• RogueAI
    143
    We're pretty sure Dark Matter is a particle of some sort. Dark Energy may be the energy of space itself. How does materialism even begin to explain how moving electrons across synaptic gaps in certain ways gives rise to conscious experience? The only things I've been seeing lately are vague handwavings about integrating information or lame attempts to define conscious experience out of existence. There's been no actual progress on how non-conscious stuff can produce consciousness since Descartes.

    Since we've known that brains produce consciousness for a long time now, shouldn't we be closer to an actual explanation? At what point do we begin to question the premise "brains produce consciousness"? Do we reject it if there's no explanation in 100 years? 1,000 years? 10,000 years*?

    *by then the question will no doubt be "Does X produce consciousness?" where X is whatever machine we've invented to replace brains.
  • tilda-psychist
    53
    We're pretty sure Dark Matter is a particle of some sort. Dark Energy may be the energy of space itself. How does materialism even begin to explain how moving electrons across synaptic gaps in certain ways gives rise to conscious experience? The only things I've been seeing lately are vague handwavings about integrating information or lame attempts to define conscious experience out of existence. There's been no actual progress on how non-conscious stuff can produce consciousness since Descartes.

    Since we've known that brains produce consciousness for a long time now, shouldn't we be closer to an actual explanation? At what point do we begin to question the premise "brains produce consciousness"? Do we reject it if there's no explanation in 100 years? 1,000 years? 10,000 years*?

    *by then the question will no doubt be "Does X produce consciousness?" where X is whatever machine we've invented to replace brains.
    RogueAI

    i agree. This is one of the reasons i've embraced pan-psychism. There are over 11 forms of pan-psychism.
  • Isaac
    2.5k
    At what point do we begin to question the premise "brains produce consciousness"? Do we reject it if there's no explanation in 100 years? 1,000 years? 10,000 years*?RogueAI

    Well I presume we'll be abandoning it right now. The fact that some random poster on an Internet forum finds the arguments to be "lame" is, after all, the main standard of modern science. Newton's notions of gravity were famously abandoned after Ilovetherovers57 called them "a bit off".

    And now I see someone else here "agrees", well... It's a wonder the professional cognitive scientists, neuroscientists, philosophers and psychologists who've been diligently investigating conciousness for the past few decades, don't just hang up their coats right now after such a damning counter-argument.
  • Pop
    217
    Dealing with consciousness is exceedingly difficult, even for an idealist, but for a materialist maybe impossible.

    Materialism is historically rooted in the aversion of consciousness. This was the domain of the soul, and the turf of the clergy, so off limits to anybody with a sense of self preservation.

    Materialists tend to focus on finding a physical source of consciousness – seemingly hoping that they can deal with consciousness outside of personal conscious experience – Ha ha ha – good luck with that one!!

    That is impossible! The only way to deal with consciousness is through personal introspection, as each consciousness is absolutely unique! Each consciousness is personally constructed absolutely – even if two people share the same DNA, and share the same experience, they must occupy a different space – and so posses a different consciousness, in the absolute sense. When two people share the same DNA, experience and space – they are the same person! The only way that consciousness exists is in the particular, and we all have a particular consciousness – our own particular consciousness. This is the only one we have access to, and the only one we are really interested in, as this is the one that creates our personal reality!


    However this is where dealing with consciousness gets prickly. As we all know life can be traumatic. The simplest and most immediate way to deal with trauma is to suppress and deny it. To deal with consciousness however, you have to deal with all the nitty gritty that forms it, including the things that you would rather not deal with. And some people cannot, or choose not to, and this has to be respected, but it can result in the suppression and denial of consciousness outright.

    There are still other problems besides.....I could go on for some time.

    The result is a cultural aversion and blindness around the area of consciousness.

    But for a philosopher this is an unacceptable situation. I like to think we partake in life through the prism of our consciousness – I don’t see how anybody can argue with this, or get around it. Ultimately this has to be dealt with, as consciousness is there prime centre in absolutely every philosophical consideration.
  • 180 Proof
    1.4k
    How does materialism even begin to explain how moving electrons across synaptic gaps in certain ways gives rise to conscious experience?RogueAI
    This question is red herring because it conflates materialism-as-epistemology (i.e. scientific paradigm) with materialism-as-ontology (i.e. metaphysical category) wherein the so-called "explanatory gap" only arises for the latter (thus, 'panpsychism' is often a proposed metaphysical Woo-of-the-Explanatory Gap) and does not arise for the former (due ro conceptual shifts like 'eliminativism' which dissolve the so-called "Hard Problem"). Disambiguated or not, materialism is (mostly) irrelevant vis-à-vis "conscious experience". Rather

    i. What does "conscious experience" do for an entity? (re: functionality)

    ii. What does an entity do with "conscious experience"? (re: utility-adaptivity)

    iii. If the answers are negative (e.g. epiphenomenalism), then what explains the illusion of "conscious experience" and its persistence? (re: facticity)

    b. Substitute "conscious INexperience" (e.g. trance, 'autopilot') for "conscious experience" in questions i-iii above.

    c. Substitute "UNconscious experience" (e.g. blindsight, dreaming) for "conscious experience" in questions i-iii above.

    (This old thread rambles on further with relevant recommendations.)
  • Pop
    217
    There would be ways to do it for sure, but where would a materialist end up philosophically if they tried? What do you think?
  • Wayfarer
    9.8k
    i. What does "conscious experience" do for an entity? (re: functionality)180 Proof

    Enables it to write the above.

    ii. What does an entity do with "conscious experience"? (re: utility-adaptivity)180 Proof

    Write the above, or any other entry that it sees fit to write, for whatever reason.

    b. Substitute "conscious INexperience" (e.g. trance, 'autopilot') for "conscious experience" in questions i-iii above.180 Proof

    I presume you wrote the above consciously, unless you're a trance medium?

    Relevant trivia: MS Word spits out paragraphs of random text on entry of rand=(). But it never varies.
  • 180 Proof
    1.4k
    Recommended in the link provided (re: Thomas Metzinger, Patricia Churchland, Guilio Tononi, et al).

    @Wayfarer :roll:
  • Harry Hindu
    3.3k
    How does materialism even begin to explain how moving electrons across synaptic gaps in certain ways gives rise to conscious experience? The only things I've been seeing lately are vague handwavings about integrating information or lame attempts to define conscious experience out of existence. There's been no actual progress on how non-conscious stuff can produce consciousness since Descartes.

    Since we've known that brains produce consciousness for a long time now, shouldn't we be closer to an actual explanation? At what point do we begin to question the premise "brains produce consciousness"?
    RogueAI
    I would agree that any attempt to define consciousness out of existence, or to say that it is an illusion, would be lame. However, I don't see the "integrating information" concept as vague handwaving. I don't know about you, but I get the distinct feeling of being informed while being conscious and that thoughts are a type of information that can be processed as the act of thinking.

    i. What does "conscious experience" do for an entity? (re: functionality)180 Proof
    It informs an entity.

    ii. What does an entity do with "conscious experience"? (re: utility-adaptivity)180 Proof
    It uses the information to find food and mates, and avoid predators.

    b. Substitute "conscious INexperience" (e.g. trance, 'autopilot') for "conscious experience" in questions i-iii above.180 Proof
    Conscious experience seems to be a requirement when learning something. Once we have learned it, we can perform it as if on "autopilot". Think about learning to walk, ride a bike and driving.

    c. Substitute "UNconscious experience" (e.g. blindsight, dreaming) for "conscious experience" in questions i-iii above.180 Proof
    Our brains seem to be in the habit of filling in gaps in information that our senses aren't providing, but were meant to provide but aren't as a result of faulty sensory organs or having those connections between the senses and the conscious part of the mind minimized when asleep. We still wake up when touched or hearing a loud noise, so our senses aren't completely turned off when asleep, for survival reasons.
  • Kenosha Kid
    622
    There's been no actual progress on how non-conscious stuff can produce consciousness since Descartes.RogueAI

    This is obviously incorrect. There are entire fields of study dedicated to this that are pretty mature now.
  • Daniel
    120
    How does materialism even begin to explain how moving electrons across synaptic gaps in certain ways gives rise to conscious experience?RogueAI

    single electrons do not move across synaptic gaps, it is neurotransmitters which pass a signal from neuron to neuron.
  • bert1
    492
    It's a wonder the professional cognitive scientists, neuroscientists, philosophers and psychologists who've been diligently investigating conciousness for the past few decades, don't just hang up their coats right now after such a damning counter-argument.Isaac

    Some of them agree with RogueAI. His view does not stand in opposition of to the views of the overwhelming majority of academics studying consciousness. There is no settled position on this such that opposition to it is by default unreasonable.
  • Isaac
    2.5k
    Some of them agree with RogueAI. His view does not stand in opposition of to the views of the overwhelming majority of academics studying consciousness. There is no settled position on this such that opposition to it is by default unreasonable.bert1

    I didn't make any claims to the contrary. My snipe was at the pointlessness of a thread OP which contained nothing more than "none of materialist positions seem right to me, when are they going to give up?". The point was why on earth would anyone consider giving up just because the positions don't seem right to @RogueAI?
  • bert1
    492
    The point was why on earth would anyone consider giving up just because the positions don't seem right to RogueAI?Isaac

    Oh, I see. I think you both have a point. I'd like materialists to keep working on it, even though I suspect they will not find the solution they are after. They may discover other interesting things in the process. For example, Tononi might have stumbled on a good theory of identity (rather than consciousness), in my view. That is to say, the entities that have a unitary consciousness are those entities that integrate information.
  • Isaac
    2.5k
    I suspect they will not find the solution they are after.bert1

    I suspect it's more a case of them not finding the solution you are after (not you personally, the general 'you'). Much of the debate around conciousness centres on people getting totally hung up on their own feeling about conciousness and expecting everyone else's theories to explain their personal intuitions. The point about the whole 'conciousness is an illusion' analogy though is to question those very intuitions. We either discard the possibility out of hand or we have to accept that the content of our intuitions may be wrong.
  • Marchesk
    3.6k
    We either discard the possibility out of hand or we have to accept that the content of our intuitions may be wrong.Isaac

    Usually in philosophy, one is not hemmed in by an either-or. People are frustratingly good at finding alternatives. There are many approaches to consciousness, so it's decidedly not a binary proposition. We don't have to accept or discard anything because it's not a settled matter.
  • Pfhorrest
    2.5k
    There are over 11 forms of pan-psychism.tilda-psychist

    @Baden I’m pretty sure tilda here is christian2017 evading his ban, as this “11 forms” thing is a stock phrase he used to repeat over and over.
  • RogueAI
    143
    Who gets triggered by discussions about consciousness?
  • Pop
    217

    Thanks for the link. I’m familiar with Tononi, but I’ll check out the other two.

    I like Roger Penrose and co cellular microtubule proposition. If this pans out to be true then it will be the case that entangled and integrated quantum states give rise to consciousness.
    One entangled and integrated quantum state gives rise to a future entangled and integrated quantum state. But we would be back at the same point - dose an entangled and integrated quantum state have free will? But at least we are not introspecting!

    Thumbs up - my emoticons don't work.
  • Wayfarer
    9.8k
    Since we've known that brains produce consciousness for a long time now, shouldn't we be closer to an actual explanation?RogueAI

    I don't think that is known. Alva Noe says 'Consciousness is the fact that we think and feel and that a world, the world shows up for us.' Thinking of 'consciousness' as 'something that is produced by the brain' is a remnant of the materialist canard, 'the brain secretes thought like the liver secretes bile'.

    The process by which that conclusion was reached was more a matter of history than science, per se.

    In 2003, there was a landmark book published, Hacker and Bennett, The Philosophical Foundations of Neuroscience. Hacker is an Oxford philosopher and considered a leading scholar on Wittgenstein, Bennett the author of many papers and books in neuroscience. (Worth reading the review here.) In their view, most neuroscience falls into the 'mereological error', i.e. attributing to a part -namely the brain - what is really only attributable to an agent or person. So, brains don't think, reflect, plan, etc - persons do, and obviously whilst a functioning brain is central to that, it is only ever a part of the story.
  • Enai De A Lukal
    112


    Indeed; that someone can make such a statement in light of e.g. modern cognitive neuroscience is... pretty bizarre. Pretty incredible how far these fields have come just in the past few decades alone.
  • Wayfarer
    9.8k
    his is obviously incorrect. There are entire fields of study dedicated to this that are pretty mature now.Kenosha Kid

    Cognitive science is not philosophy of mind. But this paper on the neural binding problem and the subjective unity of perception does explicitly mention David Chalmer's 'hard problem of consciousness', acknowledging that 'this version of the neural binding problem really is a scientific mystery at this time. '
  • Enai De A Lukal
    112


    Modern cognitive science is an interdisciplinary paradigm that includes philosophy (of mind) as a crucial contributor. And in any case, both the scientific study of the brain (and its relation to mental states/processes) and philosophical accounts of mind are obviously far advanced from Descartes time, such that RogueAI's assertion was... not particularly credible, shall we say.
  • Wayfarer
    9.8k
    I dispute that they're philosophically 'more advanced' - and, how would that be measured? I agree cognitive science, evolutionary biology and neuroscience are hugely more advanced, but they're the 'objective sciences' by definition. What they really say about the age-old issue of the nature of mind or of consciousness or of being is another matter.

    I think there are very wide-spread and deep-seated assumptions that progress has been made on these fronts, but they don't necessarily address the hard problem of consciousness, which is why David Chalmer's paper on that is still relevant.

    And, have a glance at the neural Buddhists.
  • Enai De A Lukal
    112


    I agree that its a judgment call, but the idea that we've been running in circles (i.e. in philosophy) for 400 years since Descartes and that literally everything written since then has no value or has contributed nothing to the philosophical discussion strikes me as completely ludicrous... not least because of the fact that some of that work includes credible critiques of Descartes himself- Descartes own account of the mind is far from perfect or unassailable, that would be quite depressing if we have made no progress from that. I mean really, Descartes of all people is where you identify our philosophical accounts of the mind as having plateaued? And this is all granting the highly implausible notion that none of the results of the scientific study of the brain (and especially its relation to the mind) have any philosophical significance at all. If that's what you sincerely believe, okay, but good luck actually defending or supporting any of that.
  • Wayfarer
    9.8k
    I mean really, Descartes of all people is where you identify our philosophical accounts of the mind as having plateaued?Enai De A Lukal

    You see how this question, and your post, is framed against the (I suggest unconscious) assumption of historical progress?

    I'm looking at the issue through the perspectives of philosophy of mind, and also history of ideas. Descartes himself introduced some highly problematic perspectives which have had huge influence on subsequent thought - that book I mentioned by Hacker and Bennett discusses this at length. Daniel Dennett, and all of the current philosophers of mind, discuss Descartes and cartesian dualism at length, because these are like the architectonics of modern thinking.

    Do look at some of the references I've provided above, they are all directly relevant to this subject.
  • Enai De A Lukal
    112


    I'm not assuming historical progress- I've read and studied a non-negligible amount of the philosophy we're talking about (i.e. philosophy of mind post-Descartes), and regard some of it as quite important and valuable (and certainly as having contributed positively to the discussion- i.e. progress). And again this is even granting the wildly implausible notion that no scientific results since then have any philosophical relevance either. Just not a serious or credible assertion, looks closer to trolling (or just a statement of ignorance) to me.
  • Wayfarer
    9.8k
    nd again this is even granting the wildly implausible notion that no scientific results since then have any philosophical relevance either.Enai De A Lukal

    I didn't say they don't have philosophical relevance. What I said was that cognitive science is not the same subject of philosophy of mind. But as you can only respond with ad homs, then obviously I'm wasting my time.
  • Enai De A Lukal
    112


    And I pointed out that modern cognitive science is an interdisciplinary approach that includes the philosophy of mind and so this distinction doesn't do what you apparently think it does.

    And in any case if any scientific results since Descartes have any philosophical relevance (they do), and anyone's bothered to write about it in that connection (they have, at great length), then we've made progress in that discussion in virtue of that alone. So, again, not a serious assertion, and I honestly feel a little silly having engaged with it even this much.
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