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March 14, 2015

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To amplify a comment on a previous thread,I agree that consciousness is a fundamental aspect of matter, but something that acts more like a wave than a particle.

It's obvious that more matter, or denser matter, does not produce consciousness. So consciousness is not an additive property. I think it acts more like something that has a phase--like a water or electrical wave. Waves that are 180 degrees out of phase add up to zero, whereas waves that are in phase add up.

Thus, matter that is organized in a particular way to create coherent "waves of consciousness" in order for the proto-consciousness of matter to add up to become actual consciousness. The fact that the brain does generate synchronized electrical waves suggests that this is the right track. Also, anesthesia research suggests that when the carrier wave overwhelms modulation, then the mind is unable to think and consciousness is lost.

The Hard Problem is the problem of offering a reductive explanation of qualia in physical terms. There are therefore two principal ways of denying that there is a Hard Problem. One is to deny that there is anything to explain, to deny qualia as Dennett does. The other is to abandon physicalism, so that there is no longer a requirement to explain qualia in terms of the behaviour of atoms and molecules. Neither is actually solving the HP.

Trying to address the HP by adopting an informational approach, as Tononi does, does not explain qualia, because information us a subset of, or abstraction from, physics.
But simplifying the ontology of a theory, making do with fewer ontological resources does not help with the Hard Problem. If it is not clear why a bunch of atoms bumping together should generate Red or Pain, then it is not clear why 01100101 should either.

Adopting panpsychism, if that is what Koch is doing, doesn't solve the HP either, because the HP only arises within physicalism, and panpsychism isnt physicalism.

Likewise, the "just so" argument that there is no explanation for consciousness in terms of anything else, implies that consciousness is an ontological fundamental in its in right, which may be dualism, idealism or panpsychism, but isnt physicalism.

" Note that Koch is thoroughly materialistic"

Yes, but not in the way that counts. He's actually on the same page as Chalmers, in thinking that extra properties are required, and not with Dennett. He may not require extra substances, but requiring extra properties us enough to make you a dualist in the sense that matters,

The Hard Problem is quite hard, and I don't think much progress will be made by speculating about it--though it can be fun. Progress will occur by determining under what physical circumstances consciousness does arise and perhaps even figuring out how to reproduce those physical conditions outside a brain. At that point, it will be a little easier to figure out what we're really dealing with.

How do you verify that something that isnt a brain has qualia?

Regarding the so-called Hard Problem, Koch points out in his book that quite a few other problems were considered virtually insolvable by science until... they were.

Like, life. It used to be thought that there had to be some non-material spirit, vitalism, élan vital (there are other words for it I can't remember) or whatever to explain life.

Now, it seems that science will be able to explain life without resorting to anything other than natural causes.

Liikewise, I tend to see the seeming uncrackable toughness of the Hard Problem as more of a failure of human imagination, than a genuine cosmic mystery.

We don't go around asking, "How is it possible that we have a sense of three dimensional space, or of time?" We just accept that our universe is fundamentally comprised of space and time. These things just are. If they weren't, we wouldn't be here in the form we are, capable of asking such questions.

Being able to ask an apparently really hard question doesn't mean the universe is inexplicable. It means that the human brain doesn't understand how the universe works in some fashion.

OK, we make up a word "qualia" for the bits and pieces of reality we're aware of. Then we wonder how it is possible that we're aware of qualia.

"This is amazing! How could the universe be how it is, rather than something else!?"

Well, that question only makes sense if there could actually be a Something Else, an alternative to the universe (the only one we know) being other than it is.

This is tough stuff to put into words, but it gets at what I was trying to say about the Hard Problem being an illusion. We humans may be trying to make consciousness into something that it is not: a mysterious extra "add on" to the universe rather than a "just is" aspect of it.

To repeat: we don't question how we could have a sense of time or space. Yet we question how we have a sense of conscious awareness. Koch's hypothesis that the entire universe is comprised of integrated information is just that, a hypothesis.

But it is appealing.

How do photons "know" they should travel at light speed? Well, they don't. They just do what they do, obeying a law of nature. Yet even saying that is inaccurate, arguably. A law of nature is a description of how nature is. That "is" comes first; the law later. It is a human attempt to describe an aspect of nature.

Why isn't it simply possible that conscious awareness arises in states of highly complex integrated information? It isn't something separate from such a state, which would be like asking "What time is time?" or "How large is space?"

At some point, Koch argues, we reach a fundamental ground to being as we know it. Perhaps consciousness is such a grounding, along with time, space, matter, energy. An alternative is that consciousness is an emergent property of matter and energy, but Koch offers up some pretty good reasons against the "emergent property" hypothesis.

Why isn't it simply possible that conscious awareness arises in states of highly complex integrated information?

This is a good question, Brian, and especially when posed to minds that have undergone the conversion process of mystical/religious experience, and are impervious to reason.

" Regarding the so-called Hard Problem, Koch points out in his book that quite a few other problems were considered virtually insolvable by science until... they were."

Why does Koch need to argue for the solubility of the HP? He isnt setting out to solve it in its own terms, explaining reductively  how atoms combine to produce Red or Pain: he has stated that consciousness is fundamental, and whatever is fundamental is not susceptible to reductive explanation, to explanation in terms of what is even more fundamental. That is sidestepping the problem, not solving it head on.

Ok, something has to be fundamental. But different classes of theory, the more scientific and the less scientific, are distinguished by what they take to be fundamental.
Religious, spiritual and mystical thinkers tend to side with idealism , dualism and panpsychism, theories which take mind or consciousness as fundamental.

Chalmers presents his dualism, his theory that consciousness is in a sense fundamental (and that informational processing is important), explicitly as a departure from a materialistic worldview, from the kind of rigorously physicalistic theories of Dennet and the Churchlands. Koch presents his theory as a scientific theory:and the bone of contention. Regarding consciousness as fundamental is not more of the same, it is crossing a line.

'"Then we wonder how it is possible that we're aware of qualia."This is amazing! How could the universe be how it is, rather than something else!?"Well, that question only makes sense if there could actually be a Something Else, an alternative to the universe (the only one we know) being other than it is."

Alternative possibilities are dispelled by explanation. What has been explained will appear to have occurred necessarily, and not to be in need of further explanation. However, you cannot claim that what is, necessarily is, when you have not explained it.

We ended up with science because we didn't accept "it what is what it is, no further  explanation necessary" in the vast majority of cases . Heat isnt heat, it molecular motion. Water isnt water, it's two atoms of hydrogen bonded to one of oxygen. These are reductive explanations.

Understanding something in terms of something else, not stopping with it is what it is, is the general rule is science, but it is not the universal rule. A few things remain stubbornly unreduced, and so are accepted as fundamental, but that does not mean that "it is what it is" is good, or even acceptable, explanation, it means explanation has limits. To treat something as fundamental is to treat it as mysterious in precisely the sense that it lacks reductive explanation.

You version of Koch presents a number of incompatible claims.

1. There isnt a HP. But the HP is the very thing Koch is trying to address by saying consciousness is fundamental.

2. The HP isnt impossible to solve. But to assume consciousness is fundamental is to assume it cannot be solved reductively.

3. The HP has a scientific solution. But to assume consciousness is fundamental is the classically non scientific approach.

" We humans may be trying to make consciousness into something that it is not: a mysterious extra "add on" to the universe rather than a "just is" aspect of it."

We humans have no choice but to see consciousness as an extra to the world view of physics, the physical map, because physics can't explain it. Seeing consciousness  as an additional non physical feature of the territory is only one possible reaction. One can see consciousness as a natural part of the territory, but then one departs from physicalism, because one no longer sees the physical map as complete. Chalmers does this explicitly, Koch implicitly.

" repeat: we don't question how we could have a sense of time or space. "

We do....see Kant, Einstein, etc. Things get reluctantly filed under the Just Is category after repeated failed attempts at explanation,

" .Why isn't it simply possible that conscious awareness arises in states of highly complex integrated information?"

Why isnt it possible that conscious awareness is the a property of an immaterial soul created by God? Well, it's possible, for some value of possible,... but you don't like it because it's clearly religious and unscientific. But Koch's alternative is unclearly unscientific.

Firstly, there is nothing mystical or supernatural about consciousness. But it is mysterious in the sense that there is much about it that we don't know (and some would say, can't know.)

The hard problem is specifically a problem for physicalism. (And let's be clear that it's not necessarily problematic to accept that consciousness is in some way dependent on physical processes - to get stuck here would be a straw man position.)

Science (and physicalism) can describe an entity exhaustively in physical terms without knowing anything of the nature of its consciousness/conscious experience. This indicates that a physical explanation of consciousness is incomplete.

And I don't see how this can be overcome - you will never be able to study an entity's brain and be able to tell (for instance) what memory it is having. How it feels to be conscious is not a physical thing. It can’t be observed except from within - by the conscious entity. And even then there is no adequate way to describe it.

This is basically what Chalmers is indicating - that there is something missing from the physicalist account - something extra. The nature of the ontology of this 'something extra' is the hard problem.

" Firstly, there is nothing mystical or supernatural about consciousness"

Is that a fact?

" This is basically what Chalmers is indicating - that there is something missing from the physicalist account"

...which Dennett would consider mystical.

Please define your terms.

"Life" manifests when matter becomes complexly integrated in a certain fashion. Nothing non-physical is needed to explain life, right?

"Consciousness" manifests when matter becomes complexly integrated in a certain fashion. Nothing non-physical is needed to explain consciousness, right?

The fact that we don't currently understand the details of "in a certain fashion" doesn't take away from the near certainty that a physical account is possible.

Interfere strongly with the complex bodily integration that produces life, and life is no more. Likewise with consciousness. Anesthesia and being knocked out prove this. So I don't understand why some believe that "there is something missing from the physicalist account."

Yes, details are missing. But the details will be physical, albeit probably in the realm of information theory, complexity theory, and such. The whole is more than the sum of the physical parts when it comes to life and consciousness, but this doesn't make the whole non-physical.

Issac Asimov has a similar take on this, though he used the sandcastle as his analogy:
https://youtu.be/YFOpyKe8NKA?list=UUpUrjkUKxuE-IJrEpD5dElg


All matter is alive

There are degrees of it
The Sun is a Jeeva as is a Galaxy as is this universe

7


" "Consciousness" manifests when matter becomes complexly integrated in a certain fashion. Nothing non-physical is needed to explain consciousness, right"

We don't have the explanation of consciousness, so we don't know.

" ..... near certainty ...."

That isnt a fact. Different people evaluate the situation differently.

" Interfere strongly with the complex bodily integration that produces life, and life is no more. Likewise with consciousness. "

Yes, there is empirical evidence of a causal or correlative relationship between consciousness and the brain.

'So I don't understand why some believe that "there is something missing from the physicalist account." '

Even Koch?

People generally think that because they understand that there is a difference between observed correlations on the one hand, and explanation on the other. Correlation famously falls short of causation.... a fortiori it falls short of explanation.

The observed correlations are data that constrain any explanation that seeks to be broadly naturalistic, but broadly naturalistic theories range wider than strictly physicalistic theories, in the sense of theories requiring nothing to be added to physics. Chalmers' naturalistic dualism is an example of a theory that is naturalistic but not physicalistic. As is Christian Koch's, which you were enthusiasm about a few days ago.

Enjoyed this discussion.

I know too little about this subject to presume to engage in discussion here, but I'd like to ask some questions (which I realize will probably look noobish, given the level of knowledge of some of the other commenters here).

What I wanted to know is, in short : We don't have definite answers to these questions on consciousness, but do we have these answers as regards (a) life and (b) intelligence? And what are those answers?

To break that up :

(1) What is life, exactly? And is there scientific consensus on that definition?

(2) How exactly did life arise? And is there scientific consensus on this?

(3) This evolution business, was it hard-wired into life right from when it "originated", or did the drive to evolve arise later on?

(4) What is intelligence, exactly? And how did that first arise?

And also, (5) What other life-forms are known (per current scientific consensus) to possess intelligence?


Be great if you could jot down an answer (and/or post links you're aware of, perhaps, where these things are discussed authoratitatively and simply/concisely).

Supernatural: Magic

Naturalistic: Devoid of magical/supernatural explanations

Preternatural: That which appears beside the natural. In contrast to the supernatural, preternatural phenomena are presumed to have naturalistic explanations that are (as yet) unknown.

My own view is that consciousness falls closest to the third category. Though I'm drawn to the suggestion that a full understanding of consciousness may be beyond the cognitive reach of the human species.

The answer again is SOLOPISM
but seen from the outside :

Each person is the singularity produced , , , so that it might
add to Love

Once I thought that a 'vaporize' option was there if no love was produced _ that that particular jeeva was considered as lost

Now I know - because I have seen that in a flabbergasting brilliant way ( via rssb method ) - the core of each jeeva is indestructible

It is destined to produce Love and it will
It can happen in a nanosecond or after a billion of BigBang Universes but it will
Yes Poll Pot will end up in Heaven

You asked about the fundamental force behind all that
ALL energies come from love and come back with an extra payload of it

That is why 'Heaven' is not a place or a time
it is a state of consciousness and it ever grows
Each Jeeva can and will join

There is no sufficient brainpower available to understand

But there is some love always, and 7 chakra systems are good at it


777


*

"My own view is that consciousness falls closest to the third category." [ ie the preternatural]

[The preternatural is] " That which appears beside the natural. In contrast to the supernatural, preternatural phenomena are presumed to have naturalistic explanations that are (as yet) unknown."

Ok. Consciousness does not have an explanation now, but will have one in the future...

" I'm drawn to the suggestion that a full understanding of consciousness may be beyond the cognitive reach of the human species."

.....or there won't have one in the future. How do you tell either way?

And what has this have to do with the supernatural? Defining the supernatural as the magical, and the magical as the mystical and the mystical as the supernatural doesn't seem to leave you with any way of categorusing an explanation as supernatural or natural.

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