• Yun Jae Jung
    19
    I've been contemplating whether consciousness is physical or spiritual. I'm sure that there are some flaws in my way of thinking and I decided that this would be a good place to ask as to what they might be.

    My idea was to simulate two worlds and observe the difference of my choosing (consciousness) so that I can determine what the type of that difference is (physical or spiritual) by seeing what can remain the same between the two worlds in a hypothetical situation.

    So this is the thought experiment. Imagine that there are two worlds. Both worlds have the same physical laws e.g. gravity, thermodynamics, electromagnetism, etc. However, from one world emerges the possibility of consciousness in the right conditions, but from the other, there is no such possibility even under the same situation. Now, it's possible for me to imagine a world where causality progresses without consciousness of any kind despite having gravity, thermodynamics, electromagnetism, etc. In that world, there would be humans that act like humans but wouldn't be sentient at all. (Fake People) Likewise, I know from experience that a world exists with physical laws and consciousness (our world).

    So these two worlds have the same physical laws, but they're still different from each other. What is that supposed difference? It's consciousness. Therefore, does that mean consciousness is not physical by merit of me being able to imagine said two worlds?

    There's a potential criticism because this is based on a hypothetical imagination, but logic still follows from even hypothetical situations. For example, I could imagine a blue balloon and a red balloon and know for sure that one of the differences in type is color. It would be wrong of me to say I could imagine these two balloons have the same color. So as you can see, you can still draw logical conclusions from even imaginary scenarios. -The very fact that you can imagine it shows that it's concurrent with the concept of a characteristic or type.

    Thoughts? Flaws? -Yes, I know where babies come from but maybe physicality alone can't create self-awareness and there's a magical man that puts souls in objects.
  • SolarWind
    144
    I have written something similar: Imaginary proof of the soul .

    It proves the existence of an "Ipointer" (or soul) independent of the existence of p-zombies.

    Whether the Ipointer or the matter carries the qualia cannot be shown with this proof.

    I wait for the one who comes after me to continue the proof.
  • Yun Jae Jung
    19
    Very interesting, I didn't know that there was already theory on this. Now I have some references when talking about this idea which is great!
  • Yun Jae Jung
    19
    Is there a reason why you're so concerned with whether matter contains qualia? I'm personally more interested in how causality would work between physical matter and spiritual matter.
  • I like sushi
    2.7k
    Sounds like pan psychism … which I think you’ll find interesting. Personally I think it’s blind speculation.
  • MondoR
    335
    Why are you bothering to imagine anything? Just observe.

    You are conscious. You interact with a physical world. Is there any boundary between you and the physical world. Between you and your physical body? Everything interacts, because it is all the same, just like steam-water-ice. There is no magical barrier between the three.

    Mind is immanent and from itself is creates matter. No magic is needed to pull mind out of matter.
  • Manuel
    1.6k
    So these two worlds have the same physical laws, but they're still different from each other. What is that supposed difference? It's consciousness. Therefore, does that mean consciousness is not physical by merit of me being able to imagine said two worlds?Yun Jae Jung

    I think the problem lies in thinking that what you mean by "physical" automatically excludes consciousness. Why? Why can't consciousness be a wholly physical phenomenon? It presumably comes out of certain configurations of matter, i.e. brains.

    So what if the laws of physics don't say anything directly about consciousness? We need consciousness to access the laws of physics, so in a certain sense, they cannot be of a fundamentally different nature as experience. This does not mean that atoms think, or that panpsychism is true.

    This should be taken as meaning that "physical stuff" is much, much more than what we initially take it to be, as it includes experience.

    Matter which lacks the potential for consciousness in any possible configuration is not the physical stuff we actually deal with in this world, or maybe any.
  • SolarWind
    144
    Why can't consciousness be a wholly physical phenomenon? It presumably comes out of certain configurations of matter, i.e. brains.Manuel

    Simple questions: Does a housefly have consciousness? Does it have feelings? Or is it just a bio-machine? What about plants? Are reactions to the environment sufficient or necessary conditions for consciousness?

    Someone with a complete worldview should be able to answer that.
  • TheMadFool
    12.6k
    No magic is needed to pull mind out of matter.MondoR

    :up: We've been wasting our time.
  • TheMadFool
    12.6k
    Does a housefly have consciousness?SolarWind

    Let's work with gut feelings. Do you hesitate, even if only for a moment, before swatting a fly?

    Does it have feelings?SolarWind

    Same question as above.

    Or is it just a bio-machine?SolarWind

    Ditto.

    What about plants?SolarWind

    Ditto.
  • SolarWind
    144
    Let's work with gut feelings.TheMadFool

    This is not a scientific answer. It is about answering questions through experiments. In philosophy also through thought experiments.

    What is then your gut feeling to dark matter? Why research? We'll just ask you.
  • TheMadFool
    12.6k
    This is not a scientific answer. It is about answering questions through experiments. In philosophy also through thought experiments.

    What is then your gut feeling to dark matter? Why research? We'll just ask you
    SolarWind

    I merely offered my thoughts on the matter. Sorry it didn't click. Sometimes it does, it should actually but I'm just getting to learn the ropes.
  • Vince
    66
    Simple questions: Does a housefly have consciousness?SolarWind

    Difficult to answer without a clear definition of what consciousness is.
    The author of a neuroscience book I read defined consciousness as "the ensemble of all mental experiences ". Is it what we are talking about, or just some of these experiences? Like self-awareness for example.
  • NOS4A2
    5k


    There is some question begging occurring in the scenario. The conclusion is assumed in the premise. Why would consciousness occur in one but not the other? In the world without consciousness the people are not sentient. Why are they not sentient? There is no consciousness.
  • SolarWind
    144
    "Simple questions: Does a housefly have consciousness? — SolarWind"

    Difficult to answer without a clear definition of what consciousness is.
    Vince

    Would you ask the same question if someone hit their dog? Is the dog even conscious?

    Why is it self-evident for you that the dog is capable of suffering, but you start to wonder about the housefly?

    Do you also think about the clear definition of consciousness with the dog?
  • Vince
    66
    Would you ask the same question if someone hit their dog? Is the dog even conscious?

    Why is it self-evident for you that the dog is capable of suffering, but you start to wonder about the housefly?

    Do you also think about the clear definition of consciousness with the dog?
    SolarWind

    When I step outside, it is self-evident that the Sun is going around a flat Earth, which most of us know not to be true. It seems to me that non-human animals are not bio-machines, so I assume that they
    have consciousness, but it doesn't make it true. But let's assume it's true, is animal consciousness the same as human consciousness? There are just too many elements in the definition of consciousness to answer the question with a simple yes or no. There's also a wide variety of animals with different types of brains, brain/body ratio, etc...Are animals sentient? Are they capable of introspection? In my opinion, trying to answer specifics will give a better picture than lumping everything together into one big question.
  • Apollodorus
    2.7k
    maybe physicality alone can't create self-awarenessYun Jae Jung

    I think the question of self-awareness is a very interesting one.

    What is "self"? Presumably, what (individual) "consciousness" identifies with, e.g., body, emotions, thoughts, etc.

    But can consciousness be aware of itself beyond that? If yes, what is the object of that awareness? How could it be described or conceived?
  • Vince
    66
    First, awareness, then self-awareness, then awareness of self-awareness?
  • SolarWind
    144
    It seems to me that non-human animals are not bio-machines, so I assume that they have consciousness, but it doesn't make it true. But let's assume it's true, is animal consciousness the same as human consciousness? There are just too many elements in the definition of consciousness to answer the question with a simple yes or no.Vince

    It only matters if they can feel suffering, because suffering is the definition of conscious life.

    So:
    1) Can dogs feel suffering?
    2) Can houseflies feel suffering?
    3) Can plants feel suffering?
  • Corvus
    1k
    For example, I could imagine a blue balloon and a red balloon and know for sure that one of the differences in type is color. It would be wrong of me to say I could imagine these two balloons have the same color. So as you can see, you can still draw logical conclusions from even imaginary scenarios. -The very fact that you can imagine it shows that it's concurrent with the concept of a characteristic or type.Yun Jae Jung

    That sounds like epistemic or psychological conclusion based on your perception. Logical conclusion involves premises, arguments. One can say that they are different colour without being illogical because the statement / judgement is based on one's sensory perception rather than analytic reasoning.

    Thoughts? Flaws? -Yes, I know where babies come from but maybe physicality alone can't create self-awareness and there's a magical man that puts souls in objects.Yun Jae Jung

    Souls? - isn't it rather ancient religious or mystic tone rather than modern philosophy of mind?
  • litewave
    587
    So these two worlds have the same physical laws, but they're still different from each other. What is that supposed difference? It's consciousness. Therefore, does that mean consciousness is not physical by merit of me being able to imagine said two worlds?Yun Jae Jung

    Not necessarily. I can imagine a physical world that is the same as ours except it has no tomatoes. Yet there are tomatoes in our world. Does that mean that tomatoes are not physical?
  • Joshs
    2k
    What is "self"? Presumably, what (individual) "consciousness" identifies with, e.g., body, emotions, thoughts, etc.

    But can consciousness be aware of itself beyond that? If yes, what is the object of that awareness? How could it be described or conceived?
    Apollodorus

    My favorite thinkers say self is not an entity , not a specific content , but a relation. We often use the word ‘self’ to talk about a unified multiplicity. We say a configuration is self-consistent or self-organized. We do t mean self here as a pure identity, but the way a process of change is consistent with ‘itself’ over time. Body, emotions, thoughts all belong to and at expressions of such an ongoing process of change.
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