Consciousness arises due to awareness of others

What you think about how you think.
Post Reply
HardToFake
Posts: 2
Joined: Tue Mar 22, 2011 10:42 pm

Consciousness arises due to awareness of others

Post by HardToFake » Tue Mar 22, 2011 10:56 pm

Here's my take: The key to understanding consciousness lies not in examining the self but instead how the mind interacts with other minds. Consciousness is connected to being social. It arises as a result of living in a society of individuals with complex and hard-to-read motives.

Let's begin with an assumption: Being social has many benefits. Individuals that are better at being social will be more successful at surviving and reproducing than individuals that are less social.

If being social is desirable, then it follows that human minds must try and measure the quality of other minds to decide whether to cooperate and form alliances with them.

There are probably quite a number of different mechanisms by which this happens but let's look at one in particular: sending obfuscated messages. This means sending deliberately complex messages to test whether the receiver is able to deal with them and thereby testing the quality of their mind. A very contrived example would be posting a lonely hearts ad in, say, Latin. I think a very good case could be made for deliberate obfuscation being the reason why spoken language became so complex. To massively oversimplify: during the course of evolution humans have been inventing ever more grammar rules and synonyms to test whether their counterparts can understand them.

However, language is just one of several obfuscated channels on which humans communicate. Emotions are another. Just think how subtle and time consuming it can be be to read the emotions of another individual, especially an intelligent one with whom you want to cooperate.

The larger point here is that humans are very complex things whose motives are often difficult to access. Yet understanding the motives of others is essential, if only to prove that we have high quality minds worth cooperating with.

Image a scenario in which there are several individuals. They have the ability to interact, cooperate, form alliances and compete with each other for resources. Let's look at one particular individual, call him Bob. Bob has an incentive to cooperate with the others, especially those that are "better" than their peers. However, they are all sending unclear signals and Bob is being confronted with a lot of incomplete information. His best bet is to run _simulations_ of everyone in his mind, and feed these with what he can observe. That way he can try and access his peers' motives and deal with them more effectively.

But there is one essential part still missing to complete Bob's model of the world: himself! So what does he do? He also runs a simulation of himself. And this is what I believe explains consciousness. It is a tool originally evolved for dealing with others, but directed inwards.

There are several reasons why this explanation is attractive:

1) It implies that we do not have direct access to our motives. Instead, we use this tool to find out what we feel and what to do about our feelings. This seems somehow intuitive because we are not in control of our emotions directly. We cannot decide what we feel. We cannot decide to be happy. Instead, we make conscious decisions and see whether it makes us happy.

2) Conscious thought is very similar to talking to another individual. We are capable of holding conversations with ourselves in our heads just as we would with a real person. It implies that communicating with others is very similar to thinking.

3) It seems like a sensible setup. Once we have a tool for understanding a complex environment, what better way of training it, improving it and, indeed, learning to use it than using it on ourselves.
If all else fails, eat

User avatar
Dimebag
Regular Poster
Posts: 782
Joined: Tue Sep 07, 2010 12:05 pm

Re: Consciousness arises due to awareness of others

Post by Dimebag » Sun Mar 27, 2011 6:48 am

Firstly welcome Hardtofake,

Apologies for not replying sooner, but I felt I needed to really absorb your post before I commented on it. Here are my thoughts.

I fail to see why our mind needs a simulation of ourselves when it already has access to the very states it is currently experiencing? Isn't it simpler to remove this simulation which sits above the real brain states and simply have those brain states be the contents of consciousness?

Additionally, using your logic, if we were not modelling other people's behaviour in our mind we would not need to model our own, and therefore would not be conscious of anything. This is downright nutty.

I think consciousness is useful even without interacting with people and merely interacting with a complex environment in order to interpret patterns and gain something from our interaction with the environment.

Your theory is interesting but doesn't seem to hold water upon closer inspection. Kudos for coming up with a new perspective on consciousness, but I think it needs more work. Maybe you could rephrase your theory to, 'consciousness imparts an evolutionary advantage due to awareness of others'. The problem is consciousness imparts an evolutionary advantage to almost everything we are conscious of.

HardToFake
Posts: 2
Joined: Tue Mar 22, 2011 10:42 pm

Re: Consciousness arises due to awareness of others

Post by HardToFake » Thu Mar 31, 2011 6:11 am

Hello Dimebag,

Thanks for the welcome and your considered reply. Here is my response:

Maybe I should have been clearer when saying our mind is running a simulation of ourselves. Seeing as we are deconstructing what self means, what I meant by self is the part of our brains that deal with (emotional) message processing and response. I think our "real brain states" do intrude into our executive decision layer quite often, especially we we have needs relating to survival. We do not think for long when we feel hunger, cold, fear, sexual arousal, etc.... that is when the animal in us overrides the simulation layer.

You say that when we are not modelling other's behaviour we would then not be conscious. Of course there are moments when we are alone and do not need to model people in our direct vicinity. However:
1) We spend little time alone and tend to avoid prolonged stretches of solitude. It would make little sense to have an on/off switch for consciousness.
2) Even when we are alone, we think a great deal about people, past social experiences, future social experiences and culture. (The culture bit is a whole different post). For this we require consciousness.

Finally you say that "consciousness is useful even without interacting with people and merely interacting with a complex environment". That maybe so, but humans have built systems capable of dealing with extremely complex environments and these systems are not conscious by most definitions.
If all else fails, eat

User avatar
mirror93
Poster
Posts: 451
Joined: Thu Apr 06, 2017 5:06 pm

Re: Consciousness ̶a̶r̶i̶s̶e̶s̶ due to ̶a̶w̶a̶r̶e̶n̶e̶s̶s̶ ̶o̶f̶ ̶o̶t̶h̶e̶r̶s̶

Post by mirror93 » Wed Jan 17, 2018 7:11 am

HardToFake wrote:Here's my take: The key to understanding consciousness lies not in examining the self but instead how the mind interacts with other minds. Consciousness is connected to being social. It arises as a result of living in a society of individuals with complex and hard-to-read motives.

Let's begin with an assumption: Being social has many benefits. Individuals that are better at being social will be more successful at surviving and reproducing than individuals that are less social.

If being social is desirable, then it follows that human minds must try and measure the quality of other minds to decide whether to cooperate and form alliances with them.



you mean how 'YOU' interacts with other 'PEOPLE'. "mind" does not interact, it's you who interacts, you have a mind. This is not a new age forum to use such jargons.
Consciousness is not connected to being social, you being social or not, you still have your consciousness.
Consciousness does not arise in a result of living in any place, your consciousness evolves after you born
Not true, Individuals that are quiet and not social will always be more successful than those who are socially open to everyone, these we call HOMELESS. Surviving has nothing to do with it. All the rest of your old post doesn't follow.
"It would make little sense to have an on/off switch for consciousness."
even more when there isn't any "on/off" button. consciousness isn't in a toy.
I don't know why I'm answering to this 2011 nonsensical post, but I am.
:paladin:

bobbo_the_Pragmatist
Has No Life
Posts: 14760
Joined: Wed Sep 09, 2015 9:39 am
Custom Title: bobbo da existential pragmatist

Re: Consciousness arises due to awareness of others

Post by bobbo_the_Pragmatist » Wed Jan 17, 2018 7:55 am

You know boys, its called Developmental Psychology. Books are written on the actual mechanisms of growing up hooman. The first thing a kiddie recognizes is "himself." The kiddies learns there is himself and the rest of the Universe. First comes Mothers Breast as another person. Things go downhill from there.
Real Name: bobbo the existential pragmatic evangelical anti-theist and Class Warrior.
Asking: What is the most good for the most people?
Sample Issue: Should the Feds provide all babies with free diapers?

User avatar
Poodle
Has More Than 9K Posts
Posts: 9657
Joined: Sun Jul 31, 2011 9:12 pm
Custom Title: Regular sleeper
Location: NE corner of my living room

Re: Consciousness arises due to awareness of others

Post by Poodle » Wed Jan 17, 2018 8:29 am

No, I can't see any of this. To interact at all, on any level, implies consciousness in and of itself. Your definition, HTF, comes in too late. Interaction without consciousness is an oxymoron. It may well be that interaction refined consciousness, but that is after the fact.

User avatar
ElectricMonk
Perpetual Poster
Posts: 4240
Joined: Thu Mar 26, 2015 6:21 pm
Custom Title: The Baby-eating Bishop

Re: Consciousness arises due to awareness of others

Post by ElectricMonk » Wed Jan 17, 2018 1:06 pm

Consciousness is probably the result of an awareness-arms race within a species: if I have to outsmart my fellows it creates evolutionary pressure for everyone to develop Theory of Mind and exploit it.

User avatar
Gawdzilla Sama
Real Skeptic
Posts: 21989
Joined: Sun Jun 01, 2008 2:11 am
Custom Title: Deadly but evil.

Re: Consciousness arises due to awareness of others

Post by Gawdzilla Sama » Wed Jan 17, 2018 1:13 pm

ElectricMonk wrote:Consciousness is probably the result of an awareness-arms race within a species: if I have to outsmart my fellows it creates evolutionary pressure for everyone to develop Theory of Mind and exploit it.

Please insert magic in your thesis and resubmit.
Chachacha wrote:"Oh, thweet mythtery of wife, at waft I've found you!"
WWII Resources. Primary sources.
The Myths of Pearl Harbor. Demythologizing the attack.
Hyperwar. Hypertext history of the Second World War.
The greatest place to work in the entire United States.

User avatar
ElectricMonk
Perpetual Poster
Posts: 4240
Joined: Thu Mar 26, 2015 6:21 pm
Custom Title: The Baby-eating Bishop

Re: Consciousness arises due to awareness of others

Post by ElectricMonk » Wed Jan 17, 2018 1:19 pm

Gawdzilla Sama wrote:
ElectricMonk wrote:Consciousness is probably the result of an awareness-arms race within a species: if I have to outsmart my fellows it creates evolutionary pressure for everyone to develop Theory of Mind and exploit it.

Please insert magic evolution in your thesis and resubmit.


FTFY

User avatar
Gord
Obnoxious Weed
Posts: 31906
Joined: Wed Apr 29, 2009 2:44 am
Custom Title: Silent Ork
Location: Transcona

Re: Consciousness arises due to awareness of others

Post by Gord » Thu Jan 18, 2018 3:23 am

Everything is made of water: http://existentialcomics.com/comic/216
"Knowledge grows through infinite timelessness" -- the random fictional Deepak Chopra quote site
"Imagine an ennobling of what could be" -- the New Age BS Generator site
"You are also taking my words out of context." -- Justin
"Nullius in verba" -- The Royal Society ["take nobody's word for it"]
#ANDAMOVIE
Is Trump in jail yet?

User avatar
Gawdzilla Sama
Real Skeptic
Posts: 21989
Joined: Sun Jun 01, 2008 2:11 am
Custom Title: Deadly but evil.

Re: Consciousness arises due to awareness of others

Post by Gawdzilla Sama » Thu Jan 18, 2018 1:08 pm

I sat through Philosophy 101 in college. It just reinforced Heinlein's opinion.
Chachacha wrote:"Oh, thweet mythtery of wife, at waft I've found you!"
WWII Resources. Primary sources.
The Myths of Pearl Harbor. Demythologizing the attack.
Hyperwar. Hypertext history of the Second World War.
The greatest place to work in the entire United States.

Post Reply