Scribbled by Bharath C On May 08, 2016 1 Thoughts have been Sprinkled!, Your Take?
Throughout the universe, can complex intelligence and consciousness only manifest itself via chemistry and brain, or is it possible for forms of life and intelligence to evolve in other ways, such as in the form of plasma within or on the surface of stars or even as a form of wave?
Strangely, this question relates to the concept of free will.
If you believe free will is an illusion then consciousness already exists all around us while we refuse to grant it validity. Allow me to explain.
First, lets presume consciousness has no magical property about it. Then it is data processing and usually cyclical. A data storage and retrieval system can have almost infinite forms. With the right interpreter, the locations and nature of the objects in your house could represent a complex data storage system holding vastly more information than is immediately apparent.
If we then notice that ideas themselves (sets of correlated data) behave like organisms in that they reproduce, mutate, and compete then it is easy to conceive of the idea of intellect emerging spontaneously. In fact if we ascribe the rational mechanistic view of the universe proposed by science, we must accept that consciousness is an inevitable consequence of complex physical system and will spontaneously emerge under competitive pressures, which are ubiquitous.
So why do I mention free will? The question that must be asked is if humans actually have free will or not. If we believe in the butterfly effect of chaos theory then every thought we have and every action we take is the inevitable consequence of a hyper-complex system of cause and effect.
At this point we have an argument of a random variable from indeterminacy but regardless of what set of pips the "die" lands on, there is still, unequivocally a causal chain that leads to thought and action. (filtered through genes and memes) It is our hubris alone that says that we made a decision.
We are forced to accept that free will is an illusion if we believe in a non-magical universe or if we insist upon free will must accept that we believe in magic.
For instance, I feel I choose to drive go to work in the morning but a butterfly flaps its wing in Japan and a subsequent rainstorm causes a car to hydroplane into me on my way there. While this is a hyper-simplified form it shows how any control over any moment is utterly illusory.
What does this have to do with differing mediums for consciousness? The question you must ask yourself in light of the fact that the configuration of molecules in water are in fact a system of data and the swirls that occur as they flow down a river along with their tendency to also remain together, are no different from the memory and processing which happen inside a human mind. So when a river moves a boulder, does it feel like it decided to do so? It's obvious that tiny little changes upstream altered every little change that the river makes to its environment but how is that different from our memories of experiences? How is the start of the river extremely different from instincts?
Water has electromagnetic properties. When a tree grows it adapts to availability of sunlight, winds, and the ground it grows from. It reacts to change and can heal scars. As the sap moves up and down through the seasons, how is that not processing memories? As the sap flows through old scars is a tree remembering old wounds?
If consciousness isn't magic and data can be stored in a variety of ways, then our knowledge of computing and electromagnetism along with what we know of the human brain leads to the inevitable conclusion that various types of consciousness must exist in a wide variety of places.
Or you can just believe that humans are god's special little snowflakes and only meat computers get souls...
Scribbled by Bharath C On May 04, 2016 0 Thoughts have been Sprinkled!, Your Take?
Experiencing silence is possible on various levels. For many people it means calming of the mind, lessening the mental chatter that seems always present. It's like going from a crowded place to a calm place where no people are present.
We can achieve this with something that is called concentration on an object. When this concentration is strong enough the mind does not move along with external sense impressions and calms down a lot. The outside world seems to disappear, together with all distractions that are present because of sense impressions.
The next step in silence is the stopping of mental impressions. While we might have shut down much disturbance there is still the concentration on the object. We are aware of breathing for example and follow this with our thoughts (for example we think of the quality of it, or the pleasure). When concentration becomes stronger we can stop this mental following and there will be only the following. In, out, in, out. If we slow this down we might get to a point where following becomes automatic. We don't have to press for it anymore. This will be a very different impression from what we usually have and it will be very calm. Compare it to going to a forest and most sounds stop.
When we move past this point there are mind states that will only have 'silence' with small notions inside. These notions are connected to the silence and the absence of disturbance. One of these notions might be that there is nothing present in this state of mind, or that there is peace.
Once the mind completely drops these notions what remains is a wondrous mental state that is almost impossible to describe. While people might talk about various levels of silence and calm, this is the mind state without disturbance. The mind seems unmoving and the slightest motion is detected.
The significance of the experience is that prior to it we have no clue how much mental unrest is present in our mind, even when it's calm. We might think we know it, but compared to this mind state the smallest movement will seem as a disturbance. It's like throwing a small stone in a large pond, when there are many waves it will be undetected, when the pond is still the slightest movement will be seen.
The next thing that is possible is when the mind withdraws from this state. It is possible that the mind will receive sense impressions without the mind moving along with them, labelling them. So we might hear sound but the mind will not register it as sound. It is later, from memory that we understand what we've heard. This makes it clear for the observer that the sense impression and the mental impression are two different things that usually follow each other with lightning speed. It also makes clear that the experience of the world does not happen in 'real time', it happens because the mind matches experience with experiences stored in memory. These impressions from memory drag along many things, stories so to speak.
When we've noticed this our view of the world will never be the same. We slowly become aware that inside there is a story teller, something that has an opinion about everything. And this story teller creates a lot of unrest in our mind.