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Question for materialists

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posted on Feb, 5 2011 @ 03:47 AM
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reply to post by NewlyAwakened
 

A fine reply indeed, NewlyAwakened. Let's see where it takes us.


When I speak of the primacy of experience, I only mean that is the first and foremost thing available to us. The physical world, although very likely real, is still something we can only infer through our experience.

If the physical world is real and inferred via experience, then experience depends upon the physical world rather than vice versa. Change the externalities, and our experience changes along with them.

That more or less compasses my rebuttal, but let's see where your line of argument carries us.


To be blunt, my view is that experience is either self-evident or you're in serious denial, and the same with its undefinability in terms of external constructs including language

Many things are self-evident, yet require definition so that we understand them fully. Indeed, this is true of any experience derived from the physical world (as all experiences must be). Otherwise, why even say 'I love you'?

Language exists to define experience. If such definition were unnecessary, we should not need language.


Some people go so far as to try to "prove" that conscious experience (or qualia) doesn't exist. Dennett basically does this in Consciousness Explained (a book you'd probably enjoy if you've never read it).

Say rather that Dennett and his fellow-travellers, myself occasionally among them, doubt the existence of qualia per se. It is probable that what we recognize as qualia are the outputs of high-order processing functions that compute multiple input variables in real time. The quale is merely the representation of the output in a form that is meaningful to us.

And indeed, if we look closely at the physiology of hearing, this is exactly what we find. The results of a series of complex operations (Fourier analysis of incoming waveforms, spatial imaging, etc.) become the quale of a Beethoven symphony or the sounds of a busy street – or, mirabile dictu, human language! The process by which this occurs is emphatically not conscious; we are only conscious of the results. If consciousness were primary, as you argue, how on earth could this possibly be?

Moreover, it is now quite well established that even our 'conscious' decisions are made long before we become conscious of them. The early work of Benjamin Libet on this subject is widely known, but confirmatory data is now available from a number of other sources, in particular this study from Soon, Haynes et al. at the Max Planck Institute, published in Nature Neuroscience in 2008. It demonstrates that even supposedly 'freely willed' conscious decisions begin life as unconscious processes. If consciousness were primary, how could this possibly be so? The only answer is to start doubting the direction of time's arrow. That is not illegitmate, but if we begin piling conjecture upon conjecture in such a fashion, we shall end up in the same place as the solipsists: namely, the nuthouse.

That is not to deny the existence of consciousness, merely to separate consciousness from what it perceives. Yet still I hear the ghost of Berkeley rattling his chains, for absent perception, what is consciousness? Not even a ghost.


What (strict materialists) fail to do is take the next step, which is "but consciousness does exist. This is a contradiction. Therefore strict materialism is false. QED." The problem is that the only way to take this final step is to take consciousness as self-evident, something which to me is obvious.

But it is not self-evident. A woman is conscious, but what about a cat? Anyone who owns a cat and is not an anthropomorphosizing sentimentalist is aware that cat behaviour is very little more than a set of conditioned responses. I'm sentimental enough about my own cats to ascribe a degree of consciousness to them, but what about a sparrow? A snake? A wasp? A jellyfish? Somewhere along the spectrum of biological intelligence consciousness vanishes altogether – but where? Even among humans, consciousness comes and goes. Where does it go while we are asleep, or dead drunk?

But you've read Dennett, so you'll be familiar with these questions. How do you answer them?


edit on 5/2/11 by Astyanax because: of too much yakkety yak




posted on Feb, 5 2011 @ 04:17 AM
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Here is in part the type of thinking being advanced regarding a monistic idealism whereby consciousness and not matter is primary. Intriguingly, only a monistic idealism can satisfactorily resolve all the quantum paradoxes in a hearbeat. From a quantum brainmind perspective entangled in a non-local, quantum holographic type universe (see David Bohm's work) also, we may begin to recognize in consciousness the possibility for a downward, as opposed to an upward causation wherein consciousness is nothing but an epiphenomenon of matter.


"The God Theory" by Bernard Haisch
www.amazon.com...=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1249274834&sr=8-1

Haisch is an astrophysicist whose professional positions include Staff Scientist at the Lockheed Martin Solar and Astrophysics Laboratory, Deputy Director for the Center for Extreme Ultraviolet Astrophysics at the University of California, Berkeley, and Visiting Fellow at the Max-Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics in Garching, Germany. His work has led to close involvement with NASA; he is the author of over 130 scientific papers; and was the Scientific Editor of the Astrophysical Journal for nine years, as well as the editor in chief of the Journal of Scientific Exploration.

an excerpt



If you think of whitte light as a metaphor of infinite, formless potential, the colors on a slide or frame of film become a structured reality grounded in the polarity that comes about through intelligent subtraction from that absolute formless potential. It results from the limitation of the unlimited. I contend that this metaphor provides a comprehensible theory for the creation of a manifest reality (our universe) from the selective limitation of infinite potential (God)...
If there exists an absolute realm that consists of infinite potential out of which a created realm of polarity emerges, is there any sensible reason not to call this "God"? Or to put it frankly, if the absolute is not God, what is it? For our purposes here, I will indentify the Absolute with God. More precisely I will call the Absolute the Godhead. Applying this new terminology to the optics analogy, we can conclude that our physical universe comes about when the Godhead selectively limits itself, taking on the role of Creator and manifesting a realm of space and time and, within that realm, filtering out some of its own infinite potential...
Viewed this way, the process of creation is the exact opposite of making something out of nothing. It is, on the contrary, a filtering process that makes something out of everything. Creation is not capricious or random addition; it is intelligent and selective subtraction. The implications of this are profound.

If the Absolute is the Godhead, and if creation is the process by which the Godhead filters out parts of its own infinite potential to manifest a physical reality that supports experience, then the stuff that is left over, the residue of this process, is our physical universe, and ourselves included. We are nothing less than a part of that Godhead - quite literally.

Next, by Ervin Laszlo

Science and the Akashic Field, an Integral Theory of Everything, 2004
www.amazon.com...=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1249275852&sr=8-1

And, his other seminal work
Science and the Reenchantment of the Cosmos: The Rise of the Integral Vision of Reality
www.amazon.com...=sr_1_6?ie=UTF8&qid=1249275852&sr=8-6

Ervin Laszlo is considered one of the foremost thinkers and scientists of our age, perhaps the greatest mind since Einstein. His principal focus of research involves the Zero Point Field. He is the author of around seventy five books (his works having been translated into at least seventeen languages), and he has contributed to over 400 papers. Widely considered the father of systems philosophy and general evolution theory, he has worked as an advisor to the Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization. He was also nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in both 2004 and 2005. A multidisciplinarian, Laszlo has straddled numerous fields, having worked at universities as a professor of philosophy, music, futures studies, systems science, peace studies, and evolutionary studies. He was a sucessful concert pianist until he was thirty eight.

In his view, the zero-point field (or the Akashic Field, as he calls it) is quite literally the "mind of God".

Naming Hal Puthoff, Roger Penrose, Fritz-Albert Popp, and a handful of others as "front line investigators", Laszlo quotes Puthoff who says of the new scientific paradigm:



[What] would emerge would be an increased understanding that all of us are immersed, both as living and physical beings, in an overall interpenetrating and interdependant field in ecological balance with the cosmos as a whole, and that even the boundary lines between the physical and "metaphysical" would dissolve into a unitary viewpoint of the universe as a fluid, changing, energetic/informational cosmological unity."

an excert from Science and the Akashic Field, an Integral Theory of Everything



Akasha (a . ka . sha) is a Sanskrit word meaning "ether": all-pervasive space. Originally signifying "radiation" or "brilliance", in Indian philosophy akasha was considered the first and most fundamental of the five elements - the others being vata (air), agni (fire), ap (water), and prithivi (earth). Akasha embraces the properties of all five elements: it is the womb from which everything we percieve with our senses has emerged and into which everything will ultimately re-descend. The Akashic Record (also called The Akashic Chronicle) is the enduring record of all that happens, and has ever happened, in space and time."

Laszlo's view of the history of the universe is of a series of universes that rise and fall, but are each "in-formed" by the existence of the previous one. In Laszlo's mind, the universe is becoming more and more in-formed, and within the physical universe, matter (which is the crystallization of intersecting pressure waves or an interference pattern moving through the zero-point field) is becoming increasing in-formed and evolving toward higher forms of consciousness and realization.

------------

According to James Oroc's experiences (Tryptamine Palace), when the ego is dissolved in consciousness through the temporary formation of a type of neurological "Bose Einstein Condensate", there is no real dilineation or distinction between individual consciousness and God-consciousness or the universal "akashic field" (Lazslo) aka Zero Point Field.


Originally posted by NewAgeMan





posted on Feb, 5 2011 @ 04:42 AM
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Out of all fairness to the materialists however, I think someone would have to show or prove, if monistic idealism is to be adopted, that promordial light is the source and is at cause in the whole universe, and that matter's underlying substance, and original source, is light itself. Didn't Einstein talk about this? Also, is there not an emmission or absorption of light involved in every single chemical reaction via the quantum jumping of valence electrons, or maybe I'm mistaken about that. Could matter be some sort of crystalization of light? We could then look to the quantum mind in search of consciousness, placing mind in a much much larger contextual framework relative to the source or underlying foundation of reality as a prior consciousness in a monistic idealist framework (consciousness, not matter is primary). There is no need btw to evoke the word "God" here, but maybe spirit and truth (reality) as consciousness, but nothing to get bent out of shape over, since materialist realism surely cannot be employed as an axe to grind against the possibility of a non-localized spirit of the universe (primacy of consciousness). In other words, there's nothing to get snarky about, one way or another, since this is just a search for truth that's all.

edit on 5-2-2011 by NewAgeMan because: edit



posted on Feb, 5 2011 @ 03:10 PM
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I would say that there's a fundamental flaw in the grounding of this debate -- specifically the archaic definition of "Materialism". If one looks to the physics, the current model _isn't_ "All that exists is energy", but rather "The universe is composed of the complex intertwining of energy and information." with the word "energy" having a definition only in relation to events in the fabric of spacetime. (For an illustration of the latter part, just ask "What's my kinetic energy right now?". The answer depends upon who's measuring. It is only _differences_ of energy that has physical meaning.)

Information has just as much primacy in current physical law as energy (Seth Lloyd and the other quantum computing folks are the ones who've REALLY started nailing this stuff down, past the work of the thermodynamics folks in the 19th century.)

Our best evidence suggests that matter seems to be energy in a particular configuration -- that is, energy with a certain information content knotting it into a particular bundle of stable-ish nature. Energy seems to be spacetime with a certain configuration -- spacetime encoded in a certain way. (What's spacetime made of? We don't know. Judging from the literature, it's made of 'bickering'.)

In light of this more modern understanding of the physical constituents of the universe, this entire philosophical debate comes into a much less murky relief.

How does Mind arise from Matter? It probably doesn't -- at least not as formulated. It's like asking "How does a forum of debate, such as ATS, 'arise' from a collection of silicon and magnetic domains on a plastic platter?". The answer, of course, is that that is the wrong question. It arises not from the magnetic domains on the hard drive, but, rather, from _how they are arranged_ -- that is, from the information encoded in their geometry placed within the correct physical context (a working computer).

So how does Mind arise from Brain? From the information encoded within it electrochemically (and possibly quantum mechanically) interacting with itself on that informational level. The experience of subjectivity seems to be a purely informational phenomenon, but, being as it is encoded in matter, is intimately tied to one's physical configuration (drugs, hormones, injury, genes, gene expression, whathaveyou).

Another important thing to remember: most of your personal sense of self -- the interior 'I' of consistent experiential sequence -- is, at least mostly, an illusion. Your brain _lies_ to your mind all the time.

Every physical interaction is also a computation. The two processes are like two sides of a coin, like competition and cooperation, or playing a game and knowing the rules for the game -- they are concurrent processes best thought of as two expressions of the same underlying physical reality: that every measured quantum interaction creates new information out of raw chaos.

My hypothesis/strong suspicion is that Mind is the inevitable consequence of enough complexity given a chance to dynamically self-modify with some (probably fairly strict) feedback conditions limiting degenerative or exponential looping. I doubt that the specific means by which it is encoded is especially relevant. If I could simulate a brain on a computer down to the molecular (or EM or QM) levels, as well as the signals that brain receives, then I would have a copy of that mind. (I suspect, anyways. Heck, maybe there _is_ a "soul", but I haven't seen evidence for that hypothesis that is not more readily explained by the above outlined perspective.)



posted on Feb, 5 2011 @ 04:44 PM
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If the universe is a non-local hologaphic informational matrix, then as Laszlo has pointed out, it could be fully informed, and most certainly has had plenty of time to become self aware or conscious.

Consciousness could also be a case whereby the whole is greater than the sum of the parts, and that is arises, not as an emergent epiphenomenon of matter, but "from above" as a top down causality, in the same way that form may be informed from the fully informed formless (Akasic Field) ie: a first/last cause and an alpha and omega of existence, whereby matter is not static or "dead", but always fresh and new (discontinuous) and in a sense, alive, which of course raises the question of how can a rock be in any way conscious or alive?



posted on Feb, 5 2011 @ 07:13 PM
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"Tangled Hieararchy" is the name for this top down causation of differentiation as a limitation or a subtraction from the Absolute in order so that all manner of experience and impression at all levels, from rock to plant and animal to human (and alien or extraterrestrial sentient beings) may be realized ie: everything is an expression of one consciousness, whereby matter is simply the crystalization of a pressure wave moving through the zero point field. The Hindus who practiced Bramavidya (the supreme science) for thousands of years would also agree with this from the perspective of human consciousness withdrawn to it's unconditioned ground of being and becoming. It certainly runs counter intuitively to the way and the manner in which Western man has come to view the world, largely through a Newtonian and Descarte dualism, but at the same time these Eastern sages have assured us that it's "nothing special" and cannot be considered an imposition upon the mind.


edit on 5-2-2011 by NewAgeMan because: typo



posted on Feb, 5 2011 @ 08:31 PM
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Originally posted by Stunspot
...most of your personal sense of self -- the interior 'I' of consistent experiential sequence -- is, at least mostly, an illusion....


i very much enjoyed you post and agree. but i think that the essence of 'I' is more entrenched than the summation of neural signals....or the potential state of those signalling pathways, within a single body.

in my view, there is a thread which links all levels of consciousness from the top to the bottom. and we are here at the middle, looking down.

it is obvious to state that my own body is formed by several sub-strata of potentially independent living forms such as organ systems, organs, cells, organelles, molecular programs, etc.... and the living state of all of these has become dependent on the coherent state of 'ME'. this is what i mean when i say "looking down".

now, does it make sense to also try to define the self by looking upward to external forms? i think that it does. although defining exactly what those higher level forms might be, or their mechanisms of signalling, can be difficult.

you were speaking of contexts of information. in that sense, the context of ME is not only my individual body, but also the entire spectrum, both above and below, of livingness in which i occupy. so in order to model my own mind, you would not only have to stimulate my internal molecular signals, but also my external molecular signals.....whatever those might be.



posted on Feb, 5 2011 @ 10:54 PM
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Originally posted by tgidkp
in my view, there is a thread which links all levels of consciousness from the top to the bottom


You're making FAR too many assumptions about the nature of consciousness here. We have little reason to think that 'levels' and 'above/below' are even remotely appropriate descriptions. Sure, you can say that we are more complex than, say, a chimp, but it seems to be a question of degree not of kind.


Originally posted by tgidkp
it is obvious to state that my own body is formed by several sub-strata of potentially independent living forms such as organ systems, organs, cells, organelles, molecular programs, etc.... .


I distrust the obvious. It's obvious that the earth is flat, time is universal, reality is determinate, and heat is a noun. Yet all of these turn out to be more the product of our biology and evolution than actual facts of the world. Yes, it is useful to talk about classes and such (organs vs. organisms, say) but, again, we don't know this applies to consciousness and only know that it is useful to think about bodies that way in some contexts. Handy != True.

I _think_ what you're trying to get at is the Complexity Theory of Prigogine. In that context, the question becomes "How do we characterize the next fundamental informational complexity level beyond that of 'sentient self-awareness'? Of course, we can only make vague speculations, but it's pretty reasonable to think that such a level is possible (and, in fact, such leaps may ultimately be unbounded, given the way information grows. Of course, we don't really know if such a level exists yet and can't even know that we, as ourselves could tell, anymore than a cell can understand you, to embrace your metaphor below But that's a whole book and I don't have time.). But I'm not exactly sure that's the same as your usage of "higher levels of consciousness". Does that sound like it's in the ballpark?


Originally posted by tgidkp
you were speaking of contexts of information. in that sense, the context of ME is not only my individual body, but also the entire spectrum, both above and below, of livingness in which i occupy. so in order to model my own mind,


If you look back, I did say "and all the signals that brain would receive" (or words to that effect). But I'm not sure I know what "livingness" is. I meant all the chemical, neurological, electromagnetic, and QM interactions that brain has with everything outside of it (body, senses, environment, what-have-you).

Look, we're trying to figure out how to best understand "consciousness". Most of us can't even agree on a working definition. I propose that a good one is "complexity of information contained within a system". This is _not_ the same as "sentience" or "self-awareness" -- those would be considered as specific subsets/classes of consciousness. In that sense, at least, the concept of consciousness as a universal pervasive field present in everything starts to have some kind of hypothetical grounding in reality.

Another question asked above (I forget if it was you) was "How can a rock be said to have consciousness?". Well, in _this_ sense of the word, the answer is obvious -- through its structure. But I think one can go further than that. As I said before, all physical processes can be construed as a computation. Please don't try to understand that statement too quickly -- it sounds straightforward but it's actually a hellishly tricky philosophical statement that requires some deep thought to really suss out (or at least _I_ did for my Philosophy of Physics final... Oy.) But, suffice it to say, it's not inconceivable that there are dynamic information systems of great complexity hidden in the entropy of the object. Entropy is just another name for "information we can't, even in principle, access". So I can see that it could be physically possible for the substance of the rock to encode a sentiet intelligence, but I would never know it or be able to prove that that was what was actually happening. Only way I can see to talk to something like that would be through some completely unknown feature of reality. Magick or something woo-woo actually being real, or something like that. (Personally, I'm a pretty extreme agnostic. Show me evidence and I'll adjust my confidence levels in whatever models of reality I find operative at the time.) Needless to say, this all a bit... speculative. *cough* To say the least!



posted on Feb, 5 2011 @ 11:19 PM
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reply to post by Stunspot
 


its true that i do like to play with the boundaries of "higher" and "lower" levels of consciousness and so forth, as you have detailed. but when i make reference to external (to my own body) systems which must be included in a model of my own personal 'self', it may actually be much simpler than what you have said.

for example, you have said that my own sense of self is more or less an illusion of my internal processes. i can go with that, sure. but what about the 'me' that exists inside of my mother's brain? is *her* model of me not very-nearly-equally as complex as my own model of me? now, granted, she is not in control of my body. but her model of me is very much capable of interacting with, and making modifications to, my model of me.

in this way, i do wonder just how much of the "illusion of ME" is being generated by external input. quite a lot, i would think.

and so, if you are going to try to make a complete model of 'the self', i think you will have to include all such external representations of me, as well as the internal systems of my own body.

________

but, as far as the metaphysical argument that you were getting at, i do indeed think that it is more 'cut and dry' than you are making it out to be. i do think that it is important to be clear in our arguments, but i do not think it is necessary to waffle about in semantics. too much time is wasted in doing so and you end up with really boring conversations as the one that Asyntax and the OP are having. as one of the early posters in this thread said: "are you conscious?....then why do you need to ask what consciousness is?...dont you know?"

the answer is, yes. we do know.


p.s. i am really enjoying your posts. you should start a thread on something. but then again, all of the really interesting threads get buried really quickly.



posted on Feb, 6 2011 @ 12:25 AM
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reply to post by tgidkp
 

I agree. That's two star-quality posts there, Stunspot.

Plus additional kudos for agreeing with me
(as far as I can make out
).


edit on 6/2/11 by Astyanax because: dohh



posted on Feb, 6 2011 @ 02:25 AM
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Originally posted by Stunspot
.....as well as the signals that brain receives .....



yes, you did say that. my bad.
edit on 6-2-2011 by tgidkp because: garrrrr



posted on Feb, 6 2011 @ 09:22 AM
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Originally posted by Astyanax
If the physical world is real and inferred via experience, then experience depends upon the physical world rather than vice versa. Change the externalities, and our experience changes along with them.

Of course. The physical world (including our own brains) is something that is being observed. So when it changes, so does the experience of observation.



Originally posted by Astyanax
Many things are self-evident, yet require definition so that we understand them fully. Indeed, this is true of any experience derived from the physical world (as all experiences must be). Otherwise, why even say 'I love you'?

Language exists to define experience. If such definition were unnecessary, we should not need language.

Language does not define experience. It names experience. The only thing a definition can do is attempt to describe the experience that a particular name represents in terms of other names, hoping the reader already has the memory of the experiences represented by the other names. And of course this always corrupts the concept more than simple naming (i.e. point and say "rock") would have.

Note that any dictionary definition of "purple" will not convey the concept to somebody who has never actually seen the color. Attempting to provide the definition of "subjective experience" in a way that will convey the concept accurately and understandably, would be akin to doing the same for "purple", only even more difficult because it's even more fundamental.

Language exists so primitive people could coordinate. It works great for such purposes. As the words get more and more abstract, and people start dreaming of logically impossible (and indeed incoherent) things like "precise definitions", the pitfalls of language become clear. We tend to think language is everything because we have been educated in it and modern civilization is built on it. We have all but forgotten the primitive roots of our perception. Try doing as much as you can in a day without so much as thinking about a word (when not necessary), only allowing yourself the more "logically primitive" experiences. This might be classed as a type of meditation, and if stuck with for long enough the experiences are quite perspective-changing.

Oh, and ask 10 different people to define "love" for you. How many different responses do you get?




Originally posted by Astyanax
Say rather that Dennett and his fellow-travellers, myself occasionally among them, doubt the existence of qualia per se. It is probable that what we recognize as qualia are the outputs of high-order processing functions that compute multiple input variables in real time. The quale is merely the representation of the output in a form that is meaningful to us.

What is "the representation of the output in a form that is meaningful for us"? If that phrase means the same thing to you that "experience" does to me, then there's your definition.

Now you just have to realize that absolutely everything you know is dependent upon it.



Originally posted by Astyanax
And indeed, if we look closely at the physiology of hearing, this is exactly what we find. The results of a series of complex operations (Fourier analysis of incoming waveforms, spatial imaging, etc.) become the quale of a Beethoven symphony or the sounds of a busy street – or, mirabile dictu, human language! The process by which this occurs is emphatically not conscious; we are only conscious of the results.

Once again, what does it mean to be "conscious of the results"? What is this clockwork brain missing, that you had to add the part after the semicolon?

If "conscious of the results" means something, what does it mean? And assuming you and I are both referring to the same intuitive understanding (what I have been naming "experience"), what is this exactly? How are we even talking about it? Talking (typing) is a physical act. But what clockwork process are we talking about? Or are we translating something non-physical into the material world? Are we creating something?



Originally posted by Astyanax
Moreover, it is now quite well established that even our 'conscious' decisions are made long before we become conscious of them. The early work of Benjamin Libet on this subject is widely known, but confirmatory data is now available from a number of other sources, in particular this study from Soon, Haynes et al. at the Max Planck Institute, published in Nature Neuroscience in 2008. It demonstrates that even supposedly 'freely willed' conscious decisions begin life as unconscious processes. If consciousness were primary, how could this possibly be so? The only answer is to start doubting the direction of time's arrow. That is not illegitmate, but if we begin piling conjecture upon conjecture in such a fashion, we shall end up in the same place as the solipsists: namely, the nuthouse.

I've read about these experiments before. They're interesting, but there is no way to set up an airtight methodology for this. Even if you could, I'm not sure what they prove. That the precise moment of time when a person initiates an action is half a second before the person thinks they did? Human perception of anything is imperfect. What difference does it make?



Originally posted by Astyanax
But it is not self-evident. A woman is conscious, but what about a cat? Anyone who owns a cat and is not an anthropomorphosizing sentimentalist is aware that cat behaviour is very little more than a set of conditioned responses. I'm sentimental enough about my own cats to ascribe a degree of consciousness to them, but what about a sparrow? A snake? A wasp? A jellyfish? Somewhere along the spectrum of biological intelligence consciousness vanishes altogether – but where? Even among humans, consciousness comes and goes. Where does it go while we are asleep, or dead drunk?

Indeed animals are much less conscious than humans, and this is on a spectrum all the way down to inorganic matter.

You might ask yourself though, what conditioning is present when you are in a critical situation that you must creatively solve your way out of? Or any learning experience requiring focused effort, including learning to drive a car for the first time? Any experience which grows new neural connections in your brain, building the neural net and producing the conditioning that you then call upon at a later point (when, surprise, the task is easier)? I have an idea of how I might have answered this from a mechanistic standpoint, so I'm not really asking for an answer; I am just presenting it as food for thought.

As for dreaming, I cannot answer from personal experience but I am still looking into it. Some of the more (IMO) respectable esotericists say dreaming is the same "place" you go as when you "astral project". The latter is something I've never been able to do, although I have yet to seriously try. I have read enough enough accounts of it that I am no longer very skeptical that some experience that people name "astral projection" is possible for humans, and would like to try it. This starts to go into esotericism though, something I'm still brand-new at and for the most part cannot personally vouch for.

edit on 6-2-2011 by NewlyAwakened because: (no reason given)



posted on Feb, 6 2011 @ 04:35 PM
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Originally posted by Astyanax
....But it is not self-evident. A woman is conscious, but what about a cat?.....


Originally posted by NewlyAwakened
...Indeed animals are much less conscious than humans, and this is on a spectrum all the way down to inorganic matter....


i should think that this is a factor of symbols used within the system to represent a given structure. this could be compared to the resolution or refresh-rate of the video feedback example i gave above. a cat has a very low resolution, and so the regression of the feedback-loop is not very deep. but the resolution of a person's symbol set is so deep that it creates a regression as compact as the singluarity of a black-hole.

an atomic structure only requires a handful of quantum symbols to represent its interactivity.

those symbols are combined and re-combined to form larger sets of molecular symbols, climaxing with genomic and inter-cellular signalling. (science is beginning to collect evidence of these meso-level quantum interactions.)

but then the cells themselves begin to combine and re-combine to form symbols. this effect of re-doubling is probably the bottom boundary of what we call conscious. it is only a matter of a certain threshold number of potential symbols within the system, at which point the symbol-set must bounce upward to a new layer in order to accomodate an even higher number of symbols. perhaps we could refer to this as the "quantum number of self-awareness".

the problem of representing this with human language is that *in order to use a tool, your level of consciousness must be greater than the tool's*. (isnt einstein quoted as saying something similar?)

a hammer cannot use a hammer.

so, by virtue of the fact that we use words, we are higher than those words. likewise, if we are to consider ourselves as symbols (objectively),

we cannot use ourselves.

thus, we cannot define our own consciousness within the boundaries of human language. it will require a contextual perspective greater than ourselves to understand our own consciousness. this is something which will be very difficult to agree upon. and once again, it is important to have definitions, but it is equally important not to waste too much time with semantics because the semantics are impossible.





posted on Feb, 7 2011 @ 12:02 AM
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So no one wants to tackle how a purely mechanical system can begin thinking "I'm alive!!" on its own, in the same way humans do?

Astyanax?

What's the programming for that?



posted on Feb, 7 2011 @ 06:12 AM
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reply to post by NewlyAwakened
 


Originally posted by Astyanax
If the physical world is real and inferred via experience, then experience depends upon the physical world rather than vice versa. Change the externalities, and our experience changes along with them.


Originally posted by NewlyAwakened
Of course. The physical world (including our own brains) is something that is being observed. So when it changes, so does the experience of observation.

Thank you. You have just admitted for the second time that object precedes subject, again proving my point for me.


Originally posted by NewlyAwakened
Language does not define experience. It names experience... Note that any dictionary definition of "purple" will not convey the concept to somebody who has never actually seen the color.

And heard somebody call it purple, which is the point. To name something correctly is to define it.


What is "the representation of the output in a form that is meaningful for us"? If that phrase means the same thing to you that "experience" does to me, then there's your definition.

Yes, but what's yours?


Originally posted by Astyanax
And indeed, if we look closely at the physiology of hearing, this is exactly what we find. The results of a series of complex operations become a quale... The process by which this occurs is emphatically not conscious; we are only conscious of the results.


Originally posted by NewlyAwakened
Once again, what does it mean to be "conscious of the results"? What is this clockwork brain missing, that you had to add the part after the semicolon?

That does not matter. The important point is that a vast amount of subconscious processing had to occur before the egotistical little homunculus behind the eyes even became aware that anything was happening.


I've read about these experiments before. They're interesting, but there is no way to set up an airtight methodology for this. Even if you could, I'm not sure what they prove. That the precise moment of time when a person initiates an action is half a second before the person thinks they did? Human perception of anything is imperfect. What difference does it make?

It makes all the difference, I'm afraid, and it will take more than random disparagement to dispose of these ghostbusting experiments.


What conditioning is present when you are in a critical situation that you must creatively solve your way out of? Or any learning experience requiring focused effort, including learning to drive a car for the first time? As for dreaming...

Nothing to the point, which is that the reality of consciousness cannot be taken for granted.

But look, NewlyAwakened: there's no use arguing any more. Game over. It was over the minute you admitted that external reality affects conscious perception.

*


reply to post by bsbray11
 

Read Stunspot's first post again.


edit on 7/2/11 by Astyanax because: (no reason given)



posted on Feb, 7 2011 @ 07:51 AM
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Originally posted by Astyanax
But look, NewlyAwakened: there's no use arguing any more. Game over. It was over the minute you admitted that external reality affects conscious perception.

I admitted that from the get-go. You are welcome to live in your own ideas of what that implies.

I expected it would end like this. I have made all the points I have wanted to make in this thread, and they are now in writing and published whether you like it or not.

It was good debating with you; your challenges have helped me put into words some concepts I had previously understood only intuitively. Thank you.

edit on 7-2-2011 by NewlyAwakened because: (no reason given)



posted on Feb, 7 2011 @ 09:06 AM
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Originally posted by bsbray11
So no one wants to tackle how a purely mechanical system can begin thinking "I'm alive!!" on its own, in the same way humans do?

Astyanax?

What's the programming for that?

Forget it. He and Stunspot are too busy proving they don't exist (in the manner described in this post).

I think this thread has already gone as far as it can possibly go.



edit on 7-2-2011 by NewlyAwakened because: (no reason given)



posted on Feb, 7 2011 @ 10:00 PM
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Originally posted by Stunspot
How does Mind arise from Matter? It probably doesn't -- at least not as formulated. It's like asking "How does a forum of debate, such as ATS, 'arise' from a collection of silicon and magnetic domains on a plastic platter?". The answer, of course, is that that is the wrong question. It arises not from the magnetic domains on the hard drive, but, rather, from _how they are arranged_ -- that is, from the information encoded in their geometry placed within the correct physical context (a working computer).


Actually, the physical processes by which this website manifests out of computers is well-understood, as it would have to be for computers and the internet to be engineered at all.

The only reason your question is the "wrong question" is because there is something else organizing the information on these boards that doesn't fit into electronics engineering: human consciousness.



So how does Mind arise from Brain? From the information encoded within it electrochemically (and possibly quantum mechanically) interacting with itself on that informational level. The experience of subjectivity seems to be a purely informational phenomenon, but, being as it is encoded in matter, is intimately tied to one's physical configuration (drugs, hormones, injury, genes, gene expression, whathaveyou).


If this was factually correct then you would be able to describe how the brain goes from unconscious cells to an experience of being alive and conscious, just like it's completely possible to explain how a website manifests in terms of electronics engineering.

Instead, this is something for which science has not achieved such an understanding.



posted on Feb, 7 2011 @ 10:33 PM
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It all comes down to the question "Why am I me and not you?" and the question of personal identity.

I've posted a few threads on this.

If it's all material, then why am I aware of myself and not you? And no it's not like a computer or a robot becoming "self-aware" of itself. You can easily destroy or kill a computer or a robot (or cyborg) because you know it's not a real person, but you don't want to kill another human being. Why is that?

Perhaps a little study on Heidegger, Sartre, et al will bring light on what is meant by consciousness and self awareness.



posted on Feb, 8 2011 @ 02:57 AM
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reply to post by NewlyAwakened
 


I have made all the points I have wanted to make in this thread, and they are now in writing and published whether you like it or not.

Why on earth do you think I might not like it? Demolishing them is great fun, you know.

*


reply to post by NewlyAwakened
 


He and Stunspot are too busy proving they don't exist.

Oh, I exist all right – as a physical entity and a conscious one too, but not as some kind of mystic gas-bubble.

edit on 8/2/11 by Astyanax because: I wuz attacked by metaphysical vampires before I could finish it.





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