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Author Topic: Does your tarot deck have a consciousness?  (Read 11462 times)
Last Login:July 05, 2011, 07:38:17 am
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Religion: Dianic Pagan
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« Reply #22: January 25, 2010, 06:59:11 am »

This is actually a better question than one might think at first, because it brings up the deeper question of what consciousness IS -- where it comes from -- what makes it be.

Consciousness is unique. It's the only thing in the universe that we know is there, but can never observe. It is always the thing doing the observing, never the thing being observed.

Does the brain give rise to consciousness? But if so, what is there about the brain that could do that? We can see how the brain gives rise to intelligence, but intelligence and consciousness aren't the same thing. Consciousness can exist without intelligence, or at least without much of it (e.g. that of an insect or a fish), and in theory intelligence could exist without consciousness (e.g. a sophisticated computer program). (IF computers aren't conscious -- more in a bit.)

We can use scientific method to study the brain and its behavior, and this can give us all kinds of information as to sensory processing, reasoning, emotion, problem-solving, self-awareness, and basically everything that the brain does that is of the nature of something going on that we can watch. The problem about consciousness is that it ISN'T something going on that we can watch, and so scientific method can't even touch it. Even self-awareness, which you might think to be consciousness (or perhaps a higher mode of consciousness not available to things like bugs and fish) is a form of behavior: we observe a chimpanzee primping itself in a mirror and we say, "Oh, the chimp has self-awareness." No, the chimp only BEHAVES the way WE do because we have self-awareness; it's theoretically possible (although I don't think it's true) that the chimp is only going through the motions without any subjective consciousness being home. For that matter, it's theoretically possible that the same thing is true about every human being except me. (Or, from your perspective, every human being except you.)

Put another way: all the things that the brain does that we can observe are functions of information. Stimulus goes in, processing takes place, response comes out. All very mechanistic. Where in all of that is the indication of someone experiencing it from the inside? Because that is what consciousness is. And the answer is that objectively speaking, there is no such indication. The same thing could, as far as we know, be done by a sophisticated automaton.

Put yet another way: When you perform an action, say reading this post, I can (or could if I had you wired to the correct instruments) observe light going into your eye, nerve impulses going to your brain, your cognitive centers processing the words and thoughts, and perhaps composing a response. All from the outside looking in. But that's not how YOU experience it. You experience it from the inside looking out. That from-the-inside-looking-outness is what consciousness is. And since all the world that we observe is from the outside looking in, we can see no evidence (from the outside) that from-the-inside-looking-outness even happens. The only reason we know it does, is because it does for us. That is, for me. (And I assume it does for you, because we are similar in certain other ways. But I could be wrong about that! There's really no way to tell.)

SO: since we can find no evidence that consciousness -- i.e., from-the-inside-looking-outness -- even happens; since we take this on what amounts to faith -- we can't tell anything about where it comes from, either. Is it something that rises from the brain like bubbles from a sudsy bathtub? Or is it, rather, something is always present and that the brain merely gives a way to focus, like sunlight through a lens?

I incline to the latter view. The reason I do, is because when I look at someone else, even employing telepathic perception I can't see their consciousness, their from-the-inside-looking-outness. I can see (or rather feel) their emotions, but it's as if I were looking at those emotions from the outside, like warming myself (or burning myself) at a fire. So I know the emotions are there (and there are objective, non-magical ways to verify this as well), but I can't tell that anyone is inside feeling those emotions. But here's the thing: if consciousness were individual and part of the observed world, I should be able to see it. Since I can't, it must either not be part of the observed world, or else it must not be individual, and so I can't see someone else's consciousness because it's the same as my own consciousness (just focused through a different brain), and when I look at another person, whether with senses, scientific instruments, or magical perception, there's only one of us (in terms of consciousness) and it's doing the looking, not being looked at.

Even if what we had was an individual, supernatural "soul" that occupies a different world than this one, as long as it's interacting with this world we ought to be able to see that interaction. And we can't.

So what I believe is that consciousness is all One, the universe looking out through whatever lenses are available, simultaneously. Through my brain, through your brain, through the brains of animals and extraterrestrials, through computer programs and information processing instruments, through anything capable of informing consciousness -- the one and only consciousness -- in any way. And so, to the extent that a deck of tarot cards constitutes a means of processing information (which obviously it does), it is conscious. Or rather, the universe is conscious and the cards focus that consciousness, not so well as a human brain does, but in certain limited ways.

Are you familiar with the differences between the right hemisphere functionality and the left hemisphere?

« Last Edit: January 25, 2010, 08:02:02 am by Star, Reason: Fixing quote code » Logged

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