Philosophy of 
Colloquium Program

Alma College
May 21-22

Session M1A: May 21, 10:00: Psychoactive Substances
John Antoniotti
Cannabis: Gateway to Consciousness

Cannabis is considered by many detractors to be a gateway drug, leading users to more destructive drugs. However, historically, cannabis was not used as a gateway to worse drugs, but a gateway into the conscious mind. I will explore the physical effects of cannabis, as well as the subjective sensations associated with the drug to demonstrate that cannabis is not the horrible, life-destroying plant many make it out to be. Instead, cannabis can better help us understand our own consciousness. Also, “altered state of consciousness” is not an apt description of what cannabis does. Consciousness is not altered, perception is.

Tony Datema
Psychedelic Drugs
In my paper I am going to prove that psychoactive drugs do not alter the state of consciousness at all. They only alter our mind's ability to perceive what it already creates. Using detailed accounts of other people's experiences along with introducing my personal past experiences I hope to convince people that these drugs, when taken carefully, can teach us a nice amount about the intangible mind. The drugs I will be focusing on are mescaline, magic mushrooms, acid, and marihuana.
Donald Easlick
Alcohol & Attitude Adjustment
My main focus of this paper is to define and explore how alcohol allows you to slip into different states of consciousness, the effects of alcohol on your behavior while in these different states of consciousness, and the long term side effects of this mind altering depressant on consciousness, including its addictive potential.
Michelle Sibbald Natural vs Artificial drugs and their effects on consciousness I will study the differences between natural and articifial drugs and their effects and what that means for the consciousness.  I will study both selfs report and scientific writes up to best understand the effects of both and determine if they are helpful or harmful overall.
Session M1B: May 21, 11:00: Consciousness & Altered States
Jasmine Edwards
Natural and Unnatural Methods to Reach ASCs

Altered states of consciousness are short, temporary experiences that are not recognized by the individual when they are occurring; however an individual is aware that they did experience something abnormal when they come out of ASC, by comparing their experience to the real world around them ( Kaszniak, Alfred) . Everyone can experience ASC and can achieve an altered state of consciousness through numerous natural and unnatural methods. However, in this paper I will focus on two natural methods (meditation, and sober praying), and two unnatural ways by ingesting different types of hallucinogens.

Tyler Martinez
Meditation Can't Replace Medication
The author will argue against transcendental meditation as a cure for stress related disorders including, but not limited to, anxiety and panic disorders and concludes by strongly disagreeing with the mainstream paradigm that labels transcendental meditation “the single most effective technique available for gaining deep relaxation, eliminating stress, promoting health, increasing intelligence, and attaining inner happiness and fulfillment.” (392) The opinionated aspect of the paper argues for using meditation strictly for religious purposes.
Kay McDonald
The Indefinability of Consciousness
There is always a problem with defining something that is not universally categorized or defined, like consciousness. I will analyze three theories: materialism, dualism, and monism. I observe there are too many "things" placed under the heading of consciousness; some based solely on theoretical framework and others are "outright philosophical and conceptual"(Lycan). The bottom line is that all of the purposed theories face the same problem with defining the indefinable.
Session M2A: May 21, 1:00: NDEs, OBEs, & ESP
Drew Garno
Exploring the Mysteries of Near Death Experiences

People who are dying or have returned from clinical death tell similar stories: they speak, for example, of their spirit leaving their body, of “feeling separated from the world.” Some suggest this is evidence of out of body consciousness, soul, or spirit. Scientists and skeptics argue that these images and experiences are simply the brain's natural dying function, loss of oxygen, and most recently REM intrusion. However, the existence of heightened, lucid awareness and logical thought processes during a period of impaired of cerebral perfusion and or clinical death challenges the concept that consciousness is localized exclusively in the brain. I argue that when a brain is traumatized by a seizure or car wreck the individual does not remember moments just before of after losing consciousness.

Matt Stempki
The Reality of Out of Body Experiences
An out-of-body experience (OBE) is characterized by a feeling of leaving from one’s physical body and observing both one’s self and the world from outside of one’s body. Some people experience an OBE while under the influence of an anesthetic or while semi-conscious due to trauma or while under the influence of drugs. Also, OBEs have been induced by electrically stimulating the right angular gyrus (located at the juncture of the temporal and parietal lobes). I plan to take a stand on whether or not they really do occur.
Ashley Grizzell Extrasensory Perception The term "extrasensory perception" was created by J.B. Rhine to denote parapsychological abilities such as telepathy, precognition, and clairvoyance. Extrasensory Perception has been tested in scientific labs for many years, but many scientists, and I myself, reject the results because of the many other alternatives for formulating the same answers. Even though many individuals claim to have the ability to use Extrasensory Perception, and those abilities have been tested several times in scientific labs and yielded high results, it does not exist.
Session M2B: May 21, 2:00: Varieties of Conscious Experience
Jonathan Smith
Hallucinations are Conscious

Hallucinations can be classified as occurring consciously, even while sleeping. There are many examples of people hallucinating while they’re awake when, even under the influence of strong substances, the person hallucinating is still in a conscious state; an altered conscious state, but still a conscious state. When we sleep our bodies may be unconscious, since we aren’t aware of turning and moving in our sleep, but I think out minds are still somewhat conscious since we can recall our dreams. If we were completely unconscious it seems we wouldn’t.

Jessica Kowalczyk
Memories are Conscious Experiences, Right?
While many people believe that memories are actual happenings, various studies have shown that people can be easily manipulated into “remembering” things that never really happened. A memory can be a false conscious experience: repressed memories, for example, can actually be fabricated memories. I will discuss real life stories of people who have “remembered” an act that took place. Upon further investigation it was proven that the supposed act never took place.
Ramae Lewis
Infant Consciousness
Sentience, sapience, and perception of environment develop with time. Subjectivity and self-awareness begin within a few weeks of conception, before a mother may even know what she is yet. There is much supporting evidence from various studies. It has even been shown that a baby will recognize it’s native language from listening inside the womb. Yet they cut umbilical cords, do circumcisions, and rip tape off of babies arms with no regard to what the baby may be experiencing, be it pain, distress, or discomfort. In my experience as a mother, I can testify that babies are conscious human beings with their own thoughts, subjectivism, and reality.
Michael Dearie How real am I?

The Buddha’s theory of no-self implies that the day-to-day personality that we take for granted as being stable has no more substance than the reflection of the moon on a lake. The “I” that seems to sit at the center of conscious experience is only a mirage, an clever use of language that subtly changes the landscape of how we view ourselves in relation to the world. Alan Watt’s philosophy of self and the nature of reality coincide with this view of the self as being a useful tool for explaining personal actions, but a tool with the power to erode the nature of experience itself.

Session T1A, May 22, 10:00: Philosophical Perspectives
David Burkart
The Unconscious Machine: Humans, Machines, and Why the Matrix is Possible

In this paper I will examine film and real life experiences to demostrate how we may not be fully conscious. It is entirely plausible we are in a dream state right at this very moment and are being controlled by a machine while our bodies are being used as fuel. Or what should be made of the concept of “imaginary comrades” such as in Fight Club. I will examine all these issues, arguing that we are not entirely fully conscious, and in fact may not be at all.

David Dyer
Neurophenomenology: The Case for a Synergistic Approach to Cognitive Science
The two methods for studying consciousness are phenomenology and neuroscience. Each approach faces difficulties which, I argue, make them inadequate for a complete study of consciousness: the former being unscientific and the later failing to overcome the explanatory gap. Neurophenomenology proposes a way of gathering accurate data about first person experience and calls for the observations of neuroscience to be interpreted in the context of this data. I argue that a neurophenomenological approach is superior to either method on its own, and that at the very least first person data gathered by rigid methodology can provide experimental context for interpreting scientific findings.
John Fillmore
DOur Fleeting Consciousness: Rethinking the Mind's Eye
A new theory of unconscious perception suggests that there is no such thing as being conscious or unconscious, as the only difference between the two are the changing of objective and subjective thresholds of consciousness. Instead of making the claim that there is no differentiation, I submit that there is a difference for every circumstance. However, due to our environment and changing stimuli, our conscious state is in a state of constant flux. Therefore, our conscious mind and our unconscious mind are in a regular give and take relationship throughout the day, with things continually shifting between the two instead of remaining ambiguous. This would mean that our consciousness is extremely fleeting and constantly being redefined.
Session T1B, May 22, 11:00: Machine Consciousness
Karl Recker
Upgrade Available: Machine Consciousness

Rejection of conscious machines tends to hinge on the inaccurate assumption mankind will not create extraordinary new technologies. As the Wright Brothers weren’t thinking Cape Canaveral when they went to Kitty Hawk, so too can we achieve “Einstein” by starting with ALICE. Technological advances already created, such as Cog at MIT, help us visualize where we are going. Precisely how this consciousness is eventually obtained by machines is not what’s most important though, but rather why it is conceptually possible. Once we move past the technological limitations of current computing (which may stem from the limitations of our own personal computer; our brain) we can see how artificial consciousness will one day be achieved.

Charles Cook
Is Turing's Test Trivial
Since Alan Turing created his “Imitation Game” in 1950 technology has made strides far greater than predicted by Turing: computers have the ability to process much more information than ever before. One of the first intelligence tests for robots was in chess. At first engineers failed to produce machines that could beat humans, but eventually Deep Blue beat Garry Kasparov, the world champion. However, there are major differences between chess and the Imitation Game, and machines have yet to outwit man in it. Eventually, machines could very well pass the test, maybe even with more success than people. Should this happen, perhaps the machine is still not intelligent based on its design.
Salina Maxwell
Robot Consciousness and Rights
Though current technology limits our ability to create conscious and emotional robots, future technology may do just that. If machines are created whose emotions, intelligence, actions, functions, and feelings are indistinguishable from ours, then those machines should be granted the same rights and privileges as members of society. Our legal system has been known to distinguish between persons and non-persons through arbitrarily-defined criteria in the past, and it has always led to disastrous moral consequences. Examples from futuristic movies such as Blade Runner, I-Robot, Short Circuit, A.I., and Transformers show how arbitrary the criteria to distinguish humans from non-humans would become. The technology is in our future and one day humans will have to deal with robot-rights: if it talks, thinks, acts, and is conscious like a human, it will want–and deserve–the rights of humans.
Session T2A, May 22, 1:00: Emotions, Art, Automata & Us
Amy Rockafellow
Testing Consciousness: Art, Language, & Machines

In the development of a child into its adult life or the development of the human species throughout time, the use of images comes first and then language follows. Consciousness, in this way, depends upon pictographic art as the predecessor of language. As there is such a predecessor for language, the Turing test is forcing focus on a particular piece of consciousness too soon. Language will be more likely to come in the way Turing’s test hoped if it is possible to cause evolution (similar to that assumed in humans and other species) in machines and if the machine creators worked on art or symbolic representation of the localized world.

Sawyer Plume
Emotions, Automata, & Us
The ability to love and hate be sad or happy are things that a person is able to do but a computer or Zombie would have no feelings of. Emotions are what make humans know that we exisit and that we are conscious beings. Data on Star Trek who was an android, can feel emotions when a so called “emotion chip” is implanted in his system. These emotions chips of course do not exisit and probably never well. We do not understand how emotions work, but we do know that only conscious beings can have them
Kandace Mallard
Chakras: Their Nature & Existence

Abstract Forthcoming.

Shane Pinger TBA

Abstract Forthcoming

Session T2B, May 22, 2:00: Consciousness & Control
William Warsinski
Free Will, The Key to Automata Consciousness

Automatons may be considered conscious when they can perform desired tasks in unstructured environments and without continuous human guidance. Looking at such fictional examples as HAL 9000 from 2001: A Space Odyssey and the NEXUS-6 replicant Rachel from Blade Runner, chatbots such as ALICE, and from ongoing scientific research in the field of robotics, this paper will look at the Turing test to determine if it is too difficult or too simple to measure the complexity of consciousness.

Joseph Trycinski
The Zero-Sum Game of Consciousness and Free Will, and why Subjectivity matters most

Neuroscience is probing deeper into the brain and is better understanding the casual links between certain regions of the brain and specific functionality. While regions have been associated with consciousness and perception, it seems unlikely that there exists a specific site at which the perception and consciousness are singly derived. Rather, consciousness appears to be emergent. However, a concept of emergent consciousness has powerful implications for the origin of personal identity and the exercise of free will. This paper explores these concepts and attempts to create a synthesis that explains how the illusion of free will is necessitated by consciousness, but does not deny the existence or legitimacy of subjective experience.

Patrick Seymour
In the Zone

I will look at the effects of consciousness in different types of athletes and how they react in different situations. I will ague the best players in their field are not always conscious of what they are doing. During competition, a player will become unconscious of what they are doing and automatically react to situations based on natural instinct and training. There is no conscious thought process, just reaction.