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How does the mind arise from the brain? Novel idea

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From hplus Magazine:

Abstract: Human behaviour is controlled not only by instincts but also by the mind. However, the relation of the mind to the brain has not been fully explained. In conventional interpretations, the mind is not believed to be located at any one spot in the brain, which, if true, suggests that we will remain forever unable to explain the mind completely, regardless of our understanding of the brain’s local functions. Brain development resembles the branching process of the cherry tree, in which the trunk branches off into limbs and limbs into twigs. As a novel method of understanding the mind, we compared the patterns of neural stem cell activity with the growth patterns of meristematic cells in the cherry tree. Studying plants in the natural world enables us to keep an open mind.

It’s okay, except for one thing: Ask the cherry tree for a comment and see what you get. Get back to us with the answer. World awaits with interest.

See also: Why naturalizing the mind will never work

and

What great physicists have said about immateriality and consciousness

Hat tip: Stephanie West Allen at Brains on Purpose

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130 Replies to “How does the mind arise from the brain? Novel idea

  1. 1
    redwave says:

    Short and interesting expose about plants

    http://www.wired.com/2013/12/s.....of-plants/

    How Plants Secretly Talk to Each Other
    By Kat McGowan, Wired Magazine

    Excerpt:

    Despite the growing evidence that plants are capable of communication, many plant scientists still question whether this cross talk is biologically meaningful. “Interplant communication through volatiles works well in the lab, but nobody’s convincingly shown it works in the field,” said Farmer. Even though he was one of the first to publish evidence that plants are capable of exchanging information, he calls himself a “skeptic” — he thinks there’s not yet enough evidence that this actually plays a significant role in plant lives. “But I wouldn’t want to stop people working on it,” he added. “I think it’s promising and exciting.”

  2. 2
    Bob O'H says:

    It’s okay, except for one thing: Ask the cherry tree for a comment and see what you get. Get back to us with the answer. World awaits with interest.

    Um. The cherry tree was a metaphor – something minds (or brains) use to help them with comprehension.

  3. 3
    Axel says:

    ‘…. the mind is not believed to be located at any one spot in the brain, which, if true, suggests that we will remain forever unable to explain the mind completely, regardless of our understanding of the brain’s local functions.’

    Only materialists in terms solely of matter.

  4. 4
    wallstreeter43 says:

    The problem here is that almost all nde research is starting to show that the mind can’t come from the brain because when the brain is not functioning people still have conscious awareness.

    Doctor Sam Patnias aware study showed a glimpse of this .
    Atheist/materialists had their backs to the wall for a long time and received a little hope in late 2013 when a study showed that there was a surge of deep brain electrical activity for 30 seconds after a patients heart stops beating , a deep brain activity that is beyond the detection of EEG’s , and they were detected by inserting electrodes deep with the patients brain . Atheists said “”see this explains that Nde’s are produced by material causes from the brain. This surge of electrical activity will last for 30 seconds , after which the brain shuts off with no electrical activity .

    In parnia’s aware study a 57 year old social worker had a veridical nde in which he accurately described everything and everyone in the room , but more importantly he described hearing 2 bleeps from a device . This device was setup to bleep once very 3 minutes . The man heard 2 bleeps which tells us that he had his veridical nde for 3 minutes , or 2.5 minutes after the deep brain surge would subside . A non functional brain for 2.5 minutes yet the man was having conscious awareness . This points to the fact that the mind (or soul ) lives on even after the brain shuts down.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/new.....study.html

    One man even recalled leaving his body entirely and watching his resuscitation from the corner of the room.

    Despite being unconscious and ‘dead’ for three minutes, the 57-year-old social worker from Southampton, recounted the actions of the nursing staff in detail and described the sound of the machines.

    “We know the brain can’t function when the heart has stopped beating,” said Dr Sam Parnia, a former research fellow at Southampton University, now at the State University of New York, who led the study.

    “But in this case, conscious awareness appears to have continued for up to three minutes into the period when the heart wasn’t beating, even though the brain typically shuts down within 20-30 seconds after the heart has stopped.

    “The man described everything that had happened in the room, but importantly, he heard two bleeps from a machine that makes a noise at three minute intervals. So we could time how long the experienced lasted for.

    “He seemed very credible and everything that he said had happened to him had actually happened.”

  5. 5
    Seversky says:

    Find an example of a mind existing independent of any physical substrate like a brain and we have evidence for an immaterial mind. Until then, the evidence points to it being a phenomenon of the physical brain.

  6. 6
    Axel says:

    Wrong, Seversky. The evidence from ‘out of body’ experiences, quite exhaustively monitored in terms of medical technology, is that a)there is a mind/body dualism, and b) that the brain acts as a kind of receiver for the extra-corporeal consciousness (which evidently stays in the proximity of the patient, for a while; NDEs suggest even their returning from non local regions), rather like a receiver for TV or radio waves.

    ‘here is a continuous exchange of objective information by means of electromagnetic fields (real photons) for radio, TV, mobile telephone, or laptop computer. We are unaware of the innumerable amounts of electromagnetic fields that constantly, day and night, exist around us and through us as well as through structures like walls and buildings. We only become aware of these electromagnetic informational fields the moment we use our mobile telephone or by switching on our radio, TV or laptop. What we receive is not inside the instrument, nor in the components, but thanks to the receiver the information from the electromagnetic fields becomes observable to our senses and hence perception occurs in our consciousness. The voice we hear in our telephone is not inside the telephone. The concert we hear in our radio is transmitted to our radio. The images and music we hear and see on TV is transmitted to our TV set. The internet is not located inside our laptop. We can receive at about the same time what is transmitted with the speed of light from a distance of some hundreds or thousands of miles. And if we switch off the TV set, the reception disappears, but the transmission continues. The information transmitted remains present within the electromagnetic fields. The connection has been interrupted, but it has not vanished and can still be received elsewhere by using another TV set. Again, we do not realize us the thousands of telephone calls, the hundreds of radio and TV transmissions, as well as the internet, coded as electromagnetic fields, that exist around us and through us.

    Could our brain be compared with the TV set that electromagnetic waves (photons) receives and transforms into image and sound, as well as with the TV camera that image and sound transforms into electromagnetic waves (photons)? This electromagnetic radiation holds the essence of all information, but is only conceivable to our senses by suited instruments like camera and TV set.

    The informational fields of our consciousness and of our memories, both evaluating by our experiences and by the informational imput from our sense organs during our lifetime, are present around us as electrical and/or magnetic fields [possible virtual photons? (18)], and these fields only become available to our waking consciousness through our functioning brain and other cells of our body.

    So we need a functioning brain to receive our consciousness into our waking consciousness. And as soon as the function of brain has been lost, like in clinical death or in brain death, with iso-electricity on the EEG, memories and consciousness do still exist, but the reception ability is lost. People can experience their consciousness outside their body, with the possibility of perception out and above their body, with identity, and with heightened awareness, attention, well-structured thought processes, memories and emotions. And they also can experience their consciousness in a dimension where past, present and future exist at the same moment, without time and space, and can be experienced as soon as attention has been directed to it (life review and preview), and even sometimes they come in contact with the “fields of consciousness” of deceased relatives. And later they can experience their conscious return into their body.

    Michael Shermer states that, in reality, all experience is mediated and produced by the brain, and that so-called paranormal phenomena like out-of body experiences are nothing more than neuronal events. The study of patients with NDE, however, clearly shows us that consciousness with memories, cognition, with emotion, self-identity, and perception out and above a life-less body is experienced during a period of a non-functioning brain (transient pancerebral anoxia).

    …. from :

    http://science-spirituality.bl...../Mysticism

    The piece below it is relevant and interesting, too.

    This man was clinically deeeed for five hours :

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aOuSGErXqAc

  7. 7
    Timmy says:

    Seversky:

    Find an example of a mind existing independent of any physical substrate like a brain and we have evidence for an immaterial mind. Until then, the evidence points to it being a phenomenon of the physical brain.

    Find an example of an atom that has free will or ingenuity. Until then, the evidence points to the mind being a phenomenon fundamentally independent of the physical brain.

  8. 8
    Mapou says:

    hplus Magazine:

    As a novel method of understanding the mind, we compared the patterns of neural stem cell activity with the growth patterns of meristematic cells in the cherry tree.

    Knowledge in the brain is indeed organized hierarchically, like a tree. This is something that psychologists have known for decades. For example, phonemes are combined to form vowels and consonants and these are combined to form syllables, words, phrases and whole sentences.

    Neurobiologists have also shown that various regions of the cortex are linked together to form a hierarchy. They’ve shown that neurons at the lower levels of the hierarchy respond to primitive shapes like edges, lines, etc. At higher levels, they find neurons that fire in the presence of more complex objects such as circles, squares, eyes, noses, etc. We even have the so-called “grandmother cells”, i.e., neurons that fire when a person is thinking of another. Those of us who watch TV have Angelina Jolie and Jennifer Aniston cells.

    That being said, this is where the tree metaphor should end. Examining “the growth patterns of meristematic cells in the cherry tree” to obtain insights into how the brain/mind works is silly to the extreme. Are these people serious or are they taking us for a ride? The hierarchy of the cortex is at the level of neurons, dendrites, synapses, axons and cell assemblies. Not stem cells. This is like saying that one needs to understand the molecular structure of metal pipes in other to understand plumbing.

    Materialists are destroying science, I swear.

  9. 9
    Axel says:

    Beautifully, beautifully expressed, Timmy! Impossibility in very principle has never seemed to strike the ever fanciful atheists – don’t mean to be rancorous, Sev – as a remotely plausible obstacle to their research endeavours. Almost as if they were modern-day alchemists.

    In fact, I suspect a belief in alchemy should be rated more highly on a CV than any form of a priori atheist belief.

  10. 10
    Piotr says:

    #7 Timmy,
    #9 Axel,

    Find an example of an atom that is wet. Until then, the evidence points to the wetness of water being fundamentally independent of its physical/chemical composition.

    If you can find a flaw in this reasoning, you should be able to understand why your own is flawed.

  11. 11
    Seversky says:

    Axel @ 9

    Other than in formal systems, I don’t deal in absolutes, either impossibility or certainty. I leave that to the neo-Paleyists. If you want to compare the evidence for the material mind to that for an immaterial mind, we can.

  12. 12
    Box says:

    Piotr: Find an example of an atom that is wet. Until then, the evidence points to the wetness of water being fundamentally independent of its physical/chemical composition.

    And of course wetness, colour, solidity and the like are properties comparable to consciousness ….

  13. 13
    Piotr says:

    Box,

    I didn’t say that. I only pointed out the obvious: there are purely physical properties not explicitly reducible to properties of elementary particles, atoms, or molecules. Therefore, you cannot legitimately argue that if atoms don’t carry around wee little pieces of consciousness, consciousness must be “immaterial” (whatever it means).

  14. 14
    skram says:

    Box, you can also complain that wetness is not quite the same type of thing as solidity. No one says they are, but they are both great examples of emergence in physics.

    No analogy is perfect, but I think Piotr’s point is pretty well made.

  15. 15
    Axel says:

    Your #11, Seversky

    Go ahead, Sev. Good to keep an open mind. I wasn’t aware you had ANY evidence for a material mind.

  16. 16
    bornagain77 says:

    Quite the logical argument. Wetness emerges therefore free will can, in principle, emerge from a material basis as well. Who could possibly refuse to accept the conclusion of such impeccable logic???
    Well, it turns out, to use logic one must presume a perspective outside the physical order so as to be able to ‘freely’ assent to the logic of the argument. Therefore, any ‘logical’ argument that the materialist/atheist uses to try to undermine the reality of free will undermines his own argument from within:

    Sam Harris’s Free Will: The Medial Pre-Frontal Cortex Did It – Martin Cothran – November 9, 2012
    Excerpt: There is something ironic about the position of thinkers like Harris on issues like this: they claim that their position is the result of the irresistible necessity of logic (in fact, they pride themselves on their logic). Their belief is the consequent, in a ground/consequent relation between their evidence and their conclusion. But their very stated position is that any mental state — including their position on this issue — is the effect of a physical, not logical cause.
    By their own logic, it isn’t logic that demands their assent to the claim that free will is an illusion, but the prior chemical state of their brains. The only condition under which we could possibly find their argument convincing is if they are not true. The claim that free will is an illusion requires the possibility that minds have the freedom to assent to a logical argument, a freedom denied by the claim itself. It is an assent that must, in order to remain logical and not physiological, presume a perspective outside the physical order.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....66221.html

    Of related note as to whether the atheist or the theist has the most ‘logical’ case for causality:

    A Professor’s Journey out of Nihilism: Why I am not an Atheist – University of Wyoming – J. Budziszewski
    Excerpt page12: “There were two great holes in the argument about the irrelevance of God. The first is that in order to attack free will, I supposed that I understood cause and effect; I supposed causation to be less mysterious than volition.
    If anything, it is the other way around. I can perceive a logical connection between premises and valid conclusions. I can perceive at least a rational connection between my willing to do something and my doing it. But between the apple and the earth, I can perceive no connection at all. Why does the apple fall? We don’t know. “But there is gravity,” you say. No, “gravity” is merely the name of the phenomenon, not its explanation. “But there are laws of gravity,” you say. No, the “laws” are not its explanation either; they are merely a more precise description of the thing to be explained, which remains as mysterious as before. For just this reason, philosophers of science are shy of the term “laws”; they prefer “lawlike regularities.” To call the equations of gravity “laws” and speak of the apple as “obeying” them is to speak as though, like the traffic laws, the “laws” of gravity are addressed to rational agents capable of conforming their wills to the command. This is cheating, because it makes mechanical causality (the more opaque of the two phenomena) seem like volition (the less). In my own way of thinking the cheating was even graver, because I attacked the less opaque in the name of the more.
    The other hole in my reasoning was cruder. If my imprisonment in a blind causality made my reasoning so unreliable that I couldn’t trust my beliefs, then by the same token I shouldn’t have trusted my beliefs about imprisonment in a blind causality. But in that case I had no business denying free will in the first place.”
    http://www.undergroundthomist......theist.pdf
    A Professor’s Journey out of Nihilism: Why I am not an Atheist – 2012 talk
    University of Wyoming J. Budziszewski
    http://veritas.org/talks/profe.....er_id=2231

  17. 17
    Axel says:

    ‘And of course wetness, colour, solidity and the like are properties comparable to consciousness ….’

    Box, you’re a star!

  18. 18
    Axel says:

    We know your luminal (to borrow one of MT’s sciency-type words) power, BA77!

  19. 19
    Axel says:

    ‘… emergence in physics.’

    What do you mean by emergence, Skram?

  20. 20
    Axel says:

    Comparing consciousness with properties shows how deficient in rationality you guys are.

    To use properties as a a metaphor for an entity so intangible, elusive and and mysterious, but a living, vibrant entity, nevertheless, is beyond absurd.

  21. 21
  22. 22
    Axel says:

    Well, Skram, emergent properties do not an emergent entity make, as I intimated in #20.

    There is disparate and disparate, isn’t there. I’m afraid ’emergence’ is just a tad too convenient for mixing apples and oranges, here.

    One could almost equate consciousness with life, itself. But, the problem is…. that’s no obstacle to materialists, even though they haven’t the first clue as to the nature or teleology of life, itself!

    To the Christian, inanimate matter doesn’t seem an obvious producer of life; or even a subtle one. We’re right back to our most primordial, religious conflict. Divine creation from nothing or …. the multiworld?

  23. 23
    Box says:

    BTW I have noticed that atheists stress the *poof* aspect of “emergent” properties in physics in order to draw an analogy with consciousness. However physicists don’t view e.g. the wetness of water as some ‘mysterious’ emergent poofery.

    Prof. Cosma Rohilla Shalizi: An emergent property is one which arises from the interaction of “lower-level” entities, none of which show it. No reductionism worth bothering with would be upset by this. The volume of a gas, or its pressure or temperature, even the number of molecules in the gas, are not properties of any individual molecule, though they depend on the properties of those individuals, and are entirely explicable from them; indeed, predictable well in advance.

    Does Shaliza hold that there are emergent properties in the strong sense “a higher-level property, which cannot be deduced from or explained by the properties of the lower-level entities.”? Well, he cannot name any.

    Prof. Cosma Rohilla Shalizi: This is almost troubling. The key is in “properties.” Reductionists — sane ones, anyhow — don’t deny that things interact; we spend a great deal of time worrying about those interactions. If by “properties” is meant just properties in the logical sense, then of course there are emergents, but so what? In this sense, pressure and volume are emergents.

    On the other hand, if we are allowed both our properties and our relations, then “emergence” is a notion with teeth. The existence of any emergent properties, in this strong sense, would mean that universal reductionism is false. (Though it might be true locally, or for all other properties, or still be the most useful means of guiding inquiry, etc.) But, as above, I don’t see how “X is an emergent property (strong sense)” could be established. At best we could say “X may be an emergent, since we have been unable to deduce it from the lower-level properties {Y}.”
    Does anyone know of any good candidates for this kind of emergent?

  24. 24
    bornagain77 says:

    Another interesting point in all this emergent business, is that, according to quantum mechanics, atoms emerge from Mind, (Mind with a capital M!).

    “I regard consciousness as fundamental. I regard matter as a derivative of consciousness. We cannot get behind consciousness. Everything that we talk about, everything that we regard as existing postulates consciousness.”
    – Max Planck (1858–1947), the originator of quantum theory, The Observer, London, January 25, 1931

    “As a man who has devoted his whole life to the most clear headed science, to the study of matter, I can tell you as a result of my research about atoms this much: There is no matter as such. All matter originates and exists only by virtue of a force which brings the particle of an atom to vibration and holds this most minute solar system of the atom together. We must assume behind this force the existence of a conscious and intelligent mind. This mind is the matrix of all matter.”
    Max Planck – Das Wesen der Materie [The Nature of Matter], speech at Florence, Italy (1944) (from Archiv zur Geschichte der Max-Planck-Gesellschaft, Abt. Va, Rep. 11 Planck, Nr. 1797)

    “Consciousness cannot be accounted for in physical terms. For consciousness is absolutely fundamental. It cannot be accounted for in terms of anything else.”
    (Schroedinger, Erwin. 1984. “General Scientific and Popular Papers,” in Collected Papers, Vol. 4. Vienna: Austrian Academy of Sciences. Friedr. Vieweg & Sohn, Braunschweig/Wiesbaden. p. 334.)

    “We wish to measure a temperature.,,,
    But in any case, no matter how far we calculate — to the mercury vessel, to the scale of the thermometer, to the retina, or into the brain, at some time we must say: and this is perceived by the observer. That is, we must always divide the world into two parts, the one being the observed system, the other the observer.”
    John von Neumann – 1903-1957 – The Mathematical Foundations of Quantum Mechanics, pp.418-21 – 1955

    “It will remain remarkable, in whatever way our future concepts may develop, that the very study of the external world led to the scientific conclusion that the content of the consciousness is the ultimate universal reality” –
    Eugene Wigner – (Remarks on the Mind-Body Question, Eugene Wigner, in Wheeler and Zurek, p.169) 1961 – received Nobel Prize in 1963 for ‘Quantum Symmetries’

    “It was not possible to formulate the laws (of quantum theory) in a fully consistent way without reference to consciousness.”
    Eugene Wigner (1902 -1995) from his collection of essays “Symmetries and Reflections – Scientific Essays”;

    Lecture 11: Decoherence and Hidden Variables – Scott Aaronson (MIT: quantum computation)
    Excerpt: “Look, we all have fun ridiculing the creationists who think the world sprang into existence on October 23, 4004 BC at 9AM (presumably Babylonian time), with the fossils already in the ground, light from distant stars heading toward us, etc. But if we accept the usual picture of quantum mechanics, then in a certain sense the situation is far worse: the world (as you experience it) might as well not have existed 10^-43 seconds ago!”
    http://www.scottaaronson.com/democritus/lec11.html

    Quantum Physics – (material reality does not exist until we look at it) – Dr. Quantum video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D1ezNvpFcJU

    Alain Aspect and Anton Zeilinger by Richard Conn Henry – Physics Professor – John Hopkins University
    Excerpt: Why do people cling with such ferocity to belief in a mind-independent reality? It is surely because if there is no such reality, then ultimately (as far as we can know) mind alone exists. And if mind is not a product of real matter, but rather is the creator of the “illusion” of material reality (which has, in fact, despite the materialists, been known to be the case, since the discovery of quantum mechanics in 1925), then a theistic view of our existence becomes the only rational alternative to solipsism (solipsism is the philosophical idea that only one’s own mind is sure to exist). (Dr. Henry’s referenced experiment and paper – “An experimental test of non-local realism” by S. Gröblacher et. al., Nature 446, 871, April 2007 – “To be or not to be local” by Alain Aspect, Nature 446, 866, April 2007 (Leggett’s Inequality: Verified, as of 2011, to 120 standard deviations)
    http://henry.pha.jhu.edu/aspect.html

    The Mental Universe – Richard Conn Henry – Professor of Physics John Hopkins University
    Excerpt: The only reality is mind and observations, but observations are not of things. To see the Universe as it really is, we must abandon our tendency to conceptualize observations as things.,,, Physicists shy away from the truth because the truth is so alien to everyday physics. A common way to evade the mental universe is to invoke “decoherence” – the notion that “the physical environment” is sufficient to create reality, independent of the human mind. Yet the idea that any irreversible act of amplification is necessary to collapse the wave function is known to be wrong: in “Renninger-type” experiments, the wave function is collapsed simply by your human mind seeing nothing. The universe is entirely mental,,,, The Universe is immaterial — mental and spiritual. Live, and enjoy.
    http://henry.pha.jhu.edu/The.mental.universe.pdf

  25. 25
    bornagain77 says:

    Of related note:

    Consciousness: What are some concise ways to convince people that consciousness is not an emergent property?
    Excerpt: First off, “emergent property” is one of those hand-wavey terms people like to throw around without much substance behind it. A basic definition is something like complex properties that results from the interaction of simple behaviors.
    That doesn’t actually answer the how of consciousness particularly well by itself.,,,
    How do you explain the subjective experience of “redness”, let’s say. Saying simply that it’s the correlate of the neurophysiological response to certain rods and cones sensitive to certain light waves does not answer the question of why there is a gestalt qualitative experience of red.
    – Marc Ettlinger, Research Neuroscientist, Department of Veterans Affairs
    http://www.quora.com/Conscious.....38;share=1

    David Chalmers is semi-famous for getting the ‘hard problem’ of consciousness (i.e. subjective experience) across to lay people in a very easy to understand manner:

    David Chalmers on Consciousness (Philosophical Zombies and the Hard Problem) – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NK1Yo6VbRoo

    Here are a few more comments, from atheists no less, that agree with Chalmers on the insolubility of ‘hard problem’ of consciousness,,

    ‘But the hard problem of consciousness is so hard that I can’t even imagine what kind of empirical findings would satisfactorily solve it. In fact, I don’t even know what kind of discovery would get us to first base, not to mention a home run.’
    David Barash – Materialist/Atheist Darwinian Psychologist
    – per UD News

    “We have so much confidence in our materialist assumptions (which are assumptions, not facts) that something like free will is denied in principle. Maybe it doesn’t exist, but I don’t really know that. Either way, it doesn’t matter because if free will and consciousness are just an illusion, they are the most seamless illusions ever created. Film maker James Cameron wishes he had special effects that good.”
    Matthew D. Lieberman – neuroscientist – materialist – UCLA professor

    Mind and Cosmos – Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature is Almost Certainly False – Thomas Nagel
    Excerpt: If materialism cannot accommodate consciousness and other mind-related aspects of reality, then we must abandon a purely materialist understanding of nature in general, extending to biology, evolutionary theory, and cosmology. Since minds are features of biological systems that have developed through evolution, the standard materialist version of evolutionary biology is fundamentally incomplete. And the cosmological history that led to the origin of life and the coming into existence of the conditions for evolution cannot be a merely materialist history.
    http://ukcatalogue.oup.com/pro.....9919758.do

    Here a Harvard neurosurgeon, a former atheist and who had a life changing Near Death Experience, comments on the ‘hard’ problem:

    The Science of Heaven by Dr. Eben Alexander – Nov. 18, 2012
    Can consciousness exist when the body fails? One neurosurgeon says he has seen it firsthand—and takes on critics who vehemently disagree.
    Excerpt: Many scientists who study consciousness would agree with me that, in fact, the hard problem of consciousness is probably the one question facing modern science that is arguably forever beyond our knowing, at least in terms of a physicalist model of how the brain might create consciousness. In fact, they would agree that the problem is so profound that we don’t even know how to phrase a scientific question addressing it. But if we must decide which produces which, modern physics is pushing us in precisely the opposite direction, suggesting that it is consciousness that is primary and matter secondary.
    http://www.thedailybeast.com/n.....eaven.html

    Basically, Materialists/Atheists, when they proclaim that consciousness is merely an ‘emergent property’ of the brain, are, in essence, saying that consciousness is merely an illusion. But as Chalmers pointed out in his video via Rene Decartes (i.e. ‘I think therefore I am’), the fact that we are conscious is the most concrete thing we can know about reality. And as Decartes first elucidated, we can reasonably doubt everything else we perceive about reality, but the fact that we ourselves are conscious, within this material reality we are trying to describe, is the one thing that we can doubt least about reality. In fact, if consciousness is held to be merely an illusion (merely ‘an emergent property’ of the brain), as atheists hold, then our ability to know anything else is real/true about reality is undermined from within by that presupposition (see Plantinga’s Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism and Bruce Gordon on Boltzmann’s Brain). This ‘undermined from within’ epistemological failure inherent within the atheist’s materialistic worldview is revealed in a rather humorous fashion here:

    The Confidence of Jerry Coyne – January 2014
    Excerpt: Well and good. But then halfway through this peroration, we have as an aside the confession that yes, okay, it’s quite possible given materialist premises that “our sense of self is a neuronal illusion.” At which point the entire edifice suddenly looks terribly wobbly — because who, exactly, is doing all of this forging and shaping and purpose-creating if Jerry Coyne, as I understand him (and I assume he understands himself) quite possibly does not actually exist at all? The theme of his argument is the crucial importance of human agency under eliminative materialism, but if under materialist premises the actual agent is quite possibly a fiction, then who exactly is this I who “reads” and “learns” and “teaches,” and why in the universe’s name should my illusory self believe Coyne’s bold proclamation that his illusory self’s purposes are somehow “real” and worthy of devotion and pursuit? (Let alone that they’re morally significant: But more on that below.)
    http://douthat.blogs.nytimes.c.....&_r=0

    William J Murray gets the basic point of the necessity of the ‘primacy of consciousness’ across more clearly than anyone else I’ve ever read:

    “In any philosophy of reality that is not ultimately self-defeating or internally contradictory, mind – unlabeled as anything else, matter or spiritual – must be primary. What is “matter” and what is “conceptual” and what is “spiritual” can only be organized from mind. Mind controls what is perceived, how it is perceived, and how those percepts are labeled and organized. Mind must be postulated as the unobserved observer, the uncaused cause simply to avoid a self-negating, self-conflicting worldview. It is the necessary postulate of all necessary postulates, because nothing else can come first. To say anything else comes first requires mind to consider and argue that case and then believe it to be true, demonstrating that without mind, you could not believe that mind is not primary in the first place.”
    – William J. Murray

  26. 26
    Piotr says:

    Box,

    Did I say that wetness was inexplicable or mysteriously poofed into existence? Of course it results from the statistical behaviour of a vast number of interacting H2O molecules.

    So what? It doesn’t change anything in my argument. A single molecule is not wet, not even a little. Nor are two or three, or a hundred molecules. “Deducing” it from lower-level properties is hardly as easy as deducing the pressure or temperature of a gas, since molecular interactions in liquid water are far more complex, but it’s doable, in principle.

    The emergent behaviour of a system MUCH more complicated than a volume of water is of course still more difficult to compute (or impossible to compute in practice).

  27. 27
    bornagain77 says:

    and wetness is impossible to describe in the first place without the subjective experience of consciousness to tell you what it feels like to be wet!

    Go figure!

  28. 28
    Box says:

    Piotr: So what? It doesn’t change anything in my argument.

    You are mistaken. Of course it does.
    As I understand it, physicists don’t regard water and all other phenomena in everyday life as emergent in the strong sense. They believe that the fundamental laws (Schroedinger’s equation for the interaction of hydrogen and oxygen) describe what we see everyday.

    Piotr: The emergent behaviour of a system MUCH more complicated than a volume of water are of course still more difficult to compute (or impossible to compute in practice).

    Sure, but a purely physical system is in principle reducible to fundamental laws and parts. And they cannot cause what is not entirely explicable from them. “Anything can happen” doesn’t fly.
    [edit:] IOW the *poof* aspect in order to ‘explain’ consciousness isn’t there.

  29. 29

    Cognitive science is in need of new theory to help conceptualize brain development. I found this part of it to be much more interesting than I at first thought it would be:

    4.2 Neural stem cells and the meristematic cells

    Once a cherry tree has matured, it appears to have stopped growing. This is because as the tree is buffeted by winds and damaged by insects over the years, only the strong branches survive, and the number of growing point cells ? the cells able to produce new buds ?continues to decrease. However, even an old tree with a severely depleted number of meristematic cells continues every spring to produce a small number of buds ( which then bloom into flowers), puts out fresh green leaves, and thus continues to grow for as long as it lives. We can interpret this in terms of the brain by saying that although the number of neural stem cells decreases with age, the brain, just like the cherry blossom tree, continues to put out new ‘buds’, so to speak, and continues to develop as long as it lives.

    Over the years, substantial effort has been devoted to understanding the extremely complex functions of the brain. Perhaps this is because we human beings see ourselves as special organisms, and therefore believe that we must have special qualities or mechanisms. However, if we treat human beings as just one type of organism, we can see that all living creatures? including plants, animals, fungus and viruses – have mechanisms in common. In other words, from birth until death, at all times, every organism recognizes its self and its non-self and possesses undifferentiated growth points. Those growth points, which have finished differentiating, leave traces of themselves behind as memories, and as this process is repeated, the memories one possesses as one’s ‘self’ change over time. It is thought that these growth points, (which are able to differentiate), and memories, (which have been created from these differentiated growth points,) are the building blocks of life.

    Through asymmetric division, neural stem cells, which are the brain’s growth points, grow into two different daughter cells: a new neural stem cell and a nerve cell. Because of the very large number of differentiating neural stem cells, the brain can play an important role as an organ (the neuron network structure) – namely, the continuous creation of an individual’s personality by means of the constant differentiation of neural stem cells into nerve cells, in combination with information gleaned from the outside environment and accumulated memories. Once these nerve cells have finished their duties, the glial cells are left as memories. In the meantime, the next group of neural stem cells begins to differentiate; thus the neuron network is constantly updated and the brain keeps developing, just like a cherry tree.

    Again, this concept is easier to understand if we liken the brain to a cherry blossom tree. A cherry blossom tree growing outdoors is constantly subject to natural stimuli; it is buffeted by wind and exposed to the sun and rain. The countless number of growth point cells in the buds on the tree’s branches sense light and temperature, differentiate, and put out buds, flowers, and leaves. In this way, the new branches that have grown over the years remain as ‘memories’, while new meristematic cells are produced. These growth cells gather together and eventually form a whole cherry tree, from the thick trunk to the numerous small branches growing out from it, that keeps growing. In short, both the brain and the cherry tree continuously change and develop, without limit.

  30. 30
    skram says:

    Box: BTW I have noticed that atheists stress the *poof* aspect of “emergent” properties in physics in order to draw an analogy with consciousness. However physicists don’t view e.g. the wetness of water as some ‘mysterious’ emergent poofery.

    I am a physicist, Box, and I disagree with Shalizi. There are much stronger examples of emergence in physics than wetness or pressure.

    For example, take rigidity, which means resistance to certain static deformations, an ability to keep shape. Some substances have this property and we call them solids. Other substances don’t (liquids and gases). Solids can be made of molecules or of atoms, and the bonding interactions between them can be of a variety of types: ionic, covalent, van-der-Waals, they all can be solids. So rigidity goes way beyond the details of interactions.

    At the same time, the same substance may have rigidity in one state (ice) and lack in another (water). Thus rigidity may not be determined by the properties of the atoms or molecules themselves (as then ice and water would have to be either both rigid or both not rigid).

    In fact, it turns out that rigidity is directly related to a common property of solids: they break the rotational symmetry of space. Crystals have special directions along which their atoms are aligned. These directions are chosen spontaneously during the growth of the crystal. Liquids and gases, on the other hand, are isotropic. This turns out to be the crucial difference explaining the presence of rigidity in solids and its lack in liquids and gases.

    This is what I call a good example of emergence. No amount of information about the constituents themselves (atoms or molecules) is enough to determine the rigidity of a substance. One needs knowledge about broken rotational symmetry, which goes beyond that.

    There are other examples of such “poof”-type emergence: superfluidity (the flow of a fluid with no friction) and superconductivity (a similar effect with an electric current). Richard Feynman famously struggled with the problem of superconductivity, trying to obtain it from particle interactions alone, and failing spectacularly. As far as he was concerned, superconductivity was pure magic! Poof!

  31. 31
    mike1962 says:

    Box @ 23,

    Right. When I go to the Chinese circus in Las Vegas all kinds of interesting effects emerge from the individual players. But none is inexplicable given the nature of participants and their interactions. OTOH, nobody can even define what consciousness is apart from their own subjective — me first — point of view. Try explaining what your consciousness is to a robot. 🙂

    A few musical notes come to mind…

    Me me me me me me.

    Primarily so.

    The robot stands befuddled.

  32. 32
    Box says:

    skram: Richard Feynman famously struggled with the problem of superconductivity, trying to obtain it from particle interactions alone, and failing spectacularly. As far as he was concerned, superconductivity was pure magic! Poof!

    For clarity. This is (also) your position? You – as a physician – don’t agree with Shalizi and believe that properties magically appear?
    Can you quote Feynman stating that he believes, as you claim, in such poofery?

  33. 33
    skram says:

    I am kidding, Box, just kidding. I do not consider superconductivity to be magic.

    Superconductivity is no longer considered magic so because we now have a good understanding of the phenomenon. There is a scientific theory of how electric currents are able to flow with no resistance through a piece of a superconductor. Bardeen, Cooper, and Schrieffer published it in 1957 and received a Nobel Prize for that work in 1972. (Anderson subsequently did some important work elucidating certain aspects of superconductivity that weren’t treated accurately by the BCS.)

    However, prior to 1950 (when a precursor theory by Ginzburg and Landau appeared), you could as well say that superconductivity is magic. There was no explanation for it. Indeed, how could an electronic fluid flow with no resistance through a crystal when we know that every object encounters some sort of friction when it moves?

    So I was kidding, but there was a grain of truth in that joke.

  34. 34
    wallstreeter43 says:

    I notice that the Atheist/materialists/naturalists conveniently ignored the veridical nde example from parnia’s study that I gave .hmmmm I wonder why .
    Skram do you wonder why as well 😉

  35. 35
    wallstreeter43 says:

    Severski said :””Find an example of a mind existing independent of any physical substrate like a brain and we have evidence for an immaterial mind. Until then, the evidence points to it being a phenomenon of the physical brain.””

    I guess if you want to ignore my post on the parnia aware study , you can but this is exactly where the evidence points to . Now u might not like it but it doesn’t change the evidence does it. Maybe it’s better if you ignore evidences like these as it would allow you to cling more efficiently to your atheistic/materialistic faith

  36. 36
    wallstreeter43 says:

    Axel said “”Wrong, Seversky. The evidence from ‘out of body’ experiences, quite exhaustively monitored in terms of medical technology, is that a)there is a mind/body dualism, and b) that the brain acts as a kind of receiver for the extra-corporeal consciousness (which evidently stays in the proximity of the patient, for a while; NDEs suggest even their returning from non local regions), rather like a receiver for TV or radio waves.””

    Axel this is exactly what nde researcher /cardiologist Doctor Pim Van Lommel believes is happening .

    http://iands.org/research/impo.....?showall=1

    With this new concept about consciousness and the mind-brain relation all reported elements of an NDE during cardiac arrest could be explained. This concept is also compatible with the non-local interconnectedness with fields of consciousness of other persons in phase-space.

    Following an NDE most people, often to their own amazement and confusion, experience an enhanced intuitive sensibility, like clairvoyance and clairaudience, or prognostic dreams, in which they “dream” about future events. In people with an NDE the functional receiving capacity seems to be permanently enhanced. When you compare this with a TV set, you receive not only Channel 1, the transmission of your personal consciousness, but simultaneously Channels 2, 3 and 4 with aspects of consciousness of others. This remote, non-local communication seems to have been demonstrated scientifically by positioning subject pairs in two separate Faraday chambers, which effectively rules out any electromagnetic transfer mechanism.

    A visual pattern-reversal stimulus is used to elicit visual evoked responses in the EEG registration of the stimulated subject, and this was instantaneously received by the non-stimulated subject resulting in an analogous neural event with a similar brain wave morphology, or transferred potentials, as revealed on the EEG.43,44

  37. 37
    Seversky says:

    NDE/OBEs are anecdotal at best. They cannot be replicated reliably. There is no way to verify the experience took place during the time when there was no detectable brain activity. How do we no it didn’t happen during the periods immediately before or immediately after the period of no brain function when the patient was unconscious? And if EEGs are not sensitive enough to detect deep brain function how do we know there was no brain activity when they were flatlined? You people are way too credulous.

    As for non-local communication, consciousness fields, the brain as a transceiver, that’s Treknobabble. And appealing half-baked notions of quantum physics to explain your pet theory has become almost the hallmark of a crank.

  38. 38
    gpuccio says:

    Piotr:

    Hi, how are you?

    I would like to add some thoughts about the problem of “explaining” consciousness as an “emergent property” of matter.

    The problem is, IMO, that it’s no explanation at all.

    You say:

    “So what? It doesn’t change anything in my argument. A single molecule is not wet, not even a little. Nor are two or three, or a hundred molecules. “Deducing” it from lower-level properties is hardly as easy as deducing the pressure or temperature of a gas, since molecular interactions in liquid water are far more complex, but it’s doable, in principle.

    The emergent behaviour of a system MUCH more complicated than a volume of water is of course still more difficult to compute (or impossible to compute in practice).”

    And I agree. Wetness is an emergent behaviour which can be traced to known physical laws. Other emergent behaviours could be more complex, and their explanation in terma of known physical laws, as you say, could be very difficult or even potentially impossible, in detail, at the level of computation.

    I agree.

    But in extending those thoughts to a possible explanation of consciousness, there is a serious fallacy, a completely unwarranted generalization.

    Because, in the case of wetness, or any other known “emergent property”, the simple fact is that the property is a behaviour of material objects, and therefore potentially explainable by known material laws, which describe how material objects behave. (Thank you for using the word “behaviour” instead of “property”, that makes the reasoning much easier: that’s why I like linguists! 🙂 ).

    IOWs, laws describing the behaviour of material systems can potentially explain observed behaviours of material systems, if the correct computational connection can be found. Even when the computation is difficult, or beyond any realistic power, even then we can find definite hints that such a computation can exist.

    But the problem with consciousness is that it is not the observed behaviour of a material system. Subjective experiences are a basic component of our worldview, because we observe them directly in our own personal consciousness. In a sense, the opposite is true. All behavious of material objects are in reality observed as conscious experiences.

    That’s why Chalmers makes his important distinction between the easy problem of consciousness and the hard problem of consciousness. The easy problem (which in reality is not easy at all) is about behaviours: can I explain some behaviours of conscious beings in terms of behaviours of non conscious systems? That comparison is perfectly legit. If a conscious being is able to detect an object from the background in the seeing process, it is perfectly legitimate to ask whether a non conscious algorithm can do the same.

    The Turing test itself is about behaviours.

    But all those computational tests about behaviours can tell us nothing about consciousness itself. There is no known physical laws which is connected to the existence of subjectivity. Therefore, no computation about configurations of matter can explain subjectivity.

    The only “evidence” for an origin of subjectivity from a material configuration would be the empirical emergence of true, undeniable subjectivity from a new material configuration of objects, created by us. IOWs, a machine which can really pass any kind of Turing test, so that an inference of consciousness for the machine itself becomes really warranted. ID theory is of great help here: I really believe that a machine which can generate tons of new, original dFSCI, exactly as we can, would be a real “pass” for the Turing test. At the same time, I don’t believe that such a thing will ever happen.

    As far as we know, there is absolutely no hint that any configuration of matter can express any subjectivity. Therefore, consciousness remains an observed phenomenon which is essentially different from matter:

    a) matter can be observed in consciousness, and the same material reality can be observed in a similar way by different conscious beings. IOWs, matter is about “objects”.

    b) consciousness can be observed in consciousness, but conscious events can be observed only by the subject who experiences them. IOWs, consciousness is about “subjects”.

    That is a big difference. Explaining the existence of subjective experiences by observations about objects is completely different from explaining, by computation, an observed objective behaviour (“emergent property) as the result of other simpler observed objective behaviours.

  39. 39
    gpuccio says:

    Seversky:

    There are certainly many hallmarks of a dogmatic biased selective hyperskeptic. You probably exhibit them all.

  40. 40
    wallstreeter43 says:

    Seversky said “”NDE/OBEs are anecdotal at best. They cannot be replicated reliably. There is no way to verify the experience took place during the time when there was no detectable brain activity. “”

    Either you are intentionally ignoring the aware study I posted or you just seem to have a black out when going over the post and the link to the study that was also published in a respectable peer reviewed journal in England .

    Seversky this is exactly what was shown with the 57 year old social worker .

    And about your claim that they aren’t reliable because they can’t be replicated in a. Laboratory ? That’s plain ole scientism which even atheist sinnologist professor Joseph Needham warned against as being much too narrow of a worldview to determine all truths ..

    The aware study was the first time it was shown medically to have happened at a time when the brain isn’t functioning (even with the 39 second deep brain surge occurring )

    Seversky it seems like ur comfortable with being an atheist , so I won’t push it by speaking the truth 😉

    The evidence however keeps getting better every year towards the conclusion that these Nde’s can’t be explained by the brain . Please don’t study. Eridical Nde’s anymore be used u won’t like what u will read.

    One day when ur ready for the truth it will still be there waiting for you. For now u can be in denial just as u probably claim young earth creationists are in denial 😉

    This mist he what atheists call freethinking 😉

  41. 41
    wallstreeter43 says:

    Gcuppio said
    “”Seversky:

    There are certainly many hallmarks of a dogmatic biased selective hyperskeptic. You probably exhibit them all.””

    Bingo , and David Koresh would be supremely proud at how Seversky has selectively approached the evidence 😉

  42. 42
    wallstreeter43 says:

    Seversky said “”NDE/OBEs are anecdotal at best. They cannot be replicated reliably. There is no way to verify the experience took place during the time when there was no detectable brain activity. How do we no it didn’t happen during the periods immediately before or immediately after the period of no brain function when the patient was unconscious? And if EEGs are not sensitive enough to detect deep brain function how do we know there was no brain activity when they were flatlined? You people are way too credulous.””

    Seversky I even gave you the deep brain surge . The problem here is even if it can somehow account for conscious activity we do know that they last for only 30 seconds , then bye bye function. Parnia knew about the 2013 find of deep brain surge and probably accounted for this when he said in his study that they now know that after the heart stops functioning the brain active stops 30 seconds after .

    You see my friend we aren’t being credulous . Your choosing to ignore the fact that I even gave u the deep brain surge . Again your ignoring this point . The problem is going to keep getting worse for materialist/atheists.

    I still recall a well known atheist site (not gonna name names ) whose followers were in a frenzy . The article writer told them to calm down because this example doesn’t prove life after death, it only shows that a person can have conscious awareness without a functioning brain .

    To that I can only shake my head and say lolololololololololololol

  43. 43
    Piotr says:

    gpuccio:

    I would like to add some thoughts about the problem of “explaining” consciousness as an “emergent property” of matter.

    The problem is, IMO, that it’s no explanation at all.

    Of course it isn’t. It isn’t the explanation of redness, wetness, solidity, etc., either. It’s only a constatation you can make after the fact: once you know what solidity is and where it comes from, in physical terms, you can show that it is not a property of atoms.

    I’m not saying or implying I can explain consciousness; I merely point out that you can’t rule out a naturalistic origin of consciousness using Timmy’s naive argument in #7.

    Difficulties resulting from circular self-reference (conscious beings having “direct” access only to their own consciousness, including the awareness of being aware) don’t demonstrate that consciousness must be extraphysical. They only reflect our epistemological limitations. But to observe is not the same as to experience. We can measure the spin of an electron, but does anyone ask what it feels to have a spin of 1/2? (If consciousness is a fundamental component of the Universe, as Whitehead would have had it, perhaps this kind of experience is important for the electron.) I can observe effects which I ascribe to other people’s consciousness.

    I’m pretty sure other animals are conscious too, and experience emotions. Right now I’m watching my dog exhibiting immense joy at the news (communicated to her verbally, and evidently understood in her possibly limited canine way) that she’s gonna be taken out for a walk. It all cases known to me, however, observable manifestations of consciousness require the presence of a functioning physical brain.

  44. 44
    gpuccio says:

    Piotr:

    “I’m pretty sure other animals are conscious too, and experience emotions.”

    I agree.I prefer cats, but I can accept that dogs are conscious too! 🙂

    “In all cases known to me, however, observable manifestations of consciousness require the presence of a functioning physical brain.”

    This is not really an argument. First of all it is compatible with physical brains being interfaces for the manifestation of consciousness at the physical level. Second, many manifestations of consciousness can be at other levels. I would remind you that NDEs are, at least, controversial. The same could be said for mystical experiences. And so on.

    “But to observe is not the same as to experience. We can measure the spin of an electron, but does anyone ask what it feels to have a spin of 1/2? ”

    My point is: we observe consciousness in ourselves. We infer it in others. Instead, we observe matter through our consciousness, and others (if we accept the basic inference that they are conscious) seem to observe it in a generally shared modality.

    The only direct observation of consciousness is our personal one.

    Maybe the electron is conscious too. There are models of that kind, but they are different from the so called “materialistic” explanations of consciousness as the result of a special configuration of objective, non conscious matter.

    My point is simple: explaining consciousness as a configuration of non conscious elements (IOWs as the result of am objective structure) is a false argument, a fallacy doomed from the beginning. It is no explanation, and never will be.

  45. 45
    Piotr says:

    My point is: we observe consciousness in ourselves. We infer it in others. Instead, we observe matter through our consciousness, and others (if e accept the basic inference that they are conscious) seem to observe it in a generally shared modality.

    It’s still an epistemological problem. It’s about how we learn things about the universe. But the universe existed without us and will continue to exists when we are gone. Most of it is not being observed by anybody anyway, and it’s existence doesn’t depend on whether we (or other conscious beings) observe it, let alone how we do it.

    My point is simple: explaining consciousness as a configuration of non conscious elements (IOWs as the result of am objective structure) is a false argument, a fallacy doomed from the beginning. It is no explanation, and never will be.

    So it may be a pseudo-problem resulting from mixing up different categories. Our models of physical phenomena are not the phenomena themselves. Our models of consciousness (whetever they might be) will always be different from consciousness itself, even if they are correct (that is, if they adequately describe and explain the objectively observable aspects of consciousness). We have no “ultimate” knowledge of what spacetime is, what the electic charge is, what mass and energy “really” are, but we have operational models plus ways and means to make them better. I can live with that.

  46. 46
    kairosfocus says:

    Folks, Computation is not contemplation and to try to get from the first to the second by material mechanisms under chance and necessity is to try to get North by heading West; cf. my argument here. KF

  47. 47
    gpuccio says:

    Piotr:

    I am afraid I am losing you. You say:

    “It’s still an epistemological problem. It’s about how we learn things about the universe. But the universe existed without us and will continue to exists when we are gone. Most of it is not being observed by anybody anyway, and it’s existence doesn’t depend on whether we (or other conscious beings) observe it, let alone how we do it.”

    Of course it is an epistemological problem. I thought we were discussing explanations. Explanations are cognitive entities. I was trying to say what is, IMO, a good epistemology, and what is not.

    That the universe exists even if we do not observe it is rather obvious. I am not a solipsist. And so? What has that to do with our epistemological problem (explaining consciousness)?

    “So it may be a pseudo-problem resulting from mixing up different categories.”

    That is exactly my point. But it is not a “pseudo-problem”. Materialists are trying all the time to explain consciousness as the result of configurations of non conscious matter, as an “emergent property” of a material structure. It’s them who are mixing up different categories. Not I.

    You say:

    “Our models of consciousness (whatever they might be) will always be different from consciousness itself, even if they are correct (that is, if they adequately describe and explain the objectively observable aspects of consciousness).”

    Sure. The map is not the territory. It never is. We agree.

    But the problem is exactly: do our maps “adequately describe and explain” the territory, for our cognitive purposes? There are good maps and bad maps. Distinguishing between them is the basic “epistemological problem” of human cognition. My point is simple: trying to explain consciousness as a result of the configuration of matter, IOWs as an “emergent property” of the objective structure, is a very bad way to build a map of that specific territory.

    You say:

    “We have no “ultimate” knowledge of what spacetime is, what the electric charge is, what mass and energy “really” are, but we have operational models plus ways and means to make them better.”

    We have no “ultimate” knowledge of anything. I absolutely agree. But sometimes we can explain some things in terms of other things. That’s what we do in science. That’s what materialists try to do with reductionist theories of consciousness. The problem is, some explanations “in terms of” are correct, others are not. You know my opinion about the explanations we have been discussing here (“emergent property”, and so on).

    You say:

    “I can live with that.”

    I say: I can live with good epistemology, I like it a lot, even if it gives me no “ultimate” knowledge, indeed because of that. Maybe I will look for “ultimates” in other places.

    But, definitely, I cannot live with bad epistemology. Not well, anyway.

  48. 48
    Piotr says:

    gpuccio:

    But the problem is exactly: do our maps “adequately describe and explain” the territory, for our cognitive purposes? There are good maps and bad maps. Distinguishing between them is the basic “epistemological problem” of human cognition. My point is simple: trying to explain consciousness as a result of the configuration of matter, IOWs as an “emergent property” of the objective structure, is a very bad way to build a map of that specific territory.

    Consciousness as a phenomenon (observable behaviour), or consciousness as an introspective experience? They may be different sides of the same coin, but it’s bad epistemology to conflate them. I can’t see why the phenomenon of consciousness shouldn’t turn out to be an emergent product of the physical activity of a sufficiently complex nervous system. As for introspection, I can only speak for myself, but my own subjective consciousness has never, as far as I’m aware, been out of my body; I have never shared anyone else’s consciousness; I can’t communicate with other people telepathetically without using some material medium; I have no memories older than myself. All that makes mind/matter dualism and the possibility of disembodied consciousness unlikely to me.

  49. 49
    JDH says:

    Seversky,

    Please, I beg of you stop making comments which are not well thought out. I don’t understand why you can’t see how self-contradictory or inane they are. Are you deliberately trying to look like you are not that smart?

    1. Wallstreeter43 presents a story whose whole point is that the mind existed when the material brain ( to our best understanding ) could NOT be functioning ). You’re response is: “Find an example of a mind existing independent of any physical substrate like a brain”

    To make it clearer – Wallstreeter43 said, “Here is evidence of A”. And you’re supposed negative show stopping response was “Find an example of A”. Do you understand how foolish that seems to me? You can choose to disagree with the evidence and the conclusions – but don’t say there is no evidence.

    Then someone points that the given experiment was, evidence for, “a mind existing independent of any physical substrate like a brain”.

    Your response was:
    “NDE/OBEs are anecdotal at best. They cannot be replicated reliably.”

    What the hell do you mean by this statement? Do you mean that we should conduct controlled NDE experiments???? How do you propose to do this?

    There are many, many things in life that preclude a scientific experiment. If you choose to only believe evidence which comes from controlled experiments, you are walling yourself off from much of life.

  50. 50
    gpuccio says:

    Piotr:

    I respect your opinions, but:

    a) Observable behaviour is not “consciousness as a phenomen”. It is behaviour, from which we may infer consciousness (or not).

    b) By definition consciousness is observed only as “an introspective experience”.

    c) We must be clear in distinguishing between observation and inference:

    – a behaviour is observed. We never know directly if that behaviour is derived from conscious experiences or not, but we can make inferences about that.

    – our personal conscious experiences are directly observed by ourselves. That’s how we know that consciousness exists, that it is a fact.

    – the personal experiences of others (other human beings, animals, and so on) are inferred. Although that inference is very strong and reliable (certainly for other humans), it is an inference just the same. An inference by analogy, on which all our map of reality is built.

    – our personal experience of consciousness is a precious source of information about consciousness itself. Moreover, if we accept the basic inference that other humans are conscious too (and I certainly do), we can use a lot of information coming from the subjective experiences of others. So, observables about consciousness, either directly perceived by ourselves or derived for others’perceptions, are many and important.

    – therefore, observables about consciousness are not limited to the esxistence of subjective experiences, but they include precious information about many different conscious states and experiences.

    – in that sense, the fact that one has not experienced all those states does not mean that one cannot get information about those states, which were observed by others. So, NDEs, for example, make up a very important body of information about well documanted conscious experiences, and only hyperskeptics like Seversky can easily dismiss them without serious consideration.

    – many religious experiences, shared by many people, give important information about the nature and laws of consciousness. The simple fact that some people are not interested in those facts does not in any way limit the importance and relevance of that information.

    However, as I have said, you are perfectly entitled to decide what is likely or unlikely for you. I believe that our world view is a personal choice, strongly dependent on our free will. We choose our map, in the end, and that choice is so personal and precious that we must always wholly respect it in all.

  51. 51
    Piotr says:

    gpuccio,

    I have work to do right now, so I’ll probably have to limit my participation in this discussion. I’ll just remark that a lot of, arguably most, scientific observation is of an indirect, inferential nature. We don’t, in general, directly observe elementary particles, chemical bonds, gravitational fields, the Earth’s core, extrasolar planets, chemical elements in the Sun’s atmosphere, supermassive black holes in galactic nuclei, etc. We observe their effects (the physical evidence) and make reasonable inferences. I don’t understand what’s so special about the direct inaccessibility of (other people’s) consciousness.

    But as I said, I’m a little busy at the moment, so let’s simply agree to disagree politely. If I find the time, I may return to this thread later on.

  52. 52
    gpuccio says:

    Piotr:

    OK, let’s disagree politely. 🙂

    If I were not afraid to steal your time, I would say that the problem is not “the direct inaccessibility of (other people’s) consciousness”, but rather “the direct accessibility of our consciousness, and its contents, to ourselves as subjects”.

    That’s the “hard problem of consciousness” that Chalmers refers to: why do subjective experiences exist, what is a subject? That is rather special, I would say…

    But OK, please go back to your duties. It has always been a pleasure for me to discuss with you, and always will be. But I am not greedy! 🙂

  53. 53
    RDFish says:

    I agree with gpuccio, rather than Piotr, regarding the hard problem. Not only do we lack a theory of consciousness, but we can’t begin to imagine what such a theory would look like.

    That isn’t true for many other mysteries: We still don’t understand how proteins fold, but we’ve made steady progress on that, and there are candidate mechanisms that could turn out to be responsible. We don’t understand how life could arise from non-life, but there are plenty of scenarios that we could vaguely imagine to account for it. In contrast, nobody has the ability to even imagine how neural activity – or anything else – could “give rise to” conscious experience.

    The interesting point regarding mind and matter that very few people acknowledge is this: Complex mechanisms (including living things, or universal fine-tuning) do not seem to arise without the action of a conscious mind, and minds do not seem to arise without the action of complex mechanisms. We have no clue how exquisitely complex biological mechanisms (such as our brains) could arise by means of the physical forces and processes of which we’re currently aware, and we likewise have no clue how information – the content of conscious thought – could possibly be stored, retrieved, and processed without complex physical processes.

    Most people (such as gpuccio) ignore the latter observation, and decide (for whatever reason) that mind could exist prior to and independently of mechanism. Other people ignore the former observation and decide that abiogenesis and evolutionary theory can fully account for biological complexity, although there is no evidence that this is the case.

    I believe that both observations are true, and important, and that together they present a profound mystery that we are incapable of understanding. There are other deep mysteries that may remain incomprehensible to us: In particular, we cannot understand how a fermion or a boson can be both a particle and a wave, which means we cannot understand what it is the world is made up of. Our minds can parse the universe that we can sense, and abstract from that in many ways too, but at some point we’re like squirrels trying to make sense of quantum physics: Our brains just aren’t up to it.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  54. 54
    mike1962 says:

    RDFish @ 53,

    Excellent post. (Although I’m not sure gpuccio denies the latter observation.)

    “I believe that both observations are true, and important, and that together they illuminate a profound mystery that we are incapable of understanding.”

    Indeed. In my view, the mystery must be as profound as existence itself, which necessarily must transcend temporality. That makes it beyond reason. The foundation of reality on which all we know and can describe rationality cannot itself be something that can be described rationality.

  55. 55
    Box says:

    RDFIsh: (…) and we likewise have no clue how information – the content of conscious thought – could possibly be stored, retrieved, and processed without complex physical processes.

    Quite the contrary: we do have a clue. In fact, we have don’t have clue how physical processes – which don’t give a damn about coherency, logic, overview, wisdom etc. – could possibly be responsible for storing, retrieving and processing information – the content of conscious thought.

    IOW if blind physical processes are behind the steering wheel how can we possibly have – as J.Eccles termed it – a unity of conscious experience?

  56. 56
    Me_Think says:

    RDFish @ 53

    I agree with gpuccio, rather than Piotr, regarding the hard problem. Not only do we lack a theory of consciousness, but we can’t begin to imagine what such a theory would look like.

    We know P300 waves in brain are responsible for consciousness. Infants EEG studies have shown consciousness begins at 5 months. The slow progress in consciousness research is not because there is no theory, it is because not many healthy people allow scientists to fiddle with their brains 🙂

  57. 57
    RDFish says:

    Hi Box,

    Quite the contrary: we do have a clue.

    Ok, then, please tell us what is the clue? How can information be stored and processed without physical mechanism?

    We know a tremendous amount about how information can be stored and processed with physical mechanism of course – so much, in fact, that we can build machines that do it all by themselves.

    IOW if blind physical processes are behind the steering wheel how can we possibly have – as J.Eccles termed it – a unity of conscious experience?

    Dr. Eccles didn’t come up with that, I’m afraid – Kant talked about it just that way (or “unity of apperception”) about 150 years earlier, and many others (like Descsartes and Leibniz) before him. In any event, as I said, the origin and nature of conscious experience is fully mysterious, and Eccle’s stab at dualism didn’t help matters any.

    I have a feeling you believe dualism does solve the problem; if that’s the case, perhaps you could just say which flavor of dualism you favor?

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  58. 58
    RDFish says:

    Hi Me_Think,

    We know P300 waves in brain are responsible for consciousness.

    Well, no we don’t. We have identified various physiological correlates of consciousness, but that does not by any means suggest that any one of them is “responsible” for consciousness.

    Infants EEG studies have shown consciousness begins at 5 months.

    For one thing, consciousness does not appear to be a binary property. What do EEG studies tell us about when fish consciousness begins? (hint: nothing, because we have no idea how EEGs causally relate to conscious experience)

    The slow progress in consciousness research is not because there is no theory,…

    Actually, I am saying the reverse is the case 🙂

    …it is because not many healthy people allow scientists to fiddle with their brains 🙂

    It certainly would be faster that way, yes. Still, imagine we come to understand every single detail about how neural activity maps to cognition, and the reverse. That would enable us to read people’s thoughts by instrumenting their brains, but it still wouldn’t answer the question here: Why don’t these physical processes simply proceed like all others, without phenomenal experience? Why couldn’t they produce the same mental behaviors and abilities, but without the inner light of conscious awareness? Why aren’t we philosophical zombies?

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  59. 59
    Robert Byers says:

    Out of body experiences is unbiblical. Absent from the body is present with the lord. I see them as simply misfunctions of the memory during stress.
    Pete townsend said he had one on a plane while under drugs.

    What does gOD say about the mind. clearly he says the mind is just a tool for the soul/heart to use in thinking.
    SO its only a material tool. SO i say its clearly just a memory operation.
    The mind is a memory middleman between our soul and our body. There is no brain.!
    by the way there are great youtube things about this showing non creationist ‘scientists” are becoming aware the mind is not the brain etc.

  60. 60
    Me_Think says:

    RDFish @ 58

    Well, no we don’t. We have identified various physiological correlates of consciousness, but that does not by any means suggest that any one of them is “responsible” for consciousness…… Still, imagine we come to understand every single detail about how neural activity maps to cognition, and the reverse. That would enable us to read people’s thoughts by instrumenting their brains, but it still wouldn’t answer the question here: Why don’t these physical processes simply proceed like all others..

    Correlations are the first step towards Causality. It can be discovered only after various correlations are found ,Structural Equation Models created; direct,indirect and hidden effects are analyzed,and then among those models, you will find the answer. Every problem in science was a mystery till solution was discovered.

  61. 61
    gpuccio says:

    RDFish:

    Thank you for your very beautiful post (#53). I must say that it was sort of a shock for me to agree with you on so many things! 🙂

    Almost all, I would say. Maybe all.

    I will try to clarify better what I think about the only “controversial” point. You say:

    “The interesting point regarding mind and matter that very few people acknowledge is this: Complex mechanisms (including living things, or universal fine-tuning) do not seem to arise without the action of a conscious mind, and minds do not seem to arise without the action of complex mechanisms. We have no clue how exquisitely complex biological mechanisms (such as our brains) could arise by means of the physical forces and processes of which we’re currently aware, and we likewise have no clue how information – the content of conscious thought – could possibly be stored, retrieved, and processed without complex physical processes.

    Most people (such as gpuccio) ignore the latter observation, and decide (for whatever reason) that mind could exist prior to and independently of mechanism. Other people ignore the former observation and decide that abiogenesis and evolutionary theory can fully account for biological complexity, although there is no evidence that this is the case.”

    Emphasis mine.

    Well, yes and no. mike1962 makes a thoughtful comment:

    “Excellent post. (Although I’m not sure gpuccio denies the latter observation.)”

    I think that, in a sense, he is right. But I must make some important distinctions.

    So, to make things easier, I will give some definitions of mine:

    a) Consciousness: the process, which we can directly observe in ourselves (and infer in others) in which objective contents become subjective experiences.

    b) Subject: the single “observer” which refers to itself the contents defined in a) (and therefore makes them “subjective experiences”. I will call this subject “the I”.

    c) Mind: the sum total of the processes which contribute to structure the contents defined in a).

    d) Physical reality: the sum total of what we can objectively observe and understand according to the known laws of science (especially physics).

    e) Body/Nervous system/Brain: the physical components of the mind

    Now, let me say that we have an objective reality (which can be in some way perceived and interpreted by the shared testimony of our senses) and the subjective reality of our consciousness (where all the representations and intepretations about the objective reality really take place).

    First of all I don’t believe that our understanding of the objective reality is complete. Not at all.

    IOWs, what I call “the physical reality” must be considered a subset of the “objective reality”.

    Now, my point is that the “mind” is part of the “objective reality”, because it is the sum total of the processes which structure the contents which are represented by the I. In that sense, the mind is formal and objective. It can be understood as the sum of the processes which transform and structure the objective inputs which generate the final contents represented in the I.

    At the same time, there is no reason to believe that the mind is purely “physical”, in the sense of my definition. The brain is the physical part of the mind, but there is no reason that other components, not understood by our known laws of reality, may not be part of the mental process.

    For example, NDEs and OBEs are clues that the mind is not purely physical, and exists beyond the brain.

    But the mind is still a sum of processes, therefore it is in some way “objective”.

    It’s only the I which transforms the contents of the mind into subjective representations.

    Therefore, all subjective representations need two component:

    a) Objective inputs structured by some objective mind (not necessarily “physical”, in the sense defined).

    b) An I which represents those contents and ascribes them to itself.

    So, in the final sense, it is always the I which generates the subjectivity, not the mind.

    So, in my view, the “complex mechanisms” which you refer to are part of the mind, not of the I. The I is simple, not complex. It interacts with complex contents (the mind), in both directions: representing them, and generating free outputs (“reactions”) to change them.

    The I is the source of both cognition and free will.

    ID theory states that only an I, interacting with complex contexts, can generate new original CSI. The whole process is usually called “design”.

  62. 62
    Box says:

    RDFish #57,
    In #55 I have explained why your statement doesn’t make sense. In #57 you fail to address my point. And I don’t feel like explaining it again.

  63. 63
    Axel says:

    ‘Every problem in science was a mystery till solution was discovered.’

    ‘Fraid not, Me_Think. Many of the problems in science that were a mystery, but which were solvable, have indeed been solved.

    Very many more have not been solved, nor ever will be; certainly not those that are paradoxes, entirely repugnant to our logic, as RDF mentioned.

    The fact that some of the solvable ‘mysteries’ were solved is no indication that all mysteries will be. The promissory note remains a dud.

    There are mysteries; and there are mysteries; scientists and scientism’s finest. You should be too bright to belong to the latter, M-T.

  64. 64
    Axel says:

    ‘a) Objective inputs structured by some objective mind (not necessarily “physical”, in the sense defined).

    b) An I which represents those contents and ascribes them to itself.

    So, in the final sense, it is always the I which generates the subjectivity, not the mind.

    So, in my view, the “complex mechanisms” which you refer to are part of the mind, not of the I. The I is simple, not complex. It interacts with complex contents (the mind), in both directions: representing them, and generating free outputs (“reactions”) to change them.

    The I is the source of both cognition and free will.

    ID theory states that only an I, interacting with complex contexts, can generate new original CSI. The whole process is usually called “design”.’

    A very subtle exposition, if I may say so, gpuccio, yet, of course, primordial to any understanding of the human mind in toto.

  65. 65
    gpuccio says:

    Axel:

    Thank you for the comment. 🙂

  66. 66
    RDFish says:

    Hi Me_Think,

    I disagree with your assumption that explaining the relationship between conscious awareness and matter is not qualitatively different from any other problem we have ever solved in science. I will say that things look more promising vis-a-vis free will though (cf. Libet, Wegner, etc).

    Anyway, let me know when you think anyone has made one iota of progress toward understanding the genesis of phenomenological experience – I’d love it!

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  67. 67
    RDFish says:

    Hi Box,

    You refuse to say what it is you believe explains the relationship between mind and matter; instead you simply deny physicalism. Well, at least we agree that physicalism fails, but I think it’s obvious that you have no answer either.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  68. 68
    RDFish says:

    Hi gpuccio,

    Thank you for your very beautiful post (#53). I must say that it was sort of a shock for me to agree with you on so many things! 🙂

    Thanks. Yes, we tend to rush to put people into big buckets and infer their beliefs that way instead of actually listening to what they say about their own beliefs 🙂

    a) Consciousness: the process, which we can directly observe in ourselves (and infer in others) in which objective contents become subjective experiences.

    I don’t really understand the “become” part in your definition, but this is fine. “Consciousness” is hard to define – I usually say it is that which we lose when we fall into a dreamless sleep and regain when we awaken.

    b) Subject: the single “observer” which refers to itself the contents defined in a) (and therefore makes them “subjective experiences”. I will call this subject “the I”.

    What do you make of split-brain patients? Are there two “I”s in there?

    c) Mind: the sum total of the processes which contribute to structure the contents defined in a).

    OK

    d) Physical reality: the sum total of what we can objectively observe and understand according to the known laws of science (especially physics).

    Ok, so you limit “physical reality” to only that which we can understand using science/physics. So the tertiary structure of protein (which we cannot explain) is not part of physical reality, nor are turbulent flows or dark matter part of physical reality. I wouldn’t say that, but… ok.

    Also, what does it mean to “objectively observe”? I thought our observations are by definition subjective perceptions, and science relies on intersubjective agreement to support the infernce to objective reality.

    e) Body/Nervous system/Brain: the physical components of the mind

    OK

    First of all I don’t believe that our understanding of the objective reality is complete. Not at all. IOWs, what I call “the physical reality” must be considered a subset of the “objective reality”.

    I would say that physical and objective reality are the same, and that we don’t understand all of reality, but I understand this per your definitions.

    Now, my point is that the “mind” is part of the “objective reality”, because it is the sum total of the processes which structure the contents which are represented by the I.

    You’ve defined physical reality by excluding anything we don’t understand via physics, then you’ve said that mind is part of objective reality but not physical reality. What makes the mind objective?

    In that sense, the mind is formal and objective.

    What makes the mind “formal”? Do you mean formal as in a formal language or a formal logic?

    At the same time, there is no reason to believe that the mind is purely “physical”, in the sense of my definition.

    By your definition it is obvious that the mind is not part of physical reality, simply because you have defined it that way (and because we obviously don’t understand the mind according to physics). So it’s not a question of belief about the world at all – it is merely a result of the way you’ve chosen to define “physical reality”.

    The brain is the physical part of the mind, but there is no reason that other components, not understood by our known laws of reality, may not be part of the mental process.

    Again, it seems to me that you are stating tautologies determined by your particular definition of “physical reality”. By your definition components that are not understood by our known laws are not physical, so by definition our mental processes are not entirely physical.

    I would simply say that we do not understand how brains work, and we also do not understand how we think, and it is likely but not certain that if we understood the first we would understand the second. (However, by “think” here I am talking about the easy problem, not the hard problem of conscious awareness/sentience itself).

    For example, NDEs and OBEs are clues that the mind is not purely physical, and exists beyond the brain.

    Let’s say NDEs/OBEs present evidence that conscious thought can occur without brain activity. That would not mean that thought isn’t physical (by my definition) – it would mean that the brain is not necessary for conscious thought, but conscious thought may still be mediated (for lack of a better term) by some unknown physical process. (For you, there is no such thing as an “unknown physical process”, for by your definition if it is not currently known it is not physical).

    However, I do not believe that NDE/OBE evidence shows any such thing at present. I would very much like to see the most convincing evidence to date – any citations handy? For me, the a priori probability that conscious thought can occur without brain activity is extremely low, given all we know about reliable effects of brain changes/injury on mental processes.

    I’m going to stop here – before I add more confusion to our discussion, I’d like to understand your position more clearly.

    Cheers,
    RDFish

  69. 69
    gpuccio says:

    RDFish:

    Thank you again for your answer. Your precise comments are a good starting point to detail some aspects of my views which were not clear in my previous post.

    a) You say:

    I don’t really understand the “become” part in your definition, but this is fine.

    OK, what I mean by “become” is more or less the following:

    1) There are the objective contents, in some form (stimuli, neural activities, structured biochemical reactions, electrical states, quantum states, whatever else we don’t know), but they are not yet represented. There is a moment/place/event where they become conscious representation. The I becomes “aware” of those contents.
    That difference is obvious in the simplest context: sensation. Let’s say that a physical stimulus is in the form of a ray of light. That is not a representation. Then it interacts with cells in the retina, and it generates a nervous impulse. That is not a representation (we know that if the optical nerve is damaged, no representation takes place. Then the impulse travels to various paths in the central nervous system. Again, there is no representation (if any of those paths is interrupted, nothing is perceived). Then it reaches the visual cortex in the occipital brain. Again, if that area is damaged, there is no conscious representation.
    That’s where we get with what we know at present. What happens there, in the cortex? The impulse is still in a similar form as it was in the retina or neural ways. But there is a moment when it becomes a representation of the I. There is no doubt that the visual cortex is the last physical reference where we can describe the impulse physically, as we could do in the retina and in the neural ways. So, whatever happens which is different, it takes place after the impulse reaches the cortex (for this specific context of sensation). That’s what I mean with “becomes”.

    You say:

    I usually say it is that which we lose when we fall into a dreamless sleep and regain when we awaken.

    This is an important point where we definitely differ. I don’t think that in a dreamless sleep we are not conscious. Dreamless sleep is only a different state of consciousness, a deep and important state, where we are probably aware of less formal experiences, such as peace. In my view, we never “lose” consciousness. We “are” consciousness. Using “we” implies the existence of a subject, of an I.

    b) You say:

    What do you make of split-brain patients? Are there two “I”s in there?

    No. One I. And two (or more) different structured sets of contents, relatively disconnected one from the other.

    d) You say:

    Ok, so you limit “physical reality” to only that which we can understand using science/physics. So the tertiary structure of protein (which we cannot explain) is not part of physical reality, nor are turbulent flows or dark matter part of physical reality. I wouldn’t say that, but… ok.

    I did not mean exactly that. We understand the tertiary structure of a protein as deriving from known biochemical laws, although we cannot compute it. There is no hint that different laws are necessary to explain it.

    Dark energy (whatever it may be) is a good example of some observed phenomenon which apparently cannot be explained by our present physical map of reality.

    Physics today has a very strong belief that some set of assumptions and laws (the forces, the standard system, quantum mechanics, whatever) can potentially explain everything we can observe. I don’t believe that is true.

    So, let’s imagine that to explain the observed facts which have generated the term “dark energy” we need, at some point, to hypothesize a new component of reality, let’s call it “X”. At that point, “X” will be a part of our “physical” reality, but it could have properties which are completely different from matter and energy. Maybe minds can be explained in terms of “X”. Maybe there is an “X” structure which interacts with the brain of matter and energy. Maybe NDEs happen at the “X” level, after the brain has stopped working.

    Now, there is a difference between the following two scenarios:

    1) The physical brain, made of atoms and electrons and so on, is all that is necessary to explain mental processes. We just have to detail what physical processes correspond to the specific mental processes, but we can certainly do that, in time, by the known physical laws and concepts (the forces, particles, and so on).

    2) Mental processes cannot be completely explained in that way, because they happen in part at other objective levels, which we cannot at present understand, because our map of objective reality is vastly incomplete.

    Please, note that I am still talking about “objective” reality. About that, you say:

    Also, what does it mean to “objectively observe”? I thought our observations are by definition subjective perceptions, and science relies on intersubjective agreement to support the inference to objective reality.

    That’s what I mean. Sensations tell us that some objective reality exists, and they have many aspects which allow us to share inferences about an objective reality out of us which is stable and obeys laws. That’s what I mean.

    The point is: I believe that “mental processes”, IOWs the objective events which structure the contents which will become representations of the I, are “objective”. They can be observed (in part), or it will be possible to do so in the future. They can be understood scientifically. They are “the easy problem” of consciousness, because they relate to the contents of consciousness, not to consciousness itself.

    That’s why I call them “formal”: they have forms which can be described and understood in terms of mathematics, algorithms, IOWs, in terms of traditional science. WE can follow the path of a sensation stimulus up to the visual cortex. Maybe we will be able, in the future, to understand how the visual cortex interacts with some “X” structure. And so on. We can describe formal processes. The sum total of those formal processes, both those we know and those we still don’t know, I call “the mind”.
    Nothing of that becomes conscious representation unless an I represents them.

    e) You say:

    I would say that physical and objective reality are the same, and that we don’t understand all of reality, but I understand this per your definitions.

    and:

    You’ve defined physical reality by excluding anything we don’t understand via physics, then you’ve said that mind is part of objective reality but not physical reality. What makes the mind objective?

    and

    What makes the mind “formal”? Do you mean formal as in a formal language or a formal logic?

    I hope I have clarified better what I think in the previous point. Then you say:

    By your definition it is obvious that the mind is not part of physical reality, simply because you have defined it that way (and because we obviously don’t understand the mind according to physics). So it’s not a question of belief about the world at all – it is merely a result of the way you’ve chosen to define “physical reality”.

    Not exactly. If you look at my two possible scenarios, in the previous point:

    1) The physical brain, made of atoms and electrons and so on, is all that is necessary to explain mental processes. We just have to detail what physical processes correspond to the specific mental processes, but we can certainly do that, in time, by the known physical laws and concepts (the forces, particles, and so on).

    2) Mental processes cannot be completely explained in that way, because they happen in part at other objective levels, which we cannot at present understand, because our map of objective reality is vastly incomplete.

    You can see that there is a difference. In scenario 1) we cannot explain mental processes because we lack the details, but we completely understand the actors and the laws. IOWs, mental processes can be explained completely in terms of atoms, neural connections, synapses, and so on, but we cannot compute the details, exactly as we think (correctly, I believe) that the tertiary structure of a protein can be computed from known biochemical interactions, although the computation is still too complex for our resources.

    In scenario 2) we will never be able to describe correctly mental processes with out current actors and laws, because we need to discover completely new perspectives about objective outer reality before we can understand mental processes correctly (what I have called “X”).

    I firmly believe in the second scenario. but the first scenario is a possible option too.

    You say:

    I would simply say that we do not understand how brains work, and we also do not understand how we think, and it is likely but not certain that if we understood the first we would understand the second. (However, by “think” here I am talking about the easy problem, not the hard problem of conscious awareness/sentience itself).

    Well, that is probably what I mean. If scenario 1 is true, as soon as we understand how the brain works (according to our known physical laws) we will be able to understand how we think (in the sense of the easy problem). On the contrary, if scenario 2 is true, that will not happen.

    So, I appreciate that you say: “it is likely but not certain”.

    Then you say:

    Let’s say NDEs/OBEs present evidence that conscious thought can occur without brain activity. That would not mean that thought isn’t physical (by my definition) – it would mean that the brain is not necessary for conscious thought, but conscious thought may still be mediated (for lack of a better term) by some unknown physical process.

    OK, let’s make a distinction. If we accept for a moment that NDEs cannot be explained by brain activity, then they are evidence of two different things:

    a) That the I exists independently from the brain. Why? Because they are conscious experiences, and therefore they are represented in the I, and therefore they imply the hard problem of consciousness. The I, whatever it is, is the source of awareness. The I is aware of NDEs.

    b) That some mental processes happen independently from the brain. Why? beacuse NDEs are formal and objective. The I experiences outer realities, including outer physical realities (in OBEs). In deep NDEs, whole outer structures are experienced. That means that the conscious experiences during NDEs are formally structured, IOWs that some mental processes take place.

    So, if NDEs take place without the brain, they are evidence that both the hard problem and the easy problem of consciousness exist independently of the brain. That is a very important point.

    You say:

    However, I do not believe that NDE/OBE evidence shows any such thing at present. I would very much like to see the most convincing evidence to date – any citations handy? For me, the a priori probability that conscious thought can occur without brain activity is extremely low, given all we know about reliable effects of brain changes/injury on mental processes.

    OK, that’s where we differ. My apriori experiences (I would never call them “probabilities”) tell me the opposite.

    I am convinced that the vast corpus of NDE information is a very strong argument in favour of my point. Of course, hyperskepticism can always ignore even the best evidence.

    However, NDEs are not the only argument. For me, mystic experiences and religious experiences in general are a much stronger fact.

    A final thought about what you call the “reliable effects of brain changes/injury on mental processes”.

    I must say that I really don’t understand all the fuss about that point.

    I will try to explain.

    I suppose we can agree that we have known for a long time that if I put my hand on a fire I feel pain.

    OK, isn’t that a “reliable effect of body changes/injury on mental processes”?

    We also know that if I lose my eyes I cannot see. Not really a recent argument.

    Now we know that if I severe the optical nerve I cannot see any more. OK, and then?

    And if there is damage in my visual cortex I cannot see any more. OK, and then?

    And if I have some subtle imaging of my brain, I find states which correspond to specific mental processes. OK, and then?

    And if the brain is damaged in specific ways, I perceive specific things, or my mental functions are limited or changed in specific ways. OK, and then?

    All those things prove only one concept, which has been well known since humans exist: most of what we perceive (but maybe not all) is vastly influenced by our body and brain.

    IOWs, our consciousness, in our physical life, is very strongly connected to the workings of a body and a brain/CNS.

    Is that really a surprise?

    Maybe it changes your priors. It does not change mine.

  70. 70
    Me_Think says:

    gpuccio @ 69
    I think you are laboring too much over a simple chemical phenomenon. It is known fact that intravenous Ketamine can induce emergence phenomena. All those experiences of tunnels and out of body experiences do occur in what ketamine users term the K-Hole. I believe we may find answers of consciousness and ‘I’ in the way N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor is blocked and unblocked and possibly by studying the P300 waves created in our brain. The problem, ofcourse, is we don’t have enough healthy people willing to allow scientists to fiddle with their brains !

  71. 71
    gpuccio says:

    Me_Think:

    I am happy to labor, thank you. Ketamine can induce states, like fire can induce pain. It is not the explanation of the states, any more than fire is the explanation of the pain.

    See the last part of my post #69. Or just go on laboring as you prefer.

  72. 72
    Me_Think says:

    gpuccio @ 71,

    Ketamine can induce states, like fire can induce pain. It is not the explanation of the states, any more than fire is the explanation of the pain.

    Pain is a chemical reaction because it can be reduced by chemicals like Morphine, endorphins and endocannabinoids. If it was not an emergent reaction of chemicals, it couldn’t have been tamed by chemicals.

  73. 73
    gpuccio says:

    Me_Think:

    I believe that even you should realize how wrong your logic is.

    I can set a chemical reaction to trigger a TV set, and then affirm that the images I see on TV are an emergent property of the chemical reaction, because if I prevent the chemical reaction the TV does not start.

    My compliments.

  74. 74
    Me_Think says:

    gpuccio @ 73

    I can set a chemical reaction to trigger a TV set, and then affirm that the images I see on TV are an emergent property of the chemical reaction

    The only chemical reaction I can envisage which could be an emergent property of a TV, is the Fluorescent chemicals on the screen of old CRT TVs. If the fluorescent chemicals fade off, there will be no images. You would need fresh coat of fluorescent chemicals. So yes, in that case the images on screen is dependent on the chemical reaction of fluorescent screen when hit by the Cathode ray tube, and could be considered an ’emergent’ property.

  75. 75
    gpuccio says:

    Me_think:

    So, if I understand you well, the images that we see on an old CRT TV screen are an emergent property of the fluorescent chemicals, and have nothing to do with the circuitry, the wireless transmission of programs, and so on?

    After all, as you say, “the images on screen is dependent on the chemical reaction of fluorescent screen when hit by the Cathode ray tube”. So, according to your logic, “if it was not an emergent reaction of chemicals”, it couldn’t be canceled when “the fluorescent chemicals fade off”.

    Interesting, indeed…

  76. 76
    Me_Think says:

    gpuccio @ 75

    So, if I understand you well, the images that we see on an old CRT TV screen are an emergent property of the fluorescent chemicals, and have nothing to do with the circuitry, the wireless transmission of programs, and so on?

    That is the only chemical pathway that could affect the function of the TV, which is to show images.Can you think of any other chemical reaction which has any bearing on images in TV ? If suddenly your example (@73) of chemical reaction controlling TV seems silly and bizarre to you, then I am with you!

  77. 77
    gpuccio says:

    Me_Think:

    Maybe you don’t understand. The simple point in my #73 is that it is certainly possible to set up a chemical reaction which gives a signal for some further complex event, like turning on a TV set. It may be bizarre, but it is certainly possible.

    In the same way, specific chemical reactions in the neural circuitry can send a signal which evokes the conscious event of pain.

    The only silly thing is your statement that “Pain is a chemical reaction because it can be reduced by chemicals like Morphine, endorphins and endocannabinoids. If it was not an emergent reaction of chemicals, it couldn’t have been tamed by chemicals.”

    That is not only silly, it is senseless. A signal can obviously be modulated by similar signals. In no way that implies that the reaction evoked by the signal is an “emergent property” of the signal.

    If you turn on a switch, what happens is not an emergent property of the switch. Even a child would understand that.

    So, the audio of a movie that I look at on my TV is not an emergent property of the movements of my thumb on the remote control, even if it can certainly be “tamed” by those movements. Is that clear?

  78. 78
    Me_Think says:

    gpuccio @ 77

    That is not only silly, it is senseless. A signal can obviously be modulated by similar signals. In no way that implies that the reaction evoked by the signal is an “emergent property” of the signal.

    So now you believe signals and chemical reactions are same?

    So, the audio of a movie that I look at on my TV is not an emergent property of the movements of my thumb on the remote control, even if it can certainly be “tamed” by those movements. Is that clear?

    The IR signal controlling the audio circuitry and your thumb are two different system (obviously). It is not part of TV circuitry, so , of course they can’t be property of the same system – the example is not valid.

  79. 79
    gpuccio says:

    Me_Think:

    OK, I am tired of you. I hope (for you) that you are only joking.

  80. 80
    Me_Think says:

    gpuccio @ 79
    Yes 🙂 The moment you gave the TV example, there was no point discussing consciousness with you.

  81. 81
    gpuccio says:

    Me_Think:

    OK, I am happy we agree.

  82. 82
    Dionisio says:

    Mio caro Dottore,

    I like your explanations in this discussion thread, but as usual, it takes me a long time to digest it all well.

    Now, here’s an off-topic suggestion:

    Whenever you feel like taking a short break away from this difficult discussion you’re engaged in with your ‘nice’ interlocutors, you might want to take a quick look at this:

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-544919

    This short article somehow reminded me of your ‘procedures’ concept. Did I understand it incorrectly?

    Mile grazie mio amico!

  83. 83
    gpuccio says:

    Dionisio:

    Yes, that’s an interesting approach.

    The more I study the current epigenetic knowledge, the more I am overwhelmed by a deep sense of excitement and frustration at the same time.

    The excitement is due to the huge amount of new data about the rich complexity of epigenetic regulation networks.

    The frustration is due to the lack of “understanding of the procedures” that such a huge amount of data gives us.

    IOWs, we know a lot and understand very little. For exmaple, we know a lot about how differentiation is implemented, but almost nothing about what guides it.

    It is, IMO, a paradox generated by the unsuspected levels of complexity of the systems we are unraveling: we know much, but each new thing we find shows new depths in what we still don’t know.

  84. 84
    Dionisio says:

    gpuccio

    Yes, agree.

    On a subject closer to this thread, today my wonderful orange tabby cat passed away. My wife and I have wept uncontrollably. I wonder how the ‘strong AI’ folks could imaging a robot that would feel the way my wife and I feel today. Is there anything explained in the AI literature about that? How would that work? What kind of software would achieve that? Do you know of anyone who could answer these questions seriously?

  85. 85
    gpuccio says:

    Dionisio:

    I am really sorry for your cat. Love for animals is a special grace. My three cats are a very, very important part of my life.

  86. 86
    Piotr says:

    Dionisio,

    My sincere condolences. As someone who cohabits with four cats and a dog, and has experienced such losses several times, I can feel your pain.

  87. 87
    Dionisio says:

    gpuccio

    Mile grazie.

    We went through quite some struggling lately: the cat got very sick, there were serious medical errors, misdiagnoses, leaving important details out of consideration, our own mistakes associated with our ignorance, lack of timely reaction to changes, not being sufficiently observant, not trying to consult other veterinarians for additional advice, all added up to the known fact that life is a very mysterious, precious and complex thing, much more mysterious, precious and complex than we make it sound in the discussions here or anywhere else.

    This cat was a blessing to my family, that we cherished, but never appreciated as much as we do now. More lessons for my wife and me to learn from this intense experience we just went through, dealing with difficult health issues compounded by the complexity of the biological systems and the hastened / reductionist approach to diagnosing and treating diseases within the context of business organizations that employ doctors, which limit the time that the medical personnel can dedicate to each case, instead of letting it be an untainted professional passion that tries to exhaust all reasonable possibilities and does not rush the doctors to do their work under pressure, thus indirectly leading to potentially serious mistakes. This could occur in human medicine too. As a medical doctor you may understand this much better than I do.
    At the end of the day my wife and I understood that we can’t control many things, if any at all. Human errors are part of life. We all make mistakes (except some brilliant interlocutors in this site).
    Now that’s another chapter in my book. Probably more conclusions to draw from looking back at this in the days to come.

    PS. BTW, in my previous post (#84) I misspelled the word ‘imagine’ in the text “…could imagine a robot…”. But you probably figured out what it meant.

  88. 88
    Dionisio says:

    Piotr,

    Thank you for your message.

    Serdecznie pozdrawiam.

    PS. Four cats and a dog seems like an interesting example of peaceful coexistence.

  89. 89
    Me_Think says:

    Dionisio @ 84,

    Is there anything explained in the AI literature about that? How would that work? What kind of software would achieve that?

    You could try this link
    IMO emotions in robots is a distraction. It will reduce it’s efficiency, unless emotions or psychological effect of emotions itself is the subject under study.

  90. 90
    Dionisio says:

    Piotr,

    Somehow the title of the old TV series “Czterej pancerni i pies” came to my mind. But I’d prefer your case of four cats and a dog. It sounds more peaceful. 🙂

    BTW, I’ve read that the tank they used to film parts of that series is in your city? I haven’t been there yet, but will let you know if I ever do. Wtedy zapraszam na kawe / herbate.

  91. 91
    Dionisio says:

    #89 Me_Think

    Thank you for sharing the link to the article.

    IMO emotions in robots is a distraction. It will reduce it’s efficiency, unless emotions or psychological effect of emotions itself is the subject under study.

    I think some kinds of emotions we experience make life special, and perhaps in some cases they may enrich it.
    Even productivity and efficiency may increase as result of some emotional situations. Can anyone think of examples of that?
    But most importantly, there are certain mysterious things associated with deep human emotions that can’t be described in a technical specification document in order to develop software that could operate a robot. Does anyone agree?

  92. 92
    Dionisio says:

    #89 Me_Think

    Does the paper you referred to talks about multisensory robots simulating the emotional pain associated with the lost of a loved being?
    I perused it to no avail. Can you point to it?
    Thank you.

  93. 93
    Me_Think says:

    Dionisio @ 92,

    Does the paper you referred to talks about multisensory robots simulating the emotional pain associated with the lost of a loved being?

    Any thing can be simulated by multisensors, but as the article says,

    What emotions could machines experience ?
    Even though many human emotions are beyond the range of machines due to their non-biological nature, some emotions could very well be felt by an artificial intelligence. These include, among others:
    Joy, satisfaction, contentment
    Disappointment, sadness
    Surprise
    Fear, anger, resentment
    Friendship
    Appreciation for beauty, art, values, morals, etc.

    However note that due to non-biological nature:

    The following [List at the end of article] emotions and feelings could not be wholly or faithfully experienced by an AI, even with a sensing robotic body, beyond mere implanted simulation.

  94. 94
    Dionisio says:

    #93 Me_Think

    …, beyond mere implanted simulation.

    What would that mean?

    Fake? Pretended? Unreal?

  95. 95
    Dionisio says:

    #93 Me_Think

    …due to non-biological nature

    What non-biological nature can emotions be due to?

  96. 96
    Dionisio says:

    #93 Me_Think

    Any thing can be simulated by multisensors, but as the article says,

    What emotions could machines experience ?
    Even though many human emotions are beyond the range of machines due to their non-biological nature, some emotions could very well be felt by an artificial intelligence. These include, among others:
    Joy, satisfaction, contentment
    Disappointment, sadness
    Surprise
    Fear, anger, resentment
    Friendship
    Appreciation for beauty, art, values, morals, etc.

    Are there examples of that?

    Are there detailed technical specifications for that kind of system, where one could see the proof of concept and feasibility?

  97. 97
    Me_Think says:

    Dionisio @ 94

    What would that mean?
    Fake? Pretended? Unreal?

    No. It would be just simulation as robots are obviously non-biological.
    Dionisio @ 95,

    What non-biological nature can emotions be due to?

    Not non-biological nature of emotions – Due to non-biological nature of robot! Obviously the robots can’t do all these:
    lacrimal gland is biological.Tears of emotion have prolactin, adrenocorticotropic hormone, Leu-enkephalin chemicals.
    Even the ‘lump’ you feel is biological response of muscles- parasympathetic nervous system attempts to close the fully expanded glottis to prevent food from entering the larynx. The glottis, however, attempts to remain open as an individual cries. This fight to close the glottis creates a sensation that feels like a lump in the individual’s throat- all these are biological process. vagus nerve is what induces the ‘butterfly’ in stomach, so feeling are biological

  98. 98
    Me_Think says:

    Dionisio @ 96

    Are there detailed technical specifications for that kind of system, where one could see the proof of concept and feasibility?

    AFAIK, the article says it ‘could’ be done. No one has bothered to do that as there has to some point in replicating those in a robot !

  99. 99
    Dionisio says:

    #98 Me_Think

    AFAIK, the article says it ‘could’ be done.

    If they claim that it could be done, then has anyone, anywhere, indicated how it could be done, as far as you’re aware of?

    I could claim that I could fly to Jupiter this summer. The problem is if someone asks me to describe in technical details how I plan to do it.

    Claiming anything is not too difficult. To problem is proving it.

    No one has bothered to do that as there has to some point in replicating those in a robot !

    Didn’t understand the reason why it hasn’t been done. Can you say it differently?

    Thank you.

  100. 100
    Dionisio says:

    #97 Me_Think

    Not non-biological nature of emotions – Due to non-biological nature of robot! Obviously the robots can’t do all these:
    lacrimal gland is biological.
    Tears of emotion have prolactin, adrenocorticotropic hormone, Leu-enkephalin chemicals.

    Even the ‘lump’ you feel is biological response of muscles- parasympathetic nervous system attempts to close the fully expanded glottis to prevent food from entering the larynx.

    The glottis, however, attempts to remain open as an individual cries. This fight to close the glottis creates a sensation that feels like a lump in the individual’s throat- all these are biological process. vagus nerve is what induces the ‘butterfly’ in stomach, so feeling are biological

    Aren’t those physiological effects of emotions?

    When someone mourns the loss of a loved being, the sadness is caused by the awareness of that loss and the reaction to it. The physiological processes you listed seem to be just the consequences or the visible reflection of the emotional state.
    1. But how can a robot experience that deep loss without loving?
    2. How can a robot love someone?
    3. Is there a technical description of love?
    I’m talking unconditional love, which implies voluntary commitment.
    4. How would a robot make a voluntary commitment to love someone? Why?
    5. What if this is loving an ‘unlovable’ (in worldly terms) being?
    I have some friends who plan to adopt a child with a heart problem, that will have to be treated. They have their own ‘biological’ children.
    6. Could a robot make a decision like that? Why?

  101. 101
    gpuccio says:

    Dionisio:

    just my simple idea: robots cannot be aware of anything, least of all feel.

    Configurations of matter cannot generate consciousness. Cognition and feeling are the primordial experiences of consciousness. Therefore, configurations of matter can generate neither cognition nor feeling of any kind.

    Very simply, machines are aware of nothing.

  102. 102
    DATCG says:

    Dionisio,
    just read your MIT link…

    To do that, his team uses algorithms they have developed themselves or adapted from network analysis strategies used to analyze the Internet.

    “Ideally, just a few such nodes would light up, but this is usually not the case, Fraenkel says. Instead, you end up with a wiring diagram with color all over the place.”

    “We lovingly call those things ‘hairballs,’” he says. “You get these giant hairball diagrams which really haven’t made the problem any easier — in fact, they’ve made it harder. So our algorithms go into that hairball and try to figure out which piece of it is most relevant to the disease, by weighing the probability of different kinds of events being disease-relevant.”

    Those algorithms filter out the irrelevant information, or noise, and zoom in on the pieces of the network that seem to be the most likely to be related to the disease in question. Then, the researchers do experiments in living cells or animals to test the models generated by the algorithms.

    Using this approach, Fraenkel has developed model networks for Huntington’s disease and glioblastoma. Such studies have revealed interactions that might never have been otherwise identified: For example, blocking estrogen can help prevent the growth of glioblastoma cells.

    “The fundamental thing we’re trying to do is take an unbiased view of the biology,” Fraenkel says. “We’re going to look everywhere. We’ll let the data tell us which processes are important and which ones are not.”

    thanks for link, reminds me how Microsoft and Bill Gates began researching disease with emphasis on treating viruses as biological programs and information. This goes back to Systems Biology from an engineering and design paradigm. The heuristic is more rewarding as discovery I think if thought from a Design perspective.

    also, thought you might enjoy this if you had not seen it…

    A comparative approach for the investigation of biological information processing: An examination of the structure and function of computer hard drives and DNA

    Yes, it’s a reach, but the thought exercise is good from a systems overview perspective, especially epigenetics.

  103. 103
    Dionisio says:

    gpuccio

    Yes, as usual, you’ve stated it very simply and clearly. Can’t add anything to it. Thank you.

  104. 104
    Dionisio says:

    DATCG

    Thank you for your comments and for sharing all that interesting information.

  105. 105
    Me_Think says:

    Dionisio @ 99

    I could claim that I could fly to Jupiter this summer. The problem is if someone asks me to describe in technical details how I plan to do it.

    You could, but people wouldn’t believe you because the time frame is very short and you are not an intergalactic travel expert!
    Dionisio @ 100

    Aren’t those physiological effects of emotions?
    When someone mourns the loss of a loved being, the sadness is caused by the awareness of that loss and the reaction to it. The physiological processes you listed seem to be just the consequences or the visible reflection of the emotional state.
    1. But how can a robot experience that deep loss without loving?….

    Yes,of course they are physiological effects- that’s the reason you can’t hope to simulate those in non-biological robots. What do you mean by ‘deep loss without loving’ and all other questions ? It has been clearly stated in the article (and I even answered a related question you asked @ 97) that feelings could not be wholly or faithfully experienced by an AI, even with a sensing robotic body, beyond mere implanted simulation.

  106. 106
    Dionisio says:

    Me_Think

    You commented on my post 99 but did not answer my first question in it:

    If they claim that it could be done, then has anyone, anywhere, indicated how it could be done, as far as you’re aware of?

    Would you mind to answer it?

    Thank you.

  107. 107
    Dionisio says:

    Me_Think

    You commented on my post 99 but did not answer my last question in it:

    Didn’t understand the reason why it hasn’t been done. Can you say it differently?

    Would you mind to answer?

    Thank you.

  108. 108
    Dionisio says:

    #105 Me_Think

    Yes, of course they are physiological effects- that’s the reason you can’t hope to simulate those in non-biological robots. What do you mean by ‘deep loss without loving’ and all other questions ? It has been clearly stated in the article (and I even answered a related question you asked @ 97) that feelings could not be wholly or faithfully experienced by an AI, even with a sensing robotic body, beyond mere implanted simulation.

    Do you agree with gpuccio on his comments posted @101?

    robots cannot be aware of anything, least of all feel.

    Configurations of matter cannot generate consciousness. Cognition and feeling are the primordial experiences of consciousness. Therefore, configurations of matter can generate neither cognition nor feeling of any kind.

    Very simply, machines are aware of nothing.

  109. 109
    Me_Think says:

    Dionisio @ 107

    -No one has bothered to do that as there has to some point in replicating those in a robot !
    -Didn’t understand the reason why it hasn’t been done. Can you say it differently?

    No point means – What objective would that achieve in a robot ? Who is going to fund the study which has no relevance beyond simulation? It can’t even be claimed to be basic science research.

  110. 110
    Me_Think says:

    Dionisio @ 108

    Do you agree with gpuccio on his comments posted @101?

    No. He has said a lot of other things which we are not discussing at all. I agree only to the extent that feelings in a robot can’t be beyond mere implanted simulation. I don’t agree that consciousness can’t be an emergent property of our brain,and I certainly don’t agree that robots can not be ‘aware’ of their environment. Pretty much every sensor in my Arduino makes the board aware of it’s surrounding.

  111. 111
    Dionisio says:

    #105 Me_Think

    What do you mean by ‘deep loss without loving’ and all other questions ?

    Sorry, the question was written incorrectly. Instead of ‘loss’ it should say ‘sadness’. Deep sadness.

    Ok, here is the correction to what I wrote in 100, read it carefully and see if you can understand it:

    When someone mourns the loss of a loved being, the sadness is caused by the awareness of that loss and the reaction to it. The physiological processes you listed seem to be just the consequences or the visible reflection of the emotional state.
    1. But how can a robot experience deep sadness without loving?
    2. How can a robot love someone?
    3. Is there a technical description of love?
    I’m talking unconditional love, which implies voluntary commitment.
    4. How would a robot make a voluntary commitment to love someone? Why?
    5. What if this is loving an ‘unlovable’ (in worldly terms) being?
    I have some friends who plan to adopt a child with a heart problem, that will have to be treated. They have their own ‘biological’ children.
    6. Could a robot make a decision like that? Why?

  112. 112
    Me_Think says:

    Dionisio @ 111

    read it carefully and see if you can understand it….

    Please read my comment # 105 carefully and see if you understand it:

    It has been clearly stated in the article (and I even answered a related question you asked @ 97) that feelings could not be wholly or faithfully experienced by an AI, even with a sensing robotic body, beyond mere implanted simulation.

  113. 113
    Dionisio says:

    #110 Me_Think

    I certainly don’t agree that robots can not be ‘aware’ of their environment. Pretty much every sensor in my Arduino makes the board aware of it’s surrounding.

    Can your Arduino experience deep sadness for the loss of loved being? How does that work?
    Being aware of the surrounding does not guarantee loving. The Nazi personnel that oversaw the prisoners going to the gas chambers in the concentration camps during WWII, most probably were very aware of the surrounding, but since they did not love their neighbors as themselves, they could not experience any sadness for the horrible fate of those poor people. They were pretty much like biological robots, because they just followed directions, but did not love their victims, therefore could not experience the deep sadness that I feel when I read about the horrendous things that took place in those evil places, which make me ashamed of my human condition. Their consciousness led them in the wrong direction, because they willingly surrendered to the evil one.

    Your Arduino doesn’t possess any consciousness. You created your Arduino without consciousness, because you don’t know how to create consciousness and never will. Actually, you’re not alone, because nobody knows it and never will.
    The emotional robots are hogwash, wishful thinking, pie pie in the sky, Alice in wonderland, daydreaming, whatever you may want to call it, but they are not emotional in the human sense of the term.
    Gpuccio is correct in his post 101.
    Is that why you have avoided to answer my easy questions right away?

  114. 114
    Dionisio says:

    #112 Me_Think

    Is there a difference between emotions and their visible physicochemical effects?

  115. 115
    Me_Think says:

    Dionisio @ 113

    Can your Arduino experience deep sadness for the loss of loved being? How does that work?
    Being aware of the surrounding does not guarantee loving.

    No. It doesn’t. Of course.

    Your Arduino doesn’t possess any consciousness. You created your Arduino without consciousness,

    If my Arduino board was conscious, I would be world famous, not famous just among my friends.

    The emotional robots are hogwash, wishful thinking, pie pie in the sky, Alice in wonderland, daydreaming, whatever you may want to call it, but they are not emotional in the human sense of the term.
    Gpuccio is correct in his post 101.
    Is that why you have avoided to answer my easy questions right away?

    Which part of my repeated reply :
    (and I even answered a related question you asked @ 97) that feelings could not be wholly or faithfully experienced by an AI, even with a sensing robotic body, beyond mere implanted simulation.
    didn’t you understand?!

  116. 116
    Me_Think says:

    Dionisio @ 144,

    Is there a difference between emotions and their visible physicochemical effects?

    Emotion is an electrical impulse triggered by your senses. physicochemical effects are what the brain dictates by releasing hormones when it processes the impulse.

  117. 117
    kairosfocus says:

    We are back to what it is like to be a bat, or to be appeared to redly . . .

  118. 118
    Dionisio says:

    #115 Me_Think

    Which part of my repeated reply :
    “(and I even answered a related question you asked @ 97) that feelings could not be wholly or faithfully experienced by an AI, even with a sensing robotic body, beyond mere implanted simulation.”
    didn’t you understand?!

    Your comments only address the physicochemical part of the emotional state, i.e. the material effects that whatever causes the emotional state may have on our bodies physiological functioning. But the emotional states have their most important component in the nonmaterial realm.

    When Mozart, Beethoven, Bach, Handel, Hayden, composed their classic masterpieces, it was not the result of physicochemical processes in their brains. They got inspired through mysterious processes we don’t understand, hence can’t reproduce in robots.

    Strong AI is deceiving hogwash. But you don’t see it that way.

    That’s why we can’t even have a meaningful discussion, because your vision field is limited by your narrow materialistic worldview. Obviously you can’t or don’t want to (which is worse) see beyond your materialistic boundaries.

    I pray that your spiritual eyes get wide open and you can think outside the box. Only then you’ll start to discover the true wonders beyond your current boundaries, and will enjoy the unending revelation of the ultimate reality.

    Have a good weekend.

  119. 119
    Dionisio says:

    #115 Me_Think

    If my Arduino board was conscious, I would be world famous, not famous just among my friends.

    You don’t have to create consciousness in order to be world famous. Some people are world famous without even knowing what consciousness really is. Just look around in the media, which is flooded with so much ‘world famous’ trash.
    Welcome to this world.

  120. 120
    Dionisio says:

    #116 Me_Think

    Emotion is an electrical impulse triggered by your senses.

    That seems “a little” inaccurate, to put it nicely.

    The external signals your senses detect are converted into electrical impulses that serve as the source information that is processed by your brain.

    The emotional state you might be in is much more complex than what you have described.

    The condition of your consciousness, which communicates with this world through your brain, may determine your emotional reactions to what you sense from your surroundings. See the WWII example in my post #113.

    At the end of the day, it’s all about love. We are to love God with all our strength, and to love other people as we love ourselves.

    Without love anything we say or do is senseless.

    Any deviation from that path is simply evil.

  121. 121
    Dionisio says:

    #117 kairosfocus

    Exactly.

    I will highly appreciate your comments on the discussion that has followed my comment posted @84. I didn’t expect that comment, which was about a reflection on a very personal situation, would trigger such a relatively long follow-up discussion (almost 1/3 of the entire thread so far?).
    Basically Me_Think reacted to my comment 84, and the exchange that followed is recorded here in this thread.

  122. 122
    Dionisio says:

    Post #79 seems very appropriate to be repeated at this point too.

    🙂

    Looking back, perhaps there was some time squandered starting at my post #106 (or maybe even earlier)? However, someone in this site has suggested that it’s good that the comments get written and remain recorded here for the onlookers/lurkers to read. Thus they should have enough information to arrive at their own educated conclusions.

    🙂

  123. 123
    gpuccio says:

    Dionisio:

    Just a comment on a common procedure used by our interlocutors to defend what is not defensible: redefining words, and profiting of the new ambiguity generated by that redefinition.

    Please note how Me_Think states, in post #110:

    “Pretty much every sensor in my Arduino makes the board aware of it’s surrounding.”

    And then in post #115:

    “If my Arduino board was conscious, I would be world famous, not famous just among my friends.”

    So, we have here a double meaning of two related words, “aware” and “conscious”.

    Now, just to start somewhere, the site dictionary.com this the following as a definition of “aware”.

    1) having knowledge; conscious; cognizant:
    “aware of danger”.

    As you can see, “aware” can certainly be used in the sense of “conscious”. That is the most common meaning of “aware”, and certainly the natural meaning of the word in a discussion about AI and consciousness. Unfortunately, if we use “aware” in that sense, the two statements made by our “friend” become obviously self-contradictory.

    So, what is Me_Think trying to do? It’s simple. He is trying to redefine “aware”, so that it means something different from “conscious”.

    That’s fine with me. Let’s try. WE can say that something is “aware” of its surroundings when it receives some information from those surroundings.

    But, in that sense, everything would be “aware”. An apple certainly receives information from its surroundings, in the form of light rays, for example.

    OK, maybe that is too generic. So, let’s say that something is “aware” when it not only receives information, but in some way registers or measures it, possibly in some symbolic form.

    OK, that’s better. So, let’s say, a scale is certainly “aware” of the things it weighs. Which, I believe, are part of its surroundings. Is that what Me_Think means by the word “sensors”?

    No, no, that is too gross, certainly. A scale? “Aware”?

    But… let’s say a photocell connected to a door opener? That is certainly aware of its surroundings, I would say. It not only receives information from things and transforms that information into other forms, it also “reacts” to that information. We certainly have the whole thing here: input, elaboration, output.

    No consciousness probably, but who cares? We have redefined “aware”, after all. And we have created an “aware” system with much less than Me_Think’s Arduino board.

    A good result, indeed. Maybe I can become “famous among my friends”, too!

    But I dare not hope so much.

  124. 124
    Dionisio says:

    #123 gpuccio

    That was a very funny way to illustrate it.

    You have a very effective sense of humor.

    Too bad some of your interlocutors don’t want to appreciate it. Their problem, not ours.

    🙂

  125. 125
    Me_Think says:

    gpuccio @ 123, Dionisio @ 124
    If awareness derived from sensors is equivalent to consciousness, then my Arduino is conscious!!. If just the coolness of ice against my skin is defined as consciousness, then the skin is conscious. Skin is the ‘I’!

  126. 126
    Dionisio says:

    #125 Me_Think

    If awareness derived from sensors is equivalent to consciousness, then my Arduino is conscious!!. If just the coolness of ice against my skin is defined as consciousness, then the skin is conscious. Skin is the ‘I’!

    Are you sure about what you wrote? Please, take more time to think. Don’t hasten your comments.

    As far as I understand it, the ‘coolness’ (or relative temp diff) of ice is detected by your skin, but the actual sensation of “coolness” is produced by your CNS after processing the information received from the remote sensors.

    As far as I’m aware of, the sensors detect external signals in the form of light, heat, color, smell, etc. Then they convert the information into electric impulses that can be transmitted -according to a previously established communication protocol- to the CNS for processing, interpretation, and generation of corresponding involuntary reactions, or for your consciousness to indicate the desired voluntary reactions for each case.

    Perhaps we could debate the programming of involuntary reactions to some surrounding events within certain levels of AI, but how would you argue the voluntary reactions, associated with consciousness, which your Arduino lacks and will always lack? BTW, your Arduino is not alone. No AI is or will be capable of conscious decisions and voluntary reactions to the surrounding events detected by any number and kinds of sensors.

  127. 127
    Me_Think says:

    Dionisio @ 126

    BTW, your Arduino is not alone. No AI is or will be capable of conscious decisions and voluntary reactions to the surrounding events

    🙂
    My earlier comment said my Arduino is not conscious. GP claimed awareness and consciousness were the same term. I claim sensory awareness derived from sensors is not consciousness. (AFAIK no one in Arduino community claims his Arduino is conscious!)
    You have agreed.
    Edit:

    If awareness derived from sensors is equivalent to consciousness, then my Arduino is conscious!!.

    May be above sentence confused you. Can you explain what you understand from the above sentence?

  128. 128
    Dionisio says:

    Me_Think

    Maybe these folks at UC Berkeley could use some help from your sensitive Arduino stuff?

    http://www.rdmag.com/news/2015.....e=headline

    🙂

  129. 129
    Dionisio says:

    Me_Think

    I see you did not understand my comment #126.

    Bottom line: all the daydreaming about ‘strong’ AI emotional sensitive robots is just hogwash on steroids.

    That’s all, buddy. Enjoy working on your super sensitive Arduino.

    Consciousness is before matter and apart from it.

    Emotional human-like robots are figments in the prolific imagination of the ‘strong’ AI folks.

    pie pie in the sky.

    🙂

  130. 130
    Me_Think says:

    Dionisio @ 129

    Me_Think: My earlier comment said my Arduino is not conscious. GP claimed awareness and consciousness were the same term. I claim sensory awareness derived from sensors is not consciousness. (AFAIK no one in Arduino community claims his Arduino is conscious!)

    You have agreed – again !

    Consciousness is before matter and apart from it.

    So everybody’s consciousness was floating around before they were created ?
    If it is apart from body/ matter now, where is it floating? Assuming it is floating right above your head and it’s diameter is greater than your body width, won’t consciousness of your friend mix up with yours when he comes near you?
    Is consciousness energy or a field ? I don’t understand how it is apart from matter and was created before matter but was paired with right body after body was created. Can you explain ?

    That’s all, buddy. Enjoy working on your super sensitive Arduino.

    What do you mean by ‘super sensitive’ ?

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