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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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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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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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PostPosted: Sat Nov 19, 2022 8:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I am working on something right now that is blowing my mind. Godel's Incompleteness theorem is usually discussed as a negative result proving that the foundations of math are incomplete and insufficient to ground all of math upon them. People misuse this result to say things like, "Truth cannot be known," ignoring that he was *only* talking about formal systems, not the world itself. The logic of his proof doesn't transfer to actuality. Only formal systems.

While I agree that logical necessity doesn't necessitate existence (as Kant said), it's undeniable that there is some kind of connection between reality and logic and math. We don't know exactly why math works so damn well, or why the universe tends to follow basic logic (e.g. noncontradiction, etc.). At the very least, math and logic are analogous to reality.

So, taking Godel's Incompleteness theorem, are there any interesting analogies we could make? I don't think "truth can't be known" is all that interesting. I take for granted that *I* won't know everything, and I tend to agree with David Deutsche that knowledge creation will go on forever.

However, I believe a deeper truth resides not in looking at Godel's theorem as a negative conclusion. What he actually revealed was this: there exist true propositions within math that can't be proven within math. This is only negative to people who wanted math to justify itself as a complete system. What about those true-but-unprovable propositions?? Those mostly get ignored in discussing Godel. But what their (undeniable) presence actually means is that it's logically possible for things to exist within a system--without contradicting that system--and yet do not arise axiomatically from the 'bottom' or foundation of that system. To say they are 'unprovable' means that they don't arise from the axioms and basic syntactical rules of math. But the fact that they are 'true' means they are noncontradictory, i.e. they don't violate the rules of that system.

Does any of this sound familiar? In this thread, I've introduced the notion of 'side-ways causation' (as opposed to bottom-up causation, i.e. reductive materialism) to explain what I mean by mental states causing other mental states, as opposed to each mental state being caused solely by brain states. I've emphasized that while this causation happens in addition to and within the context of the laws of physics, it isn't caused by the laws of physics. The laws of physics don't determine which word I'll type next, my own consciousness of the meaning I'm attempting to convey does.

A stumbling block to accepting 'side-ways causation' is the assumption that everything that happens in the universe must happen due to the laws of physics, otherwise we're talking about magic. It doesn't seem logically possible for something NATURAL to happen within the physical universe that is also not cause by the physical substrate + physical laws themselves.

But! This is where Godel's proof comes in. He has shown that it is logically possible for things to exist within a system and yet not caused by the foundational principles of that system. What if physical reality is the same?

We know that ideal, immaterial objects exert causal power, because we have learned to shape the world with the power of our ideas (which aren't material). So it *does* happen. Not all of causation comes 'bottom-up' from the laws of physics. But that doesn't mean it *violates* the laws of physics, just because it is 'free' of them.

So, by way of analogy, we are like the unprovable true propositions of reality. We can't be 'proven' from the system (i.e. we can't be reduced entirely to physical laws), but this doesn't preclude our existence within the system. It was a logical mistake to think that everything that exists--either in math or reality--exists only in virtue of being directly reducible to foundational principles, whether those foundations are the axioms of math or the laws of physics.

Even if Godel's proof does not prove this conclusion, it does show that it's logically possible.
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 20, 2022 5:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Can both of these be true?
Zarathustra wrote:
The logic of his proof doesn't transfer to actuality. Only formal systems.
Zarathustra wrote:
Even if Godel's proof does not prove this conclusion, it does show that it's logically possible.
Not sure I'm understanding, but it seems to me you're trying to use Godel's proof to do something you said it doesn't do.

Still, the same thing may be happening in our reality. Just because we can't use Godel's logic to prove it, doesn't mean it's not.
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 20, 2022 6:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, both can be true. I said it's *logically* possible, meaning only that it's a logical possibility. That's not saying anything about the physical world. I don't know if you've heard that scientists have proven that time travel is 'logically possible;' this is the same kind of point. They haven't discovered any physical evidence for it, they've just done the math and shown that it doesn't necessarily lead to contradiction. This is similar.

There are many times when physicists solved equations for solutions that didn't seem to make sense or have any correlation to physical reality, only to later find that it did describe something real. The positron was discovered in this way.

In the end, there is a big difference between saying that a logical proof demonstrates something concrete about reality (i.e. what I'm not saying that), and saying that a logical proof demonstrates that something isn't logically impossible (i.e. what I am saying). Logic may not dictate reality, but if something is logically impossible, it's also physically impossible. Therefore, showing the former is sufficient to prove the latter. But no one has ever shown that it's logically impossible for physical things to exist which aren't directly caused by the laws of physics. It's just an assumption, a metaphysical belief in physical reductionism.
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 20, 2022 11:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Okay, understanding. Somewhat. Laughing. Part of my problem is my understanding - or, rather, the lack thereof - Godel. Not knowing enough about math in general, I don't understand how he made math self-referential. I don't know how his assigning non-mathematical meaning to numbers works. Can I do the same, so that 1+2=3 means "I like chocolate ice cream"? I suspect I cannot. I imagine what Godel did is a bit more complicated than that. I just haven't read a decent explanation yet. At least not one that I'm able to understand.

So, with the given being that consciousness is not materially reducible, I'm thinking there are two scenarios. In the first, the particles and their properties, the forces, and the laws of physics, are, indeed, the only things the universe is built from. In this scenario, consciousness is not reducible to that which makes up the universe. However consciousness can be explained, it is not by the axioms of this universe. Godel applies.

In the second scenario, the universe is built from things other than the particles in their properties, forces, and laws of physics. We don't know anything about these other building blocks, but they gave rise to consciousness. In this scenario, Godel does not apply, it's just that we don't know the axioms of consciousness.
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 23, 2022 6:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Here's my thinking on intentional movement...

If consciousness is not a causal agent, then evolution would not have selected for it. Why would evolution have refined an awareness of things, and the desire to act, without the ability to do so? It wouldn't. It makes no sense at all.

But how does consciousness move the physical? Let's face it, when we move a muscle, we don't know how we do it. We don't think, "I have to flex muscle A exactly this much. And B this much. And C this much. That will cause my arm to move exactly this direction and speed " Nor do we think, "I need impulses in nerves A, B, and C."

So what the heck is going on?

I've heard that infants make every kind of vocal sound. They just babble on and on with with gibberish noises. Uncontrollably, at first. But they're also listening. They hear noises coming at them all the time as we talk to them. And they repeat noises they hear frequently. They imitate. But they stop making the noises they don't hear. No point, right? People brought up with French say things like, "Zat is good." " Zey are bos good." They cannot make the "th" sounds. Obviously, it's not because they're physiology is different from people who can make those sounds. It's because those sounds are not part of the French language. So as they babbled and babbled as infants, making those sounds from time to time, they never heard those sounds, so they soon stopped making them.

Babies also jerk all parts of their body. Uncontrollably at first. As they gain control, they learn which movements get them what they want. Initially, nothing more than reaching towards something and making contact. Bit by bit, refined contact. Grasping instead of just touching.

But how does it all work? How do they accomplish repeating the vocalizations they hear, and moving parts of their body the way they want to? I believe it's all about feeling. To paraphrase, What does it feel like to move my arm?

I suspect our initial, uncontrollable muscle movements are neurons firing on their own. That's what happens when we're first born, and even as we're moving before we're born. There's no intent of any sort, the brain is just randomly firing. Bit by bit, we notice what the different movements caused by that random firing feel like. It feels different to move your arm in one direction than in the other. Our tongue, lips, jaw, and vocal cords feel different when we make one sound then when we make another.

The feeling is the key. I believe we are reproducing a specific feeling in order to reproduce a specific movement. Bizarrely, I'm talking about the very root of how our movements are accomplished. From the wiki page on "action potential":
Quote:
Action potentials are generated by special types of voltage-gated ion channels embedded in a cell's plasma membrane. These channels are shut when the membrane potential is near the (negative) resting potential of the cell, but they rapidly begin to open if the membrane potential increases to a precisely defined threshold voltage, depolarising the transmembrane potential. When the channels open, they allow an inward flow of sodium ions, which changes the electrochemical gradient, which in turn produces a further rise in the membrane potential towards zero. This then causes more channels to open, producing a greater electric current across the cell membrane and so on. The process proceeds explosively until all of the available ion channels are open, resulting in a large upswing in the membrane potential. The rapid influx of sodium ions causes the polarity of the plasma membrane to reverse, and the ion channels then rapidly inactivate. As the sodium channels close, sodium ions can no longer enter the neuron, and they are then actively transported back out of the plasma membrane. Potassium channels are then activated, and there is an outward current of potassium ions, returning the electrochemical gradient to the resting state. After an action potential has occurred, there is a transient negative shift, called the afterhyperpolarization.

(That's all insane. Laughing) I think when I reproduce the feeling I have when I move a muscle, I am reproducing the first steps in the chain of events that moves the muscle. I don't know enough about it, and don't get enough from that wiki quote, to know what the first steps are. And it doesn't matter that I don't know them. It's the feeling that counts. When I reproduce the feeling of moving my arm, I reproduce the release of the sodium ions (or whatever) that starts the process.

Our consciousness can't telekinetically move objects. Not even our own muscles. But our mere observation of quantum events affects them. How much more might we be able to do with quantum events that are literally a part of us? Perhaps we can cause an ion to be released. Perhaps we do so by reproducing the feeling of an ion being released. Or, rather, reproducing the feeling of many ions being released when muscles are moved. Our consciousness is a part of our physical body. It doesn't exist without our physical body. Consciousness having agency over that which it is part of is not the same thing as telekinesis.

That's the best I can do at the moment.
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 23, 2022 7:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Fist and Faith wrote:
If consciousness is not a causal agent, then evolution would not have selected for it. Why would evolution have refined an awareness of things, and the desire to act, without the ability to do so? It wouldn't. It makes no sense at all.
I agree. I think Nagel would, too. It would be a superfluous, energy-consuming illusion, otherwise. Conscious beings make choices in the context of goals, and it is *this* that natural selection selects, the behavior. While evolution could have 'selected' organisms that did this unconsciously (and it probably did, at the beginning of life), conscious choice directed at a goal is such a vastly superior and efficient way to do it, that conscious organisms have multiplied and thrived. So while evolution was selecting for the behavior, by default it was also selecting for the the consciousness that causes--and improves the efficiency of--the behavior.

Fist and Faith wrote:
But how does consciousness move the physical?
I'm sure we'll figure that out at some point. Movement happens both unconsciously and consciously, yet the two aren't clearly divided. So there should be both enough difference in our brain mechanisms as well as enough similarity to map it all out.

Fist and Faith wrote:
But how does it all work? How do they accomplish repeating the vocalizations they hear, and moving parts of their body the way they want to? I believe it's all about feeling. To paraphrase, What does it feel like to move my arm?
I think that's a great example. This is another reason why we can't just discount qualia as epiphenomenal. Their causal power is evident in how they are the interface for control over our body, and by extension the world. The infant is learning how to move its limbs in the experience of moving its limbs, and in that experience it is finding meaningful and goal-oriented perspectives which define the parameters of any possible movement.

Most forms of human action are ONLY understood as the product of intuited meaning by a conscious being. While trial and error is involved--even cases like refining the engineering to building skyscrapers--error correction is achieved neither randomly nor through natural selection, but by recognizing the errors and the solutions as rational concerns in the context of a rational world. This example is the same as the baby, except at the current endpoint of evolution: us. The baby mirrors the entire process of evolution from simple organisms to humans in 9-12 months, so that we stand on the shoulders of all life before us, then start to build beyond that as we come into our own with intelligence, language, culture. But it's all the same process of consciousness shaping life.


Fist and Faith wrote:
The feeling is the key. I believe we are reproducing a specific feeling in order to reproduce a specific movement. Bizarrely, I'm talking about the very root of how our movements are accomplished.

What's interesting is how movement can be either intentional or habitual, and the process of changing back and forth from one to the other. I sometimes watch my hands in awe as they play bass, realizing that I'm not entirely conscious of all the little moves I do (like muting unused strings), it's simply habit. But then I'm similarly amazed at how paying attention makes it even better, corrects mistakes, and learns new things. Whether in music or in science, control of reality is deepened by the conscious attention of intelligent beings. This cannot be an illusion. Consciousness has causal power.
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 26, 2022 2:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Zarathustra wrote:
The laws of physics don't determine which word I'll type next, my own consciousness of the meaning I'm attempting to convey does.
I'm reading I Am a Strange Loop, and was reminded of what you just said. He's talking about seeing a book about Gödel's proof, skimming through it, and being hooked:
Hofstadter wrote:
I still didn’t have a clue what Gödel’s theorem was, but I knew I had to read this book. The molecules constituting the book had managed to get the molecules in my head to get the molecules in my hands to get the molecules in my wallet to… Well, you get the idea.

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