• Zelebg
    225
    Everything we know in science dealing with the natural phenomena, every law, discovery, explanation... everything is about some kind of motion, ultimately explained by the dynamics of the underlying elements. At the bottom of it all is just plain mechanics, what moves where and whether it will stick or bounce, essentially.

    Subjective experience of consciousness, or qualia, seems to be completely out of reach to be explained by any kind of motion, mechanics, or dynamics. It's something else, and we don't know of anything else. So, the problem is hard because we don't even know the type of answer that could fit here. There is simply no place to start. Or is there?
  • A Seagull
    117


    Consciousness is hard to be treated scientifically, not because it is hard to explain but because it is hard, if not impossible to detect. There is no objective test or measurement that can be applied to consciousness; it is exclusively subjective.

    You might believe that you have evidence that you are conscious, but I have absolutely none.
  • 3017amen
    965


    Indeed, it's beyond all logic. It's a little more difficult for say, the atheist, to square the circle too.
    (That is because most atheists believe logic can solve or explain the nature of our conscious existence.)
  • TheMadFool
    4.3k
    Everything we know in science dealing with the natural phenomena, every law, discovery, explanation... everything is about some kind of motion, ultimately explained by the dynamics of the underlying elements. At the bottom of it all is just plain mechanics, what moves where and whether it will stick or bounce, essentially.

    Subjective experience of consciousness, or qualia, seems to be completely out of reach to be explained by any kind of motion, mechanics, or dynamics. It's something else, and we don't know of anything else. So, the problem is hard because we don't even know the type of answer that could fit here. There is simply no place to start. Or is there?
    Zelebg

    Strange isn't it that consciousness forms part of the system (logic, pattern recognition, etc.) that explains the world and yet it cannot explain itself?

    I see a fundamental problem here which can be better seen within a simplicity-complexity framework.

    I believe that, if nature as it is is true, understanding/comprehension has a top-down structure. In a crude sense the complex can grasp the simple but not the other way round. This isn't an outlandish claim for the evidence is plain to our eyes - humans can study and comprehend other animals but the converse is false. The reason being a difference in complexity.

    Therefore, "understandably", it would be quite difficult for consciousness to comprehend itself.
  • Pantagruel
    414
    Pretty much the entirety of the human sciences, History, Sociology, Psychology, Cognitive Science, Economics, Ethics, Aesthetics are the products of the nebulous thing called consciousness. And yes, these sciences are amenable to "scientific" analysis. Stochastically, and most recently, through the use of non-linear dynamics which it turns out can be used to model a lot of previously stubborn problems in complex open systems. Dilthey dedicated a huge portion of his philosophical career to the formalization of the development of the objective spirit in the human sciences. I guess you could call it the "material mind".

    In any case, consciousness has been studied scientifically and is amenable to scientific study.
  • 3017amen
    965


    Good point. Throw in Metaphysical/Phenomenology into the mix. Like explaining the color red, or the phenomena of Love, or the sense of wonder, or the Will, et al.

    But back to logic; the subconscious and conscious mind working together seems to defy LEM. Of course the infamous example of driving a car while daydreaming and having an accident, rears its ugly head again there... .
  • Pantagruel
    414
    But back to logic; the subconscious and conscious mind working together seems to defy LEM. Of course the infamous example of driving a car while daydreaming and having an accident, rears its ugly head again there... .3017amen
    What is LEM?
    Certainly traditional logic does not currently encompass the newer forms of 'action at a distance' relationships that are emerging in physics and non-linear mathematics. But I'd say that is a limitation of traditional logic, not the "logic of the real."
  • 180 Proof
    448
    Subjective experience of consciousness, or qualia, seems to be completely out of reach to be explained by any kind of motion, mechanics, or dynamics. It's something else, and we don't know of anything else. So, the problem is hard because we don't even know the type of answer that could fit here. There is simply no place to start. Or is there?Zelebg

    If you're not familiar with Thomas Metzinger's work, check out Being No One (or his abbreviated, non/less-technical summary The Ego Tunnel). Also this lecture. Complementary to IIT (below).

    If, however, you're familiar with Metzinger and you find his work insufficient to (begin to scientifically) explain "subjective experience of consciousness", make (a) case for rejecting Metzinger's 'phenomenal self model', etc.

    Consciousness is hard to be treated scientifically, not because it is hard to explain but because it is hard, if not impossible to detect.A Seagull

    This wiki article summarizes neuroscientists Tononi's & Koch's information integration theory (IIT), with citations of papers published in (mostly) peer-reviewed journals, which predicts(?) that "consciousness" (i.e. degrees of self-awareness) can be detected. Complementary to Metzinger's work (above). Thoughts?
  • 3017amen
    965
    What is LEM?Pantagruel

    Law of Excluded Middle or commonly referred to law of non-contradiction.

    Because Being is in the state of becoming [human beings] there is always 'middle ground' in consciousness. Formal ( a priori) logic doesn't like middle ground. It's like saying both A and B are true at the same time. Like morphing between consciousness and subconsciousness while driving a car daydreaming.

    Also, when one is in the state of daydreaming, what is one's conscious reality(?). Similar to the idea of sleepwalking...
  • Pantagruel
    414
    Why is being in the state of becoming? It sounds like a variation on Zeno's paradox, which is based on the error of assuming that both distance and time are infinitely divisible, while time is continuous. Yes, everything moves through time, this doesn't stop it from being what it is at any particular moment though?
  • Pfhorrest
    592
    Law of Excluded Middle or commonly referred to law of non-contradiction3017amen

    Technically those are different things. Non-contradiction says it can’t be both true and false. Excluded middle says it can’t be anything but true or false. The two together are the principle of bivalence.
  • Zelebg
    225

    In any case, consciousness has been studied scientifically and is amenable to scientific study.

    The only type of answer we can give is in terms of motion, something moves somewhere and then poof, that's consciousness. That's all we can do. And panpsychism, but even there it's about motion as to how it is all supposed to come together.

    We have the tools to explain consciousness as much as we have to explain god. We have no words to even point anywhere near it, except to call it "magic" and pretend that means something. We do not know if it's supposed to be a process, configuration, state, property, illusion... and even if we knew, all those are again based on some type of motion and mechanics.

    Consciousness doesn't seem to be anywhere near any of those categories. It's something else, it's out of our dimension, perhaps literally, and these types of sci-fi non-verifiable theories actually make more sense than anything scientific based on bumping of atoms and electrons, or quantum randomness bubbling sentience out of its ass.
  • Pantagruel
    414
    The only type of answer we can give is in terms of motion, something moves somewhere and then poof, that's consciousness.Zelebg

    That's right. Poof, there's mathematics. Poof, there's history. Consciousness is doing a LOT. You are absolutely right in that coming up with a comprehensive "science" around all that is a daunting task. Dilthey wrote literally thousands of pages on it.... ;)
  • Pfhorrest
    592
    The hard problem of consciousness is hard because it's an illusory problem so there is no solution, only dissolution. The mere having of a first-person experience isn't some special phenomenon that occurs only in humans and so needs an explanation, it's just a basic feature of existence. What's interesting about humans is the particulars of our experience, which correlate with our behavior, both being a product of our function, which is the subject of the "easy" problem of consciousness, which is actually much harder than the so-called "hard" problem; though the hardness is not philosophical but rather scientific.
  • Gnomon
    300
    Subjective experience of consciousness, or qualia, seems to be completely out of reach to be explained by any kind of motion, mechanics, or dynamics.Zelebg
    The problem of Consciousness is "hard" only for those who think in materialistic terms of "motion, mechanics, or dynamics". If instead, we think of Causation, Relationships, and Systems, we can trace the evolution of Qualia back to its origins in the Big Bang -- not in the sense of a physical explosion, but of metaphysical Creation. Consciousness is indeed "amenable to scientific study". But not to materialistic study.

    Ironically, the physical account of the Big Bang sounds like an act of magic : "Poof, a universe from nothing!" But it's what the magician does before the "Voila!" that makes all the difference. "Vive la difference!" What I'm talking about is immaterial Information/Enformation/Causation. :wink:
  • 180 Proof
    448
    The hard problem of consciousness is hard because it's an illusory problem so there is no solution, only dissolution. The mere having of a first-person experience isn't some special phenomenon that occurs only in humans and so needs an explanation, it's just a basic feature of existence. What's interesting about humans is the particulars of our experience, which correlate with our behavior, both being a product of our function, which is the subject of the "easy" problem of consciousness, which is actually much harder than the so-called "hard" problem; though the hardness is not philosophical but rather scientific.Pfhorrest

    :clap: :cool:
  • Zelebg
    225


    God did it! What a satisfying answer, let us pretend that explains everything about us and our world, so we are only left to explain it all over again for the gods and their worlds. Why make the problem worse for no reason at all?
  • 3017amen
    965
    Technically those are different things. Non-contradiction says it can’t be both true and false. Excluded middle says it can’t be anything but true or false. The two together are the principle of bivalence.


    When consciousness, as a mysteriously emerging property in itself, morphs into subconscious, creates part of the unexplained hard problem. The daydreaming while driving example is one phenomenon. Two brains are acting as one to create the same or 'one' sense of awareness level.

    Hence a person could crash because one thinks they're not driving at all. So I'm driving, but yet not driving.
  • Pantagruel
    414
    When consciousness, as a mysteriously emerging property in itself, morphs into subconscious, creates part of the unexplained hard problem. The daydreaming while driving example is one phenomenon. Two brains are acting as one to create the same or 'one' sense of awareness level.3017amen

    Isn't this just a lot of rationalization to account for distracted driving? I'm having a hard time seeing this as exemplifying a cognitively significant phenomenon.
  • 3017amen
    965
    Isn't this just a lot of rationalization to account for distracted driving? I'm having a hard time seeing this as exemplifying a cognitively significant phenomenon.Pantagruel

    There is a distinction between distraction and daydreaming, yes?

    Consider yourself driving to work while your subconsciousness is putting you in an island by the beach. Then, all of a sudden you crash as a result. At that moment of daydreaming about the island, were you at the beach while driving at the same time? Was it your consciousness driving, while your subconsciousness was dreaming? Or, was your subconsciousness driving and your consciousness dreaming?

    Hence; I'm driving and not driving.
  • Pantagruel
    414
    here is a distinction between distraction and daydreaming, yes?3017amen

    I wouldn't say so. If you are ascribing some kind of independence to subconscious phenomena that's a pretty large leap. Undoubtedly buried 'subconscious' processes do affect consciousness, but these are in principle identifiable, even 'editable' - that's the premise of the original Freudian psychoanalytic method.
  • 3017amen
    965
    If you are ascribing some kind of independence to subconscious phenomena that's a pretty large leap.Pantagruel

    How did you arrive at that conclusion? I was merely talking about the hard problem of consciousness. Or, the unexplained illogical nature of same.

    Now 'independent existence' is another question. For example, the metaphysical Will in nature (Schopenhauer), or the 'independent' language of mathematics, and/or other metaphysical phenomenon that we experience/percieve in life....is that what you mean?
  • Pantagruel
    414
    How did you arrive at that conclusion?3017amen

    That the subconscious is independent? That was because you specifically made reference to the subconscious doing the driving.
  • bert1
    330
    The hard problem is hard because it assumes emergence.
  • 3017amen
    965


    It's not independent, that's the concern/problem. It is perceived as independent yet not independent. Further, it's dependent on each other to function properly in the broader context of cognition viz the human condition.
  • Pfhorrest
    592
    Emergence is only one proposed solution to the hard problem. Dualistic accounts address the same problem and have their own share of difficulties. The remaining option is panpsychism, which I advocate above.
  • Pantagruel
    414
    The hard problem is hard because it assumes emergence.bert1

    Why is emergence a problem? Emergence is a well known property of complex physical systems.
  • Pfhorrest
    592
    Emergence in philosophy of mind means something different from that. In this context it means that phenomenal consciousness, something defined as irreducible to any functional properties, emerges in certain arrangements of things that do not themselves have even any precursor to it, as though by magic. Functional properties can emerge from complex arrangements of other things with simpler functional properties, but if some wholly new irreducible thing is supposed to emerge, you’re talking magic. The alternatives are either the “new properties” don’t really exist (eliminativism), or precursors to them already existed in the component pieces (panpsychism).
  • Pantagruel
    414
    Actually that is the generic definition of emergence in systems philosophy. Systems philosophy is based on the validated premise that systems of all varieties exhibit similar characteristics.
  • 180 Proof
    448
    Functional properties can emerge from complex arrangements of other things with simpler functional properties, but if some wholly new irreducible thing is supposed to emerge, you’re talking magic.Pfhorrest

    So this sentence, which is not reducible to my/your neurological activity, emerges only by "magic"? And the flavor of steak or salmon or tofu or chocolate, which can't be reduced to biochemical photosynthesis (let alone to the constituent quark interactions in the atomic nuclei of its molecules) at the bottom of the food chain, emerges only by "magic"? Or that a melody played through a harmonica emerges only by "magic" from a diaphragm?

    :chin:

    Clarify what you mean by "magic".
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