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Consciousness and the Paranormal — Part 12


smcder

Paranormal Adept
#21
@smcder

Thanks for the "like" re the short story. Too bad the thread got chopped. :(

Although I think you are likely the only participant who would appreciate them anyhow. Anyhow, I feel those three stories illustrate the following:

1st story: that the mind is related to the brain in ways that are opaque to the mind.

2nd story: that we shouldn't expect the mind and the brain to "look" the same. Therefore it's not a problem that they do not. Thus, looking for the mind in the "material" is a red herring.

3rd story: the body/brain is a representation of the mind for the mind, and thus there is no mind body problem.
@smcder

Thanks for the "like" re the short story. Too bad the thread got chopped. :(

Although I think you are likely the only participant who would appreciate them anyhow. Anyhow, I feel those three stories illustrate the following:

1st story: that the mind is related to the brain in ways that are opaque to the mind.

2nd story: that we shouldn't expect the mind and the brain to "look" the same. Therefore it's not a problem that they do not. Thus, looking for the mind in the "material" is a red herring.

3rd story: the body/brain is a representation of the mind for the mind, and thus there is no mind body problem.
But there's no pictures?

;-)

I like the way you phrase 3.
 

USI Calgary

J. Randall Murphy
Staff member
#22
Great. Can we move on to resolving the MBP?
That depends on whether or not one thinks that hand-waving loaded questions is acceptable ( which I do ). In other words, simply because there are minds and bodies doesn't necessitate that there is some "problem" that needs "resolving". It appears to be sufficient to simply accept that there are minds and bodies and move on.
 

smcder

Paranormal Adept
#23
@smcder

Thanks for the "like" re the short story. Too bad the thread got chopped. :(

Although I think you are likely the only participant who would appreciate them anyhow. Anyhow, I feel those three stories illustrate the following:

1st story: that the mind is related to the brain in ways that are opaque to the mind.

2nd story: that we shouldn't expect the mind and the brain to "look" the same. Therefore it's not a problem that they do not. Thus, looking for the mind in the "material" is a red herring.

3rd story: the body/brain is a representation of the mind for the mind, and thus there is no mind body problem.

@Soupie Phillip Goff opens with a key point about the hard problem and the sciences in the by now familiar terms of quntitative vs qualitative, which I think is key to your arguments here.

So if one's position is to get the qualitative from the quantitative, the responses presented in this discussion are:

1. Emergence - something new, the subjective, has come from the objective, something that can't be quantified (the qualitative) and something therefore that can't be explained in physicalist terms. This is Nagel's WILTBAB - a completely objective description of the world is not possible.

2. Matter is not simply "dead" but has consciousness somehow inherent in it. Strawson, Bertrand Russel etc.

3. Denial - eliminativism, there is nothing it is like, we just think there is....Blackmores contributions are interesting here in terms of meditation or machines that might be "conscious" but not "illusioned". I'm skeptical here of this skepticism.

The New Mysterianism can't be placed bc it's the position of cognitive closure, that the relationship of mind to body is unknowable to our kinds of mind.

The main thing is to see that part of the point that some make that experience is not like matter...it doesn't seem like matter at all, its qualitative and subjective, it doesn't take up space or have mass...and figuring how to get that from "dead" matter is "hard".

But note Blackmores pointing to a subtle dualism in the neural correlates of consciouness aproach.
 
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Constance

Paranormal Adept
#24
"I think therefore I am" seems to have resolved that question neatly.
Nay, @marduk. Those five words, long functioning as a soundbite intended to represent Descartes' thinking and writing, do not provide an answer to or resolution of the question of how it is that thought (mind) arises in a physical universe that provides no visible or measureable evidence of prior expression of thought over the apparent evolution of the universe as it preceded and enabled the appearance of life and lived experience. The actual question in point concerns the discovery of how thought becomes possible in living beings, and that is the question that still challenges and concerns all of Consciousness Studies.
 
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Constance

Paranormal Adept
#28
No, I would say the mind is nature becoming aware of itself.
Kind of a poetic thought. But this doesn't happen on an abstract level; it happens through the mutually entangling plenitude of actual experiences of emotionally sentient beings living among one another and the things they encounter in their temporally lived environments. In other words, as WS expresses it: "Conceptions are artificial. Perceptions are essential." Or here: "The world about us would be desolate except for the world within us." And here:

"This is everybody's world.
Here the total artifice
Becomes the total reality."
 
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marduk

quelling chaos since 2352BC
#32
Nay, @marduk. Those five words, long functioning as a soundbite intended to represent Descartes' thinking and writing, do not provide an answer to or resolution of the question of how it is that thought (mind) arises in a physical universe that provides no visible or measureable evidence of prior expression of thought over the apparent evolution of the universe as it preceded and enabled the appearance of life and lived experience. The actual question in point concerns the discovery of how thought becomes possible in living beings, and that is the question that still challenges and concerns all of Consciousness Studies.
Uh, that's the point.

I know that I exist because something needs to be the thing that is thinking about my existence.

It does not imply any causal mechanism for that existence whatsoever.

It's also what caused him to go off the deep end with dualism, which is thrown around this thread and forum pretty willy-nilly without calling it what it is.

Any time you posit that the mind is not part of the physical universe you're relying on dualism - which is inventing a whole new universe to explain the problem of mind without actually solving the problem at all.
 

USI Calgary

J. Randall Murphy
Staff member
#33
Any time you posit that the mind is not part of the physical universe you're relying on dualism - which is inventing a whole new universe to explain the problem of mind without actually solving the problem at all.
I would contend that minds and bodies can be seen as separate facets of an integrated system. That way duality can be a coherent concept within a physical framework. It's also interesting to note that science tends to invoke the idea of other universes more often than people tend to realize: Strange behavior of quantum particles may indicate the existence of other parallel universes
 

marduk

quelling chaos since 2352BC
#34
I would contend that minds and bodies can be seen as separate facets of an integrated system. That way duality can be a coherent concept within a physical framework. It's also interesting to note that science tends to invoke the idea of other universes more often than people tend to realize: Strange behavior of quantum particles may indicate the existence of other parallel universes
Hey, the multiverse is my favourite answer to the delayed choice experiment. It just happens to almost certainly be wrong, and in any case parallel universes would either be outside our ability to interact or they wouldn't be. If they're inside our ability to interact, then they are part of the physical universe a priori. If they're outside our ability to interact with, then they don't matter.

The mind is a part of the physical universe. I should be precise in my language, by 'physical universe,' I mean:

In religion and esotericism, the term "physical universe" or "material universe" is used to distinguish the physical matter of the universe from a proposed spiritual or supernatural essence.
Essentially take everything physical - mass/energy, spacetime, and all the relationships between all the configurations of all of that - and that's all there is (for the reasons I've stated above). That's it. There's no 'other stuff' that somehow magically drives anything - because if there was, then that stuff would have to interact with mass/energy, spacetime, or configurations of either to have an effect to us. And the only things that can alter mass/energy or spacetime configurations or states are... mass/energy or spacetime configurations. How could you cause particles to change without using mass or energy to do so? Magic? Throw the laws of thermodynamics out the window, because it's convenient for would-be philosophers to do so?

Think about it. If something else existed, how would it interact with the particles that make you up to notice it without being mass/energy or spacetime configurations?

If another universe bumped into ours, and information (a mass/energy configuration) could bleed from that universe into ours... then it would be part of the 'physical universe.' Just as testable, just as verifiable, just as measurable as anything else. Just another configuration.

Besides, the mind seems to be very good at one thing: the creation or transformation of information. Information itself may have mass. Think about that.
 
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USI Calgary

J. Randall Murphy
Staff member
#35
Hey, the multiverse is my favourite answer to the delayed choice experiment. It just happens to almost certainly be wrong, and in any case parallel universes would either be outside our ability to interact or they wouldn't be. If they're inside our ability to interact, then they are part of the physical universe a priori. If they're outside our ability to interact with, then they don't matter.

The mind is a part of the physical universe. I should be precise in my language, by 'physical universe,' I mean:



Essentially take everything physical - mass/energy, spacetime, and all the relationships between all the configurations of all of that - and that's all there is (for the reasons I've stated above). That's it. There's no 'other stuff' that somehow magically drives anything - because if there was, then that stuff would have to interact with mass/energy, spacetime, or configurations of either to have an effect to us. And the only things that can alter mass/energy or spacetime configurations or states are... mass/energy or spacetime configurations. How could you cause particles to change without using mass or energy to do so? Magic? Throw the laws of thermodynamics out the window, because it's convenient for would-be philosophers to do so?

Think about it. If something else existed, how would it interact with the particles that make you up to notice it without being mass/energy or spacetime configurations?

If another universe bumped into ours, and information (a mass/energy configuration) could bleed from that universe into ours... then it would be part of the 'physical universe.' Just as testable, just as verifiable, just as measurable as anything else. Just another configuration.

Besides, the mind seems to be very good at one thing: the creation or transformation of information. Information itself may have mass. Think about that.
I suspect we're thinking along the same lines when I say that anything that exists is a part of nature, and that the word "physical" is a term for the relationships between the properties and forces of nature e.g. the various states and composition of matter and the fundamental forces of nature are all physical phenomena. So we'd probably both agree that because consciousness exists it must be physical. But that doesn't mean there aren't different kinds of physical phenomena. So dualism is fine. It's error is in assuming that consciousness is a non-physical thing because it's a different kind of physical thing than flesh and bone.
 
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marduk

quelling chaos since 2352BC
#36
But that doesn't mean there aren't different kinds of physical phenomena. So dualism is fine.
You had me right until this point. Dualism is by definition the idea that mind is non-physical:

Dualism is closely associated with the thought of René Descartes (1641), which holds that the mind is a nonphysical—and therefore, non-spatial—substance. Descartes clearly identified the mind with consciousness and self-awareness and distinguished this from the brain as the seat of intelligence.[6] Hence, he was the first to formulate the mind–body problem in the form in which it exists today.[7] Dualism is contrasted with various kinds of monism.
Mind–body dualism - Wikipedia

If you're saying that unknown physical phenomena or states give rise to mind, then I'm agreeing with you, but I don't think that's Dualism.
 

Soupie

Paranormal Adept
#37
@Pharoah

A study that I believe could be a reference for your work:

Plants Can’t Talk. But Some Fruits Say ‘Eat Me’ to Animals.

"For more than a century, biologists have wondered why fruits from closely-related plants have such different appearances, and how animals know which ones to eat.

The prevailing hypothesis has been that animals could have influenced fruit traits — like shape, location on a tree, presentation on a branch or odor and color — through natural selection. The easier it is for fruit-eaters to identify ripe fruits, the better the chance for both to survive. The animal eats, and the parent plant reproduces — by using the animals as gardeners — without lifting a root.

In a similar way, many flowers tailor their petal shape, color, texture or nectar’s scent or flavor to attract often a single pollinating species. Scientists accept that these flower traits could result from coevolution, because the relationships are so specific."

The problem--as always--is explaining what work the objective properties do (EM wavelengths, molecules, optic nerves, neurons, etc.) and what work subjective properties/qualities might do (colors, smells, tastes, etc.). How these properties are related, etc.

@smcder

So it occurred to me that the MBP (or paradox, perhaps) is related to other paradoxes that arise from self-reference. I haven't found any mainstream discussions of this idea, but have stumbled on a few pieces so far.

WHY THERE IS NO SOLUTION TO THE MIND-BODY PROBLEM

( @Pharoah The first one actually has a section that seems to really capture some of the ideas you have in HCT. )

"Phenomenal qualities that emerge in experience are like the intelligible meanings that emerge through the babble of spoken syllables or the squiqqles on a page. For example, viewed this way, pain can be understood to have its specific experiential quality because of its particular significance to the organism as information about the state of its tissues. As William James observed, pain can only “hurt,” since it is a recognition of tissue damage. Sugar must taste “sweet” because sweetness is a cognitive judgment about the nutritive value of sugar molecules. Ultimately, one would like to understand why the sky looks blue, trees green, and blood red—that is, why we have the subjective experiences we do in response to light of a certain wavelengths. Like the meaning of pain or pleasure, this sort of explanation must go beyond the functioning of causal systems, beyond third-person description, to include the role of semantic systems as well, from their own point of view as agents in the world. It includes the evolutionary advantages of particular intentional connections—which ride on causal connections—evolved within the extended system of brain, body, and world. The very nature of intentionality takes us beyond the science of passive matter and artificially isolated systems. Whatever the details, such explanation can only be based on the reasonable assumption that cognition is neither entirely determined by a world of external causes, nor entirely by the organism's internal symbolic connections and conventions. It is rather an interaction in which organism and environment meet to contribute to the creation of experience, meaning, and behavior.

The Incomplete Self: Gödel and The Brain – Epoché (ἐποχή)

"We typically think of consciousness in terms of what the brain does. This is logical because a functioning brain is a precondition for consciousness. Strangely, however, a century of neurobiological work have not brought us closer to understanding what consciousness is or how it relates to the brain (Michael O’Shea The Brain, A Very Short Introduction, 2005). This may be a clue that the brain does not give rise to consciousness in the same sense as when a machine churns out a product. Rather, as I will here argue, we should perhaps conceive of consciousness as a negative phenomenon, as something that arises from what the brain is specifically unable to do. Namely, as a self-referential computational system, the brain is unable to completely and independently represent its own states within itself. What this means is that its activity will always have a dimension that is irreducible and hence indivisible and unitary, which in turn corresponds to the conscious self." ...

There is an important analogy between Gödel’s discovery of incompleteness of consistent formal systems and the emergence of consciousness within the brain. Just as self-reference reveals that formal, consistent mathematical systems always contain intrinsic true statements about those very systems that are unprovable within them and are hence incompletely reducible to the systems’ other operations, conscious experience arises as the brain represents its own states within itself while not being completely reducible to those states. The experience of a brain state is never identical to the brain state. It is always more.

@smcder, I wondered if you would be willing and able to dig anything up?
 
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Soupie

Paranormal Adept
#38
Problem of the criterion - Wikipedia

"In the field of epistemology, the problem of the criterion is an issue regarding the starting point of knowledge. This is a separate and more fundamental issue than the regress argument found in discussions on justification of knowledge.[1]

American philosopher Roderick Chisholm in his Theory of Knowledge details the problem of the criterion with two sets of questions:

1. What do we know? or What is the extent of our knowledge?

2. How do we know? or What is the criterion of knowing?

An answer to either set of questions will allow us to devise a means of answering the other. Answering the former question set first is called particularism, whereas answering the latter set first is called methodism. A third solution is skepticism, which proclaims that since one cannot have an answer to the first set of questions without first answering the second set, and one cannot hope to answer the second set of questions without first knowing the answers to the first set, we are, therefore, unable to answer either. This has the result of our being unable to justify any of our beliefs.

Particularist theories organize things already known and attempt to use these particulars of knowledge to find a method of how we know, thus answering the second question set. Methodist theories propose an answer to question set two and proceed to use this to establish what we, in fact, know. Classical empiricism embraces the Methodist approach."
 

Soupie

Paranormal Adept
#39
The main thing is to see that part of the point that some make that experience is not like matter...it doesn't seem like matter at all, its qualitative and subjective, it doesn't take up space or have mass...and figuring how to get that from "dead" matter is "hard".
Yes, and what I'm suggesting is that if the mind is a simulation/presentation/representation of nature for nature, than we should actually anticipate this seeming difference between nature and it's self-presentation.

I recently heard a little "thought experiment" that is helpful.

It asks:

"Point to your brain. (We raise a pointing finger to our head.)

Now, point to your mind."

We can't point to our mind. We are our mind. The experience we have of pointing to our brain just is our mind.

Conceptually, we might say that our mind is "in" our brain. But we know that the thing we are pointing to—our brain—is actually in our mind.

The <BRAIN> is not the same as the brain experienced in our mind. The map is not the territory indeed but the map and the territory are constituted of the same substrate.

PS I think the self-reference paradox, Gödel's incompleteness theorem, etc. is relevant to the MBP for sure. The <BRAIN> perceiving itself certainly results in the same kind of blind spots. However, my thought is that blind spot has more to do with the binding problem than the issue of feeling from non-feeling.
 

USI Calgary

J. Randall Murphy
Staff member
#40
You had me right until this point. Dualism is by definition the idea that mind is non-physical: Mind–body dualism - Wikipedia If you're saying that unknown physical phenomena or states give rise to mind, then I'm agreeing with you, but I don't think that's Dualism.
Probably the first and most important lesson I've learned from my philosophical reading is that there are different interpretations of what is meant by the various terms. This includes terms like "physical" and "Dualism". That is evidenced in the link you provided which describes several different interpretations. For philosophical references I tend to prefer the Stanford Encyclopedia which delves into some of this as well:
To summarize the point, because the differences are historical and the contexts are associated with different philosophers, the discussion is then not whether one version or another is dualism while another isn't, but what sense ( or lack thereof ) can we make of specific versions, and which philosopher seems to have the best model. This leads us into another related question. What constitutes a philosopher?

In essence a philosopher is simply someone who practices philosophy. Therefore if we engage in philosophy we can rightfully think of ourselves as philosophers, which in-turn means we can decide for ourselves what the terms mean in the context of our own models. Whether our philosophy is good or bad then has nothing to do with credentials or popularity, but how coherent our views are and how well they can be substantiated by the thinking involved.

Applying that to the topic of dualism, the bottom line is that all dualism means in philosophy is that there is a contrast between the body and the mind, and how to best describe that is up to individual philosophers. Therefore it's not that one view "isn't dualism" ( as you put it ) and another version isn't. Rather, it's simply another version, and whether or not that version makes more or less sense than some other version is what defines it as better or worse.

So given that I've already stated my view on dualism, the challenge isn't to determine whether or not it's dualism, but whether or not it makes more sense than some other type of dualism, or can be disproved as a valid model to begin with. Does it contrast the body and the mind ( Yes ). Therefore it's a form of dualism. Does it make equal or better sense than other models? I like to think so. But if there's some reason to think otherwise, then let's explore that because that's what it's all about :cool:.
 
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