Does meaning come before awareness?

Does meaning come before awareness?

I imagine that somewhere way back in time sapiens came to a conclusion that was driven by their deep and strong urge to live forever. Because sapiens are aware of their mortality and because they are driven by this great urge to stay alive they created the “disembodied mind”, it was probably christened as “soul” at that time and from that decision they put forth their conclusion into ideas similar to these words “what does it profit a man if he should gain the whole world but suffer the lose of his soul?”

Wo/man could not accept mortality and thus found a means to “live forever” in the form of the soul, or mind, or ego, or… This conclusion has left us with the mind/body dichotomy that drives our religious, cultural, and philosophical thinking still today. “Mind” and “body” are abstractions; they are created aspects of the organism-environment interactions that we call experience.

John Dewey informs us that situations form the very essence of our emotions. He attempted to counteract the tendency to localize emotions as some form of private and interior subjective response that had nothing to do with our comprehension of objects in our world. Emotions are both subjective and objective as the distant Dewey and the present Damasio informs us. In a situation there is a comingling of what we now speak of as subject and object. “Emotions are both in us and in the world at the same time.”

Before conscious awareness we begin a situation with an unconsciously constructed meaningfulness. Our world “stands forth meaningfully to us at every waking instant, due primarily to the process of emotional feeling over which we have little control. And yet the situation is meaningful to us in the most important, primordial, and basic way that it can be meaningful—it shapes the basic contours of our experience. The situation specifies what will be significant to us and what objects, events, and persons mean to us at a pre-reflective level.

While there seems to be disagreement regarding specific details among neuroscientists, they do agree on the fundamental issue that emotions “play a central role in an organism’s assessment of its internal milieu—its bodily states and processes that are tied to its ongoing interactions with its environment, thereby motivating both internal body-state adjustments and outwardly directed actions in the world.”

What is meaningful and how it is meaningful to us is a function of a continuous internal monitoring of our bodily states as we experience and act in the world. Much of our past religious, philosophical, and pop-culture has denied this fact. In so doing this, we have deprived our self from very important considerations regarding our world of value assessment.

SGCS (Second Generation Cognitive Science) has put forth theories that are based upon the destruction of these basic assumptions of our Western religious and philosophical tradition.

If these new theories are correct then we are left with the question. “If there is no disembodied mind—no transcendent soul or ego—to be the source of meaning, then what things are meaningful to us and how they are meaningful must be a result of the nature of our brains, our bodies, our environments, and our social interactions, institutions, and practices.”

Quotes from The Meaning of the Body by Mark Johnson

While both may lead to the same thing, I think it would be fear of death rather than an urge to live forever.

There is more to man than just the animal (body and brain,) for surely no chimp feels any guilt associated with masturbation or eating junk food/over eating or doing nothing all day. What is the source of such internal conflict? What other specie is so internally divided?

This subject has to do with levels of awareness. Self awareness is the realization of the self. Merely self aware organisms cannot be internally divided. So dolphins, elephants, chimpanzees, and the other self aware creatures don’t deal with internal conflicts.

Now we go one level beyond self awareness, this is where man is on the spectrum of consciousness. I call it extra consciousness. It is when the self realizes it is inside something… it is the ability to view the self from an outer body perspective, to view the self inside what it is. A chimp might realize there is paint on it’s forehead, signifying self awareness, but it has no conscious concept of the environment it is in, there is no sense of a world in which it exists. It may know it exists, but there is no concept of what it exists in.

It is this… bah! I’m finally sleepy. good night.

Is basic consciousness in early animal forms?

Antonio Damasio is a scientist who has set out to organize a scientific study of human consciousness. Damasio utilizes a rather unique method that involves careful observation of individuals who have been deprived of some aspects of consciousness because of brain lesions caused by accidents. He studies brain dysfunction caused by such things as strokes and accidents.

Damasio finds that “nearly all the sites of brain damage associated with a significant disruption of core consciousness share one important trait…these structures are of old evolutionary vintage, they are present in numerous nonhuman species, and they mature early in individual human development.”

That is to say that his evidence indicates that core consciousness is centered about the brain’s physical areas that developed very early in the evolution of life on our planet, i.e. human core consciousness is directly evolved from early animal forms.

The basic facts made available for analysis give testimony to the hypothesis that consciousness is not a monolith. Most importantly there is an abrupt division between what is identified as core consciousness and extended consciousness. There are also distinguishing levels within extended consciousness it self. When core consciousness fails then extended consciousness follows.

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.

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.”

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 core 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.

Humans have extended consciousness, which takes core consciousness to the level of self consciousness and the awareness of mortality.

Quotes from The Feeling of what Happens: Body and Emotion in the Making of Consciousness by Antonio Damasio

You’ll have to excuse me, I’m an easily overwhelmed reader and rarely read beyond a paragraph or two… though I will read many a couple paragraphs and type more. I haven’t read either of your posts entirely, but if your replies would be shorter I could. :slight_smile:

As for what I did read, consciousness as it pertains to man, is the product of the senses. Meaning if one could not hear, sense (touch,) smell, see, and taste, ones consciousness could not develop past self awareness. There is another important variable which I’m not mentioning here.

On the most basic level, matter is consciousness. Somewhere down the line natures machines appear… like the flagellum. Let’s call this machine consciousness and it marks another leap on the spectrum of consciousness. Past plant consciousness is a significant leap; the level of consciousness that comes with mobility.

From another angle, animal consciousness (self awareness) is the evolution of the self learning to care for itself, the animal is gaining control over it’s own life, it is developing what we call will.

A steady diet of Twinkies and chips will give one a fat gut, a steady diet of sound bites and bumper stickers will give one a fat head.

An incoherent reply to an incoherent response. Screw you man, I love you.

Please refrain from using profanities, thanks! …and good day to you.