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Consciousness and the Paranormal — Part 12

USI Calgary

J. Randall Murphy
Staff member
You seem to be saying that ...
Nope. Not saying that at all. What I was saying is exactly what I wrote. I also mentioned the issue of proving that a machine, or anything else, even ourselves, is self-aware, using the Transcendence clip as an example. Perhaps you never bothered to watch it, and therefore did not pick-up on it. Now, as I seem to have completely lost you along the way someplace, I think it's time to take a break from this discussion. Many other things to do. More than I have 🕰 for ... ( check your smilies menu for a boatload of new smilies - I had a little fun with them here: Forum Modifications )
 
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Constance

Paranormal Adept
That's not the point. I never made any claim that machines experience anything. I just posited for the sake of illustration, that if equivalency is assumed. As in ( "... assuming a machine experiences the color red the same way as we do ... " ), then it's consciousness would be as genuine as any other, rather than a "simulation".
I don't see how "assuming a machine experiences the color red the same way as we do" is a reasonable assumption because experiencing color as we do is not the same thing as a robot's mechanically registering the same EM frequencies whose presence enables us to see the color red. Even if a machine intelligence registers these same light frequencies, you would still have to demonstrate that the colors we see phenomenally also appear to the machine and constitute visual experiences like our own. It is of course a much greater leap to assume that these machines are phenomenally conscious in the comprehensive way that we and other animals are.

If you go back to those discussions @Soupie led a few years ago concerning color vision you will also find that we have no way of knowing whether the colors we see in nature -- in flowers, fruits, plants, fur, and feathers -- are the same colors that birds, insects, fish, and other animals see. As long as we have sunlight we live in a technicolor world, but its appearances vary among the countless species who share this world with us. And who all, as Merleau-Ponty wrote, "sing the world in their own key." What's not to love about this? Why would anyone want to drain this lived reality of its color and sound and endlessly layered rhythms?
 
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Constance

Paranormal Adept
Nope. Not saying that at all. What I was saying is exactly what I wrote. I also mentioned the issue of proving that a machine, or anything else, even ourselves, is self-aware, using the Transcendence clip as an example. Perhaps you never bothered to watch it, and therefore did not pick-up on it. Now, as I seem to have completely lost you along the way someplace, I think it's time to take a break from this discussion. Many other things to do. More than I have 🕰 for ... ( check your smilies menu for a boatload of new smilies - I had a little fun with them here: Forum Modifications )
I didn't leave the discussion intentionally; my DSL link (via my telephone company) has been dropping on and off for hours the last few weeks. A lineman was sent out by the phone company yesterday and left a note saying that he will also need to come into the house on the next visit and I need to be here for that.

I'm only too happy to take a break from this discussion, especially since what you call your style of 'point/counter-point' debates tends to become defensive and a bit aggressive. I haven't seen the video you posted yet but will go back and view it. Always good to have little icons to use (like the mantle clock above) in place of words since words tend to trigger unnecessary misunderstandings and reactions.

ps, I followed the link to the icons. Charming and useful. Will you let us know how to insert them into our posts?
 
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Constance

Paranormal Adept
This chapter from The Cambridge Handbook of Consciousness should be helpful for those who haven't yet dipped their beaks into phenomenological philosophy.

[Originally published in Zelazo, P.D., Moscovitch, M., Thompson, E. (eds.): The Cambridge Handbook of Consciousness. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007, 67-87. Please quote from published version.]

"Philosophical Issues: Continental Perspectives: Phenomenology"
Cambridge Handbook of Consciousness
Evan Thompson and Dan Zahavi

"1. Introduction

Contemporary Continental perspectives on consciousness derive either whole or in part from Phenomenology, the tradition inaugurated by Edmund Husserl (1859-1938) that stands as one of the dominant philosophical movements of the twentieth century (Moran 2000). It includes major twentieth-century European philosophers, such as Martin Heidegger, Jean-Paul Sartre, and Maurice Merleau-Ponty, as well as important North American and Asian exponents. Considering that virtually all of the leading figures in twentieth-century German and French philosophy, including Adorno, Gadamer, Habermas, Derrida, and Foucault, have been influenced by phenomenology, and that phenomenology is both a decisive precondition and a constant interlocutor for a whole range of subsequent theories and approaches, including existentialism, hermeneutics, structuralism, deconstruction, and post-structuralism, phenomenology can be regarded as the cornerstone of what is often (but misleadingly) called ‘Continental philosophy’.

The phenomenological tradition, like any other philosophical tradition, spans many different positions and perspectives. This point holds true for its treatment and analysis of consciousness. Like analytical philosophy, phenomenology offers not one but many accounts of consciousness. The following discussion, therefore, is by necessity selective. Husserl’s analyses are the main reference point and the discussion focuses on what we believe to be some of the most important, influential, and enduring proposals about consciousness to have emerged from these analyses and their subsequent development in the phenomenological tradition. Furthermore, in recent years a new current of phenomenological philosophy has emerged in Europe and North America, one which goes back to the source of phenomenology in Husserl’s thought, but addresses issues of concern to contemporary analytical philosophy of mind, philosophy of psychology, and cognitive science (see Petitot et al. 1999, and the new journal Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences). This important current of phenomenological research also informs our discussion. Accordingly, Sections 4-8 focus on topics we believe to be directly relevant to cognitive science and philosophy of mind. . . ."

{Note: it is necessary to read the first three sections of the paper in order to understand what follows in sections 4-8.}


https://www.academia.edu/9201814/Philosophical_Issues_Phenomenology?email_work_card=view-paper
 

Gene Steinberg

Forum Super Hero
Staff member
I didn't leave the discussion intentionally; my DSL link (via my telephone company) has been dropping on and off for hours the last few weeks. A lineman was sent out by the phone company yesterday and left a note saying that he will also need to come into the house on the next visit and I need to be here for that.
If you mean CenturyLink, I sympathize. I stopped using them over 18 months ago when I moved from an apartment. Yet they are still trying to bill me for service after I had it turned off.
 

Constance

Paranormal Adept
If you mean CenturyLink, I sympathize. I stopped using them over 18 months ago when I moved from an apartment. Yet they are still trying to bill me for service after I had it turned off.
Hi Gene. It is indeed CenturyLink. Would Comcast be more reliable? Don't know what else is available here.
 

Gene Steinberg

Forum Super Hero
Staff member
Comcast, which owns NBC and Universal Pictures, is the largest cable company in the United States. Yes, they should be far more reliable and very likely will get you not just more reliability, but higher speeds for the same rates or even less.

No Internet service is perfect, but you shouldn't have to suffer from frequent outages. They probably can offer you a better deal on your home phone service too.

And, no, I don't use them. I'm not in their service area. I use Cox, which is pretty good too.
 

Constance

Paranormal Adept
Comcast, which owns NBC and Universal Pictures, is the largest cable company in the United States. Yes, they should be far more reliable and very likely will get you not just more reliability, but higher speeds for the same rates or even less.

No Internet service is perfect, but you shouldn't have to suffer from frequent outages. They probably can offer you a better deal on your home phone service too.

And, no, I don't use them. I'm not in their service area. I use Cox, which is pretty good too.
Thanks for the information. I think I can bundle my internet and phone service with my Comcast television service and will look into it. :)
 

Soupie

Paranormal Adept
I can see how it could be the case from a physical perspective, that on some fundamental level, matter and consciousness are both some type of field, and that it is how these fields manifest on a macro level that the universe is populated with physical stuff and our awareness of it. However that is not the same as saying that a consciousness field is one and the same field as a sensory field.
I don’t want to nitpick with your position bc in the end it is well thought out and just as likely to be right as some of the other views brought forward in this thread.

However, as I tried to pick out in an earlier response post, your conception of consciousness and “awareness” seem very specific and differ from other conceptions of it, I think. Although as I said, I do think others share your view.

Let’s call it the “view finder” concept of consciousness/awareness. It’s the view that consciousness is kind of like an observer, and it’s blank (observing nothing) until there are some contents for it to observe.

So the thinking follows that there can be all kinds of contents (physical stuff) and it just needs consciousness/awareness to “observe” it.

This imo is not the nature of consciousness. Yes, from consciousness comes “awareness” but not by being an observer/view finder. Conceiving of consciousness in this way leads to the homunculus issue. Consciousness is not an observer.

Consciousness (commonly referred to as phenomenal consciousness) is hard to define but it is feeling or qualities aka qualia. Specifically it IS qualia, not the act of “observing” qualia.

One can see how one might think of consciousness as an observer that is aware of the world, but IMO phenomenal consciousness is better conceived as the substrate in which world and self models imbued with quality are instantiated.

Organisms create world and self models in which phenomenal selves are aware of the world.
Instead, the evidence strongly suggests multiple different structures within the brain ( visual cortex, auditory cortex ect. ) are independently responsible for their own fields, and that together they are unified into an audiovisual experience by the thalamocortical loop, which has its own associated field. There is ample evidence for this in that activity in our sensory regions can be isolated and measured in the absence of any sensory experience, particularly, in REM sleep.
I think the field approach is warranted for a lot of the reasons you capture, the combination problem being one of them.

However suggesting phenomenal consciousness could emerge from non phenomenal processes is problematic for a host of reasons covered over the years here.

Recently MA approached these problems (ouroboros) from a more philosophical perspective.

Again, you may be right that strong emergence occurs, but I will continue to struggle with the notion that a non-phenomenal, physical substrate is primarily of a phenomenal, physical substrate.
This situation mirrors exactly what I was suggesting above in that consciousness is like a blank canvass, a baseline state, and that qualia are disturbances in that state. They are manifested as particular types of experiences depending upon the properties associated with the type of disturbance they produce.
I too believe that various qualia are perturbations in a consciousness “field”; however, it is the same quantum fields(s) that we identify as the matter fields.

The perturbation that we identify as the brain (extrinsically) is the perturbation that we identify as the mind (intrinsically).
So what seems to be happening in ultra simplified form, is that sensory stimuli reach sense organs that send signals to corresponding brain regions, that create associated sensory fields that disturb the consciousness field. The disturbances in the consciousness field then induce a reaction in receptors in the thalamocortical loop, which transmits those signals to the various processing centers in the brain.
That absolutely could be the case. Strong emergence and mental causation will need to be physically and philosophically addressed if this is the case. But it’s certainly as plausible as any other approach atm
I can imagine a couple of workarounds to that, but ultimately it's out of my depth. A related article linked from Philosophy, Science, and the Unexplained deals with EM fields in neuronal structures and their effect on associated biological systems.
Again, as noted, the mind does have field like properties, but methinks this is due to its nature and a quantum field rather than a field emitted by non-phenomenal neurons.

But for the most part we seem to appreciate each others views. We understand the challenges to both and I’m happy watch for disco overs that may support strong emergence in the future.
 

Soupie

Paranormal Adept
Again, you may be right that strong emergence occurs, but I will continue to struggle with the notion that a non-phenomenal, physical substrate is primarily of a phenomenal, physical substrate.
That should read: but I will continue to struggle with the notion that a non-phenomenal, physical substrate is *primary over* a phenomenal, physical substrate.
 

Soupie

Paranormal Adept
Less than words can say, @Soupie. What was your intention in posting this repellant image in response to a post by @Pharoah ?
I’m asking Pharoah to EXPLAIN why the intrinsic nature argument for phenomenal consciousness is tosh.

There’s no doubt that it’s radical and wacky, but that certainly isn’t an argument. Matter is stranger than we currently recognize. Ask a physicist.

Constance you seem to be of the opinion that neuronal processes are too limited to fully capture the breath and depth of human consciousness. I agree.

The rub though is that “neural processes” are a pretty gross model of what the brain really is.

My “hypothesis” is that when humans are able to model/perceive the brain at the quantum field level (bc the brain is really a quantum field, not a conglomeration of neural cells) we will see that the perturbations of this quantum field we call the brain are indeed isomorphic with the perturbations of consciousness we call the human mind.

Again, I agree that the human mind doesn’t structurally match neural goings on; but the good news is that neural goings on are merely a crude model of the quantum field(s) within which neurons instantiate.

It is a fine grained look at these quantum fields where will find closer matches between the structure of the mind and the structure of the “brain.”

(Having said that, there are many features of the mind that indeed can be identified in neural structures. But we will need to get to the level of quantum fields for a true structural match.)
 

Gene Steinberg

Forum Super Hero
Staff member
Thanks for the information. I think I can bundle my internet and phone service with my Comcast television service and will look into it. :)
I'm surprised they haven't already inundated you with bundle offers. You get the best prices, in general, if you opt for Internet, TV and phone. You can always transfer your existing number.

FYI: In visiting the Comcast site, II saw a bundle with 200 megabits Internet and "140+" TV channels for $79.99 for the first year, $100 thereafter. The actual bundle will depend on your location. They will also be adding taxes, fees, to that so what you pay each month is apt to be somewhat higher regardless. Remember cable Internet comes on the same cables as your TV, so if your TV service is reliable, pretty much the same is true for Internet.

Let me know how it fares.
 

Constance

Paranormal Adept
I'm surprised they haven't already inundated you with bundle offers. You get the best prices, in general, if you opt for Internet, TV and phone. You can always transfer your existing number.

FYI: In visiting the Comcast site, II saw a bundle with 200 megabits Internet and "140+" TV channels for $79.99 for the first year, $100 thereafter. The actual bundle will depend on your location. They will also be adding taxes, fees, to that so what you pay each month is apt to be somewhat higher regardless. Remember cable Internet comes on the same cables as your TV, so if your TV service is reliable, pretty much the same is true for Internet.

Let me know how it fares.
Thanks so much, Gene, for all this information. I will call Comcast this week and see what the bundle of services will cost me here and will most likely make the change right away. I'm currently paying twice more to CL and to Comcast monthly in staying with CL for phone and internet. Bless you. :)
 

Constance

Paranormal Adept
I’m asking Pharoah to EXPLAIN why the intrinsic nature argument for phenomenal consciousness is tosh.

There’s no doubt that it’s radical and wacky, but that certainly isn’t an argument. Matter is stranger than we currently recognize. Ask a physicist.

Constance you seem to be of the opinion that neuronal processes are too limited to fully capture the breath and depth of human consciousness. I agree.

The rub though is that “neural processes” are a pretty gross model of what the brain really is.

My “hypothesis” is that when humans are able to model/perceive the brain at the quantum field level (bc the brain is really a quantum field, not a conglomeration of neural cells) we will see that the perturbations of this quantum field we call the brain are indeed isomorphic with the perturbations of consciousness we call the human mind.

Again, I agree that the human mind doesn’t structurally match neural goings on; but the good news is that neural goings on are merely a crude model of the quantum field(s) within which neurons instantiate.

It is a fine grained look at these quantum fields where will find closer matches between the structure of the mind and the structure of the “brain.”

(Having said that, there are many features of the mind that indeed can be identified in neural structures. But we will need to get to the level of quantum fields for a true structural match.)
Thank you for this explanation, @Soupie. Most interesting hypothesis. Apparently it's based in Stuart Hameroff's discovery with Roger Penrose of quantum processes at neuronal junctures or synapses in the brain [these might not be the correct terms]. It certainly makes sense to me that consciousness is a 'field phenomenon' as demonstrated in empathy, intersubjectivity, telepathy, precognition, and other categories of psi.

ETA: I'm now getting a clearer sense of what you mean by the term 'intrinsic nature' in the first sentence of your post.
 
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Constance

Paranormal Adept
A few additional questions . . . .

(responding to a post by Randle)
This is very close to the view that I have been exploring with one significant difference. The world and self models (the contents of the human mind) are creations of the brain.
Hence the simulation theory? But how do quantum fields generate in the brain concepts of both ‘self’ and encompassing ‘world’?

The models created by the brain do “interact” with the “consciousness field” because [and this is where we differ] both matter and consciousness are the same field(s).
So the brain begins to interact with its projected models/concepts of self and world? At what point in the biological evolution of consciousness does this process begin? Also, you say that matter and consciousness “are the same field(s).” I take it you mean they are one and the same field. This idea appeals to me, but I wonder why and how this single field would generate in conscious beings the sensual/sensible apprehension of a material world alongside an immaterial consciousness. Perhaps it’s time to apply to Bohm’s writings for clarification.

The property we refer to as phenomenal consciousness is the “intrinsic” nature of quantum fields and the properties we refer to as matter/energy are the “extrinsic” nature of quantum fields.
So this unified field can account for both matter and mind, object and subject, neither of which is actually what it appears to be in what we take to be our experience -- as also in the history of human science and philosophy -- but instead constitutes an illusion produced by the ‘brain’? A marvel, if so, because the essence of phenomenal consciousness is that it responds to phenomena – i.e., phenomenal appearances that denote the actual existence of things and others in our lived experience (and as the history of human science has also assumed). It doesn’t hang together for me, but I will continue to read and contemplate your hypothesis.

We should read Kant and Husserl as well as Bohm since the first two (and perhaps Bohm as well) struggled powerfully with what can be thought to exist a priori in human minds and in prereflective consciousness grounding reflection.
 
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Michael Allen

Paranormal Adept
I think y'all have spent too much time playing around with 'virtual reality' in the last few decades. It seems clear enough now, MA, that you really do feel yourself to be a made-up entity produced by what you have called "the engine of the universe" of which 'we know not what and not where'. Why would or should I attempt to talk you out of this frame of mind since it's clear that you enjoy it. Let us all go forth in the way we each prefer to think and in good health. :)
One might say the same about "artificial intelligience"--i.e. that "ya'll have spent too much time playing around with AI..." except that I think that AI is redundant...all intelligence dwells in the artificial literally. A being that makes its own being an issue to itself is a kind of "artificiality" regardless of the matrix or source (i.e. either carbon or carbon-assisted-silicon replicators).

"Made-up" doesn't apply when the engine itself somehow (we don't know why, because we are IT) bootstraps itself into something like consciousness or sentience. We know not "what" or "where" because the engine itself has already presupposed those notions...the "whatness" and the "whereness,"...think of temporality and spatiality.

So let me try to reconstruct what I mean in terms that do not impinge on your assumptions...i.e. to trigger you down a path of meaning I didn't intend :)
 

Michael Allen

Paranormal Adept
What you're saying would make sense if it is assumed that all the processes required for experiencing are taking place within the experience itself. However the best evidence suggests that experiencing is something that neither creates itself or consumes itself, at least not directly, so metaphors such as the snake eating itself is not an accurate model of what seems to be the case, and we can therefore discard it ( sorry ).

Rather, it seems to be the case that consciousness occurs when the conditions are right, and those conditions are brought about by the function of specific neural structures, which in turn are dependent on other biological systems, which are in-turn dependent on the environments which sustain them. Eventually we die and are returned to that environment, so from that perspective, there is a cycle, but it's not the same sort of cycle as you are suggesting, where consciousness alone is responsible for everything about itself.

No...experiencing does not, I agree, but the experienc-er trying to pin down itself might be like a snake expecting to disappear by eating itself. I therefore think that the experiencer cannot adequately answer to itself with full satisfaction (again, to itself) regarding the nature of it's own abilities.
 

Michael Allen

Paranormal Adept
An interesting question, Constance:

"So the brain begins to interact with its projected models/concepts of self and world? At what point in the biological evolution of consciousness does this process begin? Also, you say that matter and consciousness “are the same field(s).” I take it you mean they are one and the same field. This idea appeals to me, but I wonder why and how this single field would generate in conscious beings the sensual/sensible apprehension of a material world alongside an immaterial consciousness. Perhaps it’s time to apply to Bohm’s writings for clarification. "

Does this "why" presume immateriality of consciousness? Material things we like to think of "generating" in some kind of "cause-effect" chain or complicated "nexus" somehow comprehended by an agent who has already assumed materiality and cause-effect....How else would consciousness exist unless the single field created a figure-ground for which knowing/unknowing ...seen/unseen...and all of the other myriad dualities for which such a being would even exist?

Why is easy...because it is necessary. The "how" is a darker question, because it's nothing more than a comprehended recipe for one "sentient" being to pass to another.

Edit: In all honesty I think the straight naive "simulation" argument falls flat because of the silly regression (well what reality is being simulated? ...in the same way we answer the "why do things exist" --> "because God did it" --> "well then why (or how) does God exist?"
 
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USI Calgary

J. Randall Murphy
Staff member
No...experiencing does not, I agree, but the experienc-er trying to pin down itself might be like a snake expecting to disappear by eating itself.
There's so many interpretations for the Ouroboros that I wouldn't know where to start. Can you please rephrase the above in more definitive terms?
I therefore think that the experiencer cannot adequately answer to itself with full satisfaction (again, to itself) regarding the nature of it's own abilities.
Regardless of the first part, the second part above depends on what you mean by "full satisfaction" and "nature of it's own abilities". I am fully satisfied that the nature of my own abilities is as nature has made them. Maybe other people are fully satisfied that God is the nature of their abilities. However you might not be personally satisfied of either ( or anything ). Perhaps you even feel it is impossible to feel fully satisfied about anything? I must admit that being fully satisfied about anything these days is tough, but, then what did Hemingway say? Something about happiness in intelligent people being one of the rarest things he knew?
 

USI Calgary

J. Randall Murphy
Staff member
BTW: Apologies to everyone if I seem to be coming across a little crusty. I don't mean to be. I'm sure the frustration is nobody's fault but my own. But either way, this sciatica/piriformis syndrome I've been recovering from has been a really painful drain. Sorry.




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