Birth of Consciousness

Birth of Consciousness

Many non human creatures have emotions—“human emotions however have evolved to making connections to complex ideas, values, principles, and judgments”—thus human emotion is special—the impact of feelings on humans is the result of consciousness—a distinct difference between feeling and knowing a feeling—“neither the emotion or the feeling caused by the emotion is conscious”—these things happen in a biological state—there are three stages here; emotion, feeling, and consciousness of feeling—consciousness must be present if feelings have an influence beyond the here and the now—consciousness is tooted in the representation of the body.

[b]We need not be conscious of the emotion or the inducer of the emotion—we are about as effective in stopping an emotion as in stopping a sneeze.

“Emotions are about the life of an organism, its body to be precise, and their role is to assist the organism in maintaining life…emotions are biologically determined processes, depending upon innately set brain devices, laid down by long evolutionary history…The devices that produce emotions…are part of a set of structures that both regulate and represent body states…All devices can be engaged automatically, without conscious deliberation…The variety of the emotional responses is responsible for profound changes in both the body landscape and the brain landscape. The collection of these changes constitutes the substrate for the neural patterns which eventually become feelings of emotion.”[/b]

The biological function of emotions is to produce an automatic action in certain situations and to regulate the internal processes so that the creature is able to support the action dictated by the situation. The biological purpose of emotions are clear, they are not a luxury but a necessity for survival.

“It is through feelings, which are inwardly directed and private, that emotions, which are outwardly directed and public, begin their impact on the mind; but the full and lasting impact of feelings requires consciousness, because only along with the advent of a sense of self do feelings become known to the individual having them.”

Damasio proposes “that the term feeling should be reserve for the private, mental experience of an emotion, while the term emotion should be used to designate the collection of responses, many of which are publicly observable.” This means that while we can observe our own private feelings we cannot observe these same feelings in others.

Core consciousness—“occurs when the brain’s representation devices generate an imaged, nonverbal account of how the organism’s own state is affected by the organism’s processing of an object, and when this process enhances the image of the causative object, thus placing it saliently in a spatial and temporal context”

First, there is emotion, then comes feeling, then comes consciousness of feeling. There is no evidence that we are conscious of all our feelings, in fact evidence indicates that we are not conscious of all feelings.

Quotes from “The Feeling of What Happens” by Antonio Damasio

its a combination of advanced self awareness and especially theory of mind (understanding that others have minds) animal/autistic studies and research into brain disease/injury highlight large aspects of what consciousness is. Once you’re recognizing yourself in the mirror for some species there must be evolutionary pressure to apply reasoning about themselves to other minds to best predict their actions. For example humans everywhere anthropormorphize (sp) animals, its false and unscientific but its accuracy IN predicting animal behavior is massive. (Just as good as anyone can predict with all modern science). So its not that hard to understand where/why we have it. The devil is in the ultra complex brain machinery. The HOW. (which is becoming more and more understood.)

There was no ‘birth’ of consciousness like there was no birth of an arm or eye, step by step modifications until they were proto arms etc. We see less advanced consciousness (thinking about other minds/your own) to all different extents in animals/people. right up to us.

Excellent posts, Cyrene. I agree wholeheartedly. You have captured it in a nustshell.

No lie.

I agree.

Just thought I’d point that out.

Just for me.

^ What is interesting is how they tease out aspects of consciousness in animals, for awhile chimps/other apes showed no real signs of ‘theory of mind’ (thinking about other minds) but when people put chimps in tasks where they had to think of another mind thinking about them, and how that influenced competition (hiding food and etc) they showed in experiments they could. Perhaps, and maybe even likely, chimps can only think about other minds in certain situations where they’d really need too, in chimp related interactions.

Most people apparently have a few levels that they can think of, humans are like around level six “he thought, that she thought, that he thought, that she thought, that he thought, that she thought”

most people start blanking out past that. So there are limits to our ability to engage in recognition of other minds and their possible thoughts, at least in that area.

the experiments also show how badly handicapped some autistic children/people are, when they show less signs of self-awareness/theory of mind than things like rhesus monkeys/apes, as horrifying as that is, we can only hope that a better understanding of the severe cases (like these) can help in the future.

the inability to think about other minds (Or even your own) must be terrifying, in-so-far that everything these strange creatures did around you would seem unpredictable.

Hmmmm. that’s bad news. I think I run aground at about three.

Anybody got a banana?