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Consciousness and the Paranormal — Part 10

Discussion in 'General Freewheeling Chit-Chat' started by Gene Steinberg, Jun 12, 2017.



  1. Soupie

    Soupie Paranormal Adept

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  2. smcder

    smcder Paranormal Adept

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  3. smcder

    smcder Paranormal Adept

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    From "non-materialist physicalism"

    Both "consciousness" and "physical" are contested terms. Accurately if inelegantly, consciousness may be described following Nagel ("What is it like to be a bat?") as the subjective what-it's-like-ness of experience. Academic philosophers term such self-intimating "raw feels" "qualia" – whether macro-qualia or micro-qualia. The minimum unit of consciousness (or "psychon", so to speak) has been claimed variously to be the entire universe, a person, a sub-personal neural network, an individual neuron, or the most basic entities recognised by quantum physics. In The Principles of Psychology (1890), American philosopher and psychologist William James christened these phenomenal simples "primordial mind-dust". This paper conjectures that (1) our minds consist of ultra-rapidly decohering neuronal superpositions in strict accordance with unmodified quantum physics without the mythical "collapse of the wavefunction"; (2) natural selection has harnessed the properties of these neuronal superpositions so our minds run phenomenally bound world-simulations; and (3) predicts that with enough ingenuity the non-classical interference signature of these conscious neuronal superpositions will be independently experimentally detectable (see 6 below) to the satisfaction of the most incredulous critic.
     
  4. Constance

    Constance Paranormal Adept

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    This Pearce paper is intriguing, and it looks like it's going to be a challenge to follow it to the author's conclusions. Has anyone here read Revonsuo? Pearce cites him so I've read text samples of the cited book, Inner Presence: Consciousness as a Biological Phenomenon, at
    amazon. So far it seems to me that Pearce is following ideas developed by Revonsuo.

    https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01K0T3YIA/ref=rdr_ext_tmb
     
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2017
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  5. smcder

    smcder Paranormal Adept

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    OK - as I understand it

    from #2 below: Consciousness discloses the intrinsic nature of the physical

    and Pearce's (empirically testable) suggested solution to the binding problem

    ... he considers the hard problem to be solved. If that's right, then he follows Russell that phenomenal consciousness is the "intrinsic nature" of matter - what he claims to have added to the discussion about the hard problem is an empirically testable hypothesis re: the binding problem. I'll keep reading but that is my understanding right now.

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

    10. Summary and Prospects.
    The Hard Problem of Consciousness Solved; the Explanatory Gap Closed; the Binding Problem Tamed; Zombies Banished; and Physicalism Saved.
    Let's recap. Here are our key assumptions and the weird but experimentally falsifiable prediction that follows. If the prediction fails, then our defence of idealistic physicalism is refuted.

    1) Strong emergence is false. Physicalism is true. No "element of reality" is missing from the equations of tomorrow's physics and their solutions.

    2) Consciousness discloses the intrinsic nature of the physical. Therefore, rudimentary consciousness occurs, not just at ultra-small distance scales, but also at ultra-short time scales. A future Planck-scale unification of quantum gravity will presumably capture the ultimate "psychon" of Planck-regime consciousness.

    3) The unmodified, unsupplemented formalism of post-Everett quantum mechanics is correct. "Hidden variables", Bohmian mechanics, and dynamical collapse theories of wavefunction collapse are false. Thus macroscopic quantum-coherent neuronal superpositions occur in the mind-brain. At sufficiently fine-grained temporal resolutions, the entire mind-brain exists in a single, conscious, quantum-coherent superposition. A succession of ultra-rapidly decohering virtual world superpositions constitutes biological minds. Internally, world-simulations typically seem classical. Their vehicles, i.e. phenomenally bound organic minds, are irreducibly non-classical.

    4) Direct realism about perception – and hence the notion that neurosurgeons or experimenters ever directly "observe" anyone else's decohered classical brain or decohered classical neurons – is false. When notionally "observing" our surroundings, both awake and dreaming organic minds instantiate individual bound perceptual objects ("local" neuronal binding) that populate dynamic world-simulations undergone by a fleetingly unitary phenomenal self ("global" binding). Phenomenal binding is not a classical phenomenon. Instead, phenomenally bound quantum-coherent neuronal superpositions have been recruited by natural selection to generate seemingly mind-independent, ostensibly classical virtual worlds. When awake, quantum biocomputers generate such pseudo-classical worlds to track fitness-relevant patterns in our local environment. Except in a dreamless sleep or coma, organic mind-brains are not decohered "pixels" of discrete neuronal micro-experiences.

    The Retrodiction.
    We are not zombies. Nor are we quasi-zombies, i.e. patterns of decohered neuronal "mind-dust". So there is no Hard Problem of consciousness and, in principle, no binding problem either: we're not micro-experiential zombies. Instead, we are fleetingly unitary phenomenal minds. Empirical evidence that our minds are quantum computers lies in front of our (virtual) eyes.
     
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  6. smcder

    smcder Paranormal Adept

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    I think that's right (my previous post) but I updated the quora question - so maybe we'll get a confirmation from him -

    8. A Mendeleev Table for Qualia?
    If sentient agents are to understand the intrinsic subjective properties of matter and energy, or to map out what we naively call the "neural correlates of consciousness", or most ambitiously, to devise a comprehensive "Mendeleev table" for qualia, then the diverse subjective textures of consciousness will play an inescapable role in the investigation by the very nature of the task. Intelligent agents will need to re-engineer themselves – genetically, pharmacologically, neurologically smcder italics – in order to instantiate the subjective physical states in question. We'll need to become a full-spectrum "super-Mary"(44), so to speak – investigating state-spaces of consciousness disclosed by configurations of matter and energy that have never before been recruited for any information-processing purpose. Such state-spaces of consciousness are currently beyond the scope of scientific investigation.
    By contrast, classical digital zombies cannot explore the nature of sentience; their circuitry wouldn't understand what they were investigating, let alone be cognisant of its mechanisms. This far-reaching task falls to bound phenomenal minds. A combinatorial explosion of possibilities means that the investigation of the alien state-spaces of consciousness may take millions of years, perhaps billions or more.* By contrast, constructing the mathematical formalism of a unified TOE over the next few decades may prove surprisingly easy. [Just email the author for details.] smcder italics

    smcder
    *this is good new for immortal transhumanists, as it means they have something to pass the time by ... it also reminds me of Stephen Wolfram's exploration of algorithmic/mathematical "spaces" ...

    Early in the twenty-first century, we commonly assume that physical scientists research the objective properties of matter and energy. This is true – up to a point. If physicalistic idealism is correct, then this commonplace is no more than a half-truth. For the intrinsic, subjective, first-person properties of matter and energy are real, objective and amenable to formal description via the evolution of the universal wavefunction, just as are the third-person relational properties – the properties captured by the formalism of relativistic quantum field theory or its successor. In short: we've mastered the right formalism, just assumed the wrong materialistic ontology. Subjective experience and phenomenal binding are a Hard Problem for the classical scientific materialist in the same way that fossils are a Hard Problem for the Creationist. In both cases, the anomaly in question demands a major revision of the believer's conceptual scheme. In both cases, believers are prone to spending their lives in denial.

    On the face of it, to pronounce on the nature of what physical science is actually investigating might seem presumptuous for anyone but a professional physicist. Yet we don't allow the fact that, say, Newton believed he was investigating divine mechanical clockwork, or that he fancied his foremost achievement was his interpretation of the Book of Daniel, to impugn Newton's status as the greatest scientist who ever lived. Likewise, it's no disrespect to the greats of contemporary mathematical or experimental physics to say that we still don't understand the intrinsic nature of physical reality. Likewise, it's no disrespect to hard-working neuroscientists to say that we simply don't understand the mind-brain when its defining feature, consciousness, is physically impossible within the reigning materialist paradigm of science.

    In a similar vein, to assert that mathematics investigates patterns of quantity, structure, space, and change would seem a commonplace. The claim that maths is really about qualia-patterns sounds bizarre. More telling is Bertrand Russell's jaundiced observation "Mathematics may be defined as the subject in which we never know what we are talking about, nor whether what we are saying is true." If idealistic physicalism is correct, then mathematics is ultimately about computable patterns of qualia: their quantity, structure, and change. Once again, perhaps we've mastered the formalism rather than adequately grasped the underlying ontology whose relations it captures.

    perhaps ...
     
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  7. smcder

    smcder Paranormal Adept

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    Will do - I've updated my quora response as above, but I think I understand roughly what he is getting at - consciousness is the intrinsic nature of matter and that the structural mismatch problem exists at the classical but not the quantum level ... he proposes an experiment to show an exact structural match but it's not clear when he thinks such an experiment could be conducted ... using a common rule of thumb re: predictions and based on Pearce's current age, I would say in about 25 years.
     
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  8. Constance

    Constance Paranormal Adept

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    Thank you for this clear exposition of the structure of Pearce's premises and reasoning. As always, Steve, you are able to penetrate texts as dense as Pearce's and foreground the structure of hypotheses as complex as his concerning the nature of consciousness relative to the author's conception of the nature of 'reality'. It would have taken me days to do that, if indeed I could have done so on my own.

    I'm fascinated by Pearce's ambitious (virtual) 'world picture' and the ontology he as yet imagines but believes will be demonstrated experimentally at some point in time. It raises a number of questions for me that I will attempt to sort out and pose for discussion after reading the rest of his paper, now better equipped to do so given your analysis.

    At the end of his paper there is a link to an Appendix titled "All At Sea? -- Max Tegmark and the Phenomenal Binding Problem":

    Appendix to Physicalistic Idealism: Max Tegmark and the phenomenal binding problem

     
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  9. smcder

    smcder Paranormal Adept

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    I look forward to it - I'm reading Tegmark's paper now ... I did a quick search to see if Tegmark had a response, but didn't find anything - I did find a brief mention of Pearce by David Chalmers on his Facebook page. As far as I can tell Pearce's work seems to be largely self-published. He alludes on his quora page that he is more active on social media and writing fewer papers.
     
  10. smcder

    smcder Paranormal Adept

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  11. smcder

    smcder Paranormal Adept

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  12. Soupie

    Soupie Paranormal Adept

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    @smcder

    I'm almost done with the paper. I'll need to reread afterward. It, along with the recent paper on cosmopsychism, seem to wholly capture the approach to the MBP that I have been exploring. In Pearce's paper, many—indeed almost all—of the disparate thoughts I have shared over the past few years are much more clearly expressed and synthesized.

    I'm not on the same page with him as far as superpositions being the last and only hope to address the binding problem. For starters, as I've noted, if we start with a continuous background, then rather then a binding problem we may have a filtering problem.

    I would like him to have addresses that.

    Also, regarding the potential time issues with atto, femto, etc time intervals, he doesn't seem to have considered the now pretty well documented role of predictive processing in perception.

    Anyhow, here are two interesting links I wanted to pass along:

    Prior expectations induce prestimulus sensory templates. - PubMed - NCBI ( @Burnt State will appreciate this research re the UFO stimulus. )

    There Is an 'Unconscious,' but It May Well Be Conscious. - PubMed - NCBI
     
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  13. smcder

    smcder Paranormal Adept

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    For starters, as I've noted, if we start with a continuous background, then rather then a binding problem we may have a filtering problem.


    Doesn't he address that concern here (middle of the next to last paragraph of section 2) and in other sections of the paper too:

    "But when our experimental apparatus allows probing the CNS at the sub-femtosecond timescales below which e.g. Max Tegmark ("Why the brain is probably not a quantum computer") posits effectively irreversible thermally-induced decoherence, then our classical intuitions may be confounded. On this conjecture, we will find, not random quantum "noise", but instead the structural quantum-coherent physical shadows of the bound macroscopic phenomenal objects of everyday experience - all computationally optimised by hundreds of millions years of evolution to track fitness-relevant patterns in the mind-independent world, i.e. a perfect structural match, not a mismatch, between the phenomenology of consciousness and our canonical representations of the physical."

    ?
     
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  14. smcder

    smcder Paranormal Adept

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    predictive processing: https://predictive-mind.net/
     
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  15. smcder

    smcder Paranormal Adept

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    There Is an 'Unconscious,' but It May Well Be Conscious.
    Kastrup B. Eur J Psychol. 2017.
    Show full citation
    Abstract
    Depth psychology finds empirical validation today in a variety of observations that suggest the presence of causally effective mental processes outside conscious experience. I submit that this is due to misinterpretation of the observations: the subset of consciousness called "meta-consciousness" in the literature is often mistaken for consciousness proper, thereby artificially creating space for an "unconscious." The implied hypothesis is that all mental processes may in fact be conscious, the appearance of unconsciousness arising from our dependence on self-reflective introspection for gauging awareness. After re-interpreting the empirical data according to a philosophically rigorous definition of consciousness, I show that two well-known phenomena corroborate this hypothesis: (a) experiences that, despite being conscious, aren't re-represented during introspection; and (b) dissociated experiences inaccessible to the executive ego. If consciousness is inherent to all mentation, it may be fundamental in nature, as opposed to a product of particular types of brain function.

    If consciousness is inherent to all mentation, it may be fundamental in nature, as opposed to a product of particular types of brain function.


    I have not read the article, but I would read it with a critical eye on the above conclusion in terms of:

    On the other hand, if consciousness is inherent to all mental processes, then the specific anatomical and/or functional parameters of different processes correspond merely to different contents and/or configurations of consciousness—that is, to the particular qualities that are experienced—but do not determine the presence or absence of consciousness itself. This allows us to circumvent the “hard problem of consciousness” altogether, by inferring that consciousness is primary. While it’s not my intent in this paper to argue for or against any particular ontology of mind, it is significant that a lucid, critical interpretation of the available empirical data leaves more avenues of philosophical inquiry open.

    it seems to me this doesn't necessarily rule out NCCs - because he is still talking about "specific anatomical or functional parameters of different processes" right? So there seems to be a jump to claim that consciousness is fundamental, because all of these processes could have a NCC in common - do we know that's not the case yet? And further, if consciousness is fundamental, then all processes in the body (and elsewhere) could contribute to the contents and configurations of consciousness - this isn't something I've seen Panpsychists claim, but it could mean that what it is like to, for example, drink a glass of water, depends in part on what it is like for the water to be drunk (insert joke here) - after all, if consciousness is fundamental, it's not tied to specific processes in the brain, so on that thinking, our bodily experiences could depend in part on the fundamental consciousness throughout our bodies and anything we come into contact with - at the least, not sure about that - but that might be taken up by some as a cause for concern re: panpsychism ... I've not seen that line of thought before, but I've not looked for it either ... Schwitzgebel perhaps (I wonder what it is like to be a line of thought that is looked for? Maybe my intention to search will be met by that piece of information's intention to be found - maybe that's why I'm so good at finding things on the internet ...)
     
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  16. smcder

    smcder Paranormal Adept

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  17. Swamp Gas

    Swamp Gas Skilled Investigator

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    Consciousness? Consciousness?

    If we sincerely and completely throw out EVERY bloody thing that we currently believe or have ever read or heard said about consciousness -- what then is our first hand, uncompromised experience of it?
    What?

    If "consciousness" is a genuinely important subject -- then that's what really matters isn't it? Thoroughly forgetting everything that came before so we can discover what is the alive and intimate sense of consciousness right here, right now? All else is mental masturbation. He said, she said.

    Unlike every-thing, consciousness -- is not an object. It is the aware-space in which all objects (thoughts, feelings, emotions, occurrences, etc. appear). Look and see. Consciousness comes before experience.

    Do you want to really, really know what consciousness is? Then you have to place your most intimate sense of aware-presence under the microscope of an acute yearning and desire to know.
    Simple, but very radical. A road less traveled.
    You go it alone. You place importance on what is unmoving and silently looking and perceiving in this moment. Not on what changes, moves or can be observed (Just the opposite of everyday "life').

    Looking at what is looking, we discover what we really are. Who knew?

    Edited sometime later to add: IMO, the paranormal is only a subset of phenomenal experiences that consciousness observes like it does any and all experience. In the end it doesn't matter to consciousness what wisps of experience pass through it, either normal or "paranormal". Consciousness remains silent and pristinely untouched no matter. Look and see.
     
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2017
  18. Usual Suspect

    Usual Suspect USI Calgary

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    Welcome to the thread. You've stepped into a 10 part pile of doo doo that goes nowhere.
     
  19. Swamp Gas

    Swamp Gas Skilled Investigator

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    Thank you for the welcome. Actually this is my second step into this thread. Now I have both feet covered. Thank god I wasn't barefoot.
     
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  20. smcder

    smcder Paranormal Adept

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    If we sincerely and completely throw out EVERY bloody thing that we currently believe or have ever read or heard said about consciousness -- what then is our first hand, uncompromised experience of it?
    What?


    That sounds a lot like Husserl's phenomenology.
     
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