Does the brain really "cause" consciousness?

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

  1. Trooper Secular Sanity Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    1,784
    [video=youtube;VQxJi0COTBo]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VQxJi0COTBo[/video]
     
  2. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement



    to hide all adverts.
  3. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    12,601
    Sarkus, I was noticing you hold pretty strongly to the "causal closure" thesis of physicalism. The axiom that every physical event must have a physical cause. Do you assume this a priori or do you do so based on some evidence? Personally I take the existence of mental causation as evidence it is NOT necessarily true. But you have already concluded mental causation to be an illusion BASED, it appears, on your assuming the causal closure thesis. Why assume this? Wouldn't statistical influences on events be another example of non-physical causes for physical events?


    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Causal_closure
     
  4. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement



    to hide all adverts.
  5. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    12,601
    Isn't it the finding of quantum physics that consciousness itself, or perhaps the act of measurement, collapses the quantum wavefunction or superposition of two opposite states into one state? Randomness wouldn't involve this kind of determination--ie. dice do not mentally collapse their future states into actual states.
     
  6. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement



    to hide all adverts.
  7. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    8,557
    I do hold to it, yes, but only in as much as it is a starting point rather than the definitive truth.
    As for evidence - I am not aware of any evidence that proves it to be false, and since it satisfies Occam's razor I stick to it, but will change as and when evidence arises to the contrary.
    Some will claim that science itself, and the very nature of the evidence it produces, precludes any evidence of the non-physical being identified - but until science comes up against something for which it is impossible (not merely currently unable) for science to prove without recourse to the non-physical, it seems to be satisfactory.

    So yes, I do currently hold to it, based more on the lack of evidence for anything else, and that all evidence that has ever been provided for anything has never disproven it.
    This doesn't mean that I hold it to be necessarily true, though. But it is certainly a foundation from which my arguments stem, and will most likely continue to do so until such time as it is disproven - or until a more rational position presents itself.

    As for mental causation - it is not even an observation, merely a "common-sense" idea. But it is explainable within the understanding of causal closure, as well as numerous other theories... so I certainly wouldn't use it to discount any of those theories. But it also doesn't change what I consider to be the most rational.

    But I conclude mental causation to be an illusion not because I have assumed causal closure but due to the same reasons I hold to the theory of causal closure. One does not stem from the other, but they stem from the same underlying causes.


    I'm not sure of your point with regard statistical influences.
     
  8. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    8,557
    The collapse doesn't require conscious observation, merely interaction with a sufficiently complex object, although there are numerous interpretations and the debates rage.
     
  9. gmilam Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    3,147
    Do you really believe the dice remain in an undetermined state until someone looks at them? You do realize that Schrodinger was pointing out how absurd that idea is don't you?
     
  10. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    23,198
    No, being viewed by inteligent life form or being measured are not required for the "collapse of a mixed state wave form." - Only an interaction between mixed QM state with a macro state system is required.

    For example more than a 100 years ago many thick glass photographic plates were stacked together and carried to high altitudes in balloons to make sort of a cubic-shaped cosmic ray detector and recoding device. Many dozen of those plates were recoverd and devloped, but only a small fraction were analyzed - too expense and lack of graduate students willing to do this skilled but boring work with microscopes.

    I assure you the QM events recorded in those plates are not still in mixed states, waiting 100+ years to collapse in 2012 when some graduate student is available and willing to first look at the tracks in the films and measure them.
     
  11. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    12,601
    Do YOU really believe dice rolls are quantum level events?
     
  12. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    12,601
    "The Copenhagen interpretation is one of the earliest and most commonly taught interpretations of quantum mechanics.[1] It holds that quantum mechanics does not yield a description of an objective reality but deals only with probabilities of observing, or measuring, various aspects of energy quanta, entities which fit neither the classical idea of particles nor the classical idea of waves. According to the interpretation, the act of measurement causes the set of probabilities to immediately and randomly assume only one of the possible values. This feature of the mathematics is known as wavefunction collapse. The essential concepts of the interpretation were devised by Niels Bohr, Werner Heisenberg and others in the years.."--- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copenhagen_interpretation1924–27."
     
  13. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    12,601
    Sarkus, by statistical influences I had in mind structures like attractors and basins of attraction in dynamic systems evolution. I take these, along with mathematical structures like laws and algorithms, as examples of non-physical determinants on physical processes. I also allow that virtual particles might be non-physical causes of physical events too. Here's some info on attractors:


    http://www.calresco.org/attract.htm
     
  14. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    12,601
    I'd like to introduce another idea into this conversation--that of self-organizing systems. There are many examples of these found in nature and especially in biology. Seeing the mind is a biological system, is it not at least feasible that it could be a self-organizing or autopoietic system? Here's a little background on self-organization:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Self-organization


    "Originally, the term "self-organizing" was used by Immanuel Kant in his Critique of Judgment, where he argued that teleology is a meaningful concept only if there exists such an entity whose parts or "organs" are simultaneously ends and means. Such a system of organs must be able to behave as if it has a mind of its own, that is, it is capable of governing itself.



    “In such a natural product as this every part is thought as owing its presence to the agency of all the remaining parts, and also as existing for the sake of the others and of the whole, that is as an instrument, or organ... The part must be an organ producing the other parts—each, consequently, reciprocally producing the others... Only under these conditions and upon these terms can such a product be an organized and self-organized being, and, as such, be called a physical end."
     
  15. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    8,557
    Mathematical structures, basins and attractors are merely means of modelling the physical world. Maths does not cause E to equal MC^2, but instead maths can be used to model or describe the physical relationships and interactions that we observe, that allow for prediction etc.
    Even things like laws are merely descriptors of the observations that are so widely accepted that you'd be rath foolish to ignore them.
    You would be hard pushed to find many who consider such things to be influencing the physical interactions rather than merely explaining them.

    So no, I don't consider any of these things to be a examples of non-physical determinants - as I consider them to be merely descriptors/models of the observations.
     
  16. gmilam Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    3,147
    Let's see how we can test your idea.... Oh, I know - go away and not observe or measure something for a while and then come back and tell us what you've learned.

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

     
  17. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    23,198
    Yes that is all correct, but as Sarkus in post 105 and I in post 107, pointed out, there is no requirement that a measurement be made. All that is required is an interaction of the mixed wave function QM state with a classical or "macro state" system.

    In post 107, I gave an example of some more than 100 year old collapses of cosmic ray induced QM events interacting with glass plates that had photographic films on them at high altitudes that could some day in the future (late 2012 or even later) be examined to make a measurement of what Eigen state the wave functions collapsed into more than 100 years ago, just due to the interaction with glass plates and photographic films.

    When a measurement is made an interaction with a classical or "macro state" system ALWAYS OCCURES. E.g. some meter´s pointer (etc.) moves to indicate 9.7 etc. Thus it is true, as your wiki article states, that any measurement will cause the collapse, but not only measurements do that. It is a common error* to think only measurements collapse the wave function. Mixed state QM wave functions were collapsing on the surface of the moon a million years ago.

    *Its foundation is the same egotism that once placed the Earth at the center of the universe. I.e. We need to measure the mixed QM state to cause the collapse!
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 18, 2012
  18. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    23,198
    Not sure but think the Real Time Simulation, RTS, idea I first published in The technical Digest of JHU -APL back in 1994 is based on this. That article is focused on how, AT THE NEURONAL LEVEL, (known properties of neurons, not higher-level, hand-waving phrases) a 3D visual perception with high resolution is possible when all the brain has as input information is a 2D retinal image with low resolution everywhere except in about 1 degree of solid angle, called the fovea; but the last page is concerned with the philosophical implications of the RTS, especially as they relate to free will. That last part was posted here in Oct 2005 - a "long essay" describing the RTS but this sciforums post is focused mainly on the Free will question.
    http://www.sciforums.com/showthread.php?2868-About-determinism&p=882356&viewfull=1#post882356

    I would like to note that the RTS is better described as "self evolving" as all humans, (and probably most Apes, etc. run the RTS program) have it and much of its structure is built into the genetic code. I.e. my POV is "we" are not our bodies, but the information process (a part of the RTS) running in parietal brain, when conscious or dreaming, which I consider to be a conscious state too, but one not very aware of the environment as the awake conscious state is. I.e "we" can have genuine free will as "we" are information, not material, which at the macro scale is 100% deterministic controlled by laws of nature.
     
  19. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    12,601

    Actually there are quite a few platonists in the field of mathematics of the opinion that there are real mathematical entities that influence physical reality. Max Tegmark even goes so far as to propose a mathematical monism in which everything is reducible to mathematical structures. You should take the time to study the philosophy of mathematics. Many scientists even view laws as real structures according to which physical reality conforms. That's why they say they "discover" the laws.The laws preexist the events they describe.
     
  20. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    12,601
    Not sure to what extent recording a particle's position on a plate isn't an act of measurement already. So ofcourse the wavefunction has already been collapsed. But since you're conceding that observation and measurement CAN collapse wavefunctions, as per the fundamental proposition of quantum theory, doesn't this undermine your thesis that consciousness can't cause anything? Assuming ofcourse that is your thesis. I have a hard time keeping track of what your general philosophical position is on this issue.
     
  21. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    23,198
    That is because you have not read the post linked to (most recently) in post 115, where my POV is not only very clearly stated (and unchanged since it was published in 1994) but also vigorously defended with many experimental (and even historical*) facts that the more accepted POV (perception "emerges" after many stages of computational transforms of sensory signals) cannot.

    * E.g. the development of the RTS in a very small African group could explain "Out of Africa" event & how our weaker and smaller brained ancestor killed off the Neanderthals.
     
  22. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    12,601
    In your studies of vision and the brain did you ever get into how the brain flips the upside down image on our retinae right side up? That has always mystified me. You probably know that if you wear glasses that make everything upside down then when you take them off you will still see things upside down for a little while. What would THAT be like? Would you experience your body as upside down too?
     
  23. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    12,601
    "Mathematical platonism is any metaphysical account of mathematics that implies mathematical entities exist, that they are abstract, and that they are independent of all our rational activities. For example, a platonist might assert that the number pi exists outside of space and time and has the characteristics it does regardless of any mental or physical activities of human beings. Mathematical platonists are often called “realists,” although, strictly speaking, there can be realists who are not platonists because they do not accept the platonist requirement that mathematical entities be abstract.

    Mathematical platonism enjoys widespread support and is frequently considered the default metaphysical position with respect to mathematics. This is unsurprising given its extremely natural interpretation of mathematical practice. In particular, mathematical platonism takes at face-value such well known truths as that “there exist” an infinite number of prime numbers, and it provides straightforward explanations of mathematical objectivity and of the differences between mathematical and spatio-temporal entities. Thus arguments for mathematical platonism typically assert that in order for mathematical theories to be true their logical structure must refer to some mathematical entities, that many mathematical theories are indeed objectively true, and that mathematical entities are not constituents of the spatio-temporal realm."-----http://www.iep.utm.edu/mathplat/
     

Share This Page