If you enjoy what you read here you will also enjoy my novel
21 days in May
Please be aware this blog may be considered Illegal almost anywhere!

Conscious of a Collision

This is the first post in a series on consciousness, maybe, I'm still thinking. Anyway, I thought I'd set a baseline, bear with it, I think it all comes out in the wash...

Imagine a big rock floating free in space, just sitting there, still, lifeless, not knowing anything or recording anything just existing as a rock in space, we'll call it Eric. Millenniums later another rock appears, we'll call it Ernie. Ernie has been travelling unimpeded on his trajectory at high velocity also for millenniums but this is a collision trajectory with Eric.

The collision occurs and, in the current vernacular, *BOOM*, Eric shoots off, stealing almost all of Ernie's momentum and leaving Ernie, split into two pieces; one almost stopping its forward momentum and spinning on the spot and the other smaller piece is thrown into orbit of its larger sibling.

Neither Eric or Ernie is conscious in any way; we can all agree that a rock has no consciousness, however, even while agreeing that neither is conscious in the "Here I am and I know that I am" way, one could legitimately, if loosely, describe the collision thusly...

When Eric and Ernie collided, the condition of each was transformed by the other and the laws of physics.
Eric became conscious of Ernie's momentum via the collision.
Ernie became conscious of Eric's mass when he suddenly started orbiting himself.
The Universe became conscious of Eric & Ernie's collision by way of the effects and conditions resulting from it.

On a distant planet light years away a scientist asks "Could it be that this planet's civilisation was destroyed by a meteor (Eric)?" and part of his answer, if discernible, is "the impact registered by Eric on his collision with Ernie millenniums earlier".
If we replaced the word "conscious" with the word "interaction" then when a physical "interaction" takes place the superposition of all possible outcomes is collapsed. When an interaction between two existing objects takes place in a "meaningful" way, say as is the case in the example detailed above, in an impact or collision, where the trajectory and/or condition of one or both of the objects is physically transformed by the other, each object can be said to have become "conscious" of the other. "Consciousness", in that sense, exists even where a "mind" does not. Unless or until a physical object interacts with another both objects future states exist only as potentials.
But all these events are still not consciousness (sentience) let alone conscious (awake), and this is where lack of precision in language starts to muddy the water of comprehension. We say that this or that thing became 'aware' of an event but we don't mean awareness/consciousness, as in a sentient entity. We mean 'registered' as a needle on a gauge or 'evidenced' by a chain of causes and effects, as a line of toppled dominoes; we mean the record left in the "great list of universal events" but in order to receive that exact meaning the listener must be aware that it's the implied meaning and usage. A magic believing listener may, naturally, default to what seems, because of their prior indoctrination, the more reasonable 'Sentience with a will' meaning of consciousness or "a being that's awake" meaning of conscious. Doesn't that mean that what the listener infers from the statement differs from the actual meaning because the listener was taught to expect 'agency' and so perceives an implication where there was none? I think so.

We have an innate ability for anthropomorphising objects in conversation. I think this has evolved because it makes it easier to transmit a concept if we can voice it in a way with which the listener can empathise. However, this 'teaching method' contains within it the pitfall of personifying the anthropomorphism, which then misleads, especially for a listener who is thinking 'concretely' and not in the more abstract 'formally'. Here I'd like to draw a distinction between personification and anthropomorphising, one might anthropomorphise a bouncing ball by saying "that bounces like a rabbit", whereas personification assumes the ball is acting as though it has the 'personality' of the Rabbit, for me it's the difference between an object having an attribute of life and an actual life.

To inform clearly, don't we need to be as fully aware as possible, not merely of ALL that we are transmitting but also of the listener's ability to receive? Shouldn't we be constructing sentences that deliberately avoid any accidental personification of an anthropomorphic example? Should we consider anthropomorphic examples so susceptible to personification, because of who/what we humans are, that they should be actively discouraged as a method of delivering information?
I've no answers on that, to be honest it seems so hardwired it may be irremovable but I feel we must try.

As for the universe, I see no evidence that of itself the universe is conscious or has "consciousness", as we do. I see only a register of events.
'Our' Radio waves are travelling across space, any other sentient consciousness that there may be in the universe may one day become aware of our having existed but the record of our existence is already registered (possibly immortally) in the waves 'we' made in space. In that respect alone, the universe is 'conscious' of our, or anything's, existence but the universe does not 'know' of our existence.

So, when we hear a claim like "The universe is conscious" shouldn't we all finish the sentence, not necessarily aloud, it's still a religiously oppressed world out there and we don't want to get dead so, maybe just in our heads add "in the same way as a rock is conscious of a collision."?

For those wondering, the "Eric" & "Ernie" irony was on purpose, by way of illustration. For those not, feel free to ignore this last sentence. :)

More on consciousness in Conscious of Consciousness
This is one of the Too Many Questions
Please leave a comment - Anything will do
The best communications are often,

All Alone In The Dark

Solipsism is the philosophical idea that only one's own mind is sure to exist.
Solipsism as an epistemological position holds that knowledge of anything outside one's own mind is unsure.

Solipsism is usually invoked to support a "You can't trust science!" line of argument, something like... "You can't be sure of anything being 'real' - anything is possible - therefore god is."
Most of us who have debated with theists will be aware of the phraseology used to deny any certainty of knowledge of that which is external to the person thinking, of all that is 'else', 'external' to 'self'. Debate seems an inadequate word for what we have to endure from much of the theistic community but anyway, I suspect most who have 'debated' will have heard... "But none of us can claim to be able to prove anything exists other than our minds." They always use 'mind', I think it's because it sounds more spooky and mystical. They usually conclude with what they see as the full-stop, argument winning point... "You might just be a brain!"

Now, in the head of the listener, that image of a brain forms but as all that we know comes from the physical world, we form an image of what each of us interprets it to be. Some may see just the brain existing alone, floating free in space with just a backdrop of the universe. Others may imagine a cartoon sci-fi "brain in a jar" connected to some sort of machine. And others a brain flying free, maybe a little pair cherub wings flutter as it glides through delightfully soft clouds and rainbows (Well, they might!) but whatever image we see, we see the brain.
While these are only our imaginings of what a brain existing alone may be like they do point to an understanding of the issue. Whatever we call the individual - mind, brain, personality etc. the "person" must have form. I know you could say it could be like a cloud of energy but that just changes the parameters, "cloud" is a form, "energy" is the substance of that form.
And, while that interpretation does remove the "purely physical" from the the concept of "person", it does nothing to answer "in what sort of environment does this "substance" that makes up "person" exist?"

Solipsism is, ironically, a dead-end, a wild-goose chase. It's as productive for a theist to invoke solipsism as for a dog to chase its tail! Solipsism is not the argument winning-point against the factuality of reality that theists think and promote it to be, it's just another cupboard-full of questions.
In response to "you might be just a brain" one may only proffer "Of what does this independent brain consist? What are its properties? Is it held captive by some evil being or vindictive spouse? Of what does the environment in which it exists consist? Is it on a bench in a lab? Does it require sustenance? If so, how is this achieved?" And, I think, many, many etcetera queries.

In the final analysis Solipsism still leaves us with... "And how did the universe in which the single brain exists, begin? Why does that universe exist? What was the cause for the brain to come into being?" Which are all square-1 questions.

Finally, any god that may be imagined also falls foul of the solipsism accusation...
How, Mr/Mrs theist, can you be sure that you are not just a figment of the imagination of a mind existing alone?
Or, further, prove to me or anyone, that the god you imagine exists, is not just a "brain in a jar", imagining not only your existence but also that you are currently pondering on the nature of the Jar Brain's existence? And, could you prove that without thinking up a fantastical story for how that imagined jar brain came about?

Very finally, no really this time...
Doesn't arguing for Solipsism denigrate the personalities of each and every human who ever struggled up the evolutionary ladder? Doesn't it reduce the collective effort of humanity and individual desires of each and every valuable member thereof to the whimsical muse of an entity of no importance? And, doesn't it do so ONLY so that the invoker can pretend they'll live forever?
I think it does and from there one must wonder... What is all this selfish, death avoidance pretending doing to how we(humanity) view ourselves? I mean, such a vast majority of 'us' living a life of lies and pretence in fear can't really be doing our collective psyche any good, can it?

This is one of the Too Many Questions
Please leave a comment - Anything will do
The best communications are often,


If you enjoy what you read here
you will also enjoy my novel
21 days in May

Please be aware this blog may be considered Illegal almost anywhere!

Too Many Questions - Headlines