• Wayfarer
    4.5k
    I guess a lot of you will have heard of Donald Hoffman. He's a Californian (natch!) professor of Cognitive Science, whose philosophy is called 'conscious realism'. There's quite a good profile of his ideas in the Atlantic. Here is his TED talk.



    So, I have tried to read his technical papers a few times, and listened to the talk. On face value, I am very open to what he seems to be saying, as his philosophy seems to resemble the 'mind-only' school of Buddhism (cittamatra) which I am slightly familiar with, and with which I have an affinity.

    Hoffman says that the brain constructs or creates what we understand as 'reality' - that what we think we see 'out there' really is just neural processes. His analogy is that the objects we see around us are like the way we 'interface' with reality, but that they're no more intrinsically real than icons on the desktop of a computer, which aren't actually 'folders' or 'files' but are just symbolic representations that make it easier for us to find and initiate the processes that we want to execute (e.g. typing out a document).

    The algorithm that drives all of this is essentially Darwinian, i.e. a product of evolution, which maximises our ability to behave in such a way so as to survive. But part of the consequence of that is that we also screen out a lot of what we don't need to know:

    Evolution has shaped us with perceptions that allow us to survive. They guide adaptive behaviors. But part of that involves hiding from us the stuff we don’t need to know. And that’s pretty much all of reality, whatever reality might be. If you had to spend all that time figuring it out, the tiger would eat you....

    Q: If snakes aren’t snakes and trains aren’t trains, what are they?

    Snakes and trains, like the particles of physics, have no objective, observer-independent features. The snake I see is a description created by my sensory system to inform me of the fitness consequences of my actions. Evolution shapes acceptable solutions, not optimal ones. A snake is an acceptable solution to the problem of telling me how to act in a situation. My snakes and trains are my mental representations; your snakes and trains are your mental representations...

    I call it "conscious realism": Objective reality is just conscious agents, just points of view. Interestingly, I can take two conscious agents and have them interact, and the mathematical structure of that interaction also satisfies the definition of a conscious agent. 1.

    I am pretty drawn to his model, but I'm having trouble understanding it in the abstract - when he gets down to the detail of how agents interact, and how agents can actually merge - looses me there. But in terms of philosophy, it seems very much like the model of Leibniz' 'windowless monads' and also, as I say, it seems to resemble, in many respects, philosophical idealism

    Interested to see what others think.
  • noAxioms
    355
    Will try to take the time to watch that. Would prefer a transcript.
    <edit> Will be looking through the atlantic link instead. Far better.

    I tend to agree with the base concept: The world as we see it is effectively mind-derived naive realism, and the thing-in-itself behind snakes and trains bears pretty much unrecognizable correspondence to the 'desk icons' that are our representations of them.

    But I draw no dualism conclusions from this. Mind still seems to be a physical process supervening on this thing-in-itself matter. I see no reason to suppose that mind is special in this sense. A machine observer would have the same naive realist view, even if it comes from the biases put there by its programmer instead of evolution. I want to see Hoffman's take on that to see what conclusions are drawn on this front.
  • javra
    296
    I am pretty drawn to his model, but I'm having trouble understanding it in the abstract - when he gets down to the detail of how agents interact, and how agents can actually merge - looses me there.Wayfarer

    From the article linked to in the OP in the Atlantic:

    Gefter: The world is just other conscious agents?

    Hoffman: I call it conscious realism: Objective reality is just conscious agents, just points of view. Interestingly, I can take two conscious agents and have them interact, and the mathematical structure of that interaction also satisfies the definition of a conscious agent. This mathematics is telling me something. I can take two minds, and they can generate a new, unified single mind. Here’s a concrete example. We have two hemispheres in our brain. But when you do a split-brain operation, a complete transection of the corpus callosum, you get clear evidence of two separate consciousnesses. Before that slicing happened, it seemed there was a single unified consciousness. So it’s not implausible that there is a single conscious agent. And yet it’s also the case that there are two conscious agents there, and you can see that when they’re split. I didn’t expect that, the mathematics forced me to recognize this. It suggests that I can take separate observers, put them together and create new observers, and keep doing this ad infinitum. It’s conscious agents all the way down.
    Amanda Gefter

    Hey. Just passing through.

    I’m not yet familiar with his detailed (I presume mathematical) arguments for the convergence of agents—but to offer some thoughts. To address the scenario of disparate agents converging into one agent doesn’t—yet—seem to me to be an issue of science or technology. Rather its either one of metaphysics or one of philosophy of spirituality. The quoted example Hoffman gives regarding brain hemispheres I find to be apt. However, it itself is implicitly reliant upon models of mind-brain wherein the sub- & unconscious mind is itself endowed with agencies. For the time being, it can be said that we as a society still have basic disagreements as to whether or not consciousness is itself a metaphysically valid agency or, else, an illusion (either in part or in whole; such as can be readily inferred from epiphenomenalism)—so the issue of whether or not a total mind consist of multiple agencies partly converging into a first-person conscious agency can be very controversial.

    For the record, I uphold such a model of mind where the unconscious is itself constituted of at times unified, and at times conflicting, agencies. As only one example, to anyone who’s ever felt pangs of conscience, you then at those junctures experienced agencies of your unconscious mind other than the agency which you as a first person conscious self then momentarily were; if for no other reason, the intentions of your conscience and those which you then held were not the same. More concretely exemplified, were I to want to take a shortcut but then to feel pangs of conscience informing me its far better not to, the first-person conscious agency which I am yet has the choice between doing what I want or doing what I now feel these pangs of conscience inform me might be the better course of action. Momentarily, this information of my subconscious which we term conscience is not the first-person conscious I which feels, deliberates, and acts. It is instead an agency of my sub/unconscious mind interacting with me, the first-person consciousness, within my mind. More could be elaborated on, but this was offered to illustrate that a mind consists of multiple agencies which can diverge (e.g., you & your conscience) or, else—as is typical and healthy (the latter, however, being very conditional on the actions being taken)—fully unified into a singular agency that, at such junctures, is undifferentiable from the first person conscious agent's being.

    So, yea, this model of mind is itself contentious; we’re habituated to think of the conscious agent as though it were a thing, and object, somehow permanently separated from what is its; namely, the agency-endowed aspects of its mind (e.g., conscience) and its body (e.g. walking while desiring to go to location X), etc. [Personally, its where I find the statement, “there neither is a self nor not a self” to enter the picture … but anyways.]

    As to multiple first-person agencies (or selves) converging into one objective, perfectly unified reality of agency, one can find history littered with tales of this: from the Gnostics and their approach of Sophia, to the Neo-Platonists and their notion of “the One”, to concepts of transcendent convergence with an Abrahamic God/G-d in the hereafter, etc. And, as you know, examples can be found in Eastern traditions as well. In most such systems, there are stipulated to be in-between realms of greater awareness—dwelling in between our own present corporeal awareness and that of the pinnacle, unified awareness, however it is expressed. But this converging of minds stuff is neither new nor limited to mono-something-theisms; e.g. the Oracle at Delphi supposedly converged with the virgin priestesses there in order for these priestesses to prophesize; Shaman of varying traditions on this planet supposedly converged as conscious agents with everything from spirits and gods to (as was a common case in South American tribes) jaguars. Eah, but this a science and technology forum—so none of this here applies.

    Still, notice how the metaphysical underpinnings of physical objects governing the foundations of reality—something which we’ve now come to communally project upon selfhood as well (the dreaded homunculus argument comes to mind)—first needs to be reappraised before this convergence of conscious agents/agencies can make any sense.

    As to Hoffman’s overall views, I’m generally very sympathetic to them from what I’ve so far read. Though, I should admit, I currently find them metaphysically lacking. Also, the terms used need to be changed or else new terms created for notions such as—to at least paraphrase— “reality is an illusion”. In the sense he talks about, it is (or at least I too so affirm); but in the sense of “reality bites”, (perceptual, etc.) reality never is illusory. Thanks for linking to him.

    Oh, and a shout out to all the UCI-ers out there: see, Ant Eaters can be competitive! [yup, UCI has an ant eater of all things as its mascot]
  • Bitter Crank
    4.1k
    Seeing is believing, or is it "believing is seeing"?

    Does it make a difference in one's reception and comprehension of Hoffman's talk that he talks only about vision? Does his theory work as well when we take the other senses -- hearing, touch, smell, and taste? Is there a difference in seeing a train, and hearing, touching, smelling, even tasting the train? Are smell, taste, touch (including feeling the vibrations of the train), and hearing more immediate, less mediated/interpreted? Certain pollinators can be fooled into 'mating' with a certain orchid because it looks like, and more important, smells like a female.

    It can be difficult to explain to a rank novice that the icon on the desktop (screen) is and is not a file. The file is in the box under the desk, and it is just a long string of numbers located on a spinning disk. Before the WYSIWYG interface, people used DOS and there was no illusion that a "file" was sitting "on the desktop". The file was clearly in the box. It was clear that you were asking the computer to fetch it up and display the characters of the file on the screen. (The screen always looked the same, however the print version would look.)

    Another situation where "the medium is the message"?

    I agree, though I do not at all like it, that "what we sense" (eyes, ears, nose, mouth, skin, body) is not reality itself. Objects are exterior, and especially when we look at them, we are only seeing reflected light from a surface. However, if you hit an object with a stick, it makes a noise which you hear. Then you bite it and you learn more about it's nature--how hard or soft is it, is it gooey, stringy, or solid? You taste it; you smell it; you feel it. If you eat it and immediately vomit, you have learned something more about it. When our brains combine all of our senses to render it's representation, we have come closer to the reality of the object.

    Eating the tomato is not like using a WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) computer interface.

    Are TED talks having the same effect on people's thinking that PowerPoint is thought to have? All theories are presented in short, sweet punchy form. Jill Bolte Taylor's TED Talk about her massive stroke is quite moving. However, in the book she explained that her experience of having the stroke (which she presented in her TED Talk) wasn't available to her. She reconstructed what it was like with the help of neurologists, psychologists, et al.

    Quite understandable. I don't feel defrauded at all. The real story is her 8 year rehabilitation program that enabled her to overcome the massive damage and return to Harvard as a Neuro-anatamist. The punchiness of her talk is, none the less, slightly misleading.
  • Rich
    2.1k
    Hoffman says that the brain constructs or creates what we understand as 'reality' - that what we think we see 'out there' really is just neural processes. His analogy is that the objects we see around us are like the way we 'interface' with reality, but that they're no more intrinsically real than icons on the desktop of a computer, which aren't actually 'folders' or 'files' but are just symbolic representations that make it easier for us to find and initiate the processes that we want to execute (e.g. typing out a document).Wayfarer

    In earlier decades, it was often said of a couple that had lived their lives together began to take on each other's physical and emotional characteristics. One embraced the other.

    I think people are spending too much time with their computers and are literally falling in love with them.. At least do some gardening. If you are going to adopt a partner at least have it be a living one.
  • Bitter Crank
    4.1k
    Yes. Timely observation.
  • schopenhauer1
    1.4k
    Yet, this falls in the trap of most of these "just so" theories. "Where" is it that the illusion (e.g. the desktop icons), exists? It is an infinite regress.. It's in the "mind"? What is this then? It's in the "brain"- What magical space of the neurostructure? There is always a hidden dualism lurking in these theories that cannot be explained away.
  • Rich
    2.1k
    Very much agree. The presenter acts as though a computer has some innate ability to recognize the bits in its memory as some sort of image. No! The computer recognizes nothing. It is the human mind who creates the program or observes the output that is creating the image. The computer is just a tool for transforming bits into other bits? It has zero intelligence. The intelligence always lies in the mind.
  • Wayfarer
    4.5k
    we as a society still have basic disagreements as to whether or not consciousness is itself a metaphysically valid agency or, else, an illusionjavra

    The problem there is that, if it were an illusion, it would have to be an illusion for someone.

    I take your point about the conflict between ego and conscience, however - often subject to it, myself! ;-)

    Eah, but this a science and technology forum—so none of this here applies.javra

    Don't be too sure. Remember, this professor is from California.

    But I still don't get his maths.

    Objects are exterior, and especially when we look at them, we are only seeing reflected light from a surface.Bitter Crank

    I think the more radical point is that 'exterior' is also a perception. I hasten to add, I think it's a veridical perception. But when we do see 'reflected light from a surface' - there's no actual light inside the cranium; light doesn't actually penetrate. The sensory organs process sensations including smell, touch, hearing, and combine them by the process called 'apperception' into cognitive wholes. But these are cognitive events, still.

    There has to be a kind of 'through the looking glass' experience to really get what that means, I think.

    Yet, this falls in the trap of most of these "just so" theories. "Where" is it that the illusion (e.g. the desktop icons), exists? It is an infinite regress.. It's in the "mind"? What is this then? It's in the "brain"- What magical space of the neurostructure? There is always a hidden dualism lurking in these theories that cannot be explained away.schopenhauer1

    It's not about 'where it is' it's about 'what's looking'. When you ask the question, who is asking? Who wants to know? You can't get behind it, and you can't explain it.
  • javra
    296
    Don't be too sure. Remember, this professor is from California.Wayfarer

    Well, thinking that I'm getting your vibes: Dude, like, Californians can be totally rad at times. :P Nerdy as some of us can sometimes get.

    Hang ten. (Y) ;)
  • Wayfarer
    4.5k
    I think there could be a book written on 'Californian metaphysics', although this one might be close.
  • Bitter Crank
    4.1k
    I think the more radical point is that 'exterior' is also a perception. I hasten to add, I think it's a veridical perception. But when we do see 'reflected light from a surface' - there's no actual light inside the cranium; light doesn't actually penetrate. The sensory organs process sensations including smell, touch, hearing, and combine them by the process called 'apperception' into cognitive wholes. But these are cognitive events, still.Wayfarer

    Of course there is no light in the cranium. I don't think I suggested that light penetrates into the back of the brain (or for that matter, the front).

    ... his analogy is that the objects we see around us are like the way we 'interface' with reality, but that they're no more intrinsically real than icons on the desktop of a computer,Wayfarer

    I get confused here. Is he saying that the objects that we perceive are no more than pixels on a screen that appear to resemble file folders--but are not?

    So if I hear a bell, see a tree, feel a thistle, smell a flower, taste a grape, I am not experiencing bells, trees, thistles, flowers, grapes? I'm just getting good vibrations, per the Beach Boys, and my clever little brain puts together something it chooses to name bell, tree, thistle, flower, and grape? It's possible that I could think I was eating a grape when I was actually eating his red tomato, previously located 1 meter from his eyeball.

    If we think there are subatomic particles composing the parts of the atom, and that these parts and the atoms themselves contain forces, and that atoms attach to one another in systematic ways to form molecules, and molecules and atoms line up to form crystals, and so on up to sequoias and whales, are we then to say... that all the stuff is illusory?

    Animals (we'll do plants another time) that do not deal in desktop illusions, have to see the real world to survive. The beetles landing on the brown, slightly bumpy, glossy beer bottles are actually seeing brown, bump, and gloss which is what they evolved to see. Flowers that look like like a female pollinator have to really look like one (and smell like it too) or the male bee wouldn't try to mate with it and in so doing, pollinate it.

    People do not get bitten by snakes and eaten by alligators in Houston as much as they would if their perceptions and estimations of shape and movement weren't fairly good. (When perception and estimation of shape and movement isn't good, and one is standing in a swamp, one is likely to undergo death in a strikingly unpleasant way -- none of it illusory.)
  • schopenhauer1
    1.4k

    Even more perplexing- what "is" the illusory? It has to "exist" somewhere. However, there is no answer it seems. There is no theater beyond the neurochemical and neurostructural architecture combined with the body's other constituents. This illusion is somehow shoehorned on with these material causes. What is the nature of this illusion?
  • Wayfarer
    4.5k
    if I hear a bell, see a tree, feel a thistle, smell a flower, taste a grape, I am not experiencing bells, trees, thistles, flowers, grapes? I'm just getting good vibrations, per the Beach Boys, and my clever little brain puts together something it chooses to name bell, tree, thistle, flower, and grape? It's possible that I could think I was eating a grape when I was actually eating his red tomato, previously located 1 meter from his eyeball.Bitter Crank

    Hey, I've got a post that I created years ago, and put up on the old forum for comments, which might be relevant...hang on....

    According to evolutionary biology, h. sapiens is the result of millions (well, actually billions) of years of evolution. For all these years, our sensory and intellectual abilities have been honed and shaped by the exigencies of survival, through billions of lifetimes in various life-forms - fish, lizard, mammal, primate and so on - in such a way as to eventually give rise to the mind that we have today.

    Recently, other scientific disciplines such as cognitive and evolutionary psychology have revealed that conscious perception, while subjectively appearing to exist as a steady continuum, is actually composed of a heirarchical matrix of interacting cellular transactions, commencing at the most basic level with the parasympathetic system which controls one’s respiration, digestion, and so on, up through various levels to culminate in that peculiarly human ability of ‘conscious thought’ (and maybe beyond!)

    Our consciousness plays a central role in co-ordinating these diverse activities so as to give rise to the sense of continuity which we call ‘ourselves’ - and also the apparent coherence and reality of the 'external world'. Yet it is important to realise that the naïve sense in which we understand ourselves, and the objects of our perception, to exist, is in fact totally dependent upon the constructive activities of our consciousness, the bulk of which are completely unknown to us.

    When you perceive something - large, small, alive or inanimate, local or remote - there is a considerable amount of work involved in ‘creating’ an object from the raw material of perception. Your eyes receive the lightwaves reflected or emanated from it, your mind organises the image with regards to all of the other stimuli impacting your senses at that moment – either acknowledging it, or ignoring it, depending on how busy you are; your memory will then compare it to other objects you have seen, from whence you will (hopefully) recall its name, and perhaps know something about it ('star', 'tree', 'frog', etc).

    And you will do all of this without you even noticing that you are doing it; it is largely unconscious.

    In other words, your consciousness is not the passive recipient of sensory objects which exist irrespective of your perception of them. Instead, your consciousness is an active agent which constructs reality - partially on the basis of sensory input, but also on the basis of an enormous number of unconscious processes, memories, intentions, and so on. And this is the way in which the philosophy of 'idealism' does indeed receive support from modern science.

    As I say, I wrote that a long time back, I got a lot of growls from Banno, but one of the other posters (can't recall his name, 'metaphysical exorcist' or something) said it was a fair representation of idealism. (I got a lot of these ideas from reading Robert Ornstein.)

    Whereas I think we are generally conditioned to be naive realists. In other words, we are predisposed to accept the reality of the 'world of the senses', which is analysed through the empirical sciences (which in turn relies on the amplification of sensory experience through instruments and quantitative analysis). So we neglect or ignore the sense in which we 'construe' the world to be as it is, and so, for us, 'the world' is what is real. But I think what is being said in this thread is causing you to question that.

    If we think there are subatomic particles composing the parts of the atom, and that these parts and the atoms themselves contain forces, and that atoms attach to one another in systematic ways to form molecules, and molecules and atoms line up to form crystals, and so on up to sequoias and whales, are we then to say... that all the stuff is illusory?Bitter Crank

    I don't think it's illusory tout courte, but that its reality is inextricably bound up with your perception of it. So it's not either in the mind, or in the world - our reality comprises precisely the experience of the subject-in-the-world. But notice, I think, the lurking assumption that what this all goes back to, or down to, are atoms. So I would question that, and indeed I think that has been undermined by science itself nowadays. And I think that's why there is a deep feeling of unease in many people, about what we are told is real. The old model of a mechanical universe consisting of atoms being randomly shuffled is dying, but the new is struggling to be born. That's what I think we're considering here.
  • JupiterJess
    67
    Thanks for the link, I read his article before and the evolutionary argument against naturalism is an old one. Lewis had his own version of it.

    I'll watch the video when I'm feeling better and give a review (bad day, need something way lighter).

    But I did see this similar one recently https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lyu7v7nWzfo and it annoyed me due to how superficial it was. Has anyone read Midgley's" Are You an Illusion?" I haven't but reading the synopsis and the Guardian review, I think the book touches on the same criticisms I would have for that video.
    It (the video) was loaded with the naturalist trope about how we should be humble we are just brains, and that consciousness is not special. Hoping the Hoffman video isn't the same.
  • Bitter Crank
    4.1k
    I don't think it's illusory tout courte, but that its reality is inextricably bound up with your perception of it.Wayfarer

    I accept (and have articulated in the old forum) the idea that "the real physical world" which we perceive is one step removed (at least) and the reality which we construct in our minds, might not be exactly as we think the real world is. It could be somewhat different, but all animal constructions of reality, including ours, have to correspond enough to the real world. Too far from enough, and sensory perception would have failed at the beginning a few billion years ago.

    Organisms have to pick up good information to find food and mates, defend themselves, and (sometimes) build a nest, a burrow, or a house. Older and simpler brains evolved to do this. Mechanisms developed to see, hear, smell, taste, and feel. Some animals sense magnetic signals; migrating birds, for instance. Homing pigeons have fairly straight forward mechanisms; one of the two methods employs tiny bits of magnetite in part of their brain. They can sense the pull of very weak magnetic fields. Some bacteria also have this feature, which enables them to align their movement to magnetic fields.

    That brains have developed complex mechanisms to accomplish necessary means for the end of survival bothers some people. Upon learning that the brain uses chemicals to effect certain feelings, like love, they jump to the conclusion that the mechanism of oxytocin IS love. Ah, so, just snort a dose of oxytocin and you'll suddenly love... whoever happens to be handy.

    The object of one's affection, and the affection and desire, usually come first. The baby is born, the mother takes him in her arms; the baby sucks her breast. Oxytocin floods both their brains, and the father's too if he is on hand. Oxytocin isn't what is happening, it is how it is happening. (and it isn't a forever thing, either.)
  • apokrisis
    2.5k
    On the one hand, Hoffman is just making a standard semiotic or modelling argument. We understand the world through a system of sign. But on the other hand, he looks to miss the crucial thing of the epistemic cut where signs are an actual act of mediation in which a material reality comes an informational interpretation.

    So he makes a big thing about reality having no objective features. And that is where he turns into sounding like an idealist, not an indirect realist or pragmatist.

    However the semiotic view says there is a real world out there of matter and energy. It is objective, and indeed utterly recalcitrant, in its existence. Then the epistemic cut says there follows an act of translation. With our sensory receptors and habits of perception, patterns of physical energy are turned into informational activity - the signs of our qualitative experience.

    Consider an interaction without this translation. Shine some red light on a dead sheep eyeball. All that will happen is that the dead flesh might start to heat up after a while. Energy can make an energetic change and that is as far as it goes. There is no hue to this interaction as such. Saying the light is "red" is a meaningless claim from the point of view of the physics. Red just isn't an objective property of reality while we are talking of it as material being. Whereas light being able to heat up the eyeball is a recalcitrant fact of nature. It just happens.

    By contrast, when light falls on a live eyeball, we don't experience the heating but instead the construction of some representational pattern of signs. The visual field is divided in hues, like green and red, that "stand for" some neural circuit judgement about relative wavelength frequency information. Green and red are only fractionally different in wavelength as a physical fact, but are experienced as ontically the exact opposite of each other. It is impossible (in any normal way) for red and green to be found together at the same point of experience. Our circuitry is designed to so that their informational state is signalling one or the other in a logically mutually exclusive fashion.

    So the semiotic view is that what we construct is an interpretation of reality where our own biological interests are part of the information that shapes the sign. Evolution doesn't want the sign to be "realistic" in that it is some pure token of the material world - like a reading of a scientist's light meter that wants to give an objective reading of an energy level or wavelength. Evolution wants the sign itself to be a sharply dichotomous judgement.

    The receptors have to make a simple decision - say green or say red. Break the complexity of physical energy relations into simple pixels of yes/no acts of discriminative judgement. Then that epistemic cut means we can get on with building up our own fully self interested model of the world.

    We have already made the first necessary act of interpretance to separate our interests from the material constraints the world seeks to impose on our physical being. In our little neural cocoon of self interested world modelling, we can then construct a whole realm of plans and ideas founded on our system of sign.

    The computer interface analogy Hoffman offers does get at this epistemic cut. Our interests are served by seeing an icon on the screen we can click. We don't want to have to care about all the physical complexity in terms of the hardware actions that a little picture might represent. So when we see a symbol that looks like a floppy disk, what we see is our own desire to save a file. The sign appears to be directly representative of the material,world, yet really it is a fragmentary reflection of our own internal realm of felt intentionality. It is a little bit of us.

    The trick is to see how the same is true of all phenomenology, like our experience of hues such as red and green. They are shards of self interested judgement hardwired down at the neurobiological level. Energy and matter are exactly what get left at the doors of perception. Consciousness starts with a logical transformation, an epistemic cut, where a digital decision has got made and now we can talk of a selfish realm of sign.
  • schopenhauer1
    1.4k
    The trick is to see how the same is true of all phenomenology, like our experience of hues such as red and green. They are shards of self interested judgement hardwired down at the neurobiological level. Energy and matter are exactly what get left at the doors of perception. Consciousness starts with a logical transformation, an epistemic cut, where a digital decision has got made and now we can talk of a selfish realm of signapokrisis

    Gibberish.. as I stated to @Bitter Crank: Even more perplexing- what "is" the illusory? It has to "exist" somewhere. However, there is no answer it seems. There is no theater beyond the neurochemical and neurostructural architecture combined with the body's other constituents. This illusion is somehow shoehorned on with these material causes. What is the nature of this illusion?
  • Bitter Crank
    4.1k
    Would you elaborate a bit on this, please.
  • Wayfarer
    4.5k
    [the perceived world] could be somewhat different, but all animal constructions of reality, including ours, have to correspond enough to the real world. Too far from enough, and sensory perception would have failed at the beginning a few billion years ago.Bitter Crank

    True, but the criteria here is 'what works' i.e. what enables survival, getting along, so it's an implicitly utilitarian analysis, isn't it?

    That brains have developed complex mechanisms to accomplish necessary means for the end of survival bothers some people.Bitter Crank

    It doesn't bother me, but I do ask whether it qualifies as philosophy.

    "The concordance between the mind of man and the nature of things that [Bacon] had in mind is patriarchal: the human mind, which overcomes superstition, is to hold sway over a disenchanted nature. Knowledge, which is power, knows no obstacles: neither in the enslavement of men nor in compliance with the world’s rulers... Technology is the essence of this knowledge. It does not work by concepts and images, by the fortunate insight, but refers to method, the exploitation of others’ work, and capital... What men want to learn from nature is how to use it in order wholly to dominate it and other men. That is the only aim." — Adorno and Horkheimer

    That is however tangential to the OP.

    the semiotic view says there is a real world out there of matter and energy.apokrisis

    The question that can always be asked is how to distinguish between 'the real world out there' and what is perceived as a signal or sign. If what we perceive is truly just a 'signifier' then what we're seeing is not truly objective, but the object as it exists for us. Which isn't to say that it's not real, but it is to question the degree of its reality, or the mode of its reality, independent of our experience of it. That seems implicit to me in the very notion of 'sign', as a sign is something that always requires an interpretation, isn't it?

    Hoffman, again:

    The idea that what we’re doing is measuring publicly accessible objects, the idea that objectivity results from the fact that you and I can measure the same object in the exact same situation and get the same results — it’s very clear from quantum mechanics that that idea has to go. Physics tells us that there are no public physical objects. So what’s going on? Here’s how I think about it. I can talk to you about my headache and believe that I am communicating effectively with you, because you’ve had your own headaches. The same thing is true as apples and the moon and the sun and the universe. Just like you have your own headache, you have your own moon. But I assume it’s relevantly similar to mine. That’s an assumption that could be false, but that’s the source of my communication, and that’s the best we can do in terms of public physical objects and objective science.

    Again, can't help but be reminded of 'windowless monads'.

    What is the nature of this illusion?schopenhauer1

    Hoffman explains that what we perceive as reality, is not what it seems to be; that what we take it to be, is what evolution has sculpted us to see. 'This illusion' is, therefore, what we consider to be real. It's a radical idea.
  • apokrisis
    2.5k
    Was there some actual question there? I couldn't get anything definite. Perhaps you just wish to assert dualism but are unable to muster the appropriate argument?
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