IGS Discussion Forums: In the News: Consciousness in the Raw - Science News
Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Friday, October 5, 2007 - 06:27 pm Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

Consciousness in the Raw reports on special studies showing that consciousness (not self-awareness) may reside principally in the brain stem.


The roots of consciousness exist in ancient neural territories we share with all vertebrates.

We had better get used to thinking of "consciousness" as multi-ordinal, and not something that distinguishes humans from "fido".

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Friday, October 5, 2007 - 10:34 pm Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

"Fido" is a metaphor for non-human, the primary distinction that Korzybski makes between time-binders and space-binders.

Have you ever seen a dog sit and look at something, turning its head this way and that, "clearly" not sure of what it is seeing or what it is to do about it?

We know by experiment that certain primates demonstrate self-aware behavior. And there was that bird who said, "want at nut, N - U - T", and seemed to be aware enough to spell the word to his annoying handlers. - rare incidents, but it only takes one to disconfirm a theory.

I think, without bothering to look it up, that korzybski gave the lower animals an ability to abstract, but not to do it to indefinitely many level. How many levels are required for rudimentary awareness of abstracting? Is asking the question, verbally or non-verbally, "what am I seeing here?" enough? Is being aware enough of language to spell words enough? If primary or basic consciousness or awareness functions in persons with minimal cortex, indicating that this function resides in the brain stem - a structure common to many different lower animals, perhaps our assumption that consciousness of abstraction is only a "cortical" function needs to re-examined.

I do not know. I just know that we cannot "know"; we can only infer, based on observations, and hypothesize, and we must have a theory of how to test. We can't even be sure with other people. The question of other minds has a long history in philosophy, and it applies directly to this question. We must not confuse metaphysical questions (what "is") [not general semantics] with epistemological questions (how we "know") [general seamntics].