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Consciousness and the Paranormal — Part 13

Constance

Paranormal Adept
For convenience, here is the table of contents of The Character of Consciousness:

Table of Contents
Introduction
Acknowledgments

I. The Problems of Consciousness
1. Facing Up to the Problem of Consciousness
Afterword: From “Moving Forward on the Problem of Consciousness”

II. The Science of Consciousness
2. How Can We Construct a Science of Consciousness?
Afterword: First-Person Data and First-Person Science
3. What is a Neural Correlate of Consciousness?
4. On the Search for the Neural Correlate of Consciousness

III. The Metaphysics of Consciousness
5. Consciousness and its Place in Nature
6. The Two-Dimensional Argument Against Materialism
Afterword: Other Anti-Materialist Arguments
7. Conceptual Analysis and Reductive Explanation (with Frank Jackson)

IV. Concepts of Consciousness
8. The Content of Phenomenal Concepts
9. The Epistemology of Phenomenal Belief
10. Phenomenal Concepts and the Explanatory Gap

V. The Contents of Consciousness
11. The Representational Character of Experience
Afterword: The Two-Dimensional Contents of Perception
12. Perception and the Fall From Eden
13. The Matrix as Metaphysics
Afterword: Philosophical Notes

VI. The Unity of Consciousness
14. What is the Unity of Consciousness (with Tim Bayne)
Appendix: Two-Dimensional Semantics
 

Constance

Paranormal Adept
Soupie said:
"How can we explain why there is something it is like to entertain a mental image, or to experience an emotion?

Either that's the wrong type of question, or the question isn't formulated to elicit the desired response. For example, assuming an explanation were possible, how we would explain why there is something it is like to entertain a mental image or to experience an emotion is by communication. This may seem trivial or trite, but if we want an answer that speaks directly to the type of question being asked, without having to run some kind of filter that translates it into another question altogether, it is perfectly reasonable.

Thus the need to dive down deeper into what 'communication' consists of in terms of semiotics and biosemiotics, aided by MP's insights into affectivity, intersubjectivity, and gesturing as the grounds of the evolution of language in our and other species.

Probably a better type of question is a "What" type question, e.g. What explanation reveals the means by which mental imagery or emotions come to be? The problem is that if this is the real question, then it is ontological, and until we can explain existence itself, we cannot explain in any non-trivial manner the presence of anything, including consciousness, or perhaps I should say that I can't. Maybe someone else out there someplace can. If so, I wish they'd enlighten the rest of us.

Ontological questions have been expressed by our species going far back into our prehistory. Acquaintance with philosophy of mind, and particularly phenomenological philosophy of mind, will help you to see the differences between the 'ontic' and the 'ontological' and the rational relationship of physics to metaphysics. We can't have one without the other.
 

Constance

Paranormal Adept
LINK to generous extracts from The Character of Consciousness at Google Books:

The Character of Consciousness

All of the introductory chapter is available here and provides a detailed overview of the contents of the book. The second chapter is also available in its entirety. See especially beginning at page 25 in ch. 2 the section entitled "The Double Aspect Theory of Information." I'm at this point now in reading what Google Books makes available from this book. If I were more organized, I would be able to find the copy I purchased from amazon several years ago, likely still residing in unpacked boxes of books remaining from my last household move three years ago or possibly to be discovered in one of the six bookcases into which my movers randomly stacked the books from boxes they unpacked. Wish me luck. ???
 
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Randall

J. Randall Murphy
Staff member
He does speak very rapidly, the more challenging given the complexities of the issues in Consciousness Studies that he articulates.
Been through all this numerous times. No need for me to slow it down. In fact, I was playing a game of chess while listening. But I can't resist pointing out ( again ) that Chalmers also alludes to EM phenomena during his explanation. Perhaps it's his accent and style that makes it more palatable than my dry forum text :p
 
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Soupie

Paranormal Adept
Been through all this numerous times. No need for me to slow it down. In fact, I was playing a game of chess while listening. But I can't resist pointing out ( again ) that Chalmers also alludes to EM phenomena during his explanation. Perhaps it's his accent and style that makes it more palatable than my dry forum text :p
As has been discussed:

“The field theories of consciousness do not appear to have been as widely discussed as other quantum consciousness theories, such as those of Penrose, Stapp or Bohm.[17] However, David Chalmers[18] argues that quantum theories of consciousness suffer from the same weakness as more conventional theories. Just as he argues that there is no particular reason why particular macroscopic physical features in the brain should give rise to consciousness, he also thinks that there is no particular reason why a particular quantum feature, such as the EM field in the brain, should give rise to consciousness either.”

It has been noted that this thread is repetitious. It is and that’s fine. Let’s just have some self awareness.
 

Soupie

Paranormal Adept

Abstract

“How many colors are there? Quoted numbers range from ten million to a dozen. Are colors object properties? Opinions range all the way from of course they are to no, colors are just mental paint. These questions are ill-posed. We submit that the way to tackle such questions is to adopt a biological approach, based on the evolutionary past of hominins. Hunter-gatherers in tundra or savannah environments have various, mutually distinct uses for color. Color differences aid in segmenting the visual field, whereas color qualia aid in recognizing objects. Classical psychophysics targets the former, but mostly ignores the latter, whereas experimental phenomenology, for instance in color naming, is relevant for recognition. Ecological factors, not anatomical/physiological ones, limit the validity of qualia as distinguishing signs. Spectral databases for varieties of daylight and object reflectance factors allow one to model this. The two questions are really one.

A valid question that may replace both is how many distinguishing signs does color vision offer in the hominin Umwelt? The answer turns out to be about a thousand. The reason is that colors are formally not object properties but pragmatically are useful distinguishing signs.
 

Randall

J. Randall Murphy
Staff member
As has been discussed:

“The field theories of consciousness do not appear to have been as widely discussed as other quantum consciousness theories, such as those of Penrose, Stapp or Bohm.[17] However, David Chalmers[18] argues that quantum theories of consciousness suffer from the same weakness as more conventional theories. Just as he argues that there is no particular reason why particular macroscopic physical features in the brain should give rise to consciousness, he also thinks that there is no particular reason why a particular quantum feature, such as the EM field in the brain, should give rise to consciousness either.”

It has been noted that this thread is repetitious. It is and that’s fine. Let’s just have some self awareness.
And as has also been relayed numerous times, there's a difference between saying that consciousness is an EM field and likening consciousness to an EM field for the sake of illustrating a way of looking at it. In other words, it seems to have on-off states, strength, location, and effect, which in-turn implies a cause, and when we look for the root of that cause, we run up against the ontological problem, which to me, is synonymous with the HP, and we can apply the HP to virtually anything. Just substitute "C" for ( insert object or phenomenon here ).
 
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Constance

Paranormal Adept

Abstract

“How many colors are there? Quoted numbers range from ten million to a dozen. Are colors object properties? Opinions range all the way from of course they are to no, colors are just mental paint. These questions are ill-posed. We submit that the way to tackle such questions is to adopt a biological approach, based on the evolutionary past of hominins. Hunter-gatherers in tundra or savannah environments have various, mutually distinct uses for color. Color differences aid in segmenting the visual field, whereas color qualia aid in recognizing objects. Classical psychophysics targets the former, but mostly ignores the latter, whereas experimental phenomenology, for instance in color naming, is relevant for recognition. Ecological factors, not anatomical/physiological ones, limit the validity of qualia as distinguishing signs. Spectral databases for varieties of daylight and object reflectance factors allow one to model this. The two questions are really one.

A valid question that may replace both is how many distinguishing signs does color vision offer in the hominin Umwelt? The answer turns out to be about a thousand. The reason is that colors are formally not object properties but pragmatically are useful distinguishing signs.

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Randall

J. Randall Murphy
Staff member
I think those are brain waves, not em waves.
They are virtually one in the same:

"Radio waves and brain waves are both forms of electromagnetic radiation — waves of energy that travel at the speed of light. ... This activity fires thousands of neurons simultaneously at the same frequency generating a wave — but at a rate closer to 10 to 100 cycles per second."​
Although brain waves don't noticeably affect telecommunications signals, particular frequencies of carefully focused EM can cause people to experience various types of perceptual phenomena. That's the working mechanism for Persinger's God Helmet.

 
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Soupie

Paranormal Adept
They are virtually one in the same:

"Radio waves and brain waves are both forms of electromagnetic radiation — waves of energy that travel at the speed of light. ... This activity fires thousands of neurons simultaneously at the same frequency generating a wave — but at a rate closer to 10 to 100 cycles per second."​
Although brain waves don't noticeably affect telecommunications signals, particular frequencies of carefully focused EM can cause people to experience various types of perceptual phenomena. That's the working mechanism for Persinger's God Helmet.

But the em waves (photons) striking the retina don’t penetrate into ones brain. So even if an apple really IS red, what we are “seeing” is em waves reflecting off the apple, the em wave then stimulates cells in the retina, which then modulates brain waves in the brain.

But it does bring up an interesting point which I’ve tried to discuss before: if one is willing to suggest that em waves in the brain have a property of subjective color, isn’t it possible that em waves moving through outer space also have a property of subjective color?

This is what people mean when they say the matter that makes up brain is no different than any other matter.
 

Randall

J. Randall Murphy
Staff member
... But it does bring up an interesting point which I’ve tried to discuss before: if one is willing to suggest that em waves in the brain have a property of subjective color, isn’t it possible that em waves moving through outer space also have a property of subjective color? This is what people mean when they say the matter that makes up brain is no different than any other matter.
That is worthy of some consideration. The way I look at it is that it's not safe to assume that if one sort of EM phenomena carries consciousness, then all EM phenomena, including those moving freely through outer space, also carry consciousness. To illustrate this this I've often used the analogy of an electromagnet.

The only way to make that situation happen is to arrange specific kinds of materials in specific ways. Therefore it may be the case that only brains similar enough to our own will manifest consciousness. Replacing neurons with microchips could be analogous to replacing conductive wire with plastic fishing line. Superficially it might all look and hold together the same, but it just won't work.

Personally, I don't think brain waves and consciousness are of the same. I think brain waves are more like a byproduct of brain function, and that although they are directly associated with the presence or absence of consciousness, they are more like an indicator or shadow, not consciousness per se.
 
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Pharoah

Paranormal Adept
But it does bring up an interesting point which I’ve tried to discuss before: if one is willing to suggest that em waves in the brain have a property of subjective color, isn’t it possible that em waves moving through outer space also have a property of subjective color?
em waves in the brain don't have a property of subjective colour so those in space don't have them either.
Radio waves and brain waves are both forms of electromagnetic radiation — waves of energy that travel at the speed of light.
Brain waves are not a form of electromagnetic radiation I don't think. Aren't ion channel activities converted by EEG? and ion channel activity doesn't travel at the speed of light.
 

Soupie

Paranormal Adept
em waves in the brain don't have a property of subjective colour so those in space don't have them either.
The point is that if someone claims that phenomenal consciousness is a physical property of brains, they must show why it is not a physical property of other similar physical systems.

@Randall ‘s position seems to be one of strong emergence; he believes that phenomenal consciousness and mind are novel objects caused by the interaction of certain physical processes of the brain which we can’t explain.

If I follow you, @Pharoah , you don’t seem to think of phenomenal consciousness and mind as physical processes per se. You seem to equate phenomenal consciousness and mind with physical processes; however you are not an identity theorist and you reject panpsychism.


You both seem to think of consciousness and mind as something different, new, or novel from the processes we can explain with physics, but you come at it differently. (Even with strong emergence Randall would prefer to think of consciousness as physical.)

Brain waves are not a form of electromagnetic radiation I don't think. Aren't ion channel activities converted by EEG? and ion channel activity doesn't travel at the speed of light.
 
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Randall

J. Randall Murphy
Staff member
That list ( above ) has some issues. For the sake of clarification in the future, I use EM as a reference to the EM force, which which effectively covers any ambiguities and is most appropriate due to it's fundamentalness as a natural phenomenon ( as in the Wikipedia entry ) or simply as a convenience term for the general subject of the fields associated with electricity, as in the article below. In both cases these concepts are applicable to the subject of brain wave activity. Whether or not the graph itself is an EM phenomenon isn't the point, and is a purely semantic quibble.
Wikipedia: Electric fields and magnetic fields are both manifestations of the electromagnetic force, one of the four fundamental forces (or interactions) of nature.

On Chalmer's reference to Laplace's Demon: This analogy begins by assuming that the demon would have all the information necessary to predict consciousness, but for some reason it doesn't, and that is used to illustrate the idea that consciousness must be something else, presumably non-physical, that this demon knows nothing about.

The logical problem with this analogy is in the premise that the demon actually has all the information it needs to predict consciousness. Obviously it doesn't. So the real conclusion here, is not that consciousness must therefore be something non-physical, it is that the demon simply doesn't have all the information, just like we don't have all the information. We can just as easily assume that some other mythical entity ( such as God ) does have all the information, and can therefore predict with perfect accuracy the phenomenon of consciousness.
 
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Pharoah

Paranormal Adept
The point is that if someone claims that phenomenal consciousness is a physical property of brains, they must show why it is not a physical property of other similar physical systems.
It's not a property ... or rather, if one is to say it is a property, one then has to say what one means by 'property'—it's one of those loaded words that gets chucked about.

My position, to try to clarify, is that the material properties that we associate with matter are an ontologically emergent status. We think of these properties as those encapsulated by physics and the laws of physics, and which we associate with objectivity and physicalism. I indicate in my QAPEB paper that there are additional ontologically emergent statuses that, we might think of as broadening the ontological realms of physics.

I indicate, importantly, that they have their own causal nature (which ties in with my paper on causation and information). So I tie in subjectivity, consciousness and Being into physicalism but clarify the ontological status of the physical as an emergent hierarchy. This, however, does leave a gap in my consideration in understanding the problem of 'a particular Mind-in-Body': it does not address WIAMANSE (Why I am me and not someone else). That is my next paper :)
 
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Constance

Paranormal Adept
Here is a paper sent to me from academia.edu today that I think all of us can and will appreciate ...

Author's Note: Re paper The Primary Pitfalls on the Road to Understanding Consciousness:
Comments and suggestions appreciated. If you have a different view, would be good to hear what motivates it. Thank you.
Karl Sipfle, Autonomy Architect and Space Networking Expert, at NASA

To view the comments, follow this link: Join the Discussion for free ( requires sign-up ).
 

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Randall

J. Randall Murphy
Staff member
Here is a paper sent to me from academia.edu today that I think all of us can and will appreciate ...

Author's Note: Re paper The Primary Pitfalls on the Road to Understanding Consciousness:
Comments and suggestions appreciated. If you have a different view, would be good to hear what motivates it. Thank you.
Karl Sipfle, Autonomy Architect and Space Networking Expert, at NASA

To view the comments, please follow this link: Join the Discussion for free
Nice find. I'm not so sure I can get behind all the claims, but lot's of topics for discussion. Would you like to pick one of them to start with?
 

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