Mod+ 250. DR. JEFFREY SCHWARTZ, SCIENCE’S INABILITY TO EXPLAIN PERSONHOOD

#81
I would say consciousness makes use of life, and I think that difference in outlook explains a lot. I don't reject the possibility that cells are conscious, it just seems to me to be an unnecessary hypothesis. I give it creedence because of some of the things NDErs say not because of the biological, biochemical facts.

Are you implying biological reactions yield 100% yields? Enzymes are catalysts and they increase the rates of reactions by lowering the activation energy, they don't change the stoichiometry of the reactions.
Well they surely do in the sense that they may catalyse one reaction, thus removing reactants that might otherwise combine with something else more slowly. Lab organic chemistry famously generates tarry bi-products - heavily polymerised materials that would be very hard indeed to excrete.
Cells produce and excrete waste (crud). There are many reactions going on in the cell but the cell has a highly organized internal structure and compartmentalization. It isn't just a vat of chemicals it is like a factory with assembly lines.

I still don't understand the role you think consciousness plays in the cell. Does the cell think "my amino acid levels are out of balance, I have to make more alanine"? Consciousness doesn't help an animal adjust its cholesterol levels, how does consciousness help a cell manage biochemical reactions?
You seem to adopt a curious position which is part anti-materialist, and part pro-materialist! There is nothing wrong with that as such - just odd.
For example, if we have a non-material essence that separates at (near) death, that presumably does control a lot of our actions while we are alive. I assume that consciousness does manifest itself in many animals, and it is extremely hard to pin down a level where it stops. However, that control must mean that our individual cells - neurons and maybe others end up doing things they wouldn't do otherwise - so the capacity for non-material control of cells does exist in us and higher animals.

The problem (to me) is that known biochemistry just keeps on getting ever more complex, and it seems to me that complexity without some overall control seems less and less likely to be stable. Rupert Sheldrake looks at the complexity of embryo development. The point is, that yes there may be gradients of various chemicals that drive the differentiation of the cells, but such a process would become very unstable because of its complexity. Here he discusses a very revealing experiment in which the lens in a newt's eye is removed in the embryo, and it re-grows by a quite different mechanism:

http://members.tripod.com/~Glove_r/Sheldrake.html

The point is it seems unreasonable to assume that this mechanism got designed in just in case this particular situation arose! It seems more reasonable to assume that some form of intelligence can push an embryo back to viability because it knows what the end product is supposed to look like.

Did you see what I meant by the Rube Goldberg comparison?

David
 
#82
I completely agree with you David. Though I'm curious as to your take on how, specifically our, cells are conscious and yet we, as whole individuals, seem to be separately conscious. How do you make sense of that?
I don't know - it could be that both types of consciousness are separate, but if you watch a cell chasing down an 'enemy' it is hard to conclude that no awareness is involved.

David
 
#83
Cells probably have experiences. They float around in some liquid somewhere, all peaceful, until a predator comes along. They probably scream and run. It is the Infinite Consciousness having an experience in the biological-physical world. And what's wrong with that? God had to wait 13 billion years for the fun to start.
 
S

Sciborg_S_Patel

#84
Cells probably have experiences. They float around in some liquid somewhere, all peaceful, until a predator comes along. They probably scream and run. It is the Infinite Consciousness having an experience in the biological-physical world. And what's wrong with that? God had to wait 13 billion years for the fun to start.
One day, if you have the time, I want to hear about your experiences with ghosts...and whatever else might be out there.
 
#85
One day, if you have the time, I want to hear about your experiences with ghosts...and whatever else might be out there.
Well, I'll share an idea I had. I don't know if it makes sense, it's late and I'm sleepy. Here goes. I believe that wave-functions really do exist. When a photon or other particle goes by, it's as if that wave-function is energized. The wave-function acts like a conduit for particles and waves. There are neural pathways that are not energized until a thought energizes that pathway as well. I am seeing a similarity between neural pathways in the brain, and wave-functions in the quantum vacuum. They both become energized when used. Does that make sense?
 
#86
Well, I'll share an idea I had. I don't know if it makes sense, it's late and I'm sleepy. Here goes. I believe that wave-functions really do exist. When a photon or other particle goes by, it's as if that wave-function is energized. The wave-function acts like a conduit for particles and waves. There are neural pathways that are not energized until a thought energizes that pathway as well. I am seeing a similarity between neural pathways in the brain, and wave-functions in the quantum vacuum. They both become energized when used. Does that make sense?
Well, I thought the question was more about what actual experiences you'd had, if you would be willing to share them some time,
 
#87
If we define the mis-match as the fact "the experience of living" doesn't seem to match that of a biological robot, I would say this.

For starters- how do you know what it would or wouldn't feel like to be a "biological robot" (I've gotten to hate that term)?

Just because one doesn't like the idea of being a robot doesn't mean you aren't one. Now I'm not saying you are one either. I'm just saying that it makes no sense to determine that you aren't one because it doesn't "feel like" you are one,, especially if you don't know what it would be like to be one.

What exactly are the aspects of a human's experience, rule out being a BR?

Bottom line- why is it impossible to imagine that pure biology could create the human "experience"?

For me- my evidence against being a BR have nothing to do with the rather undefined and subjective "experience" of living but rather more concrete (and testable) aspects of our existence that just don't fit with the BR model.

For me- sense of self is not very good proof that you are more than your body,,, it's more like wishful thinking.
Dear JKMack, The assertion that you require something testable and concrete to prove you are not a BR seems nonsensical to me. In essense, all we know is through a subjective process. Even empirical facts are 'subjectively' weighed against what we previously have accepted as true? we are collection of memories of personal experiences, societal conditioning, etc, etc. It forms our perception of what reality is. That's not to say reliance on accepted science is not extremely important. I believe it is. What changes our notions of reality and what, who we are as entities is subjective experience, which we may decide is concrete enough for us.. There are people who posit they experience a different reality then the common masses. For instance, a person who claims to see deceased people. They are not having a testable experience (or are they?) They certainly do not hold to a testable criteria to know they are not a BR. Hey, how about the scientist who researches Mediums, as in Dr Julie Beischel. She has formulated very complex criteria to ascertain the validity that some people seem to be able to communicate things between the deceased and their loved ones. She claims it is concrete and testable. I personally don't believe I am a BR because I've had and have anomalous experiences that do not fit into the materialistic model.
My argument is that a transformative subjective experience is the only way a person can undergo a fundamental change in their perspective. otherwise it is merely 'dead' fact. Seeing a flying saucer up close, lets say over a field, 300 ft away and at tree top level. You flash your headlights in the twilight and it slowly starts to come towards you. You turn off the lights when your mother-in law in the back starts to scream in panic. It shoots off upwards faster then the human body could tolerate. That could amount to a transformative experience in deciding flying saucers are not hallucinations or misidentification. It may certainly not be testtable although for you it may prove to be concrete since not only you experienced it but your wife and MiL too.
 
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S

Sciborg_S_Patel

#88
Well, I thought the question was more about what actual experiences you'd had, if you would be willing to share them some time,
Yeah, this is what I meant.

Ghost, I thought you said you'd seen a ghost. But to answer your question I don't really understand physics enough to judge your conjecture. Might want to check out Mohrhoff's Physics of Interactionism.
 
#89
Yeah, this is what I meant.

Ghost, I thought you said you'd seen a ghost. But to answer your question I don't really understand physics enough to judge your conjecture. Might want to check out Mohrhoff's Physics of Interactionism.
When I was a kid, I saw a black cloaked entity standing in my room. It was terrifying and exhilarating. It looked like it's cloak was satin and it wore a black mask. My fear drained away, nut then I couldn't move. I felt like it was standing guard over me, like a sentinel.
 

Alex

Administrator
#91
Following EthanT's suggestion, Lucas made a similar argument here, where he addresses what he sees as invalid criticisms of the Godelian Argument.

Lucas further explains his thoughts in his free book Reason & Reality.
thx for this... reminded me of reading "Goedel, Escher, Bach" in grad school:

"Gödel was a convinced dualist. He thought it obvious that minds were essentially different from, and irreducible to, matter; one reason, perhaps, why he did not make more of his argument was that he did not feel the need to refute materialism: why waste effort flogging a dead horse?"
 

Alex

Administrator
#92
Something to keep in mind is that when Chalmers originally proposed the Hard Problem and the inadequacy of materialism, he wasn't proposing that humans had souls. In fact, he seemed to be largely convinced that qualia were epiphenomena. So originally the issue was entirely philosophical, as a useless spectator consciousness isn't any better than a biological robot. What wish could be granted by such a conception of the mind?

It's only now, decades later, that he thinks it might be otherwise.

Let's also not forget the desperation of the "skeptical" movement, which sees immaterialism in opposition to secular humanism. There's just as much wishful thinking among materialists, something Searle & Chalmers both noted when discussing philosophy of mind:

"I believe one of the unstated assumptions behind the current batch of views is that they represent the only scientifically acceptable alternatives to the antiscientism that went with traditional dualism, the belief in the immortality of the soul, spiritualism, and so on. Acceptance of the current views is motivated not so much by an independent conviction of their truth as by a terror of what are apparently the only alternatives."
-John Searle, "What's wrong with the philosophy of mind?"

"A motivation to avoid dualism, for many, has arisen from various spiritualistic, religious, supernatural and other antiscientific overtones of the view. But those are quite inessential. A naturalistic dualism expands our view of the world, but it does not invoke the forces of darkness."
-David Chalmers, "The Conscious Mind"
thx for this...interesting to see this shift spellled out:

"In terms of changes of mind the book was fairly sympathetic to epiphenomenalism, the idea that consciousness doesn’t play a casual role, though I wasn’t committed to it. Since then I have been very interested in exploring some alternatives to epiphenomalism, including panpsychism, the view that consciousness is found right down at the fundamental level of physics and playing a role there and in associated views such as Russellian monism, where there’s some kind of proto-consciousness right down at the fundamental level. I have also been exploring interactionism – which I was quite opposed to in the book – which is the idea that consciousness might be non-physical but still play a causal role in physics, and I have become interested in the idea that consciousness might play a role in quantum mechanics and in collapsing wave functions, which in fact is what I’m going to talk about in the talk tomorrow."

but with all due respect to this very smart guy, I have to go back to Goedel... he's beating a dead horse.

I wish someone would invite Dr. Chalmers on Skeptiko.
 

Alex

Administrator
#95
Alex - we were wondering how this works. Do we CC you when we email the person?

Ethan & I wanted to try and get Dr. Josephson on. As a Nobel winning physicist who is a strong advocate for Psi, I think he'd be a great guest.
Josephson would be good... I think you can just send an email and explain your interest in Skeptiko and his work... you might add this:

About the show: Skeptiko.com is the #1 podcast covering the science of human consciousness. Thousands of worldwide listeners tune-in to our interviews with some of the world's leading researchers and thinkers... even more read the interview transcripts we publish online.
 
#96
Josephson would be good... I think you can just send an email and explain your interest in Skeptiko and his work... you might add this:

About the show: Skeptiko.com is the #1 podcast covering the science of human consciousness. Thousands of worldwide listeners tune-in to our interviews with some of the world's leading researchers and thinkers... even more read the interview transcripts we publish online.
Skeptiko podcast and forum is indeed #1 - it was recommended as one of the best sources on the controversies surronding consciousness studies by the Parapsychological Association itself - look at their renowated website section about psi skepticism here.
 
#97
Alex - we were wondering how this works. Do we CC you when we email the person?

Ethan & I wanted to try and get Dr. Josephson on. As a Nobel winning physicist who is a strong advocate for Psi, I think he'd be a great guest.
Josephson would be good... I think you can just send an email and explain your interest in Skeptiko and his work... you might add this:

About the show: Skeptiko.com is the #1 podcast covering the science of human consciousness. Thousands of worldwide listeners tune-in to our interviews with some of the world's leading researchers and thinkers... even more read the interview transcripts we publish online.
My own trio of dream guests are Jessica Utts (there is hardly a person more knowledgeable and prominent in the area of statistical debates about psi experiments results), Carlos Alvarado (one of the best scholars of the history of parapsychology and psychical research) and Loyd Auerbach (not only a parapsycholost, but also a stage magician - may participate in a Skeptiko interview/discussion of "macro-psi" experiments).
 

Alex

Administrator
#98
My own trio of dream guests are Jessica Utts (there is hardly a person more knowledgeable and prominent in the area of statistical debates about psi experiments results), Carlos Alvarado (one of the best scholars of the history of parapsychology and psychical research) and Loyd Auerbach (not only a parapsycholost, but also a stage magician - may participate in a Skeptiko interview/discussion of "macro-psi" experiments).
would you mind dropping Loyd and email... I'd love to have him on the show.
 
#99
My own trio of dream guests are Jessica Utts (there is hardly a person more knowledgeable and prominent in the area of statistical debates about psi experiments results), Carlos Alvarado (one of the best scholars of the history of parapsychology and psychical research) and Loyd Auerbach (not only a parapsycholost, but also a stage magician - may participate in a Skeptiko interview/discussion of "macro-psi" experiments).
I'll second the Jessica Utts suggestion!
 
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