Philosophy of 
Mind
Colloquium Program

Alma College
May 18-19
2009

Session M1: May 18, 10:00: The Departed: Life After Death & OBEs
Bert
Craig
The Afterlife
If a man die, shall he live again? What will happen to us when we die? Is there only our physical body but is there something within us to consider as well? Deepak Chopra believes we have souls that survive after our tragic decease. His claim is that the soul is a bundle of consciousness, all our experiences in one immaterial being: those exist on after we die. I will follow Dr. Chopra and his beliefs and explore the realms of religion, science, and philosophy to defend the idea of life after death.
Brock Everts
Necromancy
In fact, we can communicate with spirits. I am going to use stories and testimonies to try to prove my point. No one will ever know for sure if the living can communicate with the dead unless of course you are one of the select few who can. Hopefully I provide some insight to narrow minded.
Emily LeTarte
OBEs
An out-of-body experience is an occurrence in which a person’s perception of the world seems to them to be situated at a location outside their physical body. There have been numerous accounts of these experiences. Theories from psychology and neuroscience best explain the how and why of such experiences. Experiments involving neural stimulation have even caused such experiences. Factors such as drug use, dream states, meditation, and hypnotic-like states can induce an out-of-body experience as well.

Session M2: May 18, 11:00: Sentience, Intelligence, Consciousness, & Animals
Daniel Baker
Consciousness, Intelligence, & Animals
Taking a closer look at the idea of intelligence as a contributor to consciousness will, firstly, provide support for the idea that intelligence – or a brain rather – is a key ingredient for consciousness. Secondly, I will target individual animals, breaking down their cognition and comparing them to ourselves (humans) as conscious beings. Under the assumption that we are conscious, I will be trying to pull out facts that bridge the gap between us, as humans, and them, as “animals.
David Bechtold
The Sentience Line
I question whether a sentient line exists by using scientifically observed perception in various objects and logically reason to a point where discrediting anything’s consciousness is possible only if I accept that I am the only conscious being. I look at subjective states in plants as well as in societies. I investigate the workings and mysteries of the atom, proposing that they too are conscious and that many objects are communal atom consciousnesses similar to societies. Sentience is extended to the extremes of matter: universe to quark. Since I cannot experience anyone else’s consciousness if I accept a single other thing as conscious then I cannot discredit anything else’s ability to be conscious because it is equally mysterious.
Eric Borgeld
Consciousness, Sentience, & Animals
There is no clear definition of consciousness, so the sentience line is very ambiguous. People disagree on where the line is because they disagree on what is conscious and what consciousness is. It is difficult to reconcile differences in interpretation, so I use levels of consciousness rather than a clear sentience line. I qualify the levels of consciousness and establish some examples of things that are and are not conscious. They must share some properties of humans, because our ostensive definitions of consciousness are based on human consciousness. Consciousness of something must be explained to be scientifically noteworthy. It is necessary that the reasons things are deemed conscious are very clear.

Session M3: May 18, 1:00: Levels of Alcohol Intoxication
Adam Carrick
Inebriation & Unconsciousness

Alcohol adversely affects your consciousness. The more a person increases their alcohol consumption, the more their consciousness decreases. Attention, perception, inner speech, and memory are conscious states that are altered when you consume alcoholic beverages. The more drunk a person gets, the more consciousness is diminished. A person can drink so heavily that they end up blacking out or passing out. When you blackout you can’t remember what you did the previous night. When you pass out you are fully unconscious.

Anthony Garcia
Levels of Alcohol Intoxication
I will look at the levels of intoxication. I will show that the more you get drunk, the more your consciousness is affected. I will also look deeper into how alcohol affects different people. For example if alcohol affect girls different than boys, and how weight figures in. I will also take a closer look at the affects intoxication has on motor skills. I am to give people motivation and guidance for being careful when drinking.
William Grossman
Alcohol & Automatism
Alcohol causes the user to become more automated and robotic, acting purely on instinct. Alcohol causes you to slip from your consciousness into your sub consciousness (which I will define). Eventually, you are acting only on your subconscious, like a robot.
Nicholas Townsend
Alcohol & Consciousness
Alcohol affects consciousness and your memory in the present and in the future due to short and long term effects of alcohol on brain. Alcohol also has addictive and depressant effects on you, and affects the people around you. Alcohol affects you in many negative ways besides altering your consciousness without your being aware of it. I will be showing you how and exploring the implications.

Sesson M4: May 18, 2:00: The Unconscious
Craig Hutcheon
Unconscious Perception
Unconscious perception does exist and there are many examples throughout the history of consciousness studies that prove how stimuli can alter the way we interact with out world without our conscious awareness. However there is still some strong opposition to unconscious processing. Many dispute the evidence. The early question that researchers were trying to answer – “Are stimuli unconsciously perceived?” – is an impossible question for us to currently answer. The question “Are the consequences of unconscious perception qualitatively different from the consequences of conscious perception?” is a better question to ask and is the question that is currently being explored.
Joe Thiry Subliminal Messages in Advertising & the Movies
Advertising campaigns are created to bring about responsive behavior by potential customers. The idea of hidden messages within mainstream advertisements creates a complex ethical issue of right vs. wrong. By focusing on human unconscious perception, I will attempt to give a deeper understanding of how subliminal advertisements truly work within the mind. Subliminal advertisements have a real, direct effect on the end consumer by nefarious means.
Colin Murad Fate v. Free Will in Pop Culture
The Media pushes us to believe in fate, or as they often put it “destiny”, and therefore imply a lack of consciousness. I will use specific examples, including, but certainly not limited to Star Wars, Harry Potter, Lost, Heroes, Lord of the Rings, Minority Report, Terminator, and a bunch of Disney films. All of these have some element of precognition, time travel or predictions that while beyond the bounds of reality make interesting commentaries on the concept of free will or lack thereof. I hope to make the argument that most of our media try to tell us that we are in fact unconscious, and everything we do in our lives has been predetermined for us.

Sesson T1, May 19, 10:00: Meditation & Mind Control
Linnea Rajala
Deeksha & Enlightenment
Deeksha, also known as the Oneness Blessing, takes place when an initiate places his or her hands upon an individual’s head in connection with the divine in order to transfer cosmic energy to neurologically change the brain’s circuitry so that the individual can attain a higher state of consciousness. I will argue that Deeksha changes the neurological activity of the brain by increasing the gamma, alpha, and theta activity in the brain. This leads to a greater consciousness and if pursued fully, enlightenment. Enlightenment will be defined as dropping all illusion, which includes the illusion of self and separateness.
Patrick Thiesen
Zen in the Game of Basketball
Coach Phil Jackson, who coaches the NBA’s Los Angeles Lakers has been nick named the “Zen Master” for his meditation techniques that he believes in and uses in his coaching style. While Jackson has been blessed with loads of talent(Jordan, Kobe, Shaq), he has used the implemented the practice of meditation and Zen in his coaching methods and he uses these things on his players before games in order to get them in the best state of mind for competition. While Phil is obviously a talented coach, I believe that his use of meditation and Zen are one of the main reasons he is able to elevate his teams to championship after championship. Jackson’s meditation gives the players a chance to let go of their worries off the court and focus on the task at hand, an NBA Championship. Overall, I believe meditation is something that can lift athletic performance and also coaching for that matter.
Conrad Opperman
Controlling Pain with Your Mind
The common sense belief is that physical pain hurts everyone the same, some people just hide it better than others. Many philosophers such as Rene Descartes, claimed that pain was simply a direct response to a stimulus, a one-way "alarm system". Yet a carpenter can hit his thumb with a hammer and feel very little discomfort, while a novice can do the same and feel excruciating pain; and what of phantom limb pain? I will argue that you can use certain self-mind-altering techniques to control the level of pain you actually “feel”. Based on the Hypnotherapy and the Gate Control Theory of Pain, the physiology of pain can be controlled by the activation of certain non-pain transmitting nerves to help block the signals from pain fibers to the brain.

Sesson T2, May 19, 11:00: Mind-Altering Drugs & Society
Matt Temby
Age Limits & Drinking
Alcohol has various effects on your body and your mind while you are actively consuming it. I will also look at some of the immediate after effects of the alcohol in your body and your mind and how it alters your state of consciousness. The argument that I will look at is the battle of the drinking age limit. I question whether or not the three years between 18 and 21 will prepare your body and mind to handle the alcohol better than it would've three years prior.
Houston Verbeck
Psychedelic Drugs & the Sixties
Psychedelic drugs such as LSD, were the cause of the hippie movement. These drugs opened up peoples' consciousness to new ways of thinking and new ways to see the world. I will correlate sixties countercultural developments to the three fundamental effects of LSD; dechronicization, depersonalization, and dynamization. LSD inspired fads of the time, such as specific bands that produced so called “psychedelic rock” also affected the generation. Psychedelic drugs alter consciousness to allow us to see the world more beautifully and in a different way.
Stephen Wilczewski
Hallucinogens, Dissociatives, and Marijuana

Drugs expand upon consciousness in several ways. The immediate effect of the drug may seem as if it alters consciousness, but I hold it just changes that which we are conscious of, it shifts the focus of our consciousness. In this case it is the perceptions that are changed. There is a more lasting effect on consciousness once the drug has run its course. The memories of the experience will have a continuing effect on any future experience. Yet it cannot be claimed that this is an alteration of consciousness because, following this train of thought, any memorable experience would lead to some altered form of consciousness. Drugs do not alter one’s consciousness but nearly illuminate one facet of the nearly infinite nature of consciousness.
Nicholas Husted
Meditation, Psychedelics, and Higher States
Through the practices of meditation and psychedelic drugs higher states of consciousness can be achieved. I will explore this argument through examples from personal experience with both mediums, and attempt to define “normal” consciousness as well as what an enhanced state of consciousness would be. I will explain the connection felt by people sharing a trip, along with the enlightenment and realization that can happen through meditation, and the psychological journeys that often accompany both,

Sesson T3, May 19, 1:00: Curious States
Brad Bockworth
Blindsight Blindsight is a phenomenon in which a person cannot see what’s in their “blind” visual field – so it seems to them. However, when forced to answer what they see, they correctly answer over ninety percent of the time. How is this possible? I maintain that blindsight is an unconscious experience where the person can see what they’re looking at perfectly fine, yet they’re not aware of the fact that they can see what they think they can’t. Even though the person doesn’t think they can see the object in front of them, their normal eye functions continue to work. This allows the person to describe what’s in front of them and it’s the reason for such a high percentage of success in the studies being performed.
John
Vance
Have I Done This Before?
Blindsight is a phenomenon in which a person cannot see what’s in their “blind” visual field – so it seems to them. However, when forced to answer what they see, they correctly answer over ninety percent of the time. How is this possible? I maintain that blindsight is an unconscious experience where the person can see what they’re looking at perfectly fine, yet they’re not aware of the fact that they can see what they think they can’t. Even though the person doesn’t think they can see the object in front of them, their normal eye functions continue to work. This allows the person to describe what’s in front of them and it’s the reason for such a high percentage of success in the studies being performed.
Edward Filmore

Adverse Memory Conditions and their Effects

I will argue that through the use of misleading questioning, post event information, memory recovery practices and social pressure, the memories that conscious individuals can have falsely implanted or created in their mind are more dangerous and damaging to the individual mentally and emotionally, than the unconscious dissociative bouts and alternative memories created through DID. Though DID, individuals can experience a completely different set of memories and a loss of time due to another identity inside of them, but, the practices used in our criminal investigations and personal therapy for the purpose of memory recovery, can cause more damage to the mind and its memories due to the complex nature of the process, contrary to a black and white personality separation in DID.

Session T4: May 19, 2:00: Into the Mystic
Caitlin
Portko
Synethesia
I don't believe that synesthesia is as rare as the statistics say. Instead perhaps everyone has varying degrees of synesthesia as part of normal neural processing and sensation. Those who simply have intense reactions to what would otherwise be neutral stimulation are diagnosed as synesthetic, but I believe others have the same responses, just to different extents. Also, I argue that a nonsynesthete reacts to neutral stimuli depending on the individual’s prior experience, or emotional associations to the event. It’s almost as though a memory can be “relived” but only in colors, sounds, tastes, or vague and abstract shapes instead of explicit images. It seems that each perception would include what the other cannot.
Martha Showalter
What Will We Become Next? Intuition can often times be mistaken for a sign that the supernatural/paranormal exists. The fact that you know someone is going to call right before the phone rings, or the fact that you sense something bad is about to happen, and then your mom calls to tell you your sister died, is not necessarily a sign that the paranormal exists. At the same time, I believe that if the existence of psychic powers were ever to be proven true, it would be the next step in the evolutionary process and a step toward higher consciousness.

Jeremy Stephens
Marijuana and Consciousness
I think that marijuana effects the brain and conscious because when people are on it seems they are in a happier state of consciousness and that the people who smoke marijuana are more happy and less likely to commit crimes, and or other bad things. Also I believe marijuana effects the brain in different ways such as being hungry or even being more paranoid and I am going to find out if that is true or not.