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Old 12-05-2019, 03:44 AM
Atomant Atomant is offline
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Default Where does a thought go?

Serious question, though it feels like one my son would ask me. The obvious answer is nowhere. You have one and it disappears back into the void of your mind, maybe to be recycled into another one, or bob back up at a later date if its a particularly stubborn one. I dont think they work that way though.

Some thoughts we have, we bring out into the world and make real right away. We speak them to others, which can turn into actions and produce physical results. Some trigger emotional responses or a cascade of new thoughts, becoming bigger like a snowball rolling down a hill or creating and generating ideas in ourselves and others. We can write them down on paper or carve them into stone, giving thoughts the ability to transmit for as long as there is a receiver to see them. Perhaps forever if stamped on to the right material, similar to the Voyager space crafts sailing through the cosmos with their golden records....which contain thoughts.

So thoughts come up, and we can do stuff with them. They pop into existence (strange how that happens), and play with varying strengths like inner movies. Lights and sounds and feelings... and catch our attention briefly. We can be disgusted or elated, excited or depressed, mystified by our sudden wisdom or left shaking our heads at the stupid thoughts we have. Or at least that has been my experience. Alot of these are tied to past experiences, or future plans and concerns. I work and mold these like putty, trying to extract meaning or value. They grow legs and continuity and form, becoming part of my narrative if I allow them too. The frequency and sheer volume of thoughts are also under my control, though If I'm not paying attention the stream can get out of hand and carry me away.

These above are just what's on the surface of our minds. Loud enough, or firing in the right areas to catch our conscious notice. Theres much more happening underneath that, unknown to us but happening none the less. Remembered fragments of dreams gives me light access to this realm, though I dont know who's controlling the show when the reigns are pulled from the daytime "me". Meditations can move me somewhat through these areas, though more as an observer than anything else. In rare moments these trips can be tangible enough to have the same qualities as "real" experiences full of visuals and clear symbols. Something like that anyways. All this expanse of thoughtscape, in all its forms contains just as much power and influence on our worlds as the seeming unending registered and noticed ones that make up our whole lives. That's alooooottttt of thoughts. From all the people who have ever lived. And all the other conscious beings that are capable of forms of thought. Across time. I know there are many thoughts I've had that have changed the course of my life, and assume many more do so behind the scenes, so to speak. It's reasonable to assume that scales up, meaning there are thoughts that routinely shape the course of all our lives and destinies. Now and in the future. Some from an individual perhaps, and others a corporation of thoughts from many people. Starts to give some weight and gravity to these "thoughts". What kinds of thoughts have shaped our past, writing our story and setting the stage for where we find ourselves now, mid act? A mix to be sure, but do the scales tip heavy to one side over the other? Hateful violent thoughts, sprinkled with the seven deadly sins... or more to the lighter side? We are capable of such depths of empathy and compassion, hope and love. What kind of story are we writing now, and what are the thoughts guiding the pen? If you spend some time scrolling through sites or places where people on large scale post thoughts anonymously....well it will give you some idea. Not the whole picture certainly, but it is eye opening.

I've heard theories and thoughts on our universe being something similar to a mind itself. Us as conscious beings are a way for it to know itself and experience. Maybe all our thoughts, collectively and across this time span (presuming we are the first creatures capable of this) are something like our Cosmos waking up? Stirring from the dream state and rousing to something more aware. Our thoughts becoming more powerful and purposeful. Or perhaps this is the steady state, as it's meant to be. A mysterious voyage through veil and fog. We dont seem to be able to truly own our thoughts yet, we dont understand or control where they come from. But we can be responsible for them, and treat them with more care I suspect. I know I can. Its worth thinking about.
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  #2  
Old 12-05-2019, 04:45 AM
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Default Re: Where does a thought go?

I think, therefore I am.

Not sure about the rest of you ugly bags of mostly water. Fight me!
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Old 12-05-2019, 11:56 AM
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Default Re: Where does a thought go?

That, fellow netizen, is an awesome first post. Your second post, even more so.

:welcome3: to :ff:

You don't have to be mad to participate, but it will get you sooner or later.
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Old 12-05-2019, 04:43 PM
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Default Re: Where does a thought go?

I'm going to need a minute to come up with a response, if I can come up with something worth putting in tangible form, but I would like to heartily second JoeP. That is some quality posting.

Welcome, Atomant!
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Old 12-05-2019, 06:21 PM
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Default Re: Where does a thought go?

Where does a thought go? Where does it come from? What is a thought? It seems to be a kind of quale — in the category of the sensation of the color red, the smell of a rose, the prick of a thorn — but not quite in that category, either. Yet qualia are equally mysterious — this is the elaboration of David Chalmers’ hard problem of consciousness.

Chalmers’ hard problem is a refutation of functionalism — the idea that thoughts, and qualia, are reducible (and irreducibly so) — to measurable electrochemical signaling in our brains, which can be observed and mapped. According to the functionalist, that is all you have to do — map the observable activity in the brain, and you have explained thoughts and qualia!

Isn’t this confusing the map with the territory, though?

Distressingly, it seems that this empty functionalist account is all that many scientists need. It’s like quantum physics: shut up and calculate. Who cares what quantum means?

There is an old school of philosophy dating at least to Berkeley (though he superfluously brought God into the picture) called metaphysical idealism, in contradistinction to metaphysical naturalism or metaphysical supernaturalism. This holds, put bluntly, that brains supervene on minds, rather than minds supervening on brains, as naturalism holds. The extreme form of this doctrine is that the world consists of nothing but mental states, and mental states are all that has ever existed or could exist. Interestingly, no finding of science, that I am aware of, can distinguish between metaphysical naturalism and metaphysical idealism.

I once had an exchange on this topic with the biochemist Larry Moran at his Sandwalk blog. He derided me as an idiot for believing qualia exist at all. Nope, I don’t see red, smell a rose, feel the prick of one of its thorns — it is all just electrochemical activity, full stop!

He wasn’t even arguing that thoughts and qualia are an emergent property of matter, the way that water emerges from hydrogen and oxygen. Yet even to argue in this emergentist way strikes me as empty phraseology. We know exactly how water emerges from hydrogen and oxygen. What we do not know is how the experience of wetness (quale) emerges from hydrogen and oxygen in combination. Yet according to Moran and others, there is literally nothing to explain, because wetness does not exist!

Another issue is that thoughts often (always?) come unbidden, which uncomfortably suggests that we may be deterministic machines. After all, if thoughts are unbidden, then “we” are not responsible for them. I put “we” in scare quotes, because if we are our thoughts, as certainly seems to be the case (no homunculus in the driver’s seat), then “we” are not responsible for what we think. OTOH, the compatibilist would contend that “we” are responsible for whether we choose to act on “our” thoughts, or not, but this a very fraught issue.

Nice to see an actual philosophy post in the philosophy forum.
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Old 12-05-2019, 07:07 PM
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Default Re: Where does a thought go?

There's a book, I think by David Deutsch, that considers a functional model of how a certain copper atom came to be in a certain location. It's all about how the interactions of fundamental particles and forces cause atoms to move. In principle, you can explain the history of the atom right back to when it was forged at the heart of some prehistoric supernova, given sufficient data.

And then he changes tack, and says that the copper atom is present in the tip of the nose of a bronze statue of Winston Churchill in Parliament Square, London - and to explain how it came to be there you need to understand that Churchill was a famous politician, and how societies developed the culture of making and erecting bronze statues of their most respected leaders, why London is situated where it is, and so on.

Which explanation is correct? Which is the most useful? In this example I think that's pretty clear, but you can no doubt think of other examples where both forms of explanation are useful - it all depends on the context of the questions you're asking.

In the same book, he considers how small humans are in comparison to the scale of the universe, but that our lifetimes are a much bigger (though still tiny) fraction of the age of the universe. He also talks about ideas, concepts and beliefs being passed from one person to another, and if you made a four-dimensional plot of the location of thoughts and ideas then they would form long thin filaments, crystals, and branching webs stretching through spacetime.

I found an online copy of the book.
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Last edited by ceptimus; 12-05-2019 at 07:29 PM. Reason: added book link
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Old 12-07-2019, 11:27 PM
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Default Re: Where does a thought go?

Thoughts go where my Rosemary grows.

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Old 12-07-2019, 11:47 PM
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Default Re: Where does a thought go?

Drunk with power, I moved the bickering to the Cloaca.
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Old 12-07-2019, 11:54 PM
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Default Re: Where does a thought go?

Quote:
Originally Posted by lisarea View Post
Drunk with power, I moved the bickering to the Cloaca.
:scared:
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Old 12-08-2019, 12:30 PM
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Default Re: Where does a thought go?

:eatshit:
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