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Consciousness and the Paranormal — Part 13

Soupie

Paranormal Adept
What do you mean by "but not in the strong sense"?
The reason, say, that we experience the quality green when looking at an unripe berry and red at a ripe berry is bc it was adaptive for us to do so. (We could in theory, however, experience the quality blue when looking at an unripe berry and yellow when looking at a ripe berry. Or we could focus on EM waves: the qualitative colors we perceive when our nervous system interacts with various EM waves are arbitrary so far as we can tell. The qualities we experience are brute facts.)

Having said that, it would seem that the reason we qualitatively experience the millions of stimuli in our environment in the ways that we do is a product of evolution. Our qualitative experiences co-vary in a patterned way with the environment. This covariation is not veridical, but adaptive.

Where I think (think!) you and I differ—and we may differ on a lot—is that humans can have qualitative experiences in the absence of typical environmental stimuli during normal, waking consciousness. Such as in dreams, hallucinations, or in lab experiments with direct stimulation of the brain.

The structure of the brain/mind has been shaped via co-evolution with our environments, but the mind is localized to the brain.

Account for what exactly?
Qualitative experience being seemingly localized at the brain.
 

Soupie

Paranormal Adept
I'm moved to say "so what?" What is the reasoned basis for concluding from this that all the lived experiences we and others have outside artificial situations in which we are lab subjects are not 'real', do not occur, and do not have meaning?
I haven’t concluded that.

It’s quite evident that in order to solve the mbp we will need to let go of some sacred cows.

"Certainly the mind-body problem is difficult enough that we should be suspicious of attempts to solve it with the concepts and methods developed to account for very different kinds of things.

"Instead, we should expect theoretical progress in this area to require a major conceptual revolution at least as radical as relativity theory, the introduction of electromagnetic fields into physics--or the original scientific revolution itself..."

- Thomas Nagel

So far as I can tell, everyone in this discussion is seeking a natural explanation for the mb relation. We must be careful not to equate naturalism with physicalism. Or at the very least, like Randall, one must be willing to stretch the definition of physicalism way beyond what is orthodox.

Let’s explore all options and resist shutting ideas down out of fear.
 

marduk

quelling chaos since 2352BC
“We have hundreds of precise correlations between conscious experiences on the one hand and patterns of brain activity on the other. The hard problem of consciousness is this: Correlations are not a theory.
I struggle with that line of thinking.

Let's use inertia as an example. Inertia is correlated with mass and velocity. Both are relativistic. We know the faster something goes, and the more mass that something has, the more inertia it has as a correlated consequence.

By your line of thinking, that correlation wouldn't be enough to assert the relationship between the three. Which doesn't make sense to me at all. Sure, correlation isn't causation, but with enough data to support it and with no data to undermine it, you can assume it.

We would like a scientific theory that explains why conscious experiences are correlated with brain activity. Remarkably, there is no place anywhere in [the] scientific literature that can explain even one conscious experience.
We also don't have a physical description of Dark Matter or Dark Energy, but that doesn't mean both aren't there as physical things. A lack of understanding does not imply a whole new universe as a way of pushing the problem somewhere else.

Tell me the brain activity that must be or must cause the smell of vanilla, and why that brain activity could not be the taste of chocolate or the sound of a trumpet. There is nothing that’s published on that and no ideas.”

- Donald Hoffman

Oddly enough, you kind of can. That's what the whole fMRI/brain mapping stuff does: you map out the pattern of firing in the brain that correlates to thinking certain things, looking at certain things, etc. From one perspective, that firing could very well be the exact thing that is the experience.

@marduk you bring up a good point that I’ve been trying to find a way to ask @Pharoah about.

Pharoah thinks of consciousness and quality/meaning in a very particular way. That quality/meaning is dependent on an organisms relationship to the environment it co-evolved in. I certainly agree with this but not in the strong sense that I believe he does.

For example, as Marduk says, we can stimulate an individuals brain with precisely placed electrodes and induce reports of presumably real experiences of all manners of qualitative experiences—smells, tastes, etc.

So while the particular smells, tastes, sounds, etc that any particular organism can experience may be a product of evolution, these qualitative conscious experiences can be evoked with electrical stimulation in real time in the absence of environmental stimuli that these experiences typically correspond to.

How does HCT account for this?

Glad I could help!
 

Soupie

Paranormal Adept
By your line of thinking, that correlation wouldn't be enough to assert the relationship between the three. Which doesn't make sense to me at all.
There’s clearly a strong relationship. No one is denying that in this thread.

Sure, correlation isn't causation, but with enough data to support it and with no data to undermine it, you can assume it.
The strong relationship between the mind and brain may not be causal. For example, it may be one of identity.

Until we have a theory/model—mechanistic or otherwise—of how brain processes cause qualitative conscious experiences, it’s not safe to assume they do.

What is the relationship between neural interactions and qualitative experiences such as green, salty, and itchy? Other than to say there is one, we simply don’t know.
 

Constance

Paranormal Adept
Is there a problem with the Paracast system's software? I'm not getting the usual posting screen. Don't know if this post will even appear? Thanks for information or help.
 

Gene Steinberg

Forum Super Hero
Staff member
How so? We did a forum update this morning, but I don't see anything of that sort. The formatting toolbar is updated, but that shouldn't make a difference.
 

Constance

Paranormal Adept
Is there a problem with the Paracast system's software? I'm not getting the usual posting screen. Don't know if this post will even appear? Thanks for information or help.
Ok, that posted. Still no ordinary tools available. But I have a question for @marduk: why do you seem to believe that some or many of the questions we have been pursuing in this thread require the addition of "another universe" in order to be answered?
 

Constance

Paranormal Adept
How so? We did a forum update this morning, but I don't see anything of that sort. The formatting toolbar is updated, but that shouldn't make a difference.

Thanks Gene. I'm going to try to post a screenshot of how my posting screen appears at present (though it does not seem to prevent my posting, so perhaps only a glitch in my computer:

1607107327251.png
 

Gene Steinberg

Forum Super Hero
Staff member
If you mean formatting tools, Constance, please check your forum settings under your name. Not sure why this would happen to you.
 

Constance

Paranormal Adept
If you mean formatting tools, Constance, please check your forum settings under your name. Not sure why this would happen to you.
When I turned on my computer an hour ago I received a message that I did not have an internet connection, but almost immediately I did. Perhaps some loss of modem connection overnight, since resolved. Also, I guess what I'm seeing in my posting screen is the new toolbar. Is that right?
 

Randall

J. Randall Murphy
Staff member
What is the relationship between neural interactions and qualitative experiences such as green, salty, and itchy? Other than to say there is one, we simply don’t know.
I think we know more than is suggested above. Not only do we know there is a relationship, we know a lot about the particulars of it, to the point where it's more than reasonable to assert that there is a cause and effect relationship between certain numbers and configurations of neurons and certain types of subjective experiences. The mantra "correlation doesn't equal causation" has been a red herring here for far too long.
 

Pharoah

Paranormal Adept

Pharoah

Paranormal Adept
I think we know more than is suggested above. Not only do we know there is a relationship, we know a lot about the particulars of it, to the point where it's more than reasonable to assert that there is a cause and effect relationship between certain numbers and configurations of neurons and certain types of subjective experiences. The mantra "correlation doesn't equal causation" has been a red herring here for far too long.
Dark matter is known to exist because the shape of the spirals of galaxies would look different otherwise.
So we also can tweak one neurone here or there and note the sensations they elicit.
These are observables which science can look to explore in increasingly fine detail.
But the whole point of the HP/EP paper is that it claims that consciousness is a uniquely difficult question for addressing, not observables, but subjectivity itself, which has no physical essence that can be dissected with the physical scientist's scalpel.
 

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