What is the best way to understand consciousness?

A great way to understand consciousness is to study those that increase consciousness in others.

A mother who cajoles and exchanges smiles with her baby. A teacher who transmits knowledge. A neurologist who awakens a comatose by electrostimulations. A mystic who shares holist ideas.

There are many ways to define an increase in consciousness. Is there anything in common in all these ways that helps us to understand what consciousness is fundamentally?

Each way is anchored in a different level of information. This is why the consciences they describe appear so dissimilar. The only thing in common is the actual increase in consciousness, regardless of the medium of information.

This common feature is the addition of additional levels of information. We readily call this phenomenon an 'enlargement' of consciousness. But it's more of a stack. Higher-level information synthesizes previous ones.

The baby includes more elaborate signals from the mother. The teacher allows his students to access a higher class. The neurologist restores greater integration of neural networks. The mystic creates a higher observation of the self within a whole.

Consciousness is a stack of layers, from those laid by the mother to the delicate veils laid by the mystics on the nudity of our soul.


How did you escape solipsism?

Let us differentiate solipsism as a philosophy and as a psychological syndrome.

There is no need to escape philosophical solipsism. It is enough to transform it into a truism: our universe is entirely mental, personal, totalitarian. It is impossible for us to experience reality other than through perceptions.

Nevertheless, this authentically solipsistic universe is anything but homogeneous. It's a world of conflict. We do not have the control over it. It doesn't matter that we can't get out of this universe, it's perpetually invaded. A solipsism that would denigrate this could not explain the surprise.

Psychological solipsism is a disease of the mind that is currently spreading. It is associated with the push for individualization and, more paradoxically, with the rise of social networks.

Social networks, in fact, isolate more than they socialize. What they mix are memes, patterns of thought on particular subjects, events. They don't mix people.

Talking to someone physically is profoundly different from a digital exchange. A considerable number of additional levels of information are involved, by body language, by the reality of the social relationship. These are the most shared, most collectivist levels.

On a social network it is brains in incubators who discuss. In a living space they are complete people, bodies equipped with a brain, placed in physical reality.

The depth of difference is evident, for a doctor, when dealing with a pathological personality. Psychoses are excessively deviant individualities. They are exacerbated when the individual is alone. Paranoia develops freely. It occupies the thoughts completely.

It is only when the psychotic socializes physically, that the reality of other individuals is represented to him, that he emerges from solipsism. Not without difficulty.

A social network does not have this effect. On the contrary, it is capable of exacerbating solipsism since paranoid ideas are able to group into small communities and strengthen each other.

A conspiracy theorist finds realistic ideas only by finding himself in the midst of real people.

Escaping psychological solipsism is therefore to present itself entirely to the world, so that the world presents itself entirely to you.


What is the difference between intrinsic and extrinsic personality?

That is the difference, in terms of information, between constitution and communication.

Intrinsic personality is an assemblage of constitutive information, a kind of library of possible behaviors, grouped around a core of identity.

Extrinsic personality is how this information is communicated in each context. This aspect of the information no longer depends on the transmitter but on the receiver.

The information provided by a person serves us to represent them (as an extrinsic personality). So it reflects our mentality more than his, at least at the beginning. It takes a long evaluation of one's behaviour in different contexts to have a less approximate idea of one's (intrinsic) constituent personality.


What is the difference between being intelligent and being intellectual?

Everyone wants to be intelligent, which is not the case for 'intellectual'. The term is partly pejorative. Why is that?

Intelligence is the ability to synthesize different information. These may be contradictory, or seem foreign to each other. Intelligence is to overcome these difficulties in a synthetic concept that hides them without actually making them disappear.

The intellectual is a mind occupied by synthetic concepts, which sometimes makes him lose sight of the conflicts that are at the origin of them. The solution has erased previous conflicts and inconsistencies. Yet is it entirely satisfactory? Are there no other possibilities?

For people who still experience intellectually resolved conflicts, the academic solution may seem mediocre, or be a tasteless mental fast-food. The academician learned his solution, he did not live or experience the conflict of origin. It may be blind to other effective methods of solving it.

I thus contrast the academician with the inventor. Both are very intelligent; the former tends to digest, classify and synthesize existing knowledge, while the latter tends to produce new knowledge from the initial data.

Both are intellectuals but use their intelligence very differently. The academician closes the representations around a subject, with an epistemic look. While the inventor opens the range of potential representations by adding his own, with an ontological look.

These two mental activities are complementary and indispensable. The smartest minds are those capable of alternating between the two eyes, to add new synthesis over the existing ones.


What are the best non-materialistic theories of consciousness?

There is no good non-materialistic theory of consciousness since a theory must be anchored in physical reality. Purely non-materialistic ideas are indemonstrable beliefs.

Conversely, a purely materialistic theory obscures the data of conscious experience. It does not describe consciousness but only its physical appearance. There's something missing. Why does matter become intentional? Why does she have a conscience?

An acceptable non-materialistic theory must therefore include materialism and not depart from it. It is not contradictory. It is not the reality that needs to be split, only the point of view. The mind differs from that of matter, even if the two belong jointly to reality.

Matter constitutes while the mind represents. Both are perfectly realistic and active in reality. Elements of matter make up things, representations manipulate and modify them. Consciousness is representation, and it is not at all an exclusive of the human cortex.

The main error torpedoing questions on this subject is to talk about "consciousness." Consciousness is not one, there are myriads. The way I feel my awakened consciousness is… merging the strictly personal contents of my awakened consciousness and nothing else. Nothing to do with another person's consciousness, or with my own consciousness that would be amputated from some of these contents, for example during sleep when it is reduced to dreams.

There is no "universal consciousness" or "field of consciousness." So what do those who believe in such a thing hope for? What happens to their individual consciousness in such a uniform field? What extra explanation does this bring to their experience? No.

Consciousness is felt because it is able to establish a representation of itself and thus increase the richness of its contents. Neural groups encode other people's information. Neural patterns are discontinuous, hierarchical.

Seen from matter these are always sets of neural arousals. Seen from consciousness, these are concepts representing other concepts. Constitution/representation. The double facet of things exists at every level of information of reality.

It is the over-positioning of the layers of representation, material and then mental, that finally forms the richness of our awakened conscious experience.


Time and memory

Question: "Is time a unit of measurement subordinate to the human ability to store memories? If we could not, would there be the same time? »

Time (as a passage of time) is relational. He owns things in relation. This is how we can connect a time of particles and a mental time.

Related neurons create two types of time:

1) Their functional time, which is that of their processes, which corresponds to the speed of thought.

2) Their time represented, which is that codified by neural patterns about things. This code orders events over time and roughly measures the durations between them.

Some of the events are stored in memory, as well as their order and the time spaces separating them. But this is a purely representative memory of time, sequential as that of a book.

The temporal distance we experience for remembrance is recalculated by today's brain, especially according to the time since its last evocation rather than the date of the event itself.


Pro-conflict psychotherapy

Psychotherapy can be the creation of a conflict.

The tendency in therapy is to approach problems with delicacy. Avoid frontal attacks. Why create a conflict when you are approaching one, already very lively?

Because the person has already built behaviors to manage it. If it is imaginative enough, or undemanding, or its environment is protective, current behaviours can be enough to lead a rewarding life. That's what we all have. We are only collections of conflicts resolved in a way that we find satisfactory… but others may have a different view.

Conflicts never go away because they can spread at leisure in the social universe. One way to strengthen and protect our personal solutions, even when they are wobbly, is to isolate themselves. Cut yourself off from the opinions of others.

When it is impossible, when the behaviours are unsuited to the usual family and social environment, their owners come to consult a psychotherapist. Or rather they are encouraged by their loved ones, because they are always more satisfied with their solutions than those around them.

Psychotherapy may therefore require some initial destabilization. Seeking a new solution involves actively rejecting the one in use. There is no need to create difficulties for those who are acutely aware of it. While those sheltered from a thick shell deserve to see it lizarded.

I draw a parallel in rheumatology with inflammation, acute or chronic.

Acute inflammation is a very effective repair or change process. An enzymatic reaction resolves the injured or incompetent tissues, a reconstruction occurs in a second time. In chronic inflammation, the initial reaction was not powerful enough. Healing is not of good quality. The fabrics continue to give way under the constraints. The attempt at reparation continues without ever succeeding.

The most effective treatment for chronic inflammation is local shock waves. Increase aggression on the area and stimulate the activity of repairing cells, equipped with mechano-receptors, sensitive to vibrations. The healing is finally successful and the tissue resists. The pain disappears.

Creating or accentuating conflict, in psychotherapy, is the equivalent of shock waves for the mind. To stimulate the formation of a strong behaviour, able to withstand a greater multitude of opinions. Heal the personality at last.


Do you think the search for truth is madness or a path to reason?

Truth exists only by looking at its fusional aspect, its quality of unified representation. While looking at its constituent aspect, its assembled elements, we find that other assemblages are possible, that the consideration of additional elements forms another truth.

Truth is therefore a reassuring basis as a representation, but a chaotic agitation as a constitution.

How is our mind structured? It is a set of concepts of increasing complexity built on basic principles. These principles are order, causality, time, information, individuality, collectiveity… Complex concepts are self-awareness, society, abstractions, mysticisms…

Seeking a single truth for complex concepts is futile since they possess the most changing and chaotic constitution. Conversely, it is difficult to look for several truths with basic principles, which are similar in all minds. We cannot imagine them a finer constitution that would give them different meanings.

In the end, the more complex a subject is, the more reductive it is for the mind to apply a truth to it. The appropriate reason is that of fuzzy logic. The truth can be identified but not designated. Letting it wave retains its universality, while designating it transforms it into our individual desire.


90% of what you say, body language? (Brain commentary – Psycho No. 122)

The author, Yyes-Alexandre Thalmann, twists his neck at this idea after admitting to having believed it for a long time. Well, keep believing it, Yves-Alexandre, because it is your denunciation that is false. You just have to put into perspective a clumsy presentation, with a percentage that means nothing, since it mixes different levels of information.

Whistleblowing follows the current trend among psychologists to flatten the mind into a vast, unique information processing system. Trend brocade in this review of the book The Flat Mind of Nick Chater.

The mind is hierarchical. Neurons transmit bright spots on the retina to others who make a feature of it. The hierarchy continues towards the organization of higher concepts. The point that matters to us here is that the top of the hierarchy cannot exist without its base. Its independence is only relative. An abstract idea is not a neural group working in isolation in the cortex. Such a group is at the top (in terms of information weight) of a widely connected network.

In other words, understanding spoken language, at a high hierarchical level, is only possible if the base allows it. The shaping of sounds in sentences is ensured by the unconscious part of the mind. Communication is modulated before access to consciousness. Intermediate steps readily prohibit or disguise speech.

A bad intention can be attributed to the interlocutor by decoding his body language, even before the meaning of his speech is formed. This one won't pass.

In the end what you say only reaches the verbal understanding of your interlocutor if the image of reality built by him at that time allows it. Your body language is a big part of it if it is not neutral.

Finally, the ideas you are trying to convey will only be understood if there is the necessary conceptual basis. Reaching the consciousness of the other is not enough to make new things assimilate. Their integration requires a mental effort… that the other will enthusiastically do if your body language is empathetic.

Modulation works in negative but also positive.