Author Topic: Consciousness and thoughts  (Read 11261 times)

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January 27, 2016, 08:17:33 AM
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Lakshmi

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I tried to delete this topic, as I realised my previous thoughts were not clear at all!

But I don't seem to be able to delete, so I will try to re-phrase:

Where do you think thoughts come from? Do they originate within your brain, based on your experiences (ie like the outputs of a biocomputer program)? Or do you think they originate outside the brain (ie, the brain as receiver model)? Or somewhere between the two?

I am genuinely interested in your thoughts - there seem to be a lot of interesting and knowledgeable people on this forum! :)
« Last Edit: January 27, 2016, 12:03:15 PM by Lakshmi »

January 27, 2016, 04:00:56 PM
Reply #1

Steve

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Thoughts come from the brain. As a bunch of brain activity happens in whatever patterns, thoughts occur. Stop the brain activity, thoughts cease. Stop thinking, brain activity continues but in an altered manner (as shown by MRIs and whatnot).

However, for me, the real challenge is trying to understand where/what the little "television or computer monitor" inside your head is at, such that you can visually imagine objects and whatnot ;)

Second to that, I do think there's a "Mind" which is somewhat distinguishable from the brain, in much the same way that an magnetic field is distinguishable from the magnet that produces it. But then there's the questions of what exactly the mind is, and how it works as different from the brain, and where the brain and mind connect and overlap, and whatnot.

~Steve
Mastery does not occur when you've performed a feat once or twice. Instead, it comes after years of training, when you realize that you no longer notice when you're performing a feat which used to require so much effort. Even walking takes years of training for a human: why not everything else?

January 28, 2016, 11:23:44 PM
Reply #2

Mind_Bender

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Thoughts definitely come from the brain - neurons flying around your bio-computer - and are translated by the mind (whatever that really is), but thoughts of others (be they terrestrial or extra-dimensional) can enter your consciousness from an external source.
"Spirit is in a state of grace forever.
Your reality is only spirit.
Therefore you are in a state of grace forever."

"As relfections of the Source, we are little gods."

"...part of me doesn't want to believe that auto-eroticism while crushing on a doodle (sigil) could manifest a check in the mail box, but hey, it did."

"Everybody laughs the same language."

January 29, 2016, 03:21:54 AM
Reply #3

Lakshmi

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Okay, so you think some thoughts are internally generated by the brain as biocomputer, and some received from external sources?

What is the Mind then, and where does it come from, and how does it fit in with thoughts as perceived or generated by the brain?

January 29, 2016, 08:37:18 AM
Reply #4

Lakshmi

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One of the reasons I ask is that I notice three different kinds of thoughts (at least)

1 is the kind that definitely seems to come from my brain - the sort of problem-solving, goal-oriented, internal-dialogue kind of thought

2 is the observational mode, as in certain meditation practices - ie you are observing something which may well be something external to yourself (any judgements arising from this observation would be closer to a type 1 thought, in my view)

3 are the thoughts that give every appearance of springing up from nowhere, and can often turn out to have a coincidental or even (if you will) prophetic nature to them.

As an example of 3 - I had a dream about a friend the night before last. I met her for dinner last night. Now, you might think that I had the dream, in anticipation of seeing my friend. But in the dream, I was overhearing a conversation she had with her doctor. And last night I told her about it, and it turned out she had had that exact discussion with her doctor. I didn't even know she was going to see her doctor.

so, where did that last thought / dream come from? Did my brain generate something that just happened to mirror something that was happening in someone else's brain? And if so, how does that happen? Surely there has to be some external source, that created that image / thought in my brain?
« Last Edit: January 29, 2016, 09:11:17 AM by Lakshmi »

February 22, 2016, 01:06:21 PM
Reply #5

ActionOfAll

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Thoughts come from the brain. As a bunch of brain activity happens in whatever patterns, thoughts occur. Stop the brain activity, thoughts cease. Stop thinking, brain activity continues but in an altered manner (as shown by MRIs and whatnot).

However, for me, the real challenge is trying to understand where/what the little "television or computer monitor" inside your head is at, such that you can visually imagine objects and whatnot ;)

Second to that, I do think there's a "Mind" which is somewhat distinguishable from the brain, in much the same way that an magnetic field is distinguishable from the magnet that produces it. But then there's the questions of what exactly the mind is, and how it works as different from the brain, and where the brain and mind connect and overlap, and whatnot.

~Steve

Thoughts definitely come from the brain - neurons flying around your bio-computer - and are translated by the mind (whatever that really is), but thoughts of others (be they terrestrial or extra-dimensional) can enter your consciousness from an external source.

The notion that thoughts come from the brain is not definite or factual, as you two make it out to be. To say thoughts come from the brain is to suppose a causal link, yet then you cite mere correlational evidence. Furthermore, examine it in this way: What is a thought? Let's define it as non-physical experience. By non-physical I mean that which does not phenomenologically possess all the characteristics of physicality. Those characteristics being "extension, cohesion, caloricity, and vibration" (Moore, 1968). The brain, as a physical object, must possess these four characteristics. Thoughts, being nonphysical, do not possess these characteristics. Therefore, to assert that thoughts "definitely" arise from the brain is to assert that something defined by these characteristics produces something devoid of these characteristics.

When I say that the brain possesses these characteristics, I don't mean that there is some fundamental object which "possesses" these characteristics. Rather, the specific way in which these characteristics are realized IS the brain. The brain is not something beyond these characteristics which simply possesses them. The brain is a specific amalgamation and interaction of them. To propose that the brain is the cause of thoughts, then, is to use correlational evidence to attempt to substantiate an argument for nothing short of a miracle; a logical leap.

Moreover, thoughts are characteristically subjective. To suppose that thoughts come from somewhere before we experience them is to suppose that thoughts are at one point non-subjective; unexperienced. By definition, a thought must be experienced. So you are essentially supposing unexperienced experience - an oxymoron.

Immanuel Kant (you're probably familiar with the name) is a philosopher who revolutionized western metaphysics. He argued that causality is a way of perceiving things (in conjunction with linear time). It is a function of the "intellect" which is the word he uses to describe the perceptual organizing factor; that which creates perception. It is not a mere passive receiver of information, but an active creator. Thus, the intellect itself, as the creator of causality, is outside the causal system. In other words, the intellect produces causality but is not itself subject to the same laws, in the same way that one can build a machine that is constrained by certain rules but is not themselves constrained by the rules of their invention. As such, the mind is a creative center not subject to causality, though it creates perception, and causality is one of the constraints that consists of the perception it creates. This is my interpretation of Will Durant's chapter on Kant in his The Story of Philosophy. (Durant, 1961).

Work Cited

Durant, W. (1961). The story of philosophy: The lives and opinions of the great philosophers of the western world. New York: Simon and Schuster.

Moore, Charles A. (Ed.). (1967). The Indian Mind: Essentials of Indian Philosophy and Culture.University of Hawaii, Honolulu: East-West Center Press.

February 22, 2016, 04:39:37 PM
Reply #6

Mind_Bender

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"The brain is the primary mover and shaper of the mind."

"The mind and brain interact with each other so profoundly that they're best understood as a single, co-dependent, mind/brain system."

Just to show how powerful the brain itself is:

The number of possible combinations of 100 billion neurons firing or not is approximately 10 to the millionth power, or 1 followed by a million zeros, in principle; this is the number of possible states of your brain. To put this quantity in perspective, the number of atoms in the universe is estimated to be 'only' about 10 to the eightieth power."

Buddha's Brain - Rick Hanson, PH.D. with Richard Mendius, MD

"...there are units of knowledge that make up the components that work together to process information and create thought. There are three basic units of knowledge: concepts, prototypes, and schemata."

"Concepts are building blocks, so your brain uses them to build. Concepts are put together to create propositions, which are units of meaning expressing a single idea. Come up with a sentence, any sentence. This is a proposition. Propositions that are related are linked and create a network of knowledge and information that makes up a schema. A schema is basically a mental model of what you expect from a particular encounter. These schemata rare built using your experience and concepts and allow you to have certain expectations when you encounter ideas, beliefs, situations, or people in your environment. You can create schemata about anything from a jog in the part to a particular religion to a race of people."

Essentials of Psychology -  Pgs. 101-102, Kendra Cherry

As you can see the brain is quite powerful and an enigma in itself, so it is highly likely, almost beyond a reasonable doubt, that our thoughts, that only we can see within our own subjective perception, arise from the brain.
"Spirit is in a state of grace forever.
Your reality is only spirit.
Therefore you are in a state of grace forever."

"As relfections of the Source, we are little gods."

"...part of me doesn't want to believe that auto-eroticism while crushing on a doodle (sigil) could manifest a check in the mail box, but hey, it did."

"Everybody laughs the same language."

February 22, 2016, 06:34:17 PM
Reply #7

ActionOfAll

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Quoting numerous people who make a claim does not make the claim any more powerful. The fact that the brain is itself an enigma does not lend credence to the proposition that thoughts create the brain. All I see is an appeal to numbers fallacy and an unsound argument.

As you can see the brain is quite powerful and an enigma in itself, so it is highly likely, almost beyond a reasonable doubt, that our thoughts, that only we can see within our own subjective perception, arise from the brain.

The fact that the brain is an enigma in itself does not in any way suggest that our thoughts arise from the brain. The conclusion that it is likely that that thoughts arise from the brain does not follow from the premise that the brain is powerful and an enigma. This is an unsound argument.

February 22, 2016, 10:49:23 PM
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Mind_Bender

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What is sound is neurologists having an exact premise for why and how thoughts are created. Take out the enigma, the brain having the processing power that it does lends to reason thoughts arise from the brain. These are from studies done on the brain itself not from people thinking about where thoughts come from. That, my friend, is illogical.
"Spirit is in a state of grace forever.
Your reality is only spirit.
Therefore you are in a state of grace forever."

"As relfections of the Source, we are little gods."

"...part of me doesn't want to believe that auto-eroticism while crushing on a doodle (sigil) could manifest a check in the mail box, but hey, it did."

"Everybody laughs the same language."

February 23, 2016, 04:43:36 AM
Reply #9

ActionOfAll

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Incorrect usage of the term "sound". Also, in that same sentence, you're committing an appeal to authority (another fallacy).

What is sound is neurologists having an exact premise for why and how thoughts are created. Take out the enigma, the brain having the processing power that it does lends to reason thoughts arise from the brain. These are from studies done on the brain itself not from people thinking about where thoughts come from. That, my friend, is illogical.

 Neurologists are experts on the brain. What they're not experts on, by default, is neurophilosophy. Studies done on the "brain itself" are studies done collecting third person data. The collection of third person data does not currently support this third person phenomenon causing the existence of the first person perspective.

Take out your premises about processing power and enigma, and your argument then becomes: These people are experts on the brain, they say the brain causes the mind, therefore the brain causes the mind. Yet, this is an illogical argument, because although your conclusion COULD be true, the premises do not absolutely NECESSITATE it. This is simple informal logic.

February 23, 2016, 12:28:53 PM
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Mind_Bender

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Incorrect usage of the term "sound". Also, in that same sentence, you're committing an appeal to authority (another fallacy).

sound - adjective - based on valid reasoning, sensible; thorough.

Your first post is also appealing to authority by quoting resources (Immanuel Kant), making your quote hypocritical and your argument null.

Neurologists are experts on the brain. What they're not experts on, by default, is neurophilosophy. Studies done on the "brain itself" are studies done collecting third person data. The collection of third person data does not currently support this third person phenomenon causing the existence of the first person perspective.

Take out your premises about processing power and enigma, and your argument then becomes: These people are experts on the brain, they say the brain causes the mind, therefore the brain causes the mind. Yet, this is an illogical argument, because although your conclusion COULD be true, the premises do not absolutely NECESSITATE it. This is simple informal logic.

Yes, they are experts on the brain through scientific research, and correct, they are not experts in neurophilosophy because they are not philosophers, they are scientists, but they still utilize philosophy by the action of theory. They do not ponder the existence of thought by reading a bunch of ancient manuscripts or holy books or listen to modern philosophers, or spend hours meditating, doing qigong, and reading tea leafs and writing their discoveries on the dried skin of goats... they work in a lab with advanced technology that measures the brain and as far as they can tell from decades of research is thoughts emerge from the brain. Different phases of consciousness are measured by brain waves (Beta, Alpha, Theta, Delta), and thoughts come from consciousness, and on a neurological level, consciousness, as far as they can tell, emerges from the brain.

True, no one really knows what mind is or how consciousness works, but according to experts in the field of brain science, the logical conclusion (a sound conclusion) is that they stem from the brain. Studies have shown that religious experiences can be duplicated by connecting electrodes to the scalp that manufacture visions of spirits and feelings of ecstacy (God or Koren Helmut), thus providing another argument for the power of the brain as an enigma that counteracts the altruistic and metaphysical perception of divine interaction.

I am not saying these discoveries are concrete, but that they are more viable than thoughts solely emerging from a metaphysical source. I practice various forms of metaphysics and have my own theories on how things work and understand them from a basic Western occult and Eastern holistic medical and mystical perspective, but science is on the leading edge of discovery that makes a lot of the old theories of magic and internal alchemy seem dogmatic, out dated, and even useless and harmful.

To get the point across, in my new qigong class we are learning to 'speak with the spirits' of our organs. To some this is literal, as if entities really do exist in each organ, to others it merely represents a way of communication with our visceral selves. Neither is correct and neither is false, because it depends on ones beliefs and experiences.

What we can both agree on, I would hope,  is that no one really knows where thoughts come from. I do not believe in absolutes, but I cannot deny what science has discovered, and neither can I deny what I have experienced first hand and with groups of people that defy logic and scientific explanation. What they cannot explain I have my own theories, what I cannot fully inteleccutually comprehend, I have my experiences and do my best to understand.

I always return to the wisdom of Eliphas Levi - Faith and Reason must meet in the middle for there to be lasting progress of humanity and planetary evolution.
"Spirit is in a state of grace forever.
Your reality is only spirit.
Therefore you are in a state of grace forever."

"As relfections of the Source, we are little gods."

"...part of me doesn't want to believe that auto-eroticism while crushing on a doodle (sigil) could manifest a check in the mail box, but hey, it did."

"Everybody laughs the same language."

February 23, 2016, 12:55:53 PM
Reply #11

Lakshmi

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Well, here's another bit of totally unsubstantiated, unscientific information to throw into the mix- but it's this sort of thing that makes me think that thoughts might exist outside of the brain:

I have hives. I hate going to the doctor, if I can avoid it. I was going to google on "natural antihistamines", but then something came up and I forgot about it. I did not Google at all. A few hours later, I was looking for something totally unrelated on Amazon (lipstick in fact, so genuinely not related in any way). And it kept recommending quercetin to me. Every damn page was flashing quercetin. I'd never even heard of quercetin before, and the product page gave no clues as to why anyone would want it. So I googled it, and ... quercetin is a natural antihistamine.

I know, I know, could be coincidence. But this kind of thing happens so often, it sort of suggests that the thought, "must find natural antihistamine" was existing somewhere outside of my brain. And if it had been a human that suddenly felt compelled to tell me about quercetin rather than an Amazon bot, would the idea have come from my brain or theirs?

February 23, 2016, 12:57:37 PM
Reply #12

Rayn

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Incorrect usage of the term "sound". Also, in that same sentence, you're committing an appeal to authority (another fallacy).

That is an incorrect usage of that fallacy. The idea is that if a person is an authority, they likely have more knowledge on something than someone who isn't; however, this is not to say it is necessarily so; therefore, it is inductive. Since it is is inductive, there is always the possibility this is false. The fallacy only emerges when a person says an authority figure absolutely has more knowledge than someone who is not; therefore, it follows necessarily. In other words, if what the authority says is more likely to be true than not, one can use that without committing a fallacy within the context of probability. Uneducated people tend to claim going by what an authority says is intrinsically fallacious; however, in an academic context, something is seen as more credible the more people cite it, so this is certainly not true in your academic disciplines where you are expected to have sources.

You also make other mistakes. For example, when discussing something abstractly, there need not be a causal link; rather, the qualities that members of that set have match up with the term where what necessitates something is a syllogism derived from what you put in that category. Pretty much, when you define something, you don't have to supply a causal link; rather, you just have to put it into a category and then make deductions based on the set you put it in. That is called intension and extension. The intension of a term is pretty much the qualities you set up as sufficient for a set where extensional properties would just be the members that go into that set. In other words, the brain would not possess extension; rather, the brain would be an extensional member of a physical set where it has to meet necessary and sufficient conditions. In other words, one would not argue that a thought is an extension of a brain; rather, one would argue that thoughts and brains are extensional members since they are predicated by physical. For example, a machine does not need a brain to think; therefore brains are not necessary for them to think. This implies that thoughts are not extensional members of brains. Though, there is a level of ambiguity in the terms "thought" and "think" and "brain", but I believe they are negligible because they can be recreated within artificially intelligent beings that don't have the same properties in what allows them to do something analogous to what we do. Pretty much, you would not say that thoughts are subsets of a brain in such a way that brains have as an extension thoughts. You would say that both thoughts and brains are subsets of a physical superset and thus are extensional members.

I recently attended a philosophy conference last Friday where I got to hear from and discuss things with experts, and I kind of find it funny how philosophical concepts gets so abused here. For example, Kant is being completely misapplied here. For Kant, subjective things are agent-based things or this is to say that it comes from the person. It is different than how subjective is used in everyday language, so, according to Kant, thoughts are subjective in that they come from us; however, he distinguishes this from things that presuppose concepts which he calls objective where this idea is formulated in the context of art and not science(he explicitly mentions this in his critiques). This is entirely different than how you are using subjective  relative to  what Kant says. Furthermore, Kant was a transcendental idealist which means he was just concerned with what is required of things, so his writings read as purely ontological with little epistemic justification(he actually rejected the idea).

Here is the thing, though. It is all arbitrary where it all depends on how you define things, so there is a level of subjectivity involved. There is just enough vagueness and ambiguity involved, which, to me, makes that moot. I would rather rely on science and theory, but raising scientific arguments here won't get me anywhere.

There are a bunch of other errors in this thread from everyone involved, but it would be tedious and futile to go through them all(it seems common place to disregard science on this forum).   
« Last Edit: February 23, 2016, 07:27:19 PM by Rayn »
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but sorcery refuses to be a metaphor for mere literature--it insists that symbols must cause events as well as private epiphanies. It is not a critique but a re-making. It rejects all eschatology & metaphysics of removal, all bleary nostalgia & strident futurismo, in favor of a paroxysm or seizure of presence.

February 23, 2016, 01:46:15 PM
Reply #13

Explorer

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Thoughts come from the brain. As a bunch of brain activity happens in whatever patterns, thoughts occur. Stop the brain activity, thoughts cease. Stop thinking, brain activity continues but in an altered manner (as shown by MRIs and whatnot).


Hi steve :)

Would it not work the same way if you consider brain as a radio and thoughts as signals   ?

Stop the radio , signal will look as if it has ceased

Stop the signal or rather "block/ignore signal"/"change to a vacant signal" , radio will continue to function but in an altered manner
( like low background white noise instead of playing the music )

As above so below ?

« Last Edit: February 23, 2016, 02:24:28 PM by qwert »

February 23, 2016, 01:56:55 PM
Reply #14

ActionOfAll

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Incorrect usage of the term "sound". Also, in that same sentence, you're committing an appeal to authority (another fallacy).

sound - adjective - based on valid reasoning, sensible; thorough.

Your first post is also appealing to authority by quoting resources (Immanuel Kant), making your quote hypocritical and your argument null.

Actually it isn't an appeal to authority, because I'm not claiming that what Kant says must be true. I was merely suggesting an alternative, whereas you were implying that we should accept the neurologist's assertions simply because they are a neurologist. Of course, being an expert makes an idea put forth by said expert more credible than a non-expert's assertions, but by itself it is insufficient (especially with a subject so disputed even within the neuroscientific community).

Also, your usage of sound is again incorrect, because your reasoning isn't valid. The conclusion that thoughts "stem" from the brain is not substantiated by correlational evidence. This evidence could equally suggest that the brain and the subjective experience of thoughts both arise as different extensions of some other "thing".

True, no one really knows what mind is or how consciousness works, but according to experts in the field of brain science, the logical conclusion (a sound conclusion) is that they stem from the brain. Studies have shown that religious experiences can be duplicated by connecting electrodes to the scalp that manufacture visions of spirits and feelings of ecstacy (God or Koren Helmut), thus providing another argument for the power of the brain as an enigma that counteracts the altruistic and metaphysical perception of divine interaction.

I am not saying these discoveries are concrete, but that they are more viable than thoughts solely emerging from a metaphysical source. I practice various forms of metaphysics and have my own theories on how things work and understand them from a basic Western occult and Eastern holistic medical and mystical perspective, but science is on the leading edge of discovery that makes a lot of the old theories of magic and internal alchemy seem dogmatic, out dated, and even useless and harmful.


My academic program of study is titled "Wellness and Alternative Medicine". As such, we spend a lot of time evaluating alternative paradigms, because the healing modality extends from the paradigm within which the healer thinks.  I was not arguing that thoughts emerge from a metaphysical source, and my allusion to Kant was supposed to suggest that there is an alternative way of thinking, where thoughts do not emerge from anywhere. Refer to my first post in which I outlined (in a rudimentary fashion... and in a way that I'm sure both Durant and Kant would be disappointed about) Kant's general notion of the mind being outside the causal operations.


To Rayn's refutation of my use of the fallacy:

Within the context of the argument, the usage of the fallacy was correct. This is because a neuroscientist is not qualified to make a philosophical claim, unless they are an expert not only in neuroscience but also in psychology and philosophical method. Moreover, because there is serious debate and a lack of general consensus within the field itself, one expert's opinion is different than another expert's opinion (within the same field). Therefore, the usage of an expert's ideas on the subject of mind-brain relationship as a way to convince the opposition that the idea should be accepted, is fallacious. If, however, the scientist in question was properly trained in philosophical and psychological method, and if the experts in the field agreed, this would be different.

Moreover, I am not the one who argued for a causal link - Mind_Bender did. My refutation was that if someone puts forth an argument proposing causality, then one should explicate the causal link. Mind_Bender's original argument is unsound, because the conclusion that thoughts arise from the brain is not necessitated by the premises.

All we need is one example, as you explicitly point out, of thoughts accompanying something other than a brain, to show that the brain is not what necessitates thought. It could be that both thoughts and brain are simply extensions of some superset. Although, I would disagree with you when you say: "You would say both thoughts and brains are subsets of some physical superset" because thoughts are characteristically nonphysical. Therefore, the superset would have to be composed of criteria other than physical, of which both thoughts and brains would still be extensions. Moreover, your assumption that thoughts are predicated by physical is also questionable.