• JupiterJess
    78
    Hi Jess. Do you mean to imply there are actually women on this forum? I was wondering.Kym

    I guess so. I mainly stick to PoM threads so don't know the demographic. There is a dearth of us in philosophy overall, especially analytic philosophy. There are more in continental philosophy I believe.

    At first sight, consciousness seems redundant. Seemingly a person or animal could react to the world 'normally', without the intervening step of internal consciousness. Kind of like a machine following an algorithm, or the Behaviourists’ black-box model of stimulus-in / response-out.Kym

    Okay so to subscribe to the logical possibility of zombies you have to subscribe to strong anthropic mechanism first? As in it's all bottom up cognition and you can have a complete mechanistic description like billiard balls colliding with each other.
    I've always suspected the zombie argument is really an argument against reductionism where if the argument was rephrased to allow for top-down causation the problem would vanish. That's really why Descartes mental substance exists because he had already decided that mechanism was sufficient to describe everything else, including the other animals.
  • snowleopard
    128
    Yes, in this version of Idealism, Mind becomes an apparent plurality of individuated, 'dissociated' loci or iterations of itself (mini-minds?), an essentially cognitive event. Meanwhile, there is still some ultimate state it is like to be the Unitary Mind, which its human self-expressions, normally focused in their veiled imaginal, phenomenal, experiential state, might at least approximate as a samadhi state awareness, wherein the maya-spell is dispelled, revealing a pure Awareness or Beingness or Knowingness, or some such descriptor for the nameless. I suppose this could also be equated with the triune attributes of Brahman, satchitananda, i.e. Being/Consciousness/Bliss. Beyond that we're headed into noumenon territory, where I must bow to the opening lines of the Tao Te Ching about the ineffability of the Eternal Tao.
  • Marchesk
    1.7k
    At first sight, consciousness seems redundant. Seemingly a person or animal could react to the world 'normally', without the intervening step of internal consciousness. Kind of like a machine following an algorithm, or the Behaviourists’ black-box model of stimulus-in / response-out. But dead inside, like a Zombie. This notion raises the question of "why do we need consciousness?"Kym

    Wouldn't this suggest that the bottom-up model is missing something?
  • SteveKlinko
    84
    I have never quite understood arguments that end up with the conclusion that Consciousness is an Illusion. In my way of thinking an Illusion is something that doesn't really exist. The Red Experience certainly Exists. So how do Physicalists understand the meaning of the word Illusion? — SteveKlinko
    I'm not sure I've done enough reading of the Physicalist boffins to answer for them. But years back asked a big-time Zen teacher why Buddhists said we all live in the 'Maya' world of illusion - when there was so obviously correspondences beween the world and my experiences of it. He said, yes a material world does exist but it's SO different from how we perceive it that we more accurately should say we're living in an illusion.
    Kym

    I completely agree with that interpretation of Illusion in that we never really experience the External World directly but only through our internal Conscious representation of the External World. Our Internal Conscious experiences are Surrogates for the External phenomenon. The Zen interpretation seems at least to admit that the Illusion experience is at least Something. But the way I understand how the Physicalists use Illusion is to try to minimize the Conscious phenomenon and make it go away. They say Consciousness is an Illusion and doesn't really exist so there's nothing that we even need to study here. No Explanatory Gap and no Hard Problem.

    But the way I see it, the experience of the color Red (Redness) is a real phenomenon that needs to be Explained. Redness is a Conscious phenomenon not a Physical phenomenon. I like to say that Physical Red Light has Wavelength and other Properties that exist in the normal Physical Space that Science can explain. I also say that Conscious Red Light (the thing we actually experience) has Redness and other Properties that exist in some as yet unexplained Conscious Space that Science does not know how to deal with yet. We should think about Conscious Space, at this point, as just a tool that gives Conscious phenomena a place to exist for the sake of discussion. Think about the Redness of Red. It must be explained. It does not exist in Physical Space but only in Conscious Space. If Science can show that Conscious Space is part of Physical Space then the Hard Problem will be solved. But up to this point Science has not shown that. The Hard Problem remains.

    I think calling Conscious experience an Illusion is very misleading and counter productive for understanding Consciousness. Consciousness is not an Illusion but is rather a whole different realm of Phenomena that are unexplained by Science at this point.
  • Kym
    86


    Yeah. I find it easy to use use some terms a bit fast and loose. Itchy trigger finger.
  • Kym
    86


    Wouldn't this suggest that the bottom-up model is missing something?Marchesk

    It certainly does. The Zombie position is not one I agree with. I'm pretty sure Chalmers disagreed with it too. But rather, he was laying out all the possibilities before proceeding with his argument.

    But you must admit, the image of a Zombified greek philosopher is pretty cute.
  • Kym
    86


    The Unversal Mind Topic
    I think I've already hinted that I have a lot respect for the phenomenon of mystical experience - however tainted it can become by culture etc. The universal mind experience is one the seems to crop up again and again cross-cultures. So I'd suspect there's probably really something to it.

    But since I'm not in that club, I'll have to make do with philosophy for now.

    So far the only grasp I've got on it is along the lines of this: The phenomenon of consciousness is a subset of the phenomenon of information. That's something I certainly can see is omnipresent. Thinking now of thousands of gradations of sentience occurring throughout the animal kingdom, then the plant kingdom, mcro-biota and so on. Then even simpler information as transferred and stored mechanically in molecules and viral crystal structures, then down to the acoustic vibrations in the surrounding furniture that reflect my banging on this typewriter – itself a kind of model of the world.

    In this way I can see consciousness as information omnipresent, but very concentrated in places, for example in a human's sentience.

    Do you think this take on it is on the right track. Or am I barking up the wrong tree do you think?
  • Kym
    86


    Okay so to subscribe to the logical possibility of zombies you have to subscribe to strong anthropic mechanism first? As in it's all bottom up cognition and you can have a complete mechanistic description like billiard balls colliding with each other.
    I've always suspected the zombie argument is really an argument against reductionism where if the argument was rephrased to allow for top-down causation the problem would vanish. That's really why Descartes mental substance exists because he had already decided that mechanism was sufficient to describe everything else, including the other animals.
    JupiterJess

    This is awkward for me since I'm secretly a determinist with a predilection for bottom-up explanation wherever possible (Occam's razor etc.). Yet, no Zombies for me!

    Weird, hey?
  • snowleopard
    128
    Yes, I may well buy a ticket and venture along that intriguing track. Worth noting here that Kastrup draws the line at metabolic expressions, and does not go the route of panpsychism, wherein non-living expressions such as grains of sand, or thermostats, or meteorites, or electrons are considered to be having some sort of elementary conscious experience, never mind self-consciousness. And despite being a computer engineer, he also does not give credibility to the notion of conscious AI. He of course goes into a much more nuanced articulation of his reasons for this stance, which one can't really do justice to in a brief comment here.
  • SteveKlinko
    84
    Okay so to subscribe to the logical possibility of zombies you have to subscribe to strong anthropic mechanism first? As in it's all bottom up cognition and you can have a complete mechanistic description like billiard balls colliding with each other.
    I've always suspected the zombie argument is really an argument against reductionism where if the argument was rephrased to allow for top-down causation the problem would vanish. That's really why Descartes mental substance exists because he had already decided that mechanism was sufficient to describe everything else, including the other animals. — JupiterJess
    This is awkward for me since I'm secretly a determinist with a predilection for bottom-up explanation wherever possible (Occam's razor etc.). Yet, no Zombies for me!

    Weird, hey?
    Kym
    As I remember it the pZombie was a discussion tool for asking the question: What would be the difference if Consciousness was removed from the Human Mind? The question was asked because people were really wondering what the purpose of Consciousness was. There were people that thought that there would be no noticeable difference because they thought Consciousness was just an Illusion and had no real purpose. It was Insane denial of the purpose of Consciousness. If you take away the Visual Conscious experience you would be Blind. We could not move around in the world with just Neural Processing. Removing the Conscious Visual experience removes the final stage in the Visual process that lets us See. People who think that the pZombie would be undetectable deny the Primacy of Consciousness in our existence.
  • Kym
    86


    Few years back I found myself working with fiesty philosophy graduate and earned some contempt when I let slip that I might be a panpsychist. "So you believe that table is sentient?" he barked in the staffroom. In reality I slunk away in embarrased silence.

    These days I'd hope to at least say "Not right right now, but just wait around a bit will you?". The point being that over time pretty much all atoms will get a go as they're cycled through the system. The table-form we were looking at was just a temporal anomaly really.

    So there's the time dimension to consider too.
  • Kym
    86


    pZombies ....It was Insane denial of the purpose of Consciousness.SteveKlinko

    Lol, my first uni study was Psychology run by a rampant B.F Skinner loving behaviourist who would have no truck with the mention of any mental states. Oddly, he was also a rampant Freudian.
    Strange world this one.
  • creativesoul
    2.4k
    Could it be the case that the so-called "hard problem of consciousness" is nothing more than a consequence of ill-conceived notions?

    I think so.

    "Experience" being a central one. "Consciousness" being the main one. The "subjective/objective" dichotomy being another pivotal one. All three are involved. None of them are adequate for taking account of what's going on in the minds of thinking and/or believing creatures...
  • Kym
    86
    By the way, if there's anyone reading this who is worried they might actually be a pZombie themselves, please don't hesitate to share your feelings about it here!
  • Kym
    86
    Could it be the case that the so-called "hard problem of consciousness" is nothing more than a consequence of ill-conceived notions?
    "Experience" being a central one. "Consciousness" being the main one. The "subjective/objective" dichotomy being another pivotal one. All three are involved. None of them are adequate for taking account of what's going on in the minds of thinking and/or believing creatures...
    creativesoul

    Yeah, that notion got kicked around a lttle yesterday I think
  • Kym
    86
    AFK for a time guys. Sorry for any lack of responses
  • jkg20
    88
    You're right, I could be clearer in expressing my concerns. I think the issue I'm worried about has the principle of sufficient reason at its core. I'll have another go at explaining my confusion more clearly.

    Let's suppose you believe that reality consists of two realms, we can neutrally call them realm A and realm B. If they are genuinely two distinct realms, then they are self-contained insofar as all the elements in one realm can be accounted for in terms only involving other elements of that same realm. This is real dualism about reality.

    However, realm A becomes epiphenomenal with regard to realm B and vice-versa. But the principle of sufficient reason would then require us, from the perspect of realm B, to reject the existence of realm A, since realms that just "tag along for the ride" have no sufficient reason for existing. Similarly, the principle of sufficient reason would require us to reject the existence of realm B when considering things from realm A. We might want to try to take a third way, but we are assuming that reality just consists of two realms, so there is no third realm we can go to for adjudication.

    So, we then suppose that realm A and realm B are not separate realms. We might think that everything we previously presumed to be in realm A can be accounted for by things in realm B, or vice-versa, but we thus eliminate one of the two realms we presumed to exist in the first place. We might want to try an approach that said that there is at least one thing in what we used to call realm A that cannot be accounted for by things in realm B, but then we are just keeping realm A as a self-contained realm, but with a shrunken domain, and once again from the perspective of the enlarged realm B, it becomes epiphenomenal and so its raison d'être is removed. And similarly, from the perspecive of this reduced realm A, realm B is redundant.

    So, the principle of sufficient reason pushes us towards monism.

    There might be some conceptual confusion going on in the above, maybe in my assumption that if reality consists of two realms, then the principle of sufficient reason is applicable in both realms individually. But if the alternative is to say that the principle of sufficient reason has to be applied from neither realm A nor realm B, then we seem to have two choices. First, we could suppose that the principle is to be applied from a perspective in reality. But then we have have to introduce a third realm to reality, and the same line of thought as applied above to realm A and realm B would reapply to realm A + realm B + realm C, and the pressure for monism remains. Alternatively, we could try the line that the principle of sufficient reason is not to be applied from any perspective in reality at all, but that requires that we be able to make a distinction between not applying a principle from within reality, on the one hand, and not really applying the principle at all, on the other, but that smells like a distinction without a difference.
  • SteveKlinko
    84
    ↪Metaphysician Undercover You're right, I could be clearer in expressing my concerns. I think the issue I'm worried about has the principle of sufficient reason at its core. I'll have another go at explaining my confusion more clearly.

    Let's suppose you believe that reality consists of two realms, we can neutrally call them realm A and realm B. If they are genuinely two distinct realms, then they are self-contained insofar as all the elements in one realm can be accounted for in terms only involving other elements of that same realm. This is real dualism about reality.

    However, realm A becomes epiphenomenal with regard to realm B and vice-versa. But the principle of sufficient reason would then require us, from the perspect of realm B, to reject the existence of realm A, since realms that just "tag along for the ride" have no sufficient reason for existing. Similarly, the principle of sufficient reason would require us to reject the existence of realm B when considering things from realm A. We might want to try to take a third way, but we are assuming that reality just consists of two realms, so there is no third realm we can go to for adjudication.

    So, we then suppose that realm A and realm B are not separate realms. We might think that everything we previously presumed to be in realm A can be accounted for by things in realm B, or vice-versa, but we thus eliminate one of the two realms we presumed to exist in the first place. We might want to try an approach that said that there is at least one thing in what we used to call realm A that cannot be accounted for by things in realm B, but then we are just keeping realm A as a self-contained realm, but with a shrunken domain, and once again from the perspective of the enlarged realm B, it becomes epiphenomenal and so its raison d'être is removed. And similarly, from the perspecive of this reduced realm A, realm B is redundant.

    So, the principle of sufficient reason pushes us towards monism.

    There might be some conceptual confusion going on in the above, maybe in my assumption that if reality consists of two realms, then the principle of sufficient reason is applicable in both realms individually. But if the alternative is to say that the principle of sufficient reason has to be applied from neither realm A nor realm B, then we seem to have two choices. First, we could suppose that the principle is to be applied from a perspective in reality. But then we have have to introduce a third realm to reality, and the same line of thought as applied above to realm A and realm B would reapply to realm A + realm B + realm C, and the pressure for monism remains. Alternatively, we could try the line that the principle of sufficient reason is not to be applied from any perspective in reality at all, but that requires that we be able to make a distinction between not applying a principle from within reality, on the one hand, and not really applying the principle at all, on the other, but that smells like a distinction without a difference.
    jkg20

    Let Realm A be the Conscious Realm where all our Conscious experiences happen. We can put all Conscious experience in it's own Realm because we don't know what Conscious experience is yet. For example Science does not say anything about what the experience of Red is. At this point it just Is. So it makes sense to put it into a separate Realm.

    Let Realm B be the Scientifically known Physical World of Material, Energy, and Space. The Brain can produce Neural Activity for the color Red while we are Awake or while we are Dreaming. This Red Neural Activity can produce a Conscious Experience of Red in the Conscious Mind. This Red Neural Activity is the Neural Correlate of the Conscious experience of Red.

    So we know two things:

    1) Neural Activity for Red happens in Realm B.
    2) A Red Conscious experience happens in Realm A.

    But the obvious question jumps out at us: How does 1 lead to 2? Just because 2 is Correlated with 1 doesn't mean that they are both in the same Realm. There is a Huge Explanatory Gap between 1 and 2. This is the Hard Problem of Consciousness.

    At this point the experience of Red for example is not understood by Science. In fact Science has no idea what it is. It is truly one of unsolved Mysteries of Science. The only thing that Science has come up with is that it is an Illusion. So how do we experience that Illusion? The Red experience must be explained.

    But the Conscious Visual experience consists of all the Colors. These Colors are painted onto that Conscious Visual screen that is embedded in the front of your face that you probably don't even think about. But that is what you should be thinking about. If you think about the Conscious Visual experience and specifically the color Red you will eventually understand the Mystery of it and you will become a Dualist.

    So look at something Red. Think about the Redness of the Red. What is that? That Redness is a Property of the Conscious experience of Red. The Redness Property only exists in Realm A. There is no Property of Redness in Realm B. All there is, is Neural Activity. But even the Physical Red Light that causes all this from Realm B does not have a Property of Redness. Realm B Red Light has Wavelength as a Property. The Conscious Red experience does not have Wavelength as a Property only Redness.

    .
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    3.7k
    Let's suppose you believe that reality consists of two realms, we can neutrally call them realm A and realm B. If they are genuinely two distinct realms, then they are self-contained insofar as all the elements in one realm can be accounted for in terms only involving other elements of that same realm. This is real dualism about reality.jkg20

    To separate two things as "distinct" things, does not require that those things do not interact with each other. You and I are distinct things yet we are interacting here. So I think you are placing unnecessary restrictions on your definition of "genuinely" distinct. If that is what is required to be genuinely distinct, then absolutely nothing could be genuinely distinct from anything else, because it would have to be self-caused. So that definition of "distinct" is unreal and unacceptable. We ought to allow that distinct things may interact with each other.

    But the principle of sufficient reason would then require us, from the perspect of realm B, to reject the existence of realm A, since realms that just "tag along for the ride" have no sufficient reason for existing.jkg20

    I don't see how you bring the principle of sufficient reason to bear in this way. What you have described is simple solipsism. You are suggesting that I must reject the reality which you apprehend with your mind, because my apprehended reality is the only true reality. But since I can recognize that your perspective is different from mine, there is no real reason for me to reject yours. From my perspective, you might "tag along for the ride", but from yours, I might "tag along for the ride". So you haven't given sufficient reason to reject one or the other.

    So, we then suppose that realm A and realm B are not separate realms.jkg20

    It is only by your assumption of a third realm that you claim A and B are not separate. As I explained above, A and B may be distinct, and interacting. When you give reality to this "interacting", you make A and B parts of a larger whole, C, which contains this interacting. But there is no necessity to assume C. There is simply A interacting with B and the reality of the interactions is accounted for by the activities of A and the activities of B.

    This is why there appears to be a "problem" of consciousness. We keep assuming that if A and B interact, the "interaction" itself ought to be evident. So we look for the interaction. But this is a mistaken procedure because the assumption of this third realm, the realm of interaction, is not supported logically. there is no need to assume a realm of interaction. We have activity occurring in A, and activity occurring in B. Some of the activity in A might be the cause of some activity in B, and vise versa. There is no need to assume C, the realm of interaction, unless your intent is to make A and B two parts of a larger whole, C. But that is simply the intent to reduce the two distinct realms to one realm, C. It is a monist intent. If the realm of interaction is not supported by evidence, then this is an incorrect procedure, and the monist intent is a misguided attempt to simplify what cannot be simplified..
  • jkg20
    88

    To separate two things as "distinct" things, does not require that those things do not interact with each other. You and I are distinct things yet we are interacting here. So I think you are placing unnecessary restrictions on your definition of "genuinely" distinct. If that is what is required to be genuinely distinct, then absolutely nothing could be genuinely distinct from anything else, because it would have to be self-caused. So that definition of "distinct" is unreal and unacceptable. We ought to allow that distinct things may interact with each other.

    The metaphysical issue concerns distinct realms, not distinct things within realms. You and I are distinct things, perhaps, but we are not in distinct realms. Metaphysical dualism requires two distinct realms, and the only way I can see of fleshing out the notion of separate realms is in terms of self-containment. That things within the same realm might interact with each other is unproblematic (or at least less problematic) but that things might interact across realms is precisely the issue I'm trying to dive into at an abstract level. Descartes, for instance, gets into trouble at this point - he believes he has established the existence of two distinct realms (he calls them "substances"), the mental and the physical, but if they are genuinely distinct, how can they possibly interact? Of course, Descartes just assumed that they did interact, rather than pursuing the idea that the very notion of two distinct metaphysical realms interacting does not make sense in the first place (which I think is one of the issues Spinoza has with Descartes).
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