Talk:Consciousness/Archive 1

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DO NOT EDIT OR POST REPLIES TO THIS PAGE. THIS PAGE IS AN ARCHIVE.

This archive page covers approximately the dates between 24 August, 2003 and 21 October, 2005. Though this is Archive 1, the first five entries to the discussion page have not been copied here. These earllier entries, including some by original Wikipedia editor Larry Sanger, can be found in the article history dated from 30 March, 2002 to 16 July, 2003.

Post replies to the main talk page, copying or summarizing the section you are replying to if necessary.

Please add new archivals to Talk:Consciousness/Archive02. (See Wikipedia:How to archive a talk page.) Thank you.

Theories of consciousness - classification

These can be classified along several axes. The physical theories such as those due to Penrose, Broad, or McFadden consider that conscious experience is in some way directly supervenient on a physical field. McFadden's CEMI theory is explicitly not a QM theory (McFadden moved away from this viewpoint). Matti Pittanken's complicated theory is a mixed QM/geometric theory, Broad's is entirely geometrical with no QM component. The term 'physical theories of consciousness' covers the entire spectrum of these theories whereas 'QM Theories of consciousness' only covers QM.

Another axis is dualist vs non-dualist but this leads to consciousness-only and physical theories being placed together and if we classify direct realism as dualist the direct realists will be enraged.

Consciousness and Mind

This is good as far as it goes. There is considerably more information to be found in the teachings of Buck on Consciousness and Dr. Ernest Holmes on the processes of Mind an Universal Law and how to use it for the Highest Good of Humanity as well as for yourself.

restructure document - rewrite

It is looking better now but still needs some attention, especially in phenomenal consciousness and the sequence of items.

Quantum approaches

Popper wouldnn't let you dismiss these as 'crank' unless you have a better theory to put in their place. Hameroff's website has links to papers that show evidence for a corellation between microtubule activity and anaesthesia (he is a medical doctor who knows his stuff).

20/09/04 Removed "The hypothesis that consciousness relies upon quantum mechanics is a view discounted by all but a tiny number of scientists." This is not an academic statement, its import is covered in the following sentence that no real evidence has been found.

Blakemore

Suggest we remove the Blakemoor link. She is a well-known hanger-on in the consciousness research community, and doesn't appear to have anything new to say that isn't already in Dennett 1991. Just because you have media friends who get you on TV doesn't mean you are any good (see Kevin Warwick).

Incorrigibility

Made reference to the technical philosophical term among philsophers of mind. icut4u 21:08, 30 Aug 2004 (UTC)

Empirical description of consciousness

This was added to provide a reference to the work of the most famous of the philosophers and scientists who are associated with this subject. The quotations were included so that the famous philosophers could speak in their own words, this whole area being so contentious that any other form of presentation would be impossible. The quotations are of a length permitted by 'fair use'. I selected the empirical parts of these philosopher's works because these will always be of interest whereas their musings on various theories of mind may appear old fashioned in the context of modern science. A full discussion of each author would need a fifty page article and be mostly irrelevant to modern interests.

However, some readers may think that the whole piece sits awkwardly in the context of the lighter level of treatment in the rest of the article. I am very loathe to change anyone else's contributions and equally loathe to put the piece in a new article. This issue is in the hands of the editors but any discussion of consciousness must surely make reference to Descartes, Kant, Hume, Locke etc.

Electroneurobiological theories

I removed the following sentence after the paragraph on deep sleep. I have worked in this area for sometime and never heard of this theory. Does the author have a reference?

"This is a typical situation in which some electroneurobiological researchers see a change in time acuity or the ability to distinguish moments, assumed to arise from relativistic interval-dilation effects at work in brain biophysics."

27/09/04 OK, I've tracked down some original source material for this reference. This seems to be a very specific theory that is not universally accepted or publicised. My own feeling is that reference to this theory belongs in the next section next to "Quantum mind" and "space-time theories". Not being expert in this theory I am unsure of the level of supervenience being implied but I think it is direct so I have put in a link in the appropriate place.

Could the person who put in a reference to electroneurobiological theories complete a wikipedia section on this to complete the link?

27/09/04 I'm David <reardon@@operamail.com>[undouble the "@"], the guy who put it in; I'm on sabbatical in Buenos Aires. Thank you for your help; I'm to be blamed for not having surfaced before in this Discussion section. Deep sleep is no longer understood as a state lacking in mentation. On this topic there are several research papers, since the sixties, which after 2000 got multiplied. One might start with Nielsen, T. A., ?Cognition in REM and NREM sleep: A review and possible reconciliation of two models of sleep mentation,? and Solms, M. (2000), ?Dreaming and REM Sleep are controlled by different brain mechanisms,? in the special issue (23, # 6, 2000) of Behavioral and Brain Sciences devoted to ?Sleep and Dreaming,? anticipated on line since December 1999. The paradigm shift caused by recognition of deep sleep mentation stirred a recent interest in electroneurobiological theories, chiefly developed outside the Anglo-American academe. This is why they aren't yet widely known, altho at least three major publishers in the States are currently wrestling to be the first in putting a full treatment in the book market. This muddles communications a bit and I resorted to the original propounders, the Argentine-German neurobiological school (or tradition). In the circumstances, I'll try to prepare a Wikipedia article about it, yet not before six or seven weeks. Meanwhile I'd leave the deep sleep mention as it stands, altho it no longer is entirely correct. The mention, "This is a typical situation in which some electroneurobiological researchers see a change in time acuity or the ability to distinguish moments, assumed to arise from relativistic interval-dilation effects at work in brain biophysics" seems me to solve the problem. However, I edited the new sentence added in the next section,because it mixed up electroneurobiology with electromagnetic theories of mind. The latter (eg the views of Susan Pockett of New Zealand or Pavel Ivanov of Moscow, all ultimately stemming from views akin to the Stoic view of aether) assume that mind supervenes upon electromagnetic patterns. The former rather assume such patterns to work upon other physical structures on which supervenience occurs, so that electroneurobiology is (part of) natural science by itself unconcerned with mind. I'll much appreciate any feed back.

27/09/04 I look forward to your article and feel that if this spreads ideas that are locked away in other languages it will be bang on target for Wikipedia. Something that troubles me is that if "electroneurobiology is (part of) natural science by itself unconcerned with mind" and mind is conscious experience then is electroneurobiology a part of the study of consciousness (ie: the nature of mind) or is it related to the non-conscious part of neural processing?

27/09/04 I've been only one month writing on it!  :-) Electroneurobiology, in what concerns us for this entry, studies the extramental processes that furnish mind with time acuity, or time resolution. Shrinking or dilating this acuity allows mind to present differently its own differentiations or mental contents. The object-conserving operations (remember Piaget) that define mental contents are allowed to be presented to oneself with more or, either, with less detail -like as you may write maths with tight, full equation-signifying signs (say, an asterisk for e=mc2) or either spelling out the equations themselves in boring detail. As I learnt in this place, this was observed by Aristotle. The attainable level of operative detail, it is said here, is controlled by electroneurobiological means, acts upon other physical means upon which minds react, and thereby enacts the differences in attention. The focus of attention displays mental contents in full operative detail, perceptual background does it in far less operational detail, dreamers "mentate" availing only of a still lesser amount of operatively "plenified" (akin to Einfüllung, a term by Husserl) mental contents and, progressing in disconnection, mentation in deep sleep or vegetative states is too much slow for extramental clocks to tell its states apart - altho the disconnected mind finds itself "mentating" with normal speed. This has been taught here for decades on a 250-year tradition with a series of "firsts", which published a paper on neurobiology and relativity in 1922, which Einstein visited for one month in 1925 (remember, they speak German), and which evolved quite apart, it seems, from everything.

Reversion to Early September 2004

The changes I made in September were not in line with the encyclopedic nature of Wikipedia and I do not have any more time to sort this out.

Andrew Cohen POV

The comment "Cohen has been working since 1986 toward a single goal: the transformation of human consciousness on a global scale" is somewhat PoV. I rewrote it as

Cohen has been working since 1986 towards what he calls "the transformation of human consciousness on a global scale".

Perhaps this comment should be removed altogether? --MatthewJ 21:09, 4 Feb 2005 (UTC)

I agree, the whole section on Wilber is cranky, what is it doing here? Loxley 12:11, 7 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Aroma of consciousness

                       '''Aroma of consciousness'''

“I know no more encouraging act of a man than to lift his life by conscious endeavor” (Socrates) In my view, states of consciousness represent unique configuration of physiological functions such as thought, memory, emotion, body image, visual & auditory perception etc. e.g. dream and meditative states and the ordinary state of reality. Structures of consciousness are broad noetic modes of experience by which we do understand our life’s world which have evidently evolved across human history that include archaic, magic, mythic, mental and emerging integral structures. Planes of consciousness represent broad perceptual/emotional horizons which in certain religions and traditions are said to define the quality of ones life’s world, both during and between incarnations. They are commonly called as the transitional states. I articulate them separately from noetic states of consciousness because there is a reason to believe that they present a different and more or less independent vector of life’s experience, one that is not determined by noetic structures. Their resilience across traditions however seems to lend an interdependence of ordinary physiological process that is not characteristic of states of consciousness. When I compare the humans body to its environment, I recognize the cosmos as the large infinite, and the atomic particles as the small infinite. The human brain reaches such a degree of complexity that it may be considered as a third infinite in the universe, a complex infinite. It follows that any force capable of moving such an infinite deserves a place among the forces of the universe. Physicists have recognized Four forces-The Gravitational force, The Electromagnetic, The Electrostatic & The Nuclear force. Forces are defined in four dimensions ( reversible or not in time) and it is postulated that these forces are applicable everywhere. Pleasure and displeasure, the affective axis of consciousness, can move the infinity complex axiomatically, that the affective capability of consciousness operates in a way similar to the way the four forces of physics: i.e. influences the behavior of conscious agents in a way similar to the way the four forces influence masses and particles. however, since a natural phenomenon is dimensionless, I suppose to call the affective capability of consciousness as the fifth influence rather than fifth force. Does life emerge spontaneously from a predetermined in animate back ground, or is it a basic characteristic of all of our environment? Living entities may respond to the external threatening stimuli in order to survive in a hostile climate . if we set aside the pre-supposition that inanimate and animate structures and agents are fundamentally different, then this criterion applies to all recognizable entities. An entity depends for its continuance not only on awareness of its surroundings, but also on self, referencing as a means of stabilizations. It must not only reflect external consciousness but also a degree of self consciousness. Uniquely external consciousness can engender incongruous or self destructive internal development; self consciousness can engender and leave the entity wide open to incomprehensible attack by external agents. the duel between these two facets constitutes the process we refer to as life. We can describe the natural living world as, and by, a non linearly scaled hierarchy of concepts, each of which maintains its autonomy by relying on its precursor as a tool. Life uses biology, biology uses chemistry and chemistry in turn uses quantum mechanics. I think that at the head of this hierarchy - The universe, background of casually chaotic communication, makes use of consciousness, which uses LIFE as a tool in its auto-propagation.

Irfan


"What are the inheritable characterisitics of intelligence? What are the correlations between intelligence and sex? Is intelligence affected by the geomagnetic field?"

It seems to me this part of the caption distracts from the article. These questions seem to have little to do with what is discussed here. Also, why is there a picture of a black hole? I think the picture and caption should be removed. Thoughts? Floorsheim 06:54, 6 May 2005 (UTC)


I agree. I removed them. -- WOT 20:10, 7 May 2005 (UTC)

Non-consciousness, absence of consciousness, subconscious

Although these terms may need to be defined the definitions placed in the introduction were incorrect. Absence of consciousness/non-consciousness are not types of consciousness. Loxley 10:02, 22 May 2005 (UTC)

A Wikiversity School of Consciousness Studies?

Any support for a School of Consciousness Studies over at the Wikiversity project? Or for expanding this thread into an Introduction to Consciousness Studies Textbook over at wikiBooks? I would be willing to devote some time towards writing introductory articles. Alistaircochrane 16:54, 20 Jun 2005 (UTC)

I didn't know about Wikiversity until you mentioned it. Unfortunately the article has been listed for deletion. I see that the project itself is a part of Wikibooks accessed from its lefthand page menu. Sounds like an interesting idea. --Blainster 19:30, 20 Jun 2005 (UTC)

OK, lets do it. I have put a Consciousness Studies template (click here) up at wikibooks Loxley 08:45, 21 Jun 2005 (UTC)

Should QM approaches be included at this level?

There is an article called quantum mind that covers QM approaches to consciousness. Surely the main article 'consciousness' should point to this subsidiary article. I think we should delete the whole QM section from the consciousness article. loxley 22:49, 19 July 2005 (UTC)

That article is not very good, so we should probably merge. Rbarreira 23:20, 19 July 2005 (UTC)

On reflection I am in favour of replacing the QM Approaches section with a 'Physical Theories of Consciousness' section, including very short descriptions of global workspace theory, Edelman's ideas, QM, EM, Space-time etc. with links in each description. loxley 13:00, 21 July 2005 (UTC)

Links

What are the standars for inclusion of links? What makes a link "poor" as stated by Encephalon? --Janice Rowe

Hello Janice,
The WP guide for external links is here. In general the section containing external links should be accessible to a wide audience, contain links that are directly focused on the subject of the article or specific subsections, are to bodies or organizations considered authoritative in that field where possible, are "high-content" and contain accurate, factual material, and preferably non-commercial. Personal websites are frowned upon (unless it is that of a notable person who is the subject of the article or a prominent subsection. To consider a recent featured article, Asthma, there are just 5 external links in a 35kb article; the links are all to national agencies widely considered to sources of accurate, evidence-based medical information, and all are non-commercial. There are no links to personal websites. Each link is to a page which is highly focused on the subject of the article, and they are all "high content". The article itself is heavily referenced directly to important primary and secondary studies directly pertaining to asthma.
I removed 5 links from this article's unnecessarily enormous links section.
  • [1] this contains a one line definition of the word consciousness. The parent website apparently belongs to an individual's religious school. There is nothing on the linked page that is not already more than adequately explained in the article, and other far more reputable sources.
  • [2] A commercial forum, seemingly devoted to an understanding of kinesiology more than anything else, focused on an individual of little relevance to the article, and not particularly a reliable or reputable as a source of scholarly or authoritative information on consciousness.
  • [3] The personal website of an individual who has written a book published by a vanity press. Claims to be scientific, but as it does not appear even to be referenced, I am unable to verify that claim beyond noting information that I seriously doubt underwent formal scientific peer-review.
  • [4] website on various religious beliefs loosely related to consciousness. Talks about "astral travel" and "energy bodies". Commercial. Unverified claims. I do not see how this contributes to a WP article on consciousness; perhaps an article on astral travel might be a better fit.
  • [5] I couldn't get this site to load properly and I wonder if it's still live. Cache seems to show part of it is in a foreign language; a personal website which seems to be itself a collection of links pointing to dozens of other places.
The links section of this article is already too large, and many of the links are unnecessary and/or poorly suited to WP; WP is not a "collection of external links," a "repository of links, images, or media files," a propaganda or advocacy" machine of any kind, or a venue for self-promotion or advertising. The Stanford encyclopedia links are excellent, the link to the Association for the Scientific Study of Consciousness is acceptable per WP guidelines, the links to the journals are strictly speaking not necessary, as papers of importance to the article should be directly referenced and placed in the references section (called Further reading here); however, if the editors felt they were useful to link to, I would not object, given their scholarly nature. The free journal might be particularly useful and in line with the WP policy of wide accesibility. The Koch lectures are an excellent multimedia resource. I am unsure if the Sobottka site adds much value. Do you feel I've removed a link that you would have preferred left in, Janice? Please let me know; if you feel strongly that I have erred, you may also place it back yourself, this being a wiki and all.
Kind regards—encephalonέγκέφαλος  21:52:12, 2005-09-07 (UTC)
NB. Disclosure— I played a significant editing role in Asthma, but used it as an example above only because I am familiar with it.—encephalonέγκέφαλος 
Thank you Encephalon for explaining this, and for taking the time to do so. I am just learning. What about the question below? --Janice Rowe
Don't mention it, Janice, glad to be of help. By the way, when Wikipedians sign their posts, it is customary to use four tildes, like so ~~~~. This produces your username, as well as the time/date stamp. If you type three tildes, only your username appears (I believe this is what you're typing). If you type five tildes, only the date/time stamp appears. Also, when writing posts, we tend to indent our responses one step to the right of the post we're replying to. This is done using colons. Each colon pushes the text in one pixel. If you click on the edit link for this section to your right, you'll see how it looks, I've done yours for you. Just in case you didn't know! :) All the best,—encephalonέγκέφαλος  22:25:16, 2005-09-07 (UTC)
Thanks again. Here ya go with four tildes, and indented with colons. --Janice Rowe 22:32, 7 September 2005 (UTC)

Spiritual approaches

Why is the Spiritual approaches section tagged with a factual accuracy dispute? It says to look at the talk page, but there is no information about that challenge here. --Janice Rowe

Hi again Janice, I tagged it. It's actually not the most appropriate tag, but it may be the best available. I was looking for a clean-up or expert attention tag specific for a subsection, but it appears we don't have one. The reason I placed the tag is I believe that section needs a lot of work. It's entitled "Spiritual approaches," but lacks introductory remarks and has subsections entitled Buddhism, Yoga, Meditation, and Surat Shabda Yoga. This is remarkable both for the way it classifies spiritual approaches to consciousness as well as what I imagine must be its considerable incompleteness. The only major religious tradition given treatment is Buddhism. There are two separate sections on yoga(s), and one I believe may be a related form of the other. Aren't there numerous types of yogas? Is there a good reason Surat Shabda Yoga is being singled out for treatment? What about other spiritual traditions, both in the east, the west, Africa, etc? I am also not sure what to make of the entirely separate section called Integral approach. Finally, each of these things have just one or two lines of explanation, and no sources. I feel that section is an inaccurate portrayal of "Spiritual Approaches to Consciousness," and requires work. Best—encephalonέγκέφαλος  22:11:44, 2005-09-07 (UTC)
Going to make you my mentor now: is there a place in which you can find a list of all tags that can be used to alert other editors? Is there a bulleting board or wiki equivalent in which articles that need attention can be listed? --Janice Rowe 22:36, 7 September 2005 (UTC)
Lol. Yes to all questions, Janice.
  • Here is the page where you can find all commonly used templates: Wikipedia:Template. If you're interested in tags that are used for "clean-ups" (ie. various types of improvements), may I direct your attention to the box entitled Cleanup.
  • There are whole teams of wikipedians whose main interest is in cleaning up articles. I understand some of them specialize in particular subjects. They hang around here a lot: Wikipedia:Cleanup. That's the place that lists articles an editor felt required sprucing up. It doesn't mean that everything gets attended to immediately though, especially if the problem is one which requires very specialized knowledge. If it's just prose and grammar and stuff it might get done quicker. The articles that you see on that page have just been added. The box on the right tells you what all these guys do. They're pretty awesome, and we're thankful for having them.
Well, hope that helped, Janice. You know my Talk page if you need anything. Cheers—encephalonέγκέφαλος  22:53:27, 2005-09-07 (UTC)
Thanks, έγκέφαλος, you are a gem. --Janice Rowe 22:58, 7 September 2005 (UTC)

Dennettism

Dennett is a philosopher (not cognitive scientist) at the extreme end of modern opinion on consciousness. He appeals to computer programmers. He is an eliminativist and his idea is that you do not actually experience this text see: Multiple Drafts Model. He has been accused of being a living zombie by some philosophers. The fact that software engineers are probably more likely to read Wikipedia than anyone else should not lead us to give Dennett undue prominence, such as mentioning his ideas in the introduction. He believes that narrative (heterophenomenology) is the key to studying consciousness. By identifying qualia with judgements he ignores the spatial nature of mind, the way that the mind has many things simultaneously at any instant, and hence can propose that the brain is like a digital computer. loxley 08:33, 26 September 2005 (UTC)

Philosophy of consciousness

It is important in this section to provide a smooth transit from the historical perspective to the modern. The way that Descartes considered conscious experience to be due to a soul that was an unextended point (res cogitans) viewing the contents of the brain in the common sense (senses communis) is crucial because it links Plato's idea of the 'mind's eye' and Reid's idea of the point soul viewing the world directly. The ideas of the unextended viewing point and the extended world (res extensa) that is viewed are very important in the history of this subject.

The use of the term experience of is usually a functionalist plant nowadays, deliberately distorting the discussion for the uninformed. This was realised as early as Aristotle who deprecated this and proposed that the mind was the things it thinks, not a point soul or reflexive loop.

The introduction of supervenience is also important because it asks that if consciousness is a thing then where is it?

The cutting of all these items by the 'real philosopher', leaving behind a modern functionalist text instead of a historical introduction is surprising to say the least. Real philosophers love the history of ideas. loxley 12:08, 1 October 2005 (UTC)

The material I cut was cut because it was incorrect, irrelevant, or incoherent. The same goes for much of what has been put back. I'm not going to get into an argument or an editing war, but others should be aware that this material is not even minimally competent. --Philos 15:09, 1 October 2005 (UTC)
Firstly the points were not incorrect, they are accurate. The text on Descarte's view of mind is accurate:"In the first place, I distinctly imagine that quantity which the philosophers commonly call continuous, or the extension in length, breadth, and depth that is in this quantity, or rather in the object to which it is attributed. Further, I can enumerate in it many diverse parts, and attribute to each of these all sorts of sizes, figures, situations, and local motions; and, in fine, I can assign to each of these motions all degrees of duration." (Meditations V) This shows that Descartes was quite clear about space and time in the mind.
Descartes also clearly describes the point from which things are viewed as unextended: "... And although I may, or rather, as I will shortly say, although I certainly do possess a body with which I am very closely conjoined; nevertheless, because, on the one hand, I have a clear and distinct idea of myself, in as far as I am only a thinking and unextended thing, and as, on the other hand, I possess a distinct idea of body, in as far as it is only an extended and unthinking thing, it is certain that I, [that is, my mind, by which I am what I am], is entirely and truly distinct from my body, and may exist without it." (Meditations VI). Plato, Reid and Malebranche also consider that there is an unextended observation point from which the brain or the world are observed. This idea must be mentioned in the history section. Are you suggesting that Descartes "the father of modern philosophy" is not pivotal to any exposition of the history of the philosophy of consciousness?
Secondly the points are not irrelevant, they are fundamental to the history of this subject and it is a shame that there is not space to introduce Aristotle, Plato, Parmenides etc. as well.
Thirdly they are not incoherent, they explain the history of the subject without presenting a biased point of view. Your changes implanted a functionalist view point and removed the history.
Given that Descartes and Reid differed in whether the phenomenal experience was something in the brain or something in the world and this idea of location is essential to consciousness studies it is clear that supervenience needs a mention. It seems to me that you believe that eliminativism/functionalism is the correct analysis of consciousness, you are entitled to your opinion but readers of this section deserve some mention of the history of the subject and of opposing views.
Your mode of argument is entirely based on an appeal to some mythical "accepted" authority as if you are a member of some powerful gang. Please quote the ideas of this mysterious authority rather than suggesting that you share its status. loxley 16:01, 1 October 2005 (UTC)
At that point in the Meditations, Descartes is characterizing matter, not consciousness. It's wildly incorrect to say "Descartes described consciousness as things laid out in space and time". I think history is very important, but bad history is worse than no history.
No, Descartes was not characterising matter. Please refer to Descartes' original text:
"2. But before considering whether such objects as I conceive exist without me, I must examine their ideas in so far as these are to be found in my consciousness, and discover which of them are distinct and which confused.[L] [F]
3. In the first place, I distinctly imagine that quantity which the philosophers commonly call continuous, or the extension in length, breadth, and depth that is in this quantity, or rather in the object to which it is attributed. Further, I can enumerate in it many diverse parts, and attribute to each of these all sorts of sizes, figures, situations, and local motions; and, in fine, I can assign to each of these motions all degrees of duration"
http://oregonstate.edu/instruct/phl302/texts/descartes/meditations/Meditation5.html
The mentions of supervenience in the article display a serious misunderstanding of the notion. "...every mental event has a direct physical event" is not even meaningful. If one said "directly corresponding" instead of "direct", or "is a" instead of "has a direct", it would be meaningful, but the idea would concern correlation or identity, not supervenience.
The use of "has a direct physical event" is meaningful in the context of supervenience. In the case of weak supervenience mental events might not be directly physical events. To use terms that imply identity such as is a would be wrong and misses the whole point about supervenience.
The connection made between supervenience and postmodernism is bizarre.
Surely you are aware of Derrida's views on perception?:
"The first consequence to be drawn [from Saussure and the arbitrariness of the sign and the constitution of meaning by différance] is that the signified concept is never present in and of itself, in a sufficient presence that would refer only to itself. Essentially (that is, of its being) and lawfully, every concept is inscribed in a chain or in a system within which it refers to the other, to other concepts, by means of the systematic play of differences" (Derrida 1982, 'Differance')
The characterization of "emergence" is incorrect.
Yet again you simply dismiss without offering reasons. The only characterisation of emergence given in the text is to say that it is a result of complexity, a pointer to the Wikipedia entry, a pointer to Multiple Drafts model and lastly a link between emergence and the explanatory gap. I would point out that:
"For a phenomenon to be termed emergent it should generally be unexpected and unpredictable from a lower level description." See: emergence.
Hence the connection to explanatory gap was correct. What is your problem??
The remarks about direct and indirect realism show a misunderstanding of the bearing of these views in the philosophy of perception on the philosophy of consciousness. The question between direct and indirect realism is largely orthogonal to one's views on the explanatory gap, access and phenomenal consciousness, etc
I would refer you to Chalmer's classic 1996 text "The Conscious Mind" where he comes at consciousness from precisely this angle. There is nothing orthogonal at all about mentioning the relationship between perception and phenomenal consciousness, phenomenal consciousness usually contains perceptual experience in waking life.
(it's extremely misleading to say that indirect realists propose quantum theories and the like, and many direct realists accept phenomenal consciousness and the explanatory gap).
Please be specific. The text actually says "Direct Realists see the explanatory gap in terms of access consciousness" which is true. The numerous space-time and electromagnetic theories of consciousness are largely indirect realist. Hammeroff's version of QM and Targ's version of space-time theory are exceptions, Hammeroff's and Targ's theories are mixed direct realist/indirect realist.
Finally, as someone else said, the mention of the very obscure Russian scientists Fingelkurts here is something of a joke.
I agree. You are welcome to remove the Fingelkurts. I didn't enter them, in fact I will remove them now.
For what it's worth, I'm very far from being an eliminativist or a functionalist about consciousness. As someone who is extremely familiar with research on consciousness, I just thought that the entry should be purged of material that would not pass muster in an undergraduate paper. But I will leave further discussion and editing on this matter to others. --Philos 22:13, 1 October 2005 (UTC)
As can be seen above, most of your criticisms are not supported. Please demonstrate your familiarity with the field by supporting your critique with reasoned arguments rather than pejorative comments. loxley 08:50, 3 October 2005 (UTC)
Marshall McLuhan here. Philos is right about each of the points above. The philosophy section would be much improved if it reverted to the "philosopher's" edit of a few days ago. DavidChalmers 23:51, 4 October 2005 (UTC)
How is he right about the points above? The points are clearly detailed and you could easily explain your criticism. Please could you also explain how cutting the historical, empirical descriptions of conscious experience and supervenience would improve the article. Why do you have the ID "DavidChalmers" yet use the name Marshall McLuhan? The only famous philosopher called Marshall McLuhan died in 1980. Are you taking the piss or are you philos with a duplicate ID? loxley 11:13, 5 October 2005 (UTC)
The user with ID DavidChalmers who claims to be the deceased and famous Canadian philosopher Marshal McLuhan should note that using the name of a living, prominent person as a USERID is against Wikipedia guidelines.loxley 11:19, 5 October 2005 (UTC)
My userID is my own name (I presume that's allowed). "Marshall McLuhan" was an Annie Hall reference. Sorry if that wasn't clear.
I don't think it would be appropriate for me to get into a long argument involving an entry where I am discussed. But since you've invoked my name twice (here and on the history page) in support of your claims, I thought I should register my judgment here. I appreciate all that you and others have done to build up this entry. But your discussion in the article and above shows fairly basic misunderstandings of supervenience (the Derrida quote has no bearing on supervenience), direct realism (it's not true that direct realists see the explanatory gap in terms of access consciousness), functionalism (it's not true that "experience of" is a functionalist or eliminativist locution), and so on. I'm sorry! And I'll bow out now. DavidChalmers 23:36, 5 October 2005 (UTC)
Dear Prof. Chalmers, Thank you for your comments. I respect your willingness to bow out of decisions where conflicts of interest emerge, but I would like to stress that your informed opinion and guidance is most valuable here. This page has great potential to teach many curious readers about our current understanding of consciousness in an accurate and approachable way. I believe that all here would agree that this subject is a difficult one to get right and teach well, and thus your contributions here are most certainly a welcome public service. Many thanks for your past (and hopefully future) contributions. Cheers, sallison 01:47, 6 October 2005 (UTC)
Sallison: yuk. Chalmers, if that is your name, your criticisms are not in the spirit of Wikipedia. Don't wave your hand with a pompous air of authority, get them dirty by actually contributing. I have given details of the assertions in the philosophy section that you can rebut in the section below.loxley 10:56, 6 October 2005 (UTC)
It appears that we agree, loxley. Participation is key. I look forward to reading your assertions and others' forthcoming responses. Thank you for your past and future contributions as well. Cheers, sallison 17:44, 6 October 2005 (UTC)
see the section "Analysis of the article on the philosophy of consciousness" below on this discussion page. loxley 11:28, 9 October 2005 (UTC)

Analysis of the article on the philosophy of consciousness

The section on the philosophy of consciousness has recently come under attack for being in error or inaccurate. Obviously an encyclopedia article must not be wrong so a detailed defence of the accuracy of the article is given below. Airy rejections of the article are not actually criticisms, it is incumbent upon critics to be specific.

Criticisms should take account of the fact that this is an encyclopedia and that this small section is largely pointing readers to other parts of the encyclopedia within the context of a historical and current review. It should not represent a point of view and should report historical ideas even if these are anathema to some sections of the modern philosophical establishment. The existing text is provided with documentary support below (all quotations copied from Wikibooks on consciousness).

In the first section the division into phenomenal and access consciousness is considered. This division has been around since consciousness was first studied. Kant introduces it in his concept of the Noumenal and Phenomenal consciousness, Edelman uses the term 'primary consciousness' for phenomenal consciousness and Chalmers (1996)(p24) introduces it as psychological and phenomenal consciousness and, of course, Block has brought it to prominence.

Assertion 1: that philosophers divide consciousness into phenomenal and access consciousness.

Defence:
Block's original statement "Phenomenal consciousness is experience; the phenomenally conscious aspect of a state is what it is like to be in that state. The mark of access-consciousness, by contrast, is availability for use in reasoning and rationally guiding speech and action." Block, N. (1995) On a confusion about a function of consciousness. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 18 (2): 227-287. http://www.bbsonline.org/documents/a/00/00/04/31/bbs00000431-00/bbs.block.html
This analysis has made it into other encyclopedias eg: Block, N. (2004). The Encylopedia of Cognitive Science http://www.nyu.edu/gsas/dept/philo/faculty/block/papers/ecs.pdf .

The second section is divided into several paragraphs that address different aspects of the subject. In the first paragraph empirical descriptions of consciousness are mentioned. It begins with Descartes who, in his Meditations, describes what consciousness is like.

Assertion 2: that Descartes and the empiricist philosophers, in their empirical writings described conscious experience as things distributed in space and time.

Text: "Rene Descartes wrote Meditations on First Philosophy in the seventeenth century, and this contains extensive descriptions of what it is to be conscious. Descartes described consciousness as things laid out in space and time that are viewed from a point. Each thing appears as a result of some quality such as colour, smell etc. (philosophers call these qualities 'qualia').
Defence:
"2. But before considering whether such objects as I conceive exist without me, I must examine their ideas in so far as these are to be found in my consciousness, and discover which of them are distinct and which confused.
3. In the first place, I distinctly imagine that quantity which the philosophers commonly call continuous, or the extension in length, breadth, and depth that is in this quantity, or rather in the object to which it is attributed. Further, I can enumerate in it many diverse parts, and attribute to each of these all sorts of sizes, figures, situations, and local motions; and, in fine, I can assign to each of these motions all degrees of duration."(Meditation V). Descartes, R. (1641). Meditations on First Philosophy. http://oregonstate.edu/instruct/phl302/texts/descartes/meditations/Meditation5.html


Hume also considers experience to be extended in space: "If a point be not consider'd as colour'd or tangible, it can convey to us no idea; and consequently the idea of extension, which is compos'd of the ideas of these points, can never possibly exist. But if the idea of extension really can exist, as we are conscious it does, its parts must also exist; and in order to that, must be consider'd as colour'd or tangible. We have therefore no idea of space or extension, but when we regard it as an object either of our sight or feeling" Note that the term idea means a content of consciousness in empiricist writing of this date. Hume (1739-40). A Treatise of Human Nature: Being An Attempt to Introduce the Experimental Method of Reasoning Into Moral Subjects. http://www.class.uidaho.edu/mickelsen/ToC/hume%20treatise%20ToC.htm
or Kant "Thus, if I take away from the representation of a body that which the understanding thinks in regard to it, substance, force, divisibility, etc. , and likewise what belongs to sensation, impenetrability, hardness, colour, etc. , something still remains over from this empirical intuition, namely, extension and figure. These belong to pure intuition, which, even without any actual object of the senses or of sensation, exists in the mind a priori as a mere form of sensibility." Kant, I. (1781) Critique of Pure Reason. Trans. Norman Kemp Smith with preface by Howard Caygill. Pub: Palgrave Macmillan. http://www.hkbu.edu.hk/~ppp/cpr/toc.html
see assertion 6 for details of the unextended, point, mind. (An idea shared by Malebranche, Reid and numerous others).

Assertion 3: That Descartes and the empiricist philosophers used the term 'ideas' for the content of consciousness.

Text: "Descartes used the term "ideas" to describe the contents of our experience whether these contents were inner speech (thoughts), perceptions or images."

Defence: "5. Of my thoughts some are, as it were, images of things, and to these alone properly belongs the name IDEA; as when I think [ represent to my mind ] a man, a chimera, the sky, an angel or God. Others, again, have certain other forms; as when I will, fear, affirm, or deny, I always, indeed, apprehend something as the object of my thought, but I also embrace in thought something more than the representation of the object; and of this class of thoughts some are called volitions or affections, and others judgments." (Meditation III).
Descartes, R. (1641). Meditations on First Philosophy. http://oregonstate.edu/instruct/phl302/texts/descartes/meditations/Meditation3.html
Locke is another example: "2. All ideas come from sensation or reflection. Let us then suppose the mind to be, as we say, white paper, void of all characters, without any ideas:- How comes it to be furnished? Whence comes it by that vast store which the busy and boundless fancy of man has painted on it with an almost endless variety? Whence has it all the materials of reason and knowledge?" Locke, J. (1689). An Essay Concerning Human Understanding http://www.arts.cuhk.edu.hk/Philosophy/Locke/echu/

Assertion 4: That Descartes, Kant, Clay and James mention extension of conscious experience in time:

ER Clay ""The relation of experience to time has not been profoundly studied. Its objects are given as being of the present, but the part of time referred to by the datum is a very different thing from the conterminous of the past and future which philosophy denotes by the name Present. The present to which the datum refers is really a part of the past -- a recent past -- delusively given as being a time that intervenes between the past and the future. Let it be named the specious present, and let the past, that is given as being the past, be known as the obvious past. All the notes of a bar of a song seem to the listener to be contained in the present. All the changes of place of a meteor seem to the beholder to be contained in the present."
William James 1890 "In short, the practically cognized present is no knife-edge, but a saddle-back, with a certain breadth of its own on which we sit perched, and from which we look in two directions into time. The unit of composition of our perception of time is a duration, with a bow and a stern, as it were -- a rearward -- and a forward-looking end" Chapter 15. http://psychclassics.yorku.ca/James/Principles/prin15.htm
Kant 1781: "Only on the presupposition of time can we represent to ourselves a number of things as existing at one and the same time (simultaneously) or at different times (successively)." Kant, I. (1781) Critique of Pure Reason. Trans. Norman Kemp Smith with preface by Howard Caygill. Pub: Palgrave Macmillan. http://www.hkbu.edu.hk/~ppp/cpr/toc.html

Having finished the review of the history of empirical descriptions of consciousness the text then focusses on the early debate about the location of consciousness. This is normal in textbooks on this subject which introduce the ideas of Realism (both direct and indirect), Dualism and Idealism.

The concept of supervenience is introduced in a non-technical way.

Assertion 5: The text is based on definitions of supervenience such as that due to Chalmers(1996):

"B properties supervene on A properties if no two possible situations are identical with respect to their A properties whilst differing in their B properties (Chalmers(1996) p 33)."
or by Lewis 1986 "A dot-matrix picture has global properties -- it is symmetrical, it is cluttered, and whatnot -- and yet all there is to the picture is dots and non-dots at each point of the matrix. The global properties are nothing but patterns in the dots. They supervene: no two pictures could differ in their global properties without differing, somewhere, in whether there is or there isn't a dot". Lewis, D., 1986, On the Plurality of Worlds, Oxford: Blackwell.
The question has been asked by philosophers whether the properties of conscious experience, the pattern that is conscious experience, supervenes on the properties of the physical world. Dualists, like Chalmers, consider that this is not the case:
"In this chapter, however, I will argue that consciousness escapes the net of reductive explanation. ...To make the case against reductive explanation, we need to show that consciousness is not logically supervenient on the physical. In principle, we need to show that it does not supervene globally - that is, that all the microphysical facts in the world do not entail the facts about consciousness" Chalmers (1996) Chapter 3 p 93 The Conscious Mind. Oxford University Press.
So the claim that dualism is closely linked to lack of supervenience is common in the literature.

Assertion 6: That Cartesian Dualism and Reid's Natural Dualism involves a belief that consciousness does not supervene on the physical.

Text: "As an example, Descartes proposed that the contents of consciousness are images in the brain and the viewing point is some special, non-physical place without extension (the Res Cogitans). This idea is known as 'Cartesian Dualism'. Another example is found in the work of Thomas Reid who thought the contents of consciousness are the world itself which becomes conscious experience in some way through a chain of cause and effect."
Defence:
Chalmers (1996) describes Cartesian Dualism, in the context of supervenience, as: "a separate realm of mental substance that exerts its own influence on physical processes"(p124)
Descartes describes the experience of a point, unextended mind. It is important to note that Descartes considered the part of conscious experience that is extended to be a pattern in the brain part of his body: "... And although I may, or rather, as I will shortly say, although I certainly do possess a body with which I am very closely conjoined; nevertheless, because, on the one hand, I have a clear and distinct idea of myself, in as far as I am only a thinking and unextended thing, and as, on the other hand, I possess a distinct idea of body, in as far as it is only an extended and unthinking thing, it is certain that I, [that is, my mind, by which I am what I am], is entirely and truly distinct from my body, and may exist without it." (Meditations VI, 9)
Descartes, R. (1641). Meditations on First Philosophy. http://oregonstate.edu/instruct/phl302/texts/descartes/meditations/Meditation6.html
Reid's Natural Dualism is literally the idea of a point soul looking at the world and hence similar to Cartesian Dualism except that the things seen are in the world rather than in the brain:
".. I take it for granted, upon the testimony of common sense, that my mind is a substance-that is, a permanent subject of thought; and my reason convinces me that it is an unextended and invisible substance; and hence I infer that there cannot be in it anything that resembles extension" Reid, T. (1764). An Inquiry into the Human Mind on the Principles of Common Sense. Edited by Brookes, Derek. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1997.
"It is therefore acknowledged by this philosopher to be a natural instinct or prepossession, a universal and primary opinion of all men, a primary instinct of nature, that the objects which we immediately perceive by our senses are not images in our minds, but external objects, and that their existence is independent of us and our perception." (Thomas Reid Essays, 14)"
Chalmers' version of Natural Dualism seems to be Property Dualism. This has not been mentioned in the article but may deserve a line.

Assertion 7: Text: "The precise physical substrate of conscious experience in the world, such as photons, photochemicals, quantum fields etc. is not specified. "

"How a sensation should instantly make us conceive and believe the existence of an external thing altogether unlike it, I do not pretend to know; and when I say that the one suggests the other, I mean not to explain the manner of their connection, but to express a fact, which everyone may be conscious of namely, that, by a law of our nature, such a conception and belief constantly and immediately follow the sensation." Reid, T. (1764). An Inquiry into the Human Mind on the Principles of Common Sense. Edited by Brookes, Derek. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1997.

Assertion 8: Text: "This idea of a chain of cause and effect or chain of relations causing conscious experience to supervene on the world is found in post-modernism and some forms of behaviourism."

In the case of post-modernism: "The first consequence to be drawn [from Saussure and the arbitrariness of the sign and the constitution of meaning by différance] is that the signified concept is never present in and of itself, in a sufficient presence that would refer only to itself. Essentially (that is, of its being) and lawfully, every concept is inscribed in a chain or in a system within which it refers to the other, to other concepts, by means of the systematic play of differences" (Derrida 1982, 'Differance')
This assertion has now been removed as unnecessary to the articleloxley 13:35, 13 October 2005 (UTC)

Assertion 9: Text: "Some philosophers such as functionalists and eliminativists believe that the qualia that empiricist philosophers describe as being attributes of the contents of consciousness are solely judgements or beliefs about things in the world."

See for instance Dennett 1988: "The infallibilist line on qualia treats them as properties of one's experience one cannot in principle misdiscover, and this is a mysterious doctrine (at least as mysterious as papal infallibility) unless we shift the emphasis a little and treat qualia as logical constructs out of subjects' qualia-judgments: a subject's experience has the quale F if and only if the subject judges his experience to have quale F. "
Having identified "properties" with "judgement of properties" he can then show that the judgements are insubstantial, hence the properties are insubstantial and hence the qualia are insubstantial or even non-existent. Dennett concludes that qualia can be rejected as non-existent:
"So when we look one last time at our original characterization of qualia, as ineffable, intrinsic, private, directly apprehensible properties of experience, we find that there is nothing to fill the bill. In their place are relatively or practically ineffable public properties we can refer to indirectly via reference to our private property-detectors-- private only in the sense of idiosyncratic. And insofar as we wish to cling to our subjective authority about the occurrence within us of states of certain types or with certain properties, we can have some authority--not infallibility or incorrigibility, but something better than sheer guessing--but only if we restrict ourselves to relational, extrinsic properties like the power of certain internal states of ours to provoke acts of apparent re- identification. So contrary to what seems obvious at first blush, there simply are no qualia at all. " Dennett, D. (1988). Quining Qualia. in A. Marcel and E. Bisiach, eds, Consciousness in Modern Science, Oxford University Press 1988. Reprinted in W. Lycan, ed., Mind and Cognition: A Reader, MIT Press, 1990, A. Goldman, ed. Readings in Philosophy and Cognitive Science, MIT Press, 1993. http://ase.tufts.edu/cogstud/papers/quinqual.htm

Assertion 10: Text "It is sometimes held that consciousness will emerge from the complexity of brain processing (see for instance the Multiple Drafts Model of consciousness)."

Dennett, in response to Searle "They just can't imagine how understanding could be a property that emerges from lots of distributed quasi-understanding in a large system" Daniel C Dennett. (1991). Consciousness Explained. Little, Brown & Co. USA. Available as a Penguin Book.(p439).

Assertion 11: Text "The general label 'emergence' allows a new physical phenomenon to be implied by physicalist theorists without specifying the exact nature of the phenomenon. This leaves an explanatory gap." This speaks for itself but see, for instance, the Wikipedia entry on emergence.

"For a phenomenon to be termed emergent it should generally be unexpected and unpredictable from a lower level description." See: emergence.

Assertion 12: That physical theories of consciousness are usually indirect realist (ie: hold that there is a field of things in the brain that explains consciousness). Read through the links to these theories in Wikipedia. The numerous space-time and electromagnetic theories of consciousness are largely indirect realist. Hammeroff's version of QM and Targ's version of space-time theory are exceptions, Hammeroff's and Targ's theories are mixed direct realist/indirect realist.

Assertion 13:. Text "Direct Realists see the explanatory gap in terms of access consciousness and expect an explanation to emerge from an understanding of the complexity of neural processing."

Unlucky 13. All Direct Realists do not see the explanatory gap in these terms. This entry is incorrect and will be changed.

Assertions added

Assertion 14: PeterBokulich added "Descartes believes that conscious thought is an activity of nonmaterial, non-extended minds, a view now known as 'Cartesian Dualism.'" Not entirely correct, Cartesian Dualism is also the concept of a point soul that views the extended senses communis. However, this assertion needs to be made.

New Text: Descartes believed that the Res Cogitans was responsible for unextended things such as thoughts:
"anything we experience as being in us, and which we see can also exist in wholly inanimate bodies, must be attributed only to our body. On the other hand, anything in us which we cannot conceive in any way as capable of belonging to a body must be attributed to our soul. Thus, because we have no conception of the body as thinking in any way at all, we have reason to believe that every kind of thought present in us belongs to the soul. And since we do not doubt that there are inanimate bodies which can move in as many different ways as our bodies, if not more, and which have as much heat or more […], we must believe that all the heat and all the movements present in us, in so far as they do not depend on thought, belong solely to the body" (Passions of the soul)
Note that Descartes, contrary to modern usage, considers IDEAS to be extended images. In Meditation III, 5, thoughts create ideas which become the object of thoughts.

Philos, I re-instated your edit of postmodernism/behaviourism - the point is not worth making here, I am also happy with your edit of the last paragraph but it needed some mention of indirect realism. Our main disagreement is about this paragraph: "Some philosophers such as functionalists and eliminativists believe that the qualia that empiricist descriptions attribute to the contents of consciousness are solely judgements or beliefs about things in the world. Other philosophers doubt that experience can be redefined as belief"

Dennett is an arch eliminativist but the functionalists also regard experience as "folk psychology".loxley 12:17, 13 October 2005 (UTC)

I'm sorry, but there are still many mistakes here. It's just not true that "The idea that experience supervenes directly on brain activity is known as Indirect realism". Indirect realism is the view that we perceive ordinary objects by perceiving mental objects such as sense-data. For exposition, see http://www.people.fas.harvard.edu/~ssiegel/papers/DRPC.htm. I think this misunderstanding of direct and indirect realism is responsible for much of the strangeness in this section.
Firstly, thank you for discussing changes here. On the subject of indirect realism:
"The indirect realist agrees that the coffee cup exists independently of me. However, through perception I do not directly engage with this cup; there is a perceptual intermediary that comes between it and me. Ordinarily I see myself via an image in a mirror, or a football match via an image on the TV screen. The indirect realist claim is that all perception is mediated in something like this way." Realism Internet encyclopedia of philosophy
In your reference the reviewer writes "Indirect realism is the view that we perceive mind-independent ordinary objects, but can only do so indirectly, by perceiving mind-dependent objects: objects whose existence depends on being perceived or thought about."
Here is a typical reference from a proponent of an electromagnetic field theory of consciousness http://cns-alumni.bu.edu/~slehar/webstuff/bubw3/bubw3.html in which the author says "Indirect realism offers direct evidence for a spatial representation in the brain".
The assertion in the text is that "The idea that experience supervenes directly on brain activity is known as Indirect realism". There is no doubt that if experience is brain activity there is a perceptual intermediary that comes between the coffee cup and me. Perhaps the problem here is that "mind" to a physicalist means some phenomenon related to brain activity, not a non-physical thing. I am going to change the text to "The idea that experience supervenes directly on brain activity is a type of Indirect realism". loxley 10:29, 14 October 2005 (UTC)
Also, it's not true that functionalists or eliminativists hold that the contents of consciousness are the contents of beliefs or judgments. A few of them may hold this, e.g. Dennett, but many don't, and some non-functionalists and non-eliminativists hold this too. If you want to have this view mentioned, it would be better to attribute it to specific people such as Dennett or David Armstrong. (It's also completely false that "objects of" and "experience of" are functionalist and eliminativist locutions.)
My contention is that functionalists and eliminativists really do believe that some process or function (a belief or judgement) is the contents of consciousness rather than qualia. I could be wrong so please supply just one reference from one bona fide functionalist or eliminativist to show that this is false.loxley 10:29, 14 October 2005 (UTC)
Peter Bokulich is correct in his comments on Descartes. Also, the mention of Descartes needs "ideas of" to be accurate. Descartes thought consciousness comprises ideas of external things, not the external things themselves.
See discussion with Peter Bokulich below.loxley 10:29, 14 October 2005 (UTC)
Finally, the sentence on supervenience is still extremely poorly phrased, and the first two sentences of the second paragraph are largely redundant.
The first two sentences cover the historical view of conscious experience from Plato to Reid and should not be edited out. Many philosophers have provided this description whether they are realist, dualist or idealist. It much of what they are talking about put in simple, layman's language. loxley 10:29, 14 October 2005 (UTC)
I will edit a bit along the lines above. I understand that you mean well, so I'd suggest that you might hold off for a while on re-editing and reverting, in the circumstances. --Philos 03:18, 14 October 2005 (UTC)
Don't patronise, it is irrelevant to the task at hand. loxley 10:29, 14 October 2005 (UTC)
I'm sorry, but you have left no good alternative but to patronize. Your discussion is full of mistakes. Experts in the field have pointed them out repeatedly, and edited the article. When they do so, you revert the changes, and respond with pages of text full of non sequiturs and further misunderstanding, quotations that simply do not support your points, and so on. When people go patiently over details, your extended non sequiturs continue. Even if the rest of us had infinite time to respond to every last point, it would be futile, as your understanding of this area is so poor that the process would not terminate. So instead, we have simply pointed out a number of clear cases of mistakes in your text, and suggested that you desist from the aggressive re-editing. Somewhere around this point, appeals to authority are the best way to go. It is relevant that the figure (David Chalmers) who you have repeatedly invoked as an authority in this area himself has stated that you are incorrect on these issues.
The problem here is that you have looked at a section on the description and location of consciousness and interpreted it as a section on the philosphy of consciousness. It is now hard for you to back off without losing face.
On the points above: no, the idea that experiences supervenes on brain activity is not remotely a form of indirect realism. Some indirect realists (like Lehar above) think that experiences supervenes on brain activity. Some indirect realists (dualist sense-datum theorists) think it does not. More importantly, many, many people think experience supervenes on brain activity without being indirect realists. In fact the majority of theorists in this area accept the former and deny the latter. Read, say A.D. Smith's The Problem of Perception for a defense of direct realism that never denies supervenience.
The piece does need a link to indirect realism. Yes you are quite right, the wording is slack. What about: "The idea that experience about things beyond the body might supervene directly on brain activity is a type of Indirect realism." - or perhaps you could supply the form of words to provide the link. Please contribute. loxley 09:48, 15 October 2005 (UTC)
As for functionalism, see the Stanford encyclopedia of philosophy entry on functionalism (and especially the section on qualia) for a basic exposition of functionalism in which the claims you mention about beliefs and judgments play no role. Of course some functionalists such as Dennett connect qualia to judgment, but this is not part of the content of functionalism per se.
So you could not find a paper. Anyway, I am happy to leave the piece as you left it.loxley 09:48, 15 October 2005 (UTC)
I note that none of these matters are matters of ideology. They are simple matters of understanding. The discussion we are having now is the sort of discussion I would have with an enthusiastic undergraduate who is keen on the subject and who has some ideas but who so far hasn't quite grasped the central issues in a precise way. If this material were submitted in a term paper, it would receive a low passing grade and a suggestion that extensive further reading is needed. I think it is disastrous for material like this to be on the web in a reference work. Please desist. --Philos 22:51, 14 October 2005 (UTC)
Well, yes, there is one matter of ideology, the major one, which is that Aristotle, Plato, Descartes, Locke, Hume, Kant etc. have described conscious experience as things distributed in space and time and seemingly viewed from a point. Most of the quotes and discussion above is on this issue. You commented that "I think it is disastrous for material like this to be on the web in a reference work", whatever you think, if the text is correct then it is right to be in this reference work. The quotations given above support this central theme of the section. I can provide more, from other philosophers if you wish.
Lets work on the text rather than on how you feel you are more qualified and have more supporters than me. This section is on the description and location of consciousness. There is undoubtedly a need for another section on 'philosophy of the nature of consciousness' or similar. Please write it. loxley 09:48, 15 October 2005 (UTC)
Thank you, Loxley, for your inclusion of my “point about thoughts,” but far more extensive revisions are desperately called for here. I take it from your below statements that you really do believe that Descartes holds that ideas are extended things, but a little reflection should suffice to show that this cannot be correct.
Your quotation #2 makes the point that ideas are in consciousness, in the mind. The mind, of course is a thinking thing, a “thing that doubts, understands affirms, denies, wills, refuses, and that also imagines and senses” (Med. 2). Thus thought, consciousness, is an activity of the mind, and I take it you agree that Descartes holds that the mind is a emphatically not an extended thing.
What are ideas? They are, Descartes tells us, modes of thought: “insofar as the ideas are merely modes of thought, I see no inequality among them. . . . But insofar as one idea represents on thing and another idea another thing, it is obvious that they do differ very greatly from one another” (Med. 3). Thus ideas are ways that the unextended mind can behave--but such activity clearly cannot be extended. Of course, some of our ideas *represent* extended things, or even extension itself, but this is quite far from having the ideas themselves extended. My idea of Hansa the elephant does not weigh two thousand pounds, and my idea of God is not itself omnipotent, omnibenevolant, etc.
Now, it’s hard to see what it is in your quotation #3 that you think justifies your claim that Descartes’ view is one of “things laid out in space and time that are viewed from a point.” Of course, we do have ideas that *represent* extension, shape, etc. Further, we can *imagine* extended things. But nothing in that quotation implies that the ideas themselves are extended--indeed, isn’t the very notion absurd? How could a mile-long idea fit inside my skull, let alone inside an object completely without extension such as my mind?
I put in the sentence about "ideas" because of your sentence about thoughts and removal of any reference to Descartes' empirical description of conscious experience as extended. I am going to remove the sentence because there is no need to discuss Descartes' terminology in the article. However, I do not concede your point. Descartes believed that when he imagined forms he was affecting the body to create the form:
"3. I remark, besides, that this power of imagination which I possess, in as far as it differs from the power of conceiving, is in no way necessary to my [nature or] essence, that is, to the essence of my mind; for although I did not possess it, I should still remain the same that I now am, from which it seems we may conclude that it depends on something different from the mind. And I easily understand that, if some body exists, with which my mind is so conjoined and united as to be able, as it were, to consider it when it chooses, it may thus imagine corporeal objects; so that this mode of thinking differs from pure intellection only in this respect, that the mind in conceiving turns in some way upon itself, and considers some one of the ideas it possesses within itself; but in imagining it turns toward the body, and contemplates in it some object conformed to the idea which it either of itself conceived or apprehended by sense." Meditations VI
So he conceived his consciousness as conjoined to a bodily extension (ie: forms in the pineal) whether ideas that had extension were from the senses or derived from thought.
As for "how could a mile long idea fit inside my skull", please read Descartes' Treatise on Man where he shows, in fig 2, using standard geometrical optics, how large forms in the environment create small forms on the retina (images) which are transferred to the senses communis. But you knew this, surely? loxley 15:50, 14 October 2005 (UTC)
And what exactly is the *size* of the idea that my pituitary gland transfers to my nonmaterial mind? Is it the size of the mile-long object? It one centimeter long like image on the back of my retina? Smaller yet, because it has to squeeze down into the gland? Of course, there are extended things in my brain, and yes, there is much to be said about Descartes' account of sensation and imagination, but the simple point stands: my idea of mile-long object is not itself a mile in length.PeterBokulich 18:10, 14 October 2005 (UTC)
While we’re at it, it is very misleading to emphasize qualia as the contents of conscious when discussing Descartes, precisely because he considered most (all?) of these ideas to be “confused.” (See your quotation #2.)
No Descartes is not confused, in paragraph 3 he resolves the confusion: "2. But before considering whether such objects as I conceive exist without me, I must examine their ideas in so far as these are to be found in my consciousness, and discover which of them are distinct and which confused.
3. In the first place, I distinctly imagine that quantity which the philosophers commonly call continuous, or the extension in length, breadth, and depth that is in this quantity, or rather in the object to which it is attributed. Further, I can enumerate in it many diverse parts, and attribute to each of these all sorts of sizes, figures, situations, and local motions; and, in fine, I can assign to each of these motions all degrees of duration."(Meditation V). Descartes, R. (1641). Meditations on First Philosophy. http://oregonstate.edu/instruct/phl302/texts/descartes/meditations/Meditation5.html
I did not emphasise qualia but just pointed out that philosophers use the name 'qualia' for the qualities attached to things (Descartes does this). The actual text reads: "Each thing appears as a result of some quality such as colour, smell etc. (philosophers call these qualities qualia)." This is scarcely contentious. See "Treatise on Man" where Descartes lumps qualia in with distance: "And note that by 'figures' I mean not only things which somehow represent the position of the edges and surfaces of objects, but also anything which, as I said above, can give the soul occasion to perceive movement, size, distance, colours, sounds, smells and other such qualities." loxley 10:29, 14 October 2005 (UTC)
I never said that Descartes (i.e., his account) was confused, I said that he believes some of his *ideas,* or conceptions, are confused, i.e., not clear and distinct: "However, they are perhaps not exactly what we perceive by the senses, since this comprehension by the senses in in many instances very obscure and confused; but we must at least admit that all things which I conceive in them clearly and distinctly, that is to say, all things which, speaking generally are comprehended in the object of pure mathematics, are truly to be recognized as external objects" (Med. 6). Descartes' point here, of course, is an articulation of his mechanical philosophy, his belief that extension and motion are the only *real* properties of non-thinking objects. My point is that, in addition to avoiding mistatements about the nature of ideas in D.'s scheme, you should also avoid claims that sweep in notions that D.is primarily concerned with in the Meditations (e.g., pure extension, thought, mind, God) with things that he was not overly concerned with (qualia).PeterBokulich 18:10, 14 October 2005 (UTC)
Descartes would consider paradigmatic ideas to be his idea of himself and his idea of God. These are obviously contents of his consciousness- -he makes do with little else in Meditations Two through Four, but these have no qualia associated with them whatsoever (and are certainly not “laid out in space and time”). And, while on this topic, it is worth noting that our idea of God is *innate,* which clearly indicates that Descartes is not an empiricist. Indeed Descartes is invariably listed as one of the three continental *rationalists* (the others being Spinoza and Leibniz) who are contrasted with the British Empiricists. Also, Cartesian Dualism is obviously an *ontological* position about what sort of things exist (Descartes counts two: extended things and thinking things); your account of a “viewing point,” a “non-physical place” does not capture this accurately.
It seems you have a confusion between Descartes' general and interpretative ideas in philosophy and his empirical descriptions of conscious experience. Descartes was not a British Empiricist but he was a philosopher who gave long empirical descriptions of what it is like to be conscious. Descartes, Locke and Hume in particular, and Malebranche, Kant and Reid in parts, all give good empirical descriptions of what it is like to be human. If you like we could swap Plato, Locke and Hume for Descartes and get the same result, as I point out, many philosophers have described experience as extended. The contention that these philosophers did not describe their experience as extended in both space and time amazes me. I have provided several references above that show that philosophers have described experience as extended and could provide dozens more. The idea of a "point soul" looking at the contents of consciousness is straight out of the "mind's eye" idea of Plato etc. and is replicated explicitly by Descartes, Malebranche and Reid (to name but three). Why do you want to rewrite history? loxley 10:29, 14 October 2005 (UTC)
Insofar as you'd like to explain what D. believed about what sensation or imagination is subjectively *like*, I think that much of what you say is defensible to some degree. The problem comes in when you do not articulate claims that are defensible, but instead make claims that are blatantly false, such as, "Descartes described consciousness as things laid out in space," or worse, "[It] is obviously false [that] Descartes regarded the contents of his consciousness as unextended." This flies in the face of a very basic understanding of Descartes' claim that minds are unextended things and the only things that are extended are material bodies. I'm not saying that the point you're *trying* to articulate is false; I'm just saying that your actual claim is false -- or, at very least, dangerously misleading. Your suggestion to articulate more clearly that you are speaking of "phenomenal consciousness" is a step towards correcting this problem, but I think more needs to be done, some of which I did myself in my edits that you removed.
The section is about the description and location of consciousness. Another section on philosophical speculation on the nature of consciousness is actually required, perhaps you could write it.
You say that " I think that much of what you say is defensible to some degree", yes, in the context of the description of consciousness by philosophers through the last 450 years. I think some of the critics of the "description and location" section are interpreting it as a global survey of the philosophy of consciousness. It is not, the section consists of a summary of empirical descriptions and their relationship to the field.
Your statement that I have made claims that are blatantly false is sweeping, if we concentrate on the actual points you raised the claims are not false. Firstly, Descartes' use of the words "extended" and "unextended" do indeed refer to extension or lack of this in Cartesian space (he was, after all the originator of Cartesian Geometry). He says "In the first place, I distinctly imagine that quantity which the philosophers commonly call continuous, or the extension in length, breadth, and depth that is in this quantity, or rather in the object to which it is attributed.". This is space, he prefaces this description with "I must examine their ideas in so far as these are to be found in my consciousness", he is talking of things arranged in space in conscious experience. But it is not just Descartes who refers to the things in experience being arranged in space, Locke, Hume etc.. do as well. Secondly, Descartes is quite unusual in his use of the words "mind" and "consciousness", there is no doubt at all that he considers his mind and soul to be unextended but he can use "consciousness" interchangebly with what we would call "phenomenal consciousness" or "experience". Descartes does refer to things found "in my consciousness", ie: contents, that are extended but by consciousness he does not mean "mind".loxley 20:16, 14 October 2005 (UTC)


Even if you succeed in clarifying your topic, however, there is still the problem that your account lies quite far from the central project that Descartes undertakes in the _Meditations_. It is at least misleading to claim in the only reference to the _Meditations_, that they contain "extensive descriptions of what it is to be conscious" in your sense. Descartes' efforts are focused on showing the importance and primacy of non-experiential ideas (see his discussion of wax, in addition to his account of the mind and of God). He does, of course, describe various sensations, but it is unhelpful to give the impression that this is somehow central (or even important) to this work. Further, you again speak (inadvertently, I hope -- and perhaps it isn't your formulation) falsely when you claim that the soul (res cogitans) is a *place*. The soul is obviously a thing (res!), and this is what dualism is about: types of things. Now dualism may only be tangentially related to *your* narrative, but we should eliminate false statements such as this, and my edits did so. PeterBokulich 18:10, 14 October 2005 (UTC)
As I pointed out earlier, the section is about descriptions of consciousness, not about theology. Descartes is the father of the revival of interest in this topic in the seventeenth century and deserves pride of place but Locke etc. could be substituted, however, even with Locke, the description of consciousness is not central. The fact that philosophers who gave empirical descriptions had deep theological views or mainly considered moral philosophy etc., is not wholly relevant to the section. On the subject of the position of the unextended soul, all we can say is that it was a point that received input either from extended things in the brain or the world (Reid, Hamilton etc.). loxley 20:16, 14 October 2005 (UTC)
Now, for all these reasons, I think that you should leave in my edits, and that you should welcome Philos and others to make further changes in line with their earlier efforts.
Not if they are wrong on a point of fact, especially historical fact. Of course, you and Philos and anyone else can change the text if they are right but it is the responsibility of Wikipedians to ensure that statements are checked and correct. loxley 10:46, 14 October 2005 (UTC)
This article could use a good deal of further correction. The pessimist in me expects you simply to revert the text to your misleading account, which is too bad--this would be a disservice to a great number of people who might access this article.
Now come on, play the game fairly, don't just make snide comments, ex[lain what you mean. This section is on the description and location of consciousness, particularly phenomenal consciousness. If it is a misleading account it must be describing this in a way that is not common - but it is based on the work of famous philosophers. What is your problem, do you think that all the empirical descriptions of experience are not descriptions of phenomenal consciousness? loxley 11:02, 14 October 2005 (UTC)
The problem, as I see it, is that when there are disagreements, and there have clearly been many to judge by a glance at the comments, you eliminate revisions in favor of your own reading until and unless someone can convince you that this is erroneous or misleading. If you were instead to leave edits by Philos, me, and others until you convinced *us* that your formulations had merit, the article would be much improved (as a number of people have attested). Our time is precious, however, and we cannot constantly be restoring our edits, nor can we spend hours explaining points that we feel should be obvious to most people acquainted with the field. I'm not interested in "playing the game," but I do want this article to be free of false and misleading claims. Best wishes, PeterBokulich 18:10, 14 October 2005 (UTC)
There was a text here already in a section dealing with the description and location of consciousness and you came along and removed it, replacing it with a truncated text that did not cover the description of consciousness. As it happens I have agreed with much of the editing done by Philos but your removal of an entire section about descriptions was unwarranted. I have shown at great length why the original text was there and I think I have made the point that it was indeed accurate and justified. The "game" is providing an encyclopedia entry for consciousness that is neutral, within the open Wikipedia environment where facts are most important. My suggestion is that you write a further section on philosophical explanations of the nature of consciousness which should complement the section on philosophical descriptions of what it is like to be conscious. loxley 20:16, 14 October 2005 (UTC)
The current version, even with my quick adjustments, is likely to mislead many students--the unadjusted version threatens to confuse students to such a degree that they could be in danger of failing assignments for my course. (Fortunately, the student in question did not trust the article, and brought it to my attention. The comments from Professor Chalmers and others lead me to believe that students in their classes are also unlikely to be helped by the current state of the article.)
Perhaps you should cover these empirical ideas, including the idea of the "mind's eye" (cf: Plato/Pythagoras/Aristotle/Descartes/Malebranche/Leibniz etc) in your course and give the reasons why some philosophers have rejected these empirical ideas on the basis of theory and how some scientists have discussed QM and space-time in an attempt at explaining them. loxley 12:41, 14 October 2005 (UTC)
However, I have too little time to devote any substantial portion of it to editing articles such as this, so if you restore your misleading account of Descartes, I shall not correct it again. If you have genuine questions, I’ll be happy to do what I can to answer them, as I’m sure, will Philos, Professor Chalmers, and others--to the extent that our schedules allow. Best wishes, PeterBokulich 03:38, 14 October 2005 (UTC)
I have an idea that a group has formed to attack this section of the article, fine, so long as you are reasonable. Let me explain the basis of the section. It is intended for people with a good school level of education, it describes phenomenal consciousness (which as Chalmers notes is the hard problem), it refers to the reports of actual philosophers for this description and connects these descriptions of phenomenal consciousness to various philosophical movements, hyperlinks being provided for each movement. There were a few poorly worded sentences and I thank you and Philos for pointing them out, this is how Wikipedia works. If you want a more technical section in the article on the movements in philosophy related to the interpretation of consciousness, or ideas of the nature of consciousness, please create a new section. Such a section is probably needed. loxley 10:29, 14 October 2005 (UTC)
It has just dawned on me that a major problem giving rise to this debate is the first sentence in the section: "Although it is the conventional wisdom that consciousness cannot be defined, philosophers have been describing it for centuries". Perhaps this should be: "Although it is the conventional wisdom that consciousness cannot be defined, philosophers have been describing phenomenal consciousness for centuries".loxley 10:29, 14 October 2005 (UTC)

Descartes odd use of the word idea is well known in philosophy see Treatise of Man 177 for instance. Is it really Chalmers and Bokulich who are getting it wrong? Ho ho ho.

It doesn't matter who is getting it wrong, what is important is that the text in the article is wrong. Thank you for the reference:
"Now among these figures, it is not those imprinted on the external sense organs, or on the internal surface of the brain, which should be taken to be ideas - but only those which are traced in the spirits on the surface of gland H (where the seat of the imagination and the 'common sense' is located). That is to say, it is only the latter figures which should be taken to be the forms or images which the rational soul united to this machine will consider directly when it imagines some object or perceives it by the senses.
And note that I say 'imagines or perceives by the senses'. For I wish to apply the term 'idea' generally to all impressions which the spirits can receive as they leave gland H. These are to be attributed to the 'common' sense when they depend on the presence of objects; but they may also proceed from many other causes (as I shall explain later), and they should then be attributed to the imagination. (Treatise on Man)"
This shows that Descartes thought of ideas as extended things in the sensus communis and thought of the unextended soul as considering the sensus communis directly. It is a concept of a point soul viewing the sensus communis (the "common sense"). It should be noticed that even Descartes occasionally uses the word "ideas" in the usual sense (it would be hard to avoid this), however he provides a technical definition of another sort of "idea" that he uses in his description of mind and body.
Whether Descartes' "ideas" are passive, as a result of sensation or active as a result of the imagination they are still extended representations:
"Descartes is offering a broadly representational picture of how ideas might relate to reality. Ideas of particular objects 'represent' the world. This in turn has several consequences. (a) Ideas are different from things in the world. (This already moves Descartes towards a broadly realist epistemology, and thus can be interestingly contrasted with the idealism of Berkeley.) (b) Ideas (at least of secondary qualities) do not resemble the world: my idea or feeling of hunger (to take one of Descartes' favorite examples) has no resemblance to whatever may be happening in my stomach, if I have a stomach." Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy
Those who believe that the account given in WIkipedia is wrong should write to the compilers of the Internet Encyclopedia to censor their description of Descartes' ideas and also to the Stanford Encyclopedia about their use of the term in the section on the pineal. Descartes' ideas are definitely passive when it comes to sensation. He shows this in Meditation VI:
"There is certainly further in me a certain passive faculty of perception, that is, of receiving and recognizing the ideas of sensible things, but this would be useless to me [and I could in no way avail myself of it], if there were not either in me or in some other thing another active faculty capable of forming and producing these ideas. But this active faculty cannot exist in me [inasmuch as I am a thing that thinks] seeing that it does not presuppose thought, and also that those ideas are often produced in me without my contributing in any way to the same, and often even against my will; it is thus necessarily the case that the faculty resides in some substance different from me in which all the reality which is objectively in the ideas that are produced by this faculty is formally or eminently contained, as I remarked before. And this substance is either a body, that is, a corporeal nature in which there is contained formally [and really] all that which is objectively [and by representation] in those ideas, or it is God Himself, or some other creature more noble than body in which that same is contained eminently. But, since God is no deceiver, it is very manifest that He does not communicate to me these ideas immediately and by Himself, nor yet by the intervention of some creature in which their reality is not formally, but only eminently, contained." (Meditation VI).
This wraps it up, to Descartes ideas are defined in a peculiar way as extended and usually passive. If we allow the normal usage of the term "ideas" in the article we are misleading students and academic philosophers.
Most importantly, the use of "ideas" in the normal sense will deprive students of the essential information needed to understand Locke, Hume, Berkeley and others who frequently used the term to mean various types of representation. It will also deprive them of the essential connection from Descartes back to Aristotle who believed that a mind is its contents.
I am going to remove the "ideas of" inserted by Philos within 3 days if there is no response to this entry. I will also restore the opening sentence of the second paragraph that says that philosophers have given us a description of conscious experience that is like our own experience.
Philos and Bokulich, please understand that this is a matter of historical accuracy and essential to understanding 17th, 18th and much of 19th century philosophy. If you want to show that some philosophers view the concept of experience being distributed in space and time as absurd please start a new section on philosophical concepts of the nature of consciousness to complement this section. loxley 09:15, 17 October 2005 (UTC)
I cannot follow the relevance of the above to the issue concerning the article. Yes, of course Descartes thought that ideas are representational. That's why it's misleading to say that he described conscious experience as "things laid out in space and time that are viewed from a point". That makes Descartes sound like a naive realist (what you've been calling a direct realist), according to which consciousness consists of objects perceived in the external world, rather than a representationalist, according to which consciousness involves representations of those things. It's much less misleading to say that Descartes thought that consciousness involves ideas (representations) of those things. N.B. Whether those ideas are themselves extended items in the brain or unextended items in the mind is a quite separate issue (it's probably best not to get into the vexed issue of the apparent variation in usage between the Meditations and the Treatise of Man). What's important is that the ideas, which are what's involved in consciousness, are distinct from the relevant things in the external world. And that's precisely what the quote above from the Internet Encyclopedia says. --Philos 02:40, 18 October 2005 (UTC)
The original change that I have been opposing from the very beginning is "ideas of things arranged in space and time" being substituted for "things arranged in space and time". It was this that gave rise to this whole debate. The insertion of "ideas of" is not only technically incorrect but changes the whole nature of the article. The original article embraces a whole history of the philosophy of consciousness from Aristotle's viewing of sense organs from a point through to Berkeley's "passive ideas" and Reid's directly connected soul. The change converts the section into a twentieth century discussion about functions and processing. The original version says that, given this simple description how have philosophers tried to explain it? These explanations embrace early direct realism, naive realism, dualism, representationalism, indirect realism as well as early idealism.
Hard though it may be to believe in these modern times, Descartes really did think that there was a point in his head viewing the pineal gland. He describes in depth how the form of an animal would make a form on the pineal gland then says this form is seen by the point soul ie: "By this means the two images which are in the brain form but one upon the gland, which, acting immediately upon the soul, causes it to see the form of the animal."(passions of the soul 356). He really did describe "ideas" as extended things.
You write that "What's important is that the ideas, which are what's involved in consciousness, are distinct from the relevant things in the external world. And that's precisely what the quote above from the Internet Encyclopedia says". This is indeed the concept of the section, please read it again, it says that philosophers have described phenomenal consciousness as things laid out in space and time that are viewed from a point but have had fierce differences about where these things are to be found - representations in the brain or directly the world beyond the body (it should really have covered idealism as well).
The "ideas of" has got to go. In the context of Descartes it is simply wrong. The article could say "ideas such as imaginings and perceptions arranged in space and time" but this would require a long diversion about Descartes' idea of ideas (!).
We should really have devoted our efforts to writing another section on modern interpretations and explanations of consciousness rather than writing an acre of text on two sentences about Descartes; that said, I have perversely enjoyed having a motivation for re-reading the stodgy old philosopher! loxley 08:59, 18 October 2005 (UTC)

Descartes' ideas

"2. But before considering whether such objects as I conceive exist without me, I must examine their ideas in so far as these are to be found in my consciousness, and discover which of them are distinct and which confused." Meditation V http://oregonstate.edu/instruct/phl302/texts/descartes/meditations/Meditation5.html

Descartes was an empiricist and regarded dreams, perceptions etc as ideas that enter experience. Subsequent philosophers have used the same terminology. The substitution of objects of is a misrepresentation of Descartes. The terms "Objects of" and "experience of" are a functionalist/eliminativist slant, the empiricists were generally aware of this and tried to describe experience as it is. Descartes drew heavily from Aristotle who said that: "In every case the mind which is actively thinking is the objects which it thinks." (ie: not a thought about what it is thinking with an endless recursion).

Your account of Descartes makes it sound like ideas, thoughts, are extended things. This is obviously false (or at the very least is a highly controversial reading that doesn't belong in an encyclopedia entry). Ideas according to Descartes are "modes of thought," and thought is obviously the activity of the non-extended, nonmaterial mind. Thus ideas are certainly not extended. Of course, we do have ideas of extended objects, but these are no more extended than our idea of an elephant is an elephant. (Also, Descartes is usually considered an arch-rationalist, *not* an empiricist.) PeterBokulich 03:22, 13 October 2005 (UTC)
Your account makes it seems as if Descartes regarded the contents of his consciousness as unextended. This is obviously false (or at the very least is a highly controversial reading that doesn't belong in an encyclopedia entry). The original quotations from Descartes are given in the section above, please direct your comments to that section. loxley 10:27, 13 October 2005 (UTC)

Wow, this is all very embarressing to observe. Descartes did not believe that the mind was extended. Go read Descarted if you think otherwise, the parts you quote do not support an assertion to the contrary.

Please read the section on the analysis of the article above where this is explained. Of course I am not saying that Descartes thought the mind was extended but he does indeed state that that his conscious experience is extended and the section of the article that we are discussing is about the description of conscious experience. Descartes defines "mind" and "soul" as defined by unextended experience, extended experience being in the body (senses communis) - obviously an unextended mind is going to have a problem containing conscious experience that is extended so his definitions of "mind" and conscious experience do not overlap fully. The section above also discusses how Descartes thought the imagination can give rise to extended things by action on the body (the part of the body called the brain) so that ideas have extension. loxley 20:31, 14 October 2005 (UTC)