PDS

What is Consciousness?

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William,

One or two quick observations :- by "via one's consciousness" I am most definitely not signifying

a fully conscious mind ... only. It seems self-evident that our senses and our brains are

relaying data every instant, 90+% of which we take no notice. Reviewing any and every emotion that

are the results of these, would be an impossible task.

Maybe this should have been cleared up already by definition, but my understanding of 'consciousness'

is of an active AND passive "faculty of awareness".

Switching focus, Rand's intent is clear, here as everywhere: she refused to meekly surrender to the premise that ANY existent is un-'knowable'. Objectifiable. In this, she over-reached at times, but you know how it is, if you

don't push those boundaries, you'll never know how far you can go. So for emotions, too.

Yes, I accept I made some sweeping assertions about emotions, and my experience of them.

That sort of situation in which a poster confronts me with assertions of his own (raising false

dichotomies, reason-emotion splits) tends to cause me to over-react slightly the other way.

(..emotionally.)

No excuses - basically, I stand by those statements. Where they are my own, I have honestly

observed the processes at work.

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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.

:smile:

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.

:smile:

And no rights for rats and snitches!

--Brant

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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.

:smile:

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.

:smile:

And no rights for rats and snitches!

--Brant

Fascist!

Ratty the Snitch

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

Where does it say that a dog has to have conscious knowledge of an *I* in order to get a treat? Isn't if far more likely that it acts that way because begging for treats is part of its biological survival program?

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

Where does it say that a dog has to have conscious knowledge of an *I* in order to get a treat? Isn't if far more likely that it acts that way because begging for treats is part of its biological survival program?

Thus you must mean for us too?

Consciousness is "I". The rest of the organism carries it around.

Different kinds of organisms mean different kinds of I. There's the cat I and the dog I. The cat seems more individualistic than even the human I--well, maybe maybe the better word is atomistic.

--Brant

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The best indicator for self-awareness in a dog would be him refusing the

treat in favor of his hungry dog-pal.

(In 50 years with dogs and cats, never seen it yet.)

Without "I", there can't exist the concept of "Other."

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The best indicator for self-awareness in a dog would be him refusing the

treat in favor of his hungry dog-pal.

(In 50 years with dogs and cats, never seen it yet.)

Without "I", there can't exist the concept of "Other."

How did we get altruism mixed into this discussion?

Oh, yes, the default of Objectivism. No altruism, no Objectiviism. Nope to philosophy and nope to political philosophy.

Get thee to a nunnery--Ayn Rand!--GO!

--Brant

dog: "Philosophy? I don't need no stinkin' philosophy!"

(my dog will let the cats eat first--sometimes)

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The best indicator for self-awareness in a dog would be him refusing the

treat in favor of his hungry dog-pal.

(In 50 years with dogs and cats, never seen it yet.)

Without "I", there can't exist the concept of "Other."

How did we get altruism mixed into this discussion?

Oh, yes, the default of Objectivism. No altruism, no Objectiviism. Nope to philosophy and nope to political philosophy.

Get thee to a nunnery--Ayn Rand!--GO!

--Brant

dog: "Philosophy? I don't need no stinkin' philosophy!"

(my dog will let the cats eat first--sometimes)

You missed the point.

No self-awareness, no other-awareness.

No egoism, no benevolence/humanity.

The "default of Objectivism" - altruism - was your reading of it, not mine.

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I get your point, but might you be mixing up self-awareness with self-contemplation, a far more specialized and derivative conceptual use of one's brain?

Did you see the video of the dog that wouldn't leave the side of it's road-killed companion--heavy traffic going by each way--in Chile?

There is a book out about heroic dogs.

The wolves in a pack cannot tell their place relative to the other wolves?

Yes, it was my "reading of it." I didn't say it was yours nor did I quote you. I signed what I wrote. I do see how I might have made that a little clearer and why you'd want to emphasize some differentiation.

--Brant

maybe I didn't get your point

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Ah, Brant:

We are in the same general vicinity, and that's enough sometimes.

(I get too quickly irritable at times when crucial ideas seem to be under

threat. And you - well, I include all my American colleagues here, have your

reasons for tension and irritability in this worrying period...)

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Most animals cannot identify themselves with their reflection, but this doesn't even mean they are not self-aware. Self-aware only means that you know you exist, that's all you need to be conscious. It doesn't mean you have to know yourself exactly as you are, or humans would fail the test too.

There are degrees of self-knowledge, but awareness is in the moment. Apparently German scientists found that plants and vegetables feel pain when being cut... What does that mean, that something unconscious can feel pain? Awareness. It feels it, but has no memory to retain it. Without memory awareness is basically nothing, because it's gone as soon as it happens.

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Then what differentiates man from animal from plant?

Only memory?

Plant - stimuli.

Animal - stimuli + percepts.

Man - stimuli + percepts + concepts. (+introspection.)

(Simply, but would you agree?)

Not only can we form concepts, we can review, over-see, direct

and apply them.

i.e. consciousness of consciousness : self-awareness.

(Unless you still think concept formation is "automatic".)

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Ah, Brant:

We are in the same general vicinity, and that's enough sometimes.

(I get too quickly irritable at times when crucial ideas seem to be under

threat. And you - well, I include all my American colleagues here, have your

reasons for tension and irritability in this worrying period...)

If I lived in South Africa I'd have a lot more to worry about.

It's true that right now my life is in a blender.

--Brant

snarl, snap, slice, dice!

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Then what differentiates man from animal from plant?

Only memory?

Plant - stimuli.

Animal - stimuli + percepts.

Man - stimuli + percepts + concepts. (+introspection.)

(Simply, but would you agree?)

Not only can we form concepts, we can review, over-see, direct

and apply them.

i.e. consciousness of consciousness : self-awareness.

(Unless you still think concept formation is "automatic".)

Memory is automatic. Memory is the difference between awareness and consciousness because it enables normative processes (good/bad more accurately = better/worse). Without memory there is no good or bad, because there's nothing to compare.

I don't think we have a different type of consciousness than animals, only that we have much more of the same.

Concepts and percepts are the same things, just involving different degrees of memory. A percept is the experience of a concept. Animals can form concepts but they don't often think in concepts (a lost dog may be able to remember the concept of "home" and find his way back); humans on the other hand often think in concepts isolated from reality.

The difference between our level of consciousness and animals' is that we can separate ourselves from reality to remember or to imagine, while animals, for the most part, don't do this.

To perceive a physical entity we must see it from more than one angle, and retain the memory of the unseen side--this happens automatically.

But I don't understand the question, how can we consciously decide to be conscious? We can exercise our consciousness to broaden our awareness, or we can train our brain's to more easily access isolated concepts (thought).

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Calvin, At times I think there are TWO Calvins... The one with great observations,

and of growing knowledge...and then, this one.

:)

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Ah, Brant:

We are in the same general vicinity, and that's enough sometimes.

(I get too quickly irritable at times when crucial ideas seem to be under

threat. And you - well, I include all my American colleagues here, have your

reasons for tension and irritability in this worrying period...)

If I lived in South Africa I'd have a lot more to worry about.

--Brant

Well - Some what-the-hell fatalism, some look-to-yourself self preservation, and it's bearable. Also, outside of a brief period in the post-apartheid 90's, there wasn't ever a high point for this nation. Less distance for us to fall than for you - much less. I expect we'll hit rock-bottom sometime soon.

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The discussion seems to be stalling.

Does this quote help answer the title question of this thread?

"Rand's most important commentary on philosophy of mind is very likely her praise for

Aristotle's basic view of consciousness in a review of Herman Randall's book Aristotle published

in The Objectivist Newsletter of May 1963 (Rand 1963, 18-9). Although Randall only briefly

touches upon Aristotle's views on life and mind in that book, he does clearly highlight Aristotle's

rejection of both the mysticism of dualism and the mechanism of materialism (Randall 1960, 59-

72). He summarizes Aristotle's conception of psyche (“power of living and knowing”) as “not

an additional 'thing' besides the living body, but the body's power to do what the living body

does, its function (ergon), its operation (energia), its culminating end (entelechia)” (Randall

1960, 64). Rand approvingly echoes these sentiments in her review:

For Aristotle, life is not an inexplicable, supernatural mystery, but a fact of nature. And consciousness is a

natural attribute of certain living entities, their natural power, their specific mode of action—not an

unaccountable element in a mechanistic universe, to be explained away somehow in terms of inanimate

matter, nor a mystic miracle incompatible with physical reality, to be attributed to some occult source in

another dimension. For Aristotle, “living” and “knowing” are facts of reality; man's mind is neither

unnatural nor supernatural, but natural—and this is the root of Aristotle's greatness, of the immeasurable

distance that separates him from other thinkers (Rand 1963, 19).

Such positive (albeit general) regard for Aristotle's view of consciousness is a common theme in

Objectivist commentaries on the mind, such as Peikoff’s Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn

Rand and Branden's Psychology of Self-Esteem (Peikoff 1991, 34; Branden 2001, 10)."

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Good input, PDS.

"For Aristotle, "living" and "knowing" are facts of reality;

man's mind...is natural."

And the rejection of duality and materialism.

As for the discussion "stalling" - I'm sorry you see it that way. No definitive answers (perhaps)

but it has raised pertinent thoughts.

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Good input, PDS.

"For Aristotle, "living" and "knowing" are facts of reality;

man's mind...is natural."

And the rejection of duality and materialism.

As for the discussion "stalling" - I'm sorry you see it that way. No definitive answers (perhaps)

but it has raised pertinent thoughts.

Oh, I didn't mean that kind of stalling. I simply meant that we didn't seem to have an answer yet.

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Calvin, At times I think there are TWO Calvins... The one with great observations,

and of growing knowledge...and then, this one.

:smile:

Which part sounds stupid to you, the assertion that memory is automatic or that percepts are concepts supported by experience?

When a dog sees one of his toys, he knows that it's the toy because he has a concept of it... however he does not think about the toy when the toy isn't around. Do you disagree?

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I don't think we have a different type of consciousness than animals, only that we have much more of the same.

Concepts and percepts are the same things, just involving different degrees of memory. A percept is the experience of a concept. Animals can form concepts but they don't often think in concepts (a lost dog may be able to remember the concept of "home" and find his way back); humans on the other hand often think in concepts isolated from reality.

The difference between our level of consciousness and animals' is that we can separate ourselves from reality to remember or to imagine, while animals, for the most part, don't do this.

Calvin: "Concepts and percepts are the same things, just involving different degrees of memory".

Not "stupid" (obviously), but apparently unknowing. With that statement you have dismissed the core of reason, and you must know how what reason means to O'ists.

"More of the same", is like the earth to the sun, apart.

That's the magnitude of scale between perceptual and conceptual faculties.

It seems to me a symptom of post-modernist skepticism to elevate the animal, and down-

grade man:

"Look how 'intelligent' is this ape or dog! See how a cheetah cares for her young!

We men are the intruders and despoilers - and anyway men have animal instincts, you know!"

(Duh!)

Anthropomorphism from innumerable and absorbing wild life programs - and such disconnected facts, like a bonobo sharing 98% of Man's brain - or whatever - have turned 'New Age' opinion towards the 'materialism' of consciousness which Aristotle rejected. "A little bit of [anti-conceptual]learning is a dangerous thing." - in this context.

Conversely,imo, the more that is discovered about the astonishing qualities of animal life, the higher it elevates man - and his astonishing qualities. The uncrossable gap remains.

Rand on conceptualization:

"But after learning to speak, a child can counterfeit this process, by memorization

and imitation. The anti-conceptual mentality stops on this level of development - on

the first levels of abstraction, which identify perceptual material consisting predominantly of physical objects - and does not choose to take the next, crucial, fully volitional step: the higher levels of abstraction from abstractions, which cannot be learned by imitation."

See where that leaves animal consciousness?

Except for the choice, the above goes for animals, too. Instinct, "memorization"

and imitation, are what an animal is limited to.

Concepts - by way of percepts, induction, logic and volitional integration, are what

reason is, in O'ism. Puzzlingly, when you've made those great observations I mentioned,

they have been exactly as a result of "abstraction from abstractions" - your conceptual

thinking - which you insist upon dowplaying as automatic. Why is this?

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I'm not downplaying man's consciousness, I just see how it's an extension from a similar point of where a dog's consciousness is. I can see how at 2-3 years old my brain worked similar to a dog's.

Abstractions are too percepts that have been remembered. Every concept starts with experience.

I don't like Rand's dialect when it comes to matters of consciousness; she was very ad hoc and used labels to avoid defining things.

I'm sure I said this, but definitely make choices. They don't play with people by instinct; that's part of them being a living, conscious being.

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I'm not downplaying man's consciousness, I just see how it's an extension from a similar point of where a dog's consciousness is. I can see how at 2-3 years old my brain worked similar to a dog's.

Abstractions are too percepts that have been remembered. Every concept starts with experience.

I don't like Rand's dialect when it comes to matters of consciousness; she was very ad hoc and used labels to avoid defining things.

I'm sure I said this, but definitely make choices. They don't play with people by instinct; that's part of them being a living, conscious being.

And after 2years, what happened? You took off like a rocket, and a dog stays where it is.

You should watch the 'dog whisperer' fellow, Cesar Millan, on dog behavior.

He is most expert in his field.

I have four dogs, and the pack mentality is very clear to me. They play-fight with

each other almost as with me - but I am their pack leader, with my gf next, in their perception -

then with the oldest male after us in the hierarchy. Playing is all part of instinctive preparation

for real fights (and I'm quite sure for some fun, to a lesser degree, too.)

As for AR's dialect and definition, you'll have to discuss that with her.

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