# The Hard Problem of Consciousness (3'd iteration)

Discussion in 'General Philosophy' started by Yazata, Jul 11, 2012.

1. ### Magical RealistValued Senior Member

Messages:
14,083
Time's primary characteristic is duration. The introspectively obvious transition of one barren moment to the next. How can you say time doesn't exist when all our equations presuppose it? Indeed, without the experience of sequentiality math as well as logic wouldn't even work. Time is integral to the functioning of these symbolic systems. 2 comes after 1. y comes after x. It all makes sense because we participate in a self-evident passage of moments.

3. ### Billy TUse Sugar Cane Alcohol car FuelValued Senior Member

Messages:
23,198
,
The time parameter, t, in equations is a great convenience, but as I explained that parameter can be totally eliminated, at least in principle, as is not essential.* What is real is not time but the relationship between pairs of changes. For example the number of swing of a pendulum per mm of candle burn down. Etc.

Sequences of events, like numbers, can be ordered. "before" and "after" are real concepts. E.g. the match is struck before the candle burns out after that match strike. This is not more or less proof that time is real than the fact 2 > 1 and part of the sequence 1,2,3,4,... is proof time is real.

Yes there are many “time words” hour, duration, interval, week, fortnight, second, etc. but all are defined in terms of real observables. For example a week is seven sun rises, etc. Time has no describable characteristic as it does not really exist. Giving me another time name (interval or duration) is not a characteristic of time but is how many cycles of a pendulum or electronic clock crystal etc. happen after “event A” and before “event B” – real observable changes, which time is not.

For example, the second is DEFINED in terms of real observables changes as:
"The second is the duration of 9 192 631 770 periods of the radiation corresponding to the transition between the two hyperfine levels of the ground state of the cesium 133 atom." Once, in a less precise era, the second was "1/86 400 of the mean solar day." As time does not exist, it cannot be observed by itself, like all real things can be. Shoes and fleas are real as they can be observed by them selves, not only as ordered relationships between two events.

Lead or a flea in my reference frame is also lead or a flea in another reference frame as all real things are, but a second in another reference frame seen from my reference frame is not a second. It is longer in duration than my second.

* inpost 100 I told how to eliminate time: "(Just solve their standard function of time equations both for time and set the two expressions for time equal to get a direct description of one motion in terms of the other with no reference to time.)"

Last edited by a moderator: Apr 19, 2013

5. ### Magical RealistValued Senior Member

Messages:
14,083
Time is quite real as proven by Einstein when he fused it with space to form spacetime. We know time is an objectively real substrate because gravity's effect on it can be measured. Now it's certainly your perogative to disagree with Einstein on this issue, but don't expect to maintain much credibility until you can come up with a better theory than his. Speaking of empiricle research on time, here's some now!

http://www.space.com/19202-einstein-space-time-smooth.html

7. ### Billy TUse Sugar Cane Alcohol car FuelValued Senior Member

Messages:
23,198
Yes GR tells how four paramters, (x,y,z,t) transfrom from one coordinate system to another - does not for example say x is somehow a real observable, like shoes. - it is a coordinate. Likewise, t, time, is not real - it is a useful coordinate. Einstein knew full well he was speaking of coordinates, not real things that one can observer independent of other things, like one can observe shoes. I completely agree with Einstein on this (at least in SR which I more fully understand) and accept GR´s four coordinates as coordinates of objects - not as objects with existance of their own, like shoes.

8. ### Magical RealistValued Senior Member

Messages:
14,083
Sorry..Spacetime exists and IS objectively real. Whether it exists without an observer is irrelevant. It is a very real phenomenon of the universe and manifests itself directly to our own awareness. And simply restating that time isn't real won't change that. Now, as usual you are wasting my very real time with digressions into trivialities.. So I'm moving on.

9. ### Billy TUse Sugar Cane Alcohol car FuelValued Senior Member

Messages:
23,198
I agree wheater there is or is not an observer, is not the point. Coordinates can not be obeserved even if there is an observer. They describe where some real thing is {in four space coordinate system, like (x,y, z, t) } but none of these coordinates is by its self real. Just like "fast" and "slow" are discriptors of something, but don´t exist by themselves.

Without proof or evidence, you assert: "Spacetime exists and IS objectively real." but can´t tell any property the "real" thing has. Not its mass, nor its color, nor shape, nor when and where it was made, etc. Real things do have these and other characteristics.

10. ### Fednis48Registered Senior Member

Messages:
725
I think that you and Magical Realist are just arguing semantics at this point. You agree that time is coordinate, like any spatial coordinate, but argue that coordinates are not "real" because they don't have any properties in and of themselves. To resolve this dispute, you'd need an especially precise definition of "real", which is probably a meaty enough question to be a thread by itself. Either way, Mathers2013's comment that brought time into the discussion seems wildly off topic.

To get back to the original topic, one point that keeps coming up is that even if we don't understand how the mind is physical now, there have been lots of things we thought were irreducibly non-physical before we knew better. E.g. electricity and magnetism are not fundamentally different, and temperature is not a substance independent of matter. The thing is, even if we didn't always know these things were physical properties, they were always causal properties; that is, they affected how other things in the world would behave. Magnets, for instance, make charged objects move in unusual ways, so before we understood electromagnetism we postulated magnet-stuff that would change the motion of charges. Minds are different because there is no physical process we're invoking them to explain. Humans behave the way they do because of physical brain states; I don't think most people would argue with that. What that doesn't explain is why brain states are associated with sensations - why visual brain states 'look like something.' As far as I know, there are no laws of physics that even take the right form to answer a question like that. Therefore, I think it's entirely reasonable to doubt that physics can ever explain qualia, which makes them the definition of nonphysical.

11. ### Billy TUse Sugar Cane Alcohol car FuelValued Senior Member

Messages:
23,198
A definition is a good suggestion but I don´t think it needs a separate thread because: (1) All definitions are arbitrary, but hopefully widely accepted. & (2) My definition of real things is very simple: Real things have non-zero mass-energy. I note time does not; ergo time is not a real thing. (It is a common conceptual construct).

Perhaps we need separate definitions of "objectively real" and "substrate" as I don´t agree with this post 103 statement: “time is an objectively real substrate." because for me, "substrates" are real things upon which other things (like transistors or germs, etc.) are built or grow. For me "objectively real" is the same as "real" as all real things can in principle be observed, at least when human senses are aided by instruments like the microscope, etc.

Yes, I listed seven examples.
I agree. I reject the claim than mind, qualia, etc. cannot be result of physical brain activity, but don´t make the claim the are, only that that seems to be the more reasonable guess than postulating soul, etc. as the basis of mind, etc. All other than a brain basis for mind, such as a soul, fail Occam´s razor test.

For having an indefinite position on this question, Magical Realist made short ridiculing reply something like: "may be this, may be that, may be in the future" but now seems to have edited that part away.

Last edited by a moderator: Apr 20, 2013
12. ### Rav∞Valued Senior Member

Messages:
2,422
What if learning about force carrier particles was something we were never able to do? Would that make electromagnetism a nonphysical phenomenon? Keep in mind that although physicists might sometimes refrain from speculating when talking about the phenomenality of matter and thus present a definition of physicality that is consistent with our current understanding of its scope (thereby seemingly excluding everything else), I doubt you'd get many of them to agree with the idea that a particular phenomenon is nonphysical just because we can't explain it (although you would get some who would say it is pointless to even talk about it until we can do some sort of potentially illuminating experiment).

13. ### wellwisherBannedBanned

Messages:
5,160
An interesting question is why do we have a quantum universe instead of a continuum universe?

There are fewer possible states within a quantum universe. A continuum universe would have endless states, even between quantum states. The value of a quantum universe is connected to entropy, which has to increase. Since a quantum universe has limited states, entropy increase means it cannot easily stall at level 1, but has to evolve. The endless possibilities of a continuum universe allows all the entropy increase you need without leaving step 1. Quantum is more creation friendly.

As an analogy, say we compare a six sided dice (quantum) to a round dice with infinite sides (continuum). If we had to keep rolling both dice until they start to repeat all the sides, the six sided dice will be done first. Now it is time for step 2. The round continuum dice needs to be rolled forever before we can repeat all the side. Step 2 never happens. Quantum is time saving.

One way to simulate quantum is with a movie film. If we have a film strip, each frame is analogous to a quantum state. There is a gap in time between each frame; frame rate. These gap in time saves time. Once the film starts to play, we don't notice the gaps but the movie appears to be a continuum but ends in 2 hours instead of never.

Force transmitted by quantum particles speeds up movement into order; so the movie ends and preparation for the sequel is ready to begin.

14. ### C CConsular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy"Valued Senior Member

Messages:
2,313
Although Chalmers grounds the "hard problem" in materialism, it really appears to be a presupposed, anti-protophenomenal view of matter/energy in general that it is parasitic upon (here "phenomenal" is meant as its etymological root of "shown forth" or "showing"; any primitive occurrence at all being manifested with or without cognition -- and a brain -- as opposed to the pervading nothingness featured in anti-protophenomenalism or anti-panexperientialism).

Because Chalmers himself has either expanded or clarified the list of types of materialism (and one can throw in Galen Strawson's blatantly panpsychic version), the word seems to have developed into a placeholder for representing the putative "actual" ontological status of the universe (whatever that is, independent of human speculations) -- not just a particular doctrine of tradition. An umbrella term for a variety of metaphysical possibilities. Due to this ambiguity of "materialism" (when minus a narrow specification), one could contend the HP no longer is the difficulty it was in the context of this broader meaning, if some of those types the former label subsumes are not anti-protophenomenal. Certainly Strawson's realistic materialism isn't, and Chalmer's "Type-F" classification, which is neutral monism, has in the past even used experience as the "neutral" factor that underlies both mental and physical. But when addressing a specific anti-protophenomenal subset dogma of materialism, the problem -- as better phrased as "how", instead of "why", still remains: The brute emergence of experience or phenomenal events in connection with brain electrochemical activity, due to it lacking any elemental stages or precursors beforehand in the cosmos abroad, to arise from.

15. ### Billy TUse Sugar Cane Alcohol car FuelValued Senior Member

Messages:
23,198
Interesting, if somewhat difficult reading; but the part of your (rather long) final sentence, which I have made bold, seems to me to be very questionable, if not demonstrably false.

I would suggest that there are many "elemental stages or precursors lower down in the stages of evolution."

For example, the type of earthworm, I sometimes collected when young for fishing, called "night crawlers" at night with a flash light, find light very obnoxious, perhaps even "painful" and try to escape from it, is one of hundreds of examples of an "element stages or precursors lower down in the stages of evolution" of qualia one could mention.

This multitude of examples is why I think consciousness evolved as even in this elementary precursor stage, it gives great survival advantage.

16. ### Billy TUse Sugar Cane Alcohol car FuelValued Senior Member

Messages:
23,198
I answer that at the end of my post, but first note:

You have many posts giving entropy the credit (or blame) for many different things, but from them I conclude you really have only a crude generalized idea what entropy is. Here is the Merrian Webster definition:
“A measure of the unavailable energy in a closed thermodynamic system that is also usually considered to be a measure of the system's disorder, that is a property of the system's state, and that varies directly with any reversible change in heat in the system and inversely with the temperature of the system; broadly: the degree of disorder or uncertainty in a system”

You use only the broad generalization. Entropy is a concept that originated long ago in what may have been the first well-defined science – Thermodynamic and usually represented by symbol, S, like temperature is by the symbol T and is precisely the ratio Q/T. where Q is the reversibly transferred increment of heat. To get the total change in entropy you must integrate these increments.

Just like electric potential, entropy is a state function – I.e. if system goes from point/state A to point/state B the change in potential/entropy does not depend upon the path by which it goes. Thus the net change in potential or entropy for any closed path/ cycle is zero. If during that path change there is also an irreversible process, then heat will be produced and the entropy of the system, which includes the place where the heat went, will increase. The second law of thermodynamic is stating this for processes that do include irreversible parts.

Because so few people are well versed in thermodynamic, the less precise statement “Entropy is a measure of system disorder.” is often used; however, “disorder” is perhaps more difficult to precisely define than entropy is. This is because all configurations of a system with the same total energy are equally probable. This is sometimes called the “ergodic theorem.”

Humans, however tend to think some configuration are rare. For example a shuffled deck of cards that has all the red cards touching other red cards is to humans “rare” but it fact it is just a small, human defined, subset of all the possible configurations but that particular result is no more rare than any other particular set of an equal number of precisely defined arrangements.

Now to comment on your post: Yes there are fewer configurations in the quantized universe than in a continuum universe, but, if anything that would tend to make more irreversible processes possible in a continuum universe. For example all hydrogen atoms would have their electrons spiraling down into the proton in tiny fraction of a second* and release, irreversible, 13.6 ev as radiant energy (heat).

*I did this calculation years ago for non-quantized energy levels of hydrogen. I.e. a non-quantized universe (assuming it is like ours but quantization is switched off at t = 0) surges to its final high entropy state in less than a second.

Last edited by a moderator: Apr 20, 2013
17. ### Captain KremmenAll aboard, me Hearties!Valued Senior Member

Messages:
12,738
That doesn't mean that extraordinary arrangements are as common as expected ones.
Take a room filled with air, made up of two cubes A and B joined.
It is as likely that all the molecules of air will be in cube A, and none in B,
as any other specific arrangements of them.

Even so, you would expect the number of molecules in each to be roughly the same,
because there are more instances of arrangements that reflect that condition statistically.

The things we see in our world, of cars, people books, etc
are as unlikely as all the air being in A rather than B.

Last edited: Apr 20, 2013
18. ### Billy TUse Sugar Cane Alcohol car FuelValued Senior Member

Messages:
23,198
I agree with all that but am not sure which of the last two is more unlikely as both are one out of umpteen to the umpteen power different cases.

Perhaps an example with only 2^8 (256) possible cases will make my point, which I think you understand, more clear for others:
Using H for heads and T for tails of a true coin flipped results:

HHTTHTHT is as likely as TTTTTTTT but humans think incorrectly that TTTTTTTT is more rare than HHTTHTHT. But both have a probability of 1/256 of occurring. That is why I said, it is perhaps more difficult to precisely define "disordered" than entropy.

I should note that your rooms A & B with different density of atoms is in part a physical system too. While any specific arrangement is as probable as another, there is a strong physical drive forcing near equal density in the two rooms. If both are at the same temperature and A has 55% of all the atoms then there is more pressure in the gas of A than in B, so gas in A will expand into B. That is why my examples, cards & coin flips, were chosen as they have no physical drives.

Last edited by a moderator: Apr 21, 2013
19. ### C CConsular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy"Valued Senior Member

Messages:
2,313
But what would be "fundamental" or radical about phenomenal events residing in or being confined to biology? That's already the current popular opinion (maybe excluding soul believers), that "experiences" emerge in association with nervous systems or sophisticated organs (brains) falling out of such. "Brute" emergence in the sense of it lacking a non-biological precursor stage, no primitive / elemental "showings" associated with chemical interactions and electromagnetic activity abroad, prior to their specialized utilization by that highly organized stratum of "life". Even any supposed artificial production of experiences (in the future) accordingly requires dependence upon biological entities to design and manufacture those machines. Though the latter would surely be contradictory with the very idea of it being restricted to the biological realm, it's apparently either just an "unremarkable" cognitive dissonance that this intellectual camp holds or entertains (to the extent that knowledge of it engenders no effect or change upon their stance) -- or they reject at the outset the prediction of machines acquiring the capability, to avoid the dissonance.

I'd agree with Chalmers below that calling the rival view "crazy" isn't a valid protest; but if the "its crazy" objectors are still the ones dominating and steering opinion, a dismissal of their dismissal will still hardly grant pan-protophenomenalism any legs to run on.

David J. Chalmers: Panpsychism, taken literally, is the doctrine that everything has a mind. In practice, people who call themselves panpsychists are not committed to as strong a doctrine. They are not committed to the thesis that the number two has a mind, or that the Eiffel tower has a mind, or that the city of Canberra has a mind, even if they believe in the existence of numbers, towers, and cities. Instead, we can understand panpsychism as the thesis that some fundamental physical entities have mental states. For example, if quarks or photons have mental states, that suffices for panpsychism to be true, even if rocks and cities do not have mental states. Perhaps it would not suffice for just one photon to have mental states. The line here is blurry, but we can read the definition as requiring that all members of some fundamental physical types (all photons, for example) have mental states. For present purpose, the relevant sorts of mental states are conscious experiences. I will understand panpsychism as the thesis that some fundamental physical entities are conscious: that is, that there is something it is like to be a quark or a photon or a member of some other fundamental physical type. This thesis is sometimes called panexperientialism, to distinguish it from other varieties of panpsychism (varieties on which the relevant entities are required to think or reason, for example), but I will simply call it panpsychism here. Panpsychism is sometimes dismissed as a crazy view, but this reaction on its own is not a serious objection. While the view is counterintuitive to some, there is good reason to think that any view of consciousness must embrace some counterintuitive conclusions. Furthermore, intuitions about panpsychism seem to vary heavily with culture and with historical period. --Panpsychism and Panprotopsychism

20. ### Rav∞Valued Senior Member

Messages:
2,422
It may not be radical to suggest that cognition and conscious awareness are confined to particular highly ordered and interactive collections of matter, such as human brains, but I think it is somewhat radical to suggest that there are no non-biological precursors to this "realm" or "dimension" of experience. If there aren't, then the brain is doing magic. It might be doing an impressive dance, but it is still conjuring something out of nothing.

Perhaps it is, instead, conjuring something out of something, that something being part of what matter actually is. I'm not suggesting panpsychism or panexperientialism, or even panprotopsychism or panprotoexperientialism, although some people might insist that I am. Really, why must the fundamental building blocks of experience be conceptualized as protoexperience, as if the fundamental building blocks of stars must be conceptualized as protostars? It's absurd. What's so scary about suggesting that matter simply has additional phenomenality that we haven't been able to properly examine yet, and that given the right sort of architecture, those properties can give birth to emergent phenomena such as the mind? Again, I'm not sure how this means you're necessarily flirting with panpsychism, or whatever.

Last edited: Apr 21, 2013
21. ### Billy TUse Sugar Cane Alcohol car FuelValued Senior Member

Messages:
23,198
Not sure I fully understand your post 116 points but will comment and answer this question anyway:

I don´t see any fundamental reason why complex sets of logical devices made of silicon, etc. could not have phenomenal events as they process information collected from their environment. I strongly doubt any of them will for many decades, at least, and perhaps never, but it is sort of an academic question as we can never know whether or not they do.

I think also, if that is what you are saying, that the common view of cognitive scientists that conscious experiences / perception "emerges" after many stages of neural processing of data provided by the senses, is both fundamentally wrong and more "hand-waving" than explanatory. You may know that I have an alternative theory that I call the Real Time Simulation, RTS, which is both explanatory and highly plausible that it would have been the result of evolution as it gives great survival advantage. For example explains how and why one relatively small group "exploded" out of Africa about 50K years ago and was able to kill off all other groups they came into contact with, including the larger, bigger brained, stronger, Neanderthals who quite possibly did process environmental information as modern cognitive scientists claim. I.e. had their perception of their environment slightly delayed by the information flowing thru many stages of neural transformation until "perception emerged" instead of having a real time understanding of their environment.

Trying ducking a thrown rock at you if your understanding of where it currently is, is obsolete because it has 0.1 seconds delay for the sequential stages of neural processing to complete.

There are literally dozens of facts, difficult for the proponents of "perception emerges following many stage of neural processing" to explain that the RTS naturally explains. To name just three: (1) How can visual experiences emerge in dreams when the eyes are shut and there is no environmental data to process? (2) Why are phantom limbs just as perceptually real as their owner´s physically real limbs? (3) Why are there more neural axons coming to the visual cortex V1 from the parietal lobes than from the eyes (via the LGN)?

If perceptual experiences, qualia, and even ones psychological self are created in the parietal lobe as I believe, then dozens of known facts, from many different areas, currently mysterious to the accepted “emergent” POV are easily explained or even predicted by the RTS. Things like uni-lateral neglect following a parietal stroke, why the P300 EEG signal is strongest over the parietal lobes, etc. because I postulate that is where the RTS is constructed. This POV even makes the existence of free will compatible with the physical nature of neural activity instead of impossible. (But I still doubt genuine free will exists.) I.e. humans, and perhaps in some distant future day, even machines could have genuine free will, with no conflict with their “mechanical nature” or the laws of chemistry and physics.

For other examples, more details, and evidence supporting the RTS view of how perception, experiences and qualia arise see:
http://www.sciforums.com/showpost.php?p=905778&postcount=66
But this post is focused on how genuine free will might be possible despite the firing of every nerve being deterministically controlled by the laws of neuro-chemistry and physics.

22. ### C CConsular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy"Valued Senior Member

Messages:
2,313
Yes, I have mixed feelings about having to use terms like "panpsychism, panexperientialism, etc" as well. It's primarily just an attempt to be understand at all, since if I totally invented one of my own from other combining forms then people wouldn't have any familiar handle to grab onto for deciphering what I meant.

I dislike panpsychism because it obviously suggests a "mind" in the fullest sense.

Even panexperientialism can imply cognition not being absent, because in former times (going back to Kant) experience was often intended to refer to what resulted after concepts or "interpretation operations" were applied to raw appearances. (Today the eliminativist-related crowd at times seems to be the faction still hanging onto that, that experience doesn't outrun cognition.)

"Proto-consciousness" is handicapped by "consciousness" being such a large umbrella term that carries far more than just what the hard problem targets.

"Proto-sentience" can erroneously suggest a sensory / feeling / emotional system of one sort or another being in place.

Even my use of "protophenomenal" is tainted by controversies over "qualia" during the 20th century infecting the archaic meaning of the root as "shown forth, showing, etc". That is, "phenomenal" as in anything at all being present or manifested (that the capacity for that abides with matter at its very bottom). Rather than as confined to the last century's quibbling over whether or not primitive "pixels" of this or that "quale" or "what it's like" are arbitrarily appearing due to a chemical reaction, disturbance in a magnetic field, or just the overall state of forces involved in holding an atom, etc, together.

In traditional materialism, that what seems to follow death is "nothingness" -- that the universe as it exists independent of consciousness is the absence of any kind of appearance or manifestation whatsoever -- could be explained as lack of working memory and other stored patterns for understanding (or cognizing) that "something actually is there". Going back to Kant's: Intuitions without concepts are blind; and the latter interpretative templates without such content / appearances would be empty (a seemingly absent existence and lack of activity either way). "Memory" might be said to be basic and universal in the crudest ways (like a metal coat hanger retaining a bent shape), but the cosmos abroad simply lacks the fundamental precursor of memory being complexly organized into a cognitive system, or a means of "understanding" and representing information (or whatever) as "something being present". Memory achieves its fullest power in brains, computers, etc. -- a systemic, functioning structure.

Last edited: Apr 21, 2013
23. ### C CConsular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy"Valued Senior Member

Messages:
2,313
Thanks for the link. I'm going to stash it or a saved page itself away somewhere this time around to where I can better find it for gradual examination, and future reference. I've allowed bookmarks and folders alike to become far too cluttered for easily locating anything.