M. - Conscious things can evaluate stuff and make a choice in how they respond. When I press "a" on my keyboard, "a" appears on the screen. But when I discuss with you, your answers are not programmed and predictable. Not exactly, at least.
G. - I love it, Michael, how you and I like to make little jabs at each other and yet underlying there is at least mutual respect.
No doubt our conversations would be fuller, richer and more enlightened if we could sit across from each other in an all night cafe and made adjustments to correct misperceptions in the moment.
Predictability exists in a pattern in human experience because there is sufficient build-up of stuck opinions to prevent a natural flow of change. I mean that generally now.
M. - Just had a thought re: your definition. Its not perfectly related to consciousness, but its a start. Conscious things usually have a CHOICE in how to respond. Unconscious things have NO CHOICE in how to respond.
Michael, to make communication clear, why not make distinctions between words, and fine-tune their definitions to their core meanings?
In my world, there is room to play with the idea that the 'will' of water to seek its own level for example is a CHOICE for the sake of the definition of primal consciousness -- possibly on the level of particles, atoms or molecules. Do two light hydrogen atoms attach to each 16-fold heavier oxygen atom to form a molecule of water, by an inherent choice in the properties? Is this universal law of choice linked by particles and waves to create something which appears in humans as what we call free will choice?
Does the molecule of water make a choice to abide by the natural laws of the planet? Can I say for sure either way? No. Am I free to play with the idea? Yes.
It is not a choice in the same sense that humans make deliberate choices. We are biological organisms and water is an element, so naturally our ways of functioning are not the same. If "Non-local consciousness is the fundamental process of information exchange," then the capacity of water to carry information is interesting to note. Not to make into a conclusion, but to note.
I still would distinguish the primary characteristic of consciousness as the capacity to respond -- a 'building block' for awareness and sentience and so on. It can join with other 'characteristics' such as will. Here it seems to me we are talking about a way of looking at the world and existence.
That brings me to science as a belief system. Science has a way of looking at the world which determines what it will see.
Is it accurate to say that modern science is influenced by Cartesian dualism and Newtonian empiricism?
Dualism -- "the division of something conceptually into two opposed or contrasted aspects, or the state of being so divided. -- "a dualism between man and nature"
Wikipedia says this about Newton,
'Despite his reputation for empiricism in historical and scientific circles, Newton was deeply religious and believed in the literal truth of Scripture, and believed the story of Genesis to be Moses' eyewitness account of the creation of the solar system. Newton reconciled his beliefs by adopting the idea that the Christian God set in place at the beginning of time the "mechanical" laws of nature which he observed in his studies, but retained the power to enter and alter that mechanism at any time.
'Newton further believed that the preservation of nature was in itself an act of God, stating that "a continual miracle is needed to prevent the Sun and fixed stars from rushing together through Gravity"
Michael, you wrote, "Science is not a 'belief system,' in the same sense that our eyes are not a 'belief system'."
You are saying that science is like our eyes.
Have your eyes ever deceived you?
Have you ever looked at an optical illusion?
M. - According to my definition, vague as it is, consciousness is what differentiates us from rocks. According to you, its what we have in common with rocks.
G. - Until I have reason to change my view, I am open-minded to the possibility that in a fundamental way, humans and rocks have in common a primal consciousness -- a capacity to respond and a primal will such as the 'will to exist.'
Atoms and sub-atomic particles perhaps in a rudimentary way make choices, such as to join together to form new compounds and when joined into molecules such as water, agree to abide by the natural laws of the planet.
Michael F Some points worth answering. G. - " I respect science and all other belief systems"
Science is not a "belief system", in the same sense that our eyes are not a "belief system". The law of gravity does not require BELIEF; whether you believe or not, things fall in a gravitational potential. Furthermore, anyone sufficiently motivated can verify the law of gravity for his or herself. You can make a pendulum, time the swings, and calculate the gravitational force yourself, and from that, you can calculate the moon's orbit and many more things. Currently, we are building vast machines to measure very, very fine things, all of which agree with prediction, more or less.
In contrast, the concept of "god" requires blind faith, because there is zero experimental proof. Worse; there are hundreds if not thousands of religious belief systems, all of which claim they are the sole truth, but all of which contradict each other. There are not thousands of different forms of science that contradict each other.
Had you said "I respect science, and I respect the many belief systems", I could have accepted that, but lumping science in with dianetics and mormonism and the moonie religion... Nope. That will not fly. And that is where you and me differ. I consider science to be the BASELINE reality - the stuff we are SURE of.
Then, on top of that, there is all sorts of stuff, some of which may be true, some not. I do not agree with any outlook that holds science and mormonism as equally valid. Science has paid its way in blood against blind faith - reason against unreason and demands for blind faith.
G. - "Throughout our conversation you derisively labeled me as a New Ager, which I am not."
M. - I have been unclear, and for that I apologize. The reason I used the phrase "new-ager" and not "you" is that I did not wish to get personal and attack you for your views, which, to be honest, I do not understand fully. So rather than attack you, I chose to debate the position of a hypothetical new-ager, of which there are many. Inasmuch as you share these views, yes, I am arguing against you. But inasmuch as you do not, I am not. I am arguing against the swallowing of claptrap willy-nilly, not against you as a person. In case this appears sophistry, it is not. There are others on this thread and not on this thread to whom these remarks are addressed. As I say, I dont know your beliefs enough to know that if you are one of them; I leave that to you to decide.
My remarks on amethyst preventing drunkenness are an example, and I used it specifically for this reason - you have said nothing about amethyst, so by using the amethyst example, I was making it clear that I wasnt attacking anything you said, but the blind trust in all sorts of junk from crystal therapy to gemstone magic.
Again, I wish to make it clear that there may be SOMETHING in these things, but there is so much garbage that the nuggets are hidden. I am not rejecting ALL new age stuff offhand, but there is a lot that I know is garbage. Not all "truths" are equal....
People have to clarify things. In the same way that medicine went from being quackery to being a profession.
G. - I would like to have at least explored the definition of fundamental consciousness as the capacity to respond to stimuli.
M. - I ignored that because I felt things were going down a rabbit-hole of semantic nonsense. If I kick a rock, it "responds" by flying away from me. So we need to distinguish "respond" as a "conscious response" and a "non-conscious response". So back to square one. When I press a key on my computer keyboard, the screen "responds".
All the usual definitions of consciousness have the same quality about them - they have to do with thought and awareness. But what is "awareness"? Ultimately, I know what I mean - more or less - by consciousness, and it is pretty much that which rocks have none of and we have lots of.
If you define consciousness as something that rocks have lots of, then we are clearly talking about different concepts and so to have a debate with you on the subject is meaningless, because regardless of what words we choose to define what we mean, we clearly mean different things.
According to my definition, vague as it is, consciousness is what differentiates us from rocks. According to you, its what we have in common with rocks.
And so therefore we can go no further. I attempted to explain to you about the need for complexity and change, things that the structure rock salt does not permit, but to go beyond that we would need to agree on basic definitions and we do not.
And that's the problem. I believe there is so much of use there, but its buried in so much dross that its useless. And that is a great sadness to me.
But not to strict atheists like Dawkins who see the level of claptrap involved as hastening the demise of the entire area.
Unlike him, I believe its worth investigating.
Unlike many new agers, I refuse to accept the patently ridiculous.
I want to find people I can discuss this stuff with, but I cant meaningfully discuss it with new agers who get offended when you question their faith, just as Christians do, and I cant meaningfully discuss it with strict scientists, because they dont think there is anything of use in it.
So I'm stuck. Most people are either an unquestioning swallower of nonsense or refuse to examine any of it.
And I believe both positions are mistaken.
Rod MacKinnon Gary, I have begun reading and re-rereading your Heart-Breathing and will be returning to it.... Reading HBS is almost a meditation in itself... I find myself smiling, almost laughing due to an inner sense of connection...very hard to explain but...here goes... Your description of awareness in/of the heart-space while quietly, naturally breathing resonates so strongly with me...It's almost exactly how I would describe my "default" meditation setting...both in my early-morning practice and in my moments of initiating a "conscious connection" with All during the day... Very simple...very, very pure...no agenda... simply choosing to "show up" and "be with" the way it is....
The word that comes to mind is "authenticity".... HBS seems to me a very clear, very authentic practice....Love it... I'll review the suggested additional ideas and practices...the initial basis is so simple, so natural... I can't think of one I've experienced that could be more so...it's imbued with your own clarity... What a privilege it is to know you...
Gary R Smith Hi Rod, Anytime you feel to question what I write or to offer insights, please do. You have contributed much to my process already, such as with your emphasis on simplicity, pragmatic usefulness and being in the Now.
Rod MacKinnon ....I was thinking of you this afternoon... I'm currently reading David Abram's "Spell of the Sensuous." .... He writes about developing awareness and reintegrating with the living world around us... becoming fully conscious that we are within the family of earth... I'm still in the early stages of reading but his ideas resonate for me... I believe much of the illness and dysfunction we experience as humans has to do with the way we relate to and behave toward the earth, ...