What Are Some Concise Ways To Convince People That Consciousness Is Not An Emergent Property?

#1
Article here.
Answer by Marc Ettlinger, PhD linguistics, research neuroscientist at the Dept of Veterans Affairs, on Quora,

If you frame the question right, it’s pretty easy because claims of emergent consciousness are simply philosophical assumptions dressed up as science. You can poke holes in this edifice in three crucial ways, teasing apart the idea that consciousness (1) is an emergent (2) property of the brain (3).
 
#2
Devane,

I had somehow assumed you were a skeptic, which makes it interesting that you realise that conventional explanations of consciousness are so very weak.

To me, it is the fact that consciousness is so poorly explained by conventional science, that opens up the possibility that consciousness can actually cause all the other things we discuss here - ESP, precognition, NDE's etc. The conventional 'explanation' of consciousness rules these out - but it really isn't much of an explanation anyway!

David
 
#3
Well I am skeptical of many things, but in no way do I identify as a skeptic. You probably assumed I was a skeptic because I'm often sarcastic (I even tone it down while I'm here so I don't cause too much offence, mostly to the skeptics).
 
Last edited:
#4
At present I think consciousness is almost certainly emergent... emergent from what remains a mystery to me ...

...in any case it's certainly not going to emerge from an individual's brain which is thought to be somehow perfectly isolated from the world, other than data presented to it from that individuals known senses.
 
#5
What Are Some Concise Ways To Convince People That Consciousness Is Not An Emergent Property?
Consciousness is not an emergent property of the brain:

The evidence for the afterlife shows that consciousness is not an emergent property of the brain. If you can have consciousness without a brain, that consciousness is clearly not emerging from a brain.

The evidence for ESP also shows that consciousness cannot be an emergent property of the brain because there is no known mechanism by which neurons or any physical process can cause ESP. Alan Turing understood that lack of ESP would prevent a computer from passing his Turing Test.

Saying consciousness is an emergent property of the brain is not saying anything - it is just a fancy of saying "we don't know how the brain produces consciousness". In every true case of emergence, the mechanism by which something emerges can be demonstrated. With consciousness, we are only promised a mechanism. Nobel Prize winning neurophysiologist Sir John Eccles said promissory materialism is superstition.

Consciousness cannot be an emergent property of the brain because consciousness is a subjective experience and that is fundamentally different from any physical process. No description of a physical process however detailed can ever tell a color blind person what the color blue looks like. You can't make a ham sandwich from a pile of bricks and piling up more and more bricks (making a brain more and more complex) will not get you any closer to having a ham sandwich.

All the evidence that, consciousness is not produced by the brain is also evidence that consciousness is not an emergent property of the brain.
 
Last edited:
#6
Well, five steps: basic, intellectual, social, experiential, final.

1. Basic. Make sure they are not hardcore paranormal skeptics.

2. Intellectual. Show them evidence and present argumentation for the non-local consciousness.

3. Social. Introduce them into paranoramal/spiritual community (at least the Internet one; a local organization in actual reality is recommended).

4. Experiential. Persuade them to do some actual consciousness-expanding exercises.

5. Final. Help them to reconcile their experiential revelations with their intellectual models and social evironment (steps 2, 3 and 4 repeated together, synergetically).

As for harcore paranormal skeptics... Well, until/unless they will have some spontaneous spiritual transformative experince or near-death experince, you'll be just wasting your time with them.
 
#7

Actually just common sense in my opinion

Honestly I think emergence is a complete fairy-tale... saying that you can get subjectivity from objectivity is like saying you can getting something from nothing.
I think that just dismissing consciousness all together is a more reasonable response ( Dennet and co) even though it leads to the most bizarre conclusions.... Emergence is a more extraordinary claim that any miracle that you can find in any holy book...
 
#9
At present I think consciousness is almost certainly emergent... emergent from what remains a mystery to me ...

...in any case it's certainly not going to emerge from an individual's brain which is thought to be somehow perfectly isolated from the world, other than data presented to it from that individuals known senses.
I suppose it could be a transceiver. It both receives and produces consciousness.
 
#10
I suppose it could be a transceiver. It both receives and produces consciousness.
I don't know... I'm only pointing out that the idea that my brain is not affected by all the fields within which it is embedded is stoooopid... my brain is not sealed within some perfectly shielded chamber.
 
#11
------ Well, until/unless they will have some spontaneous spiritual transformative experince or near-death experince, you'll be just wasting your time with them.
You underestimate the will not to believe held by some closed-minded materialists. I think many such people are so rigid they would immediately dismiss their own NDE or other spiritually transformative experience as a biologically based hallucination. After all, what else could it be within their rigid mind-set? They would not be willing to give up the belief system of a lifetime just because their brain temporarily malfunctioned. The attitude would be "even if it happened to me I wouldn't believe it".

Unfortunately, some religious believers are probably just as rigid and would interpret any experience contradicting their beliefs as being really in accordance with their narrow creed.
 
#12
You underestimate the will not to believe held by some closed-minded materialists. I think many such people are so rigid they would immediately dismiss their own NDE or other spiritually transformative experience as a biologically based hallucination. After all, what else could it be within their rigid mind-set? They would not be willing to give up the belief system of a lifetime just because their brain temporarily malfunctioned. The attitude would be "even if it happened to me I wouldn't believe it".

Unfortunately, some religious believers are probably just as rigid and would interpret any experience contradicting their beliefs as being really in accordance with their narrow creed.
Bernardo Kastrup made a good post on his "Metaphysical Speculations" blog dedicated to the interaction of experiential and intellectual knowledge and understanding.

In the comment section of this post, Robert Perry wrote:

I agree with your response to Tom Bunzel. We are all to a significant degree creatures of culture and all to some degree influenced by evidence, argumentation, and persuasion. That's why materialists (or anyone else for that matter) gather in communities and reinforce with each other their basic convictions, along with their rejection of the alternatives. The problem with the materialist paradigm is just that its roots are so deeply sunk into the culture and its tentacles have so thoroughly reached into everything that it will take a constant drumbeat from thousands of sources to begin to change things. What more honorable or vital role could there be than to be one of those drumbeats?

I also agree that the intellect can lead one to and support direct experience. Personally, though, I think it has crucial functions that direct experience cannot really fulfill. For instance, how do we decide between competing direct experiences? Do we choose the impersonal absolute experienced by Advaita practicioners? Or the boundary-less God of pure love encountered by near-death experiencers? Or the ethnic God coming soon in wrath encountered in visions by many in traditional religion?

And even if we have rooted ourselves in the right direct experience (whatever that turns out to be), it seems to me that the ego can still run the show. How else do we account for Buddhist meditation masters who treat women as second-class citizens, or Indian yogis who support the caste system, or Zen masters who actively aided the Japanese war effort in WWII or committed harakiri when the Emperor surrendered (two things I have read about, though I don't know how solidly established they are)? It's the intellect that gave us the Enlightenment, and in so doing did more for the equality of the sexes, of the classes, of the races, and of the countries than (alas!) our spiritual traditions have ever done.
 
#13
I honestly don't understand how consciousness can emerge from the brain. With enough organic molecules, the brain can paint a picture of the world, a picture with a theme, pain, pleasure, expectations, feelings and thoughts. What the brain cannot do is to create the observer, the consciousness that experiences this sensory painted picture. That's what neuroscience doesn't tell you. They might point to a bunch of chemical reactions, but that have no idea how to grasp the very essense of consciousness. For that, a mad scientist would have to go out and snare a ghost and trap it inside of a cerebral maze. The mad scientists would have to force the ghost (spirit) into submission and train it using pain and pleasure. Only then would science create a machine with a soul.
 
#15
Not sure whether this is evidence for brain=mind or for some form of the filter model. I suspect both sides will claim it proves their point: http://www.news.com.au/lifestyle/health/bar-attack-turned-college-dropout-jason-padgett-into-a-maths-genius/story-fneuz9ev-1226890783542

That major personality changes can result from traumatic brain injury and the implications for theories of mind-brain were discussed at the old mind-energy forum at http://forum.mind-energy.net/forum/...ain-injury-a-challenge-to-transmission-theory .

It seems to me that acquired savant syndrome and personality change cases resulting from traumatic brain injury pose problems for both theories of mind - brain. With personality change resulting from trauma, both theories can be stretched some to accommodate the phenomenon, but for cases of acquired major new talents (like Jason Padgett) the bigger challenge is to mind=brain materialism.

This is because it is hard to see how disrupting or killing millions or hundreds of millions of neurons could somehow create the massive new organized complexity supposedly responsible for a new ability. An ability that would normally require years of dedicated study and practice to develop. It would be like an Ipad, after being dropped violently onto the pavement, suddenly manifesting a major new application function that had never been downloaded. Machines, especially very complicated ones, don't behave that way when they are damaged.

Whereas the transmission filter (or transceiver) theory would suggest in principle that the neural disruption changed the way spirit manifested through the brain. Damage to the brain has changed the way the transmission mechanism operates, changing what part of consciousness comes through.

Of course all cases of veridical psychical phenomena such as NDEs, apparitions and mediumistic communication, and children who seem to remember past lives, have to somehow be dismissed to make the mind = brain theory or any sort of emergence theory viable.
 
#17
This article ...
http://www.uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/materialist-magic
... quotes Thomas Nagel in Mind and Cosmos
Merely to identify a cause is not to provide a significant explanation without some understanding of why the cause produces the effect.
...
To qualify as a genuine explanation of the mental, an emergent account must be in some way systematic. It cannot just say that each mental event or state supervenes on the complex physical state of the organism in which it occurs. That would the kind of brute fact that does not constitute an explanation but rather calls for an explanation.
 
#18
We only accept things when we are ready for them.
This. It is pointless to argue these things with people who aren't emotionally ready to accept them anyway. When people are ready, not much will be actually needed.

Think back. What made you convinced, or even just intrigued? Some specific argument, or more the fact that your mind was ready to seriously entertain these ideas once you encountered them?

Anyway, the quickest way to alter people who are skeptical about consciousness not being produced by the brain is to inject 100 mg of ultra-pure DMT straight into their carotid artery. It may not thoroughly convince them that the brain doesn't create the mind (unlike a deep NDE), but it will certainly change their view of reality enough to make them forever after consider that the brain isn't the same as the mind is a serious possibility.
 
#19
The problem is that many materialists (and also idealists and dualists, I'm sure) do not actually understand the hard problem of consciousness. The most difficult point to bring across, in my experience, is that mind ≠ consciousness. Mind is simply what we call brain activity when it is subjectively experienced. It is that subjective experiencing which is consciousness, which is truly mysterious, and which lies at the heart of the hard problem! Why materialists so often fail to grok this distinction is anybody's guess, but I suspect that notions of emergentism and other materialist theories become much easier to poke holes in once the hard problem is properly understood.
 
#20
This. It is pointless to argue these things with people who aren't emotionally ready to accept them anyway. When people are ready, not much will be actually needed.

Think back. What made you convinced, or even just intrigued? Some specific argument, or more the fact that your mind was ready to seriously entertain these ideas once you encountered them?

Anyway, the quickest way to alter people who are skeptical about consciousness not being produced by the brain is to inject 100 mg of ultra-pure DMT straight into their carotid artery. It may not thoroughly convince them that the brain doesn't create the mind (unlike a deep NDE), but it will certainly change their view of reality enough to make them forever after consider that the brain isn't the same as the mind is a serious possibility.
It is very clear that consciousness can be affected by neurochemicals. Consciousness experiences neurochemicals, that is a fact. But there is nothing in materialist nature that can be the subjective experiencer. The brain is just a container for the soul. It doesn't matter what kind of LSD or other hallucinogenic chemicals you use to alter perception, the fact remains that there is nothing in materialism to make a subjective experiencer with.
 
Top