• Dfpolis
    1.3k
    I recently published an article with the above title (https://jcer.com/index.php/jcj/article/view/1042/1035). Here is the abstract:

    The assumption that all behavior is ultimately neurophysical may be called the Standard Model (SM) of neurophilosophy. Yet, in the years since David Chalmers distinguished the Hard Problem of Consciousness from the easy problems of neuroscience, no progress has been made toward a physical reduction of consciousness. This, together with collateral shortcomings Chalmers missed, show that the SM is inadequate to experience. I outline the logical prerequisites for reduction and show that they are missing from the SM. Their absence is traced to representational problems implicit in: (1) The Fundamental Abstraction of natural science (attending to the object to the exclusion of the subject); and (2) The limits of a Cartesian conceptual space. Adding pre-Cartesian concepts allows us to construct an integrated representation bridging the dualistic gap. In particular, Aristotle’s projection of mind provides a paradigm integrating intentional and physical operations.D. F. Polis

    The article rejects dualism as a framework, qualia as essential to consciousness, actual information in computers, and the reduction of biology to physics. It also clarifies the concept of emergence.

    I invite comments pro and con.
  • Paine
    1.9k

    An excellent essay. The contrasts made between Aristotelian and Cartesian points of view are particularly appreciated. I will try responding after mulling it over.
  • RogueAI
    2.3k
    "Computer states signify only because humans endow them with
    meaning."

    I agree with this. I also think you can replace "computer" with "brain" and still have a true sentence. There is no meaning in a universe without consciousness.

    "So, it is equivocating to say that both computers and minds process ‘information.’"

    I agree with this too. A computer is simply a collection of electronic switches. There is no information being processed unless a mind is there to interpret the switching operations.
  • Mark Nyquist
    727

    Are you saying mind is separate from brain or a relation of brain -> mind -> information?

    Why not computer -> mind -> information?

    Try stating what you disagree with and not agree then add an addendum because that confuses the issues especially when Dfpolis is just starting a new post.
  • Fooloso4
    5.3k
    On page 6 you ask:

    Does the Hard Problem reflect a failure of the reductive paradigm?

    and answer in the affirmative:

    Reductionism assumes that to know the parts is, implicitly, to know the whole, but Aristotle showed in Topics IV, 13 that the whole is not the sum of its parts, for building materials are not a house.

    How well do we know the parts? Although a heap of building materials is not self organizing, matter might be. If so then to have sufficient knowledge of the parts is know the ways in which they can form higher orders of organization, including organisms that are conscious.

    While I agree with the importance of understanding things as natural wholes, this leaves open the question of how do these wholes come to be? It is one thing to argue that there has always been something, it is quite another to argue that there has always been wholes such as human beings.

    Declaring the failure of reductionism seems premature. Explanations of why "you can't get there from here" are common and occur before it becomes clear how to get there from here.
  • frank
    14.5k
    Declaring the failure of reductionism seems premature.Fooloso4

    Could be. I think the prevailing view in philosophy of mind is non-reductive physicalism due to multiple realizability (there's no way to match up x-mental state to y-physical state).
  • Banno
    22.9k
    Explanations of why "you can't get there from here" are common and occur before it becomes clear how to get there from here.Fooloso4

    Yep. It's too early to claim that the "Standard Model" fails.

    In addition, going back to Aristotle doesn't look much like a way forward.

    Consider forming a judgement, one of Churchland’s propositional attitudes. If we are aware of feeling a stone, we can abstract the concept <hard>. Then, being aware that the identical object elicits both <the stone> and <hard>, we link these concepts to judge <the stone is hard>, giving propositional knowledge. The copula, <is>, betokens identity – not between subject and predicate, but of their common source. Indeed, ‘a is b’ is unjustified if a is not identically an object which elicits <b>. This judgement requires the power to actualize intelligibility – first in becoming aware of the stone in an inchoate way (tode ti = this something), and then in abstracting a physically inseparable property. Thus, abandoning the Fundamental Abstraction allows us to explain phenomena beyond the scope of the SM

    "The rock is hard" is not an identity. It's not "Rock = hard". Nor "Rock ≡ Hard". Both are malformed. This is made very clear in parsing such sentences in first order logic. Aristotelian logic is not up to the task. Reverting to an inadequate logic is not a step forward.

    If I've understood the article aright, the mooted failure of the "Standard Model" supposedly can only be remedied by a return to Aristotelian concepts of the mind.

    While the "Cartesian conceptual space" may be inadequate, there are alternatives to a reversion to an "Aristotelian" conceptual space.
  • Wolfgang
    55

    Qualia and reductionism
    The problem can be solved quite simply by
    1. Depicting the difference between life and inanimate nature
    2. Realize that subjective experience from the first person perspective cannot be scientifically investigated
    To 1. Life is already a structural concept and life is structure in that it can only be explained by the interaction of 'dead' building blocks. When we speak of life, we mean a system and not individual elements, because life is not represented in any single element.
    However, physics only describes 'dead' matter, i.e. individual elements, so it cannot describe life with its rules. Trying to reduce life to physics must therefore fail. This applies not only to life in general, but to all expressions of life, including consciousness. Consciousness is a property of the individual, more precisely, of the brain.
    Biologically, consciousness can be described as the orientation performance of a (central nervous) living being.
    So whoever tries to explain consciousness physically commits a category error.
    To 2. Consciousness is thinking and feeling, in general: experiencing. You can observe and measure this from the outside, you can experience it from the inside. But this experience is subjective. Nobody can feel my pain, it's my own pain and therefore you can't objectify it except by means of statistical correlations, but that's something completely different.
    Conclusion: the hard problem of consciousness is a chimera! See: dr-stegemann.de
  • Fooloso4
    5.3k


    One question that guides my admittedly ignorant thoughts on these matters is what is to be accepted as basic. Chalmers accepts consciousness as fundamental and universal.

    It strikes me as "consciousness of the gaps". Perhaps inspired by a misunderstanding of the London Underground's message "mind the gaps".
  • frank
    14.5k

    Chalmers doesn't endorse any particular theory of consciousness.
  • Fooloso4
    5.3k
    ...a return to Aristotelian concepts of the mind.Banno

    The intelligible order, the order of Mind, intelligible to the mind of man.
  • Dfpolis
    1.3k
    An excellent essay.Paine
    Thank you. I look forward to your further comments.

    I agree with this too.RogueAI
    I am glad we are of like mind.

    Although a heap of building materials is not self organizing, matter might be. If so then to have sufficient knowledge of the parts is know the ways in which they can form higher orders of organization, including organisms that are conscious.Fooloso4
    I see some problems here. First, matter is not self-organizing. It is organized by laws of nature, which are logically distinct from the matter whose time-development they control. Those laws are immaterial, for it is a category error to ask what they are made of. Second, knowing what matter can become is insufficient to say what it will or does become. The matter that composed the primordial soup could become a brain, but that does not mean that it will, any more than a pile of building materials will become a Swiss Chalet. Finally, even if we could predict which atoms of the primordial soup will come to compose my brain, that does not reduce consciousness to a physical basis. As I note in the article, physics has no intentional effects, and consciousness is the actualization of intelligibility -- which is an intentional operation.

    it is quite another to argue that there has always been wholes such as human beings.Fooloso4
    I do not argue or believe that.

    Declaring the failure of reductionism seems premature. Explanations of why "you can't get there from here" are common and occur before it becomes clear how to get there from here.Fooloso4
    I did not just "declare" the failure of reductionism. I showed why it must fail -- first in biology, where physicists (I am one) ignore the very data that biologists (such as my brother) study, and second in the intentional realm, where we do the same thing. If you think I am wrong, it would be helpful to say why my arguments fail. I am not proposing that you accept my views on faith.

    Also, I how long do we need to wait before it is not "premature" to say reductionism fails? Materialists have been around for about 2500 years and have yet to devise a viable theory of mind.

    It's too early to claim that the "Standard Model" fails.Banno
    Then you should be able to use it to outline how consciousness can be both causally impotent, and reported by those who experience it. Didn't the causal efficacy of Jupiter's moons play an essential role in Galileo's reports of them?

    "The rock is hard" is not an identity. It's not "Rock = hard". Nor "Rock ≡ Hard".Banno
    I suggest you reread the text. "The copula, <is>, betokens identity – not between subject and predicate, but of their common source. Indeed, ‘a is b’ is unjustified if a is not identically an object which elicits <b>."

    If I've understood the article aright, the mooted failure of the "Standard Model" supposedly can only be remedied by a return to Aristotelian concepts of the mind.Banno
    I would not dare say "only." There may well be other approaches, but I have yet to find one in ancient or modern authors, and I have read many of all persuasions. I only say that it can be so remedied.

    2. Realize that subjective experience from the first person perspective cannot be scientifically investigatedWolfgang
    Why would you say that? Can't we type-replicate introspective reports to reach general conclusions, as we type-replicate any other kind of observation?

    Consciousness is a property of the individual, more precisely, of the brain.Wolfgang
    Consciousness is not physical in the sense that the objects studied by physics are. It cannot be defined using concepts such as mass, energy, momentum, charge, and extension. While we can say that thought depends on the brain, that does not mean that it is a property of the brain. Thought also depends on adequate blood flow and respiration, but it is not a property of the heart or lungs. So, dependence of y on x does not make y a property of x.

    Biologically, consciousness can be described as the orientation performance of a (central nervous) living being.Wolfgang
    That would be what I call "medical consciousness." It is not what my article is about. I am discussing the subjective awareness -- that which makes the merely intelligible actually understood.

    So whoever tries to explain consciousness physically commits a category error. ... Conclusion: the hard problem of consciousness is a chimera!Wolfgang
    We agree.

    Chalmers accepts consciousness as fundamental and universal.Fooloso4
    That is not my position.
  • Banno
    22.9k
    I suggest you reread the text.Dfpolis
    That doesn't seem to help. "the rock is hard" sure looks like a predication, despite your protests to the contrary.

    The upshot is that your reversion to Aristotelian logic looks like a devolution. But go for it, if you think it helps.
  • Dfpolis
    1.3k
    "the rock is hard" sure looks like a predicationBanno
    I am not denying that it is a predication, only your reading of what is identical.
  • Banno
    22.9k
    Ok. So what is "identical"?

    Aristotelian logic failed to clearly differentiate "=", ≡ " and the "is" of predication. Returning to those ambiguities is not a step forward.

    Doubtless I am wrong that this is what you are doing; but thats what I gleaned from what you wrote.

    Correct me.
  • Dfpolis
    1.3k
    So what is "identical"?Banno
    The source of the concepts <This rock> and <hard>.
  • Fooloso4
    5.3k
    It is organized by laws of natureDfpolis

    Are you claiming that those laws are not simply descriptive? That matter is somehow made to conform to laws that exist prior to and independent of it?

    ... knowing what matter can become is insufficient to say what it will or does become.Dfpolis

    I agree, but it does not become whatever it becomes haphazardly and randomly. The insufficiency is on our part. That does not mean that we will never know. No doubt AI will help make up for our deficiencies.

    Finally, even if we could predict which atoms of the primordial soup will come to compose my brain, that does not reduce consciousness to a physical basisDfpolis

    Neither does it rule out the possibility that the physical system has the capability for consciousness. It does not mean that something is missing and must be added on.
  • Dfpolis
    1.3k
    Are you claiming that those laws are not simply descriptive? That matter is somehow made to conform to laws that exist prior to and independent of it?Fooloso4
    If there were no laws of nature in reality to describe, then the descriptions of physics (call them "the laws of physics") would be fictions. Further, the laws are not invented, but discovered, and you cannot discover what does not exist.

    As for priority, there can be no actual laws without matter for them to operate on, and matter would be formless without laws to specify its forms. So, they have to be concurrent.

    it does not become whatever it becomes haphazardly and randomly.Fooloso4
    We agree. It is informed by the laws of nature.

    Neither does it rule out the possibility that the physical system has the capability for consciousness.Fooloso4

    Obviously, whole humans are normally conscious beings, and they are physical. Still, the concept <physical> is an abstraction, and generally what is abstracted away is intentional reality. So, the question is: does your concept <physical> contain intentional notes of comprehension? In other words, when you say "physical" do you mean to include intentional realities such as knowing, willing, hoping, etc.? As "physical" is used in the context of physics, intentional realities are excluded. That is what I meant when I wrote that physics has no intentional effects. Since human life includes such realities, "physical" does not exhaust human nature. So, we are more than "physical" in this sense.

    So, to say that a purely "physical" system can preform intentional operations, you have to redefine "physical." If you do not, you are equivocating.
  • Fooloso4
    5.3k
    Chalmers doesn't endorse any particular theory of consciousness.frank

    If you mean he declares it true then you are right, but he does endorse it in the sense of give support to it.

    From his article The Puzzle of Conscious Experience:

    Toward this end, I propose that conscious experience be considered a fundamental feature, irreducible to anything more basic.

    And from the paper cited above:

    For present purposes, the relevant sorts of mental states are conscious experiences. I will
    understand panpsychism as the thesis that some fundamental physical entities are conscious: that
    is, that there is something it is like to be a quark or a photon or a member of some other
    fundamental physical type.(1)

    In this article I will present an argument for panpsychism. Like most philosophical
    arguments, this argument is not entirely conclusive, but I think it gives reason to take the view
    seriously. Speaking for myself, I am by no means confident that panpsychism is true, but I am
    also not confident that it is not true. This article presents what I take to be perhaps the best
    reason for believing panpsychism. A companion article, “The Combination Problem for
    Panpsychism”, presents what I take to be the best reason for disbelieving panpsychism.
  • Banno
    22.9k
    The source of the concepts <This rock> and <hard>.Dfpolis

    So you want to say something like that the source of the concept "the rock is hard" is not a predication but an identity?

    That seems to me to be just the sort of thing that too great a reliance on Aristotelian logic would involve.

    You want to claim that the source of the concepts "hard" and "this rock" are identical. But being a rock and being hard are not the very same things, not like 1+1 is the very same thing as 2, or like Tully is the very same thing as Cicero.

    Nor is it at all clear what the source of a concept might be. Concepts are sometimes erroneously conceived of as mental furniture, as things inside the mind to be pushed around, repositioned in different arrangements. Concepts are sometimes better understood as abilities than as abstract objects. There then need be no discreet concept of "hard" situated somewhere in the mind, or in the brain, but instead a propensity to certain outputs from a neural net, which includes the construction of certain sentences such as "this rock is hard" - along connectionist lines.

    Indeed, I'll offer connectionist models of representation as far superior to a regression to Aristotelian models.
  • frank
    14.5k
    If you mean he declares it true then you are right, but he does endorse it in the sense of give support to it.Fooloso4

    He's arguing that it should be on the table in our quest for a theory of consciousness. He has also praised Dennett's ingenuity as the type of creative mindset we'll need to begin creating a theory. In other words, he doesn't think there is any viable theory of consciousness at this time. Therefore, there is none to endorse.

    Toward this end, I propose that conscious experience be considered a fundamental feature, irreducible to anything more basic.

    Yes. Again, this is what he thinks is required in order to lay the groundwork for a theory of consciousness. It isn't a theory in itself. You've misunderstood his intent if you thought so.
  • Fooloso4
    5.3k
    If there were no laws of nature in reality to describe, then the descriptions of physics (call them "the laws of physics") would be fictions.Dfpolis

    Surely you know that some physicists hold that the laws are the descriptions of the behavior of matter.

    In other words, when you say "physical" do you mean to include intentional realities such as knowing, willing, hoping, etc.? As "physical" is used in the context of physics, intentional realities are excluded.Dfpolis

    When I say physical I mean that consciousness is not given to or added on to beings that are conscious. They are physical beings that have developed the capacities of knowing, willing, hoping, etc.

    So, to say that a purely "physical" system can preform intentional operations, you have to redefine "physical."Dfpolis

    I have but you rejected it. The theory is that matter is self-organizing. At higher levels of organization capacities that were not present at lower levels emerge.
  • Fooloso4
    5.3k


    Right, he does not have a scientific theory, that is, one that has stood the test of time.

    In his own words:

    I present an argument for panpsychism: the thesis that everything is conscious, or at least that fundamental physical entities are conscious
    .
  • frank
    14.5k
    Right, he does not have a scientific theory, that is, one that has stood the test of time.Fooloso4

    He's never proposed to have a scientific theory of consciousness. One would have to be almost completely ignorant of his work to think otherwise.
  • Wayfarer
    20.4k
    The theory is that matter is self-organizing.Fooloso4

    Doesn't this imply that matter is capable of intentional action?
  • Paine
    1.9k

    At this point some are tempted to give up, holding that we will never have a theory of conscious experience. McGinn (1989), for example, argues that the problem is too hard for our limited minds; we are "cognitively closed" with respect to the phenomenon. Others have argued that conscious experience lies outside the domain of scientific theory altogether.

    I think this pessimism is premature. This is not the place to give up; it is the place where things get interesting. When simple methods of explanation are ruled out, we need to investigate the alternatives. Given that reductive explanation fails, nonreductive explanation is the natural choice.

    Although a remarkable number of phenomena have turned out to be explicable wholly in terms of entities simpler than themselves, this is not universal. In physics, it occasionally happens that an entity has to be taken as fundamental. Fundamental entities are not explained in terms of anything simpler. Instead, one takes them as basic, and gives a theory of how they relate to everything else in the world. For example, in the nineteenth century it turned out that electromagnetic processes could not be explained in terms of the wholly mechanical processes that previous physical theories appealed to, so Maxwell and others introduced electromagnetic charge and electromagnetic forces as new fundamental components of a physical theory. To explain electromagnetism, the ontology of physics had to be expanded. New basic properties and basic laws were needed to give a satisfactory account of the phenomena.
    Chalmers, Facing Up to The Problems of Consciousness
  • frank
    14.5k


    Yes. Are you posting that to agree or disagree with me?
  • Paine
    1.9k

    Both, I guess. He has not presented a theory to explain consciousness, but he is saying there could be one.

    Isn't that what is being sought after or abandoned as a hopeless cause?
  • frank
    14.5k
    Both, I guess. He has not presented a theory to explain consciousness, but he is saying there could be one.

    Isn't that what is being sought after or abandoned as a hopeless cause?
    Paine

    There are those who argue that a theory of consciousness isn't possible. Chalmers believes it is possible.
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