• Paul Michael
    20
    Could we consider consciousness to be entirely physical in nature, yet at the same time physical consciousness is all that exists, perhaps in the form of a single, unified physical ‘field’ á la quantum field theory? I’m not talking about panpsychism in the sense of all discrete, individual particles possessing consciousness. Rather, under this view all that exists is physical, but the physical is itself one whole ‘field’ of consciousness? In other words, there would be no distinction or difference between the physical and consciousness.

    I’m sorry if this doesn’t ultimately make sense or is incoherent, I’d just like to get other perspectives on this question.
  • Michael
    9.9k
    Hempel's dilemma

    On the one hand, we may define the physical as whatever is currently explained by our best physical theories, e.g., quantum mechanics, general relativity. Though many would find this definition unsatisfactory, some would accept that we have at least a general understanding of the physical based on these theories, and can use them to assess what is physical and what is not. And therein lies the rub, as a worked-out explanation of mentality currently lies outside the scope of such theories.

    On the other hand, if we say that some future, "ideal" physics is what is meant, then the claim is rather empty, for we have no idea of what this means. The "ideal" physics may even come to define what we think of as mental as part of the physical world. In effect, physicalism by this second account becomes the circular claim that all phenomena are explicable in terms of physics because physics properly defined is whatever explains all phenomena.
  • tim wood
    7.9k
    Could we....Paul Michael
    We could. (But what good does it do?) Are you answered?
  • Paul Michael
    20
    Thanks for the information, I vaguely remember coming across Hempel’s Dilemma in the past but never really analyzed it.

    We could. (But what good does it do?) Are you answered?tim wood

    Practically speaking, it wouldn’t necessarily do us any good at all. But I think, if it were true and we came to understand it, it would offer a broader understanding of consciousness and our place in reality. In other words, it would give us a better grasp on the fundamental nature of reality, which could benefit us by allowing us to see ourselves in a broader context of consciousness.
  • tim wood
    7.9k
    Let's try a start: what does "entirely physical" mean?
  • Paul Michael
    20
    I would say anything completely described by the laws of physics
  • tim wood
    7.9k
    That's an interesting definition! - Is anything at all so described?
    And what even does "description" mean, if not comparison to something else? Best here, imo, to start with the simplest. What could stand as an obvious and simple example of something that is completely described by the laws of physics? (I suspect your definition won't hold or be useful.)
  • Paul Michael
    20
    I see where you’re going with this — ‘physical’ is an ambiguous term. I would agree that my definition doesn’t hold since I can’t come up with a meaningful answer to your question.

    But why do people defend physicalism if ‘physical’ is ill-defined?
  • tim wood
    7.9k
    But why do people defend physicalism if ‘physical’ is ill-defined?Paul Michael

    Well, you've just implied, at least, that nothing is well-defined. But the world's work gets done. And maybe "physical" is partly well-defined, at least for practical purpose. I'll leave you to break these many stones down to manageable size.
  • Mww
    2.7k
    Could we consider consciousness to be entirely physical in nature.....Paul Michael

    Yep. Been considered as, but not provably so.

    under this view all that exists is physical, but the physical is itself one whole ‘field’ of consciousnessPaul Michael

    All that exists is physical, which means one whole field of consciousness necessarily presupposes physicalism.

    The second part of the compound proposition has “physical” as subject, the copula “is”, and predicate as “field”. So the physical is one whole field (of consciousness) doesn’t necessarily mean the whole field, which permits fields of consciousness to contain something of non-physicalism nature. In order to reconcile this, some definition of existence, or of consciousness, would be required to eliminate such possible non-physical content.

    So....physicalism is reconcilable with idealism if consciousness exists, insofar as idealism is falsified, but not reconcilable if consciousness does not physically exist but is nonetheless real, insofar as idealism is obtained.

    Physicalism is reconcilable with idealism if the entire field of consciousness is existentially physical, the possibility of abstract field content, is falsified.

    Plus....what said.
  • 180 Proof
    6k
    'Idealism' presupposes – supervenes on – (non-reductive) physicalism; that is, consciousness (i.e. mind) is an emergent process, or activity, under sufficiently computational complex conditions (i.e. non-mind (e.g. intact-enactive, living, mammalian CNS-brains)). T. Metzinger's neurophilosophy centered on (the) self-model theory of subjectivity (SMT), for instance, explicates this conception.

    Rather, under this view all that exists is physical, but the physical is itself one whole ‘field’ of consciousness?
    Well, like any other "physical field", do you have a candidate for a "force carrier", or gauge boson, for fundamental interactions (e.g. EM field has photons)? Or does this "physical field of consciousness" operate in a non-physical manner not subject to known physical laws (re: fundamental forces)?
  • TheMadFool
    12.6k
    Some things are physical AND some things are nonphysical. There, reconciled.
  • Tom Storm
    2.2k
    In other words, it would give us a better grasp on the fundamental nature of reality, which could benefit us by allowing us to see ourselves in a broader context of consciousness.Paul Michael

    Generally underlying a question like this is an attempt to locate some kind of transcendent meaning that perhaps can't be found in physicalism (however we define this latter term). Is this where you are heading?
  • Enrique
    615


    Well, like any other "physical field", do you have a candidate for a "force carrier", or gauge boson, for fundamental interactions (e.g. EM field has photons)? Or does this "physical field of consciousness" operate in a non-physical manner not subject to known physical laws (re: fundamental forces)?180 Proof

    The physics of perception:

    The motion of charged particles generates an electromagnetic field.

    Particles emit electromagnetic radiation.

    The electromagnetic field of the brain is strong due to large quantities of charged ions moving around.

    The strength of the electromagnetic field as emergent from voltage differentials forcefully binds particles and radiation such that they pervasively superposition while quantum entangled in atomic bonds etc., the wavelengths of their constituent matter synthesized into complex hybrids.

    These superpositions within entanglement fields are the substance of qualitative percepts or "qualia", both dimensionality (image properties) and feeling (nonimage properties). This is analogous to the way the different combinations of wavelengths within the visible spectrum produce differing shades, only it is superposition as the substrate of subjectivity rather than its simpler objective correlates in light and sound.

    It has been proven that electromagnetic radiation of the brain influences the behavior of ion channels and nervous system molecules in general, so fields that radiate on a large scale in the brain are active causes, not merely passive effects. It has been proposed that these relatively macroscopic radiative/molecular fields could be the seat of intentional awareness.

    Nonelectromagnetic physical fields might saturate and undergird electromagnetic matter. These could be responsible for nonlocal (classical physics transcending) conscious phenomena.

    Together, these principles solve the binding problem, and also the explanatory gap (a chasm between models of percept and matter). It also accounts for how perceptual phenomena seem to be causal rather than merely a passive ghost in the machine, as identical to certain features of consciousness which arise from quantumlike mechanisms amongst matter.

    This seems like an adequate foundation, no theoretical idealism necessary. What do you think?
  • Manuel
    1.6k


    Yes and I think Galen Strawson offers a good alternative (as good as any other) in his Real Materialism essay.

    Everything that concretely exists is physical. This includes consciousness. But that everything is physical should not be confused with the view that everything is physicSal. There's no reason to suppose physics will tell us much about experience, just as physics says very little about music or painting.

    Experience arises from brains, we don't know how. We may find out some day, or we may not. As for idealism, we are adopting a choice in terminology: what is incoherent in saying that what I'm most acquainted with my mind and its percepts and that the world is a mental construction on the occasion of sense data with the idea that mental phenomena are physical phenomena?

    Just like gravity is a physical phenomena and sound is too. This does not imply his panpsychism at all. Only monism.

    So I see no inherent reason for tension in word use.
  • 180 Proof
    6k
    Clever pseudo-scientific speculation. The fact is brains are 'too hot' for quantum effects to produce classical metacognitions. (Btw, the human brain generates only about 20 watts so ... :roll:)
  • Enrique
    615
    The fact is brains are 'too hot' for quantum effects to produce classical metacognitions. (Btw, the human brain generates only about 20 watts so ... :roll:)180 Proof

    It has been shown that the phosphates in ATP may engage in a superposition state that is almost a second in duration. It is not unreasonable to assume that superposition is evolutionarily adaptive for its role in subjective perception, so will be discovered as a key mechanism coordinated with much complexity in all kinds of locations within the brain. This is not far out global microtubule stuff, it is more plausible. Electromagnetic field effects are not a product of total power or wattage, but voltage differentials that on a microscopic scale prove extremely strong per unit of brain matter. :grin:
  • Paul Michael
    20
    I have a lot to respond to here :lol:.

    physicalism is reconcilable with idealism if consciousness exists, insofar as idealism is falsified, but not reconcilable if consciousness does not physically exist but is nonetheless real, insofar as idealism is obtained.

    Physicalism is reconcilable with idealism if the entire field of consciousness is existentially physical, the possibility of abstract field content, is falsified.
    Mww

    Well, like any other "physical field", do you have a candidate for a "force carrier", or gauge boson, for fundamental interactions (e.g. EM field has photons)? Or does this "physical field of consciousness" operate in a non-physical manner not subject to known physical laws (re: fundamental forces)?180 Proof

    In thinking about this topic some more, rather than trying to reconcile physicalism with idealism and invoking a ‘physical field of consciousness’, perhaps it would be more meaningful for me to ask: can what we consider to be physical and what we consider to be mental (consciousness) actually be identical? And I don’t simply mean in the case of living organisms — I mean universally.

    Some things are physical AND some things are nonphysical. There, reconciled.TheMadFool

    Yes, this does indeed reconcile them quite well. However (and I should have specified this so forgive me), what I had in mind was a sort of monism where what is considered to be physical and what is considered to be mental are identical.

    Generally underlying a question like this is an attempt to locate some kind of transcendent meaning that perhaps can't be found in physicalism (however we define this latter term). Is this where you are heading?Tom Storm

    In a way, yes. I agree with philosophers like Bernardo Kastrup who essentially say that physicalism/materialism tends to suck the transcendent meaning out of life. However, I am not wholly motivated by a personal search for transcendent meaning, but mainly by sheer metaphysical curiosity as to the way things are. If it turns out that physicalism is ‘true’, then that’s the way things are and I must accept it.
  • Tom Storm
    2.2k
    In a way, yes. I agree with philosophers like Bernardo Kastrup who essentially say that physicalism/materialism tends to suck the transcendent meaning out of life.Paul Michael

    This is certainly a common view. I wonder if life would be any less tedious or fraught if idealism holds true. What do you suppose is the advantage of transcendent meaning?
  • Paul Michael
    20
    I wonder if life would be any less tedious or fraught if idealism holds true. What do you suppose is the advantage of transcendent meaning?Tom Storm

    In my opinion, if there legitimately is transcendent meaning for us to discover, finding it can alleviate at least some of the psychological and emotional suffering and discomfort that many people endure by showing them that life is not inherently limited to this brief window of experience we get while we are here. For example, if consciousness were definitively discovered to be fundamental, then it would show how our lives are directly interconnected and potentially shift the way people view reality. It would also imply that death is not the end of consciousness. In effect, it would give people some ground to stand on, so to speak.
  • Tom Storm
    2.2k
    In my opinion, if there legitimately is transcendent meaning for us to discover, finding it can alleviate at least some of the psychological and emotional suffering and discomfort that many people endure by showing them that life is not inherently limited to this brief window of experience we get while we are here.Paul Michael

    That's certainly what critics of religion argue - that it provides an anodyne for suffering.

    I suspect however that a transcendent meaning will only serve to magnify feelings of cosmic injustice and misery - how to explain the death of babies and childhood cancer and the unbelievable savage cruelty of nature... If all is just physicalism then, so what? But if it was designed this way by a transcendent being or force, then what a staggeringly wasteful and vile approach to being this is. Of course believers can always cobble together justifications or escape clauses.
  • 180 Proof
    6k
    Oooooookay, man. Good luck with all that. :eyes:
  • 180 Proof
    6k
    ... can what we consider to be physical and what we consider to be mental (consciousness) actually be identical?Paul Michael
    No. But "mental" is clearly not non-physical; it's just a way of (i.e. "folk psychology") talking about an aspect of the physical. "Consciousness" (mind), IME, is simply a recursive token-reflexive process certain sufficiently complex physical systems (e.g. brain-environment interactions) produce.
  • Paul Michael
    20
    That's certainly what critics of religion argue - that it provides an anodyne for suffering.Tom Storm

    Yes, right.

    I suspect however that a transcendent meaning will only serve to magnify feelings of cosmic injustice and misery - how to explain the death of babies and childhood cancer and the unbelievable savage cruelty of nature... If all is just physicalism then, so what? But if it was designed this way by a transcendent being or force, then what a staggeringly wasteful and vile approach to being this is. Of course believers can always cobble together justifications or escape clauses.Tom Storm

    I tend to align with Schopenhauer and Kastrup on this particular issue in that, if there actually is a transcendent force, it does not deliberately or self-reflectively do anything in its pure form. It could be that the manifestation of the world by the transcendent consciousness or force is entirely instinctual or involuntary, analogous to a non-lucid dream.

    Now, I will be the first to admit that this is pure speculation on my part, and I personally do not claim to know with certainty that this is the case.
  • Enrique
    615


    Thank you for your well wishes!
  • Enrique
    615
    I tend to align with Schopenhauer on this particular issue in that, if there actually is a transcendent force, it does not deliberately or self-reflectively do anything in its pure form. It could be that the manifestation of the world by the transcendent consciousness or force is entirely instinctual or involuntary, analogous to a non-lucid dream.Paul Michael

    I think large sections of the brain's matter are electromagnetically bound together exactly like that, as a non-lucid dream. The gap between the unconscious/subconscious and fully attentive consciousness is bridged when an amplifying feedback loop of electromagnetic radiation activating nerves reaches a sufficient level to generate CEMI fields. If you're not familiar with CEMI field theory, I explain it in this thread: Uniting CEMI and Coherence Field Theories of Consciousness. This reasoning strongly suggests how consciousness can be entirely physical, and may be applicable beyond the brain.
  • Paul Michael
    20
    Very interesting, I’m not familiar with CEMI field theory but I’m definitely going to look into it starting with the thread you linked.
  • Mww
    2.7k
    rather than trying to reconcile physicalism with idealism (...) can what we consider to be physical and what we consider to be mental (consciousness) actually be identical?Paul Michael

    On the one hand, that just seems like the ultimate reconciliation, doesn’t it? I doubt they’d be considered identical to each other, on the other, so the implication is they each would be identical to something else. But that’s merely extending the rabbit’s hole, from that which we don’t yet know, to that which we have much less chance of ever knowing.

    Why not leave them separate? Maybe there’s a clue in the fact no one has been able to sufficiently meld them, logically or empirically.

    Dunno....maybe someday.
  • NOS4A2
    5k


    I don’t think so because idealism is inherently solipsistic. The idealist cannot view past himself, or at least believes he extends beyond his own boundary.

    I just wonder why we would insert consciousness into our view of things. For whatever reason we often shoehorn these essences over nature, but is never actually deduced from it. After all, the term “conscious” describes things, and is not itself a thing. We add the suffix, make it a thing, and the world is supposed to conform to it.
  • 180 Proof
    6k
    After all, the term “conscious” describes things, and is not itself a thing. We add the suffix, make it a thing, and the world is supposed to conform to it.NOS4A2
    :up:
  • Tom Storm
    2.2k
    Nicely put. Reification?
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