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Consciousness and the Paranormal — Part 11

Discussion in 'General Freewheeling Chit-Chat' started by Gene Steinberg, Dec 26, 2017.



  1. smcder

    smcder Paranormal Adept

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    Klaassen

    "It seems then that the sense of contingency that accompanies the fact that I am Tim Klaassen is really illusory. Wherever there exists the self conscious human being that is Tim Klaassen, I am necessesarily there, present to his point of view. And this gives my existence a very real and robust quality. No matter what, as long as Tim Klaassen is alive, I am here and no one else. It could not be otherwise."

    1. OK, but is the fact that there is a TK not contingent? Does the feel of this problem (what I call cognitive "funny bone" problems, what others call aporia) influence our thinking on it? It seems that just here, like on a lot of questions (ethical questions come to mind (which I think ethical considerations are inseparable from individual identity questions)) - the feel of the problem (note: notably absent for some people) is a real factor.

    EXAMPLE - I am leery of hypotheticals, much less super-duper ones like the one below, but in my defense in this instance, some people believe the following may be possible some day (soon). AND I think it's quite easy to see what each variation gets at and its possible it may change your intuitions, or at least it's possible it may be changing mine:

    "would you allow the contents/configuration of your brain to be uploaded to a computer?"
    i.e. a digital representation is made of the synaptic connections - or, do you prefer an analog representation is made? Would your answer change if we say they are instantiated by the newly invented/discovered memristor - which functions a lot like a real neuron ... would it change if it were transferred to a new human brain/body tabula rasa - would it change if say this is done with an artificial neuron arbitrarily physically similar to your own neurons? - (i.e. by some miracle of material science, you can specify how physically similar the substrate is to your own brain, for any degree of similarity x, x < the specified degree of similarity - up to and including bio-identicality).

    Would it change if a digital copy were made and then later the physical instantiation were made? Would it change if the digital copy were destroyed but a printout had been made and then someone hand codes it back in to a computer and then instantiates it into any kind of substrate you desire? (is time a factor, is the substrate a factor? does it matter if at some point all that's left of you is an ink jet printout? Is any transmission allowable?)

    Would you consider it if it were transferred to any of the above and then back down into your own mind and body (the synapses having been randomly re-connected to one another in the meantime?)*

    A. Your brain is not destroyed in the process.
    B. It is.
    C. Same question but for a loved one.
    D. Under what, if any, circumstances - would you allow your brain to be transferred?
    E. What is the legal identity of the above if A? If B?
    F. Similarly for what is your relationship to the loved one?

    I find that I have a different gut response to being transferred to anything, including a "bio-identical" or arbitrarily identical brain than to being transferred to another brain - there is still a twinge with thinking about being transferred to another brain - does that mean I harbor some non-physical sense of who I am? Can that not be explained indexically? That whatever is transferred just isn't me and that's important? (to me?) Under no circumstances do I find myself more comfortable with B - the brain is destroyed - that seems to me telling for any other circumstance - so that while I am more comfortable with being transferred to another human body, B makes me realize that is no more me than any other variant - although it's arguably human, and the question of the humanity of the others is questionable. But that's only true if there is something essential to being in a body/brain.

    Of course we can dismiss the whole thing as impossible - that whatever data is carried over isn't human/wouldn't be conscious, etc but then we have to explain what the extra is. Let's modify the Star Trek transporter problem. We have a device that records no data. But simply pulls out, elementary particle by elementary particle - "One Quark At A Time" to misquote the great philosopher of mind, Johnny Cash - you and whips it one hundred miles away into the same relative physical configuration - and does so arbitrarily rapidly, instantaneously, if you wish. Do you buy it? If the most precious thing in the world was one hundred miles away and going to be gone in an instant if you are not there to save it - would you buy it?

    So all of that I think explores how our gut feelings interacts with our "rational mind" - to me, all the scenarios are the same and the answer is no - to me, in that last process, I would be violently, if instantly (or instantly but violently) torn apart and I would not be put together again, horses and men be damned. Something would be lost, but what?

    On the one hand, I seem to be arguing that the physical as it is is very important, on the other I seem to feel that I is not just physical.

     
  2. smcder

    smcder Paranormal Adept

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    Postscript

    The Ship of Theseus -
    Or
    whose boat is it anyway?

    As I think we understand it now, the neurons we have are the neurons we have, life-long - if a cure for degenerative brain disease were found that let neurons re-generate or, more to the point, to be replaced, wouldn't the same feelings apply as above? Why does this seem more tolerable? Who wouldn't agree to a greatly extended life or even a greatly extended quality of life by allowing one's neurons to be replaced, from the inside, one by one? I think this does happen with the body, but not with the mind? To show how little I know of physics, if all the neurons in the body are with you for life, is the individual composition of each neuron the same for that period of time? Is there a Ship of Theseus problem at the level of the quark?
     
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  3. smcder

    smcder Paranormal Adept

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    Ethical extensions of this problem are:

    • Corporate person hood (Citizens United)
      • literally the personhood of corporations
      • AND "corporate" personhood which is the identity of states, nations, groups - each of course composed of actual persons, so there is no loss of humanity as in the above scenarios person > neuron corporate > person but in some ways we don't think groups of people are more persons, do we? Schwitzgebel says it might be true that the United States is conscious.
    BUT
    • Corporations may be sociopathic if organized capitalistically but I argue that we may think some organizations are supra-human(e) - think of your favorite charity, think of the democratic process with checks and balances - designed to avoid the limits of human goodness - what is the difference in the rules of these organizations and the rules by which a physicalist says a mind is organized? Do groups have free will? Agency?
    I think part of what seems so attractive (what makes it seem more significant of a problem than it is) about the problem of noumenal consciousness is that it over-values the individual because it is about US (or is a problem for those who put a lot of value on I or re-ify I or make it something fundamental - I don't know how much I has to be there in a human being even in a complex society - I think I have known people who have very little sense of I and are not the worse for it) now I'm not saying YOU are self-centered, I'm saying it may be our peculiar 21st century notion of self that is part of the "problem". The longer I think about how you are the "not me" that I am for you - the more I see less difference in us - this doesn't make me put the fork in your mouth nor even to make stupid altruistic mistakes - like throwing myself in a puddle so the bus runs over me and you don't get splashed - rather it equalizes the value of you and I - so that the question of why am I me and not you? and why am I not someone who died a long time ago or would be born in a hundred years, not really a good question. Or that might make me say that I am that person, without saying I am all persons at the same time. It emphasizes that I am exactly like you in my uniqueness, so there is no particular value to that uniqueness, objectively, although we have built a lot of structures on the posit that there is.

    What I think I see often in the various papers we look at it is a taking for granted that how things seem to us is not significantly altered by our peculiar social psychology - that seems to be still lurking under the starting point of a lot of problems - the writer simply takes their starting point as the starting point (with a little pains, but phenomenology I think is acutely aware of this)

    In this case, in fact, is there any particular self or I that comes "standard" with a human being? No matter where, when born/raised? I think there are elastic limits, but what are they? That I is so dependent on language/society that it may be impossible to ask the noumenal question apart from it - i.e. is Tim Klaassen possible in 1900? 1800? 1700 ... 50,000 BC?

    So does that make the noumenal problem, as problem contingent?
     
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2018
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  4. Constance

    Constance Paranormal Adept

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    This discussion between you and @Pharoah is absolutely fascinating. I need to read the Klassen paper before I can respond to the issues raised in this and succeeding posts from you, Steve, today.
     
  5. Soupie

    Soupie Paranormal Adept

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    As ive noted in the past, imo this problem is not a problem for a monist, only a dualist. could you explain why the question @Pharoah posses relates to problems you have with conscious realism?

    Also, this again may relate to the problem weve discussed about qualities. Just as we can ask why is a banana a banana and not a potato we can ask why is green green and not red. A different but related issue perhaps.

    Coincidentally the following came through in my stream today:

    Theseus Brain: Can you prolong your life by uploading your brain to a computer? | Neurochatter

    "In conclusion, there is no difference between the experience of uploading your brain to a computer and experiencing the flow of time in your dedicated biological body. Not because you remain yourself when you are uploaded, but because there is no continuous self. In this sense continuity of self is an illusion and an upload of all your memory would in essence enable eternal life. However, this absence of actual continuity of existence also means that your life only lasts a moment. In the each new moment a fleeting individual is born that inherits all you memories and only lasts a moment before it again is replaced."

    Re the atomic composition of cells

    Atomic Tune-Up: How the Body Rejuvenates Itself

    "But what they may not know is that the body does its own extreme makeover regularly. In fact, 98 percent of the atoms in the body are replaced yearly."
     
  6. Pharoah

    Pharoah Paranormal Adept

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    I don't see how this is not a problem for the monist... ?? Could you say why it is not pls?
    I don't think it relate to qualities at all, i.e. it is not related to the nature of content.
    Actually, I'm fascinated by creatures that metamorphose... a caterpillar has its WIIL, turns into soup, becomes a butterfly and has its WIIL Does it retain anything about its caterpillar life? What experiments could test the relationship?
    On the prolonging life/computer thing. Could you avoid the traffic in London by going over it if you were to ride on the back of a flying pig? Yes... conceivably you could... if pigs could fly and you could then debate that and make inference from it all you like ad infinitum.. but unfortunately they don't, so you couldn't, and there's not much point.
     
  7. Pharoah

    Pharoah Paranormal Adept

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    @smcder haven't read K yet. Not had time but intend to
     
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  8. Constance

    Constance Paranormal Adept

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    "Is there any particular self or I that comes "standard" with a human being?"

    How could there be when the infant comes into the world filled with potentialities for, rather than realizations of, experiences and selfhood. Selfhood develops out of the endless accumulations of personal experience undergone by a protoconscious or conscious being in its continually (if not continuously) open-ended interactions with things and others in the world.
     
  9. Soupie

    Soupie Paranormal Adept

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    You've posed this problem as "why am I me" but if I follow the above, what you're really asking is "why is anything anything." Right? You say: "It can satisfy why there are uoms but not any particular one of those kind."

    So let's substitute "car" for "uoms." We get "Physics can satisfy why there are lots of things we call cars but not why there is any particular car."

    If we're talking about little "m" meaning, then I think physics can satisfy why there are things we call cars AND why there is a particular car. If we're talking big "m" Meaning, then (current) physics can't satisfy that why perhaps (why is there something instead of nothing).

    If consciousness just is physical or weakly or strongly emerges from physical processes, then it follows that "me" is physical, and therefor physics can satisfy why there are "mes" AND any particular one of those mes.

    If one maintains that the self (mind) and the body (matter) are ontologically distinct, and thus because physics would only satisfy questions about the body but not satisfy questions about the mind, then a dualist hasn't a clue why I am me and not you.
     
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2018
  10. Constance

    Constance Paranormal Adept

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    I was not aware of this fact (or perhaps apparent fact) so I searched the concept on google and found this clarifying page. I recommend reading all of it (two segments):

    Bulletin #4356, Children and Brain Development: What We Know About How Children Learn | Cooperative Extension Publications | University of Maine


    Given the information at the link I provided, it seems clear that enormous numbers of neurons present at birth are discarded after birth, and that the forming of neuronal synapses in early childhood affects the subsequent quality of whole-brain integration as the child ages into adulthood. It's also clear that the efficacious functioning of neuronal synapses is subject to degeneration [from various causes] as life continues, and that neurons and their synapses degenerate further as humans reach advanced ages. It's also clear that psychoactive drugs prescribed for depression and anxiety can enhance the activity/vigor of the neuronal synapses, which is necessery to maintain the efficacy of the whole brain network. It might become possible one day that neurons still viable in aged or distressed brains could be regenerated.

    The question of whether artificially produced neurons implanted in the brains of still living persons could be a) accepted by the brain rather than rejected as many implanted tissues and organs are, and b) thenceforth function in harmony with the brain's natural neurons and synapses is a completely open question so far as I know. I think it's important, in contemplating these future possibilities, to take cognizance of the fact that implantations of other organs in humans have led to significant changes in the organ recipient's interests, tastes and preferences for music and other forms of expression, behaviors, and even personality that are consistent with the individual whose organ has been donated. To me that speaks of whole body, brain, and mind integration in the donor, aspects of which change the recipient.
     
  11. Constance

    Constance Paranormal Adept

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    Are any us active in this thread still ontological 'dualists'? Also, are any of us dedicated to the proposition that physics can explain the nature of biological life?
     
  12. Constance

    Constance Paranormal Adept

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    Pharoah said:

    DID is irrelevant. And the monolithic or otherwise nature of self is not relevant either to the WAIMANSE. Nor is it about the content or the (dynamic) nature of the content of identity. It is not even about Being... or about the embeddedness of Being, either within or maybe without the body. It is about the transient placement, in the entirety of existence, of one's particular self
    Click to expand...

    Steve replied:

    Steve, would you clarify what you mean in the underscored statement? Thanks.
     
  13. Constance

    Constance Paranormal Adept

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  14. Soupie

    Soupie Paranormal Adept

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    Strong emergence is a form of ontological dualism. Especially if, as youve suggested re NDEs and OBEs, once consciousness and mind strongly emerge from the body, it evolves separately and apart from the body.

    Re physics explaining the nature of biological life.

    Of course biological laws and principles are needed to explain physics at the level of biology. But biological laws weakly emerge from (micro) physical laws, and thus in principle it is possible to explain the nature of biological life in physical terms.
     
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  15. smcder

    smcder Paranormal Adept

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    1. What is the CR response to WAIM&NY?
    2. It's no coincidence.
    3. Strawson's thin self
    4. Are the other 2% neurons?
     
  16. smcder

    smcder Paranormal Adept

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    Is the flying pig thing to say uploading is impossible?
     
  17. Constance

    Constance Paranormal Adept

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    Last edited: Jan 13, 2018
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  18. smcder

    smcder Paranormal Adept

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    You're pretty hard on those dualists-isn't it bad enough that they are all made of straw? ;-)

    Indexicals....
     
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  19. smcder

    smcder Paranormal Adept

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    "Strong emergence is a form of ontological dualism."

    It is tricky...if consciousness strongly emerges from matter...can we say it is ontologically distinct in the same way of substance dualism? Consciousness might not ever have emerged in the former but in SD the mental and physical are fundamental from the getgo.
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2018
  20. smcder

    smcder Paranormal Adept

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    Soupie
    "There are processes that are primary in relation to p-consciousness, (sic) self-interaction, and differentiation. And there are likely other properties beyond those that are beyond our ken. If p-consciousness is the intrinsic nature of the physical, it may have other non-physical properties."

    Smcderson
    "There are processes that are primary in relation to matter: self-interaction, and differentiation. And there are likely other properties beyond those that are beyond our ken. If matter is the extrinsic nature of p-consciousness, it may have other physical properties."
     
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