Is there a scientific theory that explains the quality of pain in terms of the physical universe?

Discussion in 'General Science & Technology' started by Speakpigeon, Dec 19, 2018.

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Is there is a scientific theory that explains the quality of pain in terms of the physical universe?

Poll closed Jan 18, 2019.
  1. Yes

    42.9%
  2. No

    14.3%
  3. I'm not sure either way.

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  4. The question doesn't make sense.

    42.9%
  1. geordief Registered Senior Member

    Messages:
    990
    Obviously progress can and has been made but it is not hard to believe that the tools of scientific experimentation can only take one so far. (how is that different from any area of knowledge ,you may ask?)

    Effectively the experimenter becomes the experiment and perhaps there comes a point when the chances of further success become merely 50/50.

    And as I claimed earlier the "scientific method" has as one of its raisons d'etre to keep the bias of the experimenter/observer in some kind of check.Does this not become impossible when conciousness and its properties (as in "qualities of pain") have to be included in the equations?

    Yes ,this "bifurcated reality" does trouble me. I rationalize it as the phenomena of the mind being a subset of the phenomena of the external physical world ,but cannot say why it could not be the other way around.

    I do see the two "realms" as wildly different even though it is plain that they do affect each other.
     
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  3. Write4U Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    11,047
    As I understand it, anesthesia is the administering of drugs to a specific part of the brain which is the seat of pain, in order to be able to perform otherwise painful surgery.

    Obviously that is the area which produces the sensation of pain. Interestingly the very same drugs are effective in exactly the same ratio for all brained animals these drugs have been tested on. IMO, this is an important chemical phenomenon to consider. We also know that pain is only experienced while conscious or in the case of local anesthesia, the area surrounding the pain is rendered "insensitive" to pain.

    We know what kills (masks) the sensation of pain, we should be able to figure out what the chemical mechanisms are which produce the sensation of pain and draw our conclusions from the implications.
     
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  5. pluto2 Registered Senior Member

    Messages:
    908
    I think pain can be explained by just physics and chemistry.

    This is why I think that biology is not really a solid science unlike physics and chemistry.

    Think about it: When it comes down to things I think humans are just molecules in motion, just like all the other ordinary matter in the universe.
     
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2018
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  7. Speakpigeon Registered Senior Member

    Messages:
    905
    I would expect a substantial number of people not philosophers throughout the world to feel like supernaturalism is the best idea. What's wrong exactly with this idea?
    Supernaturalism is also a logical consequence of the scientific perspective on reality. Insisting on objectivity is objectifying subjectivity as a different realm. You got what you asked for.
    There is in effect a simple solution, but it appears that most scientists are too ideologically materialist to even think of it. I think of this in terms of the Popes' insistance that it was the Sun that turned around the Earth, not the Earth around the Sun. That it could be the Earth orbiting the Sun has always been a logical possibility, but an ideologically inacceptable one for Church people. In the event, the Church sustained the dogma for at least 1600 years. I wish I could be there when the penny drop in the minds of all those brilliant scientists but I expect another millennium will have to elapse for that to happen.
    EB
     
  8. Speakpigeon Registered Senior Member

    Messages:
    905
    That's the best answer yet. Congratulation!
    EB
     
  9. Speakpigeon Registered Senior Member

    Messages:
    905
    I didn't say "pain". I said "the quality of pain".
    I think about it, therefore I am.
    EB
     
  10. Speakpigeon Registered Senior Member

    Messages:
    905
    Exactly, and indeed like all qualia, including the impression that we exist now.
    Yes. Evolution maybe can explain that we should be able to perceive the range of colours that we do but not the quality colours have.
    It seems indeed clear that our perception of colours is functionally arbitrary. Your red may be my blue. What you experience as painful pain maybe pleasurable to me, who would even know?
    EB
     
  11. Speakpigeon Registered Senior Member

    Messages:
    905
    I think most of them are desperately trying to find the socially acceptable answer rather than the correct one. Though, I would expect this to remain at the subconscious level...
    That's logically possible. Yet, even if pain was a neural state, there would still be no scientific theory to explain the quality of pain.
    That's a rather strange position. How any description of pain could possibly make you know pain? We only understand each other about pain, if we do, because we all experience pain, assuming it's the same pain, which is an unfounded assumption.
    Sure, but the question is as to a scientific theory now.
    EB
     
  12. Write4U Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    11,047
    Why start with the most unlikely scenario? Supernatural is the least probable property of a natural object, IMO
     
  13. Yazata Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    5,123
    You think that you know the "correct" answer? Even when the professional philosophers haven't succeeded in agreeing on one?
     
  14. Write4U Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    11,047
    The interesting thing is that when we see someone in pain, our brain begins to order the production of the same associated chemicals as the person actually experiencing the pain. Empathic response from our "mirror neuron system"
    It causes us to wince without actually experiencing pain, but just by observation. That's an interesting mental trick.....

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  15. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    28,802
    That depends on what you regard as an explanation. The quality of pain is after all its mechanism of influence on behavior, and that has a variety of explanations derived from evolutionary theory.

    As far as the quality of perceptions, there is no scientific accounting or description of any of them - consciousness is a new field, and poorly explored yet. The quality of shiny vs matte, bright vs dull, bitter vs sweet, etc, thin vs thick, deep vs shallow - - none of these has a scientific explanation. They are simpler and better understood than pain, though - better starting places?
     
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2018
  16. Write4U Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    11,047
    IMO, it seems to me that at least some partial answers can be found among these pioneers in the field of "consciousness", because we have a factual starting point. Consciousness resides within our brains, fact.

    Max Tegmark proposes that all experiences are a result of dynamic pattern formation. Of all available knowledge, I believe this is still a most logical presumption, which may provide a foundation for deeper understanding.

    MaxTegmark: "Consciousness is a mathematical pattern"


    Anil Seth: "Your brain hallucinates your conscious reality"
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lyu7v7nWzfo&t=39s

    Stuart Hameroff: "Quantum consciousness"
    and in collaboration with Roger Penrose: "ORCH OR"


    Ron Vale: "Molecular motor proteins" (1,2,3)




    I submit that cell division is a rudimentary conscious action. At a certain stage something within the cell "knows" it's time to divide!

    Pain is a cellular experience, amplified by the entire neural network and weighed by the conscious part of the brain which is capable of imagination and the associated emotional experience, and production of "pleasant" or "unpleasant" physical experiences at microlevel scales.
     
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2018
  17. Write4U Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    11,047
    Seems that bipedal locomotion has been with us for a longggggggg time.
     
  18. Speakpigeon Registered Senior Member

    Messages:
    905
    Certainly not on consciousness although I was already there before reading on the idea of qualia and the so-called "hard problem". Most professional people, in any field, are not particularly bright. They are drudges, maybe doing good work but nothing most other normally intelligent people couldn't do. Philosophy is useful not because it gives the correct answers but because it provides new conceptual framework to think about reality. But how many philosophers have actually contributed to that? Only a small trickle. Descartes is one. Aristotle is another. There's a good number of them overall, but rather thin on the ground and that's more than 2,500 years of philosophy. So, I think there's no good reason to be impressed by most professional philosophers.
    But don't worry, I'm well aware of my own limitations...
    EB
     
  19. Speakpigeon Registered Senior Member

    Messages:
    905
    The mechanism of influence on behaviour is definitely not what I think of as the quality of pain by any stretch of the imagination. As I see it, the main quality of pain to be explained is that pain is painful. That's it and I think it goes without saying because most people are very familiar with the painfulness of pain.
    I don't think so. I don't think qualia could be explained in terms of the physical universe. But you can always try.
    EB
     
  20. Write4U Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    11,047
    How is philosophy pertinent to the "question"?
    IMO, "sentience", is the ability to experience self as related to environment.
    It is a potential of the biochemistry in biological organisms, and is experienced at many levels in many forms. This ability is not necessarily conscious either. Humans have subconscious functional control mechanisms.

    A single-celled paramecium is "sentient". IOW, it experiences pain when it runs into an obstacle and takes corrective action to avoid bumping into the obstacle repeatedly.
     
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2018
  21. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    28,802
    But it is - by observation, recorded. Doctors diagnose thereby - a dull ache affects a child's response to manipulation differently than a sharp burn, a "cramping" and unlocalized pain in the left shoulder and upper arm will cause the patient to present a different posture and attitude than a hot ripping sensation with a focus in the joint.

    People behave differently according to the quality of their pain, the "kind" of pain they are experiencing - not just presence or absence.
     
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  22. kx000 Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    4,611
    Suffering goes to Hell... that's what I know.
     
  23. Write4U Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    11,047
    How do animals earn the punishment of Hell? Many animals have the ability to experience pain. Is this because they are evil or immoral?
     

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