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How Does Evolution Produce Consciousnes/Reason?
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Fist and Faith
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 10, 2018 12:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I just watched David Chalmers' Ted Talk. I can't imagine he does not know of Nagel's book, although he didn't mention it. But he thinks we need to explore radical ideas if we want to figure this out. He gave a couple.
Quote:
The first crazy idea is that consciousness is fundamental. Physicists sometimes take some aspects of the universe as fundamental building blocks: space and time and mass. They postulate fundamental laws governing them, like the laws of gravity or of quantum mechanics. These fundamental properties and laws aren't explained in terms of anything more basic. Rather, they're taken as primitive, and you build up the world from there. Now sometimes, the list of fundamentals expands. In the 19th century, Maxwell figured out that you can't explain electromagnetic phenomena in terms of the existing fundamentals - space, time, mass, Newton's laws - so he postulated fundamental laws of electromagnetism and postulated electric charge as a fundamental element that those laws govern. I think that's the situation we're in with consciousness. If you can't explain consciousness in terms of the existing fundamentals - space, time, mass, charge - then as a matter of logic, you need to expand the list. The natural thing to do is to postulate consciousness itself as something fundamental, a fundamental building block of nature. This doesn't mean you suddenly can't do science with it. This opens up the way for you to do science with it. What we then need is to study the fundamental laws governing consciousness, the laws that connect consciousness to other fundamentals: space, time, mass, physical processes. Physicists sometimes say that we want fundamental laws so simple that we could write them on the front of a t-shirt. Well I think something like that is the situation we're in with consciousness. We want to find fundamental laws so simple we could write them on the front of a t-shirt. We don't know what those laws are yet, but that's what we're after.

The second crazy idea is that consciousness might be universal. Every system might have some degree of consciousness. This view is sometimes called panpsychism: pan for all, psych for mind, every system is conscious, not just humans, dogs, mice, flies, but even Rob Knight's microbes, elementary particles. Even a photon has some degree of consciousness. The idea is not that photons are intelligent or thinking. It's not that a photon is wracked with angst because it's thinking, "Aww, I'm always buzzing around near the speed of light. I never get to slow down and smell the roses." No, not like that. But the thought is maybe photons might have some element of raw, subjective feeling, some primitive precursor to consciousness.

This may sound a bit kooky to you. I mean, why would anyone think such a crazy thing? Some motivation comes from the first crazy idea, that consciousness is fundamental. If it's fundamental, like space and time and mass, it's natural to suppose that it might be universal too, the way they are. It's also worth noting that although the idea seems counterintuitive to us, it's much less counterintuitive to people from different cultures, where the human mind is seen as much more continuous with nature.

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 10, 2018 3:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yeah, Nagel certainly beat him to that idea. It's interesting that people are coalescing around this idea given the problem of consciousness.

Of course I've been thinking about it since high school. They should have all been listening to me!
Laughing
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 10, 2018 5:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Being ahead of your time is a curse.
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 11, 2018 2:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I also just read Other Minds - The Octopus, the Sea, and the Deep Origins of Consciousness, by Peter Godfrey-Smith. Very enjoyable.

Quote:
Cephalopods are an island of mental complexity in the sea of invertebrate animals. Because our most recent common ancestor was so simple and lies so far back, cephalopods are an independent experiment in the evolution of large brains and complex behavior. If we can make contact with cephalopods as sentient beings, it is not because of a shared history, not because of kinship, but because evolution built minds twice over. This is probably the closest we will come to meeting an intelligent alien.


He talks about how different they are:
Quote:
Vertebrate brains all have a common architecture. When vertebrate brains are compared to octopus brains, all bets - or rather, all mappings - are off. There is no part-by-part correspondence between the parts of their brains and ours. Indeed, octopuses have not even collected the majority of their neurons inside their brains; most of the neurons are found in their arms.
Here's a lot about embodied cognition (which I'm sure some of you had already known about, but I had never heard of it):
Quote:
One central idea is that our body itself, rather than our brain, is responsible for some of the "smartness" with which we handle the world. Our body's own structure encodes some information about the environment and how we must deal with it, so not all this information needs to be stored in the brain. The joints and angles of our limbs, for example, make motions such as walking naturally arise. Knowing how to walk is partly a matterof having the right body. As Hillel Chiel and Randall Beer put it, an animal's body structure creates both constraints and opportunities, which guide its action.

Some octopus researchers have been influenced by this way of thinking, especially Benny Hochner. Hochner believes these ideas can help us grasp the octopus/human differences. Octopuses have a different embodiment, which has consequences for their different kind of psychology.

I agree with that last point. But the doctrines of the embodied cognition movement do not really fit well with the strangeness of the octopus's way of being. Defenders of embodied cognition often say that the body's shape and organization encodes information. But that requires that there be a shape to the body, and an octopus has less of a fixed shape than other animals. The same animal can stand tall on its arms, squeeze through a hole little bigger than its eye, become a streamlined missile, or fold itself to fit into a jar. When advocates of embodied cognition such as Chiel and Beer give examples of how bodies provide resources for intelligent action, they mention the distances between parts of a body (which aid perception) and the locations and angles of joints. The octopus body has none of those things - no fixed distances between parts, no joints, no natural angles. Further, the relevant contrast in the octopus case is not "body rather than brain" - the contrast usually emphasized in discussions of embodied cognition. In an octopus, the nervous system as a whole is a more relevant object than the brain: it's not clear where the brain itself begins and ends, and the nervous system runs all through the body. The octopus is suffused with nervousness; the body is not a separate thing that is controlled by the brain or nervous system.

The octopus, indeed, has a "different embodiment," but one so unusual that it does not fit any of the standard views in this area. The usual debate is between those who see the brain as an all-powerful CEO and those who emphasize the intelligence stored in the body itself. Both views rely on a distinction between brain-based and body-based knowledge. The octopus lives outside both the usual pictures. Its embodiment prevents it from doing the sorts of things that are usually emphasized in the embodied cognition theories. The octopus, in a sense, is disembodied. That word makes it sound immaterial, which is not, of course, what I have in mind. It has a body, and is a material object. But the body itself is protean, all possibility; it has none of the costs and gains of a constraining and action-guiding body. The octopus lives outside the usual body/brain divide.

The differences between us and the octopus are incredible. Not just between the physical structures of the bodies and the distribution of the brain within the body, but also the very different environments we live in. The idea that there can be any common ground where our minds are concerned might seem impossible. But, of course, we both: are physical beings, subject to things like gravity; need to eat; need to perceive our surroundings... So finding at least a little common ground might not be completely unexpected.

As far as embodied cognition goes, imo, the lack of a fixed shape, distance between body parts, and natural angles shouldn't matter. The body will still create constraints and opportunities. We just need to learn to recognize what they are. But if the idea is to differentiate between knowledge of the body and knowledge of the brain, but the brain is distributed throughout the body, then there are not two different types of knowledge to differentiate between.


Regarding common ground, check out the eyes:
Quote:
Octopuses and other cephalopods have exceptionally good eyes, and these are eyes built on the same general design as ours. Two experiments in the evolution of large nervous systems landed on similar ways of seeing.
------
The most dramatic similarity is the eyes. Our common ancestor may have had a pair of eyespots, but it did not have eyes anything like ours. Vertebrates and cephalopods separately evolved "camera" eyes, with a lens that focuses an image on a retina.
That is extraordinary.


Much of the book was about the various thoughts on how perception, multicellular life, and nervous systems came about.
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 12, 2018 4:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Fist, I'm glad for your discovery of that book---and that it looks interesting cuz it's on my list, but haven't read it yet...
BUT---seriously, man, we had a long argument that is bound hand and foot with the embodied cognition. [[by we, I mean several of us, not just you and me]].
Also the divergent brains [[birds and octopodes both were mentioned, maybe others.]] that, structurally more and less similar--but the OUTPUT, rational solutions/actions, remarkably similar.
I think he has a misunderstanding of proprioception and how it works from that snippet.
I have little doubt there will be fascinating uniqueness and particularities in octopode psychology and many other things. But the similarities of ouput despite differing sensorium and input matters, too---a lot---in the question of consciousness.
Which brings me to your earlier--
I don't think consciousness is/must be fundamentally "present," in whole or in part for every particle for it to STILL be a common thing that comes to exist.
I mean: diamonds are pure carbon, with certain properties that emerge from carbon-ness and circumstances/environment.
BUT that doesn't mean that every carbon atom has an inherent fragment of diamond-ness in it. All the atoms have is a particular array of electrons that form a particular kind bond under particular circumstances. It is process/interaction/expression-in-context that becomes-diamond. A combination and transformation.
[[None of which means consciousness ISN't present somehow in that way.
But I doubt it, and I'll doubt it until someone comes up with a theory and test for a quantum consciousness field, and it's excitation/force-carrying virtual particle. Or something similar/explanatory/testable in a new model/theory]]

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 12, 2018 12:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Vraith wrote:
BUT---seriously, man, we had a long argument that is bound hand and foot with the embodied cognition.
Right?!? Laughing

Vraith wrote:
Also the divergent brains [[birds and octopodes both were mentioned, maybe others.]] that, structurally more and less similar--but the OUTPUT, rational solutions/actions, remarkably similar.
I think he has a misunderstanding of proprioception and how it works from that snippet.
I have little doubt there will be fascinating uniqueness and particularities in octopode psychology and many other things. But the similarities of ouput despite differing sensorium and input matters, too---a lot---in the question of consciousness.
Yeah, despite various differences, we all live in the same world, and must deal with very similar things. It makes sense that there are similarities of output. I guess a truly different consciousness would have to arise under entirely different circumstances. We might not be able to find any common ground with such a consciousness, and might not be able to communicate with it at all.

Vraith wrote:
Which brings me to your earlier--
I don't think consciousness is/must be fundamentally "present," in whole or in part for every particle for it to STILL be a common thing that comes to exist.
I mean: diamonds are pure carbon, with certain properties that emerge from carbon-ness and circumstances/environment.
BUT that doesn't mean that every carbon atom has an inherent fragment of diamond-ness in it. All the atoms have is a particular array of electrons that form a particular kind bond under particular circumstances. It is process/interaction/expression-in-context that becomes-diamond. A combination and transformation.
[[None of which means consciousness ISN't present somehow in that way.
But I doubt it, and I'll doubt it until someone comes up with a theory and test for a quantum consciousness field, and it's excitation/force-carrying virtual particle. Or something similar/explanatory/testable in a new model/theory]]
The problem is, while we can see how carbon atoms can combine to form diamonds, despite not having an inherent fragment of diamond-ness in them, we can't see how any atoms, or any other kinds of known particles, can combine to form/cause consciousness. When dealing with the physical, how the properties of the particles give rise to the properties of the whole is easy enough to understand. The same cannot be said when dealing with consciousness. Either the particles have properties that we are not aware of, or the whole has properties that the particles cannot account for. The first option seems easier to accept. We certainly do not claim to know all that can be known about the particles.

The second option is more difficult. If a property of the whole cannot be accounted for by its parts, what does account for it? And how amazing is the coincidence that this unaccounted for thing just happens to work so wonderfully with this thing that cannot account for it?

But yeah, seriously, what is a "primitive precursor to consciousness" that allows a photon to possess it?
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 12, 2018 5:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Fist and Faith wrote:
If a property of the whole cannot be accounted for by its parts, what does account for it?


Well, first, I don't think there is a lack of accountability---just us so far lacking knowledge of the mechanisms/processes/nature of things-and-all.
The thing is, I'm ALSO not sure that this lack/gap is necessarily special or unique to consciousness. It just SEEMS that way, cuz people---including us, almost certainly---think we know more than we do because we all have direct and continuous experience of this weird consciousness thing.

[[[Kinda like a thing I said to peter [I think] once...most people think they understand a fair amount about space, the 3 dimensions of it, distance/angles/etc....but talk about TIME and it quickly gets all kerfluffled, killing your grand-dad and other crazy things. But that is a familiarity illusion---go deep into the geometries, you'll rapidly realize you [we] don't know SHIT about space...it's nearly, if not completely, as confounding as time]]]

And don't forget, after all, that two most effective and explanatory theories in physics, both of them outrageously successful and useful are, as far as we can tell right now, inherently contradictory. It's not just a gap/space/lack of accountability---it's mutual destruction.

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 12, 2018 10:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Vraith wrote:
Fist and Faith wrote:
If a property of the whole cannot be accounted for by its parts, what does account for it?


Well, first, I don't think there is a lack of accountability---just us so far lacking knowledge of the mechanisms/processes/nature of things-and-all.
Well, yeah, we certainly lack that knowledge. We don't even know in which direction to look for that knowledge. Are there properties of the particles that we just don't know about yet? Which would be odd. How many properties can you cram into elementary particles? They're kinda small. And we already know an awful lot amazing things about them. To have no indication of other properties - properties that are responsible for this most amazing thing - seems awfully unlikely to me.

At the moment (Literally the moment. No idea what I'll think in ten minutes.), I'm leaning toward what Chalmers said about consciousness being a fundamental. We don't have to any more than we have to explain how objects warp spacetime. It's just the way things are. And consciousness results when certain properties - combinations of particles > atoms > molecules > etc - are present. It's just the way things are. Different degrees of consciousness for different levels of those properties' complexity. How "conscious" is the single-celled organism that has an eyespot, a flagellum, and something connecting them so that the flagellum moves the organism in response to what the eyespot detects? Not much, that's for sure. Still, it's the beginning of the process.
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 13, 2018 3:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

If consciousness is a fundamental property of the universe, then the experience of consciousness is the experience of this property. That is the micro/macro connection. This property of which we're aware must exist on both levels, or it really makes no sense to say that consciousness is a fundamental part of the universe.

So what could that property be? What do we experience that atoms also "experience?" I'm not sure it's enough to say that they are simply atoms with something extra that we'll call "proto-consciousness" merely to get us out of the mind/body conundrum. I think it would have to be something that atoms already do, that we can already detect, because they aren't really producing any other anomalous effects that would justify a new explanation or theory for their behavior.

Maybe this property is the interconnectedness of the universe, the unity that we see manifested in cause/effect relationships, and thus the condition which makes possible the formulation of scientific theories in the first place.

That would certainly be a property that exists on both levels, since every organism is aware of cause/effect relationships in varying degrees of intuition, habit, instinct and finally explicit knowledge. Also, it's on the fundamental level as codified in physics. So the "consciousness" of, say, an electron would be it's "awareness" of magnetic fields in as much as it responds to them. This interaction is a fundamental "acknowledgement" of its environment, a connection we can trace in Maxwell's equations.

But life is following those rules, too, only it is happening on much larger scales than the particles. Life not only follows, but also exploits the relationships that we describe in science, increasing the complexity of those relationships. A photon not only affects certain atoms in our retina certain ways, but through a complex chain of electrochemical reactions, it informs an entire organism of facts in a biological, survival context, relative to the entire group of particles which comprise it. The relationships between matter and energy remain the same, even as their effects circle around facts on vastly larger scales (e.g. eating food, avoid predators).

So as life becomes increasingly complex, the "knowing" of the atoms, electrons, and photons involved becomes less and less in need of scare quotes. Maybe it literally is the same thing, except on larger scales: groups of particles reacting to other groups of particles according to patterns that are both constrained and made possible by physics. So consciousness would be the awareness of this possibility, this scope of interactions (made possible by the relationships described by physics, except on a scale where the properties of the organisms themselves become relevant).

Under this view, there really isn't a need to explain how evolution produces creatures who can understand the universe through science, because consciousness would be nothing more than an enhancement of the very connections which science describes. Evolution would be a process that harnesses physical interactions on larger and more complex scales. Currently, it has produced on a single planet atoms which react in meaningful ways in response to information in galaxies 13 billion light years away (in other words, the edge of the universe). The atoms in our brains, informed through physical interactions in the Hubble telescope, now form neural pathways that record and signify the images and the facts of the Hubble Deep Field pictures. Evolution amplified the connections between atoms on earth to atoms all over the universe to such a degree that little models of this reality are being duplicated in the minds of our ever-expanding global consciousness.

Hell, take consciousness completely out of the picture--pretend that it's an illusion, as Dennett and others think--and the description above still holds true. We are the embodiment of physical laws that can produce meaningful analogues of those laws in the operations of our brains. The laws of physics not only produce all the motion and interaction we see in the world, but it produces the possibility of those laws being put to explicit, intentional use. Atoms interacting not only blindly according to those laws (i.e. by the sheer interconnectedness itself), but also informed by those laws (i.e. the knowledge of that interconnectedness). The knowledge is itself part of those laws.

So consciousness may not be just a fluke thing produced by matter, but the very thing that ties all matter together everywhere. And it only seems strange when that property is staring itself in the face.
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 13, 2018 5:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Following up on that idea ...

What would be the difference between one group of particles (like organisms) and another (like stars)? Both interact with their environments on much larger scales than their particles. So if everything is always interacting according to the laws of physics, then how can we draw a distinction between life and nonlife, conscious and unconsciousness? If consciousness is merely a deepening of the connections--as I propose above--then why is one object conscious and another is not? (Ignoring for the moment that we're claiming everything partakes of consciousness.)

I think the difference is meaning. An organism doesn't just react to its environment according to the raw matter and energy present in its environment, but in how that matter/energy can encode information to reveal facts, consequences, possibilities. While this is still "obeying the laws of physics," it's also more. The ability of matter/energy to encode information is made possible by the laws of physics, but it's not really an expression of those laws in terms of a direct result. For instance, the photons streaming from the sun aren't programmed with a positive message for us, but we nevertheless know what it means when the eastern horizon brightens. The photons are unintentional heralds of the coming day, and all the possibilities that brings.

But those possibilities are created by other things following the laws of physics within their own spheres of interaction. So we don't really escape these laws, we just travel their paths in ways that wouldn't be possible without consciousness. Consciousness allows us to jump from causal stream to causal stream in ways that these streams wouldn't have connected on their own.

And that is what creates the "the whole has properties that the particles cannot account for" impression that Fist and Faith mentioned. It's the jumping over the causal streams. Consciousness can't really be accounted for in a bottom up explanation because it is not a bottom up process. It moves above, on a level of the information encoded in these bottom up processes. Consciousness is just as "separate" from the matter which makes it up as the information conveyed by a sunrise is separate from the photons carrying that information. It's all still connected according to the laws of physics, but the connections are understood rather than embodied.

Hopefully, this is more than just a rewording of the mind/body conundrum into an understanding/embodiment conundrum. Laughing
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 13, 2018 12:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Zarathustra wrote:
If consciousness is a fundamental property of the universe, then the experience of consciousness is the experience of this property. That is the micro/macro connection. This property of which we're aware must exist on both levels, or it really makes no sense to say that consciousness is a fundamental part of the universe.

So what could that property be? What do we experience that atoms also "experience?" I'm not sure it's enough to say that they are simply atoms with something extra that we'll call "proto-consciousness" merely to get us out of the mind/body conundrum. I think it would have to be something that atoms already do, that we can already detect, because they aren't really producing any other anomalous effects that would justify a new explanation or theory for their behavior.
This is as far as I got while getting ready for work. Laughing Does it have to be this ... strict? Does everything experience electromagnetic fields? That is, will an electromagnet field have an affect on anything within a certain proximity? Obviously, metals (some more than others) are affected. There is pretty good evidence that electromagnetic fields (particularly, apparently, those of extremely low frequency) affect living systems. People living near power lines might be in trouble. But that's a living system. Is every atom in the person's body affected?

And that's an animal system. Is there danger to the tree growing near the power lines? Or, if a branch falls to the ground, will the EMP created by the lines affect it? Maybe not all particles experience all fundamentals?

If what I just wrote is correct (I would not be surprised if it's not. I just thought of it in response to your words.), it means a living system can be affected by a fundamental that at least some of its components are not. And maybe it's the same with consciousness.
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 13, 2018 1:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Fist and Faith wrote:
Zarathustra wrote:
If consciousness is a fundamental property of the universe, then the experience of consciousness is the experience of this property. That is the micro/macro connection. This property of which we're aware must exist on both levels, or it really makes no sense to say that consciousness is a fundamental part of the universe.

So what could that property be? What do we experience that atoms also "experience?" I'm not sure it's enough to say that they are simply atoms with something extra that we'll call "proto-consciousness" merely to get us out of the mind/body conundrum. I think it would have to be something that atoms already do, that we can already detect, because they aren't really producing any other anomalous effects that would justify a new explanation or theory for their behavior.
This is as far as I got while getting ready for work. Laughing Does it have to be this ... strict? Does everything experience electromagnetic fields? That is, will an electromagnet field have an affect on anything within a certain proximity? Obviously, metals (some more than others) are affected. There is pretty good evidence that electromagnetic fields (particularly, apparently, those of extremely low frequency) affect living systems. People living near power lines might be in trouble. But that's a living system. Is every atom in the person's body affected?

And that's an animal system. Is there danger to the tree growing near the power lines? Or, if a branch falls to the ground, will the EMP created by the lines affect it? Maybe not all particles experience all fundamentals?

If what I just wrote is correct (I would not be surprised if it's not. I just thought of it in response to your words.), it means a living system can be affected by a fundamental that at least some of its components are not. And maybe it's the same with consciousness.
I'm not sure what this argument gets you, what's the goal here.

Every particle in my body responds to the four forces. We feel the effects of the fundamental forces in our weight, our inertia, our solidity and our unity as one object. The apparent solidity of matter is just the repulsion of electron-to-electron in adjacent atoms, like two south poles of a magnet being pushed together. Our body not disintegrating into subatomic particles is the living experience of the weak and strong forces.

What my theory above has going for it is a way to characterize consciousness in terms of a fundamental property of the universe which has up to this point been ignored and yet is so familiar as to be utterly obvious. We have ignored the interconnectedness of physical phenomena, taking this as a given to be described by physical laws. In crafting the physical laws, we think we have explained the interconnectedness. But all we've done is quantify it. What if that interconnectedness itself is a kind of knowledge? The universe knowing itself. Things don't just affect each other. They impose their being upon each other in this affecting. They make the fact of their existence a condition upon which other facts unfold. A fact is not merely a sheer happening. It's an embodied/instantiated meaning. It has a "what-ness" in addition to it's "that-ness." Its existence is not merely that it exists, but simultaneously existing as a particular what. Two facets of being.

So phenomena take both of these facets into account in their interactions with each other. An electron reacts both to the presence of another electron and the fact that it's an electron rather than a proton (or anything else).

This is the way consciousness is structured, too. It is an inescapable fact that consciousness of anything is the simultaneous experience of both the what-ness and that-ness of a particular phenomenon. Reality has meaning just by existing. And this meaning is "known" (at least in part) to every single particle within it, as expressed by their specific interactions with that what-ness around them.

So I think this could very well be a strong candidate for what consciousness is. It is the experience of the property of interconnectedness of being. This property must exist (or the universe would literally fall apart), and we undeniably experience it not only directly in our own connections but indirectly in knowing it. It has the same existential form for both electrons and people: recognition of what-ness and that-ness. It can therefore be a viable candidate for the same phenomenon on two different scales of reality, micro and macro.
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 13, 2018 4:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Zarathustra wrote:
I'm not sure what this argument gets you, what's the goal here.
Just wondering if every fundamental force of reality must interact with all aspects of reality on both a micro and macro level. If not, then we don't need to look for properties of particles that can be seen as any sort of proto-consciousness, or interactions between particles and the force of consciousness. Because if we can do either of those things, it seems to me we've taken a big step toward solving the puzzle in a material reductionist way.
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 13, 2018 9:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Zarathustra wrote:
Maybe it literally is the same thing, except on larger scales: groups of particles reacting to other groups of particles according to patterns that are both constrained and made possible by physics.

because consciousness would be nothing more than an enhancement of the very connections which science describes. Evolution would be a process that harnesses physical interactions on larger and more complex scales.


And it only seems strange when that property is staring itself in the face.


On the first two---FUCK YOU Z---stop thinking about that shit---and definitely don't add the thought that the up/large direction beings would/could use that knowledge to MAKE "conscious" machines that are simultaneously superior AND inferior to evolved ones.

On the last--yes. I really don't think there is much, if any, difference between our lack of understanding of consciousness and our lack of understanding of every/anything else...though I'd say that things really ARE strange, it's just we mistakenly thing we understand certain things more than others that we DON"t understand more than others. [[there are things with differences of understanding---but don't forget this "truth"...it ain't the things you know or things you don't that are most dangerous, it's the things you think you DO know and are wrong about."
Or, as we said in the Army---Don't worry about the bullet with your name on it, nothing you can do. It's all the ones addressed "to whom it may concern" that will fuck you up.

Fist--no, not ALL fundamentals MUST interact at all scales in a DIRECT sense. For instance, the strong force has no macro effects at all. EXCEPT that atoms exist because of how it acts to make atomic nuclei and such. [[step one]].
Simplistic description---it has a very short range that is WEAKER when CLOSER...but, for the things it governs, it gets STRONGER with distance---until it "breaks." [[a ton of energy is released as the pieces slam back together OR the original wanderer keeps going, and the energy "creates" a third piece that takes the place of the original. Do NOT believe that oversimplification in any literal way.

[[[addendum---in fact all forces have ranges where they stop mattering---except organizationally, EMERGENTLY/CORPORATELY. This is part of why gravity is such a problem. At the macro level is has no limit in range, [you reach a distance where, even though it is an absurdly weak force, it's the only force that reaches that distance at all] and at the micro level it overwhelms/obliterates any meaningful effect of the other forces.

In current models.



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PostPosted: Wed Feb 14, 2018 12:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Fist and Faith wrote:
Zarathustra wrote:
I'm not sure what this argument gets you, what's the goal here.
Just wondering if every fundamental force of reality must interact with all aspects of reality on both a micro and macro level. If not, then we don't need to look for properties of particles that can be seen as any sort of proto-consciousness, or interactions between particles and the force of consciousness. Because if we can do either of those things, it seems to me we've taken a big step toward solving the puzzle in a material reductionist way.
Well, only gravity makes itself known on astronomical scales. The weak and strong forces are mostly only relevant on atomic scales. So every force doesn't have to interact on both micro/macro scales.

But this doesn't mean that we don't have to look for properties of particles that are "proto-consciousness," if we are saying that our own consciousness (macro) can only be explained if we assume that consciousness is fundamental to matter (micro). Maybe you're fine not saying that, but I was just following the logic of Nagel and Chalmers. This is *one* possible solution to the mind/body problem. A form of neutral monism: there is only one substance and it is both mental and material.

But if you're fine with accepting "sideways causation" where higher level causes entail higher level effects that cannot be reduced to bottom-up causation, then you don't need to assume that mental properties go all the way down. But that presents problems with how it evolved in the first place and how differences of degree can become differences of type.

The beauty of consciousness as a fundamental property of matter is that reductionism would work just fine again. And reductionism makes so much sense and works so well ... if it weren't for consciousness mucking it up.

Vraith ... umm?? Heh. Laughing Fuck you too. I'm going to keep thinking about it.
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Remain faithful to the earth, my brothers, with the power of your virtue. Let your gift-giving love and your knowledge serve the meaning of the earth ... Do not let them fly away from earthly things and beat with their wings against eternal walls. Alas, there has always been so much virtue that has flown away. Lead back to the earth the virtue that flew away, as I do-back to the body, back to life, that it may give the earth a meaning, a human meaning. -Nietzsche
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 14, 2018 1:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm not fine with anything at this point. I don't understand most of the questions, and often don't understand what you're talking about. Someone who has to look up words like phenomenology every time he reads them shouldn't take too many solid stances.
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 14, 2018 12:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oh I was just giving you the benefit of doubt, and admitting that my position was tentative and conditional, too.

I use 'phenomenological' to describe the experiential character of consciousness and its objects. This is the scope/realm/field of phenomena that we directly encounter in our experience, as distinct from the way science uses the word 'phenomena' to describe events/objects/processes in the external world.
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Remain faithful to the earth, my brothers, with the power of your virtue. Let your gift-giving love and your knowledge serve the meaning of the earth ... Do not let them fly away from earthly things and beat with their wings against eternal walls. Alas, there has always been so much virtue that has flown away. Lead back to the earth the virtue that flew away, as I do-back to the body, back to life, that it may give the earth a meaning, a human meaning. -Nietzsche
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 14, 2018 4:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Fist and Faith wrote:
I'm not fine with anything at this point.


LOL. Yea. For myself, I"m fairly often fairly confident/fine with stances on things that don't/won't/can't work.
But what does/might/can work?
I'm just dancing around the info-sphere, snatching cogs, sticking shit together and seeing if the machine makes things or not, and how long it takes to break.

Anyway, tangential thing I stumbled upon today.
Somewhere in these threads is the thought that complexity/evolution defies second law/entropy. In which I linked articles addressing the opposite---far from prohibiting, entropy is a, and perhaps THE, cause of complexity/evolution.
Somewhat connected to both that and this thread:


Quote:
Brain entropy was positively associated with intelligence.[[[snip]]] This relationship between high brain entropy and high intelligence indicates an essential role for entropy in brain functioning.


http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0191582
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 17, 2018 6:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Of what value were eyespots before they were connected in some way with something that let the critter react to what the eyespot detected? What was the evolutionary advantage? I can see how a flagellum, simply randomly whipping around, would spread a population. And, once there's an eyespot involved, even a random flick when the light suddenly changes would remove the organism from danger a decent percentage of times.

But the simplest initial eyespot that could pop up could not have popped up with a nerve connecting it to the flagellum, making the flagellum twitch at a change of light. So when it did pop up, why was it successful?

Of course, the reason I ask is because it seems likely that that kind of connection is how nervous systems, and brains, began. But I don't see how it could have come about. Are there theories on this?
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 22, 2018 3:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Here's something in Other Minds I found fascinating:
Quote:
Consider the case of tactile vision substitution systems (TVSS), a technology for the blind. A video camera is attached to a pad that sits on the blind person's skin (for example, on their back). Optical images picked up by the camera are transformed into a form of energy (vibrations, or electrical stimulation) that can be felt on the skin. After some training with this device, the wearers start to report that the camera gives them an experience of objects located in space, not just a pattern of touches on their skin. If you are wearing such a system and a dog walks past, for example, the video system will make a moving pattern of presses or vibrations on your back, but under some circumstances this will not be experienced as vibrations on your back; instead you'll experience an object moving out in front of you. This happens, though, only when the wearer is able to control the camera, to act and influence the incoming stream of stimulation. The user of the device has to be able to move the camera closer, change its angle, and so on. The simple way to do this is to attach the camera to the person's body. Then the wearer can make objects loom, and come and go from the visual field. Subjective experience is intimately tied here to the interaction between behavior and sensory input. The moment-to-moment feedback between sensing and acting affects how sensory input itself feels.
He brought it up in regards to the loop of sensing and acting. What you sense affects what you do; and what you do affects what you sense. But I am entirely blown away by a different aspect of it - the malleability and adaptability of the brain and mind! I don't "experience an object moving out in front of me"; I see a dog walk by. Did these same blind people report having experienced objects moving in front of them when they heard a car drive past; or did they simply hear it? So now I'm reading about Paul Bach-y-Rita, who I never heard of ten minutes ago. Neuroplasticity. Kurzweil wrote: "A critically important observation about the neocortex is the extraordinary uniformity of its fundamental structure."

Still, this seems like something more. It's not that this area of the brain is able to do what that other area of the brain usually does. Something is being done that is not usually done at all. It sounds like scifi, where a telekinetic "feels" everything. That's not what's happening, obviously. But it sounds as though the input is being interpreted that way.
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