• HuggetZukker
    24
    I'm interested in your critical reception of my current beliefs about conscious experience and how I got to it, so therefore, before I get to the point, I will share an account I find embarassing: It's about how, in the span of a few years, I went from a type of metaphysical belief to the belief in emergent consciousness.

    About five years ago, my best friend shook lose one of my most stubborn beliefs.

    I used to hold the private belief that I was neither my body nor my brain, but an immutable attachment to my mind, which I called "consciousness." I didn't know what it was, where it came from, or what would happen to it after I die, but it just had to be there!

    My reasoning went: "Why am I me instead of someone else? There has to be some essence that makes me me."

    The attached consciousness, I believed, was a spectator who experienced qualia by tapping into my brain waves, emotional chemistry, and sensory inputs, which were deterministic and mechanical in nature, unlike the consciousness itself.

    I believed that, without the spectator, I would be "just a complex biological machine," and it disturbed me that I could never know whether anyone else had a spectator inside them: Anyone other than me, I thought, might be a philosophical zombie.

    When I presented my thoughts to my friend, he expressed disappointment in me. He said, he had thought I was a smart, rational person, who would reject such superstition. In frustration he argued something to the effect of, "You are you, because who else could be you?!" I couldn't even define my stance in a way that sounded logical, since it was ultimately an illogical stance.

    It had never before occured to me that my unshakable belief could be construed as belonging to the realm of superstition. Since then, I developed a new belief which came to act as a mediator between my old belief and emegence belief:

    I thought, what if there exists only one spectator out of time and space, which processes all minds in parallel? On its own, the parallel spectator doesn't have any physical being - no thoughts, no emotions, no nothing. It just observes minds from within.

    This belief appeared to solve my "why am I me" problem, because in essence, it says we're all the same - a parallel force who can only remember being one person at a time, but is actually the same. There seemed to be no oddly specific lonely point of view anymore. It made me feel connected.

    Eventually, I could no longer stand how this parallel spectator seemed logically redundant. I could no longer justify it to myself. Since it didn't interact with the world, I realized it didn't pass Occam's Razor.

    I've since grown comfortable with the concept of emergent consciousness. I am only made of my physical self, which is undergoing constant change, meaning I'm basically a new me every day. There's no eternal self, and probably no sharp line to draw between conscious and unconscious.

    This "why am I me" problem, I think, is a self-attached problem of identifying oneself as an invisible and indivisble attachment to one's own body, perhaps out of embarassment over one's imperfect concrete being.

    In conclusion, I think it's best to shed such an attachment to yourself, since it frames yourself as a mere attachment to yourself, alienating yourself from yourself. It's schizophrenic!
  • Hanover
    4k
    I've since grown comfortable with the concept of emergent consciousness. I am only made of my physical self, which is undergoing constant change, meaning I'm basically a new me every day. There's no eternal self, and probably no sharp line to draw between conscious and unconscious.HuggetZukker

    I don't follow how this resolves the problem of what is consciousness or how is it that you are conscious. This seems to only answer the question of where consciousness come from. My understanding of emergent theories is that they explain how consciousness can arise in a purely physical environment.
  • rachMiel
    48
    Another way to look at it is that there is one consciousness that flows through a vast multitude of individual brain-body-minds, like sunlight refracting through a set of different prisms. Each flow/refraction is unique, but they are all ultimately expressions of the same consciousness.

    This might be too woo-woo for some here, but it resonates with me.
  • Pattern-chaser
    556
    Another way to look at it is that there is one consciousness that flows through a vast multitude of individual brain-body-minds, like sunlight refracting through a set of different prisms.rachMiel

    Yes, and that "one consciousness" is God, whom I know as Gaia. :up: :smile: But now back to the topic in hand. :wink:
  • rachMiel
    48
    But now back to the topic in hand.Pattern-chaser

    You mean our commentary on HZ's current view on consciousness? That's what I tried to do ... in a tangential kind of way, by suggesting another way of looking at the same(ish) thing. Not directly OT-related enough?
  • Relativist
    446

    By "emergent" - do you mean the mind is not reducible to the physical and operates (at least partly) independently of the laws of nature?
  • HuggetZukker
    24
    By "emergent" - do you mean the mind is not reducible to the physical and operates (at least partly) independently of the laws of nature?

    Not operating independently of the laws of nature, and technically reducible, but it's very hard to predict the emergent behavior by studying the individual constituents.

    Emergence means that the properties and behaviors of a whole arise from the properties and behaviors of its constituents, but the constituents do not individually possess the emergent properties and behaviors. In other words, the whole is more than the sum of its parts.

    A popular demonstrative example of emergence is the phenomenon of starling murmurations:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QOGCSBh3kmM

    The definition describes almost anything physical, and in the context of emergent consciousness, I think physicality is typically implied. In my case, physicality is the intended implication.

    I guess you could conceive of metaphysical emergence as well. For example, the Trinity could perhaps in some people's views, be thought of as emergent without physicality.
  • Pattern-chaser
    556
    But now back to the topic in hand. — Pattern-chaser


    You mean our commentary on HZ's current view on consciousness? That's what I tried to do ... in a tangential kind of way, by suggesting another way of looking at the same(ish) thing. Not directly OT-related enough?
    rachMiel

    :smile: No, I simply meant to acknowledge that the nature of God is not the primary topic here. :smile:
  • rachMiel
    48
    God, what's that, I never mentioned any God ... but that's best left for another discussion. ;-)
  • HuggetZukker
    24
    I don't follow how this resolves the problem of what is consciousness or how is it that you are conscious. This seems to only answer the question of where consciousness come from. My understanding of emergent theories is that they explain how consciousness can arise in a purely physical environmentHanover

    In my case the problem specifically concerned qualia, so it was the "hard problem". My change boils down to the realization that the hard problem is not a problem, because if you don't know what you're looking for, you're not actually looking for anything, so you won't find "it."

    Suppose there is found a neural effect that correlates with someone's account of experiencing "red". Then the hard problem proposes to ask how the neural representation of red causes a conscious experience of red. What does not seem to be considered is the possibility that the neural representation of red is the conscious experience of red.

    I can sympathize with wanting there to be some kind of "conscious endpoint" besides the machinery itself, but if there is no physical role hypothesized for it, how will you know what signs to look for? How will you know when you have found it?
  • SteveKlinko
    308
    I don't follow how this resolves the problem of what is consciousness or how is it that you are conscious. This seems to only answer the question of where consciousness come from. My understanding of emergent theories is that they explain how consciousness can arise in a purely physical environment — Hanover
    In my case the problem specifically concerned qualia, so it was the "hard problem". My change boils down to the realization that the hard problem is not a problem, because if you don't know what you're looking for, you're not actually looking for anything, so you won't find "it."

    Suppose there is found a neural effect that correlates with someone's account of experiencing "red". Then the hard problem proposes to ask how the neural representation of red causes a conscious experience of red. What does not seem to be considered is the possibility that the neural representation of red is the conscious experience of red.

    I can sympathize with wanting there to be some kind of "conscious endpoint" besides the machinery itself, but if there is no physical role hypothesized for it, how will you know what signs to look for? How will you know when you have found it?
    HuggetZukker
    But we do know what we are looking for. We just are unable to find it, so we give up and say things like the Neural Representation is the Conscious Experience. This is worse Superstition than that which you started with. There is zero explanatory power in such a statement. The Hard Problem remains.
  • HuggetZukker
    24
    But we do know what we are looking for. We just are unable to find it, so we give up and say things like the Neural Representation is the Conscious Experience. This is worse Superstition than that which you started with. There is zero explanatory power in such a statement. The Hard Problem remains.SteveKlinko

    You have a hypothesis that, to my understanding, claims it is possible to find something in the brain that transforms physical information or physical processing into qualia.

    How can the hypothesis be falsified? What predictions does the hypothesis make? This is what I mean by knowing what you're looking for.

    I don't think neuroscience should quit studying any aspects of consciousness, including perception and qualia. Any kind of studying of consciousness is a good thing.

    Why should physical processing give rise to a rich inner life at all? It seems objectively unreasonable that it should, and yet it does. — from Chalmers's formulation

    When it is asked how it can be that "physical processing" (something physical) gives rise to "a rich inner life" (something not defined in physical terms), it creates the problem: What kind of physical signs might "rich inner life" leave behind? At some point we must identify something (not just anything, but something which correlates well with "having qualia") as the physical sign we were looking for, since if the thing we are looking for isn't physical, how can it possibly be found by natural sciences?

    Also, "it seems objectively unreasonable that it should" is being asserted without an actual attempt at justification.
  • SteveKlinko
    308
    You have a hypothesis that, to my understanding, claims it is possible to find something in the brain that transforms physical information or physical processing into qualia.

    How can the hypothesis be falsified? What predictions does the hypothesis make? This is what I mean by knowing what you're looking for.

    I don't think neuroscience should quit studying any aspects of consciousness, including perception and qualia. Any kind of studying of consciousness is a good thing.

    Why should physical processing give rise to a rich inner life at all? It seems objectively unreasonable that it should, and yet it does. — from Chalmers's formulation
    When it is asked how it can be that "physical processing" (something physical) gives rise to "a rich inner life" (something not defined in physical terms), it creates the problem, what kind of physical signs might "rich inner life" leave? At some point we must identify something as the physical sign we were looking for, since if the thing we are looking for isn't physical, how can it possibly be found by natural sciences?

    Also, "it seems objectively unreasonable that it should" is being asserted without an actual attempt at justification.
    HuggetZukker
    I simply recognize two Categories of things that happen. First Category is all the Neural Activity that can happen. Second Category is all the Qualia that can happen. It appears that Neural Activity leads to or produces Qualia. You cant just say that the Neural Activity is the Qualia. The Neural Activity is one Category of Phenomenon and the Qualia is a different whole Category of Phenomenon. If they are the same thing then the burden is on you to show how these two disparate Categories can be one and the same thing. Nobody knows how the Neural Activity produces the Qualia. I don't have any theories of how this can happen. There's nothing to falsify. The Hard Problem remains.
  • bert1
    159
    When I presented my thoughts to my friend, he expressed disappointment in me. He said, he had thought I was a smart, rational person, who would reject such superstition. In frustration he argued something to the effect of, "You are you, because who else could be you?!" I couldn't even define my stance in a way that sounded logical, since it was ultimately an illogical stance.HuggetZukker

    I don't like the sound of your friend, sorry. It seems to me quite possible that you could be someone else, and not just because, grammatically, the referent of 'you' is variable. 'Why are you HuggetZukker and not, say, SteveKlinko?' is an interesting question that your friend has not got to grips with. There was a really good thread about indexicals on the old forum. Gone now unfortunately. To answer your friend's question, 'Anyone else could be HuggetZukker.'

    EDIT: I think you had it right in your middle stage of thinking prior to the Occam's Razor cut.

    I've since grown comfortable with the concept of emergent consciousness. I am only made of my physical self, which is undergoing constant change, meaning I'm basically a new me every day. There's no eternal self, and probably no sharp line to draw between conscious and unconscious.HuggetZukker

    Could you give an example of a creature, or a state of being, or structure or function or whatever, which is neither clearly conscious nor clearly not-conscious?
  • Number2018
    157
    the problem of what is consciousness or how is it that you are conscious. This seems to only answer the question of where consciousness come from. My understanding of emergent theories is that they explain how consciousness can arise in a purely physical environment.Hanover
    Daniel Stern' in his book "The Interpersonal World of the Infant" proposed the following stages of a child development: the sequence of the Senses of the Self - they include the Sense of an Emergent Self (birth‐2 months of age); Sense of Core Self (2–6 months); Sense of Subjective Self (7–15 months); Sense of a Verbal Self (15 months on). These Selves are different kinds of conciseness coexisting in an adult's mind as heterogenic components of one complex assemblage.
  • Efram
    46
    Just to throw this into the mix: I know the idea of consciousness being some kind of powerless observer attached to an otherwise computational brain is attractive, but it doesn't work. When you experience qualia, you're also able to make the observation that you're experiencing qualia i.e. knowledge of what qualia is and the fact that you're experiencing it, is accessible to the computational brain (where you're then able to think about it, talk about it, etc). So there has to be some bidirectional interaction between the two, rather than the consciousness just listening in on one-way traffic.
  • SteveKlinko
    308
    Here's what the Inter Mind website says about the two way connection:

    With any Conscious experience there seems to be an implied Conscious Self (CSf) that experiences the experience. One approach is to say that the Conscious experience and the CSf are all part of a single Conscious Mind thing. I think the best thing to say is that we really don't know how to understand this yet, which is ironic because this is what we are.

    The CSf can have Good experiences, Neutral experiences, or Bad experiences. The CSf will try to seek out Good experiences and try to avoid Bad experiences. The CSf must have a Conscious Volition (CV) capability in order to satisfy it's desires. This means that the Inter Mind must not only connect forward from the Physical Mind to the Conscious Mind but must also connect backward from the Conscious Mind to the Physical Mind. With the forward connection the Inter Mind is monitoring the Physical Mind and converting Neural Activity into Conscious experience. With the backward connection the Inter Mind is monitoring the Conscious Mind and converting CV into Neural Activity to move the Physical Body.
  • HuggetZukker
    24
    I simply recognize two Categories of things that happen. First Category is all the Neural Activity that can happen. Second Category is all the Qualia that can happen. It appears that Neural Activity leads to or produces Qualia. You cant just say that the Neural Activity is the Qualia. The Neural Activity is one Category of Phenomenon and the Qualia is a different whole Category of Phenomenon. If they are the same thing then the burden is on you to show how these two disparate Categories can be one and the same thing. Nobody knows how the Neural Activity produces the Qualia. I don't have any theories of how this can happen. There's nothing to falsify. The Hard Problem remains.SteveKlinko

    If you sufficiently deconstruct anything that is actual and thoroughly deconstructible, you will end up with a model of how it works. Such a model makes anything look functional and quantitative in nature (physical, even if you call it by another name), which may be contrary to one's everyday intuition about qualia. If such a functional clockwork* is an unsatisfactory picture, it may well mean that one has no justifiable choice but to adapt one's intuition to that which is superficially unintuitive.

    Of course, I cannot therefore prove that the cause of the conscious experience of qualia is not something other than a clockwork* in nature, unlike everything else which is actual that we know of, since you can't prove a negative.

    *The word "clockwork" carries the outmoded connotation of perfect determinism, which is at odds with quantum mechanics. Therefore, I'd really like to find a similar word, which does not connote determinism at the fundamental level of reality. I hope you can catch my meaning despite this.
  • HuggetZukker
    24
    I don't like the sound of your friend, sorry.bert1

    That's okay :sweat:

    I practically asked for this comment by oversharing. My bad.

    Could you give an example of a creature, or a state of being, or structure or function or whatever, which is neither clearly conscious nor clearly not-conscious?bert1

    I don't have a really good example, sorry. I don't know whether one can currently know anything about this sort of thing. I'm reminded of hypnagogia, which I have by the way experienced myself accompanied by exploding head syndrome and sleep paralysis.

    There is an evolutuionary continuum for abilities such as flight, olfactory sense, social behavior, problem solving, etc. Could the same not (perhaps) be the case for consciousness? Maybe some simple animals have, or hypothetical advanced future artificial intelligences, will have, quasi-consciousness. I'm just speculating!

    Anyone else could be HuggetZukkerbert1

    What does this mean? I used to find the notion meaningful, because I (more or less automatically) thought of a being as having some non-physical essence of being. It led me to ask myself, "why am I me instead of someone else," but hidden in this question was the actual meaning of "by what means and criteria or logic did this spectator (I) enter this particular life?" So there was the assumption of a discrete essence of being built in.

    My current thinking is that to be is to experience, such that one is identical to one's whole experience. Within this framework, X could not experience exactly what it's like to be Y without actually being Y as a consequence. The brain interprets sensory information, steers the body appropriately, and everything it does, including the very important storage of, and access to memory; a prerequisite for the sense of continuous being.

    Then one could still ask "why am I me instead of someone else," but within this framework, and presuming that dead objects also do not have discrete essences of being (another topic), the question drops to the same level of meaning as that of "why is the pencil on my desk not a carrot?" (Or why is A=A?) That is a completely different type of question than "by what means and criteria or logic did this essence (I) enter this particular life?"
  • SteveKlinko
    308
    I simply recognize two Categories of things that happen. First Category is all the Neural Activity that can happen. Second Category is all the Qualia that can happen. It appears that Neural Activity leads to or produces Qualia. You cant just say that the Neural Activity is the Qualia. The Neural Activity is one Category of Phenomenon and the Qualia is a different whole Category of Phenomenon. If they are the same thing then the burden is on you to show how these two disparate Categories can be one and the same thing. Nobody knows how the Neural Activity produces the Qualia. I don't have any theories of how this can happen. There's nothing to falsify. The Hard Problem remains. — SteveKlinko
    If you sufficiently deconstruct anything that is actual and thoroughly deconstructible, you will end up with a model of how it works. Such a model makes anything look functional and quantitative in nature (physical, even if you call it by another name), which may be contrary to one's everyday intuition about qualia. If such a functional clockwork* is an unsatisfactory picture, it may well mean that one has no justifiable choice but to adapt one's intuition to that which is superficially unintuitive.

    Of course, I cannot therefore prove that the cause of the conscious experience of qualia is something other than a clockwork* in nature, unlike everything else which is actual that we know of, since you can't prove a negative.

    *The word "clockwork" carries the outmoded connotation of perfect determinism, which is at odds with quantum mechanics. Therefore, I'd really like to find a similar word, which does not connote determinism at the fundamental level of reality. I hope you can catch my meaning despite this.
    HuggetZukker
    I would look at the generation of Qualia as the final product that results from a chain of processing. The chain starts with the Retina and progresses back to the Visual Cortex areas. During all this there is a good amount of feedback connections that affect the forward processing. But somewhere during the Cortex processing the Qualia is generated. How does this happen? That is the essence of the Hard Problem and the Explanatory Gap. I think this chain of processing is a machine like Deterministic processing even if we don't know how it works at the level of the Qualia. Where the non-Deterministic aspect comes in is when you consider Conscious Volition. This probably also happens in stages but it would originate in the Mind and flow back to the Neurons to produce bodily motion. Science does not know how any of this works. People are mostly just afraid to even think about the possibility of these things. Science just denies Consciousness and Conscious Volition even though it is the 800 pound Gorilla in the Scientific room.
  • HuggetZukker
    24
    Here's what the Inter Mind website says about the two way connection:

    With any Conscious experience there seems to be an implied Conscious Self (CSf) that experiences the experience. One approach is to say that the Conscious experience and the CSf are all part of a single Conscious Mind thing. I think the best thing to say is that we really don't know how to understand this yet, which is ironic because this is what we are.

    The CSf can have Good experiences, Neutral experiences, or Bad experiences. The CSf will try to seek out Good experiences and try to avoid Bad experiences. The CSf must have a Conscious Volition (CV) capability in order to satisfy it's desires. This means that the Inter Mind must not only connect forward from the Physical Mind to the Conscious Mind but must also connect backward from the Conscious Mind to the Physical Mind. With the forward connection the Inter Mind is monitoring the Physical Mind and converting Neural Activity into Conscious experience. With the backward connection the Inter Mind is monitoring the Conscious Mind and converting CV into Neural Activity to move the Physical Body.
    SteveKlinko

    This is considerably more complete than the mode of thinking I came from originally. Though, I don't quite understand why the conscious mind needs to be something, I guess, non-physical? Why might it not all be neural?

    Science just denies Consciousness and Conscious Volition even though it is the 800 pound Gorilla in the Scientific room.SteveKlinko

    I don't think this is quite true anymore. Consciousness Studies have existed since the 1980's, and, I believe, came forth along with the availability of functional MRI scanning. Notably neural correlates are studied to find correlations between conscious experience and patterns of neural activity. There is no doubt plenty more research to do, and new, more sophisticated techniques would be great, but to say that consciousness is being denied seems to me like an unfair assessment.
  • SteveKlinko
    308
    Here's what the Inter Mind website says about the two way connection:

    With any Conscious experience there seems to be an implied Conscious Self (CSf) that experiences the experience. One approach is to say that the Conscious experience and the CSf are all part of a single Conscious Mind thing. I think the best thing to say is that we really don't know how to understand this yet, which is ironic because this is what we are.

    The CSf can have Good experiences, Neutral experiences, or Bad experiences. The CSf will try to seek out Good experiences and try to avoid Bad experiences. The CSf must have a Conscious Volition (CV) capability in order to satisfy it's desires. This means that the Inter Mind must not only connect forward from the Physical Mind to the Conscious Mind but must also connect backward from the Conscious Mind to the Physical Mind. With the forward connection the Inter Mind is monitoring the Physical Mind and converting Neural Activity into Conscious experience. With the backward connection the Inter Mind is monitoring the Conscious Mind and converting CV into Neural Activity to move the Physical Body. — SteveKlinko
    This is considerably more complete than the mode of thinking I came from originally. Though, I don't quite understand why the conscious mind needs to be something, I guess, non-physical? Why might it not all be neural?
    HuggetZukker
    Each of us knows what our own Conscious Mind is by virtue of the Experiences we have but we would be unable to explain it. Consciousness is as I have been saying a Categorically different thing than anything Science knows about in the Physical Universe. This does not mean it can not be a Neural thing. But until Science makes the discovery to explain that to us it makes more sense to keep it a separate thing.


    Science just denies Consciousness and Conscious Volition even though it is the 800 pound Gorilla in the Scientific room. — SteveKlinko
    I don't think this is quite true anymore. Consciousness Studies have existed since the 1980's, and, I believe, came forth along with the availability of functional MRI scanning. Notably neural correlates are studied to find correlations between conscious experience and patterns of neural activity. There is no doubt plenty more research to do, and new, more sophisticated techniques would be great, but to say that consciousness is being denied seems to me like an unfair assessment.
    HuggetZukker
    MRI machines do study the Neural Correlates of Consciousness but MRI machines do not study actual Consciousness at all. Science has known for a hundred years that there is Neural Activity that is related to Consciousness. We can measure Neural Activity all day long and we will still not have explained how that Neural Activity leads to or produces Conscious Experience. Scientists say that the Neural Activity is the Consciousness. So they say they are measuring Consciousness. It is not true to say that measuring Neural Activity with an MRI scan is measuring Consciousness.
  • Dfpolis
    475
    I used to hold the private belief that I was neither my body nor my brain, but an immutable attachment to my mind, which I called "consciousness."HuggetZukker

    But, in fact, you are a unity. You are neither a body/brain alone, nor consciousness alone, but a person who can act both physically and intentionally. You have a metabolism, can move and act in the world, can know and can will. The fact that we abstract different concepts from the one person does not make that person any less a unity than conceiving of a ball as rubber and as spherical makes means it has a rubber part and a spherical part.

    "Why am I me instead of someone else?HuggetZukker

    This has no specific answer. It is merely a singular, contingent fact of reality that you are you and not me. If you ask, "Why do I exist?" the question can mean two things. One is why am I me? The rational answer is that "I am me" i simply a tautology, and so not reducible to anything more fundamental than the principle of identity ("Whatever is, is.") They other interpretation of the question is: "What maintains me in being?" The rational answer to that question looks at contingency and necessity, or potency and actualization, and leads to the existence of a necessary being or pure act.

    Science and philosophy deal with universals, not with singular facts. So, when you ask "Why is this not that?" the only answer is that that is what our contingent experience of reality tells us. But, when you ask a question which is not about singularity, but has a universal aspect, it is rational to expect science and/or philosophy to have something to say in response.

    it disturbed me that I could never know whether anyone else had a spectator inside them: Anyone other than me, I thought, might be a philosophical zombie.HuggetZukker

    Of course we can know that other people ate not zombies, but we can only know it with human knowledge and not with God-like certitude. Almost every bit of knowledge we base our daily lives on is knowledge by analogy. Even in applying scientific principles, we use analogical thinking. The new situation to which we apply our science is never exactly the same as any previous situation, and so we have to rely, not on exact replication, but on the fact that the new situation is analogous to those we have dealt with before.

    So it is with other minds. Unless you are mentally ill, you recognize that other people are analogous to yourself, and as your deliberate acts reflect your intellect and will, so do theirs.

    It had never before occured to me that my unshakable belief could be construed as belonging to the realm of superstition.HuggetZukker

    I would point out that there were two parts to your belief, One is the experience of being a knowing subject in the subject-object relation we call "knowing." That is no superstition, but a datum to be preserved in our reflections about mind, consciousness and personhood. The other part is a construct you added, unsupported by experience, that you are somehow separate from your body. As with my earlier example of the rubber ball, the fact that we can form distinct ideas does not mean that we are thinking of separate "things." "Body" and "mind" are the names we give to different aspects of the same person.

    It was known, before Descartes, that if your brain was damaged (say by a mace blow) that your mind won't work right. So, Descartes's dichotomy between body and mind was ill conceived, even at the time. That does not mean that the mind is simply a matter of neural data processing, for it is not. Still, the contents/information we are aware of depend on neural data processing.

    I am only made of my physical self, which is undergoing constant change, meaning I'm basically a new me every day.HuggetZukker

    Materialists are inclined to base identity and being made of the same "stuff." Of course, that is not the basis of personal identity. Identity is more about the continuation of the same, identifiable process. even if every atom in my body were replaced over the course of my life, I am still the same person I was when I was born, because a single life process links the present me to my infant, even zygote, self. So, while I am evolving and maturing, I am not "new" everyday. I am the continuation of my same self.

    There's no eternal self, and probably no sharp line to draw between conscious and unconscious.HuggetZukker

    That there is no "eternal" you is as much a faith position as your previous construct. Your account offers no rationale for this belief.

    And, there is a very sharp line between being conscious and not. It was drawn by Aristotle inDe Anima iii. What awareness does, that noting else does is make what was merely intelligible, what was only knowable, actually known. There is a huge difference between having and processing information and knowing information, and that difference is bridge when we become aware of (conscious of) intelligibility.

    Now you may say that consciousness is "emergent," or that it is "breathed into us by God." There is no operational difference between these views. What is clear is that awareness, by making the merely intelligible actually known, transforms information from being latent in the physical world to being active in the logical order -- and that transformation is not within the competence of physics to explain, because physics has nothing to say about logical entities,
  • bert1
    159
    I don't have a really good example, sorry. I don't know whether one can currently know anything about this sort of thing. I'm reminded of hypnagogia, which I have by the way experienced myself accompanied by exploding head syndrome and sleep paralysis.

    There is an evolutuionary continuum for abilities such as flight, olfactory sense, social behavior, problem solving, etc. Could the same not (perhaps) be the case for consciousness? Maybe some simple animals have, or hypothetical advanced future artificial intelligences, will have, quasi-consciousness. I'm just speculating!
    HuggetZukker

    My own view is that consciousness could not be an emergent phenemenon, because it does not admit of degrees. All emergent things emerge gradually (to a greater or lesser extent) because of the complexity of the interactions that they emerge from. Consciousness is one of those few concepts that does not seem to admit of degree. Consider your suggested examples, both of them involve experience, and so fall clearly within the definition of 'consciousness'. There is 'something it is like' to be in those states, to use one formulation.

    That is why I asked for examples of intermediate stages between conscious experience and no experience at all. What people usually offer is examples of very vague and diffuse experience, and contrast that with sharp wakeful experience. But both these are still examples of experience. What I'm after is some intermediate stage between experience (no matter how vague and diffuse) and no experience at all. It seems to me that the concept of experience does not allow for this, and that makes any theory of conscious emergence fatally problematic.
  • bert1
    159
    Anyone else could be HuggetZukker
    — bert1

    What does this mean? I used to find the notion meaningful, because I (more or less automatically) thought of a being as having some non-physical essence of being. It led me to ask myself, "why am I me instead of someone else," but hidden in this question was the actual meaning of "by what means and criteria or logic did this spectator (I) enter this particular life?" So there was the assumption of a discrete essence of being built in.

    My current thinking is that to be is to experience, such that one is identical to one's whole experience. Within this framework, X could not experience exactly what it's like to be Y without actually being Y as a consequence. The brain interprets sensory information, steers the body appropriately, and everything it does, including the very important storage of, and access to memory; a prerequisite for the sense of continuous being.

    Then one could still ask "why am I me instead of someone else," but within this framework, and presuming that dead objects also do not have discrete essences of being (another topic), the question drops to the same level of meaning as that of "why is the pencil on my desk not a carrot?" (Or why is A=A?) That is a completely different type of question than "by what means and criteria or logic did this essence (I) enter this particular life?"
    5 days ago
    HuggetZukker

    Sure, I see that the questions we ask (Such as 'Why am I bert1, and not HuggetZukker?) seem to be theory-laden, and perhaps they are.

    Consider, though, how "Bert1 is bert1" is a very different proposition from "I am bert1". I am bert1 tells me who I am in a way that bert1 is bert1 does not.

    Some analyse this in terms purely of language use and see no metaphysical significance in it. I do see metaphysical significance in it.

    Another way of approaching this is to ask "By examining all non-indexical information in the world, can I figure out which one I am?" Again, even if the answer is 'no' there is further argument to be had over the metaphysical significance of that.
  • HuggetZukker
    24


    Sorry about the slow reply. I think I may have been a little condensed and misleading in the OP, so I've taken some time to work on a clarification.

    My own view is that consciousness could not be an emergent phenemenon, because it does not admit of degrees. All emergent things emerge gradually (to a greater or lesser extent) because or the complexity of the interactions that they emerge from. Consciousness is one of those few concepts that does not seem to admit of degree. Consider your suggested examples, both of them involve experience, and so fall clearly withing the definition of 'consciousness'. There is 'something it is like' to be in those states, to use one formulation.

    That is why I asked for examples of intermediate stages between conscious experience and no experience at all. What people usually offer is examples of very vague and diffuse experience, and contrast that with sharp wakeful experience. But both these are still examples of experience. What I'm after is some intermediate stage between experience (no matter how vague and diffuse) and no experience at all. It seems to me that the concept of experience does not allow for this, and that makes any theory of conscious emergence fatally problematic.
    bert1

    You may not have sufficient experience with things which do not admit to degrees to make this assertion. H2O does not admit to degrees, yet is made of H and O atoms, neither of which in separation give rise to water-like substances.

    At any rate, I didn't think about it this way. My stance is a type of weak emergentism, and I wouldn't argue that mininally integrated experience (protoconsciousness) could not occur at the fundamental level of the world, but rather that any significantly integrated experience may well be a case of "much arising from little."

    I see it like this. This is a world in which it's like something to be, and in which there's at least one observable reality, not that these two phenomena must necessarily be of distinct foundations. I propose that the fundamental stuff of the world may have the intrinsic potential to give rise to consciousness through certain mechanisms involving no specific conscious endpoint, without the fundamental stuff having significant consciousness itself, if any at all. This stance avoids asserting that consciousness is exclusively intrinsic to some yet unknown substance(s) (dualism.) It also avoids asserting that consciousness is both fundamental and universal (panpsychism.)

    I am not averse to some forms of panpsychism. Integrated Information Theory (IIT) shows how consciousness higher than protoconsciousness might emerge. IIT is a panpsychist (or maybe panprotopsychist?) theory, and I'm not averse to it. It could well have the answer, but I'm not decided on the matter.
  • HuggetZukker
    24
    Anyone else could be HuggetZukker
    — bert1

    What does this mean? I used to find the notion meaningful, because I (more or less automatically) thought of a being as having some non-physical essence of being. It led me to ask myself, "why am I me instead of someone else," but hidden in this question was the actual meaning of "by what means and criteria or logic did this spectator (I) enter this particular life?" So there was the assumption of a discrete essence of being built in.

    My current thinking is that to be is to experience, such that one is identical to one's whole experience. Within this framework, X could not experience exactly what it's like to be Y without actually being Y as a consequence. The brain interprets sensory information, steers the body appropriately, and everything it does, including the very important storage of, and access to memory; a prerequisite for the sense of continuous being.

    Then one could still ask "why am I me instead of someone else," but within this framework, and presuming that dead objects also do not have discrete essences of being (another topic), the question drops to the same level of meaning as that of "why is the pencil on my desk not a carrot?" (Or why is A=A?) That is a completely different type of question than "by what means and criteria or logic did this essence (I) enter this particular life?"
    — HuggetZukker

    Sure, I see that the questions we ask (Such as 'Why am I bert1, and not HuggetZukker?) seem to be theory-laden, and perhaps they are.

    Consider, though, how "Bert1 is bert1" is a very different proposition from "I am bert1". I am bert1 tells me who I am in a way that bert1 is bert1 does not.

    Some analyse this in terms purely of language use and see no metaphysical significance in it. I do see metaphysical significance in it.
    bert1

    Imagine that you can make two carbon copies of me, but only by destroying the original in the process. Now you can ask whether or not I will survive, and if I will, which one of the copies will I become?

    Prior to meeting each other, each copy will confidently claim to be the original person, since they have identical initial content of memory. I think they are both neither clearly right nor clearly wrong. The copies do not have a shared consciousness, since they have separate brains. They will go on to live separate lives, and are therefore two different persons just sharing an initial composition and an initial strand of personhood.

    Then, did the original me die? It depends on what one means by die, I think, but I'd rather say that I "branched out." As you can maybe tell, in this scenario, I think of each copy's continuous sense of self as arising from the conscious integration of information about selfhood over experiental time. They both feel like they have lived the same initial strand of life, and I think of it that way too.

    The question remains of which one of the copies I became. In which copy did my internal experience continue? I think this has no clear answer, and I think this concept is difficult to wrap one's head around without some suspension of the self concept. Even the best abstractions can lose coherence.

    Obviously, this scenario provokes ethical concerns, but that's another topic. It is very similar to scenarios of consciousness uploading and quatum teleportation. I think it would open a huge ethical can of worms for society if any one of these hypothetical technologies was invented, and I might never feel at ease with them.

    Another way of approaching this is to ask "By examining all non-indexical information in the world, can I figure out which one I am?" Again, even if the answer is 'no' there is further argument to be had over the metaphysical significance of that.bert1

    I think indexicals, in this context, have no reality outside minds, societies, and cultures. The sense of self involves the faculties of several brain regions. It involves embodiment, autobiographical memories, and morality.

    In nature, it was not a single creature learning the self concept at a single point in time, but one or more species, over time, "learned" it. Since the individual specimens were presumably all non-omniscient, non-omnipotent creatures with finite spatio-temporal existences, they could only examine information via interaction in a local reference frame, so the concept of indexicals was an obvious evolutionary move. I would therefore describe indexicals as emergent facts about finite conscious existence.

    Now, this veers into neurobiology, and I'm operating from a layman's point of view here, so definitely don't take my word on any of it.

    In a scenario of examining all non-indexical information, and no indexical information at all, all at once in parallel, I do not think the self concept is even intelligible, or if it is, I figure it could at best take the form of conceiving of everything as part of oneself.

    Your thoughts? Let me hear about arguments to be had over the metaphysical significance.
  • HuggetZukker
    24


    I can't find much in your comment which I think we really disagree upon.

    I am only made of my physical self, which is undergoing constant change, meaning I'm basically a new me every day.
    — HuggetZukker

    Materialists are inclined to base identity and being made of the same "stuff." Of course, that is not the basis of personal identity. Identity is more about the continuation of the same, identifiable process. even if every atom in my body were replaced over the course of my life, I am still the same person I was when I was born, because a single life process links the present me to my infant, even zygote, self. So, while I am evolving and maturing, I am not "new" everyday. I am the continuation of my same self.
    Dfpolis

    I did say this: "I'm basically a new me everyday," but I didn't mean it so literally. I meant that I can no longer see reasons to believe in this immutable, reified essence of being (or let's just say the word - soul) behind the scenes to make us the same in essence from day to day. I certainly didn't mean to reject the lifelong personal identity.

    That there is no "eternal" you is as much a faith position as your previous construct. Your account offers no rationale for this belief.Dfpolis

    With "eternal self" I was referring to that (let's say the word again) soul, which I had previously conceived of as potentially "eternal" in the sense of it not being clearly dependent upon the life process. You're right, I cannot therefore claim, now, in a broader context, that there cannot be an "eternal" self in one sense or another.

    And, there is a very sharp line between being conscious and not. It was drawn by Aristotle inDe Anima iii. What awareness does, that noting else does is make what was merely intelligible, what was only knowable, actually known. There is a huge difference between having and processing information and knowing information, and that difference is bridge when we become aware of (conscious of) intelligibility.

    Now you may say that consciousness is "emergent," or that it is "breathed into us by God." There is no operational difference between these views
    Dfpolis

    I understand the concept that awareness makes the merely intelligible actually known, but I may have presented my stance too coarsely, and I apologize for that. Please see my recent replies to bert1 for an update.

    What is clear is that awareness, by making the merely intelligible actually known, transforms information from being latent in the physical world to being active in the logical order -- and that transformation is not within the competence of physics to explain, because physics has nothing to say about logical entities,Dfpolis

    I can't find where I may have suggested that physics should have the competencies to explain such transformations. I do, however, hold the belief that those instances of consciousness which we are most knowingly familiar with, may as well owe their degrees of freedom and operational capacities to some more fundamental levels of reality, like how a piece of software owes its degrees of freedom and operational capacities to the hardware it runs on.
  • Dfpolis
    475
    I meant that I can no longer see reasons to believe in this immutable, reified essence of being (or let's just say the word - soul) behind the scenes to make us the same in essence from day to day. I certainly didn't mean to reject the lifelong personal identity.HuggetZukker

    But that is all that a soul is. Aristotle define a soul as the actuality of a potentially living body, and Aquinas seconded him. To have a soul is simply to be alive. It is neither some kind of "stuff" nor a "thing" living within us.

    This definition leaves open, as definitions should, the question of whether any aspect of life, such as awareness, survives physical death. If something does, it is not a holistic person, but the remanent of a person.

    If we can be aware of some intelligibility that does not require neural encoding to make itself present, then there is no reason why awareness cannot continue after the brain ceases to function. After reading W. T. Stace, Mysticism and Philosophy, I am convinced that we can be aware of such intelligibility.

    Imagine that you can make two carbon copies of me, but only by destroying the original in the process. Now you can ask whether or not I will survive, and if I will, which one of the copies will I become?HuggetZukker

    One can imagine virtually anything. Imagining a "world" does not mean that it is actually self-consistent, for many "worlds" we may think possible have covert contradictions, For example, one may imagine a world in which life evolved, but in which the physical constants are slightly different than in ours. This seems very possible, but the calculations underlying the fine-tuning argument shows it is physically impossible. So, I give no credence to experiments that cannot be performed, or to experiments in which the result is assumed, not observed. The whole point of experimenting is to allow nature to shock us out of our misconceptions.

    Devoting attention to imagined issues diverts attention from what we actually know and experience -- which alone should be the basis of our theorizing.

    In my view "self" has many concentric meanings (and a few others as well). Starting at one extreme we have what I call our radiance of action (all the things we have acted upon). We see this idea when one says things like "He lives on in his work" or "She will live forever in my heart." Next, we have the self as a holistic organism capable of both physical and intentional acts. Moving in, we come to the self defined by our remembered history. (I am the person who did x and y). This is fragile, even in life, for we can loose our "defining" memories. Finally, we come to the self as the, the center of subjectivity -- as that which is aware and gives or withholds love. Some mystics refer to this as the burglein the little castle which is the last refuge of selfhood. In addition there is the narrative self -- the story, true or false, that we tell ourselves about who we are.

    I think any account of selfhood needs to include all these projections of self.

    I can't find where I may have suggested that physics should have the competencies to explain such transformationsHuggetZukker

    I am not saying you did. I am saying that the physicalist approach is inadequate.
  • HuggetZukker
    24
    I meant that I can no longer see reasons to believe in this immutable, reified essence of being (or let's just say the word - soul) behind the scenes to make us the same in essence from day to day. I certainly didn't mean to reject the lifelong personal identity.
    — HuggetZukker

    But that is all that a soul is. Aristotle define a soul as the actuality of a potentially living body, and Aquinas seconded him. To have a soul is simply to be alive. It is neither some kind of "stuff" nor a "thing" living within us.

    This definition leaves open, as definitions should, the question of whether any aspect of life, such as awareness, survives physical death. If something does, it is not a holistic person, but the remanent of a person.
    Dfpolis

    Thanks for the perspective on philosophical use of the word "soul." Now, I think that, when we deal with Aristotle or Acquinas, we should strive to understand their words in accord with their intents, and that so should we when we deal with other communicators, unless we don't want to understand them. I think you knew in which way I meant the word, so let's move on.

    If we can be aware of some intelligibility that does not require neural encoding to make itself present, then there is no reason why awareness cannot continue after the brain ceases to function. After reading W. T. Stace, Mysticism and Philosophy, I am convinced that we can be aware of such intelligibility.Dfpolis

    Can you clarify what you believe about such knowledge, which does not require "neural encoding?" Do you believe that it might require "encoding" in a way, which cannot be described as "neural"? Does such knowledge continue to relate to something else, in some way, after cessation of brain function, and if so, can you offer an example, even a hypothetical one, of a relation between such knowledge after the cessation of brain function, and something else?

    One can imagine virtually anything.Dfpolis

    That's the great thing about imagination.

    Imagine that you can make two carbon copies of me, but only by destroying the original in the process. Now you can ask whether or not I will survive, and if I will, which one of the copies will I become?
    — HuggetZukker

    One can imagine virtually anything. Imagining a "world" does not mean that it is actually self-consistent, for many "worlds" we may think possible have covert contradictions, For example, one may imagine a world in which life evolved, but in which the physical constants are slightly different than in ours. This seems very possible, but the calculations underlying the fine-tuning argument shows it is physically impossible. So, I give no credence to experiments that cannot be performed, or to experiments in which the result is assumed, not observed. The whole point of experimenting is to allow nature to shock us out of our misconceptions.

    Devoting attention to imagined issues diverts attention from what we actually know and experience -- which alone should be the basis of our theorizing.
    Dfpolis

    Let's stick to the context. bert1 was talking about ways of analyzing personal indexicals. I tried to illustrate mine by putting the principles of my position through a Gedankenexperiment, in order to explore its consequences of relevance to the subject. You're confusing a Gedankenexperiment with a "basis of theorizing." Not everything we say over the course of a discussion is intended to make people's heads explode. I'm not asking anyone to give credence to the thought experiment.

    I am not saying you did. I am saying that the physicalist approach is inadequate.Dfpolis

    But you have not convinced me that the physicalist approach is inadequate. You may say that awareness transforms information from being latent in the physical world into being active in logical order, but "logical order" needs not be founded in a non-physical realm. "Logical order" may well be abstract, but so is the world wide web, yet has no operational existence independantly of running servers. What do you know about "logical order" which suggests that it probably doesn't have a physical foundation?
  • SteveKlinko
    308
    Forget about Neurons for a moment and think about the experiences of Consciousness itself. Think about the experience of the color Red at 670nm Wavelength or any other color. Think about the experience of the Standard A tone at 440Hz Frequency. I mean really, really think about these things. You must come to the point in your observations where you realize that these experiences are Surrogates for the external Physical World phenomena. These are Conscious World phenomena. They exist only in your Conscious Mind. Redness only exists in your Conscious Mind and Wavelength only exists in the external Physical World, There is no Redness in the Physical World but only Wavelength. The Redness is a Surrogate for the Wavelength that the Brain Somehow creates. The experience (let's call it the Toneness) of a 440 tone is something that exists only in your Conscious Mind. The Standard A Toneness is only a Conscious Mind experience and the 440Hz frequency is only an external Physical World phenomenon. There is no Toneness in the Physical World but only Frequency. The Toneness is a Surrogate for the Frequency that the Brain Somehow creates. It is this "Somehow" that is the Hard Problem of Consciousness.

    So there is a whole World of Phenomena that exist in the Consciousness of your Mind. These Conscious Phenomena are in a different Category of Phenomena than any Physical World Phenomena. What is that Redness and Toneness that you have always seen and heard?
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