Consciousness: A State of Matter? (General)

by BBella @, Saturday, October 29, 2016, 21:09 (213 days ago)

PHYSICISTS SAY CONSCIOUSNESS SHOULD BE CONSIDERED A STATE OF MATTER:
THE “NON PHYSICAL” IS REAL

http://tinyurl.com/hch7qvd

"He is basically saying that the immaterial ‘substance’ of consciousness is directly intertwined with what we perceive to be our physical material world in some sort of way, shape or form, that consciousness is required for matter to be, that it becomes after consciousness….and he’s not the only physicist to believe that."

We have been here before in this discussion -
but interesting to revisit at this point.

Consciousness: A State of Matter?

by David Turell @, Sunday, October 30, 2016, 00:52 (212 days ago) @ BBella

Bbella: PHYSICISTS SAY CONSCIOUSNESS SHOULD BE CONSIDERED A STATE OF MATTER:
THE “NON PHYSICAL” IS REAL

http://tinyurl.com/hch7qvd

"He is basically saying that the immaterial ‘substance’ of consciousness is directly intertwined with what we perceive to be our physical material world in some sort of way, shape or form, that consciousness is required for matter to be, that it becomes after consciousness….and he’s not the only physicist to believe that."

We have been here before in this discussion -
but interesting to revisit at this point.

My take has always been that consciousness came first, then matter, which is how I interpret the thoughts in the above website

Consciousness: A State of Matter?

by dhw, Sunday, October 30, 2016, 12:28 (212 days ago) @ David Turell

Bbella: PHYSICISTS SAY CONSCIOUSNESS SHOULD BE CONSIDERED A STATE OF MATTER:
THE “NON PHYSICAL” IS REAL

http://tinyurl.com/hch7qvd

"He is basically saying that the immaterial ‘substance’ of consciousness is directly intertwined with what we perceive to be our physical material world in some sort of way, shape or form, that consciousness is required for matter to be, that it becomes after consciousness….and he’s not the only physicist to believe that."
We have been here before in this discussion -
but interesting to revisit at this point.

DAVID: My take has always been that consciousness came first, then matter, which is how I interpret the thoughts in the above website.

Chicken and egg. If consciousness came before matter, we have some form of God. If matter came first, we have no God (at least of the conventional monotheistic kind). The expression “a state of matter” is not clear to me, but it would seem to imply panpsychism (the true meaning of which is that all forms of matter have some mental aspect). I don’t know how this leads to the conclusion that “The Universe is immaterial – mental and spiritual. Live, and enjoy”, but there are gaps in the quote, so perhaps it’s out of context. Clearly none of us would be alive if matter was not a real part of the universe, so my conclusion would be that, regardless of what came first, unless you believe that neither we nor our thoughts are real, our world at least (we don’t know about the rest of the universe) is both material and mental, and we can enjoy both.

I am hoping to find a spare hour this week to formulate my own dastardly plan to reconcile dualism and materialism!

Consciousness: A State of Matter?

by David Turell @, Sunday, October 30, 2016, 14:21 (212 days ago) @ dhw

Bbella: PHYSICISTS SAY CONSCIOUSNESS SHOULD BE CONSIDERED A STATE OF MATTER:
THE “NON PHYSICAL” IS REAL

http://tinyurl.com/hch7qvd

"He is basically saying that the immaterial ‘substance’ of consciousness is directly intertwined with what we perceive to be our physical material world in some sort of way, shape or form, that consciousness is required for matter to be, that it becomes after consciousness….and he’s not the only physicist to believe that."
We have been here before in this discussion -
but interesting to revisit at this point.

DAVID: My take has always been that consciousness came first, then matter, which is how I interpret the thoughts in the above website.

dhw: Chicken and egg. If consciousness came before matter, we have some form of God. If matter came first, we have no God (at least of the conventional monotheistic kind). The expression “a state of matter” is not clear to me, but it would seem to imply panpsychism (the true meaning of which is that all forms of matter have some mental aspect). I don’t know how this leads to the conclusion that “The Universe is immaterial – mental and spiritual. Live, and enjoy”, but there are gaps in the quote, so perhaps it’s out of context. Clearly none of us would be alive if matter was not a real part of the universe, so my conclusion would be that, regardless of what came first, unless you believe that neither we nor our thoughts are real, our world at least (we don’t know about the rest of the universe) is both material and mental, and we can enjoy both.

I am hoping to find a spare hour this week to formulate my own dastardly plan to reconcile dualism and materialism!

If you read the whole website, my statement stands, consciousness first.

Consciousness: A State of Matter?

by dhw, Monday, October 31, 2016, 11:52 (211 days ago) @ David Turell

dhw: Chicken and egg. If consciousness came before matter, we have some form of God. If matter came first, we have no God (at least of the conventional monotheistic kind). The expression “a state of matter” is not clear to me, but it would seem to imply panpsychism (the true meaning of which is that all forms of matter have some mental aspect). I don’t know how this leads to the conclusion that “The Universe is immaterial – mental and spiritual. Live, and enjoy”, but there are gaps in the quote, so perhaps it’s out of context. Clearly none of us would be alive if matter was not a real part of the universe, so my conclusion would be that, regardless of what came first, unless you believe that neither we nor our thoughts are real, our world at least (we don’t know about the rest of the universe) is both material and mental, and we can enjoy both.

DAVID: If you read the whole website, my statement stands, consciousness first.

Yes, I realized that the article agrees with you. That is why I tried to restore some balance in my comment!:-)

Consciousness: A State of Matter?

by David Turell @, Monday, October 31, 2016, 17:06 (211 days ago) @ dhw


DAVID: If you read the whole website, my statement stands, consciousness first.

dhw: Yes, I realized that the article agrees with you. That is why I tried to restore some balance in my comment!:-)

Thank you.

Consciousness: not split in split-brain patients

by David Turell @, Monday, January 30, 2017, 20:53 (119 days ago) @ David Turell

The two hemispheres of the brain are connected by a band of fibers known as the corpus callosum. In patients with one-sided epilepsy, this body has been entirely sliced apart. In some patients it appears that consciousness might be split apart. New research says not so:

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/315508.php

"A new research study contradicts the established view that so-called split-brain patients have a split consciousness. Instead, the researchers behind the study, led by UvA psychologist Yair Pinto, have found strong evidence showing that despite being characterised by little to no communication between the right and left brain hemispheres, split brain does not cause two independent conscious perceivers in one brain.

"Split brain is a lay term to describe the result of a corpus callosotomy, a surgical procedure first performed in the 1940s to alleviate severe epilepsy among patients. During this procedure, the corpus callosum, a bundle of neural fibres connecting the left and right cerebral hemispheres, is severed to prevent the spread of epileptic activity between the two brain halves. While mostly successful in relieving epilepsy, the procedure also virtually eliminates all communication between the cerebral hemispheres, thereby resulting in a 'split brain'.

"This condition was made famous by the work of Nobel laureate Roger Sperry and Michael Gazzaniga. In their canonical work, Sperry and Gazzaniga discovered that split-brain patients can only respond to stimuli in the right visual field with their right hand and vice versa. This was taken as evidence that severing the corpus callosum causes each hemisphere to gain its own consciousness.

"For their study, Pinto and his fellow researchers conducted a series of tests on two patients who had undergone a full callosotomy. In one of the tests, the patients were placed in front of a screen and shown various objects displayed in several locations. The patients were then asked to confirm whether an object appeared and to indicate its location. In another test, they had to correctly name the object they had seen, a notorious difficulty among spit-brain patients. 'Our main aim was to determine whether the patients performed better when responding to the left visual field with their left hand instead of their right hand and vice versa', says Pinto, assistant professor of Cognitive Psychology. 'This question was based on the textbook notion of two independent conscious agents: one experiencing the left visual field and controlling the left hand, and one experiencing the right visual field and controlling the right hand.'

"To the researchers' surprise, the patients were able to respond to stimuli throughout the entire visual field with all the response types: left hand, right hand and verbally. Pinto: 'The patients could accurately indicate whether an object was present in the left visual field and pinpoint its location, even when they responded with the right hand or verbally. This despite the fact that their cerebral hemispheres can hardly communicate with each other and do so at perhaps 1 bit per second, which is less than a normal conversation. I was so surprised that I decide repeat the experiments several more times with all types of control.'

"According to Pinto, the results present clear evidence for unity of consciousness in split-brain patients. 'The established view of split-brain patients implies that physical connections transmitting massive amounts of information are indispensable for unified consciousness, i.e. one conscious agent in one brain. Our findings, however, reveal that although the two hemispheres are completely insulated from each other, the brain as a whole is still able to produce only one conscious agent. This directly contradicts current orthodoxy and highlights the complexity of unified consciousness.'"

Comment: I view this study as strong evidence for my contention that the brain is a receiver of consciousness. If the brain creates consciousness its two separated lobes should produce dual consciousnesses. That is not the case. If the brain is a receiver, then both sides receive one whole consciousness which works as a whole in the patient's perception. Note that there is separation in physical sensation, visual appreciation as noted. A major finding!

Consciousness: not split in split-brain patients

by dhw, Tuesday, January 31, 2017, 21:22 (118 days ago) @ David Turell

QUOTE: "According to Pinto, the results present clear evidence for unity of consciousness in split-brain patients. 'The established view of split-brain patients implies that physical connections transmitting massive amounts of information are indispensable for unified consciousness, i.e. one conscious agent in one brain. Our findings, however, reveal that although the two hemispheres are completely insulated from each other, the brain as a whole is still able to produce only one conscious agent. This directly contradicts current orthodoxy and highlights the complexity of unified consciousness.'"

David's comment: I view this study as strong evidence for my contention that the brain is a receiver of consciousness. If the brain creates consciousness its two separated lobes should produce dual consciousnesses. That is not the case. If the brain is a receiver, then both sides receive one whole consciousness which works as a whole in the patient's perception. Note that there is separation in physical sensation, visual appreciation as noted. A major finding!

It certainly is a fascinating discovery. Am I right in thinking that you have drawn attention in the past to cases in which a whole section of the brain was actually missing, and yet the patient was somehow able to fill the “gaps”? It would be interesting to hear the response of a materialist to these findings. In the meantime, I must mull over the implications for my attempted reconciliation of the two schools of thought!

Consciousness: not split in split-brain patients

by David Turell @, Wednesday, February 01, 2017, 00:51 (118 days ago) @ dhw


David's comment: I view this study as strong evidence for my contention that the brain is a receiver of consciousness. If the brain creates consciousness its two separated lobes should produce dual consciousnesses. That is not the case. If the brain is a receiver, then both sides receive one whole consciousness which works as a whole in the patient's perception. Note that there is separation in physical sensation, visual appreciation as noted. A major finding!

dhw: It certainly is a fascinating discovery. Am I right in thinking that you have drawn attention in the past to cases in which a whole section of the brain was actually missing, and yet the patient was somehow able to fill the “gaps”? It would be interesting to hear the response of a materialist to these findings. In the meantime, I must mull over the implications for my attempted reconciliation of the two schools of thought!

Yes, full mentation with missing brain! But complex enough to receive consciousness.

Consciousness: And relation to quantum mechanics

by David Turell @, Sunday, February 19, 2017, 20:12 (100 days ago) @ BBella

This is a very long review article which takes us from the realization that what we decide to do in quantum experimentation affects how the particles themselves react as if our consciousness is related directly to the particles. He then goes on to discuss the way quantum activity might be present in cells, in neurons, and thus somehow create consciousness:

http://www.bbc.com/earth/story/20170215-the-strange-link-between-the-human-mind-and-qua...

"For one thing, the mind seemed, to the great discomfort of physicists, to force its way into early quantum theory. What's more, quantum computers are predicted to be capable of accomplishing things ordinary computers cannot, which reminds us of how our brains can achieve things that are still beyond artificial intelligence. "Quantum consciousness" is widely derided as mystical woo, but it just will not go away.

***

"Today some physicists suspect that, whether or not consciousness influences quantum mechanics, it might in fact arise because of it. They think that quantum theory might be needed to fully understand how the brain works.

"Might it be that, just as quantum objects can apparently be in two places at once, so a quantum brain can hold onto two mutually-exclusive ideas at the same time?

These ideas are speculative, and it may turn out that quantum physics has no fundamental role either for or in the workings of the mind. But if nothing else, these possibilities show just how strangely quantum theory forces us to think.

***

"The physicist Pascual Jordan, who worked with quantum guru Niels Bohr in Copenhagen in the 1920s, put it like this: "observations not only disturb what has to be measured, they produce it… We compel [a quantum particle] to assume a definite position." In other words, Jordan said, "we ourselves produce the results of measurements."

"If that is so, objective reality seems to go out of the window.

***

"just as Bohr confidently predicted, it makes no difference whether we delay the measurement or not. As long as we measure the photon's path before its arrival at a detector is finally registered, we lose all interference.

It is as if nature "knows" not just if we are looking, but if we are planning to look.

***

"physicists do not agree on the best way to interpret these quantum experiments, and to some extent what you make of them is (at the moment) up to you. But one way or another, it is hard to avoid the implication that consciousness and quantum mechanics are somehow linked.

"Beginning in the 1980s, the British physicist Roger Penrose suggested that the link might work in the other direction. Whether or not consciousness can affect quantum mechanics, he said, perhaps quantum mechanics is involved in consciousness.

***

"Penrose first proposed that quantum effects feature in human cognition in his 1989 book The Emperor's New Mind. The idea is called Orch-OR, which is short for "orchestrated objective reduction". The phrase "objective reduction" means that, as Penrose believes, the collapse of quantum interference and superposition is a real, physical process, like the bursting of a bubble.

"Orch-OR draws on Penrose's suggestion that gravity is responsible for the fact that everyday objects, such as chairs and planets, do not display quantum effects. Penrose believes that quantum superpositions become impossible for objects much larger than atoms, because their gravitational effects would then force two incompatible versions of space-time to coexist.

"Penrose developed this idea further with American physician Stuart Hameroff. In his 1994 book Shadows of the Mind, he suggested that the structures involved in this quantum cognition might be protein strands called microtubules. These are found in most of our cells, including the neurons in our brains. Penrose and Hameroff argue that vibrations of microtubules can adopt a quantum superposition.

"But there is no evidence that such a thing is remotely feasible.

***

"In a study published in 2015, physicist Matthew Fisher of the University of California at Santa Barbara argued that the brain might contain molecules capable of sustaining more robust quantum superpositions. Specifically, he thinks that the nuclei of phosphorus atoms may have this ability.

***

"In other words, the mind could genuinely affect the outcomes of measurements.
It does not, in this view, exactly determine "what is real". But it might affect the chance that each of the possible actualities permitted by quantum mechanics is the one we do in fact observe, in a way that quantum theory itself cannot predict. Kent says that we might look for such effects experimentally.

"He even bravely estimates the chances of finding them. "I would give credence of perhaps 15% that something specifically to do with consciousness causes deviations from quantum theory, with perhaps 3% credence that this will be experimentally detectable within the next 50 years," he says.

"If that happens, it would transform our ideas about both physics and the mind. That seems a chance worth exploring."

Comment: We are as confused as ever about consciousness. Can we ever understand quantum reality? Perhaps we are not supposed to.

Consciousness: And relation to quantum mechanics

by dhw, Monday, February 20, 2017, 16:04 (99 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: This is a very long review article which takes us from the realization that what we decide to do in quantum experimentation affects how the particles themselves react as if our consciousness is related directly to the particles. He then goes on to discuss the way quantum activity might be present in cells, in neurons, and thus somehow create consciousness:
http://www.bbc.com/earth/story/20170215-the-strange-link-between-the-human-mind-and-qua...

Thank you for this article, which as you say leaves us “as confused as ever about consciousness.” I’ll cherrypick some quotes:

QUOTE: “These ideas are speculative, and it may turn out that quantum physics has no fundamental role either for or in the workings of the mind.”

Yep. Both materialism and dualism are speculative too. Nobody has a clue.

QUOTE: In other words, Jordan said, "we ourselves produce the results of measurements."…"If that is so, objective reality seems to go out of the window.”

Even if it is so, I suggest for the umpteenth time that all of these quantum physicists should do another test and step in front of a moving bus.

Quote: "Beginning in the 1980s, the British physicist Roger Penrose suggested that the link might work in the other direction. Whether or not consciousness can affect quantum mechanics, he said, perhaps quantum mechanics is involved in consciousness.”

Might or might not, perhaps or perhaps not.

"Penrose first proposed that quantum effects feature in human cognition in his 1989 book The Emperor's New Mind. The idea is called Orch-OR, which is short for "orchestrated objective reduction". The phrase "objective reduction" means that, as Penrose believes, the collapse of quantum interference and superposition is a real, physical process, like the bursting of a bubble."

Give something a name, and you give it scientific credibility. Multiverse, string theory, dark energy and dark matter, Orch-OR… Except (let me put on my theist’s hat for a moment) if you theorize that life and the universe are the product of design and you call the designer God, you will lose all scientific credibility.

Quote: “Penrose and Hameroff argue that vibrations of microtubules can adopt a quantum superposition…But there is no evidence that such a thing is remotely feasible.”

As the bard put it, then: Much Ado About Nothing.

Consciousness: And relation to quantum mechanics

by David Turell @, Monday, February 20, 2017, 17:48 (99 days ago) @ dhw

dhw: As the bard put it, then: Much Ado About Nothing.

Except we have to live with quantum theory that underlies all of reality. We use it but don't understand it.

Consciousness: using total brain connectivity?

by David Turell @, Friday, March 17, 2017, 14:26 (74 days ago) @ David Turell

this article decries the modular approach to brain function and suggests that the whole brain must be studied to understand consciousness:

https://theconversation.com/the-brain-a-radical-rethink-is-needed-to-understand-it-74460

"Understanding the human brain is arguably the greatest challenge of modern science. The leading approach for most of the past 200 years has been to link its functions to different brain regions or even individual neurons (brain cells). But recent research increasingly suggests that we may be taking completely the wrong path if we are to ever understand the human mind.

"The idea that the brain is made up of numerous regions that perform specific tasks is known as “modularity”. And, at first glance, it has been successful. For example, it can provide an explanation for how we recognise faces by activating a chain of specific brain regions in the occipital and temporal lobes. Bodies, however, are processed by a different set of brain regions. And scientists believe that yet other areas – memory regions – help combine these perceptual stimuli to create holistic representations of people. The activity of certain brain areas has also been linked to specific conditions and diseases.

"The reason this approach has been so popular is partly due to technologies which are giving us unprecedented insight into the brain. Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), which tracks changes in blood flow in the brain, allows scientists to see brain areas light up in response to activities – helping them map functions. Meanwhile, Optogenetics, a technique that uses genetic modification of neurons so that their electrical activity can be controlled with light pulses – can help us to explore their specific contribution to brain function.

"While both approaches generate fascinating results, it is not clear whether they will ever provide a meaningful understanding of the brain. A neuroscientist who finds a correlation between a neuron or brain region and a specific but in principle arbitrary physical parameter, such as pain, will be tempted to draw the conclusion that this neuron or this part of the brain controls pain. This is ironic because, even in the neuroscientist, the brain’s inherent function is to find correlations – in whatever task it performs.

"But what if we instead considered the possibility that all brain functions are distributed across the brain and that all parts of the brain contribute to all functions? If that is the case, correlations found so far may be a perfect trap of the intellect. We then have to solve the problem of how the region or the neuron type with the specific function interacts with other parts of the brain to generate meaningful, integrated behaviour. So far, there is no general solution to this problem – just hypotheses in specific cases, such as for recognising people.

***

"Some researchers now believe the brain and its diseases in general can only be understood as an interplay between tremendous numbers of neurons distributed across the central nervous system. The function of any one neuron is dependent on the functions of all the thousands of neurons it is connected to. These, in turn, are dependent on those of others. The same region or the same neuron may be used across a huge number of contexts, but have different specific functions depending on the context.

"It may indeed be a tiny perturbation of these interplays between neurons that, through avalanche effects in the networks, causes conditions like depression or Parkinson’s disease. Either way, we need to understand the mechanisms of the networks in order to understand the causes and symptoms of these diseases. Without the full picture, we are not likely to be able to successfully cure these and many other conditions.

"In particular, neuroscience needs to start investigating how network configurations arise from the brain’s lifelong attempts to make sense of the world. We also need to get a clear picture of how the cortex, brainstem and cerebellum interact together with the muscles and the tens of thousands of optical and mechanical sensors of our bodies to create one, integrated picture.

"Connecting back to the physical reality is the only way to understand how information is represented in the brain. One of the reasons we have a nervous system in the first place is that the evolution of mobility required a controlling system. Cognitive, mental functions – and even thoughts – can be regarded as mechanisms that evolved in order to better plan for the consequences of movement and actions.

"So the way forward for neuroscience may be to focus more on general neural recordings (with optogenetics or fMRI) – without aiming to hold each neuron or brain region responsible for any particular function. This could be fed into theoretical network research, which has the potential to account for a variety of observations and provide an integrated functional explanation. In fact, such a theory should help us design experiments, rather than only the other way around."

Comment: On its face the modular approach makes no sense, even if it is the current approach. Look at the figures showing the connectivity of the whole brain.

Consciousness: Dennett says it is an ilusion

by David Turell @, Thursday, March 23, 2017, 00:48 (68 days ago) @ David Turell

John Horgan thinks he is wrong:

https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/cross-check/is-consciousness-real/?WT.mc_id=SA_MB_...

"The idea that consciousness isn’t real has always struck me as crazy, and not in a good way, but smart people espouse it. One of the smartest is philosopher Daniel Dennett, who has been questioning consciousness for decades, notably in his 1991 bestseller Consciousness Explained.

"I’ve always thought I must be missing something in Dennett’s argument, so I hoped his new book, From Bacteria to Bach and Back: The Evolution of Minds, would enlighten me. It does, but not in the way Dennett intended.

"Dennett restates his claim that Darwinian theory can account for all aspects of our existence. We don’t need an intelligent designer, or “skyhook,” to explain how eyes, hands and minds came to be, because evolution provides “cranes” for constructing all biological phenomena.

***

"But human cognition, Dennett emphasizes, still consists mainly of competence without comprehension. Our conscious thoughts represent a minute fraction of all the information processing carried out by our brains. Natural selection designed our brains to provide us with thoughts on a “need to know” basis, so we’re not overwhelmed with data.

***

"Our perceptions, memories and emotions are grossly simplified, cartoonish representations of hidden, hideously complex computations.

"None of this is novel or controversial. Dennett is just reiterating, in his oh-so-clever, neologorrheic fashion, what mind-scientists and most educated lay folk have long accepted, that the bulk of cognition happens beneath the surface of awareness.

***

"Trouble arises when Dennett, extending the computer-interface analogy, calls consciousness a “user-illusion.” I italicize illusion, because so much confusion flows from Dennett’s use of that term. An illusion is a false perception. Our thoughts are imperfect representations of our brain/minds and of the world, but that doesn’t make them necessarily false.

***

"Consider how Dennett talks about qualia, philosophers’ term for subjective experiences. My qualia at this moment are the smell of coffee, the sound of a truck rumbling by on the street, my puzzlement over Dennett’s ideas. Dennett notes that we often overrate the objective accuracy and causal power of our qualia. True enough.

"But he concludes, bizarrely, that therefore qualia are fictions, “an artifact of bad theorizing.” If we lack qualia, then we are zombies, creatures that look and even behave like humans but have no inner, subjective life.

***

"Dennett gets annoyed when critics accuse him of saying “consciousness doesn’t exist,” and to be fair, he never flatly makes that claim. His point seems to be, rather, that consciousness is so insignificant, especially compared to our exalted notions of it, that it might as well not exist.

"Dennett’s arguments are so convoluted that he allows himself plausible deniability, but he seems to be advocating eliminative materialism, which the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy defines as “the radical claim that our ordinary, common-sense understanding of the mind is deeply wrong and that some or all of the mental states posited by common-sense do not actually exist.”

***

"Reviewing From Bacteria to Bach, Nagel rebukes Dennett thus:

“'To say that there is more to reality than physics can account for is not a piece of mysticism: it is an acknowledgement that we are nowhere near a theory of everything, and that science will have to expand to accommodate facts of a kind fundamentally different from those that physics is designed to explain.”

***

"Some people surely have an unhealthy attachment to mysteries, but Dennett has an unhealthy aversion to them, which compels him to stake out unsound positions. His belief that consciousness is an illusion is nuttier than the belief that God is real.

Comment: I'm with Horgan and Nagel.

Consciousness: Dennett says it is an ilusion

by dhw, Thursday, March 23, 2017, 13:07 (68 days ago) @ David Turell

QUOTE: "Some people surely have an unhealthy attachment to mysteries, but Dennett has an unhealthy aversion to them, which compels him to stake out unsound positions. His belief that consciousness is an illusion is nuttier than the belief that God is real."

DAVID's comment: I'm with Horgan and Nagel.

So am I, apart from the totally unnecessary comparison with belief in God. Why on Earth does he bring God into it?

Consciousness: Dennett says it is an ilusion

by David Turell @, Thursday, March 23, 2017, 14:31 (68 days ago) @ dhw

QUOTE: "Some people surely have an unhealthy attachment to mysteries, but Dennett has an unhealthy aversion to them, which compels him to stake out unsound positions. His belief that consciousness is an illusion is nuttier than the belief that God is real."

DAVID's comment: I'm with Horgan and Nagel.

dhw: So am I, apart from the totally unnecessary comparison with belief in God. Why on Earth does he bring God into it?

I believe Horgan admits to atheism

Consciousness: physicist/psychiatrist explains?

by David Turell @, Thursday, May 18, 2017, 15:51 (12 days ago) @ David Turell

This odd mix of PhD's does not lead to an explanation:

https://aeon.co/essays/consciousness-is-not-a-thing-but-a-process-of-inference?utm_sour...

"As a physicist and psychiatrist, I find it difficult to engage with conversations about consciousness. My biggest gripe is that the philosophers and cognitive scientists who tend to pose the questions often assume that the mind is a thing, whose existence can be identified by the attributes it has or the purposes it fulfils.

"But in physics, it’s dangerous to assume that things ‘exist’ in any conventional sense. Instead, the deeper question is: what sorts of processes give rise to the notion (or illusion) that something exists?

***

"As a consequence, I’m compelled to treat consciousness as a process to be understood, not as a thing to be defined. Simply put, my argument is that consciousness is nothing more and nothing less than a natural process such as evolution or the weather. My favourite trick to illustrate the notion of consciousness as a process is to replace the word ‘consciousness’ with ‘evolution’ – and see if the question still makes sense. For example, the question What is consciousness for? becomes What is evolution for? Scientifically speaking, of course, we know that evolution is not for anything. It doesn’t perform a function or have reasons for doing what it does – it’s an unfolding process that can be understood only on its own terms. Since we are all the product of evolution, the same would seem to hold for consciousness and the self.

***

"Applying the same thinking to consciousness suggests that consciousness must also be a process of inference. Conscious processing is about inferring the causes of sensory states, and thereby navigating the world to elude surprises. While natural selection performs inference by selecting among different creatures, consciousness performs inference by selecting among different states of the same creature (in particular, its brain).

***

"But if consciousness is inference, does that mean all complex inferential processes are conscious, from evolution to economies to atoms? Probably not. A virus possesses all the self-organising dynamics to qualify as a process of inference; but clearly a virus doesn’t have the same qualities as a vegetarian. So what’s the difference?

What distinguishes conscious and non-conscious creatures is the way they make inferences about action and time.

***

" In our daily lives, this suggests that temporal thickness or depth waxes and wanes with the sleep-wake cycle – that there’s a mapping between the level of consciousness and the thickness of the inference we’re engaged in. On this view, a loss of consciousness occurs whenever our models lose their ‘thickness’ and become as ‘thin’ as a virus’s.

***

"We’ve gone fairly rapidly through the arguments. First, if we want to talk about complex systems, including living ones, we have to identify the necessary behaviours that their processes exhibit. This is fairly easy to do by noting that living entails existing in a set of attracting states that are frequented time and time again. This implies the existence of a Lyapunov function that is identical to (negative) self-evidence or surprise in information theory. This means that all biological processes can be construed as performing some form of inference, from evolution right through to conscious processing.

"If this is the case, then at what point do we invoke consciousness? The proposal on offer here is that the mind comes into being when self-evidencing has a temporal thickness or counterfactual depth, which grounds the inferences it can make about the consequences of future actions. There’s no real reason for minds to exist; they appear to do so simply because existence itself is the end-point of a process of reasoning. Consciousness, I’d contend, is nothing grander than inference about my future."

Comment: He describes what consciousness does, but not its inner mechanism if one exists. Very long complex article.

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