Consciousness
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Consciousness
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8 Scientists Contemplate Place of Human Consciousness in Science

8 Scientists Contemplate Place of Human Consciousness in Science | Consciousness | Scoop.it

The founders of quantum physics contemplated the philosophical implications of their findings. They were astounded that the thoughts of the observer seemed to influence the matter being observed. Principles believed to stabilize physical reality didn’t seem to apply.

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The founders of quantum physics contemplated the philosophical implications of their findings. They were astounded that the thoughts of the observer seemed to influence the matter being observed. Principles believed to stabilize physical reality didn’t seem to apply.

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Philippe Vallat's curator insight, August 21, 2014 1:41 AM

Good questions challenging materialism

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Mental Maps Reveal the Brain's Plug-and-Play Plasticity: Scientific American

Researchers continue to probe the limits of the brain's plasticity

 

To the brain, electronic hardware is no different from flesh and blood, suggests a study at the University of California, Berkeley. In the experiment, monkeys learned to control a computer cursor—a stand-in for a bionic limb—through microelectrodes wiretapping their motor cortex. Although this feat is nothing new, the researchers showed for the first time that a stable memory of the new accessory had formed in the brain.

 

During normal development, a baby learns to control its limbs by creating a mental map of the movable parts of its body—a motor homunculus of sorts. The new finding parallels that process, says neuroscientist Jose Carmena, who led the study, “but it’s about a prosthetic device, and that’s what is profound about it. We’re talking about an extension of your body’s schema.” In other words, once the brain-machine interface gets up to speed, our gray matter might already be set up to achieve effortless, plug-and-play-like control of electronic add-ons.

 

2 Dec 2009

Frederik Joelving

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Steven Pinker on Metaphor and the Mind

Steven Pinker on Metaphor and the Mind | Consciousness | Scoop.it

I think that metaphor really is a key to explaining thought and language. The human mind comes equipped with an ability to penetrate the cladding of sensory appearance and discern the abstract construction underneath - not always on demand, and not infallibly, but often enough and insightfully enough to shape the human condition. 

Our powers of analogy allow us to apply ancient neural structures to newfound subject matter, to discover hidden laws and systems in nature, and not least, to amplify the expressive power of language itself.


Via Mariana Soffer
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Mariana Soffer's curator insight, July 10, 2013 7:42 PM
 Steven Pinker, Canadian-American experimental psychologist, cognitive scientist and linguist, cited in Mariana Soffer, Metaphor and the Mind, Sing your own lullaby (via amiquote) 
carol s. (caravan café)'s comment, August 18, 2013 1:37 PM
toile de http://www.robertpokorny.com/robertpokorny/Home.html
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Functionalism and mental boundaries

Functionalism and mental boundaries | Consciousness | Scoop.it

According to extended cognitivists, the mind’s location is only partly in the head. In addition, extended cognitivists have argued, the mind is located in parts of the world outside the body.

 

Moreover, the possibility of extended cognition suggests new lines of research within the domain of social cognition. If minds extend, the boundaries that define the units of social interaction become less certain. Perhaps minds overlap. If, as some extended cognitivists believe, features of the environment comprise parts of a cognitive system, then a single piece of the world might constitute a piece of distinct cognitive systems. More dramatically, perhaps parts of a mind of one individual may be located within the mind of another. Insofar as extended cognition can make such possibilities plausible, social psychologists will need to re-interpret the nature of social interaction, will need to re-examine how the motivations and emotions of a single agent can influence an extended cognitive system, and so on.

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Buddhism and the Brain

Buddhism and the Brain | Consciousness | Scoop.it
Neuroscience tells us the thing we take as our unified mind is an illusion, that our mind is not unified and can barely be said to “exist” at all. Our feeling of unity and control is a post-hoc confabulation and is easily fractured into separate parts. As revealed by scientific inquiry, what we call a mind (or a self, or a soul) is actually something that changes so much and is so uncertain that our pre-scientific language struggles to find meaning.

Buddhists say pretty much the same thing. They believe in an impermanent and illusory self made of shifting parts. They’ve even come up with language to address the problem between perception and belief. Their word for self is anatta, which is usually translated as ‘non self.’ One might try to refer to the self, but the word cleverly reminds one’s self that there is no such thing.

David Weisman
SEEDMAGAZINE.COM
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The anatta is in a state of impermanence, called anicca.  Consciousness is envisioned as a wave of momentary mental states. 


Weisman asks, "Why have the dominant Western religious traditions gotten their permanent, independent souls so wrong?"



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Nur Svsc 's curator insight, March 16, 2013 12:19 AM

A good book on the subject is 'The Dalai Lama at MIT' -- a  2008 collection of the papers and research discussed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2003, a unique dialogue between Buddhist practioners and neurosecientists on the issues of perception, subjectivity, concentration, emotion and perspectivism. 

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The "Interpreter" in Your Head Spins Stories to Make Sense of the World

The "Interpreter" in Your Head Spins Stories to Make Sense of the World | Consciousness | Scoop.it

We humans think we make all our decisions to act consciously and willfully. We all feel we are wonderfully unified, coherent mental machines and that our underlying brain structure must reflect this overpowering sense. It doesn’t. No command center keeps all other brain systems hopping to the instructions of a five-star general. The brain has millions of local processors making important decisions. There is no one boss in the brain. You are certainly not the boss of your brain. Have you ever succeeded in telling your brain to shut up already and go to sleep?


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The brain runs its show incognito

The brain runs its show incognito | Consciousness | Scoop.it

Eagleman’s new book, Incognito, examines the unconscious part of our brains — the complex neural networks that are constantly fighting one another and influencing how we act, the things we’re attracted to, and the thoughts that we have.

 

Eagleman refers to consciousness as “a tiny stowaway on a transatlantic steamship, taking credit for the journey without acknowledging the massive engineering underfoot.” His book investigates this fact and its implications in decision making. He explains how the mind does enormous amount of work to reach the moment when you can gleefully say, “I just thought of something!” He emphasizes how we often take credit for our ideas without considering the “the vast, hidden machinery behind the scenes.”

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Mariana Soffer's comment, August 3, 2012 6:08 AM
This rocks
gregorylent's comment, August 3, 2012 9:55 AM
yet still, rooted in phrenology 2.0, thinking meat makes consciousness ... tell me mr. eagleman, what is the magic that drives the brain?
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‘Mind uploading’ featured in academic journal special issue for first time | KurzweilAI

‘Mind uploading’ featured in academic journal special issue for first time | KurzweilAI | Consciousness | Scoop.it

The Special Issue on Mind Uploading (Vol. 4, issue 1, June 2012) of the International Journal of Machine Consciousness, just released, “constitutes a significant milestone in the history of mind uploading research: the first-ever collection of scientific and philosophical papers on the theme of mind uploading,” as Ben Goertzel and Matthew Ikle’ note in the Introduction to this issue.


“Mind uploading” is an informal term that refers to transferring the mental contents from a human brain into a different substrate, such as a digital, analog, or quantum computer. It’s also known as “whole brain emulation” and “substrate-independent minds.”


Serious mind uploading researchers have emerged recently, taking this seemingly science-fictional notion seriously and pursuing it via experimental and theoretical research programs, Goertzel and Ilke’ note.

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Talking To Your Mind

Talking To Your Mind | Consciousness | Scoop.it

The thoughts our brain/mind produces include situations we have yet to experience, yet are fearful of, angry or worried about. We’re pretty much creatures of habit, after all, and our habits go back thousands of years. Much of our behavior is reactionary, initiated when we’re faced with situations that cause us to be fearful or angry. Our primitive brains – specifically the amygdala, take us into fight-or-flight mode in order to survive. Within seconds our brains are flooded with chemicals, our heart-rate changes, our blood rushes from our extremities to our body’s core to guard our important organs, and we’re prepared to run or stand our ground and fight the saber-toothed tiger.

 

Problem is, we’re not fighting saber-toothed tigers anymore.

 

via Intent Blog

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Magic Mushrooms Expand the Mind By Dampening Brain Activity, May Help Depression | Healthland | TIME.com

Magic Mushrooms Expand the Mind By Dampening Brain Activity, May Help Depression | Healthland | TIME.com | Consciousness | Scoop.it

Based on this idea, Huxley posited that ordinary consciousness represents only a fraction of what the mind can take in. In order to keep us focused on survival, Huxley claimed, the brain must act as a “reducing valve” on the flood of potentially overwhelming sights, sounds and sensations. What remains, Huxley wrote, is a “measly trickle of the kind of consciousness” necessary to “help us to stay alive.”

 

A new study by British researchers supports this theory. It shows for the first time how psilocybin — the drug contained in magic mushrooms — affects the connectivity of the brain. Researchers found that the psychedelic chemical, which is known to trigger feelings of oneness with the universe and a trippy hyperconsciousness, does not work by ramping up the brain’s activity as they’d expected. Instead, it reduces it.

 

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What is medical materialism?

The concept of "medical materialism," so well described by William James in his Varieties of Religious Experience, is just one more form of reductionism that is sometimes applied to matters of religion. For our purposes here, we will define "reductionism" as any attempt to explain the greater in terms of the lesser, that is, any attempt to explain something large and deep and complex in terms of categories drawn from something simpler and smaller and easier to understand.

 

Reductionistic explanations do appeal to some people because they make something complex seem as if it can be understood in terms of something smaller and simpler to grasp. If we want to belittle the love that exists between two people and say that it's really nothing special, we might say that their "love" is nothing more than the actions resulting from hormones acting on their brains; or that their happy marriage is nothing but a mutually selfish relationship of economic convenience for both of them. What this does is attempt to reduce (hence the term "reductionism") the significance and meaning of something by ascribing it to more trivial causes. It is trying to explain the greater in terms of the lesser.

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Are brains necessary?

Are brains necessary? | Consciousness | Scoop.it

"The amoeba seems to know a great deal and it moves and acts with direction and purpose, all without nerves, sensory organs, or any obvious internal structure. There is probably no better demonstration that knowledge and intentionality, key parts of our notion of mind, are characteristics of the simplest of bodies."

 

"... we may be putting too much emphasis on the brain itself. Brains not only aren't minds, it seems possible to act as if you have a mind without any brain at all."

 

Michael Steinberg - Open Salon

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What's the Universe Made Of? Math, Says Scientist

What's the Universe Made Of? Math, Says Scientist | Consciousness | Scoop.it

Scientists have long used mathematics to describe the physical properties of the universe. But what if the universe itself is math? That's what cosmologist Max Tegmark believes.

In Tegmark's view, everything in the universe — humans included — is part of a mathematical structure. All matter is made up of particles, which have properties such as charge and spin, but these properties are purely mathematical, he says. And space itself has properties such as dimensions, but is still ultimately a mathematical structure.

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"Consciousness is probably the way information feels when it's being processed in certain, very complicated ways," Tegmark said. He pointed out that many great breakthroughs in physics have involved unifying two things once thought to be separate: energy and matter, space and time, electricity and magnetism. He said he suspects the mind, which is the feeling of a conscious self, will ultimately be unified with the body, which is a collection of moving particles.

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Could the future taste purple? Reclaiming mind, body and cognition...

Abstract:

This article examines the primacy of real-world bodily experience for understanding the human mind. I defend the idea that the peculiarities of the living human brain and body, and the bodily experiences they sustain, are essential ingredients of human sense-making and conceptual systems. Conceptual systems are created, brought forth, understood and sustained, through very specific cognitive mechanisms ultimately grounded in bodily experience. They don't have a transcendental abstract logic independent of the species-specific bodily features. To defend this position, I focus on a case study: the fundamental concept of time flow. Using tools of cognitive linguistics, I analyse the foundations of this concept, as it is manifested naturally in everyday language. I show that there is a precise conceptual metaphor (mapping) whose inferential structure gives an account of a huge variety of linguistic expressions, semantic contents, and unconscious spontaneous gestures: Time Events Are Things In Space. I discuss various special cases of this conceptual metaphor. This mapping grounds its source domain (space) in specific spatial bodily experiences and projects its inferential structure onto a target domain (time) making inferences in that domain possible. This mechanism allows us to unconsciously, effortlessly, and precisely understand (and make inferences with) expressions such as ‘the year 2000 is approaching’ or ‘the days ahead of us’. The general form of the mapping seems to be universal. The analysis raises important issues which demand a deeper and richer understanding of cognition and the mind: a view that sees the mind as fully embodied. In order to avoid misunderstandings with a general (and somewhat vague) notion of ‘embodiment’ which has become fashionable in contemporary cognitive science, I describe what I mean by ‘full embodiment’: an embodied-oriented approach that has an explicit commitment to all of cognition, not just to low-level aspects of cognition such as sensory-motor activity or locomotion (lower levels of commitment). I take embodiment to be a living phenomenon in which the primacy of bodily grounded experience (e.g., motion, intention, emotion) is inherently part of the very subject matter of the study of the mind.

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Lynnette Van Dyke's curator insight, August 15, 2013 8:28 AM

The theoretical  work on metaphor would support this.

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The Santiago Theory of Cognition

In this new view, cognition involves the entire process of life - including perception, emotion, and behaviour - and does not necessarily require a brain and a nervous system. At the human level, however, cognition includes language, conceptual thought, and all the other attributes of human consciousness.

 

The Santiago theory of cognition, in my view, is the first scientific theory that really overcomes the Cartesian division of mind and matter, and will thus have the most far-reaching implications. Mind and matter no longer appear to belong to two separate categories but are seen as representing two complementary aspects of the phenomenon of life - the process aspect and the structure aspect. At all levels of life, beginning with the simplest cell, mind and matter, process and structure are inseparably connected. Thus, for the first time, we have a scientific theory that unifies mind, matter and life.

 

--  Fritjof Capra

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A Brief Guide to Embodied Cognition: Why You Are Not Your Brain

A Brief Guide to Embodied Cognition: Why You Are Not Your Brain | Consciousness | Scoop.it

Embodied cognition, the idea that the mind is not only connected to the body but that the body influences the mind, is one of the more counter-intuitive ideas in cognitive science. In sharp contrast is dualism, a theory of mind famously put forth by Rene Descartes in the 17th century when he claimed that “there is a great difference between mind and body, inasmuch as body is by nature always divisible, and the mind is entirely indivisible… the mind or soul of man is entirely different from the body.” In the proceeding centuries, the notion of the disembodied mind flourished. From it, western thought developed two basic ideas: reason is disembodied because the mind is disembodied and reason is transcendent and universal. However, as George Lakoff and Rafeal Núñez explain:

 

Cognitive science calls this entire philosophical worldview into serious question on empirical grounds… [the mind] arises from the nature of our brains, bodies, and bodily experiences. This is not just the innocuous and obvious claim that we need a body to reason; rather, it is the striking claim that the very structure of reason itself comes from the details of our embodiment… Thus, to understand reason we must understand the details of our visual system, our motor system, and the general mechanism of neural binding.

 

What exactly does this mean? It means that our cognition isn’t confined to our cortices. That is, our cognition is influenced, perhaps determined by, our experiences in the physical world. This is why we say that something is “over our heads” to express the idea that we do not understand; we are drawing upon the physical inability to not see something over our heads and the mental feeling of uncertainty. Or why we understand warmth with affection; as infants and children the subjective judgment of affection almost always corresponded with the sensation of warmth, thus giving way to metaphors such as “I’m warming up to her.”

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Claudia M. Reder's comment, May 19, 2013 8:28 PM
http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/guest-blog/2011/11/04/a-brief-guide-to-embodied-cognition-why-you-are-not-your-brain/
Alexander Vorobiev-Char's curator insight, February 4, 2014 2:14 AM

Соответствуют ли Ваши мысли возможностям Вашего тела? Что из них первично?

Eli Levine's comment, February 4, 2014 9:35 AM
This sounds like an analogy to a government sitting within a society. For example, while a government does technically control the body society through the production of laws (to a limited extent), the body society also influences and effects the government (brain) to produce different results. This is how government can be working independently of (and sometimes, contrary to) the rest of society, just as the society can also work independently of (and, sometimes, when the government isn't being cooperative with society's needs) contrary to the government.<br><br>Thanks for this! :)
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Documentary- Reality and the Extended Mind (2 of 2)

Reality and the Extended Mind is a non-profit documentary by Adrian Nelson. As an increasing number of academics acknowledge the findings erupting from psi research, quantum mechanics and many other areas of science, thinkers are coalescing on a new description of reality.

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Location of the mind remains a mystery

Location of the mind remains a mystery | Consciousness | Scoop.it

A patient who preserved their self-awareness despite extensive brain damage suggests that our map of the brain needs rethinking... the mind might be more like a virtual machine running on distributed computers, with brain resources allocated in a flexible manner,


Via The Asymptotic Leap
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The Strange Neuroscience of Immortality

The Strange Neuroscience of Immortality | Consciousness | Scoop.it

Inside researcher Kenneth Hayworth of Harvard University is quoted in The Chronicle Review:


"The human race is on a beeline to mind uploading: We will preserve a brain, slice it up, simulate it on a computer, and hook it up to a robot body."


Chronicle continues, "He wants that brain to be his brain. He wants his 100 billion neurons and more than 100 trillion synapses to be encased in a block of transparent, amber-colored resin—before he dies of natural causes.


Why? Ken Hayworth believes that he can live forever.


But first he has to die."


Article by Evan R. Goldstein

Illustrations by Harry Campbell for The Chronicle Review


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Mariana Soffer's comment, July 17, 2012 7:39 AM
txs for this Wildcat
Mariana Soffer's comment, July 17, 2012 7:39 AM
Txs Dan as Well
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Buddhism: Science of the Mind

Buddhism: Science of the Mind | Consciousness | Scoop.it

"Modern science initiated a deep spiritual crisis that led to an unfortunate split between faith and reason—a split yet to be reconciled. Buddhism was seen as an 'alternative altar,' a bridge that could reunite the estranged worlds of matter and spirit" writes Dr. Martin J. Verhoeven, Research Professor of Buddhist Studies and Practice at the Institute for World Religions. "Thus, to a large extent Buddhism's flowering in the West during the last century came about to satisfy post-Darwinian needs to have religious beliefs grounded in new scientific truth."

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Collected Wisdom on Memes, Luck, Consciousness, and Existence

Collected Wisdom on Memes, Luck, Consciousness, and Existence | Consciousness | Scoop.it

[I]f it is true that human minds are themselves to a very great degree the creations of memes, then we cannot sustain the polarity of vision we considered earlier; it cannot be “memes versus us,” because earlier infestations of memes have already played a major role in determining who or what we are. The “independent” mind struggling to protect itself from alien and dangerous memes is a myth. There is a persisting tension between the biological imperative of our genes on the one hand and the cultural imperatives of our memes on the other, but we would be foolish to “side with” our genes; that would be to commit the most egregious error of pop sociobiology. Besides, as we have already noted, what makes us special is that we, alone among species, can rise above the imperatives of our genes— thanks to the lifting cranes of our memes.

 

- Happy 70th Birthday, Dan Dennett

- via brainpickings.org

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You are not the mind

Concentration, meditation, and learning to direct the mind according to your own will, prove that you are not your mind. Can the mind control itself, or does it need some higher power to control it? This leads you to realize that you are separate from the mind, otherwise how can you master it? It is you, the real you that is directing the mind. The ability to focus the mind or stop its activities in accordance with your willpower awakens the understanding that you are not your mind, and this is a great step toward self-realization.
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Are You Living in a Simulation?

"A common assumption in the philosophy of mind is that of substrate-independence. The idea is that mental states can supervene on any of a broad class of physical substrates. Provided a system implements the right sort of computational structures and processes, it can be associated with conscious experiences. It is not an essential property of consciousness that it is implemented on carbon-based biological neural networks inside a cranium: silicon-based processors inside a computer could in principle do the trick as well."

 

by Nick Bostrom

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Steven Pinker: ‘The mind doesn’t work by fluid... - Lapidarium

"You can’t understand the mind only by looking directly at the brain. (…) The difference comes from the ways in which hundreds of millions of neurons are wired together to process information. I see the brain as a kind of computer—not like any commercial computer made of silicon, obviously, but as a device that achieves intelligence for some of the same reasons that a computer achieves intelligence, namely processing of information. (…)"

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