What we are studying when studying consciousness?

To approach the central problem of consciousness from the position of natural science properly, we have first develop and apply proper methods of study and means of formalization. We should not forget that in case of consciousness, we simultaneously use our consciousness as a tool and as an object of study.

I hold that both “the nature of the world around us” and our consciousness obey the same fundamental natural law. This means that we can know about the outer world through studying our consciousness. This also explains why the very process of cognition is possible, or why we are able to perceive the elements of outer world. For instance, the notes C, C#(Db), D, D#(Eb), E, F, F#(Gb), G, G#(Ab), A, A#(Bb), and B form a 12-tone row, or a chain of sounds. On the other hand, the process of thinking also presumes formation of the chains of integrated information systems. That is why we are able to perceive not only the sounds (as physical signals), but music as such. And that is also why music can “play” in our head, so to say. And that is why we feel uncomfortable when we hear the gamut that misses any sound, or some sound is not the one that has to be there.

In fact, the formulated above is the Second basic idea of my meta-theory (http://generaltheory.webs.com/GeneralTheory.pdf  Section 2.6). The first one states that Reality can be explained in its all complexity (together with all phenomena and processes that belong to it) in case we will use the methods (laws) of Physics together with the methods (laws) based on the idea of integrated information system. The third basic idea addresses the question of relation between Phenomenal Reality and Noumenal Reality (see ibid., Section 4.2). In simple terms, it examines to which extent the model of Reality we form due to conducting the process of cognition corresponds with Reality as it exists objectively and independently of the process of cognition.

By the way, I am looking for a person(s) who is not able keeping long time the focus of attention on some performing action. Simply speaking, I mean the persons who (being absent-minded by their very nature) can quickly forget about what they are doing now, and start thinking involuntarily about something else. I want to suggest them to replicate an experiment on calculating the length of veritas chains (see ibid., p.46-47). To do science means doing experiments, doesn’t it?

Kindly,
Serge Patlavskiy

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About serge7patlavskiy

the Institute for Theoretical Problems of Interdisciplinary Investigations, L'viv, Ukraine
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15 Responses to What we are studying when studying consciousness?

  1. Boris Artemenko says:

    Nice blog and basic idea for experimentation. Hopefully you will have people providing you with their experiences that will enable you to test your general theory in depth.

  2. John Mikes says:

    I had no problem with consciousness (Ccnss) till the 1992 Tucson conference (Hameroff etc.) when I detected that the term invokes different contents according to the user’s own theories.
    I started to generalize(?) what I found and boil down to more inclusive definitions. I found that the phenomenon (if??) – rather the PROCESS is fundamental in Nature (what I started to identify at the same time) and it has nothing to do with ‘humans’, animals/living creatures, awareness or else usually mentioned as fundamental to it.
    I don’t know if THERE IS something (thing?) callable Ccnss? What I boild down as the basic process when closing in to the domains involved, was a RESPONSE TO INFORMATiON – or, as I later changed: TO RELATIONS (to get away from Shannon’s ‘bit’ – info).
    *
    Then, later on I became agnostic (not in the religious sense) and drew up a ‘model’ of the world (cf. Robert Rosen) of the reductionistically knowables. Beyond that? the infinite complexity of who knows what, influencing our (adjusted) items in the ‘model without our capability to learn about them: what they are, how they (inter?)act, leaving our conventional sciences (D. Bohm’s Explicate Order) a figment including the physical world and ‘us’ in it – as we can figure it.

    The spelled-out Ccness is more than the ‘noun’ for “being conscious”.
    How to study it? with my favorite agnostic expression: “I dunno”.

  3. Max says:

    Thank you Serge,
    The short descriptions you give here, cross-referenced to your paper, are very helpful when I am studying your ideas. I hope that your blog is successful.

  4. As a general characterisation I understand consciousness to be an ordering function, just as space as time are, too. It is as fundamental as they are. However, as you point out, consciousness is at once the tool and the object of study. Therefore I consider that it cannot be understood unless we begin from a theory of knowledge _without _presuppositon from which both content and method can be developed.

  5. “We are possible to “ask how”, or we are possible to conduct the process of cognition as such because both the outer (objective) world and the mechanisms of consciousness obey the same fundamental law (it is the Second Basic idea of my meta-theory)”

    What does it mean though for that common mechanism to “ask a question” of itself?

  6. Otmar says:

    “You’re traveling through another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind. A journey into a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of imagination. That’s the signpost up ahead – your next stop, the Twilight Zone!”

    • Well, to do experiments in this field is not that easy. I am practicing since my childhood, and collecting data in such a way for a half of century already. At any rate, a person must be sensitive to, or, better say, pay attention to all information that suddenly appears in mind. Did you ever have a feeling that you have forgotten to do something? This phenomenon is met very frequently. There is even a tradition to sit down for a few minutes before going for a long trip. When you are sitting, you may even recollect that you have left your passport or a ticket for a plane.

      Consider a case that happened to me this afternoon. There is an old walnut tree on my neighbor’s yard, but its branches are partly on my side. I mean that the walnuts drop on my yard too. Since my neighbor does not live here (she lives in L’viv for the most of time) I often collect walnuts on her yard too. If not being collected, they would start rotting under the rain.

      Now then, I intended to do two things this afternoon: to collect walnuts, and to collect apples for compote. I planned first to collect apples and put compote on a stew to boil, and while it boils, I would collect walnuts. So, I have taken a pail and … a “cryptic” info stuck my mind unexpectedly: “You should collect walnuts first”. Must admit that this was not according to my plans. But, I decided to listen to that “cryptic” info, (as always).

      After collecting walnuts, I took another pail and was about to start collecting apples. And in that very moment I saw my neighbor’s relatives who came and started collecting walnuts (in fact, there was not many walnuts for them to collect already). So, the info I received ten minutes before helped me to reduce my entropy (I mean that the entropy of an organism with a pail of walnuts is lower than the entropy of an organism without a pail of walnuts).

      Your returning back to counting must be kinda unexpectedly receiving “cryptic” info too, like this one: “Stop thinking about something else. Pay attention to counting. You have forgotten about it! The number of pressings is 135 already.”

  7. Otmar says:

    >Serge: “the nature of the world around us”

    Otmar: I suggest the difficulty of separating the boundary of the rest of the world from the observer. Therefore, the world around us is around us, but does not exist independently of our consciousness of it.

    >Serge: I hold that both “the nature of the world around us” and our consciousness obey the same fundamental natural law.

    Otmar: What laws? Do the laws correspond to your experiences with consciousness, such as the walnut tree experience?

    >Serge: This means that we can know about the outer world through studying our consciousness.

    Otmar: That’s true,but perhaps not in the way you might be thinking.

    >Serge: This also explains why the very process of cognition is possible, or why we are able to perceive the elements of outer world.

    Otmar: What explains it? That consciousness and our physical world obey the same fundamental laws?

    • I suggest the difficulty of separating the boundary of the rest of the world from the observer. Therefore, the world around us is around us, but does not exist independently of our consciousness of it.

      [S.P.] By “exists independently” I mean the case when it is not transformed into the object of cognition yet. The Moon is there despite we look at it or not. Its existence does not depend on the existence of consciousness-possessing organisms.

      What laws? Do the laws correspond to your experiences with consciousness, such as the walnut tree experience?

      [S.P.] In my case, I mean the Law of IIS development (see my paper, Section 2.7.4). Both the IIS{stone} (the IIS{Earth}, the IIS{galaxy}, etc.) and the IIS{organism} obey that same law in their development. That is why the process of cognition is possible as such.

  8. Otmar says:

    >Serge: For instance, the notes C, C#(Db), D, D#(Eb), E, F, F#(Gb), G, G#(Ab), A, A#(Bb), and B form a 12-tone row, or a chain of sounds. On the other hand, the process of thinking also presumes formation of the chains of integrated information systems.

    Otmar: We utilize artistic creation to aim at truth. Imaging is a way of knowing; the intellectual process that leads to an image or a form is a way of thinking. In tones and tonal forces we have discovered an original and infinitely fruitful material for creating images and thinking in images. Thinking in tones, forming in tones, we try to let truth work itself out.

    With respect to your “fundamental laws”, the world of music, the tonal world, appears as the work of forces that act in obedience to laws and whose action manifest in the order of tonal events, in the precisely determined relations of tones to one another, in the cultural norms that govern the course of tonal motion.

    The manifestations of the laws are of a purely dynamic nature; they refer to states, not objects; to relations between tensions, not between positions; to tendencies, not magnitudes (there is nothing to measure in them). The validity of these laws extends as far as the tonal world extends; tones apart from these laws are mere fragments of a possible world. Unlike your laws of nature, tje laws of the tonal world do not prescribe the course of events; they allow for freedom under the law. What the law determines with the force of necessity is the dynamic state, the tendency, of a tone; what it leaves free is the choice of the way, the “when” and the “how” of the progress from tension to release, from unbalance to balance. The law does not determine the individual step, it determines the meaning of the step that is freely chosen.

  9. Jason says:

    Cool blog design. All the evidence seems to support that consciousness is part of the natural order, and that with the kinds of considerations you describe, amenable to meaningful scientific and philosophical study. One issue that I continue to grapple with is the relationship between perception, cognition, and consciousness. It seems that there are aspects of perception and cognition that are conscious and some that are unconscious, or at least some that are and are not available for introspection and/or report. There undoubtably are aspects of consciousness that are available for cognition. I’m more hesitant to say that consciousness can be a target of perceptual processes. It’s been a while since I’ve considered the relationship between these phenomena. I’m curious what your thoughts are on this.

    • “…amenable to meaningful scientific and philosophical study.”

      [S.P.] I am very doubtful whether there can be something like “meaningful philosophical study”. As I show in my paper, even the problem of construction of meta-theoretical basement for studying consciousness becomes the case of application of a strict scientific approach.

      “One issue that I continue to grapple with is the relationship between perception, cognition, and consciousness.”

      [S.P.] I think it is all about consciousness and its mechanisms. I mean that when we talk about consciousness we already presume there to be the process of cognition and perception.

      “It seems that there are aspects of perception and cognition that are conscious and some that are unconscious, or at least some that are and are not available for introspection and/or report.”

      [S.P.] The term “unconscious” is a misnomer in sense that it does not mean “devoid of consciousness”. Yes, there are the processes that we pay attention to and not pay attention to while conducting the process of cognition. However, to formalize both these kinds of processes we may use the graphical models of integrated information systems and show in which case and under which conditions we will have such or other processes.

      “There undoubtably are aspects of consciousness that are available for cognition. I’m more hesitant to say that consciousness can be a target of perceptual processes.”

      [S.P.] But it is a target, and it must be, otherwise we will have no chance to construct the Science of Consciousness as such. Yes, to study our consciousness as an object of study simultaneously using our consciousness as a tool of study would require elaborating appropriate methods and approaches, but there seems to be no easier ways in which our goals could be achieved.

      • Jason says:

        [S.P.] I am very doubtful whether there can be something like “meaningful philosophical study”. [...]

        J: Certainly purely philosophical approaches have failed to make progress on the issue, but I wasn’t talking about philosophy in isolation, but “science and philosophy”. Science is an outgrowth of philosophy, but more conventional philosophical (particularly analytic) philosophy approaches can accelerate the scientific progress on the topic through things like conceptual analysis and methodological analysis.

        [S.P.] The term “unconscious” is a misnomer in sense that it does not mean “devoid of consciousness”. [...]

        J: This is exactly what I mean. Consider Kaniza style illusions: http://dragon.uml.edu/psych/k2.gif Here there are black figures which undergo amodal completion, modally completed ‘illusory contours’, and a brightness difference in the ‘surface’ defined by the modal contours. The results of all of these perceptual processes is available to consciousness, though the construction process or any intermediate representation are wholly unavailable to consciousness, or at the very least to introspection/report. However, I would agree that there are a large number of processes which can be salient in our consciousness, seemingly go on outside it, or anywhere inbetween.

        [S.P.] But it is a target, and it must be, otherwise we will have no chance to construct the Science of Consciousness as such. [...]

        We can’t draw any inferences from the consequences. However, I think we might be using perception differently here. I think what you have in mind here that is required for the purposes of developing a science of consciousness is that we have some kind of introspective access to our own consciousness (and even better be able to report about it).

        Perception doesn’t seem applicable though as this is the process of taking fairly raw information (from sensory transduction) and organizing it into bound percepts. I’m not sure whether this is the right way to think about how we access the content of consciousness. Perhaps this is exactly what the Introspectionists were trying to do, or maybe it was only analogous in some loose way.

  10. Otmar says:

    Serge,

    I want to point out that your post today was eerily similar to mine today. Your “noumenal” is like my pure dynamics, and your phenomenal is my physical dynamics. I am going to post about it later today.

  11. Your style is very unique compared to other folks I’ve read stuff from.
    Many thanks for postinng when you haave the opportunity, Guess I
    will just book mark this site.

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