Language and The Development of Consciousness

  1. hej

    hej Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2017
    Messages:
    129
    Location:
    Stonigsthwaighte
    The sense of hearing emerged from that of vision. Thus, when you hear a flute, you see (without truly seeing) what produced the sound. Sound embeds itself in vision. One of the most frightening senses comes from hearing what one can not be understood as seen -- often vocalized as 'what was that?!'

    Sound, the movement of air in waves, exists without its perception. How sound is perceived has to do with the senses (or lack thereof) available.
     
  2. hej

    hej Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2017
    Messages:
    129
    Location:
    Stonigsthwaighte
    Your question reminds me of when, as a child, my mother held up my pet hamster to a mirror. It showed no noticeable reaction. But. A lack of self-awareness does not eliminate its being aware -- or conscious. It noticed food, water, petting, etc. Thus, is was clearly conscious.
     
  3. Brian G Turner

    Brian G Turner He's a very naughty boy! Staff Member

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2002
    Messages:
    20,022
    Location:
    Highlands
    It's a potentially flawed test anyway, as it focuses only on the visual experience - which favours a visual-centric species like humans.

    Going back to the original post:

    This is very much a question that psychology has looked at: Consciousness and Language
     
  4. hej

    hej Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2017
    Messages:
    129
    Location:
    Stonigsthwaighte
    The test with the hamster was one of visual self-awareness. The hamster certainly was visually aware, as it could react to cues depending on where I was. (Some but not all of those cues could have been smell or hearing, but those senses, too, show consciousness.)

    As for psychology, the field lacks the intellectual tools to isolate consciousness. Psychology does not include quantum mechanics, yet a particle such as the humble electron is well aware of where it is in regard to the nucleus. It is conscious of the attractiveness -- and the repulsiveness -- of the proton. Schroedinger's equation will say how (for hydrogen - and no other element), but not why. Science can not ask, let alone answer, 'why.'

    Consciousness is too simple for a sophisticated thinker, such as a psychologist, to understand.

    Moreover, that an electron is conscious is, I admit, absurd.
     
  5. Brian G Turner

    Brian G Turner He's a very naughty boy! Staff Member

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2002
    Messages:
    20,022
    Location:
    Highlands
    Indeed, but hamsters have very poor eyesight, and almost certainly do not define any sense of self according to how they look. :)

    Perhaps not - but you're throwing around scientific terms without showing any real understanding of what those terms mean and represent. Which will inevitably confuse anyone with any understanding of those terms.
     
  6. hej

    hej Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2017
    Messages:
    129
    Location:
    Stonigsthwaighte
    I'd like to offer clarification and understanding, but I am not really sure how to do so. I will try.

    The electron, a fundamental particle carrying a negative elementary charge, typically resides in an orbital around a nucleus. In hydrogen, this orbital is called s and the nucleus consists of a proton (made up of two up quarks and a down quark) carrying a positive elementary charge. As positive attracts negative, and vice-versa, the electron and proton attract each other. Yet. They do not crash into each other. The electron is aware of the proton to such a degree that it resides in a defined region of space, in hydrogen in its unexcited state, the s orbital. By staying in that orbital -- and only there -- the electron is demonstrating its consciousness of the proton. The same reasoning applies to the proton and its behavior.
     
  7. Vertigo

    Vertigo Mad Mountain Man

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2010
    Messages:
    6,799
    Location:
    Scottish Highlands
    But by that same reasoning the Moon and the Earth must be aware of each other since there is a (gravitational) attraction between them yet they don't collide. Rather than the real reason which is the simple orbital dynamics as determined by Newton rather a long time ago.
     
  8. hej

    hej Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2017
    Messages:
    129
    Location:
    Stonigsthwaighte
    Why must the 'real reason' exclude awareness?
     
  9. Brian G Turner

    Brian G Turner He's a very naughty boy! Staff Member

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2002
    Messages:
    20,022
    Location:
    Highlands
    Possibly because we struggle to properly describe terms such as "awareness" and "consciousness" adequately for dealing with humans, let alone other forms of life. Heck, we struggle to scientifically define what is actually "alive" and what is not. :)

    Hence applying those terms outside of normal usage is likely to cause confusion and misunderstanding. :)
     
  10. hej

    hej Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2017
    Messages:
    129
    Location:
    Stonigsthwaighte
    The last line gave me a belly laugh!
     
  11. Vertigo

    Vertigo Mad Mountain Man

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2010
    Messages:
    6,799
    Location:
    Scottish Highlands
    Because it's not needed, the orbital dynamics takes care of it perfectly well, and neither the Earth or the Moon (or electrons or protons) have any means of motive power so, even if aware they couldn't affect their orbits anyway.
     
  12. hej

    hej Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2017
    Messages:
    129
    Location:
    Stonigsthwaighte
    It's 'not needed' does not mean it does not apply.

    Why must awareness require motive power beyond that which allows for obeying the laws of the universe?

    And why is obeying the laws of the universe not demonstrating awareness?
     
  13. Brian G Turner

    Brian G Turner He's a very naughty boy! Staff Member

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2002
    Messages:
    20,022
    Location:
    Highlands
    Because definitions of awareness might include the ability to selectively react to stimuli. What you're saying that the inability to react to stimuli is in fact a consequence of awareness, which seems to be a non sequitur.
     
  14. Vertigo

    Vertigo Mad Mountain Man

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2010
    Messages:
    6,799
    Location:
    Scottish Highlands
    As @Brian G Turner says, but also I wasn't saying that 'awareness' needs motive power but that the electron needs motive power to affect its situation. You are saying that the electrons know not to crash into the protons which, at the very least, is suggesting that it somehow can affect its motion so that said crash doesn't happen. And, if it can't do that, there is no meaning to the suggestion that it is conscious beyond just a simple belief; if it has no motive power then its hypothetical consciousness can have no effect on its situation, including not crashing into any protons.
     
  15. Justin Swanton

    Justin Swanton Loving the view from up here.

    Joined:
    Aug 18, 2015
    Messages:
    210
    Location:
    Durban, South Africa
    I'm diving into this late...perhaps better if I didn't, anyhow...

    Consciousness for an animal is an ability to receive and react to stimuli, in the case of that hamster, the stimuli that concern and hence interest it.

    Consciousness for a human is the ability to grasp the nature of things. That ability deals with abstractions, i.e. the immaterial forms of objects that the human mind abstracts from the sensory perceptions it has of those objects. This goes hand in hand with an ability to react to stimuli as animals do, since humans are animals - with an intellectual component. The result of the abstractive process is an idea. We wander in a forest, look at the green and brown objects around us, and abstract the idea of a tree. These objects have something in common. They are all trees (the fact that there is an immaterial component to things, perceived only by the intelligence, should tell you something about those things). The word 'conscious' is a giveaway. It comes the Latin: cum-scire, 'know-with': form in one's mind a concept that unites the mind to the object in which that concept exists as its nature (BTW 'concept' comes from Latin cum-capere - cepi in the perfect tense - 'To be taken with'. Get it?).

    Animals can't do this. Their 'knowledge' consists of memories built up from experience which work on their preprogrammed instincts. A tortoise can remember that strawberries are tasty and start salivating when it sees them, but it cannot form the abstract idea that eating healthy food is a good thing to do.

    At birth a human has no ideas. He forms them by observing things around him and gradually abstracting their natures. Basic ideas are compared and more complete ideas are formed from them.

    Words are verbal symbols for these ideas (every single word is the expression of an abstraction). We speak to communicate to others the ideas we have abstracted, and the language that communicates those ideas also clarifies, orders and refines them. Language is a help to thinking but not indispensable to it.
     
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2017
  16. hej

    hej Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2017
    Messages:
    129
    Location:
    Stonigsthwaighte
    My explanation is incomplete, then.

    The humble electron can indeed react to stimuli, as it does in flows (electricity), in plasma, and in neutron stars.
     
  17. hej

    hej Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2017
    Messages:
    129
    Location:
    Stonigsthwaighte
    Mine is not a simple belief. The electron shall not crash into the proton -- whether the electron be in an atom, or in the crust of a neutron star. The electron knows where the proton is -- and acts accordingly.

    We can agree to disagree, I hope. ;)
     
  18. hej

    hej Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2017
    Messages:
    129
    Location:
    Stonigsthwaighte
    Consciousness, like language, manifests itself with different complexities.

    I am saying that consciousness is far simpler than most of us imagine.
     
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2017
  19. LordOfWizards

    LordOfWizards Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2016
    Messages:
    222
    Location:
    Middle Earth
    So getting back to this.

    Of course consciousness is possible without language. I am basing this on my own experience, but I believe the experience could be shown to be common among humans. It seems as if many of us on this thread are discussing various levels of consciousness, i.e. Animal versus human and so on. I posit that humans think in pictures, and sometimes in a representational symbology. Letters and the mapping of written words to speech itself are really shapes with meaning. So when we think in words, we are thinking in shapes we have memorized. Evidence of Human language goes back roughly 40 or 50 thousand years, and we know that Hominids were social and even "ritualistic" long before that. So here's a question I haven't seen in the thread: Are we conscious when we dream? I don't remember any discussions I've had inside my dreams (I'm not suggesting it never happens), but it seems as if we dream in pictures and meanings, not in words, at least for the most part. Any thoughts? (that wasn't meant to be a joke, but it kind of came out that way). :D
     
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2017
    hej likes this.
  20. hej

    hej Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2017
    Messages:
    129
    Location:
    Stonigsthwaighte
    I beg your pardon.

    I did not address the nature of 'selectively.' The electron shows this when it undergoes electron capture -- or beta emission.
     
Loading...

Share This Page

Loading...