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How Does Evolution Produce Consciousness/Reason?
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 26, 2022 7:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It doesn't seem right to me either, but it's interesting as a thought experiment. It's a way to think about dualism on the micro level, and not just the macro. But it's still dualism. The "from the outside" and "from the inside" distinctions don't really help. It is equally difficult to explain how an identity can be made between these two things at the micro level as it is at the macro level. It's still the same mystery, except now there's no evidence for it. We have no access to "from the inside" for atomic particles.

As for your liquidity example, I do think that properties of matter can emerge at the macro level that aren't in the micro level. [Emergence.] Indeed, every macro property is of a different type than quantum properties. So this, too, is already baked into the system of modern physics, even before we consider consciousness--just the basic properties of matter. There is an "ontological divide" between big and small.

But I disagree that consciousness is a property of matter. I think it's truly immaterial, where liquidity is not. Consciousness is no more a property of matter than is: "If X, then Y. X. Therefore Y." And yet consciousness, despite being produced by matter, can easily hold this immaterial thing as its content. The fact that we can think of immaterial things is just as mysterious as consciousness being immaterial. In fact, they are the same mystery. And yet there seems to be much less concern about whether the content of our thoughts is immaterial than the consciousness itself. Even if you completely reduced the phenomenon of consciousness to brain states (e.g. neurons firing), nothing more than a biological process, how is this process holding immaterial objects as its content?

I don't think analogies to computers or water get close to what's going on here.
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 26, 2022 2:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Maybe there's a better way to word it. I just mean some groups of particles have human consciousness. Just as some groups of particles have liquidity. Should I be saying human consciousness is a characteristic of some groups of particles, rather than a property?

Not sure what you mean about "from the outside" and "from the inside". Seems to me he's saying the same thing Nagel is:
At the ends if Chapter 1, Nagel wrote:
We ourselves are large-scale, complex instances of something both objectively physical from outside and subjectively mental from inside.



Zarathustra wrote:
I don't think analogies to computers or water get close to what's going on here.
I agree. But it's a starting point. At least it's one I can grasp. If one thing we see on a macro scale, liquidity, is a product of properties of particles that are not, themselves, liquidity, then maybe human consciousness is another example. If so, it's a matter of learning what those properties of particles that are not human consciousness are. At this point, it seems very odd to think that spin and mass are among them. I guess we're working with a handicap on discovering what those properties are. After all, we usually find properties using the physical sciences. There's not much the physical sciences can tell us about human consciousness, and I don't imagine discovering it's building blocks are an exception. If, hypothetically, spin is one of them, which is achill scientists aren't going to tell us how it is part of the equation.
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 26, 2022 4:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Fist and Faith wrote:
Should I be saying human consciousness is a characteristic of some groups of particles, rather than a property?
I prefer "emergent phenomenon." It's not "of matter" at all, no more than Thomas Covenant is a property of letters. No, this character "rides on top of" those letters. He doesn't exist inside them as a part of them. He's separate from those letters, even though letters are the building blocks used to constitute and communicate this fictional character.

Fist and Faith wrote:
Not sure what you mean about "from the outside" and "from the inside". Seems to me he's saying the same thing Nagel is:
At the ends if Chapter 1, Nagel wrote:
We ourselves are large-scale, complex instances of something both objectively physical from outside and subjectively mental from inside.
I was just using the terminology in your quote. Yes, Nagel uses it, too, but there is evidence for both of these views (inside/outside) when talking about humans. Perhaps dualism was the wrong word, since he's talking about two different "sides" or perspectives of the same thing, rather than two different substances. But the divide (or should I say the connection?) between them is no less inexplicable.


Fist and Faith wrote:
Zarathustra wrote:
I don't think analogies to computers or water get close to what's going on here.
I agree. But it's a starting point. At least it's one I can grasp. If one thing we see on a macro scale, liquidity, is a product of properties of particles that are not, themselves, liquidity, then maybe human consciousness is another example. If so, it's a matter of learning what those properties of particles that are not human consciousness are. At this point, it seems very odd to think that spin and mass are among them. I guess we're working with a handicap on discovering what those properties are. After all, we usually find properties using the physical sciences. There's not much the physical sciences can tell us about human consciousness, and I don't imagine discovering it's building blocks are an exception.


It's fine as an analogy, especially to convey the concept of emergence. Things can emerge at higher levels that aren't in the lower levels. But liquidity is still an objective property, quantifiable and measurable. You can literally feel it with your hands. It's also entirely explicable in terms of laws of physics. I think that it will take new laws of physics to explain how matter can become conscious, and perhaps even an entirely new paradigm shift, including a new philosophy of science on par with the shift from classical physics where our analogy to nature was a clock, to quantum physics where our analogy is a "playing dice with the universe." Perhaps that new analogy will be "all matter is conscious," even though we won't take that as the literal truth.

Here's the mindfuck for me: "from the inside" is misleading because it is precisely our consciousness that allows us to transcend not only our sensory data to the objective world, but also our own body. Mind traverses the farthest reaches of the universe, soon all the way to the birth of light itself (once James Webb is up and running). Mind is more "outside" than the body, which is limited to this mortal shell. The brain is more inside than the mind is. It's forever in the dark of Plato's Cave, while the mind/intellect/understanding traverses the stars.
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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: Fri Jan 28, 2022 3:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Zarathustra wrote:
Fist and Faith wrote:
Should I be saying human consciousness is a characteristic of some groups of particles, rather than a property?
I prefer "emergent phenomenon." It's not "of matter" at all, no more than Thomas Covenant is a property of letters. No, this character "rides on top of" those letters. He doesn't exist inside them as a part of them. He's separate from those letters, even though letters are the building blocks used to constitute and communicate this fictional character.
It seems you're discussing consciousness, itself, as a thing separate from matter, saying it is not made up of matter. And that's fine. Certainly, we should discuss consciousness in this way. But I'm thinking about how it comes about. The only kinds of consciousness we are aware of emerge from, or within, matter. Those hunks of matter are conscious. One of the properties of matter is - in the right circumstances, it can be conscious.


Zarathustra wrote:
Fist and Faith wrote:
Not sure what you mean about "from the outside" and "from the inside". Seems to me he's saying the same thing Nagel is:
At the ends if Chapter 1, Nagel wrote:
We ourselves are large-scale, complex instances of something both objectively physical from outside and subjectively mental from inside.
I was just using the terminology in your quote. Yes, Nagel uses it, too, but there is evidence for both of these views (inside/outside) when talking about humans. Perhaps dualism was the wrong word, since he's talking about two different "sides" or perspectives of the same thing, rather than two different substances. But the divide (or should I say the connection?) between them is no less inexplicable.
Indeed!

Zarathustra wrote:
Fist and Faith wrote:
Zarathustra wrote:
I don't think analogies to computers or water get close to what's going on here.
I agree. But it's a starting point. At least it's one I can grasp. If one thing we see on a macro scale, liquidity, is a product of properties of particles that are not, themselves, liquidity, then maybe human consciousness is another example. If so, it's a matter of learning what those properties of particles that are not human consciousness are. At this point, it seems very odd to think that spin and mass are among them. I guess we're working with a handicap on discovering what those properties are. After all, we usually find properties using the physical sciences. There's not much the physical sciences can tell us about human consciousness, and I don't imagine discovering it's building blocks are an exception.


It's fine as an analogy, especially to convey the concept of emergence. Things can emerge at higher levels that aren't in the lower levels. But liquidity is still an objective property, quantifiable and measurable. You can literally feel it with your hands. It's also entirely explicable in terms of laws of physics. I think that it will take new laws of physics to explain how matter can become conscious, and perhaps even an entirely new paradigm shift, including a new philosophy of science on par with the shift from classical physics where our analogy to nature was a clock, to quantum physics where our analogy is a "playing dice with the universe." Perhaps that new analogy will be "all matter is conscious," even though we won't take that as the literal truth.
If the answer is that Goff is right, that charge and mass are incredibly simple forms of consciousness? Yeah, we would definitely need new laws of physics to explain how those properties that we study with the physical sciences can be simple forms, building blocks, of consciousness.

But it could be that the incredibly simple forms of consciousness are not anything we've discovered, or could discover, with the physical sciences. We can't study the mind with the physical sciences, and the physical sciences have not given us a clue about the hard problem. No reason to think it can discover the building blocks of consciousness. It could be they are something we have to find another way to discover, and study. I can't imagine what that way could be. Other than, of course, imagination. But that can only take us so far, as far a definite knowledge goes. Einstein's thought experiments were all well and good, but we wouldn't say he was correct if not for all the verification from the physical sciences. It would just be a theory that was self-consistent. Like String Theory. But there's not a shred of evidence for String Theory. If we can't use the physical sciences to confirm any theory of the mind, and can only use them to see if we can contradict any given theory, then we'll never know if any theory is correct.

Zarathustra wrote:
Here's the mindfuck for me: "from the inside" is misleading because it is precisely our consciousness that allows us to transcend not only our sensory data to the objective world, but also our own body. Mind traverses the farthest reaches of the universe, soon all the way to the birth of light itself (once James Webb is up and running). Mind is more "outside" than the body, which is limited to this mortal shell. The brain is more inside than the mind is. It's forever in the dark of Plato's Cave, while the mind/intellect/understanding traverses the stars.
It's not misleading. By "from the inside", he means "What is it like to be mass, or charge?", and "What is human consciousness like to itself?". As opposed to how we measure them with our instruments. Your talking about the mind's ability to go beyond the physical limits of the brain is another topic.
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 29, 2022 7:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Presumably, I'm not the first person to think of this. But I don't know who else has, what the name of the theory is, if it's been dismissed, or what. I'm looking it up, but I haven't found it yet. In the meantime, here's what I'm thinking.

Ultimately, spacetime is responsible for our consciousness. Because spacetime curves in the presence of matter, matter accumulates. Matter accumulates, and consciousness like ours - consciousness of any type other than that found in individual particles - becomes possible. Without matter, it's just a vague thing. Consciousness without objects of consciousness. Matter gives the possibility of objects of consciousness. Not just physical things that can be objects of consciousness, but concepts. For example, without matter, math would not exist.

Maybe there is greater consciousness in two joined particles - or in two particles interacting in any way, even if they aren't joined - than in lone particles. There is greater experience, at least. After all, the first time two particles were anything but entirely separate, it was a new experience for spacetime. And the experiences pile up, and new experiences come along as the conditions arise. Three joined particles is a new experience the first time it happens. And the more that are joined, the more possibilities of how they are joined, so new experiences come along all the time.

So maybe spacetime is conscious. Or even consciousness. All the matter in the universe exists in a pool of consciousness. And, somehow, matter acts as a lens, focusing consciousness. Different configurations focus it in different ways.

And maybe, at some point, due to whatever conditions, consciousness is able to act, rather than merely experience.

The problem is, I think this sounds like dualism. Sure, spacetime effects matter all the time, because matter has to follow spacetime's curvatures. But, if this isn't already more like a fantasy book than a scientific theory, I don't imagine my Consciousness directs my body by warping space time intentionally in order to release an ion in order to start an action potential... LOL

Of course, matter causes the curvatures in the first place. It's all in extricable Bound together. So maybe matter and spacetime are both the same consciousness. It's just so difficult to think of particles as having any mental properties. Spacetime, otoh, is sufficiently weird, so easier to think "Hey, could be!"
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 05, 2022 10:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I posted this to a FB group called Consciousness Studies. I was warned by an admin about being flamed. So far it's all good responses.
Quote:
This is my attempt to explain why I don't believe brain states are mental states, or that the mind/consciousness is materially reducible, or however one wants to word it. I've been trying to gather my thoughts into the most concise, coherent mess I can. I certainly understand anyone not wanting to read all this. But, if it helps, this is entirely accessible to anyone, because I don't have any kind of education in this whatsoever. I've read a few basic “Introduction to Consciousness” books, and had an extended conversation on a website about Nagel's Mind and Cosmos with a guy who is very educated and eloquent. Anyway, if anyone manages to read this, I'd appreciate feedback. (Not being at all educated in any of this, I would quickly get lost by any feedback I might get. The old double-edged sword.)
I'm attempting to show why I don't believe materialism is all there is by describing what it means if materialism *is* all there is.

The brain is made of neurons; signals being sent along the neurons; synapses; neurotransmitters; sodium ions; blood vessels and blood; etc.

All of these things are, of course, composed of molecules, atoms, and, ultimately, primary particles. Ultimately, any physical process, including any biological process, can be reduced to particle physics. Particles have various properties, such as charge, mass, and spin. These properties, combined with forces, like gravity, the electromagnetic force, and the strong and weak nuclear forces, determine how the particles will interact. In How to Create a Mind, Kurzweil said:

Although chemistry is theoretically based on physics and could be derived entirely from physics, this would be unwieldy and infeasible in practice, so chemistry has established its own rules and models. Similarly, we should be able to deduce the laws of thermodynamics from physics, but once we have a sufficient number of particles to call them a gas rather than simply a bunch of particles, solving equations for the physics of each particle interaction becomes hopeless, whereas the laws of thermodynamics work quite well. Biology likewise has its own rules and models. A single pancreatic islet cell is enormously complicated, especially if we model it at the level of molecules; modeling what a pancreas actually does in terms of regulating levels of insulin and digestive enzymes is considerably less complex.

We don't think of, or study, brain functions in terms of primary particles. We would never be able to understand any percentage of such complexity at that level. However, the brain's structures exist, and function as they do, because of the properties of the particles they are built from, and the forces that act upon them. An impulse travels along a neuron; reaches the axon; causing the release of neurotransmitters; which crosses the synapse to the dendrite; etc.; etc. It's extraordinary machinery, but it's machinery. The arrangement of all the particles in the brain, at any given moment, leads to the arrangement the next moment, because of the properties of the particles they are built from, and the forces that act upon them. Just as the arrangement of the balls on a billiards table at any given moment leads to the arrangement the next moment.

The thing that tells me brain states are not mental states is meaning.

Let's consider mathematics. A simple equation:
10 - 7 = 3
There is meaning in those little squiggles. (Just as there is in all the squiggles you're looking at as you read my thoughts.) It's possible that a being running across enough examples of our math symbols would come to perceive that there is structure to it, and even come to decipher the meaning. In Sagan's First Contact (the book, I don’t remember it in the movie), clues to the structure and meaning were deliberately left to help someone do that very thing. (In the original Tarzan books by Edgar Rice Burroughs, Tarzan, after having been raised by the apes, ran across his parents' books, recognized that there was a system and meaning, and taught himself to read. Did anyone know just how smart Tarzan is in the original books? Hehe)

We have also created a system using binary that represents our mathematics (as well as our language), which is the basis of our computers' programming. We often discuss the meaning of mathematics, and the little squiggles that represent mathematics, and the relationship between the squiggles and the mathematics. There are books, academic courses, and even entire fields of study, about the meaning of these things.

The question is: Where does the meaning of mathematics originate? If there is nothing going on other than the laws of physics, then our thoughts are, in fact, progressions of brain states. The arrangement of every constituent part of our brains - whether we think of it at the level of primary particles; atoms; molecules; neurons, blood vessels, and other structures; or whatever - at any given moment, is acted upon by the laws of physics, and becomes a new arrangement the next moment. The difference between arrangements from one moment to the next may be very slight. But after many moments, and seconds, and minutes, the differences are significant.

Certainly, if there can be a system of binary that contains meaning, there can be a system of arrangements of the constituent parts of a brain that has meaning. If the number of possible arrangements of a brain's constituent parts is not infinite, it's high enough that it doesn't make a difference. Such a number of arrangements can represent anything at all.

However, if there is meaning in brain states, it has to have been put there by the laws of physics that arranged all the constituent parts, moment-by-moment. The meaning of mathematics must be encoded into the laws of physics. Moment-by-moment, the laws of physics change the arrangement of the brain's constituent parts, so that the overall progression means whatever mathematical idea it means.

All meaning on all topics must be encoded into the laws of physics. All meanings on all topics that we have ever considered, or will ever consider, must be encoded into the laws of physics, so that the laws of physics can arrange the constituent parts of the brain in order to produce the specific meanings of the specific brain states.

Calculators are not naturally occurring. A calculator does not perceive the meaning of the math it does. We encoded meaning into the mechanical workings of the device. But only we perceive that meaning. The calculator is a tool that simply follows rules of cause and effect.

Player pianos are not naturally occurring. The arrangements of holes in the paper mean the music that those holes cause to be played by the mechanism. We wanted to find a way for a piano to play itself, so we created a mechanical system with a code - meaning - to make it do what we wanted. To make specific music. But the holes only mean that *to us*. Because we intentionally built that meaning into the system.

But… Our music is a product of our minds. So is the player piano. So are math and calculators. If our minds are, in fact, nothing but brain states, which are arranged, step-by-step, by the laws of physics, then our music and player pianos, and math and calculators, are all products of the laws of physics.

I've tried to present the case for materialism in as straight-forward a manner as I can. *If materialism is all there is, then meaning is the product of the laws that arrange the material.* And there is meaning. Maybe not to the arrangements of particles we call a mountain range (an arrangement that is surely the result of the laws of physics), but to the progression of arrangements of the particles that make up our brains that are thoughts, discussions, and poetry, about mountains.

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 13, 2022 10:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Reductio ad absurdum. Works for me. I like it. I will have to check out that Facebook group. (you have a PM.)
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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: Thu Jul 14, 2022 2:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Heh. Someone there said reductio ad absurdum.

PM has been broken for me for a couple months. I can send them if I click on the button below your post. But I can't go into mine. Yours is currently the fifth waiting for me. Laughing
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 11, 2022 10:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Fist and Faith wrote:
Heh. Someone there said reductio ad absurdum.
Didn't realize that was you until just now. Laughing
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