• Galuchat
    457
    In the fountain analogy of consciousness, via neurons, the entropic force is at work as ions shift between the two sides of the membrane; neurotransmitters induce variable permeability, transmitting entropic signals through the water; inside and outside the neuron.

    To know how this works and impacts the organics, you need to understand the nature of hydrogen bonding. This takes time to develop, so I will do this another time.
    wellwisher

    Thanks very much for the link and further explanations.

    Hopefully you are committing your insights to writing, and I look forward to reading your exchanges with others on this forum who are more knowledgable in biology than myself (including the metaphysical implications).
  • Uber
    147
    Steve:

    Today we know that conscious experience cannot exist separately from brain activity. That is a realization of fundamental importance. What we don't know is what brain states produce or affect what conscious states and vice versa.
  • SteveKlinko
    196

    Since we have no idea what Conscious experience actually is you cannot say anything definitive about Consciousness. We know nothing about whether Conscious experience can exist separately from Brain Activity. This is simply the state of our understanding at this point in time.

    In fact we are getting to know quite well what Brain states produce what Conscious states. Just saying that a Brain state produces a Conscious state does not explain How the Brain state produces the Conscious state. This is completely and utterly unknown. There is absolutely zero Scientific progress on this. It is almost an embarrassment of Science that it has no clue how this happens after such a long time of trying.
  • Uber
    147
    You only think there has been no progress because you assume the whole puzzle will come fully formed, without any intervening steps. But the way we get from A, which is total ignorance about the brain, to Z, which is comprehensive knowledge about how conscious states emerge from brain states interacting with the rest of the body and the world, is by filling in those very steps.
  • jkg20
    216
    Isn't the point that the idea that we are gaining any knowledge about emergence is what is in question? What Seth and the like are at most doing (under one understanding anyway, not saying it is mine) is showing in greater and greater detail that certain patterns of neural activity (in certain kinds of context, if you want to go externalist) are correlated with certain types of conscious experience. They are not (according to the same understanding) showing that those types of conscious experience could not occur in the absence of those patterns. Establishing emergence would need to involve some kind of corroboration that ruled out that kind of possibility, some kind of corroboration that there really could not be conscious experience in the absence of those patterns. So, in some sense, the idea seems to be that to establish emergence to any extent, they would already have to have solved the hard problem.
  • Uber
    147
    The way we gain knowledge about emergence, in our context, is by learning how small groups of neurons form certain networks in response to interactions with the rest of the body and the world. And then we learn how these small networks form progressively larger networks. And the process continues until we can reliably detect and demonstrate how the global properties of conscious experience emerge from these mesoscopic (and higher) degrees of freedom. At that point we may still not have solved the hard problem, but we will have made historic progress in our understanding of the mind.

    Philosophical problems also have a way of changing, being redefined, or dying out. Two centuries from now, most people in these fields may not even think there is a hard problem to solve. The best analogy, which Seth made himself, is about how people centuries ago thought that life required an 'animating' force that moved our muscles around. No one believes that anymore because now we know about proton pumps and electrochemical gradients and ATP and all that jazz.
  • SteveKlinko
    196
    Yes jkg20 that's correct. But Uber is not alone. There are a lot of people that think we are close to explaining or even already have explained Consciousness. They need to understand the immensity of the Hard Problem. Uber I agree with the stepped concept. The problem is that when it comes to the Hard problem we are at step A. All the progress is with the Neural Correlates of Consciousness not with actual Consciousness itself.
  • Uber
    147
    Just so my position isn't bastardized by people who have a hard time reading: I do not think the hard problem has been solved, and I do not think we are close. I think the time horizon for a satisfactory solution is something like two or three centuries.

    But just because the hard problem has not been solved does not mean we have not made progress in understanding conscious experience, as I suggested above.
  • SteveKlinko
    196
    If you think progress on the Hard Problem has moved beyond Step A then you don't understand the Hard Problem.
  • Uber
    147
    That must be it then. I'm sure only your immaculate mind can grasp what it means.
  • tom
    1.5k
    What other types of activity?SteveKlinko

    It depends on how the particular universal computer is constructed. There are many ways to do that.
  • jkg20
    216

    The way we gain knowledge about emergence, in our context, is by learning how small groups of neurons form certain networks. And then we learn how these small networks form progressively larger networks. And the process continues until we can reliably detect and demonstrate how the global properties of conscious experience emergence from these mesoscopic (and higher) degrees of freedom.
    Sorry, but that sounds like a long winded way of saying that we gain knowledge about emergence by assuming there is emergence.
    At some point the explanation has to move from "look, all these patterns (everso complicated to produce) are correlated with conscious experience" to "look, all these patterns produce conscious experience" (or if you prefer, "look,consciousness emerges from all these patterns"). It's the move from the one to the other that that seems to require that the hard problem already be solved.

    A slight later edit: I understand that you think we are a long way from solving the hard problem (to be honest, I think even the idea that there is a hard problem already requires accepting a lot of questionable metaphysics, but that's a different topic). My point is just that what that Seth and co are actually doing is showing us that such and such neural patterns are regularly correlated (although far from perfectly - the important results he talks about in the video you linked to are statistical it seems to me) with such and such consicous experiences. Correlation is not causation, but it seems to me at least that the idea of emergence has a causal dimension.
  • Belter
    79


    In my opinion, brain is the biological mechanism (neuronal system) that permits individuals to have a mind. The relationship between them looks like instrumental. Brain is that with we think. "Causes" of the mind states are related with the conditions in which they are produced, modulated, etc. For example, an emotion can be caused by other mental state (e.g. a thought) and by physical one (e.g. a drug).
  • Uber
    147
    I agree that correlation is not causation, and that having neural correlates alone is not enough to solve the problem. But I also remain convinced that the more knowledge we gain about the physical processes of the brain, the more we get closer to actually solving it. Reaching the second leap you talked about is possible, if not under emergence, then under some new framework altogether.
  • MetaphysicsNow
    315
    This force has traditionally been called the life force. I prefer call it the entropic force, since it is a force that is generated by entropy.
    Links to the research on this supposed fifth force would be useful please. Entropy in physics, as I understand it anyway, isn't a thing itself that can generate anything, it is just a measure of how much thermal energy in a given system is not available for conversion into work.
  • Marcus de Brun
    337

    There is a contradiction between your equation of life force and entropy. Entropy is a tendency towards disorder. The singular mystery of life is that it contradicts entropy and is defined as a contrary tendency towards molecular cellular tissue organ system species and ecological order.
  • MetaphysicsNow
    315
    Not my definition, but in any case, I'm not sure life contradicts entropy. It doesn't contradict the second law of thermodynamics (at least not obviously) since we are not usually dealing with isolated systems when we are dealing with living creatures and their physiology.
  • SteveKlinko
    196
    Science has made tremendous progress with regard to measuring, scanning, probing, mapping, and understanding the Brain. But that all goes to solving the Easy Problem of Consciousness. Science has not even made an attempt to solve the Hard Problem because they don't even know where to start. Nobody knows where to start. People confuse the act of solving the Easy Problem with solving the Hard Problem. There is an expectation that when the Brain is completely mapped and totally understood that the Hard Problem will magically be solved. This is a false expectation if you truly understand the Hard Problem.

    I like to take one particular aspect of Conscious experience and stick with it. I like to study the experience of the color Red. We know that there is specific Neural Activity happening when there is a Conscious Red experience. All I ever ask is, given the knowledge we have about the Red Neural Activity, how on Earth do we have that Conscious Red experience? The Red Neural Activity is the Easy Problem. How we have a Red Conscious experience is the Hard Problem.

    If you think about the Red experience itself you will get closer to understanding the Hard Problem. The Redness of the Red exists only as a Conscious experience. The Redness is a Property of a Conscious experience. Imagine that, a Conscious experience has a Property. This means that the Redness is a thing in itself that exists somehow in our Conscious Minds. There is no Redness in the Physical world. What is Redness made out of? Is it made out of Matter? Is it made out of Energy? is it some aspect of Space? It is some aspect of the Conscious Mind. Science can not explain the Red experience that we have. There is zero progress toward understanding it. The Hard Problem in this case can be stated as a question: What is the Conscious Red experience? Get away from the Neurons and think about Conscious experience itself.
  • wellwisher
    161


    There is a huge misunderstanding, when it comes to entropy. Entropy is a variable, in chemistry, that can be measured in the lab. Decades of measurements have shown that entropy is a state variable. What that means is that for a given state of matter, there is constant amount of measured entropy. For example, liquid water at 25C and 1 atmosphere pressure has an entropy of 6.6177 J ˣ mol-1 ˣ K-1. This number is not random, but is a constant, that is measured the same by all labs. This is a standard in science.

    Descriptions of the atomic and molecular details behind entropy get very nebulous and are often assisted with random assumptions. However, when measured, it is a constant for that state. It is very similar to the concept of dark energy, which is more than likely connected to entropy. We have never seen dark energy in the lab, to know exactly what it is. We infer dark energy indirectly from observations and measurements. Entropy is the original dark energy.

    I am not claiming I can explain the nuts of bolts of entropy. However, I am claiming that since it is a state variable; constant for any given state of matter, changes of state; temperature, pressure, concentration, etc., will release or absorb a fixed amount of measurable entropy. The amount released or absorbed will be the difference between the two states.

    When you talk about osmosis, the spontaneous movement of the water toward the solute side of the membrane is altering the state of the solute side; concentration is getting lower. The pressure is decreasing on one side of the membrane and increasing on the other side; two new states appear. The entropy values on both sides are changing with the states, making internal energy available for pressure; entropic force. The pressure, in turn, is part of the new states for the entropy.

    There is another form of entropy, connected to information entropy, such as when transmitting data signals over long distances. This type of entropy is random, because information is not a state variable. We can't heat up a beaker of data and have the data rearrange itself consistently for that temperature; new repeatable fixed state of data measured by all labs. Language and information does not work like matter.The exception is the brain and life, where states of matter imply chemical information. This is another key to consciousness.

    The entropic force is a liquid state affect. The movement of the water is not something that can occur in the solid state. In the solid state, all motion is frozen; except some electrons. The entropic force in the liquid state is also contingent on segregation, in terms of what can move in the liquid, so we can regulate the entropic force vector. This allows repeatable precision by life.

    Evolution in terms of the second law and the entropic force implies movement to states of higher and higher entropy. This is not random, but has a sense of direction, in terms of the new states. The trick is knowing how to define the states, so entropy in each state is constant. The problem with the modern life sciences, is they can't define the proper states without water, so entropy appears random and the entropic force vector seems to cancel to nothing. Water is the moving force.
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