CONSCIOUSNESS STUDIES

Let chaos storm! 
Let cloud shapes swarm! 
I wait for form. 

Robert Frost

ALTMAN
Christopher Altman
Silicon-Based Consciousness
The study of consciousness and its origins has experienced radical breakthroughs with the advent of emerging technologies in the field of neuroscience. Once overcast with a veil of mystery, the inner workings of the brain have undergone profound illuminations made possible by rapid advances in the computing industry, coupled with insights gleaned through medical science. New technologies such as MRI scanning have enabled scientists to understand the neurological correlates of mental processes in ever finer detail, allowing them to glimpse the interior of a fully-functioning brain in real-time. However, even with these exponential advances in the field of consciousness, laying a theoretical foundation to explain precisely how it arises currently remains a cryptic and insurmountable task. The most important scientific discovery of our time will be when this problem is resolved.

PROPOSED THEORIES OF CONSCIOUSNESS

The scientific community has generally accepted that consciousness is an emergent system-level feature of neurophysiological processes. Exactly how our individual subjective experiences arise has been a matter of long-standing debate in both scientific and philosophical circles, but there are a number of currently proposed theories that attempt to resolve the mystery of consciousness. Among these theories are
(1) consciousness is a feature of synchronized resonance within neurons in the frontal cortex,
(2) consciousness results through the mechanism of quantum coherence in neuron microtubules, and
(3) consciousness is an emergent property of complex systems.

Ch. Altman
synchronized resonance:

SINGER Wolf 
Das falsche Rot der Rose 
DER SPIEGEL  1.1.2001 

ALTMAN
Christopher Altman
Silicon-Based Consciousness

FREEMAN WALTER
How Brains Make Up Their Mind 
Phoenix 1999 

Roth Gerhard 
Fühlen, Denken, Handeln 
Wie das Gehirn unser Verhalten steuert 
Suhrkamp 2001
Seite 213
Was ist Bewußtsein?

Bewusstsein gilt als ein geistiger oder »mentaler« Zustand, und deshalb entzieht sich für viele dieses Phänomen grundsätzlich einer naturwissenschaftlich-neurobiologischen Erklärung. Wir müssen uns deshalb fragen, ob die Hiruforschung sagen kann, was Bewußtsein ist, wie es im Gehirn zustande kommt und welche Rolle Bewußtsein bei der Kognition spielt.
Philosophen, Psychologen, Psychiater und Neurologen verwenden den Begriff »Bewußtsein« oft verschieden. Ich will mich im Einklang mit den meisten Autoren auf Bewußtsein als einen Zustand, den ein Individuum haben kann, beschränken und alle Formen eines möglichen überindividuellen Bewußtseins außer acht lassen. Dieses individuelle Bewußtsein wird von uns als Zustand bzw. Begleitzustand von Wahrnehmen, Erkennen, Vorstellen, Erinnern und Handeln empfunden.


emergent properties of complex systems:

YATES
F. Eugene Yates
THE LOGIC OF LIFE
Self-organising Systems
 

EDELMANN GERALD 
THE UNIVERSE OF CONSCIOUSNESS 
How Matter becomes Imagination 
 Basic 2000

CAPRA FRITJOF 
Ursprung von Geist und Bewusstsein 
Peter Walde, Pier Luigi Luisi (Hrsg.) 
Vom Ursprung des Universums zu Evolution des Geistes 

Steve Grand
CREATION
Life and How to Make it
Phoenix 2001
pg65: 
Keywords: Life - LEVELS OF BEING - Autocatalysis - Membrane - templates (MUSTER - patterns) - navigare necesse est - Adaption - Adaptive behaviour- Intelligence - self-awareness - tower of persistent systems: photons, particles, atoms, molecules, autocatalytic networks, self reproducing systems, adaptive systems, intelligence and mind - society. - Autocatalytic networks that can move will survive better than those that can't. -adaptive behaviour can emerge from essentially the same kinds of regulatory mechanism already employed by autocatalytic networks. So this rudimentary form of intelligence can be seen as the next rung of the ladder of mechanisms for persistence - another level of being.- This ability to react to events after they have happened can get an organism a long way, but not nearly as far as pre-adaptation can. In other words, reacting to an existing opportunity or problem is not as effective as predicting it and changing one's behaviour appropriately before the opportunity has time to go away or before the damage is inflicted. Intelligence is perhaps a term that should be reserved for systems that can predict the future. - Reflecting on the future - Primitive forms of learning - At some stage in the history of persistent phenomena, something genuinely new and rather special emerged: a mechanism somehow became capable of being aware of its own existence and able to reflect on its own present, past and future. Such a capacity allows an organism to contemplate and cogitate, to rehearse and imagine, to place itself in someone else's shoes.
This is
self-awareness. - Use your own consciousness to reflect on this fact: mind is another persistent phenomena on - something that has come into being and now won't go away: Mind is not different from matter and yet it is not matter, nor is the property of matter; both matter and mind are made of the same non-stuff. - The Tower of Persistent Systems: We now have quite a towering hierarchy of more more sophisticated forms of persistence: photons, particles, atoms, molecules, autocatalytic networks, self reproducing systems, adaptive systems, intelligence and mind.

Susan Blackmore
The Case of the Mysterious Mind :
..why appearance is reality, why meaning takes time, and why the mind is a text
...every moment of awareness is a pile of interpretations all in superposition. A single state of mind is layered with harmonics of meaning - yet somehow remains one experience.
...Daniel Dennett, a philosopher at Tufts University in Massachusetts and author of Consciousness Explained, defines a mystery as something "that people don't know how to think about - yet". He calls consciousness "just about the last surviving mystery".
The trouble lies with subjectivity, or "what it is like" being me now. For example, I am right now having the experience of sitting in this room, with all its many sights, sounds and feels. My experience seems to be private, fleeting, ungraspable and utterly undeniable, and this is what we mean by consciousness.
..But how can this subjective experience relate to the objective world around me and to the physical brain inside my head? Real, physical things like rooms and brains seem to be of a completely different order from subjective, conscious experiences. (cf. Steve Grand Creation pg 28)

We face what Australian philosopher David Chalmers of the University of Arizona calls the "hard problem" - the impossibility of seeing how the activity of brain cells can possibly give rise to subjective experience.
...recurrent neural networks, high-resolution brain scanning, multidimensional scaling and the practice of phenomenology.....
.."transparent theory of consciousness".
The task, then, is to find a way of describing what the brain does that fits phenomenology. Lloyd claims that conventional theories cannot do the job, but that simple, recurrent neural networks can.
..Neural networks are computer simulations of the way real brains might work.The task, then, is to find a way of describing what the brain does that fits phenomenology. Lloyd claims that conventional theories cannot do the job, but that simple, recurrent neural networks can.

Neural networksTypically, they consist of several layers of highly interconnected units, each of which represents a neuron: an input layer, an output layer and some hidden layers in between. The strength of the connections between the units changes with new inputs, and the state of the whole complicated network determines what its output will be. These artificial neural networks have been highly influential in cognitive science.
In 1990, Jeffrey Elman, professor of cognitive science at the University of California, San Diego, proposed a new sort of "recurrent network" that has an extra "context layer". This copies the most recent state of a hidden layer and then presents it alongside the next input. (cf. Gerald Edelman: reentry, remembered present ) So, in effect, the network enfolds both past and present information. If brains are like this, claims Lloyd, a description of how they work might just match the phenomenological description of "now".
....In essence Lloyd claims a symmetry between mind and brain - that you can't step in the same stream of consciousness twice, and you can't have exactly the same brain twice.
(cf Walter Freeman Origins of Music -Neurobiology)
..the "hard problem" of why there is experience at all.


Francisco Varela
Security in insecurity
Poerksen: So the self of a human being would be, for you, an emergent pattern, too?
Varela: Exactly. This is one of the key ideas and a stroke of genius in today's cognitive science. There are the different functions and components that combine and together produce a transient, non-localisable, relationally formed self, which nevertheless manifests itself as a perceivable entity. We can greet this self, give it a name, interact with it in a predictable way, but we will never discover a neuron, a soul, or some core essence that constitutes the emergent self of a Francisco Varela or some other person. Any attempt to extricate a substance of this kind is misleading and bound to fail as both cognitive science and Buddhism demonstrate.
Poerksen: What are the implications of these ideas for classical ethics where the essentialist autonomous self is invoked as the addressee of the demands of the good and the beautiful? We might claim that giving up the idea of the autonomous self robs ethics of its foundations. Unexpectedly, the actor has gone missing. The autonomous, reflecting actor dissolves into emergent patterns.
Varela: This point of view derives, of course, from the Western conception that an autonomous individual is the prerequisite of an ethical relation. You envisage an individual that interacts with another individual in an ethical or an unethical way. I do not share the premises underlying this view; they are not at all convincing and they do not accord with the latest research results and the empirical data that support the idea that the mind is not a singular phenomenon but an intersubjective one. Recent data from child development research show that the very first actions of children are not primarily intended to strengthen the individual personality but always serve to build up relationships with other people. We develop our self precisely to the extent that other people have already attained such a self; the reflection in the other makes the other's awareness our own awareness. The situation manifesting itself here recalls the relations between organism and environment, subject and object. There is mutual determination; we cannot say who or what was first. This means: the view that the mind of an ethical actor is anchored somewhere inside that individual contradicts empirical data. The mind that we ascribe to an individual is, in a most interesting sense, already of a collective, intersubjective nature. What we are, as numerous experiments with primates and also diverse neurobiological results show, is to the same extent individual and non-individual: it belongs to the sphere of intersubjecivity.

ALTMAN
Christopher Altman
Silicon-Based Consciousness

ANTONIO DAMASIO 
DESCARTES' ERROR
EMOTION, REASON, AND THE HUMAN BRAIN
Grosset / Putnam 1994

GERALD EDELMANN 
THE UNIVERSE OF CONSCIOUSNESS
How Matter becomes Imagination
Basic 2000

William Calvin
How Brains Think

Stanley Krippner
The Epistemology and Technologies of Shamanic States of Consciousness

Nicholas Humphrey
A History of the Mind

JOHN McCRONE
Going Inside
A Tour round a Single Moment of Consciousness
Faber&Faber 1999
Grammatical speech put a motor into human thought, allowing our minds to break free of the tyranny of the present. We could then start going places in both our imagination and our memories. Our brains are still basically the same as an animal's, always reacting to whateverhas just been placed in front of them, but with words we can star feeding our brain fake moments - pseudo angles in. And this control over our state of mental representation gave us two new powers in particular: recollective memory and self-awareness

Denken -
Kognition -
Bewusstsein -
Computation -
Gehirn -

HOME            TEXTE