Archive for the ‘cognition/consciousness’ Category

After all, if we are merely material beings whose personality can be altered and even controlled by fairly simple technologies, is there really a there there? Is there some immutable kernel of a person that is the self, or an essence that resists change? Can brain interventions can change who we are – make us into a different person or alter personal identity?

Source: Do brain interventions to treat disease change the essence of who we are?

Gleiser begins by posing the question of whether there are fundamental limits to how much of the universe and our place in it science can explain, with a concrete focus on physical reality. Echoing cognitive scientist Alexandra Horowitz’s eye-opening exploration of why our minds miss the vast majority of what is going on around us, he writes:

What we see of the world is only a sliver of what’s “out there.” There is much that is invisible to the eye, even when we augment our sensorial perception with telescopes, microscopes, and other tools of exploration. Like our senses, every instrument has a range. Because much of Nature remains hidden from us, our view of the world is based only on the fraction of reality that we can measure and analyze. Science, as our narrative describing what we see and what we conjecture exists in the natural world, is thus necessarily limited, telling only part of the story… We strive toward knowledge, always more knowledge, but must understand that we are, and will remain, surrounded by mystery… It is the flirting with this mystery, the urge to go beyond the boundaries of the known, that feeds our creative impulse, that makes us want to know more.

via The Island of Knowledge: How to Live with Mystery in a Culture Obsessed with Certainty and Definitive Answers | Brain Pickings.

Letting go of ideas can be difficult, because of the well-established neural pathways we have constructed with them – they become part of the fabric. Recognizing that they are not fruitful or not supported is crucial to opening to new ideas.


Mindfulness – CBS News.

Stop Making Sense


Stop talking to yourself about silence
and talking to yourself about stillness.
You need not talk yourself into these states.
You need only stop talking altogether
and allow the silence and stillness
that are already always present to be undisturbed.
Begin to talk about them, woo them, try to create them,
and watch them move away.
You need not do anything to create silence; rather,
only stop with all the doing, the talking, the wooing
and silence is what’s left.
You need not try so very hard to remain still; rather,
only cease with all the movement, the effort, the chatter
and stillness is already present.
Rest within that stillness, that silence,
already here, uncreated, unadulterated,
and you may glimpse Natural Awareness:
not mere consciousness, which is always consciousness of something,
walled in by the reference points of self and other,
but Awareness—vast, undifferentiated, without reference points.
Not self, but Self, beyond all notions of self and other.
Not this, but That, beyond all ideas of this and that.
Yet, again, talk about Awareness, try to describe it
or grab hold of it, and you move away from it.
You crawl back into the safety of the cage
of the little self, with its bowls of food and water,
each bowl labeled neatly with your name and your reference points.
Only ask yourself: is it your destiny to live in this cage forever?
Do you really need these little bowls of kibble
when the vast open field of Awareness is waiting for you
just outside the door of your cage?

The view of totality, its attendant conception of reality called “Total Being,” and the understanding of the dynamic of realization—the relationship between individual practice and realization—begin to articulate the nonhierarchical view of the Diamond Approach. As we plumb the depths of our immediate experience, at some point, we can begin to uncover the underlying implications of its view. From the vantage of totality, we can discern not only the distinctness, the validity, and the experiential universe of that particular view but also the relationship of one worldview to another. Doing so unleashes the inherent freedom of reality, and reality shows its delight by leading us to other views and further mysteries. This is the upshot of uncertainty: We are loosed from the search for final meaning into a life of limitless adventure.

via Newest Book by A.H. Almaas: Runaway Realization | Science and Nonduality.

The fact is we all suffer from cognitive egocentrism. We all seem to intuitively assume that we have won what I call the ‘Magical Belief Lottery.’ We cherry pick confirming evidence and utterly overlook disconfirming evidence. We automatically assume that our sources are more reliable than the sources cited by others. We think we are more intelligent than we in fact are. We rewrite memories to minimize the threat of inconsistencies. We mistake claims repeated three or more times as fact. We continually revise our beliefs to preempt in-group criticism. We regularly confabulate. We congenitally use our conclusions to determine the cogency of our premises. The list goes on and on, believe you me. Add to this the problem of Interpretative Underdetermination, the simple fact that our three pound brains are so dreadfully overmatched by the complexities of the world…

via The Semantic Apocalypse | Speculative Heresy.

lw: Recognition of the Human Condition.

Consciousness, biology and quantum hypotheses. [Phys Life Rev. 2012] – PubMed – NCBI.

Conscious cognition is therefore a distinct kind of brain event. Many of its features are well established, and must be accounted for by any adequate theory. No non-biological examples are known. Penrose and Hameroff have proposed that consciousness may be viewed as a fundamental problem in quantum physics. Specifically, their ‘orchestrated objective reduction’ (Orch-OR) hypothesis posits that conscious states arise from quantum computations in the microtubules of neurons. However, a number of microtubule-associated proteins are found in both plant and animal cells (like neurons) and plants are not generally considered to be conscious. Current quantum-level proposals do not explain the prominent empirical features of consciousness. Notably, they do not distinguish between closely matched conscious and unconscious brain events, as cognitive-biological theories must. About half of the human brain does not support conscious contents directly, yet neurons in these “unconscious” brain regions contain large numbers of microtubules. QM phenomena are famously observer-dependent, but to the best of our knowledge it has not been shown that they require a conscious observer, as opposed to a particle detector. Conscious humans cannot detect quantum events “as such” without the aid of special instrumentation. Instead, we categorize the wavelengths of light into conscious sensory events that neglect their quantum mechanical properties. In science the burden of proof is on the proposer, and this burden has not yet been met by quantum-level proposals. While in the future we may discover quantum effects that bear distinctively on conscious cognition ‘as such,’ we do not have such evidence today.”

Immersive journalism: What if you could experience a news event in 3D by using an Oculus Rift?by Mathew Ingram AUG. 21, 2014 – 3:16 PM PDT 4 CommentsA Aphoto: Oculus RiftSUMMARY:Journalist and documentary film-maker Nonny de la Pena is using the three-dimensional virtual world technology behind the Oculus Rift headset to create immersive journalistic experiences based on major news events

via Immersive journalism: What if you could experience a news event in 3D by using an Oculus Rift? — Tech News and Analysis.

In Intuition Pumps and Other Tools for Thinking (public library) — the same fantastic volume that gave us Dennett on the dignity and art-science of making mistakes — he offers what he calls “the best antidote [for the] tendency to caricature one’s opponent”: a list of rules formulated decades ago by the legendary social psychologist and game theorist Anatol Rapoport, best-known for originating the famous tit-of-tat strategy of game theory. Dennett synthesizes the steps:

How to compose a successful critical commentary:

You should attempt to re-express your target’s position so clearly, vividly, and fairly that your target says, “Thanks, I wish I’d thought of putting it that way.

You should list any points of agreement (especially if they are not matters of general or widespread agreement).

You should mention anything you have learned from your target.

Only then are you permitted to say so much as a word of rebuttal or criticism.

via How to Criticize with Kindness: Philosopher Daniel Dennett on the Four Steps to Arguing Intelligently | Brain Pickings.