Documentary looks at old and new models of human consciousness |305|

#81
Hi Fliption, welcome to the forum!

I'm not quite sure I'm getting you or whether you are disagreeing with me or not. In particular I'm not getting what you mean by the bold. Could you clarify? Unfortunately your analogy didn't help me understand either.
My apologies. I had forgotten how difficult communicating about these topics can be on this medium. I'll try to do better.:) I did understand that you were not taking a position on Dennett's view. I was responding about your discussion with Alex but I also expressed my own view of Dennett's position in addition. Sorry if it was unclear.

On whether Dennett claims consciousness is an illusion, I am saying it is a semantic issue. Dennett claims that what I refer to when I refer to my consciousness is an Illusion. He redefines the word consciousness to mean something materialistic and then claims of course it exists. But my idea of consciousness, the one that creates a hard problem for materialism to resolve is an illusion to Dennett. In my analogy he redefines "a dog that speaks" as "a dog that barks" when everyone else is referring to it as "a dog that speaks english". I hope this is clearer.
 
#82
I think your back to looking at things from different perspectives... and not considering what your looking at, where your looking at it from, and what you want to understand about it etc. etc.
LOL - that sounds generally undesirable!

Here is the link in question:
http://natureinstitute.org/txt/st/mqual/ch03.htm

If you want to look at something from the point of view of equations and relationships, and it makes sense, then it makes sense from that point of view. I can't see any problem with that.
Well imagine yourself back in the time just after Newton described his laws (or even back to the time when you first learned about those laws). Wouldn't you have wondered why two bodies millions of miles apart could attract one another - regardless of the exact form of the equations? Of course, that question lead eventually to GR, but because that is also a set of equations, you end up with the same problem.

This problem is most acute when we think of some collection of neurochemicals, and electrical discharges undergoing activity that is consciousness. There seems to be an irreducible gap between consciousness and anything physical (in principle governed by equations).

I think you like to stick too close to conventional physics - you should ask yourself if conventional physics could ever explain your own vivid experiences (other than perhaps reducing them to an illusion).

David
 
#83
On whether Dennett claims consciousness is an illusion, I am saying it is a semantic issue. Dennett claims that what I refer to when I refer to my consciousness is an Illusion. He redefines the word consciousness to mean something materialistic and then claims of course it exists. But my idea of consciousness, the one that creates a hard problem for materialism to resolve is an illusion to Dennett. In my analogy he redefines "a dog that speaks" as "a dog that barks" when everyone else is referring to it as "a dog that speaks english". I hope this is clearer.
Right, and I also think that Dennett, Churchland, Blackmore, and some others are playing a sort of game - dancing around subtly shifting position so that nobody can pin them down on what exactly they do mean! Why did Dennett entitle his TED lecture, "The Illusion of Consciousness", only to backtrack a bit from that concept? It just helps to prevent his ideas being exposed as stupid. He is very good at that game, and maybe he isn't fully aware of what he is doing.

David
 
#84
On whether Dennett claims consciousness is an illusion, I am saying it is a semantic issue. Dennett claims that what I refer to when I refer to my consciousness is an Illusion. He redefines the word consciousness to mean something materialistic and then claims of course it exists. But my idea of consciousness, the one that creates a hard problem for materialism to resolve is an illusion to Dennett. In my analogy he redefines "a dog that speaks" as "a dog that barks" when everyone else is referring to it as "a dog that speaks english". I hope this is clearer.
Maybe its better to move from analogy to specifics. Here is how Dennett describes consciousness:

So let's take a brief tour of the phenomenological garden, just to satisfy ourselves that we know what we are talking about (even if we don't yet know the ultimate nature of these things). It will be a deliberately superficial introductory tour, a matter of pointing and saying a few informative words, and raising a few questions, before we get down to serious theorizing in the rest of the book. Since I will soon be mounting radical challenges to everyday thinking, I wouldn't want anyone to think I was simply ignorant of all the wonderful things that inhabit other people's minds.
Our phenom is divided into three parts: (1) experiences of the "external" world, such as sights, sounds, smells, slippery and scratchy feelings, feelings of heat and cold, and of the positions of our limbs;
(2) experiences of the purely "internal' world, such as fantasy images, the inner sights and sounds of daydreaming and talking to yourself, recollections, bright ideas, and sudden hunches; and
(3) experiences of emotion or "affect" (to use the awkward term favored by psychologists), ranging from bodily pains, tickles, and "sensations" of hunger and thirst, through intermediate emotional storms of anger, joy, hatred, embarrassment, lust, astonishment, to the least corporeal visitations of pride, anxiety, regret, ironic detachment, rue, awe, icy calm.​

Basically it comes down to subjective experience. How does that differ from what you mean by consciousness?
 
S

Sciborg_S_Patel

#85
Lol... wind bags the pair...
Come on now, we may have gone off topic a bit but Arouet and I weren't that bad. :eek:;)
Right, and I also think that Dennett, Churchland, Blackmore, and some others are playing a sort of game - dancing around subtly shifting position so that nobody can pin them down on what exactly they do mean! Why did Dennett entitle his TED lecture, "The Illusion of Consciousness", only to backtrack a bit from that concept? It just helps to prevent his ideas being exposed as stupid. He is very good at that game, and maybe he isn't fully aware of what he is doing.

David
Dennet studied under Ryle, who was a behaviorist. I think there's a class of people who hoped against hope that everything could be described as a machine.

But behaviorism - the idea there are no internal states, only external reports count - ended in embarrassing failure* after - IIRC - Chomsky exposed how worthless the idea was. Since then you see people trying to rescue it but when exposed, as honest materialists like Rosenberg do, one realizes how the claim that materialism must be true is far more extraordinary than any claim about Psi, UFOs, etc.

I mean here's a sample of things that would have be true if materialism is true:

You have no thoughts, even if you think you do:

Perhaps the most profound illusion introspection foists on us is the notion that our thoughts are actually recorded anywhere in the brain at all in the form introspection reports. This has to be the profoundest illusion of all, because neuroscience has been able to show that networks of human brain cells are no more capable of representing facts about the world the way conscious introspection reports than are the neural ganglia of sea slugs! The real challenge for neuroscience is to explain how the brain stores information when it can’t do so in anything like the way introspection tells us it does—in sentences made up in a language of thought.
No such thing as history:

Since, as science can show, Darwin’s solution is the only one possible in biology, it must be the only one possible in social science. Almost everything in human affairs has a function—either for everybody, or for some favored class of people, or for a group, an institution that people participate in; or else it is something like religions, which survive by “creating” and adaptation to niches composed of people and their beliefs. If almost everything of interest that has come about in human history and human life has functions or components with functions, then it would be yet another coincidence if this feature–in which everything human shares–was not systematically related to the mechanisms that brought it about and/or keeps it in business. Once purposes are ruled out of nature—biological, social, psychological–there is only one way that something’s functions can bring it about or maintain it, or explain its changes over time: the process that Darwin discovered–blind variation and environmental filtration. And that is a process in which arms races, and the reflexive, nested instability they entrain, makes human sciences only a little less myopic than the history that has been familiar to us since Thucydides.

So much for the meaning of history, and everything else we care about.
For a less insane take, the immaterialist neuroscientist Tallis - see my first post in this thread - gives us a much better picture of what reality is like. Remember, this guy is still an atheist and doesn't believe in the afterlife but he still gets materialism is nonsensical.

*Behaviorism's literally the stuff of jokes -

"It was good for you, how was it for me?"
-Two behaviorists after having sex

For a more serious criticism, see Bruce Goldberg's Are Human Beings Mechanisms?
 
S

Sciborg_S_Patel

#86
Question for other forum members - Who would you have invited to be in the interview?

What perspectives do you think were missed or might have been given more depth?
 
#87
LOL - that sounds generally undesirable!

Here is the link in question:
http://natureinstitute.org/txt/st/mqual/ch03.htm


Well imagine yourself back in the time just after Newton described his laws (or even back to the time when you first learned about those laws). Wouldn't you have wondered why two bodies millions of miles apart could attract one another - regardless of the exact form of the equations? Of course, that question lead eventually to GR, but because that is also a set of equations, you end up with the same problem.

This problem is most acute when we think of some collection of neurochemicals, and electrical discharges undergoing activity that is consciousness. There seems to be an irreducible gap between consciousness and anything physical (in principle governed by equations).

I think you like to stick too close to conventional physics - you should ask yourself if conventional physics could ever explain your own vivid experiences (other than perhaps reducing them to an illusion).

David
Well you've just repeated yourself... and ignored what I said. You're back to comparing different perspectives...

Say... The spatial relationship between the circumference of a circle and it's diameter vs 'the meaning of getting wet in the rain'. And then claiming one perspective is better than the other, because you can't understand how the former can be divided into the latter.

But, if you want to work out how much paint to buy to decorate your cast iron downpipes, the former seems quite useful when applied from a very specific and appropriate perspective. And in time, maintaining your properties downpipes might avoid you having an unpleasant damp experience.
 
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#88
Well you've just repeated yourself... and ignored what I said. You're back to comparing different perspectives...

Say... The spatial relationship between the circumference of a circle and it's diameter vs 'the meaning of getting wet in the rain'. And then claiming one perspective is better than the other, because you can't understand how the latter can be divided into the former.

But, if you want to work out how much paint to buy to decorate your cast iron downpipes, the former seems quite useful when applied from a very specific and appropriate perspective. And in time, maintaining your properties downpipes might avoid you having an unpleasant damp experience.
I don't doubt that Talbott recognises the value of equations - and I certainly do. That is not the point, which is whether you can (even in principle) completely capture anything in terms of equations. You obviously don't completely capture those problems completely by those calculations, because paint sometimes runs or gets spilled, and also only comes in certain sized tins..... The true nature of getting wet is vastly more complex still - evaporation causing cold, fungus, rust, etc.

It is normal to assume that all these aspects could be captured by equations if we could only be bothered (and had the relevant equations), but Talbott doubts that.

I suggest you read Talbott's piece and then discuss what he is saying.

David
 
#90
I don't doubt that Talbott recognises the value of equations - and I certainly do. That is not the point, which is whether you can (even in principle) completely capture anything in terms of equations. You obviously don't completely capture those problems completely by those calculations, because paint sometimes runs or gets spilled, and also only comes in certain sized tins..... The true nature of getting wet is vastly more complex still - evaporation causing cold, fungus, rust, etc.

It is normal to assume that all these aspects could be captured by equations if we could only be bothered (and had the relevant equations), but Talbott doubts that.

I suggest you read Talbott's piece and then discuss what he is saying.

David
I read the first and last para, and realised Talbott was a total numpty for protesting about something so obvious...

It's a crappy waste of effort to deliberately choose two perspectives which are so different that you can't find any way to understand them in terms of the other. Then claim that this shows that one perspective is better than the other. Each perspective may be appropriate and useful to my understanding in its own particular way.

You might as well go down to your local art museum and lie underneath a sculpture, so that you can experience a particularly different perspective which then allows you can claim you don't see what all the fuss is about, and disagree with everybody who says they like something about the sculpture.

You can add Talbott to the list for the knackers yard...
 
#91
I read the first and last para, and realised Talbott was a total numpty for protesting about something so obvious...

It's a crappy waste of effort to deliberately choose two perspectives which are so different that you can't find any way to understand them in terms of the other. Then claim that this shows that one perspective is better than the other. Each perspective may be appropriate and useful to my understanding in its own particular way.

You might as well go down to your local art museum and lie underneath a sculpture, so that you can experience a particularly different perspective which then allows you can claim you don't see what all the fuss is about, and disagree with everybody who says they like something about the sculpture.

You can add Talbott to the list for the knackers yard...
I love how you can read two paragraphs of someone's work and then totally write them off forever. You're like the new Saiko! Welcome.
 
#92
Perhaps the "illusion" is in considering that "consciousness" is a single "thing". Ponder the difficulty we have when we try to define it and describe "it" as such.
 
S

Sciborg_S_Patel

#93
I think Max_B was referring to Searle and Churchland!

David
Oh yeah, just trying to throw a bit of humor into the discussion. :)

Still curious about this (and also hoping to make up for my long tangent):

Question for other forum members - Who would you have invited to be in the interview?

What perspectives do you think were missed or might have been given more depth?
For myself I'd replace the non-neuroscientist materialists - which I think are worthless contributions with a neuroscientist there. Maybe keep one, in which case Churchland might be the best one since she's been honest that her ideas might lead to a world where the State has control over minds.

“I think the more we know about these things, the more we’ll be able to make reasonable decisions,” Pat says. “Suppose someone is a genetic mutant who has a bad upbringing: we know that the probability of his being self-destructively violent goes way, way up above the normal. How do we treat such people? Do we wait until they actually do something horrendous or is some kind of prevention in order? Should all male children be screened for such mutations and the parents informed so that they will be especially responsible with regard to how these children are brought up?”

“Why not?” Paul says. “I guess they could be stigmatized.”
Yeah, I guess that might be of an overreach on the part of the State as well....just maybe....

“This just reminded me. He had wild, libertarian views. The story concerned how you treated people who were convicted by criminal trials. Either you could undergo a psychological readjustment that would fix you or, because you can’t force that on people, you could go and live in a community that was something like the size of Arizona, behind walls that were thirty feet high, filled with people like you who had refused the operation. The story was about somebody who chose to go in. What annoyed me about it—and it would annoy you, too, I think—was that Heinlein was plainly on the side of the guy who had refused to have his brain returned to normal. He tells this glorious story about how this guy managed to triumph over all sorts of adverse conditions in this perfectly awful state of nature.”

Paul stops to think about this for a moment.

“You and I have a confidence that most people lack,” he says to Pat. “We think we can continue to be liberals and still move this forward.”

I’m not so sure,” Pat says.
As for new guests:

Having Raymond Tallis would be great, because then you have a non-materialist neuroscientist as well.

For philosophers, I think they're mostly valuable if they're telling us something we're not getting from scientists. So maybe Gregg Rosenberg or Freya Matthews, since both are pan-consciousness people who explain a reason for consciousness, that it can solve problems besides the Hard Problem.

Lee Smolin would be good, since his ideas about consciousness and time are still nascent in the physics community. Another physicist like Fuchs might've been interesting, given his view that human beings and their lives add something new to the physical nature of the universe.
 
#94
Perhaps the "illusion" is in considering that "consciousness" is a single "thing". Ponder the difficulty we have when we try to define it and describe "it" as such.
So would you like to propose a split, and define the various sub-consciousnesses. Since they would presumably talk to each other, you would also have to define the various interfaces!

David
 
#95
So would you like to propose a split, and define the various sub-consciousnesses. Since they would presumably talk to each other, you would also have to define the various interfaces!

David
Proposing a "split" would imply a single thing to start with. You are stuck in a paradigm ;)
 
#97
Come on - I was trying to give you an opportunity to expand on your theme!

David
You should check out Integrated Information Theory for some ideas on this. I'm not sure they've quite sold me yet on the proposition that there would only be one stream of consciousness for the integrated system. At this point, I don't see any reason to rule out that there might be sub-me consciousnesses going on throughout the system.
 
S

Sciborg_S_Patel

#98
I think one issue with having Chalmers introduce the problem is this whole idea of zombies. Usually you see materialists say its question begging, but I suspect it hurts the immaterialist more as it makes consciousness seem supernatural, something that doesn't need to be there.

Yet as Tallis notes why is a neurology based on qualia naturally selected for then? Why do we have pains/pleasures/etc if they hold no value for survival?

And what is the relationship between the neurons and the presence of self-awareness? Grossinger, in A Dark Pool of Light (Volume 2 IIRC?) suggests the physical ends up taking on the shape of vessels that can allow a spirit to enjoy the experiential possibilities of the material world.

There's more to it than that (why does matter arrange itself in this way? what guides it?), can't recall how deeply he explores the notion. Also can't say I'd agree with him...but there's a certain poetic quality to it that I enjoy...

"Above, the beady, lecher stars look down and know a jealous wish for skin."
-Alan Moore, Voice of the Fire
 
#99
I think one issue with having Chalmers introduce the problem is this whole idea of zombies. Usually you see materialists say its question begging, but I suspect it hurts the immaterialist more as it makes consciousness seem supernatural, something that doesn't need to be there.
The way I see the problem is that if the hypothesis is that human consciousness is part and parcel of the arrangements of the human's parts then a similarly arranged duplicate should by extension have similar conscious properties.

If you somehow removed the conscious properties from the parts but kept the arrangment the same, what reason is there to suppose that the duplicate would act anything like regular humans?

I think the thought experiment is useful for considering the relationship between consciousness and the parts, but I don't think it in itself lets us draw any firm conclusions about any of this.

Yet as Tallis notes why is a neurology based on qualia naturally selected for then? Why do we have pains/pleasures/etc if they hold no value for survival?
Pretty hard to argue that they do not have survival benefits, isn't it? Particularly pain and fear.

And what is the relationship between the neurons and the presence of self-awareness? Grossinger, in A Dark Pool of Light (Volume 2 IIRC?) suggests the physical ends up taking on the shape of vessels that can allow a spirit to enjoy the experiential possibilities of the material world.
Taking an IIT approach:
Neurons are a conduit for information processing in the system. Some of the pathways allow for the information to be integrated. Integrated information has phenomenological properties. When information is integrated in certain was the result is a sense of self on the part of the system.

There's more to it than that (why does matter arrange itself in this way? what guides it?), can't recall how deeply he explores the notion. Also can't say I'd agree with him...but there's a certain poetic quality to it that I enjoy...
My thoughts are that it relates to how everything shot out of the big bang - the stuff started interacting with each other, one thing lead to another, and here we are! ;)

We may never really no why. What we can do is make observations and note patterns.
 
S

Sciborg_S_Patel

Taking an IIT approach:
Neurons are a conduit for information processing in the system. Some of the pathways allow for the information to be integrated. Integrated information has phenomenological properties. When information is integrated in certain was the result is a sense of self on the part of the system.
What is information processing and why are neurons a conduit for it?

What are phenomenological properities?

My thoughts are that it relates to how everything shot out of the big bang - the stuff started interacting with each other, one thing lead to another, and here we are! ;)

We may never really no why. What we can do is make observations and note patterns.
Well we'd at least want to explain how anything leads to anything else.

I think looking for patterns is fine, so long as we don't confuse equations for reality.
 
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