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What you actually mean by 'Consciousness'?

Discussion in 'Philosophy' started by atanu, May 13, 2020.

  1. Meerkat

    Meerkat Active Member

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    Again it's a definition problem. Maybe we could look at a hierarchy of consciousness, eg from the simple awareness of plants to self-awareness in humans. But do we include the "awareness" of atoms, rocks and billiard balls at the bottom of this hierarchy?

    As a general observation, is "awareness" a more useful word here than "consciousness"?
     
    #81 Meerkat, Jun 29, 2020
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2020
  2. Meerkat

    Meerkat Active Member

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    Yes, that's a good description, and I don't see anyone claiming to actually be aware of experiences in deep sleep.
    On the other hand, we can be woken from deep sleep by a loud noise, which suggests that some basic function of consciousness is still present, or that consciousness is in "stand-by" mode. As opposed to being under a general anaesthetic, when we are fully unconsciousness.
    The question is then about the nature of "consciousness" in deep sleep. Is it a cruder function of awareness than waking consciousness, is it the special undifferentiated consciousness of Advaita belief, or is it something else?
     
    #82 Meerkat, Jun 29, 2020
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2020
  3. Meerkat

    Meerkat Active Member

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    Perhaps, but then historically humans have had a tendency to fill gaps in knowledge with religious beliefs, and to make the mysterious divine.
    And where consciousness is concerned, there could be a strong anthropomorphic tendency, eg "consciousness is a defining feature of humans, so humans assume that the universe is conscious".
    Maybe consciousness does pervade the universe, I really don't know. I'm not convinced that anyone else does either, given the inherent subjectivity of "spiritual" experiences, and the diversity of interpretation across myriad religious traditions.
     
    #83 Meerkat, Jun 29, 2020
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2020
  4. atanu

    atanu Member
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    Yes. You recognise a gap -- not by inference but by the memory of the gap -- an experience devoid of ego-desire-objects-thoughts. Inference cannot happen without the experience of the gap.

    refreshed

    All of say "I knew nothing, I slept like a log." There is an experience of 'not-knowing' and of great peace.

    ...
     
  5. Polymath257

    Polymath257 Think & Care
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    No, there is no *memory* of the gap, at least that I can see. There is a *lack* of memory during the gap, which is what makes it a gap. it *is* an inference from the times when I do have memory. It isn't an 'experience' devoid of ego-desires-thoughts, but rather a lack of experience altogether.

    I don't see it like that. In fact, it is precisely the *lack* of experience that defines the situation for me. So, I don't have an 'experience' of 'not-knowing'. I simply have a time period from which I have no memory. There is no 'peace' during the process, only afterwards.
     
  6. SESMeT

    SESMeT Member

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    The whatitslikeness of experience. Also known as qualia. Put simply: I consider consciousness to just be subjective experience. It's the most fundamentally known thing there is. We could be in the Matrix, the whole of the physical world could be illusory, but one thing we would still know for certain is our own subjective experience. And that is all I mean by consciousness.
     
  7. Polymath257

    Polymath257 Think & Care
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    I've never been able to understand how a quale differs from a sensation. For example, the phrase 'whatitslike' suggests there is a 'thing' that the experience can be compared to (via a simile). is there any reason to think there is such a thing? Does the 'quale' for 'seeing red' differ from the 'quale' for seeing 'red while happy'? What about the qualia for 3D dot pictures? Is the quale different before I 'see' it than after?
     
    #87 Polymath257, Jul 2, 2020
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2020
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  8. SESMeT

    SESMeT Member

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    I'd just define consciousness as subjective experience and subjective experience as something that you know from a first person point of view if you have it but not something you can really prove to anybody but yourself. And even to yourself it's more axiomatic and self-evident than "proof" per say. That's what I think but everybody is welcome to disagree :)

    ETA: Whoops. I already posted on this topic but somehow forgot! Apologies for repeating myself.

    I'd say that sensation is a subset of qualia. All sensation is qualia but not all qualia is sensation. Unless you include things like the subjective experience of cognition and absolutely all kinds of experience to be sorts of sensation in which case I'd say that they're then one and the same. And here it seems that you're talking about different sorts of quales or different sorts of conscious experiences but they'd still, for me, all fall under conscious experience and I use "consciousness" and "conscious experience" interchangeably along with "subjective experience" and "qualia" as well.

    ETA 2: The quale is different before you see it than after only if after you see it your subjective experience *of* it thereby changes. Two distinct quales are just the same thing as two distinct subjective experiences, as far as I'm concerned. And whether they're actually distinct experientially or not is just a matter of whether they seem different to you or not. That's what I think.
     
    #88 SESMeT, Jul 2, 2020
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2020
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