Consciousness & the Brain

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Re: Consciousness & the Brain

Postby Dechen Norbu » Tue May 29, 2012 3:17 pm

Sherlock wrote:
Malcolm wrote:
Dechen Norbu wrote:[
You are believing in a different metaphysical system, that's all. There's nothing factual about it. Those materialist claims about the brain creating consciousness are nothing but fallacious metaphysical extrapolations. Question that also, for goodness sake, especially because they contradict your own experience! Don't swallow hook, line and sinker.


Consciousness is produced by the body, but it is not primarily located in the brain. It is located in the heart. Even during the process of the rebirth, there is a never a time a when there is a mind is separate from matter.


So the vayus are technically "matter"?

Matter that science never found, mind you.
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Re: Consciousness & the Brain

Postby Jnana » Tue May 29, 2012 3:19 pm

dharmagoat wrote:The issue that Dexing has raised, of faith in traditional buddhist beliefs being challenged by mounting scientific evidence (not belief), is a very important one for many buddhists, and therefore for buddhism in general.

"Mounting scientific evidence" of what precisely? Ned Block, "Consciousness," in A Companion to the Philosophy of Mind:

    We have no conception of our physical or functional nature that allows us to understand how it could explain our subjective experience.... in the case of consciousness we have nothing -- zilch -- worthy of being called a research program, nor are there any substantive proposals about how to go about starting one.

Jerry A. Fodor, The Big Idea: Can There Be a Science of the Mind:

    Nobody has the slightest idea how anything material could be conscious. Nobody even knows what it would be like to have the slightest idea about how anything material could be conscious.
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Re: Consciousness & the Brain

Postby Challenge23 » Tue May 29, 2012 3:23 pm

dharmagoat wrote:
Dechen Norbu wrote:Another one who while questioning all forgets to question the fallacious claims of materialistically minded scientists... :roll:
You are believing in a different metaphysical system, that's all. There's nothing factual about it. Those materialist claims about the brain creating consciousness are nothing but fallacious metaphysical extrapolations. Question that also, for goodness sake, especially because they contradict your own experience! Don't swallow hook, line and sinker.

The point I was making that you seem to have missed is that the problem is with belief itself.


I'm not so sure I'd agree with that. The problem is that we are speculating on an inference of the second order which is a notoriously poor idea. The experiments were conducted, results were gotten, and conclusions were drawn from those results. Then someone looked at the conclusions and drew a conclusion based on that.

As it stands the status of consciousness in regards to the brain isn't something we can really prove or disprove because we have no way of measuring consciousness so even if there were billions of consciousnesses sitting in front of us having consciousness tea and consciousness scones(with consciousness lemon curd) we would have no way of knowing because we can't detect and measure consciousness like we can hydrogen, carbon, or electromagnetic waves. All we can say with absolute certainty is that if you do certain things to the brain then that produces certain changes to mental states in some people. Anything else is reading things into the data.

Because of this the only thing we really have in this type of discussion is belief, experience, and logic.
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Re: Consciousness & the Brain

Postby Dechen Norbu » Tue May 29, 2012 3:25 pm

This is why I said that these materialistic claims need to be properly investigated, not just Buddhist claims. Some people put science in such a high pedestal- perhaps because this what we've been trained to do from a young age in school, college and by pop science- that they forget to check if what some scientists claim is actually tenable.
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Re: Consciousness & the Brain

Postby Indrajala » Tue May 29, 2012 3:26 pm

Sherlock wrote:I've been thinking about this -- I think in sutric Buddhism, since "consciousness" itself as vijnana is ultimately empty and dependent on the the senses as interpreted by the brain, the six vijnanas would indeed end on brain death, that leaves the question as to what is transferred across different lives. In the Sutras Buddha Shakyamuni states clearly that no matter crosses into the next life, which leaves a bit of a paradox.


Consciousness is best described as a reaction between the sense faculty and object.

However, there are three other mental aggregates, which collectively are what we call "mind" in English.

There are various theories about how the process of rebirth unfolds. The prevailing theory is that there is an intermediary mental body between lives.
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Re: Consciousness & the Brain

Postby Indrajala » Tue May 29, 2012 3:29 pm

Jnana wrote:Jerry A. Fodor, The Big Idea: Can There Be a Science of the Mind:

    Nobody has the slightest idea how anything material could be conscious. Nobody even knows what it would be like to have the slightest idea about how anything material could be conscious.


It begs the question if consciousness emerges from matter, at what point is there consciousness as a unique property of that matter? Through reduction you could get something like panpsychism where all matter is theorized as possessing mental qualities.
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Re: Consciousness & the Brain

Postby Sherlock » Tue May 29, 2012 3:35 pm

Huseng wrote:There are various theories about how the process of rebirth unfolds. The prevailing theory is that there is an intermediary mental body between lives.


Huseng wrote:It begs the question if consciousness emerges from matter, at what point is there consciousness as a unique property of that matter? Through reduction you could get something like panpsychism where all matter is theorized as possessing mental qualities.


Well, correct me if I'm wrong but that's precisely what is described in Dzogchen.
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Re: Consciousness & the Brain

Postby Indrajala » Tue May 29, 2012 3:39 pm

Sherlock wrote:
Huseng wrote:There are various theories about how the process of rebirth unfolds. The prevailing theory is that there is an intermediary mental body between lives.


Huseng wrote:It begs the question if consciousness emerges from matter, at what point is there consciousness as a unique property of that matter? Through reduction you could get something like panpsychism where all matter is theorized as possessing mental qualities.


Well, correct me if I'm wrong but that's precisely what is described in Dzogchen.


I'll leave it to the experts present to answer that as I know very little about Dzogchen.
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Re: Consciousness & the Brain

Postby dharmagoat » Tue May 29, 2012 3:42 pm

Jnana wrote:"Mounting scientific evidence" of what precisely?

Pretty much everything except what we experience as consciousness (which we can explore for ourselves). But neuroscience has revealed how so much of a person's mental functioning can be attributed to specific brain activity. Reliable evidence for this is accumulating like never before. But no amount of evidence can influence someone who is unwilling to accept its validity, which seems to be the case with so many people "of faith". However, it is not my intention to proselytise to anyone.
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Re: Consciousness & the Brain

Postby dharmagoat » Tue May 29, 2012 3:52 pm

Challenge23 wrote:The problem is that we are speculating on an inference of the second order which is a notoriously poor idea. The experiments were conducted, results were gotten, and conclusions were drawn from those results. Then someone looked at the conclusions and drew a conclusion based on that.

Bugger the conclusions. The raw data is convincing enough.
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Re: Consciousness & the Brain

Postby Dechen Norbu » Tue May 29, 2012 3:56 pm

No it isn't. Only if you look at it from a materialistic perspective and brush under the rug evidence that gets in the way of such metaphysical convictions. The problem remains unsolved. Claiming correlation proves causation is a fallacy.
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Re: Consciousness & the Brain

Postby Dechen Norbu » Tue May 29, 2012 4:00 pm

dharmagoat wrote:
Jnana wrote:"Mounting scientific evidence" of what precisely?

Pretty much everything except what we experience as consciousness (which we can explore for ourselves). But neuroscience has revealed how so much of a person's mental functioning can be attributed to specific brain activity. Reliable evidence for this is accumulating like never before. But no amount of evidence can influence someone who is unwilling to accept its validity, which seems to be the case with so many people "of faith". However, it is not my intention to proselytise to anyone.

Of course the brain is deeply related with mental functions, but the materialist conclusion doesn't follow. Experiment with your TVset. Remove a few components and see what happens. Tweak them hard and measure the results. Then happily conclude that the TVset is producing the information instead of transmitting it, shout it to the world, and end up looking like a clueless git. Well, this is what materialistically minded scientists are doing. I'm not saying this is what happens with consciousness, because it's more complicated than that, but it serves to show how your conclusion doesn't follow.
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Re: Consciousness & the Brain

Postby dharmagoat » Tue May 29, 2012 4:04 pm

Dechen Norbu wrote:Of course the brain is deeply related with mental functions, but the materialist conclusion doesn't follow. Experiment with your TVset. Remove a few components and see what happens. Tweak them hard and measure the results. Then happily conclude that the TVset is producing the information instead of transmitting it, shout it to the world, and end up looking like a clueless git. Well, this is what materialistically minded scientists are doing. I'm not saying this is what happens with consciousness, because it's more complicated than that, but it serves to show how your conclusion doesn't follow.

I make no such conclusions. Please read my posts more carefully.
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Re: Consciousness & the Brain

Postby Jnana » Tue May 29, 2012 4:40 pm

dharmagoat wrote:Bugger the conclusions. The raw data is convincing enough.

Okay, what raw data? And what does it convince you of?
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Re: Consciousness & the Brain

Postby Acchantika » Tue May 29, 2012 4:49 pm

Malcolm wrote:
Dechen Norbu wrote:[
You are believing in a different metaphysical system, that's all. There's nothing factual about it. Those materialist claims about the brain creating consciousness are nothing but fallacious metaphysical extrapolations. Question that also, for goodness sake, especially because they contradict your own experience! Don't swallow hook, line and sinker.


Consciousness is produced by the body, but it is not primarily located in the brain. It is located in the heart. Even during the process of the rebirth, there is a never a time a when there is a mind is separate from matter.


"Consciousness" in Western philosophy also includes the basic capacity to be aware i.e. clarity, the unproduced kind.
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Re: Consciousness & the Brain

Postby Acchantika » Tue May 29, 2012 5:03 pm

dharmagoat wrote:But neuroscience has revealed how so much of a person's mental functioning can be attributed to specific brain activity.


No-one has disputed this.
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Re: Consciousness & the Brain

Postby jeeprs » Tue May 29, 2012 10:46 pm

Malcolm wrote: Even during the process of the rebirth, there is a never a time a when there is a mind is separate from matter.

And vice versa?
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Re: Consciousness & the Brain

Postby Malcolm » Tue May 29, 2012 10:58 pm

jeeprs wrote:
Malcolm wrote: Even during the process of the rebirth, there is a never a time a when there is a mind is separate from matter.

And vice versa?


You can draw that inference if you like. It is controversial from a Buddhist standpoint, but not from a Dzogchen standpoint.
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Re: Consciousness & the Brain

Postby Bhusuku » Tue May 29, 2012 11:51 pm

Malcolm wrote:In Abhidharma yes, matter comes from mind. In Dzogchen, no. Matter comes from the non-recognition of the five lights.

Malcolm wrote:The mind ultimately comes from the ignorance of non-recognition. The ignorance of non-recognition itself is predicated on a dispensible or relative latent awareness that exists at the time of the basis in the basis and is a function of the movement of vāyu or rlung in the basis, the movement that is responsible for the arising of the basis from the basis. When the display of the basis is recognized as being ones own display, that latent awareness becomes prajñā, when it does not, it becomes avidyā.

Malcolm wrote:Consciousness is produced by the body, but it is not primarily located in the brain. It is located in the heart. Even during the process of the rebirth, there is a never a time a when there is a mind is separate from matter.

Malcolm wrote:Even during the process of the rebirth, there is a never a time a when there is a mind is separate from matter.


I find the things you're writing about this topic very interesting and very useful, especially your(?) translations from the Khandro Nyinthig. But since I'm a slow learner and not that particularly bright, I'd like to ask if you can point me to any book where these things are discussed in greater detail?
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Re: Consciousness & the Brain

Postby Malcolm » Tue May 29, 2012 11:59 pm

Bhusuku wrote:
Malcolm wrote:In Abhidharma yes, matter comes from mind. In Dzogchen, no. Matter comes from the non-recognition of the five lights.

Malcolm wrote:The mind ultimately comes from the ignorance of non-recognition. The ignorance of non-recognition itself is predicated on a dispensible or relative latent awareness that exists at the time of the basis in the basis and is a function of the movement of vāyu or rlung in the basis, the movement that is responsible for the arising of the basis from the basis. When the display of the basis is recognized as being ones own display, that latent awareness becomes prajñā, when it does not, it becomes avidyā.

Malcolm wrote:Consciousness is produced by the body, but it is not primarily located in the brain. It is located in the heart. Even during the process of the rebirth, there is a never a time a when there is a mind is separate from matter.

Malcolm wrote:Even during the process of the rebirth, there is a never a time a when there is a mind is separate from matter.


I find the things you're writing about this topic very interesting and very useful, especially your(?) translations from the Khandro Nyinthig. But since I'm a slow learner and not that particularly bright, I'd like to ask if you can point me to any book where these things are discussed in greater detail?



Not in English. apart from Lipman's translastion of the some of the same materials in the KN.
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