Questions: You state that a machine which is conscious will not be created. Can you please explain how you have certainty that this will never happen? It seems like a belief [see response to Q1, below]. If we grant that even a little bird ‘has’ consciousness (I understand this cannot be proven), why not a machine? Dividing lines between ‘animals’ and ‘machines’ are surely just conceptual [see Q2].
You also state on p.123 [near end of Chapter 22] that when you ‘hear a bell, smell a rose, see a bird,’ so many elements are involved…from neurons in your brain to the space in between, to the sense organs, to the bell or rose. You say that if you remove any bit of this, ‘there’s no experience.’ I accept that if you remove the rose, there would be no experience of a rose, but there would still be experience [see Q3]. If you remove the brain, surely there would be no experience whatsoever (as far as we can reasonably assert) [see Q4]. It seems to me then that the brain is essential for any experience to happen whereas ‘the rose’ is not. ‘The rose’ is only essential for experience of ‘the rose.’ I would be quite happy for ‘the rose’ to be removed but not my neurons. How about you? [see Q5]
Response to Q1: As is shown throughout The Grand Delusion, consciousness does not appear to originate anywhere—let alone that it derives from matter. On the contrary, as shown repeatedly throughout the book, things, thoughts, and feelings—including matter—appear only with consciousness. Nothing else supports their verity. They appear as mind objects only.
Response to Q2: I do not grant that a little bird has consciousness. In fact, I do not grant anywhere in The Grand Delusion that anything whatsoever, whether machine, plant, animal, or human, has consciousness. (Carefully reread endnote 130.) The main reason I don’t grant consciousness to things is because, as is shown in multiple ways throughout the book, beyond conceptual appearances, we can’t find things—including time, space, motion, thoughts, feelings, locality, people, cats, birds, heartaches, photons…. You name it. Conscious awareness appears to come along with The Whole. It doesn’t inhere in “things.”
Response to Q3: There would still be perceptual experience, yes, but not necessarily conceptual experience (of a rose, say).
Response to Q4: Oh, but we can eliminate the brain from our attempts to account for consciousness (such as in Chapter 7, for example), yet there remains perceptual experience.
Response to Q5: There doesn’t appear to be anything necessary for perceptual experience. Still, I’d prefer to “keep my neurons”—in spite of the fact that “they” keep changing.
Question: On page 195 [Chapter 36] of The Grand Delusion where you say of relative truth “It’s the familiar world that appears, not to consciousness but as consciousness.” [Q1]: Is consciousness none other than formless Awareness appearing as the multiplicity and diversity of things, form, time, space, thoughts (that is even though they appear as something they are the same formlessness as Awareness appearing just so)? [Q2]: So then even though they are not two, does consciousness appear to Awareness? [Q3]: That is, is consciousness the appearance of Awareness appearing to itself? [Q4]: And so to ‘SEE’ that this is so, one just needs to get out the way, via meditation, or repeatedly coming back to this moment as it arises?
Response to Q1: Conscious awareness, not be confused with Awareness (see glossary), is the appearance of diverse things, thoughts, and feelings. These appearances are of continuous flux, but they need not always appear.
Response to Q2 and Q3: No. Pure Awareness has no objects.
Response to Q4: Meditation cannot be used for anything. If you’re using “it,” “it” is not meditation.
Question: In TGD you state that physical processes in the brain have never been demonstrated to give rise to subjective experience (Appendix B). What do you make of experiences occurring in neurosurgery, in which physical stimulation of parts of the brain do cause conscious patients to experience mental phenomena? Or, for that matter, transcranial magnetic stimulation inducing subjective phenomena to occur? Both of these seem to undermine your assertion that these are merely correlated but not causative.
Response: You present yet another example of the “hard problem” that David Chalmers identified, and which I quote immediately above the passage you refer to in my book: “How do physical processes in the brain give rise to subjective experience?” Your examples don’t answer this question. Though you refer to “cause,” if you look carefully, your examples don’t actually show cause. They show that physical stimulations of the brain accompany mental phenomena. But cause? How? What? Where? Why? Nor will any other such examples ever show cause. All such demonstrations only continue to beg the question of the hard problem without ever making even the slightest bit of headway in answering it. I suggest that you read TGD again but this time give more attention to the disintegration of substance—physicality and subjectivity—as it’s being pointed out. Note that these impressions always appear, not with, but as consciousness and never otherwise. Thus, as I point out repeatedly in the book, physicality reduces to Mind. There simply are no cases showing the reverse. Nor could there be.
Question: Is Awareness one aspect of Mind that pertains to the Whole and consciousness another aspect of Mind that pertains to the apparent division of the Whole? And these two seen together are the One Mind?
Response: Yes, more or less, though we can’t say precisely. As I point out in The Grand Delusion, can’t say “yes,” can’t say “no.” Good question, though.
Question: Consciousness, as defined in The Grand Delusion, is not the same as the everyday distinction we make between consciousness and unconsciousness.
Unless I'm misreading, consciousness (as you define and describe it) would include, for example, a dream that I might have while I'm asleep. I would be unconscious, but the dream would still involve consciousness, since there would be an experience of the dream. Similarly, an experience of being asleep without dreaming would also involve consciousness, as long as there is some awareness of being asleep. Presumably, a sunflower's experience of the sun and its urge to grow toward it would also be a manifestation of consciousness.
This seems quite different from consciousness as the opposite of unconsciousness, which are two states, like being drunk or sober.
Such "states of consciousness" do appear to be either mediated or shaped by the brain, just as tastes and sounds are. Most neuroscientists think that these states are created (rather than shaped or mediated) by the brain. But I don't see how they—or a lab experiment—would be able to tell the difference between mediation and creation.
Can you speak to this?
Response: Indeed, consciousness, as defined in The Grand Delusion, makes no distinction between consciousness and unconsciousness whatsoever since, as is implied throughout the book, we can make no sense of unconsciousness. Please reread the last couple of exchanges between ANYONE and me at the end of chapter 25, and then turn to endnote 61. Also, please reread chapter 22, and then reflect on the implications of Bell’s theorem. It seems you might be conflating the terms “awareness” and “consciousness.” To see how these terms are being used in this book, please consult the glossary. Finally, I also suggest that you reread Appendix B.
Question: If consciousness brings about separate “things,” then isn’t consciousness delusion? If so, are the enlightened unconscious? Obviously not, but how can consciousness and enlightenment coexist in our experience?
Response to Q1: Consciousness doesn't "bring about" anything other than appearances. It is Illusion, not delusion. Delusion is to take appearances as substantial.
Response to Q2: There isn't anything that is unconscious. For that matter, there isn't anything that is conscious, either. Consciousness is the "fabric" of Reality. It is of Totality. Mind.
Response to Q3: Enlightenment is seeing the Illusory nature of consciousness—which is not to say that consciousness is an illusion.