Consciousness & the Brain

No holds barred discussion on the Buddhadharma. Argue about rebirth, karma, commentarial interpretations etc. Be nice to each other.

Re: Consciousness & the Brain

Postby Dave The Seeker » Wed May 23, 2012 1:24 pm

Believing that consciousness exists outside the brain or physical existence is something one chooses to believe or not believe. It seems to me through your responses here that you are questioning your own beliefes.
You asked for what we believed and why we believed it.
I answered you and your reply was my answer was not acceptable to what you wanted to hear.

You seem to be standing on the grounds that something is not real, or acceptable until science can prove it. Science can not prove that something does or doesn't exist until it can be physically measured or seen to be or not be.
Also we have given you examples of what we believe, you have replied do your homework.
If we beilive consciousness exists outside the brain and physical realm, what homework is there to do?


I hope you find the answers you're looking for and wish you peace.


Kindest wishes, Dave
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They teach us that life is what life is; flawed.
Yet with tremendous potential for joy and fulfillment.
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If your path teaches you to act and exert yourself correctly and leads to spiritual realizations such as love, compassion and wisdom then obviously it's worthwhile.
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One whose mind is freed does not argue with anyone, he does not dispute with anyone. He makes use of the conventional terms of the world without clinging to them
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Re: Consciousness & the Brain

Postby Dechen Norbu » Wed May 23, 2012 2:41 pm

I've seen the tests he has conducted. Didn't see anything wrong with the methods. But my post was more to the point that the capacity to know others' minds directly should be a demonstrable skill, even if cognitively closed to others. But I have yet to see anyone demonstrate it. The door stands open...

It is, but I’m pretty sure those able to perform it will never go to Randi’s challenge. Nor will anyone with plain common sense. Even the so called skeptics are moving away from Randi, whose honesty is now seriously challenged both professionally and privately. The fact that you mention his “challenge” as an example goes to show how biased are your opinions.
The Randi Prize
Randi's main claim to fame is that he offers a million dollar prize to "any person or persons who can demonstrate any psychic, supernatural or paranormal ability of any kind under satisfactory observing conditions". According to the James Randi Educational Foundation web site, "JREF will not entertain any demand that the prize money be deposited in escrow, displayed in cash, or otherwise produced in advance of the test being performed."

The conditions for the prize are set out on the JREF web site Randi challenge

The rules are conceived by a showman not a scientist, and make little sense from a genuinely scientific point of view. The introduction to the rules states, "All tests must be designed in such a way that the results are self-evident, and no judging process is required." Most scientific research, including research in particle physics, clinical medicine, conventional psychology and parapsychology, depends on statistical results that need to be analysed by experts to judge the significance of what has happened. Practically all serious scientific research would fail to qualify for the Randi prize. Contenders have to pay for their own travelling expenses if they want to go to Randi to be tested: Rule 6: "All expenses such as transportation, accommodation and/or other costs incurred by the applicant/claimant in pursuing the reward, are the sole responsibility of the applicant/claimant." Also, applicants waive their legal rights: Rule 7: "When entering into this challenge, the applicant surrenders any and all rights to legal action against Mr. Randi, against any person peripherally involved and against the James Randi Educational Foundation, as far as this may be done by established statutes. This applies to injury, accident, or any other damage of a physical or emotional nature and/or financial, or professional loss, or damage of any kind." Applicants also give Randi complete control over publicity. Rule 3: "Applicant agrees that all data (photographic, recorded, written, etc.) of any sort gathered as a result of the testing may be used freely by the JREF."

For many years this "prize" has been Randi's stock-in-trade as a media skeptic, but even some other skeptics are skeptical about its value as anything but a publicity stunt. For example, CSICOP founding member Dennis Rawlins pointed out that not only does Randi act as "policeman, judge and jury" but quoted him as saying "I always have an out"! (Fate, October 1981). A leading Fellow of CSICOP, Ray Hyman, has pointed out, this "prize" cannot be taken seriously from a scientific point of view: "Scientists don't settle issues with a single test, so even if someone does win a big cash prize in a demonstration, this isn't going to convince anyone. Proof in science happens through replication, not through single experiments." Randi's fellow showman Loyd Auerbach, President of the Psychic Entertainers Association, is likewise sceptical about this "prize" and sees it as of no scientific value.


One example on how Randi blatantly lies, when trying to debunk an experiment by Rupert Sheldrake:

The January 2000 issue of Dog World magazine included an article on a possible sixth sense in dogs, which discussed some of my research. In this article Randi was quoted as saying that in relation to canine ESP, "We at the JREF [James Randi Educational Foundation] have tested these claims. They fail." No details were given of these tests.
I emailed James Randi to ask for details of this JREF research. He did not reply. He ignored a second request for information too.
I then asked members of the JREF Scientific Advisory Board to help me find out more about this claim. They did indeed help by advising Randi to reply. In an email sent on Februaury 6, 2000 he told me that the tests he referred to were not done at the JREF, but took place "years ago" and were "informal". They involved two dogs belonging to a friend of his that he observed over a two-week period. All records had been lost. He wrote: "I overstated my case for doubting the reality of dog ESP based on the small amount of data I obtained. It was rash and improper of me to do so."
Randi also claimed to have debunked one of my experiments with the dog Jaytee, a part of which was shown on television. Jaytee went to the window to wait for his owner when she set off to come home, but did not do so before she set off. In Dog World, Randi stated: "Viewing the entire tape, we see that the dog responded to every car that drove by, and to every person who walked by." This is simply not true, and Randi now admits that he has never seen the tape.


More:
Randi is not afraid to attack scientists who take an interest in subjects like telepathy, like Brian Josephson, Professor of Physics at Cambridge University. In 2001, on a BBC Radio program about Josephson’s interest in possible connections between quantum physics and consciousness, Randi said, “I think it is the refuge of scoundrels in many aspects for them to turn to something like quantum physics.” Josephson has a Nobel Prize in quantum physics. Randi has no scientific credentials. Of his current work, he writes, “We at the JREF are skilled in two directions: we know how people are fooled by others and we know how people fool themselves. We deal with hard, basic facts.” Yet in a review of his book The Supernatural A-Z: The Truth and the Lies, his fellow skeptic Susan Blackmore commented that the book “has too many errors to be recommended.” He has also been shown to invent "facts" and make up evidence.


Another analysis of the so called challenge by Michael Prescott:

http://michaelprescott.typepad.com/mich ... lenge.html

and another:

http://dailygrail.com/features/the-myth ... -challenge

While not ignoring that these guys are in the opposite side of Randi’s beliefs, the fact remains that their criticisms are valid.
Randi is a liar and a crusader for materialism.



This is the second time you've accused me of parroting new atheists movement propaganda. What such propaganda exactly have I been parroting?

Just as an example, suggesting that the Randi’s challenge has any merit to make your case when it has none.

This topic has nothing to do with theism/atheism or even materialism, and I have quoted no one part of the new atheist movement.

New atheist movement, CSICOP, CSI, these are all the same crew. Your arguments are exactly the sort of stuff they present. If it walks like a duck and it quacks like a duck…

Once again, I've merely stated what science has been able to indicate at this point and asked a question of Buddhists here. Criticizing materialists or science is not an attempt to form an argument in your favor.

Science at this point has been able to indicate that apparently there are neural correlates of mental phenomena. A causal relation is a guess based on metaphysical predilections, not scientific facts. In vulgar terms, it’s a mere belief and you try to pass it as more plausible then others. This suffers from a myopic ethnocentrism that alienates itself from other avenues of knowledge developed by different civilizations and methodologies. Buddhists have a long history of observing mind and mental phenomena. Consciousness was a dirty word in Psychology a few decades back.


If you don't wish to offer an answer, please discontinue insulting my intelligence here.

But I and others have been offering answers. You just keep posting the hard line skeptics poorly thought arguments. I’m close to consider this trolling.


I ask you not to answer with sentences like the above. Acchantika is indeed informed and shows no signs of living under any rock; please tell me where does it say that the emergence theory of mind is a product of neuroscientists, not philosophers.


If you must, this video for example was very easy to find upon a simple search on youtube.

The lecturer, Jay Gunkelman, is not a philosopher but is one of the worlds top neuroscientists and has specialized in qEEG and EEG neurofeedback for over 20 years. A pioneer in many areas of research related to the brain and its function.

In this video, Gunkelman describes how consciousness can be identified by emergent properties between the DC field potentials "glial"
and neural system "eeg rhythms" and how they interact to form consciousness.

It's a scientific theory based on indications happening inside the brain, not just a philosophical opinion without base.

The emergence theory of mind is a product of philosophers to which some scientists adhere. That's the only thing your video proves, not that the emergence theory of mind was created by scientists. You seem to be too much impressed by neuroscience.
Perhaps this article helps you to evaluate your position.
ABSTRACT—Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) studies of emotion, personality, and social cognition have drawn much attention in recent years, with high-profile studies frequently reporting extremely high (e.g., >.8) correlations between brain activation and personality measures.
We show that these correlations are higher than should be expected given the (evidently limited) reliability of both fMRI and personality measures. The high correlations are all the more puzzling because method sections rarely contain much detail about how the correlations were obtained. We surveyed authors of 55 articles that reported findings of this kind to determine a few details on how these correlations were computed. More than half acknowledged using a strategy that computes separate correlations for individual voxels and reports means of only those voxels exceeding chosen thresholds. We show how this nonindependent analysis inflates correlations while yielding reassuring-looking scattergrams.
This analysis technique was used to obtain the vast majority of the implausibly high correlations in our survey sample. In addition, we argue that, in some cases,other analysis problems likely created entirely spurious correlations. We outline how the data from these studies could be reanalyzed with unbiased methods to provide accurate estimates of the correlations in question and urge authors to perform such reanalyses. The underlying problems described here appear to be common in fMRI research of many kinds—not just in studies of emotion, personality, and social cognition.

Full article: http://www.pashler.com/Articles/Vul_eta ... npress.pdf
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Re: Consciousness & the Brain

Postby Dexing » Wed May 23, 2012 5:39 pm

Dechen Norbu,

You assume waaaaay too much about me, and get far too carried away in your posts.

1) I don't know much about Randi and it's irrelevant. I could have said "I'll give a million bucks" to anyone who can demonstrate this yogic capacity to know other minds directly. The gist being that it should be a demonstrable skill in easy to perform tests. You took that way too far in an attempt to derail the thread further.

2) The only CSI I know of is a TV show, that I don't even watch. You can't tell me I'm "parroting" some atheist group, because that's insulting my intelligence, suggesting I can't think for myself. This topic is proof that I can and do think for myself, hence I don't wish to just take Buddhist doctrine as granted, no matter how internally consistent it may be.

3) The scientific method has revealed certainly things about the brain, and based on those indications a hypothesis has been formed which is in the process of being researched further. It has nothing to do with a philosophical position, and clinging to a hypothesis leads to an invalid materialist view. They are mutually exclusive. What the hypothesis states and what you do with that (investigate or cling) are two separate things. That's that. Are you afraid of scientists investigating this hypothesis because it opposes your faith?

4) You have in fact provided no answer to the question of this topic, which is what justification there is for the Buddhist model of consciousness, or what you believe about it and why. You have added absolutely nothing to this. All you do is attack points not being made (materialism), avoid the question, insult my intelligence in the process, and dare to call me a troll. How dare you? That is incredibly rude of you. Do you realize that?

Are you avoiding the question in preference of attacking materialism because you feel insecure about your beliefs? For the record, I have not taken a materialist position, but have merely stated "this is what science has shown, and here is a hypothesis based on it". I then asked an honest question about justification for belief in the Buddhist model of consciousness.

Seriously, if all you want to do is attack materialism (which I have not even tried to suggest) rather than discuss the Buddhist doctrine and justification for belief in it, then feel free to start your own thread and vent there. You don't get to troll my thread because your username is green.
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Re: Consciousness & the Brain

Postby Dexing » Wed May 23, 2012 5:51 pm

The Seeker wrote:It seems to me through your responses here that you are questioning your own beliefes.


Absolutely, as the Buddha suggested I do. As a "seeker" I would expect the same from you.

You seem to be standing on the grounds that something is not real, or acceptable until science can prove it.


No. Just that I don't want to have a gap between reality and belief, where I have some facts about something and then have to jump the gap to belief about it, rather than walk across a bridge of justification.

If we beilive consciousness exists outside the brain and physical realm, what homework is there to do?


Perhaps to honestly analyze why it is you believe so and whether or not it is justifiable or just a blind faith. But you may just be the blind faith type. I tend not to be.

Again, I'm not suggesting materialism is the only means of justifying a belief. But so far, the only responses I've gotten were blind faith, not even an application of any sort of reasoning. "Just believe or don't" as you say.
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Re: Consciousness & the Brain

Postby Jesse » Wed May 23, 2012 6:32 pm


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Re: Consciousness & the Brain

Postby Challenge23 » Wed May 23, 2012 7:19 pm

First, I'll answer your question.

Dexing wrote:
4) You have in fact provided no answer to the question of this topic, which is what justification there is for the Buddhist model of consciousness, or what you believe about it and why.



Well, first I'd have to ask which model? This, of course, is because there are a lot of differences between the various types of Buddhism and I can only speak to a very few.

With that said, I will speak to the more "emptiness oriented" schools of how consciousness is defined. As I am not trained in any of the other schools I can't speak to them.

Because this model depends on the negation of components it holds up surprisingly well to the scientific research. Let's say that the research is able to map the emotions, memories, and senses. That's fine as according to this model of consciousness those things aren't consciousness, they are only parts of consciousness. Form is emptiness, emptiness is form and all that.


Dexing wrote:
Perhaps to honestly analyze why it is you believe so and whether or not it is justifiable or just a blind faith. But you may just be the blind faith type. I tend not to be.

Again, I'm not suggesting materialism is the only means of justifying a belief. But so far, the only responses I've gotten were blind faith, not even an application of any sort of reasoning. "Just believe or don't" as you say.



From what I've read of this thread there seems to be a lot of assumptions and implications so I'll just ask.

Are you saying that science is the most valid way to perceive reality? Are you saying that if something doesn't measure up to science 100% then it should be discarded? What, explicitly, are you saying? What, explicitly, are you proposing? I am a bear of very small brain, you see, and don't do well with implications or assumptions. Also, please note, "I am not saying anything and I am not proposing anything" are actually valid answers. However, if those are your answers I would suggest that you might want to re-read what you have posted.
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Re: Consciousness & the Brain

Postby Dechen Norbu » Wed May 23, 2012 11:54 pm

Dexing wrote:Dechen Norbu,

You assume waaaaay too much about me, and get far too carried away in your posts.

1) I don't know much about Randi and it's irrelevant. I could have said "I'll give a million bucks" to anyone who can demonstrate this yogic capacity to know other minds directly. The gist being that it should be a demonstrable skill in easy to perform tests. You took that way too far in an attempt to derail the thread further.

Then you shouldn't have used it as an example.

2) The only CSI I know of is a TV show, that I don't even watch. You can't tell me I'm "parroting" some atheist group, because that's insulting my intelligence, suggesting I can't think for myself. This topic is proof that I can and do think for myself, hence I don't wish to just take Buddhist doctrine as granted, no matter how internally consistent it may be.

You' re reinventing the wheel because the arguments you bring forth are the same presented by those fellows. No more, no less. So no, I don't see how you are thinking for yourself when all you do is presenting recycled arguments pretty much well known to those who had similar discussions before. You're parroting someone else's arguments as if they were your own, intentionally or not.

3) The scientific method has revealed certainly things about the brain, and based on those indications a hypothesis has been formed which is in the process of being researched further. It has nothing to do with a philosophical position, and clinging to a hypothesis leads to an invalid materialist view. They are mutually exclusive. What the hypothesis states and what you do with that (investigate or cling) are two separate things. That's that. Are you afraid of scientists investigating this hypothesis because it opposes your faith?

The hidden assumptions behind that hypothesis are the problem. And they are problematic because they are hidden (it seems they remain hidden for you too).
They don't contradict my religion. They contradict empiricism: consciousness hasn't a single physical property and we have no reason to believe mind is an epiphenomena of the brain unless we decide to do so due to metaphysical predilections.

4) You have in fact provided no answer to the question of this topic, which is what justification there is for the Buddhist model of consciousness, or what you believe about it and why. You have added absolutely nothing to this. All you do is attack points not being made (materialism), avoid the question, insult my intelligence in the process, and dare to call me a troll. How dare you? That is incredibly rude of you. Do you realize that?

Perhaps if you don't troll, I won't point that fact. If you keep coming to this discussion with the same arguments, not addressing the criticisms made to them properly, you are trolling.
Your point all along has been this:

Rather that consciousness appears to be an emergent property of a brain, and no indication of consciousness absent a brain has been discovered.

Discovered by scientists, you mean.
This was pointed and you remain claiming science must validate Buddhadharma. We feel differently. This being a Buddhist board, we are entitled to ponder other sources of authority than scientists. If you come here to tell us that it is science that will say if Buddhism is right or wrong, that makes you a troll.

Are you avoiding the question in preference of attacking materialism because you feel insecure about your beliefs? For the record, I have not taken a materialist position, but have merely stated "this is what science has shown, and here is a hypothesis based on it". I then asked an honest question about justification for belief in the Buddhist model of consciousness.

There are many, but you seem to have them discarded in favor of what science validates so far. The problem is that science is built over a paradigm that rejects Buddhadharma and there are many reasons, historical, sociological, political, psychological and so on, for this. Not believing materialism, and seeing no reasons why anyone should since this is a philosophically problematic metaphysical choice, the whole argumentation defending scientific discovery falls apart when it comes to consciousness, perhaps the biggest embarrassment of science so far.
Don't ask justifications for beliefs. Put beliefs on hold, and I mean all beliefs, even those of materialistically minded scientists, practice Dharma and see for yourself. Buddhadharma has more to do with that than beliefs. On the other hand, science has more to do with trusting the authority of others, since we can't repeat each and every experiment ever conducted. You are not here to question. You are here to make a point: "Rather that consciousness appears to be an emergent property of a brain, and no indication of consciousness absent a brain has been discovered." Again, discovered by whom?

Seriously, if all you want to do is attack materialism (which I have not even tried to suggest) rather than discuss the Buddhist doctrine and justification for belief in it, then feel free to start your own thread and vent there. You don't get to troll my thread because your username is green.

I would be fine with a good discussion about this subject. But when someone comes here to make a point, bringing Randi's challenge as an example of anything but materialist fundamentalism and when he doesn't address criticism of his points properly, I consider it trolling, not debate. So if you want to debate, by all means do so. If you want to keep trolling, I'm sorry, such won't last for long.
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Re: Consciousness & the Brain

Postby Dechen Norbu » Thu May 24, 2012 12:03 am

Challenge23 wrote:

From what I've read of this thread there seems to be a lot of assumptions and implications so I'll just ask.

Are you saying that science is the most valid way to perceive reality? Are you saying that if something doesn't measure up to science 100% then it should be discarded? What, explicitly, are you saying? What, explicitly, are you proposing? I am a bear of very small brain, you see, and don't do well with implications or assumptions. Also, please note, "I am not saying anything and I am not proposing anything" are actually valid answers. However, if those are your answers I would suggest that you might want to re-read what you have posted.

No... he is just honestly making questions... :roll: - while giving his own answers and rejecting those that don't agree with his metaphysical beliefs; you don't agree with him? That means you have blind faith (forget more information, other metaphysical positions, experience, informed confidence and so on and so forth)-> aka trolling.
This is just another guy trying to teach us how to think while failing to acknowledge the shortcomings of his own reasoning... that's just what we needed...
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Re: Consciousness & the Brain

Postby LastLegend » Thu May 24, 2012 12:29 am

Dexing wrote:
Is there any justifiable reason to believe there can be consciousness absent a brain, while all scientific indications point toward it being an emergent property of a brain?



1)Threads are the material that makes a cloth. What link is there between brain material and consciousness?

2)Consider a radio. If a radio is broken, it will not be able to receive signals. But the radio is the not the signals.

On dependent origination, consciousnesses (there are 8 consciousnesses) that exist in relation to forms. So if there are no forms, there are no consciousnesses. Without a form (a functioning body and brain), consciousnesses cannot arise. So do consciousnesses exist then?
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Re: Consciousness & the Brain

Postby Dechen Norbu » Thu May 24, 2012 1:19 am

LastLegend wrote:
Dexing wrote:
Is there any justifiable reason to believe there can be consciousness absent a brain, while all scientific indications point toward it being an emergent property of a brain?



1)Threads are the material that makes a cloth. What link is there between brain material and consciousness?

2)Consider a radio. If a radio is broken, it will not be able to receive signals. But the radio is the not the signals.

On dependent origination, consciousnesses (there are 8 consciousnesses) that exist in relation to forms. So if there are no forms, there are no consciousnesses. Without a form (a functioning body and brain), consciousnesses cannot arise. So do consciousnesses exist then?

You raise a pertinent question:
How do physical reactions between molecules and cells originate consciousness that hasn't any known physical properties? This causal relation is not proven. There seems to be a correlation, and if you read that article I linked you already know that sometimes these correlations are less than explicit, that only points to a causal relation if so you wish to believe (this has to do with your second statement). Despite all the efforts of materialist science, we will only ever be able to describe neuronal excitations in the brain; a physical description of the mental experience itself will always elude us. If this is so, then it seems prudent to ask the question: how can the subjective be so fundamentally different from the objective as to escape every possible definition in terms of the latter? If we analyse one, we don't see the other. What a lot of people tend to forget is that correlation is not causality. The higher the number of roads of a nation, the higher is its rate of live births. There's even a strong correlation. So is it safe to assume that if we build many roads, babies will have a better chance of birth survival? That would be ludicrous! It's a case of a third variable. Concerning the subject at hand, what we have discovered so far are neural correlates of mental events. We don't even know what are the neural correlates of consciousness, let alone a demonstrated physical causality for consciousness to arise. We don't know if an amoeba is conscious, for instance. And we can't know because we can't detect consciousness directly and lack the knowledge of its necessary and sufficient causes. Causation is very hard to prove and unfortunately the internal validity of a lot of studies that claim causal relations is debatable. Correlation proving causation is a logical fallacy as you probably know.

Considering your radio example, a TV set is commonly used in turn. If you gave a TV set to someone whose experience and knowledge was similar to what we knew in the 18th century (100 years before discovering EM waves), the more he tweaked with the components and verified how they affected the image and the sound, the more he would be convinced that the TV set was actually producing the data instead of receiving it. This is what happens with those who have a materialist worldview. To them, "all scientific indications point toward it [consciousness] being an emergent property of a brain". But in fact, such isn't the case, as in the television example. Some (not all as shown in NDE studies by scientists) scientific indications point toward a correlation between the activity of the brain and consciousness and vice versa. Period. The rest is speculation rooted in a certain metaphysical worldview. These are some of the hidden assumptions in Dexing's statements, i.e., "all scientific indications point toward it being an emergent property of a brain", when such is a fallacy. Not all scientific indications point such thing. In fact, they don't point it at all. They point to a correlation and then some people go out on a limb and claim causation, as would happen if you started tweaking with the TV set's components 100 years before our knowledge of EM waves.
This reminds me of the episode between Cuvier and Spallanzani regarding the navigation of bats. Although clearly bats didn't have "special tactile receptors" in their wings, as Cuvier claimed, although it was demonstrated that they didn't touch objects do correct their flight trajectory,although there was alternative hypothesis that data seemed to confirm, Cuvier's nonsensical theory about bat's navigation (they touched objects and then corrected the trajectory) found its way to the textbooks till the XX century. Why? Because a biosonar was an unthinkable idea at the time. Or was it? After all Spallanzani thought about it, but it was so far ahead of his time that such theory was rejected. The same happens with those who dare proposing alternative hypothesis in a period when materialism has deeply poisoned many people's minds.
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Re: Consciousness & the Brain

Postby Acchantika » Thu May 24, 2012 1:43 am

Dechen Norbu wrote:please tell me where does it say that the emergence theory of mind is a product of neuroscientists, not philosophers.
Dexing wrote:If you must, this video for example was very easy to find upon a simple search on youtube.

The lecturer, Jay Gunkelman, is...


Actually, this video isn't discussing scientific evidence or theories.

From the video, "In the model you're about to hear...the emergent property is consciousness." My emphasis.

Gunkleman is just discussing a potential scientific model. A scientific model is, "used when it is either impossible or impractical to create experimental conditions in which scientists can directly measure outcomes".

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific ... imentation

Note the subtitle of that wiki link - modelling is a substitute for direct measurement and experimentation. It is what scientists do when there is no evidence for something, rather than the other way around.

In this video he is describing what he thinks a potential model must look like in order to be tenable. He isn't actually presenting one, but instead talking about the parameters he believes it should have. Some of the claims he makes, such as the model necessarily being comprehensible by lay people without specialised language, would be heavily disputed by most materialists and neuroscientists, who generally propose that emergence is only describable mathematically (being identical with physics).

As I said originally, one needs to understand the difference between a theory, a hypothesis, a model and so on before one can properly engage the debate, or else perfectly capable people will misunderstand things. Consciousness is a term used across multiples disciplines in completely different ways. For example, this entire lecture is about, borrowing Block's terms, access consciousness, not phenomenal consciousness - the kind that is of interest. The origin of access consciousness, things like pattern recognition, depth perception, reportability etc. is not in question. However, because biologists always and neuroscientists mostly use the general phrase "consciousness" to refer solely to access consciousness - since phenomenal consciousness, being empirically inexplicable has no function in practical science - people understandably get confused.

Exchanging six posts where we are still merely debating whether emergence is a theory in philosophy or a scientific fact - a dispute quickly remedied by Googling the difference between "strong" and "weak" emergence btw - isn't constructive communication to me, and is precisely why discussions like this become pretty tedious; it is a topic that involves a lot of emotional investment on all sides and that everyone is convinced they are an expert on because, of course, we all hold consciousness as a defining characteristic of who we are. In the end, to me, it really is all a load of bullshit; you can study all these definitions and systems and experiments and all that you get from it is more doubtable, useless concepts. Your cited Yogacarin - the "ones whose practice is yoga", after all - didn't have EEGs or fMRIs. They simply had their own present moment of awareness to work with. Which, when all is said and done, will be all that's left - from souls, to idealism, to dualism, to materialism, to physicalism, to emergence, to eliminativism and to whatever comes next. So, you stated you wanted the justification for the Buddhist models - in my opinion, the claimed answer is direct experience, for which no amount of intellectual contrivance can compensate.
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Re: Consciousness & the Brain

Postby Dave The Seeker » Thu May 24, 2012 2:00 am

Dexing wrote:
The Seeker wrote:It seems to me through your responses here that you are questioning your own beliefs.


Absolutely, as the Buddha suggested I do.


Dexing wrote:That is a Buddhist species of non sequitur reasoning


Dexing wrote:I'm familiar with how these other planes of existence are understood and explained in Buddhist terms— but as plausible as they may be in theory, there is really no way to prove such conscious immaterial beings actually exist


So you're only questioning this because the recluse Gotama said so, or the fully Enlightened Buddha said to? Wait there's no scientific proof of The Buddha still existing beyond the past physical existence....
But there are many who do believe this to be true.

Dexing wrote:I've studied Yogācāra philosophy in depth for years which goes into great detail on the topic of consciousness, in all its supposed layers. However, if it ever suggests any connection to a brain it says that the brain, as a physical aggregate, is a production of consciousness, not vice-versa. Or more precisely, it is consciousness itself, physical aggregates merely being layers of consciousness.


You've answered your own question way back at page 1

Kindest wishes, Dave
Everyday problems teach us to have a realistic attitude.
They teach us that life is what life is; flawed.
Yet with tremendous potential for joy and fulfillment.
~Lama Surya Das~

If your path teaches you to act and exert yourself correctly and leads to spiritual realizations such as love, compassion and wisdom then obviously it's worthwhile.
~Lama Thubten Yeshe~

One whose mind is freed does not argue with anyone, he does not dispute with anyone. He makes use of the conventional terms of the world without clinging to them
~The Buddha~
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Re: Consciousness & the Brain

Postby Dexing » Thu May 24, 2012 2:43 am

Dechen Norbu wrote:Don't ask justifications for beliefs. Put beliefs on hold, and I mean all beliefs, even those of materialistically minded scientists, practice Dharma and see for yourself.


First you insult my intelligence in saying I parrot others, which implies mindlessly repeating what I have heard, and thus can't think for myself. Now you want to tell me I haven't practiced Dharma enough?

As Jnana recalled earlier: "I remember from a previous thread a couple of years ago that you are quite knowledgeable of dharma materials."

I have some knowledge and experience on the subject. Is it just amazing to you that I might want to question doctrines objectively rather than only from within themselves? Are we not allowed to do so as Buddhists?

Dechen Norbu wrote:
Challenge23 wrote:Are you saying that science is the most valid way to perceive reality? Are you saying that if something doesn't measure up to science 100% then it should be discarded? What, explicitly, are you saying? What, explicitly, are you proposing?

No... he is just honestly making questions... :roll: - while giving his own answers and rejecting those that don't agree with his metaphysical beliefs; you don't agree with him? That means you have blind faith (forget more information, other metaphysical positions, experience, informed confidence and so on and so forth)-> aka trolling.


Challenge23- I find the scientific method to be pretty reliable, and I take hypotheses as hypotheses. I don't cling to them as an answer, since the very word implies that it is only a theory. All I have done is present what science has shown, and a theory to go with it, as another point of reference (not my view). Then I asked a question to Buddhists about what they believe about consciousness and why.

Dechen Norbu is apparently too insecure to look at the question honestly and try to answer as others have, and I thank them.

By the way, I don't say one has blind faith if they don't agree with me. The Seeker said he believes in a continuing consciousness (what he believes) because child prodigies have incredible talents (why he believes it). I don't understand how you get from "people have amazing talents" to "past lives" or "disembodied consciousness". It's the same as "nature is amazing and beautiful" therefore "it has a supernatural creator".

When I asked how you get from one to the other, the response I was given is "you believe or don't" or "you choose what you'd like to believe". That is what I called blind faith, by the very definition, not simply being in disagreement with me.
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Re: Consciousness & the Brain

Postby Dexing » Thu May 24, 2012 2:50 am

Dechen Norbu wrote:You are here to make a point: "Rather that consciousness appears to be an emergent property of a brain, and no indication of consciousness absent a brain has been discovered." Again, discovered by whom?


By anyone who can demonstrate it, for example by the "yogic power to know other minds directly". In the sūtras this is something the Buddha did all the time and was able to demonstrate it. Aside from that, no one in the real world has discovered consciousness absent a brain. If I am wrong and you know of someone, please have them come forward and demonstrate it for the world.
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Re: Consciousness & the Brain

Postby Dexing » Thu May 24, 2012 2:58 am

Acchantika wrote:
Dechen Norbu wrote:please tell me where does it say that the emergence theory of mind is a product of neuroscientists, not philosophers.
Dexing wrote:If you must, this video for example was very easy to find upon a simple search on youtube.

The lecturer, Jay Gunkelman, is...


Actually, this video isn't discussing scientific evidence or theories.

From the video, "In the model you're about to hear...the emergent property is consciousness." My emphasis.

Gunkleman is just discussing a potential scientific model. A scientific model is, "used when it is either impossible or impractical to create experimental conditions in which scientists can directly measure outcomes".


If you notice, I was asked to show that the "emergence theory of mind" is a product of neuroscientists (not neuroscience) and not philosophers. This video shows one example. I'm not aware of any philosopher who produced this theory not based on neuroscience.

Again, my point with it is to present another perspective for contrast. "Here is a theory, and here are the indications that it is based on". Without positing anything in that as fact, I then ask for a similar breakdown of consciousness from a Buddhist perspective.

Only a slim few have attempted an answer, while mostly the first theory presented is attacked, which doesn't make the case for the Buddhist belief, and is really irrelevant because no one here is defending it as a claim.
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Re: Consciousness & the Brain

Postby Dexing » Thu May 24, 2012 3:05 am

The Seeker wrote:So you're only questioning this because the recluse Gotama said so, or the fully Enlightened Buddha said to?


Of course not. Because I care about my beliefs and what I study and practice. With the Buddha as a teacher, he suggests we students investigate. That is what I'm doing.

Dexing wrote:I've studied Yogācāra philosophy in depth for years which goes into great detail on the topic of consciousness, in all its supposed layers. However, if it ever suggests any connection to a brain it says that the brain, as a physical aggregate, is a production of consciousness, not vice-versa. Or more precisely, it is consciousness itself, physical aggregates merely being layers of consciousness.


You've answered your own question way back at page 1


This doesn't answer my question, which is about what justification there is for the belief that this is true, given that there is no indication of consciousness absent a physical brain (at least not that any yogis are willing to demonstrate).
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Re: Consciousness & the Brain

Postby steveb1 » Thu May 24, 2012 5:25 am

Dexing wrote:

what justification there is for the belief that this is true, given that there is no indication of consciousness absent a physical brain (at least not that any yogis are willing to demonstrate).

===

The issue in no way depends upon yogis' whims. It is theoretically testable and is termed "the veridical NDE" and/or "the veridical OBE".

Seems that you are putting unjustified faith into what you don't yet know - i.e., a materialism of the gaps. It would only take some documented, peer-reviewed experimentation to contradict your perhaps far too early, much too confident claim that "there is no indication of consciousness absent a physical brain". Of course, there is anecdotal "indication" of such, but if you need to have it scientifically tested, there is:

http://www.neuroquantology.com/index.ph ... e/view/280

... and -

http://discovermagazine.com/2007/jun/so ... tart:int=0

... and other sources that deal with testing for the veridicality of the claimed experiences. One would guess that you probably don't want to make a factual claim - and your writing style indicates that it is a factual claim, not a hypothesis - that can potentially be overturned by testing in the near future. I'm just saying that the jury is still out, while you seem to be saying the the verdict has already been delivered.
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Re: Consciousness & the Brain

Postby Dechen Norbu » Thu May 24, 2012 11:08 am

Dexing wrote:First you insult my intelligence in saying I parrot others, which implies mindlessly repeating what I have heard, and thus can't think for myself. Now you want to tell me I haven't practiced Dharma enough?

Come on Dexing, give me a break here. Aren't you tired of playing the victimization card?
I never insulted your intelligence to start with. You keep repeating that and I've been trying to avoid feeding this argument, but it's enough. Don't misrepresent me.
To me, it is obvious that you didn't practice Dharma enough or we wouldn't be having this conversation about the mind being an epiphenomena of the brain.

As Jnana recalled earlier: "I remember from a previous thread a couple of years ago that you are quite knowledgeable of dharma materials."

I have some knowledge and experience on the subject. Is it just amazing to you that I might want to question doctrines objectively rather than only from within themselves? Are we not allowed to do so as Buddhists?

I have nothing against questioning the doctrines objectively. If I had, I probably wouldn't be able to present you the sort of information I brought to the topic. I questioned the doctrine comparing it with what is commonly held true by many scientists. However, as confidence in the doctrine built, I felt I also had to objectively question science, since there were incompatibilities. And so I did, only to find out that there were scientists who, intentionally or not, let their metaphysical predilections interfere with both their questions leading their research and their presentation of the conclusions of the data gathered. I also found out that science started to find out God's creation and that, after some time, God was excluded from the equation, but somehow the creation managed to survive, this being a realistic stance in metaphysics, at odds with the Buddhadharma. I find out that there were people very much invested in promoting a materialist worldview, groups of pressure, anti religious crusaders (like Randi) and so on. I knew there was religious fundamentalism. What I didn't know was that there also was scientific fundamentalism, aka scientism, much less organized intellectual militias whose job is patrolling why, how, and under what creed is science done.
Now, what you seem to do is questioning Buddhadharma, or your conception of it, and consider science beyond questioning. And, FYI, objectivity is a myth.

Dechen Norbu wrote:
Challenge23 wrote:Are you saying that science is the most valid way to perceive reality? Are you saying that if something doesn't measure up to science 100% then it should be discarded? What, explicitly, are you saying? What, explicitly, are you proposing?

No... he is just honestly making questions... :roll: - while giving his own answers and rejecting those that don't agree with his metaphysical beliefs; you don't agree with him? That means you have blind faith (forget more information, other metaphysical positions, experience, informed confidence and so on and so forth)-> aka trolling.


Challenge23- I find the scientific method to be pretty reliable, and I take hypotheses as hypotheses. I don't cling to them as an answer, since the very word implies that it is only a theory. All I have done is present what science has shown, and a theory to go with it, as another point of reference (not my view). Then I asked a question to Buddhists about what they believe about consciousness and why.

Oh... shut up. All you've been doing is advancing metaphysics as scientific facts. When criticism is made to your position, as a few of us did already, you ignore it.
You didn't address my points, you didn't address Acchantika's points exactly when we address your reasoning on that. It's as steve said:
One would guess that you probably don't want to make a factual claim - and your writing style indicates that it is a factual claim, not a hypothesis - that can potentially be overturned by testing in the near future. I'm just saying that the jury is still out, while you seem to be saying the the verdict has already been delivered.


Dechen Norbu is apparently too insecure to look at the question honestly and try to answer as others have, and I thank them.

I never insulted you intelligence. I said you are living in a dream if you think science is not biased by metaphysics, I asked you to stop parroting new atheist movement propaganda (something you're still doing, willingly or not) and begged you not to bring Randi's filth here.
Now you say I'm too insecure to look at the question honestly.
You said also, very recently:
But so far, the only responses I've gotten were blind faith, not even an application of any sort of reasoning. "Just believe or don't" as you say.

Everyone who's participating in this topic had given opinions by then. So who's insulting others after all?

By the way, I don't say one has blind faith if they don't agree with me.

Oh you didn't? It must have been me then who wrote the above. This is getting better and better.

When I asked how you get from one to the other, the response I was given is "you believe or don't" or "you choose what you'd like to believe". That is what I called blind faith, by the very definition, not simply being in disagreement with me.

You are just backtracking.
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Re: Consciousness & the Brain

Postby Dechen Norbu » Thu May 24, 2012 11:11 am

Dexing wrote:
Dechen Norbu wrote:You are here to make a point: "Rather that consciousness appears to be an emergent property of a brain, and no indication of consciousness absent a brain has been discovered." Again, discovered by whom?


By anyone who can demonstrate it, for example by the "yogic power to know other minds directly". In the sūtras this is something the Buddha did all the time and was able to demonstrate it. Aside from that, no one in the real world has discovered consciousness absent a brain. If I am wrong and you know of someone, please have them come forward and demonstrate it for the world.

How many accomplished yogis have you met? I'm sure they will make a line just to prove their abilities to you and Randi! :roll:
Only in very specific circumstances do yogis demonstrate such feats and I find quite unlikely they would show them to you.
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Re: Consciousness & the Brain

Postby Dechen Norbu » Thu May 24, 2012 11:15 am

Dexing wrote:If you notice, I was asked to show that the "emergence theory of mind" is a product of neuroscientists (not neuroscience) and not philosophers. This video shows one example. I'm not aware of any philosopher who produced this theory not based on neuroscience.

Again, my point with it is to present another perspective for contrast. "Here is a theory, and here are the indications that it is based on". Without positing anything in that as fact, I then ask for a similar breakdown of consciousness from a Buddhist perspective.

Only a slim few have attempted an answer, while mostly the first theory presented is attacked, which doesn't make the case for the Buddhist belief, and is really irrelevant because no one here is defending it as a claim.

Well, there are many, many models and theories around.
I'll quote Acchantika's post:
So, you stated you wanted the justification for the Buddhist models - in my opinion, the claimed answer is direct experience, for which no amount of intellectual contrivance can compensate.

So Dexing, why do you waste your time losing yourself in intellectual gymnastics about the theories of others, when you can find out for yourself through direct experience?
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