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Consciousness and the Paranormal — Part 12

Merchandise that’s just out of this world!

Constance

Paranormal Adept
Randall, I don't have time today to respond in detail to your remarks re Panksepp, but in the meantime I think the following paper might provide you with some of the context within which Panksepp's research and thinking have developed and also incline you, perhaps, to more openness in approaching the major question of how we and other animals preceding us in evolution develop and express consciousness and mind through lived experiences that comprehend and body forth the nature of the world's being and our own being from the ground up.

https://philarchive.org/archive/BUREPI
 
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Constance

Paranormal Adept
Just came across a notice of Antonio Damasio's most recent book and want to note it here before I forget. Available in hard cover now and in paperback in February 2019.

https://www.amazon.com/Strange-Order-Things-Feeling-Cultures/dp/0307908755/ref=tmm_hrd_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

Amazon description:
"From one of our preeminent neuroscientists: a landmark reflection that spans the biological and social sciences, offering a new way of understanding the origins of life, feeling, and culture.

The Strange Order of Things is a pathbreaking investigation into homeostasis, the condition of that regulates human physiology within the range that makes possible not only the survival but also the flourishing of life. Antonio Damasio makes clear that we descend biologically, psychologically, and even socially from a long lineage that begins with single living cells; that our minds and cultures are linked by an invisible thread to the ways and means of ancient unicellular life and other primitive life-forms; and that inherent in our very chemistry is a powerful force, a striving toward life maintenance that governs life in all its guises, including the development of genes that help regulate and transmit life. In The Strange Order of Things, Damasio gives us a new way of comprehending the world and our place in it.
 
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Constance

Paranormal Adept
Previous books by Damasio that we should consult:

Descartes' Error: Emotion, Reason, and the Human Brain
Self Comes to Mind: Constructing the Conscious Brain
The Feeling of What Happens: Body and Emotion in the Making of Consciousness
Looking for Spinoza: Joy, Sorrow, and the Feeling Brain
 
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Constance

Paranormal Adept
Yes I've encountered Panksepp before, but I don't follow him on a regular basis. I tend to think he makes assumptions that although seemingly accurate from our anthropocentric perspective, may not be the case. For example attributing human-like emotions to other animals when we don't know that other animals actually feel emotions anything even remotely like we do. But that's beside the point. I was more interested in what your thinking about his work is most interesting and persuasive to you than providing comments myself. Here's a TED talk featuring Panksepp making a lot of the kinds of assumptions I'm talking about.
To respond to your question let me begin by quoting from the 'intimidating thesis' expressed in Damasio's most recent book, which I highlighted in green two posts back in the description of his newest book, The Strange Order of Things: Life, Feeling, and the Making of Cultures:
 

Constance

Paranormal Adept
@USI Calgary, sorry for dropping out of our conversation last week without (for some reason) posting the rest of what I'd been writing to you. Many distractions ensued just after that. I will redraft that response and get it posted in the next few days. :)
 

USI Calgary

J. Randall Murphy
Staff member
@USI Calgary, sorry for dropping out of our conversation last week without (for some reason) posting the rest of what I'd been writing to you. Many distractions ensued just after that. I will redraft that response and get it posted in the next few days. :)
Certainly no apologies necessary. Hope all is well with you.
 

marduk

quelling chaos since 2352BC
When you say entropy is measurable, what you mean is that scientists can assign to a system a numerical value and that that value can facilitate the concept of a system's entropic value. That doesn't mean entropy exists anymore than that the number exists. It's just an idea!... like God is an idea.
Sorry folks, been off-line for a while.

By your own definition you are therefore an idea and don't actually exist.
 

marduk

quelling chaos since 2352BC
lol. I am merely trying to get @marduk to question his beliefs and assumptions about the nature of physical explanation and the limitations of the physicalist doctrine. I basically pursue physicalist answers to things, but I recognise limitations and question orthodoxy. To claim information exists illustrates the absurdity of blind physicalism ... I suggest it is no less so than claiming God exists.
@marduk Remember "ether"? Well, information is your ether.
@smcder Your recent responses to my comments... I am currently trying to decipher what you are saying exactly..
Here's where I'm going with your 'information does not exist' idea.

Number one, information theory is bound to entropy. Why? Because of randomness. The more random a system gets, the more entropy it has, and the more information it contains. Take a .txt file and zip it. You've just increased the information density by increasing it's randomness (entropy).

So to say information does not exist is equivalent to saying entropy doesn't exist. Which means that the laws of thermodynamics don't exist. Which means that life also does not exist, which means you wouldn't be here postulating that information does not exist.

Let's flip the logic and assume that information does not exist. Therefore, you haven't typed in anything to a browser to be stored in it's CMS, because neither also exist. Your entire post cannot exist if your assertion is true.

So I really struggle with the notion of 'blind physicalism' when all you are doing is asserting things that cannot be true if you are here to assert them not to be true.
 

marduk

quelling chaos since 2352BC
That seems perfectly logical. That is why I said previously that information could exist in material and conceptual form ( e.g. a symbol carved into a rock that is observed by someone who assigns it meaning ). But in the absence of an observer to assign it meaning as information, I can't see how a mere rock carving qualifies as information.
I think it does but maybe not the way you mean.

I think carving a message in a rock does contain information - information that something changed the physical surface of the rock in non-random ways.

The semiotic information - meaning the translation from symbol to information - would require an observer that would understand the symbol and the meaning behind it.
 

USI Calgary

J. Randall Murphy
Staff member
Here's where I'm going with your 'information does not exist' idea.

Number one, information theory is bound to entropy. Why? Because of randomness. The more random a system gets, the more entropy it has, and the more information it contains. Take a .txt file and zip it. You've just increased the information density by increasing it's randomness (entropy).

So to say information does not exist is equivalent to saying entropy doesn't exist. Which means that the laws of thermodynamics don't exist. Which means that life also does not exist, which means you wouldn't be here postulating that information does not exist.

Let's flip the logic and assume that information does not exist. Therefore, you haven't typed in anything to a browser to be stored in it's CMS, because neither also exist. Your entire post cannot exist if your assertion is true.

So I really struggle with the notion of 'blind physicalism' when all you are doing is asserting things that cannot be true if you are here to assert them not to be true.
It seems to me that the central issue in your discussion hinges on the interpretation of existence, and it also seems to me that there are two kinds of existence, the objective and the subjective. While both have a physical component, their contexts are mutually exclusive. So I'm assuming that what @Pharoah was getting at is that information from a human perspective is a subjective experience, and therefore although it has a physical component, like for example, the gears in a cipher machine, without a consciousness to assign meaning to them, they're just cogs, and cogs alone have no concept of themselves, let alone that they are themselves carriers of information.
 

marduk

quelling chaos since 2352BC
It seems to me that the central issue in your discussion hinges on the interpretation of existence, and it also seems to me that there are two kinds of existence, the objective and the subjective. While both have a physical component, their contexts are mutually exclusive. So I'm assuming that what @Pharoah was getting at is that information from a human perspective is a subjective experience, and therefore although it has a physical component ( like the gears in a cipher machine ), without a consciousness to assign meaning to them, they're just cogs, and cogs alone have no concept of themselves, let alone that they are themselves carriers of information.
OK I'm with you. I think the gap here is in the word 'information.' Information has a very specific meaning to me given my background in computer science.

Information is that which resolves uncertainty. It is measurable as a quantity in and of itself - meaning you can measure the amount of information in one system vs another. It can be encoded and transmitted. Further:

A key measure in information theory is "entropy". Entropy quantifies the amount of uncertainty involved in the value of a random variable or the outcome of a random process. For example, identifying the outcome of a fair coin flip (with two equally likely outcomes) provides less information (lower entropy) than specifying the outcome from a roll of a die (with six equally likely outcomes).
Information theory - Wikipedia

In other words, a more ordered system contains less information than a less ordered system. Diamond contains less information per gram than coal because you can 'compress' the structured carbon lattice information to describe a chunk of diamond, but you can't do the same to a randomized chunk of coal. A file containing a billion letter 'As' contains far less information than a file containing the string 'Marduk Is Awesome' because you can compress the billion letter file by saying 'A x 10^9'.

Whether the chunk of diamond, coal, or two files on my laptop are conscious of their information that they convey is kind of an abstraction. You don't actually need consciousness to convey information in the mathematical sense. In fact, you can measure information without understanding what that information means.
 

USI Calgary

J. Randall Murphy
Staff member
OK I'm with you. I think the gap here is in the word 'information.' Information has a very specific meaning to me given my background in computer science.

Information is that which resolves uncertainty. It is measurable as a quantity in and of itself - meaning you can measure the amount of information in one system vs another. It can be encoded and transmitted. Further:


Information theory - Wikipedia

In other words, a more ordered system contains less information than a less ordered system. Diamond contains less information per gram than coal because you can 'compress' the structured carbon lattice information to describe a chunk of diamond, but you can't do the same to a randomized chunk of coal. A file containing a billion letter 'As' contains far less information than a file containing the string 'Marduk Is Awesome' because you can compress the billion letter file by saying 'A x 10^9'.

Whether the chunk of diamond, coal, or two files on my laptop are conscious of their information that they convey is kind of an abstraction.
We're all fine up this part:
You don't actually need consciousness to convey information in the mathematical sense.
This leads us into the question of what constitutes a mind. If minds can be intelligent without any associated consciousness then consciousness isn't required in order to convey information. But once again we've then reduced information to the level of cogs. Would such a machine recognize an instruction set as "information"? Or would it simply perform the function obliviously?
In fact, you can measure information without understanding what that information means.
That is true, yet we still know it's information. Does a machine "know" it's conveying information? Or is it simply a clockwork orange?
 

Constance

Paranormal Adept
Certainly no apologies necessary. Hope all is well with you.
Thanks, Randall. I'm okay, just pulled in several directions in terms of my attention and energy.

I've just come across an entry from a Russian encyclopedia that marks the beginnings in that country and elsewhere of the recognition of the nature of consciousness as self-referential, emotional, and disclosive of the co-being/being-together of self and environing world, which arises out of experiential pre-reflectivity in its giving way to reflectivity in sentient beings.

Introspectionist

Of course some of us will want to read the thinkers cited in this entry, or begin to note references to them by phenomenologists and others pursuing an understanding of the nature of consciousness.

ETA: We will likely find extensive references to those early proto-phenomenological thinkers in Husserl's Crisis of the European Sciences.
 

USI Calgary

J. Randall Murphy
Staff member
Thanks, Randall. I'm okay, just pulled in several directions in terms of my attention and energy.

I've just come across an entry from a Russian encyclopedia that marks the beginnings in that country and elsewhere of the recognition of the nature of consciousness as self-referential, emotional, and disclosive of the co-being/being-together of self and environing world, which arises out of experiential pre-reflectivity in its giving way to reflectivity in sentient beings.

Introspectionist

Of course some of us will want to read the thinkers cited in this entry, or begin to note references to them by phenomenologists and others pursuing an understanding of the nature of consciousness.

ETA: We will likely find extensive references to those early proto-phenomenological thinkers in Husserl's Crisis of the European Sciences.
Very relevant to the concepts I was asking Jerry to clarify during the last show when he introduced the idea of "experience anomalies" and "event anomalies". I've since been scolded for calling one of the esteemed Mr Clark's assumptions impossible based on the sheer unforgiving logic of the situation.
 

Constance

Paranormal Adept
Copied from a forum discussing feelings and emotions:

“Emotions are brought about by neurotransmitters causing physiological changes in the body releasing hormones that affect action/mood.

Feelings are what we think about those emotions.

As a child, crying would result in punishment for me.
I wanted to cry, it being a perfectly natural emotion.
My feelings surrounding the act of crying were negative (memories and associations).”

All wrong. See Panksepp et al.
 

Constance

Paranormal Adept
Very relevant to the concepts I was asking Jerry to clarify during the last show when he introduced the idea of "experience anomalies" and "event anomalies". I've since been scolded for calling one of the esteemed Mr Clark's assumptions impossible based on the sheer unforgiving logic of the situation.
I'll read your exchanges with Marduk here [does 'Jerry' = 'Marduk'?] and maybe also listen to the program. Would you identify which Paracast program it was? Thanks.

eta: To clarify, I just realized that 'Jerry' is likely Jerome Clark, so never mind the question about Marduk. Also the question about the program; I'll find it.
 
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Constance

Paranormal Adept
Just opened my email and found that @Pharoah's revised paper has been submitted to and accepted for publication by Biosemiotics. This is major. :) Congratulations to you dear Pharoah!!!

Also, if Pharoah has provided a link to the revised paper during my recent absences, would someone please relink it? Thanks.
 

Constance

Paranormal Adept
Forthcoming in: T. Szanto & H. Landweer (Eds.) (2019). The Routledge Handbook of Phenomenology of Emotions. London, New York: Routledge.

Chapter on Husserl by James Jardine

Abstract: "While Husserl is widely recognised as the founder of the phenomenological movement, and as responsible for important positions on a number of central philosophical topics (such as perception, intentionality, self-consciousness, and the tenability of naturalism), he is frequently regarded, even within phenomenological circles, as having a fairly impoverished understanding of the emotions. And indeed, there is some validity to the observation that, while essential roles are accorded to emotion in Husserl’s phenomenological analyses of personhood, (axiological) reason, value-theory, and ethics (to name just a few examples), it emerges less frequently in his writings as a central theme of inquiry. The following chapter offers the reader an opportunity to reconsider such an assessment, by highlighting and explicating a number of key claims that emerge in those writings where Husserl deals directly and thematically with the phenomenology of emotional life. Focusing mainly on his most productive and significant period as a phenomenologist of the emotions — dating between the publication of Logical Investigations in 1900 and Ideas I in 1913 — I hope to indicate that Husserl’s published and unpublished writings contain important contributions to the phenomenological study of emotional life, and to our understanding of the emotions more broadly. . . ."

Free download of the paper at academia.edu:
Husserl - The Routledge Handbook of Phenomenology of the Emotions
 

Constance

Paranormal Adept
Also of interest:

Accepted manuscript (post-peer-review, pre-copyedit)
Physics of Life Reviews.
Special Issue: Physics of Mind Please do not cite this version.


The Hierarchically Mechanistic Mind: A Free-Energy Formulation of the Human Psyche
Paul Benjamin Badcock
Karl John Friston
Maxwell James Désormeau Ramstead

Abstract:

This article presents a unifying theory of the embodied, situated human brain called the Hierarchically Mechanistic Mind (HMM). The HMM describes the brain as a complex adaptive system that actively minimises the decay of our sensory and physical states by producing adaptive action-perception cycles via dynamic interactions between hierarchically organised neurocognitive mechanisms. This theory synthesises the free-energy principle (FEP) in neuroscience with an evolutionary systems theory of psychology that explains our brains, minds, and behaviour by appealing to Tinbergen’s four questions: adaptation, phylogeny,
ontogeny, and mechanism. After leveraging the FEP to formally define the HMM across different spatiotemporal scales, we conclude by exploring its implications for theorising and research in the sciences of the mind and behavior.

The Hierarchically Mechanistic Mind: A Free-Energy Formulation of the Human Psyche
 

Pharoah

Paranormal Adept
OK I'm with you. I think the gap here is in the word 'information.' Information has a very specific meaning to me given my background in computer science.

Information is that which resolves uncertainty. It is measurable as a quantity in and of itself - meaning you can measure the amount of information in one system vs another. It can be encoded and transmitted. Further:


Information theory - Wikipedia

In other words, a more ordered system contains less information than a less ordered system. Diamond contains less information per gram than coal because you can 'compress' the structured carbon lattice information to describe a chunk of diamond, but you can't do the same to a randomized chunk of coal. A file containing a billion letter 'As' contains far less information than a file containing the string 'Marduk Is Awesome' because you can compress the billion letter file by saying 'A x 10^9'.

Whether the chunk of diamond, coal, or two files on my laptop are conscious of their information that they convey is kind of an abstraction. You don't actually need consciousness to convey information in the mathematical sense. In fact, you can measure information without understanding what that information means.
@marduk
I think your understanding of the concept of information is narrow. I recommend www.capurro.de/inforconcept.html especially the section titled "information as an interdisciplinary concept" Also he cites Schrader who has studied 700 definitions of 'information science'.
 

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