The Theater of Reflective, Deliberative Consciousness

In Orwell's Animal Farm, the ruling pigs famously change their slogan "All animals are equal" to "All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others."

Panpsychism accounts for the human experience of consciousness in a similar way: "All entities are aware, but some are more aware than others."

Or, just as much to the point: some are differently aware than others.

Every entity in the universe -- every pattern -- has some awareness, but each pattern manifests its awareness differently depending on its nature.

Our reflective, deliberative "theater of consciousness" is the way that primal awareness manifests itself in one part of our mind/brain.

As Bernard Baars has articulated nicely in his cognitive science work, this theater of consciousness integrates all the kinds of memory and processing that our minds do -- it's the "place" where "it all comes together." (I surround "place" with quotes because in the case of the human brain it's not a physical location -- it's an emergent dynamical pattern involving multiple regions, and different ones in different cases.)

According to panpsychism, the "unconscious" parts of your mind/brain are in fact "conscious" in their own ways -- but their own less-intense consciousness is only loosely coupled with that of your theater of reflective, deliberative consciousness.

Various practices such as meditation or psychedelic drug use may increase this coupling, so that the reflective, deliberative consciousness can become more closely coupled with the consciousness of the other parts of the mind/brain that normally appear to it as "unconscious."

None of this however should be taken to deny the specialness of the theater of reflective, deliberative consciousness. It's a wonderful phenomenon -- it's definitively, gloriously different than what takes place in rocks, atoms, molecules, clouds or even lizards. Puzzling out its structure and dynamics is an important task on which cognitive neuroscience is gradually making headway.

But, what makes this aspect of our minds special is not that it's the unique receptacle or source of awareness (it isn't ... nothing is).



The Theater of Reflective, Deliberative Consciousness as a Purposeful Iconoclast

Part of what characterizes the theater of reflective, deliberative consciousness is the special effort it makes to decouple itself from the unconscious. To an extent, it cuts itself off from perceiving the awareness of the other parts of the mind/brain, so it can carry out processing using processes that ignore these other parts.

The reflective/deliberative consciousness wants to gather some information from the unconscious, and then process it in an isolated way, because that way it can carry out special processes that wouldn't work otherwise.

Reflective/deliberative consciousness works in part by making near-exhaustive intercombinations of the small number of things in its focus at any given time. It couldn't do this if it opened up its scope too much, due to the limited amount of resources at its disposal.

So we have a very important theme here: limitation of resources is causing a system (the reflective/deliberative consciousness) to increase its degree of separateness, so as to enable it to achieve some goals better within the resources at its disposal. But these goals themselves have to do with persisting separateness (in this case the separateness of the organism associated with the mind containing the reflective/deliberative consciousness). Separateness spawns more separateness.

Separateness often makes things more interesting ... and often also less joyful ... a general theme to which I will return later.


5 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. "According to panpsychism, the "unconscious" parts of your mind/brain are in fact "conscious" in their own ways -- but their own less-intense consciousness is only loosely coupled with that of your theater of reflective, deliberative consciousness."

    What if the parts of our mind that we are not conscious of experience qualia that equal or even surpass the richness of the qualia experienced by the self-aware part of our mind? May there even be several self-aware qualia processes running in our brain at the same time, not aware of each other? Something like that seems plausible to me at least when it comes to split-brain patients. I've also read about a theory that hypothesizes that when we dream, all the characters in our dreams have their own subjective selves, not only the one we remember experiencing in the dream, but I guess there is no way of testing that yet. Still, the question remains whether there is only room for one self inside our brains at any one time. Sometimes it seems very likely to me that at least my limbic brain has a literal mind of its own and probably experiences a whole iceberg of emotions of which only the tip is available to 'me'. I'm currently reading an extremely interesting book about the nature of consciousness which mainly deals with the issue of personal identity and selves. I intend to contact you and hopefully several other 'professional' thinkers about it once I've finished it. If my current intuition about the issue of consciousness is proven to be right (something I need to verify by finishing reading the book) then I think the changes awaiting us might be even more drastic than that which is predicted by the singularitarians.

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  3. nothing is axiomatic.
    That's my first axiom.

    Nothing,
    from there derivations take place.

    :D

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  4. "Every entity in the universe -- every pattern -- has some awareness, but each pattern manifests its awareness differently depending on its nature."

    I notice that this proposition (assumption/axiom) is now stated unequivocally, with no preceding, "IF."

    This does not seem consistent with "taking nothing as axiomatic and accepting all ideas, beliefs and habits as open to revision based on thought, dialogue and experience" as stated in the first section, "What is Cosmism."

    G.

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  5. For safety purposes, high visibility colors and reflective stripes are going to make you far more visible.Safety vest

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