Falsification and consciousness (shared from Neuroscience of Consciousness site)

#1
This paper was published today. An academic take on how consciousness is difficult to scientifically quantify. They state, "The search for a scientific theory of consciousness should result in theories that are falsifiable. However, here we show that falsification is especially problematic for theories of consciousness." I thought it was worth a share here. https://academic.oup.com/nc/article/2021/1/niab001/6232324
 
#2
Hi Daz.

New member here. Sweet post. I've breezed the article and am interested to jump in with a few strictly layman jabs.

1. I assume for granted that my higher self/consciousness is non-physical and not-connected to me by any physical means.
2. I assume for granted that the other type of consciousness (the kind that triggers the observer effect) is all butterfly effect, i.e: there's always an endless chain of matter or (antimatter) that connects/links every object in the universe to every other object.
I've concluded in recent years that free will also exists in the non-physical plane, and that physical events all have a chain-linking of occurrence that displays scientifically as determinism.
Given these positions, I always argue back in my head hear/see people trying to prove some physicality to those things which I suspect exist on a fully non-physical plane.
 
#3
Hi @Robbedigital , I too am a new member I am with you, though I usually find the word "assume" leads me into a lot of trouble.

I like the fact academics are trying to narrow down the argument field of consciousness from a scientific perspective as it gives us all some points to agree or contest. The ambiguity around this leads to some interesting discussions on the Skeptiko podcast, particularly as the mainstream scientific view seems to be we are just physiological robots. I really like what Rupert Sheldrake was pointing out in his banned YouTube about his ten dogmas of science, his science delusion. Essentially consciousness is one the big questions and Science should be exhausting experiments to find the answers.
 
#4
Thanks Daz, and I promise to try to read that article properly soon. However this is a related thought.

There was a time here when certain people (generally materialists) would argue that before you can discuss consciousness, you have to define it. This seems so very plausible, that I tried to think why it rang false to me.

I thought of a group of stone age philosphers sitting round a fire discussing fire.

Ug1: I think before we can discuss fire, we absolutely must define it!

Ug2: Right, I agree, and I think we should define it as a process in which something gives up its spirit as light and heat and becomes truly dead - like these ashes (poking at the edge of the fire).

All the philosophers agree on this definition.

Ug3: However, I'd hoped to discuss my experiments a bit - for example, I have discovered that fires seem to go out if I stop them taking in fresh air.

Ug1: That rather implies that everything that can burn is alive in some way, and needs to breathe!

Ug2: So are you saying that breathing helps us to release our spirit and die!

Ug1: I guess we are never going to understand fire - let's finish off these bits of mamoth and go home!

This illustrates that rigid definitions of badly understood things are often seriously misleading!

David
 
#5
Thanks Daz, and I promise to try to read that article properly soon. However this is a related thought.

There was a time here when certain people (generally materialists) would argue that before you can discuss consciousness, you have to define it. This seems so very plausible, that I tried to think why it rang false to me.

I thought of a group of stone age philosphers sitting round a fire discussing fire.

Ug1: I think before we can discuss fire, we absolutely must define it!

Ug2: Right, I agree, and I think we should define it as a process in which something gives up its spirit as light and heat and becomes truly dead - like these ashes (poking at the edge of the fire).

All the philosophers agree on this definition.

Ug3: However, I'd hoped to discuss my experiments a bit - for example, I have discovered that fires seem to go out if I stop them taking in fresh air.

Ug1: That rather implies that everything that can burn is alive in some way, and needs to breathe!

Ug2: So are you saying that breathing helps us to release our spirit and die!

Ug1: I guess we are never going to understand fire - let's finish off these bits of mamoth and go home!

This illustrates that rigid definitions of badly understood things are often seriously misleading!

David
I agree with what you've written to some extent David but I think our lack of understanding of consciousness, defined or not, is perplexing. The only perspectives which seem to have been pursued are the spiritual/religious and philosophical. The materialistic or scientific pursuit of consciousness seems to fall into neuroscience and I don't really think that cuts it when we know about the NDE stuff, albeit a lot of this evidence is subjective etc.

I have an agenda I guess; I'd like to know! Some would say I lack faith (I don't think I do - I believe in the wonder of the universe and other intelligences), but I would like there to be some further tangible materialistic evidence about consciousness so as to push the boundaries of human understanding in the hope of being able to engage or contact other intelligences, be they ET or spirits.
 
#6
I agree with what you've written to some extent David but I think our lack of understanding of consciousness, defined or not, is perplexing. The only perspectives which seem to have been pursued are the spiritual/religious and philosophical. The materialistic or scientific pursuit of consciousness seems to fall into neuroscience and I don't really think that cuts it when we know about the NDE stuff, albeit a lot of this evidence is subjective etc.

I have an agenda I guess; I'd like to know! Some would say I lack faith (I don't think I do - I believe in the wonder of the universe and other intelligences), but I would like there to be some further tangible materialistic evidence about consciousness so as to push the boundaries of human understanding in the hope of being able to engage or contact other intelligences, be they ET or spirits.
I think you will find that the longer you explore this subject, the less you will believe in materialism. I started out as a straightforward materialist, but that gradually eroded away. By now I think there is a shed load of evidence pointing away from materialism, but quite how it adds up, is less clear.

NDE's.

Other assorted deathbed phenomena

Reincarnation evidence.

Experiments like the presentiment work of Dean Radin.

Large parts of the alternative health procedures may be paranormal - and from personal experience, some of that stuff really works well.

Etc Etc.

Therefore I don't really bother much with materialist ideas about consciousness. Think for example about IIT:
Specifically, the theory takes the form of a function, the input of which is data derived from some physical system’s internal observables, while the output of this function is predictions about the contents of consciousness (represented mathematically as an element of an experience space) and the level of consciousness (represented by a scalar value Φ⁠).
The practice of theorising starting from mathematics may work well in fundamental physics (although the best example, String Theory isn't doing so well nowadays), but that really doesn't seem to make sense in relation to consciousness. Of course, its predecessors were things like global workspaces, and the idea that bits of the brain communicated at 40 Hz, but they sounded off the mark, so something wrapped up in maths can resist being torn apart quite so quickly!

Personally, I think the Idealist modal of reality (everything is ultimately consciousness) makes the most sense, although my feeling is that science works best when it advances incrementally from theory to theory. So for example, Idealism could be caricatured as "Anything at all can happen if a suitable conscious entity so decides", which doesn't sound falsifiable. Therefore we need some less comprehensive theory to nudge scientific thought in the right direction. Dualism is often derided because it can't be ultimately valid - the non-physical world has to couple weakly with the material world. Well, science seems to manage with two mutually incompatible theories - QM and General Relativity, so I think it should accept Dualism on the same basis.

David
 
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