sentience, flaw in scientific method


by the_truth
Tags: flaw, method, scientific, sentience
the_truth
the_truth is offline
#1
Dec21-03, 04:00 AM
P: 146
This is an abstract version of the idea of scientific method.

You percieve (Detection, not understanding). }Experiment
You understand patterns from your perceptions. } Theory

Sentience: The ability to perceive.

You can of course do experiments on your own brain and find it's properties, notice that the same occurs in other people's brains, logically assume that they are sentient aswell and assume you have found the cause of sentience. Though it would be impossible to find out how these properties cause you to be sentient.

Scientific method cannot explain how the properties of sentience cause sentience to occur. This is like asking how the properties of gravity cause gravity to occur etc etc. Except in this situation it is more relevant and cannot be ignored.

Hence a definition for this flaw in scientific method.

You cannot understand perception , you can only understand patterns based on perceptions.

And as sentience is the ability to perceive and not a pattern, it cannot be understood using scientific method.

I believe there may be an error in my judging of sentience as not being a pattern. Though as I am sure you have gatherred, sentience can be seen as a pattern and a perception, due to the fact that the process of perception and therefore being sentient is different from whatever cause of sentience, scientific method may uncover.
Phys.Org News Partner Science news on Phys.org
Simplicity is key to co-operative robots
Chemical vapor deposition used to grow atomic layer materials on top of each other
Earliest ancestor of land herbivores discovered
Canute
Canute is offline
#2
Dec21-03, 11:24 AM
P: 1,499
This is known as the 'hard problem' in consciousness studies, and also, from a different angle, the problem of the 'explanatory gap'. The 'gap' is getting from a scientific explanation to the thing thing it is trying to explain.(I like to think of it as the chasm Indiana Jones has to cross in the 'Last Crusade').

Needless to say, for the reasons you give, it is unsolved. Many think it is unsolvable, i.e. that no scientific explanation can explain consciousness, and that to think it can is to make a category error.

Time will tell, no doubt.
Mentat
Mentat is offline
#3
Dec22-03, 11:33 AM
P: 3,715
Originally posted by the_truth
You cannot understand perception , you can only understand patterns based on perceptions.

And as sentience is the ability to perceive and not a pattern, it cannot be understood using scientific method.
This may be, IMO, where the problem really lies. So many philosophers assume that sentience is something other than the patterns involved, and this either is not the case (and thus science is still relevant) or it is (and science become irrelevant, and unusable in solving this particular mystery). This was the point of Consciousness Explained, by Daniel Dennett, and of this thread.

Canute
Canute is offline
#4
Dec23-03, 05:12 AM
P: 1,499

sentience, flaw in scientific method


Philosophers don't assume this. They work it out with great care and intellectual rigour. Nearly everyone agrees that consciousness is not identical with matter. Even Dennett doesn't argue on this. I know that you like Dennett, and maybe there is something in what he preaches. However he has not yet explained consciousness.
Yahweh
Yahweh is offline
#5
Dec23-03, 06:18 AM
P: 86
The situation described is a lot like this common Paradox:
"How can the 1rst person nature of self possibly come to know the 3rd person nature of reality?"

Usually, my default answer would be "Science is the bridge between the self and external reality", or something along those lines.

There is not a flaw in the scientific method given that Sentience is reducable down to a set of Naturalistic functions. Problem solved.
Mentat
Mentat is offline
#6
Dec23-03, 10:48 AM
P: 3,715
Originally posted by Canute
Philosophers don't assume this. They work it out with great care and intellectual rigour. Nearly everyone agrees that consciousness is not identical with matter. Even Dennett doesn't argue on this. I know that you like Dennett, and maybe there is something in what he preaches. However he has not yet explained consciousness.
He never really set out to completely explain consciousness. As stated in his own book (Consciousness Explained), the point was to show what a completely physical theory of consciousness would look like...it seems pretty cool (for lack of a better term) that all of the scientific theories of consciousness, that I've read since then, could be made to fit right into Dennett's framework.

That's why I call the Hebbian cell-assemblies of William Calvin's theory (my personal favorite (currently)) the "stupid demons" of Dennett's philosophy: They fit in perfectly.
Mentat
Mentat is offline
#7
Dec23-03, 10:52 AM
P: 3,715
Originally posted by Yahweh
The situation described is a lot like this common Paradox:
"How can the 1rst person nature of self possibly come to know the 3rd person nature of reality?"

Usually, my default answer would be "Science is the bridge between the self and external reality", or something along those lines.

There is not a flaw in the scientific method given that Sentience is reducable down to a set of Naturalistic functions. Problem solved.
Well put, Yahweh. Provided you reduce all of the functions down to their constituent functions, you eventually get the exact "stupid demons" (or "stupid homunculi", he's used both terms) of Dennett's hypothesis.
Canute
Canute is offline
#8
Dec23-03, 01:24 PM
P: 1,499
Originally posted by Yahweh
The situation described is a lot like this common Paradox:
"How can the 1rst person nature of self possibly come to know the 3rd person nature of reality?"

Usually, my default answer would be "Science is the bridge between the self and external reality", or something along those lines.

There is not a flaw in the scientific method given that Sentience is reducable down to a set of Naturalistic functions. Problem solved.
What problem is solved? And how? You cannot solve the problem by simply stating that sentience is reducible to naturalist (I presume you mean physical) functions. You're not in charge of the the Universe. You have to do some research and prove it. So far all attempts have failed.

This is probably because because third-person observation cannot be applied to first-person phenomena. This is why science has not yet proved that consciousness exists, strange as it may seem.
the_truth
the_truth is offline
#9
Dec24-03, 01:40 AM
P: 146
It can be assumed that my brain is the cause of my sentient existence, but Dennet fails to provide any link between the 2, though this link cannot be found due to the 'flaw' i found. Assuming that there are no other ways to percieve reality (without divulging into lunacy) other than scientific method, it is impossible to explain consciousness.

The 'hard problem' has already been discussed for decades and it can only be assumed that scientific method cannot explain consciousness or the discussion is pointless without other input, in this case the idea that scientific method is flawed.


"There is not a flaw in the scientific method given that Sentience is reducable down to a set of Naturalistic functions. Problem solved."

I am currently perceiving and I am also human. The majority of people claim to be sentient and as they are also human I can only assume that they are also sentient. I also assume that you are human and sentient, yet you claim that sentience does not apply. This means that either, you are not sentient and thereby have no evidence of it's existence, you are ignorant or are lying. Unless of course you can explain what 'naturalistic' functions sentience can be reduced to and why these functions do not apply, hence proving that sentience does not occur.


"You cannot understand perception , you can only understand patterns based on perceptions."

This on it's own, without the 'hard problem' as it's example seems irrelevant. Though as Yahweh has suggested and may prove, sentience is a fragmented concept, I believe a better method of understanding this flaw in scientific method and it's repercussions would be to focus on abstract concepts, in this case perception.

It is 'certain' that I perceive. As I am human and you are human I assume you also perceive.


Discussion.

Journalist: Define 'to perceive'.
Scientist: The ability of a sentient being to detect the outside world.
Journalist: We ought not to use the concept of sentience, lest it be false. Define 'to perceive'.
Scientist: The ability of a brain (matter arranged in a manner which induces what we consider consciousness) to detect the outside world.
Journalist: Considerred the fact that perception is the only way for a brain to sense the outside world, is scientific method the only logical method for the brain to understand the outside world?
Scientist: 'Certainly'.
Journalist: Obviously this brain is capable of understanding perception as it can perform experiments on itself to see what processes are involved in how it percieves and how it's brain reacts to those stimuli.Journalist:
Scientist: While this can be done, the theories the brain understands from it's research are patterns and not perceptions. The brain is merely understanding more patterns based on perceptions.
Journalist: By understanding perception do you mean understanding why blue is blue?
Scientist: Yes, but not in the ambiguous manner in which you displayed that simple philosophical question. By understanding perception I mean to understand why certain things feel pleasurable and why the colour green feels green etc. To understand why sensory data is perceived.
Journalist: To understand why sensory data is perceived? That sounds stupid, obviously we will need to revert to using ideas of sentience, which we will not do.
Scientist: It is easy to understand if you are a brain as I assume you are capable of sensing things, though from the 3rd person perspective or scientific method perspective it is impossible to understand the ability to sense.
Journalist: I can see a mild relation to the idea that scientific method cannot does not allow for the understanding of perception, as there is no way an outside observer can determine the feelings of this brain. Though obviously your brain is 'wired' to react to pleasure and pain, isn't that the answer?
Scientist: How does that process enable the brain to feel.
Journalist: This question is irrelevant as you cannot understand perception and from a scientific method perspective, understanding feelings is impossible.
Scientist: Correct, scientific method yields no understanding of perception.

This discussion may be flawed: discuss.
Iacchus32
Iacchus32 is offline
#10
Dec24-03, 02:11 AM
Iacchus32's Avatar
P: 2,216
Oh my God! They don't even know why they know what they know! Hmm ... What on earth will they discover next? Perhaps Universal Consciousness or something?

Naw, that would be too easy now wouldn't it? [;)]
the_truth
the_truth is offline
#11
Dec25-03, 01:32 PM
P: 146
*******
Discussion.

Journalist: Define 'to perceive'.
Scientist: The ability of a sentient being to detect the outside world.
Journalist: We ought not to use the concept of sentience, lest it be false. Define 'to perceive'.
Scientist: The ability of a brain (matter arranged in a manner which induces what we consider consciousness) to detect the outside world.
Journalist: Considerred the fact that perception is the only way for a brain to sense the outside world, is scientific method the only logical method for the brain to understand the outside world?
Scientist: 'Certainly'.
Journalist: Obviously this brain is capable of understanding perception as it can perform experiments on itself to see what processes are involved in how it percieves and how it's brain reacts to those stimuli.
Scientist: While this can be done, the theories the brain understands from it's research are patterns and not perceptions. The brain is merely understanding more patterns based on perceptions.
Journalist: By understanding perception do you mean understanding why blue is blue?
Scientist: Yes, but not in the ambiguous manner in which you displayed that simple philosophical question. By understanding perception I mean to understand why certain things feel pleasurable and why the colour green feels green etc. To understand why sensory data is perceived.
Journalist: To understand why sensory data is perceived? That sounds stupid, obviously we will need to revert to using ideas of sentience, which we will not do.
Scientist: It is easy to understand if you are a brain as I assume you are capable of sensing things, though from the 3rd person perspective or scientific method perspective it is impossible to understand the ability to sense.
Journalist: I can see a mild relation between this idea and the idea that scientific method does not allow for the understanding of perception, as there is no way an outside observer can determine the feelings of this brain and you are an outside observer to the occurances in your brain. Though obviously your brain is 'wired' to react to pleasure and pain, isn't that the answer?
Scientist: How does that process enable the brain to feel.
Journalist: This question is irrelevant as you cannot understand perception and from a scientific method perspective, understanding feelings is impossible.
Scientist: This is because scientific method yields no understanding of perception.
********

"Oh my God! They don't even know why they know what they know! Hmm ... What on earth will they discover next? Perhaps Universal Consciousness or something?

Naw, that would be too easy now wouldn't it? [;)] "

This conversation is not irrelevant, it will help science!
Iacchus32
Iacchus32 is offline
#12
Dec25-03, 02:12 PM
Iacchus32's Avatar
P: 2,216
Concsiousness is "everything" in terms of human experience. I mean what else do we have? You turn out the lights and we enter a new dark-age.
Mentat
Mentat is offline
#13
Dec26-03, 02:30 PM
P: 3,715
Originally posted by the_truth
\It can be assumed that my brain is the cause of my sentient existence, but Dennet fails to provide any link between the 2...
But that's the point. Dennett didn't set out to explain the "link", instead he showed (in his book) that such a link is completely unnecessary as the processes of the brain are consciousness, they don't just "produce" it.

"There is not a flaw in the scientific method given that Sentience is reducable down to a set of Naturalistic functions. Problem solved."

I am currently perceiving and I am also human. The majority of people claim to be sentient and as they are also human I can only assume that they are also sentient. I also assume that you are human and sentient, yet you claim that sentience does not apply. This means that either, you are not sentient and thereby have no evidence of it's existence, you are ignorant or are lying. Unless of course you can explain what 'naturalistic' functions sentience can be reduced to and why these functions do not apply, hence proving that sentience does not occur.
Wrong. What if a scientist could explain all of the processes that are sentience? Sentience would then cease being considered a seperate entity from that which science can explain: The brain.

Discussion.

Journalist: Define 'to perceive'.
Scientist: The ability of a sentient being to detect the outside world.
Journalist: We ought not to use the concept of sentience, lest it be false. Define 'to perceive'.
Scientist: The ability of a brain (matter arranged in a manner which induces what we consider consciousness) to detect the outside world.
Journalist: Considerred the fact that perception is the only way for a brain to sense the outside world, is scientific method the only logical method for the brain to understand the outside world?
Scientist: 'Certainly'.
Journalist: Obviously this brain is capable of understanding perception as it can perform experiments on itself to see what processes are involved in how it percieves and how it's brain reacts to those stimuli.Journalist:
Scientist: While this can be done, the theories the brain understands from it's research are patterns and not perceptions. The brain is merely understanding more patterns based on perceptions.
Journalist: By understanding perception do you mean understanding why blue is blue?
Scientist: Yes, but not in the ambiguous manner in which you displayed that simple philosophical question. By understanding perception I mean to understand why certain things feel pleasurable and why the colour green feels green etc. To understand why sensory data is perceived.
Journalist: To understand why sensory data is perceived? That sounds stupid, obviously we will need to revert to using ideas of sentience, which we will not do.
Scientist: It is easy to understand if you are a brain as I assume you are capable of sensing things, though from the 3rd person perspective or scientific method perspective it is impossible to understand the ability to sense.
Journalist: I can see a mild relation to the idea that scientific method cannot does not allow for the understanding of perception, as there is no way an outside observer can determine the feelings of this brain. Though obviously your brain is 'wired' to react to pleasure and pain, isn't that the answer?
Scientist: How does that process enable the brain to feel.
Journalist: This question is irrelevant as you cannot understand perception and from a scientific method perspective, understanding feelings is impossible.
Scientist: Correct, scientific method yields no understanding of perception.

This discussion may be flawed: discuss.
It is flawed. The scientist said that we could not understand perception because there is no way for an outside observer to determine the feelings of this brain. That is just plain wrong, as the intentional stance and heterophenomenological psychology could indeed allow for just that.
Thallium
Thallium is offline
#14
Dec26-03, 03:38 PM
P: 263
Perception is related to imagination. And look what Einstein said: "Imagination is so much more important than knowledge." I agree with this. If we did not use our perception while performing a scientific experiment, we would perhaps be inhibited to think anything else than the result of the experiment. With me?


Perception helps us and allowws us to understand the world, although not the perception alone.
the_truth
the_truth is offline
#15
Dec26-03, 03:58 PM
P: 146
What's your point? If we somehow manage to prove that sentience does not exist, when all this time we have believed that we are sentient that we will all suddenly become soulless animals again and go back to hunter gatherring? I think if you cannot answer a simple question your methods of reasonning are flawed. I also think that if you refuse to answer a question out of fear when there is no real damage that can be caused by even considerring the question for a moment, then you are superstitious.

Stop being a silly head.
the_truth
the_truth is offline
#16
Dec26-03, 04:54 PM
P: 146
Mentat, unfortunately you have misunderstood my point.


The function which causes 'sentience' is an understood pattern.

Sentience is the ability to perceive.


Dennet deemed finding this link is unnecessary because the understanding of the cause of sentience is different from the ability to percieve.

The cause of sentience is a pattern(theory) and sentience is perception.

Dennet says that finding a link between patterns and perceptions is unnecessary as both are different definitions. Yet we use scientific method to create links between patterns and perceptions and scientific method is incapable of finding links between them. This incapability of scientific method to find links between patterns and perceptions is it's flaw as was discussed at the very beginning. The 'hard problem' is just an example of this. Of course it can be argued that scientific method creates patterns to correlate with perceptions and not find links between them, though scientific method does create links between paterns and perceptions, just ones that have to be created and so the definition is correct.


"Wrong. What if a scientist could explain all of the processes that are sentience? Sentience would then cease being considered a seperate entity from that which science can explain: The brain."

Correct, if a scientist could explain all of the processes that are sentience, sentience would then cease being considered a seperate entity from that which science can explain: The brain. Unfortunately we do not know whether a scientist can explain all of the processes that are sentience. This is a subject in discussion. The official subject in discussion was of course the flaw in scientific method, this 'hard problem' was only meant to show you how i noticed this error and display it for an interesting discussion.

I noticed you wrote wrong to begin with in the paragraph, this is the action of a troll. I am here to discuss this, not make outragrous claims and defend myself in some petty personal ego battle. Though you may claim I am wrong or right as much as you wish, it is best not to follow it up with a quibbling 'what if' scenario.


Your next paragraph was more beneficial.

"It is flawed. The scientist said that we could not understand perception because there is no way for an outside observer to determine the feelings of this brain. That is just plain wrong, as the intentional stance and heterophenomenological psychology could indeed allow for just that."

Despite your original misunderstanding you have displayed an important point. By 'no way for an outside observer to determine the feelings of this brain' of course I meant for an outside observer to acually be that brain, which is of course impossible. Though it is still possible for somone who is sentient to experience sentience as a brain could, though of course the experiences and thoughts will not be exactly the same and a non-sentient being would be incapable of experiencing sentience without actually becomming sentient and so ruining the experiment.
Thallium
Thallium is offline
#17
Dec27-03, 06:45 AM
P: 263
Originally posted by the_truth Stop being a silly head.
Who was that a comment to?

Would you stop calling people names and do something (i)intelligent(/i)?
Thallium
Thallium is offline
#18
Dec27-03, 06:48 AM
P: 263
Originally posted by the_truth
I also think that if you refuse to answer a question out of fear when there is no real damage that can be caused by even considerring the question for a moment, then you are superstitious.
Paranoia.


Register to reply

Related Discussions
a better scientific method? General Discussion 4
scientific method help Biology, Chemistry & Other Homework 0
Scientific Method? General Discussion 17
The Scientific Method General Discussion 55