is there beyond consciousness? Julian Jaynes in his controversial theory of the bicameral mind asserts that consciousness is a recent attribute of the human mind. That consciousness of a few centuries ago was just voices in the head. Visions. But if consciousness is not the ultimate gift of the human mind, and evolves in the same way as everything else, under the same rules of evolution, then there must be something else that sustained humanity in its path of development, something more fundamental than consciousness.

Consciousness develop on the bed this fundamental level provides, and might be an offshoot of some primitive quality that has evolved into the consciousness we experience. What is the stuff of this fundamental level and how is it organised? Julian Jaynes referred to structions, as the mode of organisation of the nervous system which identify the materials used in thought and lead the thought to conclusion. Structions, like instructions or commands or routines. Or algorithms? The mathematical instructions? A realm driven by the mathematical laws? Mathematical processes the deepest level of existence and consciousness an offshoot of some obscure quality?

Thursday, 22 November 2007

Is thinking an automatic process?

Julian Jaynes in his lecture "Consciousness and the Voices of the Mind" mentions

"instructions given to the nervous system, that, when presented with the materials to work on, result in the answer automatically without any conscious thinking or reasoning."

Somehow this statement strikes a chord as I draw from my own experience while thinking. Even now when I try consciously to develop my thoughts about this statement I pause and the next words to come are bursting out, as if from nowhere. Often enough I caught myself thinking about a notion and wonder. What pushed me into formulated such an idea?. John H. Holland mentions about reverberating cell assemblies organised as 'exclusive-or' networks of neurons, the parts of the nervous system that once they are presented with the materials to work on, they will automatically give the answer. Consciousness is not engaged, neither reason. If I reason at all, I would have lost the essence of my inquiry.

Julian Jaynes continued further and stated that

"this process on a smaller scale is going on in me at present as I am speaking: my words are as if chosen for me by my nervous system after giving it the instruction of my indented meaning."

We should not therefore be talking about a stream of consciousness when we talk, since as an automatic process our neurons know better. Than us? Do we identify ourselves solely with our consciousness? Is it because by consciousness we give substance to our ego?

But looks as if the the unconscious knows better.

Sunday, 18 November 2007

Kinds of thinking

Julian Jaynes in an extract from a lecture given at a symposium on consciousness in 1985, titled "Consciousness and the Voices of the Mind" focused on the problem of consciousness and its origin in evolution.
He mentioned first that
"It is easy for the average layman to understand. But paradoxically, for philosophers, psychologists, and neurophysiologists, who have been so used to a different kind of thinking, it is a difficult thing."

What is that different kind of thinking and why it happens? Or, are there different kinds of thinking? and if so what makes them different? The average layman's kind of thinking and the expert's kind of thinking? What is the difference between these two kinds of thinking, if they are actually kinds of thinking. Both follow a trajectory that moves forward to whatever that leads to. As it moves forward it is thoroughly engaged and seldom, or never, looks back. A paradigm shift.

The layman's kind of thinking less specialized therefore broad whereas the expert's specialized and therefore narrow. The layman's kind of thinking quickly takes up the new proposal whereas the expert's kind of thinking has to accommodate the new proposal only after some drastic changes in the expert's underlying conceptual framework.

Kinds of thinking driven by the accumulated arsenal of concepts. Concepts building up in ever expanding tree structures probing deeper into reality driven by the concerted efforts of experts in a field.

Experts' kind of thinking is narrow but probes deeper into reality equipped by their advanced grasp of concepts but at the same time limits their exposure to new ideas as it is hard to abandon a somewhat cherished view of looking at things.

A layman's kind of thinking devoid of such qualms can easily accept any new ideas. A versatile mode of thinking that it is easier to adapt to the new ideas and advance them to whatever extent he chooses to.

Julian Jaynes' innovative approach to consciousness are easy for the average layman to understand and at the same time a difficult thing for the expert.

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

Η ξυραφενια κοψη της συνειδησης

... jumps out ... furtively engage our attention ... lingers on for an imperceptible moment and away ... streaming ... give focus to our awareness ... impulse drives and gestalt assists .... there are times the need arises to take pace and train it ... use the tools language provides to put it into context ... ruled by the premises declared by chaos ... as everything around us yearn our attention ... change the rules ... provide a different focus ... for your attention ... and let it enter ... the rule change will bring into focus and into your attention a whole new horde of stimuli ... standing unaware neglected ... but nevertheless in constant motion ... let them enter into your consciousness unbiased ... do not try to train them ... what drives their motion and define their trajectories is far more valuable than you would have ever imagined ... this is the beauty that lies within ... do not kill it by putting it into frames language provides ... let the words flow by themselves ... meaning comes from within ... it is not the time to reason ... leave the irrational beat the rational ... let the associations to materialise free ... let chaos rule ... create ...

The razor edge of consciousness

........ chaotic attractor?

Tuesday, 13 November 2007

Mind reading and self-awareness

"Research shown, the author continues, that chimpanzees and possibly humans have a module of mind reading, a set of neurons that fire when we detect signs specific to a variety of mental states in others. It has been suggested that individuals that suffer from autism lack the mind reading module and that they can not connect, be on-line projecting an emotional distance."

"To be self-aware means recognizing the limits of self-hood."

To recognize what? Where your own self-hood ends and the world begins? What separates your self-hood and the world around you? Or what you are capable of and what not? How being capable of distinguishing that the world as a self-hood perceives it, is distinct from the way other self-hoods perceive the world, make it possible to recognize their self-hood limits?
Certainly they realize that the information they have about the world is different from the information ....

That should be based on information you gather about your self-hood and the world. I think that should come when a self-hood realizes that is capable of thought in a world populated by other self-hoods, and by default as mirror images, all capable of thought. As a self-hood is capable of thought it gathers information about its self-hood and the world around. Being aware of your own thoughts, you recognize that a 'self' is capable of thought as your own self is.

You can't step back and reflect on your thoughts without recognizing that your thoughts are finite, and that other combinations of thoughts are possible. Without those limits, we would certainly be aware of the world in some basic sense - it's just that we wouldn't be aware of ourselves, because there would be nothing to compare ourselves to. The self and the world would be indistinguishable.

So the limits discussed are about our thoughts being finite. Finite as opposed to infinite. Our thoughts aren't infinite or omniscient as the three-year old.

Reflection on your thoughts is a conscious process and could not be performed by a four-year-old. Does that imply that a reflex action, hard-wired in the brain? Still a reflection process less plausible

Without recognition of other thoughts to measure our own thoughts against, our own mental state wouldn't even register as something to think about.

He knows that as he extrapolates his conclusion that the perception is aware of, would be owned by the other self-hoods, and his perspective allows him a unique view and other self-hoods that are alike him would see the world from their own perspective, their unique view. And the differences he perceives other self-hoods would experience is due to the realization of the uniqueness of perspectives of self-hood. I would dare say the theory of minds implied it does not come out of any reading of the mind of other individuals as mostly the result of the rudimentary concept of the expected contents of the box.

Self-aware and limits of self-hood. It gives a measure of what he can and he can not do, which by itself represent limits nevertheless but acts mostly as confirmation. The authors have messed it up by going further than what can be legitimately concluded from the findings. Their plea to indistinguishableness between self-hood and world can not be affirmed, it is not a logical conclusion. It muddles up, confuses and stirs away from a realistic conclusion.

Self-awareness ...

In the book extract the author states "to be self-aware means recognizing the limits of self-hood". What self-awareness actually is as all awareness developed belongs to the self. The carrier and the carriage. The carrier being the self and the carriage is awareness. Self-awareness, is therefore awareness, the carriage, about the carrier. And the limits are set as the self-hood, the material object, obeys the laws of nature.
Can self-awareness be awareness about our awareness? Awareness looking at itself and not the carrier. Self-aware, to be aware of being aware. But that requires mental thought and use of concepts, the realm of consciousness. Does self-awareness develop when consciousness kicks in?

Monday, 12 November 2007

What about the creative process ...

Creativity is described as a mental process involving the generation of new ideas or concepts, or new associations between existing ideas or concepts or simply the act of making something new. It is a complex phenomenon, a trait we are born with and since it involves the re-shuffling of concepts and ideas held by individuals or groups of individuals, we can be trained into using it. This is what we constantly do, otherwise we wouldn't have managed to develop as individuals or as groups of individuals. The degree to which creativity , as defined by its products, it becomes evident it is a totally different matter and it has nothing to do with the creative process as such. Usually the creative products are judged by criteria that are irrelevant to the process itself, therefore denying its presence. Someone must either be so damned modest or blind to deny creativity's very presence within himself.
In simple terms what is mentioned in the Wikipedia by George Kneller, (though I do not know the person) "Creativity, it has been said, consists largely of re-arranging what we know in order to find out what we do not know.", says it all. So it is time to pull this artificial mystery veil off and start dealing with it. In a creative manner.

In a passage from the synectics theory pdf, their view of creativity, is in direct conflict with the theory that any attempt to analyse and train imagination and those aspects of the human psyche associated directly with the creative process threatens the process with destruction. In other words, true analysis of the creative process is considered impossible since if the individual attempts to examine himself in process, the process ceases immediately, and his examination is bankrupt. This theory implies that illumination is destructive. At present this prejudice seems groundless. Synectic's attempts to illuminate the creative process have resulted in several working hypotheses which are useful in practice and have increased markedly the creative output of both individuals and groups.
What hinders each individual's creative potential is a weak grasp of concepts that underpin his reality. Expanding the breadth and depth of the concepts, an individual abounds by, will provide an abundance of leads for his creative nature to generate new ideas and concepts. Abiding to our conservative nature and the unwillingness that stems from it, hinders such a process and stifles creativity.

Concepts and consciousness

In a previous post I dealt with the matter of consciousness from the point of view of a wine-taster and I mentioned that a constantly evolving formal terminology is used to describe the range of perceived flavours, aromas and other characteristics of a wine. And that is what makes it possible for a wine-taster to tell the difference between wine samples. Concepts involved are strongly affirmed via an ever more detailed description. Therefore the breadth of concepts relevant to wine, (the category wine?) expand.

In this paper about synectics I found similar lines of thoughts, similar as regards to the significance in a rising consciousness of describing further the concepts, even for concepts which are very difficult to pin down. Synectics deals with the creative process. They mention that the creative process in human beings can be concretely described and, further, that sound description should be usable in teaching methodology to increase the creative output of both individuals and groups. This position agrees with what I mention before for wine tasters. It is the constantly evolving formal terminology by ever more sound descriptions, that is used to develop the methodology to increase wine-tasting skills as groups and as individuals. That points towards the significance of following similar lines of action for all the concepts that comprise consciousness in both the individual level and group level, group level being community, society, culture. And why not, it should be the way education is delivered.

Thursday, 8 November 2007

Unconscious knows better ... Indulge yourself.

The word unconscious struck me there ... conscious and unconscious as they refer to states our mind might be in. The conscious and unconscious states of our mind. Mind states triggered or materialised in response to signals, and among other, emotion-related signals also. And somatic markers, the special instance of feelings (feelings .?.), generated from secondary emotions. Emotions and feelings somatic markers connected by learning (we learn about and are able to distinguish particular feelings and emotions and attribute them as somatic markers) to predicted future outcomes of certain scenarios.

We learn to distinguish emotions and feelings by the signals they are related to or being related to them. What are emotions and what are feelings? And what are their signals, we learn about and later associate with one or the other predicted future outcome. Emotions, an umbrella concept. An instance of emotion takes place by reference to a variety of mental and behavioural states. The particular instance of emotion, which can be taken, as well, as an emotional instance, refer to or relevant to a particular mental and/or behavioural state. This might be lust to liking, joy to aggression, aesthetic appreciation to disgust. The flavour and intensity of the instance a slider control from one to the other end of a set range. Related signals are learned. knowledge gained by learning associates a specific emotional instance to particular signal(s).

What are these signals? What is their origin? External or internal? Emotions are triggered by either external or internal signals. A triggered instance of emotion sends additional signals to the brain, the frequently visceral signals, the gut feelings. The secondary emotions that generate the somatic markers? This special instance of feelings which by learning are connected to future outcomes? Where a negative instance of feeling, slider control in the range near the undesirable end, juxtaposed to a particular future outcome, combined act as an alarm bell against that particular choice and avoid that future outcome. And where a positive instance of feeling, slider control in the range near the desirable end, juxtaposed to a particular future outcome, combined act as a beacon of incentive in favour of that particular choice and future outcome.

And all these processes may operate covertly, without coming into consciousness. What? Is our consciousness untrustworthy? Can it not be trusted? What is there that knows more than our conscious mind? Our unconscious mind?

The claims brought forward in Nature magazine insist that it does. Accurate decisions can be made without awareness.

You, yourself, your precious conscious mind, that you so much marvel and proud for, can be asleep ... for all I care ... says the unconscious mind.

"I will take care of you" ... daydream and fill your heart with pleasure.

Wednesday, 7 November 2007

Consciousness vs. awareness?

Consciousness and awareness put side by side or versus each other? Consciousness a mechanistic process which analyzes the product of the senses, which our awareness produce. In the example cited 'being tired', the awareness part and 'being conscious of being tired', the consciousness part, 'are two different things'. What is the difference? The awareness part we feel it, it is a sensation which is conveyed to our brain by our weary body due to fatigue in our muscles, triggered possibly by accumulated chemicals like lactic acid which produce neural impulses, conveyed by the nerve cells into our brain and our brain brings about the sensation of tiredness, the awareness of tiredness.

What about the consciousness part? What 'being conscious of being tired actually means'? The first thing obviously is that we can think about it, and use this assertion into what we can do about it. We bring about logic in order to respond to the situation our awareness of tiredness demands. So, since we are tired then we should rest and further depending on the task we set about to perform, to assess whether we can continue the task or not. All in all consciousness assists in deciding of what to do about our awareness, how to react to our awareness, to the messages arriving in our brain by the mechanisms employed by our awareness.

Thoughts about analogue vs. digital seem relevant. Analogue for awareness and digital for consciousness. Analogue general un-refined, where output comes from a broad spectrum of "registers" and digital the refined output where the signals received are rid of the noise and the effect each or a specific "register" receives, is clearly defined. Awareness gives us a broad view of a particular field on all our "registers", the senses for that matter, and consciousness makes it specific for each "register" or just the "register" we choose to focus on according to the task to be performed.

The matter is not finished yet. Referring to awareness as the state of being fully conscious of pertinent stimuli and really experiencing a task or situation brings in aspects attributed to consciousness. This makes fuzzier the boundaries between the two faculties. Or is it that consciousness rise, it becomes more subtle, more acute, by learning, training, repetition or other process therefore it makes it possible to distinguish between minute fluctuations in the stimuli presented to our senses. What our "registers" are picking up. It is still perception, the way we perceive our environment and therefore awareness. It is how a wine-taster develops the skills to evaluate wines using a constantly evolving formal terminology to describe the range of perceived flavours, aromas and other characteristics of a wine which an untrained, lay-person is largely unaware of. The concept of wine enriched with the properties of complexity and character sharpens wine tasters awareness of wines.

So this developed skill goes hand-in-hand with the firm acquisition of all the relevant concepts in the wine-making process. Concept development arising by the need to identify even finer differences between wine samples and once a concept is affirmed, continuing persistent differences might incite the creation of newer novel concepts, the process repeating itself, an abundance of concepts, a rise in consciousness that result in an even more acute wine-testing awareness.

Consciousness extends its breadth and depth, embracing ever wider realms of existence as more and more concepts are incorporated, hand-in-hand with an ever sharper and more acute perception and heightened awareness.