what are the essential properties of consciousness?


Phenomenology, thought experiments and contemplation have in some instances provided valuable insights to physicalist forms of knowledge, i.e. physics or neuroscience. Not unlike Einstein’s successful attempt to access concepts in relativity through thought experiments, Giulio Tononi wants to create step-by-step definitions and images that allow theorization about the subject at hand: in this case, consciousness, subjectivity, selfhood, the feeling of what it’s like to be something.

Plot twist: he completely dodges a great question about unification of conscious experiences in the case of stroke patients. I’m not sure why he neglected to answer or even address that question directly.




it must be done physically

“It is as though we had an uncut diamond. We could not really say that it was worthless, or say it was something other than a diamond. But unless skillfully cut and meticulously polished, its diamond-nature might not be visible. The beautiful color and clarity which make it so highly prized would remain in the realm of potential. Of course, we might sincerely believe it to be a diamond. We might even tell others, “This is a diamond and worth a lot.” Yet it would seem peculiar to say, “I don’t need to cut and polish this diamond. I know that it is a diamond, and that’s good enough for me.” Rather, we must cut that diamond and polish its many facets carefully in order that its lovely nature might be shared and enjoyed by all who see it. So it is with our practice. We don’t wish to make diamonds out of mud – we wish to properly appreciate what is already inherent.

But it must be done physically. Our whole practice rests upon a physical base, just as our lives begin physically. First we learn to bring our bodies into harmony – we learn to sit physically. Once that happens, we stop panting and gasping, and start to breathe easily, smoothly, and naturally. And as body and breath settle down and no longer create disturbances for us, we find that the mind itself is given the opportunity to settle into its own smooth and natural functioning. The racket and babble of our noisy minds give way to the clarity and naturalness of our true selves. In this way we come to know who we really are, and what our life and death really is. ”

Taizan Maezumi Roshi, Why Practice?

field notes (08/11/2017)

Wow that last entry was weird. Sky is looking right this morning. It is close to 8am and my location is the living room of Selby. Beeps from a large truck cut thru the dewey air as the sink starts running with floppy droppy plops. A car goes by. Sounds are among the best experiences to document because one can write while listening. And to remember a sound is easier, like re-playing a tape. I cannot much remember the visual scene directly out of the window in front of me should I look away from it for a moment. The details will just disappear. The sights out the window I’ve seen thousands of times and as recently as a minute ago and I still couldn’t draw them for you as easily as I could describe the sounds. And, wait – while trying to write a thought about work intruded into my awareness. Off with that. Anyway it is easier to remember sounds. Outside the sun marks prominent territories: the lawn on the south end of the street split by sprinting rays (& sitting shadows) who run left-right and east-west right now. As the day continues and the sun rolls by the shadows will shrink and change their direction, until the same sitting shadows point northwards towards the house. And ongoing the street will eventually be split again, by the evening sun. Neat to think – the sun coming from east strikes out long lines, as it rises up the lines shift 90 degrees and shrink by some margin, and then shift another 90 degrees further and are drawn out again at dusk.

Lawn-mower sound or perhaps leaf-blower sound itching the earports. It seems to hear the gnashing metal engine sound – at least this morning – is more bearable than when also experiencing the sight of them. The bottom edge of the windowsill currently occludes the street beneath, and I feel like a periscope of flesh and frivolity. Yee yee haa haa. The morning clouds – which were really more of a dotted cottony haze – have been boiled off the top by the sun. A stunning scream trickles in from that screen, conjuring Alex’s voice: “As clear as an unmuddied lake, sir. As clear as an azure sky of deepest summer.”