5 of 35
5
The Mystery of Consciousness - Not so mysterious?
Posted: 26 October 2011 06:21 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 61 ]  
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1763
Joined  2006-08-20
SoldatHeero - 26 October 2011 09:28 PM

“That’s pretty heavy. “I am the outcome of perception” would look cool on a t shirt but of course it doesn’t mean anything. Without your body and brain and the energy passing through them in an open system, “you” are nothing.”

Yeah see thats what this debate really comes down to. I recognize perception as its own thing in that it is distinctly different than matter and energy. You seem however to see perception as being identical to matter and energy while ignoring its actual occurance as being distinctly different.

I think it is more appropriate to say I am perception because it is true that our being requires must fundementally, perception to be occuring.

Take sleep for instance. Would you not say you do not exist during deep sleep? There is no perception, so there is no experience and therefore there is no you.

What you are calling perception is a function of matter and energy.

 Signature 

The ants are my friends, they’re blowing in the wind, the ants are blowing in the wind.

Dog is my co-pilot

Profile
 
 
Posted: 26 October 2011 06:37 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 62 ]  
Member
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  173
Joined  2011-10-16
eucaryote - 26 October 2011 01:58 PM

Again, though I hate the analogy, we are in a matrix of sorts. But but where our maps of the matrix are not the real territory, the matrix itself, the territory, is real. It represents the deep and timeless ecology into which we are embedded and cannot ever escape, even in our dreams. We literally cannot conceive of any world but this. We have no free will that allows us to think, behave or even dream of anything outside this box.

To correct the analogy, the “matrix” is nothing more than the tree of life itself.

In order to get a handle on sentience, maybe we could talk about the shortcomings of a) the Matrix and b) Conway’s Life World.

a)  The movie Matrix is a mess when we compare it with real consciousness. 
  i.  It’s the wrong way around.  We create our own mental map within our minds, each of us; it’s not that our brains are put into a vat – we don’t need a vat to do what we do with reality!  That is, it is not the inputs to our brains that are the issue, it is what we do with those inputs that gives rise to the inner world we act on;
  ii.  What we construct with our minds is a world that now has added feelings, meaning, purpose, values, etc.  And yes, our imaginings do allow us to escape the real world and enter into our inner world; we do very much conceive of worlds other than this.  It is a highly coloured world – but the ‘real’ world is a lesser world than ours; it is just a black-and-white world!  In one sense the real world is the slightly skewed or underdeveloped or un-self-actualising world and our world, if we each follow and realise our potentials bit by bit, can be the ‘truer’ world;
  iii.  Our inner worlds arise or emerge out of the outer real world.  They are not disconnected through a brain vat.  This is what makes Life World a better analogy.
b)  Life World is not complete.
  i.  Dennett says with regard to the game “be careful; it can be addictive and fun – and it may lead you to abandon your life-defining hatred of determinism!”  But I think the model achieves no such thing.  There is a programmer sitting behind each phenomenon of Life World planning the distant future, thinking about how to survive obstacles in the path of his/her glider (or whatever) using the pseudo-rules of the glider’s higher world-level.  So put the glider and programmer together and you have a good model of emergence and aspects of sentience, but you haven’t quite solved the problem of consciousness yet.  Dennett asserts “we can say with some confidence that our toy deterministic world is one in which all the necessary ingredients exist for the evolution of ... avoiders!”  But his toy world hasn’t actually dealt with all those necessary ingredients or explained exactly what they are, because they exist in the workings of the programmer’s mind, not the toy world.  Replication and mutation might be the ingredients, but they are not in the Conway’s Game of Life…

[ Edited: 31 October 2011 03:37 AM by Michael Kean]
 Signature 

“That all men are by nature equally free and independent, and have certain inherent rights, of which, when they enter into a state of society, they cannot, by any compact, deprive or divest their posterity; namely, the enjoyment of life and liberty, with the means of acquiring and possessing property, and pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety.”  (The first article of the Virginia Declaration of Rights adopted unanimously by the Virginia Convention of Delegates on June 12, 1776)

Profile
 
 
Posted: 26 October 2011 06:53 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 63 ]  
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1763
Joined  2006-08-20
Michael Kean - 26 October 2011 10:37 PM

Dennett asserts “we can say with some confidence that our toy deterministic world is one in which all the necessary ingredients exist for the evolution of ... avoiders!”  But his toy world hasn’t actually dealt with all those necessary ingredients or explained exactly what they are, because they exist in the workings of the programmer’s mind, not the toy world.  Replication and mutation might be the ingredients, but they are not in the Conway’s Game of Life…

Yes! Here we see again the idea that we can take what we have learned and use it to avoid future problems. It’s not so much that we know how to deal with future problems but how to avoid them. This kind of simple avoidance algorithm can be immensely useful. We can see it in action across the living world.

 Signature 

The ants are my friends, they’re blowing in the wind, the ants are blowing in the wind.

Dog is my co-pilot

Profile
 
 
Posted: 26 October 2011 07:23 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 64 ]  
Member
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  173
Joined  2011-10-16

And avoidance is not a mechanism for dealing with the future?

Yes our minds are computational and algorithmic, but where did all our imagined futures come from? Cause and effect?  The single possible future hasn’t happened yet!  We might have focussed on a wrong future, a future brought about by different causes, in which case that particular mechanism will likely fail.  Ah, but if we hit on the right future amongst all our mechanisms, then we’re a step ahead of that single future outcome!  We prove ourselves better than an organism of lesser consciousness!  Our soft determinism pays off…

 Signature 

“That all men are by nature equally free and independent, and have certain inherent rights, of which, when they enter into a state of society, they cannot, by any compact, deprive or divest their posterity; namely, the enjoyment of life and liberty, with the means of acquiring and possessing property, and pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety.”  (The first article of the Virginia Declaration of Rights adopted unanimously by the Virginia Convention of Delegates on June 12, 1776)

Profile
 
 
Posted: 26 October 2011 07:55 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 65 ]  
Newbie
Rank
Total Posts:  22
Joined  2011-10-18

“What you are calling perception is a function of matter and energy.”

Perhaps, but it is still not energy and matter, it is distinctly different. See the way you say “what you are calling perception” makes it seem like you are saying “what you are incorrectly calling perception is really matter and energy.” as if perception is a useless word that describes nothing unique (different then energy/matter). This is your great misconception, IMO of course.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 26 October 2011 08:58 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 66 ]  
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1763
Joined  2006-08-20
SoldatHeero - 26 October 2011 11:55 PM

“What you are calling perception is a function of matter and energy.”

Perhaps, but it is still not energy and matter, it is distinctly different. See the way you say “what you are calling perception” makes it seem like you are saying “what you are incorrectly calling perception is really matter and energy.” as if perception is a useless word that describes nothing unique (different then energy/matter). This is your great misconception, IMO of course.

No, think again. Think of perception and experience as a standing wave, (literally as in a river). It’s a thermodynamically open system. Energy is dissipated and material is manipulated to conform to local environmental constructs, (rocks on the bottom). Such standing waves, cannot be frozen to be studied as an instant slice of time. The uncertainty principle belies this possibility.

Human physiology is embedded with both the hardware and the software to make (some), sense of the world “outside” the organism. Much of our cognitive apparatus is “unconsciously”, strongly defining the difference between self and non self in the real, ongoing world of deep ecology See” immune system”.

If Sam Harris is right in any respect, we naturally lack any appreciation of this.

 Signature 

The ants are my friends, they’re blowing in the wind, the ants are blowing in the wind.

Dog is my co-pilot

Profile
 
 
Posted: 26 October 2011 09:08 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 67 ]  
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1763
Joined  2006-08-20
Michael Kean - 26 October 2011 11:23 PM

And avoidance is not a mechanism for dealing with the future?

Yes our minds are computational and algorithmic, but where did all our imagined futures come from? Cause and effect?  The single possible future hasn’t happened yet!  We might have focussed on a wrong future, a future brought about by different causes, in which case that particular mechanism will likely fail.  Ah, but if we hit on the right future amongst all our mechanisms, then we’re a step ahead of that single future outcome!  We prove ourselves better than an organism of lesser consciousness!  Our soft determinism pays off…

Well sure, but only when the future isn’t certain. Study the behavior of individuals in schools of fish, chased by a real and certain predator. What are you doing when you take shelter from the thunderstorm or run from the earthquake?

 Signature 

The ants are my friends, they’re blowing in the wind, the ants are blowing in the wind.

Dog is my co-pilot

Profile
 
 
Posted: 26 October 2011 09:38 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 68 ]  
Member
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  173
Joined  2011-10-16
eucaryote - 27 October 2011 01:08 AM
Michael Kean - 26 October 2011 11:23 PM

And avoidance is not a mechanism for dealing with the future?...

Well sure, but only when the future isn’t certain. Study the behavior of individuals in schools of fish, chased by a real and certain predator. What are you doing when you take shelter from the thunderstorm or run from the earthquake?

Not sure what you mean - all are examples of consciousness dealing with the future.  For instance if you ever watch schooling fish in a fish tank some fish stay in school more strictly than others - that is, if we see schooling as a future-risk-mitigating response, then some fish have a less threatening picture of future reality in their (I assume subconscious) minds than others (i.e. they all act as individuals).  But as the threat gets bigger, they school more carefully.

I guess, to be fair, my comment “where did all our imagined futures come from? Cause and effect?  The single possible future hasn’t happened yet!” was a bit of a cheap trick.  We could say that all the imagined futures were caused, as well as their number and nature.  But the point is, the immediate cause was in our heads and a matter of introspection rather than extrospection.  And it is this difference in the source of causes that is interesting.  We set 6 bear traps around our camp, trying to protect everyone in our troop overnight.  And bingo, next morning we find our bear in one of our “future-traps”.  Evolutionary success!  How can we equate the idea of hard determinism with the soft and mushy, subjective and imaginary world within our brains - not driven by the 4 interactions of the standard model alone, but a new interaction different to those - called subjective or introspective or contemplative consciousness?  Perhaps its by suggesting that this new interaction is special and a triumph rather than an embarrassment or an illusion…

[ Edited: 27 October 2011 05:27 AM by Michael Kean]
 Signature 

“That all men are by nature equally free and independent, and have certain inherent rights, of which, when they enter into a state of society, they cannot, by any compact, deprive or divest their posterity; namely, the enjoyment of life and liberty, with the means of acquiring and possessing property, and pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety.”  (The first article of the Virginia Declaration of Rights adopted unanimously by the Virginia Convention of Delegates on June 12, 1776)

Profile
 
 
Posted: 27 October 2011 01:25 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 69 ]  
Member
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  233
Joined  2011-10-22
eucaryote - 26 October 2011 05:45 PM

Really! Does “inanimate matter” give you any reason to think it might be conscious? It is inanimate after all.  I see no evidence of consciousness in rocks. If I do, I will change my opinion. ;-)

You look at behavior to infer which things are conscious, by comparing that things behavior with your own behavior. The more similar, the more likely you think the thing is to be conscious. A rock will score very low, a fellow human will score very high.


There are several issues with this:


1. how far are you willing to go? Similarities between the behavior of rocks and humans can be found. After all, rocks consist of elementary particles too, and they do also behave according to the fundamental forces.


2. if one picks the human as the starting point of comparison, then one will always end up with an anthropomorphized version of consciousness. It is essentially circular reasoning, no offense intended. I will explain why: first one assumes that only human-like behavior is accompanied with consciousness, and then when one doesnt find that behavior in another object one concludes that the other object isnt conscious. This can be summarised as: only objects X are conscious. Object Y isnt conscious because it isnt X. Replace X with “humanlike behavior” and Y with “rocks”.


So depending on what kind of behavior one chooses as X, one will get more conscious things in the universe. If for X one picks “only brains”, then the result is that only things with brains are conscious. If for X one picks “electrons”, then the result is that anything with electrons is conscious. So that is why i called it circular reasoning: one will find consciousness only where one assumes it is.


3. Behavior only allows us to infer consciousness. Lack of that behavior doesnt allow us to infer “lack of consciousness”. I will explain why: suppose you have two boxes. You shake one of the boxes (the other not) and you can hear all kinds of things bouncing inside it. From those sounds you can infer that there is something inside the box. The box you didnt shake, doesnt make any sounds. Can you infer from the lack of sounds, that the box is empty inside? No. Not shaking the box simply removes your ability to infer what is inside it.


The same goes for consciousness: when a thing doesnt behave like a human, then you simply lose the ability to infer whether the thing is conscious. You do not gain the ability to infer that it is nonconscious.

[ Edited: 27 October 2011 01:38 AM by srrr]
Profile
 
 
Posted: 27 October 2011 04:46 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 70 ]  
Newbie
Rank
Total Posts:  36
Joined  2009-07-31
eucaryote - 26 October 2011 07:38 PM
Dreadlocks - 26 October 2011 06:04 PM
eucaryote - 26 October 2011 01:58 PM

However I do think that the there needs to be sufficient complexity in terms of material reality to embed and execute the instruction sets of simple cognitive and recognitive algorithms. When an organism can cognize, re-cognize, and respond appropriately (adaptation), the organism can be said to possess the rudiments of “consciousness”.

An army follows instructions, organizes and reorganizes, recognizes threats, and responds appropriately when it engages in combat with another army. Are armies conscious? If not, why not?

I have to question your assumptions in the first sentence. Armies are not organisms.

Armies and organisms are made of atoms. Both detect and process information in order to adapt appropriately to their environment. Why is it important to you that it be an organism? Why does it matter that the functions are processed in one brain as opposed to many? Both are ultimately just atoms separated by space. Is there a distance limitation? Must atoms be within a few inches of one another? If so, why?

Profile
 
 
Posted: 27 October 2011 09:16 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 71 ]  
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1763
Joined  2006-08-20
srrr - 27 October 2011 05:25 AM
eucaryote - 26 October 2011 05:45 PM

Really! Does “inanimate matter” give you any reason to think it might be conscious? It is inanimate after all.  I see no evidence of consciousness in rocks. If I do, I will change my opinion. wink


You look at behavior to infer which things are conscious, by comparing that things behavior with your own behavior. The more similar, the more likely you think the thing is to be conscious. A rock will score very low, a fellow human will score very high.

No. We can make scientific inferences of cognitive function based on behavior of individual organisms.. No need to compare with human behavior, that would be a mistake. Also, no need to rank high and low. That’s also a mistake. Our individual environments have sculpted our respective sets of cognitive functions as appropriate for that environment.. They are what they are.  I use the word cognition simply because the phenomenon can be identified in this way.

It’s only the relative meaninglessness of the word “consciousness” that lets you make the arguments you do.

 Signature 

The ants are my friends, they’re blowing in the wind, the ants are blowing in the wind.

Dog is my co-pilot

Profile
 
 
Posted: 27 October 2011 09:31 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 72 ]  
Member
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  233
Joined  2011-10-22
eucaryote - 27 October 2011 01:16 PM

No. We can make scientific inferences of cognitive function based on behavior of individual organisms..

Yeah but we are talking about consciousness here, not about cognition or behavior. Of course behavior can be observed directly, but you cannot observe directly whether the behavior is accompanied by experiences.

No need to compare with human behavior, that would be a mistake. Also, no need to rank high and low. That’s also a mistake. Our individual environments have sculpted our respective sets of cognitive functions as appropriate for that environment.. They are what they are.  I use the word cognition simply because the phenomenon can be identified in this way.

It’s only the relative meaninglessness of the word “consciousness” that lets you make the arguments you do.

Btw, i gave my definition of consciousness earlier, so it should be clear what is meant with the term. The arguments i do are precisely because such a phenomenon exists in nature. Its not my fault that consciousness exists, im just sticking to reality.

[ Edited: 27 October 2011 09:34 AM by srrr]
Profile
 
 
Posted: 27 October 2011 01:38 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 73 ]  
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1763
Joined  2006-08-20
srrr - 27 October 2011 01:31 PM
eucaryote - 27 October 2011 01:16 PM

No. We can make scientific inferences of cognitive function based on behavior of individual organisms..

Yeah but we are talking about consciousness here, not about cognition or behavior. Of course behavior can be observed directly, but you cannot observe directly whether the behavior is accompanied by experiences.

No need to compare with human behavior, that would be a mistake. Also, no need to rank high and low. That’s also a mistake. Our individual environments have sculpted our respective sets of cognitive functions as appropriate for that environment.. They are what they are.  I use the word cognition simply because the phenomenon can be identified in this way.

It’s only the relative meaninglessness of the word “consciousness” that lets you make the arguments you do.

Btw, i gave my definition of consciousness earlier, so it should be clear what is meant with the term. The arguments i do are precisely because such a phenomenon exists in nature. Its not my fault that consciousness exists, im just sticking to reality.

Yes you did use the word experience and then perception which I accept as corollary to and inextricably interlinked with cognitive processes, which is what we can measure and observe. Experience is the continuing, (but belated), model representation of the surrounding world created by the creature that is you. I don’t think that it’s possible to have experience without cognition of some kind. It’s not sufficient to be a replicator to demonstrate cognition as we can see with procaryotes, virus, and memes. Basic cognition is, does the creature give us reason to think that it recognizes and distinguishes itself from an outside world?

Ultimately, what you are calling “consciousness” is explicable. Even though it seems like magic, it’s not. It’s just a trick. Not only that but I think that we are rapidly learning exactly how the trick is done.

 Signature 

The ants are my friends, they’re blowing in the wind, the ants are blowing in the wind.

Dog is my co-pilot

Profile
 
 
Posted: 28 October 2011 03:20 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 74 ]  
Member
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  233
Joined  2011-10-22
eucaryote - 27 October 2011 05:38 PM

Yes you did use the word experience and then perception which I accept as corollary to and inextricably interlinked with cognitive processes, which is what we can measure and observe. Experience is the continuing, (but belated), model representation of the surrounding world created by the creature that is you. I don’t think that it’s possible to have experience without cognition of some kind. It’s not sufficient to be a replicator to demonstrate cognition as we can see with procaryotes, virus, and memes. Basic cognition is, does the creature give us reason to think that it recognizes and distinguishes itself from an outside world?

All you can see in organisms other than yourself is behavior. You cannot see/feel/hear what the organism sees/feels/hears, or if it experiences anything at all. You accept that a cat experiences something, and a rock not, because the cat behaves more similar to human behavior than a rock does.


Lets use the example of the cat and focus on it. You see a cat. The cats eyes are directed at, and follow the path of a moving fly. We probably both agree that the cat actually sees (experiences) the fly. But how do agree with this without ultimately comparing the cats behavior with humanlike behavior?

Ultimately, what you are calling “consciousness” is explicable. Even though it seems like magic, it’s not. It’s just a trick. Not only that but I think that we are rapidly learning exactly how the trick is done.

The idea that consciousness is an illusion (or a trick) isnt in any way a materialist idea. Quite the opposite in fact. Illusions require consciousness. This is true for any idea in which consciousness is something else than it appears to be.

[ Edited: 28 October 2011 07:53 AM by srrr]
Profile
 
 
Posted: 28 October 2011 09:48 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 75 ]  
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1763
Joined  2006-08-20
srrr - 28 October 2011 07:20 AM

Lets use the example of the cat and focus on it. You see a cat. The cats eyes are directed at, and follow the path of a moving fly. We probably both agree that the cat actually sees (experiences) the fly. But how do agree with this without ultimately comparing the cats behavior with humanlike behavior?

Well, because we understand how eyes and how the cognitive process called vision works. However, I think that it would be a mistake to think that we experience what the cat does as cats have a different point of view as a function of their morphology. There is no need to experience the cat’s experience to know that it has one.

Ultimately, what you are calling “consciousness” is explicable. Even though it seems like magic, it’s not. It’s just a trick. Not only that but I think that we are rapidly learning exactly how the trick is done.

srrr - 28 October 2011 07:20 AM

The idea that consciousness is an illusion (or a trick) isnt in any way a materialist idea. Quite the opposite in fact. Illusions require consciousness. This is true for any idea in which consciousness is something else than it appears to be.

So consciousness is an immaterial thing not part of the physical organism having the experience but you can fool the consciousness by fooling the physical organism?

 Signature 

The ants are my friends, they’re blowing in the wind, the ants are blowing in the wind.

Dog is my co-pilot

Profile
 
 
   
5 of 35
5
 
RSS 2.0     Atom Feed