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Show ALL Forums  > Science/philosophy  > Consciousness: How will we define it?      Home login  
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 thecdcisreal
Joined: 6/18/2008
Msg: 1
Consciousness: How will we define it?Page 1 of 4    (1, 2, 3, 4)
I did a quick search and saw nothing relating to the definition of consciousness. Is it not peculiar that we lack a logical definition for that which produces the effect of life experienced?

Most definitions that take a real attempt at defining it are circular and replace 'consciousness' with 'awareness'.

Dictionary.com defines it:

–noun
1.
the state of being conscious; awareness of one's own existence, sensations, thoughts, surroundings, etc.

and so on with about 20 definitions in that manner...

Leaving metaphysics and theology behind for a moment, as we can all come up with a personal belief system of innumerable variance, how do you think consciousness will be scientifically defined once, if ever, it is defined?

If you do not think it can be defined, fair enough. State your reason why, but let's try not to get too wrapped up in something that can be nothing more than opinion - ever.

A thought I had tonight regarding a definition was this:

The semi-manual or manual parsing of a sense or senses.

By semi-manual, I take into account our subconsciousness performing possibly more functions than we do consciously. Manual leaves open the possibility of a being that fully controls each of its functions consciously. This would most likely come in the form of artificial intelligence. Parsing means to make sense of a vast amount of information. A sense is usually an automatic response to some stimuli outside of the organism (though it may dwell within the organism).
 maximusminimus
Joined: 2/27/2010
Msg: 2
Consciousness: How will we define it?
Posted: 3/7/2010 9:25:04 PM
The imprecision of a definition is due in part to the obvious knowledge conscientiousness has of itself. It IS something that can only be defined subjectively. You could posit and prove a theory explaining the system of which consciousness is the result, but that would not be consciousness. You think, therefor you are conscious. It's like the difference between defining water molecules together as a body of water, and feeling wet when you go swimming, or if not swimming, when you fall from the boat trying to land a big fish, or if not a big fish, then maybe an old tire you thought was a fish.
 thecdcisreal
Joined: 6/18/2008
Msg: 3
Consciousness: How will we define it?
Posted: 3/7/2010 10:24:58 PM
maximus, you bring up some interesting points in regard to the knowledge consciousness has of itself. However, I disagree with your position overall. I tend to believe we will eventually come to replicate intelligence and self-awareness on some level. Then again, I am a product of a generation that is used to technological advancement. I may be foolishly bias in considering this a strong possibility.

However, I do leave open the possibility that it is completely undefinable. The incompleteness theorem would be the best mathematical and philosophical clue that consciousness may not be definable. It may be a truth that we have to accept within the frameworks of consciousness, as you say basically.

Alas, I could not make complete sense of your analogy. What is the difference between defining water molecules as a body of water and feeling wet? One is an act and one is a sensation? I wish I could, but I'm not following the relevance.
 CrumblePie
Joined: 1/11/2009
Msg: 4
Consciousness: How will we define it?
Posted: 3/7/2010 11:05:47 PM
Memory
Aweareness
Creativity

Current technology only uses memory, and a slight degree of awearness.

In my opinion, most people assume awerness and conciousness are the same, when a lot of things are aware without being concious.

"I think therefore i am" doesn;t bring what conciousness is to the forefront, as it fails to point out, that one must also remeber the thoughts, and be creative enough to either come up with such an idea, or creative enough to tie that idea into logic from the circular argument it is.

To actually define what conciousness is i assume one would have to define the levels of creativity, memory and awareness needed to be concious.

we humans aren;t aware of a lot of things, but we are concious, thus i think that after a definition of the levels of the three ingredients have been done, the level of conciousness something might have would be easier to do, and a true definition could then be made. at what level and in what combination does something truly become concious as a self guided entity. Because ultimatly, being concious involves self preservation, as self preserving comes from being aware of ones needs; self guided.
 WalksOnWater2
Joined: 5/19/2009
Msg: 5
Consciousness: How will we define it?
Posted: 3/7/2010 11:10:18 PM
Consciousness is subjective experience or awareness or wakefulness or the executive control system of the mind.
How'z that?

I took my definition from the Webster dictionary, not from the maximusminimus manifesto, which is in fact much more entertaining and abundantly detailed and thorough!
 Vancer
Joined: 10/29/2006
Msg: 6
Consciousness: How will we define it?
Posted: 3/8/2010 2:32:29 AM
In the end, I would be forced to define consciousness using a Prisoner marathon.
Not the mini-series with Jim Caviezel. No.
The old series with Patrick McGoohan.
And after that marathon, if one still didn't understand what consciousness actually was... I wouldn't blame them.
 Island home
Joined: 7/5/2009
Msg: 7
Consciousness: How will we define it?
Posted: 3/8/2010 5:15:25 AM
Awareness, about covers it for me
The unanswered questions that follow are
On what is it write and read?
To what degree is the awareness whole?
 Island home
Joined: 7/5/2009
Msg: 8
Consciousness: How will we define it?
Posted: 3/8/2010 6:19:16 AM


is awareness different to consciousness ?

I don't think so

I'm wondering if “felt” should be included in the question
On what is it write or read and felt?
Or is that superfluous ?
 thecdcisreal
Joined: 6/18/2008
Msg: 9
Consciousness: How will we define it?
Posted: 3/8/2010 8:25:47 AM

I don't think so

I'm wondering if “felt” should be included in the question
On what is it write or read and felt?
Or is that superfluous ?


I believe "felt" should be included as "feeling" is a sensory perception and as I stated, the manual parsing of sensory information is consciousness.

Once again, calling consciousness awareness does not do anything to define it, it is a circular definition.

a·ware
/?'w??r/ Show Spelled[uh-wair] Show IPA
–adjective
1.
having knowledge; conscious; cognizant: aware of danger.

I really do not feel we can define consciousness merely as awareness, we are doing ourselves no favors by taking this shortcut.

And to crumblepie, it's a small point but I believe our current technology is very creative. Technology is able to use information in ways we cannot to create outcomes we could not have predicted. If you input a bunch of data into a computer and it works through it to create an unexpected and new result, is that not creativity? I am reading a book called "The Complexity of Cooperation" and they discuss something called a "genome algorithm" which allows the researchers to input certain information and allow the computer to "evolve" the information through mutation, recombination, and so forth. Eventually the computer can /create/ things that we humans hadn't conceived of first.

Just a thought :)
 stargazer1000
Joined: 1/16/2008
Msg: 10
Consciousness: How will we define it?
Posted: 3/8/2010 1:56:05 PM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m_WRFJwGsbY

"And Rene Descartes was a drunken fart.
'I drink, therefore I am!'"
 xlr8ingmargo
Joined: 7/28/2009
Msg: 11
Consciousness: How will we define it?
Posted: 3/8/2010 2:21:57 PM
I have to be me~ My definition is:
Consciousness- The few minutes of neutral transition observing silence between physical and electrical impulses requiring little thought, only much action..........
oh just use your imaginations before I ofend the modest~
 LeCutter
Joined: 2/25/2009
Msg: 12
Consciousness: How will we define it?
Posted: 3/8/2010 6:55:33 PM
Conciousness really does come down to awareness. Like when you have a dream/nightmare and know it's just that. Our language it too imperfect to ever clearly definine it. We all know what it is to be concious and unconciouss, and much like the Cookie Monster, C is for cookie, which is good enough for me.
 Island home
Joined: 7/5/2009
Msg: 13
Consciousness: How will we define it?
Posted: 3/8/2010 6:58:50 PM


^^^ Good one Krebby, but some times suction is what gives consciousness its buzz

Re write

Awareness, about covers it for me
The questions that follow are
On what is it received and deciphered?
To what degree is the awareness whole?

Thus, felt, is superfluous just as, seen or heard are

As far as completeness of awareness is concerned
Even the environment that we are aware of, we are not completely aware of what we already know at any one point in time
Let alone being aware of what we are not aware of
 Island home
Joined: 7/5/2009
Msg: 14
Consciousness: How will we define it?
Posted: 3/9/2010 2:23:50 AM


You've opened up a can of worms there Krebby
distiguishing imagined from actual is not all ways straight forward

Imagined: some times wished for other times dreaded


it is what your empirical senses tell you it is, assuming that you're not drunk, high, or in some other way, diminished in thought.

How many times is the input processed after initial sensory perception?


Consciousness has many realms, including that which is imagined (wished). A definition of conciousness, therefore, is, perhaps, full awareness, of reality, of wishing for reality to be a certain way, of striving for awareness to be a certain way. But it surely is not dreaming.


Our brains at times can not tell the difference between actual and imagined and will reacted as if imagining is reality.
We only need imagine our favorite meal in detail and observe the production of digestive juices in our mouth to confirm this.

When we have our unconscious and subconscious thinking and imagining's feeding into our consciousness it makes for an interesting life.
 xlr8ingmargo
Joined: 7/28/2009
Msg: 15
Consciousness: How will we define it?
Posted: 3/9/2010 6:38:37 AM
Consciousness is ME and not the dream....
subconsciousness is thinking about me in a dream...

Reality: Im still a tigress, which is a very interesting life diversion.
 thecdcisreal
Joined: 6/18/2008
Msg: 16
Consciousness: How will we define it?
Posted: 3/9/2010 9:23:23 AM
I find many of your replies very interesting. But based on my interpretation of many of your comments, it would seem most of you do not believe that "true" artificial intelligence is possible. That is, if the self is unknowable, then we certainly could not replicate it (beyond biological means).

Thoughts?
 monalee1
Joined: 10/22/2007
Msg: 17
Consciousness: How will we define it?
Posted: 3/9/2010 11:02:28 PM
hi.. consciousness if it is not anchored to Truth it is just a word to be thrown around in social circles.. consciousness without Love is dangerous.. I believe that mankind becomes overly conscious of certain matters at the expense of important spiritual consciousness... imho there is knowing and certainty that is timely for this life and then there is consciousness more appropriate for leisure/interest in Eternal Life... blessings
 aremeself
Joined: 12/31/2008
Msg: 18
view profile
History
Consciousness: How will we define it?
Posted: 3/10/2010 12:01:34 AM
sounds like something in between physical and metaphysical.
 IgorFrankensteen
Joined: 6/29/2009
Msg: 19
view profile
History
Consciousness: How will we define it?
Posted: 3/10/2010 1:38:37 PM
I would VERY much like to discuss this from the point of view of the question: why does it matter how Consciousness is defined?
I'm not trying to be disruptive, but I think it's critical to what definitions you consider, decide upon, that the REASON you are trying to define it be stated. It's an intrinsic part of the creation of a definition.
In Anthropology, defining "human" had as it's GOAL, to come up with a definition which included everyone we WANTED to think of as human, while excluding all who we DIDN'T want to include. What is the GOAL of finding a definition of consciousness? I understand THAT the OP and others WANT to define it such that it is not identical with Awareness, but I don't understand WHY this is important.
Can the OP, or anyone else suggest WHY the discussion? Is it, like the anthropological argument over the definition of Human, all about defining that which we WANT to think of as conscious in one category, and all which we DON'T want to think of as consciousness in another? Such as, are we rushing to define it in such a way that machines CAN'T have consciousness or so that non-HUMANS can't?
 xlr8ingmargo
Joined: 7/28/2009
Msg: 20
Consciousness: How will we define it?
Posted: 3/10/2010 1:47:14 PM
Wow, now thats really adding a twist to discuss~
 thecdcisreal
Joined: 6/18/2008
Msg: 21
Consciousness: How will we define it?
Posted: 3/10/2010 6:49:15 PM

What is the GOAL of finding a definition of consciousness? I understand THAT the OP and others WANT to define it such that it is not identical with Awareness, but I don't understand WHY this is important.
Can the OP, or anyone else suggest WHY the discussion? Is it, like the anthropological argument over the definition of Human, all about defining that which we WANT to think of as conscious in one category, and all which we DON'T want to think of as consciousness in another? Such as, are we rushing to define it in such a way that machines CAN'T have consciousness or so that non-HUMANS can't?


What is the goal of defining consciousness? For me, it is precisely to question the possibility of those things which you seem to think I want to deny. In fact, I would be exhilarated to come up with a definition that allows distinctly non-human consciousness. Many people talk about applying human personalities and emotions and what not to machines, I do not believe this is what is necessary to consciousness. I think there could be an emotionless consciousness (think Vulcans) or a computer consciousness (think HAL 9000).

What is the point in defining consciousness then? Well, for one I am consciousness - I am curious to know what it is that composes me. I want to know if this thing which composes me is unique. If it is unique, then it is not (as) likely to be duplicatable and therefore may be worthless to pursue as a goal.

I can't think of a reason not to define consciousness. Unless, as ceded before, it is undefinable. "That which is not knowable." But I find that a bit more of a cop-out than a truth.
 ryanrucker
Joined: 12/9/2009
Msg: 22
Consciousness: How will we define it?
Posted: 3/10/2010 7:04:39 PM
OP
http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/technocalyps/

as far as artificial intelligence .....this documentary is pretty convincing

not only is A.I. possible but it's learning much faster than human's could hope for.

some think it's the next stage of evolution!

there are three videos, the first two are great....the third basically tries to relate it all to prophecy.....

i'm very interested in what your opinion is.
 thecdcisreal
Joined: 6/18/2008
Msg: 23
Consciousness: How will we define it?
Posted: 3/11/2010 12:24:10 AM
thorb, I'm afraid I do not see how current technological inadequacies determine that something is not possible in the future. It is not a question of the technology, it is a question of theory. If the theory requires a seemingly impossible technology to create artificial consciousness then okay, I'll concede.

Also, I still think you're focusing too much on the human replication of consciousness and hence closing your mind to other possible types of consciousness.
 thecdcisreal
Joined: 6/18/2008
Msg: 24
Consciousness: How will we define it?
Posted: 3/11/2010 8:00:42 AM
Once upon a time we had only science fiction to seduce us into space travel and submarines. Good scifi can actually be an interesting predictor of the future path of science and technology.
 JP1111
Joined: 4/13/2008
Msg: 25
Consciousness: How will we define it?
Posted: 3/11/2010 10:05:28 AM
I would simply define it for what it is:

The ability of becoming aware of your existence.
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