Thoughts on the relationship between communication and meaning? Have you ever experienced true telepathy, e.g. complete perception of the meaning of a communication?
How would we know?
I think this is what Jen is getting at.
I have often had experiences of profound communication, as Gil says, by being open, by listening, by suspending my judgements – and how do we know that is telepathy?
It seems to me that it isn’t – and it seems like it.
It seems to me that we can only experience anything another says through our own interpretations of our own experiences.
Thus we may achieve very strong alignment with another, and it seems highly improbable that the alignment would be 100% in all details.
For me the example of a mum suddenly running to save a child is not telepathy, but rather something else.
For me, it seems that what is going on, is that the subconscious part of brain, the bit that handles all the information coming in from the senses, not just the little bit that filters through to conscious awareness, has detected something in that vast amount of information to indicate there might be a problem with the child.
A friend of mine used to call it “observational minutae”.
It seems that the brain can do a great deal more pattern recognition than we can consciously appreciate, so we get these “intuitions”, these “feelings”.
Some of us trust them.
Mostly they work.
It does not mean that there exists something called telepathy.
It does seem to mean that the brain is an amazingly complex entity, that is extremely good both at pattern recognition and in pattern projection through time.
Jeff Hawkins and his group have done some amazing work on how these mechanisms actually work in the neural networks of the human brain.
For me, the reality (of how neural networks actually perform such “miracles”) is far more beautiful than old ideas like “telepathy”.
You are correct in a sense, and my language was a little sloppy and open to multiple interpretations – put it down to lack of sleep, and spending most of the last two days in a hospital at Ailsa’s side.
To be more clear, what I could have said was – that it appears to me that there is no evidence as yet of telepathy operating in human communication. It seems that all experiences that people have to date that have the appearance of telepathy are actually the other set of processes I described.
Telepathy may be possible at some future date, and it does not seem to be responsible for the telepathy like experiences of people today.
Just one point I question in what you said – “consciousness is an ever expanding topic of discussion, founded in philosophy” – which is to me clearly false. Certainly many philosophers have tried to claim that, yet to me the case is clearly demonstrated beyond reasonable doubt that consciousness is best understood in reference to biology and systems theory (including things like computer systems, and games theory, and statistics/probability, and a whole raft of disciplines).
And for clarity, let me state again, that the organising principles might be relatively simple, but the operational complexity is beyond any conscious comprehension.
It is certainly true that philosophy was operating as a set of schools of thought well before biochemistry or computer science.
It would also be fair to say that in the early days, most philosophers were scientists, and most scientist philosophers.
I like to class myself as a member of both classes.
And as things have evolved, philosophy has come to be associated with the consideration of ideas, as distinct from science, in which the consideration of ideas is moderated by the discipline of testing those ideas in reality.
It is in this sense, that I am completely clear that the lessons learned from considering ideas and their logical relationship alone, have been left far behind the disciplines which investigate how things work in reality.
While I am intimately familiar with many schools of philosophical thought, I find them all to be founded on somewhat arrogant assumptions. For me, I find that arrogance is best kept in check by constant reference to testing in reality. Science, and scientists, in being so humiliated, have been able to make progress in understanding that eluded philosophers (who fought to defend their concepts, rather than looking at the evidence for alternate interpretations – as a general rule).
Hence, I stand by my initial assertion – “that consciousness is best understood in reference to biology and systems theory“.