• Paine
    542
    Really, I see the hard problems as a direct critique at Materialism. Materialism proposes that everything is material or abstractions of material. There is no room for "inner aspects" because that itself is not material. The map becomes confused with the territory. Or perhaps, the territory has no room for the specific kind of territory and we are back to square one.schopenhauer1

    Chalmer's work does not insist upon figuring out the limit of the physical but is interested in building models where consciousness is the function of something we are given phenomena to explore. The 'physical' is not a given packet of phenomena.

    The problem is 'hard' because of correspondence. The success of scientific methods is that models fit the objects being pursued by restricting what is counted as an event. Our given experience of being conscious beings is an event. Can it be understood in the way other phenomena are understood? Or attempted to be understood?
  • Joshs
    3.7k
    The problem is 'hard' because of correspondence. The success of scientific methods is that models fit the objects being pursued by restricting what is counted as an event. Our given experience of being conscious beings is an event. Can it be understood in the way other phenomena are understood? Or attempted to be understood?Paine

    This may be why it is hard, but it is a problem in the first place not because the model is restricted to physical objects and excludes subjective events, but because the model understands the physical object in a limited manner which prevents it from unifiying the objective and the subjective.
  • Paine
    542

    The phenomena must be measurable, and events must be repeated to check models for viability. That such phenomena yield results of this kind is no promise of a clear separation between 'subject and object'.

    And if the process of investigating this issue doesn't help separate the two qualities, it won't help us unify them either.
  • Bird-Up
    83
    Evolution doesn't provide the best/only answer to a challenge. It was just the first good answer to come along; whatever that happened to be. Anything that improves on the previous solution will be accepted. So when someone says "because evolution" to the hard problem, I think it is like they are asking: "Why can't the way it currently exists be one of the possible solutions to the challenge?"

    Our brain includes many different parts. Some of those parts need to compete with each other; some have no need for competition. For example, a beating heart is always superior to a non-beating heart. So our brain does not bother to give us conscious control over our heartbeat.

    Other areas of the brain need to compete with each other. Fear and hunger, for example. Sometimes the best strategy for life is to eat a slice of pizza. At other times, the best strategy for life is to run from a Grizzly bear. If our brain cannot sustain fear and hunger at the same time, then how does it break the tie? What does our brain use to settle these competing urges?

    One solution would be an administrative center to the brain (our consciousness). Let's say you are having a picnic. Eating a slice of pizza alone in the woods, as one normally does. The pizza is satisfying your hunger when a Grizzly bear walks out from behind the bushes. All of a sudden you have lost your sense of hunger. Your consciousness is reprioritizing different areas of the brain. Your fear center is being amped up and made more active. The area that controls hunger is being inhibited and put on a back burner. If this reprioritization helps you survive, then the conscious brain has proven its evolutionary worth.

    The hard problem could be summarized by asking: "Why doesn't this administrative reprioritizing of different brain areas happen in the dark? Why can it be experienced?"

    I would have two responses to that question:

    1) You could say it does happen in the dark. The world does not experience your consciousness. As humans, we spend our entire lives struggling to guess what kind of conscious thought patterns are bouncing around in someone else's head. We do not get a chance experience the conscious thought of others firsthand. In that sense, the conscious mind is carrying on in the dark without anyone taking notice.

    2) Why can't an administrator have a larger image of all the tasks taking place, if said image helps them better complete their work? As individuals, each one of us is one of those summarized images. A centered perception sensing communication from other areas of the brain. An area of the brain whose purpose it is to see the brain itself. If the brain functions more efficiently when it sees itself, then the assumption that it should "take place in the dark" is incorrect. Maybe there was no hard problem thousands of years ago. But the human brain tried looking in a mirror once, and things have worked out better ever since. We experience our consciousness because not every kind of brain function can take place in the dark. How exactly do you propose that the conscious center of the brain be aware of other areas of the brain without becoming conscious in the process? What is the obvious alternative version of inter-brain awareness, if you are not in favor of the strategy that nature has chosen in this instance?

    It makes you wonder ... are you the only conscious process taking place inside your brain? Maybe there are more consciousnesses happening in other areas of your brain. They could have been there your entire life. You, blissfully unaware of the other yous; and them, blissfully unaware of you. Each consciousness assuming themselves to be in the driver's seat, yet curiously lacking in total self-control.
  • SolarWind
    202

    From the logic there is no experiment to separate subjective from objective. We only have a "similarity principle", which says that what is objectively more similar to us, is also subjectively more similar to us.

    Monism and dualism share the same problem. They have to determine the limit above which complexity subjectivity arises.
  • Harry Hindu
    4.9k
    If only some relations have a qualitative aspect, then it is that which still has to be explained. You cannot get around this. Whether "process", "event" or "object" or combination thereof.. the problem remains as none of that entails qualitative aspects.schopenhauer1
    To answer your question, you should answer 180's.

    My answer to 180's question would be a type of relation composed of sensory information. Sensory information is a relation between perceiver and perceived. Not all relations are composed of a perceiver and perceived. Rocks do not have eyes, ears and a working memory, therefore it is not possible for a rock to be a component (the perceiver) of a qualitative relation. It can only participate in a qualitative relation as what is perceived by a perceiver.
  • SolarWind
    202

    That is not true. A rock absorbs sunlight, heats up on this side and processes this information through heat conduction. How do you know it doesn't feel that?
  • Joshs
    3.7k
    The phenomena must be measurable, and events must be repeated to check models for viability. That such phenomena yield results of this kind is no promise of a clear separation between 'subject and object'.

    And if the process of investigating this issue doesn't help separate the two qualities, it won't help us unify them either.
    Paine

    Unification in the case of the subjective and objective aspects of experience does not mean combination, it means inseparability. I follow writers like Dan Zahavi here:

    “Ultimately, what we call “reality” is so deeply suffused with mind- and language-dependent structures that it is altogether impossible to make a neat distinction between those parts of our beliefs that reflect the world “in itself” and those parts of our beliefs that simply express “our conceptual contribution.” The very idea that our cognition should be nothing but a re-presentation of something mind-independent consequently has to be abandoned.”
  • Paine
    542

    I agree that making a neat distinction is impossible. The question I hear Chalmers asking is how does one practice science in this environment. The use of models presumes the presence of beings that function according to their nature. There is value in the distinction, even if it does not unlock the secrets of all creation.
  • Joshs
    3.7k
    The use of models presumes the presence of beings that function according to their nature. TPaine

    Or a model can allows us to pragmatically anticipate the future course of events that never duplicate themselves but nonetheless change in ways that can reveal a certain inferential compatibility (the way a thing continues to be the ‘same’ differently). No notion of fixed kinds, beings or natures is necessary in order to do this.
  • Harry Hindu
    4.9k
    That is not true. A rock absorbs sunlight, heats up on this side and processes this information through heat conduction. How do you know it doesn't feel that?SolarWind
    What reason would there be for a rock to feel that? Rocks don't possess goals of seeking out a nominal temperature, therefore there would be no reason for it to feel hot or cold.

    Humans do have goals of survival and achieving homeostasis, therefore it would need to be able to use information about it's body's temperature (feel hot or cold) to then be able to engage in behaviors that achieve such goals of homeostasis or nominal body temperatures.

    You don't need to necessarily feel hot for your body to sweat. Sweating is an involuntary reaction to high temperatures, but sweating will only go so far in solving the problem. Being able to react by moving into the shade, or getting out of the kitchen, could be more useful but would require one to feel the heat to then produce behaviors to remove one from the hot spot.
  • Bird-Up
    83
    Isn't the hard problem just synonymous with a lack of imagination? Why create a sign post at the point of the hard problem by labeling it as too-unexpected, and demanding of special explanation? I think people that question the hard problem are subconsciously trying to make the human brain magically-special among other things in the natural world. There are ulterior motives behind it.

    Instead of marching forward with our understanding of the human brain, some people refuse to go further. So why did they stop and have a philosophical debate if they merely wanted to keep learning more?
  • Jackson
    1.8k
    Why create a sign post at the point of the hard problem by labeling it as too-unexpected, and demanding of special explanation?Bird-Up

    Can you explain this sentence a bit more?
  • Bird-Up
    83
    Why create a sign post at the point of the hard problem by labeling it as too-unexpected, and demanding of special explanation? — Bird-Up

    Can you explain this sentence a bit more?
    Jackson

    The logic behind questioning the hard problem is something to the effect of:
    "This has no reason to be here (experiencing consciousness). And yet, it is here anyway. How can this be?"

    The crux of the whole issue is the assumption that "this has no reason to be here". If you can imagine a good explanation as to why the brain benefits from the experience of consciousness itself, then it is no longer mysterious and in need of explanation. The hard problem only exists as long as you declare the experience of consciousness to be unnecessary.
  • Jackson
    1.8k
    The hard problem only exists as long as you declare the experience of consciousness to be unnecessary.Bird-Up

    That is confusing. I would think it is the other way around.
  • Bird-Up
    83
    That is confusing. I would think it is the other way around.Jackson

    The hard problem is certainly trying to come from the position of neutrality. But It's impossible not to have preconceived notions about how the human brain should work. So if perfect neutrality is impossible, then I think we need to keep looking at the problem from different angles until things start to make more sense.

    It's like suggesting that the experience of human vision isn't necessary in order to sense changes in the amount of light around us. No, it's not necessary. There could be other ways to do it. A different kind of functionality that takes place "in the dark". But vision is how our brain organizes all the different changes in light that we sense.

    Imagine trying to keep track of every single rod and cone signal in your eye without the sensation of vision. It seems like the human body summarizes information whenever possible, and I don't disagree with the use of that technique. If that's the case, then we are one of those informational summaries.

    It is the nature of a summary to be aware of the whole of the literature, while still being a different set of words on its own. We can't be a summary of the brain without having some awareness-of (connection-to) other parts of the brain. Yet at the same time, the summary itself is not merely a collection of all the other parts. The summary doesn't exist in those other parts of the brain. I think this discrepancy is a large part of why we find consciousness to be confusing: it is existing everywhere in the brain, and nowhere in the brain, at the same time. It seems out of place.
  • Jackson
    1.8k
    I think this discrepancy is a large part of why we find consciousness to be confusing: it is existing everywhere in the brain, and nowhere in the brain, at the same time. It seems out of place.Bird-Up

    Consciousness is just thought and awareness. I think it's a fake problem.
  • Jackson
    1.8k
    Ancient Greeks, like Aristotle, never discussed consciousness. He talks about thought, but makes nothing of self-consciousness.
    Kierkegaard said Christianity invented inwardness, or subjectivity. It strikes me that trying to explain consciousness is based on this error.
  • Harry Hindu
    4.9k
    The hard problem is certainly trying to come from the position of neutrality.Bird-Up
    Ancient Greeks, like Aristotle, never discussed consciousness. He talks about thought, but makes nothing of self-consciousness.
    Kierkegaard said Christianity invented inwardness, or subjectivity. It strikes me that trying to explain consciousness is based on this error.
    Jackson
    Self-consciousness would simply be thoughts of the self.

    The question is what are thoughts composed of, or what forms do they take? What makes a thing a thought as opposed to not a thought?

    The hard problem is asking why do the thoughts of others take the form of the visual of their brain/neural activity, while our own thoughts take the form of sounds, feelings, colors, shapes depth, etc. All descriptions of mental activity from a third-person scientific perspective are actually first-person visual subjective descriptions of other's mental activity. You never experience your own mental activity the way you experience others' mental activity.
  • Bird-Up
    83
    The question is what are thoughts composed of, or what forms do they take? What makes a thing a thought as opposed to not a thought?Harry Hindu

    A hard cutoff point for "thought" assumes that the definition shouldn't take place on a gradual scale. Instead of "thought" and "not a thought", couldn't it be defined as "more conscious" and "less conscious"? Why does a paramedic wave a flashlight in your eyes and ask you pointless questions? They are trying to measure how much consciousness you are currently experiencing.

    All descriptions of mental activity from a third-person scientific perspective are actually first-person visual subjective descriptions of other's mental activity.Harry Hindu

    Which is why you could categorize it as taking place "in the dark". It's like a TV show that never gets more than one viewer. Maybe your subjective experience is not really a valid experience of the objective world. Maybe it's more like we are each hallucinating our own existence. In a way, death proves that consciousness never existed to begin with (unless your personal beliefs declare the exact opposite, of course).

    You never experience your own mental activity the way you experience others' mental activity.Harry Hindu

    True these days. But in a distant future, maybe surgeons will be sewing brains together. Millions of engineered connections created between two cerebral cortices. All of sudden, you would have access to another person's memories. Maybe your inner dialogue could have a conversation with another inner dialogue. I never thought it would literally be possible to prove that the consciousness exists; but maybe that first silent discussion between two minds will be the last day we wonder if our conscious experience is real.
  • Jackson
    1.8k
    You never experience your own mental activity the way you experience others' mental activity.Harry Hindu

    How do you experience another person's mental activity?
  • Harry Hindu
    4.9k
    How do you experience another person's mental activity?Jackson
    By looking at their live brain scan - just as any neurologist would. But do you need to look at your brain scan to experience your own mental activity? Do you even need to know you have a brain to know you have thoughts and experiences?
  • Jackson
    1.8k


    Sorry, I just don't know what you're talking about anymore.
  • Harry Hindu
    4.9k
    Funny. I was going to say the same thing to you.
  • Jackson
    1.8k
    Funny. I was going to say the same thing to youHarry Hindu

    Goodbye.
  • Harry Hindu
    4.9k
    Sorry, I just don't know what you're talking about anymore.Jackson

    Are you a p-zombie?
    — Harry Hindu

    Yes.
    Jackson

    Well, there's proof that p-zombies would have no idea what a human is talking about when it comes to the mind and consciousness.
  • Harry Hindu
    4.9k
    A hard cutoff point for "thought" assumes that the definition shouldn't take place on a gradual scale. Instead of "thought" and "not a thought", couldn't it be defined as "more conscious" and "less conscious"? Why does a paramedic wave a flashlight in your eyes and ask you pointless questions? They are trying to measure how much consciousness you are currently experiencing.Bird-Up
    It doesn't necessarily assume that there isn't a gradual scale, but if there is no cut-off then you're implying that everything has some degree of consciousness.

    There are degrees of pain, but there is also no pain, so implying a cut-off doesn't necessarily imply that there isn't a gradual scale where describing your level of pain on a scale of 0-10 where you feel pain and a 0 would be that you feel no pain.

    Maybe your subjective experience is not really a valid experience of the objective world. Maybe it's more like we are each hallucinating our own existence.Bird-Up
    In conversing with you on this forum, would I be hallucinating your existence? The point was that we both experience our own and each other's existence very differently. If consciousness is an illusion, then everything I experience, which includes your posts on this forum and your body and behaviors, would be an illusion. This also means that neurologists' experiences of other people's brains and all their scientific descriptions of such would be an illusion too.
  • Bird-Up
    83
    The hard problem, if nothing else, is about highlighting a notion that is unexpected. We wouldn't be discussing it if the experience of consciousness was a boring and unnotable subject.

    All forms of life respond to sensory information. A plant may reach around a corner when it senses sunlight. But the plant is unlikely to be conscious. An insect may scurry away when it senses you walking towards it. Is it feeling fear? Maybe not, but it is a better candidate for consciousness than the plant. What about the dog looking up at your face and wagging its tail? Seems like a plausible case of consciousness to me.

    Life experiences sensory information with differing levels of nervous-system complexity. These nervous systems could be ranked on a gradual scale, with humans fancying themselves to be at the top. The more complex and extensive the nervous system is, the more likely it is to be conscious. So where along that continuum do you mark the first real consciousness? Sounds like an opinion that is up for debate. This could lead to the realization that there is no definition of consciousness. Consciousness merely describes a set of characteristic traits that a nervous system could have. The more boxes they check, the more conscious they are considered to be.

    But why that special designation of "conscious"? Couldn't I just say: "My body has nerves."

    What is our motive behind creating the superfluous "conscious" label?

    In conversing with you on this forum, would I be hallucinating your existence?Harry Hindu

    I didn't mean literally hallucinating the content of your existence, I meant we could be deceived that our conscious experience is more than just electrical signals bouncing around in our heads: "Whatever this sensation of consciousness is that I'm experiencing, it is something more!"

    Are you sure about that? Maybe it only seems that way from our point of view.

    The hard problem is a strange question to answer. You acknowledge the existence of conscious experience by emphasizing how it isn't really there to begin with.
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