• Gnomon
    301
    Just to clarify, I think consciousness is form of integrated unified experience. I think experience is universal. Mind (a less unified and integrated form of experience) is widespread in nature and “consciousness” is a fairly rare form of mind and experience. I thus fall into the category of panexperientialism or a form of Whiteheadian process philosophy which some classify as a variety of panpsychism.prothero
    This sounds similar to my own worldview, except for some of the outdated terminology. "Experience" and "Consciousness" and "Panpsychism" are terms that are normally defined from the human perspective. So I have substituted the less anthro-morphic term "Information" as a reference to the fundamental element of the universe --- by contrast to "occasions of experience". Hence, "Information" is universal in Nature, but "Consciousness" is a limited and late-emerging phenomenon of evolution.

    Panpsychism is often criticized for implying that atoms are aware of their environment in the same manner that humans are. But human Consciousness necessarily includes Self-consciousness. Ironically, some physicists are guilty of suggesting that sub-atomic particles are self-aware, when they say metaphorically that a particle "feels" the weak or strong forces. That's OK, as long as the term is not taken literally. But such literalism is why some New Agers assume that non-biological crystals have a sort of spooky Mind power, or that they can communicate with the universe as a whole.

    So, just to be clear, I call my version of Panpsychism "Enformationism", which asserts that both rocks and rabbits are composed of bits of Information, but only the rodents are somewhat self-aware.


    Integrated Information Theory : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Integrated_information_theory

    Criticism of IIT : https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/cross-check/can-integrated-information-theory-explain-consciousness/
  • Mww
    1.2k
    if I experience something that you don't, how then do I know it exists (...) Said another way, how does one know if that experience exists if one doesn't experience it himself?3017amen

    So you’re asking:
    .......how I would know the thing of your experience exists......
    (By experiencing that thing myself, which makes no promise on agreement as to what the thing is, except that there is a thing)

    ........or are you asking how do you know the thing of your experience exits.....
    (From the experience itself. It is impossible to experience that which does not exist.)

    .....or are you asking how do you know experience exists?
    (The existence of experience is a nonsensical notion. Experience is the termination of a particular rational process, and not an existence qua existence. Existence is a category of modality by which all sense objects are conditioned, which make experience possible.)

    ......or are you asking how does one know someone else’s experience exists without the one having the same experience as the someone else?
    (Wouldn’t matter; false dichotomy. I can’t ever know anyone’s experiences. The very best I can do is judge it impossible he had no experience whatsoever, given the same set of empirical circumstances for the both of us.

    There’s no profit in thinking experience is something that exists. Existence is a condition only of sensible objects, and experience is very far from a sensible object.
  • Zelebg
    226
    There’s no profit in thinking experience is something that exists.

    Surely experience exist in a sense you are either conscious or not. And so do unicorns exist as much as thoughts exist, not actually as material objects, but virtually as mental objects. But, does Pacman exist, where and how?

    Anyway, I don't see what does that have to do with anything. Can you summarize what argument you are having and what is the point you're making?
  • Wayfarer
    8.9k
    Ontology (from the Greek word "ontos", meaning "being") is the study of being, as in existence, or reality.Pfhorrest

    The definition of ontology -
    'The compound word ontology ("study of being") combines onto- (Gr. ὄν, on, gen. ὄντος, ontos, "being; that which is") and -logia (Gr. -λογία, "logical discourse"), where 'on' is the present tense participle of the verb εἰμί, eimí, i.e. "to be, I am".

    So 'ontology' is the 'study of the nature of being' - which has a different meaning to 'the study of what exists', although it's a hard distinction to draw.
  • Pfhorrest
    596
    The first sentence of Wikipedia on Ontology and the source for that both mention existence as a part of the subject matter.
  • Mww
    1.2k
    Mww
    There’s no profit in thinking experience is something that exists.

    Can you summarize what argument you are having......
    Zelebg

    I’m assuming the comment I was responding to implied that experience has some kind of existence. In the proposition, the logical judgement, “experience is something that exits”, experience is the subject, exists is the predicate. The argument countering that implication is grounded on the premise that....no matter how I cognize a thing, even to the completion of it so that my cognition represents the thing exactly as it is, in this case experience, I add nothing whatsoever to it, by stipulating “existence” to be the concept contained in the predicate.

    Just by cognizing experience as subject in the first place presupposes its possibility, to which my conceptions describing it, belong. Otherwise....how could I be cognizing that thing? That in itself is sufficient reason to claim there is no profit in granting “existence” as a predicate in a logical judgement. It’s the same argument for the conceptions “necessity”, “possibility”, and any other pure a priori conception; none of them add anything to the subject.

    “Experience is something that is possible”. “Experience is something that is necessary”. Big whoop, right? Tautological truths, but affording no information whatsoever for supplementing my understanding of experience in and of itself, which, when it comes right down to it, has no business being thought of as a thing anyway.

    ........and what is the point you're making?Zelebg

    And the point is: Nope, no way...not on even a good day in hell...can a category be used to underwrite a cognition not originated in sensibility. We can think whatever we want about “experience”; we just don’t gain anything by saying it exists. Furthermore, given that ontology is the doctrine by which existence is studied, and existence is not a necessary condition for experience....what does that say about ontology itself, with respect to the human rational system, which is the sole determinant factor for what experience is?
  • Wayfarer
    8.9k
    The first sentence of Wikipedia on Ontology and the source for that both mention existence as a part of the subject matter.Pfhorrest

    Look at what it says under 'etymology', footnote 2. I'm not picking nits, this is important to the term. It's the contemplation of 'the nature of being' with first-person connotations that are generally bracketed out of scientific analysis of what exists.
  • Gnomon
    301
    There’s no profit in thinking experience is something that exists. Existence is a condition only of sensible objects, and experience is very far from a sensible object.Mww
    Unfortunately, defining "experience" and "existence" has been a subject of debate in philosophy for millennia. Scientists typically try to limit experience to Empirical or A Posteriori Knowledge gained from sensory impressions. But Philosophers and Theologians often include Theoretical or A Priori (tautological) knowledge in their discussions of Consciousness. So, whether there is profit in talking about the ontological "existence" of Experience may depend on your worldview : Materialism or Idealism. Is unproven, but reasonable, Theoretical knowledge a form of non-sensory Experience? Some call Reason the sixth sense.

    The confounding problem here is that human beings are capable of acting as-if concepts that exist only in the mind (e.g. fictional characters) are real. Apparently, posters in chat rooms for Game of Thrones or Lord of the Ring seem to gain some profit from imaginary beings. That's not to mention all the various gods of world religions that are treated as-if real in some sense. So, apparently there is Material "profit" and Ideal "profit". If we were discussing a material object here, your assertion would be accurate. But Consciousness is not that kind of thing. :wink:
  • Pfhorrest
    596
    Look at what it says under 'etymology', footnote 2Wayfarer

    Where it says “on” means “to be”, or “I am”? Yeah, the Greek first-person form of “to be” is the same as its infinitive, unlike English. That doesn’t mean that ontology is about being in the first person, which is somehow different from existing (which can also be in the first person: “I exist”). I’m going to need to see something more substantial than that to suggest that being and existence are somehow profoundly different philosophical concepts. So far this just sound like those people who make a big deal about the difference between unalienable rights and inalienable rights.
  • Zelebg
    226

    And the point is: Nope, no way...not on even a good day in hell...can a category be used to underwrite a cognition not originated in sensibility.

    For some strange reason instead of consciousness we are discussing the meaning of the words in English dictionary. It’s like everyone has their own dictionary and then the argument goes: “my English dictionary is better than yours”.


    I’m assuming the comment I was responding to implied that experience has some kind of existence.

    More importantly you need to explain what do you assume the word “existence” means by specifying your definition and applying it to some examples like these:

    Do words exist?
    Do algorithms exist?
    Does Mickey Mouse exist?
    Do thoughts and ideas exist?

    You seem to be making pointless and self contradicting distinction I already addressed. Surely experience exist in a sense a person is either conscious or not. And so do unicorns exist as much as ideas exist, not actually as material objects, but virtually as mental objects.


    We can think whatever we want about “experience”; we just don’t gain anything by saying it exists.

    Like what, what do you gain by saying clouds or crocodiles exist?

    Existence of experience is what defines the difference between conscious and unconscious human being, the difference between a robot and sentient machine, and between just a plant, or just an animal and sentient beings.

    Clearly we gain the definition of sentience as "subjective experience" and the ability to not contradict ourselves when talking about abstract objects by acknowledging both modes of existence: mental and material, i.e. virtual and actual.

    Perhaps you wish to claim experience does not exist and we are all just robots simply programmed to go around claiming to be experiencing sensations, emotions and cognition, while in fact it's not even an illusion, but a lie. That is the position your statement amounts to.
  • bert1
    330
    Wayfarer might be making a distinction between being and being-something. Unformed vs formed substance, or something like that. I prefer not to use 'being' in that way (because it's confusing) but I know some do.
  • Zelebg
    226
    At this point in our understanding the only sensible way to talk about consciousness is in the context of artificial sentience and minimalistic terms of the most necessary and essential aspects of its existence. It’s sensible because it’s pragmatic and likely a better place to find useful description for objects and qualities in the mental realm, than by reverse engineering any kind of living nervous system, considering we lack significant understanding even of the processes in a single cell organism.

    We need the basics, like “self-replicating molecule” did for our understanding of the word “living”. But first of all it must be explored what kinds of answers are we ready to accept, what kind of answers do we even expect and whether those expectations are, well, not just realistic, but whether they are even meaningful to begin with.

    It seems to me that some people want to go more north of the north pole, they want to know things about consciousness without really knowing what it is they want to know, and that kind of curiosity is impossible to satisfy.
  • Mww
    1.2k


    You: Existence of experience is what defines the difference between conscious and unconscious human

    Me: Experience is what defines the difference between conscious and unconscious human

    (Sigh)
  • Zelebg
    226

    More importantly you need to explain what do you assume the word “existence” means by specifying your definition and applying it to some examples like these:

    Do words exist?
    Do algorithms exist?
    Does Mickey Mouse exist?
    Do thoughts and ideas exist?
  • Zelebg
    226

    You: Existence of experience is what defines the difference between conscious and unconscious human
    Me: Experience is what defines the difference between conscious and unconscious human

    What are you trying to say, what is the point of all this? Your statement is incomplete and thus meaningles unless interpreted in a generous way.

    It's not simply 'experience' that defines the difference between conscious and unconscious human, the experience can be present or not, in other words experience can exist or not in a living human being at some point in time. Why am I stating the obvious and why is this not obvious to you?!?
  • Mww
    1.2k
    Scientists typically try to limit experience to Empirical or A Posteriori Knowledge gained from sensory impressions. But Philosophers and Theologians often include Theoretical or A Priori (tautological) knowledge in their discussions of ConsciousnessGnomon

    Good point, although I would add that a priori knowledge is not necessarily tautological. That is, synthetic judgements afford knowledge a priori, but are not tautologies, re: mathematics.
    ——————-

    The confounding problem here is that human beings are capable of acting as-if concepts that exist only in the mind (e.g. fictional characters) are real.Gnomon

    Hmmmm.....I’d suggest the confounding problem is humans treat acts of the mind that are real as actually existing. Thoughts, ideas, intuitions, concepts are real, but only to the mind, and not to sensibility. And real to the mind only as hypotheticals in a speculative theoretical epistemology. Sensibility is impossible without objects that impress it, and thought is impossible without objects that impress it, but the impressions are different, so the reality of the objects absolutely must be different.

    One man’s semantic quibble is another man’s logical consistency, n’est ce pas?
  • Mww
    1.2k
    you need to explain what do you assume the word “existence” means by specifying your definitionZelebg

    Oh fercrissakes, no I do not. I don’t give a crap how existence should be defined, in order to show the concept “existence” as it is already defined, or at least understood, adds nothing to the conception “experience”, in a synthetic a priori logical judgement.

    This represents a long-standing principle of basic epistemological metaphysics, at least since Aristotle.

    And as my ol’ buddy Forest said......and that’s all I have to say about that.
  • 3017amen
    965


    ….thanks Mww, those were all good answers to my questions!

    Since I see you're a movie buff, I suppose one central issue is:

    Do you believe we were relegated to an incidental and seemingly pointless role in an indifferent cosmic drama, like unscripted extras that have accidentally stumbled onto a vast movie set? Or do you see science suggesting that the existence of conscious organisms is a fundamental feature of the universe?
  • Zelebg
    226

    Another robot, what the... ?!
  • Mww
    1.2k


    I’ll go with the former, indifferent cosmic drama. Nice wordsmithing, by the way. I guess I should say I don’t consider myself anything all that special, especially on a cosmic scale. Doesn’t matter that there’s only one of me when there are 7B pretty much just like me right now, and several billion in total.

    Besides.....we’re not doing anything Nature hasn’t allowed us to do.

    Science is correct enough, in saying, given the right conditions, objects like us would be inevitable. But the infinitesimal minutia of those necessary conditions is unfathomable, so given all that, how could we NOT be here. So saying we’re inevitable doesn’t say much.

    Be really cool, though, to get to a similar eco-system, evolved from a similar set of conditions.....and see no evidence of life at all. In which case, I guess we would indeed be special. Slightly less cool would be a similar eco-system evolved under similar conditions and find an entirely different kind of life. Then we go back to being not so special.
  • Zelebg
    226

    Oh fercrissakes, no I do not. I don’t give a crap how existence should be defined, in order to show the concept “existence” as it is already defined, or at least understood, adds nothing to the conception “experience”, in a synthetic a priori logical judgement.

    I’m simply asking you to explain what you mean before I can say you’re speaking gibberish and have no idea what you are talking about.

    Your ability to understand words and speak English is under suspicion when you keep avoiding to address any of the points directly or answer a simple question like this: Do algorithms exist? Does Mickey Mouse exist?


    This represents a long-standing principle of basic epistemological metaphysics, at least since Aristotle.

    Looks more like it represents some misunderstanding of yours. But let us suppose what you are trying to say is not gibberish and actually makes some sense, in some context at least. What is the point, how is it important, why did you say it, what does it have to do with anything?
  • 3017amen
    965
    Be really cool, though, to get to a similar eco-system, evolved from a similar set of conditions.....and see no evidence of life at all. In which case, I guess we would indeed be specialMww

    So, if you are thinking consciousness evolved from mindless, purposeless forces; how did self-awareness evolve from the universe?
  • Mww
    1.2k


    Oh, maaannn.....this isn’t the ol’ “we’re all stardust” argument, is it? Say it isn’t so, Mr. Bill!!!

    Nahhhh....I wouldn’t go so far as to say consciousness evolved from mindless, purposeless forces. Consciousness evolved because we are capable of thinking it. If one wishes to say that because we are comprised of physical constituents, then everything about us has to do with those constituents, including our capacity for thought, then he wouldn’t be wrong as much as his explanations for it would be insufficient. And it is only insufficient because our knowledge is limited.

    We think we possess consciousness and we deem ourselves self-aware because we haven’t figured out any other way to explain how it appears that way. We are only allowed to theorize our own internal condition because science can’t yet prove otherwise. And if it should be the case science is incapable of proving the complete physicality of our rational system, then our proper theories with respect to them are at least legitimate, without claiming to be true.
  • Pantagruel
    414
    The gravitational constant is a fact. Likewise, so is self-awareness. Just because you cannot explain it you do not therefore have a right to dispute its facticity.
  • Zelebg
    226
    ...how did self-awareness evolve from the universe?

    The same way the periodic table of elements evolved from the universe. It's one of the many possibilities that can be built with LEGO bricks of the universe. Except these LEGOs also assemble themselves, so the best is to ask the bricks.
  • 3017amen
    965
    Except these LEGOs also assemble themselves, so the best is to ask the bricks.Zelebg

    If matter makes the clay that makes the bricks, what consiousness made the matter?

    (Or maybe the easier question is how did matter make consciousness?)
  • Pantagruel
    414
    If matter makes the clay that makes the bricks, what consiousness made the matter?3017amen

    Complex-adaptive systems routinely self-organize into stable states that are nevertheless far from equilibrium and exhibit interesting new features.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Complex_adaptive_system
  • 3017amen
    965


    Thanks ...but I must have missed something, it doesn't explain how consciousness came from matter ?
  • Pantagruel
    414
    Thanks ...but I must have missed something, it doesn't explain how consciousness came from matter ?3017amen

    Because it is a fundamental property of systems across every domain to self-organize and exhibit new properties.
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