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Consciousness and the Paranormal — Part 13

USI Calgary

J. Randall Murphy
Staff member
Ah, so you are standing with/upon your original presuppositions concerning the nature of reality. I had the impression from some of your posts in the latter part of Part 12 that you had recognized that materialism/physicalism/objectivism cannot account for consciousness. Okay, so be it. It seems we have nothing further to talk about then. :)
I'm sensing an absence of intersubjectivity in your impression of what I stand with/upon concerning the nature of reality. The closest I come to any such presupposition is that there is no "nature of reality". Rather, I would probably say something like, nature is reality 🌻
 

Constance

Paranormal Adept
I'm sensing an absence of intersubjectivity in your impression of what I stand with/upon concerning the nature of reality. The closest I come to any such presupposition is that there is no "nature of reality". Rather, I would probably say something like, nature is reality 🌻
Don't know what you mean by 'an absence of intersubjectivity' on my part, but I'm not sure you understand what intersubjectivity signifies within phenomenological philosophy, wherein the concept of intersubjectivity arises.

If "nature is reality," the problem remains how to account for the existence and capacities of consciousness as evolved in the experience of our species and others.

You might be better off staying with your first statement that "there is no "nature of reality".
 

USI Calgary

J. Randall Murphy
Staff member
Don't know what you mean by 'an absence of intersubjectivity' on my part, but I'm not sure you understand what intersubjectivity signifies within phenomenological philosophy, wherein the concept of intersubjectivity arises.
The context in which I used the word intersubjectivity was in keeping with the last definition I posted, which in plain terms can be thought of as mutual understanding or a meeting of the minds. It's not a criticism or personal judgement. It's just an observation of the situation. It tends to happen a lot with our text exchanges, but when you post music that you like, and I hit the like button, I feel quite confident that we've attained a significant degree of intersubjectivity 🎻 🎶
If "nature is reality," the problem remains how to account for the existence and capacities of consciousness as evolved in the experience of our species and others.
I would simply say that the existence and capacities of consciousness as evolved in the experience of our species and others is accounted for by nature, and hold all that nature has brought into existence as evidence 🌼
You might be better off staying with your first statement that "there is no "nature of reality".
I might be better off a lot of different ways. But my destiny appears to be programmed to preclude them 💻
 
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Constance

Paranormal Adept
The context in which I used the word intersubjectivity was in keeping with the last definition I posted, which in plain terms can be thought of as mutual understanding or a meeting of the minds. It's not a criticism or personal judgement. It's just an observation of the situation. It tends to happen a lot with our text exchanges, but when you post music that you like, and I hit the like button, I feel quite confident that we've attained a significant degree of intersubjectivity 🎻 🎶
The last 'definition of intersubjectivity' you posted and what you add here "in plain terms" do not cohere with the understanding of intersubjectivity developed in phenomenological philosophy and affective neuroscience, which are the sources I follow. If you read them I think you will see that intersubjectivity is deeper than 'a meeting of minds' or mutual appreciation of works of art such as music. So you and I are thinking of intersubjectivity from very different perspectives and not communicating. {Hmm, I just realized while typing the word 'communicating' that its root lies in 'community'. There are of course many types of 'communities' existing in the world today, and long before, but can we really suppose that online communities developed through digital exchanges of words and concepts share all the means by which actual lived communities are formed among people present to one another and sharing conditions of life, feeling, and thinking? Maybe this makes my point, but if not the sources to read are the ones I've linked to in earlier threads concerning the meaning of 'intersubjectivity'.}

I would simply say that the existence and capacities of consciousness as evolved in the experience of our species and others is accounted for by nature, and hold all that nature has brought into existence as evidence 🌼
I agree. The question is how and by what specific means does nature enable consciousness to take hold and develop (in the evolution of life in general and in our own contemporary communally lived experiences)? Consciousness is rooted in awareness and affectivity, which are bodily experiences before they can become reflected upon and contribute to the formation of concepts. We need to get down into that which is sensed and felt in prereflective consciousness -- prior to the development and use of languages in our species and many others. That means that we need to study semiosis, the semiotics of gestures that found communication and lead to the development of language. What's helpful in de Quincey's work is his exploration of the deeper natural influences felt subconsciously, felt about (in emotions), and informing what we think about the nature of our own reality within the larger encompassing reality into which we are born. In other words, he, like others before him, query the nature of our own sense of being within the scope of Being as a whole, whose margins lie beyond our scientific knowledge. Many researchers, including some philosophers and some scientists, recognize our need to understand the roots of our consciousnesses, which take shape and form in our subconscious minds (individually and collectively, as Jung has shown). We will never grok the nature of our own consciousnesses until we understand the influences accumulated in our individual and collective subconscious minds.

I have a lot of work to get to this weekend so I will post this now and might want to edit it later. Coming back just for a moment to your second statement above --

I would simply say that the existence and capacities of consciousness as evolved in the experience of our species and others is accounted for by nature, and hold all that nature has brought into existence as evidence
We are still on the way to discovering "all that nature has brought into existence" in us and other living species and in our philosophical and scientific ideas.
 
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USI Calgary

J. Randall Murphy
Staff member
... you and I are thinking of intersubjectivity from very different perspectives and not communicating ...
Exactly, but I still tend to like your choice in music. I also think there is even more of the kind of intersubjectivity I was referring to when people are listening to the same performance at the same time, and having been involved in music there is also a connection that can happen between musicians that goes beyond the technical and is dependent on the real-time experience of creating. That level of intersubjectivity is amazing.

So perhaps our perspectives aren't quite so far apart as you think. Can you offer a similarly common real-world example of the way that you are looking at intersubjectivity? A real world example might help me better understand your specific perspective.
I agree. The question is how and by what specific means does nature enable consciousness to take hold and develop (in the evolution of life in general and in our own contemporary communally lived experiences)? Consciousness is rooted in awareness and affectivity, which are bodily experiences before they can become reflected upon and contribute to the formation of concepts. We need to get down into that which is sensed and felt in prereflective consciousness -- prior to the development and use of languages in our species and many others. That means that we need to study semiosis, the semiotics of gestures that found communication and lead to the development of language. What's helpful in de Quincey's work is his exploration of the deeper natural influences felt subconsciously, felt about (in emotions), and informing what we think about the nature of our own reality within the larger encompassing reality into which we are born.
I think phrases like "felt subconsciously" are oxymorons.
We need to get down into that which is sensed and felt in prereflective consciousness ... We will never grok the nature of our own consciousnesses until we understand the influences accumulated in our individual and collective subconscious minds.
That sounds like a surprisingly reductive approach for someone who in the past has seemed rather critical of it.
I have a lot of work to get to this weekend so I will post this now and might want to edit it later. Coming back just for a moment to your second statement above -- We are still on the way to discovering "all that nature has brought into existence" in us and other living species and in our philosophical and scientific ideas.
Absolutely. I would also contend that it is impossible for us to discover all that nature has brought into existence. At best, we can only deduce that it is, or was out there, and then do our best to illuminate those facets of it that are most meaningful to us.
 
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Constance

Paranormal Adept
Exactly, but I still tend to like your choice in music. I also think there is even more of the kind of intersubjectivity I was referring to when people are listening to the same performance at the same time, and having been involved in music there is also a connection that can happen between musicians that goes beyond the technical and is dependent on the real-time experience of creating. That level of intersubjectivity is amazing.

So perhaps our perspectives aren't quite so far apart as you think. Can you offer a similarly common real-world example of the way that you are looking at intersubjectivity? A real world example might help me better understand your specific perspective.
Why rewrite what I said in my last post above. I'll just quote it to save time. "The question is how and by what specific means does nature enable consciousness to take hold and develop (in the evolution of life in general and in our own contemporary lived experiences)? Consciousness is rooted in awareness and affectivity, which are bodily experiences before they can become reflected upon and contribute to the formation of concepts. We need to get down into that which is sensed and felt in prereflective consciousness -- prior to the development and use of languages in our species and many others. That means that we need to study semiosis, the semiotics of gestures that found communication and lead to the development of language. What's helpful in de Quincey's work is his exploration of the deeper natural influences felt subconsciously, felt about (in emotions), and informing what we think about the nature of our own reality within the larger encompassing reality into which we are born. In other words, he, like others before him, query the nature of our own sense of being within the scope of Being as a whole, whose margins lie beyond our scientific knowledge. Many researchers, including some philosophers and some scientists, recognize our need to understand the roots of our consciousnesses, which take shape and form in our subconscious minds (individually and collectively, as Jung has shown). We will never grok the nature of our own consciousnesses until we understand the influences accumulated in our individual and collective subconscious minds.."

And I'll add for clarification that 'intersubjectivity' cannot exist without the prior development of the sense of subjectivity already reached by individuals in their pre-conscious experience. I've suggested for years now in this thread that phenomenological philosophy cannot be understood without learning the phenomenological meaning of 'prereflective, pre-thetic' consciousness accumulated in the first years of life in our species, and perhaps shorter spaces of time in other species. If you search the forum for these terms I've been using you will no doubt find dozens of extracts from and links to papers that explore and clarify these terms. Doing so will lead you to a different perspective from the one you express here:

I think phrases like "felt subconsciously" are oxymorons.
On what basis have you reached this conclusion? Or on whose recommendations do you accept the proposition that there is no subconscious mentation and no subconscious feeling developed in it and influencing what we subsequently think?

I also wrote in my last post that in order to understand consciousness "we need to get down into that which is sensed and felt in prereflective consciousness. We will never grok the nature of our own consciousnesses until we understand the influences accumulated in our individual and collective subconscious minds." To which you replied:

That sounds like a surprisingly reductive approach for someone who in the past has seemed rather critical of it.
It is anything but reductive since it adds immensely to the task of locating the ground and the roots of consciousness. If you're really not interested in doing that, why are you still here in this forum? Especially since you take the following position:

I would also contend that it is impossible for us to discover all that nature has brought into existence. At best, we can only deduce that it is, or was out there, and then do our best to illuminate those facets of it that are most meaningful to us.
Who said that we have to 'discover all that nature has brought into existence' -- i.e., produce a fully explicated 'theory of everything' -- in order to begin to comprehend the nature of how and what we think and why. To reach these understandings we need to find out enough of what "is, or was out there", as you put put, that is capable of generating the development of consciousness of the kind that we and other animals possess. That's a huge project, and even in gradually accomplishing it we need to be open to more than, in your words "illuminating those facets of it that are most meaningful to us." We need to do better than settling for what seems 'most meaningful to us' in the present partial and prejudiced state of our 'knowledge' as expressed in neuroscience. We need to discover the presence of new meanings in what we find by exploring deeper in the subconscious foundations of consciousness. And in fact, the whole concept of 'meaning' cannot, would not, exist if we lived in a world in which there was no consciousness.

l'm getting tired of this exchange and would like to put an end to it now. If you are genuinely interested in understanding the key terms and concepts I have been bringing forward from phenomenology, for goodness sake please start reading that philosophy and get a grasp of it..
 
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USI Calgary

J. Randall Murphy
Staff member
Why rewrite what I said in my last post above. I'll just quote it to save time ...
What you wrote isn't what I meant by a real-world example. It is sheer conceptualization. In contrast, people sharing a musical experience is a real-world example of a form of intersubjectivity. Whether it's relevant to the form of intersubjectivity you're working from is beside the point. If yours is substantially different, then a real-world example shouldn't be that hard for you to come-up with that doesn't involve all the conceptualization.

I would further submit that if your view of intersubjectivity is substantially different than the illustrative example I gave, then the way in which it is different should be easy to delineate. So you might start with a simple example that uses the same parameters. Let's say there is a group of people listening to a musical performance. More than one person and a common subjective experience should at least be an acceptable starting point.
On what basis have you reached this conclusion?
The very definition of subconscious precludes the possibility of any conscious "feeling" of what's taking place subconsciously, because soon as one becomes aware that something has risen from their subconscious, it is no longer a subconscious feeling. It's a conscious feeling. The two states are mutually exclusive. We could of course argue this, and we would not be the first. This Harvard article relegates the word "subconscious" to the language of lay people: Unconscious or Subconscious? - Harvard Health Blog

There is much more, including the adoption of the term "subconscious" by the New Age movement, and the abandoning of the term in favor of the word "unconscious" by psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud. According to Henri Ellenberger, author of The Discovery of the Unconscious, the subconscious is defined as "operating or existing outside of consciousness".

I'm sure you have your reasons for looking at it differently, but that doesn't necessarily mean either one of us is right or wrong. It's just that we're not on the same page with the term and its usage.
Or on whose recommendations do you accept the proposition that there is no subconscious mentation and no subconscious feeling developed in it and influencing what we subsequently think?
You assume too much there. I made no mention of accepting the proposition that there is no subconscious mentation and no subconscious feeling developed in it and influencing what we subsequently think.
I also wrote in my last post that in order to understand consciousness "we need to get down into that which is sensed and felt in prereflective consciousness. We will never grok the nature of our own consciousnesses until we understand the influences accumulated in our individual and collective subconscious minds." To which you replied: "That sounds like a surprisingly reductive approach for someone who in the past has seemed rather critical of it."

It is anything but reductive ...
Are you not breaking the problem down into what you see as its constituent parts ( prereflection, accumulated influences, collective subconscious minds ) and making the claim that we need to examine those things in order to solve the problem? Because it sure looks that way to me. You also said a few other things that are based firmly in a reductionist approach ( bold and underlines mine ) ...
That means that we need to study semiosis, the semiotics of gestures that found communication and lead to the development of language. What's helpful in de Quincey's work is his exploration of the deeper natural influences felt subconsciously, felt about (in emotions), and informing what we think about the nature of our own reality within the larger encompassing reality into which we are born. In other words, he, like others before him, query the nature of our own sense of being within the scope of Being as a whole, whose margins lie beyond our scientific knowledge. Many researchers, including some philosophers and some scientists, recognize our need to understand the roots of our consciousnesses
To summarize: Studying what leads to the development of something, looking at what exists within a larger reality, and understanding the roots of a problem, especially for science, are all reductive approaches. But don't worry, reductionism is a tried and true method of making progress. Glad you are making use of it as well as the alternatives.
Who said that we have to 'discover all that nature has brought into existence' --
I invoked all of nature's examples of consciousness in a collective sense to illustrate that it is nature that is responsible. In response, you said:
We are still on the way to discovering "all that nature has brought into existence" in us and other living species and in our philosophical and scientific ideas.
So it was you who said we are on a quest to discover all that nature has brought into existence, and in the context of my claim, that response clearly implies that until we have discovered "all that nature has brought into existence, my claim lacks some validity. However if that's not your position, then I'm glad that isn't what you implied. Curiously you also agreed with it prior to that, so at least one of us are now confused.
i.e., produce a fully explicated 'theory of everything' -- in order to begin to comprehend the nature of how and what we think and why. To reach these understandings we need to find out enough of what "is, or was out there", as you put put, that is capable of generating the development of consciousness of the kind that we and other animals possess. That's a huge project, and even in gradually accomplishing it we need to be open to more than, in your words "illuminating those facets of it that are most meaningful to us."

We need to do better than settling for what seems 'most meaningful to us' in the present partial and prejudiced state of our 'knowledge' as expressed in neuroscience. We need to discover the presence of new meanings in what we find by exploring deeper in the subconscious foundations of consciousness. And in fact, the whole concept of 'meaning' cannot, would not, exist if we lived in a world in which there was no consciousness.
I'm not really sure how to unpack everything in that last part, but I sense that you feel it's very meaningful for you, and therefore you should pursue it.
l'm getting tired of this exchange and would like to put an end to it now.
Aw, that's too bad. It is draining though. I'm not sure I know of anyone who claims these are easy discussions to have, and it's fine with me if you'd like to give it a rest.
If you are genuinely interested in understanding the key terms and concepts I have been bringing forward from phenomenology, for goodness sake please start reading that philosophy and get a grasp of it..
I'm always open to getting a better grasp of these concepts, and I was looking forward to that real-world illustration of intersubjectivity I'd asked you for. After all, since you appear to be claiming that you have a grasp of it, it shouldn't be too hard to create one. Right? How hard could it be? It should only take a couple of minutes at the most.

But tell you what: No pressure. If it's too difficult for you, or you're getting tired of this discussion, don't bother. Get outside. Breathe some fresh air, take in some race riots, or whatever other fun activities are going on wherever you are :p .
 
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Soupie

Paranormal Adept
As I’ve said in the past, one of Seth’s strength is that he has a grip on the science and philosophy of consciousness. F25018AD-A127-4C1C-B709-5A098FDBAD3C.png
 

smcder

Paranormal Adept
@Constance writes: "I've been riveted to the protests and reactions to them, especially since Monday."

I'd love to hear your thoughts. To me his is an enormous event, a global shift in "consciousness", the most important thing going on.
 

USI Calgary

J. Randall Murphy
Staff member
... This is a paper he and a colleague just published.
if you’re just wading into the MBP or HP or consciousness in general, this paper is a great place to start.
Thanks for this. From the Concluding Remarks:

"We have proposed that the science of consciousness can move toward a more​
explanatory and predictive conception of the NCC by capitalising on the​
predictive processing (PP) framework. PP holds unique promise for addressing​
challenges that a successful NCC strategy must overcome, and for linking​
candidate NCCs to key theoretical constraints shared among several prominent​
theories of consciousness. We are not aware of any other theoretical framework​
with this kind of potential for moving toward a systematic NCC."​

This sounds like a very constructive approach to applying science to area of consciousness.
 

smcder

Paranormal Adept

The opening salvo is a shot across "public science communcator" Seth's bow:

"Despite Seth’s remark, consciousness science is not getting on that well considering it cannot explain mental causation in relation to causal closure, epiphenomenalism in relation to evolution, the determination of multiple realization of correlates of consciousness, emergentism as anomalous in terms of transordinal nomology, neuropsychological identity theory as paradoxical, the hard problem of consciousness, etc., etc."
 

Constance

Paranormal Adept
@Constance writes: "I've been riveted to the protests and reactions to them, especially since Monday."

I'd love to hear your thoughts. To me his is an enormous event, a global shift in "consciousness", the most important thing going on.
I think it is a global shift in awareness and concern over the heartlessness of racism, most destructively witnessed in the U.S. Trump has taken us lower in the world's estimation than we've ever been through his own malicious actions and his blindness to human rights and humane values. I'm praying as well as hoping that Biden is elected in November. I can't imagine what four more years of Trump would bring.
 

Constance

Paranormal Adept

The opening salvo is a shot across "public science communcator" Seth's bow:

"Despite Seth’s remark, consciousness science is not getting on that well considering it cannot explain mental causation in relation to causal closure, epiphenomenalism in relation to evolution, the determination of multiple realization of correlates of consciousness, emergentism as anomalous in terms of transordinal nomology, neuropsychological identity theory as paradoxical, the hard problem of consciousness, etc., etc."
Comprehensively brilliant response, Steve. So good to see you here.
 

Constance

Paranormal Adept
Comprehensively brilliant response, Steve. So good to see you here.
I was unable to reach the link you provided above, but I search with the first two lines of the text and found it on facebook, on a page formerly unknown to me entitled "Ontologistics." I'll quote it here:


Log into Facebook | Facebook
ONTOLOGISTICS·FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 2, 2018·READING TIME: 7 MINUTES

"Some Points Against Anil Seth’s Criticism of Panpsychism"

On 1st February 2018 neuroscientist and ‘public science communicator’ Anil Seth published a disparaging article against panpsychism on his blog [1], in response to a pop article about the theory from Quartz [2].
There are quite a few problems with Seth’s polemic, some of which I have roughly noted below in this quick informal response.

– Seth’s title, “Conscious spoons, really? Pushing back against panpsychism", already betrays the fact that he is unfamiliar with the literature, basing his post on a mainstream Quartz article of the doctrine. No panpsychist would say a spoon as such had consciousness – Bruno had in the sixteenth century already forestalled this notion. Academics should know better than to criticize a theory based on a mainstream media article. As such Seth’s attack is predominantly a pushback against a Straw Man.

– Seth writes, "Nor need [panpsychism] be [taken seriously], since consciousness science is getting along just fine without it.” Two points to consider here:

1. Despite Seth’s remark, consciousness science is not getting on that well considering it cannot explain mental causation in relation to causal closure, epiphenomenalism in relation to evolution, the determination of the multiple realization of correlates of consciousness, emergentism as anomalous in terms of transordinal nomology, neuropsychological identity theory as paradoxical, the hard problem of consciousness, etc., etc. With regard to the last, Seth writes: "consciousness science has largely moved on from attempts to address the hard problem … . This is not a failure, it’s a sign of maturity.” Instead of immediately justifying that claim of maturity, Seth claims that the hard problem is based on the Conceivability Argument (which he then mischaracterizes as a prosaic fallacy). But the Conceivability Argument is only a single basis of the hard problem (others include the nature of supervenience, the consistency of upward and downward causation, etc.). Secondly, it does not explain why moving past a problem without solving it is a sign of maturity. In truth, on the contrary, not acknowledging and facing one's problems is a sign of immaturity.

2. There is an implicit assumption that panpsychism would be encompassed within the remit of ‘consciousness science’. As far as matters of mind are concerned, routes to knowledge transcend the confines of current science and are thus concerns of metaphysics. One of the reasons for believing in panpsychism is the limited nature of current science in terms of its concern for structure rather than immanence (as Russell, Whitehead, et al., wrote). If one believes mechanistic science to be the sole route to truth, one must then give up any notions of mathematical or logical truth. Seth betrays an epistemic naïvety here.

– Next Seth writes that “[in] practice, scientists researching consciousness are not spending their time (or their scarce grant money) worrying about conscious spoons, they are getting on with the job of mapping mechanistic properties…”. Not only is this a performative contradiction, it is also as encouraging as Theresa May’s bot-like trope that she is “getting on with the job” of screwing up the United Kingdom via Brexit, in spite of any logical reasons that might point to the fact that she’s committing a fundamental error by pursuing a job that can only end in failure. May and Seth use the same trope and aptly suffer the same fate. "Thinking about conscious spoons just doesn’t cut it in this [current scientific] regard”, Seth continues, mistaking metaphysics for science, and spoons for scythes.

– The next section is where Seth tries to defend the possibility of understanding mind by mechanism. He doesn't at all say how this understanding will happen, he just says that it might – by the same principle one may as well say that panpsychism, dualism, or idealism might be true even though one doesn’t know how it could be. Seth’s paragraph here is an example of ‘promissory materialism’ that contains the following sparks of mechanist hope of explaining mind (in but one single little paragraph): we must "wait and see”, the “hard problem may dissolve”, "everything may remain mysterious”, "if we can explain … perhaps we are getting somewhere”, “Such concepts can help”, and finally, again, "as we move further along this road the hard problem may lose its lustre”. Well that’s promising! Maybe there is an aether after all; maybe there are gods made of strawberries; maybe time is an evil umbrella. Continued failure of explanation of consciousness is not a good sign for your so-called ‘consciousness science’, and as such does not stand in the way of more logical explanations.

– Following all these hopes and conditionals, Seth writes, "As long as we can formulate explanatorily rich relations between physical mechanisms and phenomenological properties, and as long as these relations generate empirically testable predictions which stand up in the lab (and in the wild), we are doing just fine.” But formulating these “explanatorily rich relations” is exactly what Seth has just admitted has not been achieved! A wild Promissory Materialism is not a doctrine that is ‘doing just fine’. Only faithful acolytes could deceive themselves into such a belief – and do not doubt that such materialism is a faith position. There is no agnostic viewpoint in mind-matter doctrines. In these matters one must not commit the sin of cum hoc ergo propter hoc ("with this, therefore because of this”) – correlation does not per se imply causation (nor identity), just as the correlation of the morning opening of flowers with bird song implies no such relation. Why certain material activities correlate to mental events is the question not the answer.

– Undeterred Seth now re-awakens the old spectre of vitalism in order to argue that what was once deemed a hard problem of life was resolved through a mechanistic account. Firstly this is an argument by analogy. Thus one could just as easily pick another analogy against mechanism, where mechanism failed to explain a phenomenon, such as the double-slit experiment. So this acknowledged cliché of overcoming vitalism by mechanism has no power against panpsychism. Furthermore, as ‘being alive’ entails being sentient for a panpsychist, the claim that being alive was sufficiently explained by mechanism commits the fallacy of petitio principii (begging the question) against panpsychism: Seth assumes that much life is insentient to claim that much life is insentient.

– Integrated Information Theory (IIT) is now tackled. Seth has a lot of respect for its creators and its form, but does not like the fact that its creators (Tononi, Koch, et al.) take it to be a panpsychological theory. But fortunately for Seth, he has created his own variant that is not panpsychological, but he calls it IIT nonetheless. He should have simply renamed his mechanical theory ‘panpsychism’ and thereby resolved the whole problem by the use of redefinition.

– Now Seth deals with what he thinks is "the main problem with panpsychism. It’s not that it sounds crazy, it’s that it cannot be tested. It does not lead to any feasible programme of experimentation. Progress in scientific understanding requires experiments and testability”. Firstly, panpsychism is a metaphysical theory, not a scientific one (though it is not contrary to science, but only to scientism). In mind-matter theories we rely more on abduction (inference to best explanation) than on empirical verification (likewise in history, geology, evolution, etc.). A chef may as well say that the “main problem” with the Pythagorean theorem is that one cannot eat it. Secondly, this is not panpsychism’s “main problem” (which again betrays the fact that Seth is unfamiliar with the literature). Thirdly, experiments and testability can be done upon spatiotemporal phenomena that can be perceived. But one cannot directly perceive another’s sentience, a private phenomenon that in its essence cannot be described spatially (it would be a category mistake to ask what the shape of pain was). Seth is using the wrong tool for the job he is supposedly getting on with – one cannot determine the validity of a syllogism using a screwdriver.

I should retort with these questions: if panpsychism were true, what scientific experiments could test it and lead to a “feasible programme of experimentation”? How could we even use the scientific method to test whether an insect, plant, bacterium, or robot, were sentient? One must be aware of the limitations of one’s method. Physics, biology, mathematics, logic, metaphysics, archaeology, history, etc., all have their own tools for knowledge acquisition and so one should be wary of demanding the tools of one field for the job of another. A historian specializing in the Roman Inquisition would not get far using a scientific “programme of experimentation”.

In sum, Anil Seth shows in his blog post that he has little understanding of what panpsychism is, what its main arguments are, what its main problems are – and he displays (at least here) a very naïve epistemology. Thus he must now get on with the job of finding the right use for his wooden spoon, which he is awarded.

Peter Sjöstedt-H
(2nd February 2018; Morrab Library, Penzance)

For an example of my own advocacy of panpsychism, see my recent public article here: http://highexistence.com/panpsychism-3-reasons-why-our-world-brimming-sentience/
(Audio version: https://youtu.be/B7B_RmZQp5Q)
This Facebook Note replicated online elsewhere: http://www.philosopher.eu/texts/against-anil-seths-criticism-of-panpsychism/
———
Notes:
1. https://neurobanter.com/2018/02/01/conscious-spoons-really-pushing-back-against-panpsychism/
2. https://qz.com/1184574/the-idea-that-everything-from-spoons-to-stones-are-conscious-is-gaining-academic-credibility/[/S]
 
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Constance

Paranormal Adept
. . .I'm always open to getting a better grasp of these concepts, and I was looking forward to that real-world illustration of intersubjectivity I'd asked you for. After all, since you appear to be claiming that you have a grasp of it, it shouldn't be too hard to create one. Right? How hard could it be? It should only take a couple of minutes at the most.
I thought it was too obvious to mention. Intersubjectivity exists first in the womb, or if you prefer the nursery or the nest, in the bodily and emotional, nurturing, behaviors of the mother to which the infant responds and soon participates in. It's like a dance between mother and child. I remember giving an example of it here some time ago, an example of my baby Annie's behavior toward a new caregiver. This lovely woman told me when I picked Annie up that she had walked her around her living room patting her on the back and that Annie had likewise been patting her on the back.

But tell you what: No pressure. If it's too difficult for you, or you're getting tired of this discussion, don't bother. Get outside. Breathe some fresh air, take in some race riots, or whatever other fun activities are going on wherever you are :p .
<Snort> No pressure? Lol. There's nothing but pressure when one gets into what always becomes -- not discussion, but debate -- in interactions with you.
 
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USI Calgary

J. Randall Murphy
Staff member
I thought it was too obvious to mention. Intersubjectivity exists first in the womb, or if you prefer the nursery or the nest, in the bodily and emotional, nurturing, behaviors of the mother to which the infant responds and soon participates in. It's like a dance between mother and child. I remember giving an example of it here some time ago, an example of my baby Annie's behavior toward a new caregiver. This lovely woman told me when I picked Annie up that she had walked her around her living room patting her on the back and that Annie had likewise been patting her on the back.
That is is very heartwarming example. The connection between parents, and in particular the mother and child archetype is one that perhaps we all share on some level. This gives me some insight into your perspective. It also reveals to me that our views aren't mutually exclusive.
<Snort> No pressure? Lol. There's nothing but pressure when one gets into what always becomes -- not discussion, but debate -- in interactions with you.
Exceptions to the rules and illustration by example are time tested methods of examination and communication. It leads us toward truth, not away. But you're right. It can be draining, and there are times when I don't know when to give it a rest. I'm working on it.
 

Soupie

Paranormal Adept
This is a very helpful discussion, and I need to reread it. It gets into details that I have been exploring for the past 2 years or so. The notions of the perspectival nature of the mbp, “inside” and “outside”, intrinsic and extrinsic properties. Ontology and epistemology.

@smcder I had expressed some doubt that my view was best described as a panpsychist view, and you felt that it was. And it may be.

However panpsychism still strikes me as “dualist” in the sense that it posits two qualities: material (extension in space) and feeling/quality.

A materialist might posit that indeed there is only one thing—matter/energy—and that is extended in space, and that particular feelings/qualities somehow emerge from its interactions.

What I want to say is that there is one thing—feeling/quality—which is extended in space. And that particular feelings/qualities emerge from its interactions.

So I’m not sure if my view is better conceived of as panpsychist or idealist. Not that it ultimately matters.
 

Soupie

Paranormal Adept

The opening salvo is a shot across "public science communcator" Seth's bow:

"Despite Seth’s remark, consciousness science is not getting on that well considering it cannot explain mental causation in relation to causal closure, epiphenomenalism in relation to evolution, the determination of multiple realization of correlates of consciousness, emergentism as anomalous in terms of transordinal nomology, neuropsychological identity theory as paradoxical, the hard problem of consciousness, etc., etc."
He’s a fascinating person. I’ve been following him for a while. He’s a big time Whitehead advocate.


 


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