On the nature of the human mind. Consciousness

Hiya escapists.

So I've been thinking a bit about the human ego, the "I", and would like to discuss the subject.
You see, via the question "What am I?" the idea was recently presented to me that "you" have to be a distinct existence separate from your physical body, because this "I" that experiences things can't originate in the brain. Sure, my brain is taking in information from my surroundings, but "I" am the one who experiences them (it was more complicated than that, but I can't quite remember the details of it).

Here's what I've come up with this far.

Looking at the brains of primitive animals, it seems their role is merely to convert sensory input into bodily output. That is to say, the brains decide how to react to outside stimuli, and command the body to act this out (animals can react to sensory stimuli without using the brain as well, but that has little bearing on this argument).
It would seem our brains have developed from primitive brains that do nothing but interpret sensory input directly.
Our brains are fairly unique in their complexity though, and with the help of memory we may save sensory input for later and combine it with other sensory input to devise of concepts and ideas, which in turn may be stored and interact with other concepts and input. For example, to put it very simply, we may observe an object standing in the middle of the train tracks and later, when we see a runaway cart speeding along the tracks, infer that the cart is going to hit said object.

Why do I mention all this?
Because the idea that our brains developed as tools whose only purpose was to process sensory input implies, to me, that our brains are only capable of operating in terms of this sensory input.
What does this mean?
It means that whenever our brains perform calculations or have ideas and concepts interact - all entirely internal processes that do not require external information to keep going - it all has to happen in terms of simulated sensory input.
For instance, any line of argument or reasoning I work out, I work out through words in my mind. My brain works out problems via words (in my language-center, presumably). To put it a different way: In the example above, I'm the kind of person who will literally think "damn, that train cart is moving down the line at high speeds. It's going to hit that object".
Other people, on the other hand, may be visually oriented for example and may just imagine the sight of the train cart smashing into the object.

Why is this important?
Because in your brain, this creates two different spheres of sensory input: Real (external) input and Simulated (internal) input.
Most of the time, for most people, it is reasonably simple to discern between these two.
The simulated input is what at all times comments on and judges the real input (as well as working out things from your memory, letting concepts interact and such).
The simulated input is what creates the experience of an observer taking in sensory input from its surroundings and processing it.
Or in other words: the simulated input is your thoughts; your mind, your I.

This creates the sensation of an ego, because people only see themselves as this part of them that is made up of simulated input: the conscious part. It appears to the internal sphere as if it is a separate entity emoting, judging, and thinking about the things that the body (including the brain) experiences.
But in truth, this illusion of a self separate from the brain is merely an illusion caused by the brain only being able to process and calculate in terms of sensory input.

If my thoughts hold up to scrutiny, I'd also consider this phenomenon the origin of the thoughts of such concepts as "an eternal soul".

My ideas on this matter are fairly recent, and I haven't had the time to think through them and/or formulate them properly (I also haven't put as much time into writing this post as I'd like, so explanations and such may be a bit flimsy), so I'd like to discuss the topic with you.
What is your opinion on the nature of the human self, the ego, the "I", what you experience to be "yourself".
Please comment and discuss.

How do you know primitive animals have brains that don't work that way? Presumably that's true for most, but for all?

Now, do some animals have brains that work like humans? When and why did this function evolve?

I don't have the answers to those, but I think it'd be useful if it could be determined what caused humans (possibly others) to have this kind of brain.

thaluikhain:
How do you know primitive animals have brains that don't work that way? Presumably that's true for most, but for all?

Now, do some animals have brains that work like humans? When and why did this function evolve?

I don't have the answers to those, but I think it'd be useful if it could be determined what caused humans (possibly others) to have this kind of brain.

I don't think it's a feature that's either present or not. Surely, the brains of animals like cats do have some capacity for memory and understanding simple cocepts.
I'd consider it an issue of differing degrees of ability to have remembered concepts interact and develop, rather than a binary thing.

I think the development of language might have a lot to do with a species' ability to imagine things and have a more lively psyche though.

Jonluw:
Hiya escapists.

So I've been thinking a bit about the human ego, the "I", and would like to discuss the subject.
You see, via the question "What am I?" the idea was recently presented to me that "you" have to be a distinct existence separate from your physical body, because this "I" that experiences things can't originate in the brain. Sure, my brain is taking in information from my surroundings, but "I" am the one who experiences them (it was more complicated than that, but I can't quite remember the details of it).

Here's what I've come up with this far.

Looking at the brains of primitive animals, it seems their role is merely to convert sensory input into bodily output. That is to say, the brains decide how to react to outside stimuli, and command the body to act this out (animals can react to sensory stimuli without using the brain as well, but that has little bearing on this argument).
It would seem our brains have developed from primitive brains that do nothing but interpret sensory input directly.
Our brains are fairly unique in their complexity though, and with the help of memory we may save sensory input for later and combine it with other sensory input to devise of concepts and ideas, which in turn may be stored and interact with other concepts and input. For example, to put it very simply, we may observe an object standing in the middle of the train tracks and later, when we see a runaway cart speeding along the tracks, infer that the cart is going to hit said object.

Why do I mention all this?
Because the idea that our brains developed as tools whose only purpose was to process sensory input implies, to me, that our brains are only capable of operating in terms of this sensory input.
What does this mean?
It means that whenever our brains perform calculations or have ideas and concepts interact - all entirely internal processes that do not require external information to keep going - it all has to happen in terms of simulated sensory input.
For instance, any line of argument or reasoning I work out, I work out through words in my mind. My brain works out problems via words (in my language-center, presumably). To put it a different way: In the example above, I'm the kind of person who will literally think "damn, that train cart is moving down the line at high speeds. It's going to hit that object".
Other people, on the other hand, may be visually oriented for example and may just imagine the sight of the train cart smashing into the object.

Why is this important?
Because in your brain, this creates two different spheres of sensory input: Real (external) input and Simulated (internal) input.
Most of the time, for most people, it is reasonably simple to discern between these two.
The simulated input is what at all times comments on and judges the real input (as well as working out things from your memory, letting concepts interact and such).
The simulated input is what creates the experience of an observer taking in sensory input from its surroundings and processing it.
Or in other words: the simulated input is your thoughts; your mind, your I.

This creates the sensation of an ego, because people only see themselves as this part of them that is made up of simulated input: the conscious part. It appears to the internal sphere as if it is a separate entity emoting, judging, and thinking about the things that the body (including the brain) experiences.
But in truth, this illusion of a self separate from the brain is merely an illusion caused by the brain only being able to process and calculate in terms of sensory input.

If my thoughts hold up to scrutiny, I'd also consider this phenomenon the origin of the thoughts of such concepts as "an eternal soul".

My ideas on this matter are fairly recent, and I haven't had the time to think through them and/or formulate them properly (I also haven't put as much time into writing this post as I'd like, so explanations and such may be a bit flimsy), so I'd like to discuss the topic with you.
What is your opinion on the nature of the human self, the ego, the "I", what you experience to be "yourself".
Please comment and discuss.

I think a human brain interprets things the same as an animal brain, because it is an animal brain. It just does it in ways that are more complex. I don't really know what you're trying to say, because most animals have some form of what you would call 'simulated input'. I also don't see how any of this connects to the idea of an eternal soul.

Jonluw:
You see, via the question "What am I?" the idea was recently presented to me that "you" have to be a distinct existence separate from your physical body, because this "I" that experiences things can't originate in the brain.

Why? From reading the rest of your post, I know this isn't your position, but did they say why they think it can't originate from the brain? Especially considering how we can affect the brain with medication and what we know of brain damage affecting people?

For example, to put it very simply, we may observe an object standing in the middle of the train tracks and later, when we see a runaway cart speeding along the tracks, infer that the cart is going to hit said object.

Yeah, that requires object permanence. Very young children often don't have that yet, but develop it as their brains do. A lot of animals do, too, though. I'll go further (in regards to the below) and say that a lot of animals actually have quite highly developed reasoning skills. Apes, monkeys, dolphins, some birds can actually conceptualize and find solutions to problems, even if they were never presented with them previously. There are some great videos online to see this in action, usually using puzzles with a treat at the end to motivate an animal to solve a puzzle. Of course, it's important to ensure the animals aren't simply trained to do solve a puzzle rather than figuring it out themselves, that's why they need to vary the experimental setup.

There are plenty more videos (including of birds, which I find very interesting) dealing with experiments like these, including social interactions and cooperation to get at the reward together.

It means that whenever our brains perform calculations or have ideas and concepts interact - all entirely internal processes that do not require external information to keep going - it all has to happen in terms of simulated sensory input.

True, but those "simulations", visualizations, memories, experiences, have had their basis in the real world as well, be they words you learnt or visual examples you observed and can imagine.

The simulated input is what creates the experience of an observer taking in sensory input from its surroundings and processing it.
Or in other words: the simulated input is your thoughts; your mind, your I.

I disagree. The self is much more than just the "simulated input". It's the whole "machinery" used to evaluate "simulated input" and "external input", it's shaped by your experiences to evaluate differently; it has to be more than just your thoughts because it affects how you think, including about "external input". I'd agree that people focus too much on the conscious aspects of their selves and thus overestimate its role and distinction from everything else, but I also think you're too narrow in your own definition. Everything that affects the brain chemistry can play into this, including functions like hormones, blood sugar levels and whatnot, and thus form the self from moment to moment. And I won't even go into things like drugs, alcohol, brain trauma, amnesia, depression (as a chemical imbalance) etc. here, but you get the idea. Now, I'm not specialized on neuroscience (I think Agema is, actually; I'll be curious to see his response to this thread), but that's my very basic view of it.

Skeleon:

Jonluw:
You see, via the question "What am I?" the idea was recently presented to me that "you" have to be a distinct existence separate from your physical body, because this "I" that experiences things can't originate in the brain.

Why? From reading the rest of your post, I know this isn't your position, but did they say why they think it can't originate from the brain? Especially considering how we can affect the brain with medication and what we know of brain damage affecting people?

I believe the guy who was talking to me about this would say that the "I" would be a separate entity because, when you get brain damage, "you" - the separate entity - is what's experiencing the effects on your brain.
(I also had a separate formulation defining an ego as arising when a brain attempts to understand its own processes, having to describe these processes in terms of simulated sensory input.)

For example, to put it very simply, we may observe an object standing in the middle of the train tracks and later, when we see a runaway cart speeding along the tracks, infer that the cart is going to hit said object.

Yeah, that requires object permanence. Very young children often don't have that yet, but develop it as their brains do. A lot of animals do, too, though. I'll go further (in regards to the below) and say that a lot of animals actually have quite highly developed reasoning skills. Apes, monkeys, dolphins, some birds can actually conceptualize and find solutions to problems, even if they were never presented with them previously. There are some great videos online to see this in action, usually using puzzles with a treat at the end to motivate an animal to solve a puzzle. Of course, it's important to ensure the animals aren't simply trained to do solve a puzzle rather than figuring it out themselves, that's why they need to vary the experimental setup.

There are plenty more videos (including of birds, which I find very interesting) dealing with experiments like these, including social interactions and cooperation to get at the reward together.

Indeed. As I mentioned to Thaluikhan, I consider the exsistence of egos in animals (including humans) to be a spectrum rather than a binary thing.
When I mentined "primitive brains", I wasn't thinking of apes and birds, but rather things like roundworms.

It means that whenever our brains perform calculations or have ideas and concepts interact - all entirely internal processes that do not require external information to keep going - it all has to happen in terms of simulated sensory input.

True, but those "simulations", visualizations, memories, experiences, have had their basis in the real world as well, be they words you learnt or visual examples you observed and can imagine.

That they do, but the point is that our brains are able to process external stimuli through extremely long calculations, leaving us with processes that, although they can be traced back to their original input, go on entirely internally with no continued external output to keep them going.
Say I checked my bank balance today and found I only had 10NOK in my account. On the way to the store to buy something small though, I notice a 200NOK bill in my pocket. I combine these two pieces of input to work out that my balance is +210NOK.
Then, when I get to the store, I notice an item that's too expensive for me to buy (particularly since I've already filled my shopping cart with other items). However, I remember that I saw a sign outside advertising a 50% discount on this particular category of items.
The process, then, of working out whether I can afford the item and which other items I have to put back to do so is entirely internal, although it can be traced back to the pieces of external input it originated from.

The simulated input is what creates the experience of an observer taking in sensory input from its surroundings and processing it.
Or in other words: the simulated input is your thoughts; your mind, your I.

I disagree. The self is much more than just the "simulated input". It's the whole "machinery" used to evaluate "simulated input" and "external input", it's shaped by your experiences to evaluate differently; it has to be more than just your thoughts because it affects how you think,

While I agree that "the self" is more than just the simulated input, what I'm trying to say that the ego is not.
The processes you mention affectig the self are all subconscious and therefore not a part of the ego.
I believe what I'm trying to say with this is very similar to what you're saying here.
Most people see themselves as only being their ego. They are this being that their body and subconscious self are merely attached to and affecting.
And it's understandable, because that is very much what exsiting feels like.
However, I argue that the ego is an illusion caused by this separation of the two spheres of stimuli in most people's minds.

What I'm saying is

including about "external input". I'd agree that people focus too much on the conscious aspects of their selves and thus overestimate its role and distinction from everything else, but I also think you're too narrow in your own definition. Everything that affects the brain chemistry can play into this, including functions like hormones, blood sugar levels and whatnot, and thus form the self from moment to moment. And I won't even go into things like drugs, alcohol, brain trauma, amnesia, depression (as a chemical imbalance) etc.

I agree with all of this. Your self is much more than just the internal sphere of stimuli, and because the two spheres are so easy to distinct (barring hallucinations), most people only consider "themselves" to be this little "onlooker" living inside the brain and experiencing things and tinking. The ego. I'm arguing the ego is an illusion and you should embrace your subconscious mind as well as the external sphere of stimuli as parts of your "self".

Notsomuch:
I think a human brain interprets things the same as an animal brain, because it is an animal brain. It just does it in ways that are more complex. I don't really know what you're trying to say, because most animals have some form of what you would call 'simulated input'. I also don't see how any of this connects to the idea of an eternal soul.

I'm saying I think this simulated input is what creates the experience of the ego, the "self".
(Yes I include humans when I speak of animals)
Humans merely have a highly developed sense of self on account of their highly developed brains.

thaluikhain:
How do you know primitive animals have brains that don't work that way? Presumably that's true for most, but for all?

Now, do some animals have brains that work like humans? When and why did this function evolve?

I don't have the answers to those, but I think it'd be useful if it could be determined what caused humans (possibly others) to have this kind of brain.

From recent studies on primates, it would seem that most of our close relatives (chimpanzees, gorillas etc.) have both the ability to lie and to make pretend. BBC ran a story on it just a few days back and it is quite a fascinating read.

Jonluw:
I agree with all of this. Your self is much more than just the internal sphere of stimuli, and because the two spheres are so easy to distinct (barring hallucinations), most people only consider "themselves" to be this little "onlooker" living inside the brain and experiencing things and tinking. The ego. I'm arguing the ego is an illusion and you should embrace your subconscious mind as well as the external sphere of stimuli as parts of your "self".

Is this really what people think though? I find the idea that I only exist as some voyeur in my own head to be pretty foreign, as a majority of what "I" experience is directly related to my body. I mean, look at why so many people spend so much time trying to shape their bodies into something they find attractive, that's because the body is a very real and very present part of the "me".

There's also this problem with your distinction that it is only clear cut on a theoretical level. How exactly does one embrace the subconscious? What is the subconscious? How do I embrace things like changing hormonal levels, blood sugar, sleep deprivation or hunger? In essence I think you are creating a false dichotomy when you label things external/internal stimuli because it is never that simple. There's a constant tide of neural activity happening in our brain and nervous system and our body is constantly absorbing stimuli, which we react to no matter if we know it or not. The problem is that our interactions with these "subconscious" stimuli is that our reactions to them are colored by "who we are", which in turns suggests that our consciousness (which you seem to refer to as the ego) is only a part of our actual function as an organism. It is still the most vital part of our function as a human being however, because consciousness is what makes us a distinct individual and what our consciousness dictates seems to influence even our unconscious reactions.

I'm drunk, one of the few times I'm allowed in my current circumstance, so this may or may not make sense. You have been warned about the relevance and accuracy of the following.

I believe the OP claims the existence of the soul in the OP, an outside operator, and I heartedly disagree, as it is so far in our knowledge unknowable and improbable. We are exactly what we see in other animals. The only difference is that we are capable of more of the same.

There are a few flaws I see, however. First, the OP takes note of the fact that we have memory and imp. This is not unique to humans, however. In fact, this is fairly common in the animal kingdom. We're just better at it.

He mentions that we have internal processes that do not require external information to keep going. I soundly reject this premise. I contest that our minds are a product of external information. Our seemingly completely internal thoughts are molded by the experiences we've had before, ie our externalities...if that's a word. The way we think did not spontaneously occur. Something influenced it. I propose it's what we have experienced.

In fact, we are frighteningly like animals, which is why we study them to learn more about ourselves. Every time I see a study about the behaviors of animals, I think "That is exactly what humans do! With some nuance." The last part is important, because we are more capable of that nuance, which implies a common link with lesser sentience, but a greater processing power.

Our minds are highly advanced computers. This brings into question the possibility of sentience from non-biological processing power(ie robots), but that's another debate for another time(unless of course someone takes me up on it here). Suffice to say we are remarkable creatures of intelligence, as far as we know, and we should not take that for granted.

There is nowhere but the brain an "I" could originate from. And capable of reflection and logical deduction as it might be, it relies on both prior sensory inputs to work from, and recent ones on one's situation to work on. Hence why fetuses/newborns are potential persons, rather than existing ones.

Gethsemani:
I mean, look at why so many people spend so much time trying to shape their bodies into something they find attractive, that's because the body is a very real and very present part of the "me".

Or the body is advertisement for a "me".

Being slim in a society where there's constant access to ample amount of fattening food is perceived as a sign of self-control. Though I very much doubt many people sat down and thought through what their individual "me" would like to advertise. They just went with what everyone else told them were the way to go (...then complain about "unrealistic media standards for beauty" when they neigh-inevitably fall short of what they were told to do, because the idea that they could think for themselves is just too alien).

Jonluw:
via the question "What am I?" the idea was recently presented to me that "you" have to be a distinct existence separate from your physical body, because this "I" that experiences things can't originate in the brain. Sure, my brain is taking in information from my surroundings, but "I" am the one who experiences them (it was more complicated than that, but I can't quite remember the details of it).

Well, that's the first thing I'd have to question, because I think consciousness does reside in the brain. As another poster pointed out, we can affect the brain's function with drugs, and brain damage to certain areas has fairly consistent consequences. Also, consciousness has never been observed in the absence of a functioning brain.

I don't know if thinking in terms of things that are like sensations we've experienced is what I would call a separate source of sensory input. It's not really input. It seems like you are describing imagination.

Have you ever noticed how mind-boggling difficult it is to think of something completely original? Something that is not a combination or modification of other things you've seen or thought of? You see this in television sci-fi when they try to make aliens. "This is one looks like a human, but blue. This one looks like a giant preying mantis. This one's a fleshy aquatic creature with a head like an octopus. This one is very hairy. This one is made out of a rocky substance." It's all shit we've seen before mashed together. And it's not because of budget limitations. It seems to be because we have a heap of trouble actually generating data as you seem to suggest we might. If we were truly capable of generating such input one would imagine, perhaps only with enough training, that we could think of five or six dimensional landscapes or geographies. This is why we have these physical theories where the math makes sense but we can't even attempt to visualize what is supposedly going on. So we're not really generating new input so much as mashing together memories. Just because some process can operate without immediate sensory input does not mean that it operates with none.

I would agree that the imaginative or reflective processes tend to be what give rise to ideas of the soul, however. Though perhaps that is overbroad. Such is also what gives rise to the idea of 'an idea' or a 'self' and many other concepts.

Batou667:

Jonluw:
via the question "What am I?" the idea was recently presented to me that "you" have to be a distinct existence separate from your physical body, because this "I" that experiences things can't originate in the brain. Sure, my brain is taking in information from my surroundings, but "I" am the one who experiences them (it was more complicated than that, but I can't quite remember the details of it).

Well, that's the first thing I'd have to question, because I think consciousness does reside in the brain. As another poster pointed out, we can affect the brain's function with drugs, and brain damage to certain areas has fairly consistent consequences. Also, consciousness has never been observed in the absence of a functioning brain.

You should probably read the rest of my post more thoroughly.
If you do, you'll see that I'm rejecting the notion I mention in the above paragraph.

Seanchaidh:
I don't know if thinking in terms of things that are like sensations we've experienced is what I would call a separate source of sensory input. It's not really input. It seems like you are describing imagination.

I called it Simulated sensory input for a reason.
The brain employs concepts (such as words) that it is familiar with to simulate sensory input.
When I think, for example, I experience it as if I am talking inside my head. The things I can think about, then, are limited by the concepts I know of and can put into words. There may also be some concepts with which I'm familiar, without knowing words for them. These, my brain will also be able to utilize in its calculations, although probably not as efficiently as concepts I know words for, since I'm an auditive type of person.

Like I said to Skeleon: I can use these concepts to create new concepts that are unique to my mind, but that doesn't mean that they are truly original in the sense that they can't be traced back to the original pieces of sensory input.
i.e. I was never trying to say that our minds generate new input. They perform calculations and let ideas interact with eachother through the mechanism of simulating new sensory input.

Gethsemani:

Jonluw:
I agree with all of this. Your self is much more than just the internal sphere of stimuli, and because the two spheres are so easy to distinct (barring hallucinations), most people only consider "themselves" to be this little "onlooker" living inside the brain and experiencing things and tinking. The ego. I'm arguing the ego is an illusion and you should embrace your subconscious mind as well as the external sphere of stimuli as parts of your "self".

Is this really what people think though? I find the idea that I only exist as some voyeur in my own head to be pretty foreign, as a majority of what "I" experience is directly related to my body.

Most people do feel that their body is a part of them, but the impression I get is that they consider their brains a part of "their body" and the entirety of "them" to be something more than just that.

I don't think they see themselves as "just some voyeur in their own head", but it seems to me that most people see themselves as more than just their physical bodies.

There's also this problem with your distinction that it is only clear cut on a theoretical level. How exactly does one embrace the subconscious? What is the subconscious? How do I embrace things like changing hormonal levels, blood sugar, sleep deprivation or hunger? In essence I think you are creating a false dichotomy when you label things external/internal stimuli because it is never that simple. There's a constant tide of neural activity happening in our brain and nervous system and our body is constantly absorbing stimuli, which we react to no matter if we know it or not. The problem is that our interactions with these "subconscious" stimuli is that our reactions to them are colored by "who we are", which in turns suggests that our consciousness (which you seem to refer to as the ego) is only a part of our actual function as an organism. It is still the most vital part of our function as a human being however, because consciousness is what makes us a distinct individual and what our consciousness dictates seems to influence even our unconscious reactions.

I don't quite see what you're trying to say here.
What I'm trying to say is that you are not only your thoughts (your ego): you are also the experiences you take in, you are your body, and you are the subconscious processes in your brain.

I suggest readin Ray Kurzweil's new book, How to create a mind. He talks about his past success with learning systems that gave us modern voice recognition. He gives his ideas about how to model artificial intelligence after human thinking.

His summary of why we have brains is that they are forecast engines. They predict the future by saving and correlating past experiences with current conditions. Catching a ball someone throws to you is just a prediction of where the ball will be based on past experience and moving your hand into that predicted spot. We run those simulative forecasts in our head and act on the output.

Every brain does this to different degrees. Some may have less storage for past experiences and therefore have less reference for their simulations. Some may only run simpler simulations, I haven't been any other animal that I can remember so I can't compare.

To me, "myself" is a lie I tell my simulations to be a value placeholder for my future self. I greatly dislike forecasting a world without me and there are times I feel like falling for the idea there is something external and eternal inside of me but I try to stay grounded in the knowledge that this is not demonstratable and therefore I am purely internal and ephemeral.

It means that whenever our brains perform calculations or have ideas and concepts interact - all entirely internal processes that do not require external information to keep going - it all has to happen in terms of simulated sensory input.

When your not around any visible food you still start to feel hungry. This feeling isn't stimulated by any external input since there is no food around. This feeling results from mechano-receptors and chemo-receptors in your stomach, intestines, and circulatory system. All internal stimuli, your brain probably works in the same way. Based on your internal feelings like boredom or interest. So your mind activates your memory accessing what it needs to fulfill those feelings, of course the way our brain are wired we don't just access one part of our mind. Signals pass through memory, higher thought, language, and the correlates it all.

So there is no such thing as simulated stimuli even if your alone in your room and suddenly you think about what tomorrow is going to be like, it's because there is a stimulation arising from your mind to accomplish this task. And our minds are also connected which probably causes a cascade of thought that we have to consciously stop, imagine you have an annoying habit like snapping your fingers so you have to force yourself to stop it. How does your brain do this? Well there are multiple paths through your body that can be activated in almost every instance just like we have autonomic system that we can override using our thoughts.

So our brains are organized in a certain way and we connections in it that allow us to think, when I think of keys I think of car which I think of driving which activates everything necessary to drive the car. All of these memories are connected to each other.

Can we really separate thought from a general stimulus? No. can we think and act without being aware of the actions involved? Yes. Can we override our organically appearing actions with what we consider conscious thought? Yes. Are those conscious thoughts actually conscious thought or just another stimuli making us act and think another way? I would say no, our brains hold the key to the whole palace and our thoughts and actions are only distinguishable based on how we classify the physiologically and their method of arising in the body. So in reality every thought you've ever had is a reaction to stimuli even when that reaction is meant to shut of thought in another way and everything that follows that original stimuli is an organic cascade of signals leading you to a conclusion based on our brain wiring and our previous stimuli.

Huh, so I've come to the conclusion that real consciousness is a lie and the I self is a natural development from our large rippled brain with tons of nuclei all interconnected.

Gethsemani:
that's because the body is a very real and very present part of the "me".

Is that still the case if they are blind from birth?

I do wonder what kind of memories of others totally blind people have- perhaps they would be more attuned to personality rather than appearance. It sucks that I can't know.

Jonluw:
I believe the guy who was talking to me about this would say that the "I" would be a separate entity because, when you get brain damage, "you" - the separate entity - is what's experiencing the effects on your brain.
(I also had a separate formulation defining an ego as arising when a brain attempts to understand its own processes, having to describe these processes in terms of simulated sensory input.)

I'll blow that out of the water immediately. Talk about amnesia after a head trauma. The "I" doesn't experience that. That's the problem: The lack of memories. The problem is the lack of experiencing, of remembering.
Similarly, when you suffer from a chemical imbalance, you don't observe the emotional ups and downs, your "I" is actually suffering these ups and downs itself.
And these are just two examples off the top of my head. Clearly, brain states and damages aren't just experienced by the "I" but can actually affect and change what the "I" is on very fundamental levels.

While I agree that "the self" is more than just the simulated input, what I'm trying to say that the ego is not.
The processes you mention affectig the self are all subconscious and therefore not a part of the ego.

Freud's particular understanding of the consciousness as three separate entities is pretty outdated.

I believe what I'm trying to say with this is very similar to what you're saying here.
Most people see themselves as only being their ego. They are this being that their body and subconscious self are merely attached to and affecting.
And it's understandable, because that is very much what exsiting feels like.
However, I argue that the ego is an illusion caused by this separation of the two spheres of stimuli in most people's minds.

I guess I can sort of agree with that, even though the terminology is confusing.
But from all you've written, the parts I primarily disagree with are you playing devil's advocate for the people whom you disagree with yourself, so all in all we largely agree, I'd say.

Skeleon:

Jonluw:
[quote]While I agree that "the self" is more than just the simulated input, what I'm trying to say that the ego is not.
The processes you mention affectig the self are all subconscious and therefore not a part of the ego.

Freud's particular understanding of the consciousness as three separate entities is pretty outdated.

Yeah, I just like to use the word "ego" to refer to this sensation of your consciousness or whatever.
You probably shouldn't interpret any of what I'm saying in the context of Freud's theories of the mind.

Jonluw:

Skeleon:

Jonluw:
You see, via the question "What am I?" the idea was recently presented to me that "you" have to be a distinct existence separate from your physical body, because this "I" that experiences things can't originate in the brain.

Why? From reading the rest of your post, I know this isn't your position, but did they say why they think it can't originate from the brain? Especially considering how we can affect the brain with medication and what we know of brain damage affecting people?

I believe the guy who was talking to me about this would say that the "I" would be a separate entity because, when you get brain damage, "you" - the separate entity - is what's experiencing the effects on your brain.
(I also had a separate formulation defining an ego as arising when a brain attempts to understand its own processes, having to describe these processes in terms of simulated sensory input.)

But isn't the fact that consciousness is affected by brain damage direct evidence that it has the brain as its origin? People have been known to take on completely different personalities and identities as a result of it, to me that's pretty clear evidence that the brain is generating the ego.

As for ego in animals, it's a fascinating area of study but I'd lean very strongly in favour of it, any pet owner will tell you that animals display very human emotions and behaviour, much of which is totally unique to other pets.

Imperator_DK:

Being slim in a society where there's constant access to ample amount of fattening food is perceived as a sign of self-control.

[citation needed]

Though I very much doubt many people sat down and thought through what their individual "me" would like to advertise.

Given the amount of time many people spend on their appearance with a view to how other people will take it, this statement (with or without the context of the subsequent sentences) is just laughable.

They just went with what everyone else told them were the way to go (...then complain about "unrealistic media standards for beauty" when they neigh-inevitably fall short of what they were told to do, because the idea that they could think for themselves is just too alien).

Why not just follow your own logic? Very simple: advertising is something you do to appeal to other people. If one wishes to advertise one's beauty to others, rationally one should get maximal effect by striving to attain other people's standards.

Perhaps all those people you sneeringly demean as unable to "think for themselves" actually have a rather better idea of what's going on than you.

This is probably the brainiest thread I've ever seen.

I... don't have much else to contribute at the moment.

Agema:

Imperator_DK:

Being slim in a society where there's constant access to ample amount of fattening food is perceived as a sign of self-control.

[citation needed]
...

Fair enough.

...
Thinness is equated with health, restraint,
moderation, self-control, and beauty (Gilbert, 2000; Hesse-Biber, 1996).
Thus a lean body is equated with power and health, regardless of the
cost of achieving thinness.
The pursuit for thinness serves several functions. Control of one's body
and weight is an external indicator of control over one's life (Whitaker &
Davis, 1989). The inability to bring about personal or social changes may be
expressed through attempts to transform and control the body (Chernin,
1985). As such, thinness also may be an expression of achievement, the
ability to master an ideal that few are able to accomplish. A woman who is
slim is perceived as having a strong moral fiber and a great deal of selfcontrol
(Hesse-Biber, 1996).[1]
...

That one's outward appearance significantly affect which inner qualities one is regarded to possess is hardly scientifically controversial. Even if theories on it - as with social sciences in general - rest merely on the inductive scientific method, rather than the more certain ones you're undoubtedly used to in your field.

Given the amount of time many people spend on their appearance with a view to how other people will take it, this statement (with or without the context of the subsequent sentences) is just laughable.

They've undoubtedly spent eons of time on the how. But how much did they spend on the what, not to mention the why? Was all that time spent on how to best to look like Paris Hilton preceded by a reflection on whether one personally want to look like Paris Hilton, and why this would be the case? Or did they just mindlessly go with the flow there?

Why not just follow your own logic? Very simple: advertising is something you do to appeal to other people. If one wishes to advertise one's beauty to others, rationally one should get maximal effect by striving to attain other people's standards.

Obviously so.

Since they've chosen that goal themselves, complaining about what those standards are makes little sense though. If they don't like other people's standards, then they should not have chosen them as their parameter for success. They have no business telling other people what they should and shouldn't find beautiful, yet feel entitled to do, so in order to compensate for their own failure to live up to their own choice of ideal.

Perhaps all those people you sneeringly demean as unable to "think for themselves" actually have a rather better idea of what's going on than you.

Possibly so.

...definitely so with regard to how best to look like Paris Hilton.

[1] Dana Heller Levit (2003): Drive for Thinness and fear of fat: Seperate yet related constructs? Eating disorders: The Journal of Treatment & Prevention, 11:3, 221-234, p. 222, with further references to Hesse-Biber, S. J. (1996). Am I thin enough yet? The cult of thinness and the commercialization
of identity. New York: Oxford University Press
, Gilbert, S. (2000). Counselling for eating disorders. London: Sage, and Whitaker, L., & Davis, W. N. (Eds.). (1989). The bulimic college student: Evaluation, treatment, and prevention. New York: Haworth Press.

 

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