Consciousness: A Symptom of the Soul?

Discussion in 'Belief and Spirituality' started by Neemai, Jul 13, 2007.

  1. Ciel

    Ciel in essence

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    I found myself in a queue of traffic held up by a lone rambling sheep today.

    Neemai, fellow meditator, the car anomaly is a good one. The meditation aspect is when we move in the connected higher space of silence, soul as higher soul consciousness, by whatever name. And then there is also the ocean of many souls we connect through as consciousness more varied in the day to day.......

    This is like driving a new hybrid car, the silent electric and the extra power when needed of the gasoline.
    Awareness as the constant in smooth running of both.

    - c -
     
  2. Thomas

    Thomas Administrator Admin

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    Can I throw some thoughts in?

    Descartes said "I think therefore I am", and this seemed to establish the priority of thought with regard to human nature as a whole.

    Continental phenomenologists have revised that, and notably Paul Ricoeur reversed it: "I am, and I am a being which thinks" which makes thought, or thinking, a process subsequent to being.

    In the Western philosophical traditions the idea of the 'soul' is tied in with the ontology of being, it is the 'ground' (hypostasis) of the 'person', if we take Boethius' definition: "An individual substance of a rational nature".

    What we have to distinguish is, if the soul signifies 'an individual substance of a rational nature' — do we have any reason top suppose 'a collective substance of a rational nature' as some posit by the idea of higher mind, etc. But this assumes (I might be wrong, writing as it comes) that mind is higher than soul, which is a Cartesian view, and one which I think has been shown inadequate?

    If I were to speculate:
    I would say in agreement with Ciel, although I would understand why Ciel might not agree with me, that the collective is something through the simple fact of being that we contribute to, but is not something we derive our being from — although we can draw beneficially from it: objectively, as a pool of experience, and subjectively, as a pool of being — and this might well lie within the realm of what some consider (or qualify) 'religious experience', especially when certain orders of experiences seem to be held in common?

    Thomas
     
  3. seattlegal

    seattlegal Mercuræn Buddhist

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    My speculation: I would posit that mind is mutable and movable, not necessarily having a set place. (Some people are said to have 'narrow minds,' many people are said to 'change their mind,' some are said to have an open mind, others are said to have a closed mind, and the Zen favorite: the mind moves.) Therefore to say that it is higher than the soul would not necessarily be true. {It might be for a moment or longer, or it may rarely venture there.} To say that its operation might be analogous to the Uncertainty Principle (not being able to determine both the position and the speed of an electron) might be more appropriate, imo.
     
  4. Ciel

    Ciel in essence

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    Dear Thomas,

    Today on this post I am in agreement with you. :)

    How is the weather in London, here it rains with a soulfull quality of yearning.......do you ever feel you experience the exterior pool of being as a whole, so many souls in the pool, yet sometimes all accumulate as one voice.
    Might you understand if I say for many years I have lived in the experience of empty mind, though true it is often full to overflowing with a space of it's own connection. And daring to look back I am aware I have travelled a different path to linear time. When I knew myself to be, I was also not, and yet I was, and I am.
    Therefore I think therefore I am......... I wonder. The path of the mystic is not an easy one to relate. At present I feel as though a crysalis, so many changes cousin caterpiller. I wonder if it all would still have happened if I hadn't met "those people", but thats another story........... and knowing if we should forget destiny, it does not forget the destined, yet I would dream to now create my own.

    - c -
     
  5. Thomas

    Thomas Administrator Admin

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    Seattlegal —

    In Christian doctrine we have 'metanoia' — 'to put on a new mind' — commonly translated as 'to change one's mind' but the change is far more profound, more like a transformation of the person.

    +++

    Ciel —

    Thank you. I shall consider and contemplate what you have posted. There are echoes, congruences ... but I don't want to rush to put words down ...

    The weather here is changeable, and for a Brit, that's saying something. We are experiencing some extraordinary, short-lived and localised phenemena across the country.

    I have recounted a certain epiphanic experience of my own on this board before, which I think is relevant in many respects to our discussion ... and some of your post calls to mind aspects of the Word — verbum — that renders the term of a different order than its Greek correlate, logos.

    And in that context verbum and vocation...

    Pax vobiscum...

    Thomas
     
  6. Ciel

    Ciel in essence

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    Thomas, thank you.

    Weather and atmospheric phenomenon....... It now feels as though the world is standing in silent stillness.

    I and i'm sure others would be interested to read of your epiphanic experience, can you send a link.

    pax - c -
     
  7. Thomas

    Thomas Administrator Admin

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    Hi Ciel —

    Only now realised you are in Oxfordshire? I was sitting in the garden just now, very still. The only sound was the sudden appearance of a hedgehog, scuttling across the grass.

    Re my experience. I have posted it here before (but can't fgure the links to other threads), so I shall repeat, if I may.

    Mass is finished and I'm sitting in the pew as the church empties. St Dominic's is big and old, timber and stone. Just sitting, when I'm suddenly aware of a tremendous feeling of warmth. But this is an internal warmth, not external, and for a few moments I was utterly bemused by the sensation. Then I looked round to see where it was coming from.

    St Dominic's has a fair bit of statuary ... and as I looked, every statue was pulsing with warmth and life ... I could see they were stone still, yet beneath the stone surface I could see the colour of the flesh, I can see the blood flowing in the veins beneath the skin ... there's a statue of The Sacred Heart, St Dominic, St Thomas, St Catherine ... they were all the same, and as I recall, they were all cold stone, and they were all, simultaneously, very much alive ... they were the source of the warmth which fills me.

    Along with this was the most tremendous sensation of ... home ... of being where I belong, and not only that I belong to 'it', but that 'it' belongs to me. The feeling was that if the Pope and the College of Cardinals had turned up there and then and ordered me out of the building, my answer would have been "Don't be silly. I live here."

    Their blood runs in my veins ...

    And then it passed. I sat for a few minutes more, and then I went home.

    +++

    Thomas
     
  8. Ciel

    Ciel in essence

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    Thomas,

    Yes, the warm feeling I also feel and know as the love of the Divine.

    Interesting the accompaniment of the phenomenon of the life of the statues, and here in checking the spelling of the accompaniment word I find the perfect descriptive - of a supporting orchestra. For many are the musicians in these realms always willing to play. Though a beautiful thing indeed when the Divine and the musicians play as one.

    - c -
     
  9. Thomas

    Thomas Administrator Admin

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    Hello Ciel
    That is what Tradition means to me.

    Goodnight, God bless,

    Thomas
     
  10. sag2008

    sag2008 New Member

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    :cool:hello' beuatiful saying. I can comprehend but not speak about what you just said. is that my sub consciousness speaking or is there a light to be shown to comprehend both worlds
     
  11. DrFree

    DrFree In Pluribus Unum

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    Neemai, I think it is inaccurate to say that consciousness is necessary for the animation of the body. I suspect that consciousness emerged fairly high up the animate trunk of life.

    Consciousness is not necessary for life. Plants do quite well without it (at least in a form we probably all agree we're familiar with). Bacteria and viruses are almost certainly not conscious, any more than a calculator is conscious.

    Doug Hofstadter, in his excellent book I Am a Strange Loop, doubts that mosquitoes are conscious. I'm not sure.

    I think that for a clue to what consciousness is, we need to meditate on Dumbledore's remark to Harry that it is not our capabilities that make us what we are, but our choices.

    Whatever consciousness is, whatever choice is, they go together.

    Bacteria and mosquitoes react to their environment. They behave in certain predictable, and sometimes deadly ways when confronted with certain situations. But they don't choose that behavior any more than a calculator "chooses" to display 4 when you enter 2, plus and 2.

    In order to survive animals have to procreate, sustain themselves, and avoid threats. Plants and lower animals have to do the same of course, but their fitness for survival seems to depend entirely on statistical probabilities. Individual plants "lucky" enough that their seeds fall on fertile soil that doesn't lie in the path of a migrating dinosaur herd or wildfire will have descendants; those that don't won't.

    Animals of higher orders (and where the line is between higher and lower is certainly a matter of debate) choose because they have as individuals a measure of control of their individual fate and that of their descendants (i.e., whether they have any). If eating, breeding, fighting and fleeing were unrelated activities that normally had no effect on one another, they could have been managed by simple, unconscious reflex mechanisms. But they are not. The environmental and internal factors that determine the probable impact of those behaviors on survival are complex and subtle. Nature never discovered a working algorithm for simple reflex action governing all of those behaviors in complex animals. Instead nature gave higher animals the power to choose whether to eat, breed, fight or flee. Those that chose well survived more than those that didn't. Millennia of evolution refined that capability in some animals to the ability to choose between an iPod and a Trea.

    In order to choose well, animals needed an integrated model of everything they could learn about all the factors affecting their choices. Consciousness is that model. It is by consciousness that an animal is aware that an object in its field of vision is at one and the same time a potential food source, a potential competitor for a food source, a potential mate, and a potential threat. Only by recognizing that one and the same object is in the condition-set for many different behaviors can the animal learn to decide among those behaviors.

    The above evolutionary explanation of consciousness only explains why animals, and by extension people, are conscious. If by "soul" you mean to imply something "inside" the animal or "inside" the person, this argument will not help.

    Conscious behavior, is just that: behavior. It is process, not thing. And the participants in that process involve not just the brain but every part of the body.

    Indeed, I think the dichotomy between body and mind or between body and soul is a false one. The body is not mere inert matter to be acted upon by mind; some bodies (yours and mine, certainly) are active and conscious. Minds and souls are not pure spirit, but the activity of bodies that have evolved in the right way.

    Moreover, I think there's very good reason to believe that the way my mind (soul) works is very closely tuned to the detail of the way my body works. Without my body, I wouldn't be me.

    Namiste.
     
  12. Neemai

    Neemai that's my Boss in the pic

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    You suspect, but with all respect, you do not know.

    Plants do without it? Watch a video of plants on fast-forward, and then ask yourself again, if they are conscious or not? Even a bacteria makes descisions to go either this way or that way.

    This modern theory of reducing all living beings into no more than biological computers says more about our current technology than it does about any reality of existence from what I can see. It's pure speculation.

    "As the embodied soul continuously passes, in this body, from boyhood to youth to old age, the soul similarly passes into another body at death. A sober person is not bewildered by such a change."


    ... Neemai :)
     
  13. Eudaimonist

    Eudaimonist In Galt We Trust

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    I've seen this. My answer is "no, plants aren't conscious". The mechanism for the motion I think you mean is well-known to biologists, and doesn't seem to involve any serious contemplation on the part of the plant.

    What makes you think those are "decisions" in the normally accepted sense?


    eudaimonia,

    Mark
     
  14. Neemai

    Neemai that's my Boss in the pic

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    Hi Eudaimonist,

    In reply:

    We also have mechanisms for motion, so I wouldn't say that this is a criteria for one not being conscious?

    Plants and trees react to their surroundings, especially light. They must feel light and temperature in a similar way as we also do. They grow and move towards light. Some plants even catch and eat insects. If we are saying these are all automatic responses, then really what we are saying is that we also are nothing more than a more complicated set of automatic responses -because the same biological arguments also apply to our bodies. This is a theory which I personally do not subscribe to.

    Of course, I'm not saying that plants 'think things over' in our human sense of the word, but simply that some consciousness exists within them - it's what makes them alive!

    Even very simple bacteria hunt for food, avoid predators, and perform some form of sex or reproduction, in some cases involving the process of finding a mate. So, we also do all these things, so how can we say conclusively that the bacteria does it all "automatically", but yet that we do it "consciously"? Surely it involves some consciousness on their part.

    In a nutshell: "you don't have to be clever to be conscious, but it helps." ;)

    Best wishes,

    ... Neemai :)
     
  15. seattlegal

    seattlegal Mercuræn Buddhist

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    Has anyone investigated Clive Backster's work?
     
  16. flowperson

    flowperson Oannes

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  17. cyberpi

    cyberpi Interfaith Forums

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    Interesting variation of the 'burning bush'.
     
  18. seattlegal

    seattlegal Mercuræn Buddhist

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    Hehehe! :D
     

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