What is consciousness?

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What is consciousness?

Postby Captainmaharaj » Mon Dec 22, 2014 3:13 pm

Just wondering what does everyone think consciousness actually is, where does it originate and what is the relationship between the brain and consciousness.
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Re: What is consciousness?

Postby Jim Eshelman » Mon Dec 22, 2014 6:20 pm

The brain is one place consciousness passes through, an organ through which consciousness works.

Consciousness is the one fundamental substance of the universe, and therefore the directing, controlling, causative agent. The denser forms of consciousness are the states of matter.

So... I played first. What do you think?
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Re: What is consciousness?

Postby Captainmaharaj » Tue Dec 23, 2014 1:38 am

That's really interesting (not to mention cool). So basically matter is nothing but a denser form of mind. One more thing, what's your stance on machine consciousness and artificial intelligence?
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Re: What is consciousness?

Postby Jim Eshelman » Tue Dec 23, 2014 5:38 am

Captainmaharaj wrote:That's really interesting (not to mention cool). So basically matter is nothing but a denser form of mind. One more thing, what's your stance on machine consciousness and artificial intelligence?

Spinning off my earlier answer...

Different brains (or one person's brain in different conditions, or different states of development) have the capacity to sustain differing levels of consciousness. This is structural, chemical, etc. The evolution of the human race over a few million years has changed the brain structurally, and changed the brains biochemical operation, to allow for this.

Now, a machine, in theory, is much the same thing in theory. Eventually, there may be no difference (or little difference), though we are a long way from that point. Machines have gotten to be very good at processing information, but information is only a particular set of organizations of particular behaviors of consciousness. (Information scientists probably have ways of saying this that are much better thought through than my off-the-cuff sentence.) Information isn't consciousness - it's a particular behavior (dance?) of consciousness. And what flows through machines is probably still simply electricity, which is a pretty dense form of consciousness nearly approximating matter. Electricity flows through our brains as well, but not only electricity flows through them - the biological matrix is somehow able to be a centering place of awareness as well. (How? I don't have a clear guess.)
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Re: What is consciousness?

Postby Captainmaharaj » Tue Dec 23, 2014 1:20 pm

That made things really clear. Thanks Jim.
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What is consciousness?

Postby Hermitas » Thu Dec 25, 2014 7:24 pm

Two cents: I'm reading that Case book on Hermetic Alchemy.

Over and over, he affirms, you can discover it, more than get a sense of the concept, but actually perceive it: The First Matter.
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Re: What is consciousness?

Postby oldfriend56 » Sun Dec 28, 2014 10:38 am

Captainmaharaj wrote:Just wondering what does everyone think consciousness actually is, where does it originate and what is the relationship between the brain and consciousness.


This is such a great question - personally I believe the question is often more interesting than many of the answers. I've been fascinated by the discussions, and debate, around consciousness and who gets to define what consciousness is from a cultural perspective. The definition of consciousness actually is the 'final battle' of the paradigms. If 'consciousness' itself is to globally expand - then our institutionalized understanding of consciousness must also *change*. Who gets to define that is where the battle is now. Obviously, there are many different viewpoints - and here in the west, the *assumptions* of what consciousness actually is and how it is defined can actually influence very practical things in our lives such as health care, believe it or not.

Additionally, the *answer* to your question, from what ever POV it comes from, will change our understanding of the universe and even physics, just as much as our current assumptions of the universe and physics depend upon a brain that produces consciousness.

Jim's answer expresses the viewpoint of consciousness from the perennial perspective, which until the past 10 years, has not been considered an academic viewpoint - however that is changing. Panpsychism is now emerging as a mainstream academic idea and the materialistic models of consciousness as the brain are becoming increasingly less accepted for their explanatory power.

While I am personally in tune with Jim's answer, it still does not tell us what consciousness actually is, it just tells us what matter is. Consciousness itself may just be the ultimate mystery, it can never truly be 'known' in the sense that knowledge is known about matter. If this is true, thank god we have an eternity to explore it :)
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