Notices
Results 1 to 100 of 100
Like Tree9Likes
  • 1 Post By Bunbury
  • 1 Post By Lynx_Fox
  • 2 Post By Bunbury
  • 1 Post By Bunbury
  • 1 Post By Xelloss
  • 1 Post By Lynx_Fox
  • 1 Post By HTW
  • 1 Post By Strange

Thread: Can Scientific Materialism Sufficiently Explain Human Consciousness?

  1. #1 Can Scientific Materialism Sufficiently Explain Human Consciousness? 
    Forum Masters Degree
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    UNITED KINGDOM
    Posts
    627
    This is actually quite a subtle problem and it's possible not everyone will fully appreciate the nature of the issue being raised. However the following is the very best I can do to explain the philosophical problem of 'Can Scientific Materialism Sufficiently Explain Human Consciousness?'

    We are all aware that science views the human brain has being comprised of firing neurons combined with biochemical signals. But can this picture sufficiently explain the origin of human consciousness as we all experience it?

    For example if the brain is just firing neurons which come in waves, why are we simply not just biological robots? And how can a complex pattern of firing neurons produce human consciousness as we all experience it? Will it one day, for example, be possible to build computers with their own individual consciousnesses?

    Is the aesthetic experience of 'being conscious' explicable by materialistic determinism anyway as it seems to come from another dimension beyond the material?

    And what is 'the first cause' of human consciousness? Is it a specific pattern in an neuronic network; the neurons themselves? The problem seems to defy explanation.


    Reply With Quote  
     

  2.  
     

  3. #2  
    Forum Isotope Bunbury's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Colorado
    Posts
    2,590
    What evidence exists that there is anything more than the material? Consciousness might well be just a marvelous adaptation to solving the problem of how to deal with all the information entering our brains in a manner that is good for our survival. The processing that we need to do is far more complex than the simple sort of “fight or flight” issues that the limbic system takes care of automatically in “lower” animals. Our brains are adapted to reconsider, review, revise and modify or cancel actions proposed by the basic instincts coming up from the more primitive parts of the brain. Perhaps this review process requires consciousness to sort through the options, and perhaps consciousness is nothing more than neurons firing.


    Reply With Quote  
     

  4. #3  
    Suspended
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Posts
    1,849
    Consciousness is no more explained at the level of neuron firings than words are explained at the level of pixel arrangements on a screen, or ink speckles on a sheet of paper.

    Substrate does not "explain" pattern, beyond a certain point.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  5. #4  
    Moderator Moderator
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Washington State
    Posts
    8,309
    'Can Scientific Materialism Sufficiently Explain Human Consciousness?'
    We don't know all the details yet, but there's no reasonable evidence of anything other than biological processes at work nor any other reasonable explanations. Considering the strong resemblance between chaotic system attractor patterns and thought, there's also really little reason to look for anything other than biology.
    Meteorologist/Naturalist & Retired Soldier
    “The Holy Land is everywhere” Black Elk
    Reply With Quote  
     

  6. #5  
    Suspended
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Posts
    1,849
    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx
    We don't know all the details yet, but there's no reasonable evidence of anything other than biological processes at work nor any other reasonable explanations.
    As long as we are willing to expand our conception of "biological processes" to include these higher level patterns, sure.

    Most people favoring a "scientific materialist" explanation are in the grip of what Daniel Dennett called "greedy reductionism", though.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  7. #6  
    Administrator KALSTER's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    South Africa
    Posts
    8,232
    Quote Originally Posted by iceaura View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx
    We don't know all the details yet, but there's no reasonable evidence of anything other than biological processes at work nor any other reasonable explanations.
    As long as we are willing to expand our conception of "biological processes" to include these higher level patterns, sure.

    Most people favoring a "scientific materialist" explanation are in the grip of what Daniel Dennett called "greedy reductionism", though.
    I would think that "higher level patterns" would be included as a matter of course? But I also contend that this "higher pattern" necessarily has to be as a result of the substrate and how the substrate has changed since it first started to form.

    Another point is that consciousness, to my mind at least, clearly formed over gradual increments in our evolutionary history as evidenced by the levels of conciousness found in other animals.

    But, pattern is very important, I agree, and perhaps has an analogue in the operating system of a computer.
    Disclaimer: I do not declare myself to be an expert on ANY subject. If I state something as fact that is obviously wrong, please don't hesitate to correct me. I welcome such corrections in an attempt to be as truthful and accurate as possible.

    "Gullibility kills" - Carl Sagan
    "All people know the same truth. Our lives consist of how we chose to distort it." - Harry Block
    "It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it." - Aristotle
    Reply With Quote  
     

  8. #7  
    Moderator Moderator
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Washington State
    Posts
    8,309
    Quote Originally Posted by KALSTER View Post
    But, pattern is very important, I agree, and perhaps has an analogue in the operating system of a computer.
    Or the type with a million parallel processors we haven't built yet.
    Meteorologist/Naturalist & Retired Soldier
    “The Holy Land is everywhere” Black Elk
    Reply With Quote  
     

  9. #8  
    Forum Masters Degree
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    UNITED KINGDOM
    Posts
    627
    Quote Originally Posted by Bunbury View Post
    What evidence exists that there is anything more than the material? Consciousness might well be just a marvelous adaptation to solving the problem of how to deal with all the information entering our brains in a manner that is good for our survival. The processing that we need to do is far more complex than the simple sort of “fight or flight” issues that the limbic system takes care of automatically in “lower” animals. Our brains are adapted to reconsider, review, revise and modify or cancel actions proposed by the basic instincts coming up from the more primitive parts of the brain. Perhaps this review process requires consciousness to sort through the options, and perhaps consciousness is nothing more than neurons firing.
    You completely missed the philosophical point I was trying to make.

    A computer can do just what you describe and yet it has no consciousness.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  10. #9  
    Forum Masters Degree
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    UNITED KINGDOM
    Posts
    627
    Quote Originally Posted by iceaura View Post
    Consciousness is no more explained at the level of neuron firings than words are explained at the level of pixel arrangements on a screen, or ink speckles on a sheet of paper.

    Substrate does not "explain" pattern, beyond a certain point.
    A slightly cryptic reply.

    What you seem to be suggesting is that you need consciousness in order to know that you are conscious.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  11. #10  
    Forum Cosmic Wizard spuriousmonkey's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Posts
    2,193
    yes, it can.
    "Kill them all and let God sort them out."

    - Arnaud Amalric

    http://spuriousforums.com/index.php
    Reply With Quote  
     

  12. #11  
    Forum Masters Degree
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    UNITED KINGDOM
    Posts
    627
    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx_Fox View Post
    'Can Scientific Materialism Sufficiently Explain Human Consciousness?'
    We don't know all the details yet, but there's no reasonable evidence of anything other than biological processes at work nor any other reasonable explanations. Considering the strong resemblance between chaotic system attractor patterns and thought, there's also really little reason to look for anything other than biology.
    Yes, but why are we not simply unconscious, biological computers?

    Any 'overseer' programme in the brain does not require human consciousness as we all know and experience it.

    To look at the problem in a slightly different manner, it is very difficult to describe what human consciousness is like in words, you either know what it is from direct experience or you don't. Similarly it is impossible to describe what the colour blue looks like to someone who is colour blind. You either know what the colour blue looks like or you don't.

    So how can science sufficiently explain something which isn't fully definable anyway?
    Reply With Quote  
     

  13. #12  
    Forum Masters Degree
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    UNITED KINGDOM
    Posts
    627
    Quote Originally Posted by KALSTER View Post
    Another point is that consciousness, to my mind at least, clearly formed over gradual increments in our evolutionary history as evidenced by the levels of conciousness found in other animals.

    But, pattern is very important, I agree, and perhaps has an analogue in the operating system of a computer.
    But how do you actually know how conscious other animals are anyway?

    Don't forget the important point though that computers don't have any consciousness (or at least we don't think they do!).
    Reply With Quote  
     

  14. #13  
    Suspended
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    grail search
    Posts
    811
    Quote Originally Posted by galexander View Post
    This is actually quite a subtle problem and it's possible not everyone will fully appreciate the nature of the issue being raised. However the following is the very best I can do to explain the philosophical problem of 'Can Scientific Materialism Sufficiently Explain Human Consciousness?'

    We are all aware that science views the human brain has being comprised of firing neurons combined with biochemical signals. But can this picture sufficiently explain the origin of human consciousness as we all experience it?

    For example if the brain is just firing neurons which come in waves, why are we simply not just biological robots? And how can a complex pattern of firing neurons produce human consciousness as we all experience it? Will it one day, for example, be possible to build computers with their own individual consciousnesses?

    Is the aesthetic experience of 'being conscious' explicable by materialistic determinism anyway as it seems to come from another dimension beyond the material?

    And what is 'the first cause' of human consciousness? Is it a specific pattern in an neuronic network; the neurons themselves? The problem seems to defy explanation.


    Satre did this best.

    Satre.



    (Being and Nothingness.................I mean, read it, then tell me)

    (ps: it seems he gave his life to the very topic, at a glance....)
    Last edited by theQuestIsNotOver; September 25th, 2011 at 09:41 AM.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  15. #14  
    Moderator Moderator
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Washington State
    Posts
    8,309
    Quote Originally Posted by galexander View Post
    Yes, but why are we not simply unconscious, biological computers?
    We have nothing to compare it too as of yet, nor do we know if its even possible to build computers anything close to human capabilities without consciousness in some form. Just looking at thing like raw computing power computers still have a long ways to go: (see below)



    Any 'overseer' programme in the brain does not require human consciousness as we all know and experience it.
    We don't know that either. I think it's more likely what we call consciousness is nothing more than a biological version of your "overseer," program.

    [img]http://www.transhumanist.com/volume1/power_075.jpg
    Attached Images
    Meteorologist/Naturalist & Retired Soldier
    “The Holy Land is everywhere” Black Elk
    Reply With Quote  
     

  16. #15  
    Forum Isotope Bunbury's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Colorado
    Posts
    2,590
    Quote Originally Posted by iceaura View Post
    Consciousness is no more explained at the level of neuron firings than words are explained at the level of pixel arrangements on a screen, or ink speckles on a sheet of paper.

    Substrate does not "explain" pattern, beyond a certain point.
    Nor did I claim that consciousness has been explained by anyone, ever. There is however a respected hypothesis called the functional identity hypothesis, or sometimes the mind/brain identity theory (see link) that proposes exactly what I suggested. It is certainly more parsimonious than the theory offered by David Chalmers' that adds something based purely on intuitive beliefs, and seems to give a nod to Descartes.

    The Mind/Brain Identity Theory (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)
    Reply With Quote  
     

  17. #16  
    Suspended
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Posts
    1,849
    Any 'overseer' programme in the brain does not require human consciousness as we all know and experience it.
    The use of "overseer programme" in this context would of course have to be metaphorical - the overreduction of the situation to one of fixed control circuitry or some kind of preloaded operating system software misleads immediately.
    I think it's more likely what we call consciousness is nothing more than a biological version of your "overseer," program.
    That kind of language - "nothing more than" - is usually a sign of overreduction. Clearly consciousness is significantly "more than" (better: "other than") what we normally refer to as an overseer programme in computer science.

    The almost universally triggered trap of overreduction is the reason anything referred to as "scientific materialism" is probably the wrong basic approach. People always seem to underestimate the depth of what happens when the "material" starts behaving in self-organizing and self-referential patterns over time.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bunbury
    There is however a respected hypothesis called the functional identity hypothesis, or sometimes the mind/brain identity theory (see link) that proposes exactly what I suggested.
    The general approach seems likely, but reading the description there rings a couple of bells: the "states of the brain" vocabulary seems to refer to a material body conceived of as static, as describable in a slice of time picture or "state". That sinkhole is not going to yield progress, and probably has to be specifically and deliberately and explicitly rejected to keep the "scientific" folks from sliding in.

    When the brain is not supporting a mind of very complex and everchanging patterns of patterns in time, the being is not conscious. When it is incapable of supporting patterns in time at all, the being is dead. The observation here is that the pattern (in time, as well as space) we name "consciousness" emerges from a substrate of mental patterns (also in time as well as space, note that most of the mental doings of conscious beings are unconscious) - not the sort of substrate normally labeled "material".
    Last edited by iceaura; September 26th, 2011 at 11:42 AM.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  18. #17  
    Moderator Moderator
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Washington State
    Posts
    8,309
    not the sort of substrate normally labeled "material".
    Call it what you want, but it sounds like just another attempt to attribute characteristics that don't bound us to our biological evolution, despite any evidence to the contrary.

    From what we do understand the natural world is full of examples of amazingly complex structures from relatively simple mechanics (using the term loosely as biology, chemistry, thermodynamics etc) processes--our brains are very likely one more example.

    To put it bluntly there aren't any other credible options other than material, whether you can imagine them or science doesn't understand them yet.
    Meteorologist/Naturalist & Retired Soldier
    “The Holy Land is everywhere” Black Elk
    Reply With Quote  
     

  19. #18  
    Forum Masters Degree
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    UNITED KINGDOM
    Posts
    627
    Quote Originally Posted by theQuestIsNotOver View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by galexander View Post
    This is actually quite a subtle problem and it's possible not everyone will fully appreciate the nature of the issue being raised. However the following is the very best I can do to explain the philosophical problem of 'Can Scientific Materialism Sufficiently Explain Human Consciousness?'

    We are all aware that science views the human brain has being comprised of firing neurons combined with biochemical signals. But can this picture sufficiently explain the origin of human consciousness as we all experience it?

    For example if the brain is just firing neurons which come in waves, why are we simply not just biological robots? And how can a complex pattern of firing neurons produce human consciousness as we all experience it? Will it one day, for example, be possible to build computers with their own individual consciousnesses?

    Is the aesthetic experience of 'being conscious' explicable by materialistic determinism anyway as it seems to come from another dimension beyond the material?

    And what is 'the first cause' of human consciousness? Is it a specific pattern in an neuronic network; the neurons themselves? The problem seems to defy explanation.


    Satre did this best.

    Satre.



    (Being and Nothingness.................I mean, read it, then tell me)

    (ps: it seems he gave his life to the very topic, at a glance....)
    I'd love to but unfortunately I don't have the time.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  20. #19  
    Forum Masters Degree
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    UNITED KINGDOM
    Posts
    627
    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx_Fox View Post
    not the sort of substrate normally labeled "material".
    Call it what you want, but it sounds like just another attempt to attribute characteristics that don't bound us to our biological evolution, despite any evidence to the contrary.

    From what we do understand the natural world is full of examples of amazingly complex structures from relatively simple mechanics (using the term loosely as biology, chemistry, thermodynamics etc) processes--our brains are very likely one more example.

    To put it bluntly there aren't any other credible options other than material, whether you can imagine them or science doesn't understand them yet.
    I think you did put it bluntly when you said, "there aren't any other credible options other than material", but that doesn't mean we have to agree with you.

    Why aren't there other credible options other than the material?

    Have you forgotten that this very same question is quite literally as old as the hills themselves?

    Just because we live in the modern era doesn't mean we can win this debate just by simply ignoring the opposite arguments. At the end of the day scientists have admitted that they still cannot explain how consciousness arises in the human brain.

    And we have to ask ourselves why have they failed? And will they ever be able to answer this question?
    Reply With Quote  
     

  21. #20  
    Forum Isotope Bunbury's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Colorado
    Posts
    2,590
    Quote Originally Posted by galexander View Post
    Just because we live in the modern era doesn't mean we can win this debate just by simply ignoring the opposite arguments.
    No one is ignoring the opposite argument. There are essentially two positions: a dualistic one, that David Chalmers has become famous for arguing for, and in his case it is property dualism, which at least doesn't invoke ghosts and such like; the other one is the one I am proposing above. I think (and correct me if I'm wrong) that iceaura is in the Chalmers camp. The argument has raged for years and here is one example of how it is debated among philosophers:
    Consciousness

    At the end of the day scientists have admitted that they still cannot explain how consciousness arises in the human brain.
    Admitted? What's the charge guv? Failure to write the equation for consciousness?

    And we have to ask ourselves why have they failed? And will they ever be able to answer this question?
    Scientists study the neural activities that seem to correlate precisely with conscious thoughts. Precise correlation can be argued as being the same as identity. This is about as far as science can go isn't it? It is philosophers who fret over the "gap" between neural activity and experience - a gap that many scientists and philosophers suggest doesn't exist. I think scientists will do their job and leave the worrying to the philosophers.
    cluelusshusbund likes this.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  22. #21  
    Moderator Moderator
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Washington State
    Posts
    8,309
    Quote Originally Posted by galexander View Post

    I think you did put it bluntly when you said, "there aren't any other credible options other than material", but that doesn't mean we have to agree with you.

    Why aren't there other credible options other than the material?

    Have you forgotten that this very same question is quite literally as old as the hills themselves?

    Just because we live in the modern era doesn't mean we can win this debate just by simply ignoring the opposite arguments.
    No you don't have to agree with me, though by invoking other things for which there isn't any substantial evidence, I wonder why you posted this in the science section.
    There aren't any credible options because of lack of credible evidence--pretty much the same reason you'd reject an orbiting tea pot as ruler of the universe.
    And yes, I realize your position might have been shared for thousands of years. Do you think that logical fallacy of appeal to tradition would go unnoticed? (rhetorical); most of that time we also thought lightning came from gods (or god) before people like Ben Franklin started the long process of figuring out the actual nature of lightning and started a scientific quest that still continues to this day.

    Does science understand the brain...the answer is a simple no. But that doesn't mean people get to backfill that ignorance with raw completely unsupported and untestable ideas either. Using my own field as an example, we didn't know squat about the complex structures of a hurricane 60 years ago. We had an incomplete understanding of the radiation budgets, cloud physics, amplitude of the many terms in the complete equations of motion, inadequate models both in terms of power and efficiency, poor observational resolution, and ethical concerns about experiments that might make storms worst in our quest to understand them. But no one was arguing about anything non-material (similar to god of gaps arguments) as responsible. Research on the brain is in a similar state as hurricane research was back than. We don't as yet have adequate computational power or computer design to simulate the complexities of the human brain. We also have well-founded ethical concerns that prevent detailed direct observations and the little that is allowed doesn't get much more complex than rats. But even given all that, the cold objective scientific view drives science to continue to look exclusively at biological (mechanical) processes until there's evidence of something else--right now that "something else" resembles unmeasurable and untestable superstition more than objective science.
    Last edited by Lynx_Fox; September 26th, 2011 at 10:46 PM.
    cluelusshusbund likes this.
    Meteorologist/Naturalist & Retired Soldier
    “The Holy Land is everywhere” Black Elk
    Reply With Quote  
     

  23. #22  
    Forum Masters Degree
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    UNITED KINGDOM
    Posts
    627
    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx_Fox View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by galexander View Post

    I think you did put it bluntly when you said, "there aren't any other credible options other than material", but that doesn't mean we have to agree with you.

    Why aren't there other credible options other than the material?

    Have you forgotten that this very same question is quite literally as old as the hills themselves?

    Just because we live in the modern era doesn't mean we can win this debate just by simply ignoring the opposite arguments.
    No you don't have to agree with me, though by invoking other things for which there isn't any substantial evidence, I wonder why you posted this in the science section.
    There aren't any credible options because of lack of credible evidence--pretty much the same reason you'd reject an orbiting tea pot as ruler of the universe.
    And yes, I realize your position might have been shared for thousands of years. Do you think that logical fallacy of appeal to tradition would go unnoticed? (rhetorical); most of that time we also thought lightning came from gods (or god) before people like Ben Franklin started the long process of figuring out the actual nature of lightning and started a scientific quest that still continues to this day.

    Does science understand the brain...the answer is a simple no. But that doesn't mean people get to backfill that ignorance with raw completely unsupported and untestable ideas either. Using my own field as an example, we didn't know squat about the complex structures of a hurricane 60 years ago. We had an incomplete understanding of the radiation budgets, cloud physics, amplitude of the many terms in the complete equations of motion, inadequate models both in terms of power and efficiency, poor observational resolution, and ethical concerns about experiments that might make storms worst in our quest to understand them. But no one was arguing about anything non-material (similar to god of gaps arguments) as responsible. Research on the brain is in a similar state as hurricane research was back than. We don't as yet have adequate computational power or computer design to simulate the complexities of the human brain. We also have well-founded ethical concerns that prevent detailed direct observations and the little that is allowed doesn't get much more complex than rats. But even given all that, the cold objective scientific view drives science to continue to look exclusively at biological (mechanical) processes until there's evidence of something else--right now that "something else" resembles unmeasurable and untestable superstition more than objective science.
    Correct me if I am wrong but you appear to be taking the position that although scientists at the moment cannot explain the origin of human consciousness, one day they will be able to.

    That directly contradicts the argument I was actually raising in this thread which questioned whether it would EVER be possible to explain human consciousness by materialistic explanations.

    You presented this contradiction without apparent explanation so I can only conclude that this is an article of faith expressed by a dyed-in-the-wool materialist/positivist.

    Let me ask you again therefore, knowing that the human brain consists primarily of patterns of firing neurons, how is it possible that such a pattern of firing neurons can give rise to human consciousness as we all know and understand it? Why are we simply not unconscious biological robots with an equally unconscious overseer program in operation?
    Reply With Quote  
     

  24. #23  
    Moderator Moderator
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Washington State
    Posts
    8,309
    Quote Originally Posted by galexander View Post
    Correct me if I am wrong but you appear to be taking the position that although scientists at the moment cannot explain the origin of human consciousness, one day they will be able to.
    Rather than "Will be able to," I would say "Will probably be able to." That's not really an article of faith, it's just an educated guess given science's success at explain so many other complex things up to this point. It's also possible that we'll never completely understand it perhaps the best we'll ever be able to do is come up with unconfirmed hypothesis, or perhaps several within certain limits of how we think it might work. Much is inherently unknowable as well--for example if a goose turd lands on my head it's quite likely was at terminal velocity and I couldn't know how far up the offender was flying; the best I could do is say is something like: "well it takes a turd 500' to hit max speed and I know some geese fly up to 15,000 ft,' so the best I can deduce is that goose was flying roughly over my head between 500-15000 feet. Like a good scientist you quickly think of another possible measure and take the turds temperature. it is cold, and compare it to other turd-temperature losses under similar conditions and it takes 1000 ft for a turd to get cold. So you come up with a better bracket of say 1000 to 15000 feet. The point the laws of physics have conspired (rhetorical license) to make a definite answer impossible, BUT that doesn't suggest Newtonian physics wasn't at play, nor any need to invoke other things just because we can't get to that definitive answer. In a similar way, it's quit possible science will reach similar limit of what's unknowable just as does in many fields BUT that doesn't mean there's any reason to fill that gap with anything else either, especially if we know why we don't know (e.g. detailed evolutionary lineage of jellyfish because they don't leave many fossils).

    Why are we simply not unconscious biological robots with an equally unconscious overseer program in operation?
    My hunch is we are conscious biological robots and we'll eventually have a much better understanding of what that means, how it might have evolved or why it's even an optimal solution to problem solve and a model for how we design our own computers down the road. We don't know yet. We're still Ben Franklin holding the string.
    Meteorologist/Naturalist & Retired Soldier
    “The Holy Land is everywhere” Black Elk
    Reply With Quote  
     

  25. #24  
    Forum Isotope Bunbury's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Colorado
    Posts
    2,590
    Let me ask you again therefore, knowing that the human brain consists primarily of patterns of firing neurons, how is it possible that such a pattern of firing neurons can give rise to human consciousness as we all know and understand it?
    If you would consider the possibility that consciousness does not "arise" from patterns of neurons firing but is patterns of neurons firing then the mystery disappears. Just as digestion does not arise from the actions of stomachs, guts, enzymes and bacteria - it is the actions of stomachs, guts, enzymes and bacteria. Biological processes adapted for different purposes. It is Descartes who has implanted the need to add something that isn't there and he has screwed us all.

    Yesterday upon the stair
    I met a man who wasn’t there

    He wasn’t there again today

    Oh, how I wish he’d go away
    Reply With Quote  
     

  26. #25  
    Forum Junior Artemis's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    Amsterdam
    Posts
    297
    Quote Originally Posted by galexander View Post
    knowing that the human brain consists primarily of patterns of firing neurons, how is it possible that such a pattern of firing neurons can give rise to human consciousness as we all know and understand it? Why are we simply not unconscious biological robots with an equally unconscious overseer program in operation?
    I agree with Lynx_Fox. For the time being there is no scientific reason to look for consciousness outside the brain, because all that we now know indicates that the brain regulates consciousness.

    First of all, we know very little of what consciousness is or what causes it. It very much depends on the definition you give for consciousness. Is it a state? (Unconscious vs conscious/Awake vs sleep) is it a device? ( Higher cognitive functions/ Free will) or is it more like a sensation?

    As far as I know consciousness has primarily to do with perception. It is what we perceive in the world around us and whether or not we are aware of it. Second to our awareness of our perceptions, comes how we respond our act to them. Since both perception and active responding lies within the brain it is most logic to search for consciousness within the brain.

    Also, most of the processes that are associated with consciousness lie within the brain. For example:
    The ability to discriminate, categorize, react to environmental stimuli
    • The integration of information
    • The focus of attention
    • The deliberate control of behaviour

    Furthermore there are a lot of 'consciousness-disorders' for which the causes lie within the brain for example; blind-sight (visual form agnosia & cortical blindness) in which patients can still 'perceive' given stimuli, but are not aware of them.

    Last, there is a delay in time between brain activity and our 'conscious decision' to act. (the subjective intent to act is preceded by more then 500 ms predictive brain activity) Which is a further indication that our brain regulates conscious experiences and not the other way round.
    Student Neurobiology
    Reply With Quote  
     

  27. #26  
    Forum Masters Degree
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    UNITED KINGDOM
    Posts
    627
    Quote Originally Posted by Bunbury View Post
    Let me ask you again therefore, knowing that the human brain consists primarily of patterns of firing neurons, how is it possible that such a pattern of firing neurons can give rise to human consciousness as we all know and understand it?
    If you would consider the possibility that consciousness does not "arise" from patterns of neurons firing but is patterns of neurons firing then the mystery disappears. Just as digestion does not arise from the actions of stomachs, guts, enzymes and bacteria - it is the actions of stomachs, guts, enzymes and bacteria. Biological processes adapted for different purposes. It is Descartes who has implanted the need to add something that isn't there and he has screwed us all.

    Yesterday upon the stair
    I met a man who wasn’t there

    He wasn’t there again today

    Oh, how I wish he’d go away
    But again you miss the point.

    According to the theory of evolution we could easily have evolved without the quality of conscious as we all know and understand it. We could easily function as unconscious biological robots with an equally unconscious overseer routine programmed into the neuronic circuitry.

    But then again what would the purpose be as no-one would be around to see it?
    Reply With Quote  
     

  28. #27  
    Forum Masters Degree
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    UNITED KINGDOM
    Posts
    627
    Quote Originally Posted by Artemis View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by galexander View Post
    knowing that the human brain consists primarily of patterns of firing neurons, how is it possible that such a pattern of firing neurons can give rise to human consciousness as we all know and understand it? Why are we simply not unconscious biological robots with an equally unconscious overseer program in operation?
    I agree with Lynx_Fox. For the time being there is no scientific reason to look for consciousness outside the brain, because all that we now know indicates that the brain regulates consciousness.

    First of all, we know very little of what consciousness is or what causes it. It very much depends on the definition you give for consciousness. Is it a state? (Unconscious vs conscious/Awake vs sleep) is it a device? ( Higher cognitive functions/ Free will) or is it more like a sensation?

    As far as I know consciousness has primarily to do with perception. It is what we perceive in the world around us and whether or not we are aware of it. Second to our awareness of our perceptions, comes how we respond our act to them. Since both perception and active responding lies within the brain it is most logic to search for consciousness within the brain.

    Also, most of the processes that are associated with consciousness lie within the brain. For example:
    The ability to discriminate, categorize, react to environmental stimuli
    • The integration of information
    • The focus of attention
    • The deliberate control of behaviour

    Furthermore there are a lot of 'consciousness-disorders' for which the causes lie within the brain for example; blind-sight (visual form agnosia & cortical blindness) in which patients can still 'perceive' given stimuli, but are not aware of them.

    Last, there is a delay in time between brain activity and our 'conscious decision' to act. (the subjective intent to act is preceded by more then 500 ms predictive brain activity) Which is a further indication that our brain regulates conscious experiences and not the other way round.
    But how do firing neurons produce the smell of roses?

    How do firing neurons produce the colour green?

    And how do firing neurons produce the sensation of fur under your hand when you stroke your pet cat?

    It's all very well saying glibly "well yes they can" but at the end of the day a neuron is a neuron. It doesn't matter how large or what shape the neuron is or how much energy it has when it fires, it's a huge leap from firing neurons to smelling roses and seeing the colour green.

    A single firing neuron cannot produce the colour green nor can a whole gathering of them.

    Show me the colour green as it arises in the brain........

    Furthermore there are a lot of 'consciousness-disorders' for which the causes lie within the brain for example; blind-sight (visual form agnosia & cortical blindness) in which patients can still 'perceive' given stimuli, but are not aware of them.

    Last, there is a delay in time between brain activity and our 'conscious decision' to act. (the subjective intent to act is preceded by more then 500 ms predictive brain activity) Which is a further indication that our brain regulates conscious experiences and not the other way round.
    I don't deny that there are many unconscious processes in the brain that the conscious mind is dependant upon but these unconscious physiological functions do not prove that consciousness is on the exact same footing as those same unconscious functions. If there happens to be disorders with these unconscious functions, then that does not necessarily shed much light on the nature of human consciousness and how it arises.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  29. #28  
    Forum Freshman
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Posts
    11
    I believe that consciousness as opposed to simply just computing has one advantage and that is mistakes. If all humans were simply computer like beings with no consciousness there would be no mistakes (and if there were they would be made by all humans). This would be problematic from an evolutionary perspective. Without mistakes human competition would be an equilibrium and no superior being would rise to the top. This can be taken on different levels On the most basic level no one wins no one loses therefore no one advances. On a more complex level no one is superior therefore the survival of all beings is equal therefore natural selection is made impossible and evolutionary progress is made impossible. Now from here on i am applying my theory and may make mistakes (i am not educated very thoroughly in many of these subjects) but if i do please forgive me and help me improve. You may be wondering how anything may have evolved at all considering that every single celled organism cannot be conscious. Well....http://rsif.royalsocietypublishing.o.../6/34/463.full If a single-cell organisms can learn who is to say they are not conscious. Its a hard pill to swallow that an bacteria may be conscious. If a single cell can be conscious then why can every cell in the human body be conscious, maybe your individual consciousness is just one cell. This is the dilemma i faced when considering this theory. I soon stumbled upon a potential solution wile reading a book called Xenocide by Orson Scott Card. In this book a smaller form of "matter" (in quotes because in the book it has no mass, volume or, inertia) these units were called Philotes. These Philotes twined together to form everything but it was unsure as to the start or end of the twining if there was even one at all. Each Philote was connected by a ray. If they were separated then they would still act as if they were together and without any lag respond to each other over any distance (this is the way the interplanetary communication in the book worked). In the book a being became conscious within these Philotic connections. This being reminded me of my theory and i soon found a solution. Now i know that it is a book and is untrue, but it still holds inspirational value. The human body is composed of roughly 50 trillion cells in the human body. If they were all conscious and making there own choices nothing would ever get done. But what if they had a "agreement", this agreement would be to work in harmony wit each other, become one. Therefore this would mean consciousness is not in the brain, but the whole body. Maybe not, any group must have a leader to be successful (i think we can all agree the human body is). What if these cells all "elected" leaders, neurons, and gave up their consciousness to these leaders, thus creating a network of consciousness controlling a network of "bots"or any cell that is not a neuron. These communications could take place in the same way communication between cells already takes place. This is just a theory and an amateur one at that so please do not be overly critical of my work.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  30. #29  
    Suspended
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Posts
    1,849
    Quote Originally Posted by lynx
    From what we do understand the natural world is full of examples of amazingly complex structures from relatively simple mechanics (using the term loosely as biology, chemistry, thermodynamics etc) processes--our brains are very likely one more example.
    Of course. But having arisen, they exist on their own, and so in turn do the patterns emerging from them as substrate. The nature of that existence is the topic of discussion - molecules are not quarks, for example - and one of the key features of the higher level immaterial patterns is their obligatory inclusion of time.

    Substrate does not determine pattern.
    Let me ask you again therefore, knowing that the human brain consists primarily of patterns of firing neurons, how is it possible that such a pattern of firing neurons can give rise to human consciousness as we all know and understand it?

    If you would consider the possibility that consciousness does not "arise" from patterns of neurons firing but is patterns of neurons firing then the mystery disappears.
    A possibly significant observation here is that consciousness appears to be not a pattern of neurons firing but a pattern or structure of the patterns of neurons firing - at least one full logical level above the firing pattern level, at least two logical levels above the highest "material" level in ordinary terms.

    The pattern(s) we are identifying with consciousness exist only as events over time, have no specific mass or size or number, and can realize amplifying as well as damping chaotic response to events at all lower levels down to the quantum (single photon) level.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  31. #30  
    Forum Isotope Bunbury's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Colorado
    Posts
    2,590
    Quote Originally Posted by galexander View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Bunbury View Post
    Let me ask you again therefore, knowing that the human brain consists primarily of patterns of firing neurons, how is it possible that such a pattern of firing neurons can give rise to human consciousness as we all know and understand it?
    If you would consider the possibility that consciousness does not "arise" from patterns of neurons firing but is patterns of neurons firing then the mystery disappears. Just as digestion does not arise from the actions of stomachs, guts, enzymes and bacteria - it is the actions of stomachs, guts, enzymes and bacteria. Biological processes adapted for different purposes. It is Descartes who has implanted the need to add something that isn't there and he has screwed us all.

    Yesterday upon the stair
    I met a man who wasn’t there

    He wasn’t there again today

    Oh, how I wish he’d go away
    But again you miss the point.
    No, I was responding directly to the question you asked in the quotes above. The question below is a different question:

    According to the theory of evolution we could easily have evolved without the quality of conscious as we all know and understand it. We could easily function as unconscious biological robots with an equally unconscious overseer routine programmed into the neuronic circuitry.

    But then again what would the purpose be as no-one would be around to see it?
    We do not know for a fact that we could function as effectively as we do as unconscious robots. That is an assumption on your part. As already stated and ignored, "Our brains are adapted to reconsider, review, revise and modify or cancel actions proposed by the basic instincts coming up from the more primitive parts of the brain. Perhaps this review process requires consciousness to sort through the options, and perhaps consciousness is nothing more than neurons firing."
    Reply With Quote  
     

  32. #31  
    Forum Masters Degree
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    UNITED KINGDOM
    Posts
    627
    Quote Originally Posted by iceaura View Post
    A possibly significant observation here is that consciousness appears to be not a pattern of neurons firing but a pattern or structure of the patterns of neurons firing - at least one full logical level above the firing pattern level, at least two logical levels above the highest "material" level in ordinary terms.

    The pattern(s) we are identifying with consciousness exist only as events over time, have no specific mass or size or number, and can realize amplifying as well as damping chaotic response to events at all lower levels down to the quantum (single photon) level.
    Tell me, what is the difference between a 'pattern' and 'a structure of a pattern'. I would claim they are one and the same thing. Please reassure us you are not simply trying to cloud the issue.

    The pattern(s) we are identifying with consciousness exist only as events over time, have no specific mass or size or number, and can realize amplifying as well as damping chaotic response to events at all lower levels down to the quantum (single photon) level.
    I would suggest that the above quote is complete meaningless BS! I challenge you to prove that it is anything other than that.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  33. #32  
    Forum Masters Degree
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    UNITED KINGDOM
    Posts
    627
    My question remains unanswered so I will repeat the question but in slightly different terms:

    How can a single neuron or a group of neurons working as a team produce the following sense perceptions in the human brain?

    The colour red.

    The colour blue.

    The taste of lemon.

    The sensation of being warm.

    The sensation of movement.

    The sound of a bird singing.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  34. #33  
    Forum Isotope Bunbury's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Colorado
    Posts
    2,590
    Despite your burning interest in the topic you evidently haven't read the paper that I linked to that directly addresses the debate, so perhaps you can at least read this small excerpt from the conclusion:

    The causal and structural aspects of subjectivity might fall to functional explanation, but intrinsic natures will not, since after all, these are custom made to resist assimilation by science. Why? Because scientific explanation works, in part, by showing how the causal relations among elements of a system at one level can account for features at another level. The macroscopic properties of water, for instance, can be explained by the microstructure of water molecules. But since the property of having an intrinsic qualitative nature is defined (by its adherents) as independent of any causal role and as having no structure, no lower level explanation will ever reduce it. As Levine (1993, p. 134) puts it, '[T]o the extent that there is an element in our concept of qualitative character that is not captured by features of its causal role, to that extent it will escape the explanatory net of physicalist reduction.'
    In other words, and as I have said before, science can explain the congruence of neural activity with thoughts and feelings (by imaging techniques for instance) but it can't explain the ontological nature of experiences if you insist in saying their ontological nature is something over and above neural activity. By saying that you are simply inventing a realm that is untouchable by science and then complaining that science can't explain it, which is irrational.
    Artemis and Lynx_Fox like this.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  35. #34  
    Forum Junior Artemis's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    Amsterdam
    Posts
    297
    Quote Originally Posted by galexander View Post
    My question remains unanswered so I will repeat the question but in slightly different terms:

    How can a single neuron or a group of neurons working as a team produce the following sense perceptions in the human brain?

    The colour red.

    The colour blue.

    The taste of lemon.

    The sensation of being warm.

    The sensation of movement.

    The sound of a bird singing.

    One neuron can't possibly account for all of these sensations, however groups of neurons can. Each and every neuron has it's own specialty starting with the perceptive neurons. Take our eyes for example. The cones in our retina are specialized in perceiving color. Special color-opponent ganglion cells integrate these signals given by several cones and thus we can see a difference between colors.


    If our neurons can perceive the difference between green and other colors we have to be consciously aware of these differences to. The visual cortex (V1) has several layers of neurons which each fire at only one stimulus. This stimulus can be the (horizontal) orientation of a line or for example the color green. Thus a single firing neuron can actually make us see the color green. We just need a lot of neurons to perceive every possible color, every taste , every smell etc.


    How exactly our brains connects the color green with the label 'green' I do not know yet. Nor can anyone say that everyone experiences the color green the same way. This difficulty is one of the problems called 'the hard problem' of neuroscience (Chalmers) These are all subjective experience and thus very hard/impossible to test scientifically.


    For every sensation there exist perceptive neurons and a part in our brain that can interpret the signals coming from these neurons.
    Last edited by Artemis; September 29th, 2011 at 07:23 AM. Reason: My spelling sucks
    Student Neurobiology
    Reply With Quote  
     

  36. #35  
    Forum Masters Degree
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    UNITED KINGDOM
    Posts
    627
    Quote Originally Posted by Bunbury View Post
    Despite your burning interest in the topic you evidently haven't read the paper that I linked to that directly addresses the debate, so perhaps you can at least read this small excerpt from the conclusion:

    The causal and structural aspects of subjectivity might fall to functional explanation, but intrinsic natures will not, since after all, these are custom made to resist assimilation by science. Why? Because scientific explanation works, in part, by showing how the causal relations among elements of a system at one level can account for features at another level. The macroscopic properties of water, for instance, can be explained by the microstructure of water molecules. But since the property of having an intrinsic qualitative nature is defined (by its adherents) as independent of any causal role and as having no structure, no lower level explanation will ever reduce it. As Levine (1993, p. 134) puts it, '[T]o the extent that there is an element in our concept of qualitative character that is not captured by features of its causal role, to that extent it will escape the explanatory net of physicalist reduction.'
    In other words, and as I have said before, science can explain the congruence of neural activity with thoughts and feelings (by imaging techniques for instance) but it can't explain the ontological nature of experiences if you insist in saying their ontological nature is something over and above neural activity. By saying that you are simply inventing a realm that is untouchable by science and then complaining that science can't explain it, which is irrational.
    I don't agree.

    If science claims it can explain everything, then that surely must mean absolutely everything WITHOUT exception. And indeed there are scientists out there who claim this.

    Psychologists believe they can explain human behaviour but they can't explain how consciousness arises.

    Why are some things beyond scientific explanation? Is the beauty of Da Vinci's Mona Lisa beyond explanation? Some psychologists may dispute this. Science can be applied to just about every subject there is.

    And what does the following mean from your quote:

    But since the property of having an intrinsic qualitative nature is defined (by its adherents) as independent of any causal role and as having no structure, no lower level explanation will ever reduce it. As Levine (1993, p. 134) puts it, '[T]o the extent that there is an element in our concept of qualitative character that is not captured by features of its causal role, to that extent it will escape the explanatory net of physicalist reduction.'
    At best this is a circular argument based upon a faulty initial assumption. I am glad I did not read the rest of the article.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  37. #36  
    Forum Masters Degree
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    UNITED KINGDOM
    Posts
    627
    Quote Originally Posted by Artemis View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by galexander View Post
    My question remains unanswered so I will repeat the question but in slightly different terms:

    How can a single neuron or a group of neurons working as a team produce the following sense perceptions in the human brain?

    The colour red.

    The colour blue.

    The taste of lemon.

    The sensation of being warm.

    The sensation of movement.

    The sound of a bird singing.

    One neuron can't possibly account for all of these sensations, however groups of neurons can. Each and every neuron has it's own specialty starting with the perceptive neurons. Take our eyes for example. The cones in our retina are specialized in perceiving color. Special color-opponent ganglion cells integrate these signals given by several cones and thus we can see a difference between colors.


    If our neurons can perceive the difference between green and other colors we have to be consciously aware of these differences to. The visual cortex (V1) has several layers of neurons which each fire at only one stimulus. This stimulus can be the (horizontal) orientation of a line or for example the color green. Thus a single firing neuron can actually make us see the color green. We just need a lot of neurons to perceive every possible color, every taste , every smell etc.


    How exactly our brains connects the color green with the label 'green' I do not know yet. Nor can anyone say that everyone experiences the color green the same way. This difficulty is one of the problems called 'the hard problem' of neuroscience (Chalmers) These are all subjective experience and thus very hard/impossible to test scientifically.


    For every sensation there exist perceptive neurons and a part in our brain that can interpret the signals coming from these neurons.
    But if one neuron can't produce these sensations then how is it many put together can? A neuron is a neuron.

    Neurons for example, are fine when it comes to data transfer and data storage but how can it produce an array of colours, sounds and tastes at the receiving end? A computer uses binary signal but without a monitor, a loud speaker and other interactive equipment at the other end in addition to an operator who just so happens to be a sentient being, the binary signal would be absolutely meaningless.

    When mammalian brains are dissected (or even human ones for that matter) what apparatus is there inside other than lots and lots of neurons? Is there any space there for human consciousness?
    Reply With Quote  
     

  38. #37  
    Moderator Moderator
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Washington State
    Posts
    8,309
    Quote Originally Posted by galexander View Post
    I don't agree.

    If science claims it can explain everything, then that surely must mean absolutely everything WITHOUT exception. And indeed there are scientists out there who claim this.
    I've never met one, and I know many. They either weren't science, were being flippant, or you were misinterpreting. I already provided a couple examples of unknowable things by science BASED on science. Science also, obviously can't explain things made up or imagined, like unicorns, angel pin dancers, and consciousness as something external to the brain.
    Meteorologist/Naturalist & Retired Soldier
    “The Holy Land is everywhere” Black Elk
    Reply With Quote  
     

  39. #38  
    Forum Junior Artemis's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    Amsterdam
    Posts
    297
    Quote Originally Posted by galexander
    But if one neuron can't produce these sensations then how is it many put together can? A neuron is a neuron.

    Neurons for example, are fine when it comes to data transfer and data storage but how can it produce an array of colours, sounds and tastes at the receiving end? A computer uses binary signal but without a monitor, a loud speaker and other interactive equipment at the other end in addition to an operator who just so happens to be a sentient being, the binary signal would be absolutely meaningless.
    Even in a computer a single 0 or 1 is meaningless, however a group of eight or more binary signals can be labeled as the letter B or as specific command to be run by the computer why is it so hard for you to imagine the human brain might work the same way.



    Also the way a neuron reacts to a stimulus depends on the form and location of that neuron. So there are differences among neurons and how they react. This way different neurons can code for different sensations. A single neuron cannot account for all possible sensations, but all neurons put together can, because they differ in the way they react to different stimuli.




    Quote Originally Posted by galexander
    When mammalian brains are dissected (or even human ones for that matter) what apparatus is there inside other than lots and lots of neurons? Is there any space there for human consciousness?
    Human consciousness can be found inside those neurons there is no need for anything other than the neurons to perceive and interpret the stimuli of the outer world.
    Student Neurobiology
    Reply With Quote  
     

  40. #39  
    Forum Isotope Bunbury's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Colorado
    Posts
    2,590
    Quote Originally Posted by galexander View Post
    If science claims it can explain everything,
    It doesn't.

    And indeed there are scientists out there who claim this.
    Perhaps, but I can't think of one. Can you?

    Psychologists believe they can explain human behaviour but they can't explain how consciousness arises.
    It doesn't arise. It stays inside the head.

    Why are some things beyond scientific explanation?
    I think science can potentially explain cause and effect of physical things although there is probably no end to the questions so science will never be complete. If you insist there are non-physical things then science can't help you and scientists aren't interested. They have serious work to do.

    Is the beauty of Da Vinci's Mona Lisa beyond explanation?
    I'm pretty sure the human sense of beauty can be explained in evolutionary terms, but I don't think I can adequately explain it here.

    Some psychologists may dispute this. Science can be applied to just about every subject there is.

    And what does the following mean from your quote:

    But since the property of having an intrinsic qualitative nature is defined (by its adherents) as independent of any causal role and as having no structure, no lower level explanation will ever reduce it. As Levine (1993, p. 134) puts it, '[T]o the extent that there is an element in our concept of qualitative character that is not captured by features of its causal role, to that extent it will escape the explanatory net of physicalist reduction.'
    At best this is a circular argument based upon a faulty initial assumption. I am glad I did not read the rest of the article.
    It is actually an explanation of the circularity you create by inventing ghost in the machine and then asking someone to explain away your phantom.
    cluelusshusbund likes this.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  41. #40  
    Suspended
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    grail search
    Posts
    811
    Quote Originally Posted by galexander View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by theQuestIsNotOver View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by galexander View Post
    This is actually quite a subtle problem and it's possible not everyone will fully appreciate the nature of the issue being raised. However the following is the very best I can do to explain the philosophical problem of 'Can Scientific Materialism Sufficiently Explain Human Consciousness?'

    We are all aware that science views the human brain has being comprised of firing neurons combined with biochemical signals. But can this picture sufficiently explain the origin of human consciousness as we all experience it?

    For example if the brain is just firing neurons which come in waves, why are we simply not just biological robots? And how can a complex pattern of firing neurons produce human consciousness as we all experience it? Will it one day, for example, be possible to build computers with their own individual consciousnesses?

    Is the aesthetic experience of 'being conscious' explicable by materialistic determinism anyway as it seems to come from another dimension beyond the material?

    And what is 'the first cause' of human consciousness? Is it a specific pattern in an neuronic network; the neurons themselves? The problem seems to defy explanation.


    Satre did this best.

    Satre.



    (Being and Nothingness.................I mean, read it, then tell me)

    (ps: it seems he gave his life to the very topic, at a glance....)
    I'd love to but unfortunately I don't have the time.

    Sure. It is this thickest and densest writing around. But on the matter of consciousness, it is very difficult to go beyond what he has achieved. Perhaps he closest describes the science oif consciousness, that consciousness can be explained in an ordered logical manner? I think he ultimately describes "being" as the person and "scientific materialism" as the nothingness. He also describes how our perception deals with being a part of the materialism, how a person consciousnely deals with perceiving and being perceived. I thought I would just mention him as the topic seemed so relevant to the work he had done.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  42. #41  
    Forum Masters Degree
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    UNITED KINGDOM
    Posts
    627
    Quote Originally Posted by Artemis View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by galexander
    But if one neuron can't produce these sensations then how is it many put together can? A neuron is a neuron.

    Neurons for example, are fine when it comes to data transfer and data storage but how can it produce an array of colours, sounds and tastes at the receiving end? A computer uses binary signal but without a monitor, a loud speaker and other interactive equipment at the other end in addition to an operator who just so happens to be a sentient being, the binary signal would be absolutely meaningless.
    Even in a computer a single 0 or 1 is meaningless, however a group of eight or more binary signals can be labeled as the letter B or as specific command to be run by the computer why is it so hard for you to imagine the human brain might work the same way.



    Also the way a neuron reacts to a stimulus depends on the form and location of that neuron. So there are differences among neurons and how they react. This way different neurons can code for different sensations. A single neuron cannot account for all possible sensations, but all neurons put together can, because they differ in the way they react to different stimuli.




    Quote Originally Posted by galexander
    When mammalian brains are dissected (or even human ones for that matter) what apparatus is there inside other than lots and lots of neurons? Is there any space there for human consciousness?
    Human consciousness can be found inside those neurons there is no need for anything other than the neurons to perceive and interpret the stimuli of the outer world.
    But you failed to see the point. If a single binary code can be translated into a group of pixels on a computer monitor which resemble the letter 'B', the group of pixels will be meaningless without a human eye to see them and accompanying cognitive functions to interpret what is being seen. So we are back to where we started. There is no further human eye inside the brain, just neurons. Computers are mechanical and robotic in that they can be programmed to react in well defined ways to external stimuli but when they do this they are entirely unconscious. This was what I was trying to say and this was the point of this thread.

    A single neuron cannot account for all possible sensations, but all neurons put together can, because they differ in the way they react to different stimuli.
    A neuron can store or transmit charge and a chain of them can therefore behave like an electric circuit.

    But can you explain to me by what 'occult' means a group of neurons can give rise to a sentient consciousness?

    A single neuron, many neurons, hundreds of thousands, millions of neurons, will always be unconscious.

    I just claim you are dodging the issue.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  43. #42  
    Forum Masters Degree
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    UNITED KINGDOM
    Posts
    627
    Quote Originally Posted by Bunbury View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by galexander View Post
    If science claims it can explain everything,
    It doesn't.

    And indeed there are scientists out there who claim this.
    Perhaps, but I can't think of one. Can you?

    Psychologists believe they can explain human behaviour but they can't explain how consciousness arises.
    It doesn't arise. It stays inside the head.

    Why are some things beyond scientific explanation?
    I think science can potentially explain cause and effect of physical things although there is probably no end to the questions so science will never be complete. If you insist there are non-physical things then science can't help you and scientists aren't interested. They have serious work to do.

    Is the beauty of Da Vinci's Mona Lisa beyond explanation?
    I'm pretty sure the human sense of beauty can be explained in evolutionary terms, but I don't think I can adequately explain it here.

    Some psychologists may dispute this. Science can be applied to just about every subject there is.

    And what does the following mean from your quote:

    But since the property of having an intrinsic qualitative nature is defined (by its adherents) as independent of any causal role and as having no structure, no lower level explanation will ever reduce it. As Levine (1993, p. 134) puts it, '[T]o the extent that there is an element in our concept of qualitative character that is not captured by features of its causal role, to that extent it will escape the explanatory net of physicalist reduction.'
    At best this is a circular argument based upon a faulty initial assumption. I am glad I did not read the rest of the article.
    It is actually an explanation of the circularity you create by inventing ghost in the machine and then asking someone to explain away your phantom.
    I think the problem is that you understand nothing of the philosophy of the subject.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  44. #43  
    Suspended
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Posts
    1,849
    Quote Originally Posted by galaxender
    Tell me, what is the difference between a 'pattern' and 'a structure of a pattern'. I would claim they are one and the same thing.
    They refer to the same thing, except it's "structure of patterns" - I was just trying to emphasize that the substrate in which the patterns we identify with consciousness form is itself composed of patterns of neural firings - not "material" in the normal sense of the word, i.e. with a three dimensional size and mass.

    The word "pattern" seems incomplete, like any term, and "structure" seemed informative. "Sequence", "concatenation", etc, also come to mind.
    Quote Originally Posted by galaxender
    A single neuron, many neurons, hundreds of thousands, millions of neurons, will always be unconscious.
    Of course. Much as a single molecule of water can never break as a wave, and by reducing the wave to molecules one makes it invisible, not a wave at all.

    Consciousness is not a sandbag of neurons. They are just the substrate for the substrate for the substrate of the pattern that is consciousness.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  45. #44  
    Forum Isotope Bunbury's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Colorado
    Posts
    2,590
    [QUOTE=galexander;285797]
    Quote Originally Posted by Bunbury View Post
    I think the problem is that you understand nothing of the philosophy of the subject.
    Phew! That's a relief then. I thought it was constipation.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  46. #45  
    Forum Masters Degree
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    UNITED KINGDOM
    Posts
    627
    Quote Originally Posted by iceaura View Post
    Consciousness is not a sandbag of neurons. They are just the substrate for the substrate for the substrate of the pattern that is consciousness.
    Let me look at what you said more closely.

    Surely there is only one substrate here. Neurons. However you appear to suggest there are at least three layers of substrate here. If the first substrate consists of neurons, what are the other two?

    You suggest that consciousness is a pattern that can only be found within the third substrate.

    Please tell us what this this third substrate is and convince us all you are not simply talking out of the top of your hat.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  47. #46  
    Suspended
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Posts
    1,849
    If the first substrate consists of neurons, what are the other two?
    The firing of the neurons, and then the patterns of those firings.

    Those patterns are themselves organized into patterns - that is observed, and we associate some of that organization, certain of those patterns, with consciousness. The correlation is physically established, by observation using EEG and the like. We can tell when someone is conscious, often, by observing the patterns of the firing patterns of neurons in their brain.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  48. #47  
    Forum Sophomore cluelusshusbund's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Indina USA
    Posts
    193
    Jus to be clear... is anybody in this thred suggestin that consciousness is somptin other than biological.???
    Go here an play the "Guess Game".!!!

    http://www.thescienceforum.com/gener...uess-what.html

    When the curent game is guessed... post anuther photo for us to... "Guess what this is" :-)
    Reply With Quote  
     

  49. #48  
    Forum Junior brane wave's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    United Kingdom
    Posts
    245
    IMO,our consciousness(brain based feedback) is quite simple...it is fundamentaly a survival mechanism....and can determine low survival directions vurses high survival outcomes.based on previous experiences ,memory,helps in this assessment.it also has the ability to map our environment,and determine the best odds for our interests.any other outside concepts are purely manmade...thats basically how we function.period..survival is the only goal...even our feeling can be distilled to this base
    Reply With Quote  
     

  50. #49 No. 
    Forum Sophomore
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Nebraska, the Heartland!
    Posts
    129
    No. Scientific Materialism cannot explain 'life', let alone 'consciousness'.

    Here's my challenge: If life is only chemical and electrical reactions, then build an amoeba that lives. I'm not demanding a human, or chimpanzee or dog, just an amoeba. Amoeba are simple creatures and well studied and understood. A competent team of bio-scientists should be able to assemble one from basic compounds. When it swims away, the challenge has been met.

    Once that happens, we'll see what Scientific Materialism has to say about 'consciousness'.

    A bit of history. Scientists used to observe that since the 'supernatural' - including God and that sort of thing - cannot be studied in a laboratory, reduced to a formula or poured into a test tube all that could be said of it is 'we don't know'.

    Bunbury now implies since science cannot deal with anything other than the material, it doesn't exist. I find that a very poor conclusion.
    The universe is a real place. However, you can't see it, you have to imagine it. Like it or not, God designed, built and sustains the Universe. Deal with it.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  51. #50  
    Your Mama! GiantEvil's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Vancouver, Wa
    Posts
    1,909
    Quote Originally Posted by Bunbury
    If you would consider the possibility that consciousness does not "arise" from patterns of neurons firing but is patterns of neurons firing then the mystery disappears.
    That would make consciousness an axiomatic property. Interesting thought.
    Quote Originally Posted by Bunbury
    It is Descartes who has implanted the need to add something that isn't there and he has screwed us all.
    "It is the mark of an educated man to be able to entertain opposing thoughts simultaneously." -Aristotle, The father of logic.
    "Heavier things fall faster than lighter ones." -Aristotle, Dumbass.
    Not to mention, that we would also be screwed without the Cartesian coordinate system. Especially if you've just called the fire or police, or expect to find your mail in the box for your house, or you want a pizza delivered.
    I was some of the mud that got to sit up and look around.
    Lucky me. Lucky mud.
    -Kurt Vonnegut Jr.-
    Cat's Cradle.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  52. #51  
    Forum Masters Degree
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    UNITED KINGDOM
    Posts
    627
    Quote Originally Posted by iceaura View Post
    If the first substrate consists of neurons, what are the other two?
    The firing of the neurons, and then the patterns of those firings.

    Those patterns are themselves organized into patterns - that is observed, and we associate some of that organization, certain of those patterns, with consciousness. The correlation is physically established, by observation using EEG and the like. We can tell when someone is conscious, often, by observing the patterns of the firing patterns of neurons in their brain.
    And are those smaller(?) patterns that you associate with consciousness caused by firing neurons?

    If so what is special about those particular neurons being fired or the patterns being produced by them that causes them to give rise to consciousness?
    Reply With Quote  
     

  53. #52  
    Forum Isotope Bunbury's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Colorado
    Posts
    2,590
    Quote Originally Posted by Archie View Post
    Bunbury now implies since science cannot deal with anything other than the material, it doesn't exist. I find that a very poor conclusion.
    Actually I said: If you insist there are non-physical things then science can't help you and scientists aren't interested. They have serious work to do.

    Can you spot the difference?
    Reply With Quote  
     

  54. #53  
    Suspended
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Posts
    1,849
    Quote Originally Posted by galaxender
    And are those smaller(?) patterns that you associate with consciousness caused by firing neurons?
    No. Substrate does not cause pattern.
    Quote Originally Posted by galaxender
    If so what is special about those particular neurons being fired or the patterns being produced by them that causes them to give rise to consciousness?
    Nothing "causes" them to "give rise" to consciousness in particular. The patterns that form the substrate of the patterns we term "consciousness" likely support other patterns as well, especially considering the large preponderance of human mental activity that is not conscious.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  55. #54  
    Forum Masters Degree
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    UNITED KINGDOM
    Posts
    627
    Quote Originally Posted by iceaura View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by galaxender
    And are those smaller(?) patterns that you associate with consciousness caused by firing neurons?
    No. Substrate does not cause pattern.
    Quote Originally Posted by galaxender
    If so what is special about those particular neurons being fired or the patterns being produced by them that causes them to give rise to consciousness?
    Nothing "causes" them to "give rise" to consciousness in particular. The patterns that form the substrate of the patterns we term "consciousness" likely support other patterns as well, especially considering the large preponderance of human mental activity that is not conscious.
    Okay, let me frame my question slightly differently.

    Do the patterns, or the substrate that supports consciousness overlap with patterns or the substrate supporting them that are responsible for the unconscious mental processes?

    Or to put it slightly differently again, are different regions of the brain responsible for the conscious and unconscious mental processes?
    Reply With Quote  
     

  56. #55  
    Suspended
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Posts
    1,849
    Quote Originally Posted by galaxender
    Do the patterns, or the substrate that supports consciousness overlap with patterns or the substrate supporting them that are responsible for the unconscious mental processes?
    Dunno. Research topic. First guess would be "of course".

    NB: you seem to be attempting to distinguish between "patterns" and "substrate". One of the observations here is that the substrate of the patterns we label consciousness is itself patterns of neural activity.

    Quote Originally Posted by galaxender
    Or to put it slightly differently again, are different regions of the brain responsible for the conscious and unconscious mental processes?
    That has been eliminated as an obligate distinction, as far as I know: activity of many regions of the brain can be brought to conscious awareness, including normally unconscious activity from seldom monitored regions, but no evidence that all activity within any region is always conscious.

    That is: It seems possible that some regions cannot be brought to consciousness at all, but unlikely that any physical region is completely within consciousness ever.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  57. #56  
    Forum Freshman Xelloss's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    Massachusetts
    Posts
    39
    Quote Originally Posted by Archie View Post
    No. Scientific Materialism cannot explain 'life', let alone 'consciousness'.

    Here's my challenge: If life is only chemical and electrical reactions, then build an amoeba that lives. I'm not demanding a human, or chimpanzee or dog, just an amoeba. Amoeba are simple creatures and well studied and understood. A competent team of bio-scientists should be able to assemble one from basic compounds. When it swims away, the challenge has been met.

    Already done. See the video below:




    Just because we don't have all of the knowledge necessary to explain something doesn't mean that it is impossible to do so rationally. It may very well be the case that we just simply don't know yet. After all, there was a time when humans didn't know that the sun was a star, or how old the universe really was.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  58. #57  
    Forum Masters Degree
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    UNITED KINGDOM
    Posts
    627
    Quote Originally Posted by Xelloss View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Archie View Post
    No. Scientific Materialism cannot explain 'life', let alone 'consciousness'.

    Here's my challenge: If life is only chemical and electrical reactions, then build an amoeba that lives. I'm not demanding a human, or chimpanzee or dog, just an amoeba. Amoeba are simple creatures and well studied and understood. A competent team of bio-scientists should be able to assemble one from basic compounds. When it swims away, the challenge has been met.
    The scientists in question however did not start from scratch. They put custom made DNA into another bacterium which had its own DNA removed.

    I don't find this claim surprising at all.

    Now to start from absolute scratch is another matter altogether.


    Already done. See the video below:


    Just because we don't have all of the knowledge necessary to explain something doesn't mean that it is impossible to do so rationally. It may very well be the case that we just simply don't know yet. After all, there was a time when humans didn't know that the sun was a star, or how old the universe really was.
    The scientists in question however did not start from scratch. They put custom made DNA into another bacterium which had its own DNA removed.

    I don't find this claim surprising at all.

    Now to start from absolute scratch is another matter altogether.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  59. #58  
    Forum Freshman Xelloss's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    Massachusetts
    Posts
    39
    Quote Originally Posted by galexander View Post

    The scientists in question however did not start from scratch. They put custom made DNA into another bacterium which had its own DNA removed.

    I don't find this claim surprising at all.
    So what? They managed to manufacture DNA from scratch, and it has all of the capabilities of a living organism, including being able to reproduce. That they have been able to get that far means that it is possible, in principle, to build a living organism from scratch. Not every little part of the cell has to be recreated in order to show proof of concept (although, we manufacture some of these parts, and their proteins, on a regular basis anyway).

    That being said, there is no reason to assume that there is anything beyond the physical/material world, and that applies to living organisms, and by extension consciousness (which is really nothing more that an agglomeration of neural cells sending electro-chemical signals between each other anyhow...)
    cluelusshusbund likes this.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  60. #59  
    Suspended
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Posts
    1,849
    Quote Originally Posted by xellos
    That being said, there is no reason to assume that there is anything beyond the physical/material world, and that applies to living organisms, and by extension consciousness (which is really nothing more that an agglomeration of neural cells sending electro-chemical signals between each other anyhow...)
    Consciousness - as actually observed, using sensitive electrical gear in laboratories - is not an agglomeration of things with mass or three dimensional size. It is a pattern in the patterns of neuron cell firing, in the human brain. Whether such patterns could be replicated on other substrates or in similar substrates themselves supported otherwise - such as silicon chip architecture - is unknown, but seems plausible.

    On the one hand, of course we rule out the supernatural. On the other, the language "nothing but" invariably seems to imply a level of reduction completely inadequate for explanation or even comprehension of the questions involved. Substrate is never going to explain pattern. Substrate does not cause pattern, and pattern cannot be reduced to its substrate.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  61. #60  
    Forum Sophomore
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Nebraska, the Heartland!
    Posts
    129
    Quote Originally Posted by Bunbury View Post
    What evidence exists that there is anything more than the material?
    Quote Originally Posted by Archie View Post
    Bunbury now implies since science cannot deal with anything other than the material, it doesn't exist. I find that a very poor conclusion.
    Quote Originally Posted by Bunbury View Post
    Actually I said: If you insist there are non-physical things then science can't help you and scientists aren't interested. They have serious work to do.
    Can you spot the difference?
    Can you spot the contradiction? As I reported, you deny the existence of anything that cannot be examined by your concept of science. But you don't seem to remember what you post.

    Good luck Bunbury.
    The universe is a real place. However, you can't see it, you have to imagine it. Like it or not, God designed, built and sustains the Universe. Deal with it.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  62. #61  
    Forum Sophomore
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Nebraska, the Heartland!
    Posts
    129
    Quote Originally Posted by Xelloss View Post
    So what? They managed to manufacture DNA from scratch...
    No, they did not. You should listen to the clip rather than just post it. The scientists involved BOUGHT small strands of DNA and spliced it together. Essentially, they junk yarded a strand of DNA, then replaced that assembly into a host cell.

    Sort of like the Russian scientists in the '60s and '70s who transplanted dog's heads onto other dogs. It is a marvelous accomplishment, but it's a long way from manufacturing viable DNA from raw chemicals. I'll be interested to see where this goes and further developments.

    Quote Originally Posted by Xelloss View Post
    That being said, there is no reason to assume that there is anything beyond the physical/material world, and that applies to living organisms, and by extension consciousness (which is really nothing more that an agglomeration of neural cells sending electro-chemical signals between each other anyhow...)
    Xelloss, your last phrase in your last run on sentence is circular logic. You're using your own conclusion as an argument to prove your conclusion.
    The universe is a real place. However, you can't see it, you have to imagine it. Like it or not, God designed, built and sustains the Universe. Deal with it.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  63. #62  
    Moderator Moderator
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Washington State
    Posts
    8,309
    Quote Originally Posted by iceaura View Post
    On the one hand, of course we rule out the supernatural. On the other, the language "nothing but" invariably seems to imply a level of reduction completely inadequate for explanation or even comprehension of the questions involved. Substrate is never going to explain pattern. Substrate does not cause pattern, and pattern cannot be reduced to its substrate.
    Why introduce other stuff though. The "nothing but" statement already includes mater and energy and it quite adequate for the basic question. Of course you might want to get into the details of that mater and energy work to create consciousness and have added the awkward terms substrate and patterns but that's quite beside the point. But I'm glad you've at least confirms is really is "nothing but" with your clear statement against it being supernatural.
    Meteorologist/Naturalist & Retired Soldier
    “The Holy Land is everywhere” Black Elk
    Reply With Quote  
     

  64. #63  
    Forum Masters Degree
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    UNITED KINGDOM
    Posts
    627
    Quote Originally Posted by Xelloss View Post
    That being said, there is no reason to assume that there is anything beyond the physical/material world, and that applies to living organisms, and by extension consciousness (which is really nothing more that an agglomeration of neural cells sending electro-chemical signals between each other anyhow...)
    If that is your conviction then please answer all the questions I have raised in the above discussion.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  65. #64  
    Forum Masters Degree
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    UNITED KINGDOM
    Posts
    627
    Quote Originally Posted by iceaura View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by xellos
    That being said, there is no reason to assume that there is anything beyond the physical/material world, and that applies to living organisms, and by extension consciousness (which is really nothing more that an agglomeration of neural cells sending electro-chemical signals between each other anyhow...)
    Consciousness - as actually observed, using sensitive electrical gear in laboratories - is not an agglomeration of things with mass or three dimensional size. It is a pattern in the patterns of neuron cell firing, in the human brain. Whether such patterns could be replicated on other substrates or in similar substrates themselves supported otherwise - such as silicon chip architecture - is unknown, but seems plausible.

    On the one hand, of course we rule out the supernatural. On the other, the language "nothing but" invariably seems to imply a level of reduction completely inadequate for explanation or even comprehension of the questions involved. Substrate is never going to explain pattern. Substrate does not cause pattern, and pattern cannot be reduced to its substrate.
    You say consciousness is a pattern within patterns but that suggests that consciousness is disjointed and comes in many parts, and is transitory in nature.

    But our own experience of consciousness very much suggests that it is constant and highly uniform.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  66. #65  
    Moderator Moderator
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Washington State
    Posts
    8,309
    Quote Originally Posted by galexander View Post
    But our own experience of consciousness very much suggests that it is constant and highly uniform.
    I doubt that. I doubt it's even true for the Dalai Lama.
    Meteorologist/Naturalist & Retired Soldier
    “The Holy Land is everywhere” Black Elk
    Reply With Quote  
     

  67. #66  
    Forum Masters Degree
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    UNITED KINGDOM
    Posts
    627
    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx_Fox View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by galexander View Post
    But our own experience of consciousness very much suggests that it is constant and highly uniform.
    I doubt that. I doubt it's even true for the Dalai Lama.
    Maybe your consciousness is different from mine. It seems fairly constant and uniform to me.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  68. #67  
    Suspended
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Posts
    1,849
    Quote Originally Posted by galaxender
    You say consciousness is a pattern within patterns but that suggests that consciousness is disjointed and comes in many parts, and is transitory in nature.
    Not a pattern within patterns: a pattern of patterns. A conjointing, in your terms, of a given kind. An essentially coherent single entity (variably based and multiphasicly emergent and of necessity changing), that is obligate temporal - it exists only in time, like a sound or such things as shimmers and whirlpools.

    Quote Originally Posted by galaxender
    But our own experience of consciousness very much suggests that it is constant and highly uniform.
    It vanishes every time you go to sleep, get knocked out, faint, etc. And it is very difficult to keep it constant in any normal sense of the word: the mind wanders. Being in motion by nature and in essence, it is difficult to maintain its activity in a representation of stasis - the closest approach is repetition, and as Gertrude Stein was not the first to notice repetition of mind is not only difficult but paradoxical, in a metaphorical sense self-contradictory.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx
    Why introduce other stuff though. The "nothing but" statement already includes mater and energy and it quite adequate for the basic question.
    "Matter and energy" fail to explain consciousness. Ideas do not have characteristic size, mass, momentum, wavelength, "energy", or any other similar properties of entities at the matter/energy level.

    In my experience the language attending "nothing but" inevitably misleads, in my guess because it is universally misled. The reduction to cell level machinery is an immediate error, for example - the intuition of chains of cause and effect at the neuron level explaining consciousness is a confusion.
    Last edited by iceaura; October 9th, 2011 at 02:51 PM.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  69. #68  
    Forum Masters Degree
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    UNITED KINGDOM
    Posts
    627
    Quote Originally Posted by iceaura View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by galaxender
    You say consciousness is a pattern within patterns but that suggests that consciousness is disjointed and comes in many parts, and is transitory in nature.
    Not a pattern within patterns: a pattern of patterns. A conjointing, in your terms, of a given kind. An essentially coherent single entity (variably based and multiphasicly emergent and of necessity changing), that is obligate temporal - it exists only in time, like a sound or such things as shimmers and whirlpools.
    And can you admit that this is just a theory? And one which has not been proven yet?

    That is one important thing you have omitted to do.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  70. #69  
    Suspended
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Posts
    1,849
    Quote Originally Posted by galaxender
    And can you admit that this is just a theory? And one which has not been proven yet?
    It's based on observations - one makes them with an EEG machine or one of those fancier brain scanners, if the ordinary events of one's thinking life insufficiently persuade.

    My only contribution here is to point to certain significances of the observations. That consciousness necessarily involves a pattern of patterns of neural firings (not just the registration of impinging sound in the appropriate brain area, for example, a firing pattern that can be left unconscious or brought to consciousness) has consequences for those wishing to explain it.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  71. #70  
    Moderator Moderator
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Washington State
    Posts
    8,309
    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx
    Why introduce other stuff though. The "nothing but" statement already includes mater and energy and it quite adequate for the basic question.
    "Matter and energy" fail to explain consciousness. Ideas do not have characteristic size, mass, momentum, wavelength, "energy", or any other similar properties of entities at the matter/energy level.
    But given we don't know any other credible possibilities, it is more than likely that ideas and consciousness are nothing but matter/energy, even if we don't know the details as yet.



    "nothing but" inevitably misleads,
    Sometimes, but in this case it's a pretty simple mater of logic and your guess is probably wrong. Absolutely nothing in this tread offers any other semi-realistic possibility; most other things mentions amount to nothing more than mumbo jumbo, superstition, or attempts to dodge the question by resorting to rephrasings to describe material things and claim they are otherwise--such as the entire substrate and pattern sidetrack.

    In simple terms it's either "material," as in natural or it is supernatural.
    Last edited by Lynx_Fox; October 10th, 2011 at 03:43 PM.
    cluelusshusbund likes this.
    Meteorologist/Naturalist & Retired Soldier
    “The Holy Land is everywhere” Black Elk
    Reply With Quote  
     

  72. #71  
    Forum Masters Degree
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    UNITED KINGDOM
    Posts
    627
    Quote Originally Posted by iceaura View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by galaxender
    And can you admit that this is just a theory? And one which has not been proven yet?
    It's based on observations - one makes them with an EEG machine or one of those fancier brain scanners, if the ordinary events of one's thinking life insufficiently persuade.

    My only contribution here is to point to certain significances of the observations. That consciousness necessarily involves a pattern of patterns of neural firings (not just the registration of impinging sound in the appropriate brain area, for example, a firing pattern that can be left unconscious or brought to consciousness) has consequences for those wishing to explain it.
    Just because scientists use an EEG machine does not therefore make the theory correct.

    Since the same areas of neurons can produce either 'conscious' or 'unconscious' firing patterns, what is unique about the conscious firing patterns?
    Reply With Quote  
     

  73. #72  
    Suspended
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Posts
    1,849
    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx
    But given we don't know any other credible possibilities, it is more than likely that ideas and consciousness are nothing but matter/energy, even if we don't know the details as yet.
    Terry Pratchett has a similar scene in one of his books, in which a committee attempting to explain an oil painting has removed the paint from the canvas and sorted it into piles by color and constituents, carefully analyzing each pile, the canvas itself, and the location coordinates of the molecules of paint, searching for insight.

    Because a painting is nothing but various kinds of paint stuck to a swatch of fabric, see? They just needed to work out the details.
    Quote Originally Posted by lynx
    In simple terms it's either "material," as in natural or it is supernatural.
    Pattern is just as natural at the immaterial levels, as at the material ones - if normal use of the term "material" is recognized.

    "Material", if it is to include all of the "natural", is far from a simple term. Is a quark a "material" entity? A massless photon? An electron as described by QED? When we get to molecule we start getting consensus. Then a wall tile, definitely. Mosaic? A musical phrase? The Fourier series describing the musical phrase?

    How about the expression of statistical probability we measure as "air pressure"?

    Borrowing from Pratchett again, I get the impression - and correct me if I'm wrong here - that the people who use "nothing but" language are harboring a reductionist intuition that would have them taking a clock apart to find the tick among the pieces.

    You can't exhaustively "explain" pattern by analyzing substrate. It's logically impossible, as Bertrand Russell was not the first to notice, and it's missing the point, as Pratchett was not the first to set up. In certain very limited cases you can come close, especially patterns that do not exist over time only (simple crystals of mineral, say), but with the stuff we label "consciousness" you haven't a prayer.

    Since the same areas of neurons can produce either 'conscious' or 'unconscious' firing patterns, what is unique about the conscious firing patterns?
    A real question - something worth investigating.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  74. #73  
    Forum Masters Degree
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    UNITED KINGDOM
    Posts
    627
    Quote Originally Posted by iceaura View Post
    Since the same areas of neurons can produce either 'conscious' or 'unconscious' firing patterns, what is unique about the conscious firing patterns?
    A real question - something worth investigating.
    Worth investigating...........perhaps............ But will they ever find an answer?

    I for one would argue on a philosophical basis whether it would ever be possible to explain consciousness by pattern alone.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  75. #74  
    Moderator Moderator
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Washington State
    Posts
    8,309
    Quote Originally Posted by iceaura View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx
    But given we don't know any other credible possibilities, it is more than likely that ideas and consciousness are nothing but matter/energy, even if we don't know the details as yet.
    Terry Pratchett has a similar scene in one of his books, in which a committee attempting to explain an oil painting has removed the paint from the canvas and sorted it into piles by color and constituents, carefully analyzing each pile, the canvas itself, and the location coordinates of the molecules of paint, searching for insight.

    Because a painting is nothing but various kinds of paint stuck to a swatch of fabric, see? They just needed to work out the details.
    No I don't see it. Those patterns are just as material as the constituent parts and their study is the bulk of science. We see patterns all through the material word, in hurricanes, in volcanoes, in the arrangement of planets, in the leaf distribution of the apple tree that grows at the intersection of the Tigris and Euphrates (where the supposed Garden of Eden was) at Al-Qurnah Iraq. The study of almost ALL natural phenomena is the study of patterns; there's no reason to suppose the brain is any different or in anyway not material.

    Your example grossly misrepresents science does.
    Meteorologist/Naturalist & Retired Soldier
    “The Holy Land is everywhere” Black Elk
    Reply With Quote  
     

  76. #75  
    Suspended
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Posts
    1,849
    Quote Originally Posted by lynx
    Those patterns are just as material as the constituent parts and their study is the bulk of science.
    OK, if you want to call those kinds of patterns "material", so be it.

    But when I see people claiming that consciousness, say, is "nothing but" matter and energy, I can't help but be reminded of Pratchett's Auditors analyzing a painting as "nothing but" paint. And everyone who does this seems to bring neurons immediately into the discussion - which as entities of mass and size etc are two levels below the patterns we are now focused on as our "material", and have almost nothing to do with the question of consciousness except as they provide a substrate for the substrate that the patterns of interest form upon.

    So if you can use the language of the point-missers and overlookers and too-greedy reductionists (Dennett's term), but avoid missing the point and overlooking the central entity and over-reducing the issue to hopeless cataloging of irrelevancy, great.

    But I don't see people setting out to study this
    We see patterns all through the material word, in hurricanes, in volcanoes
    by first insisting they are nothing but matter and energy, and then talking about their atoms.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  77. #76  
    Forum Isotope Bunbury's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Colorado
    Posts
    2,590
    The physical nature of a hurricane can be related to its reduced constituents via the laws of physics. A painting reduced to flakes of paint on the floor can be explained in terms of the laws of adhesion, friction and gravity. You claim (I think) that consciousness is not a physical phenomenon so what is the point of an analogy that says its relationship to the physical brain is like the relationship between atoms and a hurricane? What laws can conceivably relate a non-physical thing to a physical thing? If we cannot even imagine what kind of laws might govern the way the brain could produce a non-physical entity then it is pointless to imagine that such a non-physical entity can exist. Consciousness simply is the brain at work.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  78. #77  
    Suspended
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Posts
    1,849
    Quote Originally Posted by bunbury
    The physical nature of a hurricane can be related to its reduced constituents via the laws of physics. A painting reduced to flakes of paint on the floor can be explained in terms of the laws of adhesion, friction and gravity. - - - - - - Consciousness simply is the brain at work.
    To the extent that you can explain an oil painting in terms of the laws of adhesion, friction, and gravity applied to dust sized flakes of paint; to the extent that you can explain a hurricane while confining yourself to the level of atoms (no thermodynamic principles allowed, for example),

    you can get closer to the ability to explain consciousness as "simply the brain" at work.

    Try the painting explanation first, see how far you get there.

    Quote Originally Posted by bunbury
    You claim (I think) that consciousness is not a physical phenomenon
    ?! Where? I have filled this thread with analogies invoking the relationships of substrates and patterns, each and every one of them physical phenomena.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  79. #78  
    Forum Isotope Bunbury's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Colorado
    Posts
    2,590
    Quote Originally Posted by iceaura View Post
    [To the extent that you can explain an oil painting in terms of the laws of adhesion, friction, and gravity applied to dust sized flakes of paint; to the extent that you can explain a hurricane while confining yourself to the level of atoms (no thermodynamic principles allowed, for example),

    you can get closer to the ability to explain consciousness as "simply the brain" at work.

    Try the painting explanation first, see how far you get there.
    The analogy is not a good one. I can easily explain a painting as the product of human consciousness working within those laws and others. You cannot explain consciousness the same way because that would be circular.

    To 'reduce' mental phenomena to functional processes via some plausibly evidenced identification is, after all, not to eliminate them, but simply to redescribe them from a third person perspective. Why such a redescription might seem threatening is an interesting question for another time.
    From the article I linked previously.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  80. #79  
    Suspended
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Posts
    1,849
    Quote Originally Posted by bunbury
    The analogy is not a good one. I can easily explain a painting as the product of human consciousness working within those laws and others.
    That won't do. As per your claim, you have to explain the oil painting while working within those laws and others yourself. You are not allowed, by your rules, to invoke anything you haven't explained thusly - no black box stuff on the premises.

    Try the hurricane from the atomic level then - without the higher level emergent stuff like thermodynamics. You will wall wham on QED, Heisenberg, Chaos, et al, in the first ten steps.

    Quote Originally Posted by bunbury link
    To 'reduce' mental phenomena to functional processes via some plausibly evidenced identification is, after all, not to eliminate them, but simply to redescribe them from a third person perspective.
    The key word there being "plausibly". To be plausible, for example, one must avoid asserting physical impossibilities.

    Of course we should proceed in our attempts to analyze mental phenomena as functional processes - but that's not the same as trying to explain them as "nothing but" a collection of neurons firing or the like. We have already observed higher order behavior than that level can explain. It's a non-starter.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  81. #80  
    Forum Masters Degree
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Posts
    597
    I went to a lecture today given by a Giulio Tononi MD Ph.D, that was about his "Integrated information theory of consciousness".

    Dr. Tononi is a psychiatrist and neuroscientist. It was mostly over my head; however, what I remember is that Tononi says that information is an experience. Each experience is information that is different from other experiences, and cannot be reduced to "independent parts".

    Consciousness is then "integrated information".

    Unconsciousness, can occur by either losing information, or from losing integration of information.

    Parts of the brain that are "not conscious", do not have a structure that integrates them enough with other parts of the brain sufficiently for consciousness to occur. Thus, unconscious parts of the brain (like the hypothalamus) affect unconscious processes like balance etc.

    If you are unconscious or asleep, then a stimulation on your hand might light up a localized part of the brain just like when you are awake; however, the integration with other parts of the brain does not occur (other parts don't "light up"), so you stay unconscious.

    Dr. Tononi also has a theory of sleep that involves synaptic homeostasis, so that sleep is necessary to balance out what happens to synapses when you are awake. However, he did not talk much about that.
    Last edited by dedo; October 18th, 2011 at 07:18 PM.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  82. #81  
    Forum Ph.D.
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Posts
    985
    I have only skimmed the thread so someone may have already mentioned this, but a neuron is not just a switch. It is a complex living cell. It does not just fire. It decides to fire. There is a range of input stimuli that do not cause firing and a range of stimuli that always cause firing and there are a range of stimuli that sometimes cause firing. This last group is the crucial one for the exploration of consciouness and decision making.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  83. #82  
    Forum Sophomore cluelusshusbund's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Indina USA
    Posts
    193
    Quote Originally Posted by Sealeaf View Post
    I have only skimmed the thread so someone may have already mentioned this, but a neuron is not just a switch. It is a complex living cell. It does not just fire. It decides to fire. There is a range of input stimuli that do not cause firing and a range of stimuli that always cause firing and there are a range of stimuli that sometimes cause firing. This last group is the crucial one for the exploration of consciouness and decision making.
    Does any of that neuron activity allow for free decision makin... ie... free will (uninfluenced choise).???
    Go here an play the "Guess Game".!!!

    http://www.thescienceforum.com/gener...uess-what.html

    When the curent game is guessed... post anuther photo for us to... "Guess what this is" :-)
    Reply With Quote  
     

  84. #83  
    Forum Bachelors Degree
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Arizona
    Posts
    418
    I read through all of these posts and most reduced consciousness to neurons firing which is not a satisfying answer. Then we get to the bottom of the posts and someone explains what is actually been tested and says neurons is a complex living cell - It decides to fire - a range of stimuli given to specific neurons don't ever respond, some always respond, and some sometimes respond. This explanation creates a different slant to all of the previous replies and I hope this was is the accurate one. In addition to our brain, our stomach lining is abundant in neuron cells - does this mean our stomach can think too?
    Reply With Quote  
     

  85. #84  
    Moderator Moderator
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Washington State
    Posts
    8,309
    does this mean our stomach can think too?
    In short yes. Many parts of our body are capable of doing independent "thinking," as they at least control parts or all of their own functions. Of course it takes from more than than that to become conscious.
    Meteorologist/Naturalist & Retired Soldier
    “The Holy Land is everywhere” Black Elk
    Reply With Quote  
     

  86. #85  
    New Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Posts
    1
    Hi-
    My name is Julio and I am a current college student from Colorado. One of our assignments is to post to a public forum about one of the assignments we did this previous semester.
    The main topic that I wrote about was science's general potential to bring peace to divisive parts of the world, if people let it. The focus of my thesis is that, in our western world, there has been so many years of public defacing of the name of science that a big majority of the population has a skewed view. Religious and political leaders have made the public believe what they want for their own benefit, regardless if what they say holds any concrete foundation in truth. I think that if the perception of the masses could be shifted, many people would see the potential scientific discovery would have to bring people together.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  87. #86  
    Forum Sophomore cluelusshusbund's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Indina USA
    Posts
    193
    Quote Originally Posted by jgarcia868 View Post
    I think that if the perception of the masses could be shifted, many people would see the potential scientific discovery would have to bring people together.
    Welcom... new person Julio.!!!
    How do you define "bring people together".???
    Go here an play the "Guess Game".!!!

    http://www.thescienceforum.com/gener...uess-what.html

    When the curent game is guessed... post anuther photo for us to... "Guess what this is" :-)
    Reply With Quote  
     

  88. #87  
    Brassica oleracea Strange's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    喫茶店
    Posts
    16,502
    Quote Originally Posted by iceaura View Post
    Terry Pratchett has a similar scene in one of his books, in which a committee attempting to explain an oil painting has removed the paint from the canvas and sorted it into piles by color and constituents, carefully analyzing each pile, the canvas itself, and the location coordinates of the molecules of paint, searching for insight.

    Because a painting is nothing but various kinds of paint stuck to a swatch of fabric, see? They just needed to work out the details.
    That analogy seems to me to support the materialistic view: the painting does consist only of paint and canvas. There wasn't some mysterious "essence" that disappeared as they took the painting apart. The "beauty" of the painting is an emergent property of the canvas, paint and observer. Why shouldn't consciousness be the same?
    Reply With Quote  
     

  89. #88 The main question 
    HTW
    HTW is offline
    New Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Netherlands
    Posts
    4
    Quote Originally Posted by galexander View Post
    'Can Scientific Materialism Sufficiently Explain Human Consciousness?'
    So, in my first post on these forums I will bring back this slightly derailed thread to the main question. Can Scientific Materialism Sufficiently Explain Human Consciousness?

    The quick answer is no. To elaborate: Not at this moment. The studies some of the users refer to are relational studies. The only thing those studies show is that certain neurons get excited or are inhibited when the subject has a conscious experience or is doing some kind of task which involves some part of the consciousness. What it doesn't say is if those patterns of neuronal activity is a representation of what we call consciousness or if it is the cause of consciousness. The only solid conclusion that can be made is that it tends to co-occur together with conscious thought.
    To answer the question if it EVER can be explained by scientific materialism; I can't tell you that. I saw one post which used the phrase similar to "not yet". That is very unscientific. The implication is made that there already is such a thing, you only just have to find it. If science would work that way, it would be an easy job. NEVER use the word "yet" if you expect something to be found in the future.

    Perhaps Human Consciousness can never be explained by our current definition of Scientific Materialism, perhaps it can be explained by the definition of Scientific Materialism in 100 years, perhaps we we will find out that behind this neural activity and conscious experience there is some sort of substance or essence which current religions call "soul".

    All these cases could come to pass, how ridiculous they may sound in the current context. As a scientist, you have to keep an open mind and try to think out of the current dominant paradigm, although impossible.

    The point is that we have no idea about cause and effect in the workings of the brain. It could be that neural impulses are the start of everything, or it could be totally something else, perhaps consciousness has nothing to do with the brain. There is just not enough data to make a hard statement.
    Markus Hanke likes this.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  90. #89  
    Moderator Moderator Markus Hanke's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Ireland
    Posts
    7,172
    Quote Originally Posted by HTW View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by galexander View Post
    'Can Scientific Materialism Sufficiently Explain Human Consciousness?'
    So, in my first post on these forums I will bring back this slightly derailed thread to the main question. Can Scientific Materialism Sufficiently Explain Human Consciousness?

    The quick answer is no. To elaborate: Not at this moment. The studies some of the users refer to are relational studies. The only thing those studies show is that certain neurons get excited or are inhibited when the subject has a conscious experience or is doing some kind of task which involves some part of the consciousness. What it doesn't say is if those patterns of neuronal activity is a representation of what we call consciousness or if it is the cause of consciousness. The only solid conclusion that can be made is that it tends to co-occur together with conscious thought.
    To answer the question if it EVER can be explained by scientific materialism; I can't tell you that. I saw one post which used the phrase similar to "not yet". That is very unscientific. The implication is made that there already is such a thing, you only just have to find it. If science would work that way, it would be an easy job. NEVER use the word "yet" if you expect something to be found in the future.

    Perhaps Human Consciousness can never be explained by our current definition of Scientific Materialism, perhaps it can be explained by the definition of Scientific Materialism in 100 years, perhaps we we will find out that behind this neural activity and conscious experience there is some sort of substance or essence which current religions call "soul".

    All these cases could come to pass, how ridiculous they may sound in the current context. As a scientist, you have to keep an open mind and try to think out of the current dominant paradigm, although impossible.

    The point is that we have no idea about cause and effect in the workings of the brain. It could be that neural impulses are the start of everything, or it could be totally something else, perhaps consciousness has nothing to do with the brain. There is just not enough data to make a hard statement.
    My thoughts precisely. A well formulated, intelligent response to a difficult question...I hope we will see more posts from you in the near future.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  91. #90  
    Suspended
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Posts
    1,849
    Quote Originally Posted by strange
    That analogy seems to me to support the materialistic view: the painting does consist only of paint and canvas. There wasn't some mysterious "essence" that disappeared as they took the painting apart. The "beauty" of the painting is an emergent property of the canvas, paint and observer. Why shouldn't consciousness be the same?
    If the painting consisted only of paint and canvas, it would still exist as long as the paint and canvas were present - in a dustpile on the floor, or any other form.

    In fact the painting dos not consist of paint and canvas at all, essentially - that's merely the chosen substrate, and the painting is essentially independent of its substrate. If one were to discover that it was actually acrylic on wallboard, rather than oil on canvas, it would remain the same painting.

    Consciousness is, as far as we can tell and in agreement with all available observations and data, an emergent property of a substrate supported by a series of levels of substrate supported at bottom by the physical structure of the brain. That does not support the materialism of the OP of this thread: the words "nothing but" or "merely" do not appear. "Emergent properties", or as I prefer "patterns supported by a substrate", are not to be underestimated by those desiring comprehension. They are as real as any substrate, they exist and have influence independently of substrate.

    Dreams and thoughts exist, choices and decisions exist. They are no more illusory than rocks and trees.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  92. #91  
    Brassica oleracea Strange's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    喫茶店
    Posts
    16,502
    Quote Originally Posted by iceaura View Post
    In fact the painting dos not consist of paint and canvas at all, essentially - that's merely the chosen substrate, and the painting is essentially independent of its substrate. If one were to discover that it was actually acrylic on wallboard, rather than oil on canvas, it would remain the same painting.
    Or it would be a different painting of the same thing. But either way, there is no evanescent "stuff" that is added to the "substrate" to create the picture; it is just material organized in a particular way.

    Consciousness is, as far as we can tell and in agreement with all available observations and data, an emergent property of a substrate supported by a series of levels of substrate supported at bottom by the physical structure of the brain.
    Yep. It is just a result of all that matter organized in a particular way. There is no immaterial extra "21 grams" that has to be added to make it all work. Emergent properties of a material substrate sounds like materialism to me.

    the words "nothing but" or "merely" do not appear
    I took those sort of phrases to be the usual attempt to argue by incredulity. "There must be more to it!" Must there?
    Lynx_Fox likes this.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  93. #92  
    Forum Cosmic Wizard icewendigo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Posts
    2,148
    Sorry for not having time to read through the many posts, but heres my take on the issue

    As always, the words/labels we use are convenient but do not represent reality, "Consciousness" is a label like "White" which we oppose to "black" and can miss the grey nuance/complexity/associated-context, thereby making the very thing it describes harder to understand (from one perspective).

    I suspect that newborn babies though 100% "human", do NOT experience Consciousness as we experience it, if thats the case this is imo a clue.

    1- detection of the environment can be useful for organism(specially for mobile ones), even if not self aware a reflex action is better than nothing
    2- from that some organisms gradually developed improved detection and more complex interpretation of signals
    3- interpretation of signals is acquired and based on patterns, that is a pattern is recorded and compared to other recorded patterns, this gradually shapes the interpretation template. A more complex template allows better/nuance/varied/adapted perception/detection/reaction eventually allowing various capabilities such as anticipation/prediction of potential events, knowing something(friend/foe) no longer perceived/visible still exists even if not perceived but is located behind a tree. So you have the ability to create a virtual creature/object you do not perceive based on patterns you have(there's a baby behind that rock). So you gain an awareness of objects and individuals in the environment, and gain the ability to imagine, create something in your mind based on the patterns/templates you have that does not necessarily exist at the moment you imagine it.
    4- This also allows you to imagine "yourself" and better imagine/formulate/project your actions (if I step of the ledge I will fall, if I fall I will hit the ground, hitting the ground fast hurts. Or, if I shake that tree some fruits can fall off and I can eat them).
    5- So I think there might be a relationship between the ability to imagine something and the ability to imagine yourself (as I stated I dont see consciousness as black and white, Im not saying imagination/projection is the consciousness or the "white" but that this part is further along on the consciousness scale for lack of better terms), imagination is from one perspective interaction between patterns in the brain that are not a result/interpretation of an external stimulus but an internal process, consciousness is similar except that it interacts with other interactions dues to stimulus (or hallucinations/dreams).
    Reply With Quote  
     

  94. #93  
    Forum Isotope Bunbury's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Colorado
    Posts
    2,590
    Quote Originally Posted by iceaura View Post
    "Emergent properties", or as I prefer "patterns supported by a substrate", are not to be underestimated by those desiring comprehension. They are as real as any substrate, they exist and have influence independently of substrate.
    If you want to use the term emergent, then let's consider other emergent properties: Digestion certainly exists and is an emergent property of the stomach, gut and various chemicals.

    There is nothing extra or mysterious about digestion and we readily accept that. Why insist that there is something extra about consciousness?
    Reply With Quote  
     

  95. #94  
    Suspended
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Posts
    1,849
    Quote Originally Posted by strange
    If you want to use the term emergent,
    I specifically noted my preference for other terms - I do not want to use the term emergent.

    but carrying on:
    Quote Originally Posted by strange
    Or it would be a different painting of the same thing.
    It would be the exact same picture - your information about it would have changed, but not the thing itself.
    Quote Originally Posted by strange
    But either way, there is no evanescent "stuff" that is added to the "substrate" to create the picture; it is just material organized in a particular way.
    The organization, the painting itself, is the "stuff" - it isn't added from outside necessarily, but it isn't "merely paint" either - in fact, the painting as you first look at it could be a pattern within any number of quite different substrates. It might not be paint at all, and the label "painting" a bit off. This doesn't matter.
    Quote Originally Posted by strange
    Emergent properties of a material substrate sounds like materialism to me.
    I have no objection to calling such a view "materialism", as long as the nature of "material" is sufficiently expanded to include the patterns at issue, and not confined to, say, the patterns of quanta and quark we label "atoms" or the patterns of mathematical chance we label "quanta". These higher level patterns have no mass, or necessary size, or necessary location, or necessary given time of existence, or energy, or entropy, or wavelength, for example. So the notion of "material" has to be expanded to include the massless, timeless, dimensionless, etc.

    Commonly, it isn't, and the cutoff for "material" is something that has dimension and mass and observer independence so forth. The painting is "reduced" to some level the naive materialist feels comfortable regarding as "material" (based on childhood intuition, usually) and all higher level existence is held to be illusion or something like. Patterns are only "material" up to a certain level (and down to, often).

    That misleads.

    Quote Originally Posted by bunbury
    There is nothing extra or mysterious about digestion and we readily accept that. Why insist that there is something extra about consciousness?
    So on the one hand "digestion", a pattern, emerges from a physical substrate and is something extra in the world, and on the other an emergence such as "consciousness" is not something extra?

    Digestion does not take place in a dead worm, for example - yet all the chemicals etc are present, in the correct arrangement, at least for a while. The substrate is not the pattern, the pattern is not the substrate - especially not "merely" the substrate.
    Last edited by iceaura; December 16th, 2011 at 08:37 PM.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  96. #95  
    Brassica oleracea Strange's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    喫茶店
    Posts
    16,502
    Quote Originally Posted by iceaura View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by strange
    Or it would be a different painting of the same thing.
    It would be the exact same picture - your information about it would have changed, but not the thing itself.
    No. It would be a different picture. It would look different, it would probably have a different effect on the viewer. (But that isn't really relevant to the discussion).

    I have no objection to calling such a view "materialism", as long as the nature of "material" is sufficiently expanded to include the patterns at issue
    Ah, I think I see where you are coming from. So, the counter-argument to materialism is often made up of questions like "can a rock think", focusing on the purely material aspects. But of course the organization of the material is important as well. After all a rock can't compute or fly; and yet people opposed to materialism don't object to the idea that a computer or a plane may be completely materialistic. The organization of the material is equally important for a motor car, a painting or a conscious being.

    I think we agree except on the best way to express the ideas? (And the essential nature of a painting!)
    Reply With Quote  
     

  97. #96  
    Forum Isotope Bunbury's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Colorado
    Posts
    2,590
    Quote Originally Posted by iceaura View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by bunbury
    There is nothing extra or mysterious about digestion and we readily accept that. Why insist that there is something extra about consciousness?
    So on the one hand "digestion", a pattern, emerges from a physical substrate and is something extra in the world, and on the other an emergence such as "consciousness" is not something extra?

    Digestion does not take place in a dead worm, for example - yet all the chemicals etc are present, in the correct arrangement, at least for a while. The substrate is not the pattern, the pattern is not the substrate - especially not "merely" the substrate.
    Then the argument is just about semantics.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  98. #97  
    Brassica oleracea Strange's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    喫茶店
    Posts
    16,502
    Quote Originally Posted by iceaura View Post
    Digestion does not take place in a dead worm, for example - yet all the chemicals etc are present, in the correct arrangement, at least for a while.
    Although while they are still there in the correct "arrangement" digestion will continue, even if the worm is dead.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  99. #98  
    Suspended
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Posts
    1,849
    Quote Originally Posted by strange
    No. It would be a different picture. It would look different, it would probably have a different effect on the viewer.
    There's only one picture assumed, by assumption, in the argument - it does not become a different picture because its substrate is discovered to be different than expected, was the observation. The independence of pattern from substrate, was the simple fact illustrated thereby.

    A more direct observation would simply note that the painting is not altered by the painter selecting one or another of various duplicate tubes of blue paint for a given brushstroke - I was just avoiding an anticipated bafflement at such bridges as being forced to understand that no tubes of paint - regardless of color, composition, etc - are the same "material" as any other tube of paint, until you are taking such higher level properties as "color" or abstract chemical composition to be your new level of "material" for your "materialism".
    Quote Originally Posted by strange
    Although while they are still there in the correct "arrangement" digestion will continue, even if the worm is dead.
    No, it won't. Digestion is a process, things change over time in a particular way. Deprive the arrangement of necessary pattern input, the process of necessary feedback and response, etc, and it will not proceed. Consider a worm frozen in liquid nitrogen - all the molecules supporting the pattern "digestion" are perfectly arranged, and yet digestion does not occur.
    Quote Originally Posted by bunbury
    Then the argument is just about semantics.
    It's still a central and key argument - are you planning to expand the ordinary conceptions of "material" enough to allow yourself to label (semantically) the study of high level mental patterns as materialism and the patterns involved material entities? That would be a significant and profound change in the concept of "materialism" otherwise visible here. I am willing to go along with that, but I suspect you haven't realized what you would be letting in the door.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  100. #99  
    Brassica oleracea Strange's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    喫茶店
    Posts
    16,502
    Quote Originally Posted by iceaura View Post
    There's only one picture assumed, by assumption, in the argument - it does not become a different picture because its substrate is discovered to be different than expected, was the observation. The independence of pattern from substrate, was the simple fact illustrated thereby.
    Well, I would say you have a too simpistic view of the nature of a "picture". You cannot create an picture identical to an oil painting using watercolours. But it is all beside the point.

    Quote Originally Posted by strange
    Although while they are still there in the correct "arrangement" digestion will continue, even if the worm is dead.
    No, it won't. Digestion is a process, things change over time in a particular way. Deprive the arrangement of necessary pattern input, the process of necessary feedback and response, etc, and it will not proceed. Consider a worm frozen in liquid nitrogen - all the molecules supporting the pattern "digestion" are perfectly arranged, and yet digestion does not occur.
    Well, duh, if it was dead and frozen. But you didn't say that. Any other arbitrary post-hoc changes you want to add?

    It's still a central and key argument - are you planning to expand the ordinary conceptions of "material" enough to allow yourself to label (semantically) the study of high level mental patterns as materialism and the patterns involved material entities?
    The difference, surely, is between consciousness as the result of a material substrate organized in an appropriate way (and not frozen) or that material plus some metaphysical "stuff" (e.g. a soul).

    but I suspect you haven't realized what you would be letting in the door.
    Which is?
    Reply With Quote  
     

  101. #100  
    Moderator Moderator
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Washington State
    Posts
    8,309
    Quote Originally Posted by Bunbury View Post

    Then the argument is just about semantics.
    Pretty much and attempt to reduce the conversation into the ill defined terms "substrate" and "pattern" using reductionism to obfuscate the transition from science to non-scientific, and unverifiable philosophy (i.e. mental masturbation).

    The material/natural world of science includes "substrates" and "patterns" of all things that can be measured.
    Meteorologist/Naturalist & Retired Soldier
    “The Holy Land is everywhere” Black Elk
    Reply With Quote  
     

Similar Threads

  1. HUMAN ELIMINATION FROM SCIENTIFIC ADVANCES !!!
    By Shniku in forum General Discussion
    Replies: 5
    Last Post: October 1st, 2011, 10:15 PM
  2. Replies: 10
    Last Post: August 9th, 2011, 12:13 AM
  3. Is there a sufficiently strong set of materials to ...
    By VnnE4aEXxfhkrjPX in forum Mechanical, Structural and Chemical Engineering
    Replies: 0
    Last Post: July 14th, 2011, 12:52 AM
  4. Types of Human Personality or Human Character
    By xingha in forum Behavior and Psychology
    Replies: 0
    Last Post: October 13th, 2010, 12:35 AM
  5. scientific wording V scientific equations
    By streamSystems in forum Physics
    Replies: 42
    Last Post: October 6th, 2007, 01:50 PM
Bookmarks
Bookmarks
Posting Permissions
  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •