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Consciousness and the Paranormal — Part 11



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Soupie

Paranormal Adept
Sorry Randle, I don't have the energy to respond to this. Carry on.
Not to mentioned that we've discussed ad nauseam why analogies such as brain-mind/bulb-light are fundamentally problematic.

There's no reason to believe these problems won't be overcome but there's no reason to believe they will.
 

Soupie

Paranormal Adept
Another site for Wilson...

Dr Andrew D Wilson

"...but I can't see how a body can phenomenally perceive without some form of representation/intention."

I'm not following this...representation seems an extra step...the way early robots tried to map a room before attempting to drive across it...Brooks came along with subsumptive architecture and sensors wired to effectors and produced capable robots of very little brain.
It may be that representation is an extra step that isn't needed for complex behavior. But then what is phenomenal consciousness then if not representations (in the loose sense, meaning not an exact miniature model of the what-is) of what is?

If all complex behavior can be exhibited by organisms via embodied knowledge (stimulus/response) then what role is here for the umwelt to play? Is it simply doubly epiphenomenal?
 

USI Calgary

J. Randall Murphy
Staff member
Not to mentioned that we've discussed ad nauseam why analogies such as brain-mind/bulb-light are fundamentally problematic.
Pretty much everything here has been discussed ad nauseam between you guys , but not every reader who comes here has followed the thread from day one like we have, and therefore they may not be aware of the discussions you mention or know that that any I'm aware of don't invalidate the light bulb analogy as I have used it. Perhaps however I've missed some other response to the analogy that is more coherent than past objections. If so, by all means post a link to the specific post(s) and I'll have a look.
 
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USI Calgary

J. Randall Murphy
Staff member
... If all complex behavior can be exhibited by organisms via embodied knowledge (stimulus/response) then what role is here for the umwelt to play? Is it simply doubly epiphenomenal?
Umwelt: Edge.org, as described there may not be relevant to a phenomenological perspective. The behavior of the tick in the example ( for example ) could be the result of a simple mechanistic response.
 

Soupie

Paranormal Adept
Pretty much everything here has been discussed ad nauseam between you guys , but not every reader who comes here has followed the thread from day one like we have, and therefore they may not be aware of the discussions you mention or know that that any I'm aware of don't invalidate the light bulb analogy as I have used it. Perhaps however I've missed some other response to the analogy that is more coherent than past objections. If so, by all means post a link to the specific post(s) and I'll have a look.
Anything in the thread or literature related to emergence, weak or strong.

Umwelt: Edge.org, as described there may not be relevant to a phenomenological perspective. The behavior of the tick in the example ( for example ) could be the result of a simple mechanistic response.
Yes, I think this is correct. However, others (maybe?) interpret the umwelt as being phenomenal in nature.

But, again, this discussion begs the question, if all behavior—and i mean all—can be explained mechanistically, what is phenomenal consciousness, and why did and how does it evolve? (Note: thats a rhetorical question.)
 

smcder

Paranormal Adept
Here is an extract from a paper the whole of which might be helpful to us in gaining a grip on the concept of 'representation'. The paper is entitled "The Ontology of Concepts—Abstract Objects or Mental Representations?"; the author is Eric Margolis.

". . . The Psychological View is the default position in many areas of cognitive science and enjoys a good deal of support in the philosophy of mind. It is at the center of a rich and powerful model of the mind, but two of its benefits are especially worth mentioning. The first is the promise of explaining the productivity of thought. Productivity refers to the fact that, under suitable idealization, there is no upper bound to the range of semantically distinct thoughts. One way of appreciating just how vast our cognitive capacities are is to consider the thoughts associated with the sentences of a natural language. As Noam Chomsky has noted, nearly every sentence we speak or hear is a sentence we have never before encountered, but despite the novelty of these sentences, we have no difficulty entertaining the corresponding thoughts. (The sentences of this paper are an example. It’s unlikely that readers have come across most of these very sentences before.) The psychologist George Miller (1995) makes the point all the more vivid by focusing on just 20-word sentences, asking how many of these we can understand. Assuming conservatively that there are on average 10 words to draw from for each word choice as a sentence is constructed, the implication is that we understand at least 1020 20-word sentences. That’s one hundred million trillion of them. By comparison, the human brain contains roughly 1011 neurons, and the number of seconds in the history of the Universe is estimated to be on the order of 1017. So assuming that each sentence corresponds to a distinct thought,3 and sticking only to 20-word sentences (that is, ignoring not just longer sentences but also shorter ones), the number of thoughts we arrive at is more than a billion times the number of neurons in the brain and about a thousand times the number seconds in the history of the Universe.4 According to RTM and the Psychological View, this is just the tip of the iceberg. Once we abstract away from limitations of memory and attention and other factors that interact with our thinking, the human capacity for entertaining new thoughts is without limits. The actual thoughts that people entertain in their lifetime constitute a tiny and idiosyncratic subset of the thoughts that their conceptual system makes possible. . . ."

Isn't there a line in Alice in Wonderland about thinking six impossible things before breakfast?

"I can't believe that!" said Alice.

"Can't you?" the Queen said in a pitying tone. "Try again: draw a long breath, and shut your eyes."



Alice laughed. "There's no use trying," she said: "one can't believe impossible things."

"I daresay you haven't had much practice," said the Queen. "When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast."
 

Constance

Paranormal Adept
Pretty much everything here has been discussed ad nauseam between you guys , but not every reader who comes here has followed the thread from day one like we have, and therefore they may not be aware of the discussions you mention or know that that any I'm aware of don't invalidate the light bulb analogy as I have used it. Perhaps however I've missed some other response to the analogy that is more coherent than past objections. If so, by all means post a link to the specific post(s) and I'll have a look.
We remember more of what we've read and discussed here in the last three years than you do since you haven't been here for a lot of/perhaps most of that time. The remedy would be for you to read the sections of the thread you haven't seen before.
 

Constance

Paranormal Adept
It may be that representation is an extra step that isn't needed for complex behavior. But then what is phenomenal consciousness then if not representations (in the loose sense, meaning not an exact miniature model of the what-is) of what is?
Here are two paragraphs by J.J. Gibson that might help us out here:

"...An important fact about the affordances of the environment is that they are in a sense objective, real, and physical, unlike values and meanings, which are often supposed to be subjective, phenomenal, and mental. But, actually, an affordance is neither an objective property nor a subjective property; or it is both if you like. An affordance cuts across the dichotomy of subjective-objective and helps us to understand its inadequacy. It is equally a fact of the environment and a fact of behavior. It is both physical and psychical, yet neither. An affordance points both ways, to the environment and to the observer.

The niche for a certain species should not be confused with what some animal psychologists have called the phenomenal environment of the species. This can be taken erroneously to be the “private world” in which the species is supposed to live, the “subjective world,” or the world of “consciousness.” The behavior of observers depends on their perception of the environment, surely enough, but this does not mean that their behavior depends on a so-called private or subjective or conscious environment. The organism depends on its environment for its life, but the environment does not depend on the organism for its existence. . . ."

James J. Gibson, from: The Ecological Approach to Visual Perception
Chapter 8 THE THEORY OF AFFORDANCES

cs.brown.edu/courses/cs137/readings/Gibson-AFF.pdf


If all complex behavior can be exhibited by organisms via embodied knowledge (stimulus/response) then what role is here for the umwelt to play? Is it simply doubly epiphenomenal?
I suppose that affordances might in a sense be thought of as "embodied knowledge," but that 'knowledge' is not completely embodied at birth but rather discovered and developed in activity in the environment. The new-born child has an instinct to seek and suck from the breast of its mother, but he or she will discover many other affordances in his/her gradual discovery of things and others in its original environmental niche when he/she begins to move independently within it and then further affordances when moving beyond it. Any animal's experience in the world depends on the inescapable interrelationship between what the animal senses and does in responding to, acquiring a grip on what its actual environment permits and enables. Gibson expresses this intrinsic -- given -- interrelatedness of a living organism and its environment in these lines from the first paragraph quoted above:

"...an affordance is neither an objective property nor a subjective property; or it is both if you like. An affordance cuts across the dichotomy of subjective-objective and helps us to understand its inadequacy. It is equally a fact of the environment and a fact of behavior. It is both physical and psychical, yet neither. An affordance points both ways, to the environment and to the observer."

Recognizing the nature of affordances takes us squarely into the overcoming of mind/body dualism in phenomenology and should help us to understand what is meant by prereflective consciousness as the grounded and contextualized experience we can also describe as 'protoconsciousness', an awareness of and gradually achieved orientation to the environing world and its structures that is the ground enabling the later development of reflective consciousness and mind in species such as our own.

The chapter available at the link is really very well worth reading in its entirety.
 

Constance

Paranormal Adept
USI Calgary said:
Umwelt: Edge.org, as described there may not be relevant to a phenomenological perspective. The behavior of the tick in the example ( for example ) could be the result of a simple mechanistic response.

Thanks oodles for embedding that link to Claus Emmeche's paper "Does a robot have an Umwelt? Reflections on the qualitative biosemiotics of Jakob von Uexküll" at
Does a robot have an Umwelt


But, again, this discussion begs the question, if all behavior—and i mean all—can be explained mechanistically, what is phenomenal consciousness, and why did and how does it evolve? (Note: thats a rhetorical question.)
Not a rhetorical question. ;)
 
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Constance

Paranormal Adept
I think we do make models of "what is"...but not when, for example, we catch baseballs.
I think the trouble with our models is that they do not recognize and incorporate the radical temp0rality of embodied, experiential, consciousness -- the streaming water in which we swim. We appear to live in an orderly world in which things and processes are contained and constrained, given, dependent on and interpretable by fixed laws of nature. In many ways our thinkers and scientists have wanted, for millenia, to believe that their ideas can all be contained within a complete understanding of 'what-is' as coherent and explicable.

But nature is radically temporal, and consciousness as evolved and experienced within naturally evolved species of life is also radically temporal. More than game balls need to be caught on the fly; everything around us exists in change and in time. A thousand changing scenes, sounds, voices, activities, and appeals reach us in every moment of waking consciousness, and also crowd our dreams. We are rarely on a stable footing in our encounters with all the elements and activities that compose the moving scene of our existence. Subsequent to the increasing grasp of the sensed horizonal and conditional space within which organisms and animals achieve their varying grips on their environmental niches by virtue of the natural endowment of prereflective consciousness, another sense arises -- inchoate in primitive species but felt and known increasingly in the growing reflective consciousness of later evolving animals -- and this is the sense of time as lived, i.e., of the always unfolding temporality of one's existence within the evolving world's temporality.

I think Wallace Stevens expresses all of this in ways accommodated to our modern human ears in this poem, which I've quoted here before:

Late Hymn from the Myrrh-Mountain

Unsnack your snood, madonna, for the stars
Are shining on all brows of Neversink.

Already the green bird of summer has flown
Away. The night-flies acknowledge these planets,

Predestined to this night, this noise and the place
Of summer. Tomorrow will look like today,

Will appear like it. But it will be an appearance,
A shape left behind, with like wings spreading out,

Brightly empowered with like colors, swarmingly,
But not quite molten, not quite the fluid thing,

A little changed by tips of artifice, changed
By the glints of sound from the grass. These are not

The early constellations, from which came the first
Illustrious intimations -- uncertain love,

The knowledge of being, sense without sense of time.
Take the diamonds from your hair and lay them down.

The deer-grass is thin. The timothy is brown.
The shadow of an external world comes near.
 
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USI Calgary

J. Randall Murphy
Staff member
We remember more of what we've read and discussed here in the last three years than you do since you haven't been here for a lot of/perhaps most of that time. The remedy would be for you to read the sections of the thread you haven't seen before.
It was simpler to just run a search. There's nothing new on it. Only a very few entries in the whole series of threads. I don't think that qualifies as "duscussed ad nauseum". But ignoring it's relevance does appear to qualify as vincible ignorance.
 

USI Calgary

J. Randall Murphy
Staff member
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