This quote on consciousness

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This quote on consciousness

Postby Cassandra » Tue Mar 26, 2013 5:43 pm

Looking for consciousness in the brain is like looking inside a radio for the announcer


I just saw this on the Web. I feel there is an element of truth in it. Isn't consciousness just a product of senses functioning rather than a real entity on its own?
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Re: This quote on consciousness

Postby daverupa » Tue Mar 26, 2013 5:47 pm

The comparison seems off, since there is no consciousness "out there" in a mystical broadcast studio, sending signals to the radio-brain.
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: This quote on consciousness

Postby Prasadachitta » Tue Mar 26, 2013 5:53 pm

Maybe more like

Looking for consciousness in the brain is like looking for sound inside a speaker.

:shrug:
"Beautifully taught is the Lord's Dhamma, immediately apparent, timeless, of the nature of a personal invitation, progressive, to be attained by the wise, each for himself." Anguttara Nikaya V.332
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Re: This quote on consciousness

Postby m0rl0ck » Tue Mar 26, 2013 6:17 pm

Prasadachitta wrote:Maybe more like

Looking for consciousness in the brain is like looking for sound inside a speaker.

:shrug:

Not bad. Still assumes that there is some source outside the system.
How about:

Looking for consciousness in the brain is like selling ice cubes to eskimos :jumping:
"When you meditate, don't send your mind outside. Don't fasten onto any knowledge at all. Whatever knowledge you've gained from books or teachers, don't bring it in to complicate things. Cut away all preoccupations, and then as you meditate let all your knowledge come from what's going on in the mind. When the mind is quiet, you'll know it for yourself. But you have to keep meditating a lot. When the time comes for things to develop, they'll develop on their own. Whatever you know, have it come from your own mind.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/thai ... eleft.html
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Re: This quote on consciousness

Postby SDC » Wed Mar 27, 2013 12:23 am

Cassandra wrote:
Looking for consciousness in the brain is like looking inside a radio for the announcer


I just saw this on the Web. I feel there is an element of truth in it. Isn't consciousness just a product of senses functioning rather than a real entity on its own?


I heard a monk make a similar analogy in a lecture. I dig it.
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Re: This quote on consciousness

Postby Buckwheat » Wed Mar 27, 2013 1:48 am

There is a reason that in psychology they refer to consciousness as "the hard problem".
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hard_probl ... sciousness
Several questions about consciousness must be resolved in order to acquire a full understanding of it. These questions include, but are not limited to, whether being conscious could be wholly described in physical terms, such as the aggregation of neural processes in the brain. It follows that if consciousness cannot be explained exclusively by physical events in the brain, it must transcend the capabilities of physical systems and require an explanation of nonphysical means. For philosophers who assert that consciousness is nonphysical in nature, there remains a question about what outside of physical theory is required to explain consciousness.
Sotthī hontu nirantaraṃ - May you forever be well.
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Re: This quote on consciousness

Postby pegembara » Wed Mar 27, 2013 2:58 am

Looking for consciousness in the brain is like looking for the thinker behind thoughts. In other words - Is there a thinker without thoughts?
And what is right speech? Abstaining from lying, from divisive speech, from abusive speech, & from idle chatter: This is called right speech.
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Re: This quote on consciousness

Postby polarbuddha101 » Wed Mar 27, 2013 6:31 am

pegembara wrote:Looking for consciousness in the brain is like looking for the thinker behind thoughts. In other words - Is there a thinker without thoughts?


And isn't the thinker just another thought?
"I don't envision a single thing that, when developed & cultivated, leads to such great benefit as the mind. The mind, when developed & cultivated, leads to great benefit."

"I don't envision a single thing that, when undeveloped & uncultivated, brings about such suffering & stress as the mind. The mind, when undeveloped & uncultivated, brings about suffering & stress."
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Re: This quote on consciousness

Postby convivium » Wed Mar 27, 2013 6:41 am

there is pre-linguistic (merely representative) Intentionality (that isn't imposed on a particular language of whatever sort).
it's the sort of primative basis of meaning (beliefs desires etc) we derive from, and impose on e.g. words.
Just keep breathing in and out like this. Don't be interested in anything else. It doesn't matter even if someone is standing on their head with their ass in the air. Don't pay it any attention. Just stay with the in-breath and the out-breath. Concentrate your awareness on the breath. Just keep doing it. http://www.ajahnchah.org/book/Just_Do_It_1_2.php
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Re: This quote on consciousness

Postby convivium » Wed Mar 27, 2013 6:43 am

Looking for consciousness in the brain is like selling ice cubes to eskimos

we'll find a neurological correlate for consciousness soon enough. just wait. :console:
Just keep breathing in and out like this. Don't be interested in anything else. It doesn't matter even if someone is standing on their head with their ass in the air. Don't pay it any attention. Just stay with the in-breath and the out-breath. Concentrate your awareness on the breath. Just keep doing it. http://www.ajahnchah.org/book/Just_Do_It_1_2.php
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Re: This quote on consciousness

Postby convivium » Wed Mar 27, 2013 6:45 am

every advanced, higher level feature in nature is localized in some lower level system. i don't see why CS should be any different.
Just keep breathing in and out like this. Don't be interested in anything else. It doesn't matter even if someone is standing on their head with their ass in the air. Don't pay it any attention. Just stay with the in-breath and the out-breath. Concentrate your awareness on the breath. Just keep doing it. http://www.ajahnchah.org/book/Just_Do_It_1_2.php
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Re: This quote on consciousness

Postby equilibrium » Wed Mar 27, 2013 11:41 am

polarbuddha101 wrote:
pegembara wrote:Looking for consciousness in the brain is like looking for the thinker behind thoughts. In other words - Is there a thinker without thoughts?
And isn't the thinker just another thought?

So what is "beyond" the thinker/thoughts?
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Re: This quote on consciousness

Postby Cassandra » Wed Mar 27, 2013 12:31 pm

daverupa wrote:The comparison seems off, since there is no consciousness "out there" in a mystical broadcast studio, sending signals to the radio-brain.


Yea I agree. But there is no need to go to that extent of detail. Just focus only on the radio, without extending the analogy to the broadcast studio. Within the capacity of the radio, consciousness is just a product of the radio's electronic functions and hardware gadgets.
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Re: This quote on consciousness

Postby kirk5a » Wed Mar 27, 2013 12:41 pm

I think we need a working definition of consciousness here. As in, what exactly is being referred to by "consciousness" ?
"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230
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Re: This quote on consciousness

Postby Ron-The-Elder » Wed Mar 27, 2013 1:06 pm

kirk5a wrote:I think we need a working definition of consciousness here. As in, what exactly is being referred to by "consciousness" ?


Having done extensive research into this topic on other threads I found basically two lines of results:

1. What Buddha taught.

SN 25.3 PTS: S iii 226 CDB i 1005
Viññana Sutta: Consciousness
translated from the Pali by
Thanissaro Bhikkhu
© 2004–2013
At Savatthi. "Monks, eye-consciousness is inconstant, changeable, alterable. Ear-consciousness... Nose-consciousness... Tongue-consciousness... Body-consciousness... Intellect-consciousness is inconstant, changeable, alterable.

"One who has conviction & belief that these phenomena are this way is called a faith-follower: one who has entered the orderliness of rightness, entered the plane of people of integrity, transcended the plane of the run-of-the-mill. He is incapable of doing any deed by which he might be reborn in hell, in the animal womb, or in the realm of hungry shades. He is incapable of passing away until he has realized the fruit of stream-entry.

"One who, after pondering with a modicum of discernment, has accepted that these phenomena are this way is called a Dhamma-follower: one who has entered the orderliness of rightness, entered the plane of people of integrity, transcended the plane of the run-of-the-mill. He is incapable of doing any deed by which he might be reborn in hell, in the animal womb, or in the realm of hungry shades. He is incapable of passing away until he has realized the fruit of stream-entry.

"One who knows and sees that these phenomena are this way is called a stream-enterer, steadfast, never again destined for states of woe, headed for self-awakening."


SN 12.44 PTS: S ii 73 CDB i 581
Loka Sutta: The World
translated from the Pali by
Thanissaro Bhikkhu
© 1998–2013
Dwelling at Savatthi. There the Blessed One addressed the monks: "I will teach you the origination of the world & the ending of the world. Listen & pay close attention. I will speak."

"As you say, lord," the monks responded to the Blessed One.

The Blessed One said: "And what is the origination of the world? Dependent on the eye & forms there arises eye-consciousness. The meeting of the three is contact. From contact as a requisite condition comes feeling. From feeling as a requisite condition comes craving. From craving as a requisite condition comes clinging/sustenance. From clinging/sustenance as a requisite condition comes becoming. From becoming as a requisite condition comes birth. From birth as a requisite condition, then aging & death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair come into play. This is the origination of the world.

"Dependent on the ear & sounds there arises ear-consciousness. The meeting of the three is contact... Dependent on the nose & aromas there arises nose-consciousness. The meeting of the three is contact... Dependent on the tongue & flavors there arises tongue-consciousness. The meeting of the three is contact... Dependent on the body & tactile sensations there arises body-consciousness. The meeting of the three is contact... Dependent on the intellect & mental qualities there arises intellect-consciousness. The meeting of the three is contact. From contact as a requisite condition comes feeling. From feeling as a requisite condition comes craving. From craving as a requisite condition comes clinging/sustenance. From clinging/sustenance as a requisite condition comes becoming. From becoming as a requisite condition comes birth. From birth as a requisite condition, then aging & death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair come into play. This is the origination of the world.

"And what is the ending of the world? Dependent on the eye & forms there arises eye-consciousness. The meeting of the three is contact. From contact as a requisite condition comes feeling. From feeling as a requisite condition comes craving. Now, from the remainderless cessation & fading away of that very craving comes the cessation of clinging/sustenance. From the cessation of clinging/sustenance comes the cessation of becoming. From the cessation of becoming comes the cessation of birth. From the cessation of birth, then aging & death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair all cease. Such is the cessation of this entire mass of stress & suffering. This is the ending of the world.

"Dependent on the ear & sounds there arises ear-consciousness. The meeting of the three is contact... Dependent on the nose & aromas there arises nose-consciousness. The meeting of the three is contact... Dependent on the tongue & flavors there arises tongue-consciousness. The meeting of the three is contact... Dependent on the body & tactile sensations there arises body-consciousness. The meeting of the three is contact... Dependent on the intellect & mental qualities there arises intellect-consciousness. The meeting of the three is contact. From contact as a requisite condition comes feeling. From feeling as a requisite condition comes craving. Now, from the remainderless cessation & fading away of that very craving comes the cessation of clinging/sustenance. From the cessation of clinging/sustenance comes the cessation of becoming. From the cessation of becoming comes the cessation of birth. From the cessation of birth, then aging & death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair all cease. Such is the cessation of this entire mass of stress & suffering. This is the ending of the world."


see also: The Six Sextets: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

2. What modern science has discovered. ( See several excellent discussions on TED Talks ) :reading:

http://www.ted.com/talks/tags/consciousness
What Makes an Elder? :
A head of gray hairs doesn't mean one's an elder. Advanced in years, one's called an old fool.
But one in whom there is truth, restraint, rectitude, gentleness,self-control, he's called an elder, his impurities disgorged, enlightened.
-Dhammpada, 19, translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.
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Re: This quote on consciousness

Postby Buckwheat » Wed Mar 27, 2013 3:21 pm

In reference to defining consciousness, I intended to add the dictionary definition, but they are mostly not-informative, relying on our inuitive understanding of consciousness and not really strictly defining the phenomenon. So, Wikipedia it is:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Consciousness
Consciousness is the quality or state of being aware of an external object or something within oneself.[1][2] It has been defined as: subjectivity, awareness, sentience, the ability to experience or to feel, wakefulness, having a sense of selfhood, and the executive control system of the mind.[3] Despite the difficulty in definition, many philosophers believe that there is a broadly shared underlying intuition about what consciousness is.[4] As Max Velmans and Susan Schneider wrote in The Blackwell Companion to Consciousness: "Anything that we are aware of at a given moment forms part of our consciousness, making conscious experience at once the most familiar and most mysterious aspect of our lives."[5]


It continues...
Philosophers since the time of Descartes and Locke have struggled to comprehend the nature of consciousness and pin down its essential properties. Issues of concern in the philosophy of consciousness include whether the concept is fundamentally valid; whether consciousness can ever be explained mechanistically; whether non-human consciousness exists and if so how it can be recognized; how consciousness relates to language; whether consciousness can be understood in a way that does not require a dualistic distinction between mental and physical states or properties; and whether it may ever be possible for computers or robots to be conscious.

At one time consciousness was viewed with skepticism by many scientists, but in recent years it has become a significant topic of research in psychology and neuroscience. The primary focus is on understanding what it means biologically and psychologically for information to be present in consciousness—that is, on determining the neural and psychological correlates of consciousness. The majority of experimental studies assess consciousness by asking human subjects for a verbal report of their experiences (e.g., "tell me if you notice anything when I do this"). Issues of interest include phenomena such as subliminal perception, blindsight, denial of impairment, and altered states of consciousness produced by psychoactive drugs or spiritual or meditative techniques.


One line I find interesting is "determining the neural and psychological correlates of consciousness". I appreciate that this phrase does not confuse correlation with causation, which is so common in discussions of consciousness. I have heard reports that they are getting fairly well tuned into a specific part of the brain which is responsible for bringing together information from all other parts of the brain and conglomerating it into a singular experience. While the correlation with consciousness is high in that case, it still does nothing to prove causation of consciousness (that consciousness is one and the same with this part of the brain).

On the other hand, all of the processes in neurology are large enough (physical dimension) that they would come under classical physical and chemistry laws (not a lot of quantum mechanical "weirdness"). Therefore, anything that interacts with the brain would have to either be of a known physical nature (mass, charge, etc), or interact via a new, undiscovered force, unless we posit a brand new mechanism for violating the central tenet of science (and Buddhism): causes have effects, effects have causes.

I do not have a horse in this race: both possibilities seem equally ridiculous to me. How could consciousness be purely physical? How could it be anything but physical? Both are absurd conclusions based on the currently available data. Again, this is why it's called "the hard problem".
Sotthī hontu nirantaraṃ - May you forever be well.
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Re: This quote on consciousness

Postby LonesomeYogurt » Wed Mar 27, 2013 7:40 pm

Those interested in the Hard Problem of Consciousness and other issues this quote and discussion raise may be interested in Thomas Nagel's new book, Mind and Cosmos. I am reading it currently and it is very interesting.
Gain and loss, status and disgrace,
censure and praise, pleasure and pain:
these conditions among human beings are inconstant,
impermanent, subject to change.

Knowing this, the wise person, mindful,
ponders these changing conditions.
Desirable things don’t charm the mind,
undesirable ones bring no resistance.

His welcoming and rebelling are scattered,
gone to their end,
do not exist.
- Lokavipatti Sutta

Stuff I write about things.
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Re: This quote on consciousness

Postby convivium » Wed Mar 27, 2013 7:43 pm

Nagel's new book is awful. just my two cents from everyone in the berkeley dept. of philosophy i have heard discuss it and almost everyone else that's reviewed it. :coffee:
Just keep breathing in and out like this. Don't be interested in anything else. It doesn't matter even if someone is standing on their head with their ass in the air. Don't pay it any attention. Just stay with the in-breath and the out-breath. Concentrate your awareness on the breath. Just keep doing it. http://www.ajahnchah.org/book/Just_Do_It_1_2.php
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Re: This quote on consciousness

Postby m0rl0ck » Wed Mar 27, 2013 7:46 pm

convivium wrote:
Looking for consciousness in the brain is like selling ice cubes to eskimos

we'll find a neurological correlate for consciousness soon enough. just wait. :console:


I think you missed the point i was trying to make.
"When you meditate, don't send your mind outside. Don't fasten onto any knowledge at all. Whatever knowledge you've gained from books or teachers, don't bring it in to complicate things. Cut away all preoccupations, and then as you meditate let all your knowledge come from what's going on in the mind. When the mind is quiet, you'll know it for yourself. But you have to keep meditating a lot. When the time comes for things to develop, they'll develop on their own. Whatever you know, have it come from your own mind.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/thai ... eleft.html
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Re: This quote on consciousness

Postby convivium » Wed Mar 27, 2013 7:50 pm

which was?
Just keep breathing in and out like this. Don't be interested in anything else. It doesn't matter even if someone is standing on their head with their ass in the air. Don't pay it any attention. Just stay with the in-breath and the out-breath. Concentrate your awareness on the breath. Just keep doing it. http://www.ajahnchah.org/book/Just_Do_It_1_2.php
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