• Zelebg
    117

    As far as I'm concerned you need to 'feel' to be conscious, and you need a body to 'feel'. Ergo you cannot have a 'computed consciousness' and compare it to human consciousness.

    Is it not actually possible to put people in a state where they can not feel anything and yet are still conscious? In other words, what exactly is wrong with completely being unaware of your feelings/emotions and still be conscious of your thoughts only?


    Consciousness itself is a relatively ambiguous term so if you start extending it to items like oranges, rocks, trees or cats, then we're going to start to disagree about the technical use of 'consciousness' very quickly.

    If someone said to me their robot is sentient, I don't see any other way to settle the matter but to question the subjectivness or qualia of robot's awareness/experience. And if they showed me what I showed you, I would have no argument and would have to agree with them.

    This may not point to anything about what consciousness is and how it actually works, but I think it then at least points to where further distinctions need to be made. Only, I do not see where.
  • I like sushi
    1.7k
    Is it not actually possible to put people in a state where they can not feel anything and yet are still conscious? In other words, what exactly is wrong with completely being unaware of your feelings/emotions and still be conscious of your thoughts only?Zelebg

    For me that is a contradiction of terms because ‘thought’ necessarily requires ‘feeling’/‘emotions’.

    If someone said to me their robot is sentient, I don't see any other way to settle the matter but to question the subjectivness or qualia of robot's awareness/experience. And if they showed me what I showed you, I would have no argument and would have to agree with them.Zelebg

    I guess the issue here is more about what you take as a reasonable ruler with which to measure such things. Many items can appear alive and conscious which we know to be otherwise (a simple movie theatre shows this).

    Think of this as something in line with comparing a painting of an apple with an apple. The appearance of ‘apple’ isn’t denied in either sense yet I’d only be inclined to eat one of them (unless I had a taste for canvas and dried paint).
  • Zelebg
    117

    For me that is a contradiction of terms because 'thought' necessarily requires 'feeling'/'emotions'.

    I don't see why, but I see the opposite is true. I would say there is no emotion and no sensation without thought. I can imagine suddenly existing in a completely empty universe, inspecting myself and thinking how I don't feel any emotion or sensation, and I would still be conscious of that state I'm in.

    I can not imagine sensory signals or inner emotions to have any meaning or 'reality' in their intended context without some kind of understanding or appreciation that sensation or emotion is actually own.
  • Zelebg
    117
    There is something about emotions that makes them closer to thinking than sensing. It's like feeling desire is closer to thinking 2+2=4 than tasting sour, even though we say to 'feel' both sensations and emotions.

    Of course both emotions and thoughts originate 'inside' while sensations from 'outside', but is there more to this similarity. Do we think we feel, maybe we feel we think, or feel we feel, or think we think? What is the difference between thoughts and emotions?
  • Chris Hughes
    178

    Rupert Sheldrake! My man! Didn't think I'd see him mentioned here, though...
  • Chris Hughes
    178
    Sheldrake hypothesises, if I understand it right, that consciousness is not in the brain. (Hence his antenna metaphor.) He suggests that it's in a field. The field is beyond time and space.
  • Gnomon
    224
    Is there any other referrence to "antenna" in relation to mind or sentience you know of?Zelebg
    I'm sure there are plenty of "antenna" references out there but I haven't taken the time to look for them, since I think they are taking the analogy too literally.

    A similar concept is that of the HIndu "Akashic Field" theory, which Ervin Laszlo has updated as a reference to the universal Quantum Field. Yet again, I can accept it as a metaphor, but not as a mechanism. It proposes that the field is like a universal mind, including memory, that humans can tune into. I don't know how you could verify such a theory empirically. I'm much more interested in how the human brain generates consciousness. And Christof Koch's book is the latest and best I've seen on that topic.
  • Gnomon
    224
    And the definition of consciousness is: "act of self-observation".Zelebg
    FWIW, I think feedback loops and self-reference are necessary, but not sufficient, to produce consciousness. Again Koch's book gets into the details of how that works.
  • Gnomon
    224
    Below is a personal computer hardware configuration for which I claim is conscious, self-aware, and free willing.Zelebg
    The subtitle to Koch's book, The Feeling Of Life Itself, is Why Consciousness is Widespread but Can't Be Computed.
  • Zelebg
    117

    And the definition of consciousness is: "act of self-observation".
    - Zelebg
    FWIW, I think feedback loops and self-reference are necessary, but not sufficient, to produce consciousness. Again Koch's book gets into the details of how that works

    Then the answer has to be behind the meaning of the word "observation". And I hate one of quantum mechanics most senseless interpretations actually makes full sense here, namely 'wave function collapse' as a consequence of observation.

    That we converged to this point from widely separated fields of natural investigation is not insignificant. But how funny if this turned out to be the answer we could then perhaps even be able to read thoughts and watch dreams. We would know how it works, but we would still not really know why, and I am afraid that would again leave us feeling the mystery was not actually solved at all.
  • Chris Hughes
    178

    I'm sure there are plenty of "antenna" references out there but I haven't taken the time to look for them, since I think they are taking the analogy too literally. — Gnomon
    Thats why it's a metaphor not an analogy. :wink:
    A similar concept is that of the HIndu "Akashic Field" theory, which Ervin Laszlo has updated as a reference to the universal Quantum Field. Yet again, I can accept it as a metaphor, but not as a mechanism. It proposes that the field is like a universal mind, including memory, that humans can tune into. I don't know how you could verify such a theory empirically. — Gnomon
    Perhaps experiments could be designed to test that fascinating theory. The problem is that no "respectable" scientists would want to challenge the current it's-all-in-the-brain paradigm.
  • Gnomon
    224
    Perhaps experiments could be designed to test that fascinating theory. The problem is that no "respectable" scientists would want to challenge the current it's-all-in-the-brain paradigm.Chris Hughes
    Actually, there are plenty of respectable scientists who are challenging the materialist paradigm. But their tests are necessarily thought experiments, which don't carry much weight with empirical scientists.

    For example, Bernardo Kastrup is a computer scientist who has worked at CERN in Switzerland. He is a proponent of an Idealist explanation for Consciousness. Based on his Artificial Intelligence research, he concludes that, "one universal consciousness gives rise to multiple, private but concurrently conscious centers of cognition," Along with two psychiatry researchers, he explains in a Scientific American magazine article that the unitary Cosmic Mind produces individual human minds by analogy with Dissociative Identity Disorder.

    I'm not so sure about the validity of that comparison, but he has arrived at an Idealist worldview similar to mine, but coming from a different direction. His Universal Consciousness concept also has some similarities to Akashic Field and Quantum Field theories. Which are likewise approaching the Hard Problem of Consciousness from divergent directions.

    Could Multiple Personality Disorder Explain Life, the Universe and Everything? :
    https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/could-multiple-personality-disorder-explain-life-the-universe-and-everything/

    Reality is Ideality : http://bothandblog5.enformationism.info/page17.html

    Thats why it's a metaphor not an analogy.Chris Hughes
    "The brain is like an antenna" is an analogy. "The brain is an antenna" is a metaphor. And metaphors are too often taken literally, leading to erroneous conclusions. :wink:
  • Gnomon
    224
    That we converged to this point from widely separated fields of natural investigation is not insignificant.Zelebg
    I too have noticed a distinct convergence of opinion on Consciousness in recent years, with non-materialistic interpretations. But there is still plenty of divergence on the details.
  • Chris Hughes
    178

    ... an Idealist worldview similar to mine... — Gnomon
    Despite having had for some time a keen (amateur) interest in all this (what consciousness is, anti-reductionism, etc), I'd somehow never come across - until now - the philosophical/metaphysical notion of Idealism, meaning (according to Wikipedia) an assertion of the primacy of consciousness as the origin and prerequisite of material phenomena.

    Having read and agreed with radical biologist Rupert Sheldake, whose views, I'd say, coinicide with Idealism, I’d be interested to know - if it's not a diversion - what you (and others here) think of his morphic resonance idea, which hypothesises that self-​organising systems inherit memory and habit from previous similar systems.

    He suggests that societies have social and cultural morphic fields which embrace and organise all that resides within them. He connects morphic resonance with Jung's collective unconscious.

    I'd say the totality of Sheldrake's nested fields amounts, perhaps, to the same thing as universal consiousness.
  • Galuchat
    684
    What do Doctors mean when they say, "The patient regained consciousness two hours ago."?

    Consciousness (mass noun): aware (perceptive and cognisant) and sensitive (responsive to stimuli) mind-body conditions.

    Consciousness (noun): conscious (actively aware and physiologically unconstrained) mind-body condition.

    So, affect and cognition proceed from consciousness(mn), and from these, all other mental conditions and actions. Objectivity (body and environment) is consciousness input, and acts (corporeal actions) are consciousness output.
  • Gnomon
    224
    Having read and agreed with radical biologist Rupert Sheldake, whose views, I'd say, coinicide with Idealism, I’d be interested to know - if it's not a diversion - what you (and others here) think of his morphic resonance idea, which hypothesises that self-​organising systems inherit memory and habit from previous similar systems.Chris Hughes
    Years ago, I was impressed by Sheldrake's theory of Morphic Resonance, when he observed that cells of growing plants appear to know what to do, and where to go, in order to construct the characteristic final form of its species. It's as-if the cells were following a blueprint. Since then, he has broadly expanded his theory into some pretty far-out notions, such as "the feeling of being stared at". But empirical Science is not content with weaving stories around "as-if" metaphors. Instead, it looks for "as-is" mechanisms.

    Although his thesis is ultimately Idealistic, in the sense of Plato's eternal Forms, and it has a role for Information similar to my own worldview, I'm not convinced that his interpretation is correct. It provides a rationale for psychic and magical phenomena, that I think are better explained in terms of human psychology, and statistical probability. Admittedly, his metaphors are easier for the average person to grasp, but I'm currently pursuing my own abstruse Theory of Everything that I call Enformationism. Unfortunately, that TOE has no place for magic in the real world. :smile:
  • Chris Hughes
    178

    Enformationism
    So...intelligent design?
  • Chris Hughes
    178

    Found this:
    I am in the process of building upon my Enformationism cosmological thesis... in order to show why an abstract First Cause is necessary to explain the existence of the physical universe with its metaphysical inhabitants. I have a name for the new website, Enformity... "Enformity" is a coined term defined as the essential quality of an enformed system (e.g. a designed universe as opposed to an accidental universe). — Gnomon
  • Gnomon
    224
    So...intelligent design?Chris Hughes
    No. Intelligent Evolution.
    http://gnomon.enformationism.info/Essays/Intelligent%20Evolution%20Essay_Prego_120106.pdf

    "Enformity" is a coined term defined as the essential quality of an enformed system (e.g. a designed universe as opposed to an accidental universe) — Gnomon
    Enformy :
    In the Enformationism theory, Enformy is a hypothetical, holistic, metaphysical, natural trend or force, that counteracts Entropy & Randomness to produce complexity & progress. [ see post 63 for graph ]
    1. I'm not aware of any "supernatural force" in the world. But my Enformationism theory postulates that there is a meta-physical force behind Time's Arrow and the positive progress of evolution. Just as Entropy is sometimes referred to as a "force" causing energy to dissipate (negative effect), Enformy is the antithesis, which causes energy to agglomerate (additive effect).
    2. Of course, neither of those phenomena is a physical Force, or a direct Cause, in the usual sense. But the term "force" is applied to such holistic causes as a metaphor drawn from our experience with physics.
    3. "Entropy" and "Enformy" are scientific/technical terms that are equivalent to the religious/moralistic terms "Evil" and "Good". So, while those forces are completely natural, the ultimate source of the power behind them may be supernatural, in the sense that the First Cause logically existed before the Big Bang.
    http://blog-glossary.enformationism.info/page8.html
  • Gnomon
    224
    But how funny if this turned out to be the answer we could then perhaps even be able to read thoughts and watch dreams. We would know how it works, but we would still not really know why, and I am afraid that would again leave us feeling the mystery was not actually solved at all.Zelebg
    Researchers have been "reading thoughts" and "watching dreams" for several years using fMRI to display brain-function patterns, and artificial intelligence to interpret those neural patterns as "correlates of consciousness". That's amazing, but objectively observing someone else's subjective consciousness will remain a Holy Grail for years to come.
  • Chris Hughes
    178

    ... a hypothetical, holistic, metaphysical, natural trend or force, that counteracts Entropy & Randomness to produce complexity & progress.
    Very interesting! May I refer you to my thread, "The significance of meaning" which asks if DNA could be the result of random events?
  • PoeticUniverse
    781
    correlates of consciousnessGnomon

    I've barely started reading Koch's 'The Feeling of Life Itself', and can already see that a certain part of the brain has been identified to be involved with consciousness, this at least localizing thee 'mystery'.
  • Zelebg
    117

    Very interesting! May I refer you to my thread, "The significance of meaning" which asks if DNA could be the result of random events?

    It was hardly random once ecosystem settled into stable cycles, then chemical affinity to spontaneously form lipids and self-replicating polymers make DNA and the rest of evolution rather inevitable.

    The mystery is not random chance, but chemical affinity and predestination - the possibility of DNA has apparently been built in the properties of subatomic particles since the beginning of time.
  • petrichor
    239
    is consciousness a type of feeling at all, and if not, then what in the world is it?Zelebg

    It seems to me that, rather than being a feeling, consciousness is the condition for the possibility of feelings. For example, something or someone not conscious cannot feel pain. Someone conscious might be able to. Pain is a feeling. Pain depends on consciousness. Consciousness does not depend on pain. Pain, and other feelings, are contents of consciousness, or forms of conscious experience. But consciousness is not itself a form of experience. Rather, it is experientiality itself.

    The understanding of the meaning of the word consciousness seems to vary somewhat from person to person. Some people seem to think of consciousness as being not the very capacity to have experiences, but rather a kind of self-representation, or even mental verbal activity or something. I understand that word to refer to subjectivity itself. Consider the basic difference between something we tend to think is not conscious and someone who is conscious. A rock might provide the right intuition about something non-conscious. It is objective. We can all agree that it exists. We can measure its properties. But is there something it is like for the rock itself to be a rock? Does it experience something? Is it, in other words, a subject of experience in addition to being an object?

    When you push on a person, you expect that there is "somebody" in there experiencing what you do to this object. But when you throw a rock, do you have a similar expectation about the rock? I am not really asking here whether rocks have experiences. We can't really know. And that's another discussion. But I think it gets at the right intuition about what consciousness is, as a rock seems the most natural example of something most of us think of as not being conscious.

    What consciousness really is though and how it comes about is incredibly mysterious and unexpected to me. I am surprised that it exists. First, I am surprised that anything exists at all. Second, I am surprised that what exists experiences itself as existing and wonders what it is. To me, this is astonishing.
  • Zelebg
    117

    First, I am surprised that anything exists at all. Second, I am surprised that what exists experiences itself as existing and wonders what it is. To me, this is astonishing.

    It's maddening.

    “You are an aperture through which the universe is looking at and exploring itself.”
    ― Alan Watts
  • Chris Hughes
    178

    chemical affinity to spontaneously form lipids and self-replicating polymers make DNA
    There is speculation about this, but no one yet knows how DNA came about. Those who brush aside this problem and its larger question are bending truth.
  • Chris Hughes
    178
    Perhaps DNA came into existence because the universe (or multiverse if you like) has meaning, perhaps deriving from universal consciousness.
  • PoeticUniverse
    781
    neural patternsGnomon

    The Feeling of Life Itself
    From Koch and myself in ( )

    Physics describes but extrinsic causes,
    While consciousness exists just for itself,
    As intrinsic, compositional,
    Informational, whole, and exclusive,

    Providing distinctions toward survival,
    But causing nothing except in itself,
    As in ne’er doing but only as being,
    Leaving intelligence for the doing.

    The posterior cortex holds the correlates,
    For this is the only brain region that
    Can’t be removed for one to still retain
    Consciousness, it having feedback in it;

    Thus, it forms an irreducible Whole,
    And this Whole forms consciousness directly,
    Which process is fundamental in nature.
    (Or the brain’s private symbolic language.)

    The Whole can also be well spoken of
    To communicate with others, (as well as
    Globally informing other brain states,
    For the nonconscious knows not what it made.)
  • Gnomon
    224
    I've barely started reading Koch's 'The Feeling of Life Itself', and can already see that a certain part of the brain has been identified to be involved with consciousness, this at least localizing thee 'mystery'.PoeticUniverse
    Yes, but Koch still maintains that Consciousness is a holistic function of the body/brain. The "correlates of consciousness" are locations on a map, not the Terrain itself.

    The Whole can also be well spoken of
    To communicate with others, (as well as
    Globally informing other brain states,
    For the nonconscious knows not what it made.)
    PoeticUniverse
    The conscious whole is experienced as the "feeling of being", but is represented to others as the Self -- symbolized as a homunculus : a Mini-Me. The Self functions as the CEO of the corporate body, accepting or rejecting policies (ideas) and plans of action (feelings) submitted by the sub-conscious VP's in charge of various sub-functions of the body. Only the CEO is conscious of the whole system, but even then, only in a general, superficial sense. The Boss may not know exactly where those ideas and feelings came from, but merely judges : "sounds good to me", or "no, that will conflict with other goals".
  • Gnomon
    224
    Very interesting! May I refer you to my thread, "The significance of meaning" which asks if DNA could be the result of random events?Chris Hughes
    The Chinese Room thought experiment illustrates that randomness can simulate intelligence (as-if), but cannot create meaning (as-is). So, while DNA most likely evolved via Random processes, any meaning encoded in the chemistry is a product of Selection, which implements Intention.

    Chinese Room : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_room
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