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Consciousness and the Paranormal — Part 13

Randall

J. Randall Murphy
Staff member
Or, in some cases, why not read the papers I post with an open mind, entertaining the information they provide for a bit, rather than immediately looking for an argument to counterpose?
Unless given a reason to do otherwise, I always begin reading a paper with an open mind. Then, if I see a problem with a claim or hypothesis, it becomes a point of discussion ( at least for me ). The alternative is for me to ignore the problem, in which case, from a critical thinking perspective, there isn't much point in bothering to read the paper in the first place.

Exceptions for this approach might be if one's reason for reading the paper is to simply add the info to one's library of resources, or to evaluate some other aspect of it, like when it includes some of the poetry you've included in the past. Then I just let it make an initial impression while avoiding any intellectual analysis. However afterwards, it's common for me to lookup other people's analysis. and that's often illuminating.
The Sipfle paper takes on the major issues in the field in an effort to resolve some of them and presents pathways in the research that can avoid the 'pitfalls' of hard and closed approaches that prevent progress in cooperative efforts to make progress in this vexed subject.
I don't see any mention in the paper of "closed approaches", or "hard approaches" so you need to clarify what you mean by those terms in the context of the paper. I could make assumptions about what you mean, but I'd rather not do that because they might be completely wrong.
 
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Soupie

Paranormal Adept
I believe I suggested that you to pick a specific section of that paper you feel is most interesting for you to discuss, but I don't recall you posting it. Sorry if I missed it. They're all numbered. Just pick a number. In the meantime here's a really simple diagram for how I organize things:

NatureFlowchart-01b.jpgIn this model, Nature is the container of everything, and everything inside that container is physical. Within this category are two sub-categories: Objects and Phenomena.

Objects include all the material stuff from subatomic particles to galaxies. Phenomena includes all the forces and other properties associated with those objects e.g. mass, charge, temperature, and whatever else may be the case, which with functioning brains includes subjectivity ( consciousness ).

So in this model we don't get phenomena in the absence of objects. For example we don't get light unless we have photons. We don't get gravity unless we have something with mass, and we don't get subjectivity without a working brain.

Phenomena are always tied in some way to some sort of object, and all objects supervene on the physical. I am not aware of there being any exception to this. But if anybody knows of one, then that could be of interest.

Related: Consciousness as a concrete physical phenomenon
As I’ve said, I’m fine with the idea that the concepts physical and natural can be used synonymously.

However, the point remains that based on our current “understanding” of nature, which we call physics, explaining how the brain causes and/or produces consciousness is a hard problem. Meaning, we don’t have any “current” laws of physics that “explain” how active physiological states of the brain cause and/or produce consciousness.

As Chalmers said, we may have to adopt new fundamental laws to “explain” how active physiological states of the brain cause and/or produce consciousness.

Of course, bc nature, it may turn out that active physiological states of the brain _don’t_ cause and/or produce consciousness. And that the relationship between mind and body is not causal.

However, it would still be _natural_ and thus if you will, physical.

The point is, new fundamental physical laws will seemingly be needed. Ergo the *hard* problem.
 

Randall

J. Randall Murphy
Staff member
As I’ve said, I’m fine with the idea that the concepts physical and natural can be used synonymously.
Okay
However, the point remains that based on our current “understanding” of nature, which we call physics, explaining how the brain causes and/or produces consciousness is a hard problem. Meaning, we don’t have any “current” laws of physics that “explain” how active physiological states of the brain cause and/or produce consciousness.
Scientific laws don't have non-trivial explanations for their cause or production. They are simply accepted as being the situation. They don't really explain "why" or "how". Instead they describe "what" and "when" e.g. what happens when mass is concentrated in a particular place, or what happens when you drop an object from a tower, or what happens when you mix two chemicals together.
As Chalmers said, we may have to adopt new fundamental laws to “explain” how active physiological states of the brain cause and/or produce consciousness.
As pointed out above, there can be no non-trivial answer to that question e.g. we can say that the "what" part of the question ( consciousness ) happens when a normally functioning brain is made of the right materials organized in the right way. Then we can go on to explain all the "whats" and "whens" about those materials and the way they are organized. In toto, those descriptions would then become the "laws" of consciousness.
Of course, bc nature, it may turn out that active physiological states of the brain _don’t_ cause and/or produce consciousness. And that the relationship between mind and body is not causal.
We're already at the point where the answer to that question is purely a matter of opinion, and the opinion that carries the greatest evidentiary weight, is the one that favors a causal relationship between certain brains and consciousness.
However, it would still be _natural_ and thus if you will, physical.
Right, at least in the way I look at the situation. A subjective idealist would completely reverse the situation, and there is no way to prove they are wrong.
The point is, new fundamental physical laws will seemingly be needed. Ergo the *hard* problem.
So the point of contention then would seem to be: What constitutes a "fundamental physical law"? As pointed out above, the fundamental forces of nature have no explanation for their existence. They are taken as a given, hence the reason they are considered fundamental.

Consequently, if we consider consciousness to be fundamental, there can be no explanation for its existence either. It must be accepted as a given, and from there the "laws" about it would be built on descriptions of "what" happens "when".
 

Constance

Paranormal Adept
Unless given a reason to do otherwise, I always begin reading a paper with an open mind. Then, if I see a problem with a claim or hypothesis, it becomes a point of discussion ( at least for me ).
So you feel that you must discuss or debate this claim with others or, failing that, with yourself? And discontinue the reading?

The alternative is for me to ignore the problem, in which case, from a critical thinking perspective, there isn't much point in bothering to read the paper in the first place.
I'm unable to see the personal value for you in this process. And I don't think it represents 'critical thinking'. Critical thinking requires continuing with the text long enough to see how the claim or hypothesis you resist is supported or clarified by the author. Certainly one would not want to recommend your process to all students, and we are all still students concerning the whole of what-is, and to the extent that we are able at present to conceive of its entire nature.
 

Randall

J. Randall Murphy
Staff member
So you feel that you must discuss or debate this claim with others or, failing that, with yourself? And discontinue the reading?
Not exactly. If I see a claim or point that seems to weaken the coherency of a position, it represents a possibility for error in the conclusions that stem from it. Therefore I examine those instances closer so as to determine whether or not that is case, and in a discussion, others are offered the opportunity to weigh-in on the issue.
I'm unable to see the personal value for you in this process.
That's because you have a different way of processing content than I do.
And I don't think it represents 'critical thinking'. Critical thinking requires continuing with the text long enough to see how the claim or hypothesis you resist is supported or clarified by the author.
Not only do I do as you suggest. I often make an attempt to cross-reference content with external sources to see how the author's view compares to others.
Certainly one would not want to recommend your process to all students, and we are all still students concerning the whole of what-is, and to the extent that we are able at present to conceive of its entire nature.
You don't seem to know and/or understand my process well enough to accurately evaluate it. But then again, neither have I asked you to. Instead, I simply read the paper and offered you the opportunity to open the dialog about it. You didn't like my suggestion to pick a specific topic among the several that were numbered in the paper, so go ahead and start in whatever way works for you.

NOTE: It's at this point that you sometimes lose your focus and drift off in some other direction. So as a reminder, the paper you wanted to bring into the discussion is attached ( again ) for your convenience. What next?
 

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Constance

Paranormal Adept
Not only do I do as you suggest. I often make an attempt to cross-reference content with external sources to see how the author's view compares to others.
The clear impression of your statement was that if you come across a hypothesis or point of view that doesn't support your thinking you find no reason to continue to "bother reading the paper." It seems obvious to me that if you don't absorb any author's fully worked out reasoning (especially in a discipline in which you are not well-read or practiced) you can't expect to comprehend it. But by all means go your way and enjoy it. :)
 

Randall

J. Randall Murphy
Staff member
The clear impression of your statement was that if you come across a hypothesis or point of view that doesn't support your thinking you find no reason to continue to "bother reading the paper."
Not exactly. It's more like if I come across content in a paper that doesn't appear to support its conclusions, then that content needs to be sorted out. Not sorting it out means that either I'm not understanding or interpreting it correctly ( which sometimes happens ), or the conclusions of the paper are faulty. Either way, the situation needs resolving before the paper's thesis can be properly understood and validated.
It seems obvious to me that if you don't absorb any author's fully worked out reasoning (especially in a discipline in which you are not well-read or practiced) you can't expect to comprehend it. But by all means go your way and enjoy it. :)
Do you want to discuss the paper or not? If so, then introduce your thoughts on it or carry on from here: Consciousness and the Paranormal — Part 13 If not, then we can carry on with this, but I'm really trying to make an effort here to accommodate whatever approach works for you. Which would you prefer?
 
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Constance

Paranormal Adept
Do you want to discuss the paper or not? If so, then introduce your thoughts on it or carry on from here: Consciousness and the Paranormal — Part 13 If not, then we can carry on with this, but I'm really trying to make an effort here to accommodate whatever approach works for you. Which would you prefer?
I offered the paper for consideration here and would like to see it read and discussed on the basis of Sipfle's metatheory as a whole, which attempts to provide a basis for further thinking and research concerning how the ontology of consciousness might be found to be accommodated within the physicalist/materialist ontology of mainstream physics. I do not want to 'lead' the discussion. Hope that's clear now. I'll go with the flow of whatever eventuates, if anything does.
 

Randall

J. Randall Murphy
Staff member
I offered the paper for consideration here and would like to see it read and discussed on the basis of Sipfle's metatheory as a whole,
As mentioned earlier, I see no way to "discuss the paper as a whole". I only see ways to discuss various elements of it in a linear fashion. Perhaps the one way the paper as whole can be referred to is that it consists of black words are on a white background. Anything else refers to specific segments rather than the whole.
I do not want to 'lead' the discussion. Hope that's clear now. I'll go with the flow of whatever eventuates, if anything does.
We already tried that and you objected to it. Consciousness and the Paranormal — Part 13

I would like to see an example of how you would make some point about the paper as a whole without referring to anything specific within it. Maybe then I will have a better understanding of the way you are looking at it.
 
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Constance

Paranormal Adept
I would like to see an example of how you would make some point about the paper as a whole without referring to anything specific within it. Maybe then I will have a better understanding of the way you are looking at it.

I’m looking at Sipfle's paper as a composite of twenty-two reasons to support his metatheory of how to proceed beyond the pitfalls that exist today in interdisciplinary research concerning the nature of consciousness. Can we please be done with this now?
 

Randall

J. Randall Murphy
Staff member
I’m looking at Sipfle's paper as a composite of twenty-two reasons to support his metatheory of how to proceed beyond the pitfalls that exist today in interdisciplinary research concerning the nature of consciousness.
Okay. Do any of those reasons stand out more for you than the others?
Can we please be done with this now?
Sure. What next?
 
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Constance

Paranormal Adept
Okay. Do any of those reasons stand out more for you than the others?
My history with you tells me that whichever ones I specify will prompt you to take a debating posture and the result will be a lengthy, suffocating, back and forth interaction on only one or two of Sipfle's theses rather an engagement with his metatheory as a whole. Not interested.
Sure. What next?
Why ask me?
 

Randall

J. Randall Murphy
Staff member
My history with you tells me that whichever ones I specify will prompt you to take a debating posture and the result will be a lengthy, suffocating, back and forth interaction on only one or two of Sipfle's theses rather an engagement with his metatheory as a whole. Not interested.
We can set aside the Socratic Method and other ways I apply Critical Thinking so that the discussion won't be so "suffocating" for you, and you can discuss the section(s) you find particularly interesting or applicable in whatever manner you want. But I'm not a mind reader, so you'll have to give me some idea, preferably by way of example, on the sort of comments you'd like see, and I will do my best to accommodate.

If you can't do that, then I and the rest of us ( if any ) are left to comment it in whatever way works for us, and I would hope that you'd respect that and make an effort to go with the flow rather than complain about it. Does that seem reasonable to you?
Why ask me?
I wanted to give you the first opportunity to introduce whatever else might be of interest to you because then you might be more motivated to discuss it, but certainly no pressure.
 
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Pharoah

Paranormal Adept
Actually in the video above at 3:30:45 Mikhail Ilyn says that he went back to Descarte's original Latin text finding that the translations were poor. He says that Descartes, living now, would find mind-body dualism a disappointing interpretation of his work. Interesting...
 

Randall

J. Randall Murphy
Staff member
Actually in the video above at 3:30:45 Mikhail Ilyn says that he went back to Descarte's original Latin text finding that the translations were poor. He says that Descartes, living now, would find mind-body dualism a disappointing interpretation of his work. Interesting...
"Thinking is not a substance. It is a mode of substance."
"All the modes of cognition are inherent in me."
" Membrane becomes a vehicle of meditation ..."

You may have been aware of this all along, but something I realized while reviewing the video you posted, is that biosemiotics doesn't require, or at least shouldn't require or assume, that consciousness is present in all cases where the "signs and signals" that the field considers relevant are present. They could simply be acting as causal agents for purely biomechanical reactions.

For example, although a blossoming flower may have properties that cause chemicals to be emitted and particular wavelengths of light to be reflected, there's no need to suppose that those things cause the experience of smell or color in the organisms that react to them.

It may be the case that the behavior associated with these "signs & signals" is entirely the result of a long chain of biomechanical cause and effect that begins with exposure to the agents responsible. But because we tend to map our own experiences onto the concept of "signs & signals", we're tempted to assume that other creatures also have similar experiences. If we give-in to this temptation, then it becomes easier to make the leap in logic that biosemiotics is in some way an explanation for consciousness, when in-fact, it may not be.

In other words, the use of the words "signs & signals" in the definition of biosemiotics, front loads the field with the assumption that there is an experiential nature to the stimuli, when in fact, we don't know in every case that there is. Grant it, as we move closer and closer to organisms like ourselves, it seems more and more reasonable to assume that other creatures are having experiences of some kind, but exactly where that line is, is another matter.
 
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Constance

Paranormal Adept
We can set aside the Socratic Method and other ways I apply Critical Thinking so that the discussion won't be so "suffocating" for you, and you can discuss the section(s) you find particularly interesting or applicable in whatever manner you want. But I'm not a mind reader, so you'll have to give me some idea, preferably by way of example, on the sort of comments you'd like see, and I will do my best to accommodate.
It's not a question of 'the sort of comments I'd like to see'. You continue to represent me as unreasonable and thesis-driven. Actually, that shoe belongs on your foot, so pls realize it and wear it. Also, I don't see your style of argument as deserving of description as an example of the Socratic Method, or (as I've said before) of critical thinking. Finally, as I've asked you once or twice before in this forum, do me a favor and get off my case.
 

Randall

J. Randall Murphy
Staff member
Thanks @Pharoah. I tried listening to/viewing the Zoom presentation in the wee hours today but for the most part encountered two audio streams running over one another. I'll try again today.
That happens to me sometimes, and the reason has been that it is playing in two separate tabs. For example if you start listening to it here, and then decide to go straight to YouTube and listen to it there, the one here doesn't always stop playing. So next time it happens, check to make sure that you don't have more than one browser or browser tab playing it at the same time.
 

Constance

Paranormal Adept
In other words, the use of the words "signs & signals" in the definition of biosemiotics, front loads the field with the assumption that there is an experiential nature to the stimuli, when in fact, we don't know in every case that there is. Grant it, as we move closer and closer to organisms like ourselves, it seems more and more reasonable to assume that other creatures are having experiences of some kind, but exactly where that line is, is another matter.
It would do us all a world of good if you would stop trying to shut off discourse on new thinking and research that you do not like the sound of by appealing to 'definitions,' as if the entirety of a methodology unfamiliar to you can be found in a definition. New research in consciousness studies continually leads to revisions of terms and definitions as our understanding of consciousness increases.

ETA, re this paragraph of yours: "It may be the case that the behavior associated with these "signs & signals" is entirely the result of a long chain of biomechanical cause and effect that begins with exposure to the agents responsible. But because we tend to map our own experiences onto the concept of "signs & signals", we're tempted to assume that other creatures also have similar experiences. If we give-in to this temptation, then it becomes easier to make the leap in logic that biosemiotics is in some way an explanation for consciousness, when in-fact, it may not be."

Remember all the times over the last 3-4 years in this forum that we have discussed the phenomenological recognition of 'prereflective', pre-thetic consciousness as experienced in the evolution of species and in the individual animal's and human's first orientations to the lived world, ecological niche, etc.?
Probably you missed all that. Biosemiotics does not attempt to 'explain' consciousness as a whole, encompassing all the levels of development and complexity understood (thus far) in philosophies of mind and biological investigations of 'affectivity' going forward in our time. Rather, it seeks to access the early sensed integration of living beings with their environment which becomes the foundation for gradual development into reflective consciousness in our species and some other animals. Read Pharoah. Read Panksepp. Read Phenomenology.
 
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