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At Psychology Today: There are TWO hard problems of consciousness, not one

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Psychology prof Gregg Henriques argues, consciousness “plays by a different set of rules than the language game of science”:

“One problem is the “ontological problem” of how it might be possible to engineer the felt experience of being. The other is the “epistemological problem” of directly knowing another’s primary experience.”

So the first problem is, could we create a computer that, even though it is only a calculating machine and not a living being, is conscious due to a massive RAM?

Second, none of us really knows for sure that anyone (except oneself!) is conscious. That’s the p-zombie problem: The p-zombie (the philosopher’s zombie) is your co-worker. What if he actually isn’t conscious, just programmed to follow carefully designed routines. How would you know?

News, “Consciousness is TWO hard problems, not one” at Mind Matters News

He’d like to see a scientific approach to this problem.

Meanwhile, a computer science prof counters the AI boosters with cogent explanations as to why computers will never be conscious:

“Some researchers continue to insist that simulating neuroscience with computers is the way to go. Others, like me, view these efforts as doomed to failure because we do not believe consciousness is computable. Our basic argument is that brains integrate and compress multiple components of an experience, including sight and smell—which simply can’t be handled in the way today’s computers sense, process and store data.”

He highlights a number of additional problems with the idea that computers can be conscious…

News, “Computer science prof: Computers will never be conscious” at Mind Matters News

3 Replies to “At Psychology Today: There are TWO hard problems of consciousness, not one

  1. 1
    hnorman42 says:

    Neither one of these sounds like the classical hard problem of consciousness to me. Would someone clue me in to what I’m missing?

  2. 2
    Eugene says:

    This Psychology professor should have at least read R. Penrose “Shadows of the mind” before postulating these so called “problems”, which are far from the real hard problems of consciousness.

  3. 3
    bornagain77 says:

    The so called ‘hard problem’ of consciousness, since it assumes within its premises that the immaterial mind is somehow reducible to materialistic explanations, might as well be called the ‘impossible problem’ of consciousness.

    The Fundamental Difference Between Humans and Nonhuman Animals – Michael Egnor – November 5, 2015
    Excerpt: Human beings have mental powers that include the material mental powers of animals but in addition entail a profoundly different kind of thinking. Human beings think abstractly, and nonhuman animals do not. Human beings have the power to contemplate universals, which are concepts that have no material instantiation. Human beings think about mathematics, literature, art, language, justice, mercy, and an endless library of abstract concepts. Human beings are rational animals.
    Human rationality is not merely a highly evolved kind of animal perception. Human rationality is qualitatively different — ontologically different — from animal perception. Human rationality is different because it is immaterial.,,,
    ,,, our intellect — our ability to think abstractly — is a wholly immaterial power, and our will that acts in accordance with our intellect is an immaterial power. Our intellect and our will depend on matter for their ordinary function, in the sense that they depend upon perception and imagination and memory, but they are not themselves made of matter. It is in our ability to think abstractly that we differ from apes. It is a radical difference — an immeasurable qualitative difference, not a quantitative difference.
    We are more different from apes than apes are from viruses. Our difference is a metaphysical chasm.
    https://evolutionnews.org/2015/11/the_fundamental_2/

    The causal efficacy of immaterial objects upon material objects, (particularly the causal efficacy of immaterial mind and immaterial information upon material objects), is simply denied within the reductive materialist’s and/or the methodological naturalist’s starting premises.

    “Materialism treats information as a property of matter.,, Matter through its inherent (as opposed to externally imposed) structure and dynamics, therefore creates, transmits, and stores information. Moreover, intelliences, insofar as they create information, are themselves purely material entities, arranging and rearranging their material constituents through material processes and only thereby originating novel information. Intelligence, as with any other feature of the world, is, for the materialist, merely a consequence of matter arranging itself into different states. The same holds for information. For the materialist there is no breaking free of matter.”
    – William Dembski – Being as Communion – pg. 190

    As Paul Nelson noted in the following article, reductive materialism and/or methodological naturalism entails an ontology wherein “You didn’t write your email to me. Physics did, and informed you of that event after the fact.”

    Do You Like SETI? Fine, Then Let’s Dump Methodological Naturalism – Paul Nelson – September 24, 2014
    Excerpt: Assessing the Damage MN Does to Freedom of Inquiry
    Epistemology — how we know — and ontology — what exists — are both affected by methodological naturalism. If we say, “We cannot know that a mind caused x,” laying down an epistemological boundary defined by MN, then our ontology comprising real causes for x won’t include minds.
    MN entails an ontology in which minds are the consequence of physics, and thus, can only be placeholders for a more detailed causal account in which physics is the only (ultimate) actor. You didn’t write your email to me. Physics did, and informed you of that event after the fact.
    “That’s crazy,” you reply, “I certainly did write my email.” Okay, then — to what does the pronoun “I” in that sentence refer?
    Your personal agency; your mind. Are you supernatural?,,,
    You are certainly an intelligent cause, however, and your intelligence does not collapse into physics. (If it does collapse — i.e., can be reduced without explanatory loss — we haven’t the faintest idea how, which amounts to the same thing.) To explain the effects you bring about in the world — such as your email, a real pattern — we must refer to you as a unique agent.
    If ID satisfied MN as that philosophical doctrine is usually stated, the decades-long dispute over both wouldn’t have happened. The whole point of invoking MN (by the National Center for Science Education, for instance, or other anti-ID organizations) is to try to exclude ID, before a debate about the evidence can occur, by indicting ID for inferring non-physical causes.
    That’s why pushing the MN emergency button is so useful to opponents of ID. Violate MN, if MN defines science, and the game is over.,,,
    https://evolutionnews.org/2014/09/do_you_like_set/

    Yet, despite this rather insane denial of the causal efficacy of immaterial mind and immaterial information on material objects within the ontology of reductive materialism and/or methodological naturalism, as George Ellis points out in the following article, the ‘top down’ causal efficacy of immaterial mind and immaterial information on material objects is, none-the-less, self-evidently demonstrable.

    Recognising Top-Down Causation – George Ellis
    Excerpt: Causation: The nature of causation is highly contested territory, and I will take a pragmatic view:
    Definition 1: Causal Effect If making a change in a quantity X results in a reliable demonstrable change in a quantity Y in a given context, then X has a causal effect on Y.
    Example: I press the key labelled “A” on my computer keyboard; the letter “A” appears on my computer screen.,,,
    Definition 2: Existence If Y is a physical entity made up of ordinary matter, and X is some kind of entity that has a demonstrable causal effect on Y as per Definition 1, then we must acknowledge that X also exists (even if it is not made up of such matter).
    This is clearly a sensible and testable criterion; in the example above, it leads to the conclusion that both the data and the relevant software exist. If we do not adopt this definition, we will have instances of uncaused changes in the world; I presume we wish to avoid that situation.,,,
    Causal Efficacy of Non Physical entities:
    Both the program and the data are non-physical entities, indeed so is all software. A program is not a physical thing you can point to, but by Definition 2 it certainly exists. You can point to a CD or flashdrive where it is stored, but that is not the thing in itself: it is a medium in which it is stored.
    The program itself is an abstract entity, shaped by abstract logic. Is the software “nothing but” its realisation through a specific set of stored electronic states in the computer memory banks? No it is not because it is the precise pattern in those states that matters: a higher level relation that is not apparent at the scale of the electrons themselves. It’s a relational thing (and if you get the relations between the symbols wrong, so you have a syntax error, it will all come to a grinding halt). This abstract nature of software is realised in the concept of virtual machines, which occur at every level in the computer hierarchy except the bottom one [17]. But this tower of virtual machines causes physical effects in the real world, for example when a computer controls a robot in an assembly line to create physical artefacts.
    Excerpt page 7: The assumption that causation is bottom up only is wrong in biology, in computers, and even in many cases in physics, for example state vector preparation, where top-down constraints allow non-unitary behaviour at the lower levels. It may well play a key role in the quantum measurement problem (the dual of state vector preparation) [5]. One can bear in mind here that wherever equivalence classes of entities play a key role, such as in Crutchfield’s computational mechanics [29], this is an indication that top-down causation is at play.,,,
    Life and the brain: living systems are highly structured modular hierarchical systems, and there are many similarities to the digital computer case, even though they are not digital computers. The lower level interactions are constrained by network connections, thereby creating possibilities of truly complex behaviour. Top-down causation is prevalent at all levels in the brain: for example it is crucial to vision [24,25] as well as the relation of the individual brain to society [2]. The hardware (the brain) can do nothing without the excitations that animate it: indeed this is the difference between life and death. The mind is not a physical entity, but it certainly is causally effective: proof is the existence of the computer on which you are reading this text. It could not exist if it had not been designed and manufactured according to someone’s plans, thereby proving the causal efficacy of thoughts, which like computer programs and data are not physical entities.
    http://fqxi.org/data/essay-con.....s_2012.pdf

    Thus, the so called ‘hard problem’ of consciousness, as long as it’s adherents presuppose that immaterial objects can somehow be reduced to purely materialistic explanations, (i.e. as long as they presuppose that the immaterial mind can somehow be explained solely by reference to material brain states), will forever be, in actuality, the ‘impossible problem’ of consciousness.

    Supplemental notes:

    “Evolutionary biologists have failed to realize that they work with two more or less incommensurable domains: that of information and that of matter… These two domains will never be brought together in any kind of the sense usually implied by the term ‘reductionism.’… Information doesn’t have mass or charge or length in millimeters. Likewise, matter doesn’t have bytes… This dearth of shared descriptors makes matter and information two separate domains of existence, which have to be discussed separately, in their own terms.”
    George Williams – Evolutionary Biologist – “A Package of Information”

    Naturalism and Self-Refutation – Michael Egnor – January 31, 2018
    Excerpt: Mathematics is certainly something we do. Is mathematics “included in the space-time continuum [with] basic elements … described by physics”?,,,
    What is the physics behind the Pythagorean theorem? After all, no actual triangle is perfect, and thus no actual triangle in nature has sides such that the Pythagorean theorem holds. There is no real triangle in which the sum of the squares of the sides exactly equals the square of the hypotenuse. That holds true for all of geometry. Geometry is about concepts, not about anything in the natural world or about anything that can be described by physics. What is the “physics” of the fact that the area of a circle is pi multiplied by the square of the radius? And of course what is natural and physical about imaginary numbers, infinite series, irrational numbers, and the mathematics of more than three spatial dimensions? Mathematics is entirely about concepts, which have no precise instantiation in nature,,
    For Clark, thoughts merely appear out of matter, which has no properties, by the laws of physics, for generating thought.,,,
    Furthermore, the very framework of Clark’s argument — logic — is neither material nor natural. Logic, after all, doesn’t exist “in the space-time continuum” and isn’t described by physics. What is the location of modus ponens? How much does Gödel’s incompleteness theorem weigh? What is the physics of non-contradiction? How many millimeters long is Clark’s argument for naturalism? Ironically the very logic that Clark employs to argue for naturalism is outside of any naturalistic frame.
    The strength of Clark’s defense of naturalism is that it is an attempt to present naturalism’s tenets clearly and logically. That is its weakness as well, because it exposes naturalism to scrutiny, and naturalism cannot withstand even minimal scrutiny. Even to define naturalism is to refute it.
    https://evolutionnews.org/2018/01/naturalism-and-self-refutation/

    Dr. Ed Feser – The Immateriality of the Intellect – video
    Excerpt:
    1: Formal thought processes can have an exact or unambiguous conceptual content.
    However,
    2: Nothing material can have an exact or unambiguous conceptual content.
    So,
    3: Formal thought processes are not material.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fNi0j19ZSpo

    What Does It Mean to Say That Science & Religion Conflict? – M. Anthony Mills – April 16, 2018
    Excerpt: Barr rightly observes that scientific atheists often unwittingly assume not just metaphysical naturalism but an even more controversial philosophical position: reductive materialism, which says all that exists is or is reducible to the material constituents postulated by our most fundamental physical theories.
    As Barr points out, this implies not only that God does not exist — because God is not material — but that you do not exist. For you are not a material constituent postulated by any of our most fundamental physical theories; at best, you are an aggregate of those constituents, arranged in a particular way. Not just you, but tables, chairs, countries, countrymen, symphonies, jokes, legal contracts, moral judgments, and acts of courage or cowardice — all of these must be fully explicable in terms of those more fundamental, material constituents.
    In fact, more problematic for the materialist than the non-existence of persons is the existence of mathematics. Why? Although a committed materialist might be perfectly willing to accept that you do not really exist, he will have a harder time accepting that numbers do not exist. The trouble is that numbers — along with other mathematical entities such as classes, sets, and functions — are indispensable for modern science. And yet — here’s the rub — these “abstract objects” are not material. Thus, one cannot take science as the only sure guide to reality and at the same time discount disbelief in all immaterial realities.
    https://www.realclearreligion.org/articles/2018/04/16/what_does_it_mean_to_say_that_science_and_religion_conflict.html

    How Quantum Mechanics and Consciousness Correlate – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4f0hL3Nrdas

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