What is conscious experience?

From my message to the everything-list


Science has just recently started to research on conscious experience and so far this phenomenon has not been repeated in vitro yet. Moreover, it seems that the modern science does not have means to describe it:

Jeffery A. Gray, Consciousness: Creeping up on the Hard Problem:

p.5. “To put this Hard Problem into a preliminary nut-shell: it arises because nothing in our current theoretical models of brain and behavior accounts for the existence of conscious experience, still less for its detailed properties.”

This shows that we have to wait for more research in this direction to give a precise definition.

On other other hand, it is relatively easy to observe conscious experience, if you start from yourself. The experience of 3D visual world, music, feeling, etc. These phenomena must be researched, I do not believe it is a good idea to neglect them just because the current state of science cannot explain them.

The results described in Gray’s book show that conscious phenomena are rather slow, it takes about a quarter of a second to form conscious phenomena. In comparison, the unconscious feedback loops are by an order of magnitude faster. This means that common reasoning “I saw something and then I have done it” is actually wrong. We get in conscious experience already results made unconsciously. Gray’s hypothesis is that the conscious experience is kind of a multi-functional display created by the brain to allow for late error correction. However, he stresses in his book that right now we have no idea how that display is created and functions.

In any case, in his book you will find the description of many experiments in this respect.

The hard problem of consciousness is not to explain intellect, this presumably could be done. The hard problem is conscious experience and this must be researched further.

Let me finish by two more quotes from Gray. First the hard problem put differently:

p. 40. “Given, that there is a scientific story that goes seamlessly from sensory input to behavioural output without reference to consciousness then, when we try to add conscious experience back into the story, we can’t find anything for it to do. Consciousness, it seems, has no casual powers, it stands outside the casual chain.”

Second that a conscious life does exist:

p. 7. “So be prepared to discover that much of your consciousness life is illusory. But cling, nonetheless, to that fundamental rock upon which Descartes built his great conceptual edifice (no matter how unsatisfactory it turned out to be in other respects): whatever else may be an illusion, the fact that you have a conscious life cannot be. For it is in consciousness that illusions are created: no consciousness, no possibility of illusion.

Does Mars Rover has illusions?

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