Discussion in 'Skeptiko Shows' started by alex.tsakiris, Jan 2, 2015.
I'm really looking forward to this one. Pls let me know any thought/questions.
Alex, I hadn't heard about this, so I'm listening to this video presentation.
There is an interesing editorial review at amazon
I think someone like him, an ordinary person who mediates a moderate amount of time a day would be a great counterpoint to the Jefery Martin interview. His experience is much more relevant to the average person and creates a much more realistic expectation of what meditation can do for the average person. I would ask questions like:
What meditation tradition do you practice?
How do you do the technique?
How do you find time to meditate?
Has it affected your relationships with people?
What was it like to go on a meditation retreat?
How long was it?
How many hours per day did you meditate?
What else did you do when not meditating?
What were the accommodations/food etc like?
Did they maintain strict discipline?
Have you noticed any unexpected side effects like increased synchronicities or intuitions since you started meditating?
Where there any negative consequences or unpleasant side effects from meditating?
Has it changed you views on religion or spirituality?
Besides being happier, has it changed you emotionally?
I would also point out that he has only been meditating for a few years. In 20 or 30 years he will be a very different subject for an interview, so you might want to plan on doing another interview in the future if he keeps up his practice.
??? I'm not seeing the relevance of an ABC reporter's (or anyone for that matter) experience with mediation as stress-relief to Psi or any of the other major topics discussed on Skeptiko. Meditation as stress relief is widely accepted by the status quo.
What's next - interviewing someone who found yoga helped them become more flexible? Yes that's sarc but I really don't see any relevance , benefit or boundary pushing in this interview. What might I be overlooking?
The other posts are "pinned" so they stay at the top - look at the icon
sorry. fixed now.
this is great... but kinda funny. I may be seeing this interview totally differently than you guys. I'll post more after Tuesday.
I'm getting excited to see Skeptiko 3.0 starting to emerge... more later.
If consciousness can influence the brain, then consciousness cannot be an illusion or an epiphenomenon and therefore materialism must be false.
I can't put my finger on it. But this argument feels to have an element of circularity about it. At any rate I certainly don't find it a satisfying argument.
??? Okay, the actuality is that all of the physical is an expression of primary consciousness.
That said, what you posit is silly. No one . .no one . .argues that meditation doesn't produce effects on the brain. There have even been many brain scans showing that. That in no way is evidence that consciousness isn't produced by the brain. In fact, one could more logically argue that meditation (of the stress relief sort) is evidence that the brain does produce consciousness.
Meditation is being conscious of the activity of the mind. When you meditate you observe the activity in your mind. When you make these observations it is a subjective experience like feeling warm, or seeing the color blue. You can't meditate if you are not conscious.
Meditation, consciousness of the activity of the mind, has been shown to alter the arrangement of cells in the brain. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1569494/?tool=pubmed) If you are conscious a TV show these changes don't occur, but if you are conscious of he activity of your mind they do occur.
Since consciousness can alter the brain, consciousness cannot be an illusion produced by the brain or an epiphenomenon of the brain (an epiphenomenon is a phenomenon that cannot change the phenomenon that causes it) consciousness must be real.
Eliminative materialism states that consciousness is an illusion so eliminative materialism must be false.
Consciousness cannot be explained as an emergent property of the brain. Emergent properties are the result of other known properties and have to be explainable through the characteristics of those properties. But, there is no way to explain how a subjective experience like what the color blue looks like can be caused by any physical properties or physical processes. How can changing ion potentials across membranes in brain cells make the sky appear blue as we perceive blue? We can explain how the visual system can distinguish something different about different colors, but there is no way to explain why colors look the way they do. Consciousness is fundamentally different from anything physical.
I have several articles on my blog that go into some of these issues in more detail:
Given that both your premise and your conclusion are incorrect I'm sorry to read that. You're barking up the wrong tree. Oh and BTW, materialism does not hold that consciousness is an illusion - just that it is generated by physical means.
The question of how does someone retain memories in a NDE are extremely important for society and science. This persistent phenomenon along with the research by Dr Julie Beischel on mediumship poses a serious question about the nature of consciousness. There may come a time when a shift occurs for the acceptance of a non material paradigm. On an individual level however, there's a lot to be said in favor of Zen Buddhism, for it avoids all this 'stuff'. It prefers not to posit anything about brain/mind. I believe the core of Zen Buddhist meditation is that these questions we throw out are ultimately unanswerable in a personal realization kind of way. The only reality we can grasp is the reality of this moment and the essence of this is formless. Still, I embrace what Alex is doing. The description of kinds of meditation being experienced along with states of mind by different persons are being fleshed out here in these recent podcasts.
I believe even the Finders Course is using a meditation technique as a focal point to achieve its aims. There is meditation which uses techniques and meditation which is not a technique but a state of being. Location 3 and 4 may require this state of being.
Re: meditation changing the brain physically, if you haven't, you really must read Dr. Jeffrey Schwartz's book The Mind and the Brain. It's really a great book for understanding exactly what is meant by mind changing matter. Definitive? No. But compelling nonetheless.
I don't understand what could be circular about consciousness changing the physical brain indicating a non-brain based explanation for consciousness. Where, exactly has it been documented that a single inanimate object (seeing as the materialistic paradigm insists we are nothing more than a fancy computer, I'd say calling ourselves inanimate isn't much of a stretch) has "rewired" itself?
If one starts out by assuming that consciousness is non-physical, then one has shown that something non-physical has changed the brain. On the other hand, if one starts out by assuming that consciousness is physical, then one has shown that something physical has changed the brain. Hardly a definitive line of reasoning, since the conclusion directly follows from what one believes at the outset.
Ok, so then how about this logic: a blind physical process is directing a physical process to change a second blind physical process into a different blind physical process. The problem with the physicalist explanation is that you just cannot avoid the issue of emergence. Which, btw, IMHO is just a fancy term given to a phenomenon that we really do not understand in order to make us feel like we do understand but truthfully we have merely labeled it. Some kind of order arising out of pure physical process is emergence. But exactly how you can take a blind, undirected series of processes that sort of magically come together to greater complexity is still a mystery. Science has not explained this. They labeled it and called it good. Science has absolutely no understanding of how order can come of chaos, NTM the astronomical probabilities involved for such order. Don't mistake me for a creationist, I'm not. But these are some serious issues with the materialistic explanation for life, reality, consciousness, etc. that need a real effort put forth at explaining these things. I think that is why many of us are here at Skeptiko. A general dissatisfaction in the way in which science has become dogmatic, and fails to follow the evidence, regardless of where it leads.
In order for the brain to produce a specified subjective experience, there must be feedback from consciousness to the brain in order for the brain to learn to do it. This learning could not happen if consciousness was an illusion.
If you are told to imagine the color green you could not do that if the experience of green was just an illusion. In order for the brain to be able to imagine specific colors, it must first learn to do so, and to learn that there must be influence from consciousness to brain. If consciousness was just an illusion the interaction would be one way. You would feel like you knew what the brain was doing but the brain would never know what you felt it was doing. You wouldn't be able to learn to imagine specific colors because the brain wouldn't know what color, if any, it caused an illusion of. But since we can imagine specific colors, there must be influence from consciousness to the brain, so consciousness cannot be an illusion.
If someone tells you to meditate, and you comply, the brain produces the subjective experience of observing and knowing the activity of the mind. After producing this subjective experience the brain changes. The brain has learned from producing a subjective experience. These changes, learning, could not occur if consciousness was an illusion.
We have to go back to the definition of consciousness. You seem to be confusing 2 distinct notions. First, I don't disagree with your basic premise. For myself, I look to the data on NDE and mediumship as well as remote viewing and etc, etc. I just don't see the logic of your argument. First, the case could be made that the brain changes in response to the conditioning experience, such as motor engrams from handwriting to playing the violin to compulsive behavior, or even disease processes such as Alzheimers.There's nothing conclusive that consciousness is some external influence. On this most recent quote above, consciousness can be construed as part of the brain's feedback loop. The brain perceives the internal/external world. It's called consciousness. Lets go with that simple idea. The material connection between the brain and consciousness becomes much more complicated in a case of a child being born blind from birth, then later regaining their sight through some means, such as surgery. Because the material visual cortex was not allowed to properly develop and integrate it's function with the other cognitive components, during early development, visual agnosia for the most part results, but not in all cases There's 2 levels of seeing. The associative level connection in the visual cortex is not developed. Therefore they can see the object but are unable to connect the image with a cohesive interpretive construct. The proper function of the brain is pretty important to the operation of consciousness as science currently understands. I believe Dr Graziano's hypothesis about consciousness being an illusion is that the brain produces an separate entity, who is seeing and reflecting, but it's a magical delusion. There's really no one inside, just the brain doing it's interpretive information processing based on the continuity of experience and conditioning. Its really goes back to BF Skinner who basically said the same thing.
The funny aspect of this is that Jiddu Krishnamurti who wrote a poem about achieving enlightenment in 1927 and gave open unpaid talks for 60 years pointed out a similar observation to Dr Graziano in asserting that the brain creates the self through thought, conditioning and the desire for continuity. However, He does refer to the mind as completely different and that the self cannot capture it. So I agree with you but not your argument.
I completely disagree.
Those who claim that consciousness is an epiphenomenon aren't arguing that it isn't being experienced, just that it isn't apart from the brain. Some on this forum are hell bent on the idea that if it can be "proven" that there is an experience called consciousness and if it can be shown that this can affect the brain, then ipso facto: we have shown that materialism is invalid. Really?
Why is it that you are so convinced that something not coming from the brain, couldn't have an impact on the brain? What is your evidence of this assertion?
I see no flaw in the thinking that an experience of any sort, and of any root cause, could have a physical affect on the physical brain.
Examples- extreme fear, or sorrow or loneliness. Or a more provable case,, where one uses imagination to work through a maze or a metal puzzle. These are all non-physical things right? These have all been shown to change brain mass and physical complexity. This is the whole basis of neuroplasticity.
So whether an experience or more specifically consciousness, is due to something completely "non-physical" or if it is an epiphenom. associated with the physical brain, in either case, this could have an impact on the physical brain.
After watching this, I have a much better understanding why Alex wants to talk to this guy. Thanks for posting it!
I love the part where he interviews Eckhart Tolle, and you can tell he really wants to make Tolle lose his cool and get annoyed... and that clearly isn't going to happen. It must have been a real eye-opener for Harris to discover that he didn't know as much about the world as he thought he did. I suspect he's just started himself on a rather interesting journey. Maybe Alex needs to check in on him again in a few years?
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