Properties of the soul?

Discussion in 'Religion' started by Dinosaur, Jul 23, 2017.

  1. Baldeee Valued Senior Member

    Er, no.
    I am saying that a non-dualist theory might have it that the activity / function of the brain gives rise to consciousness as an emergent property.
    No, just trying to explain to MR that there may be no need to posit the human mind being anything other than the property of a healthy functioning human brain.
    I quite agree, so I suggest you find someone with a contrary position so that the analogy is not wasted.

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  3. Michael 345 New year. PRESENT is 70 years old Valued Senior Member

    Sorry I miss read and miss understood your views

    Just waiting now for MR to settle my misgivings about his post


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  5. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

    How do you know a feedback loop "experiences itself"? That's quite a claim. So feedback loops and mathematical functions are now conscious too? My assumption is that a function is just an abstraction and does not experience itself at all. Which is why I also do not accept calling our minds functions as helpful in elucidating what the mind is.
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2017
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  7. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

    Why would mere complexity lead to the quantum leap of consciousness? Do other things become conscious just by getting more complex? Are complex mathematical equations conscious? Again it seems you are ascribing properties to functions that they do not exhibit. It seems we would have to communicate with a function to confirm its consciousness.
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2017
  8. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

    “What is an "I", and why are such things found (at least so far) only in association with, as poet Russell Edson once wonderfully phrased it, "teetering bulbs of dread and dream" -- that is, only in association with certain kinds of gooey lumps encased in hard protective shells mounted atop mobile pedestals that roam the world on pairs of slightly fuzzy, jointed stilts?”
    Douglas R. Hofstadter, Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid
  9. gmilam Valued Senior Member

    I wonder what made him think that dolphins don't think in terms of "I".
  10. Baldeee Valued Senior Member

    It wouldn't be an experience as we experience things, as ours is predicated on consciousness and self-awareness etc.
    They aren't so it wouldn't be the same.
    Perhaps "experience" is not the best word to use.
    Nor have I said that they are.
    So you have assumed the existence of a duality from the outset.
    It may not, but why should we rule it out?
    Are you claiming that it is impossible?
    If so, on what grounds?
    Some would argue that sufficiently complex mathematical equations are conscious, in that they see reality as being nothing but mathematical equations.
    As for other things, name something that is as complex as the human brain and body?
    No, you are committing a logical fallacy.
    Just because one suggests consciousness may arise from complexity does not mean they are suggesting that where you have complexity you will have consciousness.
    You would need it to be complexity of the right things.

    Furthermore, just because simple functions/actions do not exhibit certain properties does not mean that complex ones can not.
    Water exhibits very different properties to the individual molecules.
    It is referred to as emergentism, where a property emerges at a certain level of complexity that is not present at lower levels.
  11. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

    How different can an experience be and still remain an experience? You seem to be ascribing subjectivity to a purely objective process. Isn't that assuming the existence of what you hope to explain?

    You said it experiences itself. Isn't that some level of consciousness?

    Yes. I assume dualism just as you assume monism. Why do you bring that up?

    There are enormously complex things and structures and processes that we don't recognize as conscious. 3 body systems for example. Weather systems. And other chaotic systems. What are the logical or at least empirical grounds for positing complexity as giving rise to consciousness?

    Why do I need to do that? Unless you are saying the human brain is the only system complex enough to attain consciousness. But again, why would level of complexity determine consciousness? There is no more reason to think a very complex system would be anymore conscious than a less complex system.

    So it isn't just the complexity of being a function. It needs to be the right kind of complex system to be conscious. This works against your claim that the mind is a function in that you are enlisting more conditions beyond the function that are required to produce a mind.

    That's 4 things now---functions, complexity, the right kind of complex system, and emergentism, all to explain the conscious mind. Aren't we in danger of violating Occam's Razor here?
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2017
  12. exchemist Valued Senior Member

    My only quibble would be that I think you make people sound more fearful and self-centred than they actually are. I suspect a major reason for the idea of the soul surviving death is not that the living fear death themselves, but that they feel the loss of those they love who have died and they hope to be reunited with them. So it is, I suspect, wishful thinking on behalf of others, as much as for themselves.
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  13. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

    There is another non-religious reason for positing the human soul. Namely, as the transcendent nature of the human person themselves, as the who behind who feels, who decides, who knows, who takes moral action, who suffers, who aspires towards higher purpose, who speaks poetic truth, and who creates novelty and meaning in the world . This source within us of value and beauty and truth cannot be reduced to a mere material brain. Such a reduction destroys the very soulful nature of the human experience, as rich in value and depth as it is. We are not a what. We are a who. And that who or self is a conscious essence no more reducible to matter than matter can be reduced to consciousness.
  14. birch Valued Senior Member

    I agree and there is some type of a very fine-tuned pattern recognition. There is something created or is that is the essence of life that cant be reduced into parts or else you are not seeing the forest for the trees. I dont think physical death is an absolute finality. I think that is not just wishful thinking but a mere probability. As in another thread, the idea of reincarnation was posed. This is not so much necessarily about having exact memories or hair color etc but what you are, that essence of identity could be made again. Sometimes we even meet people we feel as if we have known them before (in a good way) but we have never met anyone of such type in this life. You just seem to recognize eachother as if there was a history beyond this place. I think there are different parts of us and that part i describe points to a higher aspect of our being (some call it the essence of the divine) and its a unique/different signature for everyone. I think there is more than one dimension or realm of existence. I think this is just one of them where we inhabit corporeal bodies and separated by these differences which are part of the life path we live.

    Ive even met people where you know eachother (cut from the same cloth like family but that knowing is unexplainable logically), there is an inexplicable knowing camaraderie (they just know you, even your pain as if you have been unconsciously connected your whole life like an invisible network)and you know them like comrades in arms, but are not physically on the same path. maybe vastly different social status, race, creed etc but you came to experience different paths and mission. Conventional wisdom would be surprised who we are connected to despite the outer layers of the physical life as well as separated by distance, perhaps even time, yet still connected. Even the mundane differences where it is impractical as well as unfeasible for compatibility but that divine part is linked and similar. The part that this world and existence cannot break the truth of this type of divine pure love and connection.

    I noticed when in some of my darkest times in my life when i would doubt myself that i had any worth, a person like this would show up in some way in my life to remind me of my true identity to show me the divine part of them and connect with that part of me. Oh so this world that makes you bleed, humiliates, degrades, hates, suffers etc is not the real definition of me. Its to uplift and give hope and that you are not alone.

    These are the mysteries of life.
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2017
  15. Baldeee Valued Senior Member

    As I said, experience is possibly not the best word for it given how you are intending to use the word.
    I am using it in the manner that a building experiences a blackout, for example.
    I am assigning no consciousness to that experience.
    You seem to be tying the words together that was not intended, hence I am saying it was not the best use of word by me.
    I am not ascribing subjectivity to it.
    Hopefully the above clarifies.
    A building is not conscious yet can experience a blackout, for example.
    That was the intended understanding of the word, thus no consciousness implied.
    Assuming something from the outset in an argument to try to demonstrate its existence is a circular argument.
    Duality should surely only be posited when necessary.
    This necessity has not be shown.
    Do not confuse chaos with complexity.
    Chaos is the sensitivity of a system to an input.
    Complexity is the level of interactedness between the number of components, the more components and interconnectendess the more complex.
    But a complex system need not be chaotic and a chaotic system need not be complex.

    Furthermore ther are many orders of magnitude of difference in complexity between systems such as the weather and the human brain.

    The empirical grounds for positing it are simple: reduce the complexity of the interactions within the human brain and you lose consciousness.
    This certainly is not proof, but it is grounds for positing it as a theory.
    You need to if you wish to use the argument that no other thing gets more complex and becomes conscious, as you did.
    If you can not provide evidence of one other thing that is as complex as a conscious brain then how can you know that consciousness does not arise out of that complexity, assuming it is complexity of the right things?
    Yet here we are, a very complex system, far more complex than anything else we are aware of, and we are conscious.
    Do you see a car and wonder how it works, given that each individual component does not have the necessary property?
    Until you can rule out complexity for being a driving influence in how our consciousness came about, why invoke duality?
    Of course.
    Complexity is a property of a system, not the system itself.
    A function has properties of which complexity is but one.
    That's like saying that a brick is many things: material, length, width and height, weight etc.
    There is just the brick.
  16. Michael 345 New year. PRESENT is 70 years old Valued Senior Member

    Speaking for myself I have nooooo problem calling myself a collection of chemicals which have have accumulated over the years various groups of them replacing those already present

    On average I have a complete new body every 10 years which means I've had 7 so far

    The concessness I experience from this interactive collection of chemicals is great

    Most of the ethereal attributes given to this bunch of stuff are meaningless because they are inconsistent over the range of people who give them hence they are not a intrinsic core truth of what this collection "is"

    Sorry I really am just a lots of little cells (non sentinant cells) hanging together with some of them (the brain ones) giving me the ability to experience the properties of the Universe (strange because even the brain cells individual or collectively are not sentinant)

    The concept of soul appears to posit a mini me operating the brain like a puppet and when the body and brain dies mini me packs up and heads off to the next place taking all the information gathered during the life of the body

    Concessness is a PROCESS hence has no physicality so true cannot become matter let alone be reduced to matter

    The concessness I experience from this interactive collection of chemicals is great so I would disagree concessness cannot arise from a chemical matter

    I would also disagree matter to concessness is a reduction

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  17. Michael 345 New year. PRESENT is 70 years old Valued Senior Member

    No a building CANNOT experience a blackout if you are meaning experience in the sense of being aware and since a building is not sentinant it CANNOT be aware even if fitted throughout with Google

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  18. Baldeee Valued Senior Member

    That is my point - that I was using the word in a sense that did not assume consciousness or self awareness etc.
    A non-conscious thing will experience things in a non-conscious way, mundane way.
    A conscious thing will experience in a manner appropriate with the existence of that consciousness.

    MR picked up on my use of the word assuming that I meant it in the sense of being aware, being concoctions.
    I did not.
    I have explained this already.
  19. Michael 345 New year. PRESENT is 70 years old Valued Senior Member

    I did pick up AFTER I had replied (because I was just skimming through) you had posted
    Perhaps UNDERGOES is a better word to use even though it is a bit cumbersome

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    Or perhaps the reader should be aware of the general use of the word and not anthropomorphize the building

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  20. exchemist Valued Senior Member


    I find the invocation of Ockham's Razor here by MR rather amusing, as it is exactly the argument used by creationists to explain complex biological structures. In other words, something is too complicated (in my personal opinion, as a non-specialist) to explain with science, so resorting to invoking supernatural agency is simpler and therefore to be preferred.

    It suffers from two errors: one is that just because an explanation seems complicated to one individual doesn't mean it can't be right, and secondly, Ockham's Razor never calls for the simplest explanation, only the simplest explanation consistent with the facts.

    Indeed the principle says that entities should not be multiplied unnecessarily, which could be taken as an argument against invoking an immaterial entity for which no objective evidence can be adduced.
  21. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

    Matter isn't posited with a precursor capacity to have experiences to begin with (whether it's matter in terms of immediate concrete "stuff" or matter as abstract description). Experience is simply tacked-on in brute fashion when it comes to the applicable upper-level sciences, rather than falling out of the recognized furniture of physics as the usual traits and powers of living organisms otherwise do.

    Explanations get along fine as long as the private manifestations are ignored and "consciousness" is confined to body behavior and verbal responses, with that traced back to the interactions and relationships of micro-structure as causes (whether the latter is instantiated by a biological or an electronic substrate). Those are publicly accessible / measurable affairs.

    But the lack of a radical new attribute being detected that matter has acquired, in a scrutiny of the neural correlates for those experiences, is the fail for that particular area of consciousness. Even if novel patterns of activity may have emerged, their "emergence" still consists of arrangements of the pre-existing properties accepted by physics. Which lacked even precursor or elemental "showings" or "feelings" of themselves as anything before assembly into a dynamic brain, and accordingly still do afterwards on the part of instruments not detecting matter having acquired such an incredible new characteristic or ability.[*]

    The "evidence" for the "showings / qualitative events" instead comes from those personal experiences themselves -- one human body reporting such to other human bodies. Which an eliminative materialist of the phenomenal nihilist stripe could simply dismiss as illusion or folklore anecdotes. If scientific investigation can't detect matter having acquired and actually being those manifestations -- IOW, there is only finding the electrochemical mechanisms which cause people to report the fantasies... then that school of reasoning can simply ignore or dismiss experience as valid to begin with and thereby unnecessary to explain.

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    [*] Technically this would be ruled out a priori by any form of naturalism / physicalism that rejects panprotopsychism. A shouted appeal to "That's crazy" would stem from that philosophical orientation rather than science being perpetually incapable of revising itself to accommodate a theory equivalent to panprotopsychism or panprotoexperientialism (if warranted).

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    Last edited: Aug 24, 2017
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  22. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

    I'm using the word "experience" in line with its dictionary definition. Which of the following fit the use you intend for it?

    a particular instance of personally encountering or undergoing something:
    My encounter with the bear in the woods was a frighteningexperience.
    the process or fact of personally observing, encountering, orundergoing something:
    business experience.
    the observing, encountering, or undergoing of things generally asthey occur in the course of time:
    to learn from experience; the range of human experience.
    knowledge or practical wisdom gained from what one has observed,encountered, or undergone:
    a man of experience."


    I think you should use another word because all senses of the word experience I know of include some subjective sensing or awareness going on.

    I don't agree that a building can experience a blackout or anything else. Unless you are positing a panexperientialist pov in which all objects have a subjective status to the events that occur to them.

    I assume consciousness exists. I assume matter exists. They are given realities of my experience. That is the situation I am trying to explain. I'm not trying to explain away one as a manifestation of the other.

    It's necessary because of the dual existence of the brain and consciousness.

    How does one measure complexity such that we can say one system is more complex than another? Are we really sure that the system of atoms making up a thunderstorm isn't at least AS complex as the system of atoms making up a brain?

    I've never heard of this being done. How does one reduce the complexity of the interactions of a brain?

    As I and CC point out, there is never any way you will confirm that a complex system is conscious without having it self-report its own consciousness to us as a person does. A mere reading on a meter or a waveform on a scope will not prove consciousness.

    That appears to be your problem. Lacking any other case of complexity leading to consciousness, we aren't able to say with confidence that complexity even leads to consciousness.

    Because we know that consciousness exists. And we know that matter exists. But we do not know how they are causally related or even if they are causally related. Positing complexity as the key property doesn't do that because we can't confirm consciousness in any other system besides a brain. We need more examples of complexity leading to consciousness to be able to posit it as the key property leading to consciousness.

    You're asserting properties and aspects of the mind as causal to the mind itself. That it is a function, that it is very complex, that it is a complex system of brain tissue, and that it is emergent. That assumes the properties preexist the mind and so cause it to exist. How can the properties making up something cause that thing to come into existence?
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2017
  23. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

    Perhaps, when the definition is narrowed to just Chalmers' emphasis on experience. If the system is manipulating a body (like navigating through an obstacle course, etc) that could be treated as consciousness in terms of behavioral reactions to the environment. For humans, there is locating the neural correlates for reports of having experiences. But the latter ultimately stems from tentatively believing what the subject claims, and once found the correlates could instead be alternatively interpreted as the causes of making the person say that they have visual, audile, tactile, etc manifestations. Rather than those brain processes literally possessing or containing "qualitative showings", or such supervening upon them. (Eliminativism, phenomenal nihilism or denial of manifestations.)

    • Heterophenomenology: The key role of heterophenomenology in [Daniel] Dennett's philosophy of consciousness is that it defines all that can or needs to be known about the mind. For any phenomenological question "why do I experience X", there is a corresponding heterophenomenological question "why does the subject say 'I experience X'". To quote Dennett, "The total set of details of heterophenomenology, plus all the data we can gather about concurrent events in the brains of subjects and in the surrounding environment, comprise the total data set for a theory of human consciousness. It leaves out no objective phenomena and no subjective phenomena of consciousness."
    What's left out is an underlying conception or deeper, integrating explanation of how those manifestations could be accompanying any dynamic physical structures to begin with (which are normally across the universe deemed to be wallowing in the "not even nothingness" of non-consciousness).

    The "hard problem of consciousness" lingers because the solutions seem crazy or subject to ridicule by one group or another:

    Panprotoexperientialism -- "Experience outruns cognition, experience or the capacity to generate it is a fundamental property of matter. Primitive and nonsensical at the level of rocks or random electromagnetic fields, sophisticated and meaningful at the level of brains."

    Elimination or denial of qualitative and "showing" attributes. "We're all lying or deluded philosophical zombies."

    Brute emergence - "Certain neural or electronic processes magically conjure qualitative events! Without need of that being a latent attribute or undeveloped capacity of matter."

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