What is the substance of the experienced?

OM
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What is the substance of the experienced?

So, chemical and electrical impulses are the substance of sensation, correct? So, what is experiencing them? They are being processed in the brain, but we are not brains. Or are we? What is the material of the experienced? The scientific chemical reaction, how does it result in something which can only be experienced and not otherwise quanitified? Or can everything be quantified? How do we combine the experienced and the experiencer, can we quantify both at the same time? Let's say that the experiencer is a chemical that meets with another chemical, the experience, they meet and we experience something. What is the distinction between the "experiencer" chemical and the "experienced" chemical? What decides that that particular combination of chemicals is experiencable when experiences can range to almost anything?


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http://faculty.stcc.edu/AandP

http://faculty.stcc.edu/AandP/AP/AP2pages/Units14to17/unit15/sensory.htm

 

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BobSpence
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Experience and consciousness

Experience and consciousness are not chemicals or electrical impulses as such, they are processes which involve both those things working in complex patterns, functioning mainly within the brain, but also involving other parts of the body to some extent.

EDIT: I don't think it is meaningful to ask what is the 'substance' of experience, that is old thinking which wants to assign some essence, or analogue of the material underpinning, for an immaterial thing.

You have to embrace this concept of a process, an ordered interaction of events 'running on' a material substrate, much as a computer program runs on a variety of underlying specific structures, but itself is NOT composed of those chips and wires.

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

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mellestad
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All the evidence we have

All the evidence we have points to us being, 'just brains'.

However, that is like calling a star, 'just a fire'.  Accurate?  I guess.

 

Everything makes more sense now that I've stopped believing.


OM
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BobSpence1 wrote:Experience

BobSpence1 wrote:

Experience and consciousness are not chemicals or electrical impulses as such, they are processes which involve both those things working in complex patterns, functioning mainly within the brain, but also involving other parts of the body to some extent.

EDIT: I don't think it is meaningful to ask what is the 'substance' of experience, that is old thinking which wants to assign some essence, or analogue of the material underpinning, for an immaterial thing.

You have to embrace this concept of a process, an ordered interaction of events 'running on' a material substrate, much as a computer program runs on a variety of underlying specific structures, but itself is NOT composed of those chips and wires.

I learned a great deal from your post, thanks. I am genuinely interested in hearing your personal beliefs about consciousness. Or any scientific knowledge on the subject. Perhaps you could point me in the right direction?

 

Edit: God. And the moderator's signature. I'm starting to remember.


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OM wrote:BobSpence1

OM wrote:

BobSpence1 wrote:

Experience and consciousness are not chemicals or electrical impulses as such, they are processes which involve both those things working in complex patterns, functioning mainly within the brain, but also involving other parts of the body to some extent.

EDIT: I don't think it is meaningful to ask what is the 'substance' of experience, that is old thinking which wants to assign some essence, or analogue of the material underpinning, for an immaterial thing.

You have to embrace this concept of a process, an ordered interaction of events 'running on' a material substrate, much as a computer program runs on a variety of underlying specific structures, but itself is NOT composed of those chips and wires.

I learned a great deal from your post, thanks. I am genuinely interested in hearing your personal beliefs about consciousness. Or any scientific knowledge on the subject. Perhaps you could point me in the right direction?

 

Edit: God. And the moderator's signature. I'm starting to remember.

Have you read anything from Daniel Dennett? I learned a lot from his books, such as

"Consciousness Explained", directly addressing what the title suggests, altho not really an ultimate explanation, of course, more of a catchy title;

"Freedom Evolves", more about Determinism vs Free Will;

"The Mind's I", co-authored with Douglas R. Hofstadter;

If you are into podcasts, I can strongly recommend the "Brain Science Podcast", listed on iTunes.

 

 

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

"Theology is now little more than a branch of human ignorance. Indeed, it is ignorance with wings." - Sam Harris

The path to Truth lies via careful study of reality, not the dreams of our fallible minds - me

From the sublime to the ridiculous: Science -> Philosophy -> Theology


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OM wrote:So, chemical and

OM wrote:

So, chemical and electrical impulses are the substance of sensation, correct? So, what is experiencing them? They are being processed in the brain, but we are not brains. Or are we? What is the material of the experienced? The scientific chemical reaction, how does it result in something which can only be experienced and not otherwise quanitified? Or can everything be quantified? How do we combine the experienced and the experiencer, can we quantify both at the same time? Let's say that the experiencer is a chemical that meets with another chemical, the experience, they meet and we experience something. What is the distinction between the "experiencer" chemical and the "experienced" chemical? What decides that that particular combination of chemicals is experiencable when experiences can range to almost anything?

You have legs. The legs are the "substance" and something like "running" which is not a thing, would be the "experience" we label as "running".

That is putting it simply, but our brains and it's activity is much more complex than that and our "experiences" can be false sometimes, no matter how real we might think them to be. Just like having a dream about running is an "experience" but the running in the dream isn't real.

A simple example of how our "experiences" can fool us is demonstrated in that famous video trick where the guy seems to be in a real hallway standing up straight, but walks backwards only to be cramped in a crouching position, when our eyes suddenly realize what is really going on.

What believers call "experience" is often called the "god gene" which is more aptly described by Dawkins in "The God Delusion" as the moth mistaking the lightbulb for moonlight. It is a false positive. Much like the old Halloween party trick where you have people in a dark room stick their hand in a bowl of black olives while telling them they are eyeballs.

We seek patterns in life, but far to often we mistake "experience" as being real rather than test to insure what we think we are observing is real.

Our bodies are capable of producing chemicals that reinforce that "good feeling" even if that "feeling" is based on a wish. When our bodies feel good it can benefit our immune system. But it can also produce delusions and mental illness.

So there is a huge difference between "experience" as in things like REAL running, and the "experience" of a sugar pill, the "experience of running in a dream". Both are "experiences" but one is real and the other is a real dream, but both are completely different.

 

 

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Short answer: The

Short answer: The 'substance' of experience and consciousness is not 'substance' per se, but physical information and processes, as described by BobSpence1. I don't have time right now for a 'long answer', but here's a 'medium answer' in the form of a video about physicalism:

Wonderist on Facebook — Support the idea of wonderism by 'liking' the Wonderism page — or join the open Wonderism group to take part in the discussion!

Gnu Atheism Facebook group — All gnu-friendly RRS members welcome (including Luminon!) — Try something gnu!


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mellestad wrote:All the

mellestad wrote:

All the evidence we have points to us being, 'just brains'.

However, that is like calling a star, 'just a fire'.  Accurate?  I guess.

 

 

Everything that I am is 'I'. Sure the brain does a lot of the processing, but our nerves extend throughout our bodies and I think that 'I' is not just the brain, but everything cumulatively is 'I'. I don't think it's really possible to separate the brain from the body, in terms of 'the mind' or the sense of 'I', they are too intertwined. 

 

 


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lalib wrote:mellestad

lalib wrote:

mellestad wrote:

All the evidence we have points to us being, 'just brains'.

However, that is like calling a star, 'just a fire'.  Accurate?  I guess.

 

 

Everything that I am is 'I'. Sure the brain does a lot of the processing, but our nerves extend throughout our bodies and I think that 'I' is not just the brain, but everything cumulatively is 'I'. I don't think it's really possible to separate the brain from the body, in terms of 'the mind' or the sense of 'I', they are too intertwined. 

 

 

 

I dunno, I think separating brain from body is a valid thing to do.  All consciousness certainly seems to reside in the brain, our nerves are just inputs to the central processor.  I can lose my arm and all I lose are the inputs that arm brought, I don't actually lose any processing power.

I don't have any problem calling the body, "I" though, the labels are arbitrary anyway when we're just a bunch of atoms bumping into other atoms.  It just seems to make more sense from a clarity perspective to say "I" am a product of my brain.

Everything makes more sense now that I've stopped believing.


lalib
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mellestad wrote: I dunno, I

mellestad wrote:

 

I dunno, I think separating brain from body is a valid thing to do.  All consciousness certainly seems to reside in the brain, our nerves are just inputs to the central processor.  I can lose my arm and all I lose are the inputs that arm brought, I don't actually lose any processing power.

I don't have any problem calling the body, "I" though, the labels are arbitrary anyway when we're just a bunch of atoms bumping into other atoms.  It just seems to make more sense from a clarity perspective to say "I" am a product of my brain.

 

I should have mentioned that not everything is processed in the brain. For example, your spinal cord controls repetitive, continuous motion (eg, walking and running) and there are other processes that are locally controlled with no input or response to or from the brain at all. Perhaps this clarifies the point I was trying to make. But I do agree with you that consciousness does seem to reside in the brain.