Comments

  • Evolution & Growing Awareness
    If you mean emergence is not observed, and observation is the keystone, the fact that nothing consistent with consciousness has ever been observed in rocks suffices to reject pan-psychism.Kenosha Kid

    Every behaviour of a rock is consistent with its being conscious isn't it? The whole of the problem of other minds is predicated on the decoupling of behaviour from consciousness, such that we cannot reliably conclude from behaviour alone whether or not some object or creature is conscious without assuming a theory that couples them.

    EDIT: to be clear on my position, I do think that the behaviour of a rock is evidence of its consciousness, but only because I have already assumed panpsychism. I need to show panpsychism by other means before I can conclude that the behaviour of a rock is evidence of its consciousness.

    EDIT2: I guess it's one of those awkward situations when what counts as evidence depends on one's theories, definitions and assumptions.
  • Evolution & Growing Awareness
    "And consciousness, however small, is an illegitimate birth in
    any philosophy that starts without it and yet professes to explain all facts by continuous evolution._______________________________________________________________________ If evolution is to work smoothly, consciousness in some
    shape must have been present at the very origins of things." -William James

    William James believed in Pan-psychism just as many modern scientists believe in Pan-psychism.

    Are there any flaws in the logic of this quote?
    turkeyMan

    Why do you think consciousness is different from nearly all other properties such that it cannot reasonably be emergent?
  • Can something be ''more conscious'' than we are?
    In my opinion, panpsychism want to say this: elementary particles have a very small degree of consciousness, but only certain combination of atoms can ''conduct'' consciousness and unite the consciousness of particle with that of another particle forming a stronger consciousness. So, if there's no connectivity inside a rock due to the property of atoms forming that rock, than the rock, as a conscious entity doesn't exist.Eugen

    That's certainly one variety of panpsychism, probably the most popular. One way to determine which systems have 'united' the consciousness of their individual particles is to hijack the IIT theory and say that it is just those systems that integrate information, which is an interesting possibility. (This is a different take on the IIT model, which identifies consciousness with integrated information. The view I just said is the idea that integrated information is not itself consciousness, but it does define which things are conscious individuals, and determines the richness of experience they are capable of.)
  • Black Lives Matter-What does it mean and why do so many people continue to have a problem with it?
    For example, a higher goal might be to 'Not feel scared'. One way for racists to stop feeling scared is to kill, or imprison, or put behind a wall, people with black skin. And we could oppose this by saying 'It's bad to do that to black people'. And they could coherently respond, 'No, it's good because it will stop us being scared'. Alternatively we could respond by suggesting that their fear is unfounded, that black people are not actually a source of danger (or not a significant one worth worrying about) and that a better way to deal with fear is to examine actual realistic sources of risk.
  • Can something be ''more conscious'' than we are?
    But you said everything is concious. Jack's assertion wouldn't make any sense under that definition.Isaac

    It would make sense (because panpsychism is not true or false by definition) but it would happen to be factually wrong (if panpsychism is true) or factually right (if panpsychism is untrue)

    Are you sure you are adequately distinguishing theory from definition?

    Jack's assertion would only make any sense if there were some measurable difference between being concious and not, but you're saying that everything is concious, therefore there's no way one could exist, but not be concious.Isaac

    Panpsychism does not entail that non-consciousness is incoherent, just that it, in fact, does not occur in the world. For a panpsychist, a non-conscious object would be one that cannot experience. The sentence makes sense. For a panpsychist, there just aren't any of those objects.

    Measurability is indeed a problem. If consciousness (sense 1) were measurable then we could settle this matter by doing some experiments. And this also explains the appeal to many philosophers (perhaps Banno is among them) of definitions in terms of measurable behaviour. That would help a great deal in settling the question. When I get jumpy is when philosophers (or anyone) try to insist that definitions that do not involve observable measurement should be discarded. Interestingly, the online Cambridge Dictionary does just that - I couldn't see (when I looked a month or two ago) a definition of 'consciousness' that talked only in terms of subjectivity! Newspeak!

    I can't think of any use for such a term. What's more, we're definitely still going to want to differentiate between the level of awareness humans etc demonstrate and that demonstrated by rocks. So we're just going to need a new word to do exactly the job 'conciousness' does presently, whilst at the same time the original word becomes entirely useless. Why not just use the word as it already is?Isaac

    Sure, that is a huge problem, and one which dogs these forums. The problem is that there exist half a dozen or more different senses of the same word. I agree that the medical definition is very useful. And indeed much more useful on a daily basis than the definition philosophers of mind often want to talk about.
  • Can something be ''more conscious'' than we are?
    This is really interesting. Ask me if I am conscious and I will say, "yes". Ask a zombie if he is conscious and he will either say "no", or not respond.Wheatley

    Yes, that is interesting. I'm not sure what a zombie would say (although speculating about what things would or wouldn't say in a thought experiment is a bit rarefied!). Your take intuitively makes sense though.
  • Can something be ''more conscious'' than we are?
    In all other potential cases it is impossible to distinguish concious from unconscious - indeed, everything is concious you say.Isaac

    Indeed. That is why philosophers are so exercised about the problem of other minds. Some theorise that nothing is conscious, some that some things are conscious, others that everything is conscious.

    So what's the use of the word?Isaac

    To talk about which things we think are conscious, for example. Also to wonder about the experiences of other things. Consider:

    John "I wonder what it's like to be a snail."
    Jack: "Don't be silly, there's nothing it is like to be a snail. They're not conscious. Their brains aren't big enough to generate experience."
  • Can something be ''more conscious'' than we are?
    As a panpsychist, I think everything is conscious, including things that speak. But not as a matter of definition. I don't think anything is conscious as a matter of definition, except perhaps me. Panpsychism is not true by definition. That would make it a non-theory.

    So perhaps I should have said 'speaking does not entail consciousness by definition'
  • Black Lives Matter-What does it mean and why do so many people continue to have a problem with it?
    How on Earth does this constitute an "objection"? The fact that black lives don't matter to some people is the whole point and the entire reason BLM exists. This is like saying that the fact that some people commit murder is an "objection" to the moral principle that you shouldn't murder anyone.Enai De A Lukal

    Sure. But to convince a murderer or racist that their values are wrong, it is not sufficient to present the opposing value. You have to give them a reason why their value does not achieve a higher goal that they have. By drawing attention to a higher goal that we share, then argument becomes relevant, as we can say that valuing black lives achieves that goal more effectively than not valuing black lives because x,y,z.
  • Can something be ''more conscious'' than we are?
    Speaking does not entail consciousness
  • Can something be ''more conscious'' than we are?
    What possible use could it be to define conciousness as some property which is completely undetectable?Isaac

    Consciousness is detectable to the person that has it. And they may want to refer to this using a word.
  • Can something be ''more conscious'' than we are?
    It wouldn't count as 'evidence' of anything. You just redefined the term to include it.Isaac

    We don't have to define consciousness' in terms of the behaviour of rocks, and I wouldn't normally do so. The definition (sense 1) is rock-neutral. We'd need a theory to link it to rocks. My panpsychist theory is that nothing could happen without consciousness: matter does what it does because of how it feels. Therefore if a rock does anything, including existing, that constitutes evidence of consciousness.
  • Black Lives Matter-What does it mean and why do so many people continue to have a problem with it?
    In a discussion of terminal goals, I think this is where we end up. But maybe we're not discussing terminal goals. Maybe there is a common goal that racists and non-racists have.
  • Black Lives Matter-What does it mean and why do so many people continue to have a problem with it?
    One objection to the BLM slogan is that it isn't true for some people. For some people, black lives are not important. The orthogonality thesis of the relationship of intelligence and goals suggests that no amount of asserting that black lives matter will be persuasive to those who do not think they matter. But maybe those people are not the intended audience. Maybe the intended audience are the lathargic who do think that black lives matter, but not enough to actually do much about it.
  • Can something be ''more conscious'' than we are?
    Yet I maintain that panpsychism is true. Should I see a doctor?
  • Can something be ''more conscious'' than we are?
    How do you tell when a rock is sleeping?

    And if you do not see this question as somewhat absurd, then perhaps that's an end to our discussion.
    Banno

    On the definition of 'consciousness' you are using, we are in complete agreement. Rocks are unconscious in that sense. This definition entails the possibility of sleep and being knocked out and so on. These conditions are defined in terms of brain function. Rocks, by definition, do not have brains. Therefore rocks, by definition, are not conscious in this sense. We agree.

    Panpsychism is therefore wrong, by definition. Is that right?
  • Can something be ''more conscious'' than we are?
    I'm not seeing the difference. The reason we call a knocked-out person 'unconscious' is because they don't appear to have those properties. When they 'come to' again, we mark that they have done so by the apparent return of those properties. If those properties collectively, define consciousness it sounds almost exactly like the medical definition.Isaac

    The medical definition talks about levels of responsiveness in humans. The definition is in terms of behaviour, and we assume that these behaviours are accompanied by corresponding characteristically human experiences.

    But we don't have to limit the use of 'consciousness' (even partly defined in terms of behaviour) to humans. We can wonder, for example, if the responsive behaviour of rocks is evidence of their subjective experience.

    The definition of 'consciousness' (sense 1 in most dictionaries) is distinct from the medical definition in that it does not include any specific behaviour and speaks in very general terms about 'sensations', 'feelings', 'experiences' which are not, by definition, tied to any particular species, and even plants and minerals are not ruled out. If we want to say rocks are not conscious in this sense, we can't just appeal to a definition. We need a theory.
  • Can something be ''more conscious'' than we are?
    The degrees given in scales like these refer to differences in content, not in consciousness in the sense that the OP means it.

    EDIT: What I said ^ is wrong. I should have said 'observable behaviour' not 'content'.
  • Can something be ''more conscious'' than we are?
    If you are going to argue that rocks are conscious, you are also going to have to acknowledge and explain your novel use of the word "conscious"Banno

    It's not novel. It's roughly the first sense listed at dictionary.com:

    "the state of being conscious; awareness of one's own existence, sensations, thoughts, surroundings, etc."

    I'd want to perhaps cut a couple of those out if I'm talking about the consciousness of rocks, perhaps limit it to just to feelings and sensations, but the basic sense is the same I think. Philosophers put various glosses on this basic idea in order to make it clearer (or less clear for some) what they are talking about. Such glosses talk about experience, qualia (which I dislike), something it is like to be it, subjectivity, having a point of view, and so on.

    Your insistence that the medical definition is the only one is very annoying.
  • What Would the Framework of a Materialistic Explanation of Consciousness Even Look Like?
    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.
  • Can something be ''more conscious'' than we are?
    Too complicated for me :))Eugen

    Setting out arguments always makes them seem more complicated than they are. I just quite like doing it. My point is just that in the sense of 'consciousness' used in this thread, it is not necessary that conscious things must be able to be knocked out.
  • What Would the Framework of a Materialistic Explanation of Consciousness Even Look Like?
    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.
  • Can something be ''more conscious'' than we are?
    I think they should be treated as part of a reductio ad absurdum. Hence, Panpsychism fails.Banno

    Let's set out the reductio:

    1) Quarks are conscious (panpsychist thesis as target for reductio) (assumption)
    2) If quarks are conscious then they can be knocked out, put to sleep (assumption)
    3) NOT quarks can be knocked out, put to sleep (assumption)
    4) NOT Quarks are conscious (MTT 2.3)
    5) Quarks are conscious AND NOT quarks are conscious (& introduction 1,4)
    6) NOT Quarks are conscious (RAA 1,5)

    Is that right?

    I'd just do the reductio on 2 rather than 1

    EDIT: fixed spelling
  • Can something be ''more conscious'' than we are?
    But to be honest, I don't know if ''more consciouss'' even makes sense.Eugen

    I share your perception/intuition. I don't think it does make sense. To my mind, nothing is any more conscious than anything else. Consciousness does not come in degrees, just as, (arguably) existence does not come in degrees. For example, we don't say a car has more existence than a rock. They are very different things, but in terms of their existence, they are equal. One does not exist more than the other.

    I think Jorndoe has correctly characterised the difference between a person and a super-intelligent alien species of greater cognitive complexity:

    Something could be "conscious of more" than we are.jorndoe

    The difference between the conscious minds of different types of entities consists in what they are aware of, what computations they can perform, what things they can perceive, what specialisations their senses may have, how they can reason about their experience, the emotions they can feel, and so on. In terms of their being conscious, they are exactly the same; just as in terms of their existence alone, they are exactly the same. When one says something exists, one has said very little about it. Similarly, when one says something is conscious, one has only said one thing about it. It's really very uninformative about the nature of that thing. On the other hand, if you say something has the mind of a typical human, you have said a great deal about it in terms of what it can do and the kind of experiences it can have.

    I have not made arguments here, I am appealing to intuitions about what we typically mean when (in philosophy) we assert that something is conscious.
  • Materialism and consciousness
    So we can discuss endlessly.
    I am a materialist.
    Vladimir Krymchakov

    Yes, such endless discussion is not optional on a philosophy forum, it is mandatory. If you just express opinions without any engagement with arguments to and fro, you are not doing philosophy, and you have ended up on the wrong forum..
  • Materialism and consciousness
    First of all, we don't know whether other animals have a conscience or not. We're talking about human consciousness and more especially our own.David Mo

    The OP isn't, it's consciousness in general.

    It is good evidence to think that a living human brain is a necessary and sufficient condition to have a human consciousness.David Mo

    Yes, but that only evidences something about humans. And it's not completely clear what theory this evidence supports.

    When you alter a brain such that the unified consciousness 'disappears' (e.g. gets KO'd) there's a couple of ways to interpret this. It's consistent with two theories:

    1) It's the consciousness that disappears. Consciousness is dependent on certain brain function, and when that brain function does not happen, the consciousness no longer exists.

    2) Consciousness is more like mass. When someone's brain function is disrupted, the identity is disrupted. There is no longer a strongly unified human subject which has experiences, but there is still consciousness. The units have changed - other things are conscious, maybe smaller units (if you are a microspychist). Just like with the mass of a car, arranged so it can function it is a car, arranged differently it is a pile of scrap, but the mass remains. The identities are different. That's what I think: when I lose consciousness, I do not remain. The consciousness that remains is not mine, because I don't exist. When consciousness 'returns' it is really my identity that has rebooted.
  • Materialism and consciousness
    What is consciousness then? If you introspect into your consciousness you will find experiences and emotions. Nothing more. Remove the experiences and emotions and your consciousness will be empty.David Mo

    You've given the two main options here. In your first two sentences you have identified consciousness with content. And in the last you have described consciousness as like an empty container, which is something more than its contents.

    My view is that consciousness is the latter, so that consciousness does not entail content necessarily (it is possible for the theatre to be empty, the ocean to be still, to pick a couple of metaphors). In practice, of course, there is nearly always content.

    It is possible to use 'consciousness' to refer to the totality of content, and this is a valid usage (and given in dictionaries). But I don't think this usage is typically what philosophers concerned with the hard problem are talking about. Or at least they are talking about consciousness as abstracted from individual experiences (and this sense is also listed in dictionaries).

    I'd like to do a thread on definitions of 'consciousness', as discussions very often end up with haggling over definitions. I think a dictionary could help, as it is a neutral more objective voice in the discussion.
  • Materialism and consciousness
    I think you would find our consciousness very much can be changed by altering our brain. Taking psychedelics -ie adding chemicals to the composition of the brain, being inflicted with brain damage, meditating, sleeping. All of these actions dramatically influence our state of consciousnessBenj96

    They change what you experience, of course. And we can call the content of consciousness 'states' of consciousness. But this sheds no light on what the general necessary and sufficient conditions for consciousness (or identity in my view) are in anything other than humans.
  • Materialism and consciousness
    Only such a complex system as the brain can produce consciousness.Vladimir Krymchakov

    Why?

    For the existence of consciousness requires complex organic matter.Vladimir Krymchakov

    Why?
  • Materialism and consciousness
    Consciousness without an active brain does not exist.Vladimir Krymchakov

    How do you know that?
  • Reducing Reductionism
    Most physicalist theories of mind say that the mind is supervenient on matter, i.e., matter is what is real, and the mind is dependent on it.Wayfarer

    That's not supervenience
  • Materialism and consciousness
    The definition of consciousness is different from the definition of experience.

    We can change our experiences and our identity by altering our brains, but we can't change our consciousness. We can change what is experienced, and what experiences, but we can't change the fact that experience happens whatever we do.
  • Metaphysical Idealism: The Only Coherent Ontology
    jorndoe

    What would an idealist say in response to your critique?
  • Metaphysical Idealism: The Only Coherent Ontology
    I pity the poor, innocent chunk of dead flesh lying in the morgue, conscious, but not aware of itself.jgill

    It is a worry.
  • Metaphysical Idealism: The Only Coherent Ontology
    Switch off brain, and there goes consciousness.jgill

    There goes identity, not consciousness
  • What problem does panpsychism aim to address?
    By 'feel consciously' do you mean 'undergo an experience'?
  • What problem does panpsychism aim to address?
    My vote, FWIW... where human infants acquire competence in pointing symbols (including samples) at things, so that a red thing is perceived as an example of red things.bongo fury

    Really? So get a newborn, poke it with a sharp stick, does it feel anything?
  • What problem does panpsychism aim to address?
    Physicalism is not identical to eliminativism.
    — Pfhorrest

    No, but it is usually implied by it.
    bongo fury

    Physicalism regarding consciousness is the view that consciousness is real, and it is physical. Eliminativism is the view that consciousness is not real (at least not in one of the main commonly meant senses).