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5 consciousness.docx

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Steve Joordens

5 consciousness - Consciousness: a person’s subjective experience of the world and the mind - Defining feature of consciousness is experience Consciousness and unconsciousness: the mind’s eye, open and closed The mysteries of consciousness - Psychology has the unique challenge to make sense of subjects - Phenomenology: how things seem to the conscious person The problem of other minds - Problem of other minds: the fundamental difficulty we have in perceiving the consciousness of others - How they feel, how they think, what they are experiencing, and how good or how bad it all is - Hypothetical nonconscious person a zombie - Because of the problem of other minds, none of us will ever know for sure that another person is not a zombie - Lack the ability to directly perceive the consciousness of others - You are the only thing in the universe you will ever truly know what it is like to be - There is no way you can tell if another person’s experience of anything is at all like yours - People judge minds according to the capacity for experience and the capacity for agency - The scientific method requires any observation made by one scientist should, in principle, be available for observation by any other scientist - One radical solution is to eliminate consciousness from psychology entirely and follow the other sciences into total objectivity by renouncing the study of anything mental (offered by behaviourism) The mind/ body problem - Mind/ body problem: the issue of how the mind is related to the brain and body - The pineal gland is not even a nerve structure but rather is an endocrine gland quite poorly equipped to serve as a center of human consciousness - The mind is what the brain does - Mental events are intimately tied to brain events, such that every thought, perception, or feeling is associated with a particular pattern of activation of neurons in the brain - The brain’s activity precede the activities of the conscious mind - The brain begins to show electrical activity around half a second before a voluntary action - The brain also started to show electrical activity before the person’s conscious decision to move - The brain becomes active more than 300 milliseconds before participants report that they are consciously trying to move - Personal intuition is that you think of an action and then do it, these experiments suggest that your brain is getting started before either the thinking or the doing, preparing the way for both thought and action - Our minds are leading our brains and bodies The nature of consciousness Four basic properties - 1. Intentionality, the quality of being directed toward an object - Conscious attention is limited - 2. Unity, resistance to division - Clear when you try to attend to more than one thing at a time - 3. Selectivity, the capacity to include some objects but not others - Dichotic listening: in which people wearing headphones are presented with different messages in each ear - Consciousness filters out some information - The selectivity of consciousness can also work to tune in other information - Cocktail party phenomenon: people tune in one message even while they filter out others nearby - Not only a property of waking consciousness, the mind works this way in other states - People are more sensitive to their own name than other’s names - 4. Transience, the tendency to change - The mind wanders not just sometimes, but incessantly, from one right now to the next right now - Consciousness as a stream - The stream of consciousness may flow in this way partly because of the limited capacity of the conscious mind Levels of consciousness - Ranges from minimal consciousness to full consciousness to full consciousness to self-
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