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Old 05-02-2017, 11:44 AM
 
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Consciousness has been attempted to be defined by many, starting with the dualistic meme of Descartes, "I think therefore I am" to Sam Harris who does not see a higher state from a dualism perspective at all. So, where on this continuum does a "higher level of consciousness" fall?

Is it something that evolves solely through meditation (which Harris and Tolle endorse), do psychotropic drugs unlock some of it, or is it something completely different? What does "a higher level of consciousness" mean?

I'd be interested in discussions on that question, as there is enough problems with agreement on what consciousnesses itself even is. Most of us agree that humans have a higher level than a mouse, but what about going down the evolutionary time scale. What about an octopus? A fish? A shrimp? Is there a collective consciousness when one sees a murmur of birds? What about bacteria? Or a plant? Does every biological organism have some level of consciousness? I would suspect not, but when does it dim?
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Old 05-02-2017, 11:57 AM
 
Location: So. Cal.
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Higher consciousness has been traditionally explained as ideas of virtue, goodness, altruism, harmlessness etc. Meditation on them or in the direction of them is good, drugs not so. But actions that reflect or try to embody those higher values will also clarify that higher awareness.
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Old 05-02-2017, 05:13 PM
 
Location: Whittier
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I don't think you can't not define consciousness before you get to a "higher level." There has to be a base definition.

And although I know Sam Harris is hot right now, I don't necessarily think he's at the forefront philosophically to address these questions. David Chalmers, Paul Churchland and John Searle have been doing this work and the notion of Qualia specifically is very interesting.

https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/mind-identity/

There's the "pop" version of consciousness, and in a sense being "woke," then there's actual philosophical consiousness which is neutral.

You can be reductionist and state that it's ONLY neurons firing, OR you can suggest that there is a "source" of energy external to us that all living creatures draw from. I think the truth is somewhere in the middle.
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Old 05-02-2017, 05:23 PM
 
Location: So. Cal.
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harhar:
Quote:
I don't think you can't not define consciousness before you get to a "higher level." There has to be a base definition
.

That may be part of the problem, the assumption that all 'levels' fit into the same definition.
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Old 05-02-2017, 06:15 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by harhar View Post
I don't think you can't not define consciousness before you get to a "higher level." There has to be a base definition.
I'd love to have a base definition, but minds much greater than mine have struggled with this for centuries. Does it precede and is a determinant of action, or is it reflective of action and simply an epiphenomenon? As I suggested in the OP, there is some reason to believe that consciousness itself is part of the evolutionary process, and that even some primitive animals possess some degree of consciousnesses. Certainly they can recognize 'self' from 'others', just as we can recognize our self in a crowd if facing a mirror.

Do neonates have consciousness? When does that first develop?


Quote:
......
You can be reductionist and state that it's ONLY neurons firing, OR you can suggest that there is a "source" of energy external to us that all living creatures draw from. I think the truth is somewhere in the middle.
By postulating that the answer is in the middle, does that intimate that there could be an external 'source'? That would imply consciousness doesn't necessarily require a biological entity to exist.
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Old 05-02-2017, 06:47 PM
 
24,562 posts, read 7,584,787 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dillionmt View Post
Consciousness has been attempted to be defined by many, starting with the dualistic meme of Descartes, "I think therefore I am" to Sam Harris who does not see a higher state from a dualism perspective at all. So, where on this continuum does a "higher level of consciousness" fall?

Is it something that evolves solely through meditation (which Harris and Tolle endorse), do psychotropic drugs unlock some of it, or is it something completely different? What does "a higher level of consciousness" mean?

I'd be interested in discussions on that question, as there is enough problems with agreement on what consciousnesses itself even is. Most of us agree that humans have a higher level than a mouse, but what about going down the evolutionary time scale. What about an octopus? A fish? A shrimp? Is there a collective consciousness when one sees a murmur of birds? What about bacteria? Or a plant? Does every biological organism have some level of consciousness? I would suspect not, but when does it dim?
Higher state to me is understanding. Some people can list facts but really they don't know what its saying.

or

Higher state would be more types of interactions involved. Like a brain in an ecosystem kind of thing.

many people just do not understand that an unknown complexity in a volume is telling us something more than we can see. That doesn't mean we can just make stuff up, but it is telling.
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Old 05-02-2017, 10:51 PM
 
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Actually, it's

dubito, ergo cogito, ergo sum. That's quite different, isn't it?

The purpose of universe is to allow a unit of nature to progress, through various, ever more complex, experiences, to the state of Consciousness.


There is nothing after. Consciousness is ultimate.

You may be referring to various states of mind but, transcending mind is paramount to any spiritual teaching or, technically, religion.
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Old 05-02-2017, 10:55 PM
 
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OP, not evolution. Progression. Development. Now is in constant state of progression. In constant state of creating. Perfecting perfect.
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Old 05-03-2017, 08:09 AM
 
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Originally Posted by ukrkoz View Post
OP, not evolution. Progression. Development. Now is in constant state of progression. In constant state of creating. Perfecting perfect.
So do you concur that consciousness does exist in lower life forms? When does it stop? When does it start in the neonate?
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Old 05-03-2017, 09:56 AM
 
Location: Whittier
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Originally Posted by dillionmt View Post


By postulating that the answer is in the middle, does that intimate that there could be an external 'source'? That would imply consciousness doesn't necessarily require a biological entity to exist.
For a base of consciousness (and the sake of discussion) you don't have to have THE answer just a solid assumption to start. That's all I was saying. I know these are very hard questions.

As for your second question, correct. Or at least that's a possibility in my mind. And I think our lack of understanding of the higher forms of physics only muddies the waters.

Now I don't necessarily think that there's a Cartesian pituitary gland that is channeling a "source" or "God" into us, but rather there is some sort of common consciousness that we are all drawing from. And it can be mechanically biological, but I don't think we can rule out an outside source.

Now to really try to address your main question, what is higher consciousness?

So you have given examples of organisms to animals to humans. I would simply classify levels of consciousness between these things by the level of self-awareness, autonomy and freedom from their biological drives. Seeing one's self in the world as an independent agent.

Higher level consciousness therefore would seem to be relative to the organism being discussed. Certain animals, like dolphins or primates that can use tools seem at the very least smarter than other similar animals.

Biologically or at least in the chain of animals you have varying levels of non-consciousness to low-level, and then what I would call "full" consciousness. And usually if not always, that's reserved for humans.

Now we can argue how conscious the majority of humans on earth are; there are degrees of this as well. As I mentioned this in some cases could be referred to as "woke." They can be less conscious because they are literally unconscious, because they aren't able to be fully conscious because of societal constraints, financial constraints, etc.

Then there are those who question and ask questions such as these. Then there are people who take action to reach levels of higher consciousness.

As you mentioned, some people meditate, some take drugs like DMT. I have become fascinated with DMT only because of the similar shared experiences that people seem to have. After a high dose trip people "breakthrough" to the other side effectively signifying "ego death" (not unlike Buddhist teachings), where it feels like the sense of self is obliterated; like you've have died and crossed over. When some people come back it changes them so much that the decide to actually take up an ascetic's life and decide to live in a monastery.

Now the "natural" way of doing this is through mediation or prayer. The common theme, through most religions is the denial of the self in deference to a larger power.

One could argue that devoting one's life to the study of science is also along the same themes, however this understanding is more concrete; more about the external world and not about introspection or other themes like morality.

So then we could have a higher moral consciousness or higher consciousness about the external world. However both are active and in most cases are denials of the self.

Higher consciousness seems to include the denial of the self, yet we still need the self to act as a conduit to reach that higher level (again assuming there's a source). Even if there is no source, it is still in a sense, a paradox.

---

So what do I believe? Well, that there is a higher level of being "awake" for each of us. One could suggest that it is relative to your station in life and that it should be the goal to be more conscious about yourself and the world.

I've subscribed to an existential lifestyle insofar as being authentic to myself in lieu of society and that's not to say I'm an martyr or outcast, but always strive to be "on edge" in finding truths; challenging myself when I'm comfortable, etc. Trying to find a balance in the Western world of keeping my ego in check while also respecting the Other in all forms.

Sorry for the long post. My focus in school was Epistemology and not Metaphysics so either way I'm a bit rusty.
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