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March 18th, 09:40 PM   #1
sean
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Default Life with no perception or memory

I think about this a lot:
suppose that a baby is born without any working senses but he is still born with the parts of the brain that percieve the five senses. What i mean is, if a baby is born with broken sensory organs (he's blind, deaf, unable to feel, taste, etc) but his entire brain is intact. This baby is kept alive his full life through IVs, etc. Now this person has no input from the outside world. Would this person have anything resembling thought? What would the mind do? It would not have anything like a constant dream because it would have nothing to dream about. Would this person even be considered to be alive? Perhaps the person would retain a collective memory passed down evolutionally. For example, even though we don't know language at birth, we do have a "Universal Grammar" along with a notion of logic, and other certain instincts already built into us.

These are my questions:
1. Is there really such a thing as a tabula rasa (blank slate) mind?
2. If there are concepts in our mind that we have before we are born, will they be used if there is no output from the outside world?
3. If these constructs in the mind are used, will the person create in his mind his own universe, as we do when we dream (I beleive this is called solipsism)?
4. Will this universe contain sight, sound, feelings, tastes or smells?
5. Will this world resemble the real world at all? I mean, will there be solids, fluids, quantities, qualities, energy, etc?
6. Will the person's, let's say, ego be a subject in this universe it can explore (like we do in our dreams), or will it be an omniscient, omnipotent, pantheistic [pantheism: God=universe, universe=God] entity, that is the universe? That is, will the person's consciousness be able to explore the world, or will the person's conciousness BE the world?
7. Wll the person experience emotion?
8. What would happen if the person suddenly regained his senses? Would the person be able to adapt to the real world, at least somewhat? Or is he doomed to be lost and confused forever?
9. If the person is able to understand the world, would he have an "uncorrupted" mind, and be able to help mankind by seeing our many irrationalities?
10. Is it possible that we are in a universe that we created in our minds (brain in a vat theory)?
11. Or would a person with no input be as alive as a turned-off computer?

I know that that is a lot of questions, and a lot are hard to answer, but I would like to see what people think. Correct me if I have a definition/concept wrong.

Thanks.
 
March 26th, 01:38 PM   #2
contagiamous
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My response is in question form.
Are you so sure your not doing all of that as we speak?
Are you positive you are not in fact a person with no input to the outside world, not lying on a hospital table creating this universe?
I try to think about that before anything else.
 
March 26th, 06:03 PM   #3
Lomax
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Hello Sean,

This is the question of empricism versus rationalism. I am not sure it can be solved, as we are already experiencing and processing sensation by the time we come to communicate our philosophies.

I will try to give reasoning with my spin:

1) Yes; the mind does not begin with memories (as this is a contradiction). It perhaps begins to perceive as soon as it is formed; nonetheless, there would be an instant whereby the mind were blank. This is not to say that the mind has no intuitions (as Kant points out, we must have the intuition that what we preceive means something) but they are more like methods of processing, than thoughts. It is akin to the difference between a byte of used memory on a computer's hard drive, and a part of the central processing unit.

2) (3) This is a more difficult one, but I would say not. I don't think a person is self-conscious from birth, and therefore would not have thought processes constructed from memory and inner thought.

I guess that makes any answer I would give for (4), (5) or (6) redundant.

7) I would think not.

8) I see no reason why not, if the brain were still as healthy as it were at birth; the adaptation would doubtedly be instant, but a gradual process, as happens to young humans. In fact, I don't see why the experience would be any different.

9) No; rather, they would think as a newborn baby.

10) No; I take "universe" to mean "all that exists". Thus, the brain in a vat would be part of the universe. By this logic, the mind cannot create the universe, nor can anything else. It either began without cause or has always been here. Be careful of equivocational use of the word "universe" when listening to creationist theories.

11) As conscious, yes, but perhaps a little more alive. I guess that is just a matter of definition.

Lomax
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March 27th, 09:32 PM   #4
S.O. Teric
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Well, the physical world is a product of our senses. Without those senses, we'd either be unaware of a physical world or our internal biological world would become our physical world. Experiments have been done to see what people perceive when all sensory data is blocked, e.g., give someone a strong dose of a dissociative drug like ketamine and place them in an isolation tank: no light, sound, or tactile input. Actually Dr. John Lilly (the dolphin expert) performed such experiments on himself (in fact, to the point that he became addicted to ketamine). He wrote about the results in one of his books - believe it was The Center of the Cyclone.

Problem is, it's hard to compare the results of these experiments to your scenario because of course the minds of the study subjects were not blank slates, the sensory deprivation was only temporary.

P.S. - A record of John Lilly's strangest isolation tank trip:
http://67.55.50.201/lilly/conferencex.html

Last edited by S.O. Teric : March 27th at 09:53 PM.
 
March 30th, 06:12 PM   #5
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Hello S.O.Teric,

Quote:
Originally Posted by S.O. Teric
Well, the physical world is a product of our senses. Without those senses, we'd either be unaware of a physical world or our internal biological world would become our physical world.
I don't think the former follows from the latter.

Lomax
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May 4th, 12:25 AM   #6
sean
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lomax
Hello Sean,

This is the question of empricism versus rationalism. I am not sure it can be solved, as we are already experiencing and processing sensation by the time we come to communicate our philosophies.

I will try to give reasoning with my spin:

1) Yes; the mind does not begin with memories (as this is a contradiction). It perhaps begins to perceive as soon as it is formed; nonetheless, there would be an instant whereby the mind were blank. This is not to say that the mind has no intuitions (as Kant points out, we must have the intuition that what we preceive means something) but they are more like methods of processing, than thoughts. It is akin to the difference between a byte of used memory on a computer's hard drive, and a part of the central processing unit.

2) (3) This is a more difficult one, but I would say not. I don't think a person is self-conscious from birth, and therefore would not have thought processes constructed from memory and inner thought.

I guess that makes any answer I would give for (4), (5) or (6) redundant.

7) I would think not.

8) I see no reason why not, if the brain were still as healthy as it were at birth; the adaptation would doubtedly be instant, but a gradual process, as happens to young humans. In fact, I don't see why the experience would be any different.

9) No; rather, they would think as a newborn baby.

10) No; I take "universe" to mean "all that exists". Thus, the brain in a vat would be part of the universe. By this logic, the mind cannot create the universe, nor can anything else. It either began without cause or has always been here. Be careful of equivocational use of the word "universe" when listening to creationist theories.

11) As conscious, yes, but perhaps a little more alive. I guess that is just a matter of definition.

Lomax
Thanks, Lomax.
I suppose our definition of Universe is different. I sometimes think of a Univrese not as all that exists, but as everything that exists to the self. If something is not known to the mind then it might as well not exist. Let's call that an Eniverse instead of a Universe, in order to keep the definitions seperate. Is it possible that my Eniverse is inside another Universe that it has no communication with? I'm basically asking the ol' brain in the vat question. Is it possible?

I was thinking of sensory deprivation when i started this thread. I heard about tanks that take away all stimuli and the mind, in order to not be bored to death, starts to hallucinate (perhaps I am making this up, but i heard it somewhere). The brain does this in order to survive (or so I heard; is it possible to be bored to death?) I guess what I was asking is can we hallucinate without sensory input? I was combining this question with the idea of "The Collective Unconscious", which I think is evolutionary memory; I think an example I read is that we know to grab onto a branch when we fall because our apelike ancestors had to do the same thing. But I do not have this theory anymore.

I disagree with your response to #8. Children have a critical period for language acquisition; it is almost impossible for them to learn a language fluently after a certain age. I'm assuming that this critical period is entirely biological. Perhaps people have other critical periods as well?

And regarding your response to 9: that was kind of a tongue-in-cheek question. Of course he would think like a newborn, but I was meant after he adapted. The Romans believed Romulus and Remus were pure because they were raised away from civilization, and michael valentine smith from Stranger from a Strange Land was pure because he was raised seperate from humanity's biases and irrationalities during his formative years, and then he tries to turn humanity around. but that question wasn't serious.

But anyways . . . .

So can we conclude that solipsism is impossible? That for an Eniverse to start there has to be some input from the outer Universe? That is is impossible for Embryos to dream (assuming that they have no sensory input but do have a brain)? That makes me feel a bit like a computer . . . .

Thanks
 
May 7th, 07:13 PM   #7
DejaVu4Ever
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You and I both, sean! I have always thought about that too. I mean, if you have no senses, would you even know that you exist? I know I exist because I can see myself. If I was blind, I'd know I exist because I can hear sounds and feel things. Take those out, well I can still smell and taste, so I know that something exists. I can think through smells and tastes. Ok, none of those, well, how do I know that I exist? Do I? If you have no senses whatsoever, you wouldn't even "know" anything! How could you?
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May 7th, 09:30 PM   #8
sean
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Dejavu, one way you may know you exist is because you think, which is what the famous phrase "cogito ergo sum" means: "I think, therefore I am."
I suppose that without any perception at all there would be no thought, and so without thought, no one would know they would exist.

Here's some evidence that goes against my solipsist dream-world hypothesis:

Answer from somebody who has been blind since she was fairly young:

" Yes, blind people do dream. What they see in their dreams depends on how much they could ever see. If someone has been totally blind since birth, they only have auditory dreams. If someone such as I, has had a measure of sight, then that person dreams with that measure of sight. I still dream as though I can see, colors included. For people I've met since, their faces are just blurs or how I imagine they look. To me, someone like my mother looks forever 30. "

So I suppose that with no hearing or sight, a person can only dream with touches and smells and tastes. I guess we may conclude that with no input at all, a person will dream about . . .nothing. And of course, this translates into the waking life too.
 
Yesterday, 09:33 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DejaVu4Ever
You and I both, sean! I have always thought about that too. I mean, if you have no senses, would you even know that you exist? I know I exist because I can see myself. If I was blind, I'd know I exist because I can hear sounds and feel things. Take those out, well I can still smell and taste, so I know that something exists. I can think through smells and tastes. Ok, none of those, well, how do I know that I exist? Do I? If you have no senses whatsoever, you wouldn't even "know" anything! How could you?
You would know silence and darkness, but wouldn't be able to understand them.
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Yesterday, 02:26 PM   #10
DejaVu4Ever
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^This makes some sense, but don't I know silence and darkness because I am able to witness the opposite of them? If I was never able to see anything, would I even know what darkness is? If I never heard, would I know what silence is? I'm not saying you are wrong, I'm just wondering...I don't know.
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