Out of body experiences are linked to activity in certain brain areas,
The brain is part of the body. So if they are out of their body they are also out of every organ of the body including the brain. Is there awareness or consciousness that is not related to the brain? (or liver, spleen, pancreas, etc)
while the OBEs claimed by people who have been near death are likewise thought to be the result of nervous activity.
Again, if one is out of one's body, then they are out of the brain and the nervous activity of the body. They are out of the body yet are still conscious.
A person in a coma is not "aware" since by definition (the criteria of the Glasgow Coma Scale) they do not react to any stimuli.
Maybe we need to see beyond the criteria of the Glasgow Coma Scale because, inspite of not being able to react to stimuli, there have been numerous accounts of awareness inspite of that criteria. I'm sure you have heard of these accounts?
You may be thinking of people who show a "minimally conscious state" who show fluctuating awareness, or of people in a "permanent vegetativie state" who sometimes show aspects of awareness, thought to be the result of some sparing of function -something of much interest in research.
Well, yes, it is very interesting! I hope research in these areas continue with gusto, But that's not exactly what I had in mind. Maybe we'll get to that later.
However, an animal or a human without a cerebral cortex does not show awareness or intentional behaviour and only reflex reactions to certain stimuli that are not dependent on the cerebral cortex.
You mean that without a cerebral cortex, one cannot be aware? One can have only instinctual responses which are not dependent on the crebral cortex but are located elsewhwere in the brain?
As for mirror recognition, it is simply questionable whether it is really a test of self-awareness.
Okay, but then why bring it up? If we do not know if it is an indication of self-awareness, why does it matter whether chimps recognize themselves in mirrors or not, as an indication of self-awareness?
Only the most severely brain function impaired humans do not recognise themselves in a mirror . So if only a few animals show it, does that mean that only a few animals have self awareness, or that only a few animals show they have acquired a knowledge of what mirrors do, ie, reflect my body?
Is this a test of self-awareness or a test of the ability to learn? And does a severely brain impaired human have consciousness if they don't recognize themselves in a mirror?
Animals have body awareness, and monkeys learn what mirrors can do when given them as enrichment in captivity - using them to "look" at who is entering the room when they cannot see the door in direct vision, for instance; chimpanzees have used mirrors to find food not otherwise visible. OTOH, mirrors put in horses' stables seem to be seen by the occupant as another horse, and company.... so maybe to realize what mirrors do does require more complex brains?
Yes, maybe it does. But again, where is consciousnes located? Does one need a complex brain in order to have consciousness?
In summary, what mirror recognition means is subject to debate, and many people who make grandiose claims about it in relation to animal self awareness and from there, about animal rights have never bothered to read even the original paper.
Let's forget about animal rights for now ... it is too political.
Sorry, ... what is the original paper you speak of?
Why I find the Cambridge Declaration tedious is because to me it seems just another talkfest without any real progress. You will not find a neuroscientist who denies that the principles of reward and punishment, positive and negative reinforcement, approach and avoidance, are shared by all living things, and that, given the principles of evolution, that humans and other "higher" mammals share some of the neural mechanisms involved; and that for some of the "basic" emotions, fear and aggression, subcortical structures are shared by many species. And of course this very common
"sharedness" of neural structures is the reason animal are used in brain research, from insects to fish to birds to non-human primates. So what actually has the CD contributed to the advancement of our understanding?
I don't get why it is tedious. What does "progress" mean? Where are we meant to progress to? We see that there is much overlap between species in brain functioning. This is what I get from your last paragraph and this is also your justification? For what?
I don't wish to debate AR with you. Instead, I am interested in consciousness. Has consciousness even been defined in humans? From what I can discern, it is still a philosophical question and science, with its theories, does not know and will maybe never know what consciousness is, or WHERE it is.
As for Hawking, he is not a neuroscientist. Why didn't they ask Eric Kandel? He is, and a top class neuroscientist as well (got the Prize for that).
Kandel is in his 80's and was maybe not able to comment. Nevertheless, there were many scientists who agreed. I am not a scientist. For me, it is common sense and science ...... MUST have the exact evidence ..... is not more powerful than observation. This is where I will not sucuumb to "authority". I see that religion can blind, and although science is usually enlightening, it can also be a habit and method of thought that is restrictive.