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Memory, time, and consciousness


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#1
starspawn0

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Periodically, I toy with different ideas to explain consciousness.  I've not yet found one that is convincing, but do keep trying.  Most recently, I've wondered whether rethinking "time" and "memory" might lead in a fruitful direction:

 

Human memory works in a very fluid way.  It isn't built up in large, discrete chunks or files like in a computer.  For example, if you watch a plane go across the sky, the fact that you're even able to register that it's moving, requires an act of memory.  If you couldn't remember where it was a second ago, you couldn't tell how fast it was moving.  Everything you observe that you notice is engaging with your memory.  

 

Experienced meditators talk about attempting to "live in the present moment" -- to focus intently on the present, in a way without really trying.  But since when you perceive something -- like a plane flying across the sky -- you are applying memory, you are actually living a little bit in the past, or in your own mind.  In fact, if you could live fully in the present moment, you would not perceive time; and, would not be conscious at all.  

 

I have wondered -- conjectured / theorized -- whether what we perceive as "consciousness", occurs at the nexus between where information flows into the brain, and where it becomes consolidated into memories.  You experience the sight and smell of a beautiful red rose; and the raw essence of that conscious experience is happening at the exact same place and time as the memory of that moment is forming.

 

But what about when you remember something that happened?  You're not forming memories, and there is no sensory input.  Well, ok, the "sensory input" can come from within your own brain.  And... studies have shown that the act of remembering doesn't work the way we think it does -- in the process of remembering, we also change those memories; and so, this case doesn't really disprove my theory (that consciousness occurs at the nexus...), as you are forming new memories, in the process of remembering.

 

Regardless, even if my theory were true, it still wouldn't bridge the gulf between "phenomenal experience", on the one hand, and the boring neuro-electrical processes explainable by science, on the other.  There is still that "explanatory gap".  But I do feel it might help with this problem, since if it were true, at least you'd know where to look for an explanation, if there is an explanation to be found.



#2
Cloned

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Another level of consciousness is the ability to create new thoughts. I mean thoughts that never existed.

How does man create novels? Where does the flow of thoughts come from?



#3
starspawn0

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I was reflecting the other day on the use of gongs, bells, and bowls in medication and Eastern religious practice:

 

https://www.youtube....h?v=QxCeHLTfN1k

 

One often hears a phrase like "all reality is vibration", like the sound of a gong, in Hinduism, for example.  Chanting the Om conveys a similar idea.

 

When you hear the reverberations, the mind wanders between past, present, and future; and it's easy to lose track of exactly when the present becomes the past, fading into a memory.  Although an act of memory is needed to access the past, it feels so fluid, as though it still exists, in some form.  And accessing the future is an act of prediction, and that prediction becomes a memory, too.

 

I would say that an important role in meditation with ringing gongs, bells, and bowls, therefore, is showing you your own mind at work -- the alchemical transformation of a living present into a ghost memory.

 

....

 

Another thought that occurred to me the other day, when I became dizzy:  I was cleaning my ear the other day, squirting in cold oil.  If you've never done this before, I warn you not to do it while driving a car, say, as it "metabolically stimulates" your vestibular nerve, which makes the room seem to rotate up and down.   

 

I was reflecting on this phenomenon, and how it affects vision -- it isn't just that you feel the room is turning; it looks that way, too. 

 

Perhaps what's happening is that when the brain receives information that conflicts with your immediate past experience of how the room is oriented, it revises the memory to match with the incoming information.  And in the process of revising, that conflicts what what you're also seeing.  So maybe it's another example of the brain's memory-management at work -- only, you don't perceive it as memory.  






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