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Thread: Existence and all that

  1. #73
    Heavenly Creature
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    All creatures need a well-developed consciousness in order to survive. Whether they are self-aware in quite the same way that we are, is another matter. We (humans) can be aware of ourselves in the abstract, in order to plan consciously.

    Animals may only be self aware to the degree that they follow the promptings of the immediate senses, which in turn are gathering information from the immediate environment. (Occasionally we find humans that are like this too, of course).

    Many experiments have been done to determine that most animals have little or no ability for abstract thought, which is what tends to set us apart from them. Abstract thought brings with it the ability for communicating complex thought processes, such as planning, which can bring us many advantages over those species which do not possess it.
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  2. #74
    Non of this matters NomadicRT's Avatar
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    Since we're not able to communicate with other species in any meaningful way we have no real knowledge of what they think or if they have a complex consciousness similar to ours.We assume their behaviour is purely 'automated' in response to their environment or instinct.We dont know for sure.Plenty of species display an ability to plan.or strategise to achieve a result and work together im teams or alone problem solving.They have the ability to design or use things they find, as tools.
    We actually know so very little about our own species and the way our brains work so i guess its logical for us to assume other species are inferior to us in the realms of abstract thought...Maybe one day theyll prove us wrong when we learn how to communicate on their level.
    Hebridean at heart..everywhere else is just somewhere on the way back there...
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  3. #75
    Radiant Being Sootyfoot's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by NomadicRT
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    Since we're not able to communicate with other species in any meaningful way

    seems fitting again I suppose....
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    Those Mountains that you're carrying, you were only supposed to climb.
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  4. #76
    FORM FROM THE VOID Danann's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by oldkeith
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    All creatures need a well-developed consciousness in order to survive. Whether they are self-aware in quite the same way that we are, is another matter. We (humans) can be aware of ourselves in the abstract, in order to plan consciously.

    Animals may only be self aware to the degree that they follow the promptings of the immediate senses, which in turn are gathering information from the immediate environment. (Occasionally we find humans that are like this too, of course).

    Many experiments have been done to determine that most animals have little or no ability for abstract thought, which is what tends to set us apart from them. Abstract thought brings with it the ability for communicating complex thought processes, such as planning, which can bring us many advantages over those species which do not possess it.
    I Was Told Before By A Professor That I Only Ever T
    "Abstract Think" And "Abstract See And Feel And Sense" But On A Very Deep Higher Level Of Rare Unsual "Abstract Thinking" That He Never Seen Or Heard Off Before And I Never "Conctete Think" Either He Said To Me...hahahahahaha...
    He Even Wanted To Use Me "For A Case Study" OldKeith...Truly That Is True hahaha
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    I Said To Him "Do I Be Looking Like I (Squeak)?? " ..
    He Then Made His Eyebrows Join Together And Wrinkle Up His Head Looking Muddled ...Until I Said ..
    "I Maybe Many Things But I Be Not A "Guinie Pig"!!! Hahahahaha...

    And Got Out Of The Room As Fast As I Could Bounce hahahahahaha
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  5. #77
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    Originally Posted by NomadicRT
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    Since we're not able to communicate with other species in any meaningful way we have no real knowledge of what they think or if they have a complex consciousness similar to ours.We assume their behaviour is purely 'automated' in response to their environment or instinct.We dont know for sure.Plenty of species display an ability to plan.or strategise to achieve a result and work together im teams or alone problem solving.They have the ability to design or use things they find, as tools.
    We actually know so very little about our own species and the way our brains work so i guess its logical for us to assume other species are inferior to us in the realms of abstract thought...Maybe one day theyll prove us wrong when we learn how to communicate on their level.
    I fully respect your views, because we are constantly discovering new things about the animal world every year.

    However, the type of abstract thinking we do, and the way it ties in with our intelligence, places us in quite a different order to what we have as yet discovered about any other species on the planet. We must not confuse this ability with any kind of morality, real or imagined. Some of us humans help each other at every opportunity, others single-mindedly kick their way towards the top of society. Both might have the same degree of abstract intelligence.

    From our human point of view, we tend to rate animal intelligence, particularly abstract intelligence, from the way we observe how an animal, or an animal species, operates in its environment, whether that be an artificial or a natural one.
    Some creatures show examples of how to use crude tools; whether they have figured how to do this themselves, or whether they have learned it from others of their species, or if it could possibly have been passed on genetically, a la Lysenko, is not known.
    Usually, when animals work in teams, it is for purposes of hunting or gathering. Sometimes they huddle together for warmth. All these things are described by science as instinctive, as genetic improvements that have taken place over ages of natural selection. (Those who might prefer to sit on their own in the bitter cold would die out, and their genes governing such behaviour would not be passed on; those who refused to hunt larger creatures in a pack would starve if no smaller prey was available, and their genes governing this would likewise perish). Much of our own behaviour is instinctive in similar ways, of course, because we are animals. But we may also be something else.
    The huge disparity between our human intelligences generally, and that of our (possibly) nearest animal forebears, is a gigantic one. There are those scientists who say that, if evolutionary theory is correct, we have not been here nearly long enough to have naturally evolved to what we are. Perhaps we have been here very much longer than we think, or even dream of. Perhaps there has been intervention. At this stage, we do not know. It is a fascinating subject.
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  6. #78
    Non of this matters NomadicRT's Avatar
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    .... Yes
    Hebridean at heart..everywhere else is just somewhere on the way back there...
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  7. #79
    Off the beaten track .... Maxal's Avatar
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    You raise a lot of good points Oldkeith. One is not to confuse ability with morality in measuring human achievement. And that people are different some good and some bad. I have often wondered how much good or bad there is. When you think of the scales of justice symbol, or consider of the duality of good and evil, you can assume there is a 50 50 thing going on. Other times when there has been a disaster, you witness how ‘everybody’ rushes in to help, and it is life affirming (well beyond 50 50), you can think well people are basically good at heart. Then you see the US elections, (not that Hilary was the most ideal candidate, I preferred Bernie), and you wonder why so many people voted for a pompous salesman. IE, he’s not even a qualified politician, doesn’t have any sense of humanism or philosophy. I’m not saying ‘I hate Trump’ (but I can say I don’t like him.). And more than Trump, the fact that he is president is because the people voted him in. It’s not Trump’s fault at all, he is a product of his surrounds and the people voted him in. Trump reveals something about people at the moment. We need to look more at those people – not Trump.


    I say all this about quantifying Good v Evil in humanity, because I can’t get away from the idea, that conscious humans should evolve, and surely at some point the evolution has to consider the greater good of being (whatever that entails). And, then, I think the big lesson will be, and this sounds so tried and jaded, the common people need to rise and declare that the leaders are seriously getting it wrong. Hopefully leaders are riding a wave which will soon crash. I’m getting into a hopeless tangent . . .

    You also mentioned the possible age of humanity, we might be more ancient. Science is limited to whatever evidence it finds, so if there are undiscovered, older human skull out there, they don’t feature in our body of knowledge. Equally if man came from outer space, then without the evidence it doesn’t feature within our body of scientific knowledge (erich von daniken aside). However, it can feature in our body of ‘knowledge’ if we don’t stick to just empirical science, and can use deduction, belief, religion . . . and no doubt a lot of things all get mixed up. Some people for instance think Jesus doesn’t exist, because they see Jesus as being biblical mythology, part of religion. They don’t realise religion is tied in with historical fact and have no sense of history. Conversely, there are fundamentalists in middle America who don’t believe in evolution, or think the earth is much younger than it is.


    What tools we use to interpret Existence, Earth, humans, history, purpose, whether spiritual or practical . . . drastically affects each individuals ‘body of knowledge’. There are billions of living humans, they can all be born randomly (or there might be some reincarnation law I don’t know about following a grand plan). Some people will be in places where the ‘body of knowledge’ is at the forefront, others where it is very rudimentary, some where it is contrived. For instance, the director of Koyanisqaatsi, I believe was born in a monastery, and had lived in this secluded monastery up to his teens. I think he’d made his film with very little knowledge of what a film should be, so the film would come more from his personal vision and whatever he’d learned in his contrived monastery surroundings. There is a tribe in South America that does this with a select group of children. Some individuals will be born on the planet in much poorer conditions, with basic education, a limited number of books, their perception will thus be affected.


    Individually humans are so disparate, in whether they are 1.) good, evil or arrogant, 2.) intelligent, wise, or stupid, 3.) attractive, funny, serious. Yet collectively we say humans are . . . and I suppose it has something to do with the sum total, surely a lot of it cancelling the other out – that could be why Buddha laughs so much.


    Humans are a group, and however clumsily, can be described. Partly the huge variation potentiality is the proof of our evolutionary achievement. And though it is a human measuring this achievement, we are linked with animals and plants – they are not total aliens. We have a physical, spiritual and real evolutionary link to everything. With compassion / sound reasoning, it is not absurd to try to learn / imagine the being of another entity. I itemise compassion because, for example, there are scientists who debated whether chickens are sentient creatures – it would then have real repercussions on farming practice – money, money, money. If some say ‘we can’t get into the mind of’ a dog, or further back, an ant, a mushroom, a blade of grass. Then similarly some could say, ‘men can’t understand women’ or narrow it further, we can’t understand each other. So, many times, the ‘leap of faith’ comes into it. What do you believe in your gut? I think there are some people who understand themselves worse than they do others. There are some women who are more masculine than some men. To think that each gender is essentially one thing, separate to the other is absurd. Consider the gender roles of Amazonian men and women. Some human traits are more divisive than gender: A female Persian slave in Greece, would have much more in common with a male Persian slave than with Celine Dion. Reach out and observe, and a lot can be learned, no doubt mistakes can also be made.



    On this site, and particularly this thread, our backgrounds, comparatively, are quite similar. The ‘body of knowledge’ referred to above, is not so alien. Most of us know where each other’s coming from. There is quite a good level of agreement.



    The forum question is about existence as a whole, so not just humans, but inevitably, part of that is the assessment of existence through human perception. I think this is why the greatness of human achievement is critical to the subject. As human accomplishment has been so massive, sometimes it is hard to get away from a humancentric interpretation. Theologically, for the religions with human gods (not animist religions) the whole purpose of existence is a human one. We can actually leave earth, true the cost and purpose of that might make you wonder as to the true accomplishment there, but laughing at it Buddhalike doesn't really diminish the achievement. My way of thinking is of a mixture of methods. I am not religious, but I am not stuck to only believing what can be empirically proven. I use all sorts of knowledge, a lot of it imagined.


    When I say the greatness of human achievement, weighing that achievement is complex. A strong part of me does laugh at it along with Buddha, in that laugh there is joy and despair. What good is all that achievement when the benefit is so exclusive. Going to the moon, having a yacht, traveling around the globe; and for the poorest who don’t have clean water, clothes a library – what is the good? A lot of the material things or opportunities are not accessible to everybody. However, the ‘body of knowledge’, consciousness, continually grows. [Does consciousness have girth?] Especially now with the internet increasingly available (not to people in deprived or contrived areas – by contrived I mean with distorted beliefs or some kind of controlling / contrived mechanism, like the monastery example above).
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  8. #80
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    You bring many good points to the table, Maxal. It would be difficult to discuss them all here, but all have a bearing on our topic.

    Just to mention people and their general morality. This is an odd thing to try to quantify. Normally I feel that the greater part of us humans are good at heart, and I like to think that most of us would help one another if circumstances permitted.
    However, as you observed about Trump and voting for Trump, there does seem to be a more selfish attitude within some societies at the present time. This has much to do with constant materialistic propaganda, of course. It may also have to do with the fact that many ordinary people in society now own far more, individually, than they would have at any time in the past, and they are fearful of seeing that taken away from them, and hence grow more selfish to some degree.
    By 'owning far more' I mean relatively small things, like a house, a car or van, a few grand in a bank, or a small piece of land. Our forebears were more or less slaves until half-way through the last century. Today, most of us are still economic slaves, but we have more chance of 'owning' something than ordinary people who lived before us. Recently, that chance of 'ownership' has been growing less; and perhaps collectively we feel we have been put on a downtown train to slavery again.

    Re individual humans evolving, I like to think (hope!) that we are somehow evolving spiritually, or morally, as we experience life here. I have seen this in several individuals I have known over a long period of time, and it is heartening.

    But in a broader way, societies also evolve, they have their time, and they usually collapse and give way to others. So it is with animal species, and with life generally.

    To come back to our topic of existence - perhaps if there is any purpose to existence, it is that of experience, in many forms.
    And if there is no purpose to existence, there are certainly many lifeforms taking advantage of the opportunity to gain experience...
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  9. #81
    Non of this matters NomadicRT's Avatar
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    By chance -or possibly not- this appeared on my facebook feed
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    Hebridean at heart..everywhere else is just somewhere on the way back there...
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  10. #82
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    Yes, our old friend the octopus, beloved of science-fiction writers and film-makers, from H.G Wells 'War of the Worlds' to the recent film 'Arrival'.
    There are a number of reasons why people think of an octopus when they are asked to try to imagine an alien lifeform totally different from human beings. One of these is the undoubted octopus intelligence - or is it cunning? The two are not the same by any means, but there are many humans, at least, in which the two are almost inextricably linked.
    Another reason is the purely alien look of the octopus, somewhat terrifying to the human eye.

    While the intelligence of the octopus - and the rather more friendly dolphin - have been measured to some extent, it is rather more difficult to assess their degree of abstract intelligence. It is this latter which makes us rather different from everything else here. There is no reason why octopuses - or octopodes - shouldn't be capable of some degree of abstract thought, it is just that so far there have been few manifestations of it, along with most other species here.

    Animals, so far as we know, are reasonably good at thinking about particular things. Whether it is hunting prey, or recognising better bits of pasture, or seeing a nice warm freshly-raked seed bed to crap in. We would probably class this as common-sense in recognising things, and using that recognition to advantage. This is just basic evaluation of immediate environment, using memory and recognition, of course.
    All life evaluates and discriminates between choices in order to survive. Even plants and bacteria are capable of behavioral discrimination, because bacteria tend to swim in the direction of the most healthy chemical gradients, and plants tend to turn to the sunlight.
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  11. #83
    Non of this matters NomadicRT's Avatar
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    The octopus is on its own for full on weirdness...9 brains,3 hearts blue blood,no skeleton but a hard beak and exceptionally imtelligent.
    Hebridean at heart..everywhere else is just somewhere on the way back there...
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  12. #84
    Off the beaten track .... Maxal's Avatar
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    And of course there is the triffid


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  13. #85
    Off the beaten track .... Maxal's Avatar
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    NomadicRT - Yes, that is weird about the Octopus. I guess, with it being a creature that can be pulled apart, then it is less likely to die if it has extra brains and hearts. The brain, though, we tend to see as the 'home' of consciousness. With Chang and Eng, they had two brains, and you tend to think of 2 x consciousnesses. Does an octopus have 9 x consciousnesses? Some will shout you can't know, you can't know! Big deal, I'm going to guess. I'd say no, maybe the brains are interconnected somehow, forming one consciousness, otherwise it'd always be in nine minds about whether to do something - I'll stay at home and do some dusting. No, I'll go to the disco and teach that starfish a thing or two about dancin, no, I just want to sit and think, go with the flow, whatever, I just can't decide, I'm all over the place and nowhere at the same time. The octopus has some serious identity problems and a long way to go before reaching Zen Unity.

    The article was good about many things, it mentioned the problem that recurrs, [There’s no clear way of evaluating consciousness in other animals (or in other humans, for that matter—it’s quite possible that you’re the only conscious being alive and everyone you know is merely displaying signs of consciousness rather than truly experiencing it). But we can certainly make educated guesses.] This is a point, I agree with strongly, solipsism is interesting to consider, but if I were the only being I think I'd do things differently, get a helicopter etc. The article emphasizes we can make educated guesses. These are critical, otherwise you can stumble on one thing and go no further. I am the centre of consciousness, this is it, I understand everything already Well, no, I can make a considered judgement here, all those people out there exist in a similar way I do, let's try these actions, note the reactions and proceed.

    And it states [It’s important to figure out whether consciousness is “an easily produced product of the universe” or “an insanely strange fluke, a completely weird anomalous event,” says Godfrey-Smith. Based on the current evidence, it seems that consciousness is not particularly unusual at all, but a fairly routine development in nature. “I suspect animal evolution, if were replayed again, it would produce subjectivity of a somewhat similar kind,” he adds. “You can see why it makes biological sense.”]

    That's interesting. I saw a nature documentary about the oceans, David Attenborough I think. This episode was about some deep under-ocean volcanoe erruptions. Because the erruptions were deep and in the water, it was very high pressure, high temperature and constant. They found life in these conditions. This is all memory so I may have bits wrong, I think they were claiming this was at least a different branch of evolution, if not totally separate (I think they were claiming it to be totally separate), and I think it was carbon-based. Alien to us.

    All these different life forms, different shapes, starfish, pigs, dragon flies, aardvarks, daffodils, they are all such distinct beings. There doesn't seem to be any mushiness in between. I don't mean jellyfish mushy. I mean missing link stuff. It's strange what we know, the more you think about it - does it really make sense. It's hard to look at a camel and not laugh. They're so odd.
    Last edited by Maxal; 14-08--2017 at 03:44 PM.
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  14. #86
    Existence.

    I'm not sure that the ' I' that is the 'me' exists in a pleurally visual and linguistic plane that is universally observable.

    The I that is the me has to make judgements about the rest of existence that may be unseen and unheard for one reason or another....

    The I that is the me would be troubled by pondering why understanding has not been progressed and might continue ad infinitum to attempt recognition and effective linguistic response........

  15. #87
    Radiant Being Lightbringer's Avatar
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    When I think of an alien, I think of paul (the movie) I would sooo get high with an alien!


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