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What is Consciousness?

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Reductio ad absurdam. A noun is definition of the type of words which describe things, a thing cannot "be"be" its own descriptor. you are just saying that existence exists.

And I am afraid you are misapprehending the axioms of Objectivism.

It is an axiom of Objectivism that consciousness exists. " Existence is Identity, Consciousness is Identification."

All I am asking is: what is consciousness? I am not asking what it does. I am not asking whether it has been labeled correctly, although I do believe the discussion is advanced if we remember that it is a noun, rather than a verb.

If consciousness exits, it has an identity. What is that identity?

Seems like a pretty important question to me.

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The opportunities to be a splitter or a lumper** abound with the question, What Is Consciousness. I liked the opening post, with its link to Wikipedia's overview of Consciousness and its reference to Sutherland. Sutherland was tasked with defining consciousness for the International Dictionary of Psychology, in 1995.

He wrote (in part): "Consciousness: the having of perceptions, thoughts and feelings; awareness. The term is impossible to define except in terms that are unintelligible without a grasp of what consciousness means... Nothing worth reading has been written about it."

It's too bad he gave up. But we don't have to. Alerted to the softness of the term, we go forth. What is (the meaning of) Consciousness. Is it true that 'nothing worth reading' has been written in the 17 years since Sutherland threw in the towel?

Ayn Rand may be cited next, as has done PDS, telling us about actions of consciousness, bringing together consciousness as it pertains to meaningful sensations:

  • the action of his consciousness is perception
  • the action of his consciousness is evaluation
  • the action of his consciousness is emotion
  • the action of his consciousness is thought
  • the action of his consciousness is reminiscence

Sutherland matches Rand in these aspects:

  • perception/perceptions
  • thought/thoughts
  • emotion/feelings
  • evaluation/----------
  • reminiscence/----------
  • ---------/awareness

Examining these, can we regroup re-lump, extract the differences, rank? I think so. Although Rand has not explicitly mentioned awarenss, I suggest this is a sina qua non of Consciousness. The binary conscious/unconscious gives us a clue to the necessity of being conscious as opposed to being unconscious. In a being with 'consciousness' the ability to be responsive to the environment is the very beginning ...

  • Aware ('conscious')
  • Sensing (able to 'sense' - hearing, proprioception, sight, touch, taste, smell)
  • Perceptive (able to -- in the Randian sense -- form perceptions from sense data)
  • Feeling (able to feel in the sense of feelings, emotions, embodied 'value reckoning')
  • Evaluative/Cognitive (able to evaluation, analyze, integrate, plan, etc)
  • [Reminiscent]


To be unconscious is to be mostly unaware of and unresponsive to the necessities of reality.

Doctor: is she conscious?
Nurse: I don't know. She is not alert to her surroundings, but I think she is in there.
Doctor: has she shown brainwave response to physical stimulus?
Nurse: no.
Is she breathing on her own?
Nurse: yes
Doctor: do her pupils dilate when stimulated?
Nurse: yes.
Doctor: does she feel pain?
Nurse: not below the neck.
Doctor: has she shown brainwave response to her family's voices?
Nurse: yes.


-- I will only add these further notions to my preliminary ranking or hierarchy. Consider 'locked-in' syndrome, consider the kinds of brain and spinal injury where the very questions asked by the doctor cannot be answered without further inquiry. The worlds of neurology told by Oliver Sacks and Antonio Damasio show us odd outliers. Add comas, dissociative fugue, amnesias, focal deficits of the agnosias, phantom limb, 'missing morality' in psychopathic brain injury, and so on.

For me it is very difficult to get a grasp on 'What is (meant by) consciousness' without a lot of, conscious and deliberate thought. I will return to the next stage of my analysis by responding from within the heuristic outlined above. By thinking of defects of consciousness in the outlier and anomalous situations, consciousness impinged, consciousness imperfect, I can later introduce such notions as Executive Consciousness, the 'I', and a few other lumps and splits -- and answer the four intriguing questions raised by PDS†.

But first, an aspect of consciousness (threat assessment) that is augmented by neuroscience. Assistive computer tech for binoculars. It looks like a particular kind of consciousness has been enhanced by 'the machine.' Much more fascinating than my stab at the subject.


From Linking human brainwaves, improved sensors and cognitive algorithms to improve target detection


CT2WS built on the concept that humans are inherently adept at detecting the unusual. Even though a person may not be consciously aware of movement or of unexpected appearance, the brain detects it and triggers the P-300 brainwave, a brain signal that is thought to be involved in stimulus evaluation or categorization. By improving the sensors that capture imagery and filtering results, a human user who is wearing an EEG cap can then rapidly view the filtered image set and let the brain's natural threat-detection ability work. Users are shown approximately ten images per second, on average. Despite that quick sequence, brain signals indicate to the computer which images were significant. The use of EEG-based human filtering significantly reduces the amount of false alarms.


The cognitive algorithms can also highlight many events that would otherwise be considered irrelevant but are actually indications of threats or targets, such as a bird flying by or a branch's swaying. In testing of the full CT2WS kit, absent radar, the sensor and cognitive algorithms returned 810 false alarms per hour. When a human wearing the EEG cap was introduced, the number of false alarms dropped to only five per hour, out of a total of 2,304 target events per hour, and a 91 percent successful target recognition rate.

____________________________________________________

** Lumping and splitting refers to a well-known problem in any discipline which has to place individual examples into rigorously defined categories. The lumper/splitter problem occurs when there is the need to create classifications and assign examples to them, for example schools of literature, biological taxa and so on. A "lumper" is an individual who takes a gestalt view of a definition, and assigns examples broadly, assuming that differences are not as important as signature similarities. A "splitter" is an individual who takes precise definitions, and creates new categories to classify samples that differ in key ways.

1. How is that which we think of as "consciousness" seperate from that which we think of as "self"?


2. Is the full breadth of our thinking the full breadth of our self, and thus our consciousness?


3. If our thoughts are objects which can be "observed" (e.g., "why is my mind racing so much today?"), what do we call that which does the observing?


4. Rand has said that consciousness is identification--what then is the identity of consciousness?

Edited by william.scherk

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Folks:

Does being conscious have to incorporate self awareness?

Is a dog conscious?

This subject fascinates me, however I feel that I do not know enough about it, at this point, except to ask questions.

Adam

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The opportunities to be a splitter or a lumper** abound with the question, What Is Consciousness. I liked the opening post, with its link to Wikipedia's overview of Consciousness and its reference to Sutherland. Sutherland was tasked with defining consciousness for the International Dictionary of Psychology, in 1995.

He wrote (in part): "Consciousness: the having of perceptions, thoughts and feelings; awareness. The term is impossible to define except in terms that are unintelligible without a grasp of what consciousness means... Nothing worth reading has been written about it."

It's too bad he gave up. But we don't have to. Alerted to the softness of the term, we go forth. What is (the meaning of) Consciousness. Is it true that 'nothing worth reading' has been written in the 17 years since Sutherland threw in the towel?

Ayn Rand may be cited next, as has done PDS, telling us about actions of consciousness, bringing together consciousness as it pertains to meaningful sensations:

  • the action of his consciousness is perception
  • the action of his consciousness is evaluation
  • the action of his consciousness is emotion
  • the action of his consciousness is thought
  • the action of his consciousness is reminiscence

Sutherland matches Rand in these aspects:

  • perception/perceptions
  • thought/thoughts
  • emotion/feelings
  • evaluation/----------
  • reminiscence/----------
  • ---------/awareness

Examining these, can we regroup re-lump, extract the differences, rank? I think so. Although Rand has not explicitly mentioned awarenss, I suggest this is a sina qua non of Consciousness. The binary conscious/unconscious gives us a clue to the necessity of being conscious as opposed to being unconscious. In a being with 'consciousness' the ability to be responsive to the environment is the very beginning ...

  1. Aware ('conscious')
  2. Sensing (able to 'sense' - hearing, proprioception, sight, touch, taste, smell)
  3. Perceptive (able to -- in the Randian sense -- form perceptions from sense data)
  4. Feeling (able to feel in the sense of feelings, emotions, embodied 'value reckoning')
  5. Evaluative/Cognitive (able to evaluation, analyze, integrate, plan, etc)
  6. [Reminiscent]

To be unconscious is to be mostly unaware of and unresponsive to the necessities of reality.

Doctor: is she conscious?

Nurse: I don't know. She is not alert to her surroundings, but I think she is in there.

Doctor: has she shown brainwave response to physical stimulus?

Nurse: no.

Is she breathing on her own?

Nurse: yes

Doctor: do her pupils dilate when stimulated?

Nurse: yes.

Doctor: does she feel pain?

Nurse: not below the neck.

Doctor: has she shown brainwave response to her family's voices?

Nurse: yes.

-- I will only add these further notions to my preliminary ranking or hierarchy. Consider 'locked-in' syndrome, consider the kinds of brain and spinal injury where the very questions asked by the doctor cannot be answered without further inquiry. The worlds of neurology told by Oliver Sacks and Antonio Damasio show us odd outliers. Add comas, dissociative fugue, amnesias, focal deficits of the agnosias, phantom limb, 'missing morality' in psychopathic brain injury, and so on.

For me it is very difficult to get a grasp on 'What is (meant by) consciousness' without a lot of, conscious and deliberate thought. I will return to the next stage of my analysis by responding from within the heuristic outlined above. By thinking of defects of consciousness in the outlier and anomalous situations, consciousness impinged, consciousness imperfect, I can later introduce such notions as Executive Consciousness, the 'I', and a few other lumps and splits.

But first, an aspect of consciousness (threat assessment) that is augmented by neuroscience. Assistive computer tech for binoculars. It looks like a particular kind of consciousness has been enhanced by 'the machine.' Much more fascinating than my stab at the subject.

From Linking human brainwaves, improved sensors and cognitive algorithms to improve target detection

CT2WS built on the concept that humans are inherently adept at detecting the unusual. Even though a person may not be consciously aware of movement or of unexpected appearance, the brain detects it and triggers the P-300 brainwave, a brain signal that is thought to be involved in stimulus evaluation or categorization. By improving the sensors that capture imagery and filtering results, a human user who is wearing an EEG cap can then rapidly view the filtered image set and let the brain's natural threat-detection ability work. Users are shown approximately ten images per second, on average. Despite that quick sequence, brain signals indicate to the computer which images were significant. The use of EEG-based human filtering significantly reduces the amount of false alarms.

The cognitive algorithms can also highlight many events that would otherwise be considered irrelevant but are actually indications of threats or targets, such as a bird flying by or a branch's swaying. In testing of the full CT2WS kit, absent radar, the sensor and cognitive algorithms returned 810 false alarms per hour. When a human wearing the EEG cap was introduced, the number of false alarms dropped to only five per hour, out of a total of 2,304 target events per hour, and a 91 percent successful target recognition rate.

____________________________________________________

** Lumping and splitting refers to a well-known problem in any discipline which has to place individual examples into rigorously defined categories. The lumper/splitter problem occurs when there is the need to create classifications and assign examples to them, for example schools of literature, biological taxa and so on. A "lumper" is an individual who takes a gestalt view of a definition, and assigns examples broadly, assuming that differences are not as important as signature similarities. A "splitter" is an individual who takes precise definitions, and creates new categories to classify samples that differ in key ways.

WSS: thank you so much.

Your thoughts are exactly what I am driving at, and I hope it goes without saying that I do not claim to have the answer to the question(s) I am asking. I have what I will confess to as a nagging thought that "consciousness" cannot actually be defined, even though, according to Objectivism, it is an existent, i.e., it exists. If this is true, I confess to another nagging suspicion that this is problematic for Objectivism. But I have not worked this out at all, which is why I started this thread.

I will also confess to a fondness for the Eastern worldview that seems to always surprise my friends and acquaintences, especially when they learn of my affinity for Rand. Broadly speaking, in the Eastern/unitive worldview, this question seems to be of paramount importance, and, from what I can tell, the answer is that behind the curtains of our thoughts (both random and deliberate) is a unitive consciousness.

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Reductio ad absurdam. A noun is definition of the type of words which describe things, a thing cannot "be"be" its own descriptor. you are just saying that existence exists.

And I am afraid you are misapprehending the axioms of Objectivism.

It is an axiom of Objectivism that consciousness exists. " Existence is Identity, Consciousness is Identification."

All I am asking is: what is consciousness? I am not asking what it does. I am not asking whether it has been labeled correctly, although I do believe the discussion is advanced if we remember that it is a noun, rather than a verb.

If consciousness exits, it has an identity. What is that identity?

Seems like a pretty important question to me.

It seems to be a linguistics question also.

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Consciousness, to me, is the self aware vehicle by which an individual understands who he is, what he is, and what his relationship is to the world around him. In essence, it is self awareness.

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A side-note on Damasio and Sacks. Those who have followed my earlier recommendations on neurology by dipping into the output of these two gents will understand the attention to anomalies that provide insight, defects that give insight to the state of health.

Damasio seeks an explanation of the elements of a conscious human. He investigates edge conditions, 'locked-in' folks, or those in the varied states of full paralysis. One women he worked with emerged from a very long 'lock in' and was able to return to full language expression, and give us the result of her introspection -- a report of her 'conscious' experiences. This was a woman who could not even twitch an eyelid, but slept and waked and observed from within.

Imagine! Did she feel dread, fear, depression, hopelessness? Was her consciousness of the horror of the situation? Could she feel the range of emotions one would expect of a conscious organism?

Surprisingly, no!

These quotes are from The Feeling of What Happens, one of Damasio's four great works on consciousness. PDS, if interested, I can direct you to a short summary of Dr D's findings and grand hypotheses.

“The solace we can take as we confront the sad reality of locked-in patients is that the profound defect of motor control reduces their emotional reactivity and seems to produce some welcome inward calm.”

“A remarkable aspect of this tragic condition and one that has been neglected to date is that although patients are plunged, fully conscious, from a state of human freedom to one of nearly complete mechanical imprisonment, they do not experience the anguish and turmoil that their horrifying situation would lead observers to expect. They have a considerable range of feelings, from sadness to, yes, joy. And yet, from accounts now published in book form, the patients may even experience a strange tranquility that is new to their lives. They are fully aware of the tragedy of their situation, and they can report an intellectual sense of sadness or frustration with their virtual imprisonment. But they do not report the terror that one imagines would arise in their horrible circumstances. They do not seem to have anything like the acute fear experience by so many perfectly healthy and mobile individuals inside a magnetic resonance scanner, not to mention a crowded elevator.”

“Under the circumstances, any mental process which would normally induce an emotion fails to do so through the “body loop” mechanism we have discussed. The brain is deprived of the body as a theater for emotional realization. Nonetheless, the brain can still activate emotion-induction sites in the basal forebrain, hypothalamus, and brain stem, and generate some of the internal brain changes on which feelings depend. Moreover, since most signaling systems from body to brain are free and clear, the brain can get direct neural and chemical signaling from organism profiles that fit background emotions. Those profiles are related to basic regulatory aspects of the internal milieu and are largely uncoupled from the patient’s mental state because of brain-stem damage (only the bloodstream chemical routes remain open both ways.”

“I suspect that some of the internal-milieu states are perceived as calm and harmonious. Support for this idea comes from the fact that when these patients have a condition which ought to produce pain or discomfort, they can still register the presence of that condition. For instance, they feel stiff and cramped when they are not moved by others for a long time. Curiously, the suffering that usually follows pain seems to be blunted, perhaps because suffering is caused by emotion, and emotion can no longer be produced in the body theater: it is restricted to “as if body” mechanisms.”

I am presently struggling through Harry Binswanger's elucidation of the problem of consciousness. I may not be back for weeks.

Edited by william.scherk

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In essence, it is self awareness.

To be aware, we must be aware of something. To be self-aware, we must first be aware.

Consciousness is self-awareness, I agree. Maybe self-awareness is what needs to be defined...

How can a thing (and what is the thing?) be self-aware? First it must be aware, and then it must be aware that it is aware.

Awareness of awareness begins with memory and our normative processes. When we remember that a blanket is soft, we also remember what soft means to us. Softness cannot exist in our mind without a recollection of the experience, and the experience comes with the normative evaluation of whether or not we like softness.

When we become aware of entities, by development of our memories, we also become aware of a correlative emotional judgment attached to entities. I'd argue that it is by attaching a normative evaluation to an entity that we initiate the faculty of memory. The first, "I like this," or, "I don't like this," that we think is what makes us conscious, and is what gives birth to the "I". Not just feeling pleasure or displeasure, which can be mere awareness, but of deliberately noticing or acknowledging a sensation, logging it away for future reference.

That's my theory, anyway.

Would you have asked, "What is awareness?" or is that self-explanatory?

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Actually, the first thing that memory allows us to do is compare sensations.

There is no good without bad, so it is when we develop the faculty of memory we also gain the sense of better and worse.

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So, have we been able to reach consensus on whether consciousness is a think/noun or an action/verb?

If so, have we reached any consensus on how it is we know this?

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I will vote for the verb as I have been denied access to the duality of a gerund. But I don't know how I know it,I can't see a process as a thing or object. Maybe I should learn some physics.

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I don't have a citation on hand, but I believe Rand refered to conciousness in "Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology" as "awareness of existence." In this case, all animals are concious, though not at the same level of integration. Humans are "conceptually concious" whereas all other animals are "perceptually concious." Plants and other living entities are not concious.

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I don't have a citation on hand, but I believe Rand refered to conciousness in "Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology" as "awareness of existence." In this case, all animals are concious, though not at the same level of integration. Humans are "conceptually concious" whereas all other animals are "perceptually concious." Plants and other living entities are not concious.

True. And man's consciousness is further distinguished by self-awareness.

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I don't have a citation on hand, but I believe Rand refered to conciousness in "Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology" as "awareness of existence." In this case, all animals are concious, though not at the same level of integration. Humans are "conceptually concious" whereas all other animals are "perceptually concious." Plants and other living entities are not concious.

True. And man's consciousness is further distinguished by self-awareness.

Animals are self-aware. They know they exist, or else a dog couldn't know, "When *I* sit, I get a treat."

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I don't have a citation on hand, but I believe Rand refered to conciousness in "Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology" as "awareness of existence." In this case, all animals are concious, though not at the same level of integration. Humans are "conceptually concious" whereas all other animals are "perceptually concious." Plants and other living entities are not concious.

True. And man's consciousness is further distinguished by self-awareness.

Animals are self-aware. They know they exist, or else a dog couldn't know, "When *I* sit, I get a treat."

Rubbish.

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They don't know they exist, you're saying?

Keep in mind they often compare the intelligence of animals to human children... A dog is between a 2-3 year old kid, just as an example.

When do you think a human realizes they exist? Rather, when does a human being become conscious? When does it start making choices (you can't make choices without being aware of your own existence)?

A kid couldn't deliberately push the bowl of mush off its little table thing without knowing he/she had arms...

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I am not sure of the scientific basis of animal self-awareness, but I think it may be possible for them to be self-aware at a perceptual rather than conceptual level. For instance, a human can concieve of himself conceptually as a being who exists in a certain place, a certain time, within a family, within a country, as a member of a political party, etc. Meanwhile, some intelligent animals may just recognize their body perceptually as a component of their concious, as in an extension of their actions. For instance, when a monkey wants to climb a tree it recognizes that it controls the arm which grabs the tree branch.

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I think it may be possible for them to be self-aware at a perceptual rather than conceptual level.

This is what I meant. Awareness is not limited to concepts, so if Tony concedes your point, he is agreeing with me.

I agree with Rand that humans are likely the only species with the capacity to think in concepts, but self-awareness, and consciousness, are not exclusively human possessions.

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I think it may be possible for them to be self-aware at a perceptual rather than conceptual level.

This is what I meant. Awareness is not limited to concepts, so if Tony concedes your point, he is agreeing with me.

I agree with Rand that humans are likely the only species with the capacity to think in concepts, but self-awareness, and consciousness, are not exclusively human possessions.

The faculty of awareness is of course common to all higher organisms, but not self-awareness.

Don't you see the distiction is everything? First off, to imbue every living thing with self-

awareness, is to undercut self-awareness. So making the concept meaningless. SELF-awareness is

all we have over other animals - so it's everything we have. (Plus shared sensations and percepts,

i.e.,common 'automatic' consciousness.)

A dog feels pain, reacts to avoid the pain, and will 'learn' to avoid that particular source of pain

in future; if he gets hit by a bicycle, he may always fear all bicycles - but won't fear speeding cars, necessarily. Which would take conceptualization.

The dog's consciousness is - 'PAIN!'

Not - "I am in pain". Which takes self-consciousness, the concept of Self.

"Man's sense organs function automatically; man's brain integrates his sense data into percepts

automatically; but the process of integrating percepts into concepts - the process of abstraction

and of concept-formation - is not automatic."[AR]

Self-awareness is also not automatic, but requires the volitional, concerted effort of concept-building

and -holding, as well as introspection, and is a consequence of those, I think.

How can there exist knowledge without an "I" who knows it?

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Tony, there's a distinction between having no self-awareness, having perceptual self-awareness, and having conceptual self-awareness (which isn't really awareness at all, but an accumulation of remembered perceptual aspects of self and inferences). Conceptual self-awareness allows one to plan, perceptual self-awareness allows one to act with volition.

"PAIN!" is awareness, not consciousness. If that was truly the limit of animals' experience they could not do the sorts of things they can... Animals can make choices, they just do so with very little information.

Conceptualization is what we have over other animals, which you said, but you also said that "self-awareness is all we have over other animals," and that is a completely different claim because those two things exist at different levels of consciousness.

And the fact that a dog can remember who its owner is shows that animals can even conceptualize (identification) to a degree.

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It's a package deal:- volitional conceptualization, consciousness, and self-consciousness - which make up the human condition. All inseparable, while the concept of "I" depends equally on all three, I think.

"Consciousness is the faculty of awareness."[AR]

So they are synonomous.

You're still minimizing man's self-awareness (self-consciousness); while also elevating an animal's perceptual capacity, up to a conceptual one: the "I" concept. The gap between animal

and man becomes minute or immaterial, if framed this way - when it is self-evidently a chasm.

"Bicycle"(pain) "master, attention, food"(pleasure) and so on, are percepts he integrates from his sensory data. (e.g. A bell rings and he salivates, expecting food, as with Pavlov's experiment.) He has no choice, no volition in the matter. This indicates the absence of self-concept.

If an animal in the wild can "identify" her offspring, are you really claiming this is a result of her "conceptualization"?! Surely not. The same with dog and owner, not so?

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I plug this in here, though answering Tony from the other thread on Diana and the Wall of Hypocrisy.

Emotions?

Every emotion, and everything in one's sub-conscious, came via one's consciousness.

I do not fully understand this. Set aside the term 'sub-conscious' and what does this mean -- every emotion came via one's consciousness?

If this means that one does not emote when one sleeps, I would disagree**. If it means more or less that an impression of some kind (signal 'incoming' to an emotional centre in the brain) had to have been made on a conscious organism before it could feel emotion, I could partially agree, since I can easily sketch out a situation for the six senses, each one illustrated by a conscious organism having an emotion triggered by something external, or something that impinged upon the brain's awareness.

But to say that one was conscious of something, an event or action that impinged and engendered emotion -- does this necessarily imply 'consciousness' in the fully extended gerund in play? It does not imply a fully human consciousness if one can say that a dog or other animal can be triggered into fear. Any manner of mammals exhibit fear, anger ... and can recognize it in a conspecific.

So, I can agree with the statement that every emotion came via one's consciousness without accepting a human-only example. I set aside "one's sub-conscious" because I do not know what Tony means exactly. Unconscious brain activity obviously undergirds the conscious stream of thought and perception, but I do not reify this underground to a separate actor. I do not believe in The Unconscious as a personality, so to speak, in any way separable from the brain and personality of the individual.

More to the point, if I agree that emotions are felt consciously, and rooted in consciousness, what can I make with that statement? What does it imply as knock-on effects in the world and in the mind?

Emotion is one of those 'things' that I do not think Rand worked on sufficiently, did not explore and write enough about. I am unsatisfied with the stock Objectivish notions about emotion.† I agree with the broad strokes of Rand that agree with the findings of cognitive neuroscience, and part with her where her statements are contradicted in fact. Further elaborations of her verbalisms tend to confuse me, as I do not grasp the referents sometimes.

For example, think of what conceptual depth is in these three words: cognition, tool, emotion.

What do I need to know about cognition, about tools, about emotions, before I can confidently assemble the three into always/ever statements of broad (if not universal) applicability?

I am an Objectivist - one who knows a lot [ . . . ] about emotions, and respects them as valuable tools - ultimately, as allies and friends.

This is so encouraging. I think of someone without emotion, or with particular emotional deficits. I cited Damasio before, Tony, hoping my readers in this thread had read him or of him.

What makes his work interesting is he put the question of the OT at the front of his work as a neurologist. He sought out (like Sacks) the folks with deficits -- in consciousness and in emotion.

Objectivists well know emotions can be integrated. But also they know that emotions

aren't tools of cognition - or guides to action. [ . . . ] They are the RESULTS of cognition; the consequences of actions.

Here the evidence from Damasio is unequivocal, and contradicts Rand's dicta. Without emotion, how can one make decisions? Without that evaluator automatically operating, giving physical reactions to the data, how can one make fully informed choices?

In several striking cases, Damasio has featured the severe cognitive effects of having emotions 'removed.' Tony, can you imagine how crippled cognition might be without the input of emotion, in terms of analysis and judgement? Can you imagine a morality without emotion?

I really think there is no more emotional animal than humankind. Hands down. The sketchiness of Objectivish thought on emotion is disappointing sometimes. What we know about emotion from Objectivism, in other words, is not enough to understand emotion in its fullest, and to more fully understand how deeply implicated emotion is in so much of what we call 'cognition.' The more we understand from the sciences about the peculiarities of our faculties, the more we can rationally deal with them.

Knock out the ability to feel emotion, and the human becomes incapable of decision-making. A part of the machinery of the human that is absolutely necessary for rational cognition, emotion.

________________

** of course, one is conscious to a greater or lesser degree during one's dreams and nightmares. The impingement on consciousness that engenders emotion in the dream world is almost always from the stream of consciousness, it could be argued.

† Love love love where Boydstun and Marsha Familiaro Enwright get to on emotion. Dissenting with Rand on this issue is not apostasy. What I like is that Rand understood emotion as an evaluative faculty, and stressed that humans can engineer and supervise their own emotions, if not their moods. She also deftly sketched the actors, the organism/evaluator, and the executive, the Ego, and the impingements. Her sketch of an emotion under the executive management of the self is revealing of what she aspired to as a rational human being. I can only stand with this kind of aspiration. It is what I wish for myself and all human beings.

Edited by william.scherk

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If an animal can engage in emotional blackmail (just ask any dog owner), it has to have some level of self-awareness.

:)

Michael

Damn right, Michael: I have known dogs (or they have known me) - each one is an individual,if encouraged to be - but still, after all a dog. If there's ever a case for animal rights, though, it's for those of the species who gained self-hood and character by their complete admission into human lives (not those poor, spoiled dogs stunted

by their owners' neuroses) without being denied their inalienable doggism.

Of giraffes and meerkats, however, no. No higher concepts there - or more to the point, self-awareness.

:)

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