poxic wrote:When a thing is deemed important, the part of the brain that noticed the thing (the telephone pole in the sidewalk) attempts to get the attention of "central command" (my conscious attention). If I'm too enthralled in texting someone to pay attention to my visual system's frantic hand-waving, I will collide with the pole and someone will upload the video to YouTube with "dumb woman texting while walking".
I refer to "central command" as though it were one thing, but that's a simplification. You've noticed how you are sometimes a very different person one day to the next, or with one group of friends compared to another. Our "selves" are built of masses of subroutines that can be triggered by the environment, and by other subroutines. There could be dozens running simultaneously, only a few of which you're noticing (brushing teeth while thinking of a song and digging to remember the words, while below the surface the emotions of the song are linking up with assorted memories of yours that carry the same emotion. Also breathing and pumping blood and standing upright and tuning out the sound of the garbage truck in the alley).
Our brains are massively parallel -- sight doesn't hinder hearing which doesn't hinder taste or touch. Our conscious attention can certainly be overwhelmed by data coming from one or another sense, but the processing of the other senses doesn't stop.
Very interesting! I think this is an extraordinarily insightful perspective, the idea of consciousness acting as "central command" organizing our brain's activity and responding to the demands and dangers of the external world. I agree with you fully on this point, and find it quite a fascinating look at the interface between subconscious neural activity and explicitly conscious attention, and how attention is divvied up from moment to moment. Cheers to this- full agreement from me on these points.
Now for my disagreement:
poxic wrote:What I believe, roughly, is this: selfhood is an illusion created by the brain to give humans narrativium, making it easier for them to cope with big things (e.g., life and death and other people). Having a story makes things easier, much easier, than not having one. Not only does this give us all of our religions, but also our sciences -- when we can say "this causes that", we can control things better. The more closely our stories conform to reality, the better our control. Our stories are good enough now to give us computers and rockets, but not immortality or immunity to all diseases.
To explain the self = illusion thing: there is no unique, unchanging "I" who is experiencing my life. There are, instead, many areas of my brain that process many, many things. These brain parts change their wiring over time as new data comes in and stale data is discarded.
I can see what you mean when you say "there is no unique, unchanging "I" who is experiencing my life", based on your description. However, I think this understanding of selfhood which takes into account changing moods, mental functions, and personalities (in the case of behaving differently around different people) does not get to the heart of the matter, the heart of what selfhood is.
I think the most central, fundamental core of selfhood is subjective experience. In my perspective, my self is the one which experiences my experiences, for example, the one who is experiencing the sound and meaning of these words as I type them. Regardless of what mood I'm in, or who I'm around, or even if I have a catastrophic brain injury such that my experiences are fragmented in a totally alien way to my normal mode of perception, my self is the one who experiences my experiences. I don't at all see how this self could be illusory- if I am having experiences, the one feeling the reality of those experiences is my self, plain and simple. Does this clarify my position?