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Consciousness and the Paranormal — Part 13

Constance

Paranormal Adept
I think one of the sticking points is the view the qualitative is in some way more than physical. That it is on another plane. And that we can assume this of subjectivity too. Consequently we might seek to explained them IN TERMS of material properties (ie classical ‘causal’ mechanics). But when you think about it, material properties are an ontological status we simply accept as physical. Why can’t we do the same with the qualitative and phenomenal? We accept the connection between QM and CM. So it is that my paper connects CM to other realms that are no less physical. The info paper is an extension of this metaphysical concept which seeks to displace the stance of properties being causal: eg material properties do not cause phenomenal properties
Hi @Pharoah. Reading through these most recent pages in the thread, I've found tonight that I can now directly link to the info/meaning paper and will read it tomorrow. As I read your post above just now, I had a sudden strong intuition that what you are doing is actually making tangible progress on the hard problem in your informed scrutiny of the early emergence of protoconsciousness in what you refer to as 'qualitative assimilation'. I'm momentarily mindblown to have suddenly sensed where you are going since I should have been able to see it before. Just wow. :)
 

Randall

J. Randall Murphy
Staff member
Going with the notion of neurons and "protoconsciousness" is in principle the same as going with the idea of a proto - ( anything made of parts ), e.g. a protoplanet is something that isn't yet a planet, but with enough extra bits, will become a planet, which is essentially a form of weak emergentism.

Whether we look closely at a single neuron, or even a few neurons in a large brain, or we look at some microorganism with only a few neurons, either way, we still can't identify where consciousness is ( or if it's there at all ). The best we can do is make assumptions based on familiar situations, like our own experiences, and then attempt to extrapolate.

It's back to the pile of bricks analogy. If you're looking at a single brick, how can you tell whether or not it's simply one of many bricks in a random pile, or whether it's a house? At what point in the construction process does the stack of bricks become a house? Is a stack of bricks a "protohouse". Can you sit inside it at the dinner table and enjoy a nice medium-rare protohouse steak? If cows eat plants, is a vegan diet in reality protocarnivorous? What about salted swordfish ( you'll have to as @Soupie about that last one ).
 
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Constance

Paranormal Adept
"Causation and Information: Where is Biological Meaning to be Found?"

By Mark Pharoah October 9, 2020 Published Papers
Published in Biosemiotics Journal here: Causation and Information: Where is Biological Meaning to be Found?

Abstract: The term ‘information’ is used extensively in biology, cognitive science and the philosophy of consciousness in relation to the concepts of ‘meaning’ and ‘causation’. While ‘information’ is a term that serves a useful purpose in specific disciplines, there is much to the concept that is problematic. Part 1 is a critique of the stance that information is an independently existing entity. On this view, and in biological contexts, systems transmit, acquire, assimilate, decode and manipulate it, and in so doing, generate meaning. I provide a detailed proposal in Part 2 that supports the claim that it is the dynamic form of a system that qualifies the informational nature of meaningful interactive engagement, that is, that information is dependent on dynamic form rather than that it exists independently. In Part 3, I reflect on the importance of the distinction between the independent and dependent stances by looking specifically at the implications for how we might better interpret causation and emergence.

Keywords: Information; Enactivism; Embodiment; Causation; Correspondence; Emergence; Semiosis; Biological meaning

Causation and Information: Where is Biological Meaning to be Found?
In relation to causation, Hume (1748) talks of a power or force that is entirely concealed from us, describing this power as ‘the secret connexion’ which induces one causal impetus to follow another in an uninterrupted succession:
We only learn the influence of our will from experience. And experience only teaches us, how one event constantly follows another, without instructing us in the secret connexion, which binds them together, and renders them inseparable. (Hume 1748, Section 7, part 1: 108)1
That the secret connexion is entirely concealed should be a cautionary note: is it not the case that the concept of information has found its way into that very role? Information has become a metaphor for this secret connexion.2 As such, it is the unseen ‘commodity’3 which connects one causal agent to the next, ensuring the determination of one event to another in an inexorable chain of informational events.4 Much of this way of thinking is implied, but Johansson (2009: 84) is explicit: ‘we can’t get any information from a system without interacting causally with it … information is a causal process’. Fresco et al. (2018: 547) provide another example: ‘functional information is a special type of causal information’. So, too, does Jablonka (2002: 582), who details the consistent causal role that she says information plays in contributing to functional, goal-oriented behaviours. From this conception, it is but a small step to have this informational commodity appear to bear a correspondence with, and to become a carrier of, meaning.5 It seems that the adoption of information as the secret connexion in causal process has, in general, underscored a creeping bias which has granted causation its volitional character in virtue of the transmission of an informational (read, ‘meaningful’) directive.6 This stance has greatly influenced thinking in the fields of biology, cognitive science and philosophy of consciousness.

I am broadly in agreement with Levy (2011) whose ‘fiction-based’ explanation concerning the application of the concept of information in biology indicates the fallacy in treating information as a concrete physical entity: ‘Informational notions have theoretical significance, but this should not lead us to reify them’ (653). Levy argues that applying an informational schema is a pretence for qualifying the causal facts.7 In this paper, I reconsider the causal–informational relation and explore in what way it makes sense to connect information with meaning. Firstly, in Part 1, I explore and critique the unqualified assumption that information is a commodity that meaningfully informs causal process. In Part 2, I defend the claim that information, in relation to biology and mental content, can make sense only in reference to any given Entity’s, Agency’s, System’s, or Observer’s (EASO) particular meaningful categorisation of interactive events, and that this ultimately depends on the EASO’s own dynamic form. In Part 3, I will indicate how these two opposing positions on information have a bearing on emergence and on the metaphysics of causation. . . ."

The link is embedded above.
 

Randall

J. Randall Murphy
Staff member
"Causation and Information: Where is Biological Meaning to be Found?" By Mark Pharoah October 9, 2020 Published Papers, Published in Biosemiotics Journal here: Causation and Information: Where is Biological Meaning to be Found?
Thanks for posting this !
Pharoah said:
It is evident that the EASO-independent view of information performs an ideological alchemy which is deeply problematic.
Yup.
Pharoah said:
Searle (2013) adopts the position that information is EASO-dependent in expressing
the view that ‘Information is only information relative to some consciousness that
assigns the informational status’.
I'm onboard with that.
Pharoah said:
But I advocate a more expansive metaphysical proposition that relates this view -
namely that information is EASO- ( Entity’s,Agency’s, System’s, or Observer’s )
dependent—to include any kind of EASO, be it mental, biological or even purely
physical. This view reflects those of Josephson who has proposed the incorporation
of meaning into fundamental physics, drawing specifically on the insights of
biosemiotics. It is also inferred by Pharoah’s hierarchical model, which proposes
distinct ontological levels of interactive discourse that might be extrapolated
into the realm of quantum mechanics.
Suddenly there's the distinct aroma of Quantum Woo in the air. This will need to be investigated further. Nevertheless, it's an interesting aside. Much reflection going on in this paper, and much to reflect upon. I will need to somehow standardise it by digitising and conceptualising it into a meaningful worldview, that is, to make it relational ( to the author ), in such a way that the author can in-turn integrate it into his worldview.
Pharoah said:
Meaningful information is a dynamic construct of any given EASO. It is expressed
through the requirement of the whole in the maintenance of a dynamic stability. In this
capacity EASOs exert their influence through meaningful action following interactive
engagement. How do we resolve this with the notion that there is upward influence?
This is a difficult question to address, but I suggest that the physical, biological and
mental operate at ontologically distinct levels of meaningful engagement. As such, they
can all operate in parallel, each effecting meaningful engagement at distinct levels. This
view implies that there is no ‘upward’ causation.
As outlined in the video I posted earlier about causation, "upward causation" is a type of linear causation. What about the idea that information resides in the non-linear dynamic of EASO's ? ( See, I really did read the paper )
 
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Randall

J. Randall Murphy
Staff member
In light of the post I made recently in A Science Minute about deep fakes, I would be remiss if I failed to point out that if computers are so good at creating lifelike imagery that we can no longer tell the difference between what is and isn't real, how do we know we're not living in a 3D deep fake?
 

blowfish

Whittingham
Netflix had a doco on former tech programmers complaining about the power the tech companies have today. Not once did any of them mention how much dosh they made selling folks data. On disclosure (shit word) instead its already been done in the 1940's and 1950's 'Flying Saucers -UFO and trendy new word UAP as Randall discussed in after the Paracast which you all need to sign up for to listen.

Not stolen -copies posted in Podcast apps which Gene has already complained about. Listening to some of the level headed shows like Dr. Randal whose never seen the Archives but keep a open mind and enjoyed Bruce interview and recommend all listen to the after the Paracast show!

The Missing 411 Hunter doco was very good and similar event occurred regarding phone and object -cloaked avatar . The Archives were held in a secret location and not accessible to every tom . dick or harry. The U.S. would have even larger subset and on a timer that once you see the data it changes you whole worldview .

In addition, during read, watching and listening to the large data top brass walked in and ask questions on the subject. The narrative of Roswell Crash being a top secret operation of crash aircraft is b.s. (Project Blue Book was a deflection and tip of the iceberg ) and glad Dr. Randal open mind. First item was never talk on the phone or online in depth on the subject and watch the next three weeks!
 
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Constance

Paranormal Adept
In light of the post I made recently in A Science Minute about deep fakes, I would be remiss if I failed to point out that if computers are so good at creating lifelike imagery that we can no longer tell the difference between what is and isn't real, how do we know we're not living in a 3D deep fake?
I don't think you ever will, Randall.
 
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Pharoah

Paranormal Adept
It seems to make sense in the video. Did you watch it? If not, then that might help. Here's the link again: 🔗
linear causality is what I say makes no sense in my paper (cf. 6:50 minutes in video re upward causation). non linear causality also makes no sense... basically it is a fudge because it’s holding onto the coattails of linear causality. It’s kinda what Kim points out in 1998, 2006 (see my paper). So start off by ditching those concepts and look for another is my suggestion
 

Randall

J. Randall Murphy
Staff member
linear causality is what I say makes no sense in my paper (cf. 6:50 minutes in video re upward causation). non linear causality also makes no sense... basically it is a fudge because it’s holding onto the coattails of linear causality. It’s kinda what Kim points out in 1998, 2006 (see my paper). So start off by ditching those concepts and look for another is my suggestion
The thing is, the situation you describe in your text appears to fit the definition of non-linear causality perfectly. For example, you say:

"Meaningful information is a dynamic construct of any given EASO. It is expressed through the requirement of the whole in the maintenance of a dynamic stability." And "EASOs exert their influence through meaningful action following interactive engagement." Here, the ideas of "dynamic stability" and "interactive engagement" are both dependent upon the idea of non-linear causality.​
( See section of video below - set to start at appropriate time )​

So I have to ask, if non-linear causality isn't the situation, what specifically about your concept separates it from non-linear causality? Also note here that your idea that non-linear causality isn't applicable because it's "holding onto the coattails of linear causality" is not an explanation. Apart from being causal concepts, the two forms of causation have very important differences. Therefore it's not appropriate to just say "ditch the concepts" without more of an explanation.
 
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Constance

Paranormal Adept
(PDF) The Structure and Dynamics Argument against Materialism (downloadable at this link)

"The Structure and Dynamics Argument against Materialism"
TORIN ALTER

NOUS 50:4 (2016) 794–815
doi: 10.1111/nous.12134

"Physical truths concern only structure and dynamics and therefore cannot fully
explain consciousness.1 That is the core idea of David Chalmers’ structure and dy-
namics argument.2 This argument plays an important role in Chalmers’ critique of
materialism, which he begins by arguing that there is an epistemic gap between the physical and phenomenal domains, based on considerations such as the conceivability of zombies and the incomplete knowledge of Mary in her black-and-white room.3 He then argues that this epistemic gap leads to an ontological gap, so that materialism is false.4 In response, some materialists (so-called type-C materialists) argue that while there is a prima facie epistemic gap that we are not currently in a position to close, it is closable in principle.5 Chalmers responds to these materialists by invoking the structure and dynamics argument.

However, the structure and dynamics argument does more than provide a re-
sponse to type-C materialists. In particular, the argument appears to serve as a sort
of foundation for a number of anti-materialist arguments, including the knowledge
argument, the conceivability argument, and the explanatory gap argument.6 But
the structure and dynamics argument is not well understood. In this paper, I will
explore and defend it. In section 1, I will discuss its nature and significance. In
section 2, I will describe some ways materialists might reject its main premises. In
section 3, I will defend it against recent objections by Daniel Stoljar (a leading
proponent of type-C materialism) concerning the notion of structure. I will close
in section 4 with a remark about where the argument might lead.7

1. The Nature and Significance of the Argument

Chalmers presents the structure and dynamics argument in a number of places, but
the definitive version appears in his 2003 article “Consciousness and its Place in
Nature”.8 As presented there, he begins with the claim that physical descriptions
characterize the world in structural-dynamic terms. He explains what this amounts
to as follows:

"A microphysical description of the world specifies a distribution of particles, fields, and waves in space and time. These basic systems are characterized by their spatiotemporal properties, and properties such as mass, charge, and quantum wavefunction state. These latter properties are ultimately defined in terms of spaces of states that have a certain abstract structure (e.g., the space of continuously varying real quantities, or of Hilbert space states), such that the states play a certain causal role with respect to other states. We can subsume spatiotemporal descriptions and descriptions in terms of properties in these formal spaces under the rubric of structural descriptions. The state of these systems can change over time in accord with dynamic principles defined over the relevant properties. The result is a description of the world in terms of its underlying spatiotemporal and formal structure, and dynamic evolution over this structure."9

Following Chalmers, though omitting some complexities to be discussed later,
we could put this by saying that structural-dynamic descriptions are those that are
analyzable in formal, spatiotemporal, and nomic terms, where the formal is the
logical and the mathematical, and the nomic is the domain of laws and causation.10 To a first approximation, we might think of the structural as the spatial and the formal, and the dynamic as the temporal and the nomic. I will return to the question of just what counts as structure and dynamics below, in section 3.

Chalmers goes on to argue that the structural-dynamic nature of physical truths
precludes them from fully explaining consciousness. He summarizes the argument’s main claims as follows:

"First: Physical descriptions of the world characterize the world in terms of structure and dynamics. Second: From truths about structure and dynamics, one can deduce only further truths about structure and dynamics. And third: Truths about consciousness are not truths about structure and dynamics.11"

What might those claims establish? . . . ."
 

Attachments

Pharoah

Paranormal Adept
The thing is, the situation you describe in your text appears to fit the definition of non-linear causality perfectly. For example, you say:

"Meaningful information is a dynamic construct of any given EASO. It is expressed through the requirement of the whole in the maintenance of a dynamic stability." And "EASOs exert their influence through meaningful action following interactive engagement." Here, the ideas of "dynamic stability" and "interactive engagement" are both dependent upon the idea of non-linear causality.​
( See section of video below - set to start at appropriate time )​

So I have to ask, if non-linear causality isn't the situation, what specifically about your concept separates it from non-linear causality? Also note here that your idea that non-linear causality isn't applicable because it's "holding onto the coattails of linear causality" is not an explanation. Apart from being causal concepts, the two forms of causation have very important differences. Therefore it's not appropriate to just say "ditch the concepts" without more of an explanation.
@Randall
Umm... It seems too obvious to me... which makes me wonder what your questioning really is about.

Have you the reference to a philosophy paper that makes a good case for "non-linear causality"?
 

Randall

J. Randall Murphy
Staff member
@Randall
Umm... It seems too obvious to me... which makes me wonder what your questioning really is about.

Have you the reference to a philosophy paper that makes a good case for "non-linear causality"?
That's a reasonable question. I'd never heard of non-linear causality before @Constance suggested that my understanding of causality was probably incomplete ( which it was - and still is ). It has turned out to be much more complex than our intuitive and everyday notion of simple cause & effect. I came across the video after reading the article in The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy on causality here:


A more in-depth look at non-linear causality might be worthwhile. Here's something: A Nonlinear Causality Estimator Based on Non-Parametric Multiplicative Regression

" Causal prediction has become a popular tool for neuroscience applications, as it allows the study of relationships between different brain areas during rest, cognitive tasks or brain disorders."​

Here's another: See Attachment - Linear and nonlinear causality between signals: methods, examples and neurophysiological applications.
 

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Randall

J. Randall Murphy
Staff member
"Physical truths concern only structure and dynamics and therefore cannot fully explain consciousness ...
The above premise was shown to be faulty by @marduk who pointed out that anything non-physical would by its nature be incapable of interacting with the physical. Therefore, because there is interaction between consciousness and our physical selves, consciousness must therefore be physical.

That being said, for the sake of argument, there may be some value in proceeding with the rest of the paper.

Continuing: After a perusal of the paper ( attached above ) it is immediately obvious that all arguments for and against physicalism hinge on premises that by their particular definitions in the context of the paper, make them coherent. However if we don't restrict ourselves to those parameters, and we understand why consciousness must be something physical, then instead of it being a binary problem ( one or the other ), we can see how it can be both at once.

In other words, both the "Epistemic Gap" and the "Ontological Gap" are possible within the larger framework of a physicalist perspective. The "Modal Gap" is another matter. It requires assumptions that by their very nature cannot be known. What this all boils down to is that the physical universe consists of both subjective and objective realities, and the differences that appear to make them separate from the universe as a whole are purely a matter of context.

Perhaps we might illustrate this by way of analogy: We might ask whether or not a home is physical or non-physical. One person might respond that it isn't the materials the home is constructed of that make it a "home", but the way that they feel about it being their residence. Another person might say completely the opposite, e.g. "It's not what I wanted, but it's the only home I've got." Another might say: "The woodwork makes me feel very much at home."

All taken together we have a combination of objective and subjective factors about a particular thing, all of which are true. That being the case, both the objective and subjective must be subsets of the larger reality, which due to the interactions between the objective and subjective, must be physical in nature. I see no way around this.

To deny this analysis requires accepting that either everything is a product of the mind ( subjective idealism ) or that the mind is just some sort of complex mechanistic illusion ( functionalism ), neither of which seem reasonable ( to me anyway ). The larger reality says it must be some some combination of both, and the only way to make that work, is if we expand our view of what constitutes the physical.

It is no longer sufficient ( and hasn't been for a long time ) to consider the physical as only that which relates to the body ( as opposed to the mind ). It is equally insufficient to think of the physical as that which may not be of the body, but is composed of some sort of material, e.g. stone wood, glass, metal, flesh, bone, etc. It is however sufficient to think of it as the following: "The general idea is that the nature of the actual world ( i.e. the universe and everything in it ) conforms to a certain condition, the condition of being physical." SOURCE

The problem with the remainder of the article cited above, is that it deals only peripherally with the reasoning for why consciousness must be physical. It does this by equating the idea of the physical with the concepts and principles of physics, which is a position that doesn't make room for subjectivity, or a number of other sciences that have a direct correlation with consciousness e.g. neuroscience.

However what physics does do is tell us that it is a science that deals with the the interactions between the fundamental constituents of the observable ( measurable ) universe. Because consciousness is measurable by our direct and indirect experiences of it, perhaps we might better define the word "physical" as anything which is material and/or can interact with the material.

Of course, then we have to define what we mean by "material", and in this case I would think it sufficient that "material" be synonymous with what we commonly think of as materials, e.g. wood, stone, glass, flesh, bone, water, solids, gasses, plasmas, etc. So traditionally something like light would not be considered to be a "material". However because it interacts with materials, e.g. glass, which can be shaped into a prism to demonstrate the interaction, light would be considered a physical phenomenon.

Take away from this what you will. I imagine there are probably others out there with similar views, and others who argue against it. Because I have yet to see any sufficiently good arguments against it, so this where I currently am planing my flag.
 
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Pharoah

Paranormal Adept
That's a reasonable question. I'd never heard of non-linear causality before @Constance suggested that my understanding of causality was probably incomplete ( which it was - and still is ). It has turned out to be much more complex than our intuitive and everyday notion of simple cause & effect. I came across the video after reading the article in The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy on causality here:


A more in-depth look at non-linear causality might be worthwhile. Here's something: A Nonlinear Causality Estimator Based on Non-Parametric Multiplicative Regression

" Causal prediction has become a popular tool for neuroscience applications, as it allows the study of relationships between different brain areas during rest, cognitive tasks or brain disorders."​

Here's another: See Attachment - Linear and nonlinear causality between signals: methods, examples and neurophysiological applications.
Those papers are not very helpful. Firstly, linear causation is the paradigm I have argued is nonsensical, which it just is. And non-linear causation is basically applied as a plug where linear causation 'doesn't quite seem to fit the bill'. But a plug that is broken doesn't help to sort out abath with a crack in it...
Also the notion of cause and effect in financial markets is very different to the metaphysics of causation and to the notion of causation in regard to life-forms. Actually, the Russian contingent at the Higher School of Economics in Moscow where I was invited to speak were very keen to advocate an interdisciplinary approach to such things as financial markets by taking account of the social and subjective aspects of human interactions with those markets. This was also the case in their approach to linguistics studies which is, typically, somewhat sterile to these elements.
 

Pharoah

Paranormal Adept
The above premise was shown to be faulty by @marduk who pointed out that anything non-physical would by its nature be incapable of interacting with the physical. Therefore, because there is interaction between consciousness and our physical selves, consciousness must therefore be physical.
I am interested in the notion of what constitutes the physical and how the notion of 'physical' might change. So... consider the idea of 'the physical' as being everything contained within a glass jar; everything that is physical must fit in it to qualify as 'physical'. From this, the idea is that consciousness must either fit in it or be outside the jar (depending on one's stance). However, I like the alternative notion that the jar is something of an illusion, or presumption, and that, ultimately, the shape and nature of the jar will alter.
 

Soupie

Paranormal Adept
That depends on whether you want to explain the existence of oranges, or the "easy problems" about oranges ( or salted swordfish :p ). Why salted swordfish?
Explaining why matter/energy exists and why oranges exist are not equivalent problems.
 


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