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Subject: Persona 3: FES
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Date: 3rd October 2014 Time: 16:00 EST
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Author Topic: Human Consciousness' existence  (Read 1682 times)
Dios GX
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« on: July 28, 2006, 05:05:30 AM »

Posted this in my livejournal but that's another audience of people that reads that as compared to here. Thought I'd share this, for anybody with an opinion on the matter.

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Where does the state of human consciousness, of existence, of being, really begin?

I was talking to somebody tonight about Ghost in the Shell briefly, and about somebody my mom works with who has a prosthetic leg that connects to his neural network directly function with artificial intelligence to act as a real leg. The leg itself connects as far as his brain to work with motor skills to allow walking as if it were real.

I thought to myself, how far along would it be until full bodies of prosthesis could exist to the point of full functionality? As limbs, torsos, and bodies that run off of kinetic energy.

This thought then led me to think... are our bodies themselves mere exoskeletal structures formed around our brains? Is an actual person nothing more than a brain itself with nerves, bone and muscle that function off of it?

Consider, your limbs and organs contain no form of memory. A broken limb, fracture or damaged part of your body. When these recover and are healed, there is a point that using them normally causes pain or stress. There is a reason behind this, a mental one. The brain remembers what part of its neural network was damaged and even though it is fully healed and repaired, the brain still remembers it and that is actually what causes it to function improperly. There are electronic stimulation therapeutic methods used through seaweed pads and electronic pulses, that when applied to the body 2 hours a day for a period of months, will cause the brain to think "hey, this is fixed" and will then function properly.

This leads me to conclude the body itself contains no memory capabilities, and that every aspect of a person's being, is all in the brain––the mind itself.

If that brain were removed, encased in a protective shell and electronic prods were embedded into key points of it to stimulate its functionality, placed into a full prosthetic body, a robot if you will... would that person themselves still exist in another form? Perhaps it would retain memories and function, move in the same method as that person. But would that person, their consciousness still exist? Would they be aware of it?

Where, in all reality, does a human themselves, really exist? Where does one's self really begin?
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Lucid
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« Reply #1 on: July 28, 2006, 09:11:26 AM »

In neuroscience we learn that concioussness rises from neurons in the brain oscillating at different frequencies. I can't explain it very well in a short sentence, but here is some reading material about it.http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/mind/electric.html
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Dios GX
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« Reply #2 on: July 28, 2006, 02:41:12 PM »

Quote
Some people believe we are something beyond neurons, but of course we are not. We are just the sum total of the activity of neurons. We assume that we have free will and that we make decisions, but we don't. Neurons do. We decide that this sum total driving us is a decision we have made for ourselves. But it is not.


This particular quote is what intrigued me the most. A person's being is a summary of what the neurons in their brains decide to do. So at the base core level of existence, a person actions are all based on microscopic neuron oscillations that say "hey, maybe we shouldn't drive through a fuckin' red light."

Best read I've had in years.
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Jimmy
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« Reply #3 on: July 28, 2006, 04:53:51 PM »

Yet neurons are still a mystery. Scientists have no idea how something like consciousness develops from the simple processes of neurons which function like on and off switches. I think most agree it is where consciousness comes from but there is a lot of debate and speculation still on "how" it comes from.

It's like asking an African bushman to explain how the simple nature of flipping a light switch can turn on a light. Sure it seems simple enough, even to us, yet it is a bit difficult even for a "modern" person to explain.

My thought of it is consciousness is a lot less complex than people make it out to be. Don't ask me to explain, but that is just my vague idea.
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Takezo
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« Reply #4 on: July 28, 2006, 07:08:12 PM »

If this interests you that much, I think you'd enjoy reading Neuromancer. Bonus points for every sci-fi anime ever shamelessly borrowing from this book.
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Ramza
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« Reply #5 on: July 29, 2006, 12:05:41 AM »

Quote
We are just the sum total of the activity of neurons. We assume that we have free will and that we make decisions, but we don't. Neurons do.


If "we" don't, but "neurons" do...BUT I am the sum total of neuron activity, then aren't the neurons equivalent to me? And thus, I *do* have a will, I just don't understand how my own will is formulated.

Quote
Some people believe we are something beyond neurons, but of course we are not.


Of course we aren't! It's so obvious. All that silliness about people having "souls" and whatnot, it's all silly blind religious stupidity.

Sorry, call it my defense mechanism, but without simply mocking these sorts of statements, I don't see why I don't just throw my life away in a senseless act of mass violence. It's called Nihilism. Yee-freakin'-ha.

Ramza
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Lucid
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« Reply #6 on: July 29, 2006, 12:19:38 AM »

I think what he meant by that free will stuff is that what we see as our free will and all that is more of an illusion in that what we think of as ourselves is just an extension of the reactions the neuron based mind interprets.

I don't know if I explained that too well. Personally I believe even if we are created by electric source, it doesn't mean we aren't something beyond that. Like a painting, it may really be just different oils and such, but it can be much more.
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Eusis
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« Reply #7 on: July 29, 2006, 12:39:05 AM »

This is going to be rambly, and possibly incoherent, but... We know by far and large how it works biologically, but... I dunno if it's that conciousness is /that/ 'simple' of a thing. That's how it operates, but what keeps our awareness to just ourselves and seperate from each others, beyond just the biology? What makes us distinct from a non-organic checmical reaction or a computer? I can't say I really know the answer, but it's stuff like this that, to me, makes it stupid as hell to flat out say there is no God, or any other supernatural force. The point of science is to find out what we can, and without hard evidence we really can't say either way, albit it's probably better to presume there isn't one when researching.

This poses an interestin question, nevertheless - a lot of what makes us, us are those neurons and whatever chemicals are in our brain. What then, is the soul/spirit/whatever removed from those? How different would we be if uninfluenced by our bodies? Would we just copy those because it's what we know, or would we truly become different people? And for the technological path, would our memories and personality being copied to a computer truly be us, or just imitations? A person may be their father's son, and thus half of a duplicate essentially, but he is also not the same person. Hell, a similar question could be posed if a brain were gradually replaced with mechanical parts, until it essentially became fully a computer.

But, as for what Tony asked if a person would still be themselves if their /brain/, as in their original, organic brain was placed into a robotic body? I'd say that's still them; if nothing else, I think it's safe to say that the brain is essentially /you/, while the rest of the body is but a puppet for it. :P

Edit: The robotic body/brain thing made me think of something else too. How could we tell if a robot was truly self aware and sentinent? We could surely one day program an AI so complex it can replicate our brains perfectly, but would that be acting as if it were aware because that's how we programmed it, or would it be truly so? And if there truly is no such thing as a soul, then perhaps the AIs are essentially the same as ourselves anyway.
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Cauton
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« Reply #8 on: July 29, 2006, 02:45:21 AM »

I agree with Eusis here. The brain is "you". I mean, you just have to consider  accident victims who've become paralyzed in their whole body. They still retain their consciousness  and personality even though they've lost control of all their bodily functions.

Now, how the consciousness  actually WORKS (or even WHAT it is) is another matter entirely. Many people a lot smarter than any of us have asked that question, without coming up with a satisfactionary answer.

Some claim our consciousness  /soul/personality (call it what you will) is nothing but the sum of all our experiences. This, they say, can be proved through people who, after having suffered from amnesia, develops personalities that are the exact opposites of how they were before. Now, if this is true then we are nothing but walking machines who are controlled and defined by our surroundings. We really do not have any free will, because everything will do will be dictated by those surroundings.

But how would you then explain that twins devlop distinct and different personalities? So, obviously, there is something that's unique to each and every one of us. I guess this is what could be called our souls then.

I find the question incredibly intriguing, and at the same time impossible to answer.

Also, I'd like to ask a counter-question. At what point does a person stop being a person? If you (for argument's sake) say that a consciousness  can exist without the body, then at what point does the body become nothing more than a mass of useless organic matter? Take Terri Schiavo for an example. You remeber her, right? There was big hoopla in all the media when her husband wanted to cut off her life support.

If her mind was gone, as the doctors said, was there really any point in keeping the body alive any longer? Was it still the person Terri Schiavo there on the sickbed, or was it just a mass of atoms and molecules?
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Leo
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« Reply #9 on: July 29, 2006, 03:50:00 AM »

Lots of interesting comments and points have been made on this thread, so I'll just add in that I do believe in spirits - I think a human body has more involved than just the brain, or mind, if you will.

Let's include one more factor into the equation - reincarnation - anyone believe in that?

I have an example to give regarding this: My dad can speak five languages, and he learned them all with ease. I believe this is because his soul has learned a lot of information over time, and experienced just as much. This is a theory, of course - extremely difficult to prove true, if at all even possible to prove anything.
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Dincrest
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« Reply #10 on: July 29, 2006, 10:40:24 AM »

Don't really have much to add/say here, but have any of you seen the film "Waking Life"?  If not, definitely check it out if you are into deep cerebral philosphical thought.  It's one of my favorite movies.  http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0243017/
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