Origins of self-awareness/cognition/the soul

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Origins of self-awareness/cognition/the soul

Many argue that since humans have the ability to contemplate their own existence, there must be a God.  For the sake of this discussion, whether they center the debate upon consciousness, self awareness, or the soul is irrelevant as they are all philosophical concepts.

You can fundamentally alter anyone's level of consciousness, their ability to contemplate existence, and even their personality by directly altering the brain.  Studies have shown that hemorrhages of certain arteries in the brain (and traumatic brain injuries in general) lead to specific disabilities (i.e. injury to the orbitofrontal area makes a person sexually aggressive and inappropriate). 

If you can damage neurons directly and it can change a person's entire perception of life, then where is the argument for a soul?  If a priest sustains a TBI and ends up having increased sexual aggression and uncontrollable anger, what happened to his original soul?  Is it replaced with his new soul?  Which soul is judged when he dies?

It just seems that people use the word soul to explain human cognition even though there is already a proven correlation between certain areas of neuronal death and alterations in perception.


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Theoretically, brain

Theoretically, brain altering proves only that the brain is final outlet of the soul's consciousness. If you damage the brain, the ability of brain to process consciousness is damaged.

But to prove that the brain is a source of consciousness requires a different kind of evidence. Is it possible for a brain to be working, yet not conscious, fully or totally? I mean, cases like coma or dementia.

Is it possible to alter the brain in such a way, that the person is enhanced? I mean, learning something new, or becoming better in something, acquiring some new character trait - not pathologic, I mean...
You know, sometimes there are messages in the news, like that someone overnight forgot his language and suddenly started speaking perfectly english or german, with original accent. I think last time it was a boy from Ukraine, who probably didn't have much opportunity or will to watch english TV channels. Even if he could, that would mean that all language learning techniques are bullshit, that we can literally become a native speaksman overnight, which is beyond common sense.

Then there are rumors of medical cases of such people, who even with heavily damaged brain were able to completely restore their functions and now live a normal life. In some cases, there was no grey matter or the big brain lobes at all, only water in head.

I think Vladimir I. Lenin is the case quoted by some authors. He wrote some of his books when both halves of his brain didn't practically work, so the russian author says. (Lenin caught syphilis, I think) I know, these are just rumors and people will say that the brain can replace the functions of centers with some other centers. Only a doctor can be sure.

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Luminon wrote: But to prove

Luminon wrote:

 

But to prove that the brain is a source of consciousness requires a different kind of evidence. Is it possible for a brain to be working, yet not conscious, fully or totally? I mean, cases like coma or dementia.

 

Yes.  That is possible.  Brain stem strokes sometimes cause Locked In Syndrome (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Locked-in_syndrome).  The person is fully aware of their surroundings and can process all information, but their body is useless.  They have no voluntary control of their body.

On the flip side, a massive hemorrhage to the higher cortical center can lead people to be in a persistent vegitative state.  Their subcortical structures can continue to work, which means their autonomic system is spared.  These people can continue breathing, their hearts can continue beating, and their vital organs can continue to work even if there is no cortical activity.  Cortical activity allows perception.  Even without perception, a human can physically survive.

 

Luminon wrote:

Is it possible to alter the brain in such a way, that the person is enhanced? I mean, learning something new, or becoming better in something, acquiring some new character trait - not pathologic, I mean...

 

Again, this has been proven.  By altering the distribution of neurotransmitters within the brain, a person can have an increased ability to receive, process and retain information.  Think adderal and ritalin.  Amphetamines are given to almost any stroke patient suffering cognitive disabilities during rehabilitation because it has been proven to speed recovery. 

Altering the bio-chemistry of the brain can alter the learning of skills.

As for people being able to function in soceity without any cortical activity... I have never heard of that.  It seems impossible to me.

There is a case study of a person who suffered an injury where a metal rod became lodged in his head.  He remained functional, but his entire personality makeup changed.  His entire belief system shifted.  In essence, he became a different person.  If you'd like I can search for the study (I learned about it a few years back so it would take some digging).

What I am saying is that if there is a clear cut pattern where injury to specific places yields specific changes in the injured person (which is true), then how can we point to a soul as the origin of consciousness? 

 

 


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I guess what I'm getting at

I guess what I'm getting at is anyone who believes that there is some sort of soul must also submit to the fact that an injury to the brain can fundamentally change the soul.  If the brain is responsible for all of a soul's functions, then I would argue that the soul is just an extension of the brain's ability to function.  Therfore, the brain is the soul. 

And if that is the case, then why can't we just say there is no soul, and that our perception and interaction with the world is a function of the brain.


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rdklep8 wrote: Yes.  That

rdklep8 wrote:

 

Yes.  That is possible.  Brain stem strokes sometimes cause Locked In Syndrome (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Locked-in_syndrome).  The person is fully aware of their surroundings and can process all information, but their body is useless.  They have no voluntary control of their body.

On the flip side, a massive hemorrhage to the higher cortical center can lead people to be in a persistent vegitative state.  Their subcortical structures can continue to work, which means their autonomic system is spared.  These people can continue breathing, their hearts can continue beating, and their vital organs can continue to work even if there is no cortical activity.  Cortical activity allows perception.  Even without perception, a human can physically survive.

Yes, but this is not what I mean. Let's say that someone is in a coma. Doctors stand around and say, that all the brain centers and chemistry of this guy are all right, so he should stop pretending all these years, get up and continue to live a normal life. Is such a thing possible?


 

rdklep8 wrote:
Again, this has been proven.  By altering the distribution of neurotransmitters within the brain, a person can have an increased ability to receive, process and retain information.  Think adderal and ritalin.  Amphetamines are given to almost any stroke patient suffering cognitive disabilities during rehabilitation because it has been proven to speed recovery. 

Altering the bio-chemistry of the brain can alter the learning of skills.

As for people being able to function in soceity without any cortical activity... I have never heard of that.  It seems impossible to me.

There is a case study of a person who suffered an injury where a metal rod became lodged in his head.  He remained functional, but his entire personality makeup changed.  His entire belief system shifted.  In essence, he became a different person.  If you'd like I can search for the study (I learned about it a few years back so it would take some digging).

The first case is clear, the brain does the same thing, just better, thanks to the better distribution of neurotransmitters. But as for the second case, I wonder if the change of personality was immediate or transitional. I mean, deconversion from theism can be a long process. Did that man also had to go through a long time of rejecting old beliefs and finding new personality traits? I mean, a pipe in the head would rather work as an eraser, rather than bringer of something new.

 Look at this message. According to this, Dmitri Mitrovic started speaking perfect english overnight when he was just 3 years old. And this is not the first such case. He dreams, thinks and instinctively swears in english too. Experts think that he has some form of autistic talent. They also concluded that he speaks english better than them. In my opinion, experts are wrong. A serbian boy can not be possibly exposed to enough english vocabulary in first 3 years of life, to speak perfect english. (furthermore, he's not diagnosed autistic at all) I can only read english books comfortably for several last years. After about 15 years of learning english find a plenty of new words in literature and so on, my grammar is not perfect and I can't spell even if my life would depend on it. I know how to write all the words, but no spelling aloud. You know, my language (and serbian, I presume) is phonetic. I am instinctively opposed to assigning more than one sound to a letter. That makes spelling a painful experience. But this boy says in interview, that spelling for him is easy, among other things. So I know how impossible this is. For only english-speaking americanocentrists, try to get a really slow and old hard-drive half-full of extremely fragmented data and try to copy there a few gigabytes of new data and see it will take a time and never will be fast even when it's done.

 

rdklep8 wrote:
What I am saying is that if there is a clear cut pattern where injury to specific places yields specific changes in the injured person (which is true), then how can we point to a soul as the origin of consciousness? 

Let's say that the consciousness itself is not a thing of memories, personality, and so on. It is just awareness. In that case, a pure awareness of this kind would be a highly mystical experience. To discover the soul, we must search in mystical experiences, and not necessarily these emotionally or intellectually colored. Our mind and emotions make up the personality, but they also hide the original expanded consciousness.

Some people take such experience as a proof, that there is no death. Now, in the prison of body, they say, we are as dead (or dreaming) as we ever get to be.

 

rdklep8 wrote:

I guess what I'm getting at is anyone who believes that there is some sort of soul must also submit to the fact that an injury to the brain can fundamentally change the soul.  If the brain is responsible for all of a soul's functions, then I would argue that the soul is just an extension of the brain's ability to function.  Therfore, the brain is the soul. 

You should understand, that I'm stuck with very peculiar definition of the soul. I don't know how normal folks define a soul. Very vaguely, I guess. Something like Freud's ego term. Freud described the id, ego and superego as parts of personality. Id is something like the desires of physical body. Superego is something like the cold voice of reason. And ego is us, something in between, very emotional for most of people, holding desires, fears, hopes and beliefs and swayed between id and superego. In my system, the soul is not a part of personality. During life its expression through personality can be altered, but death sets it straight, as far as problems of physical brain and body are concerned.

You could imagine the model, as if the soul would be a light source, covered by a glass darkly of superego, ego and id, which results in our daily personality. 

rdklep8 wrote:
And if that is the case, then why can't we just say there is no soul, and that our perception and interaction with the world is a function of the brain.
Sure, this is the function of brain. As far as the strictly material world is concerned. If the case is, that we take a handful of mushrooms and start hypothesizing that dimensions of M-theory are real, then we can assume, that to be a human being means to have a living vehicle of consciousness in each of these dimensions. Or most of them, anyway.

When I'd get sober from the mushrooms, I would not know how much explanatory value it has. For most of us, the physical brain is a final gauge on the stream of consciousness. All experiences that we gathered elsewhere must be in the moment of waking squeezed through the narrow memory channels of brain. Most of the result is a mess, for most of people. For example, the brain of people colorblind since birth does not accept the idea of colors. The brain of people not believing they can fly adds to their flying dreams an airplane, so the dream is more "logical." But for the rest, I'd not be surprised if they could make use of other vehicles of consciousness (ego) if the physical brain would be damaged.

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rdklep8 wrote:Many argue

rdklep8 wrote:

Many argue that since humans have the ability to contemplate their own existence, there must be a God. 

I've never seen any make that argument.  Even if you could find one or two people that do, I think you'd be hard pressed to justify that 'many' people argue this.   

Quote:
You can fundamentally alter anyone's level of consciousness, their ability to contemplate existence, and even their personality by directly altering the brain.  Studies have shown that hemorrhages of certain arteries in the brain (and traumatic brain injuries in general) lead to specific disabilities (i.e. injury to the orbitofrontal area makes a person sexually aggressive and inappropriate). 

I really do not see this as much of an argument for the nonexistence of the soul.  At best, you prove that there is good reason to suppose that physical states affect mental states, and perhaps it is even possible to alter one's physical state via mental states.  All the while, mental states are still mental states, and physical states are still physical states.  This neither proves physicalism nor substance dualism. 

Quote:
If a priest sustains a TBI and ends up having increased sexual aggression and uncontrollable anger, what happened to his original soul?  Is it replaced with his new soul?  Which soul is judged when he dies?

Now you are conflating the self with outward behaviors--a metaphysical position known as 'behaviorism'.  Maybe bodily injury hinders one's ability to control his or her body via the will.  Again, this proves nothing regarding substance dualism or physicalism. 

 


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Mr_Metaphysics

Mr_Metaphysics wrote:

Quote:
You can fundamentally alter anyone's level of consciousness, their ability to contemplate existence, and even their personality by directly altering the brain.  Studies have shown that hemorrhages of certain arteries in the brain (and traumatic brain injuries in general) lead to specific disabilities (i.e. injury to the orbitofrontal area makes a person sexually aggressive and inappropriate). 

I really do not see this as much of an argument for the nonexistence of the soul.  At best, you prove that there is good reason to suppose that physical states affect mental states, and perhaps it is even possible to alter one's physical state via mental states.  All the while, mental states are still mental states, and physical states are still physical states.  This neither proves physicalism nor substance dualism. 

Quote:
If a priest sustains a TBI and ends up having increased sexual aggression and uncontrollable anger, what happened to his original soul?  Is it replaced with his new soul?  Which soul is judged when he dies?

Now you are conflating the self with outward behaviors--a metaphysical position known as 'behaviorism'.  Maybe bodily injury hinders one's ability to control his or her body via the will.  Again, this proves nothing regarding substance dualism or physicalism. 

 

I think the first piece you quoted of mine is a case for physicalism.

Evaluations of the brain through various modalities have pinpointed emotions.  That is... the types of neurotransmitters that go to certain areas and bind to  certain receptors when you are euphoric/frustrated/etc are predictable and reliable.  Yes I know that these are emotions.  But, I think that it's silly to try to separate 'emotions', 'behaviors' and 'self'.  The emotions you feel are intimately tied to your past experiences, your notions, and the stimuli itself.  Without those emotions, what would self be? 

Feeling passionate about something, being tired, getting annoyed- these are all things that can be seen on a physiological level.  What's more, we can see changes in the brain on a cellular level when someone is thinking profoundly, contemplating, or learning.  By your definition, are these still just emotions and behaviors?  When does the self/soul come into play?  What is its job? Do you think there is a definite separation between physical and mental states? 

Quote:

I really do not see this as much of an argument for the nonexistence of the soul.  At best, you prove that there is good reason to suppose that physical states affect mental states, and perhaps it is even possible to alter one's physical state via mental states.  All the while, mental states are still mental states, and physical states are still physical states.  This neither proves physicalism nor substance dualism.

My argument is that physical states govern mental states.  You cannot feel or act a certain way without the neurotransmittors in your brain doing the work.  Again, you may say I'm mixing up behaviors and self, but I am not an expert in dualism. I believe they are both dependent on each other.  I'd like to hear what you think about the subject instead of just telling me I didn't prove physicalism or dualism.  Regardess of how deeply we delve into this topic, I highly doubt anyone here will be able to shed enough light onto the situation to prove something that has been debated for thousands of years.

 

I ask a lot of these questions not try to corner you.  I have no desire to 'win' any debate.  I've never talked about this with others before, I have only internalized it and wanted to see other perspectives.


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Luminon wrote:Let's say that

Luminon wrote:

Let's say that the consciousness itself is not a thing of memories, personality, and so on. It is just awareness. In that case, a pure awareness of this kind would be a highly mystical experience. To discover the soul, we must search in mystical experiences, and not necessarily these emotionally or intellectually colored. Our mind and emotions make up the personality, but they also hide the original expanded consciousness.

Some people take such experience as a proof, that there is no death. Now, in the prison of body, they say, we are as dead (or dreaming) as we ever get to be.

That's a very interesting take.  Is this a personal theory of yours or some sort of -ism?  I had never thought of it that way.  So you're saying that consciousness is separate from self, or is there some sort of continuum?  What constitutes a mystical experience?  

 

Luminon wrote:

The first case is clear, the brain does the same thing, just better, thanks to the better distribution of neurotransmitters. But as for the second case, I wonder if the change of personality was immediate or transitional. I mean, deconversion from theism can be a long process. Did that man also had to go through a long time of rejecting old beliefs and finding new personality traits? I mean, a pipe in the head would rather work as an eraser, rather than bringer of something new.

 

The change occured when the man came out of his coma.  Things like this happen every day.  There is sizeable percentage of strokes that lead to permanent personality changes.  One of the branches of the profession I'm studying for is stroke rehabilitiation, and the focus is on both physical and cognitive changes.  Like I said before, when certain arteries are responsible for stroke, there is a specific set of complications that are plausible.  I just find it interesting that this is true for all humans.  If 100 different people had a hemorrhage of their middle cerebral artery, they would all present with a specific set of dysfunctions.  Granted, each person doesn't have each problem.  What is important, though, is that no one patient will present radically different from the others.  I think this continuity speaks to the predictability of the brain in governing our mental states. 

 

That one case of the boy who woke up speaking english is interesting, and I really would have no explanation for that if it turned out to be true.  I am naturally skeptical of news of this nature, though. 


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rdklep8 wrote:I think the

rdklep8 wrote:

I think the first piece you quoted of mine is a case for physicalism.

Evaluations of the brain through various modalities have pinpointed emotions.  That is... the types of neurotransmitters that go to certain areas and bind to  certain receptors when you are euphoric/frustrated/etc are predictable and reliable.  Yes I know that these are emotions.  But, I think that it's silly to try to separate 'emotions', 'behaviors' and 'self'.  The emotions you feel are intimately tied to your past experiences, your notions, and the stimuli itself.  Without those emotions, what would self be? 

I don't see it as a case for physicalism at all.  Very few have ever disputed that there is a correlation between the mind and the body.  We observe these correlations, but we can interpret these observations in many different ways; for instance, we can claim that everything is physical and psychological terminology is superfluous, or we can claim that mental states emerge from physical states--there are endless possibilities here.

For what it's worth, belief in the existence of the soul is rarely derived from one's inquiries in philosophy of mind.  Most people base it on their experience as free moral agents whose belief in God is validated through their own religious experience.  Granted, I know that is not good enough for you because it is unprovable, but in the end no amount of philosophy of mind will supersede the experiences of people.

Quote:
Feeling passionate about something, being tired, getting annoyed- these are all things that can be seen on a physiological level.  What's more, we can see changes in the brain on a cellular level when someone is thinking profoundly, contemplating, or learning.  By your definition, are these still just emotions and behaviors?  When does the self/soul come into play?  What is its job? Do you think there is a definite separation between physical and mental states? 

We may also see changes in the lungs, or the heart, or the fingers; correlation does not necessarily equal identity.  I do not dispute a connection between the mind and body, and I do not think anyone does.  As far as the purpose of the soul goes, my answers are based on religious experiences, so I do not think you'll be interested.

Quote:
My argument is that physical states govern mental states.  You cannot feel or act a certain way without the neurotransmittors in your brain doing the work.  Again, you may say I'm mixing up behaviors and self, but I am not an expert in dualism. I believe they are both dependent on each other.  I'd like to hear what you think about the subject instead of just telling me I didn't prove physicalism or dualism.  Regardess of how deeply we delve into this topic, I highly doubt anyone here will be able to shed enough light onto the situation to prove something that has been debated for thousands of years.

What makes you think neurotransmittors in my brain are not just the result of my autonomous will controlling my physical body? 

I believe that people are fundamentally immaterial, and that it is possible for us to exist without our bodies.

Quote:
I ask a lot of these questions not try to corner you.  I have no desire to 'win' any debate.  I've never talked about this with others before, I have only internalized it and wanted to see other perspectives.

Thanks, I appreciate that. 


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Mr_Metaphysics wrote:rdklep8

Mr_Metaphysics wrote:

rdklep8 wrote:

I think the first piece you quoted of mine is a case for physicalism.

Evaluations of the brain through various modalities have pinpointed emotions.  That is... the types of neurotransmitters that go to certain areas and bind to  certain receptors when you are euphoric/frustrated/etc are predictable and reliable.  Yes I know that these are emotions.  But, I think that it's silly to try to separate 'emotions', 'behaviors' and 'self'.  The emotions you feel are intimately tied to your past experiences, your notions, and the stimuli itself.  Without those emotions, what would self be? 

I don't see it as a case for physicalism at all.  Very few have ever disputed that there is a correlation between the mind and the body.  We observe these correlations, but we can interpret these observations in many different ways; for instance, we can claim that everything is physical and psychological terminology is superfluous, or we can claim that mental states emerge from physical states--there are endless possibilities here.

For what it's worth, belief in the existence of the soul is rarely derived from one's inquiries in philosophy of mind.  Most people base it on their experience as free moral agents whose belief in God is validated through their own religious experience.  Granted, I know that is not good enough for you because it is unprovable, but in the end no amount of philosophy of mind will supersede the experiences of people.

Quote:
Feeling passionate about something, being tired, getting annoyed- these are all things that can be seen on a physiological level.  What's more, we can see changes in the brain on a cellular level when someone is thinking profoundly, contemplating, or learning.  By your definition, are these still just emotions and behaviors?  When does the self/soul come into play?  What is its job? Do you think there is a definite separation between physical and mental states? 

We may also see changes in the lungs, or the heart, or the fingers; correlation does not necessarily equal identity.  I do not dispute a connection between the mind and body, and I do not think anyone does.  As far as the purpose of the soul goes, my answers are based on religious experiences, so I do not think you'll be interested.

Quote:
My argument is that physical states govern mental states.  You cannot feel or act a certain way without the neurotransmittors in your brain doing the work.  Again, you may say I'm mixing up behaviors and self, but I am not an expert in dualism. I believe they are both dependent on each other.  I'd like to hear what you think about the subject instead of just telling me I didn't prove physicalism or dualism.  Regardess of how deeply we delve into this topic, I highly doubt anyone here will be able to shed enough light onto the situation to prove something that has been debated for thousands of years.

What makes you think neurotransmittors in my brain are not just the result of my autonomous will controlling my physical body? 

I believe that people are fundamentally immaterial, and that it is possible for us to exist without our bodies.

Quote:
I ask a lot of these questions not try to corner you.  I have no desire to 'win' any debate.  I've never talked about this with others before, I have only internalized it and wanted to see other perspectives.

Thanks, I appreciate that. 

I find it interesting how there are so many different possibilities and different angles to look at the mind/body concept.  For me, studying the body and the intimate relationship between the brain and the rest of the body has put a lot of this into perspective.  A lot of our feelings and perception isn't even based in our brain.  The GI tract and sensory receptors throughout our body are responsible for most of our daily thoughts and feelings.  I think the mind is a product of our environment.

When you said that I wouldn't be interested in your perspective because it came from relgious and spiritual experiences... you're wrong.  I'd like to know where your basis for your argument comes from and what you believe is the basis for the soul/consciousness regardless of what you drew your theory from.


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rdklep8 wrote:Mr_Metaphysics

rdklep8 wrote:

I find it interesting how there are so many different possibilities and different angles to look at the mind/body concept.  For me, studying the body and the intimate relationship between the brain and the rest of the body has put a lot of this into perspective.  A lot of our feelings and perception isn't even based in our brain.  The GI tract and sensory receptors throughout our body are responsible for most of our daily thoughts and feelings.  I think the mind is a product of our environment.

When you said that I wouldn't be interested in your perspective because it came from relgious and spiritual experiences... you're wrong.  I'd like to know where your basis for your argument comes from and what you believe is the basis for the soul/consciousness regardless of what you drew your theory from.

Well, I wouldn't call it a 'theory'.  I totally understand that everything I'm about to say is not indisputable; you can interpret it in an atheistic way.  (And yes, I'm aware that psychologists and neuroscientists believe they can explain all of this.)  Nevertheless, you wanted my reasons, and here they are:

My belief in the soul is based on my experience as a moral agent.  In my profession, I help people.  The people I deal with have lost all their money, their homes, and their health.  By the end of it, when they are happy and thanking me, I feel like I've done something special; I feel rewarded.   The reason I feel rewarded, to my perception, is that human beings are ends in themselves (see Kant) and we have an inherent duty towards one another that has nothing to do with personal gain.  I do not feel this way with things that are nothing more than complex conglomerations of subatomic particles. 

I've also accepted the metaphysical evidence for God, and the historical evidence for Christianity.  The Bible says we have souls, and I believe it.

Now I understand atheists are going to mock me.  But understand that I am not asking them to believe in God because I have particular experiences.  Evaluate the evidence inasmuch that it is subject-independent; if you are still unconvinced, then I only hope you will one day experience the world as I do.


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rdklep8 wrote:That's a very

rdklep8 wrote:

That's a very interesting take.  Is this a personal theory of yours or some sort of -ism?  I had never thought of it that way.  So you're saying that consciousness is separate from self, or is there some sort of continuum?  What constitutes a mystical experience? 

Yes, it is esotericism, which is a very broad philosophy of evolution of consciousness.  But it is also my personal experience. It is claimed, that since the start of civilization, the consciousness develops much faster than physical body. What we see are two separate evolutions, of bodily form and consciousness...

Personality is separated from the source of pure consciousness. (soul) There is a basic amount of awareness, but each of the vehicles (body, emotionality, mentality) has selfish desires of it's own, that initially dominate the personality.

The process is about gradual perfecting the personality in such a way, that it becomes capable being fully en rapport with the soul. We do not actually raise the soul's own consciousness, that's not necessary, we just become better at reacting to it through overcoming our vices. Initially the soul's consciousness seems so much brighter than our own, so religious people or mystics think that they are in contact with a divine being. Only with development they realize, that it is a higher part of themselves and they are an outpost, an instrument of it.   Mystics are those, who "see double," they see the dirty imperfection of themselves and the world, and they see the divine reality provided by the soul experience. And it sometimes drives them crazy. Religious worship is basically a historically imprecise, dumbed-down version of it.

rdklep8 wrote:

The change occured when the man came out of his coma.  Things like this happen every day.  There is sizeable percentage of strokes that lead to permanent personality changes.  One of the branches of the profession I'm studying for is stroke rehabilitiation, and the focus is on both physical and cognitive changes.  Like I said before, when certain arteries are responsible for stroke, there is a specific set of complications that are plausible.  I just find it interesting that this is true for all humans.  If 100 different people had a hemorrhage of their middle cerebral artery, they would all present with a specific set of dysfunctions.  Granted, each person doesn't have each problem.  What is important, though, is that no one patient will present radically different from the others.  I think this continuity speaks to the predictability of the brain in governing our mental states. 

 

That one case of the boy who woke up speaking english is interesting, and I really would have no explanation for that if it turned out to be true.  I am naturally skeptical of news of this nature, though. 

I heard that such a personality change, although lesser, may occur also after surgery with total anaesthesia. It may certainly occur after heavy medication given out at madhouses, maybe after electric shock therapy. Something like that happened to my grandfather, when I wasn't yet born.

It would be interesting to study, if such a person would have a different dreams than before. For example, my dreams are almost never related to my daily life, I almost don't re-live the daily events at night. My brain of course processes the daily events and clears memory, but meanwhile my astral body (ghost body, emotional body, etc) does not stand nearby but goes out after its business that is much different from my daily life. From an esotericist's point of view, the dreams theoretically should not change in content, because a damage of physical brain should not impede the astral body when it's free. The only distortion of memory may occur when the person is waking up, but that's individual.

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 Mr_Metaphysics, The fact

 Mr_Metaphysics, 

The fact that other people appear to you as much more that what you imagine something that was a mere "complex conglomerations of subatomic particles." could possibly be like, merely reflects your limited knowledge and imagination. I will acknowledge that if you have not spent a lot of time following the progress of neuroscience, and the implications of complex systems, as well as our very finite imaginations, it can be hard to accept that there is no 'need' for a 'soul' to explain your entirely subjective impressions.

It does not remotely constitute a serious arguments. It is a fallacy, an argument from ignorance or incredulity.

If you only have a degree in philosophy, that does not remotely qualify you to grasp the modern understanding of 'Life, the Universe, and Everything'.

Although it should have given you sufficient training in logic to see the many faults in your arguments.

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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Mr_Metaphysics wrote:rdklep8

Mr_Metaphysics wrote:

rdklep8 wrote:

I find it interesting how there are so many different possibilities and different angles to look at the mind/body concept.  For me, studying the body and the intimate relationship between the brain and the rest of the body has put a lot of this into perspective.  A lot of our feelings and perception isn't even based in our brain.  The GI tract and sensory receptors throughout our body are responsible for most of our daily thoughts and feelings.  I think the mind is a product of our environment.

When you said that I wouldn't be interested in your perspective because it came from relgious and spiritual experiences... you're wrong.  I'd like to know where your basis for your argument comes from and what you believe is the basis for the soul/consciousness regardless of what you drew your theory from.

Well, I wouldn't call it a 'theory'.  I totally understand that everything I'm about to say is not indisputable; you can interpret it in an atheistic way.  (And yes, I'm aware that psychologists and neuroscientists believe they can explain all of this.)  Nevertheless, you wanted my reasons, and here they are:

My belief in the soul is based on my experience as a moral agent.  In my profession, I help people.  The people I deal with have lost all their money, their homes, and their health.  By the end of it, when they are happy and thanking me, I feel like I've done something special; I feel rewarded.   The reason I feel rewarded, to my perception, is that human beings are ends in themselves (see Kant) and we have an inherent duty towards one another that has nothing to do with personal gain.  I do not feel this way with things that are nothing more than complex conglomerations of subatomic particles. 

I've also accepted the metaphysical evidence for God, and the historical evidence for Christianity.  The Bible says we have souls, and I believe it.

Now I understand atheists are going to mock me.  But understand that I am not asking them to believe in God because I have particular experiences.  Evaluate the evidence inasmuch that it is subject-independent; if you are still unconvinced, then I only hope you will one day experience the world as I do.

 

I'm not trying to bust your balls here, just an honest question.  Smiling

 

What is your motivation for accepting the assumption of dualism?  Is it just the emotional positivity you get from the idea?  Is it an intellectual thing where you think dualism plugs gaps in our knowledge?  Do you feel it has some explanatory power that physicalism lacks?

 

I can understand the emotional reasoning, even if I don't agree with it.  The problem with that assumption is it leaves no room for discussion or compromise between the two camps.

If one of the other two, could you elaborate on what specific things you think dualism accomplishes?  To me it seems like an axiom with no inherent worth...it doesn't do anything and arguing for it has no pragmatic value, so I'm sort of stumped.

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


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mellestad wrote:I can

mellestad wrote:

I can understand the emotional reasoning, even if I don't agree with it.  The problem with that assumption is it leaves no room for discussion or compromise between the two camps.

I understand that, which is why I told the original poster in the beginning that I did not think he'd be interested in that part of my reasoning.  However, he told me that he was interested, so I told him.  My point was that philosophy of mind has very little to do with why people believe in the soul.  That's not say that this belief is not philosophically tenable, but it is to say that people do not necessarily need philosophy in order to believe it.


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Luminon wrote:From an

Luminon wrote:
From an esotericist's point of view, the dreams theoretically should not change in content, because a damage of physical brain should not impede the astral body when it's free. The only distortion of memory may occur when the person is waking up, but that's individual.

That would be an interesting experiment Laughing out loud Are you willing to take a rock to the head for it, though?

Now seriously:
(since we're talking about dreams) you, Luminon, asked if there are states where our brain works, but our consciousness doesn't, right? When you're dreaming, you're not aware of it, only when you wake up, you remember your dreams. When you are aware when dreaming, you're in a special state most people are not in. When you're sleep walking, you are also not aware (usually), because you're in a dream state where you are not paralysed, this dream state, though, is so low that you barely have any dreams at all, let alone awareness.

I also wondered about how we could test whether our consciousness is part of our brain, or somehow connected with the brain (with the brain being some sort of antenna). Although Occam's Razor would tell us it's the former, since the latter is more complicated, maybe there is some evidence, and we could make a proper choice...

Over time, I change. A couple of years ago, the way I thought was totally different from how I think now. And I'm pretty sure that when I get older I will be someone else, too. Our brain is changing. But if we had a soul, wouldn't it stay the same? I think the ich would remain the same, in that case. But it doesn't really. We only have the illusion that we are the same person we were a couple of years ago.

 


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Thunderios wrote:Luminon

Thunderios wrote:

Luminon wrote:
From an esotericist's point of view, the dreams theoretically should not change in content, because a damage of physical brain should not impede the astral body when it's free. The only distortion of memory may occur when the person is waking up, but that's individual.

That would be an interesting experiment Laughing out loud Are you willing to take a rock to the head for it, though?
I have no idea what the result might be, but it's not up to me, it's up to patients to report such changes. I'd have to deal with the result somehow. Of course I mean a radical change in dream content, not things like damaged ability to remember them.

Thunderios wrote:
Now seriously:
(since we're talking about dreams) you, Luminon, asked if there are states where our brain works, but our consciousness doesn't, right? When you're dreaming, you're not aware of it, only when you wake up, you remember your dreams. When you are aware when dreaming, you're in a special state most people are not in. When you're sleep walking, you are also not aware (usually), because you're in a dream state where you are not paralysed, this dream state, though, is so low that you barely have any dreams at all, let alone awareness.
But I am aware that I am dreaming. It's not a lucid dreaming, I am just consciously aware of what I'm doing, without comparing it to the waking life. I remember all the counless circumstances that unfold the story of my dream activities. And I know that I will later not remember them all, but I remember that I knew them at the time. On the contrary, when I wake up, I sooner or later forget most of my dreams, but I know that I forgot much of what was going on. I know that in dreams I was aware and making logical decisions. It's not like I'm doing nothing all night and then in the morning my brain tells me a story of a dream. Nope, it's like I'm busy all night and then all the memory is squeezed through narrow entrance of memory and I know that most of it got lost.

Yes, I was reputedly sleepwalking (and talking) once, so they told me. I had no dreams at the time or awareness of what I was doing, just darkness.

Thunderios wrote:
  I also wondered about how we could test whether our consciousness is part of our brain, or somehow connected with the brain (with the brain being some sort of antenna). Although Occam's Razor would tell us it's the former, since the latter is more complicated, maybe there is some evidence, and we could make a proper choice...
I have just a personal evidence. Robert Allan Monroe had a personal evidence too. Enough to convince one person, not everyone.
But I wonder how can anyone apply Occam's razor in the universe that is made of the "mysterious" dark matter and six more M-theory dimensions.

Thunderios wrote:
   Over time, I change. A couple of years ago, the way I thought was totally different from how I think now. And I'm pretty sure that when I get older I will be someone else, too. Our brain is changing. But if we had a soul, wouldn't it stay the same? I think the ich would remain the same, in that case. But it doesn't really. We only have the illusion that we are the same person we were a couple of years ago.
Depends on what you call a soul. If you mean our emotionality and mentality, they are parts of personality and so they change. As for the holy grail of mystics, the soul, it does not change noticeably from our point of view. Our awareness and notion of it changes, as we change.

As for the illusion of being the same person, well, not everyone has it. I change so much, that compared to every previous year I feel like an idiot and I dare not to think about how I behaved more years ago. I love to burn bridges behind myself. Gives me a sense of safety from degeneration. For a long time I had a feeling like I did not feel any different with passing years, but that's gone long ago.
The consciousness of personality is a peculiar thing. All is fine, as long as you don't poke into it. When you start doing it, you can reveal things that you may not like and may want to solve, not knowing how, which may result in depression. Seeing yourself as you are, seeing your false illusions may be a shocking experience. But they are distinct from the consciousness itself - for example - it does not judge. The personality judges, not the soul.

Beings who deserve worship don't demand it. Beings who demand worship don't deserve it.


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Luminon wrote:The

Luminon wrote:


The consciousness of personality is a peculiar thing. All is fine, as long as you don't poke into it. When you start doing it, you can reveal things that you may not like and may want to solve, not knowing how, which may result in depression. Seeing yourself as you are, seeing your false illusions may be a shocking experience. But they are distinct from the consciousness itself - for example - it does not judge. The personality judges, not the soul.

 

I can completely agree with that statement.  I feel that whenever I become introspective and I come across something peculiar about myself, I begin to lose my train of thought.  I feel like my subconscious is fighting against my train of thought, and I have to focus as best as I can in order to gather my thoughts and come to a sort of conclusion.  These experiences have always lead to me realizing something profound about myself.  The difference between you and I is that I don't consider this a mystical experience.  I think it is entirely psychological, and I may have built up some defense mechanisms against myself (or others) from reaching that conclusion.

 

mellestad wrote:

What is your motivation for accepting the assumption of dualism?  Is it just the emotional positivity you get from the idea?  Is it an intellectual thing where you think dualism plugs gaps in our knowledge?  Do you feel it has some explanatory power that physicalism lacks?

I can understand the emotional reasoning, even if I don't agree with it.  The problem with that assumption is it leaves no room for discussion or compromise between the two camps.

If one of the other two, could you elaborate on what specific things you think dualism accomplishes?  To me it seems like an axiom with no inherent worth...it doesn't do anything and arguing for it has no pragmatic value, so I'm sort of stumped.

  

 

This is the basis from which all of my questions have come from, I just didn't have the ability to state it this clearly.  I haven't really found any shortcomings in the concept of physicalism, and due to the lack of evidence for a soul, it just seems odd to make a case for it.


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Hi again Mr Met

 

Mr_Metaphysics wrote:

My belief in the soul is based on my experience as a moral agent.  In my profession, I help people.  The people I deal with have lost all their money, their homes, and their health.  By the end of it, when they are happy and thanking me, I feel like I've done something special; I feel rewarded.   The reason I feel rewarded, to my perception, is that human beings are ends in themselves (see Kant) and we have an inherent duty towards one another that has nothing to do with personal gain.  I do not feel this way with things that are nothing more than complex conglomerations of subatomic particles. 

 

Your core belief seems based on feelings, on the connection you feel with other people. Why don't you think these feelings of goodness are an inherent part of Mr Met, not a part of something immaterial and supernatural?

Personally, I delight in being a conglomeration of subatomic particles. You seem to be undervaluing raw material as somehow dumb, meaningless, pointless, directionless. From an atheist's point of view, what we know of reality declares that this is not so. The operations of living organisms, as you obviously know, are observably physical and no less wondrous and incomprehensible for that.

Physicality is profoundly diverse. You can't compare the nature of the rocks to the nature of people - I think you're pushing to one side the amazing nature of molecular atomics. I like the fact that as I sit in my seat what my negatively charged arse particles are feeling are the negatively charged particles of the seat repelling my arse - and not without good reason.

There's a sense of awe in the comprehension that we are physical things. For me this so much better than nebulous arguments from complexity and morality set against a backdrop of threat and fear. We are obviously made of something - positing the invisible and unknowable instead of embracing something actual seems strange. And there's an arrogance to it, as well. Our knowledge is a toddler - only a few hundred years old. Suggesting it will grow no further is a grave mistake.

I enjoy the honesty of your posts. I'd probably be fine with god people if they did not attempt to trademark morality and to slap unbelievers about with ad hominem like original sin and threats of eternal damnation - it's this inherent violence at the heart of monotheism that engenders my intense hostility. If god is not morally consistent he is clearly not god but a human contrivance. I would never worship the christian or muslim killer gods. It bothers me people blithely can.

Finally, I wish you could see the world as I see it, not as a place of evil and horror with satan hidden behind every door, but a strange and magnificent mystery we should not trivialise through the application of too much human imagination. The universe does not owe us a sense of purpose. It's only in making our own meaning - collectively and individually - that we become fully human.

 

"Experiments are the only means of knowledge at our disposal. The rest is poetry, imagination." Max Planck


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Luminon wrote:But I am aware

Luminon wrote:


But I am aware that I am dreaming. It's not lucid dreaming, I am just consciously aware of what I'm doing, without comparing it to the waking life. I remember all the counless circumstances that unfold the story of my dream activities. And I know that I will later not remember them all, but I remember that I knew them at the time. On the contrary, when I wake up, I sooner or later forget most of my dreams, but I know that I forgot much of what was going on. I know that in dreams I was aware and making logical decisions. It's not like I'm doing nothing all night and then in the morning my brain tells me a story of a dream. Nope, it's like I'm busy all night and then all the memory is squeezed through narrow entrance of memory and I know that most of it got lost.



Wow. I barely remember my dreams at all, and you have these semi-conscious dreams (I don't know how to call them Laughing out loud). If there's such a thing as a soul, you're much more susceptible to it's signals than I am.

Luminon wrote:
Yes, I was reputedly sleepwalking (and talking) once, so they told me. I had no dreams at the time or awareness of what I was doing, just darkness.

Does that, then, answer your question?
Luminon wrote:
But to prove that the brain is a source of consciousness requires a different kind of evidence. Is it possible for a brain to be working, yet not conscious, fully or totally? I mean, cases like coma or dementia.


Luminon wrote:
But I wonder how can anyone apply Occam's razor in the universe that is made of the "mysterious" dark matter and six more M-theory dimensions.

I don't know enough about physics to say there are any alternatives to those two theories, but doesn't Occam's Razor only apply to a dilemma? The dilemma we're facing now would be something like: Is the brain a bottleneck for our soul's output, or is our brain the thing we would call a soul?

Luminon wrote:
Depends on what you call a soul. If you mean our emotionality and mentality, they are parts of personality and so they change. As for the holy grail of mystics, the soul, it does not change noticeably from our point of view. Our awareness and notion of it changes, as we change.

I suppose so... I don't really have much to say about this Smiling

Luminon wrote:
As for the illusion of being the same person, well, not everyone has it. I change so much, that compared to every previous year I feel like an idiot and I dare not to think about how I behaved more years ago. I love to burn bridges behind myself. Gives me a sense of safety from degeneration. For a long time I had a feeling like I did not feel any different with passing years, but that's gone long ago.

Do you also see your subconsciousness as something different from yourself, like a tool, a computer you can use to solve problems? Or is it actually part of the ich thing, too?


Luminon wrote:
The consciousness of personality is a peculiar thing. All is fine, as long as you don't poke into it. When you start doing it, you can reveal things that you may not like and may want to solve, not knowing how, which may result in depression. Seeing yourself as you are, seeing your false illusions may be a shocking experience. But they are distinct from the consciousness itself - for example - it does not judge. The personality judges, not the soul.

I can't say I have explored that much of myself to know what you are talking about Smiling I still have a lot to learn!

And another thing. Do you think that telepathy would be 'proof' of us having a soul, since we don't have any known physical mechanism for it to happen?


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Thunderios wrote:Wow. I

Thunderios wrote:

Wow. I barely remember my dreams at all, and you have these semi-conscious dreams (I don't know how to call them Laughing out loud). If there's such a thing as a soul, you're much more susceptible to it's signals than I am.

Semi-conscious, that's the word! Several times I tried to interfere with my dreams, to talk with people in the dream as I would talk with them in real life. I tried to explain them some things that were going on in my waking life. They had no idea what I was talking about. So it seems to me that my dream consciousness knows much better to do and where. This is why I think that things like astral projection or lucid dreaming are usually a waste of time. This also is why I'm not worried if I forget the whole dream. If I remember something of it or not, that depends on how I wake up and what I have to do after waking up. 

It is also interesting, that for many years now I had no nightmares as we understand them. If there is any scary monster or situation in a dream, I handle it like I would play a video game. (which is my hobby) Maybe with some fear, but boldly and brutally just for the fun of it. 

Thunderios wrote:

I don't know enough about physics to say there are any alternatives to those two theories, but doesn't Occam's Razor only apply to a dilemma? The dilemma we're facing now would be something like: Is the brain a bottleneck for our soul's output, or is our brain the thing we would call a soul?
I see you understand the question well. 

Thunderios wrote:
 Do you also see your subconsciousness as something different from yourself, like a tool, a computer you can use to solve problems? Or is it actually part of the ich thing, too?
I see the whole human being as a modular thing. There are multiple modules, one for body, one for emotions, one for intellect, for example. I see the subconsciousness as a sum of all functions of these modules, that are not under our conscious control. This can happen for two reasons, either we're yet unable to take control of them.  Or we already had a control of these functions and they dropped under the threshold of consciousness for our convenience, to work automatically. (breathing, driving, foreign languages)

The whole personality very much reminds me of computer with its layers of abstraction, like software we use, operating system it runs on, and hardware. Here also applies, that those who poke into it may uncover hidden functions (aura vision, anyone?), write their own useful programs, stop unnecessary processes, increase performance, remove Trojan horse virus backdoors into the system, or make it all go haywire. 

On the other hand, the soul does not seem to me like that at all. It is superior in consciousness, unanimous, almost omniscient, very purposeful, very loving, but very impersonal and unsentimental. I think, this is the greatest mystery and challenge for the science of psychology for the next decades. The superconsciousness that people of all backgrounds make contact with. I can tell if someone has contacted the soul, if they describe their experiences. Christians talk about it without reservations, because they think that this is Jesus or God in their heart, but if it is, then it is the least Biblical god ever.


Thunderios wrote:

I can't say I have explored that much of myself to know what you are talking about Smiling I still have a lot to learn!

And another thing. Do you think that telepathy would be 'proof' of us having a soul, since we don't have any known physical mechanism for it to happen?

Yeah, I have much to learn as well. To have broad consciousness is nice, but my lesson is to put borders to it, so that I focus on everyday life and other people. These borders may then become zones of busy interaction with others. Otherwise it looks like I'm "not at home" most of the time. 

I don't think that telepathy is a good evidence. It is so rare. Nobody I ever personally met had it reliably figured out. Probably, because telepathy is today almost useless, with all the cell phones and internet. There's no motivation to develop it. 

People with reliable kinds of ESP are very rare and usually very busy and usually they detect just a small part of what there is to see, so their fields of detection may not necessarily overlap. But theoretically we just need to prove that something exists beyond the edge of the skin.

When I was on a university, I had an old professor of philosophy. He is a great man of many accomplishments, wrote many books, learned many languages, performed also many yoga and meditation exercises. He had many visions and other  experiences. But he remained skeptical to them all. I think he was too old to change his mind from a narrow, materialistic worldview. Despite of all the new theories of dark matter or parallel dimensions (which are basically also defined by a different state of matter) he remained convinced that brain must be doing all this.

He once told me about his dowsing experiments. He made a simple wooden dowsing stick. He walked over a water stream several meters underground. The dowsing stick was pried and pulled out of his hand by great force, like he would put it directly into the streaming water. He saw with his own senses, that object A (streaming water) influenced very strongly the object B (dowsing stick) in his hands even through an obstacle of soil. His grandchildren learned the trick too. And yet, despite of this all he remained skeptical. He ran out of words, when I asked him why. 

I think we should stop automatically presuming that everything magically happens inside our heads. If the exotic multi-dimensional stuff exists as M-theory says, then life evolved along with it. The human being may very possibly be a symbiosis between biological hardware of animal origin, astral dimension emotional system and mental dimension application environment. When one symbiotic part is destroyed - like physical body, then other parts may go on, just not in the physical world. And there remains the question who or what tries to use this symbiosis as vehicle of expression from even higher dimensions. 

There are more things between the heaven and earth than we can find in our philosophy. 
I just want to say, that these things are nothing new. For millenia they created shaped all beliefs, superstitions, religions and notions of the supernatural. If these traditions are of other than materialistic origin, they may not be explainable by a  strictly materialistic science, which is subsequently forced to dismiss them. As science progresses forward from the materialistic domain, we may expect that it will start addressing that, which is currently called supernatural, only now with a real understanding. I hope the scientists will not be too closed-minded like my old professor of philosophy. 

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Regarding the first post: I

Regarding the first post: I have never seen any proof that the brain is the soul or that it is consciousness, only conjecture. The brain is just an organ. If it gets damaged the body responds in kind. This is not proof that there is no soul. It could just mean that the brain and soul/conscious were just disconnected?? I think a more reasonable explanation is that the brain is a physical link between the conscious and the environment acting as an interpreter and a transmitter. It interprets our surroundings and gives the conscious reference. It also interprets our "will" and creates and electric impulse so we can move. Our will is manifested in the physical. But hey, thats just my take.


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Newbie wrote:Regarding the

Newbie wrote:

Regarding the first post: I have never seen any proof that the brain is the soul or that it is consciousness, only conjecture. The brain is just an organ. If it gets damaged the body responds in kind. This is not proof that there is no soul. It could just mean that the brain and soul/conscious were just disconnected?? I think a more reasonable explanation is that the brain is a physical link between the conscious and the environment acting as an interpreter and a transmitter. It interprets our surroundings and gives the conscious reference. It also interprets our "will" and creates and electric impulse so we can move. Our will is manifested in the physical. But hey, thats just my take.

What leads you to think that?  That's my problem with this line of thinking, there isn't any reason to adopt that stance.

Put another way, how would you prove or disprove what you are saying?  How could we tell the difference between the brain being responsible for consciousness and the brain being a mere transmitter?

 

I can think of plenty of things that would falsify the brain as the root of consciousness, but none of them happen.  *shrug*

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