McPsychism
Posted: 23 March 2008 08:59 AM   [ Ignore ]  
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In the thread titled “Panpsychism”, AtheEisegete, a philosopher possessing inexhaustible reserves of self-confidence, and an equal measure of blather, has treated us to a grand tour of his thinking on the subject of thinking. Never leaving the comfortable confines of philosophy except to drop occasional references to interpretations of scientific research he has not bothered in the slightest to relate to one another, or to his own subject, we have arrived, as all such accounts must, at the nexus of quantum mechanics, philosophy, and something called “consciousness”.

Now, in the first decade of the twenty-first century, this has become a veritable cottage industry serving to feed numerous philosophers much like himself, who use it to pander to a nonscientific New Age audience hungry for something to replace religion. Front and center is what is being referred to in the Panpsychism thread as a “conceptual logjam” over the subject of “consciousness”, the breaking-up of which AE implies (frequently enough to be considered advertising) will usher in a new blossoming of human psychology. Of course, as all philosophers of “consciousness” must, it is assumed that everyone knows pretty much exactly what is meant by the word “consciousness” such that an entire conference can be devoted to the subject, out of which emerges nothing of value to any consciousness outside the conference.

I am, as ever, waiting for the smallest shred of evidence that all this mumbling about the role of the observer in quantum mechanics has any implications whatsoever for anyone who is studying anything at a macroscopic scale, e.g., the size and shape of his own navel. This thread dares to compare the “conceptual logjams” of philosophers and their audience with the delectably greasy products of a certain fast food chain. This kind of philosophy, “consciousness studies”, can be produced cheaply and copiously, and evidence suggests that people just eat it up. Hence the title of my thread, McPsychism.

Let’s try to connect the dots:

AtheEisegete - 27 January 2008 09:02 AM

Psychic states that tend to cause such dilation or such a sense of the soul expanding are numerous and have numerous labels, which typically have a religious cast (since they are not well understood states). Among these are the states to which you refer, where you are isolated in nature and feel the presence of “wondrous beauty”. These states seem good for a good reason, if my analysis makes any sense here.

AtheEisegete - 23 March 2008 07:09 AM

Now, that I am is not only the modern transposition of the denotational content of the Mosaic auditory hallucination “I am that I am” and the neutral truth (which is nonetheness tumescent with the infinite promise of heavenly bliss) behind the New Testamental proclamation “I am the way, the truth and the life” but also the conclusion of the Cartesian deduction “I think, therefore I am” as well as the premise of all post-Cartesian philosophy of mind in the Western tradition.

AtheEisegete - 22 March 2008 03:57 PM

I see my role in this adventure as to look for new angles here in the hope that it will help us find a way forward with the issue of how the observer fits into a physically defined reality. It is worth recalling that Einstein made the breakthrough embodied in special relativity by some fresh but quite simple thinking about the role of the observer in making measurements in moving frames of reference. We need some such thinking now to get over the conceptual logjam in quantum theory. None of this need affect crystalographers and other practitioners, but it will have a huge impact on wider fields, for example a future psychology, in my thoughtful opinion.

I’ve been out driving and have seen those bumper stickers that say, “Not all those who wander are lost.” Somehow, this does not fill me with confidence, and I would never, ever follow such an individual, unless my ambition was to bear witness to their ultimate destination in a ditch somewhere.

[ Edited: 23 March 2008 09:22 AM by Traces Elk]
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Posted: 23 March 2008 10:31 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]  
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AtheEisegete - 22 March 2008 03:57 PM

We need some such thinking now to get over the conceptual logjam in quantum theory. None of this need affect crystalographers and other practitioners, but it will have a huge impact on wider fields, for example a future psychology, in my thoughtful opinion.

I have to side with AE on this.
Clearly it is vital that we get over this logjam.
I can’t think of any other issue that is more pressing and relevant to us and our pretty blue planet right now.

I gave up on the PeterPanPsychism thread weeks ago since I was tired of reaching for my dictionary every other sentence and though I enjoy learning a new word or two I am suspicious of the motivations of posters who seem to use language as a barrier to keep the intellectual riff-raff out instead of trying to actually communicate with people.

Perhaps my peasant upbringing is showing here.

PS. I don’t eat at McP’s anymore ever since they found excrement in the burgers.

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Posted: 23 March 2008 10:55 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]  
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So, then, let us hack our way into the toothpick house of “conceptual logjams”....

AtheEisegete - 22 March 2008 03:57 PM

We need some such thinking now to get over the conceptual logjam in quantum theory.

I think AE means the conceptual logjam experienced by philosophers interpreting the experimental results of quantum physics. Pared down, the theory itself only says things like “microscopic particles cannot take arbitrary values of energy”. Perhaps this is only disturbing to philosophers who hope that conceptual logjams in philosophy can accept arbitrary levels of obfuscation.

If we were going about this like mathematicians or scientists, we would try to use language a little less hackneyed than the phrase “conceptual logjam”. However, since the “conceptual logjam” is really the lifeblood of philosophy itself, we must ask the question: Why is there any need to get over the conceptual logjam in interpreting results from QM? Suddenly jumping the gap from philosophy, where “conceptual logjams” are actually good for business, to science, where they are not, is a bit of a shock. This confusion as to whether we are doing philosophy or doing science is itself a bit of a conceptual logjam. No wonder the logjam produced by the array of concepts mustered to describe conceptual logjams is as heavily promoted as it is.

Philosophers need “some such thinking” to get over their own conceptual logjams, deeply related to quantum mechanics, because the problems of reality are turning out to be tougher than philosophy can overcome. Instead of admitting this, philosophers breezily build conference after conference upon the oozing midden heaps of their own failed models of the mind. Here’s the windup, the pitch:

AtheEisegete - 22 March 2008 03:57 PM

I see my role in this adventure as to look for new angles here in the hope that it will help us find a way forward with the issue of how the observer fits into a physically defined reality.

Of course, this assumes from the get-go that the observer has to be fit into a physically defined reality. This is really just being asserted, based entirely on the interpretations of “some thinkers”. Any proposal as to how this has something to do with psychology is quite lost in the murk of McPsychism, and we are left with the assertion that “observer” implies “psychology”, from the suggestion by “some thinkers” that the because the physics of the act of observation is important in microphysics, thus we can construct a new version of psychology upon it, yet no one ever takes the first step. It is an incantation, not a research proposal. What’s “new” about any of these “angles”? There is only the ageless angle that begins “In the hope that…”. Where have I heard that one before?

AtheEisegete - 22 March 2008 03:57 PM

In quantum theory, to return to that

We are not, however, actually returning to quantum theory, but only to its interpretation. However, since you mention it, all the precedent galloping obfuscation of the panpsychism thread is, in fact, not related to quantum mechanics and the conceptual logjams it causes (but only in philosophy). All conceptual logjams are intimately related to the confusions institutionalized by philosophy itself.

It is as if the term “conceptual logjam” is intended to refer to something outside the skull inside which the confusion lurks. Absurd.

[ Edited: 23 March 2008 11:30 AM by Traces Elk]
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Posted: 23 March 2008 11:43 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]  
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Sander - 23 March 2008 02:31 PM

I have to side with AE on this.
Clearly it is vital that we get over this logjam.
I can’t think of any other issue that is more pressing and relevant to us and our pretty blue planet right now.

OK. I’m on board, too. I will go even farther, and say that I think it is vitally vital that we get over, under, around, and through this conceptual logjam. In other words, put this logjam behind us, as we tunnel forward bravely, beyond the limitations of the potential wells of our conceptual logjams, to release ourselves from the handicap of feeble and primitive preconceptions of our psychalicious burrito minds.

I’m lovin’ it. And this is partly why:

AtheEisegete - 22 March 2008 03:57 PM

It is worth recalling that Einstein made the breakthrough embodied in special relativity by some fresh but quite simple thinking about the role of the observer in making measurements in moving frames of reference.

This is supposed to gull the suggestible into thinking (or suggest the gullible into believing) that such a conceptual mishmash leads to any sort of equivalent progress, or, indeed, any progress at all. First, we have not related the problem of the observer in special relativity to what “some thinkers” worry about as the “problem” of the observer in QM. The latter does not take place at the scale of the “human observer”, or else we’d have trouble locating our parked automobiles more often. Need it be mentioned also that special relativity, when laid out completely, has no “conceptual logjams”? Laying off a conceptual logjam on something outside your own skull is like laying off the creation of the universe on God and constructing an elaborate human-centered theology upon it.

[ Edited: 23 March 2008 12:45 PM by Traces Elk]
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Posted: 23 March 2008 08:22 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]  
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Salt Creek: 
    If “all conceptual logjams are intimately related to the confusions institutionalized by philosophy itself,” then what type of logjams are intimately related to the confusions institutionalized by quantum theory? 
    Or does that field of study harbor no such institutionalized confusion?
    Do you believe that confusion mongering is a profitable business, peculiar to philosophers and “New Agers”? 
   

Sander: 
    I agree entirely with the sentiment that AtheEisegete uses his overblown vocabulary to build walls that block communication, rather than bridges to facilitate it.  I think really smart people can be really stupid sometimes.  Or, to be more specific, really smart people can be really petty and counterproductive sometimes.  It’s a shame too.  One would hope that people of superior intelligence would be people of superior character, but it doesn’t always work out that way. Something’s gotta give, I guess.

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Posted: 25 March 2008 12:34 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]  
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Salt Creek - 23 March 2008 03:43 PM

Need it be mentioned also that special relativity, when laid out completely, has no “conceptual logjams”? Laying off a conceptual logjam on something outside your own skull is like laying off the creation of the universe on God and constructing an elaborate human-centered theology upon it.

The conceptual logjam was between Newtonian mechanics and Maxwellian electrodynamics, which Einstein cleared up. The conceptual logjam in QM is evident from countless learned books on the subject (a recent one from my colleagues at Springer—Quo Vadis Quantum Mechanics?—is just one of many).

But I take the point made by several posters that my mixing of lexical fun and sober science is hard to take. Let me try to sober up by quoting my latest post from the Panpsychism thread:

Panpsychism is the idea that a psi field permeates physical reality and determines how things seem to us. This field takes peak values in zones associated with human consciousness and finds its unity in the transparency of all reality to our mental searchlight. The psi field unfolds mathematically in a rather complicated way that finds its simplest expression to date in the Schrödinger equation. Solving that equation for big molecules, let alone for the huge assemblies of molecules making up human brains, is not yet computationally feasible.

Worlds of human consciousness are most simply characterized logically as the natural models of sets of sentences. A suitably formalized set of sentences is true together in a world, or rather a mindworld. Truth is the primitive notion here. A true indicative sentence, or a statement, expresses a fact. But facts clump together, and a self-contained set of facts is a world. What makes a set of facts self-contained is that the set of statements expressing them is closed under logical implication (this is the proof-theoretic criterion) and modeled in a ranked V-set in the cumulative hierarchy of sets (this is the model-theoretic criterion).

Because time marches on and things change, we inhabit a succession of such worlds. These are physical worlds, each corresponding to a distribution of momenergy (John Wheeler’s word) in spacetime. Special is the permeation with psi. In each world, the world wave function, the “wow” function, in effect specifies the facts that make up that world. It does so by assigning probabilities to the various statements that have meaning in that world. The probabilities arise in turn from probability amplitudes and entanglements in a way that is familiar in principle to physicists.

New in this approach—what puts the “mind” in mindworlds—is the treatment of world closure. In classical physics, we all inhabit one big world, which stretches off into the unknown future. My radical constructivism says let each moment of time define its own world, closed and complete, but destined to bud into a new world at the next moment. The wow function defines a symmetric distribution of futures that breaks with a “pop”—a probabilistic ontology parturition (sorry—this just means birth of new things).

As time unfolds and we experience new things, the wow function keeps on popping. Our interaction with things makes it pop. A world comes to a focus in our consciousness, which is a holistic mindfield or an extended entanglement characterized by high peaks of wow. The bubble of peaked wow jiggles and pops, and there we are in a new world. In my speculative physics for all this, the peaked wow is carried by deep-radio photons generated by the rhythmic humming of neurons in the neocortex, but that needs testing.

OK, guys, take your shots. I’m as sceptical as you are, but this makes as much sense as any other theory I’ve seen, so I shall take a Hail Mary with it. Apologies to quantum wacko Fred Alan Wolf, who a few years ago talked of popping qwiffs and made me see how much fun all this could be.

Unless or until SC learns to separate fact-based criticism from ad hominem shit, I shall leave it there for this thread.

[ Edited: 25 March 2008 06:34 AM by AtheEisegete]
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Posted: 25 March 2008 06:19 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]  
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Andy, I’m guessing that you’ve experienced some moments of insightful vision, and that you’re now attempting to create a new way of viewing certain things in the world, though you’ve admitted that it remains a work in progress. I’m guessing that it’s frustrating to know whatever it is that you know, because only very few other people alive have bothered to read the works you’ve read and studied the things you have. If you’ll indulge me for a moment, I’ll be happy to critique your approach.

First, I feel a need simply to note how unusually gifted you seem to be. Many people have strong memory, and lots of others are able to understand difficult and obscure concepts. You have both abilities, which the world seems to lack. Maybe this is obvious, but I point it out here to remind you of the occasional need for a writer either to seek out a suitable audience or to alter his style. I’m guessing that only a relative handful of impeccably well-read scholar-types (for example, on the level of John Brand or burt) have the intellectual chops, mental energy, educational background and spare time to ponder and make sense of most of the posts you’ve written on this forum. It seems clear to me that if you seek an audience broader than an extremely slim slice of literate humanity, you will seek alternative ways of expressing things. Andy Ross for Dummies.

Also, I’d jettison the almost constant attributions, as they interrupt your flow. You may want to create an anti-plagiarism page on your website that goes with some detail into proper attribution. Then if anyone accuses you of stealing ideas, just refer them to this general-attribution page.

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Philosophy may in no way interfere with the actual use of language; it can in the end only describe it. For it cannot give it any foundations either. It leaves everything as it is.
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Posted: 25 March 2008 10:57 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]  
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homunculus - 25 March 2008 10:19 AM

It seems clear to me that if you seek an audience broader than an extremely slim slice of literate humanity, you will seek alternative ways of expressing things.

Thanks, Homunculus, for the helpful and pertinent advice. I do want to write a popular (ahem, semi-popular) book outlining my views, which is why I need to practice a little here, to see what works.

McPsychism—would that be multiple-choice psychism, as if to say we choose the branch we follow in the quantum multiverse? If so, I’ll take the deep Pan pyzza.

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