When does consciouness of life kick in on the timeline?

Discussion of everything related to the Theory of Evolution.

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Death Adder
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Post by woolleyy » Sun Nov 25, 2007 6:07 pm

deostroll wrote:
AstusAleator wrote:But fear over such things as injury or death (without the accompanying concept of non-existence) do not rely on the "consciousness of life" in my opinion.

Hmm, perhaps it is not consciouness of life; it may be the thought of enduring pain, or suffering from pain. :?

I think fear comes from many different sources. Some of these may well be the fear of enduring pain, others may be fear of death as you first postulated. My point is that the organisms that feel this fear do not necessarily understand why they are afraid, most sources of fear (especially in lower organisms) are genetically programmed.

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Post by AstusAleator » Thu Nov 29, 2007 1:53 am

Alex, you're right that we'll get caught up in a web of semantics. If the creator of this thread wishes to restate their hypothesis, giving definitions for questionable words, or using more exact language, perhaps we can continue.
What did the parasitic Candiru fish say when it finally found a host? - - "Urethra!!"

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Post by nornerator » Wed Dec 05, 2007 11:26 pm

This discussion hinges entirely on the basis of perception.

It depends 100% on the level of complexity that you are looking at.

For instance, it is a 100% true statement that when everything boils down, every single thought and action you as an individual "make" is completely and utterly a consequence of the interaction of your genetic makeup and the environment around it, there is nobody making decisions or making thoughts, just thoughts happening as a by-product of electrical and chemical reactions.

However at the same time it is very obvious that a human makes "intelligent" decisions. But, just like everything your neural network operates off of a natural selective process, the patterns of chemical and energy flow through the neurons are the ones that have received the highest amount of positive feedback from the environment surrounding it and are therefore the ones that fire more often.

The brain and the rest of the body make highly intelligent decisions all the time, and they both do so through the same general process, chemical and electrical signals.

Consciousness on the other hand is somewhat of a different story.

Depending on the definition of consciousness being used many would argue only a few animals on this entire planet are conscious, at least in the way that humans are. From your original post it sounds like your definition of consciousness is simply self-awareness. Some dolphins, a few species of primate, and an African species of Parrot are the only animals on this planet that we can positively confirm have this same sort of consciousness.

Consciousness is nothing terribly special in and of itself, it is simply an extra layer of regulation on the decision making process.

The vast majority of life on this planet are not aware that they even exist.

So I would disagree with your initial statement that in order to get out of a bad situation you need to be aware that you could die.

However, I fully agree with the statement that Fear does not exist without consciousness.

To animals that are unaware of their existence, fear does not exist, just chemicals signaling them to "do something"

It is not until we are aware of the qualia of fear (the subjective feeling of fear) do we become "afraid"

Although now that we are talking about qualia and subjectivity, there can be no debate only discussion, because that is philosophy and we are here to talk about objective reality.

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Evolution of Conciousness and Self-Awareness

Post by TPort ScienceProfOnline » Fri Dec 07, 2007 7:07 pm

There have been some very interesting and clever experiments regarding self-awareness in animals. I know that it has been demonstrated that great apes and dophins (and perhaps other animals as well) demonstrate self-awareness.

I don't beleive that awareness of impending death has anything to do with self awareness. Rather, it's about whether an animal (human animal included) undertands that he/she is an entity seperate from others.

In one of the experiments that I am aware of, the researchers sedated individual great apes and painted a mark on the animal's forehead. Once the animal was awake and functioning, it was released back into its enclosure which contained a mirror. If an animal is self aware, it will recognize its reflection rather than thinking the reflection is another animal.

The apes that had the mark on their forehead invariably reached up and touched it as soon as they saw their reflection. A clear demonstration that they know their relection represented them. Pretty cool experiment.

This is not a new book, but it is a goodie: The Evolution of Conciousness by Robert Ornstein
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