The mind in the void

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manored
 
Reply Sat 15 Aug, 2009 12:29 pm
I wonder what would happen to a human mind who was suddently cut from any sensorial input, left only to its own thoughs... where are some of the possibilities I though up:

a) The mind would operate normally until the situation changed, inflicting immense, unfathomable boredoom and depression upon the mind.

b) The mind would operate normally at first but gradually "slow down", as if falling asleep, until it stopped working and lost its notion of time.

c) The mind would operate normally at first but gradually start to create subconscient imaginary input, imerging the conscient mind into a "dream state" until the situation changed.

d) The mind would operate normally at first but gradually become consciently able to elude itself, that is, the conscient mind would become as god and able to create ilusions that seem real to itself, as a dream that you can control and interact with consciently.

e) Winhout any senses to give it a notion of time passing, the mind would instantaly collapse and remain so until the situation changed.

f) The mind would instantaly, rather than over time, enter the "inconscient dream state" described in c

g) The mind would instantaly, rather than over time, enter the "god-like" state described in d

I think one of those is what happens after death, but I cant really decide wich one it is... to me, the greater probability is either b or e, but if I could chose I would really want d =)
 
richrf
 
Reply Sat 15 Aug, 2009 06:10 pm
@manored,
Hi,

I think the closest we come to this experience, other than death, is when we are in deep sleep. I am always profoundly impressed by the way the mind flips from a sensory mode to a non-sensory mode, seemingly without any impetus other than its own desire to go into sleep.

Rich
 
alcaz0r
 
Reply Wed 19 Aug, 2009 01:45 am
@richrf,
It is an interesting question.

Without external stimuli, we would only have internal impressions to rouse the mind and transfer force and liveliness to their related ideas. This means emotions, pretty much. Whatever emotions we felt would transfer the thoughts along related ideas, but as emotions only admit to the relation of resemblance, this relation would dominate our chain of perceptions. I expect we would experience cyclical mood changes, during which our mind considered ideas of things which produced the currently dominant passion, transferring along ideas which are related by contiguity and causation where convenient.

Come to think of it, this description sounds a lot like a dream-state.
 
Shadow Dragon
 
Reply Wed 19 Aug, 2009 03:36 am
@manored,
Interesting question. I would say option D is the most likely scenario. To keep its self busy and to attempt to ward off insanity, the mind would create a new reality to exist in. A reality governmend by the person's core personality traits. And over time, the subject would likely begin to consider this dream like reality to be the true reality as it thinks about it's prior reality less and less.
 
manored
 
Reply Wed 19 Aug, 2009 05:02 pm
@alcaz0r,
alcaz0r;84273 wrote:
It is an interesting question.

Without external stimuli, we would only have internal impressions to rouse the mind and transfer force and liveliness to their related ideas. This means emotions, pretty much. Whatever emotions we felt would transfer the thoughts along related ideas, but as emotions only admit to the relation of resemblance, this relation would dominate our chain of perceptions. I expect we would experience cyclical mood changes, during which our mind considered ideas of things which produced the currently dominant passion, transferring along ideas which are related by contiguity and causation where convenient.

Come to think of it, this description sounds a lot like a dream-state.
Yep, that description of C is a lot better than mine =)

Shadow Dragon;84279 wrote:
Interesting question. I would say option D is the most likely scenario. To keep its self busy and to attempt to ward off insanity, the mind would create a new reality to exist in. A reality governmend by the person's core personality traits. And over time, the subject would likely begin to consider this dream like reality to be the true reality as it thinks about it's prior reality less and less.
That sounds very likely, indeed, but I wonder if the mind would be able to entertain itself like this forever, or boredoom would soon or late hit it. I suppose it depends of whenever human minds can trully create "new content", or if the reconbinations they can do with what they have have limits.
 
Shadow Dragon
 
Reply Wed 19 Aug, 2009 07:07 pm
@manored,
manored;84397 wrote:
That sounds very likely, indeed, but I wonder if the mind would be able to entertain itself like this forever, or boredoom would soon or late hit it. I suppose it depends of whenever human minds can trully create "new content", or if the reconbinations they can do with what they have have limits.

It would depend on the person. I think all minds are capable of created new mental constructions, but obviously some can do it quicker than others. Those that are artistic or have a very scientific mind would likely be the best at creating new realms and scenarios for their mind to play out.
 
TurboLung
 
Reply Thu 20 Aug, 2009 07:37 am
@manored,
i think the mind would go mad. from the time we are born in our mother's womb, we can hear her heartbeat. we grow up felling and touching and being touched by our parents. all our lives we smell, taste, hear, see and feel; so, i would say that our minds wouldn't last long. our senses are our reality. without our senses there is nothing to ground our reality on. in fact, i changed my mind, we wouldn't go mad, we would just cease to exist.
 
de budding
 
Reply Thu 20 Aug, 2009 08:36 am
@manored,
In such a state I wonder how long the sense of self can exist within the mind; how long before the internal voice of 'I' became lost in the mayhem of all that nothingness.

Surely at some point we would lose our sense of self amidst the confusion: without any reference to our physical existence our sense of being couldn't be maintained.

After all, it (we) is only an illusion.
 
manored
 
Reply Thu 20 Aug, 2009 12:27 pm
@de budding,
de_budding;84497 wrote:
In such a state I wonder how long the sense of self can exist within the mind; how long before the internal voice of 'I' became lost in the mayhem of all that nothingness.

Surely at some point we would lose our sense of self amidst the confusion: without any reference to our physical existence our sense of being couldn't be maintained.

After all, it (we) is only an illusion.
That sounds possible, but I think we would probally experience some of the other options before getting here, such as one of the "dream" states.
 
alcaz0r
 
Reply Thu 20 Aug, 2009 12:41 pm
@manored,
Even without being able to feel sensory input, we could still feel internal impressions, so I think we could still maintain a sense of self in relation to those. For instance, I see no reason to assume we could not feel fear in such a state, and that would give us the context to think "I am afraid."
 
manored
 
Reply Fri 21 Aug, 2009 11:30 am
@alcaz0r,
alcaz0r;84529 wrote:
Even without being able to feel sensory input, we could still feel internal impressions, so I think we could still maintain a sense of self in relation to those. For instance, I see no reason to assume we could not feel fear in such a state, and that would give us the context to think "I am afraid."
That sounds possible as well... everthing is so... possible =)
 
No0ne
 
Reply Fri 21 Aug, 2009 05:29 pm
@manored,
Its all in the computer tower, but the harddrive is seperate from the mother board.

Hence in a way "thinking" is a sensorial input function aswell.

Sad ran out of time..
 
manored
 
Reply Sat 22 Aug, 2009 10:37 am
@No0ne,
No0ne;84797 wrote:
Its all in the computer tower, but the harddrive is seperate from the mother board.

Hence in a way "thinking" is a sensorial input function aswell.

Sad ran out of time..
Im gonna wait till you have more time then, rather than trying to figure that out =)
 
Exebeche
 
Reply Sat 22 Aug, 2009 02:30 pm
@TurboLung,
TurboLung;84491 wrote:
i think the mind would go mad. from the time we are born in our mother's womb, we can hear her heartbeat. we grow up felling and touching and being touched by our parents. all our lives we smell, taste, hear, see and feel; so, i would say that our minds wouldn't last long. our senses are our reality. without our senses there is nothing to ground our reality on. in fact, i changed my mind, we wouldn't go mad, we would just cease to exist.


I guess this post is what comes the closest to reality.
This issue is actually no fun.
Let me remind you that there have already been experiments that investigate on that topic.
For example rooms that absorb any kind of sound.
It shows that people quickly start suffering panic attacks in such a room.
The reason is very simple: Seperation anxiety.
These rooms absorb even the resonance of our own sounds. So even when we think it's absolutely silent we always hear the echoes of ourselves moving, breathing, whatever.
In a room, that has absolutely no sound however our (sub-)consciousness perceives the impression of being completely disconnected from the environment.
Our mind responds with serious nervousness and even panic to this kind of input.

Another inhumane experiment is done to thousands of people who are kept in 'solitary confinement'. People who are sentenced to spend their time in prison in total darkness and with completely no contact to the outside world.
Experiments show, that some people start having severe optical halluzinations even after 12 hours already.
Test persons report panic, depression, any kind of emotional pain a person can go through.
In fact the brain slowly reduces its activity. I saw a report about one guy [edit: a prisoner]who after some years was released, and found himself unable to take part in traffic. To much input, he couldn't process it anymore, even years later.

So you can be pretty sure that a brain who experiences that situation described in the beginning will go through hell before it slowly starts dissolving [edit: decaying].

Our brain is by nature made for perceiving stimulation.
That's an experiment you can start by yourself: Sit in front of a white wall for as long as you can. I know a woman had to do this for days as a spiritual exercise. Believe me, it takes good nervs and a stabile character.
 
alcaz0r
 
Reply Sat 22 Aug, 2009 02:50 pm
@Exebeche,
I can't assent to the opinion that we would, or could feel anxiety (at least in the normal sense) if the brain was completely isolated. Every description of what anxiety feels like that I can bring to mind appeals to physical sensations. Butterflies in the stomach, elevated heartrate. It leads me to the opinion that the component of anxiety that causes us suffering is our bodily reaction to the doubts and fears cast in our minds. I expect that our minds may enter a state of anxiety in manored's scenario, but that we could not suffer nearly so much from it.

As our mind actually is cut off in a large way from the sensory inputs of our own bodies during sleep, so I would expect there to be more of a resemblance to what we experience while dreaming, than to what we experience during sensory deprivation experiments.

I do agree that over time our mental faculties would decay.
 
Exebeche
 
Reply Sat 22 Aug, 2009 07:35 pm
@alcaz0r,
alcaz0r;85008 wrote:
Every description of what anxiety feels like that I can bring to mind appeals to physical sensations. Butterflies in the stomach, elevated heartrate. It leads me to the opinion that the component of anxiety that causes us suffering is our bodily reaction to the doubts and fears cast in our minds.

Very interesting.
If we don't have a body to suffer from fear symptoms like elevated heartbeat rate, could we still have emotions like fear or any other emotions?
All emotions have a physical equivalent in heartbeat, sweating, muscle tension, etc...
So... are emotions really only physical?
Could a brain, disconnected from its physical body still get into a condition that we can call fear?
This would be exactly what is called qualia, wouldn't it?

I find this question very difficult to answer, especially because i think that a mind is connected to its whole physical body (meaning the whole nervous system is part of our mind, including our finger tips, etc...) but this is my personal believe.

Apart from that, i think a separated brain would still be able to find itself in a condition in which it can have panic not in a physical way, but just knowing that the situation is absolutely alarming.
It would be like "I am not scared, but something tells me that this situation is absolutely scary." Plus "I have to do something about this unnatural situation".
Fascinating in fact.
It would reduce every emotion from the phenomenological level to the mere epistemological level.
A depression would not feel like sadness or tiredness or whatever.
It would be a mere condition of mind.
Except we believe that qualia are not physical but really conditions caused by consciousness.
 
alcaz0r
 
Reply Sat 22 Aug, 2009 09:58 pm
@Exebeche,
This isn't something I can think about for long without having some new change of opinion. You raise some good questions Exebeche. I have pondered some of them but only vaguely, without having framed the questions so specifically.

Right now I'm wondering about a few things in specific that I feel would be decisive if known.

Just how disconnected is our brain while we sleep, and where is this disconnect? If I knew this I would either feel more comfortable drawing analogies between this hypothetical scenario and sleep, or stop trying to do so.

I'm also wondering about the simple automatic motions that are controlled outside our brain, such as walking and certain reflex movements, which can be controlled by the spinal chord alone. If disconnected from the spinal chord, I'm sure we would still have the memory of walking, but how complete or convincing would that memory be? And, could this be the reason that we find running to be so difficult in our dreams? I had a dream just the other night that I was trying to run from something, but the motions did not come naturally, the memory of very deliberately and awkardly placing one foot in front of the other is still fresh in my mind. Its giving me goose-bumps just thinking about it.

Another thing I'm wondering about is our memories of our physical responses to things like fear and anxiety, and how convincing those might be. To draw once again from common experience, I have had dreams where I was aware of my heart beating very quickly, one dream in particular I was afraid I would have a heart attack. I woke up and was very surprised to find that my heart was beating very slowly, just as you would expect it to while sleeping.

So my opinion has changed somewhat. I now can conceive of a way we could feel anxiety, that would seem real and cause us suffering, even while the brain was disconnected as such. However, I expect the moment our mind gave up the effort of sustaining the ideas of these physical responses, the anxiety or fear (or at least the suffering it caused us) would cease. This might even feel similar to waking up from a scary dream... at the moment I can't imagine how else it might feel.
 
Shadow Dragon
 
Reply Sun 23 Aug, 2009 04:04 am
@manored,
One way to test this, if given the chance, you should try to spend some time in a sensory deprivation tank. That's the closest you could come to replicating an enviroment without another stimuli. Also, one thing to keep in mind is if this is done with the person knowing before hand what is going to happen or if they just wake up and everything is gone. I think that would greatly change the mind's reaction to it.
 
manored
 
Reply Sun 23 Aug, 2009 12:31 pm
@Exebeche,
Exebeche;85006 wrote:
I guess this post is what comes the closest to reality.
This issue is actually no fun.
Let me remind you that there have already been experiments that investigate on that topic.
For example rooms that absorb any kind of sound.
It shows that people quickly start suffering panic attacks in such a room.
The reason is very simple: Seperation anxiety.
These rooms absorb even the resonance of our own sounds. So even when we think it's absolutely silent we always hear the echoes of ourselves moving, breathing, whatever.
In a room, that has absolutely no sound however our (sub-)consciousness perceives the impression of being completely disconnected from the environment.
Our mind responds with serious nervousness and even panic to this kind of input.

Another inhumane experiment is done to thousands of people who are kept in 'solitary confinement'. People who are sentenced to spend their time in prison in total darkness and with completely no contact to the outside world.
Experiments show, that some people start having severe optical halluzinations even after 12 hours already.
Test persons report panic, depression, any kind of emotional pain a person can go through.
In fact the brain slowly reduces its activity. I saw a report about one guy [edit: a prisoner]who after some years was released, and found himself unable to take part in traffic. To much input, he couldn't process it anymore, even years later.

So you can be pretty sure that a brain who experiences that situation described in the beginning will go through hell before it slowly starts dissolving [edit: decaying].

Our brain is by nature made for perceiving stimulation.
That's an experiment you can start by yourself: Sit in front of a white wall for as long as you can. I know a woman had to do this for days as a spiritual exercise. Believe me, it takes good nervs and a stabile character.
That is true, but I wonder if I mind cut from input would be the same. No human experiment could cut you from all input: even if you can hear and see nothing, you can still smell ( though nothing relevant) and fell, even if all you fell is your own body. I wonder if the panicking aspect lies in being cut from your main senses (sight and hearing) while your other ones are still active to give your brain a notion of time...

Exebeche;85051 wrote:
Apart from that, i think a separated brain would still be able to find itself in a condition in which it can have panic not in a physical way, but just knowing that the situation is absolutely alarming.
It would be like "I am not scared, but something tells me that this situation is absolutely scary." Plus "I have to do something about this unnatural situation".
Fascinating in fact.
It would reduce every emotion from the phenomenological level to the mere epistemological level.
A depression would not feel like sadness or tiredness or whatever.
It would be a mere condition of mind.
Except we believe that qualia are not physical but really conditions caused by consciousness.
Indeed it sounds fascinating, it would seem the mind would reach maximum efficiency in whatever it was doing. If afraid, it wouldnt act hastely and thoughlessly, for example... but, then, would the mind decide to do anything at all, or would it do nothing due to not feeling the necessity of doing anything at all? I mean, if you know you should be afraid, but you arent, do you mind it?

alcaz0r;85074 wrote:

I'm also wondering about the simple automatic motions that are controlled outside our brain, such as walking and certain reflex movements, which can be controlled by the spinal chord alone. If disconnected from the spinal chord, I'm sure we would still have the memory of walking, but how complete or convincing would that memory be? And, could this be the reason that we find running to be so difficult in our dreams? I had a dream just the other night that I was trying to run from something, but the motions did not come naturally, the memory of very deliberately and awkardly placing one foot in front of the other is still fresh in my mind. Its giving me goose-bumps just thinking about it.

Another thing I'm wondering about is our memories of our physical responses to things like fear and anxiety, and how convincing those might be. To draw once again from common experience, I have had dreams where I was aware of my heart beating very quickly, one dream in particular I was afraid I would have a heart attack. I woke up and was very surprised to find that my heart was beating very slowly, just as you would expect it to while sleeping.
I think it changes from person to person, whenever I cry in a dream I wake up crying as well, and we know that some people do wake up from scary dreams with physical reactions such as accelerated hearts. Maybe it depends from how vivid the dream is?

I have had many dreams where I was flying, some I even was a flying creature, but as soon as I gain conscience I lose the ability to fly and crash. It is as if returning to control restabilished the laws of physics, or as if my subconscient knew how to fly but I didnt. That sounds possible to me, because oftenly I got distracted while playing an eletronic game and then I started paying attention to it again, I noticed that my subconscient was playing flawlessly, better than I, during that time. It is as if the subconscient does everthing better than I do =)

Shadow Dragon;85107 wrote:
One way to test this, if given the chance, you should try to spend some time in a sensory deprivation tank. That's the closest you could come to replicating an enviroment without another stimuli. Also, one thing to keep in mind is if this is done with the person knowing before hand what is going to happen or if they just wake up and everything is gone. I think that would greatly change the mind's reaction to it.
I think it would indeed change the reaction but not in the wanted way: The person would become afraid of physical death, not of never receiving stimuli again. Especially since it wouldnt be cut from all stimuli, it would still be able to fell itself.
 
Exebeche
 
Reply Mon 24 Aug, 2009 03:31 pm
@alcaz0r,
alcaz0r;85074 wrote:
I had a dream just the other night that I was trying to run from something, but the motions did not come naturally, the memory of very deliberately and awkardly placing one foot in front of the other is still fresh in my mind.

Now that you mention it i remember that my dreams are so vivid that i DO feel what i dream.
I once read that someone claimed you can easily check wether you dream or not, because our dreams are black and white, not in real colours.
I feel sorry for him.
When i dream it's all real.
Putting my hands into cold water, tasting a juicy red strawberry freshly picked from the ground, even the lips of somebody i kiss.
None of my senses is missing a single thing, on the contrary, in a dream it's sometimes even like concentrated on this particular sensation.
Basically it seems to me like the brain can generate qualia independently.
 
 

 
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