Thread: Consciousness and the Brain

  1. #1
    This is an article from the Psychology Today website:


    Does Consciousness Exist Outside of the Brain?

    Is consciousness actually a property of the universe like gravity or light?


    https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/b...BbOAtD8oA6Awww

    Any thoughts about the article? (Please don't just reply to the title, thanks!)

  2. #2
    Forums Member justusryans's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Topping, Virginia
    Posts
    277
    As Dr Fenwick says” Only in death can you be truly conscious “ I don’t see why he couldn’t have asked a Buddhist... he could have saved some time.



    Mike

    On a more serious note, I think that when Dr Fenwick was comparing the different sight filters and the the different sound/hearing he lost me. I don’t think it was him, I think he explained it well, I just couldn’t figure how the brain was concerned with this. I know that it’s all filtered through the brain, but I guess I don’t have any training to be a neurologist.
    Last edited by justusryans; 30 Aug 19 at 02:15.

  3. #3
    Forums Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2017
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    408
    It was a fair article really. The brain has only minimal information to work on, if you look at all the available electromagnetic radiation, sound and so on. It creates most of what we experience the world to be, developed as a kind of mental story as we grow. It was enough to make us a successful species but we would miss out a lot were it not for science extending the range of what we know to be out there.

    Extending this to explain consciousness is mere speculation without any direct evidence of a universal consciousness. However, we could rephrase what he said to be that we live in a universe whose startup conditions allow consciousness to arise, given certain criteria, so that we have a consciousness-allowing-universe such that consciousness is a universal property of the universe.

    The article suggests that electromagnetic radiation never 'dies' and is always out there once generated. This is interesting as the processes in the brain from which consciousness arises have an electromagnetic signature which can be detected scientifically. It radiates out from the brain and, although too weak to measure, presumably carries on moving out until the end of the universe, or at least the end of all the information carried by the universe. The consequences of our consciousness may therefore last way beyond our lifespan.

    One could imagine a universe eventually filled with such radiation, along with all the other stuff of course. Which seems to be not too far away from that which the title suggests, unless you think about consciousness continuing to exist as the radiation trundles its merry way through space. It becomes the realm of science fiction and fantasy to suggest that background energy could be enough to keep consciousness going. Perhaps even tapping into that which is already out there.

    What is more interesting for me is exploring how these ideas tap into what happens when we meditate. We often feel as though we become one with something out there which feels like a universal something, or at least I do when I have such experiences during meditation. Maybe it explains why people involved in meditation and Buddhism have such thoughts about a universal consciousness too.

  4. #4
    Forums Member Olderon's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2017
    Location
    Concord, New Hampshire, U.S.A.
    Posts
    284
    This is the third time I have rewritten this. Keep getting kicked off due to system being overly busy on BWB side.

    It has not been demonstrated that consciousness is anything more than a consequence of contact between the sensoneural system of a living being. When the being dies, consciousness ceases(period).

    End of story.

  5. #5
    Forums Member Olderon's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2017
    Location
    Concord, New Hampshire, U.S.A.
    Posts
    284
    Correction: "sensorineural" instead of {sensoneural}.

  6. #6
    Technical Administrator woodscooter's Avatar
    Location
    London UK
    Posts
    1,587
    Dr Peter Fenwick has been studying this subject for 50 years. I've only seen Aloka's post about the article this week.

    Which of us can speak more authoritatively on the matter? Neither. The proposition cannot be tested, so it is not a theory, but simply a conjecture.

    There are two examples given in the article which seem to be at odds with each other.

    One: When the eye dies, the spectrum does not vanish, when the ear dies the energies that the living ear respond to still exist.

    Two: “If a tree falls in the woods and no one is there to hear it, does it still make a sound?” “No.” Because sound is the conscious perception of sonic or acoustic stimuli that requires a sense organ to experience.

    Well, either consciousness is the sum of the living body's perception, or consciousness is independent of any living body. I don't think you can have it both ways.

  7. #7
    Forums Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2017
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    408
    From a Buddhist perspective conditionality holds. Things arise on conditions. If the conditions for consciousness exist, then consciousness will arise. Which begs the question about the conditions which are necessary for consciousness. My view is that up to now a network of living neurons is needed, but whether it will arise when there is a similar network of built electrical circuits, AI, or not is something I look forward to with interest and perhaps trepidation. Whether there are other conditions out there somewhere for consciousness to arise is the stuff of science fiction rather than authoritative reasoning. Such things may be fun to read but it doesn't really impinge on my thinking about consciousness.

    My own area of interest is the difference between consciousness and the awareness of consciousness, or self consciousness. It's a bit like the tree in a forest question. If there is consciousness without self awareness of the fact that there is consciousness, does consciousness exist? If only a few species are aware of their own thoughts, what is the meaning of the consciousness of those not aware of them? Is my self consciousness in control or am I merely reflecting on what decisions the rest of my brain has made without me being aware of them being made?

    This has consequences for my Buddhist practice. Am I to concentrate on my seemingly consciously aware decision making process, or is there something much deeper to work on, the brain working behind my self-conscious self? Can my decisions have an effect on this hidden decision making process or do I have to do something else to change it?

Los Angeles Mexico City London Colombo Kuala Lumpur Sydney
Tue, 2:08 PM Tue, 4:08 PM Tue, 10:08 PM Wed, 2:38 AM Wed, 5:08 AM Wed, 8:08 AM