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The Hard Problem of Consciousness

"Two decades later, we know an astonishing amount about the brain: you can’t follow the news for a week without encountering at least one more tale about scientists discovering the brain region associated with gambling, or laziness, or love at first sight, or regret – and that’s only the research that makes the headlines. Meanwhile, the field of artificial intelligence – which focuses on recreating the abilities of the human brain, rather than on what it feels like to be one – has advanced stupendously. But like an obnoxious relative who invites himself to stay for a week and then won’t leave, the Hard Problem remains."

"It would be poetic – albeit deeply frustrating – were it ultimately to prove that the one thing the human mind is incapable of comprehending is itself. An answer must be out there somewhere. And finding it matters: indeed, one could argue that nothing else could ever matter more – since anything at all that matters, in life, only does so as a consequence of its impact on conscious brains. Yet there’s no reason to assume that our brains will be adequate vessels for the voyage towards that answer. Nor that, were we to stumble on a solution to the Hard Problem, on some distant shore where neuroscience meets philosophy, we would even recognise that we’d found it."

#consciousness #psychology #hardproblem #davidchalmers
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The Evolution of Consciousness

No matter how you look at it - with or without metaphysical speculations - the simple fact that BILLIONS of human minds now connect to BILLIONS of other human minds through technology, is CHANGING HUMAN CONSCIOUSNESS on both an individual and global scale. In a way we can look back historically at other significant paradigm shifts in how humans share knowledge, ideas and consciousness with other humans, and see an evolution towards global consciousness:

1: Language - Humans can now share significant aspects of thought and consciousness within local communities. Limited by geography and language.

2: Writing - Humans can now share, expand and store significant aspects of thought and consciousness across local and regional communities. Limited partially by geography, language, region and education.

3: Internet - Humans can now share, expand and store, significant aspects of thought and consciousness across local, regional and global communities. Minimal limitations and near ubiquitous global access.

What will be the short and long term effects of these expanding interconnected technologies as billions of human beings share a collective technological and consciousness Noosphere?

"Are we evolving into new species with hybrid thinking interlinked into the Global Mind? At what point will the Web may become self-aware? Or is it already? Once our neocortices are seamlessly connected to the Web, how will that feel like to step up one level above human consciousness to global consciousness?"

"With exponential technological advances we become increasingly and intimately interconnected. As Kevin Kelly says “Within the next 5,000 days of the Internet, we’ll create a global neural network, which for a lack of a better word, we can call the ONE”, a living conscious entity, a single mind of billions of hyperconnected individuals with a whole array of sensory apparatus. Thus, the One will get a major eyesight upgrade when the humans will get their first bionic Internet-enabled contact lenses."

#consciousness #technology #psychology #transpersonal #singularity
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Virtual Reality Expanding Consciousness?

"Virtual Reality is blazing new frontiers in the exploration of consciousness by adding whole new dimensions to the notion of what is real."

“We will see in the near future extremely effective machines using modern technology to alter consciousness; some of them, including the virtual reality technology, are already quite advanced.” – Stanislav Grof

"Similar to the psychedelic experience, Virtual Reality is opening new paths towards mystical experiences like those that have inspired the world’s greatest religions. Through this powerful technology, we are closer than ever to being able to enter altered states of consciousness by being immersed in a realm where time travel is possible, where fantastical landscapes capture our imaginations, and where we can prepare ourselves for the next great adventure after this life."

#consciousness #stanislavgrof #virtualreality #psychology #transpersonal
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Consciousness is Everywhere

"Scientists and Buddhists from all over the world are starting to see the similarities between their disciplines, and the research which is emerging as a result is truly exciting. A classic example of a scientist diving into ancient wisdom is Nikola Tesla, whose work was heavily influenced by Vedic philosophy."

“I regard consciousness as fundamental. I regard matter as derivative from consciousness. We cannot get behind consciousness. Everything that we talk about, everything that we regard as existing, postulates consciousness.” ~ Max Planck (Theoretical Physicist)

"Christof Koch, the Chief Scientific Officer at the Allen Institute for Brain Science and a leading American neuroscientist, has illustrated how new theories in neuroscience suggest that consciousness is present in all things. A couple of years ago he took a trip to India to discuss the topic with a group of Buddhist monks and ended up debating with the Dalai Lama for an entire day."

#consciousness #psychology #physics
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Has Science Found the Neurological Mechanism for Consciousness?

Although I have no doubt that we will continue to uncover more fine-grained neurological correlates of consciousness, I think we are still a ways off to identify ALL the sources of consciousness.

"Human consciousness has been defined as awareness, sentience, a person’s ability to experience and feel, but despite the important role it plays in our lives and making us who we are, we actually know very little about how consciousness works."

"Scientists currently believe that consciousness is composed of two components: arousal and awareness. The first is regulated by the brainstem, but the physical origins of the latter were always a mystery. Now, a team of researchers at Harvard think they may have discovered the regions of the brain that work with the brainstem to maintain consciousness."

#consciousness #psychology
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Do We Need a New Concept of Consciousness?

"Although it is true that when all is said and done all we know is our consciousness, it is also true that we do not know our own consciousness, not to mention the consciousness of anyone else. We do not know what consciousness really is or how it is related to the brain. Since our consciousness is the basis of our identity, we do not know who we really are. Are we a body that generates the stream of sensations we call consciousness, or are we a consciousness associated with a body that displays it? Do we have consciousness, or are we consciousness? Consciousness could be a kind of illusion, a set of sensations produced by the workings of our brain. But it could also be that our body is a vehicle, a transmitter of a consciousness that is the basic reality of the world. The world could be material, and mind could be an illusion. Or the world could be consciousness, and the materiality of the world could be the illusion."

"Both of these possibilities have been explored in the history of philosophy, and today we are a step closer than before to understanding which of them is true. There are important insights emerging at the expanding frontiers where physical science joins consciousness research."

#consciousness #psychology #transpersonal
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Daniel Dennett's Majestic Failure

"Daniel Dennett’s latest book marks five decades of majestic failure to explain consciousness."

15 years ago while in another graduate program which touched on various aspects of consciousness, one course required reading Dennett's book "Consciousness Explained". The 50 page paper I wrote on the topic, and book, was subtitled "Consciousness UN-Explained" due to Dennett's efforts to dismiss the very existence of what we all take for granted and know first-hand - the existence of our own consciousness. Nice to see his failed views on consciousness continue to be debunked and dismissed.

"The attempt to reduce the phenomena of mental existence to a purely physical history has been attempted before, and has so far always failed. But, after so many years of unremitting labor, and so many enormous books making wildly implausible claims, Dennett can at least be praised for having failed on an altogether majestic scale."

#consciousness #psychology #transpersonal #danieldennett
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Consciousness After Death?

“Many people have anecdotally reported being able to see and hear what’s going on at the time of their resuscitation. They are going through a period of death, but they come back and describe a detached experience where they are watching doctors work on them from the corner of the room. Or they describe actual conversations that doctors and nurses later verify,”

"There were things that were timed and recorded that the patient was able to independently describe, and when we looked in the charts and asked [medical staff], we verified those exact events occurred,” said Parnia. “What this suggests is that the period of consciousness and awareness of them being able to recall these events was happening not before they died, but during the period when the brain was expected to be flatlined and nonfunctional.”

#consciousness #transpersonal #psychology
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Is Consciousness An Extended Mental Field

"The relationship between the mind and the brain is a mystery that is central to how we understand our very existence as sentient beings. Some say the mind is strictly a function of the brain — consciousness is the product of firing neurons. But some strive to scientifically understand the existence of a mind independent of, or at least to some degree separate from, the brain."

#consciousness #psychology #transpersonalpsychology
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The Evidence For Non-Local Consciousness

"Some observations from the study of holotropic states (non-ordinary or altered states of consciousness) are so radical that they not only challenge the theory and practice of psychiatry, psychology, and psychotherapy, but also undermine some of the most fundamental metaphysical assumptions of Western science. None of these conceptual challenges are more drastic and far-reaching than the new insights regarding the nature of non-local consciousness and its relationship to matter. According to Western neuroscience, consciousness is an epiphenomenon of matter, a by-product of the complex neurophysiological processes in the brain and thus an intrinsic and inseparable part of the body. Modern consciousness research conducted in the last five decades has made this hypothesis highly questionable."

#consciousness #psychology #transpersonalpsychology #stanislavgrof
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