Just who is it that experiences your life?

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Re: Just who is it that experiences your life?

Postby The Mighty Thesaurus » Fri Nov 08, 2013 6:00 am UTC

Let me rephrase my question: if my existence is independent of every other instance of consciousness (i.e. my continued existence is not predicated on their continued existence), why should I care if they ceased existing? Why should the sun care if other stars ceased to exist, if it could still warp spacetime?

I am not comfortable with your choice of language. For example, I am unsure what you mean by "experiencer". Sometimes, it appears as though you are referring to a conscious being, which would preclude the set of all possible conscious beings. Other times, you describe the potential for consciousness as an experiencer. I do not know if this equivocation is conscious, but it does make me suspect that you are not arguing in good faith.

Edit: Universal Consciousness, though loaded, is a prettier term than "the Universal potential for consciousness to occur". I am going to use it as a shorthand for the central element of your hypothesis
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Re: Just who is it that experiences your life?

Postby chridd » Fri Nov 08, 2013 6:12 am UTC

androidbleepboop wrote:If consciousness is a phenomenon which arises anywhere in the Universe that physical interactions of the type brains undergo occur, then the phenomenon of consciousness in any unique brain is an expression of the universal possibility for consciousness to exist. Every brain draws from this same fundamental possibility, and each represents a unique instance of this universal phenomenon. [...]
But possibilities can't experience things. It's the individual instances of consciousness that experience things. This is true regardless of how universal the possibility of consciousness is, or whether those instances are expressions of that possibility.

Edit: Or, if you disagree, then (if you want to convince anyone) you need a better explanation of how a possibility can experience things, and why we should attribute experience to the possibility rather than to the individual instances, because it's not obvious and the explanations you've given aren't convincing.
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Re: Just who is it that experiences your life?

Postby Weeks » Fri Nov 08, 2013 7:16 am UTC

The difference between the Holy Trinity and human beings is that even if we all were the same experiencer, it is a fact that we simply cannot experience exactly what another person is experiencing. It does not matter if on some unknown level we are all fundamentally the same (because, yeah, we are all human, have dna, etc.), because circumstance, memory, and the fact that we can't link our brains together (yet) change everything about our experiences.

We can however approximate others' experiences using things like empathy and reason, which is why many of us base our ethics/morals on that.
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Re: Just who is it that experiences your life?

Postby Angua » Fri Nov 08, 2013 8:12 am UTC

I've definitely heard the idea of everyone being part of the same consciousness/we are all one idea before. I don't think you're going to get people to stop hurting each other even if they did believe it.

I still don't get how consciousness being an emergent property of a neural network means that we are all the same though. Bread is basically an emergent property of the proper ingredients put together in the right way, but all loaves of bread are not considered one.
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Re: Just who is it that experiences your life?

Postby The Mighty Thesaurus » Fri Nov 08, 2013 8:33 am UTC

I believe his argument is not that they are the same loaf, but that they are all expressions of the same potential for loafhood, which he then tacitly reifies*. How this qualifies as a profound insight remains to be seen.

*He will, of course, deny that he is doing this, but none of what he says makes sense unless he is doing this. On the other hand, one doesn't like to presume that one's interlocutor is in the habit of making sense
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Re: Just who is it that experiences your life?

Postby Magnanimous » Fri Nov 08, 2013 11:12 am UTC

My understanding of all this is that you shouldn't harm other consciousnesses because it disrespects the totally cool fact that the universe can create minds, and you should be invested in that fact because you're one of the minds. (Please correct me if this is wrong.) But I don't see any reason the above has to be true or follows from modern neurology. The premises make sense and it's fine to think of people as independent instances of a phenomenon (like programming with classes), but the moral stuff is just, like, your opinion, man.

Edit: Do you believe in free will? If so, why?

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Re: Just who is it that experiences your life?

Postby Izawwlgood » Fri Nov 08, 2013 11:24 am UTC

Does this infer then that we can treat non conscious entities with whatever malice we so desire? What about brain damaged humans?

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Re: Just who is it that experiences your life?

Postby Draconaes » Fri Nov 08, 2013 1:38 pm UTC

androidbleepboop wrote:
The Great Hippo wrote:I mentioned the bit about arrogance because the implication you've made here is that the posters responding to you have merely failed to grasp your point -- I think the problem here is more that you think you have made an interesting and new point, and people are confused because, at its core, you're saying the sort of thing people have been saying in different ways for centuries -- 'Ask not for whom the bell tolls', etc.

I mean, it's kind of cool; I'm all for the one-ness of the universe stuff. But it's not new, it's not particularly remarkable, and I think the vast majority of people posting here have probably encountered the concept long before you put it forward here.

As far as I can tell, you are only inferring that other people feel that way, because you are the only one who has explicitly expressed that sentiment. In any case, based on your mischaracterization of my position, it seems clear to me that you have failed to grasp the point; not through any fault of your own, I think, but because it's hard to put such concepts into words.


For what it is worth, I'll explicitly agree with Hippo's sentiment here. The way I see it, you are either saying something trivially and uselessly "true", or trivially and blatantly false. Hippo's interpretation relies on the former, while it seems the other commenters are assuming the latter or trying to get you to clarify your position enough to make it clear what you are actually trying to say.

Of course, I could be wrong in either case, but it is hard to know when you can't seem to actually say what you mean in a straightforward fashion.

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Re: Just who is it that experiences your life?

Postby addams » Fri Nov 08, 2013 2:48 pm UTC

I agree with Hippo, too.
One little enlightened soul wrote, "Our separateness is an illusion."
That little enlightened soul was correct for some lovely moments between very compatible souls.

Our separateness is a great joy and a great sorrow.
It is not an illusion. We are separate.

We are more separate from some than from others.
Who experiences my life? No one; Maybe.

I am beginning to understand some of those AssHoles from the DHS.
They act like they are, Pissed off that anyone could be at ease and happy.

It is not an act.
Last edited by addams on Sat Nov 09, 2013 6:01 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Just who is it that experiences your life?

Postby PolakoVoador » Fri Nov 08, 2013 3:35 pm UTC

androidbleepboop wrote:
The Mighty Thesaurus wrote:
androidbleepboop wrote:rationally you should promote the wellbeing of other experiencers as much as you promote your own (since you all share the same fundamental identity).

Why? Why should I, as a particular instance of consciousness, care about the well-being of other instances? You appear to be making a host of assumptions regarding morality; could you state them explicitly?

Being a particular instance of consciousness depends on the possibility for consciousness to exist, which is a Universal property. Every brain seems to manifest experience from this same Universal property, the possibility for experience to exist. For this reason, though you cannot experience other instances of consciousness, you could intellectually grasp that every instance is a manifestation of the same fundamental source, and on account of this not place your own as higher in importance, and thereby choose not to take any actions which hurt other instances of consciousness for the sake of helping your own. These are the pertinent conclusions I'm making, and they are not accurately described as assumptions because they follow logically from premises.


I don't believe they do.

A few commentaries/questions:

1) you say consciousness arises from neural activity, right? Does this includes the whole lot of creatures which have some sort of neural activity? Shouldn't we stop eating then, because we're eating ourselves? Shouldn't we be vegans?

2) you stated the one consciousness is not actually itself conscious, correct? But what if I said this one consciousness is actually conscious, and is an Invisible Pink Unicorn in the Sky. Locigally we shouldn't hurt each other, because we would be hurting the poor Invisible Pink Unicorn, and what kind of monster does that? How can we differentiate between yours scenario from the Invisible Pink Unicorn? I can't really experience yours experiences, just as much I can't experience the Invisible Pink Unicorn experiences.
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Re: Just who is it that experiences your life?

Postby TheGrammarBolshevik » Fri Nov 08, 2013 3:52 pm UTC

androidbleepboop wrote:
TheGrammarBolshevik wrote:Why are you assuming that:
  1. every action that harms or benefits me is morally relevant to me?
  2. only those actions which harm or benefit me are morally relevant to me?

I'm not, exactly- I'm assuming that, as Hippo pointed out, a sociopath could agree with B. in the absence of the rational understanding of selfhood which I am putting forward. This is where the moral importance comes in- even a horrid sociopath like Christopher Columbus would have to rethink his horrendous control tactics if he imagined that the experiencer he shares with all conscious beings has to endure the torture he dealt out.

What does this show, exactly?

Does it show that the sociopath should be moral because of your insight? No, because it doesn't actually show that the sociopath should accept B. If the sociopath is mistaken, then nothing moral follows from his mistaken belief that he should only care about himself.

Does it show that the sociopath would in fact be moral because of your insight? I suggest you try sharing your idea with sociopaths and seeing what happens.


androidbleepboop wrote:My response accomplished those things, though you have to gather what I'm putting forward and apply it to your questions. In any case, let me deal with them. Calling "the thing-that-consciousness-does "experience" rather than calling the thing-that-individuals-do "experience." is an odd way to put it, because individuals have to be conscious to have experiences.

So we do have experiences? I thought you said, in the video, that if we ask of a brain who is having its experiences that the "only possible answer" is that consciousness itself is having this experience.

androidbleepboop wrote:The moral relevance stems from us all being one experiencer, so pain in one is pain endured by the all.

Yes, I understand that. Like TMT, I do not see the moral relevance of the thought that "pain is endured by the all" given the particular meanings that you have for "endured" and "the all."

androidbleepboop wrote:It is important how you put it, because they both say precise things which are different. Saying a planet creates gravity is to say that gravity is created uniquely by each planet, when in actuality gravity is a universal consequence of the relationship between matter and spacetime. Saying that a planet creates a gravitational field is correct, because it is in line with this context: gravitational fields are instilled universally due to the relationship between matter and spacetime.

OK, cool. So would it be correct to say that a brain creates an individual field of consciousness, or something like that? Just as a planet creates something that is distinct from the universal phenomenon of gravity, brain creates something that is distinct from the universal phenomenon of consciousness, right?

androidbleepboop wrote:If the soul persists after the body is gone, then the soul is then unaffected by the body. You could argue that the soul's new inhabitance in heaven or hell is determined by actions the body took, but it's the actual existence of the soul that is in question. If the soul can exist without the body, then clearly the soul is not dependent on the body for its existence. That's the point I was making in the dialogue- the old idea proposes that the soul's existence does not hinge on brain activity, whereas modern evidence clearly suggests otherwise.

A little unclear how you think that scientific evidence shows that. At any rate, some people who have believed in souls think that souls aren't, in fact, capable of persisting after the body is gone. And others, who do believe in life after death and the bodily resurrection and Jesus and the rest, think that the soul is only able to exist without the body because of miraculous intervention on God's part. I don't think you'll find anyone who believes in souls and who thinks it would be wise to put your brain in a blender.

androidbleepboop wrote:For this reason, though you cannot experience other instances of consciousness, you could intellectually grasp that every instance is a manifestation of the same fundamental source, and on account of this not place your own as higher in importance, and thereby choose not to take any actions which hurt other instances of consciousness for the sake of helping your own.

What is the logical connection between recognizing that my consciousness is a manifestation of the same fundamental source of Jim's consciousness, and my deciding not to place my consciousness as higher in importance as Jim's consciousness? Couldn't I just as easily (as many philosophers have done) say that we're equally important without relying on the assumption that we're all manifestations of the same fundamental source? Conversely, if I do not think that Jim and I are equally important, why should recognizing that our consciousnesses have the same fundamental source change anything?
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Re: Just who is it that experiences your life?

Postby The Great Hippo » Fri Nov 08, 2013 4:17 pm UTC

androidbleepboop wrote:Man, are we really back to square one after all this time? I can't help but feel like we're talking past each other. The evidence hasn't changed since I first put it forward in the video, and it's remained straightforward: If consciousness is a phenomenon which arises anywhere in the Universe that physical interactions of the type brains undergo occur, then the phenomenon of consciousness in any unique brain is an expression of the universal possibility for consciousness to exist. Every brain draws from this same fundamental possibility, and each represents a unique instance of this universal phenomenon. Consciousness entails experience, and experience entails an experiencer. Because the possibility of experientiality is available throughout the Universe, and the experiencer is an expression of that possibility, the experiencer must not be unique to every brain; it is a requirement of the universal possibility for consciousness to exist. It all hinges on the realization that experientiality is a universal possibility prior to the existence of brains, possible to engage at any point in the Universe given the correct physical conditions (in a similar way to how, say, magnetism is a universal possibility, and it is engaged when the correct physical conditions (accelerating electrical charges) are present).
That's not evidence; that's just word games.
androidbleepboop wrote:The evidence from neuroscience is given above, that consciousness arises from neural activity. It isn't special knowledge. The important insight is gained by taking seriously the question "How can we account for the phenomenon of experientiality, if it arises anywhere in the Universe that neural activity occurs?" This is not a question in the realm of science, which accounts for neuroscientists "missing" it. It's a philosophical question.
Okay, so this isn't based on anything neuroscientists discovered; it's just something you made up.

Understand: It is deeply misleading for you to claim that this is based in some part on discoveries made by neuroscience. Because it really doesn't sound like it is. You just cribbed the word 'neural pathways', but you don't need that word to make the point you're making.
androidbleepbloop wrote:That's actually a good point- in looking back over it, I don't see many people who paraphrase what I'm saying correctly... Weeks' brief comment at the top of page 2 comes closest. I was certainly incorrect in that statement. I must have gotten mixed up with other discussions I've had on other forums on this topic- many others have not had as much difficulty understanding my viewpoint correctly.
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Re: Just who is it that experiences your life?

Postby setzer777 » Fri Nov 08, 2013 4:29 pm UTC

Your entire argument seems to be predicated on a Platonic model of reality, which (if I'm not mistaken) is not generally accepted by philosophers or scientists today. Consider an alternative:

There's no such thing as "the possibility of consciousness" inherent in the universe. There's the possibility of every arrangement of matter and energy that can occur - a mind-boggling number of possibilities. Humans draw a broad circle around a bunch of the these possibilities and agree that when one of them says the word "consciousness" they mean to draw your attention to a phenomenon roughly within that circle (maybe right on the line or just outside too, we only have so many words).

It could very well be that there is no universal that is "partaken of" by individual instantiations of a type of thing - there are only individual things and the file-keeping minds do to talk about those things.
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Re: Just who is it that experiences your life?

Postby WibblyWobbly » Fri Nov 08, 2013 4:35 pm UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:
androidbleepbloop wrote:That's actually a good point- in looking back over it, I don't see many people who paraphrase what I'm saying correctly... Weeks' brief comment at the top of page 2 comes closest. I was certainly incorrect in that statement. I must have gotten mixed up with other discussions I've had on other forums on this topic- many others have not had as much difficulty understanding my viewpoint correctly.
When a room full of intelligent people have no idea what the hell you're talking about, that's a big clue that you might not actually know what the hell you're talking about.

Or, at the very least, that you are absolutely horrible at explaining your idea in a way that makes sense to anyone but you. Which, I would assume, limits its effectiveness. You can go on feeling superior because "these other people just don't get it, man," but if you're not trolling and actually think that this idea has implications that are important for people not you, then you need to find a way to not be a shithead in trying to explain it.

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Re: Just who is it that experiences your life?

Postby The Mighty Thesaurus » Fri Nov 08, 2013 4:42 pm UTC

And please excuse us if we're not impressed by the people who commented on youtube.
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Re: Just who is it that experiences your life?

Postby setzer777 » Fri Nov 08, 2013 4:47 pm UTC

The Mighty Thesaurus wrote:And please excuse us if we're not impressed by the people who commented on youtube.


But you made those comments on YouTube!
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Re: Just who is it that experiences your life?

Postby The Mighty Thesaurus » Fri Nov 08, 2013 4:49 pm UTC

Resist your natural impulse to be impressed by me
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Re: Just who is it that experiences your life?

Postby gmalivuk » Fri Nov 08, 2013 6:00 pm UTC

Even if, for some reason, we wanted to grant most of the OP's claims, such as universal consciousness and the pain you cause others somehow being pain you cause yourself, and even if we assume as is usually the case that you don't like pain to yourself, we *still* don't get the OP's desired moral consequence.

Because if I believe that the pleasure I get from something is greater than the pain it causes you, then by this argument it is in *everyone's* interest that I cause you that pain. The total balance of experience will still come out positive, so I'm justified in doing the action.

In addition to being unsupported at best and incoherent at worst, the universal (potential for) consciousness thesis is also independent of any particular moral principles we wish to draw from it. There's nothing about the thesis that precludes me from deciding that my portion of the overall experience is more important than the rest, and acting in an accordingly selfish manner. There's nothing that stops me from arriving at the shortsighted variety of utilitarianism that says it's always justified to murder healthy people for their organs if those organs can save multiple others. And there's nothing special that gets me to the OP's desired moral outcome, either. I can arrive at that same conclusion just as easily from different premises, so why should I go for the universal consciousness one instead of one that actually makes sense?
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Re: Just who is it that experiences your life?

Postby setzer777 » Fri Nov 08, 2013 9:10 pm UTC

So if you're assaulted by someone, you really only have yourself to blame. After all, you're the one who attacked you.
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Re: Just who is it that experiences your life?

Postby androidbleepboop » Fri Nov 08, 2013 9:29 pm UTC

Phew, ok, let's do this:

Cridd: But possibilities can't experience things. It's the individual instances of consciousness that experience things. This is true regardless of how universal the possibility of consciousness is, or whether those instances are expressions of that possibility.

Of course, but the point is that individual instances of consciousness only come to have consciousness through engaging that possibility.

Izaawlgood: Does this infer then that we can treat non conscious entities with whatever malice we so desire? What about brain damaged humans?


You meant to use the word 'imply', but no, it doesn't imply that. What would it mean to treat something non conscious with malice? You can't hurt something that can't experience pain, right?

Draconaes: ...Of course, I could be wrong in either case, but it is hard to know when you can't seem to actually say what you mean in a straightforward fashion.

I've stated it in a straightforward fashion several times. Makes perfect sense to quite a few people, though clearly not here. I'd refer you to A. the video, or B. the post where I made a dialogue with an imaginary 8 year old.

PolakoVoadar:
1) you say consciousness arises from neural activity, right? Does this includes the whole lot of creatures which have some sort of neural activity? Shouldn't we stop eating then, because we're eating ourselves? Shouldn't we be vegans?


This gets into murkier moral waters. I believe it definitely does include the whole lot of creatures which have some sort of neural activity. It's morally unclear, because in the absence of us eating, say, chickens, we would be letting them off into the woods to be eaten by some other predator.

PolakoVoadar:
2) you stated the one consciousness is not actually itself conscious, correct? But what if I said this one consciousness is actually conscious, and is an Invisible Pink Unicorn in the Sky. Locigally we shouldn't hurt each other, because we would be hurting the poor Invisible Pink Unicorn, and what kind of monster does that? How can we differentiate between yours scenario from the Invisible Pink Unicorn? I can't really experience yours experiences, just as much I can't experience the Invisible Pink Unicorn experiences.


I would disagree with you, because there is no evidence for there being an Invisible Pink Unicorn. On the other hand, there is abundant evidence for my position.

GrammarBolshevik:
So we do have experiences? I thought you said, in the video, that if we ask of a brain who is having its experiences that the "only possible answer" is that consciousness itself is having this experience.

Yes, of course we do have experiences: consciousness itself is having the experiences, and we are instances of consciousness.

GrammarBolshevik:
OK, cool. So would it be correct to say that a brain creates an individual field of consciousness, or something like that? Just as a planet creates something that is distinct from the universal phenomenon of gravity, brain creates something that is distinct from the universal phenomenon of consciousness, right?

Uh, no, the planet doesn't create something distinct from the universal phenomenon of gravity- all instances of gravity are drawn from the universal phenomenon and are therefore connected to it, not distinct from it.

GrammarBolshevik:
What is the logical connection between recognizing that my consciousness is a manifestation of the same fundamental source of Jim's consciousness, and my deciding not to place my consciousness as higher in importance as Jim's consciousness? Couldn't I just as easily (as many philosophers have done) say that we're equally important without relying on the assumption that we're all manifestations of the same fundamental source? Conversely, if I do not think that Jim and I are equally important, why should recognizing that our consciousnesses have the same fundamental source change anything
?

I think it should be extremely clear why "recognizing that our consciousnesses have the same fundamental source" changes things, because it suggests that the same experiencer is in each of your bodies. I don't understand why you can't comprehend that idea.

All I have time for for now, keep up the good work. Rah rah, go team, am I right?

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Re: Just who is it that experiences your life?

Postby TheGrammarBolshevik » Fri Nov 08, 2013 9:37 pm UTC

androidbleepboop wrote:Uh, no, the planet doesn't create something distinct from the universal phenomenon of gravity- all instances of gravity are drawn from the universal phenomenon and are therefore connected to it, not distinct from it.

"Connected with" is not the opposite of "distinct from."

But, to repeat my question, is it accurate to say that a brain creates a field of consciousness? If not, is there anything that the brain can be said to create?

androidbleepboop wrote:I think it should be extremely clear why "recognizing that our consciousnesses have the same fundamental source" changes things, because it suggests that the same experiencer is in each of your bodies. I don't understand why you can't comprehend that idea.

No, that does not suggest that the same experiencer is in each of our bodies. Any more than it suggests that the gravitational field of the sun is the same gravitational field as that of Polaris (since they both come from the same fundamental phenomenon), or that the bottle of Rittenhouse in my room is the same bottle of Rittenhouse as that in my girlfriend's room (since they both come from the same distillery in Philadelphia).
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Re: Just who is it that experiences your life?

Postby setzer777 » Fri Nov 08, 2013 9:39 pm UTC

TheGrammarBolshevik wrote:No, that does not suggest that the same experiencer is in each of our bodies. Any more than it suggests that the gravitational field of the sun is the same gravitational field as that of Polaris (since they both come from the same fundamental phenomenon), or that the bottle of Rittenhouse in my room is the same bottle of Rittenhouse as that in my girlfriend's room (since they both come from the same distillery in Philadelphia).


Or does it? Maybe they're both just individual incarnations of the one Universal Bottle of Rittenhouse.
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Re: Just who is it that experiences your life?

Postby brenok » Fri Nov 08, 2013 9:39 pm UTC

androidbleepboop wrote:PolakoVoadar:
2) you stated the one consciousness is not actually itself conscious, correct? But what if I said this one consciousness is actually conscious, and is an Invisible Pink Unicorn in the Sky. Locigally we shouldn't hurt each other, because we would be hurting the poor Invisible Pink Unicorn, and what kind of monster does that? How can we differentiate between yours scenario from the Invisible Pink Unicorn? I can't really experience yours experiences, just as much I can't experience the Invisible Pink Unicorn experiences.


I would disagree with you, because there is no evidence for there being an Invisible Pink Unicorn. On the other hand, there is abundant evidence for my position.

So abundant that you couldn't present any...

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Re: Just who is it that experiences your life?

Postby TheGrammarBolshevik » Fri Nov 08, 2013 9:42 pm UTC

setzer777 wrote:
TheGrammarBolshevik wrote:No, that does not suggest that the same experiencer is in each of our bodies. Any more than it suggests that the gravitational field of the sun is the same gravitational field as that of Polaris (since they both come from the same fundamental phenomenon), or that the bottle of Rittenhouse in my room is the same bottle of Rittenhouse as that in my girlfriend's room (since they both come from the same distillery in Philadelphia).


Or does it? Maybe they're both just individual incarnations of the one Universal Bottle of Rittenhouse.

This has profound implications for morality, because it means that every time someone drinks whiskey they're really drinking from my bottle.

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Re: Just who is it that experiences your life?

Postby WibblyWobbly » Fri Nov 08, 2013 9:43 pm UTC

setzer777 wrote:
TheGrammarBolshevik wrote:No, that does not suggest that the same experiencer is in each of our bodies. Any more than it suggests that the gravitational field of the sun is the same gravitational field as that of Polaris (since they both come from the same fundamental phenomenon), or that the bottle of Rittenhouse in my room is the same bottle of Rittenhouse as that in my girlfriend's room (since they both come from the same distillery in Philadelphia).


Or does it? Maybe they're both just individual incarnations of the one Universal Bottle of Rittenhouse.

If I get drunk off my ass on the Universal Bottle and proceed to revisit my lunch, does that engage the Universal Technicolor Yawn and proceed to creating a wealth of experience for everyone, because we all share the same Universal potential for spectacularly vomiting?

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Re: Just who is it that experiences your life?

Postby setzer777 » Fri Nov 08, 2013 9:47 pm UTC

TheGrammarBolshevik wrote:
setzer777 wrote:
TheGrammarBolshevik wrote:No, that does not suggest that the same experiencer is in each of our bodies. Any more than it suggests that the gravitational field of the sun is the same gravitational field as that of Polaris (since they both come from the same fundamental phenomenon), or that the bottle of Rittenhouse in my room is the same bottle of Rittenhouse as that in my girlfriend's room (since they both come from the same distillery in Philadelphia).


Or does it? Maybe they're both just individual incarnations of the one Universal Bottle of Rittenhouse.

This has profound implications for morality, because it means that every time someone drinks whiskey they're really drinking from my bottle.

GIVE IT BACK, DOOGLY!


On the other hand, it means that while the glass of Rittenhouse may be half empty or half full, the Glass of Rittenhouse is eternally full.
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Re: Just who is it that experiences your life?

Postby TheGrammarBolshevik » Fri Nov 08, 2013 9:50 pm UTC

Does the same free-refill offer apply to the All?
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Re: Just who is it that experiences your life?

Postby androidbleepboop » Fri Nov 08, 2013 9:54 pm UTC

Man, this is like debating a hydra.

Hippo:
That's not evidence; that's just word games.


That's not an argument, that's just a lazy dismissal. It is evidence, I'm sorry that it is going over your head.

Hippo:
Okay, so this isn't based on anything neuroscientists discovered; it's just something you made up.

Understand: It is deeply misleading for you to claim that this is based in some part on discoveries made by neuroscience. Because it really doesn't sound like it is. You just cribbed the word 'neural pathways', but you don't need that word to make the point you're making.

Wrong again. It's based on the continually reinforced evidence that consciousness is a result of neural activity in brains. The connection to my argument is incredibly straightforward, yet you can't grasp it. What use is there in reiterating it to you?

Hippo:
When a room full of intelligent people have no idea what the hell you're talking about, that's a big clue that you might not actually know what the hell you're talking about.

This is more like a room where the majority know what I'm talking about and agree with me (reference the comments on the video, comments on reddit, on freedomain's forum, internet philosophy forum, etc.), yet this small corner we are gathered in here is reeally resisting actually understanding what I'm putting forward in favor of trying in vain to dismiss it out of hand.

Brenok: the video along with this whole discussion consists of me presenting the evidence, take a closer look!

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Re: Just who is it that experiences your life?

Postby TheGrammarBolshevik » Fri Nov 08, 2013 9:57 pm UTC

Oh, well if you've received favorable reviews in the prestigious journal of Freedomain Radio Message Board, that's another thing...
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Re: Just who is it that experiences your life?

Postby Angua » Fri Nov 08, 2013 9:58 pm UTC

If consciousness wasn't a result of neural activity in brains, what else would it be a result of? Because we've known about brain activity being required for consciousness for decades (maybe even over a century).

It's not like it's exactly new...
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Re: Just who is it that experiences your life?

Postby JudeMorrigan » Fri Nov 08, 2013 10:06 pm UTC

Evidence. You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

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Re: Just who is it that experiences your life?

Postby PolakoVoador » Fri Nov 08, 2013 11:02 pm UTC

JudeMorrigan wrote:Evidence. You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.


Damn, I was setting up so I could use this quote, but JudeMorrigan beat me to it.

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Re: Just who is it that experiences your life?

Postby Izawwlgood » Fri Nov 08, 2013 11:39 pm UTC

i love it when people post crank videos as proof of their crackpottery, then insist we watch the videos.

Android, do you really want to imply that only conscious beings can experience pain, and then couch your arguments on poorly grasped neuroscience that you then in turn link to hackneyed cosmotheology?

I don't believe all organisms experience pain in an anthropomorphic manner; I'm basing my comfort in my career on it actually. But don't be so ignorant to assume consciousness is a binary, or that all beings that are more intelligent that a sea sponge experience things the same way. It's beyond silly that you've even uttered the word science in this smattering of outlooks.
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Re: Just who is it that experiences your life?

Postby Draconaes » Sat Nov 09, 2013 12:09 am UTC

I'd just like to point out that, even if we grant that absolutely everyone else has agreed with this idea when it's been presented to them, argumentum ad populum is still a logical fallacy. I'd be a devout Christian if it was a persuasive argument. I am afraid you will find no shortage of wishful thinkers and gullible-types that will agree with this idea just because it sounds nice. They may even claim to understand it, either out of desire to not appear idiotic or because they confuse feeling mystified with understanding. That such people exist in abundance is not compelling me to believe in a "universal consciousness" or these ethical implications that have been pulled out of thin air.

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Re: Just who is it that experiences your life?

Postby The Great Hippo » Sat Nov 09, 2013 12:13 am UTC

androidbleepboop wrote:That's not an argument, that's just a lazy dismissal. It is evidence, I'm sorry that it is going over your head.
There's a great many things in the world that are over my head; I don't think your particularly philosophy is among them.
Wrong again. It's based on the continually reinforced evidence that consciousness is a result of neural activity in brains. The connection to my argument is incredibly straightforward, yet you can't grasp it. What use is there in reiterating it to you?
Consciousness being the product of neural activity in our brains is the old paradigm; recent research indicates the truth is more complex. That being said, you don't need a neurologist to tell you that consciousness is largely a function of the brain. We've known this for a while.
This is more like a room where the majority know what I'm talking about and agree with me (reference the comments on the video, comments on reddit, on freedomain's forum, internet philosophy forum, etc.), yet this small corner we are gathered in here is reeally resisting actually understanding what I'm putting forward in favor of trying in vain to dismiss it out of hand.
Try presenting this idea on a website that focuses on actual critical thinking -- like lesswrong. I guarantee they'll tear it apart. Probably more effectively than we are!

I get that you've found people on the internet who think your ideas are cool and agree with you; however, it's when you find people who disagree with you that you should pay the most attention.

When intelligent people disagree with you, it pays to re-evaluate.

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Re: Just who is it that experiences your life?

Postby androidbleepboop » Sat Nov 09, 2013 3:01 am UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:When intelligent people disagree with you, it pays to re-evaluate.


Agreed, and this discussion has been a great opportunity to do just that. As far as I can tell, we've exhausted the prior line of argument, and reached something of a stalemate (in that all of you think I'm wrong, and that I am not convinced by your arguments that I am). I agree also that this is a group of quite intelligent people, so don't think I'm discounting the arguments you have put forward, I just haven't found them sufficiently compelling to overturn my perspective.

Can we approach this from another angle? I'd really like to hear what each of your stances is on the topic. I think you mostly hold the conventional modern, educated belief, and not the old school, religious soul idea, but you'll notice that my arguments challenge the conventional modern belief as well. What is your concept of selfhood, the one that you would encourage me to consider as the correct alternative to my view?

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Re: Just who is it that experiences your life?

Postby gmalivuk » Sat Nov 09, 2013 3:59 am UTC

Your arguments challenge currently accepted belief, a belief that has tons of evidence to back it up, with literally no new evidence of its own.
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Re: Just who is it that experiences your life?

Postby poxic » Sat Nov 09, 2013 4:01 am UTC

I wrote way too much stuff.

Spoiler:
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.

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. People who have had serious accidents have sometimes reported the feeling of breaking apart into several "minds". They suffered a brain injury that temporarily disabled their central command, but left them aware of many of the individual parts of their brain still operating. (One fellow who crashed while hang gliding talked about feeling the parts of his brain trying to reconnect with each other while he was in the hospital. Struggle struggle struggle *pop* oh hey, I'm back to myself now *pop* oh wait no, I wasn't yet but now I am *pop* okay now I'm really myself *pop* cripes how many times will this happen *pop*.)

Imperfect analogy time: if you've ever done some dinking around with fire, you might have noticed that you can get several small fires to merge into a big one. If the small fires are close enough together, or grow large enough, the flames will cross the gaps between the log piles (or wicks if candles) and start burning as one huge, wobbly flame. That's sort of how I see consciousness, or at least "central command". There is an area of the brain that acts as executive control, and I'm mostly ignorant of exactly how it operates, but I'm certain that it isn't the only place where consciousness happens. It's a big act of cooperation among many brain areas.

Saying "we're all part of the same consciousness" makes a good story, one that can be quite helpful with dealing with our Big Issues. It's exactly as useful, and useless, as saying that small fires are all part of the One Big Fire that exists in potential everywhere in the Universe. If you don't have fuel and a spark, you have no fire; if you don't have a brain (or brain-like object) of some minimum complexity, you don't have consciousness.

(And yes, we have been able to get fires to merge into bigger fires, but no one has been able to get one consciousness to merge into another. People being the way they are, plenty have convinced themselves that they have done so. No proof of mind-reading exists, though, and that's pretty much what consciousness-merging would have to look like.)
tl;dr: Brains (plus life) make consciousness the way fuel+spark makes fire. No brain and/or no life, no consciousness. No fuel or no spark, no fire.
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Re: Just who is it that experiences your life?

Postby androidbleepboop » Sat Nov 09, 2013 5:11 am UTC

gmalivuk wrote:Your arguments challenge currently accepted belief, a belief that has tons of evidence to back it up, with literally no new evidence of its own.


And what would be that currently accepted belief, in your words?

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Re: Just who is it that experiences your life?

Postby chridd » Sat Nov 09, 2013 5:25 am UTC

androidbleepboop wrote:Can we approach this from another angle? I'd really like to hear what each of your stances is on the topic. I think you mostly hold the conventional modern, educated belief, and not the old school, religious soul idea, but you'll notice that my arguments challenge the conventional modern belief as well. What is your concept of selfhood, the one that you would encourage me to consider as the correct alternative to my view?

My own understanding:

A brain is a physical object, a bunch of physical/chemical/electrical interactions that happen in certain patterns. The brain experiences things, and consciousness is a property of the brain (and the patterns within the brain). (It could also, at least in principle, occur in things other than a brain, such as on a computer.) It would also be accurate to say that the person experiences things and is conscious, just like it would be accurate both to say that my fingers are typing this and to say that I'm typing this. (It may or may not be a more specific area of the brain, but I don't think that whether it is has any important philosophical consequences.)

"Consciousness" and "experience" are fairly fuzzy terms, in that it's possible for there to be situations in which something that doesn't fit into our categories of "conscious" and "unconscious", or where there isn't a value of x where "x is experiencing this" really accurately describes the situation (such as strong artificial intelligence that works nothing like us, or the situation poxic described where different parts of the brain aren't working together, or when we have the technology to make multiple virtual copies of our brain), but this doesn't mean that we can't use those concepts in the common situations where they do apply, nor does it mean those concepts are wrong or an illusion. (Pretty much every concept that we use on a daily basis is fuzzy in this way.)

It also seems that people are not particularly good at thinking of our brains as physical objects, and tend come to have faulty beliefs about what this implies (e.g., thinking that it implies we have no free will, or that because we have similarities to machines that we should treat each other like machines, or that the phenomenon of qualia requires that consciousness is non-physical). (I say this because of my own internal conflicts about the subject, and because of having read some arguments about the subject that seemed flawed.)
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