Colin, list, I've looked back over your previous posts. It seems like scientists (I'm not one) talk about consciousness in two different senses, in two different roles -- consciousness for clear and sure apprehension of logic & evidence, and consciousness as a phenomenon, an appearance. It's not so surprising that that which is always needed by us, glued to us, for things to appear, is itelf very difficult to make appear as a phenomenon. The most obvious contrast whereby one becomes conscious of one's consciousness is the contrast between consciousness and unconsciousness -- being awake really is different from being dreamlessly asleep. And while we don't remember an experience of dreamless sleep itself, we do remember stages between wakefulness and such sleep, stages and gradations which come arbitrarily near to the dreamless sleep. This gives us some perspective on consciousness.
We rely and build on consciousness but that's a different thing from developing theories and hypotheses _about_ consciousness in those of its respects which are not obvious to us -- those of its respects whereof we're not clearly and firmly conscious. If there were no such non-obvious respects, then there'd be no point developing theories and hypotheses about consciousness. There are a lot of things which we surmise and can't resist surmising. In real life, one of those many surmises is that others are conscious as I am. Maybe some sociopaths can manage denying it, but a normal person who actually denies it will find it hitting him or her like a ton of bricks if s/he gets emotionally close to somebody. And of course there's no evidence like the evidence consisting in a ton of bricks hitting the observer! The fact of forceful kinds of evidence reaching out and pushing the observer around, is a reason why "phenomenal contents" doesn't sound like a faithful rephrasing of "scientific evidence" even in the first place. Scientific evidence is a commonsense-perceptual kind of thing, not just a spectator-sensory thing. Yet, in a sense, not only anti-solipsism, but also every perceptual judgment, is a surmise. Why should it be difficult to observe consciousness in a scientifically useful way as one observes many everyday objects of perceptual judgments? Well, one _can_ observe one's own consciousness sometimes in scientifically useful ways -- for instance, when consciousness is affected by circumstances, stress, drugs, and lots and lots of other things -- and one can use others' reports on their conciousness under various conditions, etc., and there's plenty of mind/brain science involved in dealing with such reports and with physiological & anatomical correlations etc. Consciousness is tricky. I really can't observe another's inwardness as I can observe my own. Maybe some day technology will make it possible. Anyway, normally, when something has an inside and an outside, there are a series of stages whereby one can pass between them, see them as bound together, each as the other side of the other, and establish just what is thing X's outside, and what is some further but non-essential layer, a husk, etc. This is not so easy when "thing X" is consciousness. The phenomenologist & child psychologist Merleau-Ponty was very interested in this question, and discussed attempts of consciousness to bridge that gap, through left hand touching right hand, etc. I remember when I was a kid doing that, trying to catch my own touch somehow, one hand touching the other, trying to complete some sort of circuit. It appears that the thing which is most familiar of all is also the strangest of all. The obvious side of consciousness is firm enough for people to do science based on it as _verificative basis_. The mysterious side is uncertain enough that it's hard for people to know where to begin in terms of _explaining it as a phenomenon_ -- explaining what? -- they disagree even about that, how to objectify it. So far all I'm saying is that consciousness is really weird and we need to recognize that. I agree that it's inconsistent to insist on grounding scientific behavior in conscious experience while insisting that conscious experience is too incoherent in conception to be treated as a phenomenon. But that doesn't stop it from being a very weird and difficult phenomenon to study. I wouldn't say that we "see" consciousness. We see things. The meanings of words like "see" and "observe" are formed on the basis of common-sense notions whereby one "sees" a horse, rather than, say, an event in one's sensory-neural system or in any other sense sees one's seeing. One doesn't see the channel or the medium or whatever, one sees the thing through it. A perceptual psychologist may habitually say that sensory-neural events are all that you really perceive, but that's just a forcefully unusual way of speaking (and thinking) in order to draw your attention toward subtle phenomena. Well, maybe it's not an unusual way for perceptual psychologists to speak and think, but, moving on.... Anyway, a thing is known in its effects, and when those effects are apprehended with sufficient clarity, sureness, interactibility, etc., we say that we perceive the thing itself. Blind people do develop a phenomenal field in other ways in order to compensate for the lack of visuality, and recently there was a report that a few even use rapid clicks for echolocation. Actually all perception involves inbuilt reference to the perceiving subject -- perspectival distortion refers back to the subject as located within the scene, for instance. We see a thing as it figures and looms in our seeing. - Commonsense perception places you in individual, haecceitous circumstances. - Sensory modalities and qualia place you in a species; the trumpet vividness of the color red is your evolutionary past's note to you to pay attention to signs of vertebrate wounds, while _cultivated_ senses/"intuitions"/"instincts" place you in communities often of people with similar tastes; qualities are things sharable, general, but not universal. - Intellectual capacities and relations place you in and athwart universes. - Imagination goes everywhere, like 'pure' math it's more about the goings and transformabilities (which are the universals that _aren't_ universes) than about anything else. Paying attention to such subtle relationships, we may in a sense "see" seeing, be conscious of consciousness in its varieties (and I've been mentioning mostly cognitive ones). If we compare seeing to hearing, then we become aware of how things very differently lend themselves to being seen and being heard. In such comparisons we may in a sense "see" seeing, etc. But seeing a horse is very different from "seeing" such seeing. Without considering these variations in consciousness itself, to say that "everything is consciousness" is to turn the conception into something like a constant conversion-factor that doesn't actually add that much conceptually. Now, when one opens up a cranium one does see more things just like one sees outside the cranium, though one doesn't clearly see inside the cranium those very things which the cranium's owner sees; to me that just says that consciousness has two, at least two, very different sides. And the fact that I have experienced many gradations between full consciousness and dreamless sleep, says to me that there's no need for me to think of everything as consciousness. I tend to think of vegetable, material, and physical things as things that are very deeply, very dreamlessly, asleep all the time. That which is most mysterious about consciousness, and which I don't know how to describe, and am just glad that others notice it too, a rich and deep feeling of "realness" or not just the feeling, but the realness and aliveness itself -- I shouldn't even try to describe it, I might describe it differently tomorrow -- seems pretty hard to get at unless we start with the simpler things about consciousness. Again, it appears that the thing which is most familiar of all is also the strangest of all. I tend to think that there's some sort of philosophical necessity in that, some sort of far-reaching inverseness relationship involved. But, past a certain point, going over all these generalities stops advancing the point and makes me sound fuddy-duddy. It sounds like you have some further, and more-specific, ideas, which are the real energy source behind your argument. Best, Ben Udell ----- Original Message ----- From: "Colin Hales" <[EMAIL PROTECTED]> To: <email@example.com> Sent: Saturday, August 26, 2006 11:29 PM Subject: RE: evidence blindness Dear Benjamin and folks, Your words capture a whole bunch of valuable stuff. In a project to define a comprehensive standard for 'scientific method' it would be very useful input. The particulars involved here, however, are about the basic reality that all scientific behaviour is grounded in consciousness (phenomenal fields). Indeed this is literally _mandated_ by scientists. If we cannot introduce the studied behaviour into phenomenal fields (even via instruments and tortuous inference trails re causality) we are told in no uncertain terms that "we are not being scientific, you cannot be doing science....go see the metaphysics dept over there". This oddity in science is quite amazing and so incredibly obvious that I sometimes wonder about the sanity of scientists. Is it a club or a professional discipline? We: a) demand evidence _within_ consciousness on pain of being declared unscientific and then b) declare that no scientific evidence exists for consciousness because consciousness can't render consciousness visible within consciousness? ....when consciousness is the entire and only originating source of evidence! Once again I say: SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE And PHENOMENAL _CONTENTS_ Are not identities. There is more evidence for consciousness than anything else. It's just not phenomenal _contents_. It's the phenomenal fields themselves. This is the only message I have here. I have a whole pile of suggestions as to what to do about it...but it's too huge to insert and won't make any difference if this basic reality is not recognised. This increase in scope of scientific evidence gives license for a change in scientific behaviour. Scientific behaviour includes more than is currently recognised. The net result is that we have permission as scientists to carefully go places previously thought 'unscientific'. Having done so those places should be able to predict mechanisms for consciousness consistent with the evidence consciousness provides... that's all. And remember this fact simply doesn't matter in normal day to day science until you try and do a scientific study of the scientific evidence generator (consciousness). Then all hell breaks loose and your busted beliefs about the nature of scientific evidence are exposed for what they are. We need to get used to the idea. This is a brute fact and there's nothing else to say on the matter... I just wish that I'd stop constantly coming across signs of the aberrant beliefs in scientific discourse....not just here on this list but all around me....sooooo pervasive and soooo wrong. Colin Hales --~--~---------~--~----~------------~-------~--~----~ You received this message because you are subscribed to the Google Groups "Everything List" group. To post to this group, send email to firstname.lastname@example.org To unsubscribe from this group, send email to [EMAIL PROTECTED] For more options, visit this group at http://groups.google.com/group/everything-list -~----------~----~----~----~------~----~------~--~---