Peter wrote:
<<<At the basic root, we could say that consciousness is self-awareness."
I responded:
<<<I do not accept this. Self-awareness is a species of consciousness; self-awareness (or self-consciousness; I use the terms interchangeably) is not the primary form of consciousness. To be self-conscious, something must be able to identify itself as conscious or at least be able to distinguish itself from other objects in its perceptual environment. But to identify itself as conscious or distinguish itself from other objects, it must first be conscious of something, i.e., of objects from which it can distinguish itself. In other words, it needs the concept 'identity' which is a corollary to the concept 'existence'.>>>
Peter wrote:
"Okay, let us use your definition then (because my argument still stands either way)."
It does? By what means is a conscious being conscious? You have not identified this.
Peter wrote:
"If consciousness is the ability to distinguish identity, then you must accept that animals are conscious beings."
Sure. Animals are organisms, and they possess a means of awareness, i.e., senses. Objectivism holds that the senses are valid. Objectivism also holds that one must assume the validity of the senses even to question them. We've seen this already in your attacks on the senses (e.g., when you say "The senses are not accurate" etc.).
Peter wrote:
"After all, a lioness recognizes the difference between her cubs and her prey."
Right, and she does so by a means of awareness, i.e., her senses.
Peter wrote:
"Bacteria cells can recognize a food source.  Moths can recognize a light source.  So all these things would have consciousness, as opposed to a rock, which does not recognize anything."
I would not dispute that moths are conscious. But I'm not convinced tha bacteria cells are conscious. This is a scientific question, so it is really irrelevant to the present matter.
Peter wrote:
"Whatever consciousness is, it must come from existence.  (I'm sure you would agree with this, as I'm sure you believe in the metaphysical primacy of existence.)"
I did not dispute it, I simply asked you to identify, in general terms, the means by which consciousness comes into being. I.e., what makes consciousness possible?
Peter wrote:
"As a result, consciousness is based on existence (however it is done)."
Right. Consciousness is consciousness of existence. Consciousness does not create existence (there goes the Judeo-Christian god who supposedly created the universe ex nihilo by an act of will - i.e., by a means of a form of consciousness).
Peter wrote:
"If man has consciousness, if animals have consciousness, then why wouldn't the total sum of all existence have consciousness?"
Why would one say that the sum total of all existence has existence? What justifies this assertion?? Consciousness is an attribute of a particular kind of entities, namely living organisms which possess a means of awareness (i.e., senses). You yourself seem to agree that a rock does not possess the attribute of consciousness, so even your own statements call the assumption that "the total sum of existence could be conscious." Further, of what would it be conscious? Of non-existence? I don't accept that. Is the sum total of existence supposedly conscious only of itself? This is a contradiction in terms, and Objectivism refutes it.
Peter asked:
<<<"However, the question that must be asked is: by what manner do I become aware that I exist?" >>>
I responded:
<<<By a means of awareness (but you have already said that you cannot trust these means, so you commit yourself to stolen concepts). >>>
Peter wrote:
"Here you are committing the falacy of stolen concepts.  You are assuming that the means by which awareness comes about must be the means that you would employ."
How is this a stolen concept? Which concept is asserted while denying its coneptual or genetic roots? Do you disagree that consciousness requires a means? Or, do you think that consciousness requires no means? Do you think that something can be conscious no how? Where is the science for this? Science (specifically psychology, neuro-science, etc.) shows us that the senses are the means of our awareness. For instance, I am conscious of the words on the computer screen before me. By what means do I gain this awareness? That's simple: I gain this awareness through my vision. There is no stolen concept here.
Peter wrote:
"But as you aptly note: I already said that you cannot trust those means."
This means that it is you who commit the fallacy of the stolen concept, not I. I've pointed it out so many times now that if you do not recognize it, it is probably only because you are so confused by your own presuppositionalism, or you simply do not want to see it, or both. I can't help you if this is the case. I've done all I can to reach you. I am willing to entertain the possibility that you're simply too far gone for dialogue to be effective here.
Peter wrote:
"That does not mean there are no other means by which such an awareness can be known!"
Feel free to identify them, then. Let's see what extra-sensory (or nonsensical?) "means of awareness" you have in mind. You want us to accept and entertain the possibility that there are other means of awareness besides the senses, but you don't tell us what that supposed means are. Why not simply recognize that the senses are valid, and deal with reality on its own terms? Or, why not simply be honest, and acknowledge your stolen concepts?
Peter wrote:
"You are assuming that empirical data is the only means and then trying to refute my argument by inserting your foreign definition.  It doesn't work."
I do not claim that "empirical data" is man's means of awareness. Empirical data is what man's means of awareness makes possible. The means of awareness in question are the senses, namely sight, hearing, touch, taste and smell. Check the science books on these matters, Peter. There's a lot on this. I also recommend Binswanger's lectures on "The Metaphysics of Consciousness" and some of the sources which Binswanger himself cites.
Peter wrote:
"Again, read my entire argument at this point.  Cutting it up like you have been to diminish the impact is a good debate trick, but it fails you here."
I've examined your entire argument. You have no case. You have maintained that "the senses are not accurate" (which itself commits the fallacy of the stolen concept, as I exposed it; you have not been able to resuscitate this premise); You suggest that there is another means of awareness than the senses, but have not identified it; you show willingness to conflate the concept 'consciousness' to be equal with that of 'existence' (you mused, "why wouldn't the total sum of all existence have consciousness?") which is a package-deal fallacy (i.e., the failure to acknowledge essential distinctions). Further, the entire chain of inference of your proposed argument is very shaky: how does your conclusion follow from your premises, and how do your premises support that conclusion? This is not at all clear. Each one of these problems alone is sufficient to show your argument is invalid.
Peter wrote:
"---My entire point (with a minor revision of the definition of consciousness)---
"Now let us look at consciousness.  At the basic root, we could say that consciousness is awareness."
So far so good. Objectivism describes consciousness as "the faculty of awareness."
Peter wrote:
"I realize that I exist (cogito ergo sum).  [Note: this does not mean that my thinking creates my existence, but that my thinking acknowledges my existence.]"
Then "cogito ergo sum" is extremely misleading. This Latin claus is basically translated, "I think, therefore I exist." If it is your intention to avoid the classic stolen concept fallacy which this statement commits, then it must be modified. I suggest the two following alternatives:
1. I think, therefore I know that I exist.
2. I exist, therefore I shall think.
Both of these versions, contrary to Descartes' original wording, honors the primacy of existence principle, which your own parenthetical statement qualifying your quotation of this statement is intended to safeguard.
Peter wrote:
"It is because of this realization that I know that both existence and consciousness exist.  However, the question that must be asked is: by what manner do I become aware that I exist?"
Right, as I asked numerous times: if you reject the senses, then by what means are you conscious?
Peter wrote:
"Awareness must come either from inside existence or outside of existence.  If it is outside of existence, then it necessarily does not exist.  Therefore, awareness of existence must come from existence itself."
By what means?
Peter wrote:
"As a result, consciousness (self-awareness) must arise from existence."
Existence of what?
Peter wrote:
"As a result, existence itself causes self-realization"
Existence of what?
Peter wrote:
"and therefore existence, in its root form (the part that is immutable, etc.) is consciousness."
See, there's your package-deal. I do not accept this.