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How Does Evolution Produce Consciousnes/Reason?
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 02, 2018 6:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't know what to say, V. I guess we're just using the words differently. I mean:

Content = content of consciousness.
Meaning = pattern and form in the world.

Now, a suitcase can have contents, and a word can have meaning. So there are obviously different senses we can use. But that's what I'm talking about.
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 03, 2018 5:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hopefully you both understand where you are each coming from now.

If I could interject here .. energy is an interesting aspect of consciousness.. the mind uses energy to function. Neurological calculations cost in energy ..

Ive been talking with a woman in Belgium who sees energy in living things, the environment, the air, sunlight etc. Thats rather intriguing is it not? _

Humans can exert energy, molecular movement and transport uses energy ... even in some cases, generates energy.

Human consciousness is awareness of self and environment .. when we feel affection.. we feel energy .. dont we? When we spend time with animals and nature, we say we feel recharged .. like we generate energy within us by what we do.

I know this isnt what you all are talking about .. but is there something here?

I dont think human consciousness is all that incredible.. as Ive said before .. but human intelligence is. So theres consciousness which to my mind is genetically hardwired fir human survival and thereby functionality, physiological functions, neurological functionality etc. The mind seems like a bridge between the genetic legacy of consciousness and intelligence and intelligence capability _ or not?

Maybe it cant be boxed and labelled?

But there is power isnt there? Power being energy capability?

I can affect another with my mind .. sure through messaging, verbal and nonverbal. I can affect a mood, love .. now theres a power. Love .. can humans radiate feeling, emotion? I think they might be able to do this .. and it uses energy .. doesnt it? Positive energy, negative energy .. whatever else, I dont know.

I know that I can control some pain and sickness with "attitude" energy .. not always .. and probably not every possible illness. But what if we could?

We can literally change our bodies .. by simply engaging them and directing them.

Some people can move external objects with their minds .. what is that?

Is there power within human consciousness that can be harnessed?

Is the chemical interaction in our brains wired for more than thought? But for being?

I used to be a half marathon runner ____ and I loved it like a drug .. I used a regular 27km circuit every Saturday afternoon .. through the hills near where I lived. Usually ran on road surfaces, but I got to the point, I perhaps released so many endorphins and other good hormones, that I didnt feel any impact .. I felt like I was floating .. my rhythm was perfect, my breathing etc .. Utilising energy, my mind etc .. surely thats power.

Resilience is power and utlusing energy in the body made available or possible by the mind.

Maybe I just dont get it .. but seems to me that there might be amazing things yet we can unlock in our minds .. maybe even extraordinary capabilities ____
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 03, 2018 10:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ok then. Conscious matter has content; and if matter has content, it is conscious. That's easy enough. But I still have the same question I've asked a few times in this thread, now worded using these terms. If said matter is not able to communicate or demonstrate the fact that it is conscious/has content, how can we tell? I recently saw an article (which I cannot find!!) about comatose patients being scanned in some particular way that revealed they were actually conscious. They were told to think of certain kinds of things, which would show up in some known way on the scans. Then they asked Yes/No questions.

But I'm more interested in lesser types of consciousness. What is the least possible amount/degree of content? The thermostat has none. A plant does not grow toward the light because of a conscious decision; it is due to materially reducible factors. How can we recognize if something contains the least possible degree of content? What could that even mean?
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 05, 2018 7:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Fist and Faith wrote:
I recently saw an article (which I cannot find!!) about comatose patients being scanned in some particular way that revealed they were actually conscious. They were told to think of certain kinds of things, which would show up in some known way on the scans. Then they asked Yes/No questions.

But I'm more interested in lesser types of consciousness. What is the least possible amount/degree of content? The thermostat has none. A plant does not grow toward the light because of a conscious decision; it is due to materially reducible factors. How can we recognize if something contains the least possible degree of content? What could that even mean?


I saw that article. Pretty cool, huh?

I have no idea what the least degree is.
To spot it, I'd think you have to do several things:
1) Find a critter that has some brain-like system/structure...where inputs/information is gathered, compared, processed.

2) Design experiments/apparatus to examine its behaviors [and preferably also observe the "brain" processes] to see if it
a)- makes choices and
b)- makes predictions.
At least that seems a reasonable and maybe fruitful way to start.

Sky---there is a ton of cool shit we can do just by altering states of mind...many of those state alterations we can learn to do on purpose, sometimes we just fall into them.
But I don't buy the distinction between consciousness and intelligence. They aren't [I don't think] identical...but they are mutually dependent, share physical parts/processes, AND partially symmetrical.

There will never be a true intelligence that isn't conscious.

Any conscious thing will have some intelligence.

The amounts of consciousness and intelligence will be roughly directly proportional. [if you have a cup of intelligence, you might have 1/2 or 1-1/2 cups of consciousness...but you won't have 1/2 a teaspoon or 1/2 a gallon.]

I'm fairly convinced of the first two...the third is shakier.

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 05, 2018 7:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Vraith wrote:

I have no idea what the least degree is.
To spot it, I'd think you have to do several things:
1) Find a critter that has some brain-like system/structure...where inputs/information is gathered, compared, processed.

2) Design experiments/apparatus to examine its behaviors [and preferably also observe the "brain" processes] to see if it
a)- makes choices and
b)- makes predictions.
At least that seems a reasonable and maybe fruitful way to start.


I once mimicked the chirping of common housemartins based on the theory that:

1 chirp = I'm here
2 chirps = I'm going over there
3 chirps = I'm now over there
4 chirps = I've found food

The birds were flying in dangerously close when I decided it best to stop mimicking their chirping.
Does that (partially) qualify?
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 05, 2018 8:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

What do you suppose is the difference, in the birds' minds, between "I'm here" and "I'm now over there"? Are any of them thinking, "Oh, that's right. He said he was going there, and he did."

Anyway, I don't doubt birds have consciousness. I imagine we could find ways of testing their behavior that would prove it, if it hasn't been done already. But how to test a worm's behavior with any hope of finding evidence of it?

Vraith wrote:
But I don't buy the distinction between consciousness and intelligence. They aren't [I don't think] identical...but they are mutually dependent, share physical parts/processes, AND partially symmetrical.
You can add emotion. Lots of animals have emotions. Maybe all of them. Anybody think a worm has as rich an emotional life as a mouse? A mouse as much as a dog? A dog as much as us? I saw a documentary on lions. The mother couldn't find a cub, and was calling and calling for it. She finally found the remains that the hyenas left behind. The mother made some noises that certainly seemed to be expressing brief and sorrow. Would a mouse do that?

And is the mother lion still grieving for her cub? I would be. Many people are devastated for the rest of their lives. Hell, I know grown men who still go to therapy years after their mother died. I know a woman whose cat died when the woman was in her 40s. She was barely functional. What's the difference between extreme grief and a mental health problem? I don't know the degree to which I would recover from the death of a child, but I'd certainly never be the same again.

I don't think much of that applies to any other animal.
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Last edited by Fist and Faith on Tue Nov 06, 2018 7:28 am; edited 1 time in total
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 06, 2018 6:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Fist and Faith wrote:
Vraith wrote:
But I don't buy the distinction between consciousness and intelligence. They aren't [I don't think] identical...but they are mutually dependent, share physical parts/processes, AND partially symmetrical.


Flying south to Africa for the winter seems like intellegence to me!
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 06, 2018 7:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Fist and Faith wrote:
What do you suppose is the difference, in the birds' minds, between "I'm here" and "I'm now over there"? Are any of them thinking, "Oh, that's right. He said he was going there, and he did."


The differance is to find food. A cluster of tiny airbourne insects are virtually invisible to us. To a speedy little bird like the housemartin the food source must still be difficult to see. The group must therefore cover lots of ground, so to speak, to eliminate area and home in on their food.
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 07, 2018 6:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've been rereading Nagel's book, MIND AND COSMOS. I've come to an interesting section in chapter 1 that presents a sketch of his argument for why mind or mental phenomena must be a fundamental part of reality, and not merely an accidental byproduct. The materialist reductionist model of reality rests upon the idea that reality is intelligible. This is the guiding assumption that has led to the success of science and without which science is merely a wildly successful accident itself. If reality is not intelligible, it is the greatest coincidence that we have achieved as much understanding as we have thus far by making the assumption that all this can be understood rationally. That's what reduction is: rendering apparently mental phenomena as "nothing more" than physical phenomena by assuming that we can explain (i.e. understand) the former as a manifestation of the latter, according to some sort of transformation of mental states into brain states, by way of physical/chemical laws.

So the project to explain all of reality in terms of physics, which requires us to reduce mind to "nothing more" than matter, depends crucially upon the idea that reality is understandable to conscious/intelligent beings. That's what intelligibility means! So reductive materialism already depends crucially upon the very thing it is trying to "get rid of" by way of reductionism! Without intelligibility of reality, there is no possibility of a reduction. So, even from the outset, reductionism seems to miss the point and contradict itself. If mind can be "explained away," then why does it require rendering reality into something that only minds can understand? You need minds to "get rid of" minds!

So, as Nagel says:


On page 17, Nagel wrote:
The intelligibility of the world is no accident. Mind, in this view, is doubly related to the natural order. Nature is such as to give rise to conscious beings with minds; and it is such as to be comprehensible to such beings.


Nature produces minds and minds understand nature. Nature can only produce minds for the very reason that minds understand nature: a process that is rationally intelligible. Surely this parellel is significant. Minds can be no more "accidental" than the fact that the universe is the kind of place that minds can understand.

There are two questions that make this signficance apparent:

Why should the universe be intelligible?

Why should the universe produce intelligence?

There is no reason to assume that either are inevitable or logically necessary, at first glance. The universe conceivably could have been utterly chaotic and inexplicable. The order we see could have been accidental with no underlying explanation. Likewise, the existence of minds and consciousness seems superfluous not only to the universe, but to life itself. As I've argued earlier in this thread, bacteria have survived spectacularly without any apparent consciousness, much less intelligence. "Survival of the fittest" doesn't come close to accounting for the truly stupendous nature of accidentally finding intelligent, sentient beings here.

But when you put these two together, we have left the realm of spectacular coincidences far behind. It is no longer sufficient to say that the universe "just is" this way or that consciousness "just accidentally" formed in such a place, when the latter depends upon the former. That's not an explanation! Consciousness/intelligence can't be explained away in terms of random mutation + natural selection because this doesn't address at all the fact that reality is explicable in the first place.

This is what I've been trying to say about meaning being inherent in the world. Explicability is a real feature of the world (if it weren't, there would be no basis for reductive materialism, much less an alternative). This cannot be ignored in considering how consciousness arose. Consciousness and intelligence are features of organisms which take advantage of this intelligibility. The reason they are successful adaptations is because of this advantage. The intelligibility of the universe itself must play a role in bringing about intelligence! Even if we agree that it came about by way of natural selection and random mutations, intelligence would not have been possible without intelligibility of the environment, because it confers no advantage without it.

But Nagel's point is that the random mutation part of this equation bears too much of the explanatory burden. So, what if it wasn't entirely random? What if the same feature of the universe that confers order upon the environment also confers order upon the process of mutation? Natural selection is merely a passive filter, not an active force. It must first have something to affect, i.e. natural variability which is then weeded down to the "fittest" varieties. But it is problematic to account for such variability at the beginning of life. Once you get the ball rolling with genetic diversity, it is (slightly) easier to dismiss one's incredulity by placing faith in scientists who know better (apparently), but it is much harder to dismiss the implausibility of complex DNA simply appearing prior to natural selection having anything to affect.


Here's my speculation: if consciousness can account for its own likelihood given the intelligibility of the world of which it is conscious, then what if this probability-shrinking factor can be extended down to the molecular level (or beyond) in order to make the appearance of life itself more likely than a stupendously improbable accident? This is the direction that Nagel is going, though he doesn't have an explicit theory for it. The only metaphysical replacement for reductive materialism that makes sense of the mind/body problem is neutral monism, one form of which speculates that mental properties are inherent in matter itself, not merely as an emergent property of complex arrangements of matter. So, what if the factor that makes reality intelligible--rather than random/chaotic/inexplicable--is itself already a proto-consciousness inherent in matter? Consciousness, in my opinion, isn't consciousness without meaningful (intelligible) objects of consciousness. What if this is a twofold relationship such that intelligibility isn't intelligibility without a "consciousness" that apprehends it? This would have to be a universal mental property of nature itself, a diffuse sort of mental nature to reality that is responsible for--or in necessary conjunction with--the existence of intelligibility. It would be like the probability wave collapse in quantum mechanics: once an observation is made, reality coallesces into a particular actuality. Perhaps the "collapse" of multiversal chaos into a particular universe with order/structure is a closed-loop process that also implies a reflectivity to the universe as a whole, a universe that is (in a very primitive level) "aware" of iself. That "awareness of itself" IS the intelligibility of the universe, considered from the opposite side of the "wave collapse" that caused it to be intelligible.

This would make the appearance of life in the first place, and later the rise of intelligence, not merely an accident, but a likely result of natural processes happening in a place that is intelligible.
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Meaning is created internally by each individual in each specific life: any attempt at *meaning* which relies on some kind of external superstructure (God, Satan, the Creator, the Worm, whatever) for its substance misses the point (I mean the point of my story). -SRD

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: Fri Nov 09, 2018 2:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Coincidentally, I started rereading it a couple days ago. Mind you, in my case, "read" is being generous. I think of it more like I'm once again trying to claw my way through it. Anyway...

I noticed this:
Nagel wrote:
Even though writers like Michael Behe and Stephen Meyer are motivated at least in part by their religious beliefs, the empirical arguments they offer against the likelihood that the origin of life and its evolutionary history can be fully explained by physics and chemistry are of great interest in themselves.
This brings to mind the quote I posted a few days ago:
Kauffman wrote:
We will be showing that the spontaneous emergence of self-sustaining webs is so natural and robust that it is even deeper than the specific chemistry that happens to exist in earth; it is rooted in mathematics itself.
Kauffman answered Nagel sixteen years before Nagel wrote that, saying it's not physics and chemistry that's responsible - it's math. Math that is everywhere, "woven into the fabric of the universe".


To play devil's advocate, I'm trying to put this alternate idea, which opposes your/Nagel's idea, into words.

Dig deep, and it turns out everything is made from the same basic materials. Stone, water, air etc. Even us.

Those basic materials have specific, consistent properties, and interact in specific, consistent ways. If there wasn't consistency, there would be chaos. Which is not the case.

Our physical bodies are built from those same materials, and operate under the same properties and interactions.

Consciousness is different. In no way that we can see does it operate under those same principles. Still, although we don't know how/why, the only consciousnesses we are aware of are part of the material. They would not exist without the material. What I mean is, consciousness is, at least in part - a necessary part - composed of the properties and interactions that govern the material.

Of course the universe is intelligible to consciousness. Consciousness recognizes the principles that an integral part of itself is made of.

There are obviously principles we do not understand. Even in the materially reducible sciences, we can't claim to know everything. But consciousness is material acting in ways not explainable by the materially reducible sciences. If we really knew what was going on, we might be able to answer things one way or another. But not knowing, I'm still willing to accept the more common theory of mutation and natural selection. Certainly, feedback loops can arise that way. An eyespot is simply pigmentation. By itself, it did nothing. But when a connection between it and a flagellum happened to come about, we've got something. Get a couple more loops, and health, survival, and reproduction increase.

What kind of nervous system could come along, tying them all together? Improving over a very long time.

At what point is awareness found in there? Not knowing how it is accomplished, we can't know what the minimum requirements are. And we can't rule out how it could have come about. And we can't know what the least possible content of consciousness could be. But it's a sure thing that the least of it would be a great advantage for the organism.

I don't see why all of that cannot be accidental. I'll grant you that there must be properties of matter that we have yet to discover, which give matter that taps into them an advantage. Just as the properties that photons have give matter that taps into them an advantage. But we don't think of light in a teleological way.
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 09, 2018 6:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yeah, I'm clawing my way through it, too, 4-5 pages a day.

There's no absolute reason why all this *can't* be accidental, but that would be a freakin' amazing accident! And that means we need an explanation. Accidents aren't explanations--a point that increases in force the more fantastic the phenomenon you're trying to attribute to accident. This commonsense incredulity isn't the same as naivete or superstition.

Normally, the course for nature is for entropy to increase, meaning that chaos increases and order decreases. Sure, you can have local reversals of this trend with an input of energy from the environment, but to have a reversal on the magnitude and depth of the evolution of life, there must be a better explanation than "accident." [This is where the Creationists are right.] And that's where natural selection comes in. If all we had were random mutations, then the theory would be laughable. But natural selection makes it seem plausible. However, it's still just a schema, as Nagel says. Before natural selection can select, first the mutations have to occur. And it seems unfathomable that just the right mutations have occurred to produce--not only all we see in life on earth--but a phenomenon that allows the universe to know itself. That's a hell of a mutation!!!

Sure, we might be able to imagine scenarios where consciousness helps organisms to survive (though I started this thread with arguments to the contrary, which I still think hold up), so it makes sense that natural selection would "choose" consciousness once it appears, but that's still placing faith in the idea that mutations can make consciousness appear in the first place--without considering the philosophical problems of matter making mind by any process whatsoever , much less accidents.

Now, the reason intelligibility is important to consider is because of reductionism. When scientists confront a complex phenomenon and believe, "There MUST be an explanation for this!" they mean that the complex phenomenon can be reduced to a simpler set of principles that link the phenomenon with a more fundamental level of reality . . . usually the realm of physics. As Nagel says, this isn't really done in practice. It's more a matter of faith (well, epistemology + ontology). We do not have a complete physical description of everything that happens in the biological world. That's why we still need biology. There is still a place in our explanations for "higher order" explanations that no one has even attempted to reduce to physics. Imagine explaining why a beaver builds a dam in terms of particle physics. I'm not sure it can EVER be done! And yet, underneath it all, there is still faith that this biological strategy of an organism does have a completely physical explanation, in terms of particles and forces.

That's reductionism. It's just an assumption. And that assumption is based on the belief that reality is nothing more than particles/forces, which is materialism--a metaphysics/ontology.

I think we have the evidence all around us that reality is more than particle/forces. It is also behaviors, goals, intentions, meanings, and minds. Even before we consider consciousness, I don't think it makes sense to believe that reductionism and/or materialism is on the right track. Why does there have to be one explanation? Why does that explanation have to reside in smaller and smaller particles? What if different explanations are appropriate for different levels of reality?

Only reductive materialism makes us reject these possibilities. But where does our faith in reductive materialism come from? Well, I suppose the success of physics. But that's precisely why we must not downplay its limitations, especially in areas where we have no hope of ever explaining in terms of physics. The limit here isn't complexity. Even if we could fully describe a beaver's dam in terms of particles, that astronomically complex explanation wouldn't really explain the features we're interested in knowing: why it's a good survival adaptation in a particular environment that includes streams, food sources, predators, etc. A particle explanation--i.e. a reduction--would render all of that just as illusory as some would like to render the mind. In effect, it would turn the biological world into a ghostly puppet show of insignificant phenomena. The lived reality of all these animal-shaped clumps of matter would be nothing more than pantomimes manipulated by atomic strings.

And biologists would be no better than astrologists. Biology would be mythology--a story we tell ourselves because the actual truth is too complex for us to know.
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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: Sat Nov 10, 2018 4:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

We agree on major points. I just wonder if you/Nagel take things too far.

I don't think mutations made consciousness appear any more than I think they made eyes appear. Yes, they did, but not in one fell swoop. One tiny change gave an organism an advantage in a certain way. One tiny change of a different type, in a different organism, gave that organism an advantage in a different way. In both cases, the advantage came because the two organisms were able to take advantage of something that was there all along - photons. One organism spread this new trait; more changes occurred over time; and now we have eyes, and vision. The other organism spread the other new trait; more changes occurred over time; and now we have chlorophyll, and photosynthesis.

Maybe consciousness began with one tiny change that allowed the organism to take advantage of something that that was there all along. But that something need not be anything as complex as a proto-consciousness. We don't think that vision is an entity that brought about eyes, or vision, in even a passive, non-directed way. Why think that of consciousness?

There is certainly something about matter that is non-materially reducible. Consciousness exists. But is consciousness to X as eyes and chlorophyll are to photons? And does X have to be as advanced, or formed, or concrete, as even a proto-consciousness?

I keep thinking of the extra dimensions of string theory. If they're real, we cannot examine them with tools built in the few dimensions we use. Maybe consciousness is the only tool we have so far that accesses any of them in any way. Maybe one or more of these dimensions gives matter a freedom the others do not. Sure, it's speculation based on a theory for which there is no empirical evidence. But one good speculation deserves another. Smile

Whatever the answer, yes, there are properties of matter that are not materially reducible. I'm just suggesting they might be less than a proto-consciousness. Which sounds to me to be at least partially formed, and which I think you're suggesting played a role in ALL evolution, of both the living and non-living aspects of the universe. Or at least all evolution that lead to consciousness. That's a bit much for me to assume could have existed from the instant of the Big Bang. Certain properties existed in the first instant. Everything that exists is because of the possibilities those properties give. But I have a difficult time accepting that consciousness is one of the initial properties. Life was not. Carbon was not. Vision was not. All of these things have come to be because they are possible within the framework of the initial properties. We just don't know what all of those properties are. We don't even know what all of the materially reducible ones are, much less those that must exist in order for consciousness to exist.

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OTOH! Heh. To take an entirely circular approach... All of reality is made of the stuff of thought. We can perceive it in various ways. With our senses, as well as the technologies we have developed. With math and logic.

But, being made of the stuff of thought, all aspects of reality can be perceived directly. With thought. With our awareness. If we direct our awareness at something, we can perceive it in its true form. We simply don't know how to do that. Our minds cannot comprehend this type of perception. But if we could! We could direct our attention at something in another galaxy, and perceive it as surely and easily as something in the same room.

This, of course, brings up the question of whether or not the thing existed before we directed our attention at it, or if our attention made it come into being by collapsing all the wave functions of the thought-stuff.

Because all is thought, there is no surprise that thinking - consciousness - exists. Why wouldn't it? How could the stuff of thought be limited to what we know of as material reductionism?

More important, the ways we perceive reality so far - our sciences - are simply the best our primitive consciousnesses can do so far. More advanced consciousnesses (maybe us one day) can perceive reality in any way they choose. It's all thought, so you need only change your thought of what you are perceiving. Sayings like "Your thoughts create your reality" are literally true in every way. If your consciousness is up to the task. We aren't. We only have an instinctive understanding of how to use our thoughts to make our physical bodies do things. With our thoughts, we change reality with a saw, hammer, and nails. We'll see how far we get over the eons.
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 10, 2018 5:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I read somewhere of a theory about two spiral galaxies colliding at the beginning of time. Much like the theory, I guess, that the Milky Way will collide with Andromeda at some far distant point in space.
If we are products of the universe then it isn't so absurd our DNA is formed of a double helix - ( as I'm no scholar it's more than likely I have this back to front, upside down, or inside out! )
I was thinking more about what the least amount of conciousness could be, and thought perhaps the ability to experience memories - as they rely on a complexity of feelings and emotions, rather than the immediacy of imperical detail.

Which in turn is born of a belief that our recollections are stored in physical body tissue, like muscle fiber and bone marrow. The growth, if you will.
Years ago while attempting to quite smoking I would wonder about the odd idiosyncracy of reaching for a ciggy before actually deciding to smoke. It was almost as if the hand had a mind of its own. This has me convinced that the urge for nicotine is in the physical nature of the chest muscles and brain matter, first, before conciousness decides to light up.

However, surely thinking of something, like seeing someone smoking, in a movie or a tv show, can create a spark in the mind ...
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 10, 2018 6:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lazy Luke wrote:
I was thinking more about what the least amount of conciousness could be, and thought perhaps the ability to experience memories - as they rely on a complexity of feelings and emotions, rather than the immediacy of imperical detail.
That might be correct. The problem is finding a critter that has ONLY that. How would we know if it is acting from memory, as opposed to instinct? Difficult to spot the non-materially reducible within something that primitive.

Lazy Luke wrote:
Which in turn is born of a belief that our recollections are stored in physical body tissue, like muscle fiber and bone marrow. The growth, if you will.
Years ago while attempting to quite smoking I would wonder about the odd idiosyncracy of reaching for a ciggy before actually deciding to smoke. It was almost as if the hand had a mind of its own. This has me convinced that the urge for nicotine is in the physical nature of the chest muscles and brain matter, first, before conciousness decides to light up.

However, surely thinking of something, like seeing someone smoking, in a movie or a tv show, can create a spark in the mind ...
I imagine that, if you make a certain motion with your hand, tens of thousands of times over several years, you would then find yourself doing it unintentionally. I suspect you would begin doing it unintentionally after only a few days. People pick up odd habits like that.
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 10, 2018 6:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

A grass lawn dotted with daisies has a primitive pattern. There must be innumerable ways the wind could alter that pattern. A sirocco or a zephyr creating a differant effect.
Certain experiences certainly cause a variety of muscular contractions, which are accessed in the brain as memory.

The lawn has no feedback loop I can think of, growing by instinct.
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 10, 2018 9:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Any living thing has feedback systems. Plants grow toward the sun.
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 10, 2018 10:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

No shit Laughing
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 10, 2018 10:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You're the one said the lawn didn't have any.
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 10, 2018 11:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Fist and Faith wrote:
Plants grow toward the sun.


Ornithogalum umbellatum


Which sun?
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 12, 2018 10:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Fist and Faith wrote:
In both cases, the advantage came because the two organisms were able to take advantage of something that was there all along - photons.
But what was the "something" in the case of consciousness? What was it in the environment that this adaptation put to use? Consciousness can take *anything* for its object. It makes sense that the presence of photons might lead to the development of things that can react to photons, but are we supposed to conclude the same point about the totality of one's existence (i.e. environment)?? Does reality itself "call into being" something (i.e. consciousness) that can react to it?

That's kind of mind blowing, when you think about it, but on the other hand it must be true! That's the advantage that consciousness confers upon organisms: awareness of their environment/reality. The world itself presents the evolutionary pressure that brings about consciousness, merely by existing--just as photons present the evolutionary pressure that brings about eyes, just by existing. The situation is exactly parallel. Consciousness is like a "sense organ" that--rather than detecting specific kinds of inputs from specific forms of energy (photons, sound wave) or chemicals (smells, tastes)--detects being itself, the totality of sensory input, the world this input represents, and even the world that extends beyond that input. Consciousness detects situations, context, meaning.

That's what I've been saying about meaning being inherent in the world as a survival advantage which minds perceive.


Quote:
Whatever the answer, yes, there are properties of matter that are not materially reducible. I'm just suggesting they might be less than a proto-consciousness. Which sounds to me to be at least partially formed, and which I think you're suggesting played a role in ALL evolution, of both the living and non-living aspects of the universe. Or at least all evolution that lead to consciousness. That's a bit much for me to assume could have existed from the instant of the Big Bang. Certain properties existed in the first instant. Everything that exists is because of the possibilities those properties give. But I have a difficult time accepting that consciousness is one of the initial properties. Life was not. Carbon was not. Vision was not. All of these things have come to be because they are possible within the framework of the initial properties. We just don't know what all of those properties are. We don't even know what all of the materially reducible ones are, much less those that must exist in order for consciousness to exist.
I'm not suggesting that some kind of proto-consciousness shaped the evolution of matter since the Big Bang. The laws of physics are sufficient to explain the evolution of matter from that time up until the point when life began. That's when our explanations stop being provable/testable (in say, particle accelerators and telescopes) and become much more speculative. I think that whatever property that the universe has that makes consciousness possible doesn't makes itself known except when bringing about consciousness.

It's a self-organizing principle distinct from those in the laws of physics, one that derives its force from reality being aware of itself. Reality affecting reality through knowing, rather than . . . hell, I'm not sure what to call the alternative. Direct causation? Physical causation?


Maybe we don't even have to think of reality knowing itself at this point, just a relective principle. Reality "mirroring" itself. Replication, for instance. And this basic principle of "mirroring" becomes consciousness at higher levels, a more sophsicated kind of mirroring.
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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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