• Enrique
    848
    At these increased scales it's very reasonable to assume that any quantum effects would be completely washed out unless you know of a specific mechanism.Mark Nyquist

    Everything's quantum man! But so-called "quantum effects" so far seem to cancel out at relatively small electromagnetic masses. EM radiation is almost massless though, and it's everywhere, saturating, modulating and modulated by all matter! A detailed knowledge of mechanisms awaits the results of many experiments. Actually read the OPs if you want to really understand where I'm coming from!
  • Gnomon
    2.8k
    Hey you guys, Enrique and Gnomon, off the top of my head a neuron is something like 10 to the 12th power greater in scale that the atomic level so what mechanism are you talking about other than a vague reference to nanotubes. And why not just the normal functioning of neurons in the classical sense?Mark Nyquist
    Ha! You got me. I'm in over my head as a layman discussing nano & neuro stuff, that's usually reserved for professionals --- except on amateur philosophy forums. Presumably, Enrique has more depth of knowledge in such matters. FWIW, my proposed explanation involves a fundamental element that has no physical scale : Information/Energy.

    Elsewhere on this forum, I discuss my own information-based hypothesis of how consciousness could emerge from matter. It's a general philosophical thesis, not a settled scientific theory. So, in this thread, I'm just asking dumb questions, in hopes of stimulating Enrique to develop his hypothesis into a complete theory that will withstand the criticism of Consciousness researchers. For example, Roger Penrose is a certified genius, but he has not yet convinced his critics that macro-scaled microtubules have something to do with Consciousness. This exercise in looking at someone else's theorizing helps me to see my own ideas in a different light (pardon the pun). :smile:


    Woo-monger or Genius? :
    "Conventional wisdom goes something like this: The theory is almost certainly wrong, but Penrose is brilliant."
    https://nautil.us/roger-penrose-on-why-consciousness-does-not-compute-236591/
  • Mark Nyquist
    370
    Enrique, I think my issue with you is an inability to grasp that brains
    have the ability to grasp the non-physical...Take something from nothing and through process of brain and muscle turn the non-physocal into physical form.
  • Enrique
    848


    The "nonphysical" is just a way of experiencing and describing matter in terms of noncorporeal concepts, an evolutionary adaptation that is in reality an illusion. Perhaps you disagree with me about this.
  • Gnomon
    2.8k
    ↪Gnomon
    Okay, don't take me too seriously.
    Mark Nyquist
    Don't worry, I don't take myself too seriously.
    Why does the turkey say "gobbledy google"? I don't know, why don't you Google it? :joke:
  • Mark Nyquist
    370
    I am repeating myself, but the non-physical does not exist. So I do not disagree. What does exist are our brains that have the capacity to deal in the non- physical.

    What do you think of the idea that brains can configure physically to represent things that do not physically exist?
  • Enrique
    848
    What do you think of the idea that brains can configure physically to represent things that do not physically exist?Mark Nyquist

    Those concepts don't physically exist except as a configuration of matter generated in consort with our minds, so I agree. I don't find this particularly mysterious. Everything our minds do has some basis in matter, even if this matter is currently beyond scientific models.
  • Mark Nyquist
    370
    Don't know where you are in the world but I'm in the USA and it's Thanksgiving holiday here and I had a good day and few glasses of wine and ...lost my good manners so that's the situation.
  • Enrique
    848
    An Enformationist, panprotopsychist and nonphysicalist...lol
  • Mark Nyquist
    370
    "Touche" but I'm not French, I'm Swedish.
  • Enrique
    848


    Alas, I was firmly rejected by my Romulan brethren, but have found a niche in quantum neuroscience so they still put up with me some lol
  • Gnomon
    2.8k
    I am repeating myself, but the non-physical does not exist. So I do not disagree. What does exist are our brains that have the capacity to deal in the non- physical.

    What do you think of the idea that brains can configure physically to represent things that do not physically exist?
    Mark Nyquist
    It's true that meta-physical ideas do not exist, as far as our physical senses are concerned. But our brains are "configured" to conform with the logical (mathematical) structure of the universe. That's why I view human Reason as the sixth sense. It can "see" (imagine) invisible links (relationships) between things, as in Geometry.

    "Reason" is both a noun and a verb : a non-physical power/ability (to systematize groups of ideas) and the action of linking independent sensations into holistic concepts. Physics is concerned with "How?", but Meta-Physics seeks to answer "Why?" Reason converts physical sensations into meta-physical meaning. It's the search for invisible Causes to explain observed effects. :smile:

    Object : a material thing that can be seen and touched.

    Idea : an immaterial thing that cannot be seen by the physical senses.

    Hume argues that we cannot conceive of any other connection between cause and effect, because there simply is no other impression to which our idea may be traced. This certitude is all that remains. For Hume, the necessary connection invoked by causation is nothing more than this certainty. . . . Causation is a relation between objects that we employ in our reasoning in order to yield less than demonstrative knowledge of the world beyond our immediate impressions.
    https://iep.utm.edu/hume-causation/
    Note -- Causation is not empirical, but it is rational.
  • Edmund
    33
    Penrose and Hamerof see conciousness as emerging from quantum activity of micro tubules in the brain.
  • Mark Nyquist
    370
    I am reading your OP for background. The Roger Penrose books were out thirty years ago and I have them so I might dust them off. Also I Googled some of this and now articles are showing up on my Google news.

    I'm still on the classical side but maybe looking at the quantum side... don't know yet.

    Whether neurons or micro tubules or both produce consciousness, I still think the role of mental content is part of it. Since we deal with things based on a buildup of past experiences and our current beliefs are held as mental content and we study this with our minds then our minds should be included. This can be entirely materialistically based with our minds emerging as a special case of physical matter.

    And we do have direct access to our minds so we can test the role of mental content in decision making, model building, thought processes, etc.
  • Mark Nyquist
    370
    The fact that we have memories of the past is evidence for mental content being a component of consciousness. Neither neurons or micro tubules would have a physical connection to past states of matter.
  • Edmund
    33
    You may find the link above interesting. Consciousness continues to perplex. I still find Ryle's category mistake idea challenging and the sense in which consciousness can seem trapped in a loop of self verification
  • Gnomon
    2.8k
    Enrique, I think my issue with you is an inability to grasp that brains
    have the ability to grasp the non-physical....
    Mark Nyquist
    The "nonphysical" is just a way of experiencing and describing matter in terms of noncorporeal concepts, an evolutionary adaptation that is in reality an illusion. Perhaps you disagree with me about this.Enrique
    This sounds like another case of differently-defined terminology. Nyquist seems to include concepts known only by Reason -- such as mathematical fields -- in the noumenal category of Non-Physical. Yet, theoretical physicists tend to treat Quantum Fields & Virtual Particles as-if (counterfactual) they are real, even though they cannot be detected by the 5 senses. As long as their abstract (un-real) equations work-out they are satisfied. But laymen could be excused for thinking those undetectable fields are no more real than imaginary ghosts.

    However, another way to look at Matter-vs-Mind or physical-vs-non-physical questions may be to think in terms of Classical vs Quantum science. Most sub-atomic-scale "mechanisms" have defied attempts to define their cause/effect sequences in traditional Classical terms. That's why QM now assumes that the fundamental element of reality is non-local intangible continuous Mathematical (metaphysical) Fields of dimensionless Points, instead of local reductive Material (physical) Particles of measurable size.

    Those cloud-like Fields of geometry are literally Non-Corporeal. And they are Non-Physical, in the sense that dimensionless Virtual (potential) Particles have no physical interactions until they become Real (actual) Particles. So, they could also be defined as Non-Physical in the sense that they are hypothetical and un-measurable until the field is "collapsed" into detectable objects. So, which is the "illusion" : the invisible fields presumably permeating the Physical (real) world, or the non-physical objects of Mind (thoughts) that pervade the Cultural (ideal) world? :smile:

    Physical : relating to things perceived through the senses as opposed to the mind; tangible or concrete.

    Virtual Particles: What are they? :
    A virtual particle is not a particle at all. It refers precisely to a disturbance in a field that is not a particle. . . . A “virtual particle”, generally, is a disturbance in a field that will never be found on its own, but instead is something that is caused by the presence of other particles, often of other fields.
    https://profmattstrassler.com/articles-and-posts/particle-physics-basics/virtual-particles-what-are-they/

    This Is Why Quantum Field Theory Is More Fundamental Than Quantum Mechanics :
    The idea of an objective reality went out the window, replaced with notions like:
    ***probability distributions rather than predictable outcomes,
    *** wavefunctions rather than positions and momenta,
    ***Heisenberg uncertainty relations rather than individual properties.

    https://www.forbes.com/sites/startswithabang/2019/04/25/this-is-why-quantum-field-theory-is-more-fundamental-than-quantum-mechanics/?sh=3ecb76912083

    I'm not sure if Enrique's theory is based on classical Maxwellian Electromagnetic Fields or on quantum ElectroDynamic Fields. But some Consciousness theorists have given-up on macro-scale fields, and are focused on quantum-scale functions. The link below may shine some light in that direction. :smile:

    Consciousness relies on quantum entanglement :
    Seeing entanglement in the brain may show that the brain is not classical, as previously thought, but rather a powerful quantum system. If the results can be confirmed, they could provide some indication that the brain uses quantum processes. This could begin to shed light on how our brain performs the powerful computations it does, and how it manages consciousness.
    https://bigthink.com/hard-science/brain-consciousness-quantum-entanglement/
  • 180 Proof
    11k
    So how does non-physical A affect physical B and yet remain discernibly non-physical? 'The physical world' as such is not causally closed? 'Conservation laws' do not obtain? 'Modern physics' doesn't explain what actually is going on (and if not, what accounts for us communicating via this electronic medium)?
  • Gnomon
    2.8k
    Since we deal with things based on a buildup of past experiences and our current beliefs are held as mental content and we study this with our minds then our minds should be included. This can be entirely materialistically based with our minds emerging as a special case of physical matter.Mark Nyquist
    Reductive Classical Science had no place for mental "beliefs", thoughts or ideas. Instead, scientists focused on the "physical foundations of consciousness", such as neurons. Which left open a question opposite to the one asked above : "how does physical B affect non-physical A ?" And that's an example of the "hard problem of consciousness, which puzzles philosophers, and merely annoys materialists. How can physical mechanisms (neurons) produce non-physical mental processes? Mind is not known by observation, but by introspection and projection.

    Any attempt to explain how Conscious Thoughts & Beliefs arise from neural foundations will founder on Hume's quandary of Causation*1 : which comes first, the physical mechanism or the mind that conceptualizes the invisible connection? Even if minuscule tubules have something to do with consciousness, how does the causal process leap from physical A to non-physical B? Yet 180 may have implicitly answered his own question : "yet remain separately non-physical". My own proposal is based on the understanding that Mind & Matter are separate only in our Reductive worldviews. From a Holistic perspective*2, the fundamental substance of both Mind & Matter is Generic Information, of which Energy is one form.

    In the Enformationism thesis, Generic Information (EnFormAction) is the essential factor of Causation : the power to cause changes in form. In the vocabulary of Plato & Aristotle, Form is the logical structure of a thing. It's what makes a thing unique (its essence). A macro-scale tubule has both physical structure (cylinder of tubulin proteins), and a meta-physical structure in the geometry (inter-relationships) of its component parts. They are presumed to have a physical structural function (support beams) in the Brain. But their meta-physical function (thoughts & beliefs) in the Mind remains hypothetical.

    Therefore, instead of looking for a physical structure of Mind, I propose that mental functions, like all coherent directional processes, arise from the Holistic interaction*3 of all parts. Consciousness is not found in any subordinate parts of the system. Like all complex functions, it emerges from coordinated operation of the components. So, as you implied, Consciousness is not separate & apart, but an emergent function, as a "special case" of general Information. :smile:


    *1. Hume Causation :
    A CAUSE is an object precedent and contiguous to another, and so united with it, that the idea, of the one determines the mind to form the idea of the other, and the impression of the one to form a more lively idea of the other.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Humean_definition_of_causality

    *2. I just discovered via Google that there is an academic theory of "holistic interactionism", proposed to explain the Nature-Nurture conundrum. I'm not familiar with its tenets, but the name sounds like it could be applied to the Enformationism thesis. *3

    *3. Nature, Nurture, and the Folly of “Holistic Interactionism.” :
    Equally untenable for the author is the now-popular academic doctrine he dubs “holistic interactionism” (HI). Carrying a “veneer of moderation [and] conceptual sophistication,” says Pinker, HI is based on a few “unexceptional points,” including the facts that nature and nurture are not mutually exclusive and that genes cannot cause behavior directly. ___Kenneth Krause
    https://thedotingskeptic.wordpress.com/2015/10/27/nature-nurture-and-the-folly-of-holistic-interactionism/
    Note -- 180proof might give this article a thumbs-up, because it is skeptical of Holism and Mentalism. I would agree that Genes, as physical containers for Information, do not directly cause mental phenomena. Yet, Memes are non-physical carriers of Meaning. And, somehow the physical embodiment of information, as part of a complex system, seems to result in the meta-physical expression of the human person as a holistic Self : an Opinion.

    Meme : an element of a culture or system of behavior that may be considered to be passed from one individual to another by nongenetic means, especially imitation.
  • 180 Proof
    11k
    Again, how does non-physical A affect physical B and yet remain discernibly non-physical?
  • Gnomon
    2.8k
    Those concepts don't physically exist except as a configuration of matter generated in consort with our minds, so I agree. I don't find this particularly mysterious. Everything our minds do has some basis in matter, even if this matter is currently beyond scientific models.Enrique
    From the perspective of Enformationism, I would say that the "configuration of matter" is its Logical Structure. Most people interpret the word "structure" in terms of physical objects, such as steel beams or protein tubules. But engineers distinguish their mathematical structures from those physical objects in terms of logic diagrams (vectors of force & direction)*1. The vectors themselves are merely symbols, which are mental Qualia (representations), not actual objects with physical properties. So, in that sense, I would agree that mental concepts result from the logical configuration*2 of their material substrate, as a Holistic system. And that's why the relationship between Matter & Mind remains beyond the scope of Reductive models. :smile:

    *1. Form as a Logical Structure :
    https://www.sensesatlas.com/research/form-as-logical-structure/

    *2. Structural qualia: a solution to the hard problem of consciousness :
    The hard problem of consciousness has been often claimed to be unsolvable by the methods of traditional empirical sciences. It has been argued that all the objects of empirical sciences can be fully analyzed in structural terms but that consciousness is (or has) something over and above its structure. However, modern neuroscience has introduced a theoretical framework in which also the apparently non-structural aspects of consciousness, namely the so called qualia or qualitative properties, can be analyzed in structural terms.
    https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00237/full

    continues to challenge the "hard problem" by asking for reductive scientific evidence. Apparently, he wants to see a step-by-step mechanism connecting "discernibly physical" Neurons with imaginary Ideas & Thoughts -- that remain imperceptibly non-physical. It would be nice though, if Neuroscience could come-up with such a deterministic sequence. However, while we wait for empirical evidence to fill-in the gaps between physical processes and non-physical consciousness, my philosophical thesis suggests that the "gap" is similar to ordinary physical Phase Transitions*3 that connect one kind of thing with another (different physical properties). But even the "critical" steps in-between mundane water & ice remain elusive for Physicists. So, maybe the Psychologists behind the link below are on the right track : redefining the problem in terms of Qualia in the form of Logical Structure and Phase Space*4. :nerd:

    *3, The Phase Diagram of Water :
    Four lines cannot meet at a single point. A 'critical point' is where the properties of two phases become indistinguishable from each other. The phase diagram of water is complex, having a number of triple points and one or possibly two critical points.
    https://ergodic.ugr.es/termo/lecciones/water1.html

    *4. Dimensions of consciousness :
    In a previous article, we hypothesized that consciousness might be related to phase space, a mathematical construct where the geometry of dynamic systems takes place. We conjectured that complex neural function developed within a framework of mathematics just as bones developed around the demands of gravity, that objects in physical space are translated into perceptual space within phase space.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1201004/
  • 180 Proof
    11k
    continues to dodge a straight-forward direct question of this Cartesian assumption
    However, another way to look at Matter-vs-Mind or physical-vs-non-physical [ ... ] in terms of Classical vs Quantum science.Gnomon
    apparently because, as usual, he's just making shit up or limited by poor reasoning. Prove this is not the case, sir, by answering: How does non-physical A affect physical B and yet remain discernibly non-physical?

    At least, "I don't know" would be honest. :gasp:
  • Mark Nyquist
    370
    I started using the term non-physical last week and what I mean is if you see a rock then your brain holds the rock as mental content. If you need four rocks for a project, the rocks may or may not exist but you can manipulate the idea of rocks in your brain. You should be able to identify an entire physical process in your relation to rocks. Sight, touch, mental process, decision making, muscle control.

    As for communication, if you say brain state is the physical brain with mental content then content is encoded to physical matter, passed to another person as physical matter, and decoded by that person to get mental content.

    It should be easier to get closer to what consciousness is if you get information, communication, time perception and theories of physical matter right first. You should also do your best on the monism, dualism question. I just like the idea that mental content emerges from the physical matter of biological brains.
  • RogueAI
    1.2k
    I too wonder how the immaterial can interact with the material. What is your response if the theist who believes in souls interacting with bodies shrugs and says "God makes the interaction possible. Somehow."? Is the immaterial interacting with material even logically possible, though?
  • 180 Proof
    11k
    My response would be ... Back in the 17th Century CE, Malebranche et al tried that with occasionalism and Occam's Razor made quick work of that bit of question-begging ad hockery (pace Berkeley & Leibniz redux); also, Spinoza showed that 'substance dualism', the basis of Descartes' MBP, is logically and conceptually incoherent (re: Ethics, section I "Of God") thereby dissolving the 'interaction problem' (i.e. property dualism ... neutral / anomalous monism ... etc). No need to even bother with a scientific objection to 'immaterial-material interactivity' which, as I discern the issue, is a conceptual non-starter.
  • Gnomon
    2.8k
    ↪180 Proof
    I too wonder how the immaterial can interact with the material. What is your response if the theist who believes in souls interacting with bodies shrugs and says "God makes the interaction possible. Somehow."? Is the immaterial interacting with material even logically possible, though?
    RogueAI
    Before attempting to give a "how" answer to such querulous Matter/Mind questions, I would first ask IF the presumed interaction actually occurs. Does the material Brain mechanically produce the phenomena we know as Consciousness. If so, the product should also be physical, and the "how" should be obvious to physicists. If not, then per Descartes' dualism, Consciousness is independent of material substrate --- and the how question is irrelevant, except for philosophers. Or perhaps Mind & Matter are simply different forms of the same shape-shifting Substance : the power to enform.

    Next, if there is a Cause & Effect relationship, is the effect or product --- Ideas, Thoughts, Meanings, Feelings --- some kind of material substance, reducible to atoms of Mind? If not, then we have established that material stuff can indeed interact with immaterial stuff, but how?. If Consciousness is instead a semi-physical phenomenon, is it empirically perceptible by senses or instruments? Remember, EEG & MRI squiggles & blobs only detect energy pulses (dots & dashes), not meanings. But immaterial Ideas are essentially logical patterns : coded Information. Is Consciousness then merely a decoded message, from some occult Sender, with a secret code-book?

    If we have decided that Consciousness (awareness ; knowing) is not a physical phenomenon, made of atoms or quarks, we must change the "how" question to allow something more (as in Holism) than merely mechanical transfers of mindless energy to material objects. Instead, we must determine at what point deterministic causation becomes an intentional act : a coded message. In this thread, I have presented a brief synopsis of my extensive Information-theoretic thesis, intended to explain how a physical process can result in meta-physical (non-physical) outputs. But to condense a long complex argument : the ultimate point of beginning of Consciousness is at the beginning --- the emergence of space-time from nowhere-nowhen. Physically at Initial Conditions, metaphysically at the First Cause.

    By that I mean, the potential for Mind has been inherent in Energy/Matter/Information from the Big Bang beginning. From a Reductive-Materialist perspective that won't make sense. But from a Holistic Information-theoretic worldview it is logical necessity. If so, then Mind is not a local product of brain mechanisms, but of ultimate Singularity coding. :smile:

    PS__No, I'm not implying that G*D put thoughts in your mind --- merely the potential for thoughts, that you purposefully orchestrate into personal meanings.


    How the Mind Emerges from the Brain’s Complex Networks :
    The new discipline of network neuroscience yields a picture of how mental activity arises from carefully orchestrated interactions among different brain areas
    https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-the-mind-emerges-from-the-brains-complex-networks/
    Note -- do the physical instruments comprise an orchestra, or does the design intent of the conductor, transform tune-up dissonance into symphonic harmony?

    To orchestrate :
    1. To orchestrate is to design or organize something, like a plan or a project. You could orchestrate an orchestra or you could just orchestrate a yard sale.
    2. arrange or direct the elements of (a situation) to produce a desired effect, especially surreptitiously.

    Note -- Can matter be intentional : to design or produce desired effects. Can matter envision a future composition? If not, where does the Intention come from?

    Intention : noun. an act or instance of determining mentally upon some action or result. the end or object intended; purpose. intentions, purpose or attitude toward the effect of one's actions or conduct:
  • Agent Smith
    9.2k
    Ex mea (humble) sententia, let the facts speak for themselves. It can't be denied that when one is (sensu amplissimo) thinking, there's electrical activity in the brain.
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