World Science Scholars

1.7 The Puzzle of Consciousness

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    • Cogito ergo sum is a famous statement that asserts the only true knowledge we have is the existence of our own consciousness. Do you think this is really the only true knowledge that you have? Can we ever be sure that the experiential world is not an illusion? Does it matter? Why?

    • In this discussion, I like the question of “Does it matter?” because in all honesty, does it? An illusion is defined as something that is “is or is likely to be wrongly perceived or interpreted by the senses.” Will we ever truly be able to know that our entire perception of the world is wrong and what qualifies it as being right? If we were to not be here as living beings experiencing the world, would the universe itself be real? Is reality only bound by perception or is there a real reality that we can only experience a part of? I think these endless questions are interesting because it challenges all of human history, who we are and whether or not our actions have true impact on any part of reality. However, I believe we can see our impacts on ourselves and each other. I feel happy, I know I can cause others to be happy. If it were to all be an illusion, I do feel that my emotions are real, who I am is real and my senses are real. Even when we are dreaming, I often can feel my emotions. Just because they are in a dream doesn’t make them less real, they are the reactions I had to my surroundings. I feel conscious through these things and these, for me at least, serve as proof of my consciousness.

    • “Can we ever be sure that the experiential world is not an illusion?” I have always been fond of the phrase “perception is reality.” I believe that what we perceive is real, yet I believe it is an incomplete image of what is really there. Our senses have evolved for survival. For that reason, we see in only certain wavelengths and at limited ranges, we hear only certain frequencies, and we smell and taste only a certain range of scents and flavors. I believe there is a whole world beyond what we can perceive, even beyond what we can imagine. String theory suggests that there exist 10 or more dimensions yet because we only exist in three dimensions it is nearly impossible for us to even imagine what those other dimensions might look like. Just because we cannot perceive them, does that make them any less real? I don’t think so, I just think humans have been limited in their physical capabilities by what evolution deemed necessary for survival. I am very exited to see what science discovers about the imperceptible aspects of the physical world in the years to come.

    • Ii believe there are different levels of consciousness just as everything else in life… some creatures experience a sense self of being but don’t know love or anxiety or perhaps sadness and pain. I believe there is an entire spectrum of consciousness and that all living things experience varying levels of these conscious feelings.

    • Consciousness is a continuum

    • In my opinion we only have perception of what the human being was “prepared/evolved”. The human being cannot feel, for example, the radiations of many technologies and they walk among us. There is a whole world that we cannot see because of our limitations, but they are still real, we just cannot get there. All this makes me curious and eager to discover more and more

    • Conscious is emerging property of very physical sums.
      Self is not atomic. it is consists of many smaller self. as a whole it boots up consciousness

    • La conciencia es un estado momentáneo donde el hombre aun no ah podido controlar , la secuencia instintiva del homo sapiens sapiens, intenta controlar pero el camino es largo y la capacidad para lograr dicha competencia esta empezando .

    • We think we know a lot because we compare ourselves today, to what we think people knew in the past, or what we think we know about animails, plants and other entities and objects in the world.We do have experience and and without going to the infinite
      cause and effect or (why why why), that is about as close to what might be real as I can get. It is all I have to function with, even if it is not the final reality.

    • La ciencia es como el mar no sabemos cuando tocaremos Tierra.

    • Well, I guess it depends on how you define knowledge. What is the philosophical frame of mind you believe in or are using? For instance, when you use the deductive logic and reductionism of the scientific method, it seems that the mind is too complex or subjective/qualitative to truly understand at times. At least in that way/form of knowledge. However, when I take a step back and think about what I can truly know in general, I suppose it does seem like the only thing for certain that I can understand is that I feel and know my own consciousness. It seems like all we can truly know about what’s outside of us in the world (including other people’s consciousness) will always be indirect. Does it matter? My first thought is that if we don’t hold authority on this or can’t change it, I’m not sure if we could even decide that it matters or not. But I do think since it seems all of our consciousness have this innate desire for meaning and purpose, there must be something to that.

    • My guru told this : I am that …

    • I think consciousness is independent of reality or whatever “reality” means (there are many ways to define it). One way is to define reality as the stimulus that our sensor system can perceive and our brain transforms in conscient sensations, but this is a very limited definition since there are other devices which can perceive higher/lower wavelength radiation than our eyes, for instance. Anyway, “Do you think this is really the only true knowledge that you have?”, yes, because from a scientific perspective, the reality is the only “scenario” and “actor” object of study. Even illusions are based on experiences of reality. “Can we ever be sure that the experiential world is not an illusion?” No, we cannot. Our experiences are trapped in this four-dimensional space-time. “Does it matter?” It doesn’t matter in the discussion of consciousness, because in different states consciousness we can be aware of reality (awake) or illusions (e.g. REM).

    • Perception is really the “Sixth Sense” which is the result of analysis from the brain of the inputs from the five physical senses. The five senses only give you the reality. You smell something and then after anaysis by the brain you conclude that its a rose. Your eyes if open confirm that. Others may or may not agree with you. Its just your perception.

    • Alternatively can we ever be sure that it is an illusion?

    • That is when you try and compare it with observations by others. If you think something is an illusion you can have several people inspect the same phenomenon as what you are observing and then the combined analysis of many brains results in clarification. That is what astronomers do when verifying objects in the sky. Although, when you go to see a magic show you must be prepared for illusions.

    • I think the knowledge is a context for the experience. I believe that Knowledge is the power to act and we can have the access of the individual knowledge , collective knowledge or universal knowledge. I Believe that our life experience is not about knowledge, is about present, about how can we feel; and this is our GPS… Is an illusion because is an individual an collective representation of our ego.

    • I submit twice!

    • I think so. Several courses in this WSU-platform (Special relativity non-math, String theory and Nature’s Consituent) show clearly that in same reality is heavily dependent on the state of the observer. Perhaps this course has to be added to the list. One can argue that other observer’s reality is an illusion.

    • An observer”s conscious experences are all subjective. Math is the common written language that scientists use to convey their observerations (conscious experiences) to other scientists. Other scientists can then translate that mathematical set of euations,numbers etc back into conscious experiences and see if they agree. That is how bodies of knowledge are transmitted in the modern scientific world and collected into larger and larger volumes. If all the scientists on Earth agree on some observation then that becomes an established truth which can be challenged by a future scientist or improved upon. Religion and religious experiences on the other hand are often not mathematically expressed and done so purely with language skills which are all subjective and cannot be easily replicated to other observer’s experience/consciousness.

    • Consciousness is merely a continuum.

    • h

    • I don’t know what consciousness is or what it truly means to be conscious. Perhaps consciousness is an illusion, a first class illusion that increases our evolutionary fitness. Within this illusion they’re second class illusions, which most people can usually, eventuality see as an illusion. I don’t feel this way, but maybe it’s a really good illusion.
      Hope this course gives some clarity.

    • yes

    • I am here, I am aware, I can feel, therefore I am conscious, and that is really soothing to know, I have loved this so far!

    • I think that consciousness is something quite complicated to understand, and well, everyone will know what they think, but probably not everything

    • I believe in the fact the consciousness plays a pi-vital role in understanding oneself. That being said, i feel consciousness is one of the outcome of the survival instincts of any living being, which makes us to believe that it is the only true knowledge. I believe that mathematics is something which describes the world most elegantly and it does not have any element or constant for consciousness in it. 🙂

    • Reply to: reality and consciousness

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    • Our mind has different ways of perceiving reality depending on its state more than what our senses experience.

    • I agree with the way Christof singled out “I think, therefore I am” as a historical cornerstone for this subject, essentially expressing “the rock bottom of what [we] can be certain of” — the most rudimentary starting point upon which the rest of the inquiry into the nature and functioning of consciousness can be built.

      The fact that I can register a thought — from a first-person subjective perspective — implies the existence of some form of consciousness, as a pre-given axiom. The content of the perception is irrelevant; this is the crucial factor that distinguishes “I think, therefore I am” from the mindless processes being carried out in the “Philosophical Zombie Argument,” Leibniz’s “Mill Argument,” or the “Chinese Room Argument.” It is the act of registering the thought — as perceived from a first-person subjective viewpoint — that serves as the basis for the axiom.

      To be clear: I am unable to know whether anyone else who declares “I think, therefore I am” is similarly conscious — because I am unable to experience their first-person subjective viewpoint. All I know is that — when I say it — it is an expression of the state of awareness that I appear to have from my own internal standpoint.

      Beyond this simple observation, there seems to be very little that can be said with anything close to certainty. Questions immediately fan out in all directions:

      > What is the nature of my existence as a “thinker”?
      > Am I generating my own thoughts — or are they simply programmed actions, which I have been designed to perceive as my own creations?
      > Do I exist as an individual entity, or do I subsist as an integrated part of a collective whole? (Or is it possible that both could be true — in the same way that light can alternatively exist in the form of either a particle or a wave?)
      > Would I continue to exist as a “thinker” if I were somehow separated from the physical body that I currently appear to be associated with?
      > Is the nature of reality and my existence as a “thinker” illusory and / or simulated?

      Ultimately, however, none of these riddles need to be solved in order for us to begin to explore consciousness, knowing that some form of it must indeed exist. We can use “I think, therefore I am” as a starting point — attempting to connect the first-person subjective experience with the third-person objective mechanisms, as so many brilliant philosophers, scientists, and thinkers have nobly tried to do for centuries.

      In terms of whether or not any of these questions matter … personally, I believe they’re of the utmost importance. I find it helpful to frame the argument in terms of game play: It’s extremely unlikely that I’ll be able to play a game effectively if I don’t even know the rules, the setup, or the nature of the game board. Heck, I might not even be facing in the right direction to achieve the objective! Such is true for life as well: Once I have a better handle on the rules of engagement and the nature of the construct in which I seem to find myself … now I’m finally ready to play to win.

      At the end of the day, I believe that being brave, aware, and motivated enough to pursue the answers to these types of questions is a vital aspect of self-realization — enabling us to achieve full potential, individually and collectively.

    • The only minimum thing we can be sure of is our own conscious, it would be very strange if this was the only truth. We may become sure of the truth of reality only when we get ourselves to somehow develop a device to test the consciousness of other beings, but then again, it might happen it’s part of just the imagination. I believe if we solve the hard problem of consciousness we’ll grow as a civilization as a notch. One possibility to approach the credibility of true reality is to rely on scientific conclusions and believe everything has an explanation. And yeah all these matter, since reality shapes us.

    • Quantum theory has made science into a probability of occurence of any event. So, based on that even the most extreme event which theologians would attribute to a miracle of God has been captured by the extreme probability of occurence. So, from that point of view Science has already accomplished the explanation of every possible event’s occurence. These are all the developments made by conscious minds not the dead scientists. Their(the dead scientists) consciousness has been transferred to modern scientists through their notes, essays, articles writings etc. So the philosophy of consciousness being a universal presence and not just a personal experience is a valid theory. I understand that is a religious philosophy too! Religion is nothing but an ancient science that is explained by scriptures for the common man to understand. Exactly, what people like Prof Greene and others are trying to do through all their videos and books where hardly any equation is presented except metaphorical explanations of scientific discoveries and their mathematical derivations but without showing any mathematical equations. As far as I understand the Vedas are nothing but a large body of ancient scientific discoveries of Rishis and Seers who were ancient scientists. The Bhagavad Gita is nothing but a very detailed exposition of Human consciousness and behaviors. The five Pandavas represent the five senses and Lord Krishna the sixth sense or the intellect/mind/brain. The hundreds of Kauravas and all their cousins and kith and kin represent the myriad conscious behaviors of humankind.

    • No, i am of the belief that there is more than our own experience. When we die, life does not cease for everyone around us and in many cases, people sense you are physically gone but something remains. Thinking about something is not the only experience I have. I can feel sensations, sense energy around me, and there are many biological processes that continue within me without me thinking about them. This leads me to believe thinking is not the end of our experience. Then again, I have to process this information by thinking about it and comprehending what is happening through the use of my brain.

      I believe it does matter if our experience is an illusion or not. If it is an illusion and nothing really matters, everything we thinking, feel, and do doesn’t change the fact that its all an illusion. If our experience is not an illusion, we have the capability to investigate our experience and discuss with others to help us discover our purpose.

    • Yes there is a dynamic Universe out there. But its manifestation of reality occurs within each individual’s consciousness differently. Those who align with WorldScienceU’s views bbelong to one manifestation. Others have their own different manifestation of its “truth”. These are the parallel universes. Which is rea? What is out there or what has manifested in your consciousness? Scientists constantly seek to “prove” their “truths” Other’s just don’t care. They will die with the truths they have perceived. If they put it down in writing then that become a another reality that gets passed down. That is what the Vedas are.

    • When considering if all experiences are mere illusions, I am at a loss for what the truth is. How we each perceive the world is subjective, and my reality may differ for someone else’s. Does it matter? I believe it does, mostly due to a morbid curiosity for how I may stray from what is considered the norm. Though that begs the question of what is normal then, if we can only be sure of our own existence?

    • The brain doesn’t know what we experience outside and what we just imagine and feels inside our head. EEG and MRI shows both have the same reading.. Search about Joe Dispenza a Neuroscientist. He’s explanation is great

    • We can use music to apply scientifically in Neuro disorders

    • We can conduct some research on the Mozart effect.

    • I think, therefore I am is probably the only infallible statement. All other statements come after self-knowledge. All other things are such that one can doubt them.

    • Cogito ergo sum is a famous statement that asserts the only true knowledge we have is the existence of our own consciousness.
      For this discussion, I think it is helpful to answer the questions in reverse. A person’s response to these questions will direct you to a level of understanding, gathering of information, about this other being consciousness.
      Why? I lack the knowledge nor have I gathered enough information as a human being to know if you are conscious.
      Does it matter? If I want the statement of the existence of my own consciousness to be true, then yes it does matter. The opposite of yes would indicate that the existence of my own consciousness is immaterial or irrelevant and has no measurable impact on the existence of my own consciousness.
      Can we ever be sure that the experiential world is not an illusion? A separate but equally important question to answer. I would take the view that the possible answers (yes, no, maybe, uncertain, etc.) are correlated to how I address the answer to the existence of my own consciousness. Like a logic puzzle or decision tree in program development. If I want the answer to the existence of my own consciousness to be yes, then the experiential world existing as not an illusion would any answer I want it to be. My consciousness would influence my perceived truth in this experiential world.
      Do you think this is really the only true knowledge that you have? In the experiential world, it may be the only true knowledge I have, but in nature, it might not be the only true knowledge presented to me. My observed universe, my life in the experiential world, and the knowledge contained in my being are limited in scope to the facts that I can take in. If my experiential world allows me to only answer yes or no to the only true knowledge we have is the existence of our own consciousness, then I would be failing to adapt to other forms of data/information gathering beyond my consciousness.

    • Cogito ergo sum is a famous statement that asserts the only true knowledge we have is the existence of our own consciousness. Do you think this is really the only true knowledge that you have? Can we ever be sure that the experiential world is not an illusion? Does it matter? Why?

      There’s something interesting about knowledge, to me, knowledge is all about probability and contingency, we are justified in believing whatever seems most probable given our current data. And we should always be willing to revise our beliefs in the light of new evidence. So in that sense, the existence of our own consciousness is certainly not the only knowledge that we can have.

      As for the realness of our experiential world, I think it depends on what we regard as “real.” For example, consider the idea of Holographic Principle, according to that idea, our reality might only be the reflection of a higher reality infinitely far away from us. But to me personally, this reflection is the only reality I can experience, so, it will be interesting to know if that’s actually the case, but I don’t think it will affect the way I live my life.

    • Abordar esta pregunta, me parece un hecho interesante, pero más allá de eso creo que no tiene utilidad. En términos prácticos es imposible responderla sin meterse en los terrenos de la subjetividad. A demás obedece a una visión autocéntrica o antropocéntrica de la realidad.

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