2009.05.25 19:00 - Consciousness and Brain Science

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    The Guardian for this meeting was Threedee Shepherd. The comments are by Threedee Shepherd.

    Adelene Dawner: hi all
    Peer Infinity: hi :)
    kenji Pookes: hi all
    Adelene Dawner: Hiya, Luv ^.^
    Threedee Shepherd: Evening Folks
    Peer Infinity: hi Three :D
    kenji Pookes: Hello
    Adelene Dawner: So Peer... did you ever get an explanation of how PaB works?
    Adelene Dawner: Hi, Sophia ^.^
    Peer Infinity: they mentioned the 9-second rule, but didn't give an actual explanation of how PaB works...
    Threedee Shepherd: Hello Sophia
    Threedee Shepherd: Hello Fortune
    Adelene Dawner: Anybody want to take a shot at explaining it, then?
    Fortune Crystal: hi
    Adelene Dawner notices a distinct lack of typing :)
    Peer Infinity: Fortune gave me a notecard :)
    Adelene Dawner: Ah ^.^
    Peer Infinity: so there's no fancy procedure or homework? we just chat about our experiences?
    Threedee Shepherd: Yes, and we chat abour anything else related to existence, reality, being, metareality and just about anything else that arises ;>
    SophiaSharon Larnia: that is how I understand it, the homework being the 9 second stops
    Threedee Shepherd: Hey, Pila
    SophiaSharon Larnia: Hi Pila
    kenji Pookes: Hi Pila
    Pila Mulligan: greetings
    Adelene Dawner: Hi Pila ^.^
    Pila Mulligan: Threedee, this is the first time we've been together in a while, and in the meantime I've had some inspirations from your comments, and also from comments by kenji
    Threedee Shepherd: ahh, a topic seems to be appearing ^.^
    kenji Pookes: That's scary.
    Adelene Dawner: hehe
    Pila Mulligan: this may not make an interestng topic, for today, but I'd like to discuss sometime the idea of how the autonomous nervous syetm relates to contemplative practices
    Threedee Shepherd: you mean autonomic, I think
    Adelene Dawner: oo, very interesting topic :)
    Peer Infinity: :)
    Pila Mulligan: I realized we probably err by looking to the cranium for analogues withmeditation
    Peer Infinity thinks brains are sexy :)
    Pila Mulligan: yes, atuonomic
    Pila Mulligan: whatever :)
    Threedee Shepherd: The short answer is: significantly.
    Pila Mulligan: aha, cool
    Pila Mulligan: can you elaborate, please
    ella Selona: hi all
    SophiaSharon Larnia: Hi ella
    kenji Pookes: hi
    Pila Mulligan: hin ella
    Pila Mulligan: hi*
    Threedee Shepherd: There is a significant scientific literature on this and I am not up to date on it, so I would need to prepare
    buddha Nirvana: hi everyone:)
    Oni McLuhan: I thik the brain,, as it is severed itnt everal autonomos parts,, we cant even be sure when we awake or asleep as is
    SophiaSharon Larnia: Hi Buddha
    Threedee Shepherd: Hi buddha
    Oni McLuhan: Hyas Buddha
    Threedee Shepherd: There are regions of the brain that can *run* autonomouosly. That is a broader statement than the specific part kknown as the autonomic nervous system. Unless one is in a coma (different from sleep) all of the parts are in constant communication. In sleep some are *turned down*, but that is an active process.
    buddha Nirvana: hi:)
    Pila Mulligan: hi buddha
    Pila Mulligan: well, I'd like to explore it further with you at your convenience, please -- the spine is the focus of most yogic-contemplative physiology
    kenji Pookes: What do you mean by "run autonomously". Autonomous of what?
    Oni McLuhan: I explain my experiences when curret talkers finished
    Pila Mulligan: I see I set up a wrong signal by confusing autonomic with autonomous at the start, pardonez mot :)
    Fortune Crystal: Kenji, autonomous meaning we don't have to conciously think before we pump blood through our heart or breathe. That is my interpretation, the thinks we do automatically that are governed by the nervous system
    kenji Pookes: Well, again, I ask autonomous of what? Consciousness is part of the brain.
    Threedee Shepherd: well you can be injured such that you are in a relative vegatative state. the "lower" parts of your brain, such as mid-brain that controls breathing and other such stuff can work on its own
    kenji Pookes: I'm still not seeing a clear explanation of what "on its own" mean. This assumes some sort of duality in the brain. Do you mean separate from mind?
    Threedee Shepherd: No, I mean separate from the normal modulation and control that is provided by the cortex
    kenji Pookes: So you are saying that different parts of the brain have different fuctions and, therefore, can opearte separately.
    Threedee Shepherd: No one knows *what* copnsciousness is. There is no way to even ask if someone who has damage that leaves only lower centers, such as midbrain, intact, has ANY form of what we nomrally call consciousness.
    Adelene Dawner: yes-but, many of the parts are interrelated and wull quickly stop working properly if they're expected to work on their own.
    Adelene Dawner: *will
    Threedee Shepherd: Basically, yes, kenji, although th parts work in parallel and have constant intercommunication, normally.
    Fortune Crystal: I have heard various estimates as to the percentage of the brain that the average human uses. Some estimates approximate that 10-20% of the brain is used by humans. My question is, what is the rest of the brain doing?
    Pila Mulligan: playing chess?
    Adelene Dawner: waiting its turn ^.^
    SophiaSharon Larnia: :)
    Oni McLuhan: breathing, makin heart beat etc
    Oni McLuhan: lower functions
    kenji Pookes: Then it would seem that saying that parts of the brain can act independently of other parts doesn't tell us much.
    Fortune Crystal: That is a lot of brain to keep people breathing. :-)
    Threedee Shepherd: All of the brain is used all of the time when awake and probably even when asleep. the 10-20% thing is an "urban myth"
    Peer Infinity: I remember hearing that the saying about humans using only a small percentage of their brain... are just an urgan legend, but I forget the details of the explanation...
    Threedee Shepherd: Time Out:
    Peer Infinity: (oops, Three beat me to it) :P
    kenji Pookes: Take Five.
    Oni McLuhan: you need 60 IQ to keep beahing and hear beating I once saw a survey say
    Fortune Crystal: I happen to agree with threedee and peer about the myth thing but I brought it up as a further way of pondering what is conciousness
    kenji Pookes: Oni, I didn't understand that.
    Oni McLuhan: im sorry what didnt you understand,, I am sorry if I was unclear
    kenji Pookes: Could you repeat?
    Threedee Shepherd: This could turn into me "lecturing" about the brain. I would rather not and instead suggest we focus on the question: Why does knowing about how the brain actually functions have anything to do with the main questions of appearance of reality that PaB addresses.
    Adelene Dawner: ^.^ @ Three
    Oni McLuhan: sec,, need get ny eye pach
    Oni McLuhan: when people tpe fast ands large text masses I need block one eye
    SophiaSharon Larnia: it does reveal even more that it is an illusion
    Peer Infinity: (in RL)
    Threedee Shepherd: oh, sorry Oni.
    Pila Mulligan: or, paraphrasing Threedee, how does known brain sceince relate to consciousness
    Threedee Shepherd: answer: It doesn't. Next Question?
    Adelene Dawner: *chuckle*
    Pila Mulligan: Next Question: how does UNknown brain sceince relate to consciousness
    kenji Pookes: It would seem difficult to know that
    Pila Mulligan: well, we could always get metaphysical
    Adelene Dawner: Actually, we do know that the things we know about the brain now *modify* consciousness in many ways, even if none fo htem seem to generate it.
    kenji Pookes: What is consciousness?
    Threedee Shepherd: The brain is the organ of the mind. That can be agreed on (except by the few who deny that mind or consciousness exists). So we would like to know how to get from brain to mind. So far, it has proven impossible and no one I am aware of has good ideas.
    kenji Pookes: Whats the mind?
    Fortune Crystal: The things we know about the brain can change because the investigator interacts with the reality they are investigating (the brain question they are relating). So I Conciousness is what the individual wants it to be, the individual creates the conciousness.
    Threedee Shepherd: There aare lots of facts that seem interestingly relevant, such as 99.99+ % of what the brain does never reaches conscious AWARENESS.
    Pila Mulligan: well, let's assume (1) consciousness has something to do with the appearance of reality
    Pila Mulligan: and (2) the brain actually functions in that regard
    Fortune Crystal: what is blocking the 99.9% of the things the brain does from reaching conciousness?
    Threedee Shepherd: It is not so much a question of blocking. Rather, the question that matters is, what is the purpose/function of the tiny bit that does reach conscious awareness?
    Threedee Shepherd: One possible function of consciousness is that it allows planning into the non-immediate future.
    Pila Mulligan: like a squirrel storing nuts for winter?
    Fortune Crystal: But most of the things the individual plans never occurs the way it was planned. Why such an inefficient functionof consiouness
    Threedee Shepherd: Kenji, you question of "What is mind" which is much the same as "what is consciousness" would seem important to starting the discussion. Unfortunately there is not a good definition.
    Pila Mulligan: our species is still learning, probably
    kenji Pookes: No, there isn't. Unfortuantely. But it is fundamental to either the study of neuroscience or what I do--anthropology.
    Fortune Crystal: What about the question, what ISN'T mind, what ISN'T conciousnes. I say they are both everything
    Pila Mulligan: as in the Gaia theory. Fortune?
    kenji Pookes: Fortune, I'm not sure precisely what you mean, but I don't think the chair I'm sitting in is mind.
    Oni McLuhan: thinks
    kenji Pookes: Gaia theory might go that way.
    Oni McLuhan: sends bats to probe
    Fortune Crystal: I have never heard about the Gaia theory, please elaborate
    kenji Pookes: Gaiai is the idea that the earth is a living being and human minds are its consciousness.
    Oni McLuhan: thinks
    Threedee Shepherd: An assertion: There is something(s) it is like to be a consciously aware human who experiences color, taste, smell etc. I know it because I experience it and your behavior suggests strongly that you experience something similar.
    Pila Mulligan: "The hypothesis is frequently described as viewing the Earth as a single organism" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gaia_hypothesis
    kenji Pookes: The devil being int he words "suggests".
    Fortune Crystal: Why isn't the chair mind? Someone thought about it in their mind to construct it. And it still exists so it could still be viewed as mind.
    Oni McLuhan: that is witgenstein over again
    kenji Pookes: Interesting idea, Fortune.
    Fortune Crystal: Thanks Pila and Threedee for the explaination
    Oni McLuhan: and even descartes
    Threedee Shepherd: Chair is a concept. I accept that there exists a physical world (independent of humanity) that offers objects that afford sitting--such as smooth-top rocks--some of which humans even construct pruposely.
    Oni McLuhan: witgenstein
    Pila Mulligan: but some say rocks also have consciousness
    kenji Pookes: Actually, I'm not sure sure that I accept that idea in quite that way. REality, as I understand it, arises out of the interaction of human minds and a somewhat indeterminate physical world. What it IS; depends upon who is looking at it and the context of the looking.
    Threedee Shepherd: Many here know that I am a retired neuroscientist/cognitive scientist who taught a course about this for lots of years. In the end it is mostly questions, not answers.
    Pila Mulligan: why?
    Oni McLuhan: I dont know,, because first met you in this setting
    kenji Pookes: Well, that describes much of the study of anything--mostly questions, few answers. Certainly cultural anthropology is that way.
    Fortune Crystal: Perhaps it is for the best that there are mostly questions. What is the benefit of having answers to everything. This lovely discussion wouldn't be going on :-)
    Threedee Shepherd: I do not agree Kenji. while that is true at the sub-microscopic quantum level, at the macro level the wave functions have "collapsed" into the solidity of classical physics.
    Oni McLuhan: debate and discussion is the foundation of understanding
    Pila Mulligan: one sip of the Higgs Boson and everything becomes solid
    Oni McLuhan: Disagreeent and argumen is the foundation of new belief
    kenji Pookes: It is still indeterminate. When I buy a blue shirt in the store and see it as one shade of blue under the neon lights and then take it outside and decide I don't like it because it is a different shade of blue in the light of the sun, which color is the true one? The color is a consequence of the interaction between context, my mind, and the potential for blueness in the shirt.
    Oni McLuhan: there is no trur colour
    Oni McLuhan: there is no real absolote as we know them
    kenji Pookes: I agree, Oni. There is the potential for blueness--it isn't likely to look red--but it lacks a true color because the color of the shirt is related to the observer and the context of observation.
    Fortune Crystal: Why does color have to stay the same, why can it not change. Afterall our cery cells are not the same, they change. Very little in this reality stays the same
    Threedee Shepherd: Color does not exist. It is a qualitative perception of the viewer. the fact that a particular piece of cloth will absorb and reflect certain frequencies of electromagnetic radiation is simply a physical reality.
    kenji Pookes: That's basically my point. Therefore, talking about the physical world as objective reality is rather pointless.
    Oni McLuhan: might I divert from subject a little
    Fortune Crystal: sure oni
    Oni McLuhan: and say that I have never felt so alive and vibrant and happy
    Oni McLuhan: as here anomg you
    Peer Infinity: :D
    buddha Nirvana: may i pitch in with a finding?
    Oni McLuhan: I never felt anyone challenche my mind before
    Threedee Shepherd: I disagree. Reality is what is left after you stop believing in it. It is REAL. the "blue" flower at cloudless high noon reflects wavelengths whether there are humans or animals or not. That is reality.
    kenji Pookes: Yes, but since we cant' get at that reality in any case, there isn't anything to talk about there. It's like saying the grass on Jupiter is real. We can't see it, so we have no capacity to understand it in an objective sense.
    kenji Pookes: Buddha, I'd be interested in your finding.
    SophiaSharon Larnia: we share a subjective experience
    Fortune Crystal: Why do we have to use sight to varify reality. Seeing grass on jupiter I mean?
    buddha Nirvana: ok, :)...
    Fortune Crystal: I am glad that you feel that way Oni. :-)
    kenji Pookes: I'm not so convinced that we share much of anything, actually. (see was meang in a broader way than just sight).
    Oni McLuhan: a silly now and hear and now my reality check ... I love yah all for challenging my intellect and make me think new ways
    buddha Nirvana: whilst reading some text earlier i found out the term ‘avatar’ is actually the Sanskrit word for ‘godly incarnation’ or 'descent'
    Threedee Shepherd: When I smash my toe into the corner of a piece of furniture in the dark, REALITY is happening. How I define and describe it may be at issue, but the event is not at issue. Something happened. I agree we cannot *know* reality in the abstract, but we need a decent approximation to stay alive.
    SophiaSharon Larnia: yes Buddha
    buddha Nirvana: that was new to me
    Peer Infinity snuggles with Oni :)
    kenji Pookes: When I stub my toe in the dark, whatever happened is completely mediated by my mind/body.
    kenji Pookes: I can know nothing else about it--what happened IS my experience of it.
    Oni McLuhan: Buddism is the onl religii I dont rank as religion
    buddha Nirvana: yea, kenji, all experience is sensation based
    kenji Pookes: Oni, go to Japan and you might change your mind.
    Oni McLuhan: because buddusm isnt sience hostile
    kenji Pookes: I'd like to explore the idea that Fortune raised that we share experience. I am not convinced of this.
    Threedee Shepherd: If you step on a piece of glass and your toe is severed from your foot, that is something real that happens. Your "experience" of it is something you the subject "invent" which is why it is called subjective.
    Oni McLuhan: or societu hostile
    buddha Nirvana: yes, you may find the realation between quantum mechanics and buddhism useful
    Oni McLuhan: Japan has Shitno,, you sure you dont mix those two ?
    kenji Pookes: We think that we share things on the basis of statistical reasoning, however we really don't share anything. Take the example of the a baseball game, does a person in the outfield have the same experience as the person behind home plate? How about the drunk sitting next to me? Is he having the same experience?
    Oni McLuhan: Shinto is hostile to almost everythig
    Threedee Shepherd: Roshamon. No more needs be said ^.^
    kenji Pookes: Oni, the Japanese practice both Shinto and Buddhism. Buddhism is the primary context of ancestor veneration. Shinto is hostiley to virtually nothing.
    kenji Pookes: Well, a lot can be said about Rashomon, depending upon your perspective.
    Oni McLuhan: yes
    SophiaSharon Larnia: our bodies process neurological input in similiar ways, to say it is subjective i mean to say we interprete this data similiarly
    Threedee Shepherd: A totally self-referential joke, kenji Ha
    kenji Pookes: Thanks, Threedee.
    Pila Mulligan: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rashomon_(film)
    kenji Pookes: I actually use Rashomon sometimes in my classes--it creates some intersting discussion.
    SophiaSharon Larnia: whether this is an illusion, i think is part of the mind/body disscussion
    Oni McLuhan: since this is a circle of argeeent and simiar will ,,, I will never get hostile or attack anyones faith
    Oni McLuhan: we are of different minds
    Oni McLuhan: thats the point
    Oni McLuhan: I respect and embrace some traditions even as atheist
    Threedee Shepherd: I accept everyones faith. I do not except every behavior or ACTION that is claimed to be derived from faith. there is NO WAY I can rationalize the fait of Taliban extremeists that couses them to behead people.
    kenji Pookes: AGreed, Threedee.
    Fortune Crystal: Oni, you say that we are different minds and tha may very well be true. But who can say whether or not we are actually the same mind that decided to take on different "roles" to appear different, just to experience that version of experience/life
    SophiaSharon Larnia: avatars :)
    Oni McLuhan: F Cryrystal,, there is no way
    kenji Pookes: No way for what?
    Oni McLuhan: to know for sure
    Oni McLuhan: hehe
    Fortune Crystal: :-)
    Threedee Shepherd: Fortune. I cannot deny that. The way I approach such ideas is to ask, what practical implications of any idea are there in my daily experiences, and what predictions do the ideas make?
    buddha Nirvana: perhaps there is no individual observation, and that we are all within a subjective shared experience
    kenji Pookes: What of that experience is shared, Buddha?
    Fortune Crystal: Wonderful approach Threedee, thanks for sharing
    buddha Nirvana: reality - how we experience it.
    kenji Pookes: But we each experience it in different ways.
    Pila Mulligan: does a squirrel gathering nuts for winter suggest a little furry mind at work?
    Oni McLuhan: I just had a mental orgasm .. excuse me for using a rude metafor
    Fortune Crystal: Kenji, we may all expereine reality in different ways but we experience the reality in a similar enough way to all be interacting together at this very moment
    Peer Infinity: I don't think anyone here considers orgasms rude :)
    Oni McLuhan: but I havent been around people thinking like you in many tyears
    Threedee Shepherd: Pila, at the least it suggests the power of "natural selection" in the evolutionary sense. I am unsure about squirrel minds.
    Fortune Crystal: lol at Oni
    SophiaSharon Larnia: a part of being, relative as part of the absolute Buddha :)
    Fortune Crystal: that's great Oni
    kenji Pookes: We are interacting, but my concern is that we take the concept of "Shared" without unpacking what it means.
    kenji Pookes: I don't think that we understand in an analytical way what it means to share experience.
    Threedee Shepherd: Agreed Oni, we do experience in a similar enough way to allow for "social interaction"
    kenji Pookes: At least I don't.
    Oni McLuhan: evolve keni
    buddha Nirvana: i like the metaphor of the dream. when asleep we are take on a 'role', with 'others'. upon awakening we realise we were infact all parties. the same too, this reality, perhaps
    kenji Pookes: Individual don't evolve in the sense that Darwin meant it.
    Oni McLuhan: thinks and seeps in what you sas
    Threedee Shepherd: there is a neural basis for shared experienc e see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mirror_neurons
    Pila Mulligan: ahh, science proves empathy is real :)
    Fortune Crystal: :-)
    Oni McLuhan: I am somehosure my trusty bunn wll save that linmk for me and remind me lol
    kenji Pookes: I'll check that out. But from the perspective of culture, I find it very difficult to see how we can truly share experience--none of us have the same experience.
    Pila Mulligan: despite the irony, I agree Threedee
    Threedee Shepherd: science PROVES nothing, it just makes careful observations !
    Pila Mulligan: it is important
    SophiaSharon Larnia: we share the experience of physicality
    kenji Pookes: Agreed, Threedee. And as a scientest, I have found that the observations I make just make me more confused most of the time.
    buddha Nirvana: and even observations may not be accurate, may change what one is observing
    SophiaSharon Larnia: (is that a word?)
    kenji Pookes: That's an interesting idea Sophia
    Oni McLuhan: ae we witgenstein or decartes or who now ?
    Threedee Shepherd: When it comes to humans, "close enough" seems to be "good enough" to allow cooperative society to be more than an individual
    Pila Mulligan: physicality is a word and an expereince
    SophiaSharon Larnia: that is what i meant by sharing experiences, sorry ifthat was not apparent
    Threedee Shepherd: often true, kenji ^.^
    kenji Pookes: Yes, close enough does allow for cooperation. The generation of agreement through culture allows us to work from the assumption that we share experience.
    Pila Mulligan: "Of or relating to the body as distinguished from the mind or spirit" http://www.thefreedictionary.com/physicality
    SophiaSharon Larnia: :)
    Oni McLuhan: a mix of wittgenstain and another exixteniaiist,, umm what was his name
    Oni McLuhan: a norwegian
    Pila Mulligan: physically, your karma runs over my dogma when you question my beliefs
    Oni McLuhan: Kierkagaard
    SophiaSharon Larnia: so to say that this physicality is an 'illusion' or dream, can some ways be said to be shared
    buddha Nirvana: thanks everyone:)
    Pila Mulligan: bye buddha
    SophiaSharon Larnia: bye Buddha!
    Fortune Crystal: hmm, very interesting Sophia
    Oni McLuhan: Dugddha
    kenji Pookes: Bye Buddha
    Oni McLuhan: loved talk to you
    Pila Mulligan: I think this is waht Threedee was getting at earlier in terms of shared expereince
    SophiaSharon Larnia: yes
    Oni McLuhan: in fact im so sleepy I cant even see straight
    Threedee Shepherd: Friends, I need to leave and attend to RL "stuff" this has been fun and I am sure it will continue in other sessions. I will receive the log address by e-mail and post it. goodnight.
    Oni McLuhan: im gonna have to sleepy
    SophiaSharon Larnia: goodnight ThreeDee nice to see you :)
    Pila Mulligan: bye Threedee and Oni
    Fortune Crystal: Good night all!
    kenji Pookes: Good night, Threedee. I enjoyed the conversation.
    Oni McLuhan: loved to have but heads with you
    Peer Infinity: ok, goodnight Oni, sleep well :)
    Peer Infinity: thanks for joining us :)
    SophiaSharon Larnia: I must go also, goodnight all :P
    kenji Pookes: Did I just get called a butt head?
    Pila Mulligan: bye Sophia
    Oni McLuhan: Peer I be in IM 5 mi after this
    Peer Infinity: ok
    Oni McLuhan: Noooo I said I loved to butt heads and argue
    kenji Pookes: Just kidding. But it wouldn't be the first time.
    Oni McLuhan: with yah all
    Adelene Dawner: 'night, All
    Peer Infinity: :)
    kenji Pookes: good night all.
    Pila Mulligan: bye kenji
    Pila Mulligan: bye Ade
    Oni McLuhan: Nigt all,, im signing of love to see ya all soon again
    Pila Mulligan: :)
    Pila Mulligan: well, Peer, that was an eneretic session
    Pila Mulligan: energetic*
    Peer Infinity: yes it was :D
    Peer Infinity cuddles :)
    Pila Mulligan likes to suggest form time to time that the body really cannot be entirely distinguished from the mind
    Peer Infinity: heh...
    Pila Mulligan: our beliefs are deep in our corpuscles and muscles
    Pila Mulligan: lightening our mind lightens our body, and vice versa
    Pila Mulligan: anything further on the wiki project idea?
    Peer Infinity ponders why it feels so fun to express beliefs that other people find silly...
    Peer Infinity: no, I haven't heard anything further about the wiki
    Pila Mulligan: maybe is is lightening the burden
    Peer Infinity: heh...
    Pila Mulligan: having fun with beliefs
    Pila Mulligan: well, my mind wanders to thoughts of dinner, Peer
    Peer Infinity: ok
    Pila Mulligan: so, bye for now
    Pila Mulligan: :)
    Peer Infinity: bye
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