The measure of mind

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I've just been reading The Story of Psychology, which is an encyclopedic account of the origin and evolution of the idea and practice of psychology. There's a lot about Aristotle, who was undoubtedly one of the great minds of all time. But you have to think, any well-rounded person with some smarts has a much more comprehensive and accurate understanding than Aristotle possibly could have. Insights into things like systems-theory and quantum mechanics give tantalizing glimpses of the universe as a huge kind of organism. Things that Aristotle could only ascribe to gods are for some people palpable aspects of reality.

I guess if Aristotle were here now, he would make that much more of it. But he's not. What would it be like, to be that great a mind, and yet still not see so much of what lesser minds do now?

Is the mind in what is understood, or in the way in which it understands?
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Is the mind in what is understood, or in the way in which it understands?

When I read what people have written - 100 years ago, 500, 1,000, 2,500 - I'm usually amazed by how sophisticated they are. People in Athens, China, Alexandria, were just as smart, perceptive, skillful, wise as they are now. Their mastery of the technologies that were available to them were just as impressive and admirable. I like reading about sea battles during the Napoleonic wars. It took as much skill, knowledge, competence, and certainly courage to sail one of those ships as it does to sail a modern warship.

Sure, we know more stuff now than they did back then, but we aren't smarter or wiser. Today we use science. Those guys invented it.
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Sure, we know more stuff now than they did back then, but we aren't smarter or wiser. Today we use science

Ok, granted. Much of what it means to be human is to interact with the humans around you. In fact, I argue that all of it does. If you are Paul Dirac, you still measure your life by the daily interactions with friends and family, traditional activities, etc. Or you live in a very lonely reality.

But still, that actually increased grasp of something must mean something at the social level too. Material knowledge must be quantifiable in some subjectively meaningful sense.
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Material knowledge must be quantifiable in some subjectively meaningful sense.

I don't really think so. I don't think that the average person living today understands how the world works better than Aristotle.
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I don't really think so. I don't think that the average person living today understands how the world works better than Aristotle.

So then you would place a much higher value on the subjective aspect of experience, relative to the meaning of the objective aspect? A Shakespeare play cast in a modern setting has the same meaning, plus that meaning transcends those settings and is more important than them?
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Is the mind in what is understood, or in the way in which it understands?

I figure the answer points to the importance of a dialogue that develops different models and assumptions over time. Framing answers to problems create new ones. The importance of Aristotle is that he marked out the limits of his horizon. He accepted the depths of our ignorance as described by Socrates but did not say the quality was acceptable as any kind of last word.

When Aristotle limits what can be a science to what can be identified as what changes, it can be read as an attempt at a complete explanation. But all of those accounts keep running into the limits of what has been explained. He is modelling how to use language during the work of inquiry.
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So then you would place a much higher value on the subjective aspect of experience, relative to the meaning of the objective aspect?

I'm not sure what you mean in this context.
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It is clear the language and technology has advanced, but it is not clear that man himself has evolved any further beyond man in Aristotle's time. We just have more to play with these days.
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. He is modelling how to use language during the work of inquiry.

Like a kind of generalized methodology,. I agree with the idea that knowledge is meant to be enacted. It fits with my focus on genuine beliefs (which intend towards something with true investment) vs. merely hypothetical beliefs, which appeal to logical possibility.
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You used a pretty great example, the distinction between using science and inventing science. I am just digesting that...
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The distinction you make between 'genuine beliefs' and the merely 'hypothetical' suggests a kind of disassociation that I have not observed between different psychological models. They all seem hell bent on 'saving the phenomenon' they capture.
So, from that point of view, Aristotle is not modelling a methodology but the way we make claims for them.
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Sure, we know more stuff now than they did back then, but we aren't smarter or wiser. Today we use science. Those guys invented it.
The mass of detail may obstruct the view of the essential. Taking maths as an example it seems you can get through quite a few (even university-)courses by just manipulating formulae - which could be done by a computer. You get formal definitions of spaces, homomorphisms, have to prove x->y is such and go on. May be my fault, but putting such stuff together to be even able to ask some kind of "essential" question is something modern education does not seem to have the time for. Looking at some youtube video (e.g. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nVF4N1Ix5WI ) you can get a feeling of what masses of formalism you'd have to chew down to work on open, fundamental questions.
There is no chance to be that kind of genius that has something new and valuable to say over so many things. The undeveloped state of knowledge opened that opporunity.

Is the mind in what is understood, or in the way in which it understands?
How could that be a difference?
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There is no chance to be that kind of genius that has something new and valuable to say over so many things. The undeveloped state of knowledge opened that opporunity.

Yes. I think you're right. On the other hand, there may be a lot more to know and understand now, but there are also many more very, very smart people. I feel like I'm lucky to be living at this point in history. I do worry about what comes next for my children.
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Anthony Kenny in his book The History of Western Philosophy says that, for Aristotle, the soul is the form of an organic body. Everything psychological hinges on that idea.
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... the distinction between using science and inventing science. I am just digesting that...
And in order to use science, we had to do something the ancients did not do: (just a few centuries ago) we had to invent (A) Gutenberg's printing press-powered research institutions, (B) powerful global market demand for applied sciences-technologies and (C) the (emergent) synergies between institutions & markets. Aristotle et al were elitist and parochial inventors who asked deeper rather than broader questions. We moderns, however, ask different, shallower, technocapitalist questions and invent accordingly ratcheting ourselves up exploiting the deep legacies of those ancient geniuses. Bletchley Park, The Manhattan Project, Institute for Advanced Study, Bell Labs and Silicon Valley, for examples, have been exponential force-multipliers of the speculative / proto "sciences" of Aristotle, Democritus, Sextus Empiricus, Eratosthenes, Eudoxus, Pythagoras, et al. As Newton wrote
If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants. — Isaac Newton letter to Robert Hooke, 1675
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How could that be a difference?

Well, in some sense objective contents are "digested" and assimilated/accommodated to contribute to the subjective makeup, so both things occur. I guess I'm really trying to wrap my head around whether having a comparatively limited foundation of objective understanding would necessarily limit the subjective experience in other important ways? I'm reading De Anima next, which I suppose will help answer that.
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Is the mind in what is understood, or in the way in which it understands?

I believe the two inform each other and what we get is a synergy between them: what I understand boosts the way I understand and vice versa and if we persist in our efforts, as some have, to expand our knowledge & hone our own unique approach to knowledge, great things are in store for us.

Aristotle and his coevals were doing pioneering work on philosophy - they were the first, literally, philosophers/psychologists/scientists/etc. They didn't have the benefit of libraries of books and tenured professors on the subjects that interested them. Just imagine a modern person with basic education (language + math) being told to figure out all of mathematics from scratch! A ludicrous proposal you might say but that's exactly what some people did, are doing, will do.

Compare the above to expertise - advanced knowledge on particular subjects - and we soon realize that this category of folk are simply memorizing stuff and regurgutating it at appropriate times. Learning things by heart is not easy of course but compared to being asked to found a new discipline, it's a walk in the park. Yes, originality is still a requirement but the more one-of-a-kind a person's ideas are, the more ostracism such a person will experience - every expert is kept on tight leash by his peers.

I feel uncomfortable having to make a choice between "what is understood" and "the way in which it is understood" because they go hand in hand in all branches of knowledge but if I were forced to pick one, I'd go with "the way in which it is understood". What can I do? I'm a bit (too) free-spirited for my own good. :grin:
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I feel uncomfortable having to make a choice between "what is understood" and "the way in which it is understood" because they go hand in hand in all branches of knowledge but if I were forced to pick one, I'd go with "the way in which it is understood".

Do you think that there could be such a thing as "transformative knowledge?" They talk about the "Copernican Revolution" which marks the paradigm shift to a heliocentric understanding. To me, that seems like an example where expertise, as you call it, begins to alter the basic nature of our understanding, via the relationship between the individual thinker and the universe.
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Do you think that there could be such a thing as "transformative knowledge?" They talk about the "Copernican Revolution" which marks the paradigm shift to a heliocentric understanding. To me, that seems like an example where expertise, as you call it, begins to alter the basic nature of our understanding, via the relationship between the individual thinker and the universe.

Why not? It doesn't seem like we can craft a reductio ad absurdum from such an assumption. I suppose you're referring to paradigm shifts and I see one on the horizon but not in my lifetime though. I don't know whether I should laugh or cry. I'll do both to cover all the bases :grin: :cry:

Coming to the so-called revolutions, allegedly there were 3:

1. Copernican revolution [earth was demoted to a planet]

2. Darwinian revolution [humans were demoted to apes]

3. I can't, for the life of me, remember

These revolutions seem to be carefully orchestrated by Sophia (goddess of wisdom) to knock humans down from the pedestal to which we had, in our hubristic inanity, raised ourselves to. If this is going to be the trend, I shudder to think what another revolution will bring - are we, perchance, demons?, is earth actually hell? :fear:

A wise man knows when to stop. It's high time we stop this, what is an, investigation. Believe me, we don't wanna do this.
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The Measure of MInd

Is the mind in what is understood, or in the way in which it understands?
Both. Mind is not an object, but a subject; not a thing, but a process. Specifically, processing Meaning. And Meaning is a relationship to Me. What is understood is Memes : units (bytes) of meaning. And the way memes are understood is by connections to other memes (memeplexes ; concepts). So Mind is both the process (thinking),and the stuff processed (data), plus the output (thoughts, meanings, consciousness). So, just as Mind (process) without Brain (processor) is useless, What without the Way is sterile. One without the Other is meaningless. It takes two to tango ; to understand. to know.

Integrated Information Theory (IIT) is an attempt to measure the Mind in terms of Wholeness (Phi). It adds-up the unit parts and computes the degree of interconnectedness. That holistic function of the Brain/Mind complex is Consciousness : the ability to extract personal meaning from inputs of data from the environment. It converts concrete Quanta (physical sensations) into abstract Qualia (meta-physical feelings).

Unfortunately, the Real physical stuff is easy to measure, but to measure the Ideal abstractions would require direct mind-reading. IOW, You would have to be Me. So, at this point in time, the only technology for knowing the world through someone else's eyes, is the old-fashioned method of converting mental abstractions (ideas, concepts) into material metaphors (words, memes). And in order to understand those memes, You would have to imagine what it's like to be Me. Which, as social animals, we do intuitively all the time.

However, Psychology is a formal attempt to rationally reduce those ethereal personal thoughts into realistic generalized meanings that we can all share. It converts private feelings into public symbols of common emotional states. So, it seems that the only way to measure a mind is to transform its hidden contents into conventional representations that all members of our verbal species can relate to. To Under-Stand is to put Your-Self in My position. :cool:

What is it like to be Me? :
Nagel believes reductionism is the most unlikely of all the current philosophical beliefs to shed life on consciousness.
http://www.esalq.usp.br/lepse/imgs/conteudo_thumb/mini/What-is-it-like-to-be-a-bat--2-.pdf

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has a much more comprehensive and accurate understanding than Aristotle

Scientists are just simple minded people that need to see something before they believe it. Because they can't see anything in their minds eye.
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I suppose you're referring to paradigm shifts and I see one on the horizon but not in my lifetime though.
Me too! But, instead of laughing or crying, I try to stay ahead of the curve leading to a civil war in Philosophy and Science. The shift has already begun, and I chronicle some of its tectonic effects in my BothAnd blog. But Rome didn't fall in a day. So I expect the overthrow-of-authority to be long and messy. Although I advocate a Copernican Revolution --- from Materialism and Spiritualism to an Information-Centric worldview --- I don't want to be there when the shooting starts. :joke:

quote from TPF . . . .
Uniting CEMI and Coherence Field Theories of Consciousness :
"The Enformationism thesis is my amateur synopsis of another new paradigm : an "information theoretic" worldview. As one writer put it, this is another "Copernican Revolution" in perspective."
https://thephilosophyforum.com/discussion/comment/622840

Introduction to Enformationism :
http://bothandblog6.enformationism.info/page80.html
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I don't want to be there when the shooting starts.

You wish! Anyway, hope everything turns out the way you want it to. Thanks for the reply.
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Integrated Information Theory (IIT) is an attempt to measure the Mind in terms of Wholeness (Phi). It adds-up the unit parts and computes the degree of interconnectedness. That holistic function of the Brain/Mind complex is Consciousness : the ability to extract personal meaning from inputs of data from the environment. It converts concrete Quanta (physical sensations) into abstract Qualia (meta-physical feelings).

I suppose there's room enough in IIT for a lot of weird conclusions: crystals e.g. by virtue of the "interconnectedness" of their molecules/atoms and the worldwide website, for the same reason, should be considered conscious. :chin:
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I suppose there's room enough in IIT for a lot of weird conclusions: crystals e.g. by virtue of the "interconnectedness" of their molecules/atoms and the worldwide website, for the same reason, should be considered conscious.
Yes. That's why I spend a lot of time on this forum denying that my Enformationism worldview is Mystical or Magical in it's implications. Everything is indeed interconnected by causal links, but not all nodes are causes in themselves, or self-aware. Instead, there is a hierarchy of Enformation organization.

For example, even though I have concluded that EnFormAction is universal in its effects, that doesn't mean that atoms are conscious in the human sense. Atoms and crystals may be "sentient" in the primitive sense of action & reaction, cause & effect. But, in order for anything to be Self-Conscious, it must have internal information feed-back loops, that result in novel outputs & behaviors, instead of just direct pass-thru of energy.

Ironically, the typical human ape-mind seems to automatically jump to human-like intentional interpretations of natural events. For example, a book falling off a shelf, may be attributed to a mischievous ghost, instead of a breeze or gravity. Many people are also overly dramatic & imaginative. It's more interesting, when you hear hoof-beats in Houston, to look for exotic Zebras, instead of mundane Horses. :joke:
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Yes. That's why I spend a lot of time on this forum denying that my Enformationism worldview is Mystical or Magical in it's implications. Everything is indeed interconnected by causal links, but not all nodes are causes in themselves, or self-aware.

Where do you draw the line? How can you tell the difference between an interconnectedness that's conscious and one that isn't? I guess such questions expose the weak spots in IIT.

But, in order for anything to be Self-Conscious, it must have internal information feed-back loops, that result in novel outputs & behaviors, instead of just direct pass-thru of energy.

What are internal information feedback loops? Are you talking about learning? I once commented in another thread that psychologists can never ever construct a theory that explains human behavior because as soon as the word gets out, people will change in ways that'll contradict such a theory (people will learn the whys and hows of their actions and modify their conduct).

History cannot be explained deterministically and it cannot be predicted because it is chaotic. So many forces are at work and their interactions are so complex that extremely small variations in the strength of the forces and the way they interact produce huge differences in outcomes. Not only that, but history is what is called a ‘level two’ chaotic system. Chaotic systems come in two shapes. Level one chaos is chaos that does not react to predictions about it. The weather, for example, is a level one chaotic system. Though it is influenced by myriad factors, we can build computer models that take more and more of them into consideration, and produce better and better weather forecasts.

Level two chaos is chaos that reacts to predictions about it, and therefore can never be predicted accurately. Markets, for example, are a level two chaotic system. What will happen if we develop a computer program that forecasts with 100 per cent accuracy the price of oil tomorrow? The price of oil will immediately react to the forecast, which would consequently fail to materialise. If the current price of oil is $90 a barrel, and the infallible computer program predicts that tomorrow it will be$100, traders will rush to buy oil so that they can profit from the predicted price rise. As a result, the price will shoot up to \$100 a barrel today rather than tomorrow. Then what will happen tomorrow? Nobody knows.

Politics, too, is a second-order chaotic system. Many people criticise Sovietologists for failing to predict the 1989 revolutions and castigate Middle East experts for not anticipating the Arab Spring revolutions of 2011. This is unfair. Revolutions are, by definition, unpredictable. A predictable revolution never erupts.

Why not? Imagine that it’s 2010 and some genius political scientists in cahoots with a computer wizard have developed an infallible algorithm that, incorporated into an attractive interface, can be marketed as a revolution predictor. They offer their services to President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt and, in return for a generous down payment, tell Mubarak that according to their forecasts a revolution would certainly break out in Egypt during the course of the following year. How would Mubarak react? Most likely, he would immediately lower taxes, distribute billions of dollars in handouts to the citizenry – and also beef up his secret police force, just in case. The pre-emptive measures work. The year comes and goes and, surprise, there is no revolution. Mubarak demands his money back. ‘Your algorithm is worthless!’ he shouts at the scientists. ‘In the end I could have built another palace instead of giving all that money away!’ ‘But the reason the revolution didn’t happen is because we predicted it,’ the scientists say in their defence. ‘Prophets who predict things that don’t happen?’ Mubarak remarks as he motions his guards to grab them. ‘I could have picked up a dozen of those for next to nothing in the Cairo marketplace.
— Yuval Noah Harari (Sapiens)

Ironically, the typical human ape-mind seems to automatically jump to human-like intentional interpretations of natural events. For example, a book falling off a shelf, may be attributed to a mischievous ghost, instead of a breeze or gravity. Many people are also overly dramatic & imaginative. It's more interesting, when you hear hoof-beats in Houston, to look for exotic Zebras, instead of mundane Horses. :joke:

:lol: This got me thinking. I'm about 90% confident we're not living in a computer simulation. There are no superheroes, fancy tech, magic, ghouls, werewolves, zombies, etc.; you know, features you find in the most popular video games in the market. Yes, some games are realistic but I don't think they sell as much as the fantasy genre!

By my logic, our ancestors were hardcore gamers!

So yeah, when you hear hoofbeats, think zebra, not unicorn/centaur/pegasus! :grin:
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Where do you draw the line? How can you tell the difference between an interconnectedness that's conscious and one that isn't? I guess such questions expose the weak spots in IIT.
Well, there's no empirical test for consciousness, although IIT was intended to be a step in that direction. So, we draw the line via philosophical inference. We try to establish a baseline from observation of a hierarchy of intelligent behaviors. For example, scientists searching for signs of life or extra-terrestrial intelligence (ETI) make lists of criteria, based on our understanding of terran biology & psychology.

As I noted in the previous post, I look for indicators of feedback loops between inputs and outputs of energy. Life itself is one kind of loop, which makes use of the incoming energy, before it eventually returns the waste, in the form of entropy. And since Entropy has been equated by Shannon with Information, it's also a sign of minimal intelligence. Since we can't draw a hard line between Chimps & Dophins & Robots and Humans, we may have to give them the benefit of the doubt. And to assume that their behavior is consciously directed, with some minimal degree of Self-Consciousness. But the final arbiter may be feelings instead of reasons. :nerd:

What are internal information feedback loops? Are you talking about learning?
Yes, the ability to learn, and to adapt behavior is a sign of Information loops, that use some of the incoming Information (EnFormAction) for the selfish*1 benefit of the organism. Atoms exchange energy and change electron orbits temporarily, but they show no signs of long-term learning. And yes, learning makes those entities somewhat unpredictable. Which is why psychology is not an exact science. :wink:

*1. Selfish, in the Dawkins sense

I'm about 90% confident we're not living in a computer simulation.
I do sometimes use the metaphor of a Computer Simulation to describe how the origin and evolution of our world works, But, I don't take it literally. Gaia, as a self-regulating & self-improving system, works like a goal-driven program in some ways, but the processing is not limited to silicon logic gates. The Operating System was preset by initial conditions, while the Logic was encoded in natural laws, and Natural Selection serves as a high-level logic gate. :cool:

Programmer God :
A competent computer programmer doesn’t have to make frequent corrections to the operation of the program. Likewise, an omniscient Creator shouldn’t have to make special interventions in order to keep the world running properly. A world-wide flood would be a sign of gross incompetence.
http://blog-glossary.enformationism.info/page13.html
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Well, there's no empirical test for consciousness, although IIT was intended to be a step in that direction. So, we draw the line via philosophical inference. We try to establish a baseline from observation of a hierarchy of intelligent behaviors. For example, scientists searching for signs of life or extra-terrestrial intelligence (ETI) make lists of criteria, based on our understanding of terran biology & psychology.

One way could be to attribute consciousness to any network from two nodes onwards. We would then needn't worry about threshold network complexities that divide the conscious from the unconscious; nevertheless, some kind of consciousness scale may need to be devised to account for observable differences in mentation in organisms with a nervous system. I dunno! I'm basically shooting in the dark here.

As I noted in the previous post, I look for indicators of feedback loops between inputs and outputs of energy. Life itself is one kind of loop, which makes use of the incoming energy, before it eventually returns the waste, in the form of entropy. And since Entropy has been equated by Shannon with Information, it's also a sign of minimal intelligence. Since we can't draw a hard line between Chimps & Dophins & Robots and Humans, we may have to give them the benefit of the doubt. And to assume that their behavior is consciously directed, with some minimal degree of Self-Consciousness. But the final arbiter may be feelings instead of reasons. :nerd:

Don't you think feedback loops defined in terms of just energy is too broad a definition for consciousness? Perhaps you're leaving out the details for the sake of simplicity and clarity. If a feeback loop is just that of energy simpliciter then IIT needs to be further refined or else false positives may become an issue.

Yes, the ability to learn, and to adapt behavior is a sign of Information loops, that use some of the incoming Information (EnFormAction) for the selfish*1 benefit of the organism. Atoms exchange energy and change electron orbits temporarily, but they show no signs of long-term learning. And yes, learning makes those entities somewhat unpredictable. Which is why psychology is not an exact science. :wink:

So my point, stated in the previous paragraph, is on the mark. Information then underpins consciousness. I thought IIT was was designed specifically to divorce/delink information from consciousness. Mind you, I'm not sure about this - it's just a vague recollection of an older thread.

do sometimes use the metaphor of a Computer Simulation to describe how the origin and evolution of our world works, But, I don't take it literally. Gaia, as a self-regulating & self-improving system, works like a goal-driven program in some ways, but the processing is not limited to silicon logic gates. The Operating System was preset by initial conditions, while the Logic was encoded in natural laws, and Natural Selection serves as a high-level logic gate. :cool:

Programmer God :
A competent computer programmer doesn’t have to make frequent corrections to the operation of the program. Likewise, an omniscient Creator shouldn’t have to make special interventions in order to keep the world running properly. A world-wide flood would be a sign of gross incompetence.
http://blog-glossary.enformationism.info/page13.html

:up:
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threshold network complexities that divide the conscious from the unconscious;
Perhaps, those complexities (uncertainties) don't really divide Consciousness neatly into Awareness & Nescience, but are merely a foggy phase in a continuum of sensation from rock to rocket scientist. :nerd:

Don't you think feedback loops defined in terms of just energy istoo broad a definition for consciousness?
Of course. It was just a concrete metaphor for something meta-physical. :wink:

Information then underpins consciousness. I thought IIT was was designed specifically to divorce/delink information from consciousness.
I suppose IIT was a reductive attempt to quantify a mushy quality that is otherwise hard to pin down. To arbitrarily divide a Platonic continuum, that has no natural joints to carve. In my view, Generic Information is at one end of the evolutionary hierarchy, and evolved Consciousness is at the other. No gaps in the chain of emergence. :nerd:
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Perhaps, those complexities (uncertainties) don't really divide Consciousness neatly into Awareness & Nescience, but are merely a foggy phase in a continuum of sensation from rock to rocket scientist.

Perhaps.

We have no idea what's going on, do we?

Of course. It was just a concrete metaphor for something meta-physical. :wink:

Then the question is what exactly is it that flows through the posited feedback loops? Unclear!

I suppose IIT was a reductive attempt to quantify a mushy quality that is otherwise hard to pin down. To arbitrarily divide a Platonic continuum, that has no natural joints to carve. In my view, Generic Information is at one end of the evolutionary hierarchy, and evolved Consciousness is at the other. No gaps in the chain of emergence. :nerd:

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