Author Topic: You're not conscious  (Read 4411 times)

Cramulus

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You're not conscious
« on: March 17, 2017, 06:13:37 pm »
I hate to break it to you, but you're not conscious. You're just running a program. Your habitual mind is driving your meat machine. Your reactions are mechanical. You are running on autopilot. You are a script in human form.

There's a part of your mind which can become conscious, but it's too much work for you. It might open an eye for a moment, learn something, make a decision, but then it goes back to sleep. The autopilot is in charge.

Your mind is a mansion. But you? You spend 95% of your life jerking off in the basement. You didn't even know there was an attic. Can you even find the way there?

Your mind is a crowd. The party is buzzing and everybody's doing their own thing. But you? You're in the corner on your phone.

Your mind is a like a menu with 300 possible things to order, but you? You order the same meal every night.

Your mind is an anarchist commune. It has no leader. It resists leadership and coordination. But you? You couldn't lead them if you tried. If you were a real self, you could coordinate the collective and accomplish something. But you can't do it, so you let them lay around and talk shit all day.

And every time you start to wake up, when you begin to move from that comfortable spot you've been resting in for so long, you get distracted. Something else pops up, and you forget. Your habitual mind is overbearing, every moment of the day it's bullying the lazy conscious mind into the background. Your habitual mind doesn't want to be examined. It doesn't want to be resisted. And it's stronger than your conscious mind, so it wins every time.

And even now, as you read these words, your habitual mind is revving the robot's engine. Don't you have an update to check? Isn't there something else you're supposed to be doing? These words are boring, and there are too many of them. And it doesn't even apply to you, because you're conscious. Other people walk around on autopilot, but not you. Right?

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Re: You're not conscious
« Reply #1 on: March 18, 2017, 02:54:43 pm »
Little bit of a coincidence here. Going to chew on it for a bit, maybe riff.
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Re: You're not conscious
« Reply #2 on: March 18, 2017, 03:36:56 pm »
Mixed feelings about this. Which is good, it means it gave me feelings. I'll let them swirl around a bit.
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Re: You're not conscious
« Reply #3 on: March 19, 2017, 05:46:34 am »
I hate to break it to you, but you're not conscious. You're just running a program. Your habitual mind is driving your meat machine. Your reactions are mechanical. You are running on autopilot. You are a script in human form.

There's a part of your mind which can become conscious, but it's too much work for you. It might open an eye for a moment, learn something, make a decision, but then it goes back to sleep. The autopilot is in charge.

Your mind is a mansion. But you? You spend 95% of your life jerking off in the basement. You didn't even know there was an attic. Can you even find the way there?

Is there a part of the mind that can become conscious?  If so, am I only partly conscious over time or am I only conscious 5% but continuously?

If 95% of the time is spent jerking off in the basement, then what does it mean to be conscious that 5% of the time?  Does it mean a random moment of clarity or does it mean I am 95% automatic and 5% connected with something that is beyond myself that makes me self-aware? 

What is it that is beyond me?  Is it just everything else outside my body?  What is at the intersection of myself and everything that is other?  Why is my mind different from my brain?  How can I possibly generate anything that is more than myself? 

Am I just one piece of a chain reaction?  Am I on autopilot and consciousness is just whatever is other adding itself into my equation?

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Re: You're not conscious
« Reply #4 on: March 19, 2017, 07:53:44 am »
If I am just a meat machine, that means I have no soul...And I know I have a soul, because it hurts whenever I turn on the TV.  Therefore I am not just a meat machine, I am a special meat machine who is in fact the main character.  The people around me are all unconscious meat machines2, I agree, but I am not.

Lastly, meat machines would have no reason to argue with other meat machines3, so the entire premise is ridiculous.


1 Because I'm better than people.
2 Also because I'm better than people.
3Unless they were programmed to do that by a monstrous deity that gets off on that shit.
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Re: You're not conscious
« Reply #5 on: March 19, 2017, 08:43:43 am »
I don't feel like the piece comes to a particular conclusion. This, for me, leaves it feeling too antagonistic to make me want to engage further with the subject of whether in fact I am woke af or not.

Can we hear your motivations behind writing Cram?
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Re: You're not conscious
« Reply #6 on: March 19, 2017, 01:26:48 pm »
I feel that QG could do something cool with, "Don't you have an update to check?"

Cramulus

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Re: You're not conscious
« Reply #7 on: March 19, 2017, 05:45:02 pm »
I don't feel like the piece comes to a particular conclusion. This, for me, leaves it feeling too antagonistic to make me want to engage further with the subject of whether in fact I am woke af or not.

Can we hear your motivations behind writing Cram?

Yeah that's my problem with it too - I struggled to inject the point with sufficient humor to make it taste good. I'm betting there's a better frame. (I should maybe revisit Robert Anton Wilson's "Cosmic Shmuck" meme, that seemed like a nice slapstick delivery mechanism for his intended self critical, open-to-being-wrong headspace)

The piece's motivation is to introduce a problem. To some extent, if I tell you how to solve this problem right off the bat, the mental loop closes and it won't get any more thought.

My personal motivation - this piece is sorta self-aimed. I'm trying to stay conscious for as long as I can, and the habitual mind is the enemy of that.

From another perspective: I'm trying to articulate a point presented in some of the stuff I'm reading, but in a different, cooler way  :ECH:



If I am just a meat machine, that means I have no soul...And I know I have a soul, because it hurts whenever I turn on the TV.

 :lulz: :lulz:

Quote
Therefore I am not just a meat machine, I am a special meat machine who is in fact the main character.  The people around me are all unconscious meat machines2, I agree, but I am not.

Bingus
                   (that's latin for Bingo)

The habitual mind seeks to fulfill basic needs. It is the part of you which can reliably solve problems like your hunger, lust, fear.. The habitual part of your mind gets you very wrapped up in the ecstasy of consumption. TV, food, memes - being the main character... many types of pleasure... the pursuit of these ego-centered desires** keep us in the habitual mind, where you can't really bring yourself to consciousness.

I think you hit that in your response - that it's hard to break from those low-level satisfactions, and it's really hard to reflect on the self and its component processes while you're in the thrall of those things.





**footnote: I am in no way saying you need to be an ascetic to search for consciousness. Eat the hell out of that burger.  But eating the hell out of it means really tasting it, eating mindfully.. not chewing mindlessly as you're watching TV, letting yourself get distracted from your body's physical experiences.
« Last Edit: March 19, 2017, 06:49:12 pm by Cramulus »

Cramulus

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Re: You're not conscious
« Reply #8 on: March 19, 2017, 05:55:27 pm »
In Illuminatus!, Wilson & Shea describe "the robot" as the automatic, mechanical part of the self. Most of the robot's behaviors are programmed by culture and upbringing. Breaking / reprogramming the robot is the key to personal freedom. The characters in Illumiantus struggle to make actual free-will decisions and not just play out the trajectory of the their cultural circumstances.


Years ago, Free Will / Determinism was one of those landmine topics on this forum that we couldn't discuss without it sliding into 21 pages of banging heads against walls. But what I got from all of that was: Yes, Free Will - the ability to make independent decisions - exists in our potential. Most people haven't developed that capacity.

I myself want to develop that capacity. I've been on the search for different tools to do so. I think the first step is in recognizing the difference between a conscious decision and an automatic decision. First you have to understand the distinction, then you have to learn to recognize it in yourself as it's happening.
« Last Edit: March 19, 2017, 05:57:03 pm by Cramulus »

Cramulus

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Re: You're not conscious
« Reply #9 on: March 19, 2017, 06:02:18 pm »
Ouspensky puts it like this: (my OP is a clumsy attempt to say something like this)

Quote from: PD Ouspensky, The Fourth Way, p44
First, self-knowledge. There is a very good Eastern allegory which deals with the creation of 'I'. Man is compared to a house full of servants, without master or steward to look after them. So the servants do what they like; none of them does his own work. The house is in a state of complete chaos, because all the servants try to do someone else's work which they are not competent to do. The cook works in the stables, the coachman in the kitchen, and so on.

The only possibility for things to improve is if a certain number of servants decide to elect one of themselves as a deputy steward and in this way make him control the other servants. He can do only one thing: he puts each servant where he belongs and so they begin to do their right work. When this is done, there is the possibility of the real steward coming to replace the deputy steward and to prepare the house for the master.

We do not know what the real steward means or what the master means, but we can take it that the house full of servants and the possibility of a deputy steward describes our situation. This allegory helps us to understand the beginning of the possibility of creating a permanent 'I'.

Cramulus

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Re: You're not conscious
« Reply #10 on: March 19, 2017, 06:41:40 pm »
Is there a part of the mind that can become conscious?  If so, am I only partly conscious over time or am I only conscious 5% but continuously?

If 95% of the time is spent jerking off in the basement, then what does it mean to be conscious that 5% of the time?  Does it mean a random moment of clarity or does it mean I am 95% automatic and 5% connected with something that is beyond myself that makes me self-aware? 

I think that we have random moments of clarity. Sometimes you experience a moment when you're able to not just process not just your situation, but also process your thoughts and responses to the situation. (ie thinking about your own thinking)

Most of the time, we are just running these routines we've learned, solving problems using heuristics. When your heuristic doesn't work, or when tragedy happens, you emerge from that fog.

Another way of putting it:

Learning is a conscious process. You can't learn automatically, it takes conscious effort to absorb and integrate information. When you first learned to drive a car, you were really mindful. Every action you took taught you a little bit. Now, years later, you get it. So you don't need the lazy conscious mind to drive. You can just run the mental routine you built.

And if we zoom out, a lot of our life is spent in that routine, in those heuristics. If we don't actively think about it, we don't get a lot of time to reflect on those heuristics, or the process we used to arrive at them.



Quote
Am I just one piece of a chain reaction?  Am I on autopilot and consciousness is just whatever is other adding itself into my equation?

Marshall McLuhan says we're the sex organs of the machine world.
The Art of Memetics says we're the sex organs of the meme world.

I think the way out of the chain is Agency. And I don't think you really have Agency if you're just making mechanical decisions.

And to expand it again, yes, most decisions are mechanical. Like a character in the Sims, we always take whatever action we perceive will give us best rewards. We continue to exhibit that behavior until a competing one gives us better feels. (behaviorists call that 'melioration') When that calculus is simple, our behavior is predictable.

If you can make decisions about your automatic processes, you might be in the conscious part of the self.

It's really hard to perform this reflection, this self-consciousness, this Self-Remembering, while the habitual mind is buzzing. When you're emotional, it's really hard to step outside of it and make an independent decision.

Usually, when we have that 5% moment of self-remembering, it only lasts for that moment, and then it's over.



Part of what I want to discover is how to increase consciousness along a few different dimensions: frequency, length, depth.
« Last Edit: March 19, 2017, 06:55:02 pm by Cramulus »

doudou

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Re: You're not conscious
« Reply #11 on: March 19, 2017, 08:33:22 pm »
This is going to be a sort of incomplete response for now, but ...

Is there a part of the mind that can become conscious?  If so, am I only partly conscious over time or am I only conscious 5% but continuously?

If 95% of the time is spent jerking off in the basement, then what does it mean to be conscious that 5% of the time?  Does it mean a random moment of clarity or does it mean I am 95% automatic and 5% connected with something that is beyond myself that makes me self-aware? 

Learning is a conscious process. You can't learn automatically, it takes conscious effort to absorb and integrate information. When you first learned to drive a car, you were really mindful. Every action you took taught you a little bit. Now, years later, you get it. So you don't need the lazy conscious mind to drive. You can just run the mental routine you built.

And if we zoom out, a lot of our life is spent in that routine, in those heuristics. If we don't actively think about it, we don't get a lot of time to reflect on those heuristics, or the process we used to arrive at them.

I would not say that learning is entirely conscious because even a machine can learn to change its course of actions based on how it experiences the world.  When our behaviors are reinforced by pleasure, we become more likely to repeat the same actions/thoughts/algorithms.  In the same way, we were programmed with ways of learning information that lead to pleasurable success.  On a more basic level, we are born with ways of perceiving and retaining our environment that cause us to act in a way that is more predictable than not.

The idea of consciousness has fascinated me and I wonder what the state of the evidence for it is.  So what is this sensation of consciousness?  What if it is true that nothing is more than the sum of its parts?  I would hesitate to label a hierarchy of thought processes (meta cognition?) consciousness, but I would guess that is the general image of how people imagine consciousness?  As like a bubble above us that is more than ourselves? 

So we become aware of a pattern of thoughts because we have the ability to remember things.  Then we have the ability to adjust those patterns, but why is that consciousness?  Couldn't there be a higher level of thinking than that where we are aware of the methods by which we adjust our thinking?  We can lose the forest for the trees or we can pan out ad infinitum, but is that action consciousness or just a higher dimension of the framework under which we operate?

Am I just one piece of a chain reaction?  Am I on autopilot and consciousness is just whatever is other adding itself into my equation?

Marshall McLuhan says we're the sex organs of the machine world.
The Art of Memetics says we're the sex organs of the meme world.

I think the way out of the chain is Agency. And I don't think you really have Agency if you're just making mechanical decisions.

And to expand it again, yes, most decisions are mechanical. Like a character in the Sims, we always take whatever action we perceive will give us best rewards. We continue to exhibit that behavior until a competing one gives us better feels. (behaviorists call that 'melioration') When that calculus is simple, our behavior is predictable.

If you can make decisions about your automatic processes, you might be in the conscious part of the self.

It's really hard to perform this reflection, this self-consciousness, this Self-Remembering, while the habitual mind is buzzing. When you're emotional, it's really hard to step outside of it and make an independent decision.

Usually, when we have that 5% moment of self-remembering, it only lasts for that moment, and then it's over.



Part of what I want to discover is how to increase consciousness along a few different dimensions: frequency, length, depth.

I am part of the great daisy-chain called life.

I am happily ambivalent about whether we have choice or not.  What ends follow from choosing either premise, I don't know.  If the feeling of choice is an illusion, it doesn't detract that choices are necessary. 

Evolutionarily speaking, auto-pilot is there for a reason, right?  However, clarity is something to strive for... 
« Last Edit: March 19, 2017, 08:38:42 pm by doudou »

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Re: You're not conscious
« Reply #12 on: March 19, 2017, 09:46:23 pm »

Quote
I think the way out of the chain is Agency

Was thinking about this in the context of
Quote
Self-Remembering

The self that I am most given to remember is actually very much informed by a predetermined chain of events.  It would be a fools errand to try and extricate self from that chain if the self so understood was determined primarily by that sequence of events.  Even thinking about the self being so determined does not necessarily enjoy the status of being thereby removed from said chain.  The attempt to escape samsara is samsara.

It reminds me of that parable of how we are sometimes given to descend into a dark underworld.  There is the promise of being able to return, on one condition, that we should not consume or attempt to substantiate ourselves with anything that is "there".  Behind our thought-patterns, hidden from the dream yet always present, there is something that belongs to us absolutely.

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The Good Reverend Roger

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Re: You're not conscious
« Reply #13 on: March 19, 2017, 10:31:19 pm »
I don't feel like the piece comes to a particular conclusion. This, for me, leaves it feeling too antagonistic to make me want to engage further with the subject of whether in fact I am woke af or not.

Can we hear your motivations behind writing Cram?

Yeah that's my problem with it too - I struggled to inject the point with sufficient humor to make it taste good. I'm betting there's a better frame. (I should maybe revisit Robert Anton Wilson's "Cosmic Shmuck" meme, that seemed like a nice slapstick delivery mechanism for his intended self critical, open-to-being-wrong headspace)

The piece's motivation is to introduce a problem. To some extent, if I tell you how to solve this problem right off the bat, the mental loop closes and it won't get any more thought.

My personal motivation - this piece is sorta self-aimed. I'm trying to stay conscious for as long as I can, and the habitual mind is the enemy of that.

From another perspective: I'm trying to articulate a point presented in some of the stuff I'm reading, but in a different, cooler way  :ECH:



If I am just a meat machine, that means I have no soul...And I know I have a soul, because it hurts whenever I turn on the TV.

 :lulz: :lulz:

Quote
Therefore I am not just a meat machine, I am a special meat machine who is in fact the main character.  The people around me are all unconscious meat machines2, I agree, but I am not.

Bingus
                   (that's latin for Bingo)

The habitual mind seeks to fulfill basic needs. It is the part of you which can reliably solve problems like your hunger, lust, fear.. The habitual part of your mind gets you very wrapped up in the ecstasy of consumption. TV, food, memes - being the main character... many types of pleasure... the pursuit of these ego-centered desires** keep us in the habitual mind, where you can't really bring yourself to consciousness.

I think you hit that in your response - that it's hard to break from those low-level satisfactions, and it's really hard to reflect on the self and its component processes while you're in the thrall of those things.





**footnote: I am in no way saying you need to be an ascetic to search for consciousness. Eat the hell out of that burger.  But eating the hell out of it means really tasting it, eating mindfully.. not chewing mindlessly as you're watching TV, letting yourself get distracted from your body's physical experiences.

The illusion of the meat machine, to me, is part of the way the CoN conditions us to treat each other.  Anyone who eats the hell out of that burger is obviously just being a showman.  If you are not of US, you are of THEM.  If you change your behavior to suit the aims of another - even if that change was desirable to you - you stop being an actual human to that person, because you have been overcome and now fit in a nice slot in The Machine™.

The latter alone is sufficient reason to never listen to gurus...To, in fact, pelt them with stones until they die or leave town.  Gurus are the source of most of what is wrong with society, and people who want to "educate" you mean that they want to "safely catagorize you and put you in your slot, you horrible cog, you."

So this all boils down to the (false) dichotomy that I am a meat machine, as you say, or I am not, as Kipling and Hemmingway say.  The third option is that I am in fact a meat machine, but that one of the attributes of that meat machine is consciousness.  The entire question is silly, because it's an observable fact that we are meat machines, but the fact that we question consciousness is an iron-clad proof of consciousness.

So all of you fuckers are wrong, or at least not entirely correct.
« Last Edit: March 19, 2017, 10:52:05 pm by The Good Reverend Roger »
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- TGRR, raising the bar at work.

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Re: You're not conscious
« Reply #14 on: March 19, 2017, 10:48:29 pm »
So, in pursuing neuroscience, I've taken a lot of classes and read a lot of books about the possible origins of consciousness, and whether or not free will truly exists. The hypothesis on consciousness I like the most right now is that consciousness, ie. self-awareness, arises as a result of multiple, interlinked parallel networks in the brain, communicating vital information with each other. If you haven't read about rich-club networking, that is a great place to start with that.

Free will is a little more complex, because if consciousness arises from biological networks that use a predetermined set of inputs to decide a predetermined set of outputs, that creates the question of whether free will can exist. However, that apparent problem disappears when you consider the brain from an endocrine network perspective; that is, graded (analog) inputs and responses creates a set of systems that are mathematically probabilistic. Holy shit, what else is mathematically probabilistic? Well, the ecosystem, for one, and we could hardly say that ecosystem responses are deterministic, right? That means that the ecological outcome is not predetermined, which, when we extrapolate that to the similarly interlinked network of possibility that is cognition, means that neither is human choice.

So, we could say that human will contains so many variables as to be, for all practical purposes, free, in that it is not predictable and it is informed by a number of variables so high that outcomes cannot be calculated, and no two wills can mathematically be the same.

However, we could also say that constraints can be placed upon the human ability to exercise free will. For example, if someone holds a gun to your head and tells you to give them all your money, are you doing so out of your own free will? I would argue that, no, you are doing so under duress, and that therefore duress is a constraint on free will. One could view other circumstances as duress, for example, hunger, poverty, or even low social status in the form of racism or sexism can be viewed as constraints upon free will. So, what isn't a constraint? Everything influences our decisions, all the time.

I think that there are avoidable constraints and unavoidable constraints.

Just a half-finished thought that's been rattling around.
« Last Edit: March 19, 2017, 10:50:20 pm by Mesozoic Mister Nigel »
“I’m guessing it was January 2007, a meeting in Bethesda, we got a bag of bees and just started smashing them on the desk,” Charles Wick said. “It was very complicated.”