4. Nature of Consciousness
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You believe (though in fact it is not true) that you are a material being
in a material world when in fact you are an intangible spirit (function) and
know nothing of the material world. I
will show you how this is so. How
can our minds have a true notion of being material when the contents of our
notions, thoughts, perceptions and ‘selves’ are not physical but are only
transient computations of our brains? Experience
is a material characteristic of the brain. I will explain its relationship to
representations in our minds refer to an assumed external environment, I want
you to consider the possibility that maybe the kind of environment that is
assumed does not exist. The
adherents to the branch of philosophical thinking known as idealism believe
there is no external environment. They
believe the only world is the one in our minds. There is no way to disprove
idealism because we are not able to consider any evidence for an external world
except in our minds. I am certain
that there is an external environment, but I am suggesting that it is not the
one we imagine. We can show that there is the highest probability of an external
environment by demonstrating how the functional organization of our minds is
designed to interact with the organization of an external world. Nevertheless, we are not correct in assuming to know what the
external environment is.
external environment does not have an appearance yet our minds give it one.
The world as it is represented in our minds is at times dull or colorful,
soft or hard, heavy or light, large or small, noisy or quiet, hot or cold, far
or near, fast or slow but these representations are nothing like what the
external world is. We assume to
know what the physical world is on account of our representations of it.
The fact is that we don’t know the ‘what-it-is-like to be-ness’ of
the physical world because our minds cannot reach beyond the limitation of being
minds, of being something themselves and not being able to be the things (other
than the mind itself) that a mind can think about. We process representations of things, not the physical things
themselves. We are imprisoned
within our minds in such a way that the true quality of the physical world
eludes us. Scientists speak of
sensorial experience (sights, sounds, tastes, smells, feelings) as not having a
known place in physics, as physics is currently understood. The reason that scientists are frustrated by not being able
to decipher what experience is, is that they
are oblivious to the fact that they do not know what it is to be physical.
It is an error in their perspective. They
believe that they are observing the physical world when in fact perceptions are
inextricably locked in our minds and we can have no proper idea of what being
physical is. We perceive only one
aspect of the physical world and that is its functional aspect, which is
intangible. Physics is based on the
observation of this functional aspect. The world’s physical aspect
(what-it-is-like to be some thing) eludes us completely and always will because
of the what it means to know and to be a ‘self’ that knows.
notions and ‘selves’ are isolated from the material world by being mental
products of our brains. Our
thoughts, the objects that we ‘see’, the words that we hear or those we
think and our ‘selves’ are only just transient computations in our brain.
They are passing experiences in a virtual realm of representation.
They can no more comprehend what-it-is-like to be something physical than
could a calculation in a computer. The
stimulation of our external sense organs causes activity in our brains but it
does not carry any of the ‘what-it-is-like to be-ness’ of the object to
which the stimulus is referenced. Even
if that were possible, it would still not enter into the virtual realm of
thoughts and notions. Thoughts and
notions are mere patterns passing on the material substrate of the brain. The thoughts and notions are not in the substrate; rather
they are in the patterns, which are supervening on the substrate. All the
elements of our minds, our ‘selves’ and our consciousness (everything that
we know and are) emanate from the specificity of relationships in the physical
brain. The cognitive qualities of those elements are qualities deriving from the
specifications of the relationships themselves and not from the substrate
supporting the relationships. You
could say that the relationships in the substrate hold knowledge that the
substrate cannot know about. Notions held in patterns are in a virtual and/or
intangible realm. All that we
consider to be our thoughts, knowledge, perceptions and also every aspect of our
‘selves’ are intangible patterns in the substrate.
If the organization of the substrate is disassembled as happens in death,
then thought, knowledge, perception and ‘self’ all disappear because they
only existed in the specificity of the brain’s organization.
The external world, as it is represented in the mind, also emanates from
the organization of relationships in the brain.
Representations of the environment in the mind cannot convey what the
environment is. It
is not possible for us to have a true notion of what it is to be physical.
that we consider being the external environment is presented to us as imagery in
the media of experience. Experience is a physical quality of the material brain.
The media of experience can be manipulated by the mind into images of
infinite variety. Images have an ephemeral character.
Their substance is the changing form of the experiential substrate.
The images themselves are intangible.
They are the illusive edge, sameness
or difference in color or tone or patterns
of organization and change. The
same applies in the other sensory modalities, emotions, feelings and etc.
searching our minds for some way to comprehend physical-ness, it should become
apparent that the only thing that is some thing
about our conscious circumstance is
experience. There is nothing else going on in our conscious minds that we
would label as something that we would not also label as experience.
The images that pass through our minds are actors and sets in the
navigation process. They form a Map
that we think is the world. The forms of the actors, the sets and the patterns of their
interactions are only manifest as consciousness because they are in a substrate
that is experiential.
One could infer from our mental behavior that there are also actors and
sets represented on the physical substrate of the brain that are not
experiential. Of those there is no
consciousness just because they are not experiential.
We would experience no joy or color in a sunset if there were no
experiential characteristic of the substrate processing the stimulus of the
sunset. The experiences of color
and feeling are swept along in a dance created by the mind as it reacts to the
visual stimulus. We would not hear
or feel the movement of our thoughts if the phenomena of experience did not
exist. Experience is a
characteristic of the substrate, not a function of it as is information
processing. Experience tags along.
The nature of information processing is intangible and because it is
something that is not a material thing it certainly cannot have a characteristic
like experience that is something. Remember
from my explanation of intangible affecters that evidence of their existence
only exists in their affects on material things.
There is no realm in which they themselves exist apart from the things
that they affect. It is a tough
concept until you have understood it well.
It seems that we must abandon the idea of a true notion of the physical but we do know about something physical. That is experience. Because we are trapped in consciousness, experience is the only physical something about which we do know. Juxtapose those facts in your mind. We don’t know what-it-is-like to be physical but we do know what experience is like. (Common linguistic concepts are not sophisticated enough in this field to mean exactly what I want to say. It is more correct to say that the mind can point at experience than it is to say that it can know it because experience is in the physical realm while knowing is in the intangible realm.)
is worthwhile to consider how we can know that experience is something.
If we only thought that experience were something, then there would be no
experience to fill the images (figuratively speaking) of our consciousness and
we would not experience consciousness.
We would not be conscious. This is so because images are intangible, are merely
the criteria for forms that must be begotten from something.
If the experiential aspect of consciousness were only
thought to exist then it too would be intangible, not a thing.
The edges and qualities of an experiential image are intangible criteria
that make the experiential substrate of an image into something distinct
with a role in the contextual relationships of the Map’s functional path.
I should note again that not all images are experiential images.
Images define the boundaries of physical states. They are only
experiential when the physical states are experiential.
It is by understanding in contrast that images/forms/patterns are not
things that I am having you realize that experience is something.
withstanding the world’s intangible aspect, I believe the world is/has only a
material/physical/substantial existence. I hope that I have demonstrated to you
that thought and the formation of conscious imagery are intangible processes.
It is important here to understand that these intangible processes are
affecters but are not something in themselves; they are only revealed in the
material things they affect. It is
a hard new concept but what is important about it is that it is necessary to
explain events and that it doesn’t create classic dualism.
It is just an aspect of the material world that hasn’t been properly
understood. But here, all I need is
your appreciation that there are no dogs chasing cats in my brain but only the
interactive forms of the experiential substrate representing them. We cannot find any something-ness about dog-ness in our minds
except the experiential aspect of the substrate in which a dog is modeled.
Dog-ness is more than just the experiential aspect of an image.
It is also the image and a set of interactions of the image of the dog
with other conscious images. This
aspect of dog-ness is intangible. It
arises out of the contextual relationships of the images, what they are doing.
If you were able to freeze-frame the dog chasing the cat so that it was a
still and then took away your understanding of how the images function together,
there would be nothing left except experience which is all that is substantial
about perception in the first place. The
dog and the cat would be shapes without meaning.
It is what they do in relationship to each other that is the genesis of
meaning and meaningful behavior. The
aspect of meaning and behavior is an intangible overlay.
It is the way that the relationships of the underlying experiential forms
change, that gives meaning to a dog chasing a cat.
world that we perceive is a model in our brains; it is not the world that we
look at. It is a Map used for
computing navigation. The
foundation of the Map is the configuration of brain states into images. The brain states contribute sensorial characteristics to
consciousness for the simple reason that they are experiential.
The interactive relationships of the images in the Map reflect the
activity of intangible processes overlaying (shaping, directing and controlling)
brain states. The whole gambit of
our conscious experiences are explained by the dual aspect of an experiential
foundation being overlayed (shaped, directed and controlled) by intangible
processes. Everything in the world is happening for us within the tiny spaces of
our brains. The richness of our
living experience demonstrates the awesome power of the human mind to process
that we can know about anything is function, how something behaves.
We can’t know what it is like
to be anything, not even experience. Our
minds can point at our own experiential states but we do not know
what it is like to experience per se. We
would not seem to know about
experience if experience were not a characteristic of brain states supporting
information processing. The
physical state of which experience is a physical characteristic is the physical
substrate of the information processing that creates knowledge about the
experience. Consider an analogy.
The machinery in the engine and drive train of a car produces the
function of propelling the car. The machinery is not the same thing as the function it
produces. The function is in an
intangible realm whereas the machinery is in the physical realm.
(See the papers on intangible affecters for a clearer understanding of
this distinction.) Analogously,
experience is in the physical realm and the awareness of the experience is in
the intangible realm. There can’t
be knowledge of experience because they are in different realms but that
doesn’t matter because they both stem from the same physical foundation and
are concurrent. On account of their
physical connection, experience is occurring when information that is putatively
about that experience is occurring. There
constant conjunction (or at least the potential for constant conjunction) makes
it seem that we know of our experience. The
machinery of an automobile produces a characteristic function.
The machinery of a physical substrate that has the characterisitic
experience of red, for example, would also produce a characteristic function,
the one that is information about red. It
is because of a common supporting physical process that there is a conjunction
of knowing and experiencing so that, for instance, if one is describing a tomato
in one’s hand as being red, the experience of red, the idea of red, and even
the vocalization of the word red can be in conjunction. The experience of red
happens at the same time as the idea of red because of having supporting states
in common. The false idea of
knowing of experience sets a ‘knower’ apart from the experience and implies
that somehow the ‘knower’ knows or experiences the experience.
The fundamental distinction between a ‘knower’ and experience is that
the first is an intangible construct and the other is a physical state.
They are not in the same realm except for the conjunction of their
commonly supporting states and therefore the idea of knowing the quality of
experience must be false. The idea
of red, on the other hand, because it is physically associated with the means of
creating the experiential state of red, can cause the experience to occur such
as happens in imagining red. I am
making the most reasonable assumption that because the idea of red was learned
in conjunction with the experience of red that they are associated and therefore
can be co-causing of each other neurophysiologically.
just happens that the patterns of the mind entrain physical experience such as
vision but as automated radar guided navigation demonstrates, the experience of
vision is not necessary to sight. The
experience of vision is just what it is like to be a particular state of your
brain. It is not the experience of
vision that enables us to navigate. Rather
it is how the physical substrate, of which it is a characteristic, functions in
the processing patterns of navigation. Yet,
we can’t say that the characteristic of experience is epiphenomenal.
It is not the appearance of something being ‘looked at’ as we might
have thought when we considered it to be the appearance of an object.
Experience is the physicality of the working brain.
It is not just a non-essential appearance as the idea that it might be
epiphenomenal suggests. The
functional properties of a brain state characterized by the experience of red
would be different than one characterized by blue or one with no experiential
property. The question of why
evolution would select for the experience of red if it does not create an
advantage is inappropriate. Red is
what it is like to be something and not what it is like to do something.
experience consciousness on account of evolution’s selection of an analog
method of presenting a navigation Map. The
world is represented in the Map in the form of images, which aggregate and
organize the experiential properties of materials that would otherwise be
unorganized. Further, those formed
images in the material realm are associated to information processes in the
virtual or intangible realm on account of their emanating in part from the same
physical processes in the brain. For
that reason, information processes can point at experience such that it seems to
us that we are aware of our experiences. Experience
has to be a primary characteristic of (being) something material in order for
the experience of consciousness to be possible.
The two other critical aspects of the structure of consciousness are the
aggregation of experience in the formation of images and a cognitive recognition
of their existence. Should this
leave you wondering if there is something experiential that it is to be like the
Universe, then keep in mind that unless experience is part of an information
processing function there would be no awareness of the experience.
Consciousness is a very unique phenomenon.
There is much to understand about the information processing aspect of
intangible affecters is essential to the understanding of those processes.
explanation of consciousness conforms to my belief that there is only a material
world. Despite that, we have no
true notion of what it means to be physical/material.
We have no access to the world outside of our minds. Our minds are an
information process that creates our ‘selves’ , our sense of being an
observer, a subject of experience and the world that we observe and experience.
Information and information processing are intangibles that arise out of
the specificity of dynamic relationships in the brain.
Experience is the only characteristic of consciousness that is something. Because experience is
something doesn’t it have to be material?
Experience is what-it-is-like to be a particular state of something
physical in our brain.
The belief that oneself is a subject of experience is untenable to be seriously considering the subject of consciousness. Being a subject of experience is an idea that a mind has. All aspects of our ‘selves’’, whether they are the sense of being an observer or a subject of experience, are intangible functions that are shaping, directing and controlling brain states (and therefore, experiences) that support the intangible functions. Experience just is and it will exist in a conscious brain whether a ‘self’ exists there or not. If we find that we are trying to experience our experiences, then we haven’t caught on. We are being driven by a false idea. The idea that you are the subject of your experiences is at the axiomatic level of the epistemological structure of your perspective where your present point of view about what mind is doesn’t work because it is axiomatically incorrect.
It is this difference between being experience and having experience that is hard to grasp. The superficial insistence of the ‘self’ on having a point of view preemptively obscures a correct perspective. The ‘self’ is a cybernetic entity and agent that has a vested interest in its own perpetuation. It is invested in zillions of memory tracks as the experiencer. Your ‘self’ will find it threatening to consider that you may not be the subject of experience, that maybe you are not so in control of your relationship to the world as you think and that maybe you don’t really exist as you think you do. You have to see the harmony that the new perspective I have presented brings to the philosophy of mind to want to make these changes. But, to believe that you ‘experience’ when experience is primary to your ‘self’ in the structure of consciousness is to be philosophically lost. (I can’t make out that it is too important to be so wise. Millions of people will live happily without knowing all this.)
It is clear that experience is a characteristic of the physical brain but there is still much exciting territory to puzzle over in understanding the neural correlates of experience. We will not be able to appreciate what experience is if we don’t advance beyond trying to experience it. There is no subject of experience. There is only a ‘self’ that has lived a life of illusion.