Register to reply

The ghost in the machine

by RAD4921
Tags: ghost, machine
Share this thread:
RAD4921
#1
Oct12-04, 07:44 PM
P: 314
It seems logical to me that consciousnes existing at the molecular level (cells) strongly implies that consciousness exist at all levels of matter, including atomic and subatomic levels
Phys.Org News Partner Science news on Phys.org
Apple to unveil 'iWatch' on September 9
NASA deep-space rocket, SLS, to launch in 2018
Study examines 13,000-year-old nanodiamonds from multiple locations across three continents
cogito
#2
Oct12-04, 07:54 PM
P: 73
Quote Quote by RAD4921
It seems logical to me that consciousnes existing at the molecular level (cells) strongly implies that consciousness exist at all levels of matter, including atomic and subatomic levels
First, what reason do you have for thinking that the antecedent of that conditional is true? What reason do you have for thinking that consciousness exists at the molecular (or cellular) level (by which I take you to mean that individual molecules or cells are capable of having conscious states)?

Second, even if the antecedent is true, why does that "strongly imply" the ubiquity of consciousness? It is obviously not the case that the truth of the antecedent entails the truth of the consequent (in fact, it seems, prima facie, like a whole/part fallacy). So, what type of inference are you making?
RAD4921
#3
Oct12-04, 08:08 PM
P: 314
At what level does consciousness initiate itself? If not at the cellular level than I ask you at what level? If consciouness is not permeated throughout all of the universe then one must take a dualistic vision of reality.

cogito
#4
Oct12-04, 08:46 PM
P: 73
The ghost in the machine

Quote Quote by RAD4921
At what level does consciousness initiate itself? If not at the cellular level than I ask you at what level? If consciouness is not permeated throughout all of the universe then one must take a dualistic vision of reality.
You seem to be a bit confused here. You seem to be claiming both that consciousness is initiated at the cellular level, and that it permeates the universe. These two claims are contradictory. If consciousness is initiated at a cellular level, then it follows that sub-cellular physical systems are not conscious. But, if sub-cellular physical systems are not conscious, then consciousness does not permeate sub-cellular physical systems. Sub-cellular physical systems are, however, part of the universe. Hence, it follows that there are some parts of the universe that consciousness does not permeate.

Anyway, I think that consciousness is a property of systems with a certain sort of functional organization. In humans, for instance, any number of changes to neurophysiology may be sufficient for destroying the capacity for consciousness. Many non-human animals show behavioral evidence of having conscious states, and these states seem dependent on having a particular functional organization in the same way that human consciousness is so dependent. I think, in short, that consciousness is an emergent property and a function of a particular type of cognitive architecture. As to what the necessary and sufficient conditions are for consciousness to emerge, I have no idea, and neither does anybody else. Nobody knows how it is the case that a hunk of meat could have conscious states. This is one of the "hard problems" of consciousness.

Further, claiming that some things in the world are conscious and others aren't doesn't commit us to dualism proper, unless we claim that consciousness is either a non-physical substance (as Descartes did), or a non-physical property of physical systems (as the property-dualists and epiphenomenalists have). We can claim both that not everything is conscious and that consciousness is a physical property (albeit a higher-order, functional property) thereby avoiding the pitfalls of dualism.
Iacchus32
#5
Oct12-04, 08:59 PM
Iacchus32's Avatar
P: 2,216
How can one be aware of different parts of one's body if, in fact there wasn't some sense of awareness there? I would suggest that (at the very least) consciousness begins at the cellular level. And thus comprised of the "living energy" therein.
cogito
#6
Oct12-04, 09:10 PM
P: 73
Quote Quote by Iacchus32
How can one be aware of different parts of one's body if, in fact there wasn't some sense of awareness there? I would suggest that (at the very least) consciousness begins at the cellular level. And thus comprised of the "living energy" therein.
Here's a similar line of reasoning: How can I be aware of that apple on the table if there isn't some sense of awareness in the apple?

Clearly, this doesn't make sense. So, why is your line of reasoning any better? I can be aware of any number of things outside my body. I can be aware of a mental image as well, but this doesn't entail either that the things outside my body are conscious, or that mental images are themselves conscious.

Whatever the case, proprioception is completely consistent with the view that consciousness is an emergent, functional property of the brain.

Further, what is this "living energy" you mention? Sounds like the elan vital to me, and I thought that went the way of geocentrism and phlogiston.
Iacchus32
#7
Oct12-04, 11:43 PM
Iacchus32's Avatar
P: 2,216
Quote Quote by cogito
Here's a similar line of reasoning: How can I be aware of that apple on the table if there isn't some sense of awareness in the apple?
Because it's certainly not an extension of our body and we don't feel it in that sense.


Clearly, this doesn't make sense. So, why is your line of reasoning any better? I can be aware of any number of things outside my body. I can be aware of a mental image as well, but this doesn't entail either that the things outside my body are conscious, or that mental images are themselves conscious.
And yet what are mental images except manifestations of consciousness?


Whatever the case, proprioception is completely consistent with the view that consciousness is an emergent, functional property of the brain.
Proprioception? What's that?


Further, what is this "living energy" you mention? Sounds like the elan vital to me, and I thought that went the way of geocentrism and phlogiston.
The energy I'm referring to here is "conscious energy." And yes, I suppose it might coincide with the elan vital argument, from what I've heard of it anyway. Basically it entails the notion of animism, correct?
russ_watters
#8
Oct13-04, 12:02 AM
Mentor
P: 22,296
Quote Quote by RAD4921
At what level does consciousness initiate itself? If not at the cellular level than I ask you at what level? If consciouness is not permeated throughout all of the universe then one must take a dualistic vision of reality.
Right now, the only thing we know for sure that has consciousness is full-humans. No duality - more like a singularity.

For both you and Iacchus32, you're making assertions and generalizations, but you're not backing them up. And I don't just mean logic: you need to show some evidence of what you are claiming. You can start by first defining consciousness, then showing evidence that it does, in fact, exist in other beings.

Here's a functional, though limited definition: consciousness is simply self-awareness. Using this definition, there is evidence that other higher level mammals (dolphins and many primates) are self-aware: they pass the mirror test. Ie, they can recognize themselves in the mirror as unique beings.

To pre-empt the inevitable, while the ability to "feel" is another definition, you need to be careful there: people often extend the concept to any response to stimuli. But there is no evidence that stimulus-response is conscious feeling.

Regarding the apple example, Iacchus, you're using circular reasoning: parts of your body have consciousness, therefore parts of your body have consciousness.

But what if they don't? What if we drop the assumption and the circular reasoning? What can we feel from parts of the body that aren't even alive - like skin (the top few layers)? How can you feel it when someone touches you if your skin isn't even alive? And how can we feel an apple if it isn't part of your body?

The answer to all of those questions is that pressure, vibration, and other sensations are passed through the dead parts like pulling on a wire transmits a force. When the sensation hits a nerve cell, the nerve picks up the feeling and transmits it through the nervous system. So then couldn't we say that since the cells of the nervous system are the only things participating in "feeling" that only they have conscioiusness (using your apparent definiton)? But then, most of the cells only act as wires, transmitting the feeling of the nerve endings - surely these don't "feel" themselves. And the nerve endings act on stimulus-response and no biologist would ever say that stimulus-response is "feeling." So that leaves us with the conclusion that "feeling" is what happens when the brain reads the signals of the nervous system and interprets them. And then, not just individual brain cells, but large sections are required to process the signals. And since different sections do different things, we're left with one inevitable conclusion: the human body contains only one consciousness.

Your finger has no more consciousness than that apple - it contains no machinery for processing real feelings.

By the way: a manifestation is an indication of the existence of something. It isn't the "something" itself. Your thoughts show that you have consciousness - they aren't themselves conscious. You inadvertently supported the wrong position...
arildno
#9
Oct13-04, 12:19 AM
Sci Advisor
HW Helper
PF Gold
P: 12,016
While a bacterium definitely has a rudimentary "map-making" skill (in that it tends to follow the gradients of "positive" chemicals and avoiding gradients of "negative" gradients), is this to be termed "consciousness"?
IMO, no; I think it would be better to see "consciousness" as an assemblage of various skills (which will include "map-making"), rather than some mysterious entity suddenly popping out of nowhere in humans (or, for that matter, a mystical essence permeating all matter).
Iacchus32
#10
Oct13-04, 01:08 AM
Iacchus32's Avatar
P: 2,216
Quote Quote by russ_watters
Right now, the only thing we know for sure that has consciousness is full-humans. No duality - more like a singularity.
Hmm ...


For both you and Iacchus32, you're making assertions and generalizations, but you're not backing them up. And I don't just mean logic: you need to show some evidence of what you are claiming. You can start by first defining consciousness, then showing evidence that it does, in fact, exist in other beings.
I am a conscious being myself (hey, at least I know this much ), in which case I ought to know a little bit about it myself, don't you think?


Here's a functional, though limited definition: consciousness is simply self-awareness. Using this definition, there is evidence that other higher level mammals (dolphins and many primates) are self-aware: they pass the mirror test. Ie, they can recognize themselves in the mirror as unique beings.
Yes, this is self-evident. Which, is no doubt a part of being self-aware, correct?


To pre-empt the inevitable, while the ability to "feel" is another definition, you need to be careful there: people often extend the concept to any response to stimuli. But there is no evidence that stimulus-response is conscious feeling.
If it was a living tissue I would say yes.


Regarding the apple example, Iacchus, you're using circular reasoning: parts of your body have consciousness, therefore parts of your body have consciousness.
No, because the apple is not conceived and/or felt as part of my body.


But what if they don't? What if we drop the assumption and the circular reasoning? What can we feel from parts of the body that aren't even alive - like skin (the top few layers)? How can you feel it when someone touches you if your skin isn't even alive? And how can we feel an apple if it isn't part of your body?
Yes, and if I scrape the outer layer(s) of my skin it doesn't hurt. Oh, and another thing, all you need is a single "living cell" to clone a fully conscious human being. So it at least must have the propensity for consciousness don't you think? Also, the body acts as a single living organism, and its energy (conscious or otherwise) is distributed and utilized by each cell throughout.


The answer to all of those questions is that pressure, vibration, and other sensations are passed through the dead parts like pulling on a wire transmits a force. When the sensation hits a nerve cell, the nerve picks up the feeling and transmits it through the nervous system. So then couldn't we say that since the cells of the nervous system are the only things participating in "feeling" that only they have conscioiusness (using your apparent definiton)? But then, most of the cells only act as wires, transmitting the feeling of the nerve endings - surely these don't "feel" themselves. And the nerve endings act on stimulus-response and no biologist would ever say that stimulus-response is "feeling." So that leaves us with the conclusion that "feeling" is what happens when the brain reads the signals of the nervous system and interprets them. And then, not just individual brain cells, but large sections are required to process the signals. And since different sections do different things, we're left with one inevitable conclusion: the human body contains only one consciousness.
Of which the whole body is the extension of.


Your finger has no more consciousness than that apple - it contains no machinery for processing real feelings.
Except that if I cut it, this is precisely where the pain is experienced.


By the way: a manifestation is an indication of the existence of something. It isn't the "something" itself. Your thoughts show that you have consciousness - they aren't themselves conscious. You inadvertently supported the wrong position...
They entail the conscious experience or sensation, of being self-aware that is.
Rader
#11
Oct13-04, 09:07 AM
P: 739
Unless all of the following are explained in physicalist terms the ghost in the machine is what experiences the world the way we assume it exists.

01=We have disassebled the human brain down to quantum tunneling, until Subjunctive Esperience in humans, is explainded by its assembled parts, there is no reason to believe that all substance is not conscious and aware in one way or another, depending upon its physcial complexity.
02=What is inside a atom for it to know how to organize and evolve matter into complex states.
03=Detailed information exchange in semiconscious states to latter be revealed in conscious states, OBE.
04=How memory can be passed between atoms and molecules, when during a humans lifetime, all this substance is replaced several times.
05=What makes inert matter come to life and what makes it die and loose it again.

The ghost in the machine can not be refutiated until these answers are found. If they are not, the ghost would only need, two qualities to experience physcial reality. Thus we come to the metaphyscial and physcial feel.
01=Transmutation of information between metaphyscial and physcial states.
02=Ability to be aware of these transmuted states.

Hence reality is experience, the ghost who knows its functional abilities wherever it is.
russ_watters
#12
Oct13-04, 12:31 PM
Mentor
P: 22,296
Quote Quote by Iacchus32
I am a conscious being myself (hey, at least I know this much ), in which case I ought to know a little bit about it myself, don't you think?
You'd think so...
Yes, this is self-evident. Which, is no doubt a part of being self-aware, correct?
Yes.
If it was a living tissue I would say yes.
But why? Again, it seems like you are using a circular definition/reasoning: living tissue is conscious, therefore living tissue is conscious. What about non-living things? A computer responds to stimuli. A virus responds to stimuli. What make something "living?" What makes something "conscious?" You're not explaining anything.
No, because the apple is not conceived and/or felt as part of my body.
But why does that matter? I have shown why I think it doesn't. If the fact that the apple isn't connected to the body is all there is to it, then you haven't logically shown anything, you've simply defined it that way. That's not good enough.
Yes, and if I scrape the outer layer(s) of my skin it doesn't hurt.
But you can certainly feel it.
Oh, and another thing, all you need is a single "living cell" to clone a fully conscious human being. So it at least must have the propensity for consciousness don't you think?
Certainly not. Why does that imply that a single cell is in and of itself a conscious being? Indeed, calling them two different things ("a single living cell" and "a fully conscious human being") implies pretty clearly to me that "a single living cell" is not a "fully conscious human being." But let me ask you this: do you hold a funeral for every skin cell and hair cell that goes down your shower drain? If they are all conscious beings, why don't you? If humans and skin cells are the same, why don't you treat them the same?
Also, the body acts as a single living organism, and its energy (conscious or otherwise) is distributed and utilized by each cell throughout.
Again, thats a contradiction: if the human body acts as a single living organism, you can't also say that it is made of separate organisms.
Of which the whole body is the extension of.
Right: one body, one being, one consciousness. [/quote] Except that if I cut it, this is precisely where the pain is experienced. [/quote] You don't need to cut it to feel it and besides, if you cut the nerves, you don't feel it. But in any case, you still haven't provided any evidence that "feeling" exists outside of the human mind. All this logic implies to me clearly that it doesn't, but if you want to assert it, fine: suggest to me an experiment that can demonstrate that a live skin cell is conscious.
They entail the conscious experience or sensation, of being self-aware that is.
Yes, and...? That still doesn't change the definition of "manifest" or support your position in any other way.

Iacchus, you've asserted it over and over again, and what you are saying could be true, but I have yet to see a logical reason or piece of evidence why it is true. Without that, you have no basis for asserting it any more than I can assert that there is an invisible purple dragon in my garage.

Now, it appears that your line of reasoning is that:
-A living thing is...?
-Any response to stimulus in a living thing is "feeling."
-Any "feeling" means a consciousness is present.

But you haven't defined any of the key terms there and you haven't explicitly laid out this line of reasoning so I'm not sure its correct (indeed, you seem to imply that everything is conscious).

I've laid out an objective definition/critereon and proposed an experiment which can allow you to objectively conclude whether something is conscious. Could you please do the same?
russ_watters
#13
Oct13-04, 12:59 PM
Mentor
P: 22,296
Quote Quote by Rader
Unless all of the following are explained in physicalist terms the ghost in the machine is what experiences the world the way we assume it exists.
"The ghost in the machine" is a computer analogy where the actions of the system deviate from the programming. If your criterea for judging "consciousness" in an object is that it displays behavior outside of what would normally be expected from an object, I'm onboard with that: No inanimate object has ever been shown to do that.
01=We have disassebled the human brain down to quantum tunneling, until Subjunctive Esperience in humans, is explainded by its assembled parts, there is no reason to believe that all substance is not conscious and aware in one way or another, depending upon its physcial complexity.
Right: the power of the human mind is (appaerntly) greater than the sum of its parts. Therefore, humans are consicous.
02=What is inside a atom for it to know how to organize and evolve matter into complex states.
Now wait - why does there have to be a consciousness for that? Indeed, consciousness implies precisely the opposite to me (and to your "ghost in the machine" analogy): if atoms simply follow the laws of the universe, that shows that they are not conscious. You could argue that there is a single consciousness that decided what those laws should be, or programmed your machine (God), but that's a different argument. If the machine is following its programming, then it is not conscious.
03=Detailed information exchange in semiconscious states to latter be revealed in conscious states, OBE.
Again, that's exploring human consciousness. It doesn't say anything about consciousness anywhere else.
04=How memory can be passed between atoms and molecules, when during a humans lifetime, all this substance is replaced several times.
Huh? Who says molecules have memory? If you're talking about how the brain stores memories, that's encoded into our DNA. Its part of our programming. That doesn't even imply that humans have consciousness, much less the atoms that make up the brain. Memory doesn't work the way you are implying.
05=What makes inert matter come to life and what makes it die and loose it again.
Who says matter "comes to life"? Since it can be shown experimentally (by every science experiment of every kind, ever) that matter never, ever behaves outside the parameters of the laws of science, that implies that it doesn't come to life.
The ghost in the machine can not be refutiated until these answers are found. If they are not, the ghost would only need, two qualities to experience physcial reality. Thus we come to the metaphyscial and physcial feel.
Indeed, the ghost in the machine itself seems to refute your assertions about it.
01=Transmutation of information between metaphyscial and physcial states.
02=Ability to be aware of these transmuted states.
What is the evidence (and context) that this happens?
Hence reality is experience, the ghost who knows its functional abilities wherever it is.
Indeed, but like I said above, only humans, thus far, have been shown to have this "ghost."
russ_watters
#14
Oct13-04, 01:02 PM
Mentor
P: 22,296
Quote Quote by arildno
While a bacterium definitely has a rudimentary "map-making" skill (in that it tends to follow the gradients of "positive" chemicals and avoiding gradients of "negative" gradients), is this to be termed "consciousness"?
IMO, no; I think it would be better to see "consciousness" as an assemblage of various skills (which will include "map-making"), rather than some mysterious entity suddenly popping out of nowhere in humans (or, for that matter, a mystical essence permeating all matter).
Agreed. And here's the pickle: I'm more willing to accept that there may well be no such thing as consciousness than that everything has consciousness. We may yet through science reduce all of human behavior to equations (I don't think we will, but its possible)!
RAD4921
#15
Oct13-04, 01:27 PM
P: 314
I cannot "prove" that consciousness exist at atomic levels (or cellular) no more than I can prove the moon is made of cheese. That is why I used the term "implies' in my original posting.

I can say that the universe is alive and thinking because WE are alive and thinking. From a wholeness point of view, if the universe is self aware in part, it is self aware as a whole.

No doubt, atoms have organized themselves into structures that have the capacity of thought and self awareness. What we define as consciosness just boils down to semantics. I think most would agree that the universe has some type of organizing principal to it and what we define as animate and inanimate objects is more a subject of opinion than fact.
Rader
#16
Oct13-04, 03:36 PM
P: 739
Quote Quote by russ_watters
"The ghost in the machine" is a computer analogy where the actions of the system deviate from the programming. If your criterea for judging "consciousness" in an object is that it displays behavior outside of what would normally be expected from an object, I'm onboard with that: No inanimate object has ever been shown to do that.
Yet humans are composed of the same material of your inanimate object, so maybe the ghost is more than an analogy. Humans deviate from there programming, thats why we are unpredictable. All objects have deviated from there programing, how else might you explain evolution.

Right: the power of the human mind is (appaerntly) greater than the sum of its parts. Therefore, humans are consicous.
Or the sum of of a human parts, are no greater than its consciousness. When we disassemble a human it is no longer conscious.

Now wait - why does there have to be a consciousness for that? Indeed, consciousness implies precisely the opposite to me (and to your "ghost in the machine" analogy): if atoms simply follow the laws of the universe, that shows that they are not conscious. You could argue that there is a single consciousness that decided what those laws should be, or programmed your machine (God), but that's a different argument. If the machine is following its programming, then it is not conscious.
Everything physcial follows the same laws, not everything physcial has the same consciousness. The ghost in the machine can contest to that.

Again, that's exploring human consciousness. It doesn't say anything about consciousness anywhere else.
Then how do you explain, when the parts were inactive, its brain remembered what never was conscious?

Huh? Who says molecules have memory? If you're talking about how the brain stores memories, that's encoded into our DNA. Its part of our programming. That doesn't even imply that humans have consciousness, much less the atoms that make up the brain. Memory doesn't work the way you are implying.
So you think your memory stored in your DNA. Well I would agree that your capacity to hit a home run might be, but there is no evidence to support why you like to hit home runs.

Who says matter "comes to life"? Since it can be shown experimentally (by every science experiment of every kind, ever) that matter never, ever behaves outside the parameters of the laws of science, that implies that it doesn't come to life.
Then how do you explain the fact you are made of matter and are alive? Or maybe I should use myself as an example. I know I am am made of matter and I am alive. You are negating the fact that this does occur.

Indeed, the ghost in the machine itself seems to refute your assertions about it.
The ghost in the machine is more real than it seems. No one can demonstrate by physcial means an explanation for any of the above, except by its presence.

What is the evidence (and context) that this happens? Indeed, but like I said above, only humans, thus far, have been shown to have this "ghost."
Physcial systems transmute from non-physcial systems. Science demonstrates to us that physcial systems are born of relationships not ever smaller physcial systems. Information is transmuted by relationships not memory bricks.

Indeed, but like I said above, only humans, thus far, have been shown to have this "ghost."
So very right you are and so its presence can not be explained, through physcial means, there is no reason to justify and all to the contrary that it does not possess all that there is.
balkan
#17
Oct13-04, 04:52 PM
P: 206
Iacchus32, it is really very simple and shouldn't require much detouring from your circular patterns:

Your arm responds to input from the world and sends electrical signals up to your brain so that you "feel" it. Your arm is not aware. It is a poly-route responsive device that is very handy and pretty accurate, but it is not aware just because you say it is...
I know you are aware of your arm and that makes it special to you ;) but your arm is not "aware" of you. It responds only to whatever input it recieves...
Preator Fenix
#18
Oct13-04, 10:08 PM
P: 40
Quote Quote by RAD4921
At what level does consciousness initiate itself? If not at the cellular level than I ask you at what level? If consciouness is not permeated throughout all of the universe then one must take a dualistic vision of reality.
That is the same as asking at what "level" does order arise from chaos.


Register to reply

Related Discussions
Ghost in my machine? Computers 13
Ghost Car, oh please! General Discussion 19
Transporting machine(actually cloning machine) General Discussion 15
Ghost in a machine ? General Discussion 25
Deep sleep ghost General Discussion 24