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Consciousness and the Paranormal — Part 12


Constance

Paranormal Adept

Constance

Paranormal Adept
This is fascinating and ramifying. I see that the article is two years old now, but it turned up in my facebook notices today.

Birds Sing to Their Eggs, and This Song Might Help Their Babies Survive Climate Change
Embryonic learning—things birds pick up from their parents while still in the egg—may play a bigger role than imagined.


Birds Sing to Their Eggs, and This Song Might Help Their Babies Survive Climate Change

View attachment 7693
ps, when we understand how this happens we will be on another road to understanding what consciousness is.
 

Constance

Paranormal Adept
This is excellent --


The original vinyl recording you'll hear on this video is magnificent. 'Twas never released on CD. I'd never heard this album before tonight. Listen up for Eldee Young, the bassist and cellist on all but two of the album's cuts. He's also the composer of three of the best ones. Ramsey Lewis, as always, owns every key of the piano. It's a joy.
 

USI Calgary

J. Randall Murphy
Staff member
ps, when we understand how this happens we will be on another road to understanding what consciousness is.
Or will we? I think the article is totally cool, but the claim above appears to be that consciousness is associated with birds and bird's eggs. Maybe that's the case, but there's still that nagging issue of proving whether or not anyone or anything but ourselves experiences anything at all. Maybe birds are just programmed to do what they do, like pecking chicken toys, but more complex.

Does This Chicken Have Consciousness ?

 
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Soupie

Paranormal Adept
Or will we? I think the article is totally cool, but the claim above appears to be that consciousness is associated with birds and bird's eggs. Maybe that's the case, but there's still that nagging issue of proving whether or not anyone or anything but ourselves experiences anything at all. Maybe birds are just programmed to do what they do, like pecking chicken toys, but more complex.

Does This Chicken Have Consciousness ?

In the past you have argued that there is no problem of mental causation. You’ve said that when we touch a hot burner, we move our hand because we feel pain. Not bc of neural processes. Why should it be any different for other organisms?
 

smcder

Paranormal Adept
@Soupie @USI Calgary from a discussion on cognitive closure in part 5.


"My belief is that the experience of consciousness ( the Hard Part ) when active, serves as a vital link in a chain of causal events that can be observed in human behavior ( e.g. pain causes behavior that relieves pain ), and that if causal closure ( as a materialist principle ) fails to take this into account, then they are arbitrarily discarding evidence, but if one materialist philosopher or another says it can be taken into account because in their view of materialism includes not only the "material", but all physical phenomena as well, then their logic becomes circular and therefore trivial, so either way we're no further ahead. We still have the issue of the Hard Part performing a causal role without an adequate explanation for how it comes to exist."

pain causes behavior that relieves pain

vs.

the experience of pain causes behavior that relieves pain, that's the tricky bit - causal closure as well as what @Soupie has said about the timing of consciousness (coming after events in some cases, for example the batter swinging before he is aware of the ball in flight) and the Libet experiments, argue that the nerves firing causes consciousness and the behavior (in the case of the hot stove, before the person has phenomenal consciousness of the pain) - such reflex could conceivably work without pain at all -and a robot that had critical sensors and thresholds could respond to damage and potentially damaging situations with urgency but no consciousness.

In other situations, where we have time to experience pain and act accordingly, we still have the problem of how an experience that we might argue is causes by the brain, then itself (the experience) causes the brain to do something.

See also Nicholas Humphrey's response to Chalmers' metaproblem I posted above on page 59 of this thread.
 
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USI Calgary

J. Randall Murphy
Staff member
In the past you have argued that there is no problem of mental causation. You’ve said that when we touch a hot burner, we move our hand because we feel pain. Not bc of neural processes. Why should it be any different for other organisms?
I quite agree, except for where you say: "not bc of neural processes" ( assuming "bc" = because ). In fact, I made the same point someplace not too long ago. It was something to the effect of: Given the evidence we have about ourselves, it seems reasonable to assume that anything built similarly enough to ourselves ( humans ), should operate similarly to the way we do, and that there's no logical reason to exclude consciousness. In this situation, neural processes, specifically the thalamocortical loop and connected neuroprocessing structures appear to be the key components.

The context of my response might also be more relevant here than the point itself. It was in response to @Constance's post here: Consciousness and the Paranormal — Part 12
  • Are birds sufficiently like us to assume consciousness?
  • Are birds eggs sufficiently like us to assume consciousness?
  • Does a bird singing to it's egg have anything to do with consciousness?
Maybe birds sing ( make bird noises ) without thinking, as a purely reflexive action to their situation, like if the pecking chicken had a little wind-up music box inside it.
 
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USI Calgary

J. Randall Murphy
Staff member
@Constance has posted a lot on animal consciousness in these threads: Peter Godfrey, Frans de Waal, Jaak Panksepp come to mind.,
There appears to be some conflation in the Wikipedia article between consciousness and intelligence by way of assuming that language is a reliable indicator of consciousness. I didn't do a detailed comparison of avian and human brains, but I did notice that the forebrain was mentioned in the PubMed piece, and that the experts seem to favor the idea that similar structures result in similar functions. This seems reasonable to me. Of course this still leaves us with the question about bird's eggs. At what point ( if any ) does a bird's egg experience its mother singing to it?
  • Do birds start singing to their eggs right after they are laid?
  • Can a bird hear anything before it hatches?
  • What if it turns out that birds only begin singing to their eggs when the unhatched bird inside can hear it?
 

smcder

Paranormal Adept
ps, when we understand how this happens we will be on another road to understanding what consciousness is.
We do much the same thing, I suspect. In the article it was framed as things people do like have arguments, implying that people act or can act in a conscious manner to"improve" this messaging to the unborn, but I wonder how much of that we really do own?
 

smcder

Paranormal Adept
There appears to be some conflation in the Wikipedia article between consciousness and intelligence by way of assuming that language is a reliable indicator of consciousness. I didn't do a detailed comparison of avian and human brains, (didn't you??) but I did notice that the forebrain was mentioned in the PubMed piece, and that the experts seem to favor the idea that similar structures result in similar functions. This seems reasonable to me. Of course this still leaves us with the question about bird's eggs. At what point ( if any ) does a bird's egg experience its mother singing to it?
  • Are birds sufficiently like us to assume consciousness?
  • Are birds eggs sufficiently like us to assume consciousness?
  • Does a bird singing to it's egg have anything to do with consciousness?
And you are off and running! :) Those are your questions, but I'm interested in what @Constance had in mind when she posted the above.

One thing I found very interesting was this:

Buchanan says that there are wide implications for the new research that go beyond zebra finches in terms of what kinds of information parents can pass onto their offspring in the embryonic stage. “It makes me wonder what signal babies are picking up before they are born, whether they are hearing their parents arguing or loud noises,” she says.

Should we try and control the information our babies get from us in the embryonic stage? Can we? If we can, do we risk undercutting vital information about the world we live in - the old question of sheltering children, after all if they are going to be born into a noisy, contentious family, perhaps they should be given fair warning! As well, like the birds, our own communication are surely affected by the wider world we live in and this occurs consciously and unconsciously. Our songs to our unborn children I would think are much like our avian associates.
 

smcder

Paranormal Adept
There appears to be some conflation in the Wikipedia article between consciousness and intelligence by way of assuming that language is a reliable indicator of consciousness. I didn't do a detailed comparison of avian and human brains, but I did notice that the forebrain was mentioned in the PubMed piece, and that the experts seem to favor the idea that similar structures result in similar functions. This seems reasonable to me. Of course this still leaves us with the question about bird's eggs. At what point ( if any ) does a bird's egg experience its mother singing to it?
  • Do birds start singing to their eggs right after they are laid?
  • Can a bird hear anything before it hatches?
  • What if it turns out that birds only begin singing to their eggs when the unhatched bird inside can hear it?
Can you point to said conflation?
 

USI Calgary

J. Randall Murphy
Staff member
Can you point to said conflation?
One example ( there are others peppered throughout ): "Research with captive grey parrots, especially Irene Pepperberg's work with an individual named Alex, has demonstrated they possess the ability to associate simple human words with meanings, and to intelligently apply the abstract concepts of shape, colour, number, zero-sense, etc."

The ability to do the above need not require consciousness. It might however require what we generally think of as intelligence. The two are not necessarily connected. For example, computers with cameras and microphones can correctly identify language and colors. But are they experiencing any of it? Are they even intelligent? Or are they just crunching numbers? I posted a possible test for consciousness in the Philosophy, Science, and The Unexplained thread with respect to the Delayed-choice quantum eraser experiment. But I am not sure if it actually represents an accurate test. It's rather mind bending.
 

Constance

Paranormal Adept
One example ( there are others peppered throughout ): "Research with captive grey parrots, especially Irene Pepperberg's work with an individual named Alex, has demonstrated they possess the ability to associate simple human words with meanings, and to intelligently apply the abstract concepts of shape, colour, number, zero-sense, etc."

The ability to do the above need not require consciousness. It might however require what we generally think of as intelligence. The two are not necessarily connected. For example, computers with cameras and microphones can correctly identify language and colors. But are they experiencing any of it? Are they even intelligent? Or are they just crunching numbers? I posted a possible test for consciousness in the Philosophy, Science, and The Unexplained thread with respect to the Delayed-choice quantum eraser experiment. But I am not sure if it actually represents an accurate test. It's rather mind bending.
Of course Wallace Stevens had a poem for this (actually many contemplating the nature of consciousness and behavior in birds) . . .

"The Bird With The Coppery, Keen Claws"
by Wallace Stevens

Wallace Stevens

"Above the forest of the parakeets,
A parakeet of parakeets prevails,
A pip of life amid a mort of tails.
(The rudiments of tropics are around,
Aloe of ivory, pear of rusty rind.)
His lids are white because his eyes are blind.
He is not paradise of parakeets,
Of his gold ether, golden alguazil,
Except because he broods there and is still.
Panache upon panache, his tails deploy
Upward and outward, in green-vented forms,
His tip a drop of water full of storms.
But though the turbulent tinges undulate
As his pure intellect applies its laws,
He moves not on his coppery, keen claws.
He munches a dry shell while he exerts
His will, yet never ceases, perfect cock,
To flare, in the sun-pallor of his rock."
 

Constance

Paranormal Adept
One example ( there are others peppered throughout ): "Research with captive grey parrots, especially Irene Pepperberg's work with an individual named Alex, has demonstrated they possess the ability to associate simple human words with meanings, and to intelligently apply the abstract concepts of shape, colour, number, zero-sense, etc."

The ability to do the above need not require consciousness. It might however require what we generally think of as intelligence. The two are not necessarily connected. For example, computers with cameras and microphones can correctly identify language and colors. But are they experiencing any of it? Are they even intelligent? Or are they just crunching numbers?
It still seems to me that they are 'just crunching numbers'.

Early in this forum @Soupie wrote some interesting posts about Helen Keller, specifically proposing a theory about when and how Helen achieved 'consciousness'. If I recall correctly, @Soupie's theory was that Helen discovered her own consciousness and relational presence to her surrounding 'world' when she learned/understood through her teacher Annie Sullivan's prodigous efforts that there was a reliable and meaningful interconnection among things, sensations, feelings, and concepts, represented in verbalized, articulated names for things within a symbolic structure that she could not have achieved alone. Most significantly, Sullivan made sure that Helen learned these names, these symbols, in the midst of experiencing the felt qualities of things, as in the case of her learning the name for water as water was flowing from the pump over her hands.

I didn't and don't think that Helen had been unaware of her own being and of her own awareness of her own being before Sullivan led her to grasp this reliable connection between her own consciousness and the world of things and others among whom she lived. She simply couldn't make coherent sense of her relation to this environing world until Sullivan showed her how she could participate more fully, more satisfactorily, in the world she shared with the others around her. Without sight and hearing, her world didn't 'make sense' and this caused her great distress. After becoming capable of understanding the interconnections between her self and the others, and the things in the environment they dwelt in, she had a new grounding in the comprehension of her actual lived reality, of the poles of subjectivity and objectivity that together constitute the nature of our lived, experienced, reality.

But before that gradual achievement, she had surely sensed the reality of the things she touched and of the others who touched her, and indeed thereby of her own existence, during her passage from prereflective consciousness into reflective consciousness, the latter development requiring extra and insightful and sustained support from the brilliant Annie Sullivan in familiarizing Helen with the relational interdependence -- the 'codependent arising' -- of self and world. Helen went on to accomplish marvelous work herself. She did write at some point, as @Soupie noted, that Sullivan had helped her to discover her own "consciousness," but I think it's clear that what Sullivan did was to ground and integrate Helen's consciousness in ways she could not have done alone in the absence of the senses of sight and hearing.
 
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smcder

Paranormal Adept
One example ( there are others peppered throughout ): "Research with captive grey parrots, especially Irene Pepperberg's work with an individual named Alex, has demonstrated they possess the ability to associate simple human words with meanings, and to intelligently apply the abstract concepts of shape, colour, number, zero-sense, etc."

The ability to do the above need not require consciousness. It might however require what we generally think of as intelligence. The two are not necessarily connected. For example, computers with cameras and microphones can correctly identify language and colors. But are they experiencing any of it? Are they even intelligent? Or are they just crunching numbers? I posted a possible test for consciousness in the Philosophy, Science, and The Unexplained thread with respect to the Delayed-choice quantum eraser experiment. But I am not sure if it actually represents an accurate test. It's rather mind bending.
Did you read the article that section is taken from?
 

Constance

Paranormal Adept
I had written following my post on research concerning songs sung by birds to their eggs:

"ps, when we understand how this happens we will be on another road to understanding what consciousness is."

Randel replied:

Or will we? I think the article is totally cool, but the claim above appears to be that consciousness is associated with birds and bird's eggs. Maybe that's the case, but there's still that nagging issue of proving whether or not anyone or anything but ourselves experiences anything at all. Maybe birds are just programmed to do what they do, like pecking chicken toys, but more complex.
That issue should no longer 'nag' anyone who familiarizes himself or herself with current biology, affective neuroscience, and/or the behavior of animals in his or her own household. The dominant contemporary meme (a false one) is to believe that all forms of life, including ourselves {about whom we should and usually do know better} are "just programmed to do what they do." It seems to me that this meme propagated in computer science and AI research has been convenient for, and thus seized upon by, neuroscientists and materialists to divert attention away from the primary issues of consciousness, mind, and the degrees of freedom these provide. It's kind of like looking through the wrong end of a telescope and hoping to find a replacement concept for a designing 'God' in a yet unnamed, undiscovered, place at the core of the universe, cosmos, etc. et al., in order that we shall think of ourselves and other species of life as automata -- cogs in or effects of a great Computer at the origin of universal spacetime.
 
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Constance

Paranormal Adept


@Constance has posted a lot on animal consciousness in these threads: Peter Godfrey, Frans de Waal, Jaak Panksepp come to mind.,
After following your first link and reading the abstract for that paper I was led to another paper that is of great significance for us in our concern with understanding consciousness and also the MBP:

BioEssays 30: 499-505, 2008. URL: http://www3.interscience.wiley.com//journal/34201/home

"Brain, mind and limitations of a scientific theory of human consciousness"
Alfred Gierer
Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology

Abstract: "In biological terms, human consciousness appears as a feature associated with the functioning of the human brain. The corresponding activities of the neural network occur strictly in accord with physical laws; however, this fact does not necessarily imply that there can be a comprehensive scientific theory of consciousness, despite all the progress in neurobiology, neuropsychology and neurocomputation. Predictions of the extent to which such a theory may become possible vary widely in the scientific community. There are basic reasons--not only practical but also epistemological--why the brain-mind relation may never be fully "decodable" by general finite procedures. In particular, self-referential features of consciousness, such as self-representations involved in strategic thought and dispositions, may not be resolvable in all their essential aspects by brain analysis. Assuming that such limitations exist, objective analysis by the methods of natural science cannot, in principle, fully encompass subjective, mental experience."

Fortunately I located a pdf of this article online, which I think will be important for all of us to grok:

https://www.eb.tuebingen.mpg.de/fil...Gierer/Curriculum-v_PDF/brain-mind-bioess.pdf
 
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USI Calgary

J. Randall Murphy
Staff member
Did you read the article that section is taken from?
I guess it depends on what you mean by "read". I use different reading styles for different situations, and I'd rather not get into a discussion about them. If you have some point to make, or would like to discuss something specific, then let's talk about that instead.
 


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