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: <>
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 

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:


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

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