Necessary conditions for consciousness

Marcy marcyatwork at hotmail.com
Mon Feb 12 12:01:51 EST 2001


I have GOT to get in on this discussion...

It's me again, the writer trying to make a "pain machine" to read and
transfer pain from one person to another. In my book (so far) a "level ten"
pain is one that would knock you unconscious. If you've seen Tom Hanks in
Cast Away you'll know the skate scene where he knocks himself out. How does
this happen? How can the body read the location of the body's pain so
accurately, and can we intervene before it gets to the brain? Is the
unconsciousness due to pain just a reaction based on personal pain
tolerance, or is there a threshold that any brain cannot withstand. What
happens during this intense shut down?

Phantom limbs... Where is the information coming from? If the lower leg is
amputated at the knee, does the sensation of an itchy foot come from the
nerve endings at the tip of the knee (point of amputation), or an
interpretation the brain is making based on the body image. If the latter is
true, how does this affect all sensations we feel? Can that be measured?

If I place my hand on a hot plate and don't notice at first, does the pain
exist? Can that be read as a sensory impulse *before* it reaches the
consciousness of the person with their hand on a hot plate? I want to be
able to take that impulse and read it accurately, transfer it accurately to
another individual - all in the name of fiction of course. But I really want
to get close to reality if I can.

So there, I throw that out to you all. I'm loving this discussion....

Marcy Italiano
--
-----------------------------------------------------
Click here for Free Video!!
http://www.gohip.com/free_video/

Glen M. Sizemore <gmsizemore at triad.rr.com> wrote in message
news:8JEg6.50032$p8.11226162 at typhoon.southeast.rr.com...
> Lew: You may want to consider the possibility that
> it is not brains that are
> conscious (or that produce conscious experience),
> but rather bodies.
> This is not to say that brains aren't an important part,
> clearly they
> are. What I'm suggesting is that it might not make
> sense to focus on the
> brain alone and exclude the rest of the body. It might
> be argued, for
> example, that your eyes are really just your brain
> sticking out the
> front of your head. If I'm not mistaken, there is also
> some evidence
> that rudimentary processing is occurring in the
> retina. I can't think of
> any principled reason to say that the computational
> processes that
> underlie consciousness occur only in the brain but
> not at all in, say,
> the spinal column. Where subjective experience is
> concerned, it
> certainly feels as if my body is conscious (toes,
> fingertips, etc.).
> There's also unilateral neglect, phantom limb
> syndrome, synesthesia,
> etc. which at least suggest that the body is best
> understood as a whole
> as opposed to a mode of transportation for the brain.
> If there is
> someone at your University who teaches Merleau-
> Ponty you might want to
> take a course or an independent study. He argues
> (persuasively I think)
> that notions like "intelligence" and "consciousness"
> belong to the body
> as whole, and not to the brain alone (although once
> again, the brain is
> clearly a very important piece of meat). With regard
> to Cartesian
> dualism, Jean-Paul Sartre pointed out that the best
> way to unify the
> mind and body is not to separate them in the first
> place. You might want
> to consider the possibility that it would be better not
> to separate the
> brain from the body if you plan to explain how they
> function together at
> some later time.
>
> Glen: You are on to something here. The reason that
> "'intelligence' and 'consciousness' belong to the
> body as whole" is that such terms are "used as
> references to behavior." If we examine the
> circumstances under which we allege that others are
> "conscious" we will find that we are observing
> behavior. Further, we will find that there are two
> general kinds of observations that "cause us to use
> the term consciousness;" I refer to these two kinds
> of circumstances as 1) consciousness in the general
> sense, and 2) consciousness in the restricted sense
> (CRS) of self-aware . The former is used simply to
> refer to the fact that an organism is "responding to
> stimuli." The latter is used to refer to the fact that
> humans can "respond to their own behavior or states
> of their bodies." Only the latter deserves much
> further comment, but this is not to say that the
> behavior of organisms, in general, or the
> neurobiology of behavior in general, is well
> understood - it is not.
>
> In any event, it is not membership in the human
> species that confers CRS, it is the special social
> milieu in which humans are embedded. Humans
> respond to their own behavior (or states of their
> own bodies) because the "verbal community"
> arranges contingencies of reinforcement that force
> such responses. As has been pointed out (all to
> seldom) is that non-human organisms can be "made
> conscious" of their own behavior (or states of their
> bodies). This is routinely done in the laboratory
> using the procedure known as drug-discrimination
> where responses on one lever are reinforced if the
> organism has been injected with, say, cocaine, and
> responses are reinforced on another when saline has
> been injected.
>
> Thus, consciousness is a behavioral phenomenon
> and behavior is part of the functioning of whole
> organisms. Referring to the brain, or parts of the
> brain, in terms relevant to whole organisms is
> nonsense, and embodies everything that is wrong
> with psychology and behavioral neurobiology.
>
> Glen
> "L.A. Loren" <lloren at mitre.org> wrote in message
> news:3A8173E7.BA1D80EB at mitre.org...
> > Jeffrey Kazuo Yoshimi wrote:
> > >
> > [snip]
> > > Assume that for a brain to produce conscious experience...
> > [snip]
> >
> > You may want to consider the possibility that it is not brains that are
> > conscious (or that produce conscious experience), but rather bodies.
> > This is not to say that brains aren't an important part, clearly they
> > are. What I'm suggesting is that it might not make sense to focus on the
> > brain alone and exclude the rest of the body. It might be argued, for
> > example, that your eyes are really just your brain sticking out the
> > front of your head. If I'm not mistaken, there is also some evidence
> > that rudimentary processing is occurring in the retina. I can't think of
> > any principled reason to say that the computational processes that
> > underlie consciousness occur only in the brain but not at all in, say,
> > the spinal column. Where subjective experience is concerned, it
> > certainly feels as if my body is conscious (toes, fingertips, etc.).
> > There's also unilateral neglect, phantom limb syndrome, synesthesia,
> > etc. which at least suggest that the body is best understood as a whole
> > as opposed to a mode of transportation for the brain. If there is
> > someone at your University who teaches Merleau-Ponty you might want to
> > take a course or an independent study. He argues (persuasively I think)
> > that notions like "intelligence" and "consciousness" belong to the body
> > as whole, and not to the brain alone (although once again, the brain is
> > clearly a very important piece of meat). With regard to Cartesian
> > dualism, Jean-Paul Sartre pointed out that the best way to unify the
> > mind and body is not to separate them in the first place. You might want
> > to consider the possibility that it would be better not to separate the
> > brain from the body if you plan to explain how they function together at
> > some later time.
> >
> > Just a thought.
> > Lew
>
>







More information about the Neur-sci mailing list