Mind Neuroscience

Does the difference between “I” and “me” shed light on consciousness?

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How about, it keeps the discussion moving:

”To see if they could show that the brain treats those two concepts differently too, Tallon-Baudryʼs team asked people who were having their brain scanned to fixate on a point and then let their mind wander. Every now and then, they were interrupted and asked whether – at that precise moment – they were thinking about “me” or “I”, which they had been trained to recognise. Depending on which they reported, the HEP occurred in different parts of the brain: a region near the front for “me” thoughts and one further back for “I” thoughts. This showed for the first time that the brain does indeed discern between the two concepts.” – Laura Spinney, “Consciousness Isn’t Just the Brain: the Body Shapes Your Sense of Self” at New Scientist

It shouldn’t be a big surprise if the brain distinguishes between the two concepts because subject (I, the person who makes things happen) and object (me, the person who experiences something) are more or less fundamental ideas.

News, “The grammar of consciousness: I vs. me” at Mind Matters News

The mystery of consciousness includes our constant awareness of both of these statuses, I and me.

2 Replies to “Does the difference between “I” and “me” shed light on consciousness?

  1. 1
    bornagain77 says:

    as to:

    “Consciousness Isn’t Just the Brain: the Body Shapes Your Sense of Self”

    Talk about missing the forest for the trees. The question that is screaming to be answered is not whether or not the body can influence our thoughts (of course it does), or whether or not consciousness is associated with the brain (of course it is). Rather the question screaming to be answered is whether or not the material brain, all by its lonesome, can even generate consciousness in the first place, and whether or not consciousness and/or the immaterial mind can cause changes in the material brain and the material body.

    As to the first question, we simply have no evidence whatsoever that the material brain, all by its lonesome, has the capacity within itself to generate consciousness.

    As Rutgers University philosopher Jerry Fodor stated,

    “Nobody has the slightest idea how anything material could be conscious. Nobody even knows what it would be like to have the slightest idea about how anything material could be conscious. So much for the philosophy of consciousness.”
    – Jerry Fodor – Rutgers University philosopher
    [2] Fodor, J. A., Can there be a science of mind? Times Literary Supplement. July 3, 1992, pp5-7.

    And as Sebastian Seung of MIT stated,

    “Every day we recall the past, perceive the present and imagine the future. How do our brains accomplish these feats? It’s safe to say that nobody really knows.”
    Sebastian Seung – Massachusetts Institute of Technology neuroscientist – “Connectome”:

    Here are a few more quotes along the same line.

    “Those centermost processes of the brain with which consciousness is presumably associated are simply not understood. They are so far beyond our comprehension at present that no one I know of has been able even to imagine their nature.”
    Roger Wolcott Sperry – Nobel neurophysiologist

    “We have at present not even the vaguest idea how to connect the physio-chemical processes with the state of mind.”
    – Eugene Wigner – Nobel prize-winner – Quantum Symmetries

    “Science’s biggest mystery is the nature of consciousness. It is not that we possess bad or imperfect theories of human awareness; we simply have no such theories at all. About all we know about consciousness is that it has something to do with the head, rather than the foot.”
    Nick Herbert – Contemporary physicist

    “No experiment has ever demonstrated the genesis of consciousness from matter. One might as well believe that rabbits emerge from magicians’ hats. Yet this vaporous possibility, this neuro-mythology, has enchanted generations of gullible scientists, in spite of the fact that there is not a shred of direct evidence to support it.”
    – Larry Dossey – Physician and author

    This utter failure on the part of neuroscientists to give us the first clue as to how the material brain may possibly generate consciousness is simply stunning, As Michael Egnor recently noted, “”It’s sobering to note that neuroscience has utterly failed to explain how the brain and mind relate. It is as if cosmology had failed to tell us anything meaningful about the universe; or medical science failed to tell us anything about health and disease; or geology failed to tell us anything about rocks. Neuroscience has told us nothing— nothing—about how the brain gives rise to the mind. ”

    “It’s sobering to note that neuroscience has utterly failed to explain how the brain and mind relate. It is as if cosmology had failed to tell us anything meaningful about the universe; or medical science failed to tell us anything about health and disease; or geology failed to tell us anything about rocks. Neuroscience has told us nothing— nothing—about how the brain gives rise to the mind. The Hard Problem (of consciousness), after two centuries of neuroscience and a vast trove of data, remains utterly unsolved.”
    – Michael R. Egnor, MD, Professor of Neurosurgery and Pediatrics at State University of New York, Stony Brook
    https://mindmatters.ai/2020/05/neuroscience-cant-dismiss-near-death-experiences/

    The reason why material processes can never explain consciousness, particularly never explain qualia, is fairly simple to understand.

    As Frank Jackson made clear in his philosophical argument ‘Mary’s Room’, no amount of scientific and physical examination on Mary’s part will ever reveal to Mary exactly what the inner subjective conscious experience, i.e. qualia, of the color blue actually is until Mary actually experiences what the color blue is for herself.

    11.2.1 Qualia – Perception (“The Hard Problem” )
    Philosopher of the mind Frank Jackson imagined a thought experiment —Mary’s Room— to explain qualia and why it is such an intractable problem for science. The problem identified is referred to as the knowledge argument. Here is the description of the thought experiment:
    “Mary is a brilliant scientist who is, for whatever reason, forced to investigate the world from a black and white room via a black and white television monitor. She specializes in the neurophysiology of vision and acquires, let us suppose, all the physical information there is to obtain about what goes on when we see ripe tomatoes, or the sky, and use terms like ‘red’, ‘blue’, and so on. She discovers, for example, just which wavelength combinations from the sky stimulate the retina, and exactly how this produces via the central nervous system the contraction of the vocal cords and expulsion of air from the lungs that results in the uttering of the sentence ‘The sky is blue’. (…) What will happen when Mary is released from her black and white room or is given a color television monitor? Will she learn anything or not?”
    Jackson believed that Mary did learn something new: she learned what it was like to experience color.
    “It seems just obvious that she will learn something about the world and our visual experience of it. But then is it inescapable that her previous knowledge was incomplete. But she had all the physical information. Ergo there is more to have than that, and Physicalism [materialism] is false.”
    https://www.urantia.org/study/seminar-presentations/is-there-design-in-nature#Emergence

    As David Chalmers has pointed out with the philosophical zombie argument, for all we know, the person we are talking to, or even the person that we are examining with all our scientific instruments, could hypothetically be a philosophical zombie who has no inner subjective conscious experience whatsoever and that the philosophical zombie we are examining may just robotically be giving us correct answers that seem appropriate to any situation that we may be asking the philosophical zombie about.

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

    Materialists simply do not have any realistic clue how anything material could ever generate the inner subjective consciousness experience of qualia.

    As Professor of Psychology David Barash states in the following article, an article which happens to be entitled “the hardest problem in science?”, “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.”

    The Hardest Problem in Science? October 28, 2011
    Excerpt: ‘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 – Professor of Psychology emeritus at the University of Washington.
    https://www.chronicle.com/blogs/brainstorm/the-hardest-problem-in-science/40845

    Like qualia, the mental attribute of ‘Persistence of Self-Identity through time’ (which may also be termed ‘the experience of ‘the Now”), also refuses to be reduced to material explanation.

    As to defining ‘the experience of the now’, we each have a unique perspective of being outside of time. In fact we each seemingly watch from some mysterious outside perspective of time as time seemingly passes us by. Simply put, we seem to be standing on an island of ‘now’ as the river of time continually flows past us.

    In the following video, Dr. Suarez states that the irresolvable dilemma for reductive materialists in them trying to explain ‘the experience of the now’,,, “it is impossible for us to be ‘persons’ experiencing ‘now’ if we are nothing but particles flowing in space time. Moreover, for us to refer to ourselves as ‘persons’, we cannot refer to space-time as the ultimate substratum upon which everything exists, but must refer to a Person who is not bound by space time. (In other words) We must refer to God!”

    Nothing: God’s new Name – Antoine Suarez – video
    Paraphrased quote: (“it is impossible for us to be ‘persons’ experiencing ‘now’ if we are nothing but particles flowing in space time. Moreover, for us to refer to ourselves as ‘persons’, we cannot refer to space-time as the ultimate substratum upon which everything exists, but must refer to a Person who is not bound by space time. i.e. We must refer to God!”)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SOr9QqyaLlA

    In further defining the mental attribute of ‘the experience of the now’, in the following article Stanley Jaki states that “There can be no active mind without its sensing its existence in the moment called now.,,, ,,,There is no physical parallel to the mind’s ability to extend from its position in the momentary present to its past moments, or in its ability to imagine its future. The mind remains identical with itself while it lives through its momentary nows.”

    The Mind and Its Now – Stanley L. Jaki, May 2008
    Excerpts: There can be no active mind without its sensing its existence in the moment called now.,,,
    Three quarters of a century ago Charles Sherrington, the greatest modern student of the brain, spoke memorably on the mind’s baffling independence of the brain. The mind lives in a self-continued now or rather in the now continued in the self. This life involves the entire brain, some parts of which overlap, others do not.
    ,,,There is no physical parallel to the mind’s ability to extend from its position in the momentary present to its past moments, or in its ability to imagine its future. The mind remains identical with itself while it lives through its momentary nows.
    ,,, the now is immensely richer an experience than any marvelous set of numbers, even if science could give an account of the set of numbers, in terms of energy levels. The now is not a number. It is rather a word, the most decisive of all words. It is through experiencing that word that the mind comes alive and registers all existence around and well beyond.
    ,,, All our moments, all our nows, flow into a personal continuum, of which the supreme form is the NOW which is uncreated, because it simply IS.
    http://metanexus.net/essay/mind-and-its-now

    And ‘the experience of ‘the now” also happens to be exactly where Albert Einstein got into trouble with leading philosophers of his day and also happens to be exactly where Einstein eventually got into trouble with quantum mechanics itself. Around 1935, Einstein was asked by Rudolf Carnap (who was a philosopher):

    “Can physics demonstrate the existence of ‘the now’ in order to make the notion of ‘now’ into a scientifically valid term?”
    Rudolf Carnap – Philosopher

    Einstein’s denied that it was possible, he said:

    “The experience of ‘the now’ cannot be turned into an object of physical measurement, it can never be a part of physics.”
    Einstein

    Prior to that encounter with Carnap, Einstein also had another disagreement with another famous philosopher, Henri Bergson, over what the proper definition of time should be (Bergson was also very well versed in the specific mental attribute of the ‘experience of the now’). In fact, that disagreement with Henri Bergson over what the proper definition of time should be was actually one of the primary reasons that Einstein failed to ever receive a Nobel prize for his work on relativity:

    Einstein, Bergson, and the Experiment that Failed: Intellectual Cooperation at the League of Nations! – Jimena Canales
    page 1177
    Excerpt: Bergson temporarily had the last word during their meeting at Société française de philosophie. His intervention negatively affected Einstein’s Nobel Prize, which was given “for his services to theoretical physics, and especially for his discovery of the law of the photoelectric effect” and not for relativity. The reasons behind this decision, as stated in the prize’s presentation speech, were related to Bergson’s intervention: “Most discussion [of Einstein’s work] centers on his Theory of Relativity. This pertains to epistemology and has therefore been the subject of lively debate in philosophical circles. It will be no secret that the famous philosopher Bergson in Paris has challenged this theory, while other philosophers have acclaimed it wholeheartedly.”51 For a moment, their debate dragged matters of time out of the solid terrain of “matters of fact” and into the shaky ground of “matters of concern.”52
    https://dash.harvard.edu/bitstream/handle/1/3210598/canales-Einstein,%20Bergson%20and%20the%20Experiment%20that%20Failed%282%29.pdf?sequence=2

    The specific statement that Einstein made to Carnap on the train, “The experience of ‘the now’ cannot be turned into an object of physical measurement, it can never be a part of physics.” was a very interesting statement for Einstein to make to the philosopher since “The experience of ‘the now’ has, from many recent experiments in quantum mechanics, established itself as very much being a defining part of our physical measurements in quantum mechanics.

    For instance, the following delayed choice experiment with atoms demonstrated that, “It proves that measurement is everything. At the quantum level, reality does not exist if you are not looking at it,”

    Reality doesn’t exist until we measure it, (Delayed Choice) quantum experiment confirms – Mind = blown. – FIONA MACDONALD – 1 JUN 2015
    Excerpt: “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.
    http://www.sciencealert.com/re.....t-confirms

  2. 2
    bornagain77 says:

    Likewise, the following violation of Leggett’s inequality stressed the quantum-mechanical assertion that reality does not exist when we’re not observing it.

    Quantum physics says goodbye to reality – Apr 20, 2007
    Excerpt: They found that, just as in the realizations of Bell’s thought experiment, Leggett’s inequality is violated – thus stressing the quantum-mechanical assertion that reality does not exist when we’re not observing it. “Our study shows that ‘just’ giving up the concept of locality would not be enough to obtain a more complete description of quantum mechanics,” Aspelmeyer told Physics Web. “You would also have to give up certain intuitive features of realism.”
    http://physicsworld.com/cws/article/news/27640

    The Mind First and/or Theistic implications of quantum experiments such as the preceding are fairly obvious. As Professor Scott Aaronson of MIT once quipped, “Look, we all have fun ridiculing the creationists,,, 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!”

    “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!”
    – Scott Aaronson – MIT associate Professor quantum computation – Lecture 11: Decoherence and Hidden Variables

    Thus, contrary to what Einstein himself thought was possible for experimental physics, physicists have now shown, in overwhelming fashion, that ‘the experience of the now’ is very much a part of experimental physics. In fact, due to advances in quantum mechanics, it would now be much more appropriate to rephrase Einstein’s answer to the philosopher Rudolph Carnap in this way:

    “It is impossible for “the experience of ‘the now’” to ever be divorced from physical measurement, it will always be a part of physics.”

    Moreover, in regards to quantum mechanics and the brain itself, Stuart Hameroff’s and Roger Penrose’s contention that quantum mechanics must be at play in the brain has now been experimentally confirmed.

    Consciousness Depends on Tubulin Vibrations Inside Neurons, Anesthesia Study Suggests – 5-Sep-2017
    Excerpt: The results provide a marked improvement to the Meyer-Overton correlation by discriminating anesthetics from non-anesthetics, and suggest that anesthetics block consciousness by altering terahertz oscillations in tubulin.,,,
    Senior co-author Jack Tuszynski said:
    “Scientific luminaries from Erwin Schrödinger to Sir Roger Penrose have proposed that consciousness requires quantum coherent processes, but skeptics have asserted such processes would suffer ‘decoherence’ in the ‘warm, wet and noisy’ biological milieu. Our study supports growing evidence that non-polar, pi resonance regions in microtubules and other biomolecules maintain these coherent states, and that a ‘quantum underground’ pervades the brain’s neurons.”
    https://www.newswise.com/articles/consciousness-depends-on-tubulin-vibrations-inside-neurons-anesthesia-study-suggests

    Of related interest: At about the 16:30 minute mark of the following video, an interesting experiment on the sleeping brain is highlighted in which it is demonstrated that there is a fairly profound difference in the way the brain ‘shares information’ between different parts of the brain in its sleeping state compared to how the brain ‘shares information’ in its waking state. i.e. In the sleeping state, the brain shares much less information with different parts of the brain than the brain does during our waking state.

    Through The Wormhole s02e01 Is There Life After Death – video (16:30 minute mark)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7XhrDrqmXE4

    Of note, the preceding video, after you sign up, can be watched in much better quality at this following site (season 2 episode 1)
    https://www.sciencechannel.com/tv-shows/through-the-wormhole/
    Researchers: Deep sleep short-circuits brain’s grid of connectivity – September 29, 2005
    Excerpt: Tononi and his team observed the disconnect when brief, magnetically generated pulses of electricity were directed to specific regions of the brain. The pulses stimulated an electrochemical response from the targeted cells, which, when the subject was awake, rippled across the brain, traveling along networks of nerve fibers to different cerebral destinations. But when the subject was in deep sleep, the same response was quickly extinguished and did not travel beyond the stimulated cells.
    When consciousness fades, according to Tononi, “the brain breaks down into little islands that can’t talk to one another.”
    https://news.wisc.edu/researchers-deep-sleep-short-circuits-brains-grid-of-connectivity/

    The interesting thing about these long range correlations in the brain, long range correlations that differentiate a sleeping brain from a brain that is awake, is that the long range correlations are found to be, for all intents and purposes, ‘instantaneous’

    The Puzzling Role Of Biophotons In The Brain – Dec. 17, 2010
    Excerpt: It’s certainly true that electrical activity in the brain is synchronised over distances that cannot be easily explained. Electrical signals travel too slowly to do this job, so something else must be at work.,,,
    ,,, It’s a big jump to assume that photons do this job.
    http://www.technologyreview.co.....the-brain/

    ,,, zero time lag neuronal synchrony despite long conduction delays – 2008
    Excerpt: Multielectrode recordings have revealed zero time lag synchronization among remote cerebral cortical areas. However, the axonal conduction delays among such distant regions can amount to several tens of milliseconds. It is still unclear which mechanism is giving rise to isochronous discharge of widely distributed neurons, despite such latencies,,,
    Remarkably, synchrony of neuronal activity is not limited to short-range interactions within a cortical patch. Interareal synchronization across cortical regions including interhemispheric areas has been observed in several tasks (7, 9, 11–14).,,,
    Beyond its functional relevance, the zero time lag synchrony among such distant neuronal ensembles must be established by mechanisms that are able to compensate for the delays involved in the neuronal communication.
    Latencies in conducting nerve impulses down axonal processes can amount to delays of several tens of milliseconds between the generation of a spike in a presynaptic cell and the elicitation of a postsynaptic potential (16). The question is how, despite such temporal delays, the reciprocal interactions between two brain regions can lead to the associated neural populations to fire in unison (i.e. zero time lag).,,,
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pm.....MC2575223/

    In other words, ‘non-local’, beyond space and time, quantum entanglement must be invoked to explain how we are conscious.

    Looking beyond space and time to cope with quantum theory – 29 October 2012
    Excerpt: “Our result gives weight to the idea that quantum correlations somehow arise from outside spacetime, in the sense that no story in space and time can describe them,”
    http://www.quantumlah.org/high.....uences.php

    I leave my comments on this subject here for now, but suffice it to say for now that consciousness is currently experimentally proven to forever be beyond any possible materialistic explanation. In other words, neuroscientists who may seek to explain how the brain might possibly generate consciousness, (as reasonable as that quest may seem to them), will forever be stymied in their search for that hypothetical materialistic explanation of consciousness.

    i.e. To explain how consciousness is generated in the brain, as far as empirical science itself is concerned, we are now forced to appeal to a cause that is itself beyond all space-time, matter-energy.

    Isaiah 50:4
    The Lord GOD hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary: he wakeneth morning by morning, he wakeneth mine ear to hear as the learned.

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