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Consciousness and the Paranormal — Part 12


Soupie

Paranormal Adept
Why do we need to "explain how"? Would it not be sufficient to simply "describe what"?
Chalmers and others would say the p-consciousness is something different than neurological processes. There are very good arguments for this.

Lumping p-consciousness in with neurological processes is therefore problematic. One of these things is simply not like the other.

An illusionist, such as Dennett, responds by saying p-consciousness just seems like it is something different. It is reeaaally just neurological (physical) processes. There is no special sauce. It just seems like there is.

As for the describing, that simply not currently possible. Can you describe objectively how p-consciousness interacts with neurological or physiological processes?

The discussion in this thread over the past several weeks seems to indicate that most of you believe that in principle it might some day be possible. But right now, we have no clue.
 

USI Calgary

J. Randall Murphy
Staff member
Chalmers and others would say the p-consciousness is something different than neurological processes. There are very good arguments for this ...
That doesn't answer the question I posed, but let's propose for the sake of argument that (P) is something different than neural processes. Apart from a having more complete description of what the situation is with brains and (P), what makes (P) any different in principle from other neural processes? Nothing. It is only our lack of a sufficient description of what's going on that sets it apart.

This being the case, there's no justification for assuming that (P) is not part of neural processes. The gap isn't between neural processes and (P). It's in our knowledge of the situation with neural processes and (P). Once that gap is filled, (P) could be as much a part of neural processes as anything else. Therefore perhaps the arguments are not as good as we have been led to believe.
 
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USI Calgary

J. Randall Murphy
Staff member
The arguments are just fine. Your faith that there will be solutions is just superior.
Note that I do use the word "could" as in "... could be as much a part of neural processes as anything else." and neither faith nor superiority has anything to do with the analysis. Whatever solutions there are will be limited to what we can know. At present, the "explain how" approach doesn't seem possible because it's not something we can know, while the "describe what" approach does seem possible. If faith has anything to with it, it is that when things are possible, humans tend to find answers.
 

Soupie

Paranormal Adept
Whatever solutions there are will be limited to what we can know.
Whatever solutions there may be. Despite the strong intuition that the brain-phenomenal consciousness relationship is a causal relationship, it may not be.

Despite the fact that this possibility strongly challenges our (human) intuitions, it nevertheless remains.
 

USI Calgary

J. Randall Murphy
Staff member
Whatever solutions there may be. Despite the strong intuition that the brain-phenomenal consciousness relationship is a causal relationship, it may not be. Despite the fact that this possibility strongly challenges our (human) intuitions, it nevertheless remains.
Either way, the causation versus correlation argument doesn't have much ( if any ) depth with respect to the problem. We can just as easily say that mass doesn't cause gravity. It's only correlative. So what? Whether we model mass as a fluctuation in the quantum field, a distortion in minkowski space, a collection of Higgs bosons, or gravitons, it doesn't change the circumstance that mass and gravity go together with the same consistency as consciousness and normally functioning brains.

Imagine if physicists had decided not to create the rules of celestial mechanics because some philosopher said gravity is only correlative. With a similarly working description for consciousness, we can develop practical applications regardless of whether or not the situation is correlative or causal.
 
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Soupie

Paranormal Adept
With a similarly working description for consciousness, we can develop practical applications regardless of whether or not the situation is correlative or causal.
Could you provide a rough outline of such a working description? Or is “when humans, there be consciousness” the finest grain we can get atm?

Or maybe “when thalamocortical loop, there be consciousness.”
 

USI Calgary

J. Randall Murphy
Staff member
Could you provide a rough outline of such a working description? Or is “when humans, there be consciousness” the finest grain we can get atm?
Or maybe “when thalamocortical loop, there be consciousness.”
I think you're on the right track with respect to the larger structures and that we need to figure out exactly what fine grained structures are crucial within them. But I'm not the expert here. I just assemble pieces of the puzzle from here and there and extrapolate through deductive reasoning what sort of things could fill in the blanks.

Guys like Hamerhoff are more on the cutting edge of that. He is exploring the microfine structures he thinks are responsible. Personally, I think that although he's onto something, the piece of the puzzle his tile represents, has nothing to interlock with ( yet ), because there are still missing pieces between what we know and what we don't know.

Also, of particular relevance is that scale doesn't change the basis for the reasoning why processing alone isn't the answer, and what Hamerhoff's theory is based on is exactly that, microtubule processing. Therefore something else must going on besides processing.

In light of the above, I suspect ( strongly ) that consciousness is not a result of processing in and of itself, but a byproduct of the way that the processing is done. In other words, a synapse fires and a whole bunch of things happen that don't happen with simple logic gates, and therefore it's more likely that whatever the causal factor for consciousness is, it's not simply gates alone that are responsible.
 
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Constance

Paranormal Adept
I know the mbp is not phenomenology’s focus, but could you outline the, say, three biggest contributions phenomenology has made to our understanding of the mbp?
1. the recognition that consciousness and the origins of mind are embodied and emerge together in experienced life;
2. the radical temporality of embodied consciousness, which conditions the nature of the lived experiences and understandings of beings such as ourselves.
3. the essential subjectivity and intersubjectivity of consciousness, thus of thought and other productions of mind.

These key elements of phenomenology can only be fully appreciated within the context of the other major themes and elements of phenomenological philosophy. For a grasp of phenomenology, especially as it relates to reductive and eliminative theories in neuroscience, computer science, and cognitive science, I recommend Gallagher and Zahavi's The Phenomenological Mind, 2d edition, which is about 280 pages in length and very well-written. Its particular value for our discussions here is that it focuses on, and was written to address, recent collaborations between phenomenologists and cognitive neuroscientists and the progress made in these collaborations.

At both the amazon and Google Books links to the book below you will find the full table of contents, introductory material, and sample chapters, with significantly more of the latter at Google Books. Try it. You'll like it.

The Phenomenological Mind: Shaun Gallagher: 9780415610377: Amazon.com: Books

The Phenomenological Mind
 

Michael Allen

Paranormal Adept
"If both evolution and naturalism are true, then the probability of having reliable cognitive faculties is low."

This is Plantinga's "defeater" of naturalism, it reminds me of your argument above.

From and 1 and 2 we can conclude that we don't need this ability to reproduce, but I'm not sure we can conclude that our offspring can reliably use the questioning/thinking/consciousness that they are laden with, anymore than we can, without this ability to understand? ... what is the relationship of understanding our own basis of questioning, our own ability to think, or to think about questioning to our basis of questioning, our ability to think and to think about questioning? The ability to question, it seems to me, leads immediately to inquiry of the basis of questioning, which we may not have the ability to understand, which seems to bring into question our very ability to question. Or perhaps its enough to be able to question our own basis of questioning, ability to think (and to think about questioning) to reliably question, think and think about questioning because, in away this ability is an ability to understand our own basis of questioning, ability to think and to think about questioning.
It is a funny conclusion -- that because our consciousness is a product (or by-product...whatever...) and the truism that we don't have to understand (in the way that somehow satisfies our curiosity completely) our "selves" in order to reproduce (sexual reproduction doesn't require the deep understanding of "ourselves" or "consciousness" in order to create another being--children)...how these two premises should lead the same to conclude we don't need the ability to reproduce eludes even my own twisted ways of thinking and logic :)


I don't see how the underscored statement can be true. Moreover, computer scientists/AI designers had 'something' in mind -- a sense or an idea about what consciousness is and what it can enable -- when they declared an interest in producing robots capable of consciousness. Why did they want to accomplish that?
To illustrate

" understanding consciousness isn't required in order for us to create conscious machines "

Does anyone here claim to fully understand or "grok" consciousness? Or has our own self-examination of our abiltiy to do self-examination reduce our ability to have a child who ponders the same? Understanding the basis of what we call "consciousness" is not required to create copies of the same questioners...perhaps the word "machine" is a distraction.
 

Constance

Paranormal Adept
It is a funny conclusion -- that because our consciousness is a product (or by-product...whatever...) and the truism that we don't have to understand (in the way that somehow satisfies our curiosity completely) our "selves" in order to reproduce (sexual reproduction doesn't require the deep understanding of "ourselves" or "consciousness" in order to create another being--children)...how these two premises should lead the same to conclude we don't need the ability to reproduce eludes even my own twisted ways of thinking and logic :)
?????☔?????



To illustrate

" understanding consciousness isn't required in order for us to create conscious machines "

Does anyone here claim to fully understand or "grok" consciousness? Or has our own self-examination of our abiltiy to do self-examination reduce our ability to have a child who ponders the same? Understanding the basis of what we call "consciousness" is not required to create copies of the same questioners...perhaps the word "machine" is a distraction.
Of course no one in our time fully understands what 'consciousness' is or how it has developed in the evolution of biological life. To understand consciousness we will have to study it extensively in its natural origins and developments. But as I tried to suggest before, those involved over the last half-century in the project of attempting to produce 'consciousness' in computers and robots have obviously had some idea [at least a vague idea] of what it is they are trying to produce mechanically. Yet evidently they proceed in their AI experiments without studying 'consciousness' as it has developed organically in living organisms. This seems to me to be absurd.
 

Michael Allen

Paranormal Adept
?????☔?????





Of course no one in our time fully understands what 'consciousness' is or how it has developed in the evolution of biological life. To understand consciousness we will have to study it extensively in its natural origins and developments. But as I tried to suggest before, those involved over the last half-century in the project of attempting to produce 'consciousness' in computers and robots have obviously had some idea [at least a vague idea] of what it is they are trying to produce mechanically. Yet evidently they proceed in their AI experiments without studying 'consciousness' as it has developed organically in living organisms. This seems to me to be absurd.

But if humans are already one of billions of nodes in the great chain of reproducing DNA and RNA machines in a temporal "tree" of evolving replicators...and in addition admittedly are baffled by their own "studies" of "consciousness" ... why would it be so absurd to stumble on the next stage of replication within another matrix (silicon or otherwise?).

Carbon based survival "machines" can continue in many billions of years of "absurdities" (most of which are extinct) before falling to our current configuration in "design space." So perhaps the half-century is just the spark to the next stage...a tiny almost infinitesimal fraction of time with respect to the millions of years of DNA replicators at work. If clay and crystals could think, perhaps the proto-RNA-protein replication cycles if "they" had a phenomenal self-model, would have ridiculed the DNA "AI" ... a mind-experiment that defeats itself.
 

Constance

Paranormal Adept
But if humans are already one of billions of nodes in the great chain of reproducing DNA and RNA machines in a temporal "tree" of evolving replicators...and in addition admittedly are baffled by their own "studies" of "consciousness" ... why would it be so absurd to stumble on the next stage of replication within another matrix (silicon or otherwise?).
That sentence doesn't respond to the statement I made about 'AI+Consciousness' developers.



Carbon based survival "machines" can continue in many billions of years of "absurdities" (most of which are extinct) before falling to our current configuration in "design space." So perhaps the half-century is just the spark to the next stage...a tiny almost infinitesimal fraction of time with respect to the millions of years of DNA replicators at work. If clay and crystals could think, perhaps the proto-RNA-protein replication cycles if "they" had a phenomenal self-model, would have ridiculed the DNA "AI" ... a mind-experiment that defeats itself.
I haven't been 'ridiculing' the computer engineers who would like to produce consciousness in robots. I've only been saying that they do not appear to have achieved an adequate understanding of that which they seek to duplicate.
 
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Constance

Paranormal Adept
What is a machine-- and then ask what is DNA?



The most organic-inorganic molecule in the universe.

Nature seems to be more complex than geneticists have thought:

Epigenetic Memories are Passed Down 14 Successive Generations, Game-Changing Research Reveals

Extract: "Taken cumulatively, the aforementioned research challenges traditional Mendelian laws of genetics, which postulate that genetic inheritance occurs exclusively through sexual reproduction and that traits are passed to offspring through the chromosomes contained in germ line cells, and never through somatic (bodily) cells. Effectively, this proves the existence of non-Mendelian transgenerational inheritance, where traits separate from chromosomal genes are transmitted to progeny, resulting in persistent phenotypes that endure across generations (22).

This research imparts new meaning to the principle of seven generation stewardship taught by Native Americans, which mandates that we consider the welfare of seven generations to come in each of our decisions. Not only should we embody this approach in practices of environmental sustainability, but we would be wise to consider how the conditions to which we subject our bodies—the pollution and toxicants which permeate the landscape and pervade our bodies, the nutrient-devoid soil that engenders micronutrient-poor food, the disruptions to our circadian rhythm due to the ubiquity of electronic devices, our divorce from nature and the demise of our tribal affiliations—may translate into ill health effects and diminished quality of life for a previously unfathomed number of subsequent generations."


ps, as Merleau-Ponty wrote regarding the relationship of a living being and its environment:
"The fish is in the water and the water is in the fish."
 
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USI Calgary

J. Randall Murphy
Staff member
But if humans are already one of billions of nodes in the great chain of reproducing DNA and RNA machines in a temporal "tree" of evolving replicators...and in addition admittedly are baffled by their own "studies" of "consciousness" ... why would it be so absurd to stumble on the next stage of replication within another matrix (silicon or otherwise?).
I completely agree. At the same time, replicating doesn't necessarily require any experience of replication. Until we know what the situation is that makes us conscious beings, we don't have sufficient reason to assume that dissimilar things or only superficially similar things will be conscious. Right?
 

Michael Allen

Paranormal Adept
That sentence doesn't respond to the statement I made about 'AI+Consciousness' developers.
Let's revisit then

"But as I tried to suggest before, those involved over the last half-century in the project of attempting to produce 'consciousness' in computers and robots have obviously had some idea [at least a vague idea] of what it is they are trying to produce mechanically. Yet evidently they proceed in their AI experiments without studying 'consciousness' as it has developed organically in living organisms. This seems to me to be absurd. "

Perhaps this is the best way to proceed--I am not sure why "understanding" is required. And we are as much "mechanical" (but more complicated) and yet are confused about our own origins. What I am trying to make clear is that 'consciousness' can evolve itself without understanding itself through it's own basis in (and through) time and space. We are already proof.

I haven't been 'ridiculing' the computer engineers who would like to produce consciousness in robots. I've only been saying that they do not appear to have achieved an adequate understanding of that which they seek to duplicate.
Appearances are often misleading...there is the possibility that we've already created it by accident. But if by accident then we lack the criteria to know what that has already made an impact on our own world. So I agree that we don't have an understanding--that doesn't prevent the possibility of bringing about another entity that can think for itself and suffer "existence" in the same...we've already done this for millions of years...it's called sexual reproduction
 


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