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Phenomenal States and Properties: Reductionism, Supervenience, or Emergentism?
Kris Notaro   Mar 4, 2014   Ethical Technology  

It is 2014 and we still do not have a comprehensive theory of consciousness, yet transhumanists want to create consciousness on a computer ASAP. In this article I will look at reductionism, supervenience and emergentism and their applications towards a solution to the mind-body problem. I will defend the claim that emergentism must be mixed with supervenience given that we know considerable amounts of information about the human brain and the properties that it produces.

Brain states seem to supervene upon phenomenal states and vice visa. It will be argued that to describe phenomenal states and properties a mix of supervenience with emergentism can help, along with a rejection of reductionism.

1. Introduction

I will take a look at concepts dealing with reductionism, supervenience, and emergentism. Necessarily I will look at both the concepts as they are in the philosophy of science and how they can be attributed to the mind-body problem. This means that the concepts themselves can become rather complex in nature and all need a conceptual explanation in the context of philosophy of science and mind. When these concepts are attributed to the mind-body problem they present us with extremely helpful insights into the workings of phenomenal states, properties and consciousness’s relation to the brain and our world.

  1. 2. The Problem of Phenomenal Properties and Consciousness

We are subjectively conscious of mental states and properties. Subjectivity brings up a multitude of issues which have not been explained fully yet by neuroscience or philosophy.(Chamers, 1996, Nagel, 1974) Phenomenal properties have a feeling of what it is like to experience them. Why this “what it is like” is attached to a self model still has yet to be discovered. Some philosophers reject the self all together and claim that it is an illusion. (Metzinger, 2003, 2009) Several philosophers and neuroscientists are at the forefront of figuring out what David Chalmers calls the Hard Problem of consciousness and the Easy Problem of consciousness. The easy problem being physics, chemistry and the biology of the brain. The hard problem is thus why does the brain produce “what it is like” to experience a particular attitude or feeling.

In a paper called Attention and Consciousness: two distinct brain processes Christof Koch and Naotsugu Tsuchiya believe that attention is a separate process from consciousness. They site experiments where animals are flashed quickly in front of a subject whose brain recognizes and attends to the flashes yet the subject is not conscious of it. (Koch & Naotsugu Tsuchiya 2007). Christof Koch has been researching the neural nature of consciousness for a number of years now without much success. Another neuroscientist, Antonio Damasio points to the brain stem, body, and ventromedial prefrontal cortex as a solution to the hard problem. Neuroscience is learning more and more about the brain through a list Damasio mentions in his book: neuroimaging including , brain damaged patients, magnetic resonance scanning, positron emission tomography (PET), magnetoencephalography, recording of neuronns during neurosurgical treatments and magnetic stimulation. However in his book The Self Comes to Mind he admits that “the mystery of consciousness is still a mystery, although it is being pushed back” (Damasio, 262)

I will focus on those phenomenal states which we are conscious of and have attention attributed with them. We will look at phenomenal properties and states which can be said to be reduced, supervened, or emerged from brain processes, at the atomic level up to neuronal patterns. I will focus mostly on the easy problems of consciousness; those problems which Chalmers and others refer to as the physical neural correlates of consciousness.

Patricia and Paul Churchland are famous for their elimitivist stance on qualia (what it is like to have an experience). Their helpful incites to the working of the brain through what they coined as “neurophilosophy” will be useful in our discussion of the “easy problems” of consciousness and phenomenal properties. However, some aspects of this paper will ultimately lead us to the harder problems as well.

Philosophy of mind often uses thought experiments to describe the “hard problems”. As materialist Katalin Balog points out; philosophical thought experiments are the “bread and butter of philosophy”. (Katalin Balog, 2010) We will look at the knowledge argument, zombie argument, the Chinese nation thought experiment, Nagel’s What it is Like to be a Bat, The Chinese room argument, and Teleportation.

3. Phenomenal States and Properties

Brain states are said to be phenomenal states when one feels what it is like to experience a feeling, such as pain. The reason brain states can be understood as phenomenal states (qualia) is because neuroscience has yet to bridge the gap between mind and body. 1 That is a brain state which has a feeling to it does not clearly add up to neurons simply doing their job, though it is obvious that neuronal connections and the firing of neurons give rise to phenomenal states and properties. We are left again with the hard problem and easy problem.

Let's take a look at an example of the hard problem called the knowledge argument, commonly referred to as the Mary thought experiment formulated by Frank Jackson (1982). Jackson conjured up the idea of a female scientist named Mary who knows everything there is to know about the brain, brain states, and philosophy. The catch is, is that she is confined to a black and white room, learning everything she knows about the brain through a television, papers, and books. She has never seen the color red, or any color besides black and white. When she leaves the room does Mary learn something new, does she now know what it is like to experience redness?

Some philosophers have argued that with enough words or symbols (Dennet, 1991) she could learn what it is like to see the color red inside the room, while others claim she does in fact learn something new about the brain when leaving the room. This new brain state or property is referred to as qualia or in her case, being one color, a quale. (Jackson, 1982) When a subject experiences a single quale such as the essence of seeing redness; this is called a phenomenal state or property.

Another example of the “hard problem” is the notion of propositional attitudes. These are the feelings one gets when having an attitude towards a proposition. A sentence that claims something like an idea or theory can be said to be a proposition with a certain “what it is like” to have this feeling. Thus propositional attitudes are phenomenal states which need explanation.

In the philosophy of mind many theories have been conjured up about the nature of propositional attitudes, but once you look into neuroscience you will find that they still remain a kind of a mystery, for an attitude towards a proposition or sentence has yet to be explained by means of the neural correlates of consciousness.

That is, like in many cases of the hard problem of consciousness the firing of neurons do not show us how one can have an attitude towards a proposition. Watching someone’s brain under an MRI or CAT scan does not tell you what kind of attitude one has towards a proposition. This is tantamount like that of color experience because not only do we not understand the neural nature of what it is like to experience a certain experience, but we also do not know the neural nature of what it is like to experience propositional attitudes. We only have rough images, or representations from neuroimaging.

It is predicted however that neuroscience will explain away the mysterious nature of both the qualia of feelings and propositional attitudes. Patricia and Paul Churchland among many other philosophers take the stance that like other mysterious biological processes, qualia and propositional attitudes will be explained by biology, mainly neuroscience. They argue that vitalism, the world is flat theory, the world is the center of the universe theory, and so on has been explained away through science, therefore, as mysterious as qualia can be, they will also be explained away through science. The prediction is that neuroscience will render qualia and most of its associated theories wrong, leading to a purely physicalist account of the mind.

4. Reductionism and Phenomenal Properties

The reduction of phenomenal properties come in different flavors. A phenomenal property can be thought of as a brain state which reduces down to the neuronal level, and then down to the atomic level. A brain state such as seeing red is a form of epistemological reduction (Silberstein, 2002) in that seeing red can be reduced to brain properties in V1.

In consciousness studies some have gone further. For example Stuart Hameroff and Roger Penrose have reduced brain states down to the quantum level by holding that neuronal microtubules contain quantum states which can explain consciousness at higher levels, but retains this fundamental form of reductionism. (Hameroff, n.d.) As controversial as this hypothesis maybe, it has yet to be proven wrong. However I will not focus on this theory in this paper because much more research has to be done on this very interesting topic.

The Identity Theory holds that brain states can be reduced down to their neural patterns and only their neural patterns. In defense of an Eliminative Materialism view of the Identity Theory, Paul Churchland in Chimerical Colors: Some Phenomenological Predictions from Cognitive Science shows how the inverted spectrum thought experiment (discussed later in this paper) could be viewed as wrong because it would require the “rearrangement of clumps of neurons” in the brain. While this strong stance for the Identity Theory at face value looks to undermine any sense of the inverted spectrum argument, it seems to me that we still have to understand why and how the rearrangement of neuron bundles give rise to phenomenal qualities and properties.

Functionalism is a theory that suggests that brain states are mental states but denies the existence of qualia, respectfully. It also allows for mental states to be functional states, therefore it does not have to be a brain that produces phenomenal properties. The mechanism that produces phenomenal properties play a function in the overall scheme of the organism/computer or whatever it might be. Thus functionalism allows for multiple realization, that is, complex systems similar but not exactly like us can have phenomenal states exactly like ours. (Levin, 2009, Chalmers, 2002)

In a thought experiment Ned Block devised a theory that if each neuron was replaced one by one in a person’s brain by computer circuits or people with handheld transceivers that the person would feel and respond to the world in exactly the same way. This thought experiment is called the Absent Qualia or Chinese Nation argument. This is an appeal to a kind of reduction of the sort we see with the Churchland’s, but lacking elimitivist materialism. Imagine if a robot body was attached to the nation of china (1.3 billion people [not nearly the 10 trillion synapses in the human brain, but remember - this is a thought experiment]) and all the people of China were given handheld transceivers to communicate the way neurons communicate.

It is theorized that if such a scenario was true that a person or a robot which was hooked up to such a network would have the same functional brain/mind properties as if they had a biological or silicon brain. The network of people with handheld transceivers would technically carry on the same functions as the neural system in humans. While this is a far fetched idea it does bring up a lot of issues. If correct we are looking at a system which probably lacks qualia yet works just fine as if no brain was replaced.

The brain can then be said to be reduced down to the individual neurons (people or silicon) doing their job in a functionalist role, carrying out everyday tasks. Block imagines if someone pinched the robot that the signal would be carried by means of handheld transceivers to the 1.3 billion people also with handheld transceivers, and eventually the people (neurons) will carry out their job and the robot will say “ouch” (Block, 1978, Feser, 2005) The Chinese Nation thought experiment borders on supervenience of brain to mental states, but it can be looked at as a reductionist theory as well because of the causal relations that physical brain states have on the mental states.

5. Supervenience

Brain states are said to supervene on neurological patterns, however this does not imply monism, dulalism, or reductionism. Brain state X implies that brain state Y must occur in the presence of X. Brain state A, however supervenes on neural pattern B, and so forth, down to levels which must lead back up to brain state X. According to Jaegwon Kim’s account of supervenience physicalism:

“The basic ontological picture implicit in contemporary discussions of the mind-body problem is strikingly different: it presents the world as a multilayered hierarchy consisting of “levels” or “tiers” of entities and their characteristic properties…. The assumption that is widely shared by physicalists is that higher-level properties are in some sense dependent on, or determined by, their lower-level properties.”(Kim, 1996)

It seems to me that in contemporary philosophy of mind a great deal about the human brain is left out. For example if we take a look at the thought experiment of inverted qualia you will not find many examples of philosophers arguing that phenomenal states and properties supervene upon the obviously physical neural correlates of consciousness. The inverted spectrum thought experiment is important in that it makes us think about possible worlds, even our world, where a subject would see inverted colors while their counterpart would not.(Feser,68-70) However this thought experiment does in fact have its advantage of utilizing the imagined non-humans, animal or aliens, that sees X as Y, though it is not clear whether or not their neural, silicon, or whatever structure has the same neural correlates as the individual in our world.

Whatever is the case, if ones sight was inverted where red was green and so on, it simply tells us more about eye sight than that of the brain. The brain will receive different signals to experience the color differently, but there are no new epistemic or ontological colors to be seen. Whether the subject is an animal, alien or human their qualia only changes in the respect that X is now Y and vise versa. We are still left with the hard problem of consciousness because the subject is still experiencing what it is like to experience phenomenal color experience.

Supervenience still stands strong in this case because whatever detectors (eyes) the subject might have is converting a signal to another signal for consciousness to experience. There is no reason to suggest that reductionism has a place in this scenario, unless of course as Paul Churchland points out that color qualia experience is nothing more than activation vectors in the brain. Color qualia A for Churchland equals vector B, they are “correlates”, meaning that B is one in the same thing as A. (Churchland, 2007)

5.1 Weak and Strong Supervenience

Weak supervenience holds that “A-properties weakly supervene on B-properties if and only if for any possible world w and any individuals x and y in w, if x and y are B-indiscernible in w, then they are A-indiscernible in w.” and strong supervenience holds that “A-properties strongly supervene on B-properties if and only if for any possible worlds w1 and w2 and any individuals x in w1 and y in w2, if x in w1 is B-indiscernible from y in w2, then x in w1 is A-indiscernible from y in w2. (Kim 1987.)”2 While weak supervenience can be said to say everything that strong supervenience states, it might make things clearer if we discuss the difference between the two and hold that strong supervenience is in fact different than weak supervenience. (Shagrir, 2009) When we talk about dependence in 2014 we are clearly talking about brain states which give rise to phenomenal states (Churchland, 2007 )

The Zombie argument for a creature which is exactly like you and me right down to the very atoms the body and mind are made of suggests that it is metaphysically conceivable that it can lack conscious experience and qualia. I reference the zombie thought experiment in this section because I believe that consciousness supervenes on the physical. It seems impossible to have a creature which is 100 percent identical to you biologically to lack what we call qualia. This is because brain processes obviously give rise to consciousness and phenomenal properties. That is not to say that phenomenal properties are physical in nature.

It very well could be that phenomenal properties such as seeing red go along with the classical argument for the existence of qualia. But what I am saying is that given this thought experiment it just seems intuitively necessary that a brain which operates exactly like ours down to the very atom must operate in such a way where phenomenal properties supervene upon the physical brain. Although it is conceivable that a brain can be stripped away of its qualia, it does not seem logical that the physical brain can produce anything but phenomenal states and properties in any world. Again I say this because any world which physical brains are identical are just that; identical to ours and must operate the same exact way.

5.2 Local Supervenience

Brain states are said to be locally supervenient if phenomenal property X supervenes on brain state Y, then they are identical to each other. Local supervenience is both easily explained and extremely complicated to grasp at the same time. Locality of properties such as neural bundles giving rise to consciousness within ones brain does not necessarily change if, lets, say, a solar flare where to erupt in another solar system. That is to say that phenomenal states are local and do not change their reliance on lower level properties because of outside forces, respectively.

Negal’s paper What is it Like to be a Bat is not a thought experiment but can used to here to explain the locality of phenomenal states. Phenomenal states are private states which it is like to be that which is conscious. A bat can be said to be conscious of itself in such an alien like form from us according to Nagel. Nagel was an anti-reductionist when he wrote his paper. He states that “careful examination will show that no currently available concept of reduction is applicable to it.” He goes on to explain that one cannot pretend to be a bat; “hanging upside down in an attic” and that “extrapolation” will not give us the feeling of what it is like to be a bat by observation.

While Nagel does not mention Local Supervenience it is obvious that his attitude towards the private nature of human and bat consciousness is real. When sonar property A changes, sonar property B must change as well. However because we can never know what it is truly like to be a bat because of the private nature, or the locality of the bats consciousness. That is why I chose to discuss Nagels What it is Like to be a Bat in this section, because of the locality of brain/mind states within both the human and the bat.

If supervenience needs a physical theory of everything, at the time of this writing, it is far from reality. As Stephen hawking put it in his latest book, the theory of everything might, or must really on model-dependent realism which states that several theories of reality must co-exist with one another. Local supervenience is thus a form of a theory of causation which occurs within our limited universe, a result of the anthropomorphic or evolutionary stance on our minds/brains.

5.3 Global Supervenience

The use of modal logic is the basis for the understanding of global supervenience. For any possible world, B properties must supervene on A properties. That is for any possible world W1 or W2, etc, if and only if B properties supervene upon A properties they can be said to be globally supervenient.

This logic, which borders on a thought experiment is the basis for the argument that any world (universe) that is exactly like ours must have properties that supervene the same way. We can adapt this concept to phenomenal states and properties because it seems that these states depend on B (phenomenal property) in order for A (neural correlates/neural firing patterns) to exist the same exact way they do in our world.

6. Emergentism

Emergence theory became more concrete as the logical positivists failed at reducing chemistry to physics. They had an even harder time at reducing biological processes to the atomic level. (Blitz, 156) Phenomenal state X, such as seeing red or feeling a pain is a new property from the lower levels of emergent properties of brain states. Emergentism holds that property X (redness) cannot be reduced back down to the neural level. The neural pattern which produces X in V1 and V4 is an emerged property of those patterns, meaning that it is a new property in itself which the lower levels cannot fully explain. For example the neural network which in reductionism and supervenience can be explained by lower levels respectively, cannot be fully explained at the higher level of phenomenal property X.

Emergentism has a history of physicalism when dealing with levels of reality and levels of brain states. Phenomenal properties are thus new properties where emergent laws are essential. Phenomenal properties, if emergent are then irreducible to the lower level of the bundles of neurons which produce it. That is there can be no logical necessity that the lower levels would give rise to the higher levels, however the higher levels are necessarily law like in that a new physical property is born.

Downward causation is acceptable and expectable, however, especially in biological organisms. This downward causation is thus a part of the property of the top emergent level, and need not lead us into supervenience or reductionism. It is striking that by this time of writing there is no explanation as to the workings of the downward causation of phenomenal properties and consciousness, though it does seem clear that consciousness has a downward causation on brain processes, for if it did not I could not be writing this paper because there would be no downward causation of my conscious self.

6.1 Epistemological Emergence

Human knowledge of complex systems is limited in epistemological emergence, in that we cannot describe a system fully because of our lack of epistemic information about the component parts of such a system. We may be able to understand what the complex system does however, but if we look at its component parts we cannot predict for certain what the outcome would be because of our epistemic limitations. 3

For example a plane stripped of wings cannot fly, but how would we know that the cylinder needs wings in order to fly (the emergent property of putting wings on a plane) if we didn’t know anything about wings. We can also take for example the component parts of the brain. If we look at neural bundles we cannot predict exactly the outcome of the system of neurons once they are firing. We would need to be inside the brain to understand exactly that which the complex system’s emerged properties are once up and running. Looking at the bundles of neurons gives us very limited knowledge according to epistemological emergence about their role in brain processes.

6.2 Ontological Emergence

Ontological Emergence would have huge implications for metaphysics and complex systems theory. If true it would show us that mereological supervenience is wrong; on the basis that quantum mechanics is far more unpredictable then the “macro” nature of particles and atoms which the supervenience philosophers rely on. (Silberstein, McGeever, 1999) A couple of striking and profound statements by Silberstein and McGeever are; Ontological emergence means monism without reductionism…either everything is reducible to fundamental physics or it is not…then the entire world of classical objects is somehow ontologically emergent. In short, ontological emergence is most probably a real feature of the world.

If ontological emergence is true, and it is completely compatible with monism we have an interesting situation on our hands. For one, it would be impossible to use basic atomistic physics to explain the world in a reductionism or supervenience way. The mind would then be ontologically emergent in a monistic worldview. However we a have a problem. The thought experiment about teleportation and identity would undermine quantum mechanics if all that needs to be copied would be the macro structure of the body and brain.

Classically this thought experiment is meant to show that there are problems with identity, that teleportation somehow messes up individuality and the self, but I will leave that there and use teleportation to defend supervenience. The reason I want to use teleportation as an argument for supervenience is because it seems to me that all that needs to be copied is the marco-particles and their positions.

Those that want to argue if one person is the same or not after the teleportation can continue on with their claims and arguments, but I don’t want to get into that here. Moving on, if all that needs to be copied is the information of the macro then supervenience still has a place ontologically. It would seem to me that if you teleport someone and forget to say, transport the Broca's area of the brain the traveler would then lose the ability to speak, not because of Silberstien’s quantum mechanics, but because of a huge macro structure which is missing which is part of a person’s identity. (Blitz, 1992 )

7. Conclusion: Phenomenal States as Supervenient-Emergent Properties

I want to try to reject Cartesian Dualism and epiphenomenal qualia while maintaining a kind of physicalist monist position. Epiphenomenal qualia has the problem of being a “by product” of the brain, which means it has no downward causation on the neuronal level. This thesis seems to be self evidently false because we know that when we feel a pain we are conscious of it and then we react to it. It is my belief that emergentism alone cannot account for the properties of phenomenal experience and needs to incorporate a kind of reduction. Supervenience is the answer to these woes because we can clearly see that one state supervenes upon another in the real world. To say that phenomenal properties are only emergent would give them a dualist like nature.

But as the Churchlands point out through their neurophilosophy the brain represents the world physically in many different complex forms. However this does not lead to the claim that emergentism is at all wrong. On the contrary, the Churchland’s accounts of reduction leads them to “networks” and “clumps of neurons”. To me this points to an anti-reductionist theory of phenomenal properties and states. Bridge laws between levels of reality make more sense even in light of some theorists who hold that emergent properties cannot be predicted by the underlying levels.

Once science has bridged the laws required to connect each level of reality to each other it seems evident that supervenience-weak-emergentism is the logical outcome. The human brain will be fully understood by neuroscientists in the near future and the explanatory gap will be bridged and might require a new set of laws dealing with physics. Either way phenomenal properties supervene on physical properties of the brain; meaning that the physical might just explain what we commonly (out of intuition which is similar to vitalism) refer to as unphysical will reveal itself as physical after all.

References

Balog, Katalin, & Notaro, Kris. (2010, August 23). Zombies, human sonar, and transhumanism: an interview with Rutgers professor Katalin Balog. Retrieved from http://ieet.org/index.php/IEET/more/notaro20100823

Blitz, David. Emergent Evolution: Qualitative Novelty and the Levels of Reality. Boston: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1992. Print.

Block, Ned. (1978). Troubles with functionalism. Retrieved from http://w3.uniroma1.it/cordeschi/Articoli/block.htm

Chalmers, David. In (T. Alter & S. Walter, eds) Phenomenal Concepts and Phenomenal Knowledge: New Essays on Consciousness and Physicalism. Oxford University Press, 2006.

Chalmers, David. 1996. The Conscious Mind: In Search of a Fundamental Theory. New York: Oxford University Press.

Chalmers, David. Philosophy of Mind: Classical and Contemporary Readings (2002). Oxford University Press. pp. 150-162

Damasio, Antonio. (2010). Self comes to mind. New York: Pantheon Books.

Dennett, Daniel. (1991). Consciousness explained. New York: Back Bay Books.

Churchland, Paul. (2007). Neurophilosophy at work. New York: Cambridge University Press. pp. 161-197

Feser, Edward. (2005). Philosophy of mind: a short introduction. Oxford: WS Books.

Garson, J. (2009, October 2). James . Retrieved from http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/logic-modal/

Hameroff, Stuart. (n.d.). Overview: could life and consciousness be related to the fundamental quantum nature of the universe?. Retrieved from http://www.quantumconsciousness.org/overview.html

Jackson, F. (1982). Epiphenomenal qualia. Retrieved from http://instruct.westvalley.edu/lafave/epiphenomenal_qualia.html

Kim, J. (1998). Philosophy of mind. Boulder: Westview Press.

Koch, C. and Tsuchiya, N. (2007) Attention and consciousness: two distinct brain processes. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 11 (1). pp. 16-22.

Levin, Janet . "Functionalism." Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Metaphysics Research Lab, CSLI, Stanford University, 6 4 2009. Web. 8 Mar 2011. <http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/functionalism/>.

Loar, B. (n.d.). Phenomenal states (second version). Retrieved from http://www.nyu.edu/gsas/dept/philo/courses/consciousness97/papers/loar.html

Manzotti, Riccardo. 2008. A Process-oriented View of Qualia in Wright, Edmond, ed. The Case for Qualia. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press. pp.175-190.

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Philosophy, 25/07/2005. Web. 21 Nov 2010. <http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/supervenience/>.

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1 Loar calls what it is like “phenomenal qualities” which he believes to be inside the brain, while others like David Chalmers would describe what it is like to be “qualia” which for Chalmers is the leading conflict between the mind/body problem creating what is known as the “explanatory gap” (Levine, 1983). See David Chalmers, The Conscious Mind: In Search of a Fundamental Theory (New York: Oxford University Press, 1996)

2 See the Stanford online Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy at http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/supervenience/#4.1 where it is argued that there is a key difference between strong and week supervenience.

3 See http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/properties-emergent/ for an overview of emergent properties.

All Images: http://alexgrey.com/

Kris Notaro, a former IEET intern, served as the IEET's Managing Director from 2012 through 2015. He is currently an IEET Program Director. He earned his BS in Philosophy from Charter Oak State College in Connecticut. He is currently the Bertrand Russell Society’s Vice-President for Website Technology. He has worked with the Bertrand Russell A/V Project at Central Connecticut State University, producing multimedia materials related to philosophy and ethics for classroom use. His major passions are in the technological advances in the areas of neuroscience, consciousness, brain, and mind.



COMMENTS

@ Kris..

Please note, this is not a criticism, but I would like to question again your use of Nagel’s analogy of “what it is like”, because I still find this unconvincing, and really just an assumption that we, (and Nagel), take for granted, (formal conscious reflection “being” what it is - quizzing purely ontological, is personal, and “it’s” thoughts therefore not particularly rational)?

(Ps. This is a lengthy article and forgive me as I have not read all of it as yet - however I feel the need to make comment here and once again regarding the “hard problem” of qualia, and our conceptions/misconceptions of what this actually is. - maybe it is best also to add comments/questions in smaller instalments anyhow?)


“The prediction is that neuroscience will render qualia and most of its associated theories wrong, leading to a purely physicalist account of the mind.”

I “think”, (not feel), the above is logical and predictably correct because, I “feel(?)” that the questions surrounding meaning of both consciousness and qualia are wrong from the outset, (metaphysical contemplation/rhetoric while useful to determine important questions, can also lead us in the wrong directions), ie; the confusion and conflation of “thoughts” as “feelings”, and perhaps even vice versa? - for example..

Another example of the “hard problem” is the notion of propositional attitudes. These are the feelings one gets when having an attitude towards a proposition. A sentence that claims something like an idea or theory can be said to be a proposition with a certain “what it is like” to have this feeling. Thus propositional attitudes are phenomenal states which need explanation.

In the philosophy of mind many theories have been conjured up about the nature of propositional attitudes, but once you look into neuroscience you will find that they still remain a kind of a mystery, for an attitude towards a proposition or sentence has yet to be explained by means of the neural correlates of consciousness.

”.. This is tantamount like that of color experience because not only do we not understand the neural nature of what it is like to experience a certain experience, but we also do not know the neural nature of what it is like to experience propositional attitudes.”

And moreover, by association, these “experiences” may be deduced as similar/same in nature, and thereby “reduced” to the same processes, (not merely mechanism), of the firing of neurons in a complex neural network? So, my meaning is.. there is no “singular” experience of “what it is like” to see Red, and certainly no “singular” experience to be found/correlated with individual words or symbols at all - this is a “Red” herring, (or wild goose chase..  *he then proceeds to imagine chasing geese in farmyard - with or without fear/anger/indifference towards geese)?

There is also intimation from the above that involves sensation/feelings, (non-physical), as prerequisite for “all” experience? Yet what are the feelings associated with seeing “Red” and “Redness”?.. none, if hardly any at all, and if any, these feelings will be associated, (chemicals aside), by past experience and supported by memory, (apperception)? Can you honestly state that you actually “feel” anything when you see the colour Red - I cannot, and the more I think deeply about this, the more that the superimposed “experience” of Red, (“what it is like”), appears as totally “non-existent”? - However, my “witness” of Red colour reflecting from an object in front of my eyes is real enough, but on the whole is impartial mechanism/process, (is thus reducible without any metaphysical mind/body qualification)?

So too with propositional attitudes towards words, symbols, sentence construction, syntax and meaning associated with this same problem. These strings of symbols and words may “conjure” emotional stimuli and “thoughts”, yet these symbols are not experiences in and of themselves, but reactions are again due and reliant upon individual past experiences, and especially associated with fixed attitudes towards these and similar past events, (example: Red reminds me of blood, past accidents, horror, fear, anxiety, confusion and etc - all of which can be attributed to associated hormonal and chemical release in the brain - amygdala)? Fear being a result of universal chemical, (adrenaline/cortisol), reaction to confusion, uncertainty and anxiety?

Therefore, there are no sensations, (“what it is like”), which may be correlated directly with any words and symbols and meaning, as these are apperception(?) - yet we must assume that individual neurons fire in response to stimulation of senses, (seeing colours and words/symbols), thus also triggering associated memories, and all of this neural network activity then “competing” for the attention of “formal” consciousness? No wonder it is as impossible to find the neural correlates to individual quales/qualia - and thus “singular” neural states attributed to “experience - what it is like” is a myth, (although it must be possible to isolate individual neurons and trigger all associated stimuli eventually - yet this will not help to substantiate “what it is like”, as no one neuron is particularly responsible - and I presume you will agree with this)?

All of this supports/substantiates the understanding that possession of Self-reflexivity is crucial for the supposition of both consciousness, (colloquial), and for any acceptance of the existence of qualia/quales, (goes without saying, yet this is key reflection/reminder - without Self-reflexivity mechanism, then metaphysical, (mind-body), qualification for consciousness/qualia is irrelevant and neither really exist)?

To surmise.. there is no “what it is like” removed of brain chemical stimuli, as what remains are purely “thoughts” and not feelings at all? “experience” of Red can therefore be reduced to mechanism, and any resulting thoughts to process, (eventually)?


How does a neuron react to colour stimuli?
How does a neuron have memory to react consistently in certain ways, (to be useful)?

I have no answers, I only have philosophy of mind.. but neuroscience does help explain these mechanisms, if not comprehensively, even today.


Neuronal memory allocation

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

Spectral sensitivity

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

 

 

 

@ CygnusX1,

Thanks for the thought provoking response!

When I see the color red, to me, at least, I experience the qualia/quale of redness. Or am I experiencing my neurons? Or perhaps a bit of both. I do not know.

To me, when I experience any word, I do feel what it is like to think about that word or proposition. I am not sure what you mean by “there are no sensations, (“what it is like”), which may be correlated directly with any words and symbols and meaning, as these are apperception(?)”

However I agree with most of your comment of course.

Thank you - Kris

@ Kris.. thanks

My phrase needs more qualification as it is misleading.
Certainly sensations give rise to/are “feelings”, (Qualia of tasting fruit etc), but these sensations then proceed to supervene upon, (as you say), or provoke thoughts such as Nagel’s “what it is like” which only serves to divert the investigation away from physicalism.

Thus..

“there are no sensations, (“what it is like”),

My meaning was to infer that Nagel’s argument based upon “what it is like” are comprised of purely emergent/phenomenal thoughts, stimulated by sensations yes, but mistaken as feelings instead of “thoughts” - (jeez, it’s difficult to be absolutely precise in these conversations).

To make progress with the investigation of the “Hard problem” Qualia, (and even the reality of this terminology is up for further debate) - we must attempt to disassociate thoughts from brain stimuli, in the hope of replicating/assimilating these Human “qualities” and sensations, (qualia), across different substrates?

What are the qualities/qualia of Red?
And moreover again, can we agree, would Human minds be happy/content, know the real difference, if default values are derived/devised for Red across diverse persons/minds and substrates?
If default values are acceptable, (and I believe they are and will be), then “what it is like” for individual minds is still then supported by their own past experiences/memory and apperception, (as I infer above), and thus by extension qualities of sensation may be further supported/qualified purely by the physical/material?

Where you say..

“Brain states are said to be phenomenal states when one feels what it is like to experience a feeling, such as pain. The reason brain states can be understood as phenomenal states (qualia) is because neuroscience has yet to bridge the gap between mind and body.”

I can now see where my understanding diverges from yourself, as I understand qualia/quales as “physical” properties/memories associated with neurons/synapses which fire consistently and which then provoke phenomenal thoughts, (of Red/pain), yet such mechanism where the shade and hue, (quality), must be consistently upheld, (therefore qualia is supported by physicalism and is not phenomenal)?

Yet “what is it like” to feel pain, or moreover different types of pain? Why is pain bridging from physical to phenomenal at all, aside from the support of associated “thoughts”, (non-qualia)?

To clarify further: again, (like Red/Redness), what qualifies this “what it is like” to feel pain, as all pain can be accounted for by physical process and any resulting phenomenal “thoughts” of pain are not feelings at all? An ice cube feels like it burns if you close your eyes - the pain sensation is the same, even for different parts of the body, before the mind then realises and distinguishes other environmental factors? Yet pain also appears less intense for areas of the body less susceptible, (with less nerve endings).

“What it is like” to burn your hand, or burn your ear is thus no different in the physical sense, the phenomenal state/thoughts of these differences are by discrimination by mind/thoughts.

Please note at this stage. I am not prejudiced against the mind/body problem at all, it is of utmost importance to assimilate this phenomenon, yet objectively through physical investigation of process of brain/mind.


We need some new/evolving thought experiments regarding the mind/body dilemma?

Forget Nagel!? If you squeeze or pull the wings of a bat, it will most likely screech in pain and try to bite you.. “what is it like”? I would say not much different in sense mechanism/brain process from you or I, (supports physicalism)? The rest of the intellectual argument is irrelevant and moot?

“Mary”, I would bet, is “experiencing”, (physically), the real world of colour, and most likely the “elation”, (phenomenal “thoughts” expressed as emotion and mistaken as “feeling”), at seeing this for the very first time. Thus, and regardless of objective thoughts - the experience is “physical” and is further memory/catalogued by neurons regardless of her phenomenal intellect and knowledge?

Chalmers’ P-Zombie is useful I think, (regardless of Dennett’s dismissal), because it implies that brain states and qualia are physical and yet may still reside in complex neural nets which may be devoid of any Self-reflexivity? This helps to support your argument also regarding how physical states impose upon/infer phenomenal states, which frames this “Hard problem” and impasse and how to view it?

I would say that a P-Zombie could/does possess all the qualities, sensations of a Human - and is precisely what technology may end up with prior to successfully transmigrating/creating Self-reflexivity, (a feedback process)? A P-Zombie “feels” pain qualia, yet has no “reflexive” phenomenal thoughts, (ie; anxiety), towards it - is therefore highly dispassionate?


Your article is very technical, and quite difficult to grasp for n00bies like myself. Yet I understand enough to agree that “Brain states” give rise to phenomenal thoughts, which then serve to “supervene” upon Brain states? Yet more feedback mechanism/process, and would we want/believe to have it any other way?

@Kris
I’d be interested in your thoughts on the relationship between consciousness and memory. I’m asking because of what you wrote about how some research seems to suggest that attention and consciousness are not the same thing, and in particular the “experiments where animals are flashed quickly in front of a subject whose brain recognizes and attends to the flashes yet the subject is not conscious of it”. Is this really demonstrating anything other than that the subject did not form a clear memory of the event?

Related to this is the idea that the past is essentially a psychological construct. I seem to have memories of the past, and the fact that I can say that I am “conscious” now seems to suggest that I am likely to be forming some kind of memory that I might be able to recall later, but it is not totally clear to me that the past and future actually exist, and what that might mean. We have to assume they do in order to live, of course, but it does seem to me that the “mystery” of consciousness may be part of a wider mystery about the nature of time and our relationship to our past and future selves. I guess I’m wondering to what extent these (arguably wider) mysteries are being taken into account in the literature you’ve cited, and whether they may be more inextricably linked with the so-called hard problem of consciessness than is generally recognised.

@Peter,

http://www.nyu.edu/gsas/dept/philo/courses/
consciousness08Fall/papers/2006_TiCS_Tsuchiya.pdf

Is this really demonstrating anything other than that the subject did not form a clear memory of the event? Yes - Their brain saw it but did not attend to it: “It could be contested that top-down attention without
consciousness and consciousness with little or no top-down
attention are arcane laboratory curiosities that have little
relevance to the real world. We believe otherwise. A lasting
insight into human behavior – eloquently articulated by
Friedrich Nietzsche – is that much action bypasses con-
scious perception and introspection. In particular, Goodale
and Milner [48] isolated highly trained, automatic, stereo-
typed and fluid visuomotor behaviors that work in the
absence of phenomenal experience. As anybody who runs
mountain trails, climbs, plays soccer or drives home on
automatic pilot knows, these sensorimotor skills – dubbed
zombie behaviors [49] – require rapid and sophisticated
sensory processing. Confirming a long-held belief among
trainers, athletes perform better at their highly tuned skill
when they are distracted by a skill-irrelevant dual task
(e.g. paying attention to tones) than when they pay
attention to their exhaustively trained behaviors [50].
The history of any scientific concept (e.g. energy, atoms
or genes) is one of increasing differentiation and sophisti-
cation until its action can be explained in a quantitative
and mechanistic manner at a lower, more elemental level.
We are far from this ideal in the inchoate science of
consciousness. Yet functional considerations and the
empirical and conceptual work of many scholars over the
past decade make it clear that these psychologically defined
processes – top-down attention and consciousness – so often
conflated, are not the same. This empirical and functional
distinction clears the deck for a concerted neurobiological
attack on the core problem – that of identifying the neces-
sary and sufficient neural causes of a conscious percept (see
Box 3 for Questions for future research).”

- I guess I’m wondering to what extent these (arguably wider) mysteries are being taken into account in the literature you’ve cited, and whether they may be more inextricably linked with the so-called hard problem of consciessness than is generally recognised.

The heart and breathing are examples of biological processes that we are not always aware of, in fact, during most of our living time we do not attend to breathing the rhythm of our heart, yet the brain controls these functions. There is something to be said about the weak awareness of biological processes that the brain is in control of. Some, we are not even aware of, and for most people, controlling (slowing or speeding up their heart by thinking/focusing on it is very hard)

I assume things that we are not aware of also might have a “what it is like” to them for the brain regions responsible for controlling them, however we are not conscious of those qualia.

Qualia we are not conscious of I think most defiantly play a significant role in the “hard problem of consciousness” - more later - Kris

Thanks for your comment!

@Cygnusx1: A set of properties A supervenes upon another set B just in case no two things can differ with respect to A-properties without also differing with respect to their B-properties. In slogan form, “there cannot be an A-difference without a B-difference”. - http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/supervenience/

“In philosophy and modal logic, epistemic possibility relates a statement under consideration to the current state of our knowledge about the actual world: a statement is said to be:
epistemically possible if it may be true, for all we know
epistemically necessary if it is certain (or must be the case, given what we know)
epistemically impossible if it cannot be true, given what we know
Epistemic possibility is often contrasted with subjunctive possibility (or alethic possibility), and although epistemic and subjunctive possibilities are often expressed using the same modal terms (such as possibly, could be, must be) or similar modal terms that are sometimes confused (such as may be and might be), statements that are qualified in terms of epistemic possibility and statements that are qualified in terms of subjunctive possibility have importantly different meanings.
The contrast is best explained by example. Consider the two statements:
Hitler might have been victorious in World War II
Hitler may have been victorious in World War II
Although these two statements are often confused with one another, they mean two different things: the first says something true about the vagaries of war; the second says something that is certainly false. The difference comes from the fact that the first statement—a statement of subjunctive possibility—says something about how things might have been under counterfactual conditions, whereas the second—a statement of epistemic possibility—says something about the relation between a particular outcome (a victory by Hitler) and our knowledge about the actual world (since, as it happens, we know perfectly well that that particular outcome did not actually obtain, we know that what it says is false).” - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epistemic_possibility

“A modal is an [removed]like ‘necessarily’ or ‘possibly’) that is used to qualify the truth of a judgement. Modal logic is, strictly speaking, the study of the deductive behavior of the expressions ‘it is necessary that’ and ‘it is possible that’. However, the term ‘modal logic’ may be used more broadly for a family of related systems. These include logics for belief, for tense and other temporal expressions, for the deontic (moral) expressions such as ‘it is obligatory that’ and ‘it is permitted that’, and many others. An understanding of modal logic is particularly valuable in the formal analysis of philosophical argument, where expressions from the modal family are both common and confusing. Modal logic also has important applications in computer science.” - http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/logic-modal/

Now lets turn to Chalmers:

What is relevant is simply the 1-conceivability of P&~Q. In the knowledge argument, the argument aims to directly establish the non-apriority of P⊃~Q, and so the prima negative conceivability of P&~Q. In the zombie argument itself, the claim is that it is conceivable that in the actual world, P holds but no-one is conscious. (Of course I know that I am conscious, but this is a posteriori knowledge; that issue can also be bypassed by considering only the epistemic possibility that P holds while others in the actual world are zombies.) That is, the claim is that P&~Q is primarily positively conceivable. Stalnaker says nothing to cast doubt on this claim (or the analogous claim about negative conceivability), and he says nothing to cast doubt on the inference from primary conceivability to primary possibility. So his discussion leaves this argument untouched.” - http://consc.net/papers/conceivability.html

CygnusX1 - I had a long thing typed out but lost it (good ole internet comments). Anyway, in short, it is indeed conceivable, I think, at least that “one can be stripped of their qualia and become zombies”. I have not made my mind up yet if philosophical logic leads us directly to that path though. Instead of thinking about World1 and World2, in this particular article I chose to stay with our world/universe without much thought into modal logic. My argument simply is that, using a term mostly associated with phil of sci, that emergentism and reductionism are both wrong, and that supervenience in the real world makes more sense:

So yes, Phenomenal State B supervenes on Physical Brain State A. When A occurs, B must occur as well (in consciousness[as seeing the color red]) Can A occur without B and vise versa? - well again, dealing with consciousness, yes, it is conceivable, but I highly doubt it - even in World2. If everything in brain-mind is “emergent” please think about this: phenomenal qualities are thus dualistic in nature: for they are mostly irreducible. That I think is also very very unlikely. - Kris

Please, any readers, do not confuse philosophical emergence with intelligent design for there is 0 (Zero) evidence for “Irreducible complexity associated with “intelligent design”.” simple as that. Please see:
http://consc.net/papers/emergence.pdf
for a ‘real’ clarification of weak and strong emergence.

@Kris
Many thanks for your reply. I think I was understanding something slightly different from r word “attention”, but I get the point: our brain may be massively attending to something (say our drive to work) while our “conscious” mind is entirely elsewhere.

At the same time, I still think there may be more to learn about the link between consciousness and memory. When psychologists/neurologists talk about “phenomenal experience” they seem to be referring exclusively to experiences that they can remember, or a subject reports, as having. So from an entirely third-person perspective (i.e. one with no direct access to those phenomenal experiences), and in that I include my current perspective on past events I think I have experienced (such as writing my previous comment) the only thing we really know is that there has been some kind of memory formation that is then recalled as “phenomenal experience” (i.e. something we remember as having experienced).

And what this makes me wonder is whether the so-called hard problem of consciousness can indeed be “reduced”, at least for all practical purposes, to the problem of understanding the distinction between “attention” (in the non-conscious or at least not-necessarily conscious sense described above) and memory formation. But I need to think about this more, and probably read your article more carefully, in order to have a really clear view on this.

“Figure 7.5 illustrates an example of a PET scan of an individual who is performing an object location test.  The color code is such that the brighter, redder regions indicate increased brain activity.  The most active region is the hippocampus.  In discussions of memory, the hippocampus is mentioned repeatedly because it is a major part of the brain involved in declarative memory function.”...

“Given that long term memory involves changes in gene expression, a major goal of neuroscientists is to identify the specific genes and proteins that are involved in long-term memory.  Figure 7.14 illustrates some of the genes and the proteins that are involved in long-term sensitization.  Note that cAMP, one of the second messengers involved in the short-term memory, is also involved in the induction of long-term memory.  But now, in addition to its effects on the phosphorylation of membrane channels, cAMP, through PKA, phosphorylates transcription factors such as CREB (cAMP responsive element binding protein).  Transcription factors like CREB, when phosphorylated, are capable of regulating gene expression, which leads to changes in the expression of proteins that are important for inducing and maintaining the long-term changes in synaptic strength and therefore the long term memory.

  Note that there is not a single “magic memory gene” – rather, the induction and maintenance of memory, even in a single neuron, involves the engagement of multiple genes and proteins that act synergistically to change the properties of the neurons and regulate the properties of the neuron and the strength of the synapse.  Also note that changes in gene expression do not occur all at once – there are different phases.  Some changes in gene expression occur early, some even 24 hours after the learning occurs.”
- http://neuroscience.uth.tmc.edu/s4/chapter07.html

It is obvious that memory is stored in neurons/neural nets, but does a memory = the neural net? Are NCCs the ONLY thing we will EVER discover about consciousness?

I think we pretty much have to start from our present-moment, first-person subjective experience, and then extrapolate outwards. I think the only reason we even talk and think about something called “consciousness” is that we are experiencing something in the here and now, and both our own memories of past experience and what others tell us about their experiences seem to correlate with certain mental states (roughly attention and wakefulness - but the correlation is not total, as you’ve pointed out) and not others (notably deep sleep).

There doesn’t seem to be any way to disprove the solipsistic position that everyone else, including my past and future selves, is a zombie (albeit zombies that report conscious experience just like I do), and that the only thing that exists is my resent experience (including memories of a perhaps imagined past, thoughts about an imagined future, and so on). By nevertheless rejecting solipsism (as we must) we essentially assume that if it walks and quacks like a duck it is a duck, i.e. if people report being conscious then they are conscious, and my past memories (of being conscious) are more-or-less accurate (never entirely so, as we know), and that the past and the future really do exist (though with regard to the future I tend to see multiple branches that are ontologically equivalent, rather than one future path that “will happen” and others that “won’t”. This is basically why we don’t believe in zombies.

Indeed, it seems to me that all scientific knowledge - indeed any kind of belief in external reality - relies on this kind of extrapolation and analogy, and we do well (in my view) to maintain a certain level of doubt that this is something we should actually be assuming, even if it seems impossible to live meaningfully without doing so, and I think this kind of existential doubt becomes especially essential when considering consciousness, because *by definition* consciousness is about phenomenal experience, that immediate reality that I am experiencing now, which is indeed more real (to me, now) than any model of external reality, and which provides the essential gateway for experiencing whatever external reality does actually lie beyond.

So in response your question - are NCCs the only thing we will ever discover about consciousness - perhaps the question I have is whether there is anything else that CAN be discovered, rather than merely assumed? In any case, this seems to remain a philosophical question as much as, and perhaps more than, a genuinely scientific one?

Scientists film how the brain makes memories for the first time ever:

http://sploid.gizmodo.com/scientists-
watch-how-the-brain-makes-memories-for-the-f-1509923347

@ Kris..

Thanks for the links. Am still reading, and will comment in more detail later.

However, you say..

“If everything in brain-mind is “emergent” please think about this: phenomenal qualities are thus dualistic in nature: for they are mostly irreducible. That I think is also very very unlikely. – Kris”

Even the quality of a particle/quark/gluon may be “described” as phenomenal in some sense, not being able to coherently explain these qualities fully, and especially not with clear method to fully reducing any entity to monism. OK, you may say that monism is myth? Yet more so is the myth that the cosmos may be reduced to only a “certain” and “particular” number of diverse entities, (this for me makes little sense either?) Therefore perhaps we should be content that we will not be able to fully reduce the hard problem – yet the goal is still to assimilate this – and thus if consciousness is a “Universal” given..?

Also..

“It is obvious that memory is stored in neurons/neural nets, but does a memory = the neural net? Are NCCs the ONLY thing we will EVER discover about consciousness?

Perhaps so, again this does not necessarily mean that we cannot construct an artificial mind based upon the duplication/replication of neurons and network, and assimilate this memory storage in different substrate? Data storage is the simple problem, conveying “meaning” for/between entities is the hard problem of consciousness, (colloquial), and is not reducible to physicalism alone and neurons firing as reflex? Or at least “intuition” would dispute this?

Consciousness is not the hard problem – Qualia, (sensations) is the hard problem. Yet the phenomenal problem, (dualism), is still one of “emergent mind”, (executive witness). How much control we attribute this phenomenal mind as compared with sub-conscious “physical” brain and neural activity may yet be debatable?

“Consciousness is not the hard problem – Qualia, (sensations) is the hard problem. Yet the phenomenal problem, (dualism), is still one of “emergent mind”, (executive witness). How much control we attribute this phenomenal mind as compared with sub-conscious “physical” brain and neural activity may yet be debatable?”

Short answer: Yes, it is debatable.

However, I tried to show in my article that 100 percent emergentism leads to dualism. Imagine if panpsychism is true, then what in the world do we have? A mix of supervenience/emergentism with reduction and materialism at the same time? wow - now that would be awesome.

I suppose because of some of reductionism’s early success there is a part of me that wants to see everything reduced down to it’s component parts.

However, as the airplane / ignorant person analogy shows, emergentism stands strong.

However if panpsychism is true then we have an entire new issue on our hands: consciousness as part of the universe: but why does it take massive brains like ours to experience the richness of consciousness?

Also, are there emergent qualia? If so, that means that the new emergent qualia, which in a postmodern world of absurdity in the “propositional attitude realm”, defiantly leads me to think that emergent qualia is indeed true - then wow - it cannot be reduced, therefore emergentism again stands strong in the presence of panpsychism, supervenience, and reductionism!

Though, my statement “but why does it take massive brains like ours to experience the richness of consciousness?” may be totally wrong.

However, human’s have this linguistic and visual way of showing “postmodern absurdity” in “propositional attitudes”.

So while the “The Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness” states that:

“In humans, there is evidence to suggest that awareness is correlated with cortical activity, which does not exclude possible contributions by subcortical or early cortical processing, as in visual awareness. Evidence that human and non- human animal emotional feelings arise from homologous subcortical brain networks provide compelling evidence for evolutionarily shared primal affective qualia.”

- http://fcmconference.org/img/
CambridgeDeclarationOnConsciousness.pdf

It seems to me, when it comes to propositional attitudes, we can be aware of complete and utter nonsense, along with extremely abstract ideas.

However, I tried to show in my article that 100 percent emergentism leads to dualism. Imagine if panpsychism is true, then what in the world do we have? A mix of supervenience/emergentism with reduction and materialism at the same time? wow - now that would be awesome.

However if panpsychism is true then we have an entire new issue on our hands: consciousness as part of the universe: but why does it take massive brains like ours to experience the richness of consciousness?


This position and dilemma has also been contemplated and rationalised in Human minds centuries ago, by Eastern philosophies and the Greeks. Many Greeks including Pythagoras himself visited the “East” and venerated their philosophy, and encouraged other Greeks to enquire/contemplate, so there is cause to speculate the importance of this influence on Pythagorans, perhaps even leading to Gnostic traditions of belief in Souls/material dualism also? (Plato has written of this influence).

But why? Because Human brains have evolved in complexity to “experience” emergent phenomenal (quantum?) states that gives rise/equates firstly to “mind”, then evolving this emergent special executive function of mind to reflect upon on it-Self? The mind “creates” the Self, which is substantiated by the nurture of language/symbolism “I” as a construct. The Human infant becomes “fully Self-consciousness/Self-reflexive”, (phenomenal thoughts), at around 18 months - why does it take 18 months for this to develop - this in turn leading to supervening phenomenal thoughts of Self and supported by the surrounding language of “I”?


However, I tried to show in my article that 100 percent emergentism leads to dualism.

This may be precisely the situation, (although this is a circular contemplation and merely points us back to first base, as does all of this)? Perhaps there really is “no dualism for the material Universe” only energy-matter interactions? Yet upon what “phenomenal” and irreducible functionalism and qualities/properties does this interaction rely ultimately?

What is this “consciousness” that you speak of? Can this “awareness” be reduced solely to the “function” of electro-magnetism, (and quantum) interactions between particle entities? This is why I question the validity of consciousness firstly as terminology, and secondly as phenomenal and symbolic construct. What is mind? Not a singular entity - this is no longer a valid and rational contemplation. Where does your Self-reflexivity reside in your brain - truth is NCCs cannot specify, because it is spread out across your entire neural net, or perhaps safely resides in the (correction) cerebal cortex.

Q: you may suffer extreme head injuries/coma, total amnesia - but the executive function of Self-reflexivity appears protected at all costs - a further clue for NCC?


“I suppose because of some of reductionism’s early success there is a part of me that wants to see everything reduced down to it’s component parts.”

I understand, and feel the same. This is a natural process of Human ontological reasoning?


What is a Neural Correlate of Consciousness? - David J. Chalmers

http://consc.net/papers/ncc2.html


This may be more useful.. although still somewhat old articles?

On A Distinction Between Access and Phenomenal Consciousness

http://www.def-logic.com/articles/silby011.html

Well, CygnusX1, that is indeed why it is called “the hard problem of consciousness”

If Hameroff, to Chalmers, to Koch, to the Churchlands, and all of science, including neuroscience does not know exactly how consciousness is produced, then we have a scientific/philosophical problem. However I agree with Damasio, and interestingly enough, with Buddhist’s that we live in a monist world.

We just may need new physics to understand consciousness, and I am not talking about quantum physics necessarily - perhaps something we have not discovered/theorized about yet.

@ Kris..

with emphasis..

“If Hameroff, to Chalmers, to Koch, to the Churchlands, and all of science, including neuroscience does not know exactly how consciousness is produced(?), then we have a scientific/philosophical problem.”

Is consciousness really “produced”? you may have inadvertently used this word as habit? Is consciousness really the Hard problem? Are Phenomenal states produced or emergent? If they are emergent, then it is conceivable that the potential already exists, (Phenomenal states “reduced” to individual neurons, and by themselves these states as imperceptible)?

Agreed that we cannot compete with the science/Experts who make it their full time career to investigate and write about the phenomenon, although I feel even the experts sometimes lose their direction also. Some experts feel that the search for NCC by Koch and alike is a wild goose chase, and is this really because the neural net is so massive, or because they don’t know what they are looking for.. because they are not asking/overlooking the pertinent questions?

The pertinent questions for science and research are bound to the philosophical reasoning of the subject, and the thought experiments designed to prompt the right questions are also the tools to guide research. (ps I am not sure if you have already posted the previous link for P & A-consciousness yourself somewhere at IEET, but I have certainly read it before - will return to this later)

Reductionism = tendency towards monism? And for all of the same reasoning for centuries by the likes of Vedantin, The Greeks/Pythagoreans, Buddhists and etc?

We both seem to agree with the same wants, using to some degree similar reasoning, although I rarely refer to Panpsychism I do venerate Hinduism philosophy promoting Consciousness as phenomenal, ubiquitous and omnipresent, and perhaps the very foundation for the construct of the matrix/Universe(s). This is conceivable, it cannot be ruled out as possibility, (positive/negative conceivability?)

However, mine is philosophy to view the same reasoning and by way of reducing the ancient metaphysical to the Physical/material interactions and energy-matter interactions of ALL things. Energy = matter = energy.

Therefore Kris - “IS” consciousness really the Hard Problem, if the potential for physical/metaphysical consciousness is so abundant and cannot be omitted from any complex “thinking” systems? (Qualia sensations is something different from electro-magnetic/quantum awareness, yet also is not totally unconnected, (emergentism), nor process un-reducible?)


Morpheus says it much better than I can..

“Morpheus: What is real? How do you define ‘real’? If you’re talking about what you can feel, what you can smell, what you can taste and see, then ‘real’ is simply electrical signals interpreted by your brain.”

So… perhaps… have a think… Neurons/the entire Neural net is “conscious”, (electro-magnetic/quantum “awareness”), with neurons storing memories, firing in response to sense stimuli, (Functionalism CREB and etc) - Neurons ARE conscious for want of any better reasoning? The prime mover is the Sub-consciousness, (similarity - Access consciousness?), and somehow this has evolved/resulted in the emergence, (Emergentism), of what appears to be a consolidated “Mind”?

And moreover, you say, (and I agree), that Phenomenal states, (of consciousness), arise from these Brain states, (Physicalism) which then supervene upon, (feedback), to affect more brain states. A miraculous and superb evolution! - how wondrous nature really is - The Universe has evolved to create minds which can “Reflect upon it-Self” and investigate the origins of the Universe and process. Such teleology/teology?


Re P-Zombies..

“Neo: I thought it wasn’t real
Morpheus: Your mind makes it real
Neo: If you’re killed in the matrix, you die here?
Morpheus: The body cannot live without the mind”

Yet without Self-reflexivity it can yes? So Self-reflexivity is a boon/bonus? The “Executive, (Eagleman) witness” is non-essential for vitality/existence? Can YOU live without it? Your EGO will whisper/shout/yell in your mind’s ear… Hell No! Save me.. Protect me.. Protect us both, (rather like all CEOs)?

Q: Seems that even Chalmers rules out(?) the conceivability and therefore the possibility of Functional Zombies - why?

“or because they don’t know what they are looking for”

Maybe, maybe it should resemble the search for neutrinos
https://www.google.com/search?q=neutrinos&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa;


“Kris - “IS” consciousness really the Hard Problem, if the potential for physical/metaphysical consciousness is so abundant and cannot be omitted from any complex “thinking” systems? (Qualia sensations is something different from electro-magnetic/quantum awareness, yet also is not totally unconnected, (emergentism), nor process un-reducible?)”

I have no idea, however, there are strange “metaphysical” truths in logic, found (and felt) by “consciousness”.

Can Brain Explain Mind? (David Eagleman)

http://www.closertotruth.com/video-profile/Can-Brain-Explain-Mind-David-Eagleman-/2177


What is Consciousness? (David Eagleman)

http://www.closertotruth.com/video-profile/What-is-Consciousness-David-Eagleman-/2173


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More..

Ned Block faces some tough questions

Solutions to the Mind-Body Problem? (Ned Block)

http://www.closertotruth.com/video-profile/Solutions-to-the-Mind-Body-Problem-Ned-Block-/1452


Closer to Truth - List of Participants

http://www.closertotruth.com/participants

 

 

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