Does the brain really "cause" consciousness?

Discussion in 'General Philosophy' started by Magical Realist, Dec 8, 2012.

  1. curious45 Registered Member

    Not really. You see even if we are assuming without evidence that the forces are unified, or not, the unified or ununified forces are still regarded as fundamental on some level. They don't come essentially from no-where as in emergence theory.

    Probably so. Emergence makes no logical sense to me.

    Well that can be taken as purely a consequence of complex information, rationally (ie its not truely an emergent property in the same sense, as fundamentally, there is nothing new), if information is said to be awareness - and a consequence of our ability to perceive it. Thus its not really an emergent property, but rather of our recognition of its true nature is emergent. In addition, even a complex system with no human recognisable behaviour might not be recognised by us as conscious. Ultimately this just comes down to what computations and comphrehensions we ourselves are capable of, and how information interacts, nothing to do with the spontanous occurance of entirely new, strange, novel phenomena without explaination.

    Our ability to recognise subjective experience is limited to complex systems with specific forms of recognisable behaviour.

    So I would probably say, instead, that our ability to infer, or project, subjective experience in other places, is an informationally emergent property, as are the specific systems we are inclined to infer about (but not in the same sense as subjective awareness, because this can be explained fully in terms of mere information, whereas subjective awareness cannot)

    Yes and no. If informational exchange, and interaction is, itself subjective experience, ie they are entirely equal properties, then the property is "explained", whereas if they are not, the property is not - ie in emergence, if the property emerges, it still requires some basis (i.e. other than structure or information).

    But the difference is perhaps essentially a matter of a similar view with one less unnessasary assumption, ie complexity, or a specific configuration - with that added agknowledgement that awareness/subjective experience is not explained informationally or physically, and thus requires a fundamental basis.

    Emergence itself, in my view, should still require some form of fundamental basis for the property that emerges. If it doesnt posit some explaination of the phenomena, then its some sort of avoidant shrugging.

    This is part of why I find emergence theories so avoidant - its a bit like saying gravity emerges from mass, but without actually describing how in any way (ie GR or quantum gravity, something actually fundamental).

    Its hard to express all of my thoughts on this topic well, its a very abstract topic.

    Lets try a thought experiment though. This doesn't really prove or show anything, but its supposed to get you thinking about the claims of emergence.

    If we take emergence to be true, imagine if you will, a solar system sized mechanical calculator. A sort of super-series of abacus like cells. These cells mechanically do calculations, by shifting the position of beads on each side of a rod. Via this mechanical mechanism the cells exchange, store and process information. This giant solar system size mechanical calculator also has sensors, in that it takes in audio, and visual information, and behaviours in that it can speak, and has robotic mechanical arms - all entirely mechanical. The mechanical calculator portion of this machine is modelled directly off the human brain, only numerical rather than electrochemical, and is highly complex, with similar comparmentalisation, and information processing to a brain.

    Does this solar system sized super-abacus have a subjective experience?
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2013
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  3. MarkHolland Registered Member

    Conscious thoughts themselves don’t actually do anything. They are, in Huxley’s famous analogy, like the blowings of a steam whistle on an old locomotive. The steam comes from the same boiler that drives the locomotive’s pistons, and blowings of the whistle are well correlated with the locomotive’s starting to move, but the whistling contributes nothing to the motion. Just so with conscious thoughts: the brain processes that produce our behavior also produce conscious thoughts, but the thoughts themselves don’t produce anything.
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