John Vervaeke - Awakening from the Meaning Crisis - Episode 10 - Consciousness - Summary

The following are my main takeaways from the video, quoting and paraphrasing the content.


You participate in your consciousness.

You do most of your things without consciousness. For example, you have no conscious awareness of what your brain does to allow you to generate speech.

global workspace theory is the idea that your consciousness functions like the desktop of your computer. You select certain pieces of information that are relevant, bring them together, transform them in a way that is relevant, and then broadcast the needed changes back. This helps you zero-in on relevant information. Select information from the room and from your memory. Tightly associated with working memory and intelligence.

The core function of consciousness is to help your realize relevance. Become aware of, actualize, put into action, relevant information. Determine if pieces of information are relevant to each other and relevant to you. Coordinate attention and other related abilities of awareness to optimize how insightfully you can make sense of your world.

consciousness correlates with brain activity that is involved when people are chunking information, or when they are restructuring information, like an insight.

integrated information theory says that consciousness is how powerfully integrated pieces of information are. How much one piece of information in your brain is causally dependent on, interacting and affecting other pieces of information in your brain. The more tight the integration, the more powerful the processing, and the more likely it will be affording consciousness.

You can test how conscious a system is by giving it anomalous pictures and checking that it can figure out that the pictures do not make sense.

You need consciousness for complex situations that require insight, for situations and problems that have a high degree of novelty or challenge in them. You can reduce consciousness when the problem has become very well defined for you.

consciousness creates a salience landscape for you. Featurization <=> foregrounding <=> figuration <=> framing. You need to get to the right place to get an optimal grip. The optimal grip creates affordances.

An affordance is setting up the relationship and coordination between the constrains in an object (e.g. cup) and the constraints in yourself (e.g. hand) so that you can engage in an interaction (e.g. grasping). It is a way of co-identifying. I become a grasper and the cup becomes graspable.

salience landscape (optimal grip) => presence landscape (affordance) => depth landscape (causal patterns)

An altered state of consciousness is an insight of consciousness, it is not an insight in consciousness. It is a radical transformation of all of your landscapes. A systematic insight.

As the child is to the adult, the adult is to the sage. wisdom is like growing up. Children develop when they have systematic insights that correct systematic errors.

Your significance landscape protects you from bullshitting, allows you to see through illusion and into reality, and affords you having a comprehensive and flowing relationship with reality.

altered states of consciousness also have the potential to do the opposite, to screw up your salience landscaping and make yourself more prone to bullshit, more prone to self-deception. That is why most such states (e.g. being drunk) are rejected as being illusory.

Many people experience higher states of consciousness, find them to be really real, and in both directions – arena and agent. They say “that is the way the world really is” and they also say “this is who I really am”. The higher states of consciousness make people change, justify, empower and motivate them to undergo transformation (ontonormativity).

When we wake up from a dream, we say that it was not real. When we come back from a higher state of consciousness, we say that it was more real.

realness is the pattern of intelligibility with the widest scope. Rich coherence of content. It makes the most sense of the most of your experience. It puts together your beliefs and your memories.

People’s lives do get better after they experience a higher state of consciousness.

It is not about getting knowledge, it is about getting wisdom and transformation.

Previous: episode 9.

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Updated on 2019 Oct 23.
DISCLAIMER: This is not professional advice. The ideas and opinions presented here are my own, not necessarily those of my employer.