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How Does Evolution Produce Consciousnes/Reason?
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 02, 2019 5:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

But the fact that you couldn't have complex lifeforms to ask these questions if there were no organizational principles many levels "below" the level of our lives doesn't answer the question of why it should be this way. You're saying that it could be no other way. I'm saying, yes it could. A universe without mathematical order would look very different, and we probably wouldn't exist in it, but I speculate that such a universe is much more likely to exist than one that just so happens to follow mathematical patterns (if we assume that universe creation is random, and itself not dependent upon an even greater mystery of how that process is mathematical, too).

It's not enough to say it was a freak accident. That explains nothing. To think that the genesis of order itself was a random event seems inherently contradictory.

There are structures even in our universe which don't depend upon this much structure. Take my beach example. Sure, the individual placement of each grain of sand is constrained by the laws of physics. But a beach could still be a beach without those grains of sand lying in just that pattern. There are an infinite combination of grains of sand that could comprise a beach. So in order for it to be such, it doesn't require those underlying laws of physics to such a degree. Let's imagine a universe where there are no quantum physics, no subatomic particles, no atoms or electrons . . . just grains of sand. You could still have a beach and yet completely wipe out half of physics.

"But the universe wouldn't be like this" argument misses the point. It's certainly possible to have many different kinds of universes.
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 02, 2019 7:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You are reading too much into what I'm saying. I'm not saying:
-There can't be other universe's without the properties of ours.
-There can't be other universe's without consistent properties.
-There can't be other universe's with life without the properties of ours.
-There can't be other universe's with intelligence without the properties of ours.

I am saying there can't be a universe with life or intelligence without consistent properties.

I also am not saying it was a freak accident. At least not the way you're saying; that it's the only universe, and how unutterably unlikely that the only one happens to be like it is, and have us in it. I imagine any number of freak accidents, with wildly different results, and wildly similar results, and ours is one of them. And it happens to have the characteristics it has.

Like you, I'm speculating. Smile But I feel pretty safe. In any case, I won't be proven wrong.

But I have to check out your new thread. Laughing
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 02, 2019 11:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

But arent you saying that chaos cannot exist with order?

Because of physical laws that all matter MUST adhere to?

If that is correct, I believe Z has a stronger argument in that randomness AND chaos can exist WITH order and also could operates within physical laws.

I remember reading somewhere however, that even decay and entropy though may resemble disorder or chaos ... in fact disintegrate to form a new order. So maybe Im wrong anyway.

But how dont chaos and order mutually coexist? What is evidence of chaos and order mutually coexisting? I can think of evidence of decay and order but not precisely chaos 🤔

And ultimately any example of possible chaos is arguably more simply evidence of our lack of understanding of the particular laws that any example of chaos or disorder demonstrates 🤷‍♀️

And THAT is far more likely than perhaps even the existence of chaos itself.

But there is far more examples of randomness than chaos. Zs sand beach example is a good one of how such outcomes are and can introduce infinite variation.

Randomness and Order may be a better concept than chaos and order. Particularly if chaos is in fact an absence of order?
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 03, 2019 1:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Chaos systems are not actually chaotic. The weather is a good example. It is deterministic. It does not rain for no reason, or unpredictably. The weather anywhere in the world a month from today will have been caused by things that we can see and understand. But, long range, we can't predict it, and can't come up with a program that can. Because the initial conditions (the weather everywhere on earth now) and the variables (everything that affects the weather: volcanic activity; automobiles; a butterfly gossiping is wings; and pretty much everything else) are far to numerous and complex.

Quantum events, otoh, seem truly random. Why does one particular particle decay, but not another? Afaik, there is no reason. It is uncaused, and unpredictable. And yet, all of reality is built on it. In large numbers, quantum events are consistent and predictable. Despite being uncaused, in numbers, they follow a mathematical formula. Somehow, order is forced on them.

Personally, I don't see a reason to expect that the same math we find in lower levels is found in higher levels. I don't see why it is unexpected, or significant, that this is the case. A higher level is built on a lower level. What reason would there be for inconsistency?
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 03, 2019 3:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Very interesting comments Fist. The weather is a curious example .. and though there are examples of deterministic events that occur that are ALSO random and unpredictable.. like throwing a dice 🎲

Its each outcome that cant be predicted even though rolling a dice is affected by physical and mathematical laws .. resulting in innumerable or numerable possibilities re outcome.

Is it possible that possibilities arent linear? Ie higher level mathematical order is built on lower levels .. or even that lower level mathematical order is affected by higher order mathematics.

We are talking outcomes though. And trying to reverse engineer them to understand causative connection.

So randomness is an outcome that exists despite physical laws or their governance, hence cant be predicted .. but are NOT uncaused 🤔

Or arguably they may indeed result from said governance AND each physically causative laws that affect it .. so the randomness IS absolutely caused AND yet despite this, cant be predicted .. because of the countless possibilities or variables that will affect each micro outcome.

So randomness has a role to play .. arguably not unlike that of consciousness. You possess it .. a mind .. and because of the countless possibilities and variables in internal and external stimuli .. no one can accurately predict an individuals thoughts .. lets call them outcomes.

To my mind, consciousness is acquired as an evolutionary imperative connected with our physicality. Our bodies are sensory organs that enable environmental awareness .. and consciousness was developed to enable us to navigate our existence in order to survive.

I know thats not the level of detail that you would hope to see .. from this macro view.

But who knows, can we reverse engineer from the big picture perspective to the material minutiae that makes it possible. But we need to move the outcomes affected by randomness to one side.

I dont think they present a stumbling block at all .. to my mind they are less capable of being materially reducible but purely because we or I lack the understanding of the specific laws that govern randomness.

Though even WITH randomness, although specific outcomes may not be easily predicted there would seem to be causative connections, nevertheless.
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 18, 2019 7:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

GF showed me this yesterday...seemed somehow relevant... Very Happy Couldn't decide if it should go here, or in the Simulation thread though...

Quote:
No Self or True Self?Buddhist texts describe how consciousness itself creates the world like a dream or a mirage...


If you read it though, read it all. Very Happy

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PostPosted: Sat Jul 13, 2019 5:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Zarathustra wrote:
As he points out, evolution is perfectly reasonable once there are enough varieties of genetic material for natural selection to start "selecting." But the problem is explaining where the variety came from in the first place ... or even where life came from in the first place. DNA is a bewilderingly complex molecule. It isn't immediately obvious how nature would develop a process for building these molecules, a system for chemically reading and replicating them, etc. in the absence of the complex environments we have today that aid in protecting and replicating genes (i.e. multicellular, sexually reproducing creatures).

I've been thinking about this subject a lot the last few (several?) years, and if I ever go back for a PhD in English, it would be the subject of my theory of literary criticism, akin to literary Darwinism, which sadly was never brought up, possibly owing to its relative newness, in any of my English classes. There has to be an underlying principle in the broader, non-biological universe that I think not only allows evolution, since obviously it happens, but encourages it, albeit not so anthropomorphically. I suspect it's a reaction to entropy, but... English major.
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 13, 2019 5:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Fist and Faith wrote:
Chaos systems are not actually chaotic.


Tautologically speaking, chaotic systems are, in fact, chaotic. As it was originally defined, however, (not by the Greeks, I mean) chaos is the sensitivity of open/dynamic systems to changes in initial conditions. They're deterministic and can be modeled given sufficient data and computational power.

Quantum mechanics, on the other hand, is not considered deterministic, but only in the sense that you can't measure the position of a particle without changing its momentum (determining one prevents the determination of the other). It still follows mathematical rules and can be predicted, else we wouldn't be working on quantum computing.
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 15, 2019 1:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

[Syl] wrote:
Fist and Faith wrote:
Chaos systems are not actually chaotic.


Tautologically speaking, chaotic systems are, in fact, chaotic. As it was originally defined, however, (not by the Greeks, I mean) chaos is the sensitivity of open/dynamic systems to changes in initial conditions. They're deterministic and can be modeled given sufficient data and computational power.

Quantum mechanics, on the other hand, is not considered deterministic, but only in the sense that you can't measure the position of a particle without changing its momentum (determining one prevents the determination of the other). It still follows mathematical rules and can be predicted, else we wouldn't be working on quantum computing.


The problems with sensitivity to initial conditions [not with the statment/truth itself, with the long-term consequences] is things quantum/probabilistic arise constantly...any given instant/moment/point can suddenly BECOME a new initial condition. A pure, classic "three body problem" is deterministic. But if ANY element is in any way quantum-influenced, it becomes truly unpredictable and non-determined. Fisty's weather kinda works for one part of unpredictability...so damn many variables and weather more or less sensitive to each...BUT there is a deeper variability/uncertainty of the variables themselves.

A related thing, perhaps...
Some people just showed experimentally, replicably, that quantum shifts/changes:
1) take place WITHIN time...they are not necessarily instantaneous as much of the current assumes [schrodinger hated that assumption/decision].
2) the changes give "clues" in advance.
3) you can STOP it in the middle, and make it change its mind.
The implications are unclear. At this point it takes massive knowledge of states, limits of conditions, to do it...

It might be just a curiousity in the end.

It SEEMS according to some who have looked at it, to be possibly very important/useful [possibly] for making quantum computing work to full potential [which would be massively important going forward at least for people]

A few think it could lead to fundamental changes in the entirety of physics.

All speculative and dependent as things stand.

Also, Syl, other post...somewhere around here I linked to a guy among many dealing with the evolution thing you were talking about...it not only says evolution reacts/relates to entropy, entropy CAUSES evolutionary processes. The "organization" of life isn't contrary to/in defiance of entropy, it occures BECAUSE OF entropic processes. I'll look for it again. Z, IIRC, thought it was pretty cool...at least on the track of the kind of explanation needed...and if Z and I agree...well then... Might's well put it in a book, call it Holy, and found a system. Laughing

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 15, 2019 5:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

[Syl] wrote:
There has to be an underlying principle in the broader, non-biological universe that I think not only allows evolution, since obviously it happens, but encourages it, albeit not so anthropomorphically. I suspect it's a reaction to entropy, but... English major.


I tend to lean this way, myself, but it means that we're going against mainstream philosophy of science, which rules out teleological influences in the universe.

However, we already have a blatant violation of that principle right here: us. We have goals, plans, blueprints, intentions. We are bits of matter that move other bits of matter according to a "view" of the future. We ARE teleological. And if we ourselves reduce completely to matter, then matter and the laws which govern it must also be teleological.

So, obviously, we're missing a huge part of reality in our metaphysics (e.g. materialism, reductionism, etc.). I don't understand how this isn't obvious to all scientists. Even if you want to say that free will and consciousness are illusions, that we're actually 100% deterministic and material in every sense (with no emergent "remainders"), then how is it that this determinism/materialism includes what I plan to do next month? How do the laws of physics know that I want to see a Tenacious D concert? I know I will be going. I've purchased my ticket. My body will move to the arena and my sensory organs will capture sound waves of a very specific nature. These are facts that I can predict with stunning accuracy--from the date and time all the way down to the notes that will be played--even though none of those predictions can be derived from the laws of physics. In fact, most events in our global society are like this, emerging out of plans/anticipation for the future, rather than some bottom-up, blind particle explanation. Given enough time and computing power, you might be able to track all the matter that ends up where it does, and show that it all happens in accordance to the laws of physics (i.e. it doesn't violate them), but we don't need any of that information to plan a trip. Billions of people coordinate their movements into the future without any knowledge of the physics involved--because that knowledge is utterly unnecessary. The laws of physics aren't determining that 1000s of people will congregate at a specific arena on a particular date.

Our goals/plans/designs "ride on top of" the laws of physics. We are an emergent phenomenon that has its explanation at an order much higher than that of the particles. Just because we don't violate the laws that govern the motions of those particles doesn't mean that those laws in any way capture or explain the behaviors of these emergent phenomena. Imagine a particle explanation for 1000s of people gathering to see a show! Think of how unwieldy such an explanation would be, going down to the neural level of each person's brain! And now think of everything it would leave out! It would capture nothing about the emotive power of music, the comedic value of Jack Black, the anticipation of mutual appreciation in a live event, or even the bare fact that we have all marked a date on our calendars with the intention of not forgetting (something that would be utterly unnecessary if the laws of physics were actually determining the place/time that all these bodies would congregate).

We wear this world like clothing. When I move myself, my clothing moves with me. But the conjunction of the two movements is trivial, secondary. My clothes will end up at the concert due to the laws of physics, but *I* will end up there for an entirely different set of reasons.
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 18, 2019 10:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've been very busy for a long time, so haven't been to the Watch. First post I read when logging in is that, Z. A nice way to return.
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 17, 2019 12:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

https://dailygalaxy.com/2019/09/the-ultimate-mystery-consciousness-may-exist-in-the-absence-of-matter-weekend-feature/amp/

This doesn't give any specific ideas, but it's obviously on topic. I guess thrust of it is a book by Deepak Chopra and physicist Menas Kafatos. Which is a letdown for me. With great anticipation, I tried a book by Chopra once, and was very disappointed. But if anybody is into him, this might be a good one to try. I might try it anyway, since his co-author might temper him for my tastes.
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 17, 2019 2:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Julian May's Mental Man?
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 18, 2019 12:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Atoning Unifex?!?
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 28, 2019 11:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Avatar wrote:
GF showed me this yesterday...seemed somehow relevant... Very Happy Couldn't decide if it should go here, or in the Simulation thread though...

Quote:
No Self or True Self?Buddhist texts describe how consciousness itself creates the world like a dream or a mirage...


If you read it though, read it all. Very Happy

--A


Quote:
Sri Nisargadatta says:

The real world is beyond our thoughts and ideas; we see it through the net of our desires, divided into pleasure and pain, right and wrong, inner and outer. To see the universe as it is, you must step beyond the net. It is not hard to do so, for the net is full of holes.


My own experience on this quote by Sri Nisargadatta is when I realised we never really talk to one another, only to ourselves. It's as if we've created some visceral broadsheet to surround and protect our thoughts. We use this metaphorical wall to reference and cross-reference every idea in order to construct sentences, even before we utter a single sound.
I suspect this basic tension arises primarily from the double helix.
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 30, 2019 5:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Interesting insight Luke. I love the way youve articulated your take.

I think your take goes a distance further than the quote itself ... and opens up a wealth of discussion fodder and possibilities.

Though I dont follow your comment re the double helix .. are you suggesting the net is made up of the human genome? 🧬
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 01, 2020 4:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just read (listened to) Conscious: A Brief Guide to the Fundamental Mystery of the Mind, by Annaka Harr. Looked like it would be a nice introduction to things. Which I still need. Enjoyed it tremendously. There's some discussion of various physical/brain functions, and what they say about the mind, like binding and split-brain stuff (which we've probably all heard before, but which never fails to absolutely fascinate me).

Despite this:
Annaka Harr wrote:
My own sense of the correct resolution to the mystery of consciousness, whether or not we can ever achieve a true understanding, is still currently split between a brain-based explanation and a panpsychic one.
she makes some very good points for panpsychism. It seems to be a major point of the book, in fact.

Although she doesn't suggest she is disagreeing with Nagel about anything, it seems to me she is in one way. She spends a lot of time discussing experiments that show consciousness is not responsible for decisions. "Consequently, findings about how decisions are made at the level of the brain - and the milliseconds of delay in our conscious awareness of sensory input and even of our own thoughts - have caused many neuroscientists, Gazzaniga included, to describe the feeling of conscious will is an illusion." The idea is that consciousness is just "along for the ride". Binding shows that our awareness of things is delayed until our brains can put all the pieces together. Another delay can be found between our thought to move our finger and our awareness of our thought to move our finger in that famous experiment.

Further, a couple of things reveal that people only think they did something out of conscious will, when the decision they thought they made was actually the result of manipulation. One is a series of studies conducted by Daniel Wegner and Thalia Wheatley:
Quote:
We have a participant in the experiment put their hands on a little board that's resting on top of a computer mouse, and the mouse moves a cursor around on a screen. The screen has a variety of different objects, pictures from the book I-Spy-in this case little plastic toys. Also in the room is our confederate; both of them have headphones on, and together they are asked to move the cursor around the screen and rest on an object every few seconds, whenever music comes on. . . . Most of the time they hear sounds over the headphones they're wearing, and some of these are names of things on the screen. The key part of the experiment occurs when, in some trials, the confederate is asked to force our subject to land the cursor on a particular object, so the person who we're testing hasn't done it, but has been forced. It's just as though someone was cheating on a Ouija board. We play the name of the object to our participant at some interval of time before or after they're forced to move, and we find that if we play the name of the object just a second before they're forced to move to it, they report having done it intentionally. . . . The feeling of agency can be fooled-and yet, we go about our daily lives feeling the opposite.
Here's another:
Quote:
The split-brain literature contains many examples suggesting that two conscious points of view can reside in a single brain. Most of them also topple the typical notion of free will, by exposing a phenomenon generated by the left hemisphere that Gazzaniga and his colleague Joseph LeDoux dubbed "the interpreter."18 This phenomenon occurs when the right hemisphere takes action based on information it has access to that the left hemisphere doesn't, and the left hemisphere then gives an instantaneous and false explanation for the split-brain subject's behavior. For example, when the right hemisphere is given the instruction "Take a walk" in an experiment, the subject will stand up and begin walking. But when asked why he's leaving the room, he will give an explanation such as, "Oh, I need to get a drink." His left hemisphere, the one responsible for speech, is unaware of the command the right side received, and we have every reason to think that he does in fact believe his thirst was the reason he got up and began walking. As in the example in which experimenters were able to cause a feeling of will in subjects who in actuality were not in control of their own actions, the phenomenon of "the interpreter" is further confirmation that the feeling we have of executing consciously willed actions, at least in some instances, is sheer illusion.
Something else she says is something I tried to express once when I discussed my choice between two desserts that I love. She says:
Quote:
A distinction between the brain's intentional behaviors and behaviors that are caused by brain damage or other outside forces ("against one's will") is valid and necessary, especially when structuring a society's laws and criminal justice systems. But the claim that conscious will is illusory still stands-in the sense that consciousness is not steering the ship-and can be maintained alongside these other distinctions of intentionality and responsibility. The experiments described in this chapter are in fact not necessary to prove the point. Our experience alone reveals the illusion, and you can gain insight into this with a simple experiment. Sit in a quiet place and give yourself a choice-to lift either your arm or your foot-that must be made before a given time (before the second hand on the clock reaches the six, for example). Do this over and over again and observe your moment-to-moment experience closely. Notice how this choice gets made in real time and what it feels like. Where does the decision come from? Do you decide when to decide, or does a decision simply arise in your conscious experience? Does a free-floating conscious will somehow deliver the thought, Move your arm, or is the thought delivered to you? What actually made you choose arm over foot? It may suddenly seem that "you" (meaning your conscious experience) didn't have any part in it.
She ends this line of thinking with this:
Quote:
It seems clear that we can't decide what to think or feel, any more than we can decide what to see or hear. A highly complicated convergence of factors and past events-including our genes, our personal life history, our immediate environment, and the state of our brain-is responsible for each next thought. Did you decide to remember your high school band when that song started playing on the radio? Did I decide to write this book? In some sense, the answer is yes, but the "I" in question is not my conscious experience. In actuality, my brain, in conjunction with its history and the outside world, decided. I (my consciousness) simply witness decisions unfolding.


Next, she gives examples of various parasites controlling the behavior of various critters.

And the point of all this - I mean my point, about her seeming to disagree with Nagel - is in these two quotes:
Quote:
With so many behind-the-scenes forces at work-from the essential neurological processes we previously examined to bacterial infections and parasites-it's hard to see how our behavior, preferences, and even choices could be under the control of our conscious will in any real sense. It seems much more accurate to say that consciousness is along for the ride-watching the show, rather than creating or controlling it.
-----------------
Another potential source of erroneous arguments against panpsychism is based in evolution, as most scientific and philosophical support for the idea that consciousness is confined to the nervous systems of living things relies in part on the assertion that consciousness is a product of biological evolution. The logic is understandable, given that our most sophisticated methods of survival seem to us to require consciousness. But if consciousness doesn't determine our behavior as we have traditionally assumed, the evolution argument doesn't hold up. How can consciousness increase the likelihood of survival if it doesn't affect our behavior in the typical sense?
IIRC, Nagel suggests something along the lines of consciousness like ours being the point of evolution. Teleological. That seems opposed to her thinking that consciousness doesn't actually do anything, or isn't anything, other than experience - that conscious will is an illusion.

She does, however, point out this:
Quote:
...it's hard to see how conscious experience plays a role in behavior. That's not to say it doesn't, but it's almost impossible to point to specific ways in which it does.

However, in my own musings, I have stumbled into what might be an interesting exception: consciousness seems to play a role in behavior when we think and talk about the mystery of consciousness. When I contemplate "what it's like" to be something, that experience of consciousness presumably affects the subsequent processing taking place in my brain. And almost nothing I think or say when contemplating consciousness would make any sense coming from a system without it.



But she does not think consciousness is an illusion. Only conscious will. She clearly thinks consciousness is real:
Quote:
Some philosophers go so far as to suggest that there isn't a hard problem of consciousness at all, reducing consciousness to an illusion. But as others have pointed out, consciousness is the one thing that can't be an illusion-by definition. An illusion can appear within consciousness, but you are either experiencing something or you're not-consciousness is necessary for an illusion to take place.



She supports panpsychism in these ways:
Quote:
The natural tendency f scientific exploration is to arrive at as simple an explanation as possible, and the concept of consciousness emerging out of nonconscious material represents a kind of failure of the typical goal of scientific explanation.
Quote:
Skrbina walks the reader through more than three hundred years of contemplations by scientists-from Johannes Kepler to Roger Penrose-who take a scientific approach to panpsychism, many of whom arrive at the conclusion that the simplest explanation of consciousness is in fact a panpsychic one. About thirty years after Haldane, in the 1960s, the biologist Bernhard Rensch asserted that just as there is a blurring of categories when we examine the evolution of one life-form to another at the level of microorganisms and cells, the stark division between living and nonliving systems is blurred, and a mistaken distinction likely carries over to the boundaries of conscious experience as well.


I like this moment, when she's discussing panpsychism:
Quote:
Once again, it's important to distinguish between consciousness and complex thought when considering modern panpsychic views. Postulating that consciousness is fundamental isn't the same as suggesting that complex ideas or thoughts are fundamental and magically result in a material realization of those ideas (a common misinterpretation of panpsychism). The claim is just the opposite-that if consciousness exists as a fundamental property, complex systems, built from that-which-is-already-streaming -consciousness, could eventually give rise to physical structures such as human minds. David Skrbina addresses the problem of anthropic projections, in which we "place the demands of human consciousness on inanimate particles," and he explains the necessity of distinguishing between consciousness and memory:
Quote:
Certainly anything like the human mind requires a human-like memory, but this is relevant only for complex organisms. It is not reasonable to demand that atomic particles have anything like the memory capability of the human being, or even any physical instantiation of something like memory. Minds of atoms may conceivably be, for example, a stream of instantaneous memory-less moments of experience.
That last sentence is excellent! A great bit of thinking about something in a different, and amazing, way!
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 02, 2020 8:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

How very fascinating FnF Shocked ... so much here.

I find the distinction between consciousness and ... can we say autonomy (?) is very interesting.

Ok if we cant say autonomy then as she describes .. conscious WILL.

And that Will is often a response to a range of internal and external factors.

Great read 👍
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 15, 2020 10:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, I very much enjoyed her book. Partly because I understood more of her than I do of Nagel. Laughing

BUT! I just learned Nagel is available as an audiobook! So I'll be listening to it on my commute. My commute has been much longer since April than it was for several years. I always hated driving, but I have now listened to several excellent books. I can't read much, due to my apnea, but I can listen while driving. Nagel is next. I'll be hitting the button to go back 30 seconds quite often, I'm sure. Laughing But that's ok.
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 17, 2020 5:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Fist and Faith wrote:

Although she doesn't suggest she is disagreeing with Nagel about anything, it seems to me she is in one way. She spends a lot of time discussing experiments that show consciousness is not responsible for decisions. "Consequently, findings about how decisions are made at the level of the brain - and the milliseconds of delay in our conscious awareness of sensory input and even of our own thoughts - have caused many neuroscientists, Gazzaniga included, to describe the feeling of conscious will is an illusion." The idea is that consciousness is just "along for the ride". Binding shows that our awareness of things is delayed until our brains can put all the pieces together. Another delay can be found between our thought to move our finger and our awareness of our thought to move our finger in that famous experiment.
If consciousness is a teleological function, and thus consciousness is the teleological side of matter, then we're taking about a kind of "backwards causation," where the future determines the present. That's what teleology is! And in that case, experiments which show consciousness happening after the event in question isn't necessarily damning. We're talking about a reversal of the temporal flow of causation itself.

But even if that's too "far out," and we constrain ourselves to normal, chronological causation, I don't think experiments involving the movement of body parts is very illustrative or relevant. We all know that the body can operate on "autopilot." We also know that consciousness is ripe for illusions. It's not surprising that when we examine these two divergent realms at such a basic level, things get fuzzy.

None of these experiments reveal the distinction between (for instance) 1. learning to drive a car and 2. being an expert at driving a car. When you are first learning, you're very aware of what you're doing. When you are an expert, you rely upon "muscle memory," instinct, and habit. You can drive 100 miles talking on the phone and not even notice all the little movements you're doing to keep yourself alive in this vehicle. But just because these actions can be relegated to "automatic," doesn't prove that will and consciousness aren't necessary to the process . . . at some point. Try learning to drive without being conscious, and get back to us how successful you are. Laughing

Fist and Faith wrote:

Quote:
. . . We play the name of the object to our participant at some interval of time before or after they're forced to move, and we find that if we play the name of the object just a second before they're forced to move to it, they report having done it intentionally. . . . The feeling of agency can be fooled-and yet, we go about our daily lives feeling the opposite.
Just because the feeling of agency can be fooled doesn't mean agency is an illusion. As your author goes on to say, the possibility of illusion doesn't prove that consciousness is an illusion. Similarly (though not exactly), the consciousness of agency isn't proven to be universally false merely because it's sometimes wrong.

Fist and Faith wrote:

Here's another:
Quote:
The split-brain literature contains many examples suggesting that two conscious points of view can reside in a single brain. Most of them also topple the typical notion of free will, by exposing a phenomenon generated by the left hemisphere that Gazzaniga and his colleague Joseph LeDoux dubbed "the interpreter."
I don't think you can make sound inferences about whole brains from the behaviors of damaged brains. With that said, I admit that consciousness is a kind of "interpreter," making sense out of inputs, and sometimes it gets this interpretation wrong. But just because the interpretation is wrong (i.e. an illusion) doesn't mean that the underlying phenomenon is nonexistent. Both facts can be true, namely, that a person decided to stand up due to the input of a verbal command, and that they interpret this decision with the wrong words, especially when the two hemispheres aren't communicating. When you split consciousness and its functions this drastically, of course you're going to get wonky results. Why would anyone attribute that to illusory agency, rather than the much more likely and obvious fact that the brain has been split???

Think of the times when you have trouble verbalizing something. A feeling, a gut reaction, an instinct. You can act on this feeling, but still not be able to describe it. Does your lack of an accurate verbal description mean you weren't free to act upon that feeling? I don't see how. No one is claiming here that freewill is dependent upon accurate verbal descriptions of our behavior.

Fist and Faith wrote:
She ends this line of thinking with this:
Quote:
It seems clear that we can't decide what to think or feel, any more than we can decide what to see or hear. A highly complicated convergence of factors and past events-including our genes, our personal life history, our immediate environment, and the state of our brain-is responsible for each next thought. Did you decide to remember your high school band when that song started playing on the radio? Did I decide to write this book? In some sense, the answer is yes, but the "I" in question is not my conscious experience. In actuality, my brain, in conjunction with its history and the outside world, decided. I (my consciousness) simply witness decisions unfolding.
She is conflating very different actions. Having a song remind you of your old band is vastly different from deciding to start a band in the first place. Of course you can't help what reminds you of what. But you can certainly refrain from forming a band. Freewill isn't the complete, absolute control of every stray thought.

Fist and Faith wrote:

And the point of all this - I mean my point, about her seeming to disagree with Nagel - is in these two quotes:
Quote:
With so many behind-the-scenes forces at work-from the essential neurological processes we previously examined to bacterial infections and parasites-it's hard to see how our behavior, preferences, and even choices could be under the control of our conscious will in any real sense. It seems much more accurate to say that consciousness is along for the ride-watching the show, rather than creating or controlling it.
-----------------
Another potential source of erroneous arguments against panpsychism is based in evolution, as most scientific and philosophical support for the idea that consciousness is confined to the nervous systems of living things relies in part on the assertion that consciousness is a product of biological evolution. The logic is understandable, given that our most sophisticated methods of survival seem to us to require consciousness. But if consciousness doesn't determine our behavior as we have traditionally assumed, the evolution argument doesn't hold up. How can consciousness increase the likelihood of survival if it doesn't affect our behavior in the typical sense?
IIRC, Nagel suggests something along the lines of consciousness like ours being the point of evolution. Teleological. That seems opposed to her thinking that consciousness doesn't actually do anything, or isn't anything, other than experience - that conscious will is an illusion.
I think you're getting Nagel wrong. He's not saying that it's the point of evolution. He's saying that it controls evolution. It produces itself. If your author here is right, it only highlights the problem of this thread even more: if consciousness doesn't increase the likelihood of survival because it doesn't affect our behavior, then how the hell did evolution produce it?? Why would evolution produce an illusion of agency if the body acts on its own without agency? A materialist reductive account of consciousness cannot account for the fact that consciousness exists. Therefore, since consciousness exists, we must question reductive materialist accounts of it . . . especially the idea that conscious agency is an illusion, because that is the intersection between consciousness and the physical world.

She is looking in the wrong places. Consciousness is important to action because it informs action. Freewill is found in the decision to devise a strategy to work as a team to take down a mammoth, not in the mechanics of how the arm moves to throw the spear. Highly intelligent, intentional action is not possible without consciousness. My body might tell my finger when/how to move, but it can't predict what is going to happen in the next few weeks based on the migration of animals and movements of the stars. We make intentional plans based on our anticipation of the future that would be nonsensical on any explanation that relies upon neurons firing instead of the apprehension of meaning inherent in the world that manifests through time. And this apprehension is impossible without consciousness. And therefore, actions based on the apprehension of that meaning are nonsensical without taking into account the consciousness necessary for that apprehension. Understanding is not an illusion, it is the exact opposite--the destruction of illusion. And the most important actions we take, as both a species and individuals, are only possible due to increases in our understanding. Understanding is a conscious function. You can't understand something without simultaneously being conscious of it.

Fist and Faith wrote:
She does, however, point out this:
Quote:
...it's hard to see how conscious experience plays a role in behavior. That's not to say it doesn't, but it's almost impossible to point to specific ways in which it does.
This is a failure of her imagination. I just pointed out a specific way in which consciousness plays a role in behavior. Far from being "nearly impossible," it's actually fairly easy. I could come up with endless examples.


Fist and Faith wrote:

She supports panpsychism in these ways:
Quote:
The natural tendency f scientific exploration is to arrive at as simple an explanation as possible, and the concept of consciousness emerging out of nonconscious material represents a kind of failure of the typical goal of scientific explanation.
Quote:
Skrbina walks the reader through more than three hundred years of contemplations by scientists-from Johannes Kepler to Roger Penrose-who take a scientific approach to panpsychism, many of whom arrive at the conclusion that the simplest explanation of consciousness is in fact a panpsychic one. About thirty years after Haldane, in the 1960s, the biologist Bernhard Rensch asserted that just as there is a blurring of categories when we examine the evolution of one life-form to another at the level of microorganisms and cells, the stark division between living and nonliving systems is blurred, and a mistaken distinction likely carries over to the boundaries of conscious experience as well.
This is a basic contradiction in her position. If panpsychism is true, then there is no sense in which any action happens without consciousness. If my finger is moving because my brain tells it to move--rather than my consciousness--but my brain is conscious all the way down to its constituent atoms, then how does she know that it's not the conscious decision of the atoms themselves to make my finger move? Agency would just be moved down a level, not removed completely. Instead of being illusory, it would be ubiquitous!
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