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12 Feb Conscious Phenomena

Conscious or PsychicConscious Phenomena

For the past few posts, I have been exploring consciousness. Extra-sensory perception is a part, or an extension of consciousness. Are you sometimes psychic?  Some people have truly remarkable extra-sensory capabilities while others do not. I read a short story by Ursula K. Le  Guin, though I can’t for the life of me remember the title, in which a young woman was uncannily able to see tiny changes in a person’s face, and extrapolate huge, and usually correct, interpretations of their unstated intent or subtext of the dialog. And of course, there’s Sherlock Holmes’ amazing powers of observation. It is my suspicion that, again, placing things in context is the key. The more observant you are, and the more quickly and correctly your mind can establish correlations between different cues in your environment and memory, the more likely you are to see things in greater depth than immediate perception alone can account for.

Understanding Context Cross-Reference
Click on these Links to other posts and glossary/bibliography references


Section 4 #8

Perception Icon


Table of Context

In speaking of sensibility, I talked about the bubbling up of consciousness. We’re getting closer to understanding conscious phenomena by small degrees. Virginia Hughes, in a recent National Geographic article discussing the Mind Brainprocess of consciousness and animal studies told about “coma expert Steven Laureys of the University of Liège pointed out that nobody really knows yet how to determine whether an animal is conscious or unconscious by looking at its brain waves alone. ‘It’s terribly hard to make strong claims about what these rats actually perceived, or about possible conscious experiences,’ Laureys told Ed.” This article includes a video you should watch. Going on with the idea that there is a mind, and that it’s bigger than the brain. The mind may include the brain, the belly, the big toes, even the buttocks; in short, the mind may be made up of the aggregate systems of the body. Can such a theory be supported? By examining conscious phenomena – of what they consist, how they are learned, how they affect our decision making and motivate us to act – we can learn a great deal about the human mind. The table below provides a taxonomy of conscious phenomena, internal and external, to serve as a basic foundation for considering the ideas I will explore further in future posts.

A Taxonomy of Conscious Phenomena
Internal: External:
Perception Perception
Sensory Sensory
Extra-sensory Extra-sensory
Attention Attention
Cogitation Action
Emotion Reaction

Laughing WomanLaughter

Looking at laughter from a scientific perspective, we see a universal conscious phenomenon that has fascinating properties. Dennett, in Consciousness Explained,  describes laughter as a phenomenon wherein participants “gather in groups, large and small, and in the course of their mutual chattering, under a wide variety of circumstances, they are induced to engage in bouts of involuntary, convulsive respiration, a sort of loud, helpless, mutually reinforcing group panting that sometimes is so severe as to incapacitate them” (1991, p.62).

When a phenomenon such as laughter is universally shared by the species, a biological or evolutionary mechanism for its inheritance is sought. Theoretically, it is reasonable to assume that laughter may be a trait that serves in natural selection; perhaps individuals who possess this capability out-survive nonpossessors because laughter constitutes a good personal mechanism for overcoming debilitating emotional stress. It is also a good group mechanism for overcoming external hostility. We may assume that laughter was a strong and useful mutation somewhere in the course of evolution, but this assumption, besides being difficult to defend, does not answer any useful question that helps us develop a cybernetic model.

Rather than dwell on the origin or nature of the laughter phenomenon, let’s leave the jury sequestered until more useful scientific information comes available. We should concentrate instead on what we may gain from analyzing the functions and attributes of this delightful phenomenon. What we learn from looking at the context of laughter (when and why it happens) as well as its attributes and results may be useful in generating a cybernetic model. Before we teach MIPUS about laughter, we need to come to a clear definition of when it is appropriate and when it is not so MIPUS can learn how to laugh in the best way for each specific situation.

Click below to look in each Understanding Context section


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