Question
Asked 21st Dec, 2014

How can I define human consciousness?

After many years of discussion of the concept of human consciousness, I arrived to the following definition:
“Conscious processes are qualitative experiences that contain at least four kinds of ingredient:
a) Sensations and feelings (such as hunger, thirst, happiness, sadness, fear, pain, pleasure);
b) Perceptual qualities or ‘qualia’ (such as colors, sounds, smells, tastes, etc.);
c) Cognitive processes grounded on feelings and ‘qualia’, such as attention, thinking, memory formation and recall, etc. and
d) A spatiotemporal structure, composed of an egocentric spatial framework (according to the work of Arnold Trehub) and a temporal duration of (conscious) episodes of 100 milliseconds to 3 seconds (according to the work of Ernst Poppel)”.
This definition does not include the controversial concepts of “Self” and “Free Will”.
I basically agree with David Hume and Thomas Metzinger that the concept of Self is a product of conscious activity, not a metaphysical soul to be considered as a pre-requisite for the definition of consciousness. What is implied by the above definition is the existence of a body that is the bearer of experiences, and also is affected by them. In this sense, the definition is close to the phenomenology of Maurice Merleau-Ponty.
The feeling of will is relevant for conscious activity, but the possibility - raised by Immanuel Kant - of initiating a totally new causal chain in the world, besides probably being an illusion, is not an essential ingredient of the concept of consciousness.
The effect of conscious activity on the body (and vice-versa) cannot be explained in terms of Aristotelian “efficient causation” (since it violates the “causal closure” of the world, as pointed by Jaegwon Kim – see link below), but can be understood in terms of “formal causation”, in the sense that the form of body activity can affect the form of conscious activity, and the form of conscious activity can affect the form of body activity.

Most recent answer

13th Jan, 2022
Alfredo Pereira Junior
São Paulo State University
Dear All
These issues are well covered in the Journal of Consciousness Studies special issue on Sentience and Consciousness, focusing on my work in the philosophy of neuroscience, with a preface by Antonio and Hanna Damasio and comments by experts in the field:
Introduction: Special Issue on Sentience and Consciousness pp. 9-17(9) Authors: Almada, L.F.; Linnell, K.J.
Preface to the Special Issue 'Sentience and Consciousness' pp. 18-21(4) Authors: Damasio, A.; Damasio, H.
The Role of Sentience in the Theory of Consciousness and Medical Practice pp. 22-50(29) Author: Pereira Jr., A.
'The Role of Sentience in the Theory of Consciousness and Medical Practice': A Commentary pp. 51-60(10) Author: Nunn, C.
On the (Too) Many Faces of Consciousness pp. 61-66(6) Author: Harnad, S.
Why is there Sentience?: A Temporo-Spatial Approach to Consciousness pp. 67-82(16) Author: Northoff, G.
Many Paths to Consciousness or Just One?: Life in a Bounded Continuum pp. 83-96(14) Authors: Leisman, G.; Machado, C.
The Role of Sentience in Discovering the Beholden by the Beholder pp. 97-120(24) Author: Lindhard, T.
How Sentience Relates to Dual Process Distinctions of Consciousness pp. 121-129(9) Author: Bellini-Leite, S.C.
The Role of Instrumental and Epistemic Inferences in Sentience and Cognitive Consciousness pp. 130-140(11) Authors: D'Angelo, M.; Vallicelli, M.
Sentience and the Evolution of Animal Mind pp. 141-153(13) Author: Alcaro, A.
Primordial Emotions, Neural Substrates, and Sentience: Affective Neuroscience Relevant to Psychiatric Practice pp. 154-173(20) Authors: Colasanti, A.; Critchley, H.D.
A Continuum of Consciousness: From Wakefulness and Sentience Towards Anoetic Consciousness pp. 174-182(9) Author: Vandekerckhove
Sentience and Conscious Experience: Feeling Dizzy on a Virtual Reality Roller Coaster Ride pp. 183-198(16) Author: Pereira Jr., A.
Reply to Commentaries and Future Directions pp. 199-228(30) Author: Pereira Jr., A.

Popular Answers (1)

21st Dec, 2014
Carlos Eduardo Maldonado
El Bosque University
From a logical standpoint, human consciousness cannot, any longer, be define only paying attention to human beings. Consciousness entails the environment - to say the least.
7 Recommendations

All Answers (57)

21st Dec, 2014
Franz Kasper Krönig
Technische Hochschule Köln
Dear Alfredo, 
first: thank you for posing the question in a philosophical manner as opposed to the typical RG-question: "Are there any new studies on…?". 
second: I stumbled against your "container metaphor". I think Husserl, Heidegger, and especially Sartre argued quite convincingly against the idea that consciousness is something like a room or a container for conscious elements. However, I see that this is not what you mean. You are only proposing so called formal and not material aspects of consciousness (maybe in the tradition of Locke's?). So I guess your approach could be compatible with the philosophy of intentionality. 
My actual problem with your proposal is this: You do not seem to account for the symbolic, communicative and social dimension of consciousness (Mead, Vygotski, Cassirer). From your point of departure one could pose the question like this: Which elements of consciousness are pre-reflective, pre-social, pre-symbolic and at what point the social dimension comes into play? For example the "cognitive processes" (c) you mention can hardly be argued to function without language. Language is, of course, utterly social. So: are you still talking about consciousness or – at the same time – about communication?
Greetings, Franz
3 Recommendations
21st Dec, 2014
Alfredo Pereira Junior
São Paulo State University
Dear Franz,
On the one hand language in the broad sense of a signal system is essential for the existence of life; it is not a special feature exclusive of conscious activity. All living cells exchange signals and this communication occurs without consciousness.
On the other hand, verbal or symbolic languages used in social communication are closely related to human cognitive capabilities, but are not necessary for consciousness as above defined. An individual living in society can communicate without verbal or symbolic language, and can experience feelings, perceptual qualities, also can think (using imagination) and locate him/herself in space and time. Consciousness is probably needed for an adequate use of verbal language, but this issue has been debated in the context of artificial intelligence research - a machine can manipulate lingustic symbols and pass the Turing test. Therefore I would say that verbal or symbolic language is not essential for consciousness and consciousness is not necessary for an adequate use of this kind of language.
Concepts of consciousness in Modern philosophy often equate it with science or knowledge (in the Platonic sense, as true justified belief) and in this case language seems to be essential, since scientific theories are formulated in language and the justification of belief is made with the use of language.
In the context of 19-20th centuries' philosophy of language, even intentionality was conceived as a linguistic function, but this bias has been criticized in contenporary philosophy, e.g. in the work of Ruth Millikan relating meaning with biological proper functions. My conception of intentionality is that it can occur without language or consciousness - it can be unconscious, for instance when we are hungry we pay more attention to what may possibly be food. This is an unconscious mechanism driving conscious attention.
Maybe imagination (in the approaches of Stephan Kosslyn or Antonio Damasio) is necessary for consciousness, but I would add that it is not the representational function of imagination (e.g. constructing maps of the body and environment) that is essential for conscious activity. What may be essential is the presentational aspect of imagination; it is probably involved with our sense of  being "here and now" in a world. This is a very dificult issue that was well discussed by Max Velmans as a "projection" of information contents processed in the brain into the external world. Probably this projection requires imagination. However, although I recognize it as an universal phenomenon of consciousness, the projection does not seem to be necessary for the definition of consciousness.
Husserl's concept of a bipolar structure of consciousness surely was the best approach at his time, but today it has to be ennriched and improved with results of cognitive and affective neuroscience.
3 Recommendations
21st Dec, 2014
Carlos Eduardo Maldonado
El Bosque University
From a logical standpoint, human consciousness cannot, any longer, be define only paying attention to human beings. Consciousness entails the environment - to say the least.
7 Recommendations
21st Dec, 2014
Marcel M. Lambrechts
Centre d'Ecologie Fonctionnelle et Evolutive
Dear Carlos,
The senses (color, taste, smell, sound....) involve the environment, or not?
Consciousness involves a response to an environmental change?
3 Recommendations
21st Dec, 2014
Carlos Eduardo Maldonado
El Bosque University
Absolutely dear Marcel. I do know your position about the issue raised here by Alfredo, and I totally agree with you. It is necessary not to close the issue to just "intellectual"-human capacities, but, indeed, to open the question in its entire dimension. And the closest and most relevant topic then is the environment.
3 Recommendations
21st Dec, 2014
Arnold Trehub
University of Massachusetts Amherst
If we consider consciousness to be a uniquely biological phenomenon, amy definition is simply this:
Consciousness is a transparent representation of the world from a privileged egocentric perspective
This definition takes subjectivity to be the hallmark of consciousness and implies that we are conscious if and only if we have a sense of something somewhere in perspectival relation to our self.
3 Recommendations
21st Dec, 2014
Sarwan Kumar Dubey
ICAR-Indian Institute of Soil and Water Conservation (Earlier known as CSWCRTI)
Hi as per Wikipedia the human consciousness defined as: "Consciousness is the quality or state of awareness, or, of being aware of an external object or something within oneself. It has been defined as: sentience, awareness, subjectivity, the ability to experience or to feel, wakefulness, having a sense of selfhood, and the executive control system of the mind. Despite the difficulty in definition, many philosophers believe that there is a broadly shared underlying intuition about what consciousness is. As Max Velmans and Susan Schneider wrote in The Blackwell Companion to Consciousness: "Anything that we are aware of at a given moment forms part of our consciousness, making conscious experience at once the most familiar and most mysterious aspect of our lives."
Though the following link also the scientific facts are depicted. Thanks
5 Recommendations
21st Dec, 2014
Alfredo Pereira Junior
São Paulo State University
Dear Carlos and Marcel, there is a classical argument by Descartes that the existence of (conscious) dreaming implies that consciousness does not depend on direct perception of the environment. However, it may be replied that the content of dreams  is made of "internalized" environmental information. A third possibility is that dreams and hallucinations are made of archetypes internalized during past evolutionary epochs, which are completely independent of the present environment (e.g. a person living in a urban environment who hallucinates with wild tigers). I tend to agree with Marcel that our ordinary perceptual states include environmental information, e.g. the smell of sulphur is informed by the chemical composition of the chemical element; and the taste of salt is informed by the chemical structure of sodium and chloride, etc. A person living in an environment deprived of e.g. rosemary or basil spices would never spontaneously feel the taste of rosemary or basil.
2 Recommendations
21st Dec, 2014
Alfredo Pereira Junior
São Paulo State University
Dear Arnold, your definition captures one essential feature of consciousness - the egocentric framework from which we perceive the world - but fails to account for other equally essential features: sensations and feelings; perceptual qualities; cognitive information processing and temporal duration.
1 Recommendation
21st Dec, 2014
Alfredo Pereira Junior
São Paulo State University
Dear Sarwan: The dictionary definitions of consciousness tend to be too broad, and when more focused they tend to rely on the Modern concept of consciousness as awareness or a form of knowledge. Recent advances in artificial intelligence and robotics have suggested that being aware of information patterns (as having a file saved in the HD of a computer) and using it in cognitive processes (as for playing chess) are not sufficient conditions to characterize consciousness. In other words, sophisticated machines can do all these operations without any conscious activity. Within the features that you mentioned, some correspond to the features that I used in my definition. Feeling is an essential ingredient of consciousness, if not the main one. I have argued against Damasio's thesis about the existence of unconscious feelings. For him, feelings become conscious only when represented by an (autobiographic) Self. For me feelings are intrinsically conscious and a definition of consciousness does not need to rely on the Self concept. In regard to the idea that consciousness is a state of mater, I find it very naive, at least in regard to human consciousness. Before relating consciousness with matter - and I think a constitutive relation does exist - first it is necessary to define consciousness phenomenologically, as I did. After this definition, we can discuss the relation between consciousness and matter. My view is that conscious feelings involve the effect of conscious forms on the body (the "psychosomatic" effect). Without a body to be affected there would be no feelings. Again I am in opposition to Damasio, who conceives feelings as the effect of body markers on brain information processing...
1 Recommendation
21st Dec, 2014
Carlos Eduardo Maldonado
El Bosque University
Dear Alfredo, the danger with Descartes is that he claims a most dangerous dualism, as we all know. The res cogitans, to which you refer, is after all sustained by Descartes' belief in God. Therefore, there is no environment in Descartes work, whatsoever.
In any case, it seems to be clear, indeed, that our consciousness is to some extent the experience of our environment.
In other words, please allow me to quote Sartre: we first exist and then we think - if at all. In other words, thinking does not ground the existence. And yes, our existence is an environmental one, as it happens.
Thank you very much for your comment.
2 Recommendations
21st Dec, 2014
Alfredo Pereira Junior
São Paulo State University
Dear Carlos, in the context of Cartesian Dualism (Substance Dualism) neither the environment not the body are essential to consciousness (conceived by Descartes as "thinking of thinking"). However, his "dream argument" against naive empiricism is sound, even for those like me who do not accept Substance Dualism. The sensory presence of objects is not necessary for the formation of conscious states. The brain can create conscious episodes from previously internalized information patterns.
Phenomenology begins with Descartes, but has a turning point in the late phase of Husserl, when the assumption of interaction with the "world of life"(Lebenswelt) was made explicit in his argument against Descartes (in the book "Cartesian Meditations"). 
If we agree that the starting point for any approach - philosophical or scientific - to consciousness is phenomenological, then we are assuming some kind of interaction between the conscious system (including its body) and the environment. For existential phenomenology (as in Merleau-Ponty) the perceptual process is the primary source for understanding consciousness, and the interaction with the environment is pre-reflexive as you wrote before. However, the conclusion seems to be that environmental information patterns are relevant to consciousness only if they are registered and felt by the conscious system. Otherwise, they remain unconscious.
1 Recommendation
22nd Dec, 2014
Alfredo Pereira Junior
São Paulo State University
Dear Claus, my position is that we should begin the discussion with our own modality of consciousness - the only one we can experience - and then extend the discussion to other modalities. For instance, some biologists have argued that plants have sensitivity to some information patterns, as exposition to classical music. However, as plants do not have a nervous system, it is hardly arguable that they have the same kinds of cognitive processes that we do. This position corresponds to assuming a phenomenological instance instead of a metaphysical one. My strategy is to begin with phenomenology and move towards an interdisciplinary ontology open to contributions from all branches of science. The traditional metaphysical ways of reasoning may lead to dogmatic positions about what is consciousness. I am not claiming that these positions are false, but claiming that there is a better strategy to approach the topic of what is consciousness.
22nd Dec, 2014
Alfredo Pereira Junior
São Paulo State University
Dear Claus, in your paper you state that consciousness is present in every physical interaction. This statement implies an assumption that any signal exchange between physical entities involves a degree of consciousness. Please justify how you derived this assumption from human conscious experiences. We do not have any conscious experiences of most signal exchanges that occur in our own bodies; e.g. we do not feel our DNA signaling to RNA and proteins; we do not feel the action of proteins in metabolism; not even the neuron action potentials that transmit information to our central nervous system or within this system; or the flow of blood in our arteries and veins, etc...In my tentative definition of consciousness based on phenomenology, I include only phenomena we are conscious of. I am not inclined to accept concepts of consciousness that include phenomena we are not conscious of. For instance, proponents of single cell consciousness state that every neuron has its own consciousness, but we are not conscious of them all.
22nd Dec, 2014
Arnold Trehub
University of Massachusetts Amherst
Alfredo: "Arnold, your definition captures one essential feature of consciousness - the egocentric framework from which we perceive the world - but fails to account for other equally essential features: sensations and feelings; perceptual qualities; cognitive information processing and temporal duration."
All of the essential conscious features that you mention above must be included within our egocentric phenomenal world because our own body is a part of our conscious experience of our egocentric world space. See Fig. 7.3 in The Unity of Mind, Brain and World,Cambridge University Press 2013. The neuronal structure and operating characteristics of the underlying brain mechanisms are detailed in The Cognitive Brain, M IT Press 1991.
22nd Dec, 2014
Carlos Eduardo Maldonado
El Bosque University
Dear Claus, I followed a similar path as you did. I did my Ph.D. on phenomenology - which considers consciousness as a prime problem. However, phenomenology does not allow for a take larger than the strictly human. As it best, please correct me, it bridges the individual and the (human) world; period.
We need step aside from such an understanding into a deeper and broader one, that includes other forms of life, indeed. A couple of comments in this direction have already been pointed out.
1 Recommendation
22nd Dec, 2014
Alfredo Pereira Junior
São Paulo State University
Dear Claus and Carlos, your investigations may address deeper levels, but a definition of consciousness cannot. Conscious phenomena are not hidden from our ordinary experience. This experience, common to all human beings, is the departing point, the ground. Some of the characteristics of this phenomenon can be extended to other forms of life or to non-living systems, and the mechanisms underlying conscious experiences may be (and probably are) unconscious. These are explanations of the phenomenon, not descriptions or definitions. People in the field of consciousness studies/consciousness science often confuse description/definition with explanation. It is time to recall Popper´s distinction of "explanans" and "explanandum".
22nd Dec, 2014
Alfredo Pereira Junior
São Paulo State University
Dear Arnold, you wrote: "All of the essential conscious features that you mention above must be included within our egocentric phenomenal world because our own body is a part of our conscious experience of our egocentric world space".
Alfredo replies: They should be included, but this work has to be done.  Did you develop the following explanations in your book and papers?
a) How are feelings related to the body?
b) How are qualia generated by the retinoid system?
c) How does the retinoid system and its egocentric space help us to think, to form memories and select the focus of attention?
d) What is egocentric time and how is it related to egocentric space?
1 Recommendation
22nd Dec, 2014
Carlos Eduardo Maldonado
El Bosque University
Ooops!, dear Alfredo. I did like your last comment, until you mentioned Popper.
This is a big discussion, indeed, namely the current relevance of Popper. I think philosophy of science has largely advanced since Popper… (This, en passant).
1 Recommendation
22nd Dec, 2014
Alfredo Pereira Junior
São Paulo State University
Dear Carlos, I am not a follower of Popperian philosophy, I just mentioned his distinction 'in passant'  to make justice to his autorship
1 Recommendation
26th Dec, 2014
David Charles Wright-Carr
Universidad de Guanajuato
Carlos, I think all philosophy should be viewed and interpreted in light of the historical, social, and cultural context of each philosopher. After a few decades no philosopher is currently relevant in a general sense, but all have left us with some useful contributions. Popper's most important contribution, from my perspective, is his later formulation of falsificationism, which is present in the theoretical, conceptual, and methodological toolboxes of many scientists today. It lets us cut through a lot of speculative rhetoric and it keeps the ghosts at bay, so that we can (ideally) have a reasonable discussion about topics like consciousness without having the situation degenerate into an ideological confrontation between people with differing belief systems (although those beliefs sometimes seem to be lurking beneath the surface).
3 Recommendations
26th Dec, 2014
Arnold Trehub
University of Massachusetts Amherst
Alfredo: "Did you develop the following explanations in your book and papers?
a) How are feelings related to the body?
b) How are qualia generated by the retinoid system?
c) How does the retinoid system and its egocentric space help us to think, to form memories and select the focus of attention?
d) What is egocentric time and how is it related to egocentric space?"
a. All bodily feelings are patterns of sensory activity that are recurrently projected from our pre-conscious interoceptive synaptic matrices into our body envelope in egocentric retinoid space.
b. Qualia are just the attention-selected patterns of activity in the autaptic-cells of retinoid space. An example is the quale of a hallucinated triangle in horizontal motion in the SMTT experiment.
c. The retinoid system helps us to think by presenting us with a surrounding world to think about.  Our sensory modalities, individually or all together, cannot present us with a global coherent world. The formation of memories about properties and events the world are the function of a large system of pre-conscious neuro-cognitive mechanisms. I have described the minimal neuronal structure and dynamics of such mechanisms in The Cognitive Brain (MIT Press 1991). The selection of the focus of attention is explained in "Analysis and Representation of Object Relations" on my RG page.
d. Egocentric time is what I have called the extended present. It is related to the sharp rise and slow decay of autaptic-cell activity in egocentric retinoid space. It binds conscious events in temporal sequences/frames and enables us to understand sentences, narratives, and musical themes.
3 Recommendations
27th Dec, 2014
Alfredo Pereira Junior
São Paulo State University
Dear Arnold, you gave me very good answers (thank you!), but I am not satisfied:
(Arnold) a. All bodily feelings are patterns of sensory activity that are recurrently projected from our pre-conscious interoceptive synaptic matrices into our body envelope in egocentric retinoid space.
(Alfredo) OK, they are projected, but how are feelings generated? I project a pattern of chocolate on my stomach, but it does not feel like tasting chocolate...It seems to me we cannot explain feelings without making reference to a corresponding pattern of activity in the CNS. What distinguishes pain from pleasure? It is not the location of the activity, but (probably) the spatiotemporal pattern of the corresponding wave.
(Arnold) b. Qualia are just the attention-selected patterns of activity in the autaptic-cells of retinoid space. An example is the quale of a hallucinated triangle in horizontal motion in the SMTT experiment.
(Alfredo) Attention selects the focus (among existing alternatives) but does not generate the quality of the quale. In your example, the white of the triangle is just an increase in gain (of the white of the paper or screen). It is not attention that creates or distinguishes red from blue or green. The quality of the quale and the differences between qualia are (probably) depending on the form of the corresponding brain wave.
(Arnold) c. The retinoid system helps us to think by presenting us with a surrounding world to think about. Our sensory modalities, individually or all together, cannot present us with a global coherent world. The formation of memories about properties and events the world are the function of a large system of pre-conscious neuro-cognitive mechanisms. I have described the minimal neuronal structure and dynamics of such mechanisms in The Cognitive Brain (MIT Press 1991). The selection of the focus of attention is explained in "Analysis and Representation of Object Relations" on my RG page.
(Alfredo) The presentation of a egocentrically ordered world is not sufficient to explain cognition. Do the (logical, mathematical, computational) rules of thought come from 'a priori' forms of the retinoid system itself (as in Kantian philosophy)? Or do the rules come from the external world? Or from both?
(Arnold) d. Egocentric time is what I have called the extended present. It is related to the sharp rise and slow decay of autaptic-cell activity in egocentric retinoid space. It binds conscious events in temporal sequences/frames and enables us to understand sentences, narratives, and musical themes.
(Alfredo) McTaggart has already shown the impossibility of reducing experienced time (A-series) to (Newtonian) physical time (B-series; see link below). The activity of autaptic cells occurs in "real time"(the time used in physics, with the same structure of real numbers), which has no distinction of past, present and future, and no experience of duration. 
1 Recommendation
30th Dec, 2014
Arnold Trehub
University of Massachusetts Amherst
Alfredo: "It is not the location of the activity, but (probably) the spatiotemporal pattern of the corresponding wave.[1] .... Attention selects the focus (among existing alternatives) but does not generate the quality of the quale.[2] .... The presentation of a egocentrically ordered world is not sufficient to explain cognition.[3] .... The activity of autaptic cells occurs in "real time"(the time used in physics, with the same structure of real numbers), which has no distinction of past, present and future, and no experience of duration.[4]"
1. I see no disagreement here as long as it is understood that the corresponding wave (feeling) -- via autaptic-cell excitation, ionic flux, LFP, EM field -- is shaped by the preconscious source pattern of activation in the anatomical locus of its particular somatosensory modality.
2. Of course. The quality of the quale is given as in #1 above.
3. I don't claim that an egocentrically ordered world alone is sufficient to explain cognition. That's why I wrote The Cognitive Brain.
4. Even though the activity of autaptic cells in retinoid space occurs in clock/real time, my theoretical claim is that, due to the egocentric structure of this particular brain mechanism, the supra-threshold activity of its cells constitutes our phenomenal experience of duration. This is why the relatively slow decay of autaptic neurons in retinoid space binds current and recently past perceptual components into what I have called an extended present (language, music, cinema, etc.). McTaggart simply does not apply.
2 Recommendations
7th Jun, 2015
Rita De Vuyst
Afkikker/Klimop
'Attention selects the focus but does not generate the quality of the quale', 
Can attention not be based on quality. Is there not first quality before there is attention.
7th Jun, 2015
Arnold Trehub
University of Massachusetts Amherst
Yes. Quality is a property of consciousness. So we must first be conscious before we can direct attention to any particular aspect (quale) of our conscious field.
1 Recommendation
29th Aug, 2017
Alfredo Pereira Junior
São Paulo State University
A new article on the subject (link below)
29th Aug, 2017
Bill Meacham
University of Texas at Austin
I advocate for using clearer language about experience, consciousness, awareness, subjectivity and the like, in hopes of promoting clearer thinking. Back in May, I presented a paper to the International Congress on Consciousness in Miami titled “How To Talk About Subjectivity (Don’t Say ‘Consciousness’).” It is scheduled to be published in the Journal of Consciousness, Vol. 19, No. 62, and you can read the entire text on my website here:
I recommend avoiding the terms “consciousness” and “awareness,” as they are dreadfully ambiguous. If you must use them, please specify the meaning you intend. The paper lists quite a number of them.
29th Aug, 2017
Rita De Vuyst
Afkikker/Klimop
Human consciousness is indeed linked to the environment. There is no definition of consciousness, it's a system as everything else in nature and it connects the concrete (matter) and the abstract (thought). It intertwines our feelings and it makes our future.
We can ask what happens when 2 people are falling in love; it strikes as a dominator, as a fate, even as a coercion and, it brings about power. Power about the development of the process.
What we can speak about is the hierarchy of consciousness, but here we must realize that a lower degree never can understand a higher degree and there is no possibility for calibration.
Autopoiesis, synchronicity and coincidences are part of the system and the system transcends even the biosphere of our planet.
29th Aug, 2017
Alfredo Pereira Junior
São Paulo State University
Dear Bill and Rita:
You addressed the question correctly, but it was changed a bit by RG editors. My original question was: What is Consciousness? This is also the title of a paper I published with Ricke in 2009 (see the first link).
The harder problem is not semantic or philological, but philosophical and scientific: to provide a theory of consciousness (as discussed in the 2010 paper - second link).
If the trouble was just reducing the ambiguity of the use of the term, Bill´s paper could be a solution. I agree that the classical use of the term is related to knowledge (being conscious = knowing).
As Bill argues, human experience includes much more than knowing. However, there is a lot of experiencing that is happening unconsciously. We, of course, know only the part of experience that is conscious, and only a smaller part is about ourselves (self-awareness).
My proposed definition at the top of the message addresses the other dimensions of being conscious, besides knowing and being self-aware. These dimensions were not fully discussed in the 2009 paper.
29th Aug, 2017
John Jupe
Perceptual Awareness Centre
Why would you want to? Consciousness is a word. Language has little to offer a phenomenon. It's what you do with it that matters. It's within the creative expression that you sample it and render it visible. The definition is worth sod all.
29th Aug, 2017
Alfredo Pereira Junior
São Paulo State University
Dear John,
I agree that this is not a dictionary issue. However, a Theory of Consciousness is not about what can be done with the word "consciousness", in the same way that Physics is not about what can be done with "matter" and Biology is not about what can be done with "life".
29th Aug, 2017
John Jupe
Perceptual Awareness Centre
Ok I posted this in the Vision-Space project as I think @Bill Meacham made the point in his paper?
"I haven't read this fully but I agree with the view that we need to be abandon the term 'consciousness' if we want to study experiential awareness, the phenomenon, the data structures associated with it and how they arise.
 
In the same way that anatomists should stop discussing what it meant by the word and do some!
 
In the same way that artist should stop discussing what art is and do some!"
 
Article Don’t Say “Consciousness”: Toward a Uniform Vocabulary of Subjectivity
 
18th Mar, 2018
Rita De Vuyst
Afkikker/Klimop
Consciousness doesn't accept any definition because it is always more than we can imagine, although if we go through an oeuvre of an artist as Steve Lacy we can capture all these information at once. As I could read above also the environment must be integrated into the whole and the evolution as well as the projections of the future. So for music the concert hall as well as the public as the poetry on which the music is built and the personal state of mind of the musician must be taken into consideration.
The state of mind incorporates also the dream which is very important in the oeuvre of Johan Daisne.
I see consciousness as an exchange of information which has unconscious layers as well, consequently we can't name it.
18th Mar, 2018
Alfredo Pereira Junior
São Paulo State University
Dear Roman:
Do you think that physical = material? There are many things in physics, including first-person experiences, which are not describable or explainable in purely material concepts. Try to describe or explain music using only concepts that apply to matter!
By "material" I mean atomic/subatomic particles, chemical elements and substances. Do you have a different definiton of matter? For instance, some authors assume that social organization (human relations in economy) are also "material". Marx began his studies with Democritus' atomism and ended with "social matter", because of the influence of Hegel, a philospher who constructed the system of Absolute Idealism.
Is it possible to build a Naturalist version of Hegel? This is a project I am interested! It would be close to Max Velmans' "Reflexive Monism".
1 Recommendation
18th Mar, 2018
Alfredo Pereira Junior
São Paulo State University
Interesting project, Dragos. However, it seems to be only against immaterialism, but not a proposal of a materialist concept of consciousness. How do you define human consciousness?
18th Mar, 2018
Alfredo Pereira Junior
São Paulo State University
Dear Rita,
The word "definition" is misleading, because it has the connotation of "limitation". However, it may also be taken in a constructive sense, as I did in the description of this question, by relating human consciousness with cognitive, affective and enactive functions, which can account for Lacy's music and much more!
2 Recommendations
20th Mar, 2018
Rita De Vuyst
Afkikker/Klimop
Poetry can be seen as a particle that moves from one consciousness to the other. By its inner rhyme it makes contact with the neural network of the receiver. The inner rhyme I see as the information which is captured consciously as well as unconsciously.
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20th Mar, 2018
Alfredo Pereira Junior
São Paulo State University
Dear Roman,
"Energy" in this case can be interpreted as "cosmic"/"universal consciousness" coming from the outside of the brain OR as vibrational patterns of ionic movement inside the living brain. As you know, my proposal is about feelings instantiated by vibrational hydro-ionic patterns in nervous systems; I reject all Idealist views. These hydro-ionic patterns are not intrinsic to matter (to the water or to the ions), but instantiate potentialities of the fundamental reality, depending on a previous evolutionary path. Therefore, they can be considered as physical or natural, but not as material, if we follow the conventional meaning of "matter" that I described in the above post. If you prefer to assume a non-conventional concept of matter, as in the case of "Historical Materialism", then you have the trouble of explaining to scientists that your usage of "matter" is not related to chemical elements or substances. I prefer to use "matter" as physicists, chamists and biologists do!
1 Recommendation
20th Mar, 2018
Rita De Vuyst
Afkikker/Klimop
As consciousness would be related to quantum potentials and quantum potentials do not exist in free space, could consciousness be a-local.
2 Recommendations
20th Mar, 2018
Alfredo Pereira Junior
São Paulo State University
Dear Rita,
As long as the potential becomes actual, it becomes local!
1 Recommendation
7th Apr, 2018
Brad Jesness
a starting point for Enlightened Behavioral Science/ Human Ethology
Dear Alfredo Pereira Junior
Consciousness is as-it-is-in-use (and OTHERWISE varies dramatically, to such an extent that there is no impressive overall definition, none people would find "acceptable"). But, THEN, so viewed (as situation-developmentally-variable), the topics/issues/phenomena of consciousness are quite easy to deal with. (A lot of the context determiners are the Memories (and, of course, emotions, broadly understood, are also involved, though I like to just say this is "often" the case, to avoid misunderstanding.)
I have had no trouble indicating to general artificial intelligence people how to define in-action and "handle" these phenomena; basically, like so many important behavior patterns, consciousness is defined by the behavior patterns contexts in which such occurs (and, of course, on environmental/situational aspects, also). This WILL work for AI, and would work for psychology; for philosophy: don't worry about the losers.
It is unfortunate that the idea that something can only be well-defined as-it-is-in-use is so unacceptable to so many. This is part of the sickness of our culture and cultural history, esp. philosophy (which to a large extent deals in wrong thought and confusion) -- this can make almost a whole society that way to some extent.
Otherwise, Alfredo Pereira Junior, when viewed in contexts (as described) your set of related concepts (in the original Question) seems fine (but, realize (1) emotion may be neutral, rather than "there" as positive or negative -- this is often the good, adaptive state (equanimity). (2) Also, when innate guidance is considered: to some extent some perception may precede sensation OR occur with it, at the same time -- at least as currently "framed" or understood.
1 Recommendation
7th Apr, 2018
Alfredo Pereira Junior
São Paulo State University
Dear Brad:
The situation is Psychology is the same of Philosophy in regard to consciousness: you cannot reduce conscious experiences to behavioral patterns. The four kinds of ingredient I mentioned in the question formulation are not behavioral patterns or definable in terms of behavioral patterns. Your advice to AI researchers was flawed!
Please tell me how to reduce to behavioral patterns:
a) Sensations and feelings (such as hunger, thirst, happiness, sadness, fear, pain, pleasure);
b) Perceptual qualities or ‘qualia’ (such as colors, sounds, smells, tastes, etc.);
c) Cognitive processes grounded on feelings and ‘qualia’, such as attention, thinking, memory formation and recall, etc. and
d) A spatiotemporal structure, composed of an egocentric spatial framework and a temporal duration of (conscious) episodes.
7th Apr, 2018
Brad Jesness
a starting point for Enlightened Behavioral Science/ Human Ethology
Dear Alfredo Pereira Junior
You said: " Your advice to AI researchers was flawed! "
I did not specify the advice I gave to AI people here (and not much elsewhere), but it was/is totally consistent with everything else I said, which you seemed to find agreeable. (A particular important aspect: behavior patterns contextualizing and essentially defining other behavior patterns.) So maybe the guidance I gave is fine. (I do have an entire Project regarding AI, which may help you see, BUT I left a LOT of the putting together necessarily to the AI people (AND actually: to the experience of the AI robot). To see that Project: https://www.researchgate.net/project/Developing-a-Usable-Empirically-Based-Outline-of-Human-Behavior-for-FULL-Artificial-Intelligence-and-for-Psychology )
You say (ask): " Please tell me how to reduce to behavioral patterns ". Answer: in context of the circumstances and of the Memories and, at least at times, of the emotions involved (the latter, which is simple enough, I left this to the programmers to address) -- AND: ALL THIS, given the related (Memories-related and situation-related) experiences and especially those related to particular development(s) that have gone on w/r to particular circumstance/types of circumstances. (Major learning goes on with major developments, so I find no need to use the otherwise vague word "learning". Outside of innately-guided, cognitive-stage-related learning ("mixed in" with the new innate perceptual shifts), I posit only associative learning, which is what it is, just occurring phenomenologically very much based on developments which HAVE occurred and then thusly (as above), based on 'experience' (experience not being something that is -- or "apparent" -- onto itself or "raw").)
7th Apr, 2018
Alfredo Pereira Junior
São Paulo State University
Dear Brad:
You refer only to memories and emotions.
They are related to situations, circumstances and types of circumstances.
However, they are not identical to situations or circumstances.
For instance, the same event (e.g. the prision of a person) may leave some people sad while making other people happy.
Conversely, one type of emotion may be related to different types of event (e.g. many people feel the same kind of aversion to cockroaches and to human excrements).
7th Apr, 2018
Brad Jesness
a starting point for Enlightened Behavioral Science/ Human Ethology
Dear Alfredo Pereira Junior
I keep editing and adding (something I really should do off-line, but I never do). Sorry. But, now (in the last 5 minutes), there is more:
At this point (and I think I am done): I now also note: innately-guided qualitatively different cognitive stage shifts (perceptual shifts) especially affecting learning AND associative learning (in contexts, such as I describe in general).
[ In short, before recent edits, you were correct, it was essentially (in major aspects) incomplete/partial. ] Proof I made nothing "up, on the spot": https://www.researchgate.net/project/Developing-a-Usable-Empirically-Based-Outline-of-Human-Behavior-for-FULL-Artificial-Intelligence-and-for-Psychology
NOTE: It is best not to try to think too much "in general", but think in terms of capacities and capabilities and on-going developments -- making A LOT quite dynamic and changing. Yet, still (though it is not something to make too a big deal about): what you say is quite agreeable and correct.
1 Recommendation
8th Apr, 2018
Alfredo Pereira Junior
São Paulo State University
Dear Brad:
You are a defender of innately guided mental states (like Jaak Panksepp), therefore you depart from a non-behavioral framework! Best Regards
4th Oct, 2018
Jean-Marc Alliot
Institut de Recherche en Informatique de Toulouse
Well, I don't have a direct answer for human consciousness, but I quite agree with Darwin that "The difference in mind between man and the higher animals, great as it is, certainly is one of degree and not of kind." The problem is, still, what are "higher animals"? While most of us would agree that bonobos have consciousness which is close "in degree" (and indeed very close, so close that it is hard to define exactly what is the difference between us and them), to human consciousness, we would not accept it for amoebas. But there is such a diversity in human species from amoeba to bonobo (and humans), that it is hard to say where "consciousness" starts (or stops): apes, monkeys, dogs, parrots, elephants? There is an excellent book by Frans De Waal (Are we smart enough to know how smart animals are?) that also demonstrates that what we define as smart (and maybe also as criteria for consciousness) is very often extremely "human-centric". So my answer is, unfortunately, that there is no clear answer, because consciousness (human or "else") is probably not a "yes" or "no" concept, but a concept which is fuzzy by definition, with many criteria that evolve by degrees and not by kind. That reminds me of something Mencken wrote: "For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong".
1 Recommendation
8th Oct, 2018
james paul Pandarakalam
5 boroughs partnership nhs trust
Consciousness cannot be defined. It can only be described. To define consciousness is to defile it.
1 Recommendation
8th Oct, 2018
Rita De Vuyst
Afkikker/Klimop
Consciousness can't be restricted to humans, more and more we proceed to the idea that everything is connected with everything. I'm even convinced that there can be stocked consciousness into poetry and music, or in art in general. Marina Tzvetaeva did not see any difference between nature and her art. There are only levels and a certain hierarchy, but how can this be measured. And may be we can also speak about organic art and artificial art.
2 Recommendations
2nd Oct, 2021
Heena Chawda
National Institute of Technology Raipur
Human Consciousness - Live by understanding, Patience,
Valor, kindness, Priority -Understanding living.
Source of Happiness-Try to be happy with the right understanding, Complaint free family relationship, Interaction, Mutual fulfillment, Consider yourself
(i)Confidence -(ii) Belief in respect of human excellence, (iii) belief in one's own, talent, (iv) Belief in personality according to talent, (v) Sociable in behavior
Animal Consciousness - Live with fear, Live by scare, Anger, Fight.
Priority-Living body
Source of Happiness-Try to be happy with the four senses (Diet, Sleep, Fear, Sex ), To quarrel for food, for money, for property.
Full of complaints in family relationship, Mutual dispute, Superior and consider others inferior
Human consciousness consists of Right Understanding, Relationship and Physical Facility.
Animal consciousness only consist of physical Facility.
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Similar questions and discussions

Is this theorem correct?
Question
Be the first to answer
  • Xaver NewberryXaver Newberry
Let A, B be propositional formulas. The equal sign ‘=’ shall be interpreted according to Kleene’s strong tables. (Kleene’s strong tables have three values: true, false, unknown, denoted as T, F, x.)
Definition: A propositional formula L is a tautology iff it evaluates as true on all combinations of T, F assignments to the propositional variables occurring in L (i.e. x is not considered.)
There are tautologies such that they evaluate as true on all combinations of T, F assignment to a proper subset of the variables occurring in L. These propositional variables are called truth-determining. The rest of the propositional variables (truth-redundant variables) could be x yet L will still evaluate as T.
Theorem 4.1 Let L(P1, P2, … Pn) be any tautology such that P1, P2, … Pn are all the variables occurring in L, and let our connectives be interpreted according to Kleene’s strong tables. Then L is equivalent to
(R1 ⋁ ~R1) & (R2 ⋁ ~R2) & … & (Rm ⋁ ~Rm) (4.1)
if and only if {Ri} is a set of truth-determining variables occurring in L. Naturally {Ri} ⊆ {Pi}.
Proof: First we prove that {Ri} contains all the truth-determining variables. So suppose that there exists a truth-determining variable G occurring in L but not in {Ri}. Suppose further that for all Ri, |Ri| = T or |Ri| = F, and |G| = x. Then the truth value of (4.1) is T but the truth value of L is x. Now suppose that {Ri} contains a redundant variable H, and |H| = x, all other variables in {Ri} are T or F. Then the truth value of (4.1) is x, but the truth value of L is T.
Truth-relevant Logic - Propositional Calculus
p. 14

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