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> consciousness, biochemical?
VietSteve
post Jul 22, 2005, 06:20 AM
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What do you think about
self or consciousness? Is it biochemical or does
something exist beyond the physical?
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Rick
post Jul 25, 2005, 08:50 AM
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Both. Consciousness is not physical because it doesn't have location, but it is something that exists. However, it is clearly biochemical because when brain activity stops, consciousness stops (oxygen deprivation, etc.).

Some properties of consciousness:

1. non-locality.

2. Unity. Each individual's consciousness is not normally divided.

3. Privacy. Only the individual has access to his own consciousness.
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Hey Hey
post Jul 25, 2005, 05:12 PM
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QUOTE (Rick @ Jul 25, 05:50 PM)
Both. Consciousness is not physical because it doesn't have location, but it is something that exists. However, it is clearly biochemical because when brain activity stops, consciousness stops (oxygen deprivation, etc.).

Some properties of consciousness:

1. non-locality.

2. Unity. Each individual's consciousness is not normally divided.

3. Privacy. Only the individual has access to his own consciousness.

Brain stem death, whilst the body's general physiology is supported, indicates a stage below conscious and unconscious activity/control. This indicates that consciousness is a property of the brain and that it probably lies within the brain. WRT the latter point, I have seen no evidence that removing any other body part's activity has a concomitant loss of consciousness (other than a temporary loss due to fainting and not including any brain supporting physiology [e.g. blood circulation or respiration for O2 provision]). Also, I have seen no scientific evidence that one can walk away from one's consciousness or that consciousness can be active after leaving an unconscious body. Of course anecdotal statements exist for the latter but I have filed them in the bin with the deity, where they belong. I also believe you will find much evidence for the maintenance of consciousness after reduction or deletion of many brain regions, as evidenced by birth defects and trauma. Thus it might be possible, eventually, to name a minimum package of brain regions that generate consciousness, noting that some of these regions might be functionally present or absent in a given individual, but probably some regions are required in all individuals.

The following Scientific American Frontiers article serves to indicate that not all brain regions are necessary for consciousness but are necessary for other functions:

Conventional wisdom holds that we use only ten percent of our brains, but a remarkable young woman named Michelle Mack proves otherwise. Michelle was born with half a brain. Her left hemisphere was almost completely destroyed by a stroke she suffered in her mother's womb. But Michelle's verbal and object-recognition capabilities, normally seated in the missing left brain, are hardly compromised.

In "The Power of Half," meet Michelle and Dr. Jordan Grafman, of the National Institutes of Health outside of Washington D.C. Although their work together has just begun, it's already clear that Michelle's right hemisphere controls tasks handled by the left brain in other people. But this compensation comes with a price; Michelle struggles with visual-spatial tasks, which are normally processed in the right brain. It's as if the two abilities, linguistic and visual-spatial, had to duke it out for space in Michelle's brain- and language won.

See: http://www.pbs.org/saf/1302/segments/1302-5.htm
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Paul King
post Aug 14, 2005, 03:04 PM
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QUOTE
Consciousness is not physical because it doesn't have location


It is incorrect that consciousness does not have a location. I started a separate thread on this topic. For example, our consciousness is located primarily in our brain and not in someone else's brain, so there is some approximate locality. And yet it does not have a precise physical location (e.g. in these cells or those molecules). Perhaps this is what Rick meant. But this is a complex topic.

QUOTE
However, it is clearly biochemical because when brain activity stops, consciousness stops


More accurately, human consciousness is clearly manifested through biochemical processes for the reason cited above.

Consciousness itself is not biochemical. Human consciousness is a systems phenonemon operating at an abstraction layer above the biochemical systems of the brain.

Consciousness is not biochemical in the sense that biochemical molecules are not consciousness. (or if they are, it is in a different way than we are used to). For example, consciousness is not contained within serotin in a way that would be very meaningful to science.

Consciousness could conceivably be created within a silicon-based computing machine (once we understand its mechanisms well enough). In such an implementation, that consciousness would not involve biochemical processes.
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Hey Hey
post Aug 15, 2005, 03:35 PM
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QUOTE (Paul King @ Aug 15, 12:04 AM)
Consciousness could conceivably be created within a silicon-based computing machine (once we understand its mechanisms well enough). In such an implementation, that consciousness would not involve biochemical processes.

We have no evidence for this, but we have for that based (somehow) around the biochemistry of carbon. For all we know, there might be some special emergent property of C-biochemical reactions that that gives consciousness, and that might not be available from silicon. We are so far from being able to explain this issue, and yet we drop into the realms of science fiction before we get to the end of page one of the book. But think about computers incorporating organic chemicals - now there might be fuel for imagination.
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Rick
post Aug 17, 2005, 11:01 AM
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If consciousness is quantum mechanical, then quantum computers might be conscious.
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Paul King
post Sep 13, 2005, 07:42 PM
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QUOTE
For all we know, there might be some special emergent property of C-biochemical reactions that that gives consciousness


QUOTE
If consciousness is quantum mechanical, then quantum computers might be conscious.


It could be that consciousness is derived from mysterious properties of carbon, or from quantum principles. Are these views testable?

There was a time when physicists believed that electromagnetic waves propagated through the ether. But once the formulas for wave propagation were identified, the explanatory mechanism of the ether became not only unnecessary, but a hindrence.

Many hope that consciousness comes from beyond and is channeled into the brain via an antenna of some sort. If the antenna is not the pineal gland, then maybe it is the probalistic uncertainties of quantum mechanics or special properties of carbon. This way of looking at things keeps consciousness in the driver's seat of agency and out of reach of deterministic processes.

We will still need to explain how information gets into and out of consciousness. And I think we will find that the hypothesis of the consciousness-generating medium becomes an unnecessary element of the equation.

Until someone has developed convincing consciousness in the lab, this question may be undecidable. :-)
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Rick
post Sep 14, 2005, 09:05 AM
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QUOTE (Paul King @ Sep 13, 08:42 PM)
Until someone has developed convincing consciousness in the lab, this question may be undecidable. :-)

It will still be undecidable. Because of the privacy of consciouness, nobody will believe any claim of "consciousness in the lab."
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Paul King
post Sep 26, 2005, 02:37 PM
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QUOTE (Rick @ Sep 14, 09:05 AM)
Because of the privacy of consciouness, nobody will believe any claim of "consciousness in the lab."


This is making a presumption about what people will believe.

People believe all kinds of things. People believe that:
  • there is a God despite lack of evidence
  • humans have walked on the moon despite the lack of direct experience and the superficial absurdity of the idea
  • "life begins at conception" despite a scientific consensus that this is not a meaningful or testable notion
Most people fully accept the idea of conscious robots as depicted in science fiction movies -- at least while they are watching the movie.

The idea of conscious machines seems to be something people are ready to believe provided that two criteria are met:
1. the machine seems conscious in its behavior.
2. the machine is impressively insightful during a conversation using human language
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Rick
post Sep 26, 2005, 02:49 PM
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Perhaps I should have qualified my statement better:

"No accomplished critical thinker will beleive any claim of consciousness in the lab."

By "seems conscious" in its behavior, it might be meant that the robot behaves in a manner similar to beings we know to be consious. That is, it emulates intelligent behavior. It should be noted that consciousness has not been shown to be necessary for intelligence. It is a completely separate question. Unconscious intelligent computers are the goal of many AI researchers. Some researchers just assume that when intelligence of computers increases to some threshold level they will somehow magically become conscious. Others might not make that assumption.
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Unknown
post Sep 26, 2005, 07:17 PM
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QUOTE (Rick @ Sep 26, 02:49 PM)
Perhaps I should have qualified my statement better:

"No accomplished critical thinker will beleive any claim of consciousness in the lab."

By "seems conscious" in its behavior, it might be meant that the robot behaves in a manner similar to beings we know to be consious. That is, it emulates intelligent behavior. It should be noted that consciousness has not been shown to be necessary for intelligence. It is a completely separate question. Unconscious intelligent computers are the goal of many AI researchers. Some researchers just assume that when intelligence of computers increases to some threshold level they will somehow magically become conscious. Others might not make that assumption.

Consciousness is not outside the realm of science. Claims of consciousness will simply require firsthand experience for validation.
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Rick
post Sep 27, 2005, 10:03 AM
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And exactly how is my experience of an artificial entity's conciousness to be obtained?
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Unknown
post Sep 27, 2005, 11:17 AM
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QUOTE (Rick @ Sep 27, 10:03 AM)
And exactly how is my experience of an artificial entity's conciousness to be obtained?

The brain is a complicated thing and is currently infeasible to replicate or mimic through technological means. This does not imply it is impossible to replicate other organism's brain states in ourselves; only that the technology and know-how is not currently available. Optimistically, it's just a matter of time, and is not a question of whether it can be done in theory.
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Rick
post Sep 27, 2005, 04:03 PM
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I question whether it can be done in theory. For it to be theoretically possible requires that there be some theory of consciousness that is valid. I don't think that has yet been established, and whether it can ever be established is also problematical.
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Paul King
post Oct 03, 2005, 08:48 PM
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QUOTE (Rick @ Sep 27, 10:03 AM)
And exactly how is my experience of an artificial entity's conciousness to be obtained?

One approach is that you sit down at a terminal and communicate with it by typing until you get to know it.

One could imagine a computer equiped with voice synthesis. Could it be distinguished from a conversation with the physicist Stephen Hawking who uses a voice synthesizer?

A machine that can move around and interact with the world (a robot of some sort) would be more interesting because one can do meaningful things with it and discuss shared experiences. Maybe take it out to a movie.

Like with a new theory of physics, there will be those who are unpersuadable. They will reject anything that is not indistinguishable from human.

Turning the question around, is there anything that would convince you?

What if one of us on this bulliten board was a machine?
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Trip like I do
post Oct 03, 2005, 11:10 PM
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QUOTE (Paul King @ Sep 13, 10:42 PM)
We will still need to explain how information gets into and out of consciousness.

....through saturation!
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Rick
post Oct 04, 2005, 10:05 AM
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QUOTE (Paul King @ Oct 03, 09:48 PM)
Turning the question around, is there anything that would convince you?

I can't be an artifice because I was made by a man (and a woman)!

An artificial machine that could discuss physics intelligently wouldn't necessarily be conscious. There is one activity that does require experience with consciousness, however, and that is philosophy, specifically, ontology.

Descartes claimed to prove that he existed by saying "I think, therefore I am." He had to be conscious of thinking to believe that claim. Any conscious robot would be likely to understand that argument. Never mind that the claim is strictly incorrect. A statement closer to the truth is "I think, therefore thinking exists."

However, an unconscious robot could still falesly claim to be conscious. This is a really hard problem, and as I mentioned before, probably not solvable. We need to find a test that will prove that artificial consciousness exists.

Suppose we encounter an artificial being who claims to be conscious. What set of questions (key) could there be that, when answered correctly, would prove or disprove it? I think the correct answers are computable, and therefore answerable by unconscious computers.

Here's the proof: complete knowledge of English syntax and semantics is obtainable by artificial devices (computers). Some answers to key questions will be considered to be correct by humans. Humans will be able to communicate with other humans about why those answers are correct. That is, humans will necessarily agree on any any set of questions that can define consciousness, if such a set of questions should exist. Therefore, the correct answers must be computable because they are communicatable.
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LifeMirage
post Jan 22, 2006, 10:37 PM
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I choose to view it as electrochemical energy.
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Paul King
post Apr 14, 2008, 06:34 PM
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I just returned from the Tucson consciousness conference and have this topic on my mind again

QUOTE(Rick @ Oct 04, 2005, 10:05 AM) *
> Turning the question around, is there anything that would convince you?
An artificial machine that could discuss physics intelligently wouldn't necessarily be conscious.
....
However, an unconscious robot could still falesly claim to be conscious. This is a really hard problem, and as I mentioned before, probably not solvable.


QUOTE(Unknown @ Sep 26, 2005, 07:17 PM) *
Claims of consciousness will simply require firsthand experience for validation

I think this is what it comes down to.

Consciousness is an interior subjective space which can only be tested by another interior subjective space (another person) over the course of unscripted interaction.

If there was an objective test that did not involved subjective assessment by another conscious being, the test would need a defined answer, and a machine could cheat by providing the answer according to the definition of the test.

If a machine that did not seem conscious passed an objective test, I think people would simply say that the test must have been in error and they would create a more sophisticated test. In other words, the ultimate test for consciousness is the consensus view of people, not what a test says. And people may not agree.

However if there was an intelligent, conversational machine that acted conscious (think of most androids in sci-fi movies), then I think most regular people would accept it as conscious and not really understand what the debate was about. Similarly people often accept dogs as conscious, but there is no test really. Dogs meet the medical definition of consciousness, which means they are awake rather than asleep or dead, but they lack language and abstract reasoning skills, so they are not conscious in the same way humans are.

A subjective human interaction test of consciousness (the Turing Test) would be the most trusted test, but it would not be infallable.

Phiolospher's of Mind who obsess about the "hard problem" may never be convinced by any machine whose algorithm is knowable. If neuroscientists ever map out the full biochemical mechanism cascade of human consciousness, these Philosopher's of Mind may be forced to reconsider the existence of human consciousness. smile.gif
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Rick
post Apr 15, 2008, 11:25 AM
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Alan Turing's Test is of intelligence, it's not a test of consciousness. These two concepts are sometimes conflated in discussions like this.

Complicating it still further, there are some who think that consciousness is a requirement for intelligence (Penrose, for example).

I think most will agree we can be conscious and unintelligent. It think that machines can be intelligent and unconscious. They are separate things, but are, of course, related when it comes to human brains.
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P.j.S
post Oct 04, 2009, 09:03 AM
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QUOTE(Rick @ Apr 15, 2008, 11:25 AM) *

Alan Turing's Test is of intelligence, it's not a test of consciousness. These two concepts are sometimes conflated in discussions like this.

Complicating it still further, there are some who think that consciousness is a requirement for intelligence (Penrose, for example).

I think most will agree we can be conscious and unintelligent. It think that machines can be intelligent and unconscious. They are separate things, but are, of course, related when it comes to human brains.


Does a car alternator make friends with the alternator of another vehicle? Hardly! But the consciousness of the alternator rests with the inventor of the alternator. That one knows that the machice will eventually wear out. The inventor is a conscious being that can pass the intelligence of alternators on to other conscious beings.

Therefore regarding alternators some conscious beings have intelligence of them and some do not. Alternators themselves are not conscious and therefore can't use such conciousness to think with. They can only inform the observer of the intelligence of the maker by studying the design.

A lot of individuals who study nature realize from the design that it must have taken a fantastic intelligence to make it - thus the reality of God and maker. Others do not think so. They believe they happened by chance.

But intelligence resting with the consciousness of the spirit knew how to make what is merely physical and use portions of the spirit to give what is physical a conscious life. Therefore what is merely physical could have an absolute start and then elapse in time with what was already spiritually existing.
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lucid_dream
post Oct 04, 2009, 09:53 AM
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QUOTE(Paul King @ Apr 14, 2008, 07:34 PM) *
If neuroscientists ever map out the full biochemical mechanism cascade of human consciousness, these Philosopher's of Mind may be forced to reconsider the existence of human consciousness. smile.gif

knowing the full biochemical cascade is most likely not necessary. On the other hand, knowing precisely how neurons are connected, and thus knowing how information flows through the neural system, is necessary. We will have this answer shortly. The philosophers of mind are on the sidelines on this one, and are largely limited to cheering the neuroscientists along and to catching rides on their coat tails. The definitive theory of mind, and the solution to the myriad problems of consciousness, will not come from a philosopher but from a neuroscientist, because it is the neuroscientist who remains focused on the mystery, the neural substrate, whereas the philosopher only has recourse to generating vacuous verbiage that is detached from the neural reality. Of course, I could be biased here.

I would be curious if anything useful came out of the Tucson conference. Any new clues to resolving the problems of consciousness, or to better approaching the mind-brain problem?
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Hey Hey
post Oct 05, 2009, 07:02 AM
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Consciousness is the brain's Wi-Fi, resolving competing requests, study suggests.

SAN FRANCISCO, Sept. 30, 200

http://www.sfsu.edu/~news/prsrelea/fy09/008.html
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Bionetwork
post Feb 04, 2012, 09:56 PM
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QUOTE(VietSteve @ Jul 22, 2005, 09:20 AM) *

What do you think about
self or consciousness? Is it biochemical or does
something exist beyond the physical?


I don't believe in consciousness. Our thoughts are generated in the neural network, which works biochemically. Obviously it is physical, the neurons are cells, just like any other cell. The more complex a neural network is, the more intelligent the species are. We're not separated from the rest of the Animal Kingdom by some magical consciousness, rather by being smarter. The nature of intelligence has been known for at least over half a century now. I think that people would benefit greatly by taking elementary interest in Neuroscience. There is so much knowledge available to us at our fingertips, that it is astounding how much of it is ignored and substituted by medieval superstition of souls and magic.
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Joesus
post Feb 05, 2012, 07:45 AM
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QUOTE(Bionetwork @ Feb 05, 2012, 05:56 AM) *

I don't believe in consciousness. Our thoughts are generated in the neural network, which works biochemically.

Since beliefs change.. and they are strictly mechanical in your determination, your beliefs are predisposed to obsolescence and irrelevance.
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Jakare
post Feb 05, 2012, 10:47 AM
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QUOTE(Joesus @ Feb 05, 2012, 04:45 PM) *

QUOTE(Bionetwork @ Feb 05, 2012, 05:56 AM) *

I don't believe in consciousness. Our thoughts are generated in the neural network, which works biochemically.

Since beliefs change.. and they are strictly mechanical in your determination, your beliefs are predisposed to obsolescence and irrelevance.

As long as you donīt get too attached to them to the point to not to be able to recognize when they have become obsolete and irrelevant there is no harm on it, otherwise...

Predisposition does not mean unavoidability as for sure you know.

Tell me Joesus, do you believe science has done any good at all for humanity lately? I think it has and that is the only thing with a little bit of sense in all the madness and caos that the subjetive experience of being human implies. Ok, that madness can be beautifull sometimes but pretending people to live under its influence, although it can be positive for some, is a step back for the human kind as a whole and would do more harm than good.

Conscience it is what it is, and Is Science purpose to find it out exactly or at least as aproximately as posible. But some say there is no need to find out, at least not in the scienceīs way and they offer us what, delusion, good intentions? The true knowledge? Enlightment? I am yet to see how to cure illness without science.

Not all beliefs change...they were just a few at first like that there will be a sunrise next day even if I die and I cant see it... and the amount of beliefs that doesnīt change is rising little by little day after day, month after month and year after year thanks to a science forced to be strictly mechanical-determinated in order to scape madness. Maybe a day will come when science could relax a bit when enough beliefs are fixed but that day is yet to arrive.

Maybe suffering is irrelevant and so it is any effort to heal it? Is Science put in a divine place that doesnīt deserve? Only God should be able to heal and give life back? So they say, but the fact is God is not doing it so...

So...conciousness yes, we were talking about that. If we are the universe becoming aware of itself then my conciousness is the same as yours (whoever read this) so at the end the universe is an insane entity talking alone to itself. [/
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Joesus
post Feb 05, 2012, 05:16 PM
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QUOTE(Jakare @ Feb 05, 2012, 06:47 PM) *


As long as you donīt get too attached to them to the point to not to be able to recognize when they have become obsolete and irrelevant there is no harm on it, otherwise...
No harm in anything really, but then everything subjective has its limits in appreciation and respect
QUOTE(Jakare @ Feb 05, 2012, 06:47 PM) *

Predisposition does not mean unavoidability as for sure you know.

Tell me Joesus, do you believe science has done any good at all for humanity lately?

Everything reflects desire and content of belief. Science is part and parcel to self discovery as is everything else.

QUOTE(Jakare @ Feb 05, 2012, 06:47 PM) *


Conscience it is what it is, and Is Science purpose to find it out exactly or at least as aproximately as posible.

Consciousness or conscience? They are related but one is subject to beliefs and personal ideals of morality and reality.
QUOTE(Jakare @ Feb 05, 2012, 06:47 PM) *
But some say there is no need to find out, at least not in the scienceīs way and they offer us what, delusion, good intentions? The true knowledge? Enlightment? I am yet to see how to cure illness without science.

Science in my determination is inclusive of self discovery and exploration of the personal reality, not to be strictly up to individuals with an agenda that is exclusive of the personal reality in self discovery. Unfortunately funding goes to those who meet an agenda. Not too many mainstream scientific projects are allocated to the idea of consciousness and the individual soul.
QUOTE(Jakare @ Feb 05, 2012, 06:47 PM) *

Maybe suffering is irrelevant and so it is any effort to heal it? Is Science put in a divine place that doesnīt deserve? Only God should be able to heal and give life back? So they say, but the fact is God is not doing it so...

There is no division really between science and God. Science like religion is a reflection of potential and the conscious direction of thought within belief and awareness of reality.

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Jakare
post Feb 06, 2012, 09:22 AM
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QUOTE(Joesus @ Feb 06, 2012, 02:16 AM) *

QUOTE(Jakare @ Feb 05, 2012, 06:47 PM) *


As long as you donīt get too attached to them to the point to not to be able to recognize when they have become obsolete and irrelevant there is no harm on it, otherwise...
No harm in anything really, but then everything subjective has its limits in appreciation and respect
QUOTE(Jakare @ Feb 05, 2012, 06:47 PM) *

Predisposition does not mean unavoidability as for sure you know.

Tell me Joesus, do you believe science has done any good at all for humanity lately?

Everything reflects desire and content of belief. Science is part and parcel to self discovery as is everything else.

QUOTE(Jakare @ Feb 05, 2012, 06:47 PM) *


Conscience it is what it is, and Is Science purpose to find it out exactly or at least as aproximately as posible.

Consciousness or conscience? They are related but one is subject to beliefs and personal ideals of morality and reality.
QUOTE(Jakare @ Feb 05, 2012, 06:47 PM) *
But some say there is no need to find out, at least not in the scienceīs way and they offer us what, delusion, good intentions? The true knowledge? Enlightment? I am yet to see how to cure illness without science.

Science in my determination is inclusive of self discovery and exploration of the personal reality, not to be strictly up to individuals with an agenda that is exclusive of the personal reality in self discovery. Unfortunately funding goes to those who meet an agenda. Not too many mainstream scientific projects are allocated to the idea of consciousness and the individual soul.

It was Consciousness sorry. The funding problems is not especific of science but of many other fields aswell as politics, social help, religious organizations and so on. An inevitable evil I am afraid.

QUOTE(Joesus @ Feb 06, 2012, 02:16 AM) *

QUOTE(Jakare @ Feb 05, 2012, 06:47 PM) *

Maybe suffering is irrelevant and so it is any effort to heal it? Is Science put in a divine place that doesnīt deserve? Only God should be able to heal and give life back? So they say, but the fact is God is not doing it so...

There is no division really between science and God.

Thatīs exactly how I feel. Just pretend for a moment God does exist smile.gif In such case Science is just another tool or piece in a bigger plan or scheme, nothing happens without his knowledge. But if God doesnt exist then science is doing what it is needed anyway.
Maybe thatīs way although I donīt believe in God I feel fully satisfied (or nearly) with the way I am actually managing my life to the point having a kind of feeling of 'Godīs approval' which is quite inconsistent with my atheist but quite convenient.
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Joesus
post Feb 06, 2012, 01:57 PM
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QUOTE(Jakare @ Feb 06, 2012, 05:22 PM) *

QUOTE

There is no division really between science and God.

Thatīs exactly how I feel. Just pretend for a moment God does exist smile.gif In such case Science is just another tool or piece in a bigger plan or scheme, nothing happens without his knowledge. But if God doesnt exist then science is doing what it is needed anyway.
Maybe thatīs way although I donīt believe in God I feel fully satisfied (or nearly) with the way I am actually managing my life to the point having a kind of feeling of 'Godīs approval' which is quite inconsistent with my atheist but quite convenient.

Well, the determination of what God is.. becomes subject to beliefs and all of the baggage that goes with it.

My experience of What God is or isn't, is much bigger than an authoritative reference to personal or abstract measure.
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Jakare
post Feb 06, 2012, 02:41 PM
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QUOTE(Joesus @ Feb 06, 2012, 10:57 PM) *


My experience of What God is or isn't, is much bigger than an authoritative reference to personal or abstract measure.


And I am sure you have worked hard and invested a considerable amount of time to achieve such experience but...what can be said to a man (or a woman) who has already decided his own priorities and roughly where is he going to invest his time in? The thing is life is short and big plans require time. Many things need to be done regardless godīs existence.

Consciousness is a desirable state all the same with god or without it, but I can admit that a strong belief in god can act as a catalytic and give advantage to those with faith. That is how I fit you in my system of beliefs Joesus.

Letīs say I have experienced glimpses of conciousness-ish (maybe) how can you turn something you have briefly experienced in a continuous state of being? And, is it normal to feel like an alien? Detached from normal human feelings, from their uses and cultural habits?
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