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How Does Evolution Produce Consciousnes/Reason?
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Fist and Faith
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 18, 2020 1:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

No, I wasn't particularly convinced by her thoughts on conscious will. You've spoken eloquently about teleology. If we plan for the future, and fulfill those plans by building things like the Empire State Building and Hoover Dam, and go to Tenacious D concerts, the consciousness certainly has influenced behavior.

What I've heard about that famous experiment conducted by Benjamin Libet is so far from convincing that I'm stunned people take it seriously. Maybe I haven't read a good account of it? Tried Gazzaniga's The Mind's Past, because Harr said: "Surprisingly, our consciousness also doesn't appear to be involved in much of our own behavior, apart from bearing witneess to it. A number of fascinating experiments have been conducted in thei area, and the neuroscientist Michael Gazzaniga describes some of them in detail in a wonderful chapter aptly titled 'The Brain Knows Before You Do" in his book The Mind's Past." IMO, he does a horrible job of describing them. I literally don't even know what the experiment is until I google it. People look at a clock, make a decision to move their finger, and make note of when they made the decision. Come to find out their brain started preparing for the finger movement 350 milliseconds before the conscious decision was made. I have some doubts.

This is the clock they were looking at:
www.informationphilosopher.com/solutions/scientists/libet/clock.html
Are you kidding?!? I think there are a couple pretty big problems with this.

1) Any chance people can't tell you exactly where that rapidly moving dot was when they made the decision? Any chance they could be off by as much as, oh let's just make up a number, 350 milliseconds?

2) I suspect people in this situation will often think, "When will I move my finger? When will I move my finger? How do I decide? I know! I'll move it when the dot hits the 30." And yes, they actually begin the process of moving it then. Thing is, part of them was watching the dot approach 30 (at that crazy speed), and began preparing for the move ahead of time. We're talking less than a half-second. I'm sure, "Get ready! Get ready! Here it comes!!!" will show up as brain activity before you think "NOW!"

3) It didn't show brain activity prior to an entirely different part of the body moving, followed by the person saying, "WHAT?!? I didn't know I was going to move that!!"

Zarathustra wrote:
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.
I don't think it says much about free will, either. But I do think it touches on panpsychism. The half that speaks is clearly conscious, though entirely unaware that it was shown a picture of anything. The half that cannot communicate picks out the object shown in the picture from several objects, which were all hidden from sight. There are two consciousnesses. When joined by the corpus callosum, there is one. The two parts have joined together into one. There is no sign that there are two consciousnesses cooperating. When the person with split brain hugs someone with one arm while trying to push the person away with the other arm, a resolution of any sort means the two consciousnesses cooperated in some way. But when joined, they become one.

Could be panpsychism could work that way. And it wouldn't have to to nearly that degree, for the most part. It's not like the atoms of the brain have the same type and/or degree of consciousness as the brain, so there aren't trillions of consciousnesses that need to find a way to cooperate.

Zarathustra wrote:
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.
In what way would that not be the point of evolution?

Zarathustra wrote:
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??
Laughing Agreed.

Zarathustra wrote:
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!
I don't think, and I don't think she thinks, panpsychism has to mean a degree of consciousness that can make decisions all the way down. Like the Skrbina quote says, "Minds of atoms may conceivably be, for example, a stream of instantaneous memory-less moments of experience." I don't know if that's possible, or just poetic. But we're talking about consciousness - something that is not materially reducible. That's not possible! Laughing But it exists, nonetheless. I have a tough time distinguishing the valid theories of how this can be from the hair-brained ones. What criteria do we use to say what's possible and what's not? So I'm willing to entertain the idea of atoms having a stream of instantaneous memory-less moments of experience. "Experience" is Galen Strawson's word for consciousness. (I tried to start reading him, but then learned that Nagel is on audio, so I'll get back to Strawson.) Skrbina's idea is experience of a vastly reduced degree, but it's still panpsychism.
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 18, 2020 6:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Fist and Faith wrote:

What I've heard about that famous experiment conducted by Benjamin Libet is so far from convincing that I'm stunned people take it seriously.

. . . I think there are a couple pretty big problems with this.

1) Any chance people can't tell you exactly where that rapidly moving dot was when they made the decision? Any chance they could be off by as much as, oh let's just make up a number, 350 milliseconds?

2) I suspect people in this situation will often think, "When will I move my finger? When will I move my finger? How do I decide? I know! I'll move it when the dot hits the 30." And yes, they actually begin the process of moving it then. Thing is, part of them was watching the dot approach 30 (at that crazy speed), and began preparing for the move ahead of time. We're talking less than a half-second. I'm sure, "Get ready! Get ready! Here it comes!!!" will show up as brain activity before you think "NOW!"

3) It didn't show brain activity prior to an entirely different part of the body moving, followed by the person saying, "WHAT?!? I didn't know I was going to move that!!"
I think that's a great description of the problem with the experiment, and yes I'm surprised anyone takes the conclusions seriously, too.
Quote:

Zarathustra wrote:
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.
In what way would that not be the point of evolution?
It's the difference between a rock not having a point to its existence other than being a rock, and then an intelligent being makes an arrowhead out of it. I think that evolution can be both a blind, purposeless process operating along principles much as today's scientists imagine it does, and also be guided in certain directions by consciousness. So it doesn't have a point in itself, but only achieves one when consciousness shapes it like a tool. [This process becomes undeniable once we have intelligent beings that can literally engineer their own DNA. It's not even theoretical or speculative at that point. It's an obvious, terrifying fact.]

There are plenty of organisms that haven't evolved in millions (billions?) of years, like bacteria. If consciousness was the point, then they're not getting the point. I still think that accident and serendipity plays a role--and that's true for all "levels" of consciousness. We still might get "selected" for extinction. And then what was the point?
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 02, 2020 11:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Zarathustra wrote:
It's the difference between a rock not having a point to its existence other than being a rock, and then an intelligent being makes an arrowhead out of it.

That is interesting!

I just watched the film Stone, wherein Frances Conroy has the best line. She tells her asshole husband (played by Robert DeNiro) that we only get one life, and that life is continually evolving - 'it begins first as a stone before ever becoming a complex organism'.
As a fern in time will become clover, before it can be a flowering plant.

The story arc of the four central characters in the film are portrayed in the same way cells split to form new cells. In doing so the good breaks away from the bad, and evolves. Something we might witness even in our own daily lives!
I don't know how evolution produces consicousness and reason, but I do know (as a rock becomes an arrowhead) there has to be external forces at work before any internal process can be realized.
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 13, 2020 8:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

+JMJ+

What science can’t tell us about the mind (and Scripture can) [In-Depth]

Quote:

iStock


A Reflection for the 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Readings: Sirach 27:30-28: 7 Romans 14:7-9 Matthew 18:21-35

=================================================================================================================================================================================================================================================================================================================

In all fields of knowledge, our mental pictures either help us to understand the world we encounter or they impede the attempt. A genius or even a successful teacher is someone who draws a new image in our minds, one that leads to deeper insight.

In his newest book, Until the End of Time: Mind, Matter, and Our Search for Meaning in An Evolving Universe, the physicist Brian Greene offers a mental picture of what happens when we know something. Philosophers like Immanuel Kant have been warning us for centuries that this is impossible to do and equally impossible for us to stop trying to do. The task is ever more difficult with the expanse and diversification of human knowledge, so give Greene credit for the attempt.

Yet in trying to understand what it means for us to understand, we must continually ask if the picture offered is expansive enough. Does it truly illustrate what it means to know something? Greene employs the humble, computerized vacuum cleaner Roomba as a model of what happens in the human mind.

Quote:
The Roomba learns. Indeed, as the Roomba faces the challenge of navigating around objects it has encountered, the solutions it employs — avoid stairs, circle around that table leg, and so on — display rudimentary creativity.


Greene’s conclusion? “Learning and creativity do not require free will.”

In the philosophy of science, Greene is what we call a reductionist. He suspects that someday all of reality, including free will, will be explained by the laws of physics, just as those principles determine the fields of chemistry and perhaps biology, though the latter is still a contested issue. Greene admits:

Quote:
Your internal organization, your “software,” is more refined than the Roomba’s, facilitating your more sophisticated capacity for learning and creativity. At any given moment, your particles are in a specific arrangement. Your experiences, whether external encounters or internal deliberations, reconfigure that arrangement. And such reconfigurations impact how your particles will subsequently behave. That is, such reconfigurations update your software, adjusting the instructions that guide your ensuing thoughts and actions. An imaginative spark, a blundering error, a clever line, an emphatic hug, a dismissive remark, a heroic act all result from your personal particle constellation progressing from one arrangement to another. As you observe how everyone and everything responds to your actions, your particle constellation shifts again, reconfiguring its patterns to further adjust your behavior. At the level of your particulate ingredients, this is learning. And when the resulting behaviors are novel, the configuration has generated creativity.


If you follow Greene’s argument, at some future date scientists will not need to explain to anyone that the consciousness and freedom that they think they experience are only the results of a vast, quite particular combination of particles. Instead, there will be something like an injection. It will rearrange our particles, making our complete physical determination self-evident to us. At that point, why talk us into insight when a particle procedure would be faster?

That the mind emerges from and is dependent upon the brain is not the issue. No, the question is: When we speak of minds, can someone who would reduce consciousness to biology offer an adequate picture of what it means for us to know something? To know anything?

[…]

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PostPosted: Thu Sep 17, 2020 4:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
That the mind emerges from and is dependent upon the brain is not the issue. No, the question is: When we speak of minds, can someone who would reduce consciousness to biology offer an adequate picture of what it means for us to know something? To know anything?

Adequate for what purpose? If it's evolution, for instance, can they create a more convincing materially based narrative depicting the history of life than creationists? (i.e. garden of eden) I guess that's up to, uh, "us" to decide on. Personally...I found evolution more plausible than genesis. Like it says in "It Ain't Necessarily So," "No man lives 900 years" (not that I have evidence of that).

How about sex? I've never tried it, ("you've never tried sex? *Laughter*) but does viagra work? When I was in hebrew school our rabbi said that "to know" and to have sex had similar roots or meanings in the hebrew language. Maybe biologists made meaningful contributions to that kind of knowledge.
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 08, 2020 12:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Your internal organization, your "software," is more refined than the Roomba's, facilitating your more sophisticated capacity for learning and creativity. At any given moment, your particles are in a specific arrangement. Your experiences, whether external encounters or internal deliberations, reconfigure that arrangement. And such reconfigurations impact how your particles will subsequently behave. That is, such reconfigurations update your software, adjusting the instructions that guide your ensuing thoughts and actions. An imaginative spark, a blundering error, a clever line, an emphatic hug, a dismissive remark, a heroic act all result from your personal particle constellation progressing from one arrangement to another. As you observe how everyone and everything responds to your actions, your particle constellation shifts again, reconfiguring its patterns to further adjust your behavior. At the level of your particulate ingredients, this is learning. And when the resulting behaviors are novel, the configuration has generated creativity.
Problem is, as Z has eloquently made abundantly clear, that's not what's going on.
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 08, 2020 12:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

+JMJ+

Fist and Faith wrote:
Quote:
Your internal organization, your "software," is more refined than the Roomba's, facilitating your more sophisticated capacity for learning and creativity. At any given moment, your particles are in a specific arrangement. Your experiences, whether external encounters or internal deliberations, reconfigure that arrangement. And such reconfigurations impact how your particles will subsequently behave. That is, such reconfigurations update your software, adjusting the instructions that guide your ensuing thoughts and actions. An imaginative spark, a blundering error, a clever line, an emphatic hug, a dismissive remark, a heroic act all result from your personal particle constellation progressing from one arrangement to another. As you observe how everyone and everything responds to your actions, your particle constellation shifts again, reconfiguring its patterns to further adjust your behavior. At the level of your particulate ingredients, this is learning. And when the resulting behaviors are novel, the configuration has generated creativity.


Problem is, as Z has eloquently made abundantly clear, that's not what's going on.


Considering that said reductionism is apparently neither the article's author's view of "what's going on", then it seems we're all on the same page more-or-less.

Smile
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 09, 2020 1:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Except for Greene. I think it's his quote?
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 09, 2020 2:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

+JMJ+

Fist and Faith wrote:
Except for Greene. I think it's his quote?


Tru dat. I guess "all" is not quite "all" after all. Wink
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 09, 2020 2:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Still, all in all.
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 20, 2020 5:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Researcher proposes new theory of consciousness
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 21, 2020 3:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well... Considering the delicacy of the brain and the uniqueness and unexplainability of the mind, I'm certainly willing to consider it. Why not? Unfortunately, I don't have much faith in my ability to understand a fuller explanation of this theory, which I found here:
https://academic.oup.com/nc/article/2020/1/niaa016/5909853

Too many references to others. (I know I looked for something by Tononi, but I only remember his name at this point.) I'll see how much I can manage to comprehend.
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 03, 2020 12:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Zarathustra wrote:
Researcher proposes new theory of consciousness


Hmm I am little skeptical. I would have preferred a more well documented and analytical approach. This article proposes a theory then says well since this theory is proposed it should be correct. Huh? I think it has potential of being right but based on this article alone I am not seeing necessary convincing proof that electromagnetic field is the seat of consciousness.

I will now look at Fist and Faith article maybe shed more light.
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 03, 2020 1:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Fist and Faith wrote:
Well... Considering the delicacy of the brain and the uniqueness and unexplainability of the mind, I'm certainly willing to consider it. Why not? Unfortunately, I don't have much faith in my ability to understand a fuller explanation of this theory, which I found here:
https://academic.oup.com/nc/article/2020/1/niaa016/5909853

Too many references to others. (I know I looked for something by Tononi, but I only remember his name at this point.) I'll see how much I can manage to comprehend.


Wow ok that is more intense read then I suspected and provides much more detailed construct for the theory. I will have to read it when I have more time but since he is approaching from multiple theories and with scientific arguments I am not sure I will be able to grasp all the details.

My first takeaway is concern of which level of consciousness are they talking about? Maybe that is addressed and I missed it. But what I am referring to is are they talking any consciousness including animal level or just human level?

My other concern is what state of consciousness? Some of the arguments seem to revolve a pretty involved state of being. But we can argue a small child or even a infant has some degree of consciousness. But it seemed like the article was presupposing a more advanced state of consciousness. Perhaps if I had read on it is simply pointing out that if we can identify it in adults then we can presume similar pattern in an human.

Anyways interesting article and I hope to try to tackle another time.
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