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Consciousness and the Paranormal — Part 13

Soupie

Paranormal Adept
This is a paper I read recently. Whether one agrees or disagrees with the authors premise he covers data and research that is very relevant and interesting. Also i find his conclusion to be compelling.


“This research is an investigation of whether consciousness—one's ongoing experience—influences one's behavior and, if so, how. Analysis of the components, structure, properties, and temporal sequences of consciousness has established that, (1) contrary to one's intuitive understanding, consciousness does not have an active, executive role in determining behavior; (2) consciousness does have a biological function; and (3) consciousness is solely information in various forms. Consciousness is associated with a flexible response mechanism (FRM) for decision-making, planning, and generally responding in nonautomatic ways. The FRM generates responses by manipulating information and, to function effectively, its data input must be restricted to task-relevant information. The properties of consciousness correspond to the various input requirements of the FRM; and when important information is missing from consciousness, functions of the FRM are adversely affected; both of which indicate that consciousness is the input data to the FRM.“

The relationship between the concepts of consciousness and information must be treated with care. However from an objective perspective, it’s hard to deny that the two concepts, consciousness and information, share many similarities.

however how the concepts of consciousness and information are related is certainly complex. The brain certainly seems to be an information processing (signaling) organ. That some of the information embodied by the brain might acquire a subjective character certainly seems plausible.

the question is then why does some information embodied by neurons have a subjective character?
 

Soupie

Paranormal Adept
I’m reading another interesting article about naturalizing intention and representation. I’ll post link ASAP.

attached is a quote from Damasio. EE9751E6-8DEF-42AD-8363-8DD0E1798F10.png
 
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USI Calgary

J. Randall Murphy
Staff member
No it doesn’t.
Unsubstantiated denials are not valid counterpoint. It is, as I've said, simply dismissive.
The hard problem exists despite the recognition that mind and body clearly interact ...
Now you've shifted the context from "a physicalist explanation" to the "mind-body problem" and linked it to the HPC, and seem to have conflated that with the issue of what constitutes the physical. We need to get past that to make progress because the logic of the situation reveals that consciousness and minds and bodies are all part of the physical. So deny it all you want, but that argument is over.
 

Soupie

Paranormal Adept
Unsubstantiated denials are not valid counterpoint. It is, as I've said, simply dismissive.

Now you've shifted the context from "a physicalist explanation" to the "mind-body problem" and linked it to the HPC, and seem to have conflated that with the issue of what constitutes the physical. We need to get past that to make progress because the logic of the situation reveals that consciousness and minds and bodies are all part of the physical. So deny it all you want, but that argument is over.
Lol

I’m not denying that consciousness is part of the physical. Im not shifting anything either. I’m merely trying to explain to you that assuming/claiming that consciousness is physical doesn’t resolve the hard problem.

As I’ve said repeatedly, claiming that consciousness is physical and THEN explaining how and why IS the hard problem.

Explaining how the mind and body are related is JUST the mind body problem.
 

Constance

Paranormal Adept
Excellent paper, @Soupie. It is rich, ramifying, and rewarding.
 

USI Calgary

J. Randall Murphy
Staff member
Lol

I’m not denying that consciousness is part of the physical. Im not shifting anything either. I’m merely trying to explain to you that assuming/claiming that consciousness is physical doesn’t resolve the hard problem.
Okay that's all fair enough.
As I’ve said repeatedly, claiming that consciousness is physical and THEN explaining how and why IS the hard problem. Explaining how the mind and body are related is JUST the mind body problem.
I contend that @marduk's logic explains why ( consciousness must be physical ). However it doesn't explain how it ( consciousness ) got here in the first place, or how it gets here now in those of us who experience it. That is a whole other conundrum, and it seems to be at the root of the HPC, which is why I've been saying from the start that it ( the HPC ) isn't really a valid "problem".

It's more like @smcder suggested some time ago, that it's sort of a philosophical koan. There is no "solution". But there is plenty of thought and discussion. I would suggest that realizing this ( the nature of the HPC as a question ), is itself advancement toward a better understanding of the subject.

Once we have that in perspective we can take all the papers that claim to have solved the HPC and all the papers that claim consciousness isn't a physical phenomenon, and throw them in the trash. That is progress here because it wipes out a major portion of the workload in sifting through all the stuff that is no longer of relevance. Unless that is, you just like spending brain power reading stuff to see where the author's mess-up. If that's your thing, who am I to argue. Enjoy it. But it won't change the outcome.
 
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Constance

Paranormal Adept
Okay that's all fair enough.

I contend that @marduk's logic explains why ( consciousness must be physical ). However it doesn't explain how it ( consciousness ) got here in the first place, or how it gets here now in those of us who experience it. That is a whole other conundrum, and it seems to be at the root of the HPC, which is why I've been saying from the start that it ( the HPC ) isn't really a valid "problem".

It's more like @smcder suggested some time ago, that it's sort of a philosophical koan. There is no "solution". But there is plenty of thought and discussion. I would suggest that realizing this ( the nature of the HPC as a question ), is itself advancement toward a better understanding of the subject.

Once we have that in perspective we can take all the papers that claim to have solved the HPC and all the papers that claim consciousness isn't a physical phenomenon, and throw them in the trash. That is progress here because it wipes out a major portion of the workload in sifting through all the stuff that is no longer of relevance. Unless that is, you just like spending brain power reading stuff to see where the author's mess-up. If that's your thing, who am I to argue. Enjoy it. But it won't change the outcome.
Have you read the Schlicht paper? Suggest you do so before you attempt to consign it and half of what we've read and contemplated here to your fire pit.
 

Constance

Paranormal Adept
"Dereifying Representation"
Farid Zahnoun

Abstract:
The notion of internal representation is without doubt one of the most central explanatory posits within mainstream cognitive science. At the same time, however, there is much controversy about how, exactly, we should conceive of internal representations. This is unsurprising, considering the fact that there are multiple notions of representation at work within cognitive science. This paper focuses on the classic, and still prominent construal of representation, on which the notion is understood as an internal, semantically evaluable content-carrying entity which can in principle be individuated and identified. I will refer to this conception as the reified notion of representation. On the reified construal, representations are conceived of as thing-like entities with thing-like properties. The paper consists of two main parts. In the first part, I want to critically assess the tenability of this reified notion of representation. I will argue that the notion is ultimately untenable as it is built on a confusion between the descriptive and the prescriptive. Representation is a socio-normative notion which loses its meaning outside a socio-normative context. In the second part, I will investigate what motivates, and continues to motivate, cognitive science theorists to adopt this incoherent conception of representation as an explanatory posit. I will distinguish five such motivations. As I'll show, crucially, these motivations do not derive from scientific practice itself, but from certain contingencies we find outside of this practice. This further presses the issue of whether the reified conception of representation is warranted as an explanatory posit.

https://www.academia.edu/37116314/Dereifying_Representation?email_work_card=abstract-read-more
 

USI Calgary

J. Randall Murphy
Staff member
Have you read the Schlicht paper? Suggest you do so before you attempt to consign it and half of what we've read and contemplated here to your fire pit.
My comments were initially sparked by this statement: "If we take a stronger stance, this aspect of the problem further undermines hopes that a satisfactory strictly physicalist explanation of the subjective experience could be ever given " which is in your post here, but can be applied to any other similar claim regardless of the author, and by @Soupie's comments on the HPC.

However if there is some other facet of the "Schlicht paper" that you think would be worthy of some deeper consideration, by all means drop a short quote about a specific claim or concept into the thread that you think is relevant. That might motivate more discussion and provide the incentive to have a closer look. If not by yours truly, maybe someone else. Apparently there are a lot of visitors, even if they don't add content to the forum.
 

Soupie

Paranormal Adept
"Dereifying Representation"
Farid Zahnoun

Abstract:
The notion of internal representation is without doubt one of the most central explanatory posits within mainstream cognitive science. At the same time, however, there is much controversy about how, exactly, we should conceive of internal representations. This is unsurprising, considering the fact that there are multiple notions of representation at work within cognitive science. This paper focuses on the classic, and still prominent construal of representation, on which the notion is understood as an internal, semantically evaluable content-carrying entity which can in principle be individuated and identified. I will refer to this conception as the reified notion of representation. On the reified construal, representations are conceived of as thing-like entities with thing-like properties. The paper consists of two main parts. In the first part, I want to critically assess the tenability of this reified notion of representation. I will argue that the notion is ultimately untenable as it is built on a confusion between the descriptive and the prescriptive. Representation is a socio-normative notion which loses its meaning outside a socio-normative context. In the second part, I will investigate what motivates, and continues to motivate, cognitive science theorists to adopt this incoherent conception of representation as an explanatory posit. I will distinguish five such motivations. As I'll show, crucially, these motivations do not derive from scientific practice itself, but from certain contingencies we find outside of this practice. This further presses the issue of whether the reified conception of representation is warranted as an explanatory posit.

https://www.academia.edu/37116314/Dereifying_Representation?email_work_card=abstract-read-more
I will read this paper with GREAT interest bc as I’ve said, I don’t know how phenomenal consciousness—particularly of the world and body—can be conceived of anything but representations, following Kant et al.

Now, I understand that naturalizing conscious, phenomenal representations, which essentially amount to a special class of information/signaling, is no easy task, and indeed may be impossible for reasons not related to the truth of this fact. (See posts related to problems involved with self reference, godel, etc.)

ive always felt that objections to conceiving of consciousness as representations of the self-world to be about semantics. I’m fascinated to see what arguments the paper makes—and more importantly, alternative ways of conceptualizing consciousness.

it strikes me as related to people who take issue with conceptualizing the brain as a computer. Which to me is also basically an argument of semantics. We shall see!
 

Constance

Paranormal Adept
My comments were initially sparked by this statement: "If we take a stronger stance, this aspect of the problem further undermines hopes that a satisfactory strictly physicalist explanation of the subjective experience could be ever given " which is in your post here, but can be applied to any other similar claim regardless of the author, and by @Soupie's comments on the HPC.
The statement I quoted from Schlicht's abstract is an invitation to prospective readers to read the paper and engage the development of Schlicht's insights and arguments. It appears that you reject the invitation and refuse to read the paper because Schlicht casts doubt on your presupposition that only 'the physical' can account for subjective experience as grounding and yielding consciousness. This puzzles me. How can you defend your presuppositional thinking if you don't entertain new challenges to it?

However if there is some other facet of the "Schlicht paper" that you think would be worthy of some deeper consideration, by all means drop a short quote about a specific claim or concept into the thread that you think is relevant. That might motivate more discussion and provide the incentive to have a closer look. If not by yours truly, maybe someone else. Apparently there are a lot of visitors, even if they don't add content to the forum.
So you want me to "drop a short quote" from another part of Schlicht's paper that you can reject without reading and comprehending the paper as a whole? How would that do justice to Schlicht's work or to the developed context of our own work in this thread over the last four years to recognize the complexities of lived experience and consciousness? If that project is not interesting to you, so be it. It is interesting to the rest of us.
 

USI Calgary

J. Randall Murphy
Staff member
The statement I quoted from Schlicht's abstract is an invitation to prospective readers to read the paper and engage the development of Schlicht's insights and arguments.
That's totally fine.
It appears that you reject the invitation and refuse to read the paper because Schlicht casts doubt on your presupposition that only 'the physical' can account for subjective experience as grounding and yielding consciousness. This puzzles me. How can you defend your presuppositional thinking if you don't entertain new challenges to it?
My comments are related to the review of: Salom, Igor (2020) Kolmogorov complexity as a smoking gun of the hard problem of consciousness. I have no idea who Schlicht is or what paper you're inviting me to read.
So you want me to "drop a short quote" from another part of Schlicht's paper that you can reject without reading and comprehending the paper as a whole?
I was asking for a quote so that I would have a reference as to what you're talking about.
How would that do justice to Schlicht's work or to the developed context of our own work in this thread over the last four years to recognize the complexities of lived experience and consciousness? If that project is not interesting to you, so be it. It is interesting to the rest of us.
I'm curious as to how anyone would perform any discussion of the ideas or claims made in a paper by referring only to the whole paper somehow simultaneously, without mentioning any of the specific ideas or claims. It seems more reasonable to begin with something like a premise or central tenet, and then discuss the various facets of the paper that support it ( but that's just me ).
 

Soupie

Paranormal Adept
Okay that's all fair enough.

I contend that @marduk's logic explains why ( consciousness must be physical ). However it doesn't explain how it ( consciousness ) got here in the first place, or how it gets here now in those of us who experience it. That is a whole other conundrum, and it seems to be at the root of the HPC, which is why I've been saying from the start that it ( the HPC ) isn't really a valid "problem".

It's more like @smcder suggested some time ago, that it's sort of a philosophical koan. There is no "solution". But there is plenty of thought and discussion. I would suggest that realizing this ( the nature of the HPC as a question ), is itself advancement toward a better understanding of the subject.

Once we have that in perspective we can take all the papers that claim to have solved the HPC and all the papers that claim consciousness isn't a physical phenomenon, and throw them in the trash. That is progress here because it wipes out a major portion of the workload in sifting through all the stuff that is no longer of relevance. Unless that is, you just like spending brain power reading stuff to see where the author's mess-up. If that's your thing, who am I to argue. Enjoy it. But it won't change the outcome.
The question of why refers to why consciousness evolved. As formulations if the hp state, all human behavior seemingly can be explained objectively. Do we need subjectivity? Why do we need it? Why did it evolve.

re throwing everything out. The hp is not a koan. Many researchers take it head on. There are those that pursue dualism. Etc.

However it may turn out that consciousness is a physical process, but in a unique way. A non emergent way. Also a way that cannot be described objectively, as with all other physical processes.

for instance, consciousness may relate to the concept of information. Information is intrinsic to systems and has objective and subjective properties. Yes, it’s not explanatory to simply say consciousness is information, but it’s something worth investigating.

interestingly, there is discussion/debate about whether information is strictly physical.
 

Soupie

Paranormal Adept
“No description or analysis of the objective nervous system, however complete, will ever by itself imply anything which is not objective.”

- Thomas Nagel
 

USI Calgary

J. Randall Murphy
Staff member
The question of why refers to why consciousness evolved. As formulations if the hp state, all human behavior seemingly can be explained objectively. Do we need subjectivity? Why do we need it? Why did it evolve.
We've been through the issue of "Why type questions" already. They're interesting to ponder but generally have no single definitive answer, the exception being purely logical problems e.g. Why do triangles form when three three straight edges are connected with three vertices? But even then one could still ask, "But why do they call that a 'triangle' instead of a trimigilibob?"

For consciousness we've already supplied more than one answer as to why, e.g. "Consciousness evolved ( assuming it did evolve ) because like most products of evolution it provides an an advantage that increases the likelihood of survival." Or maybe it's the case that there is a purposeful design to this universe, the creator of which deemed ( for whatever reason ) that consciousness should be included.
re throwing everything out. The hp is not a koan. Many researchers take it head on. There are those that pursue dualism. Etc.
Then those researchers are missing the point and nobody can explain it to them until the light bulb goes on for them. Or maybe they actually do know, but either enjoy perpetuating, or are compelled for some reason, perhaps peer or academic pressure, to perpetuate the myth that it ( the HPC ) can be "solved".
However it may turn out that consciousness is a physical process, but in a unique way. A non emergent way. Also a way that cannot be described objectively, as with all other physical processes.
As @marduk's logic appears flawless, there appears to be no question that consciousness is physical. I have not heard any convincing counterpoint to marduk's logic, but if you can think of anything, by all means, post it up. In the meantime the argument of whether or not consciousness is physical can be treated as solved, and we can move on to address your more important points.
for instance, consciousness may relate to the concept of information. Information is intrinsic to systems and has objective and subjective properties. Yes, it’s not explanatory to simply say consciousness is information, but it’s something worth investigating. Interestingly, there is discussion/debate about whether information is strictly physical.
Information implies meaning, and meaning implies a set of rules, and a set of rules implies a rule maker, and a rule maker implies at the very least, some sort of intelligence. But intelligence ≠ consciousness, so hypothetically an entire universe could be the product of a vastly powerful and intelligent entity that has no conscious experience at all. Information per se can be nothing more than the hieroglyphics of a long dead civilization on some abandoned planet where no consciousness exists. If a tree falls in the forest and .... ( you get the idea ).
 
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USI Calgary

J. Randall Murphy
Staff member
“No description or analysis of the objective nervous system, however complete, will ever by itself imply anything which is not objective.” - Thomas Nagel
That quote seems nifty, but doesn't really say anything significant, because it is in and of itself entirely self-referencing. It's like saying "All groups who never disagree that everything is as it should be will always agree that things are as they should be." There is a wider universe outside that ketchup bottle.
 
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Constance

Paranormal Adept
Soupie said:
“No description or analysis of the objective nervous system, however complete, will ever by itself imply anything which is not objective.” - Thomas Nagel

That quote seems nifty, but doesn't really say anything significant, because it is in and of itself entirely self-referencing.
As so often, Randall, your gut reaction is mistaken. Perhaps if you had read at least some of what Nagel has written, you would not miss the point of the statement @Soupie has quoted.
 

USI Calgary

J. Randall Murphy
Staff member
Does she seem a little cross eyed?


Just reading a paper is like Ms. Avatar ( above ).
Don't be like Ms. Avatar
:p
 
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Farlig Gulstein

Paranormal Maven
Personally, my views about the ground-state of consciousness and being derive from a theistic view of reality. But I thought I would post one comment that expresses my question about the meaning of the term "physicalism" as discussed at the Stanford Encyclopedia:

12.2 Hempel's dilemma
One might object that any formulation of physicalism which utilizes the theory-based conception will be either trivial or false. Carl Hempel (cf. Hempel 1969, see also Crane and Mellor 1990) provided a classic formulation of this problem: if physicalism is defined via reference to contemporary physics, then it is false — after all, who thinks that contemporary physics is complete? — but if physicalism is defined via reference to a future or ideal physics, then it is trivial — after all, who can predict what a future physics contains? Perhaps, for example, it contains even mental items. The conclusion of the dilemma is that one has no clear concept of a physical property, or at least no concept that is clear enough to do the job that philosophers of mind want the physical to play.​

This paragraph is preceded and succeeded with much more information that I have not time to able to dive into to learn adequately. But it seems to me that use of the term physicalism requires a very tight initial definition, otherwise, the arguments will indeed go round and round till everyone pukes. What the heck, modern "science" says that the universe consists of 96 percent of unknown stuff - dark matter, dark energy - that no one has yet observed, but that physical observations seem to require. Personally, I think mental reality - consciousness and being - indeed are based on actual "stuff", but that "stuff" will never be adequately examined by us humans.
 


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