[ExI] Pain and anesthesia was Re: Possible seat of consciousness found

William Flynn Wallace foozler83 at gmail.com
Fri Feb 28 01:29:23 UTC 2020

Stuart wrote:  However, the mechanism by which an integrated self or ego
arises out
of a large and disparate, but coherent set of such motes of awareness
still eludes me.

Why Everyone (Else) Is a Hypocrite: Evolution and the Modular Mind
by Robert Kurzban

I just finished this book and was very interested in the data.  He makes a
pretty good case that there is no integrated self.  bill w

On Thu, Feb 27, 2020 at 7:15 PM Stuart LaForge via extropy-chat <
extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org> wrote:

> Quoting Henrik Ohrstrom:
> > Seems like the discussion is back at :
> > https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philosophical_zombie
> > Again........
> Indeed. Philosophical zombies seem to only exist in philosophy and not
> in reality. I think the reason is that in philosophy, something is
> either conscious or its not. In science, however, consciousness is a
> gradient with no sharp boundaries. Even a simple analog thermostat
> could be thought of as having a single "mote" of conscious awareness
> devoted entirely to monitoring the temperature of its environment. It
> seems fair to say that AlphaZero is aware of everything that
> transpires on its virtual game boards.
> However, the mechanism by which an integrated self or ego arises out
> of a large and disparate, but coherent set of such motes of awareness
> still eludes me.
> In any case, P-zombies are upon reflection a truly repugnant
> philosophical idea. The notion that a being that by every objective
> measure was intelligent and aware of its environment could be denied
> the dignity, rights, and consideration afforded to all conscious
> beings because of an arbitrary label that by definition is supposed to
> be assigned against evidence to the contrary is the premise of much
> dystopian and apocalyptic science fiction.
> > My personal take on this is that consciousness is variable and subject to
> > conditions surrounding the person/subject.
> > When I am stressed enough, tired enough or in other ways impaired (not
> > drunk since university) I do not think that I am properly conscious.
> >
> > At the same time I do know that I can exhibit a behaviour that my
> > surroundings interpretate as intelligent.
> I think everybody has days where they feel less conscious than others.
> It does lend evidence to the notion of a gradient of consciousness.
> > (How is that I know such things?
> > As an senior anesthetist, I do get to experience that level of stress
> more
> > often than I enjoy.)
> I had forgotten you were an expert on anesthesia. Your insights into
> anesthesia actually helped make the results of the Neuron paper by
> Redinbaugh et al a bit less strange to me.
> > Anyway if in an situation where your physical incarnation ( what is the
> > term for everything you that is not the conscious part ?)  needs to act
> > fast and follow a more or less automated program, then your consciousness
> > is a hindrance and if it interferes with proceedings you loose time and
> > effectiveness.
> What you are describing here is popularly referred to as a flow state,
> immersion, or being "in the zone". I think it is a specialized state
> of focused consciousness rather than a lack of consciousness per se.
> You are focused on a task or your environment rather than on your ego
> self.
> As far as a term for everything but the slow deliberate executive
> function of ego consciousness, I am unaware of any term of art more
> descriptive than the subconscious brain and body? Perhaps substrate?
> > So when writing a lecture my consciousness is up front, when my RN has
> > fumbled an intubation, or in the trauma room,  I most certainly am not
> > leading with conscious thought.
> > The rest of the day my conscious is dealing with logistics and some other
> > part of me is handling the hands on stuff.
> Have you never achieved a full immersion flow state while writing a
> lecture? How about when delivering one? I think I have in both writing
> and speaking as well as during driving or other manual tasks.
> [snip]
> > Can a subject with disputable consciousness feel the qualia of pain?
> > This is in the same category as tree fall forest sound stuff. If we block
> > the expression of pain in a sedated body (is there an consciousness? I
> > don't know) is there pain if there's no one to feel it?
> > Seems like there's not. When we quit sedation and allow whatever level of
> > consciousness to return, the patient do not express any signs of problems
> > related to the pain.
> This actually makes a lot of sense to me. If the pain signals can't be
> integrated into overall consciousness, then they cannot be remembered.
> So without integration, there is nobody home to feel and remember the
> pain. We become a bunch of separate sensory "thermostats" instead of a
> unified conscious self.
> > IE perform surgery on a patient who is treated with propofol ( hypnotic
> > agent with dubious pain effectiveness) block sympathetic response to pain
> > with ultrafast beta-blocker ( that is surgery without pain medication)
> and
> > both surgeon and patient are happy afterwards.
> > This always make me feel qualia-schmalia.......
> The monkeys in the Neuron paper were treated with propofol, yet when
> their thalamus was stimulated with an electrical current, they could
> reach for objects in their visual field and feel pain in response to
> toe-pinching. This suggests that the thalamus is responsible for the
> binding of nerve impulses into qualia that are perceived by conscious
> awareness. So the perception of qualia arise from disparate nervous
> signals in the same fashion (and perhaps using the same mechanism)
> that a perceived unified self arises from a billions of separate
> neurons all doing their own thing. That is amazing.
> Stuart LaForge
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