Consciousness, Emergence, Evolution Theory, and Scientific Materialism

Paisley
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Consciousness, Emergence, Evolution Theory, and Scientific Materialism

Several points...

- I am using the term "consciousness" to mean, at the very least, "conscious-awareness."

- It is generally argued by materialists that consciousness is an "emergent" property. That is, somewhere during the process of biological evolution, consciousness suddenly emerged in living organisms. Exactly when this emergence occurred seems to be a bit of mystery. And there doesn't appear to be any kind of consensus in the scientific community concerning which organisms are conscious and which are not. Also, keep in mind that consciousness as an emergent property cannot be compared to any other form of emergence we may observe in nature because every other form is physical, not mental. 

- Evolution theory basically holds that the fittest survive by the process of natural selection. In other words, those members of a species with genetic traits or characteristics which confer some kind of survival benefit are the ones that live and reproduce and thereby pass on their traits to subsequent generations.

- Materialism generally holds that consciousness is a by-product or an epiphenomenon of the physical or that consciousness supervenes on the physical. Both epiphenomenalism and supervenience theory hold that conscious is not causally-efficacious. (Incidentally, both eiphenomenalism and supervenience are dualistic...but now I digress.)

Here's the dilemma for materialists as I see it...

Why was the characteristic  or trait of conscious-awareness naturally selected if consciousness does not confer any survival benefit?  In other words, why aren't all living organisms simply organic "robots without consciousness?" (Remember, according to materialism, consciousness is not causally-efficacious. So it cannot confer any survival benefit.)

"Scientists animated by the purpose of proving they are purposeless constitute an interesting subject for study." - Alfred North Whitehead


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Quote:It's not funny anymore

Quote:
It's not funny anymore how consistently you confuse two different things and then find a way to form a conflated argument around them.

Well, I'm still laughing. Sticking out tongue

 

I think the only thing that could possibly ramp-up the humor in this thread (or the other) is if Paisley actually met my challenge and attempted to give a definition of his own regarding the term 'quanta'.

Of course, paradoxically, not giving that definition and pretending like I never asked such a question has, for me, brought this discussion to it's current height in chuckledom. It's like listening to a Kent Hovid evolution denial lecture, where the problem is quite apparently the lecturer's void of knowledge in the subject matter he's trying to lecture on.

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"Natasha has just come up to the window from the courtyard and opened it wider so that the air may enter more freely into my room. I can see the bright green strip of grass beneath the wall, and the clear blue sky above the wall, and sunlight everywhere. Life is beautiful. Let the future generations cleanse it of all evil, oppression and violence, and enjoy it to the full."

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This is what I meant in the

This is what I meant in the other thread when I said that Paisley was incapable of knocking down his own strawmen.

"I do this real moron thing, and it's called thinking. And apparently I'm not a very good American because I like to form my own opinions."
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JillSwift wrote:Obviously

JillSwift wrote:
Obviously you don't know what emergence is - and I'm not interested in discussing "philosophical" anything.

Yes, I do know what emergence is. There are two forms of emergence: strong and weak. Strong emergence is irreducible to its constituent parts. And it is probably best understood by invoking the common expression "the whole is greater than the sum of its parts."

Weak emergence is reducible to its constituent parts. This is the one that is usually invoked in science, as was pointed out by another forum member.

By the way, this is a debate forum. We're not conducting scientific research here. If you do not wish to discuss anything philosophical, then you probably should not participate in this or any other thread.

JillSwift wrote:
Also, why do you keep insisting that consciousness is not causally-efficacious?

Mental events are correlated with physical events, but correlation is not causation. If you argue that mental events are identical with physical events, then I will invoke sufficient causation and materialistic reductionism. In a strictly materialistic worldview, all phenomena must be explained in physical terms. This is necessary for materialism to hold true. If all mental phenomena can be explained in terms of the physical, then appealing to the mental is irrelevant. The physical explanation is sufficient. Hence, the term - sufficient causation.

In a strictly materialistic world, the laws of physics and chemistry are mechanical and nonteleological. Taking this and evolutionary theory into account, why is the world populated with conscious human beings rather than zombies? In theory, it should be possible for the world to be poplulated with zombies.

JillSwift wrote:
Proto-conciousness is awareness of context without being aware of that awareness. In essence it is a very complex stimulus-response system. The overall system is complex enough to generate complex behavior, but not complex enough to have emergent systems.

Several questions...

1) What scientific evidence do you have to make the assertion that "proto-consciousness" is "awareness of context without being aware of that awarneness?"

2) Do you believe that it is possible for there to be just "pure awareness"...i.e. awareness without being aware of something other than awareness itself?

3) What does "complex behavior" have to do with the state of simply being aware?

4) Just for clarification....Are you saying that proto-consciousness is not an emergent property?

5) Is it possible for there to be awareness of awareness of awareness, etc. ?

JillSwift wrote:
Where "true" conciousness includes an awareness of self-other and an awareness of the awareness of context. A sufficient number of the stimulus-response subsystems in such a brain are internal - their stimulus is from other stimulus-response subsystems, and their response is always to send a stimulous to other subsystems. The result is an emergent system most would call a "mind".

And "proto-consciousness" is not an emergent system? Right?

JillSwift wrote:
Define this "concious-awareness" so I know how it differs from conciousness. It sounds like a tautology to me.

The state of being aware.

I don't think I can define it in simpler terms without appealing to tautology. It can only be define in terms like itself.

JillSwift wrote:
Paisley wrote:
Are there "stimulus-response systems" that neither have "proto-consciousness" nor "true consciousness?" If so, why not?

Yes there are. Their simplicity does not allow for complex behavior.

I must reiterate that the "state of being aware" is not complex behavior. Indeed it is the essence of simplicity. That being said, at what level of complexity does a "stimulus-response system" experience awareness? What is the most simple stimulus-response system that has proto-consciousness?

"Scientists animated by the purpose of proving they are purposeless constitute an interesting subject for study." - Alfred North Whitehead


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 Quote:Yes, I do know what

 

Quote:
Yes, I do know what emergence is. There are two forms of emergence: strong and weak. Strong emergence is irreducible to its constituent parts. And it is probably best understood by invoking the common expression "the whole is greater than the sum of its parts."

ROFL!!!

Oh my fucking Jesus on a fucking pogo stick jumping to the fucking moon!

Paisley, you just defined emergence by giving an example of emergence.  Seriously, dude.  Have you been to school?  This is basic grade school stuff.  You cannot define something with an example or by using the word in the definition.

Quote:
By the way, this is a debate forum. We're not conducting scientific research here. If you do not wish to discuss anything philosophical, then you probably should not participate in this or any other thread.

It's ironic that you don't realize how badly you're doing at philosophy, or that everyone here is engaging you on the level of philosophical discourse.  You have a very, very severe problem with definitions.

 

 

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 By the way, Paisley, I

 By the way, Paisley, I know that you just copied and pasted a few sentences from Wikipedia.  You just proved that you have no grasp of the concept because you couldn't even write your own sentence and trust yourself to get it right.

 

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JillSwift wrote:Paisley

JillSwift wrote:

Paisley wrote:
This is really beginning to become "Clintonesque"....

well, this all depends on what the defintion of "is" is.....

If the meaning of the term "awareness" is not immediately self-evident to you, then this discussion is obviously an exercise in futility because I am trying to verbally communicate with someone who is either....1) not conversant in English or...2) a functional zombie. But ironically enough, this goes directly to the point. If the mechanical worldview of materialism is correct, then why isn't the world populated with zombies rather than with these bumbling "robots with consciousness" who profess to be without a belief in God?

Hahahahhaaa! Oh you are such a card! Quite the sense of humor.

What? You were serious?

Yes.

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Paisley wrote:JillSwift

Paisley wrote:
JillSwift wrote:
What? You were serious?
Yes.
Oh my. =>.<=

Pais-Pais, I'm really sorry, but you really are bad at this whole debate/discussion thing.

You make assertions that you won't defend, presumably because you mistakenly think they're axiomatic.

You refuse to give definitions of terms you use, again probably because you mistakenly believe they're axiomatic.

Then, in stark contrast, you demand finer and finer definitions from everyone else.

To make things even worse, you present your arguments as if any failure to defend our arguments means your argument is de facto correct.

It's a game I'm not sure I'm willing to play anymore.

"Anyone can repress a woman, but you need 'dictated' scriptures to feel you're really right in repressing her. In the same way, homophobes thrive everywhere. But you must feel you've got scripture on your side to come up with the tedious 'Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve' style arguments instead of just recognising that some people are different." - Douglas Murray


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Hambydammit wrote: It's

Hambydammit wrote:

 It's ironic that you don't realize how badly you're doing at philosophy, or that everyone here is engaging you on the level of philosophical discourse.  You have a very, very severe problem with definitions.

At this point severe is the understatement of the year with paisley, if he could properly define emerge....and for the sake of the argument I am going to do it because it's gotten to the point of utter stupidity now, in regards to science has it has been explained to me by an old friend of mine a professor of biology from McMasters Univerity, Emergence in science is used to describe how more complex systems arise from simple systems, this can include patterns as well, everything from structures in nature to man made structures. this is about as basic as it got...then he went right over my head with emergent behavior and emergent properties as well etc, etc, etc....needless to say I looked like a deer in headlights...with a bit of drool coming down the side of my mouth.

Now with that said, Strong and weak is just touching the surface, and depends on how you are using it. However using your own description you failed to even understand the differences between strong and weak as weak is what we would be using here regarding the consciousness and not strong, even you cannot use strong emergence as strong emergence as it is generally used to describe how these components interact, now how they arose from their base components, since you used wikipedia, you would have notices that strong emergence is used in Etiology, Epistemology and Ontology, oddly enough they are all philisophical fields as well. Where weak is what you are trying to argue here because you are trying to break down consciousness and how it arose from it's BASE COMPONENTS....which happens to be the brain, which is where we have to break it down even more at this point in all the parts that make up the brain.


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Paisley wrote:Yes, I do know

Paisley wrote:

Yes, I do know what emergence is. There are two forms of emergence: strong and weak. Strong emergence is irreducible to its constituent parts. And it is probably best understood by invoking the common expression "the whole is greater than the sum of its parts."

Weak emergence is reducible to its constituent parts. This is the one that is usually invoked in science, as was pointed out by another forum member.

No, you don't know what emergence is. Almost every time you used it, you confused it with the word "emerge," as in, "the woodchuck emerged from his hole and commenced chucking wood." You used it as if it denoted a point in time. You did not use it in the sense of complexity arising from simplicity. Your own statements prove you really have no idea what emergence is.

The reason why science doesn't deal much with strong emergence is because there's no evidence that strongly emergent systems exist. It's an interesting possibility that exists because of the existence of regular old emergence (referred to as "weak" in philosophic circles). Otherwise, it's no more useful than a discarded shoe.

Now, I've asked you very specific philosophic questions that you have refused to answer. I will ask again, as you are the one so adamantly appealing to philosophy.

1) What is your specific metaphysics? You can even limit it to dualism for the sake of this discussion.

2) What is the epistemic foundation for this metaphysics?

3) How does that epistemic foundation guarantee ontic certainty? Obviously, like science, this certainty may be relative. But you should have a method of judging certainty.

As a staunch defender of philosophy, I trust this will be no problem.

Quote:

By the way, this is a debate forum. We're not conducting scientific research here. If you do not wish to discuss anything philosophical, then you probably should not participate in this or any other thread.

Yes. It's a debate forum that emphasizes rationality. If you do not wish to discuss anything rationally, then you probably should not participate in this or any other thread.

Quote:

JillSwift wrote:
Also, why do you keep insisting that consciousness is not causally-efficacious?

Mental events are correlated with physical events, but correlation is not causation. If you argue that mental events are identical with physical events, then I will invoke sufficient causation and materialistic reductionism. In a strictly materialistic worldview, all phenomena must be explained in physical terms. This is necessary for materialism to hold true. If all mental phenomena can be explained in terms of the physical, then appealing to the mental is irrelevant. The physical explanation is sufficient. Hence, the term - sufficient causation.

Then invoke them. I've looked them up; there's nothing scary there. That is, unless you are a dualist.

I've argued that mental events are identical with physical events. You've not presented anything to contradict that, other than threatening to invoke materialistic reductionism. Go ahead[1]. Use it to prove how your experience of consciousness could not be the simple neural perception of your mind at work, in the same way that your sight is nothing more than the neural perception of the signals generated by your eyes.

The mind works as it does because it processes information. This information is encoded physically. It is processed physically. Our awareness of it is physical in nature; we sense it the same way we sense light, through signals sent via nerves and neurons. This makes it no less real, and no less efficacious, than the dualist separation of brain and mind. In effect, our mind handles mental operation. In reality, our mind is the non-automatic processing of information in our brain. (I exclude the automatic things like keeping the heart beating and the lungs pumping air, and all that nice housekeeping stuff.)

But give an actual debate-quality response. Forego the tedious repetition of the same assertions which we've addressed, to which you never respond.

Quote:

In a strictly materialistic world, the laws of physics and chemistry are mechanical and nonteleological. Taking this and evolutionary theory into account, why is the world populated with conscious human beings rather than zombies? In theory, it should be possible for the world to be poplulated with zombies.

If you mean zombies in the mindless sense rather than the undead, then sure, though the lions would've taken us out pretty early.

But it doesn't matter what the theory is[2]. What matters is that we are here, we are self-aware, we have explanations of how it evolved, and we have learned that all workings of the mind are really just the physical processes of the brain. The empirical evidence for this is pretty overwhelming. Your constant philosophic contortions notwithstanding, there is no evidence to support dualism, while materialism has a huge amount of data and evidence lending it support.

And of course materialism is nonteleological. Teleology describes a world-view of design and direction. I know you like design and direction (probably even "ultimate direction" ). But in reality, there is no epistemic basis for teleology.

That is, unless you have an epistemology that is coherent, congruent with reality, and provides a method of ontic validation?

 

[Edits follow]

[1] As I read back, I see you did invoke materialistic reductionism. My response was short, so as to avoid rambling, but I think I covered the major issues. Sorry about jumping the gun like that, Paisley.

[2] Of course, the "in theory" isn't in any kind of scientific sense, so neither is my, "It doesn't matter about the theory" pronouncement. Stupid mistake. I got sloppy there for a second. My apologies to everyone.

"Yes, I seriously believe that consciousness is a product of a natural process. I find that the neuroscientists, psychologists, and philosophers who proceed from that premise are the ones who are actually making useful contributions to our understanding of the mind." - PZ Myers


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nigelTheBold wrote:No, you

nigelTheBold wrote:
No, you don't know what emergence is. Almost every time you used it, you confused it with the word "emerge," as in, "the woodchuck emerged from his hole and commenced chucking wood." You used it as if it denoted a point in time.

Why do you keep responding to posts that are not specifically addressed to you? Do you not realize that this is rude? Normally, I overlook this type of behavior because I know that I am dismantling your worldview and that this will likely cause you to lose your composure. But  there comes a point where I have to say "basta."  

Please let others speak for themselves. It's not fair to them and it's not fair to me. Thank you.

 

(Mod Edit: Ahem.

You are not a moderator here, Paisley. If you do not wish to respond to what Nigel has written, that's your choice. However, it is not your responsibility - nor is it in your capacity - to offer reprimands to people who have breached your own standards of conduct. This forum has it's own code of conduct, which Nigel has not violated here, and even if he had it would be more appropriate to consult with a mod rather than attempt to discipline yourself.

Consider this a formal warning. Don't pull this shit again.

Thank you.

 - Kevin R Brown)

 

"Scientists animated by the purpose of proving they are purposeless constitute an interesting subject for study." - Alfred North Whitehead


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Why do you paisley

Keep avoiding using the correct definitions of the words, or refuse to correct define how you are using the words, I am assuming at this point is because you realize that you were completely wrong and now are trying to save face...however badly that is. Why don't you answer properly the questions put forth to you. Why don't you properly define the words you are using, why do you keep avoiding doing the most simpliest of tasks asked of you? You are projecting when you state that you are dismantling someone's world view, it is your world view, that is being dismantled, thinking that we are all stupid idoits that cannot defend their positions, yet find it increasingly difficult to defend your position because everyone else has shown you the error of your thinking.


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nigelTheBold wrote:[The

nigelTheBold wrote:
[The problem here is that "consciousness" is left undefined, and you make whatever claim you want about it. Your arguments presuppose dualism, and so any rebuttal that doesn't fall into the dualist model is rejected, even though the rebuttal is sufficient.

Evidently you are not familiar with the term sufficient causation.

And I have defined consciousness ad nauseum. You either know you are aware or your fortfeit your right to continue this discussion by reason of insanity.

nigelTheBold wrote:
Consciousness is nothing more than our perception of our brain at work. It's the brain observing itself, as it were.

So, what exactly does your brain look like from the outside looking in?

nigelTheBold wrote:
This may make us "robots with consciousness," or even just "robots." Big deal. In any case, the act of observing the brain at work affects the working of the brain. Like a feedback loop, it affects the processing of the brain. If this isn't "causally-efficacious," then nothing is.

The act of observing the brain at work affects the working of the brain?

So, does this mean you accept that observation collapses the wave function?

Quote:
Libertarian free will does not necessitate, nor make an argument for, an immaterial soul. That is something tacked on by supernaturalists.

Evidently, you don't know what libertarian free will is. Indeterminism invalidates materialism.

nigelTheBold wrote:
I said that, since intelligence seems to correlate with consciousness, they stem from the same mechanism. Therefore, selecting for intelligence would also select for consciousness.

On the materialistic worldview, intelligence is a completely deterministic process. The only difference between information processing and sensory processing is that sensory processing presupposes awareness. That's all. Nothing changes!

Incidentally, have you ever seen the movie "Night of the Living Dead?"

nigelTheBold wrote:
Computers do not have artificial intelligence. Not even close. Research into AI has increased our knowledge of information theory, but we are still a long way from artificial intelligence.

I'm willing to recant on the "computers have AI" comment. I have had so many conversations with materialists who are trying to convince me that computers actually exhibit conscious behavior that I temporarily lost my bearings.

nigelTheBold wrote:
And as computers are built on a completely different information processing substrate than our brains, there would be nothing that would necessitate that an intelligent computer must also possess consciousness.

What?! Can I recant on my previous recant?

Please define intelligence.

nigelTheBold wrote:
As for the "robots without consciousness" goes: considering you haven't offered up a coherent definition of consciousness, I can't even begin to tell if we're robots without consciousness or not.

The state of being aware. Now, what aren't you getting?

"Scientists animated by the purpose of proving they are purposeless constitute an interesting subject for study." - Alfred North Whitehead


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Paisley wrote:nigelTheBold

Paisley wrote:

nigelTheBold wrote:
Consciousness is nothing more than our perception of our brain at work. It's the brain observing itself, as it were.

So, what exactly does your brain look like from the outside looking in?

Irrelevant - nigel was referring to our perception of [our] brain at work - IOW from the inside, not from the outside.

Quote:

nigelTheBold wrote:
This may make us "robots with consciousness," or even just "robots." Big deal. In any case, the act of observing the brain at work affects the working of the brain. Like a feedback loop, it affects the processing of the brain. If this isn't "causally-efficacious," then nothing is.

The act of observing the brain at work affects the working of the brain?

So, does this mean you accept that observation collapses the wave function?

We aren't talking quantum effects here. Its a feedback loop - our internal perception of our own thought processes is itself a thought process, so it affects subsequent thought processes.

Quote:

Quote:
Libertarian free will does not necessitate, nor make an argument for, an immaterial soul. That is something tacked on by supernaturalists.

Evidently, you don't know what libertarian free will is. Indeterminism invalidates materialism.

Evidently, you don't yet realize, despite repeated explanation, your concept of materialism is not relevant, and your assertion is not valid.

Quote:

nigelTheBold wrote:
I said that, since intelligence seems to correlate with consciousness, they stem from the same mechanism. Therefore, selecting for intelligence would also select for consciousness.

On the materialistic worldview, intelligence is a completely deterministic process. The only difference between information processing and sensory processing is that sensory processing presupposes awareness. That's all. Nothing changes!

A deterministic process is not necessarily a predictable process - the assumption of determinism is not inconsistent with effective 'free will', ie the subjective feeling of free choice, ie unforced by some outside agent.

Quote:

nigelTheBold wrote:
As for the "robots without consciousness" goes: considering you haven't offered up a coherent definition of consciousness, I can't even begin to tell if we're robots without consciousness or not.

The state of being aware. Now, what aren't you getting?

You, Paisley, are still not 'getting' that including 'aware' in the 'definition' of 'consciousness' is NOT adequate as a definition. Pointing to what is virtually a synonym for a word may help someone 'get' the meaning of the first word, but it does not constitute a definition in a more comprehensive sense.

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

"Theology is now little more than a branch of human ignorance. Indeed, it is ignorance with wings." - Sam Harris

The path to Truth lies via careful study of reality, not the dreams of our fallible minds - me

From the sublime to the ridiculous: Science -> Philosophy -> Theology


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Paisley wrote:What exactly

Paisley wrote:
What exactly is your point? That conscious free will does not confer a survival benefit?

My point is that whether it does or not isn't testable, so it's a crappy hypothesis.

Paisley wrote:
Free will as it is commonly understood in ordinary parlance means that, given the same situation and circumstances, I could have chosen otherwise. That's it. Free will implies that there is an element of indeterminacy at play in the world.

That's fine. But we're not using "ordinary parlance", we're using the philosophical vocabulary of the dark ages.

Paisley wrote:
In philosophy, there are basically two conceptions of free will - namely, libertarian free will and compatibilist free will.
 

I have a friend who did his doctoral thesis on the problems of compatibilism, so I'm not unfamiliar with the topic. The problem I have with that misleading dichotomy is that the argument between the two sides always crashes and burns. When that happens over and over again (that is, when we simply cannot determine whether or not we have "free will" ) then I'm left with the thought that we've missed something, and that our terms themselves are misleading. Are these really the only two possible ways we can describe human behaviour? Free or enslaved by time? It's childish. Mankind has an entire biological history that we're still discovering, and we're still picking sides of a debate that may not even have a place in our make-up.

Libertarian and compatibilist free will are all about God, and I'm sure you know that. (Naturally, when the Greeks were into it, it was "gods".) The philosophy isn't really concerned with whether or not "time" or some nebulous force drives us to a pre-determined end, but whether an active god of some sort guides our actions. So this conversation will always stagnate, looking to the invisible, never be able to reach a conclusion that actually fits the behaviours of all ecology.

Paisley wrote:
Clearly, subjective awareness is INVISIBLE. And yet each of us knows that it is real.

But "real" there is perception. Our judgment of intelligence, and even the fact that we turn it into a noun is all a product of a physical mind identifying and evaluating a group of behaviours. Intelligence is actually very evidence based, and not invisible. As soon as we decide, incorrectly, that it's a noun we can attach to things, it loses meaning. Not to say that in regular speech it isn't helpful, but in a rigorous argument, "intelligence" becomes almost immediately difficult to pin down. That's not surprising, since we often unconsciously combine behaviours into one noun for the sake of expedience."Talent" and "help" are both nouns that need verbs to define them, because they briefly describe behaviour.

Paisley wrote:
The basic illusion of the world (and of materialism in particular) is the belief that ulitmate reality is constituted by permanent "things" in motion. But we know that this cannot possibly be the case because subjective awareness is not a "thing." Our first-person experience of our own subjectivity is proof-positive that the immaterial is real.

You've only identified a weakness in our language, and how we use verbs. Nothing more. Our first-person experience of our own subjectivity is simply that: an experience. It is not the basis of an epistemology.

Saint Will: no gyration without funkstification.
fabulae! nil satis firmi video quam ob rem accipere hunc mi expediat metum. - Terence


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Paisley wrote:Why do you

Paisley wrote:

Why do you keep responding to posts that are not specifically addressed to you? Do you not realize that this is rude? Normally, I overlook this type of behavior because I know that I am dismantling your worldview and that this will likely cause you to lose your composure. But  there comes a point where I have to say "basta."  

Please let others speak for themselves. It's not fair to them and it's not fair to me. Thank you.

Because you keep ignoring or misrepresenting the salient points of my posts? Because you keep dodging the important issues? Do you not realize that this is rude?

And it's a sign that you either don't know what you are talking about, or that you have no real rebuttal. In either case, you are a long way from dismantling my worldview. I'm far from upset. A tad frustrated at your willful ignorance, but not upset.


 

"Yes, I seriously believe that consciousness is a product of a natural process. I find that the neuroscientists, psychologists, and philosophers who proceed from that premise are the ones who are actually making useful contributions to our understanding of the mind." - PZ Myers


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nigelTheBold wrote:And it's

nigelTheBold wrote:

And it's a sign that you either don't know what you are talking about, or that you have no real rebuttal. In either case, you are a long way from dismantling my worldview. I'm far from upset. A tad frustrated at your willful ignorance, but not upset.

 

Well I, for one, am right pissed. My frustration is at an apparently intelligent poster who refuses to allow his intelligence access to facts. I lose my composure all the time when people do that. It's more than "willful ignorance", it's malicious misrepresentation.

We can do this merry-go-round every time you visit, Paisley, but it strikes me as a huge waste of your time, and merely serves to sharpen an easy argument on our side of the fence.

Us: "There is stuff. Here it is."

You: "There's also other stuff. You can't see it, though. Or measure it at all."

Us: "So ... why do you think it's there?"

You: "Because your metaphysical views are unsustainable."

Us: "Ah."

Saint Will: no gyration without funkstification.
fabulae! nil satis firmi video quam ob rem accipere hunc mi expediat metum. - Terence


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Paisley wrote:Evidently you

Paisley wrote:

Evidently you are not familiar with the term sufficient causation.

And I have defined consciousness ad nauseum. You either know you are aware or your fortfeit your right to continue this discussion by reason of insanity.

I'm familiar with the term. I'm finding it's application here difficult to imagine. The only application I can see is if you assume materialism to be insufficient in explaining consciousness. As materialism is more than sufficient (as has been amply demonstrated), this is illogical. In fact, due to the empirical evidence that mental workings are tied to the physical brain, it's not only a sufficient explanation, it's necessary.

As for the definition: are you sure you don't mean it to include dualism? Because you seem to assume it does in this conversation.

Quote:

nigelTheBold wrote:
Consciousness is nothing more than our perception of our brain at work. It's the brain observing itself, as it were.

So, what exactly does your brain look like from the outside looking in?

Misrepresentation. Irrelevant.

Quote:

nigelTheBold wrote:
This may make us "robots with consciousness," or even just "robots." Big deal. In any case, the act of observing the brain at work affects the working of the brain. Like a feedback loop, it affects the processing of the brain. If this isn't "causally-efficacious," then nothing is.

The act of observing the brain at work affects the working of the brain?

So, does this mean you accept that observation collapses the wave function?

Non sequitur. Irrelevant.

Quote:

Quote:
Libertarian free will does not necessitate, nor make an argument for, an immaterial soul. That is something tacked on by supernaturalists.

Evidently, you don't know what libertarian free will is. Indeterminism invalidates materialism.

According to your favourite quote mine, Wikipedia, Libertarian free will does not necessitate immaterialism. That is only one interpretation. And has been pointed out numerous times, your view of materialism hasn't been widely extant for almost 100 years. This further indicates that indeterminism does not invalidate materialism. In fact, there appear to be many materialists who accept libertarian free will based on the indeterminism in quantum physics.

Your view of the incompatibility of indeterminism with materialism appears to be dogmatic, even among philosophers.

Quote:

nigelTheBold wrote:
I said that, since intelligence seems to correlate with consciousness, they stem from the same mechanism. Therefore, selecting for intelligence would also select for consciousness.

On the materialistic worldview, intelligence is a completely deterministic process. The only difference between information processing and sensory processing is that sensory processing presupposes awareness. That's all. Nothing changes!

Ignoring the thesis. Irrelevant.

Further, you've not explained what indeterminism has to do with consciousness (or self-awareness). As this discussion is nothing at all about free will, but consciousness and evolution, tying free will to consciousness is a strawman.

What you are saying is this: as consciousness is not based on any physical process, it couldn't have evolved. I already knew that you were a dualist. I didn't need you to tell me that again, in yet another way. (Or the same way, yet again.)

One of the issues here is that you are assuming determinism (an ontic property) begets determinability (an epistemic property). You can have ontic determinism with a resulting epistemic indeterminability, via emergence.

So though in a completely deterministic reality (which we may or may not have), you can still have indeterminability, which appears exactly the same as indeterminism at the level of the emergent system. In many cases, an already-running emergent system is indistinguishable from an indeterminate system.

Note that I am not addressing QM here. At all.

Quote:

Incidentally, have you ever seen the movie "Night of the Living Dead?"

No. It's one that I feel culturally-deprived for not seeing. I reckon I should Netflix it.

Quote:

I'm willing to recant on the "computers have AI" comment. I have had so many conversations with materialists who are trying to convince me that computers actually exhibit conscious behavior that I temporarily lost my bearings.

Gotcha.

Yeah, anybody who says that without providing some reference is merely spouting nonsense.

Quote:

nigelTheBold wrote:
And as computers are built on a completely different information processing substrate than our brains, there would be nothing that would necessitate that an intelligent computer must also possess consciousness.

What?! Can I recant on my previous recant?

Please define intelligence.

You can recant if you want. I don't know why you would. This has nothing to do with the last.

My personal definition of intelligence is the ability to synthesize new ideas from existing data. "Intelligence" is a vague concept, including the ability to reason, and think abstractly, and so on; I like my shorthand, because it works for me.

Here's my reasoning for that statement:

If "consciousness" is self-awareness (to use your definition), there is nothing innately conscious about intelligence. A computer may be able to do all the abstract thinking of which a human is capable, yet not exhibit an awareness of identity. In fact, I think it will be much more likely that we can program a computer to have human-level intelligence without self-awareness than one with self-awareness.

This is because the binary switches in a modern computer are completely different from the neural pathways in our brain, and the information processing functions of the computer behave in a completely different manner than our neurons. The emergent systems that arise will be completely different. Therefore, it is extremely unlikely that computers in their present form will behave like our brains, and it is illogical to suppose that they will exhibit consciousness, an emergent system in our brains.

This may change with the advent of quantum computers, as we are entering into a whole new realm. I'm just talking modern digital computers.

Hope that helps.

Quote:

nigelTheBold wrote:
As for the "robots without consciousness" goes: considering you haven't offered up a coherent definition of consciousness, I can't even begin to tell if we're robots without consciousness or not.

The state of being aware. Now, what aren't you getting?

I don't get why you ignore your definition of consciousness throughout this thread. You keep using it to mean dualistic consciousness, which goes well beyond your definition. You seem to be denying that materialism can result in self-awareness, which is illogical, and inconsistent with your definition.

That's all.

 

[edit]

Removed or altered some statements that didn't turn out like I'd intended.

"Yes, I seriously believe that consciousness is a product of a natural process. I find that the neuroscientists, psychologists, and philosophers who proceed from that premise are the ones who are actually making useful contributions to our understanding of the mind." - PZ Myers


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BMcD wrote:Not at all. And

BMcD wrote:
Not at all. And I'm using 'ape' to refer to.... apes. Humans, gorillas, chimpanzee, orangutan, etc. You know, apes. Saying that apes are potentially able to construct a complex enough set of self-stimuli so as to cause an internal perception of self-determinism doesn't presuppose consciousness, only awareness of existence. As mentioned, the science is beginning to pile up to demonstrate that the internal perception we label 'consciousness' is not actually the part of our brain activity that's making our decisions. It may simply be the part of the brain's activity that attempts to collate the aggregate stimuli into a cohesive framework.

I have clearly defined "consciousness" in the context of this thread to mean "conscious-awareness." In philosohical discourse, the technical term is "qualia".

Your foregoing statement "self-determinism doesn't presuppose consciousness, only awareness of existence" is inherently self-refuting.

BMcD wrote:
Paisley wrote:
What exactly are you peddling? Some form of eliminative materialism (i.e. the especially pernicious form of materialism that actually denies that consciousness - human or otherwise - exists?) And the members on this forum are calling me the irrational one? LOL

I'm 'peddling' following the data, and not letting comforting assumptions stand in the way of a fair and objective reading of the results. If you've got actual empirical evidence that supports your position, present it.

It is becoming increasingly clear to me that you are a fanatical believer in "eliminative materialism and/or behaviorism." Why you are not willing to acknowledge this is leading me to believe that you have something to hide.

Eliminative materialism "solves" the mind/body problem by denying the existence of subjective experience (i.e. qualia). It is so obviously misguided and irrational that I realize to continue this discussion would be to engage in an exercise of futility. I cannot have a rational discussion with an individual who asserts consciousness does not exist! However, my humanity compels me to plead with you once again by asking you to yeild to a modicum of reason. To reiterate: Subjective awareness is axiomatic (self-evident). Any attempt to deny it presupposes it. You cannot salvage your materialistic worldview by attempting to explain conscious-awareness away. I'm afraid that will not work. To persist in such a self-delusional endeavor will most certainly culminate in complete and utter insanity. 

"Scientists animated by the purpose of proving they are purposeless constitute an interesting subject for study." - Alfred North Whitehead


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Facepalms

well paisley like always your refusal to define anything properly is irritating because your trying to sound intelligent but keep coming off ignorant. Consciousness isn't properly defined as conscious aware because really what does that mean, as both can have various meanings, as I have been nice enough to point out to you, and even then are you talking about phenomenal conscious or access conscious, or one of the various other definitions or forms of consciousness? I mean we can really get really detailed here as the subject of consciousness cannot be so easily solved by saying conscious is conscious aware.

What is irrational is your lack of understanding WHY it is important, even in philosophical terms you have to define your terminology far better then the vague description you have given. The fact that you also ignore all the arguments because they either don't fit your description of materialism or conscious-aware (which if you actually properly defined this wouldn't be an issue but we have to keep playing this little word game of yours). As such even bob as dismantled your argument regarding materialism, the fact that the more your write about this topic the more your ignorance on the entire subject shows, and even more the fact that your ignorance on various topics show up, such as in philosophy, science, evolution, etc, etc, etc.

As such I have given you ample time to define your argument far better then what you have, but because you refuse to do the most simplest task that if in a proper debate you would have been dismissed as an idiot, I leave this thread simply because your being to damn ignorant to bother with anymore.


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Paisley wrote:I have clearly

Paisley wrote:

I have clearly defined "consciousness" in the context of this thread to mean "conscious-awareness."

What a fruitless discussion. He can't or won't define any of his terms and then declares that he has defined them multiple times. Do you get it that this is NOT a definition? Saying 'consciousness means conscious-awareness' is not a definition. You can't use a word and its synonym as that word's definition. That is like saying 'person means person-human' or 'car means car-vehicle.' Do you see how those are not definitions either? They are true in the sense that 'some word'='that word and its synonym', but they are not definitions. Am I the only one befuddled by Paisley's bizarre inability to give a definition?

We still need your definition for consciousness. You won't give it. So I guess that there can be no meaningful discussion on this matter with you. What else is there to say?

I would recommend that other posters consider refusing to respond to Paisley's blathering until he gives a definition of the word 'consciousness.' Until he does that I don't think that any meaningful discussion can take place.

"You say that it is your custom to burn widows. Very well. We also have a custom: when men burn a woman alive, we tie a rope around their necks and we hang them. Build your funeral pyre; beside it, my carpenters will build a gallows. You may follow your custom. And then we will follow ours."
British General Charles Napier while in India


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Hammbydammit wrote:Ok,

Hammbydammit wrote:
Ok, Paisley. There are two basic ways to approach self-evidence:

The fact that we are conscious is self-evident.

To make this very statement presupposes that you know the meaning of the term. So, why do keep insisting that I have not properly defined it?

hammbydammit wrote:
The nature of consciousness is certainly not. You're proving that in this very thread by claiming again and again that materialists cannot account for consciousness. If anyone at all cannot account for the definition, then it is most certainly not self evident.

No, the argument that I have made in the OP is that the state of being aware is causally inefficacious. That being the case, then why has nature selected the emergent property of conscious-awareness if it does not confer any survival benefit? Instead of addressing the issue at hand, you and others participating on this thread attempt to divert attention from the argument by quibbling ad nauseum over the definition of subjective awareness.

hammbydammit wrote:
2) Self evident propositions are those whose denial is self-contradictory. The statement "I do not exist" is self contradictory, for existence is required in order to make a statement. Therefore, I exist is self evident.We can try this with consciousness and see the truth of it:

Yes, that I exist is self evident. However, to make the statement presupposes subjective awareness! Do you now see how silly it is to keep insisting that I have not properly defined the word?

hammbydammit wrote:
"I am unconscious" is self contradictory. If I am unconscious, I cannot be conscious of my consciousness. (Notice, I'm using the word in self-reference, but it's ok here because we're not talking about the definition of consciousness, only the realization of it!)

I fail to see what this has to with the fact that conscious awareness is self-evident. However, I will say this. The statment "I am sleeping and dreaming and I am consciously aware that I am sleeping and dreaming" is not contracdictory providing of course that you are actually conciously aware that you are sleeping and dreaming. (The technical term for this is called lucid dreaming.)

Hammbydammit wrote:
"Consciousness is an emergent property of mind" is not self-contradictory. It's not an either-or proposition. It's a definition. Also, "Consciousness is a supernatural manifestation of a dualistic link between spirit and body" is not self-contradictory. It is fallacious, but not self-contradictory.

Assuming that you are using "mind" interchangeably with "brain" (I don't consider the terms interchangeable), then either there is awareness or there is not. It really is an "either-or" situation.

Also, the duality of mind and body is not fallacious. You may not agree with it. But it is not a logically fallacy. Interaction dualism is one theory of mind. It is only fallacious because you have a materialistic bias. However, materialism (a.k.a.) is only a metaphysical belief, not a scientifically validated fact beyond reproach.

"Scientists animated by the purpose of proving they are purposeless constitute an interesting subject for study." - Alfred North Whitehead


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 Quote:To make this very

 

Quote:
To make this very statement presupposes that you know the meaning of the term. So, why do keep insisting that I have not properly defined it?

No, it doesn't.  That's absurd.  Definitions require language, Paisley.  Humans are aware of their own consciousness before they are able to learn language.  Knowledge exists whether or not the knower "knows" that knowledge exists.  That is, humans cannot help but be aware of their own existence.  That is what makes it self evident.  Definitions are part of symbolic communication, which is well above the level of awareness.

 

 

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JillSwift wrote:You make

JillSwift wrote:
You make assertions that you won't defend, presumably because you mistakenly think they're axiomatic.

It's a game I'm not sure I'm willing to play anymore.

Suit yourself. Quite honestly, I can't have a rational discussion with an individual who questions her own subjective awareness.

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 You don't know rational.

 You don't know rational.   You don't know subjective.  You don't know awareness.  You've proven all of this repeatedly.  Your sentence is literally nonsense.

If you disagree with me, please refute me by defining those three terms precisely and completely.

 

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Paisley wrote:No, the

Paisley wrote:

No, the argument that I have made in the OP is that the state of being aware is causally inefficacious.

Not to intrude on your conversation with another, but to clarify, you did not make the argument in the OP that the state of being aware is causally inefficacious. You made the statement that the state of being aware is causually inefficacious. There's a world of difference there. One is, you present both the evidence and the reasoning that a minimum of supposition supported by a modicum of evidence inevitably leads to a conclusion; and the other is, you just state it outright.

Just to be perfectly clear, you engaged in the second form, not the first. Therefore, you made no argument; you gave an assertion.

"Yes, I seriously believe that consciousness is a product of a natural process. I find that the neuroscientists, psychologists, and philosophers who proceed from that premise are the ones who are actually making useful contributions to our understanding of the mind." - PZ Myers


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BobSpence1 wrote:Paisley

BobSpence1 wrote:
Paisley wrote:
nigelTheBold wrote:
Consciousness is nothing more than our perception of our brain at work. It's the brain observing itself, as it were.

So, what exactly does your brain look like from the outside looking in?

Irrelevant - nigel was referring to our perception of [our] brain at work - IOW from the inside, not from the outside.

He said "It's the brain observing itself." In other words, he presupposes subjective awareness before he makes the argument for its emergence. And if you actually think his argument that "consciousness is nothing more than our perception of our brain at work" has solved or contributed anything  of value to the mind/body dilemma, then you're deluding yourself.

BobSpence1 wrote:
We aren't talking quantum effects here. Its a feedback loop - our internal perception of our own thought processes is itself a thought process, so it affects subsequent thought processes.

To reiterate, you're presupposing subjective awareness before you make the argument for its emergence.

BobSpence1 wrote:
Paisley wrote:
Evidently, you don't know what libertarian free will is. Indeterminism invalidates materialism.

Evidently, you don't yet realize, despite repeated explanation, your concept of materialism is not relevant, and your assertion is not valid.

If you persist in this ridiculous assertion that materialism is compatible with physical events occurring without physical causes (i.e. indeterminism), then you fortfeit your right to continue this discussion. I will not engage in a logical debate with an individual who will not adhere to intellectual honesty.

BobSpence1 wrote:
A deterministic process is not necessarily a predictable process - the assumption of determinism is not inconsistent with effective 'free will', ie the subjective feeling of free choice, ie unforced by some outside agent.

Your response implies that free will is an illusion. It may well be. However, the burden of proof is on you to prove that it is because you are admitting that you have the "subjective feeling of free choice."

Also, if you argue that free will is an illusion then you must also argue that the phenomenal world is an illusion. Why? Because the persepctive from which you experience it is obviously illusory and thus you must cast doubt on all your experiences.

BobSpence1 wrote:
Paisley wrote:
The state of being aware. Now, what aren't you getting?

You, Paisley, are still not 'getting' that including 'aware' in the 'definition' of 'consciousness' is NOT adequate as a definition. Pointing to what is virtually a synonym for a word may help someone 'get' the meaning of the first word, but it does not constitute a definition in a more comprehensive sense.

Unless you experience subjective awareness as self-evident, then I cannot continue this discussion. I cannot have a rational discussion with an individual who is skeptical of his own subjectivity. To do so is to embark on a journey where both of us would end up in an insane aslyum.

Incidentally, I noticed that you quoted Sam Harris on your profile. Perhaps you will appreciate what he has to say on the subject of consciousness...

Quote:
"The idea that brains produce consciousness is little more than an article of faith among scientists at present, and there are many reasons to believe the methods of science will be insufficient to either prove or disprove it." (source: pg. 208 "The End of Faith" by Sam Harris)

"Scientists animated by the purpose of proving they are purposeless constitute an interesting subject for study." - Alfred North Whitehead


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Paisley wrote:Quite

Paisley wrote:

Quite honestly, I can't have a rational discussion with an individual who questions her own subjective awareness.

There. Fixed that for you.

"Yes, I seriously believe that consciousness is a product of a natural process. I find that the neuroscientists, psychologists, and philosophers who proceed from that premise are the ones who are actually making useful contributions to our understanding of the mind." - PZ Myers


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nigelTheBold wrote:Now, I've

nigelTheBold wrote:

Now, I've asked you very specific philosophic questions that you have refused to answer. I will ask again, as you are the one so adamantly appealing to philosophy.

1) What is your specific metaphysics? You can even limit it to dualism for the sake of this discussion.

2) What is the epistemic foundation for this metaphysics?

3) How does that epistemic foundation guarantee ontic certainty? Obviously, like science, this certainty may be relative. But you should have a method of judging certainty.

As a staunch defender of philosophy, I trust this will be no problem.

*sounds of crickets chirping*

So it is problem? You actually have no epistemic foundation for your beliefs?

Not surprising.

No wonder you suffer from science envy.

"Yes, I seriously believe that consciousness is a product of a natural process. I find that the neuroscientists, psychologists, and philosophers who proceed from that premise are the ones who are actually making useful contributions to our understanding of the mind." - PZ Myers


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Visual_Paradox wrote:You

Visual_Paradox wrote:
You argue that the intelligence to accurately respond to environments can exist without consciousness, but what reason do you have to bolster your argument, aside from the sophistic flab you have repeatedly offered us thus far? It appears that you have used an argument by analogy whereby you compare humans and robots. Seeing as how robots never evolved, you cannot use an argument by analogy to make a point about evolution. It simply doesn't work. We can make robots without consciousness that can accurately respond to their environments and nature has created beings that do the same, but that does not mean that evolutionary processes cannot lead to certain neuronal configurations that would result in consciousness. Your conclusion is a non-sequitur.

But participants on this thread have argued that not all living organisms have consciousness. If that is so, then the world is already populated with organic "robots."

Also, no one is willing to go on record and specifically state which species have subjective awareness and which ones don't.

"Scientists animated by the purpose of proving they are purposeless constitute an interesting subject for study." - Alfred North Whitehead


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Paisley wrote:He said "It's

Paisley wrote:

He said "It's the brain observing itself." In other words, he presupposes subjective awareness before he makes the argument for its emergence. And if you actually think his argument that "consciousness is nothing more than our perception of our brain at work" has solved or contributed anything  of value to the mind/body dilemma, then you're deluding yourself.

And you presuppose that the mind is separate from the brain. So basically anything you say about consciousness contributes nothing of value to... well, anything.

If you think there's a mind/body dilemma, then you're deluding yourself.

"Yes, I seriously believe that consciousness is a product of a natural process. I find that the neuroscientists, psychologists, and philosophers who proceed from that premise are the ones who are actually making useful contributions to our understanding of the mind." - PZ Myers


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Paisley wrote:Also, no one

Paisley wrote:

Also, no one is willing to go on record and specifically state which species have subjective awareness and which ones don't.

[edit]

Did I not go on record back in post #40? I'm pretty sure I gave a non-exclusive test for subjective awareness back then. It wasn't a comprehensive list, but then, I didn't have enough time to jot down the status of all thirteen million genuses.

[end edit]

 

I'm going on record. On drunk record.

With subjective awareness:

Cats.

Dogs.

Most cetaceans, exluding the pink river dolphin. If the were aware, what the fuck would they be doing in Brazil?

Most primates, exluding a few humans I know. Several of them are close relatives. Others like to argue about Snape in Harry Potter forums.

Horses. But not miniature apartment horses.

Some birds, particularly the raven.

 

Without subjective awareness:

Libertarians.

Philosophers.

Most lawyers.

Spiders. I fuckin' hate spiders.

Most organisms consisting of 1 billion cells or less, excepting necrotizing fasciitis. Those fuckers are more than zombies.

Fundamentalists.

Anyone who thought Three's Company was funny.

Piers Anthony (not his real name).

 

That's a comprehensive list.

"Yes, I seriously believe that consciousness is a product of a natural process. I find that the neuroscientists, psychologists, and philosophers who proceed from that premise are the ones who are actually making useful contributions to our understanding of the mind." - PZ Myers


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Human Embryonic/Fetus Development and Consciousness

Question:

At what time of the development process does subjective awareness emerge in the human embryo/fetus? 

"Scientists animated by the purpose of proving they are purposeless constitute an interesting subject for study." - Alfred North Whitehead


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Paisley wrote:JillSwift

Paisley wrote:

JillSwift wrote:
You make assertions that you won't defend, presumably because you mistakenly think they're axiomatic.

It's a game I'm not sure I'm willing to play anymore.

Suit yourself. Quite honestly, I can't have a rational discussion with an individual who questions her own subjective awareness.

I note that you edited out the sentence about your false dichotomies.


As Nigel's correction suggests, and as your duplicity suggests, you really aren't able to have a rational discussion. At least, not about this.

"Anyone can repress a woman, but you need 'dictated' scriptures to feel you're really right in repressing her. In the same way, homophobes thrive everywhere. But you must feel you've got scripture on your side to come up with the tedious 'Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve' style arguments instead of just recognising that some people are different." - Douglas Murray


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nigelTheBold wrote:Paisley

nigelTheBold wrote:
Paisley wrote:
Also, no one is willing to go on record and specifically state which species have subjective awareness and which ones don't.

Without subjective awareness:

Libertarians.

Philosophers.

Most lawyers.

Spiders. I fuckin' hate spiders.

Most organisms consisting of 1 billion cells or less, excepting necrotizing fasciitis. Those fuckers are more than zombies.

Fundamentalists.

Anyone who thought Three's Company was funny.

Piers Anthony (not his real name).

 

That's a comprehensive list.

You forgot to mention atheists (such as Daniel Dennett) who subscribe to "eliminative materialism." These fuckers*actually believe that qualia (subjective awareness) does not exist and that the only individuals mating and reproducing in the world  are fucking zombies.

Quote:
The non-existence of qualia would mean that there is no hard problem of consciousness, and "philosophical zombies", which are supposed to act human in every way while somehow lacking qualia, cannot exist. So, as Dennett wryly notes, he is committed to the belief that we are all zombies...

Critics of Dennett's approach, such as David Chalmers and Thomas Nagel, argue that Dennett's argument misses the point of the inquiry by merely re-defining consciousness as an external property and ignoring the subjective aspect completely. This has led detractors to nickname the book Consciousness Ignored and Consciousness Explained Away.[3][4] Dennett and his supporters, however, respond that the aforementioned "subjective aspect" as commonly used is non-existent, and that his "re-definition" is the only coherent description of consciousness. Dennett himself actually used "Consciousness Explained Away" as a heading inside the book.

(source: Wikipedia "Consciousness Explained" )

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Consciousness_explained 

* I  used the term "fucker" here only because I know no one here will demand that I properly define it.

"Scientists animated by the purpose of proving they are purposeless constitute an interesting subject for study." - Alfred North Whitehead


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nigelTheBold wrote:Without

nigelTheBold wrote:

Without subjective awareness:

Libertarians.

I'm going to interpret that to mean that I am a purely objective being. My objective awareness can't be out done by progressives or conservatives.

"You say that it is your custom to burn widows. Very well. We also have a custom: when men burn a woman alive, we tie a rope around their necks and we hang them. Build your funeral pyre; beside it, my carpenters will build a gallows. You may follow your custom. And then we will follow ours."
British General Charles Napier while in India


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Paisley wrote:You forgot to

Paisley wrote:

You forgot to mention atheists (such as Daniel Dennett) who subscribe to "eliminative materialism." These fuckers*actually believe that qualia (subjective awareness) does not exist and that the only individuals mating and reproducing in the world  are fucking zombies.

 

Interesting. I didn't realize Dennett's philosophy was so recent, being founded on the work of C.D. Broad, who worked in the '20s. Fascinating stuff.

Yeah, I can't quite bring myself to be an eliminative materialist. I believe that mental states are real, inasmuch as they are physical states of the brain. I guess this makes me a plain old materialist, as they say in the linked article.

I'm gonna have to read up on this. It looks like Churchland, Churchland, and Stich are on my reading list for the next year.

Quote:

* I  used the term "fucker" here only because I know no one here will demand that I properly define it.

Thanks for joining me in a little levity.

"Yes, I seriously believe that consciousness is a product of a natural process. I find that the neuroscientists, psychologists, and philosophers who proceed from that premise are the ones who are actually making useful contributions to our understanding of the mind." - PZ Myers


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Paisley wrote:BobSpence1

Paisley wrote:

BobSpence1 wrote:
Paisley wrote:
nigelTheBold wrote:
Consciousness is nothing more than our perception of our brain at work. It's the brain observing itself, as it were.

So, what exactly does your brain look like from the outside looking in?

Irrelevant - nigel was referring to our perception of [our] brain at work - IOW from the inside, not from the outside.

He said "It's the brain observing itself." In other words, he presupposes subjective awareness before he makes the argument for its emergence. And if you actually think his argument that "consciousness is nothing more than our perception of our brain at work" has solved or contributed anything  of value to the mind/body dilemma, then you're deluding yourself.

But the whole point of "It's the brain observing itself" is that it is not from 'outside', as you queried.

Which does not have anything to do with questions of 'emergence'. And if you don't 'get' that this reflexive and recursive aspect of consciousness and/or awareness is deeply significant to to understanding of higher states of consciousness, you need to study the topic more, especially Dennett and Douglas Hofstadter. I note you refer to a Wikipedia article on Dennett's "Consciousness Explained" where you inaccurately say he 'subscribes' ot 'eliminative materialism'. I have just re-read parts of "Consciousness Explained" where he responds to questions on this issue, and his whole position, which I genrally endorse, is that such labels and questions are poorly conceived, as are concepts such as 'qualia'.

The persistent failure of Dennett's critics to understand his perspective which leads them to mis-represent him in their attempt to fit his ideas into an obsolete framework very much mirrors your inability to understand mine here.

I can understand your response - our misunderstanding is so fundamental that most of your criticisms and questions cannot be really responded to in any simple way, they are couched in terms from such a fundamentally different context.

Quote:

BobSpence1 wrote:
We aren't talking quantum effects here. Its a feedback loop - our internal perception of our own thought processes is itself a thought process, so it affects subsequent thought processes.

To reiterate, you're presupposing subjective awareness before you make the argument for its emergence.

I don't deny that "subjective awareness" exists, the arguments about 'emergence' and so forth are not about its existence, they are about its nature and origin, at least as far as I am concerned.

Quote:

BobSpence1 wrote:
Paisley wrote:
Evidently, you don't know what libertarian free will is. Indeterminism invalidates materialism.

Evidently, you don't yet realize, despite repeated explanation, your concept of materialism is not relevant, and your assertion is not valid.

If you persist in this ridiculous assertion that materialism is compatible with physical events occurring without physical causes (i.e. indeterminism), then you fortfeit your right to continue this discussion. I will not engage in a logical debate with an individual who will not adhere to intellectual honesty.

Here again you persist in your misunderstanding. The nature of quantum events is not strictly "without cause", it requires a more sophisticated understanding of the way "cause" works in the quantum realm. The occurrence of virtual particle pairs and spontaneous radioactive decay both require certain conditions for them to occur, which is the fundamental 'reason' for their occurrence, but the timing appears to be 'indeterminate', or random, altho models involving things like some underlying 'jitter' or energy fluctuation permeating all space, or even all 'existence' as the proximate 'cause' have been proposed.

Accusing me of "intellectual dishonesty" for having a fundamentally different understanding of these issues is ad hominem of the crudest sort. I could validly accuse you of the same for your persistent refusal to acknowledge that there are other non-dualist world-views that go beyond what you label as "scientific materialism", depite my repeated pointing this out to you.

I do agree that it probably is futile for us to continue because the misundersyanding is at such a fundamental level that it is unlikely to be tackled adequately in the context of these forums.

Quote:

BobSpence1 wrote:
A deterministic process is not necessarily a predictable process - the assumption of determinism is not inconsistent with effective 'free will', ie the subjective feeling of free choice, ie unforced by some outside agent.

Your response implies that free will is an illusion. It may well be. However, the burden of proof is on you to prove that it is because you are admitting that you have the "subjective feeling of free choice."

Also, if you argue that free will is an illusion then you must also argue that the phenomenal world is an illusion. Why? Because the persepctive from which you experience it is obviously illusory and thus you must cast doubt on all your experiences.

The assumption of 'free will' in the traditional sense does not contribute to explaining our actual externally observed behaviour. It only arises in discussion of the subjective feelings and consciousness.

I do not have the "burden" of proving that the feeling is an "illusion". It would be more valid (and less question-begging) to require me to explain why we have this feeling.

Since I acknowledge that the context within which we experience it, namely 'consciousness', but is at least in part, a 'confabulation' of underlying processes, it is true that we cannot take any of our perceptions, including our perceptions of our own internal mental processes, at face value, of course. There is massive experimental data to support this.

It does not mean that we automatically must logically treat all our perceptions as totally illusory, but merely, as you also say, we must be prepared to "cast doubt" on them.

Quote:

BobSpence1 wrote:
Paisley wrote:
The state of being aware. Now, what aren't you getting?

You, Paisley, are still not 'getting' that including 'aware' in the 'definition' of 'consciousness' is NOT adequate as a definition. Pointing to what is virtually a synonym for a word may help someone 'get' the meaning of the first word, but it does not constitute a definition in a more comprehensive sense.

Unless you experience subjective awareness as self-evident, then I cannot continue this discussion. I cannot have a rational discussion with an individual who is skeptical of his own subjectivity. To do so is to embark on a journey where both of us would end up in an insane aslyum.

Again it is not a question of me not treating "subjective awareness" as self-evident, it is about the ultimate nature and origin of it.

Quote:

Incidentally, I noticed that you quoted Sam Harris on your profile. Perhaps you will appreciate what he has to say on the subject of consciousness...

Quote:
"The idea that brains produce consciousness is little more than an article of faith among scientists at present, and there are many reasons to believe the methods of science will be insufficient to either prove or disprove it." (source: pg. 208 "The End of Faith" by Sam Harris)

I do have some problems with some of Sam's leanings, but reading the rest of that chapter puts that statement in context.

He also says in that same book

Sam Harris wrote:

The sense of self seems to be the product if the brain's representing its own acts of representation; its seeing of the world begets an image of a one who sees. It is important to realize that this feeling - the sense that each of us has of appropriating, rather than merely being, a sphere of experience - is not a necessary feature of consciousness.

Not too different from my position there. It is more a difference of emphasis on the many remaining problems of understanding consciousness, and the possible explanations.

I will refrain from accusing you of the intellectually dishonest practice of "quote mining", since it would appear that is part of your world-view....

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

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nigelTheBold wrote:Not to

nigelTheBold wrote:
Not to intrude on your conversation with another, but to clarify, you did not make the argument in the OP that the state of being aware is causally inefficacious. You made the statement that the state of being aware is causually inefficacious. There's a world of difference there. One is, you present both the evidence and the reasoning that a minimum of supposition supported by a modicum of evidence inevitably leads to a conclusion; and the other is, you just state it outright.

Just to be perfectly clear, you engaged in the second form, not the first. Therefore, you made no argument; you gave an assertion.

I really don't understand your reasoning here.

On the materialist view, there is only deterministic electrochemical processing occuring in space-time. Whether an electrochemical subprocess has the property or attribute of subjective awareness does not change its behavior. In other words, consciousness does not change the laws of physics and chemistry.

Whether a "stimulus-response system" is conscious or not does not change its behavior. It will always respond mechanically to stimuli.

The problem materialists are having here is that their worldview precludes libertarian free wll and yet they presuppose it in order to argue that consciousness is causally efficacious. I'm sorry, but you can't have it both ways. 

"Scientists animated by the purpose of proving they are purposeless constitute an interesting subject for study." - Alfred North Whitehead


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'Consciousness' is an

'Consciousness' is an emergent property of a complex system of interacting electrochemical processes, which means that the individual processes do not have any attribute of consciousness individually, any more than an individual silicon junction can run Microsoft Office.

The firing of each neuron is determined by the combined effect of signals received from other neurons, some of which may be excitation signals and others inhibition signals.

It is the collective effect of the pattern of firings which is what is believed to give rise to all the 'higher' level phenomena of the brain, up to and including conciousness.

The ill-defined idea of 'free will' is in fact in conflict with the idea that conciousness is a reflection of this underlying neural activity, where patterns of activation corresponding to what we perceive at our conscious level as making a choice, in turn affect which other groups of neurons are activated, and can therefore affect our actions. The reality of how consciousness is understood from the accumulating evidence from brain scans and experiments on the behaviour of people under cleverly designed test situations, as well as evidence from brain-damaged patients, in no way presupposes 'free-will', quite the reverse.

"Dualism" and "Free will" are concepts which have real problems finding justification from modern insights into consciousness and the brain, whereas "scientific naturaiism" incorporates all those insights, by definition.

Anyone whose world-view cannot incorporate the understandings I have outlined is the one with the problem here.

 { EDITED for clarification }

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

"Theology is now little more than a branch of human ignorance. Indeed, it is ignorance with wings." - Sam Harris

The path to Truth lies via careful study of reality, not the dreams of our fallible minds - me

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Paisley wrote:I really don't

Paisley wrote:

I really don't understand your reasoning here.

On the materialist view, there is only deterministic electrochemical processing occuring in space-time. Whether an electrochemical subprocess has the property or attribute of subjective awareness does not change its behavior. In other words, consciousness does not change the laws of physics and chemistry.

Whether a "stimulus-response system" is conscious or not does not change its behavior. It will always respond mechanically to stimuli.

The problem materialists are having here is that their worldview precludes libertarian free wll and yet they presuppose it in order to argue that consciousness is causally efficacious. I'm sorry, but you can't have it both ways. 

I think I see our misunderstanding.

In the context of evolution (which is the point of the OP) there is only one test that is important: would an organism that lacked consciousness behave differently than the identical organism with consciousness? The answer is, yes. Consciousness is causally-efficacious, in the same way that a feedback loop on the brightness output of your TV is efficacious. It's not necessary for the functioning of your TV, but it lets you adjust the output, and helps keep it at a steady level.

As far as libertarian free will: it's irrelevent to the discussion. The discussion is about whether or not consciousness is a selectable trait.

If you assume the existence of consciousness in the absence of libertarian free will, then you may be right; perhaps we are nothing more than "robots" with consciousness. But consciousness is a selectable trait, which is the thesis of the OP.

(I'd quibble with the term "robot" here, but it'd be a quibble.)

"Yes, I seriously believe that consciousness is a product of a natural process. I find that the neuroscientists, psychologists, and philosophers who proceed from that premise are the ones who are actually making useful contributions to our understanding of the mind." - PZ Myers


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There is at least one

There is at least one persistent logic error being made here with regard to the 'immaterial".

Dualism and the supernatural pre-suppose that there are referents which are not material objects, ie 'immaterial".

Atheists deny that dualism and the supernatural are valid concepts.

The conclusion is then drawn that atheists deny the validity of all non-material referents, which is not a valid conclusion.

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

"Theology is now little more than a branch of human ignorance. Indeed, it is ignorance with wings." - Sam Harris

The path to Truth lies via careful study of reality, not the dreams of our fallible minds - me

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BobSpence1 wrote:There is at

BobSpence1 wrote:

There is at least one persistent logic error being made here with regard to the 'immaterial".

Dualism and the supernatural pre-suppose that there are referents which are not material objects, ie 'immaterial".

Atheists deny that dualism and the supernatural are valid concepts.

The conclusion is then drawn that atheists deny the validity of all non-material referents, which is not a valid conclusion.

That is an excellent point.

I'm still struggling with the idea that there may be anything immaterial. I can think of nothing myself, but perhaps I'm looking at it all wrong. As I see it, even completely abstract or fantastic thoughts are still encoded in a physical substrate. Therefore, they are properties of a physical system.

But again, I may be employing a tad too much reductionism.

 

"Yes, I seriously believe that consciousness is a product of a natural process. I find that the neuroscientists, psychologists, and philosophers who proceed from that premise are the ones who are actually making useful contributions to our understanding of the mind." - PZ Myers


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Addressing the OP:When the

Addressing the OP:

When the term 'emergent' is applied to 'consciousness', it is using the term in the sense of "the whole is more than the sum of its parts", where an attribute, ie consciousness, is not possessed by any of the components of a composite entity, such as the human brain. So the second statement is a misrepresentation of the view of all 'non-dualists', not just strict 'materialists'.

Even if consciousness as perceived subjectively is strictly "a by-product or an epiphenomenon of the physical", it is at the very least still an attribute or a manifestation of a particular class of physical process. If that class of process confers some advantage in reproductive success then consciousness will be effectively selected for. Of course, it is usually understood that the subjective experience and the underlying process are really just different aspects of the larger process we refer to as "consciousness", rather than seeing the subjective aspect as purely 'epiphenomenal', which BTW is not inherently a dualistic idea.

To put it another way, "conscious-awareness" will be "naturally selected for" if the kind of processing of experience to assist choice of response or action, which naturally gives rise to such subjectivity, for whatever reason, also results in better choices.

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

"Theology is now little more than a branch of human ignorance. Indeed, it is ignorance with wings." - Sam Harris

The path to Truth lies via careful study of reality, not the dreams of our fallible minds - me

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nigelTheBold

nigelTheBold wrote:

BobSpence1 wrote:

There is at least one persistent logic error being made here with regard to the 'immaterial".

Dualism and the supernatural pre-suppose that there are referents which are not material objects, ie 'immaterial".

Atheists deny that dualism and the supernatural are valid concepts.

The conclusion is then drawn that atheists deny the validity of all non-material referents, which is not a valid conclusion.

That is an excellent point.

I'm still struggling with the idea that there may be anything immaterial. I can think of nothing myself, but perhaps I'm looking at it all wrong. As I see it, even completely abstract or fantastic thoughts are still encoded in a physical substrate. Therefore, they are properties of a physical system.

But again, I may be employing a tad too much reductionism. 

I too have problems with the term 'immaterial', which is why I interpreted in my argument 'immaterial' as referring to anything which is not itself a material object. This would leave attributes of material objects to be arguably 'immaterial' in this strict sense, even though they have no meaning if not associated with at least a hypothetical material object.

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

"Theology is now little more than a branch of human ignorance. Indeed, it is ignorance with wings." - Sam Harris

The path to Truth lies via careful study of reality, not the dreams of our fallible minds - me

From the sublime to the ridiculous: Science -> Philosophy -> Theology


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BobSpence1 wrote:I too have

BobSpence1 wrote:

I too have problems with the term 'immaterial', which is why I interpreted in my argument 'immaterial' as referring to anything which is not itself a material object. This would leave attributes of material objects to be arguably 'immaterial' in this strict sense, even though they have no meaning if not associated with at least a hypothetical material object.

Thanks. I thought I might be missing something. I'm glad to hear we are in accord.

I reckon that would make sense, as a specific concept requires the combination and coordination of multiple elements within the physical substrate. That specific arrangement of elements is required to encode that specific concept. That arrangement then becomes the element for the next level of abstraction within the system, the manipulation and processing of multiple arrangements.

Then there are the arrangements that coordinate to make up the processing system itself.

Huh. That's a textbook example of an emergent system. Each level of organization exhibits different attributes, rules, and processes. I can see the reasoning for calling the information encoded by the arrangements 'immaterial,' even though the arrangements are constructed of very material elements.

My brain hurts.

"Yes, I seriously believe that consciousness is a product of a natural process. I find that the neuroscientists, psychologists, and philosophers who proceed from that premise are the ones who are actually making useful contributions to our understanding of the mind." - PZ Myers


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BobSpence1 wrote:Which does

BobSpence1 wrote:
Which does not have anything to do with questions of 'emergence'. And if you don't 'get' that this reflexive and recursive aspect of consciousness and/or awareness is deeply significant to to understanding of higher states of consciousness, you need to study the topic more, especially Dennett and Douglas Hofstadter.

The "higher states of consciousness?" This is why I defined consciousness in the OP to mean simply "conscious awareness." The state of being aware is primordial.  All sentient beings, regardless of mental abilities, have this ("qualia" is the technical term). 

BobSpence1 wrote:
I note you refer to a Wikipedia article on Dennett's "Consciousness Explained" where you inaccurately say he 'subscribes' ot 'eliminative materialism'.

No, I did not incorrectly say it. I cited a source that substantiates the claim. Daniel Dennett denies the existence of subjective experience (qualia).

Quote:
The most common versions are eliminativism about propositional attitudes, as expressed by Paul and Patricia Churchland,[6] and eliminativism about qualia (subjective experience), as expressed by Daniel Dennett and Georges Rey.[2] 

(source: Wikipedia: eliminative materialism)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eliminative_materialism

BobSpence1 wrote:
Paisley wrote:
To reiterate, you're presupposing subjective awareness before you make the argument for its emergence.

I don't deny that "subjective awareness" exists, the arguments about 'emergence' and so forth are not about its existence, they are about its nature and origin, at least as far as I am concerned.

What is the difference between "emergence" and "origin" in the context you are using the terms?

BobSpence1 wrote:
Paisley wrote:
If you persist in this ridiculous assertion that materialism is compatible with physical events occurring without physical causes (i.e. indeterminism), then you fortfeit your right to continue this discussion. I will not engage in a logical debate with an individual who will not adhere to intellectual honesty.

Here again you persist in your misunderstanding. The nature of quantum events is not strictly "without cause", it requires a more sophisticated understanding of the way "cause" works in the quantum realm. The occurrence of virtual particle pairs and spontaneous radioactive decay both require certain conditions for them to occur, which is the fundamental 'reason' for their occurrence, but the timing appears to be 'indeterminate', or random, altho models involving things like some underlying 'jitter' or energy fluctuation permeating all space, or even all 'existence' as the proximate 'cause' have been proposed.

If quantum indeterminacy is true, then quantum events occur uncaused and unbidden. The reason that the majority of physicists believe in the "many worlds" interpretation (which is a metaphysical belief) is  because "uncaused" events are unacceptable.

BobSpence1 wrote:
Accusing me of "intellectual dishonesty" for having a fundamentally different understanding of these issues is ad hominem of the crudest sort. I could validly accuse you of the same for your persistent refusal to acknowledge that there are other non-dualist world-views that go beyond what you label as "scientific materialism", depite my repeated pointing this out to you.

Puhlease. Quantum theory clearly undermines materialism. All physical events must have a physical cause. Superposed states are abstract potentialities that presupposed mind. Nonlocality implies (to use Einstein expression) that "spooky things really do happen at a distance." But now I am digressing. This thread  is not about QM. It's about consciousness and why it was naturally selected.

BobSpence1 wrote:
I do agree that it probably is futile for us to continue because the misundersyanding is at such a fundamental level that it is unlikely to be tackled adequately in the context of these forums.

It is futile because you cannot explain the internal in external terms. This is the dilemma of a strictly materialistic worldview. How does the materialist resolve this paradox? By employing the terms "emergence" and "complexity" in order to invoke what essentially amounts to magic or to redefine consciousness in order to "eliminate" the problem of subjective experience.

BobSpence1 wrote:
The assumption of 'free will' in the traditional sense does not contribute to explaining our actual externally observed behaviour. It only arises in discussion of the subjective feelings and consciousness.

Then why was consciousness as an emergent property naturally selected?

BobSpence1 wrote:
I do not have the "burden" of proving that the feeling is an "illusion". It would be more valid (and less question-begging) to require me to explain why we have this feeling.

Someone who is experiencing illusions is not in a position to determine who is rational and who is not.

BobSpence1 wrote:
Since I acknowledge that the context within which we experience it, namely 'consciousness', but is at least in part, a 'confabulation' of underlying processes, it is true that we cannot take any of our perceptions, including our perceptions of our own internal mental processes, at face value, of course. There is massive experimental data to support this.

What is the massive experimental evidence that supports that free will is an illusion?

BobSpence1 wrote:
Quote:
"The idea that brains produce consciousness is little more than an article of faith among scientists at present, and there are many reasons to believe the methods of science will be insufficient to either prove or disprove it." (source: pg. 208 "The End of Faith" by Sam Harris)

I do have some problems with some of Sam's leanings, but reading the rest of that chapter puts that statement in context.

He also says in that same book

Sam Harris wrote:

The sense of self seems to be the product if the brain's representing its own acts of representation; its seeing of the world begets an image of a one who sees. It is important to realize that this feeling - the sense that each of us has of appropriating, rather than merely being, a sphere of experience - is not a necessary feature of consciousness.

Not too different from my position there. It is more a difference of emphasis on the many remaining problems of understanding consciousness, and the possible explanations.

I will refrain from accusing you of the intellectually dishonest practice of "quote mining", since it would appear that is part of your world-view....

Sam Harris is just denying the existence of the "ego." Sam Harris is a practicing Buddhist and Buddhism (like most forms of mysticism) consider the world to be illusory.

Quote:
In May 2006, Harris came under sustained attack in a featured article by Meera Nanda for New Humanist, in which she claimed that his analysis of religious extremism was flawed, and suggested that he was criticizing religion "for what seems to be his real goal: a defense, nay, a celebration of Harris' own DzogchenBuddhist and Advaita Vedantic Hindu spirituality." Nanda stated that Harris failed to apply the same critical analysis to the eastern traditions as he applies to western religions, and she argues that the detachment from the Self in Hindu spirituality is part of the recipe for authoritarianism.[28]

(source: Wikipedia: Sam Harris)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sam_Harris_(author) 

 

 

 

"Scientists animated by the purpose of proving they are purposeless constitute an interesting subject for study." - Alfred North Whitehead


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nigelTheBold wrote:I think I

nigelTheBold wrote:
I think I see our misunderstanding.

In the context of evolution (which is the point of the OP) there is only one test that is important: would an organism that lacked consciousness behave differently than the identical organism with consciousness? The answer is, yes. Consciousness is causally-efficacious, in the same way that a feedback loop on the brightness output of your TV is efficacious. It's not necessary for the functioning of your TV, but it lets you adjust the output, and helps keep it at a steady level.

As far as libertarian free will: it's irrelevent to the discussion. The discussion is about whether or not consciousness is a selectable trait.

If you assume the existence of consciousness in the absence of libertarian free will, then you may be right; perhaps we are nothing more than "robots" with consciousness. But consciousness is a selectable trait, which is the thesis of the OP.

No, I don't you do see the misunderstanding. Consciousness is a property. It does not change the behavior of a deterministic, electrochemical process. You keep presupposing free will in your argument (I can adjust the brightness output).

If we are robots with conciousness, then there is no reason that robots with consciousness should have been naturally selected over robots without consciousness.

Incidentally, there is one little glitch in a purely materialistic description of darwinian evolution. When the term "selected" is used, it is meant figuratively, not literally. However, materialists always assume that life emerged by chance. In a deterministic world, nothing is left to chance. Everything that has evolved must have evolved out of logical necessity because it was predetermined. It could not have been otherwise. 

Also, I would argue that we (human beings in the collective) assume conscious behavior to exhibit some element of spontaneity. The more a life form appears to be mechanical, the less likely we are to think of it as having subjective awareness.

"Scientists animated by the purpose of proving they are purposeless constitute an interesting subject for study." - Alfred North Whitehead


nigelTheBold
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Paisley wrote:No, I don't

Paisley wrote:

No, I don't you do see the misunderstanding. Consciousness is a property. It does not change the behavior of a deterministic, electrochemical process. You keep presupposing free will in your argument (I can adjust the brightness output).

If we are robots with conciousness, then there is no reason that robots with consciousness should have been naturally selected over robots without consciousness.

Incidentally, there is one little glitch in a purely materialistic description of darwinian evolution. When the term "selected" is used, it is meant figuratively, not literally. However, materialists always assume that life emerged by chance. In a deterministic world, nothing is left to chance. Everything that has evolved must have evolved out of logical necessity because it was predetermined. It could not have been otherwise. 

Also, I would argue that we (human beings in the collective) assume conscious behavior to exhibit some element of spontaneity. The more a life form appears to be mechanical, the less likely we are to think of it as having subjective awareness.

I do see the misunderstanding. You are demonstrating it here. Consciousness does not equal free will. There is a reason why robots with consciousness would be selected over robots without consciousness: because consciousness is part of the physical system, and as such, changes the behaviour of the physical system. Any change in behaviour is selectable.

Second, materialists don't always assume that life arose by chance. (Again, please be careful when using the word "emerge" to indicate an event while we are discussing the emergent system of consciousness. As we've seen, it's bound to lead to confusion.) If chemistry demonstrates anything, it's that simple building blocks spontaneously form from simpler building blocks in the presense of energy. So, "chance" here is not as in, "pure random coincidence." "Chance" more means, there is the possiblity of two outcomes, both equally alive, and it was "chance" (from epistemic indeterminability, rather than ontic indeterminacy) that one happened rather than the other.

Of course we assume conscious behaviour to exhibit some element of sponaneity. Consciousness, as an emergent system, can exhibit indeterinability. That gives us the same unpredictability as the roll of a dice, or a high-quality non-quantum random number generator. The assumption that we have free will is far from proving it exists.

I understand where you are coming from. You feel there is a "self" that is unrelated to the bag of water that is your body. You feel that decision-making as a process cannot be deterministic in any sense, even if that determinism were indistinguishable from indeterminism. You feel this other "self" must lie outside the purely physical. You feel all this to be true.

And with this, I have a question: when you make a decision, what do you do? What process do you go through? Do you not weigh the consequences of each branch of the decision, based on knowledge and past experience? If so, how is that not just as deterministic as the purely-physical brain? How would the process differ between a dualistic consciousness, and an emergent consciousness based on the physical brain?

"Yes, I seriously believe that consciousness is a product of a natural process. I find that the neuroscientists, psychologists, and philosophers who proceed from that premise are the ones who are actually making useful contributions to our understanding of the mind." - PZ Myers


Paisley
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BobSpence1

BobSpence1 wrote:
'Consciousness' is an emergent property of a complex system of interacting electrochemical processes, which means that the individual processes do not have any attribute of consciousness individually, any more than an individual silicon junction can run Microsoft Office.

Note the terms "emergent property" and "complex system."

BobSpence1 wrote:
The firing of each neuron is determined by the combined effect of signals received from other neurons, some of which may be excitation signals and others inhibition signals.

It is the collective effect of the pattern of firings which is what is believed to give rise to all the 'higher' level phenomena of the brain, up to and including conciousness.

Note the terms "collective effect" and "believed." 

BobSpence1 wrote:
The ill-defined idea of 'free will' is in fact in conflict with the idea that conciousness is a reflection of this underlying neural activity, where patterns of activation corresponding to what we perceive at our conscious level as making a choice, in turn affect which other groups of neurons are activated, and can therefore affect our actions. The reality of how consciousness is understood from the accumulating evidence from brain scans and experiments on the behaviour of people under cleverly designed test situations, as well as evidence from brain-damaged patients, in no way presupposes 'free-will', quite the reverse.

I didn't say it presupposes free will. I said that you are presupposing free will whenever you say the emergent property of consciousness is somehow causing the "complex firing of neurons" to behave differently. If behavior can be explained in strictly physical terms by observing the external, then obviously the mental or internal is irrelevant to the explanation. That being the case, you cannot provide a reason why organic "robots with consciousness" were chosen over organic "robots without consciousness."

BobSpence1 wrote:
"Dualism" and "Free will" are concepts which have real problems finding justification from modern insights into consciousness and the brain, whereas "scientific naturaiism" incorporates all those insights, by definition.

Anyone whose world-view cannot incorporate the understandings I have outlined is the one with the problem here.

Two points...

1) Your worldview (materialism) cannot account for quantum indeterminacy.

2) Quantum mind theories have been proposed that incorporate quantum indeterminacy that, if experimentally validated, would support free will. Here's one example from Evan Harris Walker:

Quote:
A brilliant physicist, Evan Harris Walker developed a sound scientific theory about how the brain might, at quantum levels, process information. In his book, The Physics of Consciousness, he adds log2P to Schrödinger’s equation. What he demonstrates mathematically is that when information is measured by consciousness and will channel capacities in terms of a closed loop, it forces one real solution only when one probable state happens and all other possible states disappear. He offers/proposes physical evidence that this process is occurring in the brain.

(source: Wikipedia: Quantum mind)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quantum_mind 

Incidentally, Walker's theory not only has implications for individual free will but also for a collective will (i.e. God)

"Scientists animated by the purpose of proving they are purposeless constitute an interesting subject for study." - Alfred North Whitehead


Paisley
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BobSpence1 wrote:There is at

BobSpence1 wrote:
There is at least one persistent logic error being made here with regard to the 'immaterial".

Dualism and the supernatural pre-suppose that there are referents which are not material objects, ie 'immaterial".

Atheists deny that dualism and the supernatural are valid concepts.

The conclusion is then drawn that atheists deny the validity of all non-material referents, which is not a valid conclusion.

Two points...

1) There is one misconception that you apparently have. You assume that a belief in the immaterial necessarily assumes dualism

2) Probability waves and geometrical points (has location in space and time, but not dimension) are mathematical abstractions, not material objects. Also, "space" and "time" are clearly not material. 

"Scientists animated by the purpose of proving they are purposeless constitute an interesting subject for study." - Alfred North Whitehead