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Consciousness and the Paranormal — Part 13

Randall

J. Randall Murphy
Staff member
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.
Not exactly. I am simply going with what you yourself have to say. I have not yet said that you are being unreasonable. I have said that you have a different way of processing information than I do.
Actually, that shoe belongs on your foot, so pls realize it and wear it.
Now it's you who are accusing me of being unreasonable. Not to worry. I recognize it as a projection reaction to your false assumption about my intentions.
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.
To validate the above, you would need to do more than make a proclamation. Of course, if you practiced anything close to the Socratic Method or critical thinking yourself, then you would know that, and you would also find more value in my approach rather than being unconstructively critical of it. Consequently, your comment carries zero weight for me. So you'll have to do better if you want to make a valid point.
Finally, as I've asked you once or twice before in this forum, do me a favor and get off my case.
All I've done is give you the opportunity to comment in your own way on the content you have posted. If you consider that as "getting on your case", then you have some communication problems you should seek some independent guidance on. Maybe this might help:

 
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Randall

J. Randall Murphy
Staff member
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.
In no way am I trying to "shut off discourse". That is a totally unsubstantiated allegation. In fact, in recent posts, I've encouraged you to tell us in your own way what it is about the paper you posted that is most interesting to you. But instead, you consistently deflect. So how about posting some commentary on what you think about the content itself rather than posting unconstructive criticism about mine.

Or, if you decide to comment on my posts, then address the content of the post rather than drawing offhanded conclusions about my intent. If you keep ignoring these suggestions, I'll just start deleting the offensive posts. After that, if you continue to be unreasonable, you'll be left with no choice other than to take your abrasive attitude someplace else. Notice I am now using the word "unreasonable" because you've clearly crossed the line.

If you do not like my posts:
  1. You do not have to read my posts.
  2. You do not have to respond to my posts.
You do not however have the option of telling other participants ( including me ) what they can and cannot post, unless it is a clear violation of the forum guidelines: Terms and rules
 
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Constance

Paranormal Adept
How about posting some commentary on what you think about the content itself rather than posting unconstructive criticism about mine. Or, if you decide to comment on my posts, then address the content of the post rather than drawing offhanded conclusions about my intent. If you keep ignoring these suggestions, I'll just start deleting the offensive posts. After that, if you continue to be unreasonable, you'll be left with no choice other than to take your abrasive attitude someplace else. Notice I am now using the word "unreasonable" because you've clearly crossed the line.

Looks like time for me to take a hiatus. Happy Holidays and a safe and satisfying New Year to All.
 

Constance

Paranormal Adept
I'm copying here my exchange last evening with Karl Sipfle and another commentator involved in the discussion of his paper, from the site that includes the paper and the still ongoing discussions of it. {note, these discussions will end in three or four days, but the whole thread of them will perhaps be maintained online with the linked paper}.

I wrote, "I would like to respond to the following paragraph from Bill Meacham's long and thoughtful post:

'You [Sipfle] make a distinction between attending and being aware, but the distinction is unclear to me. How can you attend to something without being aware of it? I understand being aware of things -- for instance sounds in the background or things in the periphery of one's vision -- without attending to them, but how can one attend to something without being aware of it?'"

I responded: It seems to me that once one becomes more aware of the ongoing flow of one's own consciousness -- that is, becomes aware of its continually reflexive and reflective qualities -- he or she begins to comprehend with a kind of shock how many things and ideas are involved in the stream of that which we continuously feel emotionally and are concerned with mentally or intellectuality. I'm interested in Bill Meacham's question "How can you attend to something without being aware of it?". I think the answer is that we are often attending to more than one thing, subject, or phenomenon at a time. It has frequently happened to me that while thinking and writing on one focused topic or subject matter I'm called away immediately from my concentration by a sentence suddenly overheard in the background sound in the room coming from an NPR broadcast or discussion being attended to by my companion. When it is a comment or point about a subject matter important to me I immediately begin to hear it and attend to it, at least briefly. What that means is that our consciousnesses are actually attending to more than we are 'aware of' in our focused attention to, concentration on a project. How much of what is sensed and constituted in our consciousnesses is absorbed as it were 'off-line' from what we are attending to in any moment or period of time? Consciousness is our essential opening to and bond with the world we exist in, erupting periodically even in dreams occurring while we are asleep. Evan Thompson's book 'Waking, Dreaming, Being: Self and Consciousness in Neuroscience, Meditation, and Philosophy' is very informative on this subject.

Karl Sipfle replied: “=== Not the answer but a subtle clue and maybe what you mean. Noticing that you have only low-energy awareness at a moment of many of the things you're holding in short term memory might lead to the leap of considering whether the feeling of awareness is actually necessary to activate attention (No).”

I replied: It’s not clear to me what you mean by “the feeling of awareness.” Can you clarify that? It does not seem to me that ‘awareness’ is a feeling, but rather a condition, a state, already active in prereflective consciousness in ourselves and other animals, the state in which we pre-thetically sense the outlines or shapes and significances of things and gestalts in the environments we explore in early life. Out of the gradual accumulation of what we sense and learn in this process (through the affordances that J.J. Smart recognized and also the curiosity and need that motivate our seeking behavior), reflective consciousness emerges and we increase our capabilities for understanding and thought regarding the nature of things and most importantly the inter-reliance of ourselves and the things that generate our 'being-in-the/a-world'.

You’ve cited Panksepp’s work in establishing the field of Affective Neuroscience, but perhaps not concentrated on what he sees as the combined grounds out of which consciousness develops, i.e., “awareness and affectivity.” I think you are correct in recognizing that ‘feeling’ is at the core, perhaps the ultimate core, of the roots of consciousness and mind. But Panksepp goes further in analyzing the emotions that characterize the behavior of our immediate forebears and that still operate within us.

Somehow, in our species and perhaps in several others, the valences of felt emotions at some point pass into reflective consciousness and we become able to look at them from a distance of some kind within ourselves. But we cannot ultimately escape the energies that are inherent in our emotions – they become incorporated into that which we are able to reflect on, think about, and judge. So I cannot follow your conclusion that feeling and thinking reveal “two separate agents at work” in consciousness and ultimately in ‘mind’, which gathers all the elements of what we think and feel in the constructions of our ideas about ourselves and the world we inhabit.

KS continued: “. . . Interestingly you even have circuits to steer your eyes toward things that do not require conscious intent, and those shiny objects thence at the visual center will then be placed into short term memory automatically.”

my response: How can we be certain that all the things and phenomena we encounter in our lived experience, the many things that draw our attention and then our intention [the vastly wide scope of which is not yet queried in neuroscience] are merely ‘mechanical’ responses to the environing world and not motivated?

KS also added: “=== One thing that is interesting about dreaming is that the cognitive can be a major mess, sometimes bordering on meaningless, yet feelings, such as that it all makes sense, persist in their familiar form. This clue alone suggests two separate agents at work.”

my response: We might not easily ‘make sense’ of all that our subconscious minds express in dream states, and certainly do not understand the sources of everything we dream. But in my experience, the dreams I still vividly remember going back to thirty years ago and continuing ‘made sense’ only because they incorporated major events of a major crisis in which I had to take my three-year-old daughter and escape the emotional and physical violence of the man I was married to. The real-life pressures and fears of that period took various forms of expressions of my continuing apprehension [in dreams in subsequent years] that I could somehow by trapped again in other situations controlled by this man and his family but in other, remote, places, in which my daughter was absent.

In the only intractable and fundamentally ‘nightmarish’ scenario, which I experienced only two years ago, I was trapped within a walled space filled with every form of human brutality and mindlessness imaginable and was continually prevented from leaving that enclosed environment every time I found a possible way out. And in this nightmare, I needed to get out: my daughter was still a child, but an older one, in that dream, and I had to escape in order to reach her and protect her. These dreams indicate the depth of significant memory we carry within our conscious and subconscious minds, and which find expression while we are asleep. In fact, we are never fully asleep, even under anaesthesia. We are the confluence of what we have felt and what we have known and grown to understand (and also, I think, some things we have not yet understood but continue to strive to understand). And we will be a long time at that work.

Sorry for the length of that description, but it evokes for me the reasons why I cannot think of what we feel and what we think as originating in two different ‘agents’. So I’ll look forward to anything further you have to say about this idea and to references to any neuroscientific research that has supported it or hopes to support it. With all good wishes in your continuing development of your metatheory, much of which I find valuable."
 
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Randall

J. Randall Murphy
Staff member
I'm copying here my exchange last evening with Karl Sipfle and another commentator involved in the discussion of his paper, from the site that includes the paper and the still ongoing discussions of it. {note, these discussions will end in three or four days, but the whole thread of them will perhaps be maintained online with the linked paper}.
Would you please post the link to that site again for our convenience?
The last link related to this took me to this ( screenshot below )

JoinAcademia-01a.jpg

I tried the Google link ( above ) but it just froze, and I don't really
want to have to join yet another forum just to read it.
Is that possible? Or is a membership required?​
 
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Constance

Paranormal Adept
Would you please post the link to that site again for our convenience?
The last link related to this took me to this ( screenshot below )

JoinAcademia-01a.jpg

I tried the Google link ( above ) but it just froze, and I don't really
want to have to join yet another forum just to read it.
Is that possible? Or is a membership required?​








I will look a few weeks back in the thread to the post I wrote that provided the online link from academia.edu to the paper itself and, to the far right, the space for comments. I saw that you recently produced a direct download link for the paper itself but that wouldn't include the comments.

You have previously indicated a preference not to have to access papers via online links but rather to have us download them and post a download link here. I don't see why you tried to access academia.edu via Google. I've posted here dozens of papers in consciousness studies from academia.edu, which is accessible without a membership or a fee. That site keeps track of what one reads and emails me links to consciousness-related new papers every few days, often including lists of papers I've already read there. That's why I was one of the regular users of academia.edu to receive an email notification to respond to the Kifle paper during a two or three week period when the commentary would be added to the accumulating remarks. As I recall I made this online event clear when I posted the academia.edu link to the Sipfel paper in case others here wanted to read the paper and the comments and perhaps enter the discussion there.
 
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Constance

Paranormal Adept







I will look a few weeks back in the thread to the post I wrote that provided the online link from academia.edu to the paper itself and, to the far right, the space for comments. I saw that you recently produced a direct download link for the paper itself but that wouldn't include the comments.

You have previously indicated a preference not to have to access papers via online links but rather to have us download them and post a download link here. I don't see why you tried to access academia.edu via Google. I've posted here dozens of papers in consciousness studies from academia.edu, which is accessible without a membership or a fee. That site keeps track of what one reads and emails me links to consciousness-related new papers every few days, often including lists of papers I've already read there. That's why I was one of the regular users of academia.edu to receive an email notification to respond to the Kifle paper during a two or three week period when the commentary would be added to the accumulating remarks. As I recall I made this online event clear when I posted the academia.edu link to the Sipfel paper in case others here wanted to read the paper and the comments and perhaps enter the discussion there.
OK, so I searched back to my first post regarding and linking at academia.edu the Sipfle paper with its opportunity for commentary, found that it occurred on November 28 in this post:


And I discovered that you must have replaced the online link with a download of the paper itself and not the comments. I will access the academia.edu link again and post it below.
 

Randall

J. Randall Murphy
Staff member
I saw that you recently produced a direct download link for the paper itself but that wouldn't include the comments.
Right
I don't see why you tried to access academia.edu via Google.
The pop-up offers Google as an option. But it didn't work for me. It never has.
I've posted here dozens of papers in consciousness studies from academia.edu, which is accessible without a membership or a fee.
I often get that membership required for access pop-up, and not all content is free or accessible without a membership. But if it works for you, that's fine. I just look for the same paper elsewhere and usually don't have the same sort of problems as on Academia.
That site keeps track of what one reads and emails me links to consciousness-related new papers every few days, often including lists of papers I've already read there. That's why I was one of the regular users of academia.edu to receive an email notification to respond to the Kifle paper during a two or three week period when the commentary would be added to the accumulating remarks.
If it works okay for you, that's good. It's not a bad site, but I already have so many site memberships, and get so many emails a day, that one more that wants me to jump through hoops to get me on their mailing list isn't something I would prefer having if it isn't necessary.
As I recall I made this online event clear when I posted the academia.edu link to the Sipfel paper in case others here wanted to read the paper and the comments and perhaps enter the discussion there.
I just hit the link you provided and got the pop-up. So it looks like it's requiring a membership before the content can be accessed, even if you don't necessarily want to participate. Anyway, not to worry. If there's no link that a non-member can use to view the content, then that's just the way it is.
 

Randall

J. Randall Murphy
Staff member
OK, so I searched back to my first post regarding and linking at academia.edu the Sipfle paper with its opportunity for commentary, found that it occurred on November 28 in this post:


And I discovered that you must have replaced the online link with a download of the paper itself and not the comments. I will access the academia.edu link again and post it below.
I didn't replace the link. It's still there in your post, and it still gives me the pop-up requiring a membership to access it. That's why I added the direct download ( In case anyone else was having the same problem ).
 

Constance

Paranormal Adept
Here is the link to the Sipfle paper and associated commentary as presented together at academia edu.

https://www.academia.edu/s/b581952915#comment_682330

Randall, if I continue here I would appreciate your not deleting links to online papers I've posted and replacing them with downloads of the papers. Why not maintain the original link and add a download link, especially in a case like this one in which I called attention to the opportunity to enter into commentary on the paper at the academia.edu site. Looking back a month or so I recall adding download links to online links since you stated that you do not like to leave the paracast site in order to read what's offered.
 

Randall

J. Randall Murphy
Staff member
Here is the link to the Sipfle paper and associated commentary as presented together at academia edu.

https://www.academia.edu/s/b581952915#comment_682330

Randall, if I continue here I would appreciate your not deleting links to online papers I've posted and replacing them with downloads of the papers.
Like I said above. I didn't delete the link. It's still on the post you linked to. I only added the direct download for the convenience of those who might want it.
Why not maintain the original link and add a download link, especially in a case like this one in which I called attention to the opportunity to enter into commentary on the paper at the academia.edu site.
That is what I did. Have another look.

ConstancePost-01a.jpg

Looking back a month or so I recall adding download links to online links since you stated that you do not like to leave the paracast site in order to read what's offered.
Yes. I noticed that. Much appreciated.
 
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Randall

J. Randall Murphy
Staff member
Trying to communicate here feels once again like more trouble than it's worth.
Like I said before, so long as it's within the rules and guidelines, you and everyone else is free to comment in whatever way is most comfortable. If you're having trouble, I started a new thread that offers suggestions:


If you have ideas on how to communicate better, feel free to post and discuss them there. If they work, we'll make them part of the forum guidelines.
 

Randall

J. Randall Murphy
Staff member
@Pharoah

This post seems to be relevant to your interest in biosemiotics. A fascinating discussion about intelligence in plants and small creatures.

 
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Soupie

Paranormal Adept
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.
I think this is a fair question.

I think biosemiotics and its “signs and signals” is important as is illustrates how “information processing” (signaling) in the brain is an abstraction for a purely biological process of neural cells interacting with one another and the natural environment.

The point Randall makes is the same that has come up time and time again. The hard problem. What makes some information processing in the brain conscious and some information processing nonconscious? Or, if one prefers, why are some neural cell activations conscious and some not? Or why does consciousness “accompany” some neural cell activations. Or how do some neural cell activations cause consciousness to strongly emerge?

The following paper outlines this question very carefully and attempts to address it.


i-consciousness and m-consciousness

Studying consciousness scientifically is difficult when the word has multiple meanings. For clarity, we begin this account by labelling two common
categories of meaning for consciousness. The first focuses on information in the brain—how it is selected, enhanced, and processed. The second is a more mysterious, extra, experiential essence that people claim accompanies the informational content. In this account, we will refer to the two as i- consciousness (i for information) and m-consciousness (m for mysterious), although we acknowledge that other researchers may use different terminology. The primary reason for using this two-part terminology is to make it as clear as possible that, in our perspective, at least some form of consciousness exists. We do not argue that consciousness is entirely an illusion or a mistaken construct. Rather, i-consciousness literally and mechanistically exists within us. Somebody is home. We can then debate whether m-consciousness, the more ethereal notion of consciousness that people intuitively believe they have, is accurate or instead is an imperfect model of i-consciousness.

Presently, the most generally accepted theory of i- consciousness is probably the global workspace theory (GW) (e.g., Baars, 1988; Dehaene, 2014; Dehaene & Changeux, 2011; van Vugt et al., 2018). In it, if you look at an object such as an apple, as the visual information is processed in a complex set of brain areas, the signals related to the apple may win an attentional competition, growing in strength and consistency. With sufficient attentional enhancement these signals may reach a threshold where they achieve “ignition”, which means that they dominate the larger, brain-spanning networks, especially net- works across the parietal and prefrontal cortex. The visual information about the apple becomes available for systems around the brain, such as speech systems that allow you to talk about the apple, motor systems that allow you to reach for it, cognitive systems that allow you to make high-level decisions about it, and memory systems that allow you to store that particular moment for possible later use. In that circumstance, the visual information about the apple has entered the global workspace and thus entered consciousness, whereas the vast majority of other information in the brain has failed to reach the global workspace and thus remained outside of consciousness. In our per- spective, though others may disagree, GW is an account of i-consciousness. It is about how select information reaches a state in which it is bundled cen- trally and can impact output systems. A global work- space is computationally buildable (Baars & Franklin, 2007) and can be studied objectively even in non- human animals performing detection tasks (e.g., van Vugt et al., 2018). One way to summarize the theory is that i-consciousness is associated with the highest levels of attentional enhancement in the cerebral cortex.

Explaining i-consciousness, however, is only part of the challenge. In a traditional perspective, in addition to the content of consciousness, we have something else, something that accompanies the information, or imbues it, or in some manner is the essence of experience. [see Randall’s concern above.] The challenge of explaining conscious- ness, in this traditional perspective, lies in explaining the extra essence—subjective awareness, or m-con- sciousness as we label it here. The idea of a distinction between the information contained in consciousness, which can be understood through materialist theories such as GW, and the extra, non-materialist property of subjective experience, emerged mainly during the twentieth century, possibly as a result of the rise of information technology. Without a well-developed concept of an information-processing machine, it is difficult to realize that the information in the mind might be different from the experiential essence of the mind. For example, William James (1890) essen- tially conflated the two, coining the term “stream of consciousness” to describe the ever-changing mental content. Even at the start of the computer revolution, when Turing (1950) wrote about whether a machine can think, he emphasized the processing of infor- mation and not whether the machine can have a sub- jective experience of that information. But within a few decades, Nagel (1974) argued that it is not enough to process information. There is a non-materi- alistic component, a “what it is like” to experience something. It is non-physical in the sense that one cannot touch it, weigh it, or snap it in half and measure its tensile strength, but Nagel argued it exists nonetheless. Chalmers (1995) refined the idea, referring to the easy problem of scientifically figuring out how the brain constructs the content of conscious- ness and the hard problem of figuring out the nature of subjective experience itself. As a result of these ideas, for the past twenty-five years, consciousness has been widely viewed as containing two parts. Whereas i-consciousness can be understood mechan- istically and can probably be replicated by machines, m-consciousness is considered difficult or impossible to explain.”

Is m-consciousness the intrinsic nature of energy/matter, is it something new that strongly emerges from energy/matter, is it an illusion, or something else altogether?

@Pharoah Im still curious how HCT handles reports of subjective experiences evoked via direct brain stimulation in the absence of normal environmental stimuli.
 
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Randall

J. Randall Murphy
Staff member
Is m-consciousness the intrinsic nature of energy/matter, is it something new that strongly emerges from energy/matter, is it an illusion, or something else altogether?
Forgive me here, but I lose track of our shortcuts. I'm assuming that when you use the phrase "m-consciousness" that you are referring to the idea of "machine consciousness", a behavior in machines such as AI systems, that mimics what we would consider to be conscious behavior, as opposed to a biological system?
 

Soupie

Paranormal Adept
Forgive me here, but I lose track of our shortcuts. I'm assuming that when you use the phrase "m-consciousness" that you are referring to the idea of "machine consciousness", a behavior in machines such as AI systems, that mimics what we would consider to be conscious behavior, as opposed to a biological system?
“In a traditional perspective, in addition to the content of consciousness, we have something else, something that accompanies the information, or imbues it, or in some manner is the essence of experience. [see Randall’s concern above.] The challenge of explaining consciousness, in this traditional perspective, lies in explaining the extra essence—subjective awareness, or m-consciousness as we label it here. The idea of a distinction between the information contained in consciousness, which can be understood through materialist theories such as GW, and the extra, non-materialist property of subjective experience, emerged mainly during the twentieth century, possibly as a result of the rise of information technology. Without a well-developed concept of an information-processing machine, it is difficult to realize that the information in the mind might be different from the experiential essence of the mind.”
 
F

Farlig Gulstein

Guest
Is m-consciousness the intrinsic nature of energy/matter, is it something new that strongly emerges from energy/matter, is it an illusion, or something else altogether?

As a theist by choice, I think I'd choose door number 4 -- something else altogether. But, I am not sure that any one of these four choices could ever be proven directly. Perhaps one or more hypotheses could be dis-proven.

I observed during a dream just before waking up this morning that I could "see" my dreamscape surroundings pretty well for a dream, and I could "see" other quite realistic dreamscape people doing various things. (It was like I was on the outlying edge of a busy carnival on a nice day about 4 in the afternoon.) But I could also personally and humanly engage and interact with these dream people. At one point, three little kids ran by me, a little girl about 7 or 8 leading the pack, a little boy about 5, and a toddler who was falling far behind the other two. In this dream, I got worried that the toddler would get lost (and worse). So out of concern for their well-being, I tried to help the kids regroup and find their parents. Then I woke up.

IMHO, whatever our m-consciousness consists of, it is the source of expression of highly abstract personal morality and personal love of truth and of fellow travelers, and not mere organization of data about the environment, even in an "artificial" dreamscape. Such real moral-emotional experiences as these, even during dreams, lead me personally to strongly distinguish between "i-consciousness" and "m-consciousness".
 

Randall

J. Randall Murphy
Staff member
“In a traditional perspective, in addition to the content of consciousness, we have something else, something that accompanies the information, or imbues it, or in some manner is the essence of experience. [see Randall’s concern above.] The challenge of explaining consciousness, in this traditional perspective, lies in explaining the extra essence—subjective awareness, or m-consciousness as we label it here.
Okay, call the guys who take away alzheimer's victims. What's the "m" for? Mind?
 

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