Unconscious or automaticity

Somebody has asked this question ;how do we characterise the unconscious as distinguished from the conscious ? Neural pathways which run with automaticity -are the same as unconscious ?

Actually automaticity does not mean unconscious necessarily. Only unconscious states are representations -that is they are about anything while automaticity means neural pathways running without being about anything. As an example ,the blood flow goes on with automaticity but it is not a representation or about anything.The unconscious means neural pathways running automatically but they are not about anything.
(Peter Lipton’s response)


What does the mind do in case it gets into a loop?

I have come across this interesting question in Askphilosophers.org.

A comparison is made between a computer programme and our own mind’s working.Here it is not even a comparison but assuming that the mind works like the computer an attempt is made to understand the possibility of the mind suffering from a similar limitation that a typical computer programme suffers from.We are talking about the “error out” situations when the computer sometimes embraces the blue screen of death and terminates the programme that is running at that moment. In such situations what does the mind do ? Does the mind get into endless loops refusing to move ahead with the job on hand ? Of course whatever happens has necessarily to be a short term phenomenon and the termination of the programme may not lead to a permanent inability to run the programme but the current job is lost.

One of the answerers has talked about the availability of different modules and the temporary incapacitation of one module will limit the damage to the particular module or lead to another module taking over its functioning.

Here is something that comes to my mind . I am involved in a series of short term dialogues with different people and all the while I am wrestling with the inner logic to arrive somewhere .I pursue a train of thought aided by words and going along in uncharted areas of thought  not knowing where the argument is ending up.I come into fascinating new areas the existence of which I have been entirely unaware .I keep hearing the drone of the inner logic entirely mesmerised and go on undisturbed by the tiny inconsistencies creeping up with the hope that the bigger wave of logical totality will come and wash away the  tiny pebbles .Very often such a thing happens on conclusion but some times I do get into a loop or a freeze of thought I have necessarily to cover up in order to make sense to the audience. Here I am confronted by something like a creative block , a paralysed state of mind which refuses to proceed further.

In such situations the argument gets cut short and no conclusions are drawn -something like what the computer programme does in “error out” situations.

Dance is an effort to extend human existence into the infinity of space

The human mind has this constant need to conform because it is otherwise free beyond any limitations that define structures governing human  activity.There is this need to be like everybody .The moment we are free we feel lost and disoriented in the vast wild wastes of logical possibility. Hence the defining structures.We always try to devise newer structures because we are afraid of being sucked into the uncertainty of the infinity,the kind of borderless existence that fills us with fear.Human existence is a matter of so much enclosed space with a dream which refuses to acknowledge contours. Art is a uniquely human endeavour to break down structures ,to demolish contours and become part of space which is not defined by any outlines. The only way such a thing is possible when the body disappears . Art is a death-like experience when the individual attempts to burst out of enclosed spaces.

Dance is an effort to extend  human existence into the infinity of space.When the dancer throws her limbs in space in her dance movements she extends the frontiers of her own enclosed space. The abstract artist demolishes the outlines of physical objects and abolishes form and structure in order to experience freedom. That is the only way one invents  freedom,the freedom which is hiding behind form and symmetry.When we dream on the side of our pillow we experience scary freedom ,when we disappear in the vastness of space . We have invented our God , a finite God with arms akimbo ,enclosed in the claustrophobic space of a human-like form because we are scared of an infinite God who is not enclosed in finite space.

What is progress ?

There is something about progress which has been bugging me.As somebody has said progress is always with reference to a benchmark in the past .In the 18 th century we had no cell phones Today we have cell phones -can we say this is progress .Apparently we may qualify progress here to denote growth in a particular aspect of human activity. But here again if define progress as a positive growth in a particular sphere of human activity,then progress here refers to the improvement in the quality of human communication as a result of the invention of the cell phones. Now that is controversial -because we are assuming that we are able to communicate better now with cell phones than without them . It does not mean that the quality of communication in the 18th century was much inferior to what it is now. The mind boggles and at the end we reach nowhere.

What part of my life would I die to be separated from-Ted Hughes

“You write interestingly only about the things that genuinely interest you. This is an infallible rule.. in writing, you have to be able to distinguish between those things about which you are merely curious -things you heard about last week or read about yesterday- and things which are a deep part of your life… So you say, `What part of my life would I die to be separated from?’ -Ted Hughes, Poetry in the Making

Humor comprehension gets reduced as part of aging

One of the fallouts of aging is recognised to be the inability or reduced ability to appreciate humor and sarcasm. When we talk of humor we talk about humor in situations as well as in dialogue. For example most old persons will not be able to supply a punchline to a joke. Likewise ,the ability to understand the nuances of a typically humorous situation may diminish as part of the general reduction in cognitive faculties experienced by old persons.

Similar thing seems to be happening in the case of  people suffering from developmental disorders. Humor is one of the highest traits of the fully evolved humans .Humor and wit are used by young men and women to attract their mates .

What are the dangerous ideas ? The Edge question

“Ideas have had their impact for good… But one of these days, one of those nice ideas is likely to have the unintended consequence of destroying everything we know.(Seth Lloyd)One never knows whether the same genetic predisposition which gives the homo sapiens the the power to think up ideas as against the other species has an inherent tendency towards self-destruction. Going by the 20th century history this does not seem to be a far-fetched idea because some times everything seems headed for the origination of such an idea.

The ‘dangerous ideas’ are not about harmful technologies and WMDs, but about statements of fact or policy evidenced by science, which are ‘felt to challenge the collective decency of an age.(The Edge)

We have religious fundamentalism which has spawned a commitment to an ideology based upon religion which goes counter to the sum total of what is good for all groups of people.We have Maoism based upon an armed peasant struggle committed to overthrow the political system.

“Time and again people have invested factual claims with ethical implications that today look ludicrous.” There are a few mercies, however. “Punishments have changed from torture and mutilation to cancelling of grants and the writing of vituperative reviews.

Rodney Brooks, author of ‘Flesh and Machines’, wonders if we might find ourselves to be alone, not just in the solar system, but in the galaxy. The shock could ‘drive us to despair and back toward religion as our salve,’

“The fact that our existence has no purpose for the universe – whatever that means – in no way means that it has no purpose for us,” he declares.

The only dangerous idea is, ‘the idea that ideas can be dangerous’. We live in a world in which people are beheaded, imprisoned, demoted, and censured simply because they have opened their mouths, flapped their lips, and vibrated some air, he rues. “Hateful, blasphemous, prejudiced, vulgar, rude, or ignorant remarks are the music of a free society, and the relentless patter of idiots is how we know we’re in one.”

A major disconnect between the ways our brains are wired to connect and the interface offered in online communications, he cautions. “The Internet may harbour social perils that our inhibitory circuitry was not evolutionarily designed to handle.