Consciousness, Emergence, Evolution Theory, and Scientific Materialism

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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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JillSwift wrote:The way in

JillSwift wrote:
The way in which Paisley carefully re-defines words and phrases, as well as deliberately misunderstanding posts, clearly points to his disinterest in discussion. Paisley's constant re-iteration of the point he wants us to concede to clearly points out the "GOTCHA!" he's looking for and fails to find.

Jill Swift is starving for attention. Jill Swift run. See Jill Swift run.

"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:Jill Swift is

Paisley wrote:
Jill Swift is starving for attention. Jill Swift run. See Jill Swift run.
See JillSwift run 2 miles every morning.

See Paisley again avoid the issue and concentrate on an irrelevancy.

"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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Paisley wrote:It would

Paisley wrote:

It would appear that you are now changing the terms of your argument. Previously, you argued that "the only difference between an amoeba and a human is the amount of information processed when selecting an option."

The keyword is "amount." On your view, the only difference between insentient information processing and sentient information processing is the amount of processing involved. Now, you are saying that conscious information processing produces more information. Be that as it may, I don't think this really changes anything. Information comes in as input. The information is processed. And information is generated (or produced) as output. Whether the information processing is conscious or not has no bearing on how much information can be processed and how much information can be produced. Obviously, an amoeba is processing and producing information. If an amoeba does not have subjective awareness, then the amoeba qualifies as a less complex "robot without consciousness." Why hasn't nature selected more complex "robots without consciouness?" Or perhaps she has (e.g. I don't know whether you consider earthworms to have conscious experience....perhaps you don't because they don't process and produce enough information?).

*sigh*

Thanks for quibbling again. I love it when you do that. It helps you avoid the real issues, and sidetracks any effective discussions. Bully for you.

As I see it, self-awareness (or "consciousness-awareness," if you will) provides an organism more information than the same organism would have without self-awareness. That's it. It seems self-evident to me, but it appears you don't grasp this simple concept. Which is OK. It simply delineates where we differ.

As you disagree that self-awareness provides more information (but then later contradict yourself and say it allows the organism to "experience life," whatever that means), we've found the exact point at which we differ.

WHICH IS ALL I ASK FOR! I've been saying that self-awareness gives more information, but you've never argued that point before this. THANK you. Now we can finally see where we disagree.

Quote:

nigelTheBold wrote:
So, let's see where this all breaks down for you. I will ask a series of questions. You can simply say "agree" or "disagree."

1 - There are often many courses of action (options) available to an organism at any given time.

2 - One of these options must be taken (even if that option is to take no action at all).

3 - Free will is not required to select from among the options (for instance, random* selection).

4 - Some options are more "ideal" than others (result in a more-beneficial outcome)

5 - Information about each option is useful in selecting the ideal option.

6 - Consciousness provides an organism with information concerning the effects of an option.

7 - An organism that is aware of the effects of an option will be more able to select an ideal option.

8 - An organism that is more able to select an ideal option is more likely to survive than an organism which is less able to select an ideal option.

I disagree with items six and seven. The bottom line is that an insentient information processing system (or should I say stimulus-response system?) can perform the same foregoing functions. I fail to see how consciousness changes anything. If everything is predetermined by the laws of physics (excluding quantum indeterminism) and chemistry, then there really is nothing left for consciousness to do but to experience life (i.e. electrochemical reactions) as it mechanically unfolds.

6. Okay, I can see why you would disagree with this one. That makes sense (finally!), at least for the moment.

7. Huh? You mean, if an organism has more information about the options, it doesn't matter? The additional information won't allow the organism to discriminate between options, and select a "better" option? That makes no sense!

But now we get to the meat of the issue: what is the meaning of "experience life," and the result of experiencing life? It seems self-evident that experiencing something provides information about that "something." Or perhaps you define experience differently than I do?

Otherwise, why would people look for experienced carpenters, rather than some dude with a hammer and saw? Why do software development companies look for "at least three years experience with LISP?" (Or whatever. Just an example.)

Here's how I see "experiencing life:" I stick my hand in a fire. I get burned. That memory of the fire burning me is imprinted on my mind, and stored in my brain. Next time I see fire, it recalls the time I got burned. So, I avoid sticking my hand in the fire. That's "experience." That's how "experiencing life" provides more information about a situation, and how it affects me. That is how self-awareness ("consciousness," whatever) can influence behaviour.

Of course, that's just me. You may see experience as something else entirely, as I believe you do. It's kind of twisted, really, but I can sort of understand it, if you really need to have "free will" or a "soul" or some other totally undefined and undetectable thing.

I'm just happy to finally know exactly where we differ. Getting that out of you was like pulling teeth (and I'm no dentist), or arguing with a poorly-written Eliza knock-off.

"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:nigelTheBold

Paisley wrote:

nigelTheBold wrote:
Most amazing is his ability to know the philosophic consequence of something that isn't even fully-defined, for which there are many competing hypotheses, and for which we can't claim ontological understanding.

But, that's about on-par with the rest of his philosophic understanding as well, so I reckon it's not that amazing.

This thread is not about QM. Please don't hijack the thread. This is simply a diversionary tactic because you cannot account for why consciousness was naturally selected. All these "brilliant" atheists can't account for why consciousness was naturally selected. It's really quite pathetic.

Actually, my intent was to disparage the rest of your philosophic understanding. Again, you've missed the point entirely.

What's pathetic is your ability to focus on irrelevancies, while avoiding actual engagement. If you would simply discuss concepts, instead of finding ways to repeat yourself over and over, I think we'd accomplish a lot more. It leads me to suspect that you have no real interest in debate, but rather enjoy semantic quibbling.

The point of these sorts of forums is to reach mutual understanding. That doesn't mean mutual agreement: we might not agree on everything, and that's okay. Your "debate" style is one of tactical misdirection. By focusing entirely on your point of view, you are able to completely avoid understanding another's point of view, and therefore avoid engaging in a discussion about that point of view.

As an example: I resorted to spelling out, piece by piece, my argument for the evolutionary efficacy of consciousness. It was only by breaking it down step-by-step and asking you at which point you disagreed that I was able to pinpoint your actual counter-argument. At any point in the past, you had the opportunity to say, "Why, no, nigel, I completely disagree that consciousness imparts additional information about the environment. As you are making the positive claim, please demonstrate how you think consciousness provides additional information!"

See how simple that would've been?

Instead of directly addressing my claim, I get such equivocation as this:

Paisley wrote:

nigelTheBold wrote:
Yes, but when I provided an explanation using your definition, you said that wasn't how you defined it. That's your modus operandi; move the goalposts. That's your personal failing, I guess.

Your so-called explanation not only presupposed subjective awareness but also free will in its argument.  

Which didn't address where you disagreed with me in the least. You introduced "free will," but didn't explain why it was necessary. Instead of requiring me to defend a positive claim, you asserted a positive claim about something that wasn't even under discussion.

In any case, it would be very nice if you tried to understand our arguments enough to address them directly, instead of resorting to repetitious statements about how our arguments "presuppose free will" because we use words like "options" and "decisions." As it stands, that was a non sequitor. Questions engage: statements avoid. You could've rephrased the above by asking, "How does an organism make decisions without free will?" That would've allowed us to have a discussion about the nature of decisions, and the role of free will therein. I suspect we wouldn't've agreed, but we would've had a grand time debating it.

"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:As I see

nigelTheBold wrote:
As I see it, self-awareness (or "consciousness-awareness," if you will) provides an organism more information than the same organism would have without self-awareness. That's it. It seems self-evident to me, but it appears you don't grasp this simple concept. Which is OK. It simply delineates where we differ.

As you disagree that self-awareness provides more information (but then later contradict yourself and say it allows the organism to "experience life," whatever that means), we've found the exact point at which we differ.

WHICH IS ALL I ASK FOR! I've been saying that self-awareness gives more information, but you've never argued that point before this. THANK you. Now we can finally see where we disagree.

Has it every been brought to your attention that you ramble too much?

Yes, we do disagree. Your deterministic, reductionistic, materialistic worldview precludes you from ascribing consciousness with any causal role. Why? Because all mental phenomena must be reduced to physical phenomena. On the materialistic worldview, electrochemical reactions are mechanical and nonteleogical. Whether they are experiential or nonexperiential does not change their mechanical and nonteleogical behavior. It's really that simple.

nigelTheBold wrote:
Paisley wrote:
I disagree with items six and seven. The bottom line is that an insentient information processing system (or should I say stimulus-response system?) can perform the same foregoing functions. I fail to see how consciousness changes anything. If everything is predetermined by the laws of physics (excluding quantum indeterminism) and chemistry, then there really is nothing left for consciousness to do but to experience life (i.e. electrochemical reactions) as it mechanically unfolds.

6. Okay, I can see why you would disagree with this one. That makes sense (finally!), at least for the moment.

7. Huh? You mean, if an organism has more information about the options, it doesn't matter? The additional information won't allow the organism to discriminate between options, and select a "better" option? That makes no sense!

I generally agree that the ability to process more environmental stimuli (sensory data or input information) will enhance the survival chances or adaptability of a living organism. However, I disagree that consciousness facilitates or enhances this process. Why? Because in the deterministic worldview of materiaism, there is nothing to limit how much sensory data or input information an insentient living organism (assuming that there is such a thing) can process.

nigelTheBold wrote:
But now we get to the meat of the issue: what is the meaning of "experience life," and the result of experiencing life? It seems self-evident that experiencing something provides information about that "something." Or perhaps you define experience differently than I do?

The point is that conscous experience is not required to process information! That being the case, conscious experience is simply an emergent property of an ongoing process that was simply nonexperiential prior to the emergence of consciousness.

"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:Has it every

Paisley wrote:

Has it every been brought to your attention that you ramble too much?

Yes, we do disagree. Your deterministic, reductionistic, materialistic worldview precludes you from ascribing consciousness with any causal role. Why? Because all mental phenomena must be reduced to physical phenomena. On the materialistic worldview, electrochemical reactions are mechanical and nonteleogical. Whether they are experiential or nonexperiential does not change their mechanical and nonteleogical behavior. It's really that simple.

So all mental phenomena must be reduced to physical phenomena. Big deal. How does that exclude the experiential nature of consciousness from being a selectable trait?

Use my example of putting my hand in a fire. In what way does that experience not influence my future behavior? You claim it's impossible, or that my self-awareness isn't a factor, but that isn't true, and you know it. If I wasn't aware of how fire would affect me, I would be unable to learn that fire is dangerous and possibly painful.

Self-awareness is the ability to relate things to the self. Without that ability, there would be no experiential learning.

Quote:

The point is that conscous experience is not required to process information! That being the case, conscious experience is simply an emergent property of an ongoing process that was simply nonexperiential prior to the emergence of consciousness.

And your point is....? Sure, information is processed by non-conscious entities. In fact, the interaction of atoms and molecules is essentially "information processing," in that information is nothing more than attributes of things and relationships between things, and "information processing" is the evolution of those relationships over time.

From your last statement, you seem to think that since consciousness is an emergent property, it can't affect information processing. Why do you believe this? As I have demonstrated, consciousness most certainly does affect information processing.

Or, more pointedly, how is self-awareness not essential to experiential learning?

"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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I think I see where this is going

I think I see where this is going, Paisley. You believe that consciousness is "strongly-emergent," and therefore exhibits supervenience. Correct?

Just in case this is where you are going, there is a tremendous flaw with that logic.

Simply put, it's this: if consciousness and information processing are both emergent properties of the same system, consciousness is exerting influence on the information processing, not the underlying physical processes. This is similar to the way that gliders interact with other emergent features in Conway's Game of Life. It isn't the underlying processes that are being affected (which is what strong emergence implies). It's that consciousness interacts with other emergent properties and processes on the same "level," as it were.

Or, put more bluntly, emergent systems and properties may interact with other emergent systems and properties without supervenience.

"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:Paisley

nigelTheBold wrote:
Paisley wrote:
This thread is not about QM. Please don't hijack the thread. This is simply a diversionary tactic because you cannot account for why consciousness was naturally selected. All these "brilliant" atheists can't account for why consciousness was naturally selected. It's really quite pathetic.

Actually, my intent was to disparage the rest of your philosophic understanding. Again, you've missed the point entirely.

Note, that you have gone on record and explicitly stated that your intent was to "disparage."

nigelTheBold wrote:
The point of these sorts of forums is to reach mutual understanding. That doesn't mean mutual agreement: we might not agree on everything, and that's okay. Your "debate" style is one of tactical misdirection. By focusing entirely on your point of view, you are able to completely avoid understanding another's point of view, and therefore avoid engaging in a discussion about that point of view.

The point of these sorts of forums is to reach mutual understanding?Spare me your nonsense! The point of this particular forum is to personally attack and disparage any individual who does not toe the party-line of atheistic materialism. That the forum is entitled "The Rational Response Squad" speaks volumes in itself.

"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:The point of

Paisley wrote:

The point of these sorts of forums is to reach mutual understanding?Spare me your nonsense! The point of this particular forum is to personally attack and disparage any individual who does not toe the party-line of atheistic materialism. That the forum is entitled "The Rational Response Squad" speaks volumes in itself.

Actually, the purpose of this particular thread is for you to come in, make assertions based on false assumptions, claim them as fact, and pronounce that you are superior and we are not very intelligent at all. You've shown no evidence that you wish to engage in intellectual debate. You are arrogant and rude, and condescension drips from every post.

Now you are feigning self-righteous indignation? That's priceless.

"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:Paisley

nigelTheBold wrote:
Paisley wrote:

Has it every been brought to your attention that you ramble too much?

Yes, we do disagree. Your deterministic, reductionistic, materialistic worldview precludes you from ascribing consciousness with any causal role. Why? Because all mental phenomena must be reduced to physical phenomena. On the materialistic worldview, electrochemical reactions are mechanical and nonteleogical. Whether they are experiential or nonexperiential does not change their mechanical and nonteleogical behavior. It's really that simple.

So all mental phenomena must be reduced to physical phenomena. Big deal. How does that exclude the experiential nature of consciousness from being a selectable trait?

Because the only difference between an experiential and nonexperiential stimulus-reponse system is that the experiential one has inner awareness. But their external behavior is the same! Both simply respond to their environmental stimuli based on the deterministic behavior of electrochemical reactions. That you attribute inner awareness to some living organisms and not to others is purely arbitrary.

nigelTheBold wrote:
Use my example of putting my hand in a fire. In what way does that experience not influence my future behavior? You claim it's impossible, or that my self-awareness isn't a factor, but that isn't true, and you know it. If I wasn't aware of how fire would affect me, I would be unable to learn that fire is dangerous and possibly painful.

Self-awareness is the ability to relate things to the self. Without that ability, there would be no experiential learning.

Do electrochemcial reactions "experience" attraction and repulsion? Do amoebas have stored information that is retrieved in order to respond to environmental stimuli?

Also, computers have memory. And I am certain that there are chess programs that have been written that exhibit learned behavior. But I don't think anyone would say that they are conscious.

nigelTheBold wrote:
Paisly wrote:
The point is that conscous experience is not required to process information! That being the case, conscious experience is simply an emergent property of an ongoing process that was simply nonexperiential prior to the emergence of consciousness.

And your point is....? Sure, information is processed by non-conscious entities. In fact, the interaction of atoms and molecules is essentially "information processing," in that information is nothing more than attributes of things and relationships between things, and "information processing" is the evolution of those relationships over time.

From your last statement, you seem to think that since consciousness is an emergent property, it can't affect information processing. Why do you believe this? As I have demonstrated, consciousness most certainly does affect information processing.

Or, more pointedly, how is self-awareness not essential to experiential learning?

No, you have not demonstrated anything. You have simply made arbitrary assertions on what is conscious and what is not. And I have already successfully argued that computer programs have been written that exhibit learned behavior. And it would appear that all electrochemical processes do also because they (as you have just pointed out above) store information and their behavior is determined by that stored information.   

"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:Actually,

nigelTheBold wrote:
Actually, the purpose of this particular thread is for you to come in, make assertions based on false assumptions, claim them as fact, and pronounce that you are superior and we are not very intelligent at all. You've shown no evidence that you wish to engage in intellectual debate. You are arrogant and rude, and condescension drips from every post.

Now you are feigning self-righteous indignation? That's priceless.

And you're the shiny paragon of civil discourse?

"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:Also,

Paisley wrote:

Also, computers have memory. And I am certain that there are chess programs that have been written that exhibit learned behavior. But I don't think anyone would say that they are conscious.

Excellent point. Writing programs that learn is not too difficult.

Computer programs are "trained" to react in a certain way to certain stimulus. The same is true of humans. Humans have many forms of training, but one of the main ones is learning how events and actions affect the self. Programs do not have this capability at the moment. They are trained to produce a certain result given certain input conditions. The welfare of the program has no role to play in the result.

Quote:

You have simply made arbitrary assertions on what is conscious and what is not.

Have I used the term "consciousness" in a way that is out-of-line with your original definition "at least 'conscious-awareness'?" If so, please tell me how. I have attempted to remain within your own defintion of the word, and follow the natural logical progression from there.

Quote:

And I have already successfully argued that computer programs have been written that exhibit learned behavior. And it would appear that all electrochemical processes do also because they (as you have just pointed out above) store information and their behavior is determined by that stored information.

Absolutely! I was incorrect to assert that consciousness was necessary for all learned behaviour.

Of course our brains (as the physical substrate of our minds) store information and that our behaviour is determined by that stored information. Again, how is it that you choose between available options? (You still haven't answered that very pertinent question.) It's by using the information stored in your brain. And what kind of information do you use? Why, information about how the options affect you! This is something a computer program is incapable of doing, of learning how arbitrary situations affect the program. They are only capable of learning behaviour that relates to specific situations (say, the game of chess).

This is the information you gain via your own consciousness: the knowledge of how the various options affect you. There is nothing in modern materialism that precludes this.

 

"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:And you're the

Paisley wrote:

And you're the shiny paragon of civil discourse?

I admit, I do have one major flaw: I react in-kind. When confronted with engaging and well-considered logic and discourse, I do my best to engage in well-considered logic and discourse. When confronted with condescending assholes, I become a condescending asshole in return. That is one of the reasons I use your own words in the same manner in which you use them, as a sort of meta-mockery.

I do seem to be one of the few here with the patience to attempt to engage you, though. Most folks seem to tire of sophistry much sooner than I.

"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:Paisley

nigelTheBold wrote:

Paisley wrote:

And you're the shiny paragon of civil discourse?

I admit, I do have one major flaw: I react in-kind. When confronted with engaging and well-considered logic and discourse, I do my best to engage in well-considered logic and discourse. When confronted with condescending assholes, I become a condescending asshole in return. That is one of the reasons I use your own words in the same manner in which you use them, as a sort of meta-mockery.

I do seem to be one of the few here with the patience to attempt to engage you, though. Most folks seem to tire of sophistry much sooner than I.

Nigel, you are a paragon of patience and politeness in continuing to engage this person. I have have pretty much given up. I have been off the forums with other pressing work-related issues just recently, so as part of getting back into the flow I have just finished catching up with this thread.

Paisley seems totally incapable of and/or unwilling to grasp the extra dimensions and subtleties to the topics he addresses, which often come from new scientific insights gained since many of the concepts he dances around with, such as 'consciousness', 'determinism', 'materialism', etc were first formulated.

 

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nigelTheBold wrote:
Absolutely! I was incorrect to assert that consciousness was necessary for all learned behaviour.

Of course our brains (as the physical substrate of our minds) store information and that our behaviour is determined by that stored information. Again, how is it that you choose between available options? (You still haven't answered that very pertinent question.) It's by using the information stored in your brain. And what kind of information do you use? Why, information about how the options affect you! This is something a computer program is incapable of doing, of learning how arbitrary situations affect the program. They are only capable of learning behaviour that relates to specific situations (say, the game of chess).

This is the information you gain via your own consciousness: the knowledge of how the various options affect you. There is nothing in modern materialism that precludes this.

Evidently, there is scientific evidence that suggests that bacteria make decisions based on memories. (See link below for the details.)

http://www.indiana.edu/~pietsch/microminds.html

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


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BobSpence1 wrote:Paisley

BobSpence1 wrote:
Paisley seems totally incapable of and/or unwilling to grasp the extra dimensions and subtleties to the topics he addresses, which often come from new scientific insights gained since many of the concepts he dances around with, such as 'consciousness', 'determinism', 'materialism', etc were first formulated.

Please define the terms "determinism" and "indeterminism."

"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 admit,

nigelTheBold wrote:
I admit, I do have one major flaw: I react in-kind. When confronted with engaging and well-considered logic and discourse, I do my best to engage in well-considered logic and discourse. When confronted with condescending assholes, I become a condescending asshole in return. That is one of the reasons I use your own words in the same manner in which you use them, as a sort of meta-mockery.

I do seem to be one of the few here with the patience to attempt to engage you, though. Most folks seem to tire of sophistry much sooner than I.

I think you're projecting. I generally don't employ profanity. It's not my style.

"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:Evidently,

Paisley wrote:

Evidently, there is scientific evidence that suggests that bacteria make decisions based on memories. (See link below for the details.)

http://www.indiana.edu/~pietsch/microminds.html

Cool! An actual reference. Thanks. Seriously: thanks. I appreciate a good read, even if it's "based on" a 1983 article from a magazine that presents shortened versions of actual science articles. It was fairly interesting.

I think this is the research that led to the SF novel Vitals, by one of my favorite authors, Greg Bear. I'll have to follow it up.

Thanks, Paisley. Really.

"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:I think you're

Paisley wrote:

I think you're projecting. I generally don't employ profanity. It's not my style.

Why am I projecting? I've copied your style several times without using profanity.

In this case, I use profanity because it's my style.  In most cases, I refrain from using profanity because you refrain from using profanity. As I said, I generally reply in-kind.

"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:Cool! An

nigelTheBold wrote:
Cool! An actual reference. Thanks. Seriously: thanks. I appreciate a good read, even if it's "based on" a 1983 article from a magazine that presents shortened versions of actual science articles. It was fairly interesting.

I think this is the research that led to the SF novel Vitals, by one of my favorite authors, Greg Bear. I'll have to follow it up.

Thanks, Paisley. Really.

Thanks? I guess you're a glutton for punishment. The point of the reference is that  it refutes your argument.

"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:Thanks? I

Paisley wrote:

Thanks? I guess you're a glutton for punishment. The point of the reference is that  it refutes your argument.

Well, yes. I'm a glutton for punishment. The read was fairly light in the science department, but fun for speculation. I'm not entirely sure what you mean by "it refutes [my] argument," but whatever. You gave an actual reference! That's a first.

In any case, it was a fun read. And so I say: thanks.

[EDIT: addendum]

PS: Dude: you made a joke! That's cool. Really. I'm glad you still have a sense of humour about this.

I mean, I do, but I'm drunk, so whaddaya expect?

"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:Well,

nigelTheBold wrote:
Well, yes. I'm a glutton for punishment. The read was fairly light in the science department, but fun for speculation. I'm not entirely sure what you mean by "it refutes [my] argument," but whatever. You gave an actual reference! That's a first.

In any case, it was a fun read. And so I say: thanks.

[EDIT: addendum]

PS: Dude: you made a joke! That's cool. Really. I'm glad you still have a sense of humour about this.

I mean, I do, but I'm drunk, so whaddaya expect?

Evidently, you are drunk. It undercuts your argument that "consciousness" has some kind of causal role other than "free will" because bacteria have exhibited the ability to learn.

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


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Paisley

Paisley wrote:

nigelTheEvidently, you are drunk. It undercuts your argument that "consciousness" has some kind of causal role other than "free will" because bacteria have exhibited the ability to learn.

[/quote wrote:

Actually, no. I retracted the statement that consciousness is required for experiential learning. Did you not get the memo?

But it doesn't undercut that fact that consciousness has a causal role. All it does is state that consciousness is not required for experiential learning.

All you're saying is this:

A is part of B.

C is not required for A.

Therefore, C cannot affect B.

"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:Actually,

nigelTheBold wrote:

Actually, no. I retracted the statement that consciousness is required for experiential learning. Did you not get the memo?

But it doesn't undercut that fact that consciousness has a causal role. All it does is state that consciousness is not required for experiential learning.

All you're saying is this:

A is part of B.

C is not required for A.

Therefore, C cannot affect B.

Whatever.

There is nothing in your argument for the causal efficacy of consciousness that cannot be done mechanically. Indeed, this is the very rationale that is driving the development of artificial intelligence (an endeavor, in my opinion, that is very misguided). The bottom line is that a "robot without consciousness" is capable of performing the same functions as a "robot with consciousness."

"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:Whatever.There

Paisley wrote:

Whatever.

There is nothing in your argument for the causal efficacy of consciousness that cannot be done mechanically. Indeed, this is the very rationale that is driving the development of artificial intelligence (an endeavor, in my opinion, that is very misguided). The bottom line is that a "robot without consciousness" is capable of performing the same functions as a "robot with consciousness."

Whatever.

I think what you are trying to argue is not that consciousness is not a selectable trait, but that materialism can't account for consciousness. Those are two separate arguments. Your rebuttals only make sense if I assume you are arguing the latter; if you are trying to argue the former, they are just complete non-sequitors.

Ignoring the nature of consciousness for the moment, how do you imagine consciousness, in its relationship to animals with it? How did it evolve in a non-materialistic worldview that would be different from the materialistic?

"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:Paisley

nigelTheBold wrote:
Paisley wrote:
Whatever.

There is nothing in your argument for the causal efficacy of consciousness that cannot be done mechanically. Indeed, this is the very rationale that is driving the development of artificial intelligence (an endeavor, in my opinion, that is very misguided). The bottom line is that a "robot without consciousness" is capable of performing the same functions as a "robot with consciousness."

I think what you are trying to argue is not that consciousness is not a selectable trait, but that materialism can't account for consciousness. Those are two separate arguments. Your rebuttals only make sense if I assume you are arguing the latter; if you are trying to argue the former, they are just complete non-sequitors.

No, my argument is that consciousness is not a selectable trait because on the materialistic worldview consciousness is not causally-efficacious. Why? Because all mental phenomena must be reduced to physical phenomena and all physical phenomena are mechanical and nonteleological (they must be for materialism to hold true). Awareness itself is passive, not active. So, if you eliminate free will, what else is there left for conscious to do? Answer: NOTHING. Or to put it in another way, what can consciousness do that an insentient computer cannot do (at least in theory)? Answer: NOTHING.

nigelTheBold wrote:
Ignoring the nature of consciousness for the moment, how do you imagine consciousness, in its relationship to animals with it? How did it evolve in a non-materialistic worldview that would be different from the materialistic?

Easy. Subjective awareness is a brute fact of life.

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


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 I don't think conscience

 I don't think conscience is 100% understood (No theory of mind yet) so it's easy to use the mystery of conscience as a "God Did It" argument.  Sorry if I'm not bringing much to the conversation, but I'm saying that even if conscience is mysterious iutself doesn't mean "God Did It" - (doesn't prove God.)


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Paisley wrote:No, my

Paisley wrote:

No, my argument is that consciousness is not a selectable trait because on the materialistic worldview consciousness is not causally-efficacious. Why? Because all mental phenomena must be reduced to physical phenomena and all physical phenomena are mechanical and nonteleological (they must be for materialism to hold true). Awareness itself is passive, not active. So, if you eliminate free will, what else is there left for conscious to do? Answer: NOTHING. Or to put it in another way, what can consciousness do that an insentient computer cannot do (at least in theory)? Answer: NOTHING.

Right. I and I demonstrated how it was causally efficacious. Your non-acceptance of my explanation wasn't a rebuttal; it was a repetition of a statement that has no support.

Teleological arguments are philosophic dead-ends, and have nothing to do with science. "Direction" and "purpose" are neither sufficient nor necessary for scientific (or philosophic) endeavours. Therefore, arguments from teleology are moot at best, and downright disingenuous at worst.

Quote:

nigelTheBold wrote:
Ignoring the nature of consciousness for the moment, how do you imagine consciousness, in its relationship to animals with it? How did it evolve in a non-materialistic worldview that would be different from the materialistic?

Easy. Subjective awareness is a brute fact of life.

You realize this says nothing, right? Other than subjective awareness exists? And if subjective awareness exists, and if it provides an advantage, then it is a positively-selectable trait, especially if it is a "brute fact of life." You have refuted your own argument!

That is, unless you are arguing that the nature of consciousness could not be materialistic. Considering your post on the other thread about the "quantum mind," I can only conclude that has been your real argument. Perhaps our discussion would've been more fruitful if we'd bothered having the same discussion.

"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:Paisley

nigelTheBold wrote:
Paisley wrote:
No, my argument is that consciousness is not a selectable trait because on the materialistic worldview consciousness is not causally-efficacious. Why? Because all mental phenomena must be reduced to physical phenomena and all physical phenomena are mechanical and nonteleological (they must be for materialism to hold true). Awareness itself is passive, not active. So, if you eliminate free will, what else is there left for conscious to do? Answer: NOTHING. Or to put it in another way, what can consciousness do that an insentient computer cannot do (at least in theory)? Answer: NOTHING.

Right. I and I demonstrated how it was causally efficacious. Your non-acceptance of my explanation wasn't a rebuttal; it was a repetition of a statement that has no support.

Wrong! You simply asserted that consciousness is causally efficacious. There is no function that you ascribed to consciousness that cannot be replicated by an insentient information processing system. Comparing information, recalling information, scanning information, sensing information, processing information, and generating information can all be performed by computers.

nigelTheBold wrote:
Teleological arguments are philosophic dead-ends, and have nothing to do with science. "Direction" and "purpose" are neither sufficient nor necessary for scientific (or philosophic) endeavours. Therefore, arguments from teleology are moot at best, and downright disingenuous at worst.

I think you entirely missed the point. If all mental phenomena are physical phenomena and all physical phenomena are mechanical and nonteleological, then not only is free will illusory, but so is purpose-driven action. IOW, the scientific materialist is forced to admit that free will and purpose are illusions, even though he cannot help but presupposing them in practice.

nigelTheBold wrote:
Paisley wrote:
Easy. Subjective awareness is a brute fact of life.

You realize this says nothing, right? Other than subjective awareness exists? And if subjective awareness exists, and if it provides an advantage, then it is a positively-selectable trait, especially if it is a "brute fact of life." You have refuted your own argument!

What? I never said that subjective awareness confers some kind of survival benefit (actually, I am assuming that it does not for the sake of this thread). And I think you are misinterpreting what I said. When I said that subjective awareness is a brute fact of life, I meant all life. In other words, there are no life forms that are without subjective awareness.  So, in my view, subjective awareness is not naturally selected because it is a brute fact of all life forms.

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Paisley exactly which

Paisley exactly which animals do you think are consciously aware?


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RatDog wrote:Paisley exactly

RatDog wrote:
Paisley exactly which animals do you think are consciously aware?

All. I would think that most would ascribe subjective awareness to all living organisms that have a central nervous system. This is a no-brainer (no pun intended). However, I am willing to go much further.

"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:What? I never

Paisley wrote:

What? I never said that subjective awareness confers some kind of survival benefit (actually, I am assuming that it does not for the sake of this thread). And I think you are misinterpreting what I said. When I said that subjective awareness is a brute fact of life, I meant all life. In other words, there are no life forms that are without subjective awareness.  So, in my view, subjective awareness is not naturally selected because it is a brute fact of all life forms.

Gotcha.

How quasi-life that don't react to stimuli? Like viruses? Or self-replicating chemicals? Do those exhibit self-awareness?

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Paisley wrote:RatDog

Paisley wrote:

RatDog wrote:
Paisley exactly which animals do you think are consciously aware?

All. I would think that most would ascribe subjective awareness to all living organisms that have a central nervous system. This is a no-brainer (no pun intended). However, I am willing to go much further.

I'm guessing you're advocating some kind of universal consciousness.


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RatDog wrote:Paisley

RatDog wrote:

Paisley wrote:

RatDog wrote:
Paisley exactly which animals do you think are consciously aware?

All. I would think that most would ascribe subjective awareness to all living organisms that have a central nervous system. This is a no-brainer (no pun intended). However, I am willing to go much further.

I'm guessing you're advocating some kind of universal consciousness.

I think you'd be correct. Paisley, your stuff reads like New Age Pantheistic Christian Science (aka a mishmash)

"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."
— George Carlin


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Gotcha.

How quasi-life that don't react to stimuli? Like viruses? Or self-replicating chemicals? Do those exhibit self-awareness?

Molecules react with other molecules. I believe they call it chemistry.

Viruses (organic, not cmputer viruses)? I would say, by hypothesis, "yes."

Self-replicating chemicals? Are you referring to abiogenesis and/or autocatalytic sets? If so, then I would probably say "yes."

Let's cut to the chase. I would say yes to subatomic particles (e.g. electrons). After all, they exhibit random behavior.

 

 

 

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Paisley wrote:Let's cut to

Paisley wrote:

Let's cut to the chase. I would say yes to subatomic particles (e.g. electrons). After all, they exhibit random behavior.

Wait wait wait - are you on the same page as Eloise, then? That life and (by extension) consciousness is just an emergent property of matter?

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HisWillness wrote:Paisley

HisWillness wrote:

Paisley wrote:

Let's cut to the chase. I would say yes to subatomic particles (e.g. electrons). After all, they exhibit random behavior.

Wait wait wait - are you on the same page as Eloise, then? That life and (by extension) consciousness is just an emergent property of matter?

Dig the self-refutation.

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Paisley wrote:Molecules

Paisley wrote:

Molecules react with other molecules. I believe they call it chemistry.

You would be correct.

Quote:

Viruses (organic, not cmputer viruses)? I would say, by hypothesis, "yes."

Self-replicating chemicals? Are you referring to abiogenesis and/or autocatalytic sets? If so, then I would probably say "yes."

Let's cut to the chase. I would say yes to subatomic particles (e.g. electrons). After all, they exhibit random behavior.

I was thinking mostly autocatalysis, although abiogensis would be included.

Thanks for the explication. I think I now understand quite a bit more about the foundations of your metaphysics.

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jcgadfly wrote:HisWillness

jcgadfly wrote:

HisWillness wrote:

Paisley wrote:

Let's cut to the chase. I would say yes to subatomic particles (e.g. electrons). After all, they exhibit random behavior.

Wait wait wait - are you on the same page as Eloise, then? That life and (by extension) consciousness is just an emergent property of matter?

Dig the self-refutation.

I swear I have no idea what's going on anymore. I'm confused because a "yes" answer to that would mean that, philosophically speaking, I kind of agree with Paisley. I don't know how that would happen, given our history of disagreement.

Unless of course that "random behaviour" turns out to actually be "guided by Father Miracle and his Follow Brigade". Then I'm out.

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HisWillness wrote:Wait wait

HisWillness wrote:
Wait wait wait - are you on the same page as Eloise, then? That life and (by extension) consciousness is just an emergent property of matter?

I'm not sure what page Eloise is on. I know she's wedded to relational QM. But she never has explained how RQM relates to her theological/methaphysical beliefs, at least not to me.

I'm wouldn't say that subjective awareness is an emergent property of matter, but an aspect. IOW, every actuality has two poles - one physical, the other mental. To be sure, the mentality of an electron is rudimentary, albeit it does (by inference and hypothesis) exhibit some kind of conscious behavior.

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Paisley wrote:I'm wouldn't

Paisley wrote:

I'm wouldn't say that subjective awareness is an emergent property of matter, but an aspect. IOW, every actuality has two poles - one physical, the other mental. To be sure, the mentality of an electron is rudimentary, albeit it does (by inference and hypothesis) exhibit some kind of conscious behavior.

But this is what I don't get: if a rudimentary particle has "some kind of conscious behavior", then a rock is chock full of conscious behaviour. Is that just potential conscious behaviour, or actual conscious behaviour? Is life, then, only a different kind of conscious behaviour?

It seems a bit sneaky to talk about a rock as conscious, because we don't usually ascribe consciousness to minerals. But if you mean that there's something special inside every electron, then I'm going to have to ask you what the nature is of this "mind", and why you would even refer to it as a mind in the first place.

Why, in fact, would you even need the mind as part of the explanation? It seems like an extra variable that doesn't fit with observation. Unless you mean that's the thing responsible for inconsistencies in measurement at the quantum level. That would be a neat take on it, but I'm sure you can appreciate how obviously that's a "god of the gaps" argument.

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Paisley wrote:I'm wouldn't

Paisley wrote:

I'm wouldn't say that subjective awareness is an emergent property of matter, but an aspect. IOW, every actuality has two poles - one physical, the other mental. To be sure, the mentality of an electron is rudimentary, albeit it does (by inference and hypothesis) exhibit some kind of conscious behavior.

I have a question that may be related to HisWillness's most recent question: you've expressed belief in souls. How does this mental aspect of the QM nature of the matter that makes up "you" survive the disollution of the matter that makes up "you," if your mental aspects are tied to the QM nature of the matter that makes up "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: How

nigelTheBold wrote:

 How does this mental aspect of the QM nature of the matter that makes up "you" survive the disollution of the matter that makes up "you," if your mental aspects are tied to the QM nature of the matter that makes up "you?"

Oh, I didn't think of that: yeah, that too, Paisley. That muddies the water even more.

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Paisley wrote:- I am using

Paisley wrote:

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

 

-This is my first post on the RRS website so this is probably butchered in comparison to other posters on here. I'm trying to address a lot of points so I feel like it's horribly fragmented.

-I've read this entire thread and the one thing that is apperent is your vague, shifting definition of what exactly it is to be conscious and aware. To get to the bottom of this everyone is going to have to agree on at least one of those definitions.

-You seem to understand and accept that all mental events are concretely connected to physical events, that one cannot happen without the other. You then go on to proclaim that consciousness is not causally-efficacious. 

-Conciousness was explained to you in about the best way possible as it is understood. There are parts of every animal's brain dedicated to processing and reprocessing information internally. The feedback loop analogy was a good start but it goes much deeper than that. Think of how you read a passage of text from a book; you read the text then a firestorm of neurons go off in the part of your brain responsible for memory, then every emotion, image, and scenario connected with those words are referenced in a cascade, and in turn more memories are pulled from those previously referenced memories. You could be talking about QM one minute and the next thing you know you remember a joke someone told you a few weeks back that had a reference to QM. All of us have experienced this "evolution of a conversation" before

-The best analogy I've heard for awareness so far is that it is like a cursor or window that can manoeuver and form itself ever so slightly to envelope and hold together concepts long enough for us to get a use out of them. To me it seems like our language itself is the window. Language is pretty much the only reason we know apes feel more complicated emotions, because they can actually tell us with sign language.

-I think a good question to ask would be if you thought a human being with absolutely no language skills from birth could be "consciously-aware"? The answer is no because human babies cannot survive childhood without a tremendous amount of nurturing. The child would simply adapt to how you fed it (if it weren't brain dead to begin with) and then starve to death the moment you released it into any environment where it wasn't immediatly cared for by someone else. It's a side-effect of our extreme social nature.

-I believe I remember reading that the genome project revealed that the human population reached a bottleneck at one point and was almost near extinction. You asked what survival benefit "conscious-awareness" has and I think language is integral to this. The human population has exploded since recorded history and I think language, the reason for conscious-awareness, is the reason we're alive today. 

 

Paisley wrote:
Because the only difference between an experiential and nonexperiential stimulus-reponse system is that the experiential one has inner awareness. But their external behavior is the same! Both simply respond to their environmental stimuli based on the deterministic behavior of electrochemical reactions. That you attribute inner awareness to some living organisms and not to others is purely arbitrary.

-This whole debate has basically been over whether awareness is a selectable trait. You say one has awareness and another doesn't yet they both act the same. Maybe I've taken this out of context within the chain of responses but could you show me how this is true? We've already established that in order to be conscious you have to have a complicated substrate to support a brain (under the standard definition of consciousness). I say that "conscious-awareness" is simply conciousness plus an ability to accumulate a complicated and descriptive language. Language is the only reason we're capable of anything we know about right now. The use of language in of itself is what makes us "conciously-aware", it's the reason why you can always tell if you're talking to a bot or not.

 

- You've said that you think all animals are subjectively aware on some level because of there nervious-system. And then even say that particles are as well simply because they react and/or exhibit seemingly random behaviors. I'm not QM expert but two things I've heard/read repeatedly from articles on the subject is that; (1) The behaviors aren't completely random, they're probabilities, (2) Our main problem with some parts of QM are our ability to conceptualize and interpret it

-Which conceptual phrase are you more closely equivocating free will to; subjective awareness, consciousness, or conscious awareness? These terms are slowly melding into others as this thread gets longer.

 

-Lastly, you seem to think that you could actually tell the difference between a deterministic and nondeterministic universe from within that universe (as you, the one experiencing it). You cannot re-experience the past so how could you possibly answer this question with any certainty?

- I could just as easily contend that because you could NEVER remake a choice you have in context to the past, that the universe is deterministic.


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nigelTheBold wrote:That is

nigelTheBold wrote:

That is one of the reasons I use your own words in the same manner in which you use them, as a sort of meta-mockery.

When I read that I envisioned you as a comic book style super hero who's super power was meta-mockery. A kind of parody super hero, like Captain Hero or the Ambiguously Gay Duo.

 

After eating an entire bull, a mountain lion felt so good he started roaring. He kept it up until a hunter came along and shot him.

The moral: When you're full of bull, keep your mouth shut.
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HisWillness wrote:Paisley

HisWillness wrote:
Paisley wrote:

I'm wouldn't say that subjective awareness is an emergent property of matter, but an aspect. IOW, every actuality has two poles - one physical, the other mental. To be sure, the mentality of an electron is rudimentary, albeit it does (by inference and hypothesis) exhibit some kind of conscious behavior.

But this is what I don't get: if a rudimentary particle has "some kind of conscious behavior", then a rock is chock full of conscious behaviour. Is that just potential conscious behaviour, or actual conscious behaviour? Is life, then, only a different kind of conscious behaviour?

It seems a bit sneaky to talk about a rock as conscious, because we don't usually ascribe consciousness to minerals. But if you mean that there's something special inside every electron, then I'm going to have to ask you what the nature is of this "mind", and why you would even refer to it as a mind in the first place.

I never said that a rock experiences subjective-awareness. In process-relational metaphysics (the view being espoused here), a rock would be classified as an "aggregational society" of individuals. The society as such does not experience concious-awareness, albeit the individuals (e.g. electrons) do.

HisWillness wrote:
Why, in fact, would you even need the mind as part of the explanation? It seems like an extra variable that doesn't fit with observation. Unless you mean that's the thing responsible for inconsistencies in measurement at the quantum level. That would be a neat take on it, but I'm sure you can appreciate how obviously that's a "god of the gaps" argument.

You're making a "materialism of the gaps" argument. Either that, or you would have us believe that uncaused physical events require no explanation.

Incidentally, David Bohm (eminent quantum physicist and protege of Albert Einstein) ascribed mentality to electrons. (see pg. 387 of "The Undivided Universe: An Ontological Interpretation of Quantum Theory" by David Bohm and B.J. Hiley)

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


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I'm glad you're back,

I'm glad you're back, Paisley. It's difficult for me to go without such an enthusiastic adversary for too long.

Paisley wrote:
Will wrote:
It seems a bit sneaky to talk about a rock as conscious, because we don't usually ascribe consciousness to minerals. But if you mean that there's something special inside every electron, then I'm going to have to ask you what the nature is of this "mind", and why you would even refer to it as a mind in the first place.

I never said that a rock experiences subjective-awareness. In process-relational metaphysics (the view being espoused here), a rock would be classified as an "aggregational society" of individuals. The society as such does not experience concious-awareness, albeit the individuals (e.g. electrons) do.

Oh, now we have a name for what you're talking about, and it's process-relational metaphysics. Wonderful. So ... electrons experience conscious-awareness? Is that where we're going? I have no problem with the universe being the source of consciousness, as I've told Eloise. It's clear to me that we are conscious, and that we evolved from a process that is clearly exhibited in the universe, so how could I argue? But that's precisely the reason I can't understand your dualistic stance.

Paisley wrote:
HisWillness wrote:
Why, in fact, would you even need the mind as part of the explanation? It seems like an extra variable that doesn't fit with observation. Unless you mean that's the thing responsible for inconsistencies in measurement at the quantum level. That would be a neat take on it, but I'm sure you can appreciate how obviously that's a "god of the gaps" argument.

You're making a "materialism of the gaps" argument. Either that, or you would have us believe that uncaused physical events require no explanation.

Ah, but all physical events are uncaused if we're taking quantum theory seriously. We've been over this.

Also, "materialism of the gaps" is well-founded, whereas a god-of-the-gaps isn't. I'll demonstrate with a cliché:

If a tree falls in a forest, and nobody is around to hear it fall, does it make a sound? We could issue a probable answer of "yes", because the thousands of times a tree has fallen before, it has made a sound. OR we could say that Cyperissus, the penitent killer of a sacred boar who was turned into a cypress, catches each falling tree so that they fall soundlessly to the ground.

I'm going with "yes".

Paisley wrote:
Incidentally, David Bohm (eminent quantum physicist and protege of Albert Einstein) ascribed mentality to electrons. (see pg. 387 of "The Undivided Universe: An Ontological Interpretation of Quantum Theory" by David Bohm and B.J. Hiley)

Wonderful. Did he say, "Electrons have consciousness!" or was there more to it?

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HisWillness wrote:If a tree

HisWillness wrote:
If a tree falls in a forest, and nobody is around to hear it fall, does it make a sound? We could issue a probable answer of "yes", because the thousands of times a tree has fallen before, it has made a sound. OR we could say that Cyperissus, the penitent killer of a sacred boar who was turned into a cypress, catches each falling tree so that they fall soundlessly to the ground.

I'm going with "yes".


You forgot to distinguish between (1) sound and (2) the interactions of atoms. With someone present who can hear and (2) obtaining with a certain frequency, (1) follows necessarily. The interactions will produce effects on the brain, and the brain gives rise to sound. In that case, the tree does make a sound. Without someone, though, (1) never follows. The interactions never give rise to sound because they do not produce effects on a brain, and thus no brain will have an audible awareness of the event. In that case, the tree does not make a sound. In short: the world moves silently—the brain supplies the soundtrack.

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HisWillness wrote:Paisley

HisWillness wrote:
Paisley wrote:
I never said that a rock experiences subjective-awareness. In process-relational metaphysics (the view being espoused here), a rock would be classified as an "aggregational society" of individuals. The society as such does not experience concious-awareness, albeit the individuals (e.g. electrons) do.

Oh, now we have a name for what you're talking about, and it's process-relational metaphysics. Wonderful. So ... electrons experience conscious-awareness? Is that where we're going? I have no problem with the universe being the source of consciousness, as I've told Eloise. It's clear to me that we are conscious, and that we evolved from a process that is clearly exhibited in the universe, so how could I argue? But that's precisely the reason I can't understand your dualistic stance.

Just for clarification. Are you implying that the "process that is clearly exhibited in the universe" is conscious? If not, then why do you say "how could I argue?"

Also, what exactly is my dualistic stance?

HisWillness wrote:
Paisley wrote:
You're making a "materialism of the gaps" argument. Either that, or you would have us believe that uncaused physical events require no explanation.

Ah, but all physical events are uncaused if we're taking quantum theory seriously. We've been over this.

So, you're not taking quantum theory seriously? If so, why not?

HisWillness wrote:
Also, "materialism of the gaps" is well-founded, whereas a god-of-the-gaps isn't. I'll demonstrate with a cliché:

If a tree falls in a forest, and nobody is around to hear it fall, does it make a sound? We could issue a probable answer of "yes", because the thousands of times a tree has fallen before, it has made a sound. OR we could say that Cyperissus, the penitent killer of a sacred boar who was turned into a cypress, catches each falling tree so that they fall soundlessly to the ground.

I'm going with "yes".

It's not a cliche; it's a zen koan. And your answer reveals that you're not spiritually enlightened.

HisWillness wrote:
Paisley wrote:
Incidentally, David Bohm (eminent quantum physicist and protege of Albert Einstein) ascribed mentality to electrons. (see pg. 387 of "The Undivided Universe: An Ontological Interpretation of Quantum Theory" by David Bohm and B.J. Hiley)

Wonderful. Did he say, "Electrons have consciousness!" or was there more to it?

No, he said "rudimentary mental pole."

"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 have a

nigelTheBold wrote:
I have a question that may be related to HisWillness's most recent question: you've expressed belief in souls. How does this mental aspect of the QM nature of the matter that makes up "you" survive the disollution of the matter that makes up "you," if your mental aspects are tied to the QM nature of the matter that makes up "you?"

The "many worlds" interpretation also implies the "many minds" interpretation as a corollary.

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