04-25-13, 07:39 AM #161
I am quite aware that Plato would have supported the idea that the math correctly describing some observations was more real than the observed things. That was the reason he constructed his famous story about people living in a cave with shaft of sunlight casting shadows of the reality of Earth above on a wall of the cave. Expert scholars in the cave had evolved predictive theory about how the shadows would move, etc. and the shadows were believed by all in the cave to be the true reality.
I.e. before opening your link, I guessed from "Plato" in the title that is would be an argument that particles were like the shadows on the cave wall, and not the true mathematical reality creating those particle shadows.
I did, however, open your file and read the first 1/5, then skipped some and skimmed the end. Thanks for it, but I donīt time, and in some parts background, for detailed consideration of it. Our argument about what is real and what is just descriptive calculations is ~2,500 years old and not likely to be resolved soon so I agree to drop it.
04-25-13, 08:07 AM #162
Iīd like to answer your question:
Most of this computer is a fantastic parallel processor far more powerful than any man has even imagined; However, as man can only do one of many possible things at any one time, the results of hundreds of options considered below the conscious level, all in parallel, must be filtered down to one set of instructions for controlling the muscles of his body, like the tongue when speaking or legs when are running. That is why part of the activity of the brain takes place in a serial computer / processor too. We only have knowledge of it, and certain aspects of the activity of that serial processor we call consciousness.
I.e. consciousness, qualia, experiences, etc. are all we have access to of the activity of this fantastic computer. Some, I think more accurately than they realize, speak of the "stream of consciousness." It is a unique, not parallel, flow of information, but the serial part is only a very minor part of the brainīs processing. Most modern cognitive scientists follow the Churchlandsīs suggestion that brain activity can be described as neural data/ information transformation / or calculations.
SUMMARY: Consciousness is NOT made of matter, but generated by computational activity in the serial part of the worldīs most advanced computer - the human brain. Another, obvious observation: If consciousness were made of matter, it would not cease to exist when your body is in deep sleep. Again: consciousness is made from part of the serial computational activity of the brain matter.
04-25-13, 09:58 AM #163
The "easy problems" of consciousness that Chalmers lists have primitive precursors (including memory, as an addition). Particles have the capacity to "detect" -- even weakly interacting ones eventually respond to the presence of something (conforming to the effects of "gravity" if nothing else). Organizations like atoms are building-blocks that certainly lend themselves to the mechanistic, microphysical interactions of biological bodies that eventually build-up into information processing and bodily control. This just amounts to "consciousness" as behavior, another assemblage of complex actions. Hardly emergent in a radical sense of lacking anything primitively similar beforehand to develop from.
Which then leaves "experience" hanging there as the only item of consciousness that is apparently truly brute -- from the standpoint of one group or another's desires, anyway. Sure, we can correlate these "showings" of image or sound or touch to patterns of activity in a brain; but such chains of electrochemical events cease qualifying as potential precursors beyond the skull and the cosmos abroad, returning to the dullness usually ascribed to them by physics or another discipline. Or "dull" in the sense of indulging in the absence and void that a rock stereotypically upholds. Not even possessing a cognition-less, latent capacity for elemental and arbitrary manifestations from feral and accidental linkages and disturbances out there in the less organized matter "wilderness". Even nuclear fission has been granted permission to have randomly happened in the past in the Oklo Mine of Gabon, minus both the quasi-deliberate guidance of biological evolution hovering overhead and the full version of deliberate intent from sapient organisms it spits out.
04-25-13, 10:35 AM #164
In fact I go even further - not only are all feeligs and qualia just information, not physical items, but even "you" are just that information too - not a physical body.
But yeah, I agree pretty emphatically when the words 'I' and 'you' are being used to refer to some sort of transcendental subject. (The hypothetical inner experiencer that's supposedly missing in philosophy's "zombies".) I don't believe that such a thing exists. That's why I've argued against the 'inner-eye' model in earlier threads, against the idea that there is some little copy of ourselves... what is it, our supernatural soul?... that rides around inside our heads, looking out through our physical eyes. (Or conversely, looking at some inner mind-generated TV-monitor image that's thought to be a representation of the world.) I take a rather Buddhist-style deconstructive approach towards the idea of this inner 'self', I guess.
* only thing Not fully agreed to is: "The drive records the text and presumably its meaning is recorded in there as well." There is no meaning in binary bits. It would be a strange / unusal case but the same set of bits could mean life expectancies to one humam and daily variations of Apple shair prices to another. Only humans add the "meaning" - it is not in the bits on the disk. Iīm glad you said "presumably" as that protects form error.
I was just suggesting that if we take a computer drive apart and inventory all of the sort of constituents that physics recognizes, we aren't going to find that any of physics' fundamental entities correspond one-to-one with any of the verbal or textual symbols in the string, or with whatever message those symbols might encode. That doesn't mean that the text and message aren't stored on the drive. It just means that the text and message aren't the sort of entities that physics studies. And that in turn doesn't imply that text and message are supernatural entities either. It just means that they are stored on the disk in terms of the form, structure or configurations of the physical entities.
04-25-13, 12:30 PM #165
Now I find myself arguing with a quote from David Chalmers.
Originally Posted by MR quoting Chalmers
The really hard problem of consciousness is the problem of experience.
He's already addressed such things as: the ability to discriminate, categorize, and react to environmental stimuli; the integration of information by a cognitive system; the reportability of mental states; the ability of a system to access its own internal states; the focus of attention; the deliberate control of behavior; and the difference between wakefulness and sleep.
So what does the word 'experience' refer to that his inventory of "easy problems" has supposedly left out?
When we think and perceive, there is a whir of information-processing, but there is also a subjective aspect.
This subjective aspect is experience. When we see, for example, we experience visual sensations: the felt quality of redness
The functionalists that he opposes can already address why red occurs as a visual state (not audio, tactual or verbal). They can address why this visual state seems to have its own unique quality that can be visually recognized from instance to instance. They can explain why it occupies geometrical areas of the visual field. And on and on. So... what's being left out?
My suspicion is that nothing is. It's like explaining 'red' to a blind man or Frank Jackson's 'Mary black-and-white' problem. I suspect that perhaps everything that there is to 'red' can be explained in words. There nothing left out. What that verbal description seems to leave out, the thing that can't be communicated verbally to a blind man, is actually doing it, actually assuming precisely those visual states that Chalmers has already dismissed as "easy" (and accessing the information that one is doing so, which is what people with "blind-sight" seem to lack).
What unites all of these states is that there is something it is like to be in them. All of them are states of experience.
I don't think that Chalmers can do it. He seems to be talking about something that's pretty much ineffable there. Something that's seemingly obvious to him in his own experience, but something that can't possibly be expressed or communicated in words. (Because everything expressed in words devolves into an instance of an "easy problem".) So this "experience" of his isn't something that can be communicated to another person. It's a matter of personal intuition, at best.
It's starting to look a lot like accounts of religious experience.
04-25-13, 03:09 PM #166
For example assume two brothers, A & B, share a computer, each able to access only their own files. A has a file with numbers like 28, 30, 27, ... etc. which for him, a weatherman, are the peak centigrade temperatures in his set of 30 cities. By chance B also has a file with exactly the same 28, 30, 27 ... set of numbers but to him, a doctor, they are the years of life his 30 AIDs patients lived after being diagnosed before dying.
SUMMARY: There is no meaning in either file with numbers 28, 30, 27 ... only humans add the meanings and that includes text files too.
04-25-13, 04:58 PM #167
If there's anything in your words that restricts the range of my possible interpretations to a smaller set of correct ones, then we seem to be back at the idea of the words possessing some kind of meaning again.
It's kind of ironic that you criticized the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy because the word "Plato" is found in its url, when you turn right around and propose ideas that seem very reminiscent of Plato's theory of anamnesis from the Meno. (Anamnesis is the theory that all learning is actually recollection. Occasions in which we seem to be learning new material, are actually our recollection of things that we were unaware that we already knew.)
04-25-13, 05:49 PM #168My suspicion is that nothing is. It's like explaining 'red' to a blind man or Frank Jackson's 'Mary black-and-white' problem. I suspect that perhaps everything that there is to 'red' can be explained in words. There nothing left out.
grasp it as clearly as you do. Remember now, I don't even have the experience of color. How are you possibly going to define red for me without me having any subjective experience of it whatsoever? Red is an accessible internal state we can report on? Fine. But that doesn't tell me about red's redness. Blue is an internal state too. How is your description going to explain to me red such that I will understand how it is different from blue? That is what is left out of your verbal description. The one thing about red that is necessary to understanding it but which cannot be relayed in any objective description.
04-25-13, 06:06 PM #169Agreed if your concept is that the "viewer" is separate from the simulation, but there is no need of a separate "viewer" if the viewer is within / part of / the simulation. Then no homunculus is required and anyway the separate viewing homunculus has the same problem, you speak of. It cant have experiences qualia etc. unless it has a viewing homunculus, etc. etc. - an infinite regress is no solution.
04-25-13, 06:23 PM #170
But to be honest and clear, I do subscribe to the idea that we do have some quite specific innate knowledge. - For example, I think Chomsky is correct that we have some flexible innate knowledge about possible language structures, that with exposure to our native tongue, does get set to one of the possible innate options. Also it is well established that as soon as babyīs eyes work, he knows innately the proper arrangement of the parts of a face (eyes, nose mouth), and several, but not all, of the Gestalt laws (I forget which must be learned) and a few other things, like the "virtual or visual cliff" experiment show as soon as he can crawl*, but most knowledge, I think is learned. Perhaps you can tell what I posted that make you think I believe otherwise - that large amounts of knowledge are only drawn out for our innate store instead of learned.
* it also shows that vision dominates tactile experience when they conflict.
Last edited by Billy T; 04-25-13 at 07:39 PM.
04-25-13, 08:30 PM #171
* If something total unexpected and significant happens the simulation is / must be/ revised, ASAP. For large revisions, like a bomb exploding near your body, the simulation is paused and then re-started after the major revision is done (in about 300ms or slightly less). The re-start of the simulation produces the EEG signal called P300, (P as it is a postive going electrical spike) but often is referred to as the "startle spike."
P300 is strongest over the parietal lobes where the RTS is executing as shown, mainly by the sad consequences of a major parietal stroke. - Half the world, contra lateral to the stroke, for such a person ceases to exist.** This disease is called "unilateral neglect" as if not a major stroke, “ceases to exist” is a description too strong. For example a hungry person does not realizing that there is still food on half his plate, etc. so is considered to suffer form “neglect.” Briefly during that small fraction of a second needed for a major revision "you" donīt exist just like “you” donīt for much longer periods when in deep, dreamless sleep.
** I spent several days testing a nice old lady victim of sever case of unilateral neglect. I was able to prove that her color discrimination between red and green functioned well, even up to and thru correct activation of her lexicon. I.e. she performed way above chance when forced to guess which was the color of the dot displayed briefly with a tone, even though she could not consciously see it in her totally neglected half world.
04-25-13, 08:50 PM #172No you still donīt get what I am saying. Perhaps because you have too fixed in mind the concept of a display that must be watched? No the viewer is NOT a simulation but a creation. The viewer is part of a multi facetted computation.
04-26-13, 12:34 AM #173
The link was to an entry in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy that discusses, among other things, both particle and field interpretations of quantum field theory, and it references the work and opinions of several theoretical physicists on the matter.
Now, what do we mean when we say "interpretation"? Well, we mean pretty much the same thing we mean when we are talking about interpretations of quantum mechanics, such as Copenhagen or Many-worlds or de BroglieBohm or whatever. Each camp has a number of good reasons for favouring their particular interpretation, but they are, nonetheless, to some degree at least, speculating. They're interpreting mathematical models and saying "hey, I reckon we can infer from this, and that, the way reality might really actually work". And sometimes, they have really really strong convictions about it. Similarly, within the realm of QFT, some people are convinced that particles are fundamental, and others that fields are fundamental. And all I have said in this discussion is:
"most physicists, who obviously embrace a reductionist methodology themselves, are quite happy to take very seriously the idea that it is the field and not the particle that is most fundamental."
How do I know this? Because I keep encountering the view everywhere I look. Yes, it is somewhat speculative. And maybe you can take issue with my use of the word "most". But aside from that, my assertion was accurate. In fact I'd be happy to go back and replace "most" with "some" if you like, even though I think I have good reasons for stating it the way I did, since even some of those who favour the particle interpretation seem to take the field interpretation reasonably seriously as well. It doesn't really matter to me, since the point I wanted to make would stand regardless.
Now seriously, do you think my stance is reasonable, or not? If so, we can move on. If not, demonstrate it. This has gone on for too long already.
04-26-13, 03:45 AM #174
Maybe I'm thinking in the right sort of direction, maybe I'm way off target, but at the very least there certainly seems to be room for such a possibility.
Another, obvious observation: If consciousness were made of matter, it would not cease to exist when your body is in deep sleep.
Remember, the suggestion here isn't that consciousness is in every piece of matter, merely that what it's made out of is. Also remember that I'm not presenting a theory of how consciousness emerges here. At most, it's a vague theory about one aspect of why it can emerge. As such, it's not even necessarily incompatible with your view, except to the extent that it recognizes a need for additional phenomenality as a base ingredient for any theory of consciousness to get off the ground.
04-26-13, 07:05 AM #175
I would disagree if by "dance" you are referring to physical motion, but not if you are referring to conscious patterns of Chemo-electrical discharges. After all every thing else I do, such as I just did move my fingers to hit keys on my laptopīs keyboard is the direct result of a quite specific chemical-electrical dance in my brain. Why not consciousness too? (And I think even the creation of "me.") It is rare, but a few people create "me1" and "me2" not at the same time but do have very different personalities, memory sets. Etc. This is a good piece of evidence that "Iīm" not just a physical body but a creation of mental activity - a pattern of chemical-electrical information processing.
My RTS get a little more detailed about this "dance" - tell why it evolved: Great survival advantage over those that processed as modern cognitive scientist think we do - perception "emerges" after many sequential stages of neural computational transforms of the sensory input data. Those with a real time, rather than 0.2 or even 0.3 second delay in their understanding of a thrown rockīs location, even if bigger, stronger and bigger brain had little change of ducking it in a battle. Why one small group, the first to have developed the RTS, "exploded" out of Africa about 50K years ago and killed off all other humanoids.
Unilateral neglect, (caused by a parietal stroke) and phantom limbs being psychologically just as real as that actual remain limbs are the flip sides of the same coin. In first case the stroke has destroyed the ability to construct in oneīs internal representation part of the external world. In the second case that missing limb is still being constructed in that internal representation, even though it no longer physically exists.
In the first days after stroke that caused serious unilateral neglect, the victim has not yet consciously learned that he for example has a right leg as it is no longer in his internal representation of himself. When he notices that right leg in his hospital bed, he may call the nurse and complain that someoneīs leg has been left in his bed.* Even if weeks later he is given a circle drawn on sheet of paper and pencil and asked to put the numbers 1 thru 12 on it to represent a clock, they will almost always be place only on one side of the circle - the other side does not exist for him - that parietal brain tissue no longer constructs the internal representation of half the world.
People with a phantom arm, for example have learned that it does not exist even through it to them is just as real as the other remaining arm. In some case the phantom arm stick straight out from their torso. If for some reason the must quickly run thru a doorway, as they do so, they automatically twist their torso to keep the phantom arm from banging into the door frame. If just calmly waking thru the doorway, they use their learned knowledge and donīt twist their torso. They generally have little control over the phantom and it often has a fist clenched so hard that the non-existing nail are digging into their non-existing palm and causing pain, which is unfortunately very real. Pain is a creation of the brain, in response to perceived conditions that would be damaging - like perceived finger nails digging into a perceived palm. About 15 years ago, exploiting the fact that vision dominates in humans an often successful "mirror cure" for this pain was developed. Patient sticks his real arm and looks into a vertical box at the mirror side. He sees his non-existing arm as the left/right reversal of the real arm in the mirror. He then unclenches his real fist and sees the phantom fist unclench also. In many cases the pain stops!
* Complaints that a leg has been left in the bed are sufficiently common, that one can probably find them in the literature, but there are anedotical reports too, showing how unilateral neglect can distort oneīs beliefs etc. My favorite is the following exchange between a doctor and recent victim about to leave the hospital:
MD, after taking the forearm of patient not believed by patient to be his and moving it so patientīs hand was in front of his face:
"Whose hand is this?
MD, after sliding his grip down forearm to wrist and patientīs hand:
"Then whose hand is this one?
MD, after placing his other hand on top of the two hands already said by patient to belong to the MD:
"Then whose hand is on top of the other two?"
MD: "Donīt you think it strange that I have three hands?"
Patient: "No - You should as you have three arms."
A common saying is: "Seeing is believing," but more powerful than "seeing" is what is, or is not, internally represented - that is your only perceived world. In one case, the non-existing phantom is perceived. In the other case the existing arm, not in your represntation of self, but which can be seen, must belong to some one else. (Not only does the extreme unilateral neglect victim not have part of his body in his self representation, but he has no control over it, no tactile sense, even pain, experienced from it!) In contrast, it is quite common that person with a phantom limb can have pain from parts of it.
Last edited by Billy T; 04-26-13 at 03:46 PM.
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