Intelligent Design Mind Neuroscience News

Neurologist muses on why we are conscious

Spread the love

From neurologist Steven Novella at Neurologica, on Daniel Dennett’s new Bacteria to Bach and Back: The Evolution of Minds:

The interaction of intense social interaction with evolving language was like rocket fuel to human consciousness. Out of this mix evolved culture. Dennett gets into the notion of memes, which he thinks of as tiny units of cultural information. The notions of memes has many critics, but I think this is actually incidental to Dennett’s main points. You don’t need to call them memes, or even to have a concept of a cultural unit. You can think of culture as a mish-mash of ideas and behaviors with no distinguishable units, and Dennett’s main point would still hold.

Essentially you have a positive feedback loop with language, culture, social interaction, and intellectual sophistication. The result was that our proto-human ancestors dramatically increased the size of their brains in a few million years. The evolutionary pressures for greater intelligence were apparently massive, once those factors all came into play.

The result was a creature that could think in words, that could think about what other creatures felt and thought, and that could contemplate, therefore, its own feelings and thoughts.

That’s consciousness. More.

Of course. Consciousness happened to cockroaches too, and for just the same reasons: “Evolutionary pressures.”

One real benefit Darwinism offers to science is its ability to settle these issues so simply.

See also: Split brain does NOT lead to split consciousness? What? After all the naturalist pop psych lectures we paid good money for at the U? Well, suckers r’ us.

Does the ability to “split” our brains help us understand consciousness? (Apparently not.)

What great physicists have said about immateriality and consciousness Or else: Consciousness as a state of matter Rocks have minds?

Researcher: Never mind the “hard problem of consciousness”: The real one is… “Our experiences of being and having a body are ‘controlled hallucinations’ of a very distinctive kind”

Searle on Consciousness “Emerging” from a Computer: “Miracles are always possible.”

Psychology Today: Latest new theory of consciousness A different one from the above.

Evolution bred a sense of reality out of us

Claim: Science is afraid of animal consciousness. Why? Won’t crackpot theories work as well as they do for human consciousness?

So then: Question: Would we give up naturalism to solve the hard problem of consciousness?

Neuroscience tried wholly embracing naturalism, but then the brain got away

Follow UD News at Twitter!

3 Replies to “Neurologist muses on why we are conscious

  1. 1
    bornagain77 says:

    Golly gee whiz, a zombified neuronal illusion wrote a fictitious, evidence free, just so story about how human consciousness arose.

    Personally, I think the reality of the situation, i.e. ‘a zombified neuronal illusion writing a fictitious, evidence free, just so story’, is a lot stranger, and much more entertaining, than the fiction that Dennet actually wrote.

    As to evidence, the Christian theist holds that Mind came before material reality whereas the atheistic materialist holds that material reality came before mind.

    In providing experimental evidence for the Christian claim that Mind is primary, it is interesting to note the primacy of mind in conceiving of any experiment that might prove that Mind is primary over material.

    The other day, Origenes stated:

    “Like so many materialists, Dennett holds that the empirical can exist independently from the subjective. The truth is that empirical evidence of anything cannot exist without a personal rational subjective mind. At the end of the day, it is one’s subjective notion that X is empirically evidenced. It is one’s subjective notion that gravity is empirically evidenced.
    IOWs empirical evidence is a subset of subjective experience.”

    And this is born out in our very best, cutting edge, science. Namely, this subjective experience versus empirical evidence dichotomy is born out in quantum mechanics.

    John von Neumann stated the dichotomy as such

    How (conscious) observation is inextricably bound to measurement in quantum mechanics:
    Quote: “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
    http://www.informationphilosop.....s/neumann/

    Stephen M. Barr put the situation thusly,,

    Does Quantum Physics Make it Easier to Believe in God? Stephen M. Barr – July 10, 2012
    Excerpt: Couldn’t an inanimate physical device (say, a Geiger counter) carry out a “measurement” (minus the ‘observer’ in quantum mechanics)? That would run into the very problem pointed out by von Neumann: If the “observer” were just a purely physical entity, such as a Geiger counter, one could in principle write down a bigger wavefunction that described not only the thing being measured but also the observer. And, when calculated with the Schrödinger equation, that bigger wave function would not jump! Again: as long as only purely physical entities are involved, they are governed by an equation that says that the probabilities don’t jump.
    That’s why, when Peierls was asked whether a machine could be an “observer,” he said no, explaining that “the quantum mechanical description is in terms of knowledge, and knowledge requires somebody who knows.” Not a purely physical thing, but a mind.
    https://www.bigquestionsonline.com/content/does-quantum-physics-make-it-easier-believe-god

    Steven Weinberg, an atheist, rightly rejects the ‘realist approach’ to quantum mechanics mainly because of ‘many worlds interpretation’, but, on the other hand, it is interesting to note the main reason for why he, as an atheist, rejects the ‘instrumentalist approach’ to quantum mechanics:

    The Trouble with Quantum Mechanics – Steven Weinberg
    – January 19, 2017
    Excerpt: The instrumentalist approach,, (the) wave function,, is merely an instrument that provides predictions of the probabilities of various outcomes when measurements are made.,,
    In the instrumentalist approach,,, humans are brought into the laws of nature at the most fundamental level. According to Eugene Wigner, a pioneer of quantum mechanics, “it was not possible to formulate the laws of quantum mechanics in a fully consistent way without reference to the consciousness.”11
    Thus the instrumentalist approach turns its back on a vision that became possible after Darwin, of a world governed by impersonal physical laws that control human behavior along with everything else. It is not that we object to thinking about humans. Rather, we want to understand the relation of humans to nature, not just assuming the character of this relation by incorporating it in what we suppose are nature’s fundamental laws, but rather by deduction from laws that make no explicit reference to humans. We may in the end have to give up this goal,,,
    Some physicists who adopt an instrumentalist approach argue that the probabilities we infer from the wave function are objective probabilities, independent of whether humans are making a measurement. I don’t find this tenable. In quantum mechanics these probabilities do not exist until people choose what to measure, such as the spin in one or another direction. Unlike the case of classical physics, a choice must be made,,,
    http://www.nybooks.com/article.....mechanics/

    Since Weinberg rejects the instrumentalist approach to quantum mechanics since it undermines Darwin’s goal of trying to explain humans as purely the result of the laws of nature, if I had the pleasure, I would like to ask Weinberg exactly who discovered the standard model? Weinberg or the laws of nature?

    Here are a few more related quotes:

    He goes toe-to-toe with science big wigs… and so far he’s undefeated. – interview
    Dr. Bernardo Kastrup: You see we always start from the fact that we are conscious. Consciousness is the only carrier of reality and existence that we can know. Everything else is abstraction; [they] are inferences we make from consciousness.
    http://www.skeptiko.com/274-be.....rialistic/

    “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

    “No, I regard consciousness as fundamental. I regard matter as derivative from 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

    “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.

    Moreover, the obvious fact that consciousness must be primary for experimental science to even be possible is, ‘surprisingly’, born out empirically. In fact, the primacy of consciousness in quantum mechanics is one of the most ‘counter-intuitive’ findings of Quantum Mechanics:

    Experiment confirms quantum theory weirdness – May 27, 2015
    Excerpt: The bizarre nature of reality as laid out by quantum theory has survived another test, with scientists performing a famous experiment and proving that reality does not exist until it is measured.
    Physicists at The Australian National University (ANU) have conducted John Wheeler’s delayed-choice thought experiment, which involves a moving object that is given the choice to act like a particle or a wave. Wheeler’s experiment then asks – at which point does the object decide?
    Common sense says the object is either wave-like or particle-like, independent of how we measure it. But quantum physics predicts that whether you observe wave like behavior (interference) or particle behavior (no interference) depends only on how it is actually measured at the end of its journey. This is exactly what the ANU team found.
    “It proves that measurement is everything. At the quantum level, reality does not exist if you are not looking at it,” said Associate Professor Andrew Truscott from the ANU Research School of Physics and Engineering.
    Despite the apparent weirdness, the results confirm the validity of quantum theory, which,, has enabled the development of many technologies such as LEDs, lasers and computer chips.
    The ANU team not only succeeded in building the experiment, which seemed nearly impossible when it was proposed in 1978, but reversed Wheeler’s original concept of light beams being bounced by mirrors, and instead used atoms scattered by laser light.
    “Quantum physics’ predictions about interference seem odd enough when applied to light, which seems more like a wave, but to have done the experiment with atoms, which are complicated things that have mass and interact with electric fields and so on, adds to the weirdness,” said Roman Khakimov, PhD student at the Research School of Physics and Engineering.
    http://phys.org/news/2015-05-q.....dness.html

    “Reality is in the observations, not in the electron.”
    – Paul Davies

    “We have become participators in the existence of the universe. We have no right to say that the past exists independent of the act of observation.”
    – John Wheeler

    This post would not be complete without Einstein’s ‘does the moon exist if you are not looking at it’ question:

    Einstein: An Exchange – 2007
    Excerpt: In fact, a quantum mechanician like Bohr would say that, in the absence of an experiment to determine them, these quantities have no existence at all. This is what Einstein objected to. He once walked back from the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton with the late Abraham Pais. The moon was out and Einstein asked Pais, “Do you really believe the moon is not there when you are not looking at it?”
    http://www.nybooks.com/article.....-exchange/

    And yet, despite how counter-intuitive it may be for materialists to believe that Mind must be primary, quantum mechanics solidly backs up the Theistic claim that consciousness must be primary for reality, and experimental science, to even exist in the first place:

    “It proves that measurement is everything. At the quantum level, reality does not exist if you are not looking at it,” lead researcher and physicist Andrew Truscott said in a press release.

    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

    Quote:

    “Anyone who is not shocked by quantum theory has not understood it.”
    Niels Bohr

    Verse:

    John 3:12
    If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things?

    Original thread

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-624778
    &
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-624795

  2. 2

    Amazing work, BA77, as usual. Thank you!

  3. 3

Leave a Reply