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Thread: Understanding Consciousness: Awareness vs. Attention

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    Super Moderator ruby sparks's Avatar
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    Cop,

    I do not know what is causing the shifts in attention, but my guess would be that it is automatic. Perhaps that is the wrong word. I mean it just happens as part of the system running through its evolved and learned patterns. I ventured to suggest above that attention may be related to the duration, intensity and/or significance (perhaps in terms of survival or related priorities) of stimuli. Beyond that guess, I don't know.

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    Super Moderator ruby sparks's Avatar
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    In the case of the Necker Cube, I might guess that the trigger for a viewer system to shift its perception is the system 'trying to get it right', because the system functions better in the world if it gets the world 'right' (eg working out what's in the foreground and what's in the background).

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    Super Moderator ruby sparks's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DBT View Post
    Attention is awareness, it is a state of awareness focused upon an object of interest.
    Would it be better to say that conscious awareness is attention?

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    Mazzie Daius fromderinside's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ruby sparks View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by DBT View Post
    Attention is awareness, it is a state of awareness focused upon an object of interest.
    Would it be better to say that conscious awareness is attention?
    No. We'd have to correct about 180 years of psychophysics.

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    Elder Contributor DBT's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ruby sparks View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by DBT View Post
    Attention is awareness, it is a state of awareness focused upon an object of interest.
    Would it be better to say that conscious awareness is attention?
    Meh, semantics. By definition, to be aware you must be conscious. There appears to be a lot of overlap.

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    Screwtape Subsymbolic's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DBT View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by ruby sparks View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by DBT View Post
    Attention is awareness, it is a state of awareness focused upon an object of interest.
    Would it be better to say that conscious awareness is attention?
    Meh, semantics. By definition, to be aware you must be conscious. There appears to be a lot of overlap.
    Blindsight.

    Next, why isnt the necker cube shifting priming rather than shifting attention?

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    Veteran Member Treedbear's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Copernicus View Post
    ...
    The brain is a machine that continuously receives and interprets different types of sensations. It is aware of these sensations subconsciously, but it selectively pays attention to them. Awareness of the simultaneity of sensations gives meaning to words like "here" and "now". That awareness of simultaneous sensations is what we understand the present tense of verbs to refer to. Words like "then" and "there" contrast the present with a remembered simultaneity or "situation". So the mind "situates" reality on the basis of comparing and contrasting its ongoing sensorium with memories and imagination. Situated awareness is always a part of the "background noise" in our stream of consciousness.

    To understand what consciousness is, you have to consider how attention works. Different types of unattended awareness (seeing, hearing, touching, tasting, etc.) are going on all the time in a brain, but they are "subconscious". They take place in the dark, so to speak. When the mind focuses attention on some singular instance of awareness, it is like shining a flashlight on something in the dark. Suddenly that thing springs into the foreground. This flashlight of consciousness can be focused anywhere on background "subconscious" awareness, so who is holding that light and why does that agent illuminate different places in its sensorium or running train of thought?
    ...
    Here's some of my thoughts on the subject from previous posts:
    Quote Originally Posted by Treedbear View Post
    ... As I've said before, I see the brain as a model-making machine. It somehow creates models of things in its environment and it can do so subconsciously. Actually mostly subconsciously. In other words it acts like a machine. I see the self (and by inference the conscious awareness of self) as a model that develops from a very young age. Before one is even aware of what a brain is. It's like an interactive book used to keep records of past behavior in order that the brain can predict what the self is likely to do in the future. The will represents the predicted outcome. I predict I'll choose chocolate when I go out for ice cream. When the prediction turns out to be wrong and I come back with vanilla it's because "I changed my mind", when in fact it was just a bad guess. So consciousness can effect the outcome but it doesn't control it anymore than a character in a book does. But it's not an illusion. It ceases to be an illusion when one realizes its an abstract representation. Just like all the other things we know of. We know things by their relationships to other things. Not as some absolute essence. So the bottom line is that consciousness can have a purpose and yet not be the source of one's motivation, or will.
    Quote Originally Posted by Treedbear View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by veclock View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Treedbear View Post

    My own evolving theory of consciousness is that it has to do with how the human brain, and brains in general, create models of their environment. For humans, at least, one of these models is of the self. Actually it's difficult for me to see how an organism could survive within it's environment without some way to recognize it's own existence. So this is the minimum requirement for me to consider any system as being conscious. Its the ability to be aware of at least two models and to compare and contrast them and catagorize them as independent in some way. Understand how brains create models and we will be able to explain consciousness.
    ...
    It's important to differentiate between awareness and consciousness.
    I agree, that's the main problem in a nutshell. I've gotten part way there by postulating that the self is only a model, in the same way as the brain creates any model. And the characteristics of the self are based on, for the most part, the various other human beings we identify as similar to what we experience about ourselves. Our immediate family for the most part. It's really the reverse of the "theory of mind" hypothesis, wherein I supposedly recognize consciousness in others in the ways they interact similarly to the way I do. But I think it's really the opposite case. My own identity is based on (and constantly changes in response to) those I see around me. The difference between this particular model and all the others is that there is so much more to be aware of, on a continuous basis, and from a largely privileged perspective. I would say awareness is just one step above perception while consciousness is a special category of awareness. Perception describes the singular nature of an experience. Awareness is the perception of one thing with respect to another. Consciousness is the awareness of one thing with respect to this thing we call the self.

    ...

    One last thing about what you called "an inner experience, an inner feeling". I think all feelings come down to levels of anxiety vs serenity. Anxiety is counterproductive at the fundamental level. Generally anxiety needs to be minimized, and I think the brain has evolved mainly in response to that need. Anxiety reflects an excessive use of energy and the creation of excess heat within the brain. I think there must be a primal need to minimize overall levels of anxiety. Therefore we identify various flavors of good feelings with harmony and serenity and bad feelings with conflict and anxiety. Of course its more complicated that this when we consider the larger picture and the long term benefits that short term anxiety can bring. But feelings largely reflect how ideas and experiences effect our own survival.
    Have to go. Back on Monday.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ruby sparks View Post
    In the case of the Necker Cube, I might guess that the trigger for a viewer system to shift its perception is the system 'trying to get it right', because the system functions better in the world if it gets the world 'right' (eg working out what's in the foreground and what's in the background).
    The Necker Cube is an easy demonstration to show that we can change our perspective purposefully.

    The question is: When one cube changes to another on command what is giving the command?

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    Super Moderator ruby sparks's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by untermensche View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by ruby sparks View Post
    In the case of the Necker Cube, I might guess that the trigger for a viewer system to shift its perception is the system 'trying to get it right', because the system functions better in the world if it gets the world 'right' (eg working out what's in the foreground and what's in the background).
    The Necker Cube is an easy demonstration to show that we can change our perspective purposefully.

    The question is: When one cube changes to another on command what is giving the command?

    Ok I'll guess. The little man inside your head?

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    Elder Contributor DBT's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Subsymbolic View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by DBT View Post

    Meh, semantics. By definition, to be aware you must be conscious. There appears to be a lot of overlap.
    Blindsight.
    Blindsight is an aberration, the brain acquires the necessary information to form vision but responds to it unconsciously. Many forms of response are unconscious, nerve loops/ reflex actions, for example. But I wasn't talking about unconscious response.


    Quote Originally Posted by Subsymbolic View Post
    Next, why isnt the necker cube shifting priming rather than shifting attention?
    We are looking at the cube, we are conscious of it, we are aware of the cube and while we are aware of the cube our perspective shifts from one interpretation of the image to another, forward, back, up, down, as we are focused on the image at the exclusion of our immediate surroundings (unfocused), we gaze intently upon the image and its apparently shifting perspective, we are in a state of attention,

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